Tag Archives: ELVIS PRESLEY

Tracie brings Judy back to Broadway, Kal takes a flyer on a pilot, and Mother D gets her nun on

CASTING ABOUT: Brit sensation Tracie Bennett brings her Olivier award-winning talents to Broadway on  March 19 when she opens at the Belasco with her controversial portrayal of Judy Garland in the  West End musical

BENNETT: as Garland

hit End Of The Rainbow … popular German TV presenter Barbara Schöneberger will host the Rose d’Or Awards Ceremony on May 10 in Lucerne … Kristin Kreuk has been set as the lead in the CW pilot Beauty and the Beast, a remake of the CBS series from the late ‘8Os … and Harold and Kumar star and House alumnus Kal Penn is set to star in the ABC comedy pilot Prairie Dogs.

MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN:  This year’s Floating Film Festival sailors started their day yesterday with a fluffy croissant of a movie — Darling Companion, from Big Chill filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan.  Ostensibly about a lost dog, it’s really a gentle look at the different stages of male-female relationships and the emotional baggage we carry with us from childhood. And what a cast — Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline –Rex Reed, who introduced the film, pointed out that this is Kevin Kline’s sixth outing with Kasdan — Dianne Weist and Richard Jenkins, Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men,  screen enigma Sam Shepard and more.

KEATON & FRIEND: going to the dogs

Thanks to Rex, our afternoon screening was a bit of a mind-bender.  Remember Dolores Hart, the actress who co-starred with Paula Prentiss, Yvette Mimieux and Connie Francis in Where The Boys Are? Some 47 years ago the fair Ms Hart left showbiz  to take holy orders. She’s now Mother Dolores at a cloistered convent in Bethlehem, Connecticut, and is the subject of the Oscar-nominated short God Is The Bigger Elvis. Knowing that Mother D’s chum Paula Prentiss would be on board with husband Richard Benjamin, Rex brought a copy of the film for all of us to see. Fascinating to hear Mother Dolores — now the Prioress of the Regina Laudus Abbey — reflect on her Hollywood screen life with Anthony Quinn, Montgomery Clift and, yes, Elvis himself. Even more fascinating was meeting the beau she left behind — Edith Head had already designed her wedding dress — and seeing his relationship with her today.

HARRELSON: all too convincing

The 26-minute short film was a stark contrast to the Woody Harrelson shocker Rampart, a somewhat relentless saga of a corrupt cop that proved to be a tough slog for many of us. Harrelson is all too convincing as the flawed protagonist, and he gets great back-up by a dazzling cast of supporting players, including Ned Beatty, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Audra Macdonald, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright, each of whom make the most of their material. Not exactly a good time at the movies, but undeniably strong filmiest fare.

ROSENTHAL: Raymomd by any other name

Rounding out our celluloid hat trick last night was a film about television by someone who definitely knows what he’s talking about. Exporting Raymond is a genuinely funny and unexpectedly revealing ‘In’-sight into the world of television.  The documentary follows Phil Rosenthal, creator of the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, as he attempts to translate Raymond into a Russian sitcom. In a classic “fish out of water” scenario, show-runner Rosenthal travels to a distant land to help people who don’t want his help. What soon becomes amusingly apparent is that it is show creator Rosenthal, not Ray Romano, who is the real-life Raymond, with eccentric parents who are almost as camera-friendly as Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Watching him try to interact with understandably  suspicious Moscow TV types quickly becomes a guilty pleasure — which I suspect is exactly what Exporting Raymond star and producer Rosenthal had in mind. His sitcom was a monster hit and great fun, but his doc is not only entertaining, it’s also painlessly educational. Who’da thunkit?

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Tommy turns 75, Celine & Tony sound off, Kelly & Jay play Fallsview and Arlene writes a bestseller

SHARPS & FLATS:  Crowd-pleasers Kelly Clarkson and Jay Leno are both set to entertain at Fallsview Casino next month, with the increasingly popular World Rock Symphony Orchestra now set to return in April …

PIECZONKA: Toronto Tosca

sublime Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka continues to dazzle as Tosca in the lavish COC production at the Four Seasons Centre now through Feb. 25 …  Daniel Lanois is set for two CBC Music concerts next month at the Great Hall on Queen Street.  The concerts coincide with Lanois’ induction into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame during Canadian Music Week festivities that same week … and legendary country gentleman Tommy Hunter will celebrate his 75th birthday by hanging up his guitar once and for all. Currently on tour, he’ll blow out the candles at a splashy birthday party in London, ON, on March 20, right after he gives his final concert at the John Labatt Centre. Should be quite a night!

HATS OFF:  To Tony Bennett and Celine Dion, who skipped the platitudes and went straight to the heart of Whitney Houston’stragic demise. Bennett says he has received mostly positive reaction to his statement urging the legalization of drugs in the U.S.

HUNTER: birthday boy

Legalization, he believes, would get rid of all the gangsters. “One thing I’ve learned about young people, when you say ‘Don’t do this,’ that’s the one thing they’re going to try and do. Once it’s legal and everybody can do it, there is no longer the desire to do something that nobody else can do.” Bennett, now 85, survived his own cocaine habit in the late ‘70s. Houston, who was 48, had admitted to using cocaine, marijuana and pills in the past. Dion, who is now, 43, considered Houston  “an amazing inspiration” but was clearly upset that “drugs, bad people, bad influences, took over her dreams, her motherhood,” she told Good Morning America this week. “When you

DION: remembering Whitney

think about Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson — to get into drugs like that for whatever reason – because of stress, bad influence, whatever — something happens that I don’t understand. That’s why I’m scared of show business, of drugs and hanging out. That’s why I don’t go to parties!” The private By Invitation Only funeral for Houston is set for tomorrow in New Jersey.

AND YES, YOU SHOULD TAKE IT PERSONALLY:  She’s worth millions and demonstrates how she got there every week on CBC’s megahit series Dragons’ Den.  But Arlene Dickinson shares even more of herself in her first (but, I predict, not her last) bestselling book, Persuasion, with some hard-won personal advice that everyone can use. “It’s a good idea,” she notes, “to take a hard look at your own narrative. Think about how you’d tell your life story to a Hollywood producer, how you’d explain the highs and lows. Have you cast yourself as a victim of circumstance? If so, maybe your story could use a rewrite, starting with the lead character who has choices – and sometimes makes the wrong ones.”

DICKINSON: persuasive life lessons

Making the wrong ones is something Dickinson knows about. She’s made quite a few herself. But, as she points out, those of us who have made some wrong choices along the way are in good company. High achievers are mistake makers, a fact she illustrates with engaging examples from Henry Ford to Oprah. (My favorite? Thomas Edison’s perspective on his many unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb. “I didn’t fail one thousand times. The lightbulb was an invention with one thousand steps.”)

Persuasion is about the art of connecting with the person you seek to persuade. It’s about caring. And about how to master “a little-known secret to success in business”  – listening. But because Dickinson makes it personal, Persuasion is much more than a How To book; it’s a survival guide for the mind and, sometimes, the soul. And within that survival guide are some valuable insights on corporate culture. “Staying in a situation you hate and complaining about everything that’s wrong, but never trying to fix it, doesn’t make you a martyr. It makes you complicit.”  Similarly, her views on our ability to choose the consequences of failure are bracing and refreshing. Bitterness is not an option, she insists, and shares another favorite quote, this one by mathematician Blaise Pascal: “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

As CEO of Venture Communications she also has  some genuinely amusing business stories to tell, including the time one of her partners,  trying to save the company money, arranged for her team to stay on a friend’s sailboat off Vancouver Island instead of paying for pricey Vancouver hotel rooms. When they arrived at the dock she noticed that the boat’s name was Important Business  — andsuddenly realized what my partners meant when they told me in the past that they work ‘going away on important business.’ They were talking about this sailboat!”

Stylish on screen and off, she appreciates the fame that television has brought her but resists the urge to take it for granted. “I have exactly the same insecurities anyone has,” she admits. “If anything, they’re even more overwhelming when you know a couple of million people are seeing all your flaws in high definition!” And despite the fact that her on-screen chemistry with fellow Dragon Kevin O’Leary has made her an audience favourite, her account of her auditions for Dragons’ Den (yes, she had to do more than one) and how she had to discipline her own self-doubts to get the job — she replaced another Dragon when she came to the series in its second season — is intriguing inside stuff.

Of course that’s why Persuasion is a bestseller. It’s a hypnotic, hard-to-put-down book of life lessons shared by someone who had to learn most of them the hard way. As Arlene Dickinson sees it, the main obstacle standing in our way is, not surprisingly, us. “Our past shapes and influences who we are, but it doesn’t limit who we can become.” Persuasion, as promised, is a new approach to changing minds. And although she preaches the power of persuasion, she urges her readers to be sure of their objectives, be they personal or professional. “Before you set out to persuade someone,” Dickinson writes, “you need to be certain that you actually want what you’re asking for. Because you just might get it.”

*     *     *

… now, where was I?

Oh, right, I was telling you that By George was about to take a two-week hiatus.

That was in November 2009, as I recall.

CRYSTAL: sorely missed

And as I recall, I was planning on getting right back to you. Until I dropped my calendar. And by the time I picked it up again I was already … well … distracted, you might say. First by the holiday season, and then by those golden winter games  now known as the Canadian Olympics, and then by the 82nd annual Academy Awards, which was almost as much fun as a meat-packing convention. Have the Oscar ever been such a predictable mirror of the previously-distributed Golden Globe and SAG Awards? Were you as surprised as Sandra Bullock was when she won?  And should we start a petition right now to draft Billy Crystal back to host the frequently less-than-enchanting evening? Let’s face it, we’re finally at the point where the show doesn’t work without him.

BURNS: Eligible for cloning?

Meanwhile, in yet another 40th season triumph for Ken Gass‘ Factory Theatre, frankly fabulous playwright George F. Walker has written, directed and opened another hit play, And So It Goes, with riotously riveting performances by Martha Burns and Peter Donaldson, both of whom should be immediately cloned so we can feast on their work until we start taking them for granted, which God willing will be Never. Burns and Donaldson are so consistently brilliant that merely attenpting to describe them makes me run out of adjectives. And yes, I own a Thesaurus.

You’d think all that might make their respective mates insecure, except their respective mates are kinda busy. Ms. Burns’ hubby Paul Gross, about to be seen on the big screen in the new western spoof Gunless, is hard at work prepping

McCARTHY: Back in the Mosque

the first season of the TV spin-off of his hit movie Men With Brooms for CBC Television. Donaldson’s mater, award-laden gamin Sheila McCarthy, who co-starred with him as one of the dynamic romantic duos on the three-hanky Love Letters special, is busy shooting a new season of Little Mosque On The Prairie for CBC and a whole mess of other channels all over the world.

P.S.: And So It Goes closed its premiere run on March 6. Will it be back? Count on it. And count the days ’til you can see it again — or better still, for the very first time.

And while we’re on the subject of footlights, that new buzz on Broadway is the sound of box office cash registers ringing. And not without reason. TV lions Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace) and Tony Shaloub (Monk) are

HARPER: as Bankhead on B'way

sharing the stage with Justin Bartha (The Hangover) for the Broadway revival of Lend Me A Tenor, directed by veteran stage and screen-stealer Stanley Tucci … four-time Emmy winner Valerie Harper is tearing up the Great Light Way as legendary drug-addled actress Tallulah Bankhead in Matthew Lombardo‘s new comedy, Looped, based on historic incident and gossip surrounding La Bankhead’s final film … good news for Christopher Walken fans. He’s back on Broadway, starring with Sam Rockwell in the world premiere of Martin McDonagh‘s new play, A Behanding In Spokane. And no, I don’t know what that means either …Alfred Molina, so good as Carey Mulligan’s dad in An Education, is back on Broadway, reprising his role in the hit London thriller Red. Luminato-bound John Malkovich is already set for the screen

EDNA: nothing like a Dame

version … and talk about yer dynamic duos! Dame Edna [a.k.a. Barry Humphries] and cabaret prince Michael Feinstein are rocking Broadway with a new two-hander cunningly called All About Me. “One megastar, one gigastar, a 12 piece orchestra, more than 40 songs, and 22 ladies lavatories!” And yes, Edna and Michael also persuaded Christopher Durang to help them shampoo their libretto … also wooing New York visitors: Come Fly Away, a new dance musical by Twyla Tharp showcasing the music and the voice of Frank Sinatra in what its fans proclaim as “the most romantic evening on Broadway!” … and one of the most intriguing new entries, Million Dollar Quartet, is a new musical based on a 1956 meeting of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley. “They came together to make music. They ended up making history.” Sounds like a lot of fun to me.

TOMORROW:

Wassup with film folk George Clooney, Taylor Lautner & Matt Damon.

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Brigitte gets some Oscar buzz, Meryl gets Teased, Buddies get Ann-Margret, Broadway gets 007 & Wolverine, and Jodie gets Mel (maybe)

BUDDY BUDDY: Best Buddies, the non-profit organization that has helped thousands of individuals with intellectual disabilities become more inclusive in everyday life, has put smiles on thousands of faces — but this week it’s Best

ANN-MARGRET:  Buddies system

ANN-MARGRET: Buddies system

Buddies Canada co-founder Danny Greenglass who’s all smiles. Why? Because bonafide screen legend Ann-Margret is coming to town. One of Hollywood’s last great triple-threat performers, she made her movie debut almost five, count ’em, five decades ago and has never stopped working. Ask her about her favourite leading men and she’ll tell you about every male movie idol from Steve McQueen to Jack Nicholson to John Wayne to Elvis. And when she isn’t tackling the gritty roles that won her all those Oscar and Emmy nominbations — she already owns five Golden Globes  —  she’s still kicking up her heels (and those still fabled gams) in her SRO stage shows. Following in Shirley MacLaiue’s footsteps last year, Ann-Margret will jet here next week with her producer husband Roger Smith to celebrate Best Buddies 15th anniversary at a gala evening at the Four Seasons in her honour. And that’s truly something to smile about.

STREEP TEASE: Yes, the American Council on Science and Health is mad at her for saying that Julia Child‘s cuisine was not exactly cholesterol-free. But Meryl Streep is so popular again — and you know how these things come and go

STREEP; comedy Tease

STREEP; comedy Tease

— that an irreverent group of guys are giving her a stand-up comedy salute this weekend in Hollywood.  Called Streep Tease, the event is the brainchild of actor-comedian Roy Cruz, who is producing and performing in the show with fellow thesps Taylor Negron, Sam Pancake, Steve Hasley,  Eddie Sanchez, Mike Rose, Trent Walker and David Dean Bottrell (Boston Legal.) All of them will try to find their inner Streep in a live stage tribute re-creating her greatest screen monologues, including memorable speeches from such Streep mega-hits as The Devil Wears Prada and The Bridges of Madison County. Bottrell chose a monologue from Out of Africa because he loves the Danish accent. Pancake chose Postcards From the Edge, and Negron is doing Sophie’s Choice. And no, I’m not making this up. The curtain lifts on this theatrical show at bang.studio in Los Angeles on Saturday, but if you’re on the east coast you can watch it from  the theater’s webcam at 11 p.m. Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Screen lions Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman will show up together on Broadway this fall in Keith Huff’s new

FOSTER: busy Beaver

FOSTER: busy Beaver

stage play A Heavy Rain. A deal to adapt the play as a feature, to star the same duo, is now in the works … Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are teaming up for Love and Other DrugsCamilla Belle will play Kevin Spacey‘s daughter in his upcoming flick Father Of Invention …  and Jodie Foster will direct and co-star in The Beaver, about a man who has an unusual relationship with a beaver handpuppet. (And no, I’m not making this up.) Not only that, Jodie’s Maverick troubled but gifted co-star, Mel Gibson, is in negotiations to play the lead. So there!

PLAYBOY OF THE EASTERN FILMFEST: Only a few people have actually seen it so far, but Oscar buzz has already started for Brigitte Berman’s eye-

BERMAN: Oscar buzz

BERMAN: Oscar buzz

popping new screen biography of Hugh Hefner, which premieres at TIFF next week and reveals his next-to-forgotten life as a champion  of women and a supporter of gay rights at a time when the concept was nearly unheard of in mainstream America.

Berman, of course, already owns one Academy Award, which she won for her stunning profile of American music legend Artie Shaw.  And she admits she had some trepidation when she finally showed her film to Hefner and some of his friends in mid-July. Much to her surprise, and delight, and relief, Hefner was moved to tears at the end of the screening.  “It was,” she confides, “an extraordinary moment.” No wonder Hefner, now 83, is hoping to jet here for the Saturday Sept. 12 premiere.

TOMORROW:

Broadway’s most honoured hoofer hits the road again,

Lindsay Lohan gets a gig, Oprah packs for Toronto, and more.

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About Evan’s new show, Atom’s new movie, Liz’s Elvis recipes, and Moby’s and Lindsay’s new videos

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE:  Erudite interviewer Evan Solomon will take a page out of Reach For The Top host Alex Trebek‘s dictionary next

SPEEDMAN: Atom-ic man

SPEEDMAN: Atom-ic man

season when he hosts  CBC’s new reality game show, Canada’s Super Speller, as 12 young finalists vie for the title. (Okay, kids, can you spell S=t-r-o-u-m-b-o-u-l-o-p-o-u-l-o-s?) … fans of Scott Speedman and Arsinee Khanjian will soon to get to see their much-anticipated work in  Atom Egoyan‘s prize-winning Adoration when the drama opens here next month. For a sneak preview, click here … and you’ve probably heard all about it by now, but Lindsay Lohan‘s send-up of her somewhat battered public persona, created earlier this month for Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die website, gets smarter and funnier every time I revisit it. If you missed it, click here. And enjoy!

SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE: Dutch-based production company Endemol, creator of the controversial Big Brother reality TV franchise, is tapping into the global recession and struggling businesses with Someone’s Gotta Go, a series

TRUMP: going, going ...

TRUMP: going, going ...

set to air on Fox TV. Workers at struggling firms will be enlisted to choose who will get a pay cut, a raise in salary, or lose his or her job completely — based on information about their colleagues’ pay and reviews of their past performance. One troubled company — and a new layoff — will be featured each week.

According to Endemol, the concept “is the reverse of reality shows like The Apprentice or The Rebel Billionaire, in which a business mogul like Donald Trump, Alan Sugar or Richard Branson progressively whittles down prospective employees in a prolonged survival challenge/job interview.”

True — but Survivor candidates have been voting each other off the island for almost two decades, and Big Brother’s ‘houseguests’ have voted to evict each other for the past 10 seasons. So a new show it may be, but a highly original concept it ain’t.

PRESLEY: secret chef?

PRESLEY: secret chef?

SOMEONE’S IN THE KITCHEN WITH ELVIS:  Who is it? None other than New York gossip girl Liz Smith, still the showbiz columnist of choice. In her book Dishing Liz writes about her collection of Elvis Presley cookbooks. “These actually exist,” she insists. “Are You Hungry Tonight? …The Presley Family & Friends Cookbook  … The I Love Elvis Cookbook, and the one that is my all-time favorite, Life & Cuisine of Elvis Presley.”  Liz claims she often goes to bed hungry and just reads Life & Cuisine with her mouth watering. “Elvis might have lived longer if he’d eaten only fish, tofu and vegetables,” she muses – “but can one call that living? I can’t see Elvis getting off food anymore than he could get off drugs. Linus had his blanket … Proust his Madeleine … Elvis had his (cook) Pauline on duty.”

DAVID IS HIS LYNCH-PIN: Last year film director David Lynch (Twin Peaks) gave a speech about the nature of Creativity that proved inspirational for

MOBY:  Lynch-er

MOBY: Lynch-er

singer-songwriter MobyMoby says Lynch’s remarks led him to focus on making a new album he loved, without really overly concerned about how many CDs he might sell.“As a result,” he says, “it’s a quieter, more melodic, more mournful and more personal record than some of the records I’ve made in the past,”

EMI Music Canada will release Moby’s new album Wait For Me in Canada on June 30th. And the video for the album’s debut track, Shot In The Back Of The Head, is shot by none other than ol’ Blue Velvet-eyes himself, David Lyuch. And you can watch it here.