Tuesday, June 23, 2009



Don't ask me what made me do it, maybe I was a little "Mad Hatter" --but I noticed that yesterday was the anniversary of the opening of "Godspell" on Broadway. Now it wasn't a milestone anniversary -- like twenty-five years or fifty years. It happened in 1976. But something told me to write my old friend Stephen Schwartz. Believe it or not through Disney-ASCAP workshops over the years and all the ASCAP meetings I have attended, I have actually talked to him more times than at least two of my sisters. So I wrote him an email congrating him on the anniversary and telling him how I had been there (as a very young man) in the audience in NYC on my first visit there. Money supplied by my mother's passing the year before. Now I knew that he was knee-deep in writing his new opera and probably wouldn't answer the email or maybe it wouldn't have been acknowledged at all. But he did! And it turns out, that opera has been taking a lot out of him. And he answered my e mail and said that the reminder had "simply made and brightened his day" and he wanted to know how my projects were coming along. Was there anything he could do? I wrote back and mentioned the Barter Theatre kind of stalling on "Little Bit of Broadway". The next thing I know, I am getting a call from the Barter Theatre -- and they're apologizing for taking so long in their response-- and then added "we've just had a call from Stephen Schwartz-- and he told us to give any show I wrote some "serious attention". Wow-- now that made my day. And the Barter wants to do it in March of 2010 and will get back to me ASAP. Wow! They were amazed at how much the show had changed since they first received it in August of 2008. I then determined I was going to make a huge marketing effort in ALL the musicals, I am involved with-- starting with "The Traveling Companion" I heard from Seattle's 5th Avenue theatre and they commented that the songs were beautiful-- and very memorable. They wanted bios -- so I sent them and they also said the CD was lovely. And so I joined a marketing firm and we are starting with an E Mail campaign that promotes all of the shows-- even "Skylark" -- this campaign is so easy. You just create a data base of fifty to one hundred names with their website addresses-- not www. and then you create a great graphic post card and put it as part of the E mail. You create graphics for the e mail just in case their HTML won't accept a published graphic. I then send an automatic send and tomorrow morning at 9AM PDT-- this incredibly neat e mail goes automatically-- all at the same time-- to the recipients telling them about Creative Horizons and the musical of the moment plus a link to the website. It mentions those who are involved with ASCAP designations-- even if they only helped with it! This will save me at least $150 in postage. For those without websites, I will mail the designed postcard. The cost of this amazing service is FREE for the first month and $4.99 a month after that. I can rotate the musical I want to promote as much as possible. It's amazing. Then I came so close to winning a lottery this morning --four numbers equaled $234.00-- and no tax on that amount-- and then I received an unexpected royalty check for $125.98 for a song I wrote back in 1980! So I have been busy. And then I decided to write an e mail to the guy who quit my show and started all the trouble that happened at HFC. And I just said "I want you to know, I hold no grudges-- you did what you had to do". I felt very good about this. I sometimes open my mouth and say things when I should remain silent and I apologize to everyone including dear Tim whom I should have been a lot more sensitive with-- But I went to church on Sunday and asked God to forgive me and suddenly the good things just started happening. I was amused that the last big lottery was won in Tim's favorite town of Santa Cruz-- probably at a market he has stopped to get a cold drink. Maybe that is an omen. That was thirty-nine million dollars. Then I won my own "little lottery" and I was able to pay my overdue power bill and cable. I have been so busy these last three days-- wow! Oh speaking of "Mad Hatter" ideas-- they are going to do a musical version of --now hold on your hats-- "Caligula" Caligula with book, music and lyrics by Eric Svejcar. The musical, according to press notes, "is placed in an ancient rock-and-roll theatre somewhere between the years 41 and 1973 (or perhaps both simultaneously). This particular ancient theatre just happens to somehow have electricity, a bitchin' sound system, a light show, a rock band, and costumes more in the world of Ziggy Stardust than Julius Caesar. History's most notorious tyrant takes the audience on a musical journey of murder, sensuality, heartbreak, world domination, immortality, and absurdly unmitigated ego." Producers are Rich Affannato in association with Meri Krassner. Caligula, with Morton, was previously seen in the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Oh my sweet God! I think the world is a "Mad Hatter"

Monday, June 22, 2009


Today is the day that we have lost some amazing celebrities over the years. Judy Garland died forty years ago this day at the tender age of forty-seven. What a tragic life! What an amazing entertainer. Funny thing, I went to see the Hollywood Fight Club version of The Wizard Of Oz (abtly retitled "The Yellow Brick Road" to avoid paying royalties to Tams Witmark. What a disgrace! Somebody wake up the MGM Lion-- he should sue and then eat the producers. There wasn't even a Yellow Brick Road. Cheap gaudy stick on flowers on a black wall is all that represented the Land of Oz-- and they kept falling off the wall all during the performance. John Nugent spent so long doing three orchestrations for this schlock show. The Scarecrow was terrible and the little girl who played Dorothy was sweet but couldn't handle "Over The Rainbow". They had a fifty fifty club drawing that the kids sell tickets for so they can enjoy an after performance pizza. Guess what? They had to draw EIGHT tickets to find a winner in forty -one seats sold, You know what that means? Yes, friends, that means SEVEN parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles LEFT after ACT ONE. The only good performer was the young man who played the Lion-- Kyle was absolutely brilliant! Today we also lost ANN LANDERS-- the gossip columnist in 1993 and Fred Astaire who would have been 110 years old this year. And of course, last year on this very day, we lost GEORGE CARLIN. What an amazing wit this amazingly talented man was. He put things so funny. "If a henpecked married man is alone in the forest, is he still wrong?" and my all time favorite "Why is it that the caterpillar does all the work and the butterfly gets all the publicity?" I hear rumors that the Hollywood Fight Club is closing. The story I hear from several sources is that dear old David wants to close it for two to three months and then re-open it with a new name-- he needs too-- he's bled enough actors out of a lot of money. I couldn't even get this guy to rent a piano for our show. We had to make a prop piano and pretend somebody was playing it! Oh well, lesson learned again. It was great getting it staged, but oh what it cost! And John Nugent and I made nothing at HFC. Oh yes, one more we also lost Pat Nixonon this date in 1993-- she was a lady of class! And today on this day in 1970, eighteen year olds got the right to vote!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Does anyone remember movie star Jane Russell. Today the old girl is eighty-eight years young. In her heyday, this volumptious and gorgeous women was an amazing performer who starred in some great movies inclusing the classic "Gentleman Prefer Blondes". Jane's mother arranged for her to take piano lessons. In addition to music, she was interested in drama and participated in stage productions at Van Nuys High School. Her early ambition was to be a designer of some kind, until the death of her father at forty-six, when she decided to work as a receptionist after graduation. She also modeled for photographers and, at the urging of her mother, studied drama and acting with Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Workshop and with famed Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya. In 1940, Russell was signed to a seven-year contract by film mogul Howard Hughes and made her motion picture debut in The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure. Although the movie was completed in 1941, it was released for a limited showing two years later. There were problems with the censorship of the production code over the way her ample cleavage was displayed. When the movie was finally passed, it had a general release in 1946. During that time, Russell was kept busy doing publicity and became famous. Contrary to countless incorrect reports in the media since the release of The Outlaw, Jane Russell did not wear the specially designed underwire bra (the first of its kind that Howard Hughes constructed for the film. According to Jane's 1988 autobiography, she was given the bra, decided it had a mediocre fit, and wore her own bra on the film set with the straps pulled down. Together with Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth, Russell personified the sensuously contoured sweater girl look, though Jane Russell's measurements of 38D-24-36 and height of 5' 7" were more statuesque than her contemporaries. Besides the thousands of quips from radio comedians, including Bob Hope once introducing her as "the two and only Jane Russell," the photo of her on a haystack glowering with sulky beauty and youthful sensuality as her breasts push forcefully against her bodice was a popular pin-up with Service men during World War II. Though The Outlaw was not a spectacular Western, it did well at the box-office. It appeared that Hughes was only interested in her being cast in movies that showcased her sensational figure, however, reportedly refusing an offer from Darryl Zanuck for her to play Doña Sol in Blood and Sand. She was not in another movie until 1946, when she played Joan Kenwood in Young Widow for RKO. Though her early movies did little to show her true acting abilities, they helped parlay her into a career portraying smart, often cynical, tough "broads," with a wisecracking attitude. In 1947, --the year of my birth-- dear Jane Russell attempted to launch a musical career. She sang with the Kay Kyser Orchestra on radio and recorded two singles with his band, "As Long As I Live" and "Boin-n-n-ng!" She also cut a 78 rpm album that year for Columbia Records, "Let's Put Out the Lights," which included eight torchy ballads and cover art that included a diaphanous gown that for once put the focus more on her legs than her breasts. It was reissued on CD in 2002, in a package that also included the Kyser singles and two songs she recorded for Columbia in 1949 that went unreleased at the time. In 1950, she recorded a single, "Kisses and Tears," with Frank Sinatra and The Modernaires for Columbia. She went on to perform with proficiency in an assortment of movie roles, which included playing Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) on loan out to Paramount; and Mike Delroy opposite Hope in Son of Paleface (1952), again at Paramount. Happy father's Day to all fathers out there. I especially salute my brothers-in-laws Ed Stapleton, John Hoffman and Bob Dillion. They have done great jobs as fathers. And my own dad-- well, there are no words that quite describe mu=y amazing father. He had more courage and class than anyone I can tell you about. He was as honest as the day was long.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orMwoQYVfvo 9 minute sample

Today would have been Lillian Hellman's one hundred and fourth birthday. She was born in 1905 and died on June 30th, 1984. Of Course Lillian wrote two of the very best dramas in American drama. Lillian was linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes. She was romantically involved for 30 years with mystery and crime writer Dashiell Hammett (and was the inspiration for his character Nora Charles), -- yes "The Thin Man"-- dear readers. She was also a long-time friend and literary executor of author Dorothy Parker-- the ultimate wit of the 20th century. She was the one who coined that wonderful phrase. Lillian Hellman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana into a Jewish family. During most of her childhood she spent half of each year in New Orleans, in a boarding home run by her aunts, and the other half in New York City. Hellman's most famous plays include The Children's Hour (1934), The Little Foxes(1939) and Toys in the Attic (1959). The Oscar-winning film Julia was claimed to be based on the friendship between Hellman and the title character. Upon the film's release, in 1977, New York psychiatrist Muriel Gardiner claimed that she was "Julia" and that she had never known Hellman. Hellman replied that the person upon whom the character was based was not Gardiner. However, the fact that Hellman and Gardiner had the same lawyer (Wolf Schwabacher , that the lawyer had been privy to Gardiner's memoirs, and that the events in the film conform to those in the memoirs, have led some to conclude that they had been appropriated by Hellman without attribution to Gardiner. Hellman was fond of including younger characters in her plays. In The Children's Hour (1934), the play takes place in a children's school and the antagonist of the play, Mary, is a young girl. In The Little Foxes (1939), an important sub-plot takes place between the potential marriage of the youngest characters in the play, Leo and Alexandra. Dear Lillian Hellman appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1950. At the time, HUAC was well aware that Hellman's longtime lover Dashiell Hammett had been a Communist Party member. Asked to name names of acquaintances with communist affiliations, Hellman chose to deliver a prepared statement, which read in part:
“To hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group.”As a result, Hellman was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios for many years. Prior to the war, as a member of the League of American Writers with Hammett, she had served on its Keep America Out of War Committee during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Some other interesting things happened in history today. In 1791King Louis XVI of France attempted to flee the country in th so-called Flight to Varennes, but was caught. In 1837 Queen Victoria ascended the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV.In 1863
West Virginia became the 35th state. And oh yes, those of you with an interest in the bizarre in1893 A jury in New Bedford, Mass., found Lizzie Borden innocent of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. We all remember that famous taunt "Lizzie Borden took an an axe and gave her father forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her mother forty-one" And in the category of "the bigger you are, the harder you fall in 1947 (the year of my birth) Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was shot dead in Beverly Hills, Calif., apparently at the order of mob associates. Ed Sullivan premiered on television the year after in 1948
1948 and in 1963 The United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to set up a hot line communication link between the two superpowers. And finally in 1975 The movie "Jaws" was released and the suspense film was never the same again. How long did it take YOU to go back into the water?
The tobacco industry agreed to a massive settlement in exchange for relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills.
1999. Happy Birthday to Nicole Kidman who turns 42 years old today. Olympia Dukakis, Martin Landau and James Tolkan all turn 78. And in the "this will make you feel old department" Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys turns 67 today. Anne Murray turns 64. Candy Clark (yes, "American Graffiti") is 62, John Goodman is 57 and dear Lionel Richie and Nancy Sinatra have both reached the big "60" today. It's a gray day in the city today- another infamous "June Gloom" days but I'm sure we'll see sun later. It's crazy --one day it's sunny very early and the next its gloom, doom and looks like it wants to rain. Take that back, I think it has. There are puddles outside. And before I neglect this one-- today would have been the 100th birthday of actor Erroll Flynn, that dashing romantic star of years gone by and the very favorite star of my writing partner John Nugent. Could there a be a musical in his life or what?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Today is Stan Laurel's birthday! He was born in England in 1890 as Stanley Arthur Jefferson and changed it wisely to "Laurel" at the suggestion of a manager. At Stan's funeral, the great Buster Keaton summed it all up pretty well. He said "Chaplin wasn't the funniest, I was the funniest-- oh no Stan Laurel was the funniest. This single man has brought more laughter into my life than I could ever relate to you here. He was simply brilliant at what he did. One of the secrets of understanding and really appreciating Laurel & Hardy together in films is to understand that Oliver Hardy is actually dumber than Stan-- but doesn't know it. So what about this amazing man of a thousand expressions and countless bits of honest comedy. Well for one thing, His father managed a number of different theatres - one of which being the long demolished Eden Theatre in Bishop Auckland. Stan had a natural affinity for the theatre, with his first professional performance on stage being at the Britannia Panopticon in Glasgow, Scotland, at the age of 16] In 1910, he joined Fred Karno's troupe of actors, which also included a young Charlie Chaplin. No here's a big surprise-- For some time, Stan acted as Chaplin's understudy. In the meantime, The Karno troupe toured America, and brought both Chaplin and Laurel to the United States for the first time. From 1916 to 1918, he teamed up with Alice and Baldwin Cooke, who became lifelong friends. Amongst other performers, Laurel worked briefly alongside Oliver Hardy in a silent film short The Lucky Dog, this was before the two became a team. It was around this time that Stan met Mae Dahlberg, who was to have a great effect on his life. Also about this time, Stan adopted the stage name of Laurel, at Dahlberg's suggestion. The pair were performing together when Laurel was offered $75.00 per week to star in two-reel comedies. After the making of his first film, Nuts in May, Universal offered him a contract. The contract was soon cancelled, however, during a reorganisation at the studio.By 1924, Laurel had forsaken the stage for full-time film work, now under contract with Joe Rock for twelve two-reel comedies. The contract also had one unusual stipulation, that Dahlberg was not to appear in any of the films. It was felt that her temperament was hindering his career. In 1925, when she started interfering with Laurel's work, Rock offered her a cash settlement and a one-way ticket back to her native Australia, which she accepted. In 1926, Stan married his first wife, Lois Nielson. He would go on to marry three other women. One of them he would marry twice.
He was also good friends with Jimmy Finlayson before the team of Laurel and Hardy appeared. Dear Stan Laurel went on to join the Hal Roach studio, and began directing films, including a 1926 production called Yes, Yes, Nanette. He intended to work primarily as a writer and director, but fate stepped in. In 1927, Oliver Hardy, another member of the Hal Roach Studios Comedy All Star players, was injured in a kitchen mishap and Laurel was asked to return to acting. Laurel and Hardy began sharing the screen in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup and With Love and Hisses. The two became friends and their comic chemistry soon became obvious. Roach Studios' supervising director Leo McCarey noticed the audience reaction to them and began teaming them, leading to the creation of the Laurel and Hardy series later that year. Together, the two men began producing a huge body of short films, including The Battle of the Century, Should Married Men Go Home?, Two Tars, Be Big!, Big Business, and many others. Laurel and Hardy successfully made the transition to talking films with the short Unaccustomed As We Are in 1929. They also appeared in their first feature in one of the revue sequences of The Hollywood Revue of 1929 and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-colour Technicolor
musical feature, The Rogue Song. In 1931, their own first starring feature, Pardon Us was released, although they continued to make both features and shorts until 1935, including their 1932 three-reeler The Music Box which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject. Trust me when I tell, I can watch "The Music Box" fifty times more and still laugh and still find something new about this legendary and wonderful comedy. God love you, dear Stan, wherever you are. Hopefully, you and Mr. Hardy are still making God laugh-- Lord knows, he needs it!"

Monday, June 15, 2009


The writing is long faded and the language is not our own, but this is the "Magna Carta" Perhaps the most important first document about "freedom". Upon this document was based every other law and procedure of law including our own Constitution. On this day, in 1215 it was signed by dear old King John of England. The Magna Carta required King John of England to proclaim certain rights (pertaining to nobles and barons), respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or fettered — and implicitly supported what became the writ of habeas corpus, allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment.
Magna Carta was arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today in the English speaking world. Many clauses were renewed throughout the Middle Ages and continued to be renewed as late as the 18th century. By the second half of the 19th century, however, most clauses in their original form had been repealed from English law.
Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects (the barons) in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. And on this day of great law is also the day of great humor from those who ether represented the law in government or manipulated the law to their advantage. Yes, indeed on this day in 1995, O.J. Simpson tried on the gloves that the prosecution mandated had to be the gloves of the killer-- of course they didn't fit. Johnny Cochran said "If the gloves don't fit, you must acquit" and that jury did. Boy, do we know better know. Today is also that fateful day in 1992 when dear old Dan Quayle corrected student William Figueroa in New Jersey for misspelling the word "potato" . Quayle said it was "potatoe" And even if you buy that he was given the wrong cue card how about when he said "The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history" (our nation's?) or this lovely item "I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the future". The late Johnny Carson used to say "Dan Quayle is a gift from Almighty God to every comedian on earth-- especially me!"Funny thing, I hadn't planned this blog ( I never do) and my friend Tim Doran and I were just discussing the old boy last night on the phone. On this date in 1996 we lost "Lady Ella" -- Ella Fitzgerald, "The first lady of song". Ella was a magnificent singer with a three octave range, a purity of tone with the ability of phrasing and intonation not heard from many singers before or since. Her amazing collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Joe Pass are absolute stuff of legends. I had a great day yesterday and went back to church-- it was an amazing home coming. I am submitting to playhouses all over the country and giving my very best efforts to market the many musicals that John Nugent and I have written together. I need to find just the right approach. Tooting the horn of one show only doesn't work. So I'm working on a multi-title approach this time. We're still aiming for the Pasadena Jazz Institute. I have called the owner of the club twice now. The last time he said "I'll get back to you, just as soon as i get over my last hangover!" --Well, that's honest, but scary as hell. We shall see where this leads

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Today is Flag Day! So put out your flags and be proud. Today would have been the 100th birthday of one of my favorite singers, Mr. Burl Ives. How many of you have not heard Burl sing that wonderful Christmas song "Holy Jolly Christmas" from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Burl was Born in 1909 near Hunt City, an unincorporated town in Jasper County, Illinois, He was the son of Levi "Frank" Ives (1880 - 1947) and Cordelia "Dellie" White (1882 - 1954). He had six siblings: Audry, Artie, Clarence, Argola, Lillburn, and Norma. His father was at first a farmer and then a contractor who did work for the county and others. One day Ives was singing in the garden with his mother, and his uncle overheard them. He invited his nephew to sing at the old soldiers' reunion in Hunt City. The boy performed a rendition of the folk ballad "Barbara Allen" and impressed both his uncle and the audience.From 1927 to 1929 Ives attended Eastern Illinois State Teachers College in Charleston where he played football. During his junior year, he was sitting in English class, listening to a lecture on Beowulf, when he suddenly realized that he was wasting his time. So he got up to leave. As he walked out the door the professor made a snide remark and Ives slammed the door behind him. Sixty years later, the school named a building after its most famous dropout.On July 23, 1929, in Richmond, Indiana, Ives did a trial recording of "Behind the Clouds" for the Starr Piano Company's Gennett label, but the recording was rejected and destroyed a few weeks later. Dear Burl traveled about the U.S. as an itinerant singer during the early 1930s, earning his way by doing odd jobs and playing his banjo. He was jailed in Mona, Utah, for vagrancy and for singing “Foggy Foggy Dew,” which the authorities decided was a bawdy song. In 1931 he landed on WBOW radio in Terre Haute, Indiana. He also went back to school, attending classes at Indiana State Teachers College. In 1940 Burl began his own radio show, titled The Wayfaring Stranger after one of his ballads. The show was very popular. In the 1940s he popularized several traditional folk songs, such as “Lavender Blue” (his first hit, a folk song from the 17th century), “Foggy Foggy Dew” (an English/Irish folk song), “Blue Tail Fly” (an old Civil War tune) and “Big Rock Candy Mountain” (an old hobo ditty).In early 1942 Ives was drafted by the military and spent time first at Camp Dix, then at Camp Upton, where he joined the cast of Irving Berlin's This Is the Army. When the show went to Hollywood, he was transferred to the Army Air Force. He was discharged honorably, apparently for medical reasons, in September 1943. Between September and December 1943, Ives lived in California with actor Harry Morgan (who would later go on to play Colonel Sherman T. Potter on M*A*S*H). In December 1943, Ives returned to New York City and went to work again for CBS radio for $100 a week.On Dec. 6, 1945, Ives married 29-year-old script writer Helen Peck Ehrlich. They would later adopt a son (Alexander). The next year, Ives was cast as a singing cowboy in the film Smoky. And today, we remember the passing of Alan Jay Lerner at the still very young age of 67. At the time of his death, he was actually writing the lyrics for Llyold Weber's Phantom Of The Opera. He was replaced by Charles Hart. Can you imagine how different "Phantom" might have been with the great Alan jay Lerner doing the lyrics. Poor Alan had some really bad luck with musicals written without his old partner Frederick Lowe. The worst was a little ditty called "Dance A Little Closer" which opened and closed in one night. He wrote it with Charles Strouse and was based on the Robert Sherwood play and movie "Idiot's Delight". Too bad they didn't stick with the original title. Critics dubbed the poor thing "Close A Little Faster" -- In the movie version, Clark gable actually sang Irving Berlin's classic song "Putting On The Ritz". Oh yes, by the way, the musical "Hair Spray began life on this date in 2002 as it premiered in 2002 in Seattle. So Happy Flag Day, everyone-- put your flag out!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today is composer Richard Sherman's 81st birthday. Of course Richard is one half of the Sherman Brothers team-- and they are writing a new musical even today called "The Merry-Go-Round" which according to Playbill magazine is bound for Broadway. I have always loved the Sherman Brothers since I was a kid and I've met Richard and Robert many times. The last time I saw Richard was a few months ago at the premiere of the re-issue of "Sleeping Beauty". He is an amazing guy. I've actually been in Robert's home in Beverly Hills and Robert and I had a wonderful meeting there in November of 1995. It was simply incredible. There isn't a Sherman Brothers song that misses me and damn few that I don't like. I really can only think of one. But I want to really offer to congrats to dear Richard who keeps the spirit of Walt Disney alive by attending all of these wonderful events. Richard was there and proud at Walt's 100th birthday celebration at Disneyland. Thank you dear Richard for all of your support of dear Walt's memory all of these many years. While I was an agent back in 1990's, I represented Robert's son Robbie. He's an amazing talent as well. John Nugent and I saw the Sherman documentary "The Boys" at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on Memorial Day this year. It is also the 81st birthday of the classic old singer Vic Damone. Vic actually had his start on the Arthur Godfrey program in the very same year that I was born in 1947. Today I am doing some marketing and cold calling of theatres. So wish me luck. "A Little Bit Of Broadway" has had its latest rewrite and hopefully it's last. A magnus opus with much wisdom gained this year, it still has some of the best music that I've written with John Nugent as my amazing collaborator. Tomorrow is my sister Rosemary's 67th birthday. How time flies when you aren't looking! Did anyone read about the poor man who's childhood home was accidentally demolished? Dear God! And about the woman who missed that fatal Air France flight from Brazil to Paris only to be killed in a car accident in Austria a few days later. I guess it's true "When It's Your Time To Go-- It's Your time to go". I even wrote a new song about it in anew musical John and I have written called "Death Does Broadway".

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Today indeed is the 75th birthday of the most famous duck in animated history. For years he was voiced by dear Clarence Nash, who for me always brought him to life. Donald Duck made his debut in the Silly Symphony cartoon "The Wise Little Hen" on June 9, 1934. His fiery temper endeared him to audiences, and in the 1940s he surpassed Mickey Mouse in the number of cartoons reaching the theaters. Eventually, there were 128 Donald Duck cartoons, but he also appeared in a number of others with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Pluto. His middle name, shown in a wartime cartoon, is Fauntleroy. The original voice of Donald was Clarence "Ducky" Nash, who was succeeded after 50 years by Disney artist Tony Anselmo. A daily Donald Duck newspaper comic strip began on February 7, 1938.Donald Duck has a good heart and always has good intentions. Well, almost always. Actually, it's his second or third intentions that are the good ones, but by the time they surface Donald's already off and running in the wrong direction. He refuses to let anyone or anything stand in his way. It doesn't matter how much humiliation the world dishes out to him, Donald will take it and come back for more. He's a loser, not a quitter, and he'll go down fighting. This is a duck with one short fuse, and an amazing (if unintelligible) command of language, and when things don't go right, he goes ballistic. Yet after the storm is over and the tantrum is through, when faithful Daisy soothes his brow or his conscience finally catches up with him, even Donald can admit that there must be a better way. If only he could figure out what it is.Hot-headed Donald is a little man in a big world that's trying to keep him down. Call it fate, or call it lack of self-control, nothing goes right for this duck: even his best intentions often go awry. Of course, by the time his best intentions surface he's probably already chasing after less noble pursuits. As stubborn as he is temperamental, he won't give in, even when he's up to his beak in trouble. Then watch out. Like a lot of people with a temper problem, he's blind to his own faults but quick to see them in others. He can't understand why life seems so much easier for pals Mickey and easy-going Goofy. It's not fair. Still, Donald will keep struggling to get what he deserves in the world. Favorite sayings: "Oh, yeah?" "Hiya, toots!" "Aw, phooey!" "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!" Today also is the birthday of dear Judy Garland. I learned a new story about her today. Judy was Oscar nominated for Best Actress in a "A Star Is Born" and she couldn't attend because she was busy giving birth. The cameras and the press were all camped outside of her hospital room. The announcement was made and of course it was Grace Kelly (the future princess of Monaco) who won the Oscar instead of dear Judy. Any one who has ever sen the complete uncut version of "A Star Is Born" will know she was robbed. In fact the new story that I heard was that dear Groucho Marx sent her a telegram the night that she lost that read "There hasn't been a robbery like this since Brinks!" I read today where "Guys And Dolls" is closing after only 143 productions leaving the restored Nederlander Theatre (who housed "Rent" for twelve years) empty again. And John and dear Tim Doran are exploring doing an "On the Road to Broadway" type concert at the Pasadena Jazz Institute in August to perform some of the jazzier songs that he and I have written over the years. I sure wish dear friend Tony Westbrook were still living here to be in this show. The Jazz Institute attracts a lot of celebrities and famous music folk-- so we shall see what develops. I did hit a milestone the other day. My official song count is now six hundred according to ASCAP. You can see that by going to www.ASCAP com. and looking at the Ace Data Base. Of course, there would have been no songwriting without dear Tim Doran and Randy Ames and most importantly John Nugent (who bar none is a musical genius) and Tony, God Love You because you made the songs come alive in those recordings first with solo recordings and then in collaboration with the amazing Terry Snyder. The musical "Little Bit of Broadway" is now re-written with a brand new opening and a new ending and a great improvement in the middle. And I thank Sarah Jane Marsh for writing me a great "wake up" letter the other day which really helped me re-write it. Sarah played Patricia Moore brilliantly in the show. She was a real strength. After her letter, I knew I had to really focus on what this show was about. Along with Brice Oates and Walter and Naama and Nick Sweet and Robert and dear Andy Sowers. And oh yes, Joey Vitale! -- he put the technical problems away! I gained wisdom and a new resolve to keep going. Of course my TW rooting squad in NYC is a big reason I do this still-- he's so amazing. What a blessing you have always been, Tony!

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Today is dear Harvey Fierstein, that gravely voiced and lovable character actor who has been such a champion for the gay community. He's funny and oh so very talented. Here he clowns around with actor Anthony Rapp. Harvey has quiye a story. Mr. Fierstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jacqueline Harriet (née Gilbert), a school librarian, and Irving Fierstein, a handkerchief manufacturer--if you can fathom that one! He is Jewish by birth and is an atheist but I'm sure he can't be that anti-God. Harvey was openly gay at a time when very few celebrities were, and never needed to come out His careers as a stand-up comic and female impersonator are mostly behind him. Mostly except for "Hairspray" Harvey resides in Ridgefield, Connecticut
The gravel-voiced actor perhaps is known best for the play and film Torch Song Trilogy, which he wrote and starred in. The 1982 Broadway production won him two Tony Awards, for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play, two Drama Desk Awards, for Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Actor in a Play, and the Theatre World Award, and the film earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination as Best Male Lead.
Fierstein also wrote the book for La Cage aux Folles (1983), winning another Tony Award, this time for Best Book of a Musical, and a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Book. Legs Diamond, his 1988 collaboration with Peter Allen, was a critical and commercial failure, closing after 72 previews and 64 performances. His other play writing credits include Safe Sex, Spookhouse, and Forget Him.In 2007, Fierstein wrote the book to the musical A Catered Affair in which he also starred. After tryouts at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre in Fall 2007, it began previews on Broadway in March 2008 and opened on April 17. He received a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and the show won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical.
Fierstein made his acting debut at La MaMa, E.T.C.in Andy Warhol's only play, Pork. Fierstein continued to appear at La MaMa and other venues but also, having some aspirations to become a painter, enrolled at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Pratt in 1973.
In addition to Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and A Catered Affair, Fierstein's Broadway acting credits include Edna Turnblad in Hairspray (2003), for which he won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, and Tevye in the 2005 revival of Fiddler on the Roof. Fierstein and Tommy Tune are the only individuals to have won Tony Awards in four different categories. Dear Harvey's film roles include
Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, Robin Williams' mask maker brother in Mrs. Doubtfire, Merv Green in Death to Smoochy Garbo Talks, Duplex, and the blockbuster hit Independence Day. He narrated the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, for which he won a News & Documentary Emmy Award. He also voiced the role of Yao in Walt Disney's animated feature Mulan, a role he later reprised for the video game Kingdom Hearts II and the direct-to-DVD sequel Mulan II. AS for me, the heartache over losing the car is lessening and John Nugent and I continue to write together. John and I attended a realy great show at the Pasadena Jazz Institute that had a great Sinatra type singer named Douglas Rogier and a magician by the name of Dave Cox-- pretty funny magician. The Jazz institute is the mall on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. So I did get an idea of doing some musicals concert style-- and see how much attention we get. We'll have to make a call and find out how the program works. Of course today is the 65th anniversary of D-Day-- that victory was SO IMPORTANT to winning the war. I laughed like hell at one of Jay Leno's last jokes on the air. My long time partner John Long (believe it or not we have been together TEN years next month) works at a sex club on Vermont in LA called THE SLAMMER club. Imagine my surprise when Leno said "The recession is really hurting everybody-- there's a gay sex club on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles --that's hurting so bad it had a sign out the other evening that said "Ladies Night""-- now that's what I call a recession!