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Garry Marshall to direct 'Billy & Ray' in New York

"Billy & Ray" -- a stage play about Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler and the making of "Double Indemnity" -- opened at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank last year to rave reviews, running for a little more than a month at the 130-seat theater space. The drama, directed by filmmaker Garry Marshall, will have its New York debut this coming season in an off-Broadway production at the Vineyard Theatre, near Union Square. The company said on Tuesday that the play will kick off its 2014-15 season, with an official opening scheduled for Oct. 20. "Billy & Ray" was written by Mike Bencivenga and starred Kevin Blake and Shaun O'Hagan during its run in Burbank. (No casting has been announced for New York.) The drama follows the often fractious relationship between Wilder and Chandler as they set about adapting James M. Cain's novel for the big screen. A Times review called the production "a vivid, suspenseful portrait of the creation of the movie that may have invented film noir." Marshall, the...

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Norton Simon Museum seeks rehearing after 'Adam and Eve' setback

A bite of the apple is said to have gotten Adam and Eve thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Now the Norton Simon Museum wants another bite at the apple as it tries to have a legal threat to one of its most prized artworks thrown out of court. At stake are Lucas Cranach the Elder’s 1530 paired paintings “Adam” and “Eve,” which have hung in the Pasadena museum since the 1970s. The museum has asked for a rehearing of a June decision that went against it in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, when two members of a three-judge panel revived Marei Von Saher’s claim to “Adam” and “Eve” after it had been dismissed two years earlier in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The museum’s petition seeks a rehearing of the legal issues by a 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, in hopes a majority will take a different view. It's pinning its hopes on the expanded panel seeing things the way the dissenting judge on the three-member panel did. “Adam” and “Eve,” painted on separate wooden panels, were...

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Renee Fleming makes debut in a play at Williamstown Theatre Festival

Renée Fleming has performed dozens of opera's leading roles in a professional career that has spanned three decades. This month, the soprano is trying something altogether new for her -- she's starring in a stage play. The new role isn't actually such a huge departure: Fleming plays a beloved American opera star who is contending with aging and the professional challenges that come with no longer being young, or even middle-aged. "Living on Love,"  running through Saturday at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, follows the comically competitive relationship between a world-renowned diva, Raquel (Fleming), and her fiery conductor husband, Vito (Douglas Sills). Writer Joe DiPietro based his play on the stage comedy "Peccadillo" by Garson Kanin. He has re-teamed with director Kathleen Marshall, with whom he worked on the recent Broadway production of "Nice Work If You Can Get It." As their competitive spirits get the best of them, Raquel and Vito hire rival assistants to...

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Museum of Death in L.A. buys Kevorkian suicide device Thanatron

The Thanatron, a lethal contraption built by Jack Kevorkian to expedite assisted suicides -- earning him the nickname “Dr. Death” -- is now at possibly the only museum that would relish showing it. That’s the Museum of Death in Hollywood, which is nearing its 20th anniversary of marshaling memorabilia of mortality for the public’s entertainment and edification -- at least that portion of the public that has the stomach for it. The Thanatron came on the market last spring at Gallerie Sparta in West Hollywood, which showcased it along with about a dozen of Kevorkian’s oil paintings. The Museum of Death’s co-founders and proprietors, J.D. Healy and Cathee Schultz, are now the proud owners of the Thanatron and one of the paintings, “Fever,” in which a grimacing man’s see-through torso glows red. He doesn't appear to be dead but clearly is suffering. Kevorkian designed the Thanatron to release chemicals from tubes hung from a simple, clunky-looking frame. The device would deliver a...

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Single Wing Turquoise Bird flashes back to its '60s light shows

It's not your typical Vegas-style light show. Single Wing Turquoise Bird formed in 1968 to create light shows at the Shrine Auditorium for the likes of Cream, the Who and the Velvet Underground. The experimental arts collective devised baroque visual pastiches of ancient and modern art rooted firmly in the psychedelic vocabulary of the time. ------------ FOR THE RECORD: Art collective: A July 21 Calendar section article on the art collective Single Wing Turquoise Bird said member Shayne Hood was in his 40s. Hood is in her 40s. ------------ After nearly 35 years apart, the seven-member collective re-formed, and it's staging its latest installation at the Young Projects gallery in West Hollywood through Aug. 9. The show follows the group's full-room installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, a grant from the Getty Research Institute to perform at UCLA's Broad Art Center and two sold-out shows in April at USC. David James, a USC professor of cinema and expert in avant-garde...

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1960s art collective stages midsummer party at Young Projects Gallery

Electronic dance music VJs take heed! Single Wing Turquoise Bird, the great-grandfathers and mothers of the modern-day light show, are back together after a 40-year hiatus. Its work, which USC professor of cinema David James calls a "spontaneous, improvised composition of visual music," can be seen at Young Projects Gallery in the Pacific Design Center through Aug. 9. On Saturday, the public can meet the seven-person art collective, whose members are now in their 60s and 70s, during a midsummer's night party at the gallery from 7 to 11 p.m. They are David Lebrun, Amy Halpern, Shayne Hood, Larry Janss, Peter Mays, Jeff Perkins and Michael Scroggins. Working with old-school film projectors, video mixers and early PowerPoint technology, the collective, which formed in 1968 to create light shows for rock 'n' roll bands at the Shrine Auditorium, projects an ephemeral mix of film, slides and liquids onto a screen accompanied by live or recorded music. Their early light shows for bands...

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James Franco gets bad reviews for theater directing debut

If you thought Rex Reed's reviews of Melissa McCarthy were harsh, his recent assessment of James Franco's debut as a theater director is even more withering.  The cranky New York Observer critic was one of several reviewers who panned Franco's staging of the new off-Broadway play "The Long Shrift" with the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York.  The play by Robert Boswell, running through Aug. 23, is notable for being one of two theater projects that the career-multitasking Franco has worked on in recent weeks. As many of the reviews noted, the star has juggled directing responsibilities on the play with his current role on Broadway in "Of Mice and Men," which has eight performances a week.  For "The Long Shrift," Franco re-teamed with actor Scott Haze, who appeared in the Franco-directed movies "Child of God" and "As I Lay Dying." Haze plays an accused rapist, and the drama follows his often turbulent emotional journey following his release from prison.  The bad reviews seem to...

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African American Museum director Charmaine Jefferson steps down

Charmaine Jefferson is resigning after 11 years as executive director of the California African American Museum in Exposition Park, to focus on an arts consulting business attuned to audience-building and education. Jefferson, 60, said Friday is her last day at the museum, which is owned and primarily funded by the state of California. It focuses on African American arts and history, with an emphasis on California and the west. “I walk away excited about what we’ve accomplished, and that there’s still a future in front of me to test my wings on,” Jefferson said. She said her achievements include building attendance to more than 100,000 visitors a year on a campus where the African American Museum operates almost literally in the shadow of two much larger museums -- the California Science Center, which recently has added the space shuttle Endeavour and a large ecosystems wing to its regular procession of touring exhibitions, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where...

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San Diego Opera settles with former director Ian Campbell

San Diego Opera said on Friday it has resolved its differences with Ian Campbell, the former longtime general and artistic director who left the company in May after the company's announcement of its intention to close was met by a significant internal and public backlash. The opera said in a statement that it has mutually resolved its differences with Campbell and his ex-wife Ann Spira Campbell, a former high-ranking adminstrator at the company. It said the differences arose out of their former employment relationships with the opera. "Out of respect for each other's privacy, no further comments about these resolutions will be made by any of the parties," the opera said in the statement. In April, the opera placed Campbell and Ann Spira Campbell on leave. A company spokesman said in an interview at the time that the Campbells would no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization, but they were still being paid and were technically still part of the company. The...

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Elaine Stritch, 89: Five noteworthy performances

This post has been updated. See details below. Elaine Stritch, the theatrical force of nature who died on Thursday at 89, was a foul-mouthed New York legend who seemed to deliver her best performances when she was playing thinly veiled versions of her irascible self. Sometimes on stage, she actually was herself, as in her career-topping swan song "Elaine Stritch at Liberty," a Tony Award-winning solo show in which she dissected with brutal honesty her stage career, personal life and decades-long struggle with the bottle.  Though some theatrical actors disappear into roles, Stritch was usually Stritch, especially in her later years, when her ample biographical baggage was often deployed as subtext for her characters. Her outsized personality was the stuff of countless cocktail conversations among New York's theater set, which never seemed to tire of Stritch anecdotes, whether delivered by the actress herself or her many costars. In a bumpy career that almost came to an end in the late...

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Bryan Cranston returning to LBJ role in 'All the Way' for HBO

Unlike Zoe Caldwell, Ron Leibman and Kathleen Chalfant, actor Bryan Cranston will return to a role he played on the New York stage for a small-screen adaptation by HBO.   Cranston will step back into his Tony Award-winning role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the HBO adaptation of the play "All the Way," the cable channel said this week. The movie version of Robert Schenkkan's stage drama is being executive produced by Steven Spielberg. "All the Way" ran on Broadway this past season at the Neil Simon Theatre, following an engagement at the American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts. The nearly three-hour drama follows Johnson's first months in the Oval Office: the aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. The play debuted at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2012 with a cast that included actor Jack Willis as Johnson.  HBO Films has adapted a few successful stage plays for the small screen, including "Angels in America," "Wit,"...

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'Family Planning' at the Colony Theatre fails to dig deep

They whine, they can’t share, they’re pathologically needy … all the familiar complaints about child rearing surface in “Family Planning,” but not in the way you might expect. Michelle Kholos Brooks’ new comedy at the Colony Theatre turns today’s “repopulating the empty nest” trend on its head: Instead of economically pummeled children returning to live with their parents, it's the latter who elbow their way back into the home of their exasperated offspring. The New York suburban Jews in question may be secularized, but their neuroses remain undiluted, particularly in the way they poke at one another’s emotional sore spots (their dysfunctional vocabulary for intimacy). It’s a territory playwright Brooks clearly knows well and, despite some labored plotting, charts with squirm-inducing authenticity amid her comic hyperbole. The play’s debut outing benefits greatly from TV veterans Christina Pickles and Bruce Weitz’s polished charisma as the divorced elders, Diane and Larry, fleeing...

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