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Movies That Shouldn’t Be Made into Musicals “Ground Hog Day” & “Amelie”


If you think you’re seeing double, you’ll be seeing triple and quadruple in the current mish-mash that is passing as a hit musical from London, “Ground Hog Day.” I have to say that if you haven’t seen the 1993 Bill Murray movie set in Puxitawney, PA., you’re really out of luck. Because this musical doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.. But, so I’m told,  if you’ve seen the movie, it does. Otherwise, it’s a godawful mess. Or is it? Or is that EXACTLY what it’s supposed to be? Utterly and immensely confusing, like it’s central character, Phil, a TV weather person, played very engagingly by the swaggering Andy Karl.Ground Hog Day 3

But don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Andy Karl, having seen him long ago as one of the five “Altar Boyz” Off Broadway. He was the muscle- bound one and he continued in that vein with the tremendous performance he gave in “Rocky:The Musical” which I just loved. But audiences didn’t. I thought it was a real lollapalooza and Karl gave a knock-out performance as the iconic Rocky Balboa, made famous by Sylvester Stallone. Yes, he sang, danced AND boxed his heart out in “Rocky.”Andy Karl Rocky 1

Then he had the colossal bad luck of dislocating his ACL in previews for “Ground Hog Day,” and now has become something of a Broadway legend and also, believe it or not, a front-runner for the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, because despite performing in a black knee brace, he went on!

They should re-label “Ground Hog  Day” as “Andy Karl MUST GO ON!”

In the great theatrical tradition, nothing could stop him from giving this powerhouse, but utterly confusing performance.” Obviously in pain, he went bravely forward, over and over and over again, as the repetitious “Ground Hog Day”, a science-fiction musical if ever there was one, repeats and repeats and repeats itself. With Karl leading the charge, injured though he is, and with his knee brace clearly showing (he’s in his underwear a lot, as usual. And thank god for those terrific thighs!).

And audiences are going wild.

“Ground Hog Day” will have to run on fans of the movie, and perhaps, garbled and senseless (to me, a non-believer) as it was, that’s what audiences are craving these dark days in our country’s history. A feel-good, only partially funny, gigantic musical that makes no sense whatsoever. The world has gone mad in Puxitawney, Pa, and that’s the plot, such as it is.  Puxitawney is where the famous Puxitawney Phil, the ground hog who if he doesn’t see his shadow when he peaks of his hole in the ground means we’re getting six more weeks of winter. As far as I could tell, he didn’t see it. Thank god, it’s really now spring in NYC!

So, it’s Feb. 2nd and time and Ground Hog Day itself, keep repeating, repeating and repeating  in our beleaguered hero’s brain, while those townsfolk around him make merry and march and re-march and re-march. There is no end to those parading Pennsylvanians!

The music itself is also not much of anything. Tim Minchin who debuted so powerfully a few seasons back with the wonderful “Matilda”, here goes backward in time to really forgettable music and lyrics that seemed to be in a time-warp of their’ own, as if the magical “Matilda” had never happened.

And since this show was generated out of Australia, the small town PA. people are REALLY cartoons of what Pennsylvanians are like. Whatever they are, Pennsylvanians are not singing Australians, with bad American accents. And so the nightmarish cartoon juggernaut that is “Ground Hog Day” continues to roll over and distort and distort and re-distort everything in its’ path.

The Bill Murray movie couldn’t be this non-funny or garish. Oh, yes, and there aren’t any jokes. But there are lots of flying sets, one of which injured Andy Karl and may have won him a Tony. He deserved it for “Rocky,” but not for this mess.

And no, I’m not going to find the movie of “Ground Gog Day” and now watch it just to make sense of this gob-bil-di-gook. It would be just too painful. And I’m sure not funny, after what I’ve just been through with “Ground Hog Day:The Musical.” It’s like a night-mare you want to forget.

And “Amelie”! I hate to say anything negative about “Amelie”. It’s like kicking a kitten. I saw this French language movie, and I didn’t like it ,and can’t remember anything about it, except that Audrey Tautou is endlessly cute, and became a French icon of the ages. And I never could understand why. But there, like the Eifel Tower, she stands. Starring in French films of wildly varying quality. But an American musical?

And not casting a French girl in the lead? New York is NOT Paris, and good as she was in the original Natasha in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet” off-Broadway in the circus tent, and Tony-nominated for “Hamilton,” as his hapless wife, Eliza, Phillipa Soo never had to utter a single word of dialogue. Both these great early successes for the now 26-year-old Soo were wordless, sung-through pop-operas and boy, can she sing!

She possesses one of the great powerhouse voices, and it’s a pleasure to listen to her over and over and over again on the CDs of “Natasha, Pierre” and “Hamilton.” But here in “Amelie:The Musical” with REAMS of trite, banalities to make cute, piquant, quixotic and adorable, she’s utterly at sea. She’s at a loss with no script OR music to bolster her as she had both so memorably in “Natasha, Pierre” and “Hamilton.” I wonder if it will even last until the Awards are handed out in June? Somehow, I doubt it. And I’m a Francophile.

Kevin Spacey to Host This Year’s Tony Awards

This seems to be a very unusual, low-octane choice to host the high-powered Tony Awards broadcast, but there it is. Two time Academy Award Winner Kevin Spacey. However, he did win one Tony at the beginning of his career.

The most serious of recent Tony host choices  have all been song and dance men lately. Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. Or Comics like James Corden.

The Tony Awards announced today that Tony and Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey will host  the 71st Annual Tony® Awards live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Sunday, June 11 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. This will be Spacey’s first time hosting the Tonys. He won a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in “Lost in Yonkers.” The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.  

 

I was their 2nd choice for Usual Suspects, 4th choice for America Beauty and 15th choice to host this year’s Tony Awards. I think my career is definitely going in the right direction,” said Spacey. “Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”

“We are thrilled to have Kevin, who has mastered the Broadway stage, the big and small screens and the West End, host this year’s Tony Awards! His spirit and passion for live theatre makes him the perfect host, and we can’t wait to see the energy he brings to Radio City on Tony night!” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing.

 

“We’re excited to be working with a witty and charming host who is not only a Tony-winning actor and fan of live theatre, he’s also a president who is a true champion of the arts,” said Executive Producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner.

 

“A true star of television, film and theater, who better than Kevin Spacey to host this year’s Tony Awards?” said Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS Entertainment. “With his extensive repertoire, charisma and unparalleled dedication to live theater, we are thrilled to have him join us for this prestigious television event.” 

 

Award-winning producer and actor, Kevin Spacey, received a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.” Spacey has also starred in the Broadway and West End productions of “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” opposite his mentor Jack Lemmon; as well as the title role in the Sam Mendes production of “Richard III,” which toured to 12 cities around the world as part of the three year Old Vic/BAM/Bridge Project. He was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to theatre. He has also won the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best Actor for his role in “The Iceman Cometh.”

 

Inspired by Jack Lemmon, Spacey has often launched initiatives to help young people get their start in the competitive worlds of film and theatre, including: The Kevin Spacey Foundation, which offers support to young actors, writers, directors and producers (including workshops during the tour of “Richard III”); And the short film competition “Jameson First Shot,” awarded writer/directors from South Africa, Russia and the US, Canada and other countries with the opportunity to direct a short film starring a major actor. Most recently Kevin was awarded an Honorary Knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen for his work at the Old Vic, education and philanthropy.

 

Spacey currently stars in and executive produces the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Since the show premiered in 2013, he’s been nominated for multiple Emmys and has won both Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance as Frank Underwood. He has won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and for “American Beauty”. He was most recently seen opposite Michael Shannon in “Elvis & Nixon”. He will next be seen in “Billionaire Boys Club”, Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver,” and “Rebel In The Rye” for director Danny Strong. For over a decade, Spacey served as the Artistic Director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in London. Spacey recently stepped down from this role, but during his time appeared on stage at the Old Vic in productions of “National Anthems,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Speed the Plow” with Jeff Goldblum, “Inherit the Wind,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” and the acclaimed production of the one-man show, “Darrow” – an examination of the legendary Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow.

 The Tony Awards announced today that Tony and Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey will host  the 71st Annual Tony® Awards live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Sunday, June 11 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. This will be Spacey’s first time hosting the Tonys. He won a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in “Lost in Yonkers.” The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.  

 

I was their 2nd choice for Usual Suspects, 4th choice for America Beauty and 15th choice to host this year’s Tony Awards. I think my career is definitely going in the right direction,” said Spacey. “Maybe I can get shortlisted to host the Oscars if everyone else turns it down.”

“We are thrilled to have Kevin, who has mastered the Broadway stage, the big and small screens and the West End, host this year’s Tony Awards! His spirit and passion for live theatre makes him the perfect host, and we can’t wait to see the energy he brings to Radio City on Tony night!” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing.

 

“We’re excited to be working with a witty and charming host who is not only a Tony-winning actor and fan of live theatre, he’s also a president who is a true champion of the arts,” said Executive Producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner.

 

“A true star of television, film and theater, who better than Kevin Spacey to host this year’s Tony Awards?” said Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music and Live Events, CBS Entertainment. “With his extensive repertoire, charisma and unparalleled dedication to live theater, we are thrilled to have him join us for this prestigious television event.”   

Award-winning producer and actor, Kevin Spacey, received a Tony Award in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.” Spacey has also starred in the Broadway and West End productions of “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” opposite his mentor Jack Lemmon; as well as the title role in the Sam Mendes production of “Richard III,” which toured to 12 cities around the world as part of the three year Old Vic/BAM/Bridge Project. He was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to theatre. He has also won the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best Actor for his role in “The Iceman Cometh.”

 

Inspired by Jack Lemmon, Spacey has often launched initiatives to help young people get their start in the competitive worlds of film and theatre, including: The Kevin Spacey Foundation, which offers support to young actors, writers, directors and producers (including workshops during the tour of “Richard III”); And the short film competition “Jameson First Shot,” awarded writer/directors from South Africa, Russia and the US, Canada and other countries with the opportunity to direct a short film starring a major actor. Most recently Kevin was awarded an Honorary Knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen for his work at the Old Vic, education and philanthropy.

 

Spacey currently stars in and executive produces the Netflix original series “House of Cards.” Since the show premiered in 2013, he’s been nominated for multiple Emmys and has won both Golden Globe and SAG Award for his performance as Frank Underwood. He has won Academy Awards for his performances in “The Usual Suspects” and for “American Beauty”. He was most recently seen opposite Michael Shannon in “Elvis & Nixon”. He will next be seen in “Billionaire Boys Club”, Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver,” and “Rebel In The Rye” for director Danny Strong. For over a decade, Spacey served as the Artistic Director of The Old Vic Theatre Company in London. Spacey recently stepped down from this role, but during his time appeared on stage at the Old Vic in productions of “National Anthems,” “The Philadelphia Story,” “Speed the Plow” with Jeff Goldblum, “Inherit the Wind,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” and the acclaimed production of the one-man show, “Darrow” – an examination of the legendary Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow.

 

Massive, Historic Oscar Mess-up/Mix-up!?! WTF!?!

oscar-mix-up-1oscar-mix-up-2WTF just happened?!? Warren Beatty, who must be 😯 at least, and Faye Dunaway, who actually read out “La La Land” surely needed their reading glasses. But the card said “Best Actress Emma Stone La La Land.”

But Emma herself has been claiming that she herself has the Best Actress card with her name on it, as well as, of course, her Oscar and showed it on ABC’s post-show which is airing now.

So somebody handed Warren Beatty a DUPLICATE Best Actress card?!? How is that massive a mess-up even possible?!? Chaos! And it was incredibly gracious of the producer of “La La Land” the tall bald guy, whose name I will add in later, (Jordan Horowitz) showed the card that said “Best Picture Moonlight” and the three producers’ names.

This mess-up is all that anyone is talking about instead of about “Moonlight” a historic GAY black film. That cost about as much as the Sunday Times. Perhaps less. That historic moment is totally being buried. In fact, I didn’t hear the word “Gay” mentioned ONCE in the entire program or this ridiculous after-show were the two co-hosts, Lara Spencer and someone who is clearly really drunk. And the whole thing is cringe-worthy and whatisname Anthony Andrews(?) is saying it’s “a conspiracy” and just all of them so awkward and embarrassed that it’s a GAY film that won.

Part of me feels that Warren B. did this on purpose. Or Jimmy Kimmel was playing yet another prank. But whatever and whoever did this someone’s being fired tomorrow, if not sooner. It was so embarrassing and took away completely from “Moonlight”s winning.

I did think that something like this would happen though. Because I kept hearing how so many people didn’t like “La La Land” and it went home with the most Oscars anyway. Six.

Emma Stone’s dress was the best. The first winner wearing Givenchy since Audrey Hepburn in the 50s. It took 17 days to make. Shimmering gold, with beaded fringe. Gorgeous. Pure gold. She looked like the Oscar she won, but a little paler. Almost a rose-hued gold.emma-stone-oscar-dressAnd “Manchester by the Sea” won two. Two big ones. Best Actor for Casey Affleck and Best Original Screenplay for the brilliant Kenneth Lonergan.viola-casey-emma

Kevin O’Connell won after 21 times as an nominee for Sound! This mess-up really leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And “Moonlight” has barely made $20 million. The lowest take ever by a winner I think.

It won three awards. Mahershala Ali, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. Cra-zee, KRAY KRAY KRAY zee night but so happy for Casey Affleck and Emma Stone. And Damien Chazelle won Best Director for “La La Land.” It won Best Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and the two musical awards.

But it’s a crying shame that this mishap is overshadowing the history that was made tonight. A GAY FILM JUST WON BEST PICTURE!!! How historic is that?!?

Sasha Stone at Awardsdaily is the only one who had an inkling of his, but it was more than a wish, a hope, and yes, Sasha, it happened. An all-black cast in a black directed and written film. That’s history, too. Or should I say African American? I was told you don’t have to use the term African American anymore by a black female reporter at the New York Film Festival this year.

But it’s an achievement. And Sasha was right!

“La La Land” Wins Both Music Awards, “Manchester” wins Best Original Screenplay

city-of-stars“La La Land” wins two more making four so far. Best Song “City of Stars” and Best Score. And now Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are presenting Best Original Screenplay. I hope it’s “Manchester by the Sea”!

And It is!!!!!

casey-lucasTHRILLING!!!!

And “Moonlight” wins Best Adapted Screenplay.  Lots of Applause. A very popular choice. And it’s a Gay Movie. Who woulda thunk it?

It’s won two. The same as “Hacksaw Ridge”. Now the big awards are upon us.

Halle Berry, looking younger than ever, but with an awful Afro, giving out Best Director.

Damien Chazelle, the youngest Best Director in Oscar history, just won Best Director. So that’s five so far. It’s only going to win two more, if I’m right Actress and Picture.

First time an American director has won in YEARS, believe it or not.

 

 

Justin Timberlake Starts the Oscars Off with a Great Number & a Standing O! Mahershala Wins!

justin-timberlake-1Justin Timberlake starts off the Oscars just right with a rompin’, stompin’ raise-the-roof  with his own Oscar nominated song And it was great! From “Trolls.” He got a standing, dancing ovation! Great start! Then of course, Jimmy Kimmel  comes on and gets as he puts it, “Oh great, a sitting ovation”….

He then makes the audience give Meryl Streep a standing O.

And now, Best Supporting Actor! And here comes the lovely Alicia Vikander. She’s got a VERY deep tan.  Trying to look as un-Swedish as possible.

Mahershala Ali wins! I was wrong about Dev Patel…Another standing ovation…

A nice moving speech. His wife just had a baby and firstly he thanks his teachers, whom I know/knew the late Zelda Fischhandler and Ron Van Lieu from NYU Grad Acting. They were the first ones he thanked which was very classy of him. I saw him in many plays there and he was always as good as he was in mahershala-ali“Moonlight.” Lots of warmth in the room for “Moonlight” as Sasha Stone predicted at http://www.awardsdaily.com. And I didn’t…

His part in “Moonlight” was very small, but truly supporting. But he didn’t mention that he was a Muslim, which I wish he would’ve done.

 

 

 

Live Blogging the Oscars! First up, Lucas Hedges!

lucas-hedges-oscarlucas-hedges-shaved-headlucas-hedges-manchesterLive Blogging the Oscars has begun! I never start this early! It’s barely 6pm EST, but Supporting Nominee Lucas Hedges of “Manchester by the Sea” just gave the first speech of the evening to Sandy Kenyon of ABC.

Lucas was in full head-shaved mode for his hit Off Broadway play “Yen.” His trade-mark red-hair was completely gone. He was rocking an out-sized but chic, black bow-tie and traditional tux and he told Kenyon straight off “I don’t think I’m going to win.” But quickly added “The Nomination is the Win.” And compared it to riding on a roller-coaster and that his car had to go through three security/bomb searches on this way it. “They were all dressed up”(the Security men) like they were in Robo-Cop. It’s crazy.” And Kenyon wanted to know how it felt to be nominated for the Oscar at age 20. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe I’m here.”

Newsflash! Not! Natalie Portman of “Jackie, up for Best Actress, isn’t coming tonight, “because of her pregnancy.” Which didn’t stop her from coming six years ago, when she was also pregnant, and nominated for “Black Swan” which she won. She probably knew she wasn’t going to win this time. Nothing’s going to stop Emma Stone in “La La Land.” So Portman didn’t want to show up,  pregnant, and lose.

She got to the Golden Globes alright. But she did look very large.natalie-portman-pregnant#Oscar Red Carpet

#Lucas Hedges

#Natalie Portman

Debbie Reynolds Dies One Day After Carrie Fisher “Brights Lights” both

carroe-fisher-debbie-reynolds

Hollywood’s heart is surely broken forever with the devastating news of Legend Debbie Reynolds death the day after her beloved daughter Carrie Fisher’s death. I’m sad. I’m reeling. I just saw them featured quite marvelously in “Bright Lights” a doc on their tangled lives at the NYFF. And the thing that struck me so much about “Bright Lights” by Fisher Stevens, was how much they loved each other. How much fun they had and what a joy and a treat this documentary was.

It’s supposed to air on HBO, now probably sooner rather than later, but don’t miss it. It now has an air of tragedy hanging about it, that both Fisher and Reynolds dispel completely by their constantly being “On.” And entertaining us mightily and forever. It’s a fitting tribute to them, as they always say.

And they don’t hold back. It’s like they just couldn’t. But they loved each other and clearly couldn’t live without each other as events have sadly born out.

When I heard Carrie had died, I just KNEW in my heart that her death would kill Debbie, too, and it did. Their houses adjoined each other more or less “up a steep hill” as Carrie put it in Hollywood. They collected endless memorabilia from the Golden Days, and now Debbie herself, one of the biggest symbols of Hollywood’s hey day that there ever was is gone.

I can scarcely stand it. Debbie Reynolds played such a large role in my life, always the smiling, dancing teenager from “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Tammy” that song that never leaves your mind. And she was even nominated for an Oscar once for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Carrie had “Star Wars” a bigger hit financially than any of her mother’s films ever were. And her now iconic Princess Leia never really bowled me over. But her millions of fans disagree.

I loved her acerbic wit, which the film “Bright Lights” capitalizes on by starting with Carrie calling Debbie “tsu-Mommy,” but not to her face. When she enters the room with Debbie in it, it’s always “Mommy.” And the sweetness is not faked for the cameras.

With all her addictions and bipolar disorders, I always thought of Carrie as crashingly normal despite her upbringing and her surroundings. And so did she.

Debbie once said of Carrie “She’s genuine.” And she was. They both were.

We, the fans, are with them forever and are happy that they are together again in Hollywood Heaven. And we do have this great upcoming doc “Bright Lights” to watch over and over again as soon as it starts airing.

No Mommie Dearest relationship here. They truly loved each other. Don’t miss “Bright Lights.” Their bright lights will never go out.

#Debbie Reynolds Death

# Bright Lights doc

# Carrie Fisher Death

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