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The Starz Come Out

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 10, 2006

Michael Ruggiero is vice president for programming and scheduling at Starz. He was been onstage while a clip was run from ''Going to Pieces,'' a new documentary about slasher films, which Starz will air in October. The clip had violence -- duh -- and nudity.

''Clearly the Disney Channel presentation has concluded,'' Ruggiero said.

Ruggiero had a lot more to say, probably too much for an executive when the subject is horror and the panel also includes Wes Craven. But questions were eventually directed to Craven including one by me, which -- at Starz's request -- included identifying myself by name and publication.

''Akron, Ohio?'' Craven said with a big smile. He noted that he was from Cleveland. I knew that, of course, but it was nice to make a connection. And Craven was iteresting -- making slasher films sound more important to the culture than they may seem -- both during the press conference and when we chatted briefly afterward.

I had hoped for more time with him. But, as sometimes happens at these things, he was taken out one door when I was waiting at another. Then, when a few of us caught up with him, after a couple of questions a publicist rather insistently took him away from another interview. In any case, from the press conference and the chat after, I got enough for a decent little column for tomorrow's Beacon Journal. (The column is here.)

Because I was chasin' Craven, I missed the first part of a press conference for a new Starz documentary about Hunter S. Thompson. I'm an old school Thompson fan, and the added attraction was the presence of Nick Nolte, who narrates the documentary and who knew Thompson.

Time and wear are evident on Nolte, visible even under a fedora and a white beard; rasp in the voice has gotten heavy, too. But he was -- is -- a pretty good actor, and attention was paid when he recited Thompson's suicide note. Nolte thought it was like poetry. He made it sound that way, too.

After that press conference, I went back to the room and wrote the Craven column around visits from hotel staffers trying to fix my air conditioning. Fortunately, they did so before the room became an even better imitation of a sauna. I also wrestled with a few computer problems -- the joy of a new laptop on the road -- before finally managing to get the column sent. Then I went down to a gathering by the TV Guide Channel because I wanted a glimpse of Joan Rivers. Turned out she had come and gone, and in a message delivered by satellite at that. Oh, well. Tomorrow will bring new adventures.

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