Weird and witty ‘Birthday’ is worth celebrating at American Conservatory Theater

We don’t know much, and what little we’re told seems hard to believe.

The sad little boarding house in “The Birthday Party” at American Conservatory Theater only has one lodger, and we’re told he’s been there a year, but the woman who runs the house talks about him like he’s been there much longer. Lodger Stanley (Firdous Bamji) supposedly used to be a professional pianist, but his story keeps changing, and the his eyes dart around sure makes it seem like he’s lying.

Then two sinister men come looking for Stanley because of something he’s supposedly done, but the closer they come to talking about what that thing might be, the more their dialogue starts descending into nonsense.

The 1958 play by Harold Pinter — his first full-length play, in fact — is as bewitching as it is mysterious. It’s also the last show Carey Perloff is directing before she steps down as artistic director, though a successor has not yet been named.

“The Birthday Party” became the first Pinter play produced in the United States when San Francisco’s Actor’s Workshop did it in 1960. Although this is the first time ACT has produced it, Perloff directed it in 1989 at Classic Stage Company in New York, with the now-deceased playwright in the room. She’s shown a real affinity for Pinter in several productions at ACT, including “Old Times” (1998), “The Homecoming” (2011) and a double bill of “Celebration” and “The Room” (2001). Previous to Perloff’s tenure, the only Pinter the company had done had been “Old Times” in 1984.

What really stands out in her production is how funny the play can be. Some of that is certainly due to two-time Tony Award winner Judith Ivey’s delightfully dotty performance as Meg, the landlady, with her singsong voice and blithe enthusiasm as she dotes on …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

‘The Alienist’ star Dakota Fanning talks women’s roles, workplace harassment and standing up to injustice

Start your day with the news you need from the Bay Area and beyond.
Sign up for our new Morning Report weekday newsletter.

“Roles are always changing,” says Dakota Fanning.

That’s certainly true for the actress, who turns 24 next month. She began acting in TV and films at the age of six and came to prominence in 2001’s “I Am Sam,” earning a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination when she was eight, making her the youngest nominee in history.

Now she plays a key role in “The Alienist,” TNT’s highly anticipated, 10-part series based on Caleb Carr’s 1994 best-selling novel of the same name. Set in 1896 during New York City’s Gilded Age, this series follows Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl), a brilliant but controversial “alienist,” who is using new methods to treat mental illness.

The ritualistic murder of a young boy leads him to believe a serial killer is on the loose in the city, but the police are unmoved because homosexuality is involved, forcing Kreizler to reach out to the police commissioner, future President Teddy Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty), so he can pursue the case.

Fanning, who is part of the upcoming all-female “Ocean’s 8,” plays Roosevelt’s secretary, Sara Howard, who is from a wealthy family but is dying to do something more with her life. When the chance arises, she secretly helps Kreizler, and he, recognizing a keen mind, enlists her in his investigation.

As the only woman in the police department, Sara is constantly harassed, and in the first episode she faces an incident that sounds right out of today’s headlines when one of her colleagues purposely exposes himself to her. (It’s TNT, so thankfully it’s only implied.)

“It makes you wonder what’s been going wrong for the last hundred-some years when it comes to workplace harassment,” says Fanning.

For …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

TV crew tries, and fails, to sneak fake bomb onto plane

By Lori Aratani | Washington Post

Nine people could face more than $13,000 in fines after authorities said the group tried to sneak a fake bomb through airport security and got caught by Transportation Security Administration officers.

The incident began Thursday at a TSA checkpoint in Terminal One at Newark Liberty International Airport. Investigators said that while some members of the group attempted to carry the bag through security, others “covertly” filmed the encounter. Officers said that the individuals claimed to be affiliated with a television show but could provide no media credentials. The item in question was packed in a roller bag and included a motor, wires and PVC pipes.

Start your day with the news you need from the Bay Area and beyond.
Sign up for our new Morning Report weekday newsletter.

CBS2, citing unnamed sources, reported that the group was associated with the CNBC show “Staten Island Hustle.” The television station said that the production company affiliated with the show, Endemol Shine North America, released a statement late Thursday.

“We are looking into the details of what happened as a matter of priority and are in contact with relevant authorities on the ground,” the statement said. “While this process is ongoing we are unable to comment further but in the meantime, we sincerely apologize for any disruption caused.”

Ruben M. Montenegro, 44, of Staten Island, New York; Samuel Micah Berns, 39, of Hollywood; Jacob M. Towsley, 34, of Portageville, New York; Michael L. Palmer, 51, of Staten Island, New York; William Oaks, 36, of Brooklyn, New York; Philip K. Nakagami, 26, of Jersey City, New Jersey; Carlos F. Gonzalez, 33, of Queens, New York; Timothy Duffy, 34, of Sparta, New Jersey; and Adolfo Lacola, 51, of Staten Island, New York were arrested by Port Authority police. Charges include interference …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

Movies: Hollywood’s winter-spring blockbusters range from ‘Black Panther’ to ‘Ready Player One’

For more than 40 years, Steven Spielberg’s movies have followed a simple release strategy. Without exception, his films have opened either in the summer — a movie-going season he all but invented with the 1975 smash “Jaws” — or toward the end of the year, as awards buzz is heating up.

But when executives at Warner Bros. sat down with the director to discuss the release plan for his latest film — the big-budget sci-fi-action epic “Ready Player One” — they had something different in mind. Set in a near-future dystopia in which people live much of their lives in a virtual-reality realm called the OASIS, Spielberg’s adaptation of the Ernest Cline best-seller has all the bells and whistles of a big, fun summer movie. But the studio wanted to open it in March.

Spielberg went for the idea without hesitation. “He was absolutely supportive from Day 1,” says Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros.

Until fairly recently, such a move would have been almost unthinkable. For decades, spring was largely a dead zone in Hollywood’s release calendar. “In everyone’s minds, there’s the holiday season, there’s awards season, there’s the summer movie season…,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for the data firm ComScore.

But in recent years, the period from Valentine’s Day through the end of April has increasingly become a window for studios to release some of their big films.

This year the spring releases include the climax of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, “Fifty Shades Freed” (Feb. 9); the Marvel film “Black Panther” (Feb. 16); director Ava DuVernay’s fantasy epic “A Wrinkle in Time” (March 9); a reboot of the “Tomb Raider” franchise (March 16), “Ready Player One” (March 30) and the X-Men spin-off “The New Mutants” (April 13).

Lupita Nyong’o, left, Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira in “Black Panther.” (Matt …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

1 2 3 4 117