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Pop Culture Bites: August 12, 2014

The entertainment world is in mourning today as it learns the sad news of Robin Williams’ death. We’ve gathered some of the most moving reactions. ‘Our Cate’ is currently performing in Sydney Theatre Company’s The Maids in New York, getting some interesting reactions from critics, while audiences can get their first look at the upcoming Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. 

Tributes flow for Robin Williams

Comedians, actors and everybody around the world is today paying tribute to Robin Williams, who passed away in the early hours of this morning. US President Barack Obama wrote:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted:

Monty Python funny-man Eric Idle wrote:

Michael J Fox tweeted:

Even Sesame Street had this to say:

Cate Blanchett thrills/mystifies New York critics in STC’s The Maids

Cate Blanchett is currently starring opposite Isabelle Huppert in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Maids (pictured above) in a limited season at New York’s Lincoln Center. While the production was generally positively received in Australia, New York critics aren’t quite sure what to make of Benedict Andrews’ unique vision. But they’ve been almost unanimous in their praise of Cate Blanchett. New York Times critic Ben Brantley said:

“It is loud, lurid and often impossible to follow, even if you know the play beforehand. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. That’s largely because of Ms. Blanchett, who won the Oscar this year for Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and has been seen to dazzling effect in New York with the Sydney Theater Company productions of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Uncle Vanya.” Once again, she proves herself to be the ruling mutation master among contemporary actresses.”

But the response from some critics hasn’t been so glowing, including Time Out New York’s David Cote, who wrote:

“If you couldn’t afford a ticket, or didn’t have the social clout to snag a comp, I beg you not to worry: All you are missing is a flashy, messily acted and superficial misfire of a modern classic, with a grotesque bit of miscasting (Isabelle Huppert) that hobbles what was already a limp update. Yes, Cate Blanchett acts her heart out and lets her makeup run; yes, Huppert has moments of inspired weirdness; yes, full-length mirrors and furs and live video and acres of flowers suggest an aura of decadent, morbid voyeurism; but it never coheres—or worse, unnerves. Only the most degenerate starfucker would give a pass to this glib and brainless production because OMG! I’m sitting here watching Cate Blanchett—live!

Breaking Bad spin-off teaser

And we mean teaser. The first look at Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul has surfaced online. But blink and you’ll miss it. The series is due to premiere in February 2015 and acts as a prequel to the groundbreaking original.

Kate Miller-Heidke’s opera debut raises eyebrows

Following today’s announcement of Opera Australia’s 2015 season, which includes a new family-friendly opera by pop singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke, notorious British opera blogger Norman Lebrecht had his say:

“The eyebrows rise a little at Terracini’s operatic staging of Cole Porter’s musical Anything Goes, and a little higher at a brave new opera by Kate Miller-Heidke, called The Rabbits. Ms Miller Heidke, who will appear in her own opera, is mostly a pop singer. Rabbits belong mostly in Bugs Bunny.”

Miller-Heidke tweeted the following in response:

Downton babies

Downton Abbey may have jumped the shark last season, but it’s going strong into its fifth season, which airs later this year. It seems they’ve turned to a certain ratings winner — cute kids. The producers have been teasing pictures from the show’s set via Instagram. Meet Master George Crawley — son of the sadly deceased Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary.


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