Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love

Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love

Composer, conductor, genius, mensch: Marvin Hamlisch (June 2, 1944-Aug. 6, 2012) earned four Grammys, four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes, a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize before his untimely death, Hit after hit, including The Way We Were, Nobody Does It Better and scores for The Sting, Sophie’s Choice and the legendary Broadway hit A Chorus Line, made him the go-to composer and performer for film, Broadway, every U.S. President since Reagan and concert halls worldwide.

With exclusive access to Hamlisch’s personal archival treasure trove and complete cooperation from his family, Dramatic Forces and THIRTEEN’s American Masters explore his prolific life and career in the newly released, acclaimed documentary Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love. In the first film biography about Hamlisch, award-winning filmmaker and four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Dori Berinstein (Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, Gotta Dance, Show Business: The Road To Broadway) presents a deeply personal, insider portrait of one of the greatest artists of our time

Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love

Broadway Revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart Wins Three 2011 Tony Awards

The AIDS Memorial Candlelight Vigil, Washington DC, 1989

Broadway Revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart Wins Three 2011 Tony Awards

Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, which originally was performed at New York City’s Public Theater in 1985, won the 2011 Tony Award for revival of a play. The play is considered to be a literary landmark, contending with the AIDS crisis when few would speak of the disease afflicting gay men, including gays themselves. It remains the longest-running play ever staged at the Public Theater.

In addition, The Tony award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role went to Ellen Barkin, and the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play went to John Benjamin Hickey, both for their performances in The Normal Heart. Producer Daryl Roth accepted the award, but it was the playwright Larry Kramer, an outspoken gay activist for many years, who received the biggest welcome from the audience. The writer exhorted the gay community to “carry on the fight,” adding that “our day will come.”

The stunning, pulse-pounding ensemble drama tells the groundbreaking story of love, rage and pride as it follows a group of New Yorkers confronting the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. The story of a city in denial, The Normal Heart unfolds like a real-life political thriller, as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. A quarter-century after it was written, this unflinching, and totally unforgettable look at the sexual politics of New York City during the AIDS crisis remains one of the theater’s most powerful evenings ever.

Tony Awards Acceptance Speech: The Normal Heart

Broadway’s Revival of The Normal Heart and The AIDS Crisis

Highlights From Broadway’s The Normal Heart

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The Projectionist: A Magical Miniature Movie Palace

The Projectionist: A Magical Miniature Movie Palace

Photography by:  Kendall Messick

The Projectionist is a wonderful series of photographs and a documentary short film by Kendall Messick, the story of Gordon Brinckle who created The Shalimar, a fully operational tribute to cinema’s great movie palaces constructed entirely in his basement.  The reality of Gordon’s “theatre of renown,” as he lovingly called it, was beyond anything you could have imagined.  His movie palace in the basement was a complete environment, containing all of the elements one would expect in an actual movie theater: a marquee, box office, auditorium, stage, screen, organ and a projection booth complete with projectors.  There were intricate details in the design and decoration everywhere that spoke to Gordon’s passion and obsession.

Gordon Bickle’s miniature theatre was available for private showings, but he would also come and sit there to achieve a sense of calm.  It’s a matter of living the dream and finding comfort in it, sustaining your own vision against the odds.  The photographer Kendall Messick celebrates neglected lives, often of the elderly, and in Gordon Brinckle he discovered a real charmer.  The documentary is a meditation on aging, and it found a lively human spirit in Brinckle’s obsessions, bringing to light the work of an artist who worked with a giant heart.

The Projectionist: A Magical Miniature Movie Palace

PBS Interview: The Projectionist

Slide Show: The Projectionist/A Magical Miniature Movie Palace

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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La Gaîté Lyrique: A Poetic Journey Through a 19th Century Parisian Theater

La Gaîté Lyrique: A Poetic Journey Through a 19th Century Parisian Theater

La Gaîté Lyrique is a stunning, dreamlike two-minute 3D animated short film by Passion Paris Director Yves Geleyn.  The film was created to celebrate La Gaîté Lyrique, the 19th century Paris theater abandoned since the 1980s, which will blossom as a center for digital arts and contemporary music this coming December.  The animation is a stunning work both in the 3D animation and also the interactive experience, combining elements of Baroque theater and stylised Japanese Kabuki dance.  The film’s opening moments lead to a shimmering cascade, immersing the viewer in magical experiences as flowing shapes of all descriptions are conjured from air and water in magnificent, abstract spectacle, conveying the promise of the new theater, the art, science and sound.

La Gaîté Lyrique: A Poetic Journey Through a 19th Century Parisian Theater

(Enjoy this Magnificent, Magical Spectacle in Full-Screen Mode)

In addition, Yves Geleyn expands this magnificent film, creating an interactive experience that allows the viewer to venture inside the cathedral and become immersed in its magical atmosphere, bathing in the shimmering visuals and wonderful soundscape.  Please click the image below to live the full experience:

An Interactive Passage Through the Soul of La Gaîté Lyrique

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Happy Holidays: It’s the Superspectacular Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular!!

Happy Holidays to All!!

The Superspectacular Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

The Christmas Spectacular

Seventy-five years old and forever young, The 2007 Radio City Christmas Spectacular came flying into the Midtown Art Deco Radio Music Hall and proved to be nothing less than “Superspectacular.” For its diamond-anniversary incarnation the grand old show has been made over, from terpsichore to technology, kicking and singing into the 21st century while retaining and refining the glories of the 20th.

These include the magnificent Rockettes, more versatile and saucy than ever; the breathtaking precision and suspense of The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers; and, of course, Santa Claus, individually (the hearty Charles Edward Hall) and in vast numbers in the Here Comes Santa Claus routine that fills the huge stage with hordes of hoofing Kriss Kringles.

The revisions still result in a warm and thoughtful embrace of everything from the introductory flight of Santa to New York, to the truncated Nutcracker and a re-imagined New York at Christmas, which puts the Rockettes in snowy white (with touches of red and green) aboard a double-decker sightseeing bus. The bus takes them and the audience on a singing, dancing tour of mid-Manhattan that includes Central Park and ice skaters.

The visit to the North Pole that is the Magic Is There number, which has the Rockettes dressed as rag dolls extending seasonal greetings, has been wisely shortened and restaged to include a Santa-cynical New York teenager. And the sparklingly new Let Christmas Shine, an anniversary routine, has the Rockettes in glittering crystal costumes. Even the reverent Living Nativity, which revisits the first Christmas and is staged with camels, sheep and donkeys, has been trimmed, giving time for a grand finale that provides the Rockettes and the rest of the cast an opportunity, after three-quarters of a century, to take the most well earned of bows.

Videos about the Rockettes and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

What follows below is a selection of videos about the Rockettes and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. The first video is vintage 1930s footage that shows the very first group of Rockettes. This is succeeded by a video slideshow about the show, and then two videos of selected scenes from the Christmas Spectacular. The next video is of a (very leggy) photo-shoot of the Rockettes in Times Square, followed by a performance by the Rockettes in Times Square on The Today Show.

The First Group of Rockettes (1930s)

Narrated Slideshow of The 2007 Christmas Spectacular

The 2007 Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

Additional Newer Scenes from the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

Photo-Shoot of the Rockettes in Times Square

The Today Show: The Radio City Rockettes in Times Square

The Rockettes Spectacular Christmas Show

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Project Bandaloop: The Whole World’s Their Stage

Project Bandaloop: The Whole World’s Their Stage

The Bandaloop Dancers: The Whole World’s Their Stage

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Richard Avedon: Deconstructing the Personality to Burnish the Legend

Richard Avedon: Deconstructing the Personality to Burnish the Legend

Portraits to Confirm and Confer Identity

For more than fifty years, Richard Avedon’s portraits filled the pages of the country’s finest magazines. His stark imagery and brilliant insight into his subjects’ characters made him one of the premier American portrait photographers. Born in New York City in 1923, Richard Avedon dropped out of high school and joined the Merchant Marine’s photographic section. Upon his return in 1944, he found a job as a photographer in a department store. Within two years he had been “found” by an art director at Harper’s Bazaar and was producing work for them as well as Vogue, Look, and a number of other magazines.

During the early years, Avedon made his living primarily through work in advertising. His real passion, however, was the portrait and its ability to express the essence of its subject. As Avedon’s notoriety grew, so did the opportunities to photograph celebrities from a broad range of disciplines. Avedon’s ability to present personal views of public figures, who were usually distant and inaccessible, was immediately recognized by the public and the celebrities themselves.

Many sought out Avedon for their most public images. While many photographers are interested in either catching a moment in time or preparing a formal image, Avedon found a way to do both. In 1994, the Whitney Museum brought together fifty years of his work in the retrospective, Richard Avedon: Evidence. In 1989, Avedon received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London.

Avedon’s Studio: A Dramatic Arena

Avedon’s studio was in a converted stable-house on New York’s East 75th Street. Once entering the house, you walked into a lobby whose brick walls were lined with Avedon’s legendary images of Marilyn Monroe and a large print of the model Dovima in a black-and-white Dior evening gown, her long arms stretched between the long trunk of one elephant and the floppy ear of another. You continued past a kitchen galley, down a few steps to a dressing room, and then down a few more steps, past a small room with desks and a light box, through a doorway, and finally into a white space that was repainted for every sitting.

This white space was like a stage, lit by a simple key light, with stretched white cloth behind it. The shift from the reception commotion to the studio quiet, from the real world to a play one, was abrupt and dramatic. Avedon referred to it as his set; in fact it was an arena that put anyone who stepped into it immediately on show. The white floor separated the subject from the unpainted rest of the cavernous space, as well as from the workers who occupied it (Avedon and his three assistants). The arrangement inspired a drama on both sides of the camera: between acting and being seen.

The encounter, like the setting, raised the stakes of play. The game was hide-and-seek, and it was exhilarating and scary. What would Avedon see? Or see through? For each subject, the arrangement created a kind of immanence, a palpable internal demand; the subject had to do something, to be someone. The negotiation of identity was a simulacrum of life. Here in the studio, the subject was called on to improvise; whether professional showman or novice, they had either to mask or to pronounce themselves. From Avedon’s perspective, all choices were telling. His task was to encourage, interpret, re-stage and retouch the portraits in order to confirm and confer identity.

The desire to be properly seen was one of the reasons that, for decades, the performing legends of the Western world paraded through Avedon’s studio door. Many of them could understand their own talent, but they couldn’t grasp what it was in them that attracted the public so powerfully. “They don’t always know what they’re showing,” Avedon once said. “I never quite understood it, this sex symbol,” Monroe said of herself. In his portraits of her, Avedon captured that sense of confusion about her charisma, which she was able to control in front of a camera, but which she imperfectly understood.

Whether Avedon was mourning his father in a series of harrowing death-bed portraits, capturing dramatic portraits of renowned celebrities or exploring the burned-out faces of Utah drifters, within the camera’s vigilant focus the position of a head, a hand, or a lidded eye assumed the significance of a symbol. These studies have a dark glamor. The glamor of Avedon’s portraits, the arrangement of balance of line, texture, figure, and shadows within the frame, speaks with an uncanny, heartbreaking eloquence.

Richard Avedon: The Photography of Minimal Essentialism

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Crisis and Power

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