Pooped

Tuesday 31 Aug 10

I got back home about 12.30 last night and my pick up time was 5.40 this morning, and I got home about 9.30 tonight.  I am pooped.

But this cheered my greatly when I watched it.


Emmyway

Monday 30 Aug 10

I am trying to think of the most crazy part of my Emmy weekend.

Was it meeting the real Temple Grandin in a gifting suite at the Four Seasons hotel? Seeing her being part of the swag machine was a little bizarre.

Is it the large bruise and scrape I mysteriously have on my right shin?

Was it holding Archie Panjabi's Emmy as we walked to the Governer's Ball and being congratulated by so many people on my win, and even letting a child hold it in a photograph?

Was it being gifted an eat for free at Johnny Rocket's for a year voucher?  Or a year's supply of tic tacs?

Was it being asked to do an impression of George Clooney on the red carpet?

I am about to fly home to NYC. I will muse on't on the plane.


Ask Alan

Saturday 28 Aug 10

I am back in LA for the Emmys tomorrow. I flew Continental this time, and had a lovely Indian vegan meal and the flight attendant did not comment on the body odour of any passengers as her American Airlines counterpart had last weekend.  Yes, really.

Natalie asks: Out of all the magnificent roles you've played, what's your favorite line you've had to say? What's the weirdest? It can be from a play, musical, movie, or anything. I thought of this while watching Tin Man (which you're amazing in of course). Keep being inspirational and fantastic!  See the blog from yesterday about the Terence McNally reading. I think that has to take the biscuit, don't you?!

Clarissa Crabtree (what a great name) writes: As I was chopping and dicing the veggies from my recent CSA delivery, I got to thinking about vegies around the world.  Since you travel so much, you must have tried lots of different veggies around the world - what was the wierdest, and what's your favourite?   I have had some weird and wonderful veggies, but my favourite exotic one is jackfruit.  Oh, it's so delicious and the texture is very satisfying.  But my favourite vegetable of all time would have to be the potato. I could easily have mashed potato for every meal.  I am also nuts about arugula, the kind that tastes all mustardy.

Jessy from Germany says: What do like about your work  ? I mean  be an actor is a fascinating job  but what fascinated you ?
I just like pretending to be other people. It's fun.  I think of it as a very child-like thing, committing to play in a really total way.  And I like that I get to play as an adult and be able to make a living and do things I like because of it.  I think my inner child is very outer.

Hey Alan! I know you're anti-circumsicion, and there are people asking why...so here's a link that may be of interest to you: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html  Thanks so much, this is a great article.  It's a good one to forward to anyone who needs to be enlightened on the foreskin front!

Matt writes: I love, with a big L, The High Life. What was it that made your decision to move on?
It was really a combination of things but mostly it was because Forbes and I had reached a decision to not to do another series during the writing process. I guess we felt really unsupported by the BBC and that they just didn't get us.  It felt a lot like banging our heads against a brick wall.  Then we shot it and it came out and people really liked it for the same reasons that the people at the Beeb had been trying to get us to change. And then of course they were all over us to do another series. But by then I had already moved on in my head, and also logistically it became impossible because I had started to do more films. But really we didn't do another series because we made a pact not to.

Quite a lot of people have written asking for the playlist of my recent shows. It varies from show to show a little but this is how it is basically right now..
Almost There (Tom Baxter)/Mein Herr (Kander & Ebb)/I Want To See You (Alan Cumming)/Wig In A Box/Wicked Little Town (Stephen Trask)/American (Lance Horne)/What More Can I Say (William Finn)/I Still Have That Other Girl/Losing My Mind (Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach/Stephen Sondheim)/Taylor The Latte Boy (Heisler/Goldrich)/Next To Me (Cumming/Horne)/Edinburgh Festival Song (Cumming/Masson)/Beautiful (Jeff Harris)

From Lynn: I was wondering if you were planning to write another book at some point? My friends and I all loved 'Tommy's Tale' and hoped you might feel the urge to write another novel! Although....a biography would be great too :)
I am indeed planning to write another book. It's just the old enemy, time. And I even want to do something that would in a way be my version of an autobiography: a sort of book of short stories about things that have happened in my crazy life.  Stay tuned.  But maybe I should get down to writing the book more instead of doing this blog every day?! Actually, doing this blog has been a good discipline both in just writing something every day and also getting back into the habit of searching the cavities of my mind and finding out what I think about things. So thank you all for your encouragement.

Katie writes: I'm thinking of trying to major in musical theatre or acting in college, but I'm not sure if I should. I've only been in a couple shows, and I've done a lot of vocal stuff, but I fell in love with acting when I did my first show. Do you think that if you are really passionate about something, you might as well try to make it into a career, even though it's more than likely you could completely fail?!  Do it! I think the worst thing would be to live your life thinking 'if only'.

Alan, have you ever gotten or wanted a tattoo?
Yep, I had one.  It was a boy's name.  We had each other's names tattooed on our groins after two weeks of knowing each other! Four months later we broke up. I had mine lasered off.  Since then, much as I love them, I've been wary of getting another. But I always ask people to show me their tattoos because I think they are beautiful and people get them so that others can enjoy them too.

Doris from Germany: What means the title of your debut album:" I Bought A Blue Car Today"?
It's the sentence I had to write down in my US Naturalization test to prove I could write in English. I thought it was cute at first and then I realised it was about consumerism and gas-guzzling.

I know you've probably heard this before, but what is the tastiest way to cook tofu.

I am a big fan of a stir fry with some vegetables and sesame oil or a teriyaki sauce. I try to steer clear of the deep fry option

Liam asks: I've aways loved the roles you play and i wondered is there a role that you'd love to play again in a sequel or a remake?  Actually there is a Spy Kids 4 in the works and we are trying to make the dates work so that i can be in that for just a little cameo. But as for remakes, I would love to play a character like Auntie Mame.  Alan Cumming as Uncle Mame doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?  Or I would like to be Maude in Harold and Maude!!

Michael from Austria: I saw yesterday the fantastic movie "the anniversarry party" first time. congratulation to this artwork. since hours i try to find out who sing the song in the scene on the pool. please tell me this important information via eMail. I must have this song ;-)  It was written by Michael Penn and is on The Anniversary Party soundtrack which I bet you can get on itunes or Amazon.


Theatah

Friday 27 Aug 10

Today I did  reading of a Terence McNally play called It's Only A Play at the Manhattan Theatre Club.  It's an old play that he has re-worked about the first night of a play on Broadway and it was very very funny.  I have nearly worked with Mr T many times and this reading was actually the first time it had ever happened. I hope I get to do a full production of something of his soon.

I played a theatre director and my favourite line was: Wicked is the pimple on the hemorrhoid in the rectum of the flatulent institution they call the American theatre.

Ouch.

Later I went to see a play by Stan Richardson called Veritas at the NY Fringe  festival. It's a really amazing story about a group of gay men at Harvard in 1920 and how their treatment  ended in such tragedy.  It has its last eprformance at the fringe Saturday so check it out if you can.

Then I watched again my friend Joe's documentary about Norman Mailer.  What a crazy troubled thing he was.  I met him once at a benefit for the drama bookshop in NYC.  I had forgotten all about it till last night. Isn't it funny how our memories are rebooted by certain stimuli?

And here is a picture of me playing Hamlet that I really think encapsulates that time of my life.


Ear wax and more!

Thursday 26 Aug 10

Here is the first picture of The Good Wife cast for the marjketing campaign for the launch of season 2, which happens on CBS on September 28th. This is one of these funny pictures that was shot at lots of different times and we were never all there together at once.

Anf then here is the single of me, and I can truthfully say that I was indeed there when this picture was taken.

Today I did something fantastic. I went and had an ear candle treatment.  This is where they put a funny wick thing into your ear and light it - a quite extraordinary aural experience I can tell you - and then you lie there as it burns down and a lady massages round your ear and then when she takes the wick out and cuts it open you get to see all the wax that has somehow been sucked out of your ear. My doctor told me the other day that by using Q Tips I had pushed wax further into my ear so I thought a good old candle wax extraction was in order. There was tons of the stuff! The little lady actually gasped when she saw how much.  And now I feel that the volume of the sountrack of my life has been turned up to beyond the max.  I just shot a scene in a court building in The Bronx with a lot of extras and when everyone was talking at once it was really a little overwhelming!

I'm going to be making some videos for CBS.com about life on the set of The Good Wife, so that will be fun.  I promise there will be no ear wax involved, unless it somehow part of a storyline in the show.  Which I doubt very much.

Thanks to Elise for sending me this video of a flash mob in Target.  Keep up the good work, people!!


me in specs

Wednesday 25 Aug 10

 This first picture of me in specs was taken at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1992 when I was there with my first ever feature film Prague.  

The next one was taken at the Sundance film festival in 2009 when I was there with the film Dare.  I am slightly obsessed with pictures of me in specs today because I thought that my failing eyesight was a recent thing and quite clearly it is not, as I was wearing specs 18 years ago.  I think though that there has been a marked downward spiral in my eyesight, all part of the slow march towards death which we all must come to terms with.  I actually like wearing specs, and I need to so much now that maybe I should think about contact lenses.  Though that would defeat the purpose and the joy of my spec wearing.  I even have my prescriptions in a few pairs of sunglasses

Oh, talking of the sun, it's not here.  Today is the first day in ages in New York City where I can remember wearing socks (except at work when I am Eli Gold - he is definitely not a Crocs man). It rained big time during the night and it was actually a little chilly this morning. I went off to work with a JACKET on. Can you imagine?!!

Of course it is rather exciting to suddenly have a whole new array of wardrobe possibilities available again. I am so looking forward to winter and to wearing a coat that one of the extras from The Runaway (a thing I shot recently in South Africa) was wearing and I nabbed it. It's a sort of big furry pimp coat and I am going to be so superfly in it this winter!  I also have a pair of galoshes which I yearn to wear.  I always feel like I need to drink some vodka and start weeping about Moscow when I wear them.  

I am typing this on my office computer and I have to say young Brian my assistant is a mucky pup. This is the dirtiest keyboard I have seen in some time.  I am going to actually go and get a bottle of spray stuff an clean it after I type this. That'll show him.

Today I did some voice work for a movie called Outback which will come out next year and in which I will be giving my Bog, a nasty crocodile. Oh yes, I am extending my range with every passing day. I also played a bratty Australian boy for a couple of lines too, though I should keep that quiet in case anyone in Australia ever hears it and wonders about the wonky accent.

Brian is off getting my outfit for the Emmys on Sunday. My dear friend Cynthia Rowley has made me a lovely ensemble, so at least I can be sure that at these Emmys I will not be wearing anything that Perez Hilton has already worked on the red carpet. By the way, thanks to the over a hundred thousand people who voted that I looked better than Perez. Much as I abhor popularity contests and fashion police type of things, it was very flattering.

Right I am off to scrub this murky keyboard and, yikes, the screen is a disgrace too.  Then I am going to walk the dogs. But finally here is another picture of me in specs. This one was taken in the Villa Borghese during the Rome Film Festival in 2008 by Gael Garcia Bernal.  Go figure!!


flipping heck

Tuesday 24 Aug 10

I am distraught.  Lat week my flip HD camera broke. The little USB thing got stuck and then wouldn't stay in my computer properly.  So I borrowed my man's flip to do the films from Edinburgh. Now that one has stopped working!! And at the weekend I heard of someone else's flip that has conked out.  What is hapening in the world?!  I so wanted to do an Emmy vid but unless there are free flips at some swag place that I will be wheeled around on Saturday I don't know if it's going to happen. Chant for me, people.

Also did you know that Target donated $150,000 to anti-LGBT bigot Tom Emmer's campaign? This is Target, people, who have been so amazing in the past both in terms of philanthropy, and equality within their corporate structure.  And now they are giving large chunks of change to a man who wants to ban same-sex marriage! WTF! Obviously this is a corporate PR blunder, but come on Target, make amends here.

It's assumed that Target didn't know that when they donated money to the pro-business group, MN Forward, that under state law MN Forward would have to disclose its contributors, or that it was supporting Emmer as a candidate for Minnesota governor.  But since the mounting protests nationwide (see below) Target's chief executive, Gregg Steinhafel, wrote a letter of apology to employees, explaining that the company's political donation had been a misguided effort to foster economic growth

"While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry," Steinhafel wrote. He continued, "The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests." He added that the retailer would more closely review any future political contributions.

I think everyone should call Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel at 612-696-6234 and DEMAND they get the $150,000 back or donate $150,000 to queer youth or transgender services!

 


ask and tell

Monday 23 Aug 10

So here is what my Creative Emmy day looked like... This is me in my hotel room getting groomed by my friend Ermahn. He was the make up guy on Spy Kids and we have stayed friends ever since and whenever I have to do something in LA that involves looking pretty, he is my go to person. I love him.

Here he is again after I am groomed.

I find it so crazy when people on red carpets ask you to talk them through your outfit. I mean, I know what they mean, but let's get real here.  I find it so hard to resist the urge, and indeed I have not been able to in the past, to say 'Well, it's shoes, trousers, a jacket, a shirt and a tie'.  Anyway here I am talking through my incredibly controversial fashion choice from Saturday's Creative Emmys.  Just wait till you see what I am wearing for next week's Emmys!!

I was sitting next to the lovely Neil Patrick Harris and his man David and it was so exciting to be so close to a TWO time Emmy winner!!  We walked across to the dinner thing together and here is a snap of us having fun. Neil and David are about to welcome twins, and guess what? They now have twin Emmys. Woah! Go figure!

Then the most exciting thing happened to me.  One of my idols, Fred Willard, came up to talk to me.  I am so happy!  If you don't believe me, check out this picture of us both. What an honour!!

And finally here are the two lovely people who made up the whole idea of The Good Wife, Michelle and Robert King. They are both so talented and kind and lovely. And they know my husband Grant because their kids go to school with his first girlfriend's child!!  You couldn't make this up.

 

But MOST IMPORTANTLY, tonight I went to see a truly amazing piece of theatre and I exhort you all who live in NYC to do the same. It is called Another American: Asking and Telling and is a brilliant piece of docu-drama conceived and perfomed by Marc Wolf.  The subject matter is obviously Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the current heinous policy in the US military for gay people which was introduced by President Clinton.  Ten years ago Marc went out and interviewed a cross-section of society about this topic and then made this piece in which he becomes, there is no other way to describe it, becomes those very people. It is one of the most stunning things I have seen in a very long time. Brilliantly executed, and utterly though-provoking and moving. Indeed, it is what theatre should be about. A triumph!! Click on the link above for tickets and go go go. It is only on a couple of nights a week for the next month and it would be a great shame to miss it.

Finally here is a lovely article in Departures magazine about itsasickness.com


who am i emmy way?

Sunday 22 Aug 10

Well, I was right to listen to myself. I did not win the Emmy.  And the lovely John Lithgow did.  And so did my friends Chiara and Toni for make-up on The Pacific

I will write more about it all tomorrow, as I am about to get on a plane back to NYC.  But here in the meantime is a picture of me in a bar later last night, holding my imaginary Emmy. 

My suit caused a bit of a sensation. Than you, Moods of Norway.


Stinky

Friday 20 Aug 10

Today I flew to Los Angeles.  I was on American Airlines.  As soon as we boarded I heard one of the lady flight attendants  complaining rather noisily about a bad smell.  A moment later the air was filled with the pungent smell of that kind of chemical air freshener that you get in gift shops. You know, like those awful scented candles.  Now, I don't mean that all scented candles are awful per se, far from it. But you now those cloying ones that catch in your throat and are called things like cinnamon dream, and you're suposed to put them on at Christmas to add to the ambiece of peace and tranquility?  Well imagine a cheap aerosol version of that being sprayed around you as you've just sat down on a very early flight.

We asked the lady if she'd mind not spraying it so near us and she replied - and she really did say this - 'I have to work here and some of the passengers stink'.  I guess she missed the customer relations classes at flight attendant school.

This afternon I have been lounging by the hotel pool with two friends from Australia who are here because they are nominated for the Best Make Up award at tomorrow's Emmys for The Pacific.  I worked with them on Son of the Mask which was shot in Oz.  We chatted about what we are wearing and also if there is a chance of us winning.  I told Chiara (for that is her name) that I am a good omen because the last time I attended the Creative Emmys the make up category was won by another friend of mine for Tin Man. We then freaked each other out about the possibility of going up on stage and having to make a speech. 

I am totally convinced that John Lithgow is going to win for Dexter.  But what if he doesn't?!!  I suddenly realised that if I won I would be utterly unprepared and would sound like a buffoon, so now there is that to worry about to. I have hastily begun to think of the list of people's names I should thank.  And my stomach is in knots.

You see, I have just made this all up in my head.  John Lithgow will win because he is brilliant and because he won the Golden Globe and if he didn't win the SAG then he should have.  I would like Robert Morse to win just because he is the cutest thing ever on Mad Men.  But I just never imagined I would stand a chance.  I just thought it would be a good laugh and a chance to see some friends and have a dirty weekend in LA.  Ony now, the day before, have I allowed the possibililty (and I am nominated so it isn't as if it would be insane for it to happen) to begin to ruin my fun.

 I am going to Rufus Wainwright's concert at the Greek theatre in a minute and not going to think about it anymore. But what if I win and I haven't practsied my speech enough?  And what if I don't win and I have written this blog and everyone will feel sorry for me?

I hate awards.


Ask Alan!

Thursday 19 Aug 10

From Gayle: Dear Alan,  I have been enjoying seeing you doing the intros for Mystery on PBS. I wanted to know if you will be starring in any of the Poirot or Miss Marple in the future. Would love to see you in something like that. Wouldn't that be funny?  Me introducing myself? I have no plans to be in Poirot or Miss Marple, but never say never!  I did feel a bit Miss Marpleish recently when I did the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are? which airs on BBC1 in the UK on September 6th.  I was investigating the life of my grandfather and I was channeling her.

hey alan did you know i am your number 1 fan and i friended you on myspace  I did not know that cos it's not me on myspace or facebook, sorry about that.  This site is my only online presence.  Do not let the impostors trick you!!

Katarzyna-Anna from Poland writes: Aren't people confused because of your fame?  I'm wondering if it's hard to find real friends when you're famous? Have you ever met any people whose kindness was fake because of your prestige?  Yes, I suppose is the answer.  But as you get older you are more able to see people's real motivations and reasons for wanting to be your friend.  Also people seem to forget that I have a role in any friendship. People don't just become my friend, whether I want it or not! So I am very good at making sure people who come into my life, and into the private parts of it, are true and kind.  Sometimes I have made mistakes, but I think now I have a really great bunch of friends who are kind and protective, and at the same time I have not closed myself off from the possibility of having new people join that happy band. Also, the people who really want to be your friends just for the glory and the celeby rub-off are usually not very good at hiding their true desires.

Gloria writes: any plans to bring I Bought a Blue Car Today to Vancouver? That's Vancouver in Canada not Washington. Oh my goodness I would love to take the show to the Couv, but right now there are no plans. I know I have a flurry of dates at the beginning of next year, but none for a while apart from a few benefit things.  I have come to Vancouver many times to shoot films so mayeb the enxt time I do I will arrange to do the show somewhere there!

What's been your favourite song you've ever sung in a role?.....if that makes sense  I really liked singing I Don't Care Much from Cabaret.  Right now I love singing Almost There, the Tom Baxter song in my show, but that isn't really a role from a show, cos it's just me singing it.

From Ryan: how did you get your start as an actor and has there ever been a time where you doubted yourself or capability in any way?  I went to drama school.  Whilst there, in my final year, I was asked to be in a professional production of Macbeth and then in a movie, so I had a little head start before I graduated.  But that's how I did it, quite a traditional route.  And it all sort of blossomed from there. And yes, of course I have had doubts, and still do sometmes. I think it's healthy, cos in some ways it galvanises you to work harder and having doubts reminds you that you are not invincible and your vulnerability is a part of who you are as a performer.

Tess asks: have you ever experienced any Paranormal activity in the Edinburgh Castle, or in your life? No, not in Edinburgh Castle! But I sometimes feel the energy of people in places. Last year I stayed in a hotel (also in Edinburgh incidentally) which had once been a mental hospital and I definitely felt some tormented souls around me. I had to give them a little talking to, telling them I understood and that I was a bit mad myself, so to please chill out and let me have a good night's sleep. It worked!

Rowda sent this poem by Kahlil Gibran.  I think it's great:

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Finally Lindsay sent me this video, which I think deserves a viewing from us all...


Flying visits

Wednesday 18 Aug 10

On Sunday in Edinburgh I was filmed by the TV channel New York 1, and today I was in thier building in Manhattan filming for The Good Wife. Funny old world, huh?!

I am still reeling a little from my weekend of Fringe fun and merriment, the flights back and forth and then being flung back into filming.  But I have enjoyed the scenes we have been shooting. Each week the show deals with issues that are pertinent and current in a really interesting and provocative way and I like that.

This weekend the madness will continue as on Friday I fly to Los Angeles for the Creative Emmys.  The award I am nominated for (Supporting Guest Actor in a Drama) is announced during this ceremony, and then I will return to LA the following weekend with the rest of The Good Wife cast for the Prime Time Emmys. And I thought my days of gadding about on planes had stopped for a while!

I have been getting up so early and having long filming days so I am glad that now, before I go to meet friends for drinks at my favourite local bar, I can walk Honey and Leon and have some daddy/kids time.  Honey has had a funny tummy again, poor thing.  But she is still boisterous and loves a rough house, so I don't think it's anything serious.  It is still really hot and humid here in NYC and I think being an old hairy lady must be pretty tough in this climate.

What a great thing it was tonight to see that all the combat troops leaving Iraq!!  Finally! Obama is keeping his word and washing his hands of the mess that Bush left him.  The West should never ever have invaded that country in the first place.

Someone put this up on youtube and I really like it. It's got audio of me singing Money from Cabaret set against footage of the Hindenburgh burning. Pretty powerful and weird.


woozy day

Tuesday 17 Aug 10

This made me laugh today.

So did this.

Today I had to get up at 6am to go and shoot the last scenes of episode 3 of the new season of The Good Wife. It's funny to think that since the last scenes I shot I have been across the Atlantic and performed at the Edinburgh fringe as well as engaged in all the extraneous activities that can be viewed in the videos below.  I was a little woozy at points today, no wonder.

I was thinking about how about 6 weeks or so ago I was in Tokyo and skyped with friends who were at my country house on Friday night at about 8.30pm and then I arrived there the next day at 3.30 in the afternoon.  I couldn't get my head around it.  Or my body for that matter.  I kept thinking about what Jacques says in As You Like It: I have gained my experience.

I didn't feel I had gained my experience when I came from Tokyo. In some way the way speed and time zones enabled me to cheat my body into being somewhere else so soon demeaned the rather huge experiences I had just had (filming for the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are in Malyasia).

This weekend in Edinburgh I talked a lot about age and the idea of returning to the fringe festival after so many years and after so many years of having performed there.  Something about going back to my roots, both geographically and artistically made me feel that actually I had gained my experience. It was a nice feeling.


The last day in Edinburgh

Monday 16 Aug 10

I just got back home form Edinburgh, exhausted but very happy and proud. My liver is also very happy to have a little rest.


Sunday

Sunday 15 Aug 10

Check out my new acrobatic trick...


second day in edinburgh

Saturday 14 Aug 10

Second day and things are getting crazy...


My first 24 hours in Edinburgh

Friday 13 Aug 10

Here's a little video I made of my first 24 hours in Edinburgh. Enjoy!


Goldendays

Wednesday 11 Aug 10

I am at JFK about to get on a plane for Paris and then Edinburgh. I love Air France.

I found this clip of me on a Scottish TV talk show in 1995 talking about Goldeneye, which was about to come out, and also harking back to my Victor and Barry glory days.    Again, ah youth.

I do note more than a little nostalgia this week, as I head back to the Edinburgh fringe.  It's funny because although I have been doing my show all round the world for the last year and a half, taking it to Edinburgh makes me realise how much its content and tone, and also my desire to do it at all, is tied up with the amazing experiences I had as a barely twenty-something performing on the Fringe.  I guess it's true that the apple never falls far from the tree.

It's also weird that  just yesterday I was shooting scenes for The Good Wife in Harlem, and will be back shooting the end of this episode on Tuesday, and yet in the middle of that I can fly across the Atlantic and take part in the world's biggest arts festival and see laods of old friends, and my mum, do a bunch of press things, see quite a few shows and then return and be all Eli again as though none of it happened.  I love showbiz.

 I am also very happy to read today that the results from various elections yesterday indicate that those Republicans who thought they were going to have it easy in November and take back both houses are in for a bit of a shock.  I can't help but think that the rise of the 24 hour news channels and their need for constant content and speculation, can create a very false impression compared to what real people are experiencing and thinking out there in America.  Media types and for the most part viewers of those types of channels will not be the ones who will be most feeling the affects of the changes this administration is making, I should imagine.


Combing my fringes

Tuesday 10 Aug 10

I am packing to go to Edinburgh tomorrow. It is quite a funny experience to be going back to perform on the Edinburgh fringe after 19 years!! There are a lot of memories flooding though my mind's sluice gates.

Mostly I have been thinking about how I am coming full circle artistically. I strated off at the Fringe in 1984 doing cabaret, with Victor and Barry.  Over the years we refined and honed our act but we never quite lost the thrilling aspect of often, especially when opening a new show at Edinburgh, going onstage and not being utterly confident of knowing how it ended or even the chords of some of the songs!  That feeling of leaping off a cliff is partly what I wanted to revisit with my own cabaret show.

Of course, Victor and Barry were characters who were very different to Forbes and I, and so now, with the show just being me, me and more me, I feel I am coming back to the style of performance of my roots and also making it even more personal.

But when it comes down to it it's still just a daft boy singing some songs and chatting. To wit, here is a little vid I made in the dressing room of the theater on Fire Island the other week, as I was warming up for the performance...


Ah youth!

Monday 9 Aug 10

I hereby present my professional debut, ladies and gentlemen: Scenes from a UK TV series called Travelling Man, in which I play a young canal boy named Jamie.

I shot this in the summer holidays between my second and third year of drama school. I remember having absolutely no clue what I was doing, and because I had  only ever performed in the theatre until now and had no camera experience whatsoever, I thought it would be best if I remained as still as possible and do absolutely nothing aside from letting the lines slip monotonously from my pert young lips.  As a consequence I look and sound like a rather well-looking corpse with big hair.

But we live and learn, and it's always great to be able to look back and try to remember the person I was in those Daisy Duke shorts all those years ago.


Everything must go!

Sunday 8 Aug 10

Tonight I had my annual games giveaway party.  This is where I invite round a bunch of friends, mostly ones who are around about my size, and we play games to determine the order in which people go up to racks of clothes and shoes and other desultory swag and free stuff I have been given that I no longer have room. need or desire for.  It's a very Robin Hood way of redistributing celebrity swag, all with a few drinks and some guacamole.

Tonight was a particularly good one, only a few things left on the racks after the hordes left.  We even give out swag bags to take home the swag in.  It is a very good feeling to a) see lots of friends b) give away things to people who actually like and want them c) be less encumbered with things and d) to laugh at how I came about owning certain weird items, like a pair of trousers from a Sylvester Stallone film and a stack of still-wrapped porn. Don't ask.

Also we have a bit of a tradition now at parties in my flat of taking a picture with me and my friends who used to be assistants and my present assistant.  See the vid below.


mailer and wizards

Saturday 7 Aug 10

My friend Joe Mantegna (not the actor) has made a documentary about Norman Mailer which I can't wait to see. Luckily I don't have to wait cos a copy of it is sitting on my DVD player as we speak.  But here is the trailer to whet your appetites.

I have known Joe for ages. He first approached me after The Anniversary Party came out and asked me if I would like to direct a commercial. I said sure and so I did one and quickly found that commercials were not really my thing, though I did enjoy the one I did enormously.  I will try and put it up tomorrow. Joe has been a great supporter: of my short-lived theater company The Art Party and whenever I have a fundraiser for any cause he is always there. I did the voice-over for his last documentary P Town Diaries.

 I am off to a wizard party in Brooklyn. I know, you couldn't make this shit up. I have a cloak and everything.


ask alan and some daily show

Friday 6 Aug 10

Alejandra from Tijuana, Mexico has included me in her first solo art show at the CECUT museum from October 1-4th. I am very flattered to be included in your 'inspiring people in the arts' themed show, Alejandra. Good luck with it!  Don't I look cute and pale and skinny?!

what would you be doing with your life now if you didnt become a movie star/brodway star? O and also, whats it like being in stage in front of all those people? wher you ever afrad, or naturaly born for it?  I would probably be an English teacher, with a focus on spelling. And I am always afraid.  The fear never goes away.  I think that is natural though, and good.

Jeff writes: Saw your show in San Francisco (in the same theater I interviewed you in for my gay youth site, before Suffering Man's Charity a while back). I was just curious about the genesis of "Beautiful." You mentioned it was written for a 96-year-old on her birthday? What's the full story? I'm intrigued. My friend Barnaby's dad wrote the song and it was a gift for a 96 year old lady and played for her at her birthday party. Considering the lyrics, imagine what a fun old broad she must have been!

From somewhere in Canada, Jennifer asks: What other things do you like to indulge in that would typically be reserved for our youth? You have a very youthful and playful spirit, which I adore. But you also seem to be very much about living for the moment... do you consider yourself a nostalgic person at all? I have to say I am obsessed with silly bands. I am on the set of The Good Wife right now and I feel so naughty because I have two on up my sleeve under my Eli drag.  One is a skateboard!! And I do live in the moment, or try to as much as poss, and as for nostalgia, well I like to look back and remember but I never think 'oh, that was a better time' or do that awful thing when people say things like 'Oh the clubs in NYC were so much better ten years ago, you missed it'.  I think that's such a boring and useless attitude.  Maybe they had more fun ten years ago, but that's their deal.  As Maude says 'L-I-V-E! Live!'

You said once in an interview that your stage persona is very different from your actual self.  How, then, did you select your songs for I Bought a Blue Car Today?  Did they speak to Alan Cumming the Stage Personality or the actual man? Hmm, what a clever, sneaky question. Well, my stage persona in I Bought A Blue Car Today is me.  I think I was referring in the interview to a perception of me because of some of the more crazy roles I have played. So, the songs definitely speak to me the man (and also the stage personality in IBABCT!!)

Kuriouscat sent this poem about Into The Night, the show I did for German/French TV with Ian Rankin...

Alan Cumming, your the King of quick Chatter,
a fast flowing river, of great slangish "patter"!
A saw your wee film, with Ian Rankin the writer,
your a wonderful duo, who couldnt be tighter!

My question to you, is very personal indeed,
where did you get, that hair-do on your heed?
I'd like a wee copy, of this napper art,
to sell off the blue prints, on my ebay cart!

You got a bit pished, going down tae the pub,
then into a chippy, for some greasy grub!
White pudding and chips, the best you can get,
except when its fritters, that one I can bet!

Its better when drunk, fingers not forks,
so how did it taste, as good as New york's?
You have to admit, its better out west,
The fritters in Glasgow are simply the best!

You looked a bit scared, when you went underground,
Hooks from the ceiling, were up there all around!
Torch lights were piercing, the tunnels of death,
Tell me the truth, could you smell any meths?

Excuse me "This is Edinburgh", you scoff!
okay ma wee darling, one more to round off!
At the end of the night, where your eyes really smarting?
now tell me the truth, wis it cos big Rankin wis farting?

i want to know more about your book.  please tell me/us more about it.  hey, have you ever been on craig ferguson's show?  i would love to hear you both discuss your crazy pasts in scotland.  My book is called Tommy's Tale and it's a novel about a party boy in London who decides he wants to be a father.  It came out in 2002/2003.  And I haven't ever been on Craig's show, strangely, but we go way back.  I first worked with him in his guise of Bing Hitler in the mid eighties.  Here I am on the Jonathan Ross show in the UK talking about my book and X Men2.

From Jane: Apart from those who you love, what do you miss most about Scotland and the UK when you are in America, and what do you miss most about New York when you are in the UK ?  I miss the Scottish sense of humour, and also the common references.  We have a bleaker, darker side to what we find amusing and I love being reminded of that. I also miss deep fried white pudding!!  And when I am away from New York I miss things like the man in Tompkins Square Park who only plays Somewhere Over The Rainbow on his sax, and the energy and the mouthiness of the people.

Mark writes: Jessica Lange is my favorite actress and I was just wondering what turned out to be the most surprising thing about her when you first met and got the chance to work with her?  She told me she washed her hair in a bucket, outdoors on her farm in Minnesota. That was pretty surprising!  And she has a tattoo on her wrist.

Dexter says hi Alan just wanted you to know that I am such a huge fan of yours and I would also like to thank you for your work against circumcision. I too think it's barbaric and unnecessary. In an age where most men don't speak of it for fear of embarrassment it is nice to see that you are so open with your intact status. I love your performances and I look forward to seeing you in more films. Yay, thanks Dexter, and may the foreskin be with you!

Here's how The Daily Show covered the Prop 8 decision this week. Hilarious. And look out for my lovely friend David Mixner...

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Californigaytion
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party


poor honey

Thursday 5 Aug 10

I wish you could see me right now. I am mountain man.  I have been in the forest sweating, chopping down big branches from fir trees, one of which was damaged in a storm last winter and I am only now getting round to tidying it up, poor thing.  I also dragged a load of branches into the woods and started to make a bivouac.  Now I know in America a bivouac means nothing, in fact I am sure it does not resonate much amywhere, but when I was in the Cubs and Scouts we were forever being sent into forests to make them and I discovered today that it's like falling off a bike. So I now have the beginnings of a secret little piney branch hut in the woods to go and hide in.  Woo hoo.

Also today I felt sorry for Honey who was panting in the heat, and I suddenly remembered that I have a set of clippers left over from my days of shaved headedness and so I gave Honey a lttle trim.  Sadly I forgot the golden rule about never going against the grain and she has a couple of weird patches on either side of her tummy. I thought about making them into her initials and renaming her MC Honey, DJ, producer and rapper, but I just left it.

OMFG, The Burlesque trailer is out, people.  Here it is.  And also a little interview I did for my friend Abe Gurko for his site I Mean What?


ask alan and behemoth

Wednesday 4 Aug 10

Woah, but before we get into ask alan, let's take a moment to rejoice at the Prop 8 decision today!! How amazing it is to hear sanity and justice and truth and kindness in relation to equality for gay people.  My favourite part of the decision is the judge's well-constructed and utterly invincible argument that marriage is not something that is entered into as only a means to procreate! There is no testing of your child-bearing potential when a marriage licence is given out so how can it only be applicable to a man and a woman, and how can it not be prejudiced to not allow a same sex couple to enter into that union? Of course the crazy, bigoted and scared religous fanatics have totally missed this key piece of the argument and are still ranting about the decay of the family unit and the danger to children and the future destruction of civilisation as we know it.

Get real, you stupid, ugly, hateful people. The train has left the station.  This is a great day not just for me, but for you too, because eventually the world will be a better place for ALL of us because love and kindness is being held up as something to celebrate, and your fear and shame is being deconstructed and revealed for exactly what it is. Come into the light, it's going to be okay.

Christina asks: which are your favourite artists, songs or albums?? Hihihihi, thanks in advance Alan dearest!!!  My favourite ever album in the world is The Kick Inside by Kate Bush. Anything by her is genius actually.

From Francesca: do you think that your life would be easier or more relaxed if you weren´t so (I don´t find a suitable word i´m sorry =)  ) famous ? I mean if you were a "normal" person that you could just walk down the street and there were not cameras everywhere. Do you think it would be easier or do you love that (or this ) =) I´m sorry  that my english is so bag ;)and i´m sorry that I´m so annoying You're not annoying.  It's quite an interesting question.  I think my life would be easier and more relaxed if i wasn't famous, yes.  Definitely.  There are a lot of extra stressful things that you have to deal with that 'normal' people don't. BUT, there are also things about being famous that allow you to experience great ease and to feel very relaxed that can combat the other stuff. That's my experience anyway. I sort of feel it's been my life so long that I just deal with it. And when it gets a bit weird I have a bitch on this blog about it and that lets off the steam.

Amanda from Pittsburgh is puzzled: How do you maintain such a positive and upbeat attitude?  Whenever I see you on TV in interviews and so on, you always seem so completely happy!  Do you ever get depressed?  If so, how do you get past that? Well Amanda, I keep my perky, cheeky chappy, elfin, pixie countenance by regular ingestions of  weird potions and placenta into my bum. I do get a bit down sometimes, I think that's essential. But it hasn't overwhelmed me for quite some time.

Barb writes: Why Obama.  don,t get me wrong , Bush wasnt a great ppresident either.   Is it because he supports gay rights?   Anyway  I see most politians as con artists.  They say what they think the public wants to hear in order to get elected. And after I read your blog on The Wall St reform i went on line to find out more about it.  I think it will be a good thing but i don't think it thould be in the hands of the feds at least. i would also feel more comgortable if Mr Obama would really focus on getting the countries dept down.  Again sorry bout the spelling.     Ok enough bout politics.   I finally decided to email you because you seem to be a down to earth Person so Thought i give i!
t a shot .   I did have one question though ,   Im a bit confused you were married to a woman and now you are Married to a man which is it gay or bi just curious and u dont have to answer that. And one final thing , before i close.  I am a smoker and i noticed you smoke too.  I just wanted to mention that I found a great alturnative to it .  Its called an electric cigerette .   I used to smoke alot now i only smoke this and the only thing bad about it is nicatine is highly addictive, duh huh,  but its not a carcenagenic.  I get mine .  ant Vapeor4Life.com if you are interested.   Iguess ill bust but this out to the universe and cross my fingers I here from you.  and i know you dont believe but God Bless You yoiu bring alot of Joy and hoe to alot of people.
Dear Babs, bless you.  I can't intellectualise my support of Obama. It is totally about a feeling of kindness and hope and truthfulness.  I think Obama thinks, as I do, that we should be kind to others and take care of those less fortunate than ourselves.  The alternative is to say I don't care about those who slip through the net and I only think of my own personal gain, and I just could never do that.

From Louis:  Thanks very much for your thoughtful answers to all my "authenticity" questions. As I say, I want to believe, and do. It's just the phoniness is so pervasive, so often in  the guise of authenticity (throughout politics, in mass media confessionalism, in the selling of a lifestyle to an entire cohort under the rubric of individualism). This is explicit in some of your show and probably implicit in nearly all of it.  My questions reflected the fact that one of the worst results is that it's conducive to cynicism about everyone. Kind of a Gresham's Law. Come to think of it, maybe it's OK to wonder a little about everyone's honesty as long as you don't dismiss it out of hand.  The other thing is that I'm not cultured enough to understand artifice. By which I mean I think the part of the show that I found "implausible" came just after the intermission when you and Lance Horne talked about having just been on Grinder with one of the sound guys in the theater. Somehow it sank in only in retelling this that it presumably was scripted (prepared... whatever -- not extemporaneous).  On reflection, I guess that makes it about as "dishonest" as makeup, lighting and rehearsal.  Let me rephrase that in what I hope is a more complimentary way: The show and you are so good that, among other things, I guess you confused me about the difference between life and performance.
I can see that -- as with many forms of art -- there may be pitfalls in how the gullible will understand you and the work. But this is a weak excuse for raising questions about the artist's intentions. Or so I imagine I'd learn in a freshman course.
Sorry to be so cluelessly ponderous about your excellent entertainment. 
Thank you so much, Louis. Really that is very complimentary.

Jeff : I was just curious about the genesis of "Beautiful." You mentioned it was written for a 96-year-old on her birthday? What's the full story? I'm intrigued.  My friend Barnaby's dad wrote it for the birthday party of a 96 year old lady. The song was her present.  And the fact that the word 'fuck' is used so often and for such good comedy gain in the song makes me think the lady would have been a lovely person to know.

I asked Meade to give more deets about his foreskin deal: Well, the main website is http://www.foregen.org/ .  The finances are transparent and the donation reports are available on the foreskin restoration forum http://Foreskin-Restoration.net/forum/showthread.php?t=5095.  Right now the 2010 trial needs a total of 100,000 usd and has a little over 3,000 as of the last report.  The donate link is http://www.foregen.org/donate/  There is also a later trial being looked into at CHUV in Switzerland.

Aww Beth is being very nice: I wanted to find an interesting way to tell you that I love your work, think you're terribly interesting, am always amazed at the new things you create and am just generally happy that your energy is in the world but i can't so the previous is all there is.  I also wanted to say that your 'Friday' post made me so sad that that is the trade off you have to deal with for all the things you do that I so dig.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your creativity -- I appreciate it.  Oh, and PS -- you always make the best faces in pictures.  I love them.  Laters.

Oh, and yesterday and today I was finishing off the reading of the audiobook of Behemoth by Scott Westerfield and here is a little vid Scott took when he came to visit us in the studio.

 


Angry people and me

Tuesday 3 Aug 10

I recently wrote a piece for a book. I had to write a letter to myself at age 16.

It was quite an interesting exercise.  Of course there is a lot one could say to oneself at age 16.  Lots of advice, lots of hints on how to avoid pain, crazy people, STDs.  But actually I believe that if we arrive somewhere in life where we are happy with ourselves and our lot, how can we have any regrets or wish anything in our past to have changed? For even the most awful, painful bits have contributed to the person you have become today, and therefore changing or wishing any of it had not happened would undermine or alter your present state of bliss.

I really do believe that, I think.  But of course, having the opportunity to write a letter to my little scared, unformed, 16 year old self got me thinking.  And I have to say, as I do in the letter which will be published in the book, that there is a person who played quite a large and very destructive role in my life that I think I could have happily not met and still ended up where I am now.

We all have patterns in our behaviour and our desires. Sometimes we don't even understand these patterns or become aware of them till many years later, perhaps even till after we have conquered them or broken the cycle.  I can see several patterns in my life and behaviour from this great old age of 45 looking back through the ages. The one I keep focussing on recently, since I wrote that piece, is that I have repeatedly tried to fix angry people. In some way I felt that I could help them, maybe even that their anger was my fault, and it was my duty to be with them and help them get better. Of course that is all a load of bollocks. It wasn't my fault that they were angry. It probably wasn't their fault either. But I would never be able to fix or change them, and in trying they would only make me miserable, and in one case try to destroy me.

The reason I did this was it was familiar. I grew up with anger, with a parent whose rage was so present that I thought it was normal, and that I could affect a change in for the better it if I tried really hard. Of course my attempts were probably red rag to a bull and made the situation worse, which I suppose led to a vicious circle of me trying harder and them being more angry and frustrated and taking that out on me, and so on and so on.

It was many years and several adult realtionships later that I saw this pattern and I stopped it.  And so I wish I had never met a certain young man at the after party for the first night of Titanic - the Musical in New York in 1997.  I wish I had walked away and not  spent so many years trying to fix him and putting up with his shit. I think I would still be in the happy place I am now without that experience.

Maybe I should have known. I mean, come on. The show was called Titanic, after all.


frollick!

Monday 2 Aug 10

ah me. Today the poor make up lady on The Good Wife was very focussed on the monitor watching for little specks of glitter glinting in the light on Eli's face.  This is after she had to remove the glittery nail varnish from his nails.

I just got back from a lovely dinner for my friend David's birthday.  It was on the roof of his building and it made me feel so happy that I live in New York City.  I did have rather a lot of carbs long after the time I feel comfortable to do so but what the hell, you only live once, huh?!

Here is a bit of a behnd the scenes film from the Spice Girls  movie, and then a weird display I saw once in Frankfurt airport...


The Ile de feu

Sunday 1 Aug 10

One of the great things about being on Fire Island is that it has very patchy cellular service and that, combined with the fact that to get there you must go on a ferry for half an hour and once you arrive there are no cars, makes for a real feeling of escaping from the rat race and being in a sort of bucolic queer culture bubble. I like it.

My show on Friday at the Whyte Hall was really fun. Thanks to everyone who came along and sorry to those who couldn't get in. This first picture on the right is of us rehearsing and working out the running order! I did a new song for the first time: Jerry Herman's I won't Send Roses from the musical Mack and Mabel. I sang it because Jerry Herman had donated the piano that Lance Horne played onstage with me, and also some of my happiest times on Fire Island happened in my late dear friend Beau Clarke's house, which had been previously owned by Jerry Herman. There was a loo that still had Jerry's zebra skin wallpaper and a framed award on the wall that he must have forgotten to take with him when he left.

Saturday was a blur of seeing friends and swimming and having a massage and eating delicious food looking at the ocean.  I know, exhausting, right? Last night was the huge Pines Party on the beach. It's an annual big dance party which benefits the Fire Island Pines Property Owners' Associaton Charitable Foundation and the the Stonewall Foundation.  So all in a good cause, and every year it is a real event. This year's theme was Poseidon, and there was a whole compund on the beach built to resemble the Lost City of Atlantis.

There were little tents where you could be covered in glitter, masseurs, dancing water nymphs in cages, and lots of dancing people having a good old laugh.  Right now I still have glittery nail varnish on and in the morning I am back to playing Eli Gold in The Good Wife.  Wouldn't it be funny if Eli was a secret raver?



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