Movies: I wouldn’t mind if “Get Hard,” starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, were offensive if it were funny: it isn’t. The Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence “Serena” is supposedly a dog, but I may watch it anyway. Television: The Mark Morris dance masterpiece, “L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato,” will be broadcast Friday on PBS. On Sunday, HBO will broadcast the acclaimed documentary, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” Music: I’ve listened to the soundtrack from “Empire,” and it’s smooth stuff, but I have no desire to listen to it again. Yannick Nezet-Seguin is a wonderful conductor, and I’ve been savoring his recording of Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe.” Books: Every time I walk into a bookstore lately, I see dozens of new tomes but none I want to buy: back to Tolstoy. Sports: I did so well with my bets during the first regionals of March Madness, what could possibly go wrong this weekend? Hah! Finally: “Remembering what I had forgotten is the way most of the poems get started.” (Seamus Heaney)
The BBC doesn’t think Americans can handle big codpieces. That’s according to one of the stars of “Wolf Hall,” the upcoming BBC/PBS historical drama series based on Hilary Mantel’s two Man Booker Prize-winning books, “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies.” Actor Mark Rylance, who plays the show’s main protagonist, Thomas Cromwell, said producers toned down the size of the fashion accessories to make them more acceptable to viewers in the U.S. “I think the codpieces are too small,” Mark Rylance said during a question-and-answer session discussing the show. “I think it was a direction from our American producers PBS — they like very small codpieces which always seemed to be tucked away…. I can see for modern audiences, perhaps more in America, they may not know exactly what’s going on down there.” Codpieces are padded fabric flaps that men used to wear over the crotch of their pants to accentuate the genital area. They were popular in the 16th century, when “Wolf Hall” takes place. Damian Lewis, who stars in the series as Henry VIII, explained that the codpiece “was a symbol of your virility, your sense of adventure. They were encouraged, it was a fashion, and Henry liked them.” “Wolf Hall” starts April 5th on PBS.
Next Tuesday, March 31, marks a year since the untimely passing of Frankie Knuckles, the godfather of house, at the age of 59. It’s impossible to overestimate what a pivotal figure he was in the evolution of dance music. Not only did he inadvertently give the genre its name, but for three decades he remained a leading light in the worldwide dance music community. He is to house what Little Richard and Chuck Berry are to rock’n’roll.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia are disagreeing over whether “Star Wars” creator George Lucas‘ museum should be located along the city’s lakefront. The men are in an April 7 runoff for mayor of the Windy City. Garcia says he opposes the plan, calling it “a monument to Darth Vader.” He says the site is precious real estate and voters should have decided whether to locate it by the lake. He says Emanuel acted without consulting voters. He tells Emanuel: “You’re not the king of the city.” Emanuel says he’s glad Lucas chose Chicago over San Francisco for his museum because it will bring jobs and economic development. He says the city held town halls to get voters’ opinion.
The Guardian: ‘It’s an irony Frank Sinatra would appreciate: his official career retrospective, a glossy exhibition that takes great pains to minimize his legacy of snap-brim libertinism and dark motivations, opens by accidentally emphasizing his connection to the mafia. To be fair, the large gold lettering “M.O.B. Assn” that greets viewers of “Sinatra: An American Icon” doesn’t reference organized crime; it nods to Marty O’Brien, the boxing pseudonym of Sinatra’s father, and the bar he owned. Read more »
The Financial Times has posted my review of “The Tallest Tree in the Forest,” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Lichtenstein space. Bottom line: ‘No one quite like Paul Robeson, the subject of this solo show written and performed by Daniel Beaty, exists in our age. You would have to meld Tom Brady with Simon Russell Beale with Bryn Terfel, and that person would have to be a legal scholar and political activist to boot. What Beaty does, in this touching, informative evening, is provide an approximation.’
Afrobeat might seem an unexpected genre to appear on a list of Beyoncé’s musical inspirations. Even so, she had put together a series of unreleased tracks taking their musical cues from Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, according to producer and “Single Ladies” co-writer The-Dream. “We did a whole Fela album that didn’t go up,” The-Dream wrote, in an entry for Beyoncé song “End of Time” on lyric annotation site Genius. “It was right before we did [album] four. We did a whole different sounding thing – about 20 songs. She said she wanted to do something that sounds like Fela.”