Story of Fayetteville documentary debuts today

Posted: November 30, 2017 at 1:49 a.m.

Larry Foley (center) directs Hugh Kincaid as he portrays Archibald Yell for Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville on the front lawn of Fayetteville’s Headquarters House in 2011. Photographer/ broadcast journalism instructor Hayot Tuchiev looks on.

It's always a highlight of this job to recommend anything from the gifted filmmaker and state treasure Larry Foley -- anything from The Lost Squadron and The Buffalo Flows to The First Boys of Spring.

Add Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville to Foley's long list of worthy films. It's a lovingly produced hour airing at 6:30 p.m. today on AETN. The documentary was written, directed and produced by Foley, the departmental chairman and professor of journalism and documentary film at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Foley has earned 19 nominations and won seven Mid-America Emmy awards for his films. In July, he was inducted into the Mid-America Emmy Silver Circle that honors a distinguished career of teaching, reporting, writing, producing and directing.

Fans of Foley's work first came to know him when he reported for KATV, Channel 7, in Little Rock from 1977 to 1984. He then moved to AETN, where he honed his craft for nine years before joining his alma mater in 1993.

This documentary will bring back a lot of fond memories for many Arkansans. It's special for me because I was born there while my father attended law school. We soon moved to Little Rock, but I returned for graduate school in 1974.

When Foley was 2 years old, his family moved to Fayetteville so his dad could finish college. Foley lived there until the eighth grade when the family moved away. He returned for college in 1972.

The lushly photographed film, narrated by former President Bill Clinton (a former resident and law professor), premiered at the Fayetteville Public Library in 2012 and went on to be nominated for three Mid-America Emmys, winning one for the music.

Using dramatic re-creations, archival material and interviews, Foley chronicles the history of Fayetteville from a sleepy wide spot on an Ozarks dirt road in the 1820s to the lively college town that it is today.

As the sole through-passenger of the Butterfield Overland Mail stage on its first trip from St. Louis to San Francisco, reporter Waterman L. Ormsby described Fayetteville in 1858 as a "most inaccessible place" but a "flourishing little town."

Some of the colorful characters we meet along the way are authors Charles J. Finger and William Lighton; musicians Buddy Hayes, Ronnie Hawkins and the Cate Brothers; and the fascinating Roberta Fulbright, former Fayetteville Daily Democrat publisher and the politically minded mother of Sen. J. William Fulbright.

Then there was Charles Von Berg, the eccentric "old scout" of Mount Sequoyah (then East Mountain). He would play taps each evening from his porch. "Every time I blow this old bugle of mine," Von Berg is quoted in a re-creation, "I am blowing tribute to Custer and his men."

One personal segment for Clinton shows the 1931 Tudor Revival house at 930 W. California Blvd. (now Clinton Drive) he bought before he asked Hillary Rodham to marry him. They exchanged vows in the living room on Oct. 11, 1975. The house, just northeast of Bud Walton Arena, now operates as a museum.

These days, Fayetteville is part of a four-county statistical area with a population of more than 460,000. Still, it maintains a small-town flavor centered on the town square and along iconic Dickson Street.

Whether you were born in Fayetteville, or went to school there, or just visited for a Razorbacks game, Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville will prove fascinating.

Together again. The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration airs from 8 to 10 p.m. today on ABC as part of the network's "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas."

If there is an adorable little girl in your life, watch with her, because for the first time on TV, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel will perform together.

If you have to ask, Bell and Menzel are the stars of Frozen, giving voice to Anna and Elsa. Come to think of it, their performance will be the big finale, so you may have to record the show if that's too late for your girl to stay up.

Bell and Menzel will sing "When We're Together" from the new Disney Animation Studios featurette, Olaf's Frozen Adventure.

To get a plug in for the Disney parks, the duo will be joined by a 30-piece choir from the steps of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Resort in California.

Julianne Hough and Nick Lachey will host and other performers include Joey McIntyre with Lea Michele, Sofia Carson, Sean Giambrone and Olivia Rodrigo, Ciara, Darius Rucker, Fifth Harmony, Fitz and the Tantrums, Hanson, In Real Life, Jason Derulo and Broadway's Telly Leung and Arielle Jacobs of Aladdin.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 11/30/2017