December 04, 2019
I’d like to revisit the Fosse/Verdon series that I wrote about earlier. CLICK HERE to read about this year’s Tony Awards.
This series is based on a heavily researched biography titled Fosse by Sam Wasson who is a visiting professor of film at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
An ad that appeared to publicize this remarkable TV series
BUT THAT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING
A dramatic, yet completely honest script and a talented cast of actors were needed for this challenging series. Enter Nicole Fosse, the daughter of the storied couple, who was an executive producer and historical consultant on the series. When the writers delved into Verdon’s life Nicole often had to fill in the gaps. Melissa Toth, the show’s costume designer notes that, “We couldn’t have done a lot of our work without her.”
Also on board were Tony-winning director Thomas Kail (Hamilton) and writer Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen) -- the creators of Fosse/Verdon. All told there were four directors and eight writers who worked on the scripts for this show.
AN EMPHASIS ON THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH
According to an in-depth article about Fosse/Verdon by Julie Miller in Vanity Fair’s Awards Extra, the portrayal of Fosse (played by Sam Rockwell) was questioned. Or, as one viewer said to Nicole, “They made your father out to be a crazed drug addict.”
She responded by pointing out that, “he ended up in a psychiatric ward.” This happened shortly after Bob became the first person to win an Oscar (Cabaret), Tony (Pippin) and Emmy (Liza With a Z) in the same year – a truly remarkable achievement. Gwen (played by Michelle Williams in the series) won four Tony awards for her musical comedy performances.
In 2017, Nicole opened her archives for the first time and shared her real-life memories with Kail and Levenson. She notes that, “We’re always hiding something, and there will always be shame. It’s very important to tell the truth.”
REVEALED: FOSSE AND VERDON WERE COLLABORATORS
Nicole’s candid discussions with the creators of the series brought out a crucial dimension of her father’s life that had gone undetected in his many biographies: the extent to which her father and mother were creative collaborators. (Personally, I find this fact absolutely fascinating.)
The real deal: Fosse with Verdon while directing 1969’s Sweet Charity based on his Broadway production
After many discussions with Nicole, it became clear to Kail and Levenson that the series should not be focused on Fosse alone, but on their marriage, with each character getting 50-50 billing. The writers also applaud Nicole and describe her as “an open book who demanded that we always go deeper and work harder to tell the truth.”
My fascination with this series came from seeing the incredible “Sturm und Drang” that went into the award-winning careers of two people who are married to each other. It’s an incredible back-story to the effort, stamina and energy that’s required to maintain this type of high-level creative life.
Bob Fosse showing his dancers how it’s done
HERE’S MY VERY FAVORITE SPEECH ABOUT CREATIVITY
This is what Orson Welles had to say in the film, The Third Man. “In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love and five hundred years of democracy and peace. What did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
All photos courtesy of Vanity Fair Awards Extra
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October 22, 2020
I just read an article that sounded – to me at least – like “a canary in a coal mine” or an early warning of danger. This piece, written by Joe Pompeo, appeared in the May 2020 issue of Vanity Fair magazine with the title “The British Tabloid Invasion” and a subtitle that read, “How the Daily Mail is conquering American gossip.”
The paparazzi horde, La Dolce Vita, 1960 – photo courtesy of Vanity Fair
October 14, 2020
Apparently the good old U.S. is a nation of “not great” sleepers. Really? And I thought I was the only one! According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it was revealed that one out of three Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. Yikes!
October 06, 2020
I think we’re all taken by the incredible mystique of the famous French fashion house, Hermès that has been with us for two centuries and is still owned and operated by the same family. From its beginnings in fine equestrian leather goods, they are – in the tumultuous year 2020 – best known for their handbags and many other items.
My image of Hermès has always been rarified products at equally rarified prices so imagine my surprise when I recently received a very stylish publication of theirs in the mail.