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ArtsBeat: Salinger Stories ‘Leaked’ Online

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 29 November 2013 | 16.43

Three previously unpublished short stories by J. D. Salinger have appeared online for the first time, apparently after an unauthorized edition of the stories was sold on eBay and its pages scanned and uploaded, Buzzfeed reported.

The stories —"The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," "Birthday Boy" and "Paula" — seem to have been copied from original Salinger manuscripts held by the Princeton University Library and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas and published in a 25-copy edition privately printed without Salinger's approval in London in 1999.

A copy of that edition was sold on eBay in September for 67 British pounds (about $110 at the time), and on Nov. 27, a commenter on the social news site Reddit announced that the stories had been "leaked" onto an invitation-only music file-sharing site. Before the end of the day they had found their way onto the wider Web, on the photo-sharing site Imgur and elsewhere.

In an article in The Los Angeles Times, the book critic David L. Ulin wrote that he had read two of the stories — "Birthday Boy" and "Paula" — in the collection of the Ransom Center and could vouch for the authenticity of the versions posted online. Kenneth Slawenski, a Salinger scholar, told Buzzfeed that he had read those two stories as well as "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls" — a story about the final day in the life of Holden Caulfield's younger brother and so a precursor of sorts to "The Catcher in the Rye" — and also believed that the versions online were accurate copies of the manuscripts.

The appearance of the stories would undoubtedly have enraged Salinger, who died at 91 in 2010 and worked very hard during his lifetime to prevent people from publishing anything he had written (or conceived) that he didn't want published. Unauthorized copies of his published but uncollected magazine fiction have circulated like samizdat for years, but the existence of the edition of the three unpublished stories was not widely known until now. A new film and book about Salinger this year claimed that he instructed his estate to publish at least five new books beginning as early as 2015. Salinger's family has declined to comment on that claim.

A version of this article appears in print on 11/29/2013, on page C2 of the NewYork edition with the headline: 3 Unpublished Stories by Salinger 'Leaked' Online.

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Music Review: Baby Jane Dexter at the Metropolitan Room

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Baby Jane Dexter offers charged covers and her original songs in her show "More Rules of the Road" at the Metropolitan Room.

"I Got Thunder (and it Rings)," a proudly self-assertive anthem written by Abbey Lincoln and belted by Baby Jane Dexter in her new show, "More Rules of the Road," at the Metropolitan Room, distills the resilient spirit of this venerable cabaret singer. "Love is an emotion, and it moves things," announces the chorus of a song whose opening verse warns the faint of heart, "better run when I start coming." Applying her formidable contralto to the song, Ms. Dexter tosses thunderbolts, but they won't hurt you; their big, crashing sound is driven by a big heart.

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If Ms. Dexter summoned mighty love at last Friday's opening-night show, she also conjured mighty anger. Her original song, "15 Ugly Minutes," written with Drey Shepperd, describes a brutal rape that went unprosecuted. In "Chickie, Chickie, Chickie," traditional sexual roles are reversed, as Ms. Dexter turns the tables to taunt a man with the sexually objectifying come-ons she has endured. Accompanying her on piano was Ian Herman, a strong blues pianist.

More than ever, Ms. Dexter, who has been playing clubs for four decades, is a mama lion in the Janis Joplin mold. But she is also a song connoisseur and an astute interpreter with a lecturer's impulse to explain lyrics. Breaking songs into short, emphatic phrases, she forcefully clarifies their messages.

A high point was her rendition of "Shining," an obscure Randy Newman song, whose narrator recalls being a beautiful free-spirited high school girl "shining in the sun like gold."

The narrator, now married with a baby, is a depressed homemaker trapped in a dreary marriage and facing the prospect of sleeping "with the same man every night for the rest of my life." The repeated phrase, "for the rest of my life," became a howl of rage and anguish.

Baby Jane Dexter performs through Dec. 27 at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, Flatiron district; 212-206-0440, metropolitanroom.com.


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Photographs Tell a History of Palestinians Unmoored

JERUSALEM — There is one picture of Palestinian children studying around a small table by the dim light of gas lamps in the Beach Camp in Gaza, and another of children peeking over a sandy dune, with rows of small, uniform shacks of a desolate refugee camp in the background. In a third, a family walks across the Allenby Bridge, the father carrying two bulging suitcases, a young son clutching a white ball, heading east over the Jordan River.

These are a few of the black and white images, many of them powerful and haunting, that will eventually constitute a digital archive compiled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the first part of which was unveiled Thursday at a gallery in the Old City here. Together, they capture the Palestinian refugee experience from the 1948 war onward, giving form to a seminal chapter in Palestinian history, identity and collective memory.

For decades, about half a million negatives, prints, slides and various forms of film footage have been hidden away in the archive of UNRWA, the organization that assists Palestinian refugees. Stored in buildings in Gaza and Amman, Jordan, the materials had begun to grow moldy.

So officials started a preservation mission, digitizing the archive, which also documents the work of the agency. The exhibit that opened Thursday, called "The Long Journey," will soon go on tour to large cities in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and possibly Syria, and will also be shown at cultural and political centers in Europe and North America. The images will also be made accessible to the general public on a special website.

"This is an important piece of work," Filippo Grandi, the agency's commissioner-general, told reporters at the opening in the Old City. "It is a contribution to building a national heritage for the Palestinians."

Palestinians refer to the events of 1948 as al-Nakba, Arabic for "the catastrophe." About 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war over the foundation of Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were later displaced by the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, some becoming refugees twice over. Tens of thousands have recently been displaced again, reliving the trauma, because of the civil war raging in Syria.

But the refugee issue remains one of the most delicate and complex elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the core of the two sides' clashing historical narratives. So it was perhaps inevitable that some Israelis would view the new memorialization of the refugee experience through a prism of politics and contention.

"When was the last time that any United Nations agency raised so much money and invested so much effort in organizing and circulating around the world the documentation of a specific plight like that of the Palestinian refugees? Never," said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry.

"This only emphasizes the strident anomaly of the dedication of a disproportionate part of the United Nations budget, staff, time and resources to the Palestinian issue exclusively at the expense of, and to the detriment of, all other similar issues," he added.

Israel vehemently rejects the Palestinian demand for a right of return for the refugees who, by the agency's count, now number around five million, including the descendants. It says that any mass influx would spell the end of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. Israelis often blame the very existence of the agency — which was set up in 1949 to deal with the Palestinian refugees and which provides relief, education and health services — for prolonging their sense of impermanence.

The world's other refugees are handled by a single agency that was set up later, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mr. Palmor said that while the agency mostly did good work on the ground, it was "dedicated to preserving the refugees' status rather than encouraging their resettlement or integration in their current or alternative locations, contributing to the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem."

At the exhibit, Mr. Grandi said he was aware that the refugee issue had its political aspects. But, he added, "Remember, this is also about people, about individuals with their own plights and achievements."

Christopher Gunness, an agency spokesman, said its mandate was to help the refugees and to advocate for their rights until all sides to the conflict negotiated a just and durable solution.

"What is perpetuating the refugee problem," he said, "is the failure of the political parties to resolve it."

Mr. Gunness added that the Palestinian refugees would have the same rights and status under any United Nations agency.

"Everyone has a right to understand, to study and feel a part of their history," he said. "Are we supposed to engage in denial of the events of 1948? The refugee experience is an essential part of Palestinian identity."

Funding for the project, about $1 million so far, has come from the Danish and French governments and from the Palestinian private sector. It comes as the agency is struggling with a budget deficit and appealing for emergency funds to cover its needs in the West Bank and Gaza and to contend with the crisis in Syria.

Mr. Gunness said that the money raised for the archive project had nothing to do with the budgets for staff salaries or refugee welfare.


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Jane Kean, of ‘Honeymooners’ Revival, Dies at 90

LOS ANGELES — Jane Kean, a diverse performer who got her start in musical theater but was best known for playing Trixie alongside Jackie Gleason on a television revival of "The Honeymooners," died on Tuesday. She was 90.

Ms. Kean, of Toluca Lake, died at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank where she was taken after a fall that led to a hemorrhagic stroke, her niece, Deirdre Wolpert, said Thursday.

Ms. Kean first started working with Jackie Gleason in the 1940s, when they were both on the vaudeville circuit. Her big break, however, came in 1966 when Gleason and CBS revived the hit show "The Honeymooners" in Miami Beach, expanding it to an hour and adding musical numbers.

A talented singer with a belting voice, Ms. Kean starred on the show for five years as Ed Norton's beleaguered wife, Trixie. (Joyce Randolph played the role in the original version of the series.)

Born in Hartford, Conn., on April 10, 1923, Ms. Kean got into show business at an early age along with her sister, Betty, with the encouragement of her mother.

She headlined at the London Palladium before making her debut in a 1943 Broadway production of the Fats Waller musical "Early to Bed."

She eventually moved to Los Angeles and appeared in some films for MGM before forming a comedy act in the 1950s with her sister, Ms. Wolpert's mother.

After "The Honeymooners," Ms. Kean left television to pursue other areas, including guest appearances, performing in Las Vegas and doing voice work.

In addition to Ms. Wolpert, Kean is survived by Ms. Wolpert's husband and two children, and a stepson from her second marriage.

Last year, Ms. Kean put on a one-woman show that was a retrospective of her life's work. She performed it again at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood just months ago and had plans to travel to London after Christmas with her niece, Ms. Wolpert said. She was also preparing invitations for her annual Christmas party in the days before her death.


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Arik Einstein, Beloved Israeli Singer, Dies at 74

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 28 November 2013 | 16.43

JERUSALEM — Arik Einstein, an Israeli singer and songwriter whose blend of folk and rock helped shape a new Hebrew popular culture and whose ballads became modern Israeli anthems, died on Tuesday in Tel Aviv. He was 74.

His death, of an aortic aneurysm, was announced by Gabriel Barbash, director of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, where Mr. Einstein was taken after collapsing at home.

"There will be nobody to sing for us anymore," Professor Barbash told reporters and fans who had gathered outside the hospital on Tuesday night, setting the tone for a national outpouring of grief and nostalgia.

On Wednesday, an estimated crowd of 10,000 poured into Rabin Square, the Tel Aviv plaza named for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, where Mr. Einstein's coffin lay in state. His rendition of a modern Israeli ballad, "Cry for You," became one of the motifs of the period after Mr. Rabin's assassination in 1995.

"His songs accompanied us at all the stations of our lives — in our loves and disappointments, our ups and downs," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony in the square, adding that Mr. Einstein symbolized "the land of Israel that is beautiful, true and pure."

Mr. Einstein, who began his recording career in the 1960s, released nearly 50 albums, sometimes in collaboration with other artists. While he largely retired from the stage several decades ago and was little known internationally, his popularity at home barely waned. Last year he was voted best Israeli singer of all time by readers of the popular newspaper Yediot Aharonot. Mr. Einstein helped forge an authentic Hebrew rock culture with popular songs like "Me and You" and "Fly, Baby Bird."

"His sound was new," Motti Regev, an Israeli sociologist specializing in popular music and culture, told Israel Radio on Wednesday. "Israeli music was mostly connected to military bands and ideological music. He sought how to connect to popular music in the world, to rock, and connect it to what was taking place in Israel."

Mr. Einstein's music, crossing generations and ethnic boundaries, was a comforting and unifying force in a diverse and often divided country, and the embodiment of an older, more genteel Israel that some say does not exist anymore. He was also known for his appearances in movies and comedy skits.

Arieh Einstein was born in Tel Aviv on Jan. 3, 1939, the only child of Yaakov and Devorah Einstein. His father was an actor. He became Israel's high-jump champion as a boy and performed his military service as a member of an infantry brigade entertainment troupe.

He married Alona Shochet in 1963, and they had two daughters. The couple divorced, remarried and divorced again. She died in 2006. Mr. Einstein had two more children, a son and a daughter, with his second wife, Sima Eliyahu, an actress. She and his four children survive him.

Described by friends and acquaintances as modest and bashful, Mr. Einstein stopped performing for live audiences in the early 1980s after being seriously injured in a car accident. Though he continued recording, he largely retired from the public eye in recent years. But the newspaper Maariv announced this week that Mr. Einstein would begin writing a weekly column for its weekend supplement. He put the final touches on his first — and last — column in the hours before he died.


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For Fervent Fans of the Dutch Masters, ‘It’s a Dream Come True’

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Shin-Ichi Fukuoka, center, an avid fan of Vermeer, is flanked by works by that Dutch master at the Frick Collection's popular show "Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting From the Mauritshuis."

Shin-Ichi Fukuoka, a molecular biologist from Tokyo, really — really — loves Johannes Vermeer. He has traveled around the world to visit 34 of the 36 paintings known or believed to be Vermeers.

And last year he accepted a visiting professorship in New York in large part to witness an extraordinarily rare occurrence: the Frick Collection's own three splendid Vermeers and three Rembrandts joined briefly by 15 works on loan from one of the world's best Dutch collections, the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague, including one of the most famous faces in Western art, "Girl With a Pearl Earring."

A halo surrounds Golden Age paintings from the Northern Netherlands more than almost any period of art. The Dutch masters of the 17th century — among them Vermeer, Rembrandt, Hals, Fabritius — draw loyal and obsessive museumgoers who rival those Wagner fanatics who travel the world to hear every "Ring" cycle.

Like Mr. Fukuoka, they arrange their vacations, their business trips, their reading, their friends and a good portion of the rest of their lives around seeing the quiet masterpieces created during one of the high points in painting's history. The Frick show "Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals" — made possible because the Mauritshuis is loaning out its treasures during an extensive renovation — broke a single-day attendance record during the exhibition's first weekend. But a convergence is also driving traffic to the exhibition: With four Vermeers at the Frick through Jan. 19, five in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection, four at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and one attributed, in whole or in part, to Vermeer now on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Eastern Seaboard temporarily features 38.8 percent of all known Vermeers, accessible by Amtrak. (A reported 37th painting has long been disputed.)

"It's a dream come true," Dr. Fukuoka said during a recent visit to the Frick, explaining that, as a young man, he fell in love with Vermeer's work while researching the history of the microscope in Delft, the artist's hometown. "He doesn't try to interpret the world," he said. "There's no egocentrism. He just tried to describe the world as it was. I think of him as a photographer in an age before photography."

Dr. Fukuoka was so moved that he organized his own Vermeer exhibition in Tokyo last year, displaying high-resolution framed photographs of the paintings in a gallery that he rented, drawing 150,000 visitors over 10 months despite having not a single actual painting. (A show of Mauritshuis works on view at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum last year, including "Girl With a Pearl Earring," drew more than a million visitors over just two and a half months.)

As devoted as Dr. Fukuoka is, there are fans who have done him one, or two, better. Tracy Chevalier, who wrote "Girl With a Pearl Earring," the 1999 historical novel that inspired a movie and transformed the painting into a bona fide cultural phenomenon, has seen 36 Vermeers in her travels around the world and recently came to New York for the Frick show.

"The opportunity to see four Vermeers in one building was too good a chance to pass up," she said in a telephone interview from London, where she lives and often goes to see the four Vermeers in and around her own city. "I think one of the reasons people are drawn to Dutch painting now is because it's not religious, by and large," Ms. Chevalier said. "It's people sitting around playing cards or a woman mopping the floor, or it's a fish market or an interior of a home. I think we like to see that window onto a middle-class world that is not all that different from our own. There's something like us in there."

The line forms early, in rain or bitter cold, for the Frick show, whose timed tickets cost $20 and include the audio guide. (Admission this Friday night and other selected Friday nights is free.)

In addition to general Dutch masters mania, the show is also benefiting from the popularity of "The Goldfinch," the new novel by Donna Tartt; the book is inspired by a small, powerful painting of the same title, on loan from the Mauritshuis, by Carel Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt who died young. Heidi Rosenau, a spokeswoman for the Frick, said that the museum has felt the newfound popularity of the Fabritius painting: For every 1,000 postcards it sold of "Girl With a Pearl Earring," about 800 of "The Goldfinch" have been sold since the show opened on Oct. 22.

William Thurston, a gastroenterologist from San Jose, Calif., caught a plane to New York just to see the Frick show and attend a lecture on the visiting Dutch works by the Mauritshuis's senior curator, Quentin Buvelot.

"I wouldn't miss something like this," Dr. Thurston said. "The history of art and the history of Western culture are what I'm interested in, and they're so woven together, it's just wonderful for me to come see things like this." His passion is not limited to the Dutch; he has flown to New York on three consecutive weekends for Frick lectures about the Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini and traveled to Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington specifically to see shows covering much of the sweep of Western art. "I organize all my travel time around things like this," he said.

Jonathan Janson, an aficionado of Dutch painting who is behind the most popular and perhaps most obsessive amateur Vermeer website, essentialvermeer.com, said that in his experience, a love of Dutch painting tends to peak with Vermeer and Rembrandt.

"For example, there really aren't a lot of Frans Hals people out there, besides scholars and dealers, that I've found," said Mr. Janson, an American painter who lives in Rome and also maintains a Rembrandt site. "After the big two, there's sort of a ledge."

But that said, Dutch painting fans of all sorts seek him out as something of a high command of amateur ardor, which makes sense given that he says he sometimes spends five hours a day working on his Vermeer site.

"It might be hard to believe, but there are people traipsing around the world all the time in search of these kinds of paintings," he said. "And I guess I hear from them because they want to find somebody else who knows why they're doing this kind of crazy thing."

With longing, he added, "I wish I could be in New York right now."


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ArtsBeat: Two New Lawsuits Accuse Manhattan Gallery of Having Sold Fakes

The lawsuits keep coming.

On Wednesday, two new suits were filed against the now-shuttered gallery Knoedler & Co., demanding reimbursement for forged works of art purchased there.

In one, the Manny Silverman Gallery in Los Angeles and Richard Feigen's gallery in New York are asking to be repaid $1,050,000 for a painting that was sold as a work by Clyfford Still in 2000 as part of a three-way transaction with Knoedler.

The other, filed by Martin and Sharleen Cohen of Los Angeles, states that in October 1998, the couple bought a work said to be by Mark Rothko that turned out to be a fake. It was purchased for them from Knoedler by an intermediary, the Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery.

The Still and the Rothko paintings were part of a trove of counterfeit artworks supplied to Knoedler and another dealer, Julian Weissman, by Glafira Rosales, who pleaded guilty to fraud in September.

The Cohens also purchased what the court filing described as a fake de Kooning that had been provided to Knoedler by another admitted forger,Tony "Cha-cha" Masaccio. The Cohens are demanding to be repaid $475,000 plus interest for the two works.

More than a half dozen lawsuits have been filed against Knoedler in connection with artworks it received from Ms. Rosales. Both lawsuits name Ms. Rosales, her longtime partner Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz, the former president of Knoedler Ann Freedman and the gallery's owner Michael Hammer as participating in a conspiracy to sell work that was actually created by a Chinese immigrant in Queens.

Mr. Silverman paid $850,000 to Knoedler for the fake attributed to Still; the Feigen gallery paid the Silverman gallery $925,000 for the work. Then Mr. Feigen, in turn, sold it to Stephen Robert, a collector, for $1,050,000.

After learning the painting was forged, the Feigen and Silverman galleries promptly refunded Mr. Robert's money.

"That's what a reputable gallery does," the galleries' lawyer, Gregory Clarick, said. "By stark contrast, to date, Knoedler, Freedman and Hammer have failed to take any steps to refund the tens of millions of dollars that they pocketed from the sale of Rosales collection fakes."

Luke Nikas, Ms. Freedman's lawyer, said: "This is yet another copycat lawsuit that ignores Ms. Freedman's decade of diligence and the fact that these purchasers knew the exact risks associated with buying newly discovered works."


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 28, 2013

An earlier version of this post misspelled the given name of one of the people filing suit against the now-shuttered gallery Knoedler & Co. He is Martin Cohen, not Marvin.


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Tony Musante, Actor Known for Role in ‘Toma,’ Dies at 77

Tony Musante, a rugged-looking American actor who was seen on television, in films and on stage in the United States and Europe for over 50 years but who was probably best known for a TV series he left after one season, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 77.

ABC Television

Mr. Musante, who preferred the creative opportunities of stage and film roles, was reluctant when, in 1973, he was offered the starring role in "Toma," an ABC detective drama about a renegade police detective.

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His wife, Jane, said the cause was a hemorrhage, which occurred while he was recovering from oral surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Mr. Musante appeared opposite George C. Scott in the film "The Last Run" in 1971, on Broadway with Meryl Streep in a 1976 production of Tennessee Williams's "27 Wagons Full of Cotton," and in television dramas like "Ride With Terror," a "DuPont Show of the Week" presentation with Gene Hackman in 1963. (Mr. Musante reprised the role, as an urban psychopath, in a 1967 film adaptation titled "The Incident," with Martin Sheen.)

And then there was "Toma," the show that got away.

Mr. Musante, who preferred the creative opportunities of stage and film roles, was reluctant when, in 1973, he was offered the starring role in "Toma," an ABC detective drama about a renegade police detective. He agreed on one condition: that he have the option to leave after one season.

The show did fairly well in the ratings against formidable competition — "The Waltons" on CBS and "The Flip Wilson Show" on NBC — but Mr. Musante stuck to his guns. He left the series to take the role of Lt. William Calley, the Army officer convicted of ordering the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968, in Stanley Kramer's 1975 television movie "Judgment: The Court Martial of Lt. William Calley."

"Toma" was soon remade by its creator, Roy Huggins, as a vehicle for a replacement star, Robert Blake. The new show, renamed "Baretta," ran from 1975 to 1978 and — like other Huggins shows, including "Maverick," "The Rockford Files" and "The Fugitive" — had a successful afterlife in syndication.

"People in Hollywood always asked him if he regretted it, but he really never did," Mrs. Musante said of her husband, adding: "He didn't become the household name, or make the money he would have had he done it. But he needed variety."

Anthony Peter Musante was born in Bridgeport, Conn., on June 30, 1936, to Anthony Musante, an accountant, and the former Natalie Salerno, a schoolteacher. He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1958 and attended a summer drama school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., before moving to New York. He and his wife, the former Jane Sparkes, who also graduated from Oberlin, were married in 1962 and lived in Manhattan.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Musante is survived by two sisters, Cecelia Sisti and Katherine Walker, and a brother, Thomas.

Mr. Musante appeared in about 20 Italian films, most recently "La Vita Come Viene" (2003), directed by the Golden Globe Award-winning director Stefano Incerti. In 1976, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in an episode of the NBC drama series "Medical Story." 

He viewed his role in "Toma" as a big break, in a sense. "He got his first Broadway show because of it," his wife said — in James Kirkwood's 1975 comedy, "P.S. Your Cat is Dead!," which also starred Jennifer Warren and Keir Dullea.  Mr. Musante played a fast-talking bandit, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.


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Movie Review: ‘Homefront,’ With Winona Ryder and James Franco

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 27 November 2013 | 16.43

Nothing says Thanksgiving like a beat-'em-up written by Sylvester Stallone in which Jason Statham gets to knock the stuffing out of James Franco. If you think that's a spoiler, you've either never seen an audience-pandering movie or the poster for "Homefront," which shows a snake-eyed Mr. Franco glowering, in what appears to be hell, under an image of the stern-looking Mr. Statham overlaid with an American flag and embracing a child. The movie is as blunt an instrument as the poster, but it's also crammed with enough moving parts and unexpected distractions (Winona Ryder as a "meth whore") to make it an indefensibly enjoyable piece of exploitation hackwork.

There's a lot of plot, some of it nonsensical, and a lot of action, some of it risible. The story opens with Mr. Statham's character, Phil Broker, in a fright wig and biker clothes, pretending to be a heavy. An undercover drug enforcement agent, Phil is soon waving a gun in a darkly lit, jaggedly patched-together gun battle that pits bikers against the law and ends with his being threatened by a biker kingpin. This is basically a Hells Angels-style version of "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too." It also appears to be what screenwriting gurus like Syd Field call the Inciting Incident. In other words, Something Happens that sets the plot on its nutty way, and the director, Gary Fleder ("Kiss the Girls," "Runaway Jury"),competently connects the programmatic dots.

There's another big Plot Point, but this one happens off screen: Phil's wife conveniently dies, which finds him retiring from the D.E.A. and moving to Louisiana, that land of Spanish moss and filmmaking tax incentives, with his 10-year old, Maddy (Izabela Vidovic). There, Phil plays mother and father to Maddy, while they settle into a handsome, sprawling house and ride their horses under the atmospherically weeping trees. There's even a Romantic Interest (Rachelle Lefevre) to suggest that Phil may, you know, one day heal. But then Maddy ends up in a fight with a school bully, whose mother, Cassie (Kate Bosworth), then comes a-howling. It's unclear whether Maddy's fight is the first Plot Point or if Phil's fight with the boy's father is, but it all leads to the Hero Facing His Problem.

Superficially, this would be the apparently inbred cretins who populate this rural American freak show and are either doing or making meth amphetamine. First among these is Cassie, a hollowed-out harridan who sics her meth-making brother, Gator (Mr. Franco), on Phil. The men are a ridiculous match in an increasingly preposterous movie — a fine Ms. Ryder plays Sheryl, Gator's partner in meth and corn-pone accents — but Mr. Franco rolls his eyeballs with just enough commitment in his dinner theater version of the charismatic Southern psycho. All crazies, it seems, lead back to Robert Mitchum in "The Night of the Hunter." It's hard not to think that Mr. Franco, an irrepressible sly boots, took this role only so that he could get beaten up by Mr. Statham — well, that and the paycheck.

"Homefront" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Guns, drugs, expletives.

Homefront

Opens on Wednesday.

Directed by Gary Fleder; written by Sylvester Stallone, based on the novel by Chuck Logan; director of photography, Theo van de Sande; edited by Pat McKinley; music by Mark Isham; production design by Greg Berry; costumes by Kelli Jones; produced by Mr. Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton and John Thompson; released by Open Road. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

WITH: Jason Statham (Phil Broker), James Franco (Gator Bodine), Kate Bosworth (Cassie Klum), Winona Ryder (Sheryl Mott), Frank Grillo (Cyrus), Izabela Vidovic (Maddy Broker), Rachelle Lefevre (Susan) and Omar Miller (Teedo).


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Movie Review: ‘Cousin Jules’ Follows an Elderly Couple in a French Village

Cinema Guild

Jules Guiteaux and his wife, Félicie, in the first American commercial release of "Cousin Jules," made 40 years ago.

Modern documentary filmmaking has been often defined by speed and portability. That was true in the late '50s and early '60s, when lightweight machinery helped give birth to the cinéma vérité and direct cinema movements, and it is certainly true today, when smartphones and tiny digital cameras turn everyday life into a collective vérité project.

But there have always been anomalies, films that use slower, more cumbersome methods to contemplate reality. One of these is "Cousin Jules," Dominique Benicheti's slow and quiet study of French rural life, shot from 1968 to 1973 in a sumptuous wide-screen format with stereo sound.

"Cousin Jules" played at a few North American festivals shortly after it was completed, but its technical demands were beyond what most art-house theaters could handle. The digital restoration opening on Wednesday at the Film Forum — the movie's first American commercial release — conveys the rich images and subtle sounds that Mr. Benicheti and his crew captured during their visits to a rugged farmstead in the hills of Burgundy, the home of Jules and Félicie Guiteaux.

Both were born in 1891, but they represent a way of life that is much older. Jules, a blacksmith, works with a hand-cranked bellows and a battered metal stove, hammering out hasps and hinges with an ease and precision that represent generations of handed-down know-how. His labor has an almost musical quality, enhanced by Mr. Benicheti's sharp and subtle sound design.

The first part of "Cousin Jules" follows the couple through a day that is most likely the composite of many such days: chores punctuated by lunch in the kitchen and afternoon coffee in the barn. Jules and Félicie are residents of what is sometimes called "la France profonde," a steadfast agricultural domain that has existed in parallel, and sometimes in opposition, to the industry and cosmopolitanism of Paris and other French cities.

There is a palpable nostalgia in this 40-year-old film (comparable with what can be found in Raymond Depardon's 2008 documentary "Modern Life"), but it may also resonate among 21st-century devotees of the agrarian and the artisanal. With their hand-rolled cigarettes, free-range chickens and pour-over coffee, Jules and Félicie would be the coolest kids in Brooklyn.

Mr. Benicheti, who died in 2011, was in his 20s when he began working on "Cousin Jules," and in spite of the age of its subjects, it is full of the ambition and passion of youth. It is also hemmed in by its formal conceits. There is almost no dialogue, and it is hard to tell whether the narrowness of the couple's existence is being observed by the filmmakers or imposed by the editing process. It is clear that they are taciturn, practical people, but the film's insistence on their self-reliance, and their isolation from modernity, feels exaggerated after a while, especially when a significant death goes unmentioned.

Do they have friends? Any other family? Political opinions? Religious beliefs? In suspending such questions, and in subordinating the reality of their lives to what is in effect an art project, the filmmakers treat Jules and Félicie as exotic specimens rather than fellow citizens. There is no doubt that this condescension is unintentional, but it is also hard to miss. "Cousin Jules" is in many ways a wonder to see and hear, but there is less to it than meets the eye.

Cousin Jules

Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.

Written and directed by Dominique Benicheti; directors of photography, Pierre William Glenn and Paul Launay; edited by Marie Genevieve Ripeau; released by Cinema Guild. At the Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. In French, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes. This film is not rated.


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Book Published in 1640 Sets a Record at Auction

The little volume of psalms, one of only 11 known to exist out of roughly 1,700 printed by 17th-century Puritans in Massachusetts, went for $14,165,000 at auction on Tuesday.

The buyer of the Bay Psalm Book, as it is known, was David M. Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group, an investment firm in Washington. Mr. Rubenstein has bought a number of historical documents in recent years, including a copy of Magna Carta for $21 million in 2007 (or $23.7 million today, adjusted for inflation).

He placed his bid by telephone from Australia and told the auctioneer, David N. Redden of Sotheby's, that he planned to lend it to libraries across the country to display, eventually arranging a long-term loan to one of them.

"His intention is not to take these kinds of objects home," Mr. Redden said.

The price, which included the auction house's premium, set a record for a book sold at auction, beating the $11.54 million paid in 2010 for a copy of John James Audubon's "Birds of America" (equivalent to $12.39 million today).

The Bay Psalm Book was published in 1640, more than a century and a half after the first Gutenberg Bibles and 20 years after the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth. It was the first book turned out by a printing press that had been shipped over from England. The press operator was a locksmith who was apparently learning as he went along: some of the pages were bound in the wrong order. At the bottom of one, someone wrote, "Turn back a leaf."

"It's one of those things where there are 11 known copies, so it's one of the holy grails for book collectors," Michael Inman, the curator of rare books at the New York Public Library, said this month. (The library owns one of the 10 other copies. It sold at Sotheby's in London in 1855 for 19 shillings, which Mr. Inman estimated was 1,900 British pounds or about $3,075.)

The Puritans, who disdained the King James Version of the Bible, retranslated the psalms from Hebrew. They meant their translations to be sung a cappella — at church or at home.

The copy that was sold on Tuesday had belonged to Boston's Old South Church. Over the years, its congregation has included Samuel Adams, the colonial patriot who was a cousin of President John Adams, and Elizabeth Vergoose, a printer's wife who is thought to be the Mother Goose of the nursery rhymes. Its ministers included Thomas Prince, the grandson of the last governor of Plymouth Colony.

Prince was also a book collector who stashed his collection in the nooks and crannies of the church. His New-England-Library, as he called it, apparently included two copies of the Bay Psalm Book, according to Sotheby's (whose curators question whether he managed to acquire five, as some accounts say). The church sent both copies to the Boston Public Library for safekeeping in 1866; the other copy is not being sold.

The congregation voted last year to sell one copy to pay for ministries and repairs to the church's 1875 building. The church's historian, a longtime member of the congregation, resigned his post to protest the sale, and a successor was named.

Although the volume of psalms did not draw the pre-sale estimate of $15 million to $30 million, the church's senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor, said she was "thrilled with that price."

"We couldn't be happier with the buyer, we couldn't be happier with the amount," she said. "This is amazing. A year ago, we were wondering if we could get $5 million for it. We didn't know."


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World Briefing | Europe: Romania: Leaders of Dutch Museum Theft Sentenced

Two leaders of a gang who stole paintings by Matisse, Monet and Picasso from a Dutch museum were given sentences of six years and eight months on Tuesday. The gang, led by Radu Dogaru and Eugen Darie, stole seven paintings from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam in last year. The works have not been found. Mr. Dogaru's mother told prosecutors that she burned the paintings, but later retracted her statement. She remains on trial for destroying the paintings. Three others are also on trial.


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Dance Review: Mark Morris Dance Group Presents ‘L’Allegro’

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 24 November 2013 | 16.44

In 1988, Mark Morris was given the break most choreographers only dream of: a three-year residency at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, where money and resources flowed like water. He could choreograph his heart out, and he did, creating one of those rare, euphoric dances that make life worth living.

A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.

Celebrating its anniversary at Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, "L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato," which Mr. Morris first presented 25 years ago to the day on Saturday, is set to Handel's 1740 oratorio and takes its text from Milton's pastoral poems "L'Allegro" (the cheerful, happy man) and "Il Penseroso" (the thoughtful, pensive man). The two-act production, performed by his company on Thursday and conducted with zeal by Nicholas McGegan, glides through 32 dance sequences that shift in setting from the countryside, where it's fine to wander by "hedgerow elms, on hillocks green," to the "populous cities."

Framed by Adrianne Lobel's deceptively simple set, a series of moving color planes that allude to the poetic language without being literal and that give the stage depth and distance or enclose it like a zooming lens, the dance has a pulse that extends past its choreographic spine. Just as the poems snap between action and thought, Ms. Lobel's colors, glowing under James F. Ingalls's lighting, saturate the stage with joy or invoke melancholy so that nothing about "L'Allegro" is in isolation.

Rather, harmony is everywhere, from the many moments of symmetry — a dancer in the foreground is mirrored by another behind a scrim — to the shapes themselves, in which shoulders and hands may appear to be hovering in a state of velvety relaxation, but are precisely controlled. Dancers become a breeze of bodies; dipping a shoulder down, they run on edges to give the stage a sense of air and resistance.

There are ghosts in "L'Allegro" — the ancient Greeks, Isadora Duncan — but what gives it soul is the dancers' modern sensuality. The tiny, fearless Lauren Grant, often front and center, floats through brisk little jumps without a care in the world, clicking her heels and bouncing higher than the others before sprinting away wildly.

In his bird dance, Dallas McMurray — the Allegro lark — darts his head with clipped curiosity, hopping on one foot and then the other as his arms carve behind his back like wings. He's so innocent in his solitude that you want to make a nest with your hands to protect him from the ensemble — a real flock this time — that sends him flitting offstage into the wings.

And as the melancholy nightingale lured to the wandering moon, Maile Okamura is unsurpassed. Her delicate bone structure lends her avian grace — her arms are feather-light — as her feet skitter backward with such demon speed that she nearly floats.

The brazen beauty of the ensemble sections is another kind of irresistible, especially during the walking dance, which knits simple steps into kaleidoscopic patterns, and during the work's enchanting finale, in which dancers run toward the edge of the stage and splinter off before forming three circles. In the center are three women, a flashback to an early scene featuring the Three Graces; as the stage pulsates with swirling bodies, it is this center where "the hidden soul of harmony" lies. "L'Allegro" is Mr. Morris unfiltered.

The Mark Morris Dance Group performs through Saturday at the David. H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center; 212-721-6500, whitelightfestival.org.


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Music Review: Pacifica Performs Ornstein’s 1927 Piano Quintet

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Marc-André Hamelin, seated at the piano, joined the Pacifica Quartet at Zankel Hall on Tuesday. From left, in foreground, Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson, Brandon Vamos and Masumi Per Rostad.

Stormy. Stunning. Visionary. Heroic. Those were some of the words that lingered in my mind after the Pacifica Quartet's Tuesday evening concert of works by Leo Ornstein and Beethoven at Zankel Hall. And I wasn't thinking about Beethoven.

In the first half, the Pacifica was joined by the voraciously curious and virtuosic pianist Marc-André Hamelin in a performance of Ornstein's Piano Quintet that left me baffled as to why this masterful work of chamber music is not part of the standard repertory. It was written in 1927, after all. In Philadelphia.

But if Ornstein's music is so little known, it's because for much of his life he wanted it that way. The son of a Jewish cantor in Ukraine, Ornstein was born in 1893. Soon after moving to New York in 1906, he rose to fame as a pianist of enormous technical gifts. Over the next decade he also gained notoriety as a composer of spiky Modernist works with titles like "Danse Sauvage" that featured pounding, complex rhythms and piercing cluster chords. But over the course of the 1920s he began to turn his back on performing and then dedicated himself to composing in private — for a time, in a trailer in Texas — until his death in Wisconsin, at 108, in 2002.

The monumental piano quintet — it runs close to 40 minutes — creates an idiosyncratic musical language that might be called Late Late Romanticism. The folk motifs of the first movement, marked Allegro barbaro, are quarried from the same Russian soil as those used by Stravinsky in "The Rite of Spring" and are propelled by similar irregular rhythms. But the fluid and expressive development of this material echoes the late Romantic chamber music of French composers like Ravel and Fauré. "Fluid" is perhaps an odd word to use for a movement that includes violent changes of temperament and rudely interrupted phrases, but Ornstein's sense of narrative is supremely assured. Mr. Hamelin, often pushed into the role of percussionist, and the Pacifica played with a sense of visceral excitement.

In the heart-stoppingly beautiful Andante lamentoso, a seductive modal melody rises above a tender piano accompaniment. Passed from one string player to the next, the melody is cocooned by gauzy dissonances created by the remaining three quartet members. Moments like these were rendered with exquisite subtlety by Mr. Hamelin and the Pacifica.

A rustic dance — the thick-soled shoe kind — introduces the third movement, in which quiet melancholic moments give way to punishing rhythms and sudden harmonic U-turns. At the end, the work appears to head for a conciliatory resolution until one final downward chord change on the piano leaves it dangling like a window shutter with a broken hinge.

There were dramatic gestures and sudden changes in harmony in the Pacifica's rendition of Beethoven's String Quartet in B flat (Op. 130), too, which included the great fugue he initially composed for the final movement before replacing it with a less unwieldy Allegro. But there were also occasional impurities in intonation, and the extreme dynamic contrasts, which were so arresting in the Ornstein, did not always serve the structure of Beethoven's music. I admired the quartet's willingness to take risks, though. The decision to program Ornstein's Piano Quintet — the group will record it this winter — is one that paid off richly.

The Pacifica Quartet performs on Sunday in Rimini, Italy, and on Wednesday in Gauting, Germany; pacificaquartet.com.


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Principal Auctioneer of Sotheby’s Is Leaving Post

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Tobias Meyer has been the public face of Sotheby's for nearly two decades.

Tobias Meyer, the chief auctioneer for Sotheby's, has been the public face and a deal-making catalyst for one of the world's most powerful auction houses.

A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.

Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

The departure of Tobias Meyer, right, with Mark Fletcher, from Sotheby's has surprised many art dealers and buyers.

As head of its contemporary art department, he has pursued and persuaded collectors to let him sell their masterpieces. He auctioned Edvard Munch's pastel, "The Scream," for nearly $120 million last year. And last week he sold Andy Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)" for $104.5 million.

But on Friday, the company announced that Mr. Meyer was leaving by mutual decision. He said he wants a career change that will put him on the opposite side of the auction podium he has dominated for 20 years. He said he intended to continue working with collectors, only this time as a private dealer.

Sotheby's tried to play down the loss, calling to assuage important clients and minimize the impact, according to dealers in the field. But the news jolted the art world, where Mr. Meyer had the ear of many powerful buyers, including the publishing magnate S. I. Newhouse Jr., the fashion designer Tom Ford, the Taipei businessman Pierre Chen and the entertainment mogul David Geffen.

While his departure follows Sotheby's biggest sale ever, totaling $380 million, on Nov. 14, the firm finished a distant second to its archrival, Christie's, whose own sale the previous night brought in $691.5 million.

The news also comes at a particularly vulnerable moment for the auction house. Sotheby's has been under attack by the activist investor and hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, who said last month that he wanted to join the company's board and called for William F. Ruprecht, its chief executive, to step down, describing the company as having a "crisis of leadership." Mr. Loeb, who owns 9.3 percent of the company and is its largest shareholder, added, "Sotheby's is like an old master painting in desperate need of restoration."

It also comes as Sotheby's has been losing business to Christie's, after traditionally running neck and neck. Christie's edge began increasing several years ago when, to win market share, the firm started giving sellers especially lucrative financial incentives. (Sotheby's, to be competitive, followed.)

The company's critics say it is falling behind Christie's in Asia, especially in China, an increasingly important market where Christie's this year won permission to independently hold sales. And they want Sotheby's to use its assets more efficiently, including selling its New York headquarters — a step Sotheby's is considering.

The two competitors are markedly different. While Sotheby's is a publicly traded company on the New York stock exchange with shareholders to answer to, Christie's is privately held, and its owner, François Pinault, the luxury goods magnate based in Paris, is a passionate collector himself, with deep pockets.

At Sotheby's, Mr. Ruprecht declined to comment about Mr. Meyer's exit, but in a statement he said: "With Tobias's contract soon expiring, we all agreed it was time to part ways. We wish Tobias nothing but good fortune."

Not wanting to make it seem as though one of the company's biggest profit centers was left rudderless, Mr. Ruprecht praised the contemporary art team of more than 60 employees led by Alexander Rotter in New York and Cheyenne Westphal in Europe. (Sotheby's may not be the only auction house to lose a big business-getter. Several art dealers said they had heard that Amy Cappellazzo, Christie's chairwoman of post-war and contemporary art development, is leaving the company; a Christie's official denied that.)

Dealers said on Friday that their phones had been ringing nonstop with the news. "People are surprised," said Larry Gagosian, the super-dealer. "Tobias has been a larger-than-life presence in the auction world. He wore two big hats and that will be a challenge to fill."

Graham Bowley contributed reporting.


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Pittsburgh Center Honoring Playwright Finds Itself Short on Visitors and Donors

PITTSBURGH — The bank has sued to foreclose. The city's philanthropic groups, with names like Mellon and Heinz, have withdrawn support. The $42 million August Wilson Center for African American Culture, a bow-front building inspired by a Swahili sailing ship, is high and dry.

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

A conservator has taken over control of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The playwright August Wilson, about five months before his death in 2005, found poetry among poor Pittsburgh blacks.

Named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who found a street-savvy poetry in the lives of poor Pittsburgh blacks, the culture center's plight has been especially painful for those who had hoped it would enshrine the music, art and literature of the urban world he knew.

Instead, it appears to be a victim of mismanagement by its senior staff and board of directors, who borrowed to build a grand palace of culture, but failed to find a wide enough audience and donor base in the hometown of Wilson, whose plays are mostly set in the Hill District just blocks away.

"It's extremely sad," said R. Daniel Lavelle, a city councilman who represents the Hill District, a largely poor neighborhood. "I know what August Wilson's name means in terms of history, and I know the impact a national African-American theater can mean to both Pittsburgh and the country."

On Monday, a state judge handed control of the cultural center to a conservator, usurping its board in a final effort to avoid liquidation. The bank that holds the mortgage, which has gone unpaid for months, is advancing $25,000 to pay the conservator. The culture center is flat broke.

Mark Clayton Southers, a former director of its theater program, said the Wilson center struggled to find an audience among the people Wilson portrayed: working-class blacks, many of whom feel unwelcome downtown with its skyscrapers and largely white-owned businesses, he added.

"You can't build it and they will come," Mr. Southers said. "Not when you're trying to work with a community that is not traditional theatergoers or cultural consumers."

Mr. Southers said the center's board sometimes displayed an indifference to August Wilson. It was rare, he said, to see board members at the performances of the Wilson plays he staged. Money was so tight that when he put on Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean" in 2012, in a joint production with his own independent company, the center charged him rent for its 486-seat theater. He could not get management to print tickets.

Wilson, who died in 2005, turned the lives of trash haulers, landladies and cabdrivers scarred by racism into a cycle of 10 plays, one for each decade of the 20th century. Almost all are set in the Hill District where Wilson grew up, the son of a black cleaning woman and a white father who largely abandoned him. Most of the plays ran on Broadway, including "The Piano Lesson" and "Fences," which starred James Earl Jones.

Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle of plays "have been hailed as a unique triumph in American literature," according to a state historical marker outside his childhood home on Bedford Avenue. The building is boarded up and decrepit. "It's an eyesore," acknowledged Paul Ellis, a nephew of Wilson's, who bought the three-story brick building and seeks to turn it into an arts center.

Mr. Ellis, a 44-year-old lawyer, recalled how throngs crowded Centre Avenue in the Hill District for his uncle's funeral. "People shouted, 'We love you August!' "

At a new library on the avenue, a wall-size map of "August Wilson's Hill" identifies the imagined locations of his plays. A lone reader flipping through a newspaper, Dale Hall, admitted he had never seen one. Looking through a window at a block of mostly boarded-up storefronts, Mr. Hall, 49, ticked off businesses that had closed — Eddie's restaurant, Hamm's barber shop. Idle men sat on steps. "The people up here don't want to work," scoffed Mr. Hall, a disabled former steelworker.

But there are also clear signs of renewal, including well-kept mixed-rent housing developments and a new supermarket that opened last month with public subsidies after a 30-year effort.


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Theater Review: ‘Macbeth,’ With Ethan Hawke at the Vivian Beaumont

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 22 November 2013 | 16.43

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Ethan Hawke as Macbeth surrounded by the three witches, from left, Malcolm Gets, John Glover and Byron Jennings.

It's the Witches' world. Macbeth just lives in it.

That's the only sensible conclusion to be drawn from Jack O'Brien's dark and dismal new production of "Macbeth," which opened on Thursday night at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, starring Malcolm Gets, John Glover and Byron Jennings as the Witches. (The production also features a lost soul named Ethan Hawke in the title role, but let's not distract ourselves from the main event.)

And you thought this briskest of Shakespeare's tragedies (well, usually it is) was about "vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself" and all that other poetic psychological stuff. Nope. As interpreted in this Lincoln Center Theater production, "Macbeth" is the story of three Weird — seriously weird — Sisters, as the Witches are fondly known, who get their kicks moving around and tearing up human beings like nasty little girls who decapitate their paper dolls.

The witches are themselves in thrall to an evil mistress, Hecate, the queen of night. She has been given a greatly expanded role here (with a speech that may have been interpolated by Shakespeare's contemporary Thomas Middleton) and is portrayed by Francesca Faridany in demented Lady Gaga glad rags. But it's her minions' progress that gives this show its through line.

Played with down-and-dirty glee, and more than a touch of camp by Messrs. Gets, Glover and Jennings, the witches show up in different guises to propel the doom of a certain bewildered Scotsman. Their incarnations include a wounded soldier, a drunken porter (Mr. Glover, who sports sagging breasts) and various lords of the court.

If you are otherwise bored, you can always divert yourself by playing a sort of satanic "Where's Waldo?" game as you try to spot the Witches in their latest human camouflage. Lest you have any doubts about what shapes fate here, the very stage has been rendered (by the designer Scott Pask) as a big black mandala, a Kaballah-inspired talisman from the late Middle Ages. Destiny, as well as spiritual hierarchy, is etched in its boards.

Within this forbidding context, individual motivation doesn't count for much, which means character takes a back seat to mystical symmetry. That atmosphere is summoned in a glamorous style that crosses the sensibilities of German Expressionism and the "Hellraiser" horror movies by a team that includes Japhy Weideman (lighting), Mark Bennett (music and sound), Catherine Zuber (who did the era-melding costumes) and Jeff Sugg (projections).

If any of the characters were asked to answer for their bloody deeds, they would have an all-purpose response: "The Witches made me do it." Under the circumstances, this ready-made explanation is a godsend, or a devilsend, since few of the performers — including Daniel Sunjata as a vigorous Macduff, Brian d'Arcy James as a hearty Banquo and Anne-Marie Duff as a walking fashion photo op of a Lady Macbeth — give you a clue as to why their characters act as they do.

Though best known as a movie star, Mr. Hawke has demonstrated his stage-worthiness in shows that include David Rabe's "Hurlyburly" (which, O his prophetic soul, has a "Macbeth"-citing title!) and two epics for Mr. O'Brien at Lincoln Center, "The Coast of Utopia" and "Henry IV." His Macbeth, alas, is swallowed up by the prevailing shadows and spectacle.

Mr. Hawke, in turn, swallows many of his lines. His is a mumblecore Macbeth, an heir to the petulant Hamlet he played on screen 13 (ooh, 13) years ago. He delivers Shakespeare's poetry like a moody, glue-sniffing teenager reciting Leonard Cohen lyrics to himself.

He exudes a matching adolescent snarkiness, giving a sarcastic spin to his words. Considering his imminent murder of Duncan (Richard Easton) and the compunction that might stay his hand, he snarls at the idea of pity stepping in "like a naked newborn babe."

A charitable interpretation might be Macbeth already knows the game is fixed, and any suggestion it might be otherwise has to be sneered at. But, hooded in impenetrable sullenness, he never gives us entry to an interior life with which we might identify.


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Theater Review: Amanda Peet’s ‘Commons of Pensacola’ at City Center

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

The Commons of Pensacola at City Center, with Blythe Danner, left, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

A gaping emotional sinkhole opens under the stylish boots of Becca, a struggling actress portrayed by a well-known one, Sarah Jessica Parker, in the new play "The Commons of Pensacola" by Amanda Peet — another actress, of course, here making a creditable debut as a playwright with this Manhattan Theater Club production.

Becca has come to comfort her mother, Judith, played by Blythe Danner, now exiled to a modest retirement home on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Judith, we soon learn, is the disgraced wife of a financier jailed for losing millions of his clients' money while living high. (Think of you-know-who.) The sins of the father have spread their toxic influence throughout the family, but by the conclusion of Ms. Peet's absorbing drama, which opened on Thursday night at City Center, Becca has become the victim taking the most collateral damage — at least within the family. She's lost some faith in her boyfriend as well as her mother's honesty and, more crucial, her own emotional equilibrium.

"The Commons of Pensacola," sensitively directed by Lynne Meadow, provides a welcome opportunity to watch two theater veterans of different generations share the stage, both in excellent form. Ms. Danner has spent much of her career onstage, although she has made intermittent film and television appearances and is known to many now as la mère Paltrow. Ms. Parker is known to virtually everyone as Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City." But she's been a Broadway baby since she was a mere tyke and has regularly returned to theater work throughout her career; her 12-year absence from the stage during the spike-heeled reign of Carrie marked one of her longer absences. (She last appeared in 2001 in David Lindsay-Abaire's "Wonder of the World," on this very stage.)

Ms. Peet has given both actors some rich material to chew on in this briskly paced 80-minute drama. Becca, who at 43 is clinging by her fingertips to an acting career, arrives for Thanksgiving aiming to be the pepper upper, calmer of troubled waters and possible rehabilitator of her mother's public image. She's got her new boyfriend, the television producer Gabe (Michael Stahl-David), in tow, and she agrees to keep mum about the presence of her niece, Lizzy (Zoe Levin), who's joining the family for a stealth visit.

Lizzy's mother broke off relations with Judith when the scandal erupted, for reasons that will eventually be clarified. Despite this brutal blow, Ms. Danner's Judith seems to be meeting the challenges of her public shaming with equanimity. Her sardonic references to the humble new digs she's moved into may leave little puddles of disdain all over the carpeting, and her health is definitely precarious: She needs her maid, Lorena (the fine actor and, go figure, playwright Nilaja Sun, of "No Child ..."), to remind her which pills to take when.

But she exudes the chilly pride of a woman who refuses to play the game of self-flagellation that seems to be required of her since the taint of scandal enveloped the whole family. (The question of "What did she know?" still looms in the public mind.) Judith has kept her chin up and her humor intact, and Ms. Danner delivers her brittle commentary on her humiliations with clipped understatement. "I'm the only person in the entire state of Florida who can't wait to get Alzheimer's," she cracks.

Just how much strength Judith has retained becomes apparent when Gabe tactlessly reveals his and Becca's plan to make a "docu-series" about the family's reaction to the patriarch's disgrace. The air of self-mocking suffering dries up quickly, and Ms. Danner shows us the outrage (and the rage) simmering underneath.

Parrying Gabe's increasingly aggressive attempts to persuade her to participate, Judith seems to grow claws instantly, bristling at his hints that she must have had an inkling that her husband's business was not entirely aboveboard. "I've learned to recognize a scam artist when I see one," she says with an icy savagery, shutting down the conversation before adding, with a bitter humor, "Better late than never."


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Sylvia Browne Dies at 77; Self-Proclaimed Psychic

Sylvia Browne, a self-proclaimed psychic who claimed to be able to see into the past, the future and the afterlife — and who saw many of her books ascend best-seller lists — died on Wednesday in San Jose, Calif. She was 77.

Her death, announced on her website, was confirmed by Leslie Kelsay, a spokeswoman for Good Samaritan Hospital, where Ms. Browne died. No cause was given.

Psychics tend to be sure of themselves, and Ms. Browne was no exception. She said she could reach back centuries to speak to the dead. She claimed to have helped police departments find murder suspects and their missing victims. She often took credit for accurately predicting that the government intern Chandra Levy would be found dead in Rock Creek Park in Washington — though law enforcement officials had been searching that area since shortly after she was reported missing in May 2001.

More than once, with the television cameras rolling, Ms. Browne told the parents of a missing child that their son or daughter was dead — sometimes she would say precisely where — only for the child to be found alive later. In 2004, she told the mother of the Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry that her daughter was dead. Ms. Berry, held captive for more than a decade, was rescued this May.

Although Ms. Browne often appeared on shows like "Larry King Live" and was a regular guest on "The Montel Williams Show," much of her income came from customers who paid $700 to ask her questions over the telephone for 30 minutes.

She was frequently taken to task by skeptics, most notably the professional psychic debunker James Randi. But the questions raised about her abilities did not damage her appeal as an author.

She published more than 40 books, and many were mainstays on The New York Times's best-seller list. Among the most popular titles were "Secrets & Mysteries of the World," "If You Could See What I See," "Insight" and "End of Days," which featured her interpretation of various end-of-the-world prophecies.

Sylvia Browne was born Sylvia Shoemaker on Oct. 19, 1936, and grew up in Kansas City, Mo. "Her powers manifested themselves when she was 3 years old," according to the website of the Society of Novus Spiritus, a Gnostic Christian organization she founded in 1986.

Her biography on that site says she earned a graduate degree in English at an unspecified university and worked for 18 years as a teacher in a Catholic school, and that she trained as a hypnotist and "trance medium."

Survivors include her husband, Michael Ulery; two sons from a previous marriage, Christopher and Paul Dufresne; three grandchildren; and a sister, Sharon Bortolussi. 

Ms. Browne released many videos through her website. In 2012, she made a brief video that she said was intended to put at ease people who were concerned that the world would end on Dec. 12.

"Although I do believe that the world will sustain itself, I don't believe we're going to be here after about 95 years," she said. "People get very concerned about that, but it's not going to be some type of horrible monster coming out of the sea and eating you or tearing your flesh off and throwing people down into a pit of hell. A loving God would not do that to anybody. You have to think logically."


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Louis D. Rubin Jr., Founder of Algonquin Books, Dies at 89

Harry Lynch/News & Observer

Louis D. Rubin Jr., a founder of Algonquin Books as well as a journalist, teacher, novelist and essayist, at age 75.

Louis D. Rubin Jr., whose wide-ranging career as a man of letters — he was a teacher, novelist, essayist, editor and publisher, among other things — was devoted to the practice and promotion of American Southern writing, died on Saturday in Pittsboro, N.C. He was 89.

Mr. Rubin had heart and kidney ailments, his brother, Manning, said in confirming the death.

After starting his professional life as a journalist, a trade he once described as a "literary entree, the chance to commence a vocation in writing," Mr. Rubin eventually found newspaper work stifling and turned to literature.

He wrote three novels himself, which drew on his own upbringing as a Jew in the South between the world wars: "The Golden Weather" (1961), "Surfaces of a Diamond" (1981) and "The Heat of the Sun" (1995). He also wrote personal histories, including "An Honorable Estate" (2001), a memoir of his newspaper days, and "My Father's People: A Family of Southern Jews" (2002).

But in a life of prolific production — he wrote or edited more than 30 books — his greatest contribution was as a cultural historian and critic who became, as the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities described him, "perhaps the person most responsible for the emergence of Southern literature as a field of scholarly inquiry."

In 1953, Mr. Rubin edited, with Robert D. Jacobs, a collection of essays, "Southern Renascence: The Literature of the Modern South," which many critics have considered seminal in the definition of Southern writing as a distinct regional literature. The two edited a second collection, "South: Modern Literature in Its Cultural Setting," in 1961.

Among Mr. Rubin's own critical works are "Thomas Wolfe: The Weather of His Youth"; "The Wary Fugitives," a study of Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, Donald Davidson and Robert Penn Warren, four of the poets who established the literary magazine Fugitive at Vanderbilt University in the 1920s; and "The Faraway Country: Writers of the Modern South," a 1963 collection that includes essays about William Faulkner's legacy and the promise of a young William Styron.

Over more than three decades of teaching, first at Hollins College (now Hollins University) in Virginia and later at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was mentor to a host of writers with distinctive Southern voices and now familiar names, among them Annie Dillard, Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons and Jill McCorkle.

With another student, Shannon Ravenel, Mr. Rubin founded Algonquin Books in his Chapel Hill home in 1983. Created to be a hospitable alternative to the publishing houses at the insular nexus of the industry in New York, Algonquin has published dozens of writers of fiction and nonfiction, both Southern and not, and even a few New Yorkers.

In the opening essay of "Faraway Country," Mr. Rubin wrote about what he considered the characteristics of modern Southern literature. As the 20th century proceeded, he suggested, Southern writers felt themselves both part of and apart from the rest of American culture. And perhaps counterintuitively, he posited Mark Twain — who grew up in Hannibal, in northern Missouri, in the 19th century — as nonetheless "the prototype of the Southern writers of our time."

"Like them he grew up in a small, contained community, and like them he was propelled by his art and his times far beyond that community," Mr. Rubin wrote. "Westward and then eastward he went, into the busy life of post-Civil War industrial America. By the accident of American history the country of Northern Missouri was not allowed to remain sleepy, Southern and contained; indeed, the economic and political forces that destroyed agrarian America were already at work during his boyhood.

"Only in the Confederate South was the industrialization of America arrested, by the military and economic defeat of the War, and communities like Mark Twain's Hannibal allowed to exist for another half-century. Not until the 20th century did the South feel importantly the effects of the industrialization that was changing the face of American life. Then it too produced distinguished writers whose art mirrored the transition of one kind of life to another."

Louis Decimus Rubin Jr. was born in Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 19, 1923. His father, Henry, was an electrical contractor whose business foundered during the Depression but who, after moving to Richmond, had a second career as a popular amateur meteorologist known in Virginia as the Weather Wizard.

Young Louis spent two years at the University of Charleston and then served in the Army during World War II, working for the base newspaper at Fort Benning, Ga. After the war he finished his bachelor's degree at the University of Richmond and then worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in New Jersey and Virginia and for The Associated Press.

He later entered the writing program at Johns Hopkins, earning an M.A. and a Ph.D. (His Thomas Wolfe book began as his dissertation.)

In addition to his brother, Mr. Rubin is survived by his wife, Eva Redfield, whom he met at Johns Hopkins and married in 1951; a sister, Joan Schoenes; two sons, Robert and William; and two grandchildren.

"The nature of the daily editorial format was inhibiting me from communicating the complexity of a topic," Mr. Rubin wrote about why he gave up journalism for the literary life. In his later work he indeed did not shy from the complexities of Southern culture, including its painfully ingrained racial prejudice, even when examining himself. Looking back on his return to the South after his sojourn in New Jersey, he chastised himself for having idealized the region.

"I had even rationalized myself into believing — more accurately, into thinking I believed — that Southern racial arrangements were something other than the flagrant injustice they were to black Southerners," he wrote. "I don't think I was really a segregationist, but such was my sense of alienation from the urban metropolitan milieu I now found myself inhabiting that I had managed to persuade myself that the recent Brown v. Board of Education decision of the Supreme Court was — well, not so much wrong as premature, too far ahead of its time. Such was the power of nostalgia and the wish to Go Home Again."


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Theater Review: ‘Too Much, Too Much, Too Many’ From Roundabout Underground

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 21 November 2013 | 16.43

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

From left, Luke Kirby, James Rebhorn and Phyllis Somerville in "Too Much, Too Much, Too Many," at the Black Box Theater.

A grieving widow immures herself in her bedroom, surrounded by little more than stacks of overdue library books and her aching memory, in "Too Much, Too Much, Too Many," a subdued but affecting new play by Meghan Kennedy that opened on Wednesday night at the Roundabout Underground's Black Box Theater.

Directed with a feathery touch by Sheryl Kaller ("Next Fall"), the play moves fluidly between scenes set in the present and the near past. In the present, Rose (Phyllis Somerville) exchanges minimal conversation with her daughter Emma (Rebecca Henderson), giving her cooking tips in exchange for having Emma recite the slightly gruesome details surrounding the discovery of the body of Rose's husband and Emma's father, James (James Rebhorn).

"They pulled him out real slow," Emma says, trying to keep a note of exhaustion out of her voice. "He had seaweed in his hair. His shirt was tucked in. Belt was still tight. His face was serene."

Rose listens with no apparent emotion, although she clearly needs to drink in these details repeatedly, as if to form a picture in the mind that could somehow fill the hollow in her heart. As played with grit and dry humor by Ms. Somerville, Rose gradually begins to emerge from her emotional cocoon, but she still refuses to leave her room. (Unclear, exactly, is how she's subsisting; presumably she opens the door occasionally to receive food, but the play, which sometimes strains a little earnestly for the poetic, never shows this.)

In the hopes that an outsider might help draw her mother out, Emma has invited the new local pastor, played with quiet warmth by Luke Kirby, to visit. He pulls up a chair outside Rose's door and reads from the Bible, or makes casual chitchat. Eventually, when Rose has taken a liking to him, they play card games under the door. (Rose cheats.)

Meanwhile, in the kitchen where Emma spends most of her time, scenes from the recent past are slipped in, like leaves stuck in the pages of a book. In delicate hues, they movingly show the sad progress of James's Alzheimer's disease. Although his role is perhaps the play's smallest, Mr. Rebhorn gives a beautiful portrait of a man struggling to come to terms with his faltering mind. Hale and frankly refusing to believe the doctor's news at first, James becomes more scattered (if not more resigned) with each succeeding scene, culminating in a heartbreaking final moment in which he simply stares into the distance, as if searching for something, while Emma tries wordlessly to comfort him.

Despite its effusive title, Ms. Kennedy's play maintains such a soft, steady tone that even at 75 minutes it feels underpowered. A subplot depicting a budding romance between Emma and the pastor is a touch formulaic, especially when he reveals his own history of recent loss. But Mr. Kirby and Ms. Henderson give nicely matched performances, with Emma's wariness gradually giving way as the pastor tries to draw her out of the self-protective cocoon she, too, has become comfortable living inside.

The crisp dialogue occasionally lapses into a surprising floweriness. The title, for instance, derives from Rose's recollections of how James's idea of a date was an evening spent in a rowboat on the lake, fishing. She conjures up the words he used to woo her: "You have too much beauty for this lake to hold. Too much beauty for this night. Too many stars you're outshining." This lyricism doesn't quite square with the picture of the earthbound James presented in the other scenes, but then the private history of our parents' love affair might surprise any of us.

Too Much, Too Much, Too Many

By Meghan Kennedy; directed by Sheryl Kaller; sets by Wilson Chin; costumes by Jess Goldstein; lighting by Zach Blane; music and sound by Broken Chord; production stage manager, Vanessa Coakley; production manager, Michael Wade; general manager, Nicholas J. Caccavo; artistic producer, Robyn Goodman; associate producers, Jill Rafson and Josh Fiedler; associate managing director, Greg Backstrom; associate artistic director, Scott Ellis. Presented by the Roundabout Theater Company, Todd Haimes, artistic director; Harold Wolpert, managing director; Julia C. Levy, executive director; Sydney Beers, general manager. At the Black Box Theater, Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theater, 111 West 46th Street, Manhattan, 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org. Through Jan. 5. Running time: 1 hour 5 minutes.

WITH: Rebecca Henderson (Emma), Luke Kirby (Pastor Hidge), James Rebhorn (James) and Phyllis Somerville (Rose).


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ArtsBeat: Andris Nelsons to Conduct During Tanglewood’s 2014 Season

His efforts to make it there last summer were thwarted by injury. But Andris Nelsons will head to the Berkshires this summer for his first appearances at the Tanglewood Festival since he was named the music director designate of the Boston Symphony Orchestra  — with plans to conduct music by Dvorak, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rolf Martinsson and Christopher Rouse.

The performances by Mr. Nelsons — who had to withdraw from his scheduled appearance at the festival last summer after a household accident left him with a concussion — promise to be among the highlights of the 2014 Tanglewood season, which will be announced on Thursday.

American music will be a focus of the season, from an all-American opening night gala to feature the soprano Renée Fleming on July 5 to performances of Bernstein's "Candide,"  a new chamber version of Jack Beeson's opera "Lizzie Borden,"  a selection of "Old American Songs" by Aaron Copland to be sung by the baritone Thomas Hampson, and the premiere of William Bolcom's "Circus Overture" at a concert celebrating the 70th birthday of the conductor Leonard Slatkin.

The Boston Symphony plans to play 22 concerts, including a performance of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony with Christoph von Dohnányi, an all-Tchaikovsky program with Yo-Yo Ma and a program with Emanuel Ax performing Beethoven's "Emperor"  Concerto.

A festival-within-the-festival of contemporary music will feature the work of John Adams, Steve Mackey, George Perle, Bernard Rands and Roger Sessions, along with a number of younger composers. And John Williams will once again lead a night of film music with the Boston Pops, which also plans to play along to a screening of "The Wizard of Oz."

The festival is set to run from June 28 to Aug. 30.


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ArtsBeat: Philip Glass Is Among the Offerings at Nashville’s New Contemporary Arts Center

Nashville has long been the capital of a particular strain of country music, and lately the Nashville Symphony has established a reputation for adventurousness (but only narrowly avoided foreclosure proceedings on its spiffy new hall).

Now the city is embracing modernism, if not necessarily the avant-garde. Oz, a new multidisciplinary contemporary arts center in a former cigar warehouse, is scheduled to open in February, and on Wednesday evening it announced a slate of inaugural offerings that include performances by Philip Glass and the violinist Tim Fain, the new-music string quartet Ethel, and several dance and theater productions — including a staging by Peter Brook of a work by the South African writer Can Themba.

The season will open on Feb. 13 with "Far," a dance production inspired by the explorations of 18th-century French philosophers. The work, which is choreographed by Wayne McGregor, with music by Dan Frost, will be performed by the Random Dance Company, a resident company at Sadler's Wells in London.

The Intergalactic Nemesis, a touring troupe devoted to the live staging of a serialized, expanding graphic novel (for which it is named), will present "Book 1: Target Earth," in a production that includes three actors, more than 1,000 hand-drawn comic book images and live music (March 7 to 8). It is the first of two theater productions. The other, by the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, is Mr. Brooks's production of "The Suit," a story of infidelity and retribution (May 22 to 24). The production received glowing reviews at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in January.

Mr. Glass and Mr. Fain will play a recital of Mr. Glass's music, with the composer at the piano (June 20 to 21), and the theatrically inclined Ethel will present two programs — "Documerica," a multimedia work that explores Americans' relationship with the earth, from an urban and rural perspective (April 11) and Ethel+, in which the ensemble will collaborate with Nashville musicians (April 12).

The center takes its name from its founders, Cano and Tim Ozgener, who until recently ran CAO, a cigar company. After they sold the company, the Ozgeners decided to convert the cigar warehouse into a flexible, 10,000-square-foot arts space that can be reconfigured according to the performers' needs.

The younger Mr. Ozgener is the center's executive director. The artistic director is Laura Snelling, who previously held positions at the Park Avenue Armory and the Melbourne International Arts Festival. She assembled Oz's first season in collaboration with Kristy Edmunds, the executive and artistic director of the Center for the Art of Performance at the University of California, Los Angeles.


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