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Volume 10 No. 26
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Boyle Reveals Plan Of British Countryside-Themed Opening Ceremony

London Olympics Creative Dir Danny Boyle's £27M ($42M) design of the Opening Ceremony to be performed on July 27 will include a village cricket team, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 70 sheep, a model of Glastonbury Tor, two mosh pits "and the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The opening scene "Green and Pleasant" depicts a "surreal vista" with children dancing around giant maypoles that represent the symbols of the U.K.'s four nations. The director has ignored the "age-old maxim about never working with children or animals." Boyle's "opening ceremony extravaganza" will feature real grass, real ploughs, real soil, and Boyle said real clouds would supply "rain" if there was none to present an authentic British atmosphere (GUARDIAN, 6/12). Boyle said some of the challenges came from "the struggle between spectators and television viewers." He said he wants the show to "feel spectacular, but also warmer" (London INDEPENDENT, 6/12). Boyle noted that the "large bell," which will be rung at the start of the ceremony at 9pm GMT July 27, will also be rung at the finish, hopefully around 12:30am GMT, signifying peace. Boyle: "The bells didn't ring during the War, but they rang when peace was declared. This is a wonderful way to start the show with the sound of peace." Ceremonies Exec Dir Stephen Daldry said, "This is not a show by committee, it has been created by Danny Boyle, and it represents all of the depth, imagination, humour and visceral filmmaking style Danny brings" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/12).

Meanwhile, REUTERS' Mike Collett-White noted the four countries of the U.K. will be represented with "giant representations of their emblem flowers:" the rose for England, thistle for Scotland, flax for Northern Ireland and daffodil for Wales. The Olympic athletes will walk around the meadow, made up of mini-fields separated by hedges and a river, soundtrack provided by electronic group Underworld (REUTERS, 6/12). In London, Nash & West noted Boyle has rallied 10,000 volunteers, including nurses, to recreate scenes, including "Green and Pleasant" against a backdrop of farmyard animals and landmarks like Glastonbury Tor. About 80,000 people "will enjoy a full dress rehearsal" ahead of the spectacle, which is inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest. Crew members are now "working around the clock" to fit all the needed equipment, including 1,200 automated lamps, 1,000 conventional lamps, 500 LED fixtures, 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of other gear (THE SUN, 6/12). In L.A., Stuart Kemp noted the ceremonies prop store at the East London studio facility 3 Mills Studio is producing 2,956 props, while staff in the costume department are working to produce 23,000 costumes for all four ceremonies. The work includes sewing 24,570 buttons onto the costumes for one of the opening sequences (THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/12). In London, Roger Blitz wrote the three-hour opening ceremony is "expected to generate a huge global TV audience." Some are considering the ceremony the "high point" of the London Games, putting the pressure on Boyle to "produce a spectacle to match the occasion." Boyle said, "The appetite for this makes you realise you have a responsibility to deliver the dream and the ideal for what people hold." Boyle added, "It's an impossible task. You're bound to fail. But on the journey to succeed, you hope people will find enough in it" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/12).

A BAD CUP OF TEA: In London, Emily Allen wrote photos of the "Green and Pleasant" set at first glance "looks more like Tinky Winky's Teletubbyland" than the traditional rolling hills of England (DAILY MAIL, 6/12). Also in London, Nick Harris opined that one of the dance routines "currently looks like a down-at-heel version of Michael Jackson's Thriller video while, at other times, the sessions resemble exercise time in a giant prison yard." The volunteer performers are not being paid, "but 15,000 people's travel and food costs for up to 30 rehearsals each, not to mention costumes at hundreds of pounds apiece, location hire, security and many hundreds of support staff, choreographers and mass movement experts, all add up" (DAILY MAIL, 6/9).

TAKING IT TO TWITTER: The Guardian’s Olympics Editor Owen Gibson wrote on his Twitter feed, “Came away from Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony briefing very impressed with his vision. Now he just has to pull it off." The BBC’s Olympics & Sports News Correspondent Gordon Farquhar tweeted, “Boyle says opening ceremony budget is 27 million…Similar to one of his films.. Says he wants it to feel like a live film is being made.” The INDEPENDENT’s Blogger Musa Okwonga tweeted, “Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony plans remind me of a scene in Buffy just before the opening of the Hellmouth.” THE TIMES’ Columnist Janice Turner tweeted, “It seems Danny Boyle has based his Olympic opening ceremony on Farmville.”