An Old Theatre’s History

The Milwaukee Theatre began life as the Milwaukee Auditorium, nearly a century ago. “Enrico Caruso sang there before 6,800 people in 1910, a few months after the Auditorium opened Sept. 21, 1909. Doughboys used it for a barracks during World War I. John Philip Sousa and his band played in 1929. The first Milwaukee Sentinel Sports Show was held there in 1940. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there in 1964.”

Confronting An Ugly Past

Russians are not generally eager to discuss the dark period in which Josef Stalin ruled their nation, and who can blame them? During his rule, Stalin ordered the killing or banishment of more than 10 million of his countrymen, a human catastrophe which even today is underrecognized as one of the great governmental crimes of the 20th Century, and which Russia has never fully confronted. “Indeed, though millions of their compatriots died or were imprisoned on Stalin’s watch, many Russians don’t consider him among the 20th century’s most evil men. In a poll early this year, a clear majority of Russians said Stalin’s role in the country’s life was, on balance, positive.” Now, a new play being produced in Moscow is putting the horror of the Stalin regime on full display, and forcing modern Russia to acknowledge and deal with the dictator’s true legacy.

Enough With The Subheads, Already!

There seems to be a belief on the part of newspaper and magazine editors that the people who buy their product hate to read, writes Jim Walsh. This would seem like an inherent contradiction, since the consumer who buys a periodical must presumably know that s/he will have to read it to really get full value for her/his money. But the creeping use of subheads – those little in-story boldface descriptors that only exist to tell you in advance what the words in the upcoming paragraph will say – is an unquestionable assault on serious writing, and serious reading, and Walsh isn’t going to stand for it.

Special Screeners – Newly Hot

“Special screenings are hardly a new idea. Publicist Peggy Siegal, considered by some to be the mother of this invention, has been doing them for more than 20 years. But their importance to film marketers—especially those with smaller budget art-house movies—has supersized in the last 30 days. Film marketing was already a difficult gambit in a 24/7 world of celebrity stimuli and instant, online gratification, but last month the Motion Picture Association of America made it even more difficult when it decided to severely limit how film distributors could raise the awareness of their films and still be considered for the one of the best marketing tools out there, an Oscar nomination.”

Latino USA

Latinos are now the largest ethnic minority in the US, and they’re having a big influence on mainstream culture. “There are now more than 35 million Latinos in the US. In the last year, Spanish has become the most popular foreign language in American high schools and universities.”

Vassanji Wins The Giller. Again.

“M.G. Vassanji, who won the first Giller Prize in 1994, won for the second time — for his novel The In-Between World Of Vikram Lall — as the most celebrated literary prize in the country marked its 10th anniversary last night. Vassanji, a former physicist who grew up in East Africa, is the first two-time winner of the $25,000 fiction prize… The other finalists were John Gould for Kilter: 55 Fictions and John Bemrose for his first novel The Island Walkers.”

Tilson Thomas Out Front Again

Since Michael Tilson Thomas took up the reins of the San Francisco Symphony nearly a decade ago, the group’s national profile has steadily increased, and the partnership between conductor and orchestra has led to several critically acclaimed projects designed to bring symphonic music back to cultural prominence. Next year, the SFS will launch a major new multimedia project designed to increase audience understanding of classical music. In addition to national TV broadcasts, “the project will also include the development of a web site and the creation of DVDs. The Symphony is working with Minnesota Public Radio to develop a radio series designed to air concurrently with the TV series.”