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Entries in Stephen Sondheim (6)


Sondheim to Streep "Don't F*** It Up!"

I am normally loathe to share soundbyte interviews from TV  -- especially when I have full delicious ones to offer with a whole slew of actors (soon, darlings, soon) -- but this little bit with Meryl Streep explaining what it's like to play Violet Weston is choice. The 'shiv in her hair' reference is perfect. But mostly I dug her enthusiasm about Into the Woods. Hey I'd squeal too if Sondheim wrote a new song for me!

He only asks that Meryl not fuck it up. (That's all we ask too) Which delights her. Because Meryl is delightful. 

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Top Ten: Song Titles That Should Be Movies

This week's top ten list is dedicated to James T, one of my fav readers and twitterers, who asked me some time ago to "pick song titles that you'd have liked to be the titles of movies that should exist." I couldn't resist the odd wildly random challenge and given that I recently hosted a karaoke party (don't ask) I'm in the mood. So here goes...This list was actually hard to make because so many songs -- even great ones -- have totally generic titles.  


Next year can we have Fiona Apple title all the movies that come out?

Runners up: ""Extraordinary Machine, Hot Knife" or any of her album titles -Fiona Apple... and can we talk her into trying acting?, "Please Don't Make Me Too Happy" - Christine Lavin, "Backwoods Barbie" - Dolly Parton cuz she loves to write about herself so why not a fun biopic?

10 "Do You Wanna Funk" -Sylvester
And can it be a serious yet fun movie about discos and clubbing in the 1970s?  54 was so lame.

09 "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen
But only if it's a romantic comedy that comes out in 2013 (like, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun would be a stupid title for a movie now but it was just right back in 1985!) . And yes I sang this at karaoke. Don't judge.


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Cast This! Rob Marshall and "Into the Woods"

As frightening... as bewildering... as wrong as it is to say after a decade of breakthroughs (Moulin Rouge!), critical triumphs (Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and box office hits (Chicago, Dreamgirls, Hairspray) and problematic but Oscar nominated efforts (Nine, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera) ... the movie musical is still in trouble. It probably will be until another Vincente Minnelli or Bob Fosse arrives on the scene, someone who understands and breathes and trusts the very cinematic language of the musical. Until then we'll get bored directors detouring or novices who think it might be "fun" to try one... or Rob Marshall.

Will no young director challenge Rob Marshall as King of the Musicals?

Stage turned film director Rob Marshall was initially seen as something of a savior of the form when Chicago (2002) became a smash hit and Best Picture winner. It had been 34 years since a movie musical had had that honor. But his musical follow up Nine (2009) proved a massive flop and a target of critical derision. Though I thought it was better than it got credit for being (how could it not be given the vitriol?) in tandem with Chicago it revealed too little range and an inherent distrust of the form he had been handed, without competition, to rule; the music in both films emerged on sound stages as hallucinations or performative fantasy. His two subsequent non-musicals (Memoirs of a Geisha and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) were much worse, with listless dramatics and overstuffed weightless business for plot. Nevertheless, Hollywood logic prevails. Disney, looking at the colossal gross of On Stranger Tides, has obviously forgiven Marshall for Nine's red ink and rewarded him with the reigns of the film version of a bonafide masterpiece, Stephen Sondheim's twisted fairy tale classic Into the Woods. Never mind that I could have directed On Stranger Tides (it would have been all about the mermaids and they would have drowned Captain Jack in the first half hour) and it would still have been a top grosser. In Hollywood you get credit for blockbuster grosses even if you are obviously replaceable since anyone helming a long running franchise will produce a similar size hit. Audiences are lemmings when it comes to those big franchises. 

So though I weep that Into the Woods isn't getting a world class auteur, and I shudder most of all to think of those glorious songs sung by people who can't handle the intricacies of the music -- Marshall casts for stardom first even if they can't sing and Sondheim obviously writes only for great singers who can act -- we should try and stay positive. Let's play...

Bernadette Peters leads the cast of the original INTO THE WOODS (1987)


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Til Death Do Us Link

Frontal Cortex on the Auteur myth and the genius of Hollywood's Studio System using auteur poster boy Alfred Hitchcock as the prime example. 
Super Punch clever Australian symphony posters for a "Space Classics" concert featuring film scores.
Arts Beat Whoa. Musical theater's #1 genius Stephen Sondheim is not happy about the changes they are making to opera classic Porgy & Bess for its reimagination / revival with the great Audra McDonald.
Boy Culture if you haven't been following the Luke Evans (Three Musketeers, Immortals) re-closeting scandal, Matthew has been keeping close track. Lots of testy developments including his management teams efforts to dub former statements "youthful immaturity" (that's right coming out is now IMMATURE!) and Chelsea Handler ribbing.

Luke Evans, Amber Heard, Taylor Lautner

Towleroad That new Taylor Lautner movie Abducted looks d-r-e-a-d-f-u-l (and yes it kills me to see major brilliant actors like Sigourney Weaver trying to prop him up way under the title billing) but this photo caption made me lol. 
Stuart Immonen draws Ginger Rogers on his phone. Love it.
Playboy has an interview with actress Amber Heard (Drive Angry, The Playboy Club, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane) on coming out in Hollywood (she's been dating a female photographer for a few years) and the pressure for actresses to look like "14 year old boys". Fun interview actually, she sounds like she's got bite.
Lens this book "Where Children Sleep" looks fascinating. It's portraits of diverse living environments all over the world, from the overprivileged to the homeless to the whaaaa? Take a look.

Remember that time a couple of years ago when Chris Evans' management  told him that he should top taking his shirt off all the time? Yeah, that was dumb. Thankfully also short-lived. Post Captain Americahe's back to his old tricks. Here he is in a scene from the new Anna Faris comedy What's Your Number?



Emmy Watch
Gold Derby has a piece up about the Comedy Supporting Actress category at the Emmys which I've discussed previously to offer a quite altered list. I am no Emmy expert so I have to trust them that the race is between Jane Lynch (1 Emmy) and Betty White (5 Emmys). But I'm dumbfounded as to why. ALL the other competitors are stronger than these two by leaps and bounds. I'm rooting for either of the Modern Family ladies Sofia Vergara (no Emmys) or Julie Bowen (no Emmys). "Slow Down Your Neighbors" was an instant classic episode for the Sitcom Hall of Fame thanks in large part to both of them.

Dead Link Me
Screened shares all the deaths in Final Destination. Previously on... Final Destination.
The Awl interesting piece on actors having to play death scenes with quotes from actors like Edward Furlong from American History X

Doing that scene took a long time—I was laying dead in a urinal for a whole day, and playing dead is terrible for me. Maybe I’m a little ADD, but it’s very hard for me to be still, not blink, hold my breath.

There's also vampire victims from both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and True Blood!


Stage Door: "Company", "Measure for Measure", Tony Aftermath

The theater world gets a bit quiet during the summer, post Tony Awards, but there are still live performances to be seen and talked about. Like "Shakespeare in the Park" in, well, Central Park. If you've never been it's always worth going no matter what the show is because it's free and open air theater is truly a special everyone-should-try-it experience. But I wish they'd be more daring with their selections. Some years they stray from the bard, whilst retaining the title, like the year they relaunched HAIR -- god, that was a great production -- or when they mounted that Jonathan Groff / Anthony Mackie Euripides moment Everyone but me hated that one but I think I was just so glad to see something that wasn't performed as often and with two actors I quite like.

Danai Gurira rehearses for "Measure for Measure"

This year they're back to the bard. They're doing two of the "problem plays" Alls Well That Ends Well and Measure For Measure through June and July. Click here for dates.   I took in Measure for Measure which... well, I haven't much to say about it. The problem with the problem plays is that they're problematic -- PROFUNDITY! [Editor's note: I warned you!]  It was an absolutely decent production but it lacked a defining thrill, defining moment. As for definitive performances, I give my highest marks to Danai Gurira (The Visitor) who was in very strong form as the pious Isabella, who must choose between her brother's life or her chastity (long story!)  in the convoluted Jacobean plot. On the comic side, Carson Elrod as Pompei, "the tapster" (aka procurer of johns for the whores? That's how it read from my seat), who offers up a pretty great distillation of how to give a modern performance while still delivering Shakespearean language.

Neil Patrick Harris as eternal bachelor "Bobby" puts the moves on Christina Hendricks in "Company"Company
The recent very brief Philharmonic staging of Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY played this past week in select movie theaters around the country. I wasn't paying close enough attention to times and missed my one best opportunity. Hopefully it'll come to DVD. Neil Patrick Harris led the all star cast as "Bobby". Company is only one of the greatest musicals ever written so if you ever have a chance to see it performed, do so. If any of you caught it, speak up in the comments.

I've always wanted someone to make this musical into a movie because the songs are just so spectacular. But I fear Hollywood wouldn't understand it. It's not "flashy" and that's the only kind of musical they make anymore.

Joe's Pub STREEP TEASE!!! That Meryl Streep Monologue show with an all male cast is coming to NYC next Monday night. One night only.
Broadway Blog wonders if Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark can join the list of shows that triumphed after rough starts?
Broadway Blog also looks at the history of Broadway songs on the pop charts. Does the man upstairs hold sway? It seems like it.
Billboard answers a question I was asking on twitter (Thanks Mark!) about whether in-theater sales of Original Cast Recording count on Billboard charts as record sales. The answer is both closer to a "maybe so" than a yes or a no. 
BlogStage wonders if Shakespeare is being performed too often in the world? My answer: Duh! I've been saying this for years.

Finally... Mocking Acceptance Speeches as a special theater event?

Q: What's so great about acceptance speeches?
A: What we discovered doing this show is that they're actually really joyful to watch even if the person is a self regarding narcissist.

I didn't even know about this until it was over. The theater community has yet to discover and worship The Film Experience properly. Where are my press invites?  ANYWAY... there's nothing quite like an acceptance speech which is why its hateful when the same people win 10 things in a row. Variety is wonderful... and so is a good variety show.