Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sorkin "Friended" By Facebook for Biopic

Aaron Sorkin's newest writing project? A biopic about the creators of Facebook. Sorkin, a famed and sought after LA-based writer, has long had a fan in me. And I sure do love me some Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, creator of the social networking phenomenon, has turned down billion-dollar offers in order to remain independent. The many ownership debates, Facebook's remarkable growth and its presence in the media certainly makes for some good film fodder. And Sorkin definitely has a gift for eloquently turning fodder into though-provoking entertainment.

Sorkin got his start writing for the stage and was quickly swept off to Hollywood where he has penned several successful and critically-acclaimed films. His screenplay writing credits include A Few Good Men, Malice, The American President and Charlie Wilson's War. Sorkin is probably best-known and most-loved for creating and acting as head writer for three very popular TV series: Studio 60, The West Wing and Sports Night.

Last year saw Sorkin returning to Broadway as the author of the very mediocre The Farnsworth Invention. As I stated in my review, it seems as though the producers (which included Steven Spielberg) could not decide if Farnsworth was a film or a play and made the wrong choice. Perhaps the forthcoming film Flash of Genius, which also tells the story of an inventor who gets the shaft, will work better.

In addition to the Facebook film, Sorkin has been tapped for The Trial of the Chicago 7 and the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. I have every confidence that Sorkin will deliver with a heavyhitting courtroom drama, as that is his sweet spot. I have reservations about how he will handle Follies. Hopefully he is more successful bringing stage to screen than he is trying to morph a screenplay to the stage.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Change Is Officially Imminent

Barack Obama has accepted the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. It is time for change, folks! Click here to read the transcript of his speech or watch it on YouTube (Pt 1, Pt 2, Pt 3, Pt 4 and Pt 5).


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Simpsons Intro in Live Action - 2 Cool!

This video has amassed in excess of 2 million hits since it was added over 2 years ago. 2day, however, was the 1st time I saw it... And it was 2 good not 2 share! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where The Wild (And Talented) Things Are: 92nd Street Y

Oh, if only I could attend this little event up at the 92nd Street Y...

Several of the announced guests for this celebration/fundraiser are associated with the forthcoming film. This includes director Spike Jonze, Wild Thing Forest Whitaker, Catherine Keener and everyone's favorite Soprano James Gandolfini. Should that list not suffice, they've thrown in some Tony Kushner, Meryl Streep and Anika Noni Rose, among others, for good measure.

General sale tickets are sold out but benefit tickets to for special seats and a post-performance cocktail party are available by contacting Marissa Carty at 212-415-5488 or by e-mail. Funds are donated to Y-sponsored Education Outreach Intiatives that serve 8,000 kids each year.

That's a good thing folks. So if you'll be in NYC on September 15th, if you've got the cash for those special seats and want to part of something cool, I'm thinking this event will qualify.

Incidentally, the Warner Brothers film just wrapped an expensive reshoot in June and is listed on IMDb as being in post-production. A 2009 release date is anticipated though nothing definitive has been released from the studio since mid-July. I respect the fact that the studio is willing to invest time and money in order to give this classic story the artistic attention and integrity it deserves.

I, for one, can't wait...


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ethics of Reciprocity In Hollywood?

Call it what you will: karma, the Golden Rule or simply what comes around goes around. Whatever you call it, it is nice to see some of Hollywood's finest realize that it is there but for the grace of God and to take a moment to do unto Matilda.

Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law have reportedly donated salaries received for completing The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus to Heath Ledger's daughter, Matilda. Ledger was in the middle of filming Dr. Parnassus when he died of an accidental overdose in January 2008. Following his death, the three actors stepped into Ledger's role so that the film could be completed.

Kudos for a classy move, guys!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Never Neverland (Fly Away)

Well, it has been a month now since Peter Pan has closed. The project was a lot of work but it was also exceedingly rewarding. I believe we brought a good production to the community on a shoestring budget and exposed many kids and families to the wonderment of producing theatre. If we accomplished nothing else, it was that.

But we did accomplish more... In previous posts I have also mentioned The Heart Gallery exhibit that was being displayed in the theatre's Geissinger Annex Gallery during the run of Peter Pan. Every night after the show we would gather in the Annex among the faces of over 30 children searching for permanent homes through adoption. Words cannot express the feelings experienced when I learned that 4 of the children from that exhibit have now been placed in homes. Indeed, a little fairy dust was sprinkled on our unassuming theatre in Brookfield. And it is because of moments like that in life that I do believe.

So, I have left Neverland behind and have pointed my compass in the direction of Concord, NH. Beginning in September, I will be spending a few months at TBTA with Jo March and about as much estrogen as one show can muster. In many ways, Little Women will be the polar opposite of the musical about the boy who would not grow up. This is definitely a journey that I am eager to begin.

Beyond September, plans are in the works and announcements are forthcoming... So stay tuned.

"Never Neverland (Fly Away)" from Dreaming Wide Awake by Scott Alan

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Obama, Iconis & Sondheim

Wait! Barack Obama listens to Joe Iconis? When asked about late-period musical theatre, Obama replied thusly:

Despite the emergence of the Brown-Lippa-LaChiusa triptych and younger, DIY voices like Lopez/Marx and Joe Iconis and in the post-Larson era, no one writing today even approaches the emotional depth, harmonic complexity and the spiritual clarity evident in the work of the still-living legend Stephen Sondheim. Maybe Adam Guettel, but he supports drilling.

Of course, I think it is a bit unfair and premature to compare Joe Iconis to America's most revered living musical theatre composer, who happens to be 50 years Iconis' senior. I also have a hard time believing that Obama is rocking out to Iconis on his iPod... I'm just saying.

And since we're speaking of Sondheim...

FINALLY - some casting news for the much-anticipated revival of West Side Story: Matt Cavenaugh (A Catered Affair, Grey Gardens) will play the coveted role of Tony, a move guaranteed to catapult him to Broadway superstardom. The remaining casting decisions remain a mystery but, with a February opening, I suspect they will be announced soon.

The WSS announcement comes directly on the heels of The Public Theater announcing the Off-Broadway run of Sondheim's Road Show. The musical, whose previous incarnation under the title of Bounce, will be directed by Sondheim's staple director of late John Doyle. The production will star Michael Cerveris and Alexander Gemignani.

And in more solemn Sondheim news, George Furth, the librettist for Company and Merrily We Roll Along, passed away at the age of 75. Merrily is one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, one that is also rumored for revival. Strangely enough, in my quest to find a composer for my musical project, I received a resume from someone who recently worked with George and cited him as one of his references. Perhaps this is a sign. And you know how I am about signs...

Related Article: Barack Obama and John McCain Weigh In On Pop Culture

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Little Toast with Jam-boree

As usual, Iconis and his merry band of troubadours kicked some major ass at Joe's Pub this past Monday night. Take a gander at some highlights from the evening...

"The Whiskey Song" featuring Matt Hinkley, Lance Rubin, Joe Iconis & Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams

"The Answer" from The Black Suits performed by Krysta Rodriguez

"Vagabond" performed by Matt Hinkley

"Sorta Kinda Not So Bad" from The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks with Lance Rubin & Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams

"The Song" performed by Joe Iconis

"Helen's In Skin Flicks Now" performed by Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams

"The Bar Song" featuring Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams, Joe Iconis, Matt Hinkley and Lance Rubin

"The Goodbye Song" performed by John Gallagher, Jr.

"Penny Dreadfuls" featuring Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams, Lance Rubin, Joe Iconis and Matt Hinkley

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Crazy Talented Cheyenne

How amazing is it to be Seth Rudetsky and constantly be around people as sick with talent as this? I'm guessing pretty fucking amazing.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

August: Osage County Inches Closer To The Silver Screen

Tracy Letts' stellar ensemble play, which already boasts the Pulitzer and five Tonys, is getting closer to what will undoubtedly be a few Oscars.

According to Variety, Doumanian Productions and Steve Traxler, the Broadway production's lead producers, will executive produce the cinematic incarnation of dysfunctional tour-de-force written by Steppenwolf playwright Tracy Letts. No budget, schedule or cast has been set but every time a Hollywood A-list actor goes to see August: Osage County, rumors certainly fly. In fact, theatre bloggers have made great sport of predicting which Tinsel Town luminaries they'd like to see bring the Weston family to the big screen.

I realize that several of the original cast will have had the opportunity to perform this masterpiece in London and perhaps on the US tour. I also understand the allure that some of the best written roles in contemporary theatre hold for established film actors. But please, God, please, let the Steppenwolf actors have the opportunity to immortalize their brilliant performances for the public at large. A broader audience deserves to see those performances.

And I did say please.


Click here to play casting agent for August: Osage County in the Fantasy Casting poll.


Monday, August 04, 2008

The Dempster Girls Take In The Plants That Ate Dirty Socks

So apparently the most popular keywords currently driving traffic to my blog are (1) related to reviews of Joe Iconis' The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks or (2) my maiden name.

Well who am I to disappoint?

If you are searching under my maiden name, you probably know me from my college years or before. A lot has changed since then. I am now Alicia Dempster. Google that. Or friend me on Facebook.

Also, as it would happen, on a rainy Sunday afternoon last week my three daughters and I took the train to the City to see Plant, the second of the two fully-realized Iconis shows produced this summer. And, since it is what my readers want, I will write a review.

In its 20th season of offering free theatre to children, TheatreworksUSA's production of The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks continues the tradition of providing literature-based musicals featuring some of theatre's most promising talent. Iconis' one-hour family friendly rock musical is currently in production at the Lucille Lortel Theatre and is based on the first installment of Nancy McArthur's popular book series from the late 80s. A less-gory spin on another rock musical, Little Shop of Horrors, it is the story of two very different brothers who find common ground in their unusual plants.

Many of the titles in Joe's songbook are for mature audiences only, so several tracks get skipped when we're listening to Mommy's Iconis CD in the car. My girls have, however, heard "Plants Make Wonderful Pets" enough times that they were humming it well before they saw the show. In fact, we even incorporated the book into storytime, so they were aptly primed for our journey to see the musical adaptation.

Iconis' pulsating rock score and clever lyrics are appealing to both the primary audience for which they are intended and the parents seated at their side. Most notable are the jaunty and catchy "Plants Make Wonderful Pets" and "Welcome To My Room", although the one that my girls now keep screaming around the house is "I Saw It Suck Up A Sock!" Some of Iconis' best songs, in my opinion, are the ones with lilting melodies and simple sentiment, thus making "Sorta Kinda Not So Bad" my personal favorite (hey, I'm a sentimentalist).

Iconis' book solidly retells McArthur's story with only minor variances from the less-than-complex chapter book. Most of the changes, I presume, were made to keep the cast size small and its run-time under an hour thus increasing its tour appeal. While children's theatre may not be the genre one would dub as being in Iconis' comfort zone, he has certainly risen to the task with an infectious and entertaining production.

The at-odds brothers, portrayed by Jason "Sweet Tooth" Williams and Lance Rubin, are energetic and endearing. Williams is wide-eyed and soulful as big brother Michael, a perfect compliment to Rubin's dorky yet comical Norman. Both manage the various song styles with the vocal power necessary to handle a loud, rock score but lend just the right amount of heart to ballads like the aforementioned "Sorta Kinda Not So Bad".

As the meddling neighbor kids, Lauren Marcus and Jeffery Omura have the opportunity to show off their pipes in their featured number, "Talk of the Town." Marcus is spirited and nasty as nosy-cheerleader-with-a-dark-side Patty Jenkins. Her bulldog scene with Lisitza is classic and, despite her tantrums, her character was a favorite with my girls. Doubling as egomanical 7th grade pal Jason and ratings-hungry telejournalist McKenzie, Jeffrey Omura creates characters that are appropriately loathesome. He also has 15 seconds in "Welcome To My Room" as the Mailman that delivers the mysterious sock-eating plant seeds. My eldest daughter was deeply concerned that he was not credited for this role in the Playbill. I believe she may have a future as an agent.

Lorinda Lisitza and Kilty Reidy play the boys' far-too-accomodating parents with cartoon character perfection. Since most of the songs are relegated to the kids characters, the only time we really got to hear Lorinda wail is during the riotous "Talk of the Town". But wail she does. For more wailing, click here. Lisitza and Reidy also show up at the science fair to chew the scenery a bit as Sanjay and the Judge respectively.

The eponymous plants are the brainchild of puppeteer designer Eric Wright and are manipulated by puppeteer Michael Shupbach. While I did see some kids hiding their eyes during the sock-slurping scenes, the plants are truly lovable, as is witnessed in a cute and humorous scene between Michael and his plant Stanley.

No strangers to Iconis material, director John Simpkins and choreographer Jennifer Werner stage a tight production. Michael Schweikardt's colorful set deftly set the stage, whether it is the boy's bedroom or the cafegymitorium, and it is highlighted by Tracy Christensen's youthful costumes and Chris Dallos' lighting design.

While I personally prefer my Iconis a little bloodier, Plant is a great introduction to the brilliantly damaged mind of Joe Iconis. I had a great afternoon at the theatre with my girls and, with all due to respect to the folks over at CityCenter, they said they liked it better than Damn Yankees.


The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks runs at the Lucille Lortell Theater in New York until August 22nd. For information, visit