My thoughts about theater, movies, the media, etc.
I generally try to stay away from politics on this blog. But I’m obsessed with Democratic messaging — mainly, how bad it usually is — so, with the primary season heating up, let me play amateur political strategist for a few minutes. Like many liberal Democrats, I’m constantly frustrated at the way the party has … Continue reading Democrats, Get Your Messaging Act Together
Suffs, the new musical at the Public Theater, may be the first clear descendant of Hamilton. Like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit, the show is a lesson in American history, dense with exposition, mostly sung-through, and the product of a single creative mind. Like Miranda, singer-composer Shaina Taub has written the book, music, and lyrics — and also … Continue reading Could ‘Suffs’ Be the Next ‘Hamilton’?
I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on the now-infamous Will Smith-Chris Rock slap at last week’s Oscar ceremony. The din was simply too great, and I wanted to wait and see how the whole thing would play out. Now that it has — decidedly not in Will Smith’s favor — I have just a few … Continue reading Will Smith and Chris Rock: Are We Done Yet?
Is there anyone left who actually looks forward to the Oscars? Once the most eagerly anticipated and massively viewed event on the movie calendar, the show has become an annual ordeal: bloated, self-indulgent, with a steadily diminishing audience. Last year’s ABC telecast drew a paltry 10.4 million viewers, less than half the number who watched … Continue reading The Oscars’ Host Problem
Broadway loves to welcome back its classic musicals, especially when accompanied by a major star to juice the box office, and provide at least a whiff of reinvention. But the new revival of The Music Man, starring Hugh Jackman, has gotten a surprisingly sour reception from many of the critics. “A huge let-down,” wrote the New York Post. “The … Continue reading A New ‘Music Man’: No Trouble in River City
The death of Betty White — a relatively minor TV star who appeared in a couple of popular sitcoms in the 1970s and ‘80s and managed to live nearly to 100 — was the lead story on all three network evening newscasts a couple of weeks ago. The death Friday of Sidney Poitier — an … Continue reading Sidney Poitier: The Jackie Robinson of Hollywood
No theater genre inspires more disdain among critics and other guardians of Broadway’s “purity” than the movie-to-musical adaptation. Taking a popular old film, adding songs, and turning it into a family-friendly Broadway show? Too crass, too unoriginal, too nakedly commercial. Begone! Mrs. Doubtfire, a new musical based on the 1993 Robin Williams film, has come to … Continue reading To the Critics of ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’: Lighten Up
I attended a memorial service this morning for Chris Porterfield, the editor who, more than anyone else, shaped my writing and critical thinking at TIME Magazine for the better part of three decades. I wrote a little personal obituary for him after his death a few weeks ago, and wanted to share it — as … Continue reading Farewell to My Favorite Editor
The big news of the new Broadway season — aside from the fact that there is a new Broadway season, albeit with masks and vaccination mandate — is its racial diversity. No fewer than six plays by Black authors have opened so far this fall— more than the entire number of straight plays that have opened in … Continue reading ‘Trouble in Mind’: A Gem Unearthed
Ever since the beginning of the Trump presidency and the explosion of political satire that accompanied it, one question has nagged at me: Whatever happened to Jon Stewart? As host of the Daily Show for 16 years, Stewart was the godfather of a new generation of late-night TV hosts, who infused their comedy with a pointed, often … Continue reading The Problem With Jon Stewart