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Posts about Behind the scenes

Is 'Fargo' a hit? You betcha!

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: April 16, 2014 - 2:31 PM
Billy Bob Thornton in "Fargo"/photo by Chris Large for FX

Looks like America really did want to return to "Fargo." The Tuesday-night debut of the Minnesota-set series drew 4.5 million viewers, a strong initial number that will only get bigger once time-shifted viewing is counted.

To put it in perspective, the turnout was nearly twice the number that tuned in for the season premiere of "Mad Men" Sunday night.

"We are incredibly pround of the towering creative achievement by Noah Hawley and everyone involved with 'Fargo,'" said FX chief John Landgraf, citing the name of the show's creator. "This is truly one of the best shows we've ever had on the network."

Missed out on all the fun? The first episode will repeat at 11:20 p.m.Wednesday, midnight Thursday and midnight Saturday. A new episode airs next Tuesday at 9 p.m.

In addition to the impressive ratings, "Fargo" was almost universally praised by critics with USA Today (and the Star Tribune, too) giving it four stars.

What did YOU think?

Stephen Colbert will replace Letterman as 'Late Show' host

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: April 10, 2014 - 11:09 AM

Well, that was fast.

CBS announced Thursday that Stephen Colbert will take over when David Letterman retires sometime in 2015.

CBS president Leslie Moonves called Colbert "one of the most inventive and respected forces on television."

"I'm thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me," Colbert said in a statement. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth."

A few instant thoughts:

The quickness of this announcement has got to mean that CBS had Colbert in mind all along if and when Letterman decided to depart.

Colbert is a true talent, but we really haven't seen the real Colbert. It's a given that he'll drop the ultra-conservative, egotistical character he's been playing on Comedy Central.

Colbert is a good choice, but not a terribly bold one. It saddens me that the biggest network late-night battle will be between three white guys who are roughly the same age. My guess is that CBS will "retire" Craig Ferguson and bring in Chelsea Handler.

The next big question: Who will follow Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show"?

"Mr. Burns" will play the Guthrie, not Park Square

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: April 3, 2014 - 2:52 PM

The cast of "Mr. Burns, a post-electric Play" at Playwrights Horizons last year./Photo from Playwrights Horizons.

All’s Well that Ends Well, Shakespeare reminded us. And it appears that a potential loss for Park Square Theatre’s 2014-15 season has a reasonably happy ending, thanks to cooperation from the Guthrie.

Park Square had announced an ambitious line-up of 19 projects for what will be the company’s first season with two stages. “Mr. Burns, a post-electric play,” by Anne Washburn, was slated for the new 200-seat thrust stage and it felt like a real coup to snare this buzzy play to christen the new space.

Show business, though, can be a weird deal. Park Square had a deal with Samuel French to produce the play but in a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing, another agent and the playwright had been negotiating with the Guthrie and ACT in San Francisco for an agreement that would guarantee the play’s Twin Cities premiere at the big blue house.

“We had received a contract for the show, it was a done deal,” said Richard Cook, Park Square’s artistic director. “He [the Sam French agent] was commanded to officially yank the license.”

Guthrie Director Joe Dowling said it was one of those "bizarre situations. Inevitably, because the Guthrie is larger, the playwright wants it here because the royalties will be bigger."

The Guthrie and Park Square had a similar situation two years ago when Cook signaled an early interest in the play “Stick Fly,” which had Broadway all tingly. In that case, Cook thought he had exclusive talking rights with the playwright and her agent, while the publishing house was involved with another potential deal that would have involved the Guthrie and Penumbra. When the dust settled, Park Square produced “Stick Fly” last fall.

This time, it was obvious the Guthrie was going to get “Mr. Burns” and that might have been the end of the story. However, in conversations over the rights, Cook told Dowling that Park Square had once wanted the rights to “4,000 Miles,” a dramatic comedy by Amy Herzog. Again, the Guthrie had the rights and, Dowling said, the play was "definitely being considered for production."

But Dowling called Cook and offered to work together to transfer the rights to Park Square. So the St. Paul theater gets the Herzog play, which had been a Pulitzer finalist in 2013. On Monday, Cook signed Gary Gisselman to direct.

“Joe was wonderfully gracious,” Cook said.

 Dowling said the co-production with ACT-San Francisco will be part of the Guthrie season, expected to be announced next week. The plan is to put "Mr. Burns” on the proscenium stage.

Stinson talks about 'Mats shows, McKagan replacing him in Guns N' Roses

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: April 2, 2014 - 7:13 PM

Tommy Stinson with Guns N' Roses/ Star Tribune photo by Renee Jones Schneider

Tommy Stinson will have his own replacement – in Guns N’ Roses. And it’s the guy he replaced.

Duff McKagan, GNR’s bassist from 1985-93, will rejoin Axl Rose and pals for five GNR shows in South America this month while Stinson is playing with the Replacements at Coachella on April 11 and 18.

The Minneapolis-bred bassist, who has played with GNR since 1998, told Billboard.com:

"I had those Replacement shows come up the same time the (South American) tour came up, and it got to be a scheduling issue right out of the gate. I didn't want to [screw] anyone up in Guns by saying, 'Hey, I can't do this tour' or anything like that. Luckily someone was able to reach out to Duff and he was amenable to the idea and was into doing it. It's Duff being the kind of good sport he is, trying to help Axl (Rose) out. So I'm like, 'Thanks dude, for covering my ass on this one.' I think people are gonna be really stoked about it. It's gonna be fun for everyone."

Stinson will be back with GNR for a May 13 show in Columbus, Ohio.  

McKagan joined GNR onstage during three shows in 2010 and played with them in 2012 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Duff McKagan/ Associated Press

Duff McKagan/ Associated Press

As for future Replacements gigs beyond the two at Coachella and May 10 in Atlanta at the Shaky Knees Music Festival, Stinson told Billboard: "We're going to go out there and have fun and play our [bleeping] show and go from there. Anything at this point could happen. As long as we're having fun doing it, I think we [bleeping] do it for as long as we want. That's kind of our modus operandi right now -- go out and have fun and play our songs and make people happy and have a hoot. I'm just surprised people want it so much; it's a daunting prospect, but then again nobody's really expecting us to be anything better or worse than we were 20 years ago, so it's not really that big of a hurdle to jump over."

Mad King Thomas on (secret) home tour

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: March 27, 2014 - 9:51 AM


Mad King Thomas members, from left, Theresa Madaus, Tara King, Monica Thomas. Photo by Mad King Thomas.

While the idea of bringing into a performance into someone’s home is not a new one, it’s still a concept worth exploring. A house is not a controlled environment like a theater – there are no special lights or sets or a proscenium to separate the artists and audience. On the other hand, there are many more choices to make about how to interact with the environment (and not break anything or need to call the fire department).

For the daring Sage Award-winning performance trio of Mad King Thomas (Theresa Madaus, Tara King and Monica Thomas) a house is the perfect setting for their new project “The Narrator is Suspect,” a glimpse into each woman’s background.

The many ideas underlying the work are drawn from travels the three artists took last year to one another’s childhood abodes (King: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Madaus: Cody, Wyoming; and Thomas: Great Barrington, Massachusetts). The three Macalester College alumni met one another’s relatives and observed how their own interactions with family differed from those of friends and colleagues.

Dubbing the entire effort an “immersive home experience,” Mad King Thomas plans to explore the secret histories we all hold and how they are translated with the passage of time and the capacity of memory. Public performances are at an undisclosed home in south Minneapolis this weekend (there have been some private showings as well).

“The Narrator is Suspect” will take place March 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. Reservations are required, so RSVP to madkingthomas@gmail.com for a spot. Admission is $10-$20 (sliding scale). For further information go to www.madkingthomas.com.

Just in, these added shows:
Thursday, April 3 at 7:30pm in St. Paul
Friday, April 4 at 7pm in northeast Minneapolis
Friday, April 11 at 8pm in south Minneapolis



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