A group of 42 youngsters from eastern Ventura County learned this week that you can never escape algebra.
The group, all members of the Conejo Simi Aquatics diving team, got out of regular classes Monday to work as extras in the film "How to Make an American Quilt," which was on location at Fillmore High School.
The picture by Amblin Entertainment, Steven Spielberg's company, is a multi-generational story about a quilting circle. The film stars Winona Ryder, Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft and Alfre Woodard. The crew was shooting scenes circa 1940 at the school's outdoor diving tank. Kids were dressed up in period costumes, in this case baggy cotton swimsuits.
Dives completed, they were marched into the school's gymnasium, where tables of youths swaddled in towels hunched over school books. The 4-to-1 teacher-to-student ratio permitted considerably less goofing off than in regular classes.
Micah Bedrosian, 13, of Thousand Oaks is one diver used to the splash-and-study routine. One of his recent acting jobs was on a 10-meter platform for an episode of "Melrose Place."
"That was before I was on the dive team. I was supposed to get up to the top of the platform and look scared. It wasn't hard," Bedrosian said. "I was scared."
But he was intrigued enough to join the diving team shortly afterward. If Bedrosian's scene survives the editing process, you can see him performing a "forward dive, straight" when the picture is released about this time in 1995.
Ventura County Cablevision will test an interactive service to allow residents in as many as 1,000 east county households to talk back to their televisions.
The interactive programming, called the L. A. Project, gives viewers different camera angles at a sporting event, interactive games, educational programs that let viewers take a quiz--lots of choices. But don't people watch television because they're tired of thinking?
That could be the reason the much-hyped interactive QUBE system in Columbus, Ohio, failed, as did the GTE experiment in Cerritos. Who wants to make decisions when you're relaxing?
Dave LaRue, president of Ventura County Cablevision, is undaunted. He said the service his company plans to provide has already proven a hit with viewers in Canada.
Electronic banking and ordering flowers through the tube, both features of the failed Cerritos experiment, are not the big prizes. Rather, interactive television is vying for a portion of the $15-billion annual video rental market.
Video on demand could deliver a substantial portion of that pie to cable providers, but interactive TV hasn't even gotten the flower delivery down.
In the GTE Cerritos experiment, a customer ordered flowers by pushing a button on the TV's remote control. That sent a signal to the television company office, where someone wrote an order, then sent it to the flower shop--by fax.
Wending its way up and down the movie distribution chain, "Red Rock West" returns to Santa Barbara tonight at the UCSB Arts and Lectures film series.
The 1993 "cowboy noir," starring Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper and Lara Flynn Boyle, went from European movie houses to film festivals to HBO, to film festivals again, to video, then to limited theatrical release and finally to the college film series circuit.
Cage is passing through the tiny Western town of Red Rock when he's mistaken by a bar owner for the hit man he's hired to rub out his wife. Escalating plot twists keep the tension mounting and the audience guessing right to the end.
Its tone and style are often compared to the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple." Go see it at 7 p.m. in Campbell Hall.