Wine History Project Founder Libbie Agran hosts a discussion with longtime journalist, film critic, teacher, and author Kirk Honeycutt at the Noor Foundation screening of Sideways. Agran and Honeycutt will talk about the film and its effects on the local wine industry as well as take questions from the audience.

Kirk Honeycutt was a senior reporter and then chief film critic for The Hollywood Reporter for 20 years ending in 2012 and wrote a review for Sideways in the publication when the film premiered in 2004.

In his review of “Sideways,” Honeycutt offered the following quote in The Hollywood Reporter:

“Director Alexander Payne captures in his “hysterically funny yet melancholy comedy … subtle undertones of the great character movies of the 1970s and a delicate though strong finish that fills one with hope for its most forlorn characters.”

Honeycutt has contributed to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times (where he also had a Sunday news column), Newsday, American Film and Cosmopolitan magazines, the Christian Science Monitor and other publications. As an adjunct professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, he has taught a variety of courses including film history, criticism and screenplay analysis. He hosted UCLA Extension’s Sneak Preview film series from 2005 to 2015. Honeycutt currently lives in Paso Robles, California with his wife.

About the Hitching Post and “Sideways”
Frank Ostini, owner of The Hitching Post, describes his experience while being part of the making of Sideways:

Sideways for us started in 1998 as Rex Pickett (writer of the novel, Sideways) would often hang out at our bar on his visits here from Southern California. He said he was writing a book about our region, its wines, wineries, restaurants and people. He said the bartender and waitress were in it. I, being somewhat of a skeptic, didn’t believe it would ever be published. Boy, was I wrong!”

“Only in June of 2003 did we realize that Sideways would be a movie as location scouts began to comb the Santa Ynez Valley. Rex really had written a novel, and the manuscript had been picked up by director Alexander Payne. His people were setting up filming in many of the places that Rex had visited and written about into his soon-to-be book. The Hitching Post was one of those places. I, still being the skeptic, wasn’t sure I wanted the Hitching Post to be part of this. Would they treat the Hitching Post, all my friend’s wines, and our region with honor and respect?”

“I met with producer Michael London and his staff and asked a million questions. After reading the script, I had issues with some of the content. I met with Alexander Payne to discuss these points. He took note of what I had to say, although I knew he wasn’t going to change his movie on my account. But I was convinced he was a sensitive, creative and very talented director. I knew we should be involved as much as we could.

“Before filming started, actress Virginia Madsen, who plays a waitress in the Hitching Post, came and spent time in our kitchen and bar to get a feeling of what that job is like and who we are. We brought her and Sandra Oh to our winery to show them how we make wine. We also took them to Au Bon Climat winery where they enjoyed a famous Jim Clendenen lunch.”

“Sideways was filmed in our region over ten weeks in October/November 2003. They used the Hitching Post for three days.”

“We braced for an uncomfortable experience, having heard that Hollywood filmmakers would trample our location, and all of us in their way. Instead, everyone on the Sideways team was considerate, a pleasure to work and be with. They were all so happy and glad to be working on this quality film with such a wonderful director in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. We were and are so happy to have been a part of Sideways!”