Thursday, June 30, 2005

The New Pornographers and Destroyer at The Henry Fonda

Okay, it's not until September 29, but I want to start making plans now because I want to GO. Who's in? I just confirmed the dates with TNP's website, and the new album, Twin Cinema, comes out on August 23. Mark your calendars. See you at the Fonda! Fonda what? Fonda...oh...you know.... (blush).

I'm afraid no one outside of Arkansas got that joke, but it still made me giggle to type it.

Kiki and Herb at Outfest!

I'm so traumatized by this!

SATURDAY, July 9, 9:30 pm, Regent Showcase

KIKI AND HERB RELOADED

This sassy tongue-in-cheek cocktail of drunken melancholy and sharp humor is a riotous mockumentary about cult cabaret duo Kiki and Herb, featuring interviews with Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters.
Introduced by Tilda Swinton Live Performance by Kiki and Herb


I'm going to Sing-Along-A-Sound-Of-Music at the Hollywood Bowl next Saturday and can't make it. Again, can someone please split me in two so I can attend both events? It's Kiki and Herb on film! And live! Barring the whole "splitting-in-two" scenario, could someone buy tickets here and then smuggle a recording device into the event for me, please? Thanks.

Night of writing #2

So, last night, after much consternation, I decided to give Psychobabble in Los Feliz a try. My first impulse was The Downbeat Cafe in Echo Park, which I always enjoy, but it's small and kinda hipster-fied (they even had a jazz band playing in the corner), and I'm still getting over the connotations that come with sitting in a coffee shop for hours in L.A. with a laptop. I'll admit to feeling a little self-conscious about being perceived as one of "them" -- by them, I mean, wanna-be-hotshot-industry-types who sit on their laptops in coffee shops and talk loudly on their cell phones to their fellow wanna-be-hotshot-industry-types about development and options and pitch meetings and rewrites and the like. Come on, just because I work on a studio lot and I have aspirations to make a living as a writer and I look for jobs in the entertainment industry and I moved to Hollywood after getting my MFA in dramatic writing, don't pin your "industry asshole" label on me, alright? I write plays! And those scripts I have sitting in a pile that I'm writing coverage on -- all plays! So anyway, I ditched the Downbeat, especially when I saw the band, thinking it might be rude to plug in the headphones and start up the i-tunes while they were playing. All the way up through Silver Lake I went, looking for an alternative and not wanting to end up at The Coffee Table for two days in a row. So I ended up looking for refuge in Los Feliz. I parked the car and walked past my 2nd of 3 movie shoots I would see that evening (the first was at Akbar, of all places...3rd was at City College on Vermont on the way home), over to Psychobabble, where I found a most hospitable place to camp out with a decaf and pound the shit out. Seriously, you could throw a rock in that place and you'd hit a writer. Laptops everywhere, a discussion group in the center of the room. I got a lot of good work done, although my flow was even interrupted momentarily by a couple of women who announced that their brother had just written and directed a movie that they co-starred in that was playing at the Sunset 5 this weekend. She held up a postcard for The Talent Given Us; I immediately requested two for Saturday afternoon. I've seen trailers for this movie, it recently got a nice review in the NYTimes, and I just got free tickets from two of the actors in it?? Okay, so all said, maybe I have found my writing home-away-from-home...maybe all my earlier protestations are just silly.... I am most certainly a playwright, but it's still Hollywood, after all. And hey, I fit right in with a room full of headphone-wearing geeks hunched over laptops; if I can get free movie tickets out of the deal, that's even sweeter.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The F**k Yeah Fest

Could someone please go to this for me this Saturday and take along some kind of recording device for The Mae Shi and The Mean Reds? I love those guys! I'm going to see I Am My Own Wife with Jefferson Mays that night, and believe me, I don't regret that at all, but it's too bad I can't be in two places at once.

That whole desktop crap

is for the birds! I went to The Coffee Table in Silver Lake, plugged in my headphones, and worked for over two hours last night. This doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, but believe me...working two hours in a week has been monumental lately, especially in the distraction-palace that is my studio apartment. I see so much potential in the rituals I might devise out of this new word-processing portability. I'm envisioning a whole new era of KTW prolificacy, during which time I churn out mind-bending, cataclysmically life-changing, brutally honestly truthfully heartbreakingly stunning works for the stage and screen, even squeezing in a few novels and collections of occasional, conversational, autobiographical verse. I'll write manifestos, proclamations, essays about my rural southern upbringing. Imagine it, page after page, the repression, the shackle-shedding, the terrifying, quotidian roulette wheel that is this crazy existence we all share. Or maybe I'll just get hooked up to Wi-Fi at Buzz in WeHo and blog about stuff.

Adam Bock

Anyone know anything about this guy? I just finished reading a play of his called The Typographer's Dream that kinda made no sense to me (in a good way) and a play of his just opened in New York called Swimming in the Shallows that was reviewed in today's NYTimes. The review by Neil Genzlinger is here. He calls it "a screwy little jewel of a play." Based on The Typographer's Dream, I'm not surprised. I for one am all for plays about shark/man love; just don't stage it in Florida. Yikes!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

clarkblog

My friend Clark, himself a frequent commenter (commenter? commentor? commentator?) on the FWL, a playwright, a screenwriter, and a lover of all things sci-fi and comic booky, is launching his own blog. He'll end up in my favorites eventually, but check it out at the link above.

Naked neighbors

There was an op-ed piece in the LATimes on Sunday by Joel Stein that kinda tickled me. I thought I'd post it here. I've pasted a tidbit below.

If all the cliches are this true, I figured I could get rich optioning the rights to my story about living across the street from the headquarters of the SuicideGirls, a website that shows young, mostly tattooed and pierced women in various states of undress and disaffection. In the last year, the company has expanded into an international corporation with nearly 700 models, a book, a burlesque tour, a DVD and interviews on their website with celebrities such as Woody Allen, Glenn Close, Bill Murray, Martin Amis and Tina Fey. It's like Playboy for people who hate their parents.

Stein goes on to bake a plate of brownies and take them over in a bit of neighborly snooping. It's pretty funny.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Five playwrights on the CTG cuts

In a rare Sunday post, I feel the need to share today's LATimes article in which five playwrights write their thoughts about Center Theater Group head Michael Richie's cutting of minority new play development. The link to the article is here. I'm choosing comments from two of the five playwrights to exerpt from, but all of them are worth reading.

JON ROBIN BAITZ:
My experience is that the world of play readings is a murky purgatory of lowered expectations for emerging writers. After all, plays are solitary and costly business for a writer. Readings give you something to look forward to. Often, the workshops that lead to them are a way of bringing lonely, disenfranchised writers together, offering a kind of cruel watery hope of seeing their work on the main stage while literary staffers churn out grant applications, so as to keep the whole ossified cycle moving forward.

Indeed, play development at the Taper becomes a kind of diplomatic career — it requires caution, patience and the honing of agendas — for a literary manager, just staking out his or her turf can be a full-time battle. So understand what Ritchie is considering redacting: People's Turf. There is a lot of constituency politics involved in a place like the Taper, and as in life, when politics comes first, art comes second…. Is that why labs tend to produce polemics as often as they do plays?

There are important questions to be asked of the Taper literary staff: Do the plays that come out of these labs have significant lives beyond them?


LISA LOOMER:
Now, I have known some (really organized) playwrights to launch groups themselves — and I'm sure these will spring up in place of the Labs. But how about an actual Playwrights' Center like the one they have in Minneapolis? How about a New Dramatists West? How about a space purely devoted to new work, to experimentation, without the pressures of production? Part of that space should be devoted to a cafĂ© or a theater bar — because how do you have a theater community without theater bars?

I like Lisa's style. How can we make something like that happen?

Friday, June 24, 2005

LA Cowboy on The Getty (again)

And so the saga... continues...

Will Munitz complete his sack of the Getty billions?

Will his Plinian ways - finally - fully engulf the Getty Museum?

Or... will the Getty - at last - become Munitz's own personal Herculaneum, entombing him forever, and saving the Getty billions for the citizens of Los Angeles?

Stay tuned!!


A link to the post is here.

the weekend

My friend Gia is in town, so I'm going to be busy busy, but tomorrow night is the closing weekend of The Evidence Room's production of The Blacks, and I'm so there on Saturday night. And Sunday's either Girl on a Bed or last minute cheap tix to see David Byrne and The Arcade Fire at the Bowl. With such a busy social calendar, I don't know how I'm going to have a finished 2nd draft of Customary Monsters to my writer's group for feedback by July 3rd. I just started working on the 2nd act and that mess is ROUGH. Oh well, deadlines are good.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Widgets

This post is for Glenn, and it's from my ibook. He was telling me all about his widgets on his Apple this morning, so I did some browsing on the website and found a widget that lets me post on my blog from it. I don't have to access the site or login to do so. For those of you who don't know, widgets are like mini-short-cut-type windows you can install on your dashboard and have easy access to things like weather, calendars, schedules, dictionaries, etc.

So anyway, here's my very first widget post. I have no idea if it will actually work, but if you're reading this, I guess it did. Thanks Glen!

Tyler Green on Munitz

Tyler Green of Artsjournal puts in his two cents here.

There is much more trouble coming Barry "Koz" Munitz's way. The Munitz/Getty story not only has traction, but it's rolling downhill.... If I'm at the Getty and close to Munitz -- or on the board -- I'm aware that I'm about to get slapped around....

The Getty's Barry Munitz gets his hand slapped

Well good, it looks like that LATimes report about Munitz's decadent, Getty Trust-funded lifestyle isn't going to go unnoticed. A link to my original post, which includes a link to the original LATimes article, is here; today's article is here. I'll paste some of the good parts from today's article below.

Amid national attention to excesses at nonprofits, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has rebuked the board of the J. Paul Getty Trust, saying it has failed to curb Chief Executive Barry Munitz's lavish pay, perks and travel.

"Charities shouldn't be funding their executives' gold-plated lifestyles," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said this week in a statement to The Times. His committee is considering the first major overhaul of laws governing nonprofit organizations in 30 years.

"I'm concerned that the Getty board has been spending more time watching old episodes of 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous' than doing its job of protecting Getty's assets for charitable purposes," he said....

"The board's failure is especially troubling, because the Getty is a private foundation that doesn't rely on outside donations and therefore doesn't need to be responsive to potential donors," Grassley said....

On Wednesday, a panel representing the nation's 1.3 million charitable organizations presented a set of proposed reforms to Grassley's committee. Among the ideas were increased penalties for excessive compensation and tighter restrictions on first class and spousal travel.

"The issue of extensive compensation and lavish travel were a very deep concern to the panel," said Diana Aviv, executive director of the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, a group formed to advise Grassley's committee. "Most people don't want to allow lavish lifestyles to be paid for on the backs of charities."

The Senate Finance Committee, which has proposed even tighter restrictions, is expected to introduce legislation in July....

The Council on Foundations, the industry group that represents nonprofits, initiated a review of the Getty after the Times story appeared — a step the group has taken just half a dozen times in the last five years.

"The article raises some significant questions," said Janne Gallagher, the council's general counsel. "Now we'd like to talk to the Getty about them."

Threepenny Opera at Long Beach Opera

My last post was for Jaime; this one's for Henry, as we were just talking about Alan Rich and this production this morning. I don't have much to add to Rich's commentary on the Long Beach Opera's production of Threepenny Opera a couple of weeks ago (actually, I have loads to add, but I'll restrain myself), except to say that, after seeing that, I wish I'd gone to see it at Open Fist.... The whole column is here; his notes on the Brecht/Weil is below.

The Threepenny Opera, Long Beach’s other June offering, had one genuine police car onstage, to no effect. Christopher Alden, directorial stalwart (along with his brother David) at Long Beach since the company’s founding, came up this time with a lame-brained staging of the Weill-Brecht masterpiece, empty in sight and sound. There were extensive cuts, and songs were assigned to the wrong characters (beginning with the “Mack the Knife” song sung by Macheath himself!) so as to undercut — dramatically and musically — much of the work’s glorious bite.

The right instruments were in the pit, and Mitisek was successful in drawing from them the sounds and rhythms to honor Weill’s 1928 idea of down-and-dirty jazz. But not many people on the stage seemed capable of carrying that concept forward: only Constance Hauman as a blowzy Mrs. Peachum; Suzan Hanson, who delivered Polly’s two great songs; and Mark Bringelson as a deliciously corruptible Tiger Brown. But there was no swash and even less buckle in Hans Tester’s Macheath; the notion of enlisting a male singer (John Altieri) as Jenny (Lotte Lenya’s role in the original) was a touch of imposed cuteness whose benefits escaped me.

The Believer Music Issue

I'm posting this mainly for Jaime because I think she'll be interested if she hasn't seen it yet, but Kelefa Sanneh writes about Believer's upcoming music issue in today's NYTimes with a bit of disdain...whether or not his criticism is valid is beyond me; I'm mainly just irritated that he describes Beck as "puckish" and then barely four paragraphs later describes an essay -- which starts off by suggesting that the earliest recorded songwriting was "etched on clay tablets in western Syria 3,400 years ago" -- by stating that it "begins puckishly." He also uses variations on the word "snark" so much it makes me tired.

And there's that Rick Moody being quoted in the article as well. That guy's everywhere!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More on the new play cuts at CTG

There's an article in today's LATimes by Don Shirley about what's to come. The part I like the best involves how new play development might be coming from other venues in L.A as a result. Check it below.

[Luis] Alfaro's vision of the proposed new play development consortium would not necessarily include ethnic-specific programs. When working with emerging writers, he said, "you don't have to worry about including races or classes because they're already there." He also said he hopes his new group could "find a way to commit to production."

One potential harbor for emerging writers who can no longer find a CTG home is the Ojai Playwrights Conference, said its artistic director, Robert Egan, the former Taper producing director who oversaw the development of many of the now-slashed programs. Ojai presents readings, not productions. The next festival is slated for August.

Supported by $50,000 from the Irvine Foundation, Pasadena Playhouse began a play readings program in January. A former CTG employee, Kappy Kilburn, oversees the program. She said its main objective is "to develop relationships and work with California playwrights of varying ethnicities and backgrounds."

The Geffen Playhouse also is expected to expand its play development programs with the autumn opening of a new, small theater on its Westwood campus. "Whatever we do won't be a response" to the CTG cuts, said Geffen literary manager Amy Levinson. "The most important thing is to talk to L.A. writers and see what they want and need."


Well, Amy, I want and need readings, development opportunities, production, leads, heck, just about anything will do. For starters it'd be nice if local theater companies returned my emails, and query letters, and scripts (especially the scripts -- I can totally send those out again) but I've never tried the Geffen before, so that's not really your fault.

Maybe I should write Amy and tell her what I need. Hmmpf! Maybe I will!

Kevin on the train

I opened up my inbox this morning and had this email from my friend Kevin, who lives in Jersey City and works in NYC:

I ran into (a co-worker) Paul on the train this morning and as I am reading the paper, he leans over and puts his finger on a picture of this guy and says, "Oh, that's my across the hall neighbor, Rick." And it is. . .none other than. . .Rick Moody.

I just read that a little closer and realized they weren't actually sharing a train ride with Rick Moody. Still very cool, but wouldn't that have been fun? Kevin could've asked Moody how he felt about being labeled the worst writer of his generation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The New British Invasion

There was a fun article in the Sunday LATimes about the new crop of British bands. They had an LATimes critic, Richard Cromelin, and a British critic, Phil Sutcliffe, talk about how they're being received in each country and what their thoughts are on each band. It's so great that they both love The Kills as much as I do. Validation feels so good! Futureheads and Bloc Party rate pretty high, too -- rightfully so. It's also kinda fun that they both hate Keane. And regardless of what they rate Kaiser Chiefs, that CD is lame. I tried really hard to like it, but after the first two songs, major nosedive.

I'm pasting their commentary on The Kills below.

The Kills

L.A.: An anomaly in this list, the London duo partakes more of New York's art/punk tradition and a vein of dark, bluesy Americana than any prominent strain of British rock. But Floridian Alison Mosshart and Londoner Jamie Hince (known as VV and Hotel, respectively) have become critical darlings, thanks to the mesmerizing psychodramas of erotic tension and obsession that form their live show. 9

London: Brit bands don't have to begin with "K," but clearly it helps. The only band on this list that actually has two albums out, the Kills preceded Franz Ferdinand on the Domino indie label and are based in London, where the principals met in 1999, but recorded in Chicago. Purveying lyrical imagery as powerfully indefinable as Bloc Party's Kele Okereke's, they hit you where you live more directly than any of their peers. Mosshart's fiercely unyielding voice concentrates the emotion while Hince hammers guitar chords that make your whole body jump. Stunning and, weirdly, little noticed in the U.K. 9

LA Cowboy writes about Getty and Barry Munitz

LA Cowboy posts again on The Getty. There's a lot there, but I liked the following passage the best:

The Getty can learn a lot from the Met, a museum poorer than the Getty by several billions. The Met bought a $40 million Duccio by getting the trustees to pony up some of the money and by using some of its endowment money for the likely last painting by a great master. The Met gets a collection of impressionist paintings far superior to the entire impressionist collection of the Getty for free! How? They court Leonore Annenberg, a very rich collector, electing her to the board, making her a part of a real organization. Who is Ramon C. Cortines? What does he know about art? What art does he own?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Gay Vague

There's something weird going on with Blogger and all the formatting tricks I was experimenting with aren't working. Just imagine the quote towards the end of the post being a slightly different color and an almost imperceptibly different font. See, doesn't that look nice?

This article was in the NYTIMES yesterday, about the blurring of gay/straight lines beyond that of the metrosexual craze of a few months back. I think it's all pretty stupid, but I will doubtless be using the phrase "gay vague" to excess in a relatively short amount of time. It is rather catchy. My favorite quote from the article is below:

Alice Eisenberg, who works the door at several New York gay bars, said her supersensitive gaydar remains infallible. Last weekend she surprised onlookers when she stopped a gay-vague guy, complete with a fedora, in line at the Boys Room, an East Village bar, asking him, "You know this is a gay bar, right?"

"The jeans were right, the loafers were right, and he had a good body," she recalled. "But the shirt was completely untucked, and I think it was Old Navy."

The guy thanked her, turned and fled.

KYLE AGAIN...My biggest question is why any straight guy needs a bar's doorperson to tell him that a watering hole named "Boys Room" might not be the scene he's looking for. Shows what that bitch Alice knows. He probably wasn't straight at all, the poor thing. Instead, I betcha he was a sensitive tenderfoot poking his nicely pedicured toes out the closet door and in the li'l Boys Room for the first time, and that faghag Alice went and scared him off! Shame on you, Alice! Shame! It takes a while to shed the Old Navy from the wardrobe in those fragile early months, alright?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Melancholy Play

Well Ms. Ruhl got quite a nice little production out of The Echo Theatre Company and director Chris Fields. She should be proud. I loved the space, too -- The Hayworth in the McArthur Park area (my hood) -- I just have no idea what it's used for. Offices? Rehearsal space? Anyone know?

I'm loving blogging on this little laptop thingy, by the way. I'm going to be posting non-stop now.... Not really, but when's the last time I ever posted on a Saturday?

I'm blogging

from my new ibook! Thank you no-interest-for-18-months financing!

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Denmark

How desperately do I want 2 see this production?

For its 10th anniversary production, Troubadour has combined the world’s most famous play with the world’s most famous Purple One. No, not Barney. Troubadour Theater Company presents, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with the music of Prince, in the world premiere of HAMLET, THE ARTIST FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE OF DENMARK.

Guess!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Melancholy Play, etc.

I got my tix for Sarah Ruhl's new play for half of what I thought I was going to have to pay, thank goodness. That means I can afford to get a haircut this week. Maybe I can even get the oil in my car changed, too. I couldn't be happier to get five paychecks this month.

You might've noticed I've been fiddling around with formatting on this thing. I tend to paste blocks of text from other articles and I like to try and make clear what's my writing and what's not (my friend Kevin was quite impressed with my Brecht commentary a couple of weeks ago, until he realized it was Steven Leigh Morris's), but I can't seem to find two fonts here that are both distinctive and not hideous. Font color seems the way to go, but I'm still figuring out the best combo. Thanks for your patience, friends. If you've got feedback to offer, it's welcome. Unless it's about the fact that I need a haircut. I know, I know...next week, I promise.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Favorite non sequitur quote from last night's Stephen Malkmus concert

Malkmus: What the hell happened to Quentin Tarantino with that Kill Bill shit?

Wilson: (thunderous applause)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

How to write a NYTimes theater review, starring Charles Isherwood

I don't know Paul Grellong's play, Manuscript -- heck, I don't know Paul Grellong either -- but I read another play of his, Power of Sail, and I thought it was ambitious and smart, so I read Isherwood's review of this new production (directed by Bob Balaban and starring CMU alum Pablo Schreiber) with some interest. The review is a textbook example of how to trash a play by a young playwright with the kind of flair required to grace the Times' inimitable Theater section:

[M]uch that at first seems equally clear proves false by the time Mr. Grellong has turned the last screw in this unlikely and fundamentally uninteresting story. Notwithstanding his cultivated gift for dialogue, Mr. Grellong's inexperience tells in the serious bloat that afflicts every scene. It's not just the manuscript at the center of the plot but the play itself that needs a serious edit. "This night has only just begun," says Elizabeth portentously, just at the point when you're wishing it would end.

OH no, this play sounds bad! But the criticism here is so intuitive and helpful, especially when Isherwood uses pronouns like "you're" that make assumptions about his readers' tolerance for portent. He's probably right; surely I'll hate it too. He goes on:

(Note to costume designer Sara Tosetti: that evening bag is not small enough to justify Elizabeth's leaving hers at home. And do Elizabeth's purple shoes really work with that green dress?)

Personal notes to members of the production that the majority of readers won't appreciate; good tip! Note in the margins: make sure it's queeny and disparaging...we don't want the delicate tastes of our sensitive theater-going public to be assaulted by clashing greens and purples and oversized purses!

Now, for the back-handed compliment that really means "go write for TV, kid; you don't have the chops for the theatah:"

Mr. Grellong, with his sure gift for talk that slips smoothly from the mouths of convincingly drawn 18-year-olds, could find profitable work in Hollywood. ("The O.C." could do worse.)

I've always wanted to know how to do that. Thanks Charles! And we close with a slap on the wrist to the writer that doubles as a winning testament to the critic's irrepressible cleverness:

A final note: The rickety roller-coaster of Mr. Grellong's plot rests on a fallacy. We are expected to believe that a proven charge of literary plagiarism would torpedo an attractive young writer's burgeoning career. As the teenagers used to say, as if! Far from ending a career, the ensuing media scandal would probably secure it. It wouldn't be a case of goodbye, future, but hello, best-selling memoir, and thanks for having me, Charlie Rose.

Class dismissed!

Monday, June 13, 2005

New LA Cowboy post on The Getty

LA Cowboy has another fun post about the LATimes article about Getty chief Barry Munitz. The link is here.


The climate of fear and hatred up on the hill is considerably worse than the Times could ever communicate in cold print.... [W]hen the revolution comes, Mr. Munitz will be lucky to keep his head. There are plenty of peasants out there with pitch forks and torches ready to storm the gates of the Getty.

Friday, June 10, 2005

LA Cowboy about Munitz

I'm stealing Tyler Green's thunder on this one, but LA Cowboy's blog is new to me and looks promising, as well, so I thought I'd add the link. The link to his actual post about Munitz is here. He makes some good points, such as the following:

...[W]hat the Times does not cover, is the tendency of the Getty (i.e., Barry Munitz, since the two are now seemingly virtually the same entity) to fund very expensive projects everywhere in the world but in Los Angeles.

For years Munitz has been quietly cursed by many in the local art world for cutting off resources that could have helped comparatively art poor Los Angeles while he continued to rain down money around the world, making him a jet-set player in both the international art and social worlds.

But far worse than that, is the disgraceful record of art acquisitions under Munitz. As masterpiece after masterpiece - including some of the last examples by some of history's greatest painters have come to the auction block - in almost every case - the Getty has not even been a bidder. And with a finite number of these masterpieces left, the last chance for Los Angeles to have a world class pre-20th Century art museum is about to vanish forever under Munitz's reign.

Getty Chief Barry Munitz in the LA Times

I'm still getting through this article -- it is LONG -- but it is so good and juicy. Here are some details.

On a Wednesday in late March, seven security managers were called into a conference room at the J. Paul Getty Trust's hilltop campus in Brentwood and told that their positions had been eliminated.

It was the first in a series of layoffs and cutbacks that year at the Getty. The trust's endowment had lost more than $1 billion in two years, mostly because of declining stock markets. Despite its reputation for bottomless wealth, the Getty was pinching pennies.

But the cuts didn't apply to everyone.

Days after the security layoffs, trust Chief Executive Barry Munitz drove up the Getty Center's winding driveway in a new Porsche Cayenne. The Getty paid $72,000 for the SUV. When ordering it, Munitz told an aide it should include the "best possible sound system," "biggest possible sunroof" and "power everything…."

Records show that he has employed the Getty's money and reputation to do favors for friends, once using trust letterhead to petition a state agency on behalf of a securities trader — related to his wife by marriage — convicted of fraud in the 1980s.

He has dispatched his office's driver to pick up videotapes of recent episodes of "Law & Order" and "The West Wing," instructed his assistants to express mail him umbrellas when he travels, and asked them to track down items for his wife, Anne T. Munitz.

"ATM saw in Europe but can't find her Tropicana blood orange juice, no pulp, not from concentrate," Munitz said in one dictation. "Can you look on the website and find out where we can get this on a regular basis locally?"

Under the tax code, nonprofits must use their resources for the public good. The Internal Revenue Service considers excessive pay, travel and perks to be "self-dealing": the illegal use of tax-exempt resources for private benefit.

Tyler Green has a nice post on it on his blog here. An exerpt is below.

Barry Munitz did not spend $6,000 of Getty money on a shower curtain. Otherwise this morning's LAT Barry Munitz expose reads like Tyco-on-a-hill, Kozlowski-goes-to-Brentwood. The details -- the chronicling of Munitz' use of Getty funds -- are disturbingly amusing. The LAT piece is a must-read.

If I'm one of Munitz' bosses/trustees, I'm pretty darn embarassed this morning. I'd have found out that Barry Munitz gave an organization a grant so that the organization could give Barry Munitz an award. I'd have found out that I threw away the wrapping paper on a gift Munitz gave me -- and that the wrapping paper could have been more expensive than the bauble. And that the Getty paid for both.

Of course, if I work at the Getty and my budget has been cut, I'd be even more livid. My budget was cut so Barry could kick it with Eli and Dick Riordan in the Mediterranean? And jet around Cuba, arranging chess matches between mayors and Stalinist dictators? C'mon.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Blacks and The Melancholy Play

Steven Leigh Morris does it again with his reviews of these plays. I've yet to see the productions -- they're on the list for the next two weekends -- but I'm particularly impressed with his thoughts on Genet. For example:

Priests show up in many of his plays — hypocrites mostly. Almost everyone’s a hypocrite in Genet’s world, or, to be less judgmental, wrenched by contradictions and psychosexual madness. In The Balcony, set in a brothel, those in power — a bishop, a judge, a general — dream of being humiliated, while the humble lust for power. A revolution unfolds outside as well as inside. A revolution may be caked in blood, but it’s just the turning of a wheel, and history is littered with them. Genet doesn’t call for revolution. He reflects on the psychological architecture and inevitability of it in a post-colonial society.

I read all his big plays for a paper in grad school and as a result dug myself into an existential pit that was as devastating as it was hackneyed. Clawing myself out of that one was so tough I'm still growing the nails back. Thank goodness the plays are so knock-out amazing; it was worth it. I just want to go see The Evidence Room's production of The Blacks now now now and then make them do The Balcony right after and then I'll need a little bit of a nap before The Screens is staged, because you know that one's gonna take some work to get through. Someone do The Screens now; I'm up for it!

I can't wait to see The Melancholy Play, either. And I better; the space The Echo is using for it is extremely close to my apartment.

Screenplay websites

There's an interesting article in the L.A. Times about industry websites for posting scripts and receiving feedback. I'm not sure how helpful they'd actually be, especially if folks already have a writer's group or network for helpful feedback and whatnot, but it might be worth checking out. I looked into Zoetrope.com for their short story posting, which I still might consider participating in, but Script-Swap looks interesting too. Stay away from the pay sites, though. That's just lame.

Does anyone have experience or thoughts about these? Post a comment. I'd be curious.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Brangelina Juggernaut

I've been avoiding blogging about the whole Brangelina/TomKat/...there's a third one, right? Who is it? Anyway, I've resisted blogging on the whole celebrity love/publicity-fest crap because I'd like to think I'm too sophisticated to really care about it all, but you know I follow it...with equal parts disgust and fascination, naturally -- as if the smart-ass Defamer filter makes me all above the fray somehow. I secretly love it all...or love to hate it. Evidence of my devotion to reading updates on all affairs calculated to garner press can be found in my reading of Surfergirl on Slate. It's good, though; I promise. I love what she says in her commentary about Brad's Diane Sawyer interview on Primetime Live last night. I'm posting a little bit of it below. The whole article is here.

Every so often, he took a moment to point out, in essence, that anyone tuning in to the show to learn about his personal life was one sick puppy: "It's a strange focus, isn't it? That my relationships or relationship mishaps takes precedent over something like that [the situation in Africa] … I understand it's about entertainment, but man, it's misguided a bit, isn't it?"

...For weeks, ABC has been dangling snippets of the upcoming interview that promise some kind of revelation or intimacy; when, as instructed, we tune in to watch, we're upbraided for having been interested, then offered a drop of Jolie juice, then scolded again. How can we even think about such things when children are starving in Africa? But look: Brad and Angelina are so hot together! The dialectic carousel goes round and round, all the way to the bank: Brad Pitt is above all of this media frenzy. Brad Pitt has his priorities in order. Therefore, go see Brad Pitt's new movie....

Memo to the celebrity-industrial complex, for whenever you hold your next top-secret cabal in a secure bunker beneath the "Hollywood" sign: It isn't fair. You can't brainwash us with the culture of celebrity, only to scold us for wanting the myth. You can't have your publicity-machine cake—a tasty confection made entirely of money—and eat your moral righteousness too. If the studio wants to use every means necessary to hawk tickets to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, so be it. But I'll take mine without the guilt, and worry about Africa on my own time.

Thank you Surfergirl! Me too! I'm going to read Defamer and watch Access Hollywood, ET, and Exxxxtra! Actually, nah, I'll stick with Defamer...those shows are unwatchable.

Down and Dirty in Deep Waters

This story about Cornerstone Theater's A Long Bridge Over Deep Waters is in today's LA Times. An review of the show in The Times is here. I saw the show last weekend; luckily this doesn't disrupt the badass Hindu play-within-a-play scene which is the show's highlight. Actually, it doesn't look like the show's going to be disrupted at all. It's just kinda sad. I've pasted most of the story below; to summarize, some Muslim cast members withdrew because of a gay Muslim character.

A scene depicting a gay Muslim roiled the currents beneath Cornerstone Theater's latest production, "A Long Bridge Over Deep Waters."The show, which plays Thursday through Sunday at the Ford Amphitheatre, is the climax of a four-year play cycle examining the faiths of 10 local communities: Tongva Indians, Catholic immigrants, Jews, African American Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Bahais, Hindus, Muslims and religious believers among the gay community....

[P]laywright James Still wrote a scene in which a discussion among young women about wearing Muslim head scarves is interrupted when the bruised brother of one of the women arrives. At first he pretends he's the victim of an anti-Muslim hate crime. Later he acknowledges he was targeted because he's gay.

Some Muslims who were advising the show — or in it — objected to the scene and to depicting a gay Muslim.

The first actress playing the sister, Sondos Kholoki, said her casting "forced me to do a lot of research to see what the religion says. I don't see homosexuality as having a part in the religion" — although "homophobia and hate crimes have no room in the religion either." Her unease with the scene prompted her to withdraw from the role, she said, adding that a conflict with an out-of-town family wedding also provided "a nice excuse" for her departure.

Kholoki's husband, Baraa Kahf, also withdrew from a small role. Because of concerns raised by Kholoki, Kahf and other Muslims, a four-hour-plus meeting was held to discuss the scene.

Soon thereafter, the second Muslim actress cast as the sister also withdrew from the cast, reportedly for similar reasons.


Customary Monsters Update

The good news is I finished typing up the 2nd draft of the first act last night. The bad news is it's 70 pages long. Ugh.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Big Cheap Theater / The Wicked Stage

More new links. I've been a member of the Big Cheap Theater Yahoo Group for a few months now, but the whole Yahoo Group thing is new to me, and I'm so used to checking the daily digest of posts that shows up in my inbox every morning; I didn't realize they could all be accessed by non-members via a website. Actually, my friend Henry's tried to explain this to me on more than one occasion, but this computer stuff takes a while to sink in. Anyway, the link is here and I'm adding it to my links section. Any L.A. actors, writers, directors, designers, stage managers, or people just wanting to be in the know should become a member, or at least check the site frequently. I find gigs, auditions, calls for scripts, show discounts, and all kinds of other helpful posts on a regular basis.

Just this morning while reviewing my BCT daily digest I found out about The Wicked Stage, which seems like something I'll be checking daily, as well. I'll add that link too.

Monday, June 06, 2005

And now for some more playwright blogs....

I basically stumbled on these guys while surfing, but I'm enjoying reading their blogs. Check them out if you wish; they're going in my links column.

Venal Scene
'Plaint of the Playwright
Superfluities

Lords Of Dogtown

I followed the advice of the critics on this one, as I had absolutely no interest in it based on the previews, and I'm glad I did; it's loads of fun. Total sports/biopic formula, but nicely executed, looks great, lots of laughs, and Heath Ledger is so good he approaches Joseph Gordon-Levitt goodness. I want him to co-star with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in every movie for the rest of the year, and I want them all to be set in San Francisco in the 70s, or perhaps ancient Greece....

Incidentally, my fellow visitor to Dogtown (JW) compared the movie to Oliver Twist, and it made a certain sense. Stacy is Oliver, Jay is The Artful Dodger, etc., etc. I can't remember all the characters -- it's been ages since I saw Oliver! and you know I never read the book. Don't get me wrong, though; I'm a big Great Expectations fan, and I slogged through Bleak House in college, lest you think I'm some kind of illiterate show queen....

Arts Journal

I'm late to the party on this, but I wanted to point out a new link I'm going to put on the blog; it's to artsjournal.com's theater blog. It's simply a listing of pertinent theater news items, but it's a great resource to stay in the know. I'd originally linked only to artsjournal's Modern Art Notes, by Tyler Green . That's fun too, especially when they're stirring the Getty pot, and he's got something about Frank O'Hara on his most recent post...must investigate. Anyway, AJ's theater blog seems more relevant here. Enjoy.

Ron Rifkin and Jon Robin Baitz in the NYTIMES

Did anyone see this article in the Sunday NY Times? I'm just getting to it this morning, but it's quite interesting. It's a pretty detailed profile of the two actors on the eve of the opening of Baitz's The Paris Letter in New York. While I could probably have done without the image of Ron Rifkin's chest hair being "matted from sobbing," I still enjoyed the read and learned a lot I didn't know. For instance, that whole Joe Mantello/Baitz/Rifkin collective is new to me, and I had no idea Rifkin was on One Day at a Time! I'll paste a little bit of it below.

[E]ver since Mr. Baitz first saw Mr. Rifkin perform onstage, as a ruined Depression-era coat manufacturer in a 1988 production of Arthur Miller's "American Clock" at the Williamstown Theater Festival, he has felt compelled to write ruinous stories for him. "When he entered," Mr. Baitz said, "the temperature changed. What I saw was a man in sorrow and, under that, an incipient joy. An elegant man whose world collapses under him. And in an odd way he reminded me of my father." After the show, when Mr. Baitz eagerly told the actor he'd like to write a play for him, Mr. Rifkin reinforced that impression. "Sure, kid, whatever," he said....

As it turned out, commercial and familial failure and success was also Mr. Rifkin's story. Several years before they met at Williamstown, Mr. Rifkin had all but retired from acting, in disgust. Having worked for years on television (he was Bonnie Franklin's boyfriend on "One Day at a Time," among many similar roles), he had grown tired, as Iva Rifkin put it, of "playing the friend, then the friend of the friend, then the friend of the friend of the friend." He did stage work in Los Angeles, but no one seemed to care or notice. "I was tired of not being taken seriously," he said. "Iva was working as a casting assistant at the time, and when my name came up for a part, she heard someone say about me, 'I thought he only did sitcoms.' I was never on the A, B or C lists." ("Or even the Z lists," Ms. Rifkin added.) "And because we had no children, no responsibilities," he said, "we'd spent everything we'd made. I was worried about money."

AND so he took on a new role. Around 1983, he and his wife (who had left a career as a Broadway dancer to follow her husband to Los Angeles) began to work for his father's coat business, which at the time was called RonLee Apparel. At first, the change - the admission of defeat to a man who had always been horrified by his son's artiness - was unbearable. "I would see him trying to get dressed for work," Ms. Rifkin recalled. "The hair on his chest would be matted from sobbing." But soon he began to enjoy the new challenge. His father's Korean manufacturers asked the couple to develop a more stylish, less expensive line; the resulting sheared-rabbit swing coats, dyed and printed in kicky patterns, were a hit and the company prospered. Mr. Rifkin had restyled himself, too, as a Japanese-suited, ponytailed garmento performing sales presentations for Saks and Bendel as if they were scenes in a Restoration comedy. And after the Koreans bought out RonLee and the younger Rifkin stayed on, sundering the family business, there was some justice when he ended up competing with - and beating - his father at his father's own game.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Stuff Happens at the Taper

I have had an embarrassment of acting riches this week. First Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin, then Stephen Spinella, Julian Sands, and the rest of the splendid cast in David Hare's indictment of the Bush administration's march to war in Iraq, Stuff Happens. This is big, rigorous, intelligent, unapologetically left-wing theater, and while its pleasures are best left to those of us in Mr. Hare's choir eager to be preached to (if I thought the rest of you would stay past intermission, I'd say give it a shot, but let's not kid ourselves), it's a strong piece of theater, regardless. I'd recommend seeing a matinee, though...it's a long night, and you might not be able to get to sleep after. Much to think about. The play reminds me a great deal of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde in the way it uses direct address and published information and statements, but it also takes a lot of dramatic license with speculating about what went on behind those closed doors. Particularly in the presentation of Colin Powell...while I'm sure Gen. Powell's a man of a certain integrity, the "righteous black man" choices in Tyrees Allen's performance might've been laying it on just a tad thick. Still, they make for some powerful scenework and he's just about the most engaging actor in a really strong cast. My other favorite is Spinella, who makes a great foil for Allen's Powell in act two as snotty French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. It was so fun to finally get to see him onstage after hearing so much about him in Angels In America. He doesn't have much to do in act one, but he's all over act two, so be patient and you won't be disappointed.

Steven Leigh Morris' call to action in LA Weekly

An exerpt is below. The full article is here.

While our theater community waits to test the authenticity of Ritchie’s offer to work with and promote local companies on CTG stages (what the Taper’s Blacksmyths Lab director, Brian Freeman, has dubbed “outsourcing”), this is the moment for the community to define itself, and what it stands for.

With no large theater-support institution left to foster emerging artists, the responsibilities for both new play development and community building now fall on the hundred or so small companies that are the soul of theatrical activity here. There will always be somebody’s talent manager subsidizing a stage showcase for a client. This town is full of such productions. They come and they go, and they make no difference.

Our ensemble companies, however, are of a completely different breed, run by smart people for a deeper purpose. Some companies already have development programs in place, but it’s not enough to compensate for the double-loss of A.S.K. Theater Projects and the Taper’s various development programs. We’re less than we were if we can’t channel some of that lost grant money back into the city, back into some kind of umbrella organization that funds readings and workshops that pay actors and directors stipends to help our playwrights and theaters discover what’s being born here.

Our theater is in trouble, and trouble offers the challenge of rising to face it. This is the moment for L.A. Stage Alliance to step up and start coordinating efforts with REDCAT and the Edge of the World Theater Festival. This is the time for a coherent strategy to address problems of affordable space, plus resources to foster emerging artists and sophisticated, sustainable theater. When this community gets on a roll, sparks of its brilliance flash across the city.

This is the moment when we decide whether we’re to move forward or to follow a trajectory of diminishing returns.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

More on Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I was reading Scott Tobias' review of Mysterious Skin at the Onion A.V. Club and I appreciate his last sentence:

Perhaps the consequence of a performance this mesmerizing is that everything else in the movie seems like a distraction.

I'm not sure I agree with it...well, I agree with the mesmerizing part.... Anyway, the whole review is here.

Why I love my neighborhood, Vol. XVIII

I found this today on www.la.com:

Rampart Redux
Now that Rampart cops are (presumably) no longer acting like the bandits and drug dealers, they have time to keep the neighborhood safe…from my 60something Eastern European apartment building manager. A little over a week ago, Rampart's finest handcuffed the wrinkly Romanian and a neighbor with whom she was street-fighting. Apparently the metal was needed after my landlady swung a bag of dog poop, which broke, sending the feces flying. She and the other party have filed complaints, while the rest of us in the 'hood await the turf war brewing over Occidental Boulevard's grassy median. Normally the area is used to house unwanted mattresses and blown-out TVs. But some residents have added unwanted food to the piles in hopes of keeping the neighborhood's feral cats healthy. My landlady claims the food scraps attract rats, and cleans up the food whenever she sees it. That's what she was doing, she says, when the fracas broke out—and the sh** hit the Man.

Screenplay-Selling for Dummies

There's an intriguing post on www.LAist.com about a self-published "how-to-sell-your-screenplay" book by Alan Trustman, author of The Thomas-Crown Affair and Bullitt. I'm pasting a portion of it below. The link is here.

This isn't the usual boring (and bad) advice about registering your priceless prose with the WGA and observing the correct screenplay format, or how you should invest hundreds of dollars in a program to indent your character names five tabs out. This is how to break down the door. Trustman was so persnickety that he got seventeen screenplays ( including Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair) produced even though he refused to move to LA. There is information in this book that you need, aspiring screenwriters, and do not have - such as what days and times to call the studios, and what exactly a "half Nelson" is in terms of forced reads by executives. Trustman is so thorough in describing every way that you can sell your screenplay that his chapter titles go all the way to "The Third Soul Search" and "Plan F." If you do everything he says, to the letter, you'll probably get your screenplay produced regardless of its quality.

I tend not to trust this kinda stuff too much, but it does sound interesting. Now, could somebody please write a screenplay for me so I can use his tricks to get my 7-figure deal?

Mysterious Skin

While I'm not convinced it's one of the best movies of the year, as A.O. Scott seems to be, it's pretty damn good (and heck, what do I know...my favorite movie so far this year is Kung-Fu Hustle). Saw this on Sunday at your one-stop shop for movies about gay hustlers, the lovely Sunset 5, and I have been thinking about it ever since. There were moments where I wanted more...character, detail, explanation, specificity...but they tended to involve the peripheral characters, and because the two parallel narratives are so focused and (mostly) rooted in the narrators' points-of-view, it's easy to understand why some roles might be a little more sketched in than others. And I still want to know why we (and they) had to see that friggin' spaceship. Overall, though, it's a powerful, resonant character-study that has sat quite well with me. Maybe by the end of the week I'll agree with A.O. Scott.

Even if I don't, the movie is worth the price of admission if only for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The cast is uniformly good, and it's so nice to see Elizabeth Shue again...she's so pretty and endearing even if you want to smack her character around for being so stupid. But Joseph Gordon-Levitt is stunning, gorgeous, brilliant, heartbreaking, funny and light in all the right places, never overwrought (and with this script, he sure could've been), and just out-and-out wonderful. Did I mention I couldn't take my eyes off of him because he's so good and I want him to be in every other movie that comes out this year? So good so good so good so good good GOOD