The Critical List
By CATHERINE DAWSON MARCH
Saturday, October 20, 2001 Print Edition, Page 4
Live at the Rehearsal Hall:
Bravo!, 8 p.m. Bravo’s Rehearsal Hall, a performing area lined with bookshelves, easy chairs and heavy draperies, is an excellent venue for the acclaimed singer-songwriter. Sitting at the piano, Wainwright opens with Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, the best song from his latest album Poses. The intimate setting almost makes it easier to pick out the smart lyrics, despite Wainwright’s tendency to mumble through many lines. But it’s not just the words and original, catchy melodies that captivate. Wainwright, the son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, has a wonderfully dry sense of humour that he occasionally uses on host Lance Chilton. (Chilton asks him to talk about meeting Bea Arthur, a story Wainwright mentions he’s told “about 500 times,” but one he still tells with gusto.) Wainwright performs several songs from Poses, including a cover of his father’s One Man Guy, in which he shares verses with his sister Martha Wainwright and guitarist Teddy Thompson.
The Concert for New York City
MuchMoreMusic, 8 p.m. In the publicity poster for this rock benefit a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty is shown with an electric guitar slung over her shoulder. That alteration to the American icon of freedom is a clever image, but also a surprise considering the full-blown patriotic roar of the American people and media these days. The four-hour event airs live from Madison Square Garden and features just about every artist with a hit in the past 40 years: Paul McCartney, The Who, Jon Bon Jovi (who – stop the presses! – put off his Ally McBeal guest spot to perform), Mick Jagger, John Mellencamp, Eric Clapton, Goo Goo Dolls and so on. Famous faces are also turning up to perform, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meg Ryan, Michael J. Fox and Denis Leary. Tickets for the event ranged from $200 to $500 (U.S.), with VIP access costing up to $10,000, and all of them sold out quickly (5,000 of the tickets went to New York’s rescue workers). The VH1 broadcast airs on MuchMoreMusic here. On Sunday at 9 p.m., MuchMusic broadcasts a Canadian rock benefit live from the Air Canada Centre. Music Without Borders Live features performances by Alanis Morissette, The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace, Barenaked Ladies and Bruce Cockburn among others.
CTV, 7:30 p.m. Young and funky, 21C (stands for 21st century) hosts Dominic Patten and Anne-Marie Mediwake want to get teens talking about the big issues. Often those issues will stem from storylines just played out on Degrassi: The Next Generation, which 21C follows. Topics include male vanity and new kinds of families, such as those with two gay parents or blended in a 21st-century version of the Brady Bunch. Unlike a lot of teen-show hosts, Patten and Mediwake are experienced journalists who look and talk hip, but also know what the hell they are talking about.
History, 9 p.m. Female gladiators. It’s a sexy subject that lends itself to images of women in skimpy leather and armour, wielding heavy swords. And there’s lots of that in this hour to spike the sex appeal of an otherwise traditional documentary about a second-century Roman grave discovered several years ago in London. Betwixt the grainy dramatizations, several archeologists describe how the cremated bone fragments found amongst incense pots and fancy lamps (believed to be the grave of a gladiator) caused so much excitement because they were female. Despite this important discovery, the gladiatrix’s pelvic bone – which caused all the excitement – was stored in a box and promptly lost in a Museum of London warehouse. Ironically, as a revered member of her society it’s the kind of indignity she wouldn’t have faced when alive. Gladiatrix moves on from this embarrassing aside to follow the historians and curators in their dogged detective work, pursuing the mystery of who she was and how she lived. One scientist reconstructs a funeral pyre, substituting a dead deer, and watches it burn through the night. These are some dedicated folk.
Vision, 10 p.m. When Germany invaded in early May of 1940, it only took five days for Holland to surrender, but the Nazis would never control the hearts and minds of most of the Dutch. This new documentary states that less than two per cent of the Dutch population collaborated with the Nazis. Many joined the resistance and many others hid Jews in their homes or became foster families for Jewish children whose parents had been captured. Throughout the hour, former resistance members tell their stories, including Truus Menger, who was recruited into the movement in her early teens. Now a sweet-looking grandmotherly type, she recalls, in a matter-of-fact manner, how she killed a Nazi point blank with her pistol. A Dutch Jew who was kept hidden for years explains how he lived in a compost pile, then a chicken coop and finally an underground wooden shelter for over two years. Hidden Heroes features many such stories, including those of two Jews now living in Canada who head back to the Netherlands for an emotional look at old hiding grounds. Sonja Smits, whose grandfather was a Dutch resistance leader, narrates Hidden Heroes.
Biography Close-Up: After the Game
A&E, 8 p.m. Michael Jordan just can’t stay away from the game; he’s playing again for the Washington Wizards. That may make a lot of basketball fans wince, but the makers of this A&E documentary must have been cheering in their edit suite. Jordan’s return makes their hourlong show a lot timelier. After the Game talks with retired sports pros who reflect on just how hard it was to stop playing. There’s no interview with Air Jordan, but host Harry Smith does sit down with Wayne Gretzky, baseball and football star Bo Jackson, tennis player Zina Garrison, National Hockey League hall of famer Alan Page, J.R. Richard who pitched for the Houston Astros and early sixties college basketball player Art Heyman. Gretzky’s story opens the hour and it’s full of familiar home video clips, but Smith doesn’t get anything great out of the Great One. Gretzky’s only original comment is that he’d have no qualms about making a deal with the devil if he could play two or three more seasons at his prime. It would be more interesting to hear from Mario Lemieux, who returned to the NHL last season after retiring in 1997. If you can stand the soap-opera swells of music and predictable pedantic Biography style, stick around for the segment on Richard. He’s been through too much in his life to be much amused by Smith’s “take me there” line of questioning and alternately cracks up the host or renders him speechless.<p.