Monday , November 10, 2003
Kidman, Kravitz | Matrix: Convulsions | Boy George's 'Taboo'
Nicole Kidman Cruise Kravitz? Not So Fast!
Don't start buying china and glassware just yet for Nicole Kidman and rocker Lenny Kravitz.
Despite the fever pitch of tabloids reporting their imminent engagement, marriage, parenthood and real-estate ownership, I am told that the pair is "just dating." Like, going steady, seeing each other.
When did the mere act of dating become a fast track to a wedding? It seems both Kidman and Kravitz are smart enough to have watched the crazy 'Bennifer' story and used it as an example of what not to do. In other words, don't start believing the press you generate.
Even though marrying Kravitz would have the advantage for Nicole of not changing her initials, there are probably more downsides to this union in the long run. She already has a frantic schedule of shooting films all over the world. A rock star's daybook, or "night planner," is vastly more complicated.
Kravitz keeps the late hours of a musician. And he has to tour, which means she wouldn't be adding a present parent to her kids' lives no matter how much he might like them.
Kidman met Kravitz through her assistant, a rocker named Ellie who is connected to the music world in New York. Ellie used to be Madonna's New York assistant, so she knows the players.
For Kidman, who was married a long time and cut off from a lot of socializing, this — I am also told — has been a great chance to party and see things she might have missed in her 20s. But, I am assured by close advisors, don't be listening for wedding bells so soon.
Warner Bros. execs must have had a heart-stopper on Thursday. "The Matrix Revolutions," which had taken in $24 million on Wednesday, its opening day, dropped by more than 50 percent.
The third installment in the Wachowski brothers' sci-fi series recovered some over the weekend. From Wednesday through Sunday its domestic gross was $85 million. That's about half what it cost to make. Not bad considering the awful, awful reviews.
But what about director Larry Wachowski? Web site The Smoking Gun put up the latest motion in his divorce case. You may recall that Wachowski's wife revealed last spring in her divorce papers that he was a cross-dresser and had left her for a woman who appreciated that sort of thing.
Now Larry says he's suddenly remembered that the idea for "The Matrix" popped into his head right before his marriage in 1993, making the huge profits from the films off-limits to the wife. How convenient! He's asking the judge to disregard his previous filing, which this one contradicts.
Will it work? I don't know. California judges seem much more gullible than New York ones, don't they?
Broadway's 'Taboo': The 'Fix' Is In
I went to see the Boy George musical "Taboo" on Saturday afternoon. The Plymouth Theater was packed, by the way, with a lot of regular, "older" types who attend matinees and are pretty jaded about Broadway shows. And guess what? They loved it.
Sitting next to us: the inimitable, legendary comic actress and singer Kaye Ballard, who couldn't stop singing the show's praises.
Maybe you've heard that the show is in trouble. True, one of the main actors walked out of the first dress rehearsal, but he was back for the evening show a few hours later. It was a hissy-fit in a teapot.
Of course, because producer Rosie O'Donnell is in the middle of a public lawsuit downtown, she has also become the focus of "Taboo." But this is a mistake, and really quite disrespectful to Boy George — who stars in the show and co-wrote 22 new songs — and to the entire cast and crew.
"Taboo" may not be "Sweeney Todd," but despite a functional, flimsy storyline, "Taboo" is terrific.
Since the show began previews, several "fixes" have been employed to tighten it up. Among them: the addition in the first act of a Culture Club medley that incorporates "Karma Chameleon" and "Church of the Poisoned Mind."
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" which was already in the show, has been beefed up a bit, too. This is all good news because, although the new songs are excellent, the audience wanted to hear the hits. Now they have them.
Writer Charles Busch has also added some more narration and explanation, tying together the episodes in Boy George's autobiographical journey through early '80s London. This helps a lot, and it didn't require much effort.
There's also a great ending to the second act, along with a new song that leaves you humming and clapping along. The audience was so turned on by the momentum of the second act, right to the close, that they gave the cast an unanticipated standing ovation. Nice.
Liz McCartney, seven-and-a-half months pregnant, continues to be the big star of the show. And I do mean big. She's planning to make it through Thursday's opening, hold on for as long as she can, then take a short maternity leave.
Her character, Big Sue, I would say is somewhat inspired by the great British pop singer Alison Moyet, and McCartney carries it off brilliantly with a show-stopping ballad called "Talk Amongst Yourselves." (They should get Moyet to come in and sub for McCartney, actually.)
If you were around for the Boy George era, you'll appreciate the little touches like a Moyet character, or a synth-pop riff on the group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and a perfectly rendered "Marilyn," (Jeffrey Carlson) Boy George's real-life pet drag queen/torch singer who never made it big.
The rest of the cast has gelled, too, which I was surprised by considering a recent press report that the show was a mess. Ironically, Raul Esparza, the hissy-fit guy, was resting his voice during our show (this happens on Saturday matinees). His understudy, Donnie Keshawarz, in his first real run-through, more than rose to the challenge; the audience loved him.
Euan Morton is scarily like Boy George, and even has George's butterscotch vocal characteristics. Carey Shields, as Marcus, George's straight boyfriend, has a great biker look with a rock-and-roll power anthem voice. And Sarah Uriarte Berry, who plays an invented lover of late real-life art-world icon Leigh Bowery, gives the show much-needed kookiness.
But I think the real credit for "Taboo" has to go to Boy George. Culture Club had a lot of hits ("Time," "I'll Tumble 4 Ya," and "The War Song" were some of the others). But he was pretty much on the endangered pop-stars list, destined for a long career of trivia shows and revival concerts. Instead he kicked heroin, grew up and triumphed.
The songs in "Taboo" can never be as big as the original hits because we know him now. But they are beautifully crafted pop songs which could be — and should be — covered by some big-name pop stars.
"The Fame Game," "Come On In From the Outside," and "Love Is a Question Mark" are all destined for radio play once the show's score is released on an album. (I'm told a deal is being worked out now.)
So it's off to opening night this Thursday. The daily theater critics start filtering in on tomorrow night. It's nail-biting time. But I can't imagine that even the most hard-hearted of the bunch will be anything but pleasantly surprised by "Taboo."
Broadway is overrun by revivals, or shows with recycled music stitched together ("Mamma Mia"). Right now "The Boy From Oz," a show with songs far less memorable, is considered a hit. That's why I do think "Taboo" — warts and all — could very well catch on the way "Rent" did.