- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2002

'Gods and Generals'

Hollywood movie director Ronald F. Maxwell gave us a sneak peek at the new 30-minute highlight reel of "Gods and Generals," a much-anticipated 3½-hour Civil War epic starring Robert Duvall as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, opening in theaters in February.

This evening, Mr. Maxwell will show the reel publicly for the first time at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, a most fitting background given the war's and film's historic setting.

"Half the film was shot in [Virginias] Shenandoah Valley, half in Western Maryland, and a few scenes were shot in West Virginia," Mr. Maxwell said. "You will recognize the campus of Washington & Lee University [in Lexington, Va.], you will recognize the campus of VMI [Virginia Military Institute in Lexington], you will recognize the streets of Winchester [Va.] and Harper's Ferry [West Virginia]."

A far cry and distance from Romania, where it just happens that another major Hollywood Civil War production, "Cold Mountain," is presently being staged.

"Ted Turner wanted this film made in America," Mr. Maxwell says of the Atlanta mogul behind Ted Turner Pictures. "And I think Ted Turner should get credit for having American crews tell an American story, even though shooting it here was much more expensive."

And how will "Gods and Generals" differ from past Civil War films?

"This is an unprecedented film of the Civil War," the director answers. "Only Ted Turner has the courage and conviction to release a serious film of this length. He felt the American public is ready for this film, particularly at this time. It's about patriotism the conflicting views of patriotism.

"This film is an exploration into the lives of the protagonists," Mr. Maxwell continues. "It is important for me as a filmmaker to reveal the homefront the wives, the loved ones, the children left behind. And, for once, the African-Americans."

The film is based on the novel "Gods and Generals," by Jeff Shaara, whose father, Michael Shaara, wrote "The Killer Angels," the Civil War classic and basis for the 1993 movie "Gettysburg."

Besides Mr. Duvall, whose mother is a distant relative of the Robert E. Lee family, the film stars Bruce Boxleitner, Joseph Fuqua, Stephen Lang and Jeff Daniels.

And might that be Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, making a cameo appearance as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates?

Heads or potholes?

Thanks to Inside the Beltway readers from coast to coast, who have taken time out from their busy schedules to help Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill mint an appropriate design for the tails side of the Washington, D.C., commemorative quarter.

Here then is our second (and final) batch of reader suggestions:

•"The Washington Monument sinking into a pothole" Roger Johnson of Kensington (and daily D.C. commuter, no doubt)

•"A pig nursing its dependent young" the Rev. Kenneth Studdard, pastor, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Summerville, Ga.

•"A large hot-air balloon" Phil of Reisterstown, Md.

•"Donkey on the tail side, elephant on the head side (That way, Florida voters can flip a coin to vote accordingly.") L.D. Fore

•"A toilet with a stream of dollars flowing into it" Mike West of Crandall, Texas

•"A traffic camera?" Patrick Stadter of Maryland

•"A parking meter" Paul Russell

•"A parking ticket" J. Grazioso

•"Tow truck and Denver boot" J.J. Dawson of Clinton, Md.

•"A huge traffic jam" Ken Navitsky of Allentown, Penn.

•"A regular quarter cut in half and worth only 12 cents, to represent the government taking its self-determined share of our money" Keith M. Sibick of Arlington

Voice of presidents

Another hat to wear for Washington-based Blanquita "BQ" Cullum, host of Radio America's politics-and-pop culture talkfest "The BQ View," who's just been nominated by President Bush to be a member of the prestigious Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

The BBG oversees all U.S. government and government-sponsored international broadcasting services, including Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio-TV Marti, and WorldNet Television.

Already, "BQ" is one of only two civilian appointees assigned to the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, a panel created to coordinate observances honoring the fallen men and women of our nation's military. And lest we forget, she served in the administration of former President George Bush as a White House liaison.

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