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Video memories


by Mike Corrigan

Trying to condense the Bamonte's 280-page, meticulously researched Davenport Hotel history into a 54-minute video documentary wasn't easy -- for the book's authors or the video production team of Jim Bolser and Robin Briley. But that's just what they did. At their in-home facility (known to the rest of the world as Peak Video Productions), Bolser and Briley used the Bamonte's Spokane's Legendary Davenport Hotel as a template for their companion documentary of the same name, which will air on KXLY-TV Saturday, Nov. 24.

"This is 54 minutes, which is probably 30 scripted pages, so it's only a little piece of his book," explains Briley. "We concentrated on Louis Davenport -- the kind of person he was, the early days and his evolution from his early restaurants. Also the myths and what made him so successful and why the hotel is so special."

Bolser continues: "It's great for us because Tony's done all the research and has all the pictures. We wouldn't have even attempted something like this without him. We got all of the facts and figures from the book, but we also interviewed people. We have stories and we tried to bring those to life with some recreations."

Like their previous effort, Idaho's Lake of the Spirits: A Visual History of Spirit Lake, Idaho, the Briley/Bolser-produced Davenport documentary is narrated by Robin's father, veteran Spokane TV newsman Bob Briley. For the dramatizations, the team tapped members of the Civic Theatre for acting help (Robin even has a cameo role).

In one segment, they introduce Louie's grandson (not a hotel man, but a wheat farmer), who narrates a story about an elderly couple wandering in off the street to eat their sack lunches in the hotel lobby. They received the royal treatment (in the way of a clean white tablecloth, hotel china, stemware and silver) from the hotel staff per Davenport's personal direction. It's a character-defining moment, one that reinforces Louis Davenport's legendary reputation for generosity, hospitality and humility.

Says Briley: "We're less facts and figures and more into the people." --

The documentary will air on KXLY-TV on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 10 pm and again on Sunday,

Dec. 2, at 2 pm. The videotape will also be available for sale on Nov. 17 at Hastings and Auntie's.

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