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U.S. Cellular brings back the movies

Movie-lovers can enjoy free shows in Bear Creek Park again this summer, thanks to a &

36;21,000 donation by U.S. Cellular.

The company offered to buy the equipment needed to restart the popular movie series, which had stopped in 2002 due to a lack of funding.

We consider it an investment in our community, says Denise Hutton, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Southern Oregon. We all live here and work here ... and this is a great program.

The donation will pay for a large inflatable screen, a DVD projector, high-quality sound system and royalties for eight movies, says Scott Archer, Medford parks director.

When (movies in the park) went away last summer, we heard from a lot of people who said they were sad to see them go away, Archer said. We're thrilled to be able to provide them again.

— Shown Saturday nights from June 26 to Aug. 21, the movies range from Top Gun to Singin' in the Rain to Shrek. During the Spy Kids 3-D movie, U.S. Cellular will hand out 3-D glasses, Hutton says.

The original Starlight Classic Movie Festival ran for five years under founder Bob Campbell and drew 25,000 annually to see such films as War of the Worlds and Double Indemnity. Campbell canceled the series last year when he and the Medford parks department couldn't work out a financial arrangement.

Campbell said he needed &

36;70,000 for movies and equipment, stage shows (before the movies) and personnel. The parks department said the series had grown beyond the department's capacity to help in a time of budget cuts.

U.S. Cellular's sponsorship may be renewed each year for four years, Hutton said. In subsequent years, U.S. Cellular is expected to donate between &

36;3,000 and &

36;4,000 for movie royalties, Archer said.

Reach team leader Cathy Noah at 776-4473, or e-mail

Films will be shown at dusk on Saturday nights in the Bear Creek Park Amphitheater. Here's the schedule:

June 26:

Top Gun, aerial action adventure with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.

July 10:

Spy Kids 3D — Game Over, 2003 spy adventure with Daryl Sabara, Alexa Vega, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and George Clooney.

July 17:

Singin' in the Rain, classic 1950s musical with Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

July 24:

Sinbad ' Legend of the Seven Seas, 2003 Dreamworks animated and computer-generated fantasy with the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer.

July 31:

E.T. ' The Extra-Terrestrial, classic Steven Spielberg film about an alien visitor, 20th anniversary print with additional footage. Stars Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote and Drew Barrymore.

Aug. 7:

Shrek, fairytale comedy with the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz.

Aug. 14:

Grease, high school antics in a musical with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (who's performing at Britt this year). It's a 20th anniversary print with remastered sound.

Aug. 21:

The Wizard of Oz, classic fantasy musical with Judy Garland. Originally released six decades ago, the print has been restored and the sound remastered. If rain forces a postponement, the makeup date will be Aug. 28.