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Media Life:Donner Party film made in Placer County to blow into Sierra with storm

Crispin Glover stars in gripping, gruesome story of 1846 cannibalism; Auburn’s “Lost Rocker” Al Hendrix soon to be found in Vegas
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A big storm is rolling into the Sierra this Martin Luther King Jr. Day long weekend. And – more than fittingly – it’s projected to arrive around the time a new movie about the ill-fated Donner Party gets its regional premiere at Sugar Bowl ski resort. The film – starring Crispin Glover (“Back to the Future, “Beowulf”) and yet to snag a distribution deal – should have its screening well in front of the expected copious amounts of white stuff expected to blanket the upper regions of Placer County starting Monday. That’ll give film fans, Donner Party buffs and general history wonks a chance to view a film that Director T.J. Martin sought to gain an authentic edge two years ago by filming near the forced 1846 winter encampment. History recorded the ensuing acts of cannibalism during that long, cold winter and Glover et al will reproduce some of those grisly deeds in the R-rated film. John Monson, Sugar Bowl director of sales and marketing, said the restricted rating comes from some of the more gruesome scenes in the film. Location shooting With a working title of “The Forlorn,” the movie was shot on location in early 2008 over 2½ weeks north of Soda Springs. Much of the footage took advantage of snowy acreage and woods behind the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge. The nearby Cal Lodge, owned by the University of California, Berkeley, and Sugar Bowl, turned into housing, wardrobe, makeup and prop areas. “The Donner Party” hasn’t been officially released but has appeared at a limited number of film festivals, including Austin’s. Without a theater for showing films in Truckee, the Judah Lodge will have plenty of room for the screening and add a little snowy ambience to the occasion. Show time is 7 p.m. Sunday. Glover, who will soon be seen in the new “Alice in Wonderland,” with Johnny Depp, won’t be making an appearance. But Martin will be there with some other cast members for an introduction and a Q&A after the credits have rolled. Tickets are $10 at the door. Refreshments will also be available. “There’s a joke in there somewhere,” Monson said. Media Life will demur on that one. Ready to rockabilly With a new CD out – “Rockabilly Lovin’” – 75-year-old Al Hendrix is showing signs of a long-delayed career resurgence. Hendrix had some regional success with some 45s in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was based out of Southern California. Some of those tracks continue to filter through the rock ‘n’ roll world, especially in Europe. Now he’s getting a shot at some live shows that have eluded him for decades. An oldies rock ‘n’ roll promoter in Las Vegas has booked Hendrix for a March 31 performance at the Hard Rock Casino, backed by the house band. And if everything goes according to plan, Hendrix – who goes by the Lost Rocker tag bestowed on him by Media Life – will be back in Vegas for the big, all-star Viva Las Vegas show in April 2011. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at 530-852-0232 or gust@goldcountrymedia.com.