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Ziv Television and a brief history of syndicated television in America

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 8, 2014 03:52pm | Post a Comment
Ziv Productions logo

Due to the rise in quality television and the sad, hopefully-not-irreversible decline of Hollywood films, any unbiased viewer of both would have to agree that television is entirely capable of producing great art. Much of the credit goes to cable (e.g. Breaking Bad and Mad Men) and online television (e.g. Homestar Runner and House of Cards). Then there's syndicated television, which came into existence literally to provide television filler 65 years ago this month, when Ziv Television's first production aired.

Ziv advertisement 1955

For the most part syndicated television's reputation for providing chaff is deserved. Syndicated programs have long been dominated by cheap anthology shows, court shows, game shows, variety shows, talk shows, celebrity gossip "news" shows, and other low-budget, low-brow, fare that at its best is enjoyable as a time-killers and guilty pleasures. Sometimes due to their peripheral nature, they're amazingly watchable for all the wrong reasons -- in many ways a television equivalent of the grindhouse cinema.

Back in the old days, neither the big four radio networks (ABC, CBS, Mutual, and NBC), nor the big three US television networks (CBS, DuMont, and NBC) offered a full day's dose of programming. Then as now there were television stations not affiliated with any network -- but even they rarely could produce enough programming to fill the day. In radio, syndicated programing, produced by independent companies had been the solution at least since the 1930s. The first American television company to produce syndicated programs was Ziv Television Programs, whose first program, Fireside Theatre, began airing back on 5 April, 1949

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Amoeba Partners With Jazz at LACMA

Posted by Billy Gil, April 8, 2014 11:33am | Post a Comment

lacma

When the weather’s nice, L.A. becomes a great place to hear live jazz music in the outdoors.

Every Friday night at 6 p.m. from mid-April to late November, LACMA offers free jazz shows in the lawn area. Amoeba is proud to be a community sponsor of the event.

pete escovedo Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra opens the program on Friday, April 18. Featuring legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, who has performed with Santana, Herbie Hancock and Tito Puente, among others, the performance will pay tribute to pioneering jazz keyboardist George Duke.

The series, which features leading jazz artists from Southern California, continues with Mark Winkler and Cheryl Bentyne April 25; Russell Ferrante & Bob Mintzer Quartet  May 2 and Lesa Terry and Collective Spirit May 9. See the whole list of performers here.

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Album Picks: De Lux, EMA, OFF!, Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks, The Mary Onettes

Posted by Billy Gil, April 8, 2014 08:01am | Post a Comment

De LuxVoyage (LP or CD)

de lux lp amoebaThere’s been a hole in our hearts lately where dance-rock bands of yore used to reside. De Lux fill that hole admirably with immediate, expansive dance rockers that aren’t short on detail or hooks. “Better at Making Time” opens the album subtly, letting its disco bass groove enter four minutes in after giving Sean Guerin’s David Byrne-ish vocals a chance to sink in. “Movements” is a true groover, made up of a bunch of interlocking parts—a simple-yet-effective bassline and guitar lick in lockstep, washy synths and chiming bells—while Guerin’s vocals get wilder and wilder. The duo of multi-instrumentalists Guerin and Isaac Franco let each song breathe and unfold at its own speed, giving it a couple minutes in “I’ve Got to Make a Solid Statement (No More Likes & Ums)” before singing a word so we that Stevie Wonder-style clavinet and spacey effects can soak in. Of course, when they get to it, as on the superb “Love Is a Phase,” the result is a space-disco opus that leaves you head over heels for the band. Though Voyage is stuffed with cool references, they never feel forced or overdone. It feels as though the young band has digested decades of smart party jams and picked the choices parts to make their own thing—though you could compare them to LCD Soundsystem or The Rapture, for instance, on songs like “Make Space,” most of the time De Lux never sound imitative of those bands, as tunes like the interstellar “On the Day” stand completely on their own. It makes Voyage all the more pleasurable, and not at all in a guilty way. Smart disco-punk that makes us dance while satisfying our inner music-snobs? We’ll take it and more, please.

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57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, 4/24 - 5/8

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 7, 2014 03:54pm | Post a Comment

The San Francisco International Film Festival returns April 24th through May 8th! SFIFF showcases cinematic innovation and presents marquee premieres, international competitions, star-studded events, and live performances. This year’s music headliners are Thao and the Get Down Stay Down and Stephin Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields)! The program features 200 films of international distinction, including new work by Richard Linklater and so many others.

Amoeba is proud to co-present two music-related films at this year's festival about a couple of our most-beloved icons: 

20,000 Days on Earth (England, 2014, 95 min)
Investigating musician/writer/poet Nick Cave’s history, psyche, and creative path, 20,000 Days on Earth is a must-see for fans or anyone interested in an Artist’s journey. This highly stylized biopic presents a choreographed “day-in-the-life,” depicting Cave as an introspective and dark figure, and featuring his band the Bad Seeds’ own brand of controlled ferocity. 

Showing April 28th, 9:45pm at Sundance Kabuki Cinema and May 1st, 6:15pm at New People Cinema.

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Amoeba Presents The Drop: Mary Gauthier at the GRAMMY Museum

Posted by Billy Gil, April 7, 2014 11:38am | Post a Comment

mary gauthier amoeba grammy museum

 

Amoeba is proud to present The Drop: Mary Gauthier at the GRAMMY Museum April 21 at 8 p.m. Doors are at 7:30, and tickets are $20; get them here.

As part of The Drop’s new Americana music series, folk artist Gauthier will appear for an interview, moderated by vice president of The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares, Scott Goldman, after which she’ll perform a set of songs.

Mary Gauthier’s throaty, world-weary voice, gothic-country acoustic guitar playing and detailed storytelling have won her praise from the likes of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Though she’s a stoic persona, Gauthier’s music packs an emotional wallop.

mary gauthier trouble & love cd amoebaHer story goes back to being an adopted child and teenage runaway. Gauthier first found shelter amongst drug addicts and drag queens. Though she eventually came to be a chef with her own restaurant, a crippling heroin addiction threatened her success and led to her arrest.

Now sober, Gauthier traded her chef’s apron for a guitar—she didn’t write her first song until her mid-30s, for all you late bloomers out there—and the six albums she’s released have been critically acclaimed, with 2005’s Mercy Foundling garnering the Americana Music Association's New/Emerging Artist of the Year distinction, and 2011’s The Foundling being named the No. 3 Record of the Year by the Los Angeles Times.

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