The Business of Show
The Town Hall Broadway cabaret series continued last night with Betty Buckley. L was there with guest N (there are 4 different N's mentioned recently, and I've made no attempt to differentiate), and they happened to be sitting in front of me in the right balcony so we could schmooze. The men next to me also joined the conversation as we talked about what we had seen in the past (L saw Janis! N saw Judy! I saw Barbra in "Funny Girl"!) and present (N had just come from "La Bete" and sees just about everything on Broadway). Earlier, in the ladies' room, a woman said she'd left Friday's concert at intermission so we weren't the only ones underwhelmed (to be fair, the second half seemed stronger).
Betty Buckley swept onto the stage, looking smart in a flowy pants outfit, and sang "It Might As Well Be Spring" (ooh, that was in "Wordplay" - everything eventually relates to "Wordplay"). She talked about cabaret vs. Broadway (the divisions are murky) and sang some of both, from "Annie Get Your Gun" to Mary Chapin Carpenter. She was very good, but this is not really my kind of music. Why then, you ask, am I going to these concerts? Because they're there!
Buckley was also in "White's Lies" at New World Stages last spring, but was not there the day I saw it. The clueless audience applauded as the understudy (Jana Robbins) took the stage. Robbins was fine, but the play - about a womanizer who gets into farcical situations - was not so hot. I saw it in previews, so did not see the almost uniformly bad reviews
. Another big name, Peter Scolari, was also not there at my performance.
Scolari was present for "It Must Be Him" at Playwright's Horizons last month, which also did not fare well with reviewers
. This showbiz tale of a Hollywood TV comedy writer who's seen better days features an out-of-the-blue S&M number that made me go "Huh?"
I may be better off reading about evil Hollywood than seeing plays about it. I loved these 3 novels:
"Bought" by Anna David - Gossip writer Emma explores the dark side (is there any other?) of LA when she decides to write about Jessica, the modern version of a prostitute. Well-educated, manipulative, and self-serving, Jessica sucks Emma (and the reader) into her world.
"Seeing Stars" by Diane Hammond - Every pilot season, child actors and their parents descend on Hollywood with big dreams. There to greet them are managers, agents and coaches, as well as their competition. The author of this novel about hopeful showbiz kids seems to know the territory well. Fascinating.
"Beverly Hills Adjacent" by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jessica Hendra - Evil backstabbers, evil preschool moms, evil everyone - this is a great novel of evil Hollywood. Character actor Mitch struggles to keep afloat (one more failed show and his management may drop him), while his college professor wife June drifts into an affair with producer Rich. These people are nasty, superficial, and hilarious to read about.
I also read 2 showbiz bios:
"Barbra: The Way She Is" by Christopher Andersen - Although her talent is unquestioned, Barbra Streisand does not come off well in Andersen's book. According to this account, Barbra had an abundance of diva attitude even as an unknown, and continued to make colleagues' lives miserable wherever she went (if she wasn't having affairs with them). I will focus on the talent and not the person (if indeed all this dirt is even true).
"Rock Hudson: His Story" by Rock Hudson and Sara Davidson - Shortly before his death from AIDS, Rock Hudson allowed Davidson access to him and his inner circle, resulting in this well-researched (auto)biography. Hudson comes off as a generous, humorous talent, who stayed in the closet to protect his image although his private life was no secret to his close friends.