Friday, November 30, 2007

Tom Nazziola, Buster Keaton and the BQE Project

Tonight I saw Tom Nazziola's BQE Project perform his brand new original score to Buster Keaton's Battling Butler at the Walter Reade Theater. I've known Tom for a number of years, and while he's come to a few of my shows, I've always been working when the BQE has performed. Luckily, I was unengaged this evening, and was really glad I got to hear Tom's scoring work and his excellent 8-piece ensemble. They did a great job, and Tom's score really did the work Battling Butler needs...it supported the energy, gags' rhythm and the heart of the piece. BK's BB is not one of his greatest, and is somewhat uncharacteristic, but it's a story well-told and with a great supporting cast. If you get a chance to hear Tom and the BQE -- go. The sound is traditional and is scored down to the second...meaning it's not mood music beds that fit, it's more like a real film score timed to each beat of the picture.

Okay...I got through my double-header on Weds of The General (10:30am!) at AMMI for a near-full house of seniors, and then Sunrise in Huntington. Never played for Sunrise before, and it went really well. Those expressionistic, lyrical films are such a blast to play for, and it was a great show. We had a real nice crowd, plus the opening short - my print of Big Business - absolutely killed. Thurs eve I hung out with Phil Carli, who is in town to play for magic lantern shows at MoMA on Fri and Sat. I will go tomorrow (Sat) for the ML show, and then have to take off for the Brooklyn Museum to play for It with Clara Bow. I watched this on a VHS that I got from the NYPL, at double-speed. Found out from Bruce Lawton that the Killiam edition was the first time the film really had been restored and put into circulation; Killiam managed to coordinate the rights from both Paramount and Elinor Glyn.

Sunday's Silent Clowns show is Stan Laurel shorts, our last of the season. Spent a little time this afternoon repairing the focus knob on one of our two Eiki SL-O projectors. I've customized them to run at 21.5 fps, and the we'll be using both machines for these Laurel one-reelers, which can zip by at 24 fps.

A tri-state area high school has contacted me about doing one of my orch scores...with their band. Now need to re-tool the score for concert band, but that shouldn't be too complicated. Once things are a little more cemented I'll let you know where (and when) this'll be happening.

Still haven't had time to deal with the orchestral cues from the 'teens and '20s I acquired in September; same for my idea of recording scores for purchasable download for silents. Maybe when a little dust settles later in Dec or Jan...?

Stay tuned, and see you at the silents!

Ben Model

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dec/Jan/Feb show bookings

Have just finished recording theatre organ scores for a release by Unknown Video of William S. Hart in Sand. Also on the disc is an Art Acord 2-reel oater and a surprise comedy short (you'll just have to buy it to find out!). Recorded the scores earlier in the week on the Miditzer and am dumping the recorded tracks into my computer as we speak, and will send burnt discs out Fri.

Last week was eventful as well. Got the orchestral score for the Nell Shipman The Light On Lookout finished, printed and shipped to Boise by Thurs. During the last couple of days of work on the score more show bookings came in: three shows of the Norma Talmadge comedy Kiki at MoMA (Dec 19, 20, 21), Dreyer's Love One Another for the NY Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center (Jan 13), Lloyd's Safety Last at the Riverdale YMHA (Jan 26). A couple more have popped up in the last few days: a showing at MoMA of new restorations of shorts starring Bert Williams (Feb 2), a class and show at Simon's Rock College (Jan 31), Lloyd's Speedy at the CAC (Jan 8), and a showing of Chaplin's City Lights in Greenwich CT (Feb 11). The Chaplin show will find me as guest speaker, since the CC family does not allow live accompaniment to his feature films unless you hire an orchestra.

And to top this all off, I've been offered two shows in the last day or two that I had to pass on because I was already booked. One at AMMI for Dec 9 (I will be at MoMA playing for Von Sternberg's Docks of NY), plus a date for another film at the NY Jewish Film Festival. For the latter I gave the festival contact Steve Sterner's # and understand he is now booked for that show (His People on 1/20); I am already set to accompany the silent Peter Pan at the Burns Film Center in Westchester.

Am still trying to figure out it Facebook is worth being part of. Have had a "presence" there for a few months (I took down my MySpace page some time ago...too much of a pain). So far, Facebook may be worth it. I know my postings about shows on the "Death to Talkies" group caught the eye of one person who came in from Nutley NJ for our show of Wings.

Am very excited about new developments with the Miditzer. There's a new beta being tested whose graphics much more closely resemble a real theatre organ console, plus there's a whole 'nother set of digital samples of ranks being converted to soundfonts. Right now I'm figuring out ways to acquire a touch-screen overlay for my laptop to complete the Midizter experience/package.

It's been a great year, much to be thankful for tomorrow (Thanksgiving) and the year's not over yet. Hope to post a videoblog entry next time...

See you at the silents!

Ben Model

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wings, with special guest Budd Schulberg

Our Silent Clowns show on Nov 11 featured the 1927 "Wings", and I accompanied on the Miditzer virtual theatre organ. We had a real nice 16mm print, originally owned by Walter Kerr and donated to us a few years ago by the Kerr family (along with a few other titles). The added attraction which happened at the last minute was that Budd Schulberg came to the show to introduce the film. I got an e-mail the Friday evening before the show from Schulberg's son, saying his father had heard about the show and offered to come and share his memories of "Wings" and of how his father (B.P. Schulberg) produced the film. B.P. Schulberg was associate producer on the picture as well as a few dozen other Paramount releases in the late silent era, and eventually came to run Paramount in the '30s. Budd Schulberg himself went on to do a great deal of writing and other work in Hollywood, penning the script for On the Waterfront and the novel What Makes Sammy Run among many others.

Schulberg, his wife and son got stuck in traffic and arrived just as we were about to start the film -- Bruce and I were stalling, answering questions about the Miditzer and our slide shows -- and proved to be a real pro. He entered the theater and walked to the front, while his son helped him off with his coat; I handed him a wireless mic and he leaned against the stage and spoke to our audience for about 10 mins or so about the film and his memories of that era. we were all so thrilled to have him there with us; it's such a special thing to have a living connection to the silent era right there with us at a silent film show.

Shown in the photo are, L to R: Bruce Lawton, Steve Massa, me, Budd Schulberg and Robert Arkus. (photo by David L. Snyder)

"Wings" is an amazing picture, dramatically compelling and also possessing a slight anti-war message that moved many of our audience members (I heard quite a bit of sniffling toward the end). Why doesn't this film get shown more often? There are certainly prints around, and I understand that the Academy did a restoration of the picture a couple of years ago. I am working on getting this booked at the monthly series I accompany in Huntington NY at the Cinema Arts Centre.

Am right now winding up work on the orch score for the Nell Shipman short, and I expect to have this shipped out by end of the week. I am also making new titles (main and inter) for a few of the shorts on this Sunday's Silent Clowns program, and am really having a blast doing this.

Looming on the immediate horizon:
  • Weds 11/28 at 10:30 am – The General at the Museum of the Moving Image
  • Weds 11/28 at 7:30 pm – Sunrise (plus Big Business) at the C.A.C.
  • Sat 12/1 at 6:30 pm – Brooklyn Museum silent film show
  • Sun 12/2 at 2pm – Stan Laurel solo shorts at the Silent Clowns
  • also in December: Asta Nielsen, more Reel Baseball, and Docks of NY
See you at the silents!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

recovering from Halloween, workin' on an orch score...

The week or so before Halloween was busier than usual for me. Five shows, two of which were out of town overnighters, left me a little winded but with a greater appreciation of Lon Chaney's talents. Three of the shows I played were Phantom of the Opera (Oneonta, NY), The Unknown (Huntington NY) and Hunchback of Notre Dame (NYC), and two of those were on organ.

Am now staring into the rest of the year, and mainly at an orchestral score commission from the Boise Philharmonic for a Nell Shipman film called The Light on Lookout. Their youth ensemble, the Treasure Valley Youth Symphony, will perform this as well as my score for Keaton's One Week (composed in 2004) at their annual fundraiser in Feb 2008. I will be there for the event this year, and will accompany Arbuckle's Love (1918) on the theatre organ at the Boise Egyptian Theatre.

Today, began plowing thru the 1927 Wings, which I'm accompanying on Sunday at the Silent Clowns series, making story notes and noting visual cues so I can anticipate story points. Am using a video with a score by Gaylord Carter on it. Was listening to it, but need to mute it as after the first 20-30 minutes it gets a little repetitive in theme use and noisy in the amount of sound, not as subtle as Lee Erwin's style (although a lot of people find Lee's playing a little uninteresting). It's good to listen to Carter's playing, for style and theatre organ registrations. I'll be scoring the film on Sunday with the Miditzer virtual theatre organ.

Got a couple calls about shows for 2008 here in the city (not at MoMA, but somewhere else cool), and have already booked at show of Peter Pan (1925) for January at the Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY.

Cancelled my MySpace page a month or so ago. Found the site annoyingly cluttered and spam-ridden. Have got a page on Facebook, but don't pay loads of attention to it. There's an interesting group on it called "Death To Talkies" with a few hundred members, started by a student who's trying to get Edna Purviance a star on the walk of fame. It's nice to see so many people under 25 so interested in silent film.

Still percolating my notion of a website to sell downloadable scores for silent films that synch with DVD's people already own, as alternate tracks. Just need the time to record some, and to set up the site.

Next up for recording is a score for William S. Hart's Sand, for Unknown Video. Have you bought your copy of What Happened to Rosa with Mabel Normand from them yet? It's a new release and has a theatre organ score by me on it.

Stay tuned, and see you at the silents!

Ben

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

mid-October report

Here's a new videoblog report about what's goin' on right now:



News in brief:
  • just been booked as a speaker for a show of City Lights in Feb '08 for the Greenwich Classic Film Series
  • newly donated Steinway at MoMA now in place, and chrome-legged piano in Titus 2 now out of the picture
  • just recorded scores for Festival of Silent Comedy Vol. 6 for ReelclassicDVD. Order yours today!
  • did I mention the DVD of Mabel Normand in What Happened to Rosa is out from Unknown Video?
See you at the silents!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fall Cinesation in Ohio, Sept 27-30

Much, much to report. Have been meaning to post a videoblog, but there still hasn't been enough time to deal with that. Still trying to get the dust from Sept to settle (24 performances)...

Played for 5 Sessue Hayakawa films at MoMA the week after I returned from Norway. One on piano and the others on Miditzer. MoMA, over the summer, purchased all the equipment (except for laptop) to use Miditzer there, so I can accompany something on organ when I choose to, and not just when I think I can schlep all my equipment down. The theatre organ sound really seems to be effective, especially with slightly weaker pictures. The applause the films (and I) get at the end seems a little stronger when I use the organ. People really enjoy that sound, and I'm really appreciative of the MoMA film dept for going ahead with this. Don't worry...I'll still use piano for silents there.

Also did a few Immigrant shows in late Sept at the Museum of the Moving Image; daytime, school shows. These are starting to feel like going in to a day-job, because they've become routine in a way...even my talk about silent film music is something I can almost do by rote. Just did three this past week.

Got to play for Leaves of Satan's Book dir by Carl Th. Dreyer at Scandinavia House in NYC. Ironically, their head programmer was in Tromsø the day before, at a screening at the Verdensteatret where I'd been in early Sept! Live translation (Danish intertitles, y'know) was done by Tana Ross, a documentary filmmaker who I knew from before, as she had done the live translation at MoMA for the Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöstrom retros there. She also taught me the correct way to pronouce Sjöstrom.

Then I had to pack up my suitcase - and Miditzer pedals - and I was off to the Fall Cinesation in Massillon, OH. Festival was held in the town's original 1915 movie theater, the Lincoln, which was originally a Triangle Theater. It was run as part of the Schine chain of cinemas at one point (see also the Hamilton Theater in upstate NY), and was saved from the wrecking ball in the 1980's by the Lions. Saw some great silents, and skipped some of the sound films (I was tired). I used the Miditzer for most of what I played, and Phil Carli used the piano. But I think I've won him over as far as using the Miditzer is concerned. Phil's a great theatre organist, BTW.

Below are some pics from the fest.





News briefs:
  • Have begun taking a look at the Nell Shipman short The Light on Lookout and have begun working out ideas for the orchestral score for it I need to get done.
  • The Unknown Video release of What Happened to Rosa with Mabel Normand was just released.
  • The 3rd volume of Our Gang silents is now out, from ReelclassicDVD.
  • The Houdini set from Kino has been put off, and will not be out this fall, perhaps not even until early 2008
  • realized I have three Chaney pictures during the last week of October (check my performance sched if you want to see all of them)
  • plus a few projects I'm not at liberty to discuss right now, so stay tuned...!
That's all for now. See you at the silents!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tromsø, Norway - day 4 and final wrap-up

Here's my final report on Stumfilm Dagere in Tromsø Norway:


See you soon!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Tromsø, Norway - day 3

Here is a report on day 3 from Tromsø Norway:

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tromsø, Norway - day 2

Here's a report on day 2 (and a little of day 3...):



I accompanied a program of comedy shorts for kids (including The Sea Nymphs with Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, a real rarity), a program of polar expedition films, saw Madame de Thebes (1915) dir by Mauritz Stiller and accompanied by Matti Bye, and saw A Trip to Mars/Himmelskibet (1918) accompanied by Gaute Barlindhaug. Great stuff!

At left, Jan Anders Diesen and Morten Skallerud, who presented the program of polar films of Roald Amundsen's expeditions to the South and North Poles.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tromsø, Norway - day 1

Here's a first report from Tromsø and the first installment of what I hope will be a regularly posted (weekly?) video blog that will be on YouTube and will also turn up here:


Opening night film was The Passion of Joan of Arc, with score by Matti Bye. Friday found me up bright and early for a pair of school shows for local 5th graders.

Here are photos of the cinema the festival is held in:

Here is the view of the street the theater is on called Storgata, a walking street (no cars):


Accompanied some polar exploration films this afternoon, and saw a newly discovered/restored 1915 Mauritz Still film (score by Matti Bye) and the Danish sci-fi film A Trip to Mars. Will post more tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

blasting off for Tromsø (Weds)

Well, I'm off to Tromsø today...will land there midday Thurs. Am traveling solo again this year as the fest coincides with the first week of school here. Will plan to post festival reports each day, if I can. Opening night film is a new restoration of The Passion of Joan of Arc with a new score by Matti Bye (Sweden).

Latest news:
  • the two school programs in Norway for Monday 9/10 won't be happening...no school that day because of municipal elections. Stay tuned to find out what I wind up doing that day.
  • Have just booked three Immigrant daytime shows for school groups at AMMI for the fall, and more will undoubtedly trickle in as area schools plan their field trips, and...
  • Have also had emails and talks with the second annual NY Clown Theater Festival, and I will undoubtedly present a talk/clips program on silent screen comedy there in October (again).
  • am in the process of solidifying a date in Oct for a Halloween show at a big church in NYC of Hunchback of Notre Dame; doing this one with Bruce Lawton...
  • no listing on Kino.com for the Houdini DVD set, which I thought was coming out this month. Will get update and post again with details.
It's 25º (F) colder in Tromsø...need to go dig out hat, gloves and scarf...!

***

Thursday, August 30, 2007

me and Roscoe in Norway again

Here's a page from the "Stumfilm Dagere" festival catalog, which was just sent to me as a PDF.


Click on the image to see it full size (and to see if you can understand the Norwegian text).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sherlock Jr in Hamilton NY


Am back from a few weeks of R&R out of town, and ready to launch into September. Am gearing up for my return to Norway for "Stumfilm Dagere", 5 Sessue Hayakawa films at MoMA's retrospective, the launch of the fall season of my Silent Clowns series, a show at Scandinavia House (NYC), and my return to Massillon OH for the "Fall Cinesation". Over 20 shows in all, plus the DVD release of Houdini: The Films by Kino Video.

The show on Sun Aug 5 in Hamilton NY went really well. The Hamilton Theater is the town's original Opera House, built in the 1890s. The theater's orchestra pit (boarded over currently) and dressing rooms etc are still intact. The theater became a movie house several decades back, and was acquired by Colgate College several years ago, and is currently primarily a first-run house with occasional special events. The vintage-looking marquee you see was built and installed last year as a gift from the Colgate class of 1956.

We do a silent film every year in early August, and this year (our 5th!) we had our biggest crowd ever. The program: Sherlock Jr., plus My Wife's Relations and The Goat. All prints were 35mm, and the films went over big time. I was particularly pleased with the way My Wife's went over, a great opening to the program. A local car collector parked two vintage 1920's Ford automobiles in front of the theater. That's theater manager Chuck Fox posing with me at the running board of one of the Fords. The other photo shows the theater staff; at the far right of the group is chief projectionist Henry, who when we started rummaged around the theater and found the lens and plate for silent full aperture for our 2004 show of Seven Chances.
Managed to work in a plug for Capitolfest, held the following weekend in Rome NY -- unbeknownst to me, fest dir Art Pierce and his wife were in the audience! They'd come to Hamilton shows in the past, and it was great to see them again.


The following weekend found me in Manchester VT for a Harold Lloyd program of Grandma's Boy, plus the shorts Number, Please? and Ask Father...all 16mm from my collection. Every August I do a show at this suburban platter-twin, but I bring in my own projectors and my daughter runs them. I also bring in one of my digital pianos for the program, and the theater arranges for a guitar amp. This year I also brought a tray of 35mm repro slides of 1920's movie theater glass slides to run before we started. The show, which started at 12noon before the theater's usual first show of the day, went really well, with quite a few kids in attendance, and the films played nicely.

You'll notice there are two different projectors being used. One is an Elmo and one is an Eiki -- the Eiki has been modified to run at 21.5 fps, a trick I learned from John Stone, who does the Films on the Hill series in Washington DC. The shorts were run on the Eiki, and Number Please? played much better at that speed. Bruce Lawton and I have run this a number of times to slightly iffy response and I'd always wondered if it just needed to be slowed down a hair, and this seemed to work.

Once these two shows were behind me, I was able to unwind and spend time with my family doing nothing. Details for the Norway fest continued to percolate during August, and I'll post again with info on these shows.

Next show -- Buster Keaton's The Cameraman at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington (Long Island). Will bring a short in 16mm from my collection to open for the feature (35mm), either The Goat or The Playhouse.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reel Baseball at the MCNY

Presented and accompanied a program of films from the Kino Reel Baseball DVD set at the Museum of the City of New York this afternoon. We showed The Busher, plus Hearts and Diamonds and Felix Saves the Day. We had a great crowd, biggest one so far in the five years I've been doing silents at the MCNY. Well, maybe biggest crowd was when we showed The Cameraman with Buster Keaton as part of the Silent Clowns' season a year ago. The films played really well, and it was great to hear kids' laughter during the John Bunny short (!).

Have already lined up another date there to do a part 2 show of stuff from Reel Baseball in December. The MCNY has an exhibit about baseball's glory days (1947-57) running currently through December. Am already working on some ideas for 2008 for them. Can't believe this is the fifth year I've been doing silents at the MCNY -- showed It with Clara Bow in April of 2003, and that started it all. Since then we've shown Speedy, an Arbuckle shorts progam (made in NYC), The Early Bird with Johnny Hines, Poor Little Rich Girl, The Cameraman, and Orchids and Ermine with Colleen Moore.

Am getting ready to head out of town for a few weeks of R&R, during which I have a Keaton show (Sherlock Jr + 2 shorts, in 35mm) in Hamilton NY, and a Lloyd show (Grandma's Boy + 2 shorts, in 16mm) in Manchester VT.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Slapsticon days 1 & 2

Have now slid through the first two days of Slapsticon, and am having a blast. Have seen a load of great comedy shorts, and am enjoying the Harry Langdon and Larry Semon entries. Tonight UCLA Film & TV's new restoration of the Semon feature Spuds (1928) was screened (with yours truly at the piano) on the same bill with two othe Semon shorts, Babes and Boobs (yes you read that right) which was very good and looked amazing, and The Grocery Clerk which I'd seen (did I play for it, too?) at the Cinesation last September.

Phil Carli and I are holding up quite well, and have found the formula of "checker-boarding" the shorts accompaniments -- he'll play one, then I'll take the next, etc etc -- to be helpful for both stamina and sanity.

Am having fun seeing people I've not seen since last year and meeting people I only knew via e-mail.

Tomorrow morning at 9am there is a program of cartoons from the 1930s, as usual, and while I'm a little wiped, I plan to make this show. Where else can you see these films in a theatrical setting? That's followed by a program of Roach rarities, which will include the very first Our Gang short. Also on the slate for the day is, in the afternoon are Mabel Normand and Charley Chase programs (which I'll be playing) and in the evening is a Max Davidson program. I'll try to get some photos tomorrow and postum here.

Details for Stumfilm Dagere in Tromsø are coming together, and a number of school shows are being scheduled for me to do along with the regular programs. I have requested a few shorts to be asked for by the fest from the Danish Film Institute, so we're not just showing The Cook at these. Will post the titles of these when I have confirmation of them.

Looking forward to the show of Waxworks on Sunday at the National Gallery. Still haven't looked at the DVD of it I got a month or so ago. I've brought it with me and will probably make myself look at it (maybe on 2x or 4x speed) on my laptop sometime tomorrow, although there's so much good stuff programmed I can't figure out what I'd miss to come back to the hotel and watch it.

* * * * *

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Slapsticon on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi show


Here we all are, kibitzing before going on-air for our segment, which lasted about 25 minutes.

You can listen to our interview right here.

Slapsticon "pre-glow" weds 7/18

Steve Massa and I arrived in DC bright and early, completely missing the big storm in NYC that delayed a number of peoples' flight etc. Here I am outside the LOC building, right near the Capitol bldg, where Steve and I spent the day screening comedy shorts. At left you see the interior of the DC metro. This is not the "F" train in NYC by any means. Steve and I saw a lot of great stuff, including the Arbuckle short Zip, the Dodger, a Billy West short directed by Charles Parrott ("Chase"), a Snub Pollard short that co-starred Sunshine Sammy (his father was in the film as well), a Mr. & Mrs. Sydney Drew comedy called Number One, and several others.

Steve saw way more film than I did, as I had to hop the train to meet Rob Farr and Richard Roberts for a radio interview at WAMU-FM. Seen at left are Mr. Roberts and Mr. Farr, and on right is me and the show's host, Kojo Nnamdi. One of the fun things we did was Richard narrated a fictional silent film while I improvised moods and transitions. I'll post a link to the segment shortly.

Today everything starts, and it's all very exciting. There are a lot more people coming than there have ever been in prior years, plus the radio piece and publicity in the Washington Post will hopefully add to the number of "walk-ins" we usually have.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

on the road to Slapsticon 5

Well, I'm off (via Amtrak) this morning to Arlington, VA for the fifth annual Slapsticon where I'll spend 4 fun-filled glorious days and nights watfching -- and playing for -- classic comedy shorts and features from the '10s, '20s and '30s. I've been one of their accompanists every year since the fest started, along with Philip Carli. It's pig-heaven for a silent comedy fan like myself and this year's line-up of rarities should be pretty exciting.

The fest starts on Thursday, but I'm travelling a day earlier with Steve Massa (silent comedy film historian), because we've set up a day's worth of screening time at the Library of Congress to watch rarities from their collection there. In the middle of the day, I'm going to have to duck out and run over to WAMU, which is D.C.'s NPR affiliate, to appear on the Kojo Nnamdi show. Our segment airs at 12:32pm and will be available later in the day as a podcast. I'll be on with Slapsticon founder Rob Farr and Slapsticon programmer and event coordinator. We're schlepping in a digital keyboard so I can talk and play during the segment.

I plan to post reports on Slapsticon daily here, along with photos (if I can get some), so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Peg O' My Heart (1922) with Laurette Taylor

Played for Peg O' My Heart at MoMA last night, and will play for its repeat on Thursday. Print is MoMA's, acquired from Filmoteca Española, Madrid. Titles were all in English, possibly made by the archive as part of their preservation work, as they looked newer than the film. The film is basically complete, with a number of jumps where I'm assuming footage is missing due to nitrate decomp. Laurette Taylor has a great deal of pancake make-up and has a follow spot on her face at all times, probably to help cover her age (she was 38, playing a teenager).

I played the infamous standard Peg O' My Heart, but just during the opening titles as the feel of the song doesn't match the film at all -- the film is very Irish (can only imagine what John Ford might have done with it, besides giving J. Warren Kerrigan a character part). MoMA's Ron Magliozzi, an expert on film-related sheet music (among other things) confirmed my hunch that the song was not part of the film. Following the stage play in 1912 which was a big hit, the song was written and published in 1913 and introduced in the Ziegfeld Follies; another edition of the sheet music was published in 1922 to promote the film.

Have now booked an additional 9 DW Griffith shows at MoMA concurrent with the Desmet series (July 1-10), making July's performance total a whopping 26.

See you at the silents!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906) - MoMA 6/2

The 6pm show of The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), plus the 1975 Sunday, Too Far Away was introduced by Paolo Cherchi Usai, of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia, the archive that restored these films. Paolo told of the efforts to preserve and find the pieces of the Kelly film, the first narrative feature (or one of the first). While pieces had turned up over the previous decades -- a few minutes here and a few minutes there -- nothing else had popped up until about a year ago. Another few minutes of footage turned up in a garbage can in Melbourne, were turned over to the archive and preserved, and they now had 17 minutes (at 18 fps) of the film. These were shown, with gaps between segments separated by black film. Picture quality of the surviving material was very good. Story was very simple, and footage showed multiple robberies by Ned Kelly and his gang in long single takes. There were a few original titles and some color tints, and the final section showed the capture of Kelly, who was wearing a man-in-the-iron-mask type helmet (also reminded me of Ralph Kramden as the man from Mars). Hopefully more and more pieces of this historic feature will materialize.

Played this one on piano.

Cabiria (1914) - MoMA, June 2

Cabiria, in a new preservation by Cineteca di Bologna, MoMA et al was screened with live theatre organ accompaniment by me. While the running time listed in the catalog was 180 mins, the picture ran closer to 2 hrs 20 mins at our show; same for the press screening I played for (NY Times) on piano the previous week. Am guessing the 3 hr running time is based on projecting the films at 16 fps. We ran it at 21 fps, I believe, which is about what the transfer rate was on the DVD from Kino. Speed looked fine. Major upgrades from what I saw on the Kino disc, which I used to preview the film, were color tints and some additional short pieces of footage which were of poorer quality but filled out gaps in certain shots. Effort was definitely made to make the added footage line up in registration with the footage it was filling out.

Even though the film was from 1914, before the days of theatre organs, I felt that this picture really needed a bigger sound than a solo piano. Crowd reaction to film, and to the organ sound, was enthusiastic.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

news: MoMA to add theatre organ to its silent film accompaniments

Well, it's happened. MoMA purchased all the necxessary hardware - keyboard, stand, organ pedals - for the Miditzer VTO (virtual theatre organ) this week. What this means is that when I am asked to play for a silent film at MoMA and want to use a theatre organ instead of piano...I can. For the last couple of years I've being doing this, but only when there was a 2 or 3 week block of shows, because it would mean my schlepping my own equipment down to MoMA and back. This way the equipment will already be there, and I just need to show up with my laptop.

This Friday and Saturday (today) I accompanied Hitchcock's Blackmail and the Italian 1914 epic Cabiria with the Miditzer, and the response has been fantastic. I'm not saying this to toot my own (post-)horn, but out of excitement that silent film fans in NYC are finally getting to hear a theatre organ for accompaniment on a regular basis, something that ceased in the late 1980s. I hope this helps lead to an interest in bringing a real theatre organ back to NYC and to regular use (like at the Beacon Theater on B'way and 74th).

Tomorrow am playing at the annual street fair in Mamaroneck, where DW Griffith had studios and where I grew up. The town's original 1926 movie theater is in the middle of the fair, and while it was cut up and plattered several years ago, its owners (Clearview Cinemas) give over one of the four screens each year on the day of the fest and I show silent comedy shorts. I got tour of the theater the first year we did this, in 2004, by Joe Masher who was at the time the regional manager for Clearview, and also involved with the Theater Historical Society. The Mamaroneck Playhouse's original orchestra pit, dressing rooms, manager's office et al are still intact.

Only a couple shows this week, and then almost daily from June 10 to 19...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My summer of silents

On June 1st I begin a rather busy two months of silent film accompaniment, both on piano and on theatre organ. 16 dates in June and 13 in July, several of which have two (or three) shows on the same day. Some of these bookings just came in over the past week, and some were solidified (date was already set, but show time and/or film title was confirmed). Plus some more scoring for Kino popped up, for the Houdini DVD set now due out in September. I'd scored Haldane of the Secret Service (1923) for the set on digital orchestra a few months back, and now some extras are being added.

I'll be playing for MoMA's annual film preservation fest in June, a silent each month at the Cinema Arts Center on Long Island, a program of comedy shorts at Mamaroneck's annual street fair (in the town's 1926 movie theater), a pair of films at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's series of recent [theatrical] releases by Kino, a series of 1912-14 films at MoMA in conjunction with their gallery show of Danish film posters from those years, the annual 4-day Slapsticon in Arlington VA, and a show at the Museum of the City of New York of films from the Reel Baseball DVD set.

Check out my performance schedule on my website for details on dates, times and films.

I'm trying best I can to preview the films I have to play for; some are available on video, some are available on screeners from the venue (MoMA), and then Slapsticon is going to be almost all "sight-reading".

Check back for reports, photos and audio clips. See you at the silents!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Safety Last at the Paramount (Peekskill, NY)

Well, last night's show of Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923) was a blast. If you're within driving distance of the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill...go see something there. It's a beautifully restored 1930 Paramount Publix Theater. It originally seated 1500 or thereabout, but several rows had been removed in order to build a performing stage.

This was my second show there; I'd performed in the spring of 2004 -- did two nights, one of Chaplin shorts and another of Keaton's Seven Chances (plus One Week). In '04 they rented an Allen organ for the show; the instrument Allen provided was a nice-looking one but unfortunately was a few decades old and had that "ballpark" sound (their C19, which is a more recent model and has real TPO samples, was in the shop). This time I decided to bring the Miditzer. You can see it in the photo. The Miditzer was a quick set-up (15 mins) as usual and the Paramount's tech/audio crew had the sound level set within a minute or two...fastest audio tech I've had.

Jon Yanofsky and his team there are to be commended for making silent films with live music a part of their programming landscape. They're really dedicated to connecting their audiences with the theater's history as well as offering big-name acts. The place is a real treasure, and a real pleasure to work at.

Cliff Cronin, a silent film fan and stuntman who did a program in December '06 at my Silent Clowns series in NYC on Buster Keaton's stunt work, came to the show. Great to see him again, and hear that he was doing his presentation somewhere in Connecticut this month.

Have gotten videos of Dovzhenko's Earth (MoMA on Fri May 18 at 8:30), Ozu's I Was Born, But... (Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY on Tues May 22 at 7:30) and The Black Pirate (Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY on Tues June 19 at 7:30) out of the library to pre-screen and prep for those shows. Check out my performance sched at my website for a list of the 9 shows I have at MoMA in June during their annual film preservation festival called To Save and Project.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lupino Lane at the Silent Clowns series

Shown here (R) is my Miditzer set-up at the New-York Historical Society from Sunday, May 6 at the Silent Clowns Film Series. I used the organ for the concluding program of the SCFS, a show of Lupino Lane comedy shorts, and it was a big hit. I'll be using it again this Friday at the Paramount in Peekskill, NY - a restored movie palace from 1930. Will also be using it for 5 or 6 shows in June at MoMA. The SCFS program was a lot of fun. Kudos to collectors Eric Grayson and Paul Lisy for prints of some real rarities.

The Reel Baseball DVD continues to sell, and was written up nicely in last week's NY Times DVD picks by Dave Kehr.

Last week I repaired one of the piano benches at MoMA. A couple of bolts had come out and its wobbling was driving me a little nutz. I contacted the mfr of the bench and got the "shoulder bolts" needed. My sacrum and that of Stuart O. will be safe for the preservation fest coming up there in June.

Will try to remember to get pics at the Paramount and postum here. Sorry I've not posted since March. Between April being rather busy work-wise, coupled with my disillusionment that very few people are checking this blog are the culprits. Will try to keep posting for those of you who do visit.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

avante garde films at NYU, my alma mater

Played for a film history (a/k/a "cinema studies") class at NYU, where it all started for me. Teacher was Antonia Lant, and I've played for her class once a year for the last few years. Hadn't played at NYU since '85 or '86, and then Antonia turned up at one of my Silent Clowns shows a few years ago. This year, the program was avante garde silents, as it was last year. A fun bunch of films -- and a nice break after comedies and Christ. Played for The Smiling Madame Beaudet, the first 10 mins of Berlin: Symphony of a City, Paris Qui D'ort and Un Chien Andelous. For the Buñuel I approximated his original score, playing a tango and the "Liebestod" from Tristan und Isolde, alternating between the two when it seemed appropriate (or not, in the spirit of Dada). The students had a lot of great questions and, as usual, none of them had ever heard of a theatre organ. One of them came up to me to introduce himself; he was a transfer from Simon's Rock College, and was the student who spearheaded the movement to have me come up and play for Nosferatu there last fall, but had switched to NYU before I got there. A nice connection.

Will be a guest on the Leonard Lopate radio program on WNYC FM on Friday. This is my 2nd appearance on the program, having been on last March to promote the Arbuckle retrospective at MoMA. This time I'm on, along with Kino's Jessica Rosner, to promote the new Reel Baseball DVD set, which JR produced. [Will post a link to the podcast for this next week.]

Will just have enough time to catch my breath before doing a show Sun April 1 at the Jacob Burns Film Center -- comedy shorts from the Hal Roach studios -- this time with Bruce Lawton
. Should be a fun program. We do one of these for the Burns every year and we always get a great turnout...often selling out before showtime.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

DeMille's "King of Kings", Keaton, and "Pandora's Box"

Photo at the right is the beautiful console of the organ at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, which I had the great fortune to play in accompaniment to DeMille's 1927 epic King of Kings on Fri March 23. The organ is a 4/83 Moller, and was restored in 2000. A magnificent instrument in a glorious space (8-second reverb!). The Paulisten horn stop was reserved for the big earthquake. I enjoyed using the Nave ranks in conjunction or counterpoint to the rest of the ranks -- a nice "3-D" surround effect. We had a big crowd, a couple hundred people, who really enjoyed the film and were really moved by it. There's nothing like running this picture in a church during lenten season with the score played on a big pipe organ for maximum emotional impact.

And where was I two days earlier? At the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY (Long Island) playing for the new 35mm print of G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks. They had a great turnout for this show -- especially for suburban Long Island on a weeknight. A real enthustastic crowd, as it always is at the CAC. Next up is Harold Lloyd's Safety Last on April 17 and then in May we'll do Ozu's I Was Born, But... which I remembered fondly from playing for it at MoMA in 2000.

Today at the Silent Clowns it was Buster Keaton's masterpiece The General. A lot of new faces in the audience, and a bunch of kids we'd not seen before as well as some of our under-12 stalwarts and their parents.

Will be on the radio again this Friday, to help promote Kino Video's Reel Baseball DVD set, and will post a link to the segment after it airs.

Have now figured out a way to make the Miditzer a little more portable. Will be using it for 4 William S. Hart films last weekend of April at AMMI/MOMI (the Museum of the Moving Image) where I have yet another Immigrant show on Friday. Am mulling over whether or not to bring it in to MoMA in 2 weeks when I am slated to play for Jubilo with Will Rogers. It's a Friday night show (which means a mix of cinephiles and "Target Free Fridays" patrons), and might be a nice opportunity give the audience a taste of the theatre organ.

Have also now gotten my marching orders for MoMA's annual film preservation fest To Save and Project. Will be using the Miditzer on several of these (basically the films made 1920 onward), and their Steinway grand for the others. Will be adding these dates to my performance schedule on silentfilmmusic.com later this week.

This Tuesday will find me behind my Yamaha digital keyboard at NYU (my alma mater) playing for a slew of avant garde silents at Antonia Lant's film history class. Thirteen shows in one month. *whew*

Thursday, March 15, 2007

on the radio in Owego

Did a live radio interview on WEBO yesterday morning around 8:15am to promote the Ti-Ahwaga showing of The General on Fri 3/16 (tom'w). The station (1330AM) is a sponsor of the film series, and will be re-running parts of the interview throughout the day or two leading up to the show. Here it is, for your listening pleasure:


Hope to have pics (as well as a report) after the show.

Monday, March 12, 2007

scoring Porter (Edwin S., that is)

Have just recorded three scores for an upcoming DVD release by Kino. The films, all shorts directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Thomas Edison Co., are to be extras for the main feature, a doc on Porter's work. So, here are three more Edison shorts you can add to your collection which are not on the 4-disc set Kino put out a year ago.

Two of the shorts were pretty straightforward, but Porter's Life of a Cowboy was a bit more of a challenge. The film is listed on IMDB as being one reel with a running time of 13 mins, but this edition was perhaps run slower and comes in at a little more than 16 mins. Don't get me wrong...I'm not usually a fan of slowing film down to 14 or 16 fps, but this short -- all long takes and wide shots -- needs it to work and for the action to register. I had to watch the film twice, before diving in, because it was hard to follow (on a TV set). This is one of those cases where the best thing to do to help the audience is to take a good look and see where the drama is occuring in the frame and play to that mood, so the audience will know where to look and will know what the story point is.

I've scanned the four post-its I jotted info down on; the numbers you see refer to timecode superimposed on the image (click on the image at the left to see this full-size). I recorded the film in several pieces, one segment for each filmed segment or shot (there's no intercutting or close or medium shots), much like a series of theatrical tableaus might be (I think these were referred to as "tab" shows during the days of vaudeville). Having the timecode numbers helped me know where to wrap up a piece or create a segue before the segment ended. I really had to watch the film carefully to see who were the good guys and who were the bad guys; there's a group of people who come into the saloon at the beginning who appear to be part of the story but leave after a few minutes and are never seen again. There are no titles (in this print) explaining who everyone is and who they are to each other, so the music and its moods have help telegraph that.

* * * * *

Have now booked another silent in Huntington -- Lloyd's Safety Last -- for April. Now need to get my head and music together for a show of DeMille's King of Kings at the church of St. Paul the Apostle in NYC (near Lincoln Ctr), which I'll accompany on the church's restored 4/82 Moller pipe organ next week.

If you've tried to post here and have been unsuccessful, send me an e-mail via my profile (or use undercrank@gmail.com) so I know and can try to fix this.

Thanks!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Warning Shadows at MoMA, plus Immigrant x3

In the last week I've played three Immigrant shows for school groups at AMMI out in Astoria. Shows went well, and I got a refresher in how to play for this film at 21fps; hadn't played for it there in a while, as I usually request it at 24fps. It depends on who's in the booth. I've done it so many times I've found a way to play for it at the slower speed so it works a little better. The Immigrant, because Charlie (and just about everyone else in the film) is either standing or sitting throughout the film, plays better at 24; this isn't just my taste or being fussy, but my listening to the audience and hearing the laughs and how strong they are or not, 4 or 5 times a month for the last 3 years.

This afternoon (4:30) I played for Schatten (or Warning Shadows) at MoMA. Gorgeous 35mm print, this was the recent restoration. They have really only had one or two silents a month for a while now (I'll be playing for Jubilo with Will Rogers there in April), but this will pick up in May when their annual film preservation fest happens. Schatten was a nice change of pace; German expressionist films often are, and you can really go places musically that you don't usually get to. There are chords, transitions and harmonies you can't get away with in a more straight-ahead type of drama, and so it's fun to be able to use these.

Have been contacted by Kino about more scoring for DVD, a release set for sometime this year. More info when it's all signed off on and recorded. Reel Baseball from Kino comes out in April and has scores by me on Miditzer theatre organ on Felix Saves the Day (cartoon), Happy Days (Weiss Bros. kids short), and 17 mins of the Edison feature One Touch of Nature (1917) and on piano for Hearts and Diamonds with John Bunny, How the Office Boy Saw the Ball Game and Casey at the Bat (both early Edison short shorts).

ReelclassicDVD's second Our Gang disc is ready for release, 5 shorts with Miditzer scores. This should be released sometime next week. I've gotten a copy of the disc and it looks and sounds pretty good.

Have now booked a show for April at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY -- will be doing Lloyd's Safety Last (1923) in 35mm there, after doing Pandora's Box for them on 3/21.

March is a busy month, with about a dozen shows, plus this DVD scoring I have to turn around. Best of all, the Silent Clowns series starts this Sunday. We should have a good crowd. See you there!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Beggar Maid, NYC

Played for The Beggar Maid (1921, dir. H. Blache) this afternoon at the Met. The film preceded a lecture on Tiffany and the Tiffany estate, and the house was packed with museum-goers (plus a bunch of people I recognized from my e-list). The film was shown in a 16mm from Milestone Film & Video; Eastman House has a 35mm print, but the museum (this wasn't MoMA) can currently show only 16mm and video.

I had a chance to preview the film ahead of time, which was nice. I decided on a Debussy-ish, 1920's parlor music sound -- and this was one of those times when improvisation and the flexibility it allows you, came into play. As I started and as the film progressed I felt this "feel" was a bit too much. This came from sensing the vibe in the room and the way the audience was experiencing the film. I pulled back a little, and then gradually dialed it back up till the flava was just right. The audience was having a little more fun with the picture than I'd anticipated, and I was able to shift and adapt for their maximum enjoyment of this rare classic.


[This recording and music is copyright ©2007 by Ben Model. All rights reserved. This is for your listening enjoyment. Period.]

Played for Keaton's Our Hospitality at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY. Had a great house, and the film went over big-time. Pretty impressive for suburban Long Island on a Weds eve, but this theater has had a history of showing silents. I'll be back there in March for Pandora's Box (the new 35mm print!), and hopefully in April as well.

I've got two Immigrant shows at AMMI this week. There haven't been any since mid-Dec, but I suspect this will pick up now that schools are resuming field trips. Am also finishing up a DVD release for ReelclassicDVD, and will post again when it's released.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"The Phantom Carriage" - Burns Film Center

Pleasantville NY, Feb 19 (Mon) -- Played for Victor Sjöstrom's Korkarlen (Thy Soul Shal Bear Witness, or The Phantom Carriage) this afternoon in Pleasantville, NY. The Jacob Burns Film Center is running the 50 years of Janus Films series that is touring the country, and this is the only silent film in the package. I've been playing for silents at the Burns Center since it opened four or five years ago. The center is the town's original movie theater, rescued and refurbished by Steve Apkon. I'll be back on April Fool's Day with Bruce (Lawton) for a program of Hal Roach shorts.

Really enjoyed playing for this film; it's moody and expressive, and a welcome break from comedy shorts. Got to use a lot of musical vocabulary, chord progressions and moods I don't usually get to. They had a really good crowd...around 100 people or so. Not bad for a Monday at 5pm on Presidents weekend in Westchester. Have posted some of the music below.


[This recording and music is copyright ©2007 by Ben Model. All rights reserved. This is for your listening enjoyment. Period.]

Had not previewed the film, but I've played for it recently -- I forget where, probably MoMA, and I'd played for it in 2003 when the Swedish Film Institute's Sjöstrom retrospective ran at MoMA. Now, to take a look at Keaton's Our Hospitality, which I'm playing for in two days on Long Island...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Squaw Man shows; Chaplin orchestral performance

[FYI...I have now fixed the setting on this blog that allows you to post comments so that it works now.]

Played for DeMille's The Squaw Man (1914) twice last week, and brought my MD recorder to the second show to make a reference recording. We ran the film at 20fps both times. What was interesting to me was that, even though the film seemed a bit fast at 20, it seemed all right the second time through. Often, even if a film is available on video (or 16mm) for a look-see before a show, there just isn't time to do this. The score that gets created during the show is usually just fine or better; the audience response at the end of the first performance surprised me as I thought it hadn't gone all that well...mainly because of the challenges of playing (nearly cold) for a pre-1919 feature-length drama.

Most feature-length dramas, Griffith's work aside, are stagey and gesticular, with expository titles telegraphing the dramatic action of the scene and a certain amount of lip-reading skills necessary to follow what's going on. In these cases, I've learned to watch the screen more closely than usual -- meaning that I have to watch faces and constantly look around to see "who's got the ball" and shift the music based on this, since there is little cutting or medium-shots to make it clear. The second show of Squaw Man availed me the chance to anticipate more, and I was able to do more with tempo shifts and chord progressions and transitions -- one of Lee Erwin's main techniques -- to follow the drama.

Below is a clip of the first 3.5 mins of the performance. You won't be able to tell what's going on necessarily, but I thought you'd like to hear samples of my playing "hot off the press" as it were.

[Note: the music and recording posted below is © 2007 by Ben Model - all rights reserved. The recording of these live scores at the shows is not allowed, but I gave myself special permission.]



Got a chance to hear a courtesy recording of the performance of my orchestral score for Charlie Chaplin's The Adventurer, from Feb 1 in Boise, ID. The kids in the Treasure Valley Youth Symphony (mostly all-state or all-county musicians) did a great job, as did their conductor Dr. David Saunders. He's got the hardest job, staying in synch with the film. It was great to hear the new stuff I added to the score; I'd had to revise it as the original composition was to a 15-minute version of the film, as commissioned by the New York Ragtime Orchestra (Masanobu Ikemiya, conductor).

Coming up next is a show of Keaton's Our Hospitality in Huntington NY (on Long Island). This second show at the Cinema Arts Centre is turning into a series, as they've just asked me about a date/film for March. Stay tuned or just keep checking my performance schedule at my silent film website. Will also be playing for The Beggar Maid (dir Herbert Blaché, starring Mary Astor) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of their Tiffany exhibit. I'll try to make sure my MD recorder is charged and in my bag when I do these shows and you can hear clips from them in a couple weeks.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Arbuckle, L&H and Stooges...at MoMA


Presented a program of comedy shorts at MoMA Sat Feb 3 that featured slapstick teams. We showed Fatty and Mabel Adrift, Big Business and Idle Roomers (Three Stooges, dir. Del Lord). This was #2 of the 3 "Watch This! Films for Tweens" programs I programmed and introduced, working with MoMA's Liz Margulies of their Ford Family Programs dept. Program was held in the new Bartos Theater; as before, I brought my Kurz keyboard (still no piano in that cinema). Ran it through the house stereo sound system...sounded great. Can't wait to try the Miditzer in that theater. Program went well. Was especially entertained by the reaction of both kids and adults to the Stooges short. All 3 films went over really well. MoMA's 35mm of BB is fantastic, and I got a kick out of showing these to kids on a Sat afternoon, the way collectors I knew when I was growing up did for me. Was particularly tickled that MoMA has a Stooges short in its collection (actually there are two (both 16mm's), but I picked the one dir by Del Lord over the one dir by Jules White).

Next up is DeMille's The Squaw Man (1914) at MoMA, twice this week. Am considering figuring out a way to make this a video blog; not sure if I can be bothered with the time/effort to do this, esp if no one's actually checking this blog....

Monday, January 22, 2007

Radio City Music Hall concert Jan 16

I attended a theatre organ concert at Radio City Music Hall last Tuesday. This was the third time that NYTOS (the New York Theatre Organ Society) had held this annual event. I had gone the first year, then missed it in '06 because I had a show, and was really looking forward to coming this year. It's a real special, unique, NYC event...sitting dead center in RCMH with just the houselights and the stage worklights on and just a couple hundred people in that immense, grand theater, hearing that Wurlitzer in a private concert. Saw a couple theatre organ folk I knew. There were two organists performing, both of whom are staff organists at Radio City. The first one's program left a lot to be desired; the selections and arrangements were not all that varied, and the arrangements - as far as employing the various ranks of the instrument - were rather similar and merry-go-round sounding. The second performer clearly knew just how to put on a theatre organ concert. Really woke us up with a fanfare-y opening, and a nicely varied program of tunes, and has some great arrangements that utilized various combinations of sounds or soloed ranks to give expression and mood to the pieces. I'm not big fan of the 'showstopper toe-tapper' theatre organ concert program, but this was enjoyable and effective without being show-offy.

I've never been interested in performing "with the lights on" (meaning without a film being the main audience focus) but am now mulling over creating a program of original arrangements of concert pieces. Am mostly interested in playing stuff not usually associated with a theatre organ concert but which would still be effective and also appealing to a new audience, i.e. themes from film scores by Chaplin or Bernard Herrman or Nino Rota, be-bop era standards like Round Midnight or Green Dolphin Street...that sort of thing. So many theatre organ concerts have the same 1930s/1940s or B'way standards you can't tell them apart -- the songs That's Entertainment, Another Opening, Comedy Tonight and Hooray For Hollywood seem to be many performing organist's favorites...

Have heard now from Kino that the baseball DVD will be out in April, and that the Houdini set will probably be out in July. The Unknown Video release of What Happened To Rosa should be announceable in the next couple of months. Plus a couple of other things in the wind I'll post about when they're solidified.

Have done two great programs at MoMA, part of the Ford Family Programs, and introduced silents to a whole bunch of kids (and also handed out Silent Clowns flyers to them). next one is Feb 3rd at MoMA. Am also playing for DeMille's The Squaw Man at MoMA on Feb 5 and 7. Haven't decided if I want to bring in the Miditzer for that or not yet.

Stay tuned...