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December 05, 2001 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-12-05

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Hard-edged drama...
Check out Ann Arbor native David
Goyer's debut film "Zigzag" tonight at
the Michigan Theater. 7 p.m. $6.25 for


michigandaily.com /arts

DECEMBER 5, 2001


Sit down comedian
interviews audience

Kirov Orchestra
brings finesse to
Hill this weekend

By Jim Schiff
Fine/PerformingArts Editor
He's been called "the WASP Woody Allen,"
,"the sit down comedian" and a host of other

Michigan Theater
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

names, but Spalding Gray
isn't one to label himself. The
59-year-old show biz veteran,
author of 18 monologues and
star of such movies as "The
Killing Fields," prefers to let
his fans characterize his off-
beat humor. Tomorrow night,
Gray will turn the spotlight
away from himself and onto
the audience with his touring
show, "Interviewing the
Audience." Four lucky indi-
viduals will join him on stage
in what is sure to be a night
of hilarious anecdotes and

way in my monologues,"
said Gray. "I do spin-
offs. They are like comic
lectures in a way."
The intuitiveness and
wit that Gray brings to
his work transfers over
to "Interviewing the
Audience." Before each.
show, Gray goes into the
lobby and spends about
30 minutes chatting with
audience members. He The WASPy Woody speaks'
writes 15 names on sep-
arate cards and then draws four from the pile. But
Gray doesn't pick just anybody - he seeks out
people who look like they have something inter-
esting to say, whether they are nine or 79-years-
old. "I just look for a person who's responsive
but not overly desirous to expose themselves," he
said. "Someone that can have a good conversa-
tion, a public conversation."
It is the public nature of "Interviewing the
Audience" that causes the audience to empathize
with the person on stage. Gray's curiosity of the
human experience probes him into a variety of
lives, making him quite the therapist. He often
begins his interviews with questions such as
"What did you do today?" or "Who drove you to
the theater?" Sometimes such questions will lead
into deeper stories, complete with the funny
anecdotes that Gray looks forward to hearing.
"A response always generates another ques-
tion," he said. "It's endless if the person is open
in a relatively honest way, and a creative way in

By Archana Ravi
For the Daily

Artists in the Kirov Orchestra have
a lot of incentive to devote their lives
to the Mariinsky Company. Aside

Courtesy of Major Events Office

with a young audience member.

touching moments.
Gray's career success has allowed him to work
in several mediums. He used his experience from
working on "The Killing Fields" to develop a
four-hour monologue, which was later adapted
into the 1987 Jonathan Demme film, "Swimming
to Cambodia." He's toured across the United
States, Europe and Australia with his mono-
logues, the latest of which is called "It's a Slip-
pery Slope." Gray recently finished "How High,"
a film about two rappers who go to Harvard.
Ironically, he portrays an African American stud-
ies professor who feels guilty about being white.
"It's kind of like a mad professor, and I work that

the sense that they spell out the details."
Though most of Gray's interviews generate
funny snapshots of life, some carry a more seri-
ous tone. A few years ago, he interviewed a
woman whose daughter was murdered. Though
the town had heard of it on the news, few had
met the mother. At the end of the show, the audi-
ence cheered in a standing ovation for the
woman. "It was a healing piece for her - it was
just an incredible experience," Gray said. "And I
just tried to act as a facilitator and a guide
through her story."
More than anything, Gray looks for a humble-
ness and a sense of irony in his interviewees.
While some might liken "Interviewing the Audi-
ence" to a talk show, Gray believes the absence
of television cameras makes for a more open for-
mat. "Unlike talk shows, it's not planned - it's
serendipitous," he said. "Coincidences are
remarkable because it's always in real time. It's

from recordings,
Hill Auditorium
Tonight at 8 p.m.

videos, coaching,
exposure on
tours and the
solidarity of the
group, members
of Kirov are
most swayed by
the experience of
making music
with their con-
ductor, Valery
Gergiev. As a
result, over the
years, the Kirov
Orchestra has

Unoriginal plot, stale lead cast makes

T To
By Melissa Gollob
Daily Arts Writer
With the holiday season upon us,
the influx of Christmas movies and
specials has begun. TNT adds to the
extensive list this year with its orig-
inal movie "Call Me Claus." Star-
ring Whoopi Goldberg, "Call Me


'Call Me Claus' a flop

Call Me
Saturday at 12 p.m.

Claus" searches
for the Christ-
mas spirit in a
cynical world.
And in the true
spirit of con-
glomerates, the
movie will be
offered on home
video starting
Dec. 11.
"Call Me
Claus" begins in
1965 with an
can family deal-

The young girl named Lucy
Cullins (Goldberg, "Hollywood
Squares") grows up to be a cranky,
Scrooge-like woman working as a
producer for an underdog home
shopping network called Shop-A-
Lot. Meanwhile the real St.
Nicholas' (Sir Nigel Hawthorne,
"The Madness of King George")
two hundred year term is ending
and he must now search for his
replacement. The last person on his
list (which he checked twice, of
course) is Lucy, but she isn't con-
vinced that she holds something
special inside her to make all chil-
dren smile.

Although this new movie has
laugh-out-loud comedic elements,
the plot is just not original. Take
Tim Allen putting on Santa's suit
from "The Santa Clause" and
replace it with Whoopi Goldberg
putting on a glowing hat, and you
pretty much have the same movie
with a different title. The only
notiecable difference between the
two is that Santa is a main character
in "Call Me Claus." In "The Santa
Clause," he fell off the roof , thus
ending his role in the film.
The major strength of the movie
is its supporting cast. Victor Garber
("Alias") plays Lucy's mild man-
nered assistant Taylor, while Taylor
Negron ("Stuart Little") portrays
the freakish, regular-sized, head elf
Ralph. These two actors play
straight-faced in most scenes, but
without their talent, Whoopi and
others would not appear as amusing
as they do.
The design of Santa's workshop
does not stray away from the many
previous versions except for an
emphasis on its modernization. The
elves no longer use tools and wood.
Instead they work on assembly lines
and use a factory model to produce
all the toys needed in the world.
The colors of the workshop are
bright and cheerful to contrast the
gray daily life in the real world. The
unfortunate part is that most of the

assembled and
retained some of the most talented
musicians in the world.
The Kirov ensemble will display
their collective talent conducted by
the highly acclaimed Gergiev and
accompanied by prodigal pianist
Alexander Toradze tonight at Hill
Since its inception in the 18th cen-
tury, Kirov, the resident orchestra of
the Russian company Mariinsky, has
remained one of the world's leading
orchestras. In 1988, Gergiev was
appointed artistic director of the com-
pany, and soon after, the Kirov
orchestra developed strong interna-
tional ties with some of the greatest
opera houses.
Prior to Gergiev, the orchestra sole-
ly performed Russian music and dis-
regarded international repertoire.
Currently, the orchestra tours China,
Europe, Japan and every two years,
the United States. It maintains strong
ties with such great opera houses as
London's Royal Opera House, Paris
Opera de la Bastille and the Metro-
politan Opera.
Gergiev, Principal Conductor of the
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
and Principal Guest Conductor of the
Metropolitan Opera, has received
some of the most distinguished hon-
ors for his work with the Kirov
Orchestra, including Conductor of the
Year Award given by Musical Ameri-
ca and 'Musician of the Year' at the
Classical Music Awards in London.
New Fain
better thai
By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Editor
"Brian's Song"- the original, not the
recently-aired, substandard remake -
has long been considered the ultimate
male weeper, a flick where even (espe-
cially) the guy with the highest octane
testosterone must purchase a box of tis-

Courtesy of Joost vamVelsen
Conductor Valery Gergiev.
Concerning a previous perfor-
mance, New York Newsday said,
"artistic director and chief conductor
Valery Gergiev drew brilliant and
stylish playing from the Kirov
Orchestra. Gergiev's conducting was
linear and poetic ..." An account by
the The Village Voice found that
"Gergiev roused his orchestra to the
fulminating heights of Tchaikovsky's
finest operatic score ..."
Pianist Alexander Toradze, a virtu-
oso performer, will accompany
Gergiev and the Kirov Orchestra
tonight. Toradze is known for his
intensity at the keyboard, as well as
his thoughtful interpretations of
Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. The Dal-
las Morning News stated that Mr.
Toradze "doesn't merely play these
scores with all the force, wit and
imagination the music demands. He
endows each with a sharp profile, and
he ferrets out the colors, accents and
suggestions in the music that other
pianists overlook or never discover."
Long time friends, Gergiev and
Toradze carry their off stage chem-
istry on stage and intensify it in a
musical context. Toradze's range and
command of the piano along with
Gergiev's podium talent lead the
orchestra towards musical perfection.
This performance marks the UMS
debut of Toradze, as well as the third
performance of the Kirov Orchestra
and Gergiev (with previous perfor-
mances in 1992 and 1998).
Tonight's program will include*
Debussy's "La Mer" (1904),
Prokofiev's "Piano Concerto No. 2 in g
minor" (1913-14) and Tchaikovsky's
"Symphony No. 5 in e minor, Op. 64"
n origi nal

ing with its patriarch off fighting in
Vietnam. The young girl asks Santa
to bring her father home for Christ-
mas. Instead, her mother receives
word from the government that he
has been killed in action. It appears
as though Christmas will be an
unhappy occasion. However, after
Santa places his hat on the young
girl the hat begins to glow, signify-
ing she has the true Christmas spir-

C.ourtesy ofTNT
Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber
demonstrate their desperation for work.
movie takes place in the real world
and not in the fantasy of Santa's
In an interesting career turn,
Garth Brooks returns with three
original songs for the movie,
including a remake of Louis Arm-
strong's Christmas classic "'Zat
You, Santa Claus?" The renditions
do not sound too country, but they
lack emotion an essential part of
Christmas music.
Overall, "Call Me Clause" fails to
display any originality while stray-
ing too far from comedy.

Courtesy of TNT

Sir Nigel (left), why?

Cheer on yourl

Famous: The

sues before
Cameron Crowe's
"Almost Famous"
has the same
effect on an even
iciertbreed, the
pop critic.
When it was


InformationalM n

For Undergraduate Summer 2002
Research Fellowship Opportunities

released to much fanfare and few ticket-
buyers last year, Crowe's rock odyssey
became the ultimate conundrum: One of
the year's best films that no one saw. In
the wake of critical acclaim and a Best
Original Screenplay (which is included
on the first disc Oscar for Crowe,
Dreamworks wasted no time releasing
the film on a bare-bones DVD. Dream-
works knew full well Crowe was plan-
ning on releasing another version after
completing this month's "Vanilla Sky."
Shame on them.
That said, any fan of the film should
run to the used-DVD store and sell their
old copy before the market gets saturat-
ed, and put the money toward the
"Director's Edition Almost
Famous/Untitled: The Bootleg Cut." The
double disc set contains the original the-
atrical version on one disc and the spe-
cial "Untitled" version on the other.
The movie chronicles the tale of 15-
year-old William Miller and his first
major writing assignment, covering up-
and-coming rock hand Stillwater for

"Untitled," Crowe's studio-shot-dow-
original title for the film, contains over
35 minutes of new footage. Flawlessly ;
intergrated, the casual viewer will not be
able to spot where new footage, mostly
beefed up character development, has
been inserted.
Also included are behind-the-scenes
footage, deleted scenes, bios, trailers
and all of the usual goodies expected on
a major DVD of this sort. Crowe's com-
mentary with his own mother, the inspi-
ration for Frances McDormand's
(William's mom) character in the film.
An interview with the incomparable
Lester Bangs, played by the imcompara-
ble Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film,
is the most unexpected and exciting fea-
ture on the disc. Even Crowe's nearly-
vain touches, such as putting his own
Rolling Stone articles and his own top
10 favorite albums from 1973 on the
first disc, are endearing and add to the
understanding of the semi-autobio-
graphical film.
Stillwater themselves make ans


Thursday, December 6th
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
MLB, Auditorium 4
For UM-Ann Arbor

undergraduates interested
in a full-time paid research

I , I W - j W, i inuIIL rLJsA%.L..c uivic 1

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