Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Waltons ...LIVE!, Carol Channing, Celebrating Bick Goss...and more!

"The only true measure of sucess is the ratio between what we might have done and what we might have been on the one hand, and the thing we have made and the things we have made of ourselves on the other."
-HG Wells, English author(born this date in 1866, died of 1946)

Happy Hump Day!,

Once again, we are on that hump day of knowing we have made it halfway through the week and what lies ahead over the next few days. It feels like a nice autumn day here in New York as I start my blog for today. I am sipping my coffee and listening to the original KING AND I. Gertrude Lawrence is singing GETTING TO KNOW YOU and everything is fine in my world. I found the above quote this morning and immediately thought of HG Wells The Time Machine. One of my favorite pass times is imagining what it must have been like in different eras. I truly do wish that I lived in a time when art and artistic endeavors were more respected than they are now. I see less and less focus put on art and more and more focus being on the bottom dollar. Last night I heard some "entertainment reporter" talking about Monday night's ratings on three networks. Two And A Half Men had the highest ratings (over Dancing With The Stars and The Playboy Club). Now, you would have had to be under a rock over the past year not to have seen the public melt down of Charlie Sheen. I think there were reporters chomping at the bit to have seen him truly self destruct before our very eyes so that we, the public, would be bombarded with 24 hour coverage on had sad this, at one time promising actor, had sunk. But he has moved on and hopefully we will too. He was even roasted on Comedy Central on Monday night in what was, at least to me, unfunny celebration of his addictions and spousal abuse. How low our culture has sunk.
It has been also highly publicized that Ashton Kutcher was his replacement on a show that was still respectable in the ratings despite the ongoing antics of Mr. Sheen. Well, it paid off BIG TIME! The ratings were their highest in the entire series. I think this is their eighth year. Last year an estimated 15 million people tuned in to the first episode of the season. This year, that had jumped up by more than 50 percent. Only time will tell if those ratings will continue to soar or at least stay in that range. Now, my question is, did people tune in because they were genuinely interested OR did the hype pull them in? Never underestimate where the American public will go. They do not always gravitate to the BEST, but rather to where the media leads them. So sorry to miss Two and a Half Men Monday night. Of course I missed the other 8 seasons too.

Now on ABC, there was Dancing With The Stars which came in a distant second in the ratings. Now, this show has not been without its own controversy this season, although unwarranted...or was it? I don't know what the criteria is with the producers in terms of how they decide on their "stars" each season. I know NOTHING of Rod Kardashian except that he comes from a family that are famous for being famous. If I'm not mistaken, Kim got on the map with a sex tape. I had never heard of him before this week. I have no idea who Cheryl Burke is. And it also pays to date someone famous! How else would George Clooney's girlfriend have made it to a top ABC program? Ron Artest might have a rippling torso but it was not enough to keep him and his partner Peta Murgatroyd in the show past week 1. The LA Lakers basketballer had ladies (and a few men) in a fluster with his body but he was kicked out after just a few performances. He was the first to go.

But the big controversy this season is Chaz Bono. Chaz has courageously put a face on transgender and I applaud him for it. The new season of Dancing with the Stars debuted Monday night and controversy is still swirling over the inclusion of transsexual contestant Chaz Bono -- a star via his famous parents, Sonny and Cher. (Bono, born Chastity, became a man two years ago and has a female dance partner.)
Dr. Keith Ablow, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, appeared on the Bill O’Reilly show Monday night and posted this commentary on Fox News telling parents not to let their kids watch Bono on the show since it might influence them to question their own gender identity.
This is something that confuses people of all walks of life. I think the big problem in our culture is that people want everything to be in black and white and it never is. There are many colors and hues to the fabric of our lives. Why can't we just accept that? Years ago, I was appearing in Provincetown and the weekend I was there, Fantasy Fest (a cross dressers convention) was going on, Entres Nous (a gay leather biker's group from Boston), and there was an AA convention going on ALL in the same weekend! I had the most incredible audiences that weekend! Carol Channing once said that in order for a show to be successful, you had to have people from all walks of life coming together in a collective group to enjoy the shows put before them. To my entertainer friends, think about this the next time you are appearing at a country club! They are the worst audiences in the world! They are ALL the same and they are not there to see you. They are there to see each other! In the gay community, there are some guys who seek out others that look exactly like them. They are BORING couples because there are no differences between them. I think the reason my relationship succeeds is because of the differences between the two of us.You've got to be carefully taught!

Boy, did I digress! Back to Chaz and Dancing With The Stars.
(Chaz Bono, left, and Lacey Schwimmer practice dance steps while rehearsing for "Dancing of the Stars". AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

When it was announced that Chaz would be appearing on this year's season, there was an uproar heard around the world. There were some who said they would no longer be watching.
Some said they would not allow their children to watch. And then there were some political and religious "leaders" who said that ABC (owned by Disney) had a homosexual agenda. I'm glad all this happened. Hatred needs to be exposed. It has always amazed me how many people KNOW what "God" thinks and what "God" wants. I admire those who think for themselves and are able to make up their minds. As a 50 year old man, I know what is right and what is wrong. If you are confused, I'll help you.

LOVE is right and HATRED and prejudice (in any form) is wrong. I lead a very full life and as a result, I don't have time to concern myself with what everyone else is doing. As long as it doesn't involve children and animals and as long as it involves two or more consenting adults and does not impede the progress of others, what YOU do is none of my business. If you don't like what is on a TV program, you have many other options! Once again, Dancing with the Stars season 13 has eliminated Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd from its 12 contestants on Tuesday, September 20.Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace was the first one, who has to bury his dream to claim the mirror ball title after he was placed in the bottom of scoreboard with 14 out of a possible 30 points from Monday’s act.
The Los Angeles Lakers basketball player was sent home after landing in the danger zone next to Nancy Grace in last night's live results show.
Artest was gracious in defeat, asking the audience to give Peta a round of applause.
When he performed the night before the judges gave him just 14 out of 30.
Unsurprisingly the sportsman was most excited about getting up close and personal with Peta than the dancing:
‘I wasn’t focused,’
‘I knew I was going to smack Peta’s booty and I was waiting for that part!’

A couple of days ago, someone said to me, I HATE THAT SHOW! Then don't watch it. I happen to enjoy the show. It employs a lot of people...including a few I know personally. It also takes people that we know, and some that we don't know, and takes them out of their comfort zones and pushes them to the edge. THAT, I like! I, for one, WILL be watching, when my schedule allows it.

Now, the third show discussed in Monday night's lineup was The Playboy Club. It was considered the "loser" because it only received an estimated 5 million viewers! I would be very happy and content with that many viewers. Can you imagine if 5 million readers read my blog today? I would be ecstatic! In today's culture, it's not good enough if you do good work, it has to be BETTER than the "competition". If a film does not make it into the top 5 in two or three weeks, it will be yanked from movie theaters. If a show does not surpass the "competition", it gets yanked. ALL IN THE FAMILY, DESIGNING WOMEN, and M*A*S*H, three shows that I love were given a chance by moving them around until they found their audience. I hope the same can be said of this season's shows. And tonight, I will be watching my favorite show currently on TV, Modern Family. I'm not alone in my thoughts. It swept the Emmys Sunday night!

Now, back to that time machine I referred to earlier in this blog. I'd like to take you back to one of my all time favorite shows! I still try to catch it when it appears on TV, THE WALTONS. If you follow my blogs, you have seen I've written several blogs about that show means and meant to me. Of course, that show, although it aired in the 70s, also dealt with time travel. It took its audiences back to the 30s and 40s as it showed the inner workings of a Virginia family. Would it succeed in today's world? I believe so. I believe good entertainment will always rise to the top.
Mary McDonough's New York debut of Lessons From the Mountain: What I Learned From Erin Walton, featuring a Q&A with TV brother, Richard Thomas, can only be defined as a success.It kills me that I missed this!I was in Malibu when this happened.
“Not an empty seat in the house,” optimistically remarked Ms. McDonough. After introductions, Mr. Thomas commented, “I am very proud of Mary. Who would have thought the shy one would write the first book?” Adding, “It was wonderful to read because it reminded me of all the wonderful stories of our time working together.”

Successful sales statistics, released immediately following the signing are contributed, in part, to Ms. McDonough's earlier appearance on the TODAY SHOW, with Amazon reporting Lessons From the Mountain holding the number six spot in Entertainment/Movies, The number one spot in Entertainment/TV and number 289 overall, as well as the number one spot in the growing popularity of Kindle sales (Arts&Ent/Television). Barnes and Noble reported a number one in sales for TV as well as number sixty-one in overall sales (book sales not reported on Publishers Marketplace).

Ms. McDonough hopes to recreate the New York success in Los Angeles, with a Q&A/signing appearance scheduled in Los Angeles with TV mom, Michael Learned, during the West Hollywood Book Fair on Oct 2nd. If you are in the area, PLEASE attend and tell Mary I sent you!2:15pm to 3:00pm - LESSONS FROM WALTONS MOUNTAIN with Mary McDonough, Michael Learned From the beloved “The Waltons” television series, join cast members (Mary McDonough & Michael Learned) as they share “Lessons from the Mountain.” Signing to follow at 3:00pm (Book Soup Books Booth).

What's next? The entire cast (with the exception of Ralph Waite - Father/John Walton. Sr. - who is working on location) will be gathering in New Jersey and New York for the 40th anniversary celebration of the hit series that ran just over a decade. A Q&A is planned with the cast in connection with a screening of the movie that began it all, "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story."
I cannot wait! If you would like to join our party, please let me know and I will add you to our party!Friday, December 2nd at 7:00pm -
WHERE: LOEW'S JERSEY THEATRE - 54 Journal Square Jersey City, NJ (across the street from Journal Square)

"A television masterpiece" says The TODAY SHOW. There has recently been a renewed interest in "The Waltons," which may have more to do with the times that we are currently living in, than with the upcoming 40th Anniversary.
Cast members feel audiences can relate to families living in the depression era - especially one preparing to celebrate Christmas together as in the movie.
Though times are tough, much like today, Love and Sharing are abundant in this family.
An inspiring tale of love, hope and spirit, this deeply moving story goes far beyond the boundaries of time and place to reach out and touch everyone, everywhere. (Photo Credit for Barnes and Noble Pics: Don Couch)

Sunday night, I watched The Emmys. Three hours of my time, I wish I had back. One of the worst produced and written shows I have ever seen! What happened to good materials. Let me host them next year without a script! I guarantee one of the best awards shows you've seen in years...and I'll do it with class! Again, Sunday night's episode was another example of the dummying down of America! I wish that I had been in Palm Springs to watch the telecast with Carol Channing and friends.
(Alison Arngrim, Barbara Van Orden, Davis Gaines, Harry Kullijian, Jackie Speier, Carol Channing, Rex Smith, Jonelle Allen and Kamilah Marshall)

Veterans of the Great White Way, such as Kaye Ballard, as well as new comers to the boards of Broadway like Alison Arngrim, joined legend Carol Channing for a Palm Springs EMMY® night party with a New York theatrical twist, featuring performances by Tony nominated Jonelle Allen (Two Gentlemen of Verona) singing “Stormy Weather” and Kamilah Marshall's (Hairspray & Rent) moving rendition of “Orange Colored Sky,” while Rex Smith (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Grand Hotel & Pirates of Penzance) offered “This Is The Moment” and Davis Gaines (The Phantom of the Opera & Camelot) revived his role of Cornelius Hackle opposite Ms. Channing by singing “It Only Takes A Moment,” as well as the still powerful voice of former Vegas and Playboy Club headliner, Barbara Van Orden, whose return to the stage gave patrons a bold and bawdy rendition of Chicago's “When You're Good To Mama.” And, of course, the evening biggest mother hen, Ms. Channing herself graced the audience with her latest battle hymn “The Show Must Go On.”

(Harry Kullijian, Jackie Speier, Carol Channing)

The Dr. Channing/Kullijian Foundation's Executive Director, David Green, designed the evening to raise both funds and awareness of the need for Arts in education. “Children need the Arts in order to express their individual personalities, to discover their own voices and to alleviate their frustrations brought on by society in a safe atmosphere of the school system. What do you think graffiti is? Just children without an outlet to express themselves.” Among the highlights of the evening was a presentation of the first ARTS STAR AWARD to Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), who authored joint resolution HR 275, a concurrent resolution designating a week in September as “Arts in Education Week” and then successfully champion it through a unanimous vote in both the House and the Senate last year.

(Jonelle Allen, Alison Arngrim, Kaye Ballard and Davis Gaines)

Carol Channing is arguably one of the most recognized and impersonated entertainers in entertainment today … or for the past 4 decades for that matter. At 90, when many women would be happy to just accept accolades for past career achievements and bask in the well earned title of “First Lady of the American Musical Theatre,” Channing made the conscious decision to remove the diamonds, set aside the lashes and dispose of the wigs in order to dedicate the rest of her life, along with her husband Harry Kullijian, to restore the arts back where they belong, in our country's public schools. Channing's October appearances to advance the cause consist of a benefit Q&A at Disneyland on Oct 2nd, an autograph show (for which all items purchased will benefit the C/K Foundation) in Burbank CA on Oct 8th and 9th, appearing on stage with Broadway notables such as Hugh Jackman and Catherine Zetta-Jones on Oct 15th in Los Angeles and then off to Houston Texas for a benefit Luncheon at the Huffington Center, followed by a CD signing at Barnes & Noble (River Oaks Shopping Center) on Oct 26th, etc. May we just say, “Look at the Old Girl Now Fellas!”
(Congresswoman Jackie Speier presents a framed copy of Resolution 275 to Carol Channing)

She and her husband, Harry Kullijian, founded The Channing-Kullijian Foundation For The Arts, whose mission is to restore the arts to every public school in the nation and to ensure an arts education to every child in America.

“We aren't trying to save the arts,” says Channing. “We are using the arts to save our children.” With that thought firmly embedded in her message, Ms. Channing has been using her highly recognizable voice to engage the public and inspire legislators. The songs on her upcoming CD entitled “Carol Channing: True to the Red, White & Blue” such as God Bless America, Battle Hymn of The Republic and America The Beautiful, were written at a time when our nation needed to rally together in support of a common ideal. The CD, with portions of the proceeds benefiting the Foundation, represent Ms. Channing's fervent hope that these same songs, will now ignite a sense of pride in the American public and serve again as a call to action for our children.
(Carol Channing, Geoffrey Mark and Lillian Mark)

The statement found on the inside of the CD cover states “Research shows that students involved in the arts learn to read more easily, have higher achievement levels and are less prone to dropping out. Early arts participation also dramatically enhances our children's abstract reasoning and higher brain functions required for math, science and engineering careers. If you've benefited from exposure to the arts in school like I did, you know it builds self-confidence, self-discipline and teamwork. And, ultimately this creates better, safer schools for our kids. The long-term enrichment of exposure to the arts is priceless both to each individual and to our country. This is about our children, our grandchildren and our country's future.” - Carol Channing
(Barbara Van Orden, Kaye Ballard, Jonelle Allen and Carol Channing)(Photo Credits: J.L. Maurer Photography)

On Monday night, I was lucky enough to be a part of a tribute to producer Richard "Bick" Goss. This was part of MUSICAL MONDAYS and I was asked by producer Stephen Hanks. It was quite an ordeal to get there due to all the diplomats from around the world and including our President being in town). But I made it and it was standing room only! In an East Side Penthouse overlooking the congestion at the United Nations Bick Goss was honored by the organization he founded in 1999. Mr. Goss began his career as a Bob Fosse dancer (original companies of Little Me, Sweet Charity, Dancin' and Chicago). In his role as director-choreographer-producer he has worked with Billy Crystal, Harold Prince, Gwen Verdon and with many performers who were present and performed at the festive celebration in the home of Mary Ellen Ashley & Cyrus Rubin.
Bick's Co- Producing Artistic Director Frank Evans and Board President Stephen Hanks hosted the evening. Musical Monday Theatre Lab is celebrating its 12th anniversary presenting a first look at new musicals. Previous shows include the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning NEXT TO NORMAL under the title of Feeling Electric, as well as the Kleban Award winning musical Wanda's World. An eclectic an entertaining group of performers entertained Mr. Goss and the overflow gathering. A thrilling "Here's to Life" sung by Terri White (Follies) started the evening. Other performers were Raissa Katona Bennett, Alexandra Cortese, Carl Danielsen, Beth Falcone, Ritt Henn, Jerry Lanning,Rosemary Loar, Mary Liz McNamara, Nancy Ringham, Michael Roberts, Sari Schorr, ME, Darren Williams.
(Photos Credit: Stephen Sorokoff)
On October 13 (Stephen's Birthday) Musical Mondays will present "How to Marry A Divorced Man" and on November 17, "Spoolie Girl" written by Rosemary Loar and her husband Robert Atwood. Both at the Snapple Theater Center on Broadway and 50th Street at 6:30 PM. Go to for more info.

TONIGHT is Hugh Hysell's Times Square Social Networking Party at Dave and Busters, and they have great celebs pouring out of the woodwork including Levi Johnston, Andrea McArdle (the original Annie on Broadway), authors Michael Musto and Michael Griffo, and over 50 actors from the upcoming NYMF Festival.
Dave and Busters is offering drink specials and half price games. Be there :)

Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL...with NO challenges!


Thank you Harlan Boll for many of the details of this blog.

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1 comment:

  1. I am in full agreement that the arts are needed in our public schools. So many arts programs here have already been cut. I'm glad what Carol Channing and her husband are doing and I am very happy that you continue to write about it.