Monday, June 13, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Female leads

Bette Davis as Regina Giddens — [Regina does nothing. Horace stumbles upstairs and collapses].
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon — Two Hot "Foxes" Are Set to Conquer Broadway.  Also — China's Movie Industry Explodes ... Madonna's "Borderline" Keeps on Pushing My Love ... and, times have changed for the better, but relax at your own risk! 

"I'M LUCKY Horace. I've always been lucky. I'll be lucky again."

So said Lillian Hellman's greedy, dissatisfied, upwardly mobile anti-heroine Regina Giddens in Hellman's classic play about the evils of capitalism, "The Little Foxes." And indeed Regina was lucky again, within minutes, in fact. (So, she didn't rush to give her dying husband his heart medication, it's not like she actually killed him — with her bare hands, that is.)
Charles Dingle as Benjamin Hubbard and Tallulah Bankhead as Regina Giddens in "The Little Foxes," 1939. ©The New York Public Library
Now comes some amazing news about "The Little Foxes." The Manhattan Theater Club will present a revival next March. (The first revival since Elizabeth Taylor's 1981 Broadway triumph.) Two of my all-time favorite actresses will star, Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon. Great, huh? But you ain't heard nuthin' yet.
Maureen Stapleton and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Little Foxes."
Linney and Nixon will alternate the two female leads. One is the above-mentioned Regina. The other is Regina's sister-in-law, Birdie, who spends her time tippling brandy, and pathetically living in the past, while all around, Regina and her brothers brutally scheme over the family business. (Birdie is treated with contempt and physical abuse by her husband, who married her only for her name and money.)
Daniel Sullivan directs this unusual production and yes, of course I am going to see both women swap roles. What theater-lover wouldn't?
THE MOVIE business news out of China continues to be astounding. Next year, China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the world's most lucrative film market, and that's pretty good for the U.S. because our films do fantastic business in China. However, there is quota on "outside" cinema so America's movie industry can't profit quite as lavishly as it wants. Does China care? Nope. Why should they? Their Hengdian World Studios in eastern China is the biggest movie studio on earth. Of all the things Confucius said, "share and share alike" was not one of them. (I don't know that anybody actually said it, I believe the phrase began as a legal term, back in 1700s or in the Bible, per Samuel: "all will share alike ...")
Madonna performing "Borderline" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
MADONNA rocked a conservative outfit on Jimmy Fallon last week, and has rarely looked lovelier (As Louella Parsons always used to say of Marion Davies, mistress of Louella's boss, William Randolph Hearst.)

A dark blouse, man's tie, gray pants and what I think was a stylish watch fob. Her hair looked a bit shorter, which is a wise thing too. And then she sang a slow mellow version of her 1984 hit, "Borderline." She sounded good! (Haters are gonna hate, but Madonna has never had a voice that can tackle "Aida." It's a terrific pop instrument and she generally makes a point to sing live, which is not always the case even with performers who have technically better voices.)

Madonna seems to be embracing her legendary catalogue more these days. During the run of her recent phenomenally successful "Rebel Heart" tour, she often deviated from her set list and did a few real oldies, just for the fans, who went wild, natch.

Madonna will likely never do an "oldies" tour nor will she fulfill my Dietrich/chanteuse fantasy. But it's nice to hear her sing the songs that propelled her to international fame, in such a simple framework and wearing clothes that in their well-tailored modesty, are infinitely more flattering and youthful than some of the flesh-baring get-ups she likes. (Watch, by the time this appears, she'll have sent out a semi-nude Instagram or attended an event in a backless, topless, bottomless gown. But perversity is Madonna's middle name. That's why we love her.)
P.S. On June 16th, MadonnathonNYC presents another Madonna Dance Party at Rockbar in Manhattan (185 Christopher Street) It's ... exactly what is says, a dance party — all Madonna, all night long. Special guest is DJ JENE. The promoters promise "many special surprises" and "exciting giveaways." This celebration of Ms. Ciccone begins at 9 p.m. $5.00 cover charge.
"HATRED and ignorance fester like crabgrass, even in our 'enlightened' times. Misogyny, bigotry, anti-Semitism, homophobia are all alive and very unwell." That sentence was a portion of an item that was to originally run today. One of our readers had pointed out, lightheartedly, how often derogatory terms were used for gay men in the novel "Valley of the Dolls" and also in the movie version — a drinking game could be made out of it! Nobody takes it seriously, and gay audiences laugh at the antique sensibilities of the mid-1960s. It's "camp." The horrifying events in Orlando yesterday made that item grotesque and unseemly. Details and motive behind the mass shooting are still being examined, but what is there to examine? It's hate. The words and theme of a song from "South Pacific" are never far from my mind — "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught." Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with all the victims.
 
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