Our Smart Talk this week mentions the ongoing interest in the West Memphis Three, convicted of killing three West Memphis children in 1993. Here’s another angle.

The piano on which John Lennon supposedly composed “Imagine” was set up at the Crittenden County Courthouse in Marion last Friday, part of a project by the piano’s owner to take it to places where terrible violence has occurred. “Imagine” was played in Marion as it was at Waco, Columbine and Oklahoma City, among others. It will eventually be taken to the site of the World Trade Center.

Mara Leveritt, who writes about the Arkansas stop at maraleveritt.com, says the British musician George Michael bought the piano in 1970 for $2.1 million. He and his partner, Kenny Goss, have had it on the road.

“By taking the piano to all these sites,” Michael told Leveritt, “we are reminded that violence has long been a part of our history.”

Movie star

Jeff Nichols, the Little Rock-born filmmaker whose debut film, “Shotgun Stories,” recently racked up accolades at the Tribeca Film Fest, seems to be on a roll. Killer Films, one of the leaders in independent film over the last several decades (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), recently announced that Nichols will direct the screen adaptation of Brad Land’s acclaimed memoir “Goat.” The book tells the story of Land’s relationship with his brother and how a kidnapping and assault and subsequent college fraternity hazing affect their bond.

“It’s such a good, important story,” Nichols said by phone recently. “And practically it makes a lot of sense for me as a filmmaker. I have other stories of my own that I want to tell, but ones that would be hard to get funded for my second film.”

The film was originally slated to go to another Little Rock native, David Gordon Green. When Green’s schedule filled up, he suggested Nichols for the job.

Nichols says that he doesn’t have a sense of what the film’s budget will be exactly, but that’ll it be “legit,” definitely in the multimillions.

A new mansion mission

An idea put forward years ago by documentary filmmaker Sandra Hubbard to turn the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House, where the Women’s Emergency Committee was formed, into a women’s center is still alive.

The house, an antebellum structure at Seventh and Rock streets more commonly known as the Terry Mansion, was donated to the city by the Terry family for use as a cultural center, and the Arkansas Arts Center operated it as the Decorative Arts Museum beginning in 1985. The Arts Center closed the Decorative Arts Museum in 2003.

A group has begun meeting to arrive at a mission for the house, built by lawyer and political figure Albert Pike and later the home of poet John Gould Fletcher and Adolphine Terry, founder of the women’s group that reopened the schools in the wake of the 1957 integration crisis. That mission could include history exhibits, programming to address women’s concerns, a place to hold symposiums and other uses.

The Arts Center has dubbed the Terry Mansion the Community Arts Center and holds exhibits there sporadically.


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