BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: McCraney named artistic director at Geffen Playhouse

By Bill Vaughan

Entertainment Writer

Tarell Alvin McCraney, the triple threat who has won an Oscar for “Moonlight,” a Peabody Award for “David Makes Man,” and a Tony Award for “Choir Boy,” has been named artistic director for the nonprofit Geffen Playhouse.

In his new role, the writer, producer and educator will program new works along with re-envisioned classics with a focus on innovative storytelling, community engagement and audience experience, while setting the strategic artistic course for the Geffen’s Gil Cates and Audrey Skirball Kenis Theaters, as well as lead the artistic and production teams.

The proud, third generation Miamian’s official relationship with Geffen Playhouse began in 2014 when his highly acclaimed play “Choir Boy” made its West Coast premiere at Geffen’s Gil Cates Theater, directed by Trip Cullman and starring Jeremy Pope. In February 2020, he was part of the new Geffen Playhouse artist residency announced with Cast Iron Entertainment, a cohort of artists also including Sterling K. Brown, Glenn Davis, Brian Tyree Henry, Jon Michael Hill and André Holland.

“It’s an honor to take on the mantle of artistic leadership at Geffen Playhouse,” McCraney said. “My connection to the Geffen began with an introduction via Lower Depths Theater Ensemble in 2012 and continued through a production of ‘Choir Boy,’ and into a residency with Cast Iron Entertainment. 

“I see my role as continuing a legacy of exceptional artistry, reinvesting in the Geffen’s unique capability to nurture and support artists, build upon collaborative partnerships including with UCLA, and reach audiences that we share a community with across Los Angeles,” he added. “I am excited to foster intimate innovation in performance, digging deep into our collective need for live connection here at Geffen Playhouse.”

CLIPPETTES: The Sing A Song All Night Long Tour with Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire arrives at The Forum Sept. 15, and who knows, maybe Diana Ross will break her 17-year refusal to sing “Endless Love” with Richie after he admitted on stage to be “pissed” that she found the time to sing “Happy Birthday” to Beyoncé … 

That evening also will find Maluma at Toyota Arena, Felix Da Housecat at Future Factory, Michael Franti & Spearhead at The Greek, Mayhem Lauren making his debut headlining show with special guests at Catch One, and the beginning of two-night engagements for Jane Monheit at Catalina Bar & Grill, and War at the Morongo Casino  

Common and MC Lyte have joined Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker as part of the team of producers for the headed-for-Broadway revival of “The Wiz.” The update with written contributions from Amber Ruffin will have Wayne Brady and Deborah Cox in featured roles and hits the Pantages Theatre Feb. 13 to March 24, 2024  

Oscar-winning actor and author Matthew McConnaughey is signing copies of his photo book “Just Because” at 10 a.m. Sept. 16 at Barnes & Noble at The Grove at Farmer’s Market; then at 1:30 p.m. The Autry Museum of the American West screens Mario Van Peebles’ “Posse” to be followed by a conversation with the director

Later, Ty Dollar $ign & Leon Thomas unite at House of Blues, Wailing Souls are at Echoplex, The Pharcyde rap at Venice West, the Kansas 50th Anniversary Tour hits the Orpheum Theatre, and Ms. Pat brings her jokes to Theatre at Ace Hotel  

On Sept. 17, Gerald Clayton makes his headlining debut at The Colburn School, while Bebel Gilberto is at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band spread love at Toyota Arena and Van Morrison plays The Greek (also Sept. 19)  

Cedric The Entertainer discusses his first novel, “Flipping Boxcars,” at the Moss Theatre on Sept. 18, as percussionist Poncho Sanchez jams at Spaghettini’s  

Daymond John (“Shark Tank”) goes live in an exclusive Q&A Sept. 19 at 4 p.m., for “Real Conversations with AARP” hosted by Harriette Cole. RSVP early for the virtual event as part of 50 Years of Hip Hop at  

“Promises,” an album-length composition featuring the late Pharoah Sanders, becomes a living, breathing live-music phenomenon with an all-star line-up in this tribute concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 20  

Meanwhile, Playboi Carti’s Antagonist Tour comes to Arena, Chris Spencer hosts the Comedy Block Party with special guest Michael Colyer at the Miracle Theater and Neil Young & Crazy Horse kick off a two-night stand at The Roxy  

Courtney B. Vance hosts and Gladys Knight will perform at the The Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Sept. 21. NBA Hall of Fame legend and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson and philanthropist and entrepreneur Cookie Johnson are the honorees for the event co-chaired by Christine Chiu and Paris Jackson … 

Also that night, jazz pianist Keiko Matsui (who just dropped a stunning single “Love and Nothing Less” with Lalah Hathaway and Grégoire Maret from her Shanachie album “Euphoria”) plays the Coach House; Chance The Rapper celebrates Acid Rap’s 10-year anniversary at The Forum, Daniel Caesar shows his “Superpowers” with Flying Lotus and Orion Sun at the Hollywood Bowl, PJ Morton is at the Wallis Center, Steve Miller Band rocks at YouTube Theater, and LA Loves Amp Fiddler: A Benefit Concert for Detroit’s International Ambassador of Soul takes place at Teragram Ballroom. 

TASTY QUIP: “The future of ‘Winning Time’ hangs in the balance. We need viewers. The strikes are crippling. Please help spread the word. Season 2 is amazing. But … HBO is big on [numbers]. And, to be blunt, I’m worried there won’t be a season three. And it’s not about me. I’m fine. It’s about a cast of amazing young actors who live this. So, seriously, tell your friends to support and show you want it to continue.” – Author JEFF PEARLMAN on the series on the Lakers series facing its buzzer on Sept. 17 

TC ON TV: Sept. 15 – “A Million Miles Away” (Prime Video): Michael Pena stars in this biopic of NASA flight engineer José Hernández directed and co-written by acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Alejandra Márquez Abella. “Lang Lang Plays Disney” (Disney+): The world-renowned pianist and the movie studio’s most iconic music come together in this exclusive one night only concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. “Fast X” (Peacock): The streaming premiere of one of the summer’s biggest hits. “GMA 3” (ABC): Remembering the Birmingham church bombing on its 60th anniversary with survivor Sarah Collins. “First Take” (ESPN): The show goes to Boulder, Colorado, to hang with “Coach Prime” Deion Sanders. “Secret Celebrity Renovation” (CBS): Niecy Nash “Soul of a Nation” (ABC): “The Latin Music Revolution” “Time of Essence” (OWN): “Chapter 5: The 2000s To The Future” 

Sept. 16 – “All Rise” (OWN): The third and final season of the legal drama starring Simone Missick begins. “Nikki Chu’s Renovation Diary” (Aspire): The celebrity interior designer invites viewers along on her first ever house flip. “Hip Hop Treasures” (A&E): “Biz Markie/Master P

Sept. 18 – “Superpower” (Paramount+): Tells the story of how Sean Penn went to Ukraine to learn more about comedic-actor turned president, Volodymyr Zelensky and how it turned into a document of history when the Russian invasion began. “The Jennifer Hudson Show” (Syn): Back for a second season. “Academy of Country Music Honors” (FOX): Kane Brown, Clint Black, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tim McGraw and Chris Stapleton are honored with performers and presenters to include BRELAND, Lady A, Keith Urban and The War and Treaty. 

Sept. 19 – “Kountry Wayne: A Woman’s Prayer” (Netflix): In the comedian’s debut stand-up comedy special, he talks about his life as a dad of 10, how to know if a woman likes you and why he keeps it real with Jesus. “Becoming Frida Kahlo” (PBS): The life of the extraordinary artist is explored in this three-part docu-series.  

Sept. 20 – “The Super Models” (Apple TV+): This four-part series spotlights the remarkable careers of Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. “Thick Skin” (AMC+/Sundance Now): Four remarkable women in Philadelphia are forced to deal with social prejudice regarding larger bodies every day of their lives. “American Horror Story: Delicate” (FX): The 12th season premieres with this tale starring Emma Roberts, Cara Delevingne, and Kim Kardashian.  

Sept. 21 – “Vicious Affair” (Tubi): Chris Stokes is director and co-writer (with Marques Houston) of this potboiler starring Blac Chyna and Annie Ilonzeh (“Chicago Fire”). “Young Love” (Max): Brooke Conaway, Harry Lennix, Issa Rae, Loretta Devine, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, and Tamar Braxton add their voices to this extension of Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning animated short “Hair Love.” 

END QUOTE: “The struggle still continues. It’s not an even playing field. But we’re going to keep getting on.” – SPIKE LEE accepting the TIFF Tribute Roger Ebert Director Award 

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