Feb. 18-24 , 2000
New film features U.Va., local writers
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New film features U.Va., local writers

Photo credits: Rita Dove (Fred Viebahn); Charles Wright (Photo courtesy of WHTJ-TV); and John Casey (Lynn Brubaker).

By Rebecca Arrington

The premiere of "Writers," one of the two programs filmed thus far in the new, locally produced TV series, "East of the Blue Ridge," will be screened Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in Newcomb Hall Theater, free of charge.

Sponsored by the Virginia Festival of the Book and Central Virginia's public television station, WHTJ-TV 41, "East of the Blue Ridge: Writers" taps the wealth of local literary talent and Charlottesville's love of reading and books, says the series' executive producer Conni Lombardo. "It's the people of this area who are the stars -- the writers and poets. Everyone who lives here appreciates the beauty of central Virginia. This program looks at what makes it vibrant and interesting -- and that's the people."

Key segments of the film feature U.Va. English professors. Poet Rita Dove talks about life with her writer-husband Fred Viebahn and rebuilding their Charlottesville home after a devastating fire. Novelist John Casey is filmed sculling on the Rivanna River Reservoir and explaining why he prefers Charlottesville to Rome. Poet Charles Wright discusses the inspiration he finds in his Charlottesville backyard and visits a poetry class at U.Va. Other local writers in the series include novelists John Grisham and Rita Mae Brown.

The other program, "East of the Blue Ridge: Horses," follows an entire year of equestrian activities in central Virginia.

Both programs were directed by award-winning filmmaker and Charlottesville resident Paul Wagner. Original music for 'Writers' and 'Horses' was composed and arranged by local musician and Grammy Award nominee John McCutcheon.

"If the community supports these two programs, the series could become ongoing," says Lombardo, who already has a long list for future shows, including features on presidents and wine production.

The television debut of "Writers" will be March 3 at 10 p.m. on WHTJ-TV 41 Charlottesville (cable channel 7). "Horses" will premiere that night at 9 p.m.

A portion of the funding for the series was provided by the University of Virginia Bookstore.


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