Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Two new high schools for the arts debuted this past week -- a rare enough feat in a down economy.
Despite the vast differences in their circumstances, it may be too early to say which of the two has the most potential to nurture the next generation of artists and performers.
The Los Angeles Unified school at 450 N. Grand Ave., perched across the 101 Freeway from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, was years in the making and is housed on one of the most expensive and widely praised campuses in the nation.
Yet it is only now shaking off more than a year of controversy and false starts in its launch to become the flagship of the district.
The Fernando Pullum Performing Arts High School at 51st Street and Broadway may have the feel of something hastily thrown together out of spare parts, but it is led by one of the city's most respected music educators and has the support of such big-name artists as Kenny Burrell, Jackson Browne, Bill Cosby and Don Cheadle.

Adding a twist to the relationship between these two fledgling schools is this: Fernando Pullum, a charter school run by the Inner City Education Foundation (and named after the music teacher who heads the foundation's arts program), doesn't plan to stay in its rented quarters for long.
It has its sights on an eventual takeover of 450 N. Grand.

"When our performing arts school is doing one amazing thing after another . . . people will say, 'Why is this school in a small church on 51st and Broadway instead of at 450 N. Grand?' " said Mike Piscal, chief executive of Inner City schools.
Charter takeovers are not unheard of -- in the last year, two L.A. Unified high schools have converted to charter status, under which they are independently managed and freed from day-to-day oversight by the district. But Piscal will get no encouragement from L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon C. Cortines.

"I don't think so," Cortines said Wednesday when asked if he could envision a charter takeover of the district's crown jewel. "It bothers me that people are looking at our new schools and sort of salivating.

I don't see them looking at the Manual Arts and the Muirs and the Jeffersons and the Fremonts” -- a list of some of the district's oldest, lowest-performing schools.

However the competition plays out, both arts schools opened in a burst of optimism and magnanimity.
They were among a host of new schools opening in Los Angeles this fall, both charters and traditional public schools. Among them were two new elementary schools at the Mid-Wilshire site once occupied by the Ambassador Hotel, the first of several schools planned for the property.
There was an almost giddy feeling Wednesday morning as students streamed onto the Grand Avenue arts campus for their first day of school.
"We're very excited," said a beaming Rex Patton, executive director of the school, still known only as Central High School #9 for the Visual and Performing Arts.
The downtown school, on the site of the former school district headquarters, had a difficult birth, with years of debate over who would attend and how the students would be selected, and nearly a year of recruiting difficulties before an administration team was put in place in May.
All that was set aside as students and parents roamed the campus, poring over schedules and looking for unfamiliar classrooms.
"It's beautiful," marveled Magali Arriaza, who was dropping her ninth-grade daughter at the gate.
"We've waited a long time for a school like this," added another mother, Judith Martinez, who drove her son, Eric Marquez, from East Los Angeles, where his neighborhood school is Roosevelt High.
She said he is a singer and dancer who previously attended Millikan Middle School’s performing arts magnet in Sherman Oaks. "This area hasn't had any kind of school for kids interested in the arts," she said.
The school had enrolled 1,279 students in grades 9, 10 and 11 as of Monday, Principal Suzanne Blake said (there will be no senior class until next year). In the ninth grade, she said, the school hit its targeted balance of 70% students from the surrounding neighborhood and 30% from elsewhere in the district.
In the upper grades, she said, the mix was closer to 60% to 40%.

The geographic balance was the result of a political compromise on the Board of Education between those who believed the school was promised to the surrounding neighborhood and should serve only its children, and those who believed that such a landmark campus should serve the best young dancers, musicians, actors and visual artists in the city.
Another debate turned on whether students should be admitted on the basis of ability.
If the physical facility was the initial draw for many at 450 N. Grand, the magnet at the Fernando Pullum charter school was . . . Fernando Pullum. An award-winning teacher and musician who spent many years leading a music program at Washington Prep High School, Pullum was recruited to the Inner City Education Foundation two years ago and has a modest goal for the new school that carries his name.
"This is going to be the best school in the entire world," he assured about 135 ninth- and 10th-graders at an opening-day assembly Tuesday in the sanctuary of the school's new home, Paradise Baptist Church.

Pullum said the school will measure success by the number of students who go on to college, not by how many become stars.
Among the assets that Pullum brings to the school is an iPhone filled with contacts from the entertainment industry, where he moonlights as a working musician.
Already, he has aired radio ads for the school featuring Cosby and Cheadle, and has commitments from institutions that include the Creative Artists Agency, UCLA, the Grammy Foundation and the Music Center.
"Wherever he goes is where I go," said the Creative Artists Agency's Michael Yanover, who has brought such celebrities as Roger Daltrey of the Who, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and Oscar-winning director Taylor Hackford to work with Pullum's students in the past.

Plans have already been announced for the artists Jackson Browne and Fishbone to appear at the school this month as part of the John Lennon Educational Bus Tour. Browne has volunteered at Pullum's schools for years, and Pullum plays in Fishbone's band.

Pullum's counterparts at 450 N. Grand have lined up their own list of arts-world partners, including the Music Center, Colburn School of Music, Museum of Contemporary Art and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, suggesting a continuing eagerness by the creative community to fill in the gaps in schools' arts classes.

Although existing arts schools -- and there are a number in Southern California -- might be expected to resent the new faces on the block, Principal Leah Bass-Baylis of the CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts in Van Nuys said she welcomes them.
"There's such a dearth of opportunity for quality arts education," she said. "You know, I think of everybody as partners."

In a city this size, Bass-Baylis said, "there's enough to go around. There are definitely enough kids to go around."

The Fund for Creative Communities of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
with support from the New York State Council on the Arts has announced open
applications to their grant program; the application deadline is September
22, 2009.

The Fund supports small and midsized non-profit organizations that provide
high-quality local arts programs.
The Fund also seeks to increase access
to arts and cultural activities in neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and to
encourage new arts activities in communities where the need exists.

Grants ranging from $750 to $5,000 are awarded to non-profit organizations
and to artists applying through a fiscal sponsor for arts projects with a
public component that will benefit Manhattan communities. Through The Fund,
LMCC awards close to $300,000 each year. In our most recent cycle, the
program awarded 86 grants to enable projects in neighborhoods from Washington
Heights to the Battery. _grantmoneyauthority.com_

Broadway legend Carol Channing has been added to the celebrity appearances at the National Quartet Convention and will also perform at Derby Dinner Playhouse.
Channing will sign her new CD, “For Heaven's Sake,” Sept. 18 at the convention, in Freedom Hall.
Meet Carol Channing...TELL HER I SENT YOU!
Carol Channing will be signing her new CD "For Heaven's Sake" in Louisville, KY at the Ky Fair and Expo center during the National Quartet Convention.
Carol will sign on Friday, September 18 from 5PM-? Come meet the legend in person.

Saturday the next night you can catch her matinee show at the Derby Dinner Theater just a jump over the bridge from Louisville in Clarksville, IN.

More events should be planned by please come see her and get your CD signed on the 18th and get her dynamic record.
Then on Sept. 19, she'll perform songs from the disc and hits from her many musicals at the playhouse, in Clarksville, Ind.

For more information, call (812) 288-8281.

Charlotte - $17,500 Grant to Support 'Opera Express' Performances at CMS Elementary Schools

Charlotte - Opera Carolina, the leading professional opera company in the region, announced that The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has donated $17,500 to partially replace the Opera's annual Learning Event contract, which annually underwrites Opera Express, the Company's in-school educational touring company, in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).
This year's CMS budget eliminated Learning Event contracts, the primary funding source for Opera Express in CMS elementary schools.

With a regional footprint that serves three states and 20 counties each year, Opera Carolina annually receives support for the entire Opera Express program from regional arts councils, school districts, the Learning Event contract with CMS, and Bank of America to underwrite performances. Before the budget cuts, the Learning Event contract underwrote Opera Express in one-half of the elementary schools in CMS each year.

The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation grant replaces one-half of the 2009-10 Learning Event contract, and Opera Carolina is actively engaged with other corporations and individuals to secure the remainder over the next few months, ensuring Opera Carolina's commitment to arts education for CMS students continues as in the past.

"Opera Carolina has a 25-year commitment to arts education. Our Board is committed to replacing the Learning Event contract to ensure the fulfillment of this commitment, despite the economic challenges our school district is facing," said General Director James Meena.

"Once again, The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has stepped forward, demonstrating its community leadership and enduring commitment to arts and education.
The intrinsic value and future benefits of early arts education cannot be overstated, and we are profoundly grateful for this generous, far-reaching gift. This support is in addition to Wachovia/Wells Fargo's annual support of our other flagship education program, Music! Words! Opera!"

"The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has a unique focus on education," said Jay Everette, community affairs manager for Wachovia's Greater Charlotte Corporate Social Responsibility Group. "Funding programs like Opera Express allows children in our schools to be exposed to arts and cultural curriculum that they otherwise would not have. Opera Carolina does an outstanding job with this program and it creates a positive, creative learning experience for many of our school students."

"We are keenly aware of the educational advantages associated with a rich arts curriculum at an early age," said Georgette Dixon, senior vice president, National Partnerships, Wachovia Wells Fargo and vice chair of the Opera Carolina board of trustees.
"Wachovia is pleased and honored to be able to sustain this exceptionally creative programming for our community's children."

This new support will allow Opera Carolina to schedule 20 to 25 performances in CMS elementary schools this fall and in the spring of 2010.

About Opera Express

Opera Express, Opera Carolina's educational touring company, engages children and families throughout the Carolinas and Georgia with professional performances of opera for young people. These delightful productions help students understand and appreciate opera as an art form that integrates all of the fine arts and humanities.

Performances are tailored to K-5 age groups with study guide activities that address North Carolina Standard Course of Study in English Language Arts and Music.

Since 1971, Opera Express has served more than one million children with such favorites as The Billy Goats Gruff, An Aesop Odyssey, Pinocchio, How Nanita Learned to Make Flan, and more. Editor's note: For a photo of the Opera Express performance of Little Red's Most Unusual Day, go to http://www.operacarolina.org/content/media/338.jpg

About the 2009/2010 Season

Plans are well underway for the company's highly anticipated Bella Notte, the annual Fall Gala fundraising event, which will be held Oct. 24, 2009, on the set of La Bohème on the stage of the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The 2010 season will begin with La Bohème scheduled for Jan. 23, 24, 28 & 30, followed by Love Notes, a special concert of opera and Zarzuela (Spanish folk opera) benefiting the Hispanic Scholarship Fund on Feb. 20 at the new Knight Theater, Carmen, starring international opera diva Denyce Graves opposite the luminous Carl Tanner, slated for Mar. 13, 14, 18 & 20, and concluding with Otello, starring Carl Tanner on May 6 and 8.

About Opera Carolina

Founded in 1948 as the Charlotte Opera Association by a small group of volunteers, Opera Carolina today is the largest professional opera company in the Carolinas with an operating budget of over $3.5 million for the fiscal year 2009. The mission of Opera Carolina is to inspire the region's diverse community through the presentation of excellent Opera, Operetta, Music Theater, and Education & Outreach programs that elevate the quality of life in the Carolinas. Opera Carolina is a community resource with a commitment to artistic excellence and community service.

Opera Carolina is supported by the Arts & Science Council-Charlotte/Mecklenburg and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of North Carolina, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Opera Carolina is a member of OPERA America.

Last Tuesday, Jujamycn Theatres announced that Jordan Roth would slide into the theatre-owner throne left empty by Rocco Landesman, who hopped the Metroliner down to DC to lead the NEA. Source: Ken Davenport, THE PRODUCER'S PERSPECTIVE

What makes this so special?
Well, let's see . . .

There are three major theater chains in NYC. The Shuberts, led by the esteemed Mr. Phil Smith, who is 78. The Nederlanders, led by the indefatigable Jimmy Nederlander, who is 87. And Jujamycn, which is now led by Jordan Roth, who is . . . wait for it . . . 33.

A major theater chain is now run by a man who has a personal computer in his house his entire life.
He has had a cell phone in his pocket for 1/3 of his life.

Let the new generation begin.
Again, I was angered last week over the omission of Carol from The Kennedy Center Honors! Her career has lasted longer than ANY of the other honorees!

Many Massachusetts schools -- as well as schools around the country -- are dealing with budget cuts by axing fine arts programs, including music, leaving parents struggling to bridge the gap on their own.

Some families are able to supplement with private classes, but most of our household budgets are feeling the crunch as well.
If your school has done away with music classes for kids, how can you help them learn about music at home when you're as cash-strapped as the schools are?

The benefits of music education are well studied. High school music students score higher on the SAT than their non-musical peers. Carolyn Phillips, former executive director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony in Connecticut, writes that playing an instrument can help the development of areas of the brain devoted to language and reasoning, and reading music can help children understand fractions and proportional math, both of which are necessary when it comes studying technology and science. Playing in a group teaches kids about teamwork, and performing in front of a crowd helps them learn how to evaluate risk and handle anxiety.

Practicing music underscores the ideas that mistakes can be fixed, instant gratification is rare, and perfection usually comes with dedication and hard work -- all ideas that apply to everyday adult life.
And just listening to familiar tunes while you work can help boost productivity.

So why deny kids such a valuable educational tool? According to some experts, school districts commit resources to subjects that are on the MCAS test. Since the arts aren't tested, they're often the first courses to get cut, John W. Hooker, an art education teacher at Bridgewater State College, told Wicked Local. A recent report also points out that while experts recommend twice-weekly, year-long arts education, only 5 percent of elementary-school students and 6 percent of middle-school students in Boston get that kind of instruction.
You don't have to be able to play an instrument yourself in order to help your kids learn about music.
Playing games like Rock Band or Wii Music can teach rhythm, improve hand-eye coordination, and foster a love of music from The Beatles to Beethoven and everything in between.

If you had to cut out private lessons, but still want kids to practice at home, you can download sheet music for kids at Children's Music Workshop, or take advantage of their online music theory helper. A free 10-day trial at Lesson Planet gives you access to more than 600 classical music lesson plans for students in kindergarten on up.

Try using your computer to create your own compositions: Groovy Music City uses animation and voiceovers to teach kids about the fundamentals of composition and to guide them in making their own music. It offers kids a library of sounds to tweak and shape, the online tutorials are easy to follow, and the interface feels kind of like a video game. The software, which costs about $40, works on Macs and PCs, and is geared toward kids age 7 and older; kids can share their musical creations with their peers at Groovymusic.com.

Has music education been cut at your child's school? Do you think it's important for kids to study music, or should schools stay focused on academics and testing?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

After months of campaigning, weeks of hitting the streets and countless hours of phone calls by our volunteers, TODAY is the day. Together we can ensure the 3rd District continues to receive progressive leadership and results for our neighborhood.

We are so thankful for everyone who has given their time to the Quinn 2009 campaign and now we need you more than ever.

We need you to get out and VOTE.

We need you to tell your neighbors to VOTE

We need you to volunteer. If you are able to donate even one hour of your time today, please contact us at 212-929-8473 or e-mail quinn2009@gmail.com to sign up for a shift!

Thanks again for all your support,

Jan Messerschmidt
Campaign Manager
(follow @quinn2009 on Twitter for the latest campaign updates)

Busy Channing still has time for charity
By Michelle J. Mills, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/04/2009 12:22:50 AM PDT

At 88, Carol Channing is still as vivacious as ever, not to mention busy.

Her new album, "For Heaven's Sake" (Daywind Records) of gospel music will be released Sept. 18 and she will be on the road with a stop planned at the National Gospel Convention.

But before all that, Channing will put on a benefit performance at the Altadena Community Church to help the facility raise funds to repair its damaged roof.

I called Channing at her Modesto home and had a long and delightfully nutty conversation with her and her husband, Harry Kullijian, 90 - complete with a song and a poem.
Channing was herself: sweet as pie, a little "blonde," and someone you just can't help but like.

"For Heaven's Sake" was
Carol Channing will do a benefit performance at Altadena Community Church in Altadena Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009. (Courtesy Photo)
produced by Larry Ferguson and John Wyatt. Wyatt also arranged and orchestrated the songs, which were gleaned from Channing's childhood. Her father was from the south and would often sing to her.

"I found when I was on the last tour, which was `Dolly,' which was very long, as we went through the Bible Belt, they all knew those songs, they loved them," Channing said.

When pressed on what songs describe her life, past and present, Channing demurs.
"I identify with all of them," she said. "I used to love to sing with my father, which is exactly what we're trying to do with children now."
Channing and her husband head the Dr. Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts, which provides instruments and music opportunities for low income school districts and scholarships for students and teachers in the arts.

Through the foundation, Channing has established 14 California State University scholarships and has lectured at schools, from elementary grades through college master classes, on the importance of the arts in education.

The organization is working with Stanislaus County on supplying instruments for its schools, as well as a school for 250 handicapped children.

"How can you lose when you help children get through school and become something and somebody and they become good citizens and they can relate to one another? And that's our task," Kullijian said.

"We're not trying to create artists necessarily," Channing said. "Children's brains are actually advanced by the arts."
Kullijian led into another topic by stating how well-liked Channing was during her school years. He was her first love and the couple discovered poetry together. At 13, Kullijian also had an orchestra and despite the Depression, he was able to get his group work on the weekends.

"Harry borrowed his father's car, got it filled with gas and took us, the whole orchestra - we sat on each other's laps - and went and did these shows," Channing said. "I was the vocalist."

"You weren't too good in those days," Kullijian said.

"I was, too," Channing said.

"Well ... I didn't pay you very much, you got an ice cream cone occasionally."

The same playful barbs continued when I asked Channing if she does anything to care for her voice.

"No. Isn't it bad enough?" Channing said.

"I tell her she sounds like a foghorn," Kullijian said.

Channing bursts into laughter.
In July, there was a buzz about Johnny Depp's announcement that he would like to play Carol Channing in a film.

She was pleased.
"I never thought of being portrayed," she said. "This is all Johnny Depp's idea. I was crazy about him, we were going to do a show together and I said, `How wonderful, Johnny Depp wants to do a show with me.' We were going to get together because the teenagers were crazy about him at that time. Now everybody loves Johnny Depp."

Just as she was given the freedom to interpret her part in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes," Channing said she would be supportive of any way Depp would portray her.

"All the artist does is recreate what was already created exactly as he sees it," Channing said.

Channing grew up as a Christian Scientist and has no connection with the Altadena Community Church other than her willingness to help others

"All I can do is tell this wonderful church that they invited me and they know that I'm hellbent to get arts back in public schools, so they know what they're in for," Channing said.

Channing reiterated how the arts stimulate the brain, and that can help people in all areas of their lives. To further make her point, she sings "The Show Must Go On," a song written for her by John Wyatt about the need for arts in school, no matter what career a child may be interested in seeking.

Channing's father was a lawyer and actively worked with the California legislature.
At the end of a successful day, he would come home and announce how proud he was for getting a law passed.

"My father would open up the front door and say, `Achievement, there's nothing like it' and I thought this must be the greatest thrill on earth and it is," Channing said. "If you can figure out how to make this thing work, how to make it mean something to other people, boy, you've got the answer to your own life's happiness."

Channing ended our conversation by reciting a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and recounting how she and Harry would recite poetry as they walked to school.

"It makes one glad one's alive," Channing said.

Channing and other artists will perform at UCLA's Royce Hall on Oct. 11 to benefit the foundation.


(626) 962-8811 Ext. 2128
She waits on the sidewalk as he parks the car down the street and, by and by, he toddles up, hooks his arm in hers and purrs, "Come on, Tootsie, let's get something to eat."

The lovebirds walk slowly around the corner and into Galletto Ristorante, where the waitstaff and diners pay no mind to the elderly woman hanging on to her slightly older husband.

But then, Modesto isn't where most people expect to see Carol Channing.

The Broadway legend, best known for her 1960s Tony Award-winning performance in "Hello, Dolly!", lives here now. It's a far cry from the glamorous life of greasepaint, curtain calls and sparkly gowns.

"Harry is here -- it's all Harry," Channing says by way of explaining, in that so-familiar girlish voice, why she's in Modesto. "The house looks like Harry. It's like living on the inside of Harry."

The love story of Carol and Harry is remarkable: They were childhood sweethearts who parted ways and lost touch for 70 years -- until surprising circumstances brought them back together.
On May 10, 2003, at a friend's home in Atherton, Channing married longtime Modestan Harry Kullijian, her fourth husband.

She's now 88; he's 89. She is recovering from a broken hip and elbow, and a knee replacement. But as she says, "The show must go on. Performers never feel pain."

Instead of whiling away their golden years here and at their second home in Palm Springs, the couple three years ago created a foundation dedicated to putting arts education back into public schools.

"As a performer," Richard Lewis, the Sacramento's Music Theatre's executive producer, says of Channing, "she's electrifying. She is a star. She is larger than life, and she is absolutely lovable. She is a terrific comedienne and a wonderful musical talent.

"I'm thrilled we'll have the opportunity to put her on the Music Circus stage. It's going to be outstanding."

So far, the foundation has provided musical instruments to West Side Elementary School in Fresno County. Channing and Kullijian, who started the foundation with a quarter-million dollars of their own money, intend to go beyond fundraising and plead with elected officials to restore the arts curriculum in California schools, which has fallen victim to budget cuts.
The couple helped buy 25 brand-new musical instruments for West Side Elementary.
"A lot of our instruments were old and real expensive to keep up," says band director Orville Stephenson. "Now students can spend more time practicing and playing, and they don't have to worry about broken instruments and having to stop and fix them on the spot.

"Harry and Carol have a heart for this."

Since the foundation was launched, the phone rings constantly at the Kullijian-Channing house. Kullijian works day and night, his wife says, and is exhausted most of the time.

"I don't know what I'm doing at 90 years old, doing all this," says Kullijian, who's 89 until December. "You have to give your money, time and talent, and your life.

"This is bigger than Carol and me as individuals. The future of America is at stake, because our children are at stake.
We have forfeited one of the most beautiful parts of life by forfeiting the arts."

The Carol-and-Harry story began 76 years ago when he was 13 and she was 12. They both attended Aptos Junior High School in San Francisco's Balboa Terrace neighborhood. She sometimes sang with his orchestra. They encountered the arts at every turn.

"I was fortunate to have a father who was crazy about Milton, Keats and Shelley," Channing says. "I sang with my father all day long, as far back as I can remember. Â... The arts, they're like fertilizer on the human brain, and we're living proof of that."
"Arts became a part of our life: Chaucer, Bacon, Shakespeare and poetry, especially Edgar Allan Poe," says Kullijian. "I loved symphony. She got me into operas."

Meanwhile, they fell hard for each other.

A black-and-white photograph of Channing at 13 and Kullijian at 14 lies on a coffee table in the rambling, ranch-style Modesto house Kullijian had built in the 1950s.
"We were in love. We still are," he says, staring at the faded image.

He kept the photograph all these years, even during his six-decade marriage to Geraldine Amos, until her death in 2002.
Channing had the original print with her through three marriages and while raising her son, Chan Lowe, now the political cartoonist for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

But Carol and Harry broke up soon after the photo was taken, as their lives went in different directions.
He went off to military school, then enlisted in the Army and served in World War II. She attended Lowell High in San Francisco, where a theater today bears her name.
She was then off to Bennington College in Vermont -- and after that, New York City.

She made her Broadway musical debut as Eve Arden's understudy in "Let's Face It!" in 1941. In 1949, she won a Theatre World Award for her performance in "Lend an Ear."
Her first Tony nomination came six years later, for "The Vamp."
Her role as Lorelei Lee in the original Broadway production of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1949-51) had her singing the hit "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend."

But it was in 1964 that Channing took Broadway by storm as matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi -- wearing the fabulous red-satin gown that's now in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History -- in "Hello, Dolly!" She later repeated the role in two revivals. She also earned a 1968 Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Muzzy in "Thoroughly Modern Millie."

Meanwhile, Kullijian was living in the San Joaquin Valley, farming his 30 acres and running a nursing home in the Bay Area. Though he had kept the photograph, Channing never crossed his mind. As unbelievable as it sounds, "I thought she was dead," he says.

But Channing never forgot about Harry. In her 2002 autobiography, "Just Lucky I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts," she wrote:

"Harry was the most exotic, beautiful thing. Â... Harry had silken, bronze skin; long, almond-shaped eyes that stretched almost to his ears; and that sweet, contented smile with which camels in the Holy Land are born."

Then two things happened to bring them back together.
After his wife's death, Kullijian dated a woman he intended to marry. One day, she saw the black-and-white photograph of him and Channing as teenagers.

"We had a little argument, and she says, 'Why don't you marry Carol Channing?' " Kullijian recalls. "She was saying, 'Get lost.' "

A week later, a friend told Kullijian that he was mentioned in "Just Lucky I Guess" and said he should call Channing. She was living in Rancho Mirage then, and he was on one of his regular sojourns in his RV to the nearby Imperial Valley.

"I was in disbelief, but I thought, 'What the heck, I'll just say hi,' " Kullijian says. "I knew it the moment I saw this figure coming toward me with her gray hair. I knew. We embraced. I said, 'This is the girl I'm going to marry.' and I did.

"There are some times in life two people meet and something happens. I can't describe it.
I don't know what it is. It's like I tell her: If you want me to climb the highest mountain in the world, I can do it."

Call The Bee's Dixie Reid, (916) 321-1134.


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Copyright (c) 2009, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.

Tony Bennett may sing about San Francisco, but he left his heart in Astoria - the working-class Queens community where he grew up during the Great Depression.

When schools open, the 83-year-old singer will be returning to his old neighbourhood to welcome students into the new permanent home of the public arts high school that he founded and named in honour of his close friend, Frank Sinatra.

"It's beyond any dream I could have ever had," said Bennett. "I loved growing up in Astoria and I still hang out there.
It's got the most wholesome people I ever met. ... When I was lucky enough to get money from New York City to start a school, I said, 'Let's do it in Astoria because they deserve it."'

Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto (his given family name), an educator, will be attending Wednesday's opening of the new home of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. At a time when school districts across the country are cutting arts programs, the opening caps off a decade-long campaign to develop a public-private partnership to create a model arts high school.

Bennett chose to name the school after his mentor, who helped launch his career that spans seven decades.
"Frank was so beautiful to me my whole career and always considered me his favourite singer," said Bennett, interviewed backstage during the jazz festival in Newport, Rhode Island.
"By calling it the Sinatra School it's a symbol of hoping that the students will always do something with integrity, not just for fame and a quick buck which is quite prevalent today."

Queens College alumnus Jerry Seinfeld delivered the commencement speech to the first graduating class in 2005, and Wynton Marsalis, Kevin Spacey, Nancy Giles and Bruce Willis spoke at subsequent ceremonies.
Bennett takes special pride that the school ranks second academically among Queens public high schools with a graduation rate of 98 per cent, nearly all of whom go on to college.

"I told the students right from the beginning that you're going to be responsible for making or breaking this school ... and sure enough they came through," said Bennett. "They're all full of enthusiasm."

For the upcoming year, the school's enrolment will total about 720, all of whom were selected through auditions for programs in visual arts, dance, vocal and instrumental music, drama and film.
"Tony has done a great thing for these kids ... These are not privileged kids, a lot of them come from real poverty settings," said Donna Finn, the school's principal, "For them to come here and to be treated well and respected for their innate talent is life changing ... and just helps them have the self-esteem they need to be successful."

A week before opening day, several dozen student and parent volunteers were busy helping unpack equipment to get the classrooms ready. The facilities include an open-air rooftop stage with a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline; two black-box theatres; and the 800-seat Tony Bennett Concert Hall, with an orchestra pit and stage large enough to handle an opera production.

"I think we students have to step up our performances to deserve a space like this," said sophomore vocal student, John-Alexander Sakelos, 15, of Bayside, Queens. "Tony Bennett comes to the school a lot. He's not the typical international star. ... he's still the same down-to-earth Astoria type of person."

Bennett and his wife formed the non-profit Exploring the Arts organization that raised an additional $4.5 million to upgrade the facilities to state-of-the-art calibre. Bennett and k.d. lang will be performing at ETA's annual gala on Sept. 21 to support the school's programming and arts initiatives in other schools.

Bennett, an accomplished painter, and his wife chose Polshek Partnership Architects - which designed the Rose Center for Earth and Space for the American Museum of Natural History and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center - to create a distinctive design. The front facade is a curtain wall of glass which floods the studio spaces with natural light and connects the school with the outside community by showcasing the students at work on their arts.

Bennett got the inspiration to create the school during a 1998 visit to Chicago when he observed inner city students participating in a program in which they were paid to beautify parks with art work and put on shows for the community.
He then met with his long-time friend, Susan Crow (they married in 2007), who was teaching history at Manhattan's "Fame" Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. They lined up support from the City Council and obtained funding from the Board of Education.

Benedetto, who is now ETA's president after serving as the school's assistant principal, said she tried to build on LaGuardia's success by integrating pre-conservatory arts training with an intense academic program, encouraging community outreach and offering apprenticeships for students to work with local arts organizations from the Roundabout Theatre Company to the American Ballet Theater.

"This is sort of our child, so to speak," said Benedetto. "What I admire most about Tony is that somebody of his talent and stature would take the time to get behind the public school children and start a school. ... I think it's really a magnificent part of what will be his legacy."

"He always likes to say 'The Best is Yet to Come' and look forward. ... Now that this school is grown up, he's like, OK, what are we going to do now to go into other schools."
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Kathryn Lopez: Rage against Obama propaganda machine

By: Kathryn Lopez

Friday, September 4, 2009 11:54 PM EDT
In U.S. Department of Education materials surrounding the first national presidential address to public-school students, children were encouraged to write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.
After some genuine and vociferous backlash, the Obama administration took back some of these recommendations for recruiting students to the cause that is Barack Obama.

But the pullback came around the same time that an elementary school in Utah was scheduled to show students a video parade of celebrities pledging allegiance to Obama, and to the liberalism for which he stands. In this video, various tabloid types seeking to “Be the Change” vow to “smile more” and “love more.” Other plans include “to be the voice for those who have no voice”; and to not always flush the toilet, for the sake of the planet; “To pledge allegiance to the funk, of the United Funk of Funkadelica”; and, most audaciously, “To free one million people from slavery in the next five years.”

Yes, it was a bit of a mix.

The culmination of the whole mess, however, was very clear; to “pledge to be of service to Barack Obama ... to be a servant of our president and all mankind.”

Rational people would argue that the head of a republican government serves the people who elected him, not the other way around. But reason does not live in an era of vague feelings.
Evidently, in order to get people to be the change, you have to get to them early, when they’re in public school. “We’re all in this together,” one celeb declared.
Would that have only been the case when George W. Bush was president!
The school indoctrination stories have been airing at the same time as revelations, on the right-leaning Web site Big Hollywood, of a government body organizing an artistic propaganda machine.
Film producer Patrick Courrielche was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to join a conference call sponsored by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve, the organization created by Obama to promote volunteer service.
The stated purpose of the call was “to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda — health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.”

A few days after the call, Courrielche noticed that the starry-eyed Rock the Vote campaign, whose “mission is to engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country,” sent out an e-mail declaring: “We can’t stand by and listen to lies and deceit coming from those who are against reforming a broken system ...
Young people demand health care now.” Unsurprisingly, Rock the Vote is in favor of a public component to said health care.

A representative for Rock the Vote was on the NEA conference call. He picked up the orders.

These have been tough times for President Obama. With a majority in Congress, and an adamant imperative that his health-care reform bill should be done, he had to let summer recess in Washington come and go without his commands fulfilled. You can understand wanting to use every resource available to him.
The problem is that, if the National Endowment for the Arts exists — which some of us think has always been regrettable in a nation that has more than enough private resources and enthusiasm to support the arts without need of government support — it is not at the political service of the president.

We are a culture that understands art as an elevation, not as a campaign tactic. And there is a higher authority than the president of the United States whom you’re still free to pledge service to if you so choose.

Lopez is the editor of National Review Online


She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com

JoAnne Worley In “Keep Laughing”

She's classy, sassy and undeniably brassy - JoAnne Worley. From television and the silver screen to the boards of Broadway, she is instantly recognized with a mere raucous laugh and trademark twirl of pearls or pointed digit embedded in her cheek. __ JoAnne Worley found stardom on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, but shear talent has enabled her to extend that wild and woolly popularity to other levels. She has tackled and conquered nightclubs, musical theater productions, game shows, talk shows, cartoons, commercials, and even opera.
A one-of-a-kind commodity and certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to entertaining, Ms Worley belongs on center stage. “I'm looking in the rearview mirror of my life and liking what I see,” says JoAnne about “Keep Laughing” - A celebration of her life in music and comedy that is guaranteed to keep audiences "laughin'." A portion of the proceeds will benefit Actors & Others for Animals.

WHEN: Sunday, Oct 4th and Monday, Sept. 5th, 2009 - Doors 7pm - Show 8pm

WHERE: The Inner Circle at the Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028

TICKETS: $40 for non-members, Call 323-851-3313 x434 for more information


Florence Henderson In “All The Lives of Me… A Musical Journey”

Known to millions as Carol Brady, Florence Henderson, a multi-talented actress, talk show host, performer, recording artist, author and Broadway veteran, brings her critically acclaimed one-woman production of ALL THE LIVES OF ME…A Musical Journey, under the musical direction of Emmy award-winning Composer Glen Roven, to Cabaret at the Castle. A crowd-pleasing evening with “America's Favorite TV Mom,” featuring songs from her starring roles in such Broadway hits as OKLAHOMA, SOUTH PACIFIC, SOUND OF MUSIC and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Audiences will be treated to personal anecdotes of a life on the boards of Broadway and the Brady set.

WHERE: The Inner Circle at the Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028

WHEN: Monday Nov 9th and Tuesday, Nov 10th at 8:00pm

TICKETS: $40 for non-members, Call 323-851-3313 x434 for more information.

Frank Sinatra Jr. will play to a Vegas unlike his father’s
By Jerry Fink (contact)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Suncoast Showroom

Tickets: $29.95; 636-7075 or suncoastcasino.com
Frank Sinatra Jr. carries on father's legacy in his own way.
Frank Sinatra Jr. sounds a lot like his old man over the telephone — same intonations and vocal rhythms, sans the Hoboken, N.J., accent.

“I won’t lie to you, when the economy fell down so did we,” Sinatra says. “I worked in December ’08 and then I didn’t work again till the last week of May ’09.”

At 65, some may think he’s old.
“They call my show Jurassic Park,” he says from his Los Angeles home.

Sinatra will perform two shows at the Suncoast over Labor Day weekend.

He performed three “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” concerts at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater in 2002. He had a 36-piece orchestra backing him then. This time it will be an eight-piece band.

“Nobody wants to hire the big orchestras anymore,” he says. “We were four-walling those concerts and the man who paid for the four walls stopped the whole thing after three appearances because he said they weren’t generating enough income.
He was so down that the concerts were not carrying their weights that the last appearance, he made me roll the dice with him. When I put my foot on that stage to work, I spent $3,000.

“But that’s what Las Vegas has become. Entertainment is not a primary concern there any longer. It’s whatever can make the most money for the smallest investment. But if I was on the other side of that desk, I probably would feel the same way.”

He came to Vegas for the first time in 1954 at age 10. He began performing here in 1963.

“When I started working there I was next door to the Sands at the Flamingo,” he says. “On occasion my father would come to see me when he was in town and when he was finished watching my show he would go into the pit and gamble for a while. This was casino etiquette.
“The stars were the big draws, as well as the gaming. All of the show places, they wanted to hire the biggest stars. When I think back to that period of time, offers had been made to Doris Day and Bing Crosby, but they never took them. They did not want to play in gaming establishments. When I first went to Las Vegas I saw Sophie Tucker, Joey Lewis, Jimmy Durante. Nowadays entertainment is not even secondary, not even ‘third-dary,’ if there is such a word. You know what the big draw is in Las Vegas today? The shopping centers in the hotels.”

He remembers the Strip before it was the Strip.
“The first time I came to Las Vegas, the street in front of the hotels was U.S. Highway 91, a two-lane highway that crossed the desert and all of a sudden there were these big hotels. In those days there used to be a kind of motto the city had in order to get people to come — ‘Play the games, lie in the sun and mingle with the stars.’

“There were very few hotels there, but they were very prestigious. The Flamingo was there, the Hacienda, the Sands, Desert Inn. The Riviera was under construction. The Sahara was under construction. Of course we had the El Rancho Vegas.”

Sinatra says the Vegas visitors have changed, which has changed the city.
“It’s not that Old Vegas is not here, it’s that the older generation is no longer there. This generation that goes to Vegas, and the generation before them, this is all they’re used to, all they’ve known,” he says. “Their grandparents knew the great days of Vegas, the ’50s and ’60s.”

Sinatra, once musical director for his father, recalls the happiest time of his life in Vegas when he was at the Four Queens from ’85 to ’92.

“I was working for Jeanne Hood,” the former hotel president who died in July, Sinatra says.
“She was such a grand lady. In those days I came to town three weeks at a time, three or four times a year. It was magnificent. I had the finest orchestra, a 20-piece band with all the great players of Las Vegas. Then in ’92 I went to the Desert Inn till ’94, then in ’94 I went to the brand-new Boulder Station. I worked there two or three weeks at a crack. It was a wonderful time.”

Most of his fans were locals, he says.

“They were fed up with the Elvis impersonators and the Carol Channing impersonators. They were happy to see someone do something original.”

He has performed infrequently in Vegas since.

“I checked out some of the newer hotels, went into the lounges to see what was happening,” he says. “There were a bunch of garage bands, absolute amateurs.”

Although his last public performance in Vegas was at the MGM Grand, he performed in 2005 at the Aladdin, before it became Planet Hollywood.
“I did a slot machine tournament,” he said. “I sang and told them to stop staring at me and press those buttons.”

You have to wait a while for Julie Wilson to make her way to the Rrazz Room stage, but what the heck? We've waited a decade or so - 45 minutes more or so won't kill us.

Julie Wilson, one of the greatest boite singers of the past 50 years, is, as they say, of a certain age (she was born in '24). The most elegant of song stylists, she's always been known for her distinctive phrasing, her extraordinary ability to swing from Porter to Sondheim and, of course, the trademark gardenia in her hair.

At Tuesday's Rrazz opening (she's there through Sunday), she was dressed in a slinky black sequined number, black gloves, oversize black boa, and - oh why not: on her, it works - black athletic shoes. Tiny and angular, her beaming face was all but dwarfed by the gardenia this time. But if her body has diminished a bit over the years, her ability to grab an audience and not let go certainly has not.

Is the voice unmarked by the passage of time? Truth to tell, it is not, but I dare you to care as she finds the story and, even more, the heart in classics such as "My Old Flame," "But Beautiful," "Mean to Me," Brecht/Weill's soap opera in song, "Surabaya Johnny," and Rodgers and Hart's "The Lady Is a Tramp."

She doesn't always remember the lyrics, but fortunately has pianist/musical director Christopher Denny right there to provide a gentle cue.

Perhaps the greatest testimony to Wilson's indomitability is what she does with "Here's to Life." This is a song that virtually anyone who's beyond the spring-chicken stage of life can sing (and seemingly has) with facile credibility - so much so that, more often than not, it can feel tired and even predictable. But in a talk-sing delivery, Wilson is able to breathe new life into the Artie Butler/Phyllis Molinary chestnut in a way that makes every other version you've heard sound as heartfelt as a TV antacid commercial.

Wilson briefly shares the bill with Barbra Streisand tribute artist Steven Brinberg, an entertaining performer whose "Simply Barbra" act (named for the early "light blue" album) skates carefully along the line between homage and spoof.

Even for a woman, it's daring to try to approximate Streisand's titantic pipes, but Brinberg captures her phrasing, especially in slower, midrange numbers.

His best number is "I'm Still Here," where he offers snippets of the Sondheim song in other voices - Ethel Merman, Eartha Kitt, Cher, Bette Davis. He nails them beautifully.

Call The Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 220 Mason St. $35-$40. (866) 468-3399. www.therrazzroom.com.

London's critically acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory production of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's hit musical La Cage aux Folles will open April 18, 2010, at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway, the producers announced on Sept. 14.

Previews begin April 6, 2010. Douglas Hodge will recreate his London turn as Albin, whose nightclub persona is the fabulous Zaza. This reconceived production of the 1983 musical comedy based on the play of the same name opened to rave reviews and won the 2009 Olivier Awards for Best Musical Revival and Best Actor in a Musical, for Hodge.

The Longacre is at 220 W. 48th Street and is currently home to the dance spectacle Burn the Floor.

La Cage, the tale of drag club owners Albin and Georges, and their son, Jean-Michel, who is to be married to a girl from a conservative family, has music and lyrics by Herman and book by Fierstein, based on the play by Jean Poiret. The production is choreographed by Lynne Page and directed by Terry Johnson.

Hodge is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association.
Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


Awesome performance in Malibu. The highlight of the week for me. It is always great to see you, but I hadn't seen your act before. Hope you will be back next year.

Thanks for performing at our venue, but thanks even more for integrating the needs of our talent show into your own material. Thanks also for allowing so many of our group to pose with you on stage after the show, and for your kindness to all who wanted to talk with you (Carol) after the show. I sincerely hope that we will be able to have you perform for us again.

I really did enjoy your performance immensely in Malibu 2009...so very talented and vocally gifted. You ruminate in my brain...and then I think, "Is that all there is?" I'm wondering if you have attempted to cultivate other personalities. I'm quite sure there are other persons whom you could impersonate...and the first one to come to mind is Ethel Merman with her very big presence. I can easily see you doing her. And if you worked on it...many others. Of course, you have Carol down...and you do her to perfection. It would be a real kick to see both of you on stage...wow.

Overall a very big special event. I was impressed. Rapport with the audience is always fun. You create a right-on illusion of Carol...and the fact that your singing is genuinely your voice is pretty awesome.

You maintained control of the audience all along. The staging and runway were not that conducive to your performance...you need a professional stage...for a prossional performance...but you accommodated and did well. No real criticism.

I think you have unlimited talent and maybe need to explore that venue for your repertoire. I'd just simply encourage you to expand your talents. I think there's other hidden personalities inside you that you haven't tapped yet. But then again...that's based solely on first impression not knowing you more. Maybe if you pursue other impressions you could turn out to be like Joan Crawford or Betty Davis in Baby Jane. Though...I could see you doing her too.

After thought...maybe you should consider doing a gig for all the don't-ask-don't-tell boys overseas. You'd be a smashing success on tour.

Take care...love and blessings...good luck under the lights.
The most fun I have had in a long time. Thanks for your generosity and your great spirit.
I will come again soon! It was a great crowd.


Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Dana Lorge and I have
now put their OWN spin on The variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in
NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge (http://www.iguananyc.com) in the heart of
NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission). WEDNESDAY NIGHT OF
Each week
will showcase 5 entertainers.
Barry Levitt returns on keyboard and Saadi Zain on bass!
on bass. Each week will be different. Time: 8 - 11:00 p.m.
Cover: $10 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!

CASH ONLY PAID AT THE DOOR! This is a nice night
out with the family! A
"throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with.
For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_


212-765-5454. No one admitted before

Tomorrow night: September 16th: Ann Dawson, Lou Iacovino, Sara Rice, Val Ryder, & Bill Zeffero (joined by Julie Reyburn on a couple of numbers)

September 23rd: Risa Benson, Stewart Brodian, Jenna Esposito, The Kim Schultz Improv Group, Frank Torren,

September 30th: Wendy Lane Bailey, Bobby Belfry, Ben Rauch, Rick Younger, Josh Zuckerman

October 7th: Edd Clark, Marianne Meringolo, Wendy Russell, Marcus Simeone, Maureen Taylor

October 14th: Kelly Esposito- Broelmann, Barbara Gurskey, Jonathan Long, Andrea Mezvinsky-Kolb , Martin Vidnovic

October 21st: Esther Beckman & Stearns Matthews, Leslie Orofino, Susan Winter

October 28th: Hector Coris returns!, Laurie Krauz & Wicked’s very own Walter ONeil, Angela Schultz, Mauricio Villa-Lobos!

November 4th: Arianna & Moira Danis, Elaine St. George

December 30th: Linda Fields, Ritt Henn, Annie Hughes

Keep checking http://www.richardskipper.com/schedule.html

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