Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stop the presses - 90 Proof Maker’s Mark is back

I wrote last week about the move by the distiller of Maker's Mark Bourbon to reduce the alcohol by volume (ABV) content of the bourbon from 45% (90 Proof) to 42% ( 84 Proof) and the firestorm that announcement set off. Well, it didn’t take long for the distiller to understand - like Coca Cola’s faux pas with New Coke - it had made a big mistake. Get the fire extinguishers, 90 Proof is back.

In a letter and emails to their customers from Rob Samuels and Bill Samuels, Jr. the son and grandson of Maker’s Mark founder Bill Samuels, Sr. they announced the reversal of their decision:

“Dear Friends,

Since we announced our decision last week to reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of Maker’s Mark in response to supply constraints, we have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision.

You spoke. We listened. And we’re sincerely sorry we let you down.”

This reversal is not only pleasing to Maker’s Mark fans but it has created a collector’s market.

Some cases of the 84 Proof bourbon had been shipped and while Maker’s Mark was attempting to recall those cases from distributors, some bottles had already made it to store shelves and had been sold. Those 84 Proof bottles are now collectable. In fact some liquor stores are touting the bottles for sale.

Binny’s in Chicago has some and is advertising its collectability and availability. From its website:

“Makers Missed the Mark.
Don’t miss your chance to grab this COLLECTABLE BOTTLE.

If you missed this story, here’s what happened. Maker’s Mark announced that they would lower the alcohol of their beloved bourbon from 90 to 84 proof. It took less than a week for public outrage to reach such a fervor that they doubled back on their decision, promising to stick with the original recipe.

That makes the low proof Maker’s Mark an instant collector’s item for whiskey enthusiasts.
The distillery is busy reclaiming cases from wholesalers, but we’re holding our allocation for you. We want to offer you the chance to buy this bottle of history. Remember, it’s a limited product, production had a life measured in hours instead of days or weeks. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Available In-Store Only!”

I am not certain where else any of the 84 Proof Maker’s Mark may still be available (don't look for it on EBay, alcohol sales are prohibited there), but I will be keeping my eyes open.

Derby Day Mint Juleps with 90 Proof Maker's Mark are safe.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hillary Clinton's Husband and Barbara Streisand - Awards season not over for either

Hillary Clinton’s Husband to make another Awards appearance, this time with Barbara Streisand.

The Oscars are Sunday night and are the focus of many people. But there is another award coming in April.

Barbara Streisand who will sing at the Oscars on Sunday is also being honored at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 40th annual Chaplin Award Ceremony. The award will be presented by Bill Clinton. Clinton appeared to a standing ovation at the Golden Globes to introduce Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln. When he finished, co-host Amy Poehler excitedly said, "That was Hillary Clinton's husband!" Then, the other co-host Tina Fey, added, “That was Bill Rodham Clinton!"

Streisand whose career started on the Broadway stage has had an impressive recording career but has also played an important role in film. Among other things she is the first woman artist to receive credit as writer, director, producer and star of a major motion picture: Yentl.

She is the only artist to receive an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, Emmy, DGA Award, Golden Globe, and National Medal of Arts Award.

Preceding the presentation of the award will be film and video clips of her films and interviews.

Streisand supported Clinton in his successful runs for the presidency and as I noted in an earlier posting performed at the end of the 2000 Democratic national Convention in Los Angeles on behalf of Oscar winner Al Gore.

The Chaplin Award began in 1972 honoring Charlie Chaplin himself. Other honorees include some of Hollywood’s best: Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Sidney Poitier, Betty Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier, Meryl Streep and Jimmy Stewart.

The award ceremony is part of a gala at Lincoln Center on April 22.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maker's Mark bucking the high-proof trend in bourbon

I bought a bottle of Maker’s Mark yesterday and checked the label. It still stated that the bourbon in the bottle is 45% alcohol by volume. That however is apparently going to change. The alcohol content of bourbon and other spirits is stated as either a percentage or as a proof. 45% alcohol is the same as 90 Proof. Maker’s Mark has announced that in an effort to meet rising demand it is going to reduce that alcohol content to 42% or 84 Proof.

In October I wrote of the trend to increase the proof of alcohol content in spirits, particularly bourbon. In the sixties a typical bottle of bourbon would be 86 Proof or 43% alcohol but over subsequent years proof was lowered to a fairly consistent 80 Proof. Now, as I noted, many distillers have increased proof to 90 or above.

Maker’s Mark now seems to buck that trend.

In a letter to customers, Rob Samuels, the company’s Chief Operating Officer stated: “Fact is, demand for our bourbon is exceeding our ability to make it, which means we’re running very low on supply.”

That proof reduction will be accomplished by watering the whiskey – fighting words in the saloons of the old west and also in Kentucky where Maker’s Mark is distilled. There has been an outcry from residents of the Bluegrass state and elsewhere. The Twittersphere exploded with the news.

However, all bourbon or other whiskey is watered. Bourbon is distilled at up to 160 proof (80% alcohol) and then has water added to arrive at the desired alcohol by volume content. The amount of alcohol is important not just because it gives bourbon its ‘kick’ but because alcohol is significant carrier of flavor. Finding the right balance makes all the difference in how enjoyable the bourbon is to the drinker. Many of us actually add some water to the whiskies we drink. A bit of water to a glass of Scotch or Bourbon can actually help release the flavor. Lyndon Johnson was famous for liking 'Bourbon and Branch Water'. Branch water is theoretically water from the same stream that the bourbon was distilled from.

Samuels states that he does not believe that the reduction in proof will negatively impact the flavor. He says that taste tests confirm that.

Global demand for bourbon has been increasing, particularly in India. Who knew? Part of that is the sweetness of bourbon when compared to other whiskies – Scotch or Irish whiskey, for instance. That sweetness is apparently favored by consumers in India.

We will see whether any other high-end bourbon distillers will follow suit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Show that Won't Stop and the Movie that Can't be Stopped.

The show that won't stop.

Like the Energizer Bunny, Les Miserables just keeps going and going. Not only is the film version nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (I don’t think it will win) but now it will be coming back to Broadway. Producer Cameron Mackintosh said Tuesday, that he will remount it in March of 2014. I guess he believes that all the attention being paid to the film will last for a year and encourage attendance at the new revival. Or he may be trying to exorcise the ghost of the last revival in 2006. It was a critical disaster but it did run for a little over a year. He clearly hopes/expects the revival to last more than 15 months. Mounting, even a revival is an expensive process and needs significant ticket sales to recoup costs.

The revival will be the version that has been touring the United States for the last couple of years. That version doesn’t use the revolving turntable that was part of the original design. The revival won’t use the turntable either. The revival will also feature redesigned scenery based on paintings from the original novel as the touring version does.

Regardless of how the film fares at the Oscars, Sunday, the Broadway revival will likely do quite well if it is good. The film has grossed nearly $400 Million world-wide. Over exposure does not seem to be the problem.

The movie that can't be stopped.

Argo continues its awards march. It won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Writer’s Guild Awards Sunday night. It won over Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. As I have noted before, it is difficult to see how it does not win Best Picture at the Oscars next Sunday.

The WGA had good news for Zero Dark Thirty, as well. It won Best Original Screenplay. Others nominated in that category were: Flight, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and Looper.

The other seemingly sure fire winner at Sunday's Oscars will be Searching for Sugar Man. This documentary has been sweeping awards this season as well. It won the WGA Award for Documentary screenplay.

Oscar voting closed yesterday, so now we just wait until the 24th.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Streisand, Bassey, Jones and Adele at the Oscars - wow.

A woman who has not sung at the Oscars in 36 years and one who has never sung but should have, will be front and center – and providing some powerful vocals – in a Diva-studded line-up.

Two-time Oscar winner Barbra Streisand, who has sung on the Oscars only once before, will perform Sunday night. Streisand last sang the love theme from A Star Is Born on the March 28, 1977 show, winning the Best Original Song Oscar for Evergreen that same night.

Joining Streisand will be the immortal Shirley Bassey in what is being called a ‘special appearance’ by the Academy. I am assuming that Bassey will perform as part of the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films. She did three Bond films: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. Oh to hear her do any of those again.

Streisand won an Oscar for 1968’s Funny Girl. She was also nominated for Best Actress again for her role in The Way We Were (one of those films that I can watch over and over and thoroughly enjoy). She lost that year to Glenda Jackson in a Touch of Class. However the theme from The Way We Were, did win best song for Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

I once saw Streisand live. Terry and I were delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 2000. Streisand helped close the Convention with a performance at the Shrine Auditorium. Terry and I were thrilled even if we were in the nose-bleed seats.

In addition to fifty years of Bond films, Shirley Bassey has her own “Diamond Jubilee” with a career spanning over six decades. She has recorded over 44 albums, sold over 135 million records and has sold out concert halls across the world. In June 2012, she was one of a number of esteemed artists, including Elton John, Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox, who performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert.

Streisand and Bassey will be joined by a couple of other impressive singers: Adele (the theme from Skyfall is nominated and she will sing it - it is the only Bond song to ever have been nominated) and Norah Jones.

This is more musical sizzle than the Oscars have had in a long time. In fact many other performers who take the stage Sunday night with this impressive line-up may feel as George Gobel once said that he did: In making an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the company of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, Gobel said that he felt like the world was a tuxedo and he was a pair of brown shoes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

George Washington - A Great President So Modestly Treated On Film

Today is President’s Day. As I noted in an earlier post this is the generic holiday we use to celebrate the birth of two of our greatest presidents – Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and George Washington on February 22.

That earlier post was in relation to the movie Lincoln which is nominated for numerous Oscars at the upcoming Academy Awards. This Spielberg film is just the latest in a long line of films about the 16th President; but what about the Father of our Country, our first President, George Washington? How often has he been the subject of a film?

Lincoln has had eight including the latest Spielberg film. George Washington has had four. And while Lincoln has been portrayed on the big screen, our first President has only been seen on TV. Does this mean, as with Rodney Dangerfield, ‘he don’t get no respect?’

George Washington. This was a 1984 TV Mini-series with Barry Bostwick as George and Patty Duke as Martha.

George Washington II: Forging A Nation. This was a 1986 TV Movie follow-up to the Mini-series. Bostwick and Duke reprise their roles.

The Crossing. This 2000 TV movie has Jeff Daniels portraying Washington in a dramatization of the gamble the future President took in crossing the Delaware River to attack British forces in Trenton, New Jersey. Other than a hatchet and a cherry tree, the painting of Washington in the prow of a boat in the ice-floed river is one of the most iconic images of Washington. (There is a wonderful Stan Freberg routine, on his Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America recording, about Washington trying to decide which boat to take for the crossing – ‘how about the one named Donald Duck’ – you really have to hear it, to appreciate it.)

Washington the Warrior. This was a History Channel reenactment portraying how Washington acquired his military skills. Jackson Bolt portrays Washington and Stacy Keats narrates.

(This list does not include George Washington Slept Here with Jack Benny – George is featured only in the title.)

So why has Washington been the subject of so few films and none on the big screen or before 1984? There was no Young Mr. Lincoln or Abe Lincoln in Illinois as there was with the 16th President.

Is it because he wasn’t killed in office?

Or, maybe the film projects have been so modest because we may view him so modestly. While in truth he had a dynamic personality that is not how we remember him – to us he seems more a father figure or perhaps a kindly uncle.

Lincoln saved the Union but there would have been no Union, no United States but for Washington. Washington deserves a film as powerful as the current Lincoln.

Friday, February 15, 2013

John Kerr - Lt. Cable - has died

John Kerr died two weeks ago. Hard core movie and theatre buffs will know the name, but many others will not.

The film version of South Pacific has been playing lately on the cable channel Starz. If you’ve seen it, you’ve seen John Kerr. He plays Lt. Joseph Cable, the Marine officer whose racial prejudice conflicts with his love of Liat, played by France Nuyen – the prejudice wins out. It wasn’t just Lt. Cable’s prejudice; racial prejudice underlies all of South Pacific.

As with many movie musicals, Kerr did not do his own singing; that was done by Bill Lee.

Kerr was also noted for his Tony-Award winning role in Tea and Sympathy on Broadway. He played opposite Deborah Kerr (no relation) as the sensitive student, tormented by his classmates because they think he is gay. He also starred in the film version in 1956 but the issue or suggestion of homosexuality was suppressed by MGM.

I think Kerr is also notable for a film he did not do. He was originally offered the role of Charles Lindbergh in Warner Brother’s Spirit of St. Louis. He turned the role down because of his feelings toward Charles Lindbergh. He believed Lindbergh to be a Nazi sympathizer. Jimmy Stewart went on to do the film.

While Kerr did other films and television, his career never again reached the heights it had with Tea and Sympathy and South Pacific.

Interestingly, in 1966, he entered UCLA, graduating in 1969 with a law degree and was admitted to the California bar in 1970.

John Kerr was 81 when he died on February 2 in Los Angeles.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fix your sweetheart a romantic meal at home for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day and you haven’t done anything for your valentine. Forget running to the store for a box of candy, or making last minute reservations at a restaurant. Fix a romantic dinner at home, with wine, the candles, the works.

Not sure what to fix? Try this menu.

Start the evening with a Champagne, of course. I am partial to Vueve Clicquot but a Rose Champagne can be pleasant as well. The Champagne will work well with the Bisque.

A good Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah will make a nice accompaniment to the steak, and a nice port finishes the meal.

And don't forget to turn on the music, Sinatra, of course.

The food:
Roast Carrot and Lobster Bisque
Filet of beef with raisin, pepper and Armagnac sauce
Saffron potatoes
Raspberries Jubilee with Kahlua

Roast Carrot and Lobster Bisque
4 teaspoons butter
1 ¼ cups peeled diced carrot
¼ cup minced onion
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups lobster stock (you can use fish stock if lobster is not available)
Four 5oz lobster tails (or 20oz of cooked lobster meat)
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

In an oven proof sauté pan or skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat and sauté the carrots and onion until soft. Cover the pan and place it in the preheated oven and roast the vegetables for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stirring well. Slowly add the stock and simmer the bisque for 5 minutes. Remove from the stove and puree the bisque in a blender or food processor. When adding the bisque to the blender, do so a little at a time so as not to end up with hot bisque all over you when you blend. Season the bisque as needed.

While the vegetables are roasting put the lobster tails in a bowl and toss with the orange juice. Let stand for 15 minutes. In a heavy pan heat a small amount of olive oil over high heat. Add the lobster tails and cook until the shells turn orange, about 4 minutes. Remove and when cool enough to handle cut away the shell from the meat. Chop the meat into small chunks.

Ladle the bisque into two bowls and add lobster meat to each and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Saffron Potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
Pinch of saffron
6 small new red or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil, then add the saffron. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Return the pan to the heat and bring the stock to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes or until you can just pierce them with a fork.

12 spears, about1 lb. green asparagus
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Wash the asparagus and snap off the tough ends. Toss with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast in the same oven as the carrots and onions for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with Balsamic vinegar. When serving with the steak Shave the cheese over the asparagus.

Fillets of beef with Raisin, Pepper and Armagnac sauce
¼ cup golden raisins
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons Armagnac (or brandy)
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 8oz beef tenderloin steaks
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chicken broth.

In a small bowl soak the raisins in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain. Add two tablespoons of the Armagnac to the raisins and set aside.

Spread the peppercorns on a sheet of wax paper and crush with a rolling pin. Press each side of the steaks into the peppercorns. In a sauté pan or skillet (I prefer cast iron) melt one tablespoons of butter and cook the steaks over medium-high heat, 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and tent with aluminum foil.

Deglaze the pan with the remaining Armagnac. Add the raisins and their liquid and cook over medium heat to reduce the liquid by half. Add the chicken broth and reduce by half again. Fold in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season to taste.

Place each steak on a plate, top with some sauce and serve with the potatoes and Asparagus.

Raspberries Jubilee with Kahlua
2oz of puff pastry (frozen works just fine)
1 egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons Kahlua
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur
1 basket of raspberries or one 10 oz package of unsweetened frozen raspberries, defrosted.
2 scoops vanilla ice cream.

Cut the puff pastry into two 4-inch rounds Brush the top of each with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Put in the freezer and chill for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven 425 degrees F. Place the pastry on a baking sheet greased with butter. Bake for 4 minutes then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the pastry turns golden brown. Let cool.

In a small saucepan cook the Grand Marnier, Kahlua and raspberry liqueur over medium heat to reduce the liquid by half. Remove from the heat and fold in the raspberries to just heat through.

Slice off the top of each cooled pastry round. Spoon ice cream into each round, and pour the warm raspberry mixture over the ice cream. Cover with the pastry top and serve.

What comes next is up to your imagination.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Searching for Sugar Man - A BAFTA win and probably an Oscar

There is another film surging out of the BAFTA Awards to what seems to be an inevitable Oscar – Searching for Sugar man. Sugar Man won the BAFTA award for documentary on Sunday. This coming on the heels of wins at the PGA Awards, the DGA Awards, the International Documentary Association Awards and the Critic’s Choice Awards. It has also been nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award, but winners will not be announced until next Monday.

Searching for Sugar Man is a Swedish/British production directed by Malik Bendjelloul. It deals with a search or really an investigation by two South Africans, Stephen Segerman (called Sugarman by friends) and music journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out what happened to Rodriguez, an American Folk Singer from the early 70s: did he really die by committing suicide on stage? The tone of his songs was often bleak (he was living in Detroit and the times were bleak) and so some of those who heard them could easily believe that he would commit suicide.

Rodriguez was a somewhat mysterious singer/songwriter who produced two albums, one in 1970 and another in 1971 and then disappeared. Saying, he disappeared is almost a misstatement. His albums did not sell in the United States and he was basically unknown. The albums were released by Sussex Records (now out of business) and in December of 1971, they dropped him – two weeks before Christmas.

However, through a strange set of circumstances (and without him knowing it) he developed a huge fan base in South Africa – including Segerman who decided he wanted to find out what had actually happened to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is Sixto Rodriguez, who still lives and works (construction) in Detroit. The documentary has resurrected his career as a musician.

Searching for Sugarman screened at the 2012 Starz Denver Film Festival.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lincoln - the movie, not the man - comes to 8 towns named Lincoln today.

Abraham Lincoln would be 204 years old today (he was a classic Aquarian). His birthday used to be a holiday, as was that of George Washington on February 22, but I guess two presidential birthdays/holidays in the same month was too much - forget that these were two of our greatest presidents – so now we just have the generic President’s Day.

Nonetheless, today is Lincoln’s birthday and that along with the impact of Stephen Spielberg’s film about the last few months of his life and the battle to ban slavery, means his profile has never been higher in modern times. In celebration of that, Spielberg, DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox and Participant Media are having special screenings today of Lincoln in 8 towns that bear his name. Interestingly, Lincoln, Nebraska is not one of them, though the film is still in theatres there. The towns are small towns that don’t have multiplexes for the most part and the opportunity to see the film is more limited.

In mid-March the film will be screened at 15 Lincoln high schools across the country in underserved areas. Lincoln high school in Denver is likely not one of them.

Moreover, when the film becomes available on home video DVDs of the film will be distributed, free of charge to all middle and high schools both public and private throughout the United States.

In a statement about the project, Spielberg said, “As more and more people began to see the film, we received letters from teachers asking if it could be available in their classrooms,” says Spielberg in a statement. “We realized that the educational value that Lincoln could have was not only for the adult audiences -- who have studied his life in history books -- but for the young students in the classroom as well.”

The screenings and DVD distribution are part of a social media campaign by Participant Media called Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln.

There has been a small controversy that has arisen over the film. You may know that Representative Joe Courtney, a four-term Congressman from Connecticut has asked Spielberg to make one change to the film before it comes out on DVD. He notes, correctly, that while two representatives from Connecticut are shown in the film as voting against the anti-slavery amendment, when in point of fact all of Connecticut’s representatives at the time voted in favor of the constitutional amendment to ban slavery.

The film’s screenwriter, Tony Kushner acknowledges that Courtney is correct, and that the film changed the historical record. He responded to Courtney with a statement: “Rep. Courtney is correct that the four members of the Connecticut delegation voted for the amendment. We changed two of the delegation’s votes, and we made up new names for the men casting those votes, so as not to ascribe any actions to actual persons who didn’t perform them.”

He went on to say, “In making changes to the voting sequence, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is. I hope nobody is shocked to learn that I also made up dialogue and imagined encounters and invented characters.”

I don’t expect Spielberg to make any changes to the film for its DVD release. I also don’t expect anyone to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, other than Daniel Day-Lewis, he really does bring Abraham Lincoln to life.

Oh, and the Lincoln towns where the movie is screening today are in Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and New Mexico.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Arts News Story that Isn't - The Blue Mustang

Imagine my surprise this morning, while listening to the TV news, to hear that I was part of a group considering moving or getting rid of the Blue Mustang at DIA. I was surprised because no such consideration is taking place. But hey, never let the facts get in the way of creating a news story where none exists.

I serve on the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs which is responsible for approving Public Art and also, when necessary or appropriate relocating or deaccessing Public Art. Despite recent, persistent and inaccurate news stories to the contrary there is no plan from DIA, or Arts and Venues Denver (the agency responsible for Public Art) or the Commission - nor is any process underway - to move or get rid of the Mustang.

The Mustang by Luis Jimenez was officially installed five years ago today. That anniversary is apparently what has prompted these specious stories.

The art work has been controversial and members of the public have often been quite vocal in their attitude toward the Mustang – some vehemently hating it and others as vehemently liking it. Over the years this has prompted some to call for its removal. In 2009 when there were calls to move the artwork the former director of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs (now part of Arts and Venues Denver) said that the city would not consider relocating the sculpture before 2013, when it will have been installed for five years. The “five year” threshold is mentioned in the city’s Public Art Policy. That policy reads:

“On rare occasions, unusual circumstances warrant the removal, relocation or disposal of a work of art from the City’s collection. The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs follows established procedures for deaccesssion or relocation to insure that the integrity of public art, artists, and the public is respected. Generally, artwork will not be removed from public display sooner than five years after its installation. A request for deaccession or relocation involves careful consideration of public opinion, professional judgment and legal advice.”

It is exceedingly rare for a public art piece to be moved or removed from the city’s collection. A long and comprehensive process is involved in acquiring and locating Public Art and a deaccession or move of a piece is not to be undertaken lightly an equally comprehensive process would be followed for any move or removal of a piece.

The Mustang is still there - Frankly, it has become as iconic to DIA as the signature roof of the terminal - there are no plans to move it or get rid of it; and there has been no formal requests for removal or relocation.

So, what you may be hearing is a news story that is not a story. But then, it is Sweeps Month for TV ratings.

Is the Argo juggernaut unstoppable?

The Ben Affleck film won best picture at the British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, Sunday. This coming on top of similar awards from the Producers Guild, Director’s Guild, Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes.

Will the Best Picture Oscar go to a film other than Argo? At this point it doesn’t seem likely.

The Academy Awards are only two weeks from now and voting got underway Friday: Argo’s awards momentum can impact Academy voters. More importantly the film has bested the other Oscar nominated films head to head.

It is one hell of a picture.

In addition to being named BAFTA’s Best Picture, Affleck won as Best Director and William Goldenberg won for editing (he was also nominated for the editing award for Zero Dark Thirty).

85-year old Emmanuelle Riva won in the Leading Actress category for Amour. The award is well deserved, she gives an amazing performance. However, her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant gives an equally moving performance and frankly deserves some awards recognition himself.

Riva has a legitimate shot at the Oscar as well.

The other nominees were Helen Mirren for Hitchcock, Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty and Marion Cottilard for Rust and Bone.

Amour also won Best Picture in the ‘Not in the English Language’ category. This also bodes well for its win for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. It is also nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, but as I said, it is difficult to see any winner other than Argo. I think it highly likely that Amour will take the Foreign Language Oscar.
It, too, is a hell of a picture.

Daniel Day-Lewis won the Leading Actor award. It was the only award Lincoln received from 10 nominations. The other nominees were Ben Affleck for Argo, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables and Joaquin Phoenix for The Master.

Anne Hathaway won Supporting Actress for Les Miserables and seems destined to win the Oscar as well. Also nominated were Amy Adams for The Master, Judi Dench for Skyfall, Sally Field for Lincoln and my personal choice and favorite Helen Hunt for The Sessions.

Christoph Waltz won the Supporting Actor award for Django Unchained. Also nominated were Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, Alan Arkin for Argo, Javier Bardem for Skyfall and Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln. I continue to believe that Jones will win the Oscar. He won the Screen Actors Guild Award and the actors branch is the largest voting memberhsip of the Academy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

No Butts, No Boobs, No Bareness – Not at the Grammys! No Causes, either.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, a memo the Grammys sent to performers and/or their representatives on Wednesday, reminds them to cover up for the show Sunday night.

Among other things it says: Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack.

Buttock crack?!

CBS is broadcasting the Grammys and understandably they are sensitive to any exposed skin that might be problematic. You may remember that they were fined over $500,000 by the FCC for Janet Jackson’s infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ at the 2004 Super Bowl. That fine was eventually overturned, but I am guessing CBS is still nervous.

Exposing all or part of one’s body in public is not new at public events. It started with Lady Godiva.
Then there is ‘streaking’ – running naked at a public venue. It has occurred at a variety of sporting events and famously at the 1974 Academy Awards when a young man ran naked across the stage flashing the peace sign. David Niven, on stage at the time, said "Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?" Believed at the time to be an ad lib, there is some evidence that the ‘streak’ was actually planned and the line had been prepared.

So, Beyonce, you can lip-sync, but make certain you keep all your flesh unexposed. Oh, and make certain that any cause you or any of your compatriots might be supporting is also not on display. “The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.”

Here is the full text of the memo:

CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.

Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure.

Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on T-shirts. Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST. This as well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera.

Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.

The Grammys are Sunday night 6pm Mountain Time, on CBS.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Food trucks, great art, a mild winter - Hey, it's McNichols in Denver

Looking for a food truck in Denver in the winter time? The McNichols Civic Center Building has the answer – and more.

If you work downtown or have a reason to be downtown or maybe you are visiting and want a taste of Denver’s vibrant food truck and cultural scene, then get thee to McNichols. Every Thursday during the lunch hour from now through May, food trucks will be parked and at your service on the Promenade in the park, near McNichols. But it gets better. When you have your victuals, you can venture into McNichols to partake of not only your lunch but the cultural and arts exhibits on display. And every third Thursday, you get jazz with artists from Denver’s Five Points Jazz Festival. The best part? Except for your food (there ain’t no free lunch, don’t you know), admission to McNichols, the art and the jazz are free.

For the last couple of years during the summer months, food trucks have been in the park at lunch time, Tuesdays and Thursdays. But with Denver’s mild winters there’s no reason to leave winter out.

So whether it’s sliders, burgers, Argentinean food, cupcakes, Asian cuisine or something else you will enjoy your visit to this wonderful park and building – try it today. Food trucks are there from 11am to 1pm.

For those who may visit from out of town or for those from the Denver area who may not know, McNichols reopened as public space last year.

Originally built as a Carnegie Library it was the first building to be constructed in the new Civic Center Park at the corner of 14th and Bannock. The Greek Revival building was dedicated in 1910. It ceased being Denver’s main library with the opening of the new Denver library in 1956.

Subsequently it served a variety of governmental purposes. In 1999, it was renamed the McNichols Building in honor of Colorado Governor Stephen McNichols. Unfortunately right after that renaming the building became vacant and remained so until 2010 when after some remodeling it opened briefly for the Biennial of the Americas. It again became vacant until 2012 when enough money was raised to finish the remodel and it opened again as an arts, cultural and public meeting space in November of that year.

A visit to McNichols (whether for lunch or otherwise) is rewarding. In addition to the building itself and its cultural exhibitions, there is the park. At the south end is the Greek Theatre, at the north, the Voorhies Memorial with it water feature and fountain. Connecting the two is the Promenade with the Bronco Buster and On the Trail statues nearby.

Great food, great art, a mild winter – hey, it’s Denver. Come and enjoy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Director's and Art Dirctor's Guild Awards

The big story coming out of the Director's Guild of America awards, Saturday night in Hollywood was Ben Affleck becoming only the third person in history to win the DGA but not get an Oscar nomination. When the Oscar nominations were announced last month I noted the curious fact that three directors of films considered to be contenders for the Best Picture Oscar did not receive Oscar nominations for their directors despite the fact that those directors had received DGA nominations. Ben Affleck was one of them.

Nonetheless, give all that has happened, including this DGA win for Affleck bodes well for Argo to be named Best Picture at the Oscars in a couple of weeks - the first since Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1990 without a director nomination (Bruce Beresford).

Malik Bedjelloul won for the documentary Searching For Sugarman. This picture too is getting a lot of awards and buzz.

Lena Dunham won for the television comedy series Girls, Rian Johnson won for the television drama series Breaking Bad, and Jay Roach won for the HBO movie Game Change.

The Art Director's Guild also had their awards ceremony Saturday night. I know because they were at the Beverly Hilton, where I was staying the same night for the SAG-AFTRA National Board meeting. Lot's of Tuxedos and other formal wear in the bar.

In case you are interested, here are the winners for Excellence in Production Design:

Period Film - Anna Karenina, Sarah Greenwood, Production Designer

Fantasy Film - Life of Pi, David Gropman Production Designer

Contemporary Film - Skyfall, Dennis Gassner Production Designer

Friday, February 1, 2013

Stand Up Guys - a lot of fun

Stand Up Guys, Which opens today in Denver is pure entertainment. There are under lying themes of family, friendship, love, loyalty and living by a code - whatever that code may be - but in the end this is laugh-out-loud funny and entertaining.

The film stars Al Pacino (can Pacino get any scruffier looking) as Val, Christopher Walken as Doc and Alan Arkin as Hirsch, three aging ‘bad guys’ who through a series of circumstances are reunited for a night of shoot-outs, robberies, car-theft, car-chases, debauchery (Pacino’s character consumes an entire bottle of Viagra, which a brothel madam calls ‘boner pills’) and Galahad-like chivalry.

These are three terrific actors - though I am happy to see Walken play a bit understated; his character is slow and quiet, instead of his often over the top performances. The three actors, who have never appeared together in a film, are what make this film so enjoyable.

Val has just been released from prison, after 28 years, for a crime he likely did not commit, but, as he says, he served his time and kept his mouth shut.

He is picked up outside the prison gate by his long-time friend, Doc, who it turns out is being pressured to kill Val. Doc has until 10 AM the following morning to accomplish this or suffer some very dire consequences. Will he? Won’t he? You have to get to the end of the picture to find out.

Val says he wants to party (he has been in prison for 28 years after all) and so they do, though Doc is a reluctant participant, often just a bystander.

There is a wonderful scene in a disco (do they still call those kind of clubs discos?) in which Pacino pays the DJ to play a slow song (“oh, one of those old time songs”) and persuades an attractive young woman to dance with him. It is so reminiscent of the tango scene in Scent of a Woman as Pacino (Val) gracefully swings the young woman out onto the dance floor.

The film evolves over the next few cinematic hours as Val and Doc hook up with Hirsch, their former getaway car driver, rescuing him from a nursing home. They make a return trip to the brothel, steal a car, get involved in a car chase (Hirsch still has his chops as a driver) confront some bad guys (not stand up guys at all) and save a woman.

The ending and some events that lead up to it are a bit contrived, some of the jokes are obvious and telegraphed but funny nonetheless and there is a some necessary willing suspension of disbelief with this film but don’t worry about making sense of it, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Stand Up Guys from Lionsgate, is directed by Fisher Stevens and written by Noah Haidle. It previously played in Denver at the Starz Denver Film Festival last November.