The National Comedy Center, a non-profit cultural institution located in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York, houses a number of archival pieces including the 25,000-piece George Carlin collection, donated in 2017.
“When I found myself surrounded by all of Shelley’s writings, I wondered what to do with all of it,” said Sarah Berman, the late comic’s wife of more than 70 years. “Do I give it to some museum where they let it gather dust before they throw it away? Along came the National Comedy Center, driven by people who have the vision to know that this material and the material of other comedians has a value. They are dedicated to preserving all for their archives and for future generations who may want to know about those who gave us the gift of laughter. I feel confident that all of Shelley’s fine work will be in good hands,”
The archive was collected and stored in Berman’s home office for seven decades, and spans from the 1940s to the 2010s. It includes hundreds of photographs, contracts, scripts, calendars, scrapbooks, correspondences and rare footage and audio chronicling his wide-ranging career in stand-up, improv, television, film, theater, and comedy writing.
The National Comedy Center will host its own ribbon cutting during Jamestown’s annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival August 1-4.
The Berman donation was formally announced during a National Comedy Center tribute this week’s at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. The event was attended by his Curb Your Enthusiasm co-stars Larry David and Cheryl Hines, along with Laraine Newman, Dr. Demento, Howard Storm, David Steinberg, Fred Willard, and Alan Zweibel, and hosted by Lewis Black.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.