a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for July, 2016


Less than 24 hours left! I can’t believe it!And thank you to the two, only two people, who backed me. Tamara Schebak, who has been so loyal. And a gentleman in Thailand who i don’t even know. Thank you. I’m at $70 dollars with a goal of $1500.

As it stands right now, I will be able to attend the Montreal Film Festival, but Toronto as I describe in the body of the Kickstarter project looks more than gloomy, if not impossible. So a final P”Please Help Me” if you can.

I’ve never been able reach my goal before in the four years now that Kickstarter has allowed me to be on its’ fabulous site. But I got to Toronto anyway. This year they want me to pay at least $684 for what they are now calling an “Industry” pass.  The same for my cameraman for whom this is also impossible.







Brady Corbet Scores & Scares with His First Film Ultra-Creepy “Childhood of a Leader”

Brady Corbet 1Brady Corbet, an Indie actor whose work I’ve admired and followed, suddenly has done a 360, while still in his 20s and directed his first film, the ultra-creepy psychological horror film “Childhood of a Leader.”And I’m predicting after seeing this rather unforgettable, and unclassifiable thriller, he’s going to go on to direct more, much more. A dedicated cinephile, who lives in New York and Paris. This film is partially in French and is very European in its’ dark, unsettling sensibilities.

It calls to mind “The Bad Seed” in its’ unrelenting look at the horror a child can wring on his (or her) family. Although the child Prescott  ( Tom Sweet) in this movie, is not ever smiley faced and isn’t really deceptive, he’s out front and unrelenting in his hostility to his parents, his father, Liam Cunningham, who is an American and his European wife a terrific,nuanced Berenice Bejo. Childhood of a Leader 1

This is sort of grand allegorical fantasy of what would Hitler have been like as a child, if he was from a privileged Upper Class Franco -American diplomatic background. Based loosely on a short story by Jean Paul Sartre, Prescott seems to be a tiny Hitler through and through. And his sympathetic parents seem totally at a loss as to what to do with him.

Childhood of a Leader

It’s gripping, I’ll say that much and the wonderful Berenice Bejo is incredibly sympathetic and also coldly repellant in the role that is simply called “The Mother.” The film seems to be saying that all of Prescott’s(and later the free world’s) problem are a result of Mom.

“Childhood of a Leader” has already won Best Director and Best First Film for Brady Corbet when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year. And I think Corbet is going to go on to win many, many more accolades in this chosen career either as a director or an actor.Keep an eye on him.

Just Launched a New Kickstarter Project! To Help Get Me to the Montreal & Toronto Film Fests!

SH Kickstarter 2016http://kck.st/29RQYUL

“Young Montalbano” ~ Sicily & Michele Riondino star in MHz’s latest crime series

Young Montalbano 1I must say, I’m quite entranced  and delighted with the latest MHz series “The Young Montalbano” starring Italian heartthrob Michele Riondino and the beautiful island of Sicily. I’ve never seen a police potboiler set in so romantic a location. Vigata, a fictional town, is just breath-taking. When the stories sag as they sometimes do, the incredible Sicilian backdrops to even the most mundane police procedural scenes, more than make up for it. “The Young Montalbano” is imminently watchable.

And its’ young star Michele Riondino is definitely on the rise. He is playing the dedicated, younger version of Salvo Montalbano, who is something of a folk hero in Italian television in “Inspector Montalbano” the wildly popular, older iteration of the same Sicilian police chief. Riondino is a hunk, but a sleek, metro-sexual, 1990’s kind of hunk. He often wears purple shirts.Or maroon. You can’t get enough of him, the sign of a true star. Bellisima!

And the island of Sicily itself is enchanting, always. Having been spared the ravages of World War II, all of its’ magnificent period architecture is intact and it’s a thrill to see it all. No scene is ordinary when played against backgrounds like these and of course the Mediterrean Ocean is in every shot possible. Young Montalbano 2

Salvo Montalbano’s apartment overlooks the sea and many, many scenes are played out against this beautiful sea-scape where the sun is so often gently setting. And every one is always drinking a glass of sparkling wine. Libiamo!

And the food! Even more than catching wrong-doers, Salvo always is salivating over the next mouth-watering meal he has to consume accompanied always by a rich, flavorful Italian wine. Which is to say, “The Young Montalbano” is a much more light-hearted look at police work than its’ other European series counterparts.

The police station, for instance, has white wall-paper, with tiny flowers and butterflies on it, and usually we’re used to seeing dreary police settings (like in “The Bridge” set in Sweden & Denmark) or simply Ikea-like industrial ( as in “Blood on the Docks”, Le Havre, France). But no, no, not “The Young Montalbano.”Salvo’s office is dark wood paneled, unlike any other municpal TV cop’s desmaines.

And there’s a very strong, tender love story front and center with blonde Italian beauty, with the un-Italian name of Sarah Felberbaum, turning in a charming performance as Livia, Salvo’s on-again, off-again romantic interest who is an architect and lives in Genoa, not Sicily.Young Montalbano 3

Livia and Salvo’s scenes always sizzle in a very civilized, Sicilian way.Combining the themes of food and love, they go to a restaurant mid-season, where there are exceptionally large tables, even though there are only two diners. And the courses just come at them, decided by the restaurant itself. And the tables are so big to accommodate all the upcoming dishes. I was dying.

The series starts off very strongly with “The Man Who Followed Funerals” about the murder of a disabled vagabond, which gives “The Young Montalbano” a kind of metaphysical, psychological heft as Montalbano and his assistant team of less-than-stellar cops, discuss the philosopical meanings behind his senseless murder.

The best episode of the six I watched(all a solid 90 minutes each) was the central one, “The Transaction”, surrounding a circus and a fatal fortune teller. And the series ends with “The Apricot” where a young model is murdered, yes, by an apricot. Don’t ask.

The plots sag, as I’ve said, but mostly “The Young Montalbano” is enjoyable. And all the supporting parts are played by actual Sicilian actors, which lends the series a unique versilimitude. The fruit selling woman on the sidewalk who sells the fatal apricot to the dead supermodel is just exactly right. You want to go up to her and buy some apricots, too.

Mostly “The Young Montalbano” makes you want to immediately visit the magical, dream-like island of Sicily, and that’s an unexpected bonus from your usual European crime series.

“Cats” to Return to Bway with Digital Lottery

Cats 1They’re BAAAAAAAACK! Or will be soon! Meee-ow! Helping to perk up the lax summer theatre season. And since everything in the world is going digital, they’re going to have a digital lottery! Read on!





New York, NY –  Producers The Shubert Organization and The Nederlander Organization announced today the launch of an online ticket lottery for the first-ever Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical, CATS. The CATS Digital Lottery will open daily at 10:00 a.m. EST and 8:30 a.m. for matinee performances, beginning Thursday, July 14, 2016, for entrants to win a limited number of $40 same day tickets to that day’s performance(s) by clicking here. See below for rules and regulations. The CATS digital lottery is powered by Broadway Direct.


One of the biggest hits in theatrical history, CATS returns to Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 W 52nd Street) with preview performances beginning Thursday, July 14, 2016, and an official opening set for Sunday, July 31, 2016.


Rules and regulations for the new digital lottery are as follows:

  • A limited number of tickets for each performance will be sold via digital lottery.
  • The CATS Digital Lottery will open at 10:00 am EST and will remain open until 3 pm EST for evening performances. For two-show days, the Lottery will open at 12 pm and close at 3 pm.  For matinee performances, the Lottery will open at 8:30 am and close at 11 am.
  • Winners will be notified by e-mail minutes after drawing and will have 60 minutes to pay for their tickets with a credit card online. They must present their photo ID at the Neil Simon Theatre box office at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the corresponding performance to pick up their tickets.
  • Seat locations and number of tickets awarded by the lottery are subject to availability.


The new generation of CATS includes British Singing Sensation, Leona Lewis as “Grizabella,” Giuseppe Bausilio as “Carbucketty,”Quentin Earl Darrington as “Old Deuteronomy,” Jeremy Davis as “Skimbleshanks,” Kim Fauré as “Demeter,” Sara Jean Ford as “Jellylorum,” Lili Froehlich as “Electra,” Daniel Gaymon as “Macavity,” Shonica Gooden as “Rumpleteazer,” Christopher Gurr as “Gus/Bustopher Jones,” Tyler Hanes as “Rum Tum Tugger,” Andy Huntington Jones as “Munkustrap,” Kolton Krouse as “Tumblebrutus,” Eloise Kropp as “Jennyanydots / Gumbie,” Jess LeProtto as “Mungojerrie,” Georgina Pazcoguin as “Victoria,”Emily Pynenburg as “Cassandra,” Arianna Rosario as “Sillabub,” Ahmad Simmons as “Alonzo,” Christine Cornish Smith“Bombalurina,” Corey John Snide as “Coricopat,” Emily Tate as “Tantomile,” Ricky Ubeda as “Mistoffelees,” and Sharrod Williamsas “Pouncival,”as well as Richard Todd Adams, Aaron J. Albano, Callan Bergmann, Claire Camp, Francesca Granell, Jessica Hendy, Harris Milgrim, Madison Mitchell, Nathan Patrick Morgan and Megan Ort.


The creative team for the new Broadway production of CATS includes John Napier (Scenic & Costume Design), Natasha Katz(Lighting Design), Mick Potter (Sound Design), based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne, with additional choreography byAndy Blankenbuehler and direction by Trevor Nunn.


When CATS opens, Andrew Lloyd Webber will, once again, have the rare distinction of having three musicals running simultaneously on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock – The Musical, and CATS.



“Cafe Society” Worst Woody Allen Ever? S.O.S. Same Old Story

Kristen Stewart 1As you can see by this ultra glamourous pic above ^ of Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen has cast her against type, as a nice little goodie two-shoes,compleat with bows in her hair and ankle socks, in “Cafe Society”. Her character, Vonnie, has to appear so beautiful that the men in the movie fall madly in love with her. The men being Steve Carell as well as his nephew Jesse Eisenberg. And they’re all very good in this magnificently shot and styled paean to old Hollywood in the ’30s.

But this is perhaps the worst movie he’s ever done.It’s soooo boring. It’s that we’ve seen it all before. Over and over and over and over again. We expect more from the man who gave us “Midnight in Paris”, “Hannah and Her Sisters”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and his Oscar winner “Annie Hall.” But this is not that. Not by a long shot.

At least his other recent sub-par look at the glamourous life circa 1920 “Magic in the Moonlight” had a very strong performance by Colin Firth. And it’s always the younger woman/older man scenario, but at least focusing as much of this film on the young Jesse Eisenberg, the edge is slightly off that scenario, but only slightly. But it doesn’t last for long. Before it’s back to the Carell/Kristen plot-line. Ho-hum.Or rather ho-humbug.

Eisenberg, an actor I’ve always had trouble liking, is appealing in this, and more amourously aggressive than I can ever remember him being.

Kristen & Jesse 1

But try as they might, he, Carell and Stewart and all of the rest of this capable cast, just can’t rise above this bland, bland script.

I felt like I knew what lines the characters were going to say before they spoke them. Parker Posey, here a bubbly, throw-away blonde, is pretty much just window dressing. Corey Stoll is snidely effective as Eisenberg’s gangster brother.Blake Lively is, well, lively.

The only one who really broke through for me was Sari Lennick of the Coen Bros. “A Serious Man.” As Eisenberg’s hyserical, kvetchy sister-in-law and Stoll’s wife.

The biggest,.most consistent laughs in the film, and there are some, not much, but not enough, the most laughs come when Stoll’s character has killed some hapless or irritating sap, and throws the bodies into a ditch as a cement mixer pours cement on them in clearly a New Jersey setting.

Santa Loquasto has designed “Cafe Society” to a fare-thee-well and legendary lenser Victorio Storaro has shot it magnificently. It couldn’t look more glamourous, or be so empty. What a shame!

Do something NEW Woody!!! Surprise us!!! Don’t bore us…All our lives are too short for drivel like this.

#Woody Allen #Cafe Society #Kristen Stewart #comedy #Hollywood

Bomb Scare Tonight at Town Hall After Bway’s Rising Stars

Town HallOk, so I’ve wondered what it would be like to be caught in a bomb scare. And now I know. At the tail end of the always fascinating evening of this year’s Annual Broadway’s Rising Stars concert, which was celebrating it’s tenth anniversary tonight, host/creator Scott Siegel told the entire audience that they could not leave the building that there was ” a suspicious package outside the theater” and that “everyone should sit back down and stay in their seats.”

It was frightening. It was unbelievable that in this most amiable of settings that this catastrophe should happen to all these show-tune-loving theater goers.

I just shut down completely. I couldn’t react. There were friends of mine in the audicnce, most notably Pepe Nufrio, who was in the cast of last year’s Rising Stars as well as in my new play “A Hyacinth Coat…” where he sang the living daylights out of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Pepe 1

Also there was his co-star on my show and in last year’s “Rising Stars” Ally Kupferberg, and in the show were previous guests Rising Stars of prior years, Jon Hacker, who is now in “Jersey Boys” and Chris Hlinka who has just returned from a National Tour of “Mama Mia.” Plus all of this year’s talented Rising Stars.

This couldn’t be happening to all these truly gifted young people. Scott Siegel ever the showman decided to “entertain you while you wait.” He assured us the NYPD Bomb Squad was almost immediately there, checking that “suspicious package” out, and Scott sang a song in Yiddish! I didn’t know he could sing!

And then had director Scott Coulter come out for what was surely his finest hour and sing a song that held the audience’s attention and the title of which has flown right out of my mind. But it was a show tune.

He then included Jon Hacker in a Four Seasons number “You’re Just Too Good to Be True.” And a former Carol King from “Beautiful” sang one of that shows trademark numbers and did a very good job of it, too. Which number again I’m too flummoxed by this whole thing to remember.

But suffice it to say that after about twenty minutes to half-an-hour, Scott told us he had “the All Clear” sign and we could go. Phew! Of course, we could go. This was unreal. It couldn’t be happening. But there was no panic visible. Scott handled this really, really well.

And thank god it was such a delightful evening with a plethora of young singing talent belting their hearts out that in a way you never wanted it to end. And this time it nearly didn’t.

#Bomb Scare # Town Hall # Broadway’s Rising Stars # Pepe Nufrio


Louise Penny Has Done It Again!”A Great Reckoning” Is Great!

A Great REckoningI admit it! I’m an unabashed Louise Penny fan! And I’ve read every single one of her terrific mystery/crime novels about Quebec’s former Chief Inspector of the Surete, Armand Gamache, but with her newest one, “A Great Reckoning” she’s done it again! “A Great Reckoning” is great! The best so far. She’s really topped herself! I haven’t been able to do anything since I picked up this 12th book in her Gamache series.

I could not put it down!

And neither will you! It’s what a page-turner should be. Suspenseful, taut, fast-paced, totally absorbing and thrilling with a capital “T”.

I’ve read an early critic’s edition, as it were, so there are limits to what I can and can’t say. I can’t quote from it, but I can say there are beautiful descriptions of her beloved Quebec and the irresistible village of Three Pines. You really want to move there and retire, just like Gamache & his devoted, smart, beautiful wife Reine-Marie have. Except of course, it’s a fictional location where corpses and murders abound. And it’s in Quebec, where it’s almost always snowing.And her descriptions of the food Olivier & Gabri prepare in their adorable bistro ~ MOUTH~WATERING!

Also writing about a thriller like this is difficult, because you can’t reveal any of the mysteries, or you’ll spoil it. And suffice it to say that there’s a LOT to spoil. There are twists upon twists, and a really bang-up unguessable conclusion. And all your favorite characters, the colorful Quebecquois townspeople, are all back, Clara, Myrna, Ruth Zardo and her pet duck, Rosa. And the gay couple to end all gay couples, Olivier & Gabri, and their wonderful bistro/B&B, that you’ll wish you could dine at and stay at. But alas! They’re all fictional! But that’s the sign of great writing. It all comes alive for you, Penny tells her stories so well.

Taken altogether as one massive novel, it reminds me of “War and Peace”! That’s how the Gamache series  deepens and grows on you.Throughout the twelve preceeding novels(and you really should read all of them, in order, if you can), the characterizations just build and build and build til you feel you know Clara & Myrna & Ruth etc.,etc. It’s like visiting old friends, in their loveliest of homes. But you can read the Gamache series of mysteries and enjoy them as stand alones, too.

This mystery is set in the Montreal Police Academy, which has made Gamache its’ head and lured him out of retirement, and the scenes shift between the school and Three Pines, but I will say no more than that. No spoilers here! “A Great Reckoning” hits stores August 30. But you can pre-order, mais oui!

And as strong and suspenseful as “A Great Reckoning” is, it’s even MORE amazing how quickly after Penny’s last Gamache book ,N.Y. Times bestseller “The Nature of the Beast”, came out. Less than a year! How does she do it? But then that’s the timetable Agatha Christie kept to and Louise Penny is nothing if she’s not a modern, French-Canadian Agatha Christie. Miss Marple had St. Mary Mead and Gamache and co. have Three Pines. Murder mysteries set in small, cozy, seemingly idyllic villages.

And when you read her acknowledgements at the end, she heart-breakingly reveals that her much-loved husband Michael has gotten dementia. And they live together in a small village in Quebec’s townships. but it’s not Three Pines. So her writing this wonderful, complicated thriller so FAST and so WELL is even more amazing! That she wrote this great book in the middle of all this personal sorrow and tragedy is astonishing. All my best to Louise and to Michael, too.

#Louise Penny # Three Pines # Inspector Gamache # Murder Mystery#Agatha Christie #Canada # Montreal # Quebec

Montreal Film Fest Introduces $1Million in Prizes


The always surprising Montreal Film Festival is celebrating its’ 40th year with another innovating, interesting step for 2016. Read the press release below but the Festival has been given $1 million dollars US to be divided among the winners of its’ many competitive categories. That’s awfully nice for the filmmakers involved, should they win.

This will be my 18th year returning hopefully to the MWFF as it’s abbreviated, and it’s always a delight and an astonishment.It happens at the tail end of August this year and the first week of September.

Read on for details.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary the Montreal World Film Festival is introducing a GOLDEN CHELEM of World Cinema: $1 million (US) in cash prizes will be added to the awards for its competitive sections. The prize money will be shared equally (on a 50/50 basis) by the producers and directors of the winning films, in order to encourage new cinematic creation. “No other festival in the world rewards its best films in such a generous way with 13 different prizes.” stated MWFF Chairman Serge Losique. With this initiative, MWFF ignites a “genuine revolution” in the organization of an international film festival.


A generous benefactor has undertaken to sponsor these prizes. He acknowledged the Festival’s s prominence and hard work, accomplished both at home and on the international scene over 40 years. The prize money will be deposited in-trust at a notary’s office in Montreal, so that it could only be used for that purpose at the MWFF’s Awards Ceremony on September 5, 2016.




$250,000 – Grand Prize of the Americas

$120,000 – Jury Grand Prize



$110,000 – Golden Zenith

$50,000 – Silver Zenith

$40,000 – Bronze Zenith



$20,000 –MWFF Award 






$110,000 – Gold Prize

$60,000 – Silver Prize



$110,000 – Gold Prize

$60,000 – Silver Prize





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