Windswept melodrama and vicious New York critics: The strange story of the Ziegfeld Theatre’s longest-running film

The Ziegfeld Theater, one of Manhattan’s last single-screen movie theaters, is reported to be running into some financial difficulties with rumors of possible closure. (The owner of the theater, Cablevision, denies this.) I think the real story here is how — in a landscape of multiplexes and state-of-the-art home theaters — this respected dinosaur, sitting […]

Good news for ‘Newsies’? The Tony Awards often go local

Tom Bosley in a Tony-winning performance as Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, in ‘Fiorello!’, which tied for the Best Musical Tony in 1960 with ‘The Sound of Music’. Only one of these productions is regularly produced by high schools across the country. For those of you not watching the season finale of Mad Men this Sunday, the […]

Times Squared: Lovingly nitpicking ‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer

The recent trailer to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, aka ‘Moulin Rouge in Manhattan’, seems to have left everyone in a state of awe (and horror) in its vivid, hyper-electro-glossy depiction of Prohibition-era New York. And it left many feeling slight panic, even apoplexy, especially considering the entire spectacle will be rendered in 3D when […]

Who are Barnes and Price? And other notes from the podcast

Stuyvesant Street in 1856, an aberration to the city grid plan thanks in part to the presence of St. Mark’s Church and its well-established churchyard. The small building in the foreground is where the St. Mark’s Bookshop stands today. You can see the steeple of St. Mark’s. Hmm, what what’s the other church in the background? […]

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Mad Men

‘Mad Men’ notes: The delirious world of Off-Off-Broadway

Radical thoughts, limited spaces: a performance at the Caffe Cino. Photo by Ben Martin (from an excellent website by Robert Patrick about this important off-off-Broadway site)  WARNING The article contains a couple spoilers about last night’s ‘Mad Men’ on AMC. If you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode. But […]

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It's Showtime

Sigourney Weaver boards an off-Broadway ‘Titanic’ in 1976

Queen of the world: Weaver sets an uncharted course on a small SoHo stage. Perhaps you are as confused as I am by the picture above, one that appears to put the lovely young Sigourney Weaver‘s face upon the body of a child. Ah, the magic of the theater! The future film star was in her […]

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Podcasts Those Were The Days

New York and the World of Radio: Live and on the air, inventors and stars at the dawning of the AM airwaves

Amateur radio operators at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side, 1940. Courtesy the Milstein Archives PODCAST The discovery of radio changed the world, and New York City was often front and center for its creation and development as America’s prime entertainment source during the 1930s and 40s. In this show, we take […]

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It's Showtime

Marilyn Monroe’s surprising link to a few Broadway classics

Monroe on the New York set of ‘The Seven Year Itch’, the film version of a Broadway box office success. The heavily-hyped ‘Smash‘ debuted last night on NBC, a glossy musical-drama unspooling the backstage tribulations of a new Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Although Monroe was once married to one of […]

A ragtime tribute to the New York Hippodrome

I hope you’ve had a chance to play around in the Library of Congress’s National Jukebox was recently launched on their website. It’s an incredible catalog of old music, from a variety of genres, and could easily play as a soundtrack to many of the posts on this page. One old tune I happened to […]

The Trans-Lux experience: Madison Avenue’s ‘modern’ mini-movie house

I’m a sucker for severe electric-laden art-deco theaters like the Trans-Lux Modern Theater, once located on the corner of 58th Street and Madison Avenue. Most every midtown theater in the 1920s dabbled into electric signage to grab attention. But Trans-Lux worked in the opposite direction. To underscore the importance of illuminated billboards in New York, […]

The Academy Awards in New York: NBC experiments, as Audrey Hepburn wins an Oscar after a long day of work

Audrey, off Columbus Circle: Hepburn sits in nervous anticipation at the New Century Theatre, moments before she wins for Best Actress. Despite the Academy Awards being a celebration of all things Hollywood, New York has actually hosted the Oscar ceremony on more than one occasion. Or rather, they co-hosted the event — from 1953 to […]

History in the Making: The Roxy Theatre and Kitty’s hair

ABOVE: Satisfied New York filmgoers exit into the lobby, May 1943. WHAT lobby, pray tell? This is the massive 6,000-seat Roxy Theatre, at 153 W. 50th Street, “often cited as the most impressive movie palace ever built” according to Cinema Treasures. Movies at the Roxy were presented with live orchestras and vocals. In this case, […]

A trip to Times Square 1969: A world of colorful decline

(Postcard picture courtesy the marvelous Vintage Chromes blog)Sixty-five years after the birth of Times Square, it was apparent that things were taking a rather bizarre left turn. The old Times Building, a building so critical to the neighborhood that its address was now One Times Square, had been stripped of its architectural finery and encased […]

Provincetown in the Village: A theater troupe is born

The Provincetown Playhouse, at 133 MacDougal Street, makes its debut in New York on November 3, 1916, with a series of plays that included Eugene O’Neills’s Bound East for Cardiff. In the picture above, O’Neill (on the ladder) and his troupe prepare the stage for opening night. The theater was ripped down by NYU to […]

New York Hocus Pocus: Kellar and the Spirit Cabinet

Many late 19th century New Yorkers were hypnotized by the the glamor of the spiritualist circuit, mediums, magicians and mind readers purporting communications with the ghostly world and conveniently in performance form with hefty ticket prices. One of the most popular was Harry Kellar, Kellar the Magician, whose technical slight of hands in such tricks […]