6C - New Student Edition - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 8, 1999
Cruel' start to
fine with alum
By Chris Cousino
Daily TV/New %Jdia Editor
Selma Blair wants to set the record straight.
Rumor has it that she "will cook anything made with
cheese" but Blair, a 1995 University graduate, admits
"that is just a fallacy."
"It makes me sound like I'm inventing new ways to
put fromage in my food," she said, "I mean, I really hate
cheese, to tell you the truth. I get bloated and I get a lot
of phlegm and I don't eat cheese."
This charismatic, 26-year-old actress took a moment
in February to rest between her recent projects. With the
anticipation of the premiere of her first studio film,
"Cruel Intentions," a dark, teenage retelling of
"Dangerous'Liaisons" that also stars Ryan Phillipe,
Reese Witherspoon and WB network alum Sarah
Michelle Cellar, she .comes off the release of her WB
teen comedy, "Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane."
But Blair doesn't notice a real difference in everyday
life. "Everyone's like, 'So, is it so strange, you're like
famous?' I'm like, in my dreams. Nobody knows who I
am. My life hasn't changed at all and it's been really
Ahh, but such things last only for so long. Blair no
doubt was on the mind of many males under 25 who saiv
"Cruel Intentions," a tale about desires and the sexual
manipulation of two naive innocent women, Cecile
Caldwell (Blair) and Annete Hargrove (Witherspoon),
by the evil Kathryn (Gellar) and Sebastian (Phillipe).
To put it bluntly, who is the better kisser in the film -
Ryan Phillipe or Sarah Michelle Gellar? That's right,
none other than the vampire slayer herself ties tongues
with-,the innocent Blair.
"Umm, this kiss is gonna be my claim to fame," said
Blair before shrieking, "It was damn good."
While the dream of most adolescent, hell, many
American males, Blair knows from first hand experi-
"Sarah is a mighty fine kisser and I gotta say, I wish
more boys kiss like Sarah," she claimed, "But Ryan is,
you know, I can't say anything bad about him either
cause he's just too cute."
Blair said of her three co-stars, "They're all really
sexy characters and I'm not," though most would beg to
"They're the real sexy, beautiful characters and I'm
basically the fool."
In "Cruel Intentions" Blair brings a different approach
to the Cecile character than Uma Thurman's perfor-
mance in "DangerousLiaisons."
"I did not want to play it as the victim the way Uma
Thurman did it so beautifully, this really innocent victim
that kind of flowers in spite of herself," Blair said. "I
really wanted to play her really as something that made
This subtle string of comedy may be the only glimmer
of ight in the intensely dark "Cruel Intentions," which
Blair feels "is really evil."
At the helm of this insidious film is first time director
Roger Kumble, whom Blair "automatically had a won-
derful rapport with."
"Roger Kumble was the greatest director to start out
with," gushed Blair, "and he really decided Cecil needed
to be something that people could laugh at.
"I really got to create this character."
May p t
By Alana Steingold
For the Daily
On the corner of Hill Street and
Washtenaw Avenue sits the Rock, one of
Ann Arbor's most famous - and most
frequently used landmarks. Almost every
day, it is covered and re-covered with a
fresh coat of paint, displaying Greek let-
ters, graffiti, social commentary and other
Though the Rock holds a long tradition
for University students, alumni and other
residents and visitors of Ann Arbor, many
feel enough is enough.
Officials at city hall, as well as area res-
idents, are frustrated with the destruction
of the Rock, its surrounding grounds and
The Rock, like many others, was origi-
nally gray. Geologists estimate it to be
between 20,000 to 30,000 years old. It
was moved by a glacier from the Georgian
Bay, just north of Toronto, to the Pontiac
Trail, not far from Ann Arbor. The grooves
that can be seen on the under part of the
rock are a result of its glacial travels.
In 1932, Eli Gallup, the superintendent
of parks for Ann Arbor discovered the
rock in a landfill. Along with the financial
support of the Daughters of the American
Revolution, he decided to transport the
25-ton limestone boulder to its present
location, not only to preserve geological
history, but to honor the bicentennial
birthday of George Washington.
Local high school students at the time
scrapped together pieces of copper and
cast a plaque that was to be affixed to the
front of the rock. The plaque, which was
last seen in 1982, but is still somewhere
underneath the eight inches of paint, reads
"To George Washington - This memori-
al is erected in celebration of the 200th
anniversary of his birth, 1932." It is
shaped like a shield with a sword running
through it, and is approximately three feet
long. Beneath the rock, Gallup buried a
lead box containing its history.
It was not until the 1950s that the Rock
was painted for the very first time by stu-
dents from Michigan State University,
who painted a green "S" on it before the
Michigan/Michigan State football game.
But in recent years, the tradition has
Even though all it does is just sit there, the Rock, located at the corner of Hill Street and Washtenaw Avenue is at the center of a contro-
versy. Local residents complain about the noise and mess generated by the students who come to paint It several times a week.
In 1993, the Rock became a heated
issue in the Ann rbor community and
was given nationa attention in newspa-
pers. Private homeowners had many prob-
lems with the conduct of those who paint-
ed the rock, as well as gripes with the
many sororities and fraternities that are
interspersed throughout the neighbor-
Many worried that the paints contained
harmful toxic chemicals, including lead,
titanium. cadmium and mercury. although
tests found no harmful iniredients.
Many suggestions on ways to solve the
problem were proposed, including moving
the Rock to a landfill -which would cost
an estimated S4.300 - or breaking it up
in pieces and selling them as souvenirs.
On Aug. 17, 1993, the city's parks
department can~e up with a solution to
buy the small piece of land from private
owners and name it George Washington
park. A sign declaring the park's name
was erected, and a set of rules on the back.
These rules included: No drinking, loud
noise, littering, painting beyond the Rock,
dumping paint in sewers, vandalism to
private property or trespassing.
Additionally, the park would be closed
from midnight until six a.m. Violations of
these rules would result in a $520 fine, or
the removal of the Rock.
According to Gerry Clark, the city's
park planner, definite improvements were
made in 1994 and 1995, as the city
worked in cooperation with the
Interfraternitv Council and Panhellenic
Association and dedicated more time and
manpower to keeping the park and the
bordering sidewalk clean. But the Rock
continues to be painted and the neighbors
continue to complain.
Bobbi Heilveil, the house director of
Delta Phi Epsilon, the sorority closest to
the Rock and whose front pillars have also
been painted and vandalized, feels that the
Rock provides, "an innocent form of
expression," and she would rather see stu-
dents paint the rock as opposed to engag-
ing in other activities.
She also pointed out that while many of
the houses were originally privately
owned, the University has purchased
much of the property on Washtenaw a
other streets in close proximity. But
neighborhood residents have in fact cho-
sen to live there, in the "middle" of cam-
pus. It is quite possible that many students
often forget that non-students live in Ann
Arbor, especially near campus. As a
result, the Rock still could be removed,
not so much because of the painting but
because of the noise and other negative
But for now it will remain in its ho
on Hill and Washtenaw.
As some letters on file in the paik
department read: The Rock is a tradition,
a landmark, and a part of Ann Arbor. And
a 1929 alum wrote that she feels stability
in the Rock.
Clark also worries about what would
show up instead, if the rock were to be
removed. As Heilveil said, "We have our
rock.....what do other schools have?"
Studios have students eye theaters
By Will Weissert
Daily Arts Writer
Thousands of miles away, studio
executives in Los Angeles waited anx-
iously for LSA Senior Steve
"I had these guys from Disney pag-
ing me over and over," Thomson said.
"When I finally got a chance to call
back they said 'tell me exactly what
Thomson is part of what studios
term the College Student Network, 20-
something moviegoers hired across the
nation by nearly all major studios to
watch dozens of movies and dozens
more previews almost every week. The
best part: It's all free.
Thomson, who works for the Walt
Disney Company and its smaller dis-
tributing satellites, including Buena
Vista, and thousands of moviegoers
like him head to local theaters mostly
just to catch the previews before all the
movies or to view audience-response
to a new Disney movie.
"We rate audience reaction to each
preview they see on a scale of 1-5 - or
if it's opening night we see how many
people are there and what they try to
judge what they think of the movie," he
said. "Then we input all that onto a stu-
dio Website online so they know
almost immediately what audiences
think of a particular preview or of a
The best preview in recent memory
is the trailers for the long-awaited lat-
est Star Wars epic - "Episode One:
Phantom Menace," Thomson said.
"You have people cheering and clap-
ping whenever they see those," he said.
"That's definitely a trailer that would
get a top rating."
Besides grading how well previews
are received by local audiences,
Thomson also checks to make sure that
area theaters aren't cutting any corners
Disney executives would not approve
of. He looks especially for such no-nos
as showing outside ads and commer-
cials before Disney previews or using
one copy of a studio-issued movie print
to "interlock" or show the single movie
print to two audiences at the same
The search for would-be violators
sent Thomson to a theater outside of
Southeastern Detroit over
"They call it inter-locking films -
using the same print to show the same
movie to two audiences," Thomson
said. "Whenever you have a theater
that has purchased only one' copy of a
movie and where they are showing the
same movie at the same time or just a
few minutes apart from one another it
can be a problem. That's why they sent
me out there."
When checking up on theaters that
may be bending the rules, Thomson
said he reports directly to officials at
Buena Vista by phone.
Buena Vista company executives
said they were familiar with Thomson's
work for them but could not comment
officially on the work of any of their
College Student Network employees.
But while Thomson admits such
espionage missions can be exciting,
most of the time he just sticks to
watching all the previews and headi
to opening-night premiers.
"That is the only time thefyve-es
sent me to check out a problenmw
like that;" he said. "The theaters in A
Arbor have no problems at all'.,
A media representative from -it
Artists at Briarwood says the thea
used to having people like Thoms
"They've been doing things like t
as long as I can remember and the p(
ple they send have always been v(
professional;' the representative;.sa
"It's all very routine. They askforti(
et counts and check seating capatit
in the theaters - this is somethi- t
comes with the territory of r
Though Thomson says the toigh
part about his job is that he is requil
to sit through the previews of evl
movie showing at one complex C1
huge movie mini-malls.
"Places like Showcase have -X t
aters and I have to go to everyone,
said. "It's OK if the previews are g
but if they aren't its like listeng to
awful song over and over.
Thomson also finds time I*
trailers at each theater to catch at l
some of the other movies playing:
"I've seen bits and pieces of-alm
everything out there right' no
Thomson said. "But where -ese
you get paid to watch free movies?,
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