a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for May, 2013


Jayne Houdyshell Receives Drama Desk Career Achievement Award! Brava!

The great Jayne Houdyshell, one of the best actresses out there today, received a Career Achievement Award from the Drama Desk last week. Here she is, admitting it was “so totally unexpected.” But you deserve it, Jayne! You deserve it!

Cannes Film Festival Winners ~ Do We Care? Nominations, probably. Not wins.

So Cannes has announced it’s Palme d’Or winners, etc. etc. I come from the school that Cannes awards were virtually irrelevant to the Oscars. Except recently. Cannes was historically the dumping ground of the films Hollywood didn’t know what to do with.

But let me say it’s NOMINATIONS that Cannes can bring, not necessarily Oscars themselves. although recently we’ve seen notable exceptions

Like Jean DuJardin winning for Best Actor for “The Artist”. That’s a Cannes PLUS Harvey = Oscar equation. And that’s the winning combo, all elements needing to be present. And Harvey of course is Harvey Weinstein.

So I have to say that the three-hour “steamy lesbian romp,” as Tom O’Neil calls. it “Blue is the Warmest Color” is not an obvious or easy fit for Oscar. And first it’s got to get a nomination. Which is very questionable right now, if you ask me.

And you must be asking me or why would you be reading this?

“Inside Llewyn Davis”, from the Coen Brothers has gotten solid raves,along the Croissette, but also qualifiers saying it’s “minor Coens.” But getting the Jury Prize(means it’s #2) probably will mean it will get an Oscar nod as Best Film, no mean feat.

Will the leading actor, Jason Issac, who accepted for the Coens get an acting nod? Maybe.They weren’t there to accept it either. Bad form.

I mean, this film has to make Oscar Issac famous. Unknown Michael Stuhlbarg didn’t get nominated for the Coens previous “A Serious Man” despite his bravura performance. But the picture got a Best Picture nod in “The Year of the Ten” when Oscar voters had to make ten choices. Some thing like that could happen again. And Best Original Screenplay? Sure, if indeed it was original.

Now, Bruce Dern, a Hollywood veteran if ever there was one, could reap a nomination for his win as Best Actor in Cannes for Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”. He’s a shoe-in for the Old Coot slot. A very revered position, since that’s what the Academy is mostly made up of. And he’s never won an Oscar. But I thought this was a Supporting Performance? Guess not.

And Berenice Bejo getting a Best Actress award for Ashgar Farhadi’s “The Past” is now poised to get a second Oscar nomination following her supporting one for “The Artist.” She would take the now obligatory French actress slot. Last year we saw the divine Emmanuelle Riva get nominated for Best Actress,  but not win for the Palme d’Or winner “Amour.” “Amour” did get amour from the Academy for Best Foreign Film.

But a three-hour lesbian romp does not seem like an easy fit for Best Foreign Film this year. So “Blue” may not be the new Gold for Oscar.

But all of these I see, in my Oscarologist’s experience eye, as possible nominations not wins.

And it rained all the time too.



Best Play TONY Predictions by Stephen Holt & Scott Siegel!

More TONY Predictions by Stephen Holt & Scott Siegel at the Green Symphony restaurant in NYC! If you want more go to http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

Co-Host ~ T.J. Craig

Camera & Editing ~ Kevin Teller


Stephen Holt & Scott Siegel Predict the TONY Awards 2013!

Stephen Holt and Scott Siegel Predict the top six TONY categories, Best Play and Musical and Best Actor and Actress in a Play and Musical. Here they are having a very lively discussion, and actually AGREEING on who is going to win Best Actress in a Play.
If you want to see all six categories and predictions go to http://www.youtube.com/StephenHolt
Filmed on location at the Green Symphony restaurant in New York.
Co-Host -T.J.Craig
Camera & Editing ~ Kevin Teller


Richard Kind wins Best Featured Actor in a Play at the Drama Desk Awards!

The great Richard Kind turns a dastardly Hollywood mogol of the ’50s in Clifford Odets’ “The Big Knife” into a complex, almost likable guy. Kind won the Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play this past Sunday and is also nominated for a Tony Award in the same category for his terrific turn.

What’s so Great about Gatsby??? Not much.

That’s the question I always asked myself after finishing the book, which I loved. It’s deservedly a classic. But at the end of it, each time, and at the end of this bloated, horrifying Baz Luhrman-on-steroids version, when it was all over I kept thinking “What is so great Gatsby?”

I still don’t know.

I suppose it one of those great unanswered questions that the narrator Nick Carraway poses. He claims that Gatsby was one of the greatest men he ever met. Or THEE greatest.

And even though Leonardo Di Caprio is giving a charming, likeable performance in this almost unplayable role…you still end up with a big “huh”?

No Leo himself is an admirable figure. I do admire him, and so do millions of fans all over the world who are driving the box-office on this little love story internationally.

It’s a modest tale that doesn’t merit the overblown Baz style…maybe if it was a musical? It worked for “Moulin Rouge” but here it’s just too much.

How much is too much?

THIS is too much.

And it’s sort of literary homicide being created on poor, dead F. Scott Fitzgerald. If he were alive today, WHAT would he think? I guess he’d like all the early summer hoopla this film is heaping on his greatest novel…but do we really need to see F. Scott Fitzgerald in 3-D?

It’s an overblown device in any case. 3-D. I couldn’t bare it, even the thought of it, which made me skip the opening.

Those glasses! I would’ve had nausea and headaches for days! So I finally saw it in 2D, which was bearable, but honestly, this Gatsby was a bit of bore.

Jay Gatsby as a summer action hero? A blockbuster? And that’s exactly how Baz Luhrman directed it. As a comic book. A Classic Comic Book, the kind they used to have when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx.

I think in the end what was so beautiful and mesmerizing about “The Great Gatsby” was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s incandescent prose, which is showing every sign of being immortal.

But It was meant to be READ. It’s like a butterfly that you were meant to hold in your hand. Not blown up on the big screen, like an…well, like a blown-up butterfly.


Imagine the horror!

Well, you don’t have to imagine it, just skip this car wreck of a movie and read or re-read the beautiful book. You’ll be glad you did.


Judith Light! Winner! Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play! “The Assembled Parties”

The wonderful Judith Light just won the Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Richard Greenberg’s “The Assembled Parties.” She also won in this same category last year for “Other Dessert Cities.” I told her she would win the Drama Desk and then the Tony, too, last year, and SHE DID! Now you can see her surprised reaction when I said history was about to repeat itself, and she would win again. AND SHE DID! She’s also nominated for a Tony so maybe that will happen AGAIN this year! It’s very unusual for there to be two consecutive Tony wins in a row. But then I don’t remember this ever happening with the Drama Desk either. So….

If anyone one can pull off this impossible feat, it’s the much loved Judith Light!


Laura Osnes! A Heavenly Cinderella! Winner of the Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Musical!

A heavenly chat with a lovely, enchanting lady, Laura Osnes, Cinderella herself in “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
Originally written for Julie Andrews as a 90 minute black and white television show in the early ’60s, this is “Cinderella”s first time on Broadway, and the lovely Laura is sweeping all awards in her path. She is also nominated for a TONY Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

Drama Desk Award Winners! “Matilda”, “Vanya and Sonia…” and “Pippin”

Well, the Drama Desk Awards are FINALLY over! Just finished at Town Hall at an unbelievable four hours in length! That’s without commercials! 

That’s just how long it takes and its’ unfortunate that by the end of the fourth hour everybody and his mother are all getting very, very tired of the onstage band playing “Ask Me How Do I Feel?” over and over and over again until you could scream.

But since this is not a televised event(although this year you could watch live online at theatermania.com) nobody’s going to put the brakes on it. 

The last presenters, the always too= loud Beth Leavel and a sleepy looking Brian Stokes Mitchell, looked like they had just rolled out of bed to announce —wait for it—the last THREE winners! This was at like 10:45 pm or so EST. And it started at EIGHT! It’s as long as the Oscars!

Two of the last awards of the lonnnng night, Best Lyrics and Best Musical went to “Matilda”! Yea! And Bertie Carvel also won for his frighteningly brilliant hammer-thrower from hell, Miss Agatha Trunchbull, in the Outstanding Featured Actor category. For the Tonys next month he’s in lead and he’ll win there, too, I’m predicting it right now!  Bertie FTW!

“Matilda” also won for Best Book. Playwright Terence McNally was a bit flummoxed when nobody accepted the award and was about to move on to the next one, when British director Matthew Warchus bounded up onstage to accept it for the absent Dennis Kelly, who is, of course, back home in Blighty. Ditto Best Set went to “Matilda” and that made by my count, five, and made “Matilda” the biggest winner of the evening. Warchus also accepted Best Lyrics for the absent Tim Minchin.

Warchus quipped “I have to keep accepting awards for every category and
not my own!” He surprisingly lost Best Director of a Muscial to Diane Paulus for the explosive combination of circus and music and dance that is “Pippin.”

So I’m happy for the “Matilda” crew. As you all know, dear readers, dear lovers of theater that I know you all are, that was my best of the best-ties this year.

I was also happy for the wonderful Jayne Houdyshell, who got a career achievement award, and gave a very touching, elegant acceptance speech. It seemed like she got a standing ovation. Well, it was a very LOUD,long ovation. 

Cicely Tyson who won Outstanding Actress in a Play, won for “The Trip to Bountiful” DID get a standing ovation. And she had to be helped on to the stage and then bowed low and graciously to the audience. Something I’d never seen before. And she certainly deserved it.

She thanked the late playwright Horton Foote, who is finally having the success on Broadway that eluded him all his life. 

“Pippin” came in second with four awards for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Director and Choreography, and the astounding Andrea Martin deservedly won Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” won Best Play for a white-haired Christopher Durang, who claimed “This was my OLD play.” and that the stairs leading up to the stage “were the most stairs I’ve climbed in ages.”

I am going to cut to the case and just say that in the coming days, you will be seeing on this blog the nominees who went on to win tonight. 

I can’t wait to bring you Michael Urie, who best solo performance over Bette Middler! No! I’m not kidding! And I loved Bette in “I’ll Eat You Last” but she’s going home with only a Drama Desk Nomination. She was famously snubbed by the Tonys.I have always ADORED Bette and I feel awful for her. She’s BRILLLLLIANT in “Eat You”

Also coming to you right here is Jayne Houdyshell, and also Laura Osnes who won Best Actress in a Musical for “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”(Yes, that’s the official title) and also Tim Michin who as I said won big tonight for “Matilda” and who was present and accounted for at the Drama Desk Nominee Reception, which is beginning to appear on my You Tube Channel as you’re reading this. You’ll also see winners Judith Light for “Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play”, “The Assembled Parties” and Richard Kind for “Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play,” “The Big Knife.”

My show is at http://www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

And all the winners should soon be up on http://www.dramadeskawards.com and also on http://www.theatermania.com.

Stay tuned!



Andrew Weisblum, Oscar Nominee for “Black Swan”, talks about Aronofsky, Anderson & Editing

When I told Andrew Weisblum A.C.E., Academy Award Nominated Film Editor(for “Black Swan”) that I felt that film editors did not get the credit or recognition for the great contribution their work makes to films  and filmmakers we love, he said, “But we don’t want a light shined on us. We avoid the light. We are creatures of the dark,who like to live underground, in little dark rooms.” And for the most part that is an accurate description of what film editors do.

But not always. Weisblum is in that most enviable position of being the editor for two of the top film directors working today, Darren Aronofsky and Wes Anderson.and their editing styles couldn’t be more different.
And Weisblum’s contribution to their recent successes couldn’t be greater.Or more unknown.
What does he bring to the table? he was asked in an evening showcasing great film editors of today presented by Manhattan Edit Workshop as the first of a series of editing events of what they are calling “Inside the Cutting Room” hosted by Bobbi O’Steen, an editor herself, as well as the author of “Cut to the Chase.” 
“I bring myself,” the mild-mannered, but eloquent Weisblum answered. “I am totally open to whatever is being presented to me.”
Not always on track to one day being a Film Editor, Weisblum started out in Special Effects, most notably on the Academy Award Winner “Chicago,” and then came to meet  Darren Aronofsky in that capacity on his film “The Fountain,” which he worked on for a year. The collaboration became a very important one to both men, sensing in each other kindred spirits. 
And their relationship grew over time to one where now Weisblum is Aronofsky go-to-first editor on his subsequent projects, “Black Swan” and now is in post-production working on Aronosky’s epic “Noah.”
But he quickly noted that Aronofsky and Wes Anderson couldn’t be more different in how they approach working with an editor. 
Weisblum is never on set with Aronofsky and receives the footage to edit from him in an editing room, where he works on its’ assembly as is the classical paradigm of editing.
Anderson, on the other hand, shocked Weisblum, initially, by wanting to be IN the editing room with him, working on the footage together. 
“Wes Anderson” Weisblum noted “Has no rule book. It’s what he likes.” Whereas he finds Aronofsky is “a classicist. Who wants a structure, a beginning a middle and an end.” 
Anderson’s dialogue “is not natural.” He “does lots of different takes, but doesn’t rehearse.” 
His first collaboration was on Anderson’s “Darjelling Limited.” The story of three brothers(Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody & Jason Schwartzman). looking for their mother(Angelica Huston) who abandoned them and ran off to become a nun in India.Something you don’t find out til the very end of the film. Said O’Steen,”I’m spoiling the film for you, but it’s just such a good clip I had to show it.” Likewise when the time came to talk about “Moonrise Kingdom” it was again an extended clip of the film’s ending that she showed.
Weisblum said he was privy to Anderson’s editing style, which was ever-evolving, in the time he began working with him. Anderson, was most heavily influenced by the stop-motion animation cartoon “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” that Anderson directed after “Darjeeling” and before “Moonrise,” Weisblum said, surprisingly.
“Wes had never worked with story-boards before,” Weisblum said, “And ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’ was story-boarded to death.” But Anderson fell in love with this approach to editing and shooting, beloved by, for instance, the great Alfred Hitchcock, and used it extensively to prepare “Moonrise Kingdom.” Saving the production costs from sky-rocketing on this unusual, quirky love story that had to be done on a dime, “and was very difficult to finance.”
Weisblum found himself not only ON the set of “Moonrise” during the shooting at the beautifully scenic Camp Yawgoog (where my mother went as a girl scout in the ’20s) in Rhode Island, but living in the same house with Anderson.
He brought his laptop with him, and showed Anderson the day’s edit as they went along with the shooting. 
“Moonrise” was also complicated by the fact that the two tween actors, who were playing the leads didn’t really like each other, but were supposed to be the embodiment of young love. “The boy thought that the girl was yucky,” is how Weisblum put it. While, of course, the young actress was quite attractive.
And for the pivotal dancing-in-their-underwear on the beach scene, Anderson had to throw out his story boards and shoot it ‘from literally every angle” and “every line
had to be recorded and re-corded in a studio” because the young actors couldn’t make it sound believable. Looked at it that way, that scene and the uber-collaborative contribution of Andrew Weisblum as film editor, sound man, sounding board and best friend to Wes Anderson on “Moonrise Kingdom” cannot be underestimated.
Andrew Weisblum is also a very nice guy and the kind of kind spirit that auteur directors only dream about. And I’m sure both Darren Arofosky and Wes Anderson both appreciate and value working with this amiable, low-key artist of the editing room. 

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