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You Will Believe: Hyprov is Great Fun!

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Asad Mecci and Colin Mochrie ©Aaron Cobb

Look into my eyes. Believe what I tell you. You will see the funniest show in New York City if you go see Hyprov: Improv Under Hypnosis at the Daryl Roth Theater in Manhattan.

Left:Taylor Schon Right: Matthew Shahlyng

Hyprov: Improv Under Hypnosis is a touring show out of Canada that combines hypnosis by hypnotist Asad Mecci, and a constantly changing troupe of volunteer hypnotized improvisers, drawn from the audience at every show, under the brilliant stewardship of improv comedy icon Colin Mochrie. Mochrie is best known for his many years on the hit improv comedy TV show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Asad Mecci and Hyprovisers HYPROV Photo by Carol Rosegg

By themselves, hypnosis and improvisational comedy are two of the most interesting things you could go see, regardless, but put together like this, with writing assistance from Bob Martin, co-creator of “The Drowsy Chaparone,” and director Stan Zimmerman, who wrote for both “Roseanne” and “The Golden Girls,” Hyprov combines the best elements of both a hypnosis show and improvisational comedy into an evening which is a non-stop laughathon of creative confusion.

Colin Mochrie, Asad Mecci, and Hyprovisers HYPROV Photo by Carol Rosegg

In every hypnosis show, volunteers are first induced into a state of suggestibility by the hypnotist. Rather than being asleep, as many think, hypnotized subjects are always awake, and just concentrating so intently on what they are told that they cease to be aware of anything else. When given suggestions by the hypnotist, they respond automatically from their subconscious mind without critical thinking. That’s when the entertainment happens.

Volunteers are typically first asked to recall sensory experiences, as in feeling too hot or too cold. Then, as their hypnotic state deepens, they may experience amnesia, like forgetting their own name. Finally, at the deepest level, volunteers become “artificial somnambulists,” or sleepwalkers, who see an imagined reality in their own minds.

Watching your friends hallucinate that that they have lost their belly buttons is funny enough. But Hyprov takes all that one step further. After Asad whittles twenty volunteers down to the five people who have gone the deepest into a trance and who seem the most expressive, Mochrie creates situations in which they become improvisational actors in a series of predetermined scenarios.

In the Second City improvisation tradition, improvisers begin a scene by asking for a few basic elements from the audience: An occupation, an activity, and a location, for example.  Then the troupe must assemble those random elements into a cohesive story which pays off in the end.

That’s hard enough to do when surrounded on stage with talented peers who know the rules of the game, such as to always build on suggestions by saying “yes…and” instead of denying them. This often leads to absurdly funny combinations of ideas and circumstances. I saw the show twice Saturday night and each had different sets of suggestions on the same theme, which led to an equally entertaining, but entirely different conclusion.

In one skit, everyone was sent to the old West. Mochrie was a desperado on the run with his partner because they had both done a terrible crime. In the first show of the evening, that crime was jumping rope. In the second show, they were illegally playing basketball.

In another scene, Mochrie was a Sam Spade-like detective who must solve a murder in which everyone else is involved. In one performance of the detective skit, Mochrie combined the suggested activity of eating with the suggested occupation of magician, to create and solve the murder mystery of “The Magician Who Ate Too Much”.  In the other performance, Mochrie had to solve the murder of a teacher who was stapled to death.

At every show, Mochrie jokes about being terrified by the challenge of this show, but exhilarated at the same time, for good reason.

The idea of combining hypnosis and scene work isn’t entirely new. Back in the 90’s, the leading British stage hypnotist, Paul McKenna, had a TV show (which you can see on YouTube) in which also put hypnotized subjects into a fictional scenario’s to see how they would respond.

But here, Mochrie not only does that, but also provides the comedic glue that holds this show together through his lighting fast improviser’s mind. In the film noir detective skit, one volunteer was assigned to create sound effects as if in a radio play, but told that they will always make the wrong sound. So when Mochrie said “suddenly a shot rang out” and the volunteer went “moo”, Mochrie retorted with “I didn’t even notice the cow!”

Some of the funniest comebacks in that skit were provided by “hyproviser” Matthew Shahlyng, who was called upon to play all the other characters in the film noir story. After the show, Mr. Shahlyng admitted to me that he was an experienced improvisational performer as well. That’s what you call “the luck of the draw.”

How good this show is at any given performance depends to a great deal on the creativity and animation of the hypnotized volunteers. In the hands of a lesser improviser, it would probably not be as successful, but with Mochrie’s endlessly inventive mind, he manages to turn even the least interesting utterances of the hypnotized subjects into great jokes.

In the first performance I saw, the witty volunteers matched Mochrie beat for beat with remarks which were comic gold. In the next show, however, a volunteer playing a jilted lover could only respond by saying “No, no, no” over and over.  Mochrie finally echoed her, and he turned out what was a fundamentally boring reaction from the volunteer, into an entertaining interchange.

All during the show, Asad works alongside Mochrie, keeping the hypnotized volunteers focused and in trance.  Watching these two great puppet masters at work is endlessly fascinating.

Michael Urie

Michael Urie

Mochrie also took advantage of the flexibility of the format at the first show of the evening, where actor Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”) was in the audience. Mochrie called him up onstage, and interviewed him about his career. Then Mochrie asked a hypnotized audience member to create an interpretive dance, as he recounted the details he had learned. The mime show put on by that hypnotized audience member, Taylor Schon, was no less brilliantly funny than something you’d might have seen done by Jim Carey. Surprisingly, he was not a performer at all, but someone from Australia who worked in finance. As he told me afterwards, he was “running on instincts and adrenaline,” fully aware of what was happening onstage, but just “happy to go along.” That is a very typical description of the hypnotic experience.

There are other spins on hypnosis shows which are equally interesting. In my one man show as  Hypno-magician “Jeffrey Powers” and The Hypno Party, which I hope to bring to NYC very soon, I use magic and mentalism to “explain”hypnotic phenomena before guiding the volunteers into hypnosis. No matter how you frame it, hypnosis is fascinating entertainment. If Vegas can support multiple hypnosis shows at any given time, why not New York City?

My only disappointment with this show was Asad’s induction style. The art of hypnosis involves the creative use of metaphor, guided imagery and certain language patterns to guide the subject into hypnosis, and effectively deepen their experience.

Asad uses commanding repetition of simple commands to drive his volunteers into hypnotic submission without employing creative hypnotic language. To a fellow hypnotist, that old school approach seems a little raw. Regardless, he gets results onstage, which is all that matters.

Rufus Wainwright Credit_ V. Tony Hauser

Hyprov is aided by mood-specific music composed by Grammy winning vocalist Rufus Wainwright, and accompanied throughout the evening by Musical Director John Hilsen, who turns music into yet another character in the show.

So if you want to see what happens when your creative imagination is unleashed, or just laugh at your friends until it hurts, go see Hyprov, running now through October 30 at the Daryl Roth Theater, 101 East 15th Street, in Manhattan.

Jeffery Lyle Segal is a multifaceted theater artist who has worn many professional hats. He started as a musical theater performer in his teens. He attended Stanford U., Northwestern University, and SUNY at Binghamton to study acting, directing and dramatic literature. He also wrote theater reviews for The Stanford Daily and was Arts Editor of WNUR Radio at Northwestern. After college, he is proud to have been the first full time Executive Director of Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater Company. He left them to work as a theater actor and director. His special effects makeup skills got him into the movies, working on the seminal cult horror film, Re-Animator.He also did casting for several important Chicago projects, sometimes wearing both production hats, as he did on Chicago’s most famous independent movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. While living in Los Angeles, he joined the Academy for New Musical Theater, where he developed two book musicals as a composer, lyricist and librettist, Down to Earth Girl (formerly I Come for Love, NYMF 2008), and Scandalous Behavior! (York Developmental Reading Series 2010). He wrote, produced and performed his song “Forever Mine” as the end title theme of the horror film, Trapped! He also has written songs for his performances in cabaret over the years, and the time he spent pursuing country music in Nashville. Most recently he created a musical revue, Mating the Musical, for the Chicago Musical Theater Festival 2016. In NYC, he has attended the BMI musical theater writers’ workshop, and the Commercial Theater Institute 14 week producer program. He is currently creating a company to develop new musicals online. He still keeps up his makeup chops, working with top doctors in NYC and Chicago as one of the country’s most highly regarded permanent cosmetic artists (www.bestpermanentmakeup.com) and as a member of Chicago local IATSE 476. www.jefferylylesegal.com

Cabaret

Can First Graders Mount a Broadway Musical And Raise Money for Charity?  Yes, They Can For Marin Mazzie

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New York City’s Midtown West School/PS 212’s First Grade Theatre Study program continues their tradition of creativity, collaboration, and philanthropy, this year benefiting the Cancer Support Community in memory of Tony winner and American Theater Hall of Fame inductee Marin Mazzie.

This astonishing group of first graders from Midtown West School/PS 212 and their teachers Bryan Andes and Rowena Hurst who, this year, produced an original musical version of The Little Mermaid with a score made up of Flaherty/Ahrens songs while raising funds to honor the memory of beloved Broadway legend Marin Mazzie, who died of ovarian cancer in 2018.

Developed by Andes in 2005, the First Grade Theatre Study (the Study) was created as a way to help students develop a deeper understanding of how people work together to create theater. Using a social studies lens, the two-year program looks at the entire process of how a show comes together – from the creation of a script to the running of a live musical, and every step in between.

The Study begins in kindergarten with an immersive study of fairy tales. Students learn about tales from around the world and how different cultures retell these stories in distinctive ways. Then, beginning in first grade, students engage in the research process. They meet with directors, designers, stagehands, front-of-house workers, wardrobe workers, advertising executives, and actors to gather information about each theater job.

In the winter, the students start writing an original fairy tale script, curating a score, designing advertisements and playbill covers, and deciding which job they will carry out for the production. The students go on to build set models, design costumes, sell tickets, choreograph dances, rehearse their lines, and more.

“Given our location near the heart of the theater district, the Study is also about connecting our school community with the theater community,” Andes said. “Since so many members of the theater community, across all areas of the profession, donate their time to visit our school or host us at the theater to teach us about their jobs, fundraising for a charity with links to Broadway is our way of giving back and saying thank you.”

The beneficiary for the 2024 production is the Cancer Support Community (CSC), a global nonprofit that uplifts and strengthens people impacted by cancer by providing support, fostering compassionate communities, and breaking down barriers to care. CSC’s services and resources are available at nearly 200 Cancer Support Community, Gilda’s Club, and healthcare partner locations as well as online and over the phone. Mazzie was a fierce supporter of CSC and actively advanced its mission to support people living with cancer and their loved ones. Her husband, Broadway star Jason Danieley, continues to be a champion for CSC and a resolute advocate for cancer patients and caregivers.

Members of CSC’s senior leadership, including Karen Costello, MSS, LSW, OSW-C, a licensed social worker and the Senior Director of CSC’s Cancer Support Helpline, spoke to the students this spring about the organization’s mission, answered their questions about cancer, shared how Mazzie advocated for patients, and told them how their fundraising will help people, including children, impacted by or coping with a cancer diagnosis.

Giving back is an important component of the First Grade Theatre Study program, with prior beneficiaries including The Actor’s Fund, Broadway Barks, BCEFA (Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS), and Covenant House. This year, in addition to raising money through ticket sales, the students are creating a vertical garden of sunflowers, Mazzie’s favorite flower. Handmade by the students, the 400 flowers, priced at $5 each, have already sold out. Their generosity and creativity do not end there. The students are also writing positive messages that will be placed in an affirmation jar to encourage patients, caregivers, and other participants at CSC’s nearby network partner, Cancer Support Community Greater New York and Connecticut.

On June 25, the first graders will present their original musical in a special afternoon event that includes both a museum and film documenting the journey and the live performance (complete with an 13-piece orchestra made up of Local 802 musicians, parent volunteers, and teachers).

“We are simply overwhelmed by the effort and generosity of this group of children,” CSC CEO Sally Werner commented. “The creativity, attention to detail, and curiosity they have shown in putting together this musical and fundraiser are outstanding. They are fortunate to have Bryan Andes and Rowena Hurst as their teachers whose dedication to creating a positive, life-changing experience and commitment to “paying it forward” by including a philanthropic and service component are stellar. We are honored to have been selected as their 2024 beneficiary.”

To support the students’ fundraising effort, go to:  https://bit.ly/2024mazziefundraiser

The Cancer Support Community is a global nonprofit that uplifts and strengthens people impacted by cancer. We are dedicated to fostering a community where people find connection, compassion, and knowledge. We provide professionally led support and navigation services, along with social connections and award-winning education — when, where, and how impacted individuals prefer throughout their cancer experience. These resources are available at nearly 200 Cancer Support Community, Gilda’s Club, and healthcare partner locations as well as online and over the phone — all at no cost. We amplify the voices of those impacted by cancer through research and advocacy and create solutions that break down barriers to care and close the healthcare gap for communities whose members are disproportionately affected by cancer.

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Events

Hamptons Fashion Week Keeps Getting Hauter So Save The Date

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Hamptons Fashion Week®, is the premier fashion event in the Hamptons! On July 26th-27th, 2024, join us at the luxurious Summer Series and an unforgettable experience. With over multiple designer shows, runways, luxury brands and exhibitor spaces during Hamptons Super Saturday®, Hamptons Swim Week® with a range of exciting activations, this is the must-attend event of the year.

At Hamptons Fashion Week®, leading fashion designers, entertainment, and productions are all under one roof, creating a truly immersive and transformative experience. You’ll have the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry professionals, fashion designers, models, and more, all while experiencing the latest trends in fashion.

From panel discussions and product demonstrations to social events such as industry mixers, after parties, lifestyle events and more! Guests will have access to exclusive, on-site hospitality, unmatched insider extras, and more, making this a truly coveted invitation.

Reserve your access now to receive one of fashion’s most coveted invites and be a part of the best touring fashion hampton experience of the year. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be a part of the transformation of the fashion industry. Join us at Hamptons Swim Week® presented by Hamptons Fashion Week® Summer Series and Experience 2024!

Hamptons Fashion Week announced that it will feature Alice & Olivia and Michelle Farmer as their award recipients at Hampton’s Fashion Week Retail Of The Year Award Show on July 26th VIP Reception. Event coverage will be brought to you by E! News!, Bella Magazine, Dans Paper, Hamptons.com, Vogue  and other major influencers! There will also be a swim Week Runway Showcase by Johnny Was

 
This year, Celebrity, Hollywood Stylist & Designer Phillip Bloch will be receiving the Style Icon of The Year Award , July 27th during the program and show 6pm-10pm
 
Shop our latest brands at theHamptons Fashion Week Online Marketplace!
 
You need tickets so click here. Security will be super tight for this event. So if you don’t have a ticket there is no entrance.

VIP Tickets $500 include:

Swag Bag-Valued at $500{One Per Person]

Seating

Access to ALL 3 Events!

July 26th, 6=10pm, Vip Launch Party-Drinks , Bites & Entertainment. The cocktail reception is from 6pm to 8:30pm 

July 27th, Drinks, Bites , Entertainment plus Hamptons Fashion Week Fashion Show Debut in Westhampton. The cocktail reception is from 6pm to 8:30p and After Party.Double check on the List below

VIP Restaurant Sponsors:

Justin Chop Shop

Rouge Kitchens

The Cottage On The Hamlet

Sobol

Centro

Mill Road Seafood

Fruit King

North Fork Chocolate Company

Honest Plate Chef Nicolas

Mary’s Pizza And Pasta

Tonino’s Pizza

Buoy One

Jerri’s Cakery & Confections

Daphne’s Westhampton Beach

Insatiable Eats

Vern Restaurant And Bar

VIP Spirit Sponsors

William Grant And Sons

Votto Vines Importing

Hamptons Wine Shoppe

Handlebar

British Ginger T

Monkey In Pardise

Elbuhl Mezcal

Twin Stills Moonshine

Blue Nextar

Penelope Bourbon

Westhampton Beach Brewing

Twin Stills Moonshine

Fort Hamilton Distillery

Kleos Mastiha Spirits

Beau Joie Rose Champange

Cantera Negra Tequila

Bay Gin

Twisted Cow Distillery

Series 19 Wheat Vodka

Series 19 Rye Vodka

Series 19 Jalapeno Vodka

Dune Drifter Agave Spirit

Spy Ring Rum Raisin

Drinksouthside

 

 

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Billy Joel and Roger Sichel Quiet Brunch Turned Newsworthy Thanks to Justin Timberlake

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The night before Justin Timberlake was busy drinking and talking with his friends. Timberlake was stopped by police just after midnight on Tuesday. Billy Joel and artist Roger Sichel the next morning were having brunch at their usual hang out at the American Hotel, next to each other. Joel and Sichel were bombarded by photographs due to the late breaking news. What was scheduled to be a  quite afternoon turned out to be what has taken over the news.


Timberlake who is in the middle of a world tour that includes upcoming Madison Square Garden told the officers he had just “one martini.” According to sources he was inhibited on them and refused to take the sobriety test.

Billy Joel is busy working and lives within walking distance of the hotel.

Sichel just finished an art show in Beverly Hills and will be opening in Sag Harbor Kramois’s art gallery two doors down from the American Hotel next week.

Seems that the American Hotel is the place to hang this summer, well it always was.

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Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

GIAMATTI’S TREK — (via DEADLINE) Paul Giamatti has joined the cast of the upcoming Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy in a recurring role. He will play the Season 1 villain, a man with an ominous past connected to one of our cadets.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge Star Trek fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us. The sheer delight with which he dove in on Starfleet Academy is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast,” shared co-showrunners and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a joint statement.

He joins previously announced Holly Hunter, who will star in the series as the captain and chancellor of Starfleet Academy. The series will begin production later this summer.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy follows a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.

Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau serve as co-showrunners and executive producers of the series alongside executive producers Gaia Violo, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Frank Siracusa and John Weber. The series premiere episode is written by Gaia Violo.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment and is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

HEART STOPPED — (Via Deadline) The Heart of Rock and Roll, the struggling musical built around the hits of Huey Lewis, will play its final performance at a matinee on Sunday, June 23. The show will have played 24 previews and 72 performances.

In a statement, producer Hunter Arnold said, “It was pure joy working on the show with the team of creatives headed by writer Jonathan A. Abrams, director Gordon Greenberg, choreographer Lorin Latarro, music arranger and orchestrator Brian Usifer and special gratitude to the support and participation of the iconic music legend Huey Lewis.

The musical began previews on March 29 and opened on April 22.

“We were honored,” he continued, “to have an amazing cast and crew who brought their immense enthusiasm, commitment and talent to each and every performance. With our original cast album just released and talks underway for a national tour and international productions, the musical will continue to delight audiences for years to come.”

The musical, received by critics with lukewarm reviews, did not received any Tony Award nominations and has been struggling at the box office, sometimes with the James Earl Jones Theatre just more than half-full with audience members. For the week ending June 9, the show grossed a tiny $272,051.

SHORT TAKES — Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis will be released through Lionsgate. Tepid reviews? Not really. Face it, Coppola’s a genius. Check out Roger Friedman’s (SHOWBIZ 411) take: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/06/17/coppola-leases-megalopolis-to-lions-gate-for-september-release-in-distribution-only-deal

Darius Rucker said that the bandmates in Hootie and the Blowfish tried to outparty each other? Interesting. Check this out here: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/darius-rucker-says-hootie–the-blowfish-bandmates-tried-to-outparty-each-other-that-was-just-how-we-lived-214135068.html

Add one more Jon Bon Jovi-intervene to the list. NBC’s Sunday With Willie Geist. Was good, but nothing on Richie Sambora and nothing new. He’s not going to tour; he wants to tour; a surprise gig in Nashville ….

Micky Dolenz and Michael Stip (R.E.M.)

what’s going on? More kudos for his PR-man Brad Cafarelli … Congrats to R.E.M. on their Songwriters Hall of Fameinduction … HAPPY BDAY Michelle Toscas!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mark Adelman; Christine Nagy; Race Taylor; Anthony Noto; Robert Funaro; Al Roker; Tony LoBianco; Les Moonves; Les Schwartz; Marion Perkins; Mary Wilson; Tony Seidel; Bob Schartoff; Julie Laufer; Liza Lillien; Richie Ridge; William Schill; Dan Zelinski; Carol Ross; Gary Gershoff; David Adelson; Roy Trakin; Lee Jeske; Anthony Mason; and BELLA!

Images on this page have been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Events

Paley Center Hosts Spicy Evening with ‘Hot Ones’

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This night was sizzling!

On June 18, the Paley Center for Media hosted their extraordinary PaleyLive program.

A sold-out crowd came together on this warm summer night for a special session for “Hot Ones: A Spicy Evening with Sean Evans and the Hit YouTube Talk Show.”

The event began with a special screening to from Season 24 of Hot Ones,” which premiered on May on YouTube, and was followed by a nonstop hilarious conversation with host and producers Sean Evans, Chris Schonberger, and Domonique Burrough, moderated by Seth Meyers.

Audience members were completely captivated by the lively panel that revealed secrets from set to spicy revelations about some of the biggest stars in the world who have literally sat in the hot seat with Evans.

“You want to give them the space to do these things, but you always have so many plates spinning,” stated the host about the way he gets celebrity guests fully engaged when they appear on the how. Evans went to point out that each guest brings their own flavor to the table and it is what he believes keeps the format fresh every time he sits down to a fun, but challenging interview.

Each week, millions watch Hot Ones to see stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Kevin Hart, Conan O’Brien, Billie Eilish, and Lizzo answering hot questions while eating progressively hotter wings. With more than 27 billion minutes viewed over 300-plus episodes since 2015, the series has become a true pop culture phenomenon.

Next up, The Paley Center for Media will host another blockbuster exhibit, “Inside The West Wing: A 25th Anniversary Salute.”

Running for just nine weeks only, this immersive exhibit based on the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award–winning show created by Aaron Sorkin, will open at The Paley Museum on Friday, July 5 and run through Sunday, September 8. Visitors to the exhibit will have the opportunity to step into the exciting world of the Bartlet White House with fan-favorite costumes, props, video, and other memorabilia from the groundbreaking series. A highlight of the exhibit will be an incredible photo opportunity where visitors can stand at the show’s White House pressroom podium from which Press Secretary C.J. Cregg helped champion President Bartlet’s vision for America.

The Paley Center for Media is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has proudly made its home in NYC for close to 50 years and operates the iconic Paley Museum. Through its respected programming, the Paley Center leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of media, drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the media community.

The general public can participate in Paley programs in both New York and Los Angeles that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the talent, and the leaders who are shaping media. The public can also access the Paley Center’s permanent media collection, The Paley Archive, often referred to as a national treasure, containing over 160,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.

For more information about The Paley Center for Media, and to learn about the Paley Center’s acclaimed programming, please visit paleycenter.org.

 

 

 

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