“Where’s Al?” That was the question on the minds of many Twin Cities cinephiles when the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival launched two weeks ago without its founding father, Al Milgrom, banging the gong that has echoed through so many opening nights. And that was our question this week as I.W. wandered the labyrinth of a St. Paul care center. “He’s great!” a nurse said brightly as she directed us to a room where Milgrom, 90, looked leonine even in a flesh-colored neck brace. Until just a few days ago, he was marooned in Germany, where he traveled in early February for his annual scouting trip to the Berlin Film Festival. Jet-lagged, he checked into his hotel but had trouble sleeping. He took an Ambien, then stumbled in the dark and fractured his neck. Surgery was successful, but he developed pneumonia. Two months later, Milgrom appears frail but mentally vibrant. He even gave I.W. a few tips on what to see at the film fest.
The James gang
What’s riskier than going out on the football field and smashing into bodies at full speed? Agreeing to do a reality series about your love life. Eric Decker, who played both football and baseball for the University of Minnesota, will star in “Love and Other Contact Sports: Eric and Jessie,” an E! series expected to debut in late summer. Decker has made a name for himself as a receiver for the Denver Broncos, but it’s safe to assume that the real draw here is fiancée Jessie James, a country singer who’s known more for her racy videos than her songs. Decker, who went to high school in Cold Spring, Minn., got engaged to the entertainer last April. The show will chronicle the couple’s wedding, which is expected to take place this summer.
More than most big-shot musicians who tour infrequently, Johnny Marr seemed to really show an appreciation for Minneapolis on Wednesday. The former Smiths guitarist started the day at Twin/Town Guitars, where he gave a little demonstration and then cordially answered questions and posed for photos for about two hours. Later that night at his gig at the Varsity Theater, Marr welcomed a guest Minneapolis musician to perform “I Fought the Law” with him: Howler frontman Jordan Gatesmith, who happens to be the beau of Marr’s daughter, Sonny Marr, but instead was introduced by the star of the show as “one of my favorite musicians.”
A spoonful of Mary
Tuesday’s performance of “Mary Poppins” at the Orpheum Theatre had an unusual and very noticeable assortment of expectant mothers. I.W. wondered if the moms-to-be wanted to get a fairy nanny’s blessing to ensure that their kids would be well-behaved. “It can’t hurt, can it?” said Kelly Danielson of Little Canada. She is due May 6. “Mary’s so magical with kids, maybe some of it will rub off on us,” she said. Her husband, Chris, nodded.
It’s free, take one
Tuesday during World Book Night, 25,000 volunteers across the country handed out 500,000 special editions of 30 different titles. Up in Duluth, Lucie Amundsen carried a chicken purse and brought along her 9-year-old son, Milo, to help break the ice. “When approaching strangers on World Book Night, there’s a disquieting for a few seconds just before people get it,” she said. “You’re not selling anything, you’re not panhandling, it’s just a free paperback – no strings attached.” At Edina High School, student Emma Westbrook handed out copies of “Looking for Alaska” by her favorite author, John Green. And in Jerusalem, which technically doesn’t celebrate World Book Night, former Minnesotan Michael Dickel left copies of his own book for his favorite barista. “Here’s to reading,” he said.