Howard Stern to Leave “America’s Got Talent”

Announcement Made Wednesday on His Radio Show

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Pictured: Howard SternThe extremely successful radio personality and actor Howard Stern has been on the judging panel of America’s Got Talent since 2011, when he took over the position from Piers Morgan in the show’s seventh season. He has continued to sit on the judge’s panel for the eighth, ninth, and tenth season. Presently, he judges alongside Mel B from the Spice Girls, Heidi Klum from Project Runway, and Howie Mandel from Deal or No Deal. Stern is best known for hosting his own radio show on Sirius XM radio since 2006, before which he hosted his show since 1986 on national syndication. He is also well known for the film Private Parts and his television show The Howard Stern Show. He has made mutterings before about wanting to depart from America’s Got Talent due to his overcommitted schedule, but this time he seems serious. He is also known as an extremely well compensated television star; he appeared in Forbes magazine alongside America’s Got Talent executive producer Simon Cowell as first place on the list of America’s highest paid television personalities. The article stated that Stern earned $95 million between June 2012 and June 2013. Nevertheless, there comes a point when money doesn’t mean much anymore, and Stern has announced that he is reassessing his career priorities, and that this is his last season.

The Impact on “America’s Got Talent”AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Pictured: Howard Stern

America’s Got Talent had made some sacrifices to accommodate Stern’s busy schedule, in light of his strong pull with a wide range of market demographics. Specifically, the show relocated from Los Angeles to New York City’s Radio Music Hall, so that Stern could be across the street from his radio studio where he records his Sirius XM show. With Stern gone, the show may very choose to relocate back to Los Angeles. As for who might replace him, Stern was quick to suggest his best option: Simon Cowell. He said that Simon wants the job, anyway. However, as much as Stern is known as a man who tells it like it is, he did not reveal that an agreement had officially been made with the network. He said that he was too f—ing busy, and that he is undergoing his own career evaluation. It was reported that Stern was given until July 4th to decide if he will be renewing his contract. Every year so far, he has ultimately decided to re-up his season to season contract, persuaded by the large paycheck he is being offered. He claimed he really did struggle with the decision to sign on this year. Nevertheless, the press has interpreted Stern’s recent comment on his radio show as sounding more serious than ever before. We may therefore see a different face at the judge’s table next season.

America’s Got Talent

America’s Got Talent has been running on NBC since 2006. The show is executive produced by Simon Cowell, the man behind many other reality shows including Britain’s Got Talent, Pop Idol, The X Factor, and American Idol. America’s Got Talent differs from some of these other shows as the contestants can perform a range of activities, not just singing. In addition to vocal performance, the huge range of acts includes dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists, technology-based performance, and anything that demonstrates a unique and magnficient talent.

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth to Host Tony Awards

Two Tony Winners Emcee on June 7th

alan cumming kristin chenowethOn June 7, 2015, the 69th Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The hosts have been announced: Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. These two beloved stars are both Tony winners themselves, and they also both starred in musicals that played this season. Alan Cumming revived his magnificent role as the Emcee of Cabaret in this past year’s revival, a role that he played opposite first Michelle Williams, then Emma Stone, and finally Sienna Miller. As that production was an exact revival of an earlier revival production, with the same directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, as well as the same star Alan Cumming playing the Emcee, it was not eligible for the Best Revival award category. As such, Cabaret did not receive any nominations this year. However, Alan Cumming did receive the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for playing that role in the 1998 production of Cabaret. As an award-winning emcee, therefore, he is the perfect emcee for this awards event. Furthermore, Kristin Chenoweth starred in On the Twentieth Century, a revival of a musical comedy by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Cy Coleman. That production has received five Tony Award nominations, including one for Kristin for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Its other nominations are those for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Andy Karl, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design.

A Broadway History of Alan Cummingalan cumming

On top of the two productions of Cabaret, Alan Cumming has been on Broadway an additional three times. In 2001, he played Otto in a production of Noel Coward’s Design for Living. In 2006, he played Macheath in a production of The Three Penny Opera. And very notoriously, in 2013, he played Macbeth in a one-man production of that Shakespeare classic, first at Lincoln Center and then at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. In addition to his Tony Award for the earlier revival of Cabaret, Cumming has received four Olivier Awards: the British equivalent of the Tonys. He received an analogous award for his role in Cabaret in 1994. He also received an Olivier Award for the Comedy Performance of the Year for La Bete in 1993. Before that, he received the same comedy award for his performance in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and he was commended as Best Newcomer in a Play by the Oliviers in 1988 for Conquest of the South Pole.

A Broadway History of Kristin Chenoweth

kristin chenowethAs for Kristin, she has been nominated for Tony Awards twice before, winning one. She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1999 for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. In 2004, she was nominated for her role as Glinda in Wicked for the award for Best Actress in a Musical, although she did not win (instead, Idina Menzel won the same award for the same production for her role as Elphaba). This is now her third Tony Award nomination. Furthermore, she starred as Fran Kubelik in Promises, Promises in 2010, and she played Eve among other roles in the 2006-2007 production of The Apple Tree. Before Wicked, she also played Louise Goldman in the 1999 production of Epic Proportions as well as a series of roles in the 1997 production of Steel Pier, as well as her star turn in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

The Tony Nominations Have Been Announced!

Awards Ceremony Will Take Place June 7th at Radio City Music Hall

tony awardsOn June 7, 2015, the greatest stars and talents of the Broadway theatre community will gather at Radio City Music Hall for the 69th Annual Tony Awards ceremony. After great anticipation, the nominations have been announced by the Tony Nominating Committee. As the nominators are famously few, even in comparison to the privileged bunch who get to call themselves Tony voters, there is always a degree of subjectivity involved in these nominations. Sometimes very deserving candidates do not even get a chance to compete for awards that some might say they should have won, merely due to the choices of 50 theatre professionals. In comparison, there are approximately 868 individuals who are eligible to place a vote among these nominees. This year, it was a very competitive nomination process, as very few categories had obvious contenders. Arguably the most prestigious category is the award for Best Musical, as this can validate a show to be a long running hit, or even turn a hidden gem into a global brand name. For the 2015 Tony Awards, the nominees for Best Musical are An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten!, and The Visit. As for Best Play, the nominees are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Disgraced, Hand to God, and Wolf Hall Parts One and Two.

Revivals, Book Writers, Composers, Actors, and Actressesan american in paris

The nominees for Best Revival of a Play are The Elephant Man, Skylight, This is Our Youth, and You Can’t Take it With You. The contenders for the category of Best Revival of a Musical are The King and I, On the Town, and On the Twentieth Century. As for Best Book of a Musical, the nominees are An American in Paris by Craig Lucas, Fun Home by Lisa Kron, Something Rotten! by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, and The Visit by Terrence McNally. Hand in hand is the award for Best Original Score, the nominees for which are Fun Home with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Lisa Kron, The Last Ship with music and lyrics by Sting, Something Rotten! with music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, and The Visit with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. As for the acting categories, the nominees for Best Lead Actor in a Play are Steven Boyer in Hand to God, Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, Ben Miles in Wolf Hall Parts One and Two, Bill Nighy in Skylight, and Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The nominees for Best Lead Actress in a Play are Geneva Carr in Hand to God, Helen Mirren in The Audience, Elisabeth Moss in The Heidi Chronicles, Carey Mulligan in Skylight, and Ruth Wilson in Constellations. The nominees for Best Lead Actor in a Musical are Michael Cerveris in Fun Home, Robert Fairchild in An American in Paris, Brian d’Arcy James in Something Rotten!, Ken Watanabe in The King and I, and Tony Yazbeck in On the Town. The nominees for Best Lead Actress in a Musical are Kristin Chenoweth in Something Rotten!, Leanne Cope in An American in Paris, Beth Malone in Fun Home, Kelli O’Hara in The King and I, and Chita Rivera in The Visit.

Snubs and Surprises

finding neverlandThis year, there were quite a few shows that did not receive any nominations at all, some of which come as a major shock. One of the most obvious snubs was Harvey Weinstein’s first venture in Broadway producing, Finding Neverland, which received no nominations at all. Another show that can be considered a snub is Larry David’s Fish in the Dark, which has been selling marvelously at the box office but was a critical bust. Other shows that did not receive any nominations are The River, The Country House, Living on Love, The Real Thing, Doctor Zhivago, Side Show, Love Letters, A Delicate Balance, It Shoulda Been You, and Holler if Ya Hear Me. Some of these such as The River and A Delicate Balance sold very well, but received no nods by the Tony committee. For Living on Love, the lack of recognition was enough to persuade the producers to announce the closing date of the show as quickly as possible. As for positive surprises, the fact that An American in Paris received 12 nominations, tying only with Fun Home for the most of any show, was not expected by most. Though the reviews were generally positive, this dance heavy adaptation was a surprise sweep of the nominations. As for It’s Only a Play, which was a major box office hit, the show only received one nomination: for its newcomer Micah Stock. The other actors are major stars, and the play was received very warmly, but none of these individuals were recognized except the Supporting Actor.

An American In Paris 12
Fun Home 12
Something Rotten! 10
The King and I 9
Wolf Hall 8
Skylight 7
The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time 6
Hand to God 5
On The Twentieth Century 5
The Visit 5
You Can’t Take It With You 5
Airline Highway 4
On The Town 4
The Elephant Man 4
The Audience 3
The Last Ship 2
Constellations 1
Disgraced 1
Gigi 1
Its Only A Play 1
The Heidi Chronicles 1
This is Our Youth 1

Radio City Christmas Spectacular Begins Nov 7, 2014

Radio City Christmas Spectacular An Age-Old Holiday Treat

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is gearing up to begin their seasonal show, to play from November 7th to December 31st.  With performances taking place at Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, this is sure to be a dynamic and magical experience.  Led by the world renowned Rockettes, the show features dancing and immersive entertainment that is fun for the whole family.  Every year, the Rockettes train harder and the show design is more innovative, aiming to up the ante from the many years before.

(Insanely) Busy Schedule for Performers

This year, the Rockettes will be kept very busy.  On Saturdays in December, they will play an extraordinary six shows per day.
Furthermore, during the five day Christmas period between December 19th and 23rd, they will do 26 shows.  Fortunately, the dancers rotate so that they do not all do all the shows.  In New York, there are two casts each of about 36 women.  The dancers divide their performances by morning/afternoon and evening casts, so that each cast can get a break each day.  In past years, it was reported that each cast would perform about 108 shows over the course of the season.  They are fortunate the show is only seasonal, because it is actually so tiring that many are so fatigued that they need the 10 months off!

What Do The Rockettes Do for the Rest of the Year?

Rockettes are professional athletes who train rigorously not only in dance, but in other forms of fitness to keep them athletic year round.  Furthermore, many of them are students, or pursuing careers in other areas of the entertainment field.  It is common for them to be models or actors, and many of them work year round in musical theatre.  Still, for many Rockettes, this is their only time dancing on stage in a given year.  The Rockettes tend to be hired year after year, which allows the team to remain strong while the dancers retain a sense of seasonal stability.  This is only one of the many reasons it is such a competitive gig, as year after year countless women compete for the opportunity to dance onstage in the timeless role of a Rockette. in 2014 Radio City was set to launch the Heart and Lights show that was planned to run from the spring to early summer of 2014. The show would have included many of the Rockettes, given that the style of show was similar to The Radio City Christmas Spectacular that runs win the winter in the prelude to the Christmas holiday. The 2014 Heart and Lights show was cancelled prior to opening, but 2015 will see a new version of this show, with a new name, get launched for the Spring 2015 season at Radio City.


The Tony Awards Ceremony Is This Sunday, June 8th

The Tony Awards Are In Two Days

On this upcoming Sunday, June 8, 2014, the 68th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Hugh 2014 tony awardsJackman.  The nominations, which were announced on April 29, 2014, promise an exciting race that may contain some surprises.  Oftentimes certain categories have obvious shoe-ins, but this year there are many awards for which the winners are presently unclear.  As the date is approaching, many theatre critics have published their predictions, and producers have spent money on advertising to broadcast the nominations of their shows.  However, these efforts are often more to sell tickets than to persuade the approximately 700 Tony voters, who will generally make their decisions based on their own judgments.

Best Play and Best Musical

In the race for Best New Musical, the most likely contender is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which stars Jefferson Mays a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyin a stupendous and versatile leading role.  The other contenders are Disney’s newest show Aladdin, the Harlem jazz revue After Midnight, and the jukebox musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  As many shows that were thought to be contenders were left off the nominations list, the most likely winner of these four does seem to be A Gentleman’s Guide, both due to its box office performance and general critical consensus.  As for Best Play, the five nominees are Lincoln Center’s Moss Hart bio-play Act One, Robert Schenkkan’s historical drama about Lyndon Johnson All the Way, Harvey Fierstein’s drag period piece Casa Valentina, the Manhattan Theater Club production of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, and Terrence McNally’s new play Mothers and Sons.  Of these, the most likely contender may very well be All the Way, which took home the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play.

Best Play and Musical Revivals

As for the revivals, in the play category the nominees are Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, John Tiffany’s production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, Kenny Leon’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, and the all-male Globe transfer of Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance.  That race will be tight, but it is most likely down to The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night.  The musical revival nominees are Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, Les Misérables, and the Roundabout Theater Company production of Violet.  This last category could be said to have a shoe-in prediction: Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Lead Acting Categories

The nominees for Best Leading Actor in a Play are Samuel Barnett from Twelfth Night, Bryan Cranston from All the Way, Chris O’Dowd from Of Mice and Men, Mark Rylance from Richard III, and Tony Shalhoub from Act One.  The nominees for Best Actress in a Play are Tyne Daly from Mothers and Sons, LaTanya Richardson Jackson from A Raisin in the Sun, Cherry Jones from The Glass Menagerie, Audra McDonald from Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Estelle Parsons from The Velocity of Autumn.  Interestingly, neither of these categories has an obvious winner, and thus the race will be very exciting to watch this coming Sunday.  As for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, that award will most surely go to Neil Patrick Harris from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the award for Best Actress in a Musical is less sure, with the nominees being Sutton Foster from Violet, Idina Menzel from If/Then, Jessie Mueller from Beautiful, Kelli O’Hara from The Bridges of Madison County, and Mary Bridget Davies from A Night with Janis Joplin.tony awards statue

In any case, Sunday is sure to be a thrilling evening, with careers being boosted, the lives of shows being extended, and producers taking home their prize trophies.  Tune in at 8:00pm EST on CBS.

The Rockettes’ ‘Heart and Lights’ Postpones Its Run

Heart and Lights, the new Rockettes show that was slated to begin performances on March 27, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall, has cancelled its run less than week before its first scheduled show.  The producer, MSG Entertainment, part of the Madison Square Garden Company, cited narrative issues as the reason for postponement until 2015.

heart and lights

Though traditionally successful with their Rockettes Christmas extravaganza in the winter season, MSG Entertainment has often struggled in attracting tourists during the spring and early summer season. They were attempting to turn that trend around with Heart and Lights, a love affair to New York City in which two cousins explore the city of their grandmother’s youth.  With choreography by Rockettes artistic director Linda Haberman, Heart and Lights has a story written by Doug Wright, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning writer of the 2004 Broadway play I Am My Own Wife.

While narrative problems were the officially stated reason for the delay, the musical must not have been doing stupendously in terms of advance ticket sales.  Though MSG Entertainment claimed 100,000 tickets were sold out of the 350,000 tickets available, the show did show up on discount sites such as Groupon a week ago.  In any case, because of back-to-back booking at Radio City Music Hall following the scheduled 5-week run, Heart and Lights has needed to delay until 2015.  This decision left the 40 Rockette performers, not to mention the entire crew, jobless at the last minute.  It was reported that several of the dancers broke out in tears in hearing the news.  Furthermore, the producers were estimated to have incurred a loss of at least $5 million from foregone ticket sales alone.

For the final dress rehearsal of Heart and Lights, MSG executive James Dolan invited film impresario Harvey Weinstein, as well as producers Jane Rosenthal and Daryl Roth, to pipe in.  Though these individuals’ opinions have not been stated publically, it is clear that their advice was one of the final straws in Dolan’s decision to cancel the show.  Doug Wright commented only that Linda Haberman is a pleasure to work with, and that the rest of the heartbreaking tale of the deferment would be saved for his memoirs.  While the story was not ready, the intensive special effects and expert Rockettes dancing were said to be in top shape.  Fortunately, the groundbreaking 3-D technology and innovative puppetry will only be put on hold, as audiences will be able to witness their delights when the book has been revamped.

The postponed performances dates have not yet been determined, but MSG will make an announcement when they have reached a decision.  All purchased tickets will be refunded at point of purchase, except Ticketmaster purchases which will be refunded automatically.

Ticketmaster Sets A New Broadway Surcharge Record With a $23 Per Ticket “Convenience Charge” For Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana Tickets

Ticketmaster has set a new Broadway record for their “Convenience Charge” surcharge for Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana tickets at the Radio City Music Hall. The surcharge fees jumped dramatically from last year’s $8 -$16 to this year’s $13-$23, setting a new Broadway record. The amount of the surcharge is no longer a flat fee and is now directly connected to the price of the ticket; this year the $158 prime orchestra tickets are attracting the $23 surcharge.

Cirque do Soleil's Zarkana at The Radio City Music Hall

Cirque do Soleil’s Zarkana at The Radio City Music Hall

The surcharges are only applied to patrons purchasing tickets online or over the telephone from Ticketmaster.  The  “in person” sales at the Radio City Music Hall Box Office, on the other hand, are not charged this additional fee. The prior two purchasing methods are often the only options for Broadway and other New York City theater patrons that cannot make it physically to the theater to purchase their Cirque du Soleil Zarkana tickets.

This means that a family of four would pay just under a hundred dollars in Ticketmaster fees, without including the price of the tickets.

Noting the unhappiness directed towards Ticketmaster over these inflated fees, they recently adopted a more transparent ticket sales model in the hopes of diffusing customer anger. Needless to say they didn’t accomplish this by actually lowering their fees, but they at least stopped hiding them. Now, when you select a Broadway ticket on Ticketmaster, you immediately see the total cost, so that the surcharge doesn’t come as such an unwelcome surprise just as you’re about to confirm your purchase. Despite the carping by ticket buyers at the time that Ticketmaster announced this ‘innovation’, it was actually a pretty wise move, since customers generally react better to knowing the total cost upfront–even if the surcharges are still outrageously high.

This price increase by Ticketmaster essentially penalizes out-of-towners, as local New Yorkers are wise to cutting out Ticketmaster and going directly to the box office to purchase tickets. It has been said that Ticketmaster was also trying to claw back some profit from ticket brokers, who resell their tickets at a profit. But with 5,931 seats and 3 shows a day, Zarkana at the Radio City Musical Hall doesn’t suffer the same abuse and manipulation from ticket brokers that a “one-off” concert or a hit Broadway show does.

Cirque du Soleil: Zarkana Review

Cirque du Soleils Zarkana

Zark from Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana ringleads an impressive troupe in this year’s show at the Radio City Music Hall

The golden glow of the walls and the oddly dressed performers walking the aisles set the stage for this year’s incarnation of Zarkana, the latest spectacular by Cirque du Soleil that runs through September 2, at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

The show tells the story of Zark, a magician who has lost his powers, on his quest to rescue his love who was kidnapped. The plot, although confusing, was secondary — after all who doesn’t love a good Cirque du Soleil show strung together on a flimsy premise?

As for action, Zarkana doesn’t disappoint. The opening act features an impressive juggler and although she didn’t miss a beat, the onslaught of performers around her, was quite a distraction from her art.  The Trapeze and Acrobatics were sensational, and sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The Cyr Wheel and High Wire acts, although exciting, felt a little too circus-like. The Flag Throwers fell flat, hardly perilous enough to compete with the other death-defying feats followed by the Hand Balancing performer who will not only have you gasping, but will inspire you to run to a local yoga class.

The Sand Painting was by far, one of the highlights of the evening.  The magical ability to highlight every segment of the show using only hands and sand could easily leave you feeling mesmerized.  The Wheel of Death was the show stopper — with the huge cage-like cylinders rotating while two daring performers leapt inside and out, flipping and jumping — was nerve wracking. In an apparent misstep, when the performer’s leg became stuck in the jump rope as the wheel rotated at lightning fast speed, it appeared that near disaster was averted — or maybe it was part of the act.  Either way, it made for a nail biting experience.

As for the creepy factor, the six-armed floating fetus, the “Freddy Krueger meets Little Mermaid’s Ursula” Snake Lady, and eyeball projections will have you and that five-year old having nightmares for weeks.

The stage sets and elaborate costumes made you feel instantly transformed into an odd enchanted world. For a show that is supposedly a rock opera, the music is unimpressive, actually distracting to a point.   It was hard to make out what the singers were saying, even though it was in English versus Cirque’s typical Esperanto.

This is an entertaining show filled with phenomenal talent. Even with the many distractions, Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana, is a must see — but leave the timid toddlers at home.

If you can’t catch Zarkana‘s swan song in the New York show, don’t worry — beginning this fall, Zarkana will make its permanent home at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.