Media Morsels 5.14.10
- American Idiot Media Coverage
American Idiot stud Michael Esper recently spoke to TheatreMania.com about his involvement in the show, from casting to rehearsal to the stage door. Plus, as this is Esper’s first musical, he talked about the unique (and ultimately satisfying) challenges of performing in a musical as opposed to a straight play.
- Memphis Lives in JTims
Former Mousekateer Justin Timberlake was born in Memphis, the city. He recently came to New York and saw Memphis the show. Now he wants to make Memphis the movie. I say, “Go for it!” The multitalented “Motherlover” would probably be a passionate and careful producer. I’m just making a guess here that he’d produce and not star – I think he’s getting a little long in the tooth to play Huey, particularly on film. But whatever his involvement, he might have just what it takes to bring “sexy back” to movie musicals – Hockadoo! (Looks like JTims may have company: Oliver Stone reportedly is a fan of Memphis and is also interested in adapting the stage show for the screen.)
- Bus and Truck News (a.k.a., Tour Updates)
Everybody Say, “Yeah, yeah!”
Previously reported rumors have been confirmed: Fela! will launch a worldwide tour in the fall of 2011. Though no dates have been confirmed, the producers announced that the tour would definitely make some noise in Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Paris, among other cities. Visit felaonbroadway.com for up the minute tour date information.
Let the Sun Shine In [All Over]!
Official tour dates and locations for the 2010-2011 Hair tour have been announced. The tour will kick off (after a brief tech period in CT) in our nation’s capital at the Kennedy Center Opera House (which was where I first saw the NYC Ballet, back in 2006) on October 25. Other dates and locations of note: Pantages Theatre, LA, January -23, 2011; Arscht Theatre, Miami, May 30-June5, 2011; and the Broward Center, Ft. Lauderdale, June 6-9, 2011. Diane Paulus, who directed the Tony winning revival on Broadway, we direct the touring company as well.
- Last of the [Ziegfeld] Girls
Doris Eaton Travis passed away this Tuesday at the age of 106. Ms. Travis was one of the original Ziegfeld Follies stars and made regular appearances at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraisers, kicking up her heels at the recent Easter Bonnet competition this past April.
There’s a new trailer out for Inception, the summer smart-blockbuster written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The movie’s due in theatres on July 16 and I, for one, cannot wait. (Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page and Cillian Murphy also star.) Though details have been kept under wraps, the basic gist of the film, from what I can gather, is that Leo’s character steals crimes from people’s minds – that your mind can be, to quote the official description, either the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset. It sounds like such an interesting concept; Christopher Nolan is an accomplished and skilled director (of both big blockbusters, like The Dark Knight, and smaller-scale films, like Memento) and with Leo and Joseph, both arguably two of the best actors of their generation, along for the ride, this is going to be great!
- Bloody, Bloody Good News
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is being extended for a third and final time. The hit off-Broadway musical using emo-rock to tell the story of our seventh president, Andrew Jackson (minus the big block of cheese,) will now play at the Public through June 27, which is two months after the show was originally slated to end. If you’re in town, get your populist rump down to the Public immediately (you can probably score TDF tickets) and stayed tuned to Reviewing the Drama for the release date of the Bloody Bloody record.
- Award Season Update
The Theatre World Awards were presented this week. These awards honor actors making their New York stage debut, both on and off-Broadway. Some winners of note are Sahr Nqaujah, Fela!, and Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge. Visit Playbill.com for the full list of honorees.
In Tony news, the Tony committee has revoked Ragtime’s Best Costume Design nomination. They said that Santo Loquasto’s designs for the revival were too close to his original designs for the initial Broadway production, mounted nearly twelve years ago. (Loquasto earned a nomination for his work on Ragtime in 1998.) There will be no replacement so the category will have only three nominees instead of four: Fela!, Memphis and La Cage aux Folles. Tune in on June 13 to see who wins!
And don’t forget to vote for your favorites! Voting is now open for Broadway.com and Broadwayworld.com’s audience awards. If you don’t have a favorite of your own, consider casting your vote for my favorites, American Idiot and Next Fall!
- Christina Ricci to Stand Still
As was previously announced, Time Stands Still will enjoy a return Broadway engagement this fall, with ¾ of the original cast in tact. (Laura Linney, Brian d’Arcy James and Eric Bogosian.) Alicia Silverstone will not be able to reprise her role due to previous commitments but it was announced this week that another teen star who has successfully transitioned her career into adulthood will take over: Christina Ricci will make her Broadway debut with the production this fall. The play still does not have a home; yet, wherever it lands I think it will be fun to think about the fact that Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday Addams in the 90s Addams Family movies, will be only blocks (or perhaps steps) away from the stage adaptation of The Addams Family. Kind of kooky, right?
- “It Starts When We’re Kids…”
This week, the Tension Breaker blog pondered who would make good hosts were The Muppet Show to make a come back. (Someone, please make this happen! And Jason Segel, please deliver your new Muppet movie to us pronto!) They suggest that good hosts include Neil Patrick Harris and Kristen Chenoweth – I definitely agree. I think the Foo Fighters would make good guests, too. If you’ve ever watched Taylor Hawkins or Dave Grohl play the drums, then you probably couldn’t help but notice the beautiful similarities between their energies and Animal’s. Plus, Dave is a funny dude. Who do you think would make a good host/guest on The Muppet Show? Leave you answers below in the comments section.
- There’s No Such Thing as a Free Paper
Earlier this year the New York Times announced that it would start charging for access to articles on its website. This week, executive editor Bill Keller said that the charges would begin in January. I’m fine with this. Last year I wrote (on a blog I no longer maintain) that, “I read the Times, although only selected articles, online Monday through Friday. I would pay a few dollars a month for this service. I understand that in order for me to be able to read the news someone has to report it and while any chain-smoker in a mumu (a la Lemon Lyman) can post her thoughts online and call herself a journalist, respectable and credible journalists, the ones I’m inclined to read, won’t work for free. I support their work and therefore would not oppose to paying for an online subscription.” I still feel this way. What about you? Would you pay for online content from a newspaper? Some argue that this model won’t work now that most users are trained to get the content for free; I wonder if there are enough people like me – who understand the value of the content – to make this new business model viable.
- Kristin Speaks Out (and Everyone, Including Aaron Sorkin, Reacts)
The biggest match up this week was not brought to you on HBO or Pay-Per-View and it didn’t feature Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. Instead, it was brought to you by the internet and featured Kristin Chenoweth (and several other people of note) and Newsweek.
Kristin Chenoweth, the petite powerhouse currently starring in Promises, Promises on Broadway, recently spoke out against a thoroughly misguided and homophobic article in Newsweek. In the Newsweek piece, “Straight Jacket,” author Ramin Setoodeh posited that audiences don’t buy gay actors playing straight, despite straight actors playing gay without question. Setoodeh singled out Jonathan Groff (who only recently opened up about his sexuality (and is rumored to be dating Tribe leader Gavin Creel) and has played straight throughout his career, including his current stint on Glee,) and Sean Hayes, the latter of whom is currently playing straight opposite Ms. Chenoweth. Broadway.com reprinted Chenoweth’s articulate reaction to the Newsweek article and after reading it, I’m proud to count myself among her fans. My own reaction to the original article is that Setoodeh is way off the mark. He seems entirely too easily influenced by suggestion. When talking about Groff in Spring Awakening, he calls Groff a “heartthrob.” When talking about Groff in Glee, he calls him “queeny.” Here’s the thing: Groff wasn’t openly gay when he was in Spring Awakening. He simply didn’t talk about his personal life. When watching Spring Awakening, Setoodeh didn’t know Groff was gay and believed him as a straight character; when watching Glee, Setoodeh knows Groff is gay and therefore can’t believe him as a straight character. It seems to me like the problem is that Setoodeh is judgmental and gullible, not an honest, analytical, critical thinker.
Some other stage stars have spoken out, as well. Broadwayworld.com has comments from Cheyenne Jackson (who is hunky and talented – and was totally believable as a straight male romantic lead in Finian’s Rainbow) and Michael Urie. Playbill.com brought news later in the week of Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s urging that folks boycott Newsweek until an apology is made. (I might note, here, that just last week Newsweek went up for sale, as its circulation has dropped and is barely a profitable entity.) Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black also weighed in, suggesting that while the industry might have a long way to go in making the environment more welcoming to the gay community, great progress has already been made.
Setoodeh then responded to the furor, stating that Chenoweth and others missed his point: Would we accept a George Clooney-like actor as a straight leading man if we found out he was gay? I think we would. Maybe that’s just my liberal naiveté, but if we already accept Sean Penn or Tom Hanks or Jake Gyllenhaal or James Franco – all straight actors – as able to play gay in movies (like Milk, Philadelphia and Brokeback Mountain) then why not the reverse? Sean Penn wasn’t fantastic in Milk because he convinced me he was gay; he was fantastic in Milk because he saw beyond Harvey Milk’s sexuality and played his entire person – his rage, his love, his passion, his politics – everything that made him who is was. Setoodeh says that when we re-watches Roc Hudson movies now, he sees Hudson as uncomfortable in love scenes; despite his protests to the contrary, I really think it’s just Setoodeh projecting his own discomfort or prejudice or whatever it may be. I think what really riles me up about this, and particularly Setoodeh’s defense of his original comments, is that he seems to want to know if you can be gay and a Hollywood leading man. This is a valid question but instead of citing examples of progress, he chose to criticize the very people trying to pave the way.
Late in the week, my beloved Aaron Sorkin chimed in. The headline teased that he was coming to Setoodeh’s defense. I cringed a bit, because I adore Aaron Sorkin and thought, “Damn it, he’s going to write something brilliant to make me agree with Setoodeh.” Well, he did write something brilliant, as he’s wont to do, but instead of defending Setoodeh’s argument, he made a better one. He suggested that no actor can play “gay” or “straight” any more than an actor can play “Catholic” or “Jewish.” He said the problem with the audience disconnect Setoodeh meant to illuminate is the constant stream of trash spewed at us day after day by gossip mongers posing as news reporters. (Reading his diatribe against the state of the media made me ache for more Aaron Sorkin in my life – perhaps in the form of a weekly dose of Sorkin in the vein of behind-the-scenes at a news network, called The Cycle? Not that I’ve thought about this …) He went on to suggest that the real fight is to be fought with the true enemies of the GLBTQ community – those who say they should not be allowed the same basic human rights as their hetero fellow citizens. I strongly urge you to read Aaron Sorkin’s beautifully articulate response to this controversial article, and remember the last part when you vote in September and November.
By the end of the week, Setoodeh agreed to visit the set of Glee to discuss the article with creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan and to watch as the three men create a show whose sole purpose is to celebrate inclusiveness. Phew! Check back in the coming weeks to see how the Paris Peace Talks materialize.