I am enjoying Shining Vale immensely. A horror-comedy series that delivers both genuine laughs AND genuine chills, Shining Vale also offers a thoughtful, refreshingly candid take on marriage, mental health issues, and intergenerational trauma. The entire cast is crushing it, especially Courteney Cox as protagonist Patricia Phelps, an author with clinical depression and a massive case of writer’s block, and Mira Sorvino as Pat’s muse/alter ego/possible demon, Rosemary. The nod to The Shining isn’t in name only; a number of easter eggs pay homage to both Stephen King’s 1977 novel and Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 film adaptation. This week’s episode, “Whispering Hope”, was the best yet, with Pat answering the question of how far she’ll go to complete her novel. With two episodes left in the season, I’m pleased to say I have no idea where the story will go next.
On this day in 2008, super couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z were married in New York City.
Stephen Sondheim’s Follies opened on this date in 1971 at the Winter Garden Theatre. Follies was directed by Broadway legends Harold Prince and Michael Bennett (Bennett was also the choreographer). Follies initially received a lukewarm critical reception, and it was a commercial flop as well, losing almost $800,000 by the time it ended its run after 522 performances. Follies nonetheless raked in eleven Tony nominations and took home seven awards (it lost Best Musical to Two Gentlemen of Verona, a musical adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy). A film adaptation is in the works; I am skeptical. Fun fact: The Munsters‘ Yvonne De Carlo originated the role of film star Carlotta, who sings one of Follies‘ show-stopping numbers, “I’m Still Here”.
Anthony Perkins was born on this day in 1932. Although primarily known for his portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho and its three sequels, Perkins was a versatile, Tony- and Oscar-nominated actor and singer who was equally adept at drama and comedy. He spent his early career playing romantic leading men while hiding his sexual orientation; in fact, his partner of several years was Tab Hunter, who also tended to play the romantic type (there’s a movie in development about their relationship, with Andrew Garfield the frontrunner to play Perkins). Perkins went to tragic lengths to deny his true self, but he did spend the last nineteen years of his life married to actress-photographer Berry Berenson, with whom he had two sons. Perkins passed away in 1992 of AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of sixty (to compound the tragedy of their story, Berenson was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01).
Heath Ledger was born on this day in 1979. Ledger burst onto the scene in 1999 when he made his American film debut in 10 Things I Hate About You, Disney-Touchstone’s delightful take on The Taming of the Shrew. Ledger was charming as the film’s Petruchio, Patrick, and he had sparkly chemistry with Julia Stiles. Over the next several years, Ledger gave us one killer performance after another, alternating between crowd-pleasers like The Patriot and A Knight’s Tale and indies such as Monster’s Ball and Brokeback Mountain. The latter film garnered Ledger his first Oscar nomination; Philip Seymour Hoffman swept the awards circuit that year for his astonishing turn as Truman Capote in Capote, but Ledger sure gave him a run for his money. In 2008, he delivered his most iconic performance yet, as The Dark Knight‘s Joker. On January 22, 2008, twenty-eight-year-old Ledger was found dead in his SoHo apartment, the result of acute multiple-drug intoxication. The Dark Knight was released that July to critical acclaim and a massive box office haul (more than $1 billion); that awards season, Ledger posthumously won the Oscar, the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the SAG.
Elmer Bernstein would have been 100 years old today. Bernstein composed music for more than 200 movies and television series, including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Magnificent Seven, Ghostbusters, The Age of Innocence, and Far From Heaven (his final film). Bernstein died in 2004 at the age of eighty-two.
And finally, the Grammy Awards were held last night. As far as I know, no one slapped anyone else. Jon Batiste was the night’s big winner, with eleven nominations and five awards, including Album of the Year for We Are. Nineteen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo won three awards, including the coveted Best New Artist prize. Lady Gaga stunned on the red carpet in her black and pink Armani Privé gown. And Billie Eilish paid tribute to the late Taylor Hawkins while performing “Happier Than Ever”.