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Welcome to the Posts section of the official Kirk Douglas website. Its purpose is to let Kirk share his thoughts and activities with you, and to enable you to share your thoughts with him.

Below you’ll find links to the most recent posts, regardless of category.

If you click on the “Reflections” button to the left, you’ll be taken to a page where Kirk, a best-selling writer as well as a movie star, has posted his most recent thoughts and musings.

If you click the “Activities” button, you’ll be taken to a page where you can learn about current and past goings-on in which Kirk is involved.

By clicking “Fan Mail,” you’ll have the opportunity to share your thoughts with Kirk.

News flash! Kirk's most recent book I Am Spartacus! was published June 12, 2012. This link will enable you to get a copy, and have part of the proceeds go to the work of The Douglas Foundation.

If you would like to purchase the Kindle e-Book version of I Am Spartacus, click below.

Kirk Douglas Helps Celebrate 10th Birthday of Kirk Douglas Theatre

--Variety October 15, 2014

Gordon Davidson, Kirk Douglas, Anne Douglas

Kirk Douglas gave career tips to up-and-coming actors at Tuesday’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of his eponymous theater in Culver City.

When Douglas was starting out in his career he made his way to Broadway, but soon after Hollywood came calling (“They made an offer I couldn’t refuse”) and he headed west. “I gave up my dream of being a big star on Broadway, but in Hollywood I made a lot of money,” he told the rapt crowd. “I learned a lot of things and one of the things I learned was how to get your name on the theater” — dramatic pause — “buy the theater.”

Although he told Variety that he makes it to the Kirk Douglas Theatre “every chance I get,” Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group, said Douglas is “a constant presence in the lobby and backstage. To watch actors come out of the dressing room after a performance and see Kirk and (his wife) Anne is a treat.”

Ritchie and Douglas thanked Gordon Davidson, the founding artistic director of CTG, for his vision in creating the nonprofit theaters.

Ritchie said the CTG’s plans are to continue using the Kirk Douglas as a space for experimental theater. “More people hear about Culver City and the theater, there is a real sense of life going on here,” he said, adding that he’s planning “more programming for children and families. The three theaters (Ahmanson, Mark Taper and KDT) are unified in what we do and market them.”

The event was billed as the 10th birthday of KDT rather than an anniversary and Douglas invited the audience to return to its 20th with him. Perfs from past stagings including “13” and “Stoop Stories” followed and the control booth was named for Anne Douglas.

 

(Pictured: Gordon Davidson, Kirk Douglas, Anne Douglas and Michael Ritchie at the 10th birthday party for the Kirk Douglas Theatre)

'Forever,' a harrowing memoir with no Hollywood ending

--Los Angeles Times October 14, 2014

Dael Orlandersmith in the world premiere of her play "Forever" at the KIrk Douglas Theatre

Oe of the few laugh lines in Dael Orlandersmith’s harrowing new solo show, “Forever,” in its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, comes in an exchange she describes with an attendant at the morgue after her mother’s death.

She asks him if he’s afraid. His laconic reply: “The dead can’t do nothing to you. It’s the living you’ve got to look out for.”

The wisdom of this risk assessment may appear self-evident. But for Orlandersmith — or for the version of herself she plays in these searching, brutally honest monologues — he’s got it completely backward.

An award-winning playwright, poet and actress, Orlandersmith doesn’t have a lot of trouble with the living these days. In “Forever,” she talks of being warmly welcomed at a recent party, where an attractive man approached her and discussed Chopin.

No, the one she’s got to look out for is her mother, who died in 1989 but who nonetheless retains the power to loom up out of the grave, still stinking of scotch, and make this accomplished, powerful, beautiful woman feel inadequate, ugly and dirty.

“Forever” opens in Paris. Orlandersmith is on a pilgrimage to the Père Lachaise cemetery, the final resting place of many of the artists who gave her hope during her Harlem coming-of-age: Balzac, Chopin, Colette, Modigliani, Edith Piaf and — not least — Jim Morrison.

Takeshi Kata’s bare wooden stage features podium and a chair from which Orlandersmith reads from a script and a table with a record player where she occasionally stops to spin an LP. (Adam Phalen’s sound cues are never too loud, and they fade away at exactly the right moment.)

These artists, Orlandersmith says, are the family she chose for herself, instead of the alcoholic mother who taught her about art but also abused and manipulated her. They replaced the friends she couldn’t find or keep in the ghetto.

She describes walking home from the record store with her first Doors album when a man jeered at her for listening to “white-boy … .” She persevered, rebelliously cultivating her own tastes.

This arc is familiar from Orlandersmith’s earlier solo pieces, “Beauty’s Daughter,” “Monster” and “Gimmick,” all about young black women determined to rise above bleak circumstances, who find salvation in art. But whereas in those works Orlandersmith assumed other personae, here she performs as herself, slipping only briefly into other voices during conversations she reports.

“I have not been gut-honest,” she says. “I have never spoken my mother’s name onstage: Beula.”

Is such gut-honesty necessary? Her mother has been dead more than 20 years. Hasn’t Orlandersmith, after winning an Obie (for “Beauty’s Daughter”) and being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (for “Yellowman”), exorcised the demons of her past?

And if we, the audience, must revisit her painful history, can’t we be kidded through the hardest incidents? Is there a part where mother and daughter cry and forgive, like in the movies?

No.

Neither Orlandersmith nor her director here, Neel Keller, is interested in moving past or making light of pain, or sparing their audience the discomfort of witnessing it. “Forever” derives much of its power from the anger Orlandersmith carries and unflinchingly expresses.

And as her story makes clear, she has every reason to be angry. She was cruelly victimized, not only by her mother but by a man who broke into their house in the middle of the night and raped her — an incident she recounts in unstinting detail.

Her anger can be powerful, electrifying and cathartic. Her capacity for it may even be, as much as her love of art, what enabled her to survive.

But it can be constricting too, blinkering her to other emotions. When Beula is dying in the hospital surrounded by doting nurses (“surrogate daughters,” Orlandersmith bitterly describes them), the vengeful daughter tells her off with pitiless hatred, like a figure out of Greek tragedy.

From a theatrical perspective, unmodulated rage works best in small doses; too much of it stuns the senses. Subtler moments, as when she confesses her dreams of marrying the Irish cop who was kind to her after her rape, can be more effective.

If Orlandersmith refuses to pander to us, denying us our pat Hollywood closure, she herself embodies the hope implicit in her story. The area around the raised set has been turned into a gallery for her family photos — the originals, it looks like, with curled corners and faded color. In a few of them she’s mugging for the camera, like any kid.

With any luck, after “Forever” Beula will stay peacefully in her grave from now on and let her daughter’s spirit shine.

“Forever,” Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Call for exceptions. Ends Oct. 26. $20-$30. (213) 628-2772 or www.centertheatregroup.org. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

 

 

Dael Orlandersmith's Forever Is a Love-Hate Letter to Her Abusive Mother (GO!)

--LA Weekly October 14, 2014

Dael Orlandersmith in Forever - PHOTO BY CRAIG SCHWARTZ

There are many parents present in poet-playwright-performer Dael Orlandersmith’s searing solo stage memoir. They include Chopin and Proust, Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt, Édith Piaf and Richard Wright — all cited as Orlandersmith’s spiritual forebears and all buried in Paris’ Père Lachaise cemetery. A pilgrimage there bookends Forever, directed by Neel Keller in its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

The two most responsible for creating Orlandersmith the artist, however, turn out to include Père Lachaise’s Jim Morrison, whose poetically inflected music first provided her entrée to New York’s burgeoning downtown music scene of the 1970s and led her to a surrogate family of kindred writers and performers.

But most of all there is Beulah, her berating, belittling, pathologically possessive and ego-smothering, alcoholic mother.

In a portrait at once elegiac and angry, lyrical and recriminatory and rife with the kind of love-hate paradoxes that define any filial relationship but are here represented in extremis, Orlandersmith reconstructs Beulah’s life from South Carolina to a Harlem tenement. That's where she gave birth to the future playwright, who promptly became both emotional crutch and the object of blame for all of the tortured woman’s life disappointments. 

Orlandersmith’s intention, she says at one point, was to finally write something with the “naked, gut-honest” candor of an author like Wright. And in the harrowing, very personal and unflinchingly courageous journey described in Forever, she achieves it.

Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through Oct. 26. (213) 628-2772, centertheatregroup.org.

 

 

Dael Orlandersmith's FOREVER Celebrates Opening Night at Douglas Theatre

The world premiere of Dael Orlandersmith's "Forever," directed by Center Theatre Group Associate Artistic Director Neel Keller, opened this Sunday, October 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre. A DouglasPlus presentation, "Forever" was commissioned and developed by CTG. Performances continue through October 26, 2014. BroadwayWorld has photos from the opening festivities below!

In "Forever," writer/performer Orlandersmith investigates the complex legacy she received from her mother and their difficult life in New York. A riveting and powerful memoir about family - the ones we are born into, and the strange way powerful bonds are formed with people who are "kin" through shared experience and perspective, is inspired in part by Orlandermith's experiences in Paris at the famed Père Lachaise Cemetery where strangers from around the world make pilgrimages to the graves of such legendary artists as Jim Morrison, Marcel Proust and Richard Wright.

Set design for "Forever" is by Takeshi Kata, costume design by Kaye Voyce, lighting design is by Mary Louise Geiger and sound design is by Adam Phalen. The production stage manager is Young Ji.

The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, 90232. For tickets and information, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling (213) 628-2772 in person at the Center Theatre Group box office or at the Kirk Douglas Theatre box office two hours prior to curtain.

David Mamet's Controversial Play 'Race' Gets L.A. Premiere At The Kirk Douglas

race_mamet.jpg

 

--laist.com September 11, 2014

Shortly before David Mamet's "Race" opened on Broadway, the playwright himself took the unusual step of contributing an explanatory essay to the New York Times about his potentially controversial new work. "I have never spent much time thinking about the themes of my plays," Mamet asserted, "as I have noticed [that] when an audience begins to talk about the play's theme, it means the plot was no good. But my current play does have a theme, and that theme is race and the lies we tell each other on the subject."

Almost exactly five years after the publication date of that NYT article, "Race" is finally getting its Los Angeles premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, and as Mamet perhaps implied, its plot is not among his strongest. Still, in addressing what one of the play's characters describes as "the most incendiary topic in our history," the play comprehensively fulfills what Mamet has elsewhere described as theater's essential mission to address "a seemingly unresolvable social problem," a societal "unconscious confusion," in a way that we could not rationally consider anywhere else.

The entire play takes place in the conference room of a three-attorney criminal defense law firm where we initially see the two middle-aged partners grilling potential client Charles Strickland (Jonno Roberts), a publicly-prominent Wall Street one-percenter type whom the DA has charged with raping a young black woman in a hotel room. One of the partners, Jack Dawson (Chris Bauer) is white; the other, Henry Brown (Dominic Hoffman), is black. The third lawyer, Susan (DeWanda Wise), also black, is a novice associate with Ivy League law review credentials, who starts out quietly taking notes on the discussion, but soon becomes critically involved in the firm's strategic disposition of Strickland's case.

The overt (and obviously questionable) premise of the play and the partners' understanding of Strickland's prospects before a jury is that the deck is stacked against the accused because no one wants to let a white man off the hook for a crime against a black victim. "We're thrilled you're guilty," explains Brown. "Because of the calendar. Fifty years ago, you're white? Same case, same facts, you're innocent. This is the situation in which you discover yourself."

Dawson believes Strickland is innocent, while Susan is convinced he's guilty but still recognizes his right to a defense. It is not long, though, before Dawson's professional cockiness, in classic Mametian fashion, prevents him from even noticing a few boneheaded statements he makes about the racial politics of the case, racial politics in general and Susan's own status as a young black woman in his employment. Inevitably, then, her own agenda shifts from cooperation to confrontation.

The conflict between a young woman protégée who turns the tables on her older male professional mentors may bring to mind Mamet's earlier plays "Speed-the-Plow" and "Oleanna," even if our sympathies are far less one-sided here than in that latter play. The basic problem with "Race," though, is that for all the firepower generated by the accusations, recriminations, apologies and betrayals flying back and forth between the attorneys, the real consequences of their decisions are borne not by themselves, but by their client Strickland, who's not even onstage that much and strikes us as little more than a helpless dud when he is. In Mamet's better plays, the characters claw at each other's souls and fates to save themselves; in "Race" the characters' arguments are their own, but the stakes pile up largely outside of their arena.

Veteran Mamet director Scott Zigler grants the intricacies of the characters' respective grievances a clear airing, and all four cast members successfully maintain the intensity that Mamet's dialogue ratchets up for them. The floor to ceiling shelves lined with law books which subtly dominate set designer Jeffery Eisenman's spacious conference room leave no doubt that we are all at the mercy of these officers of the court and their manipulations of the rules.

For David Mamet's NY Times essay, go to: "We Can't Stop Talking About Race in America"

"Race" plays every evening except Monday, plus matinees Saturday and Sunday, through September 28. Tickets $25 through $55 (plus a 10% service charge) on the CTG  website.

Kirk Douglas Remembers Lauren Bacall: She Was My "Lucky Charm"

--Hollywood Reporter August 20, 2014

bacall

With the loss of Lauren Bacall, whom we all called “Betty,” a meaningful part of my history has been extinguished.

I met Betty when she was 17 and I was 24. We were both studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was on my own in New York with meager funds. That winter, Betty saw me shivering in my thin overcoat. She didn't say anything, but she talked her uncle into giving me one of his two thick coats. I wore it for three years. That sort of unassuming kindness was one of her most endearing characteristics. When I had the honor of presenting Betty with her honorary Oscar in 2009, I told the audience: “People said Bacall was ‘tough.' She’s a pussycat with a heart of gold.”

After World War II ended, I was honorably discharged from the Navy in San Diego. Betty had been discovered by Howard Hawks and was now in Hollywood preparing for her first film, in which she was to star opposite none other than Humphrey Bogart. I wanted to see her before flying back to New York, so I called her, and we arranged to meet for dinner. Of course, she was late. When I stood up to greet her, I noticed that she had the script for  To Have and Have Not under her arm. We talked about it, and she read me a few lines: “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together – and blow.”

“Betty,” I said, “you will be a star.” My prophecy came true.

Back in New York, I continued the frustrating task of looking for a job, hopefully in a play that would last for more than a few performances. I had a wife and two children to support. I succeeded in getting the lead in The Wind Is Ninety, and I got good notices.

Shortly after the play opened, Betty attended a cocktail party for the famous producer Hal Wallis, who was going to New York the next day. Betty was always a girl who spoke her mind. She said, “Hal, when you are in New York, you must see The Wind Is Ninety.  My friend Kirk Douglas is in it and has gotten rave reviews.” He actually listened to her— did I mention she was persuasive—and soon after I was on my way to Hollywood with a meaty role as Barbara Stanwyck’s husband in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.

Over the years, Betty and I never lost touch. We even starred together in a film [1950’s Young Man with a Horn] before she went back to New York to achieve the Broadway success I had always longed for. We tried to see each other whenever we were on each other’s home coast, and we shared many special occasions in each other’s lives, including my 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 2004.

Throughout our friendship, I wrote her letters, mostly typed because I have bad handwriting. She always penned her replies, and they were almost illegible—handwriting worse than mine! My latest note wasn’t answered, which was unlike her. I wondered why. Then, on Aug. 12, like the rest of the world, I found out.

 

It’s hard to lose a friend, especially one with whom you have shared your dreams and your journey. In the case of Betty Bacall, I also lost my lucky charm—the girl who believed in me enough to talk Hal Wallis into giving me a Hollywood career. That was my first lesson in helping others without looking for thanks. I will continue to think about her whenever I put it into practice.

Chris Bauer, Dominic Hoffman, Jonno Roberts and DeWanda Wise to Star in RACE at CTG's Kirk Douglas Theatre This Fall

Chris Bauer, Dominic Hoffman, Jonno Roberts and DeWanda Wise to Star in RACE at CTG's Kirk Douglas Theatre This Fall

--August 6, 2014

Casting is set for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet's "Race," which opens September 7, 2014, at the Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Previews begin August 31, and performances run through September 28.

Directed by longtime Mamet collaborator Scott Zigler, "Race" features acclaimed stage and screen actors Chris Bauer("True Blood," "The Wire," Broadway's "A Streetcar Named Desire"), Dominic Hoffman, (Mamet's world premiere of "Faustus"), Jonno Roberts (Broadway's "Take Me Out") and DeWanda Wise (ABC's "Firelight").

"Race" has set design by Jeffery P. Eisenmann, costume design by Leah Piehl and lighting design by Josh Epstein. Casting is by Mark B. Simon, CSA, and the production stage manager is Kirsten Parker.

In "Race," Mamet tackles America's most controversial subject in his provocative tale of sex, guilt and bold accusations. In "Race," two lawyers find themselves defending a wealthy white executive charged with sexually assaulting a black woman. When a new legal assistant gets involved in the case, the opinions that boil beneath explode to the surface.

David Mamet is the author of the plays "The Anarchist," "Race," "Keep Your Pantheon," "School," "November," "Romance," "Boston Marriage," "Faustus," "Oleanna," "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1984 Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award), "American Buffalo," "The Old Neighborhood," "A Life in the Theatre," "Speed-the-Plow," "Edmond," "Lakeboat," "The Water Engine," "The Woods" "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," "Reunion" and "The Cryptogram" (1995 Obie Award). His translations and adaptations include "Faustus" and "Red River" by Pierre Laville, and "The Cherry Orchard," "Three Sisters" and "Uncle Vanya" by Anton Chekov. His films include "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "The Verdict," "The Untouchables," "House of Games" (writer/director), "Oleanna" (writer/director), "Homicide" (writer/director), "The Spanish Prisoner" (writer/director), "Heist" (writer/director), "Spartan" (writer/director), "Redbelt" (writer/director), "Phil Spector" (writer/director). Mr. Mamet is also the author of "Warm and Cold," a book for children with drawings by Donald Sultan, and two other children's books, "Passover" and "The Duck and the Goat; Writing in Restaurants," "Some Freaks," and "Make-Believe Town," three volumes of essays; "The Hero Pony" and "The Chinaman," two books of poems; "Three Children's Plays," "On Directing Film," "The Cabin," and the novels "The Village," "The Old Religion" and "Wilson." His most recent books include the acting books, "True & False," "Three Uses of the Knife," "Bambi Vs. Godzilla," "Three War Stories," and "The Secret Knowledge." "Glengarry Glen Ross" was awarded the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play in 2005.

Tickets for "Race" are available at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, the CTG box office located at the Ahmanson Theatre, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre box office starting two hours before curtain or by calling (213) 628-2772.

Pictured: L-R (back row): cast members Chris Bauer and Dominic Hoffman and L-R (front row): cast members DeWanda Wise and Jonno Roberts during the first rehearsal forDavid Mamet's "Race." Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Jessica Lange to Receive Santa Barbara Film Fest's Kirk Douglas Award

-- Boston Globe Juy 30, 2014

Jessica Lange will be the ninth recipient of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Kirk Douglas award for excellence in film this year.

Lange, who won an Emmy in her first season on "American Horror Story," will be presented with the award at a gala at Santa Barbara's Bacara Resort and Spa on Nov. 16. She follows past recipients such as Quentin Tarantino, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro and John Travolta.

"Jessica Lange possesses the three key elements in making it in this crazy business: talent, beauty, and intelligence," said Kirk Douglas in a statement, "all of which have served her well and continue to do so. It is my honor to give her my award."

Lange won the Academy Awards for best actress and supporting actress for her roles in "Blue Sky" and "Tootsie" respectively. She was also nominated for best actress in four additional roles: "Frances," "Country," "Sweet Dreams" and "Music Box" and has been Emmy nominated the past two years for "American Horror Story."

The Kirk Douglas award serves as a fundraiser to the annual festival, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary from Jan. 27 through Feb. 5. This year's festival will also include a three day film studies program for undergraduate film students to learn film appreciation, criticism and analysis from film educators.

DOUGLAS INTERVIEW REBROADCAST TONIGHT

Pat Harvey's inteview will be repeated tonight, Sunday, July 27, between 8:30 & 9 PM on KCAL9. The couple recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and the interview focuses on their enduring romance, their life together, and their many achievements, including their work for charity.

Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas, His Wife Delve Into Their 60-Year Love Affair

Please note: The interview is preceded by a commercial.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW

--July 25, 2014

Their story is the stuff of Hollywood romance.

Legendary actor Kirk Douglas, 97, has been married to his wife, Anne, for 60 years, and in an interview with CBS2’s Pat Harvey, he shares the enchanting stories and secrets to keeping the romance burning.

The pair met in Paris while Kirk was playing the role of Vincent van Gogh in “Lust For Life,” and Anne Buydens was handling the PR for the movie.

Anne, 84, said she played hard-to-get. The two became friends, but she eventually fell for Kirk’s charms.

The couple married in Las Vegas the following year in 1954.

Kirk, who already had two sons — Oscar-winning actor Michael and Joel — with his first wife Dianna Dill, went on to have two more — Peter and Eric — with Anne.

Their union has endured the test of time, but not without the occasional argument.

“We argued a lot. But I will tell you about a big argument,” Kirk said.

The scene opens in March 1958, when the Douglases were living next door to Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Mike Todd in Palm Springs. Todd asked Douglas to join him on his private plane on a trip to New York.

“And he said ‘yes,’ and as soon as they left, I said to Kirk, ‘I don’t want you to go,’ ” Anne said.

“We had such a big argument and I finally said, ‘Oh, what the hell, I won’t go.’”

Taylor came down with a cold and didn’t end up going either.

Todd’s plane infamously crashed, and everyone aboard was killed.

“So, from then on, I never argued with her. She saved my life,” Kirk told Harvey.

“I have instincts, and I’ve been right too many times,” Anne said.

The couple has made it through their share of obstacles. In January 1996, Kirk suffered a stroke as he was getting a manicure at home.

He sustained lingering damage to his speech and struggled with depression. The actor credits Anne with pushing him to work with speech therapists.

Just a few months later, Kirk would accept an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement.

“I intended to just say thank you, but I saw 1,000 people. I felt I had to say something more, and I did,” he said.

The entertainment legend said he was proud to be a part of Hollywood for 50 years and dedicated the statue to Anne.

But what this actor, who’s appeared in more than 90 films, said he’s most proud of is the philanthropic work he and Anne have accomplished together. They hope it will be their legacy.

The Douglases have sold pieces from their art collection to rebuild 409 playgrounds in Los Angeles.

They’ve funded the Alzheimer wing at the Motion Picture Retirement Home and started the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission, which gives homeless women a second chance.

All in all, Anne and Kirk Douglas have given $50 million to five nonprofit groups over the years. One such recipient is the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

The couple’s generosity doesn’t end there, and it’s the bond that holds them together.

“Is there a formula [to staying together]?” Harvey asked them.

The actor responded with a smile: “Yes, there’s a formula. You have to fall in love.”

Correction: The Douglases did meet in Paris but it was during the film ACT OF LOVE rather than LUST FOR LIFE.