It’s always a possibly awkward situation when a Broadway-stalwart drops an album. Even before reviewing it, I wonder if it’ll be all Broadway-oriented material or something completely new for them. Ben Platt’s debut album was good, but not great. It certainly showed he had his ear on what’s going on, but his quick-rise to fame in Dear Evan Hansen I think clouded people’s opinion. Half expected more Broadway-stuff and the other expected and wanted something different. Released on Atlantic, there was a major push and kit was a hit.
Idina Menzel’s done at least five album that I know of and her last album, Idina, was given an interesting take via the All-Music site: “Menzel is able to craft a sound that’s expansive enough to resonate with fans of her stage work while adding a bit of a modern age,” particularly drawing attention to “Queen of Swords”, “Cake”, and “I Do” tracks on the album.
Broadway journeyman Donnie Kehr (Billy Elliot; Jersey Boys; AIDA; The Who’s TOMMY) was in a hard-core rock/pop outfit Urgent (1984-1987) back in the day; recording two albums (Cast The First Stone and Thinking Out Loud) for the long-gone, much missed EMI Records. They even had a single “Running Back” that popped on the Billboard charts. The self-taught piano-man is a master of several different genres and his solo album Beautiful Strange – original dropped in January as a download and now available as a CD – is a fascinating portrait of a true artist.
The title track is simply exquisite. Thought provoking lyrically and musically quite beautiful; it’s the type of track that can quickly describe Kehr’s artist oeuvre. “Over You” is a die-hard rocker showing Kehr’s lessons learned from Urgent still remain. It’s a dynamite track that works on not only classic rock radio, but contemporary outlets as well. Perfect for SiriusXM.
“Marseille Café” is another gem. Quiet, but deeply felt. Written by Kehr and Ted Baker, its an absolutely stunning track.
“Give Me A Sign” and “Feels Like Love” are pure pop-classics. Both tracks have all the ingredients for a major, major hit.
Kehr’s “New York City Strong” was written as a bold statement on New York City’s resurrection and the lyrics take on a special meaning for sure.
Kehr is the driving force behind the PATH Fund, which yearly present the stunning Rockers On Broadway show – the next one is Monday, October 16.
Produce by Kehr (with vocal contributions from Sam Behr and Tituss Burgess) I can definitely say that if the album gets promoted correctly and the right people hear it, it’ll be a huge win.
On ROB Records/Jazzheads.
STRIKE UPDATE — As we went to press on Sunday, a tentative agreement had been worked out between the AMPTPand the WGA. Of course, it now has to be ratified. Per TV Line: Once the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed on the Writer’s Guild of American’s tentative new deal with the AMPTP, the words “Live, from New York!” might symbolically signal the end of the WGA strike, which spanned a near-historic 146 days.
“We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement),” the WGA posted in a message to its members late Sunday night, “which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language.” The tentative deal now needs to be “papered,” and formally recommended by the WGA negotiating committee to the WGA Board and Council for approval, and then ratified by WGA membership — a process that could take up to two weeks.
The actor’s strike persists and from our sources we hear it’s still a tough go. But not to minimize anything, this is a step in the right direction.
McCALLUM PASSES AT 90 – David McCallum -along with Robert Vaughn- were two of the coolest dudes on TV, ever. Vaughn passed in 2016 and McCallum passed on Monday. Starring as Illya Kuryakin, he literally electrified the screen. I’m an Man From U.N.C.L.E. fan, always have been and per Jon Heitland’s terrific The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Book: Behind the Scenes Story of a Televison Classic (1987) it turns out that McCallum was literally the key to its success. Not only did he become quite the chick magnet, but viewers just loved the character.
McCallum was also ‘Ducky’ on CBS’ NCIS and certainly was their secret weapon too. His character was everyone’s uncle (no pun intended) and possessed a rather quixotic, yet mesmerizing ambiance on the show. Part-doctor, part-therapist, part spy.
Michael Weatherly, also on the show for its greatest years, said “He made every second count.”
I’ll never forget the episode (Meat Puzzle in 2005) when Kate asked Gibbs what Ducky would have looked like as a younger man. Gibbs answers Illya Kuryakin, too funny.
Actually, with Harmon long-gone from his role on NCIS, McCallum, in my opinion, was the glue that still held it together. Huge loss for sure.
Here’s a great look at McCallum’s storied career from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2023/09/david-mccallum-dead-ncis-actor-1235555770/
SHORT TAKES — I don’t know Robert Menendez, but with wild tales of cash stuffed in envelopes in jackets; gold bars; and kickbacks; it sounds like he’s had a pretty interesting run. As more than one has said, where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire. And there does seem to be a lot of smoke … Congratulations to Andrew Sandoval on his marriage to Natasha Rubin …
On Tuesday, September 26, WBGO Studios launched As We Speak, a new podcast hosted by David Sanborn, who interviews major figures in the world of jazz. Kicking off the series are episodes with vocalists Kurt Elling and Cecile McLorin Salvant. Future guests include Sonny Rollins, Terri Lyne Carrington, John McLaughlin and Maria Schneider. The award-winning and influential saxophonist shows his interviewing chops with in-depth conversations with his fellow artists about their creative process and their singular journey in jazz …
Micky Dolenz was interviewed by Mojo Magazine’s Ian Harrison from the U.K. Tuesday and heads to Houston Thursday for the Days of the Dead comic-con (https://www.daysofthedead.com/houston/) in Houston …
Look for keyboard-man Benny Harrison to debut his forthcoming solo album Pages at the Bitter End. Harrison is interviewed for Medium today … Could The Office return to TV? Per items on Tuesday, a re-boot is almost guaranteed …
Netflix is sending their last ever DVDs out this week in those red envelopes. The service ran for 25 years! My, we’ve come a long way … It looks like Robert DeNiro will not be playing off his scenes in Taxi Driver for his new Uber commercial after all. Take a read: https://deadline.com/2023/09/taxi-driver-commercial-featuring-robert-de-niro-draws-comment-from-paul-schrader-1235554798/… (Via Deadline) For the love of Maddie Hayes, look what’s coming to Hulu: Moonlighting. For the very first time, all 67 episodes of Moonlighting will be available to stream on the platform beginning October 10. Hulupromises that each episode of the 1980’s comedy starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd has been remastered in HD from the original film source. It even will feature the original Grammy-nominated title track recording from Al Jarreau … Happy Bday Melissa Davis.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Bob Merlis; Brad LeBeau; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Jodi Ritzen; Dylan Ritzen; Jane Blunkell; Glenn Gretlund; Ian Harrison; Bert Schneider; Jason Elzy; Les Schwartz; Duane Blitzer; Jean Psaki; Chris Hayes; Randy Alexander; Lee Jeske; Chuck Pulin; Race Taylor; Tyrone Biljan; Robert Funaro; and CHIP!
SUNDAY DEADLINE — As we go to press, the AMPTP has submitted it’s last, best offer to the WGAto resolve this strike; now heading into 145+ days. Strikes are meant to be settled, but the damage may have already been too much. Governor Gavin Newsom estimates a 5 billion dollar take-down for Hollywood and the state in general. As we mentioned last time, thousands of below-the-line workers have already been let go or furloughed during the strike and even if it is resolved by later-today, it will take a full 10-12 weeks for everything to be up and running again. By my count, that’s mid-December. Stay tuned … it can only get better.
WAKEMAN’S OPUS —(via Prog) Rick Wakeman has announced that he has released a massive 32-disc box set entitled The Prog Years 1973-1977, which features his studio albums from 1973’s The Six Wives Of Henry VIII through to 1976’s No Earthly Connection, plus his film soundtracks for 1975’s Lisztomania and 1977’s White Rock. You can watch a video trailer for the box set here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nER9BgLka1w
Each album is represented by four discs, either CD or DVD, featuring the original album plus rare live material, demos, alternative mixes and live film footage all from the era. These include live performances of Six Wives… and Journey To The Centre Of The Earth from Melbourne, a DVD of The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table performed on ice at Wembley, the full films of both. Lisztomania and White Rock, and more.
The Prog Years 1973-1977 also features a 60-page hardback scrapbook, 10 x postcards, 8 x full-size replica promotional photos and 4 x A3 posters, plus reproduction press kits for the relevant albums. The first 500 copies of this extremely limited box set will also come with a numbered certificate signed by Rick himself.
He may wear the cape and be a bit old school, but Rick Wakeman is the real deal. He rocked Yes and his solo albums were simply terrific. When Yes did The Apollo several years back, when Wakeman left the stage and went up and down the aisles with his keyboard strapped on, there was sheer joy. He’s amazing. Bravo!
SHORT TAKES — Robert DeNiro shilling for Uber? That’s what a divorce does to you. Actually, it should be great commercial, although it was filmed in London as opposed to NYC, which is odd. Taxi Driver writer Paul Schrader was quoted in Deadline as saying: “Ouch,” he wrote. “Why Bob would do this is beyond my reckoning. But I haven’t seen it. If I’m lucky I never will” I’m sure he asked Driver-director Marty Scorsese …
Micky Dolenz’s SRO show Friday night in LA (at the ACE Theatre)
was sensational and he debuted the live version of his new single, R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People.” Seen at the show were Randy Lewis; Roy Trakin; Tyrone Biljan; Ken Sharp and Nederlander’s Lisa White …
On Friday’s Today Show, Savannah Guthrie interviewed someone who told you how to pack during a move, quickly. They said to put all personal items in a lock box with a label saying to be moved by owner only. Savannah quipped that all the personal items in your nightstand belong there begging the question, what does she have in hers? … A report on NY1 about the ongoing migrant crisis in NYC called The Roosevelt Hotel – where the migrants have been housed – the new Ellis Island … Say what you will about NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s been a key area in NYC for decades.
For me, when the Film Center Cafe disappeared, it was a tragedy. And, remember the fabulous restaurant Memphis? Here’s a great look into images from there: https://w42st.com/post/hells-kitchen-photographers-karla-james-murray-book-vanishing-mom-and-pop-stores/?utm_medium=email … George Clooney selling his Lake Como retreat he’s had for 21 years? Could go for 100 million … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor at Shalom Japan in Williamsburg Sunday night … Usher headlining Super Bowl 2024? Wonder where that choice came from as he hasn’t had a hit in 20 years …
Watched Jean Psaki on MSNBC Sunday. She didn’t bowl me over, but was good. She had stories on Rupert Murdoch and FOX and an interview with Hillary Clinton, who bashed Trump and Putin again … and HAPPY BDAY Mark Bego and Cory Robbins!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Sara Gore; Andrew Sandoval; Pat Prince; Mark Bego; Jim Clash; Cynthia Rowley; Barry Zelman; Christopher Gilman; Barry Manilow; Joel Diamond; Nancy Ruth; Teresa Knox; Gary Gershoff; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Tony King; Donnie Kehr; Kimberly Cornell; Lush Ice; Barry Fisch; Eppy; and BELLA!
Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night Live In Times Square
For the 17th year, the Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night will be transmitted live to numerous large screens on Tuesday, September 26th at 6:00pm in Times Square on Duffy Square (between 46th and 47th Streets). This year it will feature Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking starring Joyce DiDonato and Ryan McKinny in a new production by Ivo van Hove conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
A 17-year tradition continues as the Met once again partners with the Times Square Alliance to present a free, live transmission of the season-opening opera to the iconic screens of Times Square. This year’s simulcast of Dead Man Walking is Tuesday, September 26; house opens at 5:30 p.m.; pre-show begins at 6:00 p.m.; and the opera begins at 6:30 p.m. Attendance is free, and no tickets are required. There will be 2,000 seats available on a first-come, first-served basis at Duffy Square (between 46th and 47th Streets) and the Broadway plazas between 43rd and 44th streets and 46th and 47th Streets with additional standing room available.
The participating screens in Times Square include ABC SuperSign; American Eagle Times Square; Branded Cities’ NASDAQ Tower; and EXPRESS Times Square. The live transmission to Times Square is made possible with the cooperation of the City of New York and the Times Square Alliance, with leadership support provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir about her fight for the soul of a condemned murderer, Dead Man Walking matches the high drama of its subject with Heggie’s beautiful and poignant music.
STRIKE END LOOMS — (Via Showbiz 411/Roger Friedman) All the studio chiefs met Wedneday with the Writers Guild and will continue negotiating tomorrow, according to a WGA post.
The sudden seriousness of the studios is welcomed as the deadline looms for the 2023-24 TV season. If the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes aren’t resolved by early October, my sources say it will be impossible to put on a season.
Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Disney’s Bob Iger, Universal’s Donna Langley and Warner Bros Discovery’s David Zaslav were present today for the negotiations, a sure sign that the studios are finally in panic mode.
There are no daytime or nighttime talk shows, no new material on TV, and actors can’t promote the fall and winter movies. The actors have already missed the Telluride, Venice, and Toronto Film Festivals. Now the New York Film Festival looms, as does the premiere of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
The so-called Fall TV Season has been decimated; the Emmy’s pushed back and just general chaos everywhere. The severity of the strike -142 days in- has hurt almost-every-single below-the-line sector, from caterers to limo drivers to costume houses. It’s reported that it will take up to 10-12 weeks to fully resume everything. That means early-November and let’s not forget come Thanksgiving, the holiday season officially starts. Stay tuned.
LOVE, BURT AT THE CUTTING ROOM — Monday night at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room was the presentation of Love, Burt – celebrating the majesty and memory of Burt Bacharach’s music.
The show really moved me and reminded me of the reason I do what … the music!
The show was just sumptuous – with the assembled group -led by Mike Visceglia- honoring and doing proper justice to a host of Bacharach songs – everything from “Baby, It’s You” to “One Less Bell To Answer,” The Look Of Love” and “Alfie” were all dutifully done. Especially poignant was their rendition of “A House Is Not A Home.”
The fact of the matter is that when these songs were recorded, they were embedded into everyone’s consciousness. These versions were good, but the originals remain standout. You hear a lot about the Great American Songbook, but these songs are the “new” Great American Songbook. Just luscious.
They ended the show was one of my favorite-Bacharach songs, from the 1988 album Burt recorded with Elvis Costello, Painted From Memory. One of the album’s strongest cuts is “God Give Me Strength.” It was simply sensational. Spotted there were Benny Harrison and Maria Milito from Q1043.
The room was packed like never before; what a night!
SHORT TAKES — Micky Dolenz headlines the ACE Theatre Friday night in LA, and was a guest on KTLA Wednesday. Here’s a shot of him on-set with Sam Rubin who interviewed him with the KTLA-gang. Sam’s the second from left. Industry stalwarts at the ACE Theatre show include legendary-LA Times writer Randy Lewis; LA Magazine’sRoy Trakin and Goldmine’s Ken Sharp … Roger Friedman reported Wednesday that the pre-sales of Jann Wenner’s upcoming book Masters have been severely impacted by his New York Times interview. Take a read here: https://www.showbiz411.com/2023/09/20/jann-wenners-new-book-the-masters-drops-in-pre-sales-run-on-amazon-almost-off-the-top-2000-after-scandal-erupts And just last night his big presentation at NYC’s 92nd Y with Cameron Crowe was shuttered as well … SIGHTING: Alison Martino at NYC’s Algonquin Hotel …
When Apple TV’s The Morning Show debuted years ago (November 2019), created and run by Kerry Ehrin, it was a first-rate series certainly of The Sopranos-like and Mad Men-like caliber. Billy Crudup was astonishingly good as were Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. The second season was basically trash. Three episodes in on a third season -with a 4th already guaranteed- it’s kind of a mixed-bag. I did not care for the first two EPs, but the third was bordering on the edge of greatness – and Witherspoon wasn’t even in this one and there was no explanation why. Jon Hamm has joined the cast as sort of an Elon Musk-figure. To me, he’s still Don Draper, just with an updated wardrobe. Most of the production staff has been replaced and it seemed to me, they’re still finding their way. The trouble is, that with these 8 or so episode-runs, it gets really good at episode 6. Go figure …
Rupert Murdoch to retire per CNBC? More on this next column … Meg Ryan and David Duchovny in What Happens Later – looks cute and Ryan directed it – check out the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqTZqSglhZo … RIP Roger Whitaker
and Happy Bday David McCallum; Curtis Urbina; and Bill Murray!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Glenn Gretlund; Jodi Ritzen; Leonard Nimoy; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Scott Shannon; Zach Martin; Michelle Grant; Art Rutter; Maria Milito; Joe Lynch; Melinda Newman; Mandy Naylor; Kimberly Cornell; Sam Rudin; Jim Clash; Terry Jastrow; Randy Alexander; Bob Merlis; Andrew Sandoval; Art Rutter; and CHIP!
Beatles Brunch at City Winery Where Strawberry Fields Lives Forever
I was taken to City Winery by Eli Marcus for the Beatles Brunch with Strawberry Fields.
This show plays every Sunday with an unlimited brunch buffet that includes coffee, tea and juice, starting at noon. A bottomless brunch cocktail package is also available and children get in free. Here tourists mingle with New Yorkers, eating scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, dried out French toast, spicy potatoes with onions and peppers, perfectly done chicken, salad and fresh fruit. What is so nice, is that everyone seems happy to to be here, to see and hear the Fab Four.
The show starts off without fan fare. The lights dim and four men enter, not quite looking like the originals. Tony Garofalo (John Lennon), Billy J. Ray (Paul McCartney), Ira Siegel (George Harrison), and Michael Bellusci (Ringo Starr) and their costumes and wigs have seen better days. Then the music starts. You can watch one of our video’s here.
From the early hits like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Ticket To Ride” “Eight Days A Week” and more the first act is nostalgia at it’s best. It was adorable to watch the audience, especially the young ones “Twist and Shout.”
After a break in came the Sergeant Pepper era, clothing and all. From that we got “Nowhere Man,” “My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “When I’m 64,” “Penny Lane” and songs that dig into your soul. They are done well and the Beatles live again. You can see our video here.
Then the later songs like “I Am The Walrus” and “Don’t Let Me Down” end a show that is almost two hour long of music, that is classic. I have to admit I wanted to hear “Blackbird” and “Norwegian Wood,” but what you get is a well rounded assortment of those songs that shaped several era’s.
Ira Siegel stands out with his guitar playing that is out of this world. I really loved all the songs he sang as well.
Michael Bellusci, gives Ringo a run for his money on the drums.
Tony Garofalo is the founder, creator and producer playing rhythm and lead guitar and singing lead vocals along with Alan LeBoeuf from the original Beatlemania playing bass guitar. Ray looks the most like the Beatle he is playing.
Strawberry Fields has been covering The Beatles for over three decades. They used to have a residency at B.B. Kings, but these days their home base is City Winery and it is definitely a great way to spend a Sunday. All four are consummate musicians and obviously have a love for what they do and that rubs off on their audience.
For a souvenir up a City Winery Strawberry Fields Rose Wine and have it signed by the cast. With its is its strawberry pink color, you get a combination of kiwi, watermelon and the taste of strawberry that lingers.
City Winery is right next to Little Island, Chelsea Market, The Highline, the Meatpacking district, Chelsea, and West Village. Everything is nearby to make a perfect outing for the whole day and this is one brunch where you definitely get your money’s worth. Click HERE for tickets
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