Saturday, November 26, 2016

Wanda Morrow Clevenger writes

how it plays out

sleep plays out 
in Michael 
anesthesia of choice 
or frenzy on 
pinging from 
any number 
of factors–– 
8 o’clock 
garlic spaghetti 
9 o’clock wine 
10 o’clock CNN 
street terror

or lack of 
Fellini noir

Ted Turner

a church-full 
funeral of 
clamor and 
chaos all 
at once 
no respect 
for my 
 Giuletta degli Spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits) -- Federico Fellini



  1. Michael Jackson was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter nown as the "King of Pop." When he was 6, playing congas and tambourine, he joined the Jackson Brothers band, which then became the Jackson 5; next year he began sharing lead vocals with his brother Jermaine; by 1966 they were opening for established acts, and they won the weekly amateur night concert at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, an important steppingstone for African-American entertainers, in 1967. This led to their first single, in 1968, and, in 1969, to signing with the most important Black recording studio in the country, Motown. Their first four singles under the label all went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Though the youngest of the brothers, he soon emerged as the most popular performer in the group and (though still performing with them) began cutting solo albums in 1972. Chafing under Motown's refusal to allow them creative input, in 1975 they switched to Epic Records as the Jacksons (though Jermaine stayed with Motown to pursue a solo career); it was at that time that Michael began the group's principle songwriter.

  2. In 1978 he was featured in Sidney Lumet's film adaptation of the stahe musical "The Wiz" (an all-Black musical adaptation of the classic "Wizard of Oz." He then worked with the film's musical arranger, Quincy Jones, to co-produce his next solo album, "Off the Wall" (1979), his transition from a popular child star to an adult entertainer; it was the first American album to generate four top 10 hits; one of them "Don't Stop 'Til you Get Enough," garnered a Grammy and an American Music Award. In 1980 his record producer agreed to pay him 37% of the wholesale profit, plus sonwriter royalties. His 6th solo album, "Thriller," also co-produced with Jones, was released in 1982, topped the Billboard 200 chart for 37 weeks (and was in the top 10 for 80 consecutive weeks), becoming the best-selling album worldwide of all time (with some 65 million copies) and the first to spawn 7 top 10 singles. It also earned Jackson 7 more Grammys and 8 AMAs, as well as production Grammies for Jones. In addition, he released a 14-minute "Thriller" music video that jump-started the new genre, establishing him as an era-defining dancer as well as a singer and songwriter. (In 2009, it was selected for the National Film Registry, the only music video ever to be included.)

  3. In the spring of 1983, the Jackson 5 and a solo Michel Jackson were featured in a Motown solver anniversary special for the national Broadcasting Corporaton, drawing 47 millon viewers and an Emmy nomination for Jackson's rendition of "Billie Jean" in which he introduced his signature dance move, the moonwalk. In the fall the brothers partnered with PepsiCo in a $5 million promotional deal that broke advertising industry records for a celebrity endorsement, followed by another later in the decade for $10 million, which provided the financial support for his follow-up "Bad" album and 1987–88 world tour. In 1984 the Jacksons toured, their last with Michael, who donated his share of the proceeds to charity. With Lionel Richie, he co-wrote "We Are the World" (1985), which they performed with the all-star USA for Africa; it earned $63 million for famine relief, sold 20 million copies, and picked up four Grammys. In 1986 he collaborated with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to make a 17-minute 3D film, "Captain EO," as an attraction at the Disney amusment parks around the world. "Bad" (1987) produced 9 singles, five of which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100; it was also the album to reach #1 in 25 countries. The "Bad" tour played 123 concerts to an audience of 4.4 million people; broke a Guinness World Record when 504,000 people attended 7 shows at Wembley Stadium in London; and in Japan drew 570,000 fans to 14 shows, nearly tripling the previous record of 200,000 in a single tour. In 1991 he renewed his contract with Sony for a record $65 million and released "Dangerous," the beginning of his commecrial "decline" (though by 2008 it sold 30 million copies worldwide, and the associated 7-concert tour grossed $100 million; he also sold the broadcast rights to HBO for a record $20 million). "Black or White" was simultaneously premiered in 27 counties on 14 November 1991, with a record audience of 500 million people.

  4. The National Football League sought to revive flagging interest in its Super Bowl halftime shows by recruiting highprofile performers, it hired Jackson; his spot for the 1993 Super Bowl XXVII attracted a larger audience than the championship game. A year later he married Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the "King of Rock and Roll;" though thy divorced two years later, they spent another four years together intermittently. In 1995 he released a double album "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I," which became the best-selling multiple-disc album of all-time (20 million copies, or 40 million units); its first single was a duet with his famous sister Janet, which, at number 5, had the highest-ever debut on the Billboard Hot 100; its second single was the first to devbut at #1; its 3rd single became his most successful release in the UK; its tour attracted 4.5 million fans in 82 concerts. In 1997 "Bood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix" became the best-selling remix album of all time. "Michael Jackson's Ghosts," co-written with Stephen King, premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival; at over 38 minutes, it holds the Guinness World Record as the world's longest music video. His last album of original material was 2001's "Invincible." In March 2009, Jackson announced a series of comeback concerts; "This Is It" would have been his first major series of concerts since 1997 and was intended to be his last before retiring. The first 10 shows, in London, were to begin on 13 July; over a million were sold in less than two hours. But he died of cardiac arrest during rehearsals on 25 June. His first posthumous song was a demo of "This Is It," which he had co-written in the 1980s with Paul Anka, with his brothers reunited in the studio for the first time since 1989 to record backing vocals. In October a documentary on the rehearsal was released, becoming the highest-grossing documentary film of all time, with earnings of more than $260 million worldwide. In the 12 months after his death, more than 35 million of his albums were sold, making him the best-selling albums artist of 2009[ he became the first artist to sell 1000,000 downloads in a week, with a record-breaking 2.6 million downloads; three of his albums sold more than any new album, the first time any catalog album scanned more sales than any new album; he also became the first artist in history to have four of the top 20 best-selling albums in a single year. In 2016, his estate earned $825 million, the largest ever recorded for a celebrity; it was the 8th consecutive year since his death that he made over $100 million. With sales of ove 350 million records worldwide, over his lifetime he probably about $750 million through royalties, concerts, music publishing (including his share of the Beatles catalog), endorsements, merchandising and music videos. Along the way he also earned 13 Grammy Awards and 26 American Music Awards, as well as many other honors.

  5. At 24, Ted Turner took over the million-dollar Turner Outdoor Advertising in 1963 after his father's suicide and expanded the business globally. As his business prospered, he started buying radio stations in the southern US, but sold them in 1969 to buy a struggling Ultra High Frequency television station in Atlanta, WJRJ, Channel 17. Though UHF stations did well only in markets with one or fewer Very High Frequency stations, Turner expected consumers to want more choices. He changed the call sign to WTCG ("Watch This Channel Grow") and bought another similar UHF Channel 36 WRET (now WCNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina; both stations aired inexpensive vintage movies, TV series, and theatrical cartoons, However, in 1973 he managed to acquire the rights to telecast the Atlanta Braves baseball games. In 1976 the government allowed WTCG to use a satellite to transmit content to local cable TV providers around the nation; in 1976, the rechristened WTCG-TV Super-Station began to broadcast nationwide to cable-TV subscribers. Two years later he bought the rights to the WTBS (Technology Broadcasting System) call sign from a student-operated radio station at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, allowing him to rename WTCG as WTBS and his Turner Communications Group as Turner Broadcasting System; he also bought the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks basketball team to provide programming for his new enterprise. (Similarly, in 1986, he founded the Goodwill Games to allow his super-station the oppportunity to provide Olympic-style sports programming that had only been available on the three major networks. In his 2nd year as owner, when the Braves were mired in a 16-game losing streak, he took over as team manager for one day until National League president Chub Feeney ordered him to step down due to major league rules which barred managers and players from owning stock in their clubs.

  6. In 1980 he created the Cable News Network (CNN), the first television channel to provide 24-hour news coverage, and the first all-news TV channel in the US, declaring, "We won't be signing off until the world ends. We'll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event . . . we'll play 'Nearer, My God, to Thee' before we sign off." He also heavily promoted the colorization of black-and-white films; in 1985, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," James Cagney's 1942 biopic of George M. Cohan, became the first black-and-white movie redistributed after computer coloring; due to its ratings success, he went on to colorize most of the films he owned despite protests from movie fans and makers. After a failed attempt to acquire CBS, Turner purchased the film studio MGM/UA Entertainment Co. in 1986 for $1.5 billion, then sold it back to its previous owner while retaining MGM's film and TV library and some of United Artists' film and TV properties as well as distribution rights to the RKO Radio Pictures and Warner Bros. libraries. He then established Turner Entertainment Company to manage his new content. In 1988, he introduced Turner Network Television (TNT) to show his films and his newly purhased World Championship Wrestling (WCW) matches; in 1994 he launched Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to further exploit his uncolorized holdings. In 1992, he established Cartoon Network to air the early Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies libraries made by Warnr Bros., the Fleischer Studios materials, and the Famous Studios Popeye cartoons owned by United Artists, as well as the Hanna-Barbera Productions cartoons he had bought the year before. Meanwhile, CNN's coverage of the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 allowed it for the first time to move ahead of the news programming by the three main American networks for the first time, since it was the only news outlet with the ability to communicate from inside Iraq during the initial hours of the bombing campaign; though at first without live pictures, those broadcasts reached over a billion viewers worldwide and led to the creation of a sister network, CNN International, in 1995. By 2010 CNN was available in over 100 million households and over 890,000 hotel rooms in the US, while CNN International aired programming in over 212 countries and territories. In 1995 CNN Interactive, an experimental website, was launched; renamed, it became one of the most popular news websites in the world. In 1996 Turner Broadcasting System was acquired by Time Warner, which retained Turner as head of the cable networks division. In 2001 AOL bought Time Warner, becoming AOL Time Warner (the AOL was dropped from its name in 2003); Turner originally supported the merger, but the bursting of the "dotcom bubble" damaged the firm's assets. As the company's largest individual shareholder, Turner lost some $7 billion as a result. At a board meeting his criticism of CEO Gerald Levin led to Turner's dismissal in early 2002, though he continued as a vice chairman until the following year; he left the board of directors in 2006.

  7. Federico Fellini was an Italian film director and screenwriter. Many of his movies are consideded to be among the greatest of all time. In a half-century career he was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film. At 17 he published a humorous article in Milano’s "Domenica del Corriere" and decided to make a career as a caricaturist and gag writer, publishing his first cartoon in the Florence weekly "420" the following year. In September 1939, he enrolled in the University of Rome law school but never attended any classes. Instead he found work as a cub reporter on the dailies "Il Piccolo" and "Il Popolo di Roma" but soon quit. Four months after publishing his first article in "Marc’Aurelio," an influential biweekly humor magazine, he joined the editorial board, interacting with writers, gagmen, and scriptwriters for the next three years, building professional friendships that he would capitlize on as a film maker. He also began writing radio sketches and gags for films. While still a teenager, he obtained his first screen credit as a comedy writer on Mario Mattoli’s "Il pirata sono io" (The Pirate's Dream). In November 1942, he was sent to ocupied Libya to do an emergency rewrite of the screenplay for "I cavalieri del deserto" (Knights of the Desert); he also directed the film's first scenes. After the fall of Roma in 1944, he opened the Funny Face Shop and drew caricatures of American soldiers. There he met Roberto Rossellini, who recruited him to write gags and dialogue for the movie "Rome, Open City," for which he recieved an Oscar nomination in 1947. Then he worked with Rossellini again as screenwriter and assistant director on "Paisà" (Paisan), for which he received another Oscar nomination, and as screenwriter and actor in "L'Amore." He also co-wrote Alberto Lattuada's "Senza pietà" (Without Pity) and "Il mulino del Po" (The Mill on the Po). In 1950 he co-produced and co-directed Lattuada's "Luci del varietà" (Variety Lights), a financial disaster that left them both in debt for over a decade.

  8. In 1949 Michelangelo Antonioni had written a treatment for a film based on the "fotoromanzi," photographed cartoon strip romances; in 1951 producer Carlo Ponti commissioned Fellini and Tullio Pinelli to write the script, but Antonioni rejected the story they developed, but, joined by Ennio Flaiano, they reworked the material into Fellini's first film as solo director, "The White Sheik" (with music by Nino Rota). Screened at the 13th Venice International Film Festival, one reviewer declared that Fellini had “not the slightest aptitude for cinema direction." Fellini followed up with "La Strada," based on a script completed in 1952 with Pinelli and Flaiano, but it too was savaged by critics at the 16th Venice International Film Festival and did not receive international distribution until 1964. The trio then worked on "Nights of Cabria" produced by Dino De Laurentiis; its star, Giulietta Masina, won the Best Actress Award at Cannes and the movie picked up an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He then spent 5 months in 1959 filming "La Dolce Vita" (The Sweet Life); despite demands that it be banned by the censors, the film was an enormous financial success and won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. The film marked the end of Fellini's Italian neorealism phase; in the 1960s his films were directly inspired by his study of Carl Jung's ideas on the anima and the animus, the role of archetypes and the collective unconscious. The mature phase began in 1962 with "8 1/2," referring to the number of films he had directed, a movie about "a director who no longer knows what film he wanted to make." Relying heavily on improvisation, the film was nominated for four Oscars, winning two (best foreign language film and best costume design in black-and-white). In 1987 a panel of 30 professionals from 18 countries named Fellini the world’s best director and "8½" the best European film of all time. In the early 1960s he experimented with LSD ("Objects and their functions no longer had any significance. All I perceived was perception itself, the hell of forms and figures devoid of human emotion and detached from the reality of my unreal environment. I was an instrument in a virtual world that constantly renewed its own meaningless image in a living world that was itself perceived outside of nature. And since the appearance of things was no longer definitive but limitless, this paradisiacal awareness freed me from the reality external to my self. The fire and the rose, as it were, became one.") This experience led to his first color feature, "Juliet of the Spirits" (1965), depicting Giulietta Masina as a housewife who is haunted by childhood memories of her Catholic guilt and a teenage friend who committed suicide. In 1973 he shot the Oscar-winning "Amarcord." based loosely on his own 1968 autobiographical essay "My Rimini." Circular in form, it avoided plot and linear narrative and sought to develop a poetic form of cinema: "I am trying to free my work from certain constrictions – a story with a beginning, a development, an ending. It should be more like a poem with metre and cadence." In July 1991 and April 1992, he worked in close collaboration with Canadian filmmaker Damian Pettigrew to establish "the longest and most detailed conversations ever recorded on film." In 1993 he received his fifth Oscar, for lifetime achievement. Six months later he died, a day after his 50th wedding anniversary.


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