Thursday, April 23, 2015

John Travolta is THE FORGER

You get an art history lesson in THE FORGER, the new John Travolta drama.  "It's what a person does for you that counts," says a Boston grandfather to his teen grandson.  The father, played by Travolta, is fresh out of prison.  Granddad was a con man and a petty thief.  He's still got skills.  Dad is the forger, but he's more a good guy than a thug.
He'll become part of a plan to steal an original Monet from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts so he can get a bundle of money and take care of his son.  The kid has cancer.
The three live a real blue collar section of Boston.  When tough Ray Cutter (Travolta) gets out of prison and is picked up by a shady looking buddy for a ride home, you just know he'll be involved in a crime again -- because we've seen that scene in movies already.  That's the main criticism about The Forger.  You feel like seen it before as a movie or as an episode of a one-hour cop show TV series.  Even though the kid having cancer feels like a screenplay gimmick, it does allow for a different element in this kind of story.  And John Travolta does show that he's still a good actor.  The last two times I saw him in movies, he was the bad guy.  Travolta was the villain in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and then he was the crooked federal agent in Oliver Stone's bloody Savages.  He was very good in that bad Oliver Stone crime story.  Now he's the jailbird we root for because he's risking prison time again for the love of his child.

Travolta has some good moments.  About one hour into the action, Ray studies the extraordinary work and unique style of French Impressionist Claude Monet so that he can forge a classic Monet painting on display in Boston.  A friend of mine viewed a Monet in a Paris museum.  He told me that no photos were allowed to be taken of it and the atmosphere in the room in which the Monet hung was very reverential.  He himself was in awe of Monet's genius.  He said, "It was like he deconstructed light."  John Travolta was quite good as Ray trying to enter the mind and soul of Monet in order to capture and copy his painting style.  Ray's forgery is exceptional.  But if Ray's art forgery is known to be so exceptional, why did he hang with those low-level crooks?  Earlier in his life, why didn't he take his skills and upgrade his life doing artwork for a Boston ad agency, a noted area theatre company or a magazine?  I wonder if the screenwriter thought about that.
Travolta's scenes with Tye Sheridan as his ailing son were all heartfelt.  I wonder if the actor drew emotionally on his relationship his late son for truth in those scenes.  Screen veteran Christopher Plummer stars as the grandfather.  Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music drops the F-bomb a few times in this movie.  As usual, Plummer is fun to watch although there's little for him to do but act crusty.  Father, son and grandfather bond when all three are involved in the Monet painting art heist.

That sequence tickled me a bit.  Christopher Plummer, cool dude that he is, turned 85 last year.  For the late night art heist scenes in the art museum, he's dressed all in black like he's in Ocean's Eleven.  Who brings an 80-something guy along to be part of a complicated art heist in a huge museum late at night?  Find a Monet?  Yeah, but first let him find a men's room so he can urinate frequently.  He's 80-something, for goodness sake!  And what if security guards enter and they have to run?  Heck, I'm surprised Granddad could even stay awake after 10pm to pull off that art museum job.

Here's a trailer from The Forger starring John Travolta and Christopher Plummer.
The son has three wishes -- one is to meet his mother.  Ray hasn't been the best father and he's painfully aware, because of his son's illness, that time is fleeting and it's also precious.  Travolta's performance is fine in this drama that just average.  The Forger opens April 24th nationally and can be viewed On Demand.

If you want to see one of the rare movies in which John Travolta plays a cop on a case, I've got a DVD rental tip for you.  He made a crime drama based on true life, notorious murder case. The film was never released nationally.  I don't know what happened.  It was made and screened at one arthouse movie theater in New York City for a week or two.  Travolta starred as a New York detective in the 1950s and his partner was played by James Gandolfini during his years of fame on The Sopranos. 
 In LONELY HEARTS, the two homicide detectives are on the trail of Martha Beck and her lover, Raymond Fernandez.  They were known as "The Lonely Hearts Killers" because they found their victims through personal ads.  The two serial killers were played in a 1969 black and white, low budget  indie movie that I highly recommend.  The Honeymoon Killers boasted a blazingly good performance from Shirley Stoler as Martha (Stoler was full-figured like Beck) and Tony Lo Bianco as Ray.
Salma Hayek isn't plus-sized like the real murderess, but she's so bat-shit crazy and sexually uninhibited as Martha in Lonely Hearts that she practically sets the screen on fire.  She's lovely and lethal.  Her con man lover is played by Jared Leto.  I thought he was really good as Ray.  Jared Leto now has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (winning for 2013's Dallas Buyers Club).  Here's a Lonely Hearts trailer.
Lonely Hearts is worth a look and it's better than The Forger.  It's available on DVD.





Wednesday, April 22, 2015

He Gave Us TWO WOMEN

Here's a quick, brief post on Vittorio De Sica, a renowned foreign filmmaker whose work I have loved and been moved by for decades.  I've studied his work.  First of all, he was a dashing and talented film actor, one adept at both comedy and drama.
His gifts as a director were extraordinary and innovative.
Vittorio De Sica was one of the pioneers in Italy's neo-realism film style.  He directed The Bicycle Thief (1948), a true classic.  I dare you not to shed a tear watching this story of a poor single father in Italy who needs a bicycle to work and feed his little boy.  His bicycle is stolen.  I first saw this beautiful feature in one of my college film courses.  I've grown to love De Sica's classic even more since then. The Bicycle Thief is a perfect film to see on Father's Day -- because it's about a father's love and sacrifice.

There's another neo-realistic classic in his list of credits -- De Sica's poignant 1952 meditation on old age is called Umberto D.  An elderly man survives in Italy solely on his pension.  He faces eviction.  One of his closest companions is his little dog.
I absolutely love a tender little love story he directed.  It's one that doesn't get mentioned a lot but it's rich in its compassion and warmth.  1956's The Roof (Il Tetto) follows a poor newlywed couple that tries to put a roof over its head.  The bride and groom don't have a home.  She was so poor that she borrowed her wedding gown  They rely on the kindness of relatives to put them up after the wedding.  You'll love the bride and groom.
                   
They must outwit local authorities to get a place.  The newlyweds' dream of a humble, almost pitiful, little place with a roof in the low-rent section of town.  That place would be heaven on earth because they'd be together and starting a new life.  I love The Roof.
Earthy and working class characters in De Sica movies like The Roof, Two Women and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow always remind me of everyday people I saw and knew when I was growing up in South Central Los Angeles.  They were ordinary people with extraordinary resilience.

In my previous post, a piece on actress Sophia Loren, I wrote that Vittorio De Sica directed her to an Oscar victory.  He directed her in a number of films and seemed to draw the essence and best of her out more so than any other director.  He directed Two Women, for which Sophia Loren won the Oscar for Best Actress of 1961.
He directed Sophia in Marriage Italian Style  He also directed her in 1963's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow -- three stories in which Sophia plays three different women with her wonderful co-star and friend, Marcello Mastroianni.  It's three looks at moral attitudes.


De Sica's Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is the movie in which Sophia Loren does her celebrated stocking striptease.  Marcello's funny and she's yummy in that scene.
De Sica directed another drama now considered a classic -- the critically acclaimed foreign film, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970).  A wealthy, intellectual Italian Jewish family lives a peaceful aristocratic life.  A Jewish man from a lower classic falls in love with one of the wealthy daughters.  He's treated like an outsider.  But it's the 1930s and Naziism is on its evil rise, devouring Europe and taking Jews of all classes as prisoners.

Vittorio De Sica directed landmark foreign films.  He gave us classics.  His films won Oscars.  But he was never nominated for a Best Director Academy Award.

He got one Oscar nomination in his remarkable film career and that was in the Best Supporting Actor category.  Vittorio De Sica, seen to the far left in the photo below, was one of the best things about the epic but lukewarm 1957 remake of A Farewell to Arms.


Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones were the stars.  De Sica didn't direct it.  He just acted in it.  And he got the only Oscar nomination the big prestige film earned.  But De Sica had directed Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift in 1953's Indiscretion of an American Wife.

Vittorio De Sica never got an Oscar nomination for Best Director.  Hard to believe.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Night with Sophia Loren

TCM serves up a great Italian dish around dinner time.  Sophia Loren takes the Turner Classic Movies spotlight at 8pm Eastern/5p Pacific on Tuesday, April 21st.  Love me some Sophia Loren.  So did my parents.  I believe I got some of my earliest reading lessons in the back seat of the family car when Mom and Dad took us to the drive-in so they could see the new subtitled movie starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.  (Note to Hollywood:  Yes.  Black people do pay see to subtitled foreign films.)  Sophia Loren's face on a great big Los Angeles drive-in movie screen was the stuff that dreams are made of.  And her acting skills were just as marvelous.
The TCM salute kicks off with the premiere of HUMAN VOICE (La Voce Humana).  This is a short feature, under one hour, based on a famous Jean Cocteau play for actresses.  It's a monologue.  A woman is on the phone talking to her lover for the last time.  She's lost him to another woman.  This 2014 production was directed by the son of the late Carlo Ponti.  Edoardo Ponti's mother is Sophia Loren, Mrs. Ponti to the famed Italian film producer for 40 years.  When I was a little boy, my mother watched another one of her favorite actress perform The Human Voice in a one-hour network TV special.  A court order could not have budged Mom from the living room as she sat glued to the TV watching Ingrid Bergman on ABC perform Cocteau's piece in a 1966 telecast.

Loren received a 1991 Honorary Academy Award for her body of work.  And what a body!  Her performance in Vittorio De Sica's World War II drama, Two Women, proved that she had more than just a delicious figure.  She could act too.
She played a poor single mother bravely trying to shield her daughter from the horrors of war.  For her work in Two Women, Loren won the Oscar for Best Actress of 1961.
In 1961, movie audiences also saw Sophia as the leading lady in El Cid, an epic historical drama co-starring Charlton Heston.  It was a big hit at the box office.

De Sica's Two Women is one of the films TCM will air tonight.  Another one is Marriage Italian Style, co-starring Marcello Mastroianni and also directed by Vittorio De Sica.

There is a Sophia Loren movie that I don't believe is in the TCM library, but I sure would love to see it.  Sophia Loren, the first actor to win an Oscar for a performance in a foreign language film, teamed up with another Italian talent, Lina Wertmüller, the first woman to get an Oscar nomination for Best Director.  Wertmüller was in the 1976 Best Director Academy Awards category for Seven Beauties.  She directed Sophia Loren in the 2004 feature Too Much Romance...It's Time for Stuffed Peppers.

How could you not want to see a film with a title like that?
I read that, in it, Loren and F. Murray Abraham play a senior married couple whose marriage hits a crisis in Wertmüller's comedy-drama.  Children and grandchildren add to the story's chaos.  Abraham was the Best Actor Oscar winner for 1984's Amadeus and he starred in last year's The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Sophia Loren started in Italian films and then America fell in love with her as she starred opposite some of Hollywood's top leading men -- Clark Gable, Cary Grant, John Wayne, William Holden, Alan Ladd, Anthony Quinn, Paul Newman and Tab Hunter.

I lived in the Midwest after I graduated from college, and I used to listen to Roy Leonard's radio show on WGN out of Chicago every Saturday morning.  One day, Sophia Loren was his special in-studio guest.  There was a trivia contest.  My fingers were fast.  I dialed in and I had the correct answer to the movie trivia question.  Not only did I get to speak to Sophia Loren, I won two tickets to see Frank Sinatra in concert in Chicago.  Sinatra, another Sophia Loren movie co-star.  What a morning!  What a concert!

To see what else is in the Sophia Loren salute on TV tonight, go here:  TCM.com.

Ciao.




Sunday, April 19, 2015

Detail in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY

"Then I'll meet the proper man, with the proper position, to make a proper wife, and can run a proper home and raise proper children.  And I'll be happy.  Because when you're proper, you're safe."            

So says Alma as played by Donna Reed in 1953's FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.  Based on the bold best-seller by James Jones, the film was directed by Fred Zinnemann and the screenplay was written by Daniel Taradash.  Taradash did an excellent job at keeping key scenes with much of the same dialogue while relocating them to a place that would appease the Hollywood censors of that time.  For instance, the famous kissing scene that Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr did on a beach?  In the book, the characters said the same lines naked in bed.  There was horizontal action for Donna Reed's character too.
In the movie, we meet Alma when she's on duty at a gentlemen's club in tropical, inviting Hawaii.  The joint is called The New Congress Club and when she's working, she's known as Lorene.  The joint is full of G.I.s out for booze and babes.  It's not technically a bordello in the movie, but we know what the real deal is when Lorene describes working there as "two steps up from the gutter." The dames are being paid for sexual pleasure.  Donna Reed won an Oscar for playing the sad-faced and lonely Lorene.
Lorene catches the eye of an Army private played by Montgomery Clift.  He won't be just another customer.  The soldier's name is Robert E. Lee Prewitt.
Lorene/Alma was an extreme departure from what may nowadays be Donna Reed's most famous performance -- that of the sweet and virginal All-American girl, Mary, who becomes Mrs. George Bailey in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

In From Here To Eternity, we see lives intertwine in Hawaii.  The year is 1941 and the story will take us to an early morning when no one felt safe -- the horrible morning when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  America would promptly charge into World War II.

Alma was an Oregon girl from the wrong side of the tracks.  She loved a guy who rejected her because she was from the wrong side of tracks.  Hurt, she headed to Hawaii where she heard she could make "a stocking full o' money."  She plans to return to Oregon with enough money to buy a house for her and her mother.  She wants security.  She falls in love with the Army private.  They live together for a time -- until war starts.

One small detail about Lorene moves me every time I see From Here To Eternity.  At The New Congress Club, she's Lorene.  Then we learn that her real name is Alma.  When she's at home with Prew, the Montgomery Clift character, she dresses like the "proper wife" she longs to be.  To me, Lorene is probably emotionally detached during on-duty sex at the club.  She's in Hawaii, far away from Oregon, where no one knows her.  She does what she does solely for the money to make herself and her mother comfortable.  Only her body is engaged in sex.  Not her heart and soul.  It's different with Prew.  They love each other.  At home, she wears a small crucifix on a chain around her neck.

She never wears it around her neck at The New Congress Club.  Only when she's at home.  That little detail is so revealing.  I've seen From Here To Eternity ever since I was a kid watching it on "The Late Show" on local CBS.  I never noticed Alma's simple crucifix until a few years ago.  It really hit me when I noticed it.  After the Pearl Harbor attack, Prewitt will leave Alma to fight.  He's "a 30 year man" in the Army although he's A.W.O.L.  She fears she'll never see him again.  The way that Zinnemann shoots her anguished moment, pleading with the missing soldier to stay, she does not look like a prostitute at The New Congress Club.  She looks like an average suburban wife.  See for yourself.
A proper dress.  A proper home.  Proper bookshelves filled with hardcover books.  And a proper crucifix on a chain around her neck.  That scene breaks my heart now more than it did when I saw it 20 years ago on TV.  The details in the shot and the way Zinnemann composes it...wow.  I feel Alma's pain.  Many of us did something we felt we had to do in order to change our luck and repair a broken heart only to have life pull the rug right out from under us again.  Her work at The New Congress Club did not define who Lorene/Alma was.  There was another dimension to her that men didn't see.  Prew saw it during their short span of domestic happiness.  That simple, little crucifix says so much.

From Here To Eternity was nominated for 13 Oscars and won 8 of them.  It won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed) and Frank Sinatra won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as Prew's loyal friend, Maggio.  Maggio, an Italian-American soldier, is the victim of bigotry and bullying.

In the 1940s, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra were contract players at Hollywood's powerful MGM studios.  There they both had wholesome, innocent onscreen images.  The popular vocalist played the sailor with the boy next door appeal in musical comedies such as Anchors Aweigh and On the Town, both with Gene Kelly.  Challenging themselves artistically, taking on gritty dramatic material for another movie studio, that was a big gamble.  It paid off for Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra that Oscar night.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

He Played Moe Greene in THE GODFATHER

"Do you know who I am?  I'm Moe Greene!  I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!"  
Alex Rocco delivered lines that millions of guys continue to quote today.  The veteran film and TV actor knocked out one helluva memorable performance in the 1972 classic, THE GODFATHER.  His fearless hothead character was not-so-loosely based on mobster Bugsy Siegel.  So why couldn't he be called "Bugsy Siegel" in the movie?  And how did the legendary singer and Oscar-winning actor, Frank Sinatra, affect the Las Vegas shooting schedule for The Godfather?
You get the answers to those questions and learn even more fascinating behind-the-scenes facts in a Boston area podcast interview of actor Alex Rocco.  Mike Di Stasio calls himself "The Hollywood Kid." and, I'm proud to say, I've been interviewed by him on his podcast.  He's lively, a good listener, a good conversationalist and he's prepared.  The Hollywood Kid does his homework.  His interview with  Rocco was as good, if not better, than some celebrity interviews I've seen on network news programs.  I've rarely heard or seen Rocco interviewed.  Odd, considering the huge impact The Godfather movie still has on our pop culture.  He was a stand-out character in a very famous film.  I loved hearing The Hollywood Kid with Alex Rocco.

In The Hollywood Kid's half-hour chat, we learned about the special effects that went into the massage table scene when a hitman ruined Moe Greene's eyeglasses.  We also hear revealing stories about how Marlon Brando treated film crew members and studio heads.  The acting legend was the star of The Godfather.  Robert Evans was a Paramount production chief at the time the film was being made.  I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles at the time.  I loved reading the entertainment columns in The Los Angeles Times and other newspapers with the casting and other production updates on that Francis Ford Coppola film.  The industry buzz, if you can believe it, was that The Godfather was destined to be one big flop.

We hear how the Moe Greene role changed Rocco's career.  Other highlights of the interview include Rocco talking about another movie he made, a crime drama that he calls a "great film."  I've never seen 1973's The Friends of Eddie Coyle but I recall reading rave reviews of it.  Robert Mitchum was the star.  Mitchum received one Oscar nomination and it came early in his film career.  He was a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee for 1945's Story of G.I. Joe, a drama about our fighting men in World War II.  I read film critic articles that said Mitchum should've been a Best Actor nominee for the 1973 crime drama Alex Rocco did with him.  Rocco tells a cool story about meeting the man he calls a "fantastic actor."  Mitchum was an under-appreciated actor who had one cool walk.  Watch him walk through New York in the opening credits of 1962's Two for the Seesaw.  Witness his versatility in Out of the Past (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955), The Sundowners (1960) and The List of Adrian Messenger (1963).  That last film is an all-star brain tease mystery directed by John Huston that doesn't get much mention.  But, trust me, Robert Mitchum is brilliant in it.  I must see The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

Alex Rocco's extensive list of film and TV credits includes sitcoms such as The Facts of Life, Murphy Brown and The Golden Girls in which he got his arms around Bea Arthur.                                                                                                                                                  
Mr. Rocco is now seen in episodes of the Showtime sitcom called Episodes.  It stars Matt LeBlanc.  Rocco wrapped a new movie with Valerie Perrine (Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for 1974's Lenny starring Dustin Hoffman and co-star in 1978's Superman).  It's called Silver Skies.
What's the show biz item on Alex Rocco's Wish List?  He'd love to make a movie with his favorite actor, a man he says "should have 8 Academy Awards."  Who is it?  You've got to listen to The Hollywood Kid's podcast.  A hint:  This actor already has 2 Oscars.

You can find The Hollywood Kid on Twitter: @MikeDiStasio.  His podcast show is called REEL TALK w/ The Hollywood Kid.  The show has a Facebook page.  Hear the show on WNTN.com.

Mike's show aired Saturday morning, April 18th.  He has another show coming up on May 16th.  He needs to repeat his show with Alex Rocco.  It rocks.

One last thing -- near the end of the interview, Mike does lines from The Godfather with Rocco.  Not only was it a fun, spontaneous moment, you hear that Mike Di Stasio should audition for voiceover work in national radio commercials.  And he could surely handle a few lines in films or TV shows being shot in the Boston area.

He's a talented guy.  Probably more talented than he knows.  A good, imaginative and reputable Boston agent should call him in for a meeting.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Elizabeth Banks in LITTLE ACCIDENTS

This will be another blog post of mine in praise of women filmmakers.  I saw an independent film to review on Arise TV but our show got pre-empted.  I want to recommend it for weekend viewing because the performances moved me.  The drama is called LITTLE ACCIDENTS, a drama written and directed by with economy and skill by Sara Colangelo.  Elizabeth Banks plays the lead female character.  I'd known Ms. Banks from comedies -- the movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno.  She starred opposite Seth Rogen in that one.  I also knew her from very funny sitcom work on episodes of Scrubs, 30 Rock and Modern Family.  Director Sara Colangelo drew a dramatic performance out of Elizabeth Banks in this drama that woke me up to the actress' range and depth.  She plays the conflicted wife of a mining company executive in a small town.
Taking responsibility.  Admitting the truth.  Those are not always easy things to do.  But they are things we, at critical moments in our lives, need to do.  We see characters grapple with those needs to do the right thing in this story.  A mining disaster occurred in the small town.  Were safety precautions in place?  This is Appalachian territory where blue collar folks work despite probable danger because they live paycheck to paycheck.                                                                                                                  
Slim, soft-spoken Amos (played by Boyd Holbrook) is the lone survivor of the mining tragedy. The town is in grief.  Next, the young son of the mining executive and his wife disappears.  The town experiences heartbreak on top of heartbreak.  Also, there's anger. Could the mine have been safer?  Was the executive irresponsible?  Will Amos have to testify?  The financially comfortable executive and his wife must keep up a caring appearance for the town.  We sense emotional distance in their marriage.
Amos comes in contact with the unhappy wife, Diane.  They're of different educational backgrounds.  Different social classes.  Yet, they're bonded in their broken hearts.  Yes, it's a melodramatic story but the acting is mighty fine and holds your interest.  The scene in the parking lot with Elizabeth Banks and Boyd Holbrook -- that's where I said to myself, "Wow, Elizabeth Banks.  Wow.  You are good."  Praise goes to Holbrook too.
This film could've had a big mining disaster scene in which men perished.  But it doesn't.  It wasn't needed.  We see the emotional toll it took.  That's the economy I referred to in Sara Colangelo's writing and direction.  The disaster comes through Amos' soul, the restrained way he carries himself --  he's like a prayer that's gone unanswered -- and the aftermath of the disaster comes through in the choices he makes.  Little Accidents is not a great movie but it sure has good performances and it well-made.  Banks' final scene hits the heart.  I hope we see more from director/writer Sara Colangelo. The entire cast is good.  The actors make this worth your while.

I wanted to recommend Little Accidents, now on DVD, because I saw a trailer for an upcoming biopic and Elizabeth Banks is in it. The movie opens this summer.  It's about The Beach Boys, the hit 1960s pop/rock group with the sunny Southern California surfer sound in its music.  The music may have been sunny but the band's family life wasn't.

Love & Mercy looks at the troubled and reclusive life of the Beach Boys gifted singer/songwriter, Brian Wilson.  Here's a trailer.

Elizabeth Banks -- she's not just funny.  She's got impressive dramatic skills as well.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Bead Lady of Broadway

A CHORUS LINE celebrates its 40th anniversary.  It opened off-Broadway at The Public Theater on April 16th in 1975, moved to Broadway and made theater history.  The musical drama won a Pulitzer Prize, nine Tony Awards and went on to be one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history. A Chorus Line became "one singular sensation" all over the world.  The original production closed in April 1990.
A revival hit Broadway in 2006.  In 2008, I interviewed the designing woman who made those chorus dancers look dazzling when a revival company went on tour.  I wrote and shot this feature for an AARP-related magazine show on national cable TV.  Broadway's Bessie Nelson seemed to be more like she was in her early 50s instead of 77.  Funny, friendly, hip, helpful and still extremely passionate about her work, she became so well-known for her bead work that she was profiled on the CBS Evening News and in The New York Times.  Bessie's work is beautiful.  Just ask Beyoncé.  She knows.  Cast members in the Broadway musical comedy Monty Python's Spamalot knew.

Theater folks honored Bessie Nelson with a prestigious award.  I had a totally cool time meeting Bessie at her New Jersey home and following her to the special Broadway event.

There was Bessie...doing the work that she loved.  What a unique artist!  She deserved that award.  And there I was with her... doing the work that I love.

To see more of my TV product, please visit my YouTube page:  YouTube.com/BobbyRiversTV.