Entertainment & Arts

Newsletter: Essential Arts & Culture: Experience L.A. in a fresh way

I've been the arts and culture editor of The Times for five years, a period that stretches roughly from Jeffrey Deitch to Dame Edna, with Pacific Standard Time and CicLAvia, the "Ring" cycle and the Heizer rock, "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" and Benjamin Millepied as mile markers along the way.

I have the enviable job of editing The Times' eminent critics Christopher Knight, Mark Swed, Charles McNulty and Christopher Hawthorne as well as our arts reporting staff. 

You'll learn to see, hear and experience Los Angeles in a fresh way when you read our commentary and reporting about the arts scene. But we don't stop at the borders of Southern California -- we place L.A. in the national and global conversation. I'll be back every week to share essential news from both the local and broader arts world.

Kelly Scott

Inside the L.A. Phil

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is second to none in ambition, and in a series of stories beginning Sunday, you’ll get a look at how that ambition is nurtured and stoked, in a special reporting project.

Credits from top left: Carolyn Cole, Cheryl A. Guerrero, Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Calendar reporter Jeffrey Fleishman, in a unique project, shadowed L.A. Phil CEO Deborah Borda for months. He attended parties for deep-pocketed donors, rehearsals with Gustavo Dudamel and the orchestra. Jeff had access to L.A. Phil planning sessions and socialized at the Hollywood Bowl, access that allowed him to take an unprecedented deep dive into the art and science of the successful modern orchestra. In later stories, Fleishman introduces readers to Philharmonic musicians – along with videos of their music making -- and offers a portrait of one of Dudamel’s passion projects, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. He’ll also explore challenges the orchestra faces in the future. Don't miss the videos, history and interactive exploration of the members of the orchestra on

The Broad to open Sept. 20

Eli and Edythe Broad have picked Sept. 20 as opening day for the Broad, their new museum on Grand Avenue. The striking design by Diller, Scofido + Renfro architects has been rising across 2nd Street from Walt Disney Concert Hall and across Grand from the Colburn School and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Now the scaffolding is down and the museum, which began construction in 2013, will offer museum-goers a one-day look at the building’s main gallery floor on Feb. 15, exhibiting two installations in the space before the interior walls go up. (Visit to make a reservation and buy a $10 ticket.) Read about the museum’s design, revised design, construction and delays on the road to its autumn opening, including a legal battle.

Irish angst on the Westside

Theater critic Charles McNulty considers Conor McPherson the preeminent contemporary Irish playwright and even draws comparisons to Samuel Beckett. McNulty spoke to McPherson when the writer spent some time at Geffen Playhouse with the director and cast of his play “The Night Alive,” which opens there Feb. 11. McPherson is the  author of the plays “The Weir” and “Shining City,” both of which, like “Night Alive,” have been staged in Dublin, New York and L.A. The playwright isn’t precious about his words -- his plays “need all the help they can get,” he says, and he’ll “change the words to what fits best in the actors’ mouths, because it’s much more about their sense of truthfulness.”

A serious side of the Grammys

It may be a footnote to Sunday’s televised extravaganza featuring Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Sam Smith, but Grammy Awards also go to classical recordings and musical soundtrack albums. Familiar names vying for statues this year are John Adams, whose recording of “City Noir” by the St. Louis Symphony is a contender, as well as the Los Angeles-based percussion ensemble Partch. “Aladdin,” "Beautiful,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” as well as a San Francisco Symphony production of “West Side Story” vie for best soundtrack recording. On CBS at 8 p.m.

A short life, a lasting statement

Photographer Brian Weil died at 41, but the work he left behind, based on painstaking and total immersion in the subjects he was shooting, is now on view at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The exhibition shows his images of sex workers, Hasidim, AIDS activists and murder victims. Art critic Christopher Knight writes, "As an artist, he focused his attention on people who function on conventional society's margins, and he set moralizing aside." Through April 18.

Casting coup

Interesting casting news in L.A. theater this week: Laura Linney and Seth Numrich will star in the play “Switzerland” by Joanna Murray-Smith at the Geffen Theater in March. Where to begin with Linney’s credits: The versatile actress starred in TV’s “The Big C,” film’s “You Can Count on Me,” on Broadway in “Time Stands Still” and “The Crucible,” and introduces weekly episodes of “Downton Abbey” for Masterpiece Theater. Numrich is a fascinating, on-the-rise actor, seen in New York in “War Horse” and “Golden Boy,” and on AMC’s Revolutionary War drama “Turn.” In “Switzerland,” Linney plays real-life author Patricia Highsmith of the “Ripley” novels; Numrich is a publishing world emissary sent to extract another book from her.

Looking ahead:

The Los Angeles Opera’s production of composer John Corrigliano’s “Ghosts of Versailles,” directed by Darko Tresnak, opened Saturday night—see The Times review online Sunday and in print Monday.

--Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Darrell Hammond launches a one-man performance piece based on his memoir “God, If You're Not Up There, I'm ... Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem” at the La Jolla Playhouse. The work is directed by the company’s artistic director Christopher Ashley, and Charles McNulty will be there.

--Other openings on L.A. stages include a new Stephen Karam play, “Sons of the Prophet,” at the Blank Theatre and former talk show host Dick Cavett playing himself in “Hellman v. McCarthy,” based on a notorious incident on his show, at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills.

What we're reading:

The subscription model for theater, classical music and other arts performances: It's dead. Until it isn't. From TRG Arts, a blog on cultural consumer behavior. --Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times theater critic.

Given the recent change-over in the congressional majority, I've been re-reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' 2012 essay, "Fear of a Black President,' which won a National Magazine Award. It's as trenchant now as it was then. --Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times art critic.

Los Angeles Times contributor Scott Timberg's new book "Culture Clash," about the decline of what he calls the "creative class," has been stirring things up as reviews appear and Scott talks about it. Here's the Wall Street Journal review.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this newsletter incorrectly spelled the Heizer rock as Heiser.

Follow me on Twitter at @kscottLATArts

Get our daily Entertainment newsletter