James Belushi

CORNY HILL – We went to see the Sunday matinee revival of Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday and, were thrilled by this latest production starring TV's James Belushi; NY-actor Robert Sean Leonard; and newcomer Nina Arianda, who is nothing short of sensational. Every theatergoer worth their salt must know well the back story of this somewhat-dated, yet surprisingly contemporary tale of a Chicago-would be/could be mobster Harry Brock arriving in Washington 1946 for a new round of wheeling and dealing with several politicians, including one Senator Norval Hughes. The original film of it appeared in 1950, directed by George Cukor and starred Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, and William Holden (special note:Don Johnson and then-wife Melanie Griffith also did a version of the film in 1993, directed by Luis Mandoki). Belushi, who we've loved this past TV season on The Defenders (with Jerry O'Connell), essays the role of Brock with a sumptuous joy and bravado. Belushi was on one of the chat shows last week and said that even though the dialogue proved to be a bit harder to learn that he first thought, his background more than prepared him for the ride with some bumps along the way. Truth be told, he's got a tremendous, natural gift for spontaneity … as did his brother John back in the day (oh, those night at the Blues Brothers Bar!). When you look at his resume, Jim's had some absolutely delicious movie roles, including Return To Me; About Last Night; Thief; K-9; Curley Sue; and,last year's terrific turn in Roman Polanski's Ghost Writer. As with so many comedic personalities, he's an exceptionally fine dramatic actor. Sure, his role here is mostly bluster and bravado (more along the lines of his character on TV's According To Jim) but, he carries it off terrifically well. Leonard, who currently appears on TV's House, is spot on terrific as Paul Verrall, the writer cum sophisticate that Brock hires to teach his g/f Billie, proper etiquette. Leonard, who was born in New Jersey, first burst onto the entertainment scene with his terrific work in the film Dead Poets Society, and later films like The Last Days of Disco, Swing Kids, and The Age of Innocence. The real find here is Nina Arianda as Billie. Her timing is just excellent and in many ways carries the whole show, as her story emerges as the true one here. She immediately reminded me of an early Kristin Chenoweth … she's that good! She's been more of a film actress of late, with roles in the forthcoming movie Tower Heist; Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris;Tower Heist; and currently in Win Win with Paul Giamatti.. It was nice to have an afternoon free of any angst … really enjoyable. Loved the big Belushi. Very nice indeed.


Skeet Ulrich

L.O.L.A. RE-DEUX – If you don't succeed at first … yeah, yeah, yeah. Tonight's Law And Order: L.A. re-launches again! The so-called left coast version of the show originally launched last September with the terrific Skeet Ulrich and the tremendous Alfred Molina began with a terrific promotional buildup, but ultimately somewhat lackluster scripts. The writing was pretty spotty, but the main complaint was that it was trying too hard to shed many of the trademark L&O staples … like the theme song, and as such, the quality suffered greatly. They had an episode about the recent Tiger Woods scandal and it was just too laughable. And, how could you not use that theme song? Well, L&O creator (and, uber-millionaire) Dick Wolff listened and tonight, gets the all-too-rare opportunity to re-launch the franchise. Ulrich's character gets offed; and, Molina's character goes from the main prosecutor to detective, essentially replacing Ulrich and Alana de la Garza returns to the franchise in her role of ADA Connie Rubirosa, who first appeared as the character on the original L&O mothership. Her return came as a surprise to the vast L&O viewership, this writer included. I would almost have bet money that Sam Waterston would have returned as Jack McCoy. Interestingly, the promos for tonight's game-changing show have been huge and one spot in particular, has Molina's character explaining his sudden character reversal straight to the viewer onscreen. First, it goes on far too long and in my opinion, if you weren't a viewing the show already, you wouldn't even know what he's talking about because his explanation is just too long-winded. Hey, maybe I'm wrong, we'll see tonight. The show also features Terence Howard, who I've always enjoyed. Originally, it was one show with him and one with Molina; but, having them both in every show has just got to be a plus. Fans will watch … but, the jury remains out … dum dum!


Reese Witherspoon

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS – Just a quick note: The commercials and trailers of the forthcoming Water For Elephants are nothing short of visually and aurally terrific. You've got one-part Reese Witherspoon; one-part Robert Pattinson; and, one-part Christoph Waltz, paired with music from Florence & The Machine … just awesome! Based on these trailers, it looks great! Let's hope for this one!


Sidney Lumet

RIP SIDNEY LUMET – Quintessential NY-director Sidney Lumet, of such classics as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network, died this past Saturday of lymphoma and his home. He was 86. Born is Philadelphia, Lumet grew up in New York and shoot most of his movies in his beloved city. He started off in TV, making a feature debut with the 1957 courtroom drama 12 Angry Men starring Henry Fonda, which earned him the first of five Oscar nominations. His last film as 2007's Before The Devil Knows You're Dead. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary Oscar. We know his daughter Jenny and our thoughts are with her and her family. An iconoclastic individual of the highest order, Sidney will be greatly missed. We'll always admire his 1989 comedy/drama Family Business which had the most-unusual cast of Sean Connery, Matthew Broderick, and Dustin Hoffman. It was full of charm and remains an undiscovered (by the masses) gem. RIP Sidney.


Helen Mirren

MIRREN FANCIES A QUEEN – I'm still wondering exactly what Dame Helen's reason for being on this weekend's SNL. The skits were really poor, and, the best line was in her monologue: 'They wanted to give the best lines to a Queen … but, they had one on last week ... Elton John!' That's the best they can do. Awful!

Photos By: Walter McBride/RD/Orchon/Kabik/Retna