The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on March 25, 1992 · Page 59
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 59

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Wednesday, March 25, 1992
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ENTERTAINMENT THE ARTS TV LISTINGS CALENDAR WEDNESDAY floe Angeles (Junes MARCH 25, 1992 F HIGHLIGHTS REVIEWS RE-BORN "JAKE": Neil Simon's ."Jake's Women" has gone through a remarkable sea change that makes its new incarnation at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre one of Simon's best. Reviewed by Sylvie Drake. Fl DUTCH DELIGHT: Amsterdam keyboardist Ton Koopman gave a stylish and characterful account of a mini-survey of Baroque organ music at a Granada Hills concert. Reviewed by John Henken. F5 MISCHA MUSICIANS: An ad-hoc string quartet probed the dark corners of Mozart's Quartet in D minor, K. 421, with thrilling intensity and rhythmic thrust at the latest Music for Mischa concert. Reviewed by Herbert Glass. F5 LOST, NOT FOUND: East West Players' production of Luigi Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author" is a staging in search of a meaning, and loses its way. Reviewed by Robert Koehler. F7 MAGIC ON AIDS: Nickelodeon's "A Conversation With Magic" is an intimate, unscripted give-and-take between Magic Johnson, Linda El-lerbee and a group of concerned, compassionate pre-teens. Reviewed by Lynne Heffley. F8 A JESTER'S REVENGE: "Fool's Fire," a bizarre adaptation of a nightmarish Edgar Allan Poe story about a court jester and a grotesque king, makes for an audacious "American Playhouse" tonight. Reviewed by Ray Loynd. F8 ARTS NEWS "MYSTERIES" CALLERS: NBC's top-rated "Unsolved Mysteries" has solved nearly two mysteries per episode this season. Fl Windsor Casllc. Royal Library VENETIAN SPECTACULAR: "Leonardo & Venice" marks the first time that so many of Leonardo's small drawings, more than 70, have been shown together. It also offers the first systematic look at Leonardo's impact on fellow artists in a city that was then the capital of a great maritime empire. Above, the artist's profile of an old man, done in red pencil and charcoal. Fl NATURE AND ART: "Personal Edens: The Gardens and Film Sets of Florence Yoch," a show of drawings and photographs at the Huntington, recalls the work of a pioneering landscape architect who created outdoor sets for films in the '30s and designed lavish gardens for Southland clients. Fl PHONE FANS: U2 fans jammed phone lines by placing more than 1 million calls to purchase about 26,000 tickets to the group's two concerts at the Sports Arena. F2 COLUMNS MORNING REPORT: Obsessed Letterman fan strikes again . . . Vatican modesty wins out over Michelangelo. F2 LIZ SMITH: Will wedding bells toll for Quincy Jones and Nastassja Kinski? F2 TV RATINGS: Things may be looking up for ABC's first-year drama "Homefront." F2 INDEX Openings F2 Radio F9 TV Tips F10 TV: Tonight's schedule F10 The Great 'Jake' Remake Major Rewrite Makes It One of Simon's Best By SYLVIE DRAKE TIMES THEATER CRITIC NEW YORK-Remember Jake? Two years ago, he was that neurotic heel who sat around his upscale apartment on the stage of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, whining at all the women in his life, real and reconstituted, and driving everyone crazy. "Everyone" very much included the audience. Now here we are again at home with Jake, who is again visiting with his fantasies, his women and his neurosis in a rewrite of Neil Simon's "Jake's Women" that makes us wonder if this can be the same Jake. The answer, of course, is that it's not. People change, especially Neil Simon people. And that's not merely because a new man, Alan Alda, has the title role. It's also because Simon is one of the few playwrights you can trust when he says he's rewritten 70 of his play. He has. "Jake's Women" in San Diego was so unworkable that Simon himself pulled the plug, aborting a scheduled 1990 Broadway opening in the nick of time. It was the expensive but right thing to do, as demonstrated by the far more subtle and engaging version that opened here Tuesday at the Neil Simon Theatre. This "Jake's" is still recognizable. We're still trapped in the man's tortured deliberations with his wife, sister, analyst, daughter, date and former wife, all m various states of incarnation, either because they're really there or because he's dragged them in as figments of his hyperactive imagination. But the play is new in the respects that count. It is deeper, more complex and, above all, a lot more forthcoming. Jake, a writer, is still a barely veiled alter ego for Simon himself. The play is still an exploration of his troubles with intimacy, his yearning for his dead first wife Julie (a classy Kate Burton) that serves to ruin the marriage to his second one, Maggie (Helen Shaver, full of shading and pain). The difference here is that, under pressure, Jake finally makes certain humanizing admissions, acknowledging his limitations and showing us the painful reasons behind them. It is the magic key that unlocks the play. Tapping Into 'Mysteries' Phone Bank Television: A ratings bastion for NBC reaches out and touches its audience, solving one out of four cases aired, including the arrest of 79 suspects. By DANIEL CERONE TIMES STAFF WRITER The male caller identified himself only as a reader of Tarot cards: "Look for the baby boy on Maui. He's staying with his father at one of the largest hotels on the island. Look near a volcano that is erupting, or about to erupt. I also see a bright pink orchid nearby." The operator dutifully typed the information into her computer. "Thank you for calling," she said. "That child is going to be found," the man said confidently to himself as he hung up the phone. The anonymous fortuneteller was one of the roughly 1,500 callers who dialed the 800 number after watching NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" last Wednesday night. From the moment the program airs on the East Coast each week, phone calls ranging from viewer tips to personal pleas for help pour into the 24-hour phone bank in Los Angeles, where 28 operators record information that leads to a substantial number of resolutions. "Unsolved Mysteries," hosted by the stately Robert Stack, Emmy Award winner for "The Untouchables," has solved an average of nearly two mysteries per episode this season. The most curious mystery, however, may be the popularity of the reality-based series, produced for an estimated $700,000 per episode or slightly more than half the cost of most one-hour dramas. Tagged by critics as tabloid TV when it premiered in 1987, "Unsolved Mysteries" has steadily added fans to become a ratings bastion for I NBC. The series, which has been renewed STAGE REVIEW Alan Alda and Helen Shaver in "Jake's Aside from the pleasantly understated central presence of Alda, a Jake you instinctively trust, Gene Saks is directing, and no one knows how to map the Simon territory better. Nor do we have quite the same women tormenting Jake's mind. Joyce Van Patten and Talia Bal-sa'm are the only holdovers from the A recent "hot tip" to "Unsolved Mysteries" with Tennessee sheriff investigator David for next fall, currently ranks No. 11 among 131 prime-time network shows that have aired this season. Ratings show that the majority of those viewers live outside the nation's big cities. A sample of an evening's phone calls reveals the far-reaching net that "Unsolved Mysteries" casts each week. "I was on an airplane last Saturday from New York to Cincinnati, and I swear that guy was sitting beside me," exclaimed Poppy Forman, 18, who was watching with her husband last Wednesday in Oceanside when she telephoned. The profile she was referring to involved an estranged husband from Los Angeles, Sergio Farina, who allegedly ran off with his 7-month-old son, Marcus. Marcus has a malfunctioning thyroid glsuid that may result in Graves' disease if nMproper- MARTHA SWOPE Women": A remarkable sea change. original cast, but their roles as therapist and new date, respectively, have shifted some, especially Van Patten's as Jake's analyst Edith. Jake may characterize her as "a mother with a diploma," but it's an affectionate more than a critical statement. She's not the bimbo she once was, Please see 'JAKEyS,' F6 Associated Press led to the arrest of Cheryl Wooten, here Guy after her extradition from Texas. ly cared for. "He had an unforgettable face," Forman said excitedly. "He had short hair, no sideburns and a heavy accent. ... He was really cute." "I know how to eliminate what leads to Graves' disease," volunteered one ornery man who phoned in. "Has to do with fluoride in the water. Nobody will listen to me because I don't have no Ph.D. But I'm the only man to beat colon cancer. I'm 70, and I could outrun Bob Stack." By evening's end, the "Unsolved Mysteries" staff had whittled the Farina calls down to five "hot tips" or serious leads. He was "recognized" as an apartment tenant in Los Angeles, a hotel guest in Washington and at a health spa in Oregon, while believed to be working as an actor in New York and a dancer in Las Vegas. Pleue seeVMYSTERIES,' F4 Leaves From Leonardo's Notebook Art: 'Leonardo & Venice' marks the first time so many of the artist's small drawings have been shown together. By WILLIAM D. MONTALBANO TIMES STAFF WRITER VENICE, Italy If, at first glance, teaming Leonardo da Vinci with Renaissance Venice seems like a marriage of titans, look again. The result in a canalside 18th-century palace here is less a flourish of trumpets than the trill of flutes. "Leonardo & Venice," which opened Monday, has all the hallmarks of an art spectacular that is a small joy. No sense rushing in for 20 minutes expecting a "Wow!" But more time and some reflection could produce some rewarding "Ahas!" The show, which runs at the Palazzo Grassi until July 5 under sponsorship of Venice's Fine Arts Authority and the automobile giant Fiat, is twin-barreled. It marks the first time that so many of Leonardo's small drawings, more than 70, have been shown together. And, by juxtaposing the drawings with paintings by such Venetian contemporaries as Bellini and Giorgione, it offers the first systematic look at Leonardo's impact on fellow artists in a city that was then the capital of a great maritime empire. Leonardo, who divided most of his time between his native Florence and Milan, visited Venice in time of war in March, 1500. He was 48 that year and already a legend, but hard-pressed Venetian authorities welcomed him as a military engineer as much as an artist. A Turkish war fleet lay menacingly offshore. Leonardo threw out engineering advice like sparks: Flood the neighboring countryside to forestall an invasion; attack the Turkish ships from underwater. As ever, Leonardo ambidextrously recorded his design ideas in painstaking detail on bits or paper or parchment with pen and brown ink or colored chalk. He scribbled extensive notes in mirror writing, right to left. The main part of the Grassi's show is fruit of Leonardo's lifelong habit of carrying a notebook around in his pocket in the way today's news photographers never stir without a just-in-case camera. Many of the drawings, which span a lifetime of art and engineering, are from Italian museums, but some of the best have been lent by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II Please see LEONARDO, F3 An Indoor Garden of Delights Art: The Huntington's Scott Gallery is showing 'Personal Edens: The Gardens and Film Sets of Florence Yoch.' By SUZANNE MUCHNIC TIMES ART WRITER Visitors who stroll through the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino sometimes feel that they have died and gone to heaven or to Britain or France or Japan or a Southwestern desert, depending on which of the 15 gardens capture their imaginations. Inside the Huntington's art galleries, the mood changes as nature gives way to cultural treasures meticulously fashioned by human hand. That's the way it is at the Huntington, except in "Personal Edens: The Gardens and Film Sets of Florence Yoch," an exhibition at the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery (to June 1). In the process of paying homage to Southern California landscape architect Florence Yoch (1890-1972), the show provides an uncommon view of a marriage of nature and art. A rich assortment of photographs and drawings reveals that Yoch not only bent nature to her artistic will, she also fulfilled the fantasies of film producers, in outdoor sets created for five films in the '30s. Working on private estates, she also satisfied the pretensions of Hollywood's nou-veaux riches and the dreams of Pasadena's finest. Yoch's raw materials were trees, shrubs, flowers, lawns, water, ceramic tiles and statuary, but she drew inspiration from international travel as she shaped gardens on the big screen and for clients from Montecito, Calif., to Sinaloa, Mexico. Without Florence Yoch and her longtime partner, Lucile Council, the O'Hara estate in "Gone With the Wind," the rice paddies in "The Good Earth," the Capulet garden in Please see YOCH, F3 7

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