In the Sunday January 4 New York Times Arts & Leisure section, film critic Manohla Dargis noted that the film industry has to some degree become integrated with the television industry. At first blush, this would seem to be a bad thing, as least for those who think film is art and television is commerce (and who accordingly may have the foresight to object to the term "film industry.")
(A minor digression on art and commerce: I once read that the actor Robert Vaughn had two photos of himself in his dressing room. One showed him as Hamlet and was labeled "art." The other showed him as Napoleon Solo (a character in a very popular 1960s television spy spoof) and was labeled "commerce.")
Getting back to Ms.Dargis, she noted that Warner Brothers no longer has an art house division. However, this is where the bad thing may turn out not to be so bad. Time Warner owns both Warner Brothers and HBO, which produced what Ms. Dargis described as the "superb" miniseries "Olive Kitteridge," with Frances McDormand. (For the purists among you who are unacquainted with HBO, it is a television station. For those who are unacquainted with the term "miniseries," it also refers to something which is found on television.)
So now we have a respected film critic implying that television can substitute for the "art" that film has, at least to the extent that Warner Brothers represents film, abandoned. Most members of The Theater Project's audiences know that Mark Spina, our artistic director, has expressed some tongue in cheek sentiments about television, specifically suggesting that any audience member who owned one should throw if out of a second story window.
Which leads me to ask why anyone devoted to theater should care about whether film can be commerce or television can be art. Theater, after all, uses no screen at all. You don't hear people talk about the "theater industry." (They use a euphemism, "Broadway.") Dargis ends her comment with the statement that "really -- the best actress Oscar should go to Ms.McDormand." At least she didn't say the best actress Tony.
-- David Harris