Story By: G. H. HARDING
Kristin Chenoweth

BRIAN’S LOVE --- I went to see Love and Mercy this week, the Bill Pohlad-directed feature on the life and times of Beach Boys genius composer Brian Wilson. Overall, I loved it, but had a tough time with the constantly-shifting timeline. Paul Dano plays him as a younger lad (and does a superlative, Oscar-worthy job), while the always-reliable John Cusack portrays the older Brian.

The terrific script, by Oren Moverman and Michael A. Lerner, is just spot-on. It covers everything in Brian’s early years, from dealing with his abusive father and initial Beach Boys manager, Murry, to some terrific moments with “The Wrecking Crew,” that team of L.A.-based killer studio musicians who played on nearly all of the Beach Boys classics.

For me, I found these scenes to be the best, as his interplay with the musicians (telling them what and how to play everything that was rushing through his musical mind) was downright inspiring. There’s one late-night scene in a parking area when studio drummer Hal Blaine (played by Johnny Sneed) is there as Brian is having a crisis in confidence. Blaine talks him up, saying that the musicians—who had done this stuff every day and had already played on sessions for everyone in the biz, from Sinatra on down—are suitably impressed and proud to be playing for him. When Wilson/Dano says he wonders if his stuff is up there with producer Phil Spector, Blaine says succinctly: “Phil Spector has nothing on you!”

Great scene, for sure.

Elizabeth Banks plays Melinda, the woman who ultimately rescues Wilson from the clutches of Dr. Eugene Landy (a firmly hyped-up performance from Paul Giamatti). Landy had essentially taken over Brian’s life b the early ‘80s, so Melinda’s showdown with Landy on behalf of Brian’s very soul and being is a great lynch pin to the whole movie.

In the film, we watch as Landy makes himself the beneficiary to everything Brian-related in the event of his death. That fact, coupled with the fact that the Beach Boys did a concert each month with all proceeds going to Landy, finally does the good doctor in.

The more I think about the movie, the more I realize that certain facts were shelved in the final edit of the film, keeping everything moving in a workmanlike fashion. For those interested, however, there is so much more to Wilson.

The movie ends with Wilson himself, singing the song “Love and Mercy” (which, oddly, is not addressed in the movie—we see that it was the one fantastic song Brian is working on when the movie ended). Undeniably the high point of the movie. Loved it, but there could have been a “Part Two” . . . and even “Part Three”!

DENNIS FERRANTE, RIP --- We lost one of the good guys this weekend, recording engineer Dennis Ferrante, whose list of credits includes work on albums by such artists as John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, Lou Reed, Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Duke Ellington, Chet Atkins and the 1910 Fruitgum Company, passed from heart failure.

Ferrante, who had endured a number of recent heart ailments, was surrounded by friends and family when he died.

A benefit concert at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room a benefit was held to get him a new heart.

Ferrante won a Grammy Award in 1999 in the category of Best Historical Album. He was one of the engineers on The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition – The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1927-1973).

In a 2009 interview, Ferrante talked about his work on albums by Lennon, Nilsson,and Yoko Ono. He said the creation of “#9 Dream” followed John Lennon's standard of work in the studio. “John's way of doing music was he would come into the studio with his song. He would run the tune down for the band and after about 45 minutes the band would be ready to put it down. Then we would record any guitar overdubs or other instruments and be ready to put down John's vocal. He didn't like to hear his voice plain so I had to put it through his headphones that seemed to me the more he heard, the better he sang. After that we put on the background vocals and whatever little nuances were needed like May (Pang) saying 'John' in the chorus. After all the parts were put down, we would mix and the rest is what you hear.”

About the infamous Nilsson album Pussy Cats, which John Lennon produced, he said the crazy atmosphere was very much a part of the album's creation. “John was not one to go into a studio and just fool around. He was there to make music, but the craziness is what it was all about. That state led to musical creativity which in turn made great music.”

And he said that despite the free form nature of her music, Yoko Ono knew what she wanted to do before coming into the studio. “She has a concept in her mind and I had to bring it to fruition, which at times was very nerve racking.”

Dennis was a familiar face at The Cutting Room and most recently performed there with former-Wings-drummer Steve Holly.

May Pang introduced me to Dennis years ago and I always found him to be a great guy and passionate about the music … like us all.

Big loss – RIP Dennis.

CLOSING NOTES --- Pretty great Tony awards show last night (the 69th in fact). Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth were fabulous hosts; especially Cumming. So good, in fact, that he could very well become the new Neil Patrick Harris.

Fun Home and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time were the big winners. The shows led the field with five trophies apiece at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, including Best Musical and Best Play, respectively. The King and I and An American in Paris were next with four wins each. Helen Mirren took the first award of the night for Best Performance by an Actress in the Leading Role of a Play in The Audience, the only other show to rack up multiple wins. I was also pleased to see Tommy Tune get the Lifetime Achievement Award . . .

Ellen DeGeneres played “Never Have I Ever” with the Entourage cast on her show last week, and forced the boys to reveal all kinds of dirty little secrets about their sex lives.

Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Dillon all admitted they had been in a threesome, and all the actors except Dillon said they had "been intimate" with an Entourage guest star. Every single one of them admitted to having had sex in a dressing room or trailer on the set of Entourage.

Connolly answered "I have" the most, admitting that he has hooked up with a woman who only knew him by his character's name. Not only that: Grenier, Ferrara, and Dillon all knew that story, instantly looking over at Connolly when the question was asked.

"It's been 12 years, come on. Twelve whole years," said Grenier in defense of their exploits.

I’m moved to say that this could be the plot for Entourage: The Movie, Part Two . . . but it’s already kind of like the plot of Part One!