The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The screen rights to Eastern Kentucky University creative writing professor Derek Nikitas‘ novel Pyres have been optioned by Andrew Fierberg of Vox3 Films, which has produced films such as this year’s Rage starring Judi Dench and Jude Law.
The 2007 novel is about a rebellious teenage girl dealing with criminal conspiracies surrounding her father’s death and the detective investigating the murder. The book was nominated for an Edgar Award, one of the top honors in mystery writing, for best first novel. The screenplay is being developed by writer and director James Ponsoldt, whose first feature film was Off the Black, a Sundance Festival official entry starring Nick Nolte.
Nikitas’ next novel, The Long Division, is coming out in November.
Here’s a slide show of this year’s new Kentucky Chautauqua performers. Mouse over the bottom of the slide show to get controls. Click on the little comment cloud to the left to activate captions (if you want captions on this show, it’s probably best to go to the large version of the show). If you click on a photo, it will take you to a larger version of it at Picasa, and you can click the link at the bottom left of the slide show window for a larger version of the whole show.
We spent Monday at the Lexington History Center checking out the new performers on the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Kentucky Chautauqua program.
Chautauqua performers present significant characters from Kentucky’s history in 45-minute presentations to groups that book them. The roster includes everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Grandpa Jones.
This year’s additions to the lineup include four 19th Century figures and one unforgettable star from the 20th Century. Here’s a look at them, in order they were presented.
Justice John Marshall Harlan, presented by Edward Smith — A glass of bourbon in hand, Harlan regales the audience with an often funny chat about the development of his political and legal career. Along the way, we get tidbits like the fact that Supreme Court Justices didn’t have offices in the 19th Century. The main point of the presentation though is exploring how Harlan, a former slave owner, turned out to be the dissenting vote on numerous Civil Rights cases, including Plessy vs. Ferguson, which upheld segregation.
Billy Herndon, presented by Robert Brock – Herndon was Abraham Lincoln’s law partner in Springfield, Ill., up until the time he became President and, like Lincoln, he was a native Kentuckian. In his presentation, Herndon speaks passionately about the man he hoped would make good on his promise to come back and pick up the law practice and whose biography he gave his life to writing. Brock, a Henry Clay High School and University of Kentucky, is director of Kentucky Repertory Theatre at Horse Cave.
Johnny Green, presented by Ethan Smith — Johnny Green was one of the surviving members of the Orphan Brigade, a Confederate troupe that endured some of the harshest conditions the Civil War had to offer. In the presentation, Green offers details about life as a soldier in the War Between the States, some stories told with a distinctly youthful vigor, his rationale for fighting on and his deep desire to return home to Kentucky.
Rosemary Clooney, presented by Bet Stewart – She was the woman who put the Clooney family name on the map in her career as a chart-topping singer and movie star. In Endangered Singer, Stewart focuses on the turbulent life that bubbled underneath her marquee career, including a failed marriage and drug addiction, and how she navigated her way to happiness. Stewart read a lot and talked to people who knew Clooney, including her brother Nick Clooney, to develop the piece. She is director of Cincinnati’s Intuition Theatre.
Lucy Audubon, presented by Kelly Brengelman – Audubon was the wife of famed bird expert John J. Audubon, and apparently it was not easy to be married to him. Brengelman’s presentation recounts long periods of time being separated from her husband, often living on the brink of poverty, as he pursued his work. He eventually achieved timeless fame with the publication of Birds of America. Brengelman is an actor who lives in Midway.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich