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April 19, 2004

TV Alert

Dear Friedrich --

I notice that the Ovation network is re-running a couple of arts documentaries that are well worth (IMHO, of course) setting your Tivo to record.

Lee Strasberg: The Method Man. (Ovation. Saturday 4-24 from 6-7 pm EST; and Monday 4-26 from 8-9 pm EST.) A decent, informative show about one of the acting-guru gods of the Method world, full of good cultural history. You get to meet some of the key Method people; you get a sense of where they were coming from and what they valued; you get a taste of the beauty, the passion, the nonsense and the craziness. (For a much more comprehensive treatment of the Method, I recommend Steve Vineberg's book "Method Actors," which is buyable here. Here's a posting where I express my own not-very-enthusiastic view of the Method.) Although movie performing has, by and large, moved on, the Method's impact is still all around us. That whole sensitive-boxer thing? Those actors who mumble, who "physicalize," who grope for words, who peer out from under hurtin' eyebrows, and who make a big show out of how much they hate stardom? Those blondes in underwear acting slutty and having breakdowns? Well, all of that imagery and all of that iconography has its sources in the Method. And Strasberg -- the acting coach as prophet and psychoanalyst -- was a key Method figure.

Sidney Bechet: Treat It Gentle. (Ovation. Thursday 4-22 from 4-5:15 pm EST.) A good-enough documentary with a great subject. The jazz reedman Bechet (pronounced "buh-shay") started out in New Orleans in the early days and died an expatriate in France in 1959. During the '20s, he was known as one of the few soloists in the same class as Louis Armstrong, but he was also as graceful being part of a group as he was being a star. And although he stayed true to his traditional New Orleans jazz roots, Bechet became an influence on musicians as different as Johnny Hodges and John Coltrane. He's one of the more undersung of the true jazz giants. This CD here is a terrific introduction to his music.



posted by Michael at April 19, 2004


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