The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on June 20, 1980 · 103
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 103

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Friday, June 20, 1980
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FRIDAYCALENDAR LOS ANGELES TIMES JUNE 20, 1980 PART VI TIMES PHOTO BV TONY BARNARD MARTIN BERNHEIMER BARYSHNIKOV'S PLANS FOR BALLET THEATER For months, balletomanes have been having a wonderful time. They have shed oceans of tears some crocodile-oriented over the imminent departure of Lucia Chase as materfamilias of American Ballet Theater. They have told each other, and told her too, that a glorious era was ending, that noble service had been extended, that universal gratitude was imperative. Then they turned, with equal parts curiosity, eagerness, malice, trepidation and optimism, to Misha. Misha, of course is Mikhail. Mikhail Baryshnikov. The flying superman-poet from the Kirov. The defecting matinee idol who also dabbles in moviesah, "Turning Point"! and slick TV most recently a tacky-silly-pretentious salute to Broadway that everyone, apart from this iconoclast, simply adored. Misha, the Rudolf Nureyev of ballet, may want to be the Gene Kelly of show biz, but for the moment he is the director-elect of American Ballet Theater. The 32-year-old hero, contemplating a turning point of his own, is about to become an impresario. Wisely, Baryshnikov did not want to talk about his intentions until plans, for the first season at least, were reasonably firm. This led to a lot of speculation: Misha was going to transform American Ballet Theater into Russian Ballet Theater, Misha was going to use the company strictly as a showcase for his own talents, Misha was going to ignore four decades of ABT advances and create an ensemble from scratch with an all-new repertory . . . Now, at last, comes the official word on the first Baryshnikov season. It sounds sane, and cautious not scandalous. Some of the balletomanes STAGE REVIEW 'MIXED NUTS' A MIXED BAG By DAN SULLIVAN Times Theater Critic ixed Nuts" some stale, some fresh. The new amusement at the Coronet Theater brings back the small-cast Hollywood revue of the 1940s and 1950s. It is brisk and good-natured, more or less aware of the times (the jogging number, the OPEC number), and over by 10:15. The merest blip on the day's attention screen. This beats some of our downtown musicals, which send us home too tired to sleep. "Mixed Nuts" has energy and sociability, or at least its cast of six does. It would be fun to have drinks with them after the show. As for the material mixed. There are two dozen songs and sketches, the songs mostly by Morris Bobrow, the sketches by Bobrow and Gerald Nachman of the San Francisco Chronicle. (Another edition of the show has had a nice run up north.) The mix divides this way: (1) Good numbers. (2) Bad numbers. (3) Good ideas for numbers, that don't know where to go. In Category One, you would have to list a song called "Faithful Followers." This has Rebecca Gilchrist, in babushka, loyally waiting for her old boyfriend Karel to get through with being Pope John Paul II, and to come home to her. No matter how long it takes, Karel . . . I'll be there. Gilchrist delivers this with shiningly dull sincerity, in the manner of one of those 1950s dirges about train wrecks on prom night, and a chorus of Krakow rockers goes doo-wah behind her. The number is dumb, sweet and funny. Category Two, the losers, includes but it depends on one's taste. The dildo duet, using Japanese umbrellas, didn't do a lot for me, but at Wednesday night's opening there were screams. Perhaps we all would have agreed that "Love May Not Be There" was where "Mixed Nuts" hit INSIDE CALENDAR ART: Louis Monza at Barn-sdall Park by Suzanne Much-nic. Page 2. San Francisco cancels exhibition. Page 2. FILM: "Can't Stop the Music" by Mary Kerner and Sheila Benson. Pages 12 and 13. "Vengeance Is Mine" by Kevin Thomas. Page 15. will be disappointed. The Baryshnikov repertory, at the outset at least, will be eclectic. Antony Tudor, a Ballet Theater stalwart virtually from the start, will be represented with a new production of "Dim Lustre," a work he created for the company 37 years ago. So much for Misha turning his back on the past. George Balanchine, who became Baryshnikov's mentor during a brief and turbulent period when the dancer defected from ABT to the New York City Ballet, will be represented with two classic works: "La Sonnambula" (1946) and "The Prodigal Son" (192950). They will be the first Balanchine additions to the Ballet Theater repertory in 33 years. Paul Taylor, the modern-dance choreographer, will contribute "Airs," a bit of Handeliana originally set on his own company two years ago. Capitalizing, perhaps, on the sudden upsurge of interest in Nijinsky, Baryshnikov who once intended to make a film of his own about Diaghi-lev's favorite dancer has scheduled a production of "The Afternoon of a Faun." It remains to be seen whether it will include the infamous mastur-batory finale, and whether Baryshnikov will impersonate the Faun. George de la Pena presumably will be available. Retained from the current repertory will be the inevitable full-length box-office bonanzas: "Swan Lake," "Giselle," "Nutcracker," "La Bayadere" and "Don Quixote." "Nutcracker" and "Don Q." are, of course, Baryshnikov productions. Also scheduled to survive are familiar works of Agnes de Mille, Fokine, Eugene Lor- Please Turn to Page 10 the pits. It is a mood ballad, a somewhat updated version of one of those 3 o'clock-in-the-morning numbers that Jeri Southern used to sing; but so totally commonplace that you figure it's got to be a setup. Singer Stacy Shaffer's cocktail dress will split down the middle, or a chicken will walk out of the wings. But no, that's it. Or at least that was it on Wednesday night. Maybe the chicken missed his cue. Category Three is the most frequent and the saddest, for there are ideas in this show. The OPEC number mentioned above, for instance. It is really about "NOPEC," the Non-Oil Producing Nations, with "nothing below our soil but more soil." Michael Byers, Joey D'Auria and Paul Keith come out in long faces and caftans, and we're smiling already. But it turns out to be a Non-Producing Number, running more on the performers' good will than on any development of that first nifty idea. "Mixed Nuts" proves more conclusively than any other revue in memory that even a tiny sketch has to have a second act. Happily, "Mixed Nuts" has another category material that's not so terrific in itself but that clever performers can build into something delightful. The prime example is "It's Your Move," in which a traveling salesman calls up a call girl to come over to his hotel and play with him. Play chess, that is it is his kink. (She brings her board with her: She's had customers like this before.) You give this sketch about two minutes, but Connie Day and Joey D'Auria take it all the way. She's the happy hooker who really likes people; you can tell from her little hum. He's the scared square determined, this once, to really live. Check-maaate! Another pure performer's moment comes when Paul Keith tastes a bit of Please Turn to Page 16 JAZZ: Playboy Jazz Festival lineup. Page 6. OPENINGS: Page 10. STAGE: Stage Beat by John C. Mahoney. Page 17. "The Difference Between Us" by Lawrence Christon. Page 16. TELEVISION: "The Lunts: A Life in the Theater" by Cecil Smith. Page 25. Mikhail Baryshnikov, the heroic dancer-turned-impresario, isn't going to The ruthless joke around Hollywood has been that "The Blues Brothers" should have been called "1942," homage to the earlier work which similarly suffered from swollen glands and whose director, Steven Spielberg, does a cameo as an assessor's clerk in this one. Like "1941," "The Blues Brothers" is said to have cost well in excess of $30 million. It destroys more real property than any other event since the bombing of Dresden and all by itself it solves Detroit's inventory problem by totaling enough automobiles to transport four Army divisions and the cast of "Ben-Hur." Unlike "1941," "The Blues Brothers" has claims on the attention of those entranced millions who fall about hysterically in the presence of "Saturday Night Live." It will need their repeated endorsements to earn back any fraction of the cost, because the movie's claims on the attention of anyone who doesn't see John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as major comic talents are sparse. I'm not sure that "The Blues Brothers" even shows off Belushi and Aykroyd to full advantage. The script, for which Aykroyd shares responsibility with director John Gilbert Cates, from left, Nell Cox, omen have, to say the least, been underem ployed as directors in the entertainment industry. We want to do our best to solve this inequity." Statistic: In the past 30 years, only 23 women have been employed as directors in prime-time television. "Despite the odds, a growing number of women are coming into the industry." Statistic: In the past 30 years, only seven women have directed feature films released by major motion picture companies. -These are the comments and figures presented by the women's committee of the Directors Guild of America following a one-year study. The findings were given to the media on Thursday at DGA headquarters on Sunset Boulevard and, in a meeting the day before, to a cross-section of television and motion picture executives. The committee is calling for a voluntary affirmative-action program to help secure greater opportunities for women as directors. Among the executives who re- CRITIC 'BLUES': A $30-MILLION WRECK, MINUS LAUGHS By CHARLES CHAMPLIN Times Arts Editor Landis, puts its stars in porkpie hats, impenetrably dark glasses and lumpy black suits and feeds them such starvation diets of dialogue that they seem to be trying, and failing, to make it up as they go along. Watching them I kept thinking of those god-awful movies out of the '30s when Hollywood tried to pick up on the popularity of radio stars by putting them in front of cameras instead of microphones. The W.C. Fields "Big Broadcast" was an exception, but what we have here is not Fields but a sort of stereo Joe Penner. In truth, "The Blues Brothers" is an improvement on "1941," although far less technically inspired or cine-matically expert. But when the two principals step aside, taking their lumpish and unremarkable characterizations with them, real and serenely Lynne Littman, Susan Bay and Dolores Ferraro offer study findings by WHERE ARE THE WOMEN DIRECTORS? By LEE GRANT Times Staff Writer ceived the packet of statistics were Barry Diller, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Paramount; Ned Tanen, president, Universal Pictures; Frank Wells, president and co-chief executive officer, Warner Bros.; Ethel Winant, vice president, mini-series, NBC; Edward Masket, executive vice president, administration, Columbia Pictures; Peter Andrews, executive vice president, television division, MGM; Mar-cie Carsey, senior vice president, prime-time series, ABC, and Claire Townsend, vice president, production, features, 20th Century-Fox. Those speaking for the women's committee were Susan Bay, Nell Cox, -Joelle Dobrow, Dolores Ferraro, Victoria Hochberg, Lynne Littman, Paula Marcus and Carol Smetana, all with some credits particularly in tele ' transform American Ballet Theater AT LARGE talented people take center stage and the film comes warmly alive. These are musicians Cab Calloway doing "Minnie the Moocher" as if to break every nostalgic heart in the place, Aretha Franklin singing up a storm and providing a nice sassy cameo besides, and John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles and James Cleveland's terrific gospel choir. I have no doubt they're on hand because Belushi, Aykroyd & Company are fans, too. The perplexing question is why the boys opted for their mucker poses and a kind of leaden anarchism that is about as amusing as watching the NBC peacock on a black and white set. They might have joined the fun earlier and stayed later and come up with a film that was all human energy instead of a pretentious show-off of mechanical energy vision. The comments to the press were made as a group. "We are trying and failing to get hired. We are stymied while training and overtraining around the edges." Statistic: Of 65,500 prime-time television hours produced since 1949, women directed 115 hours, 35 of those by Ida Lupino. "These statistics are frightening and strike fear in the hearts of those who seek to become directors." Statistics: From Jan. I, 1978, through July l, 1979; only one of 78 theatrical features released by major studios was directed by a woman. "We have few role models and no Halls of Fame. We're often simply told, women are not qualified." Statistic: Between 1949 and 1979, seven women directed 14 theatrical into Russian Ballet Theater after all. and conspicuous consumption. Despite the temporary lift that the old pros give the picture, it is difficult for the non-cultist to feel anything but dismay, again, that so much has been squandered to produce so little that is truly artful or genuinely entertaining. There is almost nothing of the animal-high spirit of "Animal House" and none of the manic invention of, say, "Blazing Saddles." It is, unquestionably, a generation picture, aimed at the young and sour in heart who are perceived by the substance of "The Blues Brothers" to be nihilist in their contempt for everything except possibly a battered and unlikely survival. (The appeal of the musical stars must not be simply music but the fact they are born survivors.) Sociologists may find it significant (or confusing) that "The Blues Brothers" is so singularly unromantic or anti-sexual. Carrie Fisher is on hand as a spurned girlfriend trying to bomb Belushi off the face of the earth (a conceit that is somehow characteristically unrewarding). Twiggy shows up briefly as an English visitor improbably drawn to but abandoned or forgotten by him. Except, again. Please Turn tn Page ; TIMES PHOTO BY LARRY DAVIS Directors Guild women's committee. features. "We've managed all-male crews, delivered non-prime-time work on schedule, the documentary, the dramatic shows for public television. Why can't we get into the networks?" Statistic: The 23 top-rated TV series hired only three women directors for the period Jan. 1, 1978, through July 1, 1979. Of 117 movies for television, there was one woman director. (Incidentally, 654 women are members of the Directors Guild of America and 5,338 men.) "Out of the AFI, USC, UCLA, NYU comes a 23-year-old young fellow who gets to immediately do two hours of episodic television and a chance for more but not a 23-year-old young woman." Statistic: For the period Jan. 1. 1978, to July 1, 1979, only "Laverne and Shirley," "The Waltons" and "Family" used a woman director for at least one episode. "Eight Is Enough," for instance, employed 65 male directors, no women; "CHiPS" used 49 directors, no women; "Vegas" 48 directors, no women; "Quincy" 45 Please Turn to Page is i

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