People Generally Like Their Fairy Tales Without Pimps

Italian opera director Giancarlo del Monaco is mounting a new production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s beloved opera Hansel & Gretel in Berlin, and the local punditocracy is up in arms over del Monaco’s decision to rework the traditional fairy tale into a brutal commentary on pedophilia, child abuse, and urban violence. “The children’s mother is a whore and their father an alcoholic. The ‘sand-man’ is a cocaine-snorting pimp, who pursues Hansel and Gretel with a video camera and hands them over to the wicked witch – the modern ‘stranger’ who could be the man down the road, the local pervert, the Catholic priest.”

U.S. Troops Decimate Babylon

“Troops from the US-led force in Iraq have caused widespread damage and severe contamination to the remains of the ancient city of Babylon, according to a damning report released today by the British Museum… The ancient city has been used by US and Polish forces as a military depot for the past two years, despite objections from archaeologists.”

Keeping Up With Ontario

Ontario’s decision to bail out its floundering film industry with a new round of tax credits and incentives has put the rest of Canada’s movie-hungry cities in a tight spot. On the other end of the country, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell is planning to get personally involved in attempts to rescue his province’s Hollywood fortunes.

Is Nothing Sacred? Not At The Movies.

Why was movie attendance down in 2004? Desmond Ryan thinks it might just have something to do with the insulting and infuriating decision of the nation’s multiplexes to preface films with up to a half hour of over-loud commercials and horrid previews. “Taking in a movie used to provide an oasis from the avalanche of hucksterism in our daily lives. If you pay your own good money for a movie or, for that matter, Internet service, nobody should be allowed to intrude on it with ads.”

Those Inexplicably Influential Golden Globes

It’s Golden Globes time again, which means it’s once again time for entertainment writers the world over the bemoan the outsized influence wielded in Hollywood by the motley collection of hacks, suck-ups, and gladhanders who make up the Globes-sponsoring Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But like it or not, the Globes have managed to acheive first-team status in the movie industry, even if they are the awards show equivalent of Paris Hilton or Anna Nicole Smith – famous just for being famous.

Big Tasks Ahead For The Barnes

Winning the years-long court battles over its proposed move to central Philadelphia may have been the easy part for the Barnes Foundation. “In the months to come, the Barnes must expand its board, collect $100 million in capital pledges, raise at least $50 million more for an endowment and figure out how to cover its interim operating costs. And while stepping up its fund-raising, the foundation must select an architect and decide how to continue its educational mission.” And as if that weren’t enough, the opponents to the Barnes move haven’t conceded defeat just yet.

DaVinci’s Workshop

Leonardo DaVinci’s Florence workshop may have been discovered by researchers at an Italian military installation. “Italian museum officials are hoping that the discovery of the frescoes and five small rooms where Leonardo might have lived and worked, in a building just off the Piazza of the Santissima Annunziata in central Florence, will help flesh out the life of the artist, inventor and scientist.”