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THE BUZZ: Rotary distributes checks, Festival of Trees gets big donation, and Mitchell Altieri starts new scary movie

MITCHELL ALTIERI’S NEW THRILLER CURRENTLY FILMING IN THE “BLUEGRASS STATE”: “Two Sonoma County boys, making a movie in Western Kentucky.”

That’s the start of the note received recently by THE BUZZ from Petaluma filmmaker Mitchell Altieri (“The Hamiltons,” “A Beginner’s Guide to Snuff”), writing in from the set of his latest horror-thriller “Star Light,” which he is co-directing with Lee Cummings of Santa Rosa.

“The story revolves around a teenager whose life is turned upside down when he helps a world famous pop star on the run from her violent pursuers,” explains Altieri. The thriller is being produced by Jeffrey Allard, who brought us the 2003 ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ remake and its sequel, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning.’ It stars actress Scout Taylor Compton, who played Laurie Stroud in Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ remake, and the sequel ‘Halloween II.’

The crew just started week two of the shoot, which will continue until the end of the month.

“It’s been great,” says Altieri. “We have an amazing cast.”

CINNABAR WINS MTJA AWARD FOR POSTER DESIGN FOR CLOWN-CENTRIC ‘PAGLIACCI’: On Monday, Nov. 6, during a casual ceremony at Santa Rosa’s Confluence Taproom and Lounge, the Sonoma County-based Marquee Theater Journalists Association presented awards for outstanding achievement in a number of categories. Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater was named for best Poster/Program design for Victoria Von Thal’s atmospheric and eye-catching artwork for last season’s opera “Pagliacci.”

ESCAPED ALLIGATOR FOUND IN PETALUMA BACKYARD: In a story that might have made headlines had it not taken place just before the devastating Sonoma County firestorms, a Petaluma couple discovered a live alligator in their backyard koi pond on Thursday, Oct. 5. After calling police to report “a four foot reptile with lots of teeth,” Karen David-Brown was sure that authorities would think she was hallucinating. When they showed up, however, they discovered the alligator attempting to escape, and it was soon apprehended by Petaluma Animal Services officer Mark Scott, who trapped the toothy carnivore with a net, quickly duct-taping its mouth shut to protect himself from alligator bites. The creature was later found to be the property of Bonnie Cromwell, operator of the popular Classroom Safari educational program. Dubbed Darth Gator, the alligator skipped out during transportation to a new facility.

(Got a suggestion of an item for THE BUZZ? Write to David Templeton at david.templeton@argus-courier.com)