Happy Wax Day, New York

On the eve of Marilyn’s birthday, a new waxwork has been unveiled at Madame Tussaud’s in New York, reports Broadway World.

“As part of the festivities, Madame Tussauds New York is also encouraging guests to wish Marilyn a Happy Birthday! Guests who follow and tweet @nycwax and @MarilynMonroe using the hash-tag, #HappyBirthdayMarilyn have a chance to win a Marilyn Prize Pack. Four winners will be randomly selected from eligible tweets on June 4th. Each prize pack will include Marilyn collector’s items and four tickets to Madame Tussauds New York.”


Digicon Plans ‘Virtual Marilyn’ Gig

Following the controversial recent ‘hologram’ Tupac Shakur show, Digicon Media are planning a similar event featuring Marilyn – but her estate have not yet granted permission, according to the Hollywood Reporter. (Personally, I hope it doesn’t happen – I’m far more interested in the true MM than any cyber approximation.)

“The Hollywood Reporter has learned that a ‘live’ Marilyn Monroe concert is being planned to take place before year’s end with the working title Virtual Marilyn Live — A Musical Celebration of the Birth of the Pop Icon. The concert, which has yet to secure a venue (organizers also plan to stream it on the web), will feature the projected blond bombshell singing and interacting alongside live music stars. Becky Altringer, managing director and co-founder of Digicon Media, the company doing the planning, says the event will employ the technology used at Coachella to launch virtual Marilyn’s new career as ‘a performer, spokesperson, cultural pundit and computer avatar.’

The potential new revenue stream from live holograms could boost an already lucrative business for the estates of some of the most iconic dead celebrities. Jackson raked in $170 million in 2011, according to Forbes. Presley took home $55 million. Monroe, despite having died of an apparent drug overdose nearly 50 years ago, didn’t do badly at all with $27 million. ‘I would say there could be an uptick [in revenue],’ says Mark Roesler, head of CMG Worldwide, an Indiana-based agency representing the estates of stars including Andy Kaufman and Natalie Wood. ‘Whether that is 10 or 30 or 40 percent is hard to tell, but it will be an uptick.’

Despite the enthusiasm, however, it’s far from settled what rights are needed to pull off hologram spectacles.

To adapt a performance from an existing video work, all that is typically required is a copyright on the video. But, potentially, more rights are needed for hologram performances: In many states, including California, celebrities also hold valuable ‘rights of publicity,’ which allow them to protect their images, voices and likenesses from exploitation without consent.

Has a movie star who signed a broad contract given up rights to stop a hologram? Actors and musicians usually allow studios and record labels to use their images to promote a film or album forever. Reality TV stars hand over to producers pretty much all of their rights for a chance to become famous. Some lawyers therefore believe that most existing contracts give studios the rights to create holograms if the technology merely modifies a work covered by a contract. And there are exceptions to publicity rights. They often don’t cover celebrities (like Monroe) who didn’t live in a state with such protections at the time of their death. The law also allows ‘fair use’ for new works that are ‘transformative,’ meaning they use a small amount of a celebrity’s image as part of a larger spectacle.

The coming Monroe concert could signal the type of legal fights to come.

Digicon, which says it has been developing avatars and ‘synthespians’ since 1995, is not working with the Monroe estate, as Coachella producers did with Shakur’s family. The company owns certain copyrights pertaining to Monroe, including a recent grant on her computer-generated persona, and Altringer says that might be enough. ‘We will probably end up cooperating with them, but only when they come to us,’ she explains. ‘We aren’t in a rush to deal with them because they [own] only marketing rights to old photos for merchandise. We will have our own rights for the living virtual Marilyn, who is the pop icon today.’

A rep for Monroe’s estate couldn’t be reached for comment, but it has brought several lawsuits against those who have used her image without permission. Jonathan Faber, chief executive of Luminary Group, has managed deceased celebrity estates including those of Ella Fitzgerald, Ruth and, formerly, Monroe. He says he’s unsure how courts would interpret the issue but adds he wouldn’t ‘hesitate to bring a case’ against someone who used one of his client’s images to create a touring hologram.”

‘Blondes’ – and More – on Blu-Ray

Fox Home Entertainment have confirmed plans to release Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return and There’s No Business Like Show Business on Blu-Ray, due July 31, reports HighDefDiscNews.

Earlier this month, ES Updates reported that Blondes, Millionaire, plus The Seven Year Itch and Some Like it Hot will also feature in Blu-Ray on a Forever Marilyn Boxset, due on July 23.

UPDATE: Broadway World has reported on further titles included in the Forever Marilyn Blu-Ray collection, available in July. (Not sure if this is the same box-set listed on HMV and Play in the UK, but it has the same name and cover artwork.)

“The collection features some of her most – beloved films including, ‘The Misfits,’ ‘Some Like It Hot,’ ‘How To Marry a Millionaire,’ ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,’ ‘Seven Year Itch,’ ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ and ‘River of No Return.’ ”

Elizabeth Avedon Interviews Schiller

Lawrence Schiller spoke to curator Elizabeth Avedon recently:

“In 1972, when I did the Marilyn book with Norman Mailer’s text and twenty-four photographers, I discovered that photographers were just mechanics with Marilyn. You put her in front of the camera; she knew exactly what she was doing. When Dick Avedon photographed her, he did those intimate portraits of her, but then he did her vamping all the other women of the world; you know Marilyn knew how to pose. I think she was different people to different photographers. She reinvented herself depending upon who was shooting her. Take Milton Greene’s pictures of her in the black. That’s him recreating the Marlene Dietrich pictures that he did, that’s Marilyn Monroe taking it a step further. Yes, you could play music; yes, you could fill her up with Dom Pérignon; and yes, photographers had to know lighting; but you got to tell Marilyn Monroe what to do? No way!

Marilyn was right there, right in your face. You could really feel the pores on her skin. Some people when you photograph them, their skin becomes for lack of a better word, dead; there’s a flatness to it. There was never a flatness to Marilyn Monroe’s skin. It was alive. She was constantly alive. She could look anyway she wanted. She certainly had professional makeup people, but I saw her doing her own makeup many times.

I think there are probably some unedited Marilyn somewhere. As an example in the new book, there are at least thirty images that came from the shooting for Look Magazine. I’m not exaggerating, until last year I had never looked at that shooting since the day the film was sent into Look magazine and Marilyn approved the contact sheets. They went into the Look Library, I owned the copyright. Look ran one picture of mine, some with Bob Vose, some with Guy Villet and John Bryson, who was a God to me. I just never looked at it. Now I look at it and I come up with this image, the first picture I ever shot of her. This picture was never published; it’s on the cover of the Talese book. It comes from a contact sheet she killed all except the one frame…Over fifty-two years I never looked at this contact sheet.

In those days, if you sold a picture for a cover for a thousand dollars, that was a lot of money; so a spread for Life Magazinefor six or seven thousand dollars, that’s a lot of money. The American Society of Magazine Photographers day rate was $100. a day in those days, so when we did like $80,000. worth of sales off basically one days shooting, next to David Douglas Duncan’s pictures of Picasso, probably the highest amount generated from one days worth of shooting. If you have exclusivity, you’re able to control the market.

I never even looked at the Marilyn pictures as anything artistic. I remember the thing that really blew me away, I had this image I took of Buster Keaton and one day I walked into Sammy Davis, Jr.’s home and there it was framed on the wall in his den. I just looked at it on the wall like a piece of art. It was the first time I ever realized that my pictures were something more than just that.”

Larry Schiller’s Best Shot

Writing for The Guardian, Lawrence Schiller picked this shot from the pool scene in Something’s Got to Give as his personal favourite.

“When she jumped into the water with her bathing suit on, I looked at her as if she were an athlete. My adrenaline was going. She was moving so quickly there wasn’t time to focus the camera, so I had to anticipate what she would do next. In a lot of my pictures of Marilyn, her body is always to one side, because I needed to have room for what she might do with the rest of the shot. This was always my favourite. I still get a little laugh inside me when I look at it.

When the shoot was over, I rang the magazine and it hit me: wow, she did it! I realised at the same moment how desperate she was. When she had nothing left, to prove that she could still get more publicity than anybody else, out came the birthday suit again.

Marilyn approved certain pictures, and they went all over the world. I had no ethical qualms about that; she could have changed her mind. But I had no sense of history and threw the rest away.

She was fired from the film and died several months later. I couldn’t believe it. I rushed to her house, then the mortuary and went into journalistic mode. I was there to capture events. A photographer owes it to history not to get emotionally involved. My 10-year-old daughter said of this picture, ‘It says everything but shows nothing.’ Even a child could work out the innocence and desperation it captures.”

Marilyn & Me launched this week at New York’s Taschen Bookstore. MM fan Edgar Freire attended, and took photos.

While signing books, Schiller told the New York Daily News,  ‘I photographed some women who were extraordinary — but nobody that could turn it on like a light switch as Marilyn did. All you had to do was absorb and preserve what Marilyn was doing, and you had great images.’

Larry Schiller has also been interviewed for TV’s Today show. You can watch the video now at MSNBC.

Slade, De Morgoli Photos in Paris

Marilyn photographed by Paul Slade at the New York premiere of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl,’ 1957

A small selection of photos of Marilyn by Paul Slade and Nick de Morgoli, from the archives of Paris Match, are currently on display at the Opéra Gallery on the Rue Saint-Honoré.

“Paul Slade (1924–1979) was born in Brooklyn and spent twenty-five years at the New York bureau. He was the perfect New York reporter, marking his territory and making way for no one. His real passion was boxing, and he took several beautiful photographs of Cassius Clay.

Nick de Morgoli (1916–2004) came to America in 1948 and started working as a circus photographer. In 1951, he moved into the recently opened Paris Match New York bureau on 2nd avenue. He photographed Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe.

These five limited-edition photos, numbered 1 to 10 and printed on 150 x 100 cm silver paper from the original negatives, are being sold for 10,000€ per print.”

Read full report here.

Arthur Miller: Beyond Marilyn’s Shadow

Rebecca Miller, daughter of Arthur, is a writer, director, and actress. She was born a month after Marilyn’s death, to Arthur and his third wife, Inge Morath.

Rebecca spoke to the New York Post recently about the way some of her father’s plays are overshadowed by the memory of Marilyn.

“As for After the Fall and Finishing the Picture — Miller’s two plays about his second wife, Marilyn Monroe — Rebecca remains wary.

‘Anything that’s got the shadow of Marilyn in it — even something that has just a slight taste of her — gets overshadowed by her,’ she says.

Finishing the Picture, Miller’s final play, is about the making of Monroe’s last movie, The Misfits, for which he wrote the screenplay. There has been just one production, at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2004.

It’s a fascinating story with some terrific parts for larger-than-life stage actors. ‘But I’m holding back on it,’ says Rebecca. ‘I’m guarding it. Sometimes it’s good to hold.’

She calls After the Fall, which Miller wrote in 1963, shortly after Monroe died, ‘a wonderful play that unfortunately in his time got completely read as an autobiographical work about her. You can’t pretend she’s not there, but at the same time it is about other things. There are meditations on the Holocaust and how we all have murder inside us.’

Rebecca says she’d like to see a production that ‘skews the play’ away from the Monroe character.

Which probably means a production with a major star in the male lead.

‘If the right person comes along, I’d certainly consider it,’ she says. ‘But nobody’s asking to do it.’

Now that’s a challenge a great actor — Kevin Spacey, perhaps? — should pick up.”

‘Norma Jeane, Enlightened’

‘Angel of the Ocean’ by Andre de Dienes

Joanne De Simone‘s play, Norma Jeane, Enlightened, will be staged at The Drama Bookshop, New York, on August 2, reports Broadway World.

“On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe, screen goddess, was found dead under uncertain circumstances. Deemed a suicide, many – to this day – believe she was murdered. Celebrated author Joanne de Simone’s riveting play shows that she was indeed murdered … and Hollywood is the culprit. The play finds Marilyn, seconds after her demise on a beach with a lone figure who takes her on the kind of journey one takes only after the final curtain comes down.

This deep character study of one the most enigmatic individuals of the 20th century features Gloria Jung, Holly Elizabeth O’Brien, Jack Dilday, Michael Curcio, Bob Cencioni, Martha Ghio, Eric Kuzmuth, and Danny McDermott.

A prolific writer, de Simone’s latest play, Judy’s Dead, took first prize in last year’s Writer’s Digest Stage Play competition; her one-act, The Suicide Angel, has been optioned as a feature film; and her novel about life in the big city as seen through feline eyes, The Metro Cats: Life in the Core of The Big Apple, is being developed for an animated feature. When not churning out great works of fiction, Ms. de Simone works as a columnist, film historian, and editor.”