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It’s that time again: end of the month, and end of this phase of awards season. So the Oscars, Razzies and Indie Spirit Awards consume the cinematic consciousness — all dovetailing into this weekend.

Well, let me make this howling-in-the-wind statement as a voice against all those seemingly proper film crits and conventional cognoscenti. Enough with Damien Chazelle’s “LaLa Land”… It ain’t that good a film, let alone that great a musical. Okay, so the darn song “City of Stars” does sticks in my head — and frankly does deserve a win — but dammit, actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone didn’t rock my world, and just weren’t that great as either dancers or singers. As the end-all and be-all of films this year, it’s a sad statement for this one to get all those accolades. It’s a nice film with a treacley storyline saved only by its ending, but “LaLa Land” does more damage than good as the perfect anesthetic in the age of Trump, a conservatively-styled film that does what it does safely. So very vanilla.

More importantly, it didn’t make me feel any sorrow for these silly white people as they have their faux drama about trying to make their art “authentically” — especially when it comes to Gosling’s character as true jazz’s savior versus John Legend’s pop music, C’mon. There was nothing authentic about this and their paucity of singing and dancing skills made the inauthenticity even more telling…

Having now dismissed that one film getting all the attention — with its inevitable dominance over the Oscar process this year — let’s move onto films that do matter. Cross-referencing Indie Spirit with Oscars, the crosshairs are focused on several other deserving films.

Take for example “Moonlight.” As ghetto gangs get demonized ever more by Trumpian tirades, this film humanizes and, even more, details the depth of the complex, emotional lives of the inhabitants of one such ghettoized housing project in Miami, Florida. Telling it through a tryptich of young Chiron’s coming of age — as both a gang survivor and gay man on the down low — Barry Jenkins’s film of the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay as well.

“Moonlight” is likely to be the Indie Spirit Awards’ big winner this Saturday, and possibly will pull in wins at the Oscars because Mahershala Ali is widely expected to take home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar on Sunday. Its cast is to be feted with Indie Spirit’s Robert Altman Award, and is expected to take Best Director (for Jenkins) as well as cinematography and editing. How well it will do Oscar-wise is more of a crap shot.

“Moonlight” leads the pack there, but within the Academy’s Best Picture category “LaLa Land” is favored and “Manchester by The Sea” — director Kenneth Lonergan’s emotionally wrenching tale  — offers strong competition. The rest of the Best Picture candidates all merit note — “Hidden Figures”, “Fences”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Hell or High Water”, “Lion”, and “Deadpool”  — the last, a whacked-out comic-book flick that deconstructs its own genre.

Yet other faves — “Arrival” (for its smart sci-fi) , “Jackie” (for deconstructing the bio-pic), counter-cultural-ish “Captain Fantastic” and cowboy/cop-fied “Hell or High Water” — are likely not to garner most of the above-the-line Oscar nods. Best Director is “La La Land”’s Chazelle’s to lose; though the directorial win could/should go to others like Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”), Jenkins (“Moonlight”) or Lonergan (“Manchester . . .”). More likely, “Arrival”’s Denis Villeneuve will win a bunch of tech awards.

On the Best Actress front no one did as remarkable a job as Natalie Portman for “Jackie.”  Still, an upset might come from any of these deserving actresses: Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”); Amy Adams (“Arrival”) or Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures”).

I had hoped Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic”) or Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”) would grab Best Actor, but certainly previous winner Denzel Washington (“Fences”) is just as deserving. It’s likely to go to Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) or Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”) instead.

Of the other two biggies — Best Supporting Actress and Actor — they are all so deserving. Viola Davis (“Fences”), Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Nicole Kidman (“Lion”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) have all become proven talents beyond question — and all except Harris are previous winners.

The same goes for Best Supporting Actor. It includes top flight choices: the aformentioned favorite Ali; but Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”), Hugh Grant (“Florence Foster Jenkins”), Kevin Costner (“Hidden Figures”) and Issei Ogata (“Silence”) are meritorious in their roles.

It’s in their far less appreciated categories — Best Animated Feature, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary Feature — where the nominations stagger between expected Hollywood fare and the truly unique.

The Best Animated Feature will most like be tapped out of these three — “Zootopia”, “Moana” and “Finding Dory” — but the other two, “Kubo” and the Two Strings” and “The Red Turtle” are the real winners for style and innovation. Best Foreign Language Film is full of fine films: “Toni Erdmann”, “The Salesman”, “A Man Called Ove”; but L”and of Mine” and “My Life as a Zucchini” tell life-changing tales.

What’s incredible about the doc picks is that three of them — “O.J.: Made in America”, “13th” and “I Am Not Your Negro” — are profound political indictments of how mainstream America has treated its people of color; “Weiner” is an indictment of celebrity culture and politics; only “Gleason” is a purely life affirming film.

And then there’s the intoxicating “Deadpool” which sadly didn’t grab significant noms in the big acting categories but should grab a tech award or two.

So this proves that people out there are looking at screens either in the theaters or in their hands, and that most of this year’s award choices offer some truly interesting and satisfying stuff.

Now this isn’t always for wins; for many of these films, just to make it as far as they did onto the vaunted nomination lists may be enough. Except for The Razzies that is.

The Affleck brothers are on either end of the spectrum with older bro Ben handing off accolades the his younger sib Casey while he has recieved heaps of scorn for both the Razziefied Batman V Superman as well as The Accountant and the gangster driven Live By Night.

But enough of the Razzies — on to the awards.

Broadway

League of Professional Theatre Women Invite the Public to Oral History Interview Of Broadway Playwright Theresa Rebeck

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Stage, film, television and novel writer Theresa Rebeck will be interviewed about her long and brilliant career at 6p.m., Monday, June 3, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street), New York.
This event, which is FREE and open to the public, is part of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) Oral History Project in partnership with the Library and is a highlight of LPTW’s 41st season.
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced writer for stage, film, television and novels, whose work can be seen and read throughout the United States and internationally. With five plays produced on Broadway, Rebeck is the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time.
Rebeck’s Broadway credits include I Need That (starring Danny DeVito), Bernhardt/Hamlet (starring Janet McTeer), Dead Accounts (starring Norbert Leo Butz); Seminar (starring Alan Rickman); Mauritius (starring F. Murray Abraham). Other New York productions of her work include Dig (Outer Critic’s Circle nomination), Seared (starring Raul Esparza, DramaLeague Award) at MCC Theater, Downstairs (starring Tim Daly and Tyne Daly); The Scene (starring Tony Shalhoub), The Water’s Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels at Second Stage; Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection and Our House at Playwrights Horizons; The Understudy at Roundabout Theatre Company; and View of the Dome at New York Theatre Workshop. Other notable plays include Poor Behavior, What We’re Up Against, and Omnium Gatherum (co-written), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013.
As an author, Rebeck has written three novels: Three Girls and Their Brother (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2008), Twelve Rooms with A View (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2010) and I’m Glad About You (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016), along with Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business.
Rebeck made her NYC Directorial debut with Rob Ackerman’s play Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson at The Working Theatre and directed the World Premiere of her new play Dig at Primary Stages in NY and Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. Her new podcast play, “Nightwatch” (starring Norbert Leo Butz), was released in 2023.
In television, Rebeck created the NBC showbiz drama “Smash,” and has written for “Canterbury’s Law,” “LA Law,” NYPD Blue,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Dream On,” Brooklyn Bridge,” and many more.
Her produced feature films include the big-budget all-female spy thriller 355 (co-written with Simon Kinberg for Jessica Chastain’s production company); Trouble (writer/director), starring Angelica Huston and Bill Pullman; Harriet the Spy; Gossip and the independent features Sunday on the Rocks and Seducing Charlie Barker, an adaptation of her play, The Scene.
Theresa lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jess Lynn.
To attend this event, please RSVP HERE.
To view past oral history interviews, visit the Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, or visit the LPTW’s archive.
Women working in the theatre industry are eligible to join LPTW.  For more information on upcoming events and to join LPTW, visit: www.theatrewomen.org.
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Broadway

Chita Rivera Awards Part 2 The Interviews

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T2C was at the 2024 Chita Rivera Awards at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. We got to interview some of the best in dance and look forward to sharing this with you.

On this video watch Michael-Demby Cain, Joe Lanteri, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Allen, Justin Peck, Norm Lewis, Rick and Jeff Kuperman, Chita’s daughter Lisa Mordente, Kenny Ortega, Serge Trujillo,  winners for Water For Elephants Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, winner Camille A Brown Hell’s Kitchen, Marina Tamayo, Lorin Latarro, David Petersen, Bruce Robert Harris, Ali Louis Bourzgui, Huey Lewis, Phil LaDuca, Riki Kane Larimer, Grant Plotkin and highlights from the show with Ali Louis Bourgzgui, Kristin ZChenoweth, Norm Lewis, Wayne Brady and more.

This was one spectacular night.

Video by Magda Katz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

TRUMPED AT CANNES — What with Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis and Kevin Costner’s Horizon garnering most of the pre-Cannes ink, it turns out that The Apprentice; the so-called rise of Donald Trump, has become to must-see attraction there.

Starring Sebastian Stan

Sebastian Stan

and Jeremy Strong -as Roy Cohn-  its received the most attention after its screening this week. Check out this up-to-date spot from The Hollywood Reporter:


The Trump camp has threatened a lawsuit over a somewhat graphic scene between Trump and Ivana in the movie. The filmmaker Ali Abbasi has said that while the lawsuits may fly fast and furious from the Trump-camp, their success rate should be re-examined. A pretty savvy response if you ask me.

MORE TREK — (Via Deadline) Oscar winner  Holly Hunter has been tapped to star in Paramount+’s upcoming series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. Hunter will play the captain and chancellor of Starfleet Academy in the series which will begin production later this summer.

Produced by CBS Studios, the series will follow the adventures of a new class of Starfleet cadets as they come of age in one of the most legendary places in the galaxy.

Per the logline: Star Trek: Starfleet Academy introduces viewers to a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.

As a Treker-from the 60’s, where the hell is the next proper Star Trek-movie with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto? They both were fantastic in my mind. Into Darkness was sensational? Weird for sure.

Michael Jackson and Ron Alexenburg

SHORT TAKES — Record-industry icon Ron Alexenburg is penning his autobiography to be called From The Warehouse To The Penthouse. Alexenburg, when he ran Epic Records, worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Meat Loaf, Boston, The Beach Boys, and Charlie Daniels. Here’s a great interview with him:

Oddly, he doesn’t mention his Infinity Records opus, where I worked with him. The opening night party for the label was at the NY Public Library in NYC. It was an awesome event …

Speaking of books, Dave Mason’s Only You Know and I Know is finally out after a massive delay. I saw a video of him opening the first box. Apparently it is only available through his website. Good luck Dave …

We haven’t seen Kevin Costner’s Horizon yet, but a report from Roger Friedman (Showbiz 411), claims Costner doesn’t even appear in the movie for the first hour. Really? …

Christopher Reeve

Great Hamptons Film Festival exclusive by Roger Friedman. Check it out: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/05/21/hot-ticket-christopher-reeve-super-man-film-to-get-early-look-hamptons-screening-before-release-at-summerdocs … And, great spot on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on the new book from Michael McDonald with Paul Reiser (What A Fool Believes/DEY Street):

RIP Fred Roos.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Riley Keough; Edwyn Collins; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Tony Seidel; Jason Cooper; Bob Krasnow; Les Schwartz; Pete Sanders; Jeremy Long; Peter Shendell; Randy Alexander; Carson Daly; Pete Best; Cory Robbins; Bill Adler; Roy Trakin; Mark Bego; Nancy Ruth; Teresa Knox; Kent and Laura Denmark; and BELLA!

Images on this page have been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

RASCALS AT SONY HALL — The Rascals long-awaited return to NYC proved to be a sensational evening of music. Their 16-song set, backed up by a terrific band -including bassist John Billings from Micky Dolenz’s band- was rocking from the start with their “Do You Feel It” and “”Beautiful Morning.” Felix Cavaliere’s vibrant vocals were just a joy. Face it, for people of a certain age, we grew up with this voice … just magical.

Micky Dolenz

Their cover of the Jackie Wilson-chestnut “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) High” set the SRO crowd afire.

Felix then brought his daughter Aria out for two selections. Clearly, she’s inherited by father’s dynamic vocal prowess. She was just terrific and a nice surprise.

Cavaliere then brought out guitarist Gene Cornish who was just wonderful. Gene has had some health issues, but his presence brought the show to a magnificent high-point.

Oddly, there was no mention of the rumored “My Hawaii” from Cavaliere with vocals from Dolly Parton. He mentioned it in a recent interview with Medium, but was mum about it on last Monday’s WOR-interview with Len Berman and Michael Riedel. I hear that the release has been held up several times. Sad … can’t wait to hear it.

The show ended with their signature classics “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “People Got To Be Free” and Good Lovin’.” The Rascals’ music is ingrained and it was a joy to hear it once again. Truth be told, it sounded better than ever!

Seated in a corner booth by the stage was none other than Bill Murray – a huge fan. Great night sensational set. Also, there were Rascals-PR man David Salidor; Dan Zelinski; Billy Amendola; Magda Katz from Times Square Chronicles; and Susan Nuzzi Russo. Thanks to SONY Hall’s Peter Abraham for his assistance.

David Sanborn

DAVID SANBORN — We don’t usually re-print tributes, but this, from David Sanborn’s wife Alice Soyer was so heartfelt.  Take a read:

Dave, my love, my warrior, my soulmate, my unique bird, my everything. I cannot believe what I’m writing right now but what I know is that you changed my life, because of you I know what true love is, I had and have it all. I have it all. Although I’m going to miss you every single minute of my life, I know that the pain you were enduring was not right, those pains are now released and you are completely free. You are and will be in every note, in every breath, in every sound that touches the soul, in every sun beam, in every cloud, in every beat of my heart. Dave you are an inspiration. Your courage to be yourself, to reveal this true voice screaming from inside, oh my love you are a true warrior, a pure artist, an extraordinary being.I will honor you every step on the way, I will represent you, us. I love you madly.

Dave forever

Don Grolnick

SHORT TAKES — First off, I left off one very important member when I referenced The Brecker Brothers last time: keyboardist-genius Don Grolnick: terrifically talented and much-missed …

George Harrison

One of the best parts of watching Let It Be(again!) was seeing John & Yoko dancing to George Harrison’s stunningly-beautiful “I Me Mine.” Awesome…  From Roger Friedman’s SHOWBIZ 411:Barbra Streisand just released a new a beautiful new single called “Love Will Survive,” for the closing credits of the upcoming series “The Tattooist of Auschwitz.” It’s maybe Streisand’s best new vocal in years thanks to producers Walter Afanasieff (Mariah Carey’s classics) and Peter Asher (Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor classics). So now I’m told Streisand has booked the producing duo for her next album of duets. Barbra has a couple of these under her belt over her six decade career. But this one sounds like a powerhouse … Great interview with Micky Dolenz in advance of his Surf Ballroom show Friday in Clear Lake, Iowa: https://littlevillagemag.com/monkee-micky-dolenz-surf-ballroom/?fbclid=IwAR2jXAYYYCJ_19ovY4yT8DU8OfdaTU-GYdYhXahF-rvYj3yERRW_K5MmgrI

Francis Ford Coppola

With this year’s Cannes  Film Festival underway, the first big movie screened was Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis and it generated some of the craziest reviews I’ve ever seen.

Mostly positive. Coppola’s a genius, so you know to expect the unexpected. I think my favorite was from the UK’s Daily Telegraph which gave the movie four stars, saying, “Coppola’s latest is like Succession crossed with Batman Forever and a lava lamp… Aubrey Plaza is fantastic in this full-body sensory bath movie which follows a struggle for power among the elites of New Rome.” Me? I can’t wait to see it. The guy’s a bloody genius … 17-year-old wunderkind Kjersti Long -co writer of Vanessa Williams’ current return to music “Legs (Keep Dancing)”- heads to NYC for the Tribeca Festival in 2 weeks … And Apple TV’s Sugar -with Colin Farrell- ended its run. The first few episodes were great; very LA Confidential, but then, it turned into a sci-fi adventure. Odd? You bet. The ending left room for a second season, but I highly doubt it. Farell was great, but the topsy-turvy plot twist was brutal.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — August Darnell; Coati Mundi; Jeff Vogel; Kent Kotal; Bruce Grakal; Ringo Starr; Danny Fried; China Club; Tony King; Peter Brown; Mark Bego; Kent & Laura Denmark Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Peter Abraham; Peter Lubin; Steve Plotnicki; Profile Records; Joe Cocker; Lush Ice; Anthony Pomes; Terry Jastrow; and BELLA!

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Film

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Amy Winehouse

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Back to Black is a biopic based on the life of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, played by Marisa Abela. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and written by Matt Greenhalgh, the film also stars Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan, and Lesley Manville.

After the death of Winehouse in 2011, filmmakers attempted to create a feature biopic with various projects. In October 2018, it was announced that Winehouse’s estate had signed a deal to make a biopic about her life and career. In July 2022, Deadline Hollywood reported that StudioCanal was moving forward with a feature film entitled Back to Black. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed from a script by Matt Greenhalgh. Alison Owen and Debra Hayward produced under their Monumental Pictures banner, alongside Nicky Kentish-Barnes.

The film was released theatrically in Australia in April 2024, and was released in the United Kingdom shortly after. Focus Features released the film in the United States on May 17 2024.

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