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May 2, 2013

Britain’s Pinewood Studios Opens Its Branch In Atlanta

By Christina A. Cassidy

Associated Press

Atlanta (AP) The British film studio that’s home to the James Bond movie franchise announced plans Monday for its first U.S. film production facility, at a site near Atlanta.

The large-scale film complex will be called Pinewood Atlanta, and Pinewood will manage the facility under an agreement with a group of private investors. Plans call for the studio to be developed on 288 acres (116 hectares) south of Atlanta in Fayette County and initially include at least five soundstages as well as production offices.

``Today’s agreement is another step forward for the Pinewood brand internationally,’’ said Ivan Dunleavy, CEO of Pinewood Shepperton PLC, which has studios in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany and Malaysia. Recent films shot at Pinewood Studios, based outside of London, include the coming Angelina Jolie film, ``Maleficent,’’ and ``Jack Ryan,’’ directed by Kenneth Branagh.

``This new studio will target US productions. Georgia has excellent fiscal and tax credit incentives as well as a great crew base,’’ Dunleavy added.

It’s the fifth major studio development or expansion announced in Georgia in recent months. Last week, Atlanta-based developer Jacoby Development said it would build an estimated $1 billion multi-use project north of Atlanta that will include 12 soundstages as well as production offices and an arts and media school aimed at training the next generation of film industry employees.

The Pinewood project is a coup for Georgia and opens the state to major, big-budget films that need large studio space. While Pinewood Studios has an office in Los Angeles, it chose the Southeast for its first U.S. production facility.

Although California has numerous soundstages, not many have been built in recent years as the state has grappled with the effects of runaway production and the lagging economy. A survey last year found California lost $3 billion in wages from 2004 to 2011 because of film and TV production moving to other states and countries, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Half the wages went to states, including Georgia, that offer tax incentives and rebates to the industry. Other states included New York, Louisiana and North Carolina.

``Pinewood Atlanta’s location will contribute significantly to Georgia’s growing reputation as a top draw for movie and television productions,’’ Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said.

Last year, productions filmed in Georgia generated an estimated $3.1 billion in economic activity, a 29 percent increase from the year before. TV shows such as AMC’s ``The Walking Dead’’ film in Georgia, and recently ``The Hunger Games’’ sequel wrapped up in locations around Atlanta.

While studio developers building soundstages are not eligible for the state’s generous tax credit program, the production companies making films are. Georgia currently provides a 20 percent tax credit for companies that spend $500,000 or more on production and post-production in the state, either in a single production or on multiple projects. Georgia also grants an additional 10 percent tax credit if the finished project includes a state promotional logo.

The Pinewood project is a joint venture with River’s Rock LLC, which is an independently managed trust of the Cathy family, according to the studio. The Cathy family is known for establishing the Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant empire based in Atlanta. The chain last year generated both criticism and support when company president Dan Cathy made comments against same-sex marriage. The company later said it would stop funding anti-gay marriage groups.

Pinewood’s director of strategy and communications, Andrew Smith, noted that the remarks were made in a personal capacity.

``Pinewood will be operating and running the facility, and we will operate them to the same and usual standards that we operate all of our studios around the world,’’ Smith said.

Construction of the studio is already underway, with the first production set to begin at the new site in January, Smith said.

Pinewood will maintain a 40 percent interest in the venture and will provide sales and marketing services under the agreement. Plans call for additional construction phases that could add several more soundstages. The project also includes a vocational job skills training program to help build up the state’s workforce. Georgia already has an estimated 5,000 union and non-union professionals associated with the film industry along with more than 1,000 production suppliers and support companies.

County officials say 75 companies have been in contact saying they want to locate to the site and provide industry-related services.

``We are tremendously excited to be creating a world-class studio in the state of Georgia and are looking forward to working with Pinewood in the many years to come,’’ said Jim Pace, managing partner of the investment group, River’s Rock LLC. ``The Pinewood brand is so well recognized in the global film industry and together there is a great opportunity to build an excellent facility that will attract the very best producers.’’

The project in Georgia has the potential to be a major economic driver, allowing big-budget films to come to the Peach State.
``It takes the state to a whole new level,’’ said Matt Forshee, president of the Fayette County Development Authority, who has been closely involved in the project. ``When you look at the films that have filmed in Georgia, for the most part, they have been smaller budget films, in the range of $20-25 million. This allows us to open up to larger budget productions, which means more expenditures occurring within the state, which becomes a bigger return on the investment on the state level for the tax credits.’’

Fido Swallowed A Sock? That’ll Be Expensive And Maybe Fatal

Los Angeles (AP) A toy poodle that was rushed to the vet after swallowing a tube sock. A Great Dane that had to be operated on three times for eating his owner’s shoulder pads.

These are just a couple of examples of the emergency cases Dr. Karen Halligan has seen involving household items that seem harmless until an animal decides to munch on them.

Hundreds of pets undergo surgery every year to remove small articles of clothing and other objects from their stomachs and intestines, said Halligan, author, TV consultant and director of veterinary services for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles.

``It’s very common in private practice and in large institutions to be removing non-food items out of dogs and cats,’’ she said.

It also can be very dangerous.

Ingested clothing and fabric items, for instance, won’t show up on X-rays. Within 48 hours, a pet that has consumed a piece of clothing will develop symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever and depression.

If caught early, a vet can remove the item from inside the animal and everything will be fine. If not, the pet’s intestines will start to die because blood can’t get through, Halligan said. Removing the intestine is an option if the obstruction is eventually found.

If left untreated, the problem can be fatal because of dehydration or bacteria leaking into the stomach, causing peritonitis.

This dog ate a spoon while being fed peanut butter
and had eaten a dog collar earlier - but recovered.

``We had one Great Dane. Three times we had to cut him (open) for his mother’s shoulder pads. He loved his mother’s shoulders pads,’’ Halligan said.

And surgeries to remove or dislodge things that pets swallow are not cheap.

``We are talking $2,500 to $5,000 at the least,’’ Halligan said.

Socks are probably the most popular pet-pilfered pieces of clothing across the country. They’re especially irresistible to pets after they’ve been worn. ``It’s the scent that attracts them,’’ Halligan said.

One of Halligan’s older clients came in with his toy poodle and said the dog ate one of his tube socks.

``I was skeptical. I X-rayed, and it didn’t show up. But he was absolutely certain. He was adamant,’’ she said.

Halligan said she made the dog vomit and ``sure enough, we pulled a foot-long tube sock out of this miniature apricot poodle, and the dog was fine.’’

X-rays quite clearly show many other things pets swallow.

In March, Tim Kelleher’s 13-year-old Jack Russell terrier got sick and he rushed him to the vet. X-rays showed the dog had eaten a pile of pennies.

Dr. Amy Zalcman at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in New York used a camera attached to a net to fish 111 pennies out of Jack’s stomach. Scooping up five at a time, it took a couple of hours.

Letting the coins pass could have killed Jack because pennies made after 1982 contain toxic zinc.

Zalcman didn’t check the dates on the pennies, ``but many were corroded, suggesting that they were being digested,’’ she said.

Jack goes jogging daily and eats the best holistic food on the market, but he’s got a voracious appetite and is always licking things off the floor, Kelleher said.

The day the long-legged, broken-coat terrier ate the pennies, Kelleher had left a sack with a few bagel crumbs on his desk. While going after it, Jack knocked over a jar of pennies. As Jack licked the crumbs off the floor, he slurped up the pennies too.

Kelleher thought he had ``Jackproofed’’ his apartment. But just a few days ago, the dog ate a whole bag of hamburger rolls after pulling it off a kitchen counter.

While some human foods are fine for pets, others, like chocolate, can be deadly to dogs and cats.

For those who keep flower bouquets in the house, eating just one lily can kill a cat. Preservative packets for the water in the vase also can make animals sick if they drink it.

In seven years of emergency veterinary medicine, Zalcman has removed a variety of items from pets, including jewelry, condoms and a new No. 2 pencil with an eraser. Some of her colleagues have retrieved forks and blades, she said.

In Halligan’s 24 years as a vet, the most unusual object she had to retrieve from a dog’s stomach was a Mickey Mouse hat.

``You could see the plastic parts on the X-ray,’’ Halligan said.

Online: www.dochalligan.com &www.newyork.bluepearlvet.com

Replica Of 8th Century Buddhist Caves Now On Exhibit

By ULA ILNYTZKY

Associated Press

New York (AP) The China Institute Gallery has been transformed into an ancient cave, taking visitors back more than a millennium to a dazzling world where Buddhist worshippers adorned the walls with colorful frescoes, silk prayer banners and lavishly painted life-size clay sculptures.

``Dunhuang: Buddhist Art at the Gateway of the Silk Road’’ features a replica of an 8th century cave carved into the limestone cliffs at the edge of the Gobi Desert southeast of the oasis town of Dunhuang from 366 to about 1300.

It is one of 735 Mogao Caves constructed during what is known as the high Tang period (705-781), designed for devout Buddhists to gather and worship. Nearly every inch is covered in art, with a canopy ceiling resplendent in floral and diamond shapes. One end is filled with life-sized sculptures of a Buddha flanked by two monk disciples wearing luxuriously patterned robes, two bare-chested figures and two ferocious-looking guardians in military armor.

While there have been exhibitions that have featured individual pieces from the Mogoa Caves, this is the first exhibition in the United States to put all the elements of the cave shrines into context, said Annette Juliano, a professor of Chinese art history at Rutgers University.

It shows the ``relationship between the architecture, the pictures, the subject matter and the (ritual) practices . the actual use of the cave, rather than just an abstraction,’’ added Juliano, who visited the caves for the first time in 1980.

Many of the caves are exquisitely preserved but others are fragile due to neglect over the centuries and the conditions of the surrounding desert and sand dunes. To protect them from further erosion, tourist access is limited to several dozen caves a day that are rotated regularly. The exhibition also features a 6th-century replica of an elaborate square altar called the Central Stupa Pillar that highlights the religious ritual of circumambulation, an act of veneration, in which the faithful walk clockwise around the altar that contains four niches, each holding a Buddha.

Exact, hand-painted reproductions of wall motifs and story scenes complete the exhibition space in this gallery. Among the highlights is a Thousand Buddha pattern that covers an entire wall and is symbolic of the deity’s omnipresence. Among the narrative paintings is the tale of the Deer King and his journey toward enlightenment.

Authentic silk prayer banners, a handwritten Buddhist scripture in near mint condition, a Yuan dynasty fragment of a mathematical document, small clay figurines, Persian silver coins that bear witness to foreign travelers on the Silk Road, patterned floor tiles and oil lamps used to light the dark caves round out the small two-gallery exhibition.

The Mogao Cave shrines, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, were largely unknown in the West until they were discovered in 1900 by a Hungarian archaeologist, Sir Aurel Stein.

Dunhuang, located at the north and south crossroads of the Silk Road, was a strategic hub of trade and religion. Stein, who made several treks through Central Asia, had heard rumors of a cave room sealed in the 11th century containing tens of thousands of manuscripts, scrolls, silk paintings and textiles dating in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit and other languages.

A local caretaker had uncovered the treasure trove after discovering a crack in the wall of a corridor leading to a larger cave. It’s not clear why the room was sealed, but scholars speculate they were walled up to protect them from the threat of invasion from nomadic people.

Stein was able to persuade the caretaker to sell a portion of the material in exchange for money for the cave’s upkeep. In subsequent years, almost 80 percent of the contents were taken out of the country by foreign adventurers. Today, the treasures are found in various museums and libraries around the world.

The exhibition, organized by the Dunhuang Academy, runs through July 21. A second exhibition in the fall will focus on paintings and sculptures by contemporary artists inspired by the caves.

If You Go...CHINA INSTITUTE: 125 E. 66th St., Manhattan; http://www.chinainstitute.org/ or 212-744-8181. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission, $7; students and seniors, $4.

Detail, Celestial Music from Mogao Cave 288, Western Wei dynasty (535–557).Replica in mineral pigments on paper by Shi Weixiang, 1974. Image courtesy of Dunhuang Academy

 


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