Wednesday, January 29, 2014
so long, pete seeger


The great Pete Seeger has died.
A composer, singer-songwriter, a musical philosopher who devoted his life to Humanity and to changing the World through Music.
And he did just that.
He had true integrity.
And he never ever compromised his integrity,
in any way, 
or on any level.
He even went to jail for not compromising his integrity or his  his personal beliefs about freedom.
 And because he truly loved this great great country we live in more than anything else.

I was lucky enough to see him in Concert in the Spring of 1963 at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA. 
He played his music wherever he could, especially after he was blacklisted.

I remember being so inspired by that concert, back in 1963---we all were. Our 6 person cast of "Spoon River" playing on the campus of UCLA at the same time as his concert----before we went to Broadway.....We took "We Shall Overcome" as our anthem, and as a cast, held hands and sang it before every performance till we closed many months later in New York in 1964.
Pete Seeger was the epitome of someone who believed music and song could change the world.
And he was right.
He never ever strayed from that belief and performed wherever and whenever he could, always spreading the Gospel.
And we, the audience, were always included in the singing---urged to join in and sing along with him and all those who appeared on stage with him.......
He inspired all of the great Folk Artists of the 20th Century.
In fact, he inspired almost all the musicians and balladeers who lived during his 94 years of life.
The songs he wrote,
"If I Had A Hammer", "Turn, Turn, Turn", "Where Have All The Flowers Gone", "We Shall Overcome"---to name a few....all became the Anthems of an entire Generation.....



He was married to the same woman for almost 70 years, and they were of like mind about what was truly important in life.

And they lived a simple life---a life that depended on the land---the very land he sang about---"This Land Is Your Land", written by his great friend and com padre, Woody Guthrie.....

They lived their beliefs and passed them on to their children.
Music can heal the world.
Music can change the world......

A Gentle Man,
And a Man of Great Strength 
And a Man Of Great Conviction......

His Banjo says it all.
And below is a touching tribute to the glory and uniqueness of this truly fine and talented man. 
And the incredible legacy that he leaves this world.
His songs touched the hearts of so very many people all over the
 world
.
RIP dear dear Pete Seeger.....You touched so very many lives in such a deep deep way, mine, included.



More To Come.......


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
oscar thoughts



So much to write about, and nothing to say except some personal opinions regarding the coming 
Academy Awards.....



So let's go back to the SAG Awards for a minute.....
I enjoyed them very very much....
I love actors and their passion for what they do.
As to the Voting:
Not everyone I voted for won, but about 80% did.
Not a bad average.

The Oscars are coming and it will be interesting to see just how many of the same actors will come away with Oscars that also won The SAG Award......
I personally think it will be the same four as SAG:
 Cate Blanchett Matthew McConaoughay, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong'o

Best Picture is harder to call.
What I hope will win is 
"12 Years A Slave".
This is a a very powerful and important film---one that should be required viewing for everyone.
And what Lupita Nyong'o had to do in this film was devastating and deeply moving.
(And by the way: I absolutely loved Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle", and I think she is an extraordinary talent, but I think Lupita Nyong'o goes that extra mile because of the nature of the subject matter of this true story......)


And speaking of "American Hustle", this is a film that could certainly win the Best Picture Oscar, but honestly, to my way of thinking....."12 Years A  Slave" goes that extra mile there for me, too. I want to see a film of great substance---which '12 Years' is----be recognized and rewarded for it's bravery and it's importance in regard to the history of our country.
Not an easy movie to watch...but so very often the truth isn't easy, and as we know----it can be very painful, too.
Don't let that keep you away from this magnificent film.  

Let's talk about the Scorsese/DeCaprio film.
"The Wolf Of Wall Street".
It is an interesting film and DeCaprio is very very good, but for my taste, it is much too long.
I think the points made were made and made and then, made again.
Alright. I got it!
No question Scorsese is a Great Great film maker, but I think he sometimes falls in love with certain things and then just can't seem to let them go.....
Also.....Personally, I am disturbed by his treatment of women in almost all his films----I find his depiction of woman, rather despicable. They are greedy and conniving and manipulative and pretty much without any moral fiber.

And another kind of strange thing----there are never any black people in Scorsese's films. 
How can you make a film that takes place in New York, and not have any black people? Not even in the background???
Woody Allen, too.

Same thing.
No black people---I mean, like none!
Strange and not realistic, at all.
I wonder what that is about?




"August, Osage County"
I had some problems with this film.
It seems to have been touted as a comedy---and though there are some funny things in it, it certainly is not a comedy.
It is a film about a dysfunctional family
who have tremendous problems and there is much pain and sadness in the film.
I had trouble with the performances.
I love Meryl Streep and I love Julia Roberts, but not in this film.
I may be in the minority here, but.....I don't want to see actors "working"....or, to put it another way....
I don't want to see them "acting".
And, that's what I saw.
A lot of "ACTING"!

This takes me back to Judi Dench in "Philomena" where she just "is" that women.
To me, this is the Best Performance by an Actress this year.
The simplicity of her performance----less is really more---she gives you everything by seemingly doing very little.
I say seemingly because it takes great skill and heart to make one's performance so fluid, and without any histrionics.
No, I don't think she will win The Oscar, but I think she should.

Cate Blanchettis wonderful in "Blue Jasmine"----the film itself?  Not so good.  But I think she will get the Oscar.

Some weeks ago I wrote a post about "Dallas Buyers Club" and said in that post that I could hear Oscar calling  both McC. and JaredLeto
What is stunning about Jared Leto's performance is his truthfulness----you believe completely that he he Rayon, the Transgender women----there is never a moment of doubt or a comment within that performance....both these actors are stunning .
And the picture is an important film; again, it should be required viewing lest we forget the struggle of AIDS in those early years.

There are other worthy pictures.....but, that's all I am going to write about today...



More To Come.......



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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
memorable moments

I watch a lot of television---probably a lot more than most of you....Given my confinement situation, it is the best way I have of enjoying what's out there these days in films and other forms of drama, such as the mini series and some scripted series. 
It is not just for escape or amusement. 
My whole life has been devoted to the creative process; as an actress, writer, singer, composer and producer.
One of the great gifts my parents gave us living in the New York City area, was to expose us to the Broadway Theatre at a very early age, in my case.....
We went to the Theatre and to Concerts; The Ballet and Opera, on a regular basis and thus began my passion for my life's work.


I grew up during the so called "Golden Age" of Broadway and was lucky enough and privileged enough to see all the great plays of that time and so very many of the great actors, too.
Arthur Miller's "Death Of A Salesman" with the great Lee J. Cobb; "All My Sons", as well. All of the truly great plays of Tennessee Williams, including the Original Broadway Production of "A Streetcar Named Desire".....I got to see Marlon Brando grow from a young juvenile in "I Remember Mama" and "Candida" to his stunning performance as Stanley in the Original Broadway production  of "Streetcar".....
I got to see all of the great Ladies Of The Theatre of that period---including Katherine Cornell, Helen Hayes, Laurette Taylor, Geraldine Page, Kim Stanley.....

And I got to seeVivien Leigh and Lawrence Oliver in Rep....I saw Katherine Hepburn  in "As You Like It".
I even got to see the great Tallulah Bankhead.
I got to see ALL the great Broadway musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein in their first and Original Broadway productions.
My father took me to  a Saturday Matinee of the then NEW Musical, "Oklahoma" during it's second week on Broadway and even at the age of ten, I knew I was seeing something really special and different....I had been going to the theatre since the age of four and had already developed an educated eye and a true passion for this amazing and moving experience called "live" theatre. I knew even then, that this was what I wanted to do.
All this is by way of saying, that now that I cannot go to any kind of Theatre any more----Live or film, I am more dependent on what's available on Television, than ever.



A few months ago

I noticed that STARZ was going to show a Mini-series originally made for the BBC called, "DANCING ON THE EDGE".....it is about a Black Jazz Band in London in the 1930's and the many interesting and sometimes horrific things that happen to them, as they are presented to high Society and experience the incredible racism of that time..... 
I was wring about this very interesting Series, a few months back, when I hit some button on my computer and the whole thing went 'bye bye'.
I was so discouraged I just could not start all over and try to recreate what I had already written.
But....a few weeks later, I began again.
The whole first part of what you have already read was part of the building up to my finally getting around to this series---'Dancing On The Edge'
There was a lot about it that appealed to me.....starting with Chiwetel Ejiofor, a brilliant brilliant actor who has shown such versatility and extraordinary talent....I first became aware of him in "Love, Actually" and later in "Kinky Boots"---a fantastically brave performance......

And "12 Years A Slave", is his most recent triumph....a very very powerful film that is an absolute "Must See".....


There are some other wonderful people in 'Dancing', like Matthew Goode---a truly lovely actor, and John Goodman, in a part that is unlike anything I've ever seen him do before.
And there are a number of young women in it, too, none of whom I was familiar with and ALL of them, are really superb!


And then, the bonus, for me, was Jacqueline Bisset, a really talented and under rated actress who was often dismissed because she was so very beautiful.
We rarely see her these days. And I think it is because she only does the things she really wants to do.
Besides being a wonderful actress, she looks as beautiful as she ever did---not having had any plastic surgery----she actually looks like the woman she really is!

 
Personally, I find that thrilling and so refreshing I cannot say enough about what that tells me about her and how very much I admire her for being the woman she is!PLUS......she is terrific in this series.
She adds a professional and personal weight to the whole enterprise by very her very presence and the history she brings with her.
And she is so very very good!
So....rent this series or stream it or whatever other ways there are of seeing great work these days.....
Now.....
All of this brings me to Sunday night and The Golden Globes.
The second category of the night was Best Supporting Actress in a Mini Series, Movie or Drama for Television.
Ms. Bisset was among the four or five nominees. Her chances of winning were lower than low.
But, won, she did.
I applauded!
Sitting all by myself, I sat and applauded her 'win'.


I was as moved as she was. 

What I saw was a woman trying not to lose it, because you just don't do that. 
But.....I could also see her whole career and history flashing before her eyes.
It meant so much.
And why wouldn't it?
Especially when there was no way in hell she was going to walk away with this meaningful Award.
But she did.
Her speech has been criticized and vilified and God knows what else----For Me?
I loved it!
I was moved by it!
I understood what it must have meant to her on so very many levels.....

Maybe seven people besides me had actually seen this series----had actually seen the beautiful work she had done in it and had appreciated the series itself---every one's work in this special series is stellar!

So, I say 
Brava to Ms. Bisset and Bravo to The Golden Globes and The Hollywood Foreign Press.
This was a great moment.
And it is what these Award shows are all about as far as I'm concerned.
It's about the moment one is recognized for a job more than well done, and it is about how very hard it is to be an Artist and be true to yourself.
Oh, and let me say, I am thrilled for Jennifer Lawrence who you may remember I wrote about three ago when she appeared in this small Independent film, "Winters Bone". and one knew she was the real deal.
I loved those first two Awards of last night's Golden Globes.....

First came 23 year old Jennifer Lawrence---a talent, beyond words......


And then, the Beautiful 69 year old Jacqueline Bisset, another talent beyond words----both winners!


Sometimes I just really love Show Business!




More To Come


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Wednesday, January 08, 2014
a bit of the eve

This was a rather nice photo of me with Garrett Parks, Betty's oldest son, as we ate our New Years Eve dinner---the picture was taken by his sweet wife Karen, with her iPhone.
And below, a picture I took of them, later in the evening.
When I saw Garrett at Christmas, I was struck by how much he looked like his Dad with his beard. Larry had a beard for quite a few years before he died, and it was most attractive......
I took another picture of Garret on New Years Eve that reminded me of a picture I had taken of Larry, when Betty and Larry came to visit me in Hawaii, where I had rented a house on The Big Island for 14 weeks. They came in late June of 1974, just at the end of my time there----in fact, we flew back to Los Angeles together, with gobs of Fresh Frozen fantastic Hawaiian fish, which Betty and Larry kept in their Freezer, and when we felt very nostalgic for those balmy days in Hawaii, we would have a Hawaiian dinner and be transported back to those lovely special days.......

One afternoon, Betty, Larry and I had gone up to the Mauna Kea Hotel for one of their sumptuous Sunday Buffet Brunches.....We sat at a very nice table and did everything at a very leisurely pace----it seemed we never ran out of things to talk about.....I took a couple of pictures of Larry, who was sitting across from me----Betty between us, on his right. In the picture below, he was looking at her as she was talking about something and I have always loved this picture......
The photo below is of Garrett, on December 31st, 2013.
It was kind of astounding to see these two photo's together.
Larry turned 60 in December of '74 and unfortunately died in April, 1975.
It makes this photo of him all the more precious.

It brought back many memories of many many happy times gone by, and also, here we were, creating new memories---as my friend Hanna used to say---"You collected another wonderful memory for yourself..." And she was right. We had a really lovely fun time on this Eve of the New Year of 2014......
Betty and Larry's younger son, Andy, and his darling wife Katy, were here, too......
I think Andy, there in the foreground, would look very much like his Dad, too, if he had a beard----he already does, without the beard.....Next to him is the incredibly talented Maddy----Garrett and Karen's daughter, who is about to turn 18 in a few days from now.....For those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, you will remember her from earlier New Years Eve gatherings---another favorite picture of mine is Betty with Maddy back on New Years Eve 2006, on the brink of  2007.
Going back to the picture above this one, that very handsome young man is Maddy's boyfriend Chris, and next to him is dear dear Katy, Andy's wife......

We had some very yummy food and we had a lot of laughs when we played the White Elephant Game.....and there will be more pictures soon----but here below is just a little preview of some of the Goodies that were in the Game......
Just a bit of a tease......


More To Come.......


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