Press Releases Archive for October, 2007

A Catered Affair in San Diego

October 17, 2007 The horror, of course, is that the sheer energy of crap like Legally Blonde and a single thematic song – in that case “Oh My God” – can drive a show to a lot of audience for a long time. And something much more ambitious and thoughtful, like A Catered Affair, will…

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Young Frankenstein In Seattle – Detailed, Spoiler Notes

August 29, 2007 This is the follow-up to Monday’s spoiler-free review column on Young Frankenstein, now out-of-towning in Seattle. Don’t read a word if you want to maintain a show surprise, though most of it is set by the movie we all know so well. ACT ONE Scene 1: A Village In Transylvania, 1934 “Frankenstein…

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Young Frankenstein In Seattle – Spoiler Free

August 27, 2007 The thrill and the horror of Young Frankenstein is that it, unlike The Producers, has the feel of the giant machine shows that have been hitting Broadway in recent years. For instance, the current Grease revival – generated not by the need for a revival, but as a guaranteed pre-sale based on…

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Not So Under The Sea

Sept 5, 2007 There is no drama like theater people throwing gossip around about the latest show they hope goes down the drain. When shows fail, the gossip is “I told you so.” When the gossiped about shows hit, they suddenly forget that there was any fuss at all. The latest show to get bashed…

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Hairspray: The Musical Movie

July 13, 2007 I first saw it in a slightly premature screening – New Line was thrilled with what was delivered – and the show was so charming and sweet that it was pretty irresistible. Still, there were flaws that stuck out, the most frustrating being that Adam Shankman is a better choreographer than a…

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The Unexpected Pleasure Of Xanadu

June 29, 2007 I saw the biggest new hit to land Off-Broadway in years. Unfortunately for the show, it’s opening on Broadway next Tuesday. Xanadu, which I bought tickets for after a half-price opportunity showed up in the e-mail and have been apologizing for since whenever answering “what are you seeing in New York?,” turns…

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Press Releases

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook