THE FOSTER FILES — Documentaries for me are a double-edged sword. Depending on who directed them, they can be either a love-letter or a ripped-to-shreds downer.
Producer David Foster is one strange-bird. Sure, he’s had unparalleled success in the music world: working with the likes of Whitney Houston; Celine Dion and Michael Bubble, but he also comes off as somewhat of a smart-alec, know-it-all – which I can tell you for sure, many record producers are. There’s a right way, a wrong way or … Foster’s way.
The first third of the doc is Foster gingerly recounting his progress to the top of the heap. From Canada with three sisters, he heads to London, where he had his loneliest time ever. Then back to Canada and then to LA, where he finally felt at home (he hates NYC, too claustrophobic … and, I often know that feeling!). He worked … really worked at becoming one of LA’s tops session players. He also basically skips over a hit he had with a group called Skylark (“Wildflower”) and two albums with George Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, under the name of Attitudes. He does reference Keltner as a source of some major help (he was in Attitudes too, along with guitarist Danny Kortchmar), but really doesn’t discuss Harrison at all, which I felt was kind of odd.
The middle third is his amazing success with the names mentioned above. Clive Davis, is of course there, discussing what importance he had (as well as his big part in the movie Bodyguard with Kevin Costner) but the real curiosity piece here is when manager Irving Azoff brought him into work with the group Chicago.
He professes to have been huge fan, but when the group played him their next set of songs, he immediately dismissed them all and proceeded to write some new songs … without horns! The songs went onto becoming the group’s biggest hits ever … but, still no horns.
Chicago’s principals are interviewed and appear still quite frosty about this whole episode, but Foster’s adds that they’re still touring … and, playing those hits. Foster was quoted last week he was surprised he didn’t come off worse in that interview with them.
Hey, I told you it was a crazy business.
The last third is about Foster’s five marriages and how he runs when things gets too tight, and the major carnage with his daughters. It’s sad. With an estimated 80 million dollar worth … no money can’t fix problems like these.
A maniacal, ego-centric, narcissist? That’s just who he is. Is it a good film? Not really, but it does present an honest portrait of the man. Essential viewing for anyone is show biz!
England Concerts in August 2020 — Indoor concerts will be allowed to take place in England beginning August 2020 – the first time since COVID-19 hit – as the country enters Phase 4 of its five-stage reopening plan for live events.
Announced by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will first be holding test runs with socially-distanced audiences to create the final and formal guidelines for August 2020.
The announcement also revealed that venues will not be allowed to open at full capacity and tickets will be sold online in order to reduce person-to-person contact. Additionally, social distancing markers will be placed for the audience, while venues will have to undergo deep cleaning measures and operate with staggered performance schedules. “Audiences, performers and venues will be expected to maintain social distancing at all times,” the notice said.
What will happen domestically remains to be seen.
RACING ENZO — I saw a movie over the weekend that literally moved me to tears. The movie of the book (by racing car driver Garth Stein), The Art Of Racing In The Rain. It concerns a new dog, Enzo, brought home by racing car driver Denny (Milo Ventimiglia).
The hook is that we hear Enzo’s thoughts throughout the movie – voiced brilliantly by Kevin Costner – of all people. I know at first it sounds somewhat cheesy, but it’s handled beautifully. Who knew that dogs just might have such serious thoughts?
The movie opens when Enzo is in his declining days and then quickly flashes back to when he is first adopted; and the rhythm that he and Denny develop. The dog’s thought are simply amazing – seriously delivered and strike just the right amount of emotion. What he really aspires to do is to ride in a car with Denny.
Denny meets Evie, who at first Enzo is suspicious of, but then comes to embrace. They marry, with Enzo being the ring bearer. Soon she is pregnant, which brings even more awe to Enzo.
A daughter is born, who is soon marveled at and loved, by Enzo as well.
A serious illness happens and everything adapts accordingly from there.
I guess if you are, or were, a dog owner, you can relate much differently to the movie. One review -from a major trade paper no less- reviewed this movie as if he didn’t even see it. The postings on his review were hilarious … and, true.
It’s a tearjerker for sure. Ventimiglia is sensational and Amanda Seyfried, as Eve, is astonishingly good, but the real secret weapon is Costner. As believable as ever, he was a sensational choice.
This is a good one!
SHORT TAKES — Actor, singer, director, producer, writer, radio DJ, inventor, all-around performer extraordinaire—and frequent Wizard World guest—Micky Dolenz will make his first virtual appearance on Sunday, August 2, at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT, at Wizard World Virtual Experiences (http://www.wizardworldvirtual.com). Best known as vocalist and drummer of The Monkees, the superstar who has been entertaining crowds for more than a half century will take part in a FREE live moderated video Q&A, followed by one-on-one video chats, recorded videos and autographs. Sessions are accessible to virtual attendees on their computer and mobile devices via Twitch, Facebook and YouTube …
Best Vintage Track of the Week goes to Paul McCartney’s “Back In The Sunshine Again,” from his album 2001 Driving Rain album. Just a superb track: take a listen:
RIP Mary Noto; wife of Lore Noto (The Fantasticks) and mother of Anthony … Happy Bday Alicia Spiegel.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Danny Kortchmar; Attitudes; Billy Amendola; Barry Fisch; Vic Kastel; Jane Blunkell; Randy Alexander; Carol Weber; Kreskin; Tony King; Joel Diamond; Fabian; and, BELLA!
THE WRIGHT STUFF — I was, and am, a huge Gary Wright fan. From Spooky Tooth to Wonderwheel to his terrific work with George Harrison and his solo work, he was always strikingly memorable. I well remember his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in 1972, where after Cavett interviewed George Harrison, he introduced Wonderwheel, with Gary Wright and Mick Jones and Harrison himself on guitar.
For those who don’t recall, Dick Cavett was a terrific chat-show host and always had somewhat controversial guests on and music personalities like Harrison, John Lennon and David Bowie. Part-Letterman, part-Carson, he was terrific and is much missed.Gary Wright began with the Brit-band Spooky Tooth and enjoyed some success as well as a close relationship with Island Records Chris Blackwell kept him at the forefront of music. As Wright said, he was invited to play on Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album by Klaus Voorman and once there, had some difficulty following Harrison’s complex music. When producer Phil Spector shouted out, who’s not playing the right notes … Wright admitted it was him, Harrison went over and said to take his time. They became lifelong friends. He played on every subsequent Harrison album.
Wright’s career took off with the release of his solo album The Dream Weaver in 1975 and the single “Love Is Alive,” which to me is one of the greatest pop records ever. The bass-synth of that song is just riveting and holds up today as good as ever. The album reportedly was the first-ever to feature all keyboard-work. I read where Wright himself played all the bass-synth parts.
Numerous performances followed and Wright is well remembered for playing the Keytar – a portable keyboard, strapped on which allowed him to move about onstage.
Albums and tours followed, most notably with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. Truly a legend. RIP Gary!
Here’s a great tribute from Variety on Wright: https://variety.com/2023/music/news/gary-wright-dead-dream-weaver-1235713097/?fbclid=IwAR1g1z3mzrOP7QxFACbSQqYNOt_D6NirjlhtgYAdsAFaElCeS0O14sUP2po
SHORT TAKES — As we’ve mentioned, big news coming next week on the launch of celebrity-scribe Mark Bego’s 68th book, Joe Cocker: With a Lot of Help From His Friends via Yorkshire Publishing. Stay tuned …
Chloe Melas – the Today’s Show new entertainment correspondent is good, but an odd choice. She certainly has the button-down look nailed, but as an entertainment writer for years, I was never ever aware of her. Definitely more Jenna Bush Hagar for sure. Carson Daly was on with her -for the first time- Tuesday and they made for an odd pair. Good luck …
Here’s Micky Dolenz with Stars Wars Ian McDiarmid at last weekend’s Fanboy Expoin Orlando …
I’ve spoken repeatedly about my admiration for Yellowstone; sure, it’s Dallas-updated, but that’s a good thing. Kevin Costner broke his silence on what’s happening on the show in the Hollywood Reporter. Take a look here: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/kevin-costner-yellowstone-7-seasons-1235580306/ I’ll say one thing: Taylor Sheridan is right about once the lawyers get involved, it gets crazy.
Stay tuned … Wednesday’s Rolling Stones album launch (Hackney Diamonds) with Jimmy Fallon was pretty cool. Mick, Keith and Ronnie talked for a half-four with Fallon, from London, and introduced the new video (directed by Francois Rousselet) for their single “Angry” which features actress Sydney Sweeney undulating in a car on Sunset Blvd. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mEC54eTuGw … The threesome looked great and were funny for sure. Their first album of new material in 18 years! Simply amazing. Guests on the album include Lady Gaga; Stevie Wonder; and Paul McCartney. The Stones are in a class all by themselves. Bravo … Looks like that long-awaited memoir from Dave Mason (Only You Know and I Know) won’t now arrive till 2024. Geeze, this book has been in the making for years … New York Governor Kathy Hochul paid a brief, but surprise visit to striking writers and actors outside Netflix offices Wednesday saying “You’re fighting the right fight” … Happy Bday Nancy Jeffries and Henry Diltz!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Roy Trakin; Roger Friedman; Andrew Sandoval; Glenn Gretlund; Bruce Haring; Jane Berk; Mark Bego; Kent and Laura Denmark; Kent and Laura Denmark; Randy Lewis; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Nancy Ruth; Teresa Knox; Steve Walter; Chris Noth; Nancy Ruth; Teresa Knox; Chuck Pulin; Derek Storm; Paul Undersinger; and ZIGGY!
Cabaret, Talks and Concerts For September
As the season starts so does the plethora of things to attend. Here are our picks for September
92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 9/11: Cabaret Conversations. Michael Kirk Lane interviews James Jackson, Jr. and John-Andrew Morrison; 9/12: Oprah Winfrey and Arthur C. Brooks in Conversation with George Stephanopoulos: Build the Life You Want (In-Person); 9/14: Katie Couric in Conversation with Jennifer Wallace – Never Enough (In-Person) and 9/22: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis: Linda Evangelista (Online)
Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; Every Saturday at 7pm Eric Comstock with Sean Smith (Bass) & special guest Barbara Fasano (Voice); 9/1 -2 Catherine Russell; 9/18: Amanda McBroom and “Such Good Friends” and 9/25: Bill Russell “My Side Of The Show”.
Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. 0/2: John Lloyd Young; 9/12 -23: Brook Shields and 9/26 -30 Joaquina Kalukango.
Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St.
Chelsea Table + Stage: Hilton Fashion District Hotel, 152 W 26th St. 9/8: Daisy Joplin and Frank Skinner; 9/10: Reeve Carney and 9/28: Karen Mason.
Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St. 9/28: Quinn Lemley.
Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street.
CHAINSAW DAVE — Zaz The Butcher was pretty grim, but many inside the Warners/Discoveryheadquarters this past week have started referring to there errant leader, David Zaslav, as chainsaw.Since assuming the mantle there, Zaz cut The Batgirlmovie; fired Jeff Zuker; hired and fired Chris Licht at CNN; fired most of the original staff at HBO (One gal there I know well had been there for 32 years!); is slowly phasing out the HBO name to MAX; in the process of decimating TCM (reportedly 70 of their 90 employees were cut); and as of last Friday, starting to sell off assets from Warner Brothers – music and such. When you have stockholders to account too; bean counters are in; the creatives are out. Point in fact: Director Christopher Nolan -one of the brightest and best out there- is now making his films at Universal. He won’t work for WB any more and I’m sure there are dozens who will follow.
HERE’S RON — I’ve talked about the impresario Ron Delsener before. I first became aware of him when he did his standout shows in Central Park in NYC … eons ago. I seem to recall I had a friend who actually worked for Ron and he would let me through the steel gates. Suffice to say, I was there a lot.
SHORT TAKES — Can it really be 35 years since Debbie Gibson’s “Foolish Beat” ruled the airwaves? It is and congrats> PR-man David Salidor, helming the press for Gibson back then, recalls the video shoot on a cold, cold night in Lower Manhattan. “She had a lot of scenes near the water, making it especially tough to shoot, but we got it done. Director Nick Willing did a fabulous job and Gibson, as always, was spectacular” …Woodstock-legend Melanie has penned the intro to Mark Bego’s forthcoming book on Joe Cocker With a Lot of Help from His Friends (Yorkshire Publishing). More news on this shortly … Per Roger Friedman in his Showbiz 411: Last night (Friday), “The Flash” fell 81% — shocking — and made just $4.5 million. Another $9 million this weekend will bring it to just $85 million over two weekends. “The Flash” won’t get near $100 million until next weekend — at least. With a budget of well over $200 million, “The Flash” will cause a huge write down at Warner Bros Discovery. It will go down in history as one of the studio’s biggest flops …
RIP Frederic Forrest – brilliant in Apocalypse Now and The Rose and Happy BDay Alex Salzman and Jann Klose!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Cory Robbins; HeatherMoore; Jann Klose; Pat Monaco; Brian Chin; Tony King; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Ian Lee; Jodi Ritzen; Marsha Stern; Bruce Haring; Brian Lowry; Angela Tarantino; Robert Funaro; Vince Aletti; Bob Siegal; Craig Kostich; Kent and Laura Denmark; Michael Des Barres
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Happy Birthday Richard Jay-Alexander
Yesterday was my good friend Richard Jay-Alexander’s birthday and I presented him with his own personal caricature. Fo those who do not know Richard J is an Broadway producer and director. He served as Executive Director of the New York City office of producer Cameron Mackintosh for twelve years, known for productions including Les Misérables, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Oliver! and Putting It Together.
His directorial credits include the staging of For The Girls (2020) on Broadway starring Kristin Chenoweth, Porgy and Bess for the South Florida Symphony (2019), the concert versions of Les Miz (2008) and Guys and Dolls (2009), both at the Hollywood Bowl.
Jay-Alexander is a long time board member of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and has directed benefits for the honored organization, as well as other causes he cares about, including animals and no-kill shelters, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Florida, The Actor’s Fund, National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), Broadway Dreams, and Hollywood’s Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF). Most recently he directed the star studded BroadwayWorld celebration.
He is passionate about young talent and teaches workshops and master classes, when possible. For the last few years, he has been the camp director of Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway Bootcamp.
Jay-Alexander began his Broadway career in 1977 as a production assistant on the Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess, produced by Sherwin M. Goldman and the Houston Grand Opera. He also served as a production assistant on the pre-Broadway try out of Nefertiti which starred Andrea Marcovicci and directed by Jack O’Brien.
As a director, writer, and producer his career has taken him around the globe as far away as Alaska and Singapore and from London’s Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall to Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House, The Village Vanguard, Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City, Laxness Arena-Cologne, Germany, The Metropolitan Opera House, The Hollywood Bowl, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theatre, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv, London’s O2 Arena, O2 World Berlin, and just about every other legitimate theatre, nightclub and cabaret in between.
Jay-Alexander has also contributed lyrics to projects for Disney Records. He is a regular contributor to Broadwayworld.com where he is particularly known for a series called “All Eyes On,” interviewing Angela Lansbury, Josh Groban, Sir Ian McKellen, Rose Marie, Bob Avian, Ann-Margret, and Barry Manilow about his Broadway-bound Harmony. He has also authored liner notes for reissues of musicals such as the original, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and four titles from the Stephen Sondheim Columbia Masterworks/Sony canon: Merrily We Roll Along, Into The Woods, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Sunday In The Park With George, giving them context all these years later as to their place in history and with 20-20 hindsight.
He has also worked Bernadette Peters, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Julie Andrews, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga, Sam Harris, Polly Bergen, Russell Watson, Il Volo, Il Divo, Norm Lewis, Laurie Beechman, Debby Boone, Mandy Gonzalez, Mary Cleere Haran, Roslyn Kind, Melissa Errico, Lea Michele, Betty Buckley, Donny & Marie Osmond, Ricky Martin, Well-Strung, Donna McKechnie, Melora Hardin, Jennifer Leigh Warren, and others. His work with Barbra Streisand can be seen on various DVD products or PBS specials including: Streisand: 2006 Tour; Barbra Streisand: One Night Only at The Village Vanguard; Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn; Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic (Netflix).
SLY REVIVED — (via Rolling Stone) Sly Stone, the enigmatic R&B/funk icon, will share his story in a new memoir, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), arriving Oct. 17 via Questlove’s new publishing imprint, AUWA Books.
Stone co-wrote the new book with Ben Greeman, who’s written memoirs with George Clinton, Brian Wilson, and Questlove (he helped the Roots drummer with his three other books, too). Questlove — who’s directing a documentary about Stone — will also pen a foreword for Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).
In a statement, Stone said, “For as long as I can remember folks have been asking me to tell my story. I wasn’t ready. I had to be in a new frame of mind to become Sylvester Stewart again to tell the true story of Sly Stone. It’s been a wild ride and hopefully my fans enjoy it too.”
Born Sylvester Stewart, Stone’s music career began when he was a child, singing in a gospel quartet with his siblings. In the Sixties, he worked as a radio DJ in the Bay Area, forming various soul groups, including the extremely successful Sly and the Family Stone. The group’s debut,A Whole new Thing, arrived in 1967, and that same year they released their first major hit, “Dance to the Music,” which anchored the band’s second album. Between 1967 and and 1982, Sly and the Family Stone released 10 albums, including classics like Stand! and There’s a Riot Goin; On.
But after the dissolution of the Family Stone, Stone struggled to find success as a solo artist while simultaneously battling drug addiction. Though he got sober, he receded from public life, making only sporadic appearances, like the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a performance at the 2006 Grammys. In 2011, Stone released a new solo album, I’m Back! Family and Friends; in 2016, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) is one of several books on the initial slate for Questlove’s new AUWA Books venture. (The Farrar, Straus and Giroux imprint takes its name, by the way, from the bird-call noise Prince used on songs like “Baby I’m a Star” and “Eye No.”) Also on the docket: Questlove’s new book, Hip-Hop Is History, and a book from TikTok star Drew Afualo (both out in 2024).
This is major news for sure. If you’re of a certain age, Sly Stone’s music was the best. The true of story of what actually happened should be cataclysmic. The stories I’ve heard over the years encompass almost everything good and bad about the music industry. I hope the curtain is finally pulled back in this instance.
TICKET TO YOUNG — (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) Count Neil Young among those musicians who blame escalating ticket prices for ruining the concert industry. “It’s over. The old days are gone,” Young declared in a message posted to his Neil Young Archives website. “I get letters blaming me for $3,000.00 tickets for a benefit I am doing. That money does not go to me or the benefit. Artists have to worry about ripped off fans blaming them for Ticketmaster add-ons and scalpers.”
The acclaimed rocker’s message was accompanied by a story about the Cure and their recent battle with Ticketmaster. The ticketing giant earned the scorn of the goth rock band and their fans by adding several fees to ticket prices for the Cure’s upcoming North American tour. In some cases, these “unduly high” fees, as Robert Smith called them, resulted in the actual price of tickets nearly doubling from their face value. Ticketmaster eventually agreed to refund some of the cost.
“Concert tours are no longer fun,” Young opined, pointing to ticket fees and scalpers as the culprit. “Concert tours not what they were.”
Young’s thoughts about ticket prices are the latest in his ongoing list of gripes regarding modern touring. In December, the rocker reiterated his refusal to play at concert venues that use factory farms.
SHORT TAKES — Could Big Blue be coming back? Blockbuster for decades was the go-to spot for DVDs and video-tapes. Stay tuned …I love Keanu Reeves, but I must admit I’ve not seen any of the John Wick movies. Chapter 4 opened this past weekend with a $74 million+ score. Rather amazing in this post-covid period.
I pulled up the trailer and was terrifically impressed by the lush visuals; beautiful music and Reeves and Lance Reddick just sensational. I am thinking of a John Wick-weekend where I’ll watch all 4 … Writer/producer Terry Jastrow arrives in NY this week with his wife actress Anne Archer … Whatever happened to the Madonna biopic? You ask three different people and you get three different answers,. Check this one out from IndieWire: https://www.indiewire.com/2023/03/julia-garner-madonna-biopic-fingers-crossed-1234819696/ …
Personally, I don’t think Garner should do it. Mired in controversy already, could it really be any good? … GUESS WHO DON”T SUE: What up-and-coming metal band is using the name of a high-profile manager to score some Manhattan-gigs? They were going to work with the manager until it blew up. Simply shady if you ask me … btw: whatever happened to Wendy Stuart Kaplan? …
Friday was the last episode (for their inaugural season) of Apple TV+’s Shrinking which has just been so excellent in this its debut season. Jason Segal and Brett Goldstein have come up with the best show on streaming yet. Infectiously good and the acting turns from Segal and Harrison Ford are off the charts. The show culminated in a wedding for best-friend Brian (Michael Urie) and ended with a call-back to the show’s very first scene. Remember it? Truly a one-of-a-kind show. We loved it … I’ve heard at least 4 stories on the news this weekend about composting. Is this a hot topic now? Trending is it? … RIP Nicholas Lloyd Webber
NAMES IN THE NEWS –— Alex Salzman; Rob Petrie; Anthony Pomes; Terry Jastrow; Tyrone Biljan; Jacqueline Boyd; Bill McCuddy; Brad LeBeau; Nile Rodgers; Nancy Hunt; Steve Leeds; Terri Epstein; Brenda K. Starr; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; William Schill; Robert Funaro; Vinny Pastore; Maureen Van Zandt; Tricia Daniels; and ZIGGY!
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sweeney Todd’s New Cast
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