UPDATED with more information throughout: The Broadway star who turned Stephen Sondheim’s song of survival “I’m Still Here” into a personal anthem of triumph over booze, diabetes, unfaithful lovers, indifferent producers, demanding directors, fawning fans and long stretches of unemployment before achieving the status of Living Legend in her later decades, died Thursday in Birmingham, MI, the Detroit suburb to which she decamped a year ago after living the fabulous life for years at Madison Avenue’s Hotel Carlyle. She was 89. Broadway dimmed its lights for one minute on Friday at 7:45 PM in tribute.
Stritch may have found the widest audience of her storied career playing Alec Baldwin’s sharp-tongued mother on the NBC comedy 30 Rock. She was also a sometime favorite of Woody Allen, having appeared in the films Small Time Crooks and September.
But Stritch was first and foremost a creature of the stage, playing large roles and small and always, essentially, Elaine Stritch. Slight and charismatic, she proffered a mezzo soprano that, in youth, had a hungering quality one can hear in “I Never Know When,” from 1958′s Goldilocks – an otherwise forgotten musical by Jean and Walter Kerr, with songs by Leroy Anderson, Joan Ford and the Kerrs — in which Stritch starred with Don Ameche and Russell Nype. Later, that voice would become as distinctive as Tom Waits’, invariably described as sandpaper soaked in whisky or some variation of the two. Still, it never lost that sense of urgency, and the two qualities combined to distinguished Stritch from the other Broadway divas of an era long enough to encompass Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury and Bernadette Peters. Read More »
Elaine Stritch‘s new docu opened in a pair of New York theaters this weekend to a decent crowd. The Tribeca ’13 doc opened at Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center grossing $30K. Now in a wheelchair and frail, the Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress/performer nevertheless made headlines last weekend when she delivered the F-bomb on The Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, giving the film a round of publicity in the lead up to its weekend opening. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me got off to a fantastic start as the film will roll out to the top twenty markets throughout March. “Audiences came out to see the well reviewed documentary about the legendary Emmy and Tony award winner,” noted IFC Films Sunday. It will also be available via VOD soon.
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Adopt Films opened its Foreign-Language Oscar nominee Omar in a fairly wide 51 theaters. The Palestinian feature by Hany Abu-Assad won festival accolades from Cannes, London, NYFF and AFI Fest had by far the widest opening among its fellow Oscar contenders that have opened Stateside. Tribeca Film’s Broken Circle Breakdown opened in one theater grossing $7,100 ($158 cume), while Magnolia’s The Hunt bowed in 10 theaters last July, growing $43K ($613 cume). Janus Films’ The Great Beauty is by far the box office winner among the pack, passing the $2 million cume threshold this week. It opened in one location in November, grossing $23,442. Strand’s The Missing Picture from Cambodia will open next month. Read More »
A new Oscar nominee is finally making its theatrical outing this weekend. Foreign-language contender Omar will open in over a few dozen locations, giving the director of this Palestinian feature his largest bow Stateside via Adopt Films. IFC Films will open Tribeca debut Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me in New York, capitalizing on the Tony and Emmy Award-winner’s long-time home before her recent move. Roadside Attractions will launch a pair of films, Barefoot and In Secret, though the two will have much different theatrical trajectories. Diginext will open doc The Standbys in NYC, capitalizing on its Broadway base, while Music Box Films’ genre label Doppelgänger Releasing will open Black Out in limited runs.
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Cast: Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany, Iyad Hoorani, Essam Abu Aabed, Baher Agbariya
Distributor: Adopt Films
Combining elements of a thriller, intrigue and a love story, Oscar-nominated film (Foreign Language category) Omar had its premiere in Cannes and later screened in Toronto and at NYFF. The feature revolves around a young Palestinian fighter who agrees to work as an informant after he’s tricked into an admission of guilt by association after the killing of an Israeli soldier. “Omar showcases the human limitations of an occupied people where the collective paranoia invades the daily life of both the Israelis and Palestinians,” said Tim Grady, president of Distribution at Adopt Films, which also distributed Israeli film Bethlehem, also filmed in the West Bank. Read More »
While Elaine Stritch played a mom character who drove her executive son crazy on 30 Rock, that Alec Baldwin continues to be a good son, even after the sitcom has gone by the wayside. Or maybe he still feels bad that his alter ego Jack Donaghy backed over her with a car. He has signed on to lend his support as an executive producer for Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a documentary on her career that will premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. Chiemi Karasawa directed the film about the Tony and Emmy-winning actress. Baldwin reached out to Karasawa directly after he got word of the IndieGogo campaign launched to raise additional funds to release the movie. “It’s a fitting real-life extension of their roles on 30 Rock except in this case there is no ambiguity in Alec’s genuine support and endorsement of Elaine,” Karasawa said. It’s a beautiful gesture.” The film will be shopped at Tribeca by Submarine’s Josh Braun, who’s handling world rights. Karasawa is producing with Elizabeth Hemmerdinger.