Friday, June 26, 2009

A WEEK OF LOSS


This week, we lost three cultural icons: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon. Being a child of the seventies, all three played an integral part of my upbringing. I had 45s of ABC and Ben. Believe it or not, I had THE poster, AND I used to sneak up each night to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon.Now, Tonight truly feels like an irretrievable yesterday. What I loved about Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon was that they seemed genuinely interested in their guests as opposed to David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan Obrien (and everyone else who has followed in their footsteps) who are mocking their guests.

Loss is loss,of course, at any age. I look at these three lives: one lived to a ripe older age, and two others MUCH too soon.
However, look at the wonderful legacies they ALL left us! I'm grateful for that! So I saw THANK YOU ALL for the gifts you have given us in our past, present, and future generations. With the way our world is structured, it frightens me that in 25 years, newer generations may not know who they are. But who knows? A google search may find this blog and perhaps I can shed a little light on what they meant to me and why I went to bed last night feeling a great loss and a huge void!

There will be a Michael Jackson video marathon: Beginning Friday, VH1 will broadcast a weekend-long marathon of MJ videos, certain to include classics like "Thriller," "Bad," and more. It's hard to believe that Michael Jackson, the king of pop, is dead. I feel the same way I did when I heard that Elvis Presley died. Fifty-year-old Jackson died at UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles after suffering a cardiac arrest. His mother, brothers including Jermaine, Tito and Randy and sisters Janet and LaToya, had raced to be at his bedside.
Jackson was dogged with reports of worsening health with rumours of skin cancer and a reported lung failure. The Pop singer had converted to Islam last year and changed his name to Mikaeel.
Jackson was one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. His other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy awards and the sales of his over 750 million albums worldwide.
His solo studio albums like Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987) and Dangerous (1991) became some of the world's best-selling records.

Michael Jackson always was a bundle of contradictions. He went from being a child star to a tabloid target.
What are your favorite memories? The other-worldly grace of the Moonwalk. The fierce, focused energy of "Billie Jean" and "Beat It." The dance-floor urgency of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' " and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
BEYONCE has joined the long list of celebrities paying tribute to MICHAEL JACKSON.
The R&B superstar insists the Thriller hitmaker will never be challenged as the King of Pop and June 25 will always be remembered as "a terrible day."
She says, "The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music. He was magic. He was what we all strive to be. He will always be the King of Pop.
"For anyone who has ever seen, felt, or heard his art, we are all honoured to have been alive in this generation to experience the magic of Michael Jackson. I love you Michael."
Another leading lady, Liza Minnelli, has also paid tribute to the late pop superstar, calling Jackson a "kind, genuine, and wonderful man."
Jackson was among her wedding party when she married David Gest and she adds, "He was also one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. I loved him very much and I will miss him every remaining day of my life."
"E! News Special: Michael & Farrah: Lost Icons": This 30-minute special chronicles the lives of two icons that died Thursday. Premieres 10:30 a.m. Saturday, E!"Bio Remembers: Michael Jackson": This profile promises to covers Jackson's days as a child star through his formative years at Motown and rise to superstardom -- along with his recent difficulties and sudden death. Interview participants include Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Liza Minnelli, La Toya Jackson, Katherine Jackson, Jermaine Jackson. 10 p.m. Saturday, Bio Channel

The good intentions of "We Are the World" (which he co-wrote) and "Man In the Mirror."
In a better world, we would remember Michael Jackson -- who died today at the age of 50 after being rushed to the hospital -- only for these unforgettable accomplishments. It is wonderful that Michael Jackson's death is prompting reflection on a historic music career.
"E!ES Michael Jackson": A documentary produced in cooperation with the Jackson organization, it includes home videos, new and archival interviews with Jackson, his family and friends. Premieres 10 p.m. Wednesday



We also lost Shelly Gross this week. Though not a household name, his contributions to the theatre were immense.


Producer Shelly Gross Dead at 88
By Jessica Glenza
June 23, 2009


Sheldon "Shelly" Gross, Broadway producer and co-founder of the Guber-Gross entertainment circuit with Lee Guber, died June 19 at age 88 in West Palm Beach, Fla., after a long battle with illness.
Gross began his career in broadcast journalism. In a 1976 New York Times interview, he described himself as "looking for a way to escape" when he was asked to emcee a luncheon with the cast of the original Broadway production of The King and I.
Gross said he was so entertained, "I decided that what I really wanted to do was start a musical theater."

The Guber-Gross entertainment circuit commenced production in 1955, luring mass audiences to outdoor tent theaters, first to Westbury Music Fair on Long Island and Valley Forge Music Fair outside Philadelphia and later to theaters outside of Washington, D.C. and in suburban Baltimore. Along with their third partner, Frank Ford, Guber and Gross built the largest group of year-round superstar theater chains in the country.


The Music Fairs booked entertainers such as Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, and Liberace and also brought their own productions of Broadway titles to Guber-Gross theaters, including Fiddler on the Roof with Zero Mostel, Gypsy with Angela Lansbury, and Cabaret with Leslie Uggams.

Gross also produced a string of Broadway shows, including the original musicals Sherry!, starring Dolores Gray and based on The Man Who Came to Dinner; Lorelei, a reworking of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with some new songs by Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green and Carol Channing re-creating her famous role of Lorelei Lee; and Bring Back Birdie, the short-lived sequel to Bye Bye Birdie. His musical revivals on the Great White Way included Camelot with Robert Goulet as King Arthur in 1993 and the smash hit 1977 production of The King and I with Yul Brynner and Constance Towers, which ran for 695 performances. (In a casting coup, when Brynner took his vacation, Gross brought in Angela Lansbury to play Anna Leonowens. Alas, the two stars never played opposite each other.) Gross produced two unsuccessful Broadway plays, Catch Me If You Can and Murder at the Howard Johnson's, and presented numerous stars in concert on Broadway, including Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Charles Aznavour, Patti La Belle, Barry Manilow, Victor Borge, and Shirley MacLaine.

Born in Philadelphia on May 20, 1921, to Samuel Gross, M.D., and Ana Rosenblum Gross, a teacher, Gross attended Central High School, where he met longtime business partner Guber.
"I wonder," said Gross in a 1972 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, "what would have become of my life if I had been sitting next to Schwartz."

During World War II, Gross served as a communications officer in the South Pacific and immediately afterward earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He began his career working at a radio station in Atlantic City, then moved back to Philadelphia, where he became a popular TV personality and won the 1954 TV Guide Announcer of the Year award before becoming a producer. He was also a published novelist, with the books Havana X, Roots of Honor, and Stardust to his credit.

Gross is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joan Seidel Gross; sons Byron, Dan, and Rick; four grandchildren; a niece; a nephew; and a goddaughter. A memorial service in his honor is planned for late July in West Palm Beach. All donations will benefit the Palm Beach Dramaworks theatre company, for which Gross served as a fundraiser and mentor in his retirement.

Several cable networks will air tribute programming to pop music superstar Michael Jackson and actress Farrah Fawcett, both of whom died today (June 25).


TV One will pre-empt its regular primetime schedule June 26 to air an up-to-date documentary about Jackson, who died suddenly Wednesday afternoon.

The Michael Jackson Story, which celebrates the prolific career of Jackson from his start in Gary, Indiana with the Jackson Five to the announcement of his 2009 World Tour -- including rarely seen archival footage -- will air at 8 p.m. and repeat at 11 p.m. said the network.

BIO Channel will celebrate his life and untimely death Saturday as part of a special BIO Remembers: Michael Jackson. The profile, which includes interviews with Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Liza Minnelli and family members La Toya Jackson, Katherine Jackson and Jermaine Jackson, the documentary paints the complete picture of the greatest pop star of all time, according to the network.
Fawcett, who died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, will be memorialized on TV Land with a tribute presentation this Saturday. TV Land will air the first two episodes of the 2005 TV Land original series, Chasing Farrah, which chronicled her daily life as one of the most recognized stars in the world, beginning at 9 p.m.

"Farrah Fawcett was much more than a Hollywood icon, but a friend and colleague," explains Larry W. Jones, president, TV Land in a statement. "We are honored to have known her and worked with her and will remember her fondly. Our hearts go out to Farrah's entire family."

Thank you ALL for the gifts AND memories you gave the world!
GO SEE A LIVE SHOW THIS WEEK! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


AND DON'T FORGET TO RESERVE FOR: FAREWELL CONCERT OF "CAROL CHANNING IN CONCERT STARRING RICHARD SKIPPER!"

BOB EGAN ENTERTAINMENT in association with ELEGANT DIAMOND PRODUCTIONS presents CAROL CHANNING: A CELEBRATION Starring Richard Skipper! Musical Direction by Jon Weber, with a five piece band and back-up singers. In this intimate evening with one of Broadway s greatest treasures, Skipper takes his audience back to a time of clean wholesome entertainment, featuring highlights from two of Channing' s greatest hits, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Hello Dolly! One performance only, July 5th, 2008 at 8:00 pm. Tim McLoone s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ. Reservations: (732) 774-1155.
www.RichardSkipper.com

Join me for LENA HORNE BIOGRAPHER GRILLED if you're in NY!
""Stormy Weather" Author James Gavin Tells All"
What: Opening
Host: Barnes & Noble-Lincoln Triangle, New York
Start Time: Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30pm
End Time: Wednesday, July 1 at 8:30pm
Where: Upper West Side

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