Harry Belafonte

SING YOUR SONG --- I had the pleasure of attending last Friday's Tribeca Film Festival screening of the HBO documentary on singer/activist/actor Harry Belafonte entitled Sing Your Song. I've been aware of him since his initial performances of such shows as Ed Sullivan and The Dinah Shore Show and was struck, as was everyone else by his captivating persona as a total entertainer with one, truly unique voice, highlighted perhaps best by his recording and performance of The Banana Boat Song, from which the phrase Day O came from. What I wasn't really a aware of was his early relationship with the burgeoning theater-movement with the likes of Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur, Sidney Poitier, and Tony Curtis in the Dramatic Workshop of the New School of Social Research. Paralleling his pursuits in the theater was his love of jazz. His album Calypso (1956) made him the first artist in industry history to sell more than 1 million units. His first Broadway appearance, in Almanac, earned him a Tony Award, and he became the first black producer in TV and won an Emmy for the show An Evening with Belafonte. As a humanitarian, he forged a deep and lasting relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; guided and directed USA for Africa which resulted in the all-star recording of We Are The World with the likes of Michael Jackson; Diana Ross; Paul Simon; Lionel Richie; Hall and Oates; and, Quincy Jones, among others. He also attended the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington with Poitier and Charlton Heston. With all this success, Belafonte's growing activism and his own personal struggles with racism and prejudice presented him with a somewhat conflicted career. There are many who will say his growing activism somewhat stilted his career and kept him from reaching an even greater audience and even greater success; although it could be suggested that his decision towards activism did get him that bigger audience after all. However, in a terrific post-screening conversation with Belafonte himself, and conducted by the wonderful Tavis Smiley from PBS, he admitted that he pursued this course because he felt if he didn't, he'd miss a unique opportunity and live to regret it. When Smiley asked if he or the country had blinked, as many of the problems he attacked still existed to a degree today, he just smiled and said he felt that we had all blinkered. I was amazed at his connections with the Kennedys and Robert in particular. Yes, he did reach some stellar high in terms of a career, you have to admire his efforts … on so many fronts. He's received the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize; the Kennedy Center Honor; the first Nelson Mandela Courage awards, the 1994 National Media of Arts, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He performed sell-out concerts globally through the 1950's to the 2000's. Lovingly directed by Susanne Rostock (and produced by Spiderman-producer Michael Cohl) it is an extraordinary piece of work; just sensational. Belafonte said that they had literally 800 hours of film to edit down to this two-hour presentation. A staggering amount of film shot, but I bet most of all it was terrific. You know, you watch this film on Belafonte and you do wish you had lived your life more like he did; and, maybe that's the message of it. Seen at the screening was Bobby-producer Edward Bass; former Governor Mario Cuomo; actor Griffin Dunne; Coati Mundi from the legendary group Kid Creole And The Coconuts; pr-gurus Ken Sunshine and David Salidor. Thanks to Tribeca's Craig Hatkoff for making this screening happen. Look for it to be shown shortly on HBO; another excellent addition to their cannon of fine work. We loved it!


Kathryn Erbe

INTENT GOOD --- Last night was the return of Law And Order: Criminal Intent with Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe, who were unceremoniously let go from the show almost a year ago. I well recall the stunned reactions from the media and fan base alike: How could they let these two fine actors go who so perfectly crafted the two leads. I mean, D'Onofrio, who had appeared for years in good-to-middling productions and yes, even a Miami Vice episode years back, totally found his niche with this character. His Detective Robert Goren is one strange bird; but, relentlessly resourceful and a keen observer of almost everything. Erbe on the other hand, was more of as foil for Goren, but she does it just brilliantly and in several episodes wound around her passed-husband, who was also a cop, just staggeringly good. She's a very undervalued actor in my opinion; she's extraordinary. Of course, much credit must go to producer/writer Warren Leight, who for years drove the show to brilliant heights; and, was directly responsible for introducing a brother to Goren-character, who would later unwrap a distinctly, dark story to Goren's background. As he exited, the show's future was in question. As last night's episode played out, “Rispetto,” it showed the two main characters firmly back in the fold with almost no mention of their travails of the last year. In fact, if you didn't listen very closely, as I did, the only reference was an officer saying in the opening segment, right before that hallowed theme song, “Welcome back Detectives.” The show is now driven by one Chris Brancato, who has served in similar positions for the other Law & Order shows. He's got big shoes to fill and I am hoping for the best. The show's plot wasn't anything special; guest Jay Mohr, as an addictive-ridden fashion designer (is there really any other kind!) but, it did provide some interesting moments for the actor as well as a staggeringly good final climax. NY-actor Jay O. Sanders is the new Captain … and, again no mention was made of his new role either. A seamless transition for sure: make too much out of what happened and it would certainly bog down the story. D'Onofrio is an amazingly creative and instinctive actor. Say what you will; but, this is one terrific role for him. There was no question in anyone's mind that he'd be back. Onward!


THE WEDDING --- Did I watch the Royal Wedding last Friday? How could I not? 'llI just admit now that I didn't rise at 4:30AM for the official start time, bur rather around 6:30AM when the actual ceremony began. Did I think there was too much made of it? Maybe … but, across the pond, as it were, there's always been much more reverence; pomp and circumstance and all that. For one day at least, all of the U. K. -and, the world for that matter- could put aside their anguished concerns and come together for this ceremony. In watching the ceremony I was struck by two things: Just how terrific and sharp the televised scenes were; high resolution at it's best, and, two: the swooping shots from high about Westminster Abbey were truly remarkable. Everyone essentially had the same feed; the same pictures … but, they were somewhat break taking.

For me, the scene of the newlyweds driving in Prince Charles' Prince' vintage Aston Martin were just epic. My other major observation during the whole event, was how we here in the U.S. really don't have any thing comparable. I mean, we used too … but, no more. Always good to see Elton John and partner David Furnish; David and Victoria Beckham ... but, that seemed to be from a celebrity point of view. Jolly good time indeed!


Jason Patric

WE ALL THE CHAMPIONS – Last week we finally had the opportunity to check out The Championship Season; with the great Brain Cox; Kiefer Sutherland; Chris Noth; Jim Gaffigan; and the author's son (Jason Miller) Jason Patric. The scene is set is 1972, when the three members of a basketball team -reunite with their coach to relive their last winning game. Miller wrote and directed a film adaption of the play that was released in 1982. Robert Mitchum starred as Coach; Stacy Keach; Martin Sheen and Bruce Dern were the other players. I remember first seeing this and was struck by how brutal the dialogue was and how good these actors were. In 1999, Miller wrote another screenplay for TV that was directed by Paul Sorvino, who also played the Coach. The remake also starred Vincent D'Onofrio, Tony Shaloub, and Gary Sinese. The thing with this play is that each of the characters has layers of deceit, frustration, and angst, among them. As they drink (to excess for sure) they become staggeringly clear and often what they think, comes right out. Noth in particular, as the somewhat shady business-man Phil Romano, has dozens of secrets including a one-off affair with George Sikowski's wife (Gaffigan). Sutherland is just terrific is the school principal James Daley, full of inspiration and hopes, but lacking the wherewithal to pull it out. As a fan of his 24, we immediately saw just how different this role is, and he probably loves doing it. A perfect change of pace for the very-able actor. Cox, who we've loved for years is the standout as Coach. All bluster, yet he recognizes just how lost these three are without him; and, just maybe he without them. Amazingly good work here. Patric at first is rather underwhelming, but you slowly but surely recognize just how right he is in his pronouncements. A slow-burn for sure. And, Gaffigan, who we've been a fan of for years, mostly for his comedic abilities, is spot-on terrific. My memory of that first production is that it was all shot in black-and-white and its starkness just a revelation; fitting perfectly in with the starkness of its subject. Well done all!


Mick Fleetwood

FLEET GLEE --- Tomorrow's night Glee celebrates the music of Fleetwood Mac? About time I'd say … right? Can't wait.


JUSTICE SERVED --- I'd be remiss in not observing on this morning's news on Osama bin Laden. When it seemed that hope would never be forthcoming; it is now arrived. Let's mark this as a new beginning and get back on the principals we began this country with. A truly momentous moment; long awaited and richly deserved! Strange, bittersweet … but, a new beginning.

Photos By: RD/Dziekan/Kabik/Leon/Walter McBride/Retna