New York, Aug 17(AP/UNB) — Fifty years after Woodstock, the mystical and messy event that gave birth to a myriad of musical festivals, the entertainment industry is diluted with festivals and events like it — some genre specific, some extremely diverse and others offering experiences in addition to music, ranging from food to art, in order to appeal to wider audiences.
And while there have been historic moments at music festivals since Woodstock — from Prince's 8-minute cover of Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella in 2008 to Radiohead's groundbreaking Bonnaroo set in 2006 to Beyoncé's black pride summit at last year's Coachella — could what happened at Woodstock be replicated?
"It's hard to compare any modern-day festival to what occurred at the original Woodstock. It was a cultural event that was a watershed happening that captured the imagination of an entire generation," said Ray Waddell, president of media and conferences at Oak View Group, which owns concert trade publication Pollstar. "It was an amazing summer, an incredible year. It all kind of came together at Woodstock in 1969. To try to replicate that, they've never fully been able to."
Since the original Woodstock, which took place August 15-18 in 1969 in Bethel, New York, and featured Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead and more, festivals have grown tremendously and, when done properly, are money makers. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which takes place every April in Southern California, is the most successful festival in the United States, selling out quickly, and even before its lineup is announced. Other festivals have maintained a strong presence, too, from the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee to Lollapalooza in Chicago.
Today, about every major city has at least one festival — some gone after a year, others persisting through. But it's made the festival scene overcrowded, and now producers are working tirelessly to make their festivals different than the next one. That has become increasingly difficult over the years, as many acts use festivals almost as a touring stop, headlining multiple festivals within a matter of weeks.
"What makes the festival stand out is one, the experience, and two, exclusivity and uniqueness of the lineup. They can ebb and flow with the lineup. You look at Bonnaroo, which fell off for a couple of years and then came back this year with the perfect mix of a lineup that captured the attention of the people who are willing to camp out three or four days," Waddell said. "The problem is there's not enough headlining acts out there."
He continued: "One thing that Coachella has going for it is it's first in April. When they had Outkast that year, LCD Soundsystem that year, Guns N' Roses — they were the first and three or four or more booked those same acts but you didn't know that."
Boutique festivals that cater to smaller audiences as well as artist-curated festivals have been a success in recent years. Jay-Z launched Made in America in Philadelphia seven years go, and other artists have done the same, including Drake, Pharrell, Travis Scott, Mumford & Sons, J. Cole, Bon Iver, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the National and others.
"There are a lot of reasons festivals don't work right now, oversaturation being one of them," said Jordan Kurland, co-founder of Noise Pop Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area and co-founder of Brilliant Corners, the artist management company home to Death Cab for Cutie and She & Him.
Kurland said some festival organizers need to think beyond performances. "What is the festival doing differently? Why does it exist? It's not enough to just fence a field and say we're going to have 30,000 people here because we have major acts," he said. "Launching a good, sustainable festival is doing something unique. It doesn't just stand on talent at this point. It's festival experience. It's festival location."
Alec Jhangiani, the co-founder and producer of Fortress Festival in Fort Worth, Texas, said he believes festivals have lost their "sheen a little bit as it becomes more prevalent."
"I think what a lot of these festivals are keying in on now is it can't just be so music dependent. It can be anchored in music, obviously — that's going to be a large part of it — but how do you refresh it from the content side?" he said.
"I don't think anytime soon people are going to stop their impulse to gather at these large festivals and places where there are tens of thousands of people — that seems to just be a part of human experience — but I think they're obviously going to demand more and more new and interesting ways of presenting the content. It's our job to keep innovating the space.
New York, Aug 17 (AP/UNB) — Julianne Moore is accustomed to working with her husband, director Bart Freundlich, on set, but it was a real family affair when their daughter joined them for their latest collaboration.
Liv Freundlich, 17, was a production assistant on "After the Wedding," which was released earlier this month.
"We loved having her around more than she loved being around," laughed Freundlich. "The best part of it was just getting to be with each other constantly."
The film, written and directed by Freundlich, is a remake of director Susanne Bier's hit Dutch movie of the same name. To put his own stamp on it, Freundlich swapped the gender of the two leads to women, using Moore and Michelle Williams. Billy Crudup plays a role that was portrayed by a woman in the original.
In the movie, Williams plays Isabel, an orphanage volunteer living in India who comes to the United States to ask Moore's character, Theresa, to fund her organization. She ends up attending a wedding for Theresa's daughter and meets Theresa's husband, played by Crudup, whom she has a history with.
Moore also served as a producer. Freundlich said it helps to be married collaborators because they don't compartmentalize their home life and work life. Moore joked it "might've been more fun for him."
"I'm usually used to going home and dropping it," said Moore. "It's sort of a relief for me to get in my car and be like, 'Phew, that's the end of my day and I'll think about tomorrow later,' but for a director it's constant. The amount of work that they have to do is really extraordinary. So, we would talk about it in the car on the way home, we would talk about it before we would go to bed, we would talk about it first thing in the morning. But, like I said it was a shared passion, too, so that was wonderful."
This is the fourth time the couple has worked together.
Los Angeles, Aug 17 (AP/UNB) — Actor Peter Fonda, the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counter-culture classic "Easy Rider," has died. His family said in a statement that Fonda died Friday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79.
The official cause of death was lung cancer.
"I am very sad," Jane Fonda said in a statement. "He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing."
Born into Hollywood royalty as Henry Fonda's only son, Peter Fonda carved his own path with his non-conformist tendencies and earned an Oscar nomination for co-writing the psychedelic road trip movie "Easy Rider." He would never win that golden statuette, but he would later be nominated for his leading performance as a Vietnam veteran and widowed beekeeper in "Ulee's Gold."
Fonda was born in New York in 1940 to parents whose personas were the very opposite of the rebellious images their kids would cultivate. Father Henry Fonda was already a Hollywood giant, known for playing straight-shooting cowboys and soldiers. Mother Frances Ford Seymour was a Canadian-born U.S. socialite.
He was only 10 years old when his mother died. She had a nervous breakdown after learning of her husband's affair and was confined to a hospital. In 1950, she killed herself. It would be about five years before Peter Fonda learned the truth behind her death.
Fonda accidentally shot himself and nearly died on his 11th birthday. It was a story he told often, including during an acid trip with members of The Beatles and The Byrds during which Fonda reportedly said, "I know what it's like to be dead."
John Lennon would use the line in The Beatles song "She Said She Said."
Fonda went to private schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut as a child, moving on to the University of Nebraska in his father's home state, joining the same acting group — the Omaha Community Playhouse — where Henry Fonda got his start.
He then returned to New York and joined the Cecilwood Theatre, getting small roles on Broadway and guest parts on television shows including "Naked City" and "Wagon Train."
Fonda had an estranged relationship with his father throughout most of his life, but he said that they grew closer over the years before Henry Fonda died in 1982.
"Peter is all deep sweetness, kind and sensitive to his core. He would never intentionally harm anything or anyone. In fact, he once argued with me that vegetables had souls (it was the '60s)," his sister Jane Fonda said in her 2005 memoir. "He has a strange, complex mind that grasps and hangs on to details ranging from the minutiae of his childhood to cosmic matters, with a staggering amount in between. Dad couldn't appreciate and nurture Peter's sensitivity, couldn't see him as he was. Instead he tried to shame Peter into his own image of stoic independence."
Although Peter never achieved the status of his father or even his older sister, the impact of "Easy Rider," which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, was enough to cement his place in popular culture.
Fonda collaborated with another struggling young actor, Dennis Hopper, on the script about two weed-smoking, drug-slinging bikers on a trip through the Southwest as they make their way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
On the way, Fonda and Hopper befriend a drunken young lawyer — Jack Nicholson in a breakout role — but raise the dander of Southern rednecks and are murdered before they can return home.
Fonda's character Wyatt wore a stars-and-stripes helmet and rode a motorcycle called "Captain America," re-purposing traditional images for the counter-culture.
Actress Illeana Douglas tweeted her condolences Friday with the hashtag "RIPCaptainAmerica."
"'Easy Rider' depicted the rise of hippie culture, condemned the establishment, and celebrated freedom," Douglas wrote. "Peter Fonda embodied those values and instilled them in a generation."
Fonda had played bikers before "Easy Rider." In the 1966 Roger Corman-directed "Wild Angels," in which he plays Heavenly Blues, leader of a band of Hells Angels, Fonda delivers a speech that could've served as both a personal mantra and a manifesto for the youth of the '60s.
"We wanna be free!" Fonda tells a preacher in the film. "We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by the man! And we wanna get loaded!"
Fonda produced "Easy Rider" and Hopper directed it for a meager $380,000. It went on to gross $40 million worldwide, a substantial sum for its time.
The film was a hit at Cannes, netted a best screenplay Oscar nomination for Fonda, Hopper and Terry Southern, and has since been listed on the American Film Institute's ranking of the top 100 American films. The establishment gave its official blessing in 1998 when "Easy Rider" was included in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
In 1969, he told The Associated Press that, "As for my generation, it was time they started doing their own speaking. There has been too much of the 'silent majority' — at both ends of the generation gap."
He did reflect later in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter that it may have impacted his career prospects: "It certainly put a nail in the coffin of 'the next Dean Jones at Disney.' "
Fonda's output may have been prolific, but he was not always well-regarded, which he was acutely aware of. But he said that "Ulee's Gold," which came out in 1997, was the "most fun" he'd ever had making a movie. He wore the same wire-rimmed glasses his father wore in "On Golden Pond," although he said beyond that he was not channeling Henry Fonda in the performance. He lost out on the Oscar to Nicholson, who won for "As Good as It Gets."
Nicholson said in his acceptance speech that it as an honor to be nominated alongside "my old bike pal Fonda."
He remained prolific for the rest of his life with notable performances as the heel in Steven Soderbergh's "The Limey," from 1999, and in James Mangold's 2007 update of "3:10 to Yuma." He'd even play himself in an episode of the spoof documentary series "Documentary Now!" about life as "an Oscar Bridesmaid."
Fonda is survived by his third wife, Margaret DeVogelaere, his daughter, actress Bridget Fonda and son, Justin, both from his first marriage to Susan Brewer.
"In one of the saddest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts," the family said in a statement. "As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy."
New York, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — Few performances are as daunting as the one-person play.
That's why Jake Gyllenhaal had to find a way to conquer that fear when he took on the role of Abe in the second half of "Sea Wall/A Life."
"Before I did it, I was terrified," Gyllenhaal said of "A Life," after the play's Broadway opening. Tom Sturridge stars in "Sea Wall," the other half of the pair of one-act monologues.
Gyllenhaal admits that nervousness extended to the rehearsal room. But then he found confidence in an unlikely place. The story of Alex Honnold's 3,000-foot (914-meter) climb of the El Capitan rock formation at Yosemite National Park.
"I was sort of quaking in my boots thinking about it. Then I saw 'Free Solo,' that documentary about the free climber Alex Honnold that won the Academy Award. Amazing, amazing documentary, and I thought to myself, if he can do that without any rope I can do a monologue. And then that was it," Gyllenhaal said.
From then on, it was smooth sailing.
It was a little different for Sturridge. "I feel like weirdly — like before I walk on stage I feel fear. But I feel safest on the stage," Sturridge said.
Both actors say the lack of an onstage partner to play off of can add to the stress; there isn't a safety net if you blow a line. But Sturridge uses the audience.
"Normally when you're on stage you're pretending to be in a room and pretending like you're in Russia in the 1920s and you're pretending the audience don't exist. But with this, I'm having a conversation with real people who are different every night. And if I blow a line, then we just change the conversation," Sturridge said.
"Sea Wall/A Life," a pair of plays written by Nick Payne and Simon Stephens, respectively are tragic comedies that deal with love and loss.
Gyllenhaal says the emotional value shifts with each audience.
"It's very emotional through all of it. But it changes every night. It's different. Sometimes I'm telling the story, I'm just telling it. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes I hear someone in the audience have an emotional response. He was laughing or crying, and it makes me feel something," he said.
"Sea Wall/A Life" plays on Broadway at the Hudson Theater until Sept. 29.
Detroit, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — Regardless of her reputation as a performer, Aretha Franklin's cancer doctors say she was no diva as a patient.
As the anniversary of her death approaches, two of her doctors tell The Associated Press that the Queen of Soul handled the diagnosis and treatment with grace — and the grit to keep performing for years with a rare type of cancer.
"As a person, she was extremely kind, she was respectful, she was funny — she treated people like me and my team members as her friends," said Dr. Manisha Shah of Ohio State University. "There is no phone call that would end without her asking about us. Most of the time she would ask about us first. ... It's because who she was: She was really down-to-earth."
Franklin, who died in Detroit on Aug. 16, 2018, at 76, had pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, which starts in the pancreas but is far different and much slower developing than the more common, aggressive type of pancreatic cancer known as adenocarcinoma. Franklin's kind is exceedingly rare: Neuroendocrine cancers comprise about 7% of cancers originating in the pancreas, according to the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation .
Shah said she first saw Franklin after her 2010 diagnosis, surgery and treatment at Detroit's Karmanos Cancer Center.
"I think she had her priorities very clear in her mind. ... She would ask me how long this treatment would go for, what would be her restrictions," Shah said. "As far as I can see, she was able to live that dream, or her plan."
Of course, her illness meant some cancellations, which was to include performing on her 76th birthday in March of last year in Newark and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April. But she gamely carried on as her illness progressed: Performances of note included closing a gala in November 2017 for Elton John's 25th anniversary of his AIDS foundation, and bringing President Barack Obama and many others to tears in 2015 with a triumphant performance of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at a Kennedy Center tribute for the song's co-writer, Carole King.
"How can the same person who is going through this cancer journey continue to do what she did all her life? It's amazing how she went through it so gracefully," Shah said. "She wasn't afraid."
Both Shah and Dr. Philip Agop Philip, a professor at Karmanos and Wayne State University, recalled how she wanted to continue her life as normally — and positively — as possible.
"She was full speed — she wasn't even complaining," said Philip, who first saw Franklin in early 2011 and was her doctor of record at the time of her death. "That was different than what I expected. ... She never showed signs that she was close to thinking that she may give up ... until the end, close to the end."
In the public eye, she even embraced the "diva" tag, once saying, "What do YOU think?" when an AP reporter asked Franklin if she thought she was the ultimate diva while discussing a VH1 Divas concert honoring her music. Still, Philip also saw a patient who didn't demand star treatment, saying she never made him or his staff "feel that we need to treat her as a celebrity." Of course, given her fame, some accommodations were made: She came and went through a side door and there were more frequent changes in appointments because of her performing schedule. While there, however, she was keen on doing whatever needed to be done, he said.
"She knew her body, she knew herself," he said. "A lot of patients will ask for treatment that doesn't really make much difference to her body. She didn't do that."
Shah says Franklin's cancer — the same kind Apple co-founder and longtime leader Steve Jobs had — has many treatment options, and her doctors employed both targeted drug therapy and chemotherapy.
Shah said she talked with Franklin about traveling to Europe for a treatment before it was approved last year in the United States. It was then the doctor learned of her patient's famous fear of flying, which anti-anxiety tapes and classes couldn't help.
"She said, 'Oh no, I can't go — I don't fly,'" Shah recalled. "We had several other options for her."
Both Shah and Philip recall Franklin's positivity in the face of cancer, and the positive effect that had on them as well as their colleagues.
"Aretha as a person who was fighting cancer, she was very curious, she was very calm. She was hopeful, she was an optimist. This was kind of her attitude. She didn't let cancer cripple her. She did not have that feeling that cancer was the main center of her life," Shah said. "She lived her life as simply and beautifully and as full as possible every day. For us, it was such an inspiring journey of several years with her."
In tribute to Franklin, Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation CEO Elyse Gellerman has created the Aretha Franklin Fund for Neuroendocrine Cancer Research, with the blessing of the family. It was announced this week.
"We wanted to create this fund so that those who wanted to honor Aretha's memory have a way to support the research," Gellerman said.