Jul 29, 2005

Dark Night Toast

Before I blow out of the town that's been my home and my stubborn muse for nearly half my life, I'll raise a farewell toast at Weiland's on Monday night, Aug. 1, starting around 8 p.m.

Hope to see you there.

Jul 27, 2005

Beside Myself

What a disarming and depressing coda to my time in L.A.: Mike Farkash has died. I was out of town and just now caught Hank Bunker's dead-on eulogy (I use the pun advisedly, as I think Mike would have appreciated it).

I knew Mike and employed him as a freelancer when I was at Back Stage West (how strange but somehow unsurprising that that very paper has remained silent about his death). He took upon it himself to introduce himself to me; he was working as a copy editor and sometime writer for The Hollywood Reporter, and we were in the same building, and it only made sense that a playwright and freelance writer should wander by and meet and greet.

I must admit that we struck up a mostly nicotine-based friendship (bittersweet, given that he apparently died of a heart attack), and he seldom tired of quoting back to me my bemused-but-positive review of the one play of his I ever saw, long before I'd met him—I believe it was called Beside Myself, at Theater/Theatre (in the old Cahuenga location which is now a Greyhound bus depot). I have vivid memories of it; it was quite brightly dark, gleefully weird and off-balance.

Much as he was. I remember Mike as lumbering and rueful but also unfailingly wry and slyly smiling—I don't know that we ever had an entirely straight-faced conversation—and I second Bunker's remembrance of his gently stentorian voice. I don't know what else to say, except that in some corner of wherever-we-go, Mike is regaling someone with the story of how he once saw Pamela Gordon naked in a play at Padua (eventually, after hearing this story for the umpteenth time, I had him write a profile of her in 2002; it's here, though I think you'll need a subscription to read it). Come to think of it, he and Pamela are probably having a good laugh (and a smoke) together as I write.

We can't go on. We must go on.

CORRECTION: Found an old list of "shows seen," and the Farkash play I reviewed was in fact titled Control Freaks. (Beside Myself was another play I covered from around the same time, but it was an Amy Hill solo show at East West Players.)

Jul 26, 2005


I'll be appearing at Skylight Books in Los Feliz this Saturday evening at 5 p.m. to promote my book about film/TV casting. My guest will be John Levey, and possibly some other casting directors (though the TV season has started in earnest and they're swamped). Here are further details.

Jul 25, 2005

Times They Are A'Changin'

Go away for a month and the whole world turns upside down. Well, at least the world of the LA Times. This quote from Nikki Finke's indispensibly snarky report caught my interest.
Actually, the real tragedy here is local: the LAT now does an even crappier job covering Los Angeles than ever, and that may be the root of its readership problems. While Carroll had his eye mainly on Pulitzer Prizes, he overlooked the needs and desires of readers wanting to know what was really going on in their own backyard. This is the guy, after all, who mutated and mutilated the Metro section into “California.” Already, insiders tell L.A. Weekly, Baquet will refocus attention here at home as much as hither and yon.

I think the word "tragedy" might be overwrought but that's Finke—nothing if not sweeping. Obviously I'm thinking of the implications Baquet's home-town focus might have on the future of the paper's glancing, incoherent, rudderless coverage of Los Angeles theatre over the past four years. But then this gave me a little pause:
Dubbed Mr. Smooth for his usually cool and elegant demeanor, the onetime NYT national editor [Baquet] is also a fearsome competitor, especially when it comes to his former employer... I reported a year ago that Baquet went ballistic after four superstar LAT journalists defected in one week to the NYT, and threw a temper tantrum when entertainment-industry editor-writer Michael Cieply was even considering a job offer from there. After all, Baquet himself had organized a “Go West” migration of a handful of prominent reporters and editors from the NYT to the LAT starting in 2000.

So maybe he'll finally hire a lead theatre critic, but one from New York. On that front, I have to say that despite the rumors I heard murmured with confidence (and in confidence) by some New York journo colleagues, my sources at the Times say they've heard nothing about a hiring, or imminent hiring, of a new theatre scribe. At the rate they're going, I wouldn't hold my breath—I tried that, and it hurt, and now I'm in New York.

Jul 24, 2005

Alley Cats

Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times
A stylish photo for a stylin' duo. My last L.A.-based feature for the Times, at least for a while, is here.

Jul 14, 2005

"Moons" Over Off-Broadway

My first review from New York (subs. req'd.).

I'm sitting in a friend's flat in "Boomsbury," as the Brits have nicknamed the 'hood. Two streets over is the plastic-wrapped crime scene.

Will sign off now for a few weeks' vacation.

Onward and upward!

Jul 10, 2005

Gullible Goonie and Other News

So the former child star tries another ironic comeback route. I was intrigued by this mainly because I happened to see Mr. Feldman and his strikingly proportioned new wife at a performance of Lydia in Bed at Theatre of NOTE a few months ago. Feldman sat, wearing the black sunglasses of practiced anonymity, in the front row. In fact, I didn't recognize him; someone had to point him out to me.

In another piece of scurrilous news in which others are more clued in than I: Yet another critical colleague based here in Gotham has confirmed the rumor about the L.A. Times' imminent hiring of a lead theatre critic, after leaving the post vacant for 3 1/2 years. Actually, what my source said was "they haven't hired but are close to hiring" the new scribe, but more than that he can't say because he's sworn to secrecy. (But he did confirm that it's not this writer).

Finally, I can testify to the usefulness of the Big Cheap Theatre board, where I found the listing for Celia Anne Brown's sublet in Cobble Hill and acted on it immediately.

Brooklyn, here I come.

Jul 8, 2005

Soldiering On

Just one review by yours truly this week, but it kicks off a rather downbeat Stage Beat.

Jul 7, 2005

British Horror

A very dear American friend of mine is holed up in her London apartment as I write, as she is directly above one of the tube stations that was bombed this morning. She was also a block away from the double-decker bus bombing.

She did report to her teaching job, however, where she overheard a receptionist say, "God, why couldn't they just hit America again?"

Words fail me. Off to hop on the New York subway.

Jul 6, 2005

Rumor With a View

Just heard from the lips of a New York colleague that the L.A. Times has finally hired a theatre critic, and that said critic will soon be relocating... from New York. I have not found any confirmation for this admittedly totally scurrilous, unfounded rumor, but I can't say I'd be surprised.

Yet another reason to look for work in New York, which I am doing at present. On a lighter note, here's a shot of some fireworks over the East River, at a rooftop gathering attended (briefly) by Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and their rat terrier, Lola.

Belated Good News

All the way from Pittsburgh, a friendly nod.

Tanner Runs Again

The best news on the local scene in a long time: The Bard of Silverlake has a new joint.

Jul 5, 2005

Stop the Presses: Plays to Open in NY, London

Wowee! The LA Times really stays on top of the news that matters. Why, maybe this isn't such a backwater after all! I was intrigued to read about this opening, though. Bock's whimsical play has had a pair of well-reviewed Southland productions (here's one report). Perhaps once it proves its mettle in a "real" theatre town it might merit a puff piece in our hometown paper.

Jul 1, 2005

The Wall Is Down...

I didn't realize that calendarlive.com had dropped its subscription-required wall until this week, since I've actually been paying the $3.95 a month or whatever it is so I can look at my own L.A. Times pieces online, and I guess they're not eager to inform paying customers about the opt-out option. They even got another $7.95 from me today for a couple of archived stories—doh! (Yes, sometimes I need official-looking archive copies, despite this extremely handy resource.)

At last I can link to the reviews by myself and my colleagues. Enjoy us free!