Charlottesville Breaking News

Unusual outcome: $722K in sanctions, juror judges judge

Nearly a year after a jury made one of the largest wrongful death awards in Virginia, the plaintiff and his attorney have seen the $10.6 million slashed– and been hit with one of the largest sanctions in Virginia legal history. And there's another nearly unprecedented development in the case stemming from the concrete truck rollover that killed Jessica Scott Lester four years ago: a juror has issued a written critique of the judge.

On October 21, ten months after a Charlottesville jury awarded widower Isaiah Lester $8.6 million– $2.35 million for his personal injuries and $6.227 million as the beneficiary of Jessica's estate–  and Jessica Lester's parents, Gary and Jeanne Scott, $1 million each, Judge Edward Hogshire signed the final order in Lester v. Allied Concrete. Citing misconduct by plaintiff's attorney Matt Murray and Isaiah Lester for spoliation– destruction– of evidence, Hogshire ordered that Murray pay $542,000 to the defense's law firm and that Lester pay $180,000.

"That sounds like the largest sanction I've ever heard of in Virginia," says Hook legal expert David Heilberg of Murray's amount; of Lester's, he says: "Yikes."

Still, it's less than the more than $900,000 in added legal costs the D.C...

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'Natural Selection': Meanie 'Hangover' actress plays nice

Rachael Harris can play mean, and in the 2009 smash hit Hangover, she plays really mean as Melissa, the girlfriend of Ed Helms' character, Stu.

"My agent was getting calls for me to play the shrew," says Harris. "You can get pigeon-holed."

She's already been a bit pigeon-holed into comedy ever since joining the Groundlings, the legendary Los Angeles improv troupe, and over the past decade she's appeared in sitcoms such as Reno 911, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Desperate Housewives.

"As much as I love sitcoms, can we try to branch out?" asks Harris in a chat about her upcoming visit to Charlottesville and her role in Natural Selection. That's the new indie film that scored big at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, and which she describes as a "coming of age" movie about a woman in her 40s.

"You don't see scripts like that," says Harris, who plays Linda White, a devout Christian in a childless marriage whose husband has a stroke in a sperm bank, to which he's been a regular depositor for the past 25 years.

"I really connected with Linda," says Harris. "She journeys from a very small town and has a trusting personality. I grew up in a small town, and I know what it's like to want to believe there's something good in everyone."

Her upcoming appearance at the Virginia Fil...

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Hazardous act: UVA grad had 'JFK' moment

Sarah Lyman Kravits, UVA class of 1988, was in grad school in Washington when she was picked for a few moments of screen time in Oliver Stone's 1991 film, JFK. "Oliver Stone wanted everyone smoking," remembers Kravits, a nonsmoker. "I was trying to concentrate on not looking like an idiot smoking."

The nonsmokers were given clove cigarettes. "They were making me feel ill," says Kravits in a phone call from New Jersey, where she now lives. "I didn't want to put it out because I wasn't very good at lighting cigarettes."

Ten takes later, they had the scene in which Donald Sutherland walks through the Pentagon past Kravits, who plays a general's secretary and waves him into a smoke-filled meeting room.

"Oliver Stone kept calling me 'honey,'" says Kravits. Sutherland was quite a character– and shoeless, she reveals, although that wasn't visible to viewers.

Kravits has moved from drama to parenthood and textbook writing, but she fondly remembers her bouffant-haired stint as an extra in JFK, which will have a 20th anniversary screening with Stone at this year's Virginia Film Festival.

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Festival faces: Spacek, Stone, Sabato, and Wasikowska

Just in case the movies aren't enough, the Virginia Film Festival sprinkles in a few stars.

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Grindin’ it out: Kevin Everson keeps on filming

It’s hard to tell whether Charlottesville’s resident experimental filmmaker Kevin Everson spends more time behind the viewfinder of his 16mm camera or at airports.

Since 2010, Everson’s films have played at, among other venues, the Toronto Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and throughout Europe and South America, frequently with him in attendance. The Whitney Museum’s Everson retrospective ran from April to September and was warmly reviewed by the likes of the New York Times. His films were also released in a 3-DVD set called Broad Daylight and Other Times.

Meanwhile, he continuously made new movies, five of which are screening at this year’s Film Festival in an hour-long program, hosted by Everson.

Everson, 45, seems pleased by– but wary of– his critical laurels. “It’s Kool and the Gang,” he says. “I’m just grindin’ it out. It’s good. I take it with a grain of salt, because at the end of the day, I’ve got to make new s***. So I never let it get to me...

“I’ve got no problem with it,” he laughs.

Everson’s latest movies are “an exercise in form,” he explains. “There’s five films, but three different forms.” Most are fiction, but one is a semi-documentary.

Predictable Everson isn’t. With his usual avant-garde flair, he “did three films based on Columbus, Mississippi, that aren’t shot in Columbus, Mississippi,” he says wryly. “They’re shot in...

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