Saturday, April 22, 2017

Paris-Pittsburgh People: Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton in "Birdman"
I recently saw the movie star Michael Keaton – and native Pittsburgher – here in Paris, at the impressive new Paris Philharmonic concert hall.

Keaton was there, figuratively speaking, in a showing of the Oscar-winning film “Birdman” (2014) accompanied by live music. My daughter organized the evening, and I went along without knowing a thing about what I was going to see.

As I exited the nearby Métro, my eyes were stunned as the expansive site unfolded into view. It was more like going to a stadium, the size of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, than to a concert venue.
The new Philharmonic hall in Paris

Inside, I had expected a full symphonic orchestra, but all I saw on stage was a drum kit. My expectations sunk.

The drummer, Antonio Sanchez, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, told us his story and how he got involved in Birdman. The five-time Grammy Award winner who has worked with Chick Corea and was part of the Pat Metheny group happened to bump into Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu.

This was no ordinary drummer, but perhaps the world’s greatest living jazz musician. He was touring the world playing in concert with the film. The drums took us inside Birdman’s disturbed mind as he moved around the backstage maze that was the setting for most of the movie.
Drummer Antonio Sanchez

Although Michael Keaton didn’t win one of the Oscars, I think he should have (but won many other awards). He played an aging movie star known for his superhero films, longing to be taken seriously as a stage actor. Eerily, Keaton himself is an aging movie star perhaps best known for “Batman.” (1989)

Keaton is also a hometown acting hero as well. He first appeared on TV in several episodes of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" (1968). Keaton also worked as an actor in Pittsburgh theatre; he played the role of Rick in the Pittsburgh premiere of David Rabe's "Sticks and Bones" with the Pittsburgh Poor Players. Keaton is reportedly an avid Pittsburgh Pirates fan, and has been seen at seen at Steelers and Pirates games as well, but these days called Montana home. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Michael Keaton, I hope to see you again in Paris, or perhaps at a game in Pittsburgh? For real?

Rose Marie Burke, an editor and journalist, writes a blog about her personal insights into life in Paris. After 20 years in the City of Light, she still calls her native Pittsburgh "home." Want to follow this blog? Enter your email address into the “Follow me” box. Or find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.

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