By Lynn Venhaus

Local Spotlight: “In the Heat of the Night”

To celebrate its 55th anniversary, “In the Heat of the Night” is getting the TCM Big Screen treatment.

The Fathom Event, with special insight from Turner Classic Movies’ Ben Mankiewicz, will be at Marcus Ronnie’s Cine at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The Oscar-winning film was set in Sparta, Miss., but most of the movie was filmed in Sparta, Ill. Many of the film’s landmarks can still be seen.

Director Norman Jewison shot part of the film in Dyersburg and Union City, Tenn., and the rest in Sparta, Chester, and Freeburg in southern Illinois.

The Plot: While traveling in the Deep South, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a black Philadelphian homicide detective, becomes unwittingly embroiled in the murder investigation of a prominent businessman. Finding the killer, however, proves difficult when his efforts are constantly thwarted by the bigoted town sheriff (Rod Steiger). But neither man can solve this case alone. Putting aside their differences and prejudices, they join forces in a desperate race against time to discover the truth.

Freeburg IL location

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, the film won five. Besides Best Picture and best performance by an actor, the film picked up the Oscars for screenplay from another medium (Stirling Silliphant), editing (Hal Ashby), and sound.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 95% based on 83 reviews, with an average rating of 8.40/10. Its consensus states, “Tense, funny, and thought-provoking all at once, and lifted by strong performances from Sydney Poitier and Rod Steiger, director Norman Jewison’s look at murder and racism in small-town America continues to resonate today.”

The movie is available through DirecTV, and for rent on various streaming platforms.

For photos and reminiscences of the local shoot, visit:

“Going to the Movies!” made a video of the places:

Streaming Theater: Seedfolks

Metro Theater Company presents “Seedfolks” live through Nov. 6 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square in Grand Center, but can also be viewed via streaming video beginning today.

This is a heart-warming play about neighbors drawn out of their lonely isolation to rediscover and celebrate the community around them.

From award-winning novelist Paul Fleischman, the story is about a vacant lot in a broken neighborhood in the middle of the city that becomes a source of hope, with a dozen different characters bringing their stories to life. Kim is one, a nine-year-old Vietnamese immigrant who plants six precious lima beans. One by one, characters, many also immigrants sow seeds of hope amid the dirt and grit, tending dreams to full bloom. As the garden grows, so does the community, blooming into something bigger, better and beyond all expectations.

The play is 60 minutes without an intermission and is best enjoyed by those age 9 and up.

Local actors John Mayfield, Michael Thanh Tran and Tyler White are featured. It’s directed by Jess Shoemaker.

Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (socially distant), and Sundays at 2 p.m.

A Virtual Q&A with author Paul Fleischman is set for Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. Registration is free at

For more information and to get a virtual streaming link, visit

Movie: True Crime Thriller

“The Good Nurse” opens today in select theaters and will drop on Netflix on Oct. 26. Starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne, this suspenseful film is based on the true crime story of ICU nurse Charles Cullen. Here’s my review:

Playlist: A-ha!

In 1985, the groundbreaking music video to the synth pop song “Take On Me” gave the Norwegian group a no. 1 hit in America. The innovative video, greenlighted by Warner Brothers executive Jeff Ayeroff is a combination of illustrations and live-action, directed by “Billie Jean” director Steve Barron. It was in heavy rotation on MTV, and won six Video Music Awards, including Best Special Effects, Best Concept, and Viewer’s Choice

The husband-and-wife creative team of Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger used rotoscope to create the realistic movements, showing a-ha frontman Morten Harket getting a girl to visit his cartoon world. The song and video remain popular to this day.

Here is the remastered music video:

Word: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

“Growing up, I was constantly reminded to not to air our family’s dirty laundry. Part of why domestic violence is allowed to continue is because there is often an unwritten rule in many families of abuse: Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Keeping quiet does no good. I found that sharing my story liberated me from my past. There is power in storytelling and, in that, healing. Owning my truth also empowered me. I will no longer be manipulated or controlled by guilt or shame.” — Kambri Crews

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