Category Archives: TV

TNT’s ‘Will’ debuts tonight, but will millennials check out Bard’s plays

 

Laurie Davidson, left, as William Shakespeare, with Mattias Inwood as the actor Richard Burbage and Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage in TNT's "Will." (PHOTO: Alex Bailey/TNT)
Laurie Davidson, left, as William Shakespeare, with Mattias Inwood as the actor Richard Burbage and Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage in TNT’s “Will.” (PHOTO: Alex Bailey/TNT)

TNT’s eagerly awaited (by some) rock-and-roll version of Shakespeare’s “lost years” debuts beginning at 9 tonight with two episodes of “Will.”

The lost years … the seven-year period between 1585 (when his twins were born) to 1592 (when Robert Greene called him an “upstart crow” when mentioned as part of the London theater scene. There are no historical traces that survive to show exactly where he was or why he left Stratford for London.

Although the greatest poet in the English language died 401 years ago, we are still staging his plays, talking about his impact on the world, quoting famous lines, watching new work with new interpretations of his life, including this summer’s controversy over The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Julius Caesar” with a title character that resembled President Trump.

Newcomer Laurie Davidson in the title role of “Will” on TNT, part of a 10-episode first season, the producers say.  (PHOTO: Alex Bailey/TNT)

Craig Pearce, who wrote the screenplay for Baz  Lurhmann’s  “Romeo + Juliet.” wrote the pilot and is the executive producer the the 10-episode first season, which indicates a future if the ratings are good. But will the funky approach draw millennials to live theater, or even PBS, the TV station where Shakespeare shows up most often? Don’t hold your breath. But at least they may learn a few things about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era to make the effort worthwhile.

Read more about punk-rock Shakespeare and a look at the official trailer.

Here’s how the L.A. Times describes “Will”

“It’s 1589. Young Will Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson), provincial actor and aspiring scribe, attractively lean and hungry for fame, heads off to the bawdy big city of London, leaving wife and children behind, as the Clash’s “London Calling” plays on the soundtrack.”

The Guardian of London

Some parts of the show are thoroughly enjoyable, including a battle of pentametric wits between Shakespeare, slow to earn the respect of his thespian cohorts, and Christopher Marlowe. Here, Marlowe is reimagined as not only Shakespeare’s worthy poetic rival but an admirer, too.

But Will would be more successful had it been crafted like another vaguely biographical series, Netflix’s The Crown, with characterization, patience and restraint rather than ribaldry and maximalism.

Entertainment website

“Will” is truly the breakfast cereal commercial of Shakespeare — it’s sugary and colorful and very, very bad for you, but irresistible, especially if you’ve tasted something like this before. For anyone with even a nugget of leftover Shakespeare knowledge from high school, Will can be wicked summer fun. Really. Lines like “Seems like your play is quite the thing!” are so heinous, they’re genius.

TNT’s ‘Will’ looks at punk-rock theater scene in Elizabethan London

We  don’t know much about the personal life of William Shakespeare, but TNT is taking a fictionalized stab at it with a bare bodkin in a new series called “Will,”

The first 10 episodes “reveal” 16th century London as a seductive, violent world where Shakespeare’s raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. The “wild life” of the most famous playwright in history, according to a Deadline.com post. It’s described as a “contemporary version of Shakespeare’s life played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.”

Continue reading TNT’s ‘Will’ looks at punk-rock theater scene in Elizabethan London

Stage and Screen actor Abe Vigoda died today

Abe Vigoda in a TV episode of "The Rockford Files."
Abe Vigoda in a TV episode of “The Rockford Files.”

Abe Vigoda, who made a career on and off Broadway performing Shakespeare, Strindberg and Shaw, before he became internationally known  for playing Salvatore Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adaptation of the Mario Puzo novel “The Godfather” has died.

He also showed his comic side as Detective Phil Fish on the hit sitcom “Barney Miller.”

Click here to read the NYTimes obit.

Click here to read his Wikipedia entry.

Click here to read his Broadway credits.

‘Downton Abbey’ on the road to being a musical?

Image of "Downton Abbey" cast, which will end its successful run on TV at the end of its next season.
“Downton Abbey” ends its successful run on TV at the end of its 2016 season.

I love musicals. I love “Downton Abbey.” But a musical of this hit British TV series about a snooty English Earl and his family … It seems, though, we’re not talking traditional stage musical and the show’s creator Julian Fellowes is involved so maybe this isn’t a train  wreck waiting to happen.

That’s what various news outlets are reporting. Playbill.com, referring to an article in  The Independent of London, says the show that focuses on the Crawley before, during and following World War I is being adapted as a stage musical that would go on a global theatrical tour.

Continue reading ‘Downton Abbey’ on the road to being a musical?

Untold ‘Sound of Music’ story Wednesday on ABC

Iconic "Sound of Music" opening scene from the film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starring Julie Andrews.
Iconic “Sound of Music” opening scene from the film version of the Rodgers& Hammerstein musical starring Julie Andrews.

When I was growing up the only time you could watch “The Sound of Music” movie was Easter weekend, usually the Saturday night before while dying eggs. This year you can watch the “The Untold Story of ‘The Sound of Music’.” Really.  And it doesn’t look to be at all nasty or sordid.

At 10 p.m. EST Wednesday (3/18/15) on ABC-TV,  Diane Sawyer hosts a special edition of “20/20” featuring an interview with Julie Andrews in Salzburg, the hometown of the real von Trapp family lived. Continue reading Untold ‘Sound of Music’ story Wednesday on ABC

Wrap gifts, sing along with ‘Sound of Music’

Image of scene from the movie version of "The Sound of Music."
Scene from the movie version of “The Sound of Music.”

In all the chaos of Christmas, with the running around, pressures of gift giving, try to carve out Sunday night (Dec. 21) to sing-a-long to  “The Sound of Music” with the family. It’s a perfect time to sit together, wrap gifts, and order takeout pizza and wings for dinner.

The Rodgers & Hammerstein musical based on the real-life on Trapp family will air on ABC from 7-11 p.m. The Tony Award- and Oscar-winning musical includes the great opening scene as the helicopter  skims over the tress and finds Julie Andrews on top of the mountain as she burst into the title song. Plus, there’s “My Favorite Things,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “Edelweiss,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “The Lonely Goat Herd” puppet scene.

P.S. If you can’t wait, there’s “Sound of Music Live” airing on NBC 8-11 p.m.  Saturday (Dec. 20), but it’s just not the same and never will be.

The real von Trapp family

Learn about the real von Trapp family and how it differs from the movie family here.

Visit the von Trapp family lodge here.

Maria Von Trapp and family in 1965 gather for reunion at family-owned hotel in 1965.(Photo courtesy of Ted Russell/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Maria Von Trapp and family in 1965 gather for reunion at family-owned hotel in 1965.(Photo courtesy of Ted Russell/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Celebrate Mandy Patinkin’s birthday with ‘Princess Bride’ clip

Still image of Mandy Patinkin in "The Princess Bride" (1987).
Still of Mandy Patinkin in “The Princess Bride” (1987).

Today is Mandy Patinkin’s 62nd birthday and he seems to still be going strong. That’s good because he is well-loved by fans of Broadway, TV and movies (especially “The Princess Bride.”)

For an absolutely great  DVD extra from Rob Reiner’s “The Princess Bride,” featuring interviews with  Patinkin, Cary Elwes and Christopher Guest about learning to swordfight for the film click here.

Continue reading Celebrate Mandy Patinkin’s birthday with ‘Princess Bride’ clip