a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Buses’

Out in the Blizzard~ Neon Doesn’t Change in the Snow

more snowsnow

Well, the snow is over. But it’s sooo cold….I don’t know which is worse…Snow can be fun. The single digit cold isn’t.

Yesterday traveling through mid-town Manhattan on a bus took ten times the time it usually takes to go from here to there….Of course, it WAS scenic…The Snow turning even the grittiest urban eyesore into something beautiful to look at…Piles of junked cars became artful sculpture in the white.

But I did notice one thing. Neon doesn’t change in the snow. As my bus went SLOOOOOWLY through the Times Square area, the bright Neon signs were as garish as they’ve ever been and just as visible, just as readable. A mad, blinding blizzard in New York doesn’t stop the advertising from being read quite clearly. Skyscrapers, too, looked the same, although the swirling snow was visibly engulfing them, making their tops disappear into the white. So they seemed surprisingly shorter,in the mad swirl, but the Neon signs, no. The Times Square area continued its’ blazing, blaring,non-stop Broadway ballyhoo-ing. 

When it’s snowing it isn’t THAT cold out.It was around 30 degrees, or a bit less. The snow changes everything in such a mechanical city as New York. It slows down into the slowest of motions and interferes with everything, except of course, the subways.

As we approached Second Avenue, I heard on the bus’ intercom that a Select Bus, one of the new, super-long buses they’ve been introducing with a huge, accordion bend (or two) in the middle had “jack-knifed on Second Avenue.” I asked the bus-driver if the other buses were running on Second Avenue and he said he didn’t know. And I wondered if I should get out where we were Third Avenue, which I thought also went downtown.(It doesn’t.) And he said “I can’t tell you what to do. It’s up to you. You can take the risk.” Which left me completely confused. Thanks a lot. 

But I could see the traffic running, racing even on Second Avenue, so I thought “Well, the traffic certainly hasn’t slowed down. So the buses must be running.” They weren’t. I waited and waited on Second Avenue with dozens and dozens of other people. Bundled up they all looked like Russian peasants. The tired, the poor, the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shores, trying to get downtown.

I ducked into the warm, friendly lobby of the WPIX building. I must’ve been there for over a quarter of an hour, then I finally decided to walk back from whence I came. To Third Avenue, where the buses also went downtown. Or so I thought. No. The traffic was all going uptown. And at that point I was seriously considering giving up and going home. But no. As I trudged into the driving white mess, I saw a colorful subway sign.My heart leapt! Civilization! So that’s what I did. I went down into the subway. I had never seen this entrance before, AND it had an escalator going down, so that’s what I did. And I eventually got where I was going.

Moral of the story, when it’s a blizzard in New York City, take the subways. They NEVER stop.

I should’ve taken the subway in the first place.

It’s Snowing in NYC

I love snow. I love to LOOK at snow. Going out it in is another thing entirely, but today I must. I could’ve cancelled everything as many in the city do on a day like this. But I’m going out in it. And tonight I’ve got “Machinal” on Broadway. I’m seeing it with one of my theater-going friends who also just confirmed, so I AM going. And the press agent just sent me an email, confirming my presence again. So I’m doubly committed.

I do have a new winter coat now, but the secret, I think, really, is layering. Which I am doing as we speak.

Subway or bus? I’m leaving super-early because the buses may be running slowly, of course. But the subway steps are treacherous in this weather. So I guess I’m opting for the bus.

Looking outside my window this morning was a total shock! Snow everywhere! Was this predicted? Too busy reading and writing my blog last night to notice the weather reports and catching up with Downton Abbey, natch.

More on that soon. HUGE event happened in Episode 2, but I’m STILL staying away from spoilers at the moment, but BOY is Mrs. Hughes having one challenging season!

Not All Subways Back, My Library Didn’t Have Heat, but the Oscar Race does!

After a week of recovery that is starting to remind me of The Reconstruction half of “Gone With The Wind”, I’m happy to report that the some of the subways are working just fine. But some are not running at all. And nobody seems to know which trains are on and which are off.

Unless you go down there yourself and find out the hard way. Which I did.

The “L” was not running this afternoon, and I had to take a cross-town bus, which was running fine and not crowded to get across 14th from West to East.  The 3rd Avenue bus just zipped uptown, again, not crowded, though it was the Hour of Rush(not Limbaugh). And the N train was running just fine, but still only going to 34th Street.

And the R train is not running at all. Yet.

Still confusion reigns and you have to leave an hour or at least 30 additional minutes to get where you’re going, just in case, you run into one of these inevitable SNAFUS.

14th Street as the bus sailed Crosstown looked absolutely normal, I’m happy to report. If 14th EVER looks normal. Lots of young people literally bopping and bouncing about their business in a jaunty step that said “Wheeee! I’m Freee! I can get out of the house and also,  get back, too!”

And it’s gotten COLDER. The temperature’s now in the 30s! In hasn’t been this cold in New York since two years previous. Last year there was no winter at all. And I missed it. Now that it’s THIS cold, I just want it to go away!

And there’s supposed to be another storm coming on Wednesday!!!

Meanwhile, Anne Thompson is “digging into Anthony Breznican’s EW Oscar Predictions” at www.indiewire.com

I guess St. Anne got a copy of the not-on-the-stands-yet Entertainment Weekly Holiday Edition. And I agree with Anne almost completely I have to say. Breznican, who replaced Oscar God Dave Karger, who was well-nigh infallilble has moved on to Fandango (to do what? Write? I didn’t know Fandango was a magazine or site. I thought they just sold tickets.)

Anne is right, I think, in saying that he, Breznican, the newbie, is going “too indie” and she’s right. In this year, with the Academy facing more and much, much better studios movies than they’ve had in DECADES, the indies are going to get all but shunted to the side.

That means YOU “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Jeffrey Wells in HIS weekly podcast was witness to a roomful of Academy types NOT in love with Joaquim Phoenix AT ALL in a screening/party he went to in the Hollywood Hills. Sounds glamorous. But Jeff in his podcast this week, DID dig deep into the Supporting Actress category and fortunately mentioned the great Ann Dowd of “Compliance”(though she’s the lead) and also, surprisingly Breznican had her, too. In Entertainment Weekly, which everyone reads, esp. their Oscar Nomination prediction issue(Everything is SOOOOO early this year.) so that was important for Dowd’s chances. She COULD be the Demian Bichir of this year. The Academy just has to keep being REMINDED, since it seems IFC the distributor is not spending a dime on this one.

I knew Linda Hunt, who WON Best Supporting Actress back in the ’70s for playing an Asian MAN in a movie that I can’t remember the name of. And SHE, Ms. Hunt Didn’t do ANYTHING in terms of campaigning or ads, but in those days you didn’t have to.

And there’s two camps on upcoming “Hitchcock”. Love it. Or hate it. Variety didn’t love it and I think Jeff didn’t either. Ditto Sasha Stone AND Anne Thompson. Oscar Goddess Stone was facing a dilemma about whether she was going to write about it or not. “The Two Faces of Alfred” I’m sure a genius like Hitchcock MORE than just two faces. That’s not the name of Sasha’s article. That’s a metaphor.

Et voila!

I SUDDENLY I get invited to see it here in NYC tomorrow! So it’s a double-header! “Silver Linings Playbook” and then “Hitchcock.” I hope I can stand it. But fortunately they are both short movies. So things are picking up.

I think Joaquim Phoenix is just OUT of the jammed Actor category, which is what Jeffrey Wells saw displayed before him in Hollywood last night. There’s two or three too many Best Actor performances. And SOMEbody’s gonna get left out.

And I think it’s JP.

So I see Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson’s performances TOMORROW! Talk About an Old Time Double Featurel!

Some Lights Go Back on, but the subways STILL are not all back.

Life in NYC post-Sandy is symbolized to me by that dangling, dislodged crane over W.57th St. It seems like everything here is dangling by a thread now. Nothing is certain anymore. You keep waiting for the next shoe, or crane, to drop. And there’s another storm coming this week!

The buses and subways are now back to charging fares. They are no longer free. I found that out the hard way when I went to return some items to the library today. Ouch! They should keep it free until ALLLLL of the subways are back! And a lot are not.

I would say it’s like 3/5s there. Lower Manhattan is still a frightening dead zone, though lights have come back on. But not the subways. Buses go down there at night, I understand, but I wouldn’t venture there. New York like this is scary enough in the daytime, nevermind at night.

But you do go stir crazy if you stay in too much. But going out with the weather turning colder than its’ been in a long time in NY,(we barely had a winter last year), if you’re not bundled up like an Eskimo, the chill winds can kill you.

Today the temperature kept dropping, and I had to go out, and go to the library cross town, as I said, then back uptown to the TV station to drop off this week’s “Stephen Holt Show” and that’s a long, cold walk, let me tell you.

And with W.57th STILL a danger zone, buses were being re-routed over to 9th Ave. from Fifth and Sixth and 7th…well, you get the picture.

Then they continue on back on their regular routes once they get past The Dangling Crane.
And who do I meet on the bus going back home, after dark, from the TV station? Well, one of my favorite British character actresses of all time Miriam Margoyles!

She was a particular favorite of mine from the many,many film and TV roles I saw here in when I lived in London in the 70s and now that I live here, I kept following her work.

She’s in town she told me “safe and warm on the Upper West Side” to do a two performance only stint of her one-woman show “Dickens Women” at the Morgan Library. It sounds delicious! And particularly with Madame Margoyles playing Dickens perfect-for-her eccentric characters.

Her voice is so deep and warm and resonant, the chill New York night didn’t seem so cold anymore. She told me she was on her way to see “The Heiress” starring Jessica Chastain on Broadway. And I told her I was also seeing it later this week.

I also took a wild guess and thought that she and Dame Helen Mirren might be very good friends. Same age. British. Acting royalty. AND THEY ARE!

I told Miriam that Dame Helen had just had great success the night before at the AFI film festival with “Hitchcock” which she didn’t know anything about.

“Oh, I love Helen! Don’t you? She’s a wonderful person!” and I concurred saying that I had interviewed her many times.

“And Sir Anthony Hopkins is playing Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Dame Helen is playing his wife,” I told her and she continued to enthuse.

“I’ve worked many times with both of them. They are both lovely people!”

I told her that people are thinking that they BOTH could get Oscar nominations.

And I told her is was worried about her play because the Morgan Library is in the “Dark” zone…er, I think…

And she said, “The Lights will be on by then!”

Actors! They keep this city buzzing!

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!

Irene, after…

Well, Hurricane Irene is allll over and the air is fresh. The sky is an incredible blue, the type of blue most seen in the Rockys. No clouds whatsoever, just this pure, clear blue, and New Yorkers are walking around again and they’re smiling.

And the city looks like somebody just took it out and washed it throughly which is exactly what Irene just did.

The subways are running. The buses are running. The taxis were ALLLLWAYS running. And everything looks strangely new. And everyone looks very well rested.

Which shut up in their apartments, they all were.

A cleaner New York…and no one was killed or injured…Now THAT is amazing…

As I prepare to dive into pre-TIFF movie screenings here in NYC before I leave…I hope they are going to be good….There are soooo many films and sooo many titles…Well, it takes awhile to sort them all out…but “Coriolanus” tomorrow night, looks to be a good one. Directed by and starring that helluva nice guy Voldemort, I mean, Ralph Fiennes, and a Volumnia that is said to rank with Vanessa Redgrave’s best and may garner her ANOTHER Oscar…We shall see.

The rain has completely stopped, as have the buses & subways….

The rain has completely stopped. At least for the moment. No thunder in the distance, as I heard briefly this morning, as I dashed about. And one thing that I DIDN’T do is at Whole Foods yesterday, I forgot to get my coffee beans GROUND!?!?

Should I go out now and see if I can accomplish this before Irene makes it IMPOSSIBLE???

Hmmm…I just might….

Irene Catches me in a torrential downpour, then my phone is dead!

I make ONE last grocery run and get caught in a torrential downpour on the way back! Soaked through to the skin! Shirt, pants, shoes, everything! And as quickly as it started, it stops, but I’m still soaking wet.

I see Duane Reade locking customers out and the check-out winds all the way back through the store, like a snake coiling. Something I have never seen before there. The sky turns from grey to white and back again. The buses stop running. People with pull-suitcases heading – where? The Port Authority? Hotels must be packed! Cabs, however, are EVERYWHERE! So people CAN get around Manhattan, if they can catch one. The city is drowning in a sea of yellow. Taxis. Mayor Bloomberg, nor no one can shut them down! SOMEbody’s makin’ a fortune today!

And now the sun is coming out!

But I return home to find my phone is dead, which also means no internet.

My trusty ole dial-up computer Windows 98 gives me instructions. “Check the phone modem connections” or something like that. And I frantically move furniture to find that YES, the phone jack is out of the wall. My vast collection(not really) of movie posters having dislodged it slightly. Just enough to disconnect EVERYTHING and send me into a panic. But as you see, the internet is back on! Phew!

And all on Anthony Del Col’s birthday! Happy birthday Anthony! He’s in Toronto awaiting the opening of TIFF. Where I hope Hurricane Irene is NOT being felt. Anthony is of Conor and Anthony the Kill Shakespeare guyz and to refresh your memory and to get a Shakespearean thrill, check out www.killshakespeare.com He’s turning 34 today, for those who MUST know.

He’s hopefully going to be doing some co-hosting duties and awards chat once I get to TIFF! But first I have to survive Irene, and keep the phone lines ON!

Trips Begin Before They Start

John Steinbeck wrote in his last book “My Travels With Charlie” which was about abandoning life as he knew it and just randomly driving across country in a mobile home with his beloved dog Charlie.

Steinbeck wrote “Trips Begin Before They Start and End Before They’re Over.” The capitalizations are mine. And I have found this to really hold true.

Today, as I was taking a bus, a very nice commuter bus,  that went over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island. That view from the bridge is just spectacular of New York Harbor which was busier today and looking more beautiful than I had ever remembered it, and I realized that I had already left mentally for my Great Annual Trek North to the great Canadian Film Festivals. Montreal and Toronto. And yes, they don’t start for a while yet, but mentally I’m already there. Though my body is still in New York.

Trips, or planning to go on them, takes a tremendous amount of  detailing, scheduling, planning, no matter whether you’re filming a television and web series as I am, or just going on vacation. And though this is the thirteenth year I’ll be doing this great global cinematic trek, it still surprises me.

You get to a point where you realize that yes, the trip is taking over your life and you just have to give yourself up to it and enjoy.

And true, I was just traveling to Staten Island, but yes, I was already in motion. Or wanting to be in motion, constantly.

I love trains. I love buses. Planes less so…

But I just realized this afternoon with still more than a real-time week to go, that actually there is nothing left of my life now, except PLANNING EVERYTHING TO GO.

And I always forget something.

I’m sure every one does.

You’ve got to cross all the “i”s and dot all the “t”s. No wait. That’s backwards. You see, it’s happening already.

You’re mind going to ~ What about this? Did I take care of that? What am I forgetting? What is it that I have to do TODAY? Before I go…Did I make all the phone calls I had to? Did I send all the emails?

And it was almost exactly a year ago, while not quite yet, but soon, that I wrote my first ever blog entry! And look! A year later and I’m still doing it!

Oh and there many, many things, and many days to do them in but like, for instance, I’m stopping seeing any plays or movies before I go. I have to keep my head clear to think of the mind-numbing numbers of films I’m going to have to see starting very, very soon, and really they ARE the most important films of the year.

Last year, at Toronto, for all of you who read my blog and watch my television show, you know how important Toronto was for me, and how crucially right it was for me to get up at 6AM that first Friday and get to the 9AM “King’s Speech” first press screening and then run up town in the VERY hot TO. heat to make it to the un-air-conditioned hallways outside the rooms where Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Tom Hooper were giving their FIRST press interviews and colliding with me, who Tom Hooper named “The Oscar messenger.” And how that began to change everything for me.

I ONLY do films now that I think are Oscar worthy. Doesn’t mean that they’ll be nominated, but they’re being BUZZED. Which means they MIGHT be. Which means they’ll be part of the Oscar Conversation that is going to go on for the next nearly six months straight. And Toronto REALLY started it last year.

For those who follow my dear Sasha’s great site www.awardsdaily.com (and if you don’t, you should!) will know that this year the drums starting beating extra early in Cannes, where Sasha went with her little daughter Emma Stone(no. Not THAT one.) with the Opening of Cannes with Woody Allen’s masterpiece “Midnight in Paris” which I have now seen SEVEN times!

And yes, that film is gonna be around when the nominations come out. It’s made more money than any film of Woody’s EVAH! And I NEVER see a film THAT many times! GLACK! What kind of hold does this film have on me? And others, too, obviously, by the box-office we know this to be true and people are going back and back and back to see it more than once.

The film is dense with cultural references, and it’s like a subplot trying to unravel all of them. Or ANOTHER movie in and of itself. It exists in two worlds as does its’ hapless hero Gil Pender….Owen Wilson becomes the new Cary Grant in this movie. No. I’m not kidding….

And oh yes, there were other films that unspooled at Cannes that Sasha wrote about so marvelously at Awardsdaily. “The Tree of Life” being another that has opened and has played well, despite its’ esoterica, and is still playing. Like “Midnight in Paris.”

And many Cannes faves are coming up at Toronto. TIFF is just loaded with them.

The first one that I’m going to be seeing is “Drive” starring Ryan Gosling, who I like, I really like, and whose director won the Best Director Award and well, Ryan’s performance is being buzzed, as he always is, when he’s got something that looks even remotely bait-y.

We shall see…

And then there’s Madonna, the new reborn directutrix of “W.E.” which I hear is “beautiful” and has Harvey Weinstein producing it! AND it’s about Wallis Simpson! The woman who set the plot of “The King’s Speech” in motion, lest me forget, last year. And you know where that ended up! AT THE KODAK! “Best Picture of the Year” “Best Actor” “Best Director” “Best Screenplay”!!!

And no, Harvey would NOT be risking the comparison of having “W.E.” be an also-ran to his last year’s Toronto Filly. So I’m betting that HW knows EXACTLY how good this film must be.

If he DIDN’T think it was THAT good, Oscar good, you can bet he wouldn’t be bringing a hot tamale like Madonna’s directing debut up to TIFF, NOR BTW would TIFF have ACCEPTED IT. They have very, very good taste, too, in these things. They are known as an Oscar launch pad, and they have a reputation to live up to,too.

Maybe this is HW’s strongest Oscar bet this year. He is certainly leading with his trump card. He’s got Meryl’s “Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn” coming up to. That’s Meryl as Margaret Thatcher, and Michelle as MM…those two films already scream BEST ACTRESS PERFORMANCES at me, and not BEST FILM. So with the “W.E.” placement at TIFF as a GALA…Well…

As John Steinbeck said “Trips Being Before They Start.”

And I can’t WAIT!

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