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The Marquis Theater in Middlebury has changed hands - from one local couple to another. Ed and Liz Flynn, who owned the downtown moviehouse for about three years, recently sold it to Bill and Cecilia Shafer. The cinema has "been there 80 or 90 years. Everyone has some attachment to it. That's interesting to me," says Bill, who owned Advance Music in Burlington for 12 years. For the last decade, the family has been running a commercial greenhouse business in New Haven.

Market gardening is a far cry from movie projection, but Bill has "no illusions of grandeur." What about Grand Illusion? Don't expect too many foreign or independent titles at the Marquis. Bill says he feels "mandated to preserve a tradition." In this case, that means commercial films for "regular moviegoers."

The concessions will be upgraded, though, with more healthy snacks. Creemees will be available inside and out via a sidewalk service window. "We want to take advantage of the storefront," Bill notes. Main Street it is.


Maybe it's because writer/performer Tina Fey left to helm her own sitcom. Maybe, despite its capacity to generate viral videos, it's just been unfunny for too long. For whatever reason, NBC's warhorse "Saturday Night Live" has slipped in the national Nielsen TV ratings - and in northern Vermont, it's making way for some homegrown comedy. Bruce Grindle, general sales manager at WCAX, reports that the station's locally produced variety show "Late Night Saturday" got a 2.1 household rating during the crucial November sweeps period, beating "SNL's" 1.9. Filmed at Champlain College's Alumni Auditorium - though unlike "SNL," not on Saturday night - "LNS" features skits, local music and interviews with Vermont notables such as film director Jay Craven (January 20) and Chris Bohjalian, who'll be talking about his new novel on February 10.

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