a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for June, 2015


Color Me A Rainbow! So PROUD!

SH Rainbow 1Happy Pride, Everybody! Dear Readers! Dear Cineastes All! A VERY Happy Pride!

George Takei Celebrates Gay Marriage Act

George Takei





(New York)

George Takei is traveling this morning, but upon receiving the news of today’s Supreme Court Decision released this statement on behalf of himself and the entire company of his upcoming Broadway musical Allegiance.


“This is a happy day, not just for LGBT Americans, but for all Americans. It is the beginning of an era where we no longer will speak about same-sex marriage, but of marriage. And one day, we need not speak of LGBT rights, for they simply will be human rights. Across this great land, families are celebrating because we truly are one family”.


This is a thrilling moment in time.  As with the story of Allegiance, we are truly “One Family…Indivisible.” This historic day and decision by the highest court in our land makes us all truly united and one.



Bway’s “It Shoulda Been You” Offers Marriage Equality Special!

Marriage Equality 2



“ I T   S H O U L D A   B E E N   Y O U ”






New York, NY (June 26, 2015) In honor of the Supreme Court’s historic decision to give marriage equality to all, It Shoulda Been You is inviting everyone to celebrate love and equality with buy-one, get-one-free tickets to share with your spouse (even if you haven’t had the chance to make it officially legal yet!).  This special offer is valid for just 72 hours and will end Monday, June 29, 2015 at 12 pm.   It Shoulda Been You’s equality offer is valid for all performances in July.  The offer may be redeemed via Ticketmaster.com using the code MEQ1, by calling 877-250-2929, or in person at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre box office (256 W 47Th Street).


Directed by Emmy and Tony Award-winner David Hyde Pierce, It Shoulda Been You has been celebrating marriage equality since it began performances in March.  The only show on Broadway to include a gay wedding, a lesbian wedding, and a straight wedding, the production regularly expands on its message of love and acceptance in a variety of ways.  Several couples have proposed and exchanged vows on stage, including a young gay couple who are now happily engaged.  The producers of It Shoulda Been Yourecently invited all of the Justices of the Supreme Court to see the show for a positive example of what love and marriage equality look like.

It Shoulda Been You is a culture clash for the ages when two families from wildly different backgrounds come together to celebrate a wedding.  As if the union wasn’t complicated enough, the bride’s ex-boyfriend arrives, bringing the wedding to a screeching halt and throwing both families into hysterical chaos. Plots are hatched, promises broken, secrets exposed – and the bride’s resourceful sister is left to turn an unmitigated disaster into happily ever after. It Shoulda Been You puts a refreshingly modern spin on the traditional wedding comedy, proving that when it comes to wedding day insanity, it’s all relative.

It Shoulda Been You features an original book & lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music by Barbara Anselmi.  Tony and Emmy Award-winner Tyne Daly and Tony Award-winner Harriet Harris, lead an all-star cast of Broadway luminaries which also includes, Sierra Boggess, David Burtka, Lisa Howard,Edward Hibbert, Tony Award-nominee Montego Glover, Josh Grisetti, Adam Heller, Michael X. Martin, Anne L. Nathan, Nick Spangler and Chip Zien.

The full creative team for It Shoulda Been You includes Josh Rhodes (Choreography) Anna Louizos(Set Design), William Ivey Long (Costume Design), Ken Billington (Lighting Design), and Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), with additional lyrics by Jill Abramovitz, Carla Rose Fisher, Michael Cooper, Ernie Lijoi and Will Randall.

It Shoulda Been You is produced on Broadway by Daryl Roth, Scott Landis, Jane Bergère, Jayne Baron Sherman, Patty Baker, Broadway Across America, Clear Channel Spectacolor, Gloken LLC, James L. Nederlander, John O’Boyle, Judith Ann Abrams/Jacki Barlia Florin, Old Campus Productions/Ready to Play, and Sara Beth Zivitz/Passero Productions.

It Shoulda Been You plays Tuesdays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 pm and 8 pm, Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm.  Tickets are on sale to the public via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-653-8000. A limited number of $35 Rush Tickets are also available for same-day purchase at the Brooks Atkinson box office. There is a limit of 2 rush tickets per person, and they are only available in-person at the box office.


Supreme Court Rules Marriage Equality Legal!

Marriage Equality 1In an historic ruling this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that Gay Marriage is now legal and the law of the land!

I never thought I’d live to see the day. This is what we have all been struggling for all these years and now it’s finally happened! I’m overcome with joy and gratitude to all my GLBT brothers and sisters who have fought the long, hard fight and many of them their lives and careers to the Gay Rights movement that started with some angry drag queens at Stonewall in 1969, and has ended today in 2015 with this historic ruling.

What a moment for us all! Words cannot express…

Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” Her First or Second Novel?

Harper leeEveryone in the reading world right now seems to be obsessed with Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And the question of why did she write only one book?

A Southern novelist to the core, the same question can be applied to that other great Southern writer of one,  only one highly successful novel,Margaret Mitchell. And that novel, of course, was “Gone with the Wind.”

I never thought it was a particularly confusing question. The international acclaim, critically and monetarily would be hard to top. They said what they had to say, and that was that. Same question as why did Greta Garbo retire so early? She wanted to.

But now another NEW book by Harper Lee has purportedly been discovered and will now be published in July. The suspense is mounting. Is it any good? Will it be the caliber of “To Kill A Mockingbird”?

How can it be?

It’s an impossible mountain to climb, and the fact that it was written a long time ago, maybe a VERY long time ago makes me feel that Harper Lee, being the wise woman that she was/is, just didn’t want it to be seen or read.

This may and I emphasize MAY have been the first book she wrote BEFORE “To Kill a Mockingbird” made her a literary sensation.

The book that she shopped around to publishers when she was an unknown first novelist in New York struggling to make her name. And it was rejected by everyone. I know the feeling.

And THEN she wrote “Mockingbird” plainly and simply and it, like “Gone With the Wind” really did not need a follow-up.

“Go Set a Watchman” – What an awkward, collegiate writing class title! Is probably not a patch on “Mockingbird.”

I think this whole thing is a literary stunt of the first water. Maybe she needs the money in her twilight years. Maybe, it’s been suggested, she doesn’t really know, cognitively, what really is going on with her unheard of, silent second book. Or was it her first surpressed one?

We’ll find out very soon. One thing’s for sure. It will be an international best seller. Interest in it is very, very high. But will it be any good? Or will it be very bad? That remains to be seen.

I, for one, can’t wait. And “Hey, Boo!” is a great documentary on Lee and is coming up soon on PBS. Don’t miss it.

PBS to present updated Harper Lee doc

Harper Lee 2

THIRTEEN’s American Masters Presents Updated Harper Lee Documentary July 10 on PBS in Honor ofTo Kill a Mockingbird Author’s Second Novel,
Go Set a Watchman


New York metro area celebration “THIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee” features special broadcasts, web exclusives and event at Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center

Watch films and and connect with more than 200 cultural icons atpbs.org/americanmasters


One of the most influential American novels of the 20th century and biggest bestsellers of all time,To Kill a Mockingbird was believed to be the first and only novel by Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926), until now. On July 14, HarperCollins will release Lee’s earliest known work, Go Set a Watchman, featuring characters from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which was published 55 years ago (July 11, 1960).


In honor of this landmark literary event, THIRTEEN’s American Masters series presents a newly updated version of Emmy®-winning filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy’s 2012 documentaryHarper Lee: Hey, Boo, broadcast as Harper Lee: American Masters on Friday, July 10, 9 – 10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The author of Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird, Murphy was able to read an advance copy of the new novel before updating the film and will live tweet (#HarperLeePBS) during the broadcast.


Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and believed to be lost or destroyed. Its remarkable discovery allows readers of Lee’s beloved classic the chance to see Atticus and Scout again. How and why this happened is a mystery we unravel in the new version of the documentary,” said Murphy.


In the New York metro area, PBS flagship station THIRTEEN, which produces the American Masters series, will celebrate the release of Go Set a Watchman with “THIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee,” a 13-day, multi-platform event on-air, online and in the community from Sunday, July 5 – Friday, July 17. Highlights include an online book club in partnership with the New York Public Library (July 6-13); new, multimedia To Kill a Mockingbird classroom resources for teachers on PBS LearningMedia (July 7); the premiere of a MetroFocus interview with Murphy (July 9 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21, 8:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN and 10:30 p.m. on NJTV); a free screening of Harper Lee: American Masters and a Q&A with Murphy at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center streamed live online (July 13); web exclusive content; broadcast interstitials and more.


Lee once said she wanted to be South Alabama’s Jane Austen, but became an enigma when she stopped speaking to press in 1964 after her whirlwind success. Harper Lee: American Mastersoffers an unprecedented look at Lee’s life, illuminates the phenomenon behind To Kill a Mockingbird and the Oscar®-winning 1962 film adaptation, and previews Go Set a Watchman, which Lee wrote in 1957. The documentary features interviews with Lee’s friends and family – including her centenarian sister Alice (now deceased) – who share intimate recollections, anecdotes and biographical details for the first time: Lee’s rise from small-town Alabama girl to famous author, her tumultuous friendship with Truman Capote, and the origin of her most memorable characters: Atticus Finch, his daughter Scout, her friend Dill, and Boo Radley.


The film also explores the context and history of the novel’s Deep South setting and the social changes it inspired after publication and through the feature film starring Gregory Peck. Oprah Winfrey, Rosanne Cash, Tom Brokaw, Pulitzer Prize-winners Rick Bragg, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Jon Meacham and Diane McWhorter, James Patterson, Wally Lamb, Scott Turow, civil rights leader Andrew Young, and others reflect on the novel’s power, influence, popularity, and the ways it has shaped their lives.


“Harper Lee was ahead of her time. She challenged the social order and made a cultural impact withTo Kill a Mockingbird that still resonates today. I’m thrilled that American Masters is able to give viewers a sneak peek at Lee’s new novel,” said Michael Kantor, executive producer ofAmerican Masters.


Launched in 1986, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards – including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special – 12 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards and many other honors. Now in its 29th season on PBS, the series is also seen on the WORLD channel. To take American Mastersbeyond the television broadcast and further explore the themes, stories and personalities of masters past and present, the series’ companion website (http://pbs.org/americanmasters) offers streaming video of select films, interviews, photos, outtakes, essays and more.


Harper Lee: American Masters is a production of Mary Murphy & Company, LLC. Mary McDonagh Murphy is producer, writer and director. Rich White is director of photography. Christopher Seward is editor and producer. Michael Kantor and Susan Lacy are executive producers for American Masters. The series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET.


Second Tony Casualty “Gigi” Set to Close, too.

Victoria ClarkSo the Tony Awards, or lack thereof, claims Victim #2, “Gigi” is set to close on Sunday, June 21. This is after the announcement that “The Visit” is closing this Sunday. And I’m predicting there will be more.

I guess Broadway audiences weren’t ready to absorb TWO Vincent Minnelli  French-ified adaptations this year. And “An American in Paris” stole “Gigi” Gallic thunder.

Based on one of Hollywood’s and Minnelli’s most delightful,enduring and multiple Oscar-winning confections, “Gigi:The Musical” glowed and throbbed in my estimation, but only got one Tony nomination, for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Victoria Clark as Mamita. It’s the role that Hermione Gingold essayed so brilliantly in the movie, even though she was thoroughly British.

Clark did not win, and “Gigi” got zero Tonys, just like “The Visit” though it did win Best Costumes from the Drama Desk.

Au revoir, ma petite “Gigi”. I know I’ll see you soon again somewhere!
PS: A National Tour is planned.

Oscar Chances for “Love & Mercy”? Not so much

Love and MercyI really hate it when my critical colleagues are raving, and I go see a movie that has been hailed everywhere and I think “Wha….?” Love and Mercy” is another small film that has been over-hyped and arrived far-too-early for Oscar. I mean, it’s JUNE! Not September…

You can always tell by the release date. And putting this serious-minded film out in JUNE and expecting it to last until the Oscar season hits in earnest, which let’s face it is the fall, at the earliest, is really hoping for a little too much in this case.

I mean, it’s OK, with three great supporting performances, if you count John Cusack’s older iteration of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys “genius” as supporting, plus an astoundingly good turn by Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti playing Wilson’s “Evil” psychiatrist/doctor/keeper/jailer to the max. Well, those three performances will last, if the film company keeps pushing them.

But it’s a long, long way from here to September, as the song goes. And Paul Dano for Best Actor?!? You’ve got to be kidding! He put on weight and flails around and stares and zones in and out aand is not a very compelling center to this bi-fircated film. “Love and Mercy” is literally two films. One about the young Brian(Dano) and one by about the old(er) Brian done stunningly by John Cusack, who has never been this good.

Dano was better in “Twelve Years a Slave” and even better in that Canadian film where he played a child molester. He plays bad good.

But here where we are supposed to identify with this crazy mixed-up kid that is the young super-self-indulgent Wilson, well, it was hard to relate to his crazy. He stares a lot and that is supposed to convince he’s schizophrenic. Or something like that.

Cusack is MUCH more compelling as the older Wilson, really going THERE as far as the mental illness is concerned. He COULD get a supporting nomination, even though he’s the lead.

You see the film is split in two, and if it WASN’T it would not seem original at all. You really need one actor to identify with. Jamie Foxx in “Ray” and Marion Cotillard in “La Vie En Rose” come to mind as similar Oscar-winning musical bio-pics. But the lead was played by ONE person. Not two.

Cutting Brian Wilson in two does not help us like him more. And I think it cuts its’ Oscar chances in two, if it ever gets that far.

The really revelatory performance was Elizabeth Banks’, an actress not none for her complexity, or dramatic chops. Here she totally nails the role of Melinda, the good, normal and stunningly beautiful Cadillac sales person, who Wilson falls in love with in middle age and who saves his life.

In a weak actress field, and aren’t they always these days? Banks might pull it out. She and Cusack are terrific together. But “Love and Mercy” has a hard slog getting to November and awards time.



My Favorite Un-Sung Moment from Last Night’s Tonys

Kelli O'HaraMy favorite Un-Sung, Un-Mentioned (at least so far) Moment from last Night’s Tony Awards, was six-time nominee, and finally a winner, Kelli O’Hara looking at the Silver Disc at last in her hand and saying “I don’t need this!”

First Tony Casualty “The Visit to Close

Chita 2Just shows you what a blood sport Broadway and the TONYs are. You don’t win any TONYs even if you ARE Chita Rivera and written by Kander and Ebb, you close prematurely. Read it and weep.









New York (June 8, 2015) – Producers announced today that The Visit starring Chita Rivera will play its final performance on Sunday, June 14th (3 PM).  Previews began on March 26th and opening night was April 23, 2015.  The Visit is at the Lyceum Theatre   (149 West 45th Street).


The Visit was nominated for 5 Tony Award® nominations including Best Musical.  It is the final collaboration of John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics). Book is by Terrence McNally and it is directed by John Doyle with choreography by Graciela Daniele.


Speaking on behalf of the production, lead producer Tom Kirdahy  said “The Visit has created a sensation on Broadway and generated interest in productions around the world.  We are eager for the release of the original recording of our CD and look forward to future productions across the globe.  It has been our great privilege to present the legendary Chita Rivera in the final Kander and Ebb musical.  This has been one for the history books”.


The cast is led by Tony Award® winner and 2015 nominee Chita Rivera as Claire Zachanassian.  Ms. Rivera received the 2015 Drama League Award for Outstanding Performance of the Year for her role.  The Broadway cast also features Tom Nelis as Anton Schell,  George Abud as Karl, Jason Danieley as Frederich Kuhn, Matthew Deming as Louis Perch, Diana Dimarzio as Annie Dummermut,  David Garrison as Peter Dummermut, Rick Holmes as Father Josef, Ken Krugman as Rudi, Chris Newcomer as Jacob Chicken, Mary Beth Peil as Matilde Schell, Aaron Ramey as Otto Hahnke, Elena Shadow as Ottilie, Timothy Shew as Hans Nusselin, with John Riddle and Michelle Veintimilla.


Final performances are Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday at 7 pm.  Friday and Saturday at 8 pm with matinees on Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets can be purchased at Telecharge.com (212 239-6200).


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