Posts Tagged ‘Broadway’

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On To The Next Show, Always…But First

April 26, 2011

I try not to spend time in the past. Even if the past was just yesterday.

But before I move on and start talking about the next ON THE SCENE episode, I want to thank people who watched and noticed so much about this past weekend’s show with Christine Ebersole and Bojana Coklyat.

It means a great deal to me when I hear what I did today…emails from viewers and comments from my colleagues who appreciated the revealing, personal nature of both interviews and wanted to ask me more about what I thought of each artist.

What I noticed is how Christine Ebersole can intellectualize her art, and then turn around and be pure emotion on stage. That’s a quality surprisingly few actors possess when you start to closely watch their work and listen to what they have to say about their performances.  I had wanted to interview her since she starred in “Grey Gardens” on Broadway, but the truth is, I never asked her for an interview until last month.

Bojana is a story that I needed to tell again. Two years ago when I first interviewed her for ON THE SCENE I felt that there  was territory left uncovered. And since then her life has taken such unexpected twists and turns that it was so important for me to revisit her. She doesn’t hide her heart, her humor or her drive and that makes her compelling. And real.

Now, on to the next show and we have some great interviews in store…

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New Starts: Christine Ebersole, Bojana Coklyat

April 23, 2011

I wanted this episode to debut Easter weekend and to include the interviews with Christine Ebersole and painter, Bojana Coklyat.

It’s all about second chances, new beginnings.

For Christine Ebersole, the fresh start came 13 years ago when she packed up and left Hollywood, disgruntled with not getting decent parts. She moved with her family to New Jersey. And within a few months she was getting stage work. In a couple years, she was the lead in the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” and won her first Tony Award.

Bojana Coklyat is an incredible story. She taught herself to paint again after nearly going blind from diabetes. Then her kidneys failed, and last fall she had a double organ transplant (kidney and pancreas). She’s an emotional journey these days and shares it all in this ON THE SCENE interview.

So tune in April 23rd and 24th at any of these times: 8:30 AM, 11AM, 2PM.

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Ebersole, Coklyat Next Weekend ON THE SCENE

April 16, 2011

I can’t lie, it’s been a grueling week of writing, editing, taping. GRUELING.

But now the show is finished and a new ON THE SCENE airs next weekend featuring my interviews with Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole and painter Bojana Coklyat.

It’s an emotional and revealing episode. Christine Ebersole describes her pivotal moment when she packed up and left Hollywood. Her agent had told her that, at age 45, she was too long in the tooth to get work. She didn’t believe him, moved East, and has built one of the most enviable stage careers around…”42nd Street, “Grey Gardens,” “Blithe Spirit” and concert tours.

Bojana’s story blows people away. She paints but she is nearly blind. Diabetes took most of her eyesight five years ago when she was just 27 years old.  She figured out how to paint again…only to have her health go downhill. Last year she had a kidney and pancreas transplant, which cured her diabetes. She is the most vibrant, optimistic personality, but she’s going through mixed emotions knowing that for her to be alive and well…someone else had to die and there’s a family out there suffering a loss. All of this life experience is reflected in her recent paintings.

It just hit me how much is going on in this show. Complicated emotions and life stories. Sometimes I have to step back from the work for a day or two for it to all sink in.

Tune in April 23rd, 24th at 8:30 AM, 11AM, 2PM each day to catch the show.

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Interviewing Christine Ebersole

March 5, 2011

It was in the works for a couple of weeks, now, and last night I interviewed Christine Ebersole  for ON THE SCENE. (She’s the winner of two Tony Awards for “42nd Street” and “Grey Gardens” ). We also taped her concert rehearsal at the Mayor Center For The Arts in Morristown, New Jersey.

People always ask me about the famous people I’ve interviewed and they mostly want to know who was the biggest jerk, the most difficult, what went wrong, the drama. And sometimes there is plenty of it. But  this time I can say there was none of the above. Disappointing to those who like some dirt with their dish,  I know.

What I notice immediately about the artist I am interviewing is: are they willing to go inside themselves, reveal, show the connection between their life and their art.  Since that is the basis of the ON THE SCENE show, by now most people know those are the type of questions I ask and they come ready to have a conversation.

And Ebersole headed down that road on my first question. She described her new concert being themed on her own maturing, how to age with wisdom and grace and yet stay youthful in spirit.

That’s exactly what a lot of people watching tv at any given moment are experiencing, too, so I know women and men of all ages will relate to what she has to say.

 

 

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I Interviewed Bebe Neuwirth Tonight

September 14, 2010

“I’ve wanted to meet you for 20 years.”

First words out of my mouth tonight as I was introduced to Bebe Neuwirth.

I loved “Cheers” and her character of Lilith. I remember watching the show with my Mom and Dad and just laughing along with that unforgettable cast of characters.

Tonight, she was one of the stars at a benefit for the Actors Fund. It was held on an estate in Englewood, New Jersey, where the actress Gloria Swanson lived in the 1930s.  The Actors Fund operates an assisted living center and nursing home in Englewood, which I visited earlier in the day. A beautiful place where anyone who worked in the performing arts…from actors to stage hands…can find a home in their later years.

I also interviewed (and met for the first time) Brian Stokes Mitchell and it unexpectedly led to a great conversation between us about the meaning and impact of art on our lives.  He’s returning to Broadway to star in “Women On The Verge of Nervous Breakdown” at Lincoln Center along with Patti LuPone and de’Adre Aziza. (I interviewed de’Adre for ON THE SCENE when she was Tony nominated for her last Broadway show, “Passing Strange.” She should have won.)

Besides the two Broadway veterans (Mitchell and Neuwirth) I spent a couple of minutes talking with Hunter Ryan Herdlicka who is 23 years old, fresh out of college, who landed a role in “A Little Night Music” on Broadway…his first Broadway audition, he said, amazingly enough.

What an interesting night, it’s why I love what I do, and I hope it’s the beginning of more interviews and conversations with these incredible talents.

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Interviewing David Bryan of Bon Jovi and “Memphis”

July 9, 2010

Today I got one of those unique, wonderful surprises that being an interviewer brings: meeting a performer from my favorite…and one of the world’s most famous..rock bands. Ok, the interview was not a surprise. I knew I would be taping a conversation with David Bryan, the keyboardist of Bon Jovi, at his New Jersey beach house, it had been in the works for a couple of weeks.

The surprise came in the impression he made on me. For more than a quarter century he’s been in the shadow of larger than life frontman Jon Bon Jovi, and to some extent guitarist Richie Sambora in particular his headline grabbing marriage to and divorce from  Heather Locklear. I’ve seldom heard David say a word, so his personality was a mystery to me.

But suddenly he is stepping into the spotlight in his own right, winning three Tony Awards last month for writing lyrics,  orchestrating and producing the Broadway musical, “Memphis.” At age 48, he has a new aspect to his career that is clearly rejuvinating  him. “I could talk about this show all day” was one of the first things he said to me.  He was effusive about it.

We spent the better part of two hours at his home in a wide ranging conversation about “Memphis,” and Bon Jovi. He showed me how he’s been using a champagne tote purchased at Harrods in London to carry his Tony Awards from country to country while Bon Jovi is on a world tour.  The “Tony tote.”

But what I noticed most was his passion in how he talked about “Memphis.” When I interview someone I can tell the difference between when the artist is simply “selling” the show or pushing tickets, and when they believe what they’ve done has real quality.  He talks about “Memphis” in personal terms, a nearly nine year journey from script to stage. I also noticed his broad based knowledge about musicians and the industry (every performer I happened to mention in conversation, from Tony Bennett to Duncan Sheik to Keb’ Mo’,  he had an opinion about their work). I also have personal admiration for anyone willing to  take professional risks, in his case,  to go outside his comfortable rock genre and take on musical theatre. It all points to a creative intelligence and musicality that I have to believe has been a glue holding Bon Jovi together all these years. And I don’t think the public or critics have always noticed that.

We also discussed criticism of “Memphis” that the music is too pop, some of the songs too “light” for Broadway and you’ll hear what he has to say about that many more things in two weeks when the next ON THE SCENE episode airs, times to be announced next week.

I love days like this.

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“Wishful Drinking”

June 29, 2010

No one monetizes their misery more skillfully than Carrie Fisher. Or more entertainingly.

For more than two decades she’s churned out best sellers with revelations about her life as a bi-polar, alcoholic, drug addicted, twice divorced, ex-mental patient, electric shock therapy treated daughter of celebrities. Oh, and about her starring in a little film called “Star Wars.”

Saturday night she performed “Wishful Drinking,” her one woman show that ran earlier this year on Broadway, at the South Orange Performing Arts Center where it was taped for an  HBO special.

It was my first time seeing the show. And yes, we were seated second row, so you might catch me in a cutaway for half a second here or there when it airs.