a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Bronx’

“People Vs. O.J. Simpson” TV Movie Series Very Well Done

OJ Cast 1I wasn’t going to watch it and then, I did, and after a few false starts, I was gripped. So kudos to all involved with the new TV Movie series “The People Vs.O.J. Simpson”. Based on the book by Jeffrey Toobin, it’s very well done. And smart, too. I was gripped. Even though, we all know how it turned out.

No spoilers are necessary, as this was the first court case that was turned into a TV series already when Judge Ito allowed cameras into the courtroom. It crackles. It’s sharp and it’s right on the money Writtten by .Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewki and directed/co-produced by Ryan Murphy “The People…” sizzles and burns up the small screen in just the right way. I was surprised. And delighted. Smart TV is always welcome.

And the casting is phenomenal. Cuba Gooding, Jr. FINALLY lives up to his Oscar potential (He won Supporting Actor EONS ago, it seems, for “Jerry Maguire” opposite Tom Cruise and a very young Renee Zellweger.)Yes, Cuba Gooding IS O.J. in this, although he is a man of much smaller stature. He has the bravado and the charm and the impatience of a super-star-football-hero-jock, which is what he was.

And Sarah Paulson, always a personal favorite, gets the role of HER career as the prosecuting attorney Marcia Clark. She is depicted here as a harrowed, over-worked single mom, and a feminist, who is appalled by the case she’s just been handed. It seems to her like it should be open and shut, except it isn’t at all.Sarah Paulson 2

Strangely, “The People…” doesn’t take sides and depicts the LAPD as the bumbling bunch of key stone cops that they probably were, in this instance.

Sarah Paulson really delivers here and puts her in the realm of leading lady roles where she’s always belonged. And David Schwimmer, of all people, is just grand as the compassionate heart of the O.J. side of things as Robert Kardashian. Yes, the father of all those Kardashians who now reign supreme as the Queens of Reality TV. And yes, Kris Kardashian Jenner is depicted, too. Although she only has a very small part to play in Episode One. She was a very close friend of the murdered Nicole Brown Simpson.David Schwimmer 1

He was a lawyer and one of O.J.s best friends who is just bewildered by the unbelievable events he sees unfolding around him. O.J. hides out at Kardassian’s house and we see him even attempting suicide in “Kimmy’s” bedroom, as the stricken Schwimmer, pulls him out of it.Before he disappears from the Kardashians hideaway starting his infamous White Brono chase.

In sharp contrast, there is ANOTHER lawyer, Robert Shapiro, who is played again at the top of his A-Game by John Travolta! Another shock. And a shockingly good performance. One of the best of Travolta’s career, and he is the super slick lawyer, a legal shark, if ever there was one, who knows that his client is guilty, probably,  and goes for it, takes the case, anyway.Schwimmer & Travolta 1

People forget now, but it was on TV EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR MONTHS! I watched the entire proceedings unfold with the rest of America. I was living alone in the Bronx after my mother’s death. I wondered what she would’ve thought of all of it. I was as gripped then. As I am gripped now by this exciting, insightful news series that is going to be on at 10pm on the FX channel on Tuesday nights for nine more weeks. And even though I thought I knew everything about it, “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” is constantly revealing new and startling aspects and yes, it WAS the birth of reality TV. Kardashians and all.

 

Joe Franklin Passes & Yes, I Was a Guest on his Show

One of the greats of New York talk shows just passed. Joe Franklin. He was ONLY 88, but he’s been around for so long, I thought he was in his 90s. or older.

As  a kid growing up in the Bronx, ever-glued to my television set., I Joe Franklinalways watched him whenever he came on. Which seemed to be always. He was omnipresent and I kept trying to figure out just why he had so, er, undistinguished guests.

Until years later, I became one. He was shooting his show in, I think, a TV Studio in New Jersey.I don’t know how I ever got on his Show. He was very finicky and he did all the booking himself. He was a real one man band, like I am. And you had to really pursue him, and call back a million times, it seemed. I was in the early regional theater days of my show, and we had just all traveled to Boston. To cover ART, the American Repertory Theater, run in those days by Robert Brustein.

And FINALLY Joe booked me. I couldn’t believe it! ANOTHER childhood dream come true! And then, there I was sitting on the sofa opposite him, with, I think, at least two others guests, a male to my left and a female to my right.

And I noticed something I hadn’t expected to find. He was just as nervous as I was! He put very unusual people together and then would mix it up, rapid firing questions like they were torpedo pellets. And I made the incredible, stupid mistake of saying that ART was doing something like “tap-dancing Ibsen”(which they really were) and I had said the bad word “Ibsen.” I don’t think Joe knew who that was. And then he switched the rest of the questions to the other two panelists, and didn’t come back to me again.

But at least I had made it on to his show.

Then he came back to me again, for some reason, I guess it was meeting him on Broadway for the Drama Desk. I think we got sat next to each other, for some forgotten show. And we were talking and he said, “Are you a critic? Do you want to be on my show?”

By this time he was on in the middle of the night on RADIO! You had to be there, like at 3 AM! And I don’t know if I did one or more shows this time. I remember him coming out and exclaiming with gusto”You did great, kid!” I thought I was talking to Florenz Ziegfeld.

Oh, Joe, we’ll miss you! He was the essence of New York Show Business.

Video

Teen Stars Saoirse Ronan & Tony Revolori Rock “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with laughs!

Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan is all grown up now in the hilarious heist romp “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and she is joined in merriment with Tony Revolori who aces the leading role of “Lobby Boy” Zero! Enjoy!

Editing ~ Paolo Pellegrino

New York After Sandy ~ A City Broken in Two

New York City is broken. Hurricane Sandy broke it in two. There are now two parts to my beloved city, the Light and the Dark. The Light is virtually untouched by the tragedy of the disaster.  The electricity and power are ON. And now even the subways are running.

But south of 30th Street on the West Side and 40th Street on the East is “The Dark.” There is no power at all. No light. No heat and in many high rises no water! The street lights are out. There are patrol men and women in uniforms directing traffic. Oh, and the buses and subways are free.

In the daytime there have been soooo many buses, more than I’ve ever seen in my life, and yesterday the subways started running again but only to midtown. Queens travelers I think are fine. And the Bronx, where I am from, is totally AOK.

I have not been able to replace my lost remote, so my TV remains dark, and the only news I get is from the Internet and most importantly from what my friends tell me. Or people on the buses I ride tell me.

I was always a huge bus-rider and it’s now like 9/11 here AGAIN where people are all turning to total strangers that they are sitting/standing next to and talking about The Conversation, the Catastrophe. Just like 9/11 when the notoriously rude New Yorkers all of a sudden WEREN’T. They became instantly friendly, concerned.

The people downtown, the Village, Lower Manhattan even Chelsea, are all looking like refugees from some war-torn country. Evacuation is the what they all should have done and many have, but many people can’t leave their cold, dark apartments. And in the skyscrapers downtown there is also of course no elevator service.

People are literally trapped as the weather turns ever colder in the high rises.

When I lived in London in the ’70s, I was always surprised when I saw and heard the British and especially the Cockney disdain for living way above the ground. Now it seems wise.

Me? I’ve got heat, light, and water. My internet is working. And so are the elevators. But when I had to venture out to 23rd Street on Wed. it turned into a really harrowing ordeal. Going downtown the bus was as jam-packed as the subway at rush hour and I was checking on my storage room downtown, where all my playwriting and past TV shows are stored, and while my floor was OK, the basement was flooded and everybody who had anything stored there lost everything.

There are still no lights downtown. Block after block as far as the eye could see, not one light on in ANY buildings.

And no subways at all in the lower part of Manhattan.  It’s frightening. It’s shocking. It’s sad. It’s terrible.

Meanwhile, uptown the party that is New York goes on. Everybody in the “Light” area seems almost universally giddy, upbeat, rushing to the next Broadway show or movie.

And yes, the movie houses are now open as of yesterday, I think.

I went to see a screening of the upcoming “Lincoln” and went uptown on a bus(which was free)to the suddenly appropriately named Lincoln Square.

On the way up there was this terrible traffic snarl. Why? Well, there was this crane dangling over W.57th street, which is closed off for blocks. It took a long time, but we got there. And coming back, we got a subway (also free) I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear the rumble of the always noisy subway for the first time in days!

There weren’t a lot of people on it. But every body who was on it was in a good mood, because they were riding on it and it was going. Just down to W.34th Street. But it was going. And it was bright and warm. And everybody was happy to be on it. THIS is a New York first, too. Smiles all ’round on a subway!

TIFF winding down…Mira Sorvino & Nancy Savoca delight in “Union Square”

As the temperature begins to drop up here in Toronto, we ARE in Canada, as festive and glamourous as TIFF always makes it seem like it’s Hollywood  But as the wind blows off Lake Ontario, the season begins to change here in a  mouse-click. Yes, the leaves are beginning to turn red here and there. The famous Canadian Maple Leaf insignia is everywhere, and always symbolizes Fall, and it’s starting to feel like it here in the shade. The bright Canadian sunshine makes the sunny side of the street still feel like summer, but uh oh, on the other side….it’s autumn!

And I had the toasty warm delight this chilly morning of interviewing the lovely “Union Square”s star Academy Award Winner Mira Sorvino and her equally warm and delightful director Nancy Savoca.  “Union Square” is a femme-centic film starring Mira and this year’s Tony Nominee for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”s Tammy Blanchard. I had the great privilege of having Tammy as a guest earlier this year and she is almost totally unrecognizable as Mira’s austere, repressed sister Jenny. Lucy (Mira) is basically having a nervous breakdown on her cell phone in Union Square and turns up on her estranged WASP-y sister’s Jenny’s, doorstep, also in Union Square and suffice it to say, your perception of good ole Union Square will never be the same again.

The super wonderful Savoca, who is at the top of the list of today’s female filmmakers, hits it out of the Ball Park again with this heartwarming(but not at all treacle-y) story of two young women who just can’t get along, but have to. Being sisters.

To give any more away would be to spoil, “Union Square”s delights, but I will reveal that these fighting feisty girls mother is played in a surprise cameo by Patti Lu Pone(!) Whom I whole-heartedly adore.

So I’ll leave the rest of “Union Square” unrevealed until it plays in a theatre NEAR YOU. Hopefully very soon. You’ll love it. I did.

“Gun Hill Road” terrific new transexual indie!

I predict that the critics will be throwing their collective hats into the collective air above them in hailing the arrival of “Gun Hill Road,” a terrific new Indie about of all things, a Bronx teenage transsexual! And that one of those hats may just land squarely on the very pretty Hispanic head of Harmony Santana, the Latino/Latina actor/actress who gives one of the greatest debut performances I’ve ever seen. Is Oscar listening?

Harmony reminds you a LOT of Jaye Davidson of “The Crying Game” who ended up with a Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1992 for playing a tranny who was passing who hooks up with the IRA. He lost to Gene Hackman in “The Unforgiven” but that startling nomination is there forever. I thought in one of the first years I was predicting the Oscars on my TV show that he would win. Scott Siegel(yes, he’s been on my show THAT long) said it was gonna be Hackman. I should’ve listened.

The New York Times is hailing Harmony, too, in a full-blown, star-is-born feature article pointing the way to a future career for Harmony and also to PERHAPS major awards kudos at the end of the year. If Jaye Davidson can pull of this Oscar hat trick, Harmony Santana can, too!

And yes, as the New York Times so delicately points out, she IS a transsexual playing a transsexual which is a rarity indeed in features.

Out of Sundance via NYU Film School, it is, believe it or not, the “Thesis Films” of its’ VERY talented young director/writer, Rashaad Ernesto Green, who I knew as a wonderful young African-American acting student at NYU’s famed Grad Acting Dept. He was a memorable, sexy, wounded Brick in a production there of Tennessee Williams’ classsic “Cat on a Hat Tin Roof.” And his classmate Corey Stall played Big Daddy. And Corey is lighting up the screen this year in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”  and he may be Oscar nomination bound, too! I’ve now seen “Midnight in Paris” SEVEN TIMES! An all time record for me!

But back to Rashaad Ernest Green and his wonderful new film “Gun Hill Road”!

Upon graduation, Rashaad had to face the “pounding the pavements” reality of an actors’ life in New York City and this drove him quick smart back to the haloed halls of NYU Film School, this time, to get yet ANOTHER Master’s Degree this time in film.

And boy has he struck pay dirt with “Gun Hill Road”! It’s gone from Sundance to major distribution where it is going to be opening at the Angelika as well as the AMC 42nd St.  this Friday!

If you can’t wait, you can see me interviewing him and Harmony and soon Esai Morales, too, as the jail-house dad, on my You Tube Channel here ~ at www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

They’re all going to be famous tomorrow. Or thereabouts.

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