In Search Of Help For Toronto Theatre

The Toronto Theatre Alliance is looking for a leader. The organization is at a crossroads, and its mission, as well as its effectiveness, is a bit murky. “From a clear lack of initial purpose, the problem with the organization continues with its membership policies. They boast that they represent ‘200 professional theatre, dance and opera member companies,’ but a look at those members makes you wonder what they’re using as a definition of professional.”

Attack Dog – Why Must Critic Bloom Be So Negative?

Literary critic Harold Bloom has been quick to condemn awarding the National Book Award to Stephen King. While Steve Almond doesn’t necessarily disagree with Bloom about King, he is confused as to Bloom’s purpose in attacking: “What I don’t quite get—and maybe this is because I haven’t spent long enough in academia—is why Bloom feels it necessary to sound off against writers he deems inferior, as opposed to celebrating the writers (and the ideas) he admires. And, furthermore, why he chooses to do so in such a lazy manner.”

The Amazon Factor

Amazon’s book-selling rankings are becoming increasingly influential in promoting a book. “Amazon is an early indicator of consumer enthusiasm. It’s a place where you look to for early signals as to a book’s potential in the marketplace.’ Authors indeed are paying increasing heed to Amazon’s unique and influential role in publicizing and selling books. While the company doesn’t break out its books sales, it sold $1.7 billion worth of books, music, videos and DVDs for the first half of the year.”

Rosie’s “Taboo”

Rosie O’Donnell has always been one of Broadway’s biggest boosters. Now she’s putting her own money behind her words. “Taboo,” a new musical with songs by the 1980’s pop star Boy George, is being backed by O’Donnell, who is putting up $10 million of her fortune to produce it. “While that alone would make her involvement remarkable — most shows on Broadway get their money from dozens of smaller investors — Ms. O’Donnell has also taken the risky step of casting herself as the principal draw for ‘Taboo,’ using her brassy image and her reputation as an arbiter of suburban taste to lure audiences.”

Elia Kazan, 94

Director Elia Kazan’s achievements in theater and cinema “helped define the American experience for more than a generation. For Broadway, his legendary productions included “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Death of a Salesman.” His movie classics included “On the Waterfront” and “East of Eden.”

Finding Spirituality In Shopping

Where is the new spiritual center of Britain? A shopping complex. “Shopping — in the sense of the ceaseless search for the next object that will thrill for a moment and satisfy for a minute — is the main interest of people without purpose. The problem with the British is that they are not even very good at shopping, just as they are not very good at their other passion, football, to judge by the results. For to be good at shopping requires discrimination, which itself requires some mental cultivation. And it is precisely the lack of this that makes British shops (on the whole — of course, there are exceptions) so deeply dispiriting.”