Cusacks to Announce Oct 15 Reopening for SENATOR Theatre

According to Michael Sragow, “Buzz” and daughter Kathleen Cusack will announce that Friday, October 15th as the day The Senator Theatre will reopen as a first run movie house.

The announcement is to come as part of a public “Progress Meeting”, as stated in the theatre’s marquee, slated to begin at 6:30pm. It’s also expected they will name the feature that returning Senator projectionist Bill Hewitt will exhibit to hail the reopening.

“We welcome anyone with any interest in the theater to join in our excitement as we prepare to reopen.”
-Kathleen Cusack

You can read Mr. Sragow’s full post here.

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SENATOR Theatre RFP: CHAP Hearing on August 10

Friends of The Senator (FOTS) has been alerted to a hearing called by Baltimore City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) that will review the plans proposed by James “Buzz” Cusack (who rents & operator The Charles Theatre) and his daughter, Kathleen Cusack for renovations intended for the historic Senator Theatre.

Details from the August 10 Agenda via the CHAP web site:

3:00 PM Senator Theatre

(Baltimore City Landmark-Exterior)
(Baltimore City Landmark -Interior pending)
(CHAP Special List-Interior)
Plan: Rehabilitation of exterior and interior-Concept.
City of Baltimore, Owner.
The Senator Theatre, LLC. (James Cusack and Kathleen Cusack, principals), Lessee.

Eddie Leon, Staff Presenter.
The hearing will be held in the Phoebe Stanton Conference Room of the Department of Planning, 8th Floor, 417 E. Fayette Street.

We’re informed that anyone can view the plans in advance by making an appointment with the CHAP office.
(410) 396-4866
(410) 396-PLAN (7526)
Fax: (410) 396-5662

FOTS strongly encourages anyone concerned with the future of the theatre, particularly the planned renovations, to attend this hearing if possible.

SENATOR Theatre: FREE Farewell to Kiefaber screenings of rare STAR WARS (1977) print on July 21

“This is it!” – Red Leader, Star Wars

STAR WARS Style A half-sheet by Tom Jung

STAR WARS Style A half-sheet by Tom Jung (1977)

The Force Is With Them!

Baltimore’s Senator Theatre Ends 71 Years of Continuous
Family Ownership and Operation.

“Friends of The Senator” Express A New Hope for a Rapid Reopening

Baltimore, MD
July 21, 2010

The Friends of The Senator (FOTS) theatre advocacy group announced today
that Wednesday 7/21 marks the final day of operation for Baltimore’s historic
Senator Theatre. The shutdown date was designated by Baltimore’s City Hall.
Instructions are to cease operations, and for the theatre’s ex-owner to remove
all personal items. Baltimore City took ownership of the renowned, single screen
Art Deco landmark at a foreclosure auction in July of 2009.

For the final evening of operation, the FOTS are encouraging patrons to join
us for a gathering of The Senator’s extended family, including long time
manager Gayle Grove and The Senator’s popular border collie staff, Natty Boh
and Nipper.

The evening will feature two free celebratory screenings of a rare 1977 British
I.B. Technicolor print of “Star Wars: A New Hope” from a private collection.
Free screenings of the two hour feature will be at 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Doors
open at 4:00 pm for the 4:30 show.

“We wanted to do something really special for the last film to be shown at
The Senator, to honor Tom Kiefaber and his family, as well as The Senator’s
long term staff,” said FOTS President Tom Harris, who has camped on the
sidewalk at The Senator for past Star Wars midnight openings with his family.
“A film collector approached us about this rare original release print of Star
Wars, and the film is such a touchstone for so many of us, we went for it.”

“This is where I came in,” said Tom Kiefaber, in reference to Star Wars in 1977.
“I grew up in The Senator, and I officially joined the family business in 1977, just
as Star Wars was about to change the film industry forever. The saying ‘this
is where I came in’ comes from my youth, when the theatres ran short subjects,
newsreels, and features continuously. We would often arrive in the middle of a
show and stay until it was starting the repeat, noting this is where I came in.”
Also popular in those days were the weekly “cliffhanger” serials where a
young George Lucas found inspiration for “Star Wars.”

“With The Senator going dark for an indefinite time, we all feel a great
disturbance in the Force,” said FOTS Managing Director Laura Perkins.
“Kathleen Cusack from the new management team predicts The Senator may
only stay dark a few days, and we hope the Cusack team understands
the importance of the theatre to this community and reopens The Senator as
quickly as possible.”

“We have many concerns about what’s in store for The Senator, particularly
plans to demolish original features that define the character of the building’s
interior,” noted Kiefaber, “but we have no choice but to accept as graciously
as possible that the force is with them.”

* * *

SENATOR Theatre RFP: Cusack Plan Would Alter Auditorium?

For your consideration: The following information from yesterday’s MD Daily Record article.

The owners of the five-screen Charles Theatre would keep the Senator a movie theater… and potentially add a smaller auditorium.

“When you have another screen, you have more flexibility,” Kathleen Cusack said. “If you have a second screen and you have a movie that isn’t making a lot of money, you can move it there and put something else on the main screen.”

If the Cusacks add a 120-seat theater to the Senator, the main auditorium would shrink from 940 seats to 760. Cusack said the smaller theater could be used as an arts education area.

It was our understanding that the interior spaces, including The Senator auditorium, were now under the ‘protection’ of Baltimore City’s Commisson for Historical & Architectural Preservation (CHAP) Landmark and Special Designation Lists.

So, we have to wonder how could the BDC reconcile James “Buzz” Cusack’s plan with CHAP’s intent to protect the interior beyond “normal maintenance”?

For that matter, given Mr. Cusack himself is a CHAP member, why would he even suggest such a move?

From a historical standpoint (one which we share), subdividing the auditorium is unthinkable and therefore a plan we could not support.