Friday, December 3, 2010

Steve Martin Starring in Rashomon

By now you've heard that Steve Martin's appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York on Monday night didn't go so well. Martin was interviewed on stage by Deborah Solomon, who interviews famous folks for The New York Times Magazine and has also written extensively about art. Martin is an art collector and his new novel, An Object of Beauty, is set in the art world, so it seems like a natural, right?

But halfway through the session, a representative of the Y walked on stage and handed Solomon a note suggesting that she ask more questions about Martin's career as an actor and entertainer, and less about art. When Solomon read the note aloud to the audience, they cheered.

The next day, the Y offered refunds to everyone who attended the event (including those watching via satellite in remote locations), saying that "We, too, were disappointed with the evening."

In short, this was a disaster on par with the Spider-Man musical. Think of it as Steve Martin: Turn Off the Art. Or more appropriately, think of it as a spin on the classic film Rashomon, because no one can agree on who is to blame. Solomon and Martin seem to think the Y was out of line for forcing the conversation toward more celebrity/pop culture topics. The Y says they expected a more rounded discussion of Martin's career instead of an in-depth discussion of art. And some people who were actually at the event blamed Solomon for forcing the direction of the discussion and asking granular questions about Martin's novel, which presumably most of the audience hadn't read.

What we need is for video of the event to surface so we can know the truth. Kind of like the Zapruder film—we all know how that settled things once and for all regarding the JFK assassination. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any cell phone video available—the event was so tedious, even cell phones went into sleep mode.

Meanwhile, it's clear from Martin's Twitter stream that he is still miffed at the 92nd Street Y. It wouldn't surprise me if he canceled his Y membership altogether and joined Curves instead.

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