Vaclav Havel Finally Gets His Awards

Vaclav Havel finally collected the three Obie Awards earned decades ago. “Havel was previously unable to collect his Obie Awards in person because, following the New York opening of The Memorandum, he returned to his home in Prague, where he was almost immediately placed under house arrest by the then Soviet-controlled government of Czechoslovakia.”

The Dance Movie That Beat James Bond

“Happy Feet has many felicities. It’s beautifully designed, it’s frequently funny (especially the five Latino penguins, definitely not emperors, whose streetwise leader, Ramón, has the voice of Robin Williams), and it’s feel-goody without being nauseating. It manages to leaven a somewhat clichéd situation with a clever blend of young people’s music–hip-hop, rap, soul: Disney it isn’t. And it confirms what dance people have always known: Dancing liberates, heals, binds.”

Using The Arts To Heal International Divides

Michael Kaiser has been ambitious since the day he took the reins at Washington’s Kennedy Center. “For the past three years, Kaiser, who volunteers as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department, has helped arts organizations in other countries improve their planning, marketing and fundraising, and he has brought artists from Iraq, China and elsewhere to the U.S… He and the Kennedy Center have focused their training efforts in countries that are ‘in transition and in trouble’ — including Pakistan and Iraq — because that’s where art can have the greatest impact.”

UK To Take On Piracy, But Leave Copyright Law Alone

The British government will boost its budget for combating music piracy by £5 million next year, and is prepared to launch an all-out crackdown on illegal file-trading. “A wide-ranging intellectual property review [also] recommended the existing 50-year copyright term for sound recordings be retained, much to the chagrin of a vocal lobby of major record labels and artists who wanted it increased.”

A Classic Turf War

Random House UK is squaring off with traditional British publishing power Penguin in what promises to be a high-stakes battle for control of the classic literature market. “This war is partly provoked by chain booksellers, who have reduced stock ranges and made it harder for new writers to gain the shelf space guaranteed to classic authors. Such writers are also mercifully free of advance payments, royalties or prima donna tendencies.”

Seeing Masterpieces Everywhere

“Art is making more money than ever before. This year, a new world record was set for the most expensive painting of all time – and broken a few months later. There is a frenzy in the market that encompasses everything from contemporary art to looted Greek and Roman antiquities. Unexpected discoveries fuel the fantasy that you or I can participate in this greedy sport, that valuable masterpieces lie in attics or cupboards, waiting to be recognised… There are only two questions about art we all recognise. But is it art? And if it is, what’s it worth?”

The Retro Christmas Craze

Television doesn’t often go in for retro. Everything in the TV business seems to be contractually required to scream “new and different,” even when the program in question is a pale imitation of dozens of others. So it’s notable that, every Christmas season, TV is suddenly awash in ultra-low tech, decidedly old-school holiday specials. It’s even more notable that viewers can’t seem to get enough of them. “It’s about the shared experience, the childhood memories that powerfully linger and the new memories adults are so desperate to create with their kids… Make no mistake, it’s the parents driving this train.”