Whether they be citizens of a city, state, nation or the world at large, perhaps nothing is more essential for any group of people in endeavoring to forge a path forward than understanding where they have come from in order to figure out how to proceed to where they wish to direct their society. The way I like to put it is that only a people with a sense of shared history can truly jointly create a shared destiny. Given the role of media in transmitting and accounting for that history, how the various professionals working in these fields go about their business can have tremendous impact in determining what issues and priorities assume more prominence. Thus, it was interesting to see what methods currently are being practiced as of 2011 at the History Makers broadcast media conference at the Marriott Marquis from January 26-28.
When most folks hear the words Film and NYU mentioned in tandem, the personality they’d most likely summon to mind would be Spike Lee, or Martin Scorsese. But if the term Independent Film truly means anything, then without question the person who has most embodied its credo in association with NYU is George Stoney, The Paulette Goddard Professor in Film at the Tisch School of the Arts.
Not far from the heart of Times Square, at Park & 48th Street, is the site of the National Football League headquarters. Whether or not you’re a fan of the professional game, the arrival of autumn always brings occasion to reflect on an unambiguously great cultural resource that institution has yielded: the music of Sam Spence.
Due to the shade of illumination provided by the lamps arranged throughout the temporary tent set up there, the corner of West 48th street & Avenue of the Americas became a red light district on the evening of Wednesday, October 4 when Fox News Channel held a party to mark its 10th anniversary. Anticipating that the space might qualify as a red state in miniature within the blue sea of Manhattan, I donned my raspberry sherbet-hued suit jacket for the occasion, and likewise was unsurprised to find that all of the servers and bar staff had been outfitted with sartorially apposite red ties as part of their uniforms for the evening.
An annual sporting ritual heralding Autumn is the US Tennis Open, where most folks were surprised to see Andy Roddick crash out in the first round this year. On his feet while he did were sneakers provided by his new apparel sponsor Babolat, a French athletics wear firm who had Roddick on hand to help them introduce their products in the US at a sumptuous luncheon at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street. Their manufacturing partner, the Gallic rubber giant Michelin, had a launch event of their own on November 2nd, when the long-anticipated Michelin Guide: New York City Restaurants & Hotels 2006 was presented at the Guggenheim Museum. 1000 First Edition numbered guides were made available to event attendees (I got # 759), and among them Wylie Dufresne told me he was “very pleased” with the one star awarded to his place WD~50. Less ecstatic was Daniel Bouloud, who opined that “they messed up the two stars, they messed up the one stars, but they got the three stars” – a comment on his ventures Daniel and Cafe Bouloud receiving one and two stars respectively. Assuming Le Bernardin’s three-star rating was satisfactory, I asked Eric Ripert how he liked the evening’s catering, supplied by Restaurant Associates; “I didn’t taste the food,” he tersely replied, which spoke for itself.
I’ve always been a big fan of British band The Stranglers (in fact, I met frontman Hugh Cornwell and drummer Jet Black when I worked security for a show they did at Webster Hall years ago in support of their then current LP release “The Raven”), and so, when I had opportunity to attend the January 10th launch party for a magazine entitled “Skin Deep”, it was their hit tune of the same name from the “Aural Sculpture” album that buzzed through my head most of the evening.
Though the county fair vibe of TFF is fine for folks with children, browsers and downtown vendors, serious filmmakers may be given pause. Sans a distribution platform, or a science-themed script for the Sloan competition, it shouldn’t be a priority on the level of Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Rotterdam, Berlin or Venice, which all, rightly or not, have established status as hothouses for new talent and new work by veteran directors. Unless the timing of TFF is reconsidered, it’s unlikely to join their ranks.
Who says there are no second acts in American lives? Not Steve Guttenberg. With an image defined by roles in cinematic cheese such as THREE MEN AND A BABY, DINER, and of course the entire POLICE ACADEMY metastasis, he’s unpredictably emerged as a first-time film director with an unlikely choice: P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD!, adapted from the novel/play by James Kirkwood.
Despite the recently depressed market for internet IPOs and concomitant drop in share value of .com enterprises on the NASDAQ extant, there remains a climate of qualified optimism in that segment of the creative community who operate outside the umbrella of corporate patronage regarding the ability of the web as a means to bypass the pitfalls normally associated with traditional means of distributing their work. For independent filmmakers in particular it would seem that anything producing anxiety in Hollywood on the scale that the rise of the internet has can only be a positive development in the quest for a more democratic process facilitating audience access.