The Johnson boy

Tara Thorne is your friendly neighbourhood arts-dope dealer.

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This news dropped just as we were going to print last Wednesday—oh, the trials of living a weekly existence—and though our kudos are late, the sentiment remains the same.

Congratulations to Halifax painter Jonathan Johnson, named a semi-finalist last week in the RBC Painting Competition. The lone Haligonian is up against a wave of Montreal artists in the eastern Canadian sector of the competition, divided into three geographical sections with five nominees each. The winner ($25,000) and two runners-up ($15,000 each) will be chosen in September, when the exhibition begins a five-gallery tour that does not include Halifax.

Johnson, a landscape painter originally from Saint John, is a 2003 NSCAD grad (BFA, Fine Arts) and has recently been exhibited at Gallery Page and Strange in Granville Square.

Nothing rhymes with Siminovitch

In other local national nominee news, theatre vets Denyse Karn and Leigh Ann Vardy—you may remember them from almost every Neptune and Eastern Front production of recent memory, including the current run of Eastern Front’s The Satchmo’ Suite at Neptune, among many, many others—have been nominated for The Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. Thirty-six set, lighting, sound and costume designers from across Canada (Karn does sets and costumes, Vardy lighting) will vie for $100,000, to be awarded in October. The nominees are determined through a cumulative body of their work over the past 10 years.

Film biz = big bucks

For those of you stoked to see Uncle Jesse and ex-Buffy stars drinking among us and pretending like they don’t want to be looked at, this will come as good news: The Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation has announced a 16 percent increase in production in 2005, translating to over $120 million for the province.

“The Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation works hard to promote the province’s reputation as an exceptional film location and it’s paying off with more productions and more jobs for Nova Scotians,” said economic development minister Richard Hurlburt in a statement this week.

No one ever mentions whether the stuff made here is good or not. Don’t forget those stellar made for television films, minister! We can’t wait for the return of Tom Selleck in the latest Jesse Stone MOW, which we hope will feature an appearance by Stone Cold Steve Austin, because that would just obliterate the entire concept of irony right there.

Summer theatre, part 2

Luckily gas has been regulated because it’s time to top up the Smart Car and beetle on down to X-land, where Festival Antigonish opens its 2006 season with the terrific, British, romantic boozefest Educating Rita. Starring Genevieve Steele and directed by the awesome Jean Morpurgo, Rita follows the relationship between a mature student and her tutor. You might remember the 1983 film version starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters, but this will be better, trust us. Check festivalantigonish.com for all the details.

And down at the Chester Playhouse you can catch this weekend’s opening of Berlin to Broadway: The Musical Voyage of Kurt Weill. If you think the title implies much singing, you’re right, and the singers include Martha Irving, Rejean Cournoyer and Cliff Lejeune. Hit chesterplayhouse.ns.ca for ticket info and directions.

Den of reality

CBC Television is holding auditions on Thursday, July 6, for its new reality show—sorry, “factual entertainment”—called Dragons’ Den. If you are an entrepreneur, you’re invited to head over to the Halifax Shopping Centre from 9am-1pm and pitch your best business ideas to the Dragons, who, we have it on good but anonymous authority, are not real dragons. If you have a TV-ready idea—which means it probably doesn’t have to be good, just watchable—you could very well be part of this new series, airing in the fall. Don’t bother pitching hamburger earmuffs, because you’ll never figure out the pickle matrix. Also, we would like to suggest to the Ceeb that the Dragons’ catchphrase be “You’re on fire!” because Trump hasn’t trademarked that one yet. (You’re welcome.)

Are you on fire? email: tarat@thecoast.ca

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