The Smithereens

Carolina TheatreNot that size or geography should matter, but The Smithereens always threatened to be too burly and too Jersey for a pop band. But that threat existed only on paper, and the group’s ’80s output was an expert repackaging of The Beatles, The Searchers, The Kinks and The Who at their hookiest. It was the Brit Invasion by way of the New Jersey Turnpike, with the Don Dixon-produced Especially for You serving as the on-ramp. With ace tunesmith Pat DiNizio still at the helm, there’s no reason to expect anything different 20-plus years down that eight-lane. Tickets are $32, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Check www.carolinatheatre.org. Rick Cornell


The RialtoAfter being in a life-changing car accident, high school student Lane Middleton decided to do something most of his peers would never consider doing in his situation: write a screenplay. With the help of his filmmaker father, Joseph Middleton (Just Before Dawn and Through the Looking Glass), who directed and funded the production, Middleton set out to tell the story of a high school student who survives a car crash and is forced to re-evaluate his reckless life choices. In this attempt, he meets Grace (Rita Glynn), a girl who prides herself on not fitting in with the stereotypical popular kids and who opens the boy’s eyes to a world beyond drinking and partying.

According to Joseph Middleton, the film has been entered in many festivals and has already won “Best Picture” at the 2009 Appalachian Film Festival. The main problem, however, has been distribution. They are currently in talks with an agent but are not sure how to market the film. “There’s no real niche for the movie,” says Middleton. “It’s kind of an artsy [film]not like a horror film or some nichey filmso it’s kind of hard to sell it, but everyone that’s seen it thinks it’s great.”

That is why the cast and crew are hoping the run at the Rialto will be successful. “The Rialto people like it, and if we pack the theater they will put it on for a regular run, so it will have a limited theatrical there,” Middleton says. “And who knows? We may get a pickup from any major theater from that run.” The film will be screened at 7:20 p.m. today with an additional screening Jan. 21 at the same time. Tickets are $4.50 in advance and $6 at the box office. Visit www.teenagedproduction.com. Belem Destefani

Jennifer Coolidge

Goodnight’s Comedy ClubIt took one simple acronym to put Jennifer Coolidge in the public eye: “MILF.” Since her appearance as the teen-deflowering Stifler’s mom in 1999’s American Pie, the actress says she’s been inundated with scripts for hot moms and oversexed women. But she looks back on the part with fondness. “It’s gotten me a lot of dates,” she says.

Coolidge is at Goodnight’s for a stand-up comedy show tonight through Sunday, though she doesn’t quite know what her set will consist of. “Probably a lot of weird stories about being an actress.” She should have plentythe last decade has made her a familiar face in film and on TV, particularly in such movies as Legally Blonde, A Cinderella Story and Best in Show.

“Kids will go up to me who’ve seen Cinderella and go ‘Are you a bad witch?’ Sometimes you’ll get someone who goes, ‘You’re the crazy evil lady in Pootie Tang!’ Someone said they loved the girl I played on an episode of Friends, and I forgot I did Friends. It all becomes a distant memory.”

In the past year, she’s played a hooker on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a plastic surgery addict on Nip/ Tuck, another mom in Gentlemen Broncos and a small part in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans for Werner Herzog, which starred Nicolas Cage. Coolidge says both Cage and Herzog were a pleasure to work with, despite their gonzo on-set antics. “I had no idea what it would be like working with Nic Cage, but he’s just such a nice person, a real professional.”

And she’s a big supporter of the film, which wraps up its Triangle showings tonight. “I think it’s one of the best movies of the year, and not just because I have a small part in it. Watching it, it was just brilliant. And I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen Nic Cage in. He takes such huge risks sometimes, and he just went for it.” She also praises Werner Herzog as “un-Hollywood” and reveals that despite the outrageous content of his films, he’s “never taken anything stronger than an Aspirin.”

Who would she like to work with? “I always liked Jack Nicholson, and I always hoped one day to get in a movie with him. I’ve always been obsessed with him and Anthony Hopkins. I would love to be like the mother or mentor of Angelina Jolie, or some up-and-coming young actress and show her how to operate the high-powered guns.”

Despite her prolific output, Coolidge says her acting plans this year are unclear. “I’m doing the standup so I don’t get bored with my life,” she says. “When you live in Hollywood, it’s like you’re behind a tall hedge, this life that doesn’t feel normal. I started doing standup as a lark, but you get to fly everywhere and hang out with people at hotels and get to know the area. I’ve gotten to see all these parts of the United States I never would have seen otherwise. It’s like there’s this whole life I’ve been missing.”

She’s looking forward to checking out the local sights in Raleigh, which could include the flea market. “I have yet to go to a city where they don’t have a good flea market,” she says. “It’s hard to find places where people are enthusiastic about what’s local. I went on a date with this guy at one stop, and he took me to the mall.” Visit www.goodnightscomedy.com for show details. Zack Smith