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Posts about Behind the scenes

Minnesota Orchestra board elects Warren Mack as new chair

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: February 19, 2015 - 4:55 PM

Warren Mack succeeds Gordon Sprenger as board chair of the Minnesota Orchestra, the state's largest arts organization.

Warren Mack, a partner at the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, has been elected chairman of the board of directors of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Mack thanked the community at large for its support of the orchestra and said, "In return, the musicians, Osmo [artistic director Osmo Vanska], the staff and the board pledge to give you some of the most exciting music in America.” 

Mack succeeds Gordon Sprenger, who he credited with helping the orchestra's management and musicians reunite after a bitter 16-month lockout over labor disputes. Allen Lenzmeier, who was to have succeeded Sprenger, had to withdraw over health issues.

Mack has served on many for-profit and nonprofit boards, including Buffalo Wild Wings, North Memorial Health Care, Madeline Island Music Camp, and the Michael Steinberg & Jorja Fleezanis Fund for Music. He has experience on nearly all of the orchestra board's committees, most recently co-chairing, with Principal Trombone Douglas Wright, the Liaison Committee, a  group of musicians, staff and board formed immediately following the labor dispute.  An Orchestra subscriber for more than forty years, Mack is also a pilot and an amateur cellist.

Mack said that he and his wife, former Star Tribune architecture critic Linda Mack, “appreciate our world-class orchestra's sound delivered by Orchestra Hall's unbeatable acoustics. We bought our first season tickets in 1969 and sat in the top balcony of Northrop Auditorium, where we could hear some of the music some of the time and vaguely see Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s arms waving in the distance.  Now we sit in the third row where we feel intimately connected with Osmo and the musicians.  Every concert is a thrill.”

20 facts Oscar doesn't want you to know

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 19, 2015 - 3:26 PM
Cate Blanchett at the red carpet in the 2014 Oscar gown that cost -- HOW MUCH???!!! Photo: Associated Press

Cate Blanchett at the red carpet in the 2014 Oscar gown that cost -- HOW MUCH???!!! Photo: Associated Press

The Academy Awards are a battle royal not only amid performers and filmmakers, but between sources desperate for attention and insiders wanting privacy. Many a question about the competition receives a routine “Mind your own business.” Thanks to the efforts of several publications digging into movie data and statistics, however, it’s become harder for Oscar to keep all his secrets. Here are 20 behind the scenes insights to carry you through Sunday’s mêlée. (Special thanks to Stephen Follows, creator of the movie data site stephenfollows.com, and sources Variety; Los Angeles Times; The Guardian; Huffington Post; awards-tracking website goldderby.com and boxofficemojo.com.)

1) Oscar voters are 94% white, 77% male with a median age of 62. 

2) In recent years November or December releases account for 56% of best picture nominees. Most winners tend to be released in October and November. In the Oscars’ 86 year history only 22 best picture winners have been released between January and July. July has never produced a best picture-winning film. 

3) The cost of a best picture winning Oscar campaign is around $10 million in elaborate packaging, publicists, and parties.

4) Half the money spent on Oscar campaigns goes to advertising.

5) A Page One ad in the L.A.-based entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter during Oscar season costs $72,000.

6) "Crash," 2005's surprise best picture winner spent $250,000 distributing DVD screeners to the entire membership of the Screen Actors Guild.

7) Average price of a DVD mailer: $3. 

8) It costs an average of $3,500 to prepare a Hollywood actress for the red carpet. Cate Blanchett’s Armani Prive ensemble with diamond jewels cost approximately $18 million.

9) Oscar nominated films earn an average of $12.7 million more than films not nominated

10) A best picture Oscar (occurring at the end of a film’s theater release cycle) is worth $3 million in increased box office gross.

11) A Golden Globe (occurring earlier) is worth $14.2 million.

12) The non-financial benefits to studios of an Oscar best picture are worth $7 million.

13) Best actor winners can expect a $3.9 million salary increase.

14) Best actress winner salaries receive an extra $500,000. 

15) Just four movies have won the best picture Oscar without also receiving a best director nomination:  "Wings" (1928), "Grand Hotel" (1932), "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and "Argo" (2013). 

16) Oscar nominees tend not to dominate ticket sales. The nine films up for 2014 best picture ranked 6th to 117th in the 2013 U.S. box office chart.
6th – “Gravity” (total gross: $274 million)
17th – “American Hustle” ($150 million)
29th – “The Wolf of Wall Street” ($116 million)
32nd – “Captain Phillips” ($107 million)
65th – “12 Years a Slave” (best picture winner, $56 million)
80th – “Philomena” ($37 million)
94th – “Dallas Buyers Club” ($27 million)
98th – “Her” ($25 million)
117th – “Nebraska,” ($17 million)

17) Dramas are most likely to be nominated and to win, though in the last decade the genre has seen a decline. Romance, the most popular when the Oscars began in the late 1920s, now receives fewer nominations, despite a brief revival in the 1990s with “The English Patient” (1996), “Titanic” (1997) and the part love story “Forrest Gump” (1994). 

18) Public relations consultants for film studios earn from $10,000 to $15,000, with bonuses of $20,000 for each nomination or win.

19) Hollywood spends approximately $150 million dollars annually to win an Oscar. 

20 ) Cost  to manufacture an Oscar:  $400. 

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden art to be relocated during $10M renovation

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: February 12, 2015 - 1:42 PM


Frank Gehyr's "Glass Fish" sculpture in the Cowles Conservatory at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; image provided by Walker Art Center

Art from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will be stored or shown at other Twin Cities museums and parks during the garden's $10 million renovation starting in June 2015.

Five of the garden's 40 sculptures, all owned by Walker Art Center, will be loaned to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, or the Gold Medal Park adjacent to theGuthrie Theater near the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The remainder will be placed in storage during the 18 month renovation.

Three of the loaned sculptures will be transplanted to Gold Medal Park:

1) Brower Hatcher's "Prophecy of the Ancients (1988)," a circle of pillars surmounted by a domed mesh- canopy studded with astrological symbols and glyphs; 2) Mark di Suvero's "Molecule (1977-83)," a wide-legged steel tripod painted bright red; 3) Tony Cragg's "Ordovician Pore (1989)" consisting of metal funnels, rough  balls and a bent droplet cascading over the edge of a stone base.

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will take in Jacques Lipchitz's "Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II (1944/1953), and the Weisman Art Museum will house Frank Gehry's "Standing Glass Fish (1986)."

The Gehry sculpture, which is presently the centerpiece of the Sculpture Garden's Cowles Conservatory and palm house, is expected to be displayed inside the Weisman whose building was designed by the Los Angeles architect.

The loans are renewable annually for up to five years, after which the agreements will be reevaulated.

The Minnesota legislature has approved $8.5 million to renovate and upgrade the 11 acre garden's infrastructure including irrigation, drainage, walkways, retaining walls and other features. The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization chipped in an additional up to $1.5 million for storm-water-management-systems on the site.

The renovation money went  to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board which owns the land on which the park sits. Walker Art Center, the adjacent contemporary art organization, owns the sculptures and will pay for their storage, maintenance and relocation costs in conjunction with the temporary hosts of the art.

Grammy leftovers: Notes & quotes from backstage & pretelecast

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: February 9, 2015 - 4:00 AM

Sam Smith meets the press at the end of his big Grammy night

Sam Smith meets the press at the end of his big Grammy night

Grammy leftovers from the print media room backstage and pre-telecast:

When asked what kind of music he likes, Super Bowl-winning Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman hemmed and hawed. “EDM, alternative, classic rock,” he said. Then asked what Patriots coach Bill Belicheck likes, he responded without hesitation: “Bon Jovi.”

Grammy CEO Neil Portnow said he had no idea that Bob Dylan was going to give a long speech on Friday night at MusiCares. He said the Grammys would explore the possibilities of releasing the concert and the speech on DVD but all record labels and artists have to OK it.

Weird Al Yankovic said he would not seek out Prince to ask if he could do a parody of Prince songs. He tried to do that in the 1980s a few times and Prince said “no.” Al said he’d like to hang out with Prince, though. “Maybe we could go bowling or play Parcheesi. I’m up for that.”

Asked if they were upset that “Let It Go” didn’t receive a nomination in song of the year or record of the year category, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, a two-time winner on Sunday for co-writing that song with her husband Robert Lopez, said” “It would seem really douche-y.” Not one to always hold her tongue, she said the working title at first for the now celebrated song was “Elsa’s Bad Ass Song.”

Theo Friesen, 10, son of longtime A&M Records chairman,Gil Friesen, accepted the Grammy for best music film for “20 Feet From Stardom.” Friesen, who died in 2012, produced the film. Theo read his speech, saying his dad had three goals for the project: “1. Have fun. 2. Don’t lose money. And: 3. Win an Oscar. He did all those. This Grammy is special because it comes from the music world, which was close to his heart.”

Rosanne Cash won her first Grammys “since Reagan was president.” That was in 1985. Lisa Fischer also had a long wait between Grammys. Her first was in 1991 for her debut hit “How Can I Ease the Pain,” and she won again Sunday for “20 Feet From Stardom.”

Johnny Winter and Joan Rivers both won their first Grammys on Sunday -- posthumously.

With two trophies on Sunday, Beyonce now has 20, ranking second among women. Alison Krauss has collected 27.

Jazz singer Dianne Reeves explained what winning her fifth Grammy means. “Everyone says four-time Grammy winner – now five – when they introduce you [in concert]. But you still gotta come with it.”

John Waters, the film director with a funny bone, said during the pre-telecast that “I will be lip-syncing the name of every person after I open the envelope.” Maybe he should have. He called Pharrell Williams “Farrell.”

Dylan's words in song, speech made for historic night at Grammy benefit

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: February 7, 2015 - 11:24 AM

LOS ANGELES — Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, Jack White and a parade of superstars sang Bob Dylan’s famous words. But it was the words that Dylan uttered himself in an extraordinary, unprecedented, nearly 40-minute straightforward speech about his career, process and critics that made the Grammys’ MusiCares gala Friday night such an historic event.

After former President Jimmy Carter introduced Dylan by talking about how they met during the singer’s Christian period and had discussions about religion and world peace, Dylan shook hands, accepted a trophy and posed for a quick photo. Then he leaned into the podium, a handful of papers in his left hand and read a speech that was at turns insightful, scorching and humorous. It was probably the longest public speech about himself that the fiercely private music icon has given in his career.

Wearing a dark suit, bolo tie and dark brown curls, Dylan spoke clearly to a sold-out audience of 3,000 who helped raise $7 million for MusiCares, Grammy’s charity wing that helps musicians in need. (Newly handwritten lyrics to his “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” sold for $100,000 in a live auction.) Dylan explained that he appreciated how MusiCares had helped one of his heroes-turned-friend, Billy Lee Riley who had the 1957 hit “Red Hot,” with health needs, mortgage payments and living expenses for the last several years of his life.

Not only did Dylan lobby for Riley’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he responded to his detractors, including songwriters and critics. In a speaking voice devoid of Dylanesque rasp and arch, he complained why critics complain about the range of his voice but not about Lou Reed’s or Leonard Cohen’s. He dissed songwriters Tom T. Hall and the team of Leiber and Stoller because they had spoken unfavorably of him.

But Dylan didn’t really come just to unright wrongs, he wanted to thank MusiCares for helping Riley and to thank the 18 singers who interpreted his songs. He also thanked pivotal people in his career including talent scout John Hammond, Joan Baez, Nina Simone and the trio of Peter, Paul & Mary. He also wanted to explain himself in ways that has never been as crystal clear in interviews or even his 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Vol. 1.”

Trying to shed light on his songwriting process, he cited several favorite songs that were drilled into his mind such as “Key to the Highway” and “John Henry” and how they inspired lines of his own songs such as “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” respectively.

About Peter, Paul & Mary’s version of “Blowin’ in the Wind,” he said: “It’s not the way I would have done it. They straightened it out.” He said the pop success the Byrds and the Turtles had with his songs were “like commercials. I didn’t mind that. Fifty years later my songs are being used in commercials.”

The night was also about his music. Dylan chose the various performers and what songs they would sing, MusiCares senior vice president Kristen Madsen explained in an interview before the event. But unlike all but one of the previous 24 MusiCares honorees, he didn’t perform. (Neither did Pavarotti, who cited illness.) Also he didn’t really attend the show but rather watched on monitors in a TV truck outside the Convention Center.

Beck kicked off the 2½-hour program with an aggressive tribal blues treatment of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Los Lobos gave “On a Night Like This” a Mexican flavor with some verses in Spanish set to a uptempo party vibe. After a false start because he couldn’t read the TelePrompter at the back of the arena-long ballroom, Willie Nelson eventually delivered a simmering “Senor.”

Jackson Browne offered the obscure gem “Blind Willie McTell” on a revolving stage in the middle of the room.Performing on a stage decorated with the chandeliers and old-movie spotlights that Dylan has been using on his current tour, Jack White spiked “One More Cup of Coffee” with some lacerating guitar. Tom Jones gave a reverent reading of “What Good Am I.” Springsteen contrasted quiet singing on “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” with roaring guitars, from both him and Tom Morello.

Norah Jones went totally Texas on the jazzy, sexy “I’ll be Your Baby Tonight” with some musical flirting courtesy of harmonica ace Mickey Raphael from Nelson’s band. Raitt put the heartache in “Standing in the Doorway.” Crosby, Stills & Nash harmonized on “Girl from the North Country.”

There were a few efforts that fell short. Aaron Neville didn’t sound emotionally invested in “Shooting Star,” Alanis Morissette couldn’t keep up with the tongue-twisting pace of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and John Doe got out-sung by the female backup singers on “Pressing On.” There were taped tributes from Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Garth Brooks.

The musical high point in a night of many highlights was probably John Mellencamp’s interpretation of “Highway 61 Revisited”; with a vocal tone and timbre that channeled Tom Waits’, he made this usually scorching rocker into a blues dirge. Never has Mellencamp sounded so artful.

And never has Dylan been so talkative about himself in public. 


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