Highlights include a fundraising gala with New Jersey TV star "Uncle Floyd" Vivino, and two concert dates in November for critically acclaimed Nebraska musician Conor Oberst's band "Bright Eyes."
This year, the Friends of the Loew's, a non-profit group that fought to keep the theater from a developer in 1987, will enjoy full control in managing the theater.
According to Friends Chairman Colin Egan, this will allow the group to continue turning the theater into an entertainment center for the entire community and restoring it to its original glory.
"It's been good. For one thing, we have been able to meet with promoters and start fundraising to further develop the theater," said Egan.
The 3,100-seat theater, which celebrated its 76th year of existence this past Wednesday, opened on Sept. 28, 1929 and then closed in 1986. But efforts of FOL saved it from being transformed into an office complex by Hartz Mountain Industries in 1987.
FOL signed a lease agreement in October of last year that allows it to manage the operations of the Loew's for 25 years while the city, which still owns the theater, funds capital improvements in the first few years to bring it up to code.
FOL had been in a year-to-year licensing agreement with the city since the FOL started operating the theater in 1994.
What a difference a year makes It was around this time last year the FOL was at odds with then-Acting Mayor L. Harvey Smith, who was also City Council president, over his reluctance to allow the FOL to run the theater.
Eventually, Smith and the FOL signed a lease agreement ceding total control of the theater's operations to the FOL, with the FOL being held to make certain improvements to the theater in 10 years.
If all deadlines are met, the FOL will manage the theater for 15 more years before the lease is renewed. But the FOL will continue their relationship with the city, particularly with the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation, to receive state Urban Enterprise Zone funds necessary for capital improvements. Presently, the FOL has applied for funding to begin repairs on the theater. They received news this week that they were approved to receive $600,000 from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund, pending final approval from the county's Board of Freeholders.
Egan said the monies from the fund will go toward installing a new air-conditioning system in the theater. Also, fire safety issues will be addressed since they remain the greatest impediment to holding performances in the theater.
The FOL has also been in contact with local promoters to book more concerts and other entertainment events from January thru June 2006.
Egan also said last week that the FOL is close to agreeing to a contract with the IATSE (The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts), whose members work entertainment events at large venues, making it easier to attract promoters who stage large-scale performances.
Loew's already enjoys with a relationship with Hoboken promoter and club owner Todd Abramson of Maxwell's.
Looking forward Egan said that the FOL is working towards increasing their programming to include more events spotlighting local talent.
"We have a good relationship with the Division of Cultural Affairs and with the Jersey City Visual and Performing Arts High School program, as we have held a number of events in collaboration with them," said Egan.
The theater is also used as a taping studio for the Weekly Show, which is the public access TV program covering Jersey City politics and social issues hosted by Pat O' Melia. The FOL is also considering holding an independent film festival yearly.
A benefit gala for the Friends of the Loew's will be held on Oct. 27 (see sidebar).
The other events will continue through the end of the year.
The Loew's schedule The highlight of the Loew's schedule for this year is the Spotlight Gala to benefit the Friends of the Loew's, scheduled for Oct. 27. The Spotlight Gala will benefit the ongoing restoration and operation of the Loew's Jersey Theatre.
The gala starts at 6 p.m. with a buffet reception, followed at 7:30 p.m. by a vaudeville-style stage show with featured performers Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, and "Uncle Floyd" Vivino.
Then the gala will be capped off with a classic movie short, harkening back to the early days of the theater when the audience was treated to a stage show with a film.
Dessert will be served in the lobby at 9:15 p.m. for gala ticket holders only. Tickets for the entire gala are $150 per person.
Tickets for the live performance alone are $50 per person. Doors for those ticket holders will open at 7:15 p.m. The rest of schedule for October and December is as follows. Call the theater at (201) 798-6055 or visit www.loewsjersey.org for ticket prices and updated information for all events.
Oct. 8 Comedy classics 3:30 p.m.: "Horse Feathers" 7:10 p.m.: "Monty Python & the Holy Grail" 9:10 p.m.: "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" Tickets $6 for adults, $4 for children. Combination tickets for various movies are available.
Oct. 20 "Fright Night" Benefit Film: 7:30 p.m.: "Abbott & Costello's Hold that Ghost" The ticket price is $20. Proceeds from the screening go to United Cerebral Palsy. The screening is co-sponsored by North Fork Bank and Friends of the Loew's, Inc. Call (201) 436-2200 for more information.
Oct. 23 Luna Fest Film Festival Sponsored by Gaia of Hoboken, promoting independent films made by, for or about women.
2 p.m.: Reception 3 p.m.: Screening begins Tickets for the reception and screening are $25. The screening only is $8 in advance or $10 at the door. The proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund. Visit the Luna Fest Web site or call the theater at (201) 386-0486 for more information.
Oct. 29 Classic Movies - Monstrous Halloween Frights Time TBD: Godzilla - Original 1954 version in Japanese with subtitles Time TBD: King Kong vs. Godzilla Time TBD: Masque of the Red Death Oct. 31 Kids Halloween Costume Contest and Show Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Sponsored by Hudson Media Group, Inc., the City of Jersey City and Friends of the Loew's, Inc.
Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 Classic movies Time TBD: "The Godfather" Time TBD: "The Godfather - Part II" Time TBD: "Public Enemy" Nov. 13 Time TBD: A rare screening of Abbott & Costello's "Time of Their Lives," hosted by Chris Costello (Lou Costello's daughter).
Presented by the Fort Lee Film Commission and Friends of the Loew's, Inc.
Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 Bright Eyes Live In Concert 8 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.): Ticket price: $25 (Go to Ticketweb to buy tickets.) Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com