HeldenFiles: Stars coming to Northeast Ohio

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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ABC's "Nashville" stars Jonathan Jackson as Avery Barkley. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)

Jonathan Jackson, known to TV viewers for playing Lucky Spencer on General Hospital and more recently Avery Barkley on Nashville, will be in Akron on June 7 for a talk at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Jackson and his wife, Elisa, will talk about their conversion to Orthodox Christianity. Jackson has been very public about his faith. In 2012, when he won his fifth daytime Emmy, Jackson’s acceptance speech included a shout-out to the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos in Greece.

Nikki Bober, president of the Orthodox Christian Women of Akron, saw the speech and also noticed that Jackson crossed himself in the Orthodox style. Later, when discussing events for the women’s group, Bober thought a dream guest would be Jackson. She tracked down the church he attends in Tennessee, where she knew the priest, and managed an introduction to Jackson.

She was very impressed upon meeting him. When she asked if he would consider coming to the church’s event, he replied, “I would have to pray about it.” He did and, even with a busy schedule that also includes work with the band Enation, he agreed to the talk.

The June 7 event will be at 10:45 a.m., with lunch following at 12:30 p.m. Doors open at 10 a.m. At this point, Jackson is committed only to giving the talk. I’ll update if there’s news about an autograph session or other meet-and-greet.

Tickets are $15 and must be paid for in advance. People who have pre-purchased will pick up their tickets at the event; there will be no new sales at the door.

To order tickets, contact Bober at 330-409-3552, Cindy Spanos at 330-983-5075 or the church at 330-434-0000, or send your name, address and a check made out to Orthodox Christian Women to the group in care of Maria Moore, 2418 Stockbridge Road, Akron 44313. Deadline is May 30.

Stars Stars Due. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, Divergent) will be part of a group representing the new movie The Fault in Our Stars during a Cleveland visit at 5 p.m. Wednesday, The specific location will be announced at 1:30 p.m. Sunday via http://thefaultinourstarsmovie.com.

The visit is part of a four-city tour to states that received the most votes in an online Demand Our Stars competition. (It does not include a screening of the movie, which opens nationwide on June 6.) Besides Woodley, local visitors will be John Green, whose novel inspired the film, and actors Ansel Elgort and Nat Wolff.

The story focuses on Hazel (played by Woodley), an oxygen-tank-toting young woman with cancer and what happens after she meets Gus (Elgort), a charismatic contemporary who has lost a leg to cancer; their small circle includes Isaac (Wolff), another youth with cancer.

If that all sounds too terribly sad, ask the young adults you know, who have likely read the book. Green’s novel gives the characters strong voices, wit and wisdom, as it takes them down some unexpected paths.

Dafoe. Da Fangs. Actor Willem Dafoe will be at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque on June 7 (yes, the same date as the Jonathan Jackson appearance) for a screening of his 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire. In fact, the Cinematheque is having a Dafoe weekend, with the Ohio premiere of 2008’s The Dust of Time (in the Capitol Theater) on June 5, then the June 6 presentations of 1986’s Platoon and 2007’s Go Go Tales. Go Go will also be an Ohio premiere.

As for Shadow of the Vampire, it’s a fictionalized version of the making of the silent vampire classic Nosferatu, with Dafoe as Max Schreck, who — as Cinematheque puts it — “takes method acting to new levels.” Dafoe scored a supporting-actor Oscar nomination for his work; he was nominated in the same category for Platoon.

The theater promises a wide-ranging Q&A with Dafoe. Tickets for the event are $20, $15 for Cinematheque members, or — at the door, if seats are available — $12 for people 25 and under. Cash and check only at the door. You can get the $20 and $15 tickets in advance only at http://willemdafoe.brownpapertickets.com.

Dashed expectations. When I attended a screening of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at Cinemark Valley View on Wednesday, I saw (and heard) a reminder of how well various Marvel movies have trained people to wait through the closing credits for a possible teaser for another film. Most of the audience waited patiently through name after name — and let out a loud groan when the credits ended teaser-free.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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