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Montgomery residents “too stupid” for Siegelman documentary

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

The Capri Theater won’t be showing the documentary, “Atticus v. the Architect: The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman,” because its members and the surrounding community are just too stupid.

They’re too stupid to separate fact from fiction.

They’re too stupid to understand that any documentary should be taken as only one source of information on a complicated and complex subject matter.

And they’re just too stupid to figure out some other way to see the film.

Luckily, the Capri board saved these poor, stupid souls from these matters by reaffirming at a meeting on Tuesday evening that it will not be honoring a rental agreement the theater entered to show the pro-Siegelman film.

If you’ve missed the uproar, the board previously voted to rescind the rental agreement after a member – former federal prosecutor Leura Canary – wrote a letter to the board claiming the film was defamatory towards her. She listed several examples of this defamation.

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Chip Hill, a spokesman for the Siegelman family, said Tuesday evening that he “would love” for Canary to put those examples in a lawsuit, “because my single greatest wish is for (her husband) Bill and Leura Canary to sit for a deposition and have to answer questions under oath about their roles in the Siegelman case.”

The Canarys were, of course, major players in Alabama politics – on the side opposite Siegelman – when the former Alabama governor’s troubles began. And there were rumors – and some fairly compelling evidence – that Leura Canary failed to properly recuse from the case, and helped drive a political prosecution.

That story is a long, sordid one, and we don’t have time to get into it all here. The “Atticus” filmmakers did, though. If only we could find a venue to play it.

The Capri, for decades, has been that venue.

The board of the theater has faced down a number of complaints and mini-uproars, held screenings of controversial films and been all the better for it. All of Montgomery and central Alabama have been better for it.

That changed Tuesday night.

The argument against showing the film was this: Leura Canary is a board member, she devotes time and effort to the board, so therefore we shouldn’t show a film that is specifically critical to her.

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In terms of slopes, that’s a greased one.

A decent crowd of about 100 or so Capri members – a group of about 1,000 who donate annually to keep the theater open and operating – showed up to voice their displeasure in the decision. I would guess most in the crowd lean to the left when filling out a ballot, but certainly not all. And there were a few very well known Republicans among the group.

For about an hour, board president Todd Kirk led a discussion of the decision to rescind the rental agreement. Randall Williams, the publisher at New South Books and the founding member of the Capri Film Society in the mid-1980s, asked the board to reconsider.

It was Williams who actually rented the theater in order to show the film, and he said he never intended any personal attack on Leura Canary by doing so.

“There’s a lot of interest in this film here, and this is the kind of film that the Capri has historically taken great pride in showing,” Williams said. “Not because of its political content, but because the Capri has always shown films you can’t see anywhere else in Alabama, especially documentaries.”

Another former board member wanted to know why Leura Canary was even involved in the decision not to show the film, since the board’s conflict of interest policy should have forced her recusal.

She’s really not great at the whole recusal thing.

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When a motion to reconsider the vote to rescind the rental agreement failed due to the lack of a second, the crowd was displeased. And they let the board and Kirk know it with shouts of “cowards” and boos. A few minutes later, Kirk called a Capri member a “sh*t-stirrer,” and that was pretty much the end of it all.

It was probably the most fitting end to the sad exercise – the board president dismissing the very valid concerns of a member with condescension and rudeness.

After all, both attributes are required when a theater board decides the community it serves is too stupid to see certain films.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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