Bowie biopic recalls singer’s final five years

Nov9 DOC NYC DAVID-BOWIE

The film’s U.S. premiere is on November 10 at the SVA Theatre.

By Wendy Moscow

 

One of the most haunting images I’ve ever seen in a music video is David Bowie lying in a hospital bed, his eyes, swathed in surgical gauze, replaced by buttons. His arms rise upward, as if, Peter Pan-like, he could fly toward some Neverland in defiance of impending mortality. The song is called “Lazarus.” Bowie died on January 10th, 2016, two days after the video’s release.

Director Francis Whatley has crafted a remarkable documentary that celebrates the last five years of this electrifying singer-songwriter-actor’s career, during which some of his most brilliant work was produced.

Intercutting exhilarating concert footage from about a decade before with interviews with the musicians and other creative artists who collaborated with Bowie on his last two albums and a musical theater production (also called “Lazarus”), Whatley allows the viewer to better understand what drove this enigmatic and sometimes elusive icon.

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‘What Haunts Us’ explores suicides following sexual abuse

Nov9 What Haunts Us

“What Haunts Us” will be screened at IFC Center.

 

By Seth Shire
Director Paige Goldberg Tolmach’s fascinating and unsettling documentary, “What Haunts Us,” could not have come at a more appropriate time, which can be fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how one looks at it. The film is part of DOC NYC, which runs from November 9-16.

In the college sociology classes that I teach, we discuss the concept of deviance. I make the point that what, at one time, might not have been thought of as deviant behavior, now, as society progresses, is seen as deviant. The recent revelations about sexual harassment that dominate the news, including testimonies from those who knew what was going on but chose to say nothing, until now, are great examples of this.

“What Haunts Us” concerns Charleston, South Carolina’s Porter Gaud School, the high school attended by Goldberg Tolmach. Alarmed by the number of suicides of male students in her graduating class, from over 30 years ago (six suicides out of a class of 49), the filmmaker delves into what was going on, beneath the surface, particularly with a popular teacher named Eddie Fischer. Fischer sexually abused male students for years and was protected by a wall of silence, from both administrators and students. As one former, now middle-aged, student puts it, “You’re dying to tell someone about it, but you’re scared as hell someone will find out.”

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Garland Jeffreys crowd-funding new album

dec15-garland-jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame by David Johansen, formerly of The New York Dolls (Photo by Arnie Goodman)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys has been keeping busy lately.

The veteran musician, now 73, was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in November.

Additionally, his early hit song “Wild in the Streets” was recently featured in the Netflix original series “The Get Down” and was also included on the official RCA soundtrack for the show.

Then, last Tuesday, Jeffreys launched a PledgeMusic crowd-funding campaign aimed at producing a new album and a documentary about his career.

The doc features Harvey Keitel, Laurie Anderson and Graham Parker, all singing the Brooklyn-born crooner’s praises. The album is expected to be released sometime in the spring.

Finally, in keeping with what has become an annual tradition, Jeffreys will be performing at Joe’s Pub at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. His 20-year-old daughter Savanna, who’s also a musician, will open the set with some of her own songs and the father and daughter will also perform a duet.

Reached at home, Jeffreys spoke with Town & Village about the aforementioned projects and a European tour planned for 2017.

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Pols ask hospitals not to film patients without prior permission

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Anita Chanko, widow of Mark Chanko, a former Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper resident whose medical treatment and death was filmed for a reality show without permission, Mark’s daughter Pamela, his son Kennerh, Kenneth’s wife Barbara, State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Edward Braunstein of Queens (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Anita Chanko, widow of Mark Chanko, a former Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper resident whose medical treatment and death was filmed for a reality show without permission, Mark’s daughter Pamela, his son Kenneth, Kenneth’s wife Barbara, State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Edward Braunstein of Queens (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Over 30 members of the City Council are calling on hospitals to respect patients’ privacy, in response to the stunning case of a man who was struck by a truck only to then have his medical treatment and death filmed for an ABC reality show, “NY Med.”

The man was Mark Chanko, at one time a resident of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. His family, who never authorized any filming of his treatment, has sued the hospital, New York Presbyterian, and ABC. Arguments for the case are expected to be heard in September at the Court of Appeals.

While there is currently legislation pending at the state level that would prohibit hospitals filming patients without obtaining prior consent, the Council said it was asking hospitals to take that step voluntarily. The Council members wrote a letter that was sent to all New York hospitals asking them not to film patients or allow third parties to film patients for entertainment purposes. Or, if they do, the Council members said hospitals should at least make sure they get prior permission to do so.

The letter was also written in response to news that a reality show similar to “NY Med” would soon begin filming at a Boston hospital.

Mark Chanko with son Ken on a family cruise in 2006

Mark Chanko with son Ken on a family cruise in 2006

In the “NY Med” episode, Chanko’s face was blurred and his voice altered but those who knew him, including his widow Anita, recognized him immediately when she watched the show.

At a press conference at City Hall, she recalled how he’d asked, “Does my wife know I’m here?’ Whoever answered him said, ‘I don’t know.’” Since then, Anita said she’s had the segment featuring her husband pop up in her mind at unexpected moments. At these times, all of the evening’s events play out, starting from when her husband mentions wanting to run to the deli to pick up milk and bananas, to shortly afterwards, when the doorman at the couple’s building in Yorkville told Anita she needed to come downstairs, to then seeing Chanko lying in a gurney that she wasn’t allowed to get near.

“It’s a PTSD (experience),” Anita said. “It comes in unprompted. Watch a man die, now we’re going to sell you a car. Now we’re going to sell you some soap.”

When viewing the episode, which she said no one from the network or hospital warned her would be aired, she felt like she was reliving his death all over again. When the doctor told her and other family members that attempts to save Chanko were unsuccessful, he hadn’t told them he was wearing a microphone or that the conversation would be part of a show.

“We don’t want for this to happen to other people,” said Ken Chanko, Mark’s son, a teacher, who’s also a former film critic for Town & Village.

Council Member Dan Garodnick called shows like “NY Med” and its Boston spinoff, “Save My Life: Boston Trauma,” a “crude window into people’s medical care.

“Patients in our hospitals deserve to know that their sensitive moments will not be used for entertainment,” he said. “We deserve better from our medical institutions.”

Garodnick added that the Council will soon be issuing a report card for hospitals, “so you’ll know which hospitals will protect your privacy and which won’t.”

Last Thursday, Garodnick posted a petition on change.org calling on hospitals to not film patients. As of Monday it was signed over 500 times.

At the press conference, Council members also expressed their support for state legislation that would prevent future incidents like the one experienced by the Chankos.

Legislation that was authored by Assembly Member Edward Braunstein would create a private right of action for the unauthorized filming and broadcasting of hospital patients. It’s in the midst of some revising, though, with Braunstein explaining that the revisions were in response to broadcast associations’ concerns that some of the language was too vague. “But we’re confident we’ll be able to complete it next year,” said Braunstein, whose district is in Queens.

State Senator Liz Krueger, who’s co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate, said there’s no way the presence of a TV camera wouldn’t impact the quality of patient care.

“(If a doctor says) ‘we need to get over there,’ and the director says, ‘We need a better shot over there’ — we’re not supposed to have that situation,” she said.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, another bill co-sponsor, added, “Shame on Dr. Oz and others for violating their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.” Dr. Mehmet Oz is featured on “NY Med.”

A spokesperson for New York Presbyterian previously declined to comment on the Chankos’ litigation. A request for comment on the Council’s letter was referred to the Greater New York Hospital Association, whose president, Kenneth E. Raske, issued a statement indicating his agreement with the Council’s suggestions.

“Greater New York Hospital Association and its member hospitals agree that hospitals should not allow patients to be filmed for entertainment purposes without their prior consent,” Raske said. “Further, all New York hospitals take their legal obligations concerning patient privacy very seriously. Both New York State and federal law prohibit the use or disclosure of identifiable patient information without the prior consent of the patient or a suitable patient representative. New York’s hospitals will continue to vigorously safeguard the privacy of patients and their families.”

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these concerts, historic tours and other events

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum presents the tour, “Irish Outsiders,” in the restored home of an Irish-Catholic immigrant family. (Photo courtesy of Tenement Museum)

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum presents the tour, “Irish Outsiders,” in the restored home of an Irish-Catholic immigrant family. (Photo courtesy of Tenement Museum)

By Sabina Mollot
This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on Tuesday, March 17, and for those looking for a way to celebrate the day when everyone’s Irish (that doesn’t necessarily involve pounding down pints of Guinness), Town & Village has you covered. Read on for information on some local events celebrating Irish culture and/or St. Patrick on Tuesday and throughout the week.

On Friday, March 13 from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., the Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East 4th Street, presents the “Spirit of the Irish Candlelight Ghost Tour.” On this candlelit tour, guests will learn the history of the house where eight people died, and hear true tales of inexplicable occurrences from those who actually experienced them. Many of the most peculiar occurrences have been related to the Tredwells’ Irish servants, and so this special tour will include the 4th floor servants’ quarters. The New York Times has called the Merchant’s House “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House.” Admission is $25, $15 for museum members. For more information, call (212) 777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org.

Mar12 Noel Hill

Concertina player Noel Hill will perform on Friday as part of NYU’s “Blarney Star Concert Series.”

On Friday, March 13 at 8 p.m., New York University’s Glucksman Ireland House presents “The Blarney Star Concert Series” with Noel Hill and Martin O’Connell. Concertina player Noel Hill, of County Clare, is known for revolutionizing the sound of the little hexagonal-ended squeezebox, bringing to it a repertoire and chordal accompaniment style borrowed from the uilleann piping tradition. For this show, he’ll perform with Martin O’Connell, a younger Kerry native who’ll play the two-row button box accordion.
Free admission to NYU students and faculty with a valid ID card. For non-members, a $15 donation at the door for the Blarney Star Concert Series is requested. Tickets are available at the door only; no reservations will be accepted. For more information, call (212) 998-3950.

On Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. and Sunday, March 15 at noon, Big Onion Tours presents a guided walk through the former “Little Ireland” district of the Lower East Side, between City Hall and Houston Street. This family friendly tour will explain why St. Patrick’s Day is more popular here than in Ireland. Stops could include: the founding site of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Al Smith’s home, the Five Points, the first Catholic church in the city, and sites associated with Tammany Hall, Thomas Addis Emmet, and many others. The group will meet directly in front of St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway between Fulton and Vesey Streets. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for full-time students with ID and seniors 65 and up. Paying in advance is suggested at http://www.bigonion.com.

On Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m., the Merchant’s House Museum presents the “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration: A Tribute to the Tredwells’ Irish Servants.” This tour will invite participants to climb the house’s narrow staircase to the newly restored fourth-floor servants’ quarters and see where the Tredwells’ four Irish servants lived and did some of their work. The tour will explain why it would have been impossible to run a home like the Merchant’s House without them.
Admission is $10, $5 students and seniors, free for children under 12. Reservations not required. For more information, call (212) 777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org.

On Sunday, March 15 at 3 p.m., the Church of the Epiphany at East 22nd Street and Second Avenue presents a free concert with Epiphany’s Adult Choir and guest instrumentalists. The program will include Irish and St. Patrick’s Day related hymns from the chorus with more Irish and Irish-inspired music in a variety of genres from guest professional singers and instrumentalists, including drummers, flutists and harp players.

Stuyvesant Town fitness instructor Tim Haft will present two holiday themed classes (followed by happy hour drinking at Otto’s Shrunken Head for those looking to balance holiday debauchery with something healthy).
Haft will offer his weekly Punk Rope class on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street. Admission is $12. His new MoshFit class, offered weekly at Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street, will take place on Tuesday, March 17 at 6:15-7 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-wish with a suggested amount of $12. Both classes will be followed by happy hour at Otto’s with drafts and well drinks priced at $4 (Monday from 8:30-11 p.m., Tuesday until 8 p.m.) For more information, visit punkrope.com/mosh-fit.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard Street, is offering a tour of the restored home of the Moore family, Irish-Catholic immigrants who started a new life in Kleindeutschland (now the East Village). The tour reveals how this family dealt with being “outsiders” at 97 Orchard, and how the Irish more broadly created a strong sense of American Irish identity through the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This “Irish Outsiders” tour, which is recommended for ages 12 and up, is actually offered daily a few times a day. On Tuesday, March 17, it’s given at 12:15, 3:15, 3:45, 4:15 and 4:45 p.m. For schedules on other days throughout the week, call (877) 975-3786 or visit http://www.tenement.org. Booking tours online is recommended since some tours sell out. Admission is $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors.

Mar12 Da

Irish Repertory Theatre is currently running the show “Da,” at the theater’s temporary space at DR2 Theatre. (Photo by Carol Rosegg)

Irish Repertory Theatre, which stages works by Irish and Irish-American playwrights, is currently running the show “Da,” at the theater’s temporary space at DR2 Theatre, 101 E. 15th St., through April 5. “Da” runs eight times each week, including on St. Patrick’s Day, with Tuesday performances at 7 p.m.
In this play by Hugh Leonard, a man named Charlie returns to his childhood home in Dublin in 1968 after his father’s funeral only to find the stubborn patriarch’s ghost unwilling to leave the house. Immediately, Charlie and his father (his “da”) start bickering as they did in life. Town & Village theater critic Peter Von Mayrhauser recently called the banter “wildly funny,” noting that “playwright Leonard has a great ear for Irish blarney.” Director is Charlotte Moore. Tickets are $70 and can be bought online at irishrep.org or by calling (212) 727-2737.

Nude literary salon “Naked Girls Reading” will present works by Irish authors. (Photo by Angela McConnell)

Nude literary salon “Naked Girls Reading” will present works by Irish authors. (Photo by Angela McConnell)

Horse Trade Theater Group presents “Naked Girls Reading: The Emerald Isle,” on Wednesday, March 18 at from 8-10 p.m. at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Pl. “Naked Girls Reading” is a monthly literary salon featuring readings by local burlesque performers and others who strip down to nothing.
This month, readers will share literature, history, musings and more by and about Ireland’s greatest authors: classics by Oscar Wilde and James Joyce; selections from contemporary authors; traditional folk tales and stories; and musings on the demon Drink by authors from Ireland and beyond.
Host Nasty Canasta will be joined by Evelyn Vinyl, Nina La Voix and Stormy Leather for this in-the-buff celebration, which they’ve promised will not involve green beer or foam leprechaun hats. Cover is $25 (two for $40). For tickets, visit http://www.horsetrade.info/under-st-marks.

Teen with cancer co-directs ‘Farewell to Hollywood,’ with her as a subject

Reggie Nicholson and Henry Corra, co-directors and subjects of “Farewell to Hollywood.”

Reggie Nicholson and Henry Corra, co-directors and subjects of “Farewell to Hollywood.”

By Seth Shire

A part of me wants to say that I enjoyed “Farewell to Hollywood,” a new documentary co-directed by New York based documentarian Henry Corra and Regina Diane Nicholson (Reggie).

However, I do not think that “enjoyed” is the correct term for my reaction to this very moving, honest, frank, poignant and life affirming, personal documentary about a teenaged filmmaker’s final, two-year struggle with cancer.

“It’s kind of an ordeal, isn’t it?” Corra said to me, empathizing with my reaction to this heartfelt documentary which opened at Cinema Village on February 25 (Reggie’s birthday). Reggie, the film’s subject as well as its co-director, was a filmmaker whose goal was to make a feature film. As Reggie’s mother says, in the documentary, Reggie “won’t make her mark on the world until she’s done that.”

Corra recalled meeting Reggie at the 2010 Silver Docs Film Festival. He said that Reggie approached him about the idea of making a documentary about her. Corra said he told Reggie that, “If she was interested in collaborating on an unscripted, non-fiction project, where we were equal partners, then we’d be in business. And she was like ‘Yeah, I like that idea.’”

Corra added that at first, “I have to admit I was quite terrified at taking on the tragedy of a young person that we all knew was going to die, including Reggie. It was daunting for me.” After receiving encouragement from Reggie and her mother, Corra decided to proceed with the film.

Corra and Reggie formed a close attachment to the point where Corra actually wound up being her caretaker, all while he and Reggie continued making the film. Corra explained, “It’s coming of age while dying as an artist and as a young woman and it’s in hyper drive because of the circumstances.”

Corra, a student of the late documentary filmmaker David Maysles, explained that his approach to documentary filmmaking, influenced by Maysles, is about “collapsing the boundaries between art and life, subject and author.” Corra added that, “In a sense ‘Farewell to Hollywood’ is the ultimate master class in achieving this.”

When I asked Corra about his hope for “Farewell to Hollywood” he said, “Our hope for the film has already come true. When you make these unscripted, personal films the rules of the film are made up and established as you go along. Over a two-year period we developed this really amazingly interesting creative working relationship of a young person at the beginning of their career and a seasoned director working together. We actually were great collaborators. We made the film for ourselves. The film became synonymous with life for Reggie as well as for me. It became synonymous with her being alive and happy, doing the thing she wanted to do the most. Our goal was to make the most amazing film that the two of us, as well as our friends, loved. Whatever happens beyond that is to be determined.”

Corra explained that fame and fortune were not goals for Reggie, adding that, “She was very mature as an artist, to understand that.”

Cinema Village is located at 22 East 12th Street.