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Best Local Role Model

ALTHOUGH THEY ARE RELEGATED to cells with never more than a byte to eat, Buzz and Woody should know that they always have a place at the Sebastiani Theatre. That's because Oscar-winning animator, director, and Toy Story and A Bug's Life creator Jon Lasseter of Sonoma has purchased the little guys' Sebastiani seats in perpetuity, complete with plaques declaring ownership. "It's sort of Buzz and Woody's home," says theater owner Roger Rhoten. While both Toy Story and A Bug's Life have gone on to international acclaim, both also had their world premieres at Rhoten's deco-era, single-screen hometown cinema. The filmmaker wanted it that way. "He's very community-minded," Rhoten says of Lasseter, "and he definitely has a warm spot for this theater." With the profane shriekings of South Park rapidly setting a new "entertainment" standard for children, the films of Lasseter remind us that this is still a kinder, gentler era in which good triumphs over evil, that folks (or bugs or toys) help each other out in times of trouble, and that there is still room in the schedule for a big-time director to take a big-time interest in small-town life. --G.G.

From the March 25-31, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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