Oklahoma-bred singing cowboy Gene Autry starred in more than 90 Westnern B-movies in his long career.
But these days he is best known for recording the Christmas songs “”Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and his biggest hit, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” He eventually earned the title the “Christmas Cowboy.”
This year marks the 60th anniversary of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which became Autry’s sole No. 1 hit and remains a holiday favorite.
NewsOK talks to various Autry experts, including The Oklahoman Entertainment Editor Gene Triplett, in an nDepth video and story.
To see the video and story, click here.
And Merry Christmas!
Rodin’s “The Kiss” is now on view at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.
NORMAN –The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is offering a gift for art lovers during the holiday season: free admission for all visitors Saturday through Dec. 30.
“Our visitors are the museum’s greatest blessings,” said Ghislain d’Humières, museum director, in a news release. “We would like to thank our visitors for a wonderful year of activities and events at the museum. Free admission is a small way to show our great appreciation.”
In addition, the Museum Store is offering double discounts throughout the month of December. Museum Association members, who normally receive 10 percent off all purchases, will receive 20 percent off through Dec. 30. Likewise, University of Oklahoma faculty, staff and students will receive 10 percent off instead of the usual 5 percent discount.
The Museum Store will offer special complimentary festive holiday wrapping or gift bags through today.
The museum will be closed Thursday and Friday, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
In the spirit of giving, the museum is giving visitors a limited opportunity to view “The Kiss” (“Le Baiser”), one of only five lifetime casts, on this scale, of the bronze statue by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). On loan from a private collector through March 15, 2010, the sculpture depicts the famous, forbidden embrace of historical figures Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta from Canto V of Dante’s Inferno.
A new, free iPod tour also is available for visitors. The museum’s first audio tour utilizing iPod Touch technology explores how artists have used paint in innovative ways. The tour focuses on two parts of the museum’s permanent collection: the Weitzenhoffer galleries of French Impressionism and the Hobson Family Gallery of contemporary art. The iPod tour has been produced through a grant from the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Foundation of Houston, Texas.
Two new exhibitions remain on display through Jan. 3, 2010. “Sooners in the Land of Enchantment: Oklahoma Artists and New Mexico” examines the influence of New Mexican artists in the early 20th century and the landscape and cultures that changed the way Oklahomans approached art. A black-and-white photography exhibition, “The Creative Eye: Selections from the Carol Beesley Collection of Photographs,” in Honor of Michael Hennagin, features selected modern works from the collection of former OU painting faculty member Carol Beesley.
Two museum galleries also offer new selections for visitors. The Roxanne P. and William H. Thams Gallery, typically home to pieces from the museum’s permanent collection of Asian works, temporarily houses works by American Indian artists. The exhibit includes a variety of paintings, jewelry, basketry and pottery, and features paintings by the Kiowa Five.
In the Hobson Family Gallery, visitors can see modern works including several by Robert Rauschenberg and an homage to Claude Monet’s water lilies by Roy Lichtenstein.
Regular admission to the museum is free to all OU students with a current student ID and all museum association members, $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children 6 to 17 years of age, $2 for OU faculty/staff, and free for children 5 and younger. The museum is closed on Mondays and admission is free on Tuesdays. For more information, go to www.ou.edu/fjjma or call 325-4938.
Construction on a new wing is under way, but the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is open and fully functional with exhibitions and programming throughout the entire construction process.
Today’s featured event:
NORMAN – Help a great cause and hear great music when Starlight Mints and Feel Spectres play a Holiday Toy Drive Show at 9 tonight at The Opolis, 113 N Crawford.
People are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys to the show, and a portion of proceeds will go to the Norman charity Food For Friends.
For more information, go to www.starlightmints.com/opolis.html.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
“The Hurt Locker”
The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, of which I’m a member, has announced its fourth annual list of awards for achievement in film, giving top honors to “The Hurt Locker” as the best motion picture of 2009.
OFCC members are Oklahoma-based movie critics who write for print and online outlets that publish or post reviews of current film releases. Among the media outlets represented are The Oklahoman, The Tulsa World, The Oklahoma Gazette, Edmond Life & Leisure, 411mania.com and others.
OFCC members named “The Hurt Locker” as the year’s Best Film. Set in war-torn Iraq, the absorbing drama focuses on an elite group of soldiers tasked with disarming bombs. The woman who helmed “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow, is the film group’s Best Director of 2009. Bigelow may well be on her way to becoming the first woman to win an Oscar for directing.
Rounding out the Oklahoma critics’ 10 Best Films of 2009 list are “Up in the Air,” “Inglourious Basterds,”(500) Days of Summer,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” “A Serious Man,” “Up,” “District 9,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Avatar.”
Film buffs can find the complete list of awards on the OFCC Web site, ofccircle.org, as well as frequent postings on film-related items and links to individual reviews.
Top performance honors went to George Clooney as Best Actor for his portrayal of a high-flying hatchet man in “Up in the Air.” Best Actress honors went to Meryl Streep for her remarkable transformation into famed chef Julia Child in “Julie & Julia.” Mo’Nique earned the Best Supporting Actress spot as an abusive mother in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” while Christoph Waltz handily won Best Supporting Actor for his role as a sinister SS officer in “Inglourious Basterds.”
“This was a very good year for cinema, and we hope our awards encourage viewers to seek out these films we have honored,” OFCC President Phil Bacharach said in a news release.”One of our goals as a critics’ group is to make Oklahomans aware of quality films that may not have the publicity budgets of major studio releases.”
While 2009 was a strong year for well-crafted movies, it also saw its share of disappointments. OFCC members selected “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” as Obviously Worst Film of the Year. Their nod to “Amelia” as Not-So-Obviously Worst Film of the Year expresses their realization that some films fall far short of their sizable amibitions.
“As professional moviegoers, we see many more unsuccessful films than successful ones,” Bacharach said in the release. “The Not-So-Obviously Worst Film category contains films that may have great talent behind them, but somehow add up to less than the sum of their parts.”
Not all the films named as award winners opened in Oklahoma before voting took place; studios arranged press screenings and provided DVDs of many of their films so OFCC members could assess and consider them for year-end awards.
“We honor achievements in motion pictures each year both to celebrate film and to continue to draw attention to Oklahoma as a place with a sophisticated audience of people who appreciate films that challenge and entertain,” Bacharach said in the release.
OFCC promotes film in Oklahoma and strives to increase the visibility of the state’s film-viewing and filmmaking communities. Oklahoma film critics see the majority of the studio and independent films of any given year and write hundreds of reviews of them as individuals.
The group’s Web site, www.ofccircle.org, allows member critics to link to their reviews on the sites of their various media outlets as well as to post original pieces on film. This year, several critics began Coming Soon to a TV Near You, a post that suggests movies to watch each week on the small screen.
See the full list of OFCC 2009 film honorees after the break.
The Flaming Lips (Photo by J. Michelle Martin)
Oklahoma City’s own psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs are releasing their take on Pink Floyd’s seminal album “The Dark Side of the Moon,” which also features spoken word artist Henry Rollins and Peaches, today exclusively on iTunes.
The album, formally titled “The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon,” will go on sale through other digital retailers Dec. 29.
In addition, the Lips and Stardeath will perform “The Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety after counting down to 2010 at the New Year’s Eve Freakout! at the Cox Convention Center. For more information on the show, go to www.coxconventioncenter.com.
In DVDs, last-minute holiday shoppers are in luck: The terrific films “District 9″ and “(500) Days of Summer” are out just in time for Christmas and definitely worth seeing.
And the latest from authors Orson Scott Card and J. M. Coetzee are new on bookshelves this week.
Here is a list of this week’s new CDs, DVDs and books, from Amazon.com, VideoETA.com and The Oklahoman’s Renee Lawrence:
The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs, “The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing the Dark Side of the Moon.” (available digitally on iTunes only)
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, “Uni-5: The Worlds Enemy.”
John Reuben, “Sex, Drugs and Self Control.”
Westlife, “Where We Are.”
Prince Lasha, “Insight.”
(500) Days of Summer
All About Steve
It Might Get Loud
Call of the Wild 3D
Family Guy Presents: Something… Dark Side
Kyle XY: The Complete Third Season
Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Three
Taxi: The Complete Series
Taxi: The Final Season
“Hidden Empire” (Empire Series, No. 2) by Orson Scott Card.
“Summertime” by J. M. Coetzee.
“The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande.
“The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook” by Erin Chase.
“The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More and Live Better” by Chris Farrell.
“The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.
Carrie Underwood in “Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special” (Fox photo)
Country superstar Carrie Underwood this week will make a couple of holiday TV appearances.
An encore airing of “Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special” will be on Fox from 7 to 9 p.m. today. Along with musical and comedy bits from Underwood, the special features performances from Tulsa-connected “American Idol” David Cook, fellow Oklahoma native Kristin Chenoweth, Dolly Parton and Brad Paisley.
Underwood will join host Faith Hill, fellow Oklahoma native Reba McEntire and Mary J. Blige on the annual “A Home For The Holidays” special, which will air on CBS from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.
On both shows, Underwood can be seen performing her current single, “Temporary Home,” which she co-penned with Luke Laird and Zac Maloy, the latter formerly of Oklahoma City band the Nixons.
For more TV news, check out Penny Soldan’s great blog at http://blog.newsok.com/television.
Billboard has named the Carrie Underwood’s 2005 debut record “Some Hearts” the Top Country Album of the Decade.
The announcement comes six weeks since the release of the Checotah native’s third album “Play On,” which has yielded the No. 1 hit, “Cowboy Casanova,” and new heart-wrenching single, “Temporary Home,” according to a news release.
Also included in Billboard’s year-end special double issue is the acknowledgement that the country superstar’s feisty smash, “Before He Cheats” (No. 8), is the only female showing in the Top 20 Hot Country Songs of the Decade.
A four-time Grammy Award winner and the reigning Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year, Underwood reteamed with producer Mark Bright for ”Play On.” Bright produced her 2007 album “Carnival Ride” and seven tracks from “Some Hearts.”
To date, Underwood has amassed more than 11 million in U.S. album sales with “Some Hearts,” “Carnival Ride” and “Play On.” Along the way, she has consistently broken new ground and earlier this year became the first country artist in history and the only “American Idol” winner ever to achieve 10 No. 1 singles from her first two albums. When “Cowboy Casanova,” the debut single from “Play On,” recently reached No. 1, her string of uninterrupted No. 1s increased to 11.
From Tuesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma-bred singer-songwriter Audra Mae’s debut album isn’t due out until March, but her anthem “Who I Was Born to Be” already has sold 1.8 million copies.
The Putnam City High School graduate penned the only original song on Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle’s debut album “I Dreamed a Dream.” Boyle’s record has topped the Billboard 200 charts for three weeks; only Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” has moved more units in 2009.
“I feel really honored just to be a part of that,” Mae said by phone from Los Angeles, where she moved about six years ago. “Nobody expected it to be as big as it is, which I think shows what really affects human beings. … What she represents in the world is that leap of faith and just the underdog story and the late bloomer story. And I think that’s why people are so just in love with her.”
Mae, 25, became a fan of the 48-year-old Scottish singer when Boyle first appeared on the reality show “Britain’s Got Talent,” often watching the big-voiced Brit’s performances on YouTube. After Boyle finished second on the show, Swedish songwriting trio Play Production, who Mae has written with for about a year, sent the Oklahoma native the chords and melody for a song for Boyle’s album and asked her to pen the lyrics.
“I loved her, her story, and so I said, ‘Sure, I’ll take a crack at it,’” said Mae, grandniece of Judy Garland. “I went online and just Googled her and read everything I could about her, learned about her, and then wrote the song. And I knew after I wrote it that it was perfect for her, but I didn’t know whether she was going to like it. … That you never know.”
Mae got word that Boyle planned to record “Who I Was Born to Be,” but didn’t bank on it until the “I Dreamed a Dream” was finished. After all, her uncle, Michael Sherwood, wrote a song for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but “For All Time” didn’t make the album until the 25th anniversary reissue.
“A lot of people work hard and have worked really hard for a really long time and never gotten a song on an album,” Mae said, whose evocative cover of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” was featured last year on the TV show “Sons of Anarchy.” “I’ve been writing songs professionally for 4 ½ years at this point, and this just does not often happen.”
Mae recently released her debut EP, “Haunt,” on indie label SideOneDummy Records and will put out a full record, “The Happiest Lamb,” in spring. Between “Who I Was Born to Be” and plans to play South by Southwest 2010, she has high hopes for the album.
“More people want to talk to me about my music or her song … which is wonderful opportunity. You know, it’s like priceless.”
Today’s featured event:
Celebrate the season when Celebrity Attractions presents Mannheim Steamroller at 7:30 p.m. today and Wednesday at the Civic Center, 201 N Walker.
For more information, go to www.celebrityattractions.com.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
The Ottawa Citizen reports that Checotah native Carrie Underwood has gotten engaged to hockey player Mike Fisher. Underwood and Fisher have been dating for about a year.
“It’s true,” Fisher told The Ottawa Citizen. “We’re both obviously excited and very happy and so, exciting times for sure.”
A wedding date hasn’t been set.
The Citizen reported that Fisher, 29, said he proposed to Underwood, 26, on Sunday. Underwood, a former “American Idol” winner, remains one of today’s top country music performers.