Category Archives: Commentary

Hot time in the ol’ town

I HATE BLOW DRYING MY HAIR.

Blow-dry

I have a lot of it. And in the summer, it is a hot, time-consuming, uncomfortable, thankless job.  Plus, I have to flat iron it to get it really straight.

Yes, I splurge for blow-outs at the salon now and then, but tonight, it’s on me.

And I hate when it’s my turn.

Location, location

I’m watching Food Network Star right now, which has been in Las Vegas for the past couple of weeks.

But it certainly doesn’t look like Vegas.

food network star vegasEvery time Bobby, Alton or Giada — the show’s three hallowed hosts — stand before this season’s contestants to set up a challenge, it looks like they are shooting the episode in an empty room. Or vacant parking lot.

Food Network goes to such great lengths to clear out the ‘normal folk’ during production, Vegas looks nothing like the manic city I have experienced every time I’ve had the chance to visit.

Why go to the expense of using Vegas as your backdrop if you’re going to make it sterile and still?  You might as well fake the whole thing at the Food Network studios here in New York City.

The show’s producers must have heard me.  They just announced this week’s survivors are coming to Manhattan for the remainder of the season.

That will probably look like Cleveland.

 

 

That’s life

Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has received enormous attention and near perfect reviews.

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It should.

The fact that it was 12 years in the making is epic enough. That the same actors gathered together to recreate this family each year…so the passage of time Is made all the more authentic by every bad haircut, each pop culture reference.

But Boyhood’s true appeal lies in Linklater’s choice of subject matter: the simple, day-to-day ups and downs of a family doing their best to juggle school and jobs and divorce and remarriage and financial worries and love and loss.

Chances are, at certain points in this movie, you will recognize yourself or your family.

And it will make you smile.

Constructive criticism

Feedback — we have to give it and receive it, sometimes daily depending on our jobs.

That doesn’t make it any easier to hear.

Tim Minchin, the Olivier-award winning and Tony-nominated songwriter of Broadway’s Matilda, once received a very bad review that he couldn’t really shake off.  How did he deal with it?

He wrote a hilarious song about it.

I’ll have to try that sometime…

Note — Minchin is currently workshopping a new musical in London based on the movie Groundhog Day. Can’t wait to hear those lyrics!

Leftovers

I am fascinated by The Golf Channel’s coverage of The Open at Royal Liverpool.

open coverage golf channelSo far this week, they have broadcast seven hours of ‘live’ coverage each day — followed by a repeat of that same coverage in the evening hours — and the golf tournament hasn’t even started yet.

That’s three days, 14 hours per day, of nothing but press conferences, talking heads and video of a practice round or two.

But no golf.

When the tournament begins on Thursday — at 4am ET, mind you — ESPN has the honors of showing actual rounds of golf.

Sucks to be the baby of the (cable) family, am I right?

 

Here’s to Tony

Thanks to Time Warner Cable’s primetime OnDemand, I was able to watch the first episode of WeTV’s new drama The Divide before it’s premiere this Wednesday, July 16th.

the-divideI was initially drawn to the show because Tony Goldwyn, our beloved president on Scandal, is one of the executive producers and the director.  He has an impressive list of credits in the director role :  Scandal, Justified, Dexter, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, and The L Word.  So I figured this new show was worth a look.

And I was right.

The story centers on a prisoner who has been on death row for almost 12 years for the murder of an entire family.  All appeals have failed, and he is scheduled to be executed in a matter of weeks when a member of the Innocence Initiative finds new evidence that may be enough for a new trial.

The cast is excellent, what I’ve seen of the writing is compelling, and Tony’s direction is top-notch.  I’ve already set my DVR to record the entire series.

Check it out!

 

Feeling patriotic

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I saw the 7 o’clock performance of 54 Below Sings 1776 tonight.

I love this show.  Hearing it performed in this format made me love it even more.

I love that the performers were part of the audience.  I love the MC’s wit and fun facts.  I love that I was able to personally say thank to the cast members  after the show.

It is a very intimate space.

Just another reason I love New York…and America!

Asleep in my takeout

I am fascinated by the critics’ take on the movie Chef, which is currently 88 percent fresh on RottenTomatoes.com.

I found it stale and oh-so-overcooked.

chef movie

I watch a lot of Food Network, so I had high hopes for the film’s ‘recipe’: a chef gets fired after he starts a Twitter war with a restaurant critic,  and opens a food truck.

Seems new, seems current.

Turns out all the conflict that drives the film is in the first 15 minutes.  After the chef (Jon Favreau) loses his job, everyone and everything starts working in his favor.

  • Need a food truck?  His ex-wife gets her other ex-husband to provide one.  Takes him to Miami to get it. Appears to bankroll the enterprise, too. (Sure, that happens.)
  • Need help setting it up?  His former junior cook travels across the country — without pay — to help him get started. That sainted ex-wife even takes orders at one point.
  • Need to reconnect with your kid? The ex-wife — again, the most non-confrontational divorced couple in the history of movies and life, for that matter — lets an 11-year old kid work as a line cook on a food truck for the entire summer. Without checking in. Right.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case you plan to see it.  But let’s just say that, once the food truck is parked –

Nothing really happens then, either. Or if it does, they don’t show it.

Because conflict might wake you up out of your food coma.

 

All hail Hedwig

I approached yesterday’s matinee performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with my share of doubts.

Not about Neil Patrick Harris — he can do anything.

But drag performers are the latest rage on Broadway. Last year’s Tony-winning Kinky Boots gave them both their entrance and their legitimacy. The decision to put up the revival of Hedwig now seems a bit like ‘joiner’ behavior.

Not gonna judge it sight unseen, though…especially with Neil at the helm.

HedwigThe first few numbers are fast and fun and full of Neil’s familiar charm and humor, so it’s easy to think you’re just watching him do  fantastic drag.

Then Neil simply disappears as Hedwig’s story takes center stage, one filled with loss and love, pain and power, disfigurement and metamorphosis.

Neil is supported on stage by a great rock band — one guy is from Lexington, Kentucky! — and Lena Hall, who also won a Tony for her drag performance.

But the show is all about Neil.  All about Hedwig.

He is mesmerizing.

Stop and go

Another train trip last night, another two-hour delay.

But not one person complained.

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Our train was held at the station in Philadelphia for over an hour because an Acela near Wilmington hit two people on the tracks.

Both died.

No matter how long I was stuck on that train… how late I was for my meeting… or even how lousy the weather was when I finally arrived in Washington –

It was a great day to be alive.