The Aussie Director Drain

“Back in the heyday of the Australian film industry – some 20 years ago now – Australian directors sweated out a solid slate of local films before going Stateside. Today, however, the film industry’s talent drain to the US has accelerated to an alarming degree. Directors make only one or two films here before being presented with creative opportunities that have them reaching for their passports.” The question is why?

Georgia’s Cultural Rebirth

“Georgian artists who headed west before and during the civil strife of the early 90s have begun to reconnect with their homeland, bringing know-how, money, contacts and leadership. Georgian troupes are starting to travel abroad again. Across the entire spectrum of the performing arts, Georgians are getting to grips with the freedoms and responsibilities that a fragile democracy confers. A new culture of autonomy and self-help is being implanted – but no one expects it to flower overnight.”

Passion Begets Passion; Blandness Breeds Indifference

American orchestras seem to be making a very deliberate attempt to reel in concertgoers with non-threatening programs full of “standard repertoire” works which couldn’t possibly cause anyone to have a strong adverse reaction. But the danger of such a strategy is that such “safe” programs frequently don’t inspire any strong reaction, positive or negative. Alexander Coppock has had enough of this approach: “When you program idle, trite, and useless music for my education and protection, I feel condescended to, because I have a need for honesty. Would you be willing to program music that you love, so that I may love it?”

Super Trouper – Vanska Bringing ABBA Into The Concert Hall

Osmo Vänskä, artistic director of the Minnesota Orchestra, will conduct his musicians playing his own arrangements of music by the 1970s Swedish pop supergroup ABBA as part of the 2005-06 season, announced today. While classical purists might view this as “Waterloo,” Vänskä says that expanding musical horizons is “The name of the game.”

Canada’s TV, A 2004 Snapshot

“Spending on Canadian programming rose by 5.8 per cent to $575.5 million in 2004. But the portion spent on comedy and drama — perennially a sensitive issue within the industry — fell by 13.2 per cent to $86.5 million.” But “compared to 2000 spending, the payout for dramatic and comedy programming is still up by $8 million, or 10.1 per cent, for an average annual increase over the period of 2.4 per cent. Overall spending increased for reality, musical/variety and news programming. In 2004, nearly 8,000 people were employed in the industry, accounting for more than $553 million in salaries.”

Ryan: Speed Up Oscars But Don’t Trim Speeches

So organizers want the Oscars to zip along faster? Fine, writes Maureen Ryan. Just don’t cut the acceptance speeches. “There are so many other things that could be trimmed instead. How about taking out any and all musical numbers? That’s 20 minutes gone, easily. Lose the lifetime achievement awards, or make those presentations three minutes long, at most. As for the long montage of actors who’ve died, why not put that on And do we need to see the accountants who tabulate the votes, listen to forced, unfunny “banter” from presenters or hear a speech from the head of the academy? No, no and no. But we do need to see actresses cry while wearing couture gowns.”

Wilson Was UK Libraries’ Most-Borrowed Author

Children’s book author Jacqueline Wilson had the most books borrowed last year from British libraries. Danielle Steel was runner-up, with Josephine Cox in third place, both for the second year in a row. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the most borrowed book. Wilson’s books were borrowed more than two million times, according to the Public Lending Right (PLR) organisation.”

Arthur Miller Ailing

Playwright Arthur Miller, 89, is battling cancer, pneumonia and a heart condition and is in hospital. Miller, a fiery moralist whose plays include “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible” and “A View from the Bridge,” had been in hospice care at Copeland’s New York apartment since his release several weeks ago from Memorial Sloan-Kettering.