With its noirish murder mystery miniseries The Night Of, HBO has introduced yet another innovation bound to alter people’s TV-watching habits. The show officially premiered on Sunday, July 10, but the cable network made the first episode (of eight) available to subscribers through HBO On Demand and its online HBOGO service more than two weeks earlier.
In her 1991 autobiography Ginger: My Story, Ginger Rogers didn’t mince words: “It was tough being a woman in the theatrical business in those days…women were not allowed in the production department or in the directorial field. We had script girls, dress fitters, costume designers, and stand-ins, but no women were on the cameras or operating the sound boom, or, indeed, working on any of the sound equipment. There were no women set designers, nor were females allowed to act as assistant directors or directors.” In 1982, a comic strip summed up Hollywood sexism in one memorable phrase: “Sure [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards…and in high heels!”
On “the day the music died”—as Don McLean tagged February 3, 1959, in his hit song “American Pie”—the 22-year-old rock-and-roller Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash that also took the lives of rock stars Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Had he lived, Holly would be celebrating his 80th birthday this year, on September 7. Hollywood paid tribute to the bespectacled singer-songwriter with the 1978 biopic The Buddy Holly Story, starring Gary Busey. But the similarly titled 1990 Broadway musical, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, is thought to be a truer depiction of the influential music-maker’s brief life.
It’s hard to say exactly what the title of Maria Bamford’s new Netflix series is meant to signify. It could be Bamford’s manic depression—her sense that, at any moment, everything in her life could explode. It could be her fear, common among introverts, that if she doesn’t please everyone around her, her fragile relationships might come crashing down like a demolished building. Or it could be the fact that Bamford, who has toiled in C-list obscurity for years, is finally, at long last, blowing up.
Most people know far less than they should about Stuart Davis, one of America’s most important modern artists. Yet if you can simply understand how the plucky 20th–century painter managed to have his cake and eat it too, you’ll be well on your way to comprehending his significance. Exactly how he did this and why it made for such noteworthy art is enticingly revealed by Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, a peppy new exhibit currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City through September 25.
In June 1986, I turned 16 and traded my learner’s permit for a driver’s license. That summer, filled with new freedoms and responsibilities, I went on my first unsupervised drives and began buying my music on cheap, car-playable cassettes instead of LPs. I drove my friends around hot Houston with the car windows down, blasting recent releases by Depeche Mode (Black Celebration), Prince (Parade) and R.E.M. (Lifes Rich Pageant), and, when the mood struck, Top 40 radio like Madonna, Wham! and Belinda Carlisle.
When Alex Haley set out to write Roots, he spent seven years searching for the name of the ship that brought his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, from Gambia to Annapolis in the 1760s. He traveled to Africa and met with griots—oral storytellers trained to recite the history of their village—who recounted detailed genealogies of the previous two centuries. Corroborating these accounts with British military logs, Haley was able to narrow Kunta’s abduction to 1767, and the ship to the Lord Ligonier, bound for Annapolis in July of that year. It is here that Roots begins.