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What's New on the Rialto

Past Articles

What's New on the Rialto

Hollywood Musicals

Now that we're in the midst of the summer doldrums, I thought it would be a good time to check out my musical video collection. What better way to spend a lazy summer evening than watching Angela Lansbury in Mame or Carol Channing in Hello Dolly or better yet, Ethel Merman in Gypsy.

What's that you say? These videos don't exist? Well,....er, sorry, but I just had to whet your appetite with the luscious thought of What If? What if Hollywood had included the original stars in the movies?

Seems like a pretty good idea. Especially since, without the original stars, all of the shows listed above were made into movies that ranged from only a moderate success to certified flops at the box office.

It's almost as though Hollywood doesn't want to make money. So why does Hollywood keep making the same mistake?

The New York Times answered it well last month when they quoted two executives in the entertainment industry on the failure of musicals. : "Where movies have gone wrong," said Neil Meron, citing ‘Star,' ‘Hello Dolly,' ‘A Chorus Line,' ‘Mame,' ‘Dr. Doolittle,' ‘Annie,' and ‘Newsies,' is in miscasting" (Lucille Ball in ‘Mame' and Barbra Streisand in ‘Hello, Dolly' for example) "and poor filmmaking." "They blame the genre rather than the flm itself," said Mr. Meron.

Bernard Weinraub, author of the piece, then quotes Craig Zadan as saying, "If an action film fails, no one says, ‘Let's stop making action films. But if a musical fails, it's like cutting our throats."

Don't they ever learn?

And now there's The Phantom of the Opera movie being raked over the not-so-brightly burning coals of Hollywood. The producers are once again promising (or is that threatening?) to produce the movie version. As for the promise, the role was originally to go to Tony-winning Michael Crawford. The threat lies in the Hollywood mentality. With Crawford racking up almost unprecedented money for the PBS with a special he did just a year ago, and his successful concert tour in three countries, not to mention 13 million copies of his superb voice and acting skills on the original London cast album, Hollywood is still waffling around playing the name game. A Hollywood "stud puppy" with no Tony is what they're looking for.

THE OOOPS! FACTOR

We fans lost out on Mame, Man of LaMancha, Evita, and A Chorus Line, to name a few. And now Hollywood may be about to lose out by sinking The Phantom of the Opera to the depths of the underground lake.

Dare we hope for the Phantom movie with Michael Crawford's sublimely sensuous voice and Tony-winning acting? Will we ever have that collectible video?

One group, The Michael Crawford Phantom Movie Campaign (TMCPMC), is working hard to bring the movie musicals out of the doldrums and give the fans the hit both they and Hollywood want. TMCPMC is making waves that are rapidly turning into a tsunami.

Now, before you think this group is comprised of a bunch of whackos or obsessed fans, think again. Diane Flogerzi, an executive at the F.A.A., organized TMCPMC a little over a year ago and since then has received some major press including a feature article in today's Los Angeles Times. We've also seen a few full page ads in Variety and a mention on the Howie Mandel show.

One thing is clear in talking with Flogerzi is that she and her group are not anti-Banderas or anti-Travolta. They are simply pro-Crawford. It is also clear that people are beginning to listen as their collective voice is being heard by Really Useful Group, Webber, Warner Brothers, and even Crawford who has stated he would love to do the film. Crawford must be enjoying the notoriety, however, he is not affiliated with the movie campaign people nor has he endorsed their activities.

Flogerzi promises more ads in Variety, more fund-raising, more letter campaigns in her and her group's efforts to persuade Hollywood not to make the same mistakes of the past. Will they succeed? Well, that remains to be seen, but I think they've succeeded in making their voices heard and for that they are to be commended.

Tidbits:

BULLETIN from our Broadway's 50 Greatest Stars ballot committee: "With just over 94% of the ballots in and calculated, it looks like one of the 'write in' nominee names has not only made it on the top 50 list, but could very well end up in the top 10, if not in position number 1!." The complete list will debut on Talkin' Broadway Thursday, July 1.

Chita Rivera, originally scheduled to star in Chicago out Las Vegas way through August, will give her final performance on July 4th. She's headed to London where she'll play Roxie through October. After that, Broadway? It's not like she hasn't been asked. Stay tuned. Marilu Henner takes over for Rivera in Las Vegas on July 6.

Hello Possums! Low-priced preview tickets are now on sale for Dame Edna and her Royal Tour opening at the Booth on Oct. 17. Previews begin Sept. 15. Tele-Charge 212-239-6200.

Take This Show and Shove It! closed on June 24th at the 13th Street Theatre. "A redneck Mama, her two horny daughters, and tacky drag queen son duke it out on stage in this white trash musical." Now, how did I ever miss that? However, Line is still playing there. I can't believe it was 23 years ago that I did this show at the very same theater.

See you next Sunday!


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