Can you help me become famous?

May 24, 2007 10:25 UTC

A young man in a black suit pokes his head around the corner of our little office at the Cannes film festival and asks whether I can help. Im an actor, he says. Im not well known at all. No-ones ever heard of me. Can you help me become famous?

He explains he is sleeping on the beach and bluffing his way into receptions by dressing like a security guard. Ill do anything, he says.

I never discover his name but he embodies a phenomenon that is almost as integral to the Cannes film festival as the red carpet and the stars, namely the desperate struggle of the unknowns.

If you don’t have a pass for screenings or press and promotional events it needs cunning and determination even to get in the door and enter a different realm from the tourists who crowd around the entrance to the main festival hall with signs asking for spare invitations.

More than one independent film maker sits on the Croisette busking his unfinanced projects while passers-by take pictures with their mobile phones. It seems hard to believe they have much luck.

What is it with Dakotas?

May 23, 2007 19:33 UTC

Just a thought, but are dark forces at work in Hollywood to ensure young girls cast in major roles in blockbuster productions have to be called Dakota? Judging by the length of her career summary on the imdb movie Web site, Dakota Fanning is a film veteran at the tender age of 13. Then along comes Dakota Blue Richards, who at the same age has just landed her big screen debut with the central role of Lyra Belacqua in “The Golden Compass”, a $180 million adaptation of the first book in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. She was selected from around 10,000 young British girls who auditioned for the part.

As I watched the latter Dakota take questions from reporters in Cannes at a roundtable discussion to promote the film, I found myself pondering whether I would want my child going into movies. Sure, the money is good, but do the long days on set and the attention and fame mean that growing up into a balanced adult is more difficult? Any thoughts, readers?

The movie business has plenty of stories of kids who grow up too fast, or never grow up at all. Then again, the majority actually end up reasonably balanced individuals. And not that there was any suggestion that Richards was heading for trouble. She impressed us all with her composure and honesty. Unlike some supposedly more grown-up stars hiding behind dark glasses and looking bored, she looked straight at her questioners, smiled and spoke of wanting to be a part-time actress while finding time for a “real job”. When asked a question a second time, she politely answered it again. But after spending six months away from school during filming, having a private tutor to teach her and approaching a time when she could become a widely recognised face, she may be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed.

Osage tribe keeps culture alive by dancing

May 23, 2007 17:07 UTC

Kathryn Red Corn.jpgDancing is ”the glue that holds (the tribe) together, said Kathryn Red Corn (pictured left), director of the Osage Tribal Museum here. 

Starting the first weekend of June, the Osage will hold a series of tribal dancing ceremonies called the In-lon-shka (the first n is virtually silent). 

Three villages in the county Pawhuska, Hominy and Fairfax take it in turns to host four days of dancing , where members of the tribe camp out and dance twice daily. Julia Lookout.jpg

Osage American Indian tribe gives full democracy a try

May 23, 2007 16:46 UTC

Hepsi-Barnett.jpgA century after the land on the Osage American Indian reservation was divided up among tribal members, this nation is trying something new: full democracy.

As of March 11, 2006, when the new Osage constitution was ratified, the nation became a fully participatory democracy.

Prior to that, the decision-making process for this nation of some 16,000 was controlled by the holders of the 2,229 plots of land that have made up the Osage reservation in northern Oklahoma since 1907 the Osage call these individual land allotments shares.

Birthday milestone, Tulsa-style

May 22, 2007 22:23 UTC

Birthday3.JPGReuters Correspondent and Route 66 Team member James Kelleher, left, turned 44 years old on Monday, the day the team drove from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. He was in a funk about the milestone the whole day.
To cheer him up, they joined the team’s hosts in Tulsa, Phil and Miranda, spent Monday night at two of the city’s hotspots: McNellie’s and the Soundpony, a tavern conveniently located alongside Cain’s Ballroom, a landmark musical venue in Tulsa.
When the Soundpony’s bartender, right, learned James Birthday2.jpgwas celebrating a birthday (and after he corroborated the claim by scrutinizing James’ Illinois licence), he made James what he claimed was a traditional Soundpony birthday libation: blueberry liqueur served in a hollowed out hotdog.
After donning the protective Soundpony hotdog headgear, James threw back one half of the hollowed-out hotdog. Nick was recording the whole event for posterity, so an anonymous fellow Soundpony patron stepped up to the plate and downed the other half. Both men then ate their hotdogs. 
James lived to blog another day, though he did wake up with what he claimed was a hotdog-induced headache. The anonymous patron, who did not have the benefit of the protective headgear, was not heard from again.
All photos taken in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 21, 2007.

Snapshots from Oklahoma City to Tulsa

May 22, 2007 21:40 UTC

SNAPSHOT.jpgAs we travel through America along the path of old Route 66, theres a lot we see that we dont have time to write about. We thought we could at least share some of what stands out, impresses or amuses us on our journey, so readers can see more than just the blogs we write at the end of each days traveling. Here’s a small selection of shots from our trip from Oklahoma City to Tulsa.

Clockwise from upper left, Bricktown is a revitalized neighborhood of restaurants and bars in downtown Oklahoma City; Hastan Blackshear, 62, has worked at a parking lot in Bricktown for 11 years and witnessed the neighborhoods transformation; the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is run by the National Park Service and David Albert, a 27-year-old from Rhode Island, is one of the employees; Cains Ballroom is a venerable and storied musical venue in Tulsa. First opened in 1924, it has had everyone from Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys to Asleep at the Wheel to the Sex Pistols appear on its stage. Brad Harris, the ballrooms production manager, gave us a late night tour of the place; mementos attached to a fence outside the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, located on the former site Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The April 19, 1995 bomb attack on the building, which killed 168 people, including 19 children, remains one of the worst attacks on U.S. soil; A Tulsa home that our hosts in the city, Phil and Miranda, told us had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Second half, clockwise from left: Joel and Alfredo enjoying a break outside the Bricktown restaurant where they work;  Betsy McLaughlin and Michael Moser were our lunch servers at the Bricktown Brewery. The place is proud of its ribs, but Betsy and Michael steered us toward the chicken pot pie and the chicken fried steak. We werent disappointed. James had the brewerys red brick ale with his meal; A shot of one end of the outdoor memorial, a haunting tribute to the victims that draws 300,000 visitors a year, according to the National Park service; A public art project in downtown Oklahoma City that celebrates the buffalo, which once roamed wild here; Tulsa is considered one of Oklahoma’s more progressive and liberal places. But its still in the Bible Belt.

Oklahoma Baptist leader confident of victory in latest abortion battle

May 22, 2007 15:09 UTC

Jordan.JPGAlmost ever since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down many individual state laws restricting abortion in 1973, in the Roe v. Wade case, Anthony Jordan says he has been fighting to have abortion on-demand overturned because it goes against his religious beliefs.

Now he says the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma – of which he is the leader – is close to scoring a major victory in that battle with a bill passed in the Oklahoma Senate last week that would restrict state funding for abortions.

Im confident that even if (Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry) vetoes this legislation that we have enough votes in the Senate to override it, Jordan said (pictured left). Listen to his expectation for the legislation here

Moore Baptists say Christian voices still not loud enough in U.S. politics

May 22, 2007 14:55 UTC

Clarkson5.jpgMuch has been made of the fact that one of President George W. Bushs core constituencies in his election in 2000 and re-election in 2004 was the countrys Christian conservatives.

This group is seen as a key group for Republicans running for office in many states, particularly in the southern United States. And any potential Republican presidential nominee is expected to have to woo the Christian Right ahead of the U.S. presidential elections in 2008.

But members of the congregation here at the enormous First Baptist Church in Moore say that they feel Christian conservatives have been excluded too much from national debates on key issues such as abortion and gay rights and encroaching secularism in American society.

Hollywood vs world movies

May 22, 2007 11:54 UTC

    One great thing about the Cannes film festival is watching films made around the world.
 French humorists Omar and Fred at Cannes
    Later this week, Cannes rolls out the red carpet for Hollywood flick, “Ocean’s Thirteen.” The movie, about a group of con artists robbing a Las Vegas casino, is fast-paced, features expensive sets and has global stars like Brad Pitt and George Clooney. There is little doubt it will do huge numbers at box offices, but does that make it good?
    Here at Cannes, Mexico’s “Stellet Licht” is exactly the opposite of “Ocean’s” with a slow tale of a Mennonite farmer in an adulterous affair, and it relies on few words to evoke complicated emotions. French musical “Les Chansons d’Amour” tells of a young man whose menage a trois ends disastrously but causes him to grow as a man.
    It is unlikely “Stellet Licht” or “Chansons d’Amour” will reach theaters in many other countries. If they do, it is just as unlikely they will play outside small, arthouse cinemas. Their box office figures will pale next to “Ocean’s.” But does the fact few people see them make them bad movies?
    In 2006, all of the top 20 films were released by a major Hollywood studio. But was “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” which was 2006′s No. 1 box office draw with more than $1 billion in global ticket sales, good? Most critics did not think so. Some fans did; others did not.
    Moviegoing is subjective. What one person likes, their best friend may hate. Not all box office hits are good. Not all small, arthouse films are bad. The opposite is just as true.
    So, this week when the third “Pirates” film opens in theaters, think for a moment. Even though your best friend may be going, do you want to? There may be some foreign language flick playing down the street that has no queue outside, and it may be far more thought-provoking and entertaining. Or, maybe not. That would be up to you to decide.

Mulling the presidential candidates at Oklahoma Church

May 22, 2007 00:34 UTC

Its still almost a year and a half to the next U.S. presidential election in November 2008, but the campaigning has already been going on for months.

The field of Republicans and Democrats seeking their partys nomination is broad, but Christian conservatives at the First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma, say so far few of the potential nominees have impressed them.

This is a heavily Republican state, so the names mentioned most as potential candidates among the congregation here were Repulicans.