July 31, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald Has A New Short Story Out This Week

Though he's been dead for more than 70 years, F. Scott Fitzgerald keeps cranking them out apparently.

This week's New Yorker has a short story that was previously unpublished called "Thank You For The Light". It is a very short story about a women having trouble with smoking in public and it contains some classic FSF turns of phrase. I found it delightful and somewhat contemporary given the way smoking has been demonized in today's culture.  Would he have every imagined someone today that a person could get a ticket for lighting up in Central Park?

Fitzgerald was such a prolific writer that many works of his have turned up in recent years as new to us, though they were written years ago. The great irony with this story is that he submitted it to the New Yorker back in 1936 and they rejected it.

July 30, 2012

Brilliant Doc JOBRIATH A.D. Has Its NYC Premiere At NewFest

This weekend, the NewFest screened my friend Kieran Turner's brilliant documentary JOBRIATH A.D. up at Lincoln Center.  The film takes a fascinating look at the legendary story of a singer/songwriter from the 1970s who was destined for fame as America's first out rock star.  Unfortunately, that never came to pass....

Jobriath Salisbury started out playing America's first out musical theatre star--Woof in the cast of an LA production of HAIR.  When he moved to NYC, he met famed musical manager Jerry Brandt who promised Jobriath he was going to be a huge star and set up a massive promo campaign w/Elektra Recods to make it happen. However, the public rejected Jobriath despite his talents as a singer/songwriter. It seems his extravagant ways as the "first true fairy of rock'n'roll" was a bit too ahead of the curve for the music biz in 1974. But there's a lot more to his story than this.

If you think the name Jobriath sounds a little odd, as I did watching the film, you're onto the truly interesting story behind the story.  Unlike the usual "Behind The Music" trajectory, this film takes some amazing twists and turns as it goes into who Jobriath was and who he became after his rock career fizzled in the mid-1970s. To say more would be to give away the surprises of this riveting and ultimately heartbreaking story about a talent that was lost way too soon. It is easily one of the best docs I've seen in a while and definitely worth checking out when it gets a general release next year. You can keep updated about all that by liking the film's Facebook page.

Finally, JOBRIATH A.D. got its start with a DIY Kickstarter campaign a couple years ago. So, with that in mind, I'd like to give my dear readers a gentle reminder that my own Kickstarter for BEST SUMMER EVER is in the final countdown phase....just 3 days left to reach our goal. And you can check out of FB page too.  Please help us make our goal so this movie can be at next year's NewFest. Thanks! :)

July 28, 2012

SATURDAY SPECIAL: Mr. Rogers Has A Groovy Viral Jam

PBS Digital Studios has done something very trippy; they auto-tuned Mr. Rogers and turned him into a groovy singer!  With 5 million hits and counting, it has become a viral sensation.  I loved Mr. Rogers as a kid...I love him even more as unsuspecting pop star.

July 27, 2012

No Nice Way To Say It: The Olympic Mascot Looks Like A Penis

There was a great bit on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE earlier this week about the Olympic mascot for the London Games, which officially open tonight.  There are actually two of them Wenlock and Mandeville and they are supposed to be two drops of steel, which Kimmel says appropriately "makes no sense at all".  Agreed.

When he showed an image of the one on the right (Wenlock I think?) and asked some folks walking down Hollywood Blvd. what they thought it was, the majority though it looked just like a penis.  Seriously.

This would not be the first time an Olympic mascot has caused some concern. There was the weird Izzy from the Atlanta Games, who garnered the unfortunate nickname "Sperm In Sneakers".  But with stories about all the sex going on in the Olympic Village, maybe it's totally appropriate. So let the games begin...

July 26, 2012

Warner Bros. Long History Of Violent Movies

The mass shooting at a Colorado movie theatre last week was an awful tragedy. But whenever this sort of madness erupts, there is always a great deal of national handwringing over the role that violence in the movies plays in shootings like these. Are these madmen inspired by the movies? Or are they just people who would do the same thing without the examples presented in Hollywood's films.

The NY Times today ran a interesting article on the topic from a broader perspective; that of Warner Bros. studios long-history of violent, crime-ridden films that have often been controversial.  In the 1940s and 1950s, as a bit of theatrical counterprograming, Warners specialized in gritty B/W films filled with criminals and, in some cases, based on real life crimes. The films were so violent and extreme, compared to the sunny & singing studio output of MGM and Columbia, that when the French got to see them after WWII ended they coined the term "Film Noir".

Though studios "brands" don't really exist now the way they used to in the olden days, it is interesting to note that Warners is the studio behind THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy. These three films are darker than any noir (even though they are shot in a faded, washed out color) in their twisted stories, psychologically disturbed characters, and deranged criminals, namely Heath Ledger's mad Joker who may have inspired the Colorado shooter. Nolan's trilogy already had caused a great deal of debate, even before the shooting last week. Other Warners films that have caused cultural consternation are THE MATRIX, DIRTY HARRY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, BONNIE & CLYDE and, way back in '32, I AM A FUGITIVE ON THE CHAIN GANG. However, unlike a lot of those films, the great irony in the case of THE DARK KNIGHT is that the film's hero doesn't even use a gun.

July 25, 2012

"On Location" Art Series Comes To Julius With TEAROOM

On Monday evening, I stopped by Julius, a gay bar in the west village, for an unusual art installation.  As part of On Location, a month-long site-specific visual arts event happening all over town, the film TEAROOM was being shown on a loop all night long.  TEAROOM was shot secretly behind one way-mirror in a public men's restroom in Mansfield, Ohio (pictured above) which was under investigation by police as a hotbed of sexual activity in July and August of 1962.

The film, which is about an hour long, came from the footage of a 3-week police sting that summer. Shot exactly 50 years ago, it is a striking vision of the past that's both disturbing and fascinating as the men's brazen sexual activities are seen by the shaky camera hidden in a broom closet. What I found most surprising were all the interracial hookups happening.  In this literally underground washroom, it seems that all of the usual social, economic, racial, and age barriers of that time were wiped away as all sorts of men meet to have sex in their secret bunker. The film is somewhat haunting as well since roughly half of the 70 men appearing in the film were convicted of sexual indecency and served up to a year in prison.  Some were likely institutionalized as well since, at that time "homosexuality" was considered a mental disorder.

In a great online interview, filmmaker William E. Jones talks about how he found this footage when doing research on the summer of '62 sting. The original film was in the garage of the town's former police chief. Jones grew up in Ohio, not too far from Mansfield, and for him the film has a strong personal resonance.Though the film has caused some controversy when screened, it is an essential piece of history which reminds us of the intense persecution of "homosexuality" that was endemic in mid-century America.

July 24, 2012

NetPix: Judy's Last Film I COULD GO ON SINGING

Last night, I went to the monthly Queer Art Film series at the IFC Center, co-curated by fellow filmmakers Ira Sachs and Adam Baran. They screened Judy Garland's I COULD GO ON SINGING, a film I'd heard of but never actually seen. I'm so glad I did get to see it finally, on a big screen and with a wonderful audience too.

The film is practically a documentary as Garland plays herself, an extremely talented singer/actress who has a lonely and troubled personal life. There are even scenes that mimic Garland's real life, like a semi-wobbly performance at London's famed Palladium.  The fictional story line, about a son she left to her British lover (played by longtime real life pal Dirk Bogarde) to raise, is incredibly touching without being saccharine.

There are some wonderful moments, particularly a sequence where Garland attends a boys school production of Gilbert & Sullivan. Her young son, in British stage drag, actually resembles a young Garland as he belts out the number with gusto, delighting his mother to no end. Then there is a priceless backstage scene where Garland gathers the boys around the piano (half dressed as sailors and half in drag!) for an impromptu G&S sing-a-long. You can tell that Garland is having the time of her life, surrounding by these young talented performers.  

Later, there are more dramatic and heartbreaking scenes with her son as he realizes who his true mother is and must decide what his relationship with her is going to be. A scene of Garland on the phone with the boy is beautifully written, performed and directed, done in one continuous take. The director, Ronald Neame, does a great job with Garland (who was apparently a handful on set), and really draws out what is one of her best performances.

The film was selected for the QAF series by Heather Matarazzo, the actress formerly known as "Dawn Weiner" from the indie classic WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE. There was an intensely personal Q/A afterward about how much Matarazzo was moved by the film and by Garland's raw performance in it. Matarazzo also got her start in show business quite young, at age 7, and picked the film as she related to Garland's upbringing in the biz. It was a wonderful, personal discussion about how one artist can inspire another..which is the point of this wonderful film series. Kudos to Adam and Ira for creating this unique and essential cultural conversation, now going into its 4th year.

July 23, 2012

Did London Grindr Really Crash Because Of Olympians?

I saw a headline which I initially thought was something from The Onion: "Gay Dating App Crashes As Olympic Athletes Arrive."  This was from THE SUN, a notorious tabloid in the UK. But despite the craziness of this statement, it's factually true. Grindr, a gay dating app, did crash over the weekend at the same time that athletes from around the world were arriving in London for the kickoff of the 2012 Olympics, which start this Friday.  The outage started in East London where a lot of athletes are staying.

Grindr's most popular city is London, with 350,000 users, and the speculation is that the arrival of thousands of athletes caused the system to overload. However, not all Olympians are gay.  In fact, I would argue that very few of them are....maybe 7-10% if you take the usual statistical model. It's possible it was just a busy sexy summer weekend in London and it crashed, just as the athletes happened to show up. Friends in NYC w/iPhones report that Grindr crashes/freezes are becoming more common as the service grows more popular. 

Anyway, it does make for a good headline though....and it has been racing around the internet today because of it.  

July 20, 2012

BEST SUMMER EVER Needs Your Help--Just 12 Days Left

So we've got 12 days left on our Kickstarter to raise money for BEST SUMMER EVER, my new feature film. The bad news is we've got a long way to go to make our goal. On Kickstarter, it's all or nothing and so far we have only raised about 10% of the 25k needed to start production on the film.  But fear not...we can still reach our goal. That is, if you help us out.

The beauty of crowd-funding is that all it takes is a lot of people giving a little bit to help make it happen. For instance if everyone I know on Facebook donates just $20 then our campaign is over TODAY. Done. That's it. And we can start making this movie a reality. So if you haven't helped us out, here are all the pertinent links below.  


Please give what you can and support us online by tweeting or posting about our Kickstarter w/our bitly link below. Or you can copy and share our image above too...it's prettier that way! Everything little thing you to support this little film counts...so don't underestimate the power of you. :) Thanks so much and I hope you are having the BEST SUMMER EVER!  #BSE

July 19, 2012

Boy Scouts Strip Eagle Scout Of His Rank Because He's Gay

It's been a bad week for the Boy Scouts.  They decided to continue their practice of banning "avowed homosexuals" from the organization as both leaders and scouts.  First of all, who uses the phrase "avowed homosexuals"?  Clearly this is the start of their problem.  They are stuck so far in the past it would be comical, if not for the fact that their hateful policy has such real world percussions.

Take the case of 19 year old Eagle Scout Eric Jones. He sat down to be honest (a Boy Scout trait, mind you) with his scout leader about his sexuality last weekend and he was not only asked not to return to the troop, but he was stripped of all honors earned over the last decade he had been involved in scouting.

The BSA are now taking the US military's old line, that they are not asking people their sexuality but if they are honest and open about it, then they will be asked to leave the organization.  You would think they might heed the military's example, which now encourages soldiers to be honest and not lie which was deemed damaging to morale and esprit de corps. But the Scouts would like to pretend it is the 1960s, when being an "avowed homosexual" was basically a criminal act.  Fortunately, that is no longer the case. 

It would only serve Scouting to accept the reality that has long been the case and will be in the future; there are gay men in scouting. I was one and, though it was all years before I came out, I had wonderful experiences with troop 460 in Kensington, MD. It seems wrong that they would want to deny that same experience to other young men simply because they are gay. 

July 18, 2012

20 Years Of Construction On The Gowanus Expressway

The folks over at NY1 have been doing an interesting series of reports, looking back on 20 years of NYC local news as they celebrate their 20th anniversary. There's a piece that went up today on their website about one story that hasn't changed in two decades; that of the constant road work on the Gowanus Expressway.

Anyone who has driven this awful stretch of elevated highway knows it is one of the worst traffic spots in the entire metro area and a stretch of highway that has not gotten noticeably better since 1992 (when NY1 went on the air). There have been plans floated to replace it with a tunnel but instead the city and state will continue to plow more than $700 million dollars into this overcrowded, antiquated road. Civic planning, or lack thereof, at its absolute worst. It took nearly 20 years for Boston's Big Dig--but at least that city has something to show for it!

July 16, 2012

The Lovesong Of J. Gordon Leavitt

So this is cute: an adorkable guy on Fire Island in a trendy tank plays a ukelele love song to Joseph Gordon Leavitt. In the song he refers to him as JGL which is fortunate because are all sorts of great words that rhyme with "L", as he demonstrates in this 3 minute song. At the end, his friends say that this will get him on THE ELLEN SHOW. Well, with the new and final DARK NIGHT opening this Friday, starring JGL of course, they just might be right.  5,000 hits today and counting....

July 12, 2012

Was The Summer of '82 The Best Summer Ever For Movies?

There was a piece online this week from CBS This Morning where film critic David Edelstein of New York magazine called the summer of '82 Hollywood's Best Summer Ever for movies.  If you look at the lineup, you just might agree; E.T., POLTERGEIST, STAR TREK II: WRATH OF KAHN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, ROCKY III and even TRON.  He says it was the last summer of big movies with personal themes before the marketeers took over. He is not alone in his assessment.

In fact, down in Texas at one of my favorite local movie houses The Alamo (where I've had a few films play myself!), they are doing a summer retrospective of the summer of '82.  They have these movies playing on their original release dates even.  What a fun idea!  Anyway, you can watch the segment below and post your comments about whether you agree with Edelstein.

July 9, 2012

Help Us Spread The Word About The BEST SUMMER EVER

It's been almost 10 days since we started our Kickstarter campaign for my new feature film BEST SUMMER EVER. Much thanks to all our early supporters who have given so generously since--we've had more than a few major donors at the $100 level and above which has been amazing!  But now we need hundreds of donors below that level for this whole thing to work. So I'm asking those who have supported BSE to help us get the word out on social media...where we now have a great presence: we are live on TWITTER, FACEBOOK and even TUMBLR.

So you can join in all the Internet fun AND really help us out by following and "Liking" us too.  But even more helpful than that is making your friends/followers aware of our fundraising here on Kickstarter by tweeting or posting kickstarter URL to your twitter or FB status update:  

The key to crowd sourcing is growing our crowd...ie; you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on. So if you can do this sometime in the next day or two, that would be major!  So please alert your peeps about this fun movie....it won't get made unless we get it out to more people who can donate, especially at the lower levels. 100 folks donating 10 bucks = a cool 1K! So please help us out as we spread the word about BSE... and I hope you have the Best Summer Ever! :)

July 7, 2012

SATURDAY SPECIAL: Ab Fab Workout From The 80s Is Kinda Dirty

OK--despite what this looks like, this is not porn.  Seriously. It is some crazy exercise video when everyone with a video camera and a studio was making exercise videos (post-Fonda).  But in this unique example of the genre, the music, men and moves are all kinda porny. If only MAGIC MIKE was this sexy, I feel like I might have got my money's worth! LoL  But seriously, this is the weirdest and sexiest thing I've seen on the Internets in a while. Enjoy and work those abs!

July 6, 2012

An Amazing Roller Coaster And A Flying Nun

This week, the TIMES did a lovely video piece on the roller coaster out at Holiday World amusement park called The Voyage. This newer "woodie" is consistently ranked high on the list of best old school coasters in the country.  As many know, I am a roller coaster fanatic and would love to check this one out.  Unfortunately, it's in the middle of Indiana and I don't have a car. :(

Anyway, there's also an odd interview at the end of the piece with a nun who is also a bit of a coaster addict.  Sister Michelle Sinkhorn is a Benedictine who is something of a modern day flying nun, given the number of times she had ridden The Voyage (8 in one day once!). You can read more about Sister Michelle on the monastery's profile page -- thoroughly modern Sr. Michele!

July 5, 2012

AUGUST Is Now Available On iTunes

Last summer, I had a few posts about a feature film that I co-wrote/produced called AUGUST. It was directed by my friend Eldar Rappaport and is a steamy love triangle set in Los Angeles during a heatwave. Well, now that it's summer again and almost August, it seems the appropriate time for the film to get its commercial release.

This week, AUGUST is available for rental or purchase via iTunes; to rent its $4 and to buy its $14. For those who like to have an actual DVD, that will be available later this month via Amazon and Wolfe Video, our US distributor. So check it out this week because, as the temps rise, it's a great time to stay in the comfort of your own home and watch a hot new movie. Thanks for your support!  And stay tuned for more news on my new feature BEST SUMMER EVER....

July 2, 2012

Anderson Cooper Makes It Clear: "The Fact Is, I'm Gay."

After months of rumors that CNN anchor and talk show host Anderson Cooper was going to officially come out on TV, he did it today but not in a way anyone quite expected.  In response to a question from friend Andrew Sullivan regarding an EW piece about how coming out by public figures has changed, Cooper sent an email in which he states that he is gay and it's not something he has been trying to hide.  In fact, if you are a gay man living in NYC, this is not news as he is seen out and about and his boyfriend has run two popular gay bars in the East Village.  Then there's the whole Cathy Griffin thing too, of course! ;)

But, in the email to Sullivan, Cooper gives a somewhat reasonable explanation for his longtime public silence on the matter; the fact that as a journalist, the less a subject knows about you the better. Especially when you are in a war zone. These days though, Cooper is not traveling the globe as much so maybe he figured it was time to be crystal clear about the matter. Also, given all the attention to gay teen suicide and bullying, he says he wanted to people to know that being gay something he is happy about and not ashamed of. 

One thing for sure, I can tell you personally that people are obsessed with Cooper in general, especially on the Internets. The most popular post on my blog is about him and his mother with more than 200x the number of hits an average story gets. I'm sure this one will go through the roof too. But I think that's a good thing. And I have to say, I think his decision to come out via a thoughtful, eloquently worded letter to a good friend is really better than it being a very special episode of his talk show.  Congrats to Cooper for keeping it classy while also being out, loud and proud.