Robin Williams was admitted to a Florida hospital yesterday after complaining of shortness of breath. After first postponing his remaining Sunshine State dates, tour organizers announced this afternoon that the remainder of his 80-date "Weapons of Self-Destruction" tour will also be postponed while Williams undergoes emergency heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement.
Officials at Durham Performing Arts Center said his show, scheduled for Friday, March 13, will be rescheduled for the fall, and that tickets to the sold-out show will be honored. Text of announcement after the jump.
There was more evidence this week that a film production is indeed getting underway in Durham. Auditions for Main Street were held all week at Durham Convention Center. Two actors confirmed independently that they'd read for parts this week, and that the production is scheduled to begin in April.
The casting agency is Telsey and Company, described by one of our confidants as a
very reputable casting agency out of NYC. They cast lots of Broadway shows and big movies like Sex and the City, Rachel Getting Married, and Milk. I saw them a few times while I was living in NYC [ ... ] They sent one of their casting associates down here to do the initial auditions this week, a really good reader and very nice. She videotapes into a computer, which then gets streamed to NYC. Very similar to what the Fincannons do in Wilmington, and something I'm seeing more and more.
This correspondent also described a diverse casting call, suggesting that this movie's Durham may be less white than it was in 1988 when Bull Durham was released.
I was up against Asians, African-Americans, all types and ages, etc., so the field is pretty wide open. Very typical videotaped in-and-out audition, from which they'll narrow the field to meet with the director at callbacks. Pretty standard fare.
Both of our correspondents report that the advertised stars are Colin Firth, Ellen Burstyn and Patricia Clarkson (that's an aggregate of six Oscar nominations and one win).
However, one of them cautioned about the casting, "you might want to say 'rumored' or something like that since I'm not sure how much of the info on the leads, etc. is true and how much is out there to raise money."
As it happens, this film project appears on none of these actors' imdb.com pages. The imdb.com entry for the film itself is minimal, listing only the screenwriter, director and production company. (It seems the film's title has been shortened from Main Street USA.) The script is by two-time Oscar winner Horton Foote (Tender Mercies, To Kill a Mockingbird). John Doyle, best known as a stage director, is set to direct. The production company is Reliant Pictures, which was set up two years ago by Thom Mount, Durham native and producer of Bull Durham.
The most informative item on the film's imdb.com entry is the following plot summary, which provides a protagonist's name and otherwise confirms what has been reported about the film's content in the Independent and elsewhere.
From the once thriving tobacco warehouses, to the current run-down and closed shops of Five Points, a diverse group of residents and their respective life changes when outsider Gus Leroy brings something new and potentially dangerous into their quiet town.
Our other correspondent also described an ordinary audition, and passed along some official production information, which reads in part:
MAIN STREET, a feature film starring Ellen Burstyn, Patricia Clarkson and Colin Firth, is a movie that will be filming in Durham, NC this Spring. Our casting office will be in Durham, NC the week of Feb 23-Feb 27. A large portion of the cast will be LOCAL HIRES.
The controversial move by the Carolina Ballet to relocate some of its performances from Memorial Auditorium has prompted a meeting this evening between Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and representatives of several Raleigh arts organizations. But behind the scenes, the conflict over performance space centers on a more pervasive issue: Raleigh's largest venues are now competing with Durham for the biggest touring acts.
Meeker and the groups plan to discuss the implications of moving the Carolina Ballet from Memorial Auditorium into Progress Energy Center's Fletcher Opera Theater.
Raleigh City Council recently approved a multi-year lease agreement term sheet for the Carolina Ballet to split its productions between Memorial Auditorium, where it has performed exclusively for the past two years, and Fletcher Theater.
According to Nancy Lambert of the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, the meeting with Meeker was requested by several groups, including the Guild, Theatre in the Park, The Opera Company of North Carolina, Raleigh Little Theatre and Capital Opera.
They are concerned about the new arrangement and the city's priorities for booking space for locally produced events. Several groups have complained about difficulties booking space at the Progress Energy Center, contending the city favors larger events over smaller local productions by waiving fees, altering grant terms and allocating choice venues.
Language in the scheduling policy for the Raleigh Convention Center indicates that priority is given to touring theatrical productions that would produce five or more performances, while local productions and concerts are on a "first come, first serve" basis.
Lambert says that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss with Meeker how to revise the current booking policy for the Civic Center to give local groups more access to it.
"It really depends on where the conversation goes," Lambert says. "We want to make sure the mayor understands the impact regarding the recent proposal regarding Carolina Ballet, and we would like to consider if there was a way the local organizations could have access to that theater."
Carolina Ballet Executive Director Lisa Jones says that the ballet had historically split its performances between Memorial Auditorium and Fletcher Theater, and that the move would only encompass about half of its upcoming productions.
"Roger Krupa [director of the Raleigh Convention Center] asked us if we'd like to come back to Fletcher and we agreed," Jones says. She says the ballet and other local organizations can co-exist, and that the arrangement can be beneficial. "An organization that performs for three weeks can benefit both the community and arts groups that maybe perform a single show."
Krupa acknowledges that the city places precedence on high-profile, multi-night performances over smaller-scale local groups. Part of the rationale involves Raleigh's competition for events with the Durham Performing Arts Center, which opened in November.
"The Durham Performing Arts Center is taking shows that we would have presented," Krupa says. "That money is not money that is going to be going into Raleigh."
Krupa says that he respects local groups' wishes—"If you can get an audience, we're for it!"—but adds he has conflicted with some organizations over touring shows. According to Krupa, Ira David Wood III wanted to extend last year's production of A Christmas Carol for a few extra shows, but wanted the theater to remain dark the nights it was not performing. (Wood declined to comment for this story.)
Krupa says he refused Wood's request because it came after the space had been rented to other performers. "Do you want to tell the people who work at the theater that they won't be needed those nights?" Krupa asks. He says that he feels there can be a balance between the different performances, but he makes no apologies about wanting high-revenue events: "My responsibility is to the taxpayers and the city manager."
The question hovering over tonight's meeting is whether the city can strike a balance between providing space for larger-scale, higher-revenue shows and smaller, more intimate local productions.
"It's a matter of priority, I think," Lambert says. "The bottom line is the bottom line. They just want to make certain that the city officials do not overlook the community groups. Fletcher Theatre was built for community groups, and we'd like to maintain a presence there."
The Independent will provide a full update on this meeting in next week's issue.
Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for electric public utilities in North Carolina to purchase, or use, coal derived from dynamiting mountaintops in southern Appalachia. Half of the coal used to produce electricity in North Carolina is derived from the process, known as mountaintop removal, resulting in radically altered ecosystems, polluted streams and rivers, and billions of tons gallons of toxic "coal slurry," collected in artificial pools, or injected into ground soil. Other than Georgia, no other state in the U.S. uses more mountaintop removal-derived coal.
"Because North Carolina burns a significant amount of coal extracted by mountaintop removal coal mining, we have an obligation to eliminate or reduce the devastating social and environmental impacts of this mining in the Appalachian Mountains," the bill states.
Harrison introduced a similar bill last year, saying she was motivated in part by 2008 Indies Arts Award winner Michael O'Connell's documentary, Mountaintop Removal, which focuses on the devastating effect on Appalachian families.
Evan Rachel Wood stopped being a full-time Raleigh resident years ago, but her family remains central to the city's theater scene: Her father, Ira David Wood III, is longtime artistic director of Theatre in the Park, and recently finished a run in the title role of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Evan's brother Ira David Wood IV was also in that production.
Now she'll be reunited with her family in a production of Romeo and Juliet, the theater announced on its Web site. The show is advertised as a fundraiser, and is tentatively set to run in mid-May. Ira David Wood IV—who has acted in at least three movies with his sister (including Across the Universe and Pretty Persuasion)—will direct.
Auditions to fill out the production are scheduled for Feb. 24-25. The role of Romeo is not yet cast, but the announcement obliquely hints at a further casting coup: The role is "possibly open for a strong leading man."
Wood can currently be seen in Darren Aronofsky's sensational film The Wrestler, in which she gives an excoriating performance as the embittered, estranged daughter of Mickey Rourke's title character. The movie received two Oscar nominations, for the work of Wood's co-stars Rourke and Marisa Tomei.
We called Theatre in the Park to confirm details. Erin West, office manager, said that the part of Romeo is open. We asked her about an audition announcement that briefly appeared last week on Craigslist that suggested Jamie Bell as a possibility for the part, but West said "Jamie Bell is no longer a possibility" for the role. West also said the Craigslist posting was not made by the "staff of Theatre in the Park."
The details of the run, and ticket information, will likely be available next week, West said. She said it would probably be a one-weekend run in the 219-seat theater.
The text of the Web site announcement follows.
[caption id="attachment_2904" align="alignright" width="237" caption="Javier Piñón's "Untitled," from a Branch Gallery show in February 2008"]
In a major blow to Durham's downtown cultural offerings, the proprietors of the Branch Gallery announced today that the Foster Street business will close its doors Feb. 28.
In a statement, the gallery's co-owners Chloe Seymore and Teka Selman said they initially planned to close the gallery in the fall of 2009, but after discussions last month with the building's landlord, Scientific Properties (which also owns the Venable Building where the Indy is located), the decision was made to close the gallery at the end of this month.
The gallery will honor its existing exhibition commitments in other venues this summer.
We reached Selman by telephone. Selman said the gallery is "not likely" to be open during this Friday night's Third Friday events. (UPDATE 5:43 p.m.: Seymore just called to report that the gallery will be open until 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20.)
Selman pointed out that Third Friday earlybirds can still check in before the close of business at 6 p.m. to catch the current shows, Pedro Lasch's LATINO/A AMERICA: The New York and North Carolina Suites and If Only to Wake My Neighbors Up: David Colagiovanni, Lydia Moyer, Michael Robinson.
We'll have more, but for now, here's the text of the gallery announcement.
Indy freelancer Marc Maximov spent the last two weeks of January where he always does: at Park City, Utah, volunteering with the Sundance Film Festival and taking in films. Lots of films.
Every year, he sends an e-mail to his friends with the skinny on the films--especially the documentaries, which he finds to be the festival's most consistently rewarding offerings. With any luck, Triangle residents will have the opportunity to see some of them at Durham’s Full Frame documentary fest in April.
Marc's note follows:
Durham Performing Arts Center announced this afternoon that Ben Folds will perform Wednesday, Feb. 25, on a bill with Miniature Tigers.
It's the first of a three-date swing through the Carolinas in support of his new album, Way to Normal: Stems and Seeds, due out Feb. 10. Tickets are a very reasonable, recession-friendly $29.50.
The new record is a special two-disk version of his last album, Way to Normal. On his Web site, Folds provides an explanation for the new record's existence:
And so we have "Way To Normal: Stems and Seeds" - two disks. One disk is a remix, remaster, re-sequence of "Way To Normal" along with the now legendary (in our own minds) 'fake' tracks, the Japanese version of "Hiroshima", the Conan Rehearsal of "You Don't Know Me" and the Piano Orchestra version of "Cologne" - a total of 20 tracks.
The other is a disk of files, called stems, which will pop up in Garageband and allow you to mix the album yourselves. Just click on the file of the song you want to mix and you'll quickly understand how it works. If you'd like to turn the drums off or down, or if you want to use loops or turn that damn singer off and sing it yourself, its all possible. We've included extra loops with the song "You Don't Know Me" hoping someone could maybe come along and make a hit out of this fucking song.
Perhaps Folds got the remixing idea from Indy music editor Grayson Currin's review of Way to Normal on Pitchfork.
Here's a friendlier review by the same author of Ben Folds Five's sold-out reunion performance of its classic The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival announced today that Steve James, director of one of the most successful documentaries ever, the 1994 epic Hoop Dreams, will curate a sports-themed program at this year's festival, which runs April 2-5.
James' sidebar will be called This Sporting Life, and will not be limited to documentaries. Instead, the series "will include some of the lesser-seen dramatic films that take place in the world of sports. Selections will include those that specifically anticipated the emergence of the sports genre in documentary filmmaking, which continues to be honest, vibrant, and original."
Any suggestions for Mr. James? We've got a couple: The Harder They Fall, a boxing muckraker with Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger and real-life boxers Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott; and The History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game, the 11-hour, Terence Stamp-narrated British television documentary from 2001.
Leave your suggestions here or at Triangle Offense, our sports blog.
Full Frame also announced a special memorial program in honor of St. Clair Bourne, a documentary filmmaker and friend of the festival who died in December 2007. Complete release after the jump.
The Durham Performing Arts Center announced today that Morrissey will play March 11, 2009.
Short notice to get your money together, though: Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m., at the DPAC box office, by telephone, on its Web site and at Ticketmaster outlets.
Prices are a reasonable $25-$42. This should sell out fast.
The official press release is after the jump.