This is a bit of a stretch I must say. What I mean, is that today, I’ll be giving myself a good and thrilling stretch of my theatrical viewing muscles on a rainy Sunday afternoon courtesy of the New York City Opera. I rarely venture to the opera, to be honest, not because I don’t like it particularly, but because I’m not sure it sits in my ears as well as how musical theater can infect my soul. But I was curious, you see; an opera, based on the Stephen King novel, with a beloved movie version of the tale starring the powerful Kathy Bates sitting in our collective memories, definitely tweaked my interest. So what would it be like to see the opera, Dolores Claiborne, with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy and composed by Tobias Picker, both of whom are well regarded within the opera community? I have been craving as of late for an emotionally moving musical experience, and I haven’t seen anything like that in months. The last one, might have been when I revisited the glorious Come From Away over Labor Day weekend with my visiting UK friend, Jason, and I cried as I knew I would. I also know, looking forward, that I’ll be getting my fix next weekend when I see the incredible The Band’s Visit make it’s Broadway debut, and I can’t wait. Having seen this beautifully moving piece of musical theater when it was at the Atlantic Theater last season (winning the 2017 Obie Award for Musical Theatre, three Drama Desk Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Musical), I will be so ready to be swept away by seductive voice of Katrina Lenk and the smell of Jasmine floating in the air. But at this moment in time, the craving is strong and I am in need. The musical theater season on Broadway and beyond has yet to really start gathering musical steam, but I do see it approaching. Until than, I am going to venture out of my comfort zone, and try some alternatives. This coming week, I’ll be seeing some ballet (The Red Shoes at New York City Center) and today, I am seeing the World Premiere of the chamber adaptation of the opera (arranged by Mr. Picker, City Opera‘s Composer in Residence), Dolores Claiborne in the very intimate theater A at 59E59 Theaters.
The cast is exceptional, at least as far as I can tell as I am no where near an opera aficionado. Against what first appears to be a bland and generic set, the projected creations by set and projection designer John Farrell, along with lighting designer Susan Roth create a visual feast as backdrop. Each landscape creates mood and environment so well, we are transported easily to each location. The only moment the stage felt trapped within its small boundaries is during the pivotal chase under the eclipsed sun, but the size of the theater beyond that one moment never felt a hinderance. Without the use of mics, these truly gifted opera professionals fill this intimate space with a sound unlike any found in musical theater. I’m not saying it’s better (or worse) than the beauty of a well trained and nuanced Ben Platt or Rachel Bay Jones who break my heart easily and often in the magnificent Dear Evan Hansen, but the operatic sound that these singers can produce is spell bounding.
The Mayor of Motivation interviews Ramon Hervey, Manager & Publicist to the Famous
Ramon Hervey has earned global recognition as a highly regarded entertainment manager, brand consultant & publicist who has represented Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Paul McCartney, the Bee Gees, Muhammad Ali, Caitlyn Jenner, Quincy Jones, Vanessa Williams, The Commodores with Lionel Richie, the Jacksons with Michael Jackson and a whole lot more A Listers. He is the author of the book…The Fame Game: An Insider’s Playbook for Earning Your 15 minutes.
After having invested 4 decades in playing the fame game, Ramon and I sat down to talk on The Motivation Show podcast.
Ramon, why do you call fame a “game” and why did you choose that word for your book title? “Fame is unpredictable, just as are the results in a game. Everyone has failures. You hope to win, but it is not guaranteed. Only .0065% of over 7 billion people in the world are famous. There are a lot of successful people in the world that never become famous. Fame and success don’t come with a warranty.”
What does Ramon feel about luck playing a role in success and fame? “I think there is a certain amount of luck in what I do. A lot of it is timing. Timing is a form of luck.” One example Ramon gives is when Starbucks started to introduce music in it’s cafes. The first one was Ray Charles, who died shortly thereafter, which skyrocketed sales of his music. That sales surge is what Ramon attributed to luck.
The pursuit of fame…is it mostly a positive goal? “Most people don’t know what fame is til they already become famous. A lot of stars change their mind about what they thought fame was going to be. A lot of people don’t like all the baggage that comes with being famous. The lack of privacy. In my time on the planet, it has definitely changed dramatically over the past ten years.” Ramon points to Social Media and it’s impact on more people having an opportunity to become famous in different ways than were available previously.
Why did Richard Pryor, at the height of his fame, attempt suicide & what was the famous incident which almost killed him that he later confessed to as a suicide attempt? “I managed all of Richard’s missteps. He was probably the #1 black entertainer in the world at that time. It’s not my fame. It’s their fame. I think Richard always felt guilty about his fame. He didn’t think he could live up to the level of fame that he achieved. That created an albatross around his neck. It made him rely on more substances to sedate him and calm himself. He reached the point that he did not want to become that person anymore. For the longest time he said that he didn’t (try to commit suicide), he said it was an accident. Richard always found a way to market his vulnerability. All of his comedy focused on all of his missteps. He had shot all four tires on his Mercedes and told his wife during a fight that you are not going to leave in that car. He put that into his comedy. He did it the exact opposite way of what we would advise which would be to put the incidences behind you. I don’t know anyone else that was as successful as him in marketing all of the things he did wrong.”
When asking Ramon about what type of confident personality one has to have to become famous he says, “I do believe you have to have a big ego and a certain amount of self confidence to be successful. Every famous person I met took a different path to get it and they all loss some level of fame at some point.”
Can you give us an example of someone you managed very well? “I am very proud of my relationship with Bette Midler. She helped to blossom my career. I was never her manager, but I was her publicist. I did work in a management capacity…she didn’t have a manager. I have a great appreciation and fondness for her. Also, working with my ex-wife Vanessa Williams on her crisis management. I did not know her at the time she was embroiled in the Miss America controversy. She resigned here title and I am glad she did. We got married and had three kids together and I managed her career. It took ten years for her to get her life back after she resigned from the Miss America pageant where she was just called Vanessa Williams without alluding to any prior controversy.”
In discussing his earlier years, Ramon shares two musical giants that helped shape his career. “In my book, I try to enlighten people about the trajectory of my own fame. My first client I got to work with was Paul McCartney. My initial task was to put together a press kit. That shaped my next 4 or 5 years when I got an opportunity to work with Quincy Jones who is the first client I brought to Rogers & Cowan who I was working with at the time. He was someone I treasured to be in his presence because he had so many great stories and so much great insight.”
Ramon muses in his book about fame, that the more you get, the harder it is to manage. I asked him if there are any other examples like that. “Probably the worst case scenario was Rick James. He had a very troubled childhood. For him, fame meant he put himself above people. He created a lot of bad blood. The way that he treated people. A lot of people did not want him to win. He always had a great fan base, but I think his fame was toxic for him. He self-destructed. He was obsessed with fame and all the hoopla and perks. He loved being the king of everything. He was very demanding. He did not know how to manage his fame.”
In closing, I ask Ramon, what he is most proud of. “I am proud of my reputation. I have never been sued. I’ve always approached business with a great deal of integrity. I’ve always worked really hard. I’ve always tried to be honest with my clients. Authentic and transparent. I think that is much better than being a yes man.”
So when I think of fame, I think of getting the best table in the best restaurants. I think about people idolizing me. I also think about people interrupting my conversation and my meal for photos and autographs. Do I really want that…or do I just want a nice, quiet, peaceful meal. Hmmm…some food for thought. How about you? Do you want to be part of the Fame Game?
You can listen to Eli’s podcast The Motivation Show on any podcast listening app or use this Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/show/3NVmTDAvGbzooN8TCW7tuN. To contact Eli or to have him speak at your event, email email@example.com.
The Glorious Corner
LASSO’S MOM CITY — I believe that the best ever episode of Ted Lasso was dropped this week, entitled Mom City. It started off innocently enough with Ted leaving for work and walking right past his mother! He realized it and turned back to her. Turns out she had been in London for a week and was just now seeing Ted.
Also, Harry Nilsson’s “Puppy Song” was a key musical moment in the EP. Harry, we love you!
SHORT TAKES — The #1 iTunes song currently is Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do with It.” Much deserved … Producer Joel Diamond used to live at 220 Central Park South in NYC. His building was torn down and re-built. It is now part of what they call Billionaire’s Road. WSJ-reporter Katherine Clarke’s new book is about just that.. Via Random House, Billionaire’s Row is out on June 13 …
We dropped the name of new Latino-artist Sasha Prendes last time; we just saw a teaser clip for her new video “Shake This.” Check it out here: https://www.sashaprendes.com/video … Micky Dolenz headlined at this week’s Abbey Road On The River and delivered his usual high-octane performance.
He leaves for England this week for the James Burton & Friends/One Night Only event June 4 at London’s Palladium … Terry Jastrow interviewed by Brad Balfour for his podcast this week …
ENDQUOTE: Via Deadline: The View’s Whoopi Goldberg Claims ‘American Idol’ Led To The Downfall of Society. Ouch! Check it out here: https://deadline.com/2023/05/the-view-cohost-whoopi-goldberg-claims-american-idol-led-to-downfall-society-1235380500/ … Happy Bday Buddy Blanch and Bobby Shaw!
Memorial Day Playlist
As you lay out by the pool, the beach, Central Park or on the sidelines of a parade, T2C offers you music to celebrate and get you in the mood.
Events in June
Gay Pride, Bryant Park Picnic Performances, Movie Nights, Lincoln Center Summer for the City (Midsummer Night Swing), Juneteenth, New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Tribeca Film Festival, Free Outdoor Concerts, Museum Mile Festival, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and that’s just the beginning!
Until September 29 every summer in Times Square, NYC, TSQ LIVE showcases hundreds of artists, performers and cultural producers and this summer 80 free events hosting over a dozen incredible New York-based institutions and collectives, including Pioneer Works, NEW INC, Children’s Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ailey Extension, New York Live Arts, OTA Entertainment, Soul Summit, Rash Bar, and Elsewhere.
6/1: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park New York City Opera: La Bohème
6/2: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Jazzmobile: The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra
6/2: Billy Joel @ MSG
6/3-4: Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit atUniversity Place, starting at East 13th Street and continuing south along the east side of Washington Square Park to West 3rd Street.
6/7 until September: Little Island Tony and Grammy Award winners in The Glade, late night djs, drag bingo, and dance parties in The Play Ground, weekly artmaking activities for all ages and Teen Night every Friday.
6/7 – 18: Tribeca Film Festival will take place movie theatres, rooftops and various venues throughout NYC, such as the new Pier 57, Beacon Theatre, the Angelika. The premiere of Let the Canary Sing with a performance by Cyndi Lauper or The Closing Gala: A Bronx Tale, followed by a conversation with director and star Robert De Niro, producer Jane Rosenthal, and writer and co-star Chazz Palminteri.
6/8 – 8/6: Shakespeare in the Park – Hamlet
6/8: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Robin Dunn, The Lite
6/9: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Dance Heginbotham, Jennifer Muller/The Works
6/9 – 11: @ Citi Field Governors Ball Music Festival – The contemporary music festival for music lovers by music lovers. With 60+ artists of all genres across 4 stages, there is something for everyone, including delicious restaurants, food trucks and menus.
6/9 – 18: River to River Festival The festival takes place in a variety of public venues that canvas all of Downtown New York – from Chambers Street down to the southern tip of Manhattan and across the island from river to river.
6/11: National Puerto Rican Day Parade Fifth Avenue, 44th to 79th Street
6/12: Bryant Park Movie Nights Almost Famous (2000)
6:13: Museum Mile Festival on Fifth Avenue from 84th Street to 109th Street: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Neue Galerie New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; The Jewish Museum; Museum of the City of New York; El Museo del Barrio; and The Africa Center.
6/14 – August: Dancing Under the Stars (formerly Midsummer Night Swing), free outdoor movies, dancing, singing, readings, celebrations, flamingos, disco ball, poetry, Mozart, concerts, crafts, Juneteenth and much more!
6/15: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Terk Lewis + Kayla Farrish
6/16: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Contemporary Dance: Soles of Duende + Josh Johnson
6/17-25: Gay Pride The Rally, The March & Pride Island. The 2023 theme is “Strength in Solidarity” and Christina Aguilera is headlining NYC Pride Island on Sunday, June 25th at Brooklyn Army Terminal. The festivities begin with Family Night and the Rally and culminate with PrideFest & The March. Other events include Pride Island and the annual Dance on the Pier, following the parade wrapping up Pride Week in a grand fireworks display.
6/16 – 18: Juneteenth is a celebration of June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, which declared the ending of slavery in the USA. The three day Juneteenth in NYC festival kicks off Friday with a virtual summit, Friday night is the Celebration of Black Kings, Saturday is Festival Community Day and the festival culminates Sunday with a Parade, Fashion Show, Food trucks Field Day and more. Monday, June 19th, is a national holiday, with government, banks and post offices closed. More Info: Junteenth NY
There are dozens more Juneteenth celebrations throughout all 5 Boroughs, including BBQs, the NYC Parks Department, Seneca Village, Broadway, Lincoln Center, concerts, shows, theater and more.
6/17: The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is the nation’s largest art parade where 3,000+ participants dress in hand-made costumes.
6/ 19: Bryant Park Movie Nights Amistad (1997)
6/23: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Emerging Music Festival: Psymon Spine, THUS LOVE, Katy Kirby
6/24: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Emerging Music Festival: Ky Vöss, Seramic, Miss Grit, Dead Tooth
6/26: Bryant Park Movie Nights Mean Girls (2004)
6/30: Picnic Performances @ Bryant Park Jalopy Theatre: Michael Daves Quartet ft. Tony Trishka, Yacouba Sissoko, Terrell King
6/30: Intrepid Museum Summer Movie Series: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Tovah Feldshuh Joins The American Popular Song Society In Celebration of Marilyn Maye
Tovah Feldshuh – the Tony and Emmy-nominated actress currently starring on Broadway in Funny Girl – will join their “Second Annual Benefit Evening” to honor the legendary Marilyn Maye on Monday, June 12 at 6:00 PM at Theater 555 (555 West 42nd Street). A reception will follow at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street, on the 4th Floor of Yotel). Maye is being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award as she continues to celebrate her 95th Birthday. The event will feature performances by Karen Akers, Klea Blackhurst, Jim Brochu, Charles Busch, Liz Callaway, Len Cariou, Melissa Errico, Debbie Gravitte, Julie Halston, Jeff Harnar, Karen Mason, Susie Mosher, Sidney Myer, Christine Pedi, Lee Roy Reams, Jamie de Roy, Catherine Russell, Gabrielle Stravelli, Sandy Stewart with Bill Charlap, Stacy Sullivan, Mark William, and another surprise. The event will be hosted by Michael Lavine, who also serves as music director. For tickets, please visit www.apssinc.org/gala2023.html
The organization also proudly announces the new Educational Workshop giving kids a fun, hands-on learning experience about the music that’s been America’s gift to the world since the turn of the last century. The series will begin with All About Songwriting, headed by APSS Board member, esteemed songwriter Tom Toce who, along with some of today’s best new songwriters, will give kids a window into what it takes to create a song like a Max Martin, Taylor Swift, Billy Eilish, to name a few.
The American Popular Song Society was established in 1980 as The New York Sheet Music Society It began with a small but dedicated group of collectors, who, through the courtesy of the late Sammy Cahn, president of the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, met at One Times Square to exchange sheet music and stories about songwriters, singers, and songs. Now a thriving non-profit corporation, the Society has over 400 members spread across the nation. From the start, NYSMS meetings were lively affairs, and they continue to be. Celebrity drop-ins quickly became one of the Society’s attractions. Many of America’s great songwriters have discussed their careers, their collaborators, and their work methods. To hear them perform their hits and tell the stories behind the songs is spellbinding. These exciting programs are preserved on videotape in the archives.
United in a commitment to American popular song, the members represent every aspect of the music business: writing songs, publishing, promoting, and performing them and preserving both the song sheets and the history that goes with them. The Society is proud to count among their members authorities on film and show music, ragtime, ethnic songs, nineteenth century and World War I songs; and just about any category you can name. From a mere handful of collectors at the start, the organization has swelled its ranks to an enthusiastic and ever-growing membership from all over the continent.
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