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Posts about Television

Charles Keating had a long association with the Guthrie

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: August 12, 2014 - 1:50 PM

Veteran actor Charles Keating, whose roots extended to the early years of the Guthrie Theater, has died at 72. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer three year ago.

Keating is best known to the wider universe as a soap opera star, particularly for his superbly oily lothario Carl Hutchins on “Another World.” He was nominated for an Emmy in 1996 for his work as Carl. He also performed on “All My Children” and “As the Word Turns.”

But long before he was a daytime villain, Keating trained with Sir Tyrone Guthrie in Minneapolis. He appeared in “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” and “The House of Atreus.” He returned to Minneapolis in the past 15 years as Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” and as Scrooge (at right in Michal Daniel's photo) in the 2004 production of “A Christmas Carol.” His performance in that role was considered the best in Twin Cities theater that year by Star Tribune critics – an estimable achievement given how familiar the character is.

He also played a key role when Joe Dowling staged Brian Friel’s “The Home Place” on the Guthrie proscenium. In 2007, he brought a solo show, “I and I, about aging and the self, to the Guthrie studio.

“Charles Keating was a quintessential actor’s actor,” said Dowling, the Guthrie director. “Mercurial, flamboyant, highly intuitive and with a deep and rich voice. He was a joy to work with and brought his great intelligence and his inquiring mind to every role he played.”

His film credits included "The Thomas Crown Affair," and "The Bodyguard." In addition to the soaps, he did TV with "Alias," "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules." And on stage, he was Tony nominated for a revival of “Loot” in 1986.

Keating, London born, was married 50 years and died at his home in Connecticut. His wife, Mary, and two sons survive.

TV critic Neal Justin: Memories of Robin Williams

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: August 12, 2014 - 11:03 AM

Robin Williams/ AP photo

I won't pretend for a nano-second that I really knew Robin Williams, although our paths crossed a few times.

The last occasion was this past January during a visit to the set of "The Crazy Ones," a sitcom unjustly cancelled by CBS after just one season.

I noted at the time that the comic genius seemed more at rest than he had previously when he could often suck up all the oxygen in the room with his manic energy. He said something telling that January afternoon that may go a long way in explaining the demons he was battling:

"It's not a contest, but it is a joy. You get a laugh, you go, 'Yeah, I'm OK now.' Sometimes it works and other times, no. Then it becomes very sad for a moment. The desperate comic boy comes out."

I also had the pleasure of seeing Williams in 2008 when he did three shows at the intimate Acme Comedy Co., in prepartion for a HBO special in Las Vegas. I was seated in the front row, which made me and my companions the all-too-willing targets of his improv humor.

In 2009, while he was promoting that HBO concert, he told me he had fond memories of his time in the Twin Cities:

"I was enjoying playing a place that was literate, where you could make references to Shakespeare's newest work, 'So That's the Way You Like It,' and have people go, 'I got it. Thanks.'"

In that same interview, Williams delivered one of his best lines as he talked about his recent heart operation:

"It was interesting that I had the surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. And I woke up, going , 'Where am I?' And they said, 'Cleveland.' And I kept going, 'Why?'"

Sadly, Williams time at Hazelden earlier this summer wasn't as successful at healing him.

He leaves us with a great legacy, work both celebrated and underappreciated. Here are 10 contributions that will stick with me:

"An Evening With Robin Williams" (1982): Williams' legacy begins and ends with stand-up. If you've never seen his entire, exhausting act, start with this HBO special taped in his beloved San Francisco.

"The World According to Garp" (1982): He would go on to make better movies, but this was the first that made us sit up straight and realize that Williams could do more than just vomit out one-liners. He's quite touching as John Irving's ultimate protagonist.

"Comic Relief" (1986): I'm deliberately leaving "Mork & Mindy" off the this list. While it served as a great showcase for Williams' fast-paced talent, it was actually a less-than-average sitcom that almost always spun out of control. Williams' greatest gift to television was "Comic Relief," the long-running telethon he hosted with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg that helped raise $80 million for America's homeless. The trio dug deep into their Rolodexes to bring together the best and brightest in the comedy. Williams gave constantly to various charities, including the LiveStrong Foundation and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 

"Dead Poets Society" (1989): Seize the day, indeed.

"The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1992): Everyone remembers that Carson's last night with guests included Bette Midler singing "One For My Baby" through tears. But let's not forget the evening's other guest was Williams. The fact that the King of Late Night selected him for that penultimate show speaks volumes.

"Aladdin" (1992): There was talk that Williams should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his voice contributions to this animated classic. Hard to remember that when he signed up, big-name actors didn't do cartoons. That soon changed.

"Homicide: Life on the Street" (1994): Much has been made of Williams' ability to throw out the jokebook and tackle dramatic work. Three years prior to winning an Oscar for "Good Will Hunting," he played a tourist on this critically acclaimed crime series who goes through grief and anger when his wife is murdered. It remains one of Williams' most devastating performances.

"Good Will Hunting" (1997): His role as a loner shrink who tries to break through Matt Damon's shell could have been unbearable, but Williams managed to sidestep every cliche and collect his well-deserved Oscar.

"Blame Canada" (2000): Williams had nothing to do with "South Park: The Movie," but he was the ideal candidate to perform the film's centerpiece number when it was nominated for an Academy Award. It's a vigorous performance that pretty much stole the show.

"Louie" (2012): WIlliams played himself in a super-short, strangely sentimental story about he and Louie CK being the only ones to show up to the funeral of a despised comedy-club owner. To honor the man, they decide to visit his favorite strip club where they learn some startling things about the deceased. It's not Williams' best work, but it's the one that keeps rolling around in my head.

Vincent Kartheiser got married

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: August 6, 2014 - 5:31 PM

Then-affianced actors Alexis Bledel and Vincent Kartheiser attended the Guthrie Theater's 50th anniversary gala last summer. Photo by Anna Reed.

Steady, girls: Word is that Pete Campbell's finally, officially off the market. People magazine reports getting confirmation that Minneapolis-raised actor Vincent Kartheiser, who plays the smarmy, hapless account exec on "Mad Men," got quietly hitched to his fiancee Alexis Bledel, best known for playing Rory on "The Gilmore Girls," in California in June. The two met when Bledel guest-starred as an adulterous lover of Pete's who forgets who he is after electroshock therapy, and got engaged in early 2013. Kartheiser returned home for a few months last year to play Darcy in the Guthrie Theater's "Pride and Prejudice" (read a profile and the review).

 Here's a peek at the tiny-but-cool Hollywood bachelor pad he recently put on the market at just $808,000.

New movie channel debuts in Twin Cities

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: July 1, 2014 - 11:51 AM

Movie lovers: There's a new player in town.

Starting Tuesday, Get TV is available on WUCW, 23.2. The channel, which launched nationwide in February, offers pre-70s classic movies like 'The Talk of the Town," "From Here to Eternity" and "Suddenly."

The channel is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Twin Cities joined the family Tuesday morning,along with Oklahoma City and Madison. The channel is currently in roughly 35 markets.

Neal Justin: 'Fargo' is one of best TV series ever

Posted by: Neal Justin Updated: June 17, 2014 - 5:17 PM

 When FX announced it was going to produce a new version of "Fargo," I had my doubts.

TV shows based on beloved movies usually belong in the woodchipper. In fact, an earlier attempt starring Edie Falco never saw the light of day. Plus, the show was being created by Noah Hawley, whose previous credits include writing for "Bones" and cooking a mean lasagna. Why the heck did this fella think he could be the third Coen brother?

So you could have knocked me over with a snowflake when I took in the final product. Not only is the mini-series the front runner to take home an Emmy; it just may be one of the most engaging, brilliantly acted, unpredictable products ever seen on TV.

Last night's finale was thoroughly satisfying as both Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton, pictured) and Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) get what was coming to them. Watching Nygaard turn into Heisenberg's little brother was both hilarious and harrowing, a perfect protagonist in the Coen World. The expression on his face when he literally was treading on thin ice should also make him an Emmy front runner.

Not everything was perfect. Some characters, like Oliver Platt's Stravos Milos, disappeared into the ether. Colin Hanks' accent was more Canadian than Minnesotan. And having Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) suddenly turn into a damsel-in-distress in the last reel didn't quite gel with the rest of her arc.

Nitpicks, all.

This should be the model for more programs down the line: A limited series with a tidy ending that doesn't leave us hanging.One writer responsible for almost every line of dialogue. Great actors who don't feel bogged down by a series that could have them handcuffed for five years.

Let's also give the directors and cinematographers credit for capturing the look of northern Minnesota. Sure, it would have been nice if they actually had filmed here, but the Canadian landscape was such a convincing fill-in, I could practically see Bemidji's Sanford Center in the distance.

Now the big question: Will "Fargo" come back? Or more pointedly, SHOULD it come back?

Hawley has said that if FX picks it up, which it hasn't done yet, the next season will take place in a different city with different characters. Not sure I can take him at his word. He also told us that the TV series has no connection to the movie, which was clearly not the case. (Pointing out the references to the film as well as other Coens' projects was part of the fun). I sure wouldn't mind spending more time on the couch with Molly and Gus, the sweethearts of the season.

But maybe we should leave well enough alone.

It's hard to imagine Hawley being able to match these past 10 episodes. Then again, he's already overcome my initial pessimism. Maybe he can do it again.

Perhaps there are some roads you DO go down.

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