October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Theater: Broadway’s Spider Man is Improving

Br Roger Friedman

HollywoodNews.com: Well, well. “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” has actually improved. I saw it on Friday night, and there were no glitches or stops of any kind. The flying and all the special effects were absolutely thrilling. After about 100 performances, the aerialists actually seem comfortable and are having fun with the show.

Of course, past mistakes led to yesterday’s three fines from OSHA amounting to $12,500 apiece. But those fines were for old business. “Spider Man” now looks like it never had a problem. And now it has an actual ending–a pretty cool one, in fact, that brings the audience to their feet. The ending is going to be a big deal because it’s what people remember about a show.

Let’s face it: “Spider Man” has a weak book. That is never going to change drastically, although there have been lots of tweaks, cuts, and small additions. They make a big difference. The second act is still very slight when it comes to the story. But the set pieces are great, especially those involving the Sinister Six. And Patrick Page and Michael Mulheren are superb comic actors. The main problem: the story of Arachne is still a time sponge. Although beautifully staged, I would move that first act Arachne number with the loom to the second act–keeping the Green Goblin in Act I and Spider woman in Act II. But no one asked me.

Another improvement: it did feel like U2′s producer, Steve Lillywhite, has had an effect on the music. It rocks now. In the past, the music had a dead feeling to it. It’s much more supple, and defined. Maybe I’m wrong, but it also seemed like the song “Picture This,” which used to sound like an outtake from “Who’s Next,” now feels like a proper U2 production.

Will “Spider Man” open on March 15th? There’s a sign on the box office window that says it will. Anything could change, as we well know. But after Friday night’s show, I say they should go for it. The critics will never like it. “Spider Man” is a spectacle. It’s not “Kiss Me Kate.” But the mostly sold out audience loved it. There laughs in the right places last night.

And there was awe at the flying. I am in awe of Reeve Carney, TV Carpio, and Jennifer Damiano–as actors they are required to do really tricky acrobatics. It takes courage and they’ve got tons of it. “Spider Man” may have been a costly public experiment, but these actors have soldiered through it brilliantly.

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About Roger Friedman

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411.com column in April after 10 years with Fox News where he helped create Foxnews.com. Friedman’s prior experience on the Internet is with MSN’s Cinemania column. Friedman also wrote the Intelligencer column as a contributing editor at "New York Magazine," where he covered the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. In addition, Friedman has been involved in book publishing and filmmaking (Only the Strong Survive). For more about Roger go to Showbiz411.com

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