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Film and the Arts

An Idle Evening with Eric

The brilliant comedian, Eric Idle, of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, appeared—with the superb comic actor, David Hyde Pierce—on the evening of Wednesday, October 3rd, at Symphony Space, to discuss his new memoir, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography. (Pierce commented that the book, like Eric Idle, came out the day before, to the latter’s amusement.) Pierce had played Idle’s character of Brave Sir Robin (“he bravely ran away”) from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the hit Broadway adaptation, Spamalot, and Idle had appeared once in the enormously popular television series, Frasier, which co-starred Pierce and secured his fame.
Idle began by singing a song condemning “selfies” and then read the chapter, “Crucifixion”, from his book, in which we learned that in the celebrated final scene of The Life of Brian, when Idle and Graham Chapman were hanging from crosses, they had their pants around their ankles. Idle commented that coincidentally, he was born on his birthday and complained about ten years at an English public school, remarking “you get less time for murder.”
At Cambridge University in 1963, Idle acted in a comic sketch written by John Cleese. He talked about the liberating effect of seeing Beyond the Fringe in London’s West End and then sang “The Philosophers Song” from Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl.
He explained that Holy Grail was largely financed by rock bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, who were Python fans. George Harrison mortgaged his home to fund the production of Brian—Idle later sang a pirate song that he wrote with the ex-Beatle—and Elvis Presley was also an ardent admirer of the troupe. For Monty Python and the Meaning of Life, the artists didn’t show the studio a script but only a bawdy poem describing the film.
Michael Palin told Idle’s second wife to act surprised on his wedding night, which he said was the best piece of advice he’d ever received. He then sang “Sit on My Face and Tell Me That You Love Me” which he said he wanted sung at his funeral. He also said he devoted a chapter to Robin Williams with whom he was close friends since the 1980s. The program concluded with Idle performing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, the closing song from Brian; he received a standing ovation.

A Great Cinema Center Reopens with Revitalized Programming

"NICO, 1988 A Tribute"

Film Forum Re-opening
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
209 W Houston St
New York, NY 10014

When one of New York City’s most venerable film institutions ceases operations — if only temporarily — it feels like a loss. So the limited closure of the Film Forum was painful in light of the recent shuttering of the great upper west side arthouse center, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, and the death of its founder Dan Talbot. But good news arrived with the announcement that on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018, the Film Forum, such a major cinema center for both independent premieres and classic repertory revivals, reopens with an exciting raft of new films, conceptual programs, and various series.

Last spring, the Soho-based building had its doors closed so that longtime Film Forum Director Karen Cooper and of Film Forum’s Board Chairman Alan Klein could initiate construction of a new fourth screen and fully renovate the entire theater which had been originally built in 1990. These new four cinemas are outfitted with nearly 500 seats, all made by Spain’s Figueras company. There will be greater leg room and better sight lines due to seat reconfiguration and stadium-style steps. A 10’ x 5’ digital screen above the corridor leading to the theaters will be both used for graphic displays and specially commissioned “lobby movies” — silent or two to four-minute shorts by selected filmmakers. 

Film Forum will maintain its two distinct programming profiles, with premieres selected by Cooper and Mike Maggiore and classics selected by veteran Repertory Programming Director Bruce Goldstein (assisted by Elspeth Carroll). With the increased screens, Film Forum expands its selections by one-third. and its popular Film Forum Jr. series — classics for kids and families — will double, playing both Saturday and Sunday matinees beginning on September 8 and 9 with Walt Disney’s 1940 animated classic, “Pinocchio.” 

As the press release notes, "The programmers will continue to produce detailed calendars to announce limited engagements, but the remaining two screens will make possible a greater number of commitments to longer running engagements and for hold-overs of more popular titles already on screen."

Opening on the four screens beginning Wednesday, August 1st, will be:

  • NICO, 1988 A Tribute
    Directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli
    This much anticipated biopic covers the tumultuous last years in the life and career of this titular Velvet Underground singer and Warhol muse with a critically acclaimed performance by Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, who does her own singing in the film.

  • No Date, No Signature
    Directed by Vahid Jalilvand
    This psychological thriller set in modern Iran won two prizes at the 2017 Venice Film Festival.

  • The Atomic Cafe
    Directed by Kevin Rafferty, Jane Loader & Pierce Rafferty
    The cult classic documentary is a masterful collage of period footage from the new atomic age, which originally premiered at Film Forum in 1982, in a new 4K restoration.

  • The Smallest Show On Earth
    Directed by Basil Dearden
    Starring Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford, this special screening offers a viewing of this rare 1957 British comedy about a young couple who inherits a flea-pit of a cinema.

  • Show People
    Directed by King Vidor
    This unique film is the great director’s 1928 paean to Hollywood moviemaking, starring Marion Davies; the screening will have live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner.

There will also be the first complete retrospective of French master Jacques Becker. This will include his “Casque D’or,” “Le Trou” and the US theatrical premiere of "Rendezvous In July" — a new 4K restoration, as well as many others imported from Europe for the festival.

As Cooper has said in their official announcement, “We are thrilled to re-open our cinema to audiences with movies both new and old: a terrific selection drawn from around the world (Iran, Italy, England, France), plus a seminal American independent documentary. We will continue to do what we’ve done best for nearly 50 years: premiering ground-breaking titles and uncovering the best in classic cinema.”

First Annual Chita Rivera Awards Honoring Dance and Dancers

Photographs by: Christopher Duggan

The first annual Chita Rivera Awards, named in honor of 10-time Tony nominee and two-time winner Chita Rivera, who rose from the gypsy ensemble to stardom and one of theater’s most loved personalties, celebrated dance and choreographic excellence. They were hosted by Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth at the Hirschfeld Theatre.

Tommy Tune was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award; Diane Paulus with the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theater as Director; and entrepreneur Antonio Vendome with the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Humanity.

Among theater notables making appearances were tony nominee Melissa Errico, Nikki M. James, Tony honoree Baayork Lee, veteran dancer Carmen de Lavaliade, Tony nominee Robert Fairchild, Tony winner and A Chorus Line nominee Priscilla Lopez, Tony winner Donna McKechnie, Chris Noth, Tony honoree and two-time nominee David Hyde Pierce, Tony nominee Lee Roy Reams, Tony nominee Sergio Trujillo, Tony-nominee Tony Yazback, four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks, and four-time Tony nominee and Tony winner Karen Ziemba.

There were dance tributes to Rivera from the New York City Ballet, performing “America” from 1957’s West Side Story, her third original Broadway role and the one that first put her on the map, as the fiery Anita; American Dance Machine for the 21st Centrury; the Teen Company; and performances by the casts of A Bronx Tale, Tony-nominated Come from Away, and the recent Sweet Charity revival.

ChitasRFairchildMMooreLaLaLandNominators considered outstanding choreography, featured dancers and ensemble in shows on Broadway and Off Broadway, as well as, outstanding choreography in film, that opened in the 2016-2017 season. Nominations were determined by the designated nominating committees.

The Chitas were directed by four-time Tony- nominee Randy Skinner and produced by American Dance Machine for the 21st Century (ADM21), producing artistic director, Nikki Feirt Atkins, in association with Patricia Watt. For more information, visit

  • The Chita Rivera Awards/Nominations and Winners

Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show
* Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Josh Bergasse, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Warren Carlyle, Hello Dolly!
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day
Kelly Devine, Come from Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn
Sergio Trujillo, A Bronx Tale

ChitasDPaulusEnsemble, Broadway Show
A Bronx Tale
Come from Away
Hello Dolly!
Holiday Inn
* Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

 Male Dancer, Broadway Show
* Corbin Bleu, Holiday Inn
John Bolton, Anastasia
Max Clayton, Bandstand
Tyler Hanes, Cats
Ryan Kasprzak, Bandstand
Ricky Ubeda, Cats

Female Dancer, Broadway Show
Andrea Dotto, Bandstand
Lora Lee Gayer, Holiday Inn
Eloise Kropp, Cats
Georgina Pazcoguin, Cats
Emma Pfaeffle, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
* Megan Sikora, Holiday Inn
Christine Cornish Smith, Cats
Jaime Verazin, Bandstand



Choreography, Off-Broadway Show
* Joshua Bergasse, Sweet Charity
David Dorfman, Indecent
Merete Muenter, The Golden Bride
David Neumann, The Total Bent
Misha Shields, Baghdaddy

Female Dancer, Off-Broadway Show
Yesenia Ayala, Sweet Charity
Asmeret Ghebremichael, Sweet Charity
Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Sweet Charity
Emily Padgett, Sweet Charity
* Lyrica Woodruff, Finian's Rainbow

Male Dancer, Off-Broadway Show
Ato Blankson-Wood, The Total Bent
* Brandon Espinoza, Baghdaddy
Curtis Wiley, The Total Bent
Cody Williams, Sweet Charity
Blake Zolfo, Kid Victory

  • Choreography in Film

Anthony Van Laast, Beauty and the Beast
Mandy Moore, La La Land
* Javier de Frutos, London Road
Danielle Flora, Tian Wang, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Susan Glatzer, director, Alive and Kicking
Steven Cantor, director, Dancer
Tomer Heymann, director, Mr. Gaga
*Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger, directors, Restless Creature

"Groundhog Day"’s Award Winning Andy Karl Feted with Wall of Fame Portrait


Olivier-winning Best Musical (West End) and Tony-nominated Best Musical Groundhog Day star, Olivier winning and three-time Tony nominee Andy Karl was feted Thursday, August 17 with a reception and Dan May oil portrait for Tony’s di Napoli Wall of Fame. Event producer was Valerie Smaldone.

Karl’s portrait is number 51 in a tradition that began in 2001 when Mamma Mia! cast members Carolee Carmello, Gina Ferrall, and Judy McLane were honored. But it was 2003 when the restaurant’s walls began getting really framed, with former Napoli bartender May portraits of Antonio Bandaras, Jeff Goldblum, Hugh Jackman, Chita Rivera, composer Stephen Schwartz, and Brooke Shields.

Groundhog Day won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The production, with book by Danny Rubin, who wrote the screenplay, and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin (Matilda), is based on the 1993 film of the same name about a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman, suddenly cursed to relive the same day over and over.

AKarlUnveilingCompositeKarl (The Mystery of Edwin Drood [revival], Rocky, On the Twentieth Century [revival], Legally Blonde, 9 to 5, Jersey Boys, Altar Boys, Wicked, Saturday Night Fever) received his third Tony nod for his portrayal of Phil Connors, the role he created in the London world premiere. . Many will remember Karl as Sergeant Mike Dodds on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Season 17).

Bill Murray, a huge fan of Karl and the musical, originated the role onscreen. The 1993 film was voted “one of the 10-best comedies of all time” in a Total Film poll.

At the unveiling, Karl stated, “This has been one of the best experiences of my career. I’ve been surrounded by the great people in our cast, who have made this journey such a job.”

He invited co-star Barrett Doss and his 22 plus cast members to join him in a photo opt.

Then, host, di Napoli GM Bruce Dimpflmaier, rolled out a huge birthday cake for a surprise celebration in advance of Karl’s August 28 birthday.

Karl signed poster of the portrait to be auctioned for the outreach programs of BC/EFA. Legally Bound, the live album which captures the December 2016 concert at Feinstein’s/ 54 by Karl and wife, Tony-nominee Orfeh [who was framed on the Wall of Fame in 2007], has just been released on Broadway Records.

The occasion of the portrait unveiling was bittersweet since it had just been announced Groundhog Day will end its run September 17 at the August Wilson Theatre. Plans are far a national tour and open-ended West End production.

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