South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on August 22, 1998 · Page 71
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South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · Page 71

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, August 22, 1998
Page 71
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MS Sun-Sentinel, Saturday, August 22, 1998 3D ARTSENTERTAINMENT Out - -- mm at i GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS Fox gets the season off to an early start with a pair of comedies that could be among the best and worst of this fall's new shows. ByTOMJICHA TVRadio Writer First impressions of the coming television season won't last long only about an hour. Thank goodness. Fox is jumping the gun on fall with a couple of early premieres Sunday -night, and they rank among the best - and worst of what is to come. The bad news comes first. That would be Holding the Baby, a shallow, derivative sitcom sure to raise the - question, "What could they have been thinking?" The only value Holding the . Baby has is that it might poison the pond for a couple of other similarly themed and similarly worthless new ' series in the planning stages. ' The premise is groanfully trite: Inept father is suddenly forced to raise - a toddler by himself. The defining moment comes during the diapering of the lad, when he unleashes a stream a scene that hasn't been done more - than several hundred times. This is as creative as Holding the Baby gets. The cast is down to the material. ' Charisma-challenged Jon Patrick . Walker is the bumbling dad, Gordon ' Stiles, who becomes a single parent when his New Age wife decides she wants to find herself in Tibet. Gordon, an advertising executive, has been so consumed by his work that he , never bothered to learn how to change his son's nappy, a situation that might have been credible a couple of generations ago, when Holding the Baby might have been considered - amusing. Unable to conquer the difficult concepts of tabs or pins, Gordon duct-tapes a diaper around his offspr- . ing. This is what passes for humor. The only person Gordon has to turn to for assistance is his ne'er-do-well brother, Jimmy, a chronic screwup who is worse than no help at all. ' With his demanding boss issuing a career-or-parenthood ultimatum, Gordon, in an act of desperation, takes out a want ad seeking a nanny. When an attractive college student named Kelly shows up at the ad agency seeking a part-time job, Gordon mistakes ; her for an applicant to tend to his son. -,She isn't interested initially but he prevails upon her compassion and -'eventually wears down her 'resistance. n i n 3v I f -2 ViV . -'JT - tf a U 1, , & - That '70s Show features, clockwise from left, Topher Grace, Wilmcr Valderrama, Nlila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon and Danny Masterson. Fox photos Holding the Baby cast includes, clockwise from left, Jon Patrick Walker, Eddie McClintock, Jennifer Westfeldt and The Baby. Program: Holding the Baby Stars: Jon Patrick Walker, Jennifer Westfeldt, Eddie McClintock, Ron Leibman Airs: 7:30 p.m. Sundays on WSVN-Ch. 7, WFLX-Ch. 29 Program: That 70s Show Stars: Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama, Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Tanya Roberts, Don Stark Airs: 8:30 p.m. Sundays on WSVN-Ch. 7, WFLX-Ch. 29 Eddie McClintock co-stars as Jimmy, Jennifer Westfeldt is Kelly and Ron Leibman, who apparently has reached the any-thing-for-a-paycheck stage of what has been a solid career, plays Gordon's boss, Stan Peterson. Kelly's acceptance of the job creates a situation in which Gordon, playboy-wannabe Jimmy and irritatingly perky Kelly are almost constantly under the same roof, all as a result of a misunderstanding. The spirit of Three's Company lives but probably not for long. Happy Days, two decades later Fox quickly redeems itself with That 70s Show, one of this season's brightest new comedies. The title is descriptive; a not-quite-so-"in" crowd comes of age in the era of disco, psychedelia, garish style, gas shortages and plentiful drugs. A scene involving the latter is likely to ignite the first controversy of the season, especially since there isn't much else to talk about pre-Labor Day. The teens in the show are depicted in the aftermath of experimentation with marijuana. However, the producers say this scene was an isolated case of setting the mood for the period, of which the writers clearly have a sturdy grasp. Drug humor will not be a staple of the series, the producers promised. Indeed, there will be subsequent anti-drug allusions. Novice actor Topher Grace looks like a find as Eric Forman, the pivot man of an engaging ensemble. Eric is ridden with typical teen angst, much of it caused by his feelings for Donna Pinciotti, the girl next door. They've been buddies for years but now the relationship is poised to move in a new direction, a step both are anxious to take. If there is a small blemish on the face of That 70s Show, it is that Laura Prepon, who plays Donna, conies off as several years more mature than the rest of the gang. The running mates include indecisive Michael Kelso and his whining princess, Jackie; Steve Hyde, an X-phile ahead of his time, and Fez, a foreign exchange student eager to fit in. The youngsters are all played by relative newcomers. Ashton Kutcher is Kelso, Mila Kunis is Jackie, Danny Masterson is Steve and Wilmer Valderrama plays Fez. The somewhat familiar faces in the cast belong to their parents, who also are caught up in the ludicrous fads of the day. Ex-Charlie's Angel Tanya Roberts plays Donna's mother, and veteran character actor Don Stark is her father, for whom every day is a bad hair day. Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp are Eric's parents, a still-randy pair. That 70s Show clearly aspires to be the Happy Days of the 70s, and judging by the premiere episode, it has the stuff to endure as a hit into the 2000s. Tori Amos YOUR WEEKEND GUIDE MAIN EVENTS Tori Amos The alternative pop singer-songwriter is on her Plugged '98 Tour and is scheduled to perform at 8 tonight at Sunrise Musical Theatre, 5555 NW 95th Ave. Tickets $28.50. Call Ticketmaster, 561-966-3309, 954-523-3309, 305-786-358-5885. Marc Anthony The Latin pop star is booked for a sold-out concert at 8 tonight at Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Call Ticketmaster. Bobby Caldwell The popjazz singer- songwriter (What You Marc Anthony Won't Do for Love, Stuck on You, Where Is Love) is scheduled .. to perform with an 18-piece orchestra at 8 ., p.m. Sunday at Jackie Gleason Theater, ;! 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $29, $39. Call Ticketmaster. FESTIVALS AND FAIRS Family Affair Day With community organizations, job fair, kids' talent search, exhibits, health screenings, immunizations, family entertainment, giveaways, multicultural music, fire safety demonstration. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today at Broward County Convention Center, 1950 , Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Free v admission. Call 954-357-8029. Summer Jam '98 With Blue Oyster Cult, Brian Howe (formerly of Bad Company), Starship with Mickey Thomas, Rugby America Blues Band, x Fabulons. Plus rugby games. Gates open 11a.m. Sunday at Mills Pond Park, 2201 , Powerline Road, Fort Lauderdale. Admission $12. Call Ticketmaster. Hawaiian Luau Party 6-10 p.m. today at River Inn, 1180 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Admission $35. Call 954-564-6411. Shalomfest , Music, entertainment, food, arts and crafts,' community services. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth El, 1351 S. 14th Ave., Hollywood. Call 954-920-8225. SHOWS AND SALES Antique Festival 1 1 a.m. -6 p.m. today and Sunday at Veterans Park, 509 NE 22nd Drive, Wilton - Manors. Admission $2.50. Call 3 954-561-5792. ; Aviary & Cage Bird ShowSale ; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today at War Memorial Auditorium, 800 NE Eighth St., Fort I Lauderdale. Admission $2. Call Z 954-792-6017. 9 McKeever's Postcards nothing to write home about I ! I. i l : i 'w-'i i q! ; v. . - V C -" . J XS iS "' . -' , ' tr--v. I 'J: Staff photoTAIMY ALVAREZ playwright Michael McKeever and Ellen Davis are mother and son ',M McKeever's bittersweet 37 Postcards. By JACK ZINK Theater Writer The fusion of modern realism with old-fashioned comic whimsy doesn't work in 37 Postcards, the summer's New Play Project for the New Theatre in Coral Gables. The setup is this: Brush up a plot from an old Frank Capra movie with '90s situations, language and savvy, and stand back for fun. Alas, Capra tried that himself without success, retooling his popular comedy formula of the '30s and '40s for a series of career-ending disappointments. Michael McKeever's equally dedicated, affectionate and belabored valentine lands with a familiar thud. In 37 Postcards, Avery Sutton (McKeever) returns to his rich, eccentric family's homestead in Connecticut after an eight-year European gadabout. He warns Gillian (Leila Piedrafita), his chic fiancee, about his quirky relatives but no explanations can prepare her for the real thing. The visit tests the young man's family loyalty and stresses the relationship with his bride-to-be. Mother Evelyn Sutton (Sally Levin) 37 Postcards A young man introduces his fiancee to his eccentric family. Through Sept. 6 at New Theatre, 65 Almeria Ave., Coral Gables. Shows 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 and 7 p.m. Sun. Tickets $20-$30. Call 305-443-5909. is a good-natured soul who blissfully ignores every disturbing reality, and mixes up nearly everything else. Father Stanford (John Barnett) has indulged her fantasies so long, he's learned to accept them too. In a room down the hall is grandmother Nana (Ellen Davis), an ornery, deaf, probably senile old coot who Evelyn thinks has been dead for a year. Sharing the homestead is a lighthearted spinster aunt (Kimberly Daniel) who runs a telephone sex business. Lurking on the grounds is the family dog, a Rottweiler who enjoys lunching on people's legs. McKeever's script uses the character mix to cook up a series of escapades and witty confrontations. But those events are played out on a rock-hard plot surface: Young Avery is here to face up to his past and take control of his family's future at substantial cost to his own present. The theme offers no lift to the comedy and in many cases deflates it. This premiere of 37 Postcards, though perhaps fixable, is a flat spot on McKeever's two-year roll as an emerging playwright. It lacks the finesse of his most recent The Garden of Hannah List at the Florida Stage in Manalapan. It also misses the wacky abandon of That Sound You Hear, which introduced him to South Florida audiences at the New Theatre. Further, conservative theatergoers, who might otherwise enjoy the play's whimsical side, run the risk of being put off by its sexual references and profanity. One could easily mistake 37 Postcards for an attempt to marry the techniques of McKeever's previous efforts in a middle ground of black comedy. But the play's dark elements, and some apparent absurdism, are actual ly manifestations of the script's irre- concilable differences. Z Avery's crisis is all too real. It re- casts the nuttiness around him as sej rious family dysfunction and emotion- al disorder. A cast of comic geniuses would have trouble shaking off theC script's dramatic shackles; this troupe displays none of the required instincts. It's therefore impossible fo director Barry Steinman to lift the hu- mor so obvious on the page onto the; stage. ; In a surprising attempt to solve th& problem, McKeever's character delivi ers an impassioned soliloquy (to his! listening but uncomprehending mom; at the end of Act 1. He realizes he ran-away from his problems at home, and that the rest of the family is still doing that by running in place. ; The speech is a critical footnote tcr explain what neither McKeever nor Steinman can make clear with thet play's action. 37 Postcards is best ap-J preached as an experimental show- case for a playwright-in-progress, with? good technical credits including cos tume selection, sound and lighting; and Guillermo Mediavilla's semi-min- imalist set. Puerto Rican star heats up Hollywood By MARTIN BOOE New York Daily News Chayanne who? Maybe you haven't yet heard of this Puerto Rican-born pop star. But among La-"tinos in the United States and all over I Latin America, where he has sold some 4 million albums, he's a household name. M Now it looks as if Chayanne might be set o cross over into the English-speaking mo-! Tie market as well. In his first Hollywood film, Dance With Me, which opened Friday, Ithayanne stars opposite pop diva Vanessa Williams. And although the 30-year-old performer - has been in show business since age 10, he ' admits to having been a little intimidated by his first Tinseltown experience. '.'1 "It's a new language, it's a new culture, it's Hollywood," says Chayanne. "You think people are going to be very cold, you don't know what to expect. But then I arrived and everybody was very nice. Vanessa and co-star Kris Kristofferson, they were wonderful. They gave me good comments, good help. That is something I need to feel when I am doing a project." Chayanne's musical career began at age 10 in Puerto Rico with the teen-idol ensemble Los Chicos, a Menudo clone. He launched his solo career at age 17 and, armed with a megawatt smile and charisma to spare, has become one of Latin America's most popular singing stars. Many expect his success to be replicated here. "When Chayanne walked in the door, the temperature went up about 20 degrees," says Dance With Me director Randa Haines. "He comes in with this heat, this wonderfully disarming personality. I thought this is as close as anybody will ever come to my ideal of this character." Making Donee With Me kept Chayanne on his toes like no project before. "We rehearsed like eight hours a day," he says. "There was a ballroom next to where we were filming, and in time off we would rehearse." On top of that, he received coaching not only for his English but for his accent as well his character is Cuban and the production went for authenticity. Is Chayanne, who is married with chil-drens prepared for the film to transform him into a major Latin heartthrob in these parts? "You don't prepare for that," he says, "but if that comes, it's fun." ,'. - V v---.-. L - . Vii .- ; ;. Si1 f.' "' jVa ;- 1 1 1 L .'..: 1 Columbia Pictures Vanessa Williams and Chayanne become ballroom partners in Dance With Me. photo

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