Sunday, January 28, 2007


Coming up on another benefit performance for Animal Haven, presented by Playwrights for Pets, this time an afternoon presentation designed to bring families (especially kids) to hear plays and to visit the new Animal Haven SoHo facility, where all kinds of dogs and cats are available for adoption (and all kinds of training for pet care is also available). This is a terrific cause--and likely to be a terrific and entertaining afternoon. A wonderful cast of actors (Elizabeth Gee, Laura Gillis, John Moss, Annie Pesch and Barry Steely) will read three humorous plays (THE NAME OF THE TREE, A VERY GOOD GIRL and THE SINGING GNOME). Here's the info:


a benefit reading of plays
presented by
Playwrights for Pets
Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007, 3 pm
at the new
Animal Haven SoHo
251 Centre Street
(between Broome & Grand Streets in Manhattan)
plays by
Judd Lear Silverman, Clare Melley Smith & Sue Yocum
Donation Requested: $10 Adults, $5 Children 12 & under
Running time approximately 1 hour
Reservations: Call 718-768-4213 or email

Don't miss it--but IF you do, there will be a more "adult" evening of plays coming up in April, presented by PFP at Baruch--stay tuned for details.

Friday, January 26, 2007

At the Movies

In what is a naturally busy time, post-Oscar nominations, viewers have much to catch up with, such that they will feel "in the know" when the Oscar telecast rolls around at the end of February. While this blog has only been existence a short while, it's scorecard is mixed: LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE deservedly made it all the way to the Best Picture race (and is now available on home video), while THE ILLUSIONIST, also just released on DVD, went largely ignored. (THE ILLUSIONIST features marvellous performances by Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, some truly stunning cinematography and editing, great costumes, and a gripping story that will keep you on the edge of your seat--ah, well, I guess it will be one of the cherished quiet treasures one talks about with friends versus a well-worn classic that everyone knows.)

At any rate, one film that fortunately will benefit from Oscar nods is NOTES ON A SCANDAL, directed by Richard Eyre (head of the National Theater), with a sharp, downward-spiraling screenplay by Patrick Marber (CLOSER) and spot-on performances by Cate Blanchett as a teacher involved with a 15-year-old student, the ubiquitous Bill Nighy (currently on Broadway in THE VERTICAL HOUR) as her stymied husband, and the redoubtable Dame Judi Dench, giving a tough, unglamourous and wonderfully vile performance as a aging school teacher who sees a self-serving opportunity and uses it to the fullest. The dialogue is sharp, the scoring (by Phillip Glass) is appropriately vortex-like (what would you expect from Phillip Glass?), the cinematography rightly claustrophobia-inducing and the editing jagged and furtive, it is a brilliantly-done drama of small lives shattered by needs that can't be controlled or denied. As
gripping a 90-minutes as you'll find anywhere these days, it is not the most important film of the season but it is surely one of the most involving and, with Dench, Blanchett and Nighy in tow, one of the best acted. (And young Andrew Simpson deserves special notice as the young student callously acting as the catalyst of this nightmarish descent.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Sitting here, finally at my desk again, the belated first blog of the New Year. (I guess that procrastination resolution was the first to fall . . . )

I'm listening to The Best of Bob Dylan. "How many years can a man not own/a Bob Dylan album that's his alone?" One of the iconic artists who goes beyond popular music into the very roots of American culture, as a poet, commentator, performer, philosopher . . . once upon a time, we all thought "great music but that voice drives me nuts" . . . now, his voice sounds as much a part of American history as Sinatra and Streisand . . . and the music is strangely timeless . . .

But then again, Tony Bennett's Duets:An American Classic is also an amazing addition to the landscape: a thank you note to a great artist from other generations, a chance to collaborate and pay tribute, with talents ranging from K.D. Lang and the Dixie Chicks to Elton, Billy, Stevie, James Taylor and even Paul McCartney. (Oh, yes, and Streisand.) At first listen, love songs being sung to no one in particular is disconcerting, but gradually one comes to accept that the love they sing of is actually a love of the Muse of Music, and each shared duet is an adventure blending talents, styles and sensibilities. And always, one senses the both graciousness of Bennett and the gratefulness of his given partner(s) for the contributions of this American master. (The one solo on the album is I Left My Heart in San Francisco, sung with amazing care and freshness.) Ultimately, this CD is a truly wonderful celebration of a talented American original -- a must for any collection.

Speaking of musts, we all now have no excuse to miss An Inconvenient Truth, thanks to cable and the DVD release. This shocking and disturbing documentary follows Al Gore on his campaign to awaken the American conscience to the Global Warming disaster already in full swing. The science and the data of the film is as trustworthy as that of any documentary these days--thanks, Michael Moore!--but the imagery and the explanations should make anyone who's been living under a bush (pun intended) sit up and take notice. We do contribute. We can make a difference. (And why isn't this man running for President?)

I feel badly about not having written lately, but frankly, time has been at a premium--and my eyes have been acting up, such that the computer time spent at work has had to take priority. BUT . . .

If you want to save some time, avoid In Case of Emergency, a new "comedy" on ABC, Wednesdays at 9:30 pm. The idea of putting to the test whom you really can count on in an emergency--your closest friends--is potentially a funny and moving idea, but here it's not a motivating force but an excuse for forced, frantic arm-waving without an ounce of truth or discovery. The cast of characters (Jonathan Silverman, Greg Germann, David Arquette, and Lori Loughlin, among others) graduated together from high school in '87 and have not turned out as they hoped they would. Well, who has? But while a similar conceit is served with some degree of sweetness and rue on the CBS' The Class (where they all were in third grade together!), there is not an honest moment to be had here--it's all noise and innuendo. It's assumed they're all losers without a moment's examination of what makes these people tick, their disappointments and their hopes. Instead of finding the best in these quirky and occasionally appealing performers, the show plays to their worst acting habits, creating an awful aftertaste reminiscent of Diet Coke minus the cola flavoring. This is a half hour you'll never get back, so go read a book . . . or a blog . . . or floss . . .

I promise to try to write more frequently . . . !