Friday, June 10, 2011

Of London, New York and Miami ... spring blog

Summer is all but upon us but before that happens I thought I should deal with spring. It was an active time of year in the Rosenzweig/Gless household. First there was that very quick April trip to London, followed by a trek out to Los Angeles, then in May our 20th Wedding anniversary celebrated with friends in Florida, and a bash for Sharon’s birthday in New York. All of this built in, and around, the beginning of production for the fifth season of Burn Notice, Sharon’s Miami based TV series. Small wonder I haven’t been blogging of late.

The winter had ended with a record shattering Miami run of Sharon’s play, A Round-Heeled Woman at the GableStage Theatre. Having experienced that success the plan was then to take the play to England, open it this fall where it might run during the Burn Notice six month hiatus betwixt production of years five and six of that series, and then on to New York with the play for the fall of 2012. Sharon’s producers had wanted her to come to England to check out their idea for a venue, to do a bit of press and, coincidently, Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman, Sharon’s producers of Queer as Folk, had written Bonnie Blue Eyes, a major musical for the West End stage. It was just opening and Sharon wanted to be there in support. Then there was Tom Conti, her leading man from Chapter Two doing a play written by our pal, the late Jack Rosenthal and we both wanted to attend that with our good pal Jack’s widow, the wonderful actress/comedienne Maureen (no relation to the aforementioned Dan) Lipman so off we went.

We still had one evening open in the three day British dash (timed for the same weekend as the London Marathon, but a full week before the Royal Wedding) so we teamed up for dinner with Bill Paterson, Sharon’s co-star in Stephen King’s Misery. Bill and his award winning wife Hildegard Bechtler are always “must sees” being all on their own enough of an excuse to pop over the Atlantic for a long weekend break from Burn Notice filming even though, truth to tell, I am getting way too old for that kind of quickie. There is, by the way, no truth to the rumor that I went along merely to prove my nose was not at all out of joint at being excluded from the invitees to the big wedding thing and that I tagged along with SG to the UK as evidence of that.

London was fantastic. Bill Paterson and I exchanged books we have authored (his is Tales from the Back Green, mine… in case you forgot… is Cagney & Lacey… and Me). Even I have to confess that I got the better part of that deal. Bill’s book made me laugh and cry. He is as good a writer as he is an actor and so as not to leave Hildegard out of the equation I would add that the set she designed for the Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia was most impressive and worthy of her considerable talent and resume.

Meanwhile, back on the West End, Betty Blue Eyes, based on the British film classic A Private Function is a worthy successor to the movie. Not sure if Broadway will get all the very English references, but it could well work out there after its considerable run in the West End. After the multiple curtain calls we discovered a new (to me) London restaurant: Rules. It could well have been one of the trip’s highlights. We went there with Ron and Dan after their show, raved about their work and the d├ęcor and cuisine at what we learned was London’s most historical dining establishment.

Next day, Tom Conti was on stage and great as always. The play is Jack Rosenthal’s SMASH and, although, it has never played in America, I think it would be a smash in the states. Jack wrote it many years ago and his spouse Maureen starred in the original production. It is a very clever piece about a group of creative types (a writer, a director, a composer, a lyricist and a producer) who come together to create a Broadway musical. Sounds similar to the about-to-be launched American TV series called SMASH (about a group of creative types: a writer, a director, a composer, a lyricist and a producer)… a conflict which could launch an interesting series all by itself (not to mention a plagiarism suit).

Exhilarating and tiring as all that was, we no sooner returned to Miami than Sharon went before the Burn Notice cameras and I took off for Los Angeles, the LA Times Festival of Books and a guest lecture at UCLA. The latter was fun for me, appearing for the better part of three hours in front of my friend, Tom Nunan’s graduate seminar on television production, but the book fair was another matter. It not only brought up a few old wounds about the lame way most books and their authors are promoted, but more to the point it was humbling as few of the hundreds of thousands of fair goers seemed to have any kind of a clue at all of what Cagney & Lacey was, let alone why anyone would write a book about it. Maybe that what has delayed this blog. It sort of takes the wind out of what remains of my sails (I almost wrote sales) when I witness firsthand how few people know or care about what I have always believed was a truly iconic television series. I am not wrong about that part. What I have to face is how ephemeral pop culture is and how audiences do move on.

So now will I.

Sharon could not get another break from Miami and Burn Notice for our anniversary at the beginning of May. These personal events come and go, but 2011 was significant in that it was our 20th. Having just burned a lot of sleep and energy on the London thing, I overruled Sharon’s desire to grab the “red-eye” to and from LA in order to have a party with our family (all of whom live in California) and so we opted instead for dear friends nearer home in Miami, celebrating at the famous Miami Beach Forge Restaurant with 20 pals, one for each year of wedded bliss. Well, to be more accurate, one for each year, blissful or otherwise. Either way, it was a great party followed by another bash at May’s end for Sharon’s birthday. This time Burn Notice was taking a small hiatus for the Memorial Day holiday and so I treated Sharon to a swell dinner at Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House in The Bowery in New York for all our NYC pals including sparklies Rosie O’Donnell, Tyne Daly and Lee Grant. Sammy’s is always a hoot and the food is fantastic… provided you are on serious statin drugs or care not about your cholesterol numbers. This was followed by a week’s worth of theatre on and off Broadway. We saw Book of Mormon (cute, but very over-rated from my point of view), Arcadia (Stoppard may just be the world’s best playwright working in the English language so this is a must-see), House of Blue Leaves (a far better than average revival of the John Guare play with a nice cast), The Minister’s Wife (yawn… but I did LOVE the lighting. I don’t know about you, but I think when the lighting is what gets a review in a musical there is a problem), Jerusalem (a British import with a stunning performance by Mark Rylance. It is more than the old, “if you can’t be good be loud” admonition. Rylance is good AND loud). By the way, we did not see the very theatrical British import War Horse on Broadway as we saw this at its home base in London; a very good night in the theatre. Finalizing our New York musical fling was Priscilla, Queen of the Desert which made my own light-weight (and only) Broadway adventure, All Shook Up, look like West Side Story. This was followed (finally) by The Mother ***ker with the Hat (a play, much better than the title with a very nice young cast). Sad to say the real Broadway highlight was tapas at the Bar Centrale just over Joe Allen’s bistro on 46th street. Great food and drink from an interesting, albeit limited, menu and sparklies galore in attendance…. a really fun post-theatre hangout. Best meal (other than Sammy’s) was the always reliable Frankie & Johnnie’s and the worst was the very expensive and perpetually overrated Nello’s on Madison Ave. Sharon loved (as always) Serendipity for the Sand Tart Sundae and we were both bereft to discover Gino’s… one of our favorite Italian eateries… had closed its Lexington Avenue doors. It had been a main-stay for Sinatra, Woody Allen and for my entire life of New York experiences. I remain stunned at is closing. Not as stunned as I was at the LA Times Festival of Books, but stunned none-the-less.

That is it for the spring. Amazon and Kindle now have the e-book Cagney & Lacey… and Me for sale on their sites, and any day now iTunes should be featuring the book as well. I am hopeful that this summer brings some good news about those electronic sales along with good reviews for the Mrs. and season number five of Burn Notice. It will be lighting up your television screens in a matter of days. Be patient.


June 9, 2011


Daniela said...

Dear Barney, if that's any consolation to you, you should know that even my husband and I were not invited to the Royal Wedding, but we think we will survive this thing!
I am reading your book (I'm a little slow because of my bad English): I really like it and I like the way you write.
So don't be too sad about what happened at the LA Times Festival of Books: in the whole world there are a lot of people who love "Cagney & Lacey" and they will always be grateful to you for what you did with your work. . . only they were not present at the Festival ! ( maybe they were still in England for the Royal Wedding ...).
Even for my husband and for me the month of May 2011 was important: in fact we met for the first time in that period ( and we were married in 1997 ): it seems like yesterday.
From an Italian citizen, I am sorry to know that "Gino" has closed its doors: our kitchen is always exceptional and does not raise cholesterol levels ( . . . almost never ).
I'm glad to know that Amazon Kindle and now have "Cagney & Lacey ... and Me" e-books for sale on their sites, even if I have The Book autographed by you, I hope to be able to buy the 'e-book from the Italy (so I can translate with my computer what I dont' understand ).
Now duty calls me. . .
Greetings from Italy
By the way, busy life for two elderly people (forgive the expression!).

CagneyandLaceysWebSquad said...

Daniela: Thanks for the suggestion (I will pass it on) and for the support as well as the "team cheer." As to your not understanding why MGM doesn't distribute the DVDs to the stores these days, they are not alone. The average retail outlet in the USA has about 2500 slots for DVD sales. There are literally millions of titles vying for those slots. The new, hot, shows are the only additions that are made to the stacks and all those older shows that you see there have probably been there for some time. They are not "moving" and their supply is not being refurbished. It is a war for real estate (in this case shelf space) and vintage television is the loser. Of course, I have tried... over and over again... to convince those in power that Cagney & Lacey is not merely "vintage," but iconic TV and that as such it is part of the language and should be part of any collection in stores or in homes. Even when I do make that point (and sometimes I can be effective), my enthusiasm gets diluted down the sales staff food chain to some guy in the field who must now not only remember my words and try to replicate my fervor, but must do so to convince the post pubescent buyer for the retail outlet of the efficacy of all this. Hard to do... and that is why I am trying to work on MGM to eliminate the middle man in all of this and to deal direct with the consumer (people like you). The survey we are taking will (hopefully) give us the ammunition we need to get this ball rolling. Again... Thanks for your support and please tell your friends to fill out the survey ( Barney Rosenzweig

Daniela said...

Dear Barney, you're welcome.
You are absolutely right when you say that C&L is not merely "vintage TV " but iconic TV.
Perhaps many people born after the year 1980 did not know this show.
I seem to understand that in recent years, all TV productions ( at least here in Italy ) are addressed to an audience of young people. This is because they are better "consumers" and so they attract more sponsors. What the hell!
I have 43 years, I'm not old, I love vintage TV, I'm not a loser, I'm sure you are not a loser. And I'm also a decent "consumer". I think there are many people out there who think like me, so: get this ball rolling !
For my part I will try to convince my friends to fill out the survey, although when I quote C&L they look at me as if I were from Mars. . .
About Vintage TV ( or perhaps Prehistoric TV ? ) you will be glad to know that during this summer an Italian television channel (TV2000) is broadcasting your own TV series "Daniel Boone". Prehistoric TV, but "Daniel Boone" is on DVD! Mah !
Good summer holyday !

Tracy said...

Dear Mr. Rosenzweig, you may have underestimated the television-watching public of the 1980's. I, for one, appreciate the quality of a few series'. I know that it took a tremendous amount of work and it shows. When channel surfing now, I find it discouraging that a large percentage of programming has evolved the way it has. It may appeal to me in my golden years if I become feeble-minded, who knows?! Anyway, C&L DVD set - absolutely! Wishing you luck!

Anonymous said...

Burn Notice is really very interesting and thrilling show. Writers of the show have a plan to make us surprise with each episode. This is the interesting part and I love this spy show.

Unknown said...

Thanksfor the Cagney and Lacy series.Definitely mine and my children's favorite.

Can't believe this is the same "Barney Rosensweig" that was a cheerleader at my alma mater, Montebello HS.. I was a class behind you but always remember you a leader in school.

I will definitely read your newest book.

Darlene Baiocchi Rutherford (class of 1956}