2009 has been a banner year for Hollywood – and with yesterday’s announcement of the Golden Globe nominees, it’s officially awards season. Before you watch the nominees work the red carpet (and, perhaps, get tipsy during the broadcast), hear how they got there in the first place.
Check out Kurt’s candid conversations with some of the nominees about being (and staying) creative in Hollywood.
Kathryn Bigelow was nominated for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker” (which is also nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay)
Jason Reitman’s also up for Best Director for “Up in the Air” (which is also nominated for Best Picture and four other awards), based on the book by Walter Kirn.
Marvin Hamlisch was nominated for his killer score for “The Informant!”
Gabourey Sidibe was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her break-out performance in “Precious.”
And coming up…
James Cameron was just in the studio to talk about his new movie “Avatar” – listen for that interview this weekend. And later this month, we’ll talk to David Shore (creator of the nominated TV series “House”) about his hero’s not-so-secret resemblance to Sherlock Holmes.
The Muppets have a proud tradition of taking the hit songs and making them their own: muppet-izing them, shall we say. The Sesame Street gang had a string of successes with “Letter B” (ala the Beatles’s “Let Her Be”), “Born to Add” (ala the Boss’s “Born to Run”) and “U Really Got a Hold On Me” featuring Smokey Robinson and a rather clingy Letter U.
Well, they’re at it again. In honor of the Muppets’ 40th birthday, Disney has released a great video of them covering Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
We’ve about reached the halfway point in Copenhagen’s two-week long negotiating bonanza known as the UN Conference of the Parties. One hot topic (no pun intended) is the practice of carbon offsetting. Yes, offsetting is an economically efficient solution, but does it ultimately fail us?
And as long as we’re offsetting carbon emissions, why not offset other social evils, like romantic infidelity?
Alex Randall and Christian Hunt suggest we give it a try – they’re the brains behind http://www.cheatneutral.com/. Check out the video below (and the staggering amount of people who took their bait):
On this week’s show, there’s a lovely story about the song that made Brazilian samba queen Carmen Miranda an international star in 1939 – “O Que è Que a Bahiana Tem.” The name roughly translates to “What is it that the Bahian woman has?”
When I hear the word Bahia, I immediately get a picture in my mind… of a duck and a parrot. Donald Duck and the Portuguese-speaking parrot José Caroica, that is. They are two-thirds of The Three Caballeros – Disney’s 1944 movie about Donald’s trip to Latin America with two feathered friends.
It might sound hokey, but the movie is like one awesome party – a psychedelic romp through Brazil and Mexico with delightful music and hilarious antics. It was also one of the first films to combine live action and animation.
The scene forever stuck in my brain is when Donald and José follow a beautiful woman selling pastries down the streets of Bahia. Her song builds into rollicking samba called “Os Quindins de Yaya” (Coconut Cupcakes). It turns out the woman is Aurora Miranda – Carmen’s younger sister. Aurora was also a well-known performer in Brazil, but not nearly as famous as her sister. This was one of her biggest roles in America.
Like José asks Donald, “Have you been to Bahia, my friend?” No! “Well, let’s go!”
Rickie Lee Jones - Malibu, California, 2009. (photo by Greg Allen)
This week on Studio 360, Kurt unpacks the songwriting inspirations of Rickie Lee Jones, the reigning “Duchess of Coolsville.” In this gem from the cutting room floor, she discusses the songwriter who makes her think “we’re made from the same part of God’s clay.” (Plus, don’t miss Kurt’s five-second debut as a back-up singer.)
Listen to Kurt’s full interview with Jones:
And check out Jones singing “The Moon Is Made of Gold” live in Studio 360.
We were sad to learn that Tom Hoving passed away today. The former director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was an art world insider, an expert on art fraud and forgery, and one of the best storytellers to come by our studio.
Hoving was our go-to guy when art scandals bubbled up. Last year we tracked him down on a kayaking vacation when hundreds of federal agents swooped down on art collections and museums California with warrants for looted and smuggled art.
His uncanny ability to identify a fake ancient Greek sculpture made him the star of the opening story in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink. But Hoving admitted to getting taken too. “If you don’t get fooled you’re not doing your right job as a collector…Need, speed, and greed is why you get stung.”
This week, 15,000 delegates and 110 heads of state from 192 nations are in Copenhagen to (we hope) negotiate a treaty to address the causes of climate change. It turns out that a number of artists have also arrived in the Danish capital, intent on delivering their own messages about what is at stake.
Miguel Villagran/Getty Images
British artist Mark Coreth came to town with an 11-ton block of ice in tow, but he’ll be leaving with much less. Inspired by a recent trip to the Arctic, he carved a life-size polar bear out of ice on-site in Copenhagen’s Nytorv Square, and it’s melting by the minute. Pretty soon, all that will be left is the bronze skeleton of the bear and a pool of water at its feet. “This will be a strong symbol of how human beings are affecting the climate,” Coreth told reporters.
Another installation with a message is “The CO2 Cube” in St. Jørgens Lake. At 27 feet (three stories tall), the object represents the space occupied by one metric ton of carbon-dioxide. Incredibly, the average European is responsible for more than 10 metric tons of CO2 per year — and that’s modest compared with the more than 20 metric tons that each of us Americans contributes. The designers of the structure, artist Alfio Bonanno and architect Christophe Cornubert hope that viewers of their work will be inspired to reduce their annual carbon footprint by at least one cube’s worth of emissions. Obscura Digital is responsible for the three hours of climate-minded video shown on the cube’s outer surfaces.
Miguel Villagran/Getty Images
There is, of course, no guarantee that art projects such as these will influence the participants in the climate conference taking place at Copenhagen’s Bella Center. But at the very least, visitors to the building will surely notice the adjacent bridge bathed in red LED light. It’s part of the “SevenMeters” project, which marks the places destined to be submerged if Greenland melts, leading the sea level to rise an estimated seven meters. Another example of art with real purpose.
On December 3, the United Nations named Stevie Wonder a Messenger of Peace. “We all know Stevie Wonder is a musical genius whose songs have given pleasure and hope to millions of people around the world,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated. “He is also a great humanitarian who has campaigned against apartheid, for children in need and for persons with disabilities.”
And I feel lucky to have had my own brush with greatness. In 1997, during a cold and misty Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I stood watching the Krewe of Orpheus. My favorite float, the magical Leviathan had just passed and a wave of energy followed. Like a steady pulse, the crowd picked up a strain coming from the next float that carried that year’s King. We exploded:
“Here I Am BABY…Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours!”
The float carried Stevie Wonder. I don’t remember ever feeling such unbounded joy as we danced and sang with strangers down the street to his happy anthem.
If there is anything the world needs right now, it’s the big hug that is Stevie Wonder and his music.
Who knew procrastination could be so fruitful? Smith (White Teeth) wrote the essays collected here while missing deadlines for her novels. Among them: her father’s experiences during the invasion of Normandy; thoughts on E.M. Forster and David Foster Wallace; and idolizing the women Katherine Hepburn played. The biggest surprise is her movie reviews — nothing’s stale about her takes on “Munich,” “Capote,” and “Shopgirl.” And so much better than the films you never saw in the first place.
Considering who his father is, you might think Jason Reitman left the womb grasping a sound boom in his tiny hand. Jason was still a toddler when dad Ivan Reitman was making Animal House (1978) and other classic comedies like Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981). By the time Reitman hit his stride with Ghostbusters in 1984 the path to the director’s chair for young Jason might have seemed inevitable.
But Jason told Kurt Andersen that he was wary of following in his father’s footsteps. “I was terrified of becoming a director.” In this piece of tape from the cutting room floor, Jason says he initially wanted to be a doctor, “a job that no one will ever question.” But his father thought otherwise.
Considering Jason’s talents, it seems he picked the right path. And in honor of his father’s legacy, here’s an early gem from the Reitman catalogue: Bill Murray’s screen debut in Meatballs.
Listen to Kurt Andersen’s full interview with Jason Reitman and writer Walter Kirn about their new movie Up in the Air: