Tuesday, March 25, 2014
elaine stritch: shoot me

For anyone unfamiliar with Elaine Stritch as a "live" stage performer, you have missed a dynamo. But, you can actually see her 'in performance' in her one-woman show, "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty" (2002)....It is on You Tube and available to rent on various venues.
The newest documentary, pictured above, is available On Demand.....
Ms. Stritch, just turned 88 years old, and we see a much frailer Stritch than we did back in 2002 in
Frail or not, she is a consummate performer on every level. She can break your heart and make you laugh out loud and it's all about her life. She tells all.....and shows us her deepest feelings in the most artful and irreverent way. 
Four letter words flow easily from her mouth and her mind-----including the word LOVE.
She is fascinating; passionate about her life and her work; She has played Broadway, The West End; toured everywhere and worked with all the greats!
Noel Coward wrote "Sail Away" just for her. The part she played in Sondheim's "Company" was written for her by George Furth who wrote the book of "Company".....And by the way, "The Ladies Who Lunch" which she sang the hell out of in 'Company', became her signature song....
one of the most fabulous DVDs you will ever see is the recording session of the Original Cast Album of "Company".....It is in many many ways, a Master Class in the recording of a Broadway show, and Stritch, trying to sing 'Ladies' at 4am in the morning, after a grueling day---and she cannot get it---she comes back, after a day if rest, and nails it perfectly! She is fantastic on this amazing DVD.
In fact, everyone in it is just perfection!
In fact her section of the recording is completely arresting and a revelation in every way into a group of talented perfectionists, Elaine Stritch being one of them, in spades!
This is very much worth renting or buying, if you are a fan of Steven Sondheim's---which as anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time, knows, I am a huge huge Sondheim fan.
Stritch has been nominated for a Tony, 4 times, and won this coveted award for her One-Woman show, 'At Liberty'.

And she has won three Emmy's, one for her role on "Thirty Rock" playing Alec Baldwin's mother.....She has made a lot of movies, including one for Woody Allen.

A career that spans 65 years.....!
She was a fixture on the New York Theatrical scene----lived at The Carlyle Hotel for years and years, and now, she has left New York and gone back home to Michigan, where she was born and where she grew up.

Her leaving New York is, as someone said, like The Statue of Liberty leaving New York.
Elaine Stritch is inspiring in so very many ways----a recovering alcoholic with severe diabetes----she shares ALL of this in "At Liberty", and so much more.....
Skipping forward 11 plus years,
I watched the new film, a documentary on Ms. Stritch, three times. 

There is so much to admire in this picture---

It goes without saying, there's her enormous talent---and a tenacity that just won't quit;
And a fierceness for surviving that is deeply deeply touching....and yes, there is a terrible sadness watching her struggle with all the vagaries of age.....
But......still, she is an inspiration.
And if you truly want to be inspired, 
do yourself a big favor and
watch the 2002 One Woman Show
"Elaine Stritch At Liberty".
It is more than a treat.....it is a great great gift from one of those 'Broadway Baby's' of a different time, when 'The Show Must Go On' truly meant 'The Show Must Go On, No Matter What'!
And the show did go on, and Elaine Stritch was right up there, 
giving 150% each and every performance!
What a great dame.......!
And what a Great Artist!
Do yourself a favor and look for 
"Elaine Stritch at Liberty".
It's out there on YouTube and other venues
right now as we speak.
She is the real deal!

More To Come.......

Monday, March 17, 2014
shaking and baking

Well, we had a bit of an Earthquake this morning.
It awakened me-----it was 6:20 a.m.
It wasn't the worst one I have ever experienced, I'm happy to say----But it was a rather loud jolting one that certainly scared me awake---and I said out loud to no one...
"Oh, I don't like this....!" 

But it didn't last very long at all, Thank God.....
The really scary ones are what they call 'rolling' quakes......it rolls and rumbles and gets worse as it goes on.....And those usually last a little longer than the loud jolting one, like we had today.....
Everything shook pretty good, including the bed, but I had no damage.
A photograph of my brother fell off it's perch and landed against the window in the living room near my piano----and a few hanging paintings went askew.....But, that was it!
A bit of a shock?  Yes, indeed.
And that's how my day began.....
How did your day begin?

More To Come........

Sunday, March 09, 2014
oscar round-up

This is exactly how I felt when they opened the envelope and announced that "12 YEARS A SLAVE" had won the Oscar for Best Picture!
That is the Director, Steve McQueen, who jumped up and down with genuine unabashed exuberant excitement...and with the company standing behind him---everyone so moved and deeply deeply thrilled.
I was, too. I hoped and prayed this film would win because it deserved to win.

I know I'm a little late getting to this post, but some of my health issues have kept me from it.....
So forgive this now, 'old news'.
I loved the whole evening!
I laughed out loud and I cried out loud---a perfect kind of show, as far as I'm concerned.

I thought Ellen was just terrific!  She brought a kind of gemutlich(?) family feeling to the whole night.
She made the audience so very comfortable and in turn made me comfortable and made me feel really included in this unusual-for-the Oscars feeling of family.
Not an easy thing to do---I mean to make this nervous hungry competitive group feel like one big family.

As to the Awards themselves----the four Acting Awards were all as I thought they would be.
And that thrilled me, too.
In order of appearance:
Jared Leto, Best supporting Actor for "THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB"...Again, I was thrilled!!!
He Soooo deserved this, and his speech was very moving.
See this film, please.
Lupita Nyong'o.....Oh, her win for Best Supporting Actress in "12 YEARS A SLAVE" made me Whoop with Joy!!! And her speech was so eloquent....and very very moving, too.....
Another film to be sure to see.....
It's not easy, but then, neither was slavery.
Cate Blanchett....She won Best Actress for her role in "BLUE JASMINE".....She is a brilliantly talented actress and was pretty much a 'lock' from the get-go. I'm happy for her, but, in truth, I wanted Judi Dench to come away with this Oscar---I knew she wouldn't, but.....she was my choice.
I had problems with the 'Blue Jasmine'.....but I had no problem with "PHILOMENA".......Do go see this very moving film if you haven't already. Judi Dench is a World Treasure!
Matthew McConaughey won Best Actor for "THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB".....another 'lock' almost from the starting gate.  I thought he was truly wonderful in every way. And it seems the Academy Membership thought so too.....!

There were lots of things I liked about this show.....the different sets---all those Oscars, (You can see them in that first picture of Ellen)....and the Blanket of Red Flowers.....
They could be Roses or they could be Poppy's---in Honor of "THE WIZARD OF OZ".  All I know is---they were Beautiful!! And just to the left of the flowers there were the "lights".....
Harking back to the early days of film....I loved that!  And something else that just knocked me out was the music used to play people on and off the stage----ALL, Academy Award winners from the past----really great great film music.....
And speaking of music.......
Darlene Love, spontaneously bursting into song ("His Eye Is On The Sparrow") when "20 FEET FROM STARDOM" won for Best Documentary....This is a terrific film about Back-Up singers who can and did sing the hell out of songs, but were basically unknown, though some of them hoped to have their own careers---Luther Vandross was a Back-Up singer who broke out, as we all know, and became a huge star.....If you can find this film on Netflix or any of the other many ways one can see movies now---don't miss it. And for anyone who doesn't know who Darlene Love is---do Google her!
Her breaking into song on the Oscars was a very moving and uplifting  Highlight, for me!
And then there was Pink, who knocked it out of the park when she sang 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' in the tribute section to Judy Garland and 'The Wizard of Oz'. She was perfection---singing in her own style, but honoring the song and Judy, with all the true and real emotion she brought to the song.
It was FABULOUS!!!
And the third musical Highlight for me was the 'Divine Miss M' singing one of her signature songs ('The Wind Beneath My Wings') after the In Memoriam section. Bette Midler is a real 'pro', and to watch her build this song into an anthem was truly glorious. The audience thought so too!

More Highlights.......
Seeing Sidney Poitier, a true hero in the fight for recognition of people of color as real human beings---our first Black Sex Symbol----the winner of the first "Best Actor" Award for a man of color----I was moved and touched and I was a little bit saddened by how frail he is now----A reminder of how frail I am now, too.....Sidney is from my time, and me, from his.....And so it was another reminder of all the glorious times past when we were all so young and beautiful, and a mirror on the truth of how old we all are now. A painful reality. 
And then, he spoke.
 And he was as eloquent and beautiful as ever....
What a man!
And how wonderful that he was on the arm of Angelina Jolie---a Heroine Of Our Times for ALL that she does for those in the world who are in such need.....
Her caring for Sidney----knowing what a pioneer he has been in the fight for equality, on and off the screen.....
Well....this moved me deeply, too. 
And then....
There was "THE PIZZA"!!!!
A brilliant stroke, in my opinion.
People are hungry, having been on 'the red carpet' forever, and then there will be more than three hours before they will get a morsel of food....
It was fun, and the Nominees and their families LOVED it! 
And they all gobbled it up, like hungry little piglets....
There's lots more....but, these were my Highlights.

Congratulations to all!!!
And especially to Ellen, who I thought was Superb!

This is probably the hardest job in Show Business
I hope the Academy uses her great gifts for this incredibly impossible gig, every year from now on!

More To Come......

Note:  Please forgive me for not getting around to visiting your blogs.....getting this post together took all the energy I have, right now.....but I will try to visit when I can....Thanks so much for understanding.....




Sunday, March 02, 2014
the oscars

By  the time most of you read this----the Oscars will have happened.  And oddly enough, they actually happen about five minutes from where I live, up in the Hollywood Hills......
Here is who I think will win....or.....who I want to win, in 5 categories.

I think Cate Blanchett is a shoe-in. Her performance was quite extraordinary.....although, for me, the film itself was problematic. I preferred Tennessee Williams "Streetcar Named Desire", and Woody Allen should have given him screen credit....but, barring that....I don't think there is any doubt she will win.
Who did I want to win?
Dame Judi!  Yes!
A subtle un-showy truthful performance.
Moving in every way.
Less IS really More!

Another shoe-in.  His was a great performance, and in an important and meaningful film. 
He deserves to win, and I think he will win.
I love Chiwetel Ejiofor--an incredibly talented actor---
I would be thrilled if he won.....but.....I think McConaughey has the edge.....even over Bruce Dern, who has deserved an Oscar for decades!

Lupita Nyongo!
What a debut!
What she had to do in "12 YEARS A SLAVE"
was so very hard and she was absolute perfection.
I love Jennifer Lawrence and I think she is a phenomenal talent.....and it's possible she will walk away with her second Oscar.....
But.....for me, Lupita has the edge!

Jared Leto.
A brilliant performance---not an untruthful moment.
He broke your heart in the best way.
A sensitive deep feeling performance.

I have no idea what picture will win this award.
I want "12 YEARS A SLAVE" to win....and it did win at the Independent Spirit Awards last night.....I congratulate them and hope and pray they will win, tonight.
"GRAVITY" may take this, or "AMERICAN HUSTLE"
or who knows.
My very favorite was "PHILOMENA",
but I don't believe it has a chance....
"12 YEARS A SLAVE" is an important film and a true labor of love.
Everyone should see this film.

Now, on with the show.......

More To Come.........  


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