While an infomercial currently airing on late-night TV advertises the home-video resuscitation of the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, there's a simultaneous spin on the concept that doesn't involve the bimonthly delivery of Rat Pack corpses to your home. The format receives its new lease on life this Saturday, May 12, at the Parliament House, as the Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Community Center hosts a star-studded send-up of a very animated, very willing target: actor, activist, playwright and FM movie critic Michael Wanzie.
The Wanzie gala is the first in a planned series of roasts that will raise funds for the GLBCC. Good luck finding subsequent guests of honor who will be as worthy of "tribute" as Saturday's subject, a cultural provocateur who always shoots to shrill -- excuse me, kill. His panel of friendly accusers includes Doug Ba'aser, Wanzie's longtime performing partner; Tom Dyer, publisher of Central Florida gay newspaper Watermark; and Elaine Ewen, the president of Wanzie's fan club. ("Probably the only member, too," kids Spencer Osborne, the event's producer.) For no reason that should make sufficient sense to anyone, I'll be at the dais as well. Orange County Commissioner Patty Sheehan and "Monsters of the Mid-day" trailer queen Savannah will appear on videotape. (I'd love to report that they're off shooting a movie together, but it just isn't true.)
Whatever his merits as a performer, reviewer or all-around fly in the ointment, Wanzie deserves credit for grabbing the bull by the horns and compiling his own list of suggested panelists. "He gave us a list of people who like him and people who sometimes have issues with him," Osborne says. Better knock out a wall: That description encompasses everyone living in the Orlando area.
This movie's a Bomb
Three interns on loan from Haxan Films are currently on tour with the Hate Bombs, capturing for posterity the venerable rock quartet's "farewell tour" of the U.S. and Canada. All three members of the documentary crew are graduates of the University of Central Florida film program; one, Mike Marshall, is a former cameraman for ABC-TV's "Making the Band." The concert footage, interviews and supplementary foolishness they accumulate will be transferred to VHS and packaged with a live CD in a boxed set to be titled (what else?) "Breaking the Band." Look for purchasing details on the group's official website, sometime after the sayonara trek winds to a close. (Final area dates are Friday, May 18, at Dante's Lunatic Lounge and Saturday, May 19, at the Kit Kat Club.)
The audio/video project took a nail-biting turn last week when Haxan office manager Carol Benante -- who's also the wife of Bombs drummer Ken Chiodini -- received a message on her answering machine from a stranger who had found Chiodini's suitcase in a Vancouver parking garage. Was the cast of the in-progress rockumentary dead in a ditch somewhere? Nah, they had merely lost some of their belongings in a mini-riot that began with an on-stage punch-up between rowdy Canadians and the Bombs' tourmates, the Invisible Men. The brouhaha came to include various Bombs and members of the film crew, and ended with the ransacking of several tour vehicles. Hence the stray suitcase.
When he learned the whole, sad story, Haxan head honcho Gregg Hale was deeply upset -- that his interns hadn't captured the melee on digital video. And people call Lou Pearlman "Big Poppa"?
Kings of all media
Their original drama, "Irene Is a Cactus," was a hit at the recent Orlando International Fringe Festival, but rather than continue on their theatrical path, the creative principals of Trilemma Productions are concentrating on film for the time being. In late July, they'll begin shooting "Beatrice Groves," a short written by the group's Aaron Wiederspahn. The subject matter is a secret at this point, and the hoped-for participation of actress Heather Avery Clyde (one of Trilemma's artistic directors) is up in the air: She's been auditioning for Steven Spielberg's sci-fi thriller "Minority Report." After Groves is in the can, Trilemma will start work on a full-length feature, also penned by Wiederspahn.
One project that won't be coming to fruition is the Fringe Festival documentary Trilemma was helping to coordinate for Florida Media Arts (FMA), a new nonprofit group devoted to the promotion of local theater and film. The doc would have tracked "Cactus" and a few other Fringe shows from rehearsal to performance; the idea reportedly died when FMA was unable to secure the needed funding.
Pimp on the barbie
One of the most unexpected success stories at this year's Fringe was playwright/performer Dave McConnell's rise from the ranks of the unknown to earn widespread acclaim for "Street Seuzz," his original consolidation of children's literature and urban wisdom. McConnell's emerging talent shines again this Friday and Saturday at iMPACTE! Productions, where two performances of "Street Seuzz" highlight the venue's ongoing "Best of Fringe" refresher series. But McConnell's ambitions stretch far beyond Semoran Boulevard: According to his producer, Savino Bellini, he's looking into the possibility of taking the show on an Australian tour. God knows what the Aussies will make of it, but having them scratch their heads and wonder just what it means for a South O.B.T. miscreant to be "popped by a lesbian cop" seems proper retribution for sending us Paul Hogan again.
As the egg rolls
Though they were asked to reprise their "Asian Sings the Blues" revue at iMPACTE!, The Oops Guys are instead preparing a presentation package that may introduce their act to a national audience. It seems that one of their Fringe performances of "Asian" was seen by a certain show-biz personality ("some people would know him from '70s and '80s sitcoms," hints songwriter Dennis Giacino) who offered to take their material to a friend at a televised sketch-comedy show. The Oopsters won't name their Good Samaritan nor the program in question, but other sources tell me it's "MAD TV," and that pleases me no end -- if only for the vision of Filipino fury Fiely Matias meeting "MAD's" incomprehensible nail-shop owner, Ms. Swan. Giacino and Matias will present their final local performances of "Asian" May 30 and 31 at the Parliament House, as one of this year's Gay Days celebrations. Most of the original cast will return, Giacino says, "but we may have a new fag hag." Turn, turn, turn ...