Tag Archives: Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris Talks Theater Works, OVO

Neil Patrick Harris might have more than enough to keep him busy with his “How I Met Your Mother” chores and one-year-old twins at home, but he’s not neglecting the theater facet of his career. “I have a couple of things — Accomplice: Hollywood and Accomplice: New York are continuing,” he says of his inventive show-game-tour productions that involve audience members traipsing from place to place around city streets to see the action unfold. “We’re re-opening  Accomplice: London. And Guy Hollingworth’s show, Expert at the Card Table  may rear its head again, so I’m around.” The latter, one-man play starring the acclaimed British magician premiered in Santa Monica last year under Harris’ direction.

Neil Patrick Harris

It was in Santa Monica that we caught up with Neil the other night, when he and man in life David Burtka were among the luminaries on hand for the opening of Cirque du Soliel’s OVO  show. Also there: Hilary Swank, Jessica Chastain, Heather Graham, Ali Landry and Patrick Warburton. “I’ve seen OVO  twice already so I know it to be a great show,” said Neil, a Cirque devotee. “It’s more family-friendly than many of their other shows. Sometimes they’re very esoteric and general in a wonderful, modern art kind of way. I think that OVO  is very specific. You’re in with the bugs. You’re hanging out with the critters and watching them do amazing things. The costumes are great.” Plus, the fanciful insect “critters” are in comparatively close proximity to the audience, thanks to the Grand Chapiteau layout, which he likes. “I’m a big fan of immersive theater right now,” he says, “so I like the tents the same way.”

Stars Out for Cirque du Soliel’s Dazzling New ‘Iris: A Journey Through the World of Cinema’

 The stars turned out in a major way last night for the premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s electrifying new show, Iris: a Journey Through the World of Cinema, at the famous Kodak Theatre.  Among the attendees were Matthew McConaughey, Patrick Dempsey, Kate Beckinsale, Cindy Crawford, James Gandolfini, Christina Hendricks, Kevin Dillon, Vanessa Hudgens (in a breathtakingly low-cut Boho gown), and Neil Patrick Harris. 

“It’s ammazing!” tweeted Neil.  “If you come to Hollywood, it is a MUST SEE!  The best show in years!”

 Exactly.  Iris delivered on the anticipation and reported $100 million investment that preceded it ($40 million to renovate the Academy Awards’ home theater for the show, $60 million for the production itself).  It was nothing short of a fantastical dream come to life, as sirens, sylphs, cops ‘n’ gangsters, contortionists and aerialists spun, flew, tumbled, trampolined and danced through a procenium that was part steam punk, part “Le Voyage dans la lune” and all Cirque du Soliel.  All that, Danny Elfman’s magical score, cutting-edge visual effects and a dash of comedy, had the audience on its feet cheering. 

The show was followed by a chic block party — with Hollywood Boulevard blocked off and tented for the event, and with a ferris wheel at one end that was lit like a gigantic film reel.  Guests, who were asked to dress “Cirque chic,” largely delivered.  Servers offered champagne for all, and other libations flowed, as bars were set up in various locales, and there was an ice wall of cubbies filled with sipping size bottles of Neige Canadian apple ice wine.  Local restaurateurs provided samples of goumet fare.  The black truffle risotto from Twist was a favorite. 

Christina Hendricks, Geoffrey Arend

Harris and his man in life, David Burtka, were chatting about what a fabulous show it was with “Mad Men’s” Christina Hendricks and her husband, “Body of Proof’s” Geoffrey Arend, as they relaxed in the VIP area of the street soiree.  

 As a Cirque character exhorted the audience at the show’s beginning, this was a time to forget all one’s worries and enter another world.

The Best — and Worst — Celebrity Tweeters

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris

Which celebrities are the best — and worst — at using Twitter?

“Neil Patrick Harris has done a spectacular job. He’s using Twitter in such a wonderfully subtle way,” says Peter Shankman, a man who knows. Shankman has 100,000-plus internet followers via HARO, the mega network he created, HelpAReporter.com, and he is most certainly at the forefront of the social networking phenomenon.

(Come to think of it, the other day on Twitter, NPH got us all excited again about “Accomplice: Hollywood,” the way cool alternate-reality live theatrical experience he’s currently got going on the streets of Hollywood, as a producer. Why, oh why, can’t Neil be the new “American Idol” judge when Simon leaves, not icky Howard Stern?… But, we digress….)

“You know the reason celebrities have publicists is not so they can speak, but to shut them up,” Shankman wryly states. “Twitter has shown us how easy it is for celebrities to get drunk and say something stupid and make fools of themselves. It’s also shown us those who do a really good job of posting things — very funny things, edgy things, subtly promotional things. They’re not taking pictures of themselves topless and posting them like Lindsay Lohan.” Talk about a Twitpic.

Shankman also names director/choreographer/ producer Adam Shankman — “same name, no relation” — as an able Twitterer. And, not surprisingly, Ashton Kutcher. “He and Demi Moore did something very funny a couple of weeks ago. They were deciding what to have for dinner by writing on their arms and taking pictures and posting them.”

On the other hand, as Twitter followers know all too well, there are those who are already wearing out their welcome with mindless, disjointed chatter.

“There is this concept of oversharing. Way too many people overshare,” Shankman believes. “But the beauty of it is, people will only follow you if they’re interested in what you’re sharing, so it’s going to become harder and harder to overshare.”

Also, “We’re starting to see people who are taking payments from sponsors to Tweet,” Shankman adds. But those who are too blatantly trying to use Twitter for advertising may find themselves quickly dropped by followers, including him.

How did he get all his followers? “I wish I knew, because God knows it’s not about my looks,” insists the triathlete and skydiver, obviously not wanting to give away his secrets. Of course, his HARO site offers an ingenious service, bringing together media people who need expert information, and experts who need media exposure.

Of his personal messages, be they Tweets or Status Updates, he says, “I always add value for people to enjoy.” Indeed, Shankman’s missives are filled with funny bits and pieces of wisdom. “It’s not what people can do for you, it’s what you can do for people,” he says.

And, you want your words to carry from follower to follower to follower. As he notes, “The value of Twitter lies in the reTweet.”

Vartan Wants Hiatus Movie Jobs, Will Settle for Dog’s Life

With “Hawthorne” about to wrap production for its first season, Michael Vartan says he’s hoping to fill the TNT show’s eight or nine month hiatus period with movie work.  “One would be fine.  Three would be great.  Or I’ll have down time playing with my dog and watching sports.  Either way it’s a win-win.  I’m a lucky S.O.B.,” declares the handsome actor.

Michael Vartan in "Hawthrone"

Michael Vartan in "Hawthrone"

He’s also planning to “return to my adopted homeland of Australia – my favorite place on earth.  I’ll definitely be spending time there over hiatus.  For the last five years, I’ve been trying to go once, if not twice a year.  I did a movie there four or five years ago.  I’d love to have a little place there at some point, to go and relax.  I love it.  It’s the anti-Hollywood place,” opines Vartan.  As for where he’ll establish his Down Under getaway, he says he has “nothing specific” in mind so far.

Meanwhile, he points out, “I’m one of those actors who understand how difficult it is to find good work in this business.  Having a show like ‘HawthoRNe’ that you feel proud of to go back to in its second season – hopefully — is a wonderful thing,” he says of the well-received Jada Pinkett Smith medical drama that’s earned very healthy ratings so far.

“It’s a great job.  We have long hours, but I was on ‘Alias’ for five years.  That was a great fun show to work on but the hours on that truly were brutal.  On top of the acting scenes, there were stunts, helicopters, fights.  There were almost always 16 to 18-hour days on that one.  This one has 12 to 15-hour days.  That’s not too bad,” says Vartan.

He adds that “Everyone’s really down to earth and relaxed.  As an added bonus, as far as the production goes, the people in charge are really, really nice.  Some of the producers I’ve worked with in the past haven’t been the most tactful in the world.  With this, Jada’s surrounded herself with people she likes and trusts, who are cooperative and creative.”

A NEW CHAPTER:  “I’m writing a book right now and I’m tending to my social life in a way you can’t do when you’re touring,” says musician Alanis Morissette, who’s taking a small break from music and also guest starring on Showtime’s “Weeds.”

The book is something the singer has been working on for quite some time, and while it will be revealing, she tells us it won’t give away too much.  “I don’t call it a memoir because I’m too bored with my own personal life story to even write it.  It should be read in a linear way so it will be very conversational, but it will touch on all of the things I’m obsessed with – self care, women’s issues, health issues, relationship issues,” explains Morissette.  “There will be great photographs from traveling all over the planet so many times.  There will certainly be personal insight with Q&A’s but it won’t be a memoir, no.”

INSTANT PRODUCTIONNeil Patrick Harris, who delivers a very nice solo in the “Prop. 8: The Musical” Funny Or Die video that hit the internet and went viral last fall, says he’s absolutely open to doing more work with the assemblage of talent that came together to make it, including composer Marc Shaiman and director Adam Shankman.  “Those things happen so quickly and so randomly,” he says.  “I got the call from Adam Shankman, and he asked, ‘What are you doing on Thursday?’  That’s how fast those guys worked.”  The satirical piece – also starring Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph and others – won a Webby award this past Spring.

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW:  “Who would have thought it would have gone on this long?” says Tom Lennon about his popular Comedy Central series “Reno 911!” which is currently in its sixth season.  Part of the reason it works, he notes, is because many of the cast members have been friends for yours and genuinely enjoy working with each other.  “Kerri (Kenney-Silver), Ben (Garant), and I have basically been doing this kind of stuff together since we were 18.”  The three of them began performing improv together at New York University where they were part of the group The State.

“We legitimately crack each other up,” Lennon tells us. “We sit around in some dingy room thinking of horrible scenarios.  We don’t really know anything else other than sitting around with each other and trying to think of awkward, uncomfortable situations that we can put each other in.”  At this point he feels like their comedy has become one in the same.  “You do tend to get in sync.  Sometimes we write the same exact jokes as each other.  Ben and I do that a lot.  We’ll go away and write a scene and when we come back it’s like identical to what the other one wrote.  I think they call it twin speak.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

Hollywood’s putting anti-Prop. 8 feelings on display

Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin

Their state may have voted against same-sex marriages, and their state supreme court may have ruled to uphold California’s Prop. 8 ban, but Hollywood very clearly does not agree — and you can expect to be seeing many more illustrations of that fact.

Kathy Griffin‘s “My Life on the D List,” which begins its fifth season on Bravo June 8, has already filmed “a Prop. 8 episode,” Griffin recently told us. “We went to Iraq a couple of years ago. We went to Walter Reed (Army Hospital) last season. This is our serious episode for this season. We’re really proud of it.” Besides filming at an anti-Prop 8 rally, “D List” has “Rev. Al Sharpton, who “laid out the greatest civil rights argument for gay marriage,” according to Griffin.

Griffin wasted no time responding to the court’s decision, issuing a statement that she would not only be protesting, but that “My 89-year-old mother has asked me to get her a wheelchair to take her to a protest … She is neither gay, nor the parent of a gay person, but she is as passionate about this decision as I am.”

The cast and creative team on Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘ “New Adventures of Old Christine” have been anxiously awaiting this week’s decision by the California Supreme Court — “a decision that’s an issue to us both behind the scenes and in front of the camera on our show,” as costar Clark Gregg pointed out.

Wanda Sykes, who came out as a lesbian and got married to her partner last year, is among the 18,000 gay Californians whose same-sex unions have been ruled valid (along with such show business notables as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and George Takei and Brad Altman.)

The state Supreme Court also just handed the “New Adventures of Old Christine” writers a twist to the ongoing storyline that has Louis-Dreyfus’s and Sykes’ characters on the show in a green card marriage. Since the characters are both straight, this can’t help but underscore the farcical aspect of the court’s decision — a subtlety that fits the series’ style. Clark stressed that “Old Christine” has never gone the rout of “becoming a public service announcement,” and added, “What I admire about (creator) Kari Lizer and the writing staff is that they wade into uncomfortable waters — going back to Julia’s effort to get a black family into her son’s school, only to have the father turn out to be a raging homophobe.”

And you can be sure that lines and scenes dealing with Prop. 8, if not full story lines, are being scripted even as you read this. “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris, who is not married to the man with whom he shares his life, David Burtka, but is an outspoken proponent of gay marriage, summed up the feelings of many when he told this column, “It’s wrong to try and squelch love. It’s pure and simple discrimination.”

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: “It was great the way Season 4 ended because there are a lot of things we’re going to have to sort out and clarify,” says Mexican actor Demián Bichir, who will return June 8 in the fifth season of “Weeds” as the corrupt mayor of Tijuana. He is also the onscreen love interest of the show’s star Mary-Louise Parker, and when things ended last season, Parker’s character Nancy had informed him that she is pregnant with his child.

“Whatever is in Nancy’s mind, that’s going to have to be proven first,” says Bichir of the story line, but before we know for sure if she’s having his baby, he tells us we will definitely see a change in his ruthless character. “Now that there’s a possibility of a child on the way, that’s going to change a lot of things and maybe bring Esteban to a different state of mind. Hopefully he will be able to show not only his more sensitive side, but also many other sides without killing anyone.” Hopefully.

One good part of the pending pregnancy is that music superstar Alanis Morissette has signed on for seven episodes to play Nancy’s obstetrician, and Bichir admits the cast couldn’t be more excited. “I haven’t had a chance to meet her, but I think it’s fantastic to have her on board. I’m not sure if there will be some interaction with our two characters, but, regardless, it will be interesting to meet someone whose music you admire so much.”

TOGETHER AGAIN: A July 6 production start has been set for “Going the Distance,” which might just end up being an appropriate description of stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. You may recall the couple were quite into each other while making “He’s Just Not That Into You,” then split up last summer after a year, then seemed to be on again (hand-holding, acting affectionate and telling reporters they adored each other at the “Grey Gardens” premiere in April, for instance).

In “Going the Distance” they play a couple who decide to try making a go of a long-distance relationship, with both their characters having dream careers at stake on opposite coasts of the country — a familiar show business situation. It’s a comedy. Drew says that Justin makes her laugh.

JUMPING IN: Sarah Chalke, who stars in Lifetime’s two-night adaptation of Gigi Levangie Grazer‘s “Maneater” this Saturday and Sunday (5/30 and 5/31), says that the biggest challenge in making the miniseries was “how dense it was in terms of production and just being in every scene. It was a really fast turn-around.” The tale of a gold digger determined to marry a rich and successful Hollywood power player before she hits Botox age has the “Scrubs” actress in scenes ranging from zany physical humor (as in a dance sequence in which her very pregnant character is onstage with a group of seniors) to drama (when her character gives birth).

What helped was that the production — which also stars Gregory Harrison, Maria Conchita Alonso, Judy Greer, Philip Winchester, Marla Sokoloff and Paul Leyden — shot on location. “It was so intense, hours-wise, it was nice to be somewhere else and not have to deal with everyday stuff in your life,” she says.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster