Motown The Musical Will Move Into Memphis’ Theater in London’s West End in Spring 2016

Sources: Broadway.com –  By Imogen Lloyd Webber| All Things Michael

Motown the Musical

Hail to the beat! The previously reported London production ofMotown The Musical will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End in March 2016. According to the Daily Mail, the venue’s current occupant, Memphis, is currently expected to close in October.

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright and featuring a book by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Motown The Musical‘s score includes over 50 beloved hits from the Motown catalogue. The show tells the story of Gordy’s rise from small-town dreamer to big-time record mogul. Along the way, he discovers a slew of musical talent including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and the legendary Diana Ross, with whom he sparks a romance.

The Broadway production played its final performance on January 18 at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre to make way for Finding Neverland.Motown intends to return to the Great White Way in summer 2016 at a Nederlander theater to be announced.

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“Monument to Michael Jackson” To Be Shown At The Cleveland International Film Festival 2015

Sources: Cleveland.com – By John Petkovic | All Things Michael

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – In the last 20 years, the Balkans have produced countless films set amid wartime, understandably so. They’ve explored crumbling societies, relationships in turmoil, personal despair – and, ultimately, the unbearable weight of cataclysmic events.

Darko Lungulov’s stellar black comedy goes back to a time before the war – all the way back to the 1960s, when Eastern Europe churned out enchanting little stories about people trapped in a world they never made.

The world in question here is set in 2009, in a hard-scramble town in central Serbia – where a go-nowhere, beaten-down feeling is represented by the fact that there is no monument on the pedestal in the town square. There is none because there are no heroes left to look up to.

That is, until the town barber – and perhaps the last dreamer standing – hatches an idea: Erect a monument to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Crazy, perhaps. But it is a  true story that Jackson used to wear the medal of the Serbian Order of the White Eagle. (He liked the design of it.)

Lungulov focuses on the dreamer as he pursues this outlandish idea, but also surveys a landscape without dreams. As someone who’s been to towns such as the one in “Monument to Michael Jackson,” I’ve found such a dreamer rare and lovable – yet often so misunderstood that it makes for a sad story.

This film operates that way, also – thanks in no small part to some deft cinematography by Mathias Schoeningh and a soundtrack that is a bit reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s in the Sergio Leone’s western, “Duck, You Sucker.”

“Monument to Michael Jackson” is its own story, however, and not to be confused with other genres, films, anything else. That’s what makes it such a singular, special story of a dreamer in a town that has lost the ability to dream.

REVIEW

Monument to Michael Jackson

What: A black comedy by Darko Lungulov. (2014/Serbia). 95 minutes. In Serbian with subtitles.

When: 9:20 a.m. Thursday, 6:10 p.m. Friday and 9:25 a.m. Saturday at Tower City Cinemas.

Grade: A.

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Indiana Music And Entertainment Museum Offers Free Event

Sources: Indianapolis Reporter – By Leslie Fuller | All Things Michael

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From Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 in Gary, to Wes Montgomery in Indianapolis, to WICR-FM’s broadcasting legend Chuck Workman, the Hoosier State boasts some amazing legends in its music, film and broadcast history.

Now, a group of veteran entertainment authors, collectors and historians is launching The Indiana Museum of Music and Entertainment (IMEM), featuring Indiana’s contributions to music, film and broadcast history.

IMEM, an Indiana non-profit organization founded in 2014, expects to establish a permanent brick and mortar location for this endeavor once funds are available, allowing visitors to listen to, view and discover Indiana music, film and broadcasting history.

The museum will also be focused documenting, displaying and preserving artifacts and educating Hoosiers about the state’s rich entertainment history. The launch of the project is Saturday, April 4 from 6-10 p.m. at the Wheeler Arts Theater, 1035 Sanders St., in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square neighborhood.

Visitors can browse exhibits and meet Indiana authors, exhibitors, founders of IMEM and enjoy live music from jazz musician Clifford Ratliff and Friends, Tim Wright (Wright Brothers) and Karen Irwin; and Cathy Morris. It was recently announced that veteran Hoosier broadcaster Jimmy Mack will attend.

Participating authors include: David Fulton, Naptown Rock Radio Wars, Larry Goshen, Let The Good Times Roll, David Humphrey, All Those Years Ago, Monika Herzig, David Baker – A Life in Music, David Williams,Indianapolis Jazz, and Julie Young, Famous Faces of WTTV.

Exhibitors will include: Tom Fontaine with rare memorabilia and film from both The Beatles 1964 Indiana State Fair performance and Elvis Presley’s last concert at Market Square Arena; Larry Goshen with early Indiana rock and jazz memorabilia; John Rabold with radio and TV memorabilia (including WTTV’s former production console); and Rick Wilkerson with rare Indiana records, posters and concert flyers.

Full disclosure: this reporter has friendships with many of the organizers.

Admission is free. Patrons will have an opportunity to learn more about the museum’s future plans and become involved in helping the mission of IMEM become a reality. Sponsors include the House of Blue Lights, Irvington Vinyl, Arthur’s Music Store, Flanner and Buchanan, and Musical Family Tree.

For more, visit www.imemindiana.org

 

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Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits: Rock And Roll Hall Exhibit Opens Today

Sources: Cleveland.com | Edited By – All Things Michael

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – Biographers take volumes — and in some cases, multiple volumes — to tell a life story. Herb Ritts could do it with a single image.

The work of Ritts, who started his professional life as a still photographer and reluctantly segued into a music director before his death from complications of AIDS in 2002, is the subject of an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum“Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits,” which opens Friday, March 13.

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The Ritts quote that opens the exhibit puts it into a nutshell:

“For me, a portrait is something from which you feel the person, their inner quality, what it is that makes them who they are.”

Ritts, who was only 50 when he died, was able to do that over and over. The clearest evidence is in the portraits themselves.

Herb Ritts

Herb Ritts

Thirty never before seen images of artists from Bjork (how on Earth do you get freckles when you’re a dark-haired native of Iceland?) to Courtney Love to Michael Jackson to Prince to James Taylor to Justin Timberlake show something else: trust.

Michael Jackson, Prince, k.d. lang,, Chris Isaak, Bono, Dizzy Gillespie and even Bruce Springsteen let down walls that show sides of them we rarely glimpse, and it’s all because they felt comfortable with Ritts.

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Motown 25 Special: Expansive Box Set Planned for Release

Sources: Rollingstone – By Ryan Reed | All Things Michael

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In 1983, music icons like Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross came together for Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, a live NBC special that celebrated the 25th year of that legendary label. Now an updated version of the program will air Saturday, February 28th at 8 p.m. EST on over 300 public television stations in the U.S., followed by an immediate repeat screening. Motown 25 featured a number of monumental pop culture moments, including Michael Jackson executing his oft-imitated “Moonwalk” during a performance of “Billie Jean” and reunions from the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

The special will be accompanied by Motown: Big Hits & More, a new seven-CD box set of classic Motown hits, album tracks and rarities. The massive, 144-track release will feature “25 new stereo mixes of classic songs,” including the Temptations’ “Get Ready,” Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave.” The new versions were assembled by TJ Lubinsky, an executive producer for several of PBS’ pledge-driven programs. Working with the “original stages and pre-mixed stages” of recordings made at the famed Hitsville USA studio, his team uncovered a number of revelatory surprises.

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“Most often the songs went much longer than the fades we are used to hearing,” Lubinsky says in a statement. “And sometimes even extra verses were uncovered, like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles ad-libbing the line, ‘the tracks of my tears, I’ve been crying for years,’ which has never been heard before because it was on the original session tapes past the fade-out on the 45.”

The release will be available to members who pledge to public television stations during the February 28th broadcast of Motown 25 and at www.treasurycollection.com.

 

 

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Reed Shannon On Tour With ‘Motown The Musical’

Sources: The Herald Sun – By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan| All Things Michael

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“Motown the Musical” was a hit on Broadway and closed last month, taking a break to go on a national tour before returning to New York City in 2016. The tour is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center Feb. 17-22 and is already sold out.

Two young cast members share the role of a young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson. Reed LoRenzo Shannon, from Wake Forest, got his theatrical start at North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in Raleigh in Raleigh and joined “Motown the Musical” in spring 2014 in Chicago. The Herald-Sun spoke with Reed, 14, recently when he was home in North Carolina on vacation.

It’s been a very busy year for the teenager, so over the break, “I just like to chill,” he said.

Reed’s mom, Belinda Shannon, who works in Research Triangle Park, said her son being cast in “Motown” has changed their lives, but also been exciting. Reed started taking theater classes at age 4 for fun. He has two older sisters — one is a student at Spelman College in Atlanta and the other is a captain in the Army. His future goals include serving as an Army officer.

Reed was cast in “Motown” after going to an open call in New York.

“I was just going to audition to see what my odds were,” Reed said. “There were about 700 people in line with me.” He was called to do a Michael Jackson workshop and was contacted the next day. He then auditioned for Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown itself plus the book writer for the show, as well as for Charles Randolph-Wright, the director of “Motown.” Randolph-Wright is a graduate of Duke University.

When Reed found out he got the job, he was eating. It was a long day and he was hungry, so he kept eating, he said, but smiled when he heard the good news. He began performing the role in Chicago, where he moved with his dad for five months during the production there.

Reed said the Stevie Wonder role is a short part, but he sings for his Michael Jackson role.

“Michael Jackson has such a unique voice, I didn’t want to mess it up,” he said. He listened to a lot of older Jackson songs and Gordy told him about Jackson as a child.

Reed thinks all the songs in “Motown” are “really amazing.” If he had to choose a favorite, it would be “Maybe Tomorrow” by the Jackson 5.

“I love that song. It’s just a nice song and the lyrics are great,” he said.

Reed already knew a lot of Motown songs — his parents played them at home and on road trips.

Reed shares the role of young Gordy/Wonder/Jackson with cast member Leon Outlaw Jr. He explained that because they’re under age 16, they can’t do eight shows a week, so they alternate nights.

“We don’t have a lot of time to do kid stuff,” Reed said, about their time off stage. They go to school, eat dinner and then do the show and go to bed, he said. They do go see who’s waiting at the stage door, though cold weather kept people away lately.

Reed has been to DPAC before, to see the national tour “Billy Elliot.” He’s very excited to be back, this time on stage.

“I just love the thought that I get to show all my friends and family what I’ve been working on since I left a year ago,” he said.

The rest of the “Motown” cast is great, talented, and taught him a lot about the business, Reed said. He’s learned to eat right, not talk all the time to preserve his voice, and to have something with him to keep him occupied.

The most fun part of being in “Motown” has been meeting all the people, he said. The tour is booked until the end of the year. Then what?

“Hopefully I’ll get roles on TV and movies, or a Broadway role in New York,” Reed said. He’ll continue to perform, he said, then go to college.

Durhamites who don’t have tickets already to “Motown” will still have a chance to see Reed and his parents for a special event at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 1007 S. Roxboro St., in Durham.

Belinda Shannon said they’re excited to be part of Mount Vernon’s Black History Month programs, especially as the musical takes place against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South. The Shannons will visit the church from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 for a “fireside chat” about Reed’s career.

WHAT: “Motown the Musical”

WHEN: Feb. 17-22

WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center

123 Vivian St., Durham

TICKETS: Sold out.

 

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‘Robert Burns The Musical’ Documentary Planned

Sources: MJWN | The Ayrshire Community Media | All Things Michael

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A documentary about ‘Robert Burns the Musical,’ a musical created from an idea by Michael Jackson and David Gest is to be produced. The Ayrshire Community Media is a ‘Not for Profit’ organisation and is registered in Scotland, as a ‘Community Interest Company’ (CIC). It has been invited by the Rock Academy to produce a documentary about ‘Robert Burns the Musical’ and how it came to be. They currently have an indiegogo campaign to try to raise the necessary funds to make this happen.

The musical celebrates the life and works of ‘The Bard’ Robert Burns and it is based on an idea by Michael Jackson and David Gest. David originally had approached the ‘Rock Academy Performing Arts’ to make the actual musical after he found the recordings by Michael. The idea for the original show 20 years ago came about when Michael offered Gest use of the family recording studio in California.

‘Robert Burns-The Musical’ tells the story of the passions of the People’s Poet; the loves of his life and the life of those loves.

The show premiered at the Tivolli Theater, in Aberdeen, on Burns night on the 25th of January 2015. The premiere ‘sold out’ and the company are now organising a production tour.

The documentary will follow the story of the musical and what inspired those who wrote it and the story of the production process, excerpts from the musical and interviews with the cast and the production team. It will also explore why Robert Burns remains ‘The Peoples Poet’ in modern times.

For more details of the campaign and how to help, please click here.

 

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Sony Pictures Co-Chair Amy Pascal Is Stepping Down In Wake Of Hack

Sources: Mashable | All Things Michael

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Sony Pictures Entertainment announced on Thursday that Amy Pascal, longtime studio co-chairman who was one of many executives to have embarrassing emails leaked in the massive hack in November, is stepping down.

As is often the case when Hollywood studio executives leave their posts, Pascal will launch a production venture at the studio, keeping her deep industry relationships and moviemaking experience in-house. She’ll transition into her new role in May, according to the studio’s release.

The hack has been linked to North Korea over the movie The Interview, a film that Pascal had greenlit.

Pascal’s departure from the Sony corner office was something of a foregone conclusion after the fiasco that devastated Sony and exposed highly personal information of hundreds of its 6,000 employees. But rumors that Pascal was on thin ice persisted in Hollywood for many months before the cyberattack, after a string of high-profile box office failures, in particular the critically and commercially underwhelming The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Some of the movies under Pascal’s stewardship include:

Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, The Da Vinci Code, the Spider-man film series, Men in Black, To Die For, Ali, Charlie’s Angels, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hancock, Michael Jackson’s This Is it, Awakenings, A League of Their Own, Hitch, Stuart Little, Girl Interrupted, Adaptation, 2012, Bad Teacher, Easy A, Superbad, District 9, Zombieland, Pursuit of Happyness, This is the End, Pineapple Express, Stepbrothers, Talladega Nights, 21 Jump Street, Salt, Closer, Something’s Gotta Give, Eat Pray Love, 50 First Dates, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Equalizer, Fury, Big Fish, A Knight’s Tale, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Ides of March, Karate Kid, Big Daddy, The Remains of the Day, Little Women, Sense and Sensibility, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Captain Phillips, Moneyball, American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Groundhog Day, The Social Network and The Interview.

Ms. Pascal got her first job by answering an ad in the Hollywood Reporter. She worked as a secretary answering phones for the legendary BBC producer Tony Garnett.

Ms. Pascal is the first woman since Mary Pickford to serve as a Governor of the Executive Branch at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This story is developing.

 

Read the full press release here