7 items from 2016
Do you remember the first time you heard “Hallelujah?” Was it in Shrek? Maybe on a reality-singing competition show? Maybe you just heard it from a street musician somewhere and thought, “That’s a really nice song.”
It’s safe to say at this point, though, that the majority of people who’ve been touched by the song didn’t hear it from its writer, the late Leonard Cohen. Cohen’s song — like Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” vis-a-vis Johnny Cash — has become one of those rare examples of a song completely outshining its author as it’s made its way through pop culture. »
A decade ago, Ray Romano found himself in the enviable position of never having to work again. The success of his CBS series “Everybody Loves Raymond” had left him flush with the kind of windfall-for-life that only a hit sitcom can deliver. But his nine-year run as Ray Barone on the definitive family comedy of its era also could have easily sentenced him to typecasting as a TV dad for the rest of his professional life. In a conversation with Variety, Romano spoke about the evolution of his post-“Raymond” career, from TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age” to NBC’s “Parenthood” to his most challenging assignment yet: a 1970s record company exec facing a midlife crisis on HBO’s “Vinyl.”
How did you decide your next moves as an actor after “Raymond” ended in 2005?
There was no game plan. To be blunt, I didn’t have to do anything for money after “Raymond” — which is what my wife keeps telling me after she sees me in a threesome in “Vinyl.” One thing I knew was that I didn’t want to do a four-camera sitcom. I was proud of what we did on “Raymond” — that was my legacy — but I wanted to move on.
Were you concerned about typecasting?
[Typecasting] is just natural when for nine years everybody sees you as that. I’m guilty of that. When we were casting actors [for “Men of a Certain Age”], when someone’s name would come up, I would say, “He’s not right.” It’s just ingrained in you.
Were you surprised at how well-received you were in the much more dramatic role on “Men of a Certain Age”? Was that a big boost for you?
Yes, we were very surprised when it debuted. I’m the first one to self-deprecate, but I couldn’t find a bad review. I wasn’t playing a serial killer or a drug addict — I was playing someone real. I was happy people accepted me. It wasn’t a super stretch of a character — it was kind of like a real-life version of Ray Barone going through some deeper issues. This wasn’t “Dallas Buyers Club.” Then we won a Peabody, which means you get canceled. And one cable show that gets canceled helps free you from that branding as a sitcom guy.
How did you wind up on “Vinyl”? Zak Yankovich is pretty far removed from Ray Barone.
Scorsese had never heard of me before. He’d never seen “Raymond.” I put myself on tape and sent in a video. He told his casting director he’d never heard of me — not that he’d never seen “Raymond” before, but he’d never even heard of me. It was the best backhanded compliment I ever got. It helped me get cast. He didn’t have to overcome Ray Barone when he watched me.
Was it hard to get under the skin of the character?
The hardest thing was getting in the head of a guy this tragic, where he contemplates suicide. It was hard to dig into that and feel what that guy is feeling. … When I was on “Parenthood,” Mae Whitman told me that to play [emotional] scenes, she liked to listen to music to get in the mood. She’d be in a bubble under head-phones. I made a playlist, and oddly it worked for me. It can trigger these emotions. I have Coldplay and Jeff Buckley to thank for those scenes.
Do you enjoy the debauchery featured in “Vinyl”? All joking aside, is it hard to play?
I’ve never had a threesome in real life — I’ll come right out and say that. I was talking to another very good-looking actor on “Vinyl” about that threesome, and I asked him if he’d ever had one. His answer was, “Five or six.” He didn’t even know how many he’d had! I had to be naked, which was terrifying for me. And I had to do it in a scene with Bobby Cannavale. I had to stand up and wear that sock-like wardrobe thing. On the second take, Bobby says to me, “Ray, you don’t gotta wear that for me. Don’t worry about it. I never wear it.” I told him, “I’m not wearing it for you, trust me. I understand why you don’t wear it. I’ve seen that shot of you naked. I need to wear it.” I had to be drunk in that episode, too. For me as an actor, the two scariest things are being drunk and naked. My joke was that the director was never going to yell, “You’re too big!” during the naked scene.
You and Cannavale had such instant chemistry. Did you know each other before the show?
We’d never met before. We became buddies. He’s a New Yorker. We went to Jets games, and he came down to the [Comedy Cellar] to watch me. The hours that guy has to put in on the show, it’s amazing.
Do you go out of your way to make time to do standup comedy?
I play Vegas about seven times a year, at the Mirage. If I’m in New York, I’ll always drop into the Comedy Cellar. I still love to get up there. The thrill is coming up with new material. “Vinyl” was shooting from May to October [last year], so I went on a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever give that up. Some guys do. If I have to be nice to myself and say one thing I’m good at, it’s doing standup. Everything else I suck at. Golf I really suck at, even though I love doing it.
- Cynthia Littleton
Warning: This post contains spoilers from this week’s Outlander. If you’re behind, dinna fash — you can read last week’s recap here.
The Frasers’ Parisian tour of pain continued in the latest Outlander, when Claire delivered a stillborn daughter, nearly died of childbed fever, accidentally sent one of her enemies to his death and then had to have sex with a monarch in order to free her estranged husband from jail. (And you thought you had a rough week.)
The death of Claire and Jamie’s child Faith, as well as the physical and emotional distance between Lady Broch Turach and her husband, »
RelatedThe Voice Top 12 Performance Recap: It’s Not Over (Unless It’s Over)
After all, while the country superstar’s main man Adam Wakefield is atop the Season 10 heap when it comes to iTunes sales, Blake’s remaining two artists find themselves on the exact opposite end of the spectrum as of noon Et (the official close of voting).
Granted, downloads are only one component of the equation — there’s also »
Like Christina Aguilera executing a run during a contestant’s rehearsal package, or Blake Shelton spiking the comedic volleyball in Adam Levine’s face (over and over again), The Voice‘s Alisan Porter is pretty much perfect.
And Monday night, as she detonated a vocal bomb shaped like Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold,” she seemingly left a barren wasteland (think Mad Max: Fury Road, without any cast members) where the Season 10 competition used to be.
Still, as Blake Shelton begged Alisan to make some mistakes, »
One may surmise that NYC-based guitar maestro Gary Lucas has the magic touch when it comes to collaborating with profound artists. He has found yet another formidable vocal foil in singer/songwriter Jann Klose. As you may or may not remember, Mr. Lucas was responsible for igniting Jeff Buckley's vocal prowess in their band Gods & Monsters and co-writing the two best tracks on Mr. Buckley's solo debut. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Klose handled vocals in the Buckley bio pic Greetings from Tim Buckley and has appeared at numerous Buckley tributes and multiple stage appearances with Mr. Lucas. "Fair Weather" is from their excellent stripped-down simple Americana-centric album Stereopticon (Cosmic Trigger Records). It's my favorite track from said album. Klose's smooth vocals perfectily compliment Mr. Lucas' acoustic guitar majesty. The video was directed by DeAngela Napier.
- Dusty Wright
Taking Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” as its rallying-cry theme, “National Parks Adventure” pays tribute to the 400-plus sites across the country protected by the National Parks Service. Narrated by Robert Redford and produced in association with Expedia and Subaru, Greg MacGillivray’s nonfiction film affords a touristy view of numerous American landmarks that benefit from the government support that first began 100 years ago when, after a three-day visit with naturalist, philosopher and poet John Muir, “conservationist president” Theodore Roosevelt began the process of safeguarding the nation’s most hallowed grounds from development and destruction. Timed to the Service’s centennial, it’s a slender but stirring celebration of the U.S.’s true treasures, and apt to entice fans of the great outdoors — and outsized cinema experiences — when it premieres on Imax and large-screen formats this Friday.
Shot at more than 30 parks, “National Parks Adventure” nominally »
- Nick Schager
7 items from 2016
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