+ Elijah Wood whips RCAD into hobbit frenzy
Unless you were living under a rock last week, you probably noticed Elijah Wood was in town.
The actor’s mug was all over the Facebook pages of Sarasota shutterbugs, including mine. I couldn’t resist.
The latest A-list guest to participate in Ringling College of Art and Design’s digital filmmaking program, Wood brought his Middle Earth charm to the RCAD campus.
During his stay Jan. 23 and Jan. 24, he critiqued the rough cuts of student films and took part in a Q&A session with college President Dr. Larry Thompson.
Granted, I didn’t attend last year’s Martha Stewart tête-à-tête, but I have been to enough of these things to know that the Wood crowd was larger and more star-struck.
There was a Team Elijah sign. Hobbit groupies had gathered outside hoping for autographs.
Wood was gracious, eloquent and teeny-tiny in person. During his Q&A chat, he revealed that he got the part of Frodo by filming an audition tape on VHS (remember those?) dressed in full hobbit regalia purchased from a L.A. costume shop.
“You’d probably see the video now and be like, ‘How did he get the role?’” Wood said. “According to (director) Peter (Jackson), he saw the tape and was convinced. I don’t know how.”
Wood, who currently stars in the curious TV series, “Wilfred,” on FX, called his experience on the “Lord of the Rings” set as one of the most satisfying experiences of his life.
Perhaps he’ll add visiting Sarasota to that list. In the middle of the discussion, the crowd collectively sang “Happy Birthday” to the actor. According to Wood, who turned 31 on Saturday, it was the biggest group of people to ever sing him the song.
+ Sons of Hippies set to rock Ringling Museum
The Ringling Museum meant business when spokespeople said they were reaching out to young people.
The latest attempt at bringing young blood to the 100-year-old museum launches Feb. 2, with music by local bands Sons of Hippies, Red Feather and Physical Plant. Dubbed “Ringling Underground,” the series infuses live music, art and pop culture into a block-party setting.
Held in the museum courtyard from 7 to 10 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, “Ringling Underground” is a nice compliment to the more baby-boomer-friendly “Ringling by the Bay,” which returns Feb. 16 with the 1960s cover band, Yesterdayze.
“Ringling by the Bay” is held in the Bolger Campiello from 5 to 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month.
So, if first Thursdays cater to college kids and young professionals and third Thursdays cater to boomers, then second Thursdays can only mean one thing: a children’s music series.
+ Ringling College alum nabs Oscar nomination
Tired of hearing about how awesome Ringling College is? Sorry, but I’ve got more exciting news to share from Sarasota’s favorite overachieving art school.
RCAD alum and trustee Brandon Oldenburg, the founder and vice president of Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, La., has received an Oscar nomination for his animated short, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.”
The film, which functions as an animated bedtime story for kids, is described as a “love letter to books and the curative power of story.”
Oldenburg, who graduated from Ringling in 1995 with an illustration degree, has worked with Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks Animations, through which his company’s most recent project, “Rise of the Guardians,” is in production and scheduled for release next fall.
The 84th Academy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 26, on ABC. Tune in to see if Moonbot takes home the gold.
‘The Last Romance’: It should come as no surprise that Florida Studio Theatre’s latest mainstage production, about an 80-year-old widower who gets a second chance at love, is a hit with Sarasota audiences. The touching comedy by Tony Award-winning playwright Joe DiPietro was written for actress Marion Ross (“Happy Days”) and her longtime partner, Paul Michael. It opened in December and was extended through the end of February. For tickets, call 366-9000 or visit floridastudiotheatre.org.
Jill Sobule at Asolo Rep: If you never got a chance to hear Jill Sobule sing “I Kissed a Girl” back when it was an edgy little novelty song in the ’90s, now is your chance. The multitalented Sobule, who composed the music for the Asolo Rep’s “Yentl,” is giving a one-night-only concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 13, at the Asolo Rep’s Mertz Theatre. Her show is billed as an “emotional rollercoaster” — a mix of comedy and storytelling with a few ditties from “Yentl.” There will be a reception with the artist following the performance. Tickets are $15 to $50. For information, call 351-8000 or visit asolorep.org.
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