'Hotel Bleu', Homage to NYC Film and Jazz

Apr 3, 2017

Comedian/actress Julie Halston plays Jackie Sands, a struggling comedian who finds renewed meaning when she's booked at a hotel lounge in Brooklyn.
Credit Bethany Jacobson

If you’re into New York City settings, mixed with the happenings of a struggling uptown neurotic, bedded to an original jazz score, then Hotel Bleu is a short flick for you.  It’s film maker Bethany Jacobson’s first dive into a full on writer, producer, director role.

“New York can be so many things in cinema.  It’s a challenge to make it something that we haven’t seen before in terms of the feeling of it.  I think I wanted through these characters to show a little bit of the feeling of the old and the new mixed together,” Jacobson told WBGO.

Hotel Bleu introduces us to Jackie Sands, a middle-aged comedian barely making ends meet.

“I’ve always been interested in the struggle of performers and creative artists," Jacobson said.  "How do we keep going?  When stagnation happens in a performers life, which is inevitable, there are moments when you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ve lost your audience.  How for a woman of that particular age do you come back?

Jackie Sands is portrayed by Broadway veteran and stand-up comic Julie Halston.  A strange role she admits, portraying somebody that’s not very funny.

“Doing the scenes where she really is, kind of making a fool of herself in that comedy club, it was kind of painful to be honest.  It does also bring up how difficult it is,” said Halston.  “Every time a performer goes out there particularly a stand-up, you’re out there by yourself naked in a sense.  The judgment can be harsh.”

Halston says she was attracted to the role of Jackie because of her own struggles breaking into the entertainment business.

“Because it’s a tough industry.  It’s really hard, it’s competitive.  I feel for Jackie.  I have a lot of Jackie in me, I think.”

The film has its own original score, composed by its co-star Wayne Tucker.  It’s his first acting role in a movie, he plays the character Jay, a young trumpet player whose jazz group is a regular act in Hotel Bleu’s lounge.

Jackie (Julie Halston) and Jay (Wayne Tucker) share a laugh in Bethany Jacobson's indie film 'Hotel Bleu'.
Credit Bethany Jacobson

“For me, as someone who’s not an actor, I’m not a trained actor but I’ve done some acting, this was one of those things where I just had to listen and adapt.  The skills of jazz taught me how to kind of go with the flow in that sense,” said Tucker.

Jay’s cool, calm, and collected vibe, creates funny and even touching interactions with the always abrasive Jackie.

“We are in such a different place in our lives in terms of our characters.  I think that it’s really cool that even as the younger person that I kind of lead her to something cool, but there is always something alluring about someone who is older and has experience to teach you things about life that you will never know until you get to that place.”

‘Hotel Bleu’ director Bethany Jacobs says the short film is just a portion of Jay and Jackie’s story.

“The short developed out of a feature film which I’m still trying to get off of the ground.  I’m hoping the short will help to launch this feature.”

Jacobson has good reason to be optimistic.  ‘Hotel Bleu’ was recently accepted to the Cannes Film Festival.