a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for February, 2018

“Jerry Spinger: The Opera” FINALLY Arrives & It’s a Hot Mess. Are We Surprised?

“Jerry Springer-The Opera” has FINALLY arrived in NYC. And it’s a Hot Mess. Are we surprised? No. Because that’s exactly what it’s SUPPOSED to be. An operatic reflection of the infamous, scatological, violent  talk show that started America’s plummeting decline into reality TV. The Kardashians are incredibly well-bred and delightful compared to this bunch of miscreants, who were birthed in London in “the recent past”  of April 29, 2003, but it feels like the early 90s, the 1890s. It’s taken nearly 20 years to get here, and I can understand why. It’s not very good. Though it stars the magnificent Will Swenson as Satan, and that should be enough. But it isn’t. It’s a one-note piece of Gong Show dreck, but that’s what it’s supposed to be. That’s exactly what “The Jerry Springer” TV show it’s based on IS. And it’s still running in syndication. That should be SIN-dick-cation, to this day.Will Swenson 1

So now we have it onstage, and it’s an opera. That’s a funny idea. I kept hoping somebody would do “The Stephen Holt Show: The Opera” which would be much more classy, and funny, witty, if not wit itself, with celebrity guests in fabulous restaurants. The title  would be “Shooting Celebrities in Restaurants.”

But “Jerry Springer- the Opera” is vulgar, crass and maddeningly one note. And the note she sang is this. The magnificently named Florrie Bagel(so she calls herself in the program. That’s the actress’s name. Not the character’s. ) When her character, Peaches, sings ( for decency’s sake, I’m going to shoot blanks here.) “Oh Blank. Blank! Oh blank-blank. Blanket-ity, blank. Blank!) That’s the one-note  joke, and then the show’s over. That really is the extent of the blanketity-blank plot. It goes no deeper than that.Jerry and Peaches

The New Group is presenting this mad(dening) opus at the  Pershing Square Signature Theater complex, the Linney, to be exact, at 410 West 42nd Street. It seats 200, but most of the 17-member cast occupies the front row seats, and sings from there, so the immersion factor is immense. Nearly as immense as the avoirdupois of the female thighs so completely displayed in tiny mini-skirts. (I realized I’d never SEEN thighs that size. On a woman.) But somehow there was an unexpected,  an un- self-conscious, unabashed beauty there.  Especially when African-American Tiffany Mann sings “Talk to the Ass” or as the program demurely lists it “I Just Wanna Dance.” (pictured below)Shawntel, the wannbe pole dancer (read stripper) becomes a thing of true transformative beauty here. Her ass-tounding voice raises the roof and the rafters, and while this aria is stage center (along with the pole) “Gerry Springer-the Opera” kinda works in its own twisted way.

If there were more Phat numbers like that, there might really be a show here. So Act One is mildly diverting (in the most tired sense of the word). “Chick with a Dick” jokes date back, badly, to the ’70s, and beyond. The gay humor is as insulting as everything else. You can see why Andrew Cunanan killed gay people like this.  Since when did transvestism become trite? Since Act One of “Gerry Springer-the Opera.” “My Father is now my Mother” the chorus sings. It’s sad. It’s just SAD.

But wait! Or rather don’t wait. Leave! Hurry for the exits before Act Two, which finds our Gerry  assassinated by the tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan and in Hell. And yes, it’s as boring and flat as a pancake. Flat instead of Phat.

But there are audiences who get high from over-stuffed, under-talented epics like this and run forever, despite what good sense and sensibilities dictate. “Walt Disney’s Aladdin” comes to mind. So it may run, but it’s announced to close on March 11. But don’t worry, Springer-ites, you can always turn your beloved Jerry on on your TV or mobile app. It’s not Off-Broadway. It’s not Opera, but “Jerry S.” on TV is as flat as this is. Mostly.

Oscar Prediction Best Picture Stephen Holt Show

We shot this before the BAFTAS this past Sunday, where “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” won Best Picture, Best British Film, Best Actress, Frances McDormand, Best Supporting Actor, Sam Rockwell, and Best Original Screenplay, Martin McDonaugh. Guillermo Del Toro continued his winning streak there by incongruously winning Best Director. He’s won Best Director all season long. Above is a wrenching shot from his movie “The Shape of Water.” Heroic heroine the mute janitress played by Best Actress nominee Sally Hawkins is seen above ^.

While my predictions aren’t the same as everyone else’s I do feel the Academy does  not like the words “Rubber Stamp.” So they are going to  go there own way. In some way. This video marks my 1001 video now up on You Tube.

Be sure to watch the Oscars on March 4. The Academy voting opened today and closes in merely a week. I can’t wait to see the results!

This week I was joined by theater critic David Kaufman of the Drama Desk.

Videography ~ Jad Jacobs and Emily Miller

Editing ~ Emily Miller

Special thanks to Kevin Teller




Oscar Predictions 2018 ~ Stephen Holt Show

We shot this before the BAFTAS. This is Part One Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Actor. Part Two is a discussion of all nine Best Picture nominees. This video marks my 1000th Video on You Tube. Stay tuned.

With David Kaufman

Videography ~ Jad Jacobs & Emily Miller

Editing ~ Emily Miller

With Special Thanks to Kevin Teller.

Sam Rockwell & Alllison Janney win BAFTA! “3 Billboards” Wins Best British Film & Martin McDonagh Best Orig. Screenplay

The BAFTAS are announcing! So far Sam Rockwell has won Best Supporting Actor and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri” has won Best British(!) Film. And Allison Janney has won Best Supporting Actress for “I, Tonya.” This pushes these two excellent performers that must closer to wins for the Oscar. Can’t believe that Allison who is mainly unknown  in England won this over home-town fave Leslie Manville. But this cements Sam Rockwell very, very well! For the Oscar win. They’ve won everything they’ve been nominated so far. So it’s pretty clear that they may also continue with the Oscar wins. Oscar voting starts on Feb.20.“Three Billboards” also wins Best British Film and Martin McDonagh wins Best Original Screenplay. And as BAFTA goes, so goes the Oscars, usually. They are still in the middle of their Ceremony. More soon. 

But go to http://www.awardsdaily.com if you want to see the rest of the BAFTA winners SO FAR. They are still announcing. Thrilled to pieces for all the winners!

Leslie Manville “Phantom Thread” May Upset Allison Janney At BAFTAS

Esteemed British actress Leslie Manville, O.B.E. may upset Allison Janney’s Supporting Actress apple cart, Sunday when the BAFTAS take place in London. The BAFTAS are known for honoring their own stars over Americans who are also nominated. And it’s their country, after all, so don’t be surprised, if Ms. Manville walks off with one of their mask-like trophies for playing Daniel Day-Lewis’ possessive sister in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread.” It was nominated for six Oscars and seven BAFTAS. So yeah, they like it. They really like it.Also very interesting to me is the list of who, of the acting nominees, is going to show up in London. The no-shows read like a list of who ISN’T going to win.

For instance, Laurie Metcalf is not going to be there. She’s rehearsing Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” for Broadway. I’m sure they’d let her out to go to London, IF THEY THOUGHT SHE WAS GOING TO WIN. And in this inches-close race between her and Janney (and now  Manville, too, for the BAFTAS), her not planning on crossing the Pond on Sunday does not look good. It’s like she’s conceding that Janney or Manville will win. And I think she might be right.

Janney won the Golden Globe, the SAG Award and the Critics Choice Award for her frightening mother-of-death in “I, Tonya” She played Tonya Harding’s mother LaVona.She might win the Oscar here, as many are saying, but they don’t know her over there in the U.K.,where Leslie Manville is practically considered British royalty.

Poor little “Lady Bird” once  so popular, isn’t winning anything. Is “Lady Bird”s goose cooked?

All five leading actress nominees are showing up. Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins, and Saoirse Ronan and also Annette Bening for “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” will all be there.

Of course, Gary Oldman, Winston Churchill himself, and as British as British can be(he’ll be Sir Gary Oldman very, very soon, I’m so sure) will be there. As will Daniel Kaluuya of “Get Out” who is surprisingly British. And Jamie Bell, also nominated for “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” who is of course, also British.

In Supporting Actor, ONLY Sam Rockwell of “Three Billboard Outside Ebbing Missouri” will be present and accounted for of the nominated Americans. Willem Dafoe and Woody Harrelson and Richard Jenkins aren’t expected to show. Brit Superstar heart throb Hugh Grant is the fifth nominee for (of all things) “Paddington 2.” Only he and Rockwell will be at the ceremony that is not broadcast live.

It’s taped then edited to a watchable length, and then you’ll be able to see the highlights on Monday on You Tube.

“Three Billboards” may win every award it’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor(Rockwell), Actress (The magnificent McDormand) and Martin McDonagh, who wrote and also directed, it may end up with something like FOUR BAFTAS himself, as he also produced it, and it is nominated for Best Film and Best British Film.(It was financed by British money and McDonagh.)

Do these British Awards influence Oscar voters? Well, we just have to look back one year to Mark Rylance’s winning Best Supporting Actor for “The Bridge of Spies.” He won the BAFTA, then won the Oscar. And nobody predicted he’d win. EXCEPT ME!

He was up against Sylvester Stallone in “Creed” and I just knew that was not an Oscar performance. But Rylance’s was. And he did no campaigning whatsoever! He just showed up on Oscar night and won it!

“Three Billboards” Passes $100 Million!

I couldn’t be any happier with this news from Fox Searchlight, who sound like they are dancing in the streets!





Nominated for 7 Academy Awards Including Best Picture,

Film Passes $45 million Domestic Gross

Los Angeles, CA February 15, 2018 – Fox Searchlight Pictures Presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley announced today that Martin McDonagh’s Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, financed by Fox Searchlight Pictures and Film4, crossed $100 million in worldwide gross on Monday, February 12, 2018.  The film has amassed over $45 million in U.S. box office since it began its platform release November 10, 2017, with a widest release of 1726 theaters across the country on February 2, 2018.  Nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and 9 BAFTA Awards including Best Film, Three Billboards is currently the 12th highest-grossing domestic release in Fox Searchlight history.   As of next week, Three Billboards is expected to become the studio’s 10th highest-grossing domestic release.

Released on January 12, 2018 in the United Kingdom, Three Billboards has already collected over $14 million in receipts there, and has added robust returns from Australia of nearly $7 million and Spain, where the film has passed $5 million.  Globally, Three Billboards has passed the worldwide total for Academy Award-winning Best Picture Birdman ($103 million).

After its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last fall, Three Billboards has received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson), Best Original Screenplay (Martin McDonagh), Best Original Score and Best Editing.  Other major accolades garnered include Best Ensemble, Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell) from The Screen Actors’ Guild and Best Ensemble, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), and Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell) from the Broadcast Film Critics. In January, the film won Best Picture, Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell) and Best Screenplay (Martin McDonagh) at the Golden Globe Awards.  The film has won seven audience awards including Toronto’s Grolsch People’s Choice Award.  It recently won Best Film from the London Film Critics Circle. 

Three Billboards has been embraced by audiences around the world and its universal themes, well-served by exceptional filmmaking and performances, have furthered dialogue on important issues,” said Utley and Gilula.

Daniel Battsek, Director of Film4 said, “Martin has crafted a unique universe of emotions, issues, comedy and drama and inspired career-high performances from his talented cast.  Crossing this box office milestone shows how the film has captured the zeitgeist across the globe.”

McDonagh is currently receiving rave reviews for the sold-out run of Hangmen at Atlantic Theater Company in Manhattan.  His acclaimed stage work has received four Tony Award nominations and three Olivier Awards. McDonagh won an Academy Award in 2005 for his Live Action Short Film “Six Shooter.” He was also nominated for his Original Screenplay In Bruges in 2009, which won the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Fox Searchlight Pictures is a specialty film company that both finances and acquires motion pictures. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox. Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of Twentieth Century Fox Film.

“Gianni Versace” #5 ~ Life & Death of Jeffrey Trail

Now that we are exactly half-way through American Crime Story’s powerful “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” Episode 5 revealed to us tonight a new American Gay hero, in the first Cunanan murder victim, Jeffrey Trail. An Annapolis graduate and a lieutenant in the Navy, Ensign Trail saved a fellow effeminate sailor’s life as he was being queer bashed and nearly killed on their ship. And this brave act, outed Trail to the Navy brass, and the good Samaritan/savior had eventually to leave the Navy himself. He knew he was gay and couldn’t live with the closet the Navy, and society had forced him into. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the name of this episode and that era.

This series was back on  track, after last week’s inexplicable, dreary Episode Four “The House by the Lake,” introducing us to mousy architectural student David Madson, Cunanan’s “great love of my life. I want to marry you.” Madson refuses him quite forcibly, and thus seals the fate of both himself and Trail. It’s a complicated story, and the genius creator of this series Bryan Murphy has taken  two full-length hour and a half episodes to explain the inexplicable.

And I now feel that he and writer Tom Robb Smith have done an excellent job of untangling this real life mystery mess. Both Trail and Madson were rejecting Cunanan’s attempt to “start a new life” in Minneapolis. And we see him shooting up heroin BETWEEN HIS TOES, as he tries to con a one-way airline ticket to Minnesota, and succeeds. Do we need a ghost to come from the grave, Hamlet? To further explain his killing spree to us? He was AN ADDICT. And nobody wanted anything to do with him.He was totally alone, broke and rejected by those he loved most. And so he kills them…And starts on a killing spree that leaves five men dead, including fashion icon Gianni Versace, before he kills himself.The backwards-in-time way Murphy & co. have chosen to tell his story is just brilliant in my book, because the murder of Versace and those that preceded it, yes, need the amount of time(nine-to-ten episodes)to fully explain Cunanan’s horrific actions to the straight, mainstream audience that the FX channel reaches. Whereas we as gay people know EXACTLY what Cunanan was going through.

Even as recently as the 1990s, gay life was very,very different. It was one big closet, and coming out could kill you, as it certainly seems to have been the case with poor heroic Jeff Trail.

Murphy is allowing Trail and Madson, too, the respect and regard that they never got in the brief lifetimes, god knows. To know of them is to love them.

And Finn Wintrock’s strong performance as the seemingly perfect Naval career officer Jeff Trail, puts us right back up there with the stellar work of Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez and Ricky Martin. And future Emmy Winner Judith Light.Gianni & Donatella

Cruz in a bright pink suit(mirroring Marilyn Miglin’s in Ep.3) has the astonishing task of being the homophobic voice in the House of Versace in Milan of the ’90s. And she does, seeming perfectly rational and perfectly hateful all at the same time. For a few scenes at the beginning of this episode, she becomes a blonde bombshell Cruella de Ville to her nice, loving brother Gianni. 

He wants to come out to the Advocate magazine and tell the whole world that he is gay and Donatella/Cruella doesn’t want him to and thinks it will ruin their business. Which of course, it didn’t.And the series neatly juxtaposes Versace’s glamorous, open coming out in a luxurious surrounding, acknowledging his lover(Martin) by his side. While poor Jeffery Trail is only filmed in shadow with his voice distorted as he explains why he’s sorry he saved that fellow sailor’s gay life, and that coming out has basically ruined his own.

It’s a complex story, but an epic one, and one that must be told, and must be seen. There’s no Episode Six next week. We’ll have to wait two weeks for the next installment. Feb. 28.


“Bromance” Giddy, Gay Acrobats Fly High On Bway

Color me DEE-lighted! Color me Surprised! A Giddy, Gay acrobatic troupe of three in a play called “Bromance”? And it’s on Broadway at the neat New Victory Theater? At 209 West 42nd Street, this is probably the last new theater on Broadway, I’d never been in before. It’s just touching Times Square,and the runs there are very short, and usually just for kids. Well, the audience was indeed full of children (And their parents) but they were all as rapt and spellbound by the Barely Methodical Troupe EXTREMELY gay acrobatic play “Bromance,” as I was. O Brave New World….

There’s no plot. It’s almost totally non-verbal but these three daring young men with no flying trapeze, hug and squeeze and try to kiss each other, finally taking off their shirts to thunderous applause and squeals of joy from all around them.

An incredibly fit British circus troupe of three acrobats(four if you count the understudy, who I saw,  and he was great, too)throw themselves and us into the air with the kind of physical abandon that comes from male to male bonding that today is called Bromance. But I call it love.

I loved these guys, Charlie Wheeller, who performs the dare-devil Cyr wheel stunts, solo, to the tune of Son Lux’s “Stand”, Beren D’Amico, who is often barefoot, and is constantly kidded about his first name and short status standing and the gigantically tall and strong  Arthur Parsons (subbing for Louis Gift).I never wanted their homoerotic display of agility, fragility and maximum body contact, on the ground and in the air to end. But it does after only 60 minutes, but it seems like a life-time of endless athleticism (never mind political struggle) has gone into a show that says to all comers “Yes, it’s OK to touch and hug and throw your  self at another male with a positive abandon and into the air for all the world to see.”

Like the best moments of a gay love affair at its height, you just can’t believe the exuberance and joy that touching and kissing and backflipping with another man can bring you. It’s Valentine’s Day. Go. Just drop everything and go see “Bromance.” It’s only there until February 25.

The Barely Methodical Troupe is climaxing its triumphant world tour with their debut in New York. You’ll never forget them. I can’t wait to see it again. Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Get Out” Wins Writers Guild

The quirky, very original comedy/horror movie/racial drama “Get Out” just won the highly prized Writers Guild Award. It won over “Lady Bird” which I predicted would happen. If this repeats at the Oscars, “Lady Bird” won’t win this category, and therefore strengthens the chances of Laurie Metcalf to win Best Supporting Actress.It’s the Year of the Woman and they have got to give “Lady Bird” which has come to symbolize the #Me,too movement, although that is not what that charming High School comedy is about._I hear all the actresses might be wearing black again.As they did at SAG, where “Lady Bird” again won nothing.

Francess McDormand Close-Up

Of course, Frances McDormand of “Three Billboards” won Best Actress there, and you can’t find a stronger role for a woman there. I consider it one of the greatest roles ever written for an actress on screen. “Three Billboards” was not up for a Writer’s Guild Award because it’s considered a British film so therefore it wasn’t eligible.

It WILL however most likely be nominated in this category against “Get Out” now for sure,and “Lady Bird.”

In other writing award news, this time, the Scripter, James Ivory won for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Call Me By Your Name.” It is very well going to be the same at the Oscars. That would be the legendary Ivory’s Call Me By Your Name 8first win, believe it or not.

Oscar Dates

The Oscars are just around the corner. Or are they?

The ceremony won’t be held until Sunday, March 3.

The voting for AMPAS ballots doesn’t start until Fed.20.

And the voting closes on Feb.27.

Giving the Oscar voters just ONE WEEK to fill out their ballots and get them sent in.

Last year, they relied more and more every day on filing out  the ballots digitally.

And Feb. 20 is still far off. Why? It’s because of the postponements due to the Winter Olympics.

But it gives voters A LONNNNG time to carefully consider their choices this year.

And in the meantime, the VERY influential British Oscars the BAFTAS will be held in London, while the AMPAS voters are in the middle of filling out there ballots.Feb 18 to be exact.

If there are contests and categories that are up in the air like, this year, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, whoever wins there gets a super-boost here as the memberships overlap.

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