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Archive for February, 2016

Bruce Vilanch shares what it’s really like to write jokes for the most prestigious awards show

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Business Insider
Bruce Vilanch shares what it’s really like to write jokes for the most prestigious awards show
February 29, 2016

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When you hear the word “Oscars,” big stars, stunning gowns, emotional acceptance speeches, and the red carpet probably come to mind.

But much of what happens behind the curtain — the elements we don’t see, like the writing — makes the award show the prestigious and memorable event it is each year.

Comedy writer and six-time Emmy award-winner Bruce Vilanch, 67, has written jokes for the Oscars since 1989 and served as head writer for the show from 2000 to 2014.

In the book, “Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers,” he talks about this huge responsibility.

“Out of the hundreds [of jokes] that we write — really, hundreds — if one or two are used, it’s a big deal,” he told the books author Mike Sacks.

Vilanch told Sacks that some of the writing team’s best jokes are ones made up on the spot in the wings during the live show. But, he explains, the writers actually start coming up with jokes for the Oscars about two months in advance and keep them in a 300-page “playbook.”

This huge outline is kept just off stage so the host can flip through it during commercial breaks to refresh their memory.

The idea to make this mega-outline each year came from Billy Crystal, who has hosted the show nine times and wanted to help out future hosts with the burden that comes from having to recall so many lines and so much information.

The playbook contains a complete rundown of the show, which typically lasts between three and four hours, as well as numerous jokes. Out of the hundreds of jokes the writers come up with ahead of time, Vilanch says it’s a big deal if one or two are actually used in the show.

Vilanch says the writers are aware that certain celebrities are off limits to joke about, either because the situation is too embarrassing for them, the joke would be too cruel, they will be in the audience.

“You have to be careful to not cross the weird line,” he told Sacks.

Vilanch remembers a joke from the 2003 Oscars in which host Steve Martin would have said, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that my fly was open throughout the monologue. The good news is that the camera puts on ten pounds.”

Vilanch, his team, and even the network censor thought the joke was hilarious, but Martin didn’t feel comfortable delivering it at such a classy event.

Vilanch understood Martin’s dilemma though, because a joke at the Oscars will stick with you throughout your career.

“The choice you have to make is, do I, as a comedian, want to be remembered for this joke or not?” he told Sacks.

Child of the 70’s Season 4 Set to Premiere Monday, February 29th 2016 at Pump in West Hollywood

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Digital Journal
Child of the 70’s Season 4 Set to Premiere Monday, February 29th 2016 at Pump in West Hollywood
February 26, 2016

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Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2850701#ixzz41MWSRGpJ

The brainchild of lead actor Michael Vaccaro, Child of the 70s is the story of Carlos Perdente played by Vaccaro (creator, co-writer, producer, star) who moves to Los Angeles where he meets television star Kiki Lawrence and the egomaniacal owners of a talent agency played by Susan Olsen (The Brady Bunch) and Bruce Vilanch (Writer, Comedian).

Child of the 70s, an homage to sitcoms of the 70s and child stars of the 70s premieres Monday, February 29th 2016 at www.theofficialchildofthe70s.com.

The brainchild of lead actor Michael Vaccaro, Child of the 70s is the story of Carlos Perdente played by Vaccaro (creator, co-writer, producer, star) who moves to Los Angeles where he meets television star Kiki Lawrence and the egomaniacal owners of a talent agency played by Susan Olsen (The Brady Bunch) and Bruce Vilanch (Writer, Comedian).

The webisode series also stars: Ted Lange (The Love Boat), Randy Jones (The Village People ‘original cowboy), Judy Tenuta (comedienne), Kat Kramer (Little Fockers), Sheena Metal (LA Talk Radio host), Amy Linker (Square Pegs), Gina Hecht (Mork and Mindy, Seinfeld), Ann Walker (Sordid Lives), Terry Ray (From Here on Out), Carol Ita White (Laverne and Shirley), Chuck Saculla (Please Don’t Eat the Pansies), Kat Kramer, Jeremiah Caleb, Charlene Geisler, Lorinda Lisitza, Leo Forte and Dr. Ralph Mayer (Executive Producer).

In addition, Child of the 70s has partnered with Friend Movement to champion the anti-bullying cause within the gay/lesbian community.

To learn more about Child of the 70s, please visit www.theofficialchildofthe70s.com.

About Actor and Executive Producer Dr. Ralph Mayer

Child of the 70s is Executive Produced by ‘Hollywood’s Favorite Doctor’ Dr. Ralph Mayer (www.ralphmayermd.com) (Keeping Up with Ralph, Dating in LA): A native Angeleno, Dr. Ralph Mayer finished medical school at UCLA and completed his training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. His fellowship in Urogynecology at Harbour UCLA Medical Center honed his surgical skills for the complex repairs required to reconstruct and rejuvenate the vagina as the result of trauma at the time of childbirth. In his twenty years of practice, his excellent skills in vagina rejuvenation, labial contouring and minimally invasive procedures are well known in the medical community, having performed thousands of procedures with outstanding clinical results. While maintaining privileges at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Mayer has been a prominent figure in Medical Staff Services at the California Hospital Medical Center. He has served as the Department Chair of the OB/GYN department for eight years prior to being appointed Chief of Staff elect. He has also served on numerous committees including credentialing and surgical services. He has surgical duties teaching USC family medicine residents and Cedars Sinai OB/GYN residents. Dr. Ralph Mayer is also an openly gay father of two children.

To learn more about Child of the 70s, please visit www.theofficialchildofthe70s.com.

Bruce Vilanch Talks What Really Goes On Behind The Scenes At The Oscars

Friday, February 26th, 2016

New York Post

What really goes on behind the scenes on Oscar night
By Michael Riedel February 25, 2016 | 7:16pm

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Bruce Vilanch, one of the funniest writers in Oscar history, has no doubt Chris Rock will go for the, um, white elephant in the living room Sunday night.

“There’s no way he can ignore it,” Vilanch says of the Oscars So White controversy. “He’ll have something brilliant to say. He deals with big issues. But this year is insane anyway. The presidential race is a carnival. We have a reality TV show host .?.?. That’s a first. Even Ronald Reagan couldn’t claim that label!”

Vilanch, whose Broadway-bound musical “Sign of the Times” debuts this summer atConnecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House, wrote 23 Oscar shows. He’s not on this year’s telecast, but I thought it’d be fun to get his behind-the-scenes take on the biggest award of them all (sorry, Tonys!).

The telecast, he says, is mapped out months in advance, but most of the writing is done on the fly while the show is live.

“You’re in a little room offstage, where the host ‘lives’ when he or she isn’t onstage,” he says. “A bunch of writers are huddled around a monitor, trying to prepare a joke about whoever just won.”

The best off-the-cuff joke Vilanch and his team came up with was aimed at Michael Moore. Accepting an Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003, Moore denounced George W. Bush for sending America to war for “fictitious reasons.” The audience booed.

During the commercial, the writers began screaming out jokes. Steve Martin, the host that year, grabbed one. After the break, he walked out, smiled and said: “It’s so wonderful backstage. The stagehands are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his car.”

But when things go wrong, there’s little a writer can do but stand clear.

Vilanch worked on the 1989 telecast, whose infamous opening number featured Snow White and Rob Lowe, who attempted, sadly, to sing a parody of “Proud Mary.”

The opening was Oscar producer Allan Carr’s idea — and it killed his career. Snow White goes to Hollywood and meets great stars of the past: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Vincent Price, Alice Faye and Cyd Charisse.

“In Allan’s mind, those old stars looked like they did when he was a kid,” says Vilanch, 67. But by 1989 they looked “kind of embalmed.”

Vilanch was also backstage in 1995 when David Letterman did his much-derided Oprah-Uma-Uma-Oprah routine.

“I had suggested it might not be the best thing for TV boy to come out and make fun of their names, but it appealed to Dave’s love of the perverse,” Vilanch says. “He was having a horrible time anyway. He kept saying he felt like he was in a hostage crisis.”

On the other hand, when Jack Palance won for “City Slickers” in 1992 and did one-arm pushups onstage, the writers spun gold: “Billy Crystal was the host and he said, ‘This is too good — we have to respond to him.’?” Crystal turned it into a running gag.

Vilanch advises this year’s presenters and nominees to avoid banter.

“Unless you’re really good — like Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller — just come out and say something about the category,” he says. “Don’t make people who aren’t funny try to be funny.”

By the way, the Oscar telecast isn’t much of a pay day for a writer. “It’s viewed as an ‘honor,’?” Vilanch says, “though sometimes the gift basket is nice.”





Tickets Available Now For ‘A Sign Of The Times’ Musical By Bruce Vilanch For Goodspeed Musical Season July 29 – Sept. 4

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Middletown Press
East Haddam/Chester: Tickets avaialble now for 2016 season at Goodspeed Musicals
POSTED: 02/17/16, 5:32 PM EST

4-27-2013 4-09-31 AM

EAST HADDAM >> Don’t miss your chance to get the best seats for each of the five musicals during Goodspeed Musicals’ upcoming 2016 season. There’s something for everyone at Goodspeed this season. All aboard for the Cole Porter classic Anything Goes; from the composer of Annie, it’s Bye Bye Birdie, the musical comedy inspired by Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army; be charmed by the new musical Chasing Rainbows –the story of Judy Garland’s Road to Oz; experience an arresting new version of the Broadway hit The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd; and relive the spirit of the 60s in A Sign of the Times, featuring with the songs of Petula Clark.

“Anything Goes”: Set sail on a “de-lovely” cruise through some of Cole Porter’s most famous songs. A brassy nightclub singer, a starry-eyed stowaway and Public Enemy No. 13 are booked on a transatlantic luxury liner bound for romance and laughter. Hum along with an easy-to-love score packed with hits including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and more! This tap-happy classic docks at Goodspeed for the first time. Anything Goes features Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, Original Book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and New Book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. Anything Goes is sponsored by Chester Village West, Liberty Bank, The Shops at Mohegan Sun and Sennheiser.

“Bye Bye Birdie”: Put on a happy face! Army-bound rock star Conrad Birdie’s farewell appearance in Sweet Apple, Ohio is the talk of the town. But it’s a teenage crisis for new “steadies” Hugo and Kim: she just won the chance to give Birdie one last kiss before boot camp. Kids, parents and show folk collide in the Goodspeed debut of the hip-swiveling musical comedy set at the dawn of the sensational 60s. Bring the entire family to discover we’ve got a lot of livin’ to do! Bye Bye Birdie features a Book by Michael Stewart, Music by Charles Strouse and Lyrics by Lee Adams. Bye Bye Birdie is sponsored by Amica and Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, PC.

“Chasing Rainbows”: An awkward girl with a golden voice blossoms into Judy Garland in the inspirational new musical about the bumpy road to Oz. The future superstar’s complicated childhood comes alive with heartbreak, hope and the music that made her famous. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “You Made Me Love You” and “Over the Rainbow” sweeten the story of Judy striving to hold onto her family. A love letter to gifted underdogs who reach high—and how the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. Chasing Rainbows features a Book by Marc Acito, Conceived by Tina Marie Casamento with Music adapted by David Libby. Chasing Rainbows is sponsored by ConnectiCare and Comacast.

Visit he Norma Terris Theatre in Chester and take in two unique musicals: In a world turned upside down, a rag-tag group relies on humor, song and dance to try to build a new life. But can show tunes and music hall merriment revive the human spirit? On the highway of life, hope is just around the bend in this arresting reinvention of the vivacious Broadway hit. Their world may have ended, but songs like “Who Can I Turn To?,” “The Joker,” “Feeling Good” and “A Wonderful Day Like Today” echo on, welcoming new love and another dawn. The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd features Book, Music and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

1965. The pulse of a changing era lures Cindy from Middle America to the swirl of Manhattan. Unexpected friends, lovers, careers and conflicts are all a subway ride away in a pop-fueled new musical featuring songs made famous by Petula Clark and other hit-makers of the day. “I Know a Place,” “The Shoop Shoop Song” and “If I Can Dream” are among the fabulous favorites on an eye-opening ride from innocence to experience. Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares—go “Downtown” and find out who you are! A Sign of the Times features a Book by Bruce Vilanch, Story Created by Richard Robin.

Single tickets may be purchased by visiting the Box Office, open seven days a week at 6 Main Street, East Haddam, Conn.; by calling 860.873.8668; or on-line at goodspeed.org. Special ticket packages are still available: see three shows at The Goodspeed for only $108 or see all five shows for just $196. Contact the Box Office for details. Ticket cost may vary by performance; please call for current pricing. All prices are subject to change.

At the Goodspeed, Anything Goes runs from April 8 – June 16; Bye Bye Birdie will run from June 24 – Sept. 4; Chasing Rainbows runs from Sept. 16 – Nov. 27.

At the Norma Terris Theatre: The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd runs from May 20 – June 26; A Sign of the Times runs from July 29 – Sept. 4.

Curtain times are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with select performances at 2 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., with select performances at 6:30 p.m.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development and advancement of musical theatre and is the first theatre in the nation to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement). Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals, and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. Goodspeed is supported in part the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

Orlando: Naked Boys Singing is a boozy, bawdy evening of ogling buff boys with their balls swinging in the breeze

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Orlando Weekly
Naked Boys Singing is a boozy, bawdy evening of ogling buff boys with their balls swinging in the breeze
By Seth Kubersky
Feb 12, 2016

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We live in a world of lies, bombarded daily by half-truths, obfuscations and outright falsehoods from promoters and politicians. So let’s get erect and give a standing ovation to Naked Boys Singing for earning the “truth in advertising” award. This spirited musical revue may not have any dialogue, characters or plot, but it’s got more exposed penises than a half-dozen productions of Equus. Which just goes to show how far our city has evolved: Back in 2000, a lone Naked Guy at the Orlando Fringe faced threats of arrest, but in 2016 seven nude dudes can strut on the Footlight stage for five weekends and no one blinks an eye.

A long-running hit in New York, NBS comes to Orlando courtesy of producer-director Tim Evanicki, who recently took the reins of the Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre. Under former artistic directors Michael Wanzie and David Lee, Footlight hosted not only PH’s popular drag shows, but legit dramas and comedies that drew audiences of every orientation. That leaves Evanicki some big shoes to fill in his new role, as he graciously acknowledged at the packed press preview.

“I am loving this job,” Evanicki told me in an interview after opening night. “Parliament House is an LGBT resort that caters to everyone. I’d like the programming in the theater to reflect that. We will be bringing in more book musicals and big names that appeal to all walks of life.”

Evanicki first saw Naked Boys Singing at NYC’s Actors Playhouse in 2004 and made it his top priority upon becoming PH’s new artistic director. “I wanted to make sure we kicked it off with something that would put the Footlight Theatre on the map,” he said. “I also wanted to pick a show that would cater to and attract more than just the LGBT community.” Of course, assembling a show where the cast is unclothed nearly the entire time required some adjustments. “Singing auditions were fully clothed, but the dance callback was done nude,” Evanicki recalled. “It was funny, because we have union performers, and the union required us to have a monitor from Actors’ Equity audit the audition process. Poor Doug Truelsen.” The early rehearsals were done dressed, but drawers were dropped once Pete Simpson’s choreography – which puts a floppy twist on the classic chorus kickline – was complete. “I left it up to the boys as to when they felt comfortable rehearsing nude,” said Evanicki. “We had 12 total rehearsals, and they were nude on day seven.”

It’s one thing to hoot and holler at a stage of stripped strangers, but I found the show a tad awkward to watch (at least at first) because I know some of the cast. For example, I’ve been friends with Joshua Roth since we worked on Tod Kimbro’s 2011 Fringe musical Suckers, but I’ve never seen him as exposed as during his “Perky Little Porn Star” number. “There is nothing that truly prepares you for 90 minutes of nudity; you kind of just have to jump into the deep end headfirst and with a smile on your face,” Roth told me. A theme-park performer by day, Roth’s NBS role has let him “step way out of my comfort zone, as well as become more comfortable with myself, my peers and also complete strangers.” Of course, you can’t do a nude musical without some unintended side effects: “I have been working a lot with aerial silks lately, and I have a pretty bad bruise on my upper left thigh … pretty much my groin area. I pulled Pete (our choreographer) into the dressing room, and without even thinking about it pulled down my pants and showed him the bruise. It wasn’t even until about five minutes after he left the dressing room that he realized that I had just whipped it all out for him and he didn’t even notice or care … and neither did I.”

So after all that, how is the show? As I said above, if you are interested in story or deep meaning, better move along: There’s a nod to nakedness as a metaphor for emotional vulnerability and a maudlin song about a dead lover, but otherwise the mood is kept light and campy. The performers are all solid (ahem), especially Kevin Kelly, who wears Liza well in the Fosse-flavored “Entertainer,” but the majority of the music is simply unmemorable. With a baker’s dozen of credited writers (including Bruce Vilanch), it’s a clear case of too many cooks muddling the man-chowder, and musical director John T. Gardner’s keyboard often drowned out the unamplified singers. As a hetero male, I didn’t identify with some of the topics (like gym addiction), though it appears sung schlong synonyms make everyone’s inner 12-year-old snicker, gay or straight. But if a boozy, bawdy evening of ogling buff boys with their balls swinging in the breeze sounds like ideal entertainment, better buy your seats now; Naked Boys Singing looks to be the hardest ticket of this theater season.


Bruce Vilanch Talks Showbiz, Politics in Coral Springs

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

South Florida Gay News
Bruce Vilanch Talks Showbiz, Politics in Coral Springs
BY JW Arnold 01/28/2016 12:31 pm

4-27-2013 4-08-15 AM

For Bruce Vilanch, controversy is a laughing matter.

Media Bids – Humane Society
The writer and comedian is bringing his one man show to The Rrazz Room in Coral Springs on Saturday and he has no plans to shy away from any of those traditionally taboo topics of polite conversation.

SFGN caught up with him on the phone while he hurried to finish up the script for the Producers Guild Awards last weekend. While the Producers Guild is incredibly diverse, he said, it’s also neither televised nor immune from the after effects of the controversy surrounding the Oscar nominations a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s Hollywood,” he said. “It’s the town industry and the city is full of people who don’t want to be branded as racist. It’s a lighting rod for publicity. Nobody understands the nominating process.”

Vilanch, who has also written 25 Oscars ceremony scripts, attributes much of the anger to “sour grapes from people who were eligible but not nominated. That makes it sound petty.”

“There’s certainly a problem in the industry and the Academy is trying to address it,” he explained. “We’re talking about art, not industry.”

He pointed out that while the 20 nominees in the acting categories were white, they were nominated by 1150 actors who are members of the Academy and still more diverse than the other branches, such as the writers and directors who also select the nominees in their professions.

“I’ve written the show 25 times and every year there’s something,” Vilanch said. “This issue just won’t go away.”

He also plans to talk politics. Not surprisingly, Vilanch is a proud Democrat:

“I’ll wind up voting for Hillary like everyone else with a brain. The Republicans are not an option,” he explained.

South Florida audiences should expect to hear Vilanch’s opinions about the current crowd of hopeful Republican candidates.

“They’re all such clowns. You don’t have to say anything, they write their own material,” he said with a hearty chuckle. “And there is Sarah Palin standing up and blaming Obama for her son being a lunatic. Imagine if Obama’s kids were as cracked out as hers.”

Of course, Vilanch will be armed with plenty of dishy Hollywood stories, too, although he warns he is not a conventional stand up comic.

“I’m a storyteller and I’ve been party to a lot of stories,” he again chuckled. “I was a child actor, you know. I never became a child star or we’d be talking from rehab. I love telling these stories about the behind the scenes in Hollywood and the ridiculous jobs I’ve had. It’s so hard to choose now.”

The Coral Springs appearance will be a homecoming of sorts. Vilanch’s grandparents lived in Miami Beach and he vacationed here as a child. Years later, his first job out of college was at the Miami Herald. His 95-year-old mother, who just passed away this year, was a snowbird in Boca Raton.

He sighed, “I’ve often thought maybe I could just pick up a little place there, but life gets in the way.”