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G.H. HARDING

ONLY IN MY DREAMS AT 35 — Could it really be 35 years since Debbie Gibson’s “Only In My Dreams” ruled the radio roost? Yes, it is and last week, Gibson hosted a Cameo-video event celebrating that fact. From her home base in Las Vegas, she welcomed a host of fans as well as Fred Zarr, who produced the song. Zarr, long removed from the music business was a welcomed presence. He said that originally, he was going to work with two other producers (the legendary M&M team), but when they became unavailable, he got the spot. He said he listened to all her demos and “Dreams” certainly stood out. 

Gibson had the original demo and played it and it was surprisingly close to Zarr’s finished product. All things considered, Zarr’s work would mark a decisive moment in pop music, when other artists like Shannon, Tiffany, and Alicia would rule the charts – way before Britney, Taylor and Kelly. The difference with Gibson was the fact that she wrote it. She stills hold the record for the youngest artists ever to have written, performed and produced a #1 record.

Guitarist Ira Siegal who was on her first album Out Of The Blue, as well as her current album, The Body Remembers, also appeared as did one of her original dancers Buddy Casimano.

I well recall Gibson’s very first gig at the Limelight in NYC eons ago. After her performance, there was never any doubt that she would become a major, major presence in the music scene.

Her original PR-man David Salidor was also on hand and submitted this remembrance, “I had heard ‘Dreams’ as a demo in 1985 and was struck by its originality and brilliance. I knew it would be a massive hit. When it came out the following year -and, released twice, though that’s another story- its power was enormous. It established her as a major new artist in the business.”

Great time; great memories. Salidor submitted the attached photo of him and Gibson at the long-gone, much-missed club 4D. The late Chuck Pulin-snapped this. Thanks to Heather Moore for arranging this for us.

ZOOMIN WITH RINGO — (Via Rock Cellar) The life, career and legacy of Ringo Starr will be documented in great detail in a new coffee table book being made available exclusively via Julien’s Auctions, it was revealed this week.

Titled Lifted – Fab Images and Memories In My Life with the Beatles From Across The Universe, this expansive collection of images, tales and anecdotes from the man born Richard Starkey will begin shipping on Valentine’s Day and is up for pre-order now at Julien’s for $59. There is also a special limited-edition hardcover version of the book personally signed by Ringo and selling for $495 while supplies last.

The proceeds of the book will benefit The Lotus Foundation, whose mission funds supports, participates in and promotes charitable projects aimed at advancing social welfare in diverse areas including, but not limited to substance abuse, cerebral palsy, brain tumors, cancer, battered women and their children, homelessness, and animals in need.

Full details, per Julien’s Auctions site:

“I am not writing this book as a Beatle historian,” Starr explains with a laugh. “I’m writing this book as a Beatle — and there’s only a couple of us who can do that.” Asked about the origins of this new project, Starr explains, “I didn’t keep all these photos. These fantastic images came back to me in recent years from here, there and everywhere — online and off — and have somehow helped me get back to seeing my life with The Fab Four through fresh eyes. A lot of the photos in this book I spotted on my phone and on my computer and “lifted” them because they brought back so many fabulous memories. In recent years, I’d gather these Beatles photos that I sometimes barely remembered. After a while, I thought, how great it would be to “lift” these fantastic photos and some of my other favorites for charity and tell my true tales that they inspire about what the four of us — John, Paul, George and Ringo — went through back in the day. And the best thing is that it’s all for a good cause because the money is going to our Lotus Foundation.

According to Starr, “When people ask me about the Beatles, I often tell them, `You better ask Paul,’ because somehow he seems to remember everything. But along with great projects like Get Back, seeing so many of these amazing Beatles images has really brought back those days to me and all the love and friendship that we four shared back then. So this a book full of Beatle images that many people haven’t seen and stories that I’m sharing with a little help from my longtime writer friend David Wild. We’ve all been through a pretty tough time for a lot of people who’ve been locked down, and this book has really lifted my spirits and took me back to where I once belonged in a whole new way. And in the end, that’s why this new book is called Lifted. The Beatles changed my life forever. So it’s about getting back and giving back.”

Ringo Starr’s LIFTED — Images and Memories In My Life with the Beatles From Across The Universe – is a beautifully designed hard cover with jacket, many rarely seen images overlaid with captions and quotes by Ringo Starr with help from best-selling author and award-winning TV writer-producer David Wild. In the Forward, Ringo will explain the origin and motivation for the exciting new book. Proceeds from LIFTED, including a Limited-Edition Signed Book, signed by Ringo Starr, Will Benefit The Lotus Foundation and will be Sold Exclusively Online at Julien’s Auction.

I’ve got to give Ringo and his team credit, as there’s always one more new product to promote from him. I well remember his Postcards book from years back, which from what I understand was simply postcards from the other Beatles and friends to him. I never saw the book and remember it was ridiculously priced. At least this one, at $59.00 is a lot more realistic.

My first thought when I read the release, which quickly claimed that the photos are not his – was whether the actual photographers would even get credit, or even paid. For the record, they should!

Ringo’s last album, or EP, registered nary a blink on the charts (even with a Diane Warren-song on it) and with his tours canceled, it’s been a pretty sketchy year. I still think Ringo should write his own story with Mark Bego … and, believe me, Bego’s tried. But hey, it’s Ringo, so all is forgiven.

Aaron Sorkin

SHORT TAKES –—  On my away week, we managed to watch a few movies, including Aaron Sorkin’s Amazon-opus Being The Ricardos-which has received across-the-board industry praise. We loved it, especially Javier Bardem’s take on Ricky. Kidman was fine as Lucy, but her haired never seemed to be the right shade of red. JK Simmons, as Fred Mertz was just perfect. An Oscar-winning performance if there ever was once. In all, I was surprised at how serious and yes, even dark it was … Andrew Garfield’s performance in tick, tick Boom was just amazing. The last days of Rent’s Jonathan Larson was just brilliant in every way. As a huge Rent-fan, all of the music sounded pretty similar to what was ultimately in that play. Garfield’s been touted as a Best Actor nom and I would definitely agree … Micky Dolenz’s take on Michael Nesmith’s “Propinquity (I’ve Just Begun To Care)” was selected by Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield as one of the Top 20 songs of the year. We loved it. Congrats …

Also caught The Matrix-Resurrections, which for all the pomp and circumstance, was a love story between the characters Neo and Trinity. I loved how they wove scenes from the first movie in there and sincerely missed Lawrence Fishburne … but, his presence is felt throughout. Not a stone-cold classic, but we enjoyed it immensely …

Robert Stigwood Impresario. Robert Stigwood Impresario. (Rex Features via AP Images)

And, also caught Mr. Saturday Night on Netflix, about the life and career of manager Robert Stigwood. Stiggie, whom I knew well, was responsible for the play, album and movie of Jesus Christ Superstar from the then-unheard of team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice; Grease; the Bee Gees; and, his most famous project of all, John Travolta and the movie  Saturday Night Fever; which was adapted from a New York Magazine article by Nik Cohn titled The Tribal Rights of the New Saturday Night; it was shot with director John Badham; after original director John Avildsen was let go.

Suffice to say, it well exceeded everyone’s expectations. His master plan was releasing the 2-disc soundtrack album well before the movie, so everyone had a chance to hear it. Most of the voices heard on the film were people involved in his RSO Recordsand with Stigwood in particular.  It also spoke to the fact that he was involved with Beatle-manager Brian Epstein early on and at one point was set to take over the management of the band, before the lads nixed it. In many ways, this was the best-yet music doc to come out as Stiggie’s success was enormous. If you get a chance, check this out. Must-see for sure … Ken Kragen who organized the brilliant “We Are The World” session in 1985, which included the likes of Bob Dylan; Michael Jackson; Hall & Oates; Kenny Rogers; Lionel Richie; Paul Simon; and so many others, passed at 85. That record and Kragen’s work on it will live on forever … And, HAPPY BDAY Jordan Runtaugh and Christine Nagy.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Fred Zarr; Abbie Rosenfeld; Elizabeth Neff; Lush Ice; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Craig Newman; Jane Blunkell; Bruce Grakal; Larry Yasgur; Doug Morris; Roger Friedman; Race Taylor; Eppy; Samantha Ryan; Kent and Laura Denmark; Mike Greenblatt; and ZIGGY!

G. H. Harding is a four decades insider to the entertainment world. He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production companies and several cable outlets. His anonymity is essential in bringing an unbiased view to his writings on pop culture. He is based in NYC.

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The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

GORDON OH GORDON — (from The Guardian) In the 1960’s and 70’s, no serious rock fan viewed the drummer Jim Gordon with anything but awe. By the 80’s, none of them viewed him with anything but contempt, a 180-degree turn that led to his virtual erasure from the culture. Even four decades later, when the veteran music journalist Joel Selvin first tried to sell publishers on a book meant to tell Gordon’s story with nuance and depth, they balked. “They would debate it for months and then say, ‘Nope, can’t do it,’” Selvin said. “It was almost impossible for them because of what he had done.”

In 1983, he entered his mother’s house and began to attack her with a hammer, crashing it into her skull four times before grabbing a knife and stabbing her repeatedly, the final time with such force it pinned her to the floor. Soon after her resulting death, Gordon was arrested, charged and convicted of murder, and spent the next four decades in prison, before dying this past March at 77. Over the years, several prominent articles have been published that tried to trace the outlines of Gordon’s story, ascribing his heinous act to an diagnosed case of schizophrenia that forced him to hear voices and experience hallucinations. Yet only in Selvin’s new book, Drums & Demons, does the reader get a feel for the full horror of his disease and the mess it made of his mind. “In one of his hallucinations, he thought he was in a jail cell that was on fire,” Selvin said. “To me, that was a metaphor for Jim’s whole life. For him, life was a jail cell that was always on fire.”

Despite the chaos that created, both for Gordon, and increasingly, for those around him, Selvin aimed to tell his story with empathy. Only after the drummer’s death was, he able to finally convince a publisher to go along. “The guy got so little compassion,” he said. “I wanted readers to know just how impossible Jim’s life was and how brave he was in battling the disease.”

At the same time, the author meant to “restore Jim’s peerless legacy. Who has done more to put his mark on our music than Jim Gordon?” Selvin said. “What a playlist he was on!”

Just tracing the surface of Gordon’s contributions reveals more than 100 classic songs powered by his invention and finesse. In his early studio work, he appeared on an entire chart’s worth of pop hits, by acts like the Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, the Byrds and Glen Campbell. By the 70’s, he became a key member of pivotal rock bands, including Delaney & Bonnie, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Derek and the Dominos and Traffic. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley of California, Gordon became entranced by the power of the beat from childhood. He played in bands by puberty and, by 17, helped flesh out demos for the publishing arm of Liberty Records. That same year, he joined the Everly Brothers on a tour of England and, afterwards, became part of the storied Wrecking Crew, a loose collection of studio musicians who played on a dizzying range of 60’s hits. “Back then, there were loads of great studio drummers,” said Lenny Waronker, a legendary producer and record executive whose career started in the same west coast studio milieu of the 60’s. “Jim was able to plow through that. All the other musicians were amazed by him.”

Gordon’s role on those storied sessions extended way beyond the simple task of keeping time. “He wasn’t just a backbeat guy,” Selvin said. “He was a fully musical drummer who embedded his playing into the core of the composition.”

For instance: in the 70’s hit, Grazing in the Grass, by the Friends of Distinction, Gordon’s drum elaborated the song. “Even though there was a chart in which every note was written out for him, he added a Latin boogaloo feel that exploded the whole record,” Selvin said.

The fills and intonations he added to Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain contoured the melody and directed the listener’s ear to the record’s subtler touches. “Jim orchestrated that entire song from the drum stool,” Selvin said. In Maria Muldaur’s number one smash Midnight at the Oasis, he added a key samba groove, while in Steely Dan’s Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, the tricky beat he devised deepened the song’s debt to jazz. In doing so, “Jim became an important part of the hit-making process,” Selvin said.

Mark Lindsay, frontman of the hit group Paul Revere & the Raiders, immediately noticed Gordon’s gift after he was hired to drum on their song The Great Airplane Strike. “He was doing this polyrhythmic thing with a kick, a snare and a high hat, accented by tom-toms,” Lindsay said. “He changed the song up so much that I wound up rewriting half of my lyrics to fit was he was doing! Jim became the conductor of the track.”

Waronker recognized the same level of creativity on Sundown, a song he produced for Gordon Lightfoot that became a number one hit. “His drum part made the song move in its own way,” he said. “It’s a specific rhythm that Jimmy picked up from Gordon’s guitar. It became one of the most important parts of the song.”

In the 70’s, Gordon expanded his range to work with rock’n’roll’s most cutting-edge bands on the road. “When you listen to his live work with Mad Dogs & Englishmen or Derek and the Dominos, he’s unleashed,” Selvin said. “The ideas just flow from him.”

At the same time, the voices that were roiling inside his head began to find disturbing external expression. In an infamous incident on the Mad Dogs tour, he hauled off and punched his then girlfriend, the singer Rita Coolidge, in the head. “Here was a guy who was noted for being gentle, smiling and laid back,” Selvin said. “But that was just the mask he wore.”

Some people were already beginning to see through it. “[The singer] Claudia Lennear said she always wondered about that smile,” Selvin said. “It was too simple. She felt he was hiding behind it.”

“Jim had such genius,” Lindsay said, “but I sensed there might be something lurking behind the curtain.”

To Selvin, Gordon’s talent can’t be separated from his torment. “The level of intuition that Jim displayed

in his playing requires a certain electro-chemical makeup,” he said. “His highly personal style had to come from the same place in the brain that produced his schizophrenia.”

At the same time, the focus and power involved in playing drums gave Gordon a refuge from the cyclone of thoughts whipping through his head. “The combination of the resonance of the drums and the rhythmic entertainment of the groove produces a hypnotic feeling that can lift you out,” Selvin said. “Nothing calms a schizophrenic faster than a Walkman and a pair of headphones. For Jim, the drums provided a place where the voices couldn’t follow.”

Strangely enough, the herculean amount of recreational drugs Gordon took at the time also had a calming effect. “You would think that the massive amounts of cocaine he did would make things worse,” Selvin said. “But I talked to psychiatrists who said that it would normalize his dopamine levels. He was doing blow to feel normal.”

Similarly, the crazy rock’n’roll lifestyle of the 70’s, which Gordon exemplified, served as a cover for his increasingly aberrant actions. “The rock scene of the time was nearly indistinguishable from psychotic behavior,” Selvin said with a rueful laugh. “Jim just blended into the background.”

It helped that, at the time, he was still soaring creatively. In 1973, Gordon devised a pair of drum patterns that proved crucial to the development of two separate genres. His work on the Hues Corporation’s smash Rock the Boat, with its high-hat syncopations and danceable beat, helped patent the rhythms of disco. Similarly, his extended break on the song Apache, paired with the congas of King Errisson, became a foundational pattern in hip-hop that was later sampled ad infinitum. “When Kool Herc found Jim’s long drum break on Apache, he discovered that he could make it bound from one turntable to another forever,” Selvin said. “He was driving crowds nuts with that sound.”

By late in 1973, however, Gordon’s beat, and sanity, were beginning to seriously waver. He viciously attacked his wife Renee Armand, cracking several ribs in the process, ending their marriage. His work with the would-be country-rock super group Souther-Hilman-Furay Band grew so erratic they had to sack him. While he managed to keep it together in the studio for a few more years, by 1978 Gordon proved too unreliable to be employed.

In a reporting coup, Selvin acquired research that helped fill in Gordon’s inner life during that pivotal time. He found two women who, in the late 80’s, had gained the drummer’s cooperation for a book that never got off the ground. The notes they took gave Selvin access to jail house interviews with Gordon along with his medical records and related court documents. (Selvin sent several written requests to interview Gordon himself but they went answered.) Regardless, the research he acquired from the women allowed him to put the reader deep inside the musician’s roiling mind.

The voices Gordon heard shamed him so deeply, he rarely told anyone about them, which contributed to him never getting a proper diagnosis. His mother, one of his closest witnesses, believed that drinking and drugs were his problem rather than a symptom of something far more corrosive. While Gordon began to imagine that many people were torturing him at the time, the main voice in his head was his mother’s. “Because Jim’s father was a practicing alcoholic, his mother became the sub rosa leader of the household,” Selvin said. “That’s why she became the major figure in this panoply of voices hectoring him.”

As a result, it was her voice that he felt the most urgent need to silence. Once details of the subsequent murder came out, some observers who knew Gordon in his high functioning days were floored. “When I knew him, he was a tremendously nice person,” Waronker said. “He was the all-American boy.”

Selvin’s book describes what led up to the murder in granular detail, but he doesn’t write much about Gordon’s subsequent decades in prison because, he said, he found it undramatic. Often keeping to himself, Gordon became a virtual zombie due to the anti-psychotic drugs the prison pumped him with. Rare as Gordon’s particular case was, one key reason Selvin said he wrote his book was to let readers know how common various forms of schizophrenia are. “To me, the single most astonishing fact of the research I did was that schizophrenia affects one in 100 people,” he said. “Let that sink in: Multiple sclerosis affects one in 10,000! We see these people out in the street, hearing voices all the time. Their world is totally frightening. And I have nothing but compassion for them. Unfortunately, society doesn’t.”

The other key reason Selvin wrote Drums & Demons, he said, was to restore Jim Gordon to the popular music world. “He’s gone,” he said, “and he needs to come back.”

Drums & Demons: The Tragic Journey of Jim Gordon is out on 27 February.

SHORT TAKES —New bio on the Bee Gees by music-wiz Bob Stanley. The group, one of my all-time favorites, were huge, but in many ways never got the respect they deserved. Many people don’t realize that Robert Stigwood, who masterminded them to the top, used to work for Brian Epstein.I’m eagerly waiting for this one. From Pegasus BooksWe watched Anatomy of a Fall and loved it. Its long, but fascinating and intense. A French legal drama, directed by Justine Triet from a screenplay she co-wrote with Arthur Harari. A great cast, especially Milo Machado-Graner, as the boy Daniel …

I watched the opening SNL monologue, with host Shane Gillis -who was fired from the cast for some racial slurs-. A sort of Adam Sandler-wanna be, I didn’t find him funny in the least. He actually reminded me of a low-rent Louis C.K. -remember him?

Lorne Michaels

I don’t know why Lorne Michaels would even want him back, except for some splashy ink – which wasn’t terribly kind. This appears to be Michael’s next-to-last year on the show and he’s clearly choosing to go out quietly. No more gas in the engine I fear …

AppleTV+ has a new show Constellation with Noomi Rapace. Stunningly done; reminds me of Gravity from a few years back … And, Happy Bday Paul Undersinger and George Harrison!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — William Schill; Anthony Noto; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Derek Taylor; Charles Comer; Howard Bloom; Mark Bego; Phil Goldstein; Tropique Records; Marsha Stern; Beth Wernick; Marion Perkins; Les Schwartz; Liz Rosenberg; Bob Merlis; Obi Steinman; Andrew Sandoval; Warren Lawrence; Jodi Ritzen; Jeremy Long; and CHIP!

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G.H. Harding

MORE MURDER — (Via Deadline) Sophie Ellis-Bextor is gearing up to tour around North America for the first time and adding more cities for fans to see her perform “Murder on the Dance Floor” live.

The British singer’s song is featured in the final scene of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, where Barry Keoghan’s Oliver dances naked around the manor. After the scene went viral, the song, co-written by Ellis-Bextor and Gregg Alexander, also went viral on social media. “Murder on the Dance Floor” was originally released in 2001, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 until now, peaking at 51 recently.

Ellis-Bextor recently made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she performed the viral hit and the star is now embarking on a North America tour.

The artist announced her first-ever live show in NYC, set to take place on June 6 at Webster Hall, and the date quickly sold out. Ellis-Bextor has now announced more dates across the U.S. and Canada that will take her to San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Oh my… the New York show sold out in a day! Thank you thank you thank you,” Ellis-Bextor said in her newsletter announcing the additional tour dates. “So – how about some more shows in some more cities?! My band and I are coming for you! Super excited. Come and dance with me….”

May 30: August Hall (San Francisco, CA)May 31: The Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)June 3: 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)June 4: Royale Boston (Boston, MA)June 5: Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)June 6: Webster Hall (New York City, NY)June 8: Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I love this record, because its an actual song. Sure, they repeat the title about three-dozen times, but its a great track.

Neil Diamond and Micky Dolenz

NOISE CLOSES — (Via Deadline) Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical will play its final performance on Sunday, June 30, before launching a national tour this fall, producers announced today.

The musical, which began previews on November 2, 2022, at the Broadhurst Theatre and opened that year on December 4, will have played 35 preview performances and 657 regular performances when it closes.

As I’ve said, early reviews of the show, kind of stopped me from going to this. An artist who is even referenced in the play said to me ‘why would I go to a play that got bad reviews.’ Understood.

But, I did see it and absolutely loved it. Of course, I’m somewhat on the business side and loved all the insider-nuances. And, I saw it with the original performers in it.

There will be a national tour and I predict it will be a huge hit as Diamond’s music is multi-generational. As I’ve said, I preferred Diamond’s “Solitary Man”-period more than “America” and “I Am, I Said.” Although, “Turn On Your Heart Light” (written with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach) was a great record.

An icon for certain.

SHORT TAKES — Warner’s second Aquaman movie; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will stream on MAX on February 27. The first Aquaman movie, out in 2018, remains the highest-grossing DC film of all time. The sequel, after a plethora of media, mostly about Amber Heard, disappeared in a matter of weeks … Broadway-journeyman and Rockers On Broadway-creator Donnie Kehr recupping. Get well soon brother! … Keith Girard’s New York Independent featured an interview with 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long. Check it out: https://www.thenyindependent.com/music/1704991/kjersti-long-17-explores-her-jersey-roots-by-way-of-utah-with-power-pop-style-video/

Pet Shop Boys

Just listened to the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls.” What a tremendous record that hold up amazingly well all these years later. It came out in 1984 and produced by Bobby Orlando … Amazon shuttering Freevee? First off, as an offshoot of Amazon, this has got to be one of the worst monikers ever! I mean, FreeVee ... always sounded like frisbee!  Adios … Thursday’s Law & Order was the ode to Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy-character (Last Dance).

Sam Waterston

After 404 episodes, we had to say goodbye. It wasn’t the greatest episode, but when McCoy took over the case and presented it to the jury, Waterston shone brightly. When McCoy said to Hugh Dancy (Nolan Ryan), it was a hell of a ride, it resonated terrifically. Thanks Jack! …

True Detective

I loved the finale on HBO of True Detective with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. I didn’t understand it all, but the look and direction (by Issa Lopez) and Jodie Foster was just superb. I had forgotten just how good an actress Foster was. Sure, she was good in Nyad, but it was a supporting role. Here, she was just stellar. I’d like to see more of her …

Micky Jones

It was a grim week medically speaking as talk-show hostess Wendy Williams was diagnosed with aphasia and dementia and Mick Jones of Foreigner, with Parkinson’s. Sending prayers to both … And finally, news surfaced Thursday that an “inebriated” Andy Cohen harassed Brandi Glanville. I don’t know Andy at all, but his bad-boy antics of the last several years were clearly leading to something like this. Glanville’s lawyers even invoked NBC’s Matt Lauer in their brief. Expect a huge media brouhaha over this one. Sad for sure … Happy Bday Lou Christie; Niki Avers and Chloe Gaier.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Walter; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Ace Frehley; Alex Saltzman; Lush Ice; Tony King; Barry Zelman; Justin Ridener; Kent & Laura Denmark; Mark Bego; Mark Scheerer; Barbara Shelley; and SADIE!

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G.H. Harding

McCALLUM’S FAREWELL — Last night was the NCIS show dedicated to David McCallum (The Stories We Leave Behind) and it was simply terrific. Written by Brian Dietzen, who essays Dr. Jimmy Palmer on the show, it was extremely touching and featured some great clips from past shows.

The vibrant opening theme for the show was re-cast in a memorial-type tone and worked perfectly. There was also a reference to his cat named ‘Solo’ – a fitting nod to his Man From U.N.C.L.E. costar Robert Vaughn.

McCallum was just a tremendous actor. I one met him once in Bloomingdale’s of all places and he couldn’t have been nicer. There was also last-minute cameo from Michael Weatherly, who left the show several years ago. It was just a brilliant moment and though pundits are already saying he’ll return, I don’t think it will come to pass.

There was also a letter from Gibbs (Mark Harmon) whose shadow always lingers.

A touching tribute well done on every level. McCallum will be missed tremendously; an icon for sure. 7 million viewers thought so too.

Kelly Rowland

SHORT TAKES — Last week’s kerfuffle with Kelly Rowland abruptly leaving the Today Show, where she was pegged to co-host the fourth hour with Hoda, is much ado about nothing. Gossip pundits claimed it was because her dressing room was too small and Hoda herself sort of copped to it on Monday’s show. I predict she’ll be banned from the entire show for quite some time. It was probably more of a stunt pulled by her PR-people, as she generated a heap of press. For those who don’t know: most all of their dressing rooms are small …

Kjersti Long

17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long (her “Sad Song” was just released) looks to have her Relative Space-play begin in the West End, pegged for later this year  …

Vanessa Williams will have for the role of Miranda Priestly in the upcoming musical adaption of The Devil Wears Prada by Elton John, It’ll debut in the West End shortly … SiriusXM’s Evan Levy left the station for Amazon, but has now officially surfaced at Jason Spiewak’s Noble Steed Music.

Congrats … Micky Dolenz speaks to Goldmine’s Tone Scott today about his I’m Told I Had A Good Timebook and upcoming appearance at LA’s Troubadour on April 5 … The media was ablaze Tuesday with news that director Sam Mendes would make 4 movies featuring each of The Beatles. Astonishing. Mendez is a great director and this looms as a challenge for sure. As a group they were invincible, but it’ll be interesting to see how Mendes handles each of their post-Beatles work; which had their ups and downs. Stay tuned, this is a big one …

Rod Stewart sells his catalog for $100 million? … We started watching Feud: Capote vs. The Swans -featuring a bravura performance by Tom Hollander as Truman Capote- and am loving it tremendously. Hollander’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen in years on the small-screen. Absolutely stunning with the direction by none other than the stellar Gus Van Sant. More on this brilliant series next time …

Yoko Ono

Happy 90th Bday Yoko Ono.NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Leeds; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Adam Sandler; Jennifer Aniston; Curt Smith; Bob Small; Andy Forrester; Rob Dickens; Daryl Estrea; Jane Blunkell; Jane Berk; Eloise Keene; Eppy; June Pointre; Ken Kragen; Kent Denmark; Mark Bego; Jake Malooley; Graydon Carter; and ZIGGY!

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WE ARE THE WORLD DOC ON NETFLIX — I just watched the Netflix doc on the 1985’s We Are The World record and session and enjoyed it immensely. It’s hard to believe it was so long ago and the participants that appeared on it and are no longer with us. I interacted with manager Ken Kragen who brought the idea to Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson after being approached by Harry Belafonte. Kragen was a savvy manager back then and even managed the Smothers Brothers for a while.

Recorded after Dick Clark’s AMA Awards, it was simply a stellar turnout. Every article on the record said that at the last-minute Quincy Jones took a blank piece of paper and scribbled Leave Your Egos At The Door – inspired for sure. Today, it’d be Leave Yor Egos At The Door With Your Glam Squad.

I don’t know if a session like that could even happen today with so much natural unrest – even in the music  business. Even A&M Studios where the session took place has changed to Henson Studios.

Its a funny doc as we start with insider-comments from two women who worked for Kragen and producer Larry Klein – who was involved with Dick Clark back then. Then, the three of them sort of disappear and Richie takes over as narrator; engineer Humberto Gatica has some nice memories too; as doe Tom Bahler, an associate of Jones who worked with him for years.

There were some funny reminiscences, mostly from Huey Lewis, who found himself amazed to be with the likes of Paul Simon and Willie Nelson. At one point Wonder starts playing Belafonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and then the entire ensemble continues to sing it.

Wonder, definitely a musical genius, even coaches Bob Dylan by mimicking his voice. Diane Ross ambles over to Daryl Hall and asks for his autograph. Funny stuff for sure.

It’d be nice if something like this happened today, but I fear it’s near impossible. JLO doing a charity record with Selena Gomez, Arianna Grande and Beyonce? Never.

Micky Dolenz

DOLENZ ON AMERICAN POP FLASHBACK — Over a dozen of the most successful singing artists in the history of American music including Glen Campbell, Lesley Gore, Bill Medley and many more are presented live-on-stage with thrilling concert performances in the new Public Television special AMERICAN POP FLASHBACK! GREAT HITS OF THE ‘60s & ‘70s premiering nationwide beginning the weekend of February 23 (please check local listings for air-dates/times).

Join program host, legendary singer Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, as he salutes the groundbreaking musicians, teen idols, TV stars and vocal greats from rock, pop and country whose hits make us sing along, tap our feet, shed a tear, fall in love and recall the great memory-filled times of our lives.

Appearing exclusively on American Public Television stations, the all-star concert features performances by late legends Glen Campbell (“Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman”) and Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party”) in addition to a cavalcade of timeless classics and Number One Hits by Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “(You’re My) Soul & Inspiration),” The Chiffons (“One Fine Day”), Bobby Vinton (“Blue Velvet”), Ray Stevens (“Everything Is Beautiful”), Debby Boone (“You Light Up My Life”), Chris Montez (“Let’s Dance”),Tony Orlando (“Candida”/”Knock Three Times”) The Osmond Brothers (“One Bad Apple,” “He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother)”, Crystal Gayle “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”) and other chart-topping favorites.

Additionally, the programs legendary host Micky Dolenz thrills fans with a performance of The Monkees’ signature hit I’m a Believer. AMERICAN POP FLASHBACK! GREAT HITS OF THE ‘60s & ‘70s presented by American Public Television is a production of DEB Entertainment and Emmy-nominated producer Jim Pierson (“California Dreamin’” – The Songs of The Mamas & The Papas, Fever The Music of Peggy Lee) in association with Emmy Award-winning producers Rene Reyes and Shane Rosamond

SHORT TAKES — We’ve written about how similar TV’s Yellowstone is to Dallas; a huge hit back-in-the-day. Sure, the language is a bit more torrid, but the similarities are indeed many.

Taylor Sheridan

Now Roger Friedman reports that Yellowstone-creator Taylor Sheridan is creating a show (With Jon Hamm; Demi Moore; and Billy Bob Thornton attached) closer to Dallas than ever before. Of course, Kevin Costner starred in Yellowstone and is being written out. Check it out here: https://showbiz411.com/2024/02/16/taylor-sheridan-doing-a-thinly-disguised-riff-on-dallas-with-jon-hamm-billy-bob-thornton-demi-moore-in-oil-rich-texas

David Salidor; Scott Shannon and Steve Leeds

… Happy Bday Steve Leeds & Mitch Kanner!NAMES IN THE NEWS — Michelle Grant; Art Rutter; Jimmy Fallon; Vinny Napolitano; Jodi Ritzen; Dan Zelinski; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Anthony Noto; Robert Funaro; Steve Klein; Steve Leeds; Mark Bego; Sophie Ellis-Bextor; Brad Pitt; and CHIP!

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G.H. Harding

FANTASTIC FOUR SETMarvel announced Wednesday morning the cast for their coming Fantastic Four movie. Actually, there were three before, but not 100% Marvel. As a fan of the comic from the start, the first movie, with Ioan Gruffeud, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans was just great. Julian McMahon as the bad guy Dr. Doom was great too. The second one was pretty good too as it introduced the Silver Surfer; one of my personal Marvel faves.

silver Surfer

Each did not make a zillion-dollars and when the rights reverted back to Marvel, they went with it.

Pedro Pascal was great in his cable series Narcos and the current Last of Us, but not as Reed Richards. Ioan was excellent and even John Krasinki who made a brief cameo in Dr. Strange, would have been a much, much better choice. Marvel even issued a Valentine Day’s announcement of sorts that made the Fab Four look like something out of The Jetsons … and, clearly, they’re not.

Hey, this is just one opinion … Pascal is the flavor of the moment! Read SHOWBIZ 411’s take on it: https://showbiz411.com/2024/02/14/marvel-announces-fantastic-four-cast-newest-remake-has-been-open-secret-for-weeks

Flash Forward

SHORT TAKESNBC’s LaBrea wound up their abbreviated third and final season Tuesday with an episode wherein all of the major characters resolved their issues and successfully got back home. Honestly, the show started out with a band (who can’t resist a giant-sinkhole in LA?), but then with COVID and the strikes, it began to fall apart. LaBrea joins the hallowed ranks of other sci-fi shows Flash Forward, The Event; Salvation; First Wave; Solos; Another Life; Millennium; and Brave New World – all great shows that slowly-but-surely died on the vine … Check out Joe Cocker-biographer Mark Bego on Leon Russell’s relationship with Joe:

17-year-old Kjersti Long was interviewed by SKOPE in conjunction with her new single “Sad Song” – https://skopemag.com/2024/02/13/they-call-her-kjersti?fbclid=IwAR1M_mwal9pUp21pifLNiyXmh5ZfmIqTszdLKN22lkI4niC8glOjMIp2qQE

I’m Told I Had A Good Time/Micky Dolenz

Micky Dolenz spoke to Billboard’s Gary Graff this week about his book, I’m Told I Had A Good Time

Jennifer Lopez

JLO was the special guest on NBC’s Today Thursday and really dazzled me. Her new album has gotten very mixed reviews, but what a total professional, she looked great; her kids are now each 16; and she answered every question Hoda Kotb had with pizzazz. She announced a tour later this year and posters for it were already displayed in their plaza immediately after the interview. She’s been a star for years and she still is …

Lana Del Rey covering John Denver’s “Tale Me Home Country Roads?” Yes. here it is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muWEOXE5zeQ
I love it! …

Whatever happened to our guilty-jazz pleasure, Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Gary Graff; Tone Scott; Tony King; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Morgan White; Jim Kerr; Graydon Carter; James Clash; Jeremy Long; Van Dean; Dean Scene; Pete Bennett; Chris Cuomo; Dan Zelinski; Barry Fisch; Gary Gershoff; Eppy; Kent & Laura Denmark; Don Wardell; William Schill; and ZIGGY!

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