Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: A Time of Reflection

Ending this year on a high note: Seeing Josephine Sanges tonight at Don't Tell Mama: NYC
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. - C.S. Lewis

Happy December 30th, 2016!
December 30 is the 365th day of the year. There is one day remaining until the end of the year. Usually at this time of year, people are looking back and reflecting and being hopeful about the future.
Looking forward to celebrating the return of Hello, Dolly! to Broadway
I'm no different.
I have been looking over these TOP 10 Lists floating around. To all entertainers who are on the lists, I congratulate you. You were lucky enough to get THOSE critics in to see you. To all others, it doesn't mean you "didn't make the cut" based on merit; it means, in most cases, you were not even seen by those compiling these lists.
Very sad at the passing of Tammy Grimes this year. Lucky enough to have known her
For 2016, make the work the goal. Awards, reviews, and making Top Ten Lists are bonuses! 

I know that many are saying that 2016 has been one of the worst years ever. We have lost a lot of friends this year. However, for me, it has been about dinner with friends, seeing their shows, celebrating. THAT is what I am focusing on NOW, yesterday, and forever!
Speaking of which, I need to point something out here. 
OK, folks: I just got 'attacked' by someone one who was upset that he wasn't invited to a dinner at our home. I also had someone who I thought was a friend do the same earlier this week. We live in an age in which every move we make is now documented with photos, posts, etc. If I throw a party or a dinner and you feel excluded, PLEASE reach out to me. I am accessible by phone AND email. IF I don't respond within 24 hours, call me. I respond to all and I will never ignore anyone. I make it a point to respond to everyone. I know what it is like to be the recipient of that behavior (meaning, no response) far too many times.
There have been many (some CLOSE friends) who don't either RSVP or offer regrets. When it comes to invites, it is based on those that I interact with OUTSIDE of social media. I also make it a point to NEVER ask my friends if they are going to someone's party or after talking about a party that I've been to because I want to be sensitive to the feelings of others at this very sensitive time of year.
If I was upset for every event/party that I wasn't invited to, I would live constantly being upset. I am flattered that it means that much to you to be invited, but I am upset that others feel hurt.
Also, as crazy as this seems, I have 5,000 'friends' on Facebook. I realize that 90 percent of those are not true friends. If I send two or three private messages and I never get a response, I tend to 'unfriend' because I sense no interest. I do this because I am out on a regular basis and people are constantly giving me their business cards. I need to make room for those that DO desire to interact with me.

Facebook has skewed the way we interact with one another. PLEASE reach out if you feel slighted. Many times what you consider a slight has to do with variables that have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! I'm accessible!
A TRUE friend of mine weighed in:  Isn't it your prerogative? When did we become a society that has the audacity to question a person "why wasn't I invited?" Really? I think "social media" has destroyed the word and definition of "friend" and what that truly means. 
I happen to agree with her. 
Another friend weighed in as well:So sorry that people are like that. Just because you are friends with someone does not entitle them to anything you do. What happens when you host a small intimate gathering? You can invite them all and should not. When we were doing annual
birthday/Christmas parties, that would be about the only time we hear from them. We have had some people that we had been doing home dinners and parties for over 30 years and what did we get in return from them = ziltch ! They would do things with their neighbors but not us.
I agree with that statement as well.    

Working to be the best ME in 2017: Share 3 things you feel grateful for that I did over the past 12 months.
We stand together no matter what.
We cannot allow the progress we’ve made to be lost. We stand together, we’re not giving up.
In addition to the wonderful entertainers that I have either been able to share a stage with or even to be in the audience of, a big THANK YOU! I would also like to acknowledge the great musicians that I have made music with especially Michael Lavine and Bryon Sommers. Also, thank you Jeff Carney, Rex Benincasa, Donn Kelly, and Steve Bartosik. I'd like to thank all of the radio stations and radio hosts who have given me a platform and a voice. I loved co-hosting Talk of the Town with Lisa Dascoli this year. Thank you to our engineer Patrick Mirucki. I'd like to thank all of the guests who joined us this year and to all who tuned in. Lisa and I are assessing our next chapter and hope to have some news to report soon.
with Julie Budd
I'd like to thank Julie Budd, David Meulemans, as well as the artists who entrusted me with their PR needs this year. It made me appreciate that side of the business even more so. For those of you who are contemplating a publicist for the new year, I can help you weigh the pros and cons. 
Regardless of what side you are on, there are always so many variables involved. 
A recent dinner at our home
The first show I saw in 2016 was Ed Asner at The Metropolitan Room. Thank you Beck Lee for arranging that as well as all the other shows you arranged for me to see over the past year. I'm looking forward to beginning 2017 with Marilyn Maye, once again at the Metropolitan Room (on the 5th).
Getting started once again on my book celebrating the legacy of Hello, Dolly! I am on the fast track. Will keep you posted. 
Saw Charles Baran's Show in February. Woe cannot believe it has been that long. He and his husband then joined us to see Marta Sanders. She is returning again in January and you can rest assured, I once again will be there.
Richard Skipper Celebrates Halloween 2016 with Leanne Borghesi, Marta Sanders, Deborah Stone, Laurie Krauz, and Kelley Karel as The Singing Hillary Clinton
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere-
Chinese proverb

I want to thank all that I have interviewed this year and especially Harlan Boll for setting up many of those interviews. My next one will be on January 4th at 4PM with Loretta Swit. I can't think of a better way to kick off the New Year and I am looking forward. 
I also have enjoyed my involvement with American Popular Song Society this year. They meet on the 2nd Saturday from October through June and it is truly the best bargain in town. It is $50.00 for a year to be a member and attend all shows. It is $10.00 at the door. 2017 kicks off on January 14th. Please join us. American Songs, British Singers. It is held at Local 802 Musicians Hall.

David Maister, a Brit who teaches seminars on the history
Celebrate 2017 with Music
of popular music in Boston, will, with extensive use of performance videos, explore how British performers took popular American hit songs and turned them into hits in Britain and around the world. In many cases, these performers took American songs and made them even more popular back in the U.S. than the originals had been.
Here are a few of my highlights This Year 

Exciting Things coming in 2017. Stay tuned...
Producing an event at APSS celebrating Peter Filichia's The Great Parade celebrating the Broadway season of 1963-64. Check it out HERE

Celebrating my 55th Birthday at The Harp Bar with Sarah Rice, David Vernon, and Fred Barton. 

Working with Sally Darling and Wendy Scherl and getting to become their friend. 

Attending William Madison's book signing of his biography of Madelyn Kahn along with Joanna Gleason, Barbara Barrie, and Austin Pendleton. 

Seeing Fun Home on Broadway with Michael Cerveris and Rebecca Luker.
Rebecca Luker as Helen Bechdel in Fun Home.(Source: TheaterMania.com)


Attending Robert Cohen's recital in his home and then seeing Tanya Moberly's amazing show later that night. 

Hosting The Salon with Peggy Eason as featured artist. 

My Facebook LIVE interviews.


Seeing Lisa Dascoli give Mrs. Robinson a run for her moment in The Graduate on the 37th anniversary of my coming to New York

My annual trip to Malibu.

Seeing Chasing Rainbows starring Ruby Rakos at Goodspeed Opera House. A special shoutout to Lisa Hale and the entire Goodspeed family for always making me feel so welcome. I saw every show in their season and I am looking forward to next season. 

Being crowned King of the Beaux Arts Society. Thank you Tom Stevens

Seeing Cathy Szabo at Don't Tell Mama earlier this month (thank you, Sue Matsuki!)

Cathy will be part of my Richard Skipper Celebrates birthday show on February 12th Brunch show at
This Blog is dedicated to Dana Lorge who passed on earlier this year. Love and miss you every day
The Laurie Beechman Theater 1PM. Details coming soon!

Thank you Glen Charlow, Danny, Jannie Wolff,  and to my producer Russ Woolley and Wright Brothers Realty for making all of this possible!


Looking forward to the New Year! The WORD for the day is Reason. Think of this word as your mantra for the day. First apply the word to yourself, THEN apply this word to EVERYONE YOU meet. Think of this word as you respond to EVERY POST you see throughout the day. The word for TODAY is Reason! Please pay it forward...
Please send your suggestions for future blogs to Richard@RichardSkipper.com

Thank you, to all mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give! 

Become a sponsor of Richard Skipper Celebrates, and get your banner in this blog with huge readership!
http://www.richardskipper.com/sponsors.html



With grateful XOXOXs from YOUR pro-active friend,
 





Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Call on Dolly: From Carol to Bette!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!



Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!  
16 Days till showtime: Please celebrate with us January 16th, 2017!
Richard Skipper Celebrates...The 53rd Anniversary of Hello, Dolly! Opening on Broadway 7PM at the Triad on Janurary 16th, 2017 featured guests will INCLUDE Beth Fowler, Lee Roy Reams, Sondra Lee, Rita McKenzie...AND Marilyn Maye. 
 Tedd Firth Musical Director with Jeff Carney on bass and Rex Benincasa on percussion.  Richard Skipper Celebrates: A Talk/Variety Show encouraging us to celebrate each and every day and the hidden gems therein.
 Wear David Merrick red for amazing photo ops. 
Tickets are $30.00 plus a two drink minimum.  Reservations a MUST! To purchase , go to THEIR website. http://www.triadnyc.com/buy-tickets  Mix and mingle with the cast  afterwards. You never know who may show up! ;)

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook

Countdown to Bette Midler's Opening Night in Dolly:110 Days!
Today, I celebrate Cady Huffman, Dolly in Stock

If you have any questions/comments/suggestions, please share with me

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com









Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debbie Reynolds: A TRUE STAR

The Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds
They literally threw away our history and I just got caught up in it.
-Debbie Reynolds in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

It is December 29th, 2017!
We were just sitting down to dinner last night when friends started calling with the bad news. They called because they know of my love of Debbie Reynolds. I've always been a huge fan. I immediately reached out to my dear friend Stephen Sorrentino. Not only did he use to open for Debbie, but he was a true friend as well.
Although I saw Debbie's incredible show in Atlantic City several years ago, I never personally met her which will always be a huge disappointment for me. I did, however, get the opportunity to interview her two years ago on the eve of the final auction for her Hollywood memorabilia. This interview was thanks to Stephen. I will always remember how warm and inviting she was although she was incredibly sad about a sick friend that she was going to see after the interview. I offered to call at another time but she insisted we do the interview then because she had promised me the interview. HERE is the blog I wrote based on that interview. CLICK HERE for a special portion of our interview.

Her last New York engagement was at the Carlyle here in New York and I am still kicking myself that I was unable to get there.
With Harve Prenell in my favorite Debbie Reynolds movie: The Unsinkable Molly Brown
I have ALWAYS loved Debbie. I got up this morning and turned on the radio. The first song I heard was Tammy. It immediately took me back. My mom and dad had an 8-track collection of songs from the Fifties. The track I listened to over and over was Debbie Reynold's track of Tammy.

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher - Happy Days/You Made Me Love You

When I was seventeen years old, I got cast in my first big role, Roberts, the butler, in The Unsinkable Molly Brown with The Theater of the Republic in my hometown of Conway, South Carolina.  I listened to the original Broadway cast recording starring Tammy Grimes (who also passed away earlier this year) and the soundtrack starring Debbie Reynolds over and over although I did not have a singing role. I fell in love with the message of I Ain't Down Yet and the determination to succeed against all odds. I, of course, fell in love with the movie, as well. It was a role that Debbie had to fight for. The part would eventually bring Debbie her only Academy Award nomination, but she was not the first
choice for the role. In fact, she had to fight just to get the director, Charles Walters to direct her.
He and MGM desired Shirley MacLaine, AND  she was eager to play the role. No sooner had she signed, however, than independent producer Hal Wallis, who had brought her to Hollywood in the '50s, claimed that she was still under contract to him. The legal complications forced MacLaine to withdraw from the role, which producer Lawrence Weingarten then offered to Reynolds. She jumped at the opportunity to star in a big musical of her own, even though she had to accept a lower fee than had been offered to MacLaine.
Read an earlier blog I wrote celebrating Debbie Reynolds HERE
According to the TCM website, Debbie had to deal with MacLaine, who 'accused her of undercutting MacLaine's price to steal the role from her'. Reynolds did her best to mollify her, arguing that MGM couldn't make the film with Wallis threatening a lawsuit and pleading that it was her last chance for a great film role. On the whole, she got off easier than Hollywood Reporter columnist Mike Connolly. When he reported that MacLaine had lost the part before any decision had even been made, she decked him.
An Excellent book that details the trials and tribulations of filming The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Reynolds' next hurdle was director Charles Walters. Although he had scored a hit directing her opposite Frank Sinatra in The Tender Trap (1955), he had his heart set on casting MacLaine as Molly Brown.
He even tried to convince Reynolds to turn the part down. When she asked why he thought she was wrong for it, he told her, "You're much too short for the role." Debbie quipped, "How short is the part?" then told him he was just plain wrong. His doubts continued through the location shooting in Colorado. In fact, he gave her so little direction that Reynolds turned to Lillian Burns, an accomplished acting coach with whom she had worked in her early days at MGM, to help her with the part. Finally, when the rushes started coming in, Walters conceded that she was right for the role. His doubts came back, however, when it came time to shoot Reynolds' biggest dance number, He's My Friend.
He even suggesting cutting it, claiming it was too tough for her to learn, but Reynolds insisted. MGM had slashed the film's budget because of cost overruns on Doctor Zhivago (1965), so Walters had to try to get the number in as few takes as possible. As insurance, he had TWO cameras simultaneously film a long take of the seven-minute number, a television technique rarely used on film. Reynolds pulled the number off without a hitch, though one of her male dancing partners fainted after it was over.
The Unsinkable Molly Brown turned out to be a huge hit for MGM,becoming the third highest-grossing film of 1964. The picture garnered six Oscar® nominations, including Reynolds' Best Actress nod. She would prove wrong in her prediction that this would be her last great role. She would go on to turn in an Oscar®-worthy performance in Albert Brooks'1996 comedy Mother. She and MacLaine would survive their differences, eventually teaming up for the television movie These Old Broads in 2001. Before that, MacLaine would play a role loosely based on Reynolds -- and with her blessing -- as the movie star mom in Postcards From the Edge (1990), written by Carrie Fisher.  (Source: TCM.com).
When I went to Denver the first time, The Molly Brown House was my number one destination stop. Of course, it is nothing like it was depicted in the movie! 
Debbie and I are even in a movie together, although we don't share screen time, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life! Just to see my name in the credits with her is a thrill!
On the Pandora Debbie Reynolds channel I created, they write: At the peak of her career, actress Debbie Reynolds was America's sweetheart, the archetypal girl-next-door; best remembered for her work in Hollywood musicals, she appeared in the genre's defining moment, Singin' in the Rain, as well as many other notable successes. Born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932 in El Paso, Texas, she entered the film industry by winning the Miss Burbank beauty contest in 1948, resulting in a contract with Warner Bros. However, the studio cast her in small roles in only two films -- 1948's The June Bride and 1950's The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady -- and she soon exited for the greener pastures of MGM, where she first appeared in Three Little Words. A more significant turn in 1950's Two Weeks with Love garnered Reynolds strong notices, and soon she was touted as the new Judy Garland, with a role in 1951's Mr. Imperium also on the horizon. Read her biographies to get more info. I feel like Debbie has always been a part of my life. She always will be. Remember The Debbie Reynolds Show in the seventies? Check THIS out.

When artists depart this world, we mourn not because we knew them, but because it was as if they knew us. Artists reveal to us who we are.
-George Takei

A Few Testimonials and Tributes
Debbie Reynolds was a lovely, caring woman who also had a wonderfully quick wit. What she didn't have was ego. After decades of being a star, she called our house once and left a message for my wife. She identified herself as "Debbie Reynolds--I'm an actress." And at the end of her message, she said, "Again, that's Debbie Reynolds, R-E-Y-N-O-L-D-S." I thought that was adorable. I thought Debbie was adorable, too. George Pennacchio Entertainment Reporter KABC-TV, Los Angeles

 As a supporter and attendee of the Thalians for over 30 years from my first Ball in 1978 when Cab Callaway was honored to the last in 2009 when Debbie and Ruta stepped down to become emeritus have so many memories worked on raffle seating and magazine committees over the years and would
schedule my yearly visit to LA to coincide with Ball would love when she poked good natured fun at Eddie Fisher and refer to herself as Princess Leia's mother never forget the look in her eye when Mickey Rooney the 2009 honoree kept going after receiving his award always felt she would be around .Pic here is from 1980 event for her museum which she sadly never could get off the ground despite her 45 years of trying..
-Daniel Gettleman

I am so saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and mentor Debbie Reynolds. What she gave to me as a single entertainer, singer and actor can never have a dollar amount put upon it.
She was kind, talented beyond belief, generous with her stage and always pushed me to be noticed by the people who know nothing of me.

Debbie Reynolds and Stephen Sorrentino
She was the embodiment of grace, gratitude and old school show business. She is the last of the breed and they are making no more like her.
The loss of her daughter I'm sure affected her beyond any comprehension and knowing the positive person that she was and having a good idea of her beliefs, I believe she needed to go with Carrie to make sure that she was OK.
Debbie was in full control of her universe at all times yet with a smile and in kindness.
She was a caretaker, a giver, a professional yet she still remained "one of the boys in the band" which made her so much more real and attractive to me.


I will never forget Debbie Reynolds and I will always keep every single word that she said to me in my heart to share with the young people and the up-and-coming artists that will shape our future.
Every time she pushed me into the spotlight that was meant for her or referred to she and I "as us".. it made me feel so special.

I asked her more times than not that when she referred" to us" what that meant. She said "The talented, old show business people like us" I would pinch myself when I would hear that each time make sure that it wasn't a dream. Dreams fo come true as one of my icons as a child had called me on the phone and asked me to work with her to begin a 5 1/2 your friendship and relationship as "co performers"
Imagine flying on a private jet with your idol and
Debbie, Todd Fisher, Stephen
mentor when she calls you over to make sure that you knew that she made you a vegetarian sandwich because it was going to be a long flight. "you and your vegetables" I laugh when I think about that.

It Is my wish for every true artist in this world to get to know, meet and work with the person or persons that you admire the most. It is the most beautiful gift that God and the universe can give you.
When they turn out to be as you had hoped... consider yourself blessed.
Thank you Debbie. Click HERE

-Stephen Sorrentino

How wonderful to receive a call from her dear 'Charity sister' Ruta Lee this afternoon (thank you George Pennacchio for arranging this). Ruta and I are going to be doing a Facebook LIVE interview over the phone on January 10th to discuss Debbie Reynolds, the Thalians, and to take your questions and comments. Please keep checking my page on Facebook for updates.
Ruta and Charity Sister Debbie
We will announce the time of our interview on the 9th. In the meantime, Debbie sat down for an interview with Ruta for Lifestyle Magazine in 2011. HERE is a snippet of that interview.

Here is a TIMELINE of Debbie throughout my life.
I was born in 1961. The year of my birth, The Pleasure of His Company was released with Fred Astaire, Lilli Palmer, and Tab Hunter. 

1966-I was five when The Singing Nun came out. 

1971- What’s the Matter with Helen?
Reynolds with Shelley Winters

1976-Debbie did a revue on Broadway called Debbie on Broadway for 14 performances.

Debbie Reynolds Live in Las Vegas 1978

1981-Debbie Reynolds Aloha Paradise Premiere ABC

1986-"Say You, Say Me" Wins Original Song: 1986 Oscars. It was presented by Gene Kelly, Debbie, and Donald O'Connor

1991-Movie Memories with Debbie
Reynolds:Debbie introduces a classic Hollywood film, then returns afterwards to talk with legendary movie stars about their careers and experiences during Hollywood's "Golden Age."

1996-Debbie talks about her life and career in show business during an 1996 interview with CNN's Larry King

2001-These Old Broads airs on TV with Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor.

2006- November 2006 Reynolds received the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Chapman University (Orange, California).

2016-December 28th, Debbie passes away the day after Carrie Fisher.

Here is a short biography of Debbie Reynolds presented by Carrie Fisher on TCM

Debbie, I Love you! Thanks for ALL you have given and will continue to give! 


Here are five of my Favorite Debbie Reynolds Moments

The World Must Be Bigger Than an Avenue from Irene 1974

Woman of the Year - Debbie Reynolds

Belly Up To The Bar Boys from The Unsinkable Molly Brown 1964

A Lady Loves Outtake from I Love Melvin 

AND OF COURSE I AIN'T DOWN YET!

As we move towards 2017, focus on the word Unsinkable.  Think of this word as your mantra every day. First apply the word to yourself, THEN apply this word to EVERYONE YOU meet.
Think of this word as you respond to EVERY POST you see throughout the day in social media. Please pay it forward...
In the meantime, let's all agree to celebrate pride in each other AND our differences.


Please send your suggestions for future blogs to Richard@RichardSkipper.com

Thank you, to all mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give! 
Thank you to Margo Feiden for the use of the Hirschfelds! 



With grateful XOXOXs from YOUR pro-active friend,
 





Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Call on Dolly: From Carol to Bette!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!



Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!  
17 Days till showtime: Please celebrate with us January 16th, 2017!
Richard Skipper Celebrates...The 53rd Anniversary of Hello, Dolly! Opening on Broadway 7PM at the Triad on Janurary 16th, 2017 featured guests will INCLUDE Beth Fowler, Lee Roy Reams, Sondra Lee, Rita McKenzie...AND Marilyn Maye. 
 Tedd Firth Musical Director with Jeff Carney on bass and Rex Benincasa on percussion.  Richard Skipper Celebrates: A Talk/Variety Show encouraging us to celebrate each and every day and the hidden gems therein.
 Wear David Merrick red for amazing photo ops. 
Tickets are $30.00 plus a two drink minimum.  Reservations a MUST! To purchase , go to THEIR website. http://www.triadnyc.com/buy-tickets  Mix and mingle with the cast  afterwards. You never know who may show up! ;)

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook

Countdown to Bette Midler's Opening Night in Dolly:
Gary Beach, Jerry Herman, Vicki, Andrew Kato, Fran Weissler
111 Days! Today, I celebrate Vicki Lewis, Dolly at Maltz Jupiter Theater 

If you have any questions/comments/suggestions, please share with me

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com