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December 02, 1999 - Image 45

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-12-02

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B - The Michigan Daily@ Weekend, etc. Magazine Thursday, December.2, 19

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The Mihia Daily - Weekend,

A-

Game
shows
revived
The Baltimore Sun
The blockbuster performance of
ABC's "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire" is altering the prime-time
landscape and shaking up network
strategy for the next important audi-
ence measurement in February and
beyond.
CBS Tuesday announced it will
launch a new quiz show, "Winning
Lines," in early January, while NBC
said it hopes to have its remake of "21"
on the air by February.
"In the vein of networks being copy-
cats, we're jumping on the quiz show
bandwagon like all our other competi-
tors," CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves
said Tuesday during a teleconference.
"I admit I probably wouldn't be
putting 'Winning Lines' on our sched-
ule if it wasn't for 'Millionaire,"'
Moonves said. "Look, ABC came into
sweeps pretty much out of it, and,
thanks to 'Millionaire,' wound up with
victory. I take my hat off to them."

"Winning Lines" is from the same
production company that makes
"Millionaire," Moonves added.
As for NBC, in addition to adding a
game show, the network also
announced a major shake-up in its
plans for February. After seeing
"Millionaire" knock off its
"Leprechauns" miniseries as well as
CBS' "Shake, Rattle and Roll," NBC
said Tuesday that it is pulling back
from the big-event, multi-night mini-
series that it has been relying on for
the last several years with such hits as
"Gulliver's Travels" and "Merlin."
While it is far too late to cancel
"10th Kingdom" - a collection of
ancient fairy tales and myths reworked
for TV by Robert Halmi Sr. - NBC
said it has rescheduled the miniseries
to start later in the month so that only
part of it will air during February
"sweeps."
Scott Sassa, NBC West Coast presi-
dent, said the decision was made in
response to "the shifting landscape in
taste and peoples' expectations in how
they want these movies to play out."
Translation: NBC is afraid ABC will
schedule "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire" opposite night one of
"10th Kingdom" in February and that
most people will watch "Who Wants to
Be a Millionaire" - leaving NBC
with four nights of sorry ratings as
"10th Kingdom" plays out.

Riding with the devil pays off

Indie label tempts local bands to meet, co

Los Angeles Tunes
HOLLYWOOD - Jeffrey Wright
credits one of his co-stars in Ang Lee's
Civil War epic, "Ride With the Devil;'
with helping him gain insight into his
character, Daniel Holt, a freed Southern
slave fighting for the Confederacy -
and it wasn't "Ride's" leads, Skeet Ulrich
or Tobey Maguire.
Instead, the help came from Bugs,
Wright's horse in the film.
"I think Holt related to his horse more
deeply than the people around him,"sug-
gests Wright in a recent interview in Los
Angeles. "There is a kind of silence and
a calmness that I derived from the horse
and a regality, not only from the horse,
but also from the horsemen who taught
us to ride.
"They were great horsemen and
taught us a lot about an old way of life
and real communication with the ani-
mal ."
Understanding an old and very differ-
ent way of life was key to the film and to
Wright's performance. In "Ride," which
will be released in time for the holiday
season, he portrays a former slave who is
genuine friends with the son of the man
who used to own him.
Wright, who made his film debut as
the lead in 1996's drama about the art
world, "Basquiat,"says that before mak-
ing "Ride" he knew there were Southern
slaves and freed blacks who fought for
the Confederacy.
"Some of the reasons why blacks went
into battle (on the side of the) South were
born of ignorance and subservience and
filled with real pathos."
Based on Daniel Woodrell's novel
"Woe to Live On," the film is about the
bloody guerrilla warfare between pro-
South "Bushwhackers" and pro-North
"Jayhawkers" along the Kansas-
Missouri border during the Civil War.
Joining up with the Bushwhackers are
Jake Roedel (Maguire), the son of a
German immigrant, and Jake's child-
hood friend, Jack Bull Chiles (Ulrich),
the son of a Missouri plantation owner.
Their unit includes the flamboyant
Southern gentleman George Clyde

By Jean Lee
Daily Arts Writer
The eclectic mix of rhythms float-
ed through the Michigan Union as
indie label Messenger Records
brought the "No One Gives a Damn
About Your Band" tour to Ann Arbor.
The goal was to support the local
music scene and offer student bands
a chance to prove how much they
"give a damn" about music. Since
October, the record label has been
spending two months away from
their New York office to tour 40 col-
lege campuses nationwide in support
of local music, giving advice to
musicians on how they can promote
themselves in a competitive com-
mercial industry.
"There are so many styles of
music, but there's a common thread
throughout all the bands - (the
feeling) that no one gives a damn
about their band," said Seth Unger of
Messenger Records, who was busy
handing out free CDs, T-shirts and
stickers to students.
"We did a bunch of grassroots
stuff and it worked so well for us, we
wanted to expand it nationally,"
Unger said, explaining how
Messenger started out of a Columbia
University dorm room. "A lot of
bands are worried about record deals
and we want to tell them that they
can do it DIY (do it yourself)."
In the spirit of self-promotion,
Ann Arbor bands Bambu, Aunt
Ralph's Recipe, Meropoix, the Velvet
Beat and the Bottle Prophets had an
hour each to show off their different
styles to audience members and reg-
ister for the demo deal contest
Messenger is sponsoring.
The most talented band the nation-
al tour unearths will receive a studio
session to record and mix a demo
with the label. The tour, which is
being covered by MTV via the
Internet, also has a web page where
bands can find out more about enter-
ing the demo deal contest
(www.noonegives.com).
"Bands have to know, it's not over

when you get a deal - you have to
really promote yourself," Unger said,
adding that the demo deal is "just our
way of saying thanks" for coming
out and supporting the tour. Self-pro-
motion is especially difficult for stu-
dent bands, since most are only
together for the usual four years
before graduation.
"The crux of
what we're doing
is initiative - to
get out there and
listen to music,
sup port your local
scene"
--Seth Unger
Messenger Records
"It's really up to students to create
their own following," said LSA
senior Troy Mamas, the upbeat
drummer for the Velvet Beat. Like
most of the bands at the event, the
Beat pursues a fusion of styles,
describing their sound as upbeat
retro-rock/hip-hop. "During that
span (of four years), it's really diffi-
cult to build a loyal following."
"The crux of what we're doing is
initiative - to get out there and lis-
ten to music, support your local
scene;' Unger said. Although that
may sound like a common belief for
all dedicated musicians, the "No One
Gives a Damn 'About Your Band"
tour is the first of its kind - going on
the road without a big-seller band,
purely promoting local bands in the
areas the label stops in.
"No record label has ever done this
before. The response has been phe-
nomenal for the first time;' Unger
said.
"It's unique for them to come see

what we're doing," said School of
Music senior Rick Cowal,
vocalist/guitarist for the funk, rock
and hip-hop blend of his band, Aunt
Ralph's Recipe. Other musicians at
the event commended Messenger's
efforts to launch such a tour in sup-
port of college bands, many saying
there should be more events like this
to promote local music.
"Only a good handful of music-
oriented people actually go out to
hear live music. Most people just lis-
ten to CDs," said Eastern Michigan
senior Nancy Ramadan, who was
dancing in support of her roommate's
band.
"The big business can be very
competitive. There's a lot of talent-
we wanted to do some positive rein-
forcement," Unger said, adding that
Messenger picked tour sponsors who
have the same ethic of supporting
music and students alike, such as
Edu.com and the Internet
Underground Music Archive
(iuma.com). Tour sponsors have col-
laborated to give promos to students
at all the concerts during this two-
month period.
Organized by UAC, the Pierpont
Commons Program Board and the
Michigan Union Program Board, the
Messenger stop in Ann Arbor had a
small but dedicated response for a
Sunday night, with audience num-
bers ranging from 25 to 60 students
throughout the five-hour event in the
Union. Students sat around munch-
ing on the table full of snacks, going
through plastic bags loaded with free
stuff, while others danced to the dif-
ferent bands.
The five participating bands pro-
vided a variety of styles, they ranged
from the mellow pop vocals of the
Bottle Prophets to the funk instru-
mentals of Meropoix.
"We're here to hear music that's
different from us," said Meropoix
guitarist and LSA junior Dave Lott,
adding how he doesn't sense much
competition in the Ann Arbor scene.
"When we didn't have a bass player,

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Jeffrey Writ, Tobey Maguire and Jewel star in the holiday drma "Ride with the Devil."

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(Simon Baker) and his loyal former
slave (Wright).'
Wright points out that the relationship
of white Southerners to blacks was -
and remains - complex. "To kind of
demonize the South and kind of lionize
the North is simplistic, I think" Wright
said. "The history is much more com-
plex than we had been led to believe."
At the outset of "Ride" Clyde and
Holt are loyal friends. "They grew up
together and were friends as kids,"
.Wright explains. "But what Holt grows
to realize throughout the course of the
movie is that it is still a political relation-
ship of master-slave"
In fact, Holt discovers he has much
more in common with Maguire's Jake
"because it is a class relationship. At the
time, the poor whites and the poor blacks
had more in common than they were led
to believe."
"Ride" producer and screenwriter

James Schamus points out that many
Southern white and black children grew
up together before the Civil War. "Then
at a certain point, the brutality of the sys-
tem intervened," he says.
The Australian Baker, who plays
Clyde, knew little about U.S. history, let
alone the Civil War, before making
"Ride." He says that Wright helped him
to understand the history of this tragic
time.
"We spent a lot of time going out and
sharing a drink and chatting," Baker
says.
"Jeffrey was very helpful with the
understanding of what independence
meant to a Southern slave and the feeling
of what they went through."
Wright manages to convey Holt's
inner thoughts with very little dialogue.
Relying on body language for the first
half ofthe film, his walk is nothing more
than a sad shuffle. With his head down,
Holt holds himself like a man still in
shackles. But as his friendship with
Clyde begins to drift away and he bonds
with Jake, Holt is transformed into an
emancipated, free-thinking individual.
"For the first half of the movie he has
been silenced," Schamus says of
Wright's character. "Then he rises to
speech and has the power to say things,
the freedom to say things"
Wright, adds Schamus, is a true schol-
ar. "He came to this part with an enor-
mous amount of historical understand-
ing on how his character would have
spoken," he says. "We began intensively
to craft the vocal performance. There are
really substantial things he brought to
the process."
Taiwanese director Lee was able to
identify with Jake and Holt and to tell
the story from the outsiders' point of
view, Wright believes.
"That is why he is able to tell a clear
story, because he steps into it free of his
blinders and sees it with human eyes,
says Wright. "Therefore, he humanizes it
and lets the events in the film take on a
life.'

SOYINKA
Continued from Page 4B
has been a touchstone for much of
his ensuing work and remained one
of the most famous things about
him.
The quick fix Ann Arbor will
receive however, is nothing unusual
for Soyinka, who just finished a
lengthy journey through Europe and
Africa that was considerably more
business than pleasure, according to
Twiss.
The impetus behind the
University's eventual success in
booking Soyinka is the author's
friendship with Prof. Lorna
Goodison, a lecturer and creative
writing instructor for the English
Department.
Prof. Goodison is on the Creative
Writing Board, which decides which
literary figures to invite for its
Visiting Writers Series and other
events, usually at Rackham. But
finalizing Soyinka's appearance was

much more complicated than the ini-
tial slam-dunk of approving his invi-
tation.
Soyinka was validated on a global
stage with the honor of the 1986
Nobel Prize for Literature. But he
had long before been considered one
of the most accomplished artists
working, winning acclaim and
trnaslations into dozens of lan-
guages for his work as a novelist,
playwright, poet, memoirist, and
essayist. As a result, nobody at thz
English Department is quite sure
what Soyinka will read to the
Rackham crowd tonight. His varie-
gated body of work and recurrent
immersion in new projects make it a
potentially demanding decision for
Soyinka.
Soyinka initially rose to promi-
nence with "The Man Died," a mem-
oir of his years of imprisonment. He
has been perhaps most vital as a
playwright; his tragic drama "Death
and the King's Horseman" is consid-
ered by some to loom as his master-

piece.
While Soyinka now holds a pro-
fessorial position at Emory
University in Atlanta, he is kept
busy lecturing at other universities
worldwide, accepting bushels of lit-
erary and civic awards and directing
and helping to produce his own and
other plays. Almost a dozen other
universties in Africa, Europe and the
United States have employed
Soyinka over the course of his
career.
Although he was educated in
Leeds, England and writes primarily
in English, Soyinka's work is deeply
conscious of African influence. He
utilizes African idioms and mytholo-
gy but also remains conscious of
contemporary African concerns. He
works towards humanitarian causes
and self-sufficiency of African
nations. However, he has also writ-
ten two recent books of nonfiction
about the troubled state of his home-
land, Nigeria, and its agonized rela-
tionship with the West.

Messenger Records' 'B
artists - similar to thc
all the bands we knew,
one,' Lott said.
"There's really no
Arbor. Bands are eith
worlds, or we all get
Monti Arnold (a.k.a.
vocalist of the jazz a
band Bambu. "It's a
phere - we complime
We hear each other's
from it," Arnold saii
how one can't reall
many different bands
their own style.
However, many fee
to the good rapport an
Ann Arbor music sc
much support and am
Blind Pig being one o
bands can play.
"The Ann Arbor
small. Only bands wh
to be
diffic
Dollar Bill provides ful
Shipping materials are

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