It’s been about a year since we printed some of your letters and notices of late. Now, here they are…
You tend to write a lot about television. Didn’t you once claim that you hated TV? You don’t watch anything on cable or streaming, and you said you would never pay for TV. If so, then why do you comment on TV as it is…?
Let’s answer the above comment with a few revisions attached.
First of all, yes, I don’t watch TV as mush as I used to. There are the reasons, mostly noting that I don’t care much for what’s on the video screens today. And yes, because of the rise of cable/satellite TV subscriptions over the past few years, paying nearly $100.00 to only watch a handful of channels out of 100+, I don’t feel it’s worth my time and money! Although steaming is a whole lot cheaper ($10.00 per month or less), I still can’t devote of the time, although that method of TV viewing is the place to be.
However, I do try to view some programming, but only when the need calls for such. So to answer your heated question, I don’t “hate” TV, although I do find a lot of it disappointing. I don’t care to pay for the privilege to obtain programming, and I comment about TV because that is what I write about–media in general, not necessarily “TV” per se.
Thanks for asking!
..I’ve been reading your blog (sic) since 2000. I find what you write about is interesting. When will you start making videos and/or podcasts to go with what you write about…?
This question is based upon a few others received in the past that asked us to supply video and/or audio material in connection to our website.
First, we’ll address video material. First of all, video content has been more commonplace in terms of web based design. It’s quite possible thanks to Facebook Live, among other applications, to post moving imagery content as it occurs, either for fun or for “breaking news” purposes. And posting bits and pieces of content has been the way that many of the “blogs” out there in cyberspace land tend to use in cahoots to what they are writing about. Granted, we are always looking for methods to make our pages more interesting. This is true for those that have limited attention spans, or to those that feel the need to have moving imagery elements at one’s fingertips. As of this writing, we are working with a local webmaster that may assist us in getting these applications out.
As for the audio side of things, especially programs known as “podcasts”. It’s a whole lot easier to create a podcast (or a series of) that almost anyone that holds a sense of knowledge of tech can build and create. All it would take is a microphone, a pair of headphones, perhaps an audio mixing device, and a method to capture the sounds being spoken or transmitted. In order to conduct a podcast, which in reality is a radio program that isn’t aired on the “radio”, one must have content. Most of the podcasts out there usually consists of a person taking about something or another. Sometimes other people are joining in, either as a one-on-one type interview show, or as a group of people speaking along at the same time, perhaps as a comedy team a la Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding, or as a morning zoo/rude awaking/morning sickness-esque program that was at its peak in the 1980’s. Yes, yours truly can present an audio show where I would “read” the editorial section, as well as reading reviews that we create. However, that type of program may be amusing, but defeats the purpose to what were are all about.
As with the video side of posting, we will keep these notions to consider as they do hold promise. As for now, we’ll let you know when we are ready to become visual and/or vocal. As they used to say on the air, stay tuned!
Lastly, we wanted to end these string of comments with this entry written by one of the local publicists that create publicity for many of the regional theater shows that perform in the Los Angeles area. We won’t revile the name of the person who supplied this reply (they know who they are anyway), but we felt that this letter should be made aware by our readers.
This reply was based upon an inquiry we made beforehand to why we are not able to review the theater shows as presented by this publicist. So this person writes….
…I have tried to be professional and polite when you email – it is not in my nature to be mean-spirited – but you are so persistent, that I am just going to be frank with you.
The reason that I don’t add you to my press distribution lists or offer you press comps is that, to be absolutely blunt about it, your reviews are so poorly written and so full of grammatical errors and typos, that they are useless to me. I am embarrassed to show them to my clients and unable to even a pull a quote from them, never mind link to them.
We all make mistakes when we write, especially if we are putting out a lot of content, and I spend a good portion of my time sending corrections to reviewers – but your reviews go beyond sending a simple correction.
Perhaps you need to spend more time proofreading, or you might want to consider hiring a copy editor.
I would be glad to offer press comps in exchange for a thoughtful, well-written review.
I’m sorry that I had to say this to you – I know it sounds pretty awful. But there you have it….
OK, you well respected yet rather cautious publicity person! Let’s take some time to answer some of the points you addressed in your letter!
First of all, you claim that the reviews published within this newsletter has been poorly written. Can you provide us with some examples of this so-called “poor writing”? If you can send us a tear sheet or two (hell, send us a dozen if you have ‘em) that shows this method of writing, then we can understand your point! Proof speaks louder than words. Let’s read something!
Second, when you comment about this form of wiring, it’s assumed that you expect to receive glowing reviews of shows that you can present to your clients. That’s also understandable. Although this writer has seen only a handful of live theater shows that were indeed “bad”, the saving grace to these shows that they are presented to its audience as “live”. All of the actors are speaking right then and there. The lighting and sets are changed and manipulated as the action take place. Much of the technical aspects are controlled by a “(wo)man in the booth” flicking switches and pulling on knobs on cue based upon the notes penciled in along the margins of the script of the play placed in front of the engineer as a guide. The only time the engineer is ever acknowledged outside of the blurbs written within the program–assuming that anybody actually reads these acknowledgments–is at the end of the play where the actors taking their bow under audience applause, gestures with arms extended with open palms toward the said person in the booth. And if anything goes wrong in a play (which occasional does), the actors, thinking on their feet, will make do with that error, only to bounce back and continue on with their show as if nothing happened that wasn’t in the script or to what the director expected!
These little episodes make a play worth seeing. Granted, some shows are done rather poor. That is usually due to the script used (a badly written script), or how the show is executed as conducted by professionals or by amateur theater enthusiasts that gathered together to declare, “Hey, Gang! Let’s put on a show in the barn!”, without the assistance of Mickey Rooney or Judy Garland for guidance. (Maybe Donald O’Connor and Peggy Ryan??) But I will note that if a show is indeed bad, I will make some comment about it with the notion that I will do such without being mean spirited. I won’t write “This show sucks! Avoid at all costs!”, because the live elements will save the program as it is! (Movies and the occasional TV show review however, won’t fall into those guidelines because they are not presented as “live”! There are no “live” saving graces to fall back upon!)
Yes, we will admit that at times, we get some of the actor’s and/or crew names wrong, usually due to unique spelling! (Smith? Smyth? Smithe? Stein? Stine? Styne?) You get the idea!
Lastly, if you suggest that I do use a copy editor, please recommend a few editors that I can take advantage of. If you yourself are indeed a copy editor noting this fact to perhaps drum up business, send me your rate card! We would be interested in speaking with you!
What was written above won’t be the last you will hear from us, dear publicity person! As they would say to actors attempting to nab a role during theater auditions, we’ll keep in touch!!
So that’s some of your comments and feedback. If you would like to place your two-cents in, we would be honored to hear from you. Just refer to the last page of this edition to contact us. We’ll be awaiting!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre West presents the world premier of Benjamin Scuglia’s THE MAN WHO SAVED EVERYTHING, a drama about a middle aged man who attempts to keep the memory of his long deceased parents alive only to spiral into holding on to everything they ever possessed!
David Mingrino is Barry. As a young adult, he dropped out of college when his parents fell ill, returning home to take care of them. When they passed away, he become so affixed to them, he started to keep every piece of something they had within their home as a memory. This collecting became more intense over time. Before long, he started to hole himself inside of their modest home, keeping every bit of anything that was part of their lives. The goods he was clinging has little to no value to anyone but Barry. He continued to keep every piece of whatever ranging from ragged pieces of clothing, cheap knickknacks, to calendars from years long forgotten all stored away in boxes piled high and crammed into every place manageable. Two people from Barry’s life are the only ones that still call upon him. Those two are his best friend from college, Chuck (James J. Cox), and niece Darla (Ashley Victoria Robinson). The two try to inform him that a real estate developer has purchased the entire neighborhood of homes to build a large development, including the home that Barry lives now long depleted and run down. But Barry refuses to not only leave, but to let go with anything inside of the house! But Barry isn’t alone as the two spirits of his father (Alan Schack) and mother (Julia Silverman, alternating with Suzanne Collins) remain. Barry’s obsession with his long deceased parents, as well as everything they possessed, are now part of his psyche. Along with the ghosts of his parents are the unseen inner demons that control his amplified state of collecting.
This single act play by Benjamin Scuglia is a piece that can be called a bittersweet look on one man’s obsession with keeping items far beyond as a hobby of collecting items that may hold value such as coins or comic books. Instead, it’s a feat of what’s known as “hoarding”, recognized as the state of keeping an excessive collection and retention of things (or even animals) when they interfere with day-to-day functions that’s part of a domesticated lifestyle. In this play, David Mingrino as Barry is a man who adored his parents and continued to do so long after they died. His intentions for keeping the memory of his parents are for the good, but only within his mind! Chuck, his college chum as played by James J. Cox, along with family member Darla as portrayed by Ashley Victoria Robinson, remains as the only two that haven’t died (yet) or had abandon him because of his emotional obsessions. The way Barry is depicted isn’t about a man who is mentally ill, but as a man that wanted to still love the parents that raised him, even when those parents have been long departed. It’s a play that pictures a person that could never let go, although what he is obsesses over had let him go when their lives long ended.
Michael Van Duzer directs this show that has emotional heart along with a sobering method of a sense of want from a man that wanted everything yet had nothing “real” to show of it outside of piles upon piles of things that can be called everything from “junk” to “garbage”!
And speaking of things overly kept, Even A. Bartoletti’s set design depicts a older bungalow of a home loaded to the gills with run down furnishings along with piles of boxes and storage bins full of items that hold no value to anyone expect the person keeping it all! It’s a busy set for a man too obsessed to maintain it all!
Also appearing in this production are Ivy Miguel and Loida Navas as “The Collectables”, a pair of silent and invisible characters that are part of Barry’s inner demons that gives him the desire to keep anything and everything that represents his parents, no matter what those things may be.
Although there are some episodes in this play that can be labeled as comedy relief, THE MAN WHO SAVED EVERYTHING is really a drama that focuses itself upon a rather unspoken part of a mental illness. (Yes folks, the state of hoarding is recognized as a emotional nonconformity far from just a subject of a recent reality TV series that exists as entertainment!)
In spite of this form of emotional thinking, the play itself is entertaining and even carries a message. If one is going to keep a massive amount of goods, do so for a reason. Otherwise, it’s enough to create a massive amount of clutter for somebody else to either keep or dispose of. This play is highly recommended due to its scope and originality.
THE MAN WHO SAVED EVERYTHING, presented by and performs at Theater West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles (Universal City adjacent) until September 23rd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Special “talkbacks” where the cast and crew gather upon the stage to discuss the play with a Q&A session, takes place after each Sunday performance.
For more information and for ticket reservations, call (323) 851-7977, or online at http://www.TheatreWest.org
Visit their social media presence via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TheManWhoSavedEverything
Performing at The Lounge Theater in Hollywood is the Steven Sater/Duncan Sheik musical SPRING AWAKENING, a tale about adolescence youth uncovering their inner and outer turmoil of sexuality and related disorientation, in reaction to what the elders experience.
Taking place in the latter years of 19th century Germany, the story focuses upon a selection of youth, those that have reached puberty but not encountered full adulthood.
Wendla (Asha Noel Iyer) strives with making sense of her blossoming sexuality. Her mother won’t teach her the basics on how sex functions due to her awkwardness of detailing the facts to her. Melchior (Andrew Gleckler) becomes the focus of interest and the two find some form of attraction, leading up to her pregnancy with no idea on the how conception actually works, let along exists. Because of this unplanned pregnancy, not even being told nor aware of Wendla’s fate, Melchior is sent to a reform school by his parents. This leads up for the young lass to dispose of the unborn child through a botched abortion, causing her to die. More situations spiral out of control. Classmates Hanschen (Anthony Cloyd) and Ernst (Michael Waller) encounter a same sex relationship, and another young woman Martha (Laila Drew), tolerates an abusive father. These hard facts of life among the youth of the community are enhanced by the adults taking blame not upon themselves, but toward the ignorance of the youth.
This musical production with book and lyrics by Stephen Sater and music score by Duncan Sheik, takes upon its original source, Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play Spring’s Awakening, and enhances the elements seen as a portrait of how the young people that dwell within a progressive European nation is getting out of control, while its adult leadership are not taking any responsibility. This was during the period when children should be “seen and not heard”. The youth are separated by gender as the boys attend a strict and tense schooling, while the girls are limited to domestic situations as they will eventually find a man to marry and to take charge. In this production as seen at The Lounge Theater, the ensemble cast does keep the themes and aura to its original period (1890’s Germany), while creating a parallel to the contemporary issues of now–early 21st century America. The ensemble cast that consists of lead players as noted above, as well as Emma Lue Delaney as Ilse, Thomas Aduue Polk as Moritz, Timothy Reese as Georg, Jui Seeley as Thea, Abigale Thomas as Anna, Michael Waller as Ernst, L.E. Woods as Otto, with Kris Robenson and Jack Stuart as the adults, perform their roles with honestly and integrity, never letting their musical theater presence fall upon the wayside.
A musical program such as this one plays very well, if not better, on a small intimate stage as to a larger and perhaps wider theater space. The smaller setting brings its character to the audience experiencing this show, rather than projecting stage movement at the crowd far seated. Travis Kendrick stage direction and choreographic movements thrusts this program as a tight production, as set to Myrona DeLaney’s transcribed musical direction of its score.
David Goldstein’s scenic design consists of posts with black colored planks placed in a low pitched criss-crossed horizontal fashion, along with a set of black chair pieces that’s interchanged frequently between the chairs and planks to depict various scenes and settings. Sera Bourgeou’s costuming is a blend of late 19th century inner and outerwear for the women, and 21st century pants and jackets for the men. (No one dons a tie!) These pieces of clothing are one of its many elements that bridges the gap between then and now.
As to this bridge between the notions of then and the aspects of now, this musical is more timely than ever! Within the last few years, youth has seen the triggers that make their lives more complicated than previously experienced, ranging from the use of violence through firearms, the elements of sexual awareness and its harrasment, and other related theories. SPRING AWAKENING is a musical that takes heed into what may be the “what if”, and to the “what can be”. Today’s youth are willing to make a difference for the good of society. They have the power right in their hands and are eager to make that change for the better. The title suggests that a “spring awakening” was needed some 125 years before, and is needed in today’s landscape.
SPRING AWAKENING, presented by Me + You Productions, and performs at The Lounge2 Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (at El Centro, one block east of Vine Street), Hollywood, until September 9th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 1:00 PM. Special matinee performs on Saturday, September 9th at 1:00 PM. For ticket reservations and for more information, visit the website http://www.SpringAwakeningForGunSafety.com.
Follow this show through social media via Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SpringAwakeningForGunSafety, and via Instagram @SpringAwakeningForGunSafety
THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS (STX Films) takes place in the City of Angeles-Los Angeles, home of Phil Philips, private eye (Bill Barretta), Phil was at one time an LAPD detective. But a botched attempt while attempting to free a hostage from a suspect with a gun killing an innocent bystander in the process, got him kicked off the force. Now he’s on his own keeping an office space located in a crappy part of town, just him and his front office secretary Bubbles. (Maya Rudolph). Phil isn’t just a private eye, he’s a “muppet”-esque puppet! In LA, puppets do exist with humans, but they are not treated equal. In fact, they are treated as a downridden minority group holding minimal respect.
Some twenty five years before, a TV series called “The Happytime Gang” was one of the hottest TV sitcoms around. Phil’s brother Larry was its lead player, along with a cast of other puppets. Phil didn’t think much of his brother who had a better career. But one day, Phil receives a client, a puppet named Jenny (Elizabeth Banks). She received an anonymous letter that hints that an unknown source is out to get the surviving cast members of The Happytime Gang. Phil takes the case since she is willing to pay for his services and he’s impressed with Jenny’s sex appeal. But a serial killer is indeed bumping off each cast member-Larry included! The LAPD assigns one of their bunch-Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy). She’s a loose cannon and despises puppets. Phil, seeking revenge on who did his brother in, takes the case as well. Connie and Phil team up as their total opposites. But as detectives, they are out to discover who is behind these murders, even if they get roughed up in the process!
This comedy is a classic example of taking a 1940’s film noir concept, adding the action and snarkyness of a 1970’s cop/detective TV series, attach a blend of puppets doing bad things, toss in the comical antics of Melissa McCarthy, and mix in with doses of puppet sex, puppet violence, and puppet drug usage. The results is a movie that is comical in sytle, a bit silly at times, but entertaining for what it is. Todd Burger’s screenplay with story by Burger and Dee Austin Robertson, contains plenty of comical characters (human and puppet), cliched dialogue (intentional no doubt), along with the for noted “puppet”-style violence and drug usage that makes this feature very amusing. It’s “violence” consists of cotton and cloth stuffing blown all over the place when a puppet is shot at, the “drugs” used are sugar-based substances such as purple colored granulates mimicking powered smack, as well as Connie downing bottles of maple syrup as it was cheap booze! These elements show off how these puppets, living in big bad L.A. get their due to the society they live in, but didn’t create!
Along with the cast is featured Leslie David Baker as Lt. Banning, Connie’s boss who watches these rouge detectives on the Happytime murder case with a cynical eye, and Joel McHale as Agent Campbell of the LAPD. As much as their roles are seen as stereotypical, this just adds to the fun that this feature contains. The puppets themselves are not total CGI types, but real “flesh” puppets that are of the “muppet” variety, rather than something out of a 1950’s-era kiddie show, or as marionettes. But the CGI kicks in where one doesn’t see anyone manipulating the puppets in question. But they are “for real”, rather than depicted as an image that only exists on a hard drive.
Brian Henson, the son of the late Jim Henson, directs this film with that same method of cockiness that this movie holds. Of course, since this movie is rated “R” for the above noted puppet-style sex, violence, drug use, as well as occasional cussing, it’s best advised to leave the kiddies at home–or at least leave them inside another theater where more family-friendly titles are showing!
Now playing at the usual mix of multiplexes nationwide.
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