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Baltimore Sun

New CineMaryland episode spotlights 'Arthur,' Meredith Vieira

A new episode of CineMaryland, the award-winning show that goes behind the scenes of Maryland-based film and TV productuion, is now available on a dozen channels, including My 24 WUTB-TV.

CineMaryland's current show features:

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*Pikesville-bred director Jason Winer's "Arthur" remake, with Russell Brand;

*Actor Clayton Myers discussing his debut performance in a dramatic feature, "Heaven Burns";

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*And, with the first anniversary of WYPR's Maryland Morning Screen Test coming up a week from today, CineMaryland's interview with one of its subjects, producer/director Alvin Gray, at MMST headquarters, The Windup Space.

This month's edition has a couple of brand names -- including Brand -- but none are bigger than broadcast journalist and talk-show host Meredith Vieira. CineMaryland caught up with her when she came to a Maryland Film Festival fundraiser in March to moderate a panel asking "Are documentary filmmakers the new journalists?"

Who better to raise that question than Vieira, a veteran of "60 Minutes" and "The View" as well as "The Today Show?" In all her roles, she has drawn on her own experience to address an array of subjects in a bright, empathetic, unpretentious manner. She's one "name" broadcaster who actually knows more than she thinks she knows.

When I interviewed her in March, she told me, "I think the first documentary I ever saw in a movie theater was 'Harlan County, USA.' I saw it when I was a reporter in Providence. [The film came out in 1977.] I remember being blown away by that documentarian, Barbara Kopple. And I remember feeling what a brilliant way to watch a documentary — as a theater experience."

Did movie documentaries become popular by aping newsmagazines? After all, Michael Moore turned himself into a character in his movies, much as "60 Minutes" turned correspondents into crusading "personalities." "How many examples are there other than Michael?" Vieira responded. "The guy who did 'Super Size Me' [Morgan Spurlock] does something like that, where he becomes the personality within the piece. Documentaries always had the reputation of being somewhat dry. Maybe some do take advantage of the television model to draw people in."

To see CineMaryland's coverage of the event, and the whole episode on streaming video, go to www.CineMaryland.com.


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