Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Harsh Look At The Celebrity Dumbing Down of Protest Culture

The Daily Beast The Celebrity Dumbing Down of Protest Culture 3-29-2015 Bette-Midler-with-Bob-Dyl-007 Two anniversaries this spring show how well-meaning but self-indulgent celebrities helped water down a great American tradition. This month, two anniversaries seem to harmonize with one another. Fifty years ago, civil-rights protestors marching from Selma to Montgomery were rallying and singing and sometimes bleeding and dying for freedom. And 30 years ago, a feel-good anthem sung by rock stars to fight African hunger was climbing the charts. Moving from “We Shall Overcome” in 1965 to “We Are the World” in 1985 highlights African-Americans’ miraculous leap forward in those two decades. But the We-are-the-Worlding of protest also reflects a decline from a high-stakes politics of seriousness to a politics frequently fraught with celebrity-inflected idiocy and posturing. In 1965, the Reverend Martin Luther King called on priests, ministers, and rabbis for moral authority. Today, activists yearn for Brangelina’s celebrity super-couple glamour infusion. Amid many momentous anti-segregation protests, Selma framed the moral issue starkly. Televised images of deputized white hooligans beating nonviolent blacks and whites brought Southern oppression into American living rooms. By mid-March, President Lyndon Johnson had launched the Voting Rights Act to combat Southern voter harassment by singling out jurisdictions where fewer than half the citizens voted. Such targeting ended decades of redneck whack-a-mole: every time blacks had circumvented an obstacle to voter registration, a new one popped up. Johnson was not exaggerating when he said on March 15, 1965, “At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.” More like the Minutemen’s moment than the South’s surrender, Selma belongs to the great American tradition of popular protest. It ranks with Sons of Liberty drowning crates of Brits’ favorite brew at the Boston Tea Party, suffragettes marching in flouncy dresses demanding the vote, temperance puritans trashing saloons, pitchfork Populist farmers denouncing Big Business, hungry war veterans becoming a Bonus army, and overall-clad workers sitting down to strike. We like to think of American democracy as orderly citizens voting, presidents leading, members of Congress legislating, and judges judging. But mass mobilization has shaped American history too, as individuals, willing to sacrifice, advanced their cause together. In March 1985, 20 years after Selma, and weeks after Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration, America was better, the cause more distant, the actions much safer. Millions of black Americans were joining the country’s prosperous, mass middle class and upper class. The Voting Rights Act was yielding thousands of African-American mayors and city councilors, state legislators and members of Congress. It anticipated today’s slacktivism, wherein people forward political articles or messages to like-minded friends then call it a day. Things in America were so good in 1985 that the singer-activist Harry Belafonte now enlisted black celebrities to target African hunger. Belafonte, most famous for singing “Day-O,” had entertained more than 10,000 marchers outside Montgomery on March 24, 1965, with Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others. Now, Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson wrote a song for black and white rock ‘n’ roll royalty to sing. Performers included Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Geldof, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Bette Midler, and 5 more Jacksons. By April, “We are the World” became America’s number-one hit. The popular video encouraged viewers to play Name That Celebrity in a rhythmically bobbing sea of famous faces, while revealing the seemingly spontaneous, “private” glances, handclasps, and hugs these pop music demigods exchanged —with the cameras rolling. That summer, “Live Aid” featured more celebs performing simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, the folkie Joan Baez tried resurrecting the Sixties, saying: “Good morning, children of the ‘80’s. This is your Woodstock and it’s long overdue.” Two anniversaries this spring show how well-meaning but self-indulgent celebrities helped water down a great American tradition. “I’m glad to be helping the hungry and having a good time,” said one fan. This $60 million initiative inspired many imitators, including Willie Nelson’s “Farm Aid” and “Hands Across America,” for America’s homeless, led by Kenny Rogers and the not-yet-disgraced Bill Cosby and Pete Rose. Helping starving Africans is a noble cause. But in the celebrity stratosphere, self-righteousness and self-aggrandizement, selflessness and self-promotion, began to blur. Such efforts didn’t compare to the ‘60’s’ muscular activism. These productions of the ‘80’s were more acts of consumption, entertaining trifles genuflecting at the altar of celebrity worship, with a dash of social consciousness added for effect. For fans, the “good time” often upstaged the cause. For celebrities, the billions of dollars they earned collectively dwarfed the pittance most doled out to charities. As a result, these initiatives seemed like putting another Reaganite Band-Aid on problems. “We can end hunger,” one Live Aid ad intoned, “This is the moment, and we are the generation that can do it.” Yet the problems persisted. Paint-by-numbers rock ‘n’ roll activism dissipated energy and created artificial feelings of self-satisfaction that squelched more serious initiatives. We had progressed, from Jim Crow throughout the South to black officeholders North and South. But we had declined, from Martin Luther King enduring arrests to Lionel Ritchie in headphones. “We are the World” taught the world that buying the right record was enough to change the world. It anticipated today’s slacktivism, wherein people forward political articles or messages to like-minded friends—or simply “like” their virtual friends’ political message on Facebook—then call it a day. Such add-water-and-stir politics makes people feel so good they did something few bother doing more. Today, we live that dual legacy. Recently, we have experienced serious demonstrations, from Left and Right, especially Ferguson’s anti-police protests and New York’s Ferguson-inspired anti-Mayor Di Blasio police protests. But celebridiocy overwhelms our politics; the fame game trumps serious political activism. And too many seek a fasten-your-seat-belt protest politics, eschewing sacrifice for safety—epitomized by the spoiled college students and law students who demanded deferrals or free-passes from finals last semester so they could protest the Ferguson violence without risking their GPAs. We are lucky not to live in as flawed an America as the Selma Protestors did. But because we don’t yet live in the perfect America they dreamed of, we still need a tradition of rigorous, vigorous, noble, self-sacrificing, non-star-f**king protest.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Elle Greenwich: The Unsung Hero of Sixties Music

Huffington Post Steve North The Unsung Hero of Sixties Music Updated: 03/27/2015 7:59 pm EDT 1902898_708425682581167_3873364491105969949_n “I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still.” That’s the opening line of the 1963 hit “Da Doo Ron Ron“, one of a string of songs that vividly captured the essence of teenage romance in a way American popular music had rarely done. There’s been a recent resurgence of interest in those 1960’s tunes. Bette Midler leads off her new CD It’s The Girls, a glorious tribute to girl groups, with “Be My Baby”, which she credited to The Ronettes during a television appearance. In December, Darlene Love wrapped up a nearly 30-year annual tradition of performing “Christmas: Baby Please Come Home” on David Letterman’s late-night show. When singer Lesley Gore passed away in February, her song “Maybe I Know (That He’s Been Cheating)” was heard again on the radio. And on the latest edition of NBC’s The Sing-off, host Nick Lachey introduced one group’s number by saying “Now performing “River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner, here is Traces.” Yes, Turner’s 1966 version of that classic, produced by Phil Spector, brought it worldwide attention. But “River Deep” and all the other above-referenced songs were actually written by the late Ellie Greenwich, along with her then-husband Jeff Barry, two mainstays of the legendary Brill Building group of artists. Although she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991, then posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, a year after her death, Greenwich’s name is largely unknown to the public today, despite the continuing popularity of her music. That could be, in part, because the Brooklyn-born, Long Island-raised Greenwich kept a fairly low profile even during the most active years of a hugely successful career. In a 1984 interview I conducted with her at a coffee shop near her home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she said: I didn’t come into the business to be known; I came into the business to write songs. My peers in the industry knew who I was. My songs were hits, I was making some good money, I was doing what I loved to do. I didn’t care if the public knew who I was or not. Until, that is, one day when Greenwich got onto a subway car and took a seat near the back. “All of a sudden, a bunch of kids came in the front, and they start singing Chapel of Love for like, 20 minutes. I’m going crazy in the back. Finally, I went up to them and said, excuse me, but I wrote that song.'” Greenwich laughed as she recalled their response. “‘Sure ya did, Blondie’, one of them said. I took out my license and said, I swear, it’s me. See my name, E. Greenwich? When you go home, look at the record label, and you’ll see it’s me!” It was a rare bid for attention by Greenwich, whose longtime manager (and brother-in-law) Bob Weiner describes her as “humble to a fault.” Even though Greenwich had a fine voice and recorded many of her own songs, as well as singing backup on those of other artists, Weiner says she was more comfortable being a “behind-the-scenes person. Plus, she never really understood her contribution. She always played it down.”
Elle Greewich

Elle Greewich

Darlene Love certainly understood Greenwich’s contribution. In the 1960s, she sang either lead or backup vocals on many of Ellie’s biggest hits, including Chapel of Love, Be My Baby, Da Doo Ron Ron, Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home, and Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry. But, Love told me in a recent interview, “Ellie never got her recognition, and I never got mine either. I was on all those hits, but it was under the name of the group The Crystals. And I wasn’t a Crystal! I didn’t start getting my recognition until Phil Spector changed my name and I began to have my own hit records.” Despite recording many of Greenwich’s songs in the sixties, Love, who lived and worked in Los Angeles, says the two didn’t actually meet until the singer came to New York in 1981. Several years later, Darlene starred in an adaptation of Ellie’s music called Leader of the Pack, now considered to be Broadway’s first jukebox musical. “I got to know her well,” Love remembers. “We sat and talked as if we had been knowing each other for years. It was like a long-lost friendship.” Love, described by the New York Times as a “brick in Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound'”, remains one of Greenwich’s biggest fans. “Her music was so great. I say it was the foundation of rock and roll, because of the way she wrote those songs. Her music was innocent.” Greenwich — whose signature bouffant hairdo once soared as high as Love’s top notes — used that same word in 1984 when I asked why her songs seem to strike such a chord with listeners. “I think people really respond to the innocence, the hopeful romanticism that comes through in these songs. Even in a song like, Maybe I know that he’s been cheatin’, maybe I know that he’s been untrue, there’s that hopeful element that things may work out, that ‘I know inside he loves me’.” “I also think”, she continued, “that the songs have simplicity, both musically and lyrically. People can walk away singing them. They don’t have to struggle with ‘what note do I sing here?’ It’s easy all the way around”.
Darlene Love

Darlene Love

The one exception to that rule, according to Greenwich, was River Deep, Mountain High. “Phil Spector said he wanted to make a monumental record, big and symphonic, and that Ike and Tina Turner were going to cut it. And I said, Tina Turner? I couldn’t quite see her doing this kind of song.” Greenwich didn’t hear the result for a while. “And when the record did come in, I remember putting it on and thinking, oh, my God, what has he done? I didn’t understand it. I liked it and I hated it at the same time. It wasn’t until many years later that I listened again and said, wow, look what he did with this. That is unbelievable.” Greenwich’s other hits were more accessible, which made them attractive to countless and diverse artists. The Ramones did “Baby, I Love You”, singing Have I ever told you, how good it feels to hold you?, while the Beach Boys created an iconic version of “I Can Hear Music”, with its catchy refrain, I can hear music, sweet sweet music, whenever you touch me, baby, whenever you’re near. When Greenwich died of a heart attack at age 68 in 2009, Beach Boy Brian Wilson told the L.A. Times, “She was the greatest melody writer of all time.” Darlene Love, now 73 and about to release her solo debut album, (produced by Steven Van Zandt and featuring tracks written by Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello), agrees, as she continues to shine a light on Ellie’s legacy. “The more I sing and the bigger I get, the bigger her name will get too, because those are her songs. The name of Ellie Greenwich will live on forever, because of these songs.” Win Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Tickets Rock and Roll Hall of Fame showing new exhibit featuring photos of singing legends Patti Smith to Induct Lou Reed into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Sir Paul McCartney to induct Ringo Starr into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Neil Diamond’s still shining, still on a “Melody Road” ...  Read More

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: Former Harlette Melissa Manchester, Liberated, at 54 Below

New York Times Review: Melissa Manchester, Liberated, at 54 Below By STEPHEN HOLDENMARCH 27, 2015 28MELISSA-master675 Melissa Manchester has a history of laboring in other people’s shadows. At the start of her career, her mentors included Barry Manilow and Bette Midler, with whom she sang backup in Ms. Midler’s saucy group the Harlettes. At the height of her popularity in the 1970s, she was guided in her choice of material for both good and ill by the redoubtable record company honcho Clive Davis. Only recently has Ms. Manchester, who lives in Southern California and teaches music at the University of Southern California, emerged fully into the light. Frisky and ebullient at 54 Below on Thursday evening, where she performed songs from a new album (her 20th), “You Gotta Love the Life,” she effused the high spirits of someone who had shed a heavy weight and was still dizzy with her freedom and sense of possibility. Accompanying her were Stephan Oberhoff on keyboards and guitar and Susan Holder on percussion. Although Ms. Manchester, 64, has always written in generalities without directly addressing personal experience, two songs from her new album — “The Other One” and “I Know Who I Am” — suggested the momentous, liberating personal changes of a woman rejoicing in finally taking charge of her life. Ms. Manchester’s rugged, chesty voice is as formidable as ever, although its softer edges have toughened and frayed. Early in the set, she sang “Through the Eyes of Love,” the Marvin Hamlisch-Carole Bayer Sager theme song to the 1978 movie “Ice Castles,” accompanied by film clips, and there was the dewy visage of the young Robby Benson. “Be My Baby” was reinvented as a slowed-down pop lullaby, sung tenderly and illustrated with the faces of young children. The show’s title song, “You Gotta Love the Life,” referred not merely to living in the moment but also to show business: “the life.” Having ridden the rapids, Ms. Manchester has apparently reached a calm stretch where she can lie back and turn her face to the sky.

  • Review: Melissa Manchester, Liberated, at 54 Below
  • Barry Manilow Talks To “Carlos and Dayna”
  • MELISSA MANCHESTER, March 26 & 27 at 7PM & March 28 at 7PM & 9:30PM: 54 Below, NY
  • Barry Manilow giving piano to NY school district
  • Barry Manilow giving piano to NY school district
  •  ...  Read More

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    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Oscars: Craig Zadan & Neil Meron Not Returning In 2016 – Their Highs And Lows

    Deadline Hollywood Oscars: Craig Zadan & Neil Meron Not Returning In 2016; Academy Starts New Producer Search March 27, 2015 86th Annual Academy Awards - Show EXCLUSIVE: It’s official. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, producers of the Oscar show for the past three years, will not be returning for round four and the Academy is now beginning a search for a new producer(s). Although Zadan had hinted about this in a cryptic tweet shortly after this year’s show, reps for the Academy and the producers maintained that nPete Hammondothing had been decided. Now it has. The Academy’s Board Of Governors met Tuesday night for the first time since Oscar night and the question of whether the producers would be retained was indeed discussed, as was what the future of the Oscar show should be (and that includes the much media-driven speculation on whether they should go back to five Best Picture nominees). But sources tell me nothing at that meeting was decided about anything. One Governor told me yesterday they will be assessing every aspect of the show and make major recommendations. But the vibe I get is that after three years (the longest consecutive run since Gil Cates did three in a row 16 years ago) there was a distinct feeling the show needed fresh eyes. In an exclusive conversation though, Zadan and Meron told me they had been thinking they wouldn’t return and that this is their decision. “Frankly before the Oscars this year were even broadcast, we were questioning whether or not, if we were ever asked, whether we wanted to do it again, and we had long talked about it, and also had casual discussions with (President) Cheryl (Boone Isaacs) and (CEO) Dawn (Hudson) about it way back when, and the past couple of years have been incredible, but at the same time, we’ve also put a lot of projects on hold, and they haven’t been getting our full attention,” Meron told me in a nearly hour-long phone call with the producing team. Oscars 3And Zadan pointed out they were at the end of their agreement as well. “What people don’t know is that we signed a three-year deal with the Academy, and it was never announced, and it was never revealed to anybody, and they had asked us when we came on would we sign for three years. They said this idea came about because of having people come on for a year, they learned how to do the show, and then they’re gone. So there’s no continuity, and the ability to work with people for several years in a row seems like a really better way to go. So it was at that point we committed to three years,” he said. Simultaneous with their agreement with the Academy expiring, Zadan said they have signed a new three-year deal with the Shubert Organization to develop Broadway shows (past hits included revivals of Promises Promises and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying), as well as a new three-year deal with NBCUniversal Television to do series and continue with their live events musicals such as The Sound Of Music and Peter Pan which aired over The Sound of Music Live! – Season 2013the past two holiday seasons. In fact, though it hasn’t yet been announced, they confirmed a third live musical for the 2015 holiday season, but the title is under wraps (speculation is it’s The Music Man, but they wouldn’t bite when I asked). The pair also have a three-year deal with Sony for TV movies and miniseries, and are developing feature films, including a movie musical version of Pippin for The Weinstein Company, which is moving along in the script stages right now. “We’ve got to go back to our day job. So it just sort of worked out where we just thought we feel like we’ve accomplished what we wanted to accomplish by doing the show for three years,” Zadan said. Ratings for their first two shows, hosted respectively by Seth MacFarlane and Ellen DeGeneres, increased with the 2014 show posting the best numbers since 2004. This year, following a trend of other kudos shows like the Golden Globes and the Grammys, ratings dropped 16% for the Neil Patrick Harris hosted edition. Though the show was heavily criticized both outside and, from what I am told, inside the Board of Governors, that ratings drop was expected no matter what took place on stage or if any of Harris’ bits from underwear to magic tricks worked (most fell flat – or worse). Still, the Academy Awards remains annually the highest-rated event on TV other than the Super Bowl, and the ratings discussion is really about the Oscars competing against their own past performance. B86th Annual Academy Awards – Governors Ballut the fact is, other than American Sniper, the Best Picture nominees were not widely seen by the public and there was no rooting factor. Zadan says the Academy was not shocked. “In our discussions before the show was telecast, we all said it’s going to go down the way all the other award shows are going down. The morning the nominations came out we put everything on a board and then we looked at each other, and we said ‘okay, these are really good movies with really good people…but nobody has seen these movies (Sniper had only played on four screens at that point). The country and most of the world don’t know who these people are because you don’t have a year with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and George Clooney and all of these people and there’s no way in television that you’re going to bring in an audience who don’t know the movies, don’t know the actors, and not have substantial decline in ratings. There’s just no way. At the end of the day we thought this is possibly problematic and it’s going to be a long haul,” he said. They also aren’t blaming their host. “I think people were genuinely excited to see Neil as the host, and people love him. So it has nothing to do with Neil,” said Meron about the four-time Tony and two-time Emmy host, who had what many called a bumpy night. Critics and many Academy229165 members with whom I have spoken felt differently about the show and repeatedly faulted the writing and a number of Harris’ comic attempts, from a drawn out magic trick with Octavia Spencer to a tasteless joke about an Oscar winner’s dress after she just poured her heart out over the suicide of her son. There was particular head scratching and even anger when he came out in his underwear in a Birdman take-off (87th Annual Academy Awards – Showprobably lost on anyone who hadn’t seen the film). One Governor, who serves on the show review committee, told me that moment was the single lowest they have ever seen on an Oscar show. Conversely though, he praised the staging of the Oscar winning song, “Glory” and said it was one of the greatest emotional moments he had ever seen on an Oscar show. Zadan and Meron were also hugely proud of the Lady Gaga The Sound Of Music segment which drew wide praise and lots of social media reaction as well as one of the night’s numerous standing ovations. Zadan said it had been planned for six months and Lady Gaga threw everything into the performance which ended with an emotional surprise on stage appearance by Julie Andrews. Meron, who says their mission was to add much more live entertainment, indicated according to ABC research those are the kind of moments most people care about, and Zadan added that the highest spikes in the network’s minute-by-minute ratings study supports that. Still despite highs like that, the knives came out for the (very) long telecast. There was even talk among Board members Tuesday night about possiLady Gaga Oscarsbly taking some of the bigger categories, usually saved for the end of the show, and put them earlier to keep East Coast viewers engaged at their late hour. One Governor used the word “fiasco” in describing his opinion of the 2015 Oscarcast, but Zadan and Meron are used to the slings and arrows of critics of all stripes. “I’ll show you the scars,” Meron laughed. “But they heal quickly. When aren’t they harsh? It’s like, to which degree? At a certain point, you just have to do the best job you can and tune everything else out, because when so many people watch this and so many people are invested, you’re going to hear a lot of noise, and you just have to hunker down and do the job,” he said adding that people are still complaining about their first year when MacFarlane hosted and drew controversy for his “We Saw Your Boobs” musical pseth-macfarlane-oscars-hed-2013arody. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Zadan. “I think we’ll go to our graves and they’ll be talking about that. The most famous song in Oscar history,” he laughed. He said at a recent lunch that MacFarlane said he was attempting to do a Monty Python-style number and nobody got it. Zadan says in many ways it is a no-win situation. “We get attacked, or have been attacked as the producers, for things we have nothing to do with. We are viciously attacked for In Memoriam, and nobody understands that the Academy board picks the people in the reel. We have nothing to do with it. We had a lot of people attacking us saying ‘how dare you not put Joan Rivers in? And the same thing happened this year to us at the beginning of the cycle when we got the most horrible, awful emails, texts and tweets from people calling us racist, calling the87th Annual Academy Awards – Show Academy racist, calling the Oscars racist, and it’s like we have to say we don’t have anything to do with the voting (ed note: both are Academy members though),” he said in reference to the fact that all 20 acting nominees were white, and the perceived snubs against Best Picture nominee, Selma. Meron adds, “As a matter of fact our shows have included the most diversity out of all the shows that we’ve done in the past. For the past three years, for us it was never really an issue because as Shonda Rhimes likes to point out, ‘it’s normal’. It was never like we had to have a quota system. It’s not. This is the world.” “So we didn’t react to the racist thing and then book a lot of (presenters) for that reason. They were booked before we even knew who was going to be nominated. But I do think that in the last couple of years, and especially this past year, I think we’ve had more diversity than I think anyone’s ever had before on the show,” Zadan said. Now that they are moving on, the pair point to many things and innovations they are proud to have brought to the Oscars, including Team Oscar in86th Annual Academy Awards – Show which college students were chosen as statuette presenters; having all 24 categories announced live on nomination morning; putting all the nominees in many creative craft categories together in one of the boxes to eliminate long walks to the stage, and many others. And among the highlights of their stint they point to bringing in a rare singing appearance by Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler’s first performance on an Oscar show, Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger”, anniversary celebrations like Pink singing “Over The Rainbow” for The Wizard Of Oz’s 75th, or Lady Gaga’s turn for The Sound Of Music’s 50th. They were especially animated in talking about how DeGeneres’ selfie and pizza bits worked, as the producers were flying without a net on those. So, any regrets? “I think that you have regrets about every show. I think that is because it an unproducible show. It’s a show that is so enormous, that has so many elements to it, that has so many stars that you’re dealing with and so many aspects to it, that you’re barely about to get it up and running on stage by the time you’re telecast,” Zadan said without ruling out that someday they might want to do it again. “It’s the only job that I know that we’ve ever had where we’ve never been more stressed out, we’ve never been more exhausted, and we’ve never had more fun.” As for the Academy, the search is on and by the time we get to the 88th Annual Academy Awards in 2016, the Oscars could have a whole new look. Again. Oscar Winners, Career Losers! 12 Stars Whose Careers Stumbled After They Won The Little Gold Man WATCH: Oscar Winner Mo’Nique Tells Roland Martin Black Entertainers Need to ‘Create Our Own Opportunities’ William Hurt signs up for ITV adaptation of Beowulf

    WATCH: Guy Pretends To Win Oscar, Gets Royal Treatment All Night [VIDEO] ...  Read More

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    Friday, March 27, 2015

    Bette Midler interviewed by Harold Gunn – KRIV 1979

    Bette Midler interviewed by Harold Gunn on November 9, 1979 on KRIV channel 26 in Houston, Texas. They talk about her film debut role in The Rose
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    Morris Pleasure Will Be Bette Midler’s Musical Director For Divine Intervention Tour! Read About Him Here!

    Morris_Pleasure   Morris “Mo” Joseph Pleasure (born July 12, 1962) is an American composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and touring musician (Sideman). Pleasure plays piano, bass, trumpet, and guitar, in genres that include pop, funk, jazz, R&B, soul, Brazilian, and classical music. Pleasure holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the University of Connecticut (1986). He has recorded and performed with artists such as Ray Charles, Najee, George Duke, Earth Wind and Fire, Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Peter Cetera, David Foster and others. Pleasure also appeared in the 2009 Michael Jackson documentary This Is It and Janet Jackson’s film Janet: Live in Hawaii. History Pleasure was born in Hartford, Connecticut. His parents Robert and Evelyn Pleasure were originally from Louisiana, but moved to Hartford so Robert could attend Yale Divinity School from which he graduated in 1961. The family then moved to Guilford, Connecticut when young Pleasure was 7 years old. Pleasure began playing piano at age four and studied piano under Carol Wright from age seven to 17. Frequent trips to Louisiana to visit family gave Pleasure a deep exposure to and appreciation for Gospel music as many of his relatives were active in church, and gospel music was the soundtrack of their lives. And it was on these trips that he also experienced first hand the inequalities of a still segregated south. A black family traveling through the south in those times could not stop at a hotel for the night, so the family would make these trips nonstop. By the time Pleasure was a teenager, he had become proficient in trumpet, guitar, drums and violin as well. He composed his first song at age 12. He accompanied his father (an accomplished tenor) at all the Guilford high school’s graduations from 1975–80 and was active in his high school’s music programs. Pleasure holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the University of Connecticut (1986) Some of his main influences for playing piano/keyboards include George Duke, Joe Sample, Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, Donald Blackman, and Chick Corea. Also, Verdine White, Chuck Rainey, James Jamerson, Jaco Pastorious, Bootsy Collins, and Chuck Rainey had a strong impact on Pleasure’s love for the bass and his approach to playing it. Career Pleasure started his career as a bass player after graduating UConn when he became a member of Ray Charles’ orchestra in 1986. Pleasure has played piano and keyboards for many artists. He was musical director for Earth Wind and Fire, performed with Michael Jackson for This Is It, and has played with performers including George Duke, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Najee, Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack, Natalie Cole, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Peter Cetera, and David Foster. Pleasure also appeared in the 2009 Michael Jackson documentary This Is It[1] and Janet Jackson’s film Janet: Live in Hawaii[2] Pleasure is sponsored by Yamaha.[3] He has devoted time to philanthropic efforts including fundraising for the Guilford ABC Program and Guilford High School music programs and co-founded “We R 1 Voice” with his wife Lori in 2013.
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    Ten best movie witches – The Telegraph

    1970 Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Lamia in ‘Stardust’ Wiches_Rachel_Weis_2685754k Rachel Weisz in ‘Oz the Great and the Powerful’ 2013 Wicthes_Angelica_H_2685756k Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch in ‘The Witches‘ 1990 Witches_Margaret_H_2685769k Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 1939 Wiches_Bette-Midle_2685768k   Bette Midler as the witch Winifred in ‘Hocus Pocus‘ 1993 wiches_Sarah-Jessi_2685767k Sarah Jessica Parker as the witch Sarah in ‘Hocus Pocus’ 1993 Wiches_Susan-Saran_2685763k Susan Sarandon as Narissa in ‘Enchanted’ 2007 witches_rose-mcgow_2685760k Rose McGowan in ‘Conan the Barbarian‘ 2011 Witches_Bellatrix_2685758k Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix in ‘ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two’ 2011 Witches_Streep_2685751k Meryl Streep in ‘Into the Woods’ 2013
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    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    A springtime quiz on trees and flowers

    News Sentinel A springtime quiz on trees and flowers March 23, 2015 174915_155174051236314_100002311596243_311213_532101266_o =&0=& sent an email after the last quiz, and it made me think of the flowers that bloom in the spring (tra la) and led to this quiz, which is about flowers and trees and spring. Deb’s question leads off. Five points for each correct answer, as usual. You ought to get 80 this time. 1. If April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring? 2. In what play are the lines, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”? 3. Who wrote that wonderful short story, “A Rose for Miss Emily”? 4. What poet created this lovely picture in one of his poems, “A host of golden daffodils”? 5. For whom did Walt Whitman write the elegy, “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d”? 6. What flower blooms in Flanders Field, according to the poem of the same name? 7. An old tune, but everyone knows “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Who made it famous back in radio days? 8. In what Gilbert and Sullivan light opera does the following appear: “The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la”? 9. “Roses are red, violets are blue” is a familiar line, but it’s wrong. What color really are violets? 10. “I’m called Little Buttercup, dear little Buttercup” is sung in what Gilbert and Sullivan hit? 11. “Everything’s Coming Up (blank). “ Fill in the blank in this hit from “Gypsy.” 12. The name of the sled in “Citizen Kane” is (blank). Fill in the blank. 13. It was a big hit for Bette Midler in the film modeled after the life of Janis Joplin. 14. A delightful film starring Sidney Poitier with his character building a chapel for some nuns was (blank). Fill in the blank. 15. Daniel Boone chose this tree to make a canoe from its light, buoyant wood to transport his family to the western frontier. It has large yellow and orange flowers in May and June. Name the tree. 16. In what country did the War of the Roses for the throne take place? 17. “Where have all the (blank) gone?” asked Pete Seeger in his call for peace, a song Peter, Paul and Mary also cherished. Fill in the blank. 18. Barbra Streisand sang it in “Funny Girl.” It’s “Second Hand (blank).” Fill in the blank. (So easy!) 19. It’s the wonderful song from a film of the same name starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick about a married couple with a drinking problem. The name of this film, please. 20. It was used in “Dead Poet’s Society,” starring Robin Williams, and he used it to introduce his students to the poet Robert Herrick. Complete the line. “Gather ye rosebuds (blank) (blank) (blank).” Fill in the blanks. Bonus (worth 5 points): Name the country with “Tulip mania” that imported these flowers from the Ottoman Empire. And an extra bonus: Name the artist who painted those glorious irises. Answers: 1. Pilgrims; 2. “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare; 3. William Faulkner; 4. William Wordsworth; 5. It was an elegy for President Lincoln; 6. poppies; 7. Tiny Tim; 8. “The Mikado”; 9. purple or violet (sometimes pink or white); 10. “H.M.S. Pinafore”; 11. Roses; 12. “Rosebud”; 13. “The Rose”; 14. “Lilies of the Field”; 15. tulip tree; 16. England, 1455-1487; 17. flowers; 18. “Rose”; 19. “Days of Wine and Roses”; 20. “while you may”; Bonus 1. Holland; Bonus 2. Vincent Van Gogh.
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    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    MELISSA MANCHESTER, March 26 & 27 at 7PM & March 28 at 7PM & 9:30PM: 54 Below, NY

    MELISSA MANCHESTER, March 26 & 27 at 7PM & March 28 at 7PM & 9:30PM: melissaandbette In this intimate evening highlighting her newly-released 20th album, You Gotta Love the Life, Melissa Manchester celebrates not only 40 years as a Grammy Award-winning performer and songwriter, but also a renewed independence and vitality. Join Manchester in her 54 Below debut to hear all-new originals, covers of enduring classics, and her own hits. “This … is my testimony of what I know to be true. Not anybody else’s version of telling me what a good idea it would be, but my own hard won sense of who I am and what I have been through and what I have learned,” she says. With You Gotta Love the Life, Manchester embraces the sum total of her multi-faceted career with verve and vibrancy. And while she may have more experience than she did when she got her start, her passion and drive remain undiminished. “My hunger is the same hunger I had when I was 17,” she says. Manchester’s career is remarkable not only for its longevity and accomplishments, but for its versatility. Following her stint as a founding member of Bette Midler‘s Harlettes, Manchester’s tremendously successful solo career brought her critical and commercial acclaim. The “Midnight Blue” singer received her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance for the Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager-penned “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” winning the Grammy in that category in 1979 then again for four years later for “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.” Two songs she performed, “Through The Eyes Of Love” and “The Promise,” were nominated for Oscars in the same year. She has appeared on both the large screen in movies (For The Boys) and small screen in television (Blossom), as well as the stage, including co-creating the Ovation-nominated ballroom dance extravaganza Fascinating Rhythms. $50-70 cover charge. $100-110 premium seating. $25 food & beverage minimum.

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    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    BetteBack May 31, 1989: Bette Midler Is The Reason To Redo ‘Stella Dallas’

    Salina Journal May 31, 1989 384641_221792371227741_221327031274275_536253_126671670_n TORONTO (AP) — It’s 1937, and Barbara Stanwyck playing the outcast Stella Dallas watches from outside as her daughter gets married. It is one of Hollywood’s classic tearjerking scenes. Flash forward to 1989. The feisty, funny Bette Midler is starring in a remake that the production team says updates the old concepts of high society but keeps the basic story intact. So, instead of Midler Stanwyck needing to chase after a rich husband to make her unsuccessful attempt to move upward, Midler can grumpily tell her friend how she told off the rich guy and doesn’t need his money. The new version, called “Stella,” was filmed in Toronto this spring for a planned release in the winter. The handkerchiefs, though, will still be needed. At the end, just as her predecessor did, Midler will be watching from outside at her daughter’s elegant New York wedding. “I think the old movie was really about class distinction,” said director John Erman said. “This movie is really about opportunities.” This will be the third version of the Stella Dallas story, based on a novel by Olive Higgins Prouty. Samuel Goldwyn made a 1925 silent film, starring Belle Bennett, Ronald Coleman, Jean Hersholt and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. He produced the King Vidor version in 1937 starring Stanwyck, who was nominated for an Academy Award. The Samuel Goldwyn Co. held the rights. Now, Samuel Goldwyn Jr. is co-producing the new movie with Touchstone Pictures. Goldwyn traces the idea to remake the movie back to 1986. He said he didn’t intend to get involved in a coproduction but the chance to get Midler as the film’s star was too good to pass up. “She’s really become a reason to redo the picture,” he said. As for the script, Goldwyn said that the original movie’s reliance on the class system wouldn’t totally work today but the emotional scenes still do. Among the “set pieces,” as he called them, are the birthday party for the daughter to which nobody comes, and the famous ending. He, and others involved in making the movie, say there’s no doubt that some sort of class system still exists even if it is not as ironclad as in the earlier part of the century. The new version ranges from 1969 to the present. Midler plays a bartender in a small upstate New York town, who meets rich New Yorker Steven Dallas while he is a medical student in the area. She gets pregnant, he backs off, she brings up their daughter without any help. That, of course, is just the start. “It’s Bette’s picture all the way,” said actor Stephen Collins, who plays Steven Dallas.

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