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  • "Nixon in China", which was shown on April 15, 1988. Peter Sellars directed his usual wonderful cast of James Maddalena as Richard Nixon and Sandford Sylvan as Chou En-lai in John Adams' superb opera about Nixon's visit to China in February, 1972. (Alice Goodman's libretto was sculpted from the actual words of the historical characters.) One of the nicer touches was that Walter Cronkite, who followed the Nixon entourage, gave the historical grounding for the opera before the performance and then during the intermission.

    The music is lyrical and incantatory and the entire cast does it justice. And the staging!... I vividly remember the end of Act 1, when Nixon and Chou toast each other's countries ("Gambei") and as they clink glasses a score of newspaper photographers snap their pictures -- and then all the house lights went out! Wowzy-wow-wow! And Nixon's entrance, as he walks out of a huge mock-up of Air Force One and gives his stiff arms-up salute made me applaud wildly, and I am a flaming leftist.

    Ah, if only this were on DVD. Or even VHS. It's unfortunate that it can't be seen at all. After I emailed WNET, the original sponsors of "Great Performances", I received a response that said that they did not own the copyright and weren't really sure who did!

    Consider this posting a cry in the wilderness -- please, someone make this work of art available to us.
  • This 1983 Broadway revival of YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, which played 312 performances (and 7 previews) at the Plymouth and Royale Theatres may not have even been filmed originally for the Great Performances series which to our great benefit frequently (aways?) rebroadcasts distinguished productions initially aired elsewhere. The opening credits clearly indicate that this document was initially a Showtime (cable network) presentation. For those who SHOULD be searching out the copyright holders to get the property back out to the public with the relatively excellent film and hoards of second tier productions, this production (which reunited the amazing cast of the award winning 1972 production of Eugene O'Neill's MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, Jason Robards and Colleen Dewhurst) was first put out on VHS by Vestron Video based in Stamford Ct. and later (at least on my copy on inferior tape stock which did not hold the sound well) by Video Treasures, Inc. based in Hauppauge, NY.. The copyright notice on both packages says the rights were held by the Broadway Producer, Ellen M. Krass Productions. I fully agree with the earlier poster, please, please, PLEASE get this back into print! I'll be first in line to purchase a copy for my personal collection and my university's library.
  • "Great Performances" is the longest running performing arts anthology on television. It is part of the PBS tradition of bringing the arts to viewers free of charge.