On the 20th Century:
The Movers and Shakers
What or who do you think is the most important person, event, or trend that has taken place in the entertainment industry over the last 100 years?
It's a question that I threw out to you a few weeks back in this column, welcoming a response, and a question that seven Back Stage contributing writers threw out to about 45 industry veterans representing many facets of the business.
The responses (which begin on page 15) are varied, depending many times on each individual's career perspective. But the one I like best belongs to comic writer Jim David, who said the most significant event was the creation of Back Stage. "You can live without presidents, politics, or E=mc‰," he notes, "but not without show business."
The interviews are just one part of our "Century Standouts" section, which also includes two articles by Back Stage News Editor Roger Armbrust-one on the birth, growth, and accomplishments of the performing arts unions ("Performers United: A Century Sees the Emergence of Equity, SAG, and AFTRA"), and the other on the beginnings and growth of funding for the arts during this century ("A 20th Century Congress Confers and Confronts Arts Funding"). There's also a survey by Managing Editor David Sheward and Senior Staff Writer Robert Windeler, covering the entertainment highlights of the 20th century. Unfortunately, this article never made it into this week's issue because of a space shortage, but we'll be running it in our next issue, dated Dec. 31.
This third week in December traditionally has been our anniversary/year-end issue (Back Stage was born on Dec. 2, 1960, making this our 39th anniversary), and it's been our tradition over the past five or six years to take a look at the past year's highlights in addition to saluting an organization or company that has a proven track record.
Our spotlight this year focuses on Barry Moss and Julie Hughes of the New York-based Hughes Moss Casting; if you take a look at this team's credits (page 43), you can see for yourself its claim to fame. In this special salute, Back Stage writers interview both casting directors, along with office associates Jessica Gilburne and Ed Urban. We observed a few hours of an audition session (for "Titanic" on tour), and we interviewed more than a dozen people who've worked with the Hughes Moss team on one occasion or another, who talk about the special qualities of this unique pair of casters.
As for highlights '99, because of our space crunch, all we were able to run is Robert Windeler's survey of news highlights. We'll continue in our Dec. 31 issue with our theatre critics' pix and a list of all the shows Back Stage reviewed this past year.
Take the time to read all three special sections and look forward to more in our Dec. 31 paper. (Remember, there is no issue on Dec. 24.)
As I do each year at this time, I send a special thanks to my entire staff for all the hard work that it takes to get Back Stage out each and every week. This includes thank-yous to Managing Editor David Sheward, News Editor Roger Armbrust, Senior Staff Writer Robert Windeler, Features Writer Simi Horwitz, Senior Copy Editor Mich'le LaRue, Casting and Listings Editor B.L. Rice, Associate Editor Leslie Carroll, and editorial assistants Joe Arsenault (who's moving on to a terrific job at his alma mater after this month), Virginia Sapp, Andrew Valvano, and newest to the staff, Brian Hyman. And special mention to Publisher Steve Elish.
Thanks also to Back Stage columnists Marc Bernstein ("Actors' Taxes"), Leslie (Hoban) Blake ("Backlot Buzz"), Amelia David ("Laughing Matters"), John Hoglund, Roy Sander (who will be moving to Berlin), and David Finkle, stepping in for Roy ("Bistro Bits"); David A. Rosenberg ("CDs in Review"), Charles Nelson ("Bits and Bites"), Jennie Schulman ("Dance Diary"), and Elias Stimac ("Off the Bookshelf").
Special thanks to Back Stage correspondents Jonathan Abarbanel (Chicago), Sandra Brooks Dillard (Denver), George Capewell (South Florida), Mark Cofta (Philadelphia), A.J. Esta (San Francisco), David Frieze (Boston), Bill Gale (Rhode Island), Michael Grossberg (Columbus-Cincinnati), William Hardy (North Carolina), Claudia Harris (Utah), Dave Hayward (Atlanta), Frances Heller (Cleveland), D.L. Hintz (Virginia), Damien Jaques (Milwaukee), Jon Kaplan (Toronto), Eleanor Koblenz (Upstate N.Y./Berkshires), Michael King (Texas), Martin Kohn (Detroit), Jon Longenbaugh (Seattle), David McGillivray (London), E. Kyle Minor (Westchester/Rockland, N.Y.), Joe Pollack (St. Louis), Lucille Johnsen Stelling (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Mark Turvin (Arizona), Gretchen Van Benthuysen (New Jersey), and Jim Volz (Southern California).
Kudos to theatre reviewers Irene Backalenick, Glenda Frank, Victor Gluck, Eric Grode, Jane Hogan, Karl Levett, David A. Rosenberg, David Sheward, Elias Stimac, and dance reviewers Jennie Schulman, Phyllis Goldman, and Lisa Jo Sagolla. Thanks also to all my freelance feature/news contributors: Ira Bilowit, Catherine Castellani, Jill Charles, Tish Dace, Helaine Feldman, Paul Harris, Michael Lazan, Esther Tolkoff, and Jeanette Toomer.
It's the Back Stage staff's continuing loyalty, love of the industry, and devotion to Back Stage readers that has given Back Stage the recognition and respect that it has in the industry.
Last, but not least, a special thanks to all of you readers. Your loyalty and feedback and encouragement-through your letters, phone calls, and meeting you in person-are what keep Back Stage moving forward and what fills me personally with inspiration year after year after year.
Have a Happy Holiday.