Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The glance

Monday, May 26, 2008

A reason for the bob

About every review of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull has mentioned the haircut worn by Cate Blanchett's character - a severe bob a la Louise Brooks. (Similarly, many reviews of Christina Ricci's role in the recent Speedracer also mentioned her Brooks-like bob.) Well, those references to Brooks and her famous haircut are just that, references. No big deal - they show up on my "Louise Brooks news alert."

Well, it turns out there is a reason after all for Blanchett's (aka CB) hairstyle. In a recent interview with Cinematical, director George Lucas (aka GL) revealed his regard for Louise Brooks.

Was that hairdo an homage to somebody specifically in the fifties?

CB: Well, Vidal Sassoon. ...

GL: I'm a big fan of Louise Brooks, a big fan of the bob, and I couldn't resist. I just had to get that in a movie.

CB: I didn't resist.

GL: Just something that had to happen.
I wish I had known. I once went to the Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco. And I was impressed by the silent film movie memorabilia on display. None of it was Brooks related, but there was stuff belonging to Rudolph Valentino, the Keystone cops, etc..... George Lucas wasn't there at the time. But had I known of his interest in Brooks, I would have left him a LBS button. George, write to me . . . . I have an idea for a film.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

Microsoft announced Friday that it was ending a project to scan millions of books and scholarly articles and make them available on the Web. It's expected that it's book search site will be taken down sometime this week. So far, Microsoft said it had digitized 750,000 books and indexed 80 million journal articles. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may . . . .

Both Microsoft and Google have been scanning older books that have fallen into the public domain, as well as copyright-protected books under agreements with some publishers. I have used both sites in researching Louise Brooks, Frank Wedekind, silent film, and Jazz Age topics. And, I have found a bunch of stuff - including vintage reviews of Brooks' films in obscure trade journals like Educational Screen. I was also able to download a whole lot of early books on film. It's a pleasure to have Movies and Conduct, a book from 1933 about the effect of the movies on youth. (Louise Brooks is mentioned.)

Admittedly, I am an information junkie. Microsoft's discontinuation of this project is a sad thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unusually unusual

Here is something you don't see everyday - as a matter of fact, it's a somewhat uncommon image. A copy is available on eBay.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pandora's Box on cable

Pandora's Box, the 1929 German film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown on the Ovation cable channel tonight at 8 and 11 pm. Check your local listings. Follow this link for a bit more information from the Ovation website.

Friday, May 16, 2008

RadioLulu update

I regret to report that broadcasters still have not been able to reach agreement with SoundExchange over an acceptable performance royalty rate for internet radio stations like RadioLulu. Fortunately, supporters in Congress are getting frustrated by the slow pace of negotiations and are finally taking action.

This Thursday, May 15th, Senator Sam Brownback will be offering an amendment to include the Internet Radio Equality Act (IREA) provisions into legislation being considered by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. As you may remember, IREA was a bill introduced last year to cap royalties at 7.5% of Internet radio revenues.

A fair and reasonable royalty rate is needed now more than ever. Together with Live365, RadioLulu and 6,000 other small webcasters are streaming hundreds of diverse musical artists and genres that simply can't be heard on AM/FM dials. But unless the royalty rate is lowered to the same rate as other radio media, we will always be at a competitive disadvantage with higher costs and fewer listeners.

RadioLulu needs your help to support the IREA bill. So, please take a minute and go to www.savenetradio.org to fire off a quick email or phone call to your Senator. Unless we all raise our voices, the corporate greed of major labels will triumph over small webcasters that broadcast diverse musical genres and talent.

Help protect RadioLulu and internet radio for small webcasters!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Liza Minelli

Liza Minelli, star of Cabaret - a film of interest to all those interested in Louise Brooks and the Weimar period, is currently in Forth-Worth, Texas, where she will be making an appearance at Bass Hall. The local paper, the Forth-Worth Star Telegram, asked the performer a few questions which were transcribed to today's edition. Minnelli mentions Louise Brooks in these excerpts.

Liza Minnelli has show business running through her veins. Not only does she have legendary parents -- Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli -- but she's an icon herself. Her storied career spans the latter half of the 20th century, and along the way she picked up numerous awards, including an Emmy, three Tonys, an Oscar for the 1972 film Cabaret and a "Grammy Legend Award" in 1990.
Minnelli is making her Bass Hall debut tonight, part of a weeklong celebration of the hall's 10th anniversary. Minnelli, who has been touring in Europe, will do her trademark material and will perform work from one of her mentors,  composer / musician / singer / actress Kay Thompson, who was a vocal coach for Garland, Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra, among others.
We asked her a few questions about the show and her career.
Is there anything autobiographical in this show?
I have to talk about my life when I talk about Kay. This is my godmother. I learned to appreciate music early because of her, and I learned from her joy of life, her pizzazz. She's my idol.
With show-business parents, was it a given that you would enter that world, too?
They were involved in Hollywood, so that was boring to me. I wanted to be an ice skater. I wanted to go to the Olympics. But then I saw Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway in 1960, and I knew that's what I wanted to do.
Do people assume that you had an easy route into show business?
They do. But I started off-Broadway, moving scenery. I did years of summer stock. I was a "flower who bloomed between the floorboards of the stage." Charles Aznavour told me that. You make it not because of your parents' success, but in spite of it. That's why so many people who are the sons and daughters of whoever don't make it, because it's too tough. What about Frank Sinatra Jr.?
I recently saw the movie Cabaret again, and it's still amazing. How did you approach the role of Sally?
I thought everybody in Germany looked like Marlene Dietrich. I thought "I'm going to pluck out all my eyebrows and dye my hair blonde." I went to my father, like I usually did, and he showed me all those great stars from the '20s. I saw Louise Brooks and my hair was brunette.
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