What’s In a Name? The Elsinore Gets New Moniker Just Days Before Opening

As reported here and elsewhere, I am designing The Elsinore at 17 Stanton Street  -but is this true? Alas, I must say no. In a daring move to correct a glaring problem, the players-to-be-named-later at 17 Stanton are dropping the name and opting to go with a new one. Named after the castle Elsinore from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the name didn’t get the desired traction, and hours before opening, the change has been made. I am sworn to secrecy about the new brand, but personally like it a lot more. I thought The Elsinore was an awful name and found few who liked it. On three separate occasions, people heard it and declared "they’ll call it El Snore". At BINGO the other night, a nightlife operator said it was "the worst name he had ever heard." I got all defensive but a thousand "I knows" would not have lessened the feeling of emptiness I felt that something I was building would be saddled with "Elsinore".

William Shakespeare, who I will refer to here as Billy, Willy, Will, the Common Bard, or the Bard of Avon said it best with his "What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I double-checked the spelling of Billy’s last name and got this:
"During Shakespeare’s career as actor and dramatist, variations seemed to have had decreased considerably, and on many documents concerning Shakespeare’s land deals and theatrical company patents, the name is spelled Shakespere, although Shakspeare, Shakspere, Shackspeare, and Shakespeare also appear, often with multiple spellings occurring within the same document."
The 17 Stanton Street space, which is all blue and beautiful, will soon be known by its new name. The Elsinore will soon be forgotten, the sun, the stars, and the moon will rise and set, and the beautiful people will come and drink and be merry and embrace the change as they embrace all change. If they get a little confused or have to think about it too much, they’ll just pop another bottle. The castle Elsinore still stands in Denmark where it always has and will surely remain oblivious to the usurpers and their flock at 17 Stanton.
 
That movie Anonymous, and a whole lot of sharp people (not just internet conspiracy nuts), think Willy may not have written these plays at all. They think this dude Lord Edward de Vere may have been the real author.
 
The new name of 17 Stanton will be revealed today or tomorrow. As the Common Bard once said (maybe): "Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t." Before you go quoting Will at me with stuff like "Lord, what fools these mortals be!’ I’ll sling some Bard of Avon at you: "If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me." I agree, for "therin lies the rub" (attribute to Bill or Lord de Vere, your call). 
 
Will the new name have time to catch on as the joint opens in just a few days? Mr Shackspeare might have said "Boldness be my friend!" This is a bold move by experienced players. I heard their misgivings about the name The Elsinore and quoted Billy Bard at them: "For my part, it was Greek to me." Although something in the back of mind whispered Danish. I continued with another Williamism: "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." When asked what the hell that meant, I replied, "I’m never really sure with The Bard of Avon." I dug deep into Bill and spat out, "I am not bound to please thee with my answer." And doubled-up with "Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness"… to confuse them.
 
Someone sent for some CliffsNotes and slung these Bard bows and arrows at me: "The golden age is before us, not behind us," followed by, "If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottage princes’ palaces." I googled Will and offered "No legacy is so rich as honesty," and then quickly, "I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage where every man must play a part, And mine is a sad one." I could have taken some words of Willy and offered them in The Elsinore’s defense: "Tis better to bear the ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of." I could have tried to make them pause, delay them from this deed with some Common Bard stuff like, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I did not. I agreed with the change. I was sad to say goodbye to "The Elsinore" on some weird nostalgic level, but agree it was just a bad name. I believe that the place and the players will come out of this smelling sweeter than roses without that moniker.
 
The players weighed living with a name they didn’t love but losing some marketing steam or going with something new and grabbing some publicity (like this) to offset that. There is a lot more to this story, but my designer hat is stifling my writer hat.  I have read, indeed, my Shakspere and offer "the pattern of all patience; I will say nothing." I whipped up my Hamlet CliffsNotes and heeded the words from Act V, Scene ii: "The rest is silence."
 
Alas, poor The Elsinore – I knew him. I close with some predictable words from Lord Edward or William Shakespeare… "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."

Bingo and Avenue A Soundcheck Party Tonight, the Passing of Bruce Patras

Tuesdays are the best night of the week for people with heads that tilt like mine. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow. As the warm weather progresses, many successful joints will turn to alternative programming early in the week. These off-the-beaten- path parties on the so-called "off nights" will offset their predictable model/bottle weekends and add cool, cool cachet. The competition is fierce, with nightlife enjoying a renaissance, rebirth, or whatever you want to call it. Places are looking for the edge to set them apart from the pack. Throw in Brooklyn nightlife, and what we have here is a golden age. The party is as good as it has ever been, albeit with some sacrifice. I gladly miss the smoke-filled, drug-induced mayhem of previous decades. My friends aren’t waking up dead and my hair doesn’t wash out gray from cigarettes… only old age.

Mondays are heating up with The Double Seven introducing a concept that I like. After Bingo tonight, I’ll coerce my crew to that 63 Ganesvoort hot spot for Nima Yamini’s Avenue A Soundcheck Party. It’s a weekly concert series – this week featuring Interscope Records artist Zander Bleck. Zander is being produced by two- time Grammy Award winner RedOne. He toured with Lady GaGa. CEO daughter Hannah Bronfman is doing a guest DJ spot tonight. Giza Selimi of The Box will be the friendly and handsome face at the door.
 
I spoke to Nima at Bantam (or 17 Stanton, depending on who you talk to) Saturday night at one of their preview nights. I told him to send me info on the night and promised to attend. He sent me this:
"The Mondays are not at all about the models, bottle spenders, etc. (same cookie cutter format everywhere) and are 100% about the musicians. This is a home for live music by a new generation of musicans in 2012 with a passion for rock n roll, alternative and indie music. People who want to come see a kick ass rock show on a Monday night. Jeffrey Jah, David Rabin and Mark Baker have given me 100% support on this project and I am excited to work with them on it."
———————-
 
With great sadness I report the passing of an old friend: Bruce Patras. He passed after a battle with cancer at the young age of 54. He leaves behind a couple of kids and a loving wife. I hadn’t heard from or seen Bruce in 20 years. A Facebook friend tracked me down to let me know he succumbed in December after a courageous fight. He was sometimes called "crazy Bruce" because he often…misbehaved. His incredible smile and deep dark good looks always gained forgiveness. I knew him to be solid, always looking out for the other guy, never backing down to a challenge. We shared a thousand nights and once dated the same girl. We cavorted and laughed and played in the moonlight. We drank from the same cup and then drifted apart. I read his Facebook wall and reconnected with him after the fact. I read his hopes and felt his fear and his bravery. Club life creates bonds that can never be broken. There came a time 20 years ago when life and responsibilities and other
relationships separated us. I never stopped loving him, and his passing leaves me a bit more mortal and understanding of the gifts of life and friendship. Yesterday, another Facebook friend who saw the Limelight movie was saying she felt bad how the government fucked us over a long time ago in a galaxy… far, far away. My reply was the lyrics from a Tuxedo Moon track: "No tears for the creatures of the night." Today, I take that back. Tears for Mr. Bruce Patras: a saint, a sinner, and a real great friend.

Nightlife That Makes You Feel Like A Good Person

On Wednesday night we dressed like Eskimos and attended a private screening of director Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman at the Bryant Park Hotel’s screening room. Club legend Danny A. Abeckaser invited me and mine to the show. Danny plays a pivotal role in the flick as the best friend to leading man Michael Shannon. Michael plays hit man Richard Leonard "The Iceman" Kuklinski who had somewhere between 100 and 250 successful whacks before they caught him in 1986. The film is filled with familiar faces, from Ray Liotta, James Franco, Chris Evans, Stephen Dorff, David Schwimmer, and Winona Ryder. Winona ruled. Danny A. had his usual crowd of models and the folks that hang with them, and a good time was had by all. It’s good to see one of the good guys in the club world breaking out and living his dreams on the silver screen. The movie is chilling and captivating. It will come out in a couple of months.

Advance tickets are on sale for The 4th Annual Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball Benefit for The Lower East Side Girls Club happening at Le Poisson Rouge on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12th. They have Cyndi Lauper and ?UESTLOVE doing the King and Queen of the Mardi Gras thing, and performances by Pitchblack, EMEFE, The Ambitious Orchestra and powerhouse DJs Roxy Cottontail and Beverly Bond. All sorts of other acts and stilt walkers and body painters will be part of this for such a great cause. The Lower East Side Girls Club helps young girls climb out of bad places, giving them guidance and support as they try to make their dreams come true. My pal Jenny Dembrow is a honcho over there working tirelessly to make it work. Tickets are $25 or $125 for the dinner, booze, and reserved seating. Get them here.

Just a word to all: it’s real cold out there, even for those who can afford warm clothes and shelter from the elements. Be aware that around us there are people who don’t have the ability to get by on their own. If you have stuff you’re not wearing that can help another, this is a good time to make room in your closet. Donate your goods to one of Goodwill’s NYC locations here and feel like a good person instantly.

What I’m Missing: Zac Efron, Domi Dollz, and Rob Zombie

I’ve been a busy bee of late and have missed so many events that I would have loved to attend. Most notably, I couldn’t attend the Magadeth-Rob Zombie concert at the PNC in Jersey. That hurt.

Saturday I was DJing at Bantam for Tatjana Gellert’s birthday bash. It was hours of music from Donna Summer to Rob Zombie to LCD Sound System to Blank Dogs to Iggy to Tuxedo Moon. I was all over the place for the fun and beautiful crowd. The only place I couldn’t be was with my friend Robert Escalera  who is in from LA to offer up a film and cocktail event with the cast and crew of a movie produced by his favorite charity, the Zeno Mountain Farm.

According to its site:

"Zeno Mountain Farm is an organization that runs camps for people with and without disabilities. Everyone works together so all can experience a life full of creativity, adventure, fun and community. Typically, each camp has a theme that helps to focus and unify the group. The themes include but are not limited to filmmaking, theatre, high challenge sports, music, adventure travel and art."

The event was at the Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street. The movie is called Finding Zac Efron.

"When Zeno Film camp cast member and Zac Efron-uberfan Elizabeth gets sick, the Zeno gang springs into action. They decide to find Zac Efron and get him to go cheer Elizabeth up. They scour the city of Los Angeles to find Zac… But what they discover is beyond anything they ever expected! Finding Zac Efron stars all the Zeno Gang, plus cameos by Ted Danson, Lou Ferrigno, Mario Lopez, Joe Manganiello, and others… Is Zac in the film? … You have to come and see for yourself!"

Well, I couldn’t come and see, and I don’t know if Zac was in it since I was at Bantam. I urge you to check it out. Robert worked with me at all my hot spots of the ‘90s. His role varied, from my right hand to the heel of my left foot. He was almost as invaluable as he thought he was. He is joining me at the Bowery Poetry Club for BINGO tonight. I’ll get there early to explain to him how to play the game.

On Thursday I will DJ again, this time at Bantam and, as usual, Hotel Chantelle. Therefore, I’ll miss that night’s Domi Dollz event at the Museum of Sex. It starts at 7pm and is the most fun… for people interested in sex. There are sexy Doms and subs and they serve aphrodisiac cocktails and everybody laughs and feels frisky. They are so good at it that, they have, in the past, been able to teach an old dog like me… some new tricks.

From ‘Shame’ to Fame: Calamit Y. Chang On Her Hot Mènage à Trois Scene

Shame is a hot movie. The hottest scene in this hot movie is a ménage à trois with uber hot star Michael Fassbender and our dear friend Calamit Y. Chang and DeeDee Luxe. Calamit Y. is hosting and starring in Burlesque shows all over town, including this Wednesday at Duane Park and every Friday at Hotel Chantelle. This Wednesday’s show has DeeDee aboard, as well as the wonderful Shien Lee. It’s all timed in honor of Chinese New Year and is destined to be fabulous. Calamit Y. and I talked about the scene in Shame and she seemed surprised that it was such a big deal. Known as the "Asian Sexsation," she is constantly surrounded by incredibly sexual beings who spend a great deal of their time and energy thinking of new routines to turn us on. If you haven’t caught this act, get out there and do it now before the fame from the movie exposes her talent to the masses and she’s whisked off to Vegas or playing big theatres. The atmosphere at Duane Park is intimate, old-school burlesque elegant. It’s a great date destination. I asked Calamit Y. Chang a few questions, half expecting to be shooing away autograph seekers.

So I’m watching the hottest sex scene ever in the movie Shame with Amanda, when we both exclaim aloud CALAMIT Y. !!!!!. Your famous feather tattoo confirmed it was you and DeeDee Luxe.  I understand sex; it didnt actually occur, but everyone was hot. Tell us about the scene, the conversations leading up to it, and conversations after.
When I went to the audition, I knew the film was by Steve McQueen. His first film, Hunger, also starring Michael Fassbender, was a huge hit with film fans, so I guess you can say I already trusted him and his vision for my role as “Late Night Lover #1." When we met, he showed me the script and explained what the film was about. I had a lot of questions about Brandon’s (Fassbender) character development because I was curious about how Steve was going to handle the subject of sex addiction. On the day of the shoot, DeeDee and I wanted to know if our characters were prostitutes. Steve didn’t give a direct answer but he did say something to the effect that we were just normal people living in NYC, and like many people, we sometimes accept money for certain things. This reminded me of some people in fashion who work for free in exchange for expensive clothes and shoes. I know countless stylists who dress like a million bucks but can’t pay their rent and are consistently borrowing money from people left and right. Steve further explained that our characters were already familiar with Brandon and we were expecting him. When he first arrived and I opened the door for him, Steve wanted me to look a certain way when I saw Brandon. He wanted me to have a look as if saying, “Oh yeah, you again. Of course.” I even had Steve be me so I could see what he wanted my face to look like. He was very fun, patient, and gave clear direction. The actual filming of the infamous scene was a closed set. It was just five of us, including Steve and the cameraman. During the shoot, Steve pretty much let us three do our thing and every now and then he would ask one of us to switch sides for a better angle of our faces. As for conversations after this scene, well, we joked and laughed about whatever. We had some food. We talked about other films we liked, wanted to see, and I do remember asking Steve and Michael if they liked Lars Von Trier (cause I don’t). They didn’t. Michael did some impersonations of De Niro and I think Marlo Brando. It was pretty laid-back and comfortable, like friends hanging out.
 
I was told it was a retake, that the original scene was replaced with yours.
That was what our casting agent told us. They had already wrapped shooting months ago, but I guess some of the scenes (including ours) didn’t work out, so Steve came back to NYC with the cast and crew and re-shot them. Nicole Beharie was on set with us that day too, but I don’t know what scene she was working on. I also don’t know who were in the first threesome scene. They didn’t really talk about it and we didn’t really care cause we were there to kill it!
 
Calamit Y.
 
Tell me about Wednesday’s Duane Park show.
This is my newest show and I am excited beyond words! It is a dinner and a show at Duane Park, a beautiful restaurant serving delicious food and famous for their burlesque shows. The intimate and elegant dining room sets the perfect mood for a show like "Les Fleurs de Shanghai" with live music with Shien Lee as our featured singer. She will be singing several Chinese songs from the golden jazz age in Shanghai – music that will enchant you and take you back to a different time. DeeDee and myself will perform burlesque, It takes place on the last Wednesdays of every month at 8:30 PM.
 
How did a nice chinese girl like you become this fabulous burlesque queen, performer, and organizer?
 Well, I’ve always been Chinese but I haven’t always been nice. Joking! My parents have always said I have a rebellious streak ever since I was little. I suppose they are right, they’ve been right about lots of things much to my chagrin!  My new show “Les Fleurs de Shanghai” at Duane Park is a burlesque show paying homage to the great jazz era of Shanghai during the ’20s-’40s. I’ve become obsessed with that tumultuous era in Shanghai’s history with the music, the fashion, and the glamour of that time, but I haven’t always been interested in my cultural heritage and background. When I was a teenager growing up in Texas, the last thing I wanted to do was listen to Chinese music. I wanted New Kids on the Block. I wanted Bon Jovi. I wanted Garth Brooks! Well, maybe not the latter, but you get my drift. Immigrant mentality is to assimilate and to grown up in a non-culturally diverse place like Texas. I tried my damn hardest to fit in. Unfortunately, that meant rejecting a lot of things that makes me unique. My parents always said that one day I will want to know more about being Chinese and “return to my roots,” so to speak. So they were right yet again! Although, I don’t think burlesque was what they had in mind. Burlesque, in its contemporary reincarnation at least, is very feminist. It is subversive, transgressive, and rebellious. And all those things draw me in uncontrollably.
 
Calamit Y.
 
Tell me how you develop your new acts.
 It’s a lot like writing, which I’m sure you can relate to on some level. You stare at a piece of blank paper and suddenly the task of having to fill it with words that make sense and construct an experience narratively becomes very daunting. Likewise, I pick a song that I want to work with. I put it on repeat in my living room studio and I stare in the mirror. There is always that sense of fear that I think all creative people face. The act of creation. Of forming something out of nothing. Whether it’s writing, painting, choreographing an act, designing a costume. I embrace it and stew in it. Sure enough, after a couple of hours, a dance routine comes out of it and I know what the character feels like and should wear. For me, many of my acts are never completely “done." There is always something to upgrade, whether it’s the costume or the choreography. For example, my red “Dusk ’til Dawn” act has evolved so much since I originally made it  two years ago. Now, I’ve added new pieces to the costume, added another song to it, and incorporated red fans in the routine. This act has gotten me accepted in the Dallas Burlesque Festival (Feb 2-5, 2012) and the London Burlesque World Games (May 7-13, 2012).
 
I saw you develop an audience at Hotel Chantelle. At first, it was slow-going, but now your Friday night galas are packed. How does the newfound fame from Shame translate to a fanbase. How does it affect friends? Do you have major new burlesque credibility?
Yes, it was hard in the beginning, especially since I am the first person to bring burlesque to Hotel Chantelle; the road had to be paved! Thankfully, Tim Spuches (who found and hired me) didn’t doubt me and now it’s really great. I have met several male audience members at Chantelle who tell me they saw me in Shame and came to see me perform; it makes me very happy that people are going to see real films with quality editing and storytelling. And it makes me even happier that in all the press and interviews the film has gotten, Steve and Michael have been describing us as burlesque performers. I think this is so great because this gives burlesque and us burlesque performers credibility in the film world. I am always so happy to hear about other performers who get cast for a TV show or film, because the more crossover we have, the more people will come to our shows!

Wass Stevens Opens Up About Accident, Attending My Birthday Tonight At Avenue

Tonight I will celebrate a zillion years of enjoying what I do for a living. I am so much a creature of the night that I just may toast to my eons with Tru Blood, warm and straight from the bottle. I am having my birthday gala at Avenue, where I have many friends… where my friends are family. I will DJ for a few minutes some songs you will Shazam and know forever. The world is still filled with amazing stuff, yet undiscovered. There are some things I am sure about, and that includes the love and respect I am honored to have from many people I will see tonight. One of my oldest and dearest is Wass Stevens, who just a few days ago was totally wrecked in a motorcycle accident. In the surgery that followed, he received four screws, two in the heel, two in the ankle, and three pins etc., etc. Somehow, he will be at the door tonight greeting my friends. I asked him Why, how, wow? and he replied, "Nothing –  not a bike wreck, broken bones, nothing – could keep me away from the honor of working your birthday. Besides, we are two of only a handful of veterans left in this biz," and that "No one else would know four decades worth of your friends and night life acquaintances." Our friendship is one built on thousands of unique nights,  with boredom never a factor. We have helped each other through trying times, and seen things in each other that few have ever suspected. He has guided me when I wasn’t listening to anyone and appreciated and supported me when the world was determined to extinguish my flame. I asked Wass about his recent tumble and what else is going on. He’ll – we’ll –  be at Avenue tonight if you are so inclined.

O.K., so you got wiped out. When did you realize you were going to live, and did your whole life flash before your eyes? What did you see in that flash?
As soon as I hit the ground – my elbow and a bone in my neck broken, and my foot crushed on impact by an SUV (6 more broken bones) – my first three thoughts were: 1. Fuck, that hurts; 2. Fuck, my bike is wrecked; and 3. Fuck, I think I might be late for work tonight. My life didn’t flash before my eyes. Although, I did have a few interesting flashbacks and visions once the morphine took effect…
 
You’re mangled, and yet nine days later you are back at the door of Avenue in time to work my birthday bash. I’m sure it wasn’t me that rushed you back. What is it that pulls you to door work?
I don’t like to miss work. I never take a night off. Never. I actually emailed Noah from the trauma center at the ER the day of the accident to warn him I might be late that night. It wasn’t until the x-rays were completed and they were checking me in that I admitted to myself that I may be a little more than late. But I set a schedule and actually came to work several days sooner than I originally planned, nine days after surgery. Wasn’t going to let this keep me from Avenue, or my tattoo shop, or my acting career. Just wasn’t an option. Why the rush? I love Avenue, my crew, our regulars, the people I work with. I take pride in how I do what I do, the reputation of the place, and I’ve worked hard, along with the rest of the team, to create something. It’s very difficult to relinquish control of "my" room – even when I’m lying flat on my back, banged up. I’m very fortunate. I spend my days either auditioning or actually on set working, or at my shop, Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C., surrounded by a great group of incredibly talented artists. I spend my nights at Avenue. Comparatively speaking, staying home waiting to heal wasn’t an attractive option.
 
Tell me about your tattoo shop.
 Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C. is amazing. I literally came up with the idea while getting a tattoo from Ethan Morgan, my partner in the shop. The space is beautiful – think steam punk, turn-of-the-century bank (sort of), with tin ceilings, granite counters, and walnut and steel cabinets. We only do custom work- no books or flash art in my place. And the guys are amazing. Ethan is world famous for his portrait work. New addition to the team Dana Helmuth is also world-famous for his traditional Japanese-style work. All the guys are incredibly talented, and it’s a no-attitude environment. Because of my other careers, I know a lot of different types of people, from actors and musicians to athletes to hipsters to preppies to billionaire businessmen. The idea behind Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C. was to create a place where they could all be comfortable exploring their wild or artistic sides. Create a memory or two that lasts forever.
 
The acting career has legs. What is your best work so far and what do you have in the pipeline?
The acting career has also been very busy, although my inability to walk right now has put a damper on things. Pilot season is on the way, with all kinds of new possibilities. I was very happy with the work in The Wrestler and Brooklyn’s Finest and am anxiously awaiting the release of Goat, with Ice-T, Ja Rule, Armand Assante, to name a few. The ultimate goal is a steady television gig, two or three movies a year when on hiatus, a few nights a week at the club, and a few afternoons at the shop.
 
You are a clotheshorse, a bon vivant, well-heeled, dressed to kill. What makes you so passionate about clothes?
If I may, I’d broaden my love of clothes to a love of style, in all things. Anything worth doing should be done with style. And I mean personal style, not what the media tells you to do, or wear, or eat, or drive, or sit on. Create your own unique style. My mom came to New York after the accident – yes, I love my mom – and thought I was crazy for wearing a sport coat with a pocket square to the hospital for surgery. Why not?  Although, it has been difficult finding pants that will fit over this cast…
 
It’s my birthday. Tell me a favorite Steve Lewis story.
My favorite Steve Lewis Story. Jesus, I’ve known you too long to have one. Although the grand re-opening party at Palladium, with you and I standing on ladders to see over the crowd that was 30-deep on 14th street comes to mind. Nuts. Oh, and I have fond memories of our weekly Wednesday night four hour conversations at Marquee…Happy Birthday my brother.

Shia LaBeouf Heads Off to WWII With Brad Pitt

Despite his oft strange behavior behind the camera, Shia LaBeouf is having a great. year. And as far as talented child comedic actors turned adult stars, he’s doing pretty well for himself. So far this year, we’ve seen him in Lawless, which despite the overall lackluster film, provided a vehicle for the one of his best performances yet, as Jack Bondurant. He stripped down for Sigur Ros in their "Fjogur piano" video and will do it again—and more!—for Lars von Trier’s highly-anticipated erotic odyssey Nymphomanic out sometime later this year. At Sundance, he graced the screen in The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, which he stars alongside talented babe Evan Rachel Wood, and this week, he’ll go head to head the iconic Robert Redford in The Company You Keep.

And it’s no wonder directors are clammoring to work with him, there’s always been something about Labeouf that was a little off—in just the right way. There’s a sort of maniacal and impassioned gleam in his eye that propells him into interesting roles with a striking ability to fall into characters with ability to shake himself off and dive into the skin of another.

Yesterday, we learned that LeBeouf looks to be teaming up with cinematic legend Robert DeNiro to play his son in Spy’s Kid (not to be confused with Spy Kids, obviously). And today, he looks to be hopping from star to star, now joining Brad Pitt for the World War II drama Fury from director David Ayer. With Sony already signed on to distribute the film, Pitt will be leading as "Wardaddy," heading a "five-man thank crew as they lock in battle against a desperate German army in the waning days of the war." And as we’ve learned from Inglorious Basterds, Pitt works quite well within that era and I am more than sure Shia LeBeouf will as well.

Lin-Manuel Miranda on ‘Bring It On: The Musical’

If every Tony Award-winning Broadway show was a country, Bring It On: The Musical would be the UN. Why? Because the creators behind this musical, a show loosely based on the movie of the same name, are the same people that have produced some of the decade’s most beloved Broadway musicals: Avenue Q, In the Heights, High Fidelity, and Next to Normal. So when you take out the puppets, add a bunch of cheerleaders, and stick them in two very contrasting high schools with very contrasting music to sing, dance, and cheerlead to, you get more than just drama; you get a show that teems with all the energy, comedy, and heart of its creators, but with a sound and style all its own. Here, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the co-composer and co-lyricist of Bring It On: The Musical and the writer of In the Heights, shares what he’s loved most about working on this show, why it’s record-breaking, and his experiences in high school. 

What was your first memory of seeing Bring It On the movie? What did you think?
I was in college, it was 2000, and I remember thinking, "Wow, this is a really funny movie." I had the same stereotypes about cheerleaders that most people who don’t grow up in that world have. What excited me most about working on this show was that our bookwriter Jeff Whitty didn’t want to adapt the original movie. He really wanted to take the world of competitive cheerleading and find what was stage-worthy in it. Jeff had an idea that was a totally different plot that, based on All About Eve with cheerleaders, which has been fantastic.

What is about cheerleaders that you find musically inspiring?
Well, they do what musicals do already; they dance to music. But they also do these incredible feats, like acrobatics, making cheerleading this weird nexus of athleticism and showmanship. It’s this weird world with its own rules, and it’s been fun immersing myself in that world for the past three years, and meeting some of our cast members who live in that world, who are just fucking indestructible.

While watching the show, I was thinking to myself: "What are these character breakdowns like?" To be in this show, you must have an incredible voice, acting skills, and you must be incredibly good looking and a pro cheerleader. Where do you find these people and how do they exist?
We do our best to delineate it so that each skill set is in its own track , but it’s crazy; we saw over 3,000 people and we cast 14 cheerleaders. And we have a very young cast. We have something like 32 Broadway debuts – which is a record. It’s exciting. For me, my last show on Broadway was my first show, In the Heights, so to get to experience that sort of energy with the next show has been a real joy because they’re all experiencing the Broadway community for the first time. It’s not a cliché; if you’re working at this level, you make friends with all the people in the shows around you, and it’s been a joy watching that happen.

For Bring It On, you’ve shared the writing room with Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, High Fidelity), Amanda Green (High Fidelity), and Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q). What’s the energy in there like?
Oh, well right now it’s funny because we’re really on the tail end of working on and changing the show, so everyone’s getting weepy and nostalgic. We’ve been writing this show pretty nonstop since 2009, which is super fast for a musical. In the Heights took seven years. What helped that go fast was that Jeff and director Andy Blankenbuehler had a really clear take on the story they wanted to tell. That takes a lot of the guesswork out of that. And divvying up duties was really fun. We thought that I’d write my songs and they’d write their songs, and we’d just meet in the middle, but that went away really quickly. 

Lin-Manuel MirandaHow separate and how interwoven was the collaboration? 
We started borrowing themes from each other pretty instantly, so Tom would take a theme from a song I did and interpolate it into one of his songs and vice versa. There are songs where Tom wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics, and songs where I took a pass at the lyrics and Amanda revised the lyrics, so we’ve worked in every combination; everyone’s fingerprints are on every song in the show. But it also helped us to write it faster. It helped us get closer to what our show sounds like, like, "Oh, that’s very much in this world."

"That’s the Bring It On sound."
Exactly.

Describe this show in just three words, what this show is really about.
Love of collaboration – though I’d hate to use one of my three on "of." What I love about this show is what I love about theatre; not one person can make a musical, you can’t do it by yourself. And not one person can make a cheerleading team. One of the things our main character learns is that she’s actually not in it to win first place at Nationals and win all these trophies. They don’t mean anything. What she finds is that she loves the joy of making something bigger than yourself, and that can only happen with other people. That’s very much how I feel about writing this show. The fact that this was a composing team means that I couldn’t have written this by myself, and they couldn’t have either. That was so much longer than three words.

I’ll take it, I’ll take it. The show pokes fun at a lot of high school cliques. What were you like as a high schooler?
I was definitely a floater. My wife and I joke about this because we socialize at different frequencies; if you put the two of us at a party, I’ll have five-minute conversations with everyone there, and she’ll have an hour-long conversation with one person. I always ran around a lot. I was always a theatre geek. I don’t remember school in terms of semesters; I remember it in terms of play in the fall, musical in the winter, original plays in the spring.

So you were writing shows even in high school?
Yes, we had plays that were written and directed by students. I would always write all year to try to get a play produced in the spring. I wrote two musicals and one play in my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.

What was the first musical about that you wrote?
It was about a fetal pig that a kid dissected in bio coming back for revenge, and all of the kid’s other subconscious fears start to come out. My mom’s a psychologist. It was all very Freudian.

‘The Avengers’ Will Make Another $100 Million This Weekend

Hunger Games, schmunger games! After a record-shattering $207 million three-day opening last week, Disney’s superhero blockbuster The Avengers made an estimated $29.1 million yesterday, which puts it on track to do a mind-boggling $100 million in its second weekend.

If predictions hold up, The Avengers will finish the weekend with a record-breaking 10-day cume of about $355 million. Worldwide? $1 billion!

Some more interesting tidbits, courtesy Nikki Finke at Deadline:

Yes, the biggest North American movie is getting still bigger and still setting records. Playing very wide with 4,349 theaters, The Avengers looks like around $29.1M for Friday and approaches a gargantuan $100M second weekend. This will be far-and-away the highest second domestic weekend in box office history (passing Avatar‘s and The Dark Knight‘s $75M records). That means the holdover will drop only 53% after its record-setting opening. Coming into Friday Avengers was scooping up 75% of all tickets sales at online MovieTickets.com. Disney says its superhero worldwide juggernaut will cross $300M domestic on Saturday in a record of only 9 days. (The previous record was 10 days.) Through Sunday its domestic haul should be around $355M. So what’s the total overseas so far? Its international gross is $533.3M for a global cumulative of $888.3M.

The weekend’s biggest newcomer, the Tim Burton-directed, Johnny Depp-starring Dark Shadows, opened to a rather anemic $10.5 million on Friday and is on track to finish the weekend with about $28 million. Which doesn’t sound so bad… until you compare it to The Avengers. Then it really sucks. :