Archive for the ‘Celebrity Points’ category

Movie Shoot in Greenwich Village

March 18, 2008

If you’re in NYC for any length of time, you start to see these sorts of signs all over the place.  And the prettier/grittier the place, the more often you see them.

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It’s a notice that, if you had parked on this street (Greenwich Street) on Sunday, March 16th, you’d have been towed away.  They’re making a movie called “New York, I Love You”.

Hey, I sympathize with the sentiment.  I checked IMDB and they have this.  At this time, the entry is pretty bare, but it says that 12 filmmakers are making an anthology based on the title’s premise.  The directors and actors seem like a pretty first-rate crew, too.  But, then, I don’t go to movies that often so I only recognized about a third of the names.

But, like I said, I like the sentiment of the title.

I still have a problem with the sentiment of the notice, though.  NYC really lets the movie/TV industry have their way on everything.  I don’t know if I really like giving these guys the right to block off entire streets for hours/days.  But, it does let people see NYC in its best light.

I don’t know where they’re filming, as these signs go up not only next to the location of the shots, but to areas they are going to be parking all of the vehicles used in carrying cameras and food and actors and all.  But, I did see some photogenic looking buildings here.

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Yeah, that’s the same sign.

-H

Theater Row in Hell’s Kitchen…and a bit ‘o the Bard

March 17, 2008

A co-worker alerted me to a new production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. 

So, I thought I ought to go.  And when I heard who was doing it, I really knew I must, absolutely must, go.

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It was TBTB, the acronym for Theater Breaking Through Barriers.  It used to be called the Theater for the Blind.  I’ve never seen any of their productions, but I figured it would be an interesting interpretation.

And it was.  It was more than that.  It was terrific.  I’m not that fond of the play itself (I just don’t enjoy the storyline that much), but their production was nicely done.  You see, they didn’t really play off the idea of the disabilities, but their real gimmick is that they were only going to have four actors playing all of the parts.  That meant that each actor would handle eight or more rolls.  And, on occasion, both rolls are on stage at the same time.  Talking with each other.

And you ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen a blind actor doing quick costume changes to talk with himself…and one of “himselves” is a woman.  Kudos.

The show is at Theater Row in Hell’s Kitchen, 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.  It is my favorite off-off-Broadway venue.  It holds a number of separate smaller theaters (kind of a live theater multiplex) and this play was in The Kirk.  It holds about 100 seats.

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I could only tell disabilities in two of the actors, there was only one blind guy and one who has cerebal palsy.  Another great part is that there was no quarter given to them on account of the disability.  The actor with CP (Gregg Mozgala) had to jump about the stage in his role as Romeo.  The blind actor had to wander the stage and pick up stuff at one point and sword fight at other points.

The Kirk’s inside before the beginning.

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If you look carefully, you may see the wires across the stage floor.  They were used as marks for the blind actor (George Ashiotis).  When he did his switching of roles, it was great.  He did conversations with his off-stage self and would go back and change during it.

But the best switching was done by the lone female (Emily Young).  For a long conversation between Juliet and Paris (she playing both parts), she kept walking back and forth behind a barrier (just behind the small box at the center in the picture above) and putting up her hood to show that she was Paris, or down to show that she was Juliet.  And she kept them straight.  I think we were all at the edge of our seats waiting for a slip, but there was none.

And I say all of this and Nicholas Viselli and Emily Young are probably amazed/amused that I didn’t spot their disabilities (if they have any).  But disabilities weren’t part of the play (although I kept hearing lines about blindness and light that I hadn’t noticed before).  And that was the great thing.  I went to the play expecting to have them put out the lights for a large portion of it to force the audience to “see” the play the way a blind person would, but got a straight-out production of Shakespeare that ignored any limitations.

Oh, and another gimmick that I liked was the idea that they kept putting up Southern and Western accents (and occasional other ones that didn’t work quite as well) into the play.  No British accents, but American ones.  (Viselli’s Texan Mr. Capulet was the best accent.)

Well done.

-H

Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame on 2nd Avenue

February 20, 2008

The Lower East Side was heavily Jewish and German for a long time in the 1800s-1900s.  The people there created their own theater where they spoke and performed in Yiddish.  I don’t know how many theaters there were, but apparently enough to sustain a number of performers throughout their professional lives.

I was on a tour of the LES when, just walking along a part of 2nd Avenue I’ve been on a dozen or more times and the guide pointed out that we were at the Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame.  It’s on the corner of 10th Street right at the Chase Bank.  Apparently it was the site of the famed 2nd Avenue Deli.  Notice the plaques on the ground.

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I did some searching on names and couldn’t find a listing of the “famed”.  So, I’ve decided to put them here for a little bit of posterity.  There’s only one performer that I’ve remember having heard of, but all are of importance in NYC theater history.  I’ve done my best to find appropriate links for the names.  When I wasn’t sure, I made a note of it, but I think they’re pretty solid.  Whether the links will change/vanish over time is a different question.

First, Fyvush Finkel is the only one of a few who has a “solo” star.  His is also one of the most readable.

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Next is the way the rest of them are:  two names sharing a star.  Here’s Jennie Goldstein and Ida Kaminska (she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar).  I’m going to do these as thumbnails because of the volume.  Click on the picture to see the actual star.

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Then Lillian Lux and Pesack Burstein (a wife and husband team, respectively).

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The next star is for Joseph Buloff and Luba Kadison.

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The next star is for Abraham Goldfaden and Michal Michalesko:

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The next star is for Miriam Kressyn and Seymour Rexite (alternative spelling of Seymour Rechzeit):

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Abraham Goldfaden gets a second star, this time for being the founder of the Yiddish Theater in 1876.

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The next star is for “Alt Raymond” and Barry Sisters.  I’m not sure about the spelling of the first name.

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The next star is for Jack Rechtzeit and Mike Burstyn (I couldn’t find anything on Rechtzeit, but Burstyn has his own website).  Of course, it’s possible that “Jack Rechtzeit” and “Seymour Rechtzeit” (cited above) are the same person:

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The next star is for Max Bozyk and Rose Bozyk:

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The next star is for Boris Thomashevsky and Bessie Thomashevsky:

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The next is for Ed Fuchs and Rebecca Richman (I can’t find anything I’m certain is a link for either of them but I suspect this is Rebecca and I wonder about a link I can find for Leo Fuchs and Rebecca Richman and who might “Ed” be if not “Leo”):

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The next star is for Shulon Seckoa (possibly Sholum Secunda) and Peretz Sandler:

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This next one was completely unreadable by me:

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The next is for Molly Picon and Jacob Kalich (Jacob was Molly’s husband, but that’s all I know):

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The next star is for Leon Liebgold and Lilly Lilyana (Leon was a Holocaust survivor):

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The next star is for Mary Sureanu (thanks to reader Elise, the spelling is now corrected) Mary Soreanu and Lucy Levine:

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The next star is for Irving Jacobson and an “unknown” Jacobson:

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The next star is for Ben Bonas/Ben Donus and Mina Bern (it looks like Ben Bonas was Mina’s husband, but that’s a guess as I can find a “Bonas” link to Mina, but it looks like “Donus” on the star but there was a “Ben Bonus” that is also linked to Bern – this was a man of how many names?!):

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The next star is for Ludwig Satz and Moishe Oysher:

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The next star is for David Kessler and Zvi Scooler (also spelled Zvee Scooler, at least so it seems):

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The next star is for Herman Yablokoff and Bella Meisel:

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I’m sad to say that I cannot read the next star:

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The next star is for Alexander Olshanetsky and Abe Ellstein:

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The next star is for Mischa Gehrman and Lucy Gehrman:

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The next star is for Joseph Rumshinsky and Arnold Perlmutter:

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The next star is for Jacob Jacobs and Betty Jacobs:

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The next star is for Maurice Schwartz and an unreadable person’s name:

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The next star is for Henrietta Jacobson and Julius Adler  (wife and husband, respectively.  Their son is Bruce Adler who was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor two years in a row):

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The next star was unreadable:

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And the one after that was unreadable:

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The final star on the Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame is another single-person-on-a-star, Daniel Libeskind, the architect, with the interesting suffix “Friend of Folksbiene” which was the/a theater:

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-H

The 9th Precinct

February 3, 2008

When I was a kid, I enjoyed the old TV show “Kojak” with Telly Savalas.  Recently, I was down in the East Village and ran across the old precinct house that he was supposedly based out of:  the 9th Precinct.

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It’s located on 5th Street between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue.  In the bad-old-days, this area was one of the toughest and most crime ridden places in Manhattan, being right next to Alphabet City.

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I always find it interesting that the police cars are typically parked in the streets instead of a discreet parking lot someplace near.  Of course, a “discrete parking lot” would cost the city about a bazillion dollars, but they don’t even risk parking tickets by just pulling up front.

Below is the entire station house, or at least the front of it.

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The old exterior was also used for the “NYPD Blue” TV show, so it does have even more “history”.  (The Blues was actually supposedly set in the 15th Precinct, but I understand that was a ficticious precinct number.) 

It just went through a lot of recent renovations.  It looks sharp.

-H

The Site of Richard Adan’s Murder

January 29, 2008

I know virtually nothing about who Richard Adan was other than an aspiring actor and a waiter at a small restaurant called the Binibon.  I remember hearing about the circumstances of his murder back in July 1981 and the huge uproar regarding his death.

I lead this section talking about him simply as a matter of citing the victim rather than the perpetrator.  You don’t want to celebrate Jack Abbott too much; he already has a Wikipedia entry and probably a hundred books cite him in some way.  Anyway, Abbott committed suicide in 2002.

Richard Adan was trying to be helpful to Abbott when Abbott asked to use the restroom and was informed it was for employees only.  Apparently he said Abbott should “take it outside” which might have been meant as use an alley or building side for a urinal (NYC was that kind of place back then); but Abbott apparently took as an invitation to fight.  When Adan led him outside, Abbott knifed him to death.

Most people probably don’t know who Jack Abbott was, despite the extremely brief celebrity of the man.  He was a lifelong criminal apparently with high intelligence and a gift for language.  He wrote a book called “In the Belly of the Beast” in which he put forth his anger and frustration with great talent and fanfare.  The New York Times published a glowing review of his book the morning after he murdered Richard Adan.

And the lifelong criminal would have been behind bars during the time of the murder if not for one of 2007’s most celebrated celebrities hadn’t made every possible effort to get Abbott released:  Norman Mailer (who died in 2007).

Maybe Richard Adan’s life would have made him someone that Mailer would have enjoyed.  He was also an author, but one cut short.  I have no knowledge of Adan, but am weary at the idea that both Abbott and Mailer have Wikipedia articles, but Adan doesn’t.

Enough of the ennui.  I’ve spent a couple of weekends touring the Lower East Side/East Village and the below was pointed out to me as the site of the murder.  The Binibon is gone, but I’m told is where the “Join or Die” sign is now on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 5th Street.

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-H