May 31, 2011

My Memorial Day In A Cemetery

I spent Memorial Day this year in a cemetery.  Actually, I used to do this a lot in my youth, when I worked as a tourguide at Arlington National Cemetery and on the holiday weekend showed tourists around sites like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Robert E. Lee's house and the Kennedy gravesites.  So it was peaceful and familiar and almost nostalgic to be hanging out in beautiful Green-Wood Cemetery way out in Brooklyn.

Green-Wood is a beautiful, expansive graveyard that I've posted about here before.  It has a lot of famous folks buried there, including Basquiat and Bernstein, and also has a lot of history too, as it was the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, the first major fight of the Revolutionary War which took place on the highest point of land in Kings County.  Today, the views from the top of Battle Hill are extraordinary as you can see the entire harbor as well as the entirety of Manhattan.  The picture here shows the view from a statue of "Freedom" waving out to Lady Liberty in the harbor.

The cemetery currently has an exhibit in the beautifully restored chapel honoring the more than 150,000 men from the NYC region who served in the Civil War.  Some of these brave Union soliders are buried in Green-Wood and their headstones have been found and restored in recent years. Anyway, it was a great way to spend Memorial Day...actually remembering the men who fought to keep this country together 150 years ago.

May 26, 2011

Makin' It: The Song and The TV Show

I was out at Mattachine last week when the DJ blew my mind.  Ange DiCarlo played a long lost 70's hit from an old K-Tel Hit Machine's vinyl disc (owned by co-DJ Amber Martin) called MAKIN' IT. This was a song by David Naughton that went all the way to number 5 on the Billboard charts in the summer 1979 and is one of those songs that was everywhere for 6 months then just disappeared.

Before it became a pop sensation, the song also served as the catchy theme to David Naughton's own sitcom also called MAKIN' IT, which was about a couple guys in Passaic, NJ who were goofballs by day and disco kings by night.  Sound familiar?  It was basically ABC's copycat version of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.  The show was not nearly as successful as the show (even casting Ellen Travolta didn't help!) and lasted just 8 mid-season episodes.  But I believe I watched every single one of them for two reasons; disco dancing and David Naughton.  I had a serious crush on the Dr. Pepper dude...and he could dance!

You can watch the crazy opening for the show in this compilation of 1979 TV theme songs....MAKIN' IT starts at 7:00 and plays almost like a spoof of a sitcom opener.  But that song is still so damn catchy. Turns out it was written by the same team who brought us the classic I WILL SURVIVE.

May 25, 2011

WTC VIEW featured in the NY TIMES Theater Section

There was a lovely feature article about WTC VIEW in the NY TIMES yesterday (accompanied by this lovely picture too!).  The piece was written by Erik Piepenberg, who interviewed me and the director Andrew Volkoff along with Nick Lewis (who plays ERIC) and Leah Curney (who plays JOSIE).  He wrote about how the show is a period piece now and, as such, is more able to be experienced as a play rather than "documentary theatre".  Actually, that has been the driving force in this production for me and Andrew; to go back to the material and really look at it as a play, since we're somewhat removed now from being so close to all the raw emotion of the 9/11 attacks.

Also today, we have our first official review in this morning, over at Backstage magazine.  It's a great notice for the show and especially our incredibly talented cast.  There will be more reviews coming this week and I will try to link to them in a larger post on Friday.  In the meantime, we had a sold out house for our official "press opening", after only 4 previews....take that SPIDERMAN! :)  Seating is limited but tix are still available online at and the run is currently set to end on June 5th.  Hope to see you there!

May 24, 2011

Coming to NBC....GLEE For Adults

So yesterday, I posted about PAN AM, which looked to be one of the more exciting entries in the new fall TV season.  Well, now I have seen what is easily the most awesome looking trailer for a new show since Fox started airing those enticing GLEE promos two years ago.  Apparently I'm not alone my enthusiasm as, after reading through the reviews TV upfronts last week, this was the most buzzed about show.

SMASH is a behind the scenes look at the making of a Broadway show.  That alone got my interest when I first heard about this show when the pilot was announced back in January.  But what makes it this truly extraordinary is the talent involved in putting it all together;  Steven Spielberg is the executive producer, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (CHICAGO, HAIRSPRAY) are the lead producers, playwright Teresa Rebeck (THE UNDERSTUDY, MAURITIUS) is the writer,  Michael Mayer (AMERICAN IDIOT, SPRING AWAKENING) is the director, and the music is by Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman (HAIRSPRAY).  Whoa.

The cast has Megan Hilty (who I saw in WICKED) and American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee as two talented ladies battling for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a musical about the icon's life.  And from the looks of this 5 minute trailer, which I have watched more than 5 times(!), this is gonna be great. The show will be doing original songs each week and the two that are featured in this preview are just fantastic, especially the last number.

The only drawback is, like GLEE, there's going to be something of a wait involved before this makes it on air.  The show is slated for January 2012 so that it can premiere after NBC's new hit THE VOICE. This is, of course, the same strategy employed with GLEE, premiering after IDOL. Let's just hope that ratings lightning will strike twice for this remarkable looking show.

May 23, 2011

ABC's Trailer For New 60's Series PAN AM

So this one of the more exciting trailers I've seen for the new 2011 fall TV season, which was announced here in NYC last week. PAN AM is ABC's entry in the MAD MEN rip-off genre (NBC is doing THE PLAYBOY CLUB).  But the Playboy trailer does not look promising....something about one of the bunnies accidentally killing a mobster?!  Huh?!

PAN AM has it's own twist too but it sounds somewhat more plausible and a helluva lot more interesting than TV mobsters; one of the stewardesses is recruited to be an international spy! The show looks incredible, has some handsome Draper-esque dudes and it stars Christina Ricci too. And having a little Frank Sinatra setting the mood sure helps.  Coming this fall....

May 20, 2011

HAWK NEWS: The NYU Baby Red Tail Hawk Has A Name

So the big news this week with the baby red tail hawk nesting on a ledge above Washington Square Park is that he has a name now....Pip.   There was a naming contest online and Pip won, with York coming in a close second.  The reference is to Dickens' "Great Expectations" as everyone was surprised when Pip busted out of his shell a week after the experts said he was not going to hatch.  Now Pip is thriving and getting bigger by the day.

If you need a daily hit of adorable, forget those cat videos on YouTube.  You can check out the latest star of Internet cuteness live on his own streaming webcam page.  You can even chat with other hawk watchers about all the excitement goin on in the nest as this little neighborhood bird gets bigger every day.  I challenge you not to smile when he turns his big black eyes to the camera and stares like the cute eyeas he is.

May 19, 2011

The Window Is Ready For WTC VIEW's First Performance

This is a picture from our set for WTC VIEW. This is the window which features the said view in the show.  I shot this yesterday after our final dress rehearsal. It's not, however, one of our actors but Brian Prather, our set designer who put the whole thing together along with his students up at Ithaca College. It has all turned out beautifully.

Today is our first public performance of the show up at 59E59 Theaters, with showtime at 7:30pm.  It's very exciting after 7 years to have reached this point of the show's off-Broadway premiere.  Everyone on this production has worked so hard to make it all come together, namely our director Andrew Volkoff and the incredibly talented cast of actors who are bringing new life to this show.

Our official press opening night is Tuesday May 24th. To those in the NYC area, I hope you can come see the show. It is truly something special.  Tickets are still available at for our 3 week run, though we have a couple nights that are already sold it. I will be attending all the shows this weekend and our opening on the 24th. We also have talkbacks with me and Andrew after the shows on the 25th and 1st.  Hope to see you there!

May 16, 2011

NEXT, The New Yorker & Other Press Hits For WTC VIEW @ 59E59

We got some press hitting today, namely a listing in The New Yorker's "Goings On About Town".  That was amazing!

We also got a great write up in NEXT magazine's current issue, which has a nice picture of me and our two male leads, Nick Lewis (right) and Patrick Edward O'Brien.  This was based on an interview I did with Dan Avery, the magazine's Senior Editor which happened the day after Osama was killed. We talked about the effect that would have on references in to Bin Laden in the show but how I decided not make changes to those references as the play is squarely set in the last week of September 2001.  No editorializing from the future...

We also got a listing in The Advocate from Brandon Voss, who put WTC VIEW on his Hot Sheet of the top 10 things in entertainment on his radar this week. These mentions have double our ticket sales in the last 24 hours. So if you want to see the show, I encourage you to get your seats now.....only 18$ and selling fast.  They're available online at

May 13, 2011

50 Years Ago, The Freedom Riders Headed South

It was 50 years ago this month that a mixed group of activists, 7 black men and 6 white men, boarded a few Greyhound and Trailways buses in Washington, DC and headed on a journey into the segregated south.  Their trip into history ended in violence when the riders were attacked in Alabama and jailed, the tires of their buses slashed and one bus was even set on fire.

Their courageous exercise of civil disobedience is now the subject of a documentary that will be airing on PBS May 26th called FREEDOM RIDERS. A friend of mine, Alton Christensen, worked on this show and it looks like it's going to be can watch some footage on PBS's website.  And you can read more about the Freedom Riders on the CORE website.

May 11, 2011

NYU HAWK UPDATE: Feeding Time & Rescue Mission

Below is an cute video of feeding time for Violet, the red tail hawk that has been nesting on a ledge at NYU library with her new baby hawk.  That's the good news.  The bad news is the swelling on Violet's leg from a wildlife band has gotten increasingly worse in the last week and there is now a plan to try and fix it.

Bird experts from the Bronx Zoo are planning to come in today and, with a baited trap, get Violet into their hands so that they can remove the band and treat her leg which seems to be infected.  Hopefully this will do the trick. But if not, then they will take Violet and her baby up to the Bronx Zoo where the eyeass will be raised in captivity, away from it's mother. Apparently, without the nest she built and instincts that come with it, Violet might not take care of her own kid.  Bizzare but fascinating.  And absolutely adorable too....

The Genre Mash-Up Goes Hollywood

This summer marks the start of a new mini-trend in H'wood; the extreme genre mash-up.  This concept started in the book world a few years ago with a novel called "Pride, Prejudice and Zombies", which had a big YA following.  This was followed by many imitators and sequels and, of course, Hollywood took notice.  This summer, a funny "little" movie (meaning it's not based on a comic, toy, or TV show) called "Cowboys & Aliens" is kicking things off with a bang it seems.  At least the trailer seems to indicate that.

Yesterday's TIMES reported on the next wave, specifically a movie about Abraham Lincoln's secret life as a vampire hunter.  Despite the sound of it, this is not some scrappy weird indie but a huge weird studio effort that FOX has put together for summer '12. The title?  Well, it's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" of course and has all sorts of history in it as well as the fact that the 16th president liked to slay the occasional blood-sucker.

I'm not sure if this genre has already jumped the shark with this title. But, if it hasn't, you can expect many, many more like it.

May 10, 2011

WTC VIEW in the NY TIMES Sunday Arts Section

I meant to put this up yesterday but got distracted by the exciting news in Ireland.  Anyway, over the weekend, WTC VIEW made the NY TIMES Sunday Arts section as part of a roundup of hot summer theatre happening across the country this year.  If you click here, just scroll down to the section about New York City and we got a nice mention.

In other WTC news, we got our poster/postcard art last week which looks great.  Tickets are now on sale for the run of the show....there are only 16 performances and seating in the theatre is limited (see "off-Broadway"). So if you're interested, I would encourage you to purchase your tickets soon at 59E59's website.  We will have a bunch of press coming out next week so this way you can avoid the rush!

Rehearsals for the show are continuing "every amazing day" (as Alex says) over in Long Island City while our set is being built upstate.  So it's all coming together!  Look forward to seeing it....and YOU at the theatre later this month  :)

May 9, 2011

Ireland Could Elect First Openly Gay President

Towleroad provides great world coverage of gay political news and, over the weekend, I spotted this story out of Ireland.  David Norris, a 66-year old out gay man in Dublin, is the front runner in the current race for Ireland's presidency.   While the election is still a a few months off in November, Norris who is a well-known Irish senator, has become the candidate to beat.  

The full story is over on Irish Central News, which notes that the Presidency in Ireland is not exactly the same as it is in other European countries.  There is still a separate prime minister who deals with more political issues but the presidency is a major position, the visibility of which has become increasingly important after two terms in which the current president Mary McAleese has made the job her own.  

I find this all very remarkable given Ireland's deep Catholic roots.  But Norris, whose popularity extends outside of urban Ireland, seems to transcend politics and sexual identity issues and has become the frontrunner due to the Irish love of outsider candidates who challenge the status quo.  It will be very  interesting to see how the rest of the campaign and upcoming election in the fall pans out. 

May 6, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: We Have A Baby Hawk In The Village!

After more than 5 weeks of watching, it appeared that the eggs that a Red Tail Hawk was sitting on high above Washington Square Park were duds.  Earlier this week, the eggs reached their so-called "expiration date" and professional hawk-watchers said there would be no baby hawks in this nest on a ledge of NYU's Bobst Library.

Well, lo and behold, this morning everyone got a big birthday surprise as the HawkCam showed a baby hawk in the nest.  The eyeass (which is the technical name for such a creature) had poked through its shell over the last 24 hours. Viewership on the HawkCam has nearly tripled with the news too.

So what's next? The hawks will be feed by their folks over the next few months. And what's on the menu? New York City rats of course! Fortunately, the hawk watchers have coordinated with the NYC parks department and the poison bait for rats left in Washington Square Park will be removed for the time being so that the young hawk can grow up nice and healthy in its deluxe nest in the sky.

May 5, 2011

Google Brings "It Gets Better" To Prime Time

During this week's episode of GLEE, Google aired an ad for it's Chrome browser which was also a beautiful PSA for the "It Gets Better" campaign that columnist Dan Savage started last fall with a video heard round the world.  The spot is really amazing...and a tear-jerker too. Bravo Google!

May 4, 2011

The #1 Movie Theater In America Is On 42nd Street

In 2001, AMC opened the Empire theatre, a 25-screen maxi-plex on what had previously been one of the seediest blocks in NYC; 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenue.  Today, AMC's Empire is the number one movie theater in America with yearly gross ticket sales around $25 millions dollars.  This week, the Hollywood Reporter has an extensive article about the theatre and the surprisingly important role it plays in the American film industry.

I remember when this theatre first opened nearly 10 years ago and I was a regular.  Not only was it easily the nicest theatre in the city, with big screens and large stadium seating (unique at that time) but, in addition to blockbusters, it showed indie films as well.  It was a vast improvement over the suburban shoeboxes that pass for cinemas at the Angelika Theater and I was a quick convert to going uptown.

However, due to the theatre's popularity, ticketing there in recent years can be a bit of a hassle.  Usually half of the automatic machines are out of order and the queue can back up to the door in the massive lobby. Often there are just two ticket sellers behind a counter that accommodates 12.  These glitches were not mentioned in THR but could go a long way to improving the experience at America's #1 movie house.

May 3, 2011

My Favorite Meme Re: The Death Of Osama

On TV, the networks have now branded Sunday's extraordinary raid "The Killing of Osama Bin Laden" and, two days later, keep promoting their "continuing coverage of the death of Osama Bin Laden".  Really?  Continuing?  I think he's still dead last time we checked. Meanwhile, over on The Internets, things are a little lighter as memes continue to grow in the wake of Osama's demise.

I think this one above is my favorite because it actually gets at something true.  Meanwhile, GhostOsama continues to rack up followers on Twitter and has surpassed the 40K mark.  Also on Twitter, the most popular retweet was something @Jesus had to say about the terrorist/mass murderer's death; "You're at the wrong gate, Osama."  Classic.

May 2, 2011

Osama's Death On Twitter--Real and Fake

Osama Bin Laden was killed yesterday in a U.S. raid on his compound in Pakistan.  The top secret military action, though, was actually tweeted about for the world to read....except that no one knew exactly what it was at the time.  An IT consultant on vacation near Bin Laden's hideout unwittingly tweeted about the attack as the helicopters circled can read his tweets on the Washington Post website.

In other Twitter-related news, following in the footsteps of that escaped snake from the Bronx Zoo, there is now a GhostOsama user (pictured here) that popped up last night shortly after the big news hit the airwaves at 10:45pm.   I found this stream last night around 11:30pm as I was following reactions on Twitter and Facebook....a lot more interesting than watching the networks I have to say.  Anyway, in less than 24 hours, the silly-sounding ghost of OBL has racked up nearly 40,000 followers.  Sample tweet: 70 Virgins Left...I need a cigarette and a nap. LOL.

Joking aside, the death of this mass murderer has been a long time coming and,in New York today, there is a general sense of communal relief.