Media Morsels 1.15.10
It was a busy week out there in the media – and as always, I have an opinion or two!
- The Red Pompadour in the Room
Well, the biggest media-related news item this week was arguably the Conan-Leno-NBC (Dysfunctional) Love Triangle. Leno’s new one-hour prime-time program has been lacking ratings, as has Conan’s Tonight Show. NBC decided to cut Leno’s show in half and air it at 11:35, bumping The Tonight Show, which has aired at 11:35, after local nightly news, for 60 years, to a 12:05 start time (which, is actually not tonight but this morning) and moving Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show to 1:05. Conan ain’t havin’ that. In a statement released on Tuesday, Conan said he could not be a part of what “I honestly believe is [The Tonight Show’s] destruction.” Settlement negotiations are currently underway and NBC execs are no doubt trying to figure out what to program when. Will Leno move back to The Tonight Show at 11:35? Will Conan have a gag order, of sorts, on his settlement contract precluding him from being on air, on NBC or another network, for a year or more? Will any of this matter or will Dave and his Top Ten list rule the late-night fight? I’ve always taped whichever show has a guest on I want to see – Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, Foo Fighters… – and when I watch the program saved to my DVR the next day, I fast forward to the interview. I’ve never gotten into the habit of regularly watching one of these shows for the host. What about you? Who do you like in late night and what do you think will happen? Leave your comments at the end of this post.
- Coming Up Off-Broadway
There are lots of new plays (and a musical here or there) coming to off-Broadway this winter and spring. Playbill.com provided a listing of the offerings but here the few I’m most excited about:
Teach Your Children Well – A new play by Adam Rapp (brother of Mark (from Rent) originator Anthony and one of my favorite modern playwrights) premiering at the Vineyard in February. In this new play, a writer tries to defend his novel that has been banned by a local school board.
The Aliens – The latest offering from Circle Mirror Transformation playwright Annie Baker concerns two young men who take a high schooler under their wings and try to give him an education. This will play at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre starting April 15.
The Kid – Based on sex columnist (and frequent Bill Maher guest) Dan Savage’s book, this new musical will find two gay men struggling with parenthood. Chris Sieber (Lord Farquaad in the recently closed Shrek) is signed on to star.
The Pride – Hugh Dancy, a British actor who is engaged to Claire Danes, will star in MCC’s production of a new play about a complex love triangle. The Pride will begin performances on January 27. (Note to my fellow young adults: MCC has a $20 under 30 deal, so if you’re under 30 years old, you can snag a ticket for just $20.)
- Glee Scoop
Fox announced this week that Glee would return for a second season this fall (that is, after it finishes the first season this April and May.) This was pretty much a no-brainer but it’s nice to have confirmation. The interesting twist is that the creators said they plan to add three new characters to the show and they are conducting a nationwide online-video casting session for the three roles. Details will be posted on fox.com/glee but the basic bits are: If you’re 16-26, create a video showcasing your talent and submit it online. This casting process will be documented and a special will air leading up to the season two premiere. This is glee-tastic!
Let’s Get Physical!
Glee creator Ryan Murphy revealed this week that Olivia Newton-John will make an appearance in the next batch of Glee, which returns to the airwaves on April 13. The one-time Sandra Dee will sing, along side Cheerios coach Sue (played by the ridiculously hilarious Jane Lynch) her own hit, "Get Physical". This batch of episodes will also, as previously reported, feature the return of Kristen Chenoweth (who’s coming to the boards this spring in Promises, Promises), an appearance by Idina Menzel and a special all-Madonna episode. Can you “get into the groove”?
The Sweet Stylings of Matthew Morrison
Glee and theatre world dreamboat Matthew Morrison has signed a record deal with Mercury Records to record a solo album. Playbill.com reports that the album will likely be released this fall, to coincide with Glee’s second season premiere. Not much more information (like what kinds of songs will make up the album) is available, but what else do you need to know? It’s Matthew Morrison singing a full album’s worth of songs. That’s music to my ears! (Can’t wait until the fall? Pick up the original cast recordings for Hairspray, A Light in the Piazza, South Pacific or Glee: The Music, Volumes 1 & 2, for your fix.)
- Spidey Isn’t Swinging into Action Just Yet
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the much anticipated and talked about stage-musical adaptation of Spider-Man (in all incarnations) will not, as previously announced and as emblazoned on billboards and marquises, open on February 25, according to Green Goblin actor Alan Cumming. [This was later confirmed by the show’s producers.] Cumming, who broke onto the scene with a turn as the emcee in the 1998 revival of Cabaret, told the New York Times that the show will open, just not in February. Spider-Man has been plagued by a lack of funding; according to reports, once the project is fully funded, rehearsals will resume. The NY Post reports that previews will now begin in September. Until then, keep those spidey senses tingling.
- Award Show Season Update
Writers Guild Awards nominees have been announced. Among those contending for honors are writers on Glee, 30 Rock, Modern Family and The Office (+Curb, for writing in a comedy series); Glee, The Good Wife and Modern Family (+Hung and Nurse Jackie, for writing on a new series); and Real Time with Bill Maher, SNL, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (+The Tonight Show with Conan, for writing for a variety/comedy series).
The New York Critics handed out their awards – check out the list of winners and arrival photos here.
Singing for Your Oscar
As noted in previous posts, the Oscar Best Song nomination process is a little screwy. In a recent post on The Wrap, writer Steve Pond shed some more light on the process, though this illumination only made the whole process seem even screwier. Pond explains that academy members who are eligible to vote in the Best Song category either attend a screening or receive a DVD full of three-minute clips of the eligible songs; these clips are the moments of the movie during which the song was heard. This means that for some of the eligible songs, voters will see Kate Hudson dancing down a runway with glitzy and glamorous dancers backing her up. (This was how the “Cinema Italiano” scene played out in the movie.) For other songs, like’s U2’s “Winter” – written for the film Brothers – all the voters will see is the end credits backed by the U2 song. Pond points out, and I agree, that seeing the clip doesn’t give you the full context and is an inefficient way of determining a song’s power and role in a film. As I’ve bemoaned before, last year Bruce Springsteen’s sorrowful and soulful “The Wrestler”, for the eponymous movie, was not even nominated. (Though there were five slots, only three songs were nominated.) As it happened, “The Wrestler” played during the film’s end credits. So, when a voter just saw a list of names and heard a great song, if they hadn’t seen the film, they had no idea whatsoever just how poignant or beautiful the song was. This is a dysfunctional way to expose voters to the eligible songs, and coupled with the requirement that songs receive an average vote of 8.25 to become a nominee, I’m left thinking that this category, to borrow from the always eloquent Cypress Hill, is “Insane in the Brain”.
The Golden Globes, hosted by Ricky Gervais, will be presented this Sunday night on NBC. Red carpet coverage, with sharp-tongued Joan Rivers, starts at 6 on E! (and other channels, too, but their commentators don’t bring as much funny as Joan.) Expect a full reactionary report on Monday or Tuesday.
- American Idiot Trailer
A sneak peek at what’s heading to the St James, this trailer video is from the Berkeley production. Enjoy!
- No More Chicago Seven
On Tuesday, Chicago became the sixth longest running show on Broadway. The hit revival (which I’ve still yet to see) played its 5,462nd performance on the 12th, knocking Beauty and the Beast (which, to my memory, if the first show I ever saw on Broadway, just like Jonathan Groff) down to seventh place. Currently, the top ten longest running shows are: Phantom, Cats, Les Miserables, A Chorus Line (the original, not the revival), Oh! Calcutta, Chicago, Beauty and the Beast, Rent, The Lion King and Miss Saigon. The Lion King is only 46 performances behind Rent, so look for it to take the number eight spot in late February.
- Side by Side by Susan Blackwell
The tart [tosser] is back with the second installment of her three-celeb interview series. This time she sits down (and stands and paints) with Gavin Creel, a favorite of mine who stars as Claude in the beautiful revival of Hair, as well as Kelli O’Hara (most recently of South Pacific) and Beth Leavel (currently in Mamma Mia!). Like the first episode, this is very funny – and a must watch if only to see Gavin do his impression of Leo in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. It’s kind of wrong and kind of hilarious.
- Hair’s Pond Jumping Commercial
In preparation for Hair’s London premiere, a commercial of performance footage and critics’ praise has been put together. Watch it here and then book your ticket to London to join me in welcoming the Age of Aquarius across the pond. (No, I’m not actually going – but a gal can dream, can’t she?)
Also, the producers of Hair are holding an open, non-equity casting call at the Public Theatre on January 21 to find new Tribe members, who will debut as an ensemble on March 9, after the current Tribe takes their final pre-London bow on March 7. Visit Hairbroadway.com for more details.