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Forget the crowds of NYCC, MOCCA is where it’s at for comic events in New York. Organized by the Society of Illustrators, and running April 7 - 8 at the Metropolitan West (639 W 46th St.), the MOCCA Arts Festival features indie comics legends alongside fresh faced newcomers and small-time ‘zine printers, plus panels and workshops.
This year’s guests of honor include Roz Chast, Liniers, Mike Mignola, Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin, and Featured Artists Yvan Alagbé, Nicole J, Georges, Dominique Goblet, Anna Haifisch, Jaime Hernandez, Rebecca Mock, Max de Radigues, Ann Telnaes, and JooHee Yoon.
To learn more, go to: https://www.societyillustrators.org/mocca-arts-festival
MOCCA Arts FestivalApril 7 - 8, 2018
Metropolitan West639 W 46th St.New York, NY 10036
Ten-time Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and Golden Globe winner John Legend, who was handpicked to play the coveted role of Jesus in NBC’s live Easter Sunday telecast of the landmark Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, joins Tony-winner Glenn Close and Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manuel Miranda in Wednesday’s one-hour special Andrew Lloyd Webber Tribute to a Superstar, 10 P.M. Eastern. Jesus Christ Superstar Live! airs Sunday in a two-hour-and-20-minute telecast from Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Marcy Armory at 8 P.M.Lloyd Webber, considered one of history’s most successful composers of musicals in history, has won seven Tony Awards, three Grammys, and an Oscar and Golden Globe. He’s also a Kennedy Center Honoree. In February 2017 he achieved the rare distinction of having four shows running simultaneously on Broadway: Cats (revival), The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock, and Sunset Boulevard (concert revival). In addition to producing his musicals with his Really Useful Company and Cameron Mackintosh, he’s also presented plays, such as Lend Me a Tenor.
Legend won his Oscar for Best Original Song, "Glory," from the film Selma, his Tony Award for co-producing last season’s revival of August Wilson’s Jitney. He has been honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame with their Hal David Starlight Award. The special, on the heels of Lloyd Webber’s 70th birthday and the publication of his massive memoir Unmasked [Harper Collins], which at 518 pages comes just short of rivaling Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind and only half-bows to Tolstoy’s War and Peace [however, Volume Two’s in the works], is a tribute and celebration of one of theater’s most prolific composers. Compared to Stephen Sondheim, Lloyd Webber may not have be the critics’ darling, as he’s often mused, but his musicals have raked in billions worldwide, with only one or two hiccups. [It’s certain that Jerry Herman, who also suffered many a critic, has a flush bottom line with the blockbuster success of the Hello, Dolly! revival.]The live telecast will co-star Brandon Victor Dixon (original cast, Hamilton) as apostle Judas and Sara Bareilles (composer, often star Waitress) as Mary Magdalene, with stellar featured spots by rock legend Alice Cooper as Herod, Tony nominee Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, Swedish rock star Erik Gronwall as apostle Simon Zealotes, Jin Ha (M. Butterfly revival) as high priest Annas, Tony nominee Norm Lewis as high priest Caiaphas, and Jason Tam (If/Then, Lysistrata Jones) as apostle Peter.
According to a spokesman for Emmy-winning Brad Lachman Productions, where the special was still being edited on Friday, “the tribute covers Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows from Jesus Christ Superstar to Sunset Boulevard” It will begin with a montage of Lloyd Webber musicals, include numerous photos [some vintage], and conversation and reflection with Glenn Close and sound bites with John Legend and Lin-Manuel Miranda. In addition, there’ll be an appearance by New York’s Young People’s Chorus, who’re appearing in the Easter Sunday live telecast.” On the program, Lloyd Webber states, “Jesus Christ Superstar has always been at its best when it’s presented live and close to a rock concert. Tim (Rice) and I discovered with Joseph and His Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat that we liked the idea of having no dialogue.” The rock opera was presented in a dynamic rock concert production in London’s Regents Park Open Air Theatre in 2016, winning an Olivier Award for Best Revival, with a return last summer. Following the Broadway premiere, the show debuted in Los Angeles at Universal Studios amphitheatre. “The wonderful thing about musical theater,” observes Lloyd Webber, “is that there are no rules. Jesus Christ Superstar was made first as a recording because no one was interested in producing it in theater. When MCA Records and Universal Studios put up the money to record the complete piece, we considered it as a recording that had to entertain listeners as if it was a musical play on radio.” He thinks one of the reasons Jesus Christ Superstar has endured today – with productions worldwide and, in the U.S. even by church groups especially at Easter season -- is because it was conceived as a record. “We didn’t have theater directors saying you need 18 extra bars here for scenery shifts or what have you,” he says. “It was carefully constructed by Tim and I to be a tight piece to take the listener in a straight line from A to Z.” Lloyd Webber and Rice didn’t exactly create the British Invasion of Broadway but they contributed more than any other composers, their rock opera helping to shape musical theatre as we know it today.
The composer is responsible for some of Broadway’s most popular shows: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, -- all with lyricist Rice; Cats, Song and Dance, Starlight Express [which may be making a spectacular return], Broadway’s longest-running musical [celebrating 30 years] The Phantom of the Opera, one of his most underrated works Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard, By Jeeves, Bombay Dreams, The Woman in White, and, currently on the boards, School of Rock.On the program, Glenn Close says, “Andrew is a bonafied genius. It’s been a privilege to work with him. When I stepped onstage in Los Angeles in the first American production of Sunset Boulevard, I was still learning to sing. Andrew’s music is very challenging. You have to have technical knowledge, and I had a long way to go. If I went onstage thinking I was going to be singing, that would have been too daunting. I went out there thinking of the big songs as monologues, thinking of Norma, of her situation, of what she was saying. It was the only way I could have gotten through. It was an amazing journey.”The special is from Marc Platt Productions and, lead producers of the Sunday telecast, Zadan/Meron Productions [Craig Zadan and Neal Meron]. Lachman and Bill Bracken of Lachman Productions serve as executive producer and co-executive producer, respectively. In celebration of all things Lloyd Webber, Sony Masterworks has scheduled April 27th for the drop of a two-disc original cast album from the telecast, with 27 tracks, including the curtain call; and Verve Records has released the four-disc and a two-disc Andrew Lloyd Webber: Unmasked - The Platinum Collection. The complete set, which features over 70 tracks, presents stars of the original musicals, including School of Rock, “Superstar” by Murray Head, Jesus Christ Superstar’s album Judas; “Buenos Aires” [Evita] by cast members of Glee; a stunning rendition of “Tell Me on a Sunday” [Song and Dance] by Michael Crawford; “No Matter What” [Whistle Down the Wind] by Boyzone; and newly-recorded versions of songs by pop star and Golden Globe nominee Lana Del Rey, Grammy winning jazz/blues vocalist Gregory Porter, and multi-Platinum singer [and actress] Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls), plus, a 40- page booklet with introduction by Andrew Lloyd Webber and tributes from Close, Michael Crawford [The Phantom of the Opera], Close, Tim Rice, and Streisand.
The Amazing Screw-On Head
Filled to the brim with creepy cobwebs, dilapidated castles, and bizarre creatures, the comics of Mike Mignola have redefined how readers look at the world of the supernatural thanks to his seminal Hellboy series. The Society of Illustrators (128 E 63rd St, New York, NY) will be celebrating several decades of Mignola’s illustrious career with The Art of Mike Mignola and Other Curious Objects, running from March 6 to April 21.
Getting his start at Marvel comics in the 1980s, Mignola drew the first Rocket Raccoon mini-series written by Bill Mantlo. 1989’s Triumph and Torment, written by Roger Stern was a prelude to the gothic horrors Mignola would go on to create in Hellboy, as the "Sorcerer Supreme", Dr. Strange, teams up with Dr. Doom to rescue the soul of Doom’s mother from the pits of Hell. In 1994 Hellboy: The Seed of Destruction, written with John Byrne, premiered setting off the long and storied history of Hellboy, the gruff but lovable paranormal investigator who may also be the beast of the apocalypse.
The exhibit will feature highlights from Hellboy series, as well as other spin-off titles including work from B.P.R.D., Abe Sapien, and Witchfinder alongside samples from his award-winning comic books including the Eisner Award winner The Amazing Screw-On Head (Dark Horse Comics) as well as Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire (Bantam Spectra), co-written by best-selling author Christopher Golden.
The exhibit will have an opening reception on March 6, and Mike Mignola will also be appearing at the Society's annual MoCCA Fest comic convention on April 7 - 8.
To learn more, go to: https://www.societyillustrators.org/exhibits/mike-mignola
The Art of Mike Mignola and Other Curious ObjectsMarch 6 - April 21, 2018
The Society of Illustrators128 E 63rd St.New York, NY 10065
The 90th Academy Awards will telecast live by ABC from L.A.’s Dolby Theatre Sunday, again hosted by late night’s Jimmy Kimmel and presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at 6:30 P.M. [Red Carpet] with a gala start at 8 P.M. The Awards will be seen or streamed live or via tape delay in more than 225 countries. This being the 90th annual awards, there’ll surely be a lot of movie history. Undoubtedly, filled as ever with glitz and bejeweled and high coutured glamour, it will run until close to midnight.
The long-absent diversity began to spike last year. This year it exploded. It’s a big year for indies – building upon last year’s winner Moonlight, the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBT-themed film to win [after the sloppy accounting firm’s reps located the correct envelope – and such astute stars as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway somehow failed to read what was printed on it].
Be warned, says Jimmy Kimmel, “If you think we screwed up the ending this year, wait until you see what we have planned for this year.” He shares that he’s labored long and hard on the comic elements, “writing thousands of jokes and choosing 30 for the big night.” Kimmel added that he believes “it’s almost necessary to address the current state of politics,” as the late show hosts have been doing for well over a year, “and other serious matters.”
Still, with the Golden Globes presented only a week into the new year, followed by the SAG Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, New York Film [and every major city’s] Critics Awards, and the You-Name-It-Movie Awards, the Oscars are anti-climatic. The Globes productions, even without huge production numbers, get better with each airing.
Last year with the blistering speech by [then] 30-time nominee/eight wins “mediocre” Meryl Streep on accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award [little known today is that in addition to his racy spectacles, the director was an ultra-conservative and rabid anti-Communist rebel rouser] and this year with Oprah’s “pre-presidential run” acceptance speech on receiving the same honor, there are more WOW! moments. Granted the Globes is a far smaller organization compared with the Academy’s various guilds pushing nominations, but for the Oscars to remain relevant they should not only air earlier in the year but also, in spite of union pressures not to, move many of the creative awards to a pre-show segment as the Tony Awards do. There would also be time for more and longer clips.
2017 was a banner year for indies – several of which are among the top contenders in the Top Nine. Over 341 films were eligible for nomination honors; 70 eligible original songs [with audiences rushing to exit as the end credits endlessly crawl, most probably never heard even last year’s five nominees. There are 24 categories, and prior-to-telecast technical and honorary awards – some 200 nominees in all.
With ever-rising ticket prices and entertainment-hungry huddled masses, not being able to get enough programming at home, arriving to be infused with “buttered” popcorn, salsa and chips, Milk Duds, Sno-caps, and iced-cold Coke, box office records were broken nearly every summer and holiday weekend.
Presenters will include past Oscar winners and nominees Mahershala Ali (Supporting Actor, Moonlight), Emily Blunt, Sandra Bullock, Dave Chappelle, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Ashley Judd, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Lupita Nyong’o, Eva Marie Saint, Emma Stone and Christopher Walken.
Also on hand will be: Chadwick Boseman, Gal Gadot, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig, Tiffany Haddish, Mark Hamill, Armie Hammer, Tom Holland, Oscar Isaac, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kumail Nanjiani, Margot Robbie, Gina Rodriguez, Wes Studi, Daniela Vega, and Zendaya.
There are five planned production numbers. The original singers of the year's five Oscar-nominated songs will reprise their performances, with Oscar-nominated tunes performed by Mary J. Blige (Mudbound): Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade (Coco); rapper Common and powerhouse belter Andra Day (Marshall); Keala Settle (from The Greatest Showman); and Sufjan Stevens (Call Me by Your Name).
The Shape of Water leads the pack with 13 nominations, Dunkirk follows with eight nods, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has seven.
2018 Nomination Highlights:
Honorary Awards, for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy,” have been presented to actor, cinematographer, director, editor, producer, and writer Charles Burnett; five-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Owen Roizman (Tootsie, Network, and among many others), The French Connection, Donald Sutherland; and French director Agnès Varda.
At www.oscars.org, check out the numerous special features, which include video clips and photos, a full list of nominees, and a ballot.
The 2018 Academy Awards will be produced again by Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd and directed by Glenn Weiss (Tony Awards). Says De Luca (Captain Phillips, Moneyball, The Social Network), “We always thought the idea that anything can happen on the Oscars was a cliché until we lived it. So, it’s great to get two chances to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- and handed the keys to a party 90 years in the making. Tune in!”
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