Chicago The Musical: Ten Things You Don’t Know About The Show

Chicago The Musical: Ten Things You Don’t Know About The Show

Chicago The Musical tickets

Thanks to the 2002 film and the proliferation of handheld video devices, you can literally watch Chicago The Musical anywhere, and at any time, you want.  Of course, the best way to see Chicago isn’t on a screen but in a theatre.  Currently, the production is running on Broadway collecting Chicago the Musical tickets at the famed Ambassador Theater.

If you don’t live near the Big Apple, or you can’t swing a trip to the Great White Way any time soon, you can always catch the touring production.  Chicago the Musical will be in Jackson, Mississippi on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6.  Lexington, Kentucky welcomes Chicago the Musical to the Lexington Opera House from Nov. 8 through Nov. 10.  Houston hosts a longer run of Chicago the Musical.  The production has been booked at H-town’s Hobby Center from Nov. 12 through Nov. 17.  Before the company takes a break for the holidays, Chicago the Musical can be enjoyed in Austin, Texas from Nov. 19 through Nov. 24.

Obviously, Chicago is a very popular show.  They don’t make movies out of musicals no one sees.  That being said, there’s still a lot about this musical people don’t know.  That’s why BSTLV has put together a list of ten things you don’t know about Chicago the Musical.  Even if you’ve seen the musical, or the movie, you’ll still want to read our list.  You can’t learn any of the following facts by merely listening to Roxie Hart or Velma Kelly.

Author Of Source Material Said No To Musical
The original Roxie Hart, Gwen Verdon, read Maurine Dallas Watkins’ play Chicago and then suggested to her husband, Bob Fosse, that he should adapt it into a musical.  Fosse asked Watkins for permission but she declined.  Watkins was a born-again Christian and thought her play, and any subsequent musical, would glorify unrighteous behavior.  Fosse finally got the rights to the play after Watkins died in 1969.  Chicago debuted on Broadway in 1975.

Liza Minnelli Saved Chicago
Chicago debuted on Broadway around the same time as A Chorus Line.  A Chorus Line bested Chicago at both the box office and the Tony Awards.  It hard to believe now but Chicago almost didn’t make it.  The show received poor reviews and audiences were put off by both its subject matter and its frequent breaking of the fourth wall.  The situation was made even bleaker when Gwen Verdon was forced to leave the show for a month to undergo throat surgery.  Just when it appeared that Chicago was going to close its doors for good, Liza Minnelli came aboard and took over the role of Roxie Hart (for the month Verdon was out).  Liza’s popularity was enough to elevate the show’s profile.  The rest as they say is history.

The Original Chicago Ran For Less Than 1,000 Shows
Chicago opened at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre) on June 3, 1975.  It ended its run on August 27, 1977 after 936 performances.  To put that in perspective, the current incarnation of Chicago—the revival running on Broadway—has (as of Oct. 27, 2013) notched 7,037 performances.  We’ve already mentioned that Gwen Verdon was the original Roxie (remember she was married to director and choreographer Bob Fosse), but we haven’t told you that the incomparable Chita Rivera played Velma Kelly.

“Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville” Became “Chicago: The Musical”
When Chicago debuted on the Great White Way it was officially titled “Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville.”  Each number was patterned after either a Vaudeville performer or a type of Vaudeville act.  When the show was revived producers dropped the Vaudeville stuff as well as the sets and elaborate costumes.  With a new book by David Thompson and new choreography by Ann Reinking (who also starred as Roxie), “Chicago: The Musical” was much more accessible to audiences.

There Are Other Venues Hosting Chicago The Musical
Chicago the Musical has enjoyed runs at three Broadway theatres: the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the Shubert Theatre, and the Ambassador Theatre.  In 2014, you can catch Chicago the Musical at Hamilton Place in Hamilton, Ontario on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11.  Chrysler Hall in Norfolk will serve up a run of Chicago the Musical from Valentine’s Day to Feb. 16.  The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida will be the site for two Chicago the Musical performances.  One on March 4 and the other on March 5.

Chicago The Musical Is A Record Setting Show
The revival of Chicago set a record for shortest amount of time a Broadway show needed to recuperate its costs.  Furthermore, Chicago the Musical is the longest running revival, and longest running American show, in the history of the Great White Way.  Overall, it’s Broadway’s third-longest running production behind The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.  The revival of Chicago won six Tony Awards which was a record until it was surpassed by a revival of South Pacific.

Chicago The Musical Is Just One Degree Removed From Seinfeld
At first glance, it would appear that Chicago the Musical and the sitcom Seinfeld have nothing in common.  If you dig a little deeper however you’ll realize that they are separated by just one degree.  In the original production, Barney Martin played Amos Hart.  Martin then went on to play Morty Seinfeld (Jerry’s dad).  Remember the Seinfeld character of J. Peterman?  He was Elaine’s boss.  Well, that character was played by John O’Hurley who is now portraying Billy Flynn in the national touring company.

Ann Reinking Starred In Both The Original And The Revival of Chicago
During the original production, Broadway legend Ann Reinking replaced Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart.  In 1996, she choreographed the revival of Chicago the Musical.  When producers couldn’t find an actress to play Roxie Hart, Reinking stepped in and took over the role.  Not only has Reinking played Roxie in both the original and the revival, but she also took over the lead role in A Chorus Line, Chicago’s nemesis.

Joel Gray Played Amos Hart In The Revival Of Chicago
Chicago was not the great Joel Gray’s first Kander and Ebb musical.  Gray was the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret.  That role earned him a Tony Award for Best Performance by A Featured Actor in a Musical.  During the late 1960s through the 1970s, Gray padded his resume with three Tony nominations for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in Musical.  In 1996, he played Amos Hart in the revival of Chicago.  He didn’t get any love from the Tony Awards but he did get a Drama Desk nomination.  Then in 2003, Gray originated the role of the Wizard of Oz in a little, old musical called Wicked.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Chicago: The Musical National Tour Continues In 2014
The National Touring Company of Chicago the Musical is taking the holidays off but that doesn’t mean they’re not coming back.  Chicago returns Jan. 7 for a five-day stay in Cleveland, Ohio.  From Jan. 14 through Jan. 19, Chicago the Musical delights fans in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The tour remains in Oklahoma.  From Jan. 21 to Jan. 26 Chicago the Musical sets up its tent in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the town’s PAC.  Finally, Chicago the Musical will call Denver home from March 18 through March 23.

By David B.

Red Sox vs. Patriots: Who Are You Going To Watch?

Red Sox vs. Patriots: Who Are You Going To Watch?

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Which sports team are you going to watch this weekend?  The Boston Red Sox or the New England Patriots?  The St. Louis Cardinals or the St. Louis Rams?  The Detroit Tigers or the Detroit Lions?  The Los Angeles Dodgers or the… Opps!  Sorry L.A.

Before you answer, let’s assume you can only watch one or the other.  And by “one” we mean “one sport” or the other.  Also, let’s pretend your DVR is broken, you can’t find your old VCR in your garage, and even if the games aren’t scheduled at the same time factors prevent you from watching both.  Under that byzantine caveat, which team, or better yet, which sport are you going to watch this weekend: the National Football League or Major League Baseball and their ALCS Playoffs and NLCS Playoffs?

We ask because with the NFL season in full swing, and World Series tickets about to be collected, North America’s two main sports leagues are battling one another in the cutthroat arena of television ratings.  And once again, the NFL is shellacking Major League Baseball.  To most sports fans it comes as no surprise but to others (i.e. hardcore baseball fans) it’s a bitter ballpark dog to swallow.

Sunday Night Sports
NBC’s Sunday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 13) drew nearly 20 million viewers.  Game 2 of the Tigers-Red Sox series attracted just over 8 million fans.    

That same baseball game garnered a 20.6 television rating in Boston.  Meanwhile, the Patriots victory over the New Orleans Saints drew a 35.1 television rating in Beantown.  The games didn’t run concurrent to one another.  The Pats played late in the afternoon.  The Red Sox played at night.  No matter how you parse it, a NFL regular season game was seen by more people than a MLB playoff game.

Red Sox & Patriots
This Sunday, the Patriots clash with rivals the New York Jets.  Meanwhile, depending on how the series pans out, Boston Red Sox fans will be able to buy tickets for ALCS games on Saturday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 20.  That last date is a coveted Game 7.

The Patriots, despite all their growing pains are the second best team in the AFC.  A sixth Super Bowl appearance of this century is not out of the question.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox are looking for their third World Series crown in nine years.  Winning this season’s Fall Classic would give the Red Sox sole claim to the title of “Team of the Century.”

“We’re Watching Baseball” (Sung To The Tune Of That Terry Cashman Song)
The television ratings don’t look good for MLB but their playoffs ratings are actually up.  TBS, one of MLB’s broadcast partners, was the most watched cable network five out of six nights during the week of the League Division Series.  Their two playoff games on Sunday captured three million more viewers than comparable games in 2012.  Overall, all the postseason games on TBS are up 5 percent from a year ago.  Clearly, when it comes to television, baseball is a popular sport.  It’s just not as popular as football.

Excuses
Every year at this time, when the NFL trounces baseball in television viewership, hardball geeks quickly take to the internet to make excuses for the “National Past-Its-Prime.”  Every year they present the same arguments.  But this year, we’re refuting their excuses.

One Game vs. Series
The first excuse baseball fans make for why their beloved sport annually loses the ratings war to regular season football games is that the NFL plays just once a week while the MLB postseason consists of prolonged series.  That argument works in the regular season but not in the playoffs.

Aren’t the playoffs the one time of the year where every baseball game is important?  Isn’t that the whole point of having a multiple-game series?  If a non-elimination game is “no big deal” then why play a “Best of (add number of games here)” at all?  The length of a MLB regular season should make their playoffs must-see-TV. 

If the Red Sox were to play the maximum number of games possible in this year’s postseason then they will have played 19 times.  An NFL regular season consists of just 16 games.  Baseball geeks fail to realize that playoffs game, even those that are part of a series, should always be more important than regular season games.

The NFL IS Nationwide, MLB Has “Big Local Appeal”
Another excuse baseball geeks make is that the NFL is nationwide while Major League Baseball has “big local appeal.”  Isn’t that the whole point of having a major league, to capture the imagination of the entire country?  Every league has “big local appeal.”  If they didn’t they’d be out of business.

For some reason, baseball fanatics think “big local appeal” is somehow better (nobler) for a sport than nationwide appeal.  In reality, they’re explaining why the NFL is America’s number one sport.  Regardless of what two football teams are throwing down the entire country will tune in to watch.  Also, as the television ratings from the last Patriots and Red Sox games prove, the NFL has a bigger local appeal.

Gamblers and Fantasy Geeks
Steve Melewski of MASN Sports postulated that many who watched the NFL, specifically that aforementioned Redskins-Cowboys contest, were gamblers and fantasy league participants.  Melewski picked the wrong teams to make his point as the Redskins and Cowboys are two of the league’s most popular clubs and they share a long and popular rivalry.

Without a doubt, gamblers and fantasy geeks lift NFL’s television ratings but not nearly as much as Melewski thinks.  That demographic may have accounted for a million or so viewers (at the most), but it certainly doesn’t account for the difference in viewership between Sunday Night Football and the Red Sox-Tigers Game 2. 

Gamblers and fantasy geeks don’t need to watch the contest they have a vested interest in.  They can catch a score or read a box score later in the day.  Those two fractions came to football not because of their loves of wagering and operating fantasy sports teams but because they love football.  It’s interesting to note that you can gamble on MLB games and rotisserie baseball started the fantasy craze. 

Are You Ready For Some Football?
Football is tailor made for television and baseball is not.  The gridiron is a rectangle, just like our HD televisions.  The game ebbs and flows perfectly on our bed of pixels.  There’s plenty of time for replays and halftime gives us the opportunity to either watch highlights or make a sandwich.  Conversely, television eliminates baseball’s charming nuances.  Most of the game is hidden. 

You watch baseball on television because you can’t get tickets to the game.  You watch football on television because it’s the best show on television.

Let’s Watch Two!
We put forth a fairly draconian scenario at the beginning of this article.  Fortunately, thanks to apps, portable devices, and DVRs we can watch broadcasts of both the NFL and MLB even if they’re scheduled concurrently.  That’s good news for Boston sports fans.  They’ll never miss a clutch performance by Tom Brady or David Ortiz.  

So enjoy the eventful NFL regular season and the dramatic MLB postseason, but when it comes to arguing why the former gets better ratings than the latter don’t make excuses.  Just tell the truth.  Football is clearly America’s most popular sport especially on television.

By David B.

Five ‘Other’ Broadway Shows You Should See

Five ‘Other’ Broadway Shows You Should See

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If you have the resources and time to see just one Broadway show during your holiday to New York City your selection process is easy.  You go see Wicked.  If that falls through you go to one of three other shows.  It’s Jersey Boys if you grew up in the 1960s.  It’s The Book of Mormon if you’re a fan of South Park and there are no young ones in your family.  It’s The Lion King if you have kids or you’re a huge fan of Elton John.  If all of those shows fall through, it’s off to the Majestic Theatre for a little Phantom of the Opera.

Needless to say, those aren’t the only musicals running on Broadway.  While the aforementioned shows are five of the greatest musical plays of all-time, Manhattan’s theatre district has a lot more to offer than a Green Witch, singing New Jerseyans, foul-mouth missionaries, chatty Lions, and a deformed composer living in a Parisian sewer.  Even so we need to be honest.  The following five shows aren’t reinventing the American musical but they do offer patrons (and tourists) one heck of a good time.  If you can’t get into Broadway’s biggest shows then go see these…

Motown The Musical
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Thankfully they named the show “Motown The Musical.”  That way we won’t get it confused with “Motown the industrial solvent” or “Motown the financial software.”  In all seriousness, Motown the Musical is about Motown Records, the company founded by Barry Gordy, Jr.  In fact, Gordy wrote this show’s book.  Motown is an energetic musical featuring more than 40 actors and 60 great Motown songs.  Don’t worry, not all sixty songs are sung in their entirety (that would make for one long show).  Many are presented in medley form.  The musical’s main characters are also Motown’s biggest names: Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson. 

Matilda
Schubert Theatre

If you can’t procure Lion King tickets, or for those of you turned off by anything from the Mouse House, Matilda is the musical for you.  Suitable and fun for the entire family, Matilda is based on the famous Roald Dahl novel.  It features a score by Australian composer and comedian Tim Minchin.  The British version of this musical won seven Olivier Awards (the British analog to the Tonys) including Best New Musical.  The show is funny, the songs are catchy, and the settings and costumes are bright and colorful.  While it’s very British—and that may confuse some audience members—the show’s anti-bullying message rings true regardless of which side of the pond you were born.

Kinky Boots
Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Kinky Boots is the reigning Tony Winner for Best Musical.  The show’s score also garnered a Tony Award for composer and lyricist Cyndi Lauper (yes, the same Cyndi Lauper that sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”).  Lauper became the first woman—in nearly 70 years of the Tony Awards—to ever win the trophy for Best Original Score by herself.  Kinky Boots is about a shoemaker and his drag queen cohort.   The musical is a definite crowd please.  You’ll have a great time and your heart will swell.  Does it move musical theatre forward?  No, but you won’t care because you’ll leave the Hirschfeld so damn satisfied.  There’s good news for those unable to make it to Gotham, a national tour of Kinky Boots is launching in 2014.

A Night with Janis Joplin
Lyceum Theatre

This musical can be summed up in just three words: Mary Bridget Davies.  That’s the name of the actress who portrays Joplin.  Wait, did I write “portray?”  I mean she becomes Joplin.  Davies sounds so much like the Queen of Rock and Roll you’ll swear that she’s drunk on Southern Comfort.  The show also features great performances from de’Adre Aziza, Nikki Kimbrough, Allison Blackwell, and Taprena Michelle Augustine.  If you love Joplin you’ll love this musical.  The show is light on story but heavy on music (‘Piece of My Heart,” “Summertime,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” and “Mercedes Benz”).  It runs two hours and 15 minutes which isn’t much shorter than Joplin’s actual career.

First Date
Longacre Theatre

First Date is a great show especially if you’re on a date.  It’s Broadway’s attempt at a rom-com only in First Date the characters sing their emotions.  The musical is a mere 90 minutes long and it moves with much alacrity.  The plot involves events surrounding a blind date between Aaron and Casey.  Aaron is a blind date virgin while Casey is a bit of a slut.  During their romantic rendezvous, they encounter visits from exes, siblings, parents, and even their future offspring.  The show stars Zachary Levi who played the titular character in the NBC drama Chuck.  Krysta Rodriguez plays “Casey.”  You may remember her as Karen’s roommate (Katharine McPhee) on another NBC show, Smash.

By David B.

MGMT Blast Facebook, Twitter But Are Fine Over Their Last Two Albums

MGMT tickets

MGMT Blast Facebook, Twitter But Are Fine Over Their Last Two Albums

Unfortunately, since 2007 and the release of their seminal album Oracular Spectacular, the most provocative thing to come from MGMT hasn’t been their records but their interviews.  Just recently, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden raised eyebrows with comments they made about fans’ expectations and social media. 

When asked if they “think bands give too much stuff away” via Facebook and Twitter they said yes.

"People have come to expect that from the artist, that they should be sharing every aspect of their lives,” Goldwasser told Digital Spy.

MGMT didn’t get on Twitter until January of 2013.

Goldwasser went on to explain that sharing on the internet dilutes an artist’s product.  He worries that it will never “be the same again.”

"Who really knew anything about David Bowie?  He was able to craft this mysterious image that wasn’t really him but this character (Ziggy Stardust) he created.  You don’t know how much of it was him or the character.  That’s something that is getting lost."

Is Mystery Really Missing?
Are Facebook and Twitter really taking the mystery out of popular music?  Are fans expecting too much information from their favorite bands and artists?  MGMT asks great questions.  I think the answers to both inquiries are no.  Even so, the issue calls for a thorough discussion.

Back In The Day
Long before MGMT tickets were being collected, and long before Facebook and Twitter were glimmers in their creator’s eyes, rock fans were left to contemplate such mysteries as Paul is dead, Keith Richards’ blood transfusion, and Mama Cass choking to death on a sandwich.  We also had some X-rated myths involving Bowie and Mick Jagger in bed, Rod Stewart getting his stomach pumped, and an unusual orifice Stevie Nicks used to ingest cocaine.  That’s all I’ll say about those incidents.  You can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Thanks to the internet, we now know all those myths are in fact myths.  Facebook and Twitter haven’t eliminated such nonsense—remember the rumor that Lady Gaga was actually a dude?—but it has definitely given artists a platform for repudiation.    

The Real Mystery
Of course, that’s not exactly the type of mystery MGMT was referring to although the aforementioned rock and roll lore (“rock and roll lies” if you prefer) were great marketing tools for those musical baby boomers.  What MGMT was really referring to is those wonderful tweets and/or Facebook updates that mention what the artist had for breakfast that morning or how annoyed they are that their DVR cut off the end of Breaking Bad.

MGMT has a point.  Can you imagine listening to Ziggy Stardust while reading a David Bowie tweet about how much he loves chicken pot pie or how he just defeated Mick Ronson at Pong?  Reading such things would definitely make you reconsider the Spiders From Mars.  By the way, Ziggy Stardust and Pong came out in the same year (1972).

Building A Mystery
Like I said, I think MGMT has point but overall they miss the mark when it comes to mystery.  Mystery isn’t a concept in popular music it’s a perception.  David Bowie can be mysterious because he’s an actual artist.  If a different kind of artist, say Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, tries the mystery thing then it’s marketing. 

We love Ziggy Stardust.  We love Oracular Spectacular.  We love them because they’re great albums.  While mysteriousness is a nice if you can get it at the end of the day it’s a luxury.  It’s not a prerequisite for great music. 

No Time For Mysteries
Furthermore, any mystery surrounding an artist or an album falls in the same category as linear notes, discographies, and lyrics.  In other words, mystery is for rock snobs and music nerds (people with way too much time on their hands).  The overwhelming majority of music fans could care less about the events (known or unknown) surrounding an artist or album.  They just want to hear great music.  They don’t have the time nor the energy for riddles.

Facebook & Twitter
For the sake of argument, let’s say an artist can be mysterious and their mysteriousness truly adds to the experience of listening to a great piece of music.  That still doesn’t implicate Facebook and Twitter.  It implicates the artist. 

Facebook and Twitter are tools.  They can be used in a variety of ways.  One of those ways is what MGMT enumerated earlier in this article, “sharing every aspect of [the artists’] lives.”  No one is forcing any artist to Tweet about how much they love pizza or their high score on Angry Birds.  MGMT should really criticize their fellow artists who use social media to document the banality of their lives instead of the fascination of the creative process.

Twit Something

“How do I twit something?”

Those were the first words MGMT ever posted on Twitter.  Most of their 200-plus tweets are like that or promote a performance or record release.  For artists worried about a lack of secrecy, MGMT has done little to cultivate their own air of mystery.

If MGMT wants to practice what they preach their tweets and updates should stick to stuff like this…

MGMT in Indianapolis tonight!”

… or…

“Get your tickets for MGMT in Toronto tomorrow, Dec. 7.”

Their tweets should not read like…

“What’s up, chicken butt?”

… or…

“Random tweet: I just saw a whale in the ocean, it came out of the water twice and spouted once, black and shiny

Those last two entries are actual tweets posted by MGMT.

By David B.

Ten Musicians Who’ve Appeared In Really Bad Movies

Ten Musicians Who’ve Appeared In Really Bad Movies

Justin Timberlake tickets

Justin Timberlake’s last two albums, The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, both went to number one.  The second of the two releases didn’t get the best of reviews of his career but it’s still considered a decent offering by the music intelligentsia.

The singer’s latest movie, Runner, Runner, has not fared as well.  It’s got an eight percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and made a paltry $7.6 million during its opening weekend.  Both of those numbers are incredibly bad.  The film is so atrocious that it has some reviewers saying Justin Timberlake should quit acting and stick to music.

That’s pretty harsh but not when you consider the history of musicians-turned-actors.  A lot of them have made some really bad movies.  Below, Clickitticket looks at ten musicians (including Timberlake) who’ve starred in films that are fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 (if it was still on the air).  Some of the movies mentioned in this article turned a profit, a few became cult classics, but all were lambasted by movie critics.

Mariah Carey

In 2001, Mariah Carey starred in Glitter, a movie that was based on one of her bright ideas.  Directed by Vondie Curtis Hall, Glitter is now considered one of the worst films of all-time.  And it’s not even one of those “so bad it’s good” type of debacles.  Glitter is so bad it will make you hurt.  This cinematic crud raked in just over $2.4 million during its opening weekend and $5 million overall.  As for Carey’s acting, one reviewer said whenever she tried to emote she looked like she had just “lost her car keys.”

Kelly Clarkson

I read an article recently that looked at album sales, radio airplay, and concert ticket sales to prove that Carrie Underwood was the most successful American Idol winner of all-time.  Despite the fact that numbers don’t lie, Kelly Clarkson is really the most successful A.I. champ.  Think about it.  She made From Justin to Kelly (2003) and still went on to have a blockbuster career.  If that travesty didn’t stop her then nothing ever will.  From Justin to Kelly won a special Golden Raspberry Award for the worst musical of the organization’s first 25 years (1980 to 2005).  Incredibly, this flick—one of the worst of all-time—was nominated for three Teen Choice Awards.

John Lennon

In 1967, John Lennon appeared in a film called How I Won the War.  It was the only non-musical role of his career.  The movie was not well received by critics, but it’s “Citizen Kane” when compared to the other entries on this list.  Thoroughly British, How I Won the War is usually reviewed as a pretentious, unfunny, and not-as-anti-war as the movie thinks it is.  If you like British humor, and you’re a fan of The Beatles, then you should check this flick out.  If you’re neither of those things then watch M*A*S*H or Catch-22 instead as they are much better anti-war flicks.

Diana Ross

In 1972, Diana Ross was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues.  Six years later, Ross appeared in her final theatrical release, The Wiz.  Landing in theaters in 1978, The Wiz was so awful that it not only ended Ross’ film career but it put an end to a popular trend at the time of producing African-American movies.  While the musical was a huge hit on Broadway, the film was one of the decade’s biggest flops (too scary for kids, too ridiculous for adults).  Ross was particularly harangued for being too old and too frosty to play “Dorothy.”

Neil Diamond

So it’s 1980.  You want a film vehicle for the biggest adult contemporary star on the planet.  So what movie do you pick to remake with Neil Diamond in the lead?  Well, the powers that be choose the last film in the world they should have selected.  That flick was 1927’s The Jazz Singer—nothing like a 53-year-old story to launch a singer’s film career.  The soundtrack to the flick was a huge hit for Neil but the film was a mega-flop and one of the worst movie musicals ever committed to celluloid.  Diamond won a Golden Raspberry Award for worst actor.  The movie failed to win the Razzie for Worst picture thanks to the abysmal Can’t Stop The Music starring The Village People (another entry on this list)

The Village People

John Wilson founded the Golden Raspberry Awards after seeing a double feature of Xanadu and Can’t Stop the Music.  The latter of those two films won the first ever Razzie for Worst Picture (thus beating out The Jazz Singer).  Can’t Stop the Music is loosely, loosely, loosely based on the story of the Village People.  It also stars Steve Guttenberg and Bruce Jenner (in his first film role).  That right there is all you need to know about this clunker. The film is now a cult classic, not because it’s a little-known gem but because it’s all camp.

Prince

As of 2013, Prince has made and released four films.  One of the four is pretty good.  That would be the concert film Sign o’ the Times.  Another, Purple Rain, is a cult classic that’s not too bad.  His other two flicks, Under the Cherry Moon (1986) and Graffiti Bridge (1990), are certified stink bombs.  Prince’s acting and directing was raked over the coals for his work in Under the Cherry Moon and he was accused of trying to make himself into a “Christ-like” figure in Graffiti Bridge.  When it comes to music, Prince is a genius.  When it comes to cinema, Prince is a bit of a dunce.

Madonna

Madonna starred in Shanghai Surprise with her husband at the time, Sean Penn.  The movie was an Indiana Jones-knock off and one of the worst films of 1986.  Madonna’s acting was universally panned as was Penn’s (which is something since he can actually act).  Interestingly, George Harrison’s film company produced this train wreck and he created most of the soundtrack.  Madonna followed this steaming pile with another crap-fest of a film, Who’s That Girl (1987).  Both works earned Madonna back-to-back Razzie Awards for Worst Actress.  In fact, Madonna holds the record for the most Razzie awards (five).  She’s also tied with Melanie Griffith and Demi Moore for the most Razzie nominations (six).

Spice Girls

Spice World, the 1997 movie starring The Spice Girls, is the highest grossing film on this list.  The “A Hard Day’s Night” rip-off earned more than $100 million at the box office.  Still, critics hated it.  I mean they loathed it.  Spice World was one of the worst films of the year and the Spice Girls were accused of being “so detached they can’t even successfully lip-synch their own songs.”  The film also looked bad and contained little to no story.  Who saw it?  Well, the movie played well to The Spice Girls’ fan base—that being eight-year-old girls.

Justin Timberlake

One blogger asked if Runner, Runner was worse for Justin Timberlake’s career or Ben Affleck’s?  The conclusion is it’s more of a detriment to Timberlake’s career and probably the end of his foray into dramatic acting.  In other words, Timberlake is a serious musician and not a serious actor.  Runner, Runner is an updated version of “Wall Street” that’s all flash and no substance.  The movie is about internet gambling which is a subject that’s about as interesting as anything with the word “internet” in front of it.

Save your money and skip Runner, Runner.  Instead, buy yourself some Justin Timberlake concert tickets.  His upcoming tour begins Halloween night in Montreal, Quebec and ends March 5 in Miami, Florida.  Look for Justin Timberlake and the 20/20 Experience World Tour in Los Angeles on Jan. 20; Justin Timberlake and the 20/20 Experience World Tour in Toronto on Feb. 13 and 14; and Justin Timberlake and the 20/20 Experience World Tour in Philadelphia on Feb. 25.

By David B.