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The Jesus Christ Superstar Tour Rocks Flat



The In-Person Toronto Experience: Work Light/Regent’s Park’s Jesus Christ Superstar – 50th Anniversary Tour

Aaron LaVigne and the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

Jesus Christ Superstar, the big rock musical that defies explanation (just try explaining and convincing someone who has never heard of it before of this show’s Rock Starry magnificence. It ain’t easy!), made its 50th Anniversary tour way onto Mirvish’s Princess Of Wales Theatre‘s beautiful wide stage. I was thrilled, especially because I was seeing it with one of my oldest friends, the one that I probably discovered (or embraced) the glorious concept album with, listening to it over and over again for most of my Toronto university years in that wonderful Vaughan Road apartment we shared so many many years ago. That album, as well as EvitaPhantom, and Cats…yes, I must admit it, Cats.

Back in the day, we were obsessed with that 1970 concert album and the subsequent 1973 film directed by Norman Jewison, hypnotized and fascinated by the soaring vocals and heighten dramatic flair of this tale. Well, at least I was. It was heavenly and unearthly, but not a story I knew well. Truth be told, all my religious upbringing and teaching around the story of Jesus and his crucifixion was basically encapsulated within that record sleeve (for those of you who remember records and the sleeves they come protected in). The story that this particular musical told was really my only guide. Not the greatest (nor the worst) teacher to be enlightened by, but in my upbringing, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were the ones I had at my disposal, and for that, I am eternally thankful. Amen.


The present-day tour, formulated around the acclaimed Regent’s Park Theatre London outdoor staging by Work Light Productions, was and is an unstoppable experience driving the music forward with a powerful rock stance, thanks to music supervisor Tom Deering (Regent’s Park’s Little Shop of Horrors). Literally. For good and/or bad, the show has taken its name very seriously, maybe even too much, embracing all of the core values of the 1970 studio album and broadening it for the wide stage like a high voltage rockstar show. Tightening the piece to a one-act rock fest, the production flies forward with a vengeance, capitalizing on the intense soaring guitar sounds and heightening the energy all around. It spotlights the superstar aspects, giving center stage to the idolatry of the lead rock star dynamic. It’s a shame the overall effect isn’t as satisfying as it could or should have been. Even with all that misplaced glitter, – I don’t get, in any way, shape, or form, the throwing of glitter during the flogging – it seems so terribly disrespectful and minimalizing something that should be tense and horrendously upsetting. I just couldn’t understand it…. – this production doesn’t actually enliven the overall event, even with all that kinetic activity on stage, but ultimately leaves us wanting much more of an emotional punch and a deeper sense of connection.

The music, by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, alongside the deft lyrics of Tim Rice, is as exciting as always, finding fire in the rifts and energy in the dynamics that drive the well-known religious story forward to its inevitable end. I must admit that I was truly eager to see the iconic stage musical live. It has been a long time coming, ever since the imperfect but dynamic Stratford Festival Broadway transfer in 2012. I had just recently watched with glee the show on the small screen last year, streaming the “Live in Concert” production by NBC, and was equally thrilled that same holiday weekend to be given the opportunity to watch the 2012 O2 staged version from the UK courtesy of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel. Both were completely exhilarating and satisfying to this JCS junkie in their own particular ways and means. Neither were perfect, although the O2 production came pretty darn close. I was hoping, to be honest, that when I was asked if I wanted a ticket for this touring production, that the show was based on that O2 production, but when I learned it was not, I wasn’t discouraged. After some online research, I was quite content to learn that the show was coming from an acclaimed and award-winning Regents Park revival (Evening Standard Award winner, Best Musical; Olivier Award winner, Best Musical Revival). So we four entered that lovely Toronto theatre with high hopes, ready to be thrilled and moved. And we were, but not as wildly as I had hoped. 

Aaron LaVigne and Tommy Sherlock in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

The energy of this JCS is dynamic, I will give it that. Especially in the first third of the production, when it stomps forward with a wild abandonment, thanks to the energetic choreography by Drew McOnie (Broadway’s King Kong). The lead dancer center stage draws us in, and plants us solidly within the conflicts of the story. It’s clear that this production is not trying to re-create the acclaimed feel of the movie, but, as directed by Timothy Sheader (Regent’s Park’s Into the Wood), this Jesus Christ Superstar is standing tall in a rock star spotlight. It sings with force at a microphone stand, demanding our attention as if we truly are at an arena rock concert, much like the Alanis Morissette concert I saw at Radio City years ago. It’s a strong wide-legged Superstar stance, initially and at certain moments throughout, but unfortunately for the show and for us, that’s about all this production has in its creative arsenal. 

The choreography starts to melt into one another, feeling completely repetitive and tiresome by the end. This is particularly true when it comes to that lead dancer who really started to get on my nerves as she kept taking center stage and doing the same thing over and over again. It felt like we were watching her in a strange loop, as if she was an annoying tweaked-out groupie at the same Alanis concert dancing and dancing in the aisle, unable to realize she was blocking the view of the stage for all the others in attendance. Living her hallucination all inside her head, I just wanted to tell her to stop, and sit down. It seems that the director and the choreographer didn’t have much else to offer up. No shifts in tone for different characters or situations, bringing down the high priests to a level of ridiculousness with every hip-thrusting formulation. The power dynamics were off, and the subtleties gave way to the bigger concept, leaving us getting more and more bored by the repetitive visuals which, to be honest, started out so uplifting.

in Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

The same can be said of the lead singers and performers, it pains me to say. Each and everyone started out strong, singing intensely and very movingly into their ever exchanging microphones. It gave me high hopes to see where this was going within the Rock Superstar concept, only to find myself disappointed and antsy that we were already given everything they had to give before the first half was even over.

I actually didn’t get to see the heavily promoted lead, Aaron LaVigne the night I went, but rather caught the understudy, Pepe Nufrio (Madrid’s El Primer Dia de Nuestras Vidas). The very handsome young actor took on the role of Jesus, which unfortunately for us was a big shame. He definitely wasn’t up to the task, as I hear LaVigne is. Nufrio certainly has a very powerful full-range voice, hitting all the high notes with clarity and a rock star vision, especially in the first half. But his acting and his personality choices started to fall flat. It was an odd experience, to find yourself thinking of Jesus as an unlikeable, pompous poser strutting around oblivious of those around him. He was truly playing the part as if he was a rock star, which I get, but his narcissistic connection to the other actors and the characters they were playing was pretty non-existence, and his engagement to the audience boarded on arrogance or just plain nonchalance. I blame inexperience, or maybe the director’s vision. 

Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

On the other hand, Judas, portrayed strongly by Tyrone Huntley ([title of show]) was about the best thing the show had to offer, pulling us in with his soaring vocals and non-stop energy. Once again, he proved that the part is really the center of this musical. The odd thing was that Huntley is himself a replacement as the previous Judas was charged and in trouble with the U.S. authorities for his involvement in the January 6 uprising in D.C. and not allowed to leave the country. Huntley swooped in for the Canadian dates, hitting all the right notes, and delivering the heart of the show with aplomb. Jenna Rubaii (Broadway’s Groundhog Day) as Mary, on the other hand, started out strong with lovely caressing vocals, but quickly de-evolved into something quite flat and unremarkable. She sang the core song of Mary’s well, but it was void of any tender emotion or connection. I think I even spaced out a bit, dreaming of Mel C, who found a detailed loving engagement within her streetwise Mary Magdalene in the O2 production. [Check out her “Everythings Alright” and be grateful for the gift of former Spice Girl, Mel C. and her dynamic costars.]

The mic drop of Tommy Sherlock (West End’s Wicked) as Pilate is a fun inventive touch that added to his strong performance and the modernized edge of rock stardom portrayed here. But the rest of the characters, including Caiaphas as portrayed by Alvin Crawford (Broadway’s The Lion King); Tyce Green as Annas; Eric A. Lewis as Simon; Paul Louis Lessard as Herod; Tommy McDowell as Peter; were never really given the formulations to make a strong unique statement for themselves, other than background players to the lead. Ultimately, this touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar is a one-concept wonder, with a pretty impressive set up by scenic, hair, and costume design Tom Scutt (Broadway’s King Charles III) that faltered in the final round becoming too flimsy for the moment. What was up with that make shift little cross? No amount of fancy lighting within the impressive lighting design by Lee Curran (Broadway’s Constellations) could heighten that moment. With a high voltage sound design by Keith Caggiano & Nick Lidster, the show ultimately lacked the emotional engagement to revitalize the love and excitement within. It’s sung very well, but without internalized energy or heart. And without that tender connection, it’s just a loud rock concert of a concept album, played without meaning or engagement. Better to stay home and stream.

Jesus Christ Superstar. Photo by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade.

For more from Ross click here

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to


The Glorious Corner



G.H. Harding

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.

Burt Bacharach

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! 

Micky Dolenz on KTLA

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: 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

The Morning Show

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

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: Roger Whitaker

David McCallum

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!

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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.

Eli Marcus, Suzanna Bowling

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.

Billy J. Ray, Ira Siegel

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

Michael Bellusci, gives Ringo a run for his money on the drums.

Tony Garofalo

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.

Alan LeBoeuf, Ira Siegel

Alan LeBoeuf, Ira Siegel

Alan LeBoeuf

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

Tickets are $65.45

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The Glorious Corner



G.H. Harding

WENNER TAKES A DOWN —Jann Wenner always speaks his mind and this week he may have overstepped just a bit. In an interview that ran in the New York Times about his new book called Masters, he quite openly said that there were no black or R&B artists in it, because they were not able to articulate properly. I know, I felt the same way reading that. Minutes later, he was let go by the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he helped start with Ahmet Ertegun way back in 1983.

Ahmet Ertegun

His Like A Rolling Stone autobiography book was quite an indulgent read last year, but Wenner has in the last several years suffered several health set backs and it was pointed out that he may not be in his right mind. Still, he should have spoken way more carefully. I’ve known Wenner for decades and trust me, he feels he’s way entitled, and that said, you can rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of people (and former employees) waiting to take him down.

The sad fact is that most of the accusations are true. That said, let’s face it Rolling Stone magazine in it’s heyday was a miraculous outlet for so much music and terrific journalism – from Ben Fong-Torres to Hunter Thompson and Jann himself .. it was distinguished. Now, he may have killed it all.

Rolling Stine magazine Monday posted this – essentially disowning his from the magazine: “Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world. At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”

Here’s the report from Deadline:

FILE – Drew Barrymore attends the Time100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at Frederick P. Rose Hall, April 26, 2023, in New York. The National Book Awards dropped Barrymore as the host for this year’s ceremony, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, a day after her talk show taped its first episode since the Hollywood writers strike began. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

DREW’S BLUES — Boy, what did Drew Barrymore ever do to deserve the treatment she’s been through with the media. Sure, her ideas to bring back her daily-chat fest was a good one, for the right reasons, but everyone from Rosie O;’Donnell to the trade papers have bounced on her like madmen. I never met her, don’t hate her, but really … let’s get back to something real, like these Russell Brand-accusations!

SHORT TAKES — We finally caught David Bryne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love and absolutely loved it. I remember it well when it premiered at the Public Theater way back when and knew they were trying to get it to Broadway. Honestly, I never thought twice about the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos story, but the play was riveting then and it remains now. They’ve outfitted NYC’s magnificent Broadway Theater with disco-balls galore and club-lighting and the immersive experience is terrific. Here’s a great re-cap of the play’s evolution from Theatre Guide:

Chris Carter and Micky Dolenz – Breakfast With The Beatles

Micky Dolenz appeared on Sunday’s Breakfast With The Beatles with Chris Carter (on KLOS) and talked about his new Dolenz Sings R.E.M. on Glenn Gretlund’s 7a Records. He also talked about his time with The Beatles and John Lennon. Carter also played a mash-up of Monkees and Beatle-songs which was done in England and it was superb. Here’s a shot from the event at LA’s Hard Rock Cafe on Highland and Hollywood Blvd. … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Benny Harrison at Monday’s Cutting Room tribute to Burt Bacharach … RIP Sammy Ash …

Jimmy Buffet

I’ve been thinking the best way to describe Jimmy Buffet and I saw this headline in LA Magazine: leisure evangelist– and it fits perfectly …

Happy Bday Donnie Kehr and Richard Branciforte.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash: Robbie Robertson; Carol Ruth Weber; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Andrew Gans; Kathy Brown; Roger Clark; Chris Boneau; Tricia Daniels; Dan Zelinski; Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Gil Friesen; Donna Dolenz; Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash; and ZIGGY!

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The Glorious Corner



STRIKE UPDATE— (Via TV Line) “9-1-1, what’s your TV emergency?” The dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes need to be resolved by the end of this month if scripted primetime fare such as 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady are to return with new episodes in the 2023-24 TV season, says Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn.

When last we tuned in, 29 days ago, the WGA had countered the AMPTP’s latest offer; no next meeting has been scheduled. Things are proceeding even slower on the SAG-AFTRA front. Sources tell TVLine that it will take scripted shows roughly eight weeks to get back into production once the strikes are resolved.

 “You’re going get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.

If the strikes are resolved later than October 1, that’s where difficult scheduling decisions will have to be made.

“If that means the [delayed scripted] show could work and succeed in the summer [of 2024], great,” Thorn said. Or, “If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports” to promote/launch scripted seasons, “we’ll do that.

“You could use October 1 as the date” by which the writer and actor strikes need to be settled,” Thorn added. “Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder, ‘Is that the best time?’” to premiere a season/series

Fox’s fall TV slate features one full night of scripted animated fare (on Sundays), while the rest of the week is rife with multiple Gordon Ramsay cooking competitions, new seasons of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, Name That Tune and The Masked Singer, 9-1-1: Lone Star reruns, the new, David Spade-hosted Snake Oil game show, and, of course, Friday Night SmackDown.

But whenever the magical day comes for live-action scripted fare to return to our screens, “we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” Thorn avowed. “We really pride ourselves on ‘less is more’ and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”

Several columns back we posited that the strike might just be settled by Labor Day .. and we were lambasted with emails from a scattering of actors, writers and below-the-line talent that it would not be. They were right. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Is it? Let’s all make nice and good back to work.

SHORT TAKES — As you may know the Toronto Film Festival has been going on and the two films that have received the most buzz are the Paul-Simon/Alex Gibey doc,

Michael Keaton

In Restless Dreams and Knox Goes Away starring Michael Keaton, who also directs, with Al Pacino, can’t wait to see both. Bravo! …The latest episode of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building was just OK. So far, this third season has totally underwhelmed us. We said a few columns back it was most likely due to the fact that Martin hasn’t written any of the episodes so far. Why? I have no idea. Matthew Broderick played himself, but with a little more anxiety than usual, but the real highlight of this episode was a video-phone call between Martin Short and Mel Brooks. Irresistibly funny … Hard to believe that it’s the 25th anniversary of MTV’s ground-breaking TRL Live (Total Request Live).

Carson Daly

Carson Daly did a nice remembrance on Thursday’s Today Show, even citing John Norris and Kurt Loder, who were key correspondents. They taped many of the shows at NYC’s long-gone Palladium (now an NYU dorm), but many, many memories come to mind; Hall & Oates rehearsing in their dressing room

Debbie Gibson at Z100 on The Morning Zoo

and running into Debbie Gibson is one. Daly pointed out -and rightly so- TRL was a fan-driven show, where viewers had to request what to hear. These days I guess it’s just a download. Much missed for sure …

Carrie Underwood

Funny watching Carrie Underwood this morning; as she she reminded me so much of Shania Twain. from the music, to her visuals. As always, her “Before He Cheats” is tremendous and a big crowd pleaser … It’s a funny world for sure.

RL Stine

When RL Stine’s Goosebumpsfirst debuted in 1992, it was heralded as refreshingly new, both for the kid-demo and its brilliance. There were a few attempts at a series (even with Stine introducing them) and even a movie in 2015 that did just so-so. Now, with Netflix’s Stranger Things having hit a home run, Disney+ is starting a series, with Justin Long, that appears to veer dangerously close to Stranger Things. Also, oddly enough, Stine does not appear to be involved with it. He says: “I wish I knew something about it. I’m not in the loop. It looked to me like they weren’t going to do an anthology show. They were going to do something different that was some kind of continuing story. That’s what it appeared. But I have no information about it.” It begins on October 31. Have a look at the trailer:

Seeing Here Lies Love Saturday night, can’t wait …

Mary Wilson and Bernie Taupin

Great Bernie Taupin interview on NY Live with Sara Gore. They’re friends, so the interview as sensational. Check it out:

Love Bernie and Sara! …Happy Bday Randy Jones and Amy Billings!

NAMES IN THE NEWS —Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Alison Martino; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Jane Blunkell; Roger Friedman; Felix Cavaliere; Dan Mapp; Jim Kerr; Sam Rubin; Liz White; Grace Mendoza; Roy Trakin; and ZIGGY!

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Monkee-Micky Dolenz Sings REM On New Release



G.H. Harding

Monkee-Micky Dolenz is an American entertainer, best known for his role as the lead vocalist and drummer in the 1960’s series The Monkees. As a recording group, The Monkees sold more than 65 million albums worldwide and outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones during 1967.

Micky Dolenz

The EP features fresh and completely new arrangements of some of R.E.M.’s most memorable and catchy songs. As Dolenz says: “Once again, this EP reaffirms my long-held conviction that a solid recording always begins with solid material. You don’t get much more solid than R.E.M. What a joy to sing these classics and honor a team of outstanding writers.”

7A Records’ CEO Glenn Gretlund adds: “R.E.M. and Micky Dolenz are a match made in heaven and I’m delighted with how the recordings have turned out. Micky’s voice sounds better than ever and Christian Nesmith has done a wonderful job in reimagining the arrangements.” The EP is released on 180g Yellow Vinyl, CD and all Digital platforms on November 14th.”

This release follows up the critically acclaimed Dolenz Sings Nesmith (March 2021) album.

The EP release directly coincides with the publication of Micky Dolenz’s latest book: I’m Told I Had A Good Time – The Micky Dolenz Archives, Volume One. Comprised of more than 1,200 rare and unpublished images from Micky’s private collection, this 500-page book includes photos and memorabilia spanning 1945-1978, including hundreds of images Micky shot himself of the other Monkees (Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith) as well as Jimi Hendrix, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alice Cooper and many more.

The book (available in three distinct editions) can be preordered now from

A digital single from the EP, “Shiny Happy People,” is released today and available now on all major Digital Platforms.

 R.E.M. Reactions to the EP:

“These songs are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. Micky Dolenz covering R.E.M. Monkees style; I have died and gone to heaven. This is really something. ‘Shiny Happy People’ sounds INCREDIBLE (never thought you or I would hear me say that!!!). Give it a spin. It’s wild. And produced by Christian Nesmith (son of Michael Nesmith), I am finally complete”. Michael Stipe

“That voice—one of the main voices of my musical awakening—singing our songs… it is beyond awesome. Let’s help make this as huge as we possibly can. I am beyond thrilled.” Mike Mills

“I’ve been listening to Micky’s singing since I was nine years old. It’s unreal to hear that very voice adding new depth to songs we’ve written ourselves, and inhabiting them so completely.” Peter Buc

“I am blown away! Micky and Christian just take these tracks to unexpected places”. Scott McCaughey 

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