New doc JAZZ NIGHTS: A CONFIDENTIAL JOURNEY’s sax player and composer extraordinaire, Geoff “Double G” Gallegos and JAZZ NIGHTS’ director Hal Masonberg were this week’s guests on Chet Hanley’s 3-hour TV show JAZZ IN THE MODERN ERA from April 5, 2016.
There’s a lot of music and extraordinary archival video to listen and watch on this episode. And weaving in and out of those, Chet Hanley interviews Double G and Hal Masonberg about both JAZZ NIGHTS and Gee about the saxophone and his lifelong influences.
Continue reading “Double G & Hal Masonberg on Chet Hanley’s “JAZZ IN THE MODERN ERA””
I’ve heard a whole lot about this topic from many different sides of the conversation lately. I come at this already not being a fan of the Oscars as a representation of film and cinema and I gave up watching them several years ago.
It’s been suggested by some (or many, even) that the reason for the complete lack of minority nominations this year may just be that the performances by non-white actors simply weren’t as good this year as the other’s nominated. Or that it’s a numbers game and there are fewer films and performances to choose from that highlight and showcase non-white actors and stories. While that second statement is certainly true for Hollywood and is something that desperately needs to change, it’s still far too easy an answer as to why most of the nominees this year are white. And it misses a crucial part of the point.
Here’s why I think the lack-of-diversity complaint that is taking place now is undeniably spot on: I know someone who has been in the industry most of their life and has been successful. This person is white. This person is older. And this person said to me that they walked out of the movie FRUITVALE STATION, not because it was a bad movie or that this person didn’t like the performances, but because, and this is verbatim, “I’m just not interested in movies about the black experience.”
Continue reading “Why Academy Members’ Lack-of-Diversity Is An Important Conversation”
Today I grabbed the cheapest tix possible to see Dead & Company here in L.A. with some dear friends. The concert will be on Dec. 30th (we’re skipping the New Year’s show). Our seats are in the nosebleed section behind the stage with an obstructed view. While excited to see this band live and hear some of my favorite songs again, I will be forever dismayed at what the concert scene in general has devolved into.
Even though ticket prices for the cheapest seats are lower for Dead & Company than your average concert, the prices are still considerably high. Ticketmaster is offered as an only option (with outrageous fees and surcharges), and like so much else in America, the less money you make/have to spend, the more you are penalized, marginalized and physically and statistically separated from those with more money than you. Growing up, I could pay $12.50 and get a seat in the first row. Or the twentieth row! …Or the last. All that was required of me was that I wanted to hear the music and had a desire to partake. It wasn’t an experience just for the rich and well-off. And we all sat together, intermingled, rich and poor, young and old. It was a communal experience that celebrated what we had in common, not accentuated what separated us. We weren’t isolated into roped-off sections, divergent tiers based on income. The only difference, perhaps, were those who camped out overnight for tickets (pre-internet) and those who bought them later. But that wasn’t class separation. What we have here and now is just a reflection of the attitudes and gross disparity our country has come to not only represent, but in some circles celebrate.
Continue reading “The Segregation of America’s Live Music Experience”
Linds Redding died of inoperable espohageal cancer. He was an art director who worked at BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi. Linds kept a blog and one of the last pieces he wrote before he died, “A Short Lesson in Perspective,” explores his final frame of mind on the ad business and how many of us choose to live our lives and approach our art. It is a devastating and scathing piece. And desperately worth the read, I think.
With over 20 years under my belt in the commercial casting business, I’ve worked a lot with the folks from BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi. May have even worked with Linds. I think what he discovered at the end of his life is considerable and noteworthy. Particularly while living in any Capitalist society. Not that Capitalism is all bad, but it does promote a state of mind that can be –how shall I say this — a tad misleading. Our goals and definitions of success are oftentimes out of sync with the greater elements and offerings of the human experience. It’s one of the main reasons I have such a hard time with the Hollywood mindset surrounding film and filmmaking. I think it almost entirely misses the point. At the same time, it has its own alluring gravitational pull that is hard to break free of. Lord knows I’m still struggling with it.
Continue reading “A Deathbed Perspective on the Business of Art”
I liked SELMA. And I thought it suffered a bit from the usual standard biopic pitfalls of not digging more deeply into the complex areas inherent in its story and characters, as well as not trusting actual events to be powerful enough of a story to not have to alter history to create extra drama or to paint a more “desirable” picture. That said, I still found the film effecting and it stayed with me longer than either THE IMITATION GAME or THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, the other 2 biopics from last year made in a similar mold.
For me, these kinds of linear tellings of stories with historical beats that need to be hit always feel too manufactured. Which isn’t to say they don’t have impact or are not good films. Many are, and this one is. But there’s a deeper level of human experience, the human condition, that these types of films never quite manage to reveal for me. More often than not, this begins at the script stage. These films often feel like the events themselves were strung out in a line with index cards and the characters’ personal struggles inserted to up the drama instead of revealing and exploring the many layers and complexities of the human beings and their struggles being portrayed. For me, the film MR. TURNER was the only biopic I saw from last year that transcended this issue. Perhaps because the filmmaker/writer, Mike Leigh, knows that it’s the characters’ inner journeys that dictate the “events” that unfold and not the other way around.
Continue reading “Does “SELMA” Shine A Light On More Than Just Its Story?”
I’m not gonna lie. This sounds just awful. In truth, I can’t see any way it could be anything but. Not in today’s filmmaking climate and not with whatever oversized budget this puppy’s gonna have. I suppose it’s a good thing that Ridley Scott isn’t directing again since the original BLADE RUNNER was the last film he directed that I liked and his ALIEN prequel (PROMETHEUS) suggested once again that the man who made Scott’s first three films no longer inhabits the body and mind of the man who now calls himself Ridley Scott.
Too harsh? Probably. But the promise and talent exhibited in THE DUELLISTS, ALIEN, and BLADE RUNNER never returned to the screen with any of Scott’s subsequent projects. Yes, I include the Best Picture Oscar-winner GLADIATOR in that group. I didn’t like it at all. For me, Scott’s signature “style” lost its substance and seemed to revert more to what pleased the eye than what best told the story.
Continue reading “Churning Pessimism: Harrison Ford To Star In “BLADE RUNNER” Sequel”
For anyone who has read my posts here for any length of time, you know that I have some serious issues with the Oscars. It wasn’t always that way and, perhaps, that is part of my struggle.
Like many cinephiles out there, the Academy Awards were, as a kid, a big draw for me. I never missed watching it on TV. From start to finish. I hung on every word, every sound, every clip. As I got older, started working at film festivals, moved to Hollywood, started working in the industry itself, sold screenplays, directed two features, wrote for the studios, worked over 2 decades in casting, and have been represented by UTA, ICM and Gersh, my outlook on both this town, this business and the Academy Awards changed quite dramatically. Peeling back that curtain can be a scary thing. Like when one of my friends told me “Be careful of meeting your heroes. There’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed.” Of course, this is not always true. But I think the idea he was trying to get across was that, oftentimes, people, places and ideas exist in our mind in a somewhat more “perfect” or fanciful way than they may in actuality.
Continue reading “Tackling My Oscar Blues While Celebrating “BIRDMAN””