Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Elvis Is in the Building at Million Dollar Quartet

Elvis is back; did he ever leave?

Last night, Mr. Presley arrived on Broadway along with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. “Million Dollar Quartet” is the story of heir one day reunion at Sun Records in Memphis on December 4, 1956. They’d all started at Sun with Sam Phillips, and on that day they met for the last time.

This Broadway show doesn’t have much of a story. The guys meet, and Cash has something to tell Phillips. Otherwise, there isn’t much information. It’s just the most enjoyable jam session ever, with the four guys playing their rockabilly hits, and giving a feel for what it must have been like to invent rock and roll. (They are missing Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Little Richard and Ike Turner, but it’s ok. That could be the sequel.

The performers are better than expected. They really put on a show, singing and playing their own instruments. Every show is different, too. They improvise, and invent the concert as it unravels. Lance Guest–who once was a regular on “Lou Grant” is well known for starring in “The Last Starfighter”–is super as Johnny Cash. Levi Kreis — a full time musician–just about steals the show as Jerry Lee; he does the wild man proud on those keys, to say nothing of playing with elbows and shoes. Eddie Clendening is a smart Elvis, keeping away from impersonation. And Robert Britton Lyons makes Carl Perkins, maybe the least well known of the four, a real person.

Sam Phillips (played by Hunter Foster) was a music industry icon, so the heavy guns were out last night. Paul Shaffer and wife Kathy were there, plus “Law & Order” star Tamara Tunie, famed record producer Phil Ramone and former head of NARAS Michael Greene. The show got a big sponsorship from Gibson Guitars, too, which parked an enormous bus covered with their logo across the street from the Nederlander Theater on West 41st St.

Liza With a Z Visits Valerie with an R (“Rhoda”) on Broadway

Friday night on Broadway: Liza Minnelli and pal Michael Feinstein visited Valerie Harper backstage after one of her last performances in the play, “Looped.” Harper makes for a marvelous Tallulah Bankhead, the celebrity actress of the 40s, 50s, and 60s who boozed, drugged, and slept her way back and forth between Hollywood and Broadway.Bankhead was the original bad girl, Paris, Lindsay, and Britney all rolled into one.

Harper is really brilliant and never a caricature as she portrays the star in her waning days. She deserves a Tony nomination for her excellent work. She is a comic assassin, able to deliver devastating lines and keep moving. While the play isn’t perfect, Harper is riveting. I hope the Tony committee doesn’t write her off as “Rhoda” from TV come to impress on Broadway. She’s too good not to be taken seriously.

Minnelli and Feinstein were wowed and told Harper so. But I winced a little since much of Tallulah’s life seemed similar to Minnelli’s. She was a good sport about it, though, and in fine form following knee replacement surgery from January.

Why is “Looped” closing? The word is a backer backed out at the last minute. It’s too bad. This show should move to off Broadway, like the Lucille Lortel downtown. It could run forever with lower overhead. The Friday night house was sold out…

..

Date Night A Hit: People Will Watch TV at the Movies

People will watch TV in movie theaters.

That’s what we learn today as “Date Night,” featuring TV stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, had a huge Friday night. The Fox comedy took in $9.3 million according to boxofficemojo.com, and could reap a $28 million weekend.

Considering that the tepid comedy cost $55 million or so, “Date Night” will earn out nicely. Expect sequels as the studio milks Carell and Fey’s chemistry over and over.

The success of “Date Night” is also good for The Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am. Profiled on Friday in the Wall Street Journal as the most commercial pop star on the scene, the savvy marketer is also featured in “Date Night.” He plays himself, and gets several shout outs concerning his name. It’s a huge product placement. Ironically, the Journal story didn’t mention the “Date Night” connection, even though the paper and studio share an owner.

It’s also good for “Big Love” HBO star Jeanne Tripplehorn, who gets the best shout out of her career in the film as well.

Universal must be kicking itself since Carell and Fey’s shows air on NBC Universal and their film is with Fox. But the movie’s success can only be good for the TV shows. And, with the unlikeliness of sitcom star Kevin James going into movies, there’s more than ever a movie audience of TV watchers. Maybe the next “Date Night” will be in 3D!!

Mel Gibson Divorce: There’s Cash for Robyn

TMZ has a strange item this morning. They say Mel Gibson has no cash for soon to be ex wife Robyn. All his money is tied up in property.

Not really, Robyn.

Someone should tell Mrs. Gibson that after 25 years and 7 kids, there is some money.

According to a federal tax filing, Mel parked over $6 mil cash in his A. P. Reilly Foundation in 2008. That donation brought the total assets of A. P. Reilly to $50 million. The filing for 2009 isn’t available yet.

The Foundation is designed to run Mel’s Holy Family church in Agoura Hills. The private church sits on a very desirable piece of land.

And guess who the unpaid Vice President is of A. P. Reilly according to tax documents going back for several years? Why, it’s Robyn Gibson.

Every year of its existence, Mel has made a substantial cash donation to A. P. Reilly, even though it can’t possibly take that much money to support a church that has only 70 members. Maybe this year, Mel can give Robyn the cash and the church can have a bake sale…

Will “The Addams Family” Be Critic Proof?

It was a long time coming, but “The Addams Family” opened last night on Broadway. The reviews are scathing, and the question is: Can a show with millions in pre-sales overcome the critics?

“The Addams Family” took in nearly $1.4 million last week in previews. It was third at the box office behind “Wicked” and “The Lion King.” A new show, not even opened, such a hit? It’s never happened before.

You could see why at last night’s premiere. Stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth were met with adulatory applause from an audience that was part celebrity and part real people. Among the stars who showed: Matthew Broderick (with a bodyguard no less) plus Bob and Lynne Balaban, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kodb, Tony Roberts, Tova Feldshuh, and “Ray” director Taylor Hackford.

The crowd loved the show, as did the “real” audience I saw it with a couple of weeks ago. But “The Addams Family” is taking a drubbing from theater critics. And they’re right. The show is a mess, from top to bottom. The songs by Andrew Lippa are so awful that one of them includes a comedy line about “Schindler’s List.” Ouch! What was Lippa thinking? The songs do nothing to drive the story along; many of them are just self contained, with terrible lyrics. A couple of them sound like Meat Loaf’s cast offs.

And then there’s the script: it is baffling how this slight plot line mirrors a movie in which Nathan Lane once starred: “The Birdcage.” In this version, Wednesday Addams is now more Marilyn Munster, the “normal” member of an odd family. She wants to marry a normal boy and so invites his normal family to dinner. Sound familiar? Soon this conservative Ohio couple (Terrance Mann, Carolee Carmello) are loosening up and getting wild.

“The Addams Family” grinds to a halt somewhere in there. I particularly objected to the constant references to death and love of it; the Addamses are obsessed with it, but nothing explains why or who they are. And in this version, their mansoleum of a mansion is planted in Central Park. Huh? Cousin It is seen in passing, and Grandmama (Jackie Hoffman) is the most annoying character on Broadway in many seasons.

But still: the audience wants to see this show. It various flaws will matter not, I think, to the average theatergoer. No Tony’s for the show, book or score unless the committee takes one of Grandmama’s potions before voting. But the actors will be nominated, and that should give it some help. My guess is “The Addams Family” runs for as long as Lane and Neuwirth can stand it, or need the paycheck.

And they are the pleasures of seeing the show. Lane is full of shtick. Neuwirth is quintessential Morticia even though they haven’t given her enough to do. You really have to wait into Act 2 to see Neuwirth, the former star of “Chicago,” show her stuff. She’s worth the price of admission.

Sting Will Make His Debut at NY’s Metropolitan Opera House

It seems like it should have already happened by now. Sting, the world renown rock star, is going to make his debut at the Metropolitan Opera.

He won’t be doing “Tosca” or “Aida,” though. Sting is going to bring himself and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra into the famed met for two nights — July 13 and 14– as part of his summer symphony tour. Those famous Chagalls in the front windows are going to get a taste of “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Brand New Day” in bold new ways.

Well, nothing is new for Sting who has been in movies, on Broadway, led lute concerts, performed in sacred cathedrals, gone unplugged, plugged, you name it. He even performed in an opera in Paris written by Elvis Costello cohort Steve Nieve. Oh yeah, and he wrote a bestselling memoir.

Sting is currently on a symphony tour, but will also play the “Today” show plaza next month and host the Rainforest Foundation concert at Carnegie Hall. He’s also participating, with wife Trudie Styler, in a big Earth Day celebration on April 25th in Washington DC.

Sting is very busy and a man who tries to be in more than place at one time. That’s why I think it’s funny that Xerox is sponsoring the tour. Maybe they can help him!

Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani Other Music Stars Choose PMK

The crazy PR wars in Hollywood this past winter redistributed a lot of stars to new and different firms.

Now PMK, which merged with Bragman Nyman Cafarelli to become PMK BNC, has thrown down the gauntlet. They’ve brought in Dave Tomberlin from Interscope Records to their L.A. office. And Tomberlin is bringing heavy hitter clients with him.

Joining PMK-BNC are no less than the hottest star of the year, Lady Gaga (Stephanie Germanotta), as well Gwen Stefani, her rocker husband Gavin Rossdale, and Stefani’s group, No Doubt. For good measure, Tomberlin also delivers to PMK-BNC The Pussycat Dolls.

Back in the days when Pat Kingsley, Leslee Dart, and Lois Smith ran the old PMK, they had music clients. But you never really thought of them as a music agency. Now Cindi Berger and Kristen Foster have put together quite a roster adding these new names to those of  Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton, Joan Jett, Mariah Carey, Peter Gabriel, The Dixie Chicks, Seal, Harry Connick Jr., John Legend, Counting Crows,  and Shakira. Berger put Shakira on the cover of The Economist recently. I mean, that’s pretty cool stuff.

On top of that, PMK-BNC is handling summer tours for teenager Justin Bieber (the kids love him, even if I don’t get it), and the cast of the hit show, “Glee.”

Here’s Gavin with No Doubt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15EA9ER65Ss&feature=related