May 2020

Celebrating the Arts since May 2012

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  • By Michael Jacobo

Finally, after so many months. It is finally here. HBO Max is the latest streaming service, courtesy of WarnerMedia. It lands in the middle of the Streaming Wars, pitting it against the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Apple TV+. What chance does it stand? How could it ever be as great — or better — than the other streamers?

It doesn’t hurt that a.) it has been hyped for about a year and a half, and b.) they have some great content for subscribers, and I mean that sincerely. Last summer, it was announced that Reese Witherspoon and Greg Berlanti’s production companies had struck development deals with the streamer, and that was just a peak at what to expect. Since then, HBO Max has acquired series like the Gossip Girl reboot, DC’s Doom Patrol, docu-series Expecting Amy, the quirky comedy Search Party, as well as films such as the recently acquired An American Pickle, starring Seth Rogen in dual roles.

In addition to their impressive original content, HBO Max will also feature classic and comtemporary films as well as HBO’s catalogue (it should also be noted that current subscribers of HBO Now and Go will automatically have Max included in their subscription. If you have HBO as an add-on to a separate subscription — like say, Amazon Prime — you will still have to pay for Max).

HBO Max premieres May 27th.


FX’s Mrs. America is streaming now on HULU (Starring Cate Blanchett)


  • Photo Courtesy of FX/HULU

The United States can feel more divided than ever. Right vs. left, city vs. rural, blue state vs. red state. It is rare to find someone without an opinion today. But those who have been around for a while will remind us that—believe it or not—we have been here before. Hulu is helping remind us of another time with Mrs. America, brainchild of creator Dahvi Waller.

In the late 1970s America seemed destined to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, finally codifying the equality of the sexes in all matters of business. With wide support in Congress, and a full 35 of 38 state legislatures on board it was nearly there. Enter Phyllis Schlafley. By mobilizing a coalition of women under the premise that the amendment would disadvantage housewives in matters of property, alimony and the draft, Schlafly was able to defeat the ultimate prize of second-wave feminists and halt progress in its tracks. 

More than a history lesson, Mrs. America brings the story to life with a knock-out, all-star cast headed by Cate Blanchett as Schlafly herself, and includes Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm and Elizabeth Banks as Jill Ruckelshaus, among others who round out the blockbuster lineup. 

Mrs. America” is now streaming on HULU.


Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind premieres May 5th on HBO (Natalie Wood and Daughter Courtney Wagner, 1975)


  • Photo Courtesy of HBO

On November 29, 1981, Hollywood actor Natalie Wood died by drowning off Catalina Island. The circumstances surrounding her death have been widely discussed and the subjects of countless television specials, documentaries, even podcasts. Wood’s life has been repackaged as a tragic story, one of conspiracy theories, one that fits a true crime narrative. Though her contemporaries are awarded Lifetime Achievement awards, their own retrospectives, etc., Wood’s accomplishments as an actor and a mother have been overshadowed by her untimely death. However, one documentary aims to change that.

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind is an upcoming HBO documentary that offers a full-look into who Wood was, a life that goes beyond her life in movies. The documentary has a unique eye, mainly in part to the narrative being led by Wood’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, as well as others who knew her best. In addition to the personal interviews, the documentary will also feature never-before-seen home movies, letters, diaries, as well as artifacts, that paint Natalie Wood as a mother, friend, actor, and champion of the arts.

Gregson Wagner is also a co-producer, sharing credit with the author of Wood’s biography. Laurent Bouzereau (Five Came Back, Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking) directed as well as produced the film.

Catch “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind” on HBO this month.


Fun things are happening at the Pasadena Playhouse at Home


  • By Arlene Winnick

Thank you to the Pasadena Playhouse for making a quarantine theater lover’s dream come true.  The Playhouse is offering Adam Epstein’s highly entertaining (and always sold out) course, The Broadway Musical and America, online as part of the Playhouse’s ongoing commitment to enriching its community.  Per Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman, “In these challenging times it is more important than ever for the Playhouse to continue its role as a vital community resource and a center for theater learning.”

The course offers a broad overview of the musical theater from Oklahoma to the present focusing on how the social and political historic landscape influenced this uniquely American art form.  There will be guest speakers, lively discussions and background on the memorable moments in musical history. Epstein is a lively animated instructor with forty-plus Tony awards and nominations (he was a producer of Hairspray, Amadeus et al). Weekly classes start May 12 thru July 21 – the full syllabus is available online.  Thrilled to see some of my all-time favorites included: Hamilton, Wicked, Gypsy.

The Pasadena Playhouse has not forgotten their youngest audiences. Playtime with Miss Janet on Saturday mornings let’s children explore their imagination with song, storytelling, games and more.  Storytime with Miss Janet lets older children (7-10) channel their creativity through theater play as they discover their own unique voice.  Both are led by award-winning actress and educator, Janet Fontaine.

For more details, click here.

What's Hot!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve adjusted our content this month.

LAArtsOnline now features two NEW pages: BOOKS and EXTRA! We’ll look at what’s hot in the world of books and reading along with some suggestions of EXTRA! things to check out, read about, and do!

Stay positive, stay safe.

Paige Petrone
Founder / Publisher


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