A close friend for years, Wren Arthur (no question one of my fav people ever), runs Olive Productions, the production company owned by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci. Prior to this gig, she honed her production skills as a Producer for Robert Altman (yeah, that Altman) and remains a sought-after actress in the highwire world of independent NYC film and theater. And way before either of us were anything or even knew each other, Wren ran the day-to-day at Tortilla Flats on Washington Street, where she may or may not have kicked me out of the restaurant’s Elvis Room for not being “Borgnine enough.”
Her most current project, Park Bench, a “talking show” hosted by Buscemi, is absolute deep, true New York City in the best way, an entertaining street-side diversion on the surface with an undertow of sneaky subversion. Try balancing that on the end of a fork.
Episode #4: Benchmark with Rosanne Cash and Michael Shannon defines the semi-non-fictional genre Arthur and Buscemi set out to create. The episode’s disarming blithe extra-real universe will infiltrate your subconscious and a few days from viewing, you will flash back to one or two moments and smile, like you know a secret you’ll never spill. And then you’ll want to watch it again.
There is an arc, so watch the series from the beginning. Your only penalty will be having to watch the episode above twice.
Oh, and today the series was nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction. Nice to know that I’m not crazy for thinking it’s special. Or that I’m just as insane and out of touch as Academy members. Either way, good on you, Wren!
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