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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Popular Culture Programs

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Like a select few in music—Hoagy, Duke, Elvis, Wynton, Dolly—you recognize her by her first name alone. Join John Edward Hasse, co-curator of the long-running Smithsonian exhibition Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song, as he draws on film and video clips, rare photographs, and original recordings to provide insights into her extraordinary journey from shy orphan to beloved international celebrity.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Since its very beginning, Hollywood has made audiences laugh in forms from slapstick to screwball, romance to social satire, musicals to gross-out teen films. Media expert Brian Rose looks at major highlights of screen comedy over the last 125 years, drawing on more than 40 examples from Hollywood’s funniest films. Prepare to LOL.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Actor, writer, and producer Kal Penn took a sabbatical from his entertainment career to serve as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Obama—a very unexpected detour for the star of the Harold and Kumar movies and TV’s “House”. Join him as he draws from his new memoir You Can’t Be Serious to talk about his journey from Hollywood to Washington and back again, as well as why your life can have more stories and more choices than you thought.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Beginning with cartoonist Thomas Nast’s lasting images of Uncle Sam and Santa Claus created during the Civil War, author Jeremy Dauber traces the sweeping story of cartoons, comic strips, and graphic novels, and their continuing hold on the American imagination.

Lecture/Seminar
Sunday, November 7, 2021 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

Film music can inspire and romance us, salvage a bad movie and make a good one great. In this weekend series, speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin explores the many elements that go into creating an effective score and showcases the memorable work of some of the leading masters of the form. Fasten your seatbelts…it’s going to be a fabulous ride! This session focuses on film music from The Red Pony, High Noon, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, November 8, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Some moments in movies never leave us: the piercing eyes of a private eye, a raft hurtling down the rapids, that little black dress, the close-up of a fading movie star. In a 5-session film discussion series, documentary filmmaker and writer Sara Lukinson revisits some of our favorite movies and characters, setting them against the backdrop of their times, the people who dreamed them up, and the America they reflected—or asked us to imagine. This session focuses on Anatomy of a Murder and 12 Angry Men.

Course
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Pop music would not be the same without Carole King, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, and Neil Diamond. Their music defined the summer of a generation’s youth, and now the whole world still sings their songs. In this 2-session daytime series, join Sara Lukinson, filmmaker and writer for the Kennedy Center Honors for 38 years, to talk about the lives of these performing arts legends, enjoy clips of their performances, and explore what made them so moving, memorable, and exciting. This session focuses on Carole King and Tina Turner.

Lecture/Seminar
Sunday, November 14, 2021 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET

Film music can inspire and romance us, salvage a bad movie and make a good one great. In this weekend series, speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin explores the many elements that go into creating an effective score and showcases the memorable work of some of the leading masters of the form. Fasten your seatbelts…it’s going to be a fabulous ride! This session focuses on film music from To Kill a Mockingbird, Psycho, and Planet of the Apes.

Course
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Pop music would not be the same without Carole King, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, and Neil Diamond. Their music defined the summer of a generation’s youth, and now the whole world still sings their songs. In this 2-session daytime series, join Sara Lukinson, filmmaker and writer for the Kennedy Center Honors for 38 years, to talk about the lives of these performing arts legends, enjoy clips of their performances, and explore what made them so moving, memorable, and exciting. This session focuses on Billy Joel and Neil Diamond.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, December 1, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Hollywood is an industry that has always depended on blockbusters. But beginning in 1974, two young filmmakers, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, would together change the way the movie industry made movies, introducing the age of the “modern blockbuster,” which featured elaborate special effects and thrilling spectacle. Brian Rose, professor emeritus at Fordham University, looks at their four decades of filmmaking and discusses how they changed the movies.

Lecture/Seminar
Thursday, December 9, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

The tumultuous friendship between George Harrison and Eric Clapton shaped not only their lives and careers but the shifting face of rock music in the early 1970s. Beatles expert Ken Womack and music historian Jason Kruppa explore the rock legends’ musical and personal collaboration, friendship, and rivalry—and a love triangle for the ages, involving Clapton, Harrison, and Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd.

Lecture/Seminar
Monday, December 20, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Everyone loves a holiday visit to Bedford Falls. But it took years for Frank Capra’s now-beloved film—a flop in its 1946 release—to become a Christmas classic. Lecturer Brian Rose examines the fascinating story of It’s a Wonderful Life, looking at the challenges of how it was made, its surprisingly dark portrait of small-town life, and how it evolved into the ultimate portrayal of holiday goodwill and cheer.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET

Biographer Bob Spitz tells the story of how Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, and John Bonham came together to form the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin—one of the most successful (and certainly one of the most notorious) bands of all time.

Lecture/Seminar
Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Brian Rose, a professor emeritus at Fordham University, examines how advertising evolved during television’s first two decades and the important role it played in convincing viewers that the key to happiness quite literally lay in buying their way into the American dream.

Lecture/Seminar
Tuesday, February 15, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

His unique voice and passionate style made Ray Charles one of the most beloved and influential musicians of our time. Music curator John Edward Hasse of the American History Museum celebrates the music, the man, and his place in our country’s cultural history.