Television Festival


It’s Good Friday — and by “good,” I mean that it’s the opening day of the fantastic PaleyFest09. If you’ve never been, then you must be one of those people who refuse to own a television for some sociopathological reason, so please stop reading now. For each event, you’ll be with like-minded superfans who know far too much about the show being saluted. Though not every attendee can agree that all the shows being honored are worthy, the one thing each can agree on is that he or she would be better at programming the festival. You’ll watch a few episodes of the show, then cast and crew members will convene onstage to share the creative process and answer your pressing questions. Can’t get tickets? Show up anyway and see if you can spot the differences between the True Blood fans (see Monday) and the Big Love geeks. For the first time, the fest honors a “new media property,” the quirky Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Also being honored: 90210; Battlestar Galactica/Caprica; The Big Bang Theory; Desperate Housewives; Dollhouse; Fringe; The Hills; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; The Mentalist; and Swingtown. Cinerama Dome at the ArcLight, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; April 10-24; $45 & $60 (screening of unseen Pushing Daisies is $15). (866) 468-3399 or —Libby Molyneaux




Tinto Brass, the Italian director known for his warped and sensual take on human nature —­ culminating most notoriously with his abortive directorial work on Guccione’s Caligula ­— turned 73 in March. To celebrate, CineFamily presents The Psychedelic ’60s of Tinto Brass, screening some of his rarer films every Friday at midnight throughout April. In the same vein of Ken Russell or Andy Warhol (or Wes Craven’s career, only in reverse), Brass spiked his bizarre visions with more accessible sensibilities of being an “ass man” —­ and what full-blooded Italian in the ’60s was not? — focusing on sexy bits of the body until the meditation became almost surreal in its tactile obsession. As with most CineFamily fare, these films are exceedingly rare, generally unavailable on DVD and if they do show up on video, they’re from a deeply cruddy nth-generation of a bootleg PAL VHS. His 1970 film l’Urlo (screening April 10), loosely based on Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, involves more women in search of themselves as they break free from the ossified cocoon of the middle class, while Deadly Sweet (1967, screening April 17) stars Ewa Aulin and Jean-Louis Trintignant and comes off initially as just another corpse-packed giallo but becomes something completely other as Brass crams in as much contemporary pop culture as he possibly can: fumetti, swinging London, the art of Crepax and the always-popular theme of the sinful dwarf. Brass’ aesthetic comes from a simpler time: one in which everything was thrown against the (stomach) wall and, more often than not, most of it worked ­— or, at least, stuck like a stabbed record. Silent Movie, 611 North Fairfax Ave., L.A.; Fri., mid.; thru April 27; $10. (323) 655-2510. —David Cotner





Choreographers Kitty McNamee and Ryan Huffington move deftly between the commercial and artistic dance worlds, combining individual projects with their collaborative efforts as co-artistic directors of Hysterica Dance Co. After what seems like an extended absence, Hysterica returns with McNamee and Huffington’s latest, Crust, with eight dancers swathed in yards and yards of fabric. Huffington has established his credentials as a costume designer for Hysterica, other companies and for his own projects. T.S. Eliot wrote about preparing “a face to meet the faces that you meet.” In Crust the voluminous material serves both literal and figurative functions, the layers sheltering and obscuring the bodies of the eight dancers but also as a “crust” to be removed, revealing the movement and the dancers. In a town where what one wears can be defining, Hysterica promises to explore how dressing prepares a similar face to be donned and removed, and the consequences of both. Unknown Theater, 1110 N. Seward St., Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 6 p.m.; thru April 12; $18. (323) 466-7781 or —Ann Haskins




When we talk about The Birds, we don’t mean Hitchcock’s horror classic. We’re talking opera — one that you’d probably never get to see if it weren’t for LA Opera conductor James Conlon and his laudable Recovered Voices Project. For the past three years, this incredible undertaking has been devoted to exploring and restoring forgotten operas by the lost generation of composers who suffered under the Nazis and their notorious “Degenerate Art” witch hunt that sent so many brilliant artists and intellectuals to the concentration camps and execution chambers. One of those victims was Walter Braunfels, a popular German composer who was forced to withdraw from public life due to his part-Jewish heritage, and whose works were banned and subsequently fell into oblivion. Braunfels composed “Die Vogel” in 1920; the composers described his free-wheeling adaptation of the Aristophanes play The Birds as an “airy play of imagination … everything here is a game, a metaphor.” The Birds established Braunfels as the most important composer of German opera next to Richard Strauss, and this week, LA Opera presents the West Coast premiere of this delightful work, with soprano Désirée Rancatore in the role of the Nightingale and tenor Brandon Jovanovich, winner of the 2007 Richard Tucker Award, as Good Hope. The cast also includes soprano Stacey Tappan and baritones James Johnson, Martin Gantner and Brian Mulligan. James Conlon conducts the new production staged by Darko Tresnjak. At the Music Center; opens Sat., April 11, 7:30 p.m.; continues Sat., April 18 & Sun., April 26, 2 p.m. & Thurs., April 23, 7:30 p.m.; thru April 26; $20-$250. (213) 972-8001 or —Mary Beth Crain





So you failed to get Leonard Cohen tickets for tonight’s show, his first in 15 years. And now you are stuck with nothing to do but hate your pathetic loser self for missing this rare appearance by one of the greatest songwriters on the planet, whose recent shows have won rave reviews (“a vibrant and effective tension” — New York Times). He’s 72, and let’s face it, you’re not so young yourself, so you may never get another chance to see him. How does one console oneself at such lack of foresight? What could possibly fill that void? What would Leonard Cohen do if he couldn’t get Leonard Cohen tickets? He might enjoy the opening reception for Papershapers, a group show featuring 10 artists who cut, tear, fold and sew paper into all kinds of odd and wonderful shapes. Master paper artist Shin Tanaka makes a rare U.S. appearance to show off his technique. You can even download his templates to try it yourself. Did we mention free valet parking and an open bar? Scion Installation L.A., 3521 Helms Ave., Culver City; opening reception Sat., April 11, 7-10 p.m.; exhibit runs Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; (310) 815-8840 or —L.M.





Even if you don’t consider yourself especially religious,­ or, conversely, are on such close terms with God that you know his last name is “Dammit,” ­you’ll want to make a pilgrimage to Within Heaven’s Earshot. It’s an exhibition of religious album covers ­— LPs presenting everything from ventriloquists for Christ to horrifically melted evangelical preacher Merrill Womack and Satan’s latest tool: streaking. While it may seem easy to heap chucklesome scorn upon these seemingly naive intersections of religion and culture, when you actually see the recent video of ventriloquist Gail Wenos and her cheeky dummy Ezra, it seems almost terminally unseemly to do anything but smile and nod. Within Heaven’s Earshot places a more personal face on these dusty relics pawed over during many a visit to the Salvation Army in search of bigger fish to fry. And yet it doesn’t necessarily follow that, with this exhibition, representation equals endorsement ­— rather, it’s like an afternoon hanging out with your grandparents, who are more than happy to tell you how things were and the way they should be. The exhibition ­— curated by Kieran Sala, with contributions from DJs and cultural archaeologists/necrologists Don Bolles, Howie Pyro, Mitchell Brown and others ­— ends, fittingly enough, on Easter Sunday, April 12, a day capped with a performance from David Leibe Hart, the master of puppets seen everywhere, from The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show to the Tim and Eric Awesome Show. The most bracing thing is that none of these albums has to do with edgy ideas in design and record sales. They deal simply with faith and finding people with whom one feels ideologically aligned ­— even if that means believing that the symbol for feminism is simply a circled pentagram and upside-down cross intertwined. Synchronicity Space, 4306 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Sun., April 12, performance 7:30 p.m. (gallery open Tues. and Thurs., 2-­7 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., noon-7 p.m.; Sun. noon-9 p.m.; also by appointment); free; (323) 284-8960 or —D.C.




Some blurbs write themselves: “Ladies and gentlemen, start your mustaches! It’s time to pour on the Rogaine, sprinkle some Chia powder and … let the mustaches rain down from heaven! Get ready for The Burt ReynoldsNo Bunny Does it Better Dodgeball Tournament & Mustache Expo. LOW DOWN: This is a MANDATORY MUSTACHE EVENT for ladies, boys and lady-boys played with ‘No-Sting’ balls (our Stay Puft style). The winning teams gets supersweet prize packages. Other prizes will also be handed out for best stache, team concept and Burt’s doppleganger.” What else do you need to know? Okay, here: It’s put on by the Los Angeles Dodgeball Society. There are two divisions (Cannon Bunny Run [Recreation Divison] and Smokey and the Bunny [Advanced Division]); eight teams per division; 12 people per team. Mustaches will be for sale at the event. The Bellevue Rec Center, 826 Lucille Ave., Silver Lake; Sun., April 12, noon (Cannon Bunny Run); 2 p.m. (Smokey and the Bunny); —L.M.





One would be hard put to discover a music series more congenial and budget-friendly than Sundays Live. Held at LACMA each Sunday, these concerts feature the finest of chamber musicians at the finest of prices, i.e., free. But it’s not just the music that’s so much fun — it’s the chance to spend an afternoon wandering LACMA’s great exhibits, having lunch or an early dinner in the café, browsing the fab gift shop, and topping it all off with classical music for dessert. This week, the talented Capitol Ensemble, featuring violinists Phillip Levy and Julie Gigante, violists Roland Kato and Victoria Miscolczy, and cellist David Low perform Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 32 in B-flat major, Op. 87 and another avian-inspired work, Haydn’s String Quartet No. 32 in C major, Op. 33, No. 2, a.k.a. “The Bird.” At LACMA, Bing Theater, L.A.; Sun., April 12, 6 p.m.; free. (323) 857-6234 or —M.B.C. 





In this age of vampiric lust, True Blood is to adults what Twilight is to tweens. Vampires and mortals alike wreak all sorts of blood-sucking havoc in the tiny TV Louisiana town of Bon Temps, from undead sex to a spree of mysterious murders. You can find out what’s heating up in the bayou this season as the Paley Center (in conjunction with PaleyFest09, see Friday) assembles the cast and crew behind the hit HBO series, including Oscar-winning creator Alan Ball, recent Emmy winner Anna Paquin, head vampire Stephen Moyer, and the rest of the hunky male cast. Garlic and crosses don’t work, but do wear lots of silver. Cinerama Dome at the Arclight, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., April 13, 7 p.m.; $45. (323) 464-4226. —Siran Babayan




Interrupting is rude and socially unacceptable behavior — like offending someone, it should only be done if it’s funny. That’s where Doug Benson comes in. He’s made interrupting an art, and a damn funny one in his show, The Benson Interruption. What’s it about? Here’s Doug to tell you: “I invite my comedian friends to come on stage and work on new material while I sit by with a microphone and interrupt whenever I feel like it. Which is a lot. There are only two things this show needs, me and interrupting!” And what special guests will you have? “Well, that’s the other thing this show needs — amazing guests. And as people who came to the show in our old locale at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and M Bar know, I’ve got some funny friends. But like all great batshit insane artists, they are hard to pin down. So let’s just say that Monday’s show will feature comics from The Sarah Silverman Program, Human Giant, Punk’d, Graham Elwood and that guy who played the talking rat who wanted to become a chef. Maybe. Largo at the Coronet, 427 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.; Mon., April 13, 9 p.m.; $20. (310) 855-0350. —L.M.





Polarizing filmic event Watchmen was mired in developmental hell since the late ’80s, and look how that ultimately turned out: Lotta flash, little discernible soul. In that regard, think of comedian Mike Birbiglia as the anti-Watchmen. There’s only one of him, first off, and he’s as unassuming as they come. An infinitely nice, down-to-earth dude who, as of press time, no one is out to murder or otherwise inflict with bodily harm. Then again, his REM behavior disorder has enabled him to toss cabinets, leap through closed windows (“Like the Hulk! In my underwear, bleeding!”) and battle hovering, insect-like jackals — all in his sleep. The New York comic also possesses the rare superpower of storytelling. His similarly long-in-the-making Sleepwalk with Me has evolved from mere anecdote to workshopped oddity to highlight of the 2008 Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival to off-Broadway success, the latter having been extended several times over since its November debut. The one-man narrative features love gained and lost, father-son bonding, health crises, and, as fans have come to expect, a bear cameo or two thrown in for good measure. “Who Watches the Watchmen?” Somewhere around $103 million grosses’ worth. Who watches the Birbigs man? Only those who prefer their comedy quirky, endearing and leaving no doubt about who the good guy really is. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; Tues.-Wed., April 14-15, 8 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350. —Julie Seabaugh






With her two most recent films — 2006’s Old Joy and last year’s Wendy and Lucy — director Kelly Reichardt has become one of our most perceptive observers of outsiders, turning the Pacific Northwest (specifically, the outlying areas surrounding her hometown of Portland) into a microcosm for the decaying individualist spirit in an increasingly conformist American society. But unlike so many independent filmmakers, there isn’t anything adorable or idealized about her wayward characters. In Old Joy, two college friends reunite in their mid-30s — one, an anxious soon-to-be father (Daniel London), the other an irredeemable drifter (Will Oldham) — for a camping trip that reveals the widening gap separating their worldviews as they face equally uncertain futures. Wendy and Lucy focuses on a younger, less confident wanderer: 20-something Wendy (a never-better Michelle Williams), who has bolted from her Indiana home with her golden retriever Lucy in the hopes of reaching the untamed beauty of Alaska — only to have the plan be sidetracked after Lucy goes missing and the money runs short. Capturing both Oregon’s natural beauty and its sleepy, dazed small-town communities, Reichardt seems to know her characters from the inside out, and although she sympathizes with their existential crises, she doesn’t take sides or play favorites, striving instead to illustrate how external factors and internal desires work together to determine our destiny. Her clear-eyed objectivity intensifies the films’ poignancy, and it makes their endings so achingly unresolved: Is Wendy saved or lost forever? Which of the men in Old Joy is more likely doomed to unhappiness? The West used to be America’s symbol for opportunity, adventure and individual freedom. In Kelly Reichardt’s films, it’s the last safe haven for outsiders — but there’s no guarantee it’ll be here tomorrow. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Wed., Apr. 14-15, 7:30 p.m.; $7. (323) 938-4038. —Tim Grierson



Comedy Pick


Ron White made his name as part of the Blue Collar Comedy gang, which also includes such lunkheads as Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy. Except White’s actually funny. Libby Molyneaux

L.A. WEEKLY: Who do people say you look like?

WHITE: Nick Nolte and Gary Busey. We all use the same headshot.

You’re looking really hip these days — who did your makeover?

What makeover? My hair is naturally striped. If you look at my wardrobe on Blue Collar One, and what I was wearing last night, you’ll see they match.

What do you do all day when on tour?

Golf during the day and live rock & roll at night. Life ain’t bad.

What’s your favorite medication?

Klonopin. With a Johnnie Walker Blue chaser.

Do you give money to homeless people?

Not really anyone’s business who I give money to, but yes, I do.

What is your definition of happiness? Are you happy now?

The absence of sad. I’m not sad now. I’ve got the Klonopin, remember?

Who would you like to play you in the story of your life?

Lisa Lampanelli.?

What would cause you to quit comedy?

If people quit laughing after I say something.?

What are your favorite things to do when in L.A.?

Leave for Santa Barbara.

Ron White performs at the Fred Kavli Theatre-Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks, Thousand Oaks; Thurs., April 16, 8 p.m.; $52.50 & $62.50. (805) 449-ARTS.




All we ask is that you read “How to Not Get Hit by Cars” at before you enjoy Bike Night at the Hammer. The idea is a simple one: Cars are bad; bikes are good. The museum folks — who, by the way, don’t want you dead, either — have organized a bike-able evening with free bike valet parking by the L.A. County Bike Coalition; vegetarian snacks, live music by Telematique and screening of the all-time best bicycle flick, Breaking Away (except for The Triplets of Belleville). The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Thurs., April 16, 7 p.m.; film at 8:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000.  —L.M.

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