10th Annual Somewhere In Time Weekend

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

October 27 - 29, 2000

The challenge to appropriately describe the 10th Annual Somewhere In Time Weekend at Grand Hotel,  is a formidable task, due in part to the extraordinary event we experience each consecutive year, but also because this year was even more wonderful than usual.  This three day event, made longer by a great number of attendees who now arrive on Thursday, and even on Wednesday to begin their time travel experience, was also the 20th Anniversary of Somewhere In Time.  So we really put forth exceptional effort to make it a superlative experience, especially for those who have come every year to honor the Most Romantic Love Story Ever Filmed!

The weather was colder than ever before, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm one bit.  The Somewhere In Time Weekends are always sold-out events, but this year, it was sold out by the end of May!  Usually the sell-out occurs in August, or September, so because of the very early filled-to-capacity attendance, we knew there would be a long (and anxious) number of folks on a waiting list, and many of those booked rooms in other small inns on the island which remain open this late in the season.  They were able to attend the majority of scheduled events, obtaining their meals elsewhere.  Also, meals can be purchased at Grand Hotel, even though one is not a guest, if one chooses to do so.  Over this winter, the Grand plans to build another addition, the largest expansion ever, creating 42 more rooms, as well as other improvements.  Thus, next year, the hotel will be able to accommodate 734 people, 367 rooms with double occupancy.

One of the key reasons this Somewhere In Time Weekend was so special, was the fabulous Celebrity Guest List.  The 20th Anniversary Weekend marked the first-time return to the island by SIT Producer Stephen Simon, who can answer questions you haven't even thought of about the movie!  While not being an instantly recognizable face because of not being captured on film, he is the ultimate font of knowledge on the picture, being the one who first approached writer Richard Matheson to make his exceptional novel into a movie.  Stephen, who is a sensitive and profoundly sentimental man, reported that he cried when first seeing the lighthouse and the hotel once again.  He was `escorted' by his two lovely daughters, Carrie, 20, and Heather, 14.  Stephen had made a point of saying many times, as recently as at the 20th Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles in August, that he "could never go back to Mackinac", because of feeling that `lifetime high point experience' of making his first film was better left alone.  But we, and especially his daughters finally prevailed, and convinced Stephen to commit to coming!  He had so much fun, that he said he would be coming back "every year from now on".  This event also was marked by the long-awaited return by Dan Dewey, (SIT Location Manager) resuming his much-appreciated hosting of the Location Walking Tour.  And Tim Kazurinsky also made his first appearance among the fans.  Tim played the "Photographer" who took the portrait of Elise.  Tim is best known for his four-year stint on "Saturday Night Live", and Police Academy movies, as well as earning himself serious acclaim as a screenwriter, on such films as My Bodyguard and About Last Night. Other Celebrities returning to share their delightful stories with us were, John Alvin, ("Arthur's Father"), Paul Cook, ("The Doctor"), Bill Erwin, ("Arthur"), Sean Hayden, ("Young Arthur"), Audrie Neenan, ("Maid in Play"), and Isidore "Izzy" Mankofsky, SIT Director of Photography.  These talented folks brought the list to 9 splendid representatives of the cast and behind-the-scenes hierarchy.


While Friday is the usual day of arrival for guests, more and more savvy attendees come earlier, and this avails them of the opportunity to do some exploring and shopping on the island before the festivities begin.  Our schedule of events is so packed, with one program item after another on Saturday and now even Friday as well, it is wise to make such plans. (The Grand offers special rates for these prior days.)

Friday is typically reserved to leisurely arrive on the various two-hour interval ferries, check in and then meander around the hotel. One requisite stop is in the Heritage Hall room where the INSITE Membership Table, Somewhere In Time Collectibles Shop and display areas are set up for all to enjoy.  Here, one can see not only the full line of SIT goodies offered by the Somewhere In Time Gallery, official licensee for the movie, but also other terrific offerings.  Peter Franks holds a raffle for one of his exquisite Grand Hotel Music Boxes, based upon the original from the film, which can be seen in a case in the Parlor.  Peter's hotel music boxes are also crafted entirely by hand, in the same dimensions, but are even more detailed than the original.  While Peter creates these treasures for fans throughout the year, one fortunate guest would win this one Saturday evening!  Cookie Tawnee, Pat Crandall and Kristine Schaeffer collect antique Grand Hotel post cards and pocket watch-themed collectibles and show some of these finds.  Henriette and Al Arnold share their knowledge of vintage dress and lace, exhibiting examples of Henriette's fine work as a consummate seamstress.  Jo Addie also had on display Christopher Reeve's SIT brown derby hat, which she acquired.  This is also the place to sign up to be part of the SIT scene re-enactments, with Ernie and Janet Knobloch, who provide all necessary support for this delightful feature of the Walking Tour.  Rolaine Coleman was a friendly and charming ambassador for INSITE at the membership table, showing past issues and signing up new members.  There are handouts and info about the weekend to pick up, including souvenir Programs.  So this area is constantly busy throughout the day with fans meeting and mingling.

Members may be surprised to learn that about 80% of attendees at the SIT Weekend are not INSITE members, nor have they ever heard of INSITE.  Through INSITE's partnership with Grand Hotel, they are enjoying the benefits of our labor of love to bring recognition to this cinematic gem.  Many of the attendees have heard about the SIT Weekend through Grand Hotel's marketing channels.  Or they often call the hotel throughout the season saying, "I've been an ardent fan of the movie for years, and have wanted to come to your hotel, this is the year I'm finally going to do it", and the hotel operators often respond, "Well, then, you may want to hear about the Somewhere In Time Weekend", to which they exclaim, "Somewhere In Time Weekend!--what is that?" and they proceed to tell people about this extravagant tribute to the film, resulting in a great deal of the reservations.  So our presence here is a wonderful welcome to the uninitiated, to the benefits of being an INSITE member.  As a result of Rolaine's cheerful encouragement, 39 new members were added to our club!  And a few more joined later.

Friday's agenda included a fun and frivolous Somewhere In Time Trivia Contest, hosted by Steve Ellis, author of "The Somewhere In Time Trivia Book".  This was done in the lighthearted style of "Who Wants to be a Trivianaire?", including sound effects from the popular TV show, provided by audio engineer Jim Addie.  Our contest is not intimidating in the least, but intended to be a jovial game, uniting us as `a SIT family', and Steve's casual style and genial prodding give all who sit in on the action plenty of laughs with the sometimes silly multiple choice answers. All who participated as contestants won prizes.

Following this, Paul Cook ("The Doctor"), reprising a feature of a past SIT event, hosted an "Acting Workshop", which is a totally fun adventure into the world of professional acting.  Paul, who has also taught commercial acting, provides scripts which poke fun at rival celeb, Bill Erwin ("Arthur") and himself, and guests had a riot performing the scenes in pairs.

Another reason this SIT Weekend was exceptional was due to the idea raised last year by Izzy's talented artist wife, Chris Mankofsky.  A muralist by trade, Chris thought of the concept of painting a backdrop against which guests dressed in their vintage/evening wear would obtain a keepsake portrait in a large format (8 by 10) -- and the proceeds would go to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.  Chris Mankofsky, feeling "the need to be useful", described to us last year her idea and we thought it would be great, with a substantial number of people benefiting on all fronts.  So Chris and Jim Addie worked out the logistics and equipment necessary to implement her terrific concept.  Over the year, Chris kept us apprised of her progress, and using acrylic paint, she created the most splendid canvas, (8 feet by 8 feet), the inside of the Gazebo, with the Round Island Lighthouse and a sensuous sunset in the distance. When guests posed in front of the artwork, a true 3-dimensionality was achieved.  For a mere $30, guests could be photographed, under studio lighting, often by Cinematographer Isidore Mankofsky himself, and within minutes, receive their portrait to take home and frame, using the latest in digital imaging technology.  People could make appointments for their portrait at almost any time of the weekend other than meal times.  At the end of the weekend, the backdrop was offered for sale, and purchased by INSITE member Barbara Fridline for installation on a wall of her new home.  This project earned the CRPF a total of $3200.  We roundly applaud Chris for her creative energy, devotion and the countless hours of time she gave to this charitable effort.  We hope to make this a permanent feature of the SIT Weekend, due to its outstanding success, and Chris tells us she already has plans for next year's canvas!

Casual clothing is acceptable throughout the day at Grand Hotel, though more and more guests are dressing in vintage attire all day, in order to further the `time travel' feeling of staying in such an historic landmark with ties to the movie.  When evening comes, though, a strict dress code is enforced.  Ladies must wear dresses or skirts and gentlemen must wear coat and tie.  This is actually one of the more elegant features of staying at the Grand, and our schedule leaves barely enough time for people to change for dinner!  The Cocktail Reception in the Grand Parlor is next, offering open bar and a spread of fruit, cheeses and hors d'oeuvres. It is incomprehensible how the hotel expects guests to eat their sumptuous five-course gourmet dinner, just following such a generous snack hour!

Dinner is an experience of the most elegant kind.  With place settings including a perplexing array of implements, and served by green-jacketed Jamaican waiters bustling throughout the enormous length of the dining room, your dinner will be long remembered.  So many choices!  The menu offers culinary adventures, from unique appetizers, like seafood in puff pastries...a variety of soups, both hot and chilled (the chilled fruit soups are heavenly), imaginative salads, and main courses fit for royalty, as well as desserts which are masterpieces of flavor and presentation.  It should not be overlooked in this feature story that Grand Hotel is a fabulous place to dine, similar to cruise ships, where dining is one of the greatest draws.  Dinner is a two hour experience, where one is treated to the work of prideful master chefs.

Truly with its great length and relative narrowness, along with the "World's Longest Front Porch" so like a Promenade Deck, Grand Hotel is very like a magnificent ship, perched on its 100-foot bluff elevation above the Straits of Mackinac.  At 880 feet long, it is only 2 feet shorter than Titanic, a fact many fans of both stories would want included here.  The grace and manner of service exceeds many a cruise ship voyage, but there are definite similarities that are undeniable.

At nine on Friday evening, we officially open our Weekend with a welcoming by Jo Addie, in the Grand Hotel "Theatre".  She provides announcements and introduces the Big Screen Showing of Somewhere In Time.  (This is a rare chance for fans, who have only seen the movie on their TVs, to see it in its full aspect ratio).  Before the showing this year, Jo related the joy of the NY Premiere attended by Chris and Jane which had just occurred, went over the list of attending celebrities and introduced Producer Stephen Simon.  Stephen gave a warm and genuine speech, outlining his feelings about being there sharing with all of us, and the 20th Anniversary developments for the movie.  Then we watched one of the 3 brand new release prints, the creation of which had been personally overseen by Isidore Mankofsky.  All 3 of the prints were in use that week, (one in New York, another in Boston) the one we had at the Grand had never before been projected.

Jim Addie, who is "technical guru" of the Weekend served as projectionist.  He achieves the impossible, by bringing a 35mm projector weighing over 1,000 pounds, packed into a trailer 450 miles from Chicago, transferring it all twice from dock to ferry, to and from the island, along with a 16-foot screen and assembles it all for two showings (both Thursday and Friday evenings).  The logistics of this project constitute an enormous undertaking, but Jim does it with characteristic aplomb.  He faces all such daunting challenges with a now oft-repeated personal motto, "How hard can it be?", teaching himself any skill he needs to do any project he has never done before.  He is such a behind-the-scenes guy at the event that his work goes largely unnoticed and unacknowledged, but all benefit hugely from his attention to technical details.  (Grand Hotel often shows the movie throughout their 6-month season, but using a projection video system, on a very small screen.)

If anyone had any energy left after such a splendid day, they could either go up to the Cupola Bar (in the uppermost tower of the hotel) for drinks and conversation, or go dancing in the Terrace Room.  But most, surely, wanted to slip into bed to dream of Richard and Elise and the next day's activities.


One has to get up bright and early to be breakfasted and ready at 8:30 am for one of the highlights of the Weekend, the "Walking Tour of Movie Locations".   Dan Dewey (SIT Location Manager) was back for the first time since `94 to lead the group around the island with his supremely entertaining story-telling skills and delightfully "assisted" by old friend, Stephen Simon (SIT Producer) who provided fascinating additional details.  Surely it was the coldest tour we've had in all 10 years (40 degrees), still, all tour participants were too happy to be dissuaded by the temperature, warmed by Dan's folksy style and they were all still smiling broadly at the end of the tour.  Location spots visited included Arthur's cottage, the "Is it you?" trees, Baxter's Coin Shop, Laura Roberts' house, the complex that housed the production facilities, now Mission Point Resort (college scenes, theatre, sound stage), the Gazebo and hotel stable.

Throughout the tour, key locations were punctuated by scene re-enactments, performed by volunteer guests who are recruited on Friday during mingling time.  Directed by Ernie and Janet Knobloch, who also provide coaching, music, scripts and props, the re-enactments give a flavor of Hollywood movie-making magic.  Sound and video recording is by Jim and Shane Addie.  Bill Erwin performs his cottage scene (with an urgent Richard Collier) and is always a ham for the crowd.

For those unable to walk the distance due to infirmity, a carriage tour limited to 20 participants went to all but one location, hosted by Lynn Anderson, who has been leading the tour for the past several Weekends.

Upon returning, the schedule next offered a choice of lectures. One was a lecture and fashion show by Carol Ann Miller, a professional speaker from St. Louis, and expert on clothing of the past.  She titled her program, "1912...A Fashion Experience", and in her charming and lively way, gave information about the day-to-day life of ladies in that era.  (See Carol Ann's own contribution in the sidebar, pg. 27) Or, guests could choose the interesting lecture on the hotel's 113 year history, given by Bob Tagatz, historian and island resident.  Either one was a great way to learn, and REST!

All that outdoor activity worked up a good appetite and guests were amazed at the expanse of offerings on the Buffet tables.  (If you visit Grand Hotel and are not a guest, be prepared to be charged $10 just to walk the property and step inside.  But this fee can go toward the Luncheon Buffet, which is normally not part of any guest's stay, yet is included with our SIT Weekend package.  The Buffet costs $45 per person)  The dessert table is astounding!

Then it was time for the Autograph Session, and a fine chance to personally meet each Celebrity.  They are stationed throughout the Parlor and the lines are long...but it gives one further opportunity to meet and chat with other guests.

A terrific program, "Photographing Somewhere In Time" by Isidore Mankofsky was next.  Showing over 120 slides taken behind-the-scenes, Izzy gave us many of his secrets and a rare view of the magnitude of photographing a movie as beautiful as ours, including day and night scenes, close-ups, distant vistas.  We tend to overlook the technical challenge of such a film, as we immerse ourselves in the story, so Izzy's explanations gave the large audience more to appreciate and look for within.  We also get to enjoy Izzy's wit as he relates the various stories fans truly relish.

Probably the favorite Weekend highlight is the Celebrity Panel Discussion in the Theatre on Saturday afternoon.  This was accomplished in a two-tiered manner, first with technical experts, Isidore Mankofsky, Dan Dewey and Stephen Simon, who provided details of how our movie came to be.  Questions from the floor were read by Steve Ellis from cards collected from those in the audience.  Then, the acting contingency was brought up on stage, Audrie Neenan, Tim Kazurinsky, Bill Erwin, Sean Hayden and John Alvin, with Paul Cook serving as Moderator.  All of these entertaining folks provided stories of their involvement in creating Somewhere In Time, and the trials and joys of working on an island full of horses and carriages and tourists in the summer of 1979.

Wealthy women at the turn of the century changed their clothes as many as 6 times a day, and we had a small taste of that lifestyle by again changing for dinner and Cocktail Reception.  When everyone comes down into the Parlor on Saturday evening in sartorial splendor, the entire place resembles so closely the movie scenes, clogged with period-attired extras, that it is a snapshot of those glorious days of filming.

Every year the Grand gives each guest a small token souvenir, such as a key chain, pin or pen, or as they did last year, a bumper sticker.  This year, the gift was a bit more lavish, and brought to each guest room during dinner, a keepsake vinyl photo album, titled in gold on the cover, which can hold 24 photos taken at the event...yet another way our 10th Annual Weekend was more special.

With the sumptuous feasting of dinner under our belts--literally--we retire to the Parlor once again, to partake of the extravagant beauty of the Costume Promenade.  Cameras are flashing from every angle as many dozens of guests parade the entire length of the Parlor in the most photogenic event of the entire Grand Hotel season.  The array of costumes is breathtaking, with young and old dressing up and strolling, to "see and be seen" like in olden days.  Some reproduce costumes from the film, some design their own creations, some rent, and some find actual antique clothing through fervent searching of flea markets and antique shows and shops.  The effort expended is delightfully obvious, with ladies and gents presenting an atmosphere of elegance and wealth from the Gilded Age.  All who promenaded received a nice certificate as a remembrance.

The entire complement of guests then moved to the Theatre for the wrap up of the Weekend, the Recognition and Awards Program.  Bill Shepard, Master of Ceremonies, introduced the various parts of the program.

Jo Addie presented a series of projected digital images taken at the New York Premiere, so guests could see for themselves how extraordinarily the week had begun, and then introduced the moving video messages Chris and Jane each made for the group assembled that night.  For those several minutes, it was actually like having the stars present with us in the flesh.  It was evident how genuinely grateful both are for our reviving the film and keeping it alive, and they each displayed a comfortable "friend to friend" tone as they spoke to us, which was very touching.

Steve Ellis and Lynn Anderson went to the podium to present the third annual "Arthur" award, this time a tribute to John Alvin's over 50-year career in theatre, film and TV.  The oral presentation is included herein, (pg. 26) and a wonderful ten-minute video edited with a good number of John's film appearances was shown.  This was all a surprise for John, and his reaction to the tribute was a joy to witness.

Certificates were given to all those who had taken part in the re-enactments.  Unbeknownst to guests, the re-enactment team had filmed a few Celebrity Re-enactments, outrageous parodies of actual SIT scenes. Sean Hayden ("Young Arthur") and John Alvin ("Arthur's Father") did their scene involving the big red ball by the front desk, complete with a defiant but chastised Sean sitting in the corner ON the ball.

Richard DeMars was the "Astonished Man" to, first, Steve Ellis coming out of the hallway room, wearing multiple bandages, and then to Bill Shepard, made up with stage blood on his face and white t-shirt.

The third entailed Paul Cook ("The Doctor") ministering to a very `dead' Lloyd Huebner as Richard; Paul going through his basket of toiletries for medical remedies and asking for oxygen, and being brought the fire extinguisher instead.  When these were shown, the entire audience of 650 were in near hysterics, doubling over with laughter so intense, lines were actually missed!  If anyone had been sleeping in their rooms, they would have been awakened by the roar of laughter from the crowd.  Ernie Knobloch had scripted the scenes and Jim Addie filmed them.  There are no out-takes or bloopers to be found of SIT from 1979--it's all lost--(the film stock was actually recycled)...but we have some to show now!  What a fitting way to close the program and the 20th Anniversary year's final event!

To say that the 10th Annual Somewhere In Time Weekend, celebrating Somewhere In Time's 20th Anniversary was a fine success, is an unsatisfying understatement.  Much planning and preparation goes into making the agenda worthy of the expense that attendees spend to experience Grand Hotel during the weekend that pays homage to the love story of Richard and Elise.  The Grand's capable staff and INSITE members do their utmost to coordinate efforts with this goal in mind.  It seemed to us that more people than ever made a point of expressing their delight and their thanks this year.

Now it's appropriate to thank all the members and Celebrities who give of themselves to make the fans glow with happiness, assisting them to "time travel" and "live the movie" for a few glorious days.

In 2001 we'll go back to just one event annually.  The dates for the 11th Annual SIT Weekend at Grand Hotel are November 2 - 4.  Make plans now to attend!