a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

True story. On the way to her first major political event, Cynthia Nixon was late because she was stuck in the subway!


It’s Official! Out Gay Actress and two time Tony Winner, Cynthia Nixon has thrown her always -stylish hat into the political ring as is running for the Democratic Nomination for Governor of New York state! I’D VOTE FOR HER! Immediately!

I remember so clearly when she was accepting the Drama Desk Award, or was it the Tony just this past year for “Little Foxes” at the Manhattan Theater Club. She quoted Lillian Hellman’s rebel-rousing speech for “Little Foxes” about how there were two kinds of people. The Little Foxes who stole the grapes, and two, the people who just stood by and watched “and did nothing.”

And I thought that was a very brave statement to make at an Awards ceremony when she really didn’t have to go there, to that subject, I mean. and hmmm, “Is she making a step here?” Towards politics, I mean. And I was right! She was! Go Cynthia!

At first blush, I found myself bored with the next-to-last episode of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” It seemed trite, formulaic. Is this what we’ve been put through for nearly two months? The fact that now that we see him, it’s all another simple, ’50s. Freudian episode, Ep.8, “Creator/Destroyer,” or it could be called simply “Blame the Father.” Andrew Cunanan has been the REAL central character of this epic saga and now we finally have a reason for his murderous killing spree of 20 years ago. His father.He may have been molested by his own father. And to hear others tell it, there may have been priests, that priests plural, doing it to him, too.

But it’s all there in the story. Andrew is incredibly spoiled and doted upon by this rather slimy father Modesto “Pete” Cunanan. He is given the master bedroom to the new house they move into.

The mother has to sleep on the sofa.. He keeps caressing his son’s hair. He says to Andrew at one point “You’re a good boy. You don’t make a sound.” And then it moves in on the father and fades to black.  It’s subtle, but it’s there. The show’s creator Bryan Murphy and writer Tim Bob Smith have laid down all the clues, in a way they can be either ignored or acknowledged by the audience.

And he gives him a car when only 11 years old, according to the show, when Andrew had three older siblings who all could’ve driven it. His affection for his son almost seems obsessional. And more than explains Andrew love/hate relationships with the older men we see him constantly involved with. The master bedroom, which also had its own bath, was far away from the rest of the family’s sleeping quarters, so they wouldn’t “hear a sound.”

The great Filipino actor Jon Jon Briones is just brilliant as Andrew’s ne’er-do-well father. I saw him in an even sleazier role on Broadway last season in “Miss Saigon” belting a song that is incredibly apropos here, too, “The American Dream.”

Modesto, who used the name “Pete” in America, came to the U.S. via the Navy and afterwards ascended to the heights of stock broking at Merrill Lynch, before he began HIS precipitous slide to a low-rent brokerage house in San Diego. He fled the country as the F.B.I. came looking for him for embezzlement. Oh, and he regularly beat his hapless wife (a just right Joanna Adler),too.

He sold his family’s house out from under them and took off for Manila, the capital of the Philippines, leaving Andrew and his mother and his other three children with nothing. Everything was a fraud. A lie. It’s the traumatic episode of Andrew’s life.

Andrew follows him to the Philipines,but then is disgusted to find him hiding out & living in squalor.

After all this, and Darren Criss’ magnificent,astounding performance, one can’t but feel what  Criss has stated was his reason for taking on this complex, controversial role, “to create empathy.” He did. Bravo, Darren! You did it, man. Give that boy an Emmy.


What an incredible surprise it was to discover Penelope Cruz’ smashing performance as Donatella Versace in FX’ red-hot TV series “The Assassination of Gianna Versace.” She’s almost too big for the small screen as she melts hearts and TV sets across America,as she comes wholly into her own in Episode 7, which is focused finally, mainly on her, and her complex relationship with her brother, the murdered Out Gay fashion desigDonatella & Versacener Gianni Versace.

I can’t remember Penelope ever being given such a complex role IN ENGLISH. Sure, she’s been burning up the screen for a decade or two in the great parts Pedro Almodovar has written for her, but they’ve all been in Spanish. The brilliant series creater Ryan Murphy tops himself yet again in this ground-breaking American Crime Story series by giving full-rein and focus to the brother/sister relationship, which is arguably one of the most fascinating and creative of our times.

Gianni & DonatellaYou see, Versace knows he is dying, of AIDS, and his devoted, feisty, but caring sister knows it, too. The Versace family has denied any of this, and even denied that Versace knew his killer, Andrew Cunanan. But Murphy begs to differ, and I think he’s right. In any case, his scenes in Episode 7, show the magnificent Edgar Ramirez at his absolute best as he tries to make the shy, yes, shy, well, diffident Donatella begin to take over the reins of his company.

His dark eyes are filled with the knowledge (was it premonition?) on his part that he is not going to be around much longer, and that in the limited time that is left to him, he has to make his beautiful, flighty sister come to grips with not only his upcoming demise (AIDS could kill you in those days, 20 years ago) but face the responsibility of her own talent, as an entrepreneur, and a fashion designer in her own right.

He senses her talent, but she doesn’t. But she cares about him and doesn’t want him to part from her in any manner, business, fashion or otherwise. But he knows how sick he is and it is inevitable. He knows she is his legacy, and it trying to make her see it, but she doesn’t want to.

Cruz hits all the right notes of definance, denial, insecurity and greatness. We’ve been waiting for this episode all season, and Ramirez matches her beat for beat, heartbeat for heartbeat, in this poignant pas de deux.

Still going backwards in time, we know what’s coming but the characters don’t. The tragic, brief life and early death of Gianni Versace is not to be avoided and Murphy and his incredibly versatile writer Tom Bob Smith have done a brilliant job making sure all these points are made and every tone is touched on.

Versace Ep.5 Trio

And Andrew Cunanan? We see our future assassin here at his youngest and seemingly most normal working as the cashier in a drug store. We also see him making his first tentative steps into being a call boy. Rich, older men are the ones who like him the most, and we see how dangerous THAT life can be when one of his sugar daddes is murdered with a hammer by a trick (Andrew is shown to have witnessed this bloody scene, which in real life, he probably didn’t) but he certainly KNEW of it. He also saw how easy it was to get away with a gay murder, even one this bloodily brutal. The police just didn’t care. It was a gay person, no matter how rich he was.

Andrew at Party

And it totally prefigures the way Cunanan brutally murders his Navy friend Jeff Trial, a few episodes back. Which is to say forward. That’s the other great innovation Murphy and Bob Smith have made, the reverse time story line.

We also get to see Andrew continue to torture his simple-minded Mother, who this time he slams into a wall and breaks her shoulder, because she bought him the wrong kind of ice cream.

With only two more episodes to go, we will finally see Andrew’s abusive Filipino father, and  final suicide on a house boat as the police finally close in. I can’t wait.

Well, the Oscars started off with a bang tonight when the first award went to my old friend Sam Rockwell for his superb performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.” I always wanted to know what it was like to have friends be up for Oscars. And this year I had THREE! And they alllll won! Sam, and Frances McDormand and Allison Janney, they ALLLLL won!

They also had in common that they were once solidly based in New York, then they all moved to L.A. and all found success there. Well, Frances didn’t. She still lives here, and I bet Sam and Allison are based in L.A. Allison has a TV  series “Mom.” She said in the press room after she got offstage, words to the effect that thank god, she had “a job to go to in the morning. After such an up as this, I’m going to experience a big drop.” And I appreciated her honesty.

In think Fran is just happy this ordeal, as I’m sure she would describe it is over. And she and her husband and son just hopped into a limo and sped off to wherever home is for them out there in L.A. L.A. land. Now she has two Oscars. Should she try for three? She seems to have the energy of at least ten people.

And to win against such stiff, popular younger competition! I look forward to years of great performances and from Sam, too. He’s hotter than hot right now and has already got two films finished and in the can and in one of them, he plays George Bush!

And he was very, very close to the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. His death must have really been a heavy blow for Sam, as it was to all who knew “Phil,” as they all called him. He was Phillip’s protégé, friends say.

And certainly, his legacy lives on in the excellent work Sam ALWAYS does. Have you ever seen a film called “Moon?” He was an astronaut stranded alone on the moon. He was awesome in it. It was an Indie film, and not at all like Matt Damon’s recent Mars film. And it wasn’t funny. It was about loneliness. There isn’t anything Sam can’t play and he will be asked now to play EVERYTHING. An Oscar win like this really cements his career. He’ll never be out of work again, unless HE wants to.

But I’m disappointed that “Three Billboards” didn’t win Best Picture, and that “Call Me By Your Name” only got one Oscar, Best Adapted Screenplay. But at least it got that.

And while I LIKED “The Shape of Water.” I did. I really did.  I liked “Three Billboards” better. And poor Martin McDonagh got shafted, but he has another play Off Broadway right now called “The Hangman” and I’m so sure he’ll be back with more.

“The Hangman” is already planning a Broadway transfer. I can’t wait to see it!

I hate to say poor Greta Gerwig, but….she won nothing. It’s more like “Poor Laurie Metcalf”. But Laurie’s opening soon on Broadway playing the lead in Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women.” So she’ll be OK. And she’s back on the air before very long in the returning “Roseanne.”

It’s bittersweet. Knowing those three people as well as I do. Or let’s be honest, those acquaintances that I know very well. Acquaintances aren’t your friends. Not really. But it’s nice to know them, and see how they all handle going through the Oscars.

Allison and Fran seemed nervous wrecks. But Sam was JUST FINE! And good luck to all the winners! I hope one day to have you on my show again. Or that we are working on a play of mine someday. Well, I can dream, can’t I? They’ll all be busy forever.

Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren both looking fabulous present the Best Actor award to Gary Oldman, for his magisterial performance as Sir Winston Churchhill  in “The Darkest Hour.” He thanks his 99-year-old mother. “Put the kettle on.” He was once on my show for “Soldier, Sailor, Tinker, Spy”

Frances McDormand wearing a very nice looking outfit for a change, gave her usual rousing speech. Making every nominee in the audience stand up, and with her. She put her Oscar down to do this. And ended with the words “Inclusion Rider.” In think that somehow referred to  equal finances. For men and women. She was so nervous. She was really shaking. And she’s given better.“The Shape of Water” wins Best Picture. This is Mexico’s greatest night.


Britisher Roger Deakins wins an Oscar for Best Cinematography after 14 nominations! Phew! For “Blade Runner.”

Keala Settle brings down the house with a rousing rendition of “This Is Me” from the “World’s Greatest Showman” which stars Hugh Jackman. She’s always been incredible. I first saw her in “Hands on a Hard Body” a Broadway musical of a few years back. I’m glad to see her come into her own like she did tonight. She got a standing ovation.

Now Christopher Walken gets another standing ovation. He gives out “Best Score” and Alexandre Desplat wins it for “The Shape of Water.”

Lynn-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt give up Best Song to “Remember Me” from “Coco” Robert Lopez and his wife who also wrote “Frozen” and won an Oscar previously for “Let It Go.” They’ve also got the stage version of “Frozen” opening in the near future. Mexico is really winning tonight.

And now Guillermo Del Toro wins Best Director! As expected and predicted everywhere. Moving Speech, “I am an immigrant.”

“My mother thanks you. My Father Thanks you. And my brothers and sisters thank you.” He concluded paraphrasing George M. Cohan.Guillermo del Toro

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