On this day in music history: July 7, 1987 - “Paid In Full”, the debut album by Eric B. & Rakim is released. Produced by Eric B. & Rakim, it is recorded at Marley Marl’s House Of Hits and Power Play Studios in New York City in Early 1986 and Mid 1987. Following the break out success of their debut single “Eric B. Is President”, released on New York independent label Zakia Records, Eric B. & Rakim are signed to Island Records subsidiary 4th & B'Way in early 1987. With the exception of “President”, the first album by the New York based DJ/Rap duo is recorded in only a weeks worth of studio time. Upon its release, it both firmly establishes Eric B. & Rakim  and set a new high water mark for rap music as an art form, both lyrically and production wise. Anchored by Rakim’s (aka William Griffin) unique vocal delivery and gift for intricate lyrical metaphors along with the production, breaks new ground within the genre, going on to inspire and influence generations of rappers and producers who follow them. The album spins off five singles including “Eric B. Is President”, “I Know You Got Soul” and the title track. The albums iconic cover artwork features a photo of the duo wearing custom made “Gucci” garments from famed fashion designer Dapper Dan’s Harlem boutique, which become an enduring images in Hip Hop culture.  In 2003, a double CD Deluxe Edition of the album is released featuring a remastered disc of the original album, with the second CD containing  the original US and UK 12" single remixes and dub versions, including the “Seven Minutes Of Madness” remix of the title track by UK DJ/remixers Coldcut. “Paid In Full” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fifty eight on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

How I spent this evening - Madam Secretary panel at Paleyfest

Who was there – Tea Leoni, Tim Daley, Zeljko Ivanek, Bebe Neuwirth, Keith Carradine, showrunners Barbara Hall and Lori McCreary.  CBS This Morning anchor Nora O'Donnell was the panel’s moderator.

I walked in with Zeljko Ivanek.   Yay Roland Fuller (obscure sesason one X-Files reference).

They showed the episode “The Linchpin”, which airs Sunday.  As with Elementary last weekend, they asked we keep the plot points quiet and I will.  That said, it was a really solid episode.

As for the panel…Tea Leoni finds Elizabeth McCord is a lot like her father.  She has the ability to make the person she is dealing with at any time feel like they are the most important person in whatever situation they find themselves in.  

Meeting Madeleine Albright was intimidating because while she is a woman of slight physical stature, she’s a real force. Albright’s line in her guest appearance about the world having enough room for mediocre men but no room for mediocre women was provided by Albright herself – it is a favorite quote.

While the topics they cover are serious, all the characters have a healthy sense of humor.  This is important.  It really helps that most of the lead performers have sitcoms or comedies in their backgrounds.  They can do all the heavy stuff but add a lighthearted moment with ease.  Leoni also likes when her real life intersects with Elizabeth’s private life.  Both Leoni and Elizabeth are going through the college admission process with their daughters.

Tea Leoni forgot the panel was tonight and was ready to go home when she remembered.  She was working today so she went to the rack where they have Elizabeth’s clothes and wound up wearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers tee-shirt she wears to bed on the show as her top.

Leoni makes a mean breakfast – she starts your day off right and then wants you out of her house.  As for dinner, you’re on your own.

Tim Daly saw President Clinton at the Democratic Convention.  The former President wanted a full rundown on how Henry does his spy stuff and lives with the Secretary of State.  He also met Madeline Albright when he was working on Private Practice.  She wanted to know about Pete and Violet which made him laugh but then made sense – everybody has their shows.

Daly’s father, uncle, aunt and a cousin all served in the military.  His uncle became an FBI Agent, his aunt at one point was the highest ranking female in the U.S. military (his dad was actor James Daly).  What he hopes viewers get from the show is that there are good hearted and smart people working day in and day out for their country without any interest in politics or power, just doing what’s right.

Zeljko Ivanek likes that Russell Jackson is tough but funny.  Russell understands that if he wants to get things done for the President and for the country, they have to stay in office.  Being in the room is how things get done and it is his job to make sure President Dalton stays in the room.  Ivanek did a play with Tim Daly years ago – they’ve know each other for over 35-years.

Bebe Neuwirth loves playing Nadine.  Nadine doesn’t say much, does more with a look or just her actually presence than long bits of dialogue.  As a Broadway person – all the actors on the stage had long B'way credits except Tea Leoni (a Broadway fan), Neuwirth loves that the show is shot here in New York and that all these programs are being shot here.  Playbills for Broadway shows have gone from credits in the Law and Orders to including Elementary, The Good Wife and Madam Secretary.  Neuwirth only knew Tim Daly before the show started – she did an episode of Wings.

Lots of people walk up to Keith Carradine and call him Mr. President.  His most recent encounter was his favorite.  He was in Whole Foods shopping and a fellow passed him in the aisle and nodded with a respectful “Mr. President” before continuing his shopping.  In recent weeks, people have said to him they’d like to write in Conrad Dalton as president.  He begs them not to waste their votes and he really doesn’t want the job.  

The showrunners are nine episodes into season three without ever telling the audience if Dalton and his administration are Democrats or Republicans.  That is intentional and will stay intentional as long as they can.  Bebe Neuwirth said the people who have asked her tend to bring their own biases to it.  They like the show, they like the Dalton so he must be whatever their political party is.

The production schedule is tough.  Executive Producer Lori McCreary has a long background in film.  A two-hour film is made over 45-55 shooting days, depending on the film.  The typical Madam Secretary episode is shot over eight days.  In 16-days, they complete what a feature film has at least a month longer to shoot.

The program is hoping to get a UNICEF storyline.  Tea Leoni’s paternal grandmother was part of the founding of the organization and she really wants that to be a big storyline.


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Check out each one individually in the shop for full descriptions :)

As always, I offer payment plans if you can’t pay everything up front; we just have to deal with it individually through PayPal :) 


James Franco Trains His Sights on B'way

James Franco Gives a damn.

That is Prolific Franco is no longer newsworthy. A relentlessly curious actor, Franco Has won plaudits and raspberries for Refusing to labels. He Could have easily become (or rather, stayed) to heartthrob. An Oscar nominee for “127 Hours,” He Has the chops to pursued as a career as a serious actor. And anyone who saw 2013’s “This Is the End”-or His Comedy Central Roast knows he’s funny. Instead of settling, Franco Has used the opportunities afforded him to work in varied fields as many as he can. From books to painting to a seemingly endless round of higher education, he’s made a meal out of confounding His critics and His thrilling fans. I know Franco turning to Broadway Is not a surprise. That it’s taken him until 2014 to make His Broadway debut is.

Initially announced securities for a revival of “Sweet Bird of Youth,” co-starring Nicole Kidman and directed by David Cromer, That fell through two production to scheduling conflicts. Now Franco is at last on Broadway in a revival of “Of Mice and Men,” directed by Anna D. Shapiro and co-starring Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester, Both Also Making Their Main Stem debuts.

“Obviously, I was flirting with Broadway,” Franco says of That earlier, aborted project. “I love theater, I go as much as possible. It’s been a big part of my life for so long, but just as a fan and a viewer and as a student. ”

He’s at the start of a busy press day for “Of Mice and Men,” sitting in an unused storage room at the New York Public Library. He’s subdued than blackberries His busy schedule would indicated, less manic and more relaxed than one Expects. But while he’s Referring to “Sweet Bird of Youth,” his flirtations Also included an earlier incarnation of “Of Mice and Men,” Shapiro One That Brought him to a few years in August

That one also fell through two to scheduling conflicts, but Franco is nothing less than determined-if he wants to try something, he’ll make it happen. So he set aside enough time to take on Broadway (though continuing to teach courses at UCLA every weekend) and he and producer David Binder Began discussing a possible production of “Of Mice and Men.”

“We Talked about directors, and he said, ‘What about Anna?’ "Franco Recalls. ”'Not only was she going to do the original one and wanted you, but look at this interview in the New York Times where they asked her and she said her dream production" Of Mice and Men “! So not only is she the best director, this is her dream production! ’ And I think there was one second where she was like, 'Oh my god, James is pulling me back after he did not do the other?’ And then right after That, it was, 'Yes! Here it is, everything I wanted! Let’s fucking do it! ’ ”

For Shapiro, Franco always Seemed like the perfect fit for George, the crafty itinerant ranch hand Whose longing for an independent life with His friend Lennie is the heartbreaking, cracked version of the American dream at the story’s center.

“There Seems to always be something going on underneath,” she says of Franco. “Whether it’s His enchanting smile or His brooding poet, there’s always an undercurrent of something that’s not knowable. I always felt That [George] is not uncomplicated, Because that guy is a very, very controlled person. And When you have to play a person like that, it helps if you are charismatic yourself as a person. ”

Franco Himself is an accomplished director, having tackled subjects as diverse as Sal Mineo (“Sal”), William Friedkin’s cult classic “Cruising” (“Interior. Leather Bar”), and William Faulkner (“As I Lay Dying”). But Franco Also is sharp enough to know When to put Himself at the mercy Of Those smarter than he, a tactic he is decidedly taking with “Of Mice and Men.”

“I’m really letting Anna show me the way,” he says. “She’s ushering me into a new world, in the theatrical world, and there are slightly different ways-or in some cases very big differences-between the ways you work on a stage character and a movie character.”

Franco’s not Referring to That old saw about theater actors being too big for movies and movie actors too unused to crafting an arc to take the stage successfully. He cites His former co-star Patti LuPone, with-whom he worked on “City by the Sea,” as an example of the performers know how to recalibrate a performance based on the medium. But coming to the movie theater from Requires a performer to get it right than blackberries ounces.

“In a movie, you only have to get each take or set-up right once,” he says. “So if you’re doing multiple takes, you’re honing it or you’re looking for something new. But once you have That, you can move on. [And] you always know there’s going to be an editor compiling this material, I know things can always be manipulated, sped-up movies are all about manipulating the audience is going to where and when to look. Whereas in the theater, all that editing, all that working on pacing, and direction of all that attention is designed beforehand. ”

That Franco Discusses rehearsals more like a director’s apprentice than as an actor making a very difficult publicized debut in a lead role That finds him onstage for most of the show’s running time is as unlikely as it is refreshing.

Shapiro Has noticed it, as well, saying, “He Has every reason in the world to be tired, every reason in the world to be suspicious, and he is none of Those Things. He’s an open, curious, loving human being, and he brings That pretty quickly, and that’s a pretty impressive set of traits for someone Whose life is under a freakin 'microscope. ”

He’s planning to direct His Own play later this year at Off-Broadway’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, know His eagerness to absorb knowledge from the director of “August: Osage County” is understandable. And a fuller understanding of any medium always adds to the layers of power and performance in, something to Which Franco’s sensitive antennae have long Been tuned. He can talk as knowledgably about the Importance of pacing as he does about the way His character, George, sits in His body now.

In the film I was always taught, 'Do your research, be prepared, know your character, but save That last bit of vitality, That last bit of spontaneity for the camera,’” he says. “Here, it’s almost like carving a path for the character That I can track blackberries or less each night. And I know each performance will feel slightly different, but it seems like it’s not about finding That spontaneous thing as much as a very deep understanding of the character That You can tap into each night. ”

And for Frank, the consummate overachiever, That path will no doubt become well worn.

I don’t care what Bubbles says.  Annie may not be the best musical, but I still love it.  It’s cheesy.  It’s silly.  But sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

And then you get the ‘96 Wonderful World of Disney version (with, y'know, Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, Kathy Bates, Alan Cummings, and oh yeah: Cheno), and it has this beautiful little medley in it, and I forget every reason I can get annoyed by Annie.

'B'WAY' by Ravyn LaRue

I’m getting verklempt
over a mere broadway documentary
and the fact
that I may get a chance to peruse those streets soon
is incomprehensible to me
while I’m on the couch
planning to pilgrimage to the New Amsterdam theater
grinning haplessly over Sweeney Todd
squealing at the Emcee
swooning over HAIR
crying over Lion King
sobbing over Jonathan Larson’s
singing along with ‘I am what I am’ like I did in Chicago
and hearing the chorus dancers
talk of how they saw this or that
and believed for the first time
they had somewhere to belong
and they hope to find that kid in the audience
and I will be in that audience someday
and I might be on that stage someday
I must be on some stage someday