Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Steve Honors Diane Keaton

Woody, Streep, Martin Honor Diane Keaton
By S.T. VanAirsdale

The Film Society of Lincoln Center held its annual Gala Tribute Monday night, honoring Diane Keaton's career with a guest list including Woody Allen, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Candice Bergen and a bundle of other stars and filmmakers who dropped by Avery Fisher Hall to pay their respects. The Tribute is always something of a love-in with streaks of a roast here or there -- thematically compiled clip montages followed by one-line zingers and lavish praise. This year wasn't much different, with Allen setting the pace following an assembly of scenes from his and Keaton's work together over two decades.

Not "that sad-faced girl": Diane Keaton near the end of her Gala Tribute on Monday night at Lincoln Center (Photo: STV)

"I'm sure you've all, at one time or another, heard the term 'passive-aggressive,' " he began, drawing the longest laugh of the night with his first utterance. "I only mention this because every film I did with Keaton, I always wrote all the good jokes and all the good stuff and all the good scenes for me. When the picture came out, she was the funny one -- she got all the reviews. So, you know, it's infuriating. ... She called and asked if I would say some nice things about here, and I asked, 'What the hell do you want to be honored for?' Because I could never see the point of being honored; you sit there and there's adulatory things... You get bathed in obsequious adulation and all that garbage. But she liked that idea, and then I heard the desperation in her voice. So I said OK. Keaton is..." Allen paused. "Punctual? And she's... thrifty? What else can I say about her?"

Allen added that he always shows rough cuts and scripts to her, eventually calling her one of the two or three greatest comediennes the country has ever seen. Streep followed. "What is it about Diane?" she asked. "Why does she own such a singular place in our culture? What makes here such an all-American girl, but still popular in France? What makes here more feminine than any of the sexpots half her age? Why can't I put together outfits like that? I mean, I try. There are many answers to these questions, but what is inescapable is her loveliness. She breaks men's hearts and mends women's."

Steve Martin had unearthed a program from a Santa Ana Community College production of Carousel in which Keaton (as Diane Hall) performed the lead role and on which Martin was a stagehand. The two never knew each other until years later, finally working together on two Father of the Bride films in the 1990s "This is what it's like to be married to Diane Keaton: At 5 o'clock every morning, an hour of make-up and hair. And the good-morning kiss? It's not like 'Hello,' or 'I love you.' It's six or seven times! And it's over nd over and over, and she'll say, 'Until we get it right!' Then we'll have an argument, but it won't be once or twice, but 27 times. From every angle! And it'll be the same exact argument over and over and over. And then? When it's all over? She'll say, 'Hey, what's new?' Let's go to lunch.' And I'll tell you about the sex, and I hope it won't leave this room: All sex was entirely simulated. And if we had a bed scene to do, I would get into bed, and I would hear a 'clink.' She would be wearing armor panties.

"And when there was a tribute to me several years ago, she flew to Washington D.C and sang a song for me onstage at the Kennedy Center. It was the wrong night, but it was the thought that counts. Tonight I would sort of like to return the favor." The video of his song is below; I have to sharpen it a bit later, but it was a great moment that hopefully comes through in the interim. I still don't know why all those people were laughing; the whole thing seemed pretty sincere.

Keaton arrived soon afterward to accept her award from Martin. Her speech was modest, measured and poetic, recalling her childhood aspirations to acting, but her first theater role at age 7 winding up with her running off the stage in tears. "The beautiful part of acting in movies is that I don't have to do it in front of an audience," she said. "I can do it in secret, with a small family called the crew. In our world, our goal is to transform a moment in time with the hope that it will live on in the hearts and minds of people. Now, maybe that's grandiose, but isn't that some of what acting's about?"

She was especially gracious in returning the tributes of her fellow actresses. "Even though I never thought of these encounters as particularly romantic," Keaton said, "watching us grapple with love and life on film reminded me that we had known this sublime journey to the depths of feeling as an intelligence. To me, this intelligence is a romance, too -- a romance nurtured on the best of what a human being can aspire to -- a romance in reality. So I still feel like little Diane, who wanted to be a movie star. I'm still that sad-faced girl, all knotted up in tears running off the stage only to revisit the terror of performing over and over again and again. And I guess the reason is that sometimes after the terror, you do reach a reach a beautiful plateau; you do discover a moment that feels like it will live on forever."

Posted at April 10, 2007 9:09 AM

Monday, April 09, 2007

Steve in Las Vegas for Spamalot,0,6305531.story?coll=cl-calendar

Los Angeles Times
April 8, 2007
Vegas 'Spamalot' has more glitz, takes less time
By Richard Abowitz, Special to The Times

THE opening of "Spamalot" at Wynn last week was the sort of over-the-top Vegas night that Steve Wynn is famous for. It was packed with industry stars, including Steve Martin, Geena Davis, Robin Williams and Siegfried and Roy, and Wynn's famous attention to details was fully evident, from the lavish themed after-party that packed a convention ballroom to thinking to turn the traditional red carpet into a cow pattern. "Spamalot" might have started on Broadway, but this was pure Vegas.

John O'Hurley, who plays King Arthur, put it this way: "The Broadway openings I have been to are far more subdued. In Vegas they are focused on the great event."

"Spamalot" completes a wave of Broadway-styled shows migrating here to attempt permanent residence. It began with "Mamma Mia" four years ago and included "Avenue Q," "Hairspray," "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Producers." But the closings of "Avenue Q" at Wynn and "Hairspray" at Luxor cut short that initial burst of optimism that had Vegas briefly trying on the name Broadway West. Instead of flying in for the Tony Awards, Strip executives are instead waiting to see the fate of "Phantom," "The Producers," and, now, "Spamalot." Significantly, Luxor, an MGM property, is replacing the short-lived "Hairspray" with what will be the company's sixth Cirque show on the Strip (this one starring magician Criss Angel).

But Wynn drew a different lesson from "Avenue Q's" brief residency at his resort.

"I love Broadway. There was never a moment I didn't enjoy 'Avenue Q' as a member of the audience. But here in Las Vegas there is so much competition that a show needs an edge," Wynn says. "In the case of 'Spamalot' it is the popularity of Monty Python. This is a bigger and a much more expensive show that has a scope that is more suited to Las Vegas than a smaller piece like 'Q.' It is all good theater. I saw 'Avenue Q' nine times."

But Wynn learned from "Avenue Q" that a successful Broadway show doesn't necessarily make for a winning Vegas production. The production opened as a replica of the Broadway experience, complete with intermission and no significant cuts. Wynn had a different vision this time. According to "Spamalot" producer Bill Haber, "I was surprised by how important it was that we do a 90-minute version. People will sit for that long and then they want to go do other things in Las Vegas. It is totally different than any other place. Even the tour has an intermission."

If the show had a touch of Vegas in it before — in the original, Camelot looked an awful lot like the medieval-themed Excalibur resort in Vegas — producers have really customized this version for the city, and not merely by adding local jokes. "There were dozens of changes to suit Las Vegas," Haber says. "Unlike 'Avenue Q,' 'Hairspray,' 'The Producers' or even 'Phantom,' this show was not designed to come here as a Broadway transplant. It has been changed to be a Las Vegas Monty Python comedy experience."

And so unlike "Avenue Q" — or for that matter the touring version of "Spamalot" — this is not being sold as a Broadway replica, but as a Vegas show that can't be seen anywhere else. Smart move. As Mike Weatherford, entertainment critic for Las Vegas Review-Journal, points out, Vegas Broadway turned out to be a surprisingly hard sell to local audiences: "On Broadway there is a huge infrastructure for shows. The shows change but the infrastructure doesn't. Whereas here it is just the opposite; we are just starting to build an infrastructure. How do you promote and sell a title in Las Vegas?"

For "Spamalot," (tickets from $49 to $99) according to Haber, the answer is to count on Los Angeles: "You have to market to Southern California. That is 50% of the people who come to Vegas. On Broadway you don't focus on marketing to people hundreds of miles away. It is tantamount to opening on Broadway and doing huge advertising in Boston."

Making people aware of "Spamalot" in L.A. is only half of the challenge; the other half is getting them through the doors once they get here. Vegas tourists don't plan ahead. "On Broadway," Haber says, "people buy tickets six months in advance. In Las Vegas you don't have much of an advance."

"Word of mouth is essential to the show," notes Jennifer Dunne, a veteran of more than a dozen years at Cirque and now the vice president of entertainment marketing at Wynn. "Critical reviews won't make or break a show here as they would in another city. In Las Vegas we live and die by what the cabdrivers are saying, what the concierges are saying, and what the people who meet and greet you think of the show."

So, during the weeks of previews leading up to the official opening, Dunne and her staff worked to create buzz by bringing in concierges, hotel sales departments and cabdrivers for "familiarization trips." "Weatherford thinks this strategy has worked: "They have found in the workforce the opinion-shapers. 'Spamalot' seems to have got it just right."

As Wynn says, the goal was never for Vegas to become a Broadway outpost but to maintain an ever-increasing variety of entertainment options. "I think it is important that those of us who are responsible for entertainment in Las Vegas aren't afraid to give the public choice — and to give the public real choice — so the menu continues to be rich and varied. Not everyone that comes here wants to see Cirque and not everyone wants to see musical comedy. But everything should be here for you to enjoy."

These days, no one in Vegas utters the words "Broadway West." There are no more major Broadway productions scheduled to take up residency on the Strip, for now. But "Spamalot's" splashy opening means that, four Broadway-style musicals are running simultaneously on the Strip. Not Broadway, for sure, but still more than any other street in the country.

April Magic

Army Archerd

This is no disappearing act. It's getting bigger every year. The 39th annual Academy of Magical Arts Awards show and banquet will be held April 7 at the Beverly Hilton.

The cohosts are Jason Alexander and Michael Finney. Alexander is also a nominee for an award in the Parlour magic category. The other categories are: Close-Up, Stage, Lecturer and Comedy.

The magician of the year award goes to Cyril who started his career in Hollywood's Magic Castle Junior Magicians' program and he is now touring Japan with his live illusion show. A Lifetime Achievement Fellowship Award will be presented to Carl Ballantine. Steve Martin makes the presentation to Ballantine.

Martin considers Carl a prime influence on his comic style and sensibility. He is considered the godfather of comedy magic by magicians everywhere. As "The Amazing Ballantine," his unique act is magic -- that goes awry. We've seen him perform over the years from the Ed Sullivan Show to Steve Allen to niteries around the world. His magic and humor remain international.

There are also a couple of pics at Wireimage and at Filmmagic.

Posted by KMT
Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Steve gets sorta political
Page Six
Richard Johnson
April 3, 2007

'snl' Candidate

LIVE from New York, it's Chris Dodd? The Connecticut senator laughed it up with the "Saturday Night Live" crew the other night when singer/songwriter Paul Simon hosted a fund-raiser at his Central Park West pad, raising about $100,000 for Dodd's presidential bid. Longtime "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels led a klatsch of compadres including "wild and crazy" guy Steve Martin along with current "SNL" stars Maya Rudolph, Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler.

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