February 29, 2012

Two Actors From WTC VIEW On Broadway

Lucas Papaelias, who played "Kevin" in my second feature film WTC VIEW, made his Broadway debut last night in the new musical ONCE.  ONCE is an adaptation of the musical film by the same name which came out to much acclaim (and even an Academy Award) back in 2006. Lucas, who is a talented musician in addition to being a fantastic actor, was in the original production of the show last fall at New York Theatre Workshop.  

Lucas now joins Michael Urie, who played "Eric", as the second cast member from my little indie film currently on the Great White Way! Michael joined the HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS last month, playing "Bud Frump" opposite Darren Criss and now Nick Jonas.  

It's a thrill for me as I've known both these actors for a while and it's so amazing to see them just keep getting better while also getting bigger and bigger stages on which to perform.  I met Lucas in 2000 when he starred in a one-act play of mine called SEX AND THE ONE ACT, which won best play at the CenterStage One Act Festival.  I met Michael a year later, after seeing him in a production of LOVE AND HAPPINESS at Barrington Stage Company. That show was directed by Andrew Volkoff who went on the direct WTC in it's Fringe festival debut and off-Broadway last year at 59E59 Theaters.  

Anyway, congrats to them both!  And if you're looking for great theatre this spring, I urge you to check out these shows.  

February 28, 2012

The Marine Kiss Seen Round The World

So forget Angelina's leg....here's the real viral pic of the week. This stunning photo of a military homecoming in Hawaii is such an unabashed display of love that it went viral after being posted on a Marine Facebook page over the weekend. It got liked more than 15,000 times and commented on 3,000 times.  It has become such a sensation that people wanted to know who these guys were. So now the guys have gone public with the real story behind the photo.

A local news station in Hawaii got the gay couple of four years to sit down and talk about how their photo shows that "love is love", as the Marine himself puts it.  What I love even more than their interview is the comment on all the hubub from a local Marine press rep: "It's your typical homecoming photo". True....not unlike an iconic photo taken in Times Square 65 years ago.

February 27, 2012

Adam Sandler Sets Record With 11 Razzie Nominations

While Hollywood is abuzz today with talk of who won (and didn't win) at last night's Academy Awards ceremony, Adam Sandler has received a record 11 nominations for the 32nd Annual Razzie Awards.  The  Razzies, which are short for the Golden Raspberry, recognize the worst movies and performances of the year. 

Sandler, who was oddly featured on last night's Oscar broadcast talking about revealing himself through his movies (!), had three films out last year which basically swept the Razzies. Sandler could also make history for his drag performance in JACK AND JILL as the first male to take home the Worst Actress award.  Take that Glenn Close!

While the Razzies are nothing to be proud of exactly, some stars have shown a great sense of humor about them, notably Halle Berry who collected her Razzie for CATWOMAN in person. The winners will be announced on April Fools Day, of course.  No word yet on whether Sandler or other multi-nominee Kristen Stewart (for the TWILIGHT films) will show.

February 25, 2012

OSCARS SPECIAL! Billy Eichner Asks New Yorkers What Movie Is In Them

This year, the Oscars have a theme...."Celebrate the Movies in All of Us".  God knows what that means.  Fortunately, the Oscars actually seem to have a sense of humor about their own theming as they asked Billy Eichner to take to the streets of New York and, in his own unique way, try to find out what movies are "in" New Yorkers. The results are hilarious as usual.  And make sure you stay til the last guy at the end....amazing!!!

February 24, 2012

Uggie Picks Best Picture...THE ARTIST!

On Jimmy Kimmel this week, they've been doing a recurring segment where Uggie, the adorable scene-stealing dog from THE ARTIST, picks Oscar winners.  His trainer lets him loose on stage among posters of the nominees with hot dogs stuck to the top and the one he goes to first is his pick.  He selected George Clooney for Best Actor and Meryl Streep for Best Actress, both favorites in their categories.

Well, last night, it was time for Uggie to pick Best Picture and, surprise, he chose THE ARTIST.  Clearly this is one smart dog as, odds are, the Academy will agree with him when the actual winner is revealed on the Oscar telecast Sunday night.  (Last summer, I beat Uggie's prediction by writing about THE ARTIST as the first potential silent Best Picture winner in 80-odd years.)  We still think Uggie deserves a nomination of his own. However there is no Oscar category for Best Supporting Pet....yet.

February 22, 2012

Governor Loses Hairstylist Over Marriage Equality Stance

A hairstylist named Antonio Darden in Santa Fe, New Mexico has declined to style the governor's hair due to her opposition to marriage equality.  Republican Susana Martinez has been outspoken against gay marriage and now that position has lost her an appointment at Darden's salon. The governor had been there three times before but when her aides called this week for another appointment, Darden (who has a partner of 15 years but cannot marry in New Mexico) took a stand and said no. Twice!  Perhaps this was due to the fact that Washington state and Maryland, which recently voted favorably on same-sex marriage legislation, had pro-equality governors backing the measures.

I wonder if Darden's simple act of "salon disobedience" could spark a larger movement in the fight for marriage equality nationwide. If the country's legislators all realized how much they depend on gay men to make them look good, maybe the political could truly become personal, forcing them to reassess their stands on this important issue.

A few years ago, there was a Paul Rudnick play here in New York called REGRETS ONLY, which dealt with a similar fictionally situation. It was about a gay male designer who is politically awakened and aims to start a boycott of his right-wing Park Avenue clients, making them realize how much they depend on gay men to keep their fabulous world afloat. Think of it; if all the florists, hairstylists, makeup artists, designers, caterers, entertainers, etc. stopped working, then maybe these folks would take notice.

February 21, 2012

Jonathan Ames And His Perseco At the WGA Awards

As the awards season grinds on, the Writers Guild presented their awards for scribes working in film/TV over the weekend at BB Kings on 42nd Street.  But unlike most of these shows, the WGA Awards was a fun and boozy affair, most evident in the unusual presentation of an award by Jonathan Ames, the creator of HBO's recently cancelled show BORED TO DEATH.

I've been a fan of Ames work for years, particularly his novel THE EXTRA MAN, and this show about a detective who advertises on Craigslist was a shaggy dog of a show set and shot in Brooklyn.  For three sublimy silly seasons, Jason Schwartzman played "Jonathan Ames" as he rambled about the city with Ted Danson (playing his stoner/mentor) getting into all sorts of trouble.

Anyway, Ames got on stage to present the award to longform drama (formerly known at TV Movie) and instead gave a stemwinder of a speech on topics ranging from the failure of his own show to effeminate audience members, all of it fueled by the wonders of perseco.  You certainly won't find this sort of drunken improv at the Oscars or even the somewhat looser Globes. But you will definitely find it when a bunch of writers in New York City get together and start drinking heavily!

February 17, 2012

NJ Assembly Passed Gay Marriage, NJ Governor To Veto It

This week, the New Jersey state legislature made history as both houses passed a bill guaranteeing marriage equality to its LGBT citizens.  It was a remarkable turnaround in a state where a similar measure went down in defeat just two years ago.  It's also a great example of how far the movement for marriage equality has come in that time...and how far it still has to go.

The big bummer in this news is that the state's Republican "governor" Chris Christie has stated unequivocally that he will veto the bill.  He has advised the good assembly men and women of his state to take the issue to the voters and that "the people" should decide such a hot button issue.  Of course, he neglects to mention that the real reason for his actions is that he basically doesn't want this law to happen on his watch as he looks ahead to a likely presidential run in 2016.

In the last couple of weeks, Republicans in both New Jersey and Washington state have shown support for marriage equality, stating that ultimately this issue is one of civil rights.  NJ Republican state senator Jennifer Beck put it quite eloquently when she voted in favor of the bill: "Our republic was established to guarantee the liberty of all people. It is our role as elected representative to protect all of the people that live in our state." So I urge you to drop Mr. Christie a line and remind him about his duty as an elected representative of "the people", as he seems to have forgotten this as he considers his political future.

February 16, 2012

The Elk Hotel On 42nd Street Closes After 87 Years

If you walk down 42nd Street today, the sleaze and vice that it was known for has mainly disappeared. But there were still some holdout vestiges of the infamous "Deuce", as it was known 30-odd years ago when it was the center of a seedy world of drugs, porn and prostitution.

One of those remnants was the Elk Hotel, a "hot-sheet" joint which rented by the hour apparently.  Well, as of this week, the Elk is closed. As reported on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, the Elk posted a closing notice on it's door on Monday.  One of my favorite things about this place was a wonderful vintage Pepsi sign that hung around the corner from its entrance, on 9th avenue.  It looked like it had been there since the 1960s...maybe even the 50s. I often pointed it out to friends when we would walk by and they were always amazed that something like that was still around. Looking down the block with that Pepsi sign, it was like taking a trip on a mini-time machine that dropped you on the set of MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

Now the Elk and it's sign will surely come down and become something more upscale, though no word on what that might be.  But with fancy condos and chain stores (hello 7-11!) crowding the "Deuce" you can be sure it will not be a cheap motel.  And you can also be sure that with its passing, 42nd Street will lose some more of its unique character...not to mention the characters who inhabited this seedy strip back in the day.

February 15, 2012

Diving Horses To Return To Atlantic City

Back in the old days, when people went to Atlantic City for things other than gambling, one of the more popular and bizarre attractions were the diving horses.  Located on the famous Steel Pier, the horses would take a leap from a platform 40 feet in the air into a tank that was just 12 feet deep.  In 1970, as people deserted Atlantic City in droves, the horses stopped falling as well.  And that was seen as a good thing.

Now, though, Anthony Catanoso, a new developer there, has big plans for the Steel Pier, formerly owned by Donald Trump. He will be bringing it back to life with new attractions, a beer garden and the old diving horses too.  And what does PETA have to say about this?  Surprisingly nothing...so far.  But the Humane Society did speak up recently, saying it was against this "inhumane and potentially abusive" use of horses.  It seems that if this attraction does actually come together, it would be an instant magnet for protestors as opposed to tourists.  But if the horses do start diving again, people are going to watch.

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day From Chloe Sevigny....Sorta

Drew Droege has put out another one of his delicious "Chloe Sevigny" videos, this one tagged to Valentine's Day.  Apparently, Chloe has an utterly unique way of pronouncing the Hallmark holiday, not to mention some strange and hilarious ways to celebrate. Here's wishing a Happy Valentine's Day to all, America! :)

February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston: An Audio Appreciation

The death of Whitney Houston over the weekend was a shock.  In response, Facebook and Twitter were filled with all kinds of tributes; of words, music and music videos from her nearly 30-year career.  I rewatched her virtuoso performance of the National Anthem durring the 1991 Super Bowl a couple of times.  20 years later, it is still stunningly beautiful. I would go so far as to say no singer has topped her take on the "Star Spangled Banner" since then. Her voice is simply astounding, clear as a bell and remarkable not only its range but sheer force.

Another video I saw posted on FB is even more remarkable and it's actually not a video at all. It is simply the vocal track from Whitney's recording of "How Will I Know", one of her first dance hits from 1986. Without the sound of the production tracks, her voice is left to stand on its own and it is amazing; clear, strong and unsullied by any autotune or excessive electronic manipulation.  This audio clip only reinforces the tragic loss of her unique talent.  

February 10, 2012

With SPACE: 2099, The Moon Is Officially Hot

There was an item today on the Hollywood Reporter that ITV is rebooting its 70's sci-fi classic SPACE: 1999.  I loved this show!  It had so much to offer; the moon exploding out of orbit, sexy beige jumpsuits, Barbara Bain, and that smokin' theme song which you could dance to if you wanted.  Oh yeah, and Martin Landau too, who was super cool and kinda cute too. This could have the potential to be the next BATTLESTAR GALACTICA if they put together a decent creative team.  We shall seee....it's in the very early stages.

Lately, it seems, the moon is having a pop culture moment. There was last summer's TRANSFORMERS which started on the dark side, where evil robots had buried themselves. Next up, we have this insane movie below called IRON SKY about Nazi's who've been hanging out on the dark side planning their revenge.  (I thought this was a fake trailer but it's a real movie!)  Also, let's not forget the 110-year-old A TRIP TO THE MOON by George Melies is getting new heat due to its central role in Scorsese's HUGO. And, of course, Newt Gingrich can't stop talking about his ludicrous plans to colonize the moon.

It's somewhat ironic that the moon is having a moment at a time when NASA has no manned space program. At all. But the moon, and our fascination with it, has always been there. Apparently, it's now due for some rediscovery, if only in a fictional way.

February 9, 2012

Former Indie Filmmaker Directs "Halftime In America"

The only commercial that seemed to get people's attention during this year's Super Bowl was "Halftime In America", an odd 2-minute ad for Chrysler that sounded like a political spot.  With 5 million plus official views, the spot has struck a chord and been a lightning rod for discussion over the last few days on everything from Clint Eastwood's political affiliation to whether it would help Chrysler sell cars.

IndieWire, like many of us in the film community, wondered who was behind the spot and it turns out the director was an indie filmmaker; David Gordon Green. I was a big fan of some of Green's earlier work, the much praise GEORGE WASHINGTON and ALL THE REAL GIRLS. Then he moved to L.A. and started making studio comedies, like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS which was fun.  But now, with this ad, he has turned back to his moody, realist roots to remarkable effect. 

IndieWire calls it something of a "second-coming" of his indie career. I wouldn't go that far....I mean, it is a car commercial! Green himself had no comment on the situation other than to say he is working on a new film which is more like his earlier work, a small romantic drama called Q. 

February 8, 2012

The New Yorker Reports On Tyler Clementi's Suicide

This week, the New Yorker published a lengthy look at the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a 19-year-old Rutgers freshman who jumped off the GW Bridge in September 2010. Clementi's death, along with another highly publicized teen suicide that month, sparked the It Gets Better movement and increased awareness of "bullying" of gay and lesbian teenagers.

The New Yorker article focuses mainly on Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi.  Ravi famously spied on Clementi via webcam making out with another guy and then tweeted about his roommates' sexuality.  It is a tragic tale all around, as Ravi is now being tried on 15 counts of invasion of privacy, intimidation and harassment and could spend 5 to 10 years in jail.  Regardless of the   judicial outcome, his life will be haunted by this loss forever.

Reading the New Yorker story, the thing that struck me was the lack of communication between these two freshman who, though roommates for nearly a month, did not appear to speak to each other at all.  Legal issues aside, the real crime appears to be that they did not communicate.  There are a couple telling scenes where they are both sitting in their dorm room as they type away about each other on message boards, tweets, and IMs instead of actually speaking to one another about the issues that are coming up. And it's this lack of engagement with each other in the real world that seems to have led to an unnecessarily tragic outcome.

Clearly, Ravi is guilty of spying and then bragging about it on his Twitter account. But the true tragedy of this story and the one that seems endemic of the millennial generation is that these two roommates just did not make any attempt to communicate in real life. That to me is the real failure here and an alarming sign of the digital times as well. I hope this story serves as a strong warning to everyone buried in their electronic devices and living their lives online to look up, unplug and live your life...before it is too late.

February 7, 2012

Billy Eichner Kills It On CONAN With Super Bowl "Interviews"

Billy Eichner, one of my favorite NYC comedians, killed it on CONAN last night as a special correspondent reporting from the Super Bowl.  He basically ran around the parking lot at Lucas Oil Field, asking hardcore football fans if they were excited about seeing Madonna.  OMG--too funny!

Billy's trademark style of being too loud and too enthusiastic worked brilliantly in the Super Bowl setting.  And his insane excitement about Madonna gets some truly incredulous looks from the diehard football fans. Even better is when he gets on the football field at the end of the game and starts asking Giants players who have just won the Super Bowl what they thought of Madonna's halftime show.

In case you hadn't heard, Billy now has his own show on the Fuse network where he runs around New York City asking people insane questions and giving them money if he approves of their answers. Definitely worth watching!

February 6, 2012

Madonna Wins The Super Bowl

If you were on Twitter last night during the Big Game, the most trending topic was easily #Madonna.  Not to mention the flurry of opinions and wisecracks that filled Facebook before, during and after her much-anticipated half-time show at the Super Bowl.

Today, there are plenty of post-mortems online about her over-the-top and very entertaining 17-minute show. It has generally received great notices and rightfully so.  If Madonna knows anything after 30 some years in showbiz, it's how to put on a show!

Over at NPR.com, there was a nice appreciation of not only her half-time show but also Madonna in general.  Writer Linda Holmes remarks about the unlikely span and breadth of Madonna's career as an entertainer; one that began in 1984 with "Borderline" and has not let up since.  Holmes points out how many laughed at the Material Girl, expecting her to fade away like many of the neon-colored fads of the day. But the bottom line is that her staying power and her showmanship are remarkable by any standard.  So for all the criticism out there, you gotta admit that Madonna is still here and still putting on an incredible show.

February 3, 2012

Required Reading: THE STRANGER'S CHILD

One of my favorite contemporary novelists is British author Allan Hollinghurst.  Not only are his books exquisitely well-written (the last one garnered the Mann-Booker Prize in 2005) but they usually focus on gay characters in truly novel ways.

His latest book, THE STRANGER'S CHILD, is an epic 400-plus page look at a British family told over the course of nearly a hundred years in five distinct sections.  At the center of the book is a young Cambridge poet Cecil Valance, who has affairs with men, women and it seems just about anyone he may come into contact with.  What's most interesting about the book is how it looks at Cecil indirectly from varying perspectives, including that of his former girlfriend, lover, biographer, grand neice, etc. creating a curious mosaic of this magnetic figure and the way his unusual life affected those around him for decades to come.

The book is something of a challenging read at first in that the jumps between each section take some getting used to.  The reader is dropped into an entirely different set of circumstances and central characters which take some sorting out.  I half-wish that I had created a family tree for all the relations that come into play.  But as each section adds a new piece to the Valance family puzzle, the book grows more and more intriguing as it begins to delve into the heart of the family's secrets.

THE STRANGER'S CHILD is easily one of the best books I have read in quite some time and I can strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a great, British old-school style read. It has the qualities of a book like BRIDESHEAD and MAURICE, with a touch of the TV show DOWNTON ABBEY thrown in as well.  Surely this will end up on the BBC as a mini-series, as his last book THE LINE OF BEAUTY did (which curiously stars Dan Stevens of DOWTON). Hopefully, on this one, they will do a better job and have an appropriate budget for this epic tale of secrets and lies.

February 2, 2012

50,000 New Yorkers Arrested in 2011 For Pot Possession

Yes, you have read that statistic correctly.  The actual number of arrests for possessing under 25 grams of marijuana is 50,684 and it is up from the previous year by .6 percent. In fact, that number is more than all the arrests for marijuana possession the city made in the years between 1978 and 1996....combined.

The TIMES metro section reports on this suprising statistic today, revealing that these misdemeanor arrests cost the city an estimated $75 million dollars. In these tight budgetary times, there are certainly many useful things this money could be spent on.  It's very similar to the time/money the city wasted on harassing the Occupy protestors last year.  What is more alarming about these arrests is that the majority of them, 87% in fact, are for black or hispanics while studies consistently show that marijuana use/possession is much higher with whites.

I am usually not one to get rabble-roused but this situation truly bothers me because it's about more than drugs, it's about basic American rights (against illegal searches, for equal justice) that are being violated in New York every day for the so-called greater good. I can only hope this becomes an issue in the upcoming mayoral campaign as it's a discussion about safety vs. sanity that is long overdue in this city.

February 1, 2012

Is Anderson Cooper Coming Out For February Sweeps?

There was some heat in the blogosphere on this potential story back in mid-December, when Gawker reported that CNN's Anderson Cooper brought his longtime boyfriend to his holiday party.  A flurry of speculation followed as to a potential coming out episode that would be a part of his daytime talk show.  Since then however, there have not been any new rumors or actual facts. But now that today is February 1st and sweeps are upon us, it seems time to ask the question again and be on the lookout for more clues.

The rumors about Cooper's public coming out began last summer and then heated up in November, when the thinking was he would do it to boost ratings for that sweeps period.  His show has not been doing that great so a week-long Anderson Comes Out extravaganza would certainly garner some eyeballs.  However, Cooper has kinda/sorta been living as a gay man and is seen out on the town with his man (Ben Maisani, above in sunglasses), even though he hasn't publicly made any statement on the subject.  Kathy Griffin certainly has tried to do it for him on their New Year's specials!

Anyway, it would be nice to have Cooper make it official, as some another news anchor did recently.  And, at the least, this sort of gesture for The Gays would do a lot to make up for the embarrassing promo-mercial for Spiderman he did in the middle of CNN's New Years broadcast. That was awful!