The Greatest Collection That Never Was

In 1973, British Prime Minister Edward Heath made a list of the 35 most important artworks in private hands. A “declassified 1973 document lists 35 paintings by foreign artists, each then worth at least £500,000. The entire list of 35 works could now be worth as much as £1 billion. The idea was that if the pictures ever came up for sale, they should be bought by public collections.”

Julian Schnabel Returns

Julian Schnabel is back. “How Alpha-male American, how gloriously, absurdly, heart-on-his-sleeve, Schnabel appears to be in a European setting. Surrounded by demure, waist-coated museum officials, he strides, shaggy-haired and bear-like in a great coat and baggy trousers, up and down the prestigious German gallery that has dignified him with a retrospective.”

Nudity Across The Atlantic

While American media tut-tetted about the Janet Jackson Superbowl breast (but declined to run uncensored photoes with the stories, the English press gleefully published all. Why the different attitudes? “The structure of the media market seems a likelier explanation. Britain has ten competing national newspapers. Sensationalism jostles with pornography in the pages of the tabloids; softer versions of both infect the broadsheets. America’s papers, which tend to be local near-monopolies, can afford a loftier attitude. Newspapers set the tone for television, and the regulators’ attitudes.”

The Undoing Of The Seattle Fringe

What sank the Seattle Fringe Festival? “Between insurance and payroll taxes tripling and funding by pre-established grantors tumbling some 46% over the last year, the organization had very little breathing room to spare. The open letter additionally explains that, while efforts to reschedule the festival from spring to September heightened its ‘artistic viability,’ the event ‘not only failed to draw additional audiences, but attendance actually declined.”

A Prize To Promote Dance

How to promote contemporary dance? How about a competition? “The idea of the Place prize is that any British professional choreographer, at any stage of their career, may submit an idea via a three-minute video. These will be tested blind by experts, and 20 will be awarded development money so they can be transformed into fully fledged 15-minute works. Then, come the summer, these 20 will be performed and an overall winner chosen. That person will get a whopping £25,000 – that’s five grand more than the Turner prize.”

Damn! – Can You Say That On TV?

There’s no question that language has grown coarser on TV in recent years. And the number of complaints and outrage about swearing seems less. Yet context still matters. “The problem for both broadcasters and moral lobbyists is that, rather like the gap between the rich and the poor, the gulf between liberals and puritans increases annually. A putative radio or television audience will now include some people who are more tolerant than has ever been the case, and some people more sensitive than society has ever contained.”

Broadway – Swimming To Irrelevance

This has not been a good year for Broadway. The closing of Gypsy only underscores the problems. “The murderous economics of Broadway mean that people are prepared to pay high prices only for a copper-bottomed hit and that theatregoing has become an event rather than a habit. But I would go even further and say that Broadway has become a tawdry irrelevance in the larger scheme of American theatre. It is mostly a showcase for imported hits from London or the American non-profit sector.”

The Battle Over Disney

“Michael Eisner’s Disney has been a case study in poor corporate governance. Over the years, the board was disproportionately stocked with insiders, professionals who had dealings with the company, people whose children or relatives worked at the company, and others who were ill-equipped to exercise oversight over Eisner. One of Eisner’s main deficiencies has been an inability to manage key relationships and heed advice.” And now Eisner may be fighting for his job…

English National Ballet Cancels Ballet Because Of Money Problems

The English National Ballet is canceling an ambitious new production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses because of money problems and sinking ticket sales. “A shortfall in revenue from its vital Christmas season is being blamed. December’s takings from a production of The Nutcracker at London’s Hammersmith Apollo fell £500,000 short of what it could have been at the company’s home.”

Ring Fans Pile On Critic

Movie critic David Sterritt did the unexplainable – he panned Lord of the Rings. Ane then the floods of emails began arriving. “Most of the e-mails can be grouped into a few basic categories. Many come from people who feel I’ve hopelessly misunderstood author J.R.R. Tolkien and filmmaker Peter Jackson all my life, and want to set me straight. Others complain I’m just snooty and want to flaunt my supercilious airs. Still others take genuine pity on me, and want to enlighten me so I can love the movies too.”