Jack Kroll

Ruckus In River City

Who can possibly dislike "The Music Man"? Meredith Willson's monster 1957 hit musical (later a huge success as a movie) is a squeaky-clean masterpiece, an amazing feat of creativity by Willson, who wrote the book, music and lyrics.

Wild Wild West

Watching the new Broadway production of Sam Shepard's 1980 play, "True West," you are forcibly reminded of the ineffable power of the theater, despite all the noise made by the unlive arts--movies, TV, cyberia.

What Makes David Run

The story of David Geffen is a crazy American epic. The most epic thing about Tom King's biography is its length--670 pages. This means that almost every page is both fascinating and boring.

The Two-Party System

The most bizarre event of the New York theater season is the coming of two separate shows based on, of all things, a narrative poem from the 1920s, Joseph Moncure March's "The Wild Party." Sensational and shocking in 1928, the book was banned in Boston for its bawdy story of sex, drugs and violence among the beautiful and damned of the jazz age.

Great Dame

There is nothing like the dame--Australia's Dame Edna Everage, the world's most celebrated drag act. She arrives on the Broadway stage, descending a rococo staircase, a vision in mauve, flashing huge faux diamonds like the headlights on a fire truck.

Burnin' Love

The success of women athletes like the Williams sisters and the World Cup soccer champions has showcased the inexorable drive by women to cultivate and display their power and strength.

Dreaming With 'Eyes Wide Shut'

After three years of false rumors, and a maddening mix of secretiveness and hype, Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" is here. The 13th and last film of the legendary director, who died with shocking suddenness in March days after making the final cut, turns out to be his most personal work.

The Sins Of The Saints

The most controversial of the new filmmakers is Neil LaBute, whose two movies, "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors," dealt with sexual brutality in yuppiedom.

Close-Up On Will

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE'' ISN'T going to come near big-bang champ ""Armageddon's'' 1998 box-office gross of more than $200 million. But the romantic comedy about the young Bard is the year's big surprise, winning three Golden Globe awards and sure to grab a garland of Oscar nominations this week.

The Movies

SOME SAY THE 2OTH CENTURY was actually born in 1914, when the guns of August blew away the covenants of the 19th century. But there's a strong case to be made for Dec. 28, 1895, when the first paid public showing of motion pictures took place in Paris, presented by Louis and Auguste Lumiere. (Check out that incredibly fortuitous name, the Light Brothers, creating the movies, the art of light!) Although Thomas Edison had invented the Kinetoscope in 1889, his device could be seen by only one...

Wannabes

The Spice Girls are the biggest British export since the Beatles, and they've spawned a slew of shameless imitators. Meet some of the other Spices in the rack.YOU THINK WE'VE gone mad.

Altman And All That Jazz

AT 71, ROBERT ALTMAN IS STILL THE most challenging of American filmmakers. Now, when the seductive goddess of special effects has highjacked the muse, when a movie ticket sends you on a dizzying ride rather than a voyage of discovery, Altman subverts all formulas.

Fast Lane To Comedy

THE MARQUEE ABOVE NEW YORK'S ST. James Theatre bears a cartoon of Nathan Lane in ancient Roman togs lugging a huge FORUM. In logo veritas. Lane does carry the new revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Broadway--Serious?

BROADWAY LOVES TO CREATE A NEW star, and it senses one in "Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk's" Savion Glover. Still, the question remains: can a show with such a strong political dimension dance its way to Broadway success?

Love On The Run

A DRIAN NOBLE'S PRODUCTION OF _B_A Midsummer Night's Dream _b_with the Royal Shakespeare Company begins in a red room with Hippolyta sitting on a trapeze.

Send In The Clown

IT'S REHEARSAL FOR THE upcoming Broadway revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." Nathan Lane, as the sly Roman slave Pseudolus, is languishing on a couch surrounded by dancing courtesans, one of them wielding a whip.

It's A Hell Of A Town

YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL, SAYS the hoary adage. Al Pacino as New York City Mayor John Pappas is trying to make his _B_City Hall _b_ a place you don't have to fight, a place that cares, that gets things done.

Jane Austen Does Lunch

How about a lifetime Achievement Oscar for Jane Austen at the next Academy Awards? Might as well, in view of the outpouring of films based on the work of the great 19th-century English novelist.

Apocalypse Soon

STRANGE DAYS DOESN'T JUST SIT THERE ON the screen and invite you to watch. It instantly yanks you into a dazzling opening sequence, a frenetic heist in which the careening camera makes you one of the heisters, breaking through doors, lurching down stairways, whacking people around.

Presidential Aspirations

Gore Vidal knows his audience. Palimpsest (435 pages. Random House. $27.50), his long-awaited memoir, opens with a cascade of up-per-crusty names: Janet Lee Bouvier Auchincloss, Nina Gore Vidal Auchincloss Olds, Hugh Dudley Auchincloss Jr., Sen.

Crooks, Creeps And Cons

In an age when all movie genres are being subverted, postmodernized, de-constructed, film noir is a tough genre to mess around with. For many true movie fiends, noir is the key American movie type, and the most fun when it's done right.

Phantoms In The Dark

THE CRYPTOGRAM is David Mamet's word for the hidden meaning of our lives, the secret message that we can never really decode. His painful, powerful new play, receiving its U.S. premiere by the American Repertory Theatre in Boston, is his most personal work.

What Happens When Spies Collide

The olympian gods are no more, but artists still need muses. The unlikely muse for Tom Stoppard's play Hapgood was the late Richard Feynman, the eccen-tric American physicist and Nobel laureate whose books introduced Stoppard to the world of quantum physics.

Who's Harassing Whom?

If there were a nobel prize for literary Opportunism, Michael Crichton would have accumulated thousands of frequent-flier miles to Sweden. Crichton, a supersmart cookie, bones up on trendissimo topics (""Rising Sun,'' ""Jurassic Park'') and then uses the best-seller list as a trampoline to vault into blockbuster movies.

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