- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2010

‘Sniff, sniff’

“271 previously unknown artworks by Pablo Picasso came to light, ironically, thanks to a French electrician. Now, the artist’s obscure offspring are crawling out of the immense shadow of their father to claim the works were purloined. The 71-year-old Pierre Le Guennec cared for all things electrical for Cubism’s creator from 1970 until the artist’s death three years later - and continued in that capacity for Picasso’s widow Jacqueline another thirteen.

“The electrician was slapped with a lawsuit by the artist’s son Claude Picasso and five other heirs. And the French government seems to agree. The Central Office for the Fight Against Traffic in Cultural Goods went to Le Guennec’s home on the French Riviera and seized the Picassos. It’s well-known that near the end of his life, Picasso paid his bar tab and tailor’s bills with doodles quickly dashed off on napkins and odd scraps of paper. What’s to say he and his widow didn’t pay for more than a decade’s worth of electrical services with works of art? …

“In the end, the Picasso family lawyer got down to the problem the family and the French government has with Le Guennec. ‘It’s impossible to think that [Picasso] would have given … works to an electrician. It’s impossible that these works have been given away.’ And there you have it. Who does this electrician, of all people, think he is? Why, he possesses previously unpublished Picassos! An electrician! What are his cultural credentials?”

- Mr. Curmudgeon, writing on “Elites the World Over” at his eponymous blog on Nov. 30

Camp is over

“That there isn’t a good movie within ‘Burlesque’ may not be such a shock. But that there isn’t a resounding, delicious disaster going on may wind up being the bigger disappointment. There have been some notable ‘Showgirls’ also-rans in the ensuing years - ‘Coyote Ugly’ and ‘Glitter’ certainly have their champions - but it may well be that the nature of camp and its appeal to gay audiences will never again be the same.

“There’s already a cultural divide between gay men who still remember the first deadly wave of AIDS and the gay men who grew up with ‘The Real World’ and ‘Will & Grace.’ Young gays may have accepted Lady Gaga as their personal diva and savior, but they might not look to or even need strong women the way their predecessors did. Besides, the alchemy of camp requires that artists work with complete seriousness to produce something that’s unintentionally hilarious, and in this age [when] everything’s ironic to some extent or other, it’s harder and harder to find new films that aren’t made with tongue at least partially in cheek.”

- Alonso Duralde, writing on “Is “Burlesque” the new ‘Showgirls’ ” on Nov. 25 at the Film Salon

Ideal actor

“[W]hen it came time to select an actor to play Dr. Rumack, my brother Jerry, Jim Abrahams and I remembered: ‘This one guy, he’s been in hundreds of television shows, and I think he played the captain of the Poseidon. What’s his name … ?’ Our research revealed that the actor’s name was Leslie Nielsen.

“Jim, Jerry and I were thrilled when he agreed to meet, not because he was ‘funny’ but because of his long resume of serious films and TV. To us, he was hysterical. The long list of straight dramatic acting roles demonstrated to us that he would be perfect. When we watched those movies, we laughed.

“At our first meeting, he mentioned proudly that he had done an episode of M*A*S*H*. We assured him we wouldn’t count this brief comedy experience against him. But when he read the ‘Airplane!’ script, he ‘got’ its unconventional nature and offbeat style. We heard later that he told his agent, ‘Take whatever they offer; I’d pay them to do this.’ “

- David Zucker, writing on “Tribute to Leslie Nielsen” on Nov. 29 at the Hollywood Reporter



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