Based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Davina and the Vagabonds claim as influences Fats Domino, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits. While they bill themselves primarily as a blues band, their music can also sound a little bit New Orleans, a little bit Memphis and a little bit gospel. Davina and the Vagabonds will play shows in Champaign Tuesday and Wednesday, and they’ll play for us live on the Tuesday edition of Live and Local.
Host Jim Meadows talks with journalist and author Mark Pendergrast about his book, now out in paperback, “For God, Country and Coca-Cola.” Pendergrast tells us about the now famous soft drink that started as an obscure patent medicine created by a small family owned business.
In his book, Pendergrast shares the guarded secret recipe for the cola…. We’ll hear about what ingredients comprise America’s beloved soft drink and if it’s true that Coke contained cocaine in the early 1900s.
America’s foremost humorist and social pundit, Garrison Keillor takes his skits and monologues across the country in his popular radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. American Masters trails this yarn-smith and his crew of actors and musicians as they spin stories and song into American gold in Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes.
Through the course of a year, an intimate lens captures Keillor on- and off- stage as he mingles fact and fiction to create America’s collective hometown, Lake Wobegon, on a radio program that carries bona-fide nostalgia. The result is a fascinating inside look at the enigmatic raconteur and how the imaginary world he created became a real place in America.
“It’s a home run” has become an expression many Americans use every day to describe success, even outside the world of baseball. But, have you ever wondered why? Guest host Jeff Bossert talks with Eldon Ham about America’s obsession with the home run and what sparked the development of the long ball in baseball. Ham tells us about how the home run became a fixture in the MLB by accident, and we’ll remember Babe Ruth’s historic sixty-homer season in 1927.
With several big hitters in the MLB being accused recently of more steroid use, we’ll also talk with Ham about how the homerun is connected to what he argues is an “inevitable” era of professional doping.
Join hosts Moira Brooker and Philip Bretherton (Judith and Alastair on As Time Goes By) as they take you inside the hearts and minds of the writers, producers and actors who have brought you many of your favorite British comedies. If you’ve ever wondered how the British comedies you enjoy on your public television station go from “script to screen,” this program is truly a “must see.” Featuring cast and creators from Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder, Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine, As Time Goes By, Good Neighbors, Are You Being Served? and Mulberry, BEHIND THE BRITCOM: SCRIPT TO SCREEN airs on WILL-TV Saturday, June 8, at 9 pm.
British situation comedies (or “Britcoms” as they are fondly known by fans) usually have one major difference from their American counterparts. While most American sitcoms have a group of writers that may change significantly over time, most Britcoms, on the other hand, have only one or two writers who almost always stay with the series throughout its existence. The continuity of the writers is much appreciated by British actors and nearly all of them will tell you that much of their own success is owed to having had the good fortune to work with some very talented writers. So after years of talking with Britcom actors, the producers of PBS specials decided it was high time public television viewers got to meet some of the creative men and women behind the scenes.
Viewers will discover that the way each writer approaches his or her work is as individual as the writers themselves. Writer Roy Clark (Keeping Up Appearances and Last of the Summer Wine among others), limits his involvement strictly to creating the script which, once delivered, is left in the hands of the producers, directors and actors. It would be a rare thing for Roy to attend either a casting session or a rehearsal. Bob Larbey (As Time Goes By and Mulberry), shares Roy’s feelings, but does like to become involved in casting and rehearsals. And then there’s Richard Curtis, writer of The Vicar of Dibley and Blackadder, who is involved in almost every step of the process: writing, producing, casting, and directing. Both Richard and his Vicar of Dibley star Dawn French talk about how this sort of involvement can be both a blessing and a curse!
Apart from learning more about the process, viewers will hear some fascinating behind-the-scenes stories. Roy Clark, the “marathon man” of Britcom writers, reveals the source of his inspiration to write a comedy series about three elderly pensioners — a gig he’s had for more than thirty years! And although Mulberry was cancelled by the BBC before Bob Larbey had the satisfaction of bringing it to a proper conclusion, he tells viewers how he would have written that final episode. Then there’s the lucky bit of chance that made the final episode of Blackadder one of those great moments in television history.
And, of course, BEHIND THE BRITCOM has interviews with many of the actors most fancied by public television viewers: Judi Dench, Geoffrey Palmer, Moira Brooker, Philip Bretherton, and Jenny Funnell from As Time Goes By; Dawn French, James Fleet, Trevor Peacock, and Roger Lloyd Pack from Vicar of Dibley; Clive Swift and Josephine Tewson from Keeping Up Appearances; and Penelope Keith and Richard Briers from The Good Life.
To add a bit of seasoning, a few British producers and directors are also thrown into the mix. Director John Howard Davies had a hand in several favorites like Fawlty Towers and The Good Life, among many others. Harold Snoad played a pivotal producer role in Keeping Up Appearances.
Finally, the experience, wit and wisdom of each are woven together with some of the funniest scenes from the best of British comedy as well as seldom-seen, behind-the-scenes production footage. The result is a fascinating story that should provide viewers with both interest and delight. As one producer put it, making comedy is hard work. But it’s also a lot of fun!
Learn more about Isabelle Faust at the New York Philharmonic website. Bernard Labadie conducts.
Los Angeles Philharmonic
David Robertson, cond.; *Orly Shaham, piano
BRITTEN: Four Sea Interludes
*Steven MACKEY (b.1956): Stumble to Grace (Concerto for piano and orchestra )
(West Coast Premiere; LA Philharmonic Co-Commission)
MUSSORGSKY arr. RAVEL: Pictures at an Exhibition
We'll talk about what the legislature accomplished during this session in an attempt to solve the state's budget woes, with $100 billion of unfunded pension liability and millions in unpaid bills. We'll also talk about other big issues from this session--gambling, hydraulic fracturing, same-sex marriage and concealed carry. Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette join us.