A MUSEUM THAT WENT OFF THE AIR

A sad moment occurred recently when it comes to the preservation of popular culture in this crammed world of ours, enough where it was housed in a museum-type setting for those to inspire, study, educate, use as an influence, and even for the sake of using such culture for its entertainment value–a value that held its place for generations before and the generations ahead.

On Sunday, January 12th, The Paley Center for Media of Beverly Hills closed its doors for the final time after twenty five years of its presence at its location.

Located at 365 Beverly Drive at the intersection of Beverly Drive and “Little” Santa Monica Blvd., The Paley Center for Media was the go-to place to view vintage television programs that first originated from the United States, later expanding to other world nations from its early days of TV in the 1930s to yesterday–literally! It also housed thousands of recordings of radio programs from the 1920s to the 2020s.

The Paley Center for Media is actually based in New York in a building located at 25 West 52nd Street in midtown Manhattan, right next door to the “21” Club. (Ya can’t miss it!!) Started in 1975 by William S. Paley, the founder of the Columbia Broadcasting System–better known as CBS through its original name The Museum of Broadcasting, Will Paley visualized a central place where folks can come in to view vintage television shows that the viewing public remembered, as well as titles that would have been otherwise forgotten, if not totally lost.

The success of the center, later changing its name to The Paley Center for Media as television was no longer limited through over the air means. The collection later expanded to programming from cable TV channels, YouTube videos, as well as through video streaming. From their success of their New York location, the Paley Center opened a facility in Beverley Hills in 1995. The building itself was designed by architect Richard Meier that featured a white facade, a huge central lobby for hosting events, a theater where screenings and discussion panels would take place, a rooftop patio, and on its second level, an area where exhibits would be placed as well as where the viewing and listening areas were located for viewing and hearing the programs from their collection.

Although the Paley Center owned the building, it did not own the land it sat upon! The parcel of space was originally owned by seven different land trusts and estates that owned the property for some time, going back to the 1920‘s. The land was leased to Back of America, which in turn leased it to the Paley. (It once was a BofA bank site, eventually moving across the street!) According to Variety, the property was later sold to Jenel Management Corporation for nearly $47.3 million. The Paley had a lease on the property until 2024. Jenel Management bought out the lease from The Paley Center, ending its stay at the end of 2019.

So what’s going to happen? First, the Paley Center won’t be going away! Their New York facility will still remain on West 52nd Street. Some of the events that will take place in Los Angeles will still occure, such as the annual PaleyFest at the Dolby Theater in March, as well as other events using such facilities as The Directors Guild Theaters and other locations. But if anyone wanted to view any program from the Paley Center’s location, one would have to travel to New York City. And when the time arrives for a new location to be build in Los Angeles (all “TBA”), everything will remain “off the air”! (More details about The Paley Center as well as the PaleyFest can be found through its web site at http://www.PaleyCenter.org)

The writer has been working with the Paley Center for some time. This February will mark 35 years since yours truly first stepped inside the Museum of Broadcasting’s original digs at 1 East 53rd Street, (located between 5th and Lexington Avenues) for a job interview. Although I didn’t get the job, I did keep in contact with the people at the MofB, eventually contributing vintage television shows for their every growing collection.

Today, I remain one of the many friends that the Paley had latched onto for all of its years of existence, and I will still remain one of those pals with the support of perserving TV shows that has shaped the nation, if not the world! However, I just can’t perform my support through a locally based situation.

As to the physical site. According to one of the TV curators that I have recently spoken to, the building has been purchased by a well-known upscale fashion company that will most likely tear down the building in order to build a new shop (or series of shops) that will cater to the demographic that connects with the Beverly Hills lifestyle. After all, Rodeo Drive is just a few blocks away, so that hint will give one an idea to what’s going on that location.

So as one door closes, another one will open. As for myself? I will still do my part in the oft told (by me anyway) belief that preservation without access isn’t preservation! I will work on selecting programming from my personal collection for the Paley’s use, and for the accessibility where one can see these shows once again for the many years to come.

As of this writing, I am looking at some episodes of The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder (aired on NBC 1973-81). So as Tom used to say when he signed off his show for the evening, “Good Night Everybody!!”
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents for its eighteenth season, the return engagement of Katherine Bates’ THE MANOR, a play that speaks of a rise and tragic fall involving a very dignified family living in one of the nation’s prestigious communities.

The story begins in the roaring 20’s, where liquor flowed if one will find it, jazz music was all the rage, and fortunes were climbing at sky high paces. The MacAlister family that made its capital gains in mineral mining as headed by Charles MacAlister (Darby Hinton, alternating with Mark Rimer), is celebrating the wedding between his son and heir Sean (Eric Keitel) and the blushing bride Abby. (Nathalie Rudolph) As the two are joined in marriage, Charles meets up with his friend based in Washington DC, Senator Alfred Winston (Daniel Leslie) on a business opportunity. It appears that in the US territory of Hawaii, the Navy desires to build a naval base station within the location known as Pearl Harbor. Alfred asks Charles for a $100,000 loan to finance this development. In return for the requested amount, Alfred would receive exclusive rights to mine a valued mineral deposit that Charles operates. This well intended exchange opens in what later becomes a scandal developing into government bribery, business corruption, and an overall disgrace to this wealthy family estate leading up toward dire consequences. This aftermath not only involves Charles, but to the others within this domain set high among their “quaint” 50+ room estate overlooking the bedroom community village called Beverly Hills.

This original play written by Katherine Bates and directed by Martin Thompson, (based on original stage direction by Beverly Olevin), was inspired upon the actual family of Edward Doheny, who made his fortune in oil production. He was involved with tactics that later lead to a bribery misconduct known as the “Teapot Dome Scandal” that followed upon the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly in the early part of the 20th century. What makes this play rather unique, outside of the fact that the plot is inspired by actual events that involves greed, corruption, family disgrace, and even death, but the settings takes place at Greystone Mansion, a 46,000 Sq. Ft. building and estate once owned by the Donehy family. Many of the play’s backdrops are founded in what did occur within the mansion when Edward “Ned” Doheny, son of Edward Sr., took his own life with a pistol. (The reasons leading up to this death vary, but it was indeed billed as a murder-suicide!) The play itself offers plenty of drama as depicted by the cast members that also include Carol Potter as Marion MacAlister, Kristin Towers-Rowles as Henrietta Haversham Pugh, Melanie MacQueen as Cora Wilson, Martin Thompson, alternating with Daniel Leslie as family attorney Frank Parsons, Esq. with David Hunt Stafford as James the butler, Katherine Henryk as Ursula the housekeeper, and Ester Levy Richman as Ellie, the mute maid.

As to how this play is set up. It takes place within a handful of rooms in the mansion where the audience is broken up into three groups. After the first scene is performed, each group is lead by one of the domestic staff into another nearby room where a second scene is presented. Then the groups, rotating to other rooms, witness yet another unfolding scene. These scenes performed for the selected audience groups are presented in a different order, but not out of context as each scene keeps its continuity in check. The background of the mansion itself serves as the backdrop giving this production an authentic feel. Each room offers limited stage furnishings as the original furniture and other decor has long been removed. David Hunt Stafford & Jackie Petras provides the set design that is part of the play, rather then to the actual building where this showpiece is housed.

THE MANOR has been part of Theatre 40’s repertory since 2002, offering limited run performances at the location where many of the inspired stage settings developed. If one attends this performance, one will see just a small glimpse of a humble home built when elegance, even at an excess, was at its peak. They don’t build places like these anymore, and it’s just as well! Along with viewing the homestead and the grounds, one will witness a great play that’s fully loaded with all the drama that such a stage work firmly allows.

THE MANOR, presented by Theatre 40 in association with the city of Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Department, performs at the Greystone Mansion located within Greystone Park, 905 Loma Vista Drive (north of Sunset Blvd. off Mountain Drive), Beverly Hills, until March 1st. Showtimes are Thursday and Friday, February 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th at 6:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, February 22nd, 23rd, 29th, and March 1st at 1:00 PM.

For further information and for ticket reservations, call (310) 364-3606, or via the website http://www.Theatre40.org
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FRIDA-STROKE OF PASSION, Odalys Nanin’s play with music that speaks about the final days of Frida Kahlo, performs at Casa 0101 Theatre in Los Angeles.

Odalys Nanin appears as Frida Kahlo, who hailed from Mexico and was one of the art world’s unique creators of canvas art. The story opens on July 6th, 1954, Friday’s 47th and final birthday. Her physical condition is in rather poor shape. She is recovering from a bus accent that occurred a few years before that did major damage to her body. She is bedridden part of the time, and moves in a wheelchair. Yet she still continues to create her work through her many paintings and sketches that express her physical and emotional condition. To ease her pain, she is taking painkillers along with taking shots of tequila as administrated through her personal nursemaid Judith (Tricia Cruz). As she attempts to work on her art, she notes upon her life as one that was rather extensive, through the past and present encounters she had through a number of noted people she came upon by way of her travels and motives. She recalls such people as vocalist Charela Vargas (Sandra Valls), Mexican film actress Maria Felix (Jorie Burgos, alternating with Magel Juarez), exiled Russian Communist politician Leon Trotsky (Paul Cascante), exiled American entertainer Josephine Baker (Celeste Creel), Cuban intelligence agent Teresa Proenza (Kesia Elwin), photographer Tina Modotti (Mantha Balourdou), and her close friend/muse/lover Diego Rivera (Oscar Basulto). Some of these people are depicted through her inner mind, while others are there in person as real. Many of these same souls that were and are in Frida’s life hold foundations that are solid as they are rocky. But with only a few days left in her life, Frida’s only guise is through the amounts of painkillers she takes, as well as the free flowing power source of tequila.

This play, written, produced, and featuring Odalys Nanin as the name being is an interesting look at the life and times of an artist that was part of the budding creative platforms that came from Mexico during the first half of the 20th Century. It shows the tile character that did held to her ability of expressing herself through her respected pieces of artworks. It also shows her back stories to her life. Many of those she speaks about were colleagues, and a few were lovers–both male and female. She even mentions about a child that she conceived, but never came to live a full life; a child called Little Diego. (David Santamaria). A number of these characters are depicted as part of Frieda’s life and times. But the real star here is the multitalented Odalys Nanin who gives an impression that her character held lots of grief, pain, and talent, even through her talent was one that shows what she was going through up to her demise-a demise that was never finalized. She died of an overdose of painkillers consumed either through accident or through intentional means.

The stage set consists of a bed placed center stage where Frida spends much of her time in, along with her paining area settled on stage left as designed by March de Leon. Anielka Gallo creates the graphic designs of some of Frida paintings through a video monitor placed above at stage left that also illustrates Frida in bed through a camera placed directly above. This represents the viewpoint that Frida saw from a mirror that was once placed over her bed-a place for recovery or physical expression.

In addition to the above noted cast, David Ty Reza appears as Judas, a devil creature that is one of the individuals as seen through the eyes of the artist whose time will be soon shortened.

This play also has some musical interludes as well. Francisco Medina plays the guitar, performing ballads that were first performed in Frida’s home country around the era of her existence. There ballads as presented are heard to give the audience the feeling and spirit that was felt through the period that Frieda was at work, both as pre- and post-accident.

Directed by Odalys Nanin with assist direction by Corky Dominguez, FRIDA-STROKE OF PASSION is a play that is informative, entertaining, and even sexy at times. Frida’s lifestyle would be considered as “bi” in today’s landscape, and it’s expressed through minor examples. In spite of theses depictions, Frida Kahlo was a woman that did hold artistic talent, and had the emotional capacity to create her work no matter how she felt. She wasn’t strong in body, but strong in excitable expressive drive.

FRIDA-STROKE OF PASSION, presented by Macha Theatre/Films, and performs at Casa 0101 Theatre, 2002 East First Street, Los Angeles (Boyle Heights), until February 16th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.

For ticket reservations online, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/frida-stroke-of-passion-tickets-85497484277
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City Garage theater of Santa Monica continues its run of LARGO DESOLATO, Vaclav Havel’s play about a cerebral author living in a controlled society who comes under observation from its government due to his political hypothesis.

Troy Dunn is Professor Leopold Nettles. He apparently created a written essay that speaks unhighly over the government regimes at stake. He is housed within his flat, keeping a watchful eye on the outer surroundings of his unit, holding careful duty on who might be outside. He is rather nervous, although the people who Leopold knows as friends and companions are aware of his situation. His close friend Edward (Gifford Irvine), his companion Suzana (Emily Asher Kellis), and second colleague Bert (Trace Taylor) finds him as an unstable emotional wreck, from his drinking consistently and taking pills for his nerves. Leopold’s mistress Lucy (Angela Beyer) finds him unresponsive toward her affection. But others know of his work, even getting a visit from a “groupie” seeking advice, young student Marguerite (Marissa Dubois). But the time will take place when he will become apprehended by this government that serves as a “black hand”. However, a pair of rouges with no names from this government black hand sect (Anthony Sannazzaro and Aaron Bray) makes his an offer to sign a document that will deny who he is and what he did to upset the state. Only time and tide will determine the fate of this intellectual scholar who chose a thin chance to express his opinions upon a higher authority he views as going into a wrong direction.

This play was one of many creations that were brought into being by this playwright when the Eastern Europe nations were undergoing political dictatorships in the second half of the 20th century. Playwright Vaclav Havel composed this play in the middle 1980‘s when the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) was under communism rule. Havel created this stage work as a semi-autobiographical piece shortly after he was released from federal prison for his various political crimes. Much of what is presented shows the turmoil he and others under the same political beliefs were going through when principles were rather unstable.

The City Garage production presents this work (with English translation by Tom Stoppard) as a direct viewpoint of the times that existed at hand, when all citizen had to follow the rules of the land regardless if they were the correct element to take. The cast of performers that appear in this stage work perform their parts in a serious nature, although there are vague hints of humor. Anything remotely funny are present as an unintentional action. Perhaps the method the characters react and what they hold to say were placed as intentional, showing off to its audience that the ruling party is comical, with its citizens not having any last laughs.

As to the technical side of this production, Charles Duncombe’s set design (also serving duties as lighting director) shows Leopold’s flat as a two level dwelling space placed with modern furnishings with a minimalist touch–a place where an intellectual man of letters would settle. Josephine Poinsat’s costuming ranges from simple and smart to curious, especially with the duds worn by the “black hand” agents. And Aldo Romano’s musical interludes can be labeled as frantic bebop.

Directed by Frederque Michel, LAEGO DESOLATO is a theater opus that proves to question what a ruling body could do if their causes are not meant by those that live under their stature. In these times, something as this was noted that it could never happen again, as what is seen on stage is pure fiction. However, one can’t be too careful or careless in this day and age, depending on the current state of state…

LARGO DESOLATO, presented by and performs at City Garage, 2525 Michagan Avenue, (Building T1), Santa Monica, until March 1st. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM.

For ticket reservations or for more details, call (323) 453-9939, or via online at
http://www.CityGarage.org
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On Saturday, February 8th, Film Independent presented the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards, presented award citations for the best in feature films released in the 2019 calendar year that was made through artist-driven creations that emphasis diversity, innovation, and uniqueness in vision. The awards ceremony was held within a tented structure along the beach front near the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, and was hosted by Aubery Plaza.

Adam Slander won Best Male Lead for the feature Uncut Gems. Renee Zellweger won Best Female Lead for the bio picture Judy. Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie shared Best Director award for Uncut Gems. and The Farewell won for Best Picture.

Among the special awards: The Robert Altman Award for a film’s director, casting director, and ensemble cast was presented for Marriage Story. The John Cassavetes Award for best feature created for $500,000 and less went to Give Me Liberty. The Bonnie Award for a mid-career female director went to Kelly Reichardt. The Producers Award for emerging film producers want to Mollye Asher, The Someone to Watch Award, the self described award for emerging directors went to Rashaad Ernesto Green. And the Truer Than Fiction Award for an emerging non-fiction/documentary director went to Nadia Shihab.

For a list of all nominees and winners, visit the official web site at
http://www.FilmIndependent.org
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On Sunday, February 9th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences presented the 92nd Academy Awards, presenting the Oscar for the best films of the 2019 calendar year, held at the Dolby Theater within the Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood as another “no hosted” event.

Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for the feature release Joker. Renée Zellweger won Best Actress for Judy. Bong Joon Ho won Best Director for Parasite, that also won as Best Picture.

For a list of all nominees and winners, visit the official web site at
http://www.Oscars.com.
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On February 7th, the Golden Raspberry Foundation announced the nominations for the 40th Razzie Awards, awarding the Razzie for the worst films released in the 2019 calendar year.

The nominations are as follows:

WORST ACTOR
James Franco / Zeroville
David Harbour / Hellboy (2019)
Matthew McConaughey / Serenity
Sylvester Stallone / Rambo: Last Blood
John Travolta / The Fanatic & Trading Paint

WORST ACTRESS
Hilary Duff / The Haunting of Sharon Tate
Anne Hathaway / The Hustle & Serenity
Francesca Hayward / Cats
Tyler Perry (As Medea) A Madea Family Funeral
Rebel Wilson / The Hustle

WORST DIRECTOR
Fred Durst / The Fanatic
James Franco / Zeroville
Adrian Grunberg / Rambo: Last Blood
Tom Hooper / Cats

WORST PICTURE
Cats (Universal)
The Fanatic (Wonderfilm)
The Haunting of Sharon Tate (Voltage Pictures)
A Madea Family Funeral (Lionsgate)
Rambo: Last Blood (Lionsgate)

For a list of all nominees, visit the official Razzes web site at http://www.Razzies.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2020 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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