KAREN KINGSBURY’S MAGGIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Premieres: Sunday, December 10th 9/8c
Stars Jill Wagner & Luke Mcfarlane
Megan spent one unforgettable summer with a boy when they were teens and she’s never forgotten his magical definition of love. Now a high-powered attorney in New York and a single mother, her young son unexpectedly connects them again.
KAREN KINGSBURY’S MAGGIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Estrenos: domingo, 10 de diciembre 9 / 8c
Equipo Jill Wagner y Luke Mcfarlane
Megan pasó un verano inolvidable con un niño cuando eran adolescentes y nunca ha olvidado su definición mágica de amor. Ahora es un abogado de gran poder en Nueva York y madre soltera, su hijo pequeño los conecta de nuevo inesperadamente.
KAREN KINGSBURY’S MAGGIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Premiere: domenica 10 dicembre 9 / 8c
Cast Jill Wagner & Luke Mcfarlane
Megan ha trascorso un’estate indimenticabile con un ragazzo quando erano adolescenti e non ha mai dimenticato la sua magica definizione dell’amore. Ora sono un importante avvocato di New York e una madre single, il cui giovane figlio li riunisce inaspettatamente.
KAREN KINGSBURY’S MAGGIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Premières: Dimanche 10 décembre 9 / 8c
Cast Jill Wagner et Luke Mcfarlane
Megan a passé un été inoubliable avec un garçon quand ils étaient adolescents et elle n’a jamais oublié sa définition magique de l’amour. Maintenant un avocat de grande puissance à New York et une mère célibataire, son jeune fils les connecte de nouveau à l’improviste.
We here at Horror Fuel have been tracking Rock Paper Dead since back in 2015. The film was written by Kerry Fleming and Victor Miller (Friday the 13th), directed by Tom Holland (Child’s Play), and produced by Fleming and Amy Williams. After interviewing both Fleming and Miller, we could not wait to see the final film. That day has finally come. Earlier today, I sat back and pushed play with my fingers crossed that the film would be everything I had hoped for. Luckily, it was.
In the beginning of the film, we witness Peter Harris (Luke Macfarlane) execute a woman he has kidnapped just as the police bust down his door. The girl’s identity will play a major part in the film later on. After serving time at a psychiatric hospital he is deemed cured by Dr. Evelyn Bauer (Tatum O’Neal) and released. However, the arresting officer Doyle Dechert, played by Micahel Madsen, is not convinced Peter is actually cured and sets out to keep an eye on him.
When Ashley (Jennifer Titus) moves next door (on purpose) Dechert explains to her that Peter is dangerous. While she claims to be a reporter seeking to write a book about Peter, that’s far from who she truly is. In reality, she is the sister of Peter’s last victim before being put away and she’s hell-bent on revenge. Ashley has spent her life training to go toe-to-toe with the killer and avenge her sister’s death.
After Peter agrees to let her write the book the two begin to spend a lot of time together much to the chagrin of detective Dechert. The more time they spend together the more a strange attraction/hatred develops between the two. Peter’s urges grow to slip on that doll mask and sharpen his blade.
During his last writing sessions with Ashley, the truth of Peter’s tormented past comes out. It is revealed that he began life as a normal child before being sent to live with his uncle Charles (John Dugan). We witness the pain and damage inflicted by Charles in flashbacks. When it comes to the question of nature vs. nurture, the film implies that Peter’s sickness is mostly due to the way he was raised and his experiences, though nature does play an important part as well.
Peter could no longer fight the urge and attacked Ashley. This is where I swear not spoil the ending and trust me, you don’t want me too.
I will say this, don’t piss off actress Jennifer Titus (Zoombies) (interview). She’s a badass. In all seriousness though, she was great as Ashley. She captured the anger her character felt for Peter perfectly. The fact that her role was so physical and knowing the fact that she was acting and fighting just weeks after major shoulder surgery left me with a new respect for her as an actress.
Mcfarlane truly shines. He plays crazy so very well. You could tell the character was “off” but Mcfarlane never goes overboard like so many actors do. His character Peter came across both sick and sympathetic which was a strange feeling. He is a killer after all. Luke was fantastic. A new horror icon is born.
The scenes with Uncle Charles (John Dugan) left me feeling gross, but that’s not a bad thing. The definition of horror is: “an intense feeling of fear, shock or disgust” and they hit it right on the head. Even though Dugan does not appear often or at length in the film he left a lasting impression.
Anna Margaret (Scream Queens), Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch, Passions), and Gabrielle Stone (Death House), Ari Lehman (Friday the 13th), Stephanie Shamie (The Redeemer), Courtlyn Cannan (Till Human Voices Wake Us), Ryan Sadowsky (She’s Gotta Have It), and newcomer Kane Rocca co-star.
The twist at the end as fantastic and unexpected, a brilliant choice. It leaves the film open for a sequel, which I’m happy about. The good news is that Rock Paper Dead is only the first film of a trilogy, so we will get to see the story continue for several years to come. Fleming recently told me that the next film will be more deranged, brutal, and I can’t wait to see more!
My final verdict? Rock Paper Dead is a unique, interesting film filled with suspense and horror. After first hearing about the film two years ago, following its development, and finally getting to see the complete film I can tell you that it was worth the wait. I strongly recommend that you see Rock Paper Dead the moment the film is released. Luckily, you won’t have to wait very long. Rock Paper Dead will hold its world premiere this weekend at the Nightmares Film Festival in Ohio. As soon as a general release date is announced we will let you know. In the meantime follow the film on Facebook for regular updates, screening information and more.
Source: Horror Fuel
Hi. I’ve just added some candids from “Big Night”, thanks to Amanda Panda. You can find them in the Photo Gallery.
Hola. Acabo de añadir fotos de “Big Night”, gracias a Amanda Panda. Puedes encontrarlas en la Galería de Fotos (Photo Gallery).
Ciao. Ho appena inserito foto da “Big Night”, grazie a Amanda Panda. Potete trovarle nella Galleria Fotografica (Photo Gallery).
Salut. Je viens d’ajouter unes photos de “Big Night”, merci à Amanda Panda. Vous pouvez les trouver dans la Galerie de photos (Photo Gallery).
Hi. I’ve just added photos from “Big Night”. You can find them in the Photo Gallery.
Hola. Acabo de añadir fotos de “Big Night”. Puedes encontrarlas en la Galería de Fotos (Photo Gallery).
Ciao. Ho appena inserito foto da “Big Night”. Potete trovarle nella Galleria Fotografica (Photo Gallery).
Salut. Je viens d’ajouter unes photos de “Big Night”. Vous pouvez les trouver dans la Galerie de photos (Photo Gallery).
Reviewed by Katie Buenneke
Kirk Douglas Theatre
Through October 8
Big Night is a play with aspirations bigger than it can deliver on. The new work by playwright Paul Rudnick wants to make grand statements and provoke gnarly debates about important social issues, but complex issues need to be explored carefully — they’re not best served by being glossed over to get to the next Big Idea, a trap Big Night falls into all too often.
The show follows Michael (Brian Hutchison), an actor who’s been struggling and playing bit parts for years. He’s finally been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, much to the delight of his agent, Cary (Max Jenkins). It’s the night of the show, and Michael is freaking out. His nephew, Eddie (Tom Phelan), who is trans, wants Michael to use his speech — when and if he wins — to make a statement to the LGBT community. Michael, who is gay and in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Austin (Luke Macfarlane) isn’t sure if tonight is the right night to do that. Meanwhile, Michael’s mom, Esther (Wendie Malick), who willingly shoehorns herself into the role of a stereotypical Jewish mother, mostly wants to make the night all about her.
The first half of the play moves along well, with an almost sitcom-like pacing of quips and zippy punchlines. The writing feels a bit too expository — the characters spend a lot of time saying what they’re thinking and delivering monologues about backstory. Still. Cary, Michael’s agent, has so many great one-liners that it’s easy to forgive those faults.
But then the play takes a turn. Michael learns that there’s been a shooting at the Los Angeles LGBT center, where Austin is. Michael wins the Oscar, but it’s bittersweet, and the rest of the evening is somber. It’s a moment that feels directly inspired by last summer’s shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, which occurred the same day as the Tony Awards, and similarly cast a long shadow over that awards show.
Unfortunately, this is when the play loses its footing. The characters, who didn’t feel very three-dimensional to start with, retreat further into tropes. Eddie becomes the angry young radical who is barely won over by common sense. Eleanor (Kecia Lewis), who’s there with Michael’s mother, is solely defined by her past trauma and her Pulitzer Prize. Esther — well, she still wants to make it all about her, and she has some truly cringe-worthy moments of white feminism (really, it’s not always about you) and, even worse, outright racism and transphobia. Perhaps Rudnick thinks it’s alright to make racist and transphobic jokes, as long as they’re coming from a character the audience isn’t supposed to like, but there’s something about the context of the “jokes” that doesn’t make them feel very much like joke. It seems like the audience is expected to laugh along, and secretly agree that, yes, Muslims are the problem!
Perhaps it’s telling that the three most important figures in the second half are the play’s least compelling. Michael, as a character, is a bland everyman, while neither Macfarlane nor Malick seems comfortable in their roles. Macfarlane reads as stilted, as if he’s delivering his lines and hitting his marks (which are pretty obvious under Walter Bobbie’s direction — he literally turns his back on the others so he can look out to the audience and deliver the most emotional moment in one of his monologues).
Malick, meanwhile, trips over her lines, and comes across nervous as an actor, yet not neurotic enough in her character. Given the chance, Eddie and Eleanor could be interesting, but neither Phelan nor Lewis is given much to work with from the script. Indeed, it’s Jenkins’ Cary, who doesn’t talk much throughout the second half, who makes the biggest overall impression, likely due to his great comedic timing.
There are some truly funny moments in Big Night, and it’s commendable that the playwright is trying to tackle big issues — he just doesn’t tackle any of those issues particularly well. The play makes half-baked statements about gun control, base desires for revenge, and what it means to have a platform to speak out about important social issues. Ultimately, however, Rudnick does not use his own platform to say anything meaningful about anything.
Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Fri. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; through Oct. 8. Centertheatregroup.org. Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
Source: Stage Raw
An unforeseen (and inexcusable) off-stage event overshadows the Academy Awards ceremony where a gay actor stands to win his first Oscar.
Where to begin with all that’s wrong with Paul Rudnick’s new play, “Big Night,” which takes place in a swanky Hollywood hotel suite before and after the Academy Awards ceremony where a C-lister named Michael (Brian Hutchison) stands to become the first openly gay actor to accept an Academy Award?
Let’s start with the fact that Rudnick — the typically hilarious writer of stage and screen responsible for “Jeffrey” and “In & Out” — doesn’t seem to realize the historical significance of this win, which ought to have been sufficient drama on which to hang the entire show. One can just imagine all the backstage quarterbacking as Michael’s boyishly young agent Cary (Max Jenkins) coaches his client, a serious Juilliard-trained actor who’s just received a five-picture offer to appear in the “Star Wars” franchise, on whether or not to acknowledge his homosexuality in his acceptance speech. But “Big Night” avoids all that, settling for far easier (albeit infrequent) laughs.
In addition to being gay, Michael is also Jewish, and nearly all Rudnick’s punchlines center on those two aspects of his identity, hitting the Jewish angle especially hard: There are Bar Mitzvah jokes and Passover jokes and Hanukkah jokes and Yiddish jokes — pretty much everything but Bris jokes. Then come the gay jokes. The first guest to appear is Michael’s nephew, Eddie, née Erica (played by trans actor Tom Phelan), a female-to-male college student who earnestly implores his uncle to take a stand against Academy prejudice by decrying the cisgender actor also nominated in his category (best supporting actor) for playing a trans character.
Politically speaking, such things do matter, but apparently not so much to Rudnick, who uses the cause as fodder for cheap shots about gender pronouns and political correctness. Strange for a play that takes place so deep within its own queer echo-chamber that every single character is L, G, B or T (though Rudnick can’t resist rattling off the rest of the alphabet for easy laughs, quipping that “gender fluid … sounds like a cleaning product”).
That applies even to Michael’s Jewish mother, Esther, who enters after a laggy first 15 minutes or so — and hers truly is an entrance, as slender, long-legged actress Wendie Malick swans in wearing a glittering silver gown. A brash, irrepressible Christine Baranski type, she wastes no time in establishing herself as the most interesting person in the room, stealing scenes right out from under her humdrum son (the idea that this dullard might ever be Oscar nominated is an insult to anyone who ever has been).
“Tonight isn’t about me,” Esther insists, before proceeding to make it all about her when she drops a bombshell: Instead of wasting time as a widow, she has fallen in love again, this time with Pulitzer prize-winning poet Eleanor (Kecia Lewis) — another dramatic opportunity missed. Although “Big Night” consistently avoids the storylines that seem most promising, it’s not for lack of having something serious to say. But when Rudnick does try to make his statement, the play practically falls apart entirely. (Stop reading here if you don’t wish to spoil the surprise.)
For the first half of “Big Night,” Michael’s partner Austin (Luke Macfarlane) has been missing. We’re free to imagine all sorts of explanations (they met in a club, then spent the next eight hours wandering the streets of L.A., which suggests he might have a crystal meth problem), but the real one is a doozy — and a mood-ruining bit of emotional manipulation so egregious, it’s hard to take seriously: Austin had been volunteering at the local LGBTQ youth center when a gunman walked in and shot more than 50 kids.
The incident casts a pall over the Oscar ceremony, of which Rudnick includes just Michael’s speech, beginning with that old cliché where the actor takes out his notes, starts to read and then decides to speak from the heart instead — a convention that simply doesn’t work under these circumstances. In fact, the only way such a scene might have been effective is if Rudnick had written the other play, the one in which Michael must decide whether or not to acknowledge his sexuality from the stage, then is compelled at the last moment by forces bigger than his petty career concerns.
As inside-joke showbiz satires go, “Big Night” is inexplicably out-of-touch on how things work, from Hollywood’s “don’t ask, don’t tell (and if asked, let Scientology find you a wife)” policy to the Academy Awards (which never go to actors whose only credits are regional theater and “Law & Order” guest spots). But even if it did get these things right, why invent the youth center shooting? Wouldn’t an attack on the Oscars themselves be more interesting — and plausible?
Rudnick has a hard time juggling the competing tones of the play, alternating between the cattiness that comes naturally (as when Esther dismisses the Edible Arrangements fruit bouquet) and heavy-handed social commentary (a preposterous moment in which Eddie pulls out a gun and proposes that he try to hunt down the gunman zirself). Though he’s shell-shocked by what he’s just witnessed, Macfarlane makes for nice eye candy as Austin (who might just as well have been written shirtless) in the second half of the play.
But there’s no denying the terrorist attack is a cheap stunt, one that merely reinforces the play’s agenda, when it would have been far more effective if Rudnick had forced these liberal-minded characters to face off against at least one bigot, or someone who challenges their progressive ideals. Though he wrote one of the funniest movies of the last 25 years (that would be 1992’s “Sister Act,” albeit pseudonymously), Rudnick isn’t likely to win an Oscar in this lifetime, so this is his chance to say his piece. As “Big Night” is written, Michael manages to perform two possible acceptance speeches. Surely at least one of them should be the highlight of the play.
L.A. Theater Review: Paul Rudnick’s Oscars Comedy ‘Big Night’
Wendie Malick and Brian Hutchison star in the world premiere from the writer of Jeffrey and In & Out, which opened in Los Angeles September 16.
The Center Theatre Group world premiere of Big Night, the latest comedy from Jeffrey and In & Out writer Paul Rudnick, opened in Los Angeles September 16.
Big Night, which unfolds in a swanky Beverly Hills hotel suite over the course of a chaotic Academy Awards night, began previews September 10 and will continue through October 8 in the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
Tony winner Walter Bobbie (Chicago, Bright Star) directs a cast that features Emmy Award nominee Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me, Hot in Cleveland), Brian Hutschison (Smokefall ), Max Jenkins (The Mysteries of Laura), Kecia Lewis (The Drowsy Chaperone), Luke Macfarlane (Brothers & Sisters), and Tom Phelan (Hir, The Fosters).
While it is clear that the recent tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the regularity of mass shootings have weighed heavily on comedy writer Paul Rudnick’s mind, his distillation of these heady conversations about gun violence and mental health come wrapped in too shiny of a package in the form of his play, Big Night. A clumsy, poorly structured treatise instead of an organic, thought-provoking comedy-drama, Big Night fails to connect because the creators’ altruistic intentions are heavy-handed.
In a stylish Beverly Hills hotel suite, Michael (Brian Hutchison), an actor who struggled on the sidelines for years, has finally arrived at stardom, favored to win Best Supporting Actor at this evening’s Academy Awards. His new agent (Max Jenkins) keeps his energy pumped. His mother (Wendie Malick) tries desperately to keep the evening about her son, even though her natural impulse is to constantly turn the spotlight on herself. Michael’s trans nephew (Tom Phelan) wants Michael to win and use his speech to attack Hollywood for its lack of gender diversity. Michael waits for his big night, growing impatient that his boyfriend, Austin (Luke Macfarlane), has yet to arrive. The evening is filled with frivolity and light humor until tragedy strikes, turning what should have been a glorious night into an evening of bloodshed.
Rudnick’s quips are solid, reserving the best jokes for the young, hungry agent and the glamourous but self-obsessed Jewish mother. While creating a modern drawing room comedy à la Noël Coward, the play moves steadily along. But when things shift into a political drama, Rudnick appears out of his league. Rudnick usually writes live-action cartoons with very broad strokes, a format that is inappropriate for this political forum. Instead of translating the tragic events so the audience can identify with the people involved, all the characters turn into soapboxes, pontificating instead of relating. Though all the characters are on the same political side, they continue to explain to each other obvious talking points, with all the harrowing situations left offstage. The thesis that catastrophes make superficial events appear meaningless is valid, but Rudnick fails to turn this into stimulating drama. He wisely has main characters directly affected by the tragedy, but their reactions are awkward and stilted.
Because Malick and Jenkins receive the best lines, they shine the most. When Jenkins accidentally belittles his client’s significance because he’s a supporting actor, the moment pointedly illustrates how Hollywood translates worth. Malick is hilarious as the older woman spreading her sexual wings. She walks a fine line between being enthralled for her children and obsessed with her own needs, and never hijacks the humor. As the elegant Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Kecia Lewis spills out her lines like a grande dame sipping a glass of champagne. She’s always in command of the room. Phelan and Macfarlane are earnest, but they’re hamstrung by Rudnick’s failure to fully flesh out their characters. Instead, they’re always walking political platforms and their dialogue sounds overrehearsed. Hutchison, strangely, plays the most superfluous character of the bunch, even though he is supposed to be the main character. The script can’t decide if he’s noble or spoiled, so he winds up being a nonentity, and because of this, his performance is negligible.
Director Walter Bobbie does not handle the actors’ staging well, and so distills the tension. When the characters hover over a computer screen watching in horror, the audience has a wall shoved between them and the action. When the characters later process what has happened, they wander around the stage aimlessly. Visually, the designers exquisitely land the feeling of Hollywood affluence. John Lee Beatty’s set is a sophisticatedly decorated oasis above the city, a posh living room filled with expensive furniture and littered with flowers, gift bags, and champagne bottles. William Ivey Long’s costumes, particularly the sleek dresses for both Malick and Lewis, belong on any red carpet.
In trying to reveal the trauma beneath Tinseltown, Big Night misses its target by a mile. Rudnick may have a great ear as a humorist, but he’s tone deaf when it comes to the necessary pitch-black humor or absurdism that could have turned the evening into a more pulsating, award-worthy experience.
Source: Theater Mania