Quick Takes: New Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences database

If you can’t come to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library to do research on production design, the library’s database can come to you.

On Tuesday, the academy announced the online launch of the Production Art Database. The database is a trove of more than 5,300 items from the library’s vast collections including costume and production design drawings, animation art, storyboards and paintings. Half of the records include images.

Among the highlights in the database are animation cels for the 1949 Oscar-winning Pepe Le Pew cartoon “For Scent-imental Reasons” and production designer Jeannine Oppewall’s drawing of the Victory Motel for 1997’s “L.A. Confidential.”

— Susan King


Playwrights convene in Ojai

The annual Ojai Playwrights Conference brings together dramatists from around the country to develop new works for the stage. This year’s gathering will feature plays in progressby Bill Cain, Danai Gurira, Sarah Treem and more.

In addition, the conference will present a new musical in development titled “Black Sun” by Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz and playwright Stephen Belber.

This year’s event is scheduled to begin Aug. 2 and will feature public presentations of the works from Aug. 9 to 14.

“Black Sun” (Aug. 11) is a musical that follows eight New Yorkers who must deal with the sudden disappearance of sunlight from their existence.

This marks the first stage musical for Duritz, who has been the lead singer for Counting Crows since the band was formed in 1991. Belber is a playwright whose best-known work is the drama “Tape.”

Two recent dramas that were developed at Ojai have gone on to receive acclaim in New York — “The Mother ... With the Hat” by Stephen Adly Guirgis and “Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz.

—David Ng


School is named for author

This fall, elementary and middle school students will walk through the doors of the brand new Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy in Echo Park. Although it’s not the first school in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be named for an author, the honor is rare — there are schools in the district named for Washington Irving, Robert Frost and Maurice Sendak among others.

Sandra Cisneros is the author of “Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories” and “The House on Mango Street.”

Her family migrated from Mexico to Chicago, where she was born in 1954. Cisneros was awarded a MacArthur “genius” fellowship in 1995. She lives in Texas and is involved in two foundations that foster creative writing.


Parents and administrators involved in the Camino Nuevo charter school, which is part of LAUSD, put forward her name for the new K-8 academy slated to open in September. In June, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education decided to change the name of Central Region Elementary School No. 14 to Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy.

The school will be located near Sunset and Alvarado in Echo Park.

—Carolyn Kellogg

Short to appear on ‘Mother’


Martin Short, who portrayed numerous wacky characters on “SCTV” and his Jiminy Glick series on Comedy Central, is joining the cast of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother.”

Short is slated to play the boss of Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) at an environmental law film during a multi-episode arc.

Though mostly known for his comedic turns, Short last season played a dramatic role on “Damages” and has also done dramatic work on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

—Greg Braxton


‘Jerry Springer’ draws protests

“Jerry Springer: The Opera,” the tongue-in-cheek musical comedy about the notorious talk-show host, has been turning heads and ruffling feathers ever since it was first produced in London in 2003.

In anticipation of the show’s belated Southern California debut in July, some Catholics are protesting what they regard as a blasphemous stage production that disrespects God and the Catholic faith.

The musical, written by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, is scheduled to begin performances July 9 at the small Chance Theater in Anaheim. The show follows a fictionalized Springer as he interviews an array of grotesque guests on his TV show. After he’s accidentally shot, Springer travels through the afterlife, where he meets a variety of religious figures including Satan, Jesus and God.


A national group called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property has launched an email campaign against the production, encouraging people to send emails to the theater. On its website, the group objects to the musical’s “profanity, nudity and blasphemous content.”

It also objects to the show’s description of Jesus as “the hypocrite son of the fascist tyrant on high.”

The Chance Theater said it has received more than 1,500 emails protesting the musical production.

—David Ng