The Glorious Corner: “Rent” , Beatles “Let It Be”, Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam and More

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“Rent” poster
G.H. Harding

RENT: NO DAY LIKE TODAY — I’ve been a huge fan of the groundbreaking play Rent since it first debuted on Broadway in 1994. Jonathan Larson’s tale of impoverished artists living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan has resonated with me since the first day I saw it. I don’t know if I’d term myself a RENT-head, but I have seen the play almost a dozen times. The original cast, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Jesse L. Martin were nothing short of tremendous and the music just relevatory.

Since the play closed up, there has been the occasion reunion and reboots, but last year, Fox announced that they would stage a live production of the play. This past Sunday was the day. The media buzz was oddly small yet who knew that there would be a cacophony of errors and problems yet to unfold.

Original “Rent” cast

Lead actor Brennin Hunt (Roger) broke his ankle the night before at dress rehearsal; the first few minutes of the show, on the East Coast, did not go through, resulting in a screen full of white noise … but, one decision was catastrophic: the powers that be at Fox elected to run at the last minute, as the live show Sunday, the filmed dress rehearsal from the previous night, while the planned performance Sunday went on before a live audience in L.A. Got that?

Several actors in the performance live streamed portion of Sunday’s show and didn’t even  know that their live performance was not being used.

So, while you were watching the so-called live performance Sunday, it was actually Saturday’s night dress performance, while the liveperformance was in fact going on.

The outcry was quick and rather severe … but, the question does remain, was this just a savvy decision by Fox to generate even more ink? And, will Fox ultimately run the actual performance (with Brennin in a wheelchair?) Of course they will!

To be honest, when I watched the opening moments of the show, even though it was the dress-performance, it was stunningly good. The negative outcry was mostly from the critics – who often tend to be an ornery bunch – myself included!

The thing about Rent is that it was and is unlike anything before on Broadway. Part West Side Story, part Angels In America; it was more of a social statement than anything else and totally on-point. The music was sublime and the signature song “Seasons Of Love” still remains a mega-hit to this day.

When the tape of the Saturday dress was over Sunday; the feed actually became live as members of the original cast joined the cats of the Fox production. It was a magical moment and for that moment all was forgiven.

The Beatles “Let It Be”

APPLE CORE — (Via DeadlinePeter Jackson and The Beatles are coming together. Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Ltd. are teaming with the director of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and The Beatles for a feature documentary. Jackson will direct a movie that is based on 55 hours of never-released footage of The Beatles in the studio. Shot between January 2 and January 31, 1969, the studio sessions produced The Beatles’ Grammy Award winning album Let It Be, with its Academy Award winning title song. The result was the swan song of the super group: the album was released 18 months later in May 1970, several months after the band had broken up.

The footage was originally intended for a planned TV special, but organically turned into something completely different, climaxing with The Beatles’ legendary performance on the roof of Apple’s Savile Row London office — which took place exactly 50 years ago today.

There is no release date yet for the new documentary, which is being made with the full co-operation of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon for the late John Lennon, and Olivia Harrison for the late George Harrison.

“The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us, ensures this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamed about – it’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together,” Jackson said in a statement.

Although The Beatles were filmed extensively during the 1960s – in concerts, interviews and movies – this is the only footage of any note that documents them at work in the studio.

The Let It Be album and movie, having been released in the months following The Beatles’ breakup, have often been viewed in the context of the struggle the band was going through at that time.

“I was relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth,” Jackson said. “After reviewing all the footage and audio that Michael Lindsay-Hogg shot 18 months before they broke up, it’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove. Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with. Watching John, Paul, George, and Ringo work together, creating now-classic songs from scratch, is not only fascinating – it’s funny, uplifting and surprisingly intimate. I’m thrilled and honored to have been entrusted with this remarkable footage – making the movie will be a sheer joy.”

After Jackson’s film is released, a restored version of the original Let It Be movie directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg will also be made available.

I remember seeing some footage, where McCartney berated Harrison about how to play a certain guitar passage and Harrison ultimately said to McCartney, he’d play it anyway he wanted. Will that appear in the Jackson film? And, what film was that moment from. I still have the glossy booklet of Ethan Russell photographs that accompanied the Let It Be release.

Ah, the memories!

SHORT TAKES — Another Brick In The Wall – There was scant coverage of the fact that Andy Cohen’s baby-shower last weekend was at The Palm in Beverly Hills. More coverage of Lisa Rinna’s table dancing than anything else. With the year the storied restaurant has had, you would have thought they would have sounded the drums with this event. I’m not a Cohen fan by any stretch, but he does command the headlines these days and it appears that The Palm missed a big media op here … Magda Katz of Times Square Chronicles, interviewed Robert Miller Monday, on the release of his new album (Greetings from Serbia)with Project Grand Slam. Here it is: https://t2conline.com/robert-miller-and-project-grand-slam/ …

Robert Miller and Project Grand Slam
“Living The Luxe Life” cover

New York Times best-selling rock & roll author Mark Bego switches tracks for Living the Luxe Life, written with Beverly Hills hotel mogul Efrem Harkham of the Luxe Hotels chain.  It is filled with common sense business solutions for individuals and empire builders alike!  In today’s economic climate, who doesn’t need advice like that?  The book is due from Skyhorse Publishing in May … SIGHTING: The Improper’s Keith Girard at Niles in midtown …

Jazz great James Ingram has lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 66. James’ death was announced by his friend Debbie Allen who said, “I have lost my dearest friend and creative partner James Ingram to the Celestial Choir. He will always be cherished, loved and remembered for his genius, his love of family and his humanity. I am blessed to have been so close. We will forever speak his name”. James Ingram was a two-time Grammy winner and a two-time Academy Award nominee. James had his first hit as the featured singer of Quincy Jones “Just Once” in 1981. The following year, ‘Baby Come To Me’ with Patti Austin was a number one hit in the USA. In 1986, James scored another Top 10 hit with another duet “Somewhere Out There” with Linda Ronstadt. It was the lead song for the movie An American Tail.

 NAMES IN THE NEWS — Peter Abraham; Curtis Urbina; Keith Girard; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Scott Shannon; Randy Alexander; Jennifer Salke; Steve Walter; Eppy; The Bottom Line; Jack Leitenberg; Denis McNamara; Steve Leeds; Kurt Loder; David Fricke; and, Chip.

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