2010

I Bought A Blue Car Today at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

I finally took my cabaret show home.

I did three performances of I Bought A Blue Car Today at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the Assembly Hall, the historic venue on the Mound, the former home of the Church of Scotland and the Scottish parliament. There is a statue of John Knox in the courtyard, and I wondered (aloud) during the show what he would make of me and what I had to say!

In many ways, it was a full circle experience for me. I cut my teeth at the Edinburgh Fringe as a young drama student doing cabaret in the mid eighties, with Victor and Barry.  They went on to become the festival darlings for many years. But I hadn't performed on the Fringe since 1991, and so coming back with a cabaret of my own was a really amazing feeling. I'm older, wiser and ballsier, and finally able to share it with my homeland in a show that has so much to do with my Scottishness both in content and in the style of performance. So this was good times.

Here's a little report from NY1 about my run in Edinburgh.



The Good Wife Season Two

Eli Gold returned to The Good Wife's second season as a series regular.  I was really happy to go back and explore this character some more.  This season saw Eli on the campaign trail to re-elect Peter Florrick as State's Attorney.  This also meant his relationship with Alicia was stretched and ultimately strengthened as the tow became to respect and care for eahc other.

On a personal level we  discover that Eli is a divorcee with an 18 year old daughter, and he has a brief romance with a young student he encounters on the campiagn trail played by America Ferrera.

The writers on this show are so amazing and I felt that they gave me some great stuff to do again, and the way that Eli showed a softer side was really fasicnating to play.  Ultimately he is still a political animal but that ruthlessness was pretty comical on many occasions too.

Here is a little Eli tribute someone made and then the behind the scenes videos CBS.com asked me to make...

 

 



The Smurfs

I voice Gutsy Smurf in The Smurfs, a Scottish gruff-but-he-has-a-soft-side-too kinda guy. Well, not a guy. A smurf.

 



Uncut and Blue

In July performed my cabaret show in California at the Broad Stages in Santa Monica and at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, and then back on the east coast at Fire Island's Whyte Hall.

For reasons too complicated to list, i.e., I can't remember, the SF show was entitled I Bought A Blue Car Today and the Santa Monica and Fire Island ones were Alan Cumming: Uncut.

 



The Runaway

The Runaway is a six part mini-series for Sky TV in the Uk, based on Martina Cole's novel of the same name.  I play Desrae, a transvestite singer and owner of a club in London's Soho in the swinging sixties.

I really liked this character initially because he was strong and proud in the face of so much adversity.  I then really liked the fact that he and his gangster boyfriend (the amazing Ken Stott, with whom I worked years ago in Plunkett and Macleane) were actually the most loving and stable couple in the whole story! Then I really liked the relationship he had with Cathy, the runaway of the title, played by Joanna Vanderham.  He is basically the matriarch of the whole thing. Oh, and he doesn't get shot or beaten to death like most of the rest of the characters!!

So it was a new and interesting thing for me, and then came the most challenging part: going to South Africa and transforming into a laydee.  That was a nightmare. I hate to veet (or nair) all the hair off my body and then there were the shoes (ouch), the bras (ouch), the  nails (ouch) and the many hours in make-up (ouch ouch). I have a new-found respect for women after doing this.  It seems interesting to me that so much of a woman's appearance, or in the way a woman is desired, is designed to keep her in bondage or to make her vulnerable. Very interesting, Mr Bond.

Anyway, some days I felt like a lovely lady, like the scenes when I performed numbers in my club. Then, on other days I felt like an bloke in a bad wig. But I guess that's the whole kaleidescope of Desrae.



Who Do You Think You Are?

I took part in the BBC series and found out some really shocking things about my maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling.



Feinstein's at the Loews Regency

 

I took a trimmed down version of my cabaret show (me, Lance Horne on piano and Yair Evnine on cello and guitar) uptown to Feinstein's, for the first of a two week run.

Initially I felt I wasn't the right choice for such a venue, and maybe I'm not, but what is the right choice anyway?! All I know is, I really enjoyed the challenege of taking my songs and my opinions and stories to a demographic that hadn't neccesarily sought me out.  It felt actually really exciting, and kept me on my toes both physically and intellectually.  So, another of those 'Don't judge a book by its cover, cos maybe it's not the book but they way you read it or the way it reads you, that matters!' learning curves.

I don't put quotes from reviews up on this blog, but please forgive me this once, as the New York Times called me 'a modern day Noel Coward'!  I mean, come on!. It doesn't get much better than that.



Almost In Love

Almost in Love was written and directed by my friend Sam Neave.  It\'s a film made up of two 45 minute shots. Yes, only two very long shots in the whole film!  He had shown me the first part -  set on a rooftop patio looking back at the NYC skyline - earlier in the year and I was really impressed, and so when he asked me to play a character in the second half of the movie, set a few years later, I jumped at the chance.

We shot in a beautiful house in the Hamptons, and the story picks up at the wedding party of one of the characters. It\'s late, everyone has been drinking and old buttons are freshly pressed.

What was amazing about doing this was that the end of the 45 minute take had to coincide with the sun coming up.  So we had a really weird working schedule: getting up at 1am or so and getting ready, having a few drinks to get us in the proper party mood (!) and then shooting till daylight. Then we\'d stay up and have another few drinks before going to bed again.  Most days I had to go back to NYC to shoot The Good Wife or have meetings, so I was pretty exhausted by the end of the week.  But it\'s an experience I wouldn\'t have missed for the world.

Incidentally, Sam and his wife Marjan (who plays my date in the movie) showed me the first half of Almost In Love the night that I had been offered the role of Eli Gold in The Good Wife. 

Here\' s a little film I made after shooting ended one morning, and then the trailer...



Masterpiece Mystery

I went to Boston and shot my third season as host of Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.



The Good Wife

I joined the first season of The Good Wife on CBS as a guest star to play Eli Gold for a few episodes. The show stars Julianna Margulies as Alicia, whose politician husband, played by Chris Noth, has been involved in a sex scandal.

Playing Eli is fascinating for me because he is a grown-up. He is a man in a suit. They even put grey in my hair, which is quite funny considering my hair was colored, so they were actually putting grey on top of color on top of grey! He is an image consultant, a reputation rehabilitator, and he is Jewish. He is a million miles away from me. Also I was filming in gaps between shooting Burlesque with Cher and Christina Aguilera, in which I play a club door whore with black nail varnish and Comme des Garcons outfits, so the whole experience was a little schizophrenic.

But I learned something.  Initially I thought I didn't understand Eli, he seemd so far away from me and I was unused to the process of TV series acting. But then I just altered my opinion of him and instead of thinking I don't relate to him because he has a life that I don't comprehend, I thought he is exotic like every human being and I can understand that.