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Back Talk 


There’s been a major casting change in the cinema studies and film production department at Burlington College. After getting the program off the ground five years ago, Kenneth Peck learned recently that his contract won’t be renewed. “They said, ‘You’re too much of a round peg, and we need somebody who fits in a square hole,’” Peck says of his not-so-close encounter with Dean Mary Ann Kistner.

Citing problems with punctuality and his organization of advisee files, Kistner offered Peck a number of unappealing options, including cutting his job back to one day a week. Peck declined, because he felt “the decision to restructure the department was being led by this vindictive act.” Plus, the film program is booming. Burlington College did not return phone calls for this article.

Although he admits to “not being enough of a bureaucrat,” Peck suggests the college benefited from his entrepreneurial efforts to attract an ever-increasing number of cinema students. Vermont filmmakers made out, too, when Peck brought them in as guest lecturers. “Ken has done quite a bit to ... support up-and-coming filmmakers,” says Vermont Film Commissioner, Loranne Turgeon at the Vermont Film Commission, “and he has been assisting the film commission in building a crew base here.” Along those lines, don’t be surprised if Peck winds up working on the next movie by Rutland’s David Giancola. Or he may resurface on the local cinema scene in yet another role: direttore.


It looks like local radio personalities Jim Condon and Louie Manna may be substituting sandwiches for celebrities in the afternoons. The duo was fired last Friday for “economic reasons,” according to Ken Squier, owner of WKDR-AM talk radio in Winooski.

Squier had already moved “The Manno & Condon Show” from mornings to afternoons in April. But there was no promotional hoopla to explain the final solution. Listeners just had to figure it out.

“The following Monday we just weren’t there,” Condon says, still sounding incredulous. After 19 years together in the studio, the always-entertaining Manna and Condon are not about to call it quits. “We have a lot of irons in the fire,” Condon promises, and he might mean that literally. The two may soon be opening a Pearl Street “radio deli” that could give new meaning to the term “cold cuts.” Be forewarned, Condon cautions, “Louie makes a mean meatball.”


It was the best of weeks and the worst of weeks for the Savoy Theater. Over a seven-day period in July, the little movie house in Montpelier broke all attendance records with two fairly obscure movies, one of which was a dialogue-free documentary about a pair of nesting kestrels. But the box-office success was spoiled by an unprecedented tragedy: A regular moviegoer died unexpectedly in the middle of The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.

Forty-eight-year-old Gary Zaret came into the theater a few minutes late, according to projectionist Chris Wood, and found an empty seat against the right-hand wall three rows from the back. In the middle of the film, which was attended by a number of retired baseball players, a couple of viewers noticed he was slumping strangely to the left. On further investigation, they learned that Zaret, an emergency-room doctor who took frequent medical assignments overseas, had suffered a brain aneurysm.

Bread Loaf director Michael Collier was among the literati at the bedside of William Maxwell when the former fiction editor for The New Yorker died, at age 91, on the last day of July. His wife Emily had passed away one week earlier. Collier had met “Emmie and Bill” through his teacher, the poet William Meredith, and they had remained close for almost 20 years. “It was the kind of friendship where you wonder, ‘Why am I so lucky? Why should I be in this room?’” Collier says. “He read almost everything that I wrote.” Collier brought Maxwell to Ripton the first year he ran the writers’ conference, and the editor-author gave a reading that was “rare and unforgettable,” Collier recalls. There’ll be more of those this summer, starting next Wednesday, when Bread Loaf celebrates its 75th.

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About The Author

Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Paula Routly is the cofounder, publisher and coeditor of Seven Days.


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