Liza Minnelli

BRAND NEW ARTHUR – We went to see the new, re-booted Arthur last night and despite 14 reviews current posted to, with only one being positive, we rather enjoyed it. I was a huge fan of the original movie in 1981, starring the sublime Dudley Moore, John Gieguld, Liza Minnelli, and Jill Eikenberry; mostly because of the transcendent charm of Moore. The script, by Steve Gordon, was nothing short of brilliant; crisp, funny, and truly original. The movie was huge and catapulted Moore to superstardom, first begun with his role in Blake Edwards’ 10 in 1979. Though they attempted a sequel several years later (Arthur 2: On The Rocks), it flopped, mostly because Gordon, who had tragically died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 44, did not write the script and therefore, none of the charm of the original was present. It basically died on the vine. My first surprise on the re-boot was about how SO much of the original dialogue (note-for-note; word-for-word) has been used; at first I was pleased, but then noticed how some of it was rather dated. In 1981, there were really no computers or cell phones and the dialogue that worked so brilliantly back then … falls somewhat short now. The plot is essentially the same, just properly updated. The ultimate wedding scene in the final third of the movie takes place at the same church location; and, Arthur’s top hat, used so brilliantly in the original is here too, along for the ride. Luis Guzman as the long-suffering Bitterman is just brilliant here, as is Helen Mirren, essaying the John Gielgud role. I've always liked her, even though every time I see her I think of her role in The Queen. She has just exceptional timing and her work with Brand is just exceptional. Now, we come to Brand. I've grown to quite like him (cemented with his role as the host of last December’s David Lynch event bordering on the brilliant), though his bold, far-reaching comedy is sometimes way over the top. Moore was more diminutive, where Brand is tall and looks like he does not need a full time minder. In one of the last scenes, he is wearing nothing more than his under shorts and the scene and trick (if you can call it that) seems to go on way too long. Maybe that’s because the director this time around is Jason Winer, from TV’s Modern Family. His take is a full-on one, 100% romp that sometimes borders on exhaustion. I also always loved the theme song for the movie (“Arthur’s Theme-The Best That You Can Do”), so beautifully performed by Christopher Cross in the original; It was penned by Carole Bayer Sager; Burt Bachrach; Peter Allen; and Cross. There’s the obvious update here; again almost lacking any charm of the original, but a nice touch nonetheless. Also, Nick Nolte has the role of the father of the girl Arthur is pressured to marry, Susan Johnson. It’s always great to see the actor, but here’s he’s bulked up almost to unrecognizable proportions. It’s an interesting casting choice.

The innocent charm exhibited in the original is almost nowhere to be found here. Comedy re-makes are always dicey; witness’ the remake of The Heartbreat Kid (2007) … with Ben Stiller of all people. A good cable movie for sure.


Meredith Viera

YESTERDAY AT TODAY – In a year, the lineup at NBC’s Today Show could look markedly different than they do right now. With Meredith Viera eyeing an exit as early as this September, reports loom large this morning that Matt Lauer will also exit the show; when his contract is up in 20 months. With Katie Couric leaving; Viera and Lauer; Regis out this year … TV will indeed look somewhat different. Sure, the recent purchase of NBC by Comcast may have something to do with it (cutting costs), but, these are indeed BIG names for anyone to lose; marquee names indeed! We know Matt and it is indeed hard to believe he’s been at that post for 17 years, but everything does come to an end in TV. He’s a good guy, family-oriented, and we know he'll move on to something even better. One report earlier had him and Couric doing an afternoon talk show. Wild! But, could be fun-theirs was a chemistry only made in heaven.


David Garrison

GARRISON DOES DOUBLE DUTY – You’ve seen actor David Garrison in everything from his sublime portrayal of Steve Rhoades in Married With Children; to his numerous appearances on Law And Order; Torch Song Trilogy; Titanic; and, as the Wizard in Wicked. Now, he’s doing double-duty on the boards: he’s the voice of the announcer on That Championship Season and, at the same time, starring in the Off Broadway production of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark; from Pulitzer prize winning author Lyn Nottage. Garrison is a staggeringly good actor; versatile, savvy, and terrifically talented. In fact, we'd love to see him on The Good Wife. His co-star in Stark is the beautiful Sanaa Latham. According to the production notes: “The play is a 70-year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a head-strong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career. When circumstances collide and both women land roles in the same Southern epic, the story behind the cameras leaves Vera with a surprising and controversial legacy scholars will debate for years to come.” It just began; check for tickets here.


YO ADRIAN – Let me tip you off to a great band we just came across via PR-pasha David Salidor , the Adrian Niles Band. The band has issued six CDs and their latest Roll & Move is a blistering collection of blues-driven; eclectic rhythms and terrific lyrics. The band will be performing with another big favorite of ours, Dave Mason, May 21, at the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse in Burgettstown, P.A. Check them out!