Griftopia We’re actually going to sell the BrooklynBridge. This time, the conmen are American banks, foreign (read: largely Arab) “sovereign wealth funds” and some politicos, and we, the American people, are being duped. This is the main thesis of “America on Sale”, a rich excerpt, courtesy of Rolling Stone, from (my favorite) Matt Taibbi’s soon to be released book, Griftopia. The book will hit shelves on November 2 but RollingStone.com is offering this insightful preview now. I love reading Taibbi because he’s one of the few honest investigative journalists out there. He has a knack for uncovering all sorts of unsavory goings on in our culture – whether in politics, the economy, foreign affairs or even the NFL – and distilling and presenting it so it’s understandable, informative and, believe or not, funny. Check out the excerpt here and then pre-order your copy of Griftopia!
Bloody Bloody Bits Just two bits this week: GQ (more on then below) talks to sexypants Ben Walker, star of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. He tells GQ about working on early incarnations of Spring Awakening (with a certain Lea Michele), his rocky start in New York and his mama-in-law-to-be Meryl Streep rocking out!
And Bloody Bloody will be featured tonight on PBS’s Need to Know. Click here for a preview and then tune in tonight (or check your local listings for repeat airings) for the full interview with writer/director Alex Timbers and Ben Walker.
Glee Scoop You remember when, a month or so ago, I mentioned that Carol Burnett would be appearing on Glee? Well, her episode now has an official air date. Ms. Burnett’s episode will air on Tuesday, November 23 – just before Thanksgiving. Carol Burnett on Glee, likely engaging in a snarky tête-à-tête with Jane Lynch? Why, that’s definitely reason to give thanks!
Also, Lea Michele may be one step closer to defying gravity on the big screen. This week, Wicked’s composer Stephen Schwartz said that while the movie is still in a fledgling production stage and fans shouldn’t get too excited, he admires Michele and that “it’d be silly to say she wouldn’t be under consideration” for Elphaba. He also let slip that Wicked: The Movie would likely be in 3-D. While I’m not a huge fan of the gross appropriation of 3-D in films in which it’s totally unnecessary and just another way to jack up prices, I’d venture to say that it makes some sense here. Think about watching Elphaba literally defy gravity as she flies off the screen. Pretty cool, huh?
GleeQ! In the crazy-nonsense-of-the-week news, the Parents Television Council (really? We need this? We can’t just have parents keeping an eye on what their own children watch?) voiced objections to a Glee pictorial in the upcoming issue of GQ. Seems Cory Monteith, Lea Michele and Dianna Agron are scantly clad (well, the women are; Monteith needs to be clothed so GQ can show metrosexuals how to wear houndstooth.) and posing in rather provocative and tantalizing tableaus. Says the Council’s out of touch president, “It’s disturbing that GQ…is sexualizing actresses who play high school-aged children.” What he doesn’t understand is that the actors are not teenagers. They just play them on TV. As the E! Online report points out, Monteith is 28 and the ladies are both 24. Focus on your family, Council members, not everyone else’s. (And for what it’s worth, Lea had a breakthrough on Broadway just a few years ago when she played 14-year old Wendla in Spring Awakening, baring her breasts and simulating sex on stage. (Sounds racy but the entire scene was actually a very beautiful moment in the show.) Is it okay with the Council because she didn’t do it on television?) I’ve looked at the spread. Yes, they’re overtly sexy. And yes, these folks are successful enough and talented enough (especially Lea) that they don’t need to use the sexy gimmick to get ahead, but they’re adults and wouldn’t do something to which they felt morally opposed. Besides, playing dress up is fun. And to be honest, isn’t it kind of gratifying to have someone to want you to pose like that? (Not saying I’d be inclined do it but it’s nice to have your physicality admired.) Later in the week, Agron issued something like an apology, making sure, though, to note parents’ responsibility in controlling what their kids see. In my opinion, she should have just stressed that, and nixed the apology.
This Blog Piece Will be Presented Without an Intermission Howard Sherman, a contributor to the American Theatre Wing’s blog, recently posted about the umbrage he took after a tweeter (I think that’s what they’re called; I prefer to think of them as twits.) sang the praises of intermission-less shows (both musicals and straight plays). Sherman argued that while intermission-less shows are becoming more and more commonplace, we would be remiss to champion this practice and encourage writers to strive for it. Instead, he argues (and I wholeheartedly agree) that writers should write until the story is finished. If this means Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is 95 minutes with no intermission, fine. If it means The Norman Conquests is six-plus hours, with intermissions and meal breaks, fine. (I, along with Blythe Danner and Richard Kind, marathoned it with The Norman Conquests the day before the Tonys last year and had the most wonderful, laugh-filled time.) Playwrights and composers and librettists and lyricists and artists of any stripe should not feel constrained to make their art fit someone else’s box. Instead, they should write what is honest, and their pieces should last as long as they need to. Kudos to Sherman for so eloquently making this point.
Side by Side by Susan Blackwell The tart-tongued talent is back, dear readers! This time, she’s taken her microphone and video camera to the Broadway Flea Market, a one day event during which shows (Broadway and off) stars (and some semi-stars) and more come out to auction off and sell, well, everything. Shows offer set pieces, stars offer autographs and guilds offer tons of resources and relics. Watch as Susan dishes with Kyle Dean Massey (our favorite Goodman family member), stage and screen vet Patrick Wilson, the hilarious Julie White, Memphis’s leading lady, Montego Glover and others about the swag they’re selling…and their underwear.
Casting News (and Lots of It!) Several weeks ago a cast was announced for the film adaptation of the Tony winning Yasmina Reza play God of Carnage. You’ll remember that, originally, it was to star Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and Matt Dillon. This week, Deadline.com reported that Dillon has been replaced by everyman John C. Reilly. (Theatre fans may remember him as Amos Hart in the film version of Chicago. Comedy fans may remember him as Will Ferrell’s sidekick in just about everything else.) Also, with this update came with clarification as to who is actually play who. Foster and Reilly will portray Veronica and Michael (Marcia Gay Harden and James Gandolfini on stage) and Winslet and Waltz will portray Annette and Alan (Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels on stage). Filming will begin in February.
In other casting news, Deadline.com is also reporting that film and sometimes stage director Baz Luhrmann workshopped a film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, with none other than Leonardo DiCaprio in the titular role. (For a stage adaptation – or rather, recitation – go see Gatz at The Public. It’s six hours of actors reading the novel – and supposedly it’s fantastic.) Also in the workshop were Tobey Maguire, reading Nick, and Rebecca Hall, reading Daisy. While I’m not an outright Luhrmann fan (I loathed Moulin Rouge) I did really enjoy Luhrmann and DiCaprio’s previous collaboration in the 90s, Romeo + Juliet.
Theatrical casting news: Philip Seymour Hoffman will tread the boards next fall (ah, Next Fall. What a beautiful play. But I digress…) as Willy Loman in a Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman. The revival will be directed by the reliable Mike Nichols. Salesman doesn’t have a home yet or an official open date, so stay tuned for details.
The full touring cast for Next to Normal has been announced. Joining Alice Ripley (who will reprise her Tony winning performance as Diana) will be Asa Somers as husband Dan (I saw Somers play the doctor when the show was at Second Stage and thought he was weak. Maybe he’s gotten better?); Emma Hunton as Natalie (she was in the replacement cast of Spring Awakening); Curt Hansen as Gabe; Preston K. Sadleir as Henry; and Jeremy Kushnier as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine (I love listening to Kushnier on my Footloose cast recording and he was the best Roger I ever saw, aside from Adam Pascal. I think he’d make a better Dan than Somers). The tour kicks off in LA this November and will make stops throughout North American through early next summer.
Chris Rocks Broadway! Comedian Chris Rock will make his Broadway debut this spring in a new play, co-produced by the Public Theatre, Motherf**ker with the Hat. The play is set to begin previews on March 22 in anticipation of an April 11 opening at the Schoenfeld theatre. In …Hat, Bobby Cannavale (Trust, Sex and the City (on TV)) will play a recovering addict and Rock will play his sponsor. Tickets are not on sale yet but they are sure to sell quickly as fans flock to catch one of America’s favorite bullshit artists stand-up philosophers comedians on stage.
Additional casting has been announced for the HBO film Too Big to Fail, an adaptation of the Andrew Ross Sorkin book. (You just know he uses “Ross” so we doesn’t get calls from folks thinking they’re talking to the brilliant Aaron Sorkin, only to find out they’re talking to an economist!) Joining the previously announced Billy Crudup will be stage and screen vets Bill Pullman and Matthew Modine. (Also on board are William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, Ed Asner and Cynthia Nixon, among others.) The film is set to begin production this month; look for it to earn myriad Emmy nominations next year.
Robin Williams will be returning to Broadway, this time in a play, not just a one-man show, that brings with it some dramatic heft. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, written by Rajiv Joseph and a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist (you’ll remember that Next to Normal took home the top honor!), will begin previews on Broadway (its exact home is still to be determined) on March 10 in anticipation of a March 31 opening, and will be directed by Moises Kaufman (The Laramie Project).
Making Ignorance Chic Maureen Dowd’s column this Wednesday probed the unfortunate and growing trend of beauties (or beasts, depending upon how you view them) flaunting their ignorance, casting off intellect as suspect. I agree with Maureen that this practice is abhorrent. (And while we’re on the subject, what I love about Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (the movie, not that horrible stage production) is that she didn’t have to choose between being pretty, fun and feminine or studious, ambitious and successful. Elle’s a modern woman who can be both without compromising either. Snaps for Elle!)
In This White House POTUS and FLOTUS have opened wide the gates and doors to the White House and welcomed in a slew of musicians, dancers and other artists as part of the In Performance at the White House series. This summer, several Broadway talents, including Idina Menzel, Brian d’Arcy James, Chad Kimball and Audra McDonald, headed down to DC to perform for the First Family and invited guests. That performance aired this week on PBS. Below is a sneak peek behind the scenes and here is video of Ms. Menzel, accompanied by none other than Marvin Hamlisch, singing “What I Did for Love.”
Faith in Esparza Dear readers, you know how much I admire Raul Esparza. It should come as no surprise to you, then, that I was fully rapt by this week’s LA Times profile of the stage star. Currently closing the west coast premiere of Leap of Faith (download a sample audio track), a stage musical adaptation of the eponymous film, Esparza expresses hope that the musical will make its way to Broadway – soon. I hope so, too, as I would just jump at another chance to catch this incredibly talented performer on stage. Come back to New York, Raul!
It Gets Better Dear readers, by now you are probably aware of the unfortunate glut of teen suicides carried out by gay kids who were incessantly bullied by narrow minded peers. You may also be aware of The Trevor Project and the lovely outpouring of celebrity and laymen videos making the rounds on the internet emphatically stating that it gets better, urging young people to hang on, to not give up hope. Tons of theatre folks, musicians, TV and movie stars and journalists have made videos. This week, President Obama released an It Gets Better video. I applaud him for publicly speaking out about this but I’m a little discouraged that his words don’t quite jive with his actions. In his video, he says that young people need to know that the rest of their lives are “full of possibilities” and that adults need to “set an example” of appropriate behavior. POTUS, please set an example, yourself, by not appealing the recent court decision deeming Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional (thereby all but repealing the discriminatory law) and by repealing the ridiculously name Defense of Marriage Act, thereby, essentially, granting marriage equality on a federal level. In the immortal words of The Doors, “The time to hesitate is through.” Equality now!
Play Ball (and Sing)! As the Yankees tried to get one step closer to a pennant on Tuesday, (they lost, but won their elimination game on Wednesday, keeping them alive ‘til at least tonight) stage and screen vet (and all-around good guy and total hunk) Patrick Wilson was on hand to sing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch in the Bronx. All I can say is, Patrick, please come back to Broadway! He was incredibly impressive a few seasons ago in All My Sons and after hearing him sing like this, I say he’d make a terrific Billy in Anything Goes, alongside Sutton Foster (Reno) and Joel Grey (Moonface), and opposite my hopeful choice for Hope, Kate Baldwin. Are you listening, Roundabout?!?
West Wingers Reunite! For the current Reunion Issue of EW magazine, many of The West Wing’s original cast came together for a photo shoot and to reminisce about the amazing experience of working on the terrific (Aaron Sorkin-penned, for four seasons) show. Present were Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg – my hero!), Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman), Elisabeth Moss (Zooey Bartlet), Martin Sheen (POTUS), Stockard Channing (FLOTUS), Dule Hill (Charlie Young), Janel Maloney (Donnatella Moss) and Kathryn Joosten (Mrs. Landigham). EW reports that Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler) and Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn) were unavailable. Check out the issue now on newsstands and click here for behind-the-photo-shoot video.
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