Thursday, January 28, 2016

LIZ SMITH: No facts, only interpretations

by Liz Smith

The Prince "Crusades." Also — Chris Isaak ... Mike Nichols ... Debi Mazar ... Sean Hayes ... Rachel Maddow.

"THERE ARE no facts, only interpretations," said Friedrich Nietzsche.
FACT: Prince, the enduring pop icon, is a huge fan of the legendary jazz group, "The Crusaders." They were four guys from Texas who recorded 16 albums alone in the 1960s. In the 1970s, they changed their style a bit — less straight jazz, more funky and bluesy and soulful. They had hits such as "Those Southern Nights," "Super Stuff" and "Put It Where You Want It." (This refers to, uh — luggage. Yeah, luggage.) Prince has often stated his respect for "The Crusaders," even going so far as to say that some of his own music was influenced by the band. (The Crusaders are no longer active — three of the original members passed on.)
A sampling of their 22 albums.
RUMOR: That Prince and his pal Spike Lee are planning a documentary about the group, chronicling their rise from Texas, and through all the various sounds and permutations since. This would be Prince's first plunge into the documentary waters. He is also, "they" say, planning a Crusaders tribute album.
The Crusaders in 1984.
So, will this happen? My source is well-connected in the music world, but there's many a slip twixt the lip and the funky groove. Also, both Prince and Spike Lee are continuously busy fellows. However, if the rumor does have legs — and a trombone section — the documentary sounds like something for HBO and our friend Sheila Nevins!
MORE MUSIC NOTES: ON January 30th, the eternally adorable Chris Isaak will perform his hit song, "San Francisco Days, San Francisco Nights" at the official opening of Super Bowl City at San Francisco's The City Stage. This will mark the re-lighting of The Bay Lights on the Willie L. Brown Bay Bridge. (Super Bowl City celebrates the best of what the Bay Area has to offer — food, technology, cultural diversity and but of course, professional football.) Macy's gets in on the fun with a spectacular fireworks display.
On Valentine's Day February 14th Chris will be featured on "CBS Sunday Morning," and then he's off on an extensive tour of Australia, promoting his acclaimed "First Comes The Night" album.

The Aussies are in for a blast. As potent as Isaak is on record, he is sensational live. Sometimes, for his own reasons, Chris goes under the radar. He's not a hog for fame or publicity or that sometimes elusive No.1 song. His sweet humanity is admirable, but I'm glad he's back in the dirty nitty-gritty of show biz.
THINGS TO view, do, and to be aware of:

... Don't miss the "American Masters" premiere of Elaine May's documentary on Mike Nichols. This happens on Friday at 9 P.M. Check your local PBS listings.
... If you are in Los Angeles, check out Sean Hayes in David Javerbaum's comedy, "An Act of God," directed by Joe Mantello. Some of you might have caught this show last year on Broadway. It has been described as "sinfully funny." In the play God comes to earth in the form of Mr. Hayes. "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons played The Deity in New York. Performances begin on January 30th at the Ahmanson Theater.
... Going to London? Want to support female playwrights? Perhaps, on February 22nd, you can attend the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, now in its 38th year. This event supports and encourages women playwrights. There are ten nominees, chosen from 150. The winner receives a cash prize of $25,000 and a signed print by the famous abstract/expressionist artist Willem de Kooning; it was created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn gala. The National Theater in London is where this celebration of female talent happens.
Susan Smith Blackburn, who died in 1977.
... On March 2nd, the new season of Debi Mazar and her hubby Gabriele Corcos' cooking show, "Extra Virgin" debuts. This year it's called "Extra Virgin Americana," because Debi and her family travel from the Grand Canyon to Seattle to Detroit and beyond, sampling the best in local cuisine and produce. This program, on The Cooking Channel, is a lot of fun, and so much better than the sadistic competition shows that The Food Network now favors. Debi — with those cobalt-blue eyes — is of course, an old favorite of ours — so funny, attractive, down-to-earth and modest. And she is also super-appetizing on the TV series "Younger."
FOLLOWING in the footsteps of the one and only Cher, other celebrities, such as Jimmy Fallon, Madonna, Sean Combs, Mark Wahlberg, and Aretha Franklin are donating water and money to the people of Flint, Michigan. The crisis of lead-contaminated water continues. If you want to do something, contact Flint Water Fund here.

Once again, a salute to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who really put the Flint issue under a microscope.
Contact Liz Smith here.