REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : New Wallace Theater Needs Nothing but Blue Skies : Owners of the Santa Paula project hope the rains that have delayed finishing the seven-screen facility will stay away until an April 7 opening.


Owners of the Wallace Theater in Santa Paula are keeping a nervous eye on the sky.

Rain has delayed opening of the seven-screen theater on West Main Street in the Santa Paula Shopping Center for months. General manager Brett Havlik said the building wasn't watertight before the monsoons hit, so the roofing construction was halted until the interior dried out.

Officials said installation of projectors, sound equipment and furnishings should be completed by the end of this week. That leaves work on the parking lot as the last hurdle before a scheduled April 7 opening.

"Barring unforeseen complications or a heavy storm, that's when we're going to have it," said Bryan Gilbert, construction manager.

Relax Mr. Gilbert. The forecast looks clear.


Philip Arlen, an ardent filmgoer from Ventura, takes the Edwards Camarillo Palace 12 to task in a letter to the cinema chain.

"Here you open a new 12-screen cinema 'serving' Ventura County, and some of us have hopes that movies we have to go to Los Angeles or Santa Barbara to see might come to us. But no-o-o-o," Arlen wrote.

Arlen complained that instead of devoting even one screen to art films, the theater has only mainstream pictures.

No "Tom and Viv." No "Heavenly Creatures." No "Vanya on 42nd Street."

"You bring nothing new to the county; uninspired programming is everywhere," Arlen groused.

In their defense, Edwards owners said that because they are the predominant theater in the Camarillo market, they have no trouble filling all 12 screens with big releases. That should change when United Artists opens its theater across town and competition increases. Then they will consider alternative programming, Edwards officials said.


Meanwhile, "Vanya" is Sunday's feature at the Ojai Playhouse.

This is a 1994 movie of a staged reading of the classic Chekhov play. And talk about big names. It's adapted by David Mamet and directed by Louis Malle. Critics say that if you like theater you will love this adaptation. Malle moves the camera in close to the actors, imparting an intimacy not encountered even in a theatrical setting.

The feature plays at 4:30 p.m. at the Ojai Playhouse, 145 E. Ojai Ave.

Pancho Doll compiles Reel Life each week for Ventura County Life. If you have information on local film, television or video events or personalities, write to him at 5200 Valentine Road, Suite 140, Ventura 93003, or send faxes to 658-5576.

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