This week, Mayor Jim Kenney is doing everything soccer-ish in order to make sure the World Cup’s takeover of FDR Park for 2026 and our host city status stays strong. He’ll dedicate brand-new U10 and U9 Youth Soccer Fields at South Philly’s Capitolo Playground. He’ll hang around Dick’s Sporting Goods in Liberty Plaza, shopping for personal short shorts, and push City Council’s membership to wear brightly colored jerseys. Expect four years of FIFA weirdness, no doubt.
Speaking of competition, in the world of ensuring that filmmakers use your city for its backdrops, you always have to offer incentives such as film tax credits to make their multimillion dollar shoots more affordable. While former governor Ed Rendell was a peach when it came to offering healthy film tax credits to moviemakers, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett (2011-2015) was a cheapskate. And though it has taken Gov. Tom Wolf a second to get there—seven years—on Monday, he and Pennsylvania legislators gave up $100 million worth of tax credits for filmmakers – eligible now for the recently-commenced 2022-2023 fiscal year. Thank Sharon Pinkenson and Joan Bressler’s long fight as heads of the the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, to get those credit numbers up. No word if already-arranged shoots such as director Stefon Bristol’s sci-fi flick ‘Breathe’ with Jennifer Hudson, Milla Jovovich, Sam Worthington and Common, will benefit from the fresh extra cash. Wait and see.
East Passyunk Avenue’s Ember & Ash is renowned for its yummy nose-to-tail meat-eaty-ness. But, because not everybody is enthralled by its fascinatingly odd cuts of meat, the E&A’s owners and chefs will also offer high-minded, cooked veggie dishes crafted with seasonal produce from regional farms, as well as a five-course veggie tasting menu at its chef’s table.
After having his tour opener in Toronto get frozen out due to (no joke) lousy national phone service and telecommunication errors, The Weeknd – who has been Instagramming and Tweeting stuff from the Linc – officially opens his 2022 stadium tour Thursday at the Lincoln Financial. An honor.
Meek Mill has not left the longtime affiliation of Roc Nation, as was surmised from the Philly rapper/philanthropist/activist’s tweet rants on Monday. Meek is leaving Atlantic Records, a label who Mill has been dissing for its inefficiency to promote his albums, as well as driving wedges between himself and his artist/friends. Signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management since 2012, Mill tweeted, “I’m personally handling my own business so I can take risk and grow ..we came to that agreement together” and that his ties to Roc Nation (a label deal for his Dreamchasers imprint, his work with the nonprofit Reform Alliance) is still in place.
Philly multi-instrumentalist/composer and man-of-a-dozen-musical-names Alex Fichera has a new EP under his Sharing Contest moniker. “One of the main differences between the newly-released ‘Earthbound’, and our first EP, ‘Slumber’, is that for this record I tried not to strive for perfection,” says Fichera. “It’s easy to get caught up in making things as technically “correct” as possible, but for this batch of songs we put the emphasis on emotional weight above all else. It’s great to know all the rules when making music, but it’s even better to know when to break them.” You can find ‘Earthbound’ at Bandcamp and Spotify, or just wait until you hear it and his EP release show at Ortlieb’s on July 15.
Unmasked Philly: Greg Wood
If you have witnessed theater events at the Arden, Walnut, Lantern Company at St. Stephen’s, you have seen Philadelphia actor Greg Wood at work. If you have seen M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’ or ‘The Happening’, or television series such as ‘Evil’, ‘The Blacklist’ or ‘Law & Order’, you have seen Wood at work.
Most of this month, Wood is acting as part of the ensemble for the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ from playwright Aaron Sorkin July 14-24.
“I am very proud to call myself a Philadelphia actor,” says Wood. “Even though I have worked and continue to work around the country, I always come home to Philly. I grew up in the Philly suburbs. I started my career here in 1982 at Hedgerow Theatre. I filmed my first film role of note, ‘The Sixth Sense’, here. I have been fortunate to work in almost every theatre in the city. I lived in South Philly for 10 years from 2001 to 2011. My youngest daughter was born at Pennsylvania Hospital in 2008. And though my family and I now live just across the river in Merchantville, NJ, Philly is my home.”
When Wood isn’t tied to hardcore rehearsals or theater exercises, the actor is still stretching his artistic muscles. “When I’m not working I enjoy playing the guitar or, at least, playing at playing the guitar,” he says with a laugh. “Recently, due to the pandemic, I have become a kind of amateur genealogist. I’ve always known that my mother’s family is from Mobile, Alabama. During the lock-down, I had the opportunity to discover more about my roots, that my family goes back to the early settlers of Jamestowne who arrived in 1622. This type of research is like reading a history mystery. You have no idea of what you will find. Great fun.”
For all of its occasional downsides, the long run of Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom-heavy drama, based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-winning novel, offers Wood the experience of new places. “Touring the country with this beautiful production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is an amazing experience to say the least, and I’m taking advantage of everything that each of these cities have to offer. Still, I am so very excited to bring our Mockingbird home.”