Thursday, March 25, 2010


Jack Hirshberg, the iconic publicist who worked on dozens of films and chronicled a golden age in Hollywood, died at his home in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on March 7 after a brief illness.

He was 92.
His death was announced Friday by family spokesperson Spooky Stevens.

A native of Montreal, Hirshberg began his career as a newspaper reporter in the 1930s, becoming a syndicated columnist with "Hirshberg's Hollywood," which ran throughout Canada.
He was a founding member of the Publicists Guild of America in 1937 and worked on such films as "The Ten Commandments," "Some Like It Hot," "Play It Again, Sam," "All the President's Men" and "Ordinary People."

Hirshberg also represented such notables as Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, Gary Cooper, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Martin & Lewis and Cecil B. DeMille.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences maintains a special collection of the Hirshberg Papers, Spanning the years 1953-80, they include hundreds of articles, tape-recorded interviews and memorabilia collected throughout his career and is comprised of nine linear feet of interviews.
Hirshberg's joined Paramount in 1940 to handle special promotions for young actors.
An American citizen through his parents, he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, then returned to the studio and handled campaigns for dozens of films, notably DeMille's "Ten Commandments" (1956) and Stanley Donen's "Funny Face" (1957).

He left Paramount to work as an independent publicity director on "The Vikings" (1958), followed by "Kings Go Forth" (1958), "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and other pics.
In the early '60s, Hirshberg supervised publicity for the motion picture department at Rogers & Cowan, then created and executed campaigns for the firm's TV division. He then shifted to Arthur P. Jacobs' company, APJAC Prods., supervising publicity for all its productions, including "Doctor Dolittle" (1967), "The Planet of the Apes" series that began in 1968, "Tom Sawyer" (1973) and "Play It Again, Sam" (1972).
At Fox, he served as the publicist on such pics as George Cukor's "Justine" (1969), Gene Kelly's "Hello, Dolly!" (1969) and Martin Ritt's "The Great White Hope" (1970).

Hirshberg retired in 1973, but at the request of Robert Redford, he came back to handle the publicity on Redford films "All the President's Men" (1976), "The Electric Horseman" (1979) and two from 1980, "Brubaker" and "Ordinary People."
Hirshberg also was a ghost writer for Hollywood notables and wrote two books, "The Making of 'All the President's Men' " and "The Legend of the Lone Ranger."

Hirshberg was preceded in death by his wife Lois, to whom he was married for 40 years; she died in 1992. He is survived by daughters Susan Davis and Jill Zinner; son Robert Purvin; his loving companion of 17 years, Madelyn Kamins; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a nephew, a niece and several cousins.

For more than two decades, Hirshberg was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and a supporter of the Pacific Symphony of Orange County, among other organizations.

A celebration of his life will take place April 24. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in Jack's memory to the Motion Picture and TV Fund, the Blind Childrens Center in Los Angeles or the City of Hope.

Gay Support Group Honors Minnelli
Pflag National, a group for parents, families, and supporters of gay people, is naming Liza Minnelli the second recipient of its Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, which recognizes an ally of gay rights who is not herself gay.
Ms. Minnelli, who has been honored for her acting and singing with Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards, has spoken out for decades in favor of causes like gay marriage and in support for gay men and lesbians, and has donated money to AIDS research.

Both she and her mother, Judy Garland, have been cultural touchstones for generations of many gay artists and others by dint of their talent and their own personal struggles.

The award will be presented at a gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on May 1. The first recipient of the award, in 2009, was the actress Sigourney Weaver.

When actor Lou Ursone of South Salem, N.Y., became executive director of Curtain Call, a community-based theater in Stamford, 10 years ago, he knew there were many challenges ahead, including audience and performing space development.

Curtain Call, at the Sterling Farms Theatre Complex off Newfield Avenue, includes the 40-year-old Kweskin Theater, The Dressing Room Theatre (a smaller performing space), and an outdoor theater (modeled after The Globe) for summer Shakespeare productions. As he observes his 10th year with Curtain Call, the executive director is spreading the good news that a 6,000-square-foot major renovation of the Kweskin Theatre has provided a new lobby, dressing rooms that previously did not exist, a rehearsal hall, a basement wardrobe facility, and enlarged restroom facilities. The 184-seat auditorium, updated in 2002, did not change in size.
In addition to ongoing theater workshops for children and adults, productions are increasing from three annually to 14 or more, says the executive director, who’s a member of Actor’s Equity, SAG and AFTRA and has performed with the Connecticut-based Stepping Out Entertainment Group for 25 years.

Talking about the progress that has been made at Curtain Call, Mr. Ursone said, “Now in my 10th year here, I can’t think of anything more exciting than to see my dream coming true.

“For almost 40 years, actors performing at Kweskin Theater had to cross a driveway to another building for costume changes, but the next time we do The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion won’t be wearing garbage bags on his feet to keep his fur from getting wet during a rainstorm.

“The Kweskin is an amazing facility already; we have kept it active year-round with the help of hundreds of volunteers, and now with more space, it will be just about perfect,” Mr. Ursone said.

Currently on the boards at the Dressing Room Theatre is Driving Miss Daisy, featuring Nancy Thode of Greenwich.
It follows the Kweskin Theater musical, The Full Monty, a shared production with Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, where it’s now running. Upcoming productions at Curtain Call include Hello Dolly!, starring Carole Claps of Darien, April 2 to May 1; and The Graduate, April 16 to May 2.

Auditions for The Full Monty attracted many experienced actors, Mr. Ursone said. The cast, now performing in Bridgeport, includes Dom Lettera, Ruth Lettera, Laura Naramore, Sean Ormond, Jim Ringel, Robbie Sherwood, Kevin Thompson and Danny Ward of Stamford; Richard Cummings and Melinda Zupaniotis, Norwalk; Jenifer Condon, Darien; Lianne DeFabio and Jacqueline MacLean, Stratford; Molly Garbe and Jim Nassef, Fairfield; Jacqueline Goodwin and Ruth Anne Ring, Westport; Eli Newsom, Bridgeport; Kevin Pelkey, Beacon Falls; Bill Warncke, White Plains; and Peter Dell Uomo, Mamaroneck.

While living in southern California, Jenifer Condon played the role of Sandy in Grease, The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat, Lily in Secret Garden, and toured internationally as Frida in the ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again.

An actor and director, Eli Newsom recently moved to Connecticut from California. He is currently teaching tap dancing.
Jim Nassef recently finished national tours of The Rocky Horror Show and Bye Bye Birdie and has appeared in children’s productions at the Bridgeport Downtown Cabaret Theater. He is currently teaching dancing and acting at Playhouse on the Green.

The Kweskin Theater is a special place for Melinda Zupaniotis, formerly of Darien, who has been active in theater since she attended school in Darien. Ms. Zupianotis, who has also had a career as a talent agent in New York City representing many celebrities and up-and-coming actors, was last seen at the Kweskin as Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense.

The production team of The Full Monty features director/choreographer Douglas Shankman; musical director Stephanie Gaumer; scenic designer Peter Barbieri, Jr.; lighting designer Aaron Meadow; and costumes by Solveig Pflueger. Stage management is by Tom DeSalvo assisted by Linda Wilson.

For The Full Monty reservations at Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, Friday and Saturday at 8 and 3 on Sunday, through March 28, call 203-333-3666. Tickets are $29; $26 for seniors and students.

At Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St., NYC – Tuesday, April 13 at 6:30 pm

Evening Honors Mitzi Gaynor and Elaine Stritch

Bistro Silver Anniversary Awards to Tovah Feldshuh,

Paul Trueblood, and Ronny Whyte

Michael Feinstein(pictured with Frank Decaro) and Peter Napolitano Receive ASCAP and BMI Awards

NEW YORK, MARCH 9, 2010 – More than 20 of cabaret’s brightest stars will be honored at the 25th Annual Bistro Awards which will take place on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club.
Legendary singer-dancer-actress Mitzi Gaynor, star of such films as South Pacific, Les Girls, Anything Goes, and a longtime headliner in Las Vegas and the nightclub circuit, making her first NY night club appearance in years in May at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, will be honored with the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. Elaine Stritch, the uniquely sensational actress and singer and star of stage, film, and TV, will be recognized in the category of Extraordinary Cabaret Artist, noting her recent conquests of the cabaret stage.

The evening, under the direction of Eric Michael Gillett, will feature performances from most of the Bistro-winning artists and shows and will feature guest presenters singer-actress Klea Blackhurst(Klea Blackhurst and Bistro Award winner Christine Ebersole), comic Jim David, and actress-comedienne Marilyn Sokol.

Celebrating its Silver Anniversary of awards presentations to the cabaret community, and the first-ever award in the industry, the Bistro Awards will this year honor three individuals for their 25-plus years of artistic accomplishments: multiple-award-winning actress-singer Tovah Feldshuh, musical director-arranger and conductor Paul Trueblood, and singer-pianist-songwriter Ronny Whyte.

The ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Outstanding Duos goes to Michael Feinstein and co-stars Cheyenne Jackson, Christine Ebersole, and David Hyde Pierce, with whom he appeared in separate shows at the cabaret venue that bears his name, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency. For Outstanding Director, the BMI Award will go to Peter Napolitano, a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop participant.

Some of the shows honored pay tribute to musical styles. Sarah Rice reflects on songs from old Hollywood (Outstanding Theme Show), the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players puts a twist on operettas (Special Award), Loli Marquez-Sterling puts the accent on the Latin Big Band sound (Outstanding Entertainer), while Lee Summers delivers standards and classic R&B (Outstanding Entertainer). Singers such as Liz Callaway (Outstanding Major Engagement), Nicole Henry (Outstanding Jazz Vocalist), and Anne Steele (Outstanding Vocalist)(ANNE STEELE PICTURED) croon various musical styles in their shows.

The Bistro Awards Committee has named two recipients in the Outstanding Recording category: Alan Cumming for his “I Bought a Blue Car Today” CD, and Julie Reyburn for her “Live at Feinstein’s” recording. The Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award, given to an outstanding performer on the rise, and named after Back Stage’s co-founder, co-publisher and first cabaret critic, goes to Danielle Grabianowski.

The gala event will be held on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street. A champagne reception for the Bistro recipients and Premium ticket holders begins at 5 pm, followed by the awards presentation and show starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Producer Sherry Eaker will be hosting the annual event, along with members of the Bistro Awards Committee.

The Bistro Awards Committee comprises Elizabeth Ahlfors (Cabaret Scenes,, and, David Finkle (Village Voice,, and, Rob Lester (Cabaret Scenes,, Erv Raible, executive/artistic director of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University, Roy Sander (, and Sherry Eaker, formerly the Editor in Chief of Back Stage.

The Bistro Awards are sponsored by ASCAP and BMI, with additional sponsorship from Branson B. Champagne and, and media sponsorship from Back Stage.

Ticket prices are: General Admission at $45.00; $75.00 for a Premium seat, which includes a pre-show Champagne reception and preferred seating. There is a two-drink minimum.
A food menu is also available. Details and ticket information about the After Bistros party will be posted on Bistro Awards website. To purchase show tickets, go to, or for more information, call: 917-239-5467.

A complete list of the winners follows:


ANNE STEELE/ Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room

NICOLE HENRY/ Jazz Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room

DANIELLE GRABIANOWSKI/ Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award/ The Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama

LOLI MARQUEZ-STERLING/ Entertainer/ The Triad, The Metropolitan Room

LEE SUMMERS/ Entertainer/ The Triad

LIZ CALLAWAY/ Major Engagement/ The Metropolitan Room

GRETCHEN REINHAGEN, “Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard”/ Tribute Show/ The Metropolitan Room

SARAH RICE, “Screen Gems – Songs of Old Hollywood”/ Theme Show/ Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN and…CHEYENNE JACKSON; CHRISTINE EBERSOLE; DAVID HYDE PIERCE/ ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein’s at Loews Regency

CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: In Their Own Words, created by Eugene Pack/ Comedy Series/ The Triad

I’VE GOT A LITTLE TWIST, conceived, written, and directed by David Auxier, musical direction and arrangements by Mark York, produced by Albert Bergeret/ Special Award/ The Triad, Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café

THE CONCERTS AT TUDOR CITY GREENS/ Special Award/Created and produced by Raissa Katona Bennett


THE SALON/ Special Award/Created and hosted by Mark Janas / The Algonquin Hotel, Etcetera Etcetera

ALAN CUMMING/Recording, “I Bought a Blue Car Today”

JULIE REYBURN/ Recording, “Live at Feinstein’s”


RICHARD EISENBERG/ “Two Again”/Special Material

ELAINE STRITCH/ Extraordinary Cabaret Artist

MITZI GAYNOR/ Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award

Show tribute to 'Liza and Judy'

Suzanne Goulet as Liza Minnelli and Denise Rose as Judy Garland will present "Liza and Judy -- Together Again" at 7:30 p.m. April 10 at the Ritz Theatre, 30 S. Washington St.

Goulet and Rose look, sing and dance like the legends they portray. Theatergoers will see a re-creation of "Get Happy" and "Swanee" from Garland's movies plus Minelli's famous "Bye Bye Blackbird" from "Liza with a Z" and "Cabaret." Together, they perform several duets, "Hello Dolly," "Alexander's Ragtime Band" "Be a Clown" and a medley of their most famous songs. Other numbers will include their standards "New York, New York" and "Over the Rainbow."

Tickets are $40, $30, $20 and $10. To purchase tickets by phone call 419-448-8544 or 1-800-586-7382 or visit Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. It opens one hour before each performance.Lorna Luft to honor her mom in show at McCallum

Lorna Luft will return to the McCallum Theatre on Friday for a hometown concert.

The daughter of Judy Garland and half-sister of Liza Minnelli has performed several times in the desert, but she leased a Rancho Mirage home last year, so this will be her first show as a local resident.

Luft, 57, will perform “Lorna Luft Celebrates Her Mother, Judy Garland.” She recently spoke to Desert Post Weekly at one of her favorite Rancho Mirage restaurants, P.F. Chang's, with topics including:

Judy Garland, who died after abusing prescription drugs when Luft was 16: “My mother was really smart and incredibly funny. That's one thing I talk about in the show. It has driven me nuts over the years. She's known as this tragic figure. She wasn't tragic. She had tragedies in her life, but she wasn't tragic.”

Living in her mother's shadow: “I never got out from it. I've embraced it. You can never run away from your shadow. But what you can learn to do is be grateful and say thank you and then keep working as your own person. I have done things that my mother didn't. I did a Broadway show. My mother never did a Broadway show. I've done a television series as an actor (“Trapper John, M.D.”). My mom never did. I'm really, really lucky because I never forgot about my roots in the Broadway theater. I just finished a big tour of Irving Berlin's “‘White Christmas.'”

What might have happened if Garland had lived until the Betty Ford Center had opened: “I think about it a lot. I've been sober 26 years. At first it made me totally sob. Then I thought to myself, how fantastic that (the Betty Ford Center) has given so many generations a way forward if they choose to stay sober. With the Ford (Center), we have the knowledge, the technology, the education and the facilities so you have a choice. My mom didn't have a choice.”

Tension with Liza: “It's not even tension. I think we have a pretty normal relationship. We don't live on the same coast, so we don't see each other. But when we're in the same vicinity, we e-mail one another. I think the media has made it out to be something it really isn't because, if they made it out to be really normal, who's going to read that? We sit back and laugh at it. ‘Do you realize we're not speaking to one another?' That's how we grew up.”

(Photo: at Truman's Inauguration. L-R Bess Truman, Perle Mesta, Harry Truman, Margaret Truman)Documentary offers a toast to Perle Mesta

By Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joe Mastruzzo/International News Soundphoto
In 1956, Perle Mesta greeted Jacqueline and Sen. John Kennedy at a party she hosted for the elite of the Democratic Party in Chicago.

An heiress of two industrial fortunes, Perle Mesta moved to Washington, D.C., in 1941, became its reigning social hostess and entertained a long list of luminaries, including her good friends Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S Truman.
Her whirlwind life inspired the smash hit Broadway musical "Call Me Madam," which starred Ethel Merman. A teetotaler who drank Coca-Cola, her festive parties included music and vintage champagne; dinners featured partridge or guinea hen. In 1949, President Truman appointed her the first U.S. minister to Luxembourg.

"Call Her Madam," a documentary about this rather unorthodox but always hospitable pioneer diplomat, will be shown tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Homewood Cemetery's main administration building in Squirrel Hill. This is the first time the film, made in 1997, will be shown in the United States. Admission is $5.

Researched and directed by Paul Lesch, a film and history professor at the University of Luxembourg, the 55-minute documentary focuses on Mrs. Mesta's Washington career as well as her tenure, from 1949 to 1953, in the grand duchy of Luxembourg. Along with archival newsreels and still photographs, there are concise interviews with Mrs. Mesta's niece, Washington journalists, Luxembourg diplomats and an embassy staff member who sometimes found madame minister difficult because she was so demanding of herself and her staff.

Mrs. Mesta died in 1975 at the age of 85. She rests in Homewood Cemetery in the family mauseoleum of George Mesta, the handsome Italian engineer she married in 1917. Founder of Pittsburgh's mighty Mesta Machine Co. in West Homestead, he died at age 63 in 1925, leaving a $78 million fortune to his young widow. Mrs. Mesta's other fortune came from her father, William B. Skirvin, an oil millionaire.

While in Luxembourg, Mrs. Mesta befriended everyone from Grand Duchess Charlotte to her charming, trusted butler. She hosted holiday parties for hundreds of children from Luxembourg orphanages. U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe visited her residence monthly, knowing they would find good food and liquor.
Soldiers signed a guestbook, giving their home addresses. Afterward, Mrs. Mesta personally wrote to their parents to assure them of their sons' well-being.

Aside from her leadership and diplomatic skills, the native Oklahoman was an accomplished pianist and singer, a smart businesswoman and a feminist active in politics and the National Women's Party.

And what would a gathering that honors her memory be without festivities? After the screening, a local women's history group called Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails will host a fund-raising reception with champagne, black Russian cake and Mrs. Mesta's recipe for peppermint cremepuffs. Proceeds benefit the Homewood Cemetery Historical Fund.
Homewood Cemetery is at 1599 S. Dallas Ave., Pgh., 15217. Information: 412-421-1822 or Marylynne Pitz can be reached at or 412-263-1648.

Read more:

Peter Scolari Joins Cast of WHITE'S LIES At New World Stages, Opens 3/22

Producer Aaron Grant has announced that actor Peter Scolari has joined the cast of WHITE'S LIES, a new comedy by Ben Andron & directed by Bob Cline, is scheduled to open on March 22, 2010, at New World Stages. Mr. Scolari will play the role of Alan, Joe White's best friend & law partner.

Peter Scolari is best known to TV audiences as Michael Harris, the bumbling TV producer on "Newhart." He has appeared in numerous TV shows such as "Big Love," "ER," "The West Wing," "Ally McBeal," & "The King of Queens," as well as the feature film Polar Express, which starred his old "Bosom Buddies" co-star, Tom Hanks. He has appeared on Broadway in the revival of Sly Fox, as Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray & in the Encores! productions of Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 & Out of this World. He is also one of the founding members of the Collonades Theatre Lab in NYC.

Joe White's got it all. He's handsome, he's charming, he's got a great career & a killer smile that manages to land him a different girl every night. But all that changes when his mother drops a bombshell on him: she's got cancer & her dying wish is to have a grandchild. With his bachelorhood threatened, Joe is faced with a choice. He could give up his womanizing ways and find a nice girl to settle down and have kids with... OR... he could convince his bitter, angry ex-girlfriend from college - who just happens to have a daughter in her early twenties - to pretend that her daughter is his daughter. As their tangled web of lies unravels, Joe and company find themselves on a hilarious journey full of unexpected twists and turns that will have you looking at cancer and commitment in a whole new way!
DATES: Previews: March 8, 2010 Opens: March 22, 1010

THEATRE: New World Stages ~ 340 West 50th Street

TICKETS: $75 & $60


RESERVATIONS: (212) 239- 6200 (telecharge)

Support THE ARTS! LIVE THEATRE! Go see a show this week! Send me your reviews and suggestions and I will put them in my next blog coming out next Friday! Here's to an ARTS-filled week! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS:

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper

Richard, thank you so much for the opportunity to sing (and dance with you!) tonight at the Iguana. You and Dana make the night so fun and full of laughter -- you really ARE the Steve and Edie of 54th St.! xoxo Jennifer Pade,

Dear Richard and Dana,
Last week's show was terrific! I have been away for a few weeks and I really missed the wonderful friendly atmosphere, comfortable surroundings, and fabulously talented entertainers. Keep up the great work. You have both created a place to "make mention about," and I mention it whenever I can.
Marlene Sampson

I wish BROADWAY for you. You would fill the Theatre. Can I have a front row seat though? You are BROADWAY!

Love, Jillian Laurain

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Dana Lorge and I have put our OWN spin on the variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge ( in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission).

Cover: $12 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!
This is a nice night out with the family!

For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
No one admitted before

March 31st: Frank Basile (seen here with Celeste Holm) , Deb Berman, Annie Dienerman, Stearns Matthews, Allegra Thieman ...

April 7th: Esther Beckman Group, Sina Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, RJ Shaw, Susan Winter

April 14th: Naomi Miller, Karen Oberlinjoins us!George Stella returns!

April 21st: Anaiza, Henry Dee, Rita Ellis Hammer, Jim Speake, Susan Eichhorn Young

April 28th: Hector Coris, Kecia Craig and Frank Stern!

May 5th: Anton Van Der Merwe and Julie Reyburn

May 19th: Adrienne Haan

May 26th: Michelle Collier

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall

June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn

May 19th: Michelle Collier, Barbara Gurskey

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