Gaité In Crises

photo: cafe leonard

With sofas and a salon, the Café Léonard.

Pepe In Barcelona

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 18. October 1999:- Last Wednesday I was minding my own business - which is always sort of snooping around - on my way to check the autumn leaf situation in the Luxembourg gardens, when I happened on a story in the Rue de la Gaité.

This is a short street in Montparnasse, between the Avenue du Maine and the Boulevard Edgar Quinet. Gaité's main features are theatres, before and after restaurants, and some peep-show places. But it is mainly theatres.

One of them is an antique called 'Théâtre de la Comédie Italien.' Last summer, I saw that it was being repainted, and made a note to myself to photograph it when it was finished. And so it was last Wednesday.

But, not quite so alert, I had failed to note newspaperphoto: theatre italien, goldini stories in late September - aboutthe possible closing of this landmark, for being in serious tax arrears.

This came about partly because the theatre was reclassified from being a cultural association into being a commercial enterprise. Founded as a 'Commedia dell'Arte' theatre 26 years ago, it is the only Italian theatre like it in France. Like the Comédie Française, it has its own troupe - of nine or 14 - actors and its repertoire of about 100 pieces.

The Ministry of Culture considered 'La Comédie Italien' to be inadequate as well as badly managed. The antique theatre has just under 100 seats, and its particular structure doesn't lend itself to other types of theatre; to renting it out for other purposes.

Despite all the uncertainty, the director Attilio Maggiulli, began rehearsals for Goldini's 'Le Femme Puntigiose' for this fall season.

On another scene, appeals were made, press ink was spilled and there was even a hunger strike by Attilio Maggiulli, who also wrote an appeal to President Chirac and Prime Minister Jospin, denouncing the greediness of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Strass-Kahn.

In pleading for the statute of 'Théâtre d'Art,' he reminded everybody that closing his theatre on Gaité would probably mean one theatre less and one sex-shop more.

Attilio Maggiulli has also been reminding the press about a telegram he received from New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who was alerted by Robert De Niro to the Gaité theatre's misfortunes.

Well nobody wants a Times Square - that was! - scene in Montparnasse, and so the Finance Ministry is rethinking the theatre's tax bill and its tax status as well. Ten days ago total relief and full aid was announced for the theatre.

Last Wednesday, Attilio Maggiulli was still giddy about it as he gave me a handful of press clippings about the affair. About a bit of Italian theatre on Gaité.

On the Little Screen

I'm surprised nobody has written to comment about how much this magazine has fallen off lately on account of all the TV I've been watching. It's on my mind, so I skipped the TV-news one evening last week. It was on, but I didn't watch it.

It's another show, on Arte, that is causing the trouble. It's on Friday night too - when I should be doing the photos or looking for items in Le Parisien.

What it is, is a Catalan version of the mid-'50's 'Peter Gunn.' For those who don't remember 'Peter Gunn' from TV's really small screen, black and white, 26-minute half-hour series' days, it concerned a very cool private-eye who dressed like Cary Grant, whophoto: moms in luxembourg hung out in a Greenwich Village-type jazz joint - which played the jazzy theme from 'Peter Gunn' - and his girlfriend sang there, somewhat like Julie London - and her real name was Lola Allbright.

Moms in the sun in the Luxembourg last week.

Arte's modern TV-color version is from Barcelona, on a slightly larger small screen - is about Pepe Carvalho who is the 'eye' and his girlfriend, Charo, who is blond and very curvy. She doesn't sing in the club she owns in a Barcelona alley, and neither do the girls who dance in it wearing flamenco dresses about the size of ten-peseta coins.

Pepe dresses better than Peter Gunn - who was always in grey flannel. Pepe smokes a long, thin cigar non-stop too. He also has a sidekick named 'Biscuter,' who is usually cooking something he just picked up in that big market on the Ramblas.

Biscuter shaved off his mustache in Friday's episode, so he doesn't look like one of the guys in the café around the corner from hereanymore.

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