For the week of July 1 thru July 7, 1998  

The show will go on

Express Staff Writer

Hailey’s most famous couple Bruce Willis and Demi Moore announced they’re separating after almost 12 years of marriage.

Moore’s publicist Pat Kingsley issued the brief statement last week, which Willis’ publicist Paul Bloch supported, but didn’t elaborate upon.

What hangs in the balance of the separation, and possible divorce, is the status of Hailey’s downtown Main Street.

The fate of Willis’ business ventures, including the E.G. Willis Building, Valley Entertainment, Shorty’s Diner, the Mint bar and the Liberty Theater, is a question locals have been asking since spring, when the Mint and Shorty’s closed unexpectedly.

Representatives of Valley Entertainment, who mysteriously moved their offices out of the E.G. Willis Building last week, declined to comment on the Willis businesses, and Bloch’s office said they have no information outside of Kingsley’s press release.

"Unfortunately, the businesses are a personal issue, and we can’t say anything," said a representative in Bloch’s office.

Those who wanted to talk, however, had the opportunity last week as a media whirlwind, including staff from Vanity Fair, George, The Globe, "Entertainment Tonight," syndicated news networks, and innumerable others blew into town.

Locals told stories about Willis and Moore to the press, a local reporter and Mayor Brad Siemer appeared on a national tabloid TV show, county clerks were accosted by reporters looking for the couple’s divorce filings, and national and international journalists contacted local newsrooms for any tidbit of information available.

Hailey Chamber of Commerce executive director Sallie Hanson was one of those speaking to the press, and said she thought it was important not to say no comment.

Hanson said she is optimistic about Hailey’s economic future with or without Willis.

"We are very, very optimistic," she said.

She reported the chamber and the city of Hailey are working together to insure the economic viability and development of Hailey.

"We don’t rely on Bruce," she said. "You have to look at the number of people who worked for him and then were unemployed. I know a majority of them got other jobs."

Hanson said the only negative aspect is the empty buildings on Main Street, which she hopes will operate in some form or another soon. Vacant buildings give the feeling nothing is happening in town, she said.

"We’ll just keep moving along, and everyone will be happy," Hanson said. "We’re all working toward the same thing."

She added the Fourth of July fireworks are scheduled as usual.

"He made that commitment, and he’s keeping it."


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