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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Fox Theatre fundraisers, "25 Hill" reflect same theme

  • "It's really about Americans saving Main Street," Filmmaker Corbin Bernsen says at Fox benefit
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  • A Main Street runs through just about every small town in America.
    In Taft, it's Center Street, where the historic and embattled Fox Theatre stands.
    But the Main Street values that have inspired a groundswell of support to raise money to keep the Fox from closing again are the same values reflected in Corbin Bernsen's movie, 25 Hill.
    Saturday, Bernsen's movie and the Fox got together at last in another fundraiser to raise money to buy the digital projection equipment the theater needs to keep it open after the first of the year.
    Bernsen's film, with some scenes shot in Taft in 2010, is part of a similar effort – keeping the Soap Box Derby going.
    The race, held annually in Dayton, Ohio, is a part of Americana that was heavily in debt and in danger of going under.
    Bernsen sees parallels between Taft and Dayton.
    "It's really about Americans saving Main Street," he said Saturday at the Fox, where 25 Hill screened twice to sellout crowds. "Main Street is where we had community. The Derby was one of those things, too. We were losing things. We were losing our Derby, we were losing our theater."
    "People are saying 'Help us save our community, help us save who we are," he continued. "A lot of bad things that are happening are happening because we've lost our Main Street."
    But now both the Fox and the Derby are apparently safe.
Enough money has been raised to make the downpayment on the digital equipment the Fox needs.
Bernsen has strong ties to Taft. The title of the movie comes from a Taft landmark, and he spent a lot of time here as a young boy.
His mother, Jeanne Cooper, went to school here before going in to an acting career that led her to becoming a star of daytime drama.
    Bernsen said he never forgot what he learned here.
    "I learned about community here. I learned about what matters."
    Coming back to Taft this time was bittersweet.
    It is his first visit here since the death of his mother on May 8.
    Bernsen spoke to the audience both before and after the screening of the movie about the film, the theater and his connection to Taft.
    "This is my first time back here without my mother, so I did this to honor her and to honor Taft," he said.
    Bernsen loaded up on food and drink (Dots and a soft drink) at the snack bar before heading into the theater to watch the movie .
    "It's so much more fun watching it with people. That's what movie theaters are all about."

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