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Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer Open in ‘Finding Neverland’ on Broadway: REVIEW

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg

BY NAVEEN KUMAR

The plot of Finding Neverland, a new musical that opened on Broadway last night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, doesn’t promise many surprises. Google can tell you that (spoiler alert!) J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan, and that by the end of this story, he’s going to do it. But, you may be surprised to discover that this adaptation (for which more than one beloved story has lit the path) could lose its way quite like this.

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg (3)There’s the proven affection for its source material — and not just for the much-celebrated 2004 movie by David Magee (or the much lesser-known play on which it’s based, The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee), but for the boy — or, more often, young woman — in the green tights. (Hey, didn’t we just see her on TV?) And, there are the pedigrees of nearly everyone involved, including the film’s producer Harvey Weinstein (in his first theatrical effort), Tony-winning director Diane Paulus, and stage and screen stars Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer, among many others.

The movie’s quietly imaginative story, about Barrie finding inspiration for the play in his relationship with a widow and her young boys, is scaled out for the stage with a book by James Graham, and amplified with middling pop musical stylings. The score, written by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, the songwriting duo whose success stories include the UK group Take That (of which Barlow is a current member and Robbie Williams a former one), has moments of cleverness, but far more moments of unabashed cheese. The act one finale shares its title refrain with anthems by both Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears. (Quick: Name that tune!)

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg (1)Morrison, late of TV’s Glee and terrific when last on Broadway in South Pacific, is honey-voiced as ever, though he makes the business of playing make-believe seem quite sober; rather than a boy who never wishes to grow up, he is unequivocally the dispassionate adult in the room. As Barrie’s producer, on the other hand, Grammer seems to harbor an inner smile behind every stern phrase, even when he’s acting the sourpuss. (His turn as Captain Hook will almost certainly conjure up Christopher Walken flashbacks, and, yes, they even lob him a Cheers pun.)

But its marquee stars are just two of the many elements on stage that seem to have wandered in willy-nilly from different shows in the neighborhood. Evidence of Paulus’ imaginative hand — responsible for acclaimed recent productions of challenging (if proven) musicals like Pippin and Hair — is occasionally evident, and one glittering moment of stage magic knocks the air from the room. But the production’s madcap tone rarely coheres (in this respect, Mia Michaels’ strange and spasmodic choreography seems bizarrely appropriate).

FindingNeverlandcCarolRosegg (2)The danger of trudging up familiar stories is not just coming off as unoriginal (with so many layers of adaptation going on here, that was a given), but ringing cliché — which Finding Neverland does at nearly every turn. The musical’s frequent allusions to Peter Pan more often serve as punch lines or cues for audience purrs than compelling points along the way to the play’s writing. Whether the 9 million viewers who watched the live telecast of Peter, Hook and the Darling clan a few months back enjoyed every minute or squirmed in their seats and found it hackneyed — they didn’t have to shell out the price of a Broadway ticket to do it.

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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: carol rosegg)


Good Will Hunting's Missing Gay Sex Scene Was Only for Those Who Read the Script: VIDEO

Weinstein

Did you miss the gay sex scene in Good Will Hunting?

Harvey Weinstein explains why, on a recent episode of The Graham Norton Show.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

(h/t instinct)

Goodwillhunting

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Sources Claim New 'Bully' Re-Cut Will Be PG-13

The MPAA still won't grant Bully anything less than an "R" rating, and in the face of its obstinacy the Weinstein Co. now suggests it might re-cut the film, sans profanity, to secure a rating of "PG 13." This is from "two people familiar with the company’s plans who were not authorized to speak about them publicly," according to the Los Angeles Times. Officially, however, the Weinstein Co. still plans to release the film in mid-April with no rating at all. From the Times:

BullyThe Weinstein Co. denied that changes were being made now but allowed for the possibility in the coming weeks. “At this time, there are no plans to change the film for a PG-13,” Stephen Bruno, the company’s head of marketing, told 24 Frames on Friday. “We are in constant conversation with the MPAA and hope a compromise can be reached.” The MPAA has been steadfast that the existing cut wll not be given anything lower than an R.

The Times explains a weird quirk of the MPAA rating system: That merely bleeping profanity isn't enough to lower a film's rating, presumably because even impressionable kids are sufficiently worldly to know what ugly noises are being made beneath the beeps. Which makes one wonder why they need to be protected from profanity in the first place, but never mind.

Removing all profanity from Bully will pose difficulties for Weinstein Co., because one of Bully's most important scenes is full of the stuff:

The scene that earned the film an R features one teen threatening another as the two sit side-by-side on the bus, with profanities interwoven throughout the scene ... Weinstein and filmmaker Lee Hirsch have been adamant that the scene remain in the film as is to show the full force of what bullied kids face.

 


Ellen Joins Campaign to Change 'Bully' Rating as 200,000 Petitions are Delivered to MPAA: VIDEO

Bully

Last week I posted the trailer for the documentary Bully, and noted that Harvey Weinstein appealed to the MPAA for a PG-13 rating so the movie could reach the teen audience to which it was hoping to show the film. Weinstein has threatened to leave the MPAA if it doesn't. The MPAA has slapped the film with an R rating, severely limiting the audience it should reach.

BullyKaty Butler, a student, started a petition on Change.org after hearing about the rating. On it, she wrote:

When I was in 7th grade, a few guys came up behind me while putting my books in my locker. They called me names and asked me why I even bothered to show my face at school because no one liked me. I ignored them because I was scared of what else they might say and who else they might tell if I stood up to them. When I went to shut my locker, they pushed me against the wall. Then they slammed my locker shut on my hand, breaking my fourth finger. I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing. I didn’t know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid.

I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change -- and, in some cases, save -- their lives. According to the film’s website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?

Incidentally, Canadian censors have given the film a PG rating.

Now Ellen DeGeneres has joined the campaign for the rating change.

Watch her talk about it, and introduce Katie, AFTER THE JUMP...

Ellen

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Harvey Weinstein Threatens to Leave MPAA After 'Bully' Documentary is Given 'R' Rating

Bully

Yesterday I posted a trailer for Bully, a documentary about the gay teen bullying problem. The MPAA gave it an 'R' rating and Harvey Weinstein appealed to them for a PG-13 rating so the movie could reach the teen audience to which it was hoping to show the film, EW reports.

They lost:

LibbyTWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and one of the bullied children in the film, Alex Libby (pictured), delivered statements to the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Appeals Board today, arguing that an R rating would prevent Bully from reaching the adolescent audience that would most benefit from the movie. (The studio was planning on screening the documentary at various middle and high schools.) However, for an MPAA rating to be overturned, a two-thirds vote is required — and Bully was one vote short.

Weinstein released a statement suggesting that The Weinstein company would be taking a leave of absence from the MPAA, according to EW:

“We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far. I have been through many of these appeals, but this one vote loss is a huge blow to me personally. Alex Libby gave an impassioned plea and eloquently defended the need for kids to be able to see this movie on their own, not with their parents, because that is the only way to truly make a change.”

Watch the amazing trailer if you missed it yesterday, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Harvey Weinstein Threatens to Leave MPAA After 'Bully' Documentary is Given 'R' Rating" »


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