January 31, 2009

RENT: Filmed Live On Broadway



On Feb. 3, 2009 the RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway DVD will be released. It captures the final performance of one of the most iconic pieces of musical theatre. The show was filmed live at the Nederlander Theatre NYC on Sept. 7, 2008. Starring Will Chase as Roger, Adam Kantor as Mark, Michael McElroy as Collins, Tracie Thoms as Joanne, Justin Johnston as Angel, ReneƩ Elise Goldsberry as Mimi, Eden Espinosa as Maureen and original cast members Rodney Hicks, who steps into the role of Benny, and Gwen Stewart as the "Seasons of Love" soloist.

The dvd has a lot of extras with the final curtain call, the Rent alumni singing Seasons of Love, the final lottery and it's craziness but the best of all is the feature of the Wall. It's the famous wall of the Nederlander Theatre where Rentheads - famous and not so famous - showing their love for the show, left their signatures.

(photo from Playbill.com)
January 30, 2009

Mabuhay!





This past Wednesday's episode of Lost (entitled "Jughead") opens with Desmond running frantically through a seaside town, and I distinctly hear two girls speaking Tagalog. Desmond is screaming for an Efren Salonga, and eventually finds him playing dice. Desmond asks if he's the doctor. Dr. Salonga goes with Des to the boat and we find a pregnant Penny in the midst of labor. Dr. Efren safely delivers a baby boy they name Charlie. (Awww...I hope it's a tribute to Dominic Monaghan's beloved character Charlie and not Penny's nefarious dad Charles Widmore.)

So does this make Charlie Widmore Hume a Filipino citizen? Maybe Penny and Desmond will retire in a Philippine island.

(Thanks to this blog and this one for the photos!)

Hot Hot Hot



Take your pick! AfterElton.com made a list of the hottest actors in theatre. We've always heard about People magazine doing their hottest list of Hollywood actors so bravo to AfterElton for coming out with New York City's finest! See if your fav made it by clicking here.

(photo from AfterElton.com)

The greatest fairy tale never told

Brian D'Arcy James was on the Today Show last weekend. The cast album of Shrek the Musical will be available 03 March 2009.

The Little Movie That Could


It's the little movie that could much like Little Miss Sunshine the other year. Now, however, Slumdog Millionaire is the front runner for this year's Academy Awards. It's been winning most if not all the award shows out there.

I saw it Monday and loved it! The plot is very clever winding it's way around the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The hero, Jamal, a poor young man from the slums of Mumbai becomes a contestant on the show. He is then accused of cheating because he knew all. What's clever about it is that the audience finds out how he knows the various answers through flashbacks into his life in the slums. What a great way to have a story unfold kudos to Danny Boyle and co-director Loveleen Tandan from the book of Vikas Swarup and script by Simon Beaufoy. I love plots that have a backdoor to the story it's much more engaging that way. Another thing that I loved in the movie was that the director and script writer weren't scared of showing the gritty streets and slums of Mumbai. It makes the movie more realistic and "in the moment" I think.

A co-worker in fact commented to me that it was fascinating to see the slum scenes because it's such a different life. She even asked me if people do live like that. To which I told her that's not just in India but in developing countries like the Philippines too. Now isn't it a great when a movie gets an audience to see another way of life? It does provoke people to think and puts some perspective into their life.

While the movie showed Jamal's difficult upbringing, it is however uplifting in the end. Maybe that's what we need now......the triumph of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Edit (1/30 10:45 am): I forgot to mention that one of the outstanding features of this movie is the score by A.R. Rahman. It is a perfect complement to the movie. Movie scenes are made more exciting by the Bollywood-ish music. It's great!

January 29, 2009

Recession Special Double Bill

The winner of the 2008 NY International Fringe Festival for Outstanding Play Sailor Man will begin preview performances tonight at 8 PM in the Green Room at the Theatres in Greenwich Village, NYC. It will be followed by Rumspringa. The double bill opens officially on 11 February 2009. Tickets are also available through Telecharge, $39 for both shows or $25 for one.

According to the press release, Sailor Man is "a darkly comic tribute to the exploits of a beloved spinach-eating seaman. Created by Ryan Iverson and Scott Peterman and directed by Peter James Cook with fight choreography by Jacob Grigolla-Rosenbaum, the fast, furious and bloody hour of spinach-fueled mayhem features the writers in the respective roles of Sailor Man and The Brute with Lauren Blumenfeld as Olive. Startlingly violent, it serves up Saturday morning cartoons, Tarantino-style."

Rumspringa, "
written and directed by Peter Zinn and featuring Jim Boerlin, C. S. Drury, Kirsty Meares and Micky Sumner, is a dark comedy that explores the desire in all of us to experience life outside our ‘normal’ lives. Several generations face their own lives during a Rumspringa rave in an Indiana cornfield filled with rebellious Amish teenagers."




A Sister Act



Well, I was trying to catch up with my movie viewing and saw Doubt last Sunday with my friend Abbi. We had both seen the play and loved it. My observation for the movie version is that the cast were as formidable as the original actors on stage. Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis were all on even footing in terms of acting in this version. I did like the movie. However, I did find myself feeling that the Sr. Aloysius in the movie was a lot meaner than the play. In the play you'd get the feeling that she was stern and concerned, not here. It's like she was out to get someone all the time. I didn't get that at all in the play. But I'm not sure if that's because of Ms. Streep's interpretation of the role or due to the direction.

This brings me to this point: as a movie audience one is spoon fed a lot in terms of what you get to see. I remember the play didn't even show the child involved nor any of the school children and the convent life. You only got the thoughts and point of views of the main characters via the dialogue and certain scenes. You don't get the whole picture but only bits and pieces. It was up to you to put everything together. I remember the whole time during the play my thoughts kept constantly vacillating between maybe he did it and maybe he's innocent......even to the very end. The movie showed more.....classroom scenes, the convent life, how Fr. Flynn treats the child, how the child is treated in school and as a result, this viewing wasn't as impactful. I was sure he (Father Flynn) did something. To me, this time at least, he was guilty. I don't know maybe it's just me but being spoon fed like this gives me less of a challenge as an audience. But don't get me wrong the movie is still really good. It's just has a different feel to it.

(photo from yahoo movies)
January 28, 2009

And then there's another one

After the success of Spring Awakening, Duncan Sheik will be writing a new Broadway musical based on his new album, Whisper House. Here's the first video from the album, a song entitled Earthbound Starlight. You can visit Duncan Sheik's website for more information.

Diary of Madame Rose



New York Magazine has this awesome article about Patti Lupone's last day in Gypsy. It chronicles the events of the final show with a slideshow of photos. The article is called Rose's Last Turn. Make sure to check it out!

(photo from New York Magazine)

Updike at Rest


Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike passed away yesterday at age 76.

Thriller on Broadway


I heard about this on TV the other day, that the Nederlander Organization has plans to produce a Broadway musical based on Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. The 1982 album remains the biggest-selling album ever.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall for the auditions.
January 27, 2009

Broadway 101

Seth Rudetsky's Broadway 101 will be on 09 March 2009 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. It is a benefit for the National Foundation Facial Reconstruction. You can email Emily at events@nffr.org for more information. Here's a clip from 2008 featuring Julia Murney. Note: Last year, it was held on Pinky's birthday. This year, it'll be on my birthday. How cool is that Master Seth?!

CD signings

from Sh-K-Boom /Ghostlight Records for Manhattanites:

Don't miss the casts of two of our favorite Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight cast albums at Borders this week!

CD Signing & Performance: THE FANTASTICKS

When:
Wednesday, January 28 @ 12pm
Where: Borders Time Warner Center - 10 Columbus Circle, NYC
How: Just show up! The event is free but space is limited, so show up early.


Get The Fantasticks Cast Album


CD Signing & Performance: ALTAR BOYZ

When:
Thursday, January 29 @ 12pm
Where: Borders Time Warner Center - 10 Columbus Circle, NYC
How: Just show up! The event is free but space is limited, so show up early.

Get the Altar Boyz Cast Album
January 26, 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Happy New Year to our Chinese friends!

F/N


I was so disappointed to have missed Frost/Nixon during its New York run. At least Ron Howard gave us the film adaptation with its original West End and Broadway stars. Frank Langella and Michael Sheen give masterful performances as the disgraced ex-president and the flamboyant talk show host who got Richard Nixon to admit he let down the American people. Was that gotcha journalism?
I never saw the original interviews so to watch parts of it now onscreen made for a totally engrossing film-viewing experience. Peter Morgan's script is so funny, given justice by an able supporting cast (Kevin Bacon as Nixon's loyal aide Jack Brennan, Sam Rockwell as an anti-Nixon author and researcher, Matthew MacFayden as producer John Birt and Oliver Platt as ABC exec Bob Zelnick).

But the film obviously belongs to its stars. To see Mr. Sheen's David Frost desperately trying to get financial backing for the interviews and save his career, bungling his way through the initial interviews but eventually triumphing in their verbal tussles was captivating. Frank Langella's portrayal of 'Tricky Dick' was equally compelling. His attempts to throw off his adversary before each interview were hilarious. He managed to make lonely, complex and morally ambiguous Nixon a sympathetic figure. After inauguration week, I couldn't help but think of the unpopular president we just said goodbye to, and if or how his image can be rehabilitated by the passage of time. Mr. Nixon's ignominious presidency never did.

Kindof-a-spoiler: It was probably artistic license, but it's fun to think that even former US presidents are not immune to drunk dialing.
January 25, 2009

Something Blue



Want to get a clearer picture of Lizzie's fine eyes? Well, the Blu-ray version of BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth will be released April 14, 2009. Apparently from the fan reviews in the UK, which got the Blu-ray version last year, the colors are crisper and definitely clearer than the dvd version.......and that is a happy thought indeed!

(photo from Amazon.com)
January 23, 2009

Patti Rocks


Patti Lupone has been cast as the mother of 30 Rock's Frank (played by Judah Friedlander), according to Entertainment Weekly.

I hope she becomes a recurring character, maybe even have an encounter with Emmy-winning Elaine Stritch's Mrs. Donaghy.
January 22, 2009

Does This Young Lady Know The Master?



Does the painting on the left look familiar? It's from the BBC/A&E production of Pride and Prejudice (which we here at Stage-Notes affectionately call P & P). Remember the scene when Elizabeth Bennet played by the wonderful Jennifer Ehle came to Pemberly with her Aunt and Uncle? The caretaker toured them around the great house and they came to this painting of Mr. Darcy (played by the handsome Colin Firth). Mrs. Gardner then asks Lizzie if the painting resembles the the original. To which the caretaker asks Ms. Bennet "Does this young lady know the master?" Well, the said painting fetched 12,000 pounds at Bonhams in London. It was a prop commissioned for the BBC series. The painting was accompanied by this note by Colin Firth "Mr. Darcy has weathered better than most of us". Full story here.

(Photo from www.thefirstpost.co.uk)

What Christine Ebersole did for Love of Colbert


Click here to see Christine Ebersole say goodbye to the Bush administration on The Colbert Report's 500th show last 19 January 2009.

You can catch La Ebersole at Cafe Carlyle until 31 January 2009.
January 21, 2009

Cheno Weighs In

Kristin Chenoweth weighs in on the Jeremy Piven mercury poisoning.

January 20, 2009

The American President

The orderly transfer of power remains as overwhelmingly uplifting as ever. (I also send my prayers and healing thoughts to Senator Ted Kennedy.)

Promise of a New Day

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Congratulations and good luck to President Barack Hussein Obama! God bless you and these United States of America.


Peeved Piven

Jeremy Piven's publicist released a statement in response to the Grievance filed by Speed the Plow producers with Actors' Equity:

"The claims made by the producers of Speed-the-Plow are absurd and outrageous. Mr. Piven's serious medical condition has been well documented by multiple physicians. He withdrew from the play due to medical necessity on the advice of his doctors, after he was hospitalized and warned by his physicians that enforced rest was necessary in order to avoid serious medical problems, including a heart attack. His symptoms included extreme fatigue, spacial problems, difficulty remembering his lines, difficulty maintaining his balance, and an alarmingly low resting heart rate. Mr. Piven followed his doctors' advice, although his forced withdrawal from the show was an enormous personal disappointment since it was a life-long dream to perform on Broadway.

Although the Producers had an opportunity to have Mr. Piven examined by their own physician, they never did so. The results of such an examination would have undoubtedly corroborated the conclusions of Mr. Piven's treating physicians and would have confirmed the medical necessity of his departure from the show.

It is ironic that the producers have filed a Grievance against Mr. Piven, since if anyone has legal claims relating to this matter, it is Mr. Piven. Among other things, the production failed to pay his required compensation and he has been defamed in the media by their false accusations."In a Dec. 18 statement the play's producers gave a statement regarding the Piven exit, "We have been advised by Jeremy Piven's medical representatives that he is seriously ill and is unable to fulfill his contractual obligation to Speed-the-Plow. Consequently, he has left the production ten weeks early."

Full article can be found in Broadwayworld.com

On a related note, the geniuses at All That Chat created a Jeremy Piven parody song called FISH (sung to ZIP which is a Rodgers and Hart song). It's very funny!

January 19, 2009

Solid as Barack

Thanks to Cecile for sending the link. It's the real Ashford and Simpson singing "Solid as Barack" on CNN.

We Shall Overcome

Jon and I went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta back in 1997. This is Dr. King's final resting place. (I cut myself out of the picture; there's usually water surrounding the gravesite but it was dry on the day of our visit.)
This is the "Behold" monument, inspired by the ancient African ritual of raising a newborn to the heavens as the following words are recited: "Behold the only thing greater than yourself."


An exhibit commemorating the 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to the Montgomery state capitol. To this day I haven't forgotten a quote from a woman marcher: "My feet are tired, but my soul is rested."
The lobby of The King Center. There are exhibits on Dr. King, Coretta Scott-King and of course, Mahatma Gandhi.
January 17, 2009

The Doctor Is In The House

NPH with the SNL orchestra performing the theme of Doogie Howser

Dan Radcliffe takes the Initiative

Thanks Broadwayworld!



You can watch the full episode on NBC. Mr. Radcliffe was so funny and articulate.
January 16, 2009

A Fishy Tale



If you follow the theatre boards, there has been a lot of talk (and indignation from theatre geeks) about Jeremy Piven's mercury overdose and his sudden pull out from his Broadway Play, Speed the Plow. He appeared yesterday in Good Morning America to explain his side. Now, the National Fisheries Institute posted their rebuttal of his statements from the said interview. Check out the video above.

Furthermore, the producers of the play have filed a grievance with Actors' Equity. That story can be found here.

Reflect the Rainbow

When I first saw this commercial, I wasn't quite sure if the guy was speaking Filipino. Maybe he needs the Skittles for anger management.

January 15, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson


New York Governor David Paterson was correct in calling it a miracle on the Hudson. How else to explain the fact that a US Airways pilot calmly landed his disabled plane on the Hudson River on one of the coldest days of the year after it hit a flock of birds and saved all 155 people on board? The sight of a low-flying airplane in NYC is nerve-wracking enough. I can't imagine what the passengers felt or thought as their pilot told them to brace for impact. We hear the flight attendants' instructions all the time: in the event of a water landing, etc. Who would have thought it would actually happen, especially in the Big Apple? Commuter ferries came to the rescue within minutes of the emergency landing. Kudos to Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, co-pilot Jeff Skiles and the rest of the crew!

No Bow for this Sensei


Now my gi is in a knot! Jackie Chan is reportedly in final talks to play the role of Mr. Miyagi in a remake of The Karate Kid starring Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Nobody can step into the iron clogs and robes of the elegant and dignified Pat Morita, who was Oscar-nominated for his performance. The film that made a geeky heartthrob out of Ralph Macchio and also made me want to be a martial artist is going to be ruined forever. An outrage and a travesty!
January 14, 2009

I am Mr. Roarke, your host

I remember watching Fantasy Island with my mother when I was growing up. Who could forget Ricardo Montalban, as the enigmatic and urbane Mr. Roarke? He passed away this morning at age 88.

TKTS








More photos of the new TKTS booth in Times Square, daytime edition.
January 13, 2009

It made my day


Mystic River. Million Dollar Baby. The remarkable Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. The list of Clint Eastwood's filmmaking achievements keeps growing. I never saw Clint's old Dirty Harry movies or westerns, but I am increasingly impressed by his skills as a writer, director, producer, even composer. Though not quite up to par with the other films, Gran Torino still manages to make you think while being entertained and leave you feeling like you've been punched. Though not quite as hard as the other movies.

I've wanted to see his latest film since I saw its trailer. Mr. Eastwood had me at "Get off my lawn!" He plays Walt Kowalski, a racist, patriotic and grumpy old man living in a more culturally diverse but deteriorating neighborhood. This growling Korean war veteran alienated from his own children strikes up a friendship with the Hmong family next door, even mentoring and becoming a father figure to young Thao after saving him from a gang initiation. We all know that beneath that gravelly voice and gruff bigoted exterior lies a soft chewy center, searching for redemption and peace. Father Janovich (Christopher Carley) is the young priest who's trying to bring the cynical widower back into the fold of the Church. As things escalate between Walt and the gangbangers, you can almost guess the inexorable conclusion.

Forget political correctness: the film is peppered with bad language and racial invectives (some of which I hadn't even heard before), but the results are always funny though slightly discomfiting. (Mr. Eastwood has a real talent for delivering one-liners.) It is a glimpse into America's changing landscape, brought about by immigration, multiculturalism, tolerance or intolerance, even Detroit's failing auto industry. But he didn't make a heavy handed movie about racism and the film ends on a hopeful note. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Kowalski: that somebody you shouldn't have messed with in the first place.
January 12, 2009

Goodbye Harold Morgan!


Steven Gilborn, who played Ellen Degeneres's well-meaning dad on her sitcom Ellen, passed away 02 January from cancer. He was 72 years old.

It is Written

Golden Globes recap:

Hurray for Slumdog Millionaire winning all those awards! Star Dev Patel was obviously very moved. He's a young cutie.
  • Finally! Kate Winslet won! Twice!
  • Tina Fey gave one of the best speeches. And Tracy Morgan of course being the new spokesperson for 30 Rock since Obama's presidential victory.
  • Congratulations to the comeback kid Mickey Rourke! Now I really want to see The Wrestler.
  • Funny when Bruce Springsteen said this was the only time he'll ever be nominated with Clint Eastwood.
  • I also loved In Bruges and although I wanted Brendan Gleeson to win, Colin Farrell was so touched by his victory and gave a gracious speech.
  • Best dressed? Kate Winslet, Eva Longoria, Laura Linney, Tina Fey, Eva Mendes, Jane Krakowski, Sandra Bullock, Salma Hayek, Christina Applegate
  • Worst dressed? Renee Zellweger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Sting and Miss Golden Globes Rumer Willis. Not that I'm a fashionista, but I'm just sayin'...
  • Now Oscar watch begins...
    January 11, 2009

    Save Broadway on SNL with NPH

    I would have loved to see NPH as Mark Cohen.

    Stars are Out Tonight


    After last year's low-key presentation due to the writers' strike, Hollywood glitz and glamour will be back at tonight's Golden Globe Awards ceremony. The show airs from 8-11 PM Eastern on NBC.

    Gimme gimme Sutton


    Sutton Foster's debut album WISH is coming out 17 February! You can send an email to sutton@sh-k-boom.com if you'd like to be alerted when this debut album is available for pre-order exclusively from Sh-K-Boom/ Ghostlight. Sutton is currently on Broadway playing Princess Fiona on Shrek the Musical.

    According to Wikipedia, the CD liner notes will contain Ms. Foster's artwork.
    January 10, 2009

    NPH at SNL

    Neil Patrick Harris is hosting Saturday Night Live for the first time tonight! Liza Minnelli will also make a cameo/walk-on appearance. Set your DVRs/VCRs.

    January 9, 2009

    No Barack-nophobia here

    Holy webslinger Batman! President-Elect Barack Obama in a special edition of this week's Spiderman! Our friendly neighborhood hero comes to the rescue when an impostor tries to take Mr. Obama's place as the leader of the free world.
    January 8, 2009

    Something's Coming



    West Side Story had its out-of-town opening night at Washington D.C.'s National Theatre last night. Click here for more of Broadway World's coverage. Argentina's Josefina Scaglione is Maria to Matt Cavanaugh's Tony. Nice to see Karen Olivo and Curtis Holbrook in the cast.
    The show moves to Broadway's Palace Theatre for previews 23 February. It opens 19 March.

    Goodbye Commisioner Gordon!


    Rest in peace Pat Hingle. The Tony-nominated actor was best known for playing Gotham's Commisioner Gordon in the earlier Batman movies. He passed away January 3rd after a two year battle with myelodysplasia.
    January 7, 2009

    D list, schme-list


    Kathy Griffin and AC "Silver Fox" 360 has now become my New Year's Eve tradition. Who needs Seacrest?

    If you didn't see it in last season's My Life on the D-List, Ms. Griffin was not satisfied with her two Emmy Awards and went on a shameless quest to get nominated for a Grammy. She has done it, earning a nod for her comedy album! The Grammys will be awarded on 8 February at the Staples Center, to be telecast on CBS.

    If you want to see her live, she'll be in Madison Square Garden on the 19th, 20th and 21st of February.
    January 6, 2009

    The Silver Fox and the Puppydentiables

    CNN's Anderson Cooper moderating a puppydential debate to find the country's new First Dog:


    If anyone knows where we could watch the whole "debate", please feel free to share.

    Fabulous at 4-0

    It's a bit late, but Happy Birthday Jon! You will always be Kim to me.

    Defying Inequality


    The Broadway and Chicago companies of Wicked will host 2 benefit shows dubbed Defying Inequality next Monday, 12 January to support 4 non-profit organizations working for the gay and lesbian community's civil rights: the Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality California, Garden State Equality, and Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force.

    Click here for more information.
    January 5, 2009

    A Blizzard of Closings On Broadway

    Christopher Isherwood of the NY Times did an excellent and insightful article about the current closings on the Great White Way. It's a really good read and as a theatre fan will make you more nostalgic about the show closings this month. In fact, I share his sentiments when he wrote this:

    "This year, as you watch the lights dim on a performance that has meant something to you, that has made something happen in your heart or your head, you may see the real human being through the mask of the fictional characters a little more vividly. The chorus kid with the megawatt smile, the all-but-legendary musical diva with a devoted following, the up-and-coming young leading man — when the curtain falls they will all return to being actors anxiously awaiting their next engagement, at a scarily perilous time for everybody. So keep clapping, please, and a “Bravo!” or two would surely be appreciated."

    So click on he link and read Big Finale, All Together Now: A Month of Broadway Closings.

    Here's a slide show of curtain calls from the NY Times.

    Another Day

    "Cause everything is RENT", RENT kicks off its six-month national tour tomorrow 06 January in Cleveland featuring original cast members Anthony Rapp, Gwen Stewart and Adam Pascal. Click here for TheaterMania's video feature on the touring group.

    Green Girl serenading Funny Girl

    Idina Menzel paying tribute to Barbra Streisand by singing "Don't Rain on my Parade" at the Kennedy Center Honors.



    Read here about Seth Rudetsky secretly coaching Ms. Menzel for her performance.
    January 4, 2009

    Milk's the one

    Jon previously blogged about the movie Milk starring Sean Penn (as you've never seen him before) in the role of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California. I finally got to see it yesterday and I agree with Jon's opinions about this powerful and moving film. It is an honest yet funny look at the life of this courageous man who fought not just for gay rights, but as he said in the movie, for the "Us-es"---minorities, the elderly, the disabled, children. Any fight for civil rights is a fight for human rights. A very timely film in light of Barack Obama's election to the highest office in the land on a platform of hope and change, and the passage of Prop 8 in California.
    January 3, 2009

    Misunderestimated



    I went to see W. on New Year's Day, expecting a hatchet job from Oliver Stone. While not exactly flattering, it was still a sympathetic portrayal of our outgoing President. It showed him in his ne'er-do-well, boozing, womanizing younger days, constantly seeking George H.W. Bush's approval (played intimidatingly by James Cromwell, who didn't even try to do the voice. Even I was afraid of crossing Poppy Bush!). The early days are interspersed with Cabinet member meetings in the lead-up to the Iraq War. We see him meet Laura (Elizabeth Banks), find God as a born-again Christian, and become the leader of the free world.

    Josh Brolin gave a terrific performance as the Commander-in-Chief; not a parody of the man, but an all too human MAN. Sure there are the usual Bushisms, grammatical gaffes, the disastrous press conference, the choking incident. But Mr. Stone didn't present the 43rd Prez as the spawn of the devil. He's just misinformed, naive, and not as well-intentioned or politically astute as he might have thought he was.

    There are some Iraq war footage, and the scene where the First Couple visit the injured soldiers was distressing. One can only imagine what the man who sent these kids to war was thinking as he personally witnessed their agony and sacrifice. The movie is supposedly well-researched, and it was fascinating to see dramatizations of conversations and arguments for and against the second Gulf War between a cautious Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright), George Tenet (Bruce McGill), and a seemingly benevolent Karl Rove (Toby Jones), war-mongering Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn) and Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss). I half-wanted Cheney to rub his hands together as he outlined his plans for world domination. Thandie Newton's Condoleeza Rice is the only weak link in the strong supporting cast.

    This was an engaging, funny film that told the tale of a man with daddy issues who overreached, got lost and became one of the most divisive and controversial presidents of the USA. History may yet judge Dubya less harshly...this film certainly did. And all he ever wanted was to play baseball. And do better than Jeb.

    (photo from here)
    January 2, 2009

    Jetted off to Heaven


    What a horrible start to the new year for the Travolta family. John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston lost their 16 year old son Jett today after apparently suffering a seizure in the bathroom. The family was vacationing in the Bahamas.

    Our hearts and minds are with the Travoltas.

    Five, Six, Seven, Eight

    Getting fit for the new year? If you live in Manhattan, you can exercise the Billy Elliot way! Crunch is offering Broadway Dance Series classes, including BE. Actual cast members teach participants choreography from the show using music from the original cast album.

    By the way, for anyone who's seen the film version of Doubt: Was the boy playing Ralph the same Frank Dolce that's one of the Michaels in BE?
    January 1, 2009

    Happiness

    I love the song Happiness from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Here's Kristin Chenoweth's version. Nice lyrics about finding things to be thankful and happy for as we say goodbye to 2008 and welcome 2009.

    Happy New Year!


    May we all have a happy, healthy and blessed 2009!

    (Photos of a fireworks display along Manila Bay from Reuters. )
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