Wednesday, April 24, 2024

May Finally Ends: Coming Back After Cannes, World War Z, Mel Brooks and More


I am finally back in New York, and home. May was a long, long month that began on the 10th, when I left for Cannes. Since then I’ve been in Paris, London, and Los Angeles. I went to the “World War Z” premiere in London and then to Hollywood for the AFI tribute to Mel Brooks. Tonight, with Cindy Crawford sitting in first class, my American Airlines flight had to circle JFK for an hour in driving rain and couldn’t land on the first try. We had to shut off all the iPads and “other electronic devices.” I watched, without audio, an idiotic TV show in which some man from Los Angeles wanted to pay his plastic surgeon with Lichtenstein print. That’s L.A. I am so glad to be home.

What went on in May? It was like a blur. I am still thinking about the finale of “The Office,” which so well written and produced that it should be in the TV Hall of Fame. It was everything most series finales are not. “The Office” was often underrated. But it really was a sly gift.

My favorite movie of the month was Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha.” Greta Gerwig is so effortlessly charming in it. And Mickey Sumner makes an important debut as her best friend. This is Baumbach’s “Annie Hall,” a real treat, and not to be missed.

Mickey’s dad, Sting, put on a workshop performance of his soon to be musical “The Last Ship.” I was asked not to write about it. Then Michael Riedel bared his fangs and got it all wrong. The music was breathtaking. The book is still being tweaked. A year from now, “The Last Ship” will be in the Tony mix. In September Sting will release an album with some of the songs. I’ve heard he’s also performing them at the Public Theater, but it’s confirmed.

I was surprised “The Sapphires” just sort of died on the vine. What a wonderful film. It’s made a little over $2 million just on word of mouth. But it could have done so much more. I hope people will see it on DVD.

What’s happened to Paris Jackson is the worst thing of all. I’m sure she will be all right. But this smart, savvy, verbal teenager — who only a year ago saved her grandmother by being a courageous communicator– proved to be human. I hesitate to report on her because she’s still a kid. But she’s on the right path now.

We brace ourselves for Sunday’s Tony Awards. I’d love to see these winners: Tom Hanks, Kristine Nielsen, Keala Settle, Billy Porter, and “Kinky Boots.” Cyndi Lauper must win Best Original Score. But who knows? All we know is it will be a terrific show, and back at Radio City Music Hall!

Some more notes later…and oh yes, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner– you must watch the AFI show on June 15th on TNT. A great night.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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