Kathy Staab bought the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, Rhode Island in 2004, initially simply as an investment while still active in her long and successful career in fashion and retail. Over the years she had held various merchandising executive positions at Brookstone (Gardeners Eden), Talbots, Jordan Marsh and Macy’s where she developed a clear sense of current trends and customer demands. When exactly the theatre became not simply an investment but her passion is unclear but today she’s using all the skills she learned in retail to revitalize and remake one of the oldest theatres in North America.
[Editors Note: As has been widely reported, in recent weeks filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Steven Soderbergh have predicted that Hollywood will implode if the major studios continue to invest only in tent-pole movies and endless sequels. In a guest column Russ Collins, artistic director of the Cinetopia Festival, CEO of Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater and director of the Art House Convergence, takes exception.] Steven Spielberg is a gifted filmmaker whose impact on the art and business of cinema is arguably peerless. Steven Soderbergh is a gifted and important filmmaker. The aesthetic and financial success of both Stevens is unquestioned. However, both of these cinema icons have come out with almost bitter assessments of the future of movies recently. I believe these assessments are wrongheaded. Maybe it’s because the pessimistic assessments come from these two cinema idols that it makes me sad and a little mad.