It won’t come early

It’s going to be awhile yet, but chances are good “Come Early Morning,” the film written and directed by North Little Rock native Joey Lauren Adams and filmed in Central Arkansas last year, will eventually have a screening here.

The film, which stars Ashley Judd, has a distributor and will open in four or five out-of-state theaters in November, Adams said last week. If it does well, it will go into wider release.

“I want to arrange some sort of screening, maybe a benefit” in Little Rock, Adams said. “Hopefully the movie will do well enough to get there on its own.”

“Come Early Morning” tells the story of a 30-something woman in a small town confronting her own and her family’s demons. Locations included the Forge bar in Levy and Adams’ grandmother’s house in Lakewood.

Adams’ latest role is in “The Break-Up,” starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. She recently bought a house in Oxford, Miss., and plans to move there soon and begin work on a new screenplay.

A lot of money on the line

The Walton family has been spending millions to influence Congress to change various laws to protect their controlling interest in Wal-Mart stock. A key battle was waged last week, when the Senate fell three votes short of the number necessary for a vote on outright repeal of the estate tax. Now opponents of the tax are pushing a compromise — a dramatic reduction in the tax, from a top marginal rate of 46 percent to 30 percent on estates of more than $30 million.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln was one of only four Democrats to support the estate tax repeal. She claims it would be a boon to “small” businesses. Lincoln’s steadfast support for an estate tax repeal has won her the Waltons’ steadfast friendship — some $50,000 in political contributions since 2004.

The outlay on Lincoln is small against the potential return. The Waltons’ roughly $80 billion in Wal-Mart holdings, if subject to today’s top estate tax rate, could mean a $37 billion tax bill. Even the “compromise” waiting in the wings would save them a cumulative $13 billion. Small business, indeed.

Name dropping

A long law enforcement career ended in embarrassment last week for Ray Carnahan, 62, the former federal marshal for the Eastern District of Arkansas and a veteran of the State Police before that.

Carnahan pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a state wildlife officer who’d stopped Carnahan Oct. 1 on a remote forest road in Scott County. Carnahan wasn’t happy about the stop, disobeyed the officer, Michael Gray, on several occasions and later tried to get Gray fired. The investigation of his complaint had a different outcome — the federal charge against Carnahan. It was a plea bargain entered after the feds dropped a felony charge of obstruction of justice. He’ll be sentenced later.

The marshal is a White House patronage job. Carnahan acted like someone with connections, according to Game and Fish Commission reports on the incident obtained by the Times under the Freedom of Information Act. When Carnahan told Gray that he wanted to talk to his supervisor, Gray said he commented that maybe Carnahan’s supervisor needed to speak with Gray’s supervisor. “You can call the president,” Carnahan reportedly responded.

Carnahan was accompanied that day by his son Chris, a former executive director of the state Republican Party. Officer Boyd Hicks said Chris Carnahan was “rude and arrogant,” yelling at him at one point, “How about if I just call Sheffield Nelson.” Nelson is a prominent Republican appointed to the Game and Fish Commission by Gov. Mike Huckabee.

If Carnahan ever did call Nelson, it didn’t do the family much good. The Carnahans still contend that Gray had acted out of line that day in the woods.


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