Slant 4-3-2014

Jody Runge should be a name high on the list of applicants to coach the UO women’s basketball team. She’s interested in returning to Eugene, where she coached from 1993 to 2001, winning two Pac-10 titles, 69 percent of her games, and taking the team to the NCAA tourney in each of her eight seasons. She still has loyal fans here, some of them big donors to Duck sports, but she fought the athletic administration for better practice times, better pay and a spotlight that the men, especially former athletic director Bill Moos, didn’t want to give her and her female athletes. It’s ironic that Moos, now AD at Washington State University in Pullman, just hired Ernie Kent, giving him a second chance after his firing as longtime men’s basketball head coach at the UO. It will take a tough, enlightened UO Athletic Department to bring back the 6-foot-3 blonde, former Kentucky player who once fired up women’s basketball at Oregon, and likely would do it again.

• We held our first Spring Wellness Summit March 29 at Cozmic and we’re happy to report about 250 people stopped by to join the free party. Two dozen health-related businesses, nonprofits and guest speakers co-sponsored the event and were there to talk about their products and services to an eager crowd. Find photos on our Facebook page. Thanks to  International Fitness and everyone else who helped make this first event a big success and if you’d like to participate next year, please give us a call at 484-0519. You can also check out the four-page pull-out section in our paper last week.

• Buy a book and help the kids at Jasper Mountain Center. That’s what Lane County residents have done, $56,000 worth of Greg Ahlijian’s The Large Rock and the Little Yew to fund a Children’s Courtyard, outdoor play area, amphitheater, classroom and meeting place. Ahlijian is a volunteer at the treatment center for emotionally disturbed children and their families and self-published the book for about $18,000 and distributed it himself (, taking none of the proceeds. It’s a fine children’s book, now in its second printing, and an amazing effort to benefit our own children.

Brittany Murphy in Something Wicked. Still courtesy of Merchant Films.

• Four years after her death at 32, actress Brittany Murphy’s final film receives its international debut — right here in Eugene, where it was filmed. Something Wicked, which screens Friday, April 4, at Valley River’s Regal Cinemas, is billed as a psychological thriller in which Murphy stars, ironically enough, as a psychiatrist. Among the factors cited in Murphy’s 2009 death was “multiple drug intoxication,” including “elevated levels” of hydrocodone and methamphetamine. Usually, it’s not a good sign when a film is held significantly beyond its original release date. And, judging from a few internet clips, Something Wicked is little more than formulaic, straight-to-DVD rehash: a tale of obsessive love a la Swim Fan, complete with the requisite scene of a woman swimming alone in a darkened pool. Innovative!

So why, aside from being filmed here, is Eugene being subjected to this latest round of celebrity necrophilia? Is it because it was made by the soon-to-be-former owners of KEZI, the Chambers family, together with Dan Guistina via their Merchant Films? Maybe the producers figure the Northwest is highly susceptible to such cynical bait-and-switch tactics, because after April 4 the movie climbs up the coast to Regal theaters in Oregon and Washington — ever farther from L.A. and New York.