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STAR TREK INSURRECTION
The Las Vegas Strip was invaded by Trekkies, who congregated outside Bally's Hotel last
Thursday evening, hoping to get a glimpse of their Star Trek heroes making their way up a red
carpet to attend the world premiere of Star Trek The Insurrection.
Producers selected the first Annual CineVegas film festival as the arena in which to showcase the
movie which opened to the public last Friday. Insurrection is the best of the series with
cutting edge special effects.
Patrick Stewart, who received both producers' credit and $12 million, reprises his role as Capt.
Jean-Luc Picard, the tea-tottler who guides the Starship Enterprise. This time it's an alien race
that tries to take over a planet that holds the secret to immortality.
Stewart came perilously close to losing his mortality in a recent Broadway theater mishap
that gashed open his follicley challenged head. The actor had the last of the stitches removed from
his pate only a couple of days before flying to Las Vegas.
Stewart had been starring in Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan at the Public
Theater in NYC. It's a dark comedy about a self-made millionaire Lyman Felt - played by Stewart
- turned bigamist who lies in a hospital bed having nearly died in an automobile accident, which
might have been a suicide attempt. The production was a double hitter - receiving both rave
reviews and an audience that clamored for more. That became the problem.
Stewart was asked to extend the play's run. He had to decline, meaning that the play would
close. It was the final performance. During the last five minutes of the play Stewart as Lyman Felt
lies in his hospital bed. The script calls for the lights to go dark. Just as the stage was pitched into
blackness something hard hit Stewart on the head.
Stewart admits the first thought that crossed his mind was "that I had been attacked by
someone in the cast because I wasn't available to extend the show." It soon became evident that
what had attacked Stewart was an object - which Stewart now refers to as Exhibit One - falling
from the grid.
Blood gushed from his huge open wound - a cut so severe that Stewart's pate wasn't protected
by the gray wig he wore in the play. Dazed, not realizing how badly hurt he was, Stewart's
first concern was to assure his fiancee, producer Wendy Neuss, and her parents who had
attended the final performance, that he was okay. Stewart insisted upon taking his bows - as
blood gushed from his head and his costume became blood soaked.
Finally convinced that he needed immediate medical attention, it wasn't until the shock wore off
that the veteran actor realized he could have been killed or permanently injured. His noggin
required both internal and external stitches.
His chrome dome healed nicely and the the actor, who is respected from Shakespeare devotees to
avid Trekkers, arrived in Las Vegas for the premiere. The December evening had a frosty chill.
Stewart's engaging personality warmed the crowd, many of whom had waited outside for three
hours, in hopes of catching a glimpse of a man that is considered a 58 year old sex symbol.
Commenting on Insurrection Stewart said; "This is much lighter, more fun, almost like it
was doing the television series," related the actor who appeared in 179 episodes of TV's Star
Trek The Next Generation.
"It's fast, funny and sexy," continued Stewart about Insurrection. The talented actor
admits that he's not above experiencing envy."I can't wait for the next Star Wars movie The
Phantom Menace," which opens in May. My only problem is that I'm jealous as hell that I'm
not in it."
F. Murray Abraham
Arriving in Vegas with Stewart for the world premiere were his movie mates. F. Murray
Abraham carted home the 1984 Best Supporting Oscar for his portrayal of Salieri, Mozart's
insanely jealous rival in Amadeus. Abraham beat out Al Pacino among others for the role.
In accepting the Oscar he told the world that he was going home to make love to his wife -
paused and then commented that he hoped it would be the first time she had ever made love to an
Oscar winner. He got out of bed and into years of serious theatrical roles. Stewart lured him on
board as the evil Ru'afo, who attempts to oust the Ba'ku from their homeland planet.
Thursday's event marked only the third time that the acclaimed actor and his wife, Katherine, had
visited Las Vegas, since they were married at the Little White Chapel almost 40 years ago.
While most people associate the Texas born Abraham with high brow New York theatre during
his Before Oscar years he worked as a waiter, a department store Santa Claus then landed some
commercials. He was in one for Fruit of the Loom underwear - he played a leaf. If he wasn't an
actor Abraham says he would have been a valet parking attendant - "a previous career in which I
excelled." Fortunately for Stewart and Star Trek fans, Abraham never gave up acting.
Also on board Insurrection is two time Tony Award winner Donna Murphy is Anij, a
300 year old ageless beauty. She has a close encounter of the personal kind with Picard.
Next Generation regular Brent Spiner returns as the android Data. The personable Brent
Spiner looked more like a handsome human being, abet a wind blown one, as he attempted to
enter the hotel.
Fans and the press tried to get him to divulge details of the movie's
"I don't want to spoil it for anyone," pleaded the actor who recently starred in the wonderful
Broadway revival of 1776.
Brent Spiner in 1776
Marina Sirtis who reprises her role as Deanna Troi, the tactile ship's counselor, braved the cold
night air in a beautiful gown. She kept refusing to cover up explaining, "I'm just stupid and vain. I
want to wear my best dress without a coat."
Gates McFaden who plays Dr. Beverly Crusher and her co-star Michael Dorn, who plays Lt.
Cmdr. Worf, kept warm by dancing down the red carpet.
Jonathan Frakes, who plays Commander Riker, directed Insurrection.
Stewart arrived in Las Vegas in good spirits. "I thought I was here to play blackjack," he quipped.
After the screening Stewart kidded, "I thought I might go to Caesars (Palace) in my captain's
uniform - something low-key and anonymous."
What the celebrities did after the world premiere was beam themselves towards the Star Trek
Experience at the Hilton Hotel where a post movie bash lasted until the wee hours.
At the above mentioned four day Cine Vegas Film Festival several documentaries were screened
including Stripped and Teased: Tales of Las Vegas Women by Amie Williams.
The movie maker was inspired to make the documentary thinking that strippers and prostitutes
were unhappy and exploited. Williams was appalled at billboards that feature women's breasts
and statues of showgirl backsides. She entered the film project assuming that the women who take
it off for pay were unhappy and exploited.
In her Stripped and Teased film she showcased nine real Las Vegas women - from a
casino executive to a Culinary union striker - counter the stereotypes in the Las Vegas premiere
of this documentary.
In making the film Williams discovered that the strippers and prostitutes she encountered in the
research and production of her creative effort were happy, high paid and exercised power.
While many may not agree with her conclusion, Williams came away from the project with an
enlightened perspective - that the women who take it off at the sight of a dollar sign possess an
enormous amount of power over other people and are well paid. They also appeared to be
Williams serves as CineVegas' programming vice president and introduced the 1998 festival's
Madonna, who has previously attended the awards, cancelled a week before this year's event.
Garth Brooks received the call asking him to fill her shoes. Instead, he filled out a trapeze harness.
"The scariest part was the very opening where you had to step off the catwalk into space. All you
try to think about is - Keep your gut in," Brooks confessed. Neither accustomed to nor liking the
trapeze idea was Andy Dick of News Radio. "Did you see it twist up?" he nervously asked
reporters regarding the harness which knotted up, creating Andy's anguish.
Hanson, who had failed to show last year because of illness, appeared this year - got up close
working the crowd, reaching across the barriers to shake the hands of their fans and to sign
Shania Twain, who received the Female Artist of the Year Award, wore a dress with a train that kept twisting - to no avail her assistants kept untangling the yardage - Shania
kept tripping over the train, at one point, almost toppling to the ground.
Managing to stay balanced on her towering heels was Australian soap star turned pop singer
Natalie Imbruglia. The diminutive star explained her stiletto heels: "They make me look taller."
Mariah Carey, who received some negative backlash after she criticized her former husband and
current boss, Tommy Mottola in a Barbara Walters' interview, waxed philosophically; "It could
have been worse."
Nonchalant that Madonna was missing was Courtney Love who reflected on
the Material Mom's absence: "Now we won't have to worry about the fashion thing." If she isn't
best buds with Madonna, she developed an instant bond with Garth Brooks.
together backstage after the show.
As to her own daughter, whose father is the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain following in her
parent's footsteps, Love snapped: "She's not gonna want to be a rock star. I'll lock her in the
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JOHN TRAVOLTA will receive the
Nortel Palm Springs International Film Festival's Charles A. Crain Career Achievement Award
during the festival's awards gala on Jan. 9.
Travolta will be lauded as "an icon of both
the American screen and consciousness" by festival executive director Craig Prater.
recipients include; Sylvester Stallone, Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon.
NEW COMEDY BY
Playwright Mario Fratti, author of Nine has unveiled his latest offering Passionate
Women at LaMaMa in NYC.
Fratti is a proliferate playwright, charming gentleman and fellow Outer Critics Circle member.
Born in Italy, a resident of New York since 1963, Fratti's plays characteristically take on realistic
subjects with a touch of Latin irony. In Passionate Women; A Comedy About Creativity and
Stealing a great film maker - think Fellini - has been stealing ideas all his life. Six passionate
women decide that to be a muse is to be exploited. They enact a bizarre revenge.
Tony Torn, the son of Rip Torn and Geraldine
Page; Yale Rep veteran Bebecca Nelson (holding camera); and Maria Cellario.
Fratti admits that he was inspired by his acquaintance with Fellini, whom he covered closely as a
journalist in the late 1950s.
The comedy combines a serious inquisition on the creative
recurring themes of all Fratti's plays: betrayal, jealousy and sexual politics.
Fratti has previously written another play based on Fellini - an adaptation of the film "8 1/2"- that
became the Broadway musical, Nine winning five Tony awards and eight Drama Desk
Fratti's plays which include The Cage,
The Victim, Che Guevara, and
Eleonora Duse have been performed in 19 languages in over 600 theaters.
Passionate Women has performances at La MaMa through Dec. 20. Directed by Joumana
Rizk with sets by Jim Schubert. Costume design by Quina Fonseca with video by James Rattazzi.
Lighting design under the direction of Howard Thies and Han Yong is charge of sound.
In addition to Tony Torn, Bebecca Nelson, and Maria Cellario cast members include; Holly
Care, who appeared in the Broadway production of Wilde's An Ideal Husband; Bruce
Katzman, Charmaine Lord, and Susan Wands.
ALAN KING remembers the days
when Vegas entertainment was ruled by the Rat Pack. Storyteller Alan King was a Vegas
mainstay. He is one of the very few performers (Frank Sinatra being another one) who
hotels acknowledge actually drew high rollers. If King was booked into a showroom the casino
bosses knew he'd bring money into their bank. It's been years since King has performed in Las
Vegas and from the looks of his schedule it appears that Broadway has won him over. The
entertainer has agreed to star in Ostrovsky, a musical by Cy Coleman with Gene Saks
directing. It's a great premise for King. Set in the New York Yiddish theater, King will play a
larger than life character who has affairs with young women to convince himself that he isn't
PETULA CLARK is wonderful -
as a talent and as a person. She stars in the 1995 Tony Award winning musical Sunset
Blvd opening December 22 at Travis Place, Houston.
MAGALI AMADEI can walk and
at the same time. The gorgeous Q Model Management cover girl who has caused viewers to -take
it off- in those sexy Schick razor commercials, is about to hit the footlights. She's snared the role
of Eglea in the off-Broadway play A Matter of Dispute at the Kraine Theater, NYC. The
beauty with acting ability began her modeling career at the age of 16. This isn't the first legit offer
to come her way. The picky lady has been turning down TV offers because she didn't want to get
typecast as a model playing a model. She refers to A Matter of Dispute as a surreal,
JULIE HARRIS AND CHARLES DURNING star in The Gin Game opening Dec. 15 at the Orpheum Theatre,
Phoenix, running through Dec 20.
TOM ARNOLD has periodically
reinvented himself. He seems to get better with each reincarnation. Now the writer/actor is taking
a step back in time - two hundred years before the Christian era, to star in A Funny Thing
Happened On The Way To The Forum. Arnold will play Pseudolus, the cheeky roman slave
in search of his freedom. Performances run from January 26-31 at the Bass Performance Hall. The
marvelous Tony Award winning production has starred the toga wearing Zero Mostel, Phil
Silvers, Nathan Lane and Whoopi Goldberg. Book by the late Burt Shvelove and Larry Gelbart
with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Next Column: December 21, 1998
Copyright: December 14, 1998. All Rights Reserved Reviews, Interviews, Commentary,
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