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Week of  August 13-18, 2001

1. Special Interest
2. Dance
3. Media
4. Music
5. People
6. Publishing
7. Theatre
8. Visual Arts
9. Arts Issues
10. For Fun


ALL-ME ON DEMAND: Is technology making us narrow? "As a result of the Internet and other technological developments, many people are increasingly engaged in a process of 'personalization' that limits their exposure to topics and points of view of their own choosing. They filter in, and they also filter out, with unprecedented powers of precision." Boston Review 08/01

EMBRACING THE UGLY: "Ugliness is in the air, on the air, on the screen, trudging down the street, the runway, corroding advertising, art, design, music. It's the anti-aesthetic aesthetic. What is causing this ethos of awful? Those old bugaboos: boredom, a jaded consumer culture, and an overwhelming paucity of fresh ideas." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/14/01

THE OLD NEW THING: Was Richard Wagner the father of multimedia? "The revelation that multimedia is nothing new shouldn't be a buzz kill—it places today's multimedia within a more profound context than just the hot new thing." Rhizome 08/05/01


PROTECTING THE DANCE: Recent court battles over the late Martha Graham's dance legacy have made dancers more aware of copyright issues. "Most choreographers seem aware that putting a copyright line on a filmed or videotaped performance constitutes a technical copyright. What they may not realize is that a work is under copyright at the instant it's created, but that unless they file a 'writing' with the Library of Congress, creators have no right to collect damages on alleged infringements. No lawsuit for, say, plagiarism, can be instituted. (Since the '70s, a 'writing' has included notation and/or any filmed record of a dance.)" Village Voice 08/14/01

ACCIDENTAL CAREER: Christopher Wheeldon is the hottest young choreographer around right now. Not long ago the 28-year-old British-born dancer was a star with New York City Ballet. How he got there, though, started with an ankle injury. The Guardian (UK) 08/15/01

SCOTTISH BALLET CRISIS: The Scottish Ballet's artistic director's contract is not being renewed, and the company is in crisis. "The company, which has suffered repeated crises and stalemates since it was established in 1969, announced a major overhaul of its policies and direction, with Christopher Barron, the chief executive, saying the company was essentially being repositioned from a ballet to a contemporary dance company." The Glasgow Herald 08/16/01

  • DIRECTOR ATTACKS SCOTTISH BALLET: Robert North, Scottish Ballet's outgoing director, has attacked the company's plans to change directions. "There are people here who think that classical ballet shouldn’t exist and they want to kill it. They keep appearing and they keep trying to kill it and Scottish Ballet keeps fighting back." The Scotsman 08/17/01
  • TROUBLED COMPANY: The Sottish Ballet has had a long a troubled history, almost from its start. Its current financial and leadership crisis is just the latest in a long series of difficulties. The Glasgow Herald 08/16/01


LISTENING TRUMPS VIEWING: In the UK more people now listen to radio than watch TV. "Last week we learned that audience figures for radio broadcasts had overtaken those for television. It follows hard on the heels of the news that Radio 2, once considered a tragically unhip station for cardigan-wearing codgers, had overtaken 'wunnerful' Radio 1 to become Britain's top station." The Telegraph (UK) 08/15/01

SUBSIDIES FOR HOLLYWOOD? Hollywood is concerned about the number of productions now being filmed outside the US. So it has put its weight behind a bill in Congress "designed to curb the flow of film and TV production fleeing U.S. soil by providing financial incentives to producers who shoot within U.S. borders." Backstage 08/10/01

PRICES DRIVE MOVIE GOERS AWAY: A movie industry consultant is predicting that movie ticket sales will go down this year and next. "A major factor in this slowdown is increasing admission prices, which are turning moviegoers away." National Post (Reuters) (Canada) 08/13/01

WATCH ON YOUR OWN: In New Zealand, early release of DVD's is having an effect on movie theater ticket sales. "While there were other factors, including the lowering of the drinking age, box office revenue in country areas fell by an average 21 per cent last year. In one area, it was down 33 per cent." Sydney Morning Herald 08/15/01

MOVIE DOWNLOADS: In an effort to thwart pirates, five Hollywood movie studios - MGM, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Vivendi Universal and Warner Bros - are forming a company to distribute their movies over the internet. Computer users with broadband connections will be able to download movies directly into their computers. BBC 08/17/01

DOROTHY RETURNS: Warner Brothers is said to be developing a new TV series based on The Wizard of Oz. "According to trade reports, the series would center on a 20-something woman who lands in Oz - to lead a revolt against Emerald City." New York Post 08/17/01

DISPUTED REPRESENTATION: The American NAACP is contesting a Screen Actors Guild report that minority representation in the television industry was up last year. "The civil rights group says there were small gains in hiring minority actors for prime-time series. But it says there was little progress in minority representation at the executive and board levels." CBC 08/15/01

  • MORE MINORITIES: Minority groups have been complaining for years about the underrepresentation of minorities in Hollywood projects. Now a new survey says that last year a record number of minority actors won roles. "Of the 53,134 movie or TV roles, 11,930 went to people of color White actors still dominate the industry, however, playing 76.1 percent of all roles. About 14.8 percent of all roles went to blacks, the highest percentage since the guild began compiling statistics in 1992." Dallas Morning News 08/14/01

BOOK TALK: A Germany literary institution is coming to an end. For 13 years, the show Literary Quartet presented a series of discussions about books. "No other literary discussion program on German television lasted as long or accomplished as much. Books were made, and careers were endangered, if not ended. No other broadcast influenced as many people with nothing but words, something that borders on blasphemy in German television." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08/15/01

BESIDES, THEY'LL ALWAYS NEED WAITERS IN HOLLYWOOD: The fully-computerized actor, like the paper-free office, may be one of those concepts which will never be realized. In fact, the digital graphics people themselves sometimes say, "Use real actors." An example: For the upcoming Harry Potter movie, "It ended up that the most natural way to get (some scenes) was to create it on the computer and then go back in and insert real people, rather than the other way around." Wired 08/16/01


VIENNESE HALL BURNS: Vienna’s Sofiensaal, the city's "most beloved historic music venue besides the Musikverein," burned down Thursday after maintenance work on the roof started a fire. Johann Strauss performed there, and it was Herbert von Karajan's favorite recording space. Gramophone 08/17/01

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: Is classical recording dead? The venerable Deutsche Grammophon "makes about 55 new records a year - half its output of a decade ago. The days of artists dictating what they want to record, of easily obtained, exclusive contracts, of limitless symphony cycles, are long gone. But that does not mean DG is grinding to a halt." The Guardian (UK) 08/17/01

THE NEW REALITY: "Shaun Fanning's invention of Napster has forever changed the ground rules for artists, the recording industry, and the music audience. In the end, no matter what tactic the industry attempts, the end result will be the same - a shift of power away from the recording industry and toward the music-buying/listening public, and further down the road, to the artists themselves. Here are the possible scenarios." Christian Science Monitor 08/16/01

BEHIND THE MUSIC: "How much do listeners need to know in order to 'get' a piece? How much should composers tell? At what point does self-disclosure shift emphasis from a work itself to the process from which it sprang? And can music ever be expected to accommodate explicit expressions of sexual identity?" Philadelphia Inquirer 08/14/01

FO TAKES ON THE ITALIAN PREMIER: Nobel laureate Dario Fo decided to finish a Rossini opera. But he added a contemporary touch - a "not-so-subtle dart aimed at Italy's new prime minister, conservative media mogul Silvio Berlusconi." Nando Times (AP) 08/13/01


NEW RODGERS BIO SAYS: Outwardly, Broadway composer Richard Rodgers, who died in 1979 at 77, seemed to have led a charmed life. But he was an alcoholic, and "the drinking increased throughout his life - playwright Moss Hart once saw him down 16 scotch and sodas in one sitting - and in 1957, he was hospitalized for depression and alcoholism at Payne Whitney, which the novelist Jean Stafford called a 'high-class booby hatch'." New York Post 08/17/01

TALL AND TAN AND SUED: The Girl from Ipanema (she of the song's inspiration) is now 57, and she owns a boutique called Girl from Ipanema in Sao Paulo, where she now lives. The families of the men who wrote the song - claiming copyright - are suing to stop her from using the name on the store. National Post (Canada) 08/14/01

REMEMBERING JOHN GIELGUD: "Now that Gielgud, who seemed immortal, nevertheless died in 2000 at the age of 96, a century of Anglophone theater seems to have gone with him. Partly because theater has changed, the dashing romantic leading man à la Olivier and the sensitive, musical-voiced protagonist à la Gielgud are seldom called for nowadays, even in Shakespeare." The New York Times 08/12/01 (one-time registration required for access)

WHAT WRECKED BRANDO: Marlon Brando was poised to be one of the great actors of the 20th Century. But his contempt for his profession and the way Hollywood was set up to accommodate him made for the unraveling of his career. The New Republic 08/13/01


PRETENSIONS TO QUALITY? Are American literary writers too full of themselves? Do they fail to make sense? Are American readers "gullible morons" who don't know good from bad? The debate is joined. The Guardian (UK) 08/16/01

  • ...AND NE'ER (WELL, SELDOM) THE TWAIN SHALL MEET: Why don't literary novels appeal to more readers, the way genre novels do? They aren't intended to, because "people who write serious fiction seek the high opinion of other literary novelists, of creative writing teachers and of reviewers and critics. They want very badly to be 'literary,' and for many of them this means avoiding techniques associated with commercial and genre fiction." Salon 08/16/01

BOOKING OUT: A Saskatchewan library is looking to give away half of its collection - about 100,000 books - and in the meantime is shipping the books to a warehouse thousands of miles away. "The Chief Librarian says circulation has dropped from 150,000 books per year to just 5,000." CBC 08/16/01

BOOKER LONGLIST: For the first time ever, the longlist of finalists for the Booker Prize, the UK's most prestigious literary award, has been made public. Booker officials "believe revealing the longlist will put an end to speculation over how it is compiled." The Guardian (UK) 08/15/01

  • BOOKER NOMINEES: Here's a complete list of the 24 nominees for this year's Booker Prize. Toronto Star 08/15/01
  • HANDICAPPING THE B'r: Beryl Bainbridge is the bookmakers' favourite for the Booker. BBC 08/16/01

"REALITY TV" IS RUINING NOVELS, TOO: One of Britain's leading novelists complains that "The vogue for confessional novels, and the pressure on writers to sell their work with some tantalising revelation from their personal lives, is killing serious fiction. The trend toward a culture of 'de-fictionalisation', driven partly by the mania for reality TV, [is] cheapening the art of the novel." The Guardian (UK) 08/13/01

THIS BOOK WILL SELF DESTRUCT IN... E-books are still a tough sell. But one publisher has an idea to sell electronic books and save it from being copied. RosettaBooks will sell a timed copy of an Agatha Christie book - $1 buys you ten hours of reading until the book is automatically erased. Planet eBook 08/10/01


BOYCOTTING THE MUSIC MAN: The American actors union Actors Equity is boycotting a touring non-union production of The Music Man. "Non-union tours of shows have increased over the years to fill a growing number of halls across the nation and their lucrative "Broadway" series, but in the past, the non-union shows have been scaled-down productions of Annie or Cats that followed tours under Equity contracts. The Music Man marks the first high-profile Broadway show to go directly on tour with non-union actors." Hartford Courant 08/17/01

  • FRONTRUNNER DUCKS NATIONAL: Stephen Daldry, touted by many as the best candidate to take over London's troubled National Theatre after Trevor Nunn departs, has taken himself out of the running for the job. "An impresario and nurturer of new talent as well as a gifted director, many were convinced that only he could drag back the young theatre-makers and audiences who have deserted it." The Guardian (UK) 08/16/01

NEW STRATFORD STAGE: Canada's Stratford Festival is adding a new stage. "The 250-seat thrust stage, a theatre of classical origins where the audience will sit on three sides in a replica of the Festival Theatre, will be Stratford's fourth producing venue. It will join the 1,800-seat Festival, the 1,100-seat Avon and the 500-seat Tom Patterson — and will be the first such addition to the facilities in 30 years." Toronto Star 08/15/01

SADDAM ON STAGE: Zabibah and the King, a best-selling novel in Iraq, will be transformed into a big-budget stage play in Baghdad; it is rumored that a 20-part TV version of the story will be filmed as well. Saddam Hussein himself is believed to have written the original story, which is perceived as an allegory of the relationship between Iraq and the Western world. Salon 08/15/01

PLAYING YOUNG: London's National Theatre is making some changes to appeal to younger audiences. "The season will employ a range of devices - new work, affordable seats, a party atmosphere - to pull in new punters and seduce high-profile practitioners turned off by the National's current spaces. There is more to this than the notion of cheap beer and expensive DJs swinging into the early hours." The Guardian (UK) 08/15/01

  • PLAYING AT THE NATIONAL: Trevor Nunn's last season at the helm of the National Theatre is a mixed one. Does it recognize the problems inherent in the institution? Does it take any chances? Not hardly. International Herald Tribune 08/15/01


ROSS QUITS SFMOMA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art director David Ross has abruptly quit the museum, effective immediately. "A statement from the museum said that Ross' 'priorities diverge from those of the museum'." The move has surprised the San Francisco artworld. SFGate 08/17/01

  • SFMOMA BOARD SAYS: Economic downturn squeezes museum. "Our focus in the museum is on internal management, and David Ross is focused on external matters, which he is a genius at. What is good for the museum is not necessarily in his best interests. And we thought it was mutually beneficial if we parted." The New York Times 08/18/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE ODDS ON ART IN VEGAS: The Guggenheim and Hermitage museums are opening branch galleries in Las Vegas. Certainly, no one else has ever opened a major art museum in Las Vegas. The art world is intrigued and aghast. Can [Guggenheim uber-director Thomas] Krens compete with gambling, exploding volcanos and topless showgirls? And has Krens driven a stake into the traditional notion that art and entertainment are mutually exclusive? Krens likes the odds, calculating the Vegas operation will take in $15 million a year. The Age (Nelbourne) 08/15/01

ART ONLINE: "In Canada, where the art market is small and dominated by a handful of established auction houses, the industry is very nearly a closed sphere, where collectors and dealers do business based on ties forged years, sometimes decades, earlier." But a six-year-old company, by putting its entire catalogues online, has quietly become the second largest art seller in the country. National Post (Canada) 08/14/01

CRITICAL HISTORY: Looking back at a century of American art criticism can be revealing. "Examples of high intelligence, shrewd judgment and excellent prose command respect as well as envy. They may even serve as models to emulate. But the all-too-frequent instances of parochial taste, hidebound prejudice, political log-rolling and moldy prose leave one in no doubt as to why criticism is not a universally beloved enterprise." New York Observer 08/15/01

YES ON NUDE BARBIES: A US judge rules that a Utah artist can use Barbie dolls as parody in his work. “The ruling doesn’t mean it’s open season (to exploit products by) Mattel, it means there is a certain amount of breathing room for artists who want to use a commercial symbol that has tremendous cultural meaning, for purposes of artistic expression.” MSNBC (Reuters) 08/13/01

ANYWAY, THEY AGREE ON THE TITLE: The Prado bought "The Raising of Lazarus" at Sotheby's for $1.8 million. Sotheby's insists the painting is by seventeenth-century artist Jusepe de Ribera. The ex-director of the gallery says "it is not by Ribera and has no business to be in the Prado.” The painting is being kept in storage while the experts duke it out. The Art Newspaper 08/14/01

CYBER-AMERICA: The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displays less than 5 percent of its 3 million objects. "Some of its exhibits have bare-bones labeling with no referrals to in-depth materials." Now the museum is hoping that a new website will make access to images and information about objects in the museum's collection easier. The site is a modest start - only 450 objects are up on the site so far. Washington Post 08/16/01

VINTAGE FRAUD: A series of vintage photographs supposedly signed by photographer Lewis Hine are likely fakes. The photos appear to have been printed on paper not available until the 1950s. Hine died in the 1940s. Vintage prints have escalated in price in the past few years, making them quite valuable. The FBI is investigating for fraud. The New York Times 08/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

DEFENDING THE NATIONAL: The director of the National Museum of Australia is defending the museum from charges of accusations of "fabricated exhibitions, too much razzle-dazzle, and excessive use of oral history and audio-visuals." Canberra Times 08/14/01

DISPUTED RODINS: Paris' Rodin Museum and a museum in Ontario Canada are disputing the authenticity of a collection of sculptures the Canadian museum intends to put on display. "Which Rodins are authentic and which are reproductions is a thorny and complex debate, with roots in the way the artist created such renowned sculptures as The Thinker and The Kiss." National Post 08/16/01

WHY THE FRENCH LAG: Why have French artists lagged behind internationally? "French artists are very little present on the world stage, particularly at the great contemporary art fairs and sales – Basel and New York, for example." The Art Newspaper 08/10/01

MUSEUMS IN INDIA: "Arguably, the very idea of the museum remains alien to millions of people in India in the absence of an identifiable museum culture. Indeed, if Indian museums, for the most part, have virulently resisted being decolonised, this phenomenon needs to be linked to the absence of any sustained attempt to re-imagine their postcolonial condition." ARTIndia 08/01


RICH GET RICHER: "Of nearly 950 arts and cultural groups in the Bay Area, just eight accounted for half the private contributions and government grants reported on tax returns filed in 1999, according to a Chronicle analysis of tax data compiled by the National Center for Charitable Statistics." San Francisco Chronicle 08/12/01

WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL? Everywhere there is a return to beauty - good-looking architecture, nice-sounding music, paintings that don't seek to assault you. So what exactly is beauty? A learned appreciation, or something more scientifically based? Prospect 08/01

I WANNA SEE MICKEY. IN COURT: The owners of the commercial rights to Winnie the Pooh (acquired in 1926) are suing Walt Disney for $35 million. That's how much they say Disney has short-changed them on sales of computer software, VCRs, and DVDs. Disney says the original agreement did not cover those materials. International Herald Tribune 08/16/01



POTATO STOPS PERFORMANCE: A performance by San Francisco Ballet at London's Covent Garden had to be stopped and the theatre cleared after a potato, being microwaved backstage by one of the dancers, exploded during the second intermission and filled the hall with smoke. London Evening Standard 08/17/01

MILLION POINTS OF LIGHT: Artist James Downey wants to recruit millions of laser-pointer owners to shine their devices at a spot on the moon and light it up. One problem? A scientist says the physics of the project don't work out. MSNBC ( 08/14/01