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Week of July 1-7, 2002

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


THE "PROFIT" MOTIVE: "I used to think people made films for profit. I know better now. Films are made to generate income. If profit follows, well and good. But income can be diverted - not to use a blunter word - whereas profit has to be declared, shared, and have tax paid on it. Which is one reason why many movies, earning box-office millions, do their best not to come into profit too soon, if ever, by loading themselves with distribution costs. But there is a class of film that can create a profit even before it's made - and needn't ever be shown." London Evening Standard 07/05/02


SCOTTISH BALLET CHIEF WALKS OUT: Scottish Ballet's embattled director Robert North has quit is contract a month before it was to end. North has been critical of the company board's decision to reinvent as a modern dance company. Glasgow Herald 07/02/02

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Katherine Dunham's name has never been as immediately recognizable as Martha Graham's, but the 93-year-old dancer/choreographer has contributed arguably as much as Graham to the world of dance. An innovative choreographer, a quietly political crusader, and a devoted student of African and Western dance traditions, Dunham is finally starting to gain the recognition many aficionados feel she has long been deserving of. Boston Globe 07/03/02

THE DOWN SIDE OF BEING THE TOP GUY: Christopher Wheeldon is arguably the world's hottest choreographer right now. Does he have any aspirations to run one of the big companies? "I see what artistic directors are going through, and I think it must be one of the worst jobs in the world. You never seem to be able to do what's right for the company. If you're trying to push the envelope, you're attacked for that. If you're a great advocate for tradition, you are attacked for that." The Age (Melbourne) 07/01/02

WANTED - A GOOD EDITOR: How long should a dance be? Hard to tell - and choreographers aren't always the best ones to know. "Novelists submit to editors, and directors and playwrights have dramaturges to help them maximize theatrical impact. Filmmakers trust editors to make the final cut of movies. But choreographers get no such formal assistance while work is being created." The New York Times 06/30/02

RUNNING OFF TO JOIN THE CIRCUS: For 15 years Sally Ann Isaacks was a star of the Miami City Ballet. But along the way she began to want something different. So she quit the ballet at the end of last season and ran off to join the circus - performing with the Cirque Du Soleil. Miami Herald 06/30/02


DVD's RULE: CD sales might be in a slump, but DVD's are hot. "Consumers are on pace to spend $11 billion on DVD sales and rentals this year, making it the fastest-growing home-electronic product ever. DVDs routinely make more money in their opening weekend than comparable theatrical releases. Video games aren't far behind, with sales reaching $6.3 billion last year, nearly double what they were five years ago." Why? They've gotten cheaper, and they're stuffed with cool features - unlike stodgy CD's which are overpriced and the same-old same-old. Los Angeles Times 07/02/02

BYE-BYE INDEPENDENTS(CE): TV's independents - from stand-alone producers to local stations - continue to disappear, swallowed up by the entertainment industry's appetite for consolidation. Several producers spent the early 1990s vainly sounding alarms about this scenario, but the government has nevertheless spent the past decade stripping away rules that prevented the big from getting bigger, turning the producer-network game - never an entirely fair fight to begin with - into the equivalent of Florida State versus Sister Cecilia's School for Wayward Girls. As a result, truly entrepreneurial program suppliers have mostly been transformed into employees." Los Angeles Times 07/03/02

THE MOVIE SUMMER: The summer movie season is beating all box office records. So far, from May 2 to June 23 box office is up 27.5% over last year. "A key factor this summer is that the hit films are generally playing stronger and longer, unlike last year, when spectacular first weekend grosses were followed by drops of 50% or more in the second weekend." Los Angeles Times 07/01/02

A FIRST - CABLE BEATS BROADCAST: For the first time, all the US cable channels combined have more viewers than all the combined broadcast channels. Cable's trend of producing more original series has helped boost the cable nets' numbers. Orange County Register (NYDN) 07/02/02

RETHINKING SYNERGY: When AOL merged with Time Warner to create the world's largest entertainment conglomerate, the tech boom was still on, synergy was the watchword of the financial community, and the new behemoth was assumed to be an unstoppable juggernaut. As it turns out, synergy in the world of mass entertainment may not be all it's cracked up to be: "People relate much more to the individual brands. They care about HBO, AOL, Time magazine. They care about 'Harry Potter'... But it just doesn't matter to them that all those things are tied together." Chicago Tribune 07/07/02

THE BOLLYWOOD METHOD: Bollywood is finding fans worldwide. Its methods of making movies are unique. "It's the most organised chaos in the world; nothing should work yet everything does. There are no shooting scripts, no shooting schedules, no call sheets. The crew may be phoned in the morning to shoot that day. Actors work on several movies at a time and are often handed their scripts five minutes before filming. This is to avoid someone outside pinching the idea and making the same movie." The Age (Melbourne) 07/05/02

THE ENEMY R US: Do TV viewers have a "contract" with TV producers wherein they agree to watch commercials in return for programming? "Napster may—and I stress, may—have been legitimately labeled piracy, but now all forms of consumerism are being criminalized with ever-decreasing degrees of credibility." Big media is losing control and as it does, is treating its customers as criminals. "Name-calling is the last resort of once powerful institutions that are finding themselves losing control in the face of rapid media change." MIT Technology Review 07/04/02

THE TV FACTOR: The nature and tone of television has changed over the years. Maybe not for the better? "TV, once expected to be a polite guest in our living rooms, has turned into more of drunken party-crasher. Sex, violence and language that in earlier days would have triggered FCC threats and congressional investigations is now routine." Chicago Tribune 07/04/02


HIGH TIDES RAISE TUNES: A "High Tide Organ" is being installed on the waterfront in Blackpool England. Powered by natural forces, "the organ will offer a concert-like performance. With a few short peeps heralding the high tide, the sea will lead up to the main show with a few intermittent notes and chords. At the point of high tide, the organ will gloriously strum out a rhythmic crescendo whose effect is supposed to be similar to an aeolian harp. Vulnerable to mood swings just like other artists, performances are expected to be wild and frenzied on stormy days and softly mellifluous on calmer ones." Wired 07/01/02

  • SOUND OF WATER: A water organ built in the 16th Century at the Villa d'Este in Italy was smashed in the 18th Century because villagers disliked its sound. Now it's being restored. "The organ works on a principle of creating air pressure with the suction of water plunging down a pipe. The water organ was one of the marvels of the Renaissance, but when it fell into disrepair, the skills necessary to maintain it had been lost." BBC 06/30/02

THE KING OF MARKETING: Elvis is at the top of the charts all over the world right now. Why? "In part, it has a lot to do with the approach being adopted by the executors of Presley's estate and a new marketing strategy by RCA Records. The single is the first song Presley's estate has officially allowed to be remixed. Still, the idea of pre-teens warming to a singer who, were he alive, would be old enough to be their great-grandfather is kind of scary." The Age (Melbourne) 07/01/02

MAJORITY OF ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS PLAY HURT: An expert in stress injuries who has studied orchestra musicians, says that "in any orchestra performing on stage, 60 per cent (of people) will be carrying some injury. Common injuries include muscle strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, thumb strain, tendonitis and shoulder injuries." Adelaide Advertiser 07/02/02

SEIJI AT LENOX: No other orchestra in the U.S. has a summer festival that even comes close to the prestige of the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home at Tanglewood. Arguably a more beloved institution than even the BSO's glorious Symphony Hall in Boston, Tanglewood has long been a jewel in America's cultural crown. And as Seiji Ozawa wraps up his tenure as head man at the BSO, even the critics who so often clucked at his performances in Boston admit that he has done more for Tanglewood than any BSO conductor since Koussevitsky. Boston Globe 07/07/02

  • BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? Tanglewood is as much orchestral academy as musical showpiece, and it was as head of the center's summer school for young musicians and conductors that Seiji Ozawa found himself unable to get any respect. "If he wasn't present, or taking an active role in the school, he was the absentee landlord who didn't give a damn. If he was present, and throwing his weight around, he was meddling." Boston Globe 07/07/02

THE IMPERFECT MOZART: No composer is so enshrined as a monument to musical perfection as Mozart. And yet, in reality, few artists have embodied such a struggle between sniggering immaturity and highly developed genius as the beloved Wolfgang. In fact, Mozart's image has undergone multiple revisions over the centuries, with musicians and scholars portraying him as everything from a flawed and vulgar prodigy to a godlike purveyor of truth and beauty. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. The Observer (UK) 07/07/02

MERGER MANIA COMES TO UTAH: The respective boards of the Utah Symphony and the Utah Opera will vote this week on a proposal to merge the two organizations, amid much controversy about what effect the merger will have on the direction of the Salt Lake City arts community. It's not helping that the boards appear to have created a supposedly objective analysis of the merger which was in fact intentionally slanted in favor of the move, shortly after an independent ombudsman blasted the idea. Salt Lake Deseret News 07/07/02

WHERE ARE THE BLACK MUSICIANS? "Since his breakthrough as a teenage pianist 40 years ago, the virtuoso Andre Watts has, until recently, been the only high-profile African-American performer in the traditionally white world of highbrow music. Now, however, classical concerts are beginning to show more racial diversity." Christian Science Monitor 07/05/02

YOUNG JAZZ REVIVAL: Is jazz dying? Audiences might be small, but "these days, both the artists in the world of jazz and the audiences that listen to them are getting younger. Artists such as Jane Monheit, Norah Jones, and Peter Cincotti are refreshing and reshaping the world of jazz – in some cases with original material, sometimes by incorporating pop in their repertoire, and sometimes by hewing steadfastly to tradition." Christian Science Monitor 07/05/02

FALL OF THE GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY: "The main significance of the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition was its staggering loss of significance. This was, remember, an event that used to be a key Cold War indicator, measuring Kremlin tolerance of western winners and Russian losers. Winning the Tchaikovsky will mean little more to this year's crop than a medal on the mantelpiece and a dollar cheque - 30 grand for gold, 20 for silver. Privacy is no bad thing for the victors, who will lead much happier lives; but for a stressed-out music industry that relies on international competitions for identifying marketable talent, the Tchaikovsky's loss of impact is cause for near-panic." London Evening Standard 07/03/02

LEAST FAVORITE INSTRUMENT: In a survey, children rank the recorder as their least favorite instrument. "The wind instrument was the least favourite of musical instruments in a survey of 1,209 pupils carried out by Susan O'Neill of Keele University, even though it was the one played by the largest number." The Guardian (UK) 07/04/02


RAY BROWN, 75: One of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century has died. Bassist Ray Brown revolutionized his instrument's role in jazz, and was one of the creators of bebop. He played with nearly every legend of the genre and was a founding member of the Oscar Peterson Trio. He was still performing at the age of 75, and was finishing up a U.S. tour at the time of his death yesterday. Nando Times (AP) 07/03/02

PICTURING BARYSHNIKOV: A new book tells dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov life in pictures. But first he talks about a long career. "In this country, there's so much dance, so much talent, so much choice. American tradition of entertainment is very strong. We are entertainers, you know, and there's nothing wrong with that." The Plain Dealer 07/01/02

WINKING AT THE TAX MAN: Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski is being investigated for tax evasion on purchases of art he bought but for which he didn't pay sales tax, claiming that the work was being shipped out of New York. What gave him away? "Investigators had obtained a fax which listed some of the paintings that were being shipped to New Hampshire with the words 'wink wink' in parentheses, indicating that the objects were not going to New Hampshire but were instead going to Mr Kozlowski’s New York address." The Art Newspaper 06/30/02

HARVARD'S LOSS: James Cuno's departure as director of the Harvard Museums to become director of the Courtauld Institute is "certainly not glad tidings for Harvard, with its famously ambivalent attitude toward art, especially of the contemporary sort that Cuno has championed. There is fear now that the progress Cuno has made will halt or even be reversed, that his agenda - including plans for a new Renzo Piano -designed museum on the banks of the Charles - will unravel." Boston Globe 07/03/02


I, REVIEWER: Thousands of "book enthusiasts, freelance writers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals" are writing reviews of books for book sites on the internet. They don't get paid. And yet, some of them have as much influence on book sales as professional critics. Why do they write? And better yet - why do readers pay attention to them? Wired 07/01/02

NOT WRITE: B.R. Myers, who got the literary world in an uproar last year with an attack on the quality of contemporary literature, is back. His critique is being published in book form. "In A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose (Melville House), one-time Atlantic Monthly writer B.R. Myers claims that a vast conspiracy between corporate publishing houses, mediocre writers and mindless reviewers has robbed the nation of good, meaningful books." New York Post 07/01/02

BOOKS AS ART - WHAT A CONCEPT: As large publishing houses become more and more focused on selling greater numbers of mainstream books, a curious thing is happening - small publishers are taking on classics and less-commercial books and finding they can be profitable. Dalkey Archive Press has made a business for itself with books the bigger presses won't touch. "A lot of interesting things are becoming available because conglomerate publishers treat books as a commodity, not as art objects." MobyLives 07/02/02

GOING ALL LITERARY: The great literary supplements of the early 20th Century helped define intellectual life. The Times Literary Supplement was one of the best. But what happened, wonders a new book on the supplement. "The TLS's earlier pieces on fiction, poetry, and literary criticism—specifically Eliot's and Woolf's essays—are by far its most impressive achievements; but some of its more recent ones, bloated and nearly incomprehensible, undoubtedly represent the paper's nadir." The Atlantic 07/02

BORDERS TO RESTRUCTURE: Book superstore Borders has announced a restructuring of its business. "But in large part because the plan is called 'category management,' some in the book world have reacted with fear and suspicion, linking category management with such notorious general retail practices as stores selling shelf space and stocking control to suppliers, or big-box retailers dictating to suppliers. Moreover, because part of the plan involves publisher contributions to help fund consumer research and training and the institution of 'lead' publisher partners in many categories, some have concluded that the plan includes preferential payments, misuse of co-op, and larger publishers blocking smaller publishers' access to Borders's stores." Any foundation to the fears? Publishers Weekly 07/03/02


THE FUTURE OF BRITISH THEATRE: British theatre has been widely perceived to be looking into the abyss recently. The West End has struggled to maintain its position as one of the world's two most important theatre districts, the scene has been invaded by Hollywood types of dubious stage acting ability, and the Royal Shakespeare Company appears to be running around like a headless chicken. But things are not as bad as they seem, and in fact, UK theatre may be on the verge of a rennaissance. A look back at the last century of UK drama, both on and off stage, offers a view of what is to come. The Guardian (UK) 07/06/02

  • ALL THIS, AND MADONNA, TOO: "At the start of the 21st century, British theatre has never had quite so much variety and multiformity. The old divisions between West End and fringe, regional and metropolitan, text-based and visual or physical theatre, new writing houses and other theatres, indoor and outdoor, are thankfully crumbling away." The Guardian (UK) 07/06/02

ACTING JOBS DECREASED IN 2001: The number of movie and television roles for Screen Actors Guild members dropped 9.3 percent last year, with supporting actors among the hardest hit. There were 48,000 roles cast last year compared to 53,000 in 2000. Nando Times (AP) 07/02/02

THEATRE FOR ALL: Europe's first "fully inclusive" theatre company utilizes actors of whatever background and whatever physical handicap. "Most of the barriers as to what society thinks a disabled person is aren't physical. Theatre carries with it certain metaphors that relate to exclusion to underline a character, like Richard III being a hunchback the dogs bark at. That's historical, but I want to get to the point where it's unremarkable to see a disabled person on stage, and if he's a crap actor, then it's because he's a crap actor and not being judged because he's impaired in some way." Glasgow Herald 07/05/02

BOMBAY TO NEW YORK? It looks like Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams might survive its mixed reviews in London and stay around for awhile. Producers are even talking about bringing it to New York. Would it succeed? Some are skeptical. The show may work in London where there's an Indian population of about 2 million and where this summer Bollywood is being celebrated. But New York has neither to help boost ticket sales. New York Daily News 07/02/02


SELLOUT: Last month Italy passed a law that would allow the state to sell off its assets to raise money. Does this include museums and architectural heritage? The law's proponents say no. But there are nagging questions, and a few unsavory loopholes... The Art Newspaper 07/05/02

TAKE YOUR FIRST PRIZE AND... Last week Randwick, Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Arts building won Australia's top architecture award for public building. But the building's neighbors tell a different story, accusing the project of "poor design, aesthetic ignorance and political maneouvring. Randwick Council has denounced the NIDA site on Anzac Parade, Kensington, as an 'utter disgrace', claiming that the back of the building was causing problems for thousands of local residents. The height of the building had also created an overshadowing problem for residents whose backyards adjoin the site." Sydney Morning Herald 07/03/02

THE RISE OF ZAHA HADID: Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid suddenly has some very big projects coming online. Like a megaproject in Singapore named "one-north - the city lies one degree north of the equator - the vast 200-hectare site will be home to a massive science and technology quarter. Costed at £14 billion, the masterplan will change the face of Singapore, and represents the boldest bid ever made by the sparkling city to plan for the future, to outsmart the awakening dragon of China." Financial Times 07/02/02

HOME-WRECKERS: Some 1,700 historic English country houses were destroyed during the 20th Century, a shameful carnage visited upon the nation's heritage. "The 1950s and 1960s were black decades for the country house. Just under 300 houses are recorded as lost during the 1950s, although the total is certainly higher; and the 1960s tells a similar sorry tale. Fire was frequently the cause, but demolition and deliberate abandonment, often by long-established families, was another reason for their demise." The Times (UK) 07/02/02

THE NEED TO BE #1: Why is New York's Museum of Modern Art going through the pain of relocation and rebuilding itself? "For most of the 20th century, MOMA was the most energetic and ambitious museum around, and was rewarded with many of the best Cezannes, Picassos and Pollocks. Now, the ample spaces of Tate Modern make a powerful pitch for their contemporary equivalents. The new Moma will counter this, by offering its finest and most prominent floor to contemporary art." London Evening Standard 06/28/02

A MOVE AT THE RIGHT TIME: The Museum of Modern Art's temporary move out to Queens is more than a physical dislocation. "With a long-serving chairman of the board stepping down, and two of its curators gone to new jobs, this is a time of profound transition for MoMA in every sense. One of the ironies of its move to Queens is that it is there and in the borough of Brooklyn that the really interesting new art in New York is being made and shown." The Telegraph (UK) 07/03/02

OUT OF AFRICA: Where was the first art made? Archaeologists have long thought it was Europe. But a South African archaeologist is "challenging the theory that artistic culture first developed in Europe about 35,000 years ago, after people had migrated out of Africa. He has dug up evidence which, he claims, shows that such behaviour evolved over 70,000 years ago—and in Africa." The Economist 06/28/02

WHAT RIGHT'S RIGHT? Artist Rick Rush painted a picture of Tiger Woods after he won the Masters. Woods sued, claiming that he had not granted the rights for his image to be used. Now the case has become a major test of where the rights of artistic expression and celebrity licensing intersect, with major corporations, news organizations and artists all weighing in. The New York Times 07/04/02

IT'S OUR BALL, AND WE'RE STAYING HOME: All around Europe, governments have been grappling with the issue of how to protect national artistic treasures obtained in times of war and pillage against the legal assaults of families who, quite legitimately, feel that the works belong to them. An exhibit of Czech works scheduled to be shown in France has been called back by the Czech government amid talk that a claim might be placed on the works by a French family. Calgary Herald 07/06/02

TALE OF TWO MUSEUMS: A new international museum dedicated to glass art is opening in Tacoma Washington. The museum is a natural for the area, but it's competing with a new art museum being built just a block away. "Many in the arts community are wondering how the two museums ended up in a neck-and-neck rivalry for patronage and programming. Are they serving the best interests of the public? And how will they avoid the kind of competitive one-upmanship their opening exhibitions signal?" Seattle Times 07/01/02


WHY ARTISTS? Why do we hold artists to be special? "The vast majority of artists will never be famous. Many will achieve limited, parochial renown to be all but forgotten by posterity, except maybe for family members, art society types, dedicated collectors, traditionalist dealers, local or national art history chroniclers: all strictly small-time. The condition for most artists will remain relative anonymity and obscurity, but I stress the word 'relative' here: being known and respected in a local community carries its own weight, however insignificant against the wider international benchmark. But then, why dwell on artists anyway? What makes them so special compared to 'ordinary' humans?" *spark-online 07/02

FREE TO BE: The idea of "open source," as practiced by some in the software world, is spilling over into the physical world, with some new products giving away "proprietary secrets." "In a world of growing opposition to corporate power, restrictive intellectual property rights and globalisation, open source is emerging as a possible alternative, a potentially potent means of fighting back. And you're helping to test its value right now." 07/01/02

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM... Performing Arts, the program magazine handed out at 40-50 major California performance venues statewide, including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson theaters, the Hollywood Bowl, Pasadena Playhouse, and Orange County Center for the Performing Arts has folded. It was a victim of the takeover of Stagebill by Playbill last month. Theaters in New York, Chicago and other cities that used Stagebill are scrambling to decide on new program book services. "In light of the changes, representatives of performing arts venues from around the country are organizing a July 8 meeting in New York to discuss their options, including self-publishing or negotiating new contracts with other publishers." Los Angeles Times 07/02/02

NEXT, THEY'LL TRY TO BAN WINE FROM FRANCE: The Italian Futurists of the early 20th century were easily one of the most amusing philosophical movements of the last 200 years. Given to sweeping pronouncements and outlandish predictions about what the coming epoch would bring, Futurists also had a habit of calling for the destruction of beloved aspects of Italian society, such as gondolas, opera, and Venice. But their most daring attack on civil society may have been the day they tried to abolish pasta. The Telegraph (UK) 07/06/02

WE DECLARE A THUMB WAR: What happened to the culture wars? There's as much offensive culture out there as there has been. "Whatever happened to the age-old culture spaz-out that's been a staple of pop since Elvis learned to undulate in the '50s? The tango between stars and their exasperated detractors has followed a clear pattern: The artists allegedly push the boundaries of taste and the critics splutter, usually to the benefit of the artists, who get tagged as controversial, which invariably stirs sales." But nothing - despite some high-level provocations... Washington Post 07/02/02

CULTURE - AN ESSENTIAL INDUSTRY: In Korea "it has been strongly argued that the culture industry should be made a key industry of state. With regard to this, the government has considered culture technology a core technology for state development and, subsequently, published a comprehensive plan for developing skillful workers related to the culture industry. As a result, the share of the culture industry budget of the total budget of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism increased rapidly from about 3 percent in 1998 to 16 percent in 2002." Korea Herald 07/02/02

THE GREAT AMERICAN... "What is the Great American novel/play/ song/idea/movie/TV series?" Chicago Tribune critics take a whack at naming the best of the best. "Take your pick - and take cover. We like the notion of choosing a single work, from the multiplicity of created works that surround us, and anointing it as the best reflection of who and what we really are." Chicago Tribune 06/30/02

10. FOR FUN 

HOT NUMBER: Soprano Susan Chilcott was singing in Tchaikovsky's The Queen Of Spades at London's Royal Opera House when "a candle set fire to the train of her dress. Members of the audience shouted at her but Chilcott carried on with her aria, unaware of the danger. A member of staff and a fire officer then ran on stage and put out the blaze with a water extinguisher." BBC 07/02/02

(FAKE) HARRY IN CHINA: The new Harry Potter is out in China. Trouble is - it's a fake An anonymous Chinese author penned a new Potter. "While Rowling’s name appears on the cover, the book is hardly the prose style her readers have come to know and love. Characters from the real Potter books have been resurrected and new ones invented, and one reader said the plot could have been borrowed from Tolkein." The book has become a big hit. The Times (UK) 07/04/02

BLOOD SCULPTURE MELTS? Did workers at collector Charles Saatchi's house destroy an important frozen artwork by unplugging the freezer in which it was stored? "Rumours spread after suggestions that Saatchi had stored a blood sculpture made by Britart's enfant terrible, Marc Quinn, among his frozen peas. The work, Self, consists of Quinn's head cast in nine pints of his own frozen, congealed blood." The Guardian (UK) 07/04/02