Tag Archives: premiere

Scully, Mulder, paranoia return in ‘The X-Files’ reboot

“The X-Files” creator Chris Carter is pleased to update the original template with his 21st-century unease. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are glad to be playing opposite each other again as Scully and Mulder.

And admirers likely will do a happy dance to the Fox TV drama’s eerie theme music as it returns with a six-episode limited run.

The two-part opener is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. EST Sunday, immediately after the end of the NFL’s NFC championship game on Fox, and at 8 p.m. EST Monday. Subsequent episodes also air at 8 p.m. Monday EST.

Will the reboot retain the dark magic of the original TV series, which in its 1993-2002 lifespan offered a wildly entertaining blend of government conspiracies, otherworldly suspense and black comedy that was placed in the hands of two unknown but charismatic actors?

Creator and executive producer Carter offers assurances, but with the caveat that he insisted on more than an exercise in nostalgia for the franchise that included two big-screen movies.

“Someone said to me, ‘Great, a victory lap,”” when the new project was announced, he said. “That’s the opposite of why we came back. We didn’t want to do something that reworked old material or was just a sequel to what we’d done before. I wanted to make something fresh and original.”

Current events and figures proved helpful, Carter said, citing National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and eroding personal privacy as examples.

“These are interesting and heady times, and perfect for telling ‘X-Files’ tales,” he said, promising a series more directly topical than the original. “We deal with fear in a lot of different ways. … The fact that we’re being spied on and don’t seem to be raising any protest is a frightening prospect for me.”

One tricky aspect is balancing the interests of “X-Files” devotees and potential newcomers.

“We have to be respectful of people who are familiar with the show so we don’t beat them over the head with things they know,” Carter said. “I think our approach is artful in what it gives fans and what it will provide non-fans.”

He’s joined in the cause by members of the creative team that helped make the first series a sensation, with Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan and James Wong splitting writing and directing duties with Carter on the new episodes.

Also back are Mitch Pileggi, who played FBI assistant director Walter Skinner in the original series; William B. Davis as the shadowy Cigarette Smoking Man; and, despite their deaths, the beloved conspiracy-theory geeks known collectively as the Lone Gunmen.

“No one is every truly dead on ‘The X-Files,’” Carter said, drolly.

Newcomer Joel McHale is onboard as Tad O’Malley, a news anchor.

In the first go-round, FBI agent Fox Mulder was driven to prove the government was hiding evidence of aliens on Earth. Fellow agent Dana Scully was his initially skeptical colleague.

In the reboot, new evidence reunites them in the quest to uncover the truth. It’s personal as well, Anderson said.

“There’s something that’s missing in Scully’s life, and that thing is clearly Mulder. Both of them feel disconnected from the world and themselves because they’re missing a limb,” she said.

She and Duchovny have moved on to a variety of on-screen and other projects, including writing (both have published novels), and, in Duchovny’s case, music. But they said returning to the “X-Files” fold, with Carter again in charge, felt right.

“Chris is a serious person and an artist. And if he says he’s got a way to make it work, I trust that,” Duchovny said.

Said Anderson: “There were aspects of it that felt ridiculously familiar and kind of felt we never left. Some elements were much more challenging — running in heels,” she added, laughing.

Last summer’s taping in Vancouver, Canada, was arranged around her London-based family life. But she brought part of it with her: daughter Piper, who is studying production design, was on the set to gain work experience and ended up contributing to the series, Anderson said.

Whatever work-related tension that existed between the stars, the by-product of churning out some two-dozen episodes a season and becoming instant stars, is long gone, Duchovny said.

“Put any human being in that situation, working the amount that we worked and going through the ride from obscurity to global (fame), it’s just crazy-making,” he said. “It’s a natural human emotion to have enough of one another in that situation. Now it’s quite the opposite, it’s respect and love and gratitude.”

On the Web


‘Normal Heart’ beats with outrage

A long time in the making (Barbra Streisand held up the screen rights for years), the movie adaptation of Larry Kramer’s difficult early AIDS-era play The Normal Heart finally premiered May 25 on HBO. It was a fitting start for the Memorial Day Weekend, as there are so many friends, family and loved ones who must not be forgotten.

The Normal Heart opens in 1981 with the arrival of Ned Weeks (an impassioned Mark Ruffalo in a career-high performance) at Fire Island Pines, the epicenter of the nation’s gay sexual revolution and recreational drug use. A semi-autobiographical character, Weeks is, like Kramer, a writer who has pissed off more than a few of Fire Island’s regulars for his negative views on promiscuity, especially those he published in a book (Kramer shook up the gay world with the novel Faggots). While he remains aloof to the scene, Weeks is far from chaste.

The occasion for his visit to the Pines is the birthday celebration for Craig (Jonathan Groff), lover of closeted ex-marine/current Wall Streeter Bruce (Taylor Kitsch, who is hereby forgiven for all of his past bad acting choices). The festive atmosphere, however, is short-lived.

Beginning with the 1981 article in The New York Times about a rare cancer that appeared to affect only gay men, The Normal Heart beats hard, fast and erratic. Sanford, a shop owner who recognizes Ned at the doctor’s office, has lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma — a rare form of cancer prevalent during the early years of AIDS.  Dr. Emma Brookner (an unglamorous, wheelchair-bound Julia Roberts in the most impressive performance of her career) tells Ned that she’s seen several patients like Sanford. But she’s frustrated by the lack of response from gay organizations, which she needs to help her get out the word about the yet-unnamed disease.

Brookner enlists Ned, and his notorious big mouth, to enlighten New York’s promiscuous gay community about the possible link between the cancer and sex. Ned organizes a meeting with Brookner and members of the community. It goes badly, beginning with Brookner’s startling announcement, “You’re all going to infect each other and you’re all going to die.”

The men, not ready to give up their new-found freedom, jeer as they quickly flee Brookner and her dire prophecy. Ned welcomes her to “gay politics.”

In pursuit of getting journalistic coverage, Ned meets handsome, closeted New York Times writer Felix (Matt Bomer) and a romance develops. But this glimmer of joy is overshadowed by the increasing number of deaths, the mistreatment of hospital patients with GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, as the disease was then known), the lack of government funding and closeted New York Mayor Ed Koch’s refusal to deal with the disease out of fear it would lead to outing him and high-ranking members of his staff. 

The 1982 formation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with Bruce as president, is a turning point. Executive director Tommy (a brilliant Jim Parsons) becomes the voice of reason (and much-needed humor) during some of the film’s most heated moments. Ned’s short fuse and sharp tongue continues to vex him, and by extension the organization. Making matters worse, Felix discovers a KS lesion on his foot. If you haven’t already cried a few times at this point during the movie, check your pulse and be sure to have a box of tissues handy.

As a director, Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) is no Mike Nichols, but he holds his own. Some of his trademark visuals work quite effectively. To his credit, Murphy doesn’t shy away from the sex, some of which is depicted graphically. It’s a necessary component of the story.

As with HBO’s award-winning adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels In America (directed by Nichols), The Normal Heart is finding its audience not in movie theaters, but in people’s homes. In some ways, that’s preferable, as The Normal Heart is a draining tear-jerker that raises a lot of difficult questions that still warrant discussion. 

With young gay and bisexual men, particularly of color, continuing to disproportionately represent new cases of HIV, The Normal Heart should be required viewing for millennials. For many of the rest of us, it’s an accurately bleak trip down the memory lane of horrors that formed the backbone of our later political succsses.

Wisconsin-focused doc ‘Citizen Koch’ to screen in Madison, Milwaukee

Madison and Milwaukee will screen Citizen Koch, which tells the story of the changing American political landscape from the perspective of three Wisconsin state employees — all lifelong Republicans — who found their party taking direct aim at them with Scott Walker’s campaign against collective bargaining and unions.

The documentary premieres in June after debuting at Sundance. The film will open in Madison and Milwaukee on June 13. It also will screen in other select cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, and Hartford, Connecticut.

Academy Award-nominated directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, who co-produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, made the film about the rise of the tea party, the impact of Citizens United, the influence of right-wing billionaires such as the Koch brothers and Scott Walker’s war on workers.

The filmmakers completed production with crowdfunding after PBS canceled its support for the project, apparently out of concern for losing donor support from David Koch.

For more, go to citizenkoch.com.

In other news 

• Transition Milwaukee hosts the fifth annual Power Down Week, a series of events designed to build community and encourage energy conservation. Organizers are building support and preparing now for the week, which is July 6–13. For more, go to www.powerdownweek.com.

• The Human Rights Campaign is urging a boycott of American hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei after Brunei advanced a series of changes to its penal code that would allow for the stoning of LGBT people. The sultan issued the law despite his notoriously lavish and depraved lifestyle, which includes scores of harems of young girls and many homes, one of which has 1,800 rooms. The tiny Southeast Asian nation began phasing in a version of sharia law in early May, prompting HRC to call for a boycott of The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel Air, which are part of the Sultan’s Dorchester collection. For more, go to www.hrc.org.

• The Gay & Lesbian Institute is accepting applications for a candidate and campaign training session in Portland, Oregon, June 19–22. The weekend-long program will bring prospective candidates, staffers and community organizers together for workshops taught by consultants and campaign veterans. For more, go to www.victoryfund.org.

— L.N.

Milwaukee to premiere AIDS-related film starring Kenosha native

Milwaukee has been selected as one of five cities for an early premiere of an HBO film.

“The Normal Heart” stars Kenosha native Mark Ruffalo as well as Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Alfred Molina.

It’s based on the Tony Award-winning play by Larry Kramer and is about the AIDS crisis in early 1980s New York.

Brad Pitt is producer.

The movie will be shown at the Landmark Oriental Theatre on May 21.

Milwaukee was selected along with Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco to see the film before it airs May 25 as part of a partnership between Milwaukee Film and HBO.

HBO spokesman Mike Hopper says Milwaukee is one of the top markets for “Game of Thrones” viewership, so there is a definite audience for HBO in Milwaukee.

HBO plans at least 2 more seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’

“Game of Thrones” rules.

HBO has renewed the epic fantasy series for two more years. The network promised more “dazzling storytelling” in those fifth and sixth seasons.

Based on the best-selling book series by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is set on the exotic, often war-torn continent of Westeros. Cast regulars include Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Charles Dance and Natalie Dormer.

Sunday’s season debut was seen by 6.6 million viewers, making it HBO’s most-watched program since the finale of “The Sopranos” in 2007. Its audience was 50 percent larger than for last season’s premiere.

On the Web …


Family dynamics at the heart of Chamber Theatre season opener

Madison playwright Kurt McGinnis Brown, like most authors, was originally counseled to write about what he knew. One of the results of that advice is “Broken and Entered,” a play with roots in his figurative as well literal experiences.

“One of my grandfathers led a shady life,” says Brown, whose play opens Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s fall season. “He did odd jobs, including hitting the road in his Model T to sell matches. He also organized illegal card games and ran numbers.”

On the other side of Brown’s family were two brothers who never quite made it in the world and ended up moving back to their mother’s house. The two influences combined to become the protagonists in Brown’s play, which received a Chamber Theatre dramatic reading in 2010 and will have its first fully staged world premiere later this month.

The play about two brothers who move home and embark upon a life of crime has great appeal for director Suzan Fete, who directed the staged reading and makes her Chamber Theatre main stage directing debut with this production. The appeal has less to do with criminal activity than with the relationships among the characters.

“I am very attracted to family-dynamic plays, and the intricate, fragile and often subconscious inner working of families – mine included – fascinate me,” she says. “‘Broken and Entered’ was a natural for me.”

In the play’s narrative, Vern (Jonathan Leslie Wainwright) and Wally (Andrew Edwin Voss) move back to their family home in a crumbling inner city community.  They soon realize that in order to survive, they need to take what they can get. Each night they guiltlessly burglarize houses in nearby upscale neighborhoods. 

But Wally falls for wealthy, attractive African-American neighbor Jamila (Marti Gobel, who reprises her role from the 2010 reading), who has returned to gentrify the neighborhood. Her involvement and her outsider’s view help Vern and Wally realize how impossible it is for them to fully escape their past or recriminations for their present actions. The two brothers are forced to reexamine their perceptions of race while facing the demons of their childhoods.

Despite their nefarious ways, Vern and Wally engender the audience’s sympathy in this comic tragedy, primarily because they simply are not very good burglars. The pair is also plagued by their past, resulting in a series of decisions that many of us can relate to, Brown says.

“They’d like to think of themselves as clever professional criminals, but they’re bumblers whose mad logic puts them in comic situations,” Brown says. “I think people might find them endearing. Wally and Vern are two guys that never had a chance. I don’t mean they should be excused for their actions, but all that they really want is to have lived in a family that loved and cherished them. And it’s too late for that.”

What makes this play approachable for anyone is the truth of the piece and the inevitability of its outcome, Fete says. That truth is something to which Brown as playwright could relate.

“If you’re a writer, you can’t help but write what you know,” Brown says. “The milieu in the play is not the milieu I grew up in, but by pushing my imagination in a certain direction, I can see what our family might have been like. That gave me something fun to play with in creating this world.”

Several performances of “Broken and Entered,” which runs Sept. 27 to Oct. 14 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre, will be accompanied by talkbacks with Brown, Fete, Gobel and Chamber Theatre artistic director C. Michael Wright.

Visit www.milwaukeechambertheatre.com for more information.

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre Season at a Glance

“Broken and Entered,” Sept. 26–Oct. 14

“Collected Stories,” Nov. 21–Dec. 16

“Underneath the Lintel,” Feb. 21–March 17

“Jeeves in Bloom,” April 11–28

Lynch, Clooney, Curtis to star in L.A. anti-Prop 8 benefit

Broadway Impact and the American Foundation for Equal Rights announced an all-star cast for the West Coast premiere of “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play based on the federal trial of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8.

AFER board member Rob Reiner is directing the Los Angeles premiere – an AFER benefit – set for March 3. Reiner’s cast includes himself, George Clooney, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Jamie Lee Curtis, Martin Sheen, Matt Bomer, Campbell Brown, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cleve Jones, Christine Lahti, Rory O’Malley, Yeardley Smith and George Takei.

Clooney and Sheen will play the lead attorneys for AFER, David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, who argue for marriage equality in the trial.

Lahti and Curtis will play plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple together for 11 years and the parents of four boys.

Morrison and Bomer will play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple together more than 10 years.

Lynch will play marriage equality opponent Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage.