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'Fish in the Dark,' with Larry David, gets mixed reviews on Broadway

"Fish in the Dark," Larry David's first Broadway play, is one of the hottest tickets in New York, playing to sold-out houses since previews began in February and generating high-profile publicity, including a "60 Minutes" profile on the veteran writer-actor of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld." 

The comedy, which opens Friday at the Cort Theatre, has reportedly generated advance sales of $13.5 million, which would put it well on the road to profitability, if not already place it squarely in the black. Seats are going for as high as $423.

David stars in the production as a familiar version of his screen persona -- neurotic, un-politically correct and irritatingly self-absorbed. His character, Norman Drexel, has returned home as his father lies dying in a hospital. The story follows Norman's comic interactions with his extended family and how the revelation of a big secret alters their relationships with each other.

The ensemble cast includes Rita Wilson as Norman's wife, Ben...

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Stage actors' wage fight pits Tim Robbins against Charlayne Woodard

A play in which Tim Robbins and Charlayne Woodard squared off as antagonists would likely draw a sizable audience.

Instead the two stars have squared off on opposite sides of an internecine struggle within Actors’ Equity, the national stage actors’ union.

At issue is whether union actors should be paid at least $9 an hour for their work in Los Angeles theaters of 99 seats or less, or be allowed to continue drawing much less than that, as they have in L.A. for decades.

Starting March 25, more than 6,000 Equity members in Los Angeles County will be able to vote on the $9 an hour proposal advanced last month by the national union leadership.

But the final say lies with the union’s 81-member national governing council, which is expected to deliberate on April 21, taking into account, but not bound by, the results of the “advisory” vote in L.A.

Actors get a token stipend of $7 to $15 for each performance in small theaters, depending on the ticket price and number of seats. Rehearsal time is...

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World Press Photo contest rescinds a first-place award

In a rare reversal, the prestigious World Press Photo contest has revoked a first-place prize recently awarded to a photographer after the organization learned that the submission, depicting the depressed city of Charleroi, Belgium, contained false information.

Photographer Giovanni Troilo's submission -- a photo essay titled "La Ville Noire -- The Dark Heart of Europe" -- contained a photograph of a painter creating a work with live models. Contest officials said Wednesday that the photo was shot in Molenbeek, Brussels, and not in Charleroi, where the photographer claimed it was shot.

"La Ville Noire" was awarded the first-place prize in the contest's contemporary issues category. The series purports to depict the town of Charleroi as a microcosm for the industrial decay, rampant unemployment and overall social unease of present-day Europe.

According to some reports, the controversy over Troilo's portfolio started several days ago when questions were raised about whether another of...

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L.A. theater openings, March 8-15: 'Lifeboat' and more

Two teens cling to a "Lifeboat" at the Wallis, there's a mystery involving mystery writer Particia Highsmith at the Geffen, and something's fishy at South Coast Rep.

Charo The entertainer and flamenco guitarist performs in a Las Vegas-style revue. Soka Performing Arts Center, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo. Sun., 3 p.m. $39-$50. (949) 480-4278

Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Musical revue salutes Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. Sun., 3 p.m. $25 and up. (562) 467-8818

Molly Ringwald The actress-singer performs new songs and standards in this cabaret show. Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Sun., 7 and 9:30 p.m. $20-$35. (866) 468-3399

Suitcase Full of Lies! Nicole Parker’s solo comedy about a former 1970s sitcom star. Rockwell: Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. Mon., 8 p.m. $15-$20. (323) 669-1550

Barbara Cook The Broadway star and cabaret artist performs. Bram...

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Ringling Bros. circus to stop using elephants in traveling shows

For decades, the beloved tent spectacular known as the "Greatest Show on Earth" has featured elephants and other wild animals in its circus acts. On Thursday, the owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus made a surprise announcement that it plans to phase out elephants from its traveling circus performances over the next three years. 

Feld Entertainment, the Florida-based company that owns Ringling, said that 13 Asian elephants currently traveling with the three Ringling Bros. circus units will be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida by 2018.

The 13 elephants will join the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of more than 40 elephants, the company said in the announcement.

Over the years, animal rights activists have protested at Ringling Bros. shows around the country over the company's use of elephants. Asian elephants, which come from southern and southeast Asian countries, including India and Sri Lanka, are an endangered species.

In the...

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David Geffen's $100-million gift in N.Y. raises arts-naming issues in L.A.

This post has been updated. Please see below for details.

“What’s in a name?” was a question for Juliet when she was falling for Romeo, but David Geffen’s $100-million gift to Lincoln Center in New York City demonstrates that it can be one of the trickier questions that an arts organization trying to raise large sums must face.

Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic, will become David Geffen Hall in September, in recognition of the entertainment magnate’s gift toward the venue’s $500-million renovation campaign.

The Associated Press reported that Lincoln Center agreed to pay $15 million to the family of Avery Fisher to free up the naming rights that led to Geffen’s big gift in New York.

It gives Geffen, a New York native but a longtime Los Angeles resident, a presence on the cultural scene in New York to go with the three Los Angeles arts venues that bear his name -- or will, once built.

Several Los Angeles arts organizations are in fundraising mode now, or expect to be,...

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