Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)
If you’ve ever wondered why tickets to Broadway musicals are so expensive, then New York tour guide Laurent Nahon has the answer:
Laurent Nahon (Standard American accent)
Why are musicals so expensive to produce? And it’s one of the biggest issues for the producer, those who make the musical happen on Broadway, to produce a show at a cost-effective rate, that can also bring in an audience, that the audience can actually afford to come and see the show. When we go to see a musical on Broadway, we see maybe 25 or 30 people on the stage. What we don’t realise is that it takes over 100 people in the building in order to make that musical happen, every single performance. There’s more than 70 people behind the scenes, from the ushers to the costume people, the people that work with the wardrobe, the people that deal with the lights, the sound engineers, the stage managers, there’s so many people that it takes to run a Broadway musical and all those people have to be paid, and the writer has to be paid to write the piece, the composer, in this case, of the musical, the choreographer, all of their assistants have to be paid, we have a director. And then, because it’s a musical and it tells a very big story, normally, and it tells it on a very grand scale, like an opera, right? There’s very big sets and they all have to be moved and they all have to be fixed and repainted all the time. So there’s a lot of upkeep to keep a Broadway musical going. (Laurent Nahon was talking to Lorenza Cerbini. For more information about his tours, go to: www.laurenttours.com)
Scarlett Johansson (Standard American accent)
Lucy is just a… in my mind she’s just a girl who is living in Taipei, maybe doing a little bit of modelling or kind of odd jobs here and there, she’s a student. And she’s been away from home for six months, and she’s just kind of in a transient phase in her life when we find her, and she’s kind of figuring out who she is, and she’s feeling a little bit like she should probably get her life on track, and it’s kind of all we know about her when we find her.
Morgan Freeman (Mild African American accent)
I’m a professor of neurology, lecturing at the Sorbonne. I have been, for a number of years, doing hypotheses about what would happen if you could get access to a larger portion of your brain, say 20 per cent even. Right now it’s fairly well accepted that we only use about 10 per cent of the brain’s capacity.
THE GLASGOW SUBWAY CHALLENGE
Back in 2005 a student from Glasgow University came up with a new challenge: to race the Glasgow Subway by bike through the city centre. The subway journey between Buchanan Street and St Enoch stations takes around 55 seconds. The student took the subway, got off at Buchanan Street, cycled like the wind to St Enoch station and jumped back on the same train!
John Young (Standard British accent)
A recommendation, not for one book only, but for three books, a trilogy by Willa Cather. She’s an author who was born in 1873, and belongs to a generation before that of the more famous modernist names like Scott Fitzgerald and William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, and she has fallen, as a result, partly of their fame, slightly into a… into a sort of forgotten corner of American literature, but she is much loved for these three books, which are O Pioneers, The Song of the Lark and My Antonia (he pronounces it one way – ed), which is what most people call it, although in fact it should be pronounced “My Antonia” (he pronounces it another way – ed), which is very difficult to do, but it’s the Czech pronunciation of the immigrant family who call the titular heroine “An… Antonia” – I find it very hard to bring it out as well! The three books are about pioneer families in Nebraska. Willa Cather was originally from Virginia but her family moved when she was very young to Nebraska, and she writes of ordinary people, ordinary families growing up as first generation immigrants in the new American West, in Nebraska. And she has a truth, a human truth, and an honesty about the stories, a wisdom, I think, in her view of why people love, hate, get together, drift apart, which is extremely moving. She’s a writer that has very few frills, which means that she’s easier for the foreign student to read because she doesn’t present you with great obstacles of style or narrative devices that are hard to fathom, and at the same time she’s immensely rewarding, I think, simply on the… on the level of her gentle observant honesty. I find her a very moving writer and I can’t really recommend her too highly.
(John Young was talking to Mark Worden)
Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)
This year marks the 90th anniversary of MGM, or Metro-Goldwyn- Meyer. To celebrate the event the company is releasing the Blu-Ray version of one of its greatest movies: Rocky. The film first came out in 1976 and starred a then unknown actor called Sylvester Stallone. Stallone also wrote the screenplay, even if the film was directed by John Avildsen. 38 years later, Stallone looks back:
Sylvester Stallone (Standard American accent)
I guess I was just born to play this character. I love it and I miss it very, very much. It was just one of those moments where I couldn’t wait to get to work and face the challenge, and it was no special effects, it was just get in there and winging it and trying to conjure up the emotions, and John Avildsen did an amazing job on the first one, he (was) just really honing that with no money, (it was) done in 25 days, $875,000, with an unknown. That’s a long shot!
So far there have been five Rocky movies, but few people would have predicted that back in 1976:
Doing Rocky with an unknown at that time, when you had 25 celebrities lined up to do it, and to take a leap of faith with, as I said, an unknown, and have the film end up winning the Oscar that year, that’s a kind of spirit that you don’t find any more. This is a real gamble, this is what you call “flying by the seat of your pants,” or the old “gut instinct,” which MGM had in spades.
Stallone recently appeared in another boxing movie, The Grudge Match, which also starred Robert De Niro, but the last Rocky was made in 1990. Does Stallone think that a Rocky movie could work today?
I believe that, with the right actor, if you made Rocky today, it very well could work because it’s a universal story that’s timeless, and people don’t change: their clothes do, but we don’t!
MGM AT 90
Rocky has been restored in 4k (4,000 pixels) resolution. The restored version was released on February 27th, and is the first of a series of re-releases of films from the MGM catalogue, as part of the company’s 90th anniversary celebrations. Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer was officially founded on April 17th, 1924, and the anniversary is also being honoured with a special trailer that features the greatest moments from its movies (to see it, go to: http://youtu.be/AybnnAQH-Wc). The Blu-ray version of Rocky (which is available from retailers at €12.99) features more than three hours of special contents, including 8mm Home Movies of Rocky, with a commentary by director John Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman. It was made by Avildsen while Rocky was being shot in Philadelphia.