The Critics: American graffiti

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Indy Lifestyle Online
1 EVERY YEAR, the dismayingly clueless Grammy Awards struggle to remain relevant (it's not easy to recover from declaring Milli Vanilli Best New Artist). It's never a pretty sight. This year, we're at least being entertained by a very public Grammy-related feud, featuring bruised egos and spectacular displays of pettiness. It all started last month when New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani was first invited to announce the nominations, and then somehow un-invited. The mayor's office says that when an aide asked for an explanation, Michael Greene, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, unleashed a stream of profanities at her. The mayor took time out from his busy schedule - waging trans-atlantic battles over Winnie the Pooh, appearing in drag on Saturday Night Live, loudly reiterating his tough-on-crime credentials (his latest target: jaywalkers) - to throw a tantrum. "Abuse me and see if you get away with it," Giuliani taunted. City officials in Philadelphia, Nashville, and Los Angeles are now said to be wooing the awards show. Responding to the news, a still-smarting Giuliani snapped: '"Any city trying to snatch the Grammys from New York is welcome to them."

1 MARK RAVENHILL's Shopping and Fucking has arrived off-Broadway, and it's causing a minor stir. People call it "the play that dare not speak its full name" - among other euphemisms. The New York Times's censored version is Shopping and ... , though in his review, critic Ben Brantley described the missing gerund as "a form of a much-used but still widely unprintable Anglo-Saxon verb referring to carnal intercourse". The Daily News refers to the play as "Shopping and"; the New York Post goes the farthest, with "Shopping and F---ing". "Most people won't say it," a manager at the New York Theater told the E! Channel. "They'll say, 'I want Shopping and ...' We just sell the tickets," he added.

1 Titanic became the third-highest grossing movie in American history last weekend (only ET and Star Wars have earned more). As it chugs towards a possible $1 billion worldwide take and a probable Oscar sweep (not to mention an inevitable told-you-so speech from the unbearably smug James "Size does matter" Cameron), the chasm between enthusiasts and detractors continues to widen. This week, the New York Observer ran a feature headlined "New York's Streetwise Adolescents Drowning in their Titanic Tears" (do teens have nothing better to do?). Expect a glut of big, dumb movies that cost far more than they should. As Cameron predicted to Entertainment Weekly, "In another five years, $200 million movies will be no big deal."

DENNIS LIM

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