“Junket” Press Movie Awards Gaining A Rep

“In just 10 years, the Broadcast Film Critics Association has transformed its awards show from a small luncheon for winners into a nationally telecast special. Nearly half its voters are part of the “movie junket press,” a cadre of mostly out-of-town reviewers and writers who travel to interview filmmakers and performers at events that are paid for and orchestrated by the studios. Their often-gushy quotes are then splashed across advertisements for many of the year’s worst-reviewed films. Studio publicists say they make certain to pay attention to the group’s members, and they say the Critics’ Choice Awards are gaining on the Golden Globes.”

Cork Is For Culture

Cork, Ireland is about to be crowned the new European Capital of Culture. It’s the smallest city to win the title. “An ambitious programme of more than 230 events and projects range from the international to the idiosyncratically local, from Relocation, the pan-European theatrical collaboration which will transform the city centre in the summer, to celebrations of the late rock guitarist and local hero Rory Gallagher, and of the Corkonian passion for Gaelic football and hurling. Meanwhile hundreds of needles have already been clicking for a mammoth textile project, the Knitting Map, the pattern incorporating CCTV street images and satellite imaging.”

Rushdie: Horrified At Lack Of Official Criticism Of Sikh Violence

Author Salman Rushdie, who had to go into hiding after being the subject of a religious fatwa, says he’s dismayed to see the response of official Britain to the death threats against a Sikh playwright in Birmingham. “It has been horrifying to see the response. It is pretty terrible to hear government ministers expressing approval of the ban and failing to condemn the violence, when they should be supporting freedom of expression.”

Broadway’s A Bust So Far This Year

“Look at the shows that have opened so far in the 2004-05 season, and you see a sea of revivals and stand-up comedy. There was a time when it was thrilling to see classics reinterpreted, reconceived or rediscovered. But for the most part many of the dusted-off shows are museum pieces. This would be fine if they were surrounded by other productions of new plays and musicals. But at season’s midpoint, anything that doesn’t have a pre-sold brand name of some kind might as well head straight for regional theater hills (not that we’re facing a renaissance of nationwide creativity there either).”

The Digital Book (And What It Won’t Remember)

The drive to digitize every book is a good thing, right? It will make information more easily available to more people. And yet, digital records fail to include some of the traditional book’s essential information. “The book as we know it carries within itself something more concrete: its own archeology. Dependent on ever-changing technology, e-books are relatively ephemeral; and although this need not be so, they tend to obscure their own origins and inner workings. Seeking to tame the ghosts of the past, the digital future may end up erasing its own history.”

Culture At War – The Year Pop Culture Was Politics

“The past 12 months put forth two faces because American entertainment was riven by partisan politics and the culture wars emanating from them. We saw all the symptoms of split personality play out every day on our TVs, DVDs, CD racks, bookshelves, and movie screens, in reds and blues that rarely blended into a peaceful and Princely purple. Even the most benign of pop provocations — a metal-clad aureole, stage prattle from Linda Ronstadt, ”Saving Private Ryan” — were transformed into politically divisive events analyzed relentlessly on talk radio.”

Credit Where Credit Is Due (A New ArtForm)

TV’s opening credits are changing. “The old style, called “turn and look,” centered on the show’s stars looking into the camera as their names scrolled underneath. The new openings are sophisticated mini-movies, complete with their own scores, celebrating ideas, metaphors, symbols, even poetry as the credits roll. It’s a trend, television executives say, that’s being driven by the increasing use of digital technology and a desire to spotlight a show’s concept and brand rather than individual actors.”