Story By: by G. H. HARDING
Bruce Jenner

BRUCE JENNER SPEAKS --- Fourteen million people watched, and here’s what I saw:

First, it was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever witnessed on broadcast TV. Second, I always liked Jenner and he certainly came across as confident that he was finally making the right decision after years of anguish, And third: of all those bleeding Kardashians, Kim apparently was the first one to step up and support him . . . with Kanye, of all people.

One journalist immediately termed it: “Bruce Jenner’s Coming Out Is the Millennial Moon Landing.”

I thought Diane Sawyer did a fine job, although perhaps Anderson Cooper or Ann Curry (yes, she's still positioned with NBC Universal) would have been interesting choices as well.

While Bruce kept saying it was a mostly private and personal choice, I just didn’t get why yet another reality show about his impending gender transition is necessary. Two days later, I still don't get it.

Micky Dolenz

2 MONKEES IN ONTARIO --- Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork kicked off a series of shows in Ontario this weekend, and here’s what our reporter Tyrone Biljan had to say:

“I’ve always viewed The Monkees as a diamond. A diamond in the rough, perhaps. What I mean is that you can look at it from any angle and see within many different things. It’s multi layered.

“The two shows outside of Toronto was a spotlight of the blues from their extensive catalog for these two sold-out shows.

“The Monkees’ band (Yes! They really are a band!) has had many configurations over almost 50 years. But while both Dolenz and the late Davy Jones put out a Monkees album called Changes in 1970, this is the first Monkees tour to feature Tork & Dolenz together as a two-some. (After a rare and very welcome return to Monkees concert tours over the past two years by Mike Nesmith, it seems that “Papa Nez” has decided to opt out of touring this time around.)

“Highlights of the night, of which there were many, included the return of an acoustic-seated set that included a bluesy ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ with Peter on lead and Dolenz on guitar and harmony vocals. Tork has maintained a very spirited devotion to blues music these past years with his own group Shoe Suede Blues, and this down ‘n dirty version of “Clarksville” was first recorded and released in 2007 as part of the Shoe Suede Blues album, Cambria Hotel.

“There was also Dolenz singing what he calls his ‘Layla,’ the Gerry Goffin- and Carole King-written ‘Sometime in the Morning,’ which sounded amazing. Just as Tork’s performance of ’Clarksville’ at the show came from his own 2007 SSB version, Micky’s version of ‘Sometime in the Morning’ was informed by his own fantastic recording of the song on his own 2010 album devoted to the songs of Carole King—and called, aptly enough, King for a Day.

“The duo also brought forth a classic and seldom-performed live version of Bobby Hart and Tommy Boyce’s ballad “I’ll Spend My Life With You.” Being that The Monkees recorded a version of this song back in ’66 with the great L.A. session musicians known collectively as “The Wrecking Crew,” only to then go on and re-record the song when they were playing all the instruments themselves on the 1967 album, Headquarters, means it can now be said without a doubt that this song stands as testimony to what Micky and Peter in particular have said all along—that they began as actors playing a band on TV, but quickly became a real band that made their mark both in concerts and on records.

“The solo set backed by the Monkees’ band included Micky’s sister Coco Dolenz, as well as seasoned musicians from various Monkees tours. They played a very bluesy rendition of The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” which Dolenz mentioned can be found on his most recently-released solo album Remember. (For those who know that it was the choice by Monkees’ original music producer, the late Don Kirschner, to have The Monkees record a single of “Sugar, Sugar” that got him fired by the band, Micky’s performance of the song was the ironic cherry on top of this song’s performance that night.) Peter also played 'Even White Boys Get the Blues,' and both songs got a very positive reaction from the audience.

“The video presentation, by tour producer and Rhino Records visionary Andrew Sandoval, was set with many rare images. My favorite of the night had to be a very early ‘70s photo with bearded and shoulder length hair Tork on stage playing guitar, with Coco singing in the middle and Micky strumming guitar with his curly hair and mutton-chop sideburns. There were also video clips from the original Monkees TV show that included songs by Nesmith and the dearly-departed 'Manchester Cowboy' himself, Davy Jones.

“A final highlight of the show was the duo singing and exchanging verses on Davy’s signature Number-One worldwide hit, 'Daydream Believer.' After seeing this concert, and taking into consideration all the many countless dozens of live shows that The Monkees have given to the public now for nearly the past forty years, it would seem sheer lunacy to me—and I’m sure to many others all over the globe—to suggest that The Monkees are not entirely deserving of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction that continually eludes them. For this reporter, the absence of The Monkees from the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame truly signifies a crucial ‘missing link’ in the evolution of this organization. But the ongoing snub didn’t seem to mind Peter or Micky that night or any other night. To paraphrase the lyrics from The Monkees’ own TV show, ‘We’re’ too busy singin’ to put anybody down.’ At these new Monkees shows in Canada, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork did themselves and their other two bandmates proud. Well done, gentlemen, well done.”

MOVIE DOWNLOW – I really was looking forward to watching two movies that had somehow escaped my view late last year: Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar, and J. C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year.

Nolan has seemingly been anointed as the director to watch. Whenever I see one of his Batman movies on TV, I simply cannot turn away. And his other films, Inception and Insomnia (featuring one of the best “serious” roles in the entirety of the late great Robin Williams’ acting career) and the first film, Memento, are among my favorites.

Interstellar (with a strong cast of Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Oscar-nominated Best Actress Jessica Chastain, no less) made less and less sense as it went on. It was totally impossible to understand. I was crushed. I watched the almost three-and-a-half hour opus, hoping that it would regain some momentum. It did not.

It wasn’t a big hit when it was first released and, though McConaughey is good . . . it just made no sense. I wonder if it made sense to the actors at all, or if they were just content to leave themselves in the director’s usually-capable hands. A mystery, for sure.

J. C. Chandor is the director who first gained fame with a terrific little movie called Margin Call, followed by his work on the stunning Robert Redford movie, All Is Lost. This new one, with Oscar Isaac who was terrific and the ever-busy and “also in Interstellar” Jessica Chastian, was simmering . . . and stayed that way for the duration of the movie. The gist of the movie was to show just how hard the oil business is. What?!

The ending was a conversation that ended with a question. In light of the film’s title, there was in fact very little violence, but plenty of simmering emotion. Again, I felt cheated. In my opinion, anyone who wants to see a remarkably entertaining motion picture over the past year that actually had a profound message at its core should go right away and check out Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Whatever these folks are doing with this fairly new re-boot of the classic Arthur P. Jacobs film series is working.

My new movie wish-list, meanwhile: the new Mad Max; Tomorrowland with George Clooney and, at long last Entourage, the movie—a.k.a., The Ride Ain’t Over. Yikes, what a title!

CLOSING NOTES --- Gloria Reuben's last NYC show is this Thursday night at The Metropolitan Room. Don't miss this one . . .

Hot podcast The SDR Show—hosted by metal DJ Ralph Sutton and comedian Big Jay Oakerson—will be celebrating their one-year anniversary at a special live recording party at The Museum of Sex’s Play Bar and Den tonight at 6pm, featuring a live performance by the Shift and appearances by comedian Aaron Berg and Savanna the Psychic Stripper.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been a year! We’ve hit so many milestones, between Shiprocked and Motorhead cruises, hitting number one in iTunes Comedy, signing with “All Things Comedy” and all of the amazing guests we’ve had, it’s truly been insane,” says Sutton. “And this special show recorded in front of a live audience with live music, a psychic stripper, and a few past guests all streaming live at The Museum of Sex seemed like a great way to round out the year. I can't wait to see what kind of craziness happens next!”

Furious 7 - the hugely popular sequel crossed the $1 billion mark at the international box office, becoming only the third film to pull off that track. It’s in some pretty good company in that regard, joining both of James Cameron’s films Avatar and Titanic. With a global haul of $1.3 billion, Furious 7 is now the fifth highest-grossing film in history.

Furious 7, which is the last film in the series to feature actor Paul Walker, is also now the highest-grossing film in China. Its $323 million gross in the People’s Republic exceeds Transformers: Age of Extinction’s record-breaking $319 million bounty.

Domestically, Furious 7 became the first film since The Hunger Games in 2012 to top box office charts for four weeks in a row, picking up a leading $18.3 million and driving its Stateside total to $320 million.

And to think that the biggest car-related moneymaker in Hollywood way back in 1968 was Disney’s live-action comedy, The Love Bug . . .

New bookings at Steve Walter's Cutting Room include David Lindley and David Duchovny .... now, that's booking!