Showing posts from November, 2007

One Year Ago Today.

An Important Meeting

I had my meeting today. The important one. It involves a very big project I have been focusing on for more than a few years. It's a dream I have been carrying for a very long time. And, unless I'm a completely deluded person, it went very, very well.

I want to divulge the full details of the meeting, but at this moment, because it involves more people than just me, I'm going to hold off making any formal announcement. Also, I'm superstitious about discussing stuff too soon.

But the reason I'm saying something here and now is not to tease you, but to mark the date.

What I can say is that if it works out, it will involve hundreds of voices, an orchestra and a very large concert hall. But even more than that, it will be a part of an anniversary celebration a historically and artistically significant musical institutions -- and the anniversary of one of the most important political figures of my world.

See? No big deal. :)

Little update

We are still in San Francisco. Going to see Charlotte Rae's show tonight. I have a meeting today, also. Not much news. Just letting you know I'm still here. :)

Lulu & Steve on the Night Crew

Gabi Clayton's cat, Lulu, is workin' the night crew.

My Thanksgiving Prayer 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I am preparing a new video for Thanksgiving. So, check in later!

And Happy Thanksgiving from Jim and Steve.

My Interview With Scott Griessel

When we were in Tucson, we met a filmmaker named Scott Griessel who gave me an advance copy of the film he had just finished, a documentary called "The Asphalt Gospel" about a group of self-described Christians who walked from Phoenix to Washington, DC.

I loved it so much, I did something I don't remember ever having done before. I formally interviewed him. Now, frankly, I don't think anyone is ever going to mistake me for Regis Philbin, but I did enjoy the challenge of turning a half hour of conversation into a five minute interview. What do you think? Do I have a new career?

9th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgendered — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgendered people.

[Photo from San Francisco DOR 2001]We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prej…

"Whatcha Been Doin' In SF?"

I haven't posted a lot of personal blogs from here because I keep thinking I'll make videos. But then I've gotten so much footage and have gotten so backed up on putting them together, it all starts to get too overwhelming. And then days go by. And it's just too much to remember.

So, first of all, Zero Hour is doing really well. In the first week, before anyone knew it was here, there was little or no pre-sale on the box office. So, this run -- which was scheduled at the last minute as a fill-in show because Ed Decker loved it so much -- is starting to take off. The reviews, as you have seen, have been extraordinary. And it's so nice when the audience begins to show up and really enjoy the show.

One of the nicer visitors we had was a young 15 year old named Anthony, who is undergoing a great deal of health issues. His father wrote and said that Anthony was a true Zero Mostel fan and could we meet afterwards. The answer, of course, was yes yes yes. Such a smart, artic…

WCITIES reviews Zero Hour

WCities, an online publication which is a guide to San Francisco reviews Zero Hour.

Zero Hour, a one-man act being shown at The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) recounting the life of actor Zero Mostel, is a mesmerizing and refreshingly witty show from beginning to end. Under the direction of Brendan James, the stage is dominated with boundless confidence by Jim Brochu, recipient of three L.A. Drama Circle Awards and personal friend of the late Mostel. The scene is set in Mostel's cozy art studio shortly after the successful release of The Producers. Brochu plays the larger-than-life actor and creates a tone of immediacy by addressing the audience directly in an explosive voice. The questions of a beginning reporter from the New York Times who is assigned to interview Mostel are answered with brutal sarcasm, perfectly timed comedic wit and, most powerfully, genuine honesty. From the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Mostel spent his early youth painting, reading literature a…

Jim Gets An Award.

Just before "Zero Hour" tonight, Jim got a package in the mail. It was a certificate that read, WINNER! The Lee Hartgrave Fame Award for Best Actor in a Play in 2007.

Lee Hartgrave is a critic and reporter in the San Francisco area. After we got home, we looked for his online review of "Zero Hour" to find out more. Here is what he wrote:

It isn’t Jim Brochu that comes out on the stage – its famed actor Zero Mostel. The play starts with Mostel in his Studio, where he paints. This is also his retreat where he can get away from the world, except for the occasional phone call from his wife demanding that he stop and get something from the store for her. There is a knock at the door – and Mostel yells – “What do want? Who is it?). Finally he gets up and lets the visitor in. It is a Newspaper Reporter (N.Y. Times) who is here for a scheduled interview. An interview that Mostel forgot about or wanted to forget about. Right away, we get the feeling that Mostel is a miserabl…

The Real Gypsy

[Forwarded message from The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts'
electronic eNewsletter - please feel free to repost where appropriate.]

Just about everyone who knows theater knows GYPSY, the
landmark 1959 Broadway musical based on the life of
Burlesque show stripper, best-selling author, and larger-
than-life personality Gypsy Rose Lee (1914-1970). The
Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has videorecorded
the show several times over the years, including
productions starring Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and, most
recently, Patti LuPone as Mama Rose (the character based on
Lee's mother), supported by various actresses in the title
role of GYPSY. However, some researchers may be surprised
to learn that TOFT also holds 76 episodes of Gypsy Rose
Lee's own talk show, taped in California in the mid-1960s
and hosted by the real article herself. Lee was making TV
appearances as early as 1949 and hosted her first talk show
in '58, but her most successful and long-lasting progr…
Here is the newest International Carnival of Pozitivities. Lots of great information and updates on AIDS news from blogs and news sources all over the world.

Variety Reviews Zero Hour

Variety, (the show biz bible), reviews Zero Hour in San Francisco. It's a terrific review.

Obnoxious can be funny if it's safely on the other side of the footlights. One is grateful for that unbreached fourth wall in "Zero Hour," which has Jim Brochu reincarnating the force of nature known as Zero Mostel. An autobiographical monologue disguised as an interview with an unseen reporter, the one-man show visits Mostel just before his abrupt 1977 demise. Scheduled for Gotham early next year, the modest but engaging solo show stands a good chance of connecting with older theatregoers for whom the subject's name still carries currency. A larger-than-life personality who would be unbearable if he weren't just as entertaining as he thinks he is, Mostel is found in his dingy "sanctuary" of a studio -- painting being a lifelong passion, even more than performing.Brochu (Off Broadway's "The Big Voice: God or Merman?") first impresses with his stri…

Zero Hour: SF Chronicle

Review: 'Zero Hour' a fitting tribute to theatrical force of nature Robert Hurwitt, Chronicle Theater CriticTuesday, November 13, 2007CRITICS CHOICE
ZeroHour: One-man drama. Written and performed by Jim Brochu. Directed by Brendan James. (Through Nov. 25. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. One hour, 45 minutes. Tickets: $35-$40. Call (415) 861-8972 or go to Jim Brochu must have had a charmed life. Not only did he grow up knowing Ethel Merman, he also had a fairly long friendship with Zero Mostel. No matter how many other theater legends he's known, it's almost impossible to top that combination.Actor and playwright Brochu made good use of his Merman intimacy in "The Big Voice: God or Merman?," the long-running off-Broadway hit he co-wrote and performed with his partner, composer Steve Schalchlin, delightfully reprised at New Conservatory Theatre Center earlier this season. Now he's back at NCTC in a pre-New Yo…

Workin' On The Night Crew (band video)

A band video of the song "Workin' On The Night Crew." Steve, Daniel, Marta & Ned along with KC who couldn't play cuz he had smashed his finger the night before. It sucks to have a job. Everything was done in one take cuz we were too tired to fix any mistakes. Oh, and Daniel's still looking for work. He's the insufferably cute emo-looking straight boy on guitar. Marta, Ned, KC and Steve have a once a year gig in a band called Preocuppied Pipers, part of the International Pop Overthrow.

Produced by Vinnie's Vipers at Timbertrout Studios in Oakland. (Which would be us in KC's garage). Shot on a Sony Handydam with a broken automatic lens cover. KC Bowman: Engineer (with the big glasses), background vocals. Ned Sykes: Drums, background vocals. Marta Sykes: Bass, background vocals, but she is one of the most awesome singers in the world). Daniel Bernstein: Guitar (we didn't actually know he could play -- Steve brought him along to hold the video came…

Chronicle Blurb for Zero Hour

The full review is not out, but Jim was given CRITICS CHOICE today in the SF Chronicle. This is the full blurb:

Jim Brochu, who channeled an impressive Ethel Merman in The Big Voice: God or Merman, takes on another theatrical legend he's known in his one-man tribute to the great Zero Mostel, as the actor looks back over his life on the eve of rehearsals for what would be his last play if he'd lived for the opening. The setup is trite and Brochu's performance is mannered at times, but this is a very funny, often moving and suitably outraged account of Mostel�s life, his wonderfully anarchic humor and the terrible impact of the cultural and political purges known as McCarthyism.
--R. Hurwitt

Zero Opens!

This past weekend was one of the most fun weekends of my entire life -- and that's saying a lot. First of all, Jimmy was dazzling on opening night. Seriously. I know I brag about my husband a lot, but Saturday night, he had that audience whipped into a frenzy. And he did it again on Sunday afternoon. It was absolutely electrifying. Here are some screen shots:

After the show, Daniel (yes! THE Daniel) and I drove over to Oakland to Timbertrout Studios where we recorded the most garage band version of "The Night Crew" you could ever imagine. It was KC, Marta and Ned, along with two dogs and Daniel. Now, the reason I dragged Daniel along was because he was so good on the video before, I thought he could tape us recording the song. Who knew he was a great musician? He picked up the guitar and kicked our asses.

So, I will have pics, video and music of that adventure soon. Stayed tuned!

The Evil of the Closet

Lately, there have been numerous stories on various websites and in local newspapers about men getting caught by authorities having "gay sex" in public places, Senator Larry Craig being the most famous.

But all over the country, Republican politicians are getting caught right and left engaging in public, illegal, anonymous sex. You cannot believe how many of these stories are popping up. And all of these people have things in common:

1. They are vehemently anti-gay in their political views. So, they stand and tell the masses how "evil" homosexuality is, and how they stand for "family values" (because, presumably, there are no gay people in anyone's family).

2. They are closeted.

3. They are in denial about their gayness.

I read recently that in all the "sting" operations conducted by local police on places where so-called gay men are having public sex, almost NONE of the people were actually OUT of the closet gay men. In one sting there was not a…

Getting Settled.

And Zero is on! That's me trying to do "Zero eyes." I just don't quite have it.

It's been fun getting settled into San Francisco again. We have our favorite grocery store (Cala Foods up on California Street). The cats (that's Steinbeck above) are enjoying the new place the theatre has stashed us. Jim has been focusing very intently on the script for Zero Hour and has made some really nice changes that are getting big laughs in these previews.

Jim does "Zero eyes" pretty well.

People have been asking about our plans to take Zero to New York and the answer to that question is that I can't discuss it yet. I can tell you that there are plans. There are other people involved. But there is no venue or date set. But the people who are interested are very serious and it's not a pie in the sky dream. I would love to tell you more, but it's not my place. But stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the New Conservatory Theatre has put up a very nice set on the same sta…

Interview in the Jewish Bulletin

First Previews Special Offer

Jim had his first preview last night and the audience went absolutely nuts. There is a theatre next to us and the actors told me later that they could hear the laughs all the way into their room.

However, given the fact that this is a last minute booking, the lead-time for promotion has been very short and so we're trying to get the word out to everyone in San Francisco that the show is here. If you're a reader of this blog, and you can get there tonight or tomorrow night during the previews, we'll give you a $20 ticket. Just call the box office, tell them you read about it on the Bonus Round blog and that you'd like the special advance preview price.

SF Sentinel Spotlights Zero

Why The Writers Are Striking.

In case you don't keep up with such things, the Writers Guild of America is now on strike against the film and tv producers. I learned early on when I moved to Los Angeles how abused and disrespected writers are. It was glaringly apparent in the world of songwriting where credits were routinely left off of product, where writers were constantly being asked to take a lower royalty, and where ruthless singers demanded a portion of the song copyright in order to put that song on their record.

In the world of TV, the writers finally just started demanding a producer credit on tv shows in order to find a way to make some kind of living wage. In other words, it wasn't good enough to be a writer. You have to step "up" on the ladder to producer to get any kind of respect.

Mark Evanier has penned an excellent blog entry about the history of how the writers have been, well, gutless cowards in the past, allowing their wages to continually be rolled back -- or allowing themselves …

Two Crybabies.

The latest viral video. It's so adorable, I can't stand it.

USS Metaphor Sails!

I had a great chat with Ken McPherson yesterday, happily reconnecting with him after too long a time. There was a time when we were Cyber Siamese Twins.
(I met Ken about 10 years ago through the Net. At the time, we were mostly discussing the political aspects of the continuing Christians vs. Homos / gay vs. exgays debate. However, as we became friends, I discovered that he is a talented lyricist, arranger and singer who set aside his career in the mid-80s to become an AIDS activist, creating and manning an AIDS education booth on the street corner at Hibernia Beach in the Castro in San Francisco.)I was happily congratulating him over the fact that this past year, he helped write (and received a featured solo role in) a new piece written and performed by the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus called USS Metaphor which, among other things, wickedly uses Ken's knowledge of the issues he and I have been talking about for years. I didn't get to see the performances, but I have discovere…

Jim and Jan.

Jim makes his first media appearance in San Francisco by being on Jan Wahl's segment of the KRON-4 Saturday morning news. EVERYbody (but everybody) watches Jan.