A Ragtime Revival on Director’s Cut

This week on Director’s Cut, it’s a ragtime fan’s dream come true when co-directors Nick Holle and Michael Zimmer join us to talk about their film “The Entertainers,” a documentary that celebrates old time piano playing.

Director’s Cut “The Entertainers” airs 10 p.m. Friday, May 16

Walter Hill’s “The Sting” is one of my favorite movies. I grew up listening to my grandma, the lovely and talented ‘Sis’ Schwaba, play Scott Joplin rags on the piano and I became a lifelong fan. I have tons of ragtime MP3’s to prove it! Even if you’ve never heard of Scott Joplin or are not familiar with ragtime, you will appreciate the artists featured in “The Entertainers” as they are absolute masters of their craft. Holle and Zimmer spend just the right amount of time following the characters as well as the contest they enter to find the best ‘old-time piano player.’

Every year for the last 35 years, this contest takes place in Peoria, Ill. and contestants come from all over the country to take part. While watching this film, I was amazed at how skilled these musicians are and shocked that they are not celebrated more for their talents. Am I saying Manilow and Bieber aren’t capable ivory ticklers? That they don’t deserve fanatical, unbridled adulation? No. But the ‘actors’ in “The Entertainers” are exciting to watch whether sitting at the piano or interacting with each other and dealing with the pressure of the contest.

The co-directors, Holle and Zimmer, met while attending USC’s writing program. This is Holle’s second appearance on Director’s Cut and his first documentary. Zimmer has developed both TV and film projects with Hollywood studios and still calls SoCal home. “The Entertainers” is his first produced film.

Faye Ballard, one of the subjects of the film, also stopped by for a few minutes and played for us! She instructed/threatened me to go easy on Nick and Michael during the interviews. Even though I am a foot taller than Faye and pretty sure I could take her, I listened. She is very talented and all three guests were fun to talk to. Please join us for Director’s Cut and see for yourself this Friday night on Wisconsin Public Television. My interview, followed by the film airs at 10 p.m.

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