a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for June, 2016

Oscar Winner Mark Rylance Tour de Forces as Spielberg’s “The BFG”! Brilliant, Funny & Glorious!

Mark Rylance & Oscar 3The main joy of Steven Spielberg’s newest “The BFG” is the glorious performance of recent Oscar Winner Mark Rylance as the title character, the BFG, or  Big Friendly Giant. It’s almost a one-man movie as Rylance is transmorgrified by millions of dollars worth of special effects make-up and animatronics into the skinny, big-eared, receding jaw-lined Giant named Runt.

And the wonder to watch is that Rylance is such a superb actor, he out-acts his make-up, or acts through this perhaps ponderous obstacle to give a truly glowing, heartfelt performance. His Runt is wondrous in every way possible. He acts with his warm, brown,unanimated human eyes, and treats Roald Dahl’s gibberish language as if it were Shakespeare. It was music to my ears.


You see, giants usually eat children. But not the BFG. He’s a vegetarian thriving on grostesque, green snozzcumbers, but not his fellow giants, who are bigger and grosser than he is. With names like Gizzargulper, Childchewer, Maidmashser, Bloodbottler, Manhugger(well, that’s not so grotesque), Fleshlumpeater, Meatdripper, Butcherboy and Bonechruncher.Bullies all, and Runt really IS a runt compared to their, well, gigantic-ness. An unrecognizably- voiced Bill Hader is main among them, and they sniff out little Sophie’s presence(Rose Barnhill) and are ravenous to eat her. Sophie has had the misfortune (or fortune) to be kidnapped by Runt and whisked off to Giant Land. BFG 2

Runt, of course hides Sophie, in every nook and cranny imaginable in his phantasmagoric cottage, and that is basically the plot. Runt is a dream-catcher and dream-shaper by profession, and though I felt being sent off to dream-land myself at times, the conclusion of the film, with Runt and Sophie seeking out the Queen of England, circa 1982, to help them provides a hilarious conclusion. Penelope Wilton, Cousin Isabel of “Downtown Abbey” is also just grand as Her Majesty.Penelope Wilton 1

It’s not top-draw Disney(the script is overlong and meanders in the middle) but it’s one of the best outings Steven Spieberg has had in a long time.

And the wonderful Mark Rylance! Could he get an Oscar nomination, again, even though he’s almost over-loaded with CGIs? If anybody could,  he could. In any case, it’s a delight.

#BFG #Mark Rylance #Oscar #BIG FRIENDLY GIANT #Penelope Wilton # Special Effects

Happy Gay Pride 2016!

Gay Pride 2016 1Happy Gay Pride 2016 to all my dear readers, cineastes & lovers of theatre!

We celebrate that we’re all still here and stronger and more visible than ever! As the below poster says, “Hate Will  Not Defeat Love!”Gay Pride 2016 2

Provincetown Award Winners 2016

Ptown 2016 1With great regret and sadness, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend this year’s Provincetown International Film Restival. Though I was enthusiastically invited. Things that I don’t want to bore you all with stopped me, but suffice it to say, I look forward to attending NEXT year and going to to the Montreal and Toronto Film Festivals in August and September. It just killed me to miss two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee. who I adore /and whom I have so much to talk about with His”Brokeback Mountain” changed my life, as I always say. He was the guest of honor as this year’s “Fimmaker on the Edge.”

But anywho, here’s a list of the award winners that were announced last night.

HBO Audience Award/Best Narrative Feature: 
THE INNOCENTS directed by Anne Fontaine
HBO Audience Award/Best Documentary Feature (tie):
directed by Morgan Neville
POLITICAL ANIMALS directed by Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares
HBO Short Documentary Award:

TERRITORY directed by Eleanor Mortimer

The John Schlesinger Award, presented to a first time feature filmmaker (narrative): 
BLOOD STRIPE directed by Remy Auberjonois
The John Schlesinger Award, presented to a first time feature filmmaker (documentary): 
OFF THE RAILS directed by Adam Irving
Here Media Award – Best Queer Short Film: 

ONE LAST NIGHT directed by Kerem Blumberg

Best Narrative Short Film:

THUNDER ROAD directed by Jim Cummings

Best Animated Short Film: 

GLOVE directed by Alexa Haas and Bernardo Britto

Best New England Short Film: 

BLACK CANARIES directed by Jesse Kreitzer

Best Student Short Film:

THE MINK CATCHER directed by Samantha Buck

Special Mention:

¡MAIS DURO! directed by Camila Saldarriaga

Congratulations to all our winners and to all the hardworking artists and filmmakers on the edge who attended this year’s 
18th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival!
The Short Film Jury consisted of Ian Samuels (filmmaker, MYRNA THE MONSTER), Lisanne Skyler (filmmaker, BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF)) and Kim Yutani (Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival).
Save the date and join us for next year’s festival!
June 14-18, 2017
Making Provincetown the Global Destination for Creative Exploration In Film!
The Provincetown Film Festival| 508.487.3456| info@ptownfilm.org |www.ptownfilmfest.org/

Dame Judi Dench to Play Queen Victoria ~ AGAIN!

Judi Dench as Elizaberth 1This is very exciting news! Academy Award Winner Dame Judi Dench is set to play Britain’s Queen Victoria in a new film produced by Focus Features, directed by Oscar Nominee Stephen Frears. It’s called “Victoria and Abdul.”This is the news from Kristin Carag, the publicist of the film, who just sent me this exciting press release. I thought I’d print all of it for you.

Judi won an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth 1(pictured above) in “Shakespeare in Love.” And the last time she played Queen Victoria in “Mrs. Brown”, she got Oscar nominated, but didn’t win. I think in all she’s received something like six nominations as detailed below.

Like Audra McDonald with the Tonys, and Meryl Streep with the Oscars, every time she does something of this magnitude, she gets a nomniation. Sasha Stone has a saying “Never underestimate Judi Dench.”Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown 1






LONDON, June 17th, 2016 – Academy Award winner Judi Dench will star as Queen Victoria and Academy Award nominee Stephen Frears (The Queen) will direct Working Title Films’ Victoria and Abdul, to which Focus Features will hold worldwide rights as part of the company’s renewed global initiative. The movie is slated to go into production this year for a 2017 release. Focus will release the movie domestically and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film around the world. Victoria and Abdul is being co-financed by Focus in association with BBC Films.


The screenplay of Victoria and Abdul is by Lee Hall, an Academy Award nominee and Tony Award winner for Working Title’s Billy Elliot; and is based on Shrabani Basu’s book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant.


Victoria and Abdul was developed by Beeban Kidron and Lee Hall at Cross Street Films with BBC Films, and is being produced by Ms. Kidron, Academy Award nominee Tracey Seaward (The Queen), and Working Title’s co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Mr. Bevan and Mr. Fellner have produced several Working Title movies for Focus release, including the Best Picture Oscar nominees Atonement and The Theory of Everything.


The film tells the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim, a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.


Ms. Dench will be playing Queen Victoria for a second time in Victoria and Abdul, having been Oscar-nominated for her previous portrayal in Mrs. Brown. She won her Academy Award for portraying Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love; and later received Best Actress Oscar nominations for her performances in Mr. Frears’ Philomena, also a Best Picture Oscar nominee, and Mrs. Henderson Presents.


Victoria and Abdul reunites Working Title with Ms. Kidron, Mr. Frears, and Mr. Hall. Working Title has made five previous projects with Mr. Frears; and has made multiple films with Ms. Kidron and Mr. Hall, including Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and the global hit Billy Elliot, respectively.


Christine Langan, head of BBC Films and executive producer of Victoria and Abdul, said, “BBC Films is delighted to have supported Lee Hall’s terrific script and extremely excited to be back in business with the winning combination that is Stephen Frears and Judi Dench.”


Focus chairman Peter Kujawski commented, “It is a true privilege to collaborate with the great Stephen Frears and the legendary Judi Dench to tell this story of discovery, and it is always an event when Tim and Eric make a film that promises to move and delight audiences around the world.”


Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have been co-chairs of Working Title Films, one of the world’s leading film production companies, since 1992. Working Title has made more than 100 films that have grossed over $6 billion worldwide. Its films have won 12 Academy Awards (for Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables and The Danish Girl; James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything; Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking; Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo; Shekhar Kapur’sElizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age; and Joe Wright’s Atonement and Anna Karenina), 39 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, and prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.


Mr. Bevan and Mr. Fellner have been honored with the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures, the PGA’s highest honor for motion picture producers. They have been accorded two of the highest film awards given to British filmmakers: the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award at the BAFTA Awards, and the Alexander Walker Film Award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards.  They have also both been honored with CBEs (Commanders of the Order of the British Empire).


The company’s commercial and critical hits include The Interpreter, About a Boy, Notting Hill, Elizabeth, Fargo,Dead Man Walking, Bean, High Fidelity, Johnny English, Billy Elliot, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead, Pride & Prejudice, Nanny McPhee, United 93, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Fuzz, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Burn After Reading,Frost/Nixon, Atonement, Senna, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Anna Karenina, Les Misérables, I Give It A Year, About Time, Rush, The Two Faces of January, Trash, The Theory of Everything, Legend, Everest, The Programme, The Danish Girl, Grimsby, and Hail, Caesar!


Working Title’s upcoming slate includes Bridget Jones’s Baby, directed by Sharon Maguire and starring Renée Zellwegger, Colin Firth, and Patrick Dempsey; The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, and Val Kilmer; and Baby Driver, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Lily James, Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx.


Focus Features (www.focusfeatures.com) acquires and produces specialty films for the global market, and holds a library of iconic movies from fearless filmmakers. In addition to Victoria and Abdul, upcoming domestic releases from Focus include Kubo and the Two Strings, the new family event movie from animation studio LAIKA, directed by Travis Knight with a voice cast that includes Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, and Matthew McConaughey; Colin Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry, starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, and Jacob Tremblay; Tom Ford’s drama Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal; the real-life story of heroism The Zookeeper’s Wife, directed by Niki Caro and starring Jessica Chastain; the action spy thriller The

Coldest City, directed by David Leitch and starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy; J.A. Bayona’s visually spectacular drama A Monster Calls, starring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson; and Jeff Nichols’ Loving, based on the love story of Richard and Mildred Loving, portrayed by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, which world-premiered at the 2016 Cannes International Film Festival.


Focus Features and Universal Pictures International are part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

#        Judi Dench                                                                    #      Dame Judi Dench #Shakespeare in Love, #Oscar, #Queen Victoria, #Victoria and Abdul, #Focus Features                                                                #



Contacts:             Adriene Bowles/FOCUS FEATURES                          Cathy Dunkley

adriene.bowles@focusfeatures.com                                      cathy.dunkley@freuds.com









Kirstin Carag

Director of Digital PR

Focus Features

1540 Second Street, Suite 200

Santa Monica, CA 90401






So Sad to Report that “Bright Star” Is Closing Sunday

Carmen Cusack2Broadway can be so cruel sometimes. It is with a heavy heart that I have to report the sad news that “Bright Star” my favorite show of this season is closing Sunday.  Sometimes I think that quality has no place on Broadway, where supposedly only the Best of Best are showcased. I could name several more than mediocre musicals that are running, but I will refrain from casting aspersions. It’s been a very crowded season for musicals unfortunately for “Bright Star.” But do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already done so and get the marvelous CD of the Original Cast with the stunning debut of Carmen Cusack, who was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical.

“Bright Star” was also nominated for Best Musical, but alas won neither award. TONYS do help keep shows open.

Here’s the Official Press Release I just got sent announcing its’ untimely demise.





“ B R I G H T   S T A R ”





New York, NY – Producer Joey Parnes today announced that Bright Star, the new musical from 2016 Tony Award nomineesSteve Martin and Edie Brickell, will play its final Broadway performance on Sunday, June 26, after 30 preview and 109 regular performances.


Bright Star, with direction by Tony Award® winner Walter Bobbie and choreography by Josh Rhodes, began performances on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street), and opened officially on Thursday, March 24thIt went on to win the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music.  It also received five 2016 Tony Awards nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, and Best Orchestrations.


“So much of Bright Star’s beauty comes from the fact that it is utterly free of irony,” said Joey Parnes.  “In these cynical times, this quality proved to be totally refreshing to audience members, and also created a unique challenge in attracting them.  I am so proud of this show, and I am glad that Steve, Edie and Walter, and this incredible company, brought its unique spirit to our city, if only for a while.”


The original cast recording of Bright Star is now available everywhere, and charted on five different Billboard lists in its first week of wide release.  The cast album from Ghostlight Records placed at #1 on the Top Current Blue Grass Albums chart, #2 on the Top Broadway chart, #5 on the Americana/Folk Albums chart, as well as hitting the Top 100 on the Billboard Top Albums chart and Top 200 on the Overall Digital Albums chart. The album is produced by the legendary, multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, manager, and musician Peter Asher.


Carmen Cusack has made one of the most buzzed about and raved over Broadway debuts in recent memory as Alice, a role she originated in Bright Star’s world premiere production, and is joined by co-stars Paul Alexander Nolan, Tony Award®nominee Michael Mulheren, A.J. Shively, Hannah Elless, Tony Award® nominee Stephen Bogardus, three-time Tony Award®nominee Dee Hoty, Stephen Lee Anderson, Emily Padgett, Tony Award® nominee Jeff Blumenkrantz, along with Maddie Shea Baldwin, Allison Briner-Dardenne, Max Chernin, Patrick Cummings, Sandra DeNise, Richard Gatta, Lizzie Klemperer, Michael X. Martin, William Michals, Tony Roach, Sarah Jane Shanks and William Youmans.

The design team for Bright Star includes Tony and Emmy Award® winner Eugene Lee (Scenic Design), Tony Award® winnerJane Greenwood (Costume Design), Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Tony Award nominee Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), Tom Watson (Hair and Wig Design), Grammy Award® winner Peter Asher (Music Supervision), Rob Berman (Musical Direction and Vocal Arrangements), August

Eriksmoen (Orchestrations), and Howie Cherpakov (Casting).

#Bright Star


“The Humans” Wins Best Play, Seemingly Endless Parade Producers Take Stage

The Humans 1Cassie Beck The Humans“The Humans”, as expected, won Best Play. A seemingly endless parade of producers take the stage as lead producer, the legendary Scott Rudin quips, “You see how many people it takes to produce a straight play on Broadway.” And  Host James Corden added “It takes a lot of humans to produce ‘Humans’ ”

Bibi Neuwirth comes out of retirement to remind us that “Chicago” is now in its’ 20th year on Bway!

“The Color Purple” wins Best Revival of a Musical.” Over favored “She Loves Me.” I don’t know what I was underwhelmed by most.

Jessica Lange Wins Best Actress in a Play! Gloria Estefan Duets with Herself!

Jessica Lange  1The beauteous double Oscar Winner Jessica Lange just won a Tony for Best Actress in a Play for her powerful, gripping turn as the hopeless morphine addict/mother in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

The campiest moment so far goes to Gloria Estefan dueting with her stage self in her musical “On Your Feet”

Oops! No. Here’s Car-Pool Kareoke. The segment host James Corden is most known for from his Late Late Show. Audra McDonald just got in the car with Jayne Krakowski. Oy! And now, Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “One Day More” Which actually turns out to be the best number of the show so far! Blown Away!

Frank Langella wins Best Actor in a Play. His fourth TONY for that awful mess of a play “The Father.” Gives a wonderful speech and poem re: the Orlando tragedy. Good for HIM!

“This poem will mean more to you than any list of names I could recite.”

He also said that when he was about to begin his career in acting, he consulted a fortune teller, who told him that he wouldn’t be successful until later in life. “But I didn’t think it would be this late.”

That’s also what they told me at RADA. I didn’t get in.


“Bright Star”s “If You Knew My Story” Stops Show at TONYs! Reed Birney wins Best Supp. Actor for “The Humans”!

Bright Star 1“Bright Star”s all, Steve Martin, Edie Brickell and Best Actress Nominee Carmen Cusack contributed a stunning version “If You Knew My Story”, the stunning opening number from MY favorite show of the year.

And here’s an entire post without the “H” word even needing to be mentioned.

Reed Birney won a well deserved Best Supp. Actor in a Play for “The Humans”. He, like Jayne Howdyshell, both admitted to being in Show Business for 42 years.

Oops! “Hamilton” just won another Tony. Best Lighting of a Musical.

Live Bloggin’ the TONYS! Jayne Howdyshell, Renee Elise Goldsberry & Daveed Diggs Win!

Renee Rlise Goldsberry 1Jayne Houdyshell Humans 1Well, welcome to the world according to “Hamilton.” I think it’s already won something like four TONYs, if I’m keeping up, Best Supporting Actor(Daveed Diggs) and Actress (Renee Elise Goldsberry), and of course, Best Score for Lyn-Manuel Miranda. He wrote a beautiful sonnet, citing today’s tragedy in Orlando, Florida. And it also won Best Costumes.

Tne wonderful Jayne Howdyshell won for “The Humans”, admitting her real age, 62. “I’m known for not rushing into things.”

Oops! Thomas Kail just won Best Director of Musical for “Hamilton”. That makes five Tonys so far. But I ask you are the tickets to it really worth  $1,000 each?????????

My Deepest Sorrow & Condolences

LGBY handsMy deepest sorrow and sincerest condolences to the friends and families of the GLBTQ victims in Orlando, Fla. of the greatest, most horrible mass shooting in American History. This violence must stop. Against gay people and against all people.

#Orlando Shooting #GLBTQ #Gun violence

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