Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Return, Part 2

The biggest excuse for time away from the Blogosphere over the past multiple months (years really) is the novella I have been writing. Slow going. I could just as well be carving the thing… word by word… in stone. Part of the problem is that I really don’t know what I am doing. Oh, I have written a book before, but that was a memoir where I had my journal to fill in any memory lapses along with a very clear idea of what I wanted to say to a specific audience. (Note the insertion of this shameless plug for my book, Cagney & Lacey… and Me available through Amazon and by direct request to web site for an autographed copy.)

A work of fiction is different; especially since I don’t often read fiction. It is rather like trying to create a film when your only reference to the medium is that art-house flick someone dragged you to several years ago. I have been on and off this minor venture of mine for longer than I will reveal. It will never be anything earth shattering enough to merit the time/effort I have expended and once it’s done (and technically it is done) I haven’t a clue what to do with it.

It really isn’t done. I am going to put back in the multiple sex scenes I eliminated from the previous draft and then add some other stuff that has recently come to mind as appropriate to the overall “theme.” Then I will polish/update those things that are time-sensitive, read it (again) multiple times, then (maybe) give it out to a pal or two (or three) to get some feedback. You see how this never ends… right?

Other distractions: I don’t travel as much as I used to, but it still is a time burner… especially now that my primary medical care is out of New York City even though home base is Miami Beach. Sharon and I have many friends in and near the Big Apple and the theatre retains a great deal of attraction for us. Truth to tell, this year was not one of my favorite seasons, but here is the good and not-so-good news on that:

Ain’t Too Proud … the life and times of the temptations. I guess you had to be there…. Mid 1960’s and a fan of this rock and roll group… I wasn’t. A fan. These juke box musicals (Jersey Boys, Beautiful) rely on the audience to contribute their own warm and fuzzy feelings based on the nostalgic ooze the music generates. Everyone in the audience, save for Sharon and me, seemed to be in the groove. See it if you want… you have been warned.

The ultimate Juke-Box musical is, of course, Moulin Rouge based on the Baz Luhrmann motion picture of the same name. It is a total hoot and a must see. The theatricality, production, sets, choreography and direction are all first rate as is the cast.

I was the first in the audience at Hadestown to leap to my feet and cry bravo. I just loved it, but for very specific reasons: As it all unfolded, in its own unique and lyrical style, I saw my own painful past in the movie business beautifully realized. Few of you knew of me back in the day of Who Fears the Devil, a truly independent feature motion picture I produced while (I guess) everyone else was following the Temptations. The movie nearly broke my spirit. It was a devastating experience. And it would take a lot longer than I have here to explain the why of all of that. Trust me. All the success… all the glory of those six seasons of Cagney & Lacey were not enough to get me even with the pain of Who Fears the Devil.  C&L got me close, I admit, but I still wear those scars from that tiny movie. Hadestown unfolded before me on that Broadway stage. It was everything I had wanted my own film of all those years ago to be. It was my vision fully and beautifully realized in a way I wasn’t good enough to get done. These folks had used their time and their resources wisely. Trying to be objective I am not sure if any other audience member was on the same road with me… but even if they were not, the standing ovation at show’s end seemed to indicate that most everyone got a little something from this extraordinary show.

Prom was a pleasant surprise. I reluctantly tagged along and was not at all sorry. Nice cast, lovely production, and a much better show than I had imagined. It is getting ready to close, still is one of those shows that can easily be packed up for the road and brought to a theatre near you. If /when that happens, see it.

To Kill a Mockingbird was …. Well, no need to go to NY for this. Rent the movie. Jeff Daniels is a fine actor, but he is not Gregory Peck. Aron Sorkin is one of my favorite writers, but he did better every week… twenty-two weeks of the year… on West Wing… for NBC. The play is good, it is a great all-American story, but The Constitution and What it means to me was so much more thrilling to watch and so much more relevant. I commend that one way over Mockingbird or the recently closed Network or Hillary & Bill.

Definitely rent Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie before laying out several C-notes for the current Broadway show of the same name and thank your lucky stars that you did not get to New York before the closing of Frankie & Johnnie at the Claire de Lune. Even the fabulous Audra McDonald could not salvage this overblown, out of step clunker.

Lastly, like so many of you, I have been obsessed to the point of distraction over the current political climate. I feel comfortable including something as potentially controversial as politics into my blog-a-thon of all things show business, because American politics has become one of the most stupendous theatrical extravaganzas of all time and, at long last, I have come up with an idea or two that will make the “show” even more entertaining and a lot more inclusive.

The American electorate is certainly not the most well-informed on the planet, nor are they well read on the subject of good governance, nor well-schooled in civics. Americans do not know their own history very well, nor do they usually understand the very laws that supposedly we (ourselves) have chosen to govern us. What Americans do know, is how to watch television. And Donald J. Trump is good television.

For the so-called liberal elite, who over the years followed the shows I made and liked what they saw, it will come as no surprise that my own personal leanings are far to the left of “The Donald’s.” That the America I see is a very different place than the gilded Mar-a-Lago vision of America that our would-be King espouses. Naturally I would like to see him defeated at the polls, but with each passing day I become more pessimistic that the Dems can compete with this television juggernaut.

I find the Trumpster rude and crude, but the TV audience (more and more) finds him candid and “authentic.” How, you might ask, can a liar… documented to have lied thousands of times each year he has been in office… be deemed “authentic?” It is the power of TV.

Sometimes casting is everything. The proof of that is we have all seen very poor productions of Hamlet. Trust me: there is nothing wrong with the writing. Hamlet works… or it doesn’t… largely based on who it is playing the lead. Trump is great casting. Not my choice. Not the way I would do it, but you have to concede, there is something about his “act” that is working for the American electorate, if not America itself.

I like Elizabeth Warren… a lot. I don’t think she can beat the Trumpster and I know damn well Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders or Kamila Harris can’t either. Oh, something unforeseen could happen to change that commentary, but as things are… at the time of this writing… I would bet a lot that I am right. None of the Dems are TV strong enough to combat Trump. Ophra Winfrey is… she might well wipe him out, but I don’t see her running and I am not so sure we all want to live in a country that is as blatantly superficial as the kind of race these two would run in opposition to one another.

What to do? The problem the Dems have for the foreseeable future is that there are too many of them. Nearly two dozen are running for President. There is no one-single spokesperson to take on the opposition. Nancy Pelosi to the rescue. Every day, speaker Nancy should hold an intimate press conference from her office at the People’s House. The purpose of the meeting is to expose, with proper visuals, wit and wisdom, the lies of the day from the President or his administration. The Democrats need a face… a compelling TV persona who can go toe to toe with Trump.  Ms Perlosi is the closest thing we have to that and this spot, perhaps aided by a writer from The Daily Show could be must-see TV.

Even though the production values would be small (The Speaker’s office balcony, rarely seen, would be great) the “show” should be presented as simply, and with as much wit and bite as possible. The Donald Exposed, on a daily basis, and made the subject of ridicule by the most powerful elected female in the land.

Secondly, there should be one candidate that the entire Democratic party gets fully behind, both officially and monetarily. That individual is Amy McGrath… NOT for President, but for her Senate Race in Kentucky against Mitch McConnell.

Ditch Mitch should become the Democrat’s primary obsession. And why not? It was Mitch who turned the Obama presidency lukewarm, it was Mitch who kept Obama’s appointment off the supreme court. And it is Mitch who is packing the courts as we speak. In 2008 Mitch McConnell openly said his primary job was to make Obama a one term President. Think about it. His primary job? What about making better the lives of the people he “represents” in Kentucky? What about making America better? Almost everything that has turned sour in our governmental system over the past dozen years can be laid at the feet of Mitch McConnell. Without him, Trump is the late, late show, relegated to the status of not yet ready for Prime Time.

It is not enough for the Dems to win the Senate, so long as the obstructionist in chief, Mitch McConnell, is still in office. It will not be of any help to win the Presidency so long as Mitch McConnell holds public his job as either majority OR minority leader. Win the Senate, control the congress, AND keep McConnell from being the minority leader where he could, once again, destroy a new President the way he did Obama. Ditch Mitch and it will not matter very much who is President. And If it is the Donald, believe me, he will be miserable in that job without Mitch to prop him up to play at being the star of the show.

Barney Rosenzweig

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