‘Television’s Original Genius’ Life and Career Will Be Celebrated with Panel Discussion and Screening of his Work on October 27 at National Gallery of Art and Two Screenings of his TV Work at AFI in Silver Spring on November 3rd and 4th
Ediad Productions announced today that legendary comedian Ernie Kovacs (www.erniekovacs.com) is the subject of two diverse retrospectives coming to the Washington D.C.-area this Fall. Both the National Gallery of Art (www.nga.com) and AFI Silver Theatre (www.AFI.com/Silver) will focus on Kovacs’ unique comedic talents as innovator, performer, creator and video artist gifted with a skewed sense of humor when television was in it’s infancy in the 1950s and ‘60s.
On Saturday, October 27, at 4pm, the National Gallery of Art (4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, East Building) will present Ernie Kovacs: Video Art for the Intimate Vacuum, which will include both a screening of his absurdist video art as well as a panel discussion featuring noted critics Bruce Bennett & David Bianculli and Kovacs archivist Ben Model. Admission is free.
The following weekend, at 4:30pm on Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4 at AFI Silver Theater (8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD) will screen highlights of Kovacs’ most beloved television shows and iconic characters for their Ernie Kovacs Program. Both programs will be curated by Ben Model who will feature footage from Kovacs’ groundbreaking television programs. Admission prices vary.
”Ernie Kovacs is an entire chapter in the high/low art debate,” said Margaret Parsons, head of film programs, National Gallery of Art. “He was gifted on so many levels and was already mixing media – music, video and performance art – by the mid ‘50s, creating his own ‘happenings’ long before the art movements of the 1960s”.
“It’s a tremendous honor to have both the National Gallery of Art and the American Film Institute celebrate the comedic genius of Ernie Kovacs,“ said Joshua Mills, President of Ediad Productions. “Kovacs fans will be able to experience both his most well known and some of his more offbeat shows and sketches at these two prestigious institutions.”
Known as ‘Television’s Original Genius,’ Ernie Kovacs was a hugely influential figure for late night entertainers like Steve Allen, David Letterman, and Conan O'Brien, whose work has been cited appreciatively by Martin Scorsese, Harold Prince, Matt Groening (THE SIMPSONS, FUTURAMA), Robert Smigel (SATURDAY TV FUNHOUSE; Triumph, the Insult Comedy Dog), Joel Hodgson (Mystery Science Theater 3000), Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), Andrea Martin (SCTV), Terry Gilliam (MONTY PYTHON), and author Jonathan Lethem, among others.
Ernie Kovacs was a pioneer in early television whose inventive use of the medium inspired countless performers, directors, and video artists. In addition to creating such indelible characters as Percy Dovetonsils, Matzoh Hepplewhite, and Uncle Gruesome, Kovacs invented a distinctly modern form of comedy that playfully subverted the television medium. Edie Adams (www.edieadams.com) was his on-screen partner as well as his wife. After his death in 1962 Adams was instrumental in not only saving but also preserving Kovacs’ body of work during the 1960s when she bought all existing Kovacs materials - including the masters that the television networks were planning to destroy them due to cost and storage issues.
Since 2011, the Ernie Kovacs archive has released video and audio material from the collection, most of which has never been seen or heard in more than 50 years. This continues on October 9 when The Edie Adams Christmas Record featuring Ernie Kovacs will be released via Omnivore Recordings (www.omnivorerecordings.com). Then. on October 23, The Ernie Kovacs Collection Volume Two, a three-DVD package, will be released via Shout! Factory (www.shoutfactory.com). Kovacs and his work have also been feted at such prestigious institutions as The Paley Center for Media, Museum of the Moving Image in New York, the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles, the Long Beach Museum of Art in Long Beach, California and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, Spain.
About the National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery's Web site at www.nga.gov. Follow the Gallery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalGalleryofArt and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ngadc.
Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI provides leadership in film, television and digital media and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.
About AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
A program of the American Film Institute, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, one of Washington’s cultural landmarks, is a beautifully restored 1938 theater offering a year-round program of the best in American and international cinema, featuring a dynamic mix of first-run films, festivals, premieres, retrospectives, special events, special guest appearances, and educational and community programs. AFI Silver combines state-of-the-art film and video projection facilities with the latest in broadcast technology in its three theaters. AFI Silver also houses production facilities, meeting spaces and elegant reception and exhibition areas.
The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of the Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to non-profit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. For more information about AFI Silver, go to AFI.com/Silver.