By Emily Schmitt and Steve Rosenthal
In early October, the Broadway League announced yet another extension to the ongoing shutdown of New York City theaters. In a move unimaginable in the pre-COVID era, the League promised that Broadway would remain dark until at least the end of May 2021, leaving thousands of theater artists out of work and the theatrical capital of the United States bereft of its signature art form. Theater, including at the highest levels, has always operated on a slim financial margin, with four out of five Broadway shows failing to break even under normal circumstances. The prospect of opening theaters at a limited capacity, even if it could be done safely, is simply unfeasible barring extensive government support.
Widespread theatrical closings have lead many theater artists to explore new mediums. Plays are being reimagined for digital consumption, either as web-series, TV pilots, or the still unrefined medium of the “Zoom Play.” Of course, adaption is nothing new in the theatrical world. Great stories have always migrated from platform to platform in search of new audiences and new interpretations. By examining how this process has taken place in the past, we can learn more about how it can be accomplished today.
History Into Theater is an online database of historical fiction dramas coupled with educational materials designed as a tool for studying history through a theatrical lens. We’re also delving into the history of adaptation, and process through which stories have evolved throughout time. One such tale is A Man For All Seasons, by Robert Oxton Bolt.
A Man for All Seasons was originally conceived as a BBC radio drama. First airing in 1954, the script was based on historical events that led up to the beheading of Sir Thomas More, the 16th century Chancellor of England. He is portrayed as a man of the people, beloved by his family and envied by the shadowy Oliver Cromwell. His crime was to refuse to endorse the divorce desired by King Henry VIII from his wife, Catherine of Aaragon. Her offense to the Regent was her inability to bear him a son. He wanted to marry the sister of his former mistress, Ann Boleyn. Although the story featured well-known historical figures and events, the characterizations were powerful. Bolt managed to pull complex, human portraits from the historical cannon. And, although he lived centuries before, Thomas More’s moral rigor despite personal struggle resonated deeply with the 1950’s audience.
In 1957, a live one-hour version was adapted for BBC television. It starred Bernard Hepton. The piece was adapted again for the stage and opened at the Globe Theatre (Now the Gielgud) on July 1, 1960. It starred Paul Scofield as More and had a successful run. Scofield would reprise the role on Broadway, opening on November 22, 1961 after just one preview. The production would go on to win a Tony and run for 631 performances.
The most famous iteration, however, is the 1968 film. Adapted for the screen by Bolt, it would again star Scofield as More. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann, who would also helm classics such as High Noon. The film also starred Orson Welles and Leo McKern. On Oscar night, it would take home best picture, screenplay, director and best actor. Finally, in 1988, the tale was done as a television movie starring Charlton Heston and Vanessa Redgrave.
In every version of the story, audiences looked for hope and a narrative of moral certitude in increasingly complex times. From the rigid 1950’s through the turbulent 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, the tale developed new meaning. Today, it remains a beloved classic.
Check out historyintotheater.com for a unique way to experience history and performance.
The Glorious Corner
STRIKE END LOOMS — (Via Showbiz 411/Roger Friedman) All the studio chiefs met Wedneday with the Writers Guild and will continue negotiating tomorrow, according to a WGA post.
The sudden seriousness of the studios is welcomed as the deadline looms for the 2023-24 TV season. If the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes aren’t resolved by early October, my sources say it will be impossible to put on a season.
Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Disney’s Bob Iger, Universal’s Donna Langley and Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav were present today for the negotiations, a sure sign that the studios are finally in panic mode.
There are no daytime or nighttime talk shows, no new material on TV, and actors can’t promote the fall and winter movies. The actors have already missed the Telluride, Venice, and Toronto Film Festivals. Now the New York Film Festival looms, as does the premiere of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
The so-called Fall TV Season has been decimated; the Emmy’s pushed back and just general chaos everywhere. The severity of the strike -142 days in- has hurt almost-every-single below-the-line sector, from caterers to limo drivers to costume houses. It’s reported that it will take up to 10-12 weeks to fully resume everything. That means early-November and let’s not forget come Thanksgiving, the holiday season officially starts. Stay tuned.
LOVE, BURT AT THE CUTTING ROOM — Monday night at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room was the presentation of Love, Burt – celebrating the majesty and memory of Burt Bacharach’s music.
The show really moved me and reminded me of the reason I do what … the music!
The show was just sumptuous – with the assembled group -led by Mike Visceglia- honoring and doing proper justice to a host of Bacharach songs – everything from “Baby, It’s You” to “One Less Bell To Answer,” The Look Of Love” and “Alfie” were all dutifully done. Especially poignant was their rendition of “A House Is Not A Home.”
The fact of the matter is that when these songs were recorded, they were embedded into everyone’s consciousness. These versions were good, but the originals remain standout. You hear a lot about the Great American Songbook, but these songs are the “new” Great American Songbook. Just luscious.
They ended the show was one of my favorite-Bacharach songs, from the 1988 album Burt recorded with Elvis Costello, Painted From Memory. One of the album’s strongest cuts is “God Give Me Strength.” It was simply sensational. Spotted there were Benny Harrison and Maria Milito from Q1043.
The room was packed like never before; what a night!
SHORT TAKES — Micky Dolenz headlines the ACE Theatre Friday night in LA, and was a guest on KTLA Wednesday. Here’s a shot of him on-set with Sam Rubin who interviewed him with the KTLA-gang. Sam’s the second from left. Industry stalwarts at the ACE Theatre show include legendary-LA Times writer Randy Lewis; LA Magazine’sRoy Trakin and Goldmine’s Ken Sharp … Roger Friedman reported Wednesday that the pre-sales of Jann Wenner’s upcoming book Masters have been severely impacted by his New York Times interview. Take a read here: https://www.showbiz411.com/2023/09/20/jann-wenners-new-book-the-masters-drops-in-pre-sales-run-on-amazon-almost-off-the-top-2000-after-scandal-erupts And just last night his big presentation at NYC’s 92nd Y with Cameron Crowe was shuttered as well … SIGHTING: Alison Martino at NYC’s Algonquin Hotel …
When Apple TV’s The Morning Show debuted years ago (November 2019), created and run by Kerry Ehrin, it was a first-rate series certainly of The Sopranos-like and Mad Men-like caliber. Billy Crudup was astonishingly good as were Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. The second season was basically trash. Three episodes in on a third season -with a 4th already guaranteed- it’s kind of a mixed-bag. I did not care for the first two EPs, but the third was bordering on the edge of greatness – and Witherspoon wasn’t even in this one and there was no explanation why. Jon Hamm has joined the cast as sort of an Elon Musk-figure. To me, he’s still Don Draper, just with an updated wardrobe. Most of the production staff has been replaced and it seemed to me, they’re still finding their way. The trouble is, that with these 8 or so episode-runs, it gets really good at episode 6. Go figure …
Rupert Murdoch to retire per CNBC? More on this next column … Meg Ryan and David Duchovny in What Happens Later – looks cute and Ryan directed it – check out the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqTZqSglhZo … RIP Roger Whitaker
and Happy Bday David McCallum; Curtis Urbina; and Bill Murray!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Glenn Gretlund; Jodi Ritzen; Leonard Nimoy; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Scott Shannon; Zach Martin; Michelle Grant; Art Rutter; Maria Milito; Joe Lynch; Melinda Newman; Mandy Naylor; Kimberly Cornell; Sam Rudin; Jim Clash; Terry Jastrow; Randy Alexander; Bob Merlis; Andrew Sandoval; Art Rutter; and CHIP!
The Glorious Corner
WENNER TAKES A DOWN —Jann Wenner always speaks his mind and this week he may have overstepped just a bit. In an interview that ran in the New York Times about his new book called Masters, he quite openly said that there were no black or R&B artists in it, because they were not able to articulate properly. I know, I felt the same way reading that. Minutes later, he was let go by the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he helped start with Ahmet Ertegun way back in 1983.
His Like A Rolling Stone autobiography book was quite an indulgent read last year, but Wenner has in the last several years suffered several health set backs and it was pointed out that he may not be in his right mind. Still, he should have spoken way more carefully. I’ve known Wenner for decades and trust me, he feels he’s way entitled, and that said, you can rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of people (and former employees) waiting to take him down.
The sad fact is that most of the accusations are true. That said, let’s face it Rolling Stone magazine in it’s heyday was a miraculous outlet for so much music and terrific journalism – from Ben Fong-Torres to Hunter Thompson and Jann himself .. it was distinguished. Now, he may have killed it all.
Rolling Stine magazine Monday posted this – essentially disowning his from the magazine: “Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world. At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”
Here’s the report from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2023/09/jann-wenner-removed-rock-and-roll-hall-fame-foundation-board-1235548690/comment-page-1/#comment-3858649
DREW’S BLUES — Boy, what did Drew Barrymore ever do to deserve the treatment she’s been through with the media. Sure, her ideas to bring back her daily-chat fest was a good one, for the right reasons, but everyone from Rosie O;’Donnell to the trade papers have bounced on her like madmen. I never met her, don’t hate her, but really … let’s get back to something real, like these Russell Brand-accusations!
SHORT TAKES — We finally caught David Bryne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love and absolutely loved it. I remember it well when it premiered at the Public Theater way back when and knew they were trying to get it to Broadway. Honestly, I never thought twice about the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos story, but the play was riveting then and it remains now. They’ve outfitted NYC’s magnificent Broadway Theater with disco-balls galore and club-lighting and the immersive experience is terrific. Here’s a great re-cap of the play’s evolution from Theatre Guide: https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/theatre-news/news/how-the-music-of-here-lies-love-evolved-on-the-way-to-broadway …
Micky Dolenz appeared on Sunday’s Breakfast With The Beatles with Chris Carter (on KLOS) and talked about his new Dolenz Sings R.E.M. on Glenn Gretlund’s 7a Records. He also talked about his time with The Beatles and John Lennon. Carter also played a mash-up of Monkees and Beatle-songs which was done in England and it was superb. Here’s a shot from the event at LA’s Hard Rock Cafe on Highland and Hollywood Blvd. … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Benny Harrison at Monday’s Cutting Room tribute to Burt Bacharach … RIP Sammy Ash …
I’ve been thinking the best way to describe Jimmy Buffet and I saw this headline in LA Magazine: leisure evangelist– and it fits perfectly …
Happy Bday Donnie Kehr and Richard Branciforte.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash: Robbie Robertson; Carol Ruth Weber; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Andrew Gans; Kathy Brown; Roger Clark; Chris Boneau; Tricia Daniels; Dan Zelinski; Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Gil Friesen; Donna Dolenz; Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash; and ZIGGY!
The Glorious Corner
STRIKE UPDATE— (Via TV Line) “9-1-1, what’s your TV emergency?” The dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes need to be resolved by the end of this month if scripted primetime fare such as 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady are to return with new episodes in the 2023-24 TV season, says Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn.
When last we tuned in, 29 days ago, the WGA had countered the AMPTP’s latest offer; no next meeting has been scheduled. Things are proceeding even slower on the SAG-AFTRA front. Sources tell TVLine that it will take scripted shows roughly eight weeks to get back into production once the strikes are resolved.
“You’re going get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.
If the strikes are resolved later than October 1, that’s where difficult scheduling decisions will have to be made.
“If that means the [delayed scripted] show could work and succeed in the summer [of 2024], great,” Thorn said. Or, “If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports” to promote/launch scripted seasons, “we’ll do that.
“You could use October 1 as the date” by which the writer and actor strikes need to be settled,” Thorn added. “Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder, ‘Is that the best time?’” to premiere a season/series
Fox’s fall TV slate features one full night of scripted animated fare (on Sundays), while the rest of the week is rife with multiple Gordon Ramsay cooking competitions, new seasons of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, Name That Tune and The Masked Singer, 9-1-1: Lone Star reruns, the new, David Spade-hosted Snake Oil game show, and, of course, Friday Night SmackDown.
But whenever the magical day comes for live-action scripted fare to return to our screens, “we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” Thorn avowed. “We really pride ourselves on ‘less is more’ and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”
Several columns back we posited that the strike might just be settled by Labor Day .. and we were lambasted with emails from a scattering of actors, writers and below-the-line talent that it would not be. They were right. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Is it? Let’s all make nice and good back to work.
SHORT TAKES — As you may know the Toronto Film Festival has been going on and the two films that have received the most buzz are the Paul-Simon/Alex Gibey doc,
In Restless Dreams and Knox Goes Away starring Michael Keaton, who also directs, with Al Pacino, can’t wait to see both. Bravo! …The latest episode of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building was just OK. So far, this third season has totally underwhelmed us. We said a few columns back it was most likely due to the fact that Martin hasn’t written any of the episodes so far. Why? I have no idea. Matthew Broderick played himself, but with a little more anxiety than usual, but the real highlight of this episode was a video-phone call between Martin Short and Mel Brooks. Irresistibly funny … Hard to believe that it’s the 25th anniversary of MTV’s ground-breaking TRL Live (Total Request Live).
Carson Daly did a nice remembrance on Thursday’s Today Show, even citing John Norris and Kurt Loder, who were key correspondents. They taped many of the shows at NYC’s long-gone Palladium (now an NYU dorm), but many, many memories come to mind; Hall & Oates rehearsing in their dressing room
and running into Debbie Gibson is one. Daly pointed out -and rightly so- TRL was a fan-driven show, where viewers had to request what to hear. These days I guess it’s just a download. Much missed for sure …
Funny watching Carrie Underwood this morning; as she she reminded me so much of Shania Twain. from the music, to her visuals. As always, her “Before He Cheats” is tremendous and a big crowd pleaser … It’s a funny world for sure.
When RL Stine’s Goosebumpsfirst debuted in 1992, it was heralded as refreshingly new, both for the kid-demo and its brilliance. There were a few attempts at a series (even with Stine introducing them) and even a movie in 2015 that did just so-so. Now, with Netflix’s Stranger Things having hit a home run, Disney+ is starting a series, with Justin Long, that appears to veer dangerously close to Stranger Things. Also, oddly enough, Stine does not appear to be involved with it. He says: “I wish I knew something about it. I’m not in the loop. It looked to me like they weren’t going to do an anthology show. They were going to do something different that was some kind of continuing story. That’s what it appeared. But I have no information about it.” It begins on October 31. Have a look at the trailer:
Great Bernie Taupin interview on NY Live with Sara Gore. They’re friends, so the interview as sensational. Check it out:
NAMES IN THE NEWS —Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Alison Martino; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Jane Blunkell; Roger Friedman; Felix Cavaliere; Dan Mapp; Jim Kerr; Sam Rubin; Liz White; Grace Mendoza; Roy Trakin; and ZIGGY!
Cynthia Bailey is September Cover Star of ‘Mr Warburton Magazine’
Actress and TV personality Cynthia Bailey is the September cover star of the relaunch of Mr Warburton Magazine.
The inspiration for the shoot was 1975 film Mahogany starring Diana Ross. We took over a street in DTLA and created a set.
“I wanted to show Cynthia in a different way. No wigs, just character,” says EIC Derek Warburton. “I have been friends with Cynthia half of my life and this is the first time she has posed for one of my magazines. I feel the world has a specific view of her but I see so much more. She is a chameleon & at 56 years old Hollywood isn’t gonna know what hit them when she gets the right role.”
Be sure to check out the new double cover issue HERE.
Santino Fontana Brings Voice, Comedy and Showmanship To 54 Below
Tony Award® winner Santino Fontana brings his tremendous talent to 54 Below and it is a show that wraps you up in his humor, charm, vocal prowess, laid back demeanor, jeopardy style musical choices and over all entertaining. By the end of the show you feel as if you know him or at least a part of him. Starting off with Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’s “Stick Around,” the night turned into a Russian roulette of material. The audience picked numbers and as Santino put it “if you don’t like the show, it’s your fault.” First up for my show was the naughty but amusing “Making Love Alone” followed by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella‘s “Do I Love You,” which made for an amusing combination of songs. During Cinderella Mr. Fontana had shoes that were built up 2 inches inside and 2 inches outside, which cause a tremendous amount of pain, so the song told the story of his plight, which made the song take on a much different meaning. Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle,” was sung for a Carol Burnett tribute, that luckily we were treated to.
His guest for the evening was Sarah Steele (“The Good Wife,” The Humans, The Country House) who sang “out There On My Own” from Fame. On the 14th it will be Greg Hildreth (Company, Disney’s Frozen, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella). Click on the name and you can hear that version.
Showing off his baritone side with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “If I Loved You.” We almost got to see Santino in Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields”s Sweet Charity, instead we got hint of what that would be like with “Too Many Tomorrows.” A hilarious version of “I feel Pretty” from West Side Story lightened the mood and had the room in tears. Recreating his duet “Love Is An Open Door” from Frozen, Santino channeled Dorothy Michaels from Tootsie. Again the room was laughing with the sheer comedic genius that won Mr. Fontana a Tony Award. Bringing the energy to a calmer state was the emotional Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “Who Can I Turn To?”
Vocally the most impressive song of the night was “Joey, Joey, Joey” from Most Happy Fellow. Mr. Fontana’s voice was glorious in the tones and the subtle texturing. Keeping in the ballad mode and honoring Marilyn Bergman he launched into the iconic “Where Do You Start,”while accompany himself on the piano, which was highly impressive. Back to the uptempo mode “I Met A Girl” from Bells Are Ringing, was given a rigorous, amusing take. This was his original audition song. Lerner and Loewe’s “How to Handle a Woman,” from the recent Camelot, showed how Santino would have made an excellent King Arthur.
Another favorite moment of the night was “Buddy’s Blues” from Follies. Already a personal favorite, this made me want to see Santino play this role at a later date, though personally I would cast him as Ben.
For the finale songs “The Music In You” from Cinderella, told how he and the cast loved watching the magnificent Victoria Clark perform. “This Can’t Be Love” from 1938 Rodgers and Hart musical The Boys from Syracuse, ended up in an encore, of Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones’s “They Were You” from The Fantasticks, which made my guest producer Pat Addiss extremely happy.
Santino was backed by his musical director and accompanist Cody Owen Stine, who played flawlessly.
Santino Fontana opened September 10th at 54 Below and you can still catch this marvelous show tonight September 14th. 54below.com
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