Looks like I may have been wrong in predicting "How were you affected by the strike?" as the Question That Will Not Die at this tour. Admittedly, it'll come up a lot more once the networks show up in a few days. But during this first week, there's been a lot more discussion (particularly when an African-American celebrity is on stage) of the possibility of a Barack Obama presidency, and in the last two days, we seem to have found a new obsession: the uncovered male anatomy.
As I mentioned, my arrival at the tour coincided with a full-frontal (albeit prosthetic) sketch comedy scene. Then yesterday we got Dennis Hopper explaining how his "Crash" character will be introduced by having a conversation with his little friend. And PBS' executive session this morning was dominated by discussion of the member of a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
PBS president Paula Kerger proudly announced that public television would be bringing the recent version of "King Lear" with Sir Ian McKellen to television sometime in 2009. After a series of other announcements, she opened the floor for questions, and the first one was about Sir Ian doing a nude scene in the theatrical production, and whether she would be able to include that in the TV version, given the recent battles PBS has had with the FCC.
"I haven't seen the taped version yet," she said, trying to duck a question she clearly wasn't prepared to be asked, "so I can't tell you what you're going to see."
"But would you be okay with that?" the critic pressed her.
"About the full-frontal male nudity?" she asked.
"Yes!" screamed a woman in the balcony, though it was unclear whether she was exhorting Kerger to answer the question or if she was just enthusiastic about the idea of a naked Sir Ian.
"Let's talk about this in January, okay?" Kerger asked, trying to push the topic off until the next tour -- and possibly contemplating a future where there is no January press tour.
Finally, when pressed about whether she thought it could be included, she said, "It's what I think about it and what the FCC will allow."
This back-and-forth had gone on for so long that by the time a second critic got the microphone, Kerger barked, "Don't ask me about Ian McKellen, okay?"
"No attraction to me," the critic told her.