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Showing posts from July, 2006

10 Yrs. Ago: Breaking Free

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Me with Chip Esten doing "Friendly Fire."

Ten years ago, if you'll recall from our last update, I had just been implanted with a PICC line. Each day, I was hooked up to a feedbag of fluid intravenously for 14 hours a day because my digestive system had stopped working. The new drug, Crixivan, had just arrived in the mail, and the Zephyr Theatre had given us a go-ahead to put up a workshop of our little musical about AIDS called "The Last Session."
Marjory Graue enters as Vicki.

Since that update, we had cast the show, rehearsed it and were now performing it.

Gideon: Me
Buddy: Charles Esten
Vicki: Marjory Graue
Tryshia: Francesca P. Roberts
Jim: Doug Tracht

Each day, I would rehearse the show, go home, hook myself up to the feedbag (which I named "Louie"), try to sleep, wake up, unhook from the bag, race down to the theatre, rehearse, take my pills, go home, hook back up, sleep, etc. There was an entry port on my arm for the bag which had to be protected when I…

How Jim Creates the Zero Mostel Combover

Here we are backstage at "Zero Hour" where I question Jim about how he creates the famous Zero Mostel combover.

News on Zero Hour Plus Video

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Jim's play, Zero Hour, has been extended for two weeks here in Los Angeles.

It's going to be featured soon on National Public Radio.

Many of the performances are selling out and he has received rave reviews from every critic, along with Critics Pick designations from the LA Times, LA Weekly and the Desert Sun.

The show has been praised on every level. The writing, his performance, the emotional impact. Everything. But I think the responses that have meant the most to him have come from Zero's friends and co-workers. All of them have either stayed afterwards to talk, or have written emails, gushing with Zero stories and thanking him for bringing Zero back to life.

Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara.

Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara came. Theodore Bikel, one of Zero's closest friends came. Theo wrote in an email, "Thank you for having brought back to us the memory of a volcano that was thought to be extinct."

Doris Roberts.

I also sat in the back last weekend and took some …

Just as good as straight people??? SHOCKING!

One of my favorite news blogs, ExGay Watch, which is very fair to the exgays and Exodus International (even though they hate being held accountable for their words and deeds, though they seem to think everyone else should be), notes this morning that Exodus President Alan Chambers said this, about a new ad campaign by gay groups promoting civil equality in marriage, "“I think their long-term goal is to portray themselves as equals, as people who are the same as heterosexuals...”

Yes, Alan. I think I am equal to straight people. Yes, Alan. I think my 21-year relationship with Jim is just as good as, totally equal to, your marriage. I know you people worship at the altar of heterosexuality -- and god knows I love my heterosexual friends -- but my true friends, the ones that actually love me, are more interested in making sure Jimmy and I have a secure home than getting a paycheck from a right wing Christianist relgiopath like James Dobson.

SHOCKING! OUTRAGEOUS! IMAGINE SUCH A THING! …

Coming onto the Phelps

Anyone who keeps up with anti-gay religio-nuts knows who the Phelps clan is from Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. This video is from an Australian comedian pretending to be a reporter who starts interviewing one of of the Phelps' men -- but then suddenly starts coming onto him, telling him how lovely his voice is and how firm his buttocks are. Watching the Klan -- er, clan, none of whom seem to have ever developed a sense of humor, circle around their guy to protect him from the "pervert" reporter is wickedly funny if you enjoy ridicule. Oh, and I do.

The guy being interviewed is the crazy husband of the wacked out woman who recently was on Fox News being yelled at by the Fox reporter, one of the more famous viral videos that made the rounds this past year -- you know, where Fox News pretends to be "fair and balanced" by going after only the most obvious psychotic reliopath.

The Process of Creation

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KC Bowman

Know what I love about working with Ned and KC is that anything goes. For instance, KC was asking me how I happened to write "Cool By Default." I told him the lyric came from a conversation I had with someone who accused me of being "cool." I responded that I have never been cool in my entire life, but that the rest of the world has gotten so damn lame, I'm suddenly cool by default. (SONG IDEA!)

Then he asked me how I wrote the music. So I told him it was totally a crass thing. I had been on a plane talking to a club DJ who spins discs at these exclusive "six months ahead of the curve" high class European tweaker discos. I asked him, "How many bpm?" He said, "130." So, when I was ready to write the song, I set my bpm for 130, hit the kick drum on every beat, wrote in a snakey bassline and constructed the song from the bottom up.

KC immediately yells, "NED! GO RECORD A DRUM TRACK!"

So, Ned goes into the studio, recor…

SF: Hot By Default

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KC the rock star and the papparazzi.

Me pretending to be cool.

I made it to San Francisco without incident and settled in at Ken's. We were two chatterboxes for the first day catching up on everything. It's funny but even though we chat or phone nearly every single day, there's nothing like seeing someone in person. I brought my video camera but didn't bring the specific cord that downloads into my laptop, so pictures will have to come later.

Later that night, we had dinner with our friend, Ben, who was limping a bit because someone smashed into his motorcycle and broke his leg. He's on the mend now, but apparently it was pretty bad there for awhile.

The weather, though, has been hot! Since San Francisco is used to being somewhat chilly, even in the summer, this has been quite strenuous on everyone, especially since many of the houses don't have air conditioning. They've never really needed it. Luckily, it cools off at night with the sea air blowing in, but it…

The Great Big Hall (Studio version)

I spent most of the day finishing the instrumentation and vocals for the studio version of "The Secret of the Great Big Hall" which Petrina recorded here earlier this week. Then I mixed it and cut the video together which, this time, just focuses on her. She's such a good singer who really sings from the heart. I loved just focusing on her beautiful and expressive face. Best of all, she is NOT lip syncing. This is the real deal.



Tomorrow I'm off to San Francisco for a recording session with the Preoccupied Pipers. Who knows what kind of mischief we'll get into!

Strength for the Journey

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If you haven't read the incredible story of my friend, Michael Sugar, and our visit to the Hollywood United Methodist Church, then go there. It was a beautiful and transcendent moment, and it provides the backdrop for our trip into the mountains yesterday. The occasion was an invitation from HUMC to visit their retreat for people living with AIDS called "Strength for the Journey." These camps are sponsored by United Methodists all over the country and have been a source of strength and life for thousands of PWAs. I told them I would love to visit but only if they'd let me sing (of course). Michael got off work a little early and drove me. But first we had to visit Warner Bros. studios where Michael had to get a few things. I took this picture from the outside because we're not allowed to take pics inside.

The camp wasn't that far away. It was in the Angeles National Forest at Camp Colby, which is run by the United Methodist Church. In fact, it only took us abo…

I'm Tired of Saying Goodbye

On our last trip, you might remember that I met a great singer from London named Petrina Johnson. We posted a video of her singing a new song called "Secret of the Great Big Hall." While we were cruising, Petrina gave me a title for a new song based upon a broken hearted experience she had gone through in the past. So, I wrote the main part of the song on the ship and we performed it for passengers. But it wasn't finished. This past week, she flew into L.A. for the express purpose of recording the finished version of the song. We took one day up here in my loft to record it. I also turned on the video camera to catch her live performance on tape. Here is the finished mix and video:

DREAMGIRLS!

Go Hone!

Alexandra Billings tells the story of a very hit, sweaty and exhausted woman in Chicago protesting the Gay Games (our version of the Olympics) in this sadly weird blog entry.

AIDS IS THE ANSWER! GO HONE!

Hone?

Why are so many Christianist homophobes so helplessly illiterate? And why do they feel the need to interfere in our lives? I wonder how many people have looked at a hate sign and said to themselves, "Oh, THERE'S the religion *I* want to belong to!"

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

I thought this was a joke, but it turns out to be an absolutely beautiful rendition of one of the Beatles saddest George Harrison songs. He's sitting in Central Park where there's a memorial to John Lennon. Just listen to it. For some reason, with all the war raging around the world, this just felt very mournful and appropriate.

Why The World Is In Flames

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From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You ‘Axis of Evil’
By FRANK RICH July 16, 2006 NY Times Op-Ed Columnist
AS American foreign policy lies in ruins from Pyongyang to Baghdad to Beirut, its epitaph is already being written in Washington. Last week’s Time cover, “The End of Cowboy Diplomacy,” lays out the conventional wisdom: the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, upended by chaos in Iraq and the nuclear intransigence of North Korea and Iran, is now officially kaput. In its stead, a sadder but more patient White House, under the sway of Condi Rice, is embracing the fine art of multilateral diplomacy and dumping the “bring ’em on” gun-slinging that got the world into this jam.The only flaw in this narrative — a big one — is that it understates the administration’s failure by assuming that President Bush actually had a grand, if misguided, vision in the first place. Would that this were so. But in truth this presidency never had a vision fo…

Japanese Circus Flies!

I can't help but post this. It made me laugh. Not just because of Japanese TV makes me laugh, but also because... well, did you think you couldn't train flies to perform circus-style?

The dog says 'moo'

Springs is the target of a new public interest campaign
by Cate Terwilliger ~ The Colorado Springs Independent Newsweekly ~ July 13-19


Moos to you: Norman is the face of the “Born Different” campaign.
As opposing groups work to sway voter opinion on same-sex unions, a puppy named Norman wants Colorado Springs residents to discuss a simpler question: Are people born gay?

The freckled visage and comical "moo" of the 10-week-old Brittany spaniel is popping up on local billboards, buses and street posts, and in theaters. Norman also stars in radio and television spots.

He's the face of an unusual effort launched exclusively in the Springs last month by the Emmy-award winning Public Interest, the nation's leading nonprofit creator of social-awareness campaigns.

Filmed locally, the "Born Different" campaign tells the story of Norman, who differs from his littermates in one way: He moos. Five 30-second television spots trace the floppy-eared protagonist's jo…

What's He Hiding?

Girls! Girls!

On TV, Everyone Hears You Scream (Like A Girl)

On the show Scare Tactics, there was this one episode featuring an animal rights activist who's hired to clean out a place that's been vacated by unknown scientists who've been doing animal testing. I remember seeing this when it was first aired. This guy screams bloody murder when he sees...

My New Song: Cool By Default

What kind of world is it that has become so lame that you end up cool by default?

LA Times Raves about Zero Hour

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For all the kind words said about "Zero Hour," the one review we wait on pins and needles for is the one from the LA Times. And it's a rave! Can I just say how relieved we are, and happy!!??
By F. Kathleen Foley, Special to The Times: Presented by the West Coast Jewish Theatre and directed by Paul Kreppel, "Hour" captures Mostel's rich contradictions in a loving but unvarnished homage as entertaining as the man himself.Brochu seems almost fatefully destined to play Mostel, not only because he knew Mostel and can bring a deeply personal perspective to his portrayal, but because he is an almost uncanny physical match for his subject.She thinks that it occasionally gets a bit worshipful and, like the other reviewers, feels his rendition of "If I Were A Rich Man" is out of place, but then she continues...
But that's minor in light of Brochu's otherwise fine writing, which highlights the central events of Mostel's life — including his McCarthy…

Snakes on a Plane: How Hollywood Works!

Seeing The People Who Live Around Us.

It's post like this that keep me reading Joe.My.God's blog.

Lewis Black Discusses Gay Banditos!

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In this interesting review in Salon of the book "Straight to Jesus," about an exgay residential program in San Francisco, we learn that the author discovered several interesting things about life as an "exgay" which I have been talking about for a long time:

1. "Exgay" does not mean "heterosexual."
"Contrary to what the Christian right proclaims, ex-gay programs operate more like 12 Step regimens than like psychiatric treatments for, say, depression or bipolar disorder. Worthen and other gurus of reparative therapy often speak of homosexuality as a form of addiction, and just as AA holds that an alcoholic is never really "cured," only "sober," they caution that relapses or "sexual falls" remain an ever-present threat to the devout ex-gay. AA members refer to themselves as alcoholics even when they're not drinking, and, Erzen believes, "ex-gay" is a similar identity group, an unsettled and perilous c…

First Reviews Roll In

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(Photo copyright by Michael Lamont).

The first reviews from the Internet have begun rolling in for Zero Hour. They are very, very good. Not just because they praise both the show and Jim's performance, but because they articulate very well what the show is about. They also give some excellent critiques about how the show could be made even better. This is something Jim was really hoping for since this is the first incarnation of the play. Like "Big Voice," even though we were very proud of its first outing, it became so much better after we had a chance to get it on the stage and play it in front of audiences. Plays and musicals are living organisms that grow and evolve, especially in the hands of people who look for those ways to focus, sharpen, and deepen the experience.

This morning, Les Spindle reviewed it for Theatremania.com. He began by describing it as "entertaining." Then looked at it more deeply, both in the text of the play and in the challenges of bri…

Video of the Day

Does this kid have bones? Or joints?

Mark Evanier Reviews Jim as Zero

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In his blog this morning, writer Mark Evanier reviews Jim's performance as Zero Mostel, beginning his write-up with a confession that it can be dangerous to have to review a friend in a play because if it stinks, you might have to use one of the non-committal "You should have been out front!" comments -- or, as someone once called it, "Green Room Perjury." But, Mark writes:
Fortunately, I needed no such dodges last night when I saw my pal Jim Brochu in his new one-man play, Zero Hour. Jim knew the late, great Zero Mostel and has now managed to magically — don't ask me how — turn himself into the guy...

During the two-or-so hours Zero discusses his life, his capricious stardom, the tragedy of blacklisting, the near-tragedy of a bus accident that almost cost him his leg, his marriage, his fatherhood, his major roles, his painting and most of all, his anger. The play is at times very, very funny and — at times — very, very sad. Best of all, Jim captures the bas…

IN Magazine: Star Returns as Zero Mostel

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The first articles about Jim hit the press yesterday. IN Magazine, which is a gay publication is online with its article entitled, "Star Returns as Zero Mostel." By Christopher Cappiello:

Actor/writer Jim Brochu won a best musical Ovation Award last year for writing The Big Voice: God or Merman and also snagged a best actor nomination for the same show. Brochu returns to the L.A. stage in July with Zero Hour, his original solo show portraying larger-than-life Broadway legend Zero Mostel. Mostel is best remembered for originating the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, but he also won Tony Awards for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. Film fans may know him as the original Max Bialystock opposite Gene Wilder in The Producers—Mel Brooks’ 1960s …

Jimmy's Dress Rehearsal

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Last night, July 4th, while fireworks were going on all around us (illegally) in downtown Hollywood, Jim was performing his dress rehearsal for "Zero Hour" for a very small invited audience. It would be his first time to actually run the entire play from beginning to end. The set is up but not finished. Some pieces are missing and it hasn't been painted yet. There is a sound cue or two missing, but it didn't seem to matter to the few of us sitting there, totally mesmorized by his performance.

When he first turned into the spotlight, the audience gasped at how much he looked like Zero -- how he was able to utterly transform himself.

I took these shots during the show. (All photos are clickable).

Earlier, as they were getting ready, I caught this shot of tech director, Danny, who also has some dialogue in the show (from the booth):

While they worked, I decided to walk around the area a bit and show you what's in the neighborhood. The show is at the Egyptian Arena Theat…