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Week of  October 15-21, 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


BERLIN AS URBAN REBUILD: If New York is looking to rebuild its skyline, perhaps it ought to look to Berlin. "The infinitely resilient burghers of Berlin have been doing so for more than half a century, starting in the aftermath of World War II and then starting over again following the collapse of the Wall and the regimes that built and backed it. Rarely in modern times have there been reconstruction projects as far-reaching or lavishly funded as those of post-apocalyptic Berlin, and never have they been so fraught with symbolism or, in recent years, so wrought with soul-searching." New York Review of Books 11/01/01

A MUSEUM REPERTORY: "Strangely, the idea of repertory is rarely discussed in relation to the art museum. Yet for anybody who goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a regular basis and looks at El Greco's View of Toledo or Watteau's Mezzetin or Bruegel's Harvesters or the Rembrandts or the Vermeers the experience can be very much like going to Coppélia or La Bohème or a Mozart piano concerto. You crave a known experience and also want to see how your feelings about that experience have changed. An opera or symphony can be interpreted in so many different ways that it sometimes seems like an entirely new or different work. A painting or sculpture also appears very different at different times, depending on how it's presented, for presentation is a form of interpretation." The New Republic 10/16/01

REIMAGINING LOWER MANHATTAN: A coalition of some of America's best architectural firms have got together to envision a replacement for the World Trade Center. "If nothing else, the terrorist attack demanded that New York architects bring themselves up to speed on issues of critical importance to any serious discussion of the city's future. The international flow of currency and information. Access to public, private, and cyber space. Architecture's roots in military fortifications. The convergence of our own technology — tall buildings and airplanes — in terrorist warfare. The nature of risk." The New York Times 10/14/01 (one-time registration required for access)


NATIONAL BALLET'S "SYMBOLIC" SURPLUS: Canada's National Ballet posts a small "symbolic" surplus for the year despite declines in funding and donations. "The company's accumulated deficit of $4-million almost exactly matches what the National Ballet has lost through cutbacks in Ontario government funding." National Post 10/18/01

NEW ABT DIRECTOR: American Ballet Theater has suffered under a series of managerial woes and money woes. Tuesday ABT appointed Wallace Chappell, 60 as its new executive director. Chappell is "the director of the Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa since 1986, who has also held ranking staff positions with the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Alliance Theater in Atlanta and the Repertory Theater of St. Louis." The New York Times 10/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

OAKLAND STRUGGLES: Oakland Ballet is struggling. Last weekend's performance was "a disappointing affair that brings the company's recent struggles painfully to light. After hiring a new artistic director last year, Karen Brown, the company has been trying to knit together a mostly new group of performers and to fill its ranks with enough qualified male dancers, all on a shoestring budget. It's a big job, no doubt, but the results Sunday were dismal." San Jose Mercury News 10/17/01

BALLET BIG PASSES: "Willam Farr Christensen, a Utah dancer who started on the vaudeville stage and went on to become one of the most important figures in American ballet, died Sunday. He was 99." Dallas Morning News (AP) 10/17/01


SOMEBODY'S GOT TO DO IT: The Hollywood junket has got a bad name. But "for many reporters, especially those from smaller outlets or overseas, paid junkets are the only way they can afford to get access to the celebrities their readers and viewers demand to know about. We don't think of the jaunts to Hollywood to stay in posh hotels and interview stars as vacations but as giving up our weekends and time with our families to work." Sydney Morning Herald 10/15/01

TWICE-CANCELED EMMYS RESCHEDULED: They'll be held Nov. 4 in Los Angeles. "Still unknown is how many top-drawer nominees will show up Nov. 4. Some stars, including Dennis Franz, the Emmy-nominated actor on ABC's NYPD Blue, have expressed the hope that the Emmys wouldn't be held this year. The canceled Oct. 7 telecast had planned a bicoastal component, enabling nominees of New York-based shows to attend without boarding a plane. The Nov. 4 event will have no such element." Los Angeles Times 10/18/01

RATING THE CREDIBILITY OF HOLLYWOOD SCI-FI: So the American military is consulting Hollywood over high-tech battle scenarios...How plausible are the movie-makers' techno-dreams? Two tech pioneers rate the ideas versus reality: Data-chip brain implants in Johnny Mnemonic - only 30 percent. The paranoid computer in 2001 - 90 percent, but still 20 to 30 years away. Uploading a virus to incapacitate a ship's computer in Independence Day - don't look now, but it's already here. 10/16/01

ENTERTAINING WAR: Television executives met with White House officials last week to plot what ways the TV industry might be helpful in the American war effort. "We listened to their ideas, we talked about resources we might have in government to be helpful to them," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan. "The purpose of this meeting was to open a dialogue and provide a source or channel of information." Washington Post 10/20/01

FEAR OF MAIL: Movie studios are changing their working routines. Among the changes: "Notices are going out from production and casting companies advising agents and managers that mailed submissions of actors' photos and résumés will no longer be allowed." San Jose Mercury News 10/21/01

STEP ASIDE, ARNOLD, HERE COMES JET LI: "Asian movies are red-hot. From a purely commercial standpoint, Hollywood is betting that Hong Kong-style martial arts films, which put more emphasis on gravity-defying stunts than on blood-drenched gunplay, can deliver a new generation of action icons to replace aging stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone." Los Angeles Times 10/16/01


DALLAS OPERA SEASON THREATENED: Musicians are voting on whether to accept a new contract befor the season opens. "The orchestra has been asked to accept a wage freeze at $800 a week, with an 8 percent increase to $864 in the second year of a three-year contract, and a 6 percent increase to $915 in the third year." Orchestra members are likely to reject the offer, calling it "20 percent less than the market wage in this area for similar services." Musicians also want benefits including "pension contributions, health insurance, disability payments, and sick leave." Dallas Morning News 10/21/01

THE RECORDING CRISIS: "The classical recording industry seems to be collapsing, and aggrieved music lovers are looking for someone to blame. Confused consumers have gone from anger to frustration to apathy. Reportedly, the classical share of the total CD market, which had peaked at 7 percent during the height of CD mania, has slipped to 3 percent. Several seemingly contradictory factors are causing the crisis in classical recording." The New York Times 10/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ATONAL YEARNINGS: "The notion that Arnold Schoenberg liked to be liked by a mass audience will no doubt surprise his detractors. No one can deny the extraordinary impact Schoenberg had on the music of the 20th century. He was the dominant force in attempting to subdue the power that tonality had exerted on Western music for 300 years. He liberated dissonance and then went on to create a new form of organizing the pitches of the scale—the 12-tone system—that ultimately inspired the ultra-complex, mathematically inclined avant-garde music that came after World War II. For that, Schoenberg has been personally blamed for modern music losing its audience in the 20th century." Los Angeles Times 10/21/01

WHY SAN JOSE CAN'T FLY: The San Jose Symphony's crisis has been a long time coming. The orchestra board president "believes the symphony should be a $3.5 million to $4 million organization, as opposed to nearly $8 million. It has counted on 60 percent of revenue from contributions and 40 percent from ticket sales" and those percentages ought to be reversed. "The San Jose Symphony is 123 years old - older than all the other arts groups in the city, not to mention most of the buildings. It has been and should be an important part of the community's cultural life. But age and tradition alone can't guarantee its survival." San Jose Mercury News 10/16/01

STRING QUARTET HAS TO PAY: A Pennsylvania judge has ordered three members of the Audubon String Quartet to pay the fourth member - David Ehrlich - more than $600,000. The group had thrown the first violinist out of the group 20 months ago after disagreements. The judge "ruled that Ehrlich was part owner of the Audubon Quartet, and therefore entitled to 25 percent of the group's assets." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/18/01

CRISIS OF TASTE: Why do people turn to awful music in times of national crisis? It's "nothing new - in fact, it has happened throughout history. The assassination of JFK is acknowledged as a major factor in US Beatlemania - a grieving nation was looking for something to take the pain away. What is normally brushed over is that Americans took more immediate solace in one particular song, the appalling religious novelty classic Dominique by The Singing Nun, which was No 1 for the next month." The Guardian (UK) 10/15/01

GREASING THE WHEELS: Taking a symphony orchestra on an international tour is no easy task. Preparations begin two years in advance, and no detail is left unresearched. Still, on the road, unexpected crises are bound to manifest themselves, and when they do, nearly every major American orchestra has the same reaction. They call Guido. Yes, Guido. Detroit Free Press 10/15/01

FOURTH AMENDMENT, ANYONE? You might want to put a false moustache and a pair of dark glasses on those old Napster-acquired MP3s kicking around your computer. The recording industry reportedly asked various congresspeople to tack on an amendment to, of all things, the anti-terrorism bill, which would have allowed them to hack into the computers of consumers and delete illicit MP3 song files. Privacy advocates are apoplectic. Wired 10/15/01


MAKING MODERN MATTER: When Nicholas Serota became director of the Tate, contemporary art was seen as a problem in England. "Serota's efforts have transformed us into a nation that cares about contemporary art, and it is one of his proudest achievements." London Evening Standard 10/16/01

THE DIRECTOR COMPLAINS: When Australia's National Gallery director Dr Brian Kennedy appointed John McDonald as head of the museum's Australian Art, it was a controversial decision. But a few months after the September 2000 appointment, Kennedy regretted the appointment. He outlined his grievances in a five-page memo... Sydney Morning Herald 10/16/01

TALENT ON LOAN FROM GOD? Martin Amis hosts an interview show, and ends up revealing more about himself than his guests. "Amis has created within his own mind a notion of 'talent', which he deifies and worships. He says, with the certainty of a man who has never doubted his own ability, that 'your heart becomes gangrenous in your body when you go against your talent'. Literary talent is his sole criterion for success, and anybody outside that world - a tiler, for example - is worthless. He emerges as obsessed with his own place in literature, and notes with sadness: 'Usually writers never find out how good they are because that starts with the obituaries'." New Statesman 10/15/01

JAY LIVINGSTON, 86: Composer and lyricist Jay Livingston, who was nominated for seven Oscar and won three, died at his home in Los Angeles. With partner Ray Evans, he wrote such pop hits as Silver Bells, Mona Lisa, and Que Sera, Sera. Nando Times 10/17/01

THE ARTIST WHO KEEPS GOING: He lives at the fringe, shunned by galleries and dealers who grew tired of his quirks and neediness years ago. In a world soaked in eccentricity and skewed perspectives, John Grazier is the ultimate at being strange. He swings from bouts of homelessness to raking in $100,000 commissions. When he's down, he paints on the living room floors of friends' houses - with no easel, no chair and no dropcloth. And because he can't rely on others to sell his paintings, he does it himself, like some Wild West art cowboy, blazing trails in his Handi-Van, hawking pictures and making small bursts of money." Washington Post 10/14/01


LINGUA FRANCA SUSPENDS PUBLICATION: The current issue is coming out, but work on the next has stopped. "While Lingua Franca never turned a profit and its circulation hovered around 15,000, news of its apparent demise elicited exclamations of dismay in the world of letters." The New York Times 10/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

LOOKING FOR SHAKESPEARE: Who was William Shakespeare? Some say he was the "17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Oxford was eminently equipped to tackle the range and scope evident in Shakespeare's work: because of his education (arts, law, sciences), his renowned excellence in letters, his prowess at sports and arms, his travels in Italy and France, his patronage of literary and scientific contemporaries." Sydney Morning Herald 10/17/01

  • BUT NOT THAT THEORY: "The Oxfordian case is founded in snobbery, the idea that a non-aristocratic lad from the country could never have had the talent or insight to write such masterpieces." Sydney Morning Herald 10/17/01

THE WRITER AS CELEBRITY: "In the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century many successful and much-admired authors were unknown to the general public and to their readers - unknown in the sense that their appearance, their personalities, their habits, and their private lives were indeed private." How different from today, when writers have become performing animals and every aspect of their lives is open to scrutiny in the press. The Guardian (UK) 10/20/01

CAREY TAKES BOOKER: Australian writer Peter Carey has won this year's Booker Prize. "Carey, 58, is only the second writer in the Booker's 32-year history, after JM Coetzee, to win twice." The Guardian (UK) 10/18/01

ALL ABOUT BOOK(ER) SALES: The honor's nice, but Peter Carey's Booker Prize win will sell a lot of his books. "When Peter won in 1988 with Oscar and Lucinda, we released the paperback edition on the day that it was announced. We printed 20,000 and didn't know if it was going to be the stock for a day or a year. We sold them in an hour, and in the next six months sold 200,000 copies." The Age (Melbourne) 10/19/01

BAILING ON THE BOOKER: Booker Prize sponsor Iceland, a frozen food producer, is announcing it is withdrawing from sponsoring Britain's top literary prize. The company says that "new sponsors should be found for the literary competition as it sees 'no commercial link' between its supermarket business and the literary award. Iceland inherited the prize only because of a merger with food group Booker in 2000." BBC 10/16/01

THE NOBEL FOR LITERATURE: There is second-guessing almost every year; still, most winners since World War Two have been substantial literary figures. Much better choices, in fact, than "the bewildering early choices of the Nobel Committee, so obscure as to appear now wilfully blind. They were not the choices of Nobel himself, of course, but of the members of the Swedish Academy trying to guess what the repentant merchant of death would like." Boston Review 10/01

BRAVE CHOICE: V.S. Naipaul is the Nobel Institute's bravest choice in years for the literature prize. "In choosing him as this year's laureate for literature, the Nobel committee has allowed the controversial Naipaul's influence - his aura - to accrue to the prize as much as the other way around." Salon 10/14/01

THE NON-FICTION SQUEEZE: "Nonfiction, or nonfiction that masquerades as fiction, nonfiction that aspires to be fiction, nonfiction that wants to be fiction when it grows up, is in sudden, best-selling vogue." It's squeezing out fiction. This is not a good thing. San Francisco Bay Guardian 10/12/01


NORTH AMERICA'S LARGEST THEATRE FEST: Ontario's Stratford Theatre Festival is 50 years old. It's the largest repertory theatre in North America and Canada's largest performing arts company. "Attendance has sailed past the half-million mark and year-end surpluses have gone over $4-million for the past two years. This year, Stratford is spending $40.8-million and will have sold more than 600,000 tickets by the time the season ends in November." But is the festival showing its age? How about an upgrade in progrmming... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/18/01

TEARING DOWN SHAKESPEARE THEATRE: The Royal Shakespeare Company plans to demolish its theatre at Straford-upon-Avon. "The 1932 Art Deco listed building will be bulldozed as part of a grand plan by the RSC's director, Adrian Noble, for a £100 million 'theatre village' on the banks of the Avon." The Independent (UK) 10/18/01

THE NOSE KNOWS: Julie Taymor did the improbable by making Disney (The Lion King) cool with even the most jaded Broadway denizens. Now she's taking on a new project - Pinocchio. She sees the story as "a fable about adolescence, that awkward age when hormones start kicking in, you smoke dope, and need to break away from your family and discover your own identity." The Telegraph (UK) 10/19/01

THE SURPRISE TEAR-DOWN: The Royal Shakespeare Company was thought to be considering a major renovation of its building; plans for demolishing the art deco theatre came as a surprise. “There is considerable scope for remodelling, but the important historic parts of this theatre are well worth fighting for.” The Times (UK) 10/19/01

REVIVING THE MAGIC: London's "West End has recently been littered with new musicals that haven’t caught on, leaving producers sometimes sizeably in the red." So what is generating London theatre box office? Revivals, the good old days... The Times (UK) 10/16/01


HERMITAGE - PLANS FOR WORLD DOMINATION: "Although the Hermitage welcomed about 2.4 million visitors last year, the administration is dissatisfied even with this impressive figure and is looking for ways to reach a wider audience. Last fall, Somerset House in London became home to the Hermitage Rooms. Last summer, the museum joined forces with the New York Guggenheim Foundation to bring more contemporary art to the Hermitage, as well as to hold joint exhibitions with museums around the world. One of these, the Hermitage Guggenheim Museum in Las Vegas, opened earlier this month. In the meantime, the museum is preparing to open another exhibition center in Amsterdam." St. Petersburg Times (Russia) 10/12/01

PAYING OFF ON ART: "If you had started collecting contemporary British art a decade ago, when the YBAs were fresh out of college, your collection, amassed for a few thousand, could now be worth millions. Some collections were started for only a crown or two - Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin's dentist accepted art in lieu of payment for dental work they had done." London Evening Standard 10/16/01

CALDER UNBURIED: Pieces of Alexander Calder's giant stabile at the World Trade Center (worth $2.5 million) have been discovered under the buildings' wreckage. The first piece of Bent Propeller a bright red, 25-foot-high, 15-ton sculpture by Philadelphia-born artist Alexander Calder, was removed from the wreckage last Thursday." New York Post 10/17/01

TREASURE UNDER LONDON: Somewhere buried under The Strand in London lies a city of broken Greek and Roman statues, altars and sarcophagi. "These fractured deities and marble tablets are the last undiscovered fragment of the collection amassed by the 14th Earl of Arundel, the first Englishman to be bitten by 'Marble Mania'." London Evening Standard 10/18/01

THE SINKING OF VENICE: By studying 100 paintings by Canaletto, researchers have determined how much the sea has risen in Venice (or how much Venice has sunk, depending on your perspective). "His works offer a record of where the high tide marks lay during his life, from 1697 to 1768. Those show that the sea has since risen by 80cm (31in) – an average of 2.8mm (just over an inch) every year." The Independent (UK) 10/17/01

ANSEL ADAMS CENTER CLOSING: The Friends of Photography, founded by Adams, is folding because of debt. "The center's collection of 140 Ansel Adams photographs printed by Adams in the 1970s expressly for the Friends will be sold, and the proceeds will go to erasing the debt." San Francisco Chronicle 10/18/01

WHEN DESIGN OVERTAKES ART: Hard to find anyone who isn't ready to anoint Frank Gehry as a master artist. "Why all the hoopla? Is this designer of metallic museums and curvy concert halls, luxury houses and flashy corporate headquarters truly Our Greatest Living Artist? The notion is telling, for it points to the new centrality of architecture in cultural discourse. This centrality stems from the initial debates about postmodernism in the 1970s, which were focused on architecture, but it is clinched by the contemporary inflation of design and display in all sorts of spheres: art, fashion, business and so on." Los Angeles Times 10/14/01

REBELLING AGAINST ROYAL'S RODINS: The Royal Ontario Museum was planning a big international Rodin symposium coinciding with the controversial Rodin sculpture show the museum is currently hosting. But while "last month the ROM mailed dozens of letters to Rodin scholars and buffs around the world, inviting them to the Ontario capital to weigh in on the legacy of the sculptor," almost no one has agreed to come. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/20/01

FASHIONABLE ART: "There has never been a time when fashion has done more to suggest that it might be art. Fashion is parasitic. It depends on other art forms for its imagery and its identity. And it's been so successful at it that it has begun to replace them." The Observer (UK) 10/14/01

SCOTTISH ART WAR: "Glasgow's cash-strapped museums and galleries, funded solely by the city, are the most visited museums outside London. But there is resentment that Edinburgh's 'national' galleries receive the lion's share of government support. Despite having 1m fewer visitors than Glasgow's museums, Edinburgh's have been awarded £20 million in government grants." Sunday Times (UK) 10/14/01


CORK AS CULTURE CAPITAL: The Irish city of Cork has been named as Europe's Culture Capital for 2005. Previous cities named as culture capitals have been Barcelona, Lisbon and Helsinki, "while Glasgow’s reign in 1990 had a positive and long-lasting impact on the city’s economic and cultural fortunes." Gramophone 10/16/01

SORTING OUT THE "A" IN A&E: In a world of entertainment, where did art go? If entertainment is now considered art because it reaches more people and therefore has greater impact, and art is entertainment because it tries to reach more people, then what do the distinctions of art in culture mean? The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/20/01

ARTS IN IRELAND - THE BAD AND THE GOOD: On the one hand, "it seems the Arts Council has a reputation for being paternalistic, furtive and secretive in the way it has conducted its business." On the other, "the Republic is perceived, by observers in Britain at least, as particularly enlightened in the way it has passed legislation to support artists financially." The Irish Times 10/18/01

TRADING ON CULTURE: Canada's cultural minister wants to remove cultural issues from the purview of the World Trade Organization. She "wants either a new agency - or an existing one like UNESCO - to take over the responsibility for disputes on culture matters." She says it's essential "to be the work we are doing to get international support for an instrument on cultural diversity so culture is not traded off at the table of the WTO." CBC 10/16/01

IS THE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER DEAD? "What Lincoln Center and South Bank have in common is their desperate need for a facelift. Both are showing their age. Both clung to the Sixties conceit that people who like classical music, for example, can be 'led' into other arts simply by having them in close proximity. Human nature, however, has changed since then. Citizens in open societies are not inclined to be led: they prefer to discover. The arts centre is a thing of the past, filled with superfluities." The Telegraph (UK) 10/17/01


CREATIVITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A CELL PHONE: A French court agreed with composer Gabriel Yared that a cell phone relay tower "impaired his creative concentration," and ordered France Télécom to remove it. Fearing a rash of similar suits, France Télécom has left the tower standing, and is paying a fine while it appeals to a higher court. London Evening Standard 10/17/01

THE ART OF CLEANING: A cleaner picking up a London gallery, mistakenly gathered up and threw out an installation by Damien Hirst. He "came across a pile of beer bottles, coffee cups and overflowing ashtrays and cleared them away at the Eyestorm Gallery on Wednesday morning." BBC 10/19/01

CELL PHONE SYMPHONY: Composer Golan Levin produced a piece for an orchestra of cellphones. "A database system was established to register the phone numbers of the participants in the cell phone orchestra and deliver their seating information to the second system, performance software that allows the controller to click on a computer screen and dial a particular person. Finally, a third system developed for the piece connects the performance software to the mobile switching center. For the premiere, 200 participants registered their phone numbers at a web kiosk and, when the make of their phone allowed, a customized ring sound was downloaded onto their phone. They were then given a ticket instructing them where to sit in a 20 by 10 grid of seats." NewMusicBox 10/01