1. “Sid Caesar R.I.P.” Comedian of Comedians From TV’s Early Days Dies at 91.
“By the late 1950s, he was off the air, a victim of changing tastes as well as personal problems. He made a triumphant comeback on Broadway in 1962, playing seven characters in ’Little Me,’ a musical created by Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh and Mr. Simon. (A concert revival of ’Little Me’ was part of the Encores! series at City Center this month.) A year later, Mr. Caesar held his own among comedy heavyweights like Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney and Jonathan Winters in the hit movie ’It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.’ But his problems soon got the better of him, and his comeback was short-lived.”
2. “Greta Gerwig on Television” Richard Brody on the actress signing with CBS to star in the comedy series How I Met Your Dad.
“My first thought was: if only Barbara Loden had been given a sitcom after the release of her masterpiece, ’Wanda,’ she might have been able to finance another feature on her own. If the pilot for Gerwig’s show is picked up, she’ll be busy for—a third of the year? Half? And she’ll have a reliable source of income that will free her up to work on projects that inspire her uninhibited passion. Meanwhile, the particular challenges of television—the rapidity, the overt comedy, the omnipresence of the business side—may prove to be a useful experience and even a source of inspiration. (Plus residuals.) Imagine that Gerwig had received a no-strings-attached grant for the amount of the contract. I’d imagine that the cheers would be heard through my Twitter client, but it’s hard to imagine why the free but disengaged hands that it would leave her with would necessarily be better than a prominent gig, however commercial.”
3. “River of Fundament.” The Paris Review on Matthew Barney’s singular new film.
“On a day of shooting, Barney, as director, painted gold accents on grisly undead characters’ faces and guided actors through dialogue drawn from Mailer as well as Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William S. Burroughs. ’Past and future come together on thunderheads, and our dead hearts live with lightning in the wounds of the gods,’ bellowed one character, in a scene that required more than a few takes to get right. With his bushy white beard, and wearing a black T-shirt ornamented by the death-metal band Cannibal Corpse, Barney looked like anything but a refined cineaste. But his charge was much the same. ’Pour it a little more aggressively,’ he said through a mouthpiece to a production designer wetting the set with a strange, unidentified liquid. To the actress Ellen Burstyn, in the midst of a stubborn scene, he suggested, ’I think we should not smile.’ He was right: the eerie Burstyn’s version of not-smiling makes for an effect not to be forgotten.”
4. “Darren Aronofsky wins ’battle’ with Paramount over final edit of Noah.” The Black Swan director was “upset” over the studio’s attempt to appease religious audiences by recutting his biblical epic.
Aronofsky’s big budget fantasy has been plagued by reports that Paramount bigwigs cut their own versions following negative reactions from test screenings for US religious audiences, a demographic the $130m film needs to address if it is to stand a chance of recouping its gargantuan budget. But in the new issue of the Hollywood Reporter, the director of Black Swan and The Wrestler insists that the final version audiences will get to see in multiplexes is entirely his own. His victory might be a somewhat pyrrhic one, however, since Paramount appears to have given up the fight after its own versions of the film tested no better with Christians than the director’s cut.”
5. “Alan Moore’s School Daze.” Watchmen and V for Vendetta author talks movingly about being excluded from school for selling drugs.
“It is quite shocking how vividly Alan Moore recalls the isolation he felt after being excluded from education at the age of 17. It was 1970 and on the Friday night he and his fellow ArtsLab creatives had put a show on in Northampton Central Library’s performance space, Carnegie Hall. The Monday after that triumph Alan was in the headmaster’s study at Northampton Grammar School (now NSB) being told that for him, school days were over. He had been caught selling LSD and he would be expelled. Other schools and potential employers would be warned he was trouble. More than 40 years later Alan’s anger and hurt has transformed into an empathy for excluded pupils that prompted him to take up the invitation from National Literacy Hero and Northampton youth library worker Ruth Gasson to help expelled students re-engage with the education system.”
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