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Archive for February, 2015

Bruce Vilanch Performs at SF AIDS ‘Newsies’ Benefit March 2

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Edge Media Network
Bruce Vilanch Performs at SF AIDS ‘Newsies’ Benefit
by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Feb 26, 2015

4-27-2013 4-05-43 AM

On Monday, March 2 at Marines’ Memorial Theater in San Francisco, Bruce Vilanch will host a one-night-only benefit cabaret performance of “Newsies.” The event will raise funds for The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF).

“This is not a concert version of the ‘Newsies’ show, but an entirely original ‘one night only’ benefit show featuring cast members from the show, plus the three special guests,” explained Executive Director/Event Producer Ken Henderson of REAF.

Vilanch will be accompanied by company members from the national touring cast of the Tony Award-winning show “Newsies.” Also joining Vilanch is “America’s Got Talent” cabaret and comedy star Shawn Ryan.

The evening begins with a mini silent auction from 6:30-7:30 p.m., followed by the show until 9:45 p.m., capped off with a dessert party with the cast in the lobby of the theater, for VIP ticket holders.

The show is part of a series of “One Night Only” benefit cabaret shows that help raise funds for REAF’s mission. To date, REAF has worked with more than 50 touring Broadway shows to present this cabaret series, and every show is entirely different and unique.

“While they don’t perform music from their touring shows, what they do come up is amazing, creative and highly entertaining. It’s a chance for many of the cast members who may not have starring roles in their touring show to showcase the amazing talent that they do have,” said Henderson. “You don’t get cast in a big Broadway show if you don’t have big talent and these shows are a perfect example of that. From the stars to the swings, everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. These are truly ‘one-night only’ experiences you won’t see anywhere else.”

The “Newsies” benefit will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 2 at Marines’ Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter St. at Mason St., 2nd floor, San Francisco 94102. Tickets $35-80.

Bruce Vilanch To Be Celebrity Judge For The Second Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Stoli® Gives Bartenders a Shot at Cocktail Glory with its Second Annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic

4-27-2013 4-00-51 AM

NEW YORK, Feb. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/—Stoli® Vodka, in partnership with the Key West Business Guild, today announced its second annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic – North America’s largest annual LGBT cocktail competition. The mix-off sees bartenders showcase their skill and ingenuity as they battle to be crowned the 2015 Cocktail Classic Champion at the Grand Finale during Key West Pride 2015.

Using Stoli Vodka as their primary ingredient, participants in 14 cities across North America will create an original cocktail for a panel of local celebrity judges, who will evaluate the drinks on uniqueness, taste and appearance. Aside from being crowned the 2015 Cocktail Classic Champion, the winner will ride in the Key West Pride Parade as the Honorary Grand Marshall and receive $5,000 for a LGBT or LGBT-friendly charity of their choice.

“It is an honor to host the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, North America’s largest annual LGBT cocktail competition,” said Patrik Gallineaux, the national LGBT Ambassador for Stoli. “Our community’s hard-working nightlife professionals often do not receive the recognition they deserve. It is amazing to see what our nation’s bartenders can do with their imagination, their cocktail shaker and Stoli THE Vodka!”

In partnership with the Key West Business Guild, an organization of LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly businesses in Key West, the competition will be hosted by Gallineaux and TV personality Jai Rodriguez. It will also feature a panel of celebrity judges including clothing designer Andrew Christian; legendary funnyman Bruce Vilanch; actress and singer LaToya London; and Key West personality and star of the annual New Year’s Eve High Heel Drop, Sushi.

“The LGBT community has some of the most inventive bartenders in the country,” said Matt Hon, executive director of the Key West Business Guild. “Through the Key West Cocktail Classic, they’re getting the opportunity to showcase their creativity and put a spotlight on the community. Key West, especially during Pride week, is the perfect stage to recognize them and the contributions they make to nightlife.”

The cocktail classic will take place at 14 events in the following participating cities:

Dallas – March 2
Los Angeles – March 15
Denver – March 30
Miami/Fort Lauderdale – April 6
New York – April 9
Chicago – April 15
Washington D.C. – April 20
San Diego – April 23
Philadelphia – May 5
Toronto – May 7
Boston – May 12
Vancouver – May 14
Seattle – May 17
San Francisco – May 27
Key West (Finale) – June 13

A maximum of seven bartenders will be selected to participate in each local event. For more information about the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic including how to apply, rules, guidelines and the full schedule of events, visit www.gaycities.com/cocktailclassic.

About Stoli Group USA, LLC
Stoli Group USA, LLC is the North American subsidiary of SPI Group, recognized globally for pioneering heritage and the outstanding Stolichnaya® brand of premium vodkas. New York-based Stoli Group USA reflects significant growth investment in the U.S. market by parent company SPI Group and will drive the brand forward through new marketing, sales and brand innovation. Internationally distributed Stolichnaya vodkas are bottled in Latvia and are known for award-winning flavor and impeccable clarity. Considered a trailblazer in the vodka industry, Stolichnaya vodka defines the benchmark for quality with meticulously crafted liquid that meets the highest Alpha Spirit standard. The Stolichnaya brand portfolio includes Stolichnaya® Premium Vodka, ultra-premium elit™ by Stolichnaya®, Stolichnaya® 100 Proof Premium vodka, the super-premium Stolichnaya® Gold and Stolichnaya® Flavored Premium vodkas including Ohranj®, Razberi®, Vanil®, Citros™, Peachik® and Hot™. For more information visit www.stoli.com or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stoli and on Twitter @Stoli.

About Key West Business Guild
The mission of the Key West Business Guild is to promote LGBT travel to Key West through marketing and the promotion of specialty events; to support gay-owned, gay-managed, and gay-friendly businesses; to strengthen the Gay community’s position within the local community by supporting relevant LGBT issues. The KWBG was founded in 1978 by 8 local gay business owners and has grown to approximately 400 members, which work together to continue efforts to brighten the rainbow over the island, an island now known as Gay Key West. Promotion of events, such as Key West Pride, Tropical Heat and Womenfest, has made Key West a year-round LGBT travel destination.

Kritzerland to Bring ‘THE BIRTHDAY BOYS’ to Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal, 3/8

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Broadway World
Kritzerland to Bring ‘THE BIRTHDAY BOYS’ to Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal, 3/8
February 20, 2015

4-27-2013 3-29-19 AM

Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents “THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: THE SONGS OF STEPHEN SONDHEIM & ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER” on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 7:00 PM.

Sue Raney was signed to Capitol Records at age 17 and, with Nelson Riddle, recorded her first album,”When Your Lover Is Gone.” Since then, she’s recorded more than 20 other albums singing Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini, and dozens of other Great American Songbook songs. She’s been raved about by such NY critics as Rex Reed, who says he’d travel to LA just to hear her sing, by Nat “King” Cole, and by Julie Andrews, who calls her “a marvel.”http://sueraneysro.com

Bruce Vilanch (Primarily known as writer for a variety of celebrities, including Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, and many more, he went to write for the Academy Awards, and scored acting roles in the film Mahogany, Bosom Buddies, Law & Order, his own one-man show, and starred on Broadway as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray after playing the role for two years in the show’s first national stage tour.)

Music Director: Lloyd Cooper

For our 55th Kritzerland show we’ve taken two wildly different musical theatre songwriters and paired them up, since no one in their right mind except Kritzerland would do such a thing. Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber just happen to share a birthday in March – March 22nd to be exact – and we’re here to celebrate that occasion with a wild, wacky and wonderful show. As always, you’ll hear the known and the unknown, the common and the uncommon, from shows such as Follies, Phantom of the Opera, Company, Cats, Anyone Can Whistle, Sunset Blvd. and many more. We’ve assembled an amazing cast and back with us is one of our favorite guest stars, the inimitable Bruce Vilanch. We’ll have some surprises, too, so don’t wait too long to make your reservation. Speaking of reservations, be sure to read the new reservation information below. We’ve switched to a ticketing service for the cover charge – we fought against doing this as long as we could, but all the shows at Sterling’s now use it, and frankly we were simply having way too many people reserve and then not show up, without even cancelling, which means we turned people away. Anyway, it’s easy/breezy. For March only we’re the second Sunday, due to a wedding reception at The Federal on the first Sunday. Kritzerland is produced and hosted by Bruce Kimmel, and co-produced by Adryan Russ.

The only way to reserve now is via Brown Paper Tickets! It’s easy! Go to:http://sterlingsupstairskritz.brownpapertickets.com. This takes you directly to the BPT page for Kritzerland. If you prefer to reserve by phone, call (800) 832 3006. Live operators are available to assist you 24/7! $15 entertainment cover + $5 venue/security fee = $20/ticket. Email confirmations will be sent to you by BPT following your transaction. For anyone wanting to reserve tickets from your SmartPhone, go directly towww.brownpapertickets.com.

*Please note: Once you’ve reserved your seats, the BPT cancellation policy kicks in. You have a 12-hour window to make any adjustment in your reservation, or to cancel your reservation for a refund. After that window has passed, all sales are final. No exchanges or refunds.

Early reservations are highly recommended. Dinner reservations: DOORS OPEN 5:30pm. SHOW STARTS 7:00pm! Reservations have already started coming in, and are highly recommended.

Sterling’s at The Federal is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. The Federal Bar is adjacent to the El Portal Theatre. The North Hollywood Stations for the Metrolink Red Line and Orange Line are directly across the street, north of Chandler on Lankershim. Parking is available – entrance for Federal lot is on Weddington Street (directly behind the building) at $3.50. There is also available street parking.

For information (only) about Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal, visit www.msapr.net/Sterling-s-at-The-Federal.html or call 818 754 8700.

Oscars 2015: Bruce Vilanch’s Guide to Watching the Telecast

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Hollywood Reporter
Oscars 2015: Bruce Vilanch’s Guide to Watching the Telecast
By Bruce Vilanch
Feb 22, 2015

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THE NIGHT BEFORE
Gather all viewing essentials. These should include:


Chinese food
• A cheap bathrobe onto which you can drop pork lo mein in duck sauce
• Boxes of filthy wine
• Popcorn, to make you feel like you are at the movies and not just watching clips of movies you’d never think of seeing
• A Koosh ball in all the colors of the gay-pride rainbow (more on this later)

 

AROUND NOON
Red carpet begins

It won’t be the same without Joan Rivers asking:

• Who are you wearing?
• Who are you married to this year?
• Why are you here?
• What is that smell?
• Do you know any single, straight guys in Bel Air (East Gate) who might be interested in my daughter or me, or both of us?

 


Drink every time someone looks over the shoulder of the person they’re talking to because there’s someone more famous out of camera range.

5:00 P.M.
Half-hour to showtime

• Rid yourself of distractions, including your well-meaning but dim friend who will ask, “But what’s the difference between sound editing and sound mixing?”
• Put on cheap bathrobe
• Open carton of spring rolls

 

5:30 P.M. 

Neil Patrick Harris bursts forth to host. The biggest shock of the night will be if he offends anyone, even aged Nazi war criminals watching from huts deep in the jungles of Paraguay. But on the Oscars, you never know. People who never watch TV or go to the movies or have ever heard the phrase “self-cleaning oven” invariably tune in to the Oscar show and are outraged by everything they see, hear or think they saw/heard.

 


 

DRINKING GAME #2 

Drink every time there’s a shot of an actress with ridiculous cleavage.

Bonus drink if she’s texting or checking her teeth for lipstick. Unless it’s Patricia Arquette, because she just doesn’t care. If it’s a bad year for cleavage, you can substitute a drink for each time the camera lingers on someone that no one on the planet recognizes, which means it’s the director’s spouse or the seat-filler where Marion Cotillard is supposed to be — or it’s Meryl Streep, who has stopped dressing for these things.

 

6:00 P.M.-ISH
First acting awards: supporting actor/actress

You will know it because it will be presented by last year’s winner, of whom you will have to be reminded. If you love the winner, have a spare rib. If you loathe the winner, here’s where that Koosh ball comes in. Fling it violently at the screen. You’ll do no harm. Repeat this all evening. Very therapeutic. People in the theater will wish they had a Koosh ball. Or any balls.

 


 

GOOD TIMES TO TAKE A WHIZ

• Recap of Sci-Tech Awards
• Governors Ball festivities
• Documentary Feature
Documentary Short Subject

Because you probably aren’t interested, unless Kim Kardashian’s rear end is presenting the award.

HOURS LATER

There may be an awkward political moment when the documentary award is presented. That’s usually when it happens. But by then you won’t care. In fact, as the afternoon turns into evening, a good deal of the audience no longer cares. For each person who wins, there are four people who don’t, so the audience fills up with losers. And with seat-fillers, for losers who are so bitter they’re already at the bar or in the car, or the bar in the car. But you have no such worries. You are in a duck sauce-stained universe, watching Adam Levine manfully tackle a song you’ve never heard from a movie you didn’t see. And in a few hours, there’ll be Julianne Moore looking terrific as she hoists her Oscar high. Next year, you’ll get dressed up and go to a big party. And watch the whole thing on DVR when you get home. Of course you will. Now then, what’s on TCM?

The Ten Weirdest Projects That George Lucas Has Been Involved With

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

This past weekend, George Lucas released his fairytale musical fever dream, Strange Magic. A movie in which fairies sing ELO and Lady Gaga for 99 minutes. But that wasn’t the only bizarre venture that Lucas has tried to develop. Here are the 10 weirdest projects Lucas worked on throughout his career.

 

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1) Howard the Duck

Prominent in the pantheon of Lucas-related misfires is his 1986 pet project Howard the Duck. Scripted by his frequent collaborators Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, it destroyed the considerable underground cred of Steve Gerber’s wisecracking creation and turned him into a running joke that endured at least until Jar Jar Binks could come along to take some of the heat. Huyck, Katz and executive producer Lucas somehow thought it wise to take a gonzo sendup of ‘funny animals’ cartoons and repackage the concept as two hours of strained quirk, inane duck jokes and bland adventuring that sees Howard teleported to Cleveland to hit on a hapless Lea Thompson and fight a possessed Jeffrey Jones.

2) Captain EO

When Michael Eisner and Frank Wells were appointed to run Disney in 1984, one of their mandates was to revitalize the company’s theme parks. That year also saw Michael Jackson at the height of his popularity, prompting Eisner and Wells to engineer a collaboration between George Lucas and his moonwalking superfan to see what delirious excess could come of such an endeavor. The result was a 17 minute 3D film, co-written and produced by Lucas (and directed by Francis Ford Coppola), that starred Jackson as the titular commander of a ragtag starship crew tasked with delivering a gift to the evil Supreme Leader of a decrepit planet. Met with hostility, the Captain nevertheless decides to reform the locals and their Leader with the Power of Song. Exhibited in Disney’s theme parks, the film stunned audiences with then-cutting edge special effects and 3D technology. Less of a technological marvel today, Captain EO is more striking for its camp value, catchy musical hooks and the impressive design of Angelica Huston’s vaguely H.R. Giger-ish space queen.

3) Wolfman Jack’s Cameo In American Graffiti

When Lucas was a young film student, one of his great heroes was disk jockey Wolfman Jack. So when Lucas made his big film, set in the early 1960s, he made sure to give Wolfman Jack a huge cameo — in which Wolfman Jack is sort of a disk jockey version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He tries to pretend that he’s not actually Wolfman Jack, although he doesn’t actually say “Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time.” And he’s sort of mysterious about his relationship with the reclusive Wolfman, while also dispensing strange wisdom. Wolfman Jack told New York Magazine he only took a flat fee to be in the film, and actually spent $10,000 of his own money to promote it. “We wanted this picture to take off,” Wolfman said, “It’s what I’m all about. Nonsensical, but loving.” (Related: See Wolfman Jack meet the Cylons in Galactica 1980.)
4) “Nuking the Fridge

 

Actually, both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have tried to take the blame for the infamous sequence in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Indy shelters from a nuclear explosion inside a refrigerator. Lucas says Spielberg is lying about the fridge thing being his idea, because “he’s trying to protect me.” In fact, Lucas put together a whole “nuking the fridge” dossier to prove that it was plausible and quiet the concerns of Spielberg and star Harrison Ford. (And to bolster Lucas’ story, here’s an interview with the librarians at Skywalker Ranch, where they explain that they were assigned to call a nuclear physicist and get more information on how a fridge really could protect you from an atomic test.) Lucas also takes a certain amount of blame for Crystal Skull in general, since he nixed a previous script by Frank Darabont that might have been slightly better.

5) The Star Wars Holiday Special

We couldn’t possibly leave this one out, although Lucas has tried to have it suppressed. We only wanted to have one Star Wars item on this list, and there’s one clear candidate that stands out above everything else — the prequels, the Ewok cartoon, everything. To be fair, Lucas didn’t oversee the filming of the Holiday Special, but he does bear a significant amount of blame for its legendary awfulness.

This 2008 Vanity Fair article goes into insane detail — basically, Lucas had been convinced by various people that a holiday special would keep interest in Star Wars alive and sell some toys. And Lucas was originally quite involved — he ” knew the tales he wanted to tell and planned to work with the show’s team of seasoned TV writers to develop his ideas into a viable script.” And that’s where things went wrong:

When [writer Bruce] Vilanch heard Lucas’s storyline at a development meeting at Smith and Hemion’s L.A. offices, he quickly realized that a “big challenge” lay ahead. Lucas was intent on building The Star Wars Holiday Special, as it would be called, around Wookiees—specifically, the family of Chewbacca, Han Solo’s shaggy sidekick, as they outwitted Imperial forces to come together on Life Day, the Wookiee equivalent of Christmas. Suddenly, Vilanch says, the special was in danger of looking like “one long episode of Lassie.”

“I said: ‘You’ve chosen to build a story around these characters who don’t speak. The only sound they make is like fat people having an orgasm,’” the 250-plus-pound Vilanch recalls. “In fact, I told Lucas he could just leave a tape recorder in my bedroom and I’d be happy to do all the looping and Foley work for him.”

Lucas met these comments with a “glacial” look. “This was his vision, and he could not be moved,” Vilanch says.
Lucas insisted on the Wookiee life day story, and then got swamped working on other stuff, letting the Holiday Special happen more or less unsupervised. And it “metastasized,” as the Vanity Fair article delicately puts it:

Onto the body of Lucas’s sentimental and irony-free Wookiee plotline, the producers and writers grafted a campy 70s variety show that makes suspension of disbelief impossible. In between minutes-long stretches of guttural, untranslated Wookiee dialogue that could almost pass for avant-garde cinema, Maude’s Bea Arthur sings and dances with the aliens from the movie’s cantina scene; The Honeymooners’ Art Carney consoles Chewbacca’s family with such comedy chestnuts as “Why all the long, hairy faces?”; Harvey Korman mugs shamelessly as a multi-limbed intergalactic Julia Child cooking “Bantha Surprise”; the Jefferson Starship pops up to play a number about U.F.O.’s; and original Star Wars cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill walk around looking cosmically miserable.
The whole Vanity Fair article is well worth reading.

6) Willow

Lucas dreamed up the idea for Willow as early as 1972 and, during production on Return of the Jedi, approached Warwick Davis (who also played Wicket the Ewok) about playing the lead role. But it wasn’t till the mid-80s – by which point FX technology was sufficiently advanced – that the film was finally shepherded into production with Ron Howard as director and Lucas as EP. Davis plays the hobbit-like lead, tasked by a wizard to safeguard a magical child from a witch queen. Somewhat of an ersatz Lord of the Rings, the film’s archetypal characters and narrative broad strokes also bear more than a passing resemblance to Star Wars. That said, a few lively performances and action set-pieces redeem the tired story beats to some extent. Extra points for (perhaps not so) affectionate swipes at movie critics Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel and Pauline Kael.

7) Chronicles of the Shadow War

Lucas, apparently, wasn’t quite done with the Willow universe. He hired famed X-Men comics writer Chris Claremont to collaborate with him on a trio of novels – starting with 1995’s Shadow Moon – that continued the story begun in the 1988 movie. Lucas clearly wanted the novels to stand on their own merits, repainting what was once a straightforward, almost childlike fictional universe in much darker tones. He and Claremont go Alien 3 on the story from the very beginning, killing off half the old cast in brutal fashion, then going on to detail — via some ornate and sometimes explicitly violent prose — a deeply troubled world in which the film’s characters appear almost incongruous.

8) Twice Upon A Time

Lucas has made more than a few contributions to the animation industry over the years but the first animated film he ever produced was 1983’s all but forgotten Twice Upon A Time. A marvel of surreal stop-motion animation, it follows shapeshifter Ralph the All Purpose Animal and his mime sidekick Mumford as they try to save their world from nightmare-creator Synonamess Botch. The film sank unfairly from trace after a brief theatrical release that was mishandled by the floundering Ladd Company. That commercial failure, however, does nothing to negate the value of its distinctive aesthetic, unique ‘Lumage’ animating technique and imaginative worldbuilding.

9) The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

One of Lucas’ more successful (creatively speaking anyway) forays into television, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles brought the epic historical sweep of the films to the small screen. Following a teenage Indy as he traveled the world and encountered numerous historical figures, the show was intended in part as educational programming but still managed to pack enough action to draw accusations of being too violent. Despite the inclusion of many clunky dialogue exchanges that are basically thinly disguised classroom lectures, the show was buoyed by its production values and a colorful supporting cast featuring franchise veterans like Harrison Ford, Roshan Seth and John Rhys-Davies as well as stars-to-be like Daniel Craig and Catherine Zeta Jones. Among other things, Young Indiana Jones goes to India and meets Krishnamurti, who was being groomed as the young World Teacher by the Theosophical Society, and also befriends a young slave named Omar in Tangiers, getting captured himself by slavers. Alongside producing, Lucas also came up with the blueprints for many of the stories and, once ABC cancelled the show, was invested enough in the end-product to finagle a deal with the Family Channel for four additional TV movies.

10) The George Lucas Museum

This massive development, which will dominate Chicago’s lakefront, is “going to look like a tent monster that’s slowly devouring the city,” as the AV Club put it. This collection of Lucas’ art and movie memorabilia is being described as a “vanity museum,” and has been challenged by environmentalists among others. The Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic called it the Temple of George, adding:

Our First Look at the Radical Design of George Lucas’ Art Museum
A few months ago, noted traditionalist George Lucas surprised everyone by announcing he had chosen…
Read more gizmodo.?com
The plan represents a fumbled essay in “blob architecture,” a school of design that uses computer modeling to achieve amorphous, amoebalike buildings that defy conventional, right-angled geometry. In its present state, it lacks the visual excitement of a blob masterpiece like the billowy Selfridges department store in Birmingham, England. Overly abstract and under-detailed, it looks, from some angles, like a giant lump…

The real problem is that Lucas has saddled Ma with an overly ambitious program that calls for the museum to house everything but a re-creation of the fictional “Star Wars” bar habituated by freight pilots and other dangerous characters.

In addition to galleries for Lucas’ eclectic collection of paintings by artists like Norman Rockwell, “Star Wars” memorabilia and digital art, the museum would contain archives, an education center, four movie theaters and, atop all that, a circular restaurant and a halo-shaped observation deck. At 400,000 square feet, it would be more than four times the size of the one that Lucas unsuccessfully tried to build in San Francisco.