Category Archives: tony awards

Miley Gone Mad?

With an impending birthday coming this week, after watching the opening number of this year’s MTV VMAs, I had to ask myself two questions. Or rather one question with a choice. Am I old, or has Miley Cyrus lost her mind?

I am concerned for her well being honestly. The woman is clearly out of control, if not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just plain stupidity. If she was a close friend, or a member of our families – you know damned straight she’d be long overdue for an intervention.

Yeah, and there it is. It’s not like the VMAs don’t have a reputation for controversy. I remember quite clearly as a young man seeing Madonna hump the floor in a bridal gown while singing “Like a Virgin.” I will never forget that as long as I live. Later shows have tried to recreate or top that moment, but rarely succeeding. It may be time for MTV to stop trying to do that, and just do an awards show. The Oscars and the Tonys have both shown in recent years that ‘just an awards show’ can actually be quite good.

What bothers me most about the Miley Cyrus performance at the VMAs is that no one stopped it, no one pulled her aside and said No. Even Robin Thicke, especially co-conspirator Robin Thicke should have known better. Lady GaGa is outrageous. Madonna is outrageous. But poor Miley just made us feel embarrassed and worried for her.

Outrageous, unique, and controversial are something to aspire to in the entertainment industry, but this was just a freak show, and pitiful and shocking for most of us to watch. And I’m sure Will Smith and his family agrees with me.

RIP Bonnie Franklin

The first time I watched “One Day at a Time,” I didn’t get it. Maybe it was because it was a more female focused show, or maybe because its themes were just a little bit above my head. It was a different kind of Norman Lear show.

Bonnie Franklin, former Tony Award winning Broadway star played the divorced mom raising her two teenaged daughters alone with occasional help from her building’s super. It later got and held my attention a couple years later when my hormones refocused on a budding Valerie Bertinelli as one of the daughters.

“One Day at a Time” had a tumultuous nine year run filled with behind the scenes turmoil, but Bonnie Franklin stood tall through it all, winning multiple awards including the Emmy and the Golden Globe. Her portrayal of a single mom was a pioneering role of the time. Since then she has appeared rarely on television, her most recent gig was in an episode of Betty White’s “Hot in Cleveland.”

Bonnie Franklin passed away this afternoon at her home in Los Angeles from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 69. She will be missed.

Charles Durning 1923-2012

On the same day we lost Jack Klugman, Christmas Eve, we also lost Charles Durning, the king of the character actors. The multiple award-winning actor, featured in over a hundred films, was 89.

I first encountered Charles Durning as Detective Moretti in Dog Day Afternoon. He was the likable but straight arrow cop who negotiated with Al Pacino’s bank robber Sonny Wortzik. I love the film, a time capsule of the 1970s, that earned Durning a Best Supporting Actor nom from the Golden Globes. But it’s not his only film, before or since.

Durning’s resume also includes terrific roles in The Sting, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Muppet Movie, and Tootsie, among so many others. He was also a veteran of the Second World War, won a Tony for playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and had regular parts on the TV shows “Evening Shade,” “Family Guy,” “Everyone Loves Raymond,” and “Rescue Me.”

Throughout his long career as an actor he was rarely not working, and was always playing memorable characters. We’ve lost another of the greats. He will be missed.

Marvin Hamlisch 1944-2012

Celebrated composer Marvin Hamlisch passed away yesterday after a brief but undisclosed illness. He was a star of stage and screen, and won multiple awards, among them – Grammys, Emmys, Oscars, a Tony and a Pulitzer. He was 68.

Hamlisch was perhaps one of the most famous American composers, having created scores for many movies, TV specials and Broadway shows. He was conductor of multiple orchestras across the nation.

His most famous works include A Chorus Line, The Goodbye Girl, The Sting, Take the Money and Run, The Spy Who Loved Me, Ice Castles, Sophie’s Choice, and The Way We Were.

Lena Horne 1917-2010

Award-winning vocalist, actress, and performer of the stage and screen, both small and large, Lena Horne passed away yesterday just short of her 93rd birthday.

I first became aware of Miss Horne in the oddest of places – from the old “Sanford and Son” show as she was a celebrity whom the lead character played by Redd Foxx had the hots for. As Lena was a mainstay of the variety programs of the day I soon learned who she really was. While I knew her from variety television and even “Sesame Street,” her career began decades earlier at the Cotton Club in the 1930s, where she was, and remained throughout her life, one of jazz’s premiere vocalists, her signature song being “Stormy Weather.”

From there she went on to Hollywood appearing in many films, most notably Cabin in the Sky, Panama Hattie and Stormy Weather. Unfortunately her life was made difficult in a less tolerant age because of her interracial marriage and her strong civil rights activism, so she turned to playing in Vegas for some time.

Miss Horne continued to record music throughout her career, moreso in the 1980s and 90s after her successful one-woman Broadway show “Lena Horne: The Lady and her Music.” We have truly lost a legend, she will be missed.

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Lynn Redgrave Passes Away

Actress Lynn Redgrave passed away peacefully last night after a long battle with breast cancer. She was a star of the stage and the big and small screen, and a member of the Redgrave family acting dynasty, which also lost her niece Natasha Richardson some time ago.

Lynn Redgrave’s roles range from films like Georgy Girl and Gods and Monsters for which she received Oscar nominations to Tony nominated stage performances to recent television appearances on “Desperate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty.”

Her personal life has never been kept from the public. Suffering from bulimia, she became an open spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and released a book with her daughter about her fight with breast cancer. Ms. Redgrave will be missed.

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2009 Tony Awards

CBS aired the 2009 Tony Awards live tonight. Neil Patrick Harris, Dr. Horrible himself, hosted (my main reason for tuning in), and he did not disappoint.

The opening number was spectacular. “Billy Elliot” took home fifteen Tonys, including best musical and three best actor for the three leads in the title role. “God of Carnage” got best play. Frank Langella and Geoffrey Rush both tried to be funny but failed. Bret Michaels and Poison performed, as did Sir Elton John, but only Bret got hurt. James Gandolfini was unamused. Anne Hathaway had a ball. Angela Lansbury looked good and won her fifth Tony. Liza Minnelli won one too but looked pretty scary. A mispronounciation in-joke proliferated. Lots of fun all around.

And of course, the highlight of the evening was that NPH sang to close out the show. Witness the brilliance:

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Bea Arthur Passes at 86

Beatrice Arthur, Tony and Emmy Award winning actress and star of the sitcoms “Maude” and “Golden Girls,” passed away at her home earlier today.

She won a Tony for her role of Vera Charles in “Mame,” as well as multiple awards for work on her sitcoms. She also notoriously appeared, along other odd choices like Art Carney and Harvey Korman, in 1978’s “The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

Although the cause of death was unannounced, Ms. Arthur was fighting with cancer for some time. An icon of the small screen and the big stage, she’ll be missed and remembered fondly.

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