; Our paper officially carries a publish date of Thursday, but this week we were compelled to share a couple of Wednesday-before happenings, since we know that our paper unofficially hits the streets on Wednesday. And while we're on the subject of late-breaking press releases, keep in mind that we always want to know what your group is up to. Send alerts to arts@ ;, or call me at (407) 377-0400, ext. 216.

;; We need to hear from you.

;;— Lindy T. Shepherd

;;Bill Moyers' Journal:


;Buying the War


; You already know the basics of Bill Moyers' Buying the War – the Bush administration beat the drum to convince Americans that attacking Iraq was necessary and, with a lapdog media acting as enablers, got what it wanted. What Moyers achieves so effectively in this 90 minutes is a compilation of the most egregious examples of media complicity and cowardice. Seeing it in one sitting delivers a devastating impact.


; Moyers points out something you might not know: There was thorough reporting that took place during the run into war, and politicians spoke out, but their words were either ignored, buried or drowned out because much of the media feared being seen as unpatriotic. Instead, newspapers and TV news ate up the faulty intelligence and outright lies, and relied on the word of official sources. ("We know they have weapons of mass destruction," defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Sept. 26, 2002.) A depressing instance of the media's collective failure was the spate of editorials that supported Secretary of State Colin Powell's Feb. 5, 2003, testimony before the United Nations Security Council, when he made what many newspaper editorial writers called "an ironclad case" for war.


; Nonetheless, some reporters and commentators remained skeptical. According to Associated Press reporter Charles Hanley, though, his editors balked every time he wrote that, despite the administration's claims, no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. Phil Donahue said MSNBC told him he couldn't have a liberal on his show unless he had two conservatives. Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, who worked for the Washington bureau of Knight Ridder newspapers, questioned the administration's claims from the beginning. They didn't believe Saddam Hussein would put a biological weapons facility under his home, as The New York Times reported. So while those two reporters were writing that Hussein wasn't after nuclear weapons, their paper was running headlines like "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-bomb Parts."

;; Why didn't anyone listen? Because the Times is the nation's paper of record and Knight Ridder didn't have a newspaper in New York or Washington. In fact, some Knight Ridder newspapers didn't even run their reporters' stories at all.

;; I don't want to play conspiracy theorist here, but consider something that goes unsaid in Buying the War: Knight Ridder did the best reporting; Knight Ridder no longer exists. Donahue questioned the war; Donahue's show was canceled. Today, the media, particularly newspapers, are retrenching. We're getting more citizen journalists, commentators and he-said/she-said stories, and fewer reporters vetting the truth. You think the powers that be are sad about this? If you do, I've got a war to sell you. (airs 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Thursday, April 26, on WMFE-TV;


;;— Marc D. Allan

;;Elizabeth Friedmann

; I like it when I come across something, someone seemingly by accident. A few years ago, I read The Art of Hunger: Essays, Prefaces, Interviews, The Red Notebook, by one of my favorite writers, Paul Auster. He wrote an essay about an often-overlooked writer, Laura Riding Jackson. She was a Modernist poet, feminist and individual. Then I found out that she spent the last half of her long life in Wabasso, Fla., near Sebastian Inlet. Jackson died at age 90 in 1991. Auster read at her funeral, along with legendary poet John Ashbery and Elizabeth Friedmann. Friedmann went on to write a biography of Jackson, A Mannered Grace: The Life of Laura (Riding) Jackson (2005) and has edited The Laura Riding Jackson Reader (2005). Mark Jacobs, who wrote the preface for a revised, centennial edition of The Poems of Laura Riding (2001), will join Friedmann in a talk about Jackson's life. (6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at Urban Think!; free; 407-650-8004;


;;— Pat Greene

;;Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

;; Theatre Downtown is offering an encore production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a show it first presented five years ago. The Southern Gothic tale of domestic intrigue is directed again by Frank Hilgenberg, whose revamped cast acquits itself admirably, delighting in the play's whirlpool of swirling emotional currents and old-fashioned family catfights. The play's plot concerns Maggie (Jamie-Lyn Hawkins) and her boozy, ex-jock husband, Brick (Daniel Cooksley), as they battle one another within the cage of their faltering marriage. Simultaneously, Maggie is attempting to position Brick to inherit the bulk of his father's west Tennessee plantation. Working against them is Brick's older brother, Gooper (Dean Walkuski), and his wife, Mae (Ashley Hoven), who are likewise poised to pounce upon Big Daddy's estate once the old man succumbs to cancer.


; Hawkins turns in a sexy and intelligent performance as Maggie, the poor Southern girl who is unwilling to give up either the husband she is losing to alcohol or the better life she foresees as heir to the family fortune. She is well-matched by Cooksley's Brick, whose descent into the bottle is believable and sympathetic, insofar as Williams' somewhat artificial storytelling allows. While all the principals, including Caroline Cox as the slightly ditsy Big Momma, perform well, the show ultimately belongs to Jim Cassidy, reprising his role as the larger-than-life Big Daddy. Cassidy's bombastic portrayal carries the evening.


; Even though Cat on a Hot Tin Roof begins to look a little brittle with time – its dated story (awarded a Pulitzer in 1955) lacks the shock value it once boasted – Theatre Downtown has given it another spirited and competent rendition. (8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, through May 12, also 2:30 p.m. April 29 and May 6, at Theatre Downtown; $18, except $10 April 26; 407-841-0083;


;;— Al Krulick



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