Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maurice Jarre ... Dead Poet

It saddened me to learn yesterday of the death of Maurice Jarre, the composer/musical poet of some of the most recognized film scores worldwide.

According to The New York Times obituary, he died on Saturday.

At home tonight, listening to some of Jarre's music (specifically, the combination soundtrack to "Dead Poets Society," 'Witness," "The Year of Living Dangerously" and "Fatal Attraction" -- all among my personal top film picks) and yesterday while reading about his passing, I was curious whether Jarre had contributed to the Olympics over the years.

Though I found no explicit Olympic connections from Jarre to the Olympic Movement, the following are of note:

-- Jarre was born in France in 1924, the same year his home nation hosted the first Winter Olympics at Chamonix and the summer Games at Paris (portrayed in the Oscar-winning film "Chariots of Fire," which is known for its outstanding soundtrack)
-- Olympic Champion Alexei Yagudin, who won the gold at Salt Lake in 2002, previously skated at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games, performing that season to Jarre's "Lawrence of Arabia" composition
-- Michelle Kwan won her first world championship in 1996, apparently skating to "Lion of the Desert" by Jarre (perhaps the famed skater should have listened to Jarre's compositions for "The Year of Living Dangerously" titled "Kwan" and "Kwan's Sacrifice").

It's too bad Jarre was not engaged for activities within the Olympic Movement -- perhaps someday when South America eventually hosts the Games, the score for "The Mosquito Coast" will be suitable for a brief part of a ceremony.

Until then, I'll be thinking of Sigourney Weaver shouting "Get Off My Mountain!" with Marice Jarre's music underscoring her angst throughout "Gorillas In The Mist." You tell 'em, Sigourney!

And yes, Weaver was also in "The Year of Living Dangerously." See how this all ties together nicely?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Make No Little Plans

This week's edition of The New Yorker several excellent features. One such article sent me scrambling to Netflix in search of "Play Misty For Me" -- the DVD release of the Clint Eastwood thriller that foreshadowed "Fatal Attraction."

Folks following the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid, or anyone who enjoyed or plans to read "The Devil In The White City" by Erik Larson may want to click on over to Paul Goldberger's feature with the headline "Toddlin' Town," which delves into the city's history involving Daniel Burnham.

It's fitting the Burnham "Plan for Chicago" is being celebrated for its centennial the same year the Windy City is a finalist to bring the Olympics back to the USA. Here's hoping there will be more opportunities to see Burnham's works during future travels.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This Just In ...

Moments ago, received the U.S. Olympic Committee's press release regarding the resignation of CEO Jim Scherr. The Associated Press report seems to be the first out of the gate (checking other sources), but no word on what Scherr is doing next.

"Everything we have is included in the press release," said the U.S.O.C. media relations office, when I asked whether Scherr's next move is known.

I'm a personal fan of Scherr -- he was the director at USA Wrestling when I interned there via U.S. Olympic Training Center in 1995. Will certainly miss tracking his U.S.O.C. progress, and it will be interesting to see what is next for him. My gut is that that he will remain in the Olympic Family in some way.

The U.S.O.C. also announced interim CEO Stephanie Streeter.

Will post updates, and stories from that internship experience, as things unfold.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

With a name like Smucker's ...

... it had to be good.

And it was, er, they were -- the interviews with 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and 1998 Olympic gold medalist Ilia Kulik, that is.

Both skaters are now touring with Smucker's Stars On Ice, which stopped by Atlanta's Philips Arena on Wednesday (the tour continues with several dates through April 11).

I'll let the videos and Cohen/Kulik speak for themselves -- both Olympians were helpful and direct with their answers on camera, and cordial off-camera. The biggest surprise: Cohen apparently is an AC/DC fan, given her T-shirt and lip-synching to a couple of the band's tunes during a pre-event warm-up session.

The main question for Sasha -- what's up regarding Vancouver 2010? For Kulik: His involvement with Sochi and the 2014 Winter Games preparation to date, as well as future plans for getting in the mix for Russia's first Winter Olympics.

Many thanks to the tour and venue publicists for their help and time to accomodate the interview requests.

And if you were one to "Elf Yourself" a few holiday seasons back, you might enjoy transforming your headshot photos and friends into Stars On Ice skaters.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow, Skating and Stars in the ATL!

March is off to a great start.

In Atlanta it snowed a few inches today -- big, fat snow -- which is timely considering the upcoming arrival of the Smucker's Stars On Ice tour at Philips Arena.

For those who are fans of top-level figure skating, the tour is an opportunity to see some of the best known winter athletes, and it should be a fun event (tickets are available).

According to the Philips Arena calendar, Britney Spears will be in the venue the following night, no doubt to break the ice (again) with Southern fans.

If things work out as planned, by week's end I'll be able to post here a few interviews with the Stars On Ice skaters. With thanks to the media relations team for the tour, it will be fun to learn from Sasha Cohen and Ilia Kulik about their past Olympic experiences and future plans. Here's hoping the questions I submitted make the cut.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there is a big-time Hollywood film production in town this week as well. Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and others are shooting "Get Low" around Dallas, Ga., with a call for extras for a sunrise scene (not sure I'll make it there, but if I do, it would ROCK to speak with any of the three stars!).

Since Bill Murray is a Chicago native, would love to get his take on the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid. Landing this interview would indeed be a "Cinderella Story."

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