Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ALERT: NKOTBSB!!!


You know what those letters stand for if you are a fan-atic, and today about 200 press and extended press joined in the fanfare at Fenway Park when out walked NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK and BACKSTREET BOYS wearing RED SOX JERSEYS! They all flew in to make the official announcement themselves!!!!

The KIDS and the BOYS will play FENWAY PARK for one performance only SATURDAY JUNE 11!
Fenway tickets go on sale to the public on Saturday, February 5th at 10am EST at etix.com and LiveNation.com or by calling 800-514-3849 TICKETS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AT THE FENWAY PARK TICKET OFFICE. Block Nation presale will begin on Thursday, January 27th at 10am PST. AMEX presale will begin on Friday, January 28th at 10am EST.
They had to juggle their schedules and move their Nassau Coliseum show to July 31st, leaving them free to perform at FENWAY JUNE 11. They join a short and prestigious list of performers who've played the legendary ballpark including PAUL MCCARTNEY and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.
Among the TV/radio/entertainment honchos and celebs at today's event were The GLOBE's great and now retired Music critic Steve Morse, Live Nation's enigmatic DON LAW, and Kiss 108's eternally evergreen, venerable, legendary, still alive and kicking Matty in the Morning who hosted a live webcast. He and I decided anyone who was 40 was still a kid.
I certainly felt like one when New Kids Donnie and Jordan called out my name and asked ME to ask the first question at the news conference--I immediately flashed back to the first time I met them. It was 150 years ago and they invited me to their dressing room for a pre-show interview. They were about 14 and I, well I was so much older then-- I'm younger than that now.
The kids remain adorable, sane, and true blue after all the international adulation, record sales, and world tours. They were genuinely moved to be playing on the field they went to as boys growing up in Boston, cheering on their favorite team. I chatted with Joey and his dad who was there at the conference, and Donnie who took a break from shooting his TV series BLUE BLOODS in NYC and BackStreet Boy Brian Littrell who spoke in a soft southern voice and was grateful for the warm Boston welcome. I left them heading off to a photo shoot in front of the green monster, grabbed a Fenway frank and drove off with The Right Stuff and I Want It That Way running through my head...

Friday, January 21, 2011

THEATER: "R.BUCKMINSTER FULLER:THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE"


There's something astonishing happening at the A.R.T. right now. Veteran actor Tom Derrah is starring in a one man show as visionary scientist,inventor,teacher, designer "R.BUCKMINSTER FULLER," inventor of the Geodesic Dome. The production is a wild ride through the extraordinary ideas of Milton MA born Fuller who had a mind Harvard couldn't hold. They expelled him twice. No matter; Fuller's brain yielded an explosion of thought that sprang from the simple kernel of an idea: to do more with less. His inventions ran from fuel efficient cars and showerheads, to houses in a kit; he was obsessed with the connections between science and art, synergy, integrity, god. He whipped himself into a creative frenzy as he talked about man as a living experiment on a dynamic planet which he was the first to dub "spaceship earth"!

Well, if Earth was a spaceship to Bucky, then Tommy Derrah blasts off the stage and into the stratosphere of what's possible for an actor; all I wanted to do was hang on for the ride. Derrah captures the visionary's sense of wonder, his expansive intellect, enormous spirit, humanity, and abiding optimism. The sheer volume of the text is as daunting as the content which ranges from the integrity of triangles to their metaphysical implications. Derrah holds the stage and shapes the material over two spell-binding hours. He makes it all look fun and easy, intelligible and accessible. The show is enriched by old film footage of Bucky's family; I had the pleasure of meeting his daughter Allegra who was in the audience the night I saw the play, and the sparkle in her eye let me know I had caught a glimpse of the man himself. I intend to pore over the script-- it may become my new bible.

DO NOT MISS "R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER:THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE." Now through February 5 at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

THEATRE: RUINED/NEIGHBORS


Here's the best of what's onstage right now in Boston:
"RUINED" at the Huntington Theatre!! This 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner will tear you apart.

It's set in the middle of the Congo's civil war, where rape is a weapon and women bear the deepest scars; they are "ruined" physically and emotionally. As one character finally proclaims, "You will not fight your battles on my body anymore." Those words rang in my head, as I watched the actors in this masterful production embody the full emotional scope of this tragedy.

The play is closely observed, richly detailed with characters terrifying and tender-- "Mama" played by the extraordinary Tonye Patano, survives by running a bar/brothel and takes no sides; she serves liquor and girls to both the rebels and government soldiers, while trying to protect the desperate young women who have been forced into prostitution there. Every performance is vividly alive, and the play works itself up to a powerfully emotional, and surprisingly redemptive conclusion. DO NOT MISS "RUINED"! Through 2/6.

Now if you want to be challenged, COMPANY ONE'S excellent Boston premiere production of NEIGHBORS by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a real slap upside the head. And if you're wondering if my using that expression is racist, you're in the right neighborhood. NEIGHBORS is about the Pattersons, an interracial couple-- Richard(black),Jean (white,and their daughter Melody(mixed). Life is going along just fine until new neighbors move in: a family of minstrels by the name of Crow: Jim Crow Jr., Mammy, Sambo, Topsy, Zip Coon-- I think you get the picture. Gradually these "neighbors" infiltrate the Patterson's marriage, conversations, consciousness and attract the attention of their rebellious teen-aged daughter. When some of Jim Crow Jr.'s black face rubs off on her, mom and dad go berserk. The play cleverly explores how the same black stereotypes continue to live in our culture and tilt the conversation about race and class. As you watch, you will wonder when, or if, to laugh or clap. You will wonder if Jean saying "sometimes she forgets" her husband is black-- is racist or not. You will wonder when college professor Richard reinterprets Euripides IPHIGENIA as a play about being brought down by the rabble while courageously challenging the Man, if that is what he really means when he says "I blacked out"?

NEIGHBORS features a fabulous cast especially Johnny Lee Davenport, Valerie Stephens, and Japonica Brown, and is audaciously directed by Summer L. Williams. Prepare for graphic, in your face sexual farce and off color remarks. Prepare to be shocked, embarrassed, saddened, emboldened,and amused. Go. I dare you. Through 2/5

Monday, January 17, 2011

A WACKY WEEK AROUND THE GLOBES...


Weird week. More about the above photo in a bit.
-- Survived the second blizzard of 2010. 20 inches plus!!! YAY!
-- Found out I almost wasn't a Virgo. I still am. Close call.
-- The Pats succumbed to the loudmouthed Jets--perhaps there is no cosmic justice. Even I-- who could care less about sports-- found myself scouring The Globe this morning searching for the reasons, the turning points, the ANSWERS to how there could have been so much failure to execute. Is the Pat's game too Brady-centric? Is it so transparent that all the insufferable Jets had to do was crack the quarterback's code to leave us defenseless? Is there NO back-up plan? Whatever.

So I watched The GOLDEN GLOBES, the notorious pre-cursor to the OSCARS hosted by comedic terrorist Ricky Gervais. Last night, he didn't just push the envelope, he exploded it, leaving the audience to sift through the wreckage. Ricky left more than a few bodies in his wake and made us squirm; I'm not convinced that's entertainment. During the second half of the show he seemed somehow chastened-had someone terrorized him during intermission??

Onto the awards--I believe the top three awards last night will carry over to the Oscars, though they will be chosen by an entirely different voting body. THE SOCIAL NETWORK will win Best Picture, Natalie BLACK SWAN Portman will win Best Actress, and Colin THE KING'S SPEECH Firth will walk off with BEST ACTOR. Robert Downey Jr. gave a sharply funny, articulate, self-deprecating presentation of the Best Actress nominees, without sacrificing any of his edge, dignity, or the dignity of those he was introducing. Ricky, pay attention.

Now for the RED CARPET!! Everyone who thought January Jones, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Lopez were the most gorgeously turned out women there, raise your hands. January was glorious in red strappy Versace, a retro shoulder length page boy, and full red lips. Anyone else would have looked trashy. She remained elegant, her sylph-like silhouette barely covered by that extraordinarily engineered gown.

Halle was pure sex in her black, spaghetti strapped, tight-bodiced, slit-skirted chiffon gown. She has the most perfect torso in tinsel town and needed no adornment--the shortest hair, no jewels other than diamond cuffs. The more of her we
see,the better the view.

And finally, Jennifer Lopez. That gown would have made anyone else look like the mother of the bride. Instead, Lopez transported us to another plane: she was a gleaming goddess in white against flawless skin and a high ponytail to highlight her high cheekbones. Girl we couldn't get much higher.

Now a word about Helena Bonham Carter. See photo at top of blog. She's gorgeous, and she's marching to her own inner fashion muse. She looks wild-eyed, like someone's lunatic aunt, wearing mismatched shoes, post-apocalyptic hair (Perhaps she and Keith Richards share a hairdresser?),and a dress that appeared sewn together from couch upholstery.
I LOVE HER. Thank you Helena. See her in THE KING'S SPEECH.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

MOVIES: STRONG & WRONG

Gwyneth can sing. This performance with Vince Gill earned her a standing "O" at the recent Country Music Awards.

Remember that single Paltrow once recorded with Huey Lewis in 2000 from the movie DUETS? Well the woman's got an appealing voice and is mighty convincing in her latest vocal foray: COUNTRY STRONG about a country singin' superstar trying to make a comeback after crashing off a stage in Dallas propelled by drugs and alcohol. Tim McGraw once again turns in a subtle and effective performance as her worn-down manager/husband. The lovely Leighton Meester who also sings and has released an album-- is credible as a beauty queen and aspiring country singer nipping at Gwynny's heels. Their mutual love interest? The hunky and charming Garrett Hedlund. The performances are good, the plot not so much. The emotional lives of these characters are not fully explained--and the film is drawn out only to sucker punch us in the end. HUH??? What just happened and why?? Gwyneth's performance almost makes us forget, but not quite. I left with a bad taste in my mouth.

THE TOURIST on the other hand is just plain WRONG. Angelina as a woman of mystery looks like a vampire on assignment from Vogue, and Depp has begun to resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy. Pockmarked and pyjamed, he scampers all over Venice panting after Jolie until a demented denouement involving international thugs, Interpol, and plastic surgery. If Venice weren't already sinking, this would have done the trick. THE TOURIST has been nominated for 3 Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture, Actor and Actress; that should give you some idea of the standards the International Foreign Press Association applies in its deliberations.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MOVIES ON THE BEATEN PATH...

There are a slew of movies that are now playing at a theater near you-- both on and off the beaten path. Let's start with the beaten path:


--TRUE GRIT is the Coen Brothers tepid take on the John Wayne classic about the gunslinger and the girl who hires him. All of the Coen brothers movies seem like the wild west: human fables with bullets and bloodied limbs flying over an untamed landscape, but this fable seems tamer and more shapeless than most. Jeff Bridges is ornery as hell as drunken U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, while a mustachioed Matt Damon is a hoot as a self-important Texas Ranger with a heart of gold and a head full of rocks. The scene stealer is 14 year old Haille Steinfeld as Mattie Ross who hires Rooster to shoot the man who shot her pa. She's smart as a whip, handles the language like a Shakespearean thespian, and has more technique than a barrel full of Barrymores. The film gallops along, but never really takes off, then keels over and dies. Looks mighty purty though.

Much More engaging is:


--127 HOURS the true story of Aran Ralston a mountain climber who gets his arm caught between a rock and a hard place while canyoneering alone in Utah. After five days, he does the unthinkable in order to free himself: he cuts off his arm with a dull blade. Director/screenwriter Danny(SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE)Boyle ingeniously fleshes out this gruesome event to a dramatically involving 97 minutes in which Aran sorts through his life, his loves, and ultimately his need for both isolation and connection. James Franco holds our focus and his as the funny frisky climber who will probably never again leave home alone.

And speaking of "home":


THE COMPANY MEN stars Boston's hometown boy Ben Affleck who loses his home when the big corporation he works for downsizes and he and his co-workers played by Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper are left swinging in the breeze while the big boss rakes in the bonuses. The plight of these men hits home despite a formulaic script by writer/director John ("ER") Wells; each man deals with the loss of income and clout in a different way depending on his character and relationship to his family. It was uncomfortable to watch--I know many people in this situation. Ben gives one of the best performances of his career, his working class Boston accent surfacing ever so subtly the more time he spends around his surly construction worker brother-in-law played in a surprising and effective turn by Kevin Costner.