TERRE HAUTE —
If insults are a form of flattery, Steve Martin still likes us.
Better yet, he hasn’t forgotten us.
Sure, Terre Haute probably amounts to just a strange blip in his life as an American comedy icon. Still, it’s likely that if an acquaintance or a stranger in an airport randomly mentions those two words, “Terre Haute,” Martin chuckles to himself. This place is an entertaining memory for him, despite the urban legends about his supposedly infamous concert here 35 years ago.
A miserable, random moment for the comedian morphed into a weird bond between this city and Martin, resembling the awkward alignment of two stranded travelers in Martin’s 1987 movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” In 1978, Terre Haute served as the real-life equivalent of John Candy’s “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” character, Del Griffith. Neal Page — the picky, tightly wound executive played by Martin — gets stuck with the slovenly, talkative Griffith as a snowstorm forces them to attempt one alternate form of travel after another, with disastrous results. Griffith’s faults drive Page nuts, but the uptight, criticizing businessman and the shower-curtain-ring salesman become unlikely friends in the end.
So, does Terre Haute occupy a soft spot in Steve Martin’s heart? Maybe.
On Saturday, Martin visited the Hoosier state as a musician. (Yes, for those of you who lost track of Martin after his “wild-and-crazy-guy” days, he’s become a renaissance man of the arts as an actor, author, poet, playwright, pianist and banjoist.) He played banjo alongside pop singer Edie Brickell for a concert in Indianapolis’ Murat Theatre, performing songs from their duet album, “Love Has Come for You.” Before last week’s show, Martin spoke with the Indianapolis Star’s David Lindquist for an interview. The topic of Terre Haute came up.
Lindquist asked Martin about his Terre Haute saga, which began with a concert on Nov. 18, 1978, in Hulman Center, followed by his frustration over failing to find any open downtown restaurants and a plethora of fertilizer ads on local TV, describing the city as “Nowhere, USA” in a Playboy interview, and then making a hilarious return visit for a tongue-in-cheek grand tour of the town on Dec. 7, 1979. Impressed, he recanted, pledged faux allegiance to Terre Haute, and insisted Abilene, Texas, was more of a “Nowhere.”
As a goodwill gesture, Martin premiered his first movie, “The Jerk,” at the old Towne South Cinema here. He also made derisive Terre Haute references a running joke in his material. In his 1982 film “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” Martin’s character saved the world from a sinister plot, except for Terre Haute — the only place wiped out by a deadly cheese mold. “Damn, and they were about to get a public library,” the film’s hero said of the city.
Reminded of that era by Lindquist, Martin zinged the Haute once again.
“A long time ago, but that was a fun excursion,” Martin told the Star last week. “I’m sure Terre Haute has two-story buildings by now.”
Yes, Steve, the town today features an astonishing number of those new-fangled, multi-level structures, and has a wonderful public library, though it is, alas, just one-story tall, above ground. Indoor plumbing is common. Automobiles fill the streets, which are paved.
Seriously, Martin’s gentle jab was good to hear. Sure, the most defensive locals might want to bring Martin back here to show him the livelier and growing downtown, the Heritage Trail, the Arts Corridor, a 2013 Year of the River event, the college campuses, Deming Park, the Terre Haute Children’s Museum or the Blues at the Crossroads festival — maybe then “that Steve Martin” would recognize this is a special place.
Earnest as such irked people might be, they’d also be missing the point.
Instead of focusing on the “two-story buildings” quip, consider more deeply his “fun excursion” comment. Terre Haute has a sense of humor. The town showed movie star, comic performer and musician Steve Martin a good time. And he remembers. Maybe a video and photo gallery dedicated to the Steve Martin days would fit in the Vigo County Historical Museum or a Hulman Center display case.
Or, perhaps it’s best kept in memories. Martin grins inside when he hears “Terre Haute.” Hauteans do the same thing when they hear “Steve Martin.” That’s a gift, not an insult.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@ tribstar.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
If insults are a form of flattery, Steve Martin still likes us.
‘Game of Thrones’ earns a leading 19 Emmy nods
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The sprawling and bloodthirsty saga “Game of Thrones,” defying the Emmy Awards’ grudging respect for such fantasy fare, emerged as the leader in the nominations announced today with 19 bids, including best drama series.
Ohio Boulevard home built to promote 1948 movie
It isn’t often that you get to meet a movie star right here in Terre Haute, but on July 20 you’ll have the chance to do just that — almost.
Dragons Double Feature June 12 at ShowPlace 12
Tickets for Dragons Double Feature in RealD® 3D are on sale now at ShowPlace 12 in Terre Haute.
The June 12 event begins with 2010’s “How to Train Your Dragon” at 6 p.m. and concludes with the 8 p.m. release of the summer’s most anticipated animated film, “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
Red Skelton fest in Vincennes June 6, 7
The city of Vincennes will “Paint the town Red” June 6 and 7 during the Red Skelton Festival that will feature a variety of activities for young and old. The annual festival honors Vincennes native Red Skelton, America’s most beloved clown.
University: Poet, author Maya Angelou dies at 86
Maya Angelou, a Renaissance woman and cultural pioneer, has died, Wake Forest University said in a statement today. She was 86. Angelou had served as a professor of American studies at the school since 1982. Angelou had been set to appear this week at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Luncheon, but canceled in recent days citing an unspecified illness.
Jake Owen coming to Hulman Center in September
Nashville recording artists Jake Owen and the Eli Young Band will perform in concert Sept. 13 in Hulman Center at Terre Haute, according to the concert calendar website pollstar.com.
Barbara Walters sets May 16 for exit
NEW YORK (AP) — Barbara Walters plans to make her final appearance on “The View” on May 16, part of a daylong retirement celebration that will include ABC News naming its New York headquarters after her.
Prism of modern country on display at ACM Awards
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The new artist of the year category at the 2014 Academy of Country Music Awards is a primer in Modern Country 101 with three nominees who perfectly capture the genre’s 21st century sound: Brett Eldredge of Paris, Ill., Justin Moore of Arkansas and Kip Moore of Nashville.
April loaded with live music at Ambrosini’s
Terre Haute is home to many great musicians, as Steve Smith is readily aware. For the past 20 years, Smith has been hiring them to perform at Ambrosini’s Pizzeria. So to kick off spring and April, Smith is offering live music three days a week, all in honor of his 20 years of operations.
Kokomo woman doesn’t regret quitting ’Survivor’
KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) — A Kokomo woman’s decision to quit “Survivor: Cagayan” during last week’s episode left millions of viewers outraged, some even taking to social media afterward to call her “a loser,” “pathetic” and not even worthy of being part of the reunion show at the end.
Minecraft Mania hits Terre Haute Children’s Museum
Minecraft and learning will collide on Thursday, April 3, when eBash Video Game Center presents Minecraft Mania at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum. The classes are being sponsored by Duke Energy.
Voting begins for Valley country star
Brett Eldredge, a country music rising star — and proud Wabash Valley native — is one of the nominees for New Artist of the Year at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards.
‘12 Years a Slave’ wins best picture at Oscars
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.
VIDEO: The Grascals have Wabash Valley’s toes tappin’
Bluegrass fans came from all four corners of the Wabash Valley to see Nashville, Tenn.-based band The Grascals — and its Vigo County-native member — in concert Friday night in Union Christian Church.
Jo-Ann Jones of Clinton was “pew dancing” in front of the sold-out crowd.
VIDEO: The Grascals give 2nd bluegrass concert in Terre Haute
Bluegrass fans came from all four corners of the Wabash Valley to see Nashville, Tenn.-based band The Grascals in concert Friday night in Union Christian Church.
Audience gets first look at ‘The Drunk’
For one night, Hollywood came to Terre Haute.
The Indiana Theatre was packed Saturday with close to 1,300 excited movie-goers, film extras, actors and supporters for the much-anticipated official premiere of the movie, “The Drunk.”
Shirley Temple, iconic child star, dies at 85
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, has died. She was 85.
Rock of Ages: Hulman Center stage has been entertaining crowds since 1974
As the stage lights came on, Sam Wellington and his cohorts gazed out at an audience of 8,060 Midwesterners.
The scene was familiar for him. Wellington and his country music quartet, The Four Guys, opened shows night after night for fellow RCA Records artists Ronnie Millsap and headliner Charley Pride on tours across North America.
Concert venue proposed for Indianapolis site
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A large outdoor concert amphitheater is among the proposals being made for the redevelopment of a closed General Motors metal-stamping plant site near downtown Indianapolis.
Grace Kelly Quintet to perform at Rose-Hulman
She’s been called a fearless young improviser, a phenom and the future of jazz. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Hatfield Hall will welcome jazz saxophone sensation Grace Kelly and the Grace Kelly Quintet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
No Intermission: Character meets demise on ‘Walking Dead,’ but lively acting career continues for Terre Haute’s Jose Pablo Cantillo
Characters often make dramatic exits from television shows.
Few could top Terre Haute-raised actor Jose Pablo Cantillo’s departure last month from AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
The scene occurred in the fourth season of cable TV’s most popular drama series ever.
MARK BENNETT: Album turns memories into musical Christmas message for Terre Haute’s Dave Frey, band
In a way, Dave Frey walked in the footsteps of Charles Schulz.
Both men worked hard to let Linus Van Pelt explain the “true meaning of Christmas.”
Country star to return home for ‘Brett Eldredge Day’
Atlantic Records’ Brett Eldredge wraps up the best year yet of his career at the top of Billboard’s Country Airplay Year-End Chart. In a year marked with a series of memorable milestones, the powerhouse vocalist not only had one of the top, most-played country songs with “Don’t Ya,” he also released his debut album, “Bring You Back,” scored his first No. 1 single with “Don’t Ya” and received a CMA nomination for New Artist of the Year.
After just wrapping up his first headlining club tour, Eldredge is scheduled to return to his roots when he is to be honored in his hometown of Paris, Ill., at “Brett Eldredge Day” at 4 p.m. Sunday at Paris High School.
Vincennes Watermelon Drop bringing Gallagher to town
Comedian Gallagher is kicking off his “Last Smash” tour on New Year’s Eve at the sixth annual Watermelon Drop in Vincennes. He will perform at a 5 p.m. show at Vincennes Lincoln High School’s Ader Auditorium.
Effingham Center bringing ‘Home for Holidays’ show
“Home for the Holidays-American Big Band” is bringing all-time Christmas favorites from Bing to Buble to the Effingham Performance Center at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 19.
Young pianist at EIU’s Doudna Oct. 29
CHARLESTON, Ill. — Eleven-year-old William Yang has been traveling the globe giving piano performances and winning piano competitions since he was 7. Yang will bring his talent to Eastern Illinois University’s Doudna Fine Arts Center on Oct. 29. The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Tickets are now available.
Sammy Terry show Oct. 19 in Indiana Theatre
It’s October and Sammy Terry time.
- Live event listings: Oct. 10, 2013
The sounds of ‘The Wabash’
A second musical compilation reflecting the Wabash River will be unveiled in a release party Friday at Art Spaces Inc.
Musicians Hall of Fame jam, picnic Sunday on Shrine Hill
The Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame invites the community to its Picnic & Jam scheduled noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at Shrine County Place, 4500 E. Temple Ave. in Terre Haute.
- More Entertainment Headlines
- ‘Game of Thrones’ earns a leading 19 Emmy nods