“I could not have had a happier place to go when I wasn’t in the midst of the tsunami — the wonderful tsunami — that was Hamilton,“ says the actor/playwright/composer/songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda of writing seven original songs for the Disney animated film Moana while simultaneously appearing in the biggest Broadway phenomenon in history.
In 2008, In the Heights, a show about three days in the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights, debuted on Broadway, and quickly put Miranda firmly on the map — it won the best musical Tony and ran for three years. Ahead of his first vacation from it in 2009, Miranda visited the Borders bookstore that used to be in the Time Warner Center and bought Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography to bring with him. At an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, he began reading it while laying in a hammock over a pool, and by the end of the second chapter, he says, "I realized this was a very compelling story and this was a hip-hop story” that could and should be told with color-blind casting to illustrate who we were then with artists who reflect who we are now. “I was never picturing the literal founders, even as I was reading the book for the first time,” he adds. “Even then, I’m thinking, 'Who’s the best rapper to play George Washington?’ It was the good idea that kept proving me right over the course of the book in lots of different interesting ways.”
In May 2009, Miranda received an invitation to perform a song at the White House, and decided that, rather than doing something from In the Heights, he would sing the first number he had composed for what he then envisioned solely as an album, to be called The Hamilton Mixtape. The footage went viral and, by 2012, when he was invited to be the focus of an American Songbook evening at Lincoln Center, he had written 10 more Hamilton-related songs to go with it. Soon thereafter, he secured financial backing to turn it into a full-fledged musical Off Broadway at The Public Theater, and he and Kail began readying it for that format. Meanwhile, seven months before rehearsals were to begin at The Public, Miranda was offered — and accepted — a chance to realize his lifelong dream of writing music for a Disney animated movie when the studio hired him to write seven songs for Moana, the story of a Polynesian princess, one of which became “How Far I’ll Go,” for which he received best original song Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe noms en route to his Oscar nom.
For most of the last two years, Moana and Hamilton have dominated Miranda’s time away from his wife and son, who was born three weeks before Hamilton first was mounted — not just writing music for Moana and performing seven times a week during Hamilton’s Off Broadway run at The Public (January through May of 2015) and its Broadway run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (August 2015 through July 2016), but also promoting both and, since his departure from Hamilton, constantly keeping a finger on the pulse of the show as it prepares to spread around the globe. (He still was part of the Broadway company during a “really tough” conversation about cast members’ desire for profit-sharing, which he recalls as “tricky for me,” but which ultimately was resolved amicably.) Only recently has he been able to shift part of his focus to other things, as well, including temporarily moving to London in order to act for Disney opposite Emily Blunt in a sequel to the 1964 movie musical classic Mary Poppins.
But, Miranda insists, Hamilton and Hamilton are not altogether in his rearview mirror. He just read In the Heights playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes’ first draft of a script for a film version of that show, and says a Hamilton film will happen one day, too — but not for years, so that people have ample time to see the stage version first. “I don’t think I’m done with that role, by any stretch,” he says emphatically. “It’s just a meal of a role. In other shows, maybe you have a part where you get to fall in love, maybe you have a part where you get to fight in a gun duel, maybe you get a part where you get to have an affair, maybe you get a part where you lose a loved one and get to explore all that. In Hamilton you do all of that! You do everything you do in life in two hours and 45 minutes. You live your fullest life. So that never gets old.”
Thanks to the successes of themed dining and shopping districts like Universal’s CityWalk and Disney’s Downtown Disney, other entertainment conglomerates were eager to jump on the bandwagon. One such studio was Warner Brothers Studios, which toyed with the idea of building a sprawling Art Deco-inspired complex on the edge of their legendary Burbank studio lot. This piece, by visionary artist Syd Mead, shows off a futuristic and spacious vision for the center, anchored by a magnificent WB-encrusted spire. Like many projects, WB’s center never materialized.
realchristianslater My wife and I spent an incredible morning with @bestfriendsanimalsociety at the NKLA Super Adoption, open today and tomorrow at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills. There are hundreds of puppies, dogs, cats and kittens that are hoping to find a home this weekend. Please stop by and meet them and all of the wonderful volunteers and organizations that commit their time and resources to saving the lives of innocent animals. Thank you @emmyrossum and @samesmail for introducing us to this amazing organization and for asking for donations to @bestfriendsanimalsociety instead of wedding gifts. We sponsored an hour of adoptions today in your honor! #SaveThemAll (x)
Listened to the commentary for the pilot of Kings last night. The commentary was done by series star, Ian McShane (Silas), showrunner/creator Michael Green, and director of the episode Francis Lawrence.
Some interesting tidbits:
- Sebastian Stan was the first actor cast, and was part of the first group of actors who read for the show. "He was so clearly the right choice“ He also punched a wall in his audition and hurt his hand.
- The script was written with Ian McShane in mind to play the role of Silas, but they had been told that he was not interested in doing television. McShane read the script, and wanted to do it. They went to meet him in NY, and the rest is history.
- They saw hundreds of actors for the role of David before they settled on Christopher Egan. They wanted an actor who could sell the characters goodness, but also appear believable as a character who might make some big mistakes down the line (much like biblical David).
- Chris Egan really does play the piano, and is actually playing the pieces that you hear on the show.
- Everything was filmed in NY, with the NY Public Library interior used extensively. The exterior couldn’t be used because work was being done to the building. The royal residence was mostly filmed at an abandoned mansion on Long Island. The battle scenes were filmed in a muddy field in Far Rockaway, right near an airport. The scenes of the King and his cabinet and the spectators was filmed at the Time Warner Center for the pilot, but the set was built and recreated for scenes during the series. The Brooklyn Museum was also used for exterior shots.
- The kitchen ended up being a problematic set, and there weren’t happy with it in the end.
- When David rescues Jack, and the other solider, and they are running from the bullets, and jump into the foxhole, Sebastian got nailed in the head by the backpack Chris Egan was carrying which had an RPG in it (fake, I hope). The scream he lets out was not scripted, and they used the take he got hurt in, and didn’t do another.
- Allison Miller (Michelle Benjamin) was one of the last roles cast
- The first scene filmed was Rev Samuels confronting Silas on the outside staircase about the ambush of Jack and his troops. The second scene filmed was this confrontation between Jack and Silas
- They loved Silas’ dialogue for this scene (and McShane insisted that Jack was bisexual, which I thought went against show cannon), and comments went something like this:
"Sebastian is so great” (Green or Lawrence)
“He’s such a good kid" (McShane)
"He’s terrific…when he’s not punching his fist into walls, but thats part of his intensity" (Green or Lawrence)
- The last scene they filmed for the episode was the scene of Jack in the nightclub with the girls draped over him. They seemed to think Sebastian, and the girl that kissed him, were enjoying that scene.
- One of the decisions that was made was to play it as though Rose was a bit in love with her son, and scenes of her being pleased or upset with him were played more as a lover then a mother. To quote Green ”Its sick…but it worked"
- Originally, Michelle was to have told David about her illness, and her promise to God in the pilot, but it was decided to let that be her mystery that was revealed over time.
- They got a lot of flack for making Jack antagonistic towards David, deviating from their relationship in the source material, but the thinking was that they wanted to create a relationship that could evolve and change over time. (My comment: One of my disappointments with Kings is that this relationship doesn’t really evolve that much over the course of the series, and unfortunately they don’t say on the commentary what they had intended to do with it)
Thats the highlights, as per me. I wish they had talked a bit more about where they would’ve taken the show in a 2nd season. This commentary was clearly done after the show had already gone off the air, so its not like they would spoil anything. The only time they really address how the show ended is to mention Silas being at war with God.
Also, I’m sure they had some commentary on the Helen/Serenity stuff, but since its my least favorite element of the show overall, I ignored it.
Time Warner Center. Midtown. The stars in the center’s atrium change
colors every few seconds and are very visible from inside and out.
Speaking of outside, this is a good opportunity to explain where we are
in Manhattan for those not from around here.
If you look out the atrium, we are facing east:
Directly in front of us (circle) is Columbus Circle.
On the left (trees) is the southern border of Central Park.
On the right (buildings) is the northern border of Midtown.
The street (behind the circle) separating the Park and Midtown is 59th Street, better know as Central Park South. ($$$$$)
Everything from this corner of the park and north is the Upper West Side. ($$$$$)
you walked up Central Park South to the other corner of Central Park,
everything to your left and north would be the Upper East Side. ($$$$$)
to say, we are in the heart of some of the most expensive real estate
in the world. Anything close to Central Park commands top dollar. This
goes not only for real estate, but shopping and restaurants as well.
While the Upper East and West Sides are prime locations, there are
differences in the people that live on each side of the park. I’ll cover
those differences when I get there…
Network - 9th Avenue. Watercolor on Paper. 22 x 30"
Looking north up Ninth Avenue from the corner of west 50th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, NYC. This area lies just west of the busiest parts of Midtown, but for now it is still comparatively quiet residential neighborhood. Ninth Avenue in the 40s and 50s is lined with an incredible variety of family-owned international restaurants, bakeries and delis - all of which are slowly being replaced by upscale bars and eateries. In the distance are the twin towers of the Time Warner Center, built in 2003 at Columbus Circle on the corner of Central Park, and the Hearst Tower, built in 2006. Despite being surrounding by some of the most rapid development in the city, for now Hell’s Kitchen is holding on to its past.
This will be the acting debut for the One Direction heartthrob.
In a casting move that can be described as boy band meets Battle of the Bulge, One Direction member Harry Styles will be joining the production of Christopher Nolan’s WWII drama Dunkirk.
The Warner Bros. film centers on the British military evacuation of the French city of Dunkirk in 1940.
Newcomer Fionn Whitehead has also be tapped to star in the project, which has already cast Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh.
Production on the film, which will be shot on 65mm large format film and Imax, will begin in May.
Dunkirk will be the Styles’ feature film debut. Last summer, it was announced that One Direction would disband in 2016 and would not tour for their fifth studio album, so this casting may mark a career shift for the British recording artists, from the arena stage to the silver screen.