"The Sound of Music" choir of film stars

"The Sound of Music" choir of film stars

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Ken Gehrig Limelight Theatre & Film Society presents "THE SOUND OF MUSIC" @ the AMC Theatre in Burbank

The Ken Gehrig Limelight Theatre & Film Society is hosting another one of their wonderful events at the AMC Theatre in Burbank, CA - located at 77 N. 1st Street.

A beautifully-digitized edition of director Robert Wise's classic 1965 feature film (and definitely NOT a sing-along version) will be screened on:


March 29th, 2014

10 AM

$15.00 per person

RSVP to kengehrig@yahoo.com

50 years ago (on March 29, 1964), the classic movie musical commenced filming on the 20th Century Fox lot.

The AMC Theatre provides free parking, and should be a comfortable temperature (with snacks available in the lobby).  Meanwhile, too, the early screening will be less cost-prohibitive (and there WILL be an intermission).

A raffle for some special items will also be held, as will possibly a potential silent auction (which will benefit the Robert Urich Foundation, founded by Heather Menzies Urich - one of the film's stars).

Hope to see you there! 


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why Johnny Carson was and always will be the best host of "The Tonight Show"!

As a page for NBC in Burbank from May 1984 to December 1985, I worked on several shows that became classics, including The Golden Girls, Family Ties, and more.

No show was more exciting to be involved with – sometimes on a daily basis, than The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

Mr. Carson has been called the “King of Late Night TV” – and there’s a reason for that.
It’s because that’s what he was – and remains.

No TV talk show host, past, present or future of The Tonight Show, or any ”chat” program, of late night or daytime - possessed the style, grace, elegance, humor and sophistication of Johnny Carson.

But the main reason why he was the ultimate talk show host is because he actually allowed his guests to talk.

Go figure, right?  A talk show granting his guest time to speak.

Mr. Carson opened the show with his monologue, maybe did a few skits here and there (i.e. “Carnac, the Magnificent”), and then his line-up of guests would commence their time on the sofa, one by one…sometimes all remaining together on that sofa until the show’s closing credits.

There was comedy, but nothing obnoxious.  There was a gracious audience (that the NBC pages kept in check); and there was no loud screaming or fist-pumping.

The audience was never allowed to touch Mr. Carson or shake his hand in any which way.  His desk on stage was positioned somewhat distantly from the studio audience, and everyone was okay with that – because he was the “star”…when being a “star” meant having class.  Not arrogance, but class.

He’d joke with his guests; and laugh with them, but never at them.  He never insulted his guests, and he always made sure they’d shine, specifically young comedians who were just starting out; or who he thought was an amazing talent.

Suffice it to say, he showed respect for his guests, and ultimately his TV audience – and his studio audience (his “Stump the Band” segment, which I was honored enough to “co-host” with him one night, remains a classic “skit history”).

In short, Johnny Carson was not only the ultimate talk show host, but was the ultimate host, period - and there will never be another one like him anytime soon – or ever.

Cheers to you, Johnny – for all the entertainment, laughs, and again – just plain class that you brought to the world of late night television - and beyond.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Tribute to Legendary Casting Director Marvin Paige

A memorial service for legendary casting director Marvin Paige was recently held at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

Marvin, who passed away on November 13, 2013, was one of the true believers in classic Hollywood, and cast everything from TV's groundbreaking Combat series in the 1960s to being responsible for having Elizabeth Taylor make her monumental appearance on General Hospital (on which he served as casting director from 1980 to 2006).

In fact, it was Marvin who cast me on General Hospital, which became my first professional acting job - a moment that clearly changed my life.

It was also Marvin who was there for me when my father passed away in 1995. 

I'll never forget it.  We dined at the old Hamburger Hamlet at the winding corner of Sunset in Beverly Hills.  In the midst of my grief, it was Marvin who encouraged me to continue my pursuits in the  industry because, as he said, "It's what your father would want you to do."

That's the type of guy Marvin was; no fair-weather friend was he.  Marvin was the real deal and it is no mystery why he leaves behind such a gaping hole in Hollywood, and why hundreds of colleagues and clients turned up at his memorial to pay their respects to someone who deserved it, ten-fold.

God bless you, Marvin - and thank you for every great Light you brought to Hollywood - and may YOUR star continue to shine in Heaven just as brightly as did - and still does - on Earth.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Would Anyone Hire Ricardo Montalban Today?

I recently caught an episode of the classic TV show, The Name of the Game, which originally aired on NBC from 1968 to 1971.  It was one of the more unique programs of its time.  The series was like an anthology show, but it wasn't.  There were three different main stars:  Robert Stack, Gene Barry and Tony Franciosa, each of whom had their own storyline, but yet all were connected by a Los Angeles publishing company.

The segment that I viewed featured Robert Stack as the editor of this one particular publication that was linked with the main organization.  The same episode also featured the multi-talented Ricardo Montalban in a guest-starring role.

As I'm watching the segment, I'm thinking, "Mmmm...there's the great Ricardo Montalban, years before he found fame on TV as the mysterious Mr. Roark on ABC's 70s/80s Saturday night hit Fantasy Island; and right around the time he was also guest-starring in his original incarnation as Kahn on the first Star Trek TV episode, 'Space Seed - decades before he reprised the role for the hit 1982 feature film, Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn."

While filming The Name of the Game and the original Star Trek, Montalban (who passed away in 2009) was approximately fortysomething. 

Years later, when he played Roark and returned to the role of Kahn he was in his late 50s and early 60s.

Each time, however, he was also Latino - and disabled, with one artificial leg.

Would such a man find work today on television or in a feature film?

Would any network or film studio hire a senior minority with a disability?

Most doubtfully - and most sadly, probably not.

In the early 2002, I had the great privilege of attending a special 20th Anniversary Paramount studio screening of The Wrath of Kahn, hosted by the film's genius director, Nicholas Meyer, and featuring a special guest appearance by Montalban who was, by then, in a wheel-chair.  But his increased disability did not detract from his amazing charisma and "A"-bility to connect with his multitude of admirers.

It was a wonderful moment in entertainment history; and a moment that will never be repeated again...on several levels.

So, here's to you, Ricardo - and the trailblazing performances that you set forth for decades with your diverse talents and charms - the likes of which Hollywood will mostly never see - or appreciate again.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Rudolph" Does It Again!

Anyone who reads this or any of my blogs or posts (at www.MediaBizbloggers.com or www.TVWriter.net) knows of my fondness for the classic TV Christmas special, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed-Reindeer."

I have written at length about its many wonderful moments and life-lessons, one of which, however, I have not yet addressed and will do so now:

Shortly after Rudolph arrives on the Island of Misfit Toys, with his friends, Yukon Cornelius (the arctic prospector) and Herbie/Hermie (the elf who wants to be a dentist), he believes he must venture out on his own to fulfill his destiny.  And he does so by breaking off a piece of land-ice, and using it as a drift-device to carry him on his way through the artic sea.

[I call his friend "Herbie/Hermie" because the name actually changes from the first half of the show to the second; it was a mishap in the production that has been documented by those associated with the special.  But for the sake of this post, I will from here on in refer to him as "Hermie."]

As Rudolph drifts across the frigid waters, he wistfully bids farewell to his dear friends, saying, "Goodbye, Cornelius.  I hope you find lots of tinsel.  Goodbye, Hermie.  Whatever a dentist is....I hope someday you will be...the greatest."

It is by far one of the most poignant moments in the entire special...and it says so much about Rudolph's touching and massive heart...leaving each of us, of course, with food for thought....especially what he says to Hermie:

Without understanding in the least anything about Hermie's intended profession, Rudolph only wants the best for his friend.  Not only does Rudolph want Hermie to succeed...to find his joy...to find his bliss...but he wants Hermie to be the BEST at what he aspires to be.

It's such an inspiring moment...and a telling lesson for us all:

To be happy for others...to wish only the best for our friends and family members...to send only good thoughts for increase and happiness of every kind.

What a true mark of integrity...what a true sign of well-wishing...what a true and joyous way to live.

Thank you, again, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," for your continued insight, all the magic you bring to television year after year - and for being the perfect representation of just how wonderful a medium television has the power to be.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Classic TV Preservation Society stands firm against bullying of any kind

A heart-breaking article about a bullied young-boy who killed himself was published in this morning's edition of The Los Angeles Times (which see link below).
Unfortunately, this is only one example of the horrific outcome of bullying.
As a child, and into my teens, I myself experienced bullying...usually by jealous, insecure, hurtful, mean-spirited and ignorant peers.
Thank Heaven, I had found the beyond-my-years inner-strength to the deal with a constant barrage of insults on what at times became a daily basis.
The young man in this article, and so many more young people like him - of all heritages, beliefs, cultures and creeds, was not as fortunate.
As the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation, my nonprofit that seeks to close the gap between popular and education (and which is now in the process of formally receiving its 501(c)3 status), I pledge to work diligently to eliminate the conditions that have lead to the alarming increase of teen suicides that result from bullying.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Classic TV’s “Twilight Zone” Comes To Crazy-Good-Life On Stage in “Unscripted”

Upon viewing a few “live episodes” of “The Twilight Zone Unscripted,” the theatre-goer not only gets the eerie feeling they’ve actually stepped into (and are seated in front of) The Twilight Zone but that they’re also in on the joke – and it’s funny.  Make that “very funny!”

With its uniquely improvisational take on the genius classic TV series created by Rod Serling, “Unscripted,” presented by the renown Impro Theatre Acting Troup  (at Garry Marshall’s beautiful Falcon Theatre in Burbank), delivers in all areas.
The audience actually becomes unhinged on the edge of their seats not so much because no one (including the theatre-goers and the actors) knows not what’s to happen next – but because no one is sure the performers on stage will be able to pull it off.

But pull it off they do – beyond a shadow of a doubt – and with a lot of talent.
Day in day out, from September 6 to September 29th, the Impro’s eclectic troupe of thespians of every age (including co-directors Stephen Kearin and Jo McGinely) present one of the most unique combinative productions to the hit the live stage in years.  In keeping with the on-going interest in all things pop-culture, and classic television in particular -  and to paraphrase the opening thematic lines of another great TV classic (in the guise of Star Trek), “The Twilight Zone Unscripted” takes the audience where no audience has gone been before.  And they keep on doing it, in four different ways, every night.

Upon topic and plot suggestions made from the audience and welcomed by the cast, “The Twilight Zone Unscripted,” and its optimum performers work like a well-oiled machine on its first run.  Every night is opening night and the nervous energy that actors crave to deliver the goods finds its proper way into the very core of the performers.  Shining bright with clarity and obvious joy for their work the “Unscripted” members deliver the goods, one after the other.  Edi Patterson, Dan O’Connor, Ryan Smith, Michele Spears and Floyd VanBuskirk each sizzle in their own gifted way with the right amount of balanced creativity, energy, on-the-spot ingenuity and just plain charm that improvisational acting requires.   Add to that the combined cast’s personal affection for The Twilight Zone TV series and all that it’s become (since its original CBS run from 1959-1964), and the audience is guaranteed a once-in-a-life-time ride that, unlike the television show, will never be repeated again.  
Submitted with 100% approval: “The Twilight Zone Unscripted” is must-see TV - live - on stage!