Archive for January, 2015

Beverley Knight

Beverley Knight MBE D. Mus. (born Beverley Anne Smith on 22 March 1973) is a British singer, songwriter, record producer, radio presenter and musical theatre actress who released her debut album, The B-Funk in 1995. Heavily influenced by soul greats such as Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, Knight has released seven studio albums to date. Widely labelled as one of Britain’s greatest soul singers, Knight is best known for her hit singles “Greatest Day”, “Get Up!”, “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” and “Come as You Are”.
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Pink Floyd's Latest Album, "The Endless River"

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Distinguished by their use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and musically influential groups in the history of popular music.

Pink Floyd was founded in 1965 by students Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. They gained popularity performing in London’s underground music scene during the late 1960s, and under Barrett’s leadership released two charting singles and a successful debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967). David Gilmour joined as a fifth member in December 1967; Barrett left the band in April 1968 due to deteriorating mental health exacerbated by drug use. Waters became the band’s primary lyricist and, by the mid-1970s, their dominant songwriter, devising the concepts behind their critically and commercially successful albums The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), The Wall (1979) and The Final Cut (1983).
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The world is just awesome – Original Music by soundtrackmakers.com

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Coldplay Video for “Ink” with 300 Possible Endings


A scene from Coldplay’s interactive music video.

There are 300 different outcomes to the video – released on the band’s website on Wednesday – was written, directed and animated by Los Angeles agency Blind. Continue reading →

Paul Rodgers

Paul Bernard Rodgers (born 17 December 1949) is an English-Canadian rock singer-songwriter, best known for his success in the 1960s and 1970s as vocalist of Free and Bad Company. After stints in two less successful bands in the 1980s and early 1990s, The Firm and The Law, he became a solo artist. He has more recently toured and recorded with another popular band, Queen. Rodgers has been dubbed “The Voice” by his fans. A poll in Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 55 on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”. In 2011 Rodgers received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.
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Making Of John Lennon's "Imagine"

Imagine is the second album by John Lennon. Recorded and released in 1971, the album is more heavily produced in contrast to the basic, raw arrangements of his previous album, the critically acclaimed John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The album is considered the most popular of his works. The title track is considered one of Lennon’s finest songs. In 2012, Imagine was voted 80th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. Continue reading →

Matt Stone

Matthew RichardMattStone (born May 26, 1971) is an American actor, animator, screenwriter, television director, producer, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for being the co-creator of South Park along with his creative partner and best friend Trey Parker, as well as co-writing the 2011 multi-Tony Award winning musical The Book of Mormon.

Stone and Parker launched their largely collaborative careers in 1989 when they met at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 1992 they made a holiday short titled Jesus vs. Frosty which would eventually become South Park. Their first success came from Alferd Packer: The Musical, subsequently distributed as Cannibal! The Musical. From there he made another short title Jesus vs. Santa, leading him and college friend Parker to create South Park, which has been airing for over fifteen years. He has four Emmy Awards for his role in South Park, winning for both “Outstanding Programming More Than One Hour” and “Outstanding Programming Less Than One Hour”.

Matt Stone
Matt Stone at Peabody Awards in 2006.jpg

Matt Stone at the Peabody Awards in 2006.
Born Matthew Richard Stone
May 26, 1971 (age 43)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Education Heritage High School
Alma mater University of Colorado Boulder
Occupation Actor, animator, writer, producer, director, singer, songwriter
Years active 1989–present
Known for South Park, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police, The Book of Mormon
Home town Littleton, Colorado, U.S.
Religion None
Spouse(s) Angela Howard (m. 2008)
Children 2
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Animated Program
2005, 2007, 2009, 2013 South Park
Outstanding Animated Program
2008 South Park
Tony Awards
Best Musical
2011 The Book of Mormon
Best Book of a Musical
2011 The Book of Mormon
Best Original Score
2011 The Book of Mormon
Grammy Awards
Best Musical Theater Album
2012 The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Matthew Richard Stone was born on May 26, 1971 in Houston, Texas, to economics professor/textbook author Gerald Whitney Stone, Jr. and Sheila Lois Belasco. The South Park characters Gerald and Sheila Broflovski were named after them. Stone and his younger sister Rachel were raised in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, where both attended Heritage High School. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder, and was their first student to double major in film and mathematics.

Career

Career beginnings

Cannibal! The Musical (1992–94)

In 1992, Stone, Parker, McHugh, and Ian Hardin founded a production company named the Avenging Conscience, named after the D.W. Griffith film by the same name, which was actively disliked by the group. Parker again employed the cutout paper technique on Avenging Conscience’s first production, Jesus vs. Frosty (1992), an animated short pitting the religious figure against Frosty the Snowman.

The quartet created a three-minute trailer for a fictional film titled Alferd Packer: The Musical. The idea was based on an obsession Parker had with Alfred Packer, a real nineteenth-century prospector accused of cannibalism. During this time, Parker had become engaged to long-time girlfriend Lianne Adamo, but their relationship fell apart shortly before production on the trailer began. “Horribly depressed,” Parker funneled his frustrations with her into the project, naming Packer’s “beloved but disloyal” horse after her. The trailer became somewhat of a sensation among students at the school, leading Virgil Grillo, the chairman and founder of the university’s film department, to convince the quartet to expand it to a feature-length film. Parker wrote the film’s script, creating an Oklahoma!-style musical featuring ten original show tunes. The group raised $125,000 from family and friends and began shooting the film. The movie was shot on Loveland Pass as winter was ending, and the crew endured the freezing weather. Parker — under the pseudonym Juan Schwartz — was the film’s star, director and co-producer.

Alferd Packer: The Musical premiered in Boulder in October 1993; “they rented a limousine that circled to ferry every member of the cast and crew from the back side of the block to the red carpet at the theater’s entrance.” The group submitted the movie to the Sundance Film Festival, who did not respond. Parker told McHugh he had a “vision” they needed to be at the festival, which resulted in the group renting out a conference room in a nearby hotel and putting on their own screenings. MTV did a short news segment on The Big Picture regarding the film, and they made industry connections through the festival. They intended to sell video rights to the film for $1 million and spend the remaining $900,000 to create another film. The film was instead sold to Troma Entertainment in 1996 where it was retitled Cannibal! The Musical, and upon the duo’s later success, it became their biggest-selling title. It has since been labeled a “cult classic” and adapted into a stage play by community theater groups and even high schools nationwide.

The Spirit of Christmas and Orgazmo (1995–97)

We were sleeping on floors thinking, Wow, another two weeks and we’re going to be fucking rich. And pretty soon two weeks turns into two months, and two months turns into two years, and you definitely stop listening.

Parker on his early career

Following the film’s success, the group, sans Hardin, moved to Los Angeles. Upon arrival, they met a lawyer for the William Morris Agency who connected them with producer Scott Rudin. As a result, the duo acquired a lawyer, an agent, and a script deal. Despite initially believing themselves to be on the verge of success, the duo struggled for several years. Stone slept on dirty laundry for upwards of a year because he could not afford to purchase a mattress. They unsuccessfully pitched a children’s program titled Time Warped to Fox Kids, which would have involved fictionalized stories of people in history. The trio created two separate pilots, spaced a year apart, and despite the approval of development executive Pam Brady, the network disbanded the Fox Kids division. While at Fox, executive Brian Graden cut Parker and Stone a personal check of a few thousand dollars to produce a video greeting card he could deliver to friends; the film would be a sequel to their earlier short Jesus vs. Frosty.

David Zucker, who was a fan of Cannibal!, contacted the duo to produce a 15-minute short film for Seagram to show at a party for their acquisition of Universal Studios. Due to a misunderstanding, Parker and Stone improvised much of the film an hour before it was shot, creating it as a spoof of 1950s instructional videos. The result, Your Studio and You, features numerous celebrities, including Sylvester Stallone, Demi Moore, and Steven Spielberg. “You could probably make a feature film out of the experience of making that movie because it was just two dudes from college suddenly directing Steven Spielberg,” Parker later remarked, noting that the experience was difficult for the two. During the time between shooting the pilots for Time Warped, Parker penned the script for a film titled Orgazmo, which later entered production. Half of the budget for the picture came from a Japanese porn company called Kuki, who wanted to feature its performers in mainstream Western media. Independent distributor October Films purchased the rights to the film for one million dollars after its screening at the Toronto Film Festival. The film received an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, which resulted in the poor box office performance of a film. Parker and Stone attempted to negotiate with the organization on what to delete from the final print, but the MPAA would not give specific notes. The duo later theorized that the organization cared less because it was an independent distributor which would bring it significantly less money.

Graden sent the film on a VHS to several industry executives in Hollywood; meanwhile, someone digitized the clip and put it up on the Internet, where it became one of the very first viral videos. As Jesus vs. Santa became more popular, Parker and Stone began talks of developing the short into a television series. Fox refused to pick up the series, not wanting to air a show that included the character Mr. Hankey, a talking piece of feces. The two were initially skeptical of possible television deals, noting that previous endeavors had not turned out successful. The two then entered negotiations with both MTV and Comedy Central. Parker preferred the show be produced by Comedy Central, fearing that MTV would turn it into a kids show. When Comedy Central executive Doug Herzog watched the short, he commissioned for it to be developed into a series.

South Park

Premiere and initial success (1997–98)

The pilot episode of South Park was made on a budget of $300,000, and took between three and three and a half months to complete, and animation took place in a small room at Celluloid Studios, in Denver, Colorado, during the summer of 1996. Similarly to Parker and Stone’s Christmas shorts, the original pilot was animated entirely with traditional cut paper stop motion animation techniques. The idea for the town of South Park came from the real Colorado basin of the same name where, according to the creators, a lot of folklore and news reports originated about “UFO sightings, and cattle mutilations, and Bigfoot sightings.”

South Park premiered in August 1997 and immediately became one of the most popular shows on cable television, averaging consistently between 3.5 and 5.5 million viewers. The show transformed the then-fledgling Comedy Central into “a cable industry power almost overnight.” At the time, the cable network had a low distribution of just 21 million subscribers. Comedy Central marketed the show aggressively before its launch, billing it as “that’s why they invented the V-chip.” The resulting buzz led to the network earning an estimated $30 million in T-shirts sales alone before the first episode was even aired. Due to the success of the series’ first six episodes, Comedy Central requested an additional seven; the series completed its first season in February 1998. An affiliate of the MTV Network until then, Comedy Central decided, in part due to the success of South Park, to have its own independent sales department. By the end of 1998, Comedy Central had sold more than $150 million worth of merchandise for the show, including T-shirts and dolls. Over the next few years, Comedy Central’s viewership spiked largely due to South Park, adding 3 million new subscribers in the first half of 1998 alone and allowed the network to sign international deals with networks in several countries.

Parker and Stone became celebrities as a result of the program’s success; Parker noted that the success of South Park allowed him to pursue, for a time, a lifestyle that involved partying with women and “out-of-control binges” in Las Vegas. Their philosophy of taking every deal (which had surfaced as a result of their lack of trust in the early success of South Park) led to their appearances in films, albums, and outside script deals. Among these included BASEketball, a 1998 comedy film that became a critical and commercial flop.

Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and continued success (1999–present)

Two adult males sitting in chairs; the male at the right is speaking into a handheld microphone

Parker (left) and Matt Stone (right) continue to do most of the writing, directing and voice acting on South Park.

Parker and Stone signed a deal with Comedy Central in April 1998 that contracted the duo to producing South Park episodes until 1999, gave them a slice of the lucrative spinoff merchandising the show generated within its first year, as well as an unspecified seven-figure cash bonus to bring the show to the big screen, in theaters. During the time, the team was also busy writing the second and third seasons of the series, the former of which Parker and Stone later described as “disastrous”. As such, they figured the phenomenon would be over soon, and they decided to write a personal, fully committed musical. Parker and Stone fought with the MPAA to keep the film R-rated; for months the ratings board insisted on the more prohibitive NC-17. The film was only certified an R rating two weeks prior to its release, following contentious conversations between Parker/Stone, Rudin, and Paramount Pictures. Parker felt very overwhelmed and overworked during the production process of the film, especially between April and the movie’s opening in late June. He admitted that press coverage, which proclaimed the end of South Park was near, bothered him. The film opened in cinemas in June 1999 and received critical acclaim, grossing $83 million at the box office.

Parker and Stone continue to write, direct, and voice most characters on South Park. Over time, the show has adopted a unique production process, in which an entire episode is written, animated and broadcast in one week. Parker and Stone state that subjecting themselves to a one-week deadline creates more spontaneity amongst themselves in the creative process, which they feel results in a funnier show. Although initial reviews for the show were negative in reference to its crass humor, the series has received numerous accolades, including five Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and numerous inclusions in various publications’ lists of greatest television shows. Though its viewership is lower than it was at the height of its popularity in its earliest seasons, South Park remains one of the highest-rated series on Comedy Central. In 2012, South Park cut back from producing 14 episodes per year (seven in the spring and seven in the fall) to a single run of 10 episodes in the fall, to allow the duo to explore other projects the rest of the year. The show is currently renewed through 2016, when it will reach its twentieth season.

South Park has continued, becoming an enterprise worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The franchise has also expanded to music and video games. Comedy Central released various albums, including Chef Aid: The South Park Album and Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics, in the late 1990s. The song “Chocolate Salty Balls” (as sung by the character Chef) was released as a single in the UK in 1998 to support the Chef Aid: The South Park Album and became a number one hit. Parker and Stone had little to do the development of video games based on the series that were released at this time, but took full creative control of South Park: The Stick of Truth, a 2014 video game based on the series that received positive reviews.Broadcast syndication rights to South Park were sold in 2003, and all episodes are available for free full-length on-demand legal streaming on the official South Park Studios website. In 2007, the duo, with the help of their lawyer, Kevin Morris, cut a 50-50 joint venture with Comedy Central on all revenue not related to television; this includes digital rights to South Park, as well as movies, soundtracks, T-shirts and other merchandise, in a deal worth $75 million.

Television and film projects

That’s My Bush! (2000–01)

In 2000, Parker and Stone began plotting a television sitcom starring the winner of the 2000 Presidential election. The duo were “95 percent sure” that Democratic candidate Al Gore would win, and tentatively titled the show Everybody Loves Al. The main goal was to parody sitcom tropes, such as a lovable main character, the sassy maid, and the wacky neighbor. Parker said the producers did not want to make fun of politics, but instead lampoon sitcoms. They threw a party the night of the election with the writers, with intentions to begin writing the following Monday and shooting the show in January 2001 with the inauguration. With the confusion of who the President would be, the show’s production was pushed back. The show was filmed at Sony Pictures Studios, and was the first time Parker and Stone shot a show on a production lot.

Although That’s My Bush!, which ran between April–May 2001, received a fair amount of publicity and critical notice, according to Stone and Parker, the cost per episode was too high, “about $1 million an episode.” Comedy Central officially cancelled the series in August 2001 as a cost-cutting move; Stone was quoted as saying “A super-expensive show on a small cable network…the economics of it were just not going to work.” Comedy Central continued the show in reruns, considering it a creative and critical success. Parker believed the show would not have survived after the September 11 attacks anyway, and Stone agreed, saying the show would not “play well.” During this time, the duo also signed a deal with Macromedia Shockwave to produce 39 animated online shorts in which they would retain full artistic control; the result, Princess, was rejected after only two episodes.

Team America (2002–04)

In 2002, the duo began working on Team America: World Police, a satire of big-budget action films and their associated clichés and stereotypes, with particular humorous emphasis on the global implications of the politics of the United States. Team America was produced using a crew of about 200 people, which sometimes required four people at a time to manipulate a marionette. Although the filmmakers hired three dozen top-notch marionette operators, simple performances from the marionettes was nearly impossible, with a simple shot such as a character drinking taking a half-day to complete successfully. The deadline for the film’s completion took a toll on both filmmakers, as did various difficulties in working with puppets, with Stone, who described the film as “the worst time of [my] life,” resorting to coffee to work 20-hour days and sleeping pills to go to bed. The film was barely completed in time for its October release date, but reviews were positive and the film made a modest sum at the box office.

Broadway and movie studio

The Book of Mormon (2011–present)

Parker and Stone, alongside writer-composer Robert Lopez, began working on a musical centering on Mormonism during the production of Team America. Lopez, a fan of South Park and creator of the puppet musical Avenue Q, met with the duo after a performance of the musical, where they conceived the idea. The musical, titled The Book of Mormon: The Musical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was worked on over a period of various years; working around their South Park schedule, they flew between New York and Los Angeles often, first writing songs for the musical in 2006. Developmental workshops began in 2008, and the crew embarked on the first of a half-dozen workshops that would take place during the next four years. Originally, producer Scott Rudin planned to stage The Book of Mormon off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop in Summer 2010, but opted to premiere it directly on Broadway, “[s]ince the guys [Parker and Stone] work best when the stakes are highest.”

After a frantic series of rewrites, rehearsals, and previews, The Book of Mormon premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on March 24, 2011. The Book of Mormon received broad critical praise for the plot, score, actors’ performances, direction and choreography. A cast recording of the original Broadway production became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades. The musical received nine Tony Awards, one for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The production has since expanded to two national tours, a Chicago production, UK production, and Parker and Stone have confirmed a film adaption is in pre-production.

Important Studios and future projects (2013–present)

On January 14, 2013, Stone and Parker announced that they would be starting a film production company called Important Studios. Inspired by the production work of Lucasfilm and DreamWorks, Stone and Parker considered founding the studio for approximately two years before committing. The initial financial assets of the studio are valued at $300 million, with the majority of the money originating from South Park, The Book of Mormon, while $60 million is from an investment from Joseph Ravitch of the Raine Group, giving him a 20 percent minority stock.

Personal life

In 2008, Stone married Angela Howard. Together they have two children.

Regarding religion, Stone describes himself as “ethnically Jewish”, on account of his mother’s religion, but grew up agnostic, and has no other adherence to the religion. He identifies himself as an atheist.

Discography

Albums

Soundtrack albums

List of soundtrack albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
US Can
Chef Aid: The South Park Album
  • Release date: November 24, 1998
  • Label: Columbia Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
16 14
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
  • Release date: November 24, 1998
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
28 20
Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics
  • Release date: November 23, 1999
  • Label: Sony Music Entertainment
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
Team America: World Police
  • Release date: October 19, 2004
  • Label: Sony Music Entertainment
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
“—” denotes releases that did not chart

Cast recording

List of cast recording albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
US
The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording
  • Release date: May 17, 2011
  • Label: Ghostlight Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
31
“—” denotes releases that did not chart

Filmography

  • Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
  • Orgazmo (1997)
  • BASEketball (1998)
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
  • Terror Firmer (1999)
  • Bowling for Columbine (2002)
  • Run Ronnie Run (2002)
  • Team America: World Police (2004)
  • The Aristocrats (2005)
  • This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
  • Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo (2007)
  • Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)


From: en.wikipedia.org

Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry, CBE (born 26 September 1945) is an English singer-songwriter and musician.

Ferry came to prominence in the early 1970s as the lead vocalist and principal songwriter with the art rock band Roxy Music, which had three number one albums and ten singles entering the top ten charts in the United Kingdom during the 1970s and the 1980s, including “Virginia Plain”, “Street Life”, “Love is the Drug”, “Dance Away”, “Angel Eyes”, “Over You”, “Oh Yeah”, “Jealous Guy”, and “More Than This”. Ferry began his solo career in 1973, while still a member of Roxy Music, which he continues to the present day. His solo hits include “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”, “Let’s Stick Together”, “This Is Tomorrow”, “Slave to Love” and “Don’t Stop the Dance”.

As well as being a prolific songwriter himself, Ferry has also been notable for his many cover versions of other artists’ songs and for his re-working of standards, especially from the Great American Songbook, in albums such as These Foolish Things (1973), Another Time, Another Place (1974) and As Time Goes By (1999). When his sales as a solo artist and as a member of Roxy Music are combined, Ferry has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
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ROLI – Seaboard

The Seaboard is a radically new musical instrument that reimagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface. In realising this powerful concept as a refined product, we have brought together years of innovation on several fronts. The Seaboard’s polyphonic pitch bend, vibrato and per-note dynamic changes are all available at your fingertips, marrying the intuitiveness of a traditional instrument with the versatility of digital technology. Continue reading →

"Making 'The Big Dream'" Documentary

David Lynch (cropped edit).jpg

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American film director, television director, visual artist, musician, actor, and author. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed a unique cinematic style. The surreal and, in many cases, violent elements contained within his films have been known to “disturb, offend or mystify” audiences.

Born to a middle-class family in Missoula, Montana, Lynch spent his childhood traveling around the United States, before going on to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he first made the transition to producing short films. Deciding to devote himself more fully to this medium, he moved to Los Angeles, where he produced his first motion picture, the surrealist horror film Eraserhead (1977). After Eraserhead became a cult classic on the midnight movie circuit, Lynch was employed to direct a biographical film about a deformed man Joseph Merrick, titled The Elephant Man (1980), from which he gained mainstream success. Then being employed by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, he proceeded to make two films: the science-fiction epic Dune (1984), which proved to be a critical and commercial failure, and then a neo-noir crime film, Blue Velvet (1986), which was critically acclaimed.

Next, Lynch created his own television series with Mark Frost, the popular murder mystery Twin Peaks (1990–1991; 2016); he also created a cinematic prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), a road movie, Wild at Heart (1990), and a family film, The Straight Story (1999), in the same period. Turning further towards surrealist filmmaking, three of his subsequent films operated on “dream logic”, non-linear narrative structures: the psychological thriller Lost Highway (1997), the neo-noir mystery film Mulholland Drive (2001) and the mystery film Inland Empire (2006). Meanwhile, Lynch embraced the Internet as a medium, producing several web-based shows, such as the animated short of Dumbland (2002) and the surreal sitcom Rabbits (2002).

Over his career, Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director and a nomination for best screenplay. Lynch has won France’s César Award for Best Foreign Film twice, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor, the country’s top civilian honor, as a Chevalier in 2002 and then an Officier in 2007, while that same year, The Guardian described Lynch as “the most important director of this era”. Allmovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”, while the success of his films has led to him being labelled “the first popular Surrealist.”

From: en.wikipedia.org