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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Vilanch’

Bruce Vilanch in “Rubble” by Mike Reiss at the Provincetown Theater Aug 22 at 7 PM

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Color Magazine
Bruce Vilanch in Provincetown Theater Benefit
By John Black


In Mike Reiss’s comedy, Rubble, Alvin, an aging comedy writer with one last shot at a network meeting, is trapped under rubble by an LA earthquake.


It’s a strange enough idea for a play, something Samuel Beckett might have dreamed up between his tramps waiting for Godot and Krapp recording his last tape. It becomes surreal, at least it will when it is performed in a benefit for the Provincetown Theater this weekend, when Alvin is played by none other than comedy writing legend Bruce Vilanch.


“It’s a crazy idea for a play: It’s Becket meets Book of Mormon meets The Simpsons,” said the show’s director, James Valletti. “It’s a really dark and funny look at the entertainment industry from two people who know it all – the good and the bad – really well. Mike has been a writer on The Simpsons from the very first episode and is still there today and Bruce has written comedy for everything from The Oscars to his own cabaret act. They’ve lived it, so they’re perfect for making the show come alive – even from under a pile of rubble.”


Those coming to the show to see Vilanch share Hollywood stories and gossip like he does in his cabaret act (which he will be performing at the Post Office Café on Commercial St. from August 22 – August 24) will find a very different character trapped under the trash at the theater benefit. “I approach Alvin like I would any acting part,” Vilanch said in an interview with Color Magazine. “When I write comedy for somebody else, I have to write it in their voice. Material I write for Whoopi won’t work for Billy Crystal, mainly because he’s not a black woman. The same applies to playing an acting role. I can’t be Bruce Vilanch in the show; I worked with the writer and the director to create the character of Alvin.”


Still, both Vilanch and Valletti admit there were times during the rehearsal process when the actor and the character were not as distinct as they imagined. “There’s a great line in the play…Alvin is trapped under all this rubble and has no idea how, or if, he will get out, and he’s musing about the size of cupcakes and how they’ve gotten smaller yet more expensive. It’s delightfully absurd to hear, especially when Bruce says it.”


“I do love that line,” Vilanch admitted. “There are many of the lines in the show that I love. The mix of a man in such an absurd situation thinking of such mundane things is just very, very funny.”


Bruce Vilanch in “Rubble” by Mike Reiss at the Provincetown Theater Aug 22 at 7 PM. Tickets are $75-$100.

7 PM Lecture with Mike Reiss about “The Simpsons” and “Queer Duck

8 PM Cocktails with Mike Reiss and Jerry Adler

9 PM Staged Reading of “Rubble”

10:30 PM Talkback with Bruce Vilanch


For more information, visit Tickets benefit The Provincetown Theatre Foundation.

Great New Interview With Bruce Vilanch

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

We’ve Got Bruce
Saturday Aug 16, 2014

4-27-2013 3-56-01 AM

When it comes to Hollywood insiders, few come close to Bruce Vilanch. Over his thirty-year-plus career, he has worked with virtually every major talent in the entertainment industry: Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Elizabeth Taylor and (famously) the late Robin Williams. He has also been writing special material for the Oscars since 1989 – a collaboration that has had its ups-and-downs, but also given Vilanch an insider’s view on the film’s industry’s biggest party. He is also no stranger to other award shows, having written for the Emmys, Tonys and Grammys. Or Broadway, where he starred in “Hairspray” after taking it on the road.

Vilanch may be best-known for his stint on “The Hollywood Squares” on which he appeared for four seasons as well as being the show’s head writer. He has been in numerous films (including having made his film debut in “Mahogany” with Diana Ross in 1974). He has even been the subject of a documentary film – “Get Bruce” – which has one of the most star-studded casts in history. For Vilanch, they were his friends.

He’s been a tireless supporter of LGBT causes over the years, including being one of the first to take part in benefits for AIDS in the 1980s. It was from those experiences that he found himself working for the Oscars. And speaking of awards, Vilanch has won some six Emmy Awards for his writing.

That he one of the funniest celebrities in Hollywood is no secret. Part of what has made his solo dates, such as the one that comes to Club Café on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm, so endearing is his ease at making good-natured fun at not only Hollywood royalty, but himself. “I am frequently mistaken for Shelley (Winters) by people that don’t know she’s dead,” he said recently in a freewheeling conversation this week from Saugatuck, Michigan, where he was performing.

EDGE: So what are you wearing?

Bruce Vilanch What am I wearing? Hmmm. A t-shirt with an actual photo of Batman and Robin kind-of embracing. It’s a still from the old show. And they have this expression on their faces that make it seem they’re fascinated with each other. So the caption reads, ‘Batman and Robin: Let’s Hook Up.’ You look at their faces and you think, that’s what they’re really thinking. They’re in love with each other. Look at those expressions! And is there anything better to wear in the Provincetown of the Midwest?

EDGE: Speaking of Provincetown, did you hear that a ferry was nearly capsized by a wave this week?

Bruce Vilanch Really? No. But are you sure it wasn’t a convention of Shelley Winters impersonators just hoping to get capsized? If it was, I would be one of them because I am frequently mistaken for Shelley by people that don’t know she’s dead. They think she still slinks amongst us.

EDGE: Did you know her?

Bruce Vilanch Yes. She was a great actress and a hysterical person. Literally a hysterical person – when I would see her she shout, ‘my God… you’re all sweaty? What are you doing?’ Every meeting was an Academy Award winning performance. Most people didn’t realize she was a bombshell when she was a kid. Or realize how great she really was. She was one of the prime movers of the Actors’ Studio with Brando and James Dean. And a lot of her really good work was on stage… And on screen? There’s always ‘South Seas Sinner.’

Maybe I could do a one-woman show about Shelley Winters. When she wrote her book it was all about her many affairs and everyone she had an affair with was dead, because she didn’t want to write about anybody that was still alive because they would deny it. I think she could have called the book ‘Fuck Shelley and Die.’ My show will be like that. ‘Shelley Winters, Killer Pussy.’

EDGE: What are you doing in Boston?

Bruce Vilanch: What can I plug? How can I get them in? Tell some rude stories about Justin Bieber? I don’t have any of that. I do have stories about my life and times – my illustrious career in show business and all the bizarre people I met and all the backstage stories. It’s funny and dishy. Funny and dishy. (Slipping into a professional phone voice) ‘Funny and Dishy… could I direct your call?’

I don’t know what I am going to say and I’m not so sure what I say now would look good in print, so it’s a good idea not to say anything. But I’ve done 23 Academy Awards shows and everyone has trooped through that extravaganza, so there are stories about plenty of them.

EDGE: You dished James Franco when he did the Oscars – will you mention him?

Bruce Vilanch: Yes. Sure. Why not? I’ll get in trouble again. They’ll never ask him back, so why do I care?

EDGE: Have you started to work on next year’s Oscars?

Bruce Vilanch: Oh, no. Not yet. It starts around October when the producer comes in and gets active and figures out how he or she wants the show to unfold. And then the host comes onboard and it gets deeper as it goes along. Most of the show is written after the nominations come out in January because you don’t really know what you are going to talk about. It doesn’t make sense to prepare stuff about movies that get shut out; and you don’t know who is going to actually appear on the show until after the nominations come out and people sort out their feelings. Whether they want to be on the show or exercise the ritual taking of umbrage because they or their friends were not acknowledged. There use to be the honorary awards, but they made the show so long, so they moved them to separate event – the Governor’s Award – in November that I wrote this year and show excerpts on the awards.

EDGE: Do any of the celebrities as the Oscars take umbrage with the jokes you write?

Bruce Vilanch At first, yeah. A lot of times. But first you have the gauntlet of their people – their manager, their agent, their publicist, their holistic pet psychiatrist, their gardener, their Pilates instructor. Everybody has an opinion. Then they get back to you with what they want changed. By the time it gets to the show, they’ve signed off on anything, so it’s rare if somebody goes off-book on the night of the show. The spontaneous moments come from the winners, who can be depended upon to do something ridiculous because they’re over-excited. And the host commenting on what’s going on during the show. That’s where the spontaneous moments come from.

EDGE: How did Ellen’s selfie-seen-round-the-world happen at last year’s show?

Bruce Vilanch I don’t know. I wasn’t on the show last year because it was all Ellen and her staff. She has ten dedicated people that write her show every day and they did the Oscars. I did Ellen’s first time in 2007 and we did a version of the selfie that year, so I suspect whoever had the idea to do it again watched the show that year.

She did it with Spielberg. She had Spielberg take a picture of her and Clint Eastwood. It was the exact same bit. All that was missing was the dozen stars chomping to be in the shot, which they knew would be seen around the world. So you don’t get to see poor Liza, who was too short to get in on the thing. But on the other hand we got a nice full face of Lupita Nyong’o’s brother, who oddly didn’t capitalize on that. I would think his people would have had him all over the place; but somewhere good taste prevailed. Either that or she said, ‘this is my night. Stand back.’ Maybe she let him wear all her dresses.

EDGE: Every year there seems to be different producers of the Oscars, but you remain a constant with the ceremony. What’s the key to your longevity?

Bruce Vilanch It’s like inventing the wheel every year, yet every year it looks pretty much like the year before; because it’s the nature of the beast. It’s a format to which you must adhere, that makes the show pretty much like every other show. New producers come in and say they’re going to change all that, but they can’t. As they go along they realize it’s a big, unwieldy piece, and it helps to have people around that have done it before; which is why you end up doing it for 23 years. That and various relationships you have with performers – hosts and what not – they want you to be around with them.

EDGE: You’ve also been involved with the Grabby Awards…

Bruce Vilanch Yeah. I’ve done them many time. Of course, they’re porno, and I love the porno business… and the people in it. Fascinating to me. But how I got initially – a lot of those award shows were the first AIDS fundraisers because a lot of the people involved in them was affected by the disease at the beginning. They weren’t raising money and wanted to find a way to raise money, and it was an easy way to do it. And it was an industry willing to chip in. So I ended up getting involved in it because it was a fund-raising device, and then, of course, once I got to the picnic I didn’t want to leave until I had every corn on the cob.

EDGE: What do they look for with a good host for the Oscars?

Bruce Vilanch They’re always looking for someone peaking at the box office at the moment, but what really helps with the ratings is a good year at the movies. It hasn’t been a good summer, but they’re not the kind of pictures the Academy pays attention to except for technical awards. And the year is back-loaded with the stuff they want to win awards, so people haven’t seen anything that will be talked about on the show next year. They’re have been a couple that will get included; but most of the stuff reveals itself in October. I just saw a trailer for “Into the Woods” that comes out on Christmas Day with that tornado movie.

EDGE: You mean, ‘Into the Storm?’ Wasn’t it hilarious when the storm hit that international airport in the middle of nowhere and started picking up 747s…?

Bruce Vilanch I loved that. Suddenly it was ‘Sharknado.’ I want to do a politically-aware disaster movie and call it ‘Ralphnado.’ A group of left-wing lawyers get picked up by a tornado and become Ralphnado, crashing into corporate America.

EDGE: Wasn’t it a terrible movie?

Bruce Vilanch Yes, but I love terrible movies. I use to go with a group to the movies every week back when going to the movies was a ritual and we’d go see a piece of shit movie. That was back when going to the movies was more of a rituals, and we’d pick terrible movies, like ‘Killer Fish’ starring Karen Black or ‘The Lonely Lady’ with Pia Zadora. So we decided to go to a movie and see ‘Into the Storm’ at the Mann’s Chinese Theatre. It wasn’t on the big screen, but on a smaller one; and it was heaven. We were half the audience – there were six of us and the audience was 12; so we could talk out loud, that was if you could be heard over the tornado. There was girl that was like Sandra Bullock and I said, she was going to have to take over the van but won’t be able to go over 50 because there is a bomb on it. They should have borrowed anything from every other action movie ever made.

EDGE: Didn’t the high school principal in the film look like President Obama?

Bruce Vilanch He looked exactly like Obama. It was hysterical – is the subtext of this that Obama winds up a high school principal? Is this what we are suppose to take from this? Is this a right wing moment here?

And the girl in the Helen Hunt part – the weather expert – she was a little bit too old for it and had a little too much work done to be that woman and pretend to be the mother of that baby. It was just enough to put it into The Asylum territory.

EDGE: And the vice principal, who was the movies hero, didn’t he look like Mitt Romney?

Bruce Vilanch Now that you mention it, yes. About him. He was this single guy raising two boys single-handedly and working as a vice principal at the school, but found time to get to the gym. He was really built under the white shirt and tie, which came in handy when he had to move Volkswagon buses off of people and stuff like that. This man knows how to multi-task! At least they spared us how he ended up with the weather expert. Here they were – he’s a single dad with two kids, she’s a single mom with a baby; I thought they were going to end up together, but they didn’t, which violates a cardinal rule. But then there will always be a sequel because they’re always be a tornado somewhere.

EDGE: My question is, why do people live there?

Bruce Vilanch I get the same criticism from people about living in LA. Why do you live where you know there’s going to be a fire followed by a mud slide; which is true. We all know that, but it’s nice while it lasts. Like people say, why do you build where there are coyotes and bears? They build these subdivisions in the hills, then wonder why there are coyotes roaming the streets. They’re surprised – ‘oh, gee. Isn’t this LA?’ It was, until they built out there.

I am waiting for the movie about the wild packs of coyotes invading the suburb. It’s perfect for The Asylum, but they’re too busy doing ‘Mega-Octopussy.’ Oh, what is the one that’s they’re doing? ‘Pteracuda’ – it’s a pterodactyl barracuda combo that can fly and swim. And the only thing that can get it is ‘Sharktopus,’ which is a shark and octopus combination, which cannot fly, but can do a great slither.

EDGE: What is The Asylum?

Bruce Vilanch The studio that makes all those movies for the Sci-fi Channel. Leading up to ‘Sharknado 2,’ they ran a week of all those movies. The giant piranha one, ‘Mega Piranha.’ They’re cautionary tales about creating creatures in a lab. ‘Mega Shark’ was created to get rid of submarines – it can bite through the hull. And, of course, ‘Mega Shark’ goes wild and attacks Acapulco and chomps his way through the hotels.

EDGE: Have you been going to the movies this summer?

Bruce Vilanch Of course. In fact, my new drag name is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I couldn’t resist her – she was too perfect. They’re carrying on out here that it’s been a terrible summer because not enough people went to the movies. I went to watch Helen Mirren in ‘A Hundred Foot Journey.’ It was a wonderful movie and I had a huge meal afterward. It sent you out looking for a French place or an Indian place or a really cute Indian boyfriend that can make a hollandaise sauce.

Bruce Vilanch appears Saturday, August 16, 2014, 8pm, at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA. For ticket info, visit the Club Cafe website.

Kritzerland to Celebrate 4th Anniversary with Special Guests Kerry O’Malley and Bruce Vilanch, 9/7

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Broadway World
Kritzerland to Celebrate 4th Anniversary with Special Guests Kerry O’Malley and Bruce Vilanch, 9/7
August 14 2014

4-27-2013 3-55-20 AM

Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal presents its fourth anniversary show—THE SONGS THAT GOT AWAY III —on Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Evan Buckley Harris (Li’L Abner, (Abner) LACC; Memphis (Huey); Grease 40th Anniversary (Kenickie); South Pacific (Lt. Cable).

Kimberly Hessler (La Mirada/McCoy-Rigby, Les Miserables (Cosette); El Portal Spelling Bee (Olive); Most Happy Fella (Rosabella).

Travis Leland (Norman Rockwell’s America, Freedom Machine, Justin Love, The Giver, Fly By Night, Adding Machine: A Musical.)

Bruce Merkle (McCoy-Rigby, Les Miserables; The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; Rules of Engagement, How I Met Your Mother.)

Hadley Miller (National: Cathy Rigby Is Peter Pan; Tiny Tim; A Christmas Carol, South Coast Rep,

Madison Claire Parks (Oklahoma! (Laurey), Musical Theatre West; Phantom of the Opera (Christine); Lil Abner (Daisy Mae).

Jenna Lea Rosen (Disney’s Sofia the First (Shelly, Singing Voice of Clio & Hildegard), Parade 3DT (Monteen, Ovation Award.)

Sami Staitman (Annie, Annie, Pioneer, Utah;Young Cosette,Les Mise?rables;Singing in the Rain, Cabrillo; L’il Abner. TV: House of Lies)

Adrienne Visnic (BFA Acting USC, The Most Happy Fella (Cleo), USC Outstanding Actress, LA’s Next Great Stage Star Finalist)

Robert Yacko (Broadway: Fiddler on the Roof; Company with Carol Burnett; Sunday in the Park; Ovation Award, Parade)

Kerry O’Malley (Broadway/Off-Broadway: White Christmas; On A Clear Day; Billy Elliot; Into The Woods; Annie Get Your Gun; Promises, Promises (Encores!); Finian’s Rainbow; How I Learned to Drive; Dublin Carol. TV and film: Upcoming: Terminator: Genesis; Case 39; Earth to Echo; Those Who Kill; Masters of Sex; Shameless; Brotherhood; Boardwalk Empire.)

Bruce Vilanch (Primarily known as writer for a variety of celebrities, including Bette MidlerLily TomlinBilly 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 DirectorJohn Boswell

For our 49th Kritzerland show, we celebrate our four-year anniversary of doing monthly shows. We began in September 2010 at the Gardenia. We moved to Michael Sterling’s room at Vitello’s for only three months, before finding our new home here at Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal. As with our past three anniversary shows, this one is a potpourri – no theme other than the songs have been recorded by producer Bruce Kimmel on various albums that we haven’t gotten to yet or songs we weren’t able to include because of time. But it’s also the ten-year anniversary of Bruce Kimmel’s hit musical revue, What If, so we’re celebrating that, too, by doing a few of its parody numbers. We’ve assembled an amazing cast, and have two great guest stars – Kerry O’Malley and the wonderful Bruce Vilanch. It will be an evening of wonderful songs, lots of humor and fantastic performances. As with our past anniversary shows, as our gift to our loyal and incredible audiences, this show will have no cover charge. These anniversary shows sell out in about ten minutes so don’t delay because when they’re sold out they’re sold out, although we will be taking a waiting list and usually we have no-shows and the waiting list usually does get in.

This show is likely to be jam-packed. We recommend early reservations. Don’t wait until the last minute!

The only way to reserve: 818-754-8700. Your phone reservation will be confirmed (usually a few days before the show). Dinner reservations: DOORS OPEN 5:30pm. SHOW STARTS 7:00pm! Reservations have already started coming in, and are highly recommended. FOR THIS SHOW ONLY: NO COVER CHARGE! $10 food minimum + $4 facility charge. Yes! You can eat dinner and see the show for only about $15!

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 about Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal, visit:

Bruce Vilanch appears at Club Cafe this Saturday, August 16th.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Bruce Vilanch at Club Cafe on Saturday
Posted on August 11, 2014

4-27-2013 3-54-35 AM

Bruce Vilanch appears at Club Cafe this Saturday, August 16th.

If you are looking for a good night of laughs, I would assume this is as close to a sure thing as one can get.

Vilanch is wickedly funny, and I assume when in a room of mostly gay men his stories will make for an evening you won’t soon forget.

If you haven’t made plans already you may want to consider checking out this show.  Get your tickets ahead of time since the show is likely to sell out.  Get your tickets online from Club Cafe’s website here.

Money Can’t Buy You Love

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Huffington Post
San Francisco-based arts critic
Money Can’t Buy You Love
Posted: 08/04/2014 12:39 am EDT Updated: 08/04/2014 12:59 pm EDT


San Francisco’s 42nd Street Moon recently revived Du Barry Was A Lady with Bruce Vilanch starring as Louie Blor (the role created by Bert Lahr on Broadway). The plot revolves around a simple device: Blor is the ladies washroom attendant at a nightclub who has won the lottery. Although he’s in love with singer May Daly, she’s in love with her friend Alice Barton’s brother, Alex.

When Louie’s replacement, Charley (Jordan Sidfield), suggests that Louie can succeed at wooing May by giving Alex a Mickey Finn, Blor gets distracted and forgets which drink is intended for Alex. After passing out, he dreams that he is really France’s King Louis XV and that May is the beautiful Madame Du Barry. Complications quickly ensue.

As it turns out, Louis XV’s chances of hooking up with Madame du Barry are equally dismal. But the show allows for some delightful costume work, visual sight gags, and a great deal of mugging on Vilanch’s part.



What becomes most apparent from watching Du Barry Was A Lady onstage is that they no longer write new musicals for actors with the kind of personality and stage appeal that a great comic like Bert Lahr developed while working in vaudeville and burlesque. Nor are there any unique voices around today (like Merman’s) which might inspire a Broadway composer to write a show with one particular singer in mind for the leading role.

It’s difficult to resist the bawdy charms of a script whose minor roles include Fondue, Paingrillé, La Marquise de Gruyere and La Comtesse de Roquefort. While Vilanch delighted the audience whenever he was onstage, 42nd Street Moon’s production of Du Barry Was A Lady benefitted handsomely from Ashley Rae Little’s brassy performance as May Daly as well as Zack Thomas Wilde’s direction and choreography.


As Alex, Jack Mosbacher scored strongly with Porter’s romantic ballad, “Do I Love You?” In supporting roles, Nicole Renée Chapman doubled as Alice Barton and Alisande de Vernay while Jordan Sidfield (whose toothy smile evokes memories of Robert Morse and Tommy Steele) drew comic relief as the streetwise Charley and the goofy Dauphin who has a fetish for taking apart watches. Others in the cast included company regulars Ryan Drummond, Rudy Guerrero, and Nathaniel Rothrock.

While this may not be Porter’s strongest score, it’s great to have a chance to see a Broadway hit that has fallen into oblivion (the 1943 film starring Red Skelton and Lucille Ball with a young Zero Mostel as “Rami the Swami” is a real clunker).

Bruce Vilanch and Natalie Venetia Belcon Will Have a Ball in Upcoming Reading of Vintage Musical Comedy

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Bruce Vilanch and Natalie Venetia Belcon Will Have a Ball in Upcoming Reading of Vintage Musical Comedy
By Andrew Gans
08 Jul 2014

4-27-2013 3-53-52 AM

UnsungMusicalsCo. (UMC) will continue its 2014 developmental reading series July 24 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center with a presentation of I Had a Ball in the Bruno Walter Auditorium.

The 2:30 PM reading will star Emmy Award winner Bruce Vilanch (Hairspray, “Hollywood Squares”) — in the role originated by comedian Buddy Hackett — and Natalie Venetia Belcon (Matilda, Avenue Q). Ben West directs. Additional casting will be announced at a later time.

I Had a Ball, the 1964 Coney Island musical comedy, has a book by Tony Award winner Jerome Chodorov and a score by Stan Freeman and Jack Lawrence. The score has been newly arranged by musical director Fran Minarik.

I Had a Ball is described as “a vibrant, colorful confection following the delightfully eccentric denizens of Coney Island and the feisty fortune-teller who singlehandedly sets off a series of raucous romantic entanglements. Sparks fly, love blossoms, and hilarious hijinks ensue in this bright and brassy entertainment!”

The Bruno Walter Auditorium of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is located at 111 Amsterdam Avenue, between 64th and 65th Streets. Admission is free, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information visit