Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rob Zuckerman, Photography Exhibit at the Betsy Hotel

Robert Zuckerman, photographer and Christine Michaels, blogger

Last Sunday was a dual celebration. The exhibit of famed celebrity photographer Rob Zuckerman, and the appearance of two cast members from Charlie's Angels at the Betsy Ross Hotel in South Beach.  Which one won most attention? The exhibit! The photos that hung in the lobby, the downstairs bar/lounge and in the guestroom corridor pulled you in and one is mesmerized, addicted, reading.

The black and white photos were my favorite. Why is it they seem to tell a deeper story than a photo in color? The shades of black and grey and shadows of light all tell the story. Photographers amaze me. Robert Zuckerman has spent 20 years photographing Hollywood celebrities on film sets. His interest in his subjects later included average people.

According to Lydia Martin, Miami Herald:
Whether he’s training his lens on megawatt movie stars or taking impromptu shots of regular folks he encounters on elevators and street corners, in car rental joints and hotel corridors, photographer Robert Zuckerman is after the same thing: that fleeting, unguarded moment when the camera disappears, artifice drops and subject and shooter really start talking.
The one photo that captured this caption and also my favorite was a black and white of Morgan Freeman. Quiet, pensive, a million miles away. What occupies is mind?

Zuckerman’s presence behind the lens won’t be denied in the low-light portrait of Will Smith, caught in a wistful, weary moment at the end of a gray day spent shooting a new album cover.

So how does he do it? Is it practice perfected? Is it Science?

Zuckerman learned early on that a mild-mannered style always trumps an in-your-face stance when you’re trying to get people to drop their guard in front of a contraption that can come across as obtrusive, impolite, even thieving. That low-key approach is critical for a photographer who values emotional content above anything else he might be able to capture with his cameras.

“I think with anything you do, the intention you put behind it resonates in the results. It’s not something you can easily put into words, or teach to someone else, but if you have the intention of finding a glimpse of someone’s true character, that somehow comes through. It’s like magic. Or alchemy. It’s about a connection you can make, even for a moment, with another human being.” [Miami Herald, August 22, 2011]

How does a photographer capture that look, that mystery, the essence? I have to agree, it's alchemy.  Probably a little practice too. His subjects are treated the same, both celebrities and average Joes.

Robert Zuckerman's series Hindsight is on exhibition throughout the Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive--the colonial building at the end of a row of Art Deco Hotels.

Downstairs lounge Betsy Hotel

Christine sits and drinks champagne on velvet sofa in downstairs lounge

When asked which celebrity was surpisingly cooperative and which was difficult, Zuckerman actually names names! Read the complete article in the Miami Herald.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The new Charlie's Angels--Will it Kick Ass?

The third incarnation of the 70's hit series,  Charlie's Angels is filming in Miami and fills me with ambivalence. Excitement is from the $4 million per episode budget which pumps funds into our dire economy. Nervous? My stomach is aflutter! As a fan of both the original series and the film adaptation, I wonder will it flop or raise the bar for female action heroines? Any remake is a high-stakes game.

In doing some research I learned producers opted to film in Miami instead of Los Angeles, signaling a number of changes to come.  The Angels, ironically, are former con artists, and the premise is "realistic" and "friendship". The goal is to broaden their characters and reportedly, while the Angels will be stylish, there will be less "flesh". It's more than sex appeal. According to Executive producer, Al Gough in speaking to television reporters:
“We wanted to make this more grounded, make these women feel real, to give them a past. We wanted audiences to have something to come back to each week. The show is about redemption and second chances”

So far so good. The girls are an ethnic trio (representative of Miami's diversity and criminal element), perform many of their stunts, and face real life incidents and stories.  So I'm thinking it's part ALIAS (former ABC series starring Jennifer Garner where she performed her own stunts) part....? Hmm have to give this more thought.  What do you think?

The actresses are relatively unknown.  “Grey's Anatomy” actress Rachael Taylor (the brunette), Minka Kelly (blonde) of “Friday Night Lights” and Annie Ilonzeh, last seen on “General Hospital,” will take on the roles first made famous by Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson. Instantly I thought of the late Farrah and how the role propelled her to international sex symbol. Remember that iconic poster? Find out where it is now. Farrah went beyond and fought for roles with characters of depth.

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to meet the cast at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach. Again I had mixed emotions. Heart throb, Ramon Rodriguez plays Bosley. He's only 31! Yes he's the actor from the movie Transformers about a teenager who befriends giant toy-looking robots vs. the bad guys--another gang of robots. As the "manager" and go-between for Charlie and the Angels, shouldn't he be older than the girls? More mature?  The trailers confirmed it. "Bosley, adult swim is over" says Minka Kelley, the blonde angel, to Rodriguez who's sandwiched between two gorgeous bombshells in the swimming pool. Well, he's suave-looking and Latino--very Miami. I'll get past my hangups.

The other big question: Who will be the voice of Charlie? At first Robert Wagner was signed on. However, recent reports indicate Wagner was dropped due to "scheduling issues". The program makers have kept a tight lid on the voice of a new Charlie, someone whose voice has the sufficient “mystery, paternalism and authority.”

Unfortunately with the swarm of people around the cast this past Sunday, it was impossible to get a photo with the stars without performing my own daredevil stunt to distract the throng and land beside Rachel Taylor like Spiderman. I should probably say Cat Woman, given my local "fame".

Regardless, I'm looking forward to the new series and secretly hope one Angel is part geek like the character played by Cameron Diaz in the movie version to show beauty on the outside and the inner nerd in all of us.

Charlie's Angels is set to premiere on September 22 at 8pm on ABC.

Iconic Farrah Fawcett Poster

For all the baby boomers and Generation Xers like me, you remember the most coveted poster from 1976!  The red swimsuit that helped make "Charlie's Angels" actress Farrah Fawcett a 1970s icon is now displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

Fawcett's longtime companion Ryan O'Neal donated the swimsuit and other items to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in January of this year. A 1976 poster of Fawcett in the dampened one-piece swimsuit sold 12 million copies--the highest selling poster in history.

Did you know that Farrah Fawcett never wore a bikini? Why? Watch the video to learn the answer.

The poster was produced first and sales skyrocketed once Farrah appeared on the debut of Charlie's Angels in September 1976.  According to Wikipedia,  she received more in royalties from the sale of her poster than she earned from her salary at Charlie's Angels.

In a 1977 interview with TV Guide, Fawcett said: "When the show was number three, I thought it was our acting. When we got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra".[ [wikipedia]

Ok men, did you have the poster in your locker or bedroom? What was the appeal? I thought it was her golden lockes and smile.

Farrah was more than beautiful. She was intelligent and a talented actress proven by serious roles she later took on. In 1983, Fawcett won critical acclaim for her role in the Off-Broadway stage production of the controversial play Extremities.  Replacing Susan Sarandon, she was a would-be rape victim who turns the tables on her attacker.

The following year, her role as a battered wife in the fact-based television movie The Burning Bed earned her the first of her four Emmy Award nominations. The project is noted as being the first television movie to provide a nationwide 800 number that offered help for victims in life threatening situations, in this case victims of domestic abuse. It was the highest-rated television movie of the season.

Farrah was also courageous when opening up about her battle with cancer to the public through a documentary. She died in 2009 of anal cancer at the age of 62.