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New & Noteworthy: Ronnie . . . Lebowitz?

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Eileen Murphy

The folks attending the Galway Film Fleadh this week have a special treat in store for them. A short film called "Finbar Lebowitz" will make its debut, and in addition to a fine young cast, legendary singer Ronnie Drew plays an Orthodox Jewish bookseller.

The film stars David McCarton as Finbar, a young Dublin lad who decides to convert to Judaism to win the heart of the shop owner’s American niece, sharply played by Shana Sturtz. Like any good coming-of-age story, the script is alternately sweet and funny and poignant.

Drew adds a great deal of local flavor as the owner of Abramsky’s book shop, dispensing advice to the lovelorn Finbar. The film will appear on PBS stations in the U.S. later this year, so we’ll keep you posted as to times and dates.

Putting Drew in the movie was a stroke of genius on the part of director Rona Mark. He’s a born performer — not just a singer. Ask anyone who caught his one-man show last year when it toured briefly in the states.

"It’s the white beard," he said, laughing, when asked the secret of his screen appeal. "All these years, I knew it would come in good for something."

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So, was it hard to make the transition from the concert stage to movie acting?

"Not at all," he said, and we could picture him puffing on his ever-present cigar as he contemplated his latest challenge.

"I’ve done a bit of acting before, so it’s not really strange," he said. "I just learned me lines, showed up on the set, and said them. Sure, ’twas easy."

"Not that I’d be any competition to the Brad Pitts or the Tom Cruises of the world," he added with a deep, rumbling chuckle.

In addition to the acting gig, Drew has been quite busy of late. His new stage show, with singer Eleanor Shanley, has become a big hit on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I first met Eleanor years ago when she was a guest on the Dubliners’ ‘Thirty Years a-Greying’ album," he recalled. "She and I did a duet on ‘Boots of Spanish Leather.’

"I enjoyed singing with her. Then, last year, I ran into her at a folk festival in Europe and we decided to put together a show. It was kind of informal, but people seem to like it," he said modestly.

"I do my solo bit — some stories and songs — and she does hers, and then we do a set together. Mike Hanrahan (of Stockton’s Wing fame) appears with us as well, and we’ve toured a lot these past few months."

At the same festival where he bumped into Shanley, Ronnie crossed paths with his old mates, the Dubliners. Any awkwardness there? we wondered.

"Not at all," he laughed. "It was great seeing them. We certainly didn’t have any fistfights or other types of altercations. This time," he deadpanned.

"Our parting was completely amicable, very friendly," he said, more seriously. "I just wanted to do me own thing. I did it years ago, in the ’70s, and I have an album ("Guaranteed Ronnie Drew") to prove it," he laughed.

The Drew/Shanley show’s gotten such good buzz, in fact, that there’s a chance Drew and Shanley will take it on the road to America. And there’s a rumor that Drew and Shanley will collaborate on an album as well.

"Sure, that would be great," Drew said.

Liam’s ‘wild’ and Natasha’s ‘sexy’

You know what they say: all rock stars secretly want to be actors, and all actors secretly want to be rock stars. This explains why Hollywood heartthrob Keanu Reeves insists on playing bass for the aptly named band Dogstar, while pop/metal god Jon Bon Jovi traded his steel horse (tour bus to us mere mortals) for a steel tube in the movie "U-571".

Anyway, two actors who — thus far — have managed to resist the siren call of the open microphone are Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson. But, as they admitted to Allure magazine recently, they’ve pictured how they would dress if they woke up one day and found that they were rock stars.

Natasha said that she’d aim for a look that was "Trashy, sexy and fun." We’ll bet it’s no coincidence that "trashy and sexy" described her costumes in the Broadway production of "Cabaret," for which she won a Tony.

For Liam, the ideal look is summed up by the classic bad-boy glamour of Marlon Brando — specifically, in the movie "The Wild One."

"T-shirt, simple leather jacket, Levi’s or Wranglers — I’m not sure which one — and a Harley Davidson," he said. All we can say is, vrooom, vrooom!

Ladies, Kennedy sing for the cure

If you’ll be anywhere in the New York City area on Sunday, July 16, make it your business to head over to Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant, 14 E. 47th St., between Fifth and Madison Avenues. Cherish the Ladies and their special guest, singer/"Riverdance" star Brian Kennedy, will perform a special benefit concert to raise money for breast cancer research.

The show starts at 3 p.m., but get there early for great seats (and greater craic). You’ll be supporting an important cause, the music will be fabulous, and trust us, it’ll be more fun than . . . a day at the beach! Plus, you won’t have to slather yourself with sunscreen every half hour (unless you want to). For information, call (212) 867-3767.Macho-Vanilli (and other Boyzone news)

You know, all slagging aside, Boyzone were pretty much the prototypical boy band — the blueprint for the army of fresh-faced youth that floods the airwaves these days.

There was Ronan Keating (the cute one), Mikey Graham (the sweet one), Stephen Gately (the gay one), Keith Duffy (the hunky one), and Shane Lynch (well, we’re not sure what to make of him). And despite their insistence that the band has not, well, disbanded, Ro, Steve and Mikey have embarked on solo careers (and have singles to prove it).

Fine, we thought. Let them have their fun. Keith and Shane will keep the fires burning. But now, the two single-less ‘Zoners have gotten tired of waiting, decided that there’s strength in numbers, and teamed up to record their own single. The giggle part? They’ve chosen to cover Milli Vanilli’s "Girl You Know It’s True."

This raises many important questions: which one will be Milli? Which one’s Vanilli? Will they wear long braids and silly berets? Spandex pedal pushers? Will their mothers ever get over the embarrassment of hearing their boys "rap"? And, finally — will they do that chest-bumping thing? Stay tuned.

While we’re on the subject of Boyzone, we should tell you that Ronan’s like a cat on hot coals this week, as he awaits the release of his solo album, creatively titled "Ronan."

"It has been on my mind so much that I have been waking up in the middle of the night in a panic," he confided.

"It’s really terrible" — we assume he means the panic, not the album — "but, hopefully, the single will do well and I can breathe a sigh of relief over the weekend." It’s what we all want, Ro.

So, readers, your duty is clear. Just because the guy’s a millionaire is no reason to let him sweat. Get ye out and buy as many copies of the CD as you can carry. Use ’em as coasters if you have to. Ronan needs the sleep.

Let freedom ring

Just thought you should know that the members of our favorite new boy band, Westlife, have been awarded the freedom of Sligo town. Like the similarly-honored U2 (who are now freemen of Dublin) the Westies have the right to graze their sheep in the town commons, which, obviously, will come in handy.

Boys being boys, the band mates are more interested in being able to park their cars with impunity.

"I still don’t know what the honor entitles us to," confessed a grateful but bewildered Kian. "I’ve been told that we can . . . park our cars anywhere and we don’t have to tax them." Well, he can dream, can’t he?

Flatley’s flame: out?

You know, it’s been a rocky road to romance for double-D Dubliner Lisa Murphy and "Feet of Flames" star Michael Flatley. The break-ups, the make-ups, the nausea-inducing tabloid pics of the bikini-clad couple wandering hand-in-hand on exotic beaches. Now, we hear, the relationship’s over. Kaput. Thank-you-for playing, here’s-your-hat, what’s-your-hurry-type over.

The Sunday World reports that Flatley’s suddenly single, and more than hints that he’s got a new girlfriend, a gorgeous young dancer in the FOF company. The proof? Inside sources say that Michael’s besotted, that he flirted outrageously with his new gal pal at a gala cast party.

Personally. we’re taking a wait-and-see approach to the whole thing. Maybe he and Lisa had a tiff. As for flirting, well, any woman who’s ever met Michael knows that he could charm the knickers off a nu . . . er . . . er, the feathers off a bird (whew!). And hey — that was before he became the £300 million man.

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