Alice Jones' Arts Diary: Never one to shy away from a campaign, Michael Moore is embarking on a new mission: to save cinema itself

 

Next month, the director-provocateur will stage his eighth film festival in his hometown, Traverse City, Michigan.

This year, the programme features 91 indie, foreign and documentary movies as well as talks by Susan Sarandon and Wim Wenders. His commitment to the arthouse cause doesn't end there. In 2007, the Capitalism: A Love Story director bought his boarded-up local cinema for $1 and transformed it into a state-of-the-art indie palace. "I had this epiphany. What would a movie theatre look like if it were designed, built and run by people who actually make the movies?" he blogged this week. "In no other art form does the artist NOT have a say in how their art is presented to the public." The Historic State Theatre is run not-for-profit by volunteers, shows "only good movies", and charges just $2 for popcorn. And, "if we catch you talking on your cell phone during the movie, you will be banned for life." Since opening, it has become one of the largest-grossing arthouses in North America. Clearly, a model worth following, not to mention a heartwarming story. Someone should make a film about it.

Good Lords – but couldn't this search have been easier?

Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Webber's new ITV search for a West End leading man, has kicked off in earnest. But might the composer have saved himself time and money by simply going to the theatre to scout his talent rather than appearing on an expensive television talent show? Of the final 10 looking to land the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar, half already have West End roles under their belts. Roger Wright played the original Simba in The Lion King; David Hunter did a long stint in the ensemble of One Man, Two Guvnors at the National and in the West End last year; Nathan James has appeared in Copacabana and Thriller Live; Niall Sheehy, who auditioned for Lloyd Webber's Joseph talent search, Any Dream Will Do in 2007, left the Spamalot tour for the new television show. And Jeff Anderson has gone one better than them all, having already played the coveted Jesus role at the Grand Opera House in Belfast in November last year.

A hole new experience for the Fringe: but book early to get a look-in

Three's a trend, as they say, so following on from Mark Wallinger's peepshow Diana artwork at the National Gallery and, umm, Peep Show, the Channel 4 sitcom, comes Peep, the theatre experience. Three 20-minute plays about sex will be performed in a specially constructed cabin (head for the pink neon sign) in the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh in August. Audiences will take their seats in one of 12 individual booths and watch the plays, written by Leo Butler, Pamela Carter and Kefi Chadwick, through a two-way mirror peephole, listening into the script and soundtrack on headphones. "It's the only show at the Fringe where the audience can see the actors but not vice versa," I'm told.

Jokes aren't funny anymore for Russell

He's the face of the BBC's bold new venture into stand-up, Live at the Electric. So it was a little surprising to hear Russell Kane, winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2010, doing down his art-form at Latitude Festival. In the literary tent to talk about his novel (having done a set in the comedy tent the day before), he claimed, "I've never bought a comedy ticket. I'm not really into it. I prefer theatre." Good job not everyone's like that, eh, Russell?

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