Media Life:Ex-Auburnite poised to release a flurry of new movie titles

Woodstock anniversary fest attracts Auburn guitar great: Dove Award could go local; Talking cat video reaching global ears
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Former Auburn resident Gareth Smith’s work will be the first thing you see on the movie screen in a string of films that are poised for release over the next few months. Smith, a Del Oro High School and Newcastle Elementary grad now living and working in Los Angeles, first made the movie-going world wake up and take notice in 2005’s “Thank You For Smoking.” His ShadowPlay creative arts studio came up with the entertaining opening titles sequence. In 2007, Smith was co-director on the AtomFilms Web splatter-comedy hit “Possum Death Spree” and the studio won much-deserved kudos for its title sequence in the hit independent film “Juno.” ShadowPlay is now on another high-profile roll. This past January, the Sundance Film Festival debuted “The September Issue,” with an opening title sequence from ShadowPlay. It’s a documentary of the making of the five-pound, September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine. Summer will see the release of “Post Grad,” a dramedy starring Alexis Bledel, of TV” “Gilmore Girls” fame. ShadowPlay titles will set the scene as the movie opens Aug. 14 around the country. The real coup for Smith and ShadowPlay, though, is working on titles for the much-anticipated “Jennifer’s Body,” written by “Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody. It’s the story of a cheerleader possessed with a passion for murder. No thawed-out possums in this one for Smith and crew but the studio will be the key credits creator. WOODSTOCK REDUX The 40th anniversary of Woodstock will be get a West Coast celebration later this year at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The free concert should attract a sea of mellow humanity to look back and, shall we dare to say, groove in fond remembrance of a festival and a time that really rocked the planet. Guitar player Leigh Stephens, whose music was a big part of those times, has been invited to perform and has passed word to Media Life that he’ll either be riffing with his old band Blue Cheer or making super-charged sounds with much the same group that he played with – and wowed – at the Summer of Love tribute concert in late 2007. Stephens, who’s best known for some sizzling fretboard frenetics on 1968’s “Summertime Blues,” is on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Top 100 guitar players. He’s also an Auburn resident. Stephens is anticipating a good crowd and good weather. About 70,000 people showed up for the 2007 tribute to music impresario Chet Helms. And the Indian summer is going to likely be washing the City by the Bay in sunshine and moderate temperatures. The event will be Oct. 25 at Speedway Meadows in the park. It’s being produced in association with Artie Kornfield, the original producer for 1969’s Woodstock in upstate New York. The whole high-powered hootenanny should draw a who’s who list of prominent musicians from the area but also a large contingent of guitarists in the audience. The event will be held in honor of Jimi Hendrix, a Woodstock headliner, and plans are to gather 3,000 guitar players together to form the world’s largest guitar ensemble to play “Purple Haze” in honor of the auspicious occasion. MUSIC AND MIRTH Too late to get the results but an Auburn-area photographer was up for an award at Thursday’s Dove Awards for Christian and gospel music. Brody Weideman is a nominee in the “Recorded Music Packaging” category as the photographer for the “Remedy Club Tour Edition” album by the David Crowder Band. Weideman goes by the professional name of Brody Harper. Weideman went to Forest Lake Christian School and his parents are Mike and Barbara Weideman of Auburn … Also on the music front, ex-Auburnite Devlin Murphy reports he has a new reggae-tinged track that could make it onto the soundtrack of a new Helen Hunt movie. Murphy’s a 2003 Placer High grad performing, composing and recording in Los Angeles … And Patrick the Cat, the Journal’s Internet star, is now an international Internet star. The talking tabby was immortalized on video by the folks at the Friends of the Placer County Animal Shelter’s Cat House rescue program. Patrick, who sounds like a human when he eats, attracted the attention of a Norwegian newspaper and the Journal supplied a Web link for the Mediehuset Nettavison to post the video on its Web site. Patrick’s video on the Journal Web site has attracted more than 5,400 viewers. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at