Posts about “Arts” Category
L.A.-based artist Chris Cooper, a.k.a.COOP, has done hundreds of posters for bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and the Sex Pistols. He’s known best for his rockabilly style – his work is dominated by cigar-smoking devils, hot rod cars, and voluptuous vixens. Two years ago, he was in a car accident that left him with a broken leg and unable to paint for a while. So he started taking photographs and posting them on his Flickr account.(Note: There is some adult material there.)
Eventually, he was able to start painting again, but he kept taking and posting photos online, including pictures of his paintings. He would post pictures as they evolved, blogging his work, and getting lots of feedback from fans along the way.
Several of those paintings will be on display through June 20th at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City.
(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)
Images courtesy Chris Cooper, a.k.a. COOP
- May 29, 2009 2:29 PM
- Categories: Arts
Screen Actors Guild members have until June 9th to vote for or against a contract with film and primetime TV producers. 600 of them attended an information session on the contract last night in Hollywood. Actress Gabrielle Carteris of “Beverly Hills 90210” fame said Guild members should ratify the contract.
Gabrielle Carteris: It’s important for us to do this deal because it gets us back to work. I think that L.A. and Hollywood has not been working. In film, people want to be working. In TV, we want to have the rates that we think…
“Look, TV is truly the money maker still. You know, in seven years that might be different, but the truth is, right now, it is the money maker. And we needed those bumps, we’ve lost a year of bumps.”
By “bumps,” Carteris means the wage and residual increases that SAG members have missed out on because they’ve been working under the terms of a contract that expired last summer.
Screen Actors Guild members have a big decision to make – whether to ratify or reject a proposed contract with film and primetime TV producers. About 600 guild members filled a hotel ballroom in Hollywood last night for a presentation of the contract’s details.
Although he opposes the deal, SAG President Alan Rosenberg attended the meeting. He says the contract would allow the producers to make a lot of money on the Internet without paying actors enough.
Alan Rosenberg: “What they’re trying to do is change the paradigm, they’re trying to create an entirely new business model where they can only concern themselves with the people they perceive they need.
“Middle class actors like myself, background performers, stunt performers are not significant to our employers. So I’m hoping the members vote this down. I’m happy we’re going out to them, but would only be truly happy if they vote it down.”
Rosenberg was not speaking on the Guild’s behalf. The contract does establish some residuals and jurisdiction for SAG members on the Internet. Guild members have until June 9th to mail in their ballots.
The National Endowment for the Arts has named its latest crop of Jazz Masters, and composer Bill Holman of Los Angeles is on the list. KPCC’s Brian Watt has more.
Brian Watt: Bill Holman was born 72 years ago near Santa Ana. He took up the clarinet in junior high school. By high school, he was playing the tenor sax and leading his own band. He studied at the Westlake College of Music in Los Angeles after deciding he wanted to write big band music.
The National Endowment for the Arts is recognizing his unique and complex arrangements. Holman has contributed arrangements for jazz greats like Count Basie, Louie Belson, and Buddy Rich. His own Bill Holman Band has recorded three albums and won a 1995 Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition with “A View From the Side.”
Past recipients of the Jazz Masters’ honor include Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dave Brubeck. They receive a one-time grant of $25,000.
- May 21, 2009 2:20 PM
- Categories: Arts
After last summer’s successful launch, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in the Hollywood Hills has expanded its free interactive JAM sessions this season. Details from KPCC’s Hettie Lynne Hurtes.
Hettie Lynne Hurtes: At the Ford, JAM stands for Jazzed And Motivated. The program features artists who’ll guide nine different sessions for people interested in learning some performance basics. The first two meetings – “Squeeze Box 101” – focus on accordion-driven Zydeco and Cajun music and dance.
More into percussion? In July there’ll be a “Do-it-Yourself Drumming” session where you’ll discover ways to transform ordinary household items into percussive power. The summer also includes sessions on flamenco, hip hop, and bluegrass.
The free JAM sessions are Monday nights at 7, from June 1st through August 24th. You can find more information online at FordAmphitheater.org.
- May 20, 2009 3:20 PM
- Categories: Arts
Members of the Screen Actors Guild will get to vote twice. They won’t be breaking the law – today the Guild begins mailing ratification ballots for its proposed contract with film and prime-time television producers. KPCC’s Brian Watt has the story.
Brian Watt: The envelopes… please! SAG members have been working under the terms of a contract that expired last July. They’ve watched contract talks break down and pick up again. They’ve seen their chief negotiator replaced.
Few will say they’re completely satisfied with the tentative contract agreement with the producers. But 34 Guild members appear in a video on SAG’s Web site to promote its virtues. It increases pay and residuals, they say.
Ed Begley Jr.: And it gives us increased pension and health contributions. Everybody knows how important that is.
Watt: That’s Ed Begley, Jr. Actor Jason George chimes in next …
Jason George: On top of all that, this deal will finally get us paid when our film and television work is streamed at sites like Hulu.
Watt: SAG President Alan Rosenberg is not in the video. He’s with a more militant faction of Guild members that contends the deal doesn’t go far enough. They’ve vowed to fight it.
The Guild will hold an information session about the agreement in Hollywood Thursday night. Members have until June 9th to get their ballots in.
Miss California USA will continue her reign. Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump announced in New York that Carrie Prejean won’t lose her title. She’d come under fire after the Miss USA pageant broadcast for saying she was against gay marriage.
Soon after, photos of a nearly nude Prejean modeling lingerie appeared online. California pageant officials say the 21-year-old blonde beauty queen failed to tell them she’d posed for those pictures four years ago. But Trump says the photos aren’t a problem.
Donald Trump: “We have determined – and we have the absolute right under the contract – we have determined that the pictures taken are fine.”
As for Prejean’s comment against gay marriage – Trump says it was an “honorable” response that mirrored the opinion of President Obama.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military used a chemical compound known as Agent Orange to strip vegetation from the terrain. Doctors have linked Agent Orange to birth defects and other health problems.
An exhibit at UC Riverside’s California Museum of Photography explores the chemical’s effects on the people and environment of Vietnam. It’s called “Agent Orange – Landscape, Body, Image.” UCR history professor David Biggs is one of the organizers.
David Biggs: “Often when you look at art or photography that describes Agent Orange there tends to be an attraction to the sort of grotesque effects, and that really takes the spotlight away from the people living with these problems who have really triumphed. We don’t want to emphasize the grotesque.”
The Agent Orange exhibit includes films, pop art, and Vietnam War-era photographs. It’s on view through August at UC Riverside’s California Museum of Photography.
The late Dom DeLuise was a ubiquitous comic presence on TV and in the movies for decades. Entertainment Tonight film critic and historian Leonard Maltin told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that DeLuise left laughs everywhere he went.
Leonard Maltin: “He worked with Gary Moore and Carol Burnett. And then for the West Coast, he was on the Dean Martin Show. And these places gave him, you know, a platform; a place to do what he did, and also to be versatile. I mean he could sing; he could dance. He could do anything you asked him to.”
The well-rounded comedian also was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and he appeared in movies with Mel Brooks, Burt Reynolds, and the Muppets. DeLuise died at a Santa Monica hospital yesterday after a long illness. He was 75 years old.
The two actors’ unions have sent a new contract for commercials to rank-and-file members for a ratification vote. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: Members of Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists have three weeks (until May 21st) to send their ballots back. Most industry observers expect the vast majority of those members to vote “Yes.” The three-year pact includes a wage and benefit increase of more than 5 percent, and the first-ever payment structure for commercials made for the Internet and new media.
The two unions patched up a rift to negotiate the contract together with the advertising industry. But that apparent miracle became a quiet subplot to SAG’s struggles toward its own agreement with producers of film and primetime TV shows.
SAG has yet to send the film and primetime TV contract to members, but the union’s telling them to watch their mailboxes. SAG and AFTRA are holding an information session about the commercials contract in Los Angeles next Tuesday, May 12.
National and local conservationists have started their battle against the proposed demolition of the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the mid-century modern building with the elliptical facade on its annual list of endangered historic places.
Actor Diane Keaton, a trustee of the group, says the gracefully curvy hotel amid Century City’s office towers conveys the appeal of Sophia Loren in a group of tall men.
Diane Keaton: “All you have to do is just look at it. Look at that curve, OK? Look at that bend. Look at that arc. That’s sexy.”
The new owner of the hotel says he wants to tear it down and build two office and residence towers on the site. He told the Los Angeles Times that naming the hotel a historic place is not supported by the facts.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation today named the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City one of the nation’s most endangered historic places. The new owner of the hotel has announced plans to level the hotel and build two office and residential towers on the property.
The trust’s announcement doesn’t carry the force of law. But it does stir public opinion. Linda Dishman, head of the L.A. Conservancy, said she welcomes that.
Linda Dishman: “From star-studded galas to national security meetings to Pillsbury Bakeoffs, the Century Plaza has hosted it all and still does. The hotel is doing fine – there’s just no point in tearing it down.”
The mid-century modern hotel, with its distinctive curved facade, was built 43 years ago. Its architect also designed the World Trade Center towers in New York. The current owner, Michael Rosenfeld, told the Los Angeles Times that the hotel doesn’t meet the stringent requirements for historic landmark status.
KPCC has learned that nearly 100 employees of the Getty are scheduled to receive layoff notices as soon as tomorrow. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The all-staff e-mail from Getty Trust President Jim Wood says 97 employees will find out their jobs have been eliminated. About 1,500 people work at the Getty. Wood plans to answer some of their questions at two employee meetings Wednesday and Thursday, the e-mail says.
This is the second round of layoffs at the nation’s wealthiest cultural institution since Wood became president two years ago. Attendance has grown at the Brentwood campus but the stock market’s dragged the Getty’s multibillion-dollar endowment down with it. Because of that, administrators say they must cut more than $200 million from next year’s budget.
One employee said the mood is grim among employees after Wood sent the e-mail – although some are relieved they’ll know soon whether they’ll keep or lose their jobs.
Several generations of musicians and fans attended a concert last night at East Los Angeles College. Organizers were promoting a new book chronicling the history of Chicano rock and roll in Los Angeles. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Bobby Espinoza of the band El Chicano was in the audience. Their 1970 hit song “Viva Tirado” led to a concert at the Apollo Theater in New York. [“Viva Tirado”] Bobby Espinoza: Viva Tirado hit the R & B charts so they didn’t know whether we were black. They thought we were black, so when we came out on stage, we had the long hair, we were Indios to them, what’s this? Guzman-Lopez: 1980s punk rockers and younger Latino musicians also attended. Their histories are documented in the book, “Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock and Roll from Southern California.” Musicians Chris Conde and Israel Ramirez came to the show because many of those bands inspired them to start their own group. [Regime Noir music] Guzman-Lopez: Teens on the Eastside, Conde says, are hungry for good music. Chris Conde: Every time we look around these streets we see kids that are just loitering, nowhere to go. We can relate to that. Guzman-Lopez: Conde says his band failed to break into the popular Westside music clubs, so now they want to start their own club on the Eastside.
- April 24, 2009 9:55 PM
- Categories: Arts
A concert at East Los Angeles College last night reunited many musicians active in the Southland rock and roll scene during the last 40 years. Concert organizers wanted to promote a newly published edition of the book “Land of a Thousand Dances” – the first history of L.A. Chicano rock and roll. Co-author Tom Waldman says ethnicity was important to bands such as Thee Midniters and El Chicano – but most audiences don’t pay much attention to that.
Tom Waldman: “We lose sight of the fact that Chicano bands, Mexican-American bands, Latino bands, whatever term you chose perform in English a lot and have made a huge contribution to Anglo-American rock and roll and rhythm and blues, and we wanted to document that story and continue to document that story.”
The book chronicles the careers of L.A. musicians, from teen rocker Ritchie Valens – who died 50 years ago – to singer-songwriter Lysa Flores, who performed at the concert.
After three years and $91 million, the renovation of Los Angeles County’s oldest museum building is done. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The 96-year-old building in L.A.’s Exposition Park was the original home of the Natural History Museum of L.A. County. Since then, the institution’s added a much larger structure next door. But the original brick building needed a seismic retrofit.
Don Webb’s company oversaw the project. Crews stabilized the building by drilling shafts down the old walls and filling them with polymer and steel rods. Webb says that procedure revealed some hidden history.
Don Webb: As we were hollowing out those walls we found large voids that weren’t shown on the plans and weren’t readily apparent to us. And as we researched that we found that those large voids had been openings for coal chutes, because once upon a time in the early life of this building, the heating system was a coal-fired boiler. There would have had to have been places for the trucks to back up and dump the coal.
Guzman-Lopez: The Natural History Museum is preparing for new exhibitions as its centennial approaches four years from now.
- April 23, 2009 4:16 PM
- Categories: Arts
Officials at Natural History Museum of L.A. County today announced they’re done with a full-scale restoration of its historic 96-year-old original building. Museum director Jane Pisano says the $91 million project was also a seismic retrofit in preparation for new exhibitions.
Jane Pisano: “I am sure that everyone who comes here will imagine this building as it was the day it opened but also with a modern sensibility to it. Today we open our doors to show what’s happened to the building and the next time we open our doors it will be the building plus all the wonderful new exhibits that we have planned.”
Those include the Age of Mammals next year and Dinosaur Mysteries the following year. The building is next to the museum’s 1920s-era structure that houses 35 million objects from fossils to digital art and receives close to 1 million visitors a year.
- April 23, 2009 3:25 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Screen Actors Guild’s National Board approved a tentative contract agreement yesterday with film and TV producers. But KPCC’s Brian Watt says the drama will continue until SAG’s rank and file members vote.
Brian Watt: The contract would increase pay for film and primetime TV actors by 3 percent a year. It creates a payment structure for work distributed on the internet similar to the ones the other unions achieved. This contract would expire in two years – rather than the customary three years – so SAG will be able to time its next contract negotiations with those of other unions.
Only 53 percent of the Guild’s board voted to approve the contract and send it to the 120,000 SAG members for a ratification vote. The contract’s opponents – including SAG President Alan Rosenberg – say they’ll campaign against it.
The last SAG film and primetime TV contract expired 10 months ago, and the terms of the new one will not be retroactive. While the Guild has tried to hold out for a better deal and worked through internal conflicts, the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers estimated that SAG members have missed out on $67 million in pay increases.
The number of on-location film shoots in the L.A. region fell 56 percent during the first quarter, compared to the first three months of last year. The numbers come from Film L.A., the agency responsible for film permits. Film L.A. president Paul Audley says the drop in feature film shoots is directly related to runaway production
Paul Audley: “The bad news is California’s been so slow to respond to the competition from other states with sort of an old mythology that it was a captive industry and now pre-, post-production, and talented crews are available in these other states, and so they’re in direct competition.”
But Audley says that production will return if California offers the right incentives. California lawmakers recently approved tax credits for film and TV productions that will take effect in a couple years.
Meantime, on-location TV shoots in the L.A. region actually grew 76 percent during the first quarter. That’s mainly because of the Writer’s Guild strike last year, which held down production.
Forty-five years ago today, Canadian piano virtuoso Glenn Gould walked off the concert stage for the last time after his performance at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. KPCC’s classical music expert Craig Curtis described the significance of Gould’s departure to KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Glenn Gould: “He played in public, he played concerts, he played with the New York Philharmonic, he made the rounds all around the world, and everybody thought he was terrific.
“He was famous as a Bach pianist. He played lots of standard repertoire. And then all of a sudden after this concert in L.A. 45 years ago tonight, he stood up and announced that the concert experience was bankrupt and he just wasn’t going to do it anymore.”
Gould, who died 27 years ago at age 50, devoted the rest of his career to studio recordings. He predicted that the relationship between listeners and musicians would become much more direct and interactive – not unlike the music-on-demand culture that predominates today.
The annual blessing of the animals at Olvera Street near downtown Los Angeles is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Landscape designer Katherine Parra plans to take Miles, her one-and-a-half year old silver miniature poodle. From her L.A. studio Parra spoke with KPCC’s Patricia Nazario about what the blessing means to her.
Katherine Parra: “This is the design room, the drafting table, the drawing table. Back over in here, I have all my reference books. [She calls dog] Miles. Good boy.
“You know, if I’m having a bad day, Miles, he’s just come sit down next to me or lay down next to me and leans up against me, as if he could say, “I’m here. I’m supporting you. It’s OK. Pet me!”
“The value for me in having him blessed is our animals are so special to us. They love us so much. Even though he might not know what’s happening on Saturday by being blessed, to me it’s like saying this is how much I love you and how much I cherish your companionship and your time with me.
“I think the microphone reminds him of his stuff toy, so he wants to tear all the stuffing out.” [Sound of dog attacking mic]
Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony is scheduled to deliver the blessings at the 79th annual procession of animals. The 2 o’clock event will start with a cow wearing colorful flowers. It starts the parade, because tradition says that of all the animals, the cow gives the most to humanity.
If you’re an artist or an arts administrator trying to strategize your way through the recession, Los Angeles County’s offering free advice. Details from KPCC’s Hettie Lynne Hurtes.
Hettie Lynne Hurtes: The L.A. County Arts Commission is offering one of its occasional Arts Tune-Ups. Individual artists and small-budget cultural organizations can get free advice on issues including advocacy, arts education, fundraising, and marketing. Experts will be available to address each area for 25 minutes at a time. Advice- seekers may stay for one session or all day.
The Arts Tune-Up takes place on the first Saturday in May from 10 to 1 o’clock at the Senior Center in Whittier’s Parnell Park. Although it’s free, it’s a good idea to register ahead of time. For information about how, go online to LACountyArts.org/announcements.
The 79th annual Blessing of the Animals at Olvera Street near downtown Los Angeles is scheduled for tomorrow.
L.A. landscape designer Katherine Parra plans to take her one-and-a-half year old miniature poodle Miles. Parra referred to the Old Testament story of Noah to explain why she wants to honor her pet this way.
Katherine Parra: “Why were the animals saved on the ark then? What was the point if they don’t have a place? It isn’t just to serve us. It’s also for companionship. So, no, I don’t think it’s going too far at all to have your animals blessed, any animal.”
The event will start at 2 tomorrow afternoon with a parade led by a cow wearing colorful flowers. Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony is scheduled to deliver the blessings.
The dormant Los Angeles Children’s Museum may turn over its new location near Hansen Dam to the city of L.A. The museum hasn’t been open since it vacated its old space downtown almost a decade ago.
Its problems worsened last month when the federal Securities and Exchange Commission accused the project’s biggest donor, Bruce Friedman, of running a Ponzi scheme. L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that he doesn’t expect the Children’s Museum to open – ever.
Richard Alarcon: “The future of the Children’s Museum as crafted under the current organization is very dismal at best. I don’t anticipate that there will be a Children’s Museum because I believe that the fundraising has been squelched by the scandal surrounding the Friedman Family Foundation.”
Bruce Friedman pledged $10 million, and he’s already given $3 million. Now he’s asking the museum to return that money. Unless a new donor steps up, Alarcon said, the city of L.A. will take control of the facility and use it for another purpose.
After nearly nine years of negotiations, UCLA announced today it’s acquired – for an undisclosed amount – the archives of the late Los Angeles writer John Fante. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Fante’s most famous novel is “Ask the Dust,” published 70 years ago. It’s a vivid depiction of downtown L.A.’s ethnic and social mix as seen through the eyes of a young, starving writer – the sort of guy Fante was at the time.
In this and other novels Fante shed light on what L.A. was like before World War II. The books influenced L.A. writers including Charles Bukowski and screenwriter Robert Towne.
The 23 linear feet of archive material includes Fante’s old manual typewriter, a lock of his hair, and lots of heavily annotated manuscripts, says UCLA manuscripts librarian Genie Guerard.
Genie Guerard: What I think is important about that is that you can really see the creative process at work.
Guzman-Lopez: A process that’s become evanescent in the age of word processing. Guerard hopes the acquisition will renew interest in Fante.
It won’t hurt that Fante’s archive joins the papers of celebrated L.A. writers Raymond Chandler and Nathanael West at the UCLA library.
- April 7, 2009 10:45 PM
- Categories: Arts
A Los Angeles philanthropist outdid herself today. Years ago, she gave $18 million to renovate a dance space at UCLA. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says the same benefactor’s announced she’s giving $20 million for dance programs at the L.A. County Music Center.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The wealth comes from Glorya Kaufman’s late husband, the co-founder of a large home building company. She said her urgency to extend her lifelong passion for dance comes from the White House.
Glorya Kaufman: We are all experiencing loss and difficulty. However, President Obama has called upon us to do our part to help each other to sustain our institutions.
Guzman-Lopez: Music Center President Steven Roundtree thanked Kaufman. At a news conference, he added that the last six seasons of dance programs at the Music Center have been tough to pull off.
Steven Roundtree: It’s been difficult to raise the money. With Glorya Kaufman’s gift this morning, it couldn’t come at a crucial time in the history of dance and really the history of the arts in this community.
Guzman-Lopez: Fourteen-year-old Marilyn Flores also said thanks. She’s enrolled in an after school dance camp because she dreams of performing in musical theater.
Marilyn Flores: I just love singing, acting, and dancing. I’ve been doing it since I was 3 or 4 years old.
Guzman-Lopez: Glorya Kaufman’s $20 million gift will feed an endowment that’ll start to pay for dance concerts later this year.
- March 17, 2009 4:50 PM
- Categories: Arts
Screenwriter Millard Kaufman has died. He was 92 years old. Kaufman created the screenplays for “Bad Day at Black Rock” and “Take the High Ground.” Both were nominated for Academy Awards.
Kaufman also helped create the cartoon character “Mr. Magoo.” Kaufman told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” last December how he came up with the name.
Millard Kaufman: “Magoo, the name just came out of me one day from all these goofy names, which I at the time was infinitely more sensitive to than I am today, about the west coast – like Point Mugu. And so we took Mugu and changed the spelling.”
A couple of years ago, Kaufman turned from writing screenplays to novels. McSweeney’s published his first novel, “Bowl of Cherries,” two years ago when he was 90 years old.
His second book, “Misadventure,” is due out this fall. Kaufman died Saturday of heart failure.
Administrators at Getty Trust said today they plan no cuts in staff between now and May. That’s when trustees are expected to approve a 25 percent reduction at the Los Angeles-based museum, research center, and grant making institution. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The Getty Trust’s endowment has tumbled almost $2 billion in the last couple of years. Right now it totals four-and-a-half billion dollars. That still allows it, by a lot, to maintain the title of wealthiest cultural institution in the country.
But the Getty relies on the interest from its endowment to stay open. In response to the drop in that income, it’s already laid off almost 50 people. Two months ago, administrators said they would aim for a 25 percent cut in next fiscal year’s budget.
Ford Bell, President of the American Association of Museums, says most American museums are feeling the same kind of pain as the Getty.
Ford Bell: Museums I’ve talked to are making very careful choices. I mean, the Detroit Institute of Arts cut 20 percent of its staff, and that’s an outstanding museum, with a great collection, but in a difficult economic environment in Detroit.
Guzman-Lopez: There are good cuts and bad cuts, Bell says. He adds that by keeping their education and patron services healthy, museums can help ensure they’ll stick around long enough for the economy to improve.
The J. Paul Getty Trust plans to cut its budget by nearly a quarter in the coming fiscal year. The Getty relies mostly on its investment earnings to operate its two museums and pay for its non-museum operations. Like most others, the Getty’s investment portfolio has taken a hit – it’s lost one-and-a-half billion dollars since July.
American Institute of Philanthropy president Daniel Borochoff told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that the institution may have relied too heavily on investments for income.
Daniel Borochoff: “If the stock market goes down, and it’s going to happen when things are tougher to get other sources of money, it’s not good. I mean there’s government money, the city and state – of course that’s harder now – there’s getting major donations from corporations.
“There’s still wealthy people around that, had they built relationships with some wealthier people to send them money, then they would have those to come forward right now.”
Getty president James Wood told the Los Angeles Times trust officials will decide by the end of May what reductions to make. That could include cuts to temporary exhibitions. The Getty museums do plan to continue free admission.
Actor Ron Silver has died. Silver was known not only for his acting prowess, but also for changing his staunch political views. KPCC’s Steve Julian reports.
Steve Julian: Silver came to California from New York as a good fit in liberal Hollywood. But the attacks of September 11, 2001 changed his thinking. Silver became what he called a “9/11 Republican,” supporting then-president Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That support, he said, cost him work. But in 1988, Silver won a Tony Award for playing a take-no-prisoners Hollywood producer in David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow.” He also earned an Emmy nomination for playing a strategist for President Jed Bartlet on “The West Wing.”
Silver’s movie credits include Ali, Reversal of Fortune, and Silkwood. He and his ex-wife Lynne had two children – his family was at his side in New York when he died at age 62 of esophageal cancer.
Actor Ron Silver has died. Silver won a Tony award on Broadway and most recently held a recurring role on TV’s “The West Wing.” KPCC’s Steve Julian reports.
Steve Julian: Silver won an Emmy nomination for his role as a slick strategist for liberal president Jed Bartlet. Away from television, Silver had been a liberal Democrat until 9/11. He turned heads with his outspoken support of then-president Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That switch, Silver says, cost him work in a Hollywood he described as “not very pluralistic.” The work returned though, with appearances on “Law & Order” and “Crossing Jordan,” along with the movies “Find Me Guilty” and “The Ten.”
In 1988, Ron Silver won a Tony for his portrayal as a Hollywood producer in David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow.” He also earned a master’s degree in Chinese history. Ron Silver suffered from esophageal cancer and was 62 when he died with his family around him.
Each week seems to deliver more dismal headlines about the shrinking coverage, staffs, and influence of the newspaper industry.
Thirty-one-year-old aerospace purchaser Amira Minasian says she doesn’t read newspapers. But she admits she’d miss them if they disappeared.
Amira Minasian: “That personal feel. That’s strange, right? I mean, I would. I know my dad reads it and my mom reads it. It’s been around forever. Yeah, that would be weird. It would make me feel kinda sick, because I know we’re going towards a technology world. But, it’s so impersonal. So, I feel like having the newspaper gives us that personal feel.”
Minasian was born in Lebanon and reared in Montebello. She says she gets most of her news from television or the Internet.
It used to be a daily routine, like savoring breakfast and a cup of coffee. But more and more, reading the newspaper is an activity for leisure time… or for older people with lots of time on their hands.
Sixty-eight-year-old Hannah Adler says she’s a longtime subscriber to the Los Angeles Daily News. She still browses it every day, starting with the front page.
Hannah Adler: “Then I look at, sorry, but I look at the people that died, just in case somebody I know died, because at our age it’s already. Then I like horoscope. Sometimes I look for the movies.”
Adler was born in Prague. Now she lives in Granada Hills. She used to own her own business, and she also helped to manage the foreclosure department at Great Western Bank before she retired four years ago.
Formal contract talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers broke down again about two weeks ago. KPCC’s Brian Watt says informal talks might be bringing the two sides closer together.
Brian Watt: Guild members have been working without a contract in film and prime time TV for eight months.
The Guild’s national board rejected the producers’ most recent contract offer last month because of a dispute over how long that contract would last.
A day and a half later, the Guild’s leaders and negotiators had to get to New York for another set of talks: the commercials contract expires at the end of the month.
This week, SAG has a break from the commercial break. The more moderate faction that holds a slim majority on SAG’s board says negotiators can now focus on the stalemate with film and TV producers. Variety reports back-channel talks between the two sides should continue this week.
SAG hardliners want the board to send the producers’ last, best, and final contract offer to all SAG members… so they can reject it. The hardliners are also ready for a full membership vote on whether to authorize a strike. So far, the moderates have decided against both. Stay tuned.
Newspaper publisher McClatchy Company today announced its third and most severe plan to cut jobs among its 80 newspapers. KPCC’s Steve Julian says McClatchy’s holdings include five daily papers in California, including the Sacramento Bee.
Steve Julian: McClatchy hopes to save as much as $110 million by cutting positions at its 30 daily and 50 non-daily newspapers. In 2006, McClatchy bought the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, but that left McClatchy more than $2 billion in debt at the end of last year.
Ad revenue is down throughout the industry. McClatchy’s chairman Gary Pruitt said he’ll eliminate 1600 jobs, or 15 percent of McClatchy’s workforce. This round of cuts will begin by the end of the first quarter, and include just about every part of the business.
The cuts will come through attrition, consolidation, and outsourcing some functions. Pruitt and other executives will cut their salaries by 10 percent and no bonuses will go out to executives this year.
McClatchy also owns direct mail and direct marketing operations.
A new downtown L.A. museum is closing to the general public. The Sports Museum of Los Angeles has only been open about three months. Its founder, Gary Cypres, says it just wasn’t attracting enough people.
Gary Cypres: “If you had to point to one thing, it would be most people don’t even know it’s here. And so you’re confronted with this situation of, economically, do you want to spend the money in this environment to try and promote it? And is this the best time to try to do that?”
Cypres acknowledged he didn’t spend any money to promote the museum at Main and Washington Streets. He also says he subsidized the entire operation, and didn’t rely on outside funding.
The museum displays items that span the history of baseball, football, and other sports. Its collection includes the Honus Wagner baseball card, known as the “Holy Grail” of baseball card collecting.
Cypres says he’ll continue to open the museum for charity events and group tours, and that other visitors may “piggyback” onto those tours.
Newspaper publisher McClatchy Company said today it plans to eliminate 1600 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more.
Steve Julian: McClatchy faces plunging ad revenues plaguing the entire publishing sector. It’s also trying to recover more than $5 million owed by newspapers it had sold to companies that have recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. McClatchy owed just over $2 billion at the end of 2008, stemming from its acquisition two years previously of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain.
McClatchy has 30 daily newspapers, mostly in the West and the South. One of those papers, the Sacramento Bee, announced plans last week to cut more than 10 percent of its union positions in the editorial and advertising departments. The Bee cut 86 jobs in June; its publisher and board members decided to forgo 2008 and 2009 bonuses.
Newspaper editor Jim Bellows died today in Santa Monica after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86. Bellows made a career out of reviving failing newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. KPCC’s Nick Roman has more on one of the country’s great newspapermen.
Nick Roman: Jim Bellows wasn’t like his name. Tom Wolfe, one of his many talented reporters, described the Bellows’ voice as “whispery.” Bellows told PBS that instead of commanding reporters, he’d say, “I need your help.” Of course he did. He worked for second-bananas: The New York Herald-Tribune and the Washington Star, not the bigger papers. Out here, Bellows made a splash with the old Herald-Examiner.
He told Charlie Rose on PBS about his best L.A. stories. One was the LAPD shooting of Eula Love, a black woman shot and killed by police who’d come to collect a utility bill. Bellows understood how that would play in a city uneasy about race and often unsure about the LAPD. He ordered daily front page updates.
But newspapers need to laugh as well as scream… so when a hippo escaped from Lion Country Safari, Bellows played up that, too. Invest a quarter in a Jim Bellows newspaper, and you got more than your money’s worth.
- March 6, 2009 5:30 PM
- Categories: Arts
When health maintenance organization pioneer Robert Gumbiner died a month and a half ago, officials at Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art predicted that the institution would become his legacy. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says they were right on the money.
Cheryl Devall: Right… to the tune of $25 million. Gumbiner founded the museum a dozen years ago to display the art he’d collected during his travels through Central and South America. He wanted to make sure that, unlike other struggling cultural institutions, the Museum of Latin American Art would endure.
Gumbiner’s bequest establishes an endowment, and some ground rules for its use. The museum can only use proceeds from the interest the money earns, and it must re-invest 10 percent of that interest in the endowment.
Museum officials say they’ll have to still raise money so they can cover the rest of their operating expenses. But this bequest, and another that Gumbiner’s promised, will create a bit more of a cushion than many Southland museums enjoy these days.
- March 5, 2009 6:25 PM
- Categories: Arts
A few dozen members of the Screen Actors Guild picketed today outside the Fox Studios lot in West Los Angeles. KPCC’s Brian Watt says the actors are worried about playing a smaller role on the Web than on the tube.
Brian Watt: The actors chose the Fox lot because of recent remarks by network executive Peter Chernin. He told an interviewer that Fox’s online streaming venture with NBC, HULU.com, doesn’t aim to replace television, but to replace reruns.
For union actors, reruns mean residual payments. One marcher carried a sign that read: “Residuals are the Actor’s Life Blood.” Actor Reese Golchin says studios like Fox are claiming uncertainty about how much potential profit the Internet holds so they can avoid paying actors their share.
Reese Golchin: As actors, we’ve been down that road before. We were there with home video. We were there with DVD sales. And what we’re saying is, there’s no need to exclude us from trying to figure out what the new paradigm is.
Watt: Fox Studios offered no comment. A spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers says all studios want re-runs to perform well. But fewer viewers want to watch them on television.
The actors who marched outside Fox were also protesting the last contract offer the producers’ alliance made to the Screen Actors Guild. SAG actors have been working in film and prime time television without a contract since last summer.
For many screen actors, residual payments from re-runs of their past work are an important source of income. Fox executive Peter Chernin recently told an interviewer that he sees online TV venture Hulu.com as a replacement for re-runs. So a few dozen members of the Screen Actors Guild protested his remarks today outside the Fox studio lot in West Los Angeles. Actor Sally Kirkland was among them.
Sally Kirkland: “I’ve been getting residuals since the early ’60s, and that’s what’s kept me going for 45 years or more, and so I’m lucky. But all of the people, the kids coming up, they don’t have a chance. So I just ask the CEOs to think humanly about young people, and us people, and everybody that is just trying to stay in the business and just have a living.”
Fox Studios offered no comment. A spokesman for the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers said that all producers want re-runs to make money, but that fewer viewers are watching them on television.
Kirkland and the other actors who marched also described the latest contract offer from the producers’ alliance to the Screen Actors Guild as unfair, especially in the category of Internet residuals.
A comedy, a concert flick, and a movie about an impossible dream come true ruled the box office this weekend. Details from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail” was number one for the second week in a row, earning an estimated 16-and-a-half million in ticket sales. It even beat out “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience,” which opened in second place with 12.7 million.
That was the second biggest debut ever for a concert movie after last year’s “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.”
More people went to see “Slumdog Millionaire” after it won those eight Oscars – it made more than 12 million, bumping it up from 5th to 3rd place. That’s the best post-Academy Awards weekend for a best picture winner in 10 years.
Rounding out the top five – Taken was in fourth with almost 10 million followed by “He’s Just Not That Into You.”
Everybody’s got to go there, but many of us don’t want to think about it. That’s one reason the New York Times’ health columnist has written “Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond.”
Brody told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that although the circumstances of each person’s death may vary, age or illness can prompt similar thoughts in most people.
Jane Brody: “They know themselves that they’re closer to death, and yet they’re not able to say what is really bothering, what they really want to leave behind as a legacy.
“What they want to say to family members from whom they might have been a little estranged or perhaps committed some error of omission or commission that they want to correct before they leave this planet.”
Brody calls her book a practical primer on how we can prepare – medically, legally, and emotionally – for the inevitable.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright had begun to build his creative reputation beyond Oak Park, Illinois where he lived with his first wife, novelist T.C. Boyle told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
T.C. Boyle: “But in 1909, he left her behind with the six children and a $900 grocery bill to run off to Europe with the wife of one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who left her husband and two children behind. And by God, the press had a field day with this.”
Boyle – who lives in a house Wright designed – re-imagines the architect’s relationships with successive wives and lovers in a new novel, “The Women.”
The president of the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers has one month left on the job. Nick Counter is retiring after 27 years in the position. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: Nick Counter could be considered a founder of the producers’ alliance – or AMPTP. Counter worked 10 years as outside legal counsel for the Association of Motion Picture and TV Producers. In 1982, the Association became an Alliance, and Counter became president on day one.
The AMPTP represents studios, broadcast networks, some cable networks, and independent producers in their contract talks with almost all of Hollywood’s guilds and unions. In a town where deal making is key, Counter has been the chief negotiator for his side on more than 300 big ones.
Whether he can cut one more with the fractured Screen Actors Guild before his retirement remains to be seen. Counter – who’s 68 years old – is set to step down at the end of March. But SAG still won’t be rid of him then. He’ll continue as a consultant to the AMPTP for the next five years.
Some high-profile DJs and hip-hop artists are planning a good time tonight for a good cause. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has more on the Hollywood party and shoe drive that’ll benefit Soles4Souls.
Patricia Nazario: Los Angeles organizers have asked party goers to bring a new or gently worn pair of shoes to the door of the event at Element Hollywood. The venue is a couple of blocks east of the Kodak Theater.
It’s one of L.A.’s hottest 18-and-over clubs. The DJ will probably spin hip hop, classic soul, and funk. Everyone on the celebrity roster is donating time to the charitable event.
Soles4Souls is a global non-profit. The mission statement on its Web site is simple – the organization wants to affect as many lives as possible with the gift of shoes. The site says Soles4Souls is working in over 45 states and 61 countries where local agencies have said there’s a great need.
You don’t have to get your groove on to donate your kicks. Go online to Soles4Souls.org and type in your zip code to find a drop-off location in your ‘hood.
NewsCorp president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin will mark 20 years with the media conglomerate next week. But he won’t renew his contract when it expires in a few months. Chernin has headed NewsCorp’s 20th Century Fox and the Fox Broadcasting network. NewsCorp chief Rupert Murdoch called his contributions “immeasurable.”
Alex Ben Block is editor-at-large of the Hollywood Reporter. He says Hollywood will miss the way Chernin used his clout to break through labor disputes.
Alex Ben Block: Someone new is gonna be there, and whoever it is, they’re not gonna have the same gravitas, the same confidence and respect, to be able to deal with all the other players here, the other companies, as well as the unions and guilds. So this is a negative for Hollywood, a negative for NewsCorp. Chernin leaving is a big deal, and it really shakes Hollywood to its roots.
The news about Chernin’s departure follows a day after “Slumdog Millionaire” – the first Fox Searchlight film to win a Best Picture Oscar – swept the Academy Awards with eight trophies.
Most moviegoers were in the mood for a comedy this weekend. Details from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: Tyler Perry’s “Medea Goes to Jail” led the box office, making an estimated 41 million in its opening weekend. That’s the best opening ever for a Lionsgate film and for the once-homeless Perry who dresses in drag to play the feisty, gun-toting granny, Madea.
In second place – Liam Neeson’s kidnap thriller “Taken” earned more than 11 million.
The stop-motion animated film “coraline” rose to number 3 with $11 million, and in 4th place, “He’s Just Not That Into You” earned 8-and-a-half million.
Oscar frontrunner “Slumdog Millionaire” pulled in more than 8 million in sales to rank number five at the box office before winning 8 of the 10 categories it was nominated for at the Oscars – including the Best Picture. Who doesn’t love to see the underdog win?
The producers of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony promised a different kind of show. The staging reflected that difference. As they introduced the awards, last night’s presenters tried to de-mystify the filmmaking process.
Current James Bond Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex and the City” strode through what looked to be the open door of a soundstage decked out with random props to introduce the award for art direction and one other.
Sarah Jessica Parker: “We don’t have to tell you what the make up artist does.”
Daniel Craig: “Just look at us.”
The makeup and art direction Oscars, by the way, went to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” It also won for visual effects – and failed to score in 10 other categories for which it was nominated. Last night’s Oscar show incorporated film clips and stars from box office hits that didn’t win any nominations this year, including “High School Musical,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Pineapple Express.”
- February 23, 2009 12:11 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Best Supporting Actor Oscar – as many critics and fans expected – went to the late Heath Ledger for his maniacal turn as the Joker in the Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight.”
The family of the 28-year-old Australian actor – who died a year to the day before the nominations were announced – accepted on his behalf. After his mother and father, Ledger’s sister Kate spoke to the audience – and to her late brother.
Kate Ledger: Heath, we both knew what you had created in the Joker was extraordinarily special and had even talked about being here on this very special day. We really wish you were, but we proudly accept the award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda.”
Matilda is Heath Ledger’s 3-year-old daughter with actress Michelle Williams. The golden statuette will be held in trust for the little girl until she turns 18.
The motion picture academy has awarded only two posthumous Oscars. The other went to Peter Finch, who died after his nomination for “Network” in 1976.
- February 23, 2009 12:08 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Best Original Screenplay award went to “Milk.” Its writer, Dustin Lance Black, referred to his Mormon childhood – and to recent political history – as he accepted his Oscar for the story of the gay San Francisco supervisor killed just over 30 years ago.
Dustin Lance Black: “When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.”
Black went on to pledge to young gays and lesbians that they would soon enjoy equal rights across this great country. Sean Penn, who won the Best Actor award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk, also spoke from the stage against the voter-approved measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
- February 23, 2009 12:05 PM
- Categories: Arts
For the major awards, the producers of last night’s Oscar ceremony arrayed multiple previous winners. In the Best Actress category, honorees Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, Shirley MacLaine, Halle Berry, and Nicole Kidman appeared on stage.
Each one addressed one of the nominees with praise for her nominated performance. The woman who joined their ranks last night was Kate Winslet. She accepted the Academy Award for her role in “The Reader” – and hugs from her predecessors.
Kate Winslet: “I’d be lying if I haven’t made a version of this speech. Before, I think I was probably 8 years old and staring into the bathroom mirror, and this would have been a shampoo bottle. Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now.”
Winslet had been nominated for five previous Oscars without having won. She saluted the other actresses in her category – Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Melissa Leo, and Angelina Jolie – as “goddesses.”
- February 23, 2009 12:02 PM
- Categories: Arts
The biggest surprise of last night’s Academy Awards ceremony was Sean Penn’s win for his role as a pioneering gay politician in “Milk.” That performance upset Mickey Rourke’s widely-praised comeback in “The Wrestler.” Less surprising was the political nature of Penn’s acceptance speech.
Sean Penn: “I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against same sex marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support – we’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”
Penn noted that demonstrators outside Hollywood’s Kodak Theater last night protested the nominations for “Milk.” The story of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, assassinated just over 30 years ago, also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
- February 23, 2009 12:00 PM
- Categories: Arts
The runaway winner at last night’s Academy Awards was “Slumdog Millionaire” – the Hollywood-Bollywood mashup that almost went straight to video after most American studios refused to distribute it. Like its hero, the film came from nowhere to capture the Oscar for Best Picture.
Director Danny Boyle praised his cast of unknowns, his international crew, and the turbulent Indian city that was the setting for the film.
Danny Boyle: “To Mumbai, unending, inseparable, and borne, all of you who helped us make the film and all of those of you who didn’t – thank you so much. You dwarf even this guy. Thank you so much indeed.”
“Slumdog Millionaire” won 8 of the 10 categories in which it was nominated. The movie has generated some controversy in Mumbai, where protesters have denounced its graphic depiction of the city’s poorest areas as “poverty porn.”
- February 23, 2009 11:57 AM
- Categories: Arts
The City of Los Angeles has announced its annual fellowship awards to fifteen mid-career artists. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says that for some of those recognized, the money that accompanies the award couldn’t arrive at a better time.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Each fellowship comes with a $10,000 grant to create new work. The recipients include a visual artist who’s created art installations from paper and hair, a post-modern dance professor at UCLA, an Iranian American percussionist, and a video artist who documents social and political changes around the world. All 15 artists are based in L.A.
Department of Cultural Affairs chief Olga Garay said the fellows’ innovative work allows L.A. to claim it’s one of the most vibrant creative economies in the world.
An exhibition of the visual artists’ work opens in May at L.A.’s Municipal Art Gallery in East Hollywood. In June, the writers and performers awarded fellowships will showcase their talents during a performance at California Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles.
- February 20, 2009 5:48 PM
- Categories: Arts
Just before the Academy Awards, the feds have indicted three Southern Californians for movie piracy. KPCC’s Brian Watt says two of the cases involve films nominated for Oscars.
Brian Watt: The crime is called “uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution.” It carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and at least $250,000 in fines.
A federal grand jury indicted Owen Moody of San Marcos, alleging he’d uploaded a copy of “Slumdog Millionaire” to a Web site called “thepiratebay.org.”
The grand jury charged Derek Hawthorne of Moorpark with uploading the films “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Australia” to Web sites where visitors could download them to their own computers.
Authorities arrested Jack Yates of Porter Ranch last week in another case. Yates allegedly copied a screener of Mike Myers’ comedy “The Love Guru” before Paramount Pictures was set release it last June. The government contends that he distributed the copy to others and it wound up on the Internet before the release date.
A federal appeals court has struck down a state law that bans the sale of violent video games to minors. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law a little more than three years ago, the video game industry fired back with legal challenges. So, the law never took effect.
It would have prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to anyone under 18. It also mandated strict labeling requirements for video game makers.
The video game industry argued that California’s law could open the door for other states to limit minors’ access to other material under the guise of protecting children. A lower court – and the federal appeals court – sided with the industry. The latest decision said there are less restrictive ways to protect children that include the industry’s current voluntary rating system.
The Democratic state senator from San Francisco who wrote the law is also a child psychologist. He wants state attorney general Jerry Brown to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A couple visiting Los Angeles from London is on a singular mission: to spot as many stars as they can during Sunday’s Academy Awards in Hollywood. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has more on how they landed a birds-eye view of the red carpet right across the street from the Kodak Theater.
Patricia Nazario: I ran into LeAnn Miles and her fiancé David Stetney at a bus tour company on the strip. It’s just a few doors down from the Hollywood International Hostel. He’d stayed there a few years ago to stargaze during the Oscars and loved it so much, LeAnn Miles says they wanted to come back and try it again.
LeAnn Miles: We didn’t get the room we wanted and the prices were slightly more expensive than we expected. But, you expect that this time of year, don’t you?
Nazario: Can you show me out here where your hostel is? So, it’s right here at the corner.
Miles: Yep, it’s right here on the corner.
Nazario: So, where’s your room?
Miles: Well, our room’s at the back, unfortunately. But you can see out of the front here. It’s a common room and it’s got open windows.
Nazario: And, so it’ll be a little Oscar party on Sunday? So, who are some of your favorite stars that you’re hoping to see?
Miles: Well, I’m hoping to see Hugh Jackman, because he is delicious. And, hopefully, other young gorgeous men. I don’t mind who. I’m not fussy.
Nazario: So, what are you gonna tell your friends when you get back home?
Miles: They’re gonna be jealous no matter what I tell them. (laughing) I might have to make up some stories. But we are gonna take the camera and the video camera and hopefully get some stars on that.
Note: Hugh Jackman is the Australian actor who’s hosting the Oscars this year. Hollywood Boulevard and several streets surrounding the Kodak Theater will be closed to traffic on Sunday for security reasons. More details – about traffic and the awards show – are online at Oscars.org.
- February 20, 2009 3:48 PM
- Categories: Arts
Oscar preparations along Hollywood Boulevard are complicating commutes for people who have to get around giant outdoor tents, stages, and TV camera positions.
Donna Cicatelli is the head makeup artist for the Jimmy Kimmel show on ABC. She told KPCC’s Patricia Nazario that the show tapes next door to Disney’s El Capitan Theatre – across the street from the Kodak Theater where the Oscar ceremony takes place Sunday night.
Donna Cicatelli: “And we have a show right after the Oscars, so we’re actually working as the Oscars are going on.”
Patricia Nazario: “So what does this do to your commute time to get to work?”
Cicatelli: “Twenty-five minutes. Just from the freeway off-ramp down here takes an additional 20 minutes. Yeah, it’s quite a bit.”
Cicatelli commutes on the 101 Freeway from Woodland Hills to Hollywood to get to work.
Many streets and sidewalks around Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue will close during the weekend to secure Sunday night’s red carpet gala.
Contract talks broke down last night between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers. KPCC’s Brian Watt says the producers made an offer, but SAG’s new negotiating team wasn’t ready to accept it. Brian Watt: Hollywood already had a screenplay for these talks – the producers alliance would offer a few “concessions” to make SAG’s new negotiators look tough but productive, and they’d reach a tentative deal.
Both sides were following the script when a new conflict arose over how long the next contract should last. The producers alliance says three years from the date it’s ratified – SAG’s team says July of 2011. That’s three years from when the last contract expired – and a lot closer to the expiration dates of other Hollywood labor contracts.
Jesse Hiestand: We just don’t think that makes any sense for the industry because you’re basically inviting a situation where you’d have constant labor turmoil.
Watt: That’s Jesse Hiestand, spokesman for the producers’ alliance.
Hiestand: Also, it just economically makes no sense to give them three years of gains in what amounts to a two-year contract.
Watt: Hiestand says the producers have included a compromise on that sticking point in what they call their “last, best, and final offer.” SAG hasn’t commented yet. Its national board of directors meets tomorrow.
Film and television producers have presented what they’re calling their “last, best, and final” contract offer to the Screen Actors Guild. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers presented the offer yesterday as the two sides broke off talks.
Jesse Hiestand is with the producers’ alliance. He told KPCC that a sticking point in talks is when the contract should end.
Jesse Hiestand: “The producers set out last April to negotiate a three-year deal. That’s the industry standard and that’s, and that’s what we negotiated with the five other unions and guilds over the last year.
“SAG is saying because they haven’t made a deal for eight months – that they want a deal that would last a little over two years. And we just don’t think that makes any sense for the industry because you’re basically inviting a situation where you’d have constant labor turmoil.”
Hiestand says producers have offered a compromise to the problem – but so far, SAG has rejected it.
The Screen Actors Guild has not returned calls to comment on the contract offer. The union’s board is scheduled to meet tomorrow. The offer will stay on the table for 60 days.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers finished a third day of contract talks yesterday. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: A negotiations insider says that the tone of the talks has been much less confrontational than during last year’s bargaining session. Then, the Guild had chief negotiator Doug Allen – and a harder-edged negotiating committee at the table.
A group of moderates on SAG’s national board of directors has ousted Allen and replaced the committee with a negotiations “task force.”
The board is scheduled to meet tomorrow in a videoconference. The agenda isn’t public, but many industry observers figure it’ll be a strategy session on talks with the producers’ alliance. The board has delayed a planned strike authorization vote, but it hasn’t taken that option completely off the table.
SAG’s board also has another set of negotiations to think about – talks for a new commercials contract begin on Monday.
The Walt Disney Company has announced it’s restructuring – a move that will lead to layoffs. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more.
Steve Julian: Last month, Disney offered voluntary buyout packages to about 600 executives in the parks division. Now, the company, which is based in Burbank, said it will layoff an unspecified number of workers in the wake of declines in attendance and revenue.
Parks and resorts revenue fell 4 percent in the final quarter of 2008, and attendance dropped 5 percent at its Walt Disney World and Disneyland parks in Florida and California.
Global business and real estate development will be combined under a new team led by Executive Vice President Nick Franklin. Engineering and design teams will be merged into a single unit. The changes take effect immediately.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are back in contract talks for the first time since last November. Since then, there’s been some internal turmoil at the Guild. A group of moderates has grabbed a slim majority on the national board.
They’ve put off plans for a strike authorization vote, replaced SAG’s national executive director and chief negotiator, and retooled its negotiating committee. Jay Fernandez of the Hollywood Reporter says those maneuvers strengthen the hand of the producers alliance – or AMPTP – at the bargaining table.
Jay Fernandez: “My intuition is that the AMPTP will throw some slight gains their way to sort of close the deal, get it done, nail it down – and to sort of stick it to the hardline faction at SAG that was rattling their sabers for a strike.”
Contract talks are scheduled to continue through tomorrow. SAG actors have been working in film and primetime television without a contract since July.
It’s not often you hear about a business turning down money, especially now. But that’s what a local Fox TV affiliate did when an AIDS advocacy group tried to place a 30-second spot promoting condom use on Sunday’s episode of “The Family Guy.”
Michael Weinstein with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation says Fox-11 turned away his media buyer because its parent network doesn’t allow condom advertising during prime time.
Michael Weinstein: “We wanted to point out the most glaring example of hypocrisy. They won’t run a condom ad, but they will have very offensive content that demeans women, and that really sends the wrong messages to young people. The right message is, ‘if you’re going to be sexual, use a condom.’”
“The Family Guy” is a popular animated cartoon series. The watchdog group Parents Television Council gives it a Red rating for its sexual themes and language.
LINK: The Family Guy
If the Department of Justice approves the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the new company will combine the world’s top ticket seller with the world’s dominant concert promoter.
Marc Schildkraut is a mergers specialist at the Howrey law firm in Washington. He spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” about the Justice Department’s investigation.
Marc Schildkraut: “The DOJ is going to go out and get everyone’s opinion, it’s going look to everyone in the industry to try and find out whatever they can find out about the deal. They’re going to be, probably will be getting ten of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, sometime even millions of documents from the companies.”
The Department of Justice investigation into the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger will likely last several months.
As the Justice Department begins its investigation into the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, some members of congress are actively lobbying against the deal.
The merger would combine the world’s top ticket seller with the world’s top concert promoter. One of those loudly opposing the proposal is Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey.
Bill Pascrell: “We’re talking about a $21 billion industry, so I understand why they would want to control the whole caboodle. They want to control the actors, they want to control the music, they want to control the management, they want to control the world’s top acts.”
Pascrell spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” The Justice Department’s investigation of the proposed Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger could take several months.
Ticketmaster and Live Nation are hoping the Justice Department approves their merger. But some in Congress are vowing to fight the consolidation of the world’s biggest ticket seller with the world’s biggest concert promoter.
Congressman Bill Pascrell is a Democrat from New Jersey. He’s been leading the charge against the merger.
Bill Pascrell: “People just want a little entertainment, they don’t want to be ripped off, they don’t want to be bogged down by the anxiety about how much this is going to cost. They want to know what it’s going to be before they go into the situation. This is illegal scalping, there’s no two ways about it.”
Pascrell spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” If the government approves the merger, Ticketmaster and Live Nation could control 80 percent of the $21 billion ticket sales market.
The world’s biggest ticketing service and the world’s biggest concert promoter are joining forces. Ticketmaster and concert promoter Live Nation announced this morning that they’ll merge into a new company called Live Nation Entertainment.
Business analyst Mark Lacter told KPCC’s Steve Julian that the merger will likely require a long review process, because the new company would take on a dominant role in the concert business.
Mark Lacter: “The Obama administration will clearly take a close look at this merger. Also, don’t be surprised if smaller competitors try challenging the deal in court. Whatever happens, Steve, it’s going to be a long time before this is resolved one way or another.”
Ticketmaster’s chairman says the deal will give audiences more live entertainment options.
Musician Bruce Springsteen is among the deal’s critics. He posted a statement on his Web site claiming the new company could exercise a near-monopoly on music ticket sales.
The big transition from analog to digital television was supposed to be complete next week. But Congress has voted to delay the deadline until June. That gave millions of households not yet ready for the switch four more months to buy new televisions, subscribe to cable or satellite TV, or buy digital-to-analog converter boxes.
Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is touring the Southland to ask churches and neighborhood groups for help with preparing in more households for digital TV.
Jonathan Adelstein: “The government does not have in place a field operation to make sure that people that can’t do this for themselves have help in their homes if they need it.
“Not everybody wants a stranger coming into their home. They trust members of their congregation, and that’s a particularly good source of help for those that need it.”
Adelstein spoke with pastors at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in South Los Angeles, and to more than 100 people at the West Covina Senior Center. He said Los Angeles is home to more over-the-air TV watchers – that is, viewers without cable or satellite – than any other city in the country.
The legal back-and-forth continues over the rights to a ubiquitous image of the new president. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the L.A.-based artist behind the Barack Obama “Hope” poster is suing the distributor of the photo on which it’s based.
Shepard Fairey: That’s because the Associated Press wants credit and compensation from artist Shepard Fairey for the image that became a touchstone for the Obama presidential campaign. Fairey argues that he worked with the shot by AP photographer Mannie Garcia under fair use guidelines that don’t violate the news cooperative’s copyrights.
The lawsuit in a New York federal court also seeks to prevent the AP from using its copyrights against Fairey or anyone in possession of the poster. In theory, that would include the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., where an original of the red-white-and-blue graphic has been on display since inauguration week.
The new court complaint isn’t the 38-year-old artist’s only dance with the law. On Saturday, Boston police arrested Fairey – who started his street art career pasting up posters under cover of night – on two outstanding warrants related to graffiti tagging. Police released him a few hours after his arrest.
Former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss were the top winners at last night’s Grammy Awards. The duo won five Grammys including Album of the Year for their album “Raising Sand.”
Rolling Stone senior editor Michael Endelman says that didn’t surprise him.
Michael Endelman: “I mean it’s a great record and it’s sold well, but it’s also clear that the Grammy voters are still very, you know, sort of have a boomer-rock bias, and that win, if there’s something that’s got a prestige project like that with Robert Plant and T-Bone Burnett nominated, then it’s going to win.”
Burnett produced the genre-bending duets album. Krauss already was the leading female winner in the history of the Grammys. She’s won 26 in her career.
Song of the Year went to Coldplay for “Viva La Vida”; Jennifer Hudson won Best R&B album; and Randy Brecker’s “Randy in Brasil” was awarded Contemporary Jazz Album.
- February 9, 2009 12:55 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Recording Academy hands out Grammy Awards Sunday. Singer-songwriter Ne-Yo could lay claim to six of them. He took home one last year for Best Contemporary R-and-B Album. At a career day last week at USC, he spoke to students from local high schools and his own alma mater in Las Vegas.
Ne-Yo: “The nomination alone is an honor, you know what I’m saying? That’s basically saying, of everything that happened in that year, you were in the top five, so, um, it’s above and beyond an honor, you know. And then to actually win a Grammy, like, I’m a songwriter and I’m supposed to be good with words, but I can’t even put it into words what it is, what that feels like.”
In the “Album of the Year” category, Ne-Yo’s “Year of the Gentleman” is competing against albums by Coldplay, Lil Wayne, Radiohead, and Robert Plant and Alison Kraus.
- February 6, 2009 7:07 PM
- Categories: Arts
The recording industry presents the 51st annual Grammy Awards Sunday at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. More than 100 categories are up for grabs.
Music producer Jimmy Jam says all that variety sets this show apart. He’s won his fair share of Grammys. At a Career Day for high school students last week, he explained that the Grammys recognize more than performing artists.
Jimmy Jam: “I couldn’t get an American Music Award. I couldn’t get an MTV award. But I can get a Grammy as a songwriter and as a producer. So all of you that want to be songwriters, and producers, and engineers, and all the other great things that you can do in the music business, the Grammys is an organization and a show that will reward you for your hard work.”
Jimmy Jam chairs the Recording Academy’s Board of Trustees.
- February 6, 2009 6:49 PM
- Categories: Arts
For 14 years, animators have gathered to remember colleagues who’ve died in the previous year. This year’s wake happens Saturday in Hollywood, and everyone’s invited to attend.
Organizer Tom Sito says the event remembers famous and the obscure with equal warmth – and with funny stories.
Tom Sito: “We’ve had people who were like 99 and a hundred, and then last year we had a boy of 13 who died in a skateboard accident, who used to do voices for Nickelodeon.”
This year’s list numbers 54. It includes Ray Ellis, who wrote the Spider-Man theme song; voice actor Harvey Korman; and CalArts director Bob Winquist. Also on the list are many storyboardists, layout artists, and Xerox processors you haven’t heard of.
The free event starts at 1 o’clock tomorrow at the Hollywood Heritage Museum across from the Hollywood Bowl.
- February 6, 2009 5:21 PM
- Categories: Arts
A hundred people plan to gather in Hollywood tomorrow for the 15th annual wake for animation workers who died during the past year.
This year’s list numbers 54. Some were famous, like Ollie Johnston, the last of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men;” Bill Melendez, who brought “Peanuts” to television; and entertainer Eartha Kitt, who lent her voice to “The Emperor’s New Groove.” But it also includes people most of us have never heard of.
Animation historian Tom Sito says the event says a lot about people who work in animation.
Tom Sito: “Robert Zemeckis said about us once, he said, ‘You people get together and you live like a family, and you, you have each other’s children and you bury each other’s grandfathers. It’s amazing.’”
The wake at the Hollywood Heritage Museum across from the Hollywood Bowl starts at 1 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. It’s free and open to all.
- February 6, 2009 5:18 PM
- Categories: Arts
Despite its assembly of high-powered thinkers and doers, the 25th annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Long Beach is an easygoing event. So all kinds of characters there dropped in on KPCC’s “Patt Morrison,” including comic Robin Williams – in character.
Robin Williams: “Uncle Sam right now right now is like, ‘Y’all man, I just need some liquidity. You know what I’m saying. (laughing) I need… you know I ran into some bad sub-prime. You know.”
Patt Morrison: “Do you get the jitters if you don’t get your liquidity?”
Williams: “Yeah! Yeah! I need 803 billion… by Tuesday. (laughing) Man, if I don’t get it man – no, I would not screw you… again.”
That’s Robin Williams hanging out with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” at this year’s TED Conference. The sold-out event continues through tomorrow in Long Beach.
- February 6, 2009 4:42 PM
- Categories: Arts
Like just about every other business, the music industry is facing hard times. That didn’t keep a thousand hopeful Southland high school students from a Grammy Foundation program about careers in music. KPCC’s Brian Watt has the story.
Brian Watt: The Grammy Foundation’s sponsored a Career Day for 21 years. Top musicians, songwriters, and producers offer their takes on the possibilities and pitfalls of the recording business. Bassist Marcus Miller started the jazz workshop with a couple of questions.
Marcus Miller: Did I hear that everyone here is a jazz musician? Y’all don’t mind not eating every once in a while, right? (laughter)
Watt: In other words, the odds are long for making it as a performer. But Miller pointed to other lucrative jobs in the industry. For example, he said the engineer he likes to work with most can also play.
Miller: He knows where you’re going. He knows when to move you louder, he knows when to move you softer. He knows when to add some bass to your sound because he’s a musician himself.
Watt: Miller’s words struck a chord with aspiring bassist John Ardon, a 12th grader at Antelope Valley’s Little Rock High School.
John Ardon: Being able to know that you could do something else, you know, and something else that… there’s more possibility, and still be intertwined with music, which you love the most, that’s what I really like about that.
Watt: Ardon calls Marcus Miller his inspiration. Now that they’ve met, he said he’ll just practice longer and harder.
More than a thousand Los Angeles-area high school students got an opportunity today to learn about careers in music. Ahead of Sunday’s big recording industry awards show, the Grammy Foundation rounded up successful musicians, songwriters, and producers for its 21st annual Career Day at the University of Southern California.
During a panel discussion, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Jesse McCartney told the students that he began to taste success at age 16. But he resisted the pressure to drop out of high school.
Jesse McCartney: “That guy who would have dropped out at 15 to 16, his partner that was in that music class that finished high school, he’s the one that’s gonna be more musically inclined graduating. He’s the one that’s gonna get the deal. And even though he waited a little longer, he’s definitely gonna come out on top.”
After the panel, students attended workshops on topics including music publishing, production, and engineering.
Earnings fell at The Walt Disney Company during the last quarter of 2008. The company reported a 32 percent decline amid a downturn that Chief Executive Robert Iger said is likely to be “the weakest economy in our lifetime.” KPCC’s Steve Julian has more.
Steve Julian: According to one analyst, it was the first time Iger said publicly that consumers shifting from television and DVDs to digital formats was beginning to affect Disney’s businesses. The shift already has plagued the newspaper and recorded music industries.
Studio revenue dropped 26 percent, outpacing declines in other businesses. The movies WALL-E and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian didn’t perform as well as last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Ratatouille.
Revenue fell 4 percent at resorts and theme parks as attendance dropped. It went up slightly at ESPN and the Disney Channel. Overall, company revenues fell 8 percent to $9.6 billion.
Leaders of L.A.’s most prominent Chicano art gallery said today they’ve avoided eviction, at least for now. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Activists involved in the Chicano civil rights movement founded Self Help Graphics and Art almost 40 years ago. Some of their militancy resurfaced last year after the group’s administrators found out a developer had bought the East L.A. building where they’d staged performing and visual arts events for 35 years. Chicano art wasn’t in the new owner’s long-term plans for the site.
The group’s leaders say they’ve negotiated a lease agreement with Piedmont Investment Company that allows them to pay rent – and stay put – for at least a year. The new owner will make long-needed repairs to the 82-year-old building. The organization has launched a $1 million campaign for donations.
The late Karen Boccalero, a member of the Sisters of Saint Francis who’d studied printmaking, began Self Help Graphics to nurture the arts in East L.A.’s impoverished Mexican-American neighborhoods. Her religious order had allowed Self Help to use the building rent-free. Last year the order told the occupants it could no longer manage the property.
If guides on eateries and watering holes aren’t enough for you, the folks at Zagat have now broken down the Los Angeles dating scene. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: Zagat’s new “Dating and Dumping Guide” draws on the experiences of more than 13,000 out-and-about Angelenos. It reviews eateries, watering holes, and meat markets for dating - and dumping. That includes - for anyone already not interested in their date – the restaurants with the “hottest servers.”
But Zagat might help the single Angeleno most with its data on dating. At least three quarters of the daters polled were open to going out with someone of a different race, nationality, income bracket, and age group. But the percentage drops a bit when it comes to political party.
And here’s some fuel for the debate over whether chivalry is dead. On the first date, just over half of Angelenos say whoever extended the invitation should pay - regardless of gender. In New York, 60 percent say the first date is on the guy. But no matter who pays, only 3 percent in both cities say they’ll consider getting intimate on that first date.
Most Americans take their library privileges seriously. A recent Zogby poll found just six out of a hundred people confessed to not returning library books. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde found one library patron who’s more conscientious than most.
Kitty Felde: Chesley Sullenberger has a problem. He borrowed a book from the Danville Library – and it’s overdue. To complicate matters, the book was an interlibrary loan from Fresno State.
Sullenberger contacted librarians and asked for an extension on the loan and a waiver on the overdue fine. The reason? The book is in the cargo hold of the US Airways plane that made an emergency landing last month in New York’s Hudson River. Sullenberger is the pilot who made that landing. No one was seriously injured.
Fresno State library officials were impressed with Sullenberger’s sense of responsibility… and waived all fines and fees, even the one for losing the book. The library’s going one step further: when the replacement book goes up on the shelf, it will have a special template in front, dedicating it to Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
Oh, by the way. The topic of that book? Professional ethics.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are scheduled to meet this week. KPCC’s Brian Watt says it’s a safe bet the tone will be friendlier than the last time they got together.
Brian Watt: That was a few months ago, when contract talks broke down, and Hollywood started worrying about the possibility of another strike. But last week, it was mutiny at the Screen Actors Guild. Its national board replaced its hardline chief negotiator and executive director, and retooled its negotiating team.
It also told President Alan Rosenberg he can no longer speak officially on the Guild’s behalf. Rosenberg wrote a song that mocks the softer stance he believes the Guild’s new cast of negotiators will take at the bargaining table from now on. He performed it during an interview with Hollywood blog TheWrap.com.
Alan Rosenberg: (singing):
Just tell my bosses that I’ll take what they’re willing to give
‘Cause I’m just so grateful that they even let me live.
Watt: Neither the Guild nor the producers’ alliance will comment on this week’s meeting. Screen actors have been working without a contract since last summer.
Curators installed a public art project in Culver City last week that incorporated debris from a surrounding neighborhood. Apparently sanitation workers removed the work of art yesterday after residents complained it was trash. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: California Biennial Curator Lauri Firstenberg says you can see the found objects in the coffin-size resin sculpture by artist Jedediah Ceasar.
Lauri Firstenberg: Corks from wine bottles, found pieces of wood, various papers and toys, everything from natural and artificial materials.
Guzman-Lopez: The artist sought to demonstrate the process of taking debris from a public sphere and returning a work of art to that space. She says some people didn’t get it.
Firstenberg: It sounded like a neighbor, a local inhabitant called the city to say that construction materials were abandoned on the sidewalk requesting to have it picked up.
Guzman-Lopez: She says the sculpture spent the night at a storage facility and Culver City officials are working with Firstenberg to return it. She teaches a college art class titled Problems in Public Art and says this will give her plenty to talk about.
- January 30, 2009 5:16 PM
- Categories: Arts
L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art announced today it’s laying off 20 percent of its employees and cutting more than $4 million from its operating budget. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The cuts follow a month after philanthropist Eli Broad announced a $30 million bailout for the museum. The day that happened, trustees announced they’d bought out MOCA director Jeremy Strick’s contract and appointed former UCLA chancellor Charles Young as the museum’s chief executive officer. In a statement, Young said the cuts are necessary to ensure the museum’s long-term financial stability.
MOCA had been on the verge of closing. The sour economy dried up the value of its endowment, and many big donors had stopped giving. The museum’s laying off full-time and part-time employees including curators - 32 in all. Their last day on the job will be next Friday.
This year marks MOCA’s 30th anniversary. It’s developed a reputation as the nation’s leading contemporary art museum. Many cultural observers agree, but the cuts in personnel and budget will test MOCA’s ability to remain a top museum.
During a week in which companies from Starbucks to Shell announced dismal quarterly results, some businesses are reporting that times are pretty good. Online retailer Amazon enjoyed a strong fourth quarter.
So did movie rental company Netflix, said spokesman Steve Swasey. He told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that one reason is that the company anticipated what cost-conscious customers want.
Steve Swasey: “Netflix changed the way Americans rent movies about 10 years ago and we’re doing it again. And, Netflix makes it very easy for consumers to get movies very cost-effectively, very convenient, with great selection. And, I think all those things put together are a comfort for consumers in this economy.”
The value of Netflix shares rose 15 percent the day it announced its quarterly results. Swasey said the company’s hiring in its software development, engineering, and finance departments.
Los Angeles Opera administrators said today that the slumping economy’s forcing them to carry out a second round of layoffs at the 22-year-old company. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Eight people lost their jobs at the L.A. Opera. Added to the nine people cut a couple of months ago, that equals nearly one fifth of the company’s employees; people who worked to market, produce, and otherwise ensure that “Madama Butterfly” and “Carmen” made their curtain calls this season.
Chief Operating Officer Stephen Roundtree says the L.A. Opera’s suffering from soft ticket sales. Less investment income for some of its major donors also translates into fewer big contributions. Roundtree says the organization will cut the pay of remaining employees by an average of six percent.
Stephen Roundtree: Placido Domingo who is, of course, the general director of the company, is taking an eight percent cut, and also he has not taken any salary for the past year.
Guzman-Lopez: Layoffs and salary cuts will save the opera about half a million dollars in its budget of more than $60 million. Also straining the L.A. Opera’s resources is the extravagant $6 million production this year and next of the four operas in Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. But Roundtree predicts that production won’t break L.A. Opera, because advance ticket sales are strong.
LINK: L.A. Opera
The Screen Actors Guild’s national executive director and chief negotiator, Doug Allen, is out of a job. After complaints that Allen has mismanaged contract talks with film and TV producers, a slim majority of moderates on the Guild’s national board ousted him. Guild President Alan Rosenberg has been an ardent supporter of Doug Allen’s. He offered his personal opinion today to KPCC’s “AirTalk.”
Alan Rosenberg: “Doug was fired because he was too good and too strong, and too much of a unionist. For the first time, we had a negotiator who was saying that this whole idea of pattern bargaining – where we have to be stuck with a deal that was arrived at by other unions who never asked the questions that we needed to ask about how the Internet was gonna impact actors – that that was an absurd notion. And Doug’s the first NED we’ve had in a long time who challenged that notion because of the direction the board gave him, and the negotiating team gave him.”
Nonetheless, that negotiating team is also out – replaced by a new negotiation task force. SAG’s former general counsel David White is taking over Doug Allen’s duties as interim national executive director. Longtime Guild senior advisor John McGuire takes over as chief negotiator. SAG members have worked without a contract since the end of June.
The tug of war continues over the fate of the L.A. Zoo’s new elephant habitat. More than 100 supporters of the Pachyderm Forest rallied today on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. Zoo officials and employees and building trades union members called on the City Council to move forward with the $42 million exhibit.
It’s about a third finished now. Opponents - including some animal rights activists – say the exhibit will be too small even for the one elephant left at the zoo. Joshua Sisk, a zookeeper, said those opponents really don’t want any animals in captivity.
Joshua Sisk: “We’re talking about a group of people here that for the most part have never worked a day of their life with elephants, have never done research on elephants. Most of them- a lot of them have never set foot into our zoo. So please, trust the people who have dedicated their lives to caring for these animals, and trust that they are doing their jobs.”
The L.A. City Council’s Committee on Art, Parks, Health and Aging is scheduled to meet tomorrow to decide whether the city will continue building the new habitat.
Folks who want to own a piece of hip hop history will be in Fullerton Sunday morning during an auction of the remnants of Death Row Records. More from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: The auction lists more than 500 items from the Death Row offices. They include everything from a MTV Music Video Awards moonman statue to pallets of CDs, and even some of the cigars that Marion “Suge” Knight left at his once-successful music company.
Knight and his partner Andre “Dr. Dre” Young founded the label 18 years ago and produced some of the biggest names in rap music, including Snoop Dog and Tupac Shakur.
The company filed for bankruptcy more than two years ago, and was turned over to a trustee because it was heavily in debt. WIDEawake Entertainment of Toronto bought it recently for $18 million.
The electric chair pictured in the music company’s infamous logo is up for bid, along with some platinum records, personal clothing, and portraits of Knight, Shakur, and other artists from the label.
The leadership of the Screen Actors Guild is backing away from plans to call a strike authorization vote. Instead those leaders are proposing what they call a “compromise plan” with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. SAG president Alan Rosenberg explained the proposal to KPCC’s Larry Mantle.
Alan Rosenberg: “It would entail going back to the AMPTP, to the employers, trying to get them to make the deal a little bit better, because if we’re going to put the deal out to the membership, I’m sure the AMPTP wants to see it ratified.
“I think they have to do a little bit better than what they’ve done in order to get the deal ratified. It is not a good deal. It is a deal that will damage actors now and in the future.”
Rosenberg insists that a strike authorization vote is still very much on the table - and is something the union could rely on in the future if negotiations don’t work out.
A faction of self-proclaimed moderates in the union has opposed the vote, saying that it’s a bad idea during the recession.
Your favorite primetime soap operas aren’t going anywhere. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says that’s because Mexico’s leading producer of the melodramas settled its lawsuit with a major Spanish-language network today in a Los Angeles federal court.
Cheryl Devall: Mexican producer Televisa and broadcast network Univision announced the settlement on the tenth day of their civil trial. The premise for the court proceeding resembled the plot of a telenovela in which longtime partners scrambled for their share of a fortune.
Televisa had contended that Univision violated a contract by refusing to pay millions of dollars of proceeds in an advertising revenue-sharing agreement. Lawyers for both sides said the settlement of the three-year dispute will offer better rights to Univision and higher royalty payments to Televisa.
In a joint statement, they added that there will be no disruption in some of the most popular programs broadcast on the leading Spanish-language network. The companies did not disclose the terms of the agreement, but they did announce a separate one: Televisa will license to Univision the right to broadcast the home games of three top Mexican soccer teams this year.
The movie “Doubt” picked up a host of acting nods when the Motion Picture Academy announced Oscar nominations this morning. Meryl Streep, who played a nun in the film, will vie for Best Actress. It’s her 15th nomination. Philip Seymour Hoffman is up for Best Supporting Actor. Amy Adams will compete for Best Supporting Actress. So will Viola Davis, who played a small but pivotal scene in “Doubt”.
Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin says Davis made the most of her time on screen.
Leonard Maltin: “You know what actors say – ‘It’s not the size of the role, it’s the quality’ – and this is proof positive. She made such an impression in that one scene that, you know, it stays with you; it lingers, even after the movie is long over.”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” grabbed 13 Oscar nominations, the most of any film this year. “Slumdog Millionaire” was second with 10 nominations.
- January 22, 2009 1:17 PM
- Categories: Arts
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” leads the Academy Awards with 13 nominations, including Best Picture. It joins “Milk”, “Frost/Nixon”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, and “The Reader”. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more on the award nominations, announced this morning.
Steve Julian: What’s noteworthy is what was left out. “The Dark Knight,” the largest blockbuster in years, had eight nominations, but only one in acting categories: the late Heath Ledger received a Best Supporting nod a year after his death.
Clint Eastwood’s performance in “Gran Torino” went unnoticed. Despite winning a Golden Globe for “Happy Go Lucky”, Sally Hawkins was shut out. So was Kristen Scott Thomas for “I’ve Loved You So Long.”
Best Actor nominees are Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Frank Langella, Mickey Rourke, and Richard Jenkins. Best Actress nominees are Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet for “The Reader.”
The Oscars will be handed out next month.
- January 22, 2009 1:10 PM
- Categories: Arts
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” leads the Academy Awards with 13 nominations, including Best Picture. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more on the award nominations, announced this morning.
Steve Julian: The other Best Picture nominees are “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk,” “The Reader,” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Mickey Rourke, whose career rebounded with the movie “The Wrestler”, is a nominee for Best Actor, along with Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon”, Sean Penn in “Milk”, Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, and Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”.
In Best Actress nominations, Sally Hawkins, who won a Golden Globe for her role in “Happy Go Lucky”, was not nominated. Nominees include Anne Hathaway for “Rachel Getting Married”; Angelina Jolie for “Changeling”; Melissa Leo for “Frozen River”; Meryl Streep for “Doubt”; and Kate Winslet for “The Reader”.
The late actor Heath Ledger became the 6th actor to receive a posthumous nomination, in this case, Best Supporting Actor in “The Dark Knight”.
- January 22, 2009 1:05 PM
- Categories: Arts
Beyond the emphasis on music and poetry during the inaugural celebrations, creative people are hoping that the new president will promote the arts and culture in a substantive way.
Robert Lynch, a longtime arts administrator who heads Americans for the Arts, said he believes the administration’s sending encouraging signals so far.
Robert Lynch: “The hallmark of how President Obama comments on the arts over the last years is that he is not just talking about the White House itself, he’s talking about the entire country. He’s talking about the arts being part of every school district, inner city schools, impoverished neighborhoods, wealthy neighborhoods - the towns and cities across the country.”
Lynch spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” As he acknowledged during his first speech as president, Barack Obama faces a very long list of domestic and international priorities - and an economy in recession.
One of the new president’s many stated commitments is a higher profile for the arts and culture. Hollywood blogger Sharon Waxman told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that the federal government needs to renew its investment in the arts.
Sharon Waxman: “It’s been a long time since the government even been willing to pay any attention to any, either to high culture or low culture. We’re not talking about performances at the White House; I’m sure there were lots of those. I’m really hoping that we’re going to see an Obama administration that takes a much more activist kind of role in what the arts mean in our culture, in our society.”
Sharon Waxman is editor-in-chief of TheWrap.com, a Web site covering Hollywood and the media that launches next week. She’s a former entertainment reporter for the New York Times.
A South Pasadena High School student takes his “no cussing” campaign on “The Tonight Show” tonight. KPCC’s Frank Stoltze says it’s the latest in a series of media appearances for 14-year-old McKay Hatch.
Frank Stoltze: Hatch started his “no cussing” club in middle school.
McKay Hatch: What happened was when I got out of elementary to middle school, all my friends that I thought would never cuss started cussing. And at first I didn’t know why but then I realized later that they were doing it to fit in or be cool or whatever you want to call it. And at first the cussing just bothered me.
Stoltze: This MSNBC story was one of many about Hatch. He says the coverage inspired “no cussing” clubs in 47 states. Hatch has faced a backlash too, in the form of profane and threatening e-mails. The FBI reportedly has looked into them. The South Pasadena teen remains undeterred. He’s got a Web site, NoCussing.com, and he’s produced a rap video.
Hatch (in video): If you wanna be my peer, please protect my ears, don’t cuss.
Stoltze: Next week, Hatch’s book hits the shelves. It’s called “The No Cussing Club: How I Fought Peer Pressure and How You Can Too.”
Philanthropist Robert Gumbiner, the founder of a massive health maintenance organization and of Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art, has died at age 85. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Sixty years ago, just out of medical school in Indiana, Gumbiner landed in Long Beach and established his medical practice. Not long after, he became frustrated with the fee-for-service model of health care. He felt it was inefficient, so he lobbied doctors in his practice to start a pre-payment model.
In 1961 that led to the founding of FHP International, a company that managed care for more than a million people in 11 states. Gumbiner left FHP a dozen years ago and the company merged with another HMO.
Gumbiner’s passion for contemporary Latin American art grew during trips to treat people in poor towns. He bought so much art, that 12 years ago he founded the non-profit Museum of Latin American Art to exhibit his drawings, paintings, and sculpture.
A museum spokeswoman said Gumbiner felt strongly that the museum would become his lasting legacy. About a year ago he cut the ribbon on a $40 million expansion his foundation had paid for.
The inaugural balls are so last night, but Hollywood A-listers have another big party to anticipate. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the Motion Picture Academy will announce nominations for the 81st annual Academy Awards in the morning.
Cheryl Devall: The likely nominees for multiple awards have been in Southland theaters for weeks. They include “Frost/Nixon,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Revolutionary Road,” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” A few outsider favorites - “The Wrestler,” “Frozen River,” and “Rachel Getting Married” are also playing on some screens.
But many people beyond New York and Los Angeles have yet to see most of the critics’ picks for last year’s best flicks. One reason is that to qualify for an Oscar, films only have to play in the two largest American cities during a given year.
The other reason is the economy. Studios have held back on wide releases for some contenders unless an Oscar nomination can bolster their marketing campaigns. So one result of the crack-of-dawn announcement will be that your friends in Milwaukee can finally see some of the movies you’ve been talking about. The Oscar ceremony’s scheduled a month from now at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater.
- January 21, 2009 1:46 PM
- Categories: Arts
From alley walls in downtown Los Angeles to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the work of Los Feliz-based artist Shepard Fairey has taken quite a journey. Fairey created a high-contrast, red-and-blue poster of Barack Obama that’s become an icon. During the weekend, the National Portrait Gallery displayed that image on a wall marked “New Arrivals.” At the unveiling ceremony, Fairey had some important people to thank.
Shepard Fairey: “My wife, Amanda, (laughter, applause) for granting me the time right before we were having our second child to make this illustration with our childrens’ future in mind. I mean, I’m glad everyone else could share in all this, but really, I did it for my kids.”
Fairey also thanked Barack Obama for restoring his hope for American politics. The artist is staying in the nation’s capital for a few days to see Obama sworn in – and to attend an inaugural ball.
Los Angeles-based graphic artist Shepard Fairey created a red and blue image of Barack Obama that became an icon. Now, an original is hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. At a ceremony at the gallery during the weekend, Fairey thanked his family for its support, and Barack Obama for his inspiration.
Shepard Fairey: “Mainstream politics are something I’d lost faith in to a large degree. Um, sorry, politicians who are present. Hope’s a perfect word, because Obama restored my hope that this country could live up to its potential. And he’s a great leader, but it’s about all of us. And my poster was a grassroots effort, we all were involved in it. And we all need to continue to be involved.”
Fairey is sticking around Washington for a few days to see Obama sworn in, and to attend an inaugural ball.
A new comedy about a mall cop secured the top spot at the box office this weekend. Details from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: “Paul Blart, Mall Cop” earned an estimated 33.8 million in its first weekend. Kevin James stars as a portly shopping center security guard who tries to foil a bank heist. Sony is hoping it’ll exceed expectations by making 40 million by the end of the holiday weekend today.
Last week’s first place movie “Gran Torino” dropped to second with about 22 million in ticket sales. In third place was “My Bloody Valentine” – the new horror feature by Lionsgate.
The new biodrama “Notorious,” about slain rapper Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace, opened in fourth place with more than 21.5 – the biggest opening ever for Fox Searchlight. And “Hotel for Dogs,” Paramount’s new family comedy, opened in fifth with more than 17 million.
The California Lottery’s big television show gets a big relaunch this weekend. KPCC’s Molly Peterson has the story.
Molly Peterson: When “The Big Spin” debuted more than 23 years ago, California didn’t have much experience in the gaming business. The new state lottery’s promoters offered a televised turn of the wheel to selected players who scored a hundred bucks on scratcher cards.
Game show star Chuck Woolery even hosted - between his emcee duties on “Love Connection” and “Scrabble.” Over the years, the range of lottery games diversified, and so did the hosts - “The Big Spin” added a Spanish-speaker.
But last week the state retired that show. A lottery spokesman said it had become dated. On its replacement – “Make Me a Millionaire” – contestants compete for cars or cash in four different games.
One, called California Cool, will test participants’ knowledge of the state. Lottery commissioners think this is a good time to promote gambling again – the governor wants to pay down the California’s budget deficit by borrowing against future lottery winnings.
The medical branch of a retirement facility that’s served performing artists for 60 years is closing by the end of this year. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on today’s announcement by the board of the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
Cheryl Devall: The high cost of health care has caught up with the medical direct-care services the Motion Picture and Television Fund established in 1948. A statement from its operators says the Woodland Hills long-term medical care facility and acute-care hospital run an operating deficit of about $10 million a year.
At that rate, the organization’s board says it would run out of reserve money within five years. So the board plans to get out of the direct long-term care business and to concentrate resources on the fund’s six outpatient health centers and other services.
The changes will not affect the operation of the fund’s retirement and assisted-living homes in Woodland Hills. But they will eliminate about 290 jobs in the medical facilities.
The organization’s board said that in recent years, the acute-care hospital has rarely cared for more than 10 patients at a time. The fund plans to transfer any remaining patients to nearby hospitals later this year.
Feature film location shooting hit a 15-year low in Los Angeles County, the agency that tracks those trends has revealed. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the dragging economy and Hollywood labor politics share the blame.
Cheryl Devall: FilmL.A. handles permits for all location shooting in the city of Los Angeles and unincorporated L.A. County. That activity took a dive last year, especially during the last three months.
Movie shoots on location dropped a little more than eight percent during the last quarter, compared with the same spell in 2007. The 100-day Writers Guild strike caused movie producers to wrap up many projects early last year.
Location shooting for TV commercial slumped, too. FilmL.A. officials say that’s because the weakening economy led advertisers to spend less money.
Beyond these trends, the agency predicts something worse: that producers aren’t willing to shoot their big-budget projects in and around Los Angeles any more. The FilmL.A. report concludes that locally-produced reality TV shows, with smaller staffs and budgets, have replaced feature films as the engine that drives the region’s entertainment industry.
LINK: FilmL.A., Inc.
Another January day in Hollywood, another list of nominations for entertainment industry awards. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says this one’s all about the clothes.
Cheryl Devall: For 11 years, the Costume Designers Guild has honored the people who design for and outfit the casts of movies and TV shows. The guild lists separate categories for contemporary, period, and fantasy projects.
Nominees include the movies “The Dark Knight,” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” in the fantasy category; “Iron Man,” “Sex and the City,” and “Slumdog Millionaire” among contemporary movies; and “Revolutionary Road,” “The Duchess,” and “Milk” for period pieces.
The costumers also nominated TV shows “Mad Men,” “John Adams,” “The Tudors,” “Gossip Girl,” and “Dancing with the Stars.” There’s even a category for excellence in TV commercial costume design. The guild presents its awards at a February 17th ceremony in Beverly Hills.
- January 13, 2009 11:54 AM
- Categories: Arts
Screen Actors Guild members may have to decide soon whether to authorize a strike. The Guild’s national board of directors is meeting today and tomorrow to decide when - or if - it will ask rank-and-file members to signal their position.
Outside Guild headquarters, actress Carole Elliot said she’s ready to vote ‘yes’ in order to give SAG’s negotiating team some bargaining leverage against movie and TV producers. She took aim at the big stars who’ve said they’d vote ‘no.’
Carole Eliot: “We can’t stand behind Tom Hanks and - I mean they may be wonderful people, but they’re producers! And they’re supplying the money. They don’t want to go on strike.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to have a strike. If we vote for a strike authorization, we need 75 percent of the return ballots saying yes. That does not mean we’re going on strike.”
Many opponents of strike authorization say SAG’s negotiating team has failed in contract talks with film and TV producers.
The national board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild began a special meeting today to deal with growing internal tension over the possibility of a strike. As the meeting started, small groups of Guild members stood outside the union’s headquarters to weigh in on the question. Jerry Gelb opposes authorizing SAG’s leaders to call a walkout.
Jerry Gelb: “The current platform that our leadership is working from is the standard old rallying, saber-rattling view that ‘we’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys and unless we get what we want, we need to go on strike.’ And right now, the leverage to be gained by wielding any hammer like a strike isn’t gonna bring us the results that they’re hoping to get.”
Supporters of strike authorization say that leverage is key in talks with film and TV producers who haven’t yielded any ground so far.
The Salvation Army has signed on some well-heeled celebrities for a charity effort. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario says tomorrow’s event isn’t just for loafers.
Patricia Nazario: Organizers are calling it the first celebrity charity shoe-throwing competition.
Melanie Griffith and her husband, Antonio Banderas, are among a dozen actors who’ve confirmed they’ll participate.
The competition features children’s, ladies’, and men’s categories. Whoever throws their shoes the farthest in each category will receive a “Golden Shoe Award.”
The Salvation Army is collecting all the shoes at the event: sneakers, boots, pumps – you name it. Organizers plan to donate half the bundle directly to needy families, instead of selling them at Salvation Army stores.
The star-studded event is open to the public. Participants must sign in – and must bring a pair of new or barely used shoes to toss.
Note: The event at the Rancho Park Golf Course in West Los Angeles takes place from noon to 2 o’clock Saturday.
- January 9, 2009 5:26 PM
- Categories: Arts
Five directors of five highly-acclaimed films are on the Directors Guild list of nominees for Best Director of last year. KPCC’s Nick Roman has the list in hand.
Nick Roman: The Directors Guild chose an impressive group of directors that turned out an equally impressive group of films. The Guild nominated Ron Howard for “Frost/Nixon.” It’s his fourth nomination - and he’s won twice.
Gus Van Sant is up for the biopic “Milk.” Christopher Nolan is nominated for the Batman summer blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” Two directors got their first nominations: David Fincher for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” - and Danny Boyle for “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Boyle’s on a hot streak. He was picked as the Best Director of 2008 by the L.A. Film Critics Association - and he’s up for a Golden Globe Award. Fincher and Howard are also Golden Globe nominees.
The Directors Guild presents its award at the end of the month. The winner has a very good shot at an Academy Award. The Directors Guild has been honoring film directors for 60 years. The winner of its award goes on to win an Oscar 90 percent of the time.
- January 8, 2009 4:59 PM
- Categories: Arts
Joel and Ethan Coen are back among the nominees this year for Writers Guild of America Awards. KPCC’s Brian Watt has more on the contenders.
Brian Watt: The brothers Coen won last year’s Writers Guild Award for best Adapted Screenplay with “No Country for Old Men.”
This go-round, they turn up in the Original Screenplay category for “Burn After Reading.” They’re up against Woody Allen for “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Dustin Lance Black for “Milk,” Tom McCarthy for “The Visitor,” and Robert Siegel for “The Wrestler.”
Another set of brothers is nominated for best Adapted Screenplay. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan wrote “The Dark Knight,” based on DC Comics’ “Batman.” Also in the category: The screenwriters behind “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Doubt,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”
From TV, the writing teams behind “Dexter,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Lost,” “Mad Men,” and “The Wire” are vying for best Dramatic Series. Scribes from “30 Rock,” “The Simpsons,” “Entourage,” “The Office,” and “Weeds” square off in the Comedy Series category.
LINK: Writers Guild of America
- January 7, 2009 6:11 PM
- Categories: Arts
Two media companies that serve the Southland’s large Spanish-speaking audience are preparing to duke it out in court. Televisa is the Mexican producer of the soap operas that anchor TV network Univision’s prime time.
It’s claiming that the Spanish-language network cut some Televisa programs out of a deal to share advertising revenue. Media consultant Julio Rumbaut explained the premise of the court battle to KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Julio Rumbaut: “Televisa feels that it has very, very relevant content and very very compelling content for the U.S. Hispanic market. I think Televisa has tried to find a way to break the contract or be susceptive to by looking at a breach issue.”
A jury was seated today in the $118 million breach-of-contract case. It’s playing out in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles.
It’s pretty easy to find energy-efficiency labels on refrigerators, microwaves, and computers. But not so much on TVs. Art Rosenfeld is a member of the California Energy Commission. Now that wide-screen plasma and LCD televisions are so popular, he said, the state should require stores to sell only the most efficient models.
Art Rosenfeld: “TVs are the fastest-growing consumer of electricity in your house and it’s time to put labels and standards on them.”
Rosenfeld spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” Doug Johnson, who directs technology policy for the Consumer Electronics Association, told Patt that his organization objects to mandatory efficiency rules.
Doug Johnson: “Convergence, innovation, and transition from analog to digital have driven a lot of energy savings in our industries, but the California Energy Commission is really viewing the whole situation through regulatory lenses. And that’s not really the way to look at the electronics sector.”
Johnson argued that market-oriented, voluntary, and consumer-focused programs like Energy Star are more effective ways to promote energy efficiency. California’s new rules would go into effect a couple of years from now.
Los Angeles civic leaders kick off a month-long effort Tuesday to encourage more people to enjoy the region’s visual and performing arts offerings. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A.’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the city’s convention and visitors bureau are calling January L.A. Arts Month. They want to introduce, or re-introduce, people to the wide variety of arts offerings in the region.
Events include modern dance performances at downtown L.A.’s Seventh and Figueroa shopping center, and shining a spotlight on low-cost and free cultural offerings.
Organizers say it’s also a way, in this economy, to keep arts dollars circulating in the region and to keep people employed in the process.
A study last year indicated that the creative economy in Los Angeles supports one million jobs and generates close to $100 billion in annual revenue.
A widely-recognized animal handler has weighed in on the Los Angeles Zoo’s elephant controversy. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has the story.
Cheryl Devall: The proposed Pachyderm Forest exhibit has generated plenty of comment from people who contend it’s not big enough for the single Asian elephant that lives at the zoo, let alone others that might join it. Animal rights activists say elephants belong in free-range sanctuaries, not zoos.
Among the high-profile humans who want to stop construction on the $42 million L.A. habitat are former game show host Bob Barker, actress Lily Tomlin, and actor Robert Culp.
Now Jack Hanna, who’s introduced exotic species on “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Good Morning America,” has sent a letter to the L.A. City Council. He maintains that the zoo’s exhibit will set a new standard for the care of elephants in captivity. A Council committee has until January 24th to decide how to settle the matter without setting off a stampede of protest.
Like a lot of people, arts institutions across the country and in the Southland are struggling amid the economic recession. Diane Rodriguez, who heads new play production for the Center Theatre Group, said there’s no better time than this for Los Angeles to launch its first Arts Month. Rodgriguez told KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” that it’s important to let Angelenos know they don’t have to be rich to enjoy the arts.
Diane Rodriguez: “Go to the Music Center and dance on the plaza and sit there and play an instrument. There’s a real sense of coming together as a community and I think that that’s really what we can do to make ourselves feel like Los Angeles is a real place that is your home. And what the arts do is create a community and make us a unified body.”
Starting tomorrow, dozens of theaters, museums, and musical organizations will offer discounted or free admission during L.A. Arts Month.
Link: Los Angeles Arts Month
- January 5, 2009 1:51 PM
- Categories: Arts
Only three are known to exist in the world, and one of them is on display at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario has more on the debut exhibition of a rare, red diamond.
Patricia Nazario: It’s known as Kazanjian Red.
The unusual gem was discovered in South Africa 82 years ago. It disappeared during World War II, and American soldiers later recovered it. A private collector bought it in 1970. Now, L.A.-based Kazanjian Brothers, Inc. owns it.
Until the first of next month, you can see the five-carat diamond on display at the L.A. Natural History Museum in Exposition Park.
Gem lovers can also catch a glimpse of the museum’s “Hollywood Jewels Collection.” Among its one-of-a-kind pieces, the collection features the sparkly compact silver screen legend Clark Gable gave to his favorite leading lady, Carole Lombard.
The 46 floats from this year’s Tournament of Roses parade are parked in Pasadena for an up-close look through tomorrow. KPCC’s Brian Watt asked one float builder what happens after that.
Brian Watt: Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale built a dozen of this year’s floats. President Tim Estes says that once fans have gotten their last look, it’s time to take ‘em apart. He compares the process to stripping a car all the way down to the chassis - then using that chassis to build a different car.
Tim Estes: When the Rose Parade finishes up, we bring our floats back. Two weeks later, I have four floats in the Martin Luther Kingdom Day Parade. And a couple weeks after that, I have floats to put together for the Chinese New Year parade in Los Angeles. We have things ongoing and my job is to keep my employees employed.
Watt: That’s 30 employees, for whom this economy might not offer such fun work. Still, it’s a little sad when you think of all the intricate design and handiwork that goes into a Rose Parade float – to learn that its days are numbered after its glide in the sun down Colorado Boulevard.
Note: To see this year’s floats, head to Sierra Madre Boulevard near Pasadena High School. – today, until 5 o’clock; tomorrow, between 9 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Seven dollars for adults. Children 5 and younger get in free.
To sample the amazing variety of ethnic food in the Southland, you don’t have to go to restaurants. Linda Burum, co-editor of the new guidebook Eat: Los Angeles, told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that a visit to area grocery stores can take you - deliciously – around the world.
Linda Burum: “Go to Laborio Cuban Market, go to Fayarta Market, go to the Korean markets that we have in the book and they have huge counters full of, you know, foods that you can throw on your buffet table, and voila, instant party. And also if you’re wanting to do something at home.”
If you missed today’s “AirTalk,” or want more details on where some of those markets are, check out the AirTalk podcast.
You can still enjoy the spectacular flower-covered floats from yesterday’s Tournament of Roses Parade. All 46 of them are parked on Sierra Madre Boulevard near Pasadena High School for up-close viewing through tomorrow.
Tim Estes is president of Fiesta Parade Floats, the maker of 12 floats in this year’s parade. He likens the afterlife of parade floats to the fate of old cars.
Tim Estes: “After the parade, we’ll tear apart our Chevy Camaro down to the chassis. Then next year, I’m gonna build a Ford Mustang. So the chassis are good for a number of years because we build our own chassis - they’re good for about 10 years, actually.
“And the majority of the floats are taken apart, dismantled, and pretty much discarded. We certainly recycle all the steel and other materials, but we build new every year pretty much.”
Estes and his crew have more floats to build for parades coming up in just a few weeks: on the Martin Luther King holiday and Chinese New Year.x
Downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo celebrates the New Year with a festival tomorrow. Southern California’s Japanese Chamber of Commerce sponsors the event called Oshogatsu.
The chamber’s Jeffrey Yamazaki says traditional foods like mochi figure big in the holiday.
Jeffrey Yamazaki: “Mochi is a rice cake, right? We have red and white mochi we throw away to the audience for free. We have 600 mochi.”
Yamazaki says this is the 11th year Little Tokyo has hosted a free celebration that helps raise money for cultural exchanges between the United States and Japan. A program of music and performances begins on two stages at 11 o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Day.
To fans of 1970s sitcoms, or certain Mel Brooks movies, or this year’s “Dancing with the Stars,” the grand marshal for tomorrow’s Rose Parade will be a familiar face. Actress Cloris Leachman is as funny now as she was more than three decades ago in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Phyllis,” and “Young Frankenstein.” She reminded KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” just how funny after the two fielded a phone call from one of Leachman’s friends.
Patt Morrison: Maybe she’ll wave to you from the convertible on the Rose Parade route.
Cloris Leachman: I will. I’m gonna – I’ve learned how to wave.
Morrison: Oh, they’ve given you waving lessons?
Leachman: Remember how the queen of England waves?
Morrison: The queen mother?
Leachman: With her wooden hand. No, I’ll be waving to anybody who’s waving at me, I’ll wave right back.
That’s Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress – and Rose Parade grand marshal – Cloris Leachman, having some fun with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
- December 31, 2008 2:12 PM
- Categories: Arts
For the first time ever, the city of Anchorage, Alaska is entering a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. The parade happens just a couple of days before Alaska celebrates 50 years of statehood. Jeannette Moores of the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau describes the contents of her city’s booth at the post-parade Showcase of Floats.
Jeannette Moores: “Dogs with dogsleds for dogsled rides. Glacier ice, a giant huge piece of glacier ice for people to come up and touch. A climbing wall so people can come out and climb and do some of the activities that we enjoy every day. So we’re hoping that people in Southern California will come out and see what Anchorage and Alaska has to offer.”
The Showcase of Floats begins after the Rose Parade at 1 o’clock tomorrow afternoon, and continues through Saturday.
You won’t find cable TV’s fiercest wrestling match on pay-per-view. It’s taking place in the final hours of this year – as Viacom threatens to pull its channels from Time Warner Cable unless the cable operator pays a higher fee for its programming.
Viacom channels include Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, and Comedy Central. Patricia Fregoso, regional vice president for Time Warner Cable, told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that Viacom’s pretty bold to ask for more money when the economy’s so bad.
Patricia Fregoso: “We actually think the claims that equate to pennies to our customers are misleading and actually insulting, because when you do the math, Viacom is asking for another $39 million annually. And, of course, viewers, customers pay that price at the end of the day.”
Viacom officials counter that the company’s programs are the most-watched on cable, so they’re worth more than Time Warner’s willing to pay. If the two sides don’t settle by midnight, Viacom’s 20 channels on that system will go bye-bye.
Time Warner cable subscribers may lose Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and 17 other channels after midnight tonight.
Viacom owns those channels. The media company is in a dispute with Time Warner over pricing. Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew told KPCC’s “AirTalk” that Time Warner undervalues her company’s channels.
Kelly McAndrew: “Our networks, nearly 20 of them, garner almost 20 percent of the cable viewing audience - and yet, the fees that Time Warner pays for our programming account for only 2 and a half percent of what they get from their average cable subscriber.”
McAndrew says Viacom’s seeking a 12 percent increase in fees - worth about 23 cents a month per subscriber.
But Time Warner’s regional vice president claims that what Viacom really wants is an extra $39 million a year - and that the cable operator would have to pass along that cost to consumers.
If the two companies don’t reach an agreement by midnight, Viacom says its channels will go dark for Time Warner subscribers.
West Covina. Torrance. Duarte. A number of Southland cities have floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade. This go-round, Anchorage, Alaska joins them for one time only. KPCC’s Brian Watt tells us why.
Brian Watt: Anchorage has been angling for a float in this parade for quite some time – because it happens so close to a very important date in Alaska’s history.
Jeannette Moores: It is Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood. So it’s happy birthday Alaska on January 3rd.
Watt: Jeannette Moores works for the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Moores: This is a great marketing opportunity for our state. Southern California is one of the top visitor markets for Alaska.
Watt: So the float presents what Anchorage hopes visitors will come and enjoy: glaciers, kayaking, native Alaskan performers. The city’s even shipped down Alaskan spruce boughs and mosses for the decor.
Don’t forget the life-size sled dogs. And Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the grueling 1000-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race, is set to ride on the float – in far warmer temperatures.
The floats for the Tournament of Roses are ready to go for tomorrow’s parade down Colorado Boulevard - right past the KPCC studios. This year’s theme is “Hats Off to Entertainment.” KPCC’s Susan Valot says that for Orange County, it’s “hats off” to three O.C. cities with Rose Parade floats.
Susan Valot: This is the first time Mission Viejo has sponsored a float in the Rose Parade. It features a representation of Lake Mission Viejo with a diver, a sailboarder, a hiker, and others having fun in the city. The float celebrates Mission Viejo’s 20th anniversary as a city.
Huntington Beach calls its float “Surf City USA,” with an entire family surfing a big wave - complete with the dog and a barbecue grill.
This will be the 16th year that Anaheim has entered a float in the Rose Parade. This year, the city’s calling its float “Crank Up the Entertainment.” It features a music box with the Honda Center, Angel Stadium, and Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle, complete with bursting fireworks - made of flowers, of course.
Some 40 million Americans tune in each New Year’s Day to watch the Rose Parade.
Mid-year cuts in the state education budget have prompted the Los Angeles Unified School District to suspend a partnership with area arts organizations. Danielle Brazell with the advocacy group Arts for L.A. lamented the decision on KPCC’s “AirTalk.”
Danielle Brazell: “The purpose of arts education is not solely to create the next generation of artists. The purpose of arts education is to create the next generation of society. It’s to create a creative work force.
“Southern California is built on a creative industry and we need smart, intelligent, critical thinkers who can fill positions that require creative thinking, so this is one of the things that arts education provides.”
Brazell - whose program administers the partnership between public schools and 80 theaters, musical organizations, and other arts institutions – described arts education as a social justice issue. The partnership’s budget was about $8 million this year. L.A. Unified has to cut $400 million in state money from its annual budget.
Perhaps you’ve wondered how the floats in the annual Rose Parade get so… flowery. It takes a lot of hands – and KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says some float sponsors are still rounding up helping hands before Thursday’s big event.
Cheryl Devall: The kind of weather we’re enjoying this week inspired Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club to stage the original Tournament of Roses - so its members could show their friends and relatives in colder climates just how lovely Southland winters can be.
The floats they devised for that first parade in 1890 - flower-garlanded horse-drawn carriages - are a far cry from the elaborate, animated juggernauts that roll along the parade route these days. Professional design and decoration teams handle the work of attaching petals, grasses, and seeds to the surfaces of most floats.
But quite a few organizations still rely on volunteers to ensure that the floats will look their best come New Year’s Day. If you’re interested in helping out, go online to www.tournamentofroses.com/events for info about pitching in. If you just want to appreciate the work-in-progress, you can find details at that same Web site.
Funeral plans are pending for world-renowned sculptor Robert Graham. He died during the weekend at age 70.
Graham crafted several well known projects in Los Angeles, including the bronze doors on the plaza of the downtown Music Center and at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. In his Venice studio, Graham also created many sculptures of the female figure.
Several years ago, he talked with KPCC’s Kitty Felde about why he liked to sculpt women.
Kitty Felde: “You know ,every culture has its kind of opposite, and one discovers throughout that opposite kind of attraction and everything that comes with it, the eroticism, the sensuality, one discovers a way of looking at the whole world through one figure.”
For the 1984 Olympic Games, Graham also crafted the “Olympic Gateway,” a sculpture of two headless figures outside the Coliseum in Exposition Park.
Graham died Saturday at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. He reportedly had been ill for about six months.
Hollywood got a nice gift for the holidays: a big turnout at the box office. Details from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: After a strong debut on Christmas, Marley and Me continued to draw crowds this weekend, leading the box office with 37 million in sales. The dog tale starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson made a total of about 52 million since Thursday.
Bedtime Stories, Disney’s new holiday flick with Adam Sandler, ranked second, making almost 39 milllion since Christmas.
Running a close third was Paramount’s Bejamin Button with Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchett –with a total of 39 million.
Rounding out the top five – MGM’s Valkyrie with Tom Cruise ranked 4th earning 30 million since opening on Christmas.
And – Yes Man was in 5th after making 16 million over the weekend. Overall, the movie industry ended the year strong on the heels of a two-week slide. The top 12 movies made more than 182 million, up 8 percent over the same time last year.
Fans of offbeat movies are saying goodbye to a pulp film actress who enjoyed a late-life comeback. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on Ann Savage, who died in Hollywood on Christmas Day.
Ann Savage: From the noirish B movies in which she once said blonde actresses like her were just scenery for male protagonists, Ann Savage carved out one memorable role: as a woman who blackmailed a stranger in the 1945 film “Detour.”
Her ferocious performance put a female character in charge in a way that mirrored social changes on the home front during World War II, but was rarely reflected on film. Under contract to Columbia Pictures, Savage worked in more than 30 films that, by her own admission, were mindless.
Decades later, independent Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin cast her as another sort of bad girl - the harpy of a mother in his well-received “My Winnipeg,” a quirky personal portrait of his hometown. That recent art-house release directed new attention toward just how mindful an actress Ann Savage was. She was 87 years old when she died in her sleep at a Hollywood nursing home.
A private funeral is scheduled for Nobel literature laureate Harold Pinter, who died Wednesday at age 78. The late playwright inspired a new approach to dramatic speech, actor and writer Roger Guenveur Smith told KPCC.
Roger Guenveur Smith: “I think that (pause) Harold Pinter was (pause) a master of the (pause) terror of silence.”
UCLA theater professor Michael Hackett said Pinter’s genius lay in part in the way he employed seemingly ordinary words.
Michael Hackett: “The language is used to hide something much deeper, often very frightening; just beyond the limits, or the horizon, of the stage space, there is something threatening beyond.”
Pinter’s spare, character-driven plays were a favorite of regional theaters. Eight years ago, when he turned 70, South Coast Repertory presented “The Homecoming” and Pasadena Playhouse mounted “The Birthday Party.”
- December 26, 2008 5:15 PM
- Categories: Arts
Where were you 40 years ago? If you were a teenager back then, chances are you were headed to your local record store. KPCC’s Nick Roman says this week marks 40 years since the Beatles “White Album” topped the Billboard charts.
Nick Roman: This was the first of nine weeks that the “White Album” would spend at the top of the charts. The Beatles’ only double-album is considered a classic … although for many fans, the iffy tracks demote it to an album-and-a-half. But there’s still a lot to cherish on the “The White Album.”
There’s the nod to the Beach Boys’ fun-fun-fun style in “Back in the USSR.” There’s the guitar solo by Beatle-for-a-day Eric Clapton on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” “Glass Onion” told us “the walrus was Paul”… and that set off crazy speculation that Paul McCartney was dead. He wasn’t.
On the dark side: Not much can match the infamy of “Helter Skelter,” a McCartney rocker that Charles Manson twisted into a call for murder. But that’s on Manson, not the Beatles.
If you want your kids to enjoy “The White Album” on their iPods, good luck; Apple the record company still won’t release Beatles songs for Apple Computer’s iTunes service. My advice? Buy a record player.
For about 20 years, until 1997, the VHS tape was the preferred home video medium. But the last U.S. distributor of that format has announced he’s going out of business. New York Times personal tech correspondent David Pogue told KPCC what that means for the videotapes in your cabinet.
David Pogue: “Getting your stuff transferred – your personal records, your photos, your films – getting that stuff transferred to the latest format is really expensive. It’s possible. There’s companies that will do it, but to get it done right and color corrected and all that will cost thousands of dollars.”
Pogue predicted that from now on, any home user who wants to preserve and access that data will have to get used to shifting formats every few years… just as they have with their favorite music.
Admirers are remembering entertainer Eartha Kitt as a self-made woman who defied the racial and gender stereotypes of her era. Kitt died yesterday at age 81.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable interviewed Kitt for the LA Free Press three decades ago; he described his memories of that conversation to KPCC’s Larry Mantle.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson: “She was really a multi-faceted person. She spoke many languages. She was quite a philanthropist, a quiet activist for social causes. When King wanted something, the March on Washington and other demonstrations, she was always there. So, her legacy is a full-bodied legacy that I just feel that we just really have to pay tribute to the legends and the giants that did so much for the cause of peace and social justice.”
During a White House luncheon at the height of the Vietnam War, Kitt denounced President Lyndon Johnson for sending Americans off to die. For years after that, she had difficulty finding bookings in the United States, so she lived and worked abroad.
Nomination ballots go in the mail tomorrow for the 81st Academy Awards. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has details.
Cheryl Devall: Seems it’s always election time in Hollywood. Just as movie people have gotten past the presidential contest and postponed the Screen Actors’ Guild strike authorization vote, it’s time for them to choose their favorites for the Academy Awards.
The nominations are almost as involved as all those propositions and judicial races in last month’s general election. Along with the high-profile categories – Best Picture, Director, and performances by actors and actresses – the 5,810 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will have to pick contenders for best costuming, art direction, editing, sound, and other categories.
They’ll have until January 12 to return their ballots. Ten days after that, the Academy announces the nominations, and the Oscar presentation’s scheduled for February 22.
- December 25, 2008 1:53 PM
- Categories: Arts
A seasonal celebration almost as old as downtown Los Angeles’ Music Center will unfold this afternoon and evening. Dozens of Southland singers, dancers, and musicians are scheduled to perform, introduced by a succession of celebrity chefs. One of them – Susan Feniger of the Two Hot Tamales – described the event to KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Susan Feniger: “This is going to be the 49th year for the annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, and it is down at the Dorothy Chandler, and it’s free – six hours, starts at 3 o’clock, and this year they are doing a little bit of a twist where they are having each hour is going to be hosted by a chef. So they are connecting food and holiday celebration and entertainment and music and singing.”
Admission and parking for the program are free. But this year, organizers are asking audience members to bring along canned or boxed food items for the L.A. Regional Food Bank.
- December 24, 2008 1:18 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles is the scene of a lot of instrument tuning and sound-checking right now. Almost four dozen acts are preparing to take the stage tomorrow for the L.A. County Arts Commission’s annual holiday celebration.
The commission has presented the free Christmas Eve concert as a gift to Angelenos for almost 50 years. Producer Adam Davis says that this year, the organizers are asking the audience to arrive with cans or packages of food for needy families:
Adam Davis: “There’s no admission, there’s no parking fees, so we said, ‘Hey, bring a can down.’ So our goal is: last year we had 10,000 people attend the show. If we can get 10,000 cans, that would be a really great thing. The Food Bank thinks of it as 10,000 pounds. 10,000 pounds of food really can a long way to help people. L.A. Regional Food Bank told us that there was a 41 percent bigger need than last year.”
The event starts at three in the afternoon tomorrow and ends at nine at night. It’ll include something for everybody: Latin jazz, Celtic music, choirs, mariachis, dance troupes, celebrity chefs, and Taiko drumming.
LINK: L.A. Regional Food Bank
You won’t see carts selling roasted chestnuts on Hollywood and Vine. That’s a New York thing. But KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde reports there is one hot trend from New York that’s made it to the West Coast this Christmas…
Kitty Felde: Imagine a TV program with no dialogue and just one picture: a log burning in a fireplace. The Yule Log broadcast was created in 1966 by a New York television executive as a Christmas present to his viewers. It ran for years, and was returned to the air by popular demand after 9/11.
The Log moved west five years ago to L.A. station KCAL. And now, KTLA is getting into the act. Station Manager John Moczulski says he decided to broadcast the Christmas morning Yule Log after advertisers kept asking for it.
John Moczulski: If you don’t have a fireplace – and many homes in Southern California don’t – it’s a nice, soothing visual element for someone to have on while they’re opening packages in the morning.
KTLA will run 10-second ads over the fire. It runs from 5 to 8 Christmas morning. KCAL’s Yule Log runs from 6 to 10. Both broadcasts feature Christmas music to accompany the crackling fire.
Months before it was expected to run out of money, trustees of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art announced today they’re accepting a $30 million bailout from philanthropist Eli Broad. More on the story from KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Broad offered the money on the condition that MOCA will shake its administration. Trustees bought out the remaining year of director Jeremy Strick’s contract, and appointed former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young to guide the museum through the overhaul.
Young described his goals to museum trustees and reporters gathered in MOCA’s downtown L.A. auditorium.
Charles Young: There are many challenges which we have to address. We have to bring our expenses in line with our revenue. We have to find new ongoing sources of revenue, and create an endowment that will help to sustain MOCA’s operation into the future.
Guzman-Lopez: Young said the museum needs these changes to get past the financial mess it’s experiencing now. MOCA administrators failed to secure donations, and the economy sapped the value of its endowment.
Half of Broad’s $30 million will pay for art exhibits during the next five years. The other half will match money MOCA raises for its endowment.
The trustees of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art announced today they’re accepting a $30 million bailout from philanthropist Eli Broad to stay afloat. The board also accepted the resignation of longtime museum director Jeremy Strick.
The trustees and Strick fostered several acclaimed exhibits at MOCA. They also failed to secure the museum’s financial footing as contributions declined in recent years and the economy soured.
Broad told reporters he wants changes in the museum’s fiscal practices to accompany his donation.
Eli Broad: “Well, we can’t look back; we’ve got to look to the future. Clearly mistakes have been made; those have been already reported. It’s a new day. And there’s no point in going back and talking about what happened and why it happened. Clearly things should have not have happened that happened. That’s history now, we’re moving forward, not backward.”
Broad and MOCA’s trustees have hired former UCLA chancellor Charles Young as interim chief executive as trustees shore up the museum’s finances and locate a new director.
A potential strike by the Screen Actors Guild has caused a deep divide between members. SAG’s contract expired in June, and negotiations have broken down over residual payments to actors in projects distributed on the Internet. The union has postponed next month’s scheduled strike authorization vote by at least two weeks. Ron in Hollywood told KPCC’s “AirTalk” he supports the idea of a strike.
Ron in Hollywood: “A union is only – has teeth if it can get a strike authorization. If the membership won’t back its union, there’s no point in having a union. So anybody who won’t vote for a strike authorization right now I think is saying they don’t want to be in a union.”
Michael, who called from Silverlake, said he feared that many who’d vote to strike are either non-working actors with day jobs, or stars so successful they’d be able to weather a long spell without steady work.
Michael from Silverlake: “It concerns me that our fate lies in the hands of so many who really don’t have much of a vested interest in not striking. In other words, they don’t lose a thing if we do.”
Actors for and against a strike have announced their positions on competing Web sites.
The embattled Screen Actors’ Guild has put the brakes on a strike authorization vote… for now. SAG leaders have announced they’re putting it off until after a two-day national board meeting next month. The issue of whether to strike has deeply divided people in Hollywood, actor Tess Harper told KPCC’s Larry Mantle.
Tess Harper: “I’ve been to three Hollywood parties in the last week; at two of them the host met people at the door saying, ‘Please, please don’t talk about the SAG issue.’”
Larry Mantle: “It’s that divisive.”
Harper: “It’s that divisive. So much for consensus.”
Harper is a former SAG board member. Actors are debating the pros and cons of authorizing a strike against movie and TV producers over residual payments for projects distributed online. Some SAG members fear missing out on a big potential revenue stream; others say an economic recession is the wrong time to shut their industry down.
Funeral arrangements are pending for the man who helped create one of Hollywood’s best-loved films. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on “To Kill a Mockingbird” director Robert Mulligan, who died during the weekend.
Cheryl Devall: The subject matter of Robert Mulligan’s 1962 film was pretty volatile stuff: the rape trial of a black man in a small Southern town. As racial tensions reached a boiling point in this country, the director made a choice: to approach Harper Lee’s story of injustice with the same delicate yet direct child’s-eye view that had made the novel a best-seller.
“The big danger in making a movie of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’” he told the New York Times, “is in thinking of this as a chance to jump on the segregation-integration soapbox. The book does not make speeches.”
It, and the movie, did make a powerful statement that won over critics and fans. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, including one for Mulligan as Best Director. It scored the Best Actor award for Gregory Peck’s quietly heroic portrayal of defense lawyer Atticus Finch, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Robert Mulligan, who also directed “Summer of ‘42,” died of heart disease. He was 83 years old.
As freezing temperatures hit the region, the Getty Trust imposed a hiring freeze today. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the latest Southland arts organization to feel the economic chill.
Cheryl Devall: The chief executive of the trust behind one of the world’s biggest arts endowments says stock market turbulence has significantly drained that pool of money.
The value of the Getty Trust, estimated at almost $6 billion at the end of the last fiscal year, has declined by about 25 percent, James Wood told Getty staff in a memo. He said that means the operator of museums and research facilities in West Los Angeles and Malibu will have to significantly reduce its spending in the fiscal year ahead.
More immediately, Getty facilities will have to stop hiring new employees, and promoting or raising the salaries of current staff, for the foreseeable future.
The economic squeeze has prompted institutions including the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena and the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to cut budgets, staff, and planned exhibitions. L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art is weighing a potential merger with the L.A. County Museum of Art for the same reasons.
The Screen Actors Guild – or SAG – is convening a town hall style meeting tonight in Hollywood to inform members about the upcoming strike authorization vote. KPCC’s Brian Watt says there’ll probably be some tension in the room.
Brian Watt: There was certainly more than tension when the Guild held a similar meeting two days ago in New York. Members there took the union’s Hollywood leaders to task for the way they’ve handled contract talks with film and TV producers.
A few days earlier, the Guild’s New York board had called for replacing SAG’s negotiating team and stopping plans to hold a strike authorization vote next month.
But the Guild’s national president Alan Rosenberg still wants to hold the vote – and to tell the rank and file why they need to authorize a strike. He’ll need a “yes” from 75 percent of the voters, and he’s got support from stars including Mel Gibson and Martin Sheen. One-thousand more actors have signed a solidarity statement on the SAG Web site.
But two former SAG presidents and more than 130 A-list actors – from Morgan Freeman to Glenn Close – signed another letter urging a “no” vote. Rhea Pearlman and Danny DeVito wrote the letter, and now it’s on a Web site where the number of endorsers topped 700 this morning.
As the board of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art met to discuss that institution’s financial future, the L.A. County Museum of Art has offered a lifeline. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: A persistent budget gap has jeopardized one of the world’s most-acclaimed modern art museums. Artists, patrons and art scholars, and administrators have rallied to help keep open the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Along with online petitions, rumors circulated that L.A.’s larger, public art museum would step in to help the smaller private one. The grapevine turned out to be right. The nonprofit that manages the L.A. County Museum of Art presented MOCA’s board with a governance plan that would incorporate members of both boards under LACMA’s management.
The proposal also would encourage both museums’ collections to share space in the buildings they operate in the mid-Wilshire area and downtown L.A. This plan would not involve financial support from Los Angeles County, LACMA officials said in a statement.
Note: There’s no guarantee that the contemporary art museum’s officials will approve the plan, despite the county museum’s assurance that it’s intended to preserve the independence and integrity of both institutions.
The Directors Guild of America has announced the recipients of its latest lifetime achievement awards. KPCC’s Brian Watt says one award is a “thumbs up” to a well-known film critic.
Brian Watt: Movie buffs likely know Roger Ebert as half of the televised film critic duo he formed with the late Gene Siskel. The two Chicago-area newspaper movie critics traded reviews in the balcony “At The Movies” and made “Two Thumbs Up” a popular and sought- after rating.
Ebert has reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 40 years. He’s also written several books about film. Ebert’s the first film critic to have won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Directors Guild has singled him out for its Honorary Life Member award as news organizations around the country are eliminating the jobs of film and other arts critics.
Directors Guild President Michael Apted praised Roger Ebert for keeping directors on their toes. From the blockbuster to the tiny independent film, Apted said, Roger Ebert has shared his love of cinema with generations of moviegoers. The award ceremony is at the end of next month.
- December 16, 2008 3:47 PM
- Categories: Arts
The trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles meet today to seek a solution to the worst financial crisis in the museum’s 29-year history. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The slow economy isn’t the only reason MOCA’s in a financial hole. For years the museum tapped into its endowment - and didn’t replenish the money - so it could pay for day- to-day operations. Earlier this year, auditors warned MOCA administrators about that practice.
Museum officials say they’re closing a satellite gallery in L.A.’s Little Tokyo next month. They also say they’re likely to run out of money next year to keep open the main venue in downtown L.A. and another space in West Hollywood.
Trustees discussed their options at a meeting a month ago. A spokeswoman would not disclose the agenda for today’s meeting. Observers expect trustees to approve an action plan to keep MOCA open. Many of the private institution’s supporters oppose a proposal to merge it with the much larger and financially healthier L.A. County Museum of Art.
L.A. philanthropist Eli Broad has promised MOCA $30 million in rescue money if other donors can match a portion of that amount.
The trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles are meeting today to explore possible solutions for the museum’s financial problems. MOCA may run out of operating money sometime next year.
The sour economy and museum administrators’ decisions are to blame. For years the private institution’s tapped into its endowment for day-to-day operations, and it hasn’t replenished those funds.
Bettina Korek, founder of the online arts resource guide ForYourArt, says many artists are waiting to hear how they can help.
Bettina Korek: “If there’s anything positive that’s come out of this, I think that it is the kind of wider awareness for how beloved MOCA is by Los Angeles artists and international artists. And just how critical it is for Los Angeles and the international art community.”
Korek says many people she’s talked to oppose an idea to merge MOCA and its holdings into the larger L.A. County Museum of Art. L.A. Philanthropist Eli Broad has committed enough funds to get MOCA back on its feet. Some observers say they want changes to who runs the museum - and how – as a condition of any bailout.
- December 16, 2008 10:28 AM
- Categories: Arts
Private funeral services are scheduled in Los Angeles today for iconic pinup model Bettie Page. Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner told KPCC that he maintained great affection for the curvy, playful brunette – one of the first models he picked to appear in his publication when it launched 55 years ago.
Hugh Hefner: “She was a very dear person and a very close friend. And I was honored to be able to help her in some significant ways in the later part or her life, to make sure that she had the right kind of legal representation and to be properly compensated for the many, many people who were fans, but some of whom also took advantage of her or in some cases didn’t properly compensate her for the use of her image.”
Page claimed in her later years that the enduring popularity of that image mystified her. But before she died last Thursday at age 85, she was able to collect and control some profit from the photos for which she’d posed in her prime.
- December 16, 2008 10:23 AM
- Categories: Arts
A jury in Los Angeles has determined that it’s not proper to sell an Oscar, even to benefit a charity. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on today’s verdict.
Cheryl Devall: The case in L.A. Superior Court involved three women who inherited three golden statuettes through their relationship with old Hollywood royalty - Charles “Buddy” Rogers and Mary Pickford. An attorney for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - the organization that awards the Oscars - said in his opening statement that Rogers and Pickford were more famous in their day than Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The defendants were related to the woman Rogers married after Pickford’s death.
Those relatives had hoped to sell one of the Pickford Oscars and donate the proceeds to charity. They argued that they were not bound by the Motion Picture Academy’s rule that anyone who wants to sell an Oscar must give the academy the right to buy it back first for $10. The jury took an hour to decide otherwise, but the attorneys plan to present arguments in a non-jury portion of the case next Monday.
There reportedly is a rift within the Screen Actors Guild over next month’s planned strike authorization vote. New York leaders of SAG want the union to call off the vote. They contend that it’s irresponsible in the current economic climate.
SAG has argued that the studios’ offer doesn’t meet its demands on residual payments, particularly in the area of new media. Former SAG president and New York board member Richard Masur told KPCC’s Larry Mantle he doesn’t buy that argument.
Richard Masur: “What’s in this current proposal is increases in every single across the board, virtually every single area of residuals, either direct increases or increases by virtue of the fact that minimums are increasing. The only place that there is an issue about residuals is in made-for-new-media products; made under a certain budget level that is not ad supported.”
Masur made clear that he was speaking for himself, not for the organization.
SAG president Alan Rosenberg has criticized the New York board’s action. He called it “extraordinarily destructive and subversive.” He’s called an emergency national board meeting Friday in Hollywood.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers has placed an ad in Hollywood’s trade papers today. It takes aim at claims made by Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg about the producers’ final contract offer. KPCC’s Brian Watt has this update.
Brian Watt: Since the beginning of the contract drama between the Guild and the producers alliance, the issue of residuals for work streamed or downloaded on the Internet has been the star. In the producers’ ad today, it gets top billing once again.
What the producers call Alan Rosenberg’s “rhetoric” – that their contract offer is the beginning of the end of residuals” – occupies one side of the ad.
On the other side, bullet points aim to debunk that rhetoric. The producers say they’re increasing the residual rate for permanent downloads, and offering the first-ever residuals for films and TV shows streamed on the Web.
In a statement, SAG calls the entire ad “great fiction,” and goes on to refute the producers’ bullet points.
SAG has its own internal conflict to resolve. Late last week, leaders of the Guild’s New York branch called on the union to stop plans for the strike authorization vote scheduled for next month, and to replace SAG’s negotiating committee.
Bettie Page, the infamous 1950s pin-up girl who later developed a cult following, has died.
Page gained fame for sexy photographs featuring her in lingerie, bikinis. and sometimes nothing at all.
Author and journalist Richard Foster wrote a book about Page. He told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that she had two very different sides.
Richard Foster: “She had this very fresh face, innocent girl next door look, that men just fell in love with; I mean more than just lusted for, fell in love with. But at the same time, there was a much darker side to Bettie Page both in her professional and her personal life…”
Foster says in the 1950s, Page began doing bondage photography, which was illegal at the time. Later in her life, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put in a mental institution. But the pictures lived on, giving Page cult status. She inspired comic books, Web sites, and a movie about her life.
Doctors placed her on life support last week after she suffered a heart attack; she never regained consciousness. Bettie Page was 85.
Hollywood’s awards season is almost here. This morning, the Golden Globe nominations were revealed. KPCC’s Steve Julian has the results.
Steve Julian: Three movies were mentioned the most this morning: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “Doubt” each grabbed five Golden Globe nominations.
Doubt’s mostly up for acting awards, with Meryl Streep getting a nod for best dramatic actress. Streep, by the way, is also up for best comedic actress for her role in “Mamma Mia.”
“Benjamin Button” and “Frost/Nixon” are up for the best dramatic movie prize. So are “The Readers,” “Revolutionary Road,” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”
In the best dramatic actor category, Sean Penn earned a nod for his portrayal of gay rights advocate Harvey Milk. That was the movie’s only nomination.
One other movie received only one nomination even though it received a lot of buzz: The Dark Knight. The late Heath Ledger is competing for a supporting actor award.
The Golden Globes are on January 11th.
- December 11, 2008 11:29 AM
- Categories: Arts
The Screen Actors Guild plans to send out strike authorization ballots on January 2nd. More than 100,000 SAG members will receive ballots. Three quarters of those who cast ballots would need to vote yes in order to authorize a strike.
But SAG’s chief negotiator Doug Allen told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that even if that happens, it doesn’t mean the union will strike.
Doug Allen: “A vote yes is not a decision to strike - it’s a decision to empower the national board to make that decision. And I would certainly anticipate that we would take a strong ‘yes’ vote by our members back to the bargaining table to use that, get an agreement if we could.”
The group representing film and television producers has claimed that SAG’s unwilling to accept a deal like those the Writers Guild and other unions have agreed to. Allen says that deal doesn’t address the issues that are important to his membership.
Allen says the biggest issue of dispute right now involves residuals for programming created for new media platforms.
The Screen Actors Guild will send strike authorization ballots to its members on January 2nd. SAG says it will count the votes on January 23rd.
Even if the rank file authorizes a strike, it doesn’t mean the union will call one. SAG’s chief negotiator Doug Allen told KPCC’s Larry Mantle that the vote is a negotiating tool.
Doug Allen: “There is the misconception on the part of management that we’re not capable of doing this and I hope that when we demonstrate that we are that it will help us move the bargaining process forward and get an agreement.”
Three-quarters of voting members would need to vote yes to authorize a strike.
SAG is holding town-hall style meetings to answer members’ questions. The next Southern California meeting will be a week from today at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel.
The year’s not over yet – but film critics in L.A. have seen enough to make their “Best of 2008” picks. KPCC’s Nick Roman has some highlights from the L.A. Film Critics Association list of winners.
Nick Roman: KPCC listeners know more than a few of the Association’s 50 or so members. Lael Lowenstein, Andy Klein, Peter Rainier, Henry Sheehan, and others review the latest flicks each Friday on AirTalk’s “FilmWeek.”
Here’s the L.A. Film Critics Association pick for the Best Picture this year: “Wall-E” – the Disney/Pixar animated movie about a robot that falls in love. Runner-up was “The Dark Knight” – the second installment in the new Batman series.
Speaking of “The Dark Knight” – the L.A. critics gave the late Heath Ledger the Best Supporting Actor nod for his violently chilling role as The Joker. Sean Penn – the star of “Milk” – was picked as Best Actor.
Sally Hawkins was the Best Actress choice for her portrayal of a British schoolteacher in “Happy-Go-Lucky.” The L.A. film critics present their awards next month. Do they predict the Oscars? Last year, their choices for Best Actor and Actress took home Academy Awards.
- December 10, 2008 11:58 AM
- Categories: Arts
Music lovers of every age may find something to enjoy at a free concert tomorrow night in Beverly Hills. More from KPCC’s Hettie Lynne Hurtes.
Hettie Lynne Hurtes: One of the oldest youth orchestras in the nation, the Junior Philharmonic, is presenting a musical journey from Mozart to Duke Ellington at the Beverly Hills High School Auditorium. This concert also features Handel’s Water Music, along with selections from the Broadway musicals “The King and I” and “Les Miserables.”
The Junior Philharmonic’s operated in Los Angeles for more than 70 years. The ensemble includes talented young musicians between the ages of 12 and 25. The concert starts Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but you do need reservations. More info is available on their Web site.
- December 9, 2008 4:44 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Screen Actors Guild has called its members to a closed-door meeting tonight. The leadership is trying to convince the rank and file to authorize a strike.
After a months-long impasse in talks with the major studios, analysts expect SAG to hold a strike authorization vote later this month. Seventy-five percent of those who vote would have to authorize a strike. Hollywood journalist Alex Ben Block says the outcome is uncertain.
Alex Ben Block: “Despite the economic crises going on in this country, it’s almost unthinkable they could go out on strike, but it’s a very real threat. And the possibility of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild, that could paralyze Hollywood.”
Ben Block is editor-at-large for the Hollywood Reporter. He spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
President Abraham Lincoln never set foot in California, but he wanted to and probably would have if he hadn’t been assassinated. Susan Ogle is with the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington. Its new exhibit is about Lincoln’s ties to the Golden State. The 16th president greatly appreciated the gold California sent east to help pay for the Civil War.
Susan Ogle: “About $5 million was raised during the Civil War. One fourth of it came from California. Our small population out here gave a quarter of what was raised. I think that’s amazing! It’s just so interesting. So Lincoln said he wanted to come out here and pay tribute and thank the people of California for what they had done.”
Ogle says Lincoln wasn’t just thinking about visiting. He was talking with his wife Mary about moving to California.
The exhibit will run for six months in honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday in February. It’s free Saturday as part of the museum’s annual Civil War Christmas, a living history event that re-creates the dress, decorations and toys of the time.
Events and exhibit run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If he hadn’t been assassinated, President Abraham Lincoln might have settled in California. That’s one of the facts featured in a new exhibit focusing on Lincoln’s ties to the Golden State.
Susan Ogle is with the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington. She says Lincoln had close friends here, and he was grateful to the state for helping to fund the Civil War. California gold paid for a quarter of the Union’s costs.
Susan Ogle: “The most interesting part for me was that on the last day of his life, Lincoln talked to several people from California. Had conversations about what was happening out here politically, about what was happening out here that he was interested in, and he talked to his wife Mary about settling in California after the end of his presidency. He thought California was the land of opportunity.”
The exhibit opens Saturday at the Civil War museum. It runs for six months to honor Lincoln’s 200th birthday in February.
Tickets are free this weekend to coincide with the museum’s annual holiday activities, which include a re-creation of a Civil War-era Christmas.
In this season of giving, here’s a gift from two Southland arts organizations: a free family concert tomorrow east of downtown Los Angeles. Details from KPCC’s Hettie Lynne Hurtes.
Hettie Lynne Hurtes: It’s part of Music Unwrapped, a series that allows audiences to learn about music through performance and interaction with prominent musicians and composers. The concerts are a collaboration between Southwest Chamber Music and the Luckman Fine Arts Complex.
Internationally recognized guitarist John Schneider will explain the evolution of the classical guitar and present examples from its vast repertoire, from Bach to Mason Williams. He’ll also take audience questions from the stage of Luckman’s Intimate Theatre at Cal State Los Angeles.
For more information you can go online to SWMusic.org.
Note: The concert begins tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock.
- December 5, 2008 3:09 PM
- Categories: Arts
A display of 11,000 digital lights is launching L.A. Live’s grand opening ceremony tonight.
High school freshman Robert Gomez says he’s heard about the two-and-a-half-billion dollar entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles. He’s been to the Nokia Theatre and he’s noticed the entertainment district’s bowling alley. But he doesn’t get it when promoters compare the zone to one of New York City’s premier tourist destinations.
Robert Gomez: “Well, I don’t know about Times Square. I think it’s pretty exciting. To be honest, I don’t really come here much. I’m mainly at home, stuck at home.”
L.A. Live developers hope to appeal to local audiences and convention and business travelers. When the district’s finished next spring, it’ll include a salsa club, upscale restaurants and lounges, and hundreds of hotel rooms.
Small business owners in downtown Los Angeles hope the new L.A. Live entertainment complex will supercharge their cash registers.
Mario Daggett opened Downtown Custom Tattoo a year ago. It’s a few blocks away from the entertainment zone. Daggett says he’s already extended his evening hours in anticipation of more foot traffic.
Mario Daggett: “Our hours are from 12 in the afternoon ‘til 10 at night, and we’re thinking about staying open until midnight. You know, it’s gonna bring a lot more life out here, a lot more people out here, a lot more business, you know? It’s gonna bring the economy up, too, I think.”
Developers boast that the $2.5 billion L.A. Live will become the West Coast version of New York’s Times Square.
The 4 million square-foot district is situated around the Staples Center. Its attractions include an interactive Grammy Museum and an expanded version of the popular salsa club the Conga Room.
It’s not the ball dropping at Times Square, but downtown Los Angeles boosters are hoping for a big turnout tonight at L.A. Live’s grand opening ceremony. The $2.5 billion entertainment complex near Staples Center includes concert venues, restaurants, lounges, and a museum tracing the history of the Grammy Awards.
Marshall Mitchell doesn’t live in the Southland. But he visits L.A. at least twice a month for his public relations firm.
Marshall Mitchell: “Generally when I come to L.A. I’m not downtown, so something like this draws me down other than a Lakers game. You know, the usual things that are going on here at the convention center, so it definitely would be a lure for me.”
The ceremony starts at 7 o’clock. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and singer Natalie Cole will help flip the switch on the plaza’s digital holiday light display.
The lights go on at L.A. Live tonight and developers hope the complex will transform downtown Los Angeles. The $2.5 billion entertainment district near the Staples Center will house a trendy bowling alley, upscale restaurants, and lounges.
Mary Lewis lives 40 miles north of downtown in Canyon Country. She says she’s not likely to visit often, but she thinks L.A. Live will be great for people who live downtown.
Mary Lewis: “And I think that’ll bring more people to the downtown area. They’ll rejuvenate down here and I think – maybe it’ll become like Chicago downtown!”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and singer Natalie Cole will help flip the switch on the plaza’s “Light of the Angels” digital light display tonight at 7.
The development downtown boosters are comparing to New York City’s Times Square – L.A. Live – officially opens tonight.
Developers hope the $2.5 billion entertainment district will add new life after dark to the city center. High school teacher Mary Ann Avila said she hopes it’ll generate jobs for some of her students.
Mary Ann Avila: “That’s another thing that would be good, you know? An avenue for them to get some extra money and spend it! (laughs) Or, help with their college education. Yeah!”
A handful of restaurants and trendy venues in the complex - including the Nokia Theater concert hall – have been open for months. More attractions are on the way. L.A. Live’s grand opening and holiday tree lighting ceremony begin at 5 o’clock.
The Screen Actors Guild’s leadership is preparing to send members a ballot to authorize a strike. Seventy-five-percent of members would have to authorize it.
KPCC’s Brian Watt says a moderate faction of the Guild is letting its supporters know how important that vote is.
Brian Watt: The Unite for Strength faction seized a slim majority on the Guild’s National Board in an election three months ago. The new board chose to try federal mediation in SAG’s stalled contract talks with film and television producers.
But Unite for Strength has little say on SAG’s negotiating committee – which concluded that mediation had failed. That’s what triggered the strike authorization vote.
Amy Aquino: Unite for Strength is not taking a position on the strike authorization per se. Too large a group, too many different feelings.
Watt: Amy Aquino is a founding member of Unite for Strength. Aquino co-wrote an e-mail message to the faction’s supporters.
Aquino: It’s really, really vital that a) everyone vote and b) that when they do vote, that vote is informed.
Watt: Aquino said the faction will be making sure SAG members don’t overlook their ballots in a sea of holiday cards.
The Rose Parade fills the streets and motels of Pasadena every year, and the unveiling of the Rose Queen is a huge event.
But the Rose Parade has an irreverent cousin: the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, and KPCC’s John Rabe has the scoop on the leader of that parade.
John Rabe: KPCC has learned that the grand marshal of the Doo Dah Parade on January 18th will be – well, let’s let him tell you.
Charles Phoenix: I’m very delighted to tell you that I’m the grand marshal of the Doo Dah Paade.
Phoenix: Well, thank you.
Rabe: That’s NPR commentator and Off-Ramp regular Charles Phoenix, who made his name presenting other people’s vacation photos in well-received slide shows. The Doo Dah Parade was designed to poke gentle fun at the seriousness of the Rose Parade, so it’s entirely fitting that Phoenix has higher goals.
Phoenix: Frankly, I’m using the Doo Dah Parade as a stepping stone. A stepping stone to my greatest goal in life, which is to be the grand marshal of the Rose Parade.
Rabe: Also unlike the Rose Parade, you can make your own float – find out how at PasadenaDooDahParade.info.
- December 3, 2008 11:30 AM
- Categories: Arts
AIDS has claimed the lives of many visual and performing artists. For 19 years, art galleries and museums across the country have marked December 1 as “A Day Without Art” to highlight the disease’s impact on society. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more on today’s observance.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: For the first “A Day Without Art,” New York painter Keith Haring finished a mural at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design. Haring died a year later of complications from AIDS. He was 31 years old.
There’s a long list of artists in their prime who’ve died from the disease, and this day honors them, says Rainer Mack, the head of education at the Getty Villa in Malibu.
Rainer Mack: This is our 19th year of observing Day Without Art, so it’s something that we certainly think important, and that we have come to think of as a tradition and that we like to do. This is a little bit of an odd year because December 1 falls on a Monday and the Getty Center is closed.
Guzman-Lopez: So are most other museums and galleries. The Getty Villa is open, and it’s observing A Day Without Art by shrouding in black cloth an ancient Greek marble sculpture called “Harp Player.”
- December 1, 2008 2:13 PM
- Categories: Arts
Family-owned businesses face particular challenges when the economy lags. But shops that provide unusual services may be exempt. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez found that out when he visited an establishment in Long Beach.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: World of Strings has sold and repaired guitars, violins, and double basses for more than 40 years.
Shop owner Jon Peterson tests a $3,500 student double bass after he works on its bridge. Some symphony musicians only trust him with their instruments. Peterson says his eight-employee business is stable.
Jon Peterson: There’s a little bit of a slump. But you know, I think it’s an overall kind of thing. But we’re still moving along.
Guzman-Lopez: Sales are down, but repair work keeps coming in. Ninety double basses in various stages of playability attest to that.
Peterson: We try to track to what people are interested in, try to keep those things available, try to keep a friendly shop, make it a place to come.
Guzman-Lopez: Peterson says customer service has helped him weather the downturn better than other shops. He wouldn’t talk about his annual sales - but he says that when he does retire, he’ll be fine.
Weather permitting, L.A.’s Griffith Park will be the setting for an evening stroll under the holiday lights, starting tomorrow night.
KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says that through Sunday, December 7th, pedestrians will have the annual Holiday Light Festival all to themselves.
Cheryl Devall: For the 13th year of the light show, walkers will be able to enjoy the mile-long route through Griffith Park without having to share the road with cars. Festival organizers suggest that visitors wear jackets for the cool weather, and comfortable shoes. Next weekend, the final three pedestrian-only nights will include a family fair with refreshments and information about fun activities for all ages.
The free attraction, a Southland seasonal favorite sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, is open from 5 to 10 every evening. Starting Monday, December 8th, cars, vans, light trucks, and riders on horseback will be welcome at the Holiday Light Festival… every night through December 30th.
Note: Bicycle riders get the park tonight until 10 for another zero-emissions tradition - the light festival’s bike-only preview.
An attorney convicted in a high-profile Hollywood wiretapping case landed a three-year federal prison sentence today. Details from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: Private investigator Anthony Pellicano used to brag about his star-studded clientele. He used unconventional methods to dig dirt on and intimidate potential adversaries of celebrities, including action star Sylvester Stallone and comedian Chris Rock.
In August a federal jury convicted Pellicano and lawyer Terry Christensen of conspiring to wiretap the phone calls of the former wife of billionaire developer Kirk Kerkorian in a dispute over paternity and child support. Christensen said little during his sentencing hearing, except to refer to a written statement in which he expressed remorse for having done business with Pellicano.
The judge sentenced Christensen to three years in prison, three years probation and a quarter-million dollar fine. He’s free on $100,000 bond pending an appeal. Pellicano’s scheduled for sentencing next month. He may face prison time for a separate wiretapping and racketeering conviction.
A federal mediator was no help. Contract talks broke down over the weekend between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers. KPCC’s Brian Watt says the Guild plans now to ask its members to authorize a strike.
Brian Watt: Both sides issued dueling statements in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The Guild accused the producers alliance of continuing to insist on terms SAG’s negotiating committee could not “responsibly accept” on behalf of members.
Now it plans to wage an education campaign to convince its members to vote for a strike. The Guild’s statement says it’s still committed to avoiding a strike, but can’t allow the producers to “experiment” with actors’ careers.
The producers alliance accused SAG of asking its members to bail out a failed negotiating strategy and of tone deafness at a time of historic economic crisis. SAG did not set a timeline for the strike authorization vote, but the process is expected to take at least 30 days. Seventy-five percent of voters must approve a strike.
Priceless artifacts from the University College of London’s Egyptian collection are making their debut in the United States this year. The exhibit began its exclusive West Coast appearance this past weekend at Cal State San Bernardino. KPCC’s Steven Cuevas has more.
Steven Cuevas: More than 200 objects are on display, including what’s believed to be the world’s oldest dress.
Eva Kirsch: It’s almost 5,000 years old.
Cuevas: Eva Kirsch is director of the Robert Fullerton Museum at Cal State San Bernardino. She’s also the curator of the “Excavating Egypt” exhibit.
Kirsch: It’s an Old Kingdom beaded knit dress that was put over and under dress as an adornment. It’s a very rare object and it looks gorgeous on display.
Cuevas: The bead-knit dress, gold mummy masks, funerary statues, jewelry – these antiquities were excavated over half a century ago by legendary British archeologist Sir William Petrie and his successors. Petrie is considered the father of modern archeology, someone who valued Egypt’s history as much as he did her buried treasures. Eva Kirsch:
Kirsch: He was very innovative in teaching not only the students but also the workers who worked with him. I mean he kind of developed the early methodology for archeology that a lot of scholars and archeologist actually use today. The exhibit has many different layers and stories to tell, but he is the unifying element.
Cuevas: The exhibit is “Excavating Egypt.” It runs through February at Cal State San Bernardino’s Robert Fullerton Museum. If you miss it, you can always view the Fullerton’s permanent collection of more than a thousand other Egyptian antiquities.
- November 24, 2008 12:42 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Southland college that’s produced the world’s top car designers and Southern California’s largest car museum are partnering for the first time. The exhibition’s called “Imagining the Future” and it opened this weekend. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Graduates of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design have gone on to design the new Volkswagen Beetle, the old Batmobile, and the Ferrari Enzo.
The Art Center-designed permanent exhibit at L.A.’s Petersen Automotive Museum will allow visitors to step into a fully equipped auto design studio of the past and present. Stewart Reed, chair of Art Center’s transportation design department, says the intent is to shed light on his well-paid profession.
Stewart Reed: So by being able to see how the process works and how in fact there is this hybrid profession that is sort of right in the middle of art and technology is quite exciting. So we’re as excited that the students will see it as we are that the educators that bring the student groups will see it.
Guzman-Lopez: The exhibit will run indefinitely. In January, Art Center students will begin offering demonstrations on how to design the cars of the future.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are returning to the negotiating table tomorrow. KPCC’s Brian Watt says they’re talking for the first time in four months.
Brian Watt: The issues holding up a deal haven’t changed. SAG wants to represent actors for all productions destined only for the Internet and to protect its members during work stoppages.
The producers alliance says the final contract offer it made to SAG four months ago was as good as deals already ratified by the Directors and Writers Guilds, and the other actors union, AFTRA.
The players on either side haven’t changed much, either. Doug Allen is SAG’s chief negotiator and Nick Counter represents the producers. But now there’s a man in the middle.
Federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzales has been meeting separately with both sides since last month. Now, he’s bringing them together for what some observers believe is just a formality.
If SAG’s negotiating committee decides that mediation isn’t working, it can ask the Guild’s rank-and-file members to authorize a strike. That voting process would take at least a month.
Note: The producers alliance just added another contract agreement to its collection: It’s reached a tentative three-year deal with the union representing stagecraft workers, film and television technicians and artists.
Trustees of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art convened a closed-door meeting today. They’re addressing an emergency. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says the slumping economy has hit the museum hard, and cash to keep its doors open is running out fast.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Independent auditors told Museum of Contemporary Art officials earlier this year something they already knew – that the museum was having a tough time coming up with the money to stay open. Auditors warned that MOCA couldn’t continue dipping into restricted funds to pay operating expenses without replenishing the pot of money.
Museum director Jeremy Strick declined an interview. He told the Los Angeles Times the nearly 30-year-old museum has cut some expenses and is scrambling for large donations. Strick added that a takeover – with conditions – by a larger, healthier arts organization isn’t out of the question. The financial hit to MOCA’s endowment is unclear. The Times reports that about a year ago that endowment had dropped $16 million in seven years.
The money may be in eclipse, but the art remains a supernova. The museum holds prime works by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Area artists still refer to Helter Skelter, a show of L.A. art 15 years ago, as a watershed. MOCA’s thematic shows also garner international acclaim.
There’s been all sorts of political fallout from the passage of Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in California. In Sacramento, it led to the resignation this week of the popular artistic director of the California Musical Theatre.
Scott Eckern is a Mormon, and had given a thousand dollars to the Yes on 8 campaign. That touched off an uproar, and a number of artists had threatened to boycott the theatre. Adrienne Sher is an actor and director in Sacramento.
Adrienne Sher: “It’s just terribly sad for everybody here. It’s divided the gay community, it’s divided the theater community, it’s divided all those who oppose Proposition 8. It’s just been a tragic situation here.”
Sher spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” Eckern said he decided to resign “to help the healing in the theater community.”
Governor Schwarzenegger has announced he’s appointed a Southland bard to serve as California’s next poet laureate.
More on the story from KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: University of Southern California English professor Carol Muske-Dukes will be the state’s next top poet. Muske-Dukes has taught at USC for 20 years. She founded the university’s graduate writing program almost a decade ago.
She’s written seven books of poetry. The most recent one, Sparrow, is a poetic meditation on marriage dedicated to her late husband, the actor David Dukes. Muske-Dukes has also written four novels. The most recent, Channeling Mark Twain, is based on her experience teaching writing to female inmates at New York’s Riker’s Island jail during the early 1970s.
She’s an advocate for poetry in the classroom, as a literary critic and in frequent public readings. Carol Muske-Dukes will have two years to carry out that calling statewide as the new California poet laureate.
- November 14, 2008 3:15 PM
- Categories: Arts
It’s a big awards night tonight for Latin music. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The ninth annual Latin Grammy awards are handed out in Houston tonight. The 49 categories include nominations for best rock, classical, children’s, and Christian music acts. Soprano saxophonist Kenny G is up for an award for his Rhythm & Romance album, an instrumental tour through Latin American music.
Long Beach native Jenni Rivera is one of the few Southland acts nominated. She’s the only woman in the “Best Ranchero Album” category that’s dominated by very macho Mexican singers, including the legendary Vicente Fernandez and younger star Pepe Aguilar.
Future L.A. Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel is nominated in the Best Classical Album category conducting the Venezuelan youth orchestra that introduced him to the world and got the attention of leaders of the L.A. Phil.
- November 13, 2008 4:34 PM
- Categories: Arts
Orange County’s 22-year-old opera company appears to have sung its last aria. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says the economic downturn’s to blame.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Three years ago Opera Pacific presented Rossini’s “The Italian Girl of Algiers.” That opera’s rescue theme may have worked better this year. Here’s the organization’s voicemail message.
Opera Pacific voicemail message: Thank you for calling. Opera Pacific appreciates your years of patronage and is saddened to report the cancellation of the remainder of the 2008-2009 season.
Guzman-Lopez: The last few seasons, Opera Pacific had relied on big donors to make ends meet. In this tough economy, opera officials told the Los Angeles Times, they couldn’t raise enough money to cover half of a roughly $8 million budget. So they’re moving to sell off assets, and they harbor slim hope for a tearless ending.
Up the freeway, the Pasadena Symphony cancelled four concerts this season but hasn’t shut down. Symphony officials say investments they depended on to pay for the season are eroding fast.
For the second time in a couple of weeks, Southland arts organizations have announced plans to coordinate programming, marketing, and more around a major event. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the story.
Cheryl Devall: Ring up another big cultural collaboration. The Los Angeles Opera is joining with more than 50 arts and educational non-profits to get the maximum bang from its production of Wagner’s four-opera Ring Cycle.
The spring after next, institutions including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Griffith Observatory, the Latino Museum, and crosstown rivals UCLA and USC will present a 10-week festival inspired by the epic operas. Local cultural leaders predict it could rival the Olympic Arts Festival launched in 1984.
Late last week, museums from San Diego to Santa Barbara announced a coordinated series of exhibitions on art in L.A. during the decades that followed World War II. In both collaborations, philanthropy plays a big role. Almost $3 million from the Getty Foundation is fostering the museums’ effort. The opera project’s gotten a $6 million boost from benefactor Eli Broad.
- November 3, 2008 2:57 PM
- Categories: Arts
The new film “The Changeling” opens today. Based on a true story about a mother searching for her missing child, the movie also tells the story of Riverside County killer Stewart Northcott. In the late 1920s Northcott abducted and sexually enslaved more than 20 children. He killed at least four of them, one with the help of his mother.
A new book documents the killer’s sensational trial and his final days on death row. Author James Jeffrey Paul says there are reasons we’re as fascinated with real-life monsters like Stewart Northcott as we are with fictional ones like Frankenstein or the Wolfman.
James Jeffrey Paul: “Stewart, well criminals in general, are just an extreme manifestation of this little raging demon inside all of us. These elements: human egoism, motherly love, and all these very human ordinarily elements were there in the story But, you could see them so clearly because they were carried to a nightmare extreme.”
That’s true crime writer James Jeffrey Paul. The title of his new book about killer Stewart Northcott is “Nothing is Strange with You.”
Link: The Changeling
Contract talks between the Screen Actors Guild and The Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers have been at a standstill for more than three months.
The SAGa continues tomorrow when a federal mediator is scheduled to meet with the producers alliance. KPCC’s Brian Watt has this update.
Brian Watt: SAG called for the federal mediator, and a few days later, the producers said, “of course.” But they also said they’re being realistic about how the mediation process will go.
Not so well, the producers said, if SAG continues to insist on driving a harder bargain than the writers, directors, and the other actors union, AFTRA. And, the producers point out, they reached deals with those unions during better economic times.
Federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez met with SAG’s leaders late last week. Now, it’s the producers’ turn. The most recent feature film and primetime TV contract between the two expired June 30th, but SAG members continue to work under its terms.
SAG’s board has decided that if mediation doesn’t work, it’ll put the strike question to the guild’s members. If that happens, three- quarters of the voters would have to authorize a strike.
Sixteen Southland museums and cultural institutions announced today a major collaboration that’ll lead to a series of exhibitions on Southern California contemporary art. L.A.’s Getty Foundation granted nearly $3 million to mount the shows in two-and-a-half years. Deborah Marrow is the foundation’s director.
Deborah Marrow: “We cared so much about our home region, and yet here’s an area in which our home region was in the vanguard of international art movements, and yet not that many people know that.”
The shows will focus on the groundbreaking work of painters, commercial designers, and video and other artists who worked in Southern California between 1945 and 1980. Each institution will highlight a different topic or set of artists. UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center and the California African American Museum will focus on contributions by black and Latino artists.
Technology’s changed the way authors transmit their creative work to readers. A group of writers gathered in Los Angeles during the weekend to talk about how writers are pushing the medium. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Fifty years ago, abstract expressionist and minimalist artists destroyed existing definitions of painting. Mattias Viegener, a Cal Arts writing professor and organizer of the writing conference, says a group of writers is doing the same in that field. He presents Exhibit A: the Korean and American writers who comprise the creative team Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.
Mattias Viegener: One of the things they do is they produce these fabulous animated texts, these flash texts. It’s both a kind of writing and a kind of cinema because they’re mostly on video or easy to see online but the text flashes by your eyes almost at the exact pace at which you can read it, word by word and sometimes letter by letter.
Guzman-Lopez: Viegener says experimental writers aren’t fighting for space at the bookstore in your locale. Their innovations, though, are turning up in the works of authors with books on bestseller lists.
- October 27, 2008 5:25 PM
- Categories: Arts
One of the most distinctive buildings in Los Angeles marks its fifth birthday today. Skye Rohde says the Walt Disney Concert Hall first opened its doors to the public on October 23rd, 2003.
Skye Rohde: Since its gala opening, Walt Disney Concert Hall has offered great acoustics, a diverse selection of live music, and a distinctive building to explore.
Steve Roundtree is president and CEO of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, owner of the facility. He describes it as a pinnacle of the Southland arts landscape.
Steve Roundtree: Disney Hall played central role in revitalizing Grand Avenue and leading to being a catalyst for the Grand Avenue Project. And tourism. We have 40 to 50 thousand people a year who arrive here just to see Disney Hall, not to go to a concert.
Rohde: The place hasn’t scheduled any big events to mark this birthday. The L.A. Philharmonic isn’t even in town right now – it’s on tour in Asia. The Music Center is focusing on its next big transition, when Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel takes up the baton from longtime L.A. Phil music director Esa-Pekka Salonen next season.
- October 23, 2008 12:12 PM
- Categories: Arts
Pop goes the conservatory. USC’s Thornton School of Music is launching one of the first university-level degree programs in the country to concentrate on popular song. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: Most universities that offer music degrees focus on classical theory, composition, and performance. Jazz has also made its way into the academy. But rock, country, and rhythm and blues have had a harder time winning higher-ed respect.
The Thornton School at USC is about to change that. Starting next academic year, the music school will offer a bachelor’s degree in popular music. It’s designed to help would-be performers and producers make their way in the hotly competitive, rapidly changing music business, department officials say.
The faculty will include songwriters and performers from Motown, Nashville, and, of course, Hollywood. USC will audition applicants for the program in January.
The national board of directors for SAG – the Screen Actors Guild – met over the weekend. KPCC’s Brian Watt says the board hopes its decisions will jumpstart contract talks that have stalled with film and television producers.
Brian Watt:The Guild will first call for a federal mediator in its negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV producers. The two sides negotiated for about a month and a half and couldn’t reach a deal. SAG members have been working under the terms of a film and primetime TV contract that expired at the end of June.
If a federal mediator can’t broker a deal, then SAG’s rank and file members get to decide whether they’re ready to go on strike. SAG’s board voted nearly unanimously, 96 to 3 percent, to call a strike authorization vote, if SAG’s Negotiating Committee decides federal mediation isn’t working. If such a vote takes place, it would take 75 percent of members who vote to authorize a strike.
The world’s best known fashion critic has died. Mr. Blackwell spent the last 40 years decrying the clothes worn by top celebrities. KPCC’s Steve Julian has more.
Steve Julian: Mr. Blackwell once said Meryl Streep looked like “a gypsy abandoned by a caravan.” He described Ann Margret as “a Hells Angel escapee who invaded the Ziegfeld Follies on a rainy night.” And of Sharon Stone, Mr. Blackwell said she looked like “an over-the-hill Cruella DeVille.”
As to critics who said he was too cruel, Mr. Blackwell claimed it was never his intention to hurt the feelings of the people he judged, but to put down the clothes they wore. His annual list of the worst-dressed dates back to 1960. It brought him the celebrity he craved, but couldn’t generate as an actor. Richard Blackwell recounted in his autobiography a troubled, poor childhood in which he was a truant, thief, and prostitute.
Mr. Blackwell has died in Los Angeles. The fashion critic was best known for his annual list of the worst-dressed celebrities. KPCC’s Steve Julian reports.
Steve Julian: Mr. Blackwell was born Richard Sylvan Selzer in 1922. He’d hoped to be an actor, but gave up that pursuit in 1958 when he turned to fashion. In 1960, he issued his first faux pas list of fashion, and the celebrity he long coveted was his.
Mr. Blackwell became a regular on the talk show circuit, appearing many times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, whom he sued in 1992 after Carson claimed Blackwell had put Mother Theresa on his list. Among the celebrities he did skewer are Barbra Streisand, saying she looked like a “masculine Bride of Frankenstein,” and Madonna, calling her the “bare-bottomed bore of Babylon.” Richard Blackwell died of an intestinal infection. He was 86.
One of the world’s most distinguished organists will perform in Costa Mesa Sunday. Olivier Latry, a titular organist at the Cathedral of Notre Dam in Paris, will present the first complete solo recital on the new pipe organ at Segerstrom Concert Hall. More from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: It’s a 30-ton instrument with more than 4,000 pipes. Who better to break it in than Olivier Latry? He plays one of the world’s oldest and most famous cathedral organs, which boasts nearly 8,000 pipes. He’ll perform a little Bach, then the music of French composers, and end the concert with improvisation in the French organist tradition.
Olivier Latry: French music is really, really colorful and quite actual. I think they will have a good time if they come, because they will see the work of the organist, which is also very nice because we work with the hand and feet. This is sports to play the organ.
Baer: You’re saying it’s very physical?
Latry: Yes. It’s a real performance in any way. I think it’s nice to see as much as to hear.
Baer: To prepare, Latry says, he stretches vigorously and eats a lot of pasta or other carbs.
The concert at the Orange County Center for the Performing Arts begins Sunday at 2. For ticket information, visit their Web site
- October 17, 2008 6:27 PM
- Categories: Arts
The TV quiz show scandals of a half-century ago failed to tarnish the reputation of host Jack Narz. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the durable personality, who died yesterday in Los Angeles.
Cheryl Devall: Fifty years back, Jack Narz was the host of “Dotto,” a connect-the-dots quiz that was so popular CBS ran it in daytime while a primetime version aired on NBC. About a year into the show’s run, a contestant went to authorities with his suspicion that some competitors were getting the answers in advance.
The networks quickly dropped the show, and Narz took a lie detector test that proved to a grand jury he hadn’t known the game was rigged. The brother and brother-in-law of game show hosts went on to emcee a succession of programs through the 1970s, including “Beat the Clock” and “Concentration.”
Years after he left the spotlight, Jack Narz surfaced at celebrity golf tournaments and in documentaries about the game show scandals of the 1950s. He lived to see those shows regain their popularity in network prime time. Narz was 85 years old when he died from complications of a stroke.
Filmmaker Oliver Stone spoke to KPCC’s “Patt Morrison” today about his new movie about President Bush.
Oliver Stone: “We’re at war in two countries; really three countries. We have war on terrorism is declared, plus there is an economic global financial impact to all these policies. This is a huge, huge change in the last eight years. So if we don’t make a movie about what’s going on right now, I think… you know we’re ignoring it; we’re ignoring what’s happening.”
The movie stars Josh Brolin as George W. Bush and Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney. Stone told the Los Angeles Times that it’s a “human portrait of a man; not meant to insult people who believe in what Bush believes in.”
Stone’s movie opens next week in Los Angeles.
Oliver Stone’s movie about President Bush opens in Los Angeles next week. Stone spoke with KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.”
Oliver Stone: “Because this man has changed this world for all, for us, for the world. It’s may… I mean we’re in a position when he goes in January, well, whoever becomes president is gonna be living in the shadow of what Bush Jr. W. did.”
Stone told the Los Angeles Times that the movie is a “comedy only in the sense of tragic comedy.” Stone said, “You laugh in your mind because Bush is a goof-ball, because he’s awkward, but at the same time he has a stubbornness, a John Wayne ethos.”
Tyler Perry’s TV show “House of Payne” has caused some pain for four of its writers. As KPCC’s Brian Watt tells us, the Writers Guild is now fighting back.
Brian Watt: The Writers Guild has been trying to negotiate a contract to cover the scribes on “House of Payne” and Perry’s program “Meet the Browns.” It says Perry’s production company, also called House of Payne, has been bargaining in bad faith.
The Guild also alleges the company fired four writers, including “House of Payne“‘s head writer Kellie Griffin, in retaliation for participating in the organizing effort. The Guild has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
A lawyer for Tyler Perry told the Hollywood Reporter the four writers lost their jobs due to poor work performance. Tyler Perry plans to hold a grand opening for new production studios this weekend in Atlanta. The four writers say they’ll be there with supporters to picket the event.
The Screen Actors Guild’s negotiating committee has decided to make the first move towards a strike against film and television producers. KPCC’s Brian Watt has the story.
Brian Watt: SAG’s negotiating committee passed a motion late yesterday advising the Guild’s national board to call for a strike authorization vote. SAG represents more than 120,000 members, and three quarters of voters would have to approve a strike.
But first, SAG’s national board has to go for it, with a simple majority. The 71 member body is scheduled to meet in about 2 weeks. A recent election has changed the composition of the board to give a more conciliatory faction of the union, Unite for Strength, more power. But the more confrontational “Membership First” faction still controls the negotiating committee.
Its motion not only calls for the vote, but prods the National Board to strongly support strike authorization. The Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers began its statement in response with a question: “Is this really the time for anyone associated with the entertainment business to be talking about going on strike?”
The Screen Actors Guild’s negotiating committee is meeting this afternoon, but not with negotiators from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. KPCC’s Brian Watt has this update.
Brian Watt: SAG’s negotiators have to figure out what to do next. Guild president Alan Rosenberg and chief negotiator Doug Allen wrote a letter earlier this week to Robert Iger of Disney, Peter Chernin of Fox, and Nick Counter, who heads the producers’ alliance.
SAG’s members wouldn’t ratify the producers’ final contract offer, the letter said. The union invited the producers back to the bargaining table to focus on three issues. Two of them concern productions destined for the Internet.
Nick Counter of the producers’ alliance replied that SAG didn’t appear prepared to change its position on any of the issues it wanted to discuss, so it wouldn’t make sense to resume contract talks. The two sides haven’t formally met since mid-July. SAG members have continued to work under the terms of the contract that expired July 1st. Three-quarters of SAG’s rank and file would have to vote to authorize a strike.
The City of Los Angeles has just cut the ribbon on a new youth center named after a native son who became a jazz giant. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Stand-up bass player Charles Mingus grew up in Watts in the years before World War II. The choir and group singing he heard in his youth inspired him to write orchestral jazz compositions including “Haitian Fight Song.”
[Music: “Haitian Fight Song”]
Guzman-Lopez: Before the world clued into his genius, the neighbors knew Mingus as a short-tempered man prone to fighting. Rosie Lee Hooks, director of the new Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, says Mingus’ musical gifts outweigh his personal failings.
Rosie Lee Hooks: Who cares about his reputation? Look at what he gave to the community and continues to give to the world.
Guzman-Lopez: Hooks and other arts advocates will have to compose their own fight songs. Their vision for the Charles Mingus Youth Center remains an unfinished composition. The center next to the Watts Towers needs more money for the string bass and other classes it’s designed to house.
Beverly Hills business owners and arts philanthropists Stewart and Linda Reznick announced today they’re donating $45 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum will use the money to build a large exhibition gallery at its Wilshire Boulevard campus. Lynda Reznick said she agreed with museum leaders that the institution needs more space to display art.
Lynda Reznick: “The reason for the exhibition pavilion is that we will attract great shows, assuming that the world survives after today. It’s pretty hairy watching the stock market tumble, I must say. Especially in these times when people, you know, the arts go first. They just do. And I’m so glad we can still be there for the city.”
Reznick said she and her husband plan to donate a number of works from their collection valued at about $10 million. She said she hasn’t decided what pieces they’ll be, but they’ll include some 18th century French paintings. Some of that work will be on display in two years when the pavilion opens.
- September 29, 2008 2:34 PM
- Categories: Arts
Two longtime arts philanthropists announced today they’re donating $45 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: It’s one of the largest gifts ever to the L.A. County Art Museum. Business owners Stewart and Lynda Resnick of Beverly Hills donated the money for a one-story exhibition pavilion on Wilshire Boulevard. It’s scheduled to open in about two years.
It would be a next door neighbor and sibling to the recently opened Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Italian architect Renzo Piano, known for his open, airy buildings, designed the Broad museum and will design the new structure. The new Resnick exhibition pavilion would house traveling and special exhibitions.
Lynda Resnick told the Los Angeles Times she hopes the building will do more to add a welcoming touch to the sprawling museum campus. The new building’s construction follows five years after LACMA abandoned plans to tear down most of its buildings and build a structure by unconventional Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. The museum was unable to secure enough donations, or to help pass a county tax for that project’s $300 million price tag.
- September 29, 2008 12:30 PM
- Categories: Arts
If you’re eager for some old-fashioned movie action, pilgrim, saddle up and ride over to USC for a festival focusing on Trojan standout John Wayne. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the event starting tonight.
Cheryl Devall: It’s the 100th anniversary of John Wayne’s birthday. The University of Southern California’s paying tribute to the Glendale High graduate who landed a Trojan football scholarship back in the day. His given name was Marion Morrison, but as his tough-guy screen persona evolved, few hombres dared to call him “Marion” to his face.
The films on the festival schedule range from Saturday matinee serials Wayne made in the early 1930s to the roles that established him as a movie icon: the vengeful Confederate veteran in “The Searchers.” The love-struck ex-boxer in “The Quiet Man.” The do-or-die Marine drill sergeant in “The Sands of Iwo Jima.” And many more.
The weekend at USC’s Norris Cinema Theatre also includes panel discussions with filmmakers and critics, film scholars, and people who knew the namesake of the Orange County airport up close and personal. Admission is free, but reservations are required.
The president of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design is leaving the institution effective immediately. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the departure of Richard Koshalek.
Cheryl Devall: Trustees of the Art Center agreed to release Richard Koshalek from his contract more than a year early. During nine years as president, Koshalek sought to raise the profile of a college known largely for its graduates in automotive, industrial, and entertainment industry design.
The former director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art also wanted to build. His plans for the college included a $50 million library commission for Disney Hall architect Frank Gehry. But Koshalek’s priorities for the Art Center clashed with those of students, faculty, and alumni, including some board members. On Internet discussion boards and e-mail petitions, many of his critics called for more emphasis on fundraising for scholarships and academic programs.
In June, the board of trustees decided not to renew Koshalek’s contract. They’ve begun the search for a new president, and they’re planning to appoint an interim president soon.
At this time of year, ballet schools and companies are getting ready for their biggest annual production: “The Nutcracker.” KPCC’s Hettie Lynne Hurtes has word about one of those companies in the Southland.
Hettie Lynne Hurtes: Media City Ballet in Burbank is holding open-call auditions for a female dancer to portray Clara, one of the leads in this holiday favorite. The company’s looking for dancers between 16 and 22 years old, 5 feet 4 inches and under, with classical training. Dancers who pass the solo portion of the audition may be asked to stay to partner with another dancer and remain for callbacks.
Media City Ballet has been a cultural staple in Burbank for 7 years. The company mounts three major productions a year, including the Nutcracker.
Auditions are Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Performances are scheduled for December 6 and 7 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.
- September 19, 2008 6:04 PM
- Categories: Arts
Warm up your singing voice, and get that nun’s habit or Nazi uniform out of the closet. Tonight’s the night for the “Sound of Music” Singalong at the Hollywood Bowl. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde spoke with the actress who played Liesl in the original movie.
Kitty Felde: Charmian Carr is a little older than she was when she played the oldest Von Trapp daughter in the 1965 film. These days, she’s an interior designer who specializes in medical facilities. But for the past eight years, she’s been leading the singing, and judging the costumes, at “Sound of Music” sing-alongs around the world. Carr says the costumes have gotten more elaborate.
Charmian Carr: This person, because I couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female, came on stage with little tiny black balloons. They were blown up really small and they were glued to her entire body, or his entire body. And I pride myself on being able to guess so many costumes ‘cause I’ve done so many sing-alongs. I didn’t have a clue. And so I said, “Who are you?” “I’m the lonely goat turd.”
[“The Lonely Goatherd” song plays]
Felde: This is the sixth go-round for the singalong at the Bowl, and there are still a few tickets left. The costume parade begins at six, the movie at 7:30.
- September 19, 2008 5:18 PM
- Categories: Arts
Head of Unite for Strength faction of SAG calls for unity after winning majority of board seats at stake
In an election for the Screen Actors Guild board, a faction dissatisfied with the Guild’s Hollywood leaders has won a majority of the seats up for grabs. The “Unite for Strength” slate campaigned on the idea of patching up the damaged relationship with SAG’s sister union the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists. Unite For Strength’s leader Ned Vaughn spoke today with KPCC’s AirTalk.
Ned Vaughn: “We have our two unions that represent actors now essentially competing, and that competition is something that only serves our employers; it’s very, very damaging to actors.”
Vaughn ultimately wants the two unions to merge. SAG’s “Membership First” faction opposes that idea. It lost its majority in the board elections completed this week. The union’s next board meeting is October 18th. Before then it’s unlikely there’ll be much movement in talks between SAG and the TV and movie producers that stalled after their contract expired at the end of June.
Hollywood is waiting for the Screen Actors Guild to announce the results of its national board elections. Representatives of two rival factions fighting for a majority of the board sparred this afternoon on KPCC’s “Patt Morrison.” One subject that divides them is whether SAG should merge with its sister union, AFTRA. Actor Googy Gress of the “Unite for Strength” faction believes one union should represent all actors.
Googy Gress: “That will be the way in which we’ll be the strongest and the most united, and be able to get that which we most need, and that is a way to make a living in these very rapidly changing times.”
Anne Marie Johnson of the “Membership First” group currently holding the majority on the SAG Board sees things differently.
Anne Marie Johnson: We believe that merging with another union that has a lot of financial concerns, that has had a habit for the past, oh, since 2006, of undercutting contracts just to gain jurisdiction is not the appropriate party to be in bed with.”
About a third of the seats are up for grabs in an election that could change the tone of the Guild’s contract negotiations with film and TV producers. Those talks are stalled right now, and the Guild’s members continue to work under their old contract.
Bet you’re wondering how we knew. The producer and co-writer of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and other Motown hits died Tuesday in Los Angeles. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says Norman Whitfield was 67 years old.
[” I Heard it Through the Grapevine” plays]
Cheryl Devall: The sound was unmistakable. The production, the right combination of elements to make the record work, was Norman Whitfield’s. With “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Just My Imagination,” Whitfield moved Detroit-based Motown from its roots in romantic pop and toward social relevance during the volatile 1960s and ’70s.
He won two Grammy Awards – one for producing and co-writing the Temptations’ breakout hit “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and another for the Rose Royce theme to the movie “Car Wash.” Troubles tinged Whitfield’s success. Three years ago he pleaded guilty to tax evasion for failing to report more than $4 million dollars in income. The court fined him $25,000 and sentenced him to home detention, an acknowledgment of the diabetes and other health problems that shortened Norman Whitfield’s life.
- September 18, 2008 9:55 AM
- Categories: Arts
A raid on one of Orange County’s most popular swap meets has turned up a bumper crop of pirated compact discs, music videos, and designer fashions. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: Knockoffs at swap meets aren’t a new problem, but it looks as if law enforcement’s cracking down. Huntington Beach police and investigators from the Recording Industry Association of America targeted the Golden West College Swap Meet on Sunday.
A police spokesman says they turned up about $34,000 worth of bootleg music and videos, and another $45,000 of fake designer sunglasses, handbags, and clothing. Seven people are likely to face criminal charges. The open-air market sets up every weekend in the parking lot of Golden West College in Huntington Beach.
The swap meet’s Web site explicitly warns vendors that it’s illegal to sell counterfeit items. The Recording Industry Association, the group that sponsors the Grammy Awards, estimates that the music business loses more than $12 billion a year on illegal downloads and pirated tunes.
The Screen Actors Guild’s contract talks with Film and Television Producers have stalled for weeks. But this week, the Guild’s focusing on an internal election. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: About one-third of the seats on SAG’s national board are up for grabs. The “Membership First” faction of the Guild holds a slim majority on the board. Another group known as “Unite for Strength” is backing a slate of candidates to change that.
“Membership First” maintains that it’s holding firm at the bargaining table with the producers, and fighting to make SAG’s contract the first one to cover all productions for the Internet. It lists Martin Sheen and Sean Penn among its backers.
Sally Field and Tom Hanks endorse the “Unite for Strength” slate. It blames the “Membership First” faction for mismanaging contract talks and insulting SAG’s sister union AFTRA until it bolted from the two unions’ bargaining partnership earlier this year. Guild officials plan to count the votes on Thursday. Meanwhile, SAG actors continue to work under the terms of a contract that expired July 1st.
Movie and TV producers have reached a tentative contract agreement, but not with actors who’ve been holding out for two months. The deal’s with the folks who look for actors when it’s time to fill a role. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports.
Brian Watt: Casting directors and associates sift through stacks of headshots to find the right face for the right moment. They run auditions and help negotiate actors pay. Casting personnel joined the Teamsters Union a few years ago and bargained a contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The two sides spent a few days this week renegotiating that deal. Now it’s up to the 400 members of Teamsters locals here and in New York to vote on ratification.
The two sides aren’t sharing contract details just yet. But the producers were quick to point out that it’s the fifth labor pact they’ve negotiated this year. They still don’t have a deal done with the Screen Actors Guild… but for now, the actors continue to work under the terms of the contract that expired July 1st.
The chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, poet and Hawthorne native Dana Gioia, announced today that he’s leaving the job next year. More on the story from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: The once-embattled arts endowment has passed five pretty calm years on Dana Gioia’s watch. Not long ago, its grants to cutting-edge artists stirred opposition from conservatives who questioned why the agency should exist.
Gioia helped restore its reputation to what he called “its rightful place as one of the premier institutions in the United States.” The son of an Italian-American father and a Mexican-American mother, Gioia graduated from Serra High School in Gardena.
He earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford. His career combined both; he’s a published and widely anthologized poet who was also a longtime vice president at General Mills.
At the arts endowment Gioia promoted “Operation Homecoming,” a compilation of stories by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the spoken word contest Poetry Out Loud. He says he hopes to resume his literary life when he’s done at the National Endowment for the Arts.
LAPD detectives say they believe the theft of a dozen high-priced paintings last month from a San Fernando Valley home was an inside job. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The paintings, all insured, include works by Marc Chagal, Arshile Gorky, and Diego Rivera. A now elderly Encino couple assembled the collection over half a century. Tipsters have called a telephone hotline. Detective Donald Hrycyk, of the LAPD’s Art Theft Detail, says he’s following leads that suggest someone familiar with the house tipped off thieves.
Donald Hrycyk: The fact that the victims are ordinarily surrounded by people that are at the house. And for just a brief amount of time on this one day, they were alone for less than an hour, and that’s the time that the art disappeared, of course gives one pause.
Guzman-Lopez: A security system failed, Hrycyk said, and a housekeeper was out shopping for an hour when the artwork was stolen. The LAPD’s offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to recovery of the paintings and arrest of the thief or thieves.
Former newscaster and radio talk show host George Putnam died this morning. He was 94 years old. From the 1950s through the mid-1970s Putnam anchored the news on local stations including KTTV and KTLA. Michael Horn is President of CRN digital radio. He told KPCC’s AirTalk that Putnam helped inspire the fictitious anchorman that actor Ted Knight played on the Mary Tyler Moore show.
Michael Horn: “That Ted Baxter character was actually patterned after him; when Ted Knight was trying to look for a way to go in that character, he studied George. I think he studied Jerry Dunphy a little bit. And George always said he got the best stuff from him.”
Putnam went on to host the “Talk Back” radio show. It ran most recently on CRN digital radio. Audiences knew Putnam for his conservative views, but he claimed to be a “lifelong Democrat.”
A Southland-based sculptor who crafted internationally-known likenesses of “Roots” author Alex Haley and other prominent African Americans has died in Los Angeles. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says Tina Allen was 58 years old when she died Tuesday.
Cheryl Devall: When she was five years old, Tina Allen began to paint. Sculptor William Zorach took her under his wing when she was 10.
During her career, Allen won commissions for monumental works like the 13-foot sculpture of Haley in his native Knoxville, Tennessee, and of George Washington Carver for the St. Louis Botanical Garden. She also created abstract works that emphasized African standards of beauty. On her Web site Allen said, “Our children must be able to say, greatness comes out of people who look like me.”
In the Southland, Allen’s public sculptures include a four-story high relief at King/Drew Medical Magnet High School, and a bust of civil rights activist Celes King III at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Boulevards in Los Angeles. Allen’s ex-husband said she died of complications from a heart attack.
Seventy-five years after she surprised Hollywood by turning her back on MGM, one of the last surviving silent film stars has died. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on the career of Anita Page.
Cheryl Devall: As a teenager petite, blonde Anita Page moved from her native Queens, New York to California. Her breakthrough role arrived 80 years ago opposite Joan Crawford in the silent melodrama “Our Dancing Daughters.” The two female leads were rivals for the love of a Jazz Age millionaire.
Although Page’s character died, her career took off. Her deluge of fan mail included marriage proposals from around the world, including one from the future Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. In the movies, Page’s co-stars included Buster Keaton and Clark Gable.
While Page appeared in a few early sound films, including “The Broadway Melody,” the first talkie to win the Best Picture Oscar, she decided to retire when her MGM contract expired. At the time, she was 23 years old. Anita Page’s later life included a 54-year marriage and, in the last dozen years, a few low-budget horror movies. She was 98 when she died Saturday in Los Angeles.
- September 8, 2008 2:37 PM
- Categories: Arts
The man who brought the “Peanuts” comic strip to television, Bill Melendez, died yesterday in Santa Monica. He was 91 years old. The first “Peanuts” TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” featured a number of daring elements. Animation expert Charles Solomon says Melendez was responsible for them.
Charles Solomon: “The jazz music track by Vince Guaraldi that we are now are all so familiar with. The use of real children for the voices of the characters, rather than actors trying to sound like children. It was also considered revolutionary at the time because Linus reads the Gospel from Saint Luke.”
In all, Melendez produced and directed more than 70 Peanuts specials and films. He won eight Emmys, two Peabody awards, and an Oscar nomination. Melendez was born “José” in Mexico in 1916. He came to the United States when he was young. Before he teamed up with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, Melendez worked as an animator at Disney and Warner Brothers, and other studios.
- September 3, 2008 2:30 PM
- Categories: Arts
The magnitude 5.4 earthquake in Chino Hills this summer really shook things up at the Placentia Library – enough that the library’s been closed ever since. KPCC’s Susan Valot says the library in North Orange County hopes to reopen within the next week or so.
Susan Valot:After the earthquake, the Placentia Library looked more like a teenager’s messy bedroom. Broken ceiling tiles were scattered on the floor. Some lights dangled from above by their cords. Pictures were knocked askew on the walls. Basically, a big enough mess to close the library. The library had to dip into its reserve account for the $130,000 to make repairs and bring the facility up to today’s building codes.
That means new ceilings, plus reinforcement, where necessary. The library aims to reopen next week. In the meantime, the Placentia Library is holding a restaurant fundraiser on Thursday to help pay for some of those repairs. People can grab a flyer from City Hall or print one out at the library’s Web site.
The man known as the “King of Voiceovers” has died at age 68. You’ve heard Don LaFontaine’s deep voice in innumerable radio and TV commercials, and in movie trailers, like this one for the film “American Cyborg.”
Don LaFontaine: “In a future world…” [sound from movie]
LaFontaine recently parodied himself in a TV commercial for Geico Insurance. “Entertainment Tonight” reported that Don LaFontaine died yesterday afternoon of complications from a collapsed lung.
- September 2, 2008 1:24 PM
- Categories: Arts
War, and the ways it can tear a family and a nation apart. That’s the subject of a play that begins a month-long run in Malibu this week. The Greeks first staged the drama more than 2,000 years ago. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In the play Agamemnon, Greek playwright Aeschylus tells the story of a king who returns victorious after a decade-long war. He finds countrymen doubting the wisdom of that conflict. And he discovers that the bloody treachery of the battlefield has followed him to his doorstep. Director Stephen Wadsworth says the play’s themes transcend the ages.
Stephen Wadsworth: The war angle is a strong one, because we are a nation at war. We’re a nation at war. I think we’re trying very hard to ignore the fact that we’re at war.
Guzman-Lopez: Agamemnon, with actor Delroy Lindo in the title role, is the third play staged at the Getty Villa’s new outdoor amphitheater. That structure is a reproduction of an ancient theater.
- September 1, 2008 2:59 PM
- Categories: Arts
The drama “Agamemnon” begins a month-long run next week at the Getty Villa’s outdoor amphitheater in Malibu.
Greek playwright Aeschylus wrote the play more than 2,000 years ago. Director Stephen Wadsworth says he doesn’t worry about whether a contemporary audience can relate to its themes.
Stephen Wadsworth: “‘Agamemnon’ is about a family at the end of the war. It’s also about a family of rulers at the end the war, a royal family. So, ultimately that means that it’s about the sort of nexus of power and family and moral responsibility.”
Wadsworth says that staging the play at the villa’s outdoor theater will offer the audience an idea of what it might have been like to see the play in ancient Greece. But, he adds, the play’s modern adaptation with its psychological nuances would have been alien to the original audience. For them, plays were a form of ritual.
The production begins next Thursday 9/4 and runs weekends through the end of the month.
- August 29, 2008 6:44 PM
- Categories: Arts
Private detective Pellicano convicted on wiretapping and conspiracy charges, faces 10 years in federal prison
A federal jury in Los Angeles today convicted former private eye to the stars Anthony Pellicano and an entertainment lawyer on wiretapping and conspiracy charges. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the two men face up to 10 years in federal prison.
Cheryl Devall: This was the second wiretapping conviction against Pellicano this year. He’d built a reputation digging dirt on the people his celebrity clientele considered enemies. That included the opposing parties in divorce cases, such as the one between billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and his former wife Lisa Bonder Kerkorian.
The jury in the trial just concluded convicted Pellicano and lawyer Terry Christensen on charges of recording the ex-Mrs. Kerkorian’s phone calls. Prosecutors say the two men were trying to prove that the 90-year-old investor and casino developer was not the father of his ex-wife’s young daughter.
Evidence in the trial focused on recorded conversations between Pellicano and Christensen, but it didn’t include recordings of the woman they were investigating. The two men are scheduled for sentencing on November 17th.
Hollywood’s two actors unions and the advertising industry have agreed to extend their contract for commercials by six months. KPCC’s Brian Watt has more.
Brian Watt: The advertisers and the unions extended the terms of this contract once before. That was in 2006, when the ad bosses agreed to a two-year extension with the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists.
The extension gave everyone a chance to study new ways to pay actors for commercials that appear on the Internet and on mobile devices.
But a lot has gone down between SAG and AFTRA since then. In March, they had a nasty split in contract talks with studios over movies and prime time TV shows. AFTRA went on to ratify its own deal with Hollywood producers, over the objections of SAG’s Hollywood leaders. Talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the producers have stalled.
This new extension of the commercial contract gives the two so-called “sister unions” more time to figure out if they can join together to bargain with the advertisers, or if they’re destined to go their separate ways.
Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton this week vowed to end the practice of retired LAPD motorcycle officers serving as security for film crews shooting on location.
Bill Bratton: “As we’ve gotten into looking much more closely at this issue, there are a lot of concerns that I have: the lack of training of these personnel, they don’t get routinely trained on firearms, etc. They’re not regulated by us by any extensive rules and regulations. So its one of these things that’s been around for a number of years and we started looking at it, and the more we looked at it the more concerned we were with it.”
Bratton told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that he plans to propose a set of regulations to the City Council that would allow only off-duty LAPD officers to work as security guards at production sites.
It’s election time – not just for Republicans and Democrats, but for members of the Screen Actors Guild. Ballots for the SAG board election are going into the mail today. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the union’s strained relationship with TV and radio producers factors into the vote.
Cheryl Devall: The tensions surfaced most recently this week, when board members of the union’s New York branch urged the leadership to call in a federal mediator by next Monday if there’s no progress in SAG’s talks with producers. The actors’ union has worked without a contract since June 30th, and movie and TV production has slowed to a crawl.
SAG wants union contracts and residual pay in projects for distribution over new media platforms, including the Internet and mobile phones. The producers’ final offer does not meet actors’ needs in those areas, the union’s leadership says.
But SAG’s president maintains that there have been substantive talks between the union and the producers, and that there’s no reason to call in a mediator. Among the candidates for about one-third of the union’s board is a slate that’s trying to unseat the present leadership over its handling of the contract dispute. Return ballots have to be in by September 18th.
It’s not everyday that bakers become rock stars. The aces of Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes” are in Anaheim this weekend to meet their fans, and decorate a cake. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde says fame is tough on the shyest member of the “Ace of Cakes” team.
Kitty Felde: Geoff Manthorn used to make architectural models. Now he builds baseball stadiums, carriages, and guitars out of pastry at a Baltimore bakery called “Charm City Cakes.”
The show is a hit among Food Network junkies. But Manthorn says it’s also quite stressful.
Geoff Manthorn: “There are times when I would just like to concentrate and work, but there’s the pressure to be putting on a performance while working. When you have a camera on you, you’re trying to make a good TV show.”
Felde: Geoff Manthorn joins fellow Aces Duff Goldman and Mary Alice Yeskey at the Anaheim Hilton for a live show at 11:30 Sunday. Then it’s back to Baltimore for the next challenge in cake.
About the only thing more boring than watching paint dry is watching somebody decorate a cake. Not so, if the decorator is Food Network’s Duff Goldman. KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde says Goldman and his crew are in Orange County this weekend for a celebrity food show.
Kitty Felde: For the uninitiated, “Ace of Cakes” is a half-hour reality show set in Baltimore where a crew of off-beat designers makes cakes. That’s it. But over the past 3 seasons, it’s become one of the most popular shows on the Food Network. Duff Goldman is owner of the cake shop Charm City Cakes. Even he can’t believe anyone watches a show about people decorating cakes.
Duff Goldman: “It’s a show about amazing art that we produce, but it’s also about our relationships with each other and a bunch of friends getting along and making cakes and trying to make something awesome.”
Felde: Goldman is joined by his fellow cake aces Mary Alice Yeskey and Geoff Manthorn, talking and decorating a giant cake at the Anaheim Hilton this weekend.
The music world is remembering the many contributions of producer Jerry Wexler. He died early today at age 91. One of the artists he helped propel to superstardom, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, called Wexler “truly one of the great record men of all time.” The originator of the term “rhythm and blues” was about more than just records, Rolling Stone magazine’s Anthony DeCurtis told KPCC’s Patt Morrison:
Anthony DeCurtis: “He could allude just as quickly to a Shakespeare play as he could to a jazz solo as he could to a great soul singer. That was all part of his bag of tricks.”
Wexler played a pivotal role in the careers of Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson. and Dusty Springfield… among others.
L.A.’s African Marketplace and Cultural Faire launches tomorrow for its 23rd year. Thousands of visitors experience the music, food, culture, and crafts of the African Diaspora. James Burks created the annual event after the 1984 Olympics. He wanted African-Americans in L.A. to connect with global cultures and business opportunities.
James Burks: “When you come in, you have sort of a commercial walkway, but you also have an African Region, a Caribbean Region, a Youth Village. You have a whole food court; you have several pavilions like Literary, Health, Fine Arts pavilions. Then you have a number of independent craft vendors and exhibitors from different parts of the world that are in there as well.”
The African Marketplace continues for the next three weekends, including Labor Day, at Rancho Cienega Park, across from Dorsey High School, off La Brea Avenue. For directions and more information, go online to africanmarketplace.org.
A film set in downtown L.A.’s long-gone Bunker Hill bars and flophouses is returning to a Southland theater today, almost 50 years after it was finished. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Director Kent Mackenzie’s film “The Exiles” is a docudrama about American Indians in their twenties and thirties straddling life and love beyond the reservation.
Clip from “The Exiles:” I don’t think I want to take the baby back to San Carlos. I’d rather have him raised out here. I want him to speak English and try maybe go to college and become something.
Guzman-Lopez: The backdrop is downtown L.A. in the late 1950s – its packed sidewalks, liquor stores, and bars booming with jukebox rock and roll, where the Native American protagonists while away the hours.
Clip from “The Exiles:” Give me a swig. Gracias amigo. [Speaking in Native American language.]
Guzman-Lopez: UCLA’s Film and Television Archive has restored the film. It’s organized a week-long run at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.
Local TV host William Stulla has died. For more than a decade, he was “Engineer Bill” each afternoon on KHJ Channel 9. You probably watched “Engineer Bill” – and so did KPCC’s Special Correspondent Kitty Felde.
Kitty Felde: William Stulla had a lot of careers… stockbroker, radio announcer, host of a show called “Parlor Party.” But kids who grew up in Southern California 50 years ago knew him best as “Engineer Bill.” From 1954 to 1966, Stulla donned overalls and a grey-and-white striped railroad engineer’s cap for his “Cartoon Express” show.
Two children would usually join “Engineer Bill” in studio to watch cartoons and play games – and when I was five, I was one of those kids. We played “Red Light, Green Light,” where you gulp an enormous glass of milk when they’d shout “Green Light!”
There was also “Name It and You Can Have It.” The kids competed for toys by shouting the complete name of each item first. It may not surprise you that I took home a car full of toys that night. I still feel bad for that other shy kid. William Stulla, “Engineer Bill,” died Tuesday night at his home in Westlake Village. He was 97.
For the next week, UCLA’s Film and Television Archive is screening a groundbreaking but rarely seen film about American Indians living in downtown Los Angeles. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has details on the film opening today.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The film’s called “The Exiles.” Director Kent Mackenzie finished it in 1961, but he never secured wide release. The black-and-white film is both drama and documentary.
Film voiceover: What follows is the authentic account of 12 hours in the lives of a group of Indians who have come to Los Angeles, California.
Guzman-Lopez: Chris Horak runs UCLA’s Film and Television Archive.
Chris Horak: The first really striking thing about this film is to see how this group of Native Americans, who are at the lower end of the social, economic scale, are trying to survive in this intensely urban environment of downtown Los Angeles.
Guzman-Lopez: Mackenzie’s camera follows the Native Americans, all in their twenties and thirties, from rundown apartments and grimy late-night bars to reckless speeding through downtown L.A.’s tunnels – past neon signs, liquor stores, and streetscapes long lost to redevelopment.
Jackson Browne grew up in the Republican heartland of Orange County, but that doesn’t mean the singer-songwriter is a GOP man. He’s not, and he’s suing the Republican Party for suggesting that he is. KPCC’s Nick Roman explains.
Nick Roman: Anyone who’s a fan of Jackson Browne knows he’s a longtime Democrat. So it’s no surprise that the man who wrote and sang the hit “Running on Empty” ran a little hot when he heard his song in an Ohio TV ad for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
The song plays while the ad needles Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s suggestion that drivers could get better gas mileage if they make sure to properly inflate their tires. The GOP ad says that’s no energy policy. Jackson Browne says that’s no way to use his song, especially if the party doesn’t have a license to use it.
He says that’s copyright infringement, and he’s suing John McCain, the Ohio GOP, and the Republican National Committee in federal court. Browne wants a permanent injunction that blocks the Republicans from using “Running on Empty” again. Back in February, rocker John Mellencamp asked the McCain campaign to stop using his music at rallies – and McCain complied.
Almost three years after Hurricane Katrina stuck the Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles-based Getty Foundation has awarded a third round of grants to arts, humanities, and preservation projects in New Orleans. Details from KPCC’s Cheryl Devall.
Cheryl Devall: The Crescent City’s recovering slowly, and the Getty grants are intended to help restore New Orleans’ once-vibrant cultural scene. More than $1 million will go to the historic Cathedral of St. Louis in Jackson Square, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and the Prospect 1 U.S. Biennial art exhibition.
Additional Getty money is headed to eight arts organizations surveying who their audiences are, and whether they’re returning to New Orleans. Three years ago, the Getty Foundation established a Fund for New Orleans. So far, that fund has contributed close to $3 million to cultural institutions there.
- August 13, 2008 1:31 PM
- Categories: Arts
The L.A. County Museum of Art announced today that a major photography collection a wealthy Los Angeles couple had assembled will stay in the Southland. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: LACMA’s bought more than 3,500 prints in the Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection. LACMA photography curator Charlotte Cotton says the Vernons, now deceased, spent decades amassing a collection second to none.
Charlotte Cotton: The collection’s very rich in 19th century, European photography, where many of the innovations and risks were taken. And then its holdings of early 20th century classic American photography, a lot of which was produced in the American West, is outstanding.
Guzman-Lopez: The collection includes 80 Edward Weston prints and others by Ansel Adams and Edward Steichen. With the purchase, LACMA’s photo holdings increase twofold. Some of the new holdings will go on display in October. Museum trustee Wallis Annenberg gave the money for the purchase, but museum officials wouldn’t say how much she contributed or how much the collection cost.
- August 11, 2008 2:21 PM
- Categories: Arts
Oscar-winning Actor Morgan Freeman is being treated at a Memphis hospital after being seriously injured today in a car accident not far from his home in Charleston, Mississippi. More from KPCC’s Debra Baer.
Debra Baer: Morgan Freeman’s publicist said doctors are treating the actor for a broken arm and elbow, and a minor shoulder injury. He’s scheduled for surgery to correct the damage. Freeman was airlifted to Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center in Memphis after crashing the Nissan Maxima he was driving on a rural highway near Tupelo, Mississippi. A female passenger who owned the car was also injured.
Investigators ruled out drugs and alcohol, and said Freeman may have fallen asleep at the wheel when he careened off the road and flipped the car several times. Publicist Donna Lee said the 71-year-old actor is in good spirits and is looking forward to a full recovery. Freeman appears in the new Batman movie “the Dark Knight.” He won a supporting actor Oscar for his role in Million Dollar Baby.
- August 4, 2008 4:36 PM
- Categories: Arts
Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine today held a hearing touting his proposal to create a “personal safety zone” around celebrities to protect them from the paparazzi. News photographers oppose the plan. John McCoy is president of the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles.
John McCoy: “I’m as tired of the paparazzi as anyone else. In some situations, I am at breaking news events where they are there, and they don’t know how to behave, and they do things that are dangerous. But ultimately, any laws that abridge the freedom of the press are going to filter down to the rest of the working media, and it can’t be good for any of us.”
LAPD Chief Bill Bratton also opposes Zine’s plan. He says police would have a difficult time enforcing a law that grants celebrities a personal safety zone.
Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine today held a hearing on proposed regulations aimed at paparazzi that chase after celebrities.
Dennis Zine: “Paparazzi are becoming increasingly aggressive in their tactics, posing a danger not only to the people they are trying to photograph but the general public around them. They act like a pack of wolves stalking their prey, creating havoc in the streets, and are nuisances to innocent bystanders.”
Zine has proposed creating a “personal safety zone” between photographers and their targets. News photographers warn the proposed law could restrict their first amendment rights. LAPD Chief William Bratton has said it would be ambiguous and difficult to enforce. He’s also said the city has had fewer problems with paparazzi since Britney Spears, quote, “started wearing clothes,” and other celebrities changed their partying ways.
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster has submitted a budget for the city of half a million people. Among the cost cutting measures, the mayor recommends closing the city’s main library. And that’s upset many library patrons. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: An aide to Mayor Bob Foster tells the Long Beach Press-Telegram the downtown main library needs $10 million in repairs. The assistant city manager tells the newspaper Long Beach would save nearly $2 million if the main library was closed to the public. The city should make cuts elsewhere, says Sara Pillet, executive director of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation, because the main library’s an important resource for residents.
Sara Pillet: It receives over 500,000 visitations a year. There’s 28,000 children downtown, for them this is their branch library. There’s over half a million volumes in here, there’s special collections, there’s meeting rooms.
Guzman-Lopez: Pillet’s gathering signatures outside the library to oppose the plan. The mayor’s budget proposal would also increase hours at the city’s branch libraries. The Long Beach City Council begins talking about these and other budget ideas next week.
After a two-year extreme makeover, Los Angeles County officials are planning the Mark Taper Forum’s first public unveiling Tuesday morning. KPCC’s Patricia Nazario previews the downtown theater’s new look.
Patricia Nazario: From the theater’s front door to its backstage, the $30 million face lift left virtually no stone unturned. For starters, the new wider main lobby opens up directly to the Music Center Plaza. The dressing rooms, wardrobe, and green room are all renovated, too.
Theatergoers may even applaud the men’s and women’s restroom facilities. Builders multiplied their size by more than 500 percent.
The list of upgrades to the L.A.landmark includes new systems all around: lighting, heat/air conditioning, and acoustics. But intentionally untouched was its signature abalone shell wall. Visionaries added lighting to showcase its natural beauty.
The Music Center and Center Theatre Group worked together to secure the project’s funding.
Tuesday’s unveiling will be the first public stage-lighting. A series of events are scheduled through the end of September.
- July 25, 2008 6:03 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Screen Actors Guild board of directors is expected to meet behind closed doors this weekend. The meeting comes as leaders of the actors union battle Hollywood producers over a new contract, and a dissident faction within SAG’s ranks gears up to oust much of the current board in a September election.
Ned Vaughn is a spokesman for “Unite for Strength.” That’s the group pushing changes in SAG’s leadership. He says SAG should merge with the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or AFTRA.
Ned Vaughn: “Two unions negotiating separately against one employer, that is almost definitionally going to disadvantage the interests of working actors because of what you’re seeing right now. You have one union with a now ratified contract, another holding out to get a stronger contract, but very obviously that weakens us at the bargaining table and that’s what we’re aiming to fix.”
SAG’s contract with Hollywood movie and TV producers expired June 30th. No new meetings are scheduled between the union and producers
Hollywood’s partnering with private companies to help restore the Walk of Fame in time for its 50th anniversary celebration in 2010. In exchange, companies get an honorary star. City Councilman Tom LaBonge says it’s a great idea.
Tom LaBonge: “A public-private partnership is the wave of the future. We’re not going to be able to do it all. But it really was a private initiative when the Chamber of Commerce started this, almost 50 years ago, plus, on Hollywood Boulevard. But we need to restore this monument, this is what people come to see.”
Absolut Vodka will receive the first honorary star for its contribution to the restoration project. It’ll go adjacent to the actual Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is giving out honorary stars on the “Walk of Fame” in exchange for help restoring the famed sidewalk. KPCC’s Brooke Binkowski reports.
Brooke Binkowski: The Walk of Fame is falling apart. The price tag to overhaul the sidewalk stars will be at least $4 million.
Leron Gubler: This program to repair the Walk will require a lot of friends. But we know we have a lot of friends.
Binkowski: Leron Gubler heads the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. He says private companies will help foot the bill.
Gubler: In exchange for a sizable contribution to the repair effort, each new friend will be acknowledged with a Friend of the Walk of Fame honorary star, which will be a new terrazzo piece that will be placed in the sidewalk on private property adjacent to the walk of fame. The honorary star will feature the name of the friend and their corporate logo.
Binkowski: Absolut Vodka was the first to contribute, and get a star in return. L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge says there’s nothing wrong with a vodka sponsorship in a town known for high profile rehabs.
Tom LaBonge: I think all of us always have to remember the words “drink responsibly.” I don’t drink vodka. And those who do, I hope they drink responsibly.
Binkowski: The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce aims to have the Walk of Fame fixed in two years… in time for its 50th anniversary.
Vodka will clean up the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Absolut Vodka will help restore the deteriorating tourist attraction through a program called “Friends of the Walk of Fame.” Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Leron Gubler says other corporations will contribute money too.
Leron Gubler: “The city said basically there’s not enough public sector dollars to do these repairs, we’ve got to identify private sector contributions, which is why we’re manning that effort now to do that. And I’m sure the public is going to be appreciative that we’re raising money rather than trying to tap into tax dollars when the budgets are in such bad shape.”
Gubler says repairs will cost at least $4 million and be complete in two years – just in time for the Walk of Fame’s 50th anniversary. In exchange for their contribution, Absolut Vodka received an honorary star on the Walk of Fame.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers still can’t agree on a labor contract. They’re not even talking, except in the press. KPCC’s Brian Watt reports the latest salvo came in a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times.
Brian Watt: The producers’ ad looks like a promotion for a blockbuster film. The title of this blockbuster is “THE DEAL: Let’s keep working.” It quotes leaders of the Writers and Directors Guilds and the other actors union, AFTRA, praising their deals with the producers’ alliance. Alex Ben Block of Hollywood Today says the producers’ alliance has turned on its public relations machine to turn up the heat on the Screen Actors Guild.
Alex Ben Block: Since we’re going into what could well be a long weird period here, where there is no contract and no strike, public opinion is going to matter more and more in terms of how people view this whole thing.
Watt: The producers’ alliance says it offered actors a package that included $250 million in raises. SAG’s leaders have said the offer falls short in areas like residuals for DVD’s and new media.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television producers took out a full page ad in today’s L.A. Times. It touts labor contracts with writers, directors, and AFTRA, and pointedly omits any mention of the Screen Actors Guild. SAG’s contract expired three weeks ago. Alex Ben Block of HollywoodToday.net says there’s no agreement on the horizon.
Alex Ben Block: “The whole idea that maybe some of the CEO’s of big companies will have a back room meeting is out the window. The whole idea that ‘If there’s a contract that is up, then there’s a strike’ is out the window. So we’re really in uncharted territory here, and I think the PR effort is their way of saying ‘We’re not the bad guys.’”
The producers’ alliance made a contract offer to SAG about two weeks ago. Guild leaders have said it falls short on DVD and new media residuals. No formal talks are scheduled between the two sides.
A singer who symbolized the comforts of the home front during World War Two and the Korean conflict has died at her Century City home. Jazz writer Don Heckman told KPCC’s Patt Morrison that Stafford’s accessible vocal style suited many varieties of song.
Don Heckman: “She was distinguished primarily by this, this quality of cool intimacy. I’m not quite sure whether that’s what made her so appealing to the G.I.’s who were overseas. Maybe that the music, the way she sang, kind of sounded like the girl next door, but she was their darling and I think, you know, maybe it was that sense that she wasn’t a professional; she was a professional, but she didn’t sound like someone different. Or separate. She sounded like someone you could know and was as intimate as someone next door.”
Jo Stafford achieved fame with the Tommy Dorsey big band, a soloist, and as half of a comedic musical duo with her husband, arranger Paul Weston. One of their recordings won Stafford her only Grammy. She was 90 years old when she died on Wednesday.
- July 18, 2008 4:35 PM
- Categories: Arts
Neither side is saying much about the results of a brief meeting this week between negotiators from the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers. KPCC’s Brian Watt says that based on statements, the two sides remain pretty far apart.
Brian Watt: In a letter to SAG members, Union negotiator Doug Allen writes that the producers’ contract offer doesn’t address the Guild’s priorities, including residuals for new media. Allen says the new media terms of the offer are nearly the same as in contracts the Directors and Writers Guilds and the other actors union, AFTRA, accepted.
But SAG can’t accept those terms now, says Allen, because in the six months since they were set, there’s been a big shift in media on the Internet and cell phones. In a statement, the producers’ alliance argued the real shift is a worsening economy, and that despite the downturn, its contract offer increases actors’ pay by a quarter-billion dollars over three years. The old contract the two sides are trying to replace expired almost three weeks ago. The producers have not threatened to lock actors out. And SAG’s leaders haven’t asked members to authorize a strike.
The new Poet Laureate of the United States is a UCLA alumna who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave region. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall has more on Kay Ryan.
Cheryl Devall: For someone who, by her own admission, “so didn’t want to be a poet,” Kay Ryan has done pretty well. She’s translated a hardscrabble upbringing into six volumes of poetry. The chair of the National Endowment for the Arts compares Ryan’s work to that of the enigmatic 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson: “thoughtful, bemused, affectionate, and deeply skeptical.” Ryan has told interviewers that she’d resisted the idea exposing her emotions publicly as poets must.
She gave in to the desire after her father, an itinerant miner, oilfield worker, and salesman, died. Ryan attended Antelope Valley College, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at UCLA, and supported her writing life by teaching a remedial English class at a community college in Marin County for more than 30 years. She’ll debut in her ceremonial position this fall at with readings at the National Book Festival and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
- July 17, 2008 3:45 PM
- Categories: Arts
Two TV shows made history this morning. AMC’s “Mad Men” and FX’s “Damages” won best-series Emmy nominations – the first basic cable shows to ever earn such a nomination. KPCC’s Steve Julian has the list.
Steve Julian: “Mad Men” is a New York City ad agency drama, circa 1960. “Damages” is a legal drama that airs on FX. They’re joined by ABC’s “Boston Legal” and “Lost”; Showtime’s “Dexter”; and Fox’s medical show “House” for outstanding drama series. HBO led the way with 23 nominations, including a lead-actor nod for Paul Giamatti, who portrayed John Adams.
Best comedy shows up for an Emmy this year are “30 Rock,” which won last year’s award; “Entourage”; “The Office”; “Two and a Half Men”; and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” A few shows that audiences love were all but ignored: “Desperate Housewives” and “Grey’s Anatomy” were left out of the best series category. And HBO’s critically acclaimed cop drama “The Wire” lost its final shot at ending years of Emmy snubs.
- July 17, 2008 9:23 AM
- Categories: Arts
A Los Angeles County Supervisor, angry over the abrupt sale of an East L.A. building home to a nationally known arts group, called today for a meeting with the seller: L.A.’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Supervisor Gloria Molina said it’s an insult to East L.A. that the Archdiocese didn’t inform Self Help Graphics it was about to sell the building the art workshop had occupied for nearly 30 years. To atone, she said, Catholic leaders should help the organization find a new home.
Supervisor Gloria Molina: “This is a valuable educational program in the Latino community. It has inspired Chicano artists throughout our community. I want to continue that program, and I think it’s the Archdiocese’s responsibility to continue the program.”
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The Archdiocese sold the building to an L.A.-based private developer last week at the request of the owners, a religious order called the Sisters of Saint Francis.
L.A. Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg told KPCC that Cardinal Roger Mahony will not meet with Molina, because the Archdiocese was only involved in the final process of the sale. Tamberg said he didn’t know the building’s final sale price, but the proceeds, he believes, will be split 50-50 between the religious order and the Archdiocese. He said the Archdiocese may use its portion of the money to help pay off hundreds of millions of dollars to victims in priest sexual abuse settlements.
The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously approved plans for a 16-story condo and office tower next to the landmark Capitol Records building in Hollywood.
Today’s vote followed arguments by Capitol’s parent company, EMI Music North America, and others that construction and parking garage noise would interfere with sound quality inside the Capitol’s famous recording studios. KPCC’s Patt Morrison spoke with EMI’s Jeanne Meyer.
Jeanne Meyer: “It’s not just Capitol that would be the neighbor, because the clientele are really, is really the entire entertainment industry. There are engineers who bring in projects from all over the world to record there, and that includes television shows, all the awards shows, orchestras lay down their sound in the studios, and artists that record labels for all over the world, not just for Capitol.”
The apartment building’s developer, Second Street Ventures, insists that walls, a foam barrier, and other measures will protect the signature sound of Capitol’s studios.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says he’d help Hollywood producers and the Screen Actors Guild resolve their labor dispute. But they’ll have to ask for his help. In Hollywood today, the mayor told reporters he’s met separately with leaders of the Guild and the producers’ alliance throughout the year. He said the 100-day writers strike had been tough enough on the city, the state, and the entertainment industry.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “You’ve read about people losing homes and businesses as result of this effort, and my hope would be that this would conclude as quickly as possible. I remain ready, willing, and able to help mediate, but the parties gotta want that. That’s the way it works.”
Villaraigosa said he was “heartened” by the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists’ vote to ratify its prime time television contract earlier this week.
Hollywood and the government are trying to send a more consistent anti-smoking signal. KPCC’s Brooke Binkowski has more on the story.
Brooke Binkowski: Six major studios have agreed to run state-sponsored anti-smoking messages like this on DVDs with G, PG, or PG-13 ratings. At Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lauded the effort.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “By agreeing to include our anti-smoking ads in the opening minutes of the DVDs, especially those that contain tobacco use, the studios will help reach tens of millions more viewers with a proven anti-smoking message. And the good thing is, it won’t cost anything to the taxpayers. Isn’t that great?”
Binkowski: California’s Department of Health and Human Services developed the public service announcements. The Entertainment Industry Foundation helped to pay for and distribute them. Motion Picture Association of America chief Dan Glickman said his industry’s responding to persistent criticism from anti-smoking activists who contend that movies routinely make smoking look cool, even glamorous.
Dan Glickman: “We are under no illusion that this single step constitutes a silver bullet. But we are going to do our part to raise awareness of the very real public health consequences of smoking.”
Binkowski: State public health officials say there are no plans to delete smoking scenes from films. The anti-smoking messages will start showing up on DVDs later this month. They may eventually run in theaters.
After years of criticism from anti-tobacco activists, Hollywood’s joined with the California’s department of Health and Human Services to include messages about the dangers of smoking on movie DVDs. Dan Glickman heads the Motion Picture Association of America.
Dan Glickman: “All six major motion picture studios joined together: Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers, committing to run state-produced PSAs. All of the major film studios standing shoulder to shoulder. This is an issue that has become increasingly important in our society and within our industry.”
For Glickman, it’s personal: both his parents had cancer. All DVDs with G, PG, or PG-13 ratings will include the anti-smoking announcements, starting later this month.
In the labor dispute between the Hollywood studios and the Screen Actors Guild, one very famous actor has yet to get involved. He played the title roles in “The Terminator” and “Kindergarden Cop,” but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hasn’t reprised either to resolve the current drama gripping Hollywood.
At an unrelated press conference there today, reporters asked the governor whether and when he’s willing to step in. To which he said:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I think it is very important that they come to an agreement as quickly as possible, because the last thing that we want is another strike. I think that our economy is very vulnerable right now, and I think that people are suffering. People have lost a lot of the jobs and you know, there’s a lot of people that are laid off. And a strike like that would be very devastating to our industry and to our economy, so I would recommend very strongly, you know, to go and work out and come up with a solution that is good for everybody.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also attended the press conference. He said he’s ready to get involved as a mediator, but only if the Guild and the studios ask him.
The Screen Actors Guild’s negotiating committee meets today to plan its next step. Yesterday, SAG rejected a final contract offer by film and TV producers.
SAG has offered the producers’ alliance a counterproposal. But the producers say they’re done negotiating.
Jesse Hiestand is with the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV producers. He told KPCC’s AirTalk the final contract offer was “final.”
Jesse Hiestand: “We’ve said from the start that we’re not interested in entertaining further counterproposals, because we believe it is a very good offer with significant gains both on the economic side and the new media side.”
The Screen Actors Guild is holding out on several issues, including DVD residuals. The union thinks its members should be earning more from DVD sales. But Hiestand of the producers alliance called that issue a “dealbreaker.”
Hollywood and California’s government are joining forces to target kids with messages that it’s unhealthy to smoke. Details on the plan from KPCC’s Brooke Binkowski.
Brooke Binkowski: Anti-tobacco activists have long criticized the movie industry for glamorizing smoking. Now six Hollywood studios are trying some damage control.
They’ve agreed to place anti-smoking public service announcements on future DVDs of children’s movies. The studio effort won’t delete smoking scenes from movies. Although the anti-smoking messages will only show up on DVDs at first, they may eventually run in theaters.
California’s Department of Health and Human Services developed the public service announcements. The Entertainment Industry Foundation plans to distribute them.
Funeral services are planned tomorrow for Bill Lofthouse, the builder of some of the most spectacular floats in the Tournament of Roses. Lofthouse was 68 years old when he died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. If you’ve watched the Rose Parade, KPCC’s Nick Roman says you’ve probably marveled at Bill Lofthouse’s work.
Nick Roman: Lofthouse pushed float design into movement and sound, and his creations grew bigger and flashier each year. Remember a giant float in the last Rose Parade that changed from a robot to a spaceship that blasted fiery exhaust? Bill Lofthouse’s Phoenix Decorating built it, and won the parade’s Innovation Award.
That award’s been given out for only the last four years. Guess who’s won it every time? Phoenix Decorating also won this year’s award for best use of roses. That shows Lofthouse had an eye for pretty things, too. He used to say that 50 years ago, he followed a pretty girl into the shed where float builder and designer Isabella Coleman assembled her masterpieces.
He ended up with the girl, Gretchen, who married him, and with a job when Coleman hired him. Bill Lofthouse eventually became the most successful float builder in the Tournament of Roses. For five years now, his son Chris has run Phoenix Decorating. So a fella named Lofthouse still builds more floats, and more spectacular floats, than anyone else.
- July 9, 2008 3:28 PM
- Categories: Arts
Leaders of the Southland’s most prominent Chicano cultural center are expressing shock today over the sale of their long time venue. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: For 30 years, Self Help Graphics in East L.A. has run printmaking workshops and staged plays and concerts at a two- story building on Cesar Chavez Avenue. The organization’s founder, the late Sister Karen Boccalero, secured the building free of charge from her Catholic religious order, the Sisters of Saint Francis.
The order sold the building last week for an undisclosed amount. Stephen Saiz, vice president of Self Help Graphics’ board of directors, said the organization had told the order and Los Angeles’ Roman Catholic Archdiocese that it was searching for money to buy the property.
Stephen Saiz: We weren’t kind of given that first opportunity or been able to be in the loop with the developer who purchased the building as far as what his intentions were, what his plans for redevelopment were, any of that.
Guzman-Lopez: Saiz said a bishop had assured him the building wouldn’t be sold. The religious order’s lawyer said Self Help Graphics was given an opportunity to buy the building. The proceeds from the sale, he said, would be split between the Sisters of Saint Francis and the L.A. Archdiocese. The building’s sale pushes the arts group into great uncertainty, board member Saiz said, because Self Help Graphics may have to find a new home by the end of the year.
- July 9, 2008 1:30 PM
- Categories: Arts
The Screen Actors Guild, or SAG, plans to respond tomorrow to a final contract offer from movie and TV producers. SAG suffered a defeat yesterday when the smaller actors’ union, AFTRA, approved a new three-year contract with producers. SAG had urged AFTRA members to reject the contract. SAG negotiator Doug Allen told KPCC’s AirTalk the AFTRA vote results didn’t set the world on fire.
Doug Allen: “If you’re a union leader, a 60-40 ratification vote is not exactly a landslide. It’s a squeaker and if you take the broadcast members that don’t work under this contract out of that vote, and AFTRA worked that group very hard, I think you’re looking more like 50-50 split.”
AFTRA’s president denies that non-actors influenced the voting. SAG negotiators say they think AFTRA got a bad deal. Among the things the union wants: higher residuals from DVD’s.
One of Hollywood’s two actors’ unions has a new contract. More than 60% of AFTRA members voted to approve the new three-year contract with producers. AFTRA is the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists. The other actors’ union, the Screen Actors Guild, had urged AFTRA members to vote down the contract. AFTRA president Roberta Reardon says she thinks her members got a solid deal.
Roberta Reardon: “I think the problem is the leadership of the Hollywood faction of the guild has severely overpromised to their members and they are bound to underdeliver and they had to find a fall guy.”
The Screen Actors Guild is in its own negotiations with studios. Union officials say SAG wants a better deal than the one AFTRA accepted. Last week, movie and TV producers presented a “final contract offer” to SAG. The union plans to respond to that offer tomorrow.