Saturday, June 22, 2013


  • Gower Champion's  birthday would have been today. His death came from a rare blood cancer and he secumbed at the tender age of sixty-one. He was an amazing direcrtor and he graced the Broadway stage with his impeccable style of directing begining in the 1950's!
    He had a solid success in 1960 with Bye Bye Birdie, a show about an Elvis-like rock star about to be inducted into the army. The show starred relative unknowns Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke along with a youthful cast. It ran 607 performances and won four Tony awards, including Best Musical and two for Champion's direction and choreography. Next came Carnival in 1961, which ran 719 performances and garnered seven Tony nominations, including one for Champion's direction.
    In 1964, he directed one of Broadway's biggest blockbusters, Hello, Dolly!. It ran for 2844 performances — almost seven years. Starring Carol Channing, it's best remembered for the title number, where Dolly is greeted by the staff of a restaurant after having been away for years. The show won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as two for Champion's direction and choreography.
    Champion had his fourth consecutive hit musical with I Do! I Do! in 1966. It featured a cast of two — veterans Mary Martin and Robert Preston — playing a couple seen throughout the years of their marriage. The show ran for 560 performances and got seven Tony nominations, including one for Champion's direction.
    His next show, The Happy Time in 1968, broke his streak. It had a relatively disappointing run of only 286 performances. This would be followed by many more disappointments and worse. In the 1970s, Champion directed minor hits (Sugar in 1972 and the revivalIrene in 1973), flops (Mack & Mabel in 1974) and complete disasters (Rockabye Hamlet — seven performances in 1976 — and A Broadway Musical, running only one night in 1978, not to mention Prettybelle, which closed out of town in 1971). On top of all this, he and Marge were divorced in 1973.
    After the failures of the previous decade, Champion was able to make a comeback with his longest-running show. In 1980, he choreographed and directed a stage adaptation of the movie classic, 42nd Street.
  • It won the Tony for Best Musical, and Champion was nominated for his direction and choreography, winning for the latter. The show ran for 3,486 performances, but Champion did not live to see any. After numerous curtain calls on opening night, producer David Merrick stunned the cast and audience by announcing Champion had died earlier that day.
  • Today is also the birthday of Meryl Streep, Cyndi Lauper and would have been the 90th birthday of film maker Billy Wilder. Beautiful Super Moon is tomorrow here in Southern California and this first weekend of Summer has been simply spectacular. Warm, but not too hot.
  • John Nugent and I continue to make progress on Adam and Eve and Steve. The option money has been nice, but it keeps us so busy, we barely have time to call our very closest friends these days. You can hear six of the songs, including the Overture on Sound Cloud. Great sound there!

Monday, April 08, 2013


Annette Funicello was a champion. She was an amazing entertainer with a charm, a wit and a smile that few stars have. She was perhaps the most courageous person I've ever known--even if it was only briefly. I remember the Sherman Brother tunes that she recorded like "Pineapple Princess", "Tall Paul", "Jo Jo The Dog Faced Boy", "Mia Amora." The Shermans used to call her "their lucky star." She was absolute magic for these two songwriters. The very first song that the Shermans  wrote and played for Walt Disney was for a very ordinary Wonderful World Of Color multi-part story called "The Horsemasters" with Roberta Stack and Tommy Kirk.  That song was called "Let's Sing A Strumming Song" and this simple but clever was the  very song that led Walt to sign the Shermans as exclusive songwriters for the studio,  and to ultimately to write the songs for "Mary Poppins." She was diagonised with MS in the late 1980's and went public about twenty-one years ago in 1992. I remember her roles in Walt's first big screen musical called "Babes In Toyland." It co-starred another recording legend Tommy Sands, and it featured the genius of Ed Wynn. Annette was the kind of performer who could really sell a song and make you believe in every line of lyric she sang. If she was your friend, she was always your friend. And she never forgot her roots. In fact, she was always amazed when Frankie Avalon used to tell her that while traveling across the country on his own singing tours, in the 1990's just how popular and how loved she still was. That simply flabbergasted and amazed her. She was pure class. There simply wasn't a bone of ego in her entire body, and Walt Disney, himself discovered her in a local school production of "Swan Lake." Later she became the spokesperson for Skippy Peanut Butter. She made great films for the Disney studio including "The Monkey's Uncle" that the Beach Boys sang in the picture. And so dear Annette, idol of my own childhood, and later friend, God keep you in his heaven, dear lady, now safe and totallly without pain. Let us find an end to this dreaded disease called MS!

Monday, April 01, 2013


Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the classic Hitchcock film "The Birds" that starred now 83 year old Tipi Hedren and Rod Stewart (whom we all loved in "The Time Machine" I found out that Walt Disney's amazing friend from Kansas City Ub Iwerks created the flying bird sequence that was nominated for an Academy Award for special effects in the 1963 Oscar race. Iwerks of course wasthe man that Mickey Mouse owes all of his development too and who was Walt's partner all those many years ago in Kansas City. Had Iwerks not left Disney to form his own compnay in the 1930's, his heirs would now have owned 20% of the Walt Disney Company. Oh the mistakes we make on the road of life. Hitchcock wanted Grace Kelly to play the female lead, but at that time she was married to Prince Ranier of Monacco and refused any other movie work. Hedren has said that old Hitch was quite possessive of her selecting all of her wardrobe and makeup and even refused to end her exclusive contract with him. Of course, "The Birds" is that all time frightening classic of the old master that I still remember scaring the absolute hell out of me. The budget of the film was by 1963 standards very impressive: 3.6 million dollars. It doubled its cost before the year was up back when movies didn't reach the stratosphere that they do today. It's also the 50th anniversary this year of "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." The one comedy film that was an absolute classic and starred just about every Hollywood comedian they could gather including Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Dick Shawn,, Ethel Merman , plus Sid caesar and good old Jimmy Durante. Even Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges found a role in the classic film. You just coudn't remake classics like these, today! Hitchcock and Stanly Krammer were simply brilliant film makers. Does anybody remember where the massive treasure was hid? It was under the ... drumroll, please.... "The Big "W"-- a landmark in Santa Monica that is still there to this day! The original film was shot in Cinerama. It also starred the absolute amazing Spencer Tracy. Jonathan Winters destruction of that gas station was one of the absolute highlights of the picture!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


We anticipate another Easter Day on Sunday and yet this is a pretty amazing day in history. For on this day in 1981 A president just elected and inauguarated only two months and ten days before was almost killed. On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by a deranged drifter named John Hinckley Jr. The president had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel and was walking with his entourage to his limousine when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and critically wounded, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the side, and valliant District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahaney was shot in the neck. After firing the shots, Hinckley was overpowered and pinned against a wall, and President Reagan, apparently unaware that he'd been shot, was shoved into his limousine by a Secret Service agent and rushed to the hospital. The president was shot in the left lung, and the .22 caliber bullet just missed his heart. In an impressive feat for a 70-year-old man with a collapsed lung, he walked into George Washington University Hospital under his own power. As he was treated and prepared for surgery, he was in good spirits and quipped to his wife, Nancy, ''Honey, I forgot to duck,'' and to his surgeons, "Please tell me you're Republicans." Reagan's surgery lasted two hours, and he was listed in stable and good condition afterward. The next day, the president resumed some of his executive duties and signed a piece of legislation from his hospital bed. On April 11, he returned to the White House. Reagan's popularity soared after the assassination attempt, and at the end of April he was given a hero's welcome by Congress. In August, this same Congress passed his controversial economic program, with several Democrats breaking ranks to back Reagan's plan. By this time, Reagan claimed to be fully recovered from the assassination attempt. In private, however, he would continue to feel the effects of the nearly fatal gunshot wound for years. Of the victims of the assassination attempt, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. policeman Thomas Delahaney eventually recovered. James Brady, who nearly died after being shot in the eye, suffered permanent brain damage. He later became an advocate of gun control, and in 1993 Congress passed the "Brady Bill," which established a five-day waiting period and background checks for prospective gun buyers. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law. Today is also the 87th birthday of Hollywood Square host Peter Marshall. And on this date in 1867, the US purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. What a bargain that was at 7.2 million dollars. How different would the world have been without it? Today is also the birthday of Warren Beatty at 76 and of the pencil in 1852.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


On this the feast of Saint Joseph and also the anniversary of the first Daylight Savings Time in 1918 enacted by Congress is also the tenth anniversary of the War In Iraq. Does it seem possible that so many of our soldiers were killed or wounded over Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction." Thank God we never thought of North Korea in the same light at that time, or we simply wouldn't be here, today!
On this day in 2003, the United States, along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, initiates war on Iraq. Just after explosions began to rock Baghdad, Iraq's capital, U.S. President George W. Bush announced in a televised address, "At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." President Bush and his advisors built much of their case for war on the idea that Iraq, under dictator Saddam Hussein, possessed or was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction. Hostilities began about 90 minutes after the U.S.-imposed deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war passed. The first targets, which Bush said were "of vital  military importance," were hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. fighter-bombers and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. In response to the attacks, Republic of Iraq radio in Baghdad announced, "the evil ones, the enemies of God, the homeland and humanity, have committed the stupidity of aggression against our homeland and people."Though Saddam Hussein had declared in early March 2003 that, "it is without doubt that the faithful will be victorious against aggression," he went into hiding soon after the American invasion, speaking to his people only through an occasional audiotape. Coalition forces were able to topple his regime and capture Iraq's major cities in just three weeks, sustaining few casualties. President Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003. Despite the defeat of conventional military forces in Iraq, an insurgency has continued an intense guerrilla war in the nation in the years since military victory was announced, resulting in thousands of coalition military, insurgent and civilian deaths.
After an intense manhunt, U.S. soldiers found Saddam Hussein hiding in a six-to-eight-foot deep hole, nine miles outside his hometown of Tikrit. He did not resist and was uninjured during the arrest. A soldier at the scene described him as "a man resigned to his fate." Hussein was arrested and began trial for crimes against his people, including mass killings, in October 2005.
In June 2004, the provisional government in place since soon after Saddam's ouster transferred power to the Iraqi Interim Government. In January 2005, the Iraqi people elected a 275-member Iraqi National Assembly. A new constitution for the country was ratified that October. On November 6, 2006, Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. After an unsuccessful appeal, he was executed on December 30, 2006. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


The Carnival folks have done it again. Once again, a Carnival Cruise Line is in trouble. This time it's their ship called THE TRIUMPH. This time the big ship is  powerless after a fire in the engine room. Rooms are now leaking sewage, there's long lines for food and guests are being asked to urinate in the showers. Air conditioners were off and it literally stinks throughout the entire ship. My bad experience with Carnival happened almost twenty-one years ago. I had booked a Carnival cruise to the Carribean an dha dagreed to share a room with another passenger to save money. Well, that part was cool, but when the ship sailed the passenger never showed up and I thought "Oh great, I'm getting a private room for the shared cabin price. WRONG.  Four days into the cruise, the passenger (who obviously was rich enough to afford this) hired a helicopter to fly out to the ship. He was late because he had gotten the flu. But when they flew him out and wheeled him in on a gurney into my room, he still had the flu. WORSE-- he was a smoker and I was allergic to smoke. I complained to try and get a new roomand as told that there were no vacant rooms available. They were completely sold out. Add to the misery, this guy snored like a truck and I got very little sleep. He never left the room except for meals and when I got home, of course I caught the flu. The cruise line offered no refund, partial or otherwise and no free vacation in the future. I vowed I would NEVER take another CARNIVAL cruise ever again in my life and I have not!  And Carnival continues to mitigate disaster in all the years since. True, no one's injured here, thank God, but there's no water and nobody can flush, so everyone's goin in little plastic bags and putting those little poop bags outside their cabin doors. Isn't that wonderful?  I pity thos epoor people and I renew my vow. I will neve rpatronize CARNIVAL cruise lines ever again.  The sights were great, but there was far too many negative things for me!

Monday, February 11, 2013



Well, the pope has resigned. He is the first pope to resign in six hundred years and wasn't it funny that lightning hit the Vatican the evening following the announcement. Coincidence? Maybe Not! The last pope to resign was Gregory the XII in 1415. At that time, the Catholic Worls had TWO popes. One was Bendict XIII who was the ANTI-POPE residing in Avingnon. You remember that it was an Anti-Pope that sparked Joan of Arc's mission. At any rate, there were two popes. The gentlemen of the two Gregory the XII offered to resign if the Anti Pope would also resign and a new election could take place.

On June 5th 1409  the Council of Pisa deposed the two pontiffs as schismatical, heretical, perjured, and scandalous; they elected Alexander V (1409–10) later that month. Gregory XII, who had meanwhile created ten more cardinals, had convoked a rival council at Cividale del Friuli, near Aquileia; but only a few bishops appeared. Gregory XII's cardinals pronounced Benedict XIII and Alexander V schismatics, perjurers, and devastators of the Church, but their pronouncement went unheeded.

The Council of Constance finally resolved the situation. Gregory XII appointed Carlo Malatesta and Cardinal Giovanni Dominici of Ragusa as his proxies. The cardinal then convoked the council and authorized its succeeding acts, thus preserving the formulas of Papal supremacy. Thereupon on 4 July 1415, Malatesta, acting in the name of Gregory XII, pronounced the resignation of the Pope, which the cardinals accepted. According to prior agreement, they agreed to retain all the cardinals that had been created by Gregory XII, thus satisfying the Correr clan, and appointed Gregory XII Bishop of Frascati, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and perpetual legate at Ancona. The Council then set aside Antipope John XXIII (1410–15), the successor of Alexander V. After the former follower of Benedict XIII appeared, the council declared him deposed; and the Great Schism was ended. A new Roman pontiff, Pope Martin V, was not elected before Gregory's death. Therefore, the Papal seat was vacant.

The rest of Gregory XII's life was spent in peaceful obscurity in Ancona. He is the last pope to abdicate, pending Pope Benedict XVI scheduled abdication on February 28th  2013  at 8pm, Rome Time.


Saturday, February 09, 2013


Now we've all heard of this great big snow storm/ blizzard that's hit New York City and the North East with a unbelievable blizzard that they call Nemo. And I've beeen in New york enough times to see some pretty crazy behavior in the snow. One guy was selling jig saw puzzles on Christmas Day. Another strange one was singing Pucccini into an empty mail box right there in broad daylight on the streets near Grand Central Station, but the images that I've posted today really show off the strangeness of good old New York City. maybe this only happens when the first big snow falls, but whatever it is, it sure looks crazy to me.  Of course, they say that you will find strageness here in the "Big Apple" that you would not find in any other American city. Oh well, it's fun to watch from a good long distance here in sunny Los Angeles, California. God love you, New York. Somebody has to step outside of the circle and stretch that envelope just a bit! If New York wants to have a "Naked Cowboy"-- why not? I just wouldn't want to freeze my nuts off doing what he's doing!

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Remember the story of The Applebee waitress who was fired after Pastor Aliso Bell complained after her receipt in which she crossed out the automatic 18% tip (added for groups of eight or more)  was posted on the internet. The one that said :"I give God ten percent: why do you get eighteen?" And this so called Christian pastor named Bell called up the restaraunt and demanded that everyone be fired including the manager? Then she tried to back track and claime that she actually left a cash tip on the table of $6.00. Well, here is (unedited) the response from the waitress who was fired and now claims that she doesn't want the job back. She'll probably do better on unemployment. Here is what this great waitress had to say:
I was a waitress at Applebee’s restaurant in Saint Louis. I was fired Wednesday for posting a picture on of a note a customer left on a bill. I posted it on the web as a light-hearted joke.
This didn’t even happen at my table. The note was left for another server, who allowed me to take a picture of it at the end of the night.
Someone had scribbled on the receipt, “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?”
I assumed the customer’s signature was illegible, but I quickly started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer. I refused to confirm any of them, and all were incorrect.
I worked with the Reddit moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch-hunt or hurting anyone.
Now I’ve been fired.
The person who wrote the note came across an article about it, called the Applebee’s location, and demanded everyone be fired — me, the server who allowed me to take the picture, the manager on duty at the time, the manager not on duty at the time, everyone. It seems I was fired not because Applebee’s was represented poorly, not because I did anything illegal or against company policy, but because I embarrassed this person.
In light of the situation, I would like to make a statement on behalf of wait staff everywhere: We make $3.50 an hour. Most of my paychecks are less than pocket change because I have to pay taxes on the tips I make.
After sharing my tips with hosts, bussers, and bartenders, I make less than $9 an hour on average, before taxes. I am expected to skip bathroom breaks if we are busy. I go hungry all day if I have several busy tables to work. I am expected to work until 1:30am and then come in again at 10:30am to open the restaurant.
I have worked 12-hour double shifts without a chance to even sit down. I am expected to portray a canned personality that has been found to be least offensive to the greatest amount of people. And I am expected to do all of this, every day, and receive change, or even nothing, in return. After all that, I can be fired for “embarrassing” someone, who directly insults his or her server on religious grounds.
In this economy, $3.50 an hour doesn’t cut it. I can’t pay half my bills. Like many, I would love to see a reasonable, non-tip-dependent wage system for service workers like they have in other countries. But the system being flawed is not an excuse for not paying for services rendered.
I need tips to pay my bills. All waiters do. We spend an hour or more of our time befriending you, making you laugh, getting to know you, and making your dining experience the best it can be. We work hard. We care. We deserve to be paid for that.
I am trying to stand up for all of us who work for just a few dollars an hour at places like Applebee’s. Whether a chain steakhouse or a black-tie establishment, tipping is not optional. It is how we get paid.
I posted a picture to make people laugh, but now I want to make a serious point: Things like this happen to servers all the time. People seem to think that the easiest way to save money on a night out is to skip the tip.
I can’t understand why I was fired over this. I was well liked and respected at Applebee’s. My sales were high, my managers had no problems with me, and I was even hoping to move up to management soon. When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light. In fact, I didn’t represent them at all.
I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook – I checked. But because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public, Applebee’s has made it clear that they would rather lose a dedicated employee than an angry customer. That’s a policy I can’t understand.
I am equally baffled about how a religious tithe is in any way related to paying for services at a restaurant. I can understand why someone could be upset with an automatic gratuity. However, it’s a plainly stated Applebee’s policy that a tip is added automatically for parties over eight like the one this customer was part of. I cannot control that kind of tip; it’s done by the computer that the orders are put into. I’ve been stiffed on tips before, but this is the first time I’ve seen the “Big Man” used as reasoning.
Obviously the person who wrote this note wanted it seen by someone. It’s strange that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is ashamed.
I have no agenda here. I seek no revenge against the note writer. I have no interest in exposing their identity, and, at this point, I’m not even sure I want my job back. I was just trying to make a joke, but I came home unemployed.
I’ve been waiting tables to save up some money so I could finally go to college, so I could get an education that would qualify me for a job that doesn’t force me to sell my personality for pocket change.

I think this Pastor needs to check the guidelines for being a Christian because she sure didn't act like pne here. I, myself will NEVER walk into an Applebee's restaraunt EVER AGAIN!

Monday, February 04, 2013


Everyone knows the house and land in Pakistan where Bin Laden met his just demise. I read this morning that they are planning to build an amusement park like Disneyland, a zoo and a big recreation area. Say it isn't so! But it is!
Pakistani officials say they’re planning to build an amusement park at a cost of nearly $30 million in the city where Usama bin Laden was killed by US forces, but claim it has nothing to do with the former Al Qaeda leader.

The Abbottabad development, which will begin construction around March, will take eight years to complete using allocated funds, Sky News reports.

"It will have a heritage park, wildlife zoo, food street, adventure and paragliding clubs, waterfalls and jogging tracks," said Syed Aqil Shah, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial minister for tourism and sports.

Abbottabad is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is a popular weekend destination for wealthier Pakistani families, according to Sky News.

Shah said the amusement park is being built to cater to that crowd and not as a way to polish the city’s image after Bin Laden was killed there in May 2011.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Let's hear it for Phil, the world famous ground hog who just today, February 2nd, 2013  did NOT see his shadow and that means that winter will soon be over. Or so they say. The tradition began in 1887 and today in front of thirty thousand witnesses, the good old groundhog gave his optimistic prediction. I wonder just what that poor groundhog thinks of all the fuss and bother that he gets on one day of the year. I couldn't find footage of this year's event, as I write this, but I have include footage of last year's ceremony in CANADA. Wow, this is one amazing tradition. Oh, bythe way, it's also the feast day of Saint Blaze who is the patron saint of the throat and singers. As a kid, we always used to go to church and have our throats blessed on this day. It also would have been Burton Lane's birthday, the composer of "Finian's Rainbow" and the classic "On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever" I almost got to work with this amazing guy, but the internet was just not relliable inthose days and I lived here in California and he lived in New York. He had two hit musicals and one notorious flop called "Carmelina".
But his music is classic. My favorites are "Look To The Rainbow" and "I Believe In Me".

Thursday, January 31, 2013



The very last of the Andrew Sisters left us yesterday at age 94 of natural causes. The Andrew Sisters, bar none, were perhaps the most famous of all the girl singer groups and the ones who were the fiercest at each other's throat fighting over money instead of continuing the amazing harmony and gift of music that God had given each of them. Patty was the Andrews in the middle, the lead singer and chief clown, whose raucous jitterbugging delighted American servicemen abroad and audiences at home. She could also deliver sentimental ballads like "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time" with a sincerity that caused hardened GIs far from home to weep. From the late 1930s through the 1940s, the Andrews Sisters produced one hit record after another, beginning with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" in 1937 and continuing with "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," ''Rum and Coca- Cola"  (written by my dear friend  Morey Amsterdam of "dick Van Dyke" fame) and more. They recorded more than 400 songs and sold over 80 million records, several of them gold (over a million copies) Other sisters, notably the Boswells, had become famous as singing acts, but mostly they huddled before a microphone in close harmony. The Andrews Sisters - LaVerne, Maxene and Patty - added a new dimension. During breaks in their singing, they cavorted about the stage in rhythm to the music.
Their voices combined with perfect synergy. As Patty remarked in 1971: "There were just three girls in the family. LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene's was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts."The Andrews's rise coincided with the advent of swing music, and their style fit perfectly into the new craze. They aimed at reproducing the sound of three harmonizing trumpets."I was listening to Benny Goodman and to all the bands," Patty once remarked. "I was into the feel, so that would go in to my own musical ability. I was into swing. I loved the brass section.Unlike other singing acts, the sisters recorded with popular bands of the '40s, fitting neatly into the styles of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Woody Herman, Guy Lombardo, Desi Arnaz and Russ Morgan. They sang dozens of songs on records with Bing Crosby, including the million-seller "Don't Fence Me In." They also recorded with Dick Haymes, Carmen Miranda, Danny Kaye, Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante and Red Foley. The two sisters Patty and Maxene joined forces in 1974 for the Sherman Brother musical "Over Here", The show wa sa hit but money again raised its  ugly head first with the producers themselves and then Patty's husband wanted a percentage of the show after giving suggestions to songwriters Bob and Dick Sherman, who had accepted and incorporated these suggestions into the show as a genuine show helping gesture. There are no show helping gestures that don't cost us, dear readers.  Today is the 91st birthday of Carol Channing and it would have been Eddie Cantor's who was born in 1892. I loved Eddie Cantor. It would also would have been Mario Lanza's birthday who was born in 1921 and dear Suzanne Pleshette who was born in 1937.

Suzanne of course starred in the last movie that Walt Disney was alive for called "Blackbeard's Ghost." She was the perfect partner for Bob Newhart in the six years of their show together on CBS.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


It seems even the Pope can have a bad day. Pope Benedict the IV was preparing a blessing in remembrance of the Hallocaust  for the Catholic Youth Council releasing a dove of peace out his Papal Window in Rome. This of course was complicated by an angry seagull who attacked the poor defenseless dove. Look how many forms the devil takes these days! The dove was eventually able to escape the attacking sea gull. Apparently, the pope has had trouble with this particular bird for years! In 2012, he flew back into the papal apartment after being released causing the Pope to exclaim "Mama Mia!" The same thing happened the year before and the year before that! Gee, it's a good thing this Pope wasn't Noah-- we'd still be floating on tree trunks! But seing one of the symbolic birds of peace seems to be a new complication. Well, nobody says the devil isn't persistent. If only the Pope had Randy Johnson on his team! What's even funnier that even the pope says "Mama Mia!" Well, at least the sun was out and it was a beautiful day! Ah yes, the old saying is true "Into each life, some rain must fall! Even if the sun is out at the time. Lord only knows that I ave my own battles with "the pitchforked wonder."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



The Golden Horseshoe Revue was a classic and beloved daily stage show at Anahiem, California's original Disneyland from 1955 until 1986 when it was cancelled. It still holds the record for the most performed stage show (over ten thousand performances) Disneyland is holding a tribute show in the original theatre of this beloved old show minus of course the late Wally Boaag, the late great Betty Taylor and all the original stars. I got to see the tribute show which was pleasant and all but so scaled down it was simply a glance of the greatness that this show once was. It was indeed Walt Disney's favorite entertainment at the park. While I commend Disneyland for trying, I truly think that they need to bring it back in its full glory, maybe includ ethe Dapper Dans in the show and find an Irish tenor who can render "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "Clancy Lowered The Boom."  The tribute show runs Wednesday through Thursday, six times a day including a dinner show at 6:30pm each night for pass holders through February 4th. My friend David Holmes played Sam the Bartender in a later ncarnation of the classic old show. Get there early, however. Make your reaservation when you first get into the park.

Monday, January 28, 2013


On this day in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded in the first seventy-three seconds of it's flight. I remember that day very well. I was living in Rowland Heights and I was watching it all on the television in my living room. It was a day of disaster and pain for all Americans.  Millions of television viewers were horrified to witness the live broadcast of the space shuttle Challenger exploding 73 seconds into flight, ending the lives of the seven astronauts on board. And they were equally horrified to learn in the aftermath of the disaster that the faulty design had been chosen by NASA to satisfy powerful politicians who had demanded the mission be launched, even under unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, a major factor in the disaster was that NASA had been ordered to use a weaker sealant for environmental reasons. Finally, NASA consoled itself and the nation with the realization that all frontiers are dangerous and to a certain extent, such a disaster should be accepted as inevitable.

At least, that seems to be how many people remember it, in whole or in part. That’s how the story of the Challenger is often retold, in oral tradition and broadcast news, in public speeches and in private conversations and all around the Internet. But spaceflight historians believe that each element of the opening paragraph is factually untrue or at best extremely dubious. They are myths, undeserving of popular belief and unworthy of being repeated at every anniversary of the disaster.

The flight, and the lost crew members, deserve proper recognition and authentic commemoration. Historians, reporters, and every citizen need to take the time this week to remember what really happened, and especially to make sure their memories are as close as humanly possible to what really did happen.

If that happens, here's the way the mission may be remembered:

  1. Few people actually saw the Challenger tragedy unfold live on television.
  2. The shuttle did not explode in the common definition of that word.
  3. The flight, and the astronauts’ lives, did not end at that point, 73 seconds after launch.
    The capsule went hurtling towards the ocean at two hundred miles an hour at 200 G. They lost consciousness certainly, but they were still alive until the hit the water.
  4. The design of the booster, while possessing flaws subject to improvement, was neither especially dangerous if operated properly, nor the result of political interference.
  5. Replacement of the original asbestos-bearing putty in the booster seals was unrelated to the failure.
  6. There were pressures on the flight schedule, but none of any recognizable political origin.
  7. Claims that the disaster was the unavoidable price to be paid for pioneering a new frontier were self-serving rationalizations on the part of those responsible for incompetent engineering management — the disaster should have been avoidable.
We lost much on this day. But we will always remember our friends. I hear also that the Boy Scouts of America may  by next week be ending its ban on gay leaders and gay scouts. Thank God. Equality is finally taking it's turn in our lives.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I thought I would share these pictures with all of you because it is most unusual sight. It's two views of a Disney Theme Park covered in snow. This is of course Disneyland Paris which opened almost twenty-one years ago and is really quite a beautiful park. The first picture is Captain Hook's ship which was once a landmark in the Anahiem, California park for many years before the new Fantasyland was built there. The second picture is the King Arthur carousel that is in every Disney park so far. What a beautiful sight Disney in the snow can be and this is certainly no exception. Remember at one point, this poor park was doing so poorly financially, that the Disney folks actually considered closing it down entirely. Thanks to a rich prince who invested heavily into in the late 90's, the park has come into it's own. This really is a very beutiful park. I think Walt would have loved it, very much. The park was pretty mch empty when these shots were taken and very very cold, but the Disney magic kind of made up for that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Congratulations are in order on this date. And kudos also to composer Andrew  Lyold Webber, A milestone previously unthinkable in American theatre becomes a reality on Jan. 26 when a Broadway show, The Phantom of the Opera, celebrates its 25th anniversary. A special curtain-call event at the Majestic Theatre will be followed by an after-party at the New York Public Library.

The black-tie and glamorous-garb crowd will include producer Cameron Mackintosh, director Harold Prince original star Sarah Brightman, current stars Hugh Panaro (The Phantom), Sierra Boggess (Christine), Kyle Barisich (Raoul) and Phantom cast alumni from 25 years on Broadway.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the international smash with Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, drawing on the popular 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux, is not able to attend due to a medical issue.

Harold Prince the director said "Did I ever dream [a 25-year run] would happen? No, of course not. I knew [from staging the London production] we had a hit, but, in the theatre that I was raised in, a long run was 1,000 performances. That was a big, big hit. Then, My Fair Lady ran five years. But [a 25th anniversary] is another world, and I'm happy to have been part of it."

Boggess, who originated the role of Christine in London's Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, joined the Broadway company of Phantom Jan. 21 for a limited engagement. Boggess' history with Phantom began when she originated the role of Christine in the revised Las Vegas production in 2006. She also played Christine for the London production's 25th anniversary, which was marked by a special staging at The Royal Albert Hall in October 2011.

The actress recently starred in Cameron Mackintosh's record-breaking London production of Les Misérables as Fantine. She starred as Broadway's The Little Mermaid and appeared in the Broadway revival of Master Class.

Panaro has a history of playing the Tony Award-winning show's rivals — both The Phantom and Raoul. He was first cast in December 1990 as Raoul, a role he played for more than two years and over 900 performances. In February 1999 he took over the title role, becoming the 10th of 12 men to be cast as The Phantom on Broadway.

To date, Panaro has played The Phantom with the New York Company over 1,800 times in three different engagements, including his most recent return that began in September 2010. Combined, he has performed (as both The Phantom and Raoul) in over 2,800 performances of the Broadway production.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Think of what you'd wish for if you found Alladan's magic lamp and was able to make just one wish.  Well, back on this date, it was sort of like finding something that was as valuable as that single solitary wish from the all powerful genie. And after the discovery, its doubtful that you would ever in your life need anything else again.
We go back over one hundred years ago, back January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, (Remember that old song "We're Marching to Pretoria?") Well, at any rate at Pretoria, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Now get this: it weighed 1.33 pounds, (Holey Moley!) and it was  christened the "Cullinan,"and good friends and gentle readers, it was the largest diamond ever found. The gem was discovered by a Mister Frederick Wells and he was eigteen feet below the earth's surface, when he spotted a flash of starlight embedded in the wall, just above him.
 His discovery was presented that very afternoon to Sir Thomas Cullnan who owned the mine. Sir Thomas  then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain's King Edward VII as a birthday gift. Did you get that? A birthday present! Oh my stars! Sir Thomas was worried that the diamond might be stolen in transit from Africa to London, and so the young man who found the diamond, (Edward) arranged to send a phony diamond aboard a steamer ship loaded with detectives as a diversionary tactic. While the decoy slowly made its way from Africa on the ship, the Cullinan was sent to England in a plain box.
Edward entrusted the cutting of the Cullinan to Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. Asscher, who had cut the famous Excelsior Diamond, a 971-carat diamond found in 1893, studied the stone for six months before attempting the cut. On his first attempt, the steel blade broke, with no effect on the diamond. On the second attempt, the diamond shattered exactly as planned; Asscher then fainted from nervous exhaustion.
The Cullinan Diamond was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones, valued at millions of dollars all told. The largest stone is called the "Star of Africa I," )of which you might have heard of) or "Cullinan I," and at 530 carats, it is the largest-cut fine-quality colorless diamond in the world. The second largest stone, the "Star of Africa II" or "Cullinan II," is 317 carats.
Both of these stones, as well as the "Cullinan III," are on display in the Tower of London with Britain's other crown jewels; the Cullinan I is mounted in the British Sovereign's Royal Scepter, while the Cullinan II sits in the Imperial State Crown. Mkes you want to go out and explore something,huh?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Last Sunday morning, my writing partner and I (John Nugent) went to Hillside Memorial Cemetary for the uncovering of the memorial grave marker for my hero, Robert B. Sherman. Bob, of course was one half of the absolutely amazing Sherman Brothers who wrote countless songs from 1952 to 2012, a sixty year partnership. I don't think I would ever be a songwriter today without the influence of these two amazing men. I don't really think that they ever wrote a bad song together. All of their songs were simple, singable and sincere. They all told a wonderful story. Sometimes they actually made up words to convey an idea! Who can forget "Fortuosity" "Fantasmagorical" and "Friendability." Besides of course that amazing "Supercalifragilistic" word we all know so well. The service was very simple and so lovely. I got to see Bob's son, Robbie for the first time in seventeen years. I met his other brother, Jeff who gave us that fabulous documentary "The Boys" and I got to say hello to Richard Sherman whom I so admire and have for years. Bob Sherman and I had always connected and we made a friendship at our very first meeting at his home way back in November of 1993. The performance of the Sherman song "Mother Earth and Father Time" from Charolette's Web was especially lovely. I will always try to write songs as the Shermans always did. To me, there just isn't any better songwriters. The respect and love that "The Boys" had for Walt Disney was absolutely incredible and Richard continues his respect to this very day by attending all the big Disney events and re-launches of the classic animated films. John Nugent and I were very much in awe of the entire ceremony. I am certainly happy that we got there about forty-five minutes early for it was well attended and there were many other services going on all around it. Believe it or not the song count between myself and John is at nine hundred and eighty-six songs, just fourteen shy of one thousand songs. This is our 6th year of our partnership together. I only wish that my family were more aware of the music I've created with partners over the last thirty-two years.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


We wait now for some developments to occur. Lainie Kazan is reading our screenplay version of "First Mother" and we have a number of investors lined up who are really into investing into new properties for movies. Meanwhiile we've completed new screenplays of "Amusingly Yours" about a single successful writer about to marry the wrong girl and is saved by his "muse", Maxine. There's also "Professor Chutzpah" about the youngest full time con man who discovers quite suddenly that he has a nine and a half year old son-- and this kid is not only a better con man than his father, he's PT Barnum, four foot eight. We are also putting finishing touches to our musical  "The Wild Swans" which is based on the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. That too some real adapting because the original story was only five pages. Today also marks the 19th anniversary of the Northridge Quake-- boy, do I remembe rthat fateful morning. John Nugent celebrates his 40th birthday on Sunday, February 3rd and we all look forward to that, but more than that will be the big pow wow meeting that will take place in Hollywood, Florida on January 25th with the investors and the creative team that my manager Jimmy Chapel has assembled. This Sunday they will reveal the head stone for Robert B. Sherman in Culver City. John and I are determined to be there to honor our hero's memory. And on January 28thm I will discover if I get any money from my Disney Workman's comp lawsuit. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Can you imagine that on this date way back in 1919, Prohibition came into effect. Indeed it did. Big mistake. But government tends to do that a lot sometimes. So yes, on January 16th, 1919, ninety-four years ago, The 18th Amendment to the United  States  Constitution, prohibiting the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes," is ratified on this day in 1919 and became" the law of the land."
The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.Prohibition took effect in January 1919. Nine months later, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. Good old Al Capone became the best known man in the country.  His life at the end was very sad and he actually embraced religion in his jail cell at Alcatraz.  In 1933, the 21st AmendmentThis is my first blog entry for 2013. And I, for one toasted the new year with great fan fare and tears. 2013 just has to be a better year than 2012.  We have a really hard working manager by the name of Jimmy Chapel who is really working so hard for my writing partner, John Nugent and myself.  We have at this moment twenty sit com pilots and twelve screenplays ready for sale this year. One thing about retirement, it really alows you to write. I invite my readers to visit Jimmy Chapel's web site at  It shows all of our many projects we are currently developing.  This is also my seventh year keeping a blog. It's been very interesting all of these many years. So take up your glass of wine and toast to a bad idea eventually repealed.