968 posts categorized "Arts-Entertainment"

November 20, 2014

Director Mike Nichols dies at 83

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Director Mike Nichols died on Wednesday at age 83. He was born in Germany and moved to the United States at age 7. He was a member of the comedy duo Nichols and May with Elaine May. In his long directing career, which encompassed stage, film, and television, he won about every award that could be won in his profession: Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Drama Desk, Golden Globe, Grammy, and Britain's BAFTA. He received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, and an American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Nichols seemed eternally young, always with another project. He was working on a production of "Master Class" with Meryl Streep for HBO when he died. Fortunately, much of his work remains available for viewing. I remember seeing "The Real Thing" in 1984 in Broadway, featuring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close. That he was adept in so many media put him in rare company. The partial lists of his work below convey his incredible range and output. At the bottom is a famous scene from "The Graduate" featuring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. He is survived by his wife Diane Sawyer and his children Max, Jenny, and Daisy. May he rest in peace.

On Broadway: Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), Uncle Vanya (1973), Streamers (1976), Annie (1977), The Real Thing (1984), Hurlyburly (1984), The Seagull (2001), Spamalot (2005), Death of a Salesman (2012), and Betrayal (2013).

On film: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), Silkwood (1983), Heartburn (1986), Biloxi Blues (1988), Working Girl (1988), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Regarding Henry (1991), The Birdcage (1996), Primary Colors (1998), Angels in America (2003), Closer (2004), and Charlie Wilson's War (2007).

November 18, 2014

On Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby
(Photo by Evan Vucci, The Associated Press)

Bill Cosby has entertained generations of Americans with his comedy. He is an educator and has created memorable children's programming. His creation "Little Bill" always says "Hello friend" because that's what Ennis, his murdered son, always said. Cosby is a great philanthropist. One does not want to believe that such a beloved and respected figure is a serial rapist. But 14 alleged victims, one of whom he settled with out of court, coupled with his silence, make it hard to credit his lawyer's dismissals. Sadness is all over this; but the seriousness of the accusations raises troubling questions about wealth and fame putting someone above the law. I sure could have done without this news.

Here are several relevant items:

Update: A thoughtful essay from Katie McDonough at Salon.

November 07, 2014

Into the Woods - new trailer

The enchanting 1987 Sondheim musical based on Grimm's fairy tales appears from these glimpses to have received a beautiful film adaptation. In cinemas December 25.

October 30, 2014

Coffee Frenemies

A Starbucks commercial, no less.

There are no illegal aliens

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The incomparable Sigourney Weaver and friend.

This is your neighbor speaking...

This came to mind for perfectly arbitrary reasons. Jason Robards, Jr. addressing his neighbors in A Thousand Clowns, 1965.

Is Nick Jonas queerbaiting?

Yeah, sort of, says Towleroad.

I confess I am having trouble caring. But it appears to be a thing.

October 29, 2014

What's Scarier than Halloween? The Bible!

The latest from Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.

World Series moment

October 24, 2014

Great performances: Jeffrey Wright at Belize in Angels

I was looking for something else, and came upon this clip from the HBO version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Justin Kirk as Prior Walter, hospitalized with AIDS, tells his friend Belize, played by Jeffrey Wright, about the angels who are visiting him. Prior and Belize are former lovers and dear friends.

I saw both parts of Angels on a Saturday in 1994 on Broadway. I vividly remember Wright delivering the line, "My jaw aches at the memory." Wright's performance in that production won him a Tony, and his HBO reprise won him an Emmy. I appreciate having the TV version (though it lacks another Tony winner, Kathleen Chalfant, whose roles were given to Meryl Streep), because in 1994 I was in the balcony. TV gives you a front-row seat. This landmark drama was the first time I saw Wright. He has played a wide range of characters since, from MLK in HBO's Boycott to a CIA agent in the James Bond movies, to a Dominican drug lord in the Shaft remake, to the dangerous Dr. Valentin Narcisse in Boardwalk Empire. He is always compelling. If you know of a more gifted actor currently working, do tell.

Another clip, this one facing off with the dying Roy Cohn, played by the man whose performance in Dog Day Afternoon convinced Wright he must be an actor. Imagine Wright's thrill at this collaboration. If you are unfamiliar with Angels (something which you ought to correct), the ghost standing next to Belize at the end (when he says "I am the shadow on your grave") is that of Ethel Rosenberg.

October 17, 2014

In celebration of hermaphroditic snails

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("Snail Shell on Keys" by Garry Gay)

In an update on my earlier post regarding the new snail species Aegista diversifamilia, Manon Verchot at Treehugger.com quotes me, including my new lyrics channeling Cole Porter:

Bi-curious whales do it, quails do it,
New hermaphroditic snails do it.
Let's do it, let's fall in love.

Below, though sadly without benefit of my special lyrics, Billie Holiday gives her rendition. Use your imagination.

Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer dies

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Tim Hauser, founder of famed close harmony group Manhattan Transfer, has died at age 72. As a fellow former member of the Villanova Singers and Spires (though I never had the pleasure of meeting him), I tip my hat to our illustrious alum. Well done! I expect he is meeting another alum, Jim Croce, on the other side.

October 07, 2014

Geoffrey Holder, 1930 - 2014

NYT reports:

Geoffrey Holder, the dancer, choreographer, actor, composer, designer and painter who used his manifold talents to infuse the arts with the flavor of his native West Indies and to put a singular stamp on the American cultural scene, not least with his outsize personality, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 84.

Charles M. Mirotznik, a spokesman for the family, said the cause was complications of pneumonia.

Few cultural figures of the last half of the 20th century were as multifaceted as Mr. Holder, and few had a public presence as unmistakable as his, with his gleaming pate atop a 6-foot-6 frame, full-bodied laugh and bassoon of a voice laced with the lilting cadences of the Caribbean.

In the clip above, Holder dances with the original Scarecrow as he receives his Tony for directing The Wiz. Below, a glimpse of his work for Alvin Ailey. May this great artist rest in peace.

October 03, 2014

Key & Peele - Gay Wedding Advice

Very funny.

September 24, 2014

Who says there's no good news?

I am delighted to hear this news of a sequel. On the other hand, what could possibly outdo this reading by Samuel L. Jackson?

Trust me on this one

Very funny.

(Hat tip: Joel Lawson)

September 23, 2014

Artie Raslich, whale photographer

Whale in NY waters

Ian Frazier in the Sep. 29 issue of The New Yorker writes about photographer Artie Raslich of East Rockaway, who took the wonderful photo above.

Tel Aviv party organizers slammed for ISIS spoof

Ynet News reports:

Drek – one of Tel Aviv's most popular gay party organizers – has inspired a massive wave of criticism and anger online after using imagery inspired by the Islamic State group's executions on a number of posters promoting the club's parties.

Here are a couple of the offending images.

Drek poster 1

Drek poster 2

It does seem in dreadful taste. But dark humor generally is. As I do not live in the Middle East, I am not inclined to judge the Drek promoters too harshly.

September 04, 2014

R.I.P. Joan Rivers

Comedian Joan Rivers has died at age 81. Here is a 1986 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, her trademark style on full display. May she rest in peace.

August 29, 2014

Daily Show mocks ESPN focus on Michael Sam's showering habits

Samantha Bee normally annoys me, but this is funny. Michael Sam outclasses the people who persist in trying to marginalize him with their locker room fantasies. Rooting for you, Mike.

As for Mike's performance as a football player and his chances of making the final roster cut Saturday, more coverage here and here.

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August 28, 2014

Colbert Report: Outrage in Ferguson

Jon Stewart on #Ferguson: Race/Off

Love Is Strange

This movie about an older gay couple opens Friday at Landmark E Street Cinema. Randy Shulman in Metro Weekly interviews stars Alfred Molina and John Lithgow.

August 25, 2014

New Yorker cover: Ferguson, MO

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Beautiful New Yorker cover this week, by Eric Drooker. Hands up, don't shoot.

August 19, 2014

Shorties

An odd piece that cropped up today. The music is Mozart's Turkish March.

August 16, 2014

The Imitation Game

Churchill said this alleged security risk should have gotten a peerage. He needed to break an unbreakable Nazi code, so he invented the modern computer. Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. American release November 21.

August 12, 2014

Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014

Another great one passes. In this scene, accompanied by Hoagy Carmichael, Bacall sings to an adoring customer I imagine was her first gay fan.

Years ago, I worked a column around "How Little We Know" and the movie it's from, To Have and Have Not.

It seemed we would have Betty Bacall forever. She was 89.

'Oblivion together does not frighten me, beloved'

I was looking around for something that would make you smile amid all the horrors going on in the world, and here it is in the form of an unorthodox marriage proposal. Be sure to watch to the end.

(Note: the title of this blog entry is a line spoken by Diana Muldaur in an episode of the original Star Trek. Extra points if you guess correctly to whom she said it. And no, I did not look it up, because I've had this silly stuff in my head for the past 46 years.)

Robin Williams, R.I.P.

The Motion Picture Academy posted the above tweet yesterday after the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams at age 63. Below is a performance Williams gave in England after Barack Obama's first presidential election victory. May he rest in peace.

August 04, 2014

'Meet me after service for some one-on-one praying'

Our friend the comedian Sampson was back in town over the weekend. For those who missed him, here is a clip from his 2013 show at the historic Howard Theatre.

August 01, 2014

I Can't Breathe: a Broadway protest of the killing of Eric Garner

The Daily News today reports that the NYC Medical Examiner has ruled that Eric Garner was killed by a police chokehold, a restraining tactic that is still being used despite being long forbidden.

July 29, 2014

Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42, stars as the James Brown. This looks like fun. Opening in cineplexes on August 1.

John Oliver on our insecure nukes

Quick, hide under a picnic blanket!

July 26, 2014

Shade

Jeopardy! includes "shade" in a clue.

July 24, 2014

This Land Is Mine

Pretty well sums it up. Lovely singing by Andy Williams.

July 17, 2014

Culture Thieves

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(Photo by Raz Birkshaw. Courtesy Wiki Commons)

My column this week looks at a recent flare-up in the culture wars. Here's the opening:

Sierra Mannie, a University of Mississippi senior, wrote a commentary picked up by Time last week titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture." Here's a portion:

"I need some of you to cut it the hell out. ... I don't care ... how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you've been bottoming -- you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood."

Someone was looking for a throwdown. She talked about Beyoncé, white privilege and the legacies of racism and sexism. She made some valid points. She also said that black women "cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality."

Let's pause there. David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community, posted a response on Tumblr. He did not imitate a black woman saying, "Oh no you dih-int." He was conciliatory and thoughtful:

Follow the link above to read the whole thing at Metro Weekly.

R.I.P. Elaine Stritch

NYT reports that legendary Broadway actress and comedian Elaine Stritch has died at age 89. May she rest in peace.

The video above shows her onstage in 2002. Below, she appears with David Letterman in 1996.

July 15, 2014

From the comics: Archie to die saving gay friend's life

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Granted, I haven't paid much attention to the comics in a very long time, but they've certainly goosed up Archie from the piffle I remember. Rolling Stone reports:

Archie Andrews fans already know that their beloved, red-haired comic book icon is going to die while trying to save a friend's life. Now Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater has offered more specifics about the character's sacrifice: Archie will perish after intervening in an assassination attempt on the series' first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, The Associated Press reports.

Really, Mr. Goldwater? Assassinations? I think I'll send this to the reader who ranted at me from Rehoboth for interrupting his beach reading with my views on current affairs.

July 12, 2014

Cultural appropriation goes in multiple directions

Sierra Mannie is a senior at the University of Mississippi, in whose student newspaper she wrote a strong article that has been picked up by Time. It is titled, "Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture," and here's how it opens:

I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.

She then explains. She makes legitimate points. But then I read a response on Tumblr by my friend David Mariner, Executive Director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community. Here are a few excerpts from his thoughtful and eloquent piece:

The second thing I need you to know is that I can’t change who I am. I know you may suggest, as you did in your article, that gay men can simply ‘hide’ who they are. Perhaps I should lower the pitch of my voice artificially? Butch it up? Let me assure you, I tried that for the first twenty years of my life, and it came very close to killing me. I can’t hide who I am, nor should I....

Fourth up, and I really need you to hear this one, many of the expressions, sayings, mannerisms, and culture that you claim white men have appropriated from black women.... well a lot of it never really belonged to to straight women to begin with. It originated from LGBT culture, and predominately the Black and Latino Gay scene. Do a little research and look into Ball Culture. Watch Paris is Burning or Tongues Untied. Learn where all those expressions come from.

I encourage you to read both pieces. In a diverse society, respect and understanding must be reciprocal.

July 11, 2014

Rick Santorum warned us about this

UCBComedy explains: "Ron Spiner is the only candidate brave enough to fight for your right to marry whoever you want, as long as they're a dog and not the same sex as you." Apparently they're parodying Dr. Keith Ablow, who is seen below on Fox News discussing his concerns about polygamous bestiality.

For students of depravity, I note that these guys don't go nearly as far as Madonna did in her sex book twenty years ago. But what's with the guy and the peanut butter? How insensitive toward people with peanut allergies.