How a Philly Man’s Tweet Inspired That New Musical About Bill Murray, Wu-Tang Clan and Martin Shkreli

A musical based on a Philadelphia man's tweet involves Bill Murray, The Wu Tang Clan and Martin Shkreli

Bill Murray by Georges Biard, via CC BY-SA 3.0; RZA by MikaV via CC BY-SA 3.0, Tweet courtesy Rob Wesley.

The best Twitter account in Philadelphia is @eastwes. His account is so good, one of his tweets is becoming a musical.

This requires some ridiculous backstory, so strap in. About two years ago, hip-hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan announced it would sell just one copy of its new album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The double-CD album was sold at auction late last year to a secret bidder with explicit rules: It could be streamed or released for free, but couldn’t be commercially exploited until 2103.

A few months later, Bloomberg broke the bidder’s name: Martin Shkreli. Though he’d attracted controversy before, Shkreli was mostly unknown until he came to wide public attention months earlier when the New York Times reported his pharmaceutical company had purchased an old drug named Daraprim and raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750. “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this,” he told the Times.

Though it was a much less important situation, people may have been even angrier when they found out Shkreli bought the Wu-Tang album for a reported $2 million — especially after he threatened to destroy it. The news bounced around the Internet. And Rob Wesley (aka @eastwes) tweeted a joke. Read more »

Two Plays to See in NYC Over New Year’s

If you’re ringing in the New Year in New York, why not add some theater to your celebrations? Two comedies — one gay, one transgender — might be just the ticket. Both can be found off-Broadway, within a block of each other on 42nd Street, and both are in charmingly intimate venues that will make you feel almost part of the action. Best of all, they’re superbly performed, and will leave you with a smile (and, in the case of Hir, a lot to think about!).

Steve

Malcolm Gets, Jerry Dixon, Mario Cantone and Matt McGrath in "Steve" | Photo by Monique Carboni

Malcolm Gets, Jerry Dixon, Mario Cantone and Matt McGrath in “Steve” | Photo by Monique Carboni

Mark Gerrard’s play – a mostly humorous study of how quickly the comfortable lives of middle-aged adults can be disrupted – works hard to please the audience, and it does. The show is laced with funny one-liners, brightly paced by director Cynthia Nixon, and expertly performed by six fine comic actors, especially Matt McGrath and Mario Cantone. Ultimately, I found its affluent world too insular, but there’s plenty of humor and pathos. If you go, by all means get there early. There’s a captivating preshow concert of musical theater songs, lustily delivered by the cast. And make sure you stay for the deliciously sly curtain call, a mini-show in itself – it’s beguiling from start to finish, and you’ll want to sing along. (Full review here.)

Through January 3rd, New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street, thenewgroup.org.

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D.C., NYC Are Starting to Freak Out About the Pope’s Visit

pope freakout

We here in Philadelphia have been at it a while. Pope Francis was installed in March 2013. Immediately after, Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput said he was already writing a letter to invite the new pope to attend. Even before his election, Chaput had said the new pope would likely attend the World Meeting of Families.

We here in Philadelphia have been preparing for a Pope visit for a while. And, as such, we’ve been complaining about it for a while, too. The pope will also stop in New York and Washington, D.C., for smaller events before the big parades and Mark Wahlberg-hosted festival in Philadelphia. And these two cities are just starting to learn how much Pope Francis’ visit will disrupt their daily lives.

Yesterday, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the pope’s visit was “the largest security challenge the department and this city have ever faced.” Like in Philadelphia, lots of streets are being closed. And there is also an exhaustive list of prohibited items for the Pope’s visit. The Pope will be in New York from the night of the 24th to the morning of the 26th. Read more »

Bradley Cooper Gets His Own Sardi’s Caricature and It’s, Um, Very Pretty

Bradley Cooper joins the ranks of decades of celebrities who have been honored with a portrait that now hangs in Sardi’s Restaurant in Manhattan’s Theater District. The honor is akin to getting a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, but here your mug is at the mercy of a caricature artist. As one USA Today blogger points out, Cooper’s portrait “certainly resembles the Oscar- and Tony-nominated actor, but it also, um, looks like a woman. Maybe it’s the lip color and eyelashes?”

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Philly Biker Featured in Out Magazine Spread On New York Gay Bikers Club

gary philly out magazineThe latest issue of Out magazine features a photographic feature chronicling the members of New York City gay bikers organization Empire City Motorcycle Club (ECMC), the oldest ongoing gay all-riding organization in the nation.

Among the riders making an appearance is Philly’s Gary Philly (not his real last name), a member of local leather club Philadelphians MC, who became a full member of ECMC in a year ago this month. His involvement with the group began in 2012, when “I went to ride in the New York City Pride parade as a member of the Philadelphians MC. There I discovered an entire group of guys in a mandatory motorcycle-owning, riding club.”

Gary currently lives in Philly, which begs the question: Is being part of the club worth trucking up to New York on a regular basis? That’s a hike even if you do have motorcycle. But he says it’s the sense of togetherness that keeps him going back.

“It’s the brotherhood of the motorcycle riders in the club. We are a very close group, we support each other throughout the year on and off our motorcycles.”

Gary is the second Philadelphian in the past few months to make it in a national gay magazine. Last fall former G Philly cover model and local choreographer Gunnar Montana appeared on the cover of Instinct.

Check out Gary and the rest of his riding buddies in the Out article, here.

 

All Comcast Eyes on New York

Comcast-TodayIt looks like New York is going to drive a tough bargain if Comcast wants that state’s approval to complete a merger with Time Warner Cable.

We knew that already, but a Sunday editorial in the New York Daily News is urging state regulators there to drive an even harder bargain, noting that other capitals of world commerce — including Seoul, Hong Kong, and even Latvia — have better Internet speeds than what is typically available in New York City.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should demand better, the paper says.

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New York State Is Banning Fracking

In a policy decision that will no doubt be heard in Pennsylvania, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will ban fracking in the state. New York has had a de facto ban for several years, predating Cuomo’s administration.

Fracking in Pennsylvania is centered in the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from surrounding states into Western Pennsylvania and Northwestern New York. It was an issue in the governor’s race largely because of Tom Wolf’s push to tax fracking to fund schools.

Read more »

Ticket Sales Through the Roof For Bradley Cooper In Broadway’s The Elephant Man

bradley cooper

Bradley Cooper’s turn as the severely deformed John Merrick in the current Broadway production of The Elephant Man is only in previews, but sources are reporting that he’s already pulling in some big-time mula for “The Great White Way.” More from AP:

Broadway’s overall box offices are doing swell business these days, and it’s mainly thanks to two leading men—Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper.

Jackman is starring in “The River.” Cooper is in “The Elephant Man.” They’re still in previews but have become some of the hottest tickets in town.

Jackman pulled in $917,000 at the Circle in the Square over eight shows last week, a sellout performance with the average ticket going for $160. Cooper attracted $520,000 for just four sold-out shows. His show’s average ticket came in a hair more at $163.

The Broadway League’s numbers show last week’s total Broadway haul from its 35 shows was $27.6 million, or $2 million more than the same week last season and about $4 million than last week.

The Elephant Man officially opens on December 7th at New York’s Booth Theatre for a 14-week run. Get tickets here.

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