Giving It Up

After 10 years of marketing Seattle to filmmakers as the place to make movies, Donna James is calling it quits. James, whose official title is Director of the Mayor's Office of Film and Music, has been promoting Seattle's image as a film- and tourism-friendly city since 1994. Under her direction, the office oversaw the production of TV commercials, issued city permits, and acted as a liaison for the film and music industries. Though much has changed since James first started under the direction of Mayor Norm Rice, the current mayor's office claims that there are no plans to head in a different direction after James' departure. IVAN LIU

Moving On Up

Two local music acts have been called up to the big leagues--both singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile and crunchy pop outfit the Lashes have signed to Columbia Records. "It feels really good because we've been aspiring to sell out our entire lives and sink to the level of Destiny's Child and Hanson," laughed Lashes frontman Ben Lashes. "We're totally going insane about it. It's surreal and exciting and we're very happy to put out our record to not just Seattle teenyboppers, but teenyboppers all over the world." Both the Lashes and Carlile will release their debut full-length records later this year. MEGAN SELING

Empty Space Checkup

The Empty Space Theatre is rushing into the final stretch of its fundraising campaign, having raised a little over $200,995 since the campaign began on November 1. The board said if it hadn't met its $350,000 goal by January 15, the red-brick Fremont theater would shut its doors forever. "The majority of the money has come from small donors and benefit events," said Communications Manager Whitney Burdsall. "We have over 1,600 individual donors at this point." Time is running short, but Burdsall said the fundraisers were still optimistic, with potentially lucrative meetings and still-unannounced benefits currently in the works. Lauren Weedman, Chris Jeffries, Dina Martina, and other Empty Space favorites will perform January 6-7 in the S.O.S Cabaret at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25 Thursday night, $50 Friday night. Call 547-7633 for reservations. BRENDAN KILEY

Big Ups

The Seattle Film Critics Society has announced its picks for 2004, and Million Dollar Baby, with its "gym-rat nobility," came out on top (Best Picture, plus a Best Director nod for Clint Eastwood). Control Room and Touching the Void tied for Best Documentary, and Maria Full of Grace was awarded Best Foreign Language Film. Other awards went to Jamie Foxx and Imelda Staunton (Best Performance for Ray and Vera Drake, respectively), Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (Best Adapted Screenplay for Sideways), and Charlie Kaufman (Best Original Screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Seattle also doles out a "Living Treasure" award, and this year it went to Henry Bumstead, a production/art designer who's worked on movies like Vertigo and To Kill a Mockingbird. ANDY SPLETZER

Support The Stranger