This month, legendary playwright, singer, editor and translator and Theatre Hall of Fame inductee Eric Bentley turned 99 years old. In celebration of this milestone and a century of his contributions to the international theatre world, a special one night-only birthday celebration has been announced: A Centennial Tribute Concert” will take place on December 7, 2015 at 8:00 PM.
Eric Bentley was born in England in 1916, became an American citizen in 1948, and was inducted into the (American) Theater Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2011 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him their Gold Medal for his contribution to belles lettres. He had a long and distinguished career as playwright, translator, critic, and performing artist. Bentley also taught at leading universities, giving the Christian Gauss Lectures at Princeton and the Norton Lectures at Harvard. He became Brander Matthews Professor of Dramatic Literature at Columbia. Three volumes of his plays were published as Rallying Cries, Monstrous Martyrdoms, and The Kleist Variations, and Broadway Play Publishing Inc. recently published four Bentley titles: Round One, Round Two, A Time to Die & A Time to Live, and The Sternheim Trilogy. At least two of his many critical studies are now classics; The Playwright As Thinker and The Life of the Drama. In “The Brecht Memoir,” appended to his book, Bentley On Brecht, he details his personal association with Bertolt Brecht. The latter’s chief translator and interpreter in the English-speaking world, Mr. Bentley is also editor of the Grove Press’s Brecht edition.
MORNING GLORY — (Via Deadline) Jennifer Aniston is teasing the new season of The Morning Show ahead of its Apple TV+ premiere this fall.
The Friends alum plays a morning show anchor named Alex Levy on the Jay Carson-created drama and is opening up about what to expect in Season 3.
“It’s a good, juicy one,” Aniston told People. “Everybody’s getting in trouble. Everybody has a secret. And everyone’s just walking the line. It’s a lot more sensual this year.”
Aniston shares the screen with Reese Witherspoon and they both executive produce the series. With Season 3 not even airing yet, the stars have already secured a fourth season When the show returns this fall to the streamer, it’ll pick up right after Season 2 ended and as the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the fictional network UBA.
While making an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this year, Aniston teased the new season of The Morning Show and talked about Jon Hamm joining the show.
“Everybody has a secret. We’re revealing a lot of secrets. There’s definitely romance,” Aniston said. “Mr. Jon Hamm is a big one. We were very excited to get him. Isn’t he the nicest guy? He’s this very handsome leading man and then he’s got this funny and… it’s just so fabulous.”
The cast of the show also includes Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Néstor Carbonell, Karen Pittman, Bel Powley, Desean Terry, Nicole Beharie, and many more. Steve Carell was also part of the show in its two first seasons.
Season 1 of the show was just sensational with Steve Carrel turning in a great performance. Season 2 was rather awful and because of that I was surprised it was even renewed at all. Aniston and Witherspoon are fantastic; terrific chemistry, but the real stars, at least for me, are Billy Crudup and Mark Duplass. Somehow, Crudup’s character was not given the same attention in Season 2 and that was a huge mistake IMO.
I’m a big Jon Hamm fan as well, so, I’m ready. Bring it on.
SHORT TAKES — Micky Dolenz performed “I’m A Believer,” “Randy Scouse Git” and “Daydream Believer” at last weekend’s James Burton and Friends in London at the Palladium. Also there: Brian May; Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter; Ronnie Wood; and Albert Lee. Here’s Wood and Dolenz …
Broadway’s Donnie Kehr delivered a superb show Sunday night at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room in NYC. He performed his current album Beautiful Strange in its entirety. With a top-notch band, it was just sensational. Seen there were: Cori Gardner; Benny Harrison; the China Club’s Danny Fried with daughter Gabriella and Lou Christie. Kehr’s pr-man David Salidor was also on hand. Kehr and his band even performed “Running Back” which was a hit 35 years ago when Kehr was in a rock-ensemble called Urgent. Stellar night …
Jann Klose was at Philadelphia’s Sellersville Theater a week back and Annie Haslam (Renaissance) was on for several songs. His new album Surrender is out and just an excellent work … The long-awaited movie The Flash is out next week and the first reviews are in and they’re sensational. Even Deadline’s moribund Pete Hammond, whose reviews are usually a snore-and-a-bore loved it. He event cited Michael Keaton’s return as Batman as brilliant. Check it out here: https://deadline.com/2023/06/the-flash-review-ezra-miller-michael-keaton-in-brilliant-return-batman-1235409735/ …
I hear there’s a new Project Grand Slam album out? One of Robert Miller’s former PR-persons (and there have been many) tipped us off about it. Congrats Mr. Miller … HBO, in their infinite wisdom, just cancelled Perry Mason after two seasons. Sad, but not surprising as it was a terrific show that had not only great writing, but great acting. Matthew Rhys and Juliet Rylance were sensational. Their second season was definitely harder to get through than their debut season, but still well written and performed. Sad … NBC’s Carson Daly just previewed what Spotify believes could be the songs of the summer. Taylor Swift; Jack Harlow; Rema with Selena Gomez were all picks; the only thing is, they all sounded the same … CNN’s Chris Licht – supposedly the savior to the network’s failing fortunes was fired Wednesday by David Zaslav after a disastrous article in The Atlantic. From our spies at CNN, this was no surprise and a most welcomed development. Zaz The Butcher should bring Jeff Zucker back …
Comic-legend Pat Cooper passed yesterday. Anthony Pomes from Square One Publishing said: “Pat was a mighty American comedy legend. He was brash, brave, and fearlessly original in his presentation of all his life’s truths. We (Square One) feel honored to have published his memoir. Having accompanied Pat to several shows and such for PR and to sell his book, I came to see the pussycat behind the scowly owl front. If he yelled at you, that meant that he LIKED you. Godspeed, Mr. Caputo – you were a great one” … And, RIP George Winston and Astrud Gilberto.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Tony Sachs; Barry Fisch; Eppy; Peter Shendell; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Lush Ice; Joe Cocker; Kent Denmark; Kim Garner; Elizabeth Warner; Andrew Sandoval; Jason Elzy; Irving Azoff; Anthony Pomes; Anthony Noto; Robert Funaro; Joel Diamond; Vinny Rich; Benny Harrison; The Smith; Sasha Prendes; and ZIGGY!
Living The High Life With Joel Diamond
Katherine Clarke, writer for the Wall Street Journal, is celebrating her new book release Billionaire’s Row (Random House) with both a book signing and private cocktail party on June 12. She describes how the block-long row of buildings on Central Park South have become the most desired –and among the most expensive – homes in NYC, not to mention the entire country. Even Beyonce and Jay Z had to take second position just last week to the “most expensive real estate sale in United States history” – the Penthouse in 220 Central Park South, last year selling for $238 million.
Attending her book launch private cocktail party, amongst many hugely successful entrepreneurs, will be multi-platinum & 2x Grammy Nominee writer/producer, Joel Diamond, who enjoyed 20 years living in the Penthouse at 220 Central Park South, with full time houseman and cook. His downstairs neighbors included Don Hewitt (creator and producer of 60 Minutes) and Charles Strouse (Broadway show “Annie”). Another downstairs neighbor was an angel/investor for Broadway shows and would always use Diamond as a sounding board for the music, playing him cassettes from the backer’s auditions. First came La Cage aux Folles and when Diamond heard “I Am What I Am”, he immediately called Gloria Gaynor telling her that he was going to produce her next biggest hit record since “I Will Survive”, and sure enough it became a huge international success both on radio and the clubs and is officially today known as the official “Gay Anthem” around the world. The next song from a cassette backer’s audition tape that Diamond was to cherry-pick from was “One Night In Bangkok” from the Broadway show “Chess.” He immediately recruited super Zoli model Robey to perform it and again became a huge hit all over the world. Both recordings were released on Diamond’s Silver Blue Records. Just by coincidence, several years ago Jay Z recorded a Diamond owned copyright for his multi-million selling “The Black Album.”
Just in the next building to the east side lived Beats mogul Jimmy Iovine and in the penthouse in the next building to the west side was Candice Bergen – who Diamond had a crush on and once left a dozen roses with her doorman asking her for a date.
It was also during this time that Joel Diamond was hired (and mentored) by Clive Davis to head up Sony Music/April Blackwood, at which time he negotiated mogul David Geffen’s first million-dollar deal for Laura Nyro and also hired a then unknown and now legendary Tommy Mottola as has his assistant.
He was also visited in the Penthouse by the “once respected” Harvey Weinstein, who personally cast Diamond to co-star with Ruben Blades in his Miramax feature film “Crossover Dreams.” Many other luminaries, friends and family would marvel at the sumptuous views of Central Park, huge terraces on all four sides, elevator opening right into the entire top floor of the building, and the quirky mail drop shoot right inside the apartment, including the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr., Buddy Rich, Roy Orbison, Marvin Hamlisch, Joe Pesci, Robert Redford, Steve Lawrence, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne with Britt Ekland, Regis Philbin, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lily Tomlin, Mama Cass, among many others.
Diamond’s Penthouse was not only the trendy and chic place to be for his legendary New Years Eve parties, but also included the signing of David Hasselhoff (kicking off his enormous German success produced by Diamond) and the creation of the actual #1 hit song Diamond produced for Engelbert Humperdinck (in addition to 109 additional Humperdinck recordings), “After The Lovin’.”
Since that time, Joel Diamond has produced over 100 charted Billboard records and 47 Gold & Platinum recordings and was also signed personally by Casablanca Records (alongside The Village People and Donna Summer) president Neil Bogart as an artist on the label, following his own previous album on Sony Records. Diamond also produced Benny Mardones, who broke all Billboard records by having been the only artist ever to chart five times with the same song and still is in the top 25 most played rock records “Into The Night.” Just last year Diamond’s offer to sign the mysterious homeless subway opera singer, Emily Zamourka, went viral across the US and the world. Classical music was not new to Diamond who discovered, produced and managed the amazing Five Browns, consisting of five Julliard siblings all performing together at the same time on five Steinway grand pianos – scoring 3 consecutive #1 albums on the Billboard Classical Chart (even knocking Yo-Yo Ma out of #1).
Diamond says, “As I look back over my 50-year journey starting as a high school nerd from Passaic, NJ and singing at Weddings & Bar Mitzvahs, to my exciting 20 years in the Penthouse including being anointed Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Bachelor of the Month” and receiving literally thousands of letters, I am still going full blast living in my Calabasas, CA estate. It amazes even me that I still have the same energy, childlike enthusiasm (“Nobody has ever accused me of being mature”) and laser focus as I had 30 years ago and now ready to launch several new artists.”
MAISEL ENDS — In a season of major, major finales, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ended with just a stunningly good episode that tied up most of the loose ends from previous seasons and gave us a final, tragic look at Lenny Bruce as played by Luke Kirby.
Bruce was an acquired taste for sure. I well remember the fist time I heard him, I couldn’t quite believe it. Kirby had him down pat; so much in this final episode, as Bruce was beleaguered with legal troubles and his drug addiction was nearing an end. It ultimately killed him and his act back then essentially consisted of him reading from his lawsuits. It wasn’t funny at all, but sad and tragic.
CYNTHIA WEILL RIP — Cynthia Weill, who wrote with husband Barry Mann and Phil Spector “You Lost The Lovin’ Feeling” for the Righteous Bothers in 1964, has passed. She also wrote “Shades Of Gray” for The Monkees’ Headquartersalbum in 1967. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9ZxRjItD1o
SHORT TAKES — Criminal Intent revival? Vincent D’Onofrio has been bantering about on twitter. Great idea. It was always one of my favorites. Note to Dick Wolff : Chris Noth should return … Here’s Micky Dolenz with Queen’s Brain May on rehearsal day for the James Burton event in the U.K. … Terrific report from Roger Friedman in his Showbiz 411 column about the Queen-catalog. He’s absolutely on point -as always – check it out here: https://www.showbiz411.com/2023/06/02/queen-1-billion-catalog-deal-very-possible-says-expert-freddie-mercurys-heirs-like-mary-austin-and-band-members-could-become-very-very-rich…
In 1995, Cher did a version of of Marc Cohn’s brilliant “Walking In Memphis” for Warners. It was included on an album called It’s A Man’s World and was right before her huge hit “Believe.” Take a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOJTKpzqk6M
SO LONG, FAREWELL — I’ve been a TV-guy for decades; from Mary Tyler Moore; MASH; The X-Files and Seinfeld on down; I’ve seen great shows fall low with just terribly written finales, but the final-Ted Lasso episode this week was nothing short of brilliant. The acting, the writing, the joie de vivre off the charts.
Joie de vivre literally translates into the joy of living and the three seasons of Ted Lasso were all just sensational in every way. Sure, there were some standout episodes (Beard After Hours), but Jason Sudeikis and gang were always just wonderful. Some pundits said that this third season ran off the rails a bit, but this last episode neatly tied them all up. And I’d be remiss in not mentioning the brilliant music that accompanied each and every episode; from The Monkees’ “Sometime In The Morning” to the new Ed Sheeran record which debuted in this last episode. Just so neatly done.
I’ll tell you what I really liked from the get-go was the fact that this episode began after Ted clearly told Rebecca he was going home in the last episode. The fact that they didn’t show it, made it a lot easier to digest. Hannah Waddingham is a star and she had her moment with Ted, in the seats, asking him one more time to stay.
She’s going to be as huge star, so get ready to see a lot more of her.
Brett Goldstein too (Roy Kent) was just tremendous. He’s huge already!
Roy Kent became the new coach of AFC Richmond with Nate as an able assistant. Ted Crimm (James Lance) finished his book originally titled The Lasso Way, but Ted after reading it and loving it, wanted a new title. Hence, The Richmond Way.
Just a great episode; a tad longer at 76-minutes, but richly written and acted. I am going to miss this show tremendously.
Utterly brilliant in every way.
MILLI VANILLI — (Via Deadline) A feature doc about controversial pop group Milli Vanilli has been picked up by Paramount +.
The eponymous doc, which tells the story of the duo who were forced to return their Grammy Award for Best New Artist after it was revealed that they didn’t sing on any of their records, is premiering at the Tribeca Festival.
The streamer will launch the doc in the U.S. as well as in Canada, the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Produced by MRC and MTV Entertainment Studios, Milli Vanilli tells the story of Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, who became fast friends during their youth in Germany. With Rob coming from a broken home and Fabrice having left an abusive household, they shared a similar upbringing, as well as a future goal: to become famous superstars. In a few short years, their dreams came true. Their first album went platinum six times in 1989, and their hit Girl You Know It’s True sold over 30 million singles worldwide. Rob and Fab became the world’s most popular pop duo in 1990. However, their ascension to success came with a devastating price that ultimately led to their infamous undoing.
“For over 30 years, the story of Milli Vanilli – in particular Rob and Fab – has been reduced to sensational headlines,” said director Luke Korem. “With this documentary, we pull back the curtain on pop music. Featuring interviews with the real singers, record executives, the producer mastermind behind the deception and exclusive interviews with Rob and Fab, we unveil the truth of this complex, exciting and dramatic story. I’m thrilled that Paramount+ shares our vision and will bring this film to audiences around the world.”
“Finally – the true story of Milli Vanilli has been told,” added Fabrice Morvan. “I’m thankful Luke Korem and his team went to the lengths that they did. The journey I returned to during the filming of this documentary didn’t leave any stone unturned. At last I can close this chapter in peace… Get ready to take a walk in our steel-toe boots.”
SHORT TAKES — Nomad’s Flatiron Building looks to be turned into a residential house. Not a bad idea at all. Great address (175 Fifth) and a great location … Brian Lowry, who used to cover TV for Variety, now is at CNN. Great writer and he did a fantastic book on The X-Files years back. Congrats …
Donnie Kehr at Steve Walter’s CuttingRoom Sunday performing his Beautiful Strange album live … As you can well imagine, the reviews for Succession’s finale were just tremendous; both pro and con for certain, The Washington Post ran an interesting piece on the show as well; from a more medical-point of view. I loved it; take a look: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/05/30/succession-wealth-family-life-psychologists/ …
Daryl Easlea: a brilliant writer from the U.K. has a book coming out on Slade entitled Whatever Happened To Slade?Remember them?
Here’s the cover … To close this year’s Tribeca Festival, there will be a special 30th anniversary screening of the film, A Bronx Tale, Saturday, June 17. After the film, Robert DeNiro (who directed the movie), Jane Rosenthal, and Chazz Palminteri will participate in a live conversation with David Remmick, editor of the New Yorker. Definitely one of the major highlights of this year’s fete … (Via Showbiz 411):
Billy Joel is wrapping it up. The Piano Man will end his record-breaking run at Madison Square Garden in July 2024. It will be his 150th monthly show. The whole run has been an incredible success, allowing Billy to stay mostly close to him and bring all his fans to him. At times, he’s strayed to other cities and countries, but every month like clockwork he’s been at the Garden playing his hits to very happy fans. The sold out residency began back in 2014, believe it or not. Billy has outlasted dozens of Broadway shows, some mayors, governors, presidents, etc. The run has been a phenomenon and a stunning success. Joel will turn 75 next May, so that plus the magic 150 number and it all makes sense … Happy Bday Melani Rogers; Ronnie Wood; and David Keeps.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Daryl Easlea; Tony King; David Geffen; Ed Rosenblatt; Glenn Friscia; Jim Burgess; Kent Denmark; Mikael Wood; Lester Bangs; Anne Leighton; Vince Aletti; Fred Goodman; Mark Bego; Mike Greenblatt; Ken Dashow; Jane Rosenthal; Robert DeNiro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Markos Papadatos; and ZIGGY!
Donnie Kehr Debuts Beautiful Strange Live at The Cutting Room Sunday June 4th
Broadway-journeyman Donnie Kehr will perform exclusively his current album Beautiful Strange (ROB/Jazzheads) this weekend at The Cutting Room in NYC.
Max Sangerman from Broadway’s Beautiful Noise will also be performing.
Kehr’s album released earlier this year has drawn rave reviews from numerous publications and has been a huge draw in Europe.
Adds Kehr, “Says Kehr: “These songs are a reflection; a scrapbook of memories in tune. This album is inspired by people and relationships that profoundly influenced my life. A soul-searching journey to better understand my own heart, the mistakes I’ve made, and the beauty of this strange world we live in.”
Kehr produced the 10-track album himself at Good To Go Studios, NYC. Joining Kehr on backing vocals are Broadway friends including Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt); Kris Coleman (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Eric Krop (Motown: The Musical) and Sam Behr. Guest musicians include Kevin Kuhn (The Who’s Tommy and Lion King) and the late Ted Baker (Steely Dan and Philip Glass).
Kehr who is best known for his Broadway work (Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy; Billy Elliot; AIDA; The Mystery of Edwin Drood; The Human Comedy) was a co-founder of the band band Urgent on EMI-Manhattan Records and their album ‘Cast the First Stone’ reached Billboard’s Top 100.
Continues Kehr: “Beautiful Strange has multiple colors of style and crosses over to many genres. I grew up listening and learning from my musical heroes and listeners will hear influences of Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Elton John & The Beatles.”
Also, an actor his film and TV credits include – Inventing Anna; Z The Beginning of Everything; House of Cards; Gotham; Quanitco; Jersey Boys (directed by Clint Eastwood); Wall Street; Chaplin (with Robert Downey, Jr.). And as a director / producer he is the driving force of the PATH Fund’s annual Rockers On Broadway® Benefit Concert Series, The Greatest Piano Men; and many other events.
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