Saturday, November 7, 2015

Theatre Communications Group Fetes Brian Dennehy and 31 Years of Its Magazine; LaMama's CultureHub Latest Batch of Avant-Garde, Multimedia Experiences

Fiana Toibin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Dennehy,in "Long Day's Journey Into Night." Archive photo.


is much to celebrate, and the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) is doing it in style.

TCG will host its annual benefit on Monday (9 Nov.) at the Edison Ballroom, this year honoring actor Brian Dennehy. The group is also celebrating three-plus decades of its publication, “American Theatre” magazine.

BD is a much celebrated and multi-award winning actor, whose Tony wins include Best Actor for “Long Day's Journey Into Night” and “Death of a Salesman.” In 2010, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. He is also a veteran film and TV actor.

About the TCG honor, BD has said, “Theatre has always been my principal home and I feel greatly honored by TCG for what really amounts to a lifetime achievement award.”

Meanwhile, over its 31-year history the American Theatre magazine has been the only general circulation publication devoted to theater. With a readership of 50,000 in print, and a new online presence, (more than 100,000 monthly pageviews), the magazine continues to thrive.

Special recognition will be given to founding editor Jim O’Quinn, who served as editor-in–chief for 313 issues of American Theatre, publishing thousands of articles and more than 150 full-length plays. The first issue of the magazine featured Sam Shepard on its cover, while JO’Q’s final issue cover featured the cast of “Hamilton.”

The latest issue of "American Theatre" is available in print or online.

“The Gala is also an opportunity to take a celebratory breath and measure our own accomplishments over the past year,” said TCG executive director Teresa Eyring. “The Gala not only celebrates that work, but helps us make an even greater impact in 2016.”

As is the case with such events, those involved in the planning include the crème de la crème of the profession. Among those listed on the gala’s honorary committee are playwrights Ayad Akhtar, David Henry Hwang, Sarah Ruhl and Suzan-Lori Parks.

Visit to learn more about the Theatre Communications Group 2015 Gala Evening.

Coming up at CultureHub, Works From Komuna// Warszawa and Refest

A scene from Komuna// Warszawa's "Dune 1965." Photos courtesy of Komuna// Warszawa.

LA MAMA, synonymous with avant-garde theater since its inception in the 1960s, continues to experiment.

CultureHub, LaMama's art and technology incubator that explores the intersection between art and technology, is dedicated to bringing interactive, multimedia, immersive and innovative experiences to audiences.

The 2015 season offers a stirring array of events with new art projects that incorporate everything from digital art, gaming and programming.

"Paradise Now? The Living Theatre Re//Mix" from Komuna Warszawa.

Up soon is the Polish indie-theater company, Komuna// Warszawa, with "Paradise Now? The Living Theatre Re//Mix" (19 Nov.) and "Dune 1965" (21 Nov.). The latter is inspired by an essay on Frank Herbert.

Another highlight of the season is Refest, a hybrid performance and new media festival, which examines the idea of “The Network” (11 -13 Dec.)

Visit to learn more about CultureHub programs.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

@NYCWFF Day 3: On LOCAL Scene, Nuttiness, Spiciness, Creaminess and Craft Business at 'Fromage Fete' and 'Cigars & Spirits'

From Nettle Meadow Farm and Cheese Company, kunik with bacon and apple. Photos by Yours Truly.

SOMEONE’S palate is getting a gentle massage. The masseuse is a cheese made from the milk of a goat and the cream of a Jersey cow.

The semi-soft/semi-hard cheese has many unidentifiable flavors. They are well-balanced however, and the end result is a deliciousness that has a smooth finish.

The Kunik (white rind and tangy, buttery flavor) from Nettle Meadow Farm and Cheese Company is a winner. In fact, it was the 2010 Triple Crème Blue Ribbon Winner at the American Cheese Society’s annual North American cheese contest. (

The Kunik is one of a dozen or so cheeses on offer at Fromage Fete at Norwood, (the private club for creative types in Chelsea.) A part of the LOCAL series that focuses on craft and artisanal creations, the cheese-tasting is one of the new events at NYCWFF this year.

LOCAL, as it regards Fromage Fete, means both artisanal and regional. The cheeses are produced within a narrowly defined radius of New York City. Nettle Meadow is based in the southern Adirondacks, while Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse is located in New Jersey. (

Like all of the cheesemongers here at Fromage Fete, Bobolink makes product that is free of harmful additives and preservatives. Its Jean-Louis, named for the late Jean-Louis Palladin, is slightly tart and made from 100 percent raw cow’s milk cheese. (See video below).

This Breecher's Handmade Cheese is a combination of two bold varieties.

Owned by Nina and Jonathan Livingston, Bobolink also raises animals for their meat and makes bread, such as the cranberry walnut they are pairing with the Jean-Louis. According to NL, many people who have problems digesting bread do not have that experience with the Bobolink brands. The breads are made from tall grains and organically grown, locally sourced ingredients wherever possible.

Ensconced in a corner nook on the second floor of Norwood are a couple of cheeses from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. What are some words to describe these varieties from Holstein and Jersey cows? The company has shops in both Seattle and New York City.

Cheese No. 1 has many subtle flavors that are well-balanced. No. 2 cheese, a mixture of cheddar and gruyere, is bodacious. The cheddar leads with a sharpness that is tempered in part by the nuttiness of gruyere. A dynamic duo. (

Elsewhere, on the third day of NYCWFF is another item on the menu of the LOCAL series, “Cigars & Spirits.” A spirited conversation took place with Bill Paley about his La Palina Cigars. The company was built by his grandfather under the name of Congress Cigar Company near the turn of the 20th century and revived by BP under the new moniker in this current one. (

Bill Paley's La Palina Cigars have a surprising backstory.

Just as interesting as the La Palina “Pasha” (mild-to-medium body, with well-balanced flavors that go toward spicey and sweet. Country/Territory: Bahamas; Wrapper: Ecuador or Costa Rica; Binder: Costa Rica; Filler: Honduras and Nicaragua), for instance, is the cigar company's role in another remarkable American discovery.

BP’s father, William, armed with a Wharton MBA and a love jones for radio, sponsors a Philadelphia radio show that spawns increased sales of La Palina cigars. Then, WP buys several Philly radio stations. Said radio stations were operating when a new medium – television – was born. His radio stations are the antecedents of the Columbia Broadcasting System aka CBS. Yes, BP (William Jr.) is the son of the William S. Paley!

This calls for a drink, and Alexei Beratis obliges with his favorite, Small Batch, from the Four Roses Bourbon suite. (

Alexei Beratis and his beloved companion, Small Batch.

“Small Batch” is a bold, saucy little thing. It sucker punches the palate, gliding smoothly away, until the next sip. Then it does it all over again. AB describes it more elegantly: It is redolent of caramel, berries, spice and has a soft, smooth, long finish. Precisely. Think of it, too, as a favorite rollercoaster ride. Each trip is the same – exhilarating and thrilling.

Of course, both should be undertaken in moderation.

Other goodies on tap today, Last Day of 2015 NYCWFF: Justin Warner’s Laws of Cooking…And How to Break Them, Joseph Carr Wines: The Best Value in Napa, Grand Tasting, Roast Chicken Master Class hosted by Jonathan Waxman, Whiskey Wisdom with Allen Katz, My Portugal: A Portuguese Cuisine and Beer Pairing, Master Sushi Rolling Class with Morimoto and Mixology Masters

Visit to learn more about the 2014 Food Network Wine & Food Festival, including schedule, tickets and venue.

Visit to learn more about Food Bank For New York City;

Visit to learn more about Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

@NYCWFF 2015: Day 2 BBD's Judged Winner of Burger Bash, But the People Choose Black Tap and Really Like EMMY

The 45-Day Day-Aged Burger is very flavorful, helped by D'Affinois cheese and red wine caramelized onions on a brioche bun. Photos by Yours Truly.

MANY have cheese. And, of course, pork. Collards cole slaw? Yes. Bone marrow is in a couple. Then, there is the one with grits on the side.

All of this culinary convo is about the Blue Moon Burger Bash, a crowd favorite and the main event on the second day 2 of the New York City Wine & Food Festival (No. 8). For the first time, the burger bash features an official mac&cheese emporium, the Smack Down.

The judge’s winner of the burger bash: Second-time contender Ralph Perrazzo for the BBD’s Steamed Double with diced onions and pickles. On the side, BBD’s Garbage Fries (a little bit of everything from the kitchen).

The favorite of Yours Truly is The Standard Cheese Burger from The Standard Grill Why? With lettuce, tomato, pickle and sauce, it is a reminder of the classic American hamburger. No frills, thank you very much.

The people’s choice winner: Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer by Joe Isidori. Runners-up are Shake Shack and another favorite of mine, Matthew Hyland’s EMMY Burger (from Emily).

It boasts dry-aged beef, EMMY sauce, sautéed onions, Grafton cheddar and cornichon on a Tom Cat pretzel bun. That melted cheddar takes it to another good place.

Among the more than 20 competitors are some really good burgers. Listed through out this dispatch are the burger the ingredient{s} that brought it.

From The Standard Grill, a simply, delicious hamburger.

Some of the stuff on tap today, Day 3 of NYCWFF: Stacked: Sandwiches and Sides, Rose Brunch, Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate, New York Yankees Pinstripe Brunch, Washington State Wine Road Trip hosted by Rob Bigelow, A Dinner with Sebastiano Lombardi of Hotel Il Pellicano and Mark Ladner, Caviar, Champagne and Cocktails, WSJ+ Talk: Why We Love Meat, Ramen Party and Midnight Jazz Breakfast

EMMY BURGER (the melted Grafton cheese)

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (the people's choice winner)

Lil BRGs (combo of Wagyu beef, special sauce and jalapeno cheddar grits)

BBD's Steamed Double (the judges' winner)

Visit to learn more about the 2014 Food Network Wine & Food Festival, including schedule, tickets and venue.

Visit to learn more about Food Bank For New York City;

Visit to learn more about Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

@NYFF53 Closing Film: Traveling 'Miles Ahead' and Taking Wild Detours With Don Cheadle

Miles kin: Vincent Wilburn, Jr. (nephew), Cheryl Davis and Erin Davis (children) after the press and industry screening of "Miles Ahead." Photos by Yours Truly.

DON Cheadle and Aaron Sorkin are on the same page in their approach to the biopic.

Both are on the record, emphatically stating their lack of interest in a "cradle-to-grave” treatment.

An approach in the case of "Miles Ahead" that will surely raise hackles among those expecting the expected and grousing about what has been left out. In a work that was never meant to be exhaustive, incidentally.

“It would be done better as a documentary," DC said about that traditional approach to "Miles Ahead" during the press conference after the press and industry screening of the film, which was attended by several MD family members.

The Miles Davis biography, the closing film of the 53rd New York Film Festival, has its world premiere this evening. Not only does DH star as MD, he also directed the film and co-wrote the script.

AS gets a writer's credit on a film about another controversial, visionary cat: the eponymous “Steve Jobs,” the NYFF53 centerpiece (

The ending of "Miles Ahead" features a modern-day Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, both MD collaborators. In fact, HH arranged the music for "Miles Ahead."

Implied at the end is a perpetuity that pays homage to MD's musical philosophy. It will surely set tongues a-wagging. Note the words on the back of his vest.

Both writers have delivered bios that are anything but linear. In “Miles Ahead, DC uses as a jumping-off point, MD's seclusion in his apartment once upon a time in the 70s, supposedly finishing his next album, the first in a long spell.

He is also agitating to get paid by Columbia Records while being dogged by “Rolling Stone” magazine reporter Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor), a composite character, according to DC.

Do pay attention, because the action in "Miles Ahead" does not take place sequentially. Recall that it is non-linear. A troubled man is looking back on his life, recalling triumphs and regrets.

At any given point, Miles' reminiscences may go back a few weeks, then a couple of decades, then forward a decade.

Now, forward two decades, back one, forward one, back one, back one, forward one and back two and so on.

Producer Pamela Hirsch, Vincent Wilburn, Jr. (nephew), producer Lenore Zerman and Erin Davis (son) after the press and industry screening of 'Miles Ahead."

It's as if someone is on an acid high. Credit to John Axelrad for such scythe-like editing, particularly of the boxing match scene.

Superimposed over the melee is an image of DC as MD playing his horn in a happier time. A beautiful piece of chaos in motion.

Much has been made of the fact that DC looks nothing like MD, except for coloring. Many have wondered how he would pull it off.

Well, DC – a quiet unassuming artist, has nailed MD – a tortured, talented, temperamental artist – with little makeup, a spot-on rasp and massive acting chops. Five or 10 minutes into “Miles Ahead,” DC becomes MD and it's on.

This is what good actors do. They inhabit a character and through some sleight of body only known to them, become the character right before our very eyes.

The result is a wild, sometimes wacky, fantastical thrill ride with a pulsing soundtrack.

Visit to learn more about the 53rd New York Film Festival, including showtimes and venues.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

@NYFF53 Day 14: Sublime Expressions of Love, Laughter and Loss in 'Heart of a Dog'

Lolabelle is the star of "Heart of a Dog." Photo from "Heart of a Dog" Facebook page.

IT is difficult to watch “Heart of a Dog” and not leave with a smile on your face and a smirk on your heart.

Visual artist, musician, director Laurie Anderson weaves anecdotes about her beloved, rat terrier, Lolabelle,” into observations and reflections on post-911 New York City, growing up as well as sundry other matters.

The film debuts this evening at the 53rd New York Film Festival.

“Heart of a Dog” is at once a visual essay and an epic poem on the level of the Iliad. Indeed, it relies heavily on figures of speech associated with poetry – metaphors, similes, anaologies – to tell a story about love and loss via myriad avenues.

Often in “Heart of a Dog,” LA spends considerable time discussing a seemingly unrelated topic until perhaps midway she connects the dots. It's akin to freefalling on a roller coaster, then at the last minute being swept upward. It is an exhilarating thrill ride.

A major character in “Heart of a Dog,” a commissioned by Arte, is LA’s narration. Hers is the voice of a raconteur. A light night deejay. Her vocals, backed by a dreamy soundtrack, hypnotize the listener, lulling and pulling her/him in to this wonderland.

Elsewhere, the visual aides and animation – veterinary hospital scenes, New York neighborhoods, ice skaters, hawks flying overhead, document storage facilities – are quite potent, highlighting LA’s skill as a visual artist. Two mediums are at work simultaneously – one a film, the other a shifting/ever-changing painting.

Though a times this mosaic is amorphous, it is never not wonderful. Even as it veers toward the incomprehensible, "Heart of a Dog" gently wills the viewer to tag alone, promising a fascinating discovery.

The most powerful and wonderful imagery of all, however, is of the lovely, loyal, talented Lolabelle.

Visit to learn more about the 53rd New York Film Festival, including showtimes and venues.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

@NYFF53 Day 13: An Unexpected Goodbye To Chantal Ackerman ('No Home Movie'); Goodbye of Another Kind in 'The Measure of a Man'

The life's work of the late Chantal Akerman revolved around her mother. Photo from Chantal Akerman Facebook page.

Expect a somber tone this evening at the 53rd New York Film Festival, owing to the recent death of director Chantal Akerman.

Her latest film, “No Home Movie,” has its U.S. premiere. CA was expected to appear at the screening.

Now, film critic Amy Taubin will introduce the film, chronicling CA’s conversations with her mother, Natalia, an Auschwitz survivor. Natalia, the subject of virtually all of CA’s work, died last year shortly after “No Home Movie” was completed.

Tonight’s mood will not be aided by Stephane Brize’s “The Measure of a Man (“La Loi du marché”).

Like “Mia Madre (“My Mother,”, another NYFF53 entry, its theme is so universal and au courant that it provides no distraction for viewers looking for escape.

Making its North American debut, “The Measure of a Man” catalogs the perverse experiences of an everyday family man after he is laid off from his longtime job.

Vincent Lindon is brilliant as Thierry, a decent sort who cannot catch a break. One feels his pain in his bewildered countenance and slightly hunched shoulders. His performance is explosive in that it is quiet, controlled, contained. How much more can he take before he explodes or implodes?

Vincent Lindon as Thierry in "The Measure of a Man." Photo from "The Measure of a Man" Facebook page.

Thierry does strike back, however – striking a blow for humanity – when the indignities become too great.

Visit to learn more about the 53rd New York Film Festival, including showtimes and venues.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

@NYFF53 Day 12: Adulterous Affairs Mark 'In the Shadow of Women'; Reminiscing in 'Don't Blink - Robert Frank'

Robert Frank at work in the laboratory. Photo from "Don't Blink - Robert Frank" Facebook page.

TWO films premiering this evening at the 53rd New York Film Festival concern adultery and a legendary American photographer, respectively

The latest from French director Philippe Garrel is
“In the Shadow of Women.

Meanwhile, frequent Robert Frank collaborator Laura Israel was given unprecedented access to the man in “Don’t Blink –Robert Frank.”

Both directors will stick around after the screening for a Q@A.

Visit to learn more about the 53rd New York Film Festival, including showtimes and venues.
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