ICAN'T listen to too much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland," said the perspicacious Woody Allen. (Just had to use that, although it has nothing to do with what follows except it's about music.)
I am one of those old softies who did and still do love Motown! Now, coming on Nov. 13, Boyz II Men, one of the most successful R&B; groups of all time, will return as a threesome - Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman - with a new CD called Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA.
Motown returns these guys to the limelight, features songs that turned us all on in the past and even includes a track produced by Brian McKnight. Stockman says, "We wanted to pay tribute to an era that had such a major influence on our sound. Everything on this Decca record was recorded live."
Grammy winner and American Idol judge Randy Jackson, who has worked with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, 'N Sync, Madonna, Elton John and Destiny's Child, produced the CD.
And I'm grateful to record king David Simone, who tipped me on to this.
Judy Kuhn created the role of Cosette in the long-running musical Les Miserables. This happened on Broadway 20 years ago. She'll return to this show on Oct. 23 to play Fantine, Cosette's mother.
You can also catch her at Joe's Pub, where she sings tributes to the late Laura Nyro through Oct. 27.
Speaking of Woody Allen, let me tell you about a coming movie that is the natural heir to Woody's misadventure films about life in Manhattan.
Some years ago I raved about Kissing Jessica Stein, the story dreamed up by the beautiful Jennifer Westfeldt as a starring vehicle for herself. (Nice girl gets tired of blind dating; decides to try being gay!)
That was hilarious, and now Ms. Westfeldt, has Ira and Abby, a gorgeously neurotic love story. Again, she wrote it herself. Ira and Abby, is about a depressed 12-years-in-therapy guy (Chris Messina) who can't make up his mind and is totally miserable. He meets a loopy, enthusiastic, joy-to-the-world, impulsive, enthusiastic, openhearted girl (Jennifer) who asks him suddenly if he wants to get married. They do!
The rest, including a histrionic breakup, is history, involving his upscale shrink parents (the excellents, I call them - Robert Klein and Judith Light) and her more or less innocent, post-flower children dad and mom (Fred Willard and Frances Conroy).
This very funny dysfunctional cast includes Jason Alexander and Maddie Corman as a jolly shrink and not-so-jolly-ex girlfriend.
Excellent movie! The appealing Ms. Westfeldt is a big, big talent, surely long overdue to really "happen." She has the touching vulnerability of that big yesteryear star Jean Arthur. She can act, she can write, she can produce, she will win your heart. I'll be interviewing this triple-threat soon. Her real-life boyfriend is none other than the leading man of the AMC hit Mad Men, Jon Hamm. So probably Jessica has a personal story to tell!