News and Features

The High Five: Ann Weisgarber, Texas Author, Talks Tonight About The Promise, Her New Book

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Romo and company make a ton of money; remembering the one-year anniversary of the West explosion; the latest on Ted Nugent; and more.

  • Ann Weisgarber, a Texas author who just published her second novel, The Promise, will talk at 7 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble, 7700 West Northwest Highway, Dallas. The Promise takes place in Galveston in 1900, when a hurricane killed thousands. She says she was inspired by an abandoned, dilapidated house on the rural end of Galveston and by an interview she conducted when writing an article for a local magazine. The Promise was recently named one of the nominees for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, a competition in the United Kingdom. Weisgarber has also written The Personal History of Rachel Dupree.
  • We already knew Tony Romo makes a lot of money. But did you know the Dallas Cowboys quarterback ranks No. 14 on a list of the 25 highest-paid athletes worldwide? ESPN The Magazine issued the list, which shows Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxer, in the No. 1 spot, earning $73.5 million a year. Romo earns $26.5 million a year. Endorsements aren’t included. In Major League Baseball, Texas Rangers’ Prince Fielder makes $24 million. In the NBA, Dallas Mavericks’ star Dirk Nowitzki earns $22.7 million. On the list of highest-paid NFL players, Romo ranks No. 6.
  • Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the day when West, Texas, changed forever. A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people. A memorial service, called West 4-17 Forever Forward, takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the West Fair and Rodeo Grounds. A moment of silence will be observed at 7:51 p.m., marking the time of the explosion. KERA’s Doualy Xaykaothao sat down with D Magazine’s Zac Crain, who is Facebook friends with just about half the city, and grew up just 500 yards from the fertilizer plant. NPR’s Wade Goodwyn recently visited West. “The widespread destruction in the town has raised questions about what, if any, new state laws should be passed to ensure that another chemical plant doesn’t explode where people live,” Goodwyn reported. Shortly after the blast, KERA’s Courtney Collins reported on nursing home employees who shielded their residents from the blast and pulled people from the rubble. She also wrote about her impressions of the town. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the people of West and their love for life and one another since I left there Thursday afternoon. The explosion at the fertilizer plant rocked the entire town. People were killed and injured. Homes were shattered. Residents lost their jobs and everything they owned. But that cold reality is clearly no match for the stunning warmth of spirit that colors the community.”
  • Did a bunch of police show up at Gun Barrel City’s only gay bar because it’s a gay bar? No, the owner tells the Dallas Observer. The bar, Garlow’s, was targeted because “we’re the No. 1 bar. We attract everybody,” owner Michael Slingerland told the Observer. On April 5, drag night at Garlow’s, police pulled into the parking lot and pulled over motorists for not using their turn signals. The police chief didn’t return a call from the Observer. Slingerland, who was arrested for public intoxication, said the police presence “was a fishing trip to see who’s been drinking and who hasn’t.”
  • Emails show that plans for a Ted Nugent concert in East Texas were canceled after the shock rocker drew criticism for calling President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” The Longview News-Journal reported that emails between Longview city officials show the concert was canceled a week after Nugent made headlines for divisive remarks that surfaced while he campaigned with Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Nugent apologized for the Obama slur. But a few days later, a city official sent an email to employees saying that the Longview city manager’s office had ordered the concert canceled because of the comments. Longview paid $16,250 to end contract negotiations. [Associated Press]

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Jane Smiley Visits The Writers Studio on Saturday

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Jane Smiley. Photo: Jack Canning

Jane Smiley. Photo: Jack Canning

Best-selling author Jane Smiley will join hosts Catherine Cuellar and Randy Gordon on The Writers Studio this Saturday. Tune in at 9pm to KERA FM to hear the conversation.

Smiley is the best-selling author of 13 works of fiction and three books of nonfiction, including The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Horse Heaven, and the 1992 Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, which was made into a major motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer. She has written for magazines such as Vogue, The New Yorker, Practical Horseman, Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine and the New York Times travel section, Victoria, Mirabella, Allure, The Nation and others. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 and is a three-time O. Henry Prize-winner for short fiction. Her latest novel, Private Life, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.

Listen to the interview:


Download it here.

You can listen to previous Writers Studio interviews with Richard Price, Robert Olen Butler, Jay McInerney and Ann Patchett. We’ll add the conversation with Smiley on Monday. And tune in on April 26 when Marilynne Robinson visits The Writers Studio.

Our thanks to The Writers Garret,  which produces The Writers Studio.




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Flickr Photo Of The Week

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Congratulations to Marjan Smeijsters of Nijmegen, Netherlands, the winner of the Flickr Photo of the Week contest! Marjan is a first time winner and follows last week’s winner,  Sara Elbayya.

If you would like to participate in the Flickr Photo of the Week contest, all you need to do is upload your photo to our Flickr group page. It’s fine to submit a photo you took earlier than the current week, but we are hoping that the contest will inspire you to go out and shoot something fantastic this week to share with Art&Seek users. If the picture you take involves a facet of the arts, even better. The contest week will run from Monday to Sunday, and the Art&Seek staff will pick a winner on Monday afternoon. We’ll notify the winner through FlickrMail (so be sure to check those inboxes) and ask you to fill out a short survey to tell us a little more about yourself and the photo you took. We’ll post the winners’ photo on Wednesday.

Now here’s more from Marjan:

Title of photo: Where is My Next Rendezvous?

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The Big Deal: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Coriolanus

BD shakes big

The AT&T Performing Arts Center and Shakespeare Dallas are collaborating to present all the works of William Shakespeare. In the series, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, every play and sonnet written by the Bard will be performed in staged readings in the intimate setting of Hamon Hall in the Winspear Opera House. The next production in this five-year partnership is Coriolanus. Ah, poor Coriolanus, the brave general but unsympathetic aristocrat, who must deal with the attacking enemy and his enemies at home, as well. Two Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers will receive a pair of tickets for the April 27 reading of the Shakespearean tragedy.

And while you are signing up for this Big Deal now is the perfect time to sign up for our other Big Deals this week – tickets to Fort Worth Opera’s Silent Night, or tickets to Casa Manana’s Peter Pan.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for your chance to win tickets to see the staged reading of Coriolanus at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!


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The Big Deal: Fort Worth Opera Presents ‘Silent Night’

One of Fort Worth Opera’s upcoming productions in their 2014 Festival will be Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Silent NightThe two-act opera is based on the 2005 French film, Joyeux Noel about the Christmas Eve truce between French, German and Scottish soldiers during WW 1. Silent Night had its world premiere in 2011 and the following year garnered first-time opera composer Puts a Pulitzer Prize. Check out the video above to hear a truly lovely piece from the Minnesota Opera premiere. The Fort Worth Opera will stage the regional premiere of Silent Night for two performances only. Win this Big Deal and win a pair of tickets to see the May 4, 2 p.m. performance at Bass Performance Hall.

And while you are signing up for this Big Deal you might be interested in signing up for our other Big Deals this week – tickets to see Peter Pan at Casa Manana, or tickets to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Coriolanus at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for a chance to see Forth Worth Opera’s Silent Night.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!

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The Big Deal: Casa Manana Presents ‘Peter Pan’

BD pp

Do you dream about reliving a little piece of your childhood? Do you long to return to Never Land – that magical, mysterious island where you thought if you could only get there then you too would be able to fly, and see Tinker Bell, and you would never have to grow up?  Well, you can relive those glory days when Casa Manana presents Peter Pan. Win this Big Deal and this time you can bring your family along on your adventure. Thanks to our good friends at Casa Manana we have a family 4-pack of tickets giveaway to see the classic story by J. M. Barrie. You and yours will soar when you see Peter Pan, the Darling children, and the Lost Boys battle the villainous Captain Hook and Smee on opening night, April 25.

But before you fly off be sure to sign up for our other two offerings this week – tickets to see Fort Worth Opera’s production of Silent Night at Bass Performance Hall, or tickets to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Coriolanus at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

PLEASE NOTE: Only Art&Seek e-newsletter subscribers can win the Big Deal. If you are not a subscriber then take care of that first, then sign up below for your chance to see Peter Pan touch down at Casa Manana.

UPDATE:  We have our winners. Thanks for playing!


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The High Five: Margaret Crow, Force Behind Crow Collection Of Asian Art, Has Died; Service To Be Held Today

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: it’s tax time for the political candidates; GOP convention officials to visit Dallas soon; remembering Margaret Crow; and more.

  • On Wednesday afternoon, there will be a public memorial service for Margaret Crow, the wife of the late real estate magnate Trammell Crow. She died Friday at age 94. Margaret Crow was a noted art collector, and the force behind Dallas’s Crow Collection of Asian Art. Executive director Amy Lewis Hofland told KERA that Crow came up with the idea after her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “She was really pondering what could the family could do for his legacy and so she raised the question: Is there enough material in the Crow Family Collection of art to merit a museum?” Hofland said. The service starts at 3 p.m. at Highland Park United Methodist Church.
  • Learn more about the Mexican rodeo in Texas. Al Rendon, a photographer, will talk about capturing the Charreada de San Antonio, with its “elegant pageantry, thrilling action and colorful crowds.” He’s speaking at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak, Dallas.“Dodging moving horses, ropes, and the excited crowds for over 20 years, Rendon has artfully captured the action and excitement of the Charreada for the rest of the world to see.”
  • Tuesday was Tax Day – did you file your taxes on time or get an extension? How much of a refund are you expecting? Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott released his 2013 federal income tax form on Tuesday – and he’s getting a hefty refund. WFAA-TV reports: “Abbott’s return shows that he and his wife Cecilia earned more than $190,000. But after deductions and exemptions, the Abbotts’ taxable income was $100,128. Abbott paid $50,391 in mortgage interest, $20,431 in property taxes and gave $6,650 to charity. The Abbotts overpaid federal taxes by $20,329 and will get that sum back as a refund.” Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, filed an extension and plans to eventually release her 2013 return. Davis was campaigning in North Texas Tuesday, focusing on pre-Kindergarten. Meanwhile, a national poll says she’s gained little ground against Abbott since November: She trails him by 14 points.  On Wednesday, Davis plans to undergo outpatient neck surgery after experiencing shoulder and arm pain.
  • GOP officials will soon visit Dallas as the city competes for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Staff and advisers will travel to Dallas April 24 for a “technical site visit,” The Dallas Morning News reports. “The team will conduct similar visits with Dallas’ competition — Denver, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Cleveland — over the next couple weeks,” The News reported. “The trips will allow the GOP take a closer, in-person look at each city’s financing, venues, workspace and hotels. And the preliminary inspection will determine which cities will receive an official visit this summer from the full GOP convention site selection team.” Learn more about Dallas’ bid from KERA News. Also, Dallas sees Las Vegas, Kansas City and Denver as its main competitors.
  • Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro traded barbs during a televised debate Tuesday night. The Texas Tribune reports: They “covered a range of issues beyond the set topic of immigration policy, including the November general election and abortion rights. …. Patrick frequently sought to emphasize his compassion for those who cross the U.S. border illegally. ‘I don’t like to see the exploitation of people crossing the border,’ Patrick said. ‘It is not right for a man who is crossing this border with his family to see his daughter or wife raped at midnight by a coyote. It is not right to come to America on the back of an 18-wheeler.’” The Tribune added: “Castro accused Patrick of playing politics, pointing out that what he said during the debate stood in stark contrast to the state senator’s tone on the campaign trail and in televised ads. Patrick once referred to the influx of undocumented immigrants from Mexico as an “illegal invasion” — and referred to the diseases he said they bring with them. ‘You’ve been huffing and puffing on the campaign trail like the Big Bad Wolf and now you are tiptoeing around like Little Red Riding Hood,’ Castro said.”
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Art&Seek Jr: 6 Egg-cellent Adventures For Your Little Bunny

Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

This Easter is a little bittersweet for me. At almost 9, Rose isn’t exactly letting on that there’s no magical rabbit that delivers chocolate–ever the practical girl, she doesn’t want to miss out on the free candy in case she’s wrong. But you can see the look of doubt in her eyes whenever E. Bunny’s name comes up.  I’d love to keep up the charade until she’s 30, but I’m thinking this will probably be the Easter Bunny’s last trip to our house.

Mr. Bunny wasn’t always welcome in our house. When Rose was about 3, she wasn’t exactly on board with him. She’d seen a giant bunny “with big scary eyes” roving about at the mall and she just didn’t like the idea of this strange bunny/man letting himself into our house when everyone was asleep–chocolate or not. A stuffed rabbit named Stella and a bumper crop of peeps finally brought her around.

This is how it went down:

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An Interview with Lumière: Childhood Fantasy Completed

Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test…

Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes
They can sing, they can dance
After all, Miss, this is France…

OK, so maybe we’re not in France, but when Disney’s Beauty and the Beast takes to the stage tonight at the Winspear Opera House, it will be like the sweet spring air of Paris has swept in and we will all be transported to a fantastical time. One filled with soufflés and baguettes and ball gowns, and love and romance, and a dancing candelabra.

Lumière, Lefou, Belle, the Beast. These characters conjure up many memories of my childhood. I remember watching my VHS of Beauty and the Beast on repeat until I ran the tape down and my VCR spat the black ribbons back out at me. In protest, I think. As if it were daring me to play “Be Our Guest” or “Beauty and the Beast” one more time. But how could I not dance around my living room to Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts crooning, “Tale as old as time…”

"Be Our Guest" Photo by Amy Boyle, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

“Be Our Guest”
Photo by Amy Boyle, courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

I’m sure we all have some similar memory when we think of this merry band of characters, but just in case you don’t know the story, here is a brief recap:

Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

A classic love story, and one that ran on stage for more than 13 years on Broadway, won a Tony for best musical, was a mega-hit animated film, and is now on tour, Beauty and the Beast is set to entertain us here in Dallas from April 15-27.

And as the touring company makes their way here, I emailed back and forth with Hassan Nazari-Robati, who plays the loveable Lumière, to find out what it is like to be a part of a show that is so near and dear to many of us.

Hassan Nazari-Robati

Hassan Nazari-Robati

Danielle Georgiou: Beauty and the Beast is a truly loved show by both children and adults alike. I know it was one of my most beloved childhood movies, and it’s great to see it come to life on stage. What is your favorite part about the show?

Hassan Nazari-Robati: I would definitely have to say that my favorite part about the show is the message about the transformative power of love. Not only is there the obvious example of how love actually transforms the Beast back into a prince, but the great thing is that the show also expands on how this new found love changes who Belle is as well.

DG: How does it feel to play such a cherished character? Do you feel any major pressure?

HN-R: Having grown up with the film, it is a childhood dream come true to be able to bring Lumière to life every night, but it does definitely come with pressure.  It’s always a balancing act of giving the audience the character they’ve grown up loving while at the same time being true to the performer that I am and what comes honestly from me.

DG: Now that you have played Lumière for nearly two years, have you come to see any similarities between the two of you? Or have you noticed you becoming more like your character?

HN-R: I think from the beginning, I’ve connected with Lumière’s desire to see those around him happy.  I don’t know that I’ve become more like him in other ways, but there are times when I slip into the French accent in everyday conversation.

DG: And how difficult was it to get that French accent down?

HN-R: I can’t say that the accent was something that gave me tons of trouble.  I’m sort of lucky that in this production it’s not necessarily the goal to portray realistic accents, but rather American caricatures of the various accents.

DG: What’s your favorite number in the show?

HN-R: I would have to say that my favorite number in the show is “Human Again.”  It was recently added back into the movie, but I think in the play it has an even deeper meaning for the enchanted objects. In the show, the spell has life-or-death consequences for us, so for the characters it’s not just about regaining our human forms back, but also about our desire to keep on living.

DG: Can you describe to our readers what tour life is like? Is it an all-day sing-a-long, like I imagine it would be?

HN-R: While I’m sad to say that not every day is filled with sudden musical numbers and dance breaks, the great thing about tour is getting to be surrounded by an amazing group of people and forming your own family with them.

DG: What can the audience expect from the stage production? How does it differ, or how is it the same, to the film?

HN-R: The great thing about the show is that it takes everything you love in the movie and expands on it. You get more singing, more dancing, and more heart. It’s a true treat for anyone who holds this story near and dear to their heart.

DG: How did you first get involved with theatre and musical theatre? What made you fall in love with the craft?

HN-R: My first experiences with theater were all in school, starting with my fourth grade production of Santa Goes to Branson. I would have to say that I didn’t really fall in love with performing until high school. I think that’s when I first realized how much performing demanded of my whole being, and I loved just fully going on a journey with all these different people that I was portraying.

DG: You graduated from Oklahoma City University rather recently, and landed a major role on a national tour pretty much right out of school. What advice do you have for young actors?

HN-R: I think my biggest piece of advice is to trust in yourself and what you bring to the table. You have to see whichever character you want to be inside yourself before the person behind the table ever will.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast runs from April 15-27 at the Winspear Opera House.

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The High Five: UNT Acquires Historic Pictures From A Family Of Fort Worth Photographers

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: a high-profile immigration debate; tougher rules on fertilizer following the West explosion?; conjoined twins will soon go home; and more:

  • The University of North Texas has acquired hundreds of thousands of images amassed by four generations of photographers in one Fort Worth family. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Byrd Williams IV, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all lived in Fort Worth and used cameras to earn a living, document history and create art. The collection dates to the late 1800s. The university acquired it in recent months for an undisclosed amount. Morgan Gieringer, head of archives and rare books at UNT in Denton, says about 80 percent of the collection documents Fort Worth, including portraits and photos of events and architecture. The collection also includes documents other parts of Texas, including photos by Byrd Williams II of soldiers fighting with Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa near El Paso in 1915. [Associated Press]
  • Tonight, a prominent immigration reform advocate faces a prominent Republican hardliner on immigration reform. The high-profile debate pits San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro against state Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican competing against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a May 27 GOP primary. Castro advocates granting legal residency to young people brought by their parents into the United States without papers. Castro has been critical of Patrick, a tea party-backed radio talk show host who has decried what he calls the “invasion” of immigrants coming across the Texas border. Patrick was dogged shortly before the March 4 first primary by allegations, which he denied, that he knowingly hired immigrants in the country illegally at bars he owned in the 1980s. The San Antonio Express-News has more. The Texas Tribune will livestream the 6 p.m. event in Houston. The Tribune has a preview. [Associated Press]
  • How low did it go overnight? At 7 a.m., D/FW International Airport recorded 37 degrees – not below freezing and not quite close to setting a record. The last time we recorded freezing temperatures at D/FW this late in April was back in 1997 – 32 degrees on April 13. At 7 a.m., Denton was at 30 degrees. Graham was at 26. Waco was at 31 degrees, which ties Waco’s record low for April 15, which had been set in 1983. Waco has had 70 freeze days this season – the greatest number on record for that city, the National Weather Service says. While North Texas didn’t set records, we were 15 to 20 degrees below normal this morning.
  • The conditions of conjoined twins separated last summer have steadily improved, and officials say they’ll be released this week from Medical City Children’s Hospital. Officials announced Monday that Owen and Emmett Ezell are expected to be discharged Wednesday. They were born in July, joined at the abdomen. The boys are no longer being fed through an IV but continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens. And instead of being hooked to breathing machines, they now need only the assistance of a trachea tube. The boys will move from the hospital to a rehab center. The babies shared a liver and bowels, and they had a birth defect that left their intestines outside of their bodies and covered by a thin layer of tissue. [Associated Press]
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