A Borders bookstore in Minneapolis has approved a new union contract for its workers. The move is significant because the outlet is only the second Borders store in the country to go union, and the contract comes more than two years after workers had initially voted to unionize. During the interim, the workers who organized the union drive quit in disgust and the company was accused of trying to break the workers’ resolve through intimidation. Now, the hope from the union is that the contract will provide it an opening into other area booksellers.
“Amid questions about the propriety of the event, the Corcoran Gallery of Art yesterday abruptly postponed a cultural program it planned to sponsor next week in cooperation with Cuban diplomats.” The gallery is claiming that timing issues were responsible for the cancellation, but pressure from the U.S. State Department may have played a role as well.
As viewed from Canada, America’s new morality crusade is not only pathetic and wrongheaded but maddening. “Religious right. Moral majority. Family values. Pick a catchphrase and behold the stupefying ascent of the shrill and pathetic, the petty and disconnected, the scolding band of castigators hellbent on telling others what they can watch and hear and even think… Who are these snivelling whiners? These self-righteous, holier-than-thou grumblers who have programmed ‘FCC’ into their speed dial?”
New York’s City Opera has elevated its development director to the post of executive director. Jane Gullong’s ascension displaces Sherwin Goldman, who will remain with the company and dedicate himself full-time to the daunting task of finding the company a new home. City Opera had hoped to be the anchoring arts tenant of the new Freedom Tower at Ground Zero, but its application was turned down. The company is denying rumors that Goldman was forced out of the top job by the board.
“After an all-night negotiating session, Broadway’s stagehands and producers reached an agreement early yesterday on a new three-year contract. The deal is the latest between producers and the theater industry’s three major unions, effectively assuring labor peace on Broadway at least through the spring of 2007.”
Age is a cruel mistress in the dance world, and for Martine Lemy, principal ballerina of Canada’s National Ballet, a fortieth birthday spells the end of a career. “Just when she is feeling at her most healthy, both physically and emotionally, she is giving up her principal-dancer contract and leaving the company at the end of this season.” The issue isn’t whether she can still dance – she can – but for how long she can dance. Lemy had already taken herself out of the company’s longest productions due to decreasing stamina, “which makes her a financial liability to a cash-poor company.” She offered to come back for less money, but the company declined the offer.
“Five veteran performers — nearly one fourth of the troupe — are leaving Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and will not be on hand for Hubbard’s spring engagement. They are among the company’s best and brightest, and they’re leaving for a variety of reasons, some of them moving into other fields… The changes represent the most dramatic shift in troupe personnel since the arrival of Jim Vincent as artistic director in 2000.”
The media giant Viacom, which owns CBS, UPN, and Infinity Radio, among other properties, has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle a raft of “indecency” charges brought by the newly prickly Federal Communications Commission. “The consent decree with the Federal Communications Commission resolves, among other things, complaints about shock jock Howard Stern and the radio team of Greg ‘Opie’ Hughes and Anthony Cumia.” More significant than the fine, which won’t hurt Viacom much at all, are the non-monetary elements of the consent decree, under which Viacom has agreed to install delay equipment in its radio stations, and to immediately suspend any employee the FCC accuses of indecency in the future.
A Hollywood actor has been fined $300,000 in a court case brought by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences after two “screeners” (preview copies of Oscar-nominated films sent to voters) he was given by the Academy turned up on the Internet. The lawsuit was filed last year by Warner Bros. against actor Carmine Caridi, whose distribution of the tapes initially led to the Academy’s short-lived ban on screeners.
Italian director Franco Zeffirelli is being awarded a British knighthood. Though Zeffirelli is being commended for his “valuable services to British performing arts”, his knighthood will further tighten already close relations between Tony Blair’s government and that of Silvio Berlusconi.