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January 13, 2011 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-01-13

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4B - Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4B - Thursday, January 13, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

'NETWORK' (1976), MGM
Clairvoyance from the '70s

From Page 3B

Daily Arts Writer
Would you believe that a mere
12 years after "Dr. Strangelove,"
a welcome addition to the film
canon would rise to the occasion
of challenging the dominant satire
of Kubrick's masterpiece? Sidney
Lumet's "Network" has received
countless accolades, including an
induction into the National Film
Registry, four Golden Globes, four
Academy Awards, and the 64th
position on AFI's list of the top
100 films of the last century. But
in spite of the film's critical rec-
ognition, chances are you've never
seen it.
The film begins with a tense
discussion between executives at
the fictional UBS television net-
work and news anchor Howard
Beale (Peter Fincher, "Sunday
Bloody Sunday"), during which
Beale is informed that he'll be
fired within the next two weeks
due to his show's poor ratings.
Upon receiving this troubling
news, Beale has a nervous break-
down and announces that he'll be
committing suicide on live televi-
sion. When a subsequent series of
outrageous events and mad rants
by Beale brings him and UBS
unprecedented popularity, he's
given his own prophetic talk show
segment and coins his trademark
phrase of aimless rebellion: "I'm
as mad as hell, and I'm not going
to take this anymore!"
The screenplay is airtight and
the characterizations are spot-on
- there's enough subtlety in its
political and social commentary
to engage us intellectually, but
there's not so much abstraction
as to encumber it with the hazy
intent of so many art films.
For example, the politics of the

show are all too evident in the
relationship between madman
Beale and his superiors. A wide
viewer base of everyday Ameri-
cans is enthralled with Beale's
antics - antics that give an illu-
sion of the rebellion that they've
long awaited to turn their worlds
upside down and endow their lives
with more drama, excitement and,
ultimately, purpose.
What's ironic about this whole
facade of revolution is that at the
end of the day, Beale is still sub-
ordinate to the whims of the net-
work executives at UBS. Like a
raving child, he is constantly scru-
tinized by his overseers. His free-
spirited diatribes are brought to
a shuddering halt after a dark-lit
meeting with the network chair-
man - leaving no question as to
who's the boss of whom, and end-
ing with Beale's ominous observa-
tion: "I have seen the face of God."
If an unforgiving look at the
omnipotence of corporate Amer-
"I'm as mad
as hell, and I'm
not going to take
this anymore!"
ica isn't enough to whet your
appetite for scandal, there's also
the melodrama of a heated affair.
Diana Christensen (Faye Dun-
away, "Chinatown"), a producer
at UBS, gets entangled with Max
Schumacher (William Holden,
"The Wild Bunch"), president
of UBS's News division. After
a tumultuous relationship that
leads Schumacher to leave his

I'll have to pay shipping on
a package I'll likely be return-
ing anyway come next week,
because nothing looks like the
pictures andI didn't have the
benefit of a store in which to try
on my choices.
Granted, I've had some great
successes with ModCloth, as
well as Zappos and Endless for
shoes, and once, tights from
fredflare.com. Between bus
delays and a hectic student life,
it's nearly impossible for me to
make it to Briarwood, and when
I'm home for break, I'm too busy
sleeping and eating food that
doesn't say Kraft on it to go to
the mall. To be honest, my real-
world interactions with clothing
stores are few and far between.
The Internet, as it is prone to do,
broadens my horizons, allow-
ing me access to designs I would
never encounter otherwise.
And yet, the Internet's inher-
ent lack of physicality makes ita
pretty counterintuitive shopping
ground, and for good reason. I've
heard rumors that the photos of
ModCloth's outfits are tailored
(pun intended), and I can attest
that the outfitsI carefully pluck
from their packages generally
have a cheaper look and feel than
I would have imagined from
their online appearances. When
all is said and done, I'm more
often than not disappointed with

my Internet-bought outfits, and
my ModCloth "order history"
tab currently lists four returns
in a row.
So what's the answer? Is my
Internet addiction OK? Online
shopping has opened my eyes to
new brands, designs and styles.
No, I can't possibly eliminate it
from my shopping repertoire.
But it's simply not worth the cost
- in either money or clothing
quality - that I'm currently put-
ting into it.
As I retype that familiar URL
into my browser and watch
ModCloth's comfortable faded
colors load on the screen,I make
this solemn vow: No longer will
I blindly buy the contents of
that virtual shopping cart. Iwill
understand that the Internet is
a toolto help me know what's
out there in the wide world of
clothes, but that the actual hit-
ting of the "checkout" button
must be reserved for the most
obscure of garments, the perfect
pieces thatI absolutely can't
find anyplace real. Online shop-
ping can no longer be my drug
of choice - it can only exist as a
diagnostic tool to help me find
my real-life wardrobe prescrip-
Jacobs is looking for her next trip.
To recommend your favorite brand,
e-mail her at shacobs@umich.edu.


'Network' predicted consumer dependency on corporate media.

wife, Schumacher realizes he's
made a grave mistake and that his
dalliance with Christensen has no
potential for love - she is inca-
pable of feeling, and talks only of
business, even during sex. His last
words to her are unforgettable:
"You are madness, Diana, viru-
lent madness, and everything you
touch dies with you. Well, not me.
Not whileI can still feel pleasure
and pain and love."
Some critics lambasted the film
for its preachy attitude by noting
there isn't a single character that
isn't featured in some long-wind-
ed tirade. But what a simplistic
approach to criticism! Does the
constant presence of dinosaurs
preclude "Jurassic Park" from
greatness, or the recurrence of
gunfire in "Saving Private Ryan?"
Motifs and themes in a film are
essential to the conveyance of
a deeper meaning, and the fact

that the brand of satire found in
"Network" relies on the theme
of prophecy doesn't diminish its
greatness (or even its watchabil-
ity) in the least.
"Network" is just as important
to today's college students as it
was to film enthusiasts of the
'70s - in some ways even more
so. It specifically points out the
problems that face a generation
raised by television through the
relationship between the elder-
ly Schumacher and the young
Christensen. It highlights the gap
between an era of thinking, feel-
ing individuals and one in which
preprogrammed imagery does all
the thinking and feeling for us -
so much so, in fact, that the whole
gamut of human emotion feels cli-
ched and overused, and we're no
more cognizant of our bondage to
corporate sensibilities than caged

From Page 3B

jam-packed clubs and played for
Ann Arbor citizens of all ages at
the outdoor summer festival Top
of the Park, he had one of-his best
DJing experiences to date.
"There was this one guy - he
kept saying, 'Hey man, play some-
thing I can groove to,' " Masters
said. "I thought I was playing
something perfectly grooveable,

but then I played this song at the
very end. I didn't think anyone
would recognize it ... but this guy
knew every single word to it, and
he was so pumped up."
Ultimately, that's what
MEDMA is all about - exposing
as many people as possible to elec-
tronic music and finding some-
thing "grooveable" for everyone.

From Page 1B
'Brigadoon,' or 'Carousel' - but
also to be up to date and be com-
fortable if they're auditioning for
'Next to Normal' or 'The Addams
Family' so that they understand
where the field has come from and
what's happeningtoday."
The University is also keen on
following and sensing popular
trends as they are manifested in
the musical theater world. Accord-
ing to Creel, understanding both
the past and present of musical
theater is important.
"WhenI was there, there wasn't
as much of a pressure to be good at
pop and contemporary styles," he
said. "Now they're becoming way
more savvy, because that's the way
the world is going."
Participation in the Senior
Showcase is another Musical The-
atre event that helps prepare stu-
dents for a career in the spotlight.
Each year, the Musical Theatre
seniors travel to New York City to
perform for agents, directors and
casting directors to demonstrate
their talent. For many, the end-of-
the-year performance is a way to
jumpstart their careers. Students
must make every second of their
Showcase count. In Creel's year,
the Senior Showcase lasted less
than 45 minutes and included pre-
sentations from all 22 students in
his class.
"We sang about a 45-second
song, and there were a bunch of
casting directors and agents and
things like that," Creel said. "We
found out if people were interest-
ed in talking to us further, and the
next thing you know, I took a lot
of meetings and I was one of the
lucky ones who got an agent from
Jenni Barber, a 2005 gradu-
ate who is starring in "The 25th
Annual Putnam County Spelling

Bee" on Broadway - a role she's
had since 2007- also has a iot to
thank the Showcase for.
"(My career) definitely start-
ed off with the Musical Theatre
Showcase out in New York," Bar-
ber said. "(It) certainly helped me
get representation and introduced
me to the casting world."
In addition to being in national
and international tours of many
different Broadway shows, Bar-
ber is now preparing to audition
for the TV show "Hawaii Five-O"
and has been in working with new
playwrights and directors along
the way.
Maize and Blue on the
Great White Way
once seniors have performed in
the Showcase in New York, they
move onto the next part of their
journey to stardom - landing a
job. It often requires a blood-and-
sweat summer in New York City,
but the graduates feel prepared,
Burton assured.
"We've got a lot ready, we're
put together, we know how to
approach an audition scenario," he
Once there, the former students
audition and compete for the lim-
ited number of industry jobs in the
Big Apple. Whether it be Broad-
way, a regional theater, a national
tour, an off-Broadway production,
a TV show or a film, spots are
severely restricted.
However, Michigan students
have a certain advantage over
other talented young people who
are auditioning for the same jobs.
Because many casting directors
and agents view the University's
program as one of the best in the
world, they can sometimes imme-
diately tell when they're seeing an
alum audition.
"Apparently, you can kind of tell
when a Michigan graduate walks
through the door because of how


they carry themselves and you
can tell that they're comfortable
with themselves," musical theatre
senior Andy Jones said.
Another benefit of the Musical
Theatre Department is the long
list of alumni that graduates can
use as stepping stones for their
"Michigan is everywhere in
New York," musical theatre senior
Sean McKnight said.
McKnight, the self-proclaimed
"longest-running Michigan
senior," has been in the Univer-
sity's program for the past 16 years
and is already an established
dancer and choreographer. He
explained there are even certain
bars that University alumni resid-
ing in New York go to watch the
games on Football Saturdays.
Oftentimes, the intimate com-
munity of the Musical Theatre
Department is regarded as a fam-
ily, but Jones describes it another
"There's this term, as we joke,
'The Michigan Mafia,' " he con-
tinued. "When you leave for New
York, there's this common bond of
Michigan experience. And that's
not just some little phrase that
people throw around,"
It's a feeling Creel noted when
first applying to musical theater
programs in high school.
"The schoolsI went to, for what-
ever reason, I thought like, 'Those
people are over there,' and when I
was at Michigan I thought, 'These
people are my people,' "he said.
Graduates come out of the pro-
gram with confidence and a com-
petitive edge, but still remain
grounded, Wagner said - adding
that one of the goals of the pro-
gram is to give students the con-
fidence to perform at their best,
while keeping the competition
outside of the classroom.
"When they get to New York,

it will be plenty competitive. But
I don't think there's a place for
that at the school," he said. "So
that's one thing that Michigan has
a reputation for. That's something
really important to me that we
continue to maintain."
Singing and dancing in
the city that never sleeps
As students move to New York
and find their ways into jobs, they
often recognize how hectic and
busy their new lifestyle is com-
pared to the one they enjoyed
within the University bubble. Bar-
ber elaborated on the whirlwind of
a life she leads.
"You're freelance - it's like any
kind of freelance work. You just
go where the job is and it changes,
which makes it really exciting,
but you kind of have to be on top
of it - the day changes often," she
Though chaotic and confusing,
the students are pursuing their
passion. They love what they do.
They are aware of the competitive
and cutthroat nature of the busi-
ness - but there is no business like
show business. A performer may
audition five or six times for the
same role and still never land it.
There are high points in the indus-
try, but there are also some lows.
"You can't give up." McKnight
explained. "It's a brutal industry.
If you don't love it, you won't sur-
vive it."
But the University has-produced
many success stories. Students
who graduate from the Musical
Theatre Department have gone on
to land Tony-nominations, star-
ring spots on Broadway, film and
television roles and other highly
regarded accomplishments. Many
students even get jobs right after
the Showcase.
"Pretty much everyone in my

Each year, the University's Musical Theatre Department accepts approximately
three percent of its applicants.

class is working either nation-
ally or internationally on tour or
at a regional theater," said Robert
Hartwell, a 2009 graduate who is
currently in "Memphis" on Broad-
way. "No one's, like, scrubbing
tables right now."
To Broadway and
back again
The Musical Theatre Depart-
ment has made such an impact on
its students' lives that the gradu-
ates often come back to give guest
lectures or become teachers -
sometimes even while still a stu-
McKnight teaches at MPulse
Summer Performing Arts Camp
- a selective three-week summer
program the helps prospective
high school juniors and seniors get
a feel for how the School of Music,
Theatre & Dance works and what
it has to offer.
Creel, who is currently doing

some teaching in New York, said
he would also eventually like to
come back to the University to
"I'm looking forward to recon-
necting with the school and
stomping around Ann Arbor. It
would be a dream to come back
and teach someday," he said. "I'm
not going to do that yet, but I love
Ann Arbor and I love the program
and I love what it's about."
The rise to fame is a difficult
process, but with the support of
the University, a push from some
friends and the backbone of a huge
alumni network, everything can
fall into place. Graduates follow
their passion - whether that be
choreographing a dance routine in
a musical, reciting lines for a TV
show or accepting Tony awards
left and right. And they do so
while knowing all the time that it
was hard workat their alma mater
that helped thrust them into the

Talent agents can sometimes recognize 'U' alums from their onstage confidence.

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