PHOTOS: Inside the Screen Actors Guild Awards

Posted on 29 Jan 2015 at 11:18am

In addition to being a standup comedian and local stage actor, Paul J. Williams is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and as such, was permitted to add his name to a lottery awarding tickets to folks other than big-name nominees and Hollywood wannabes. Accordingly, he was actually able to attend the ceremony last Sunday, which aired on TNT. Here is Paul’s journey from ticketholder to red carpet walker and proud union member.

By 9:30 p.m., we decided we had had enough. Nibbled on desserts, had some water and headed toward … the gift bag tent. Big canvas bag filled with goodies, mostly beauty stuff. As we left, a woman came up to Carol and said, “I’ve been wanting to tell you all night — your dress is gorgeous!” Carol felt like Cinderella and I like her fairy godfather.


A. Maceo Smith High School video goes viral

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 5:10pm

Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 5.06.13 PM

A. Maceo Smith High School theater arts teacher Scot Pankey made a video with his students that has gone viral with more than 4 million hits in less than a week. No one here in the office knows him, but among us we have hundreds of mutual Facebook friends. When we watched it, we all loved the way he and his students interact.Post away. Let’s get them up to 5 million hits by tomorrow.

The high school is near South Loop 12 and I-45.


A bit of Dallas LGBT history for you

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 4:04pm

Today, Chad Mantooth, the associate advertising director here at Dallas Voice, sent me a post he found on linking to a “historical photo” showing “Three supporters of Dallas’ first Gay Pride Parade — 1972.” The poster notes that written on the back on the original photo is the date June 24, 1972.

The link carries you to the website of the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History, where you see this photo:

Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 2.58.44 PM

(I lightened this in Photoshop and increased the contrast, just so you can see the women and their signs better.)

Read the signs they carry: “Tired of hiding — Want to be free” and “Don’t laugh — I may be happier than you.”

It makes you realize how very far we’ve come, even though we still have a long way yet to go.


Joel Grey comes out as gay, no one bats an eye

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 2:47pm

Grey, in his Oscar-winning role alongside Liza Minnelli

It is perhaps the biggest piece of non-news of the year to date: Joel Grey, the Academy Award-winning star of Cabaret and a Broadway legend for roles such as the Wizard in Wicked, has, at age 82, finally comes out publicly as gay, in an interview with People magazine.

If you hear crickets chirping, I’m not surprised. Despite being the father of actress Jennifer Grey, Joel has frequently been at the fore of gay causes. So why hide it for so long? (As Nathan Lane noted when he came out years ago, “I’m single, I’m 40, I do musical theater …. you do the math!”)

The People interview sheds little light on that matter, other than the fact he grew up “in a different time.” But those times have long passed, and now in his ninth decade, you’d think he would have come out long ago. But no.

Ah, well. Better late than never. Welcome to the party, Joel! Your toaster oven is on its way.


International Film Critics name ‘Boyhood’ best film of last 2 years

Posted on 28 Jan 2015 at 8:18am

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in the best picture of 2014 and 2013, ‘Boyhood’

The International Online Film Critics Poll, an organization of which I am a voting member, only polls their constituent critics once every two years (unlike most groups, which meet annually to vote), which provides an interesting mix of apples to oranges comparisons — is last year’s best picture better (or worse) than this year’s? — which makes it an interesting amalgam of contenders. This weekend marked the conclusion of the most recent biennium, and it saw the Texas-shot feature Boyhood named the best film of 2013 or 2014, and its director, Richard Linklater, the best director of the last two years. The film’s co-star, Patricia Arquette, was named best supporting actress.

Fellow Texan Wes Anderson was also honored when his film The Grand Budapest Hotel took three prizes — for best ensemble cast, best production design and best original music score.

Among the other big winners were Michael Keaton as best actor for Birdman; Cate Blanchett as best actress for Blue Jasmine; and J.K. Simmons as best supporting actor for Whiplash. Gravity took three awards — best cinematography, film editing and visual effects — and 12 Years a Slave and Her both took one of the screenwriting prizes. (For the record, I voted for seven of the eventual winners, and among the 60 nominations I made, 29 made the final list.)

Lest you think newness is preferable, of the 14 winners, seven were from 2013; seven from 2014. And to highlight the internationality of the selections, the presence of nominees like The Great Beauty and The Hunt showed the diversity from the 20 nations represented among the voting critics, from the U.S. to Mexico to Poland, Romania, Pakistan and Estonia.

This is the fourth biannual poll. Previous best picture winners include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011-12), Inglourious Basterds (2009-10) and Slumdog Millionaire (2007-08).

A full list of 2013-14 nominees and winners (in bold) is below:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty; Roman Polanski, Venus in Fur.

Best Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman; Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue JasmineAdele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant.

Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, Birdman; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Mark Ruffalo, FoxcatcherJ.K. Simmons, Whiplash.

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Emma Stone, Birdman; Sally Hawkins, Blue JasminePatricia Arquette, BoyhoodJune Squibb, Nebraska.

Best Ensemble Cast: 12 Years a Slave; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game.

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman; Boyhood; Calvary; Her; The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave; Gone Girl; Snowpiercer; The Imitation Game; The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Cinematography: Birdman; Gravity; Ida; Nebraska; The Great Beauty.

Best Production Design: Gravity; Her; Mr. Turner; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game.

Best Film Editing: Birdman; Boyhood; Gravity; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Original Score: Gravity; Her; Interstellar; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game.

Best Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Interstellar; Gravity; Guardians of the Galaxy; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.


Bijoux to close Feb. 28

Posted on 27 Jan 2015 at 1:44pm

image003Bijoux, the French-style fine-dining restaurant in Inwood Village which I selected as my top table of 2006, had decided to close its doors one month from now, according to a press release.

The owners — chef Scott Gottlich and his wife, sommelier Gina — have decided to concentrate on their resto The Second Floor at the Galleria and work on future projects.

Aside from being my favorite restaurant of its first year, Bijoux was also my restaurant of choice for a Valentine’s Day and birthday dinners. Hopefully the Gottlichs will launch an equally wonderful place in the near future.


Last chance to cast your ballot in the Readers Voice Awards!

Posted on 27 Jan 2015 at 10:20am

RVAEvery year, Dallas Voice turns over the editorial decisions to our readers, allowing them to be the critics, op/ed writers, trendsetters and opinion-makers. We call it the Readers Voice Awards, and there are nine categories representing about 120 awards — everything from best “Sunday Funday” option (is it brunch in the ‘hood or a walk around Klyde Warren Park?) to best pharmacy to sexiest bartender, favorite thrift store, best local stage actor and top chef (stalwarts like Stephan Pyles and Abraham Salum, or do you prefer a newcomer or straight ally like Blythe Beck and John Tesar?).

The issue doesn’t arrive until March, but the voting ends this weekend. If you haven’t voted yet, there’s still time, then. Click here and you can weigh in on what you like about queer Dallas. You don’t have to vote in every category, just as many as you want, but if you do vote, you’re entered in a drawing to win two tickets to see Chicago at Bass Hall, as well as dinner for two at Dish and $500 in cash!


Purple Foundation becomes No Tie Dinner’s presenting sponsor

Posted on 26 Jan 2015 at 3:49pm

Purple shirt… no tie … it was obvious

The Purple Foundation has long been a supporter of AIDS organizations, especially AIDS Services of Dallas, but the all-volunteer group is really doubling down for the upcoming No Tie Dinner and Dessert Party, the primary fundraiser for ASD each year. For the landmark 10th dinner, the Purple Foundation will be the official “presenting sponsor” — the first ever such sponsorship deal.

“This year has been Purple Foundation’s most successful year, and we could not be more thrilled to be able to celebrate that success by expanding our support of our primary beneficiary,” said Blake Baker, the foundation’s president.

The No Tie Dinner takes place March 28, and the Purple Party follows about a month later.


Thought of the day

Posted on 26 Jan 2015 at 3:09pm

If Sarah Palin were any stupider, she’d be Michele Bachmann.


Drive-by tasting: Yolk

Posted on 23 Jan 2015 at 11:44am

All-star breakfast at Yolk

First-look review: The Yolk’s on you

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a restaurant by its opening? That that issue after what happened earlier this week with Yolk.

I was surprised to get the opening-day invitation less than a week before the doors opened. Usually, you get a press release promoting the opening while the restaurant finds its legs — a soft opening, friends-and-family practice services, a press walk-thru — prior to the grand opening. That didn’t happen with Yolk. Monday was the preview and the only sample prior to the grand opening on Tuesday morning. Perhaps, I figured, they didn’t need to rehearse — this is the seventh shop and the chain. They must know how to do this.

But Yolk is an import from Chicago. This is Dallas.

The opening was an unqualified disaster. It was supposed to start at 6 p.m., though I arrived 30 minutes early (with their permission) for a sneak peek. By 6:15 p.m., the doors where still shuttered with about 70 people lined up outside. Yet not a single piece of bacon was frying on the griddle, nor had a single egg been scrambled. They didn’t even offer me so much as a glass of water while I cooled by heels, or provide a press kit. When nothing had changed by 6:20, I left.

I wasn’t the only one. Those who stayed griped on social media about the paltry food (in quantity and diversity). Not the most auspicious of starts.

Maybe those practice services would have been a good idea after all.

Other than the location — the former Screen Door and Café des Artistes space in One Arts Plaza in the Arts District — Yolk doesn’t feel like Dallas at all. On the menu, they add the parenthetical “sausage” after “chorizo.” Perhaps they don’t know what that is in Chicago; Dallasites know better.


The sunnyside up interior at Yolk

Actually, I didn’t meet a single staffer who was local — everyone (the owner, the publicist, the manager) came down from Illinois. I asked the owner, Taki Kastanis, why he chose Dallas as his first store outside of the Midwest. “Dallas is awesome!” was his brief but enthusiastic response. “Why, thanks,” I said, “but maybe some specifics?” He noted that Dallas and Chicago have a lot in common, both being cities with many newcomers. Then he walked away.

Still, I wondered why hadn’t done a little bit more research for the local market. Yolk is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. — excellent if you wanna get breakfast on the way to work or are looking for a brunchy lunch spot (both lunch and breakfast items are served all day).

But the Arts District is a nocturnal neighborhood that sometimes doesn’t get hopping until 9 o’clock at night. Why not offer a late-night menu for post-theater munchies? (Yolk also doesn’t seem quite high-end enough for its neighbors.)

These are the complaints that twirl through your head when you’re at a restaurant opening and there’s no food.

So how is Yolk at the food?

So far, so good.

The menu is extensive, though much of conjures variations on a theme. There are eggs (benedict, scrambled, omelets) and French toast and crepes; bacon, sausage and beef burgers; breads and buns and coffee. No real surprises. (And can anyone tell me why you have to pay at the counter at every breakfast spot instead of the table? It’s some unwritten rule, I guess.)

For my first visit, I ordered the all-star breakfast, which seemed like the best option for a sampling of the menu: Two eggs any style (I got mine scrambled), two slices of bacon, two sausage links, two pieces of French toast, plus that most hackneyed of breakfast plate clichés, the orange wheel.

The bacon, hickory-smoked and thick-cut, was chewy and filling, if not cooked to the crispness I personally prefer. I’m a huge fan of sausage links, and these were good. So was the toast, make of challah bread with a slight crunch on the edges I enjoyed. Also good was the maple syrup — authentically viscous, not the water sugar glue you often get. The plate even arrived with bottle of catsup and hot sauce without asking (hot sauce is a go for me; catsup not so much).

The eggs, however, felt slightly corporate — although ordered “scrambled,” they arrived more as an omelet: flat folds of protein and cholesterol that lacked fluff or texture. I envisioned they being designed to fit conveniently on an English muffin for a to-go order rather than convey the best the eggs have to offer.

Then again, they were eggs. Not much you can do to ruin them, I guess. And the coffee is … coffee, neither great nor bad.


South of the border benny, with chorizo (that’s sausage)

Which is, perhaps, why the blundered opening bothered me so. A breakfast restaurant is actually quite destinational — not for an anniversary, perhaps, but you need to want to have diner food to seek it out. And breakfasts tend to be more about familiarity than innovation. You need to win us early, and get us coming back.

I did go back, the next morning. I ordered a different selection — specifically, the south of the border “benny” (for “benedict”) featuring the aforementioned chorizo on an English muffin topped with poached eggs and hollandaise. The hollandaise flavorless — it lacked the necessary zing from lemon juice — but the side of melon (and, again, orange slices) did cut the heat and greasiness from the chorizo. But this was almost too much food for an office worker to consume in one sitting.

I’ll give Yolk a chance, at least if I happen to be in the area. But it could use improvements. They should offer free guest wifi, the kind of perk that would woo eaters away from a drive-thru or Denny’s and make this a destination diner. And I still think they need to consider being open late, at least on weekends when there are performances at the Winspear, Wyly, Meyerson or City Performance Hall. With all due apologies to Sean Connery, that’s the Dallas way.

Yolk at One Arts Plaza.