[Pearl Bailey]

Saturday, January 29, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses Pearl Bailey and two of her current projects: the operetta "House of Flowers" and the film "Carmen Jones."

He speaks very negatively of "Carmen Jones." Though he views the opera Carmen as a success, he views the film as very unsuccessful derivative. Also, he suspects aspects of the show might be "insulting to the Negros." He speaks more highly of "House of Flowers."

He goes on to talk about film societies in Denver and Boulder, Colorado, and describes how these smaller towns can support such a film society. Colorado Springs, by contrast, does not have such an interest in the lively arts because they have poor television reception and "just don't know what is going on."

He speaks about the centralization of the arts - particularly television - which is mostly produced in a very few cities. He also mentions that radio is weakening because it is so centralized and lacks a strong regional production.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70764
Municipal archives id: LT6413

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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