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Deborah Behrens

Arts/Entertainment journalist

Los Angeles

Deborah Behrens

Award-winning arts/entertainment journalist
More context. Less opinion porn.

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People Are Using Crowdfunding Sites to Pay for Overseas Travel, Classes

No longer restricted to the domain of entrepreneurs, it’s not uncommon to see people asking strangers to fund personal expenses. WSJ's Charlie Wells reports. Deborah Behrens successfully crowdfunded a personal project without using a big website. Inspired by movies like “Eat, Pray, Love,” and dealing with the aftermath of a recent layoff, the 55-year-old decided that although she lacked the funding, she just had to get herself to Italy.
Wall Street Journal Link to Story
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Amy Brenneman: Not Afraid to Rapture, Blister, Burn at Geffen Playhouse

Amy Brenneman is one actress who’s not afraid to bake in mid-August ultraviolet rays. “It’s like doing a shot of whiskey,” says the "Judging Amy" and "Private Practice" star during a high noon interview conducted in the outdoor courtyard of the Geffen Playhouse before mid-week rehearsals of Gina Gionfriddo’s "Rapture, Blister, Burn," which will receive its West Coast premiere Wednesday. Choosing direct sun over the softer downlight ambiance of Geffen’s Founders Room is something her Naomi Wolf-esque character might do. Catherine Croll is a Third Wave feminist scholar/author/television pundit who pens books with titles such as "Women Always Call Free: Pornography and the Corruption of American Feminism" and "Cruel Appetites: Internet Pornography, September 11th, and the Rise of Degradation as Entertainment."
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Anne Bogart Keeps Walking With "Trojan Women"

It takes experienced hands to elevate a 451 B.C. anti-war drama from a scholarly museum theater presentation to a provocative evening of contemporary pathos. Especially when the setting is the Getty Villa’s outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. No one understands this better than iconic director Anne Bogart, who helms her SITI Company production of "Trojan Women (after Euripides)" with a new Getty-commissioned adaptation by Jocelyn Clarke opening September 7. “I think one of the big mistakes people make with 'Trojan Women' is they immediately think it’s a bunch of women in rags screaming,” laughs Bogart on a late August afternoon prior to rehearsal. “These women were highly cultivated and educated. Troy was known as the Paris of the entire world at that time. The play happens the morning after a party the Trojans were throwing because they thought they had beaten the Greeks. What they didn’t know was the Trojan Horse was being slid in through the middle of it and the Greeks were waiting inside to attack.”
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Joan Rivers: An Actress in Comedian's Clothes

Don’t drag Joan Rivers down memory lane. She couldn’t care less. Carson? Her seven-year-old grandson doesn’t know who he is. Comedy icon? Please. She can still take you with one hand behind her back. Retire? She’d rather die on a stool in Las Vegas. Literally. “But not until thirty-one minutes into the act because you don’t get paid unless you’ve done more than half,” laughs the caustic doyenne of stage and red carpet insult. “I said to Melissa don’t pick up the body until thirty-one and a half minutes have passed.” At 74, Rivers has swapped her Geritol drip for a Red Bull buzz. While others in her set seem content to perfect their fairway chip shot, Rivers is busy preparing the world premiere of her third full length play "Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress" at The Geffen Playhouse opening February 13. Or performing to sold out twenty-something audiences at her bi-weekly Wednesday night gigs at Chris Noth’s club The Cutting Room in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Not to mention jet-setting to London to do a royal variety show for the Queen or dine with Prince Charles and Camilla. “That’s why I find I don’t fit in at all with friends of mine that are in their third acts,” Rivers admits. “They’re retired and they go to Palm Beach in the winter and the Hamptons in the summer. How fucking boring can your life get? I don’t want to sit with you. We have nothing to say to each other. I don’t play golf. “They ask me, so what are you doing, Joan? Well, I’m flying over to England, then I’m going up to Toronto, coming back and doing my play and when that’s finished I’m going to The Cutting Room and they stare at me like…you’re crazy. You don’t want to go to Le Cirque for dinner?”
LA STAGE Magazine -- January/Februray 2008 Link to Story
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Sir Ben Kingsley: Acting has to Be Pure Behavior

Sir Ben Kingsley. Actor or rock star? Hardly a trick question. Had Kingsley not declined a recording contract offer by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, his legacy today might read more like that of Sir Paul McCartney than Sir Laurence Olivier. “Or I’d be dead,” says the man John Lennon and Ringo Starr once encouraged to go into music or regret it for the rest of his life. “Overdosed. That’s why I love acting. It’s too disciplined.” A perfect description of a distinguished 37-year career that began with the Royal Shakespeare Company, led to Broadway in his one-man show "Edmund Kean," and ultimately to international acclaim in film and television for such roles as Gandhi, for which he won best actor Oscar, "Schindler’s List", "Sexy Beast," "Bugsy," and "Anne Frank: The Whole Story. "His greatest honor was being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year’s Eve Honors of 2001. In town to promote his new Dreamworks film, "House of Sand and Fog" co-starring Jennifer Connolly, Kingsley is a man of gracious dignity and immense presence – the kind that quietly commands the room and instantly sets up an expectation of equivalent professionalism. Elegantly dressed in black pants, shirt and sports jacket, he is a warm, articulate conversationalist who answers with eloquent specificity, then segues effortlessly into a perfectly dead-on Michael Caine impersonation.
LA STAGE Magazine Link to Story
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Dana Delany: April in "The Parisian Woman"

For Francophile Dana Delany, being asked to star in the premiere of a play titled "The Parisian Woman" while doing a press tour in Paris seemed like divine intervention. “Even as a little girl, I’ve always felt an affinity for France and specifically Paris,” the 57-year old "Body of Proof" star explains one weeknight after a late March rehearsal at South Coast Repertory. Celebrity never held any appeal to her, but being famous in the City of Light did. “That’s true!” Delany exclaims, when reminded of a remark she uttered to that effect on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" last month. “It’s funny, my character is a lot like that, too. She doesn’t really care about competition or being successful. She likes sensuality and she likes watching people and just being part of the dance. She doesn’t need to be the center of it all.”
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Mullally and Offerman Vacation on Annapurna

Here’s what über-busy Megan Mullally and hubby Nick Offerman consider a fabulous vacation. Doing a play together in a 99-seat theater on Sepulveda. “It’s like going to the Bahamas,” Offerman explains, after microwaving a plate of lamb chops, broccoli and other greens — a meal that his character Ron Swanson on "Parks and Recreation" might consume — following a photo shoot at the Odyssey Theatre. “It’s very luxurious to get to dissect and pore over one script over the course of six weeks.” “We’ve been looking for a play to do together for a while,” says "Will & Grace" icon Mullally, noshing on her own home-brought carnivore entree of sausage and salad. “But we deliberately wanted to do a play to sort of put the brakes on everything else, you know?”
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Kathleen Turner and Molly Ivins Dance the Two-Step

Kathleen Turner has achieved great stage success with a single letter. Maggie the Cat. Mrs. Robinson. Even Mattie Walker, the femme fatale character she played in her scorching 1981 "Body Heat" screen debut, shares the same “M” moniker. Now Turner unveils a brassy Texas political columnist she added to the tribe two years ago, as the West Coast premiere of "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins" opens tonight at the Geffen Playhouse. When asked about her string of alphabet-matching female leads, the two-time Tony Award nominee laughs and replies in a husky voice that registers somewhere between Elizabeth Ashley and Harvey Fierstein. “Really? It never occurred to me. But something I think is common in so many of my characters is a sense of anger. Being pissed off. Almost every one of them has this don’t-tell-me-what-to-do attitude.” Clad in a black leather jacket, black top, blue jeans and sneakers, the 57-year old actress has just wrapped up a photo shoot astride a motorcycle in a Geffen-adjacent alleyway following a full day of rehearsal. Her trademark leonine hair and dimples cap a certain biker mama swagger that suits her considerable presence in the room. It’s late afternoon just before Christmas. While happy to engage, Turner is cautious about conserving her voice as well. “Theater is not a weak or lazy person’s art form,” she offers. “I mean, it’s exhausting, frankly. Today I’ve run this show twice, so I’m a little worried. I don’t want to talk too much because I will.”
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Ray Bradbury: Leading From the Heart

A month shy of his 89th birthday, Ray Bradbury is still a man of energetic impulses and exclamation points. His legendary joie de vivre may be tempered by advancing age and a stroke aftermath, but ask the noted author of "Fahrenheit 451" what he thinks about Amazon’s Kindle reading device and watch the punctuation fly. “It’s not a book!” exclaims Bradbury during a recent afternoon visit to his Los Angeles home. “It doesn’t smell! I’m writing a poem right now called There Are Two Smells in the World That Are Beautiful. A new book has a great smell. An old book smells even better. It smells like Egyptian dust. Internets don’t smell, you see. And so, to hell with them!” An ironic stance perhaps for someone whose stories predicted just such futuristic technologies more than 50 years ago — but as a passionate library champion, Bradbury abhors any talk of marriage between the two. When reminded some of his own works are available for Kindle download, he scowls, “That’s no way to read! It’s not the same. There’s got to be texture! Texture is part of love. You don’t look at a woman, you touch her.” Then he smiles, ever the incurable romantic.
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Jerry Herman: Enjoying the Latest “La Cage” Ride

A visit with Jerry Herman is like catching up with a beloved raconteur uncle whose champagne fountain of Broadway stories captivates you with their eyewitness-to-history immediacy. He is a gracious host who greets you in the marble floored foyer of his one floor Beverly Hills apartment with partner Terry Marler at his side, then asks what drink the house man can bring you before offering your choice of seats in a well appointed living room accented by a large red curled piece of wall art and a black grand piano. Using "La Cage" as an example, Herman underscores why a good pairing is crucial to a show’s success. “Douglas and Kelsey together are an exquisite pair. First of all they like each other as people and it shows. You can’t hide that on a stage. I once had a male/female couple who hated each other off-stage and tried to hide it. And I’m going to tell you the truth. It didn’t work. I’m looking for the right two stars for a 'Mack & Mabel' now.”
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Kirk Douglas: Before He Forgets

At 92, Kirk Douglas still dreams the impossible dream. Though he never played Cervantes’ legendary man of La Mancha, the Hollywood icon credits Don Quixote’s ideals for influencing his own surprising longevity. “I always wanted to play that character,” Douglas admits one sunny afternoon at his Beverly Hills home, adding that a scrap-iron sculpture of the knight-errant stands watch in the garden of a second Montecito abode. Clad in a black cardigan sweater, blue jeans and slip-on sneakers, he exudes more benevolent grandfather than chivalrous Spaniard. Seated on a peach and cream striped sofa in his elegantly understated living room, he spontaneously delivers several stanzas of the show’s signature song unconsciously shifting into performance mode: arms rising to punctuate the lyrics, body moving forward in unison and eyes shining brightly with the imagined quest ahead. For a brief moment, his white leonine hair framing the legendary profile, Don Quixote, famed fighter of windmills, kindred spirit to Spartacus and all the other champions Douglas has portrayed, commands the room. Then, just as suddenly, Douglas sighs deeply and leans back against the couch. The slayer of dragons and Roman empires has departed the scene.
LA Stage Times Link to Story
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Angela Bassett & Laurence Fishburne Build "Fences" Together

It is a balmy summer evening at the Pasadena Playhouse. Peals of laughter pepper the air with exclamation points. Standard punctuation perhaps for pithy theatrical quotes but these hearty explosions announce more than greasepaint hyperbole. They trumpet Gabriel’s genuine delight as two earthly mortals relish the rare heavenly alignment that brought them together tonight. Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett are sitting for their first interview at the end of the first day of rehearsal on the first day of a month that bears the first name of the man responsible for the duo appearing on stage together—for the first time. Coincidence? Or merely the metaphysical hand of Aunt Esther at work. Perhaps August Wilson’s famous conjure woman is indeed behind the whirlwind series of synchronistic events responsible for one of Hollywood’s most celebrated screen couples starring in the Playhouse’s revival of his Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winning play Fences directed by its Artistic Director Sheldon Epps.
LA STAGE Magazine -- September/October 2006 Link to Story

About

Deborah Behrens

Deborah Behrens is an award-winning arts/entertainment journalist best known for her celebrity profiles and coverage of LA's theatre/arts scene.

She is the former Editor-in-Chief of LA STAGE Times, the award-winning arts journalism site of the LA STAGE Alliance, which went on hiatus in February 2014. She had been a contributing writer since its 2001 debut as LA STAGE Magazine before becoming managing editor of the site in 2010 followed by EIC a year later. During that time, she conducted hundreds of one-on-one celebrity cover story profiles and feature interviews while later managing editorial staff as well as dozens of contributing writers.

In April 2014, she received the Queen of the Angels Award at the 35th Annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards. The award is given annually by L.A. Weekly's theater critics to an individual who has made a significant contribution to L.A.'s theater community.

Deborah’s work has garnered numerous honors including a 2012 National Entertainment Journalism Award (NEJ) from the Los Angeles Press Club as best Personality Profile/Online for her interview with iconic theatre/opera director Anne Bogart. In 2009, she won the Maggie Award for Best Interview or Profile/Trade for her LA STAGE cover story on Joan Rivers at the Western Publishing Association’s 58th annual Maggie Awards, the most prestigious publishing awards in the western United States.

Her 2013 Amy Brenneman interview placed third in Personality Profile/Online at the LA Press Club’s 56th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards in June 2014. Deborah was also a finalist for a 2013 NEJ Award in a specially created Centennial Award category for “best career work” in Celebrity Interview for her 2004 LA STAGE cover story of Sir Ben Kingsley.

Deborah’s interviews have been excerpted in scholarly books including The DeGolyer Library’s "Farewell: Remembering Horton Foote, 1916-2009" and "Suzan-Lori Parks: essays on the plays and other works" by Philip C. Kolin.

In October 2014, Deborah's month-long trip to Italy was featured in a Wall Street Journal piece on crowdfunding with her photo from Positano as the header image. She is currently at work on a book about her experiences there.

Besides LA STAGE, Deborah has covered theatre and the arts for the popular urban blog laist.com, Stage Raw and The GRID, conducted investigative stories for Whole Life Times on organic wine, fast food and obesity as well as Valley Life magazine.

(Photos by Chris Panagakis Photography)