The songs that have been on my mind the most this week:
- “Romeo and Juliet,” Dire Straits, from the 1980 album “Making Movies.”
- “Love Story,” Taylor Swift, from her 2008 album “Fearless.”
Maybe I’m just in a romantic mood this week, or maybe I’ve just got a penchant for Shakespearean tragedy. But I’ve had these two very different musical takes on the Bard’s most famous play alternately running through my head.
With its arpeggiated guitar opener, delicately intricate instrumentation and Mark Knopfler’s distinctive vocal delivery, Dire Strait’s melancholy “Romeo and Juliet” has become a classic rock ballad. It’s been covered by several artists, including The Killers, Indigo Girls and Edwin McCain. It also has been featured in many movies, though it always reminds me of the 1995 comedy-drama “Empire Records,” which boasts a strong ’90s soundtrack.
Teenage country-pop singer-songwriter Taylor Swift takes a much more unabashedly romantic approach in her hit “Love Story,” which has a happy ending. This is a song that has slowly grown on me. Initially, it was too syrupy for me – and honestly, it still comes across as extremely happy-happy – but I eventually warmed to the teenage optimism and the lovely instrumentation, particularly the soaring fiddle.
Of course, these aren’t the only popular songs to gain inspiration from Shakespeare’s well-known play, but they do offer contrasting views of his age-old story of star-crossed love.
Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” is the big film release this week.
Well, the summer movie season definitely is winding down. In this week’s entertainment podcast, George Lang and I attempt to run down the movies opening in Oklahoma City theaters. But pickings are getting a bit slim.
To hear us review and summarize your options, click here.
Little girls dance during the 2008 Fairy Ball in the Paseo Arts District. (Photos by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman Archives)
Elizabeth Parsons, 3, picks out flowers to decorate her costume during the start of the 2008 Fairy Ball in Paseo.
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma City’s Fairy Ball invites all ages to share wonder of creativity
In the middle of Oklahoma City, children and the young at heart this weekend will don whimsical costumes, weave flower crowns for their hair and dance into the evening in an enchanted Fairy Glen.
Families are invited to celebrate the magic of art, dance and summer nights at the ninth annual Fairy Ball from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the Paseo Arts District. Theatre Upon a StarDanceSwan, a multigenerational Paseo dance company, organizes the all-ages event, which is sponsored by the Paseo Arts Association and Kirkpatrick Family Fund.
The Fairy Ball will move this year into a new spot; local artists have transformed the lot behind the Art of Yoga Studio, 2920 Paseo, into a Fairy Glen for the festivities.
The midsummer event is designed to give youngsters and parents the chance to escape the stresses of modern life and enjoy nature, creative expression and the charm of fairy tales, said StarDanceSwan founder and artistic director Lorrie Keller.
“People’s – even adults’ – eyes just sparkle when they hear about the Fairy Ball. It’s like an old-fashioned community gathering, but it also sparks the imagination,” Keller said. “The Fairy Ball was created for children so that parents could see the natural creative response that children have to summer and stories of wonder and make-believe. Children need to have a creative outlet.”
Apparently, the desire for such an event is growing. Attendance has increased every year, and the 2008 ball drew about 500 people, instead of the 350 expected. Even more attendees are anticipated this year; Keller and the Paseo Arts Association started getting inquiries about the ball in May.
“There are people that look forward to it every single year, and they tell other people to come,” said Lori Oden, the association’s executive director. “It’s a magical evening full of great live music and fun for the family. … It’s not just art-making, it’s music and dance and it incorporates so much more than the visual arts.”
Fairy Ball attendees are invited, but not required, to dress as fairies, elves and other whimsical creatures, or to wear festive clothing.
The celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with Flower Magic, in which participants use flowers, palm leaves and ribbons to add crowns or wings to their costumes. More blossoms will be provided since last year’s event ran out, Keller said.
From 8 to 9:30 p.m., Oklahoma City composer/multi-instrumentalist Steve McLinn will perform original “spacey jazz” using a variety of instruments. His music fits the enchanted mood and encourages attendees to dance.
“It’s like painting sound in a live setting,” he said. “It’s fun stuff. It’s something positive and uplifting and the kids have a good time. Parents get to be kids and kids get to be very magical.”
For the ball, Keller and her StarDanceSwan dancers have created a garden dragon from vintage baskets and Chinese umbrellas. After 8 p.m., the dancers will perform a piece in which they awaken the dragon.
The Fairy Ball is free, but attendees are urged to donate, particularly in light of the recession. The tough economy has cut deeply into the budget for the outreach event, Keller said.
“I don’t want to say it makes, but it allows us to begin to think of other unique ways to create wonder and magic without spending as much money,” she said.
To cut costs and long lines, event artists will no longer do full-face makeup for participants, but will move through the crowd dabbing rhinestones and glitter on children’s faces. And youngsters won’t sit at tables and chairs, but on sheets laid out on the ground, as they craft their crowns and wings. Keller hopes the changes will make the ball more playful and in tune with nature.
“We want to make it feel like you’ve just walked into a glen of fairies,” she said. “Children love playing being outside in the summer … and we want to get them outside and away from their computers and TVs.”
Ninth annual Fairy Ball
When: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Behind the Art of Yoga Studio, 2920 Paseo, in Paseo Arts District.
Cost: Free but donations accepted to offset expenses.
Information: 525-2688 or www.thepaseo.com.
“Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection”
In between his iconic Looney Tunes work and his beloved TV adaptation of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Chuck Jones got in on the antics of cute and cunning mouse Jerry and his perpetual pursuer, the prickly housecat Tom. “Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection” remasters and packages all 34 theatrical shorts the animation luminary contributed to the cartoon pair’s never-ending chase.
The shorts in this collection are not from Tom and Jerry’s heyday; the cat-and-mouse escapades won seven Oscars in the 1940s and ’50s for creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. In 1957, MGM closed its animation unit, but resumed production of Tom and Jerry shorts in 1963 under Jones (whose previous employer, Warner Bros., had shut down its animation shop in ’62).
Famed for his work on characters such as Pepe le Pew, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Jones brought his trademark sly facial expressions and wacky humor to Tom and Jerry. Sometimes the similarities are a bit too obvious: Many of his Tom and Jerry shorts seem lifted directly from his Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner tales. and one copies the storyline of an earlier Jones cartoon featuring his mice characters Hubie and Bertie and Claude the Cat.
The best shorts in the collection are the ones Jones directed, produced and co-wrote with former Looney Tunes scribe Mike Maltese.
But Jones apparently lost interest in Tom and Jerry before his tenure with them ended in 1967; some of the later shorts lack his sharp wit. (He released his Oscar-winning short “The Dot and the Line” in 1965 and “The Grinch” in ’66, so Jones clearly was working on other projects at the time.)
Still, Jones fans will appreciate seeing his take on Tom and Jerry.
DVD extras: An engaging Jones biography, which tellingly doesn’t mention Tom and Jerry, and a documentary the animation giant’s history with the cartoon cat and mouse.
Todd Snider “The Excitement Plan” (Yep Rock)
Singer-songwriter Todd Snider integrates vivid storytelling, sharply honed satire and an array of musical genres into his clever album “The Excitement Plan.”
Snider, who broke out in the 1990s with his spot-on folk-rock commentary “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues,” maintains his knack for cranking out musical short stories brimming with timely humor.
“The Excitement Plan,” which he dubs in the liner notes “Your sure fire cure for the hard times,” opens with the chipper, folksy “Slim Chance,” with lyrics about looking on the bright side: “I found a four-leaf clover in my yard today/It had one leaf missing off it/But that was OK … That’s close enough for me.” He closes with a sprightly Dixieland two-step wish for “Good Fortune,” punctuated with a bouncy harmonica, a few words of wisdom and a rambling cop movie plot.
In between, the album isn’t so cheery, but Snider’s skill at crafting engaging stories and matching them with right but unexpected sonic flourishes keep “The Excitement Plan” compelling. His roots rock yarn “America’s Favorite Pastime” relates the story of the late Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, who claimed he threw no-hitter while high on LSD. The bluesy “Unorganized Crime” relays the confession of a remorseless murderer in deceptively tuneful fashion.
Snider collaborates with Loretta Lynn on the spirited honky-tonk duet “Don’t Tempt Me,” about struggling with monogamy.
He narrates Robert Earl Keen’s alcoholic’s ode “Corpus Christi Bay” with unfussy poignancy. But Snider possesses such a distinctive voice – both as a lyricist and singer – that you almost hate to hear him do a cover.
Today’s featured event:
Rock along with The Donnas, The Romantic Disaster and Glister at 7 tonight at the Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern.
For more information, call 677-9169 or go to www.diamondballroom.net.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights
*UPDATED at 10:55 a.m. Friday.
*UPDATED again at 1:32 p.m. Friday.
Here is a preview of events going on in Oklahoma this weekend (July 31-Aug. 2).
- Hear Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights and Stephanie Briggs at 10 p.m. Friday at the Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E Sheridan. Information: 601-6276 or www.wormydog.com.
- Take in free live music Friday and Saturday at the annual Bricktown Reggae Festival, Oklahoma and Sheridan avenues. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Information: 236-4143 or www.bricktownokc.com.
- TULSA – See feature films and documentaries Friday-Sunday at Tulsa United Film Festival 2009 at Circle Cinema, 10 S Lewis Ave. Screenings begin at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the theater. Information: (918) 585-3456 or www.theunitedfest.com/tulsa.
Red Dirt Rangers
- Listen to Craig Morgan and the Red Dirt Rangers at 8 p.m. Saturday at Frontier City, 11501 N Interstate 35 Service Road. Information: 478-2140 or www.frontiercity.com.
* UPDATE: Frontier City has reopened after closing Thursday afternoon and this morning because E. Coli found in the water. The park will presumably be open for Saturday’s Craig Morgan-Red Dirt Rangers show. To read the NewsOK story, click here.
- TULSA – Hear August Burns Red with Bless The Fall, All Shall Perish and I Wrestled A Bear Once at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Flytrap Music Hall, 514 E Second Street. Information: www.ticketstorm.com.
- TULSA – Take your to to see “The Wiggles Go Bananas” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at BOK Center, 200 S Denver. Information: www.bokcenter.com.
A little girl wears a festive dress at the 2008 Fairy Ball in the Paseo Arts District. (Photo by Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman Archives)
- Dress up as whimsical creatures, dance to live music and experience the magic of summer at the ninth annual Fairy Ball in the Paseo Arts District. The family-friendly event will take place from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the lot behind the Art of Yoga Studio, 2920 Paseo. Information: www.thepaseo.com.
- LAWTON – Attend the Lawton-Ft. Sill 108th Birthday Celebration starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Elmer Thomas Park, Third and NW Ferris. The party will include live music from Tim Tate Nevaquaya and Bobby Dale Band. Information: www.cityof.lawton.ok.us.
- Rock along with The Donnas, The Romantic Disaster and Glister at 7 p.m. Friday at the Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S Eastern. Information: 677-9169 or www.diamondballroom.net.
- SAND SPRINGS – Catch Jeremy Johnson and the Lonesome Few in concert at 8 p.m. Friday at Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino, 301 Blackjack Drive. Information: www.milliondollarelm.com/sand-springs/entertainment.
- Hear Student Film with The World Palestine and Tadaima at 10 p.m. Friday at 51st Speakeasy, 1114 NW 51. Information: www.myspace.com/51speakeasy.
Rachelle Lefevre as villainous vampire Victoria in “Twilight”
In an unsurprising development, actress Rachelle Lefevre has accused Summit Entertainment bosses of unfairly ousting her from the third “Twlight” movie, “Eclipse,” according to IMDB.
Again, not surprisingly, studio reps have hit back, claiming the actress demonstrated “a lack of cooperative spirit” by signing up for another film with an overlapping schedule and failing to notify them in a timely matter.
Summit announced earlier this week that Bryce Dallas Howard (“Terminator Salvation,” “Spider-Man 3″) will replace Lefevre, who played the vengeful vampire Victoria in the film version of “Twilight” and the upcoming sequel “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” in the franchise’s third film, “Eclipse.” The announcement came days after Lefevre, who has been an enthusiastic promoter of the “Twilight” films, touted “New Moon” at Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif.
In a news release, Summit stated Lefevre “will not continue in the role due to scheduling conflicts with another commitment the actor has made.”
According to IMDB, Lefevre was “stunned” and “hurt deeply” to learn that producers at Summit Entertainment had decided to cast another actress as Victoria for the third film. After all, the villainous vamp role is relatively small in “Twilight” and “New Moon,” but Victoria becomes a key baddie in “Eclipse.”
Lefevre says she has signed up to star in the film “Barney’s Version,” which also stars Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Paul Giamatti, and the production does overlap the scheduled shooting on “Eclipse.” But she never thought she “would lose the role over a 10-day overlap” and that she believes Summit used that overlap as a lever to pry her out of the role of Victoria, according to IMDB.
Lefevre issued a statement on her ouster; here’s part of it from The Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Biz Blog:
“I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules. …
“Although the production schedule for ‘Eclipse’ is over three months long, Summit said they had a conflict during those 10 days and would not accommodate me.”
Shooting on “Eclipse” begins in Vancouver on Aug. 17 with director David Slade, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s the same day filming starts on “Barney’s Version.” Of course, those start dates don’t account for rehearsals that the respective films’ stars may be required to participate in before shooting commences.
Summit executives countered that Lefevre waited more than a month to tell them about her plans to star in “Barney’s Version.” Producers said they couldn’t alter the shooting schedule for “Eclipse” to let her leave the project 10 days early, according to IMDB.
Summit released a statement about the fuss, and here it is from IMDB:
“We at Summit Entertainment are disappointed by Rachelle Lefevre’s recent comments which attempt to make her career choices the fault of the studio. Her decision to discuss her version of the scheduling challenges publicly has forced the Studio to set the record straight and correct the facts.
“It was not until July 20th that Summit was first informed of Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to Barney’s Version, a commitment we have since been advised she accepted in early June. We feel that her choice to withhold her scheduling conflict information from us can be viewed as a lack of cooperative spirit which affected the entire production.
“Ms. Lefevre took a role in the other film that places her in Europe during the required rehearsal time, and at least ten days of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s principal photography. This period is essential for both rehearsal time with the cast, and for filming at key locations that are only available during the initial part of production.”
It’s impossible to tell which party’s version in this controversy is closer to the truth, but neither Summit nor Lefevre come off as very smart in this situation.
Lefevre is a relative unknown, so her part in the blockbuster “Twilight” franchise was the proverbial role of a lifetime. If it were me, I would make sure that no other project I took on overlapped even slightly with “Eclipse” or any other ”Twilight” obligation. After all, Victoria won’t appear at all in the planned fourth film, “Breaking Dawn,” so there was a definite end in sight for her “Twilight” commitment. And Summit is cranking out these movies fast, so if she hadn’t given them an opening to replace her, she would have soon been free to pursue other projects and try to capitalize on her “Twilight” momentum.
And Summit comes across as a company of opportunistic sharks looking for any chance to trade up for a bigger name on a franchise that started out as a low-budget risk and has turned into a huge money-making opportunity. Who can forget that work on “New Moon” started with Summit parting ways with “Twilight” helmer Catherine Hardwicke in favor of Chris Weitz, with his Oscar nomination for co-writing “About a Boy” and his special effects experience on “The Golden Compass.”
Judging from the buzz around “New Moon” online and at Comic-Con, replacing Hardwicke didn’t have a lasting negative impact on the sequel. And it’s doubtful that fan ire will go as far or last as long to impact “Eclipse,” provided Howard puts in a strong performance as Victoria.
The only real winner in this situation seems to be the indie pic “Barney’s Version,” which is getting plenty of attention at the sunset of Lefevre’s “Twilight” tenure.
Reba McEntire (Associated Press photo)
In more Reba McEntire news, the Oklahoma native and country music star is scheduled to make her music debut on the home-shopping TV channel QVC on at 6 p.m. Oklahoma time Friday.
She will preview music from her first new solo album in six years, “Keep On Loving You,” the follow-up to her hit 2007 album “Reba Duets,” according to a news release on Reba.com and her Twitter (@reba).
During the “QVC Presents Q Sessions Live Featuring Reba McEntire” broadcast, the Chockie-raised star will give viewers a sneak peek of her much-anticipated release with a special live performance that will include her new Top 10 single “Strange,” the album’s latest single “Consider Me Gone” and the current dance club hit “I Want A Cowboy.”
Shoppers will also have the opportunity to pre-order “Keep On Loving You” - which has been specially packaged for QVC with a bonus hardback copy of her best-selling autobiography “Reba: My Story” - more than two weeks before street date.
“Music lovers of all ages are in for a real treat with this exciting debut,” said Rich Yoegel, director of merchandising for QVC, in the release. “We are thrilled to not only launch Reba’s newest album but to have her perform live for our viewers. This will certainly be a memorable show that fans won’t want to miss.”
McEntire’s “Strange” has become her second consecutive Top 10 single of 2009, while the video has gone Top 5 at both CMT and GAC. The multimedia superstar was also recently recognized by Billboard, Country Aircheck and Mediabase as the biggest female hitmaker in country music history.
One of the most successful female recording artists in history, McEntire has sold more than 55 million albums worldwide, and her last 13 studio albums have all achieved platinum-plus status. The two-time Grammy Award winner is also an acclaimed film, TV and Broadway actress.
McEntire signed with The Valory Music Co. in November 2008. The move reunited the multimedia entertainer with industry leader Scott Borchetta, now president and CEO of Big Machine Records and sister label The Valory Music Co.
The big-voiced redhead joins Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, Barry Manilow and Alabama among the ranks of music stars who have appeared on QVC to perform and sell their music. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s David Hiltbrand recently wrote about the trend in a story that The Oklahoman picked up from McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. You can read the story by clicking here.
“Keep On Loving You” will be available starting Friday through QVC at (800)345-1515 or www.QVC.com, while supplies last.
Alfre Woodard (Associated Press photo)
Four-time Emmy Award winner and three-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner Alfre Woodard has joined the cast of the medical drama “Three Rivers,” which will premiere Sunday, Oct. 4 on CBS.
A Tulsa native, Woodard will play Dr. Sophia Jordan, a brilliant surgeon at the top of her field and head of surgery for the hospital, according to a CBS news release. Her character will possess a vast amount of experience from training all around the world, which gives her an extremely diverse point-of-view.
Woodard’s television credits include Emmy Award-winning performances in “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “Miss Ever’s Boys” and “The Practice.” She has starred in numerous feature films, including “Cross Creek,” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, and the hit Tyler Perry’s “The Family That Preys.”
Here is the plot summary, from CBS:
“Three Rivers” is a medical drama that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country, where every moment counts. However, dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel. In this high-stakes arena, in which every case is a race against the clock, these tenacious surgeons and medical professionals are the last hope for their patients.
Woodard is a talented and underrated actress, and her involvement is enough to get me to tune in at least once to “Three Rivers,” even though “House” is the only medical drama that’s ever really held my attention.