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First Lady Michelle Obama Donates Inaugural Gown to Smithsonian

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama stands with inaugural dress designer Jason Wu in front of the inaugural gown she wore to the inaugural balls and is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History on March 9, 2010 in Washington, DC. Mrs. Obama continues a long tradition of first ladys who have donated their inaugural gown to be on display at the Smithsonian. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

The one-shoulder, white chiffon gown First Lady Michelle Obama wore to the inaugural balls is on display.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Obama publicly donated the gown to the first ladies collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

The beaded gown was a star attraction at 10 inaugural balls held in January 2009 to celebrate President Barack Obama’s swearing-in. It was designed by Jason Wu of New York. Mrs. Obama also invited 32 high school fashion design students to today’s event. The students were able to tour the gallery and take part in the special luncheon.

The Smithsonian Institution says all first ladies since 1912 have contributed to the collection, though not all have parted with their ball gowns.

Mrs. Obama’s gown will join those currently on display from Helen Taft, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosalynn Carter and Laura Bush.

Read the First Lady’s remarks here.

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Molly Williams

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Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through snow storm

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through a snow storm in 1818

A slave named Molly Williams was the first known female firefighter in the United States. Little is known about her life, but female firefighters know her heroic story.

Owned by a New York merchant named Benjamin Aymar, Williams became part of the Oceanus Engine Company firehouse in 1815 and would be known as Volunteer Number 11. The members of the house credited her for being as tough as the male firefighters. She would fight amongst them in a calico dress and checked apron.

Besides the bucket brigades, Molly pulled the pumper to fires through the deep snowdrifts of the blizzard of 1818 to save towns. On December 27, 1819, the Fire Department reported that the fire buckets were rapidly being superseded by the use of hose, so the era of fire buckets ended.

Even as a slave, Williams had gained the respect of her fellow firefighters. Her story and strength paved the way for other women, including one the first paid Black female firefighters and the most tenured in the country – Toni McIntosh of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who served for over 11 years.

Today there are many African-American women working as career firefighters and officers in the United States, along with a number of counterparts in the volunteer ranks. The African American Fire Fighter Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, conserving and sharing the heritage of African American firefighters.

The Museum is housed at old Fire Station 30. This station, which was one of two segregated fire stations in Los Angeles, between 1924 and 1955, was established in 1913, to serve the Central Ave community.

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The President and First Lady Host: In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Audiegrl

February 9, 2010 marked the beginning of the 2010 White House music series with “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” – a concert celebrating Black History month.

Earlier that day, the White House also hosted a “Music that Inspired the Movement” workshop. High school students from across the country participate in a workshop to learn about how music influenced the Civil Rights Movement.

Robert Santelli, the executive director of The GRAMMY Museum, and Smokey Robinson, the legendary Motown singer, will facilitate the workshop with performances by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, one of the original Freedom Singers in the 1960s who traveled around the country carrying stories in song of local Civil Rights Movement campaigns to national audiences. Other artists participated as well, including: John Legend, John Mellencamp, and Toshi Reagon.

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In the evening, the President and First Lady hosted the “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” concert, featuring songs from the Civil Rights Movement as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings with participants including Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett, Toshi Reagon and more. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah and Joanne Woodward will be guest speakers.

“The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music,” Obama said as he welcomed his audience.

He said activists from coast to coast were inspired by spirituals, felt their will sharpened by protest songs and base broadened by artists of hope. He said their work paved the way toward a more just America that allowed him to make history in 2008 with his election.

“Tonight, we celebrate the music of the movement,” Obama said.

Singer Yolanda Adams’ moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was an early highlight of a night filled with amazing performances.

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The celebration was supposed to come on Wednesday, but faced with another major winter storm the White House decided to move the concert ahead by a day to beat what could be a second crippling snowfall in a week. As guests packed the first floor of the executive mansion, heavy snow landed on the South Lawn and blanketed the rest of Washington.

Morgan Freeman

Actor and activist Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman, who read excerpts from historical works throughout the night, harkened back to the song lyrics Obama invoked during his election-night victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.

“A long time coming,” Freeman said.

He later deadpanned: “I wish I could sing.”

Obama said the music helped the movement’s faith as their leaders were jailed and their churches bombed.

“It’s hard to sing when times are rough,” Obama said. “The hymns helped … advance the cause of the nation.”

The concert was to be televised at 8 p.m. Thursday on public broadcasting stations nationwide as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series. National Public Radio also planned a one-hour concert special from the event to be broadcast nationwide on NPR stations beginning Friday.

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Noel Coward’s Star Quality to Light Up Academy Gallery

Posted by: Audiegrl

Noel Coward by Edward Sorel

Noel Coward by Edward Sorel

Star Quality: I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got it,” said Noel Coward in his inimitable style, cigarette in hand and a twinkle in his eye. The life and career of playwright, composer, director and actor Noel Coward will be celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in a new touring exhibition, “Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward,” opening on Saturday, January 23, in the Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery in Beverly Hills. Admission is free.

Coward is well known as the creator of such stage classics as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Cavalcade, Design for Living and Blithe Spirit, many of which were adapted for film, and as the composer of such timeless songs as “I’ll See You Again,” “Mad About the Boy” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” “Star Quality” will be the first exhibition to show the full extent of Coward’s talents as a director of plays and movies, a stage and film actor, songwriter, cabaret artist, wartime patriot, painter and patron of charitable causes.

Noel Coward and stage partner Gertrude Lawrence 1936

Noel Coward and stage partner Gertrude Lawrence 1936

With unparalleled access to the Coward Archives, and drawing on public and private collections in Europe and the U.S. as well as the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, the exhibition brings together dozens of rare photographs, drawings, paintings, original manuscripts, letters, sheet music, posters, playbills, set and costume designs, personal memorabilia, audio and video clips, and original costumes, including several of the silk dressing gowns that became Coward’s trademark. Coward’s friendships with many of the 20th century’s leading artists and film personalities also are documented throughout the exhibition, as are his contributions to the film world through his on-screen appearances and the numerous film adaptations of his stage work.

Noel Coward and Judy Garland 1951

Noel Coward and Judy Garland 1951

Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward,” is presented in association with the Noël Coward Foundation and the Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco. The Academy’s installation has been guest curated by Brad Rosenstein and Rosy Runciman; the original exhibition was conceived and developed at Ten Chimneys by Erika Kent. Rosenstein will lead a public gallery talk at the Academy on Saturday, January 23, at 3 p.m. No reservations are required.

Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward” will be on display through Sunday, April 18. The Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends, noon to 6 p.m. For more information call (310) 247-3600 or visit http://www.oscars.org.

Stephen Fry, Michael York and Pat York attend the opening of the exhibition Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward presented by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the Academys Fourth Floor Gallery in Beverly Hills on Friday, January 22, 2010

Stephen Fry, Michael York and Pat York attend the opening of the exhibition Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward presented by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the Academys Fourth Floor Gallery in Beverly Hills on Friday, January 22, 2010

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Cleopatra’s Stunner Make-up Cured Eye Disease As Well

Posted by: Audiegrl

Cleopatra's likeness was pieced together from images on ancient artifacts, including a ring dating from Cleopatra’s reign 2,000 years ago, and the remains of her sister Princess Arsinöe found in 2009

Cleopatra's likeness was pieced together from images on ancient artifacts, including a ring dating from Cleopatra’s reign 2,000 years ago, and the remains of her sister Princess Arsinöe found in 2009

AFP~~Ancient Egypt’s stunning eye make-up not only shielded wearers from the dark deeds of the evil eye but also protected them against eye disease, French scientists said Thursday.

Ancient Egyptians some 4,000 years ago produced the make-up used to darken and adorn eyes with lead and lead salts in mixtures that sometimes took a month to concoct, said Philippe Walter, who co-headed a team of scientists from the Louvre Museum and the (CNRS) National Center of Scientific Research.

We knew ancient Greeks and Romans too had noted the make-up had medicinal properties, but wanted to determine exactly how,” he told AFP.

Contrary to widely held belief that lead is harmful, the team, using analytical chemistry, determined that “in very low doses lead does not kill cells.”

Curator Sally-Ann Ashton admires one of the statues of Cleopatra at the British Museum in London.

Curator Sally-Ann Ashton admires one of the statues of Cleopatra at the British Museum in London.

Instead, it produces a molecule — nitric oxide — that activates the immune defense system which beats back bacteria in case of eye infection.

The research was carried out using a tiny electrode, the 10th of the size of a hair, to look at the effect of a lead chloride synthesized by the Egyptians — laurionite — on a single cell.

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Palette Narrows to 7 in Oscar® Make-up Race

Posted by: Audiegrl

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films remain in competition in the Make-up category for the 82nd Academy Awards®.

The films are listed below in alphabetical order:

District 9
In 1982, a massive star ship bearing a bedraggled alien population appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded. The extraterrestrial race is forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth and find a kindred spirit in a government agent that is exposed to their biotechnology.

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Il DivoIl Divo
The story of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who has been elected Prime Minister, by Parliament, seven times since it was established in 1946. The narration spans the period since the seventh election of Andreotti as Prime Minister of Italy in 1992, until the trial in which he was accused of collusion with the Mafia.

Watch the trailer

The Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusThe Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Immortal thousand-year-old Doctor Parnassus leads a travelling theatre troupe offering audience members a chance to go beyond reality through a magical mirror in his possession. Parnassus had been able to guide the imagination of others through a deal with the Devil, who now comes to collect on the arrangement.

Watch the trailer

Night at the Museum: Battle of the SmithsonianNight at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
When the Museum of Natural History is closed for upgrades and renovations, the museum pieces are moved into federal storage at the famous Washington Museums. The centerpiece of the film will be bringing to life the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world’s largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections.

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The RoadThe Road
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing: just a pistol to defend themselves, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food–and each other.

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Star Trek
The film follows James T. Kirk enrolling at Starfleet Academy, his first meeting with Spock, and their battles with Romulans from the future, who are interfering with history. Together, the new crew of the USS Enterprise will have an adventure in the final frontier where the old legend is altered forever even as the new version of it is just beginning.
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The Young VictoriaThe Young Victoria
The film is Jean-Marc Vallee’s dramatization of the turbulent early years of Queen Victoria’s rule, which began when she was just 18 years old, and her enduring romance and marriage to Prince Albert. The film brings their relationship to life, all while playing out against a background of family strife and political wrangling.
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On Saturday, January 23, all members of the Academy’s Make-up Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.

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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Project

Posted by: Audiegrl

It was Gertrude Stein who once said of Oakland, “There is no there there.” The same has often been said of Hollywood (both the place and the industry). There is no single place a visitor can go to get a real sense of its essence. The purpose of a museum dedicated to the filmmaking arts and sciences would be to put a “there” in Hollywood. To illuminate something of what we do and how we do it. Something of the sweat and something of the inspiration; something of the practical and something of the magic; to capitalize on the national and international love of filmed entertainment and promote an appreciation of, knowledge of, and respect for our work.

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen analyze a sculpture on display at MOMA in Manhattan (1979)

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen analyze a sculpture on display at MOMA in Manhattan (1979)

Our mission is to create a place to celebrate and explore how film has reflected and shaped world culture, and to help us all better understand what the movies have meant – and continue to mean – in our lives. Thirteen locations across Los Angeles were carefully assessed as potential sites on which to build our new institution. Ultimately, the Museum Committee felt that the museum was meant to live in Holly­wood, a neighborhood synonymous with the film industry. The chosen site, adjacent to the Academy’s existing Pickford Center, allows for the creation of a sunny, eight-acre campus.

The museum will be open year-round and become a landmark attraction for Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area, a place for watching and learning about film and filmmaking, for exploring film’s relationship with the greater world and for listening to stories told by filmmakers themselves.

The museum’s public programs, lectures and hands-on exhibits will attract Los Angelenos, tourists, Academy members, film professionals, students and everyone in between. While people may be initially drawn in by the allure of Hollywood, we hope they will leave inspired and exhilarated, with a deeper appreciation for what movies have given them – characters they root for and sympathize with, glimpses into lives they wouldn’t have otherwise known, and stories that have shaped the American dream and our sense of national identity.

Sidney Poitier in the film classic 'To Sir With Love' (1967) with Lulu.

Sidney Poitier in the film classic 'To Sir With Love' (1967) with Lulu.

Who are our heroes and how have they changed over time? How have films depicted volatile issues like civil rights, religion, gender relations, poverty and war? How have they shaped our sense of masculinity, femininity and romance? How have Hollywood and Southern California affected the image of the United States, at home and abroad? Such are some of the topics the museum’s exhibits will explore, while allowing visitors to view films within the historical, cultural and technological contexts in which they were made.

But to see a film on screen is to see a finished product, not the creative process behind it. And so the Academy’s museum will also include spaces that explore the evolution of filmmaking. It will pull back the curtain, celebrating movie magic while allowing visitors a peek at how it is created. Each of the crafts will be illustrated in lucid, dazzling and unexpected ways, inviting visitors to explore often hidden worlds, whether that be a soundstage, an art department, a post-production studio or the Oscar® show itself. Visitors will be invited to sit in the director’s chair, costume a character, light a starlet, choose a location, cast a film, edit a trailer, score a movie, even walk the red carpet. They will come away with a better understanding of each craft, feeling that they have experienced cinematic creation themselves. It will forever change the way they watch movies.

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)

The Academy’s museum will be a place of continuously changing exhibitions and programs of interest to residents as well as tourists. It will not rely solely on static objects and images, but will instead utilize interactive and experiential exhibitions, along with well-chosen memorabilia – “the bones of our saints,” if you will. Premieres, foreign films, silent movies, retrospectives, tributes – the screen­ing schedule in the museum’s state-of-the-art theater will be diverse and enticing, luring locals again and again and becoming one of the first things movie-loving tourists will check when planning trips to Southern California.

The Academy has collaborated with many different constituen­cies to determine the content of its museum exhibitions – from craftspeople in each branch, to historians, scholars and film critics, to staff at prominent museums around the country. The priorities are clear: to develop signature content, robust educational programs and exhibits that will attract both residents and tourists, all while providing a “red carpet” standard of visitor hospitality and service.

Years from now, we envision that the museum’s campus will be the hub of the vibrant neighborhood of Hollywood. Its collection, in concert with those of the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive, will continue to provide an important record of the evolution of filmmaking. The museum will be acknowledged as the best in the world on the subject, having become a “must-see” destination in the Los Angeles area and a major center for Academy members to gather and discuss, debate and share issues of importance to filmmaking – past, present and future.

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