It's very hush-hush, I guess, but last month Woody Allen rediscovered his roots in stand-up comedy.
Woody, whose pre-movie career produced several classic comedy albums taken from his act, actually got up in front of a crowd and worked like it was the old days.
The occasion was a pilot for a cable TV series called Last Laughs at Pip's. The show was filmed in and is set in the famous Pip's Comedy Club in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Pip's is well known for being a home to new comedians. Adam Sandler and Jerry Seinfeld each played there often when they were starting out.
Jeff Mazzola, who has worked on NBC's Third Watch, produced the pilot with Showtime in mind, according to my sources. But the pilot turned out so well that HBO is now trying to get involved.
The hour-long show stars Vinnie Pastore from The Sopranos, Daphne Rubin-Vega from the Broadway show Rent, Jack Mulcahy from The Brothers McMullen, new comer Chris Tardio, and Pip's real life owner Ray Garvey. Garvey is an actor who's appeared in a dozen or so Woody Allen movies. "Ray cajoled Woody, really worked on him," said my source.
Mazzola, not having a large budget, filmed the show as a SAG experimental film, meaning he only had to pay the actors $100 for their work. But when push came to shove, he and Garvey managed to round up not only Woody, but also Pat Cooper, Colin Quinn, and Jackie Martling from the Howard Stern show to do cameos.
Reticent Woody, according to my sources, has several lines in the TV movie. "He talked about Pip's as a place where someone can come in for free and use the mike," said an observer. "He also told some jokes. It wasn't for a general audience. It was part of the show."
Last Laughs at Pip's must have been on a very tight budget. It wrapped in five days.
Try as we might, no one can stop Frank Wildhorn from writing more bad musicals. The author of Jekyll & Hyde is busy fetching up new clichés for his latest effort, Dracula: The Musical, which is headed to Broadway like it or not.
Yes, that's right, Dracula. The bloodsucker has survived a lot of adaptations, but music? Apparently Christopher Hampton, the man who brought us Les Liaisons Dangereuses many seasons ago, thinks this is a good idea. Des McAnuff will direct the show, which has already had a premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in California.
Wildhorn's other crimes against musical theatre include The Civil War and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I also had the displeasure of once viewing a workshop production of a musical Elliot Ness, something that gratefully will never see the light of day.
Can no one stop him? Apparently not. Wildhorn is behind the latest record release of his wife, singer Linda Eder. They are, for better and much worse, the American version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman.
If sales have anything to do with it, we could probably figure out the Grammy winners now.
It seems that of the five nominated best albums, only one has picked up significantly in sales since the nominations were announced. It's the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, which is back in the top 10, with sales this past week of 50,000 or more copies. Another, Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor, which wasn't nominated for best album but picked up six other nominations, has turned back into a huge hit again.
Meanwhile, U2, Bob Dylan and India.Arie are mired in the lower depths of the Billboard charts without much interest in their Grammy-touted work. This must be especially hard on India.Arie, whose Acoustic Soul album was saved by the Grammy nominations from total obscurity. Evidently the public is not as fascinated with her. Ditto for Bob Dylan's Love and Theft, my personal favorite, and U2's already over sold All That Can Leave Behind album featuring several FM radio hits including "Beautiful Day" and "Stuck in a Moment."