Archive for May, 2010

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My Music By Prudence Interview

May 28, 2010

Have you seen the documentary “Music By Prudence” yet? It’s playing on HBO  now after winning the Oscar this year for best documentary (short form). It’s the story of Prudence Mabhena, born severely disabled and rejected by her parents and society in Zimbabwe. She then discovers her gift for singing and songwriting while attending a school for the disabled.

Saturday night I was asked to conduct a live stage interview after a screening of the movie with the director Roger Ross Williams and Prudence Mabhena. (Roger is the director who got Kanye’d by the film’s producer when he was giving his acceptance speech…the lady who interrupted him). Roger and Prudence have an interesting dynamic between them and we explored that on stage and other aspects of making the movie. The audience in Metuchen, New Jersey (where there’s a series of film screenings by Oscar winners) was engaged, responsive and into the movie (and thank you for the generous comments so many of you offered me about the interview, I am more than grateful.)

This is the second stage interview I’ve done this month with an Oscar winner… a couple weeks back I did one with Pamela Tanner Boll (“Born Into Brothels” and “Who Does She Think She Is?”)  and that also went great.

I love the energy of an interview in front of live audience and these have been incredible and talented artists to interview.

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It’s Macaroni, Not Pasta

May 14, 2010

If you’re family has “macaroni night,” serves “gravy and balls” with spaghetti, and says mannagot and not manicotti…then you would have loved the screenplay reading I was at Tuesday.

“Twas The Night Before A Brooklyn Christmas” is a comedy about a Christmas Eve mob hit with the mob boss being sent back down to Earth to make right after all his wrongdoing.

And it’s very Italian. Think “Moonstruck” meets “The Sopranos” meets “A Christmas Carol.” 

Maybe it was the Christmas music filling the tiny black box space at 45 Bleecker, the theatre where the reading was held. Maybe it was the audience (everybody seemed to know everybody else, waving, laughing, telling stories, “hey Sal!”, “Vinnie!” that kind of crowd. A good time.) Maybe it was the freakishly cold May New York evening, but it did give a holiday feeling from the get-go. The only thing missing from this Christmas Eve was the Seven Fishes.

The purpose of a reading (bare bones, no props or costumes just actors with script books interpreting) is for the writers to see how the screenplay goes over with an audience, to invite investors to hear how the script sounds with actors reading the lines, all in hope that someday it gets made into a movie.

Some well regarded actors were on stage delivering a crowd-pleasing performance including Robert Cuccioli, Michael Rispoli and Mario Cantone. The screenwriter, Vincent Gogliormella, is the nephew of the late actor Vincent Gardenia to whom the performance was dedicated.

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Remembering Lynn Redgrave

May 3, 2010

This is a day of tremendous loss for theatre and film. As well as a day of great sadness for me.

Lynn Redgrave passed away last night.

I did an extensive interview with Lynn just over a year ago for ON THE SCENE. We talked about her work, her famous family, her goals, her setbacks and many other things. I remember she apologized for arriving a few minutes late to the interview,  “I made a wrong turn coming back from grocery shopping at the A&P,” she said. I liked her right then and there.

She was the most intelligent actress, a true intellectual in her approach to the work and yet could bring total emotion to a character.  And she had an incomparable work ethic.  “Do you know now,” she said to me, “actors on Broadway can take personal days?  A personal day? I disapprove fantastically! But then you could accuse me of being old fashioned.”

I admired her determination and she is one of the few celebrities I have interviewed who instantly became a role model for me.

I am completely grateful to Lynn Redgrave for generously giving me her time, thoughts and insights into her work. I will treasure the memory of interviewing her the rest of my days.