Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I stood on the Max Train on a recent warm summer morning, on a day when the temperature would eventually inch up to the high 90s. I shared the platform with the Mayor of Portland, who is my neighbor & an acquaintance. He had a briefcase, a backpack & a cloth satchel bag, each looking pretty darn full. He was standing with eyes closed, seeming to be meditating. As I passed him, he looked up & wished me- "good morning, Stephen". I didn’t want to bother him in any way, but he started the chatting, so I asked him- “does your house stay cool on days like this?”, & the Mayor stated that he shuts his house up when it is hot & that it stays cool until he can get home & open up the windows & doors. He then said- “it is weird though… my chickens keep looking at me like this heat is my fault. I think they really suffer even with the shade & water that I provide for them, but they look at me like they are unhappy”. I paused & then retorted- “Mr. Mayor, I don’t think that you should be guilt tripped by POULTRY”. I moved along, so as not to be a bother & to let him get in a bit more meditating before the train arrived & he started another day of running Portland.
Do you know how as song can bring you back to a time, a place, or an era? Certain tunes bring me back to the point that am having a breath of the air, & hearing the sounds from a time when that song was having an impact on my life.
In the early 1970s, while going to college at Loyola Marymount University, I was able to live what I thought was a very quintessential "L.A. lifestyle". I drove a '59 T-Bird, a gift from my father. I lived on the beach in Playa Del Rey, with double sliding glass doors that opened onto white sand beach & the Pacific Ocean; on a clear day I could see Catalina Island. My travels & adventures were almost entirely "beach". I would go to cafes & bars in Venice Beach & Santa Monica. I had a professor that lived & had events at his house in Malibu. My red curly hair turned the color of straw & I became deeply tan. I went to school with & was friends with children of stars. I did cocaine & fooled around with a major sports figure in the bathroom of a very famous producer’s home in the Hollywood Hills. I saw a brand new show from London at The Roxy, with some actor named Tim Curry, called The Rocky Horror Show, which blew my mind. I saw Linda Ronstadt at The Troubadour with Joel Douglas (son of Kirk, brother of Michael). I was doing my L.A. thing & loving it.
I know I should feel a shutter of embarrassment for my love of Johnny Mathis. I think it started at an early age listening to my parent’s record collection. I find this tune, (& I have it by other artists including Art Garfunkel, Julio Iglesias & Nancy Sinatra), is a real little pop gem. I like that it strays from the –“I am so in love with you” format of many pop songs of the era. It has a real melancholy & a sense of the rhythm of driving in a car alone. The music is by Albert Hammond with lyrics by Hal David. The session players on Garfunkel’s version included Toni Tennille, Andrew Gold, Stephen Bishop, Paul Simon, & David Crosby. It was produced by Richard Perry, who I fantasized would produce my first album- Jockstraps & Valium.
This morning, on the MAX train, 99 Miles From L.A. was on my Ipod in shuffle mode. I listened to it 3 times & I had an incredible sense memory trip of being on route 101, heading back to the city & not being able to shake my feelings for some hot dancer guy that I was in a show with. I felt like 1975's Stephen... traveling that experience again, smelling the smells & feeling the feelings of driving towards L.A..
Mark Morris is an openly gay dancer, choreographer & director from Seattle. He was long noted for the musicality & power of his dancing as well as his amazing delicacy of movement. His body was heavier than the typical dancer, more like that of an average person, yet his technical & expressive abilities outstripped those of most of his contemporaries. He heads his own company- The Mark Morris Dance Group & he started the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. He has created works for San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and the Paris Opera Ballet. Morris has worked extensively in opera, directing & choreographing productions for the Seattle Opera, Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, English National Opera, & the Royal Opera House. I always appreciated him for his many accomplishments, although he did not have the body or disposition of a typical dancer. My favorite work by Mr. Morris is his fantastic ballet based on The Nutcracker- Hard Nut, which has been broadcast on PBS.
Ingrid Bergman: beautiful, talented, & controversial star of stage & screen. She won 3 Oscars, two Emmys, & a Tony Award for Best Actress in the first Tony Award ceremony in 1947. She is ranked as the fourth greatest female star of American cinema of all time by the American Film Institute. She is widely remembered for her performance as Ilsa Lund in Casablanca (1942). My favorite performance was her Oscar winning turn in Murder On the Orient Express (1974).
While still married to Dr. Petter Lindström, she became pregnant by Italian director Roberto Rossellini, with whom she was filming The pregnancy caused a huge scandal in the United States. It even led to Bergman being denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Edwin C. Johnson, who referred to her as "a horrible example of womanhood & a powerful influence for evil", there was a floor vote, which resulted in her being made persona non grata. The scandal forced Ingrid Bergman to exile herself to Italy. During Bergman's time in Italy, anger over her private life had continued unabated in the United States, with Ed Sullivan, at one point infamously polling his TV show audience as to whether she should be permitted to appear on his show. Although the audience was mostly in favor, Ed declined to book her. Steve Allen then booked her on his show opposite Sullivan, & answered critics by stating "If it became a principle to keep off TV those performers who have been guilty of adultery, then I am very much afraid that a great many of your favorite programs would disappear." She is, of course, the mother of beautiful & talented Isabella Rosselinni.
Dinah Washington is a life long favorite recording artist of mine. Her penetrating voice, perfect timing & crystal clear enunciation added her own distinctive style to every piece she performed. She made extraordinary recordings in jazz, blues, R&B & pop genres. Washington refused to record gospel music despite her obvious talent for singing it. She believed it was wrong to mix the secular & the spiritual. During the time that she was doing club dates & Las Vegas, she would have to enter through back doors & service entrances because of her color. Washington was married 7 times & had many lovers, including a young Quincy Jones, who at the time was her arranger. She died from an accidental overdose at age 39. What A Difference A Day Makes remains in my top 20 all time favorite recordings. The Husband & I saw a very well done play based on her life- Dinah Was, Off- Broadway in 1998. How about this amazing clip of Dinah doing I Don't Hurt Anymore?
Friday, August 28, 2009
I love the rootsy sound of the Avett Brothers from North Carolina. There is no harmony like brotherly harmony. Something special in the weave of voices & the play of sensibilities is stamped into the fraternal DNA & also comes from a lifetime of shared experiences. You can hear it in classic brother acts across the musical spectrum, from the Louvin Brothers to the Everly Brothers & through the decades with the Wilson brothers (Beach Boys), the Davies brothers (Kinks), the Finn brothers (Crowded House) & even the Brothers Gibb (The Bee Gees).
I love this song with its references to Brooklyn & the wondeful title refrain- I & Love & You.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I have missed him so much. I can not articulate how much happiness he has brought to my life. I would tape his Saturday morning show- Pee Wee's Playhouse (remember VHS?) every week & his 2 movies had repeat viewings with my family. His absurd arrest for child porno, based on kitchy work from decades past (plus Rob Lowe's sex tape) were eventually be dismissed, but he career never recovered. Don't you think it is time for some more Pee Wee? He is needed more than ever.
Today is the birthday of his creator- the amazingly talented Paul Reubens.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Dominick Dunne's diary, published in Vanity Fair from 1984- 2008, was one of my favorite reads. His glimpses into the lives of the rich & famous & his first hand accounts of famous trials including the Menendez Brothers, William Kennedy Smith & Phil Spector made for riveting reading. He did profiles for the magazine of Robert Mapelthorpe, Elizabeth Taylor & Warren Beatty, among many, many others. He wrote numerous novels & collections of essays & he produced plays, TV & movies. At one point in his life his use of drugs & alcohol & his life in Hollywood became unmanageable & he moved & lived alone in a cabin in the woods of Oregon, where he got sober & started writing again at age 50. His son Griffin is an actor, director & producer. Another son Alex lives here in Portland. The picture is of him with his brother writer John Gregory Dunne, his sister-in-law writer Joan Didion & son Griffin.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Will has a passion for Opera, while I have only a passing interest, but for my new friend, here is my favorite aria-"Ebben, ne andro Lontano" from Le Wally.
In sheer number of albums, the artists best represented in my music collection would be Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, The Police & Sting, Van Morrison, but the top of the heap would be Elvis Costello. I was crazy about him from the first listening, which would have been Alison from My Aim Is True in 1977. Declan Patrick MacManus was born on this day in 1954. He is one of my most favorite & important musicians, with much of his music speaking personally to me. Elvis Costello is married to jazz artist Diana Krall. He has straddled the genres of punk, new wave, rock, pop, pub rock, traditional Irish, classical/symphonic, art song, country & soundtracks. He certainly has been prolific with 37 albums in 32 years. I used to sing Alison for auditions for shows with rock scores, & I modestly have to say that I think it is one of my best numbers. I admire his songwriting skills & I am zany for his singing with the hoarse little catch in his voice. Favorites are too hard to narrow down, but: Watching The Detectives, Shipbuilding (with trumpet solo by Chet Baker!), Almost Blue, A Good Year For the Roses, Everyday I Write The Book, She, & God Give Me Strength. I could rhapsodize on & on, but I will just share one with you. This is the best cover of a country song ever!
And, of course, Alison: (but you really should hear me do it sometime. Just ask.)
In the beautiful New England spring of 1972, I appeared as The Street Singer in a production of The Three Penny Opera at Harvard. At the same time Leonard Bernstein was giving a series of lectures at his Alama Mater named – The Unanswered Question. Always absorbing & frequently brilliant, Leonard Bernstein's The Unanswered Question were comprehensible & persuasive discussions of music's history & forms, with particular emphasis modern music. They addressed the average intelligent listener who is not musically trained but wants to know what makes music work & what is meant, for example, by "tonal" and "atonal." It required some concentration, but Bernstein, a superb teacher, kept technical terms to a minimum, illustrating what he meant with musical examples. I was lucky enough to go to two of the six lectures, being invited by the maestro after he thrillingly talked to me & gave me advice about singing Kurt Weill’s songs in Three Penny when he attended a dress rehearsal. I already understood his place in music history, especially for his music for West Side Story, On The Town & Wonderful Town & Candide. I didn’t expect to find him so totally sexy & hot, but then, I often find men who are talented to be sexy. I loved Jewish men, especially charismatic, one of a kind major 20th century talents, with a flowing mane of hair & the ability to look me in the eye & touch my hand while telling me what he thought I was getting right & what I was missing in my performance. I went home that night simply swooning & with dreams of being the lover of one of history’s most important musical figures.
He may well be more famous among the general public than any other conductor before or since. He wrote 3 symphonies, 2 operas, 5 musicals, a mass, & numerous other pieces. Throughout the 1960s, 70s & 80s, Leonard Bernstein was undoubtedly the most visible proponent of classical music in American culture. Through his outgoing personality & resourceful uses of the media, particularly television, Bernstein introduced 'highbrow' culture into the homes of middle America, while also defending rock & roll as 'real' music & supporting radical causes. In spite of Bernstein's speaking out for unpopular causes- he was outspoken on civil rights & Vietnam, he was, for much of his career, unwilling to risk exposure of his homosexuality. Indeed, the social mores of the 1950s & 1960s meant that revealing his homosexuality would undoubtedly have destroyed the celebrity & influence he had attained. Later in life & after the death of his wife in 1978, Bernstein became quite open about his sexuality. He left behind an unprecedented amount of recordings & videos, leaving us with a legacy to be experienced for generations to come, & the memory of one 19 year old boy who melted at having been in his presence. My crush on him never diminished.
Patti Lupone & Kristen Chenoweth doing Glitter & Be Gay from Candide.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Johnny Depp is sexy because he is so talented, & well... just because he is so sexy. His upcoming film is Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland as the Mad Hatter. Have you seen the production pictures? Wow! This movie might be really luscious. Mr. Depp sure is.
He is one of the most versatile of actors & I admire a guy who is versatile. My favorite performance- as J. M. Barry in Finding Neverland.
Unforced All-American masculinity + true acting chops = yummy. Upcoming film is the romantic comedy Love Happens. My favorite performance- Thank You For Smoking.
My secret lover Jake Gyllenhaal causes my heart to flutter. His upcoming film is David O. Russell's Nailed. My favorite performance- the night together at The Chateau Marmont & he is underrated work in Brokeback Mountain. But, has given a bad performance? In development- Damn Yankees.
Birthday boy Mika's album Life in Cartoon Motion was the soundtrack for my summer of 2007. I am really looking forward to the Lebanese born, British musicians next album The Boy Who Knew Too Much, which arrives in the States on September 22nd. Adorable.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
In the summer of 1991, I did a film in which I had a very juicy part. It was really the best film role I had been cast in at that point. Too bad the film turned out to be so bad that it went straight to video. Still, it was very fun to play a character that kills several people, gets hog-tied to a log over a stream in the woods & then dies from a booby-trapped stack of logs. Really. The film- Edge Of Honor starred Corey Feldman ( who was behaving very badly), Don Swayze (brother of Patrick), & the very talented Ken Jenkins. I played a white supremacist who kills a group of Boy Scout’s that had stumbled onto his cache of weapons.
I have always been anti-gun. As a vegetarian, I find the notion of hunting difficult to comprehend. I grew up with guns, locked in a cabinet & I was never even vaguely interested. I believe in strict gun control while recognizing the 2nd amendment to our Constitution (with its controversies & ambiguities). So, I needed to find some strength of character to deal with the fact that I would be using real firearms for the filming. I had, of course, lied at the audition & had told the casting director that I was very familiar with using guns (I once had boasted that I knew how to fly a helicopter at an audition, thinking I could learn to fly before filming began, if I were cast).
On a union (SAG) film set, there is a gun wrangler who keeps, maintains, & handles the firearms. They are placed in the actor's hand before the camera rolls & taken from them the moment the director says “cut”. My wrangler taught me how to handle & fire a rifle so that it would appear that I knew what I was doing. I had a half day of shooting lessons. After decades of freely giving my opinion about the evil of guns in our country, when it came time to actually use one, I pulled that trigger, felt the kick back against my shoulder, heard the noise made by the blank… & I was thrilled. Really thrilled. I spent 10 days of filming looking forward to every moment with my gun. I wanted to touch it & hold it. It made me feel really sexy. I loved my gun. When filming was over I made a promise to myself to take lessons & continue to practice at a firing range. but, when I returned to my civilian life, I quickly forgot my love for my gun & returned to my liberal peacenik- ban the guns persona. Actually, that is a good thing. As a guy that is given to total outrage, I don't need to be holding a weapon. Trust me on this one.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Brazilian music, of all genres, is a favorite of mine & I have a fairly large collection. One of my all time top 5 favorite songs is Águas de Março by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I collect covers of that particular song. I think that the album- Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim is as close to a perfect album as I have ever encountered…especially on a late summer evening. Some of my favorite recording artists from Brazil: Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto, Sergio Mendes, Bebel Gilberto, Vinicius Cantuária, Gilberto Gil, Seu Jorge, & especially Caetano Veloso.
I have new favorite. In the world of Brazilian music Otto occupies a place as unusual & unlikely as his name. Born- Otto Maximiliano Pereira de Cordeiro Ferreira, he combines the textures of electronica with the traditional African derived rhythms he first heard growing up in a small town in the interior. I am digging this. BOB is a moody, atmospheric bossa nova with a fresh unusual sound.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I had made a personal challenge to do a blog post a day. I missed yesterday & I let myself off the hook. I can often be a disappointment to myself, but I had started my day at 4am & I returned home 12.5 hours later. It was not the birthday of anyone I cared to note & I just was not up for telling a story from my past or passing on my musings about music, movies, books or hot men. I had some interesting things put out to me about Post Apocalyptic Bohemian in the last day or two. It had been commented on that I might get a bit too raunchy or unnecessarily bawdy in my posts, but I am basically a bad boy & Goddamn it, you motherfucking cocksucking shitheads…it is my blog! Hmmm... do I need to censor myself? Another comment was made that I just seem to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE everything. This is not true. I am very complicated & very opinionated & I have done a few posts on things I dislike & piss me off, but when I started this blog it was meant to be a way to mark & celebrate the things, people, events & culture that I love.
I had a Manhattan, (alright, I had 2) at my favorite neighborhood watering hole & I started to think: What were the all the many things, especially cultural things, that shaped who I am in my deep middle-age. I have shared many of these with readers, including this week’s post about music in my childhood. Thanks to all who commented. Bloggers love to get comments.
At 11 years old, my parents were not interested in censoring what I saw (within reason) & they never shied away from taking me to movies or plays that were intended for adults. My first play was South Pacific with Janet Blair, in Chicago, at 5 years old. For some reason I was fascinated by all the sailors with their shirts off. A film that had a very big influence on me was a movie my parents took me to see at a drive-in theatre in summer 1965. At 11 years old, I saw Inside Daisy Clover & it had a profound impact on me. This film started a lifetime love of & fascination with the stage, TV & film actress Ruth Gordon. In no small way has she been an influence on me. One of her 3 volumes of memoirs contains a quote that I have always held close to me. By the way, the parents would take me to see Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe the next summer. I watched Inside Daisy Clover from the very back of our station wagon & I was enthralled. I have seen it at least once a decade since, & that is a lot of decades. Now, I am not sure that I find Inside Daisy Clover to be a quality film, but it certainly blew my little gay 11 year old mind.
Inside Daisy Clover takes place in the 1930s & was based on a novel by Gavin Lambert & brought to the screen by the producing-directing team of Alan J. Pakula & Robert Mulligan. In addition to Wood, the film stars Robert Redford (in an important early role) as a charismatic, homosexual movie star, Christopher Plummer as the tyrannical head of “ Swan Studios,” Roddy McDowall as Swan’s attaché, & Ruth Gordon as Daisy’s eccentric mother. The film received mixed reviews but has become a cult classic for its terrific score by Andre Previn, vivid performances & cynical depiction of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Daisy Clover (Natalie Wood) goes from teenage girl (she was actually 27 playing 14) to movie star practically overnight when her demented mother (Ruth Gordon in an Oscar nominated performance) enters her voice in a talent search contest. She lives in a broken-down carnival on the Santa Monica Pier, & in no time at all she is attending glamorous Hollywood parties. But Daisy soon learns that misery & pain go along with fame & fortune. Before Daisy completes her first film, the studio execs have her mother committed to an asylum without permission. Daisy tries to find happiness in a series of unfulfilled romances. She has a single day marriage to Wade Lewis (Robert Redford) leaving her alone & divorced. After her mother dies, Daisy has a nervous breakdown & refuses to work, but the cold hearted studio head threatens her with starvation if she does not report back to the soundstage. This is a story of a Hollywood dream that turns into a nightmare. It made me frightened, but thrilled at wanting to be a star.
I really enjoy this apartment in a drawer in Denmark. I think the design is first rate & the pull-out function is zany, but I think I would enjoy living there. I wish my house could be pulled-out for easy cleaning. What a great way to get rid of dog hair; with 2 terriers, I sweep & vacuum enough hair each day, to make an entire new dog.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
William Jefferson Clinton remains my favorite president, despite DADT & DOMA. I am afraid I would had to have given him head if I had been an intern. Powerful men can be very sexy. President Bill Clinton turns 63 today & I still think he is hot. His wife recently reminded the world that she is Secretary of State... not him!
"Being President is like running a cemetery; you've got a lot of people under you & nobody is listening."
Broadway, TV & film actor & singer Peter Gallagher celebrates his 54 birthday by remaining smokin' hot.
Yummy, yummy John Stamos gets better with age. A star on Broadway & TV, & occasional drummer for The Beach Boys; today he turns 46.
What was the first album that you ever purchased?
I love music more than anything in my life that is not a person or a dog. My first listening was my parents' record collection which I loved. I felt free to listen to & dig through their large LP selections. My favorites by age 6 were Dinah Washington, Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin & Nat King Cole. I was crazy for thier Broadway musicals including South Pacific, The Music Man & My Fair Lady. I thrilled to carefully taking the record from its sleeve & placing it on the black rubber turntable pad. I would push the button on the gears would engage with a whir & the tonearm would magically lower to the outermost groove of the record. How did it know? My first stereo of my very own (age 8) was an RCA portable, all in one unit with detachable speakers, that sat on a table beside my bed. By the time I was in high school, I thought bigger was better (in more than one way) & I had Yamaha amplifier with Thechnics turntable & 4 big enough to be furniture speakers by Genesis, that were placed in each corner of my room.
My first album that I bought with my own money was Meet The Beatles. The Husband says that his first, with money earned from baby sitting, was the Original Cast recording of West Side Story & housemate T says that his was Little Criminals by Randy Newman because of the song- Short People (he still likes his men short). In my high schools years I had every musical i could find including hard to find Original Casts of Goldilocks (Elaine Stritch & Don Ameche), Greenwillow (Tony Perkins), Salad Days, Cindy, & Henry, Sweet Henry. I had Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman & the Japanese & Swedish casts. How could my parents not know that I was gay? I also really listened to a lot of Bread, Cat Stevens, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, & Carly Simon... plus the constant rotation of Godspell, Company & Follies. Forty years ago today, I was listening to Joy To The World by 3 Dog Night, I Feel The Earth Move by Carole King, You've Got A Friend by James Taylor, What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, & Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves by Cher.
I lost most of my albums to Mt. St. Helen's eruption. I was living, with the future Husband (then the boyfriend) in Spokane & the ash from the volcano was mid-calf deep & it got into everything, including our LPs. The dust actually got into the sleeves & made cuts into the records' grooves. I then went to cassettes & eventually CDs. Now, I almost exclusively download my music & I listen with little tiny earbuds (which sounds so Van Gough-ish) on a device the size of a credit card.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
N. an emphatic tone used by a normally reasonable person
Provenance: emailers, IMers & texters
Example: "when the Husband texted me using his CAPS-LOCK VOICE, I knew I was in a heap of trouble & I would need to find a way to explain for my loutish behavior"
Oh my, today’s birthdays of people I admire because of their talent & longevity of careers: actress Anita Gillette (loved her so much in Moonstruck), dancer-Suzanne Farrell, Oscar winner- Timothy Hutton, favorite funny man- Steve Carell, talented beauty- Angela Bassett, & Broadway, film, TV star, & major talent- Leslie Ann Warren. Add the birthdays of celebrities that have camp value: fun to watch train wreck- Kathie Lee Gifford, Catwoman & nutcase- Julie Newmar, swingin’ songbird Eydie Gorme (she had 27 top ten hits including the #1 song of 1963- If He Walked In to My Life), & the birthday of a very famous gay man from another era- author & archaeologist T. E. Lawrence…
but what do they matter when today is the 51st birthday of the queen of the universe: Madonna Louise Ciccone? She is weeks away from releasing a 3rd greatest hits collection, she is currently on her Sticky & Sweet tour, she has that mad yoga body & she is dating a man young enough to be her son. Madonna continues to reinvent herself & fascinate us. She has had 7 albums debut at #1 & has had 39 top ten hits. As an actress, for every Swept Away & Body Of Evidence there is an Evita, Dick Tracy or Desperately Seeking Susan. As a pop star & entrepreneur she is unequaled. Madonna has earned the love of gay people since 1983.
My Favorite Madonna album is Ray Of Light.
My favorite performance is Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy.
My favorite moment was standing on David Letterman’s desk & asking him to smell her underwear.
My top 10 Madonna songs:
9. Crazy For You
7. La Isla Bonita (Extended Remix)
6. I’d Rather Be Your Lover
5. Express Yourself
4. Material Girl
3. Justify My Love
1. Ray Of Light
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Safe, Poison) will write & direct a re-make of Mildred Pierce (for which Joan Crawford won an Oscar for Best Actress) starring Kate Winslet for HBO. I see Mr. Haynes around town, but I have never been able to articulate how blow away I was by Far From Heaven... & I love to gab with the celebs.
70 years ago today, The Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater & homosexuals have never been the same. “Mommy, Mommy…please let me watch The Wizard of Oz, please!”… from 1956 to 1998 The Wizard of Oz was an annual television tradition at my house & all over the United States. Because of these broadcasts, it has become one of the most famous films ever made. The Library of Congress names The Wizard of Oz as the most-watched film in history. It is often ranked among the top ten best movies of all-time in most critics' & popular polls, it certainly is in mine.This film has provided enduring quotes for our popular cultural consciousness. Its signature song, Over the Rainbow, sung by Judy Garland, has been voted the greatest movie song of all time by the American Film Institute.
Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt turns 37 today. An Oscar winner as a screenwriter, he really can act (as George Reeves in the noir-Hollywoodland) & he really can direct (Gone Baby Gone). Ben Affleck is married to Jennifer Garner, but he has had serious romances with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Damon, Jimmy Kimmel, & a very hot one night stand with me.
She started in Vaudeville as Baby Rose Marie, but I will always love her as the first woman character, with a career, that I had ever seen on a TV series. Rose Marie’s scenes in the office with Morey Amsterdam & Richard Deacon remain my favorite parts of one of my top 10 TV series ever- The Dick Van Dyke Show. She has worked as a singer & actor on stage, screen & TV. Rose Marie marks her 86th birthday today.
Beautiful, talented, funny Debra Messing celebrates her 42nd birthday today. Will & Grace brought me much happiness & laughter. I really enjoyed her work on The Starter Wife, a TV movie & then series, that she shared with some very hot male co-stars.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I read Stephen Glenn Martin’s funny & moving memoir- Born Standing Up this spring & I thought it was one of the best show biz books ever. I have loved him since his absurdest stand up work in the mid- 1970s. Who knew that he would go on to write great pieces for The New Yorker, plus novels & plays such as The Underpants & Picasso at the Lapin Agile (both frequently produced in regional theatres)? My favorites of his film work: The Jerk, Pennies From Heaven, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, All Of Me, Little Shop Of Horrors, Parenthood, Grand Canyon, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, & the apex of his career as actor & writer- LA Story & Roxanne. Even in dreck like Bringing Down The House, Cheaper By The Dozen or The Pink Panther he remains funny, charming & handsome.
Steve Martin is a first rate magician & musician. He has one of the most important private art collections in the country. Martin is an Emmy winner & he won Grammys for his comedy albums & for Best Country Instrumental Recording for his banjo work on Foggy Mountain Breakdown with Earl Scruggs. He has been honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor & a Kennedy Center Honor. On July 28, 2007, Martin married Anne Stringfield at his Los Angeles home. Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey presided over the ceremony. Lorne Michaels was his best man. Tom Hanks, Eugene Levy, Carl Reiner, & magician/actor Ricky Jay were not informed that a wedding ceremony would take place. Instead, they were told they were invited to a party, & were surprised by the nuptials!
One degree of separation… Marcia Gay Harden got her SAG card for an episode of Simon & Simon in a scene with Jamison Parker, who I also appeared with, in a different episode of the same series. I first made note of Marcia Gay Harden for terrific work in The Coen Brother’s Miller’s Crossing. Harden debuted on Broadway in Tony Kushner's Angels in America in 1993. For her film work, she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Pollock (2000), & was nominated in the same category for Mystic River (2003). I loved her as Ava Gardner in the TV film- Sinatra (1992). She won a Tony this year for Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage. Harden has been mentioned in the short animated clips of Queer Duck. Queer Duck first starts by saying "Oh, there's Marcia Gay Harden," to which Oscar Wildcat replies, "She doesn't make this gay harden."
After posting of my delight at being reunited with Mari Wilson, I noted that I wanted to hunt down another favorite from the early 80s-Karla DeVito. Well, wonders of the World Wide Web…
Karla DeVito’s 1981 album Is This a Cool World or What? was often blasting on the stereo at our cool apartment on the top floor of a pre-war brick building on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I played this album over & over, singing along to her originals & her great covers of Jim Steinman’s Heaven Can Wait, The Grass Roots’ Midnight Confessions & John Fogerty's Almost Saturday Night.
Karla started in theatre in her native Chicago. She went on to be a backup singer for Meatloaf. Karla later struck out on her own & as a solo artist she opened for Hall & Oates & Rick Springfield, & did club dates of her own. She met her husband of 27 years actor-singer-writer-director-cutie pie Robby Benson (Ode To Billy Joe, Ice Castles, Beauty & The Beast) while they were both appearing on Broadway in The Pirates of Penzance. The Bensons live in NYC where Robby is a professor at NYU. Karla continues to do voice work. Dig that crazy 80s look on her album cover!