Bring Back The Variety Show!

Happy Birthday, Helen Reddy!
"Is it really so difficult to tell a good action from a bad one? I think one usually knows right away or a moment afterward, in a horrid flash of regret."
- Mary McCarthy, American author and critic (born 1912, died this day in 1989)

Happy Tuesday!
I hope this finds you well. A crisp autumn day in New York. The day will end with a group of friends having dinner and seeing Jason Graae. If Jason had lived at another time, he would have his own variety show. That man can do it all!
Really looking forward to this.
Sunday night, I was home without many options on TV. As I was channel surfing, believe it or not, I was pulled into The Lawrence Welk Show! Now, I know that most people will put this show in the category of cornball. Saturday Night Live even parodies it from time to time. But I was drawn into several things as I began to watch this show.
First of all, what a great looking group of people. There was a classiness to the show that we just don't see anymore.
Nowadays, we have Snookie, The "Real" Housewives of whatever town, Bridezillas, The A-List (Having bitchy, catty, backstabbing queens in New York wasn't enough...we now have a Dallas variety!), and a host of other "reality" shows.
Whose reality is that anyway? Certainly not mine.
Talk shows, comedians, comedies, blogs, chat boards have all given rise to saying and doing hurtful things against each other. No wonder bullying is on the rise!

Back to The Lawrence Welk Show...I was drawn in because they were doing a tribute to Walt Disney and I love the catalog of songs from The Disney Films. There is also a Disney connection on the show? Know what it is?
Robert Wilkie "Bobby" Burgess! He was also one of the original Mousketeers! I was drown in at the costumes and the dedication that each of the entertainers put into their performances. None of these people became huge stars. Yes, we remember names like Bobby and Norma Zimmer. Also Lynn Anderson had a hit with I Never Promised You A Rose Garden and The Lennon Sisters went on to a bigger success. But they were dedicated to their work and we never heard anything scandalous about their personal lives. Our parents and our grandparents felt comfortable bringing these people into our homes week after week for a couple of decades.

The series aired in Los Angeles for four years (1951–55), then nationally for another 2712 years via the ABC network (1955–71) and first-run syndication (1971–82).
Can Snookie capture an audience for that long? As I was watching The Welk Show, I got to wondering if that kind of show could succeed in today's market. 
Carol Burnett says that the expense of doing a show such as hers in today's market is next to impossible.The unions and music licensing fees are apparently too high. Look at the class of The Carol Burnett Show. A cast of 4 plus a guest star or two every week. Production numbers. Great writers. Great Bob Mackie costumes...and if they were using cue cards or teleprompters, you weren't aware of it. Look at Saturday Night Live...Why don't they take a page or two from The Carol Burnett Show?

Last night, Dancing With The Stars did a Broadway tribute. Several things struck me about last night.First of all, the show opened with a number from Sister Act. I said to a friend of mine that the ticket sales from that show had to go up today. I even want to see the show after that opening number last night! Nuns in sequined habits! Who could want anything more?
I have to be honest with you, when I first heard that Sister Act was coming to Broadway, I was excited. I LOVE the movies. HOWEVER, this summer I won the CD at a Tony party I attended. After I heard the cast recording, I lost all interest in seeing the show. The score does nothing for me. Apparently the person who put the CD in as a "prize" at the Tony party felt the same way. It was a used CD. But after seeing the number I saw last night, I am inclined to see the show. The energy on that stage came right through the TV screen. However, this new Broadway "pop" sound grates on my ears and nerves. Vocal gymnastics to see how high and shrill a singer can sing does nothing for me. I want great melodies and lyrics. THAT is why I love Jerry Herman so much!

The second thing that struck me last night is that the variety show is not exactly dead. There are some very talented and attractive dancers on Dancing With The Stars. Yes, the gimmick each week is to take a handful of "celebrities" out of their comfort zone and see who is the best. After all, it is a competition.
But imagine taking those same dancers, the great musicians that are already on the show, the great costumes by Randall Christensen, and the talent and effort that goes into this show each week and transfer it to a variety show?
I think we're on to something. And after seeing Kristen Chenowith's performance last night (she never disappoints!), I think the variety show can be brought back from the dead!

That's what I want to do with Richard Skipper Celebrates...
Each show is going to be classy and elegant with a nod to those variety shows I grew up with. Join us on November 28th for Richard Skipper Celebrates Jerry Herman!
Producer/Director/Writer/Editor: Amber Edwards Words and Music with Jerry Herman
Nov 28

THE TRIAD, 158 West 72nd Street


This is the launch of a new series. Once a month, Richard will be celebrating a different theme. 
A Benefit for Carol Channing's Foundation for the Arts. ( Anna Bergman,Diane J. Findlay, Peggy Herman, Sue Matsuki, Miles Phillips, Jana Robbins, Richard Skipper, Lee Roy Reams, Walter Willison, Bob Mattern, John Patrick Schutz, Sara Rice. RESERVATIONS A MUST! $25 just for show  OR $50 includes champagne reception with the cast.

Speaking of variety shows, today is the birthday of Helen Reddy who did many variety shows in the 70s! My era!!
The Woman I Am (Tarcher/Penguin) is an incredibly inspiring autobiography by the woman who made "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" a household phrase.
With her song "I Am Woman," Reddy provided the feminist anthem of the 1970s.
She became the first Australian to win a Grammy, to have her own prime-time variety show on a U.S. television network, and to have three number-one singles in the same year.  Then, at the height of her career, Reddy's world was shattered by the death of both her parents, and simultaneously, the news that she had a rare, incurable disease. In this riveting, frank, and ultimately brave memoir, Reddy reveals the emotional highs and lows that have shaped her as an artist and as a complex woman, with a rich inner life sustained by a strong spiritual faith.
You can still see the woman who woke up one day with the line 'I am strong, I am invincible' running around her head."
- Catherine Keenan, The Sydney Morning Herald

From the age of four when she first appeared on stage, it was clear that Reddy's star would rise. She set her heart and mind on becoming famous in America (and therefore internationally) and nothing short of dogged determinism, hard work, and her talent got her there."
-Lucy Clark, books editor, Sunday Mail

"Reddy's autobiography, The Woman I Am, offers frank insight into a woman who first took to the stage at age four and who evolved into an artist and individual sustained by her strong spiritual faith."
-Miranda Korzy, Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin

Born into a well-known Australian show business family, Helen Reddy has had a life and a career richer and more varied than anything she could ever have imagined as a girl in Melbourne.
She has dined on her birthday with the Prince of Wales, danced in the White House with the President of the United States, and had a tulip named after her in Holland.

Remember when Funny Lady came out? A television special to celebrate that! You just don't see that anymore! 

Another entertainer that I used to see on a lot of variety shows in the 70s was Loretta Lynn.
She's not doing well now. We have to keep her in our thoughts and prayers.

Loretta Lynn Diagnosed With Pneumonia DPAC Concert Rescheduled 

October 24, 2011 — (Durham, NC) - The Durham Performing Arts Center announced today that the Loretta Lynn concert originally scheduled for for Sunday, October 23 has been rescheduled for Sunday, January 8, 2012.
The original date had to be rescheduled due to illness.

From Loretta's website: 
It was fighting weekend that sent Country Music Legend Loretta Lynn into a Kentucky Hospital Emergency Room where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Loretta Lynn’s Rep say’s, “Around 1:30 AM Saturday morning, Loretta awoke on her tour bus complaining that she was having a hard time breathing.” They admitted her into a Bowling Green, KY hospital where she was treated over the weekend for the beginning stages of Bacterial Pneumonia. Loretta has been released from the hospital and is now back at her home in Hurricane Mills, TN recovering. Country Music Legend, Loretta Lynn stated, “It was one scary night… But I am feeling better and just gonna take it easy for a couple of weeks.” Loretta is scheduled to perform November 3rd in Knoxville, TN.

And Events I Highly Recommend!

Once again, 
Linda Amiel Burns, MAC Award Winning Director of THE SINGING EXPERIENCE  announces that the last 2011 workshop of The Singing Experience, "HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS", (#452) begins on Thursday evening, November 10th. Rehearsals take place at STUDIO 353 (353 West 48th Street). The 6-Session workshop will continue on Thursday, November 17th, (skip the 23rd for Thanksgiving holiday), then Wednesdays, 30th and December 7th from 7 to 1-, with a performance on Wednesday, December 14th at THE TRIAD (158 West 72nd Street, NYC - 212-362-2590 ) at 7:30 pm (tech rehearsal from 5:30 to 6:45 pm). There will be a DVD Viewing Party on Wednesday, December 21st from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Tuition includes a 2-hour professionally taped high def DVD. 
Linda Amiel Burns personally conducts each workshop. THE SINGING EXPERIENCE in its 34th season, (established 1977) was started to give aspiring cabaret and musical theater performers the opportunity to explore their talents, conquer fear, and develop self-confidence by learning the "tools of the trade" through great coaching and actually performing before audiences in a supportive, nurturing and non-competitive environment. 
For Registration and information call 212 315 3500 or email

GREAT NEWS!!!!!--- JOHN O'HURLEY (Seinfeld, Dancing With the Stars and others.
O'Hurley has also been the host of Purina's annual National Dog Show every Thanksgiving since 2002) has joined the performers roster for the Zani's Furry Friends Benefit on November 26 and the Laurie Beechman. GET YOUR TICKETS!
With Emily Buttner, Sean Harkness, Amy Ralske, Len Cariou, Phil Geoffrey Bond, Mark Janus, Eve Weiss, Tanya Moberly, Bill Zeffiro, Elena Bennett, Jonathan Russell, Peter Napolitano, David Vernon, and Deb Berman! See The Variety Show does exist!

Have your voice heard – You can make a difference!

I have been fortunate enough to call among my friends several celebrities. The one thing that I've gleaned from them beyond their bodies of work is their humanness.

Thank you to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you ALL have given to the world!

Klea Blackhurst
LOCAL 802 MUSICIAN'S HALL, 322 West 48th Street, NYC
An Afternoon Celebrating The Legacy of Jerry Herman
Richard Skipper hosts along with Klea Blackhurst, Ken Bloom, Marge Champion, Amber Edwards (Words and Music, the award winning documentary on Jerry Herman), Sondra Lee (Hello Dolly!'s original Minnie Faye), Miles Phillips, Donald Pippin, Lee Roy Reams with John Fischer on piano.

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys!
I've added a new aspect to my blog.. I am now answering a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to

"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl

Happy Birthday Mrs. C! Marion Ross is 83 today

Thank you to all who have encouraged me! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


Become A Facebook friend of mine!
Follow me on Twitter
If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at

Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME
I'm open to suggestions!


Richard Skipper,


  1. I agree with you on this wholeheartedly. I hope that the variety show format is not dead. I know that Rosie tried and failed but that might have been political more than anything. The writers AND the talent are out there. We just need to find someone with a barn and DO IT!!!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts