Friday, May 7, 2010


Job Cuts at ABC Leave Workers Stunned and Downcast

If “Good Morning America” or “World News” look any different in the coming weeks, it might be because ABC News is employing nearly 400 fewer people.
David Westin, president of ABC News, said this was “a difficult time for everybody” involved.

Brian Rooney, an ABC reporter in Los Angeles, was let go.

Last week, ABC News, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, largely completed one of the most drastic rounds of budget cutbacks at a television news operation in decades, affecting roughly a quarter of the staff.
The cutbacks promise to change ABC both on- and off-camera.
For some employees, like the longtime Los Angeles correspondent Brian Rooney, Friday was their last day.
In an e-mail message, he compared it to “standing looking straight up when the bomb dropped.”
Personally, he said, the next step is scary. “I’m 58 years old with a wife, two daughters in school and a little dog who likes to be fed.
They have cut me loose into the worst economy in my lifetime,” he said.

The business of news is a particularly ugly one these days, and news outlets across the country have trimmed their staffs.
“World News with Diane Sawyer,” will not be replaced.

In the future, more segments will be reported, filmed and edited by jacks-of-all-trades, called digital journalists, internally.

Sometimes two of the digital journalists will team up for reports.

David Westin, the ABC News president,emphasized that there was still a place for veteran videographers and editors at ABC.

Other changes may be more subtle to viewers. More interviews will happen via Skype, rather than an expensive satellite truck. Prime-time shows will rely more heavily on freelance employees.

An unknown number were laid off. A person with knowledge of the cutbacks said 22 staff employees were laid off on Tuesday in a final round of cuts, but ABC would not disclose the numbers.

Morale is very low, according to some of the dozen ABC News staff members who agreed to be interviewed for this article.

People are “walking around like they’ve been punched in the gut,” one of the employees said, referring to people still with jobs.
Mr. Westin acknowledged in an interview on Friday that “this is a difficult time for everybody at ABC News, not least for the people who are leaving.”

Inside ABC News, it is widely believed that the cutbacks were mandated by Disney.
The cuts came shortly after CBS News, one of the other three network news divisions, lost about 70 staff members.
The third division, NBC, is in a much better financial position because it has a cable news arm, MSNBC.

Amid the buyout and layoff process, there has been widespread speculation about a potential pairing between ABC News and the Bloomberg TV cable channel.

Richard Gizbert, a former ABC correspondent who now is host of a weekly media criticism show on Al Jazeera English, said the extent of the cutbacks stunned some former ABC employees.

“Yet there’s no fewer broadcasts,” Mr. Gizbert noted.

(Mr. Gizbert’s contract was not renewed by ABC in 2004, and he lost a lawsuit against the network in 2006.)

Already, some bureaus, like Los Angeles, have been reduced significantly. Along with Mr. Rooney, other departing correspondents include Betsy Stark, Lisa Fletcher and Laura Marquez.

But ABC executives sharply disagreed with suggestions that the news division was throwing up its hands.

“The entire news industry is at a crossroads right now,” Mr. Westin said. In ABC’s case, rather than simply reducing headcount, “this is, ‘Let’s redefine jobs and what people do and what their skills are.’ ”

But to Mr. Rooney, the title of digital journalist is “really a code for cheaper and less professional.”

“The shorter the deadline, the more people and equipment it takes. In the western states in particular, it would be very challenging for one or two people to shoot, write, edit and feed a breaking news story by 3:30 in the afternoon. Wildfires tend to happen in places where there is no cellphone coverage and no Starbucks with free Wi-Fi.”

“I hope they succeed in saving ABC News,” he said, “although I like to think they will have a harder time doing it without me.”

"Fela!" "La Cage aux Folles" lead Tony nominations
(SOURCE:Reuters:Christine Kearney)

"Fela!," a new dance musical that tells the story of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, and a revival of the musical "La Cage aux Folles" led the nominations for Broadway's top theater honors, the Tony Awards, announced on Tuesday.

Both musicals picked up 11 nominations, followed by a revival of August Wilson's play "Fences," which picked up ten. "Fences" actors Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who play a married couple struggling with changing U.S. race relations, were both nominated for their leading performances.

Washington said in a statement that returning to Broadway "is like coming home again for me" and sharing a Tony nomination "makes it seem like one big family reunion."

"La Cage aux Folles" stars Kelsey Grammer and British stage veteran Douglas Hodge were both nominated for their turns as a gay couple who deal with their son's impending marriage in the leading actor in a musical category, joined by Sahr Ngaujah from Fela!.

Other Hollywood stars nominated for the awards, which is limited to Broadway productions, included Jude Law for "Hamlet" and Christopher Walken in British playwright Martin McDonagh's quirky play "A Behanding in Spokane."

Catherine Zeta-Jones said she "couldn't imagine a better way to make my Broadway debut" after being nominated for best leading actress in a musical for "A Little Night Music." Actors Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson were also nominated for a revival of the Arthur Miller play, "A View From the Bridge."

"Memphis," a new musical that looks at the roots of rock-and-roll, won eight nominations while musical revival "Ragtime," received seven.

After relocating from a run in London, "Red," a play about abstract artist Mark Rothko, picked up seven nominations, including a nod for best lead actor in a play to British actor Alfred Molina.

"Audiences are really responding to Rothko. They love him and they love the struggle," "Red" playwright John Logan told Reuters.

Rock band Green Day's new musical, "American Idiot," picked up three nominations, including one for best musical along with "Fela!," which features no big-name actors, unlike many other productions nominated.

"Fela!" bucks the recent trend of Broadway producers relying on Hollywood actors to attract audiences.

The former off-Broadway musical signed up hip hop star Jay-Z and actor Will Smith as Broadway co-producers.

The complete list of Tony Award nominations can be found at The awards will be broadcast on June 13 from New York's Radio City Music Hall.

Rip Taylor To Star In “It Ain't All Confetti”
(SOURCE:Tommy Garrett)
Rip Taylor is one of television’s most instantly recognizable celebrities. A guest star with over 2,000 television appearances under his belt, Rip brought his wild energy to “The Gong Show,” “Password,” “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Mike Douglas Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night with David Letterman” and to the coveted center square on “Hollywood Squares.”
Perhaps Rip’s greatest impact in television was when he was picked by Chuck Barris to host “The $1.98 Beauty Show.” The campy ‘beauty and talent contest’ brought Rip icon status as he served as ringmaster, gloriously reveling in the glitter and kitsch of “The World's Tackiest TV Show.” For decades, Rip has maintained his status as one of the top headliners in Las Vegas. He has been named Entertainer of the Year three times in a row, spent a year headlining The Flamingo Hotel’s “Rockettes Extravaganza,” and in 2002 brought “Rip Taylor’s Christmas Spectacular” to the Rio.
Additionally, Rip has played on Broadway and toured the country as the lead role in plays such as “Sugar Babies,” “Anything Goes,” “Oliver,” “Peter Pan,” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
In addition to comedy and music, Rip is an accomplished legitimate actor. He played Demi Moore’s surly boss in “Indecent Proposal,” and plays Kate Hudson’s father in the 2003 Rob Reiner film, “Alex and Emma.” Rip Taylor feels fortunate to have become a madcap mainstay in show business. He frequently donates his time and talents to numerous charitable causes including The Thalians, The Screen Actors Guild, The Actors Home, The Friars Charitable Trust and many, many more.
El Portal Theatre is a historic landmark in the San Fernando Valley located in the heart of North Hollywood just minutes from Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Disney, ABC, CBS-Radford, NBC Burbank and sits across from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Art Institute. Since its opening in 1926 — first for vaudeville, then silent movies, and then Academy Award-winning films.
Chosen by the Smithsonian Institute as the venue for induction ceremonies to announce their first permanent Entertainment History Exhibit, in the past 10 years celebrities have starred in productions and musical reviews including Debbie Reynolds, Bea Arthur, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ed Begley, Jr., Hal Linden, Carol Lawrence, Fred Savage, David Faustino, Sally Struthers, Charlotte Rae, Marnie Nixon, Maripat Donovan (pictured), JoAnne Worley, Vicki Lewis, Kathleen Chalfant, Carol Channing, The Manhattan Transfer, to name only a few and now the El Portal is thrilled to offer Rip Taylor.

Comedy Legend of Stage and Screen, Rip Taylor (, is scheduled to introduce “It Ain't All Confetti” at the El Portal Theatre ( Rip is one of television's most recognizable personalities and “It Ain't All Confetti” puts a humorous and revealing spotlight on a career that has spanned five remarkable decades.

WHEN: Previews - Thursday, May 13, 14, 15 at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 16, at 3 p.m.

Opening Friday, May 21 - Sunday, May 30, Thurs, Fri & Sat - Curtain at 8 p.m., Sunday Matinee at 3 p.m.

LEE ROY REAMS WOWS THEM AT THE MAGIC CASTLE IN HOLLYWOOD!(SOURCE:Tommy Garrett)The theatrical definition of a triple threat is someone who can act, sing and dance, but Lee Roy Reams takes this definition to even greater heights by not only being a great performer, but director and choreographer as well.
Last week’s performance of “An Evening with Lee Roy Reams” at Cabaret at the Castle in Los Angeles was extremely well received by an audience that included MaryJo Catlett, JoAnne Worley, Nancy Dussault, Sterling Clark, Bonnie Franklin, Rita McKenzie, Karen Morrow, Tony Charmoli, Carol DeLuise, Carole Cook, Carol Lawrence, Telly Leuoug, Jane Kean, Charlotte Rae and Alison Arngrim, to name only a few.
A portion of the proceeds from this engagement will benefit the Sealed With A Wish Foundation, Inc.
Broadway has produced some of the greatest talents the world has ever known and in this, slightly over an hour, performance given by Lee Roy Reams, we are reminded that occasionally there are those remarkable individuals who raised the theatrical bar.

With the incomparable talents of Ron Abel on piano, Mr. Reams launched the evening’s festivities with his own theatrical anthem, “Lullaby of Broadway,” then dedicated Irving Berlin’s “Pretty Women” to “… all of the lovely ladies in the room … and those under suspicion.” He shared memories and anecdotes from the stage with an appreciative audience about all the leading ladies he has had the privilege of working with, an impressive list second only to Jerry Herman, including Juliet Prowse, Gwen Verdon, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Carol Burnett, Lauren Bacall, Carole Cook, Ethel Merman, Ruby Keeler and many more. Of particular interest, were the images he shared from a childhood spent in Covington, Kentucky.
Considering Mr. Reams has one the greatest resumes in Broadway history, which includes 10 Broadway hits, he could have easily kept patrons entertained for hours longer. Most recently, Mr. Reams won critical acclaim as Roger DeBris in the First National Tour of Mel Brooks' musical hit, The Producers as well as Lumiere in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Many fondly remember his role(s) of Albin/ZaZa in “La Cage Aux Folles,” Cornelius Hackl in “Hello Dolly!” and Henry Spofford in “Lorelei” (both starring Carol Channing). As if that weren’t enough there was his appearance as Duane Fox in “Applause” starring Lauren Bacall, Will Parker in Richard Rodgers’s revival of “Oklahoma!” Bob Fosse’s “Sweet Charity” starring Gwen Verdon, “An Evening With Jerry Herman” and, of course, his TONY nominated role of Billy Lawlor in “42nd Street.”

The Magic Castle is the world's most famous club for magicians and magic enthusiasts and home to The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. Know worldwide as the showplace for some of the greatest magicians from around the globe, its latest artistic contribution, the Cabaret at the Castle has become the cabaret stage to appear and whose recent performers have included, Carol Channing, Florence Henderson, JoAnne Worley, Jason Graae, Ilene Graff, Rachel York and the recent addition of the popular New York hit Cast Party with Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch once a month.

Scheduled to appear the master mimic himself, Rich Little, on Sunday, May 23. Call 323-851-3313 x434 or e-mail for tickets or more information.

Support THE ARTS! LIVE THEATRE! Go see a show this week!

Send me your reviews and suggestions and I will put them in my next blog coming out May 10th Here's to an ARTS-filled week! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS:

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper

I would like to invite everyone down to the Iguana who would like to have an evening of wonderful music and voices,belly laughs and yummy food. This week the fun is on Thursday night, May 6th. Thank you Richard and Dana for a warm and inviting atmosphere. Nina Grand, Massapequa Park, N.Y.

Wednesday night at the Iguana (4/28/10) was so much fun!!! Thank you for celebrating Don and Peggy's birthdays. We all had a ball and have been talking about the show all day today. You and Dana are the best! Love you both! XOXO Pamela Palmieri,

Sandee and I love Richard and Dana, We always have a good time at Iguana. The food is good and reasonable. Richard and Dana are the best host and Hostess in town. The talent is top notch, the jokes can make you laugh, and one can get home at a decent hour... Michael Janin, Long Beach New York

Dana Lorge and I have put our OWN spin on the variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge ( in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission).

Cover: $12 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!
or more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_

MAY 12th: Tod Hall returns!

May 19th: Jack Demonte, Adrienne Haan, Barbara Gurskey, Bobbie Horowitz, Evan Lawrence

May 26th: Michelle Collier, 2010 Bistro Award winner Danielle Grabianowski, and Catt John

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall, Pam Palmieri

June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn, Lisa Raze returns!

JUNE 23rd: Sigali Hamberger, Pam Tate

June 30th: KEVIN DOZIER!




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