Adele for the hat trick
Minneapolis-born fashion photographer Erik Madigan Heck capped an already successful year with his cover portrait of a red-cloaked and lipsticked Adele for Time magazine's Dec. 21 issue. The New York-based camera whiz has worked for the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and British Vogue, so he was well prepped for his session with the singer whose new album, "25," has sold more than 6 million in the United States alone. "Adele doesn't ever wear colors," said Heck, 32, who was in the Twin Cities for the holidays with his wife, Brianna, a children's book illustrator, and their 3-month-old son, Felix. "Time covers have a red border so I wanted her to wear red against a dark blue background. So getting her into that red jacket was important. I feel she looks empowered and sincere. She's definitely like an old Hollywood-looking beauty." It was Heck's third big cover this fall. "We shot Nicki Minaj for the New York Times magazine and Lupita Nyong'o for the Guardian in London. Adele was the hat trick for 2015. It's been a good year."
Tune of the century
A sharp contrast to the rest of her dramatic and musically lofty two-hour performance, Joanna Newsom's sold-out show last week at the Fitzgerald turned surprisingly informal six songs in when she stopped and asked the crowd, "How do you guys feel about tuning?" Of course, the California singer/songwriter wasn't referring to tuning a standard six-string guitar, but rather her 47-string harp. As she tediously plucked away, she invited questions from the crowd, which ranged from "Who made your dress?" (Michael Van Der Ham) to "What's your favorite Kendrick Lamar song?" ("Money Tree") to "Have you ever played one of your husband's songs on harp?" (no, but she loves other harpists' covers of her "SNL"-alum hubby Andy Samberg's tunes). Finally, as the Q&A dragged on for a good 10 minutes, a gentleman in the balcony asked this all-too-obvious question: "How long does it take to tune a harp?"
Rock me, Amadeus
The Minnesota Orchestra lockout may have ended nearly two years ago, but it's still meriting Hollywood references. In the second-season premiere of "Mozart in the Jungle," available for streaming on Amazon Dec. 30, the first violinist for the fictional New York Symphony confronts a lawyer with his fears of a possible strike. "I just hope we don't get into a situation like in Minnesota," says the worrywart, played by Joel Bernstein. "I was in that orchestra. We were out of work for a year and a half." The attorney, played by Gretchen Mol, does her best to alleviate his concern. "That's because somebody screwed up," says Mol in a script written and directed by Paul Weitz ("Grandma," "American Pie")."We're not going to do that here." Maybe not, but the Minnesota ordeal weighs heavily on the musician, so much so that, in a later episode, he tries to pull off a desperate scheme straight out of a Coen brothers' movie — a crime that Osmo Vänskä might find unforgivable.
It was a big year for Jamaica-born novelist Marlon James, associate professor at Macalester College. Not only did he win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, the Booker Prize, but this month he was named to the Financial Times' Best Dressed List. A highly eclectic — not to say eccentric — collection of trendsetters, the list includes a slew of international fashionistas, Kendall Jenner of the Kardashian clan, Justin Bieber for dressing "so badly he looked quite brilliant," Patti Smith for her "androgynous uniform" and "political glamourpuss" Hillary Clinton. About James, the FT said: "With his dreadlocks, sweats and Adidas hoodies, James is just as arresting in person as his powerful patois-driven prose."M.A.
BNLX does EODM
On hiatus in recent months as co-leaders Ed and Ashley Ackerson welcomed the birth of their daughter, BNLX came roaring back to life in an extra-meaningful way last week. The Minneapolis-based fuzz-rockers were one of dozens — and maybe hundreds — of bands worldwide to record and post their own version of Eagles of Death Metal's "I Love You All the Time." EODM drummer Josh Homme floated the idea for new versions of the song to be released as a Play It Forward charity single to benefit victims of last month's terror attack when the band played Paris' Bataclan theater. Kings of Leon, Florence + the Machine and My Morning Jacket have also rerecorded it. In a note accompanying their powerful version (on BNLX's SoundCloud page), Ed Ackerson wrote, "When that attack happened, we really felt it in a visceral way, knowing that it could have been any of us in that audience or on that stage."C.R.
The behind-the-scenes drama at WUCW, Ch. 23, may not be as titillating as "Jane the Virgin," but the local CW affiliate has a new captain. Tom Burke, a longtime sales and account executive at the station, has been named station manager, combining duties previously overseen by the general manager and general sales manager. Previous GM Paula Peden, who joined WUCW in 2012, was let go six weeks ago. Fun fact: Burke's brother Jim Burke Jr. is an Oscar-nominated producer whose credits include George Clooney's "The Descendants" and the upcoming film "Wilson," shot in Minnesota last summer with Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.