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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 02:25 pm

Cap City

Untitled Document OUR OWN INFORMANT The best part of getting close to Matt Damon on the movie set for The Informant was — get this — the food. At least that’s the account we get from Jill Egizii, an extra who sat just behind Damon (winner of People magazine’s 2007 “Sexiest Man of the Year,” no less) — during the filming of a dinner scene Sunday night at the Illini Country Club. “He isn’t striking. He isn’t looming. There’s nothing about him that’s movie-star like. He’s just a little average looking guy with a wedgie haircut,” Egizii says. Wedgie? “Yeah, like Dorothy Hamill!” she says. Of course, everybody in the shot had to have their best early-’90s do working to be in the brief scene featuring Damon, as Archer Daniels Midland vice president Mark Whitacre, conferring with an FBI agent played by St. Louis native Scott Bakula (of Quantum Leap fame).
Egizii says she was fascinated by the efficiency of the Steven Soderbergh production’s Red cam, a digital-cinematography breakthrough that debuted just last year, and something else red — the snapper, which was part of an entire smorgasbord set out by the Illini: “I also had some jicama relish, which was really good!”

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN As a state lawmaker, Larry McKeon earned a reputation as a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. Perhaps he was making up for the 14 years he spent concealing his homosexuality while working for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which he described as “a very heterosexual, homophobic, sexist, and racist environment.” Or, maybe, he simply understood that in Illinois politics you can’t always catch more flies with honey — sometimes a spoonful of castor oil is needed. That’s what McKeon did in 1999 when he stirred controversy by outing the gay siblings of three Republican state legislators — retaliation for the GOP’s blocking equal-rights legislation aimed at homosexuals.
McKeon, Illinois’ first openly homosexual lawmaker, later apologized for his actions, which even upset many gay-rights activists, then retracted that apology, telling Illinois Times three years ago: “I think it’s disgusting and hypocritical when people place their political ambitions over the most basic needs of a member of their immediate family” [see Todd Spivak, “Out but not down,” March 24, 2005].
On May 13, McKeon passed away in Springfield at the age of 63 after having a stroke. A memorial service was held Tuesday at the Capitol.
SIX THROUGH THE GATE GateHouse Media Inc., the parent of the State Journal-Register, is expanding its presence in central Illinois.
Early last week, Macomb-based Eagle Publications of Western Illinois Inc., announced plans to sell its six titles — the Macomb Eagle, Abingdon Argus-Sentinel, Augusta Eagle-Scribe, Roseville Independent, McDonough County This Week and Daily Brief — to GateHouse, headquartered in Fairport, N.Y.
Tom Hutson and his wife, Eunice, purchased several newspapers in the area in 1997. Two years later, they founded Eagle Publications and launched the Macomb paper. Tom estimates the group’s dailies have a combined circulation of 4,000. The free McDonough County weekly, he says, has a circulation of approximately 15,000. He declines to say how much GateHouse will pay for the company.
The Hutsons say the sale is best for the communities the papers serve and will enable the couple to move closer to family. Tom has accepted a position with GateHouse as publisher of the Pontiac Daily Leader. Even though some residents have said they’ll be sad to see the Hustons leave, Tom says, “We’ve got their support. The town has been very supportive of us since the beginning.”

THE CLOCK’S TICKING It’s full steam ahead for bicentennial planners looking to make Honest Abe’s 200th birthday a party to remember. In the nation’s capital, the Motorola Foundation recently surprised the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission with a $100,000 grant to sponsor a special gala in February 2009. This month the Menard County Trails and Greenways group will host an affair a little closer to home: Lincoln’s Long-Gait Hike, a one- to five-mile event scheduled for Monday, May 26, at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site. Hikers can walk and talk with naturalists on the trails and visit the historic site afterward. For more information, call 217-632-4000.
Lincoln fans have other numerous big-event tributes, exhibits, and ceremonies in the works for the coming year [see Amanda Robert, “On Lincoln’s Trail, Feb. 7].
ICE SHOULD BE TRANSPARENT In response to recent internal criticism, the Springfield Figure Skating Club Board of Directors sent club members a mass e-mail, informing them that United States Figure Skating had already completed a bylaw review.
“While they had some suggestions for improving our bylaws, USFS has cleared the Club of the complaints against SFSC,” the board wrote in the e-mail, obtained by Illinois Times last week. Attached to the e-mail was a letter, dated May 9, sent to board president Teresa Chessare from USFS national chair of membership Maureen Dalton. In the letter, Dalton says that the USFS did not “note anything of major consequence” in its review of SFSC but suggests more transparency in club bylaws and the inclusion of voting privileges or restrictions in the SFSC policy manual. The national organization’s review was triggered by a member’s complaint about the group’s recent election [see Amanda Robert, “Tip of the iceberg?” May 15]. Chessare could not be reached for comment by press time.
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