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Music Review: Australian Voices Focuses on Music From Home

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 28 Juni 2013 | 16.43

It was hard to know what to admire most in the New York debut of the Australian Voices on Wednesday evening, the music itself often being the least of it. Six singers, representing the larger group based in Brisbane, performed at West Park Presbyterian Church in the Center at West Park program, conducted and sometimes joined by their artistic director, Gordon Hamilton, in a fast-paced concert with a heavy representation of Australian and new music, some with the pages barely dry.

Most of the new music and arrangements were written by members of the group or composers close to it, back home and in New York, with an obvious ear to the overall beauty of the voices and the specific talents of individual singers. The music played to their abilities — one singer using throat-singing, evoking the grumbly didgeridoo; another, overtone singing to produce two pitches at once, one of them an eerie but lovely whistling sound — and to the virtuosity of all.

Not least remarkable was that the performances were done from memory: this in works that had nonsensical texts or that set mere initials and numbers, as in Mr. Hamilton's "Toy Story 3 = Awesome!" and "Initialize." And some of the music had been finished just days before.

One composer, Ralph Farris, the violist of the string quartet Ethel, played in several pieces, including his own "Inner Landscape," along with Dorothy Lawson, Ethel's cellist. Another, Joseph Twist, an Australian living in New York, sang along in three numbers.

A segment of folk songs arranged by members of the choir included "Shenandoah," a nod to America, segueing into "Waltzing Matilda," a genuflection to Australia. Here, as everywhere, the performances were captivating, but the music was somewhat overarranged and somewhat denatured, the earthy tunes awash in ethereal counterpoint.

For the rest, the music was mostly entertaining on some level and occasionally edifying. But the evening rose to a different plane altogether at the end, with the glorious "Ave Maria" by the 20th-century German composer Franz Biebl.

Even here things were tricked up a bit, with a companion piece from Mr. Twist, "Ave Madonna," setting fragments from Madonna's "Like a Virgin." But when it led into the Biebl, it was as if the gates of heaven had opened.

And after this, you thought, no encore could possibly measure up. The Australian Voices proved differently with an equally stunning account of "Bogoroditse Devo" ("Rejoice, O Virgin") from Rachmaninoff's "Vespers."

The group's Web site (theaustralianvoices.com) is rich in performance videos, including one of the Rachmaninoff. Prominent there also is Mr. Hamilton's "Nine Cutest Things That Ever Happened," an Internet sensation built on another, Jack Shepherd's photo essay on BuzzFeed, "The 50 Cutest Things That Ever Happened."

With this group, it seems, for a little sublime, you get a lot of ridiculous.

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Movie Review: ‘Petunia’ Stars Christine Lahti and Thora Birch

Ironclad Productions

Christine Lahti and Tobias Segal in "Petunia," directed by Ash Christian.

"Petunia" is a comedy with an enticing cast led by Thora Birch, but the Petunia family at the center of it isn't cheery and welcoming like the flower. The Petunias are colorful, yet they're also off-putting.

It's possible to make a great movie out of family dysfunction, but this one is too short on insight to rank with the best of the genre. The Petunia parents (Christine Lahti and David Rasche, in the film's best performances), are both therapists of some kind, but their own relationship has deteriorated, and their three sons all have issues as well.

For the screenwriters, Ash Christian (who also directed) and Theresa Bennett, every problem comes down to sex. The parents don't have it, and their sons have either too much of it or not enough. This view was original once, but today it seems too easy. A good dysfunctional-family movie, even a comedy, has more depth.

Charlie (Tobias Segal) is gay but abstinent, for reasons only hinted at. Michael (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has just married Vivian (Ms. Birch), though it's not clear why, since there is no affection between them. She turns out to be carrying a baby that might be Adrian's (Jimmy Heck), the third brother.

The movie takes everything pretty slowly, as if trying to give the actors their moments, but the material warrants the deliberate pacing only intermittently.

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Movie Review: ‘The Secret Disco Revolution’ Has a Political Subtext

Derek Rogers

Gloria Gaynor in "The Secret Disco Revolution."

"The Secret Disco Revolution," however limited, is one smart documentary. It's so clever that it makes fun of itself with a mock connecting narrative, a tongue-in-cheek glue of three wordless "masterminds" (fictional, of course) who, step by surreptitious and magical step, conquer the Billboard charts to forge the disco movement. That complements a couple of real scholars who opine about the genre as proof of a rising and healthy feminist and gay counterculture, subverting a rock scene dominated by white men.

And further, the film has actual stars of disco — Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston, K. C. of "and the Sunshine Band" and the Village People, among others — offering their memories and theories, although all are a bit perplexed by the documentary's suggestion that their music was political. To them, it was simple hedonism.

Now hedonism isn't only simple, and the disco movement — especially its high times in the late '70s — did have inherent, and changing, sociopolitical subtexts, whatever the artists' and producers' intentions. The interplay of all these elements of the film, directed by Jamie Kastner, is intelligent, useful, creative and fittingly cheesy.

But while it's often funny, the fun is muted. Many performances aren't so flashy; the archival footage, honorably authentic, is grimy and plain. And while disco music may press nostalgia buttons today, that 4-4 time and repetitive beat were thin before they reached the self-parody days of "Disco Duck."

The appealing underground feel of "The Secret Disco Revolution" doesn't get around that truth. Faddish taste may be interesting for some, but for others it will devolve into the banal, as cultural history as well as entertainment.

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Dance Review: Shantala Shivalingappa’s ‘Akasha’ Finds Physical Precision

NEW HAVEN — A quaking hand, illuminated, is the first glimpse we get of the exquisite Indian dancer Shantala Shivalingappa in her solo program "Akasha." We hear a voice — Ms. Shivalingappa's, recorded — and it also wavers. Singing is what she does least well. Her voice and her smile, which soon appears, are sweet and humble, but the show, which received its American premiere at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas here on Wednesday, only gets better.

Already, in this first dance of invocation, it is remarkable: the lines and bends of Ms. Shivalingappa's slender figure, the transporting sounds from the singer, flutist and two percussionists. Born in Chennai and raised in Paris, Ms. Shivalingappa is an expert in Kuchipudi, a South Indian classical form.

In the second number, she adds storytelling. Her springy jump immediately evokes Krishna as a child. The reactions of the other characters she plays remind us that he is also a god.

And the rhythms: not showy but continually surprising, like jazz. The percussionists (B. P. Haribabu and N. Ramakrishnan) are credited with "rhythmical creation," but Ms. Shivalingappa's embodiment goes beyond exact synchrony. The way she lifts her foot before slapping it down is like a breath. She pounces on the beat, surprising it. "Akasha" means "space," and the space she puts around rhythms clarifies them, just as her physical precision clarifies her shapes.

In the third number, personifying the mother goddess Durga, she is less compelling representing the goddess's fearful aspects — the burning eyes, the mimed weapons — than when showing her soft side. Sitting on her heels, she runs in little steps, and her knees bob in a rhythm so perfect it's comical, one instance among many of how her amazing strength enables lightness and delicacy.

When she dances on a copper plate, in Kuchipudi tradition, her scooching around the stage resembles surfing. Yet when she steps off the plate, it's a relief. With a wider stance, her bends grow deep again, the footwork is freed, the jump returns.

Miming the story of a woman confronting her unfaithful god of a husband, Ms. Shivalingappa at first establishes the woman's sorrow and loneliness. But after the husband shows up, peacocking, she lays into him, and it's delicious. Even her slapping feet are sarcastic. As her hands clap sneeringly, she bounces from side to side.

At the start of each of the evening's five dances, the musicians play by themselves: a rest for Ms. Shivalingappa that's also a welcome rest for the eye. The final dance starts with a thrilling drum duet, hands flying, and when Ms. Shivalingappa appears, in silhouette, one of her hands is fluttering again, representing Shiva in destructive form beating a sacred drum.

The rhythm transfers to her quick feet and her swiveling torso, sitting into one hip and then the other. Her hops into squats are huge, and everything is fiercer, wilder, almost possessed. The final image is of another shaking hand, but the nice girl of the beginning? She's only a memory.

Shantala Shivalingappa appears through Friday at the Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, 177 College Street, New Haven; (203) 562-5666 498-1212, artidea.org. The program repeats at Jacob's Pillow, July 3-7.

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Movie Review: ‘How to Make Money Selling Drugs’ Takes the Law to Task

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 26 Juni 2013 | 16.43

Tribeca Film

A scene from "How to Make Money Selling Drugs."

Introduced as a brash manual for the novice drug dealer, Matthew Cooke's documentary "How to Make Money Selling Drugs" is a condemnation of the war against drugs, but buttonholes the audience with a relentless voice-over. You can make this amount of money a day by selling cocaine, we're told, and soon you'll go from chump to millionaire.

This bit of imposed role-playing, laced with juicy detail about illegal practices, starts out as a smart tactic: it nudges the average nondealing viewer to think, for a moment, that drug dealing isn't just something done by other, unsavory people. The stories and jargon come straight from the mouths of veterans of the trade at different scales, presented whimsically as video-game levels. Those veterans include Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent; a rumpled ex-coke dealer; and the convicted Los Angeles kingpin Freeway Rick Ross.

Mr. Cooke's justifiably outraged shots at corrupt policing and racial inequities turn into a sustained barrage against the drug war, from its Nixon-era inception as a national policy to its costly maintenance, casualties and hypocrisies. The unnecessary (and routine) flash of the film's early segments gives way to a pileup of complaints and criticism about America's antidrug efforts right down to the street level, featuring "The Wire" mastermind David Simon; Woody Harrelson; a soul-baring Eminem; a grandstanding lawyer; and references ranging from the Contras to Steve Jobs's story about LSD.

The litany is overwhelming but not always effective. Mr. Cooke also doesn't entirely pull off the tricky shift from the creative gambit that threatens to undermine the film's moral authority. There's a lot to learn from "How to Make Money Selling Drugs," but sometimes there's just a lot.

How to Make Money Selling Drugs

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Written, directed and narrated by Matthew Cooke; director of photography, Mr. Cooke; edited by Mr. Cooke and Jeff Cowan; music by Spencer Nezey; produced by Bert Marcus and Adrian Grenier; released by Tribeca Film. At the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. This film is not rated.

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Movie Review: ‘Sing Me the Songs,’ a Tribute to Kate McGarrigle

Horse Pictures

Rufus and Martha Wainwright performing at a tribute concert dedicated to their mother, the singer Kate McGarrigle, at Town Hall in 2011.

When she died in 2010 at 63, the Canadian singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle left behind a trove of wonderful songs and recordings, most of them made with her sister Anna. Among the other musical gifts she passed on to later generations are her children, Martha and Rufus Wainwright, who possess two of the most beautiful voices in the world. It may be enough to say that "Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You," Lian Lunson's new documentary, weaves together these strands of McGariggle's musical legacy, as her son and daughter perform a selection of their mother's work.

The film, which records a May 2011 memorial concert at Town Hall in New York, includes some other voices as well. The talk-show host Jimmy Fallon does a jaunty, sweet rendition of "Swimming Song." Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones and Krystle Warren are in fine form, and Justin Vivian Bond electrifies the room with a performance of "The Work Song." Anna and various nieces and nephews are on hand, but this is very much Rufus and Martha's show. They provide vocal and physical reminders of Kate — you can hear and see her genetic imprint whenever they are on screen — even as they mourn her absence.

The McGarrigle sisters' catalog is full of longing, disappointment, nostalgia and affection, and some songs, written decades ago, seem almost to have been written expressly for a concert like this one. "Walking Song," a hymn to companionship, takes on a haunting metaphorical resonance when played as an elegy. But the McGarrigles always filtered the pain of experience through a witty, stoical sensibility. The literary richness of their lyrics is matched by a musical approach that mixes the tough simplicity of North American folk traditions with the urbanity of the Gershwins and Stephen Sondheim.

Their work is not exactly obscure, but Ms. Lunson's film makes a strong case that they belong near the top of the post-'60s pop pantheon. As a musical experience, it is generous and moving. But as a documentary, "Sing Me the Songs" is an awkward hybrid of concert film and rock-star biography. The emotional power of the musical performances is augmented by interviews with Anna and with Rufus and Martha Wainwright, but the scarcity of information about Kate's life can be frustrating.

The movie rests on two distinct kinds of intimacy — the bond between an artist and her public and the one between a mother and her children — that can hardly be compared, but that are nonetheless capable of being confused. Rufus and Martha are eager to share their mother, but also intent on protecting her. There is both too much information here and too little: we see painful deathbed photographs, but hear barely a word about Kate McGarrigle's childhood or other experiences that might illuminate our understanding of her art. Figures in old snapshots are not identified, and Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus and Martha's father (and the author of "Swimming Song"), is mentioned only once, late and in passing.

Not that it should be about him. But a biographical sketch might be helpful. "Sing Me the Songs" is more interested in mourning than in documentation, a perfectly reasonable choice that would have been more coherent without the cursory gestures in the direction of more complete portraiture. Kate McGarrigle's family knew her well and loved her greatly, as did her fans, though in necessarily different ways. This film honors both of those facts even as, perhaps unwittingly, it measures the distance between them.

Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You

A Concert for Kate McGarrigle

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Written, directed and edited by Lian Lunson; director of photography, Matt Egan; produced by Ms. Lunson and Teddy Wainwright; released by Horse Pictures. At the Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. This film is not rated.

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ArtsBeat: Basquiat Painting Draws Top Price at Christie’s

LONDON — An untitled 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat depicting two large figures surrounded by the artist's graffiti-like scrawls sold at Christie's here on Tuesday night for $29 million. The oilstick-on-panel, which had been expected to bring about $23 million to $30 million, was bought by an unidentified telephone bidder.

While it was a high price — especially compared with the $1.6 million the painting brought in 2002 when it was last up for sale, at what was then Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg — it was a far cry from the record $48.8 million achieved at Christie's in New York less than a month ago for Basquiat's "Dustheads," a seven-foot-tall canvas also painted in 1982.

The Basquiat was the top seller at the first in London's weeklong series of postwar and contemporary art auctions. The Christie's salesroom was packed with a dedicated group of dealers and collectors who have been following the action from the New York auctions in May to the Venice Biennale and Art Basel in Switzerland. And while the best works at the Christie's auction brought solid prices, it felt as though the steam was slowly starting to run out of the market.

"After New York and Basel, it was a challenge to keep clients focused," said Brett Gorvy, Christie's worldwide chairman of postwar and contemporary art. While Tuesday night's sale seemed diminutive compared with the historic $495 million worth of art Christie's sold in May, Mr. Gorvy said what surprised him about this auction was that he saw more activity from Asia than he had in New York. "There was a definite shift here, with more Asians and Europeans bidding, although in New York we saw more participation from Russia," he said.

Of the 64 works in Tuesday night's auction, 13 failed to sell. The evening totaled $108.4 million, within its $86.4 million to $112 million estimate. (Final prices include the buyer's premium: 25 percent for the first $75,000; 20 percent on the next $75,001 to $1.5 million and 12 percent on the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.)

The Scottish painter Peter Doig has been something of a star in London, especially after his 2008 retrospective at Tate Britain. On Tuesday, César Reyes, a psychiatrist who lives in Puerto Rico and is one of the artist's biggest collectors, was selling "Jetty," a 1994 canvas of a lone figure on a dock at sunset. Four bidders went for the painting, which was estimated to bring $6.1 million to $9 million and was bought by a telephone bidder for $11.3 million.

Mr. Doig has an exhibition of paintings and drawings opening in August at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh that will travel to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in the winter. Another of his paintings — "White Out," of a lone man standing in a blizzard, which was being sold by the French collector Marcel Brient — brought $2.9 million, well above its high $1.5 million estimate.

Another top seller was de Kooning's "Untitled XXVIII," from 1983. The abstract canvas of swirling ribbons in reds and blues had sold for $4 million at Christie's in New York in November 2011. This time around, it was estimated at $2.8 million to $3.8 million and brought $4.4 million.

The evening also included several works by Damien Hirst, which brought mixed results. Among the best was "My Way," from 1990-91, one of the artist's early medicine cabinets filled with old drug bottles. Two people were interested in the piece, which was estimated to sell for $1.1 million to $1.4 million and brought $1.3 million. "My Way" had been at auction twice before: in 1998 at a Sotheby's sale in London, where it brought $262,900, and in 1999 at a Christie's sale in New York, where it sold for $354,500. But "Soulful," a 2008 circular work made up of hundreds of butterfly wings on canvas that was expected to fetch $980,000 to $1.3 million, failed to sell. "Zinc Chloride," from 2002, one of Mr. Hirst's spot paintings, was expected to bring $460,000 to $750,000 but sold for $432,320, or $521,679 including Christie's fees.

Several Pop canvases had mixed results. There were no takers for Warhol's "Colored Campbell's Soup Can," a 1965 painting that had been in the collection of the legendary dealer Ileana Sonnabend and was being sold anonymously by Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire, according to people familiar with his collection. But Lichtenstein's "Cup of Coffee," a 1961 painting from one of the artist's series of a single image with his signature Ben-Day dots in the background, brought $4.3 million, above its high $3 million estimate.

The action continues on Wednesday night at Sotheby's, which features two paintings by Francis Bacon, including a 1966 triptych.

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Dialing Up a Hit? Influence Over Musical Is in the Crowd’s Hands

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New Music: Mavis Staples and Andy Bey Release New Albums

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 25 Juni 2013 | 16.44

"One True Vine" (Anti-)

Mavis Staples's new album, "One True Vine," is both a sequel and a reversal. It's her second collection of (mostly) gospel songs produced by Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, following up their 2010 collaboration, "You Are Not Alone" (Anti-), which landed Ms. Staples her first Grammy Award (for best Americana album) in a career that dates to the 1950s.

Well into the 1990s, Ms. Staples's deep, husky contralto, at once devout and sensual, was at the center of her family band, the Staple Singers, who moved from gospel churches in the 1950s to civil rights rallies in the 1960s to the pop charts with 1970s hits like "I'll Take You There."

On "You Are Not Alone," Mr. Tweedy had clearly studied Pops Staples, who led the Staple Singers as guitarist and songwriter; the songs were full of pithy, syncopated reverbed electric guitar, and they exuberantly affirmed the power of faith. "One True Vine" is quieter and darker: no less reverent, but far more pensive about it. It ponders more than it proselytizes.

Mr. Tweedy plays most of the guitars and keyboards on the album; his son Spencer Tweedy plays drums. Jeff Tweedy sets the new album's solemn tone with three songs he wrote: measured, midtempo tunes that have as much to do with solitude as with redemption. Two of them, "Jesus Wept" and "One True Vine," don't mention any deity in their lyrics. "Jesus Wept" longs for a reunion and reconciliation, while "One True Vine" praises "The only one that I believe," but immediately adds, "I trust you/I hope that someday you will trust me too." In "Every Step," Ms. Staples insists, "My Lord he knows me every step of the way," but the song's minor key, trudging beat and austere guitar, along with Ms. Staples's bluesy voice, make that line awe-struck and fearful, not sanguine. The album opens with a hymnlike song from the band Low, "Holy Ghost," that treats faith more as an intuition — "Some holy ghost keeps me hangin' on" — than a doctrine.

There are some optimistic moments. "Far Celestial Shores," written for Ms. Staples by Nick Lowe, envisions heaven not only as a realm of abundance and joy, but also as "a place I know for certain I will someday see." And the gospel standard "Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind on Jesus)" is lean — acoustic rhythm guitar, brushes on the drums — but determinedly celebratory. Yet, as a whole, "One True Vine" is as introspective and diffident as a gospel album can be. Bravely and intimately, it leaves room for doubt. JON PARELES


"The World According to Andy Bey" (HighNote)

Andy Bey, a bass-baritone jazz singer with a four-octave range, makes his music slowly, and his solo voice-and-piano records rarely. This isn't really a problem. You can live with each one for a while.

"Ballads, Blues & Bey," from 1996, has been a kind of sacred space worth revisiting at intervals. "Chillin' With Andy Bey," only a little less extravagantly good, came out in Germany in 2003, but distribution problems made it almost invisible here. The new one, "The World According to Andy Bey," has the edge on the others: more trenchant and mysterious, and with the inclusion of some of his own songs, a clearer look at his essence.

Mr. Bey is 73 and grew up in Newark. Bebop rhythm and harmony, blues language and the titanic example of Sarah Vaughan all lie at the center of his conception; a vocal-improvisation track here called "Dedicated to Miles" refers to some of the patterns Miles Davis played with Charlie Parker in 1947 on "Cheryl."

But Mr. Bey's music is powered at the core by his own resources: a strong chest-voice and a deeply interior imagination. He often sings during rests between his piano chords, choosing carefully where to add bits of volume-surging and vibrato, and works unnerving silences into his phrasing. The whole enterprise remains spare but deep.

"The World According" proceeds along two tracks that cross only because he makes them cross. One is the best among the American-song standards: here are Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind," George and Ira Gershwin's "But Not for Me" and " 'S Wonderful," and so on, full of distanced, sharpened observation and humor.

The other track is Mr. Bey's own songs, not included on the other solo records, like "Being Part of What's Happening Now" and "The Demons Are After You." They scan like diary entries, or meditations on readiness during a time of emergency, and don't necessarily rhyme; they use oblique harmonies and repetitions.

This is a record of soul research in real time. It sounds as if it were done in an afternoon. But Mr. Bey's art is complete within itself. He performs a couple of rare solo sets at the Blue Note on Sunday night, during the Blue Note Jazz Festival. Missing them could be a bad idea. BEN RATLIFF

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Critic’s Notebook: ‘Catfish’ Begins Its Second Season on MTV


Nev Schulman, left, a host of "Catfish: The TV Show," with Cassie, who appears in an episode.

Certainly Cassie, the protagonist of Tuesday night's episode of "Catfish: The TV Show," had an inkling that at some point during filming of the show, which tries to unite people with the online loves they've never met but who almost always prove to be shams, she'd be reduced to admitting that she'd been had.

And yet she pressed on, leading to the moment, about midway through the episode, when she sits in a car, shrieks something fierce, calls her mother in tears and then turns to Nev Schulman, the show's host-facilitator-enabler, and utters with honest incredulity, "I'm a joke."

It is not much of a spoiler to reveal that Cassie's love, Steve, is not exactly who he says he is. That's been the case (with minor exceptions) on every episode of this MTV reality show, which returns Tuesday night, taking its title from the phenomenon of catfishing — in essence using a fake identity to attract someone's interest. The mark is always a mark. Deception is a given.

Still, they seek out Mr. Schulman in hopes that their situation is different. What was revealing on the excellent first season of this show, which began in November, was the vast range of reasons that led people to mask their identities online: embarrassment about a weight problem, discomfort with emerging sexual identity, outright malice. The confrontations between deceiver and deceived ranged from mystified to hostile, but mostly were undercut with a profound sadness. In most cases, people had offered their hearts and trust to someone who didn't quite deserve it — watching the bottom fall out was devastating.

That was leavened only slightly by the continuing buddy comedy between Mr. Schulman and his videographer Max Joseph. (As a pair, they're followed by a video crew — a commentary on the pervasiveness of surveillance, and on how simple it is to document things, a point that is generally lost on the show's participants.)

Mr. Schulman's job is to be credulous, the true-love goober with a 5 o'clock shadow. Mr. Joseph's is to arch his eyebrow at Mr. Schulman and at the people who seek their help. Mr. Schulman was the mark in "Catfish," the 2010 documentary in which he followed the data trail of a woman he had met online until it ended in disappointment (and which may or may not have been completely truthful). That makes him the ideal comforter for the show's protagonists, who e-mail stories of hope that are almost certainly built on lies. That said, if you were trying to suss out a person's true intentions, you would want Mr. Joseph, more amused and bewildered than judgmental, handling the conversation.

From a distance, "Catfish" seemed to corner the market on an obscure online phenomenon. But the show was given deep relevance by the Manti Te'o scandal in January. Mr. Te'o, then a star linebacker for Notre Dame and a Heisman Trophy hopeful, had an online, and sometimes public, relationship with a woman who turned out not to be real. When L'Affaire Te'o erupted, Mr. Schulman became an instant media expert on catfishing, and the show looked uncommonly prescient.

Except that it wasn't, really — people lie online all the time. Young people lie about their age to gain access to certain Web sites; people post fake profiles in hopes of getting dates. Technology facilitates creativity when it comes to identity, and also a false sense of comfort.

Mr. Schulman's detective work, such as it is, reveals both how thin these falsehoods are — most are undone with a simple Google image search — and also underscores people's willful ignorance when it comes to technology. (Or perhaps the show is one large, scathing indictment of the computer literacy of America's youth.)

It's surprising, and also a relief, just how mundane the show remains, even in the wake of a high-profile catfishing case like Mr. Te'o's. The second season's premiere isn't any flashier than the first season's episodes. The stakes are not higher. No celebrity has reached out in hopes of clearing up an online love mess.

"Catfish" remains, at its core, a dating show, a category that MTV has a quietly rich and inventive legacy in, though few have been this conceptually ornate. "Next," "Parental Control," "Room Raiders," "Exposed," "The X Effect" — each of these shows played off aspects of how young people try to impress one another. "Catfish" is the ideal dating show for the Internet age, when meeting someone online is often the prelude to meeting in the flesh, and when opinions formed about someone's Internet presence can haunt even after the virtual becomes real. Nevertheless, people chase after love, wanting it so badly that they are almost willing to believe a mirage.

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Shaping a Plaza’s Next Century

In 1916 Grand Army Plaza opened at the southeast corner of Central Park, designed by Carrère & Hastings as a grand outdoor room in the manner of a French garden — New York's version of the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Designated a landmark in 1974 and considered by many to be one of the most formal public spaces in the city, the plaza has nonetheless fallen into disrepair — its bluestone surface cracked, the gilded statue of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman eroded.

Now the Central Park Conservancy is proposing a $2 million restoration of the plaza's trees and pavement. The work planned is what that nonprofit organization says it can afford, having raised $1.5 million.

But preservationists and others say the plan does not go far enough, and that the plaza should undergo a complete overhaul that restores historical details like the original lights, benches, balustrades and columns, which have been changed or removed over the years.

On Monday, after hearing emphatic testimony from various advocates, the city's Public Design Commission urged the conservancy to go back to the drawing board and return with a more ambitious plan.

In their questioning at Monday's hearing, commission members and preservationists signaled that they were not convinced of the conservancy's financial limitations — particularly in light of the $100 million gift it received last year from the hedge fund manager John A. Paulson.

James S. Polshek, a commission member and architect, noted that the plaza — near the Plaza Hotel — is midway between the New York Public Library at 42d Street, which is named after Stephen A. Schwarzman, and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. "I can't imagine those two chaps" would not be moved to contribute, Mr. Polshek said.

"This is a piddling amount of money — nobody can claim the city is in a slump," Mr. Polshek said. "We really shouldn't settle for halfway. If it's another five or six million, that's not an adequate excuse."

The Beaux-Arts plaza is "perhaps the single most historically significant surviving work of landscape architecture from the City Beautiful era in New York City," said Michael Gotkin, a preservationist, referring to the architectural and urban-planning movement from the 1890s and 1900s that believed attractive buildings could uplift the downtrodden.

But Guy Nordenson, another member, suggested that the conservancy "take a step back" and consider how the plaza could be reimagined given that nearly a century has passed.

"Is it best to go back or is there an adaptation of this that is more appropriate today?" he said. "Maybe you could work with a landscape architect who could shake up the discussions. This is neither here nor there, and not convincing."

Landmark West!, a preservation advocacy group, argued that the proposed reconstruction "merely seeks to restore the plaza largely as is — compounding the mistakes, accretions and loss of historic fabric over the past 100 years," adding that "the plaza deserves to be restored to its original glory as a public outdoor gathering place."

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art implored the commission to remember the plaza's importance as one of the city's leading crossroads. "The gateway thrusts into the fabled precincts of Fifth Avenue's prime shopping mecca across which even Holden Caulfield drunkenly traversed in search of the park's pond to discover where the ducks go in winter," said the institute's president, Paul Gunther, in his testimony. "Now is the time to do it right."

Christopher J. Nolan, a vice president at the conservancy, who presented the plan to the commission on Monday, said he would return with a more comprehensive final proposal but that the feasibility of such a master plan would depend on city or private contributions.

"It's finding the money to put the balustrade back," Mr. Nolan said in an interview after the hearing.

Mr. Nolan added that recreating the balustrade in granite would cost an additional $3 million to $4 million. He also said that the conservancy would need to raise money for the plaza's south side in five to 10 years, which features the Pulitzer Fountain, designed in the Italian Renaissance tradition.

All agree that the plaza needs improvements.

"I fear this is a restoration of mistakes, instead of a removal of those mistakes," said Susan Nial, an Upper West Side resident, in her testimony.

In 1990 the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a full restoration for the plaza that was only partly realized because of budget shortfalls and the economic recession of the early '90s.

The use of the plaza is "intense," Mr. Nolan said, noting how many passers-by, horse-drawn carriages, street performers and others frequent the area.

On Monday the design commission voted to approve the conservancy's proposal "on a preliminary basis contingent on seeing a comprehensive plan."

The commission is a panel of art experts and others whose members review permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture proposed for city-owned property.

After the hearing Mr. Nolan said the conservancy accepted this mandate. "It's a reasonable response," he said. "If funding could be secured, likely our intention would be to stick to that original plan, which we'll consider in our final proposal."

Mr. Polshek remained optimistic that the money could be raised among the city's rich and famous — like the real estate developers Donald J. Trump and Larry A. Silverstein. "You could name the columns," he suggested. "You could have a Trump column and a Silverstein column. It's obscene, but they'll be gone and the columns will be here."

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ArtsBeat: Fat Joe Is Sentenced to Prison for Failing to Pay Taxes

The rapper Fat Joe was sentenced to four months in prison on Monday in federal court in Newark for failing to pay his taxes, the United States Attorney's office for New Jersey said.

Fat Joe, whose real name is Joseph Cartagena, pleaded guilty in December to failing to pay taxes on more than $1 million of income he earned between 2007 and 2010.

Mr. Cartagena, 42, of the South Bronx, came from the bruising New York City hip-hop scene in the early-'90s and developed a reputation as a workmanlike rapper with heart, breaking out with the song "Flow Joe" in 1993. His hits include "Lean Back," which topped the Billboad singles chart 2004, and "What's Luv," which reached No. 2 on the chart in 2001.

Federal prosecutors said he failed to pay about $700,000 in taxes on earnings of $3.3 million between 2007 and 2010. Though he lives in Miami Beach, Mr. Cartagena was prosecuted in New Jersey because he owns corporations based in Somerville from which he received income, including Terror Squad Productions Inc. and Miramar Music Touring Inc.

Federal authorities in New Jersey have been going after musicians on tax evasion charges in recent months. Lauryn Hill was sentenced to three months in prison in early May for failing to pay taxes on about $1.8 million. Two weeks later, the Internal Revenue Service placed a lien on property belonging to Mary J. Blige and her husband, charging they owed $3.4 million in back taxes.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 24, 2013

An earlier version of this post omitted a word from a description of a tax debt owed by Mary J. Blige and her husband, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The total is $3.4 million, not $3.4.

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The Making of a Modern Impresario

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 23 Juni 2013 | 16.43

And then after a few songs, Ms. Stabile announced that she had to leave. She'd just gotten a text that one of her best friends was performing in another club. So it was out on the street and into a cab for Arlene's Grocery — more hugs and greetings, more promises of future synergies — until she mentioned that she was invited to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, where she had been trying to book another of the jazz acts she works with.

Out on the street again, into another cab, underdressed for Lincoln Center, tattoos showing, more hugs and greetings — until she looked up from her smartphone and said: "I just got a text from Miles Davis's nephew, asking me what's going on. I told him to come to Dizzy's."

Onstage, the band played on.

Ms. Stabile, who stands five feet tall, with a sweep of straightened brown hair pinned and tucked behind one ear, is a woman on a curious mission: to make jazz matter to the hip-hop generation, and to do so as a young woman in a jazz world dominated by older men, at a time when both jazz itself and the recording industry feel decreasingly relevant. In the last year and a half, she has emerged as a presence around the city — booking, promoting, cajoling, advising and herding young musicians, many of whom are still finding their way.

When she came to New York in September 2006, a few credits shy of graduation from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, she had immodest plans. She wanted to change things, she said. Since then, she said, she has had men in the business hit on her, steal her ideas, treat her like a little girl. And she has made them come around, winning over supporters and mentors throughout the business.

"I said what I was going to do, and I did exactly what I said," she said. "And people have seen that now."

Last month, she took a step up from the underground, signing a deal to curate and produce albums for Blue Note Records, under her own imprint — a signal accomplishment for someone with no experience as a producer.

But it has not been easy. In conversations over the last month, she several times asked herself a version of the same question: How did I survive?

"I don't know," she said one day in her sixth-floor walk-up apartment in Harlem, which she shares with two other women, and which also doubles as the office for her one-person company, Revive Music. "Mentally, it's gotten a lot better. Definitely there were times when I questioned what I was doing. There were a lot of nights when I went home crying."

Another evening, as she picked at a salmon fillet in SoHo, the question led her to a one-word reminder that appears on her smartphone every morning: "Sacrifice."

"It's been very, very tough," she said. "And it's been tough in a lot of ways. Having to deal with a concert and have no one show up. Having to deal with putting hours and days and years into an idea that's just taken from you. Putting your heart and soul into something and dealing with the disappointment of not having it be where you want it to be. Putting your heart and soul into an artist and not being able to help them. Being misunderstood." "There's a whole lot of emotional energy that goes into doing this," she added. "It's a lot of sacrifice."

Don Was, the president of Blue Note Records, came across Ms. Stabile two years ago, after he had joined the label as chief creative officer.

"I needed an education about where the exciting new things were happening," said Mr. Was, who was half of the hit group Was (Not Was) and has produced albums by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, among others. "So I started going online, four or five hours a night." What he found was a generation of young jazz musicians who were equally comfortable with the rap world, eager to reach its larger audience. "And invariably," Mr. Was said, "every thread I was following led back to Meghan's site. So night after night, she appeared to be at the center of the energy."

Jenny Wasserman, who books acts at Dizzy's, also started to look up Ms. Stabile when she took her job at Lincoln Center. She especially liked the crowds Ms. Stabile drew at her events, which were looser than those uptown. "Yes, she's working in the jazz world," Ms. Wasserman said, "but you hear about her events, and you know it's going to be cool."

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Stephen King’s ‘Under The Dome,’ Adapted for a TV Series


Scene from "Under the Dome," a small town is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world.

LOVELL, Maine — Rosie's General Store serves breakfast all day, and it's the type of place where residents of this town of 1,140 will stop in to buy lottery tickets, a loaf of bread or the special jumbo lobster roll. It's also the inspiration for the Sweetbriar Rose, a diner in Stephen King's 2009 opus about a small town cut off from the outside world by a mysterious and impenetrable dome.

A television adaptation of that novel, "Under the Dome," will have its premiere on Monday night on CBS, which was why Mr. King found himself talking one day recently with the real-life Rose about the TV version of her character, one of nearly 70 in his 1,074-page doorstop of a novel. "I told you I want to be taller and thinner," Rose McKenzie told Mr. King heartily as he ate blueberry pancakes with maple syrup.

"And through the power of narration, you are," he assured her.

After nearly 100 television and film adaptations of his novels and short stories, Mr. King is used to the Hollywood version of his characters ending up younger and more glamorous than their often-haggard literary counterparts. It's one of those things he doesn't try to fight. He has developed a rule about collaborating on adaptations of his work: "Usually my attitude is go all the way in or all the way out, but don't be a noodge," Mr. King said.

But he's being something of a noodge about "Under the Dome." After reading the script for a coming episode, Mr. King was concerned that in it, Jim Rennie Jr., the degenerate son of the town's alpha male, says that he scraped his hand while cutting wood with an ax. "I said, 'Ax and hand, really?' " Mr. King said. "I had them change it to hatchet." A hatchet's blade is closer to the user's hand, he explained.

Rather than turn the series over entirely to the producers, as he has with other adaptations to varying degrees of success, Mr. King has stayed involved, and it seems fitting. "Under the Dome" encapsulates the arc of his writing career: Started before he became a published novelist, the book was released 37 years later, when he was so renowned that the e-book version contributed to a price war.

The television series won't have much effect one way or the other on Mr. King's reputation as a master storyteller. CBS, by comparison, has more at stake with "Under the Dome," as it risks shaking up the reliable models for summer television and online streaming.

Not only is it unusual for a broadcast network to introduce a dramatic series in late June, but CBS has broken with network tradition by selling the exclusive digital rights to Amazon. Under the deal struck with the online retailer, Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to stream episodes of "Under the Dome" just four days after they are broadcast on CBS. The deal is the first of its kind for a broadcast network and a Web streaming service and will be a closely watched test.

Beyond reading the scripts, Mr. King has visited the set and occasionally offers advice. He mostly leaves casting, character arcs, plot development and story lines to the executive producers, who include the comic book writer Brian K. Vaughan and Neal Baer, a longtime writer on "Law & Order: SVU" and "E.R."

The television adaptation inevitably ups the visual ante. In the book, a woodchuck is split in half ("blood squirted and pumped; guts tumbled into the dirt") as the giant dome violently descends on the fictional town of Chester's Mill, Me.; in the TV version, a cow is severed through computer-generated effects. The Iraq war veteran and short-order cook who assumes the hero's role in the book disposes of a dead body in the first episode, hinting at a potential murder plot, not found in the novel, that could muddy his image.

After Mr. King downed Ms. McKenzie's pancakes and a side of sausage, we headed to Bridgton, a nearby town that inspired the fictional Chester's Mill. In a gray T-shirt, jeans and black sneakers, he is tall but slight at 65, as if the strong breeze that passed through the quiet town square could knock him over. The weather on this late spring day felt oddly like the sunny fall one he describes as the backdrop of "Dome Day," which is how residents of Chester's Mill refer to the day the dome arrived. As he drove, it was hard not to get the feeling that an alien structure could descend at any moment.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 22, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated the title of a novel by Stephen King.  It is "11/22/63" — so named because the book deals with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, one of the most momentous events in American history. The book is not titled "11/23/63."

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Sam Most, Who Helped Bring the Flute Into the Jazz Mainstream, Dies at 82

Sam Most, a flutist who helped bring his instrument into the modern jazz mainstream, died on June 13 in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 82.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his twin sister, Ruth Labensky, said.

In 1952, when he recorded the flute feature "Undercurrent Blues," Mr. Most was an accomplished jazz saxophonist and clarinetist who, like many reed and woodwind players, played flute only occasionally. Jazz flute was not much more than a novelty at the time, and it was virtually absent from recordings or performances in the modern style known as bebop. "Undercurrent Blues" displayed the instrument's potential in a new way and, while not a big hit, caught the ear of many musicians.

"When I started playing jazz on flute," Herbie Mann, the first jazz flutist to achieve widespread popularity, once said, "there was only one record out: Sam Most's 'Undercurrent Blues.' " By the early 1960s, flutes were almost as common as saxophones in jazz ensembles.

Mr. Mann and many other jazz flutists, including Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef and Hubert Laws, have acknowledged Mr. Most — and especially his unusual technique of humming into the flute while playing — as an early influence. Charles Mingus once called him "the world's greatest jazz flutist."

Samuel Most was born on Dec. 16, 1930, in Atlantic City, and grew up in the Bronx. His parents, Jacob Most and the former Dora Kaplan, were immigrants from Lithuania. His older brother, Abe, was a prominent jazz clarinetist while Sam was growing up.

Mr. Most studied at City College and the Manhattan School of Music and became a professional musician at 17. He spent time with the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Don Redman and others before forming his own small group.

After recording prolifically as both a leader and a sideman and touring with Buddy Rich from 1959 to 1961, Mr. Most moved west and settled into lucrative but anonymous work in Los Angeles studios and Las Vegas showrooms. He continued to record in a jazz context on occasion and released a number of critically praised albums on the Xanadu label in the late 1970s. His later projects included an album of unaccompanied alto flute improvisations.

He was the subject of a 2001 documentary, "Sam Most, Jazz Flutist."

In addition to Ms. Labensky, Mr. Most is survived by another sister, Frances Tutshen, and a brother, Bernard. His brother Abe died in 2002.    

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

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Michael Baigent, Writer Who Sued Over ‘Da Vinci Code,’ Dies at 65

Michael Baigent, a writer who gained wide attention when he filed an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit contending that the novelist Dan Brown had stolen his ideas and used them in the best-selling thriller "The Da Vinci Code," died on Monday in Brighton, England. He was 65.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Michael Baigent in 2006. He sued for copyright infringement.

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The cause was a brain hemorrhage, his agent, Ann Evans, said.

Mr. Baigent had a best-seller of his own, in 1982, the speculative history "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" (released in the United States as "Holy Blood, Holy Grail"), which he wrote with Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.

The book hypothesized that Jesus had married Mary Magdalene and that a secretive group called the Priory of Sion protected their descendants — essential plot elements in "The Da Vinci Code," which was published in 2003 and adapted for a film in 2006. "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" was often characterized as nonfiction, though it appeared on the fiction best-seller list in The New York Times.

Mr. Baigent and Mr. Leigh sued Mr. Brown's publisher, Random House U.K., for copyright infringement. (Mr. Lincoln did not take part in the suit.)

In 2006, High Court Justice Peter Smith ruled that though Mr. Brown had relied on the work of Mr. Baigent and Mr. Leigh, the similarities between their books did not violate copyright. Mr. Baigent and Mr. Leigh were ordered to pay millions of dollars in legal fees. Mr. Leigh died in 2007.

During the trial Mr. Brown acknowledged that he had read "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" but said he had come to it late in the process of writing "The Da Vinci Code." (He said he named one character, Sir Leigh Teabing, in homage to Mr. Leigh and Mr. Baigent, "Teabing" being an anagram of "Baigent.")

Michael Feran Baigent (rhymes with "agent") was born in March 1948 in Christchurch, New Zealand, and graduated from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 1972. He was a commercial photographer before he published "The Holy Blood," his first book. He went on to write others about historical and religious conspiracies, some with Mr. Leigh and Mr. Lincoln. His most recent was "Racing Toward Armageddon" (2009).

Mr. Baigent lived in West Sussex, England. His survivors include his wife, Jane; two daughters, Isabelle and Tansy Baigent; a stepson, David; and a stepdaughter, Emma.

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Bridge: Norma Shelley Saratoga Regional

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 22 Juni 2013 | 16.43

Justine Cushing and Melih Ozdil were the most successful players from New York City at the Norma Shelley Saratoga Regional in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., from June 10 to 16. They won one pair event, and with Joel Wooldridge of New York City and David Grainger of Roseville, Calif., captured two team titles and tied for a third.

Cushing (East) and Ozdil (West) defended perfectly in the diagramed deal from a Swiss team event.

At the other table, the result was two spades down one after the defenders erred slightly.

In the given auction, two clubs showed a two-suiter in clubs and another suit. East's double promised some points but no game interest.

West led the diamond king. East correctly overtook with her ace and returned the suit. West won with his ten and continued with the diamond queen. East accurately discarded a heart.

South ruffed and played a heart, but West took the trick with his ace and led the diamond jack, on which East pitched her last heart.

Declarer ruffed and could have saved one trick by turning to the black suits, but he played a heart to dummy's king. (It would not have helped to finesse the nine.) East ruffed and shifted to a low trump. West captured South's nine with his jack, cashed the heart queen and led his last diamond, which East ruffed with the spade queen.

This effected an uppercut. Declarer overruffed with his ace, but now West got two more trump tricks with his ace-eight over South's ten-seven.

Down three gave the winners two international match points on the board.

When your partner leads king from king-queen and you hold ace-doubleton, usually you should overtake with your ace and lead the suit back. Of course, especially in no-trump, when dummy has, say, jack-third, you will play low. But those situations rarely occur.

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Television Review: NBC’s ‘Crossing Lines,’ an International Police Procedural

"Crossing Lines," an appealing crime series that begins Sunday night on NBC, might not get the respect it deserves for a couple of reasons. Structurally it resembles other shows centering on a superstar team of detectives, each with a specialty. It's scheduled as a summer throwaway and on a night that, for the two-part premiere, pits it against the season finale of "Mad Men." And it has the kind of multinational production lineage that can suggest a network is trying to fill out its lineup on the cheap.

Etienne Chognard/Tandem

Crossing Lines Donald Sutherland, left, and Marc Lavoine in this NBC drama which will have its premiere on Sunday night at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.

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But "Crossing Lines" isn't cheap, and it features international settings and casting that provide at least some variation in a genre that has become overstuffed with interchangeable shows. Several of the performances are intriguing, especially the one by William Fichtner ("Prison Break") as the American member of the team, who is dragged back into investigative work against his will and uses morphine to battle the physical and psychological pain of a past calamity.

The French actor Marc Lavoine is the detective for the International Criminal Court who, in the show's initial case, pulls the team together to search for a serial killer whose victims are turning up all over Europe. When Mr. Lavoine and Mr. Fichtner are in shots together, two more creased, careworn faces have rarely shared the screen. Add in Donald Sutherland, who plays some sort of supervisor overseeing the operation, and you have an awful lot going on behind three sets of eyes.

The team also includes a weapons man (Richard Flood), a tech guy (Tom Wlaschiha), a covert operations specialist (Gabriella Pession) and an analyst (Moon Dailly), with multiple countries and accents represented. Settings in the opening story include Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.

It's a refreshing change, though the differences only go so far. It seems that international crime fighting has the same wearying turf wars as American police work and that border-crossing serial killers practice the same sorts of sadistic violence against women that domestic ones often do. A romantic subplot not only seems forced — often the case when writers try to sex up police work — but also telegraphs a plot twist.

Still, "Crossing Lines" makes for satisfying viewing; with Mr. Fichtner's and Mr. Lavoine's performances it might continue to do so for the summer.

Crossing Lines

NBC, Sunday night at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.

Produced by Tandem Communications in association with Bernero Productions, TF1 Production and Sony Pictures Television Networks. Created by Edward Allen Bernero; directed by Daniel Percival; Mr. Bernero, Rola Bauer, Jonas Bauer and Tim Halkin, executive producers.WITH: William Fichtner (Carl Hickman), Marc Lavoine (Louis Daniel), Gabriella Pession (Eva Vittoria), Tom Wlaschiha (Sebastian Berger), Moon Dailly (Anne-Marie San), Richard Flood (Tommy McConnel) and Donald Sutherland (Michel Dorn).

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Sicilian Protest Imperils Exhibition

When it began its tour at the J. Paul Getty Museum in April, "Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome" was supposed to crown years of effort by some American museums to patch up relations with Italy over claims of looted antiquities.

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The statue of a charioteer, shown in London, is now on display at the Getty Villa.

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Antiquarium di Himera/Regione Siciliana via J. Paul Getty Trust

A gold libation bowl, or phiale, one of the main attractions in "Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome."

Featuring dozens of antiquities from Sicilian collections, the exhibition at the Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., was scheduled to go to the Cleveland Museum of Art this fall before a final showing in Palermo next winter.

But all has not gone smoothly.

Sicilian officials now say that two star attractions — a dramatic six-foot-tall statue of a charioteer and an immaculate gold libation bowl, or phiale — should not travel to Cleveland because their absence is depriving Sicily of tourist dollars. And in a letter sent to the Getty and Cleveland museums this week, Sicily's highest cultural official, Mariarita Sgarlata, noted that the region — which enjoys broad autonomy from Rome to shape its cultural policy — never signed a contract authorizing the exhibition in the first place.

In fact, the items were shipped from Italy months ago while the contract was being negotiated by Sicilian cultural officials who are no longer in office.

In an e-mail response to questions on Friday, Ms. Sgarlata, who is the assessor of culture for the Region of Sicily, asked, "How would an American tourist react who, trusting his Frommer's travel guide,  has gone out of his way to visit the island of Mozia to admire this work of art in its original setting, only to discover that the statue is in Tokyo or St. Petersburg?"

It was not immediately clear how the museums would respond to the letter, which does not explicitly demand that the items be returned and leaves open the possibility that a compromise might be worked out. In a statement, David Franklin, the director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, said that he had "been in close contact" with the Getty to resolve the situation. He added that, "It would be a great disappointment not to share the significant objects this exhibition uniquely brings together with the people of Northeast Ohio."

Getty officials said they are pursuing the matter through diplomatic channels with the Italian government but that it would be up to Cleveland to determine if it still wants to host the exhibition without the charioteer and the phiale. Ms. Sgarlata acknowledged that Cleveland would be unlikely to welcome the show without the two objects because they are the "focal point of the exhibition."

Considered the first major survey of ancient Sicilian art in the United States, the exhibition makes a case for the importance of Sicily as a wellspring of artistic innovation in the classical world. Other works featured in the show, which is on view at the Getty through mid-August, include terra-cotta heads of Greek deities, a life-size statue of the fertility god Priapus, and five pieces of the Morgantina treasure — a hoard of silver-gilt bowls and utensils transferred to Sicily in 2006 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in an accord to resolve looted antiquities claims with the government of Italy.

The Getty said it has spent close to $1 million on the show and related costs. It has also built a $200,000 seismic isolator — an anti-earthquake display stand — for the charioteer, which will be used in its permanent home on the island of Mozia on the western coast of Sicily.

"The charioteer traveling to Cleveland was meant to be a celebration of what the Getty was able to do for this object," said Timothy Potts, director of the Getty Museum.

But the conservation work on the statue in Los Angeles — following on an earlier loan of the work to the British Museum last summer — has kept it out of Sicily for more than a year, and that has made Sicilian officials impatient.

"We have a base for a statue that isn't there," Sergio Gelardi, the director of Sicily's cultural heritage administration under Ms. Sgarlata, said in an interview with an Italian magazine this spring. In other comments to the Italian press in recent weeks, Ms. Sgarlata and Mr. Gelardi have said Sicily is considering charging foreign museums substantial fees for loans and is placing travel restrictions on masterpieces like the charioteer.

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ArtsBeat: Rattlestick Season Includes World Premieres and Five-Play Cycle

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater's 2013-14 season will include new plays by Off Broadway veterans like Charles Fuller and Craig Lucas, alongside works by the rising stars Samuel D. Hunter and Halley Feiffer, the theater has announced.

The world premiere of Mr. Fuller's "One Night…," about women in the military, is on Oct. 16. It is directed by Clinton Turner Davis. Mr. Fuller won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize in drama for "A Soldier's Play."

"Ode to Joy," written and directed by Mr. Lucas ("The Dying Gaul"), "tells the story of love, heartbreak, addiction and illness" through the eyes of a painter and her two lovers, according to the Rattlestick announcement. Performances begin Feb. 12.

Kip Fagan will direct Ms. Feiffer's "How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them," about two troubled sisters and the "limping wallflower" they draw into their world. Performances start Oct. 23.

Coming off his New York success with "The Whale," Mr. Hunter will premiere "The Few," about the employees of a struggling newspaper for truckers. Davis McCallum directs, and performances begin April 16.

The Rattlestick lineup will also include "The Correspondent" by Ken Urban, which was postponed from this season, and "The Hill Town Plays" — five works by Lucy Thurber, some previously produced in New York, which will be presented at five West Village theaters from Aug. 14 to Sept. 28.

The "Hill Town" cycle is the inaugural event in a Rattlestick initiative to simultaneously present five plays centered on one playwright or theme in different West Village theaters.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 21, 2013

An earlier version of this post misstated the name of the director of "One Night...." He is Clinton Turner Davis, not Clinton Davis Turner.

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Theater Review: ‘The Explorers Club’ Pokes Fun at a 19th-Century Sanctum

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 21 Juni 2013 | 16.43

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The Explorers Club Carson Elrod and Jennifer Westfeldt star in this new play by Nell Benjamin, at City Center.

A mute chorus looks down upon the antics of a dotty group of Englishmen in "The Explorers Club," a new play by Nell Benjamin that opened on Thursday night at City Center. A couple of gazelles, a bear, a walrus and a few icky-looking bugs adorn the walls of Donyale Werle's atmospheric set for this comedy, set in an exclusive London men's club in 1879.

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Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

"The Explorers Club" stars, from left, Max Baker, Lorenzo Pisoni, David Furr, Steven Boyer, Brian Avers and John McMartin as members of an all-male sanctum.

None of these stuffed critters crack a smile, needless to say, as the play's tweedy characters engage in discussions of their various obsessions and heatedly argue over whether to admit a woman to the club for the first time. Unfortunately, I often found myself identifying with these poker-faced creatures as Ms. Benjamin's occasionally funny but mostly blunt-witted comedy trekked through its lunatic paces.

The director, Marc Bruni, has assembled an accomplished cast to portray the members of this club, dedicated to scientific pursuits, which is roughly modeled on clubs of the era: the National Geographic Society is often referred to in dire tones as an irksome rival.

John McMartin fulminates effectively as the senior member, Professor Sloane, a religious fanatic (an "archaeo-theologist" by profession) who abhors the idea of allowing a member of the sin-riddled sex to be granted admission. He is unimpressed when the club's acting president, Lucius Fretway (a buttoned-up Lorenzo Pisoni), makes the case for welcoming the accomplished Phyllida Spotte-Hume into the club.

This fearless lady, portrayed with hearty gumption by Jennifer Westfeldt, who also doubles creditably as Phyllida's snootier sister, has just returned to London with an anthropological discovery of immense importance. She's made an in-depth study, "NaKong Tribe of the Lost City of Pahatlabong," and regales the club's members with gruesome stories of the tribe's strange ways.

"They have hunted nearly all the animals to extinction," she reports, "and are forced to subsist on a jerky made of toad. The toad is poisonous. But most of the poison boils off when the toad is poached in urine."

Probably correctly assuming that, after "The Book of Mormon," we have entered a thoroughly post-politically correct age at the theater, Ms. Benjamin ("Legally Blonde") has no qualms about making silly sport of the indigenous peoples whose cultures caused such prurient fascination in the Victorian era. Although he has not been shot, stuffed and mounted on a plaque, a specimen of the tribe has been brought to London for examination: Luigi (Carson Elrod), he's called, because Phyllida has always named all her pets thus.

Covered in blue body paint, with what looks like a shrunken head hanging from his neck and a sprig of a mohawk atop his head, the nearly naked Luigi speaks in effusive gibberish and glowers darkly, looking the perfect picture of the barbarous, untamed savage.

Luckily for Phyllida, who arrived on his tribe's shores with just the clothes on her back and a spoon, the god of the tribe happens to be spoon-shaped, and so she was accorded the respect a proper Englishwoman deserves. (Whenever Phyllida wields that spoon, Luigi falls to the ground to genuflect.)

If these morsels of Ms. Benjamin's humor have you chuckling — as, to be fair, they did much of the Manhattan Theater Club audience I saw the show with — you will probably find plenty of diversion in the silly labors of "The Explorers Club." Much of the comedy derives from the eccentricities of the members, each of whom has a particular and usually peculiar obsession, and all of which eventually cause trouble of one kind or another. (Professor Sloane's mad theory that the lost tribes of Israel somehow ended up in Ireland causes not a little outrage in Irish circles.)

The horticulturist Lucius, whose interest in Phyllida is not wholly scientific, hopes to impress her with a new flower he has named after her, a species whose fragrance, when inhaled, causes confusion, then euphoria and eventually, less happily, coma and death. Professor Cope (Brian Avers) has discovered a deadly species of cobra, and wears a living sample around his neck. ("Her name is Rosie," he informs, after his beloved mum.) Professor Walling (a snivelingly funny Steven Boyer) also carries a sample of his favorite species around with him, a caged guinea pig to which he is unnaturally attached.

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Music Review: Laurie Anderson Gets Political at River to River Shows

Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Laurie Anderson performing as part of a two-part, two-night stand for the River to River Festival.

Two kinds of drone figured in "The Language of the Future," Laurie Anderson's two-part, two-night performance for the River to River Festival on Tuesday and Wednesday: "Stories" on Tuesday and "Songs" on Wednesday (though stories and songs were included on both nights). There were the minimalist musical drones — often double-stops bowed on her electric violin — that have been part of her songs since she emerged in the 1980s. And this week, topically, there were airborne drones: a pair of remote-controlled aircraft, like flying black spiders the diameter of a Frisbee, that darted over the audience during part of "Songs" on Wednesday.

Onstage Ms. Anderson ruminated on how the Internet had become "the new dragnet" and urged the audience to telephone the comment line of the White House — she provided the number — with opinions on the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning over supplying documents to WikiLeaks.

Recent revelations of pervasive data collection by the National Security Agency presented an opportunity for Ms. Anderson, whose multimedia work has pondered technology, travel, science, communication and the meaning of America. Over a funky beat from her band, she named Mr. Manning, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Edward J. Snowden, the former C.I.A. worker, intelligence contractor and admitted source of the latest revelations, adding, "Let's hear it for the whistle-blowers!" for easy applause.

"What's going on in America?" she intoned. "What's happening here? What war is this? What time is it? Greetings to the motherland." Later, she summarized "The Birds," the Aristophanes comedy, comparing the walls in its plot to walls between Palestine and Israel and the United States and Mexico, calling them "complicated."

That was as pointed as Ms. Anderson got during the two performances, which were largely a miscellany of her works and fascinations, old and new, hit and miss. Both performances were scheduled at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, on the Hudson River, but rain on Tuesday moved "Stories" indoors to the Stuyvesant High School auditorium — a better spot, actually, for a spooky, inward-looking show.

The title of "The Language of the Future," and some of its best material, came from "United States," her eight-hour magnum opus from 1983, and one unexpected upshot of the two nights was the realization of how little Ms. Anderson has changed in 30 years. Each night began with downtown electronic noise: Tuesday with the Anne Gosfield Trio, which put driving rock backbeats behind crunching, clanging samples, and Wednesday with Richard Devine, who used an analog setup with patch cords and knobs for blipping, twitching, ratcheting abstractions. (Ms. Anderson has also chosen other performers for the festival.)

Both "Stories" and "Songs" interspersed material with words — most often recited in Ms. Anderson's calm, amiably noncommittal deadpan — and brooding instrumentals. The music revolved around floating keyboard chords and the interplay of Ms. Anderson on violin and Eyvind Kang on viola, whose parts sometimes tilted the music toward non-Western modes — sometimes leisurely, sometimes sawing and heaving. The tone, particularly on Tuesday, was somberly meditative, with suspense that didn't bode well.

Ms. Anderson's stories are philosophical shaggy-dog stories, leading not to neat conclusions but to revelations of paradox, emptiness and eternity. Tuesday's performance kept returning to scenarios of airplane travel, with disasters looming. Its centerpiece, read by Steve Buscemi, was a detailed narrative of a crash landing in the Arctic and the decline of the survivors, rendered all the more desolate with a prolonged, varied guitar drone played by Gerry Leonard.

"Songs," presented outdoors on an idyllic evening, was jauntier, even with its edge of technological paranoia and political tension. The lineup included a horn section to punch up the riffs in Ms. Anderson's songs from the 1980s, like "From the Air" and "Let X=X," which had declared, back then, that "I can see the future." Her equipment was newer now, but her language of the past is still the language of the future.

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Exhibition Review: Public Library’s ‘ABC of It’ Looks at Children’s Books

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter A gallery that resembles the great green room of "Goodnight Moon" is part of this show at the New York Public Library. More Photos »

The great green room and the purple crayon are here; so are the wild things and the poky puppy, Charlotte's web and Alice's wonderland, the very hungry caterpillar and the stinky cheese man. It is a reunion of creatures, characters and creations, gathered from memories of childhood and parenthood, and celebrated in "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter," a remarkably rich new exhibition at the New York Public Library.

But along with these familiars of bedtime rituals are also more exotic offerings, like "Chao yang hua duo" ("Morning Sunflower"), a 1973 Chinese book hailing a model child during the Cultural Revolution; and more severe offerings, like an 1826 edition of Grimms' tales, the cruelty of which was defended by one of the Brothers Grimm: "Everything that is natural is wholesome."

This exhibition, opening Friday, gives us high-toned tracts (a first edition of John Locke's "Some Thoughts Concerning Education") along with popular attractions (early issues of Superman and Mad magazine). We see the achievements of Edward Stratemeyer, who created a literary assembly line to churn out the adventures of the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Nancy Drew and a slew of others. And we see a 1921 issue of "The Brownies' Book," a short-lived monthly magazine started by W. E. B. Du Bois for black children in a time of exclusion.

The show's nearly 250 books and artifacts are so intelligently woven together by the curator, Leonard S. Marcus, that you make your way through them with a mixture of eager pleasure and focused attentiveness. Even unaccompanied by a child, you can pluck books from the shelves to read in certain galleries. And when you use a mounted iPad to create a fairy tale or to sample Hans Christian Andersen, you realize that you are using a technology that may already be displacing these hallowed artifacts.

Occasionally the narrative structure is jumbled by the vibrant displays and weaving floor plan in the first-floor galleries at the library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and sometimes sections feel too compressed, though it hardly matters. By the end you don't wonder why children's books matter but how other books can even come close.

What is the source of this power? Why is children's literature worth considering as a separate genre? In some respects, distinctions are artificial. At the beginning, we read W. H. Auden's comment, "There are no good books only for children." The exhibition argues, though, that "books for young people have stories to tell us about ourselves."

"Behind every children's book," we read, "is a vision of childhood: a shared understanding of what growing up is all about."

The first artifact here, for example, is a 1727 edition of "The New-England Primer" — "the oldest known copy of the most influential American children's book of the 18th and early 19th centuries." It dispenses moral lessons as a prelude to reading the Bible. It is open to an ABC beginning with A for Adam: "In Adam's Fall/We Sinned all." B is for Bible: "Thy Life to Mend/This Book attend."

That vision of childhood could not be more different from one evoked by a selection of poems from William Blake's 1789 "Songs of Innocence," accompanied by his exquisite watercolors; here innocence is more valued than learning and offers far more joy. Rousseau went even further in his celebration of the "natural child": "Reading is the scourge of childhood," he proclaimed, and should be shunned.

That Romantic vision later became dominant in children's books (and is responsible, even today, for pastoral cribs filled with stuffed animals). Mr. Marcus sees it also in E. B. White, whose narration of "Charlotte's Web" can be sampled here. In that book, 7-year-old Fern really is closer to the natural world than her elders. She readily comprehends farm animals while adults can only narrowly focus on the spider's web writing.

This historical survey of children's books is only the first part of the exhibition, but it is finely wrought, offering extraordinary examples. And along the way, detours are taken through subsidiary themes: books reflecting the development of national identity in occupied Japan after the Second World War and in Revolutionary Russia in the 1920s; other books written for particular social classes in 19th-century England.

Another important view of the child is explored in a gallery that resembles the great green room of Margaret Wise Brown's 1947 "Goodnight Moon" — one of the most supple and evocative children's books of the last century. One wall displays that book linked to several others with arrows, showing the influence of the "progressive" idea of the child in the decades after 1900, with a central role played by the Bank Street School in New York.

Follow Edward Rothstein on Twitter; twitter.com/EdRothstein

"The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter" runs through March 23 at the New York Public Library, nypl.org. 

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Art Review: Ken Price: Yes, the Ceramics Are Art

OVER six months in 2011 and 2012, dozens of art institutions in Southern California joined forces in a festival of exhibitions, "Pacific Standard Time," celebrating the history of contemporary art in Los Angeles. The project was a big success and continues to generate energy. A jolt of it hits New York City this week in an unheard-of convergence here of major California shows.

Most are historical, documenting West Coast art movements and careers stretching over the last 60 years. "State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970," opening at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Sunday, tells the story of California Conceptualism, which emerged in parallel with its East Coast counterpart but developed its own distinctive trajectory.

Traveling retrospectives flesh out important West Coast figures still under the mainstream radar here. The much-loved ceramic sculptor Ken Price, who died last year, is the subject of a doubleheader survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Drawing Center in SoHo, while the Los Angeles artist Llyn Foulkes, an artist's artist with an avid hometown following, is at the New Museum.

A keenly awaited new site-specific project by the Los Angeles-born James Turrell, a leader of the West Coast Light and Space movement, is flooding the Guggenheim Museum's rotunda with unearthly illumination. (A recreated 1977 light piece by his California colleague Robert Irwin opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Thursday.) And in the cavernous Park Avenue Armory, the veteran bad-boy Paul McCarthy brings Disneyland innocence crashing to earth.

How "California" is all of this? Totally. What can New York learn from it? We're just finding out. HOLLAND COTTER

A Career of Bumps and Twists

Tableware? Toys? Genetic accidents? Objets d'art? The ceramic sculptures of Ken Price suggest all these possibilities and many more. To the market's old divide-and-label query, "Is this art or craft?," Price offered one finessing answer: "Yes."

And right he was.

You see the rightness instantly in "Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is one of those rare ideal shows: right size, great design (by Frank Gehry), pretty near faultless art. Ideal, too, in a plainer way, is a concurrent survey of the artist's works on paper, "Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race," at the Drawing Center in SoHo.

Price, who died last year at 77, was in certain ways a classic Southern Californian. Born in Los Angeles and raised there in the 1930s and '40s, as a kid he lived for surfing and jazz, and he had art on the brain from the start: drawing, painting, sculpturing, he liked it all.

Where he departed from the stereotype was in the matter of focus: creatively, there was nothing laid-back about him. He was alert, hungry for input. One day on the beach he met a surfer named Billy Al Bengston, a serious painter who, like Price, had an interest in ceramics. They buddied up and eventually shared a studio, but while Mr. Bengston stuck with painting, for Price clay became the way.

It was not, however, the way in most art schools, where the art-craft divide was firm. At the University of Southern California, Price ended up studying, among other things, cartooning and animation.

He made a major shift in 1957, when he was a graduate student at what is now Otis College of Art and Design. There he worked with Peter Voulkos, who is often credited with shifting ceramics, in the art world's eyes, from craft to fine-art status.

Voulkos, a big-gestured sculptor in the Abstract Expressionist mode, was a don't-talk-but-do-as-I-do sort of teacher. And what he did was work with clay every day in the Otis studios.

Seeing Voulkos in action and working beside him had a deep effect on Price, who always seems to have learned more from experience than from instruction. On early surfing trips to Mexico, he paid close attention to folk pottery sold in Tijuana shops, noting that even objects produced in bulk were individually enlivened by flourishes and flaws that came with handmaking. In the early 1960s he traveled to Japan — in a charming pen-and-ink scroll at the Drawing Center he depicts himself as a visiting pooh-bah — less to gather technical tips than to feel the vibes of a place where great pots were made.

For Price, nature was a real presence. In the 1930s, Los Angeles was still rural around the edges. He grew up at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, near the sea. Mountainous landscapes recur in his drawings. Some of his sculptures look like things that were fished from tidal pools: extravagant crustaceans, tangles of kelp and a variety of oozy, amphibious eel-ish critters.

And he was soaked — what young person isn't? — in visual pop culture, which in the 1940s and '50s meant, among other things, comic books, monster movies and advertising. He embraced it all, though selectively, in the same way he did modern art, paying attention to Abstract Expressionism's appetite for color; to Joan Miró's soft-porn blobs and curves; to Joseph Cornell's blend of adorableness and abjection.

The Met show — organized by Stephanie Barron, senior curator and department head of modern art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and overseen in New York by Marla Prather — is arranged in reverse chronological sequence, with late Price coming first.

Strategically, this makes sense. His last sculptures are his largest, weirdest and, with their wondrous surface patterning, prettiest. You see them and you want to see more of him. Yet an early-to-late narrative is well worth tracing.

"Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective" continues through Sept. 22 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org. "Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper 1962-2010" continues through Aug. 18 at the Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, SoHo; (212) 219-2166, drawingcenter.org. It will appear at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo from Sept. 27 to May 4 and at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, N. M., from Feb. 22 through May 4.

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