Friday, April 15, 2011

Maine Revolutionary War Fort is Site for PBS ‘History Detectives’ Shoot

A Revolutionary War fort that once protected the approaches to the Piscataqua River in Kittery was the location recently for an investigation and taping by a crew from the popular PBS series, “History Detectives.”
A group of 20 Revolutionary War re-enactors from the Friends of Fort McClary joined the Lion TV crew at Fort McClary State Historic Site in Kittery to tell the story of an unusual wooden telescope discovered by a Kittery Point man and shared with television show. The fort is managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, under the Maine Department of Conservation.
“History Detectives” host Elyse Luray joined the crew to track down the original owner and to find out whether the telescope was used during the American Revolution. During the daylong taping, Luray also interviewed Dr. Steven Eames, professor of history at Mount Ida College, Newton, Mass., about the 1745 Battle of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, which plays a part in the story.
The episode is expected to air during the show’s ninth season sometime this summer, according to Lion TV producers. Because the show involves a mystery and revelation about the artifact, some of it remains confidential, they said.
“Shooting at Fort McClary was such a treat,” Robin Hutchins, Lion TV associate producer, said. “The park staff went above and beyond, and their help made the day run smoothly. Fort McClary is an amazing piece of early American history, and we were lucky enough to get a chance to see it brought to life by the Friends of Fort McClary! I hope we will get an opportunity return soon.”
“Fort McClary was amazing -- it was like a cinematographer’s dream come true,” Shervin Hess, Lion TV producer, said. “Each shot was better than the last. I think this will be one of the prettiest interviews we have shot all season. The park staff was incredibly gracious and made sure the day went smoothly. I hope ‘History Detectives’ will bring us back to Fort McClary one day in the near future.”
“We were happy to host ‘History Detectives’ at Fort McClary, and we hope the many people watching the show will want to visit this and our other historic sites and parks,” Will Harris, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands director, said. “It’s great to be able to showcase one of our premier historic sites on a national television show.”
“We had a good, long Sunday at the fort, with the 20 re-enactors and the ‘History Detectives’ crew,” Park Manager Glenn Dochtermann said. “All in all, it went well, great weather, nice people and all had a great time. Many people visiting the fort were interested in the filming, and everyone was very understanding and just watched a few minutes before going back to their sightseeing.”
“History Detectives” is a popular PBS series in which history investigators examine the history behind potentially extraordinary objects in everyday American homes, cities and small towns. During the process, they also review legends, folklore and personal histories related to the objects. The series is co-produced by Lion Television and Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Fort McClary was used for this episode to represent the Nova Scotia battleground site. The fort, named for New Hampshire native Major Andrew McClary, who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill, has stood at its Kittery location for more than 275 years. It is one of the state’s most important historic forts, as it represents several different periods of military fortification. It was garrisoned during five U.S. wars, but saw little conflict.
The show’s investigation involves a wooden telescope discovered by a Kittery man when he moved into his great-aunt’s house. Antique dealers are unfamiliar with the object, according to the show’s producers, and can’t date the telescope. The Kittery man hopes the telescope belonged to his ancestor who served on the Raleigh, one of America’s first naval war ships during the American Revolution.
The taping of the show is the second one to take place in recent months at a one of Maine’s 17 state historic sites. In February, a crew from SyFy Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” taped a segment at Fort Knox State Historic Site in Prospect.
For more information about “History Detectives,” visit and
Photo caption: A Lion TV crew shoots a segment of “History Detectives” recently at Fort McClary State Historic Site, Kittery, as show host Elyse Luray interviews Dr. Steven Eames, professor of history at Mount Ida College, Newton, Mass. (Courtesy photo)

Student Qualifies for Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Finals

Berwick Academy Upper School sophomore, Camden Carter of York, ME, who rides with the York Equestrian Team, placed 4th in the Varsity Intermediate Over Fences Hunt Seat class against eleven other riders at Zone 1 Finals held at Mount Holyoke College recently. This placement qualifies her for National Finals at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, at the end of April. Camden rides with trainer and coaches, Kate McDaniel, Stephanie Plaisted and Deanna Kravetz at Greystone Stables in Berwick, Maine.
In addition, there were twelve competing IEA upper school teams at this event. The top five teams proceed to the Nationals. The York Team placed 4th, qualifying them also to compete at Nationals. The team includes members from several surrounding seacoast communities. Riders at an IEA competition do not use their own horses or tack. Host teams supply all horses and equipment for students at the show. The horse is new to the rider and scores are based on rider skill and horsemanship, not the horse.
The Interscholastic Equestrian Association objectives are designed to promote upper and middle school equestrians as athletes with organized competitive opportunities, education in equine sports, safe riding instruction and competition as well as some opportunities to earn scholarships toward college education. For more information about IEA riding you can visit their website at
Camden participates on the Berwick Academy JV hockey and soccer teams in addition to the York Equestrian team. Camden and her teammates will compete in the national finals on Thursday, April 28 in Maryland.
Photo caption: Berwick Academy sophomore Camden Carter of York recently qualified to participated in a National Finals equestrian competition in Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Opening Scenes: ‘Arthur’

By Chip Schrader
Movie Reviewer
“Arthur” begins with a close up of a man putting on Batman’s gloves followed by a scanning shot of liquor bottles. The montage continues with scenes of Russell Brand dressing as Batman and an impressive collection of bottled hard liquor. After blowing bubbles, Brand greets “cheers” and downs a strong drink before enter the Batmobile with a man dressed in green bikini briefs posing as Robin. A high-speed chase down New York City ensues, and comes to a hilarious and symbolic end with the Wall Street bull crashed on the hood. Brand answers the officer, “I have remained drunk since our last encounter.”
While these first scenes are well covered in the previews and commercial spots, there is plenty of fun left for the rest of the movie. Russell Brand reprises the role of Arthur with the expected manic and witty persona that makes him the cross-comedic offspring of Robin Williams and Monty Python. He delivers his lines clean as the cut of a scalpel, but brings an emotional depth that was lacking in Dudley Moore’s portrayal.
Brand’s personal struggle with addiction seems to allow him to bring a sense of tragedy to the role, and expands his range as an actor as he can be serious, heartbroken, and hilarious at the turn of a scene. He is well balanced by Helen Mirren’s role of Ms. Hobson, Arthur’s nanny. The man who never grew up is well matched by her wit and her maternal wisdom while his own mother keeps him at arm’s length.
Arthur’s love interest, Naomi, has an interesting story with her dream to write children’s stories and rise above poverty. The character is not far from the original version portrayed by Liza Minnelli, but sadly, she comes off as simple-minded and sappy, rather than as a real person. It makes for a nice contrast to Arthur, whereas his moral match, Susan, is played adequately by Jennifer Garner. Like Naomi, Susan doesn’t seem like a very challenging character, but amusing at the very least.
While the most important elements of the story from the original version are intact, along with one or two vital scenes, the majority of the film takes a different sequence and completely different scenes to update the story. The economic decline, Paris Hilton-like faux pas, and seventies and eighties film references bring a great deal of interest to the new version.
Bottom line: while “Arthur” is neither beautifully shot nor does it have strong supporting characters, Brand and Mirren are dynamite. If anything, “Arthur” is proof that Brand is ready to have top billing, and is capable of carrying a two-hour movie from beginning to end. He keeps the audience laughing and believing every scene. Even with Naomi being an oversweet character, their romance works. The humor is quick, thoughtful, and most importantly, funny. The elements of humanity and human struggle Brand brings to Arthur is sincere, but doesn’t bring the mood of the movie down. This human element was woefully missing from the original. 3.5 out of 5.
Photo caption: (Courtesy movie poster from “Arthur”)