Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary to me! 30 years ago today, I arrived from SC. 18yo w/$500.00 in my pocket and never turned back! Thanks to all who I have met

30 years ago today (August 5th, 1979), I arrived in NY! Thank God, I had the opportunity to pursue my career.
I am grateful for all. And if you've been following my blogs, then you know how compassionate I am about Arts Education. So today, I'm jumping right in!
"They've got to take the money out of something besides the arts," Channing says. "Schools have got to do it."Carol Channing says, "The lack of arts education is like before the fall of the Roman Empire. See, what people don't understand is that the arts are the basic study."

"It's what we fight for when we go to war and what we dream of in a lover's lap."
She said her childhood was full of poetry and singing and credits an academic medal at Aptos Middle School not to her IQ, but to the arts. She created the Channing-Kullijian Foundation with her husband of six years, Harry Kullijian, a fellow student and beau at Aptos.
To Carol Channing, art is as important as air. "My goodness gracious, you take away the heart, the soul, the connection in society when you take away the arts," Kullijian says.

The product of San Francisco's Aptos Middle School and Lowell High School has created a foundation to raise awareness about the importance of art and music in education and provide instruments to schools.
She's hosting a benefit show Saturday, 7 p.m. at the San Francisco State University College of Creative Arts, McKenna Theatre. Tickets run from $25 to $75. (Go to for more information.)
Great news in the state of Wisconsin! Wisconsin will get nearly $320,000 in federal stimulus dollars to preserve arts jobs in the state.

The money will be divided among 18 arts organizations.

Gov. Jim Doyle's office says it will help cover artistic directors, gallery curators, volunteer coordinators, artists and education directors.
A Wisconsin Arts Board study from 2007 says the state's nonprofit arts industry generates about $418 million in economic activity annually, including 15,000 jobs.

Continuing her fight to support Arts education in our schools, Carol Channing has created a Public Service Announcement to stress the importance of the initiative.
ACC-UCC presents "Carol Channing RAISES THE ROOF!" as a Benefit Concert for ACC's Roof Repair Fund.
An unplugged evening that follows a simple format, as Carol Channing offers memories, humorous storytelling and an advance preview of her new gospel CD entitled "For Heavens Sake" and several of her signature tunes, including "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," " Little Girl From Little Rock" and, of course, "Hello, Dolly!" that brings the audience up close and personal with the Ultimate Broadway Baby. Hurry! Don't wait to make your reservations for Carol Channing RAISES THE ROOF!

WHEN: Sunday, September 6th, 2009 at 7:00PM at Altadena Community Church, 943 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena, CA 91001
TICKETS: (626) 395-9923 Balcony - $35 dollars for adults, $10 for children 13 and under. Main floor - $75, VIP - which includes a reception with Miss Channing, $125 per ticket

If theatergoers were to be polled about what they felt was the most memorable scene in musical comedy, most would probably cite the moment when the curtains part atop the stairs of the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant and Dolly Levi appears in her red Freddy Wittop gown, beginning her descent to "rejoin the human race."
Carol Channing's latest project, "For Heaven Sake," includes many of the songs she came to know and love as a child with spirituals that she learned from her family.
The CD features handpicked spirituals from Carol's childhood, taught to her by her father as well as hymns and rousing classic gospel tunes that southern gospel fans and people of all ages will know and love. The album produced by Larry Ferguson and John Wyatt will be released on Sept 18th (2009) by Daywind Records in association with Ferguson Music with major distribution in both secular and Christian retail through New Day and Word Entertainment Association a Warner Brothers Company.
Altadena Community Church was founded in 1940 by a group of people seeking a freedom of religious thought that they had not found in other churches. In 1967 ACC joined the United Church of Christ, a denomination made up of self-governing congregations from four Protestant traditions.
Each United Church of Christ congregation makes its own decisions, chooses its own pastor (who becomes a member), and respects the differing approaches of other congregations in the denomination. Member churches draw support from the UCC in many ways and, in turn, come together in the UCC to pool their resources for mutual aid and wider mission. In 1986 Altadena Community Church became the thirteenth church in the UCC denomination to declare itself Open and Affirming: People of all sexual orientations are welcome in all aspects of the life of Altadena Community Church.
For more information, go to
And Carol is pretty upset that art is an afterthought -- at best -- in our state's schools.

Ah, the perils of creating an iconic musical comedy role! That can be said to be both the magic and the frustration of the Carol Channing.

The Amazonian comedienne with the distinctively profound basso first gained recognition in the 1948 revue Lend an Ear, where she clowned through a variety of roles.
While merely a featured player, she gave an irresistibly hilarious performance as a 1920ish musical comedy flapper in the extended sketch "The Gladiola Girl." So much so that Jule Styne and Anita Loos, in the process of musicalizing the latter's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, chose the unlikely Carol — cast wildly against type — to portray Lorelei Lee, the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" gal, in the resulting 1949 smash.
Channing happily played Lorelei on Broadway and took the show out on a rollicking road tour.

After regaling audiences for five years as a misplaced 1920s flapper, what do you do next?

Especially when your property is purloined by no less than Marilyn Monroe (who died 48 years ago today!) — cast wildly to type — in the 1953 motion picture version of the musical.

For Channing, this meant finding another role. The opportunity arose to replace Rosalind Russell in Wonderful Town, in New York (briefly) and on the road.
Channing was reportedly quite good in the role, but she had two strikes against her.
Ms. Russell had scored a phenomenal personal success in the show, and was cemented in the public's mind as the one and only Ruth Sherwood by virtue of having played the role not only on Broadway but in the earlier, non-musical screen version of the play ("My Sister Eileen") on which the musical was based. What's more, a significant portion of the audience which flocked to see Carol Channing in those very same cities where she'd regaled them in Blondes were half expecting to see another variation of Lorelei Lee; Channing as Ruth Sherwood, without a single diamond, faced a tough task.
Which is the peril of creating an iconic musical comedy role.

What next? A new Broadway musical, The Vamp (1955), which lasted a mere seven weeks at the Winter Garden.
At this point, Channing got rid of her second husband, an ex-football player and co-producer of The Vamp, and got a new one, television producer Charles Lowe.
He lasted a lot longer, although the marriage ended in what you might call a sea of recriminations. But here was Carol, the legendary Lorelei; one of Broadway's biggest stars only seven years earlier, and unable to find a stage to cavort on.
Lowe arranged a round of nightclub bookings, with a fair amount of success, but still — this wasn't Broadway.
So Lowe packaged her into a new stage revue. Charles Gaynor, who devised Lend an Ear, wrote the songs and sketches for what they called Show Business, which opened in San Francisco in the fall of 1959.
Not a one-woman show, mind you; there was also a comic foil, Wally Griffin, and a French singing quartet, Les Quat' Jeudis (or the Four Thursdays, if you will).
But it was mostly Carol, which was all to the good. After 14 months on the road, the show came to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in January 1961; for the occasion, the title was changed to Show Girl and Griffin was replaced by Jules Munshin (who was much better known).
Munshin made his name on Broadway in the 1946 revue Call Me Mister and after Show Girl co-starred in the 1961 musical The Gay Life; he is best remembered as part of the Sinatra-Kelly-Munshin trio of sailors cavorting "On the Town" in the M-G-M musical of that title.

The girl of Show Girl, though, was Ms. Channing. Gaynor reprised a couple of "Gladiola Girl" songs in the proceedings ("Join Us in a Little Cup of Tea," "The Yahoo Step"); incorporated Channing's already-familiar impersonations of Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich; and gave the two stars a reportedly very funny sketch in which the Lunts fussed about the housekeeping at the recently-opened Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. (Munshin also scored in a sketch where he played a Sol Hurok-type.)
These sketches are not included on the original cast album, which has just been issued by Kritzerland in a limited release of 1,000 copies.

Mr. Munshin makes only two appearances on the disc, a negligible duet with Carol and a somewhat more interesting number with the Frenchmen. The quartet has three spots, one with each star and a French ditty of their own called "Mambo-Java" (the one song not written by Gaynor, coming from Noel Guyves).
This includes a section where one of them sneezes rhythmically while another hiccups.

Show Girl played ten weeks on Broadway, which given the economics of the day was sufficient to allow this touring enterprise to show a profit.
For the New York run, producer Lowe partnered with Oliver Smith, the celebrated scenic designer who had co-produced Carol's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Los Angeles showman James A. Doolittle.) The show then went back on the road, with Griffin resuming the place he had vacated for Munshin. And then, in late 1963, Channing undertook Hello, Dolly! and found a second iconic musical comedy role even bigger than the first.

Show Girl gives us a fine portrait of the post-Lorelei, pre-Dolly Carol Channing.
And she is quite droll. The highpoint of the CD is a sketch that has happily been included. "The Inside Story" it is called, with Ms. Channing portraying one Cecilia Sssissson, ssstar of the sssilent ssscreen.

This dame made one talking picture, "Missssissssippi Melody," and then overnight "hit the ssskidsss, ssso to ssspeak." Altogether hilarioussss.
This article courtesy : ON THE RECORD: Carol Channing's Show Girl (PLAYBILL.COM)
By Steven Suskin

Channing was scheduled to perform in San Francisco last year, but canceled after breaking her leg.

This is from Jenna Esposito:

Wednesday evening found me at the VIP Room of The Iguana for Wednesday Night Of The Iguana, the weekly open mic/singers’ showcase hosted by the talented team of Richard Skipper and Dana Lorge. Started by Joan Crowe and recently passed into the capable hands of the aforementioned dynamic duo, this 3-hour show includes five featured performers, each of whom perform 3-song sets, as well as a variety of other talented singers whose names are drawn out of a hat to insure fair treatment for all. I had received a last minute request to fill in as one of the five featured performers for that evening, and I was thrilled to be able to do so.

It ended up being a really terrific night of entertainment, with wonderful performances by the other four featured performers (Deb Berman, Susan Winter, Jana Robbins, and Maureen Taylor), as well as by some of the other singers who found their way to the stage that night (including Sarah Rice, Esther Beckman, Jillian Laurain, and Joan Crowe). Richard and Dana did a wonderful job as hosts - they were charming, gracious, welcoming, and had a nice, natural rapport with each other and the audience...and their songs were great, as well!
Taken from The Cabaret Chronicles by Jenna Esposito

You’ve got to give respect to our old pal Joan Rivers, the girl never gives up. Her new show “How’d You Get So Rich?” will air opposite Jay Leno’s new 10 p.m. NBC show. Rivers claimed that she is delighted with Leno competing with her and says, “Leno has become very boring. Nobody remembers what he says anymore. So, let him try and play the game with me, maybe he’ll learn a few things.”

If you remember, after several appearances on the “Johnny Carson” show years before his passing, the legendary nighttime king refused to have her on his regular guest list. Carson claimed that Joan was a bit too aggressive for him. When she wanted something, there was nothing she would not do to get it.
Obviously, the surviving Rivers has been deeply affected by the hardness and insensitivity of the business, giving her the image that many have had to develop in order to remain marketable.

I take my hat off to Joan for staying alive, where many in her generation gave up without a fight.

Madonna is excited about the release of her “Celebration” album. It spotlights her greatest hits and she swears that she will do anything and go any place to show people her gratitude. “I have much to be thankful for,” she said. “I have a wonderful life that affords me to meet some of the most exciting people in the world. I receive thousands of e-mails and letters every week from young people who tell me that I inspire them to make something of their lives.
Now this makes me feel good. I came from a rather poor background and I know how it feels to dream and hope for something better. You know, there is so much darkness and unhappiness in the world today, and anything that I can do to make things a little better, I want to do it.
Life can be beautiful but we must realize that it takes work – and the challenge itself makes it all exciting and worthwhile.”

In the early ‘70s, Lorna Luft was approached to co-host a weekly talk show, but because of scheduling, it didn’t work out. Lorna is a fantastic singer, easily rivaling her sister, Liza Minnelli. Unfortunately, she never really got the big “push” that Liza received when starting her career.

However, she has appeared in numerous Road Productions of Broadway shows, wowing the audience every time she hit the stage. She appeared on the bill with the late star Bea Arthur and Rita Moreno. Her voice was undamaged, even better than her late mom or sister, Liza.

Now she has been approached by producer Burt Mayo to release an album of her mother’s most famous songs introduced in films. I think it will be an exciting project. “I have always loved the songs she did and when she wasn’t around, I would sing them over and over again.”

Lorna admitted that both she and Liza have hesitated to revamp Judy’s music because her fan base is still extremely strong, and they didn’t want to do anything which might offend them. “No matter where we go in the world,” Lorna noted, “people mention momma with such love and loyalty. To them, she is still with us and in a way, she is. It’s all about the music, isn’t it?”

By Lorna Luft

Was another celebrity killed by an enabler who happened to be a physician? I lost my mother, legend Judy Garland, on June 22 1969, 40 years ago, to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. She was only 47 years old. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was only 16. I remember the burning pain, confusion, the sense of fear of ‘what’s going to happen to me,’ and of course a sense of loss I have never gotten over.Lorna-Luft-Judy-Garland

Over the past forty years I have relived her passing away every single day. When I see one of her numerous movies shown on television, pass by a store with her iconic photo as the little girl from Kansas, Dorothy Gale, or hear one of her recordings, I remember her brilliant artistry on countless stages.

My mother was a magnificent human being and a talent we will never see again. And yes, my mother was addicted to prescription drugs. I spent my early adolescent years filling her prescription medications with sugar so she wouldn’t overdose. In the end, no one could have saved her. We did not have the knowledge, education and facilities we have now.

I know we have all heard this story before. I wrote a book about my life in the hope that telling my story would shed some light, and make a difference in the way many people viewed a life that ended way before its time. It was also the story of how far we have come in the education and knowledge of the world of addiction. In the book I told of how I battled my own addiction and have been sober for 26 years.

But what has saddened, disturbed, angered and frustrated me in the last 40 years is still the unethical and irresponsible way that many doctors in the medical field continue to over-prescribe drugs to celebrities and the rich and famous. It seems that we haven’t learned anything over the past 4 decades.

The countless stories I hear of being able to walk into certain doctors’ offices and walk out with a shopping cart full of prescription drugs is endless. We have all heard the stories of the various “Dr Feelgoods” in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and now. Also, we hear countless references to drugs in rhythm and blues and rock n roll lyrics. We have also heard the phrases “Mother’s Little Helpers” for decades.

I think a lot of blame can be attributed to the culture we live in, the financial benefits to all concerned, and the fanaticism of being around the wealthy and famous. Like moths to a flame, some think maybe their fame will rub off on the one who stands nearest the “Star.”

My belief is that the responsibility of the addict is absolutely number one, but we can’t forget the enablers who have helped them all on their journey into the abyss – the ones who have “lied” to protect, “deceived” to protect, “loved them” to protect, and most importantly, BENEFITTED FROM their addiction. God only knows I know how hard it is to have an addict in your life. The pain, grief and chaos it causes is unbelievable and unbearable. I stand with everyone who has fought to get peace and serenity in their tumultuous lives.

We are facing a moral and ethical dilemma: shameful doctors who took an oath to save lives have now helped destroy them. These people must be severely prosecuted and given long and healthy prison sentences.

To the countless people who have lost a loved one and who are suffering the same pain, anger and bottomless grief in their lives today: Stand up and say, “No more!”
Let’s not let our poor, lost and sick souls who we loved with all our hearts and whose we couldn’t reach, die in vain.

For more information, visit

Murrieta Repertory Theatre recently received a grant from the California Arts Council to start a program that provides after-school theater lessons to K-12 students.

"It's about sharing our expertise in the field of theater with the students in our area," said the group's artistic director, Jim Marbury.
Artists in Schools is a statewide program that partners community groups with schools to provide education in arts for all students.

The program gives out two types of grants -- a planning grant for organizations establishing a program, and a grant for groups continuing their existing program.

Murrieta Repertory Theatre is the only group in the Inland region to receive the $2,500 planning grant this year, while Riverside Arts Council and Sinfonia Mexicana in San Bernardino received $7,200 each to fund continuing programs, said Mary Beth Barber, spokeswoman for the California Arts Council.

Murrieta Repertory Theatre used to perform at the Murrieta Community Center but recently moved its performances to locations in Hemet.

Marbury said the 12-week program, set to begin in the 2010-11 school year, will be open to students from schools in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Students will be exposed to acting, directing, writing and the technical aspects of theater production.

He said that theater teaches students critical thinking skills, teamwork and ways to express themselves.

For information about Artists in Schools, visit

LIZA MINNELLI has dismissed rumours of a guest appearance on hit U.S. show UGLY BETTY - after she was spotted dining with TV bosses in New York.
The Cabaret star sent internet gossips into a spin after she was recently seen having lunch with Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta, executive producer Richard Hues and casting director Geoff Soffer at Manhattan's Waverly Inn.
The sighting sparked rumours Minnelli was lined up for a cameo role in the programme - but a representative for the star insists Minnelli is actually set to join the cast of comedy series Drop Dead Diva, not Ugly Betty.
The rep tells New York Post gossip column PageSix, "Liza is not scheduled to appear on Ugly Betty. She is, however, going to be appearing in an episode of Drop Dead Diva that airs on Lifetime on Sept. 6. Hope that clears things up.”
To learn more about Murrieta Repertory Theatre, visit

Reach Erica Shen at 951-763-3466 or

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper

IGUANA VIP LOUNGE, 240 West 54th Street, NYC
Tonight, we are celebrating Richard's thirtieth Year in New York. Richard arrived in NYC on Aug 5th, 1979. Richard Skipper, along with Dana Lorge host. What they are doing is NOT being done anywhere else! Each week will showcase 5 entertainers. Other entertainers that show up will be inserted throughout the show as time permits/this is done by lottery! AND each are joined by Barry Levitt on keyboard and Morrie Louden on bass. Each week will be different. The price is ONLY $10.00 with NO food or drink minimum (although the food at The Iguana is top notch). This is a nice night out with the family! The show will also be done with class and elegance. A "throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with.

Tonight's guests include: Sandi Durell, Bobbie Horowitz, Carolyn Ohlbaum, Brent Winborn ... and a few other surprises as well! Remember $10.00 Cover/No food or drink minimum! Reservations a must (212) 765-5454