Friday, October 15, 2010

New Images of Jim Brochu as Zero Mostel.

Jim opened "Zero Hour" down at the Maltz Jupiter Theater last night and posted these fabulous new photos. This is my favorite. It looks like a movie still. We have been approached by people who think Zero Hour would make a good movie. 

"In the show, thanks in part to a crafty makeup job,
 Brochu bears an uncanny resemblance to the burly, larger-than-life Mostel. " Hap Erstein.
He wears, for the record, almost no make-up. He uses a pencil and draws "Hirschfeld lines" on his eyebrows after plastering his hair down to look like a combover. I wonder how many make-up artists have used Al Hirschfeld's caricatures as a basis for celebrity make-up? At MGM, I'm told the iconic actresses would come to a photo shoot with zero make-up, and that artists add that later, to the photograph.

Zero Mostel (Jim Brochu) being grilled in front of the House committee. "All of Zero’s testimony in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee is online, a lot of his letters between himself and ( his wife ) Kate, so many articles, interviews...” from PB ArtsPaper.
Jim did a great job of condensing the testimony. It's funny and scary all at the same time, as you realize how easy it is to go from having an opinion, to being blacklisted and an object of suspicion and fear. Zero admits he was a Marxist, but it was because he felt, during the 30s, as did many, that only the commies were opposing the Nazis. Right or wrong, it's what he believed, and he also liked how Franklin Roosevelt kept everyone working when no one could get a job.

"The government gave me paint, and a brush."
People like Mostel were being accused of being foreign agents with an intent to overthrow the government through the use of violence. Absurd. And they were forced to betray their friends who might also have those same political beliefs, or never work again.

Zero took it even more personally. "Commie equaled liberal, and liberal equaled Jew."

His best friend Philip Loeb committed suicide after he was blacklisted.

He would also butter his arm in a public restaurant and ask for more butter, according to Piper Laurie, who also knew him in those days. He was absurd, loud and unpredictable.

I thought about Zero and how wonderful he'd be in this play that just opened on Broadway, a birthday gift from Charlotte Rae, "La Bete," where a very serious playwright character is confronted by an inebriated, besotted-with-himself fool of a playwright. (Mark Rylance in the performance of a lifetime, with David Hyde Pierce, bravely finding a thousands ways to show withering contempt, and who we met afterwards -- nicest person on the planet).

Charlotte Rae visiting David Hyde Pierce backstage after "La Bete."
I was so excited, I forgot to ask for one with myself.
I also reminded David that each time we've gotten major awards in Los Angeles, it's he who ends up either announcing it or giving it to us. (We don't really know each other.)

But the discussion of what's "art" and what's just commercial crap has been going on since the dawn of time. Jim and I, of course, embrace both in TLS, TBV and Zero Hour. We like plays that mean something and that might have an idea or an opinion or a point of view hovering in the background, but we also love a good belly laugh and a little baggy pants.

Oh, and we're not afraid of drawing out a tear or two, either.

Speaking of which, we now have a new production of The Last Session scheduled for the Fall in Norwich, Connecticut, and The Big Voice, maybe even with Jim and myself, is coming to a small theater in Canada next summer, if we can coordinate schedules. And New World Waking is coming to Miami.

I'm more or less staying home, keeping ice on my shoulder. (Frozen Chinese vegetables are almost as good as frozen peas, btw.)

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