Texting While Driving in New York? Don’t Even Think About It

A 'No texting While Driving Sign'Need to text your wife and ask if she wants you to pick up the latest Quentin Tarantino DVD on your way home? Thinking of sending a quick message on your cell to see if Susie is free for lunch tomorrow? Well, forget about it–at least if you were planning on texting while you were driving anywhere in New York State.
Governor David Paterson signed a “No texting” law into effect last week, making it illegal to text while driving anywhere in the state. Not following the rules carries up to a $150 fine. (Not to mention, of course, the possibility of an accident.)
In New York City, where seeing someone text while driving is as common as, well, seeing someone apply lipstick while driving, it’s a much-needed–though most likely hard-to enforce–law.
Not texting while driving would seem to be a no-brainer, yet vast numbers of people in the city still do it.
The law also covers any kind of hand-held device or laptop–and just to be clear, it stresses that you can’t use any kind of device to read, view or send images or data of any kind while the vehicle is on the move and you’re driving.
By the way, that means that you can’t check your email or surf the web either, so get over any ideas about checking the Yankee score or seeing if your Aunt Myrna sent you the address of that new restaurant–at least not while you’re behind the wheel.

The Little Mermaid Closes on Broadway

Disney’s The Little Mermaid concludes its run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre today. The musical, based on the Disney animated film of the same name (which in turn was based off the Hans Christian Andersen tale), opened in January 2008 and has played over 700 performances. Although The Little Mermaid was one of Disney’s most acclaimed and beloved animated movies, the stage musical version did not fare as well. Having run less than two years, The Little Mermaid is one of Disney on Broadway’s least successful ventures so far, begging the question of whether or not the company is beginning to reach a saturation point. Nonetheless, Mary Poppins and especially The Lion King both continue to run strong on Broadway, so Disney fans still have more than one film-turned-stage-musical to choose from.

The Little Mermaid Swims Away From Broadway Today

The Little Mermaid Broadway MusicalDisney’s The Little Mermaid concludes its run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre today. The musical, based on the Disney animated film of the same name (which in turn was based off the Hans Christian Andersen tale), opened in January 2008 and has played over 700 performances. Although The Little Mermaid was one of Disney’s most acclaimed and beloved animated movies, the stage musical version did not fare as well. Having run less than two years, The Little Mermaid is one of Disney on Broadway’s least successful ventures so far, begging the question of whether or not the company is beginning to reach a saturation point. Nonetheless, Mary Poppins and especially The Lion King both continue to run strong on Broadway, so Disney fans still have more than one film-turned-stage-musical to choose from.

Famed Circus Hits the Boardwalk

Coney Island Boom-A-RingIt’s summer; the sun is shining, so it must be time for…the circus!
Wait…what? Yes, it’s true: For the first time in its 139-year history, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has set up shop on the famed boardwalk of New York’s Coney Island. The summer season runs through September 7, so you still have time to catch a seaside performance of “Coney Island Boom-A-Ring.”
The show features acts including the Urias Family, billed as “The First Family of the Motorcycle Globe” (clearly, Second and Third Families need not apply, especially those who can’t keep up with the 65-mile-per-hour speeds the Uriases achieve); Justin Case, trumpeted as “Eccentric Personality Extraordinaire” (it involves a bicycle, and trust us; he’s funny); and the New York debut of The Negrey troupe, world-renowned Russian acrobats. (Are there any other kind?)
Plus, of course, miniature acrobatic Dachshunds (don’t go there); a trio of Asian elephants, and some white Bengal tigers, all presented in an air-conditioned tent.
In short, everything a circus should have.
Boom-A-Ring, located at Surf Avenue and 21st Street, also offers an all-access pre-show one hour before the performance, in which visitors can mingle with circus performers and animals alike.
Call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000 to reserve seats and check the performance schedule (there’s generally a matinee and evening performance); seats start at $10.
Ladies and gentleman! Children of all ages…you know the drill.

Jeremy Piven Wins Battle With Speed-the-Plow Producers

Speed-the-Plow Broadway ShowA decision has been announced by the arbitrator of the legal case that pitted the producers of the Broadway play Speed-the-Plow against actor Jeremy Piven and Actors’ Equity Association, and he has ruled in favor of Piven and AEA. The trouble began late last year when Jeremy Piven suddenly departed from the Broadway production of Speed-the-Plow in which he was starring, reportedly due to high levels of mercury in his system from excessive sushi consumption (the Entourage actor has been plagued by fish jokes ever since). Not exactly convinced that Piven’s sudden withdrawal from the show – which forced a scramble to replace him with another bankable star – was necessary, the Speed-the-Plow producers subsequently filed a grievance with Actors’ Equity which later went into arbitration. Although the arbitrator has officially determined that Piven’s decision to leave the show was reasonable, the incident did do some damage to the actor’s reputation in terms of his reliability, and the sushi jokes are still going strong.

Want Sauerkraut With Your Van Gogh? Museum’s Street Vendors Clash with Police

Those who like their art with a hot dog–and really, who doesn’t–may have to choose between the two if they visit New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Street food vendors have been tussling with police as of late, as officers have begun to crack down on the vendors who sell food outside the entrances to the building.
The skirmishes have to do largely with where the carts are positioned: Officers say the carts are too far from the curb; vendors say they lose no matter what: that if they are too far from the curb they are ticketed; if too close, they are still ticketed, but for obstructing bus and taxi stops.
Also at issue are the rights of disabled veterans who operate or work at many of the carts; this policy stems from a 2007 event in which a disabled vet said a law from the 1800s allowed him to operate in areas that might not be available to others.
The city says only one vendor can operate in front of the Met at a time; but on any given day the Museum is open, four or five or sometimes more carts can be seen.
(Earlier in the month, a vendor was evicted for failing to pay the extremely steep rent for renting a space for a cart in front of the Museum—estimates say rent can be as high as $50,000+ a month.)
So grab your hot dog now, if you must—or you may have to face the Renaissance without a snack.

20at20 Off-Broadway Show Discounts Return

The popular Off-Broadway “20at20″ program returns this September. From September 8th through the 20th, people can get tickets to numerous Off-Broadway musicals and plays for just $20. The catch is that these $20 tickets aren’t sold until 20 minutes before showtime, and they are subject to availability (so if the show is already sold out for that night, you’re out of luck). Off-Broadway shows seldom sell out, though, so it’s worth a trip to the box office of whichever Off-Bway play or musical you’re most interested in 20 minutes prior to curtain to see what is available. You should also keep an alternate show in mind so that you can run over to that box office if your first choice isn’t available. The Off-Broadway shows participating in 20at20 this year include Altar Boyz, Awesome 80s Prom, Blind Lemon Blues, Fuerzabruta, In the Daylight, Magic and Zone, Puppetry of the Penis, Sessions, Stomp, The Columbine Project, The Fantasticks, The Gazillion Bubble Show, and The Toxic Avenger.

Get Your Trend On: The Gap Opens a New Pop-Up Store

A Gap Store in New York CityPop-up stores—those that open for a limited period of time, often to sell a specific item or line–are nothing new in New York City; we’ve seen everything from Target to Delta airlines. The latest one to join the fray–and perhaps more in keeping with the economic times than the Hermes store that opened for the summer in tony East Hampton–is the new Gap concept store at 680 Fifth Avenue; one also opened recently on trendy Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. The New York store, which remains open through September 27 (Monday-Sunday; 10:30 am-7:00 pm) features Gap 1969Premium Jeans, and marks the 40th anniversary of the first Gap denim-and-discs store in, yes, 1969. (The Gap has previously featured pop-up stores in New York with items such as Pantone hued t-shirts and Havaianas flip-flops.)
This store–and the denim line–would seem to be a cheeky nod to the economic climate—on super-luxe Fifth Avenue, all the jeans in this new Gap line retail for under $70. It’s a good way to pull in tourists as well as locals–the jeans are designed with the same trendy fits that other, higher-priced lines carry, such as the looser Boyfriend fit, or the popular deconstructed (read: ripped, torn, shredded) style. It’s also, of course, less of a gamble to open a short-lived store like this at a time when even higher-end shops are closing at a rapid rate–if it doesn’t work, it’ll be gone in a month.
And lest jeans not seem as exciting as, say, a Hermes scarf, take heart in knowing that for the past two years, many insiders attending New York’s fashion week in September have made a stop at the Gap pop-up store a must.

Maury Yeston Has Written Three New Songs For Nine Film

Maury Yeston Broadway ComposerThe forthcoming film version of the Broadway musical Nine will contain three brand new songs, written by the musical’s composer, Maury Yeston. Variety has reported that one of them, “Guarda la Luna,” is sung by Sophia Loren; the second, “Cinema Italiano,” will be sung by Kate Hudson; and the third, “Take It All,” is performed by Marion Cotillard. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine is about an Italian filmmaker and the many women in his life, including his mother, wife, and mistress. Also starring in the film, to be released in theaters this November, is Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz.

Tim Burton Career Retrospective Coming To MoMa This Fall

Tim Burton exhibit is coming to MoMaCan’t wait for next year’s Alice in Wonderland, Hollywood cult film director Tim Burton’s cinematic take on the novel by Lewis Carroll? The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City will have a major career retrospective on Burton that should satisfy the appetite, on display from November 22, 2009, to April 26, 2010.
Burton is known as the legendary director and creative mastermind behind such classics as Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The exhibit of all things Burton will consist of a film series, early childhood and recent drawings, and storyboards created during the production of his famous movies. Over 700 of his distinct drawings, paintings, photographs, moving-image works, costumes, props, and other personal items will be on display. Burton is not only a director, but a producer, writer, concept artist for live-action and animated films, fiction writer, photographer and illustrator, with success spanning his 27-year career. Burton’s work often deals with cynicism, sentiment, the intriguingly grotesque, humor, and the themes of adulthood and adolescence.
This exhibition at MoMa coincides with the publishing of The Art of Tim Burton, a limited edition hard cover book featuring over 1,000 illustrations on 430 pages. Entry to the Tim Burton career retrospective is included with admission to MoMa. Museum tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, $12 for full-time students with I.D., and free for persons under 16.