The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Everybody loves a hometown hero. UofL basketball star Peyton Siva could barely do interviews for all the fans cheering SIVA! SIVA! as he entered the Barnstable Gala. He said he was enjoying the love and looks forward to coming back, even after he’s moved on to the NBA. Seems the party did save the best for last this year. We’re out. 11:05 p.m.
I was about to go, but Joey Fatone is here. 10:32 p.m.
Perennial Barnstable Brown Gala guest Travis Tritt pointed out that he sang the national anthem at the NCAA men’s basketball championship, which Louisville won. Therefore, he said he is definitely putting money on coach Rick Pitono’s Goldencents because, “he’s on a roll.” 10:27 p.m.
Valerie Harper, who is battling lung cancer, said she was doing well and, “I’m not going to waste my life worrying about when I’m going to die, so I came to the Derby.” Former UK football star and current Green Bay Packer Randall Cobb said he always enjoys coming to his “second home.” 10:17 pm.
When the stars come, they come fast at Barnstable brown. Among things we picked up in the last 45 minutes or so: Emilio Estevez is working on a movie about harness racing at several locations, including the Red Mile. “Thoroughbred racing is the sport of kings,” he said. “But harness racing is the working man’s sport.” He said he was dressed in jeans and a blazer because he lost everything at the Oaks. Josh Henderson acknowledged he drinks plenty of bourbon on Dallas. Stephen Amell acknowledged throwing back a lot of Guinness at Fourth Street Live. Larry Birkhead said he would like to get back on the other side of the red carpet, as a working journalists again. Revenge’s Christa Allen said she knew nothing about the Derby but, “I love horses.”
Accounted for so far: Morris Day, Freddie Jackson, Clay Walker and David Denman. Freddie stopped to talk to us and said he’s happy to have a “return engagement. You don’t always get invited back.” He sang a few Bars of “You Are My Lady” to Christa from the C-J And said he was going to rely on the ladies to pick Derby winner for him. 9:07 p.m.
Just talked to Christopher Brown, Tricia Barnstable Brown’s son, about his memories of the party, which include dancing with Brooke Shields when he was a little boy and getting his picture taken with Mark Harmon when they were both wearing white tuxedoes. Brown, who is now an attorney in New York, says his favorite guests are the ones that come back every year and, “have become family friends.” 8:10 pm.
Generally they don’t put reporters and photographers on the red carpet, but that’s where we are, waiting out a windy, pre-party shower. Some of the journalists are playing around getting shots in front of the branded backdrop, while fans huddle under coats and umbrellas. Not the place you want to have several thousand dollars with of AV or photo gear. 7:20 p.m.
It is hurry up and wait time here at the Barnstable Brown Gala. Media usually start to arrive late afternoon, and then we get to hang around until around 9, when the stars start streaming in. But the red carpet is freshly vacuumed, the tripods are set up, and it looks like we have national press from E! and other outlets. Fans are starting to line the fence lines. C’mon Miranda.
Louisville’s Barnstable Brown Gala will celebrate its 25th edition with plenty of old friends and some new faces Derby Eve.
Among the familiar faces at the home of The ‘Ville’s hostess with the mostess, Patricia Barnstable Brown, will be reigning country superstar Miranda Lambert, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, pop chart-topper Kid Rock, former ‘N Sync member and TV star Joey Fatone, and UK coach John Calipari, according to Louisville’s Courier-Journal.
New stars coming out this year include Josh Henderson, who plays J.R. Ewing’s son on TNT’s Dallas, Krysten Ritter, who plays the title role in ABC’s Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Stephen Amell of the CW’s Arrow, model Coco Rocha, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss of The Social Network fame, Peyton Siva of the national champion University of Louisville men’s basketball team, and UK’s Nerlens Noel.
According to the C-J, Larry Birkhead, whose famously met the late Anna Nicole Smith at the 2004 Barnstable party and had a daughter with her, will arrive with a camera crew in tow documenting his Derby experience.
The Barnstable party always boasts the longest celebrity guest list of the Derby parties, and this year is no different. The celebs can generally be broken down into several categories.
Country music will be well represented by Clay Walker; Kix Brooks, formerly of Brooks & Dunn; Travis Tritt; Lee Ann Womack; and Eddie Montgomery, of Kentucky’s Montgomery Gentry.
R&B and hip hop will be represented by Freddie Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Morris Day of Morris Day and the Time fame, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC, Taylor Dayne, and Johnny Gill of New Edition. The presence of Tony Award winner Jennifer Holliday means both actresses who won awards for playing Effie in Dreamgirls will be at Derby this year. Jennifer Hudson, who won her Oscar for playing the role in the film is appearing at the revived Grand Gala, Friday night. And Southern rock will be represented by Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mark “Sparky” Matejka.
The acting attendees include David Denman of The Office and Drop Dead Diva, Terry O’Quinn of Lost, Mercedes Masohn of Chuck, Breakfast Club star Emilio Estevez, and American Pie star Jason Biggs.
And there are always plenty of human athletes in Louisville to watch the horses race: the NBA’s Anthony Davis and Darius Miller of UK’s 2012 national champion men’s basketball team, former UK and current Green Bay Packers star Randall Cobb, his Green Bay teammate linebacker Clay Matthews III, Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Matt Cassel, Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and Olympian Bode Miller.
The first Super Bowl I watched on TV? That’s easy: the 1980 matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Rams were my first favorite football team, thanks in large part to it being Warren Beatty’s team in the 1978 comedy Heaven Can Wait. (The fact I was picking football teams based on movies was a strong indication where my life was going.) Unfortunately, quarterback Vince Ferragamo and the real-life Rams didn’t fare as well as Beatty’s Joe Pendleton and Co., losing to Pittsburgh, 31-19.
That, I remember.
The halftime show? Not a thing.
It was not the Bee Gees, Donna Summer or some other chart-topper from those days, as we have now. It was two groups that seem unlikely in today’s era of blockbuster, big-name Super Bowl shows: Up With People and the Grambling State University Marching Band.
Both were Super Bowls mainstays during that time. Up With People, the Denver-based educational organization with a performing arm, was the halftime act at five Super Bowls during the 1970s and ’80s.
Yes, there was a time when the Super Bowl was about the football game, and the halftime show was an afterthought, or so it seemed. Today, anticipation for the things surrounding the game — Super Bowl ads, Beyoncé’s halftime show this year — rivals anticipation of the game itself and makes the Super Bowl a certifiable pop culture phenomenon.
A few years back, when the Super Bowl was getting slagged by many for booking Jurassic rockers including the Rolling Stones and The Who for the halftime shows, it could have been worse.
If you doubt that, YouTube is here to testify.
Take, for instance, the 1977 halftime show, when the game was played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The competitors were the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders. The show was produced by the Walt Disney Co. and featured a marching band, cheesy singers in Mickey Mouse sweaters and “the new Mouseketeers!” including a sprite named “Lisa!” whom we would later come to know as Lisa Whelchel — Blair on the long-running sitcom The Facts of Life and runner-up on the recent Survivor: Philippines. The show also was supposed to include a crowd-participation card trick, though here in the Herald-Leader’s features department, we can’t figure out what that was supposed to be.
Probably the most unwatchable clip we could find on YouTube was a two-minute snippet of Up With People playing Super Bowl V in 1971. As an NBC sportscaster announces “Up With the People,” the bright red- and yellow-clad group plays, dances and clearly lip-syncs to Someone Smiled.
(Beyoncé, if you lip-sync on Sunday, there is a precedent.)
It’s not that the Super Bowl halftime shows were devoid of stars.
In 1973, the University of Michigan Marching Band performed with guest Andy Williams warbling a version of Barbra Streisand’s People. Two years later, the Grambling State Marching Band played a tribute to Duke Ellington; his son Mercer Ellington and the Duke Ellington Band rolled into New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium on an A-Train float.
Ella Fitzgerald even made a Super Bowl halftime appearance in 1972 with Carol Channing and trumpeter Al Hirt. We could not find video of that, which might be just as well for the artists’ reputations. Channing also appeared at Super Bowl IV in 1970, and Hirt was on hand for the first Super Bowl, in 1967, along with the Grambling State and University of Arizona marching bands and the Anaheim High School drill team.
No matter how much announcers told us these were “marvelous” and “spectacular,” when you look at videos of some of these shows, it’s hard to imagine many of them kept people from heading to the refrigerator or bathroom or concession stand.
I distinctly remember watching the Cincinnati Bengals’ first Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers in 1982. But if I have a memory of the Up With People halftime show, hosted by Kentucky’s then-first lady and CBS sportscaster Phyllis George (above), I have mercifully repressed it.
For better and worse, Super Bowl halftime shows started to become memorable and engage contemporary star power in the 1990s. They were still trying to fit the performers in higher-concept ideas of halftime entertainment — see the Disney-esque appearance by New Kids on the Block in 1991 (which was actually not shown during the Super Bowl broadcast due to coverage of the Gulf War, which was just starting) and a mismatch of Olympic figure skaters and Gloria Estefan to celebrate winter in 1992 — Miami Sound Machine’s Gloria Estefan? Winter?
The first time I can recall hanging in to watch a Super Bowl halftime show was 1993 (above), also the first time the performance doubled as a rock concert, this time starring Michael Jackson in all his self-aggrandizing glory. He was still charting hits, things had not gotten too weird, and when he moonwalked across the stage, it was 1983 again.
Jackson’s stand was the performance that changed the Super Bowl halftime show forever, setting the template for what happens annually now: a performance by one of the biggest names in pop. There were missteps along the way. The next year, 1994 in Atlanta, was the first of several in which the stage was so overloaded with stars (I can only find an ad for that one) — including Kentuckians Naomi and Wynonna Judd — that it turned the event into a mishmash. That most notably happened in 2004, when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake created the infamous wardrobe malfunction that briefly exposed Jackson’s breast to the world.
In the 21st century, the shows have been at their best when left to one brilliant artist: Prince’s showcase of his greatness in 2007 and U2’s moving post-9/11 appearance in 2002 (above). It doesn’t always work, but that it frequently does is one of the biggest reasons we keep tuning in to this game every year, even if our team is not playing.
There is a game, isn’t there?
Growing up together, Jeremy and Kendra White would pull out the video camera, get cousins together and “make random videos,” Jeremy says.
As they have grown up, their filmmaking has gotten more serious … much more serious.
The past three weeks, the brother and sister duo have been at the helm of Summer Snow, a movie they wrote together and are now directing for American Family Studios, the faith-based company that produced October Baby, which played in Lexington earlier this year.
The story is about a family in which the mother has died, but she left behind letters for everyone to help guide them on their spiritual journeys.
Writing the script was a family affair, including having their mother, Karen White, write the letters.
“When she sent them to us, I couldn’t even see the computer screen, I was crying so hard,” Jeremy says.
Kendra and Jeremy studied filmmaking at Asbury University, where Kendra says there was as much an emphasis on storytelling as there was on the technical side of film.
“The technology will change, but good storytelling is timeless,” she says.
For years, the theater in the Lexington Public Library downtown has been a venue for plays, films, talks, music and candidate debates.
This month, the renamed Will Stamps Farish Fund Theater at Central Library is reintroducing itself with numerous upgrades, from the dressing rooms backstage to the technology in the control room. The $537,288 renovation to the theater and its lobby, including a $100,000 endowment for maintenance of the 12-year-old Foucault Pendulum and Ceiling Clock, was funded primarily with grants from the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation Inc. and the William Stamps Farish Fund, and several other donors.
“In the 12 years I’ve been here, this is the biggest donation to the library that I have heard of,” said media relations coordinator Doug Tattershall. “This was a huge undertaking to do this not with public funds but with private donations.”
Folks will have ample opportunity to check out the facilities thanks to an April calendar full of presentations, from concerts to theater to film screenings and discussions. The list of performers includes local favorites such as self-proclaimed “honky-tonk soul” artists Coralee and the Townies and comedian Etta May, movies such as Coal Miner’s Daughter and several foreign films, and groups such as Accents Publishing.
Library director Ann Hammond says the renovation was done purposefully, with extensive consultations with the arts community about what their needs would be in a new performance venue.
“They wanted the equipment to be more comprehensive, more up-to-date,” Hammond says. “They had, basically, VHS technology. So now we’ve got Blu-ray, we’ve got all kinds of ability to project and to record.”
Jim Chandler, director of support services, points out that all the systems may be operated from iPads, so a technical director could sit in the theater and make adjustments rather than hoping what he or she is seeing or hearing in the booth is the same as what the audience is experiencing.
Hammond said groups also wanted the theater’s heating and air-conditioning systems addressed, both in terms of climate control and noise, and they wanted better backstage accommodations and more stage access from backstage. All of those things have been dealt with, Hammond says.
For the audience, seats have been staggered to allow better stage views, and there are cup holders. Food and drink will be allowed in the theater because a rubberized compound has replaced carpeting on the floor.
“We’re going to be a little friendlier to people who come in and use the theater,” Hammond says.
And in the changing world of libraries, an asset like a theater is very important, she says.
“A library’s greatest place in society is to be that leveling force, that place where you can come and you know you’re going to be welcome and you don’t have to pay an entry fee, and you get help with your information needs, you can attend a program, you can take class, you can come hang out and have a sense of community,” she says. “That’s what we’re hoping to create here. We want to be a welcoming space for the entire community, and with the theater, with the art gallery, with all the other provisions that the library offers, I think we’re doing that.”
The Kentucky Foundation for Women has awarded 10 Artist Enrichment Grants totaling more than $24,000 to “Central Kentucky feminist artists and arts organizations committed to creating positive social change throughout the state,” according to a news release. The release says the grants “provide opportunities for feminist artists and arts organizations to enhance their abilities and skills to create art that advances social justice in Kentucky. Applicants may request funds to develop their skills, participate in artist residencies, explore new areas or techniques, and/or build a body of work.”
The honorees are:
Philis Alvic, Lexington: $2,000 to create an exhibition titled Portals, exploring openings, transformations and passages in feminist weaving.
Arwen Donahue, Carlisle: $4,900 to create a book manuscript, with watercolor and ink illustrations, combining memoir, oral history interviews with artist-agrarian women.
Joanna Thornewill Hay, Frankfort: $3,500 to work with a mentor to write a book based on Stories From the Balcony, her oral history project with white and black people who attended the Grand Theatre in Frankfort during the era of segregation.
Rebecca Gayle Howell, Lexington: $3,000 to archive her recently completed body of feminist social change manuscripts, photographs and digital files, and use new and traditional media.
Chialing Hsieh, Mount Sterling: $3,500 to record and distribute a CD of works for viola and piano by contemporary American female composers.
Josephine Sculpture Park, Frankfort: $1,500 to support a feminist production of The Tempest, focusing on the female characters and led by female artists.
George Ella Lyon, Lexington: $1,000 to complete a CD of original songs in the folk tradition called Every Time You Speak the Truth (You’re Making Justice in the World).
Anna P. Murphy, Frankfort: $1,000 to create and exhibit a series of paintings depicting strong female figures juxtaposed with detailed lace and patterning.
Bianca Spriggs, Lexington: $2,043 to attend a national conference, participate in discussions and network with writers and literary organizations.
Doris Thurber, Frankfort: $2,000 to create batik wall hangings depicting myths and stories that show the roles women play in the physical and spiritual worlds.
Project descriptions were provided by the Kentucky Foundation for Women.
Getting on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine is a time-honored dream of rockers. But as Kentuckians like Johnny Depp have demonstrated, RS also puts its fair share of movie stars on its treasured cover.
The forthcoming issue will boast Kentucky’s own George Clooney, featured in conjunction with his current film The Ides of March and forthcoming The Descendants. Both films have had good notices and appear poised to put Clooney back into the awards-season mix.
In the story, Clooney reportedly says of the Alexander Payne (Sideways) written and directed Descendants, “If it’s not nominated for best picture, I’ll be shocked. It’s that good.” Of Ides, which Clooney wrote, directed and starred in, he says, ”It’s not designed for everybody to see, but I don’t give a —-. I don’t need to be more famous and we shot it for $12 million, so anything we do is nice.”
Stone’s press release also details a few other items from the Lexington-born, Augusta-raised star we can’t repeat here on a family newspaper blog, but if you read the feature on Eddie Murphy in the last Stone, you know they don’t have similar restraints.
Suffice to say, the cover signals what will probably be a steady stream of Clooney coverage the next few months.
To most of us, fall arts means getting out in the crisp weather to attend shows and visit galleries at the time of year when creativity seems to be bursting forth like the colors on autumn leaves.
And live is generally the best way to experience the arts.
But PBS is making a decent case for staying in, or at least DVRing its Fall Arts Festival, which continues tonight, Oct. 28, with Great Performances’ presentation of the Miami City Ballet Dances Balanchine and Tharp showing nationally at 9 p.m. and here in Central Kentucky at 10 p.m. on KET and 8 p.m. Weds., Nov. 2, on KET2 (there are also DVR-friendly showings at 2 a.m. Oct. 29 and 4 a.m. Oct. 31). The season as a whole is diverse with operetta, rock ‘n’ roll, theater, even bluegrass next week with Steve Martin’s Give Me the Banjo.
Two things I really like about this are it shows PBS getting on a more consistent schedule with arts programming and the programs are moving around the nation. I cannot quantify this, but in the past, public television arts programs have often seemed a bit more haphazard in their timing, and if you weren’t paying attention, it was easy to miss things. Even if it is on a night a lot of us are out at arts events, at least we have a time we know we can look for these shows. And though we have seen more in recent years from cities such as Los Angeles and Washington in recent years, it is nice to see this televised festival so self-consciously not New York-centric.
Of course, it is also great to have network-quality production values focused on the arts, as tonight’s ballet program shows. I have only had time to preview a bit of the Miami City program, but it looks and sounds spectacular, with a program of diverse icons with George Balanchine and Twyla Tharp.
At its best, this series can inspire us to go out and see what’s happening in our own cities.
I’m a PC.
Today, my computers are PCs, my phone is an Android and my mp3 player is not an iPod, and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything with those choices.
But it would be stupid for me or anyone else to say we are not working and computing in the world Steve Jobs created. None of those devices I use bear an iconic Apple logo, but all of them contain vast inspiration from Macs, iPods and iPhones, which sprang from the mind of Jobs, who died way too young Wednesday at 56.
There were days when the differences between Macs and PCs were vast, and it was clear: PCs were for work, Macs were for creating.
I have to smile everytime I hear Jobs obituaries mention the fact that the Mac was invented in a garage, the birthplace things like bands, as opposed to a lab. Jobs stories also state in amazement that even his competitors are paying tribute to him. But they know what they owe Jobs.
My first encounter with a Mac was at my college paper, Old Dominion University’s Mace & Crown.
It was a near spiritual event when the first Mac entered our office and was enshrined at our lead page designer’s desk. It had this vertical screen where the images actually looked like what we were working on and this amazing little device called a mouse that let us freely move around the page. It was Deb’s machine, but all of us snuck over and played with it.
And our work improved because of that play.
A year later, all section editors at the Mace had Macs on our desks, and Jobs’ creation had completely transformed how the paper looked and how we put it together.
It was time for the IBM-based PCs to start playing catch-up, and it would not be the last time Jobs moved the bar way ahead for the rest of the creative world.
Film animation was a children’s niche until Jobs’ Pixar dazzled us with Toy Story in 1995. Now animation is a giant genre for viewers of all ages.
Music struggled to come to grips with the digital age until Jobs brought us the iPod and iTunes. OK, it still struggles. But musicians probably owe the fact that they still make any money from their recordings to Jobs’ innovations.
And a cellphone was just a phone until Jobs brought us the iPhone. When a friend was showing me his version of the cell phone I now use, he joked, “Oh, it works great as a phone, too,” a tribute to Jobs’ vision for what the little devices were capable of. I also joked with friends urging me to get an iPhone, “I’m not sure I want to join your cult.”
But the truth is the cell industry wouldn’t have had to invent Android if Apple had not produced the iPhone.
That the creative culture is now so important in discussions of business and economic development owes a tremendous amount to Jobs highlighting the value of creativity, design and accessibility.
The death of anyone so young as sad, and Jobs passing the day after Apple’s first post-Jobs product announcement was such a letdown is sobering.
Our world needed Steve Jobs, and it needs more people like him.
Growing up in Virginia Beach, I always thought the biggest disasters that could befall my hometown were hurricanes or nuclear war – it was the 1970s and ’80s, and we were sure that the Navy base in Norfolk would be among the Russians’ first targets.
But earthquakes? That’s what Californians had to worry about.
So some of the big reaction to Tuesday afternoon’s 5.9 earthquake centered between Richmond, Va., and Washington D.C. was due to the sheer novelty of the event. An earthquake?! Really?! As my sister, who felt the quake in her Newport News, Va., office said, “When you’re from as geologically unexciting place as Tidewater, (an earthquake is) the LAST thing that enters your mind!”
But, as Howard Kurtz chronicles in a really sharp Daily Beast column today, some media outlets did shift into disaster mode in the coverage of the quake, as if Tuesday’s event had somehow been on the level of the recent Haitian or Japanese earthquakes that were bona fide disasters whose ramifications can still be felt today.
Of course, this event warranted coverage answering questions such as what did happen and is there cause for further concern. But in this instance, that should get it – an unexpected occurrence that thankfully caused little harm.
But getting ready to leave the house this morning, I was amazed to hear one of the morning news broadcasts opening with dramatic music and an ominous voiceover as if this was an actual disaster that had actually claimed lives and substantial property.
But, as Kurtz says, part of the reason it was such a big deal, shoving most other news off the air, was it happened to Washington and New York – in the middle of a working day, no less. And you know, if it happens to Washington and New York, it’s a HUGE deal. These situations always take me back to the Winter of 2003 when we had an ice storm that practically paralyzed Lexington for a week. People as close as Cincinnati were clueless as to what had happened to us. But a few weeks later, New York City had a blizzard and it was national news.
Now I’m not saying that our situation warranted 24-seven coverage. But neither do events in New York or D.C., just because they happen to news network anchors.
Here’s a link to source page for the image above: http://twitpic.com/25txue
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich