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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"The thing about changing the world...once you do it, the world's all different."
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March 21 2005

Joss and Stephen Sondheim: Side by Side (by Side). A quick summary of Joss' (brief) participation in the Stephen Sondheim 75th birthday celebration in New York on March 19th. Joss posts about the Sondheim event in this thread.

Very cool, thank you for the find Simon and cjl. :)

[ edited by RavenU on 2005-03-21 19:21 ]
Don't thank me. Thank cjl.
I can't get to from work, but...he was there?? At Symphony Space? I live a block away from there! Damn, I would've gone if I had known.
Don't feel too badly, 212. If I had gone as just a Buffy fan and not a big Sondheim fan, Joss' brief appearance wouldn't have been worth the long wait. He was just a tiny portion of the 12-hour extravaganza, and he wasn't nearly as chatty as he was during panel appearances geared to his own work. I think he was clearly intimidated by sitting next to one of his idols (which, if you think about, is cool in itself--Joss is still the fanboy).
Thank you cjl (and Simon), it is wonderful to hear how this event actually played out.
So I guess the fans who listened from outside and caught Joss for an autograph
probably shouldn't feel too badly if all they wanted was to see Joss.
Personally I think it is very cool that Sonheim & Frank Rich are so aware of Joss' work (particularly OMWF)
Well, Joss said at Wizard World that Sondheim pretty clearly didn't know who he was because, according to Joss, SS never watches TV, and doesn't watch movies, except for a few from the 1930s. So Sondheim hasn't, alas, seen OMWF.

I'd love to hear about the direct interaction, if any, between Joss and Sondheim. cjl? Did Joss get to ask him questions, or comment on his answers? Or was it all directed through Frank Rich?
Call me shallow but I appreciate the little things - such as that Joss still has his beard. I like Joss' beard. :-)
I like the fact that he flew to NYC to do this even though he had something to do the next day, because it is good to see that even he can be so fanboyish.
Thanks for the report cjl.
Actually, Sondheim is supposed to have called up Matt Parker and Trey Stone to tell them that "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" was the best musical he'd seen in years...maybe it was the Marc Shaiman connection that got him to watch.
Nope, SNT, no direct Joss/Sondheim interaction. It all went through Frank Rich. And Joss didn't really have an opportunity to discuss some of Sondheim's more interesting comments, either. I would have loved to have heard Joss' take on the Stage v. Screen debate.

Of course, the perfect set-up for me would've been Joss talking to SS one-on-one, allowing us all to watch JW erupt in a full-blown musical theater geek rush. But that's not how it worked out.
Did anyone record this? It seems like there was more of Joss, though not much. I was outside on the sidewalk so I had to judge by the voices and content of what I was hearing, but I thought I heard Joss ask Sondheim at least one follow-up question, comment on what OMWF owed to Sondheim in some detail, mentioning that he knew the words to pretty much all of Sondheim's work but assuring him he was not a stalker...and wasn't that him agreeing with one of Sondheim's favorite movies when everybody laughed, or was that someone else? Did anyone catch what the movie was?

Was anyone else inside? Any details of reactions etc. would be interesting.

Thanks for the link cjl.

[ edited by cj on 2005-03-21 20:08 ]

Sorry, just had to. Lol. Just the whole Morena thing. I'll be going now. :D.
cj I think the whole thing may have been broadcast on one of the satellite radio channels, so it may exist on some radio stations's archives online.
Burklefreak -- Actually, I see Mr. Sondheim more as one of the Guardians of Oa, but that's just me. He'd need some forehead make-up, however. (Actually, if you look at your $20.00, you will notice that Andrew Jackson was an authentic Guardian of Oa.)
I was planning to attend this event but was very sick Saturday so couldn't go. It makes me feel a bit better hearing that the event was so packed and Joss was only there for 45 minutes then running off to catch a plane. I feel I most likely wouldn't have gotten in. It's just so rare to know Joss will be in NY and have the possiblity to see him, so I am disappointed that I missed a chance.
I didn't know that Joss would be there, but I was considering going to the Wall-to-Wall event for a little while, just to check it out. But when I saw the huge line heading down the block, I decided against it. Seeing Joss would've been a nice "WTF?" surprise.

Out of curiosity, was anyone able to ambush him after the event?
Hi boys and girls!

Yes, I was there at the Sondheim event and I think I can fairly say I was the highlight of the event. I was a little out of voice, missed some of the high notes, lost tempo, forgot most of the second verse and it turns out that "Don't Rain on my Parade" wasn't even written by Sondheim -- little faux pas there -- but I still think I aquitted myself admirably.

Meeting the man was of course wonderful -- and anyone who ever comes up to me at an event with the feeling of "how do I express what this guy's work means to me without sounding like a crazy person or like the hundred other people who are saying the same thing when he doesn't know me from Adam and JEEZ -- did I really say THAT? Oh god I'm so lame, I'm lame, at least he was polite..." , please know that I know EXACTLY what that feels like. Times twelve.

And it was, by the by, a glorious event. I was there for about 8 or 9 of the 12 hours and saw a dozen things and more that I'll never forget. I was so honored to be there. Giddy, in fact. If I start listing the performers and the numbers I've loved and either have or never have seen live that blew me away, I will become even more longwinded than I usually am. Suffice to say, going out to a con the next day with my fans and my peeps was a delight, but it's a very different experience after you've watched true genius be celebrated. (Not that I was humbled or anything -- I'm not, like, you know, deep. I was just sleepier.)

That's my New York byline for today. Back to work! (You, not me.)

-Joss "I can die now but on further reflection sorta hope I don't" Whedon.
Wow, I'm apparently the first one here to notice a joss post. Where's my no-prize?!

Thanks for posting, Joss, and, btw, please to consider making another musical sometime (and, if you haven't already, check out Randy Newman's "Faust" album). It's not a demand, it's more of a pathetic plea for quality entertainment.

Oh, and I almost forgot, "Sweeney Todd" rules!

[ edited by bobster on 2005-03-22 19:51 ]

[ edited by bobster on 2005-03-22 19:52 ]

First of all, it was great seeing you live--finally. I live in Brooklyn, and you come around here (to quote an old Murphy Brown joke) about as often as a democrat is elected president.

I wish you'd been able to gush more and discuss how Sondheim's work shaped your music and even your dramatic writing, but the panel format was too limited. I could have used a lot more talk about OMWF (or Merrily We Roll Along or Follies) and a lot less chatter about Ben Affleck.

But--holy crap--the next six hours kinda made up for any shortcomings, huh? Anybody interested in the full line-up can go the website, but my highlights were: "Unworthy of Your Love" from Assassins, featuring NYC fave Annie Golden; Joanna Gleason, nailing the Girl from Ipanema parody, "The Boy From..."; Debra Monk's "I'm Still Here"; all the Pacific Overture songs; Barbara Cook's poignant rendition of "In Buddy's Eyes" from Follies; Patti Lupone walking in, ripping the roof off with "Being Alive" from Company, and strolling right out; Lonnie Price reprising "Franklin Shepard Inc." from Merrily; and...

OK, this'll go on forever. I just have to mention that when Angela Lansbury and George Hearn came on stage, I was almost overwhelmed. Sweeney Todd was my first Sondheim musical 25 years ago. To see the two of them onstage again, and so close, performing my favorite damn song from that show...

What a great night. Thanks for being there, Joss.
Joss, I'm so glad you had a such a good experience. I think we can all relate, whether we have had an actual day like that or only fanticized about it. (Hmmm, can of worms slowly opens.)

I love Sondheim's work. I only hope we get more musicals from both of you, along with movies and television from you...cause...well...we're greedy.

And thanks for posting!
Oh, I almost forgot.

Joss, although you did have a lot of competition for the "highlight of the event" prize, you got a nice ovation from the folks waiting in line outside Symphony Space when you were introduced. Prize or no prize, your presence was appreciated.

Please come back to the NYC Metro area for an event again soon.
A Josspost! Now I can indeed go back to work happy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your fanboyness with us!
Well I guess I can leave "See Joss in person" on my To Do list.

Great post from him, as always it's a pleasure to read his posts and makes the day a bit sunnier too.

Ditto on Please come back to the NYC Metro area for an event again soon.
I always love it when Joss posts!
Of course then I'm embarrassed to think he may have read everything that was written.
Joss that was a lovely post, thank you.
Joss, it's always a pleasure to read your posts. And I sure wish I had something witty to say, but on this 2nd Monday of the week - I've got nothin'. Suffice it to say that I'm glad you stopped by and that, even though you can now die a happy man, I'd rather you didn't. Die, I mean.
OK - cjl now Joss. I avoided posting on this thread, because all I was gonna do was whine about not being there. Still feeling whiny, but I also wanted to say :thank you: everyone for letting those of us in the hinterlands know how wonderful it was.

My envy is only slightly lessened as I sit at work listening to the all Sondheim internet radio station. Up now - "I Remember" from Evening Primrose.

Znachki - who agrees about Sweeney Todd, but REALLY wants to see Pacific Overtures before she dies.

[ edited by Znachki on 2005-03-22 21:53 ]
A Joss post and i nearly missed it, dammit!

Thanks for the post, Joss, always good to hear from you.

Do you think that Stephen Sondheim is currently posting in a weblog somewhere on the net about how excited he was to meet the genius that is Joss Whedon? Bet he is! ;)
Joss "I can die now but on further reflection sorta hope I don't" Whedon.

Thomas Mann, who is another one of my favourite writers, once said that true genius can only be achieved by an artist who lives the full span of years allocated to man and therefore has the opportunity to express his art through all the varied stages of his life (I am paraphrasing rather badly here, but you get the drift).

He has got a point. So the solution is completely simple: live a very long life and write like there is no tomorrow.

This will keep us happy (hey, you didn’t think this was about you, did you?) and in 20 years time we will have a very nice retrospective of the collective works of Joss Whedon to look forward to. We decide on the genius thing then once and for all, although secretly I have an opinion on that this very minute ;)

(For you Anglo-Saxons who may not heard of him, Thomas Mann by the way is a German writer, won the 1929 Nobel Prize in literature and well worth reading!)
Isn't it rich?
Aren't they (Sondheim & Whedon), a pair?
To my great embarrassment, I find I am familiar with more Sondheim than just “Sweeny Todd” and “Sunday in the Park With George”. I know at least one tune from “Into the Woods”, “Assassins”, “A Little Night Music” and even more from( and most humiliatingly to my Swiss cheese brain) “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “Gypsy” and “West Side Story”. Since the Tony’s are the only awards show I watch, I feel like a fairly large-sized knucklehead right now.
Also, it's good to know that when supertalents collide, at least one half goes giddy.
and anyone who ever comes up to me at an event with the feeling of "how do I express what this guy's work means to me without sounding like a crazy person or like the hundred other people who are saying the same thing when he doesn't know me from Adam and JEEZ -- did I really say THAT? Oh god I'm so lame, I'm lame, at least he was polite..." , please know that I know EXACTLY what that feels like. Times twelve.

Ahh nice to know you can still feel that special brand of humiliation.
I won't feel so bad when I pass out if we meet and smack my head into the nearest table.
Joss, you freakin' rock star, why do I always miss you? Oh well, we are extremely proud of you, getting your foot in the door with the big "SS". Get him to score WW. I can see it now, WW lassos an evil doer while we hear a faint hint of "Everybody's Gotta Have a Maid".
I missed Joss too. For I am KIBA, Queen of People Who Miss Joss. (And there are several ways to take that.) I kinda wish I could see Joss geek out. I've seen him be on the "I'm the cool guy you worship" side of things, and it sure would've been fun to see him on the other hand. (Plus, you know, I hear some Sondheim guy wrote some songs and they were pretty good.)

...this is only vaguely related, but I find myself wondering if Joss geeks out at Chris Claremont? Something to ponder...
C'mon Kiba, Joss is only human, we ALL geek out at Chris Claremont! :)
Znachki, I finally saw Pacific Overtures just before Christmas. Yeah, it is definately worth seeing before you die.
During the course of the b'cast, cds were mentioned. Whether this means the full magilla, or just highlights, I dunno. But you might wanna keep an eye on the Symphony Space store. BTW, for anybody who's interested and hasn't seen it yet, the Symphony Space website also lists who was there performing what.

Man, I really wished they'd gone into the whole tv/b'way connection a bit more. The there-but-for-the-grace-of vibe was tremendous considering that Sondheim was saying things like how there's no point in writing a film unless you can write and direct... I wish XM had had a video feed just to see Joss's face right about then. I gotta say: Frank Rich rocks for bringing these two together.
The woman from Symphony Space who was talking to people in line indicated that it was not being recorded for CD release. I don't know, but that's what she said.
Hmm. Conflicting info. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, in case anybody wanted to see Joss in a suit, I found a site with photos of the event.
"I can die now but on further reflection sorta hope I don't"

Why that's exactly how I felt after I met you. :)

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