Category: Blogs

Monster Mash: 'Persepolis 2.0' stirs controversy; Royal Opera House wants bloggers; Zeta-Jones could be Broadway bound

August 21, 2009 |  9:03 am


-- Political protest: Two expatriate Iranian comic book artists have updated Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" to reflect the recent election controversies in their home country.

-- Star power: Catherine Zeta-Jones could be headed for Broadway in a new production of Sondheim's "A Little Night Music," according to one report.

-- Commemoration: Berliners are being invited to paint on remaining parts of the Wall ahead of the Nov. 9 anniversary of its collapse.

-- New voices: London's Royal Opera House is looking for bloggers to contribute to its website.

-- Thinning the ranks: New York's Whitney Museum of American Art has laid off 4% of its staff in an attempt to reduce costs.

-- Quality entertainment: Times theater critic Charles McNulty appreciates Showtime's "Nurse Jackie."

-- Honored: Pierre Audi, artistic director of the Netherlands Opera, will receive the first Johannes Vermeer Award, a prize presented by the Dutch minister of culture to recognize achievements in the arts.

-- Lawsuit: An art dealer is suing actress Claire Forlani for claiming that he sold her a fake photographic print.

-- Revisions: A new code proposes to change the way Australian aboriginal art is traded.

-- Accident: A man drowned while swimming in a lake that the Indianapolis Museum of Art is developing as part of an art and nature park.

-- David Ng

Photo: A scene from the feature-film adaptation of "Persepolis." Credit: Marjane Satrapi / Sony Pictures Classics

Monster Mash: Top museum earners; Landesman confirmed for NEA, Leach for NEH; 'Spider-Man' musical kaput for now

August 10, 2009 |  8:39 am


-- Top museum earners: Glenn D. Lowry, the head of New York's Museum of Modern Art, made $1.32 million in the year ending in June.  Also on the list is James Wood, the J. Paul Getty Trust's president and CEO, who made $1.1 million. 

-- Confirmation: The Senate has approved Rocco Landesman as the new head of the National Endowment for the Arts and Jim Leach for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

-- All is not lost: LACMA's Michael Govan claims that donors are stepping forward to rescue the museum's film program.

-- Twitter, the opera: London's Royal Opera House is creating a libretto out of tweets and will set them to familiar opera tunes for a staging planned for next month.

-- Waxworks: Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne takes a look at Hollywood's new Madame Tussauds museum.

-- Dramatic summit: Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis blogs from the Ojai Playwrights Conference.

-- Riled up: The Dallas arts community is upset over proposed cuts and other changes to the city's cultural affairs department.

-- Historic discovery: A museum in Antwerp, Belgium, says it has authenticated a painting as having been created by Rembrandt.

-- Property values: Photographer Annie Leibovitz's financial problems stem in part from her costly renovations of her Greenwich Village properties.

-- Caught in a web: More confirmation that production has been halted on the upcoming Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

-- Rocker innovates: David Byrne has turned a building into a musical instrument thanks to an old pump organ.

-- David Ng

Photo: A view of the interior of New York's Museum of Modern Art. Credit: Associated Press

A 'West Side Story' for the Twitter set

June 29, 2009 |  2:41 pm

When the much-anticipated revival of  “West Side Story” opened on Broadway earlier this year, one of the most-talked about aspects of the show was the translation of songs and scenes into Spanish. The change was designed to give more of a dramatic edge to the Latino characters 52 years after the Stephen Sondheim-Leonard Bernstein-Arthur Laurents musical first opened.

Well, sorry, guys, we know you’re big-time Tony Award-winning legends in musical theater, but this is the Internet Age. A bilingual “West Side Story” is sooooo March 2009. 

Those Facebook-addicted, Pandora-checking, evite-conflicted blog-savvy forces over at have updated your update, putting a Net spin on the musical with their latest offering, “Web Site Story.” If you like the video, we suggest you Tweet this link to all your friends and followers out there. We know we did (follow us on Twitter @culturemonster).

-- Lisa Fung

Related coverage: Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest: It's a rap

Monster Mash: Josh Groban, Kiri Te Kanawa honored; T.R. Knight does theater in L.A.; job cuts at Art Institute of Chicago*

June 22, 2009 |  9:22 am

Josh Groban

-- Hall of famers: Josh Groban, Kiri Te Kanawa receive honors at the Hollywood Bowl. Photo gallery of others appearing at the Bowl.

-- L.A. first, Broadway later: Despite rumors of a Broadway appearance as his next move, T.R. Knight of "Grey's Anatomy" will star in "Parade" at Mark Taper Forum.

--Move over, Shepard Fairey: A guerrilla artist in North Carolina faces charges over his hitchhiking monster made out of stolen orange traffic barrels.

-- Cost cutting: The Art Institute of Chicago lays off 22 people, or 3% of its staff.

-- Cost cutting, Part 2: Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn., is laying off 4 to 5 people, or 10% of its staff. UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Long Wharf would be cutting 40 to 50 people.

-- Help for the president: 21 artists, dealers and curators offer their choices of artwork for the Obama White House.

-- Changing jobs: AmericanTheatreWeb is shutting down; Andy Propst moves to TheaterMania next month.

--  Post-Jeff Koons: Versailles plans its next contemporary art exhibition  -- Xavier Veilhan --on the palace grounds

-- Is she or isn't she -- and do we care? Mariah Carey reportedly plans to make her West End theater debut in a mystery show in London in the spring.

-- No sale: Eli Broad takes his New York apartment off the market.

-- Cursed or coincidence?: A problematic production of the "Scottish play" in Thousand Oaks.

-- Sarod player: India's "National Living Treasure," performer-composer Ali Akbar Khan, dies at 87.

-- Attention must be paid: Benedict Nightingale of the Times of London offers up 15 golden rules of theater etiquette.

-- Lisa Fung

Photo: Josh Groban at the Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Monster Mash: Cirque founder sues; arts audience declining; more on OCMA art sale; new Mahler blog

June 16, 2009 |  9:17 am

Bolton Colburn --Controversy continues: Director of Laguna Museum of Art seeks chance to acquire plein air paintings quietly sold by OCMA to a private collector.

--Bad news, good news: Audience for the arts continues to decline, but the Internet offers hope, according to study by the National Endowment for the Arts.

--Unflattering depiction: Cirque du Soleil founder sues to halt bio depicting him as a bed-hopping scoundrel with an inexhaustible appetite for sex, drugs, and a rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

--Moving east: Erik Ehn leaving CalArts to head playwriting program at Brown University.

--Angry over job loss: Architect Richard Rogers claims "abuse of power" and "unconstitutional" behavior by Prince Charles in London residential project.

--Honoring composer: Universal Edition launches a Gustav Mahler blog (via The Rest Is Noise)

--Big-name directors: Film director Jonathan Demme and Tony-winner Joe Mantello to stage shows at MCC Theater.

--Flat-out change: Site of architect Norman Foster's planned 118-floor Russia Tower in Moscow now set to become a parking lot.

--This is a publicity stunt: Edinburgh Fringe announces contest for best publicity stunt.

--At long last: PBS to air "Chess" concert production, featuring Josh Groban and Adam Pascal on Wednesday. (See preview, find time slot here.)

--Looking for laughs: John Leguizamo hits the road with tour of "John Leguizamo Live!"

--More on Twitter: The venerable Royal Shakespeare Company starts Twittering. (Shameless plug: Follow us on Twitter: @culturemonster)

-- Lisa Fung

Caption: Bolton Colburn, director of Laguna Museum of Art, in 1998 photo. Credit:  Los Angeles Times

Tony Awards: 'Billy Elliot,' Neil Patrick Harris fuel TV ratings

June 8, 2009 | 12:59 pm

Billy Elliot

Was it host Neil Patrick Harris' youth appeal and cheeky double-entendres, a star lineup including stage veterans Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury and Liza Minnelli, or all that dancing with the new young stars in the form of "Billy Elliot," the musical based on the movie about a working-class kid with ballet aspirations that walked -- excuse us, pirouetted -- away with 10 Tonys at Sunday's 63rd Annual Tony Awards?

Whatever the reason, 7.4 million Broadway fans watched Sunday's awards broadcast on CBS, up 17% over last year's show. Our colleague Scott Collins -- who possesses far better math skills than Culture Monster -- examines the numbers on our TV blog Show Tracker.

-- Diane Haithman

Related coverage:

Neil Patrick Harris recaps the Tony Award winners through song

Outsourcing the Tony Awards: Americans yield to foreign competition

Tony's memorable moments (high and low)

Tonys on TV: How quaint — speeches, musical numbers, class

'Billy Elliot' actors aren't the first to win a joint Tony award

Live at the Tony Awards with Culture Monster, updated

Tony Awards: And the 2009 winners are...

Photo:  Trent Kowalik performs with the cast of 'Billy Elliot' onstage during the 63rd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7 in New York City.  Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Seaport Village Busker Festival: 2009's winners

April 21, 2009 |  1:53 pm

Murrugun the Mystic 2 In Saturday's Calendar, we told you all about the art of busking -- that is, street performing -- and what was coming up at the third annual Seaport Village Busker Festival in San Diego over the weekend. As part of the festivities, a competition polled the crowd to select the top three buskers -- although, to be fair, many performers opted not compete but simply showed up to be part of the phenomenon.

First Place: Crew, a group that creates percussion with ordinary household objects. Prize: $2,000, and a trip to San Francisco.

Second Place: Murrugun the Mystic, a variety artist who swallows swords, eats fire and occasionally rests on a bed of nails. Prize: $750 and a hotel stay.

Third Place: Bobby Besmehn, who includes juggling, balance, and unicycle in his act. Prize: $250.

But frankly it's not the prizes, but the tips, that have we Culture Monsters considering a second career in busking: Seaport Village General Manager Terry Hall tells us that third-place winner Besmehn collected $2,000 from the crowd Saturday, and an additional $900 on Sunday. He must have passed a mighty big hat.

For more postmortem on the festival, visit this Seaport Village blog. Oops, must go -- time for our juggling lesson.

-- Diane Haithman

Photo: Murrugun the Mystic. Credit: Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune.


Monster Mash: Breaking news and headlines

April 6, 2009 |  9:24 am

Die Walkure 

-- Here we go again: Achim Freyer's second installment of the "Ring," "Die Walkure," opens at Los Angeles Opera. Mark Swed reviews.

-- And we have a winner: The American Critics Assn. honors E.M. Lewis for her play "Song of Extinction," seen at [Inside] the Ford last year.

-- Covering all bases: Dodgers Chief Executive Jamie McCourt joins Los Angeles County Museum of Art board. 

-- What are the facts?: An online feud erupts between Time Out New York critic and "Irena's Vow" playwright.

-- Music visionary: Remembering Glenn Gould, 45 years after his last live performance.

-- Who's in charge?: Discord builds over Coop-Himmelblau-designed $242-million downtown Los Angeles arts school.

-- Too close to home?: Security is beefed up after an angry theatergoer reacts to a scene in provocateur Neil LaBute's "reasons to be pretty" on Broadway.

-- Reviving a moment: Tate Modern recreates an installation that created a sensation in Britain in 1971.

-- Junk food warning: Binge eating and lead poisoning may have led to the death of composer George Frideric Handel.

-- Next best thing?: John Waters' art replaces Chris Burden's gold at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills.

-- Life without arts coverage: Arts leaders react to possibility of Boston Globe closure.

-- Lisa Fung

Photo: A scene from Los Angeles Opera's production of Wagner's "Die Walkure." Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times


Herbie Hancock named L.A. Phil jazzmeister

March 16, 2009 |  1:00 pm

Herbie Hancock

Maybe we should call this one a Monster Hiss:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic officially announced this summer's Hollywood Bowl schedule today, but a few weeks ago, Culture Monster jumped the gun by providing details. Don't hiss at the Monster -- the information was already up on the Phil's website, and more than 10,000 Bowl subscribers had already received the schedule in the mail. 

Now, on The Times' pop music blog Pop & Hiss, Chris Barton is jazzing up the news with the announcement that Herbie Hancock has been named the L.A. Philharmonic Assn.'s new creative chair for jazz, succeeding bassist Christian McBride. And Barton's got details on more pop artists coming to the Bowl in his blog post blog post here.

-- Diane Haithman

Photo: Herbie Hancock. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times

Some L.A. art blogs:

February 24, 2009 |  3:45 pm

If, like me, you scan a lot of blogs every day, you know they come in as many shapes and sizes as the people who write them. Present blog aside, these are currently my favorite art-related blogs in Los Angeles, all of which keep up a fairly regular schedule of posts.

Among them you'll find art criticism, sketchpads by artists, smart snark, reasonable self-promotion, institutional musing, sociability and more:

— Christopher Knight

Credit: Robert Olsen


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