Thursday, December 01, 2016

Top Single Puts Warwick Back On The Track Again


Posted: February 09, 1986

I never thought I'd be saying this, but this is a good time for middle-of- the-road pop music. The number-one album in the country is Barbra Streisand's The Broadway Album, a release that even diehard rockers can appreciate for Streisand's artistic integrity and vocal power. Better she should be tearing through show tunes, says this rock fan, than laying waste to rock-and-roll songs, as she has done in the past.

The number-one single in the country is "That's What Friends Are For," credited to "Dionne and Friends," which is actually Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John. This single, the proceeds of which will be donated to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, is easily pop's finest ballad since "We Are the World," and not just because its profits are going to a noble cause.

"That's What Friends Are For," originally intended as a solo showpiece for Warwick by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, isn't much as a piece of songwriting. The lyric has a self-satisfied banality, and the melody is marred by a nagging singsong quality. The single is the clearest example imaginable of a composition redeemed by its performance.

"That's What Friends Are For" offers something unusual among hits these days - a sense of spontaneity and passion that spills over the edges of the song. As Warwick herself observed recently, "If everyone had merely recorded their part separately and we had edited those tapes together, 'Friends' wouldn't have worked." She's right: The sound of Elton John's hoarse, earnest voice straining to catch up to Warwick's soaring alto, of Stevie Wonder scatting phrases to embellish Gladys Knight's gospel crooning - these are privileged pop moments, ones that assure the listener that there's no room for false sentimentality or undue showboating here.

The Dionne Warwick album from which "That's What Friends Are For" is extracted is entitled simply Friends (Arista), and it is the best, most consistent record Warwick has released in a long time. This is even more impressive when you consider what a mess it might have been: The album employed no less than five sets of producers, and features material written by composers as various as Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow.

This sort of thing usually bespeaks an artist in trouble, so desperate for a hit that she'll try virtually anything to recapture past glories. Warwick has made this mistake more than once. Throughout the 1970s, in fact, her career floundered in attempts to find craftsmen as painstaking and clever as the writers of her greatest hits, Bacharach and Hal David. These early songs can be heard on the recently released The Best of Dionne Warwick (Rhino Records), an extremely well-chosen selection of '60s hits, including "Walk on By," "Say a Little Prayer," "Don't Make Me Over," "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "Alfie."

Warwick's great strength as a singer of middle-of-the-road pop has always been her no-nonsense approach to interpreting a lyric. She enunciates with matter-of-fact clarity, and isn't afraid to exploit the graininess in her voice to denote emotion. Unlike so many of her middle-of-the-road contemporaries, Warwick doesn't make a fetish of vocal purity - she knows that what distinguishes pop singers from, say, opera singers is the willingness to expose the ordinary, conversational quality of a voice. On great, early-period Warwick pieces like "Don't Make Me Over" and "Anyone Who Had a Heart," Bacharach and David built their songs to furious climaxes in which Warwick's low-key reserve broke through to harsh refusals to succumb to romantic despair.

In 1979, Warwick recorded two of her biggest hits after leaving Bacharach and David: Both "Deja Vu" and "I'll Never Love This Way Again" were overseen by, of all people, producer Barry Manilow. This comeback was a measure of Warwick's resourcefulness. Though most other singers of her age (she was born in 1941) would have settled for the easy route of greatest- hits engagements at posh nightclubs and casinos, Warwick has persisted in recording new songs, and in making new hits that don't cater to the reigning pop trends.

Friends, featuring Manilow as a producer on one track, harks back to this era of Warwick's singing: Coolly controlled performances of nice, if lightweight, pop ballads. "Stronger Than Before" and "Whisper in the Dark" evince the strong, assertive Warwick of old.

It doesn't hurt, of course, that Warwick's style of contemplative pop is back in favor with the public at the moment. Not so coincidentally, one of the prime new exemplars of this style is Warwick's niece, Whitney Houston, whose debut album, released last year, won raves and record sales for precisely the sort of unpretentious, understated command on which her aunt has built her reputation. Friends suggests, however, that no one should count this veteran out of the pop race.


Source: Posted: August 03, 1987


Here's a fable for our time:

There's this beautiful blond young woman who wants more than anything to act. She gets a part in something called "Bachelor Party." The person or persons in charge of that 1984 bow-wow drop her from the cast and tell her she just doesn't look right, not only for this movie but any other. Our woman repairs to her home, feeling worse than awful, hiding out there for the better part of a year.

Well, time goes by, she doesn't give up, and she ends up opposite Harrison Ford in "Witness," and Tom Cruise in "Top Gun," and Timothy Hutton in the forthcoming "Made in Heaven."

Kelly McGillis' current problem is that she can't stop. She's working like a maniac for fear it'll all go up in a puff of smoke if she takes a coffee break.

"I can't just lie on a beach," she tells Marilyn Beck. "I can't go off and relax. I hate not working."


In her next movie, Jodie Foster, who hasn't been seen much lately, will be starring with Kelly McGillis in an as-yet-untitled story about a smart-mouth gang-rape victim (Foster) and the yupped-out DA (McGillis) who prosecutes the case.


"We are loud. We are crazy. But we are harmless."

- Paula Smolenski of Niles, Ill., at the Barry Manilow International Fan Club convention in Washington.


"I think that he is a smiling, pleasant man who is not an evil man, but I think that he is yesterday's statesman and he's given aging a bad name."

- Liz Carpenter, the Texas piece of work best known for having been Lady Bird Johnson's press secretary, on Ronald Reagan.


Forget jeans and gum - the Russkis have wised up enough to make that stuff themselves. The hot Western commodities Muscovites would kill for these days are music videos and Reeboks. The latter fetch $80 a pair in a city where the average income is $386 a month. "Considered priceless," USA Today writes, ''(they) are seldom sold by those fortunate enough to buy them from tourists."


Peter and Shera Falk have reconciled for the fifth time in their nearly decade-old marriage. She came running onto the set in Peru, threw her arms around him and next thing you know, there they were renewing their vows in a snowfield in the Andes.

It is over between Gloria Steinem and Mort "U.S. News & World Report" Zuckerman romance-wise, but they're still palling around. He, meanwhile, has Jackie O. on his back. She's heading a coalition opposing the twin skyscrapers he wants to build near Columbus Circle in New York.


Ringo's sons, Zak and Jason, have been playing together in London and want to put together a rock 'n' roll band.

Kiefer Sutherland, 20, son of Donald, currently in the nouveau vampire movie "The Lost Boys," is going to marry New Yorker Camilia Kath, 40, in September.

Clark Gable's son by last wife Kay, 26-year-old John Clark, will be making his movie debut in a car racing flick tentatively titled "Baja 1000."


Beverly D'Angelo, who played Patsy Cline in "Coal Miner's Daughter" and who should be a lot more famous than she is, sings and acts in "In the Mood." She plays the Older Woman that true-life '40s Lothario Sonny Wisecarver ran off with when he was only 15.

His friends are putting together a memorial for Jackie Gleason next month at Lincoln Center.


Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai and his brothers Maktoum, Hamdan and Ahmed bought $31 million worth of yearlings at the annual Keeneland race horse sale in Lexington, Ky. "These people are the economic equivalent of a factory in this state, they leave that much money in it," says Nick Nicholson, exec V.P. of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.


Esai Morales, who plays the boozing, broad-ing brother in "La Bamba," says he's an authentic urban ethnic - "Brookyn born, Bronx bred, Queens cultivated and Manhattan maninstreamed." He left home at 13 when his mother wouldn't let him go to the High School of Performing Arts for fear of drugs. He made himself a ward of the state, lived in a home for boys and went to the school that "Fame" made famous until the stage roles started coming. Once too poor for subway fare, he has formed his own company - Richport, which is Puerto Rico in English, backwards.

Pm People

Source: Posted: September 25, 1987


Barry Manilow's autobiography, out next Thursday, trashes him, his mom and Bette Midler, not necessarily in that order.

In "Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise" the king of melodramatic elevator music talks about his own emotional uptightness, his mother's drinking problem and suicide attempts, and characterizes his three years working the Continental Baths in New York with Midler as "every Jewish boy's nightmare come to life."

While Midler's reaction is yet to be recorded, his mother says the book's all right with her, "because that's not how I am now. Because I'm fine now.

Because those are the facts. And because I love my son."


The numbers on the special showing of his "Bad" video were so good that CBS is said to be throwing sepulchres full of money at Michael Jackson, who is thought to be relenting on his previous refusals to do a TV special.


"Kady! Look what Daddy bought for you!"

- Pia Zadora to her toddler daughter, as they walked into Elizabeth Arden in Beverly Hills the other day. Zadora's husband, Meshulam Riklis, has just bought the whole Arden cosmetics empire for $700 million.


Madonna and all her minions are chilling out at movie director Franco Zefferelli's cliffside villa overlooking the Mediterranean at Positano, Italy.


Seen on a movie date in L.A.: teenyboppers Drew "E.T." Barrymore and MacKenzie Astin, son of Patty Duke and John Astin.

Ringo Starr is the chief draw at a promotional party this weekend for the London Brasserie, a restaurant a British restaurant-king friend of his is opening in Atlanta. Little Richard, the Beach Boys, Isaac Hayes and Jerry Lee Lewis are expected to show. Willie Nelson and Rolling Stone Bill Wyman are stockholders, as is Starr.


The ornate Victorian that houses the Sugarbakers' imaginary design shop is in real life the Villa Maree in Little Rock, Ark. "Designing Women" Delta Burke Dixie Carter Annie Potts and Jean Smart are to be there tonight for a benefit to raise money to restore the place.

'Big Fun' With Barry Eager For A Live Love-in, The Fans Of Barry Manilow Flock To His Shore Shows To Laugh At His Jokes, Savor His Songs And Get The Good Feelings From His Rambling Chats About Being Yourself

Source: Posted: February 08, 1988

ATLANTIC CITY — The purple dusk of twilight time steals across the boardwalk of my heart. It takes me away to that time in New England - those long rocky beaches, where we stood like ships that passed in the night.

We smiled and said it's all right.

There are probably ships out there passing in the night, tonight. But it's too darn cold to stand here and look for 'em, and anyway the light from the Popeye's Fried Chicken place makes it hard to see beyond the sand.

Twilight time is long gone. I hunch my shoulders to the sea and face the behemoth hotel-casino called Resorts, where the stretch limos stretch and the crowds crowd in, up the escalator and into the glittering Superstar Theater, where they await Barry Manilow.

And where Barry Manilow's concession stand awaits them: T-shirts, books, buttons and baubles, all plastered with the famous mug (the National Enquirer headline: "I've Got a Big Nose - and I Like It!").

"Yeah, it's going real well," smiles Charlie Robinson, manning the Manilow merchandise Friday night for the first of four shows in town as part of the singer's "Big Fun Tour De Force" tour.

It's going way better than Vegas, reports the concessionaire. Nearly as good as a non-casino Manilow gig.

"There's a lot of people invited by the casinos that are here to gamble more than to see Manilow," Robinson, a member of the road crew, explains. ''But we're doing surprisingly well. He's got a strong following on the East Coast and this is one of the first chances in years to see him."

Robinson can't disclose what "surprisingly well" is. "You'd be surprised how much, though."

The Barry Manilow sweatshirt is $25.

"That's cheap. We do a lot of different acts, and for a lot of them it's $27 or $30. We had to taper it down a bit with the older crowd. They hedge more than the younger kids do."

The three-night stand in Atlantic City, which ended yesterday, is the second leg of the "Tour De Force" tour. It began in Vegas in January and continues into March and St. Louis and Oklahoma City.

It is about to begin here, in the Superstar Theater, where 1,300 folks - from London and New London, from Tokyo and Toledo, from uptown and downtown - sit at their tables. Their faces illumined by quivering candlelight and a million tiny lightbulbs, rimming the tiered room. The 1,300 sit, fingering fat $1 Resorts coins in their pockets, pulling on cigarettes, nursing their Fuzzy Navels and Pina Coladas.

There are a lot of Fuzzy Navels and Pina Coladas. The waitresses tell you that once the show starts, they can't serve drinks. They suggest you double up.

People double up.

It is just past 10 p.m. The lights dim in the glittering Superstar Theater. Back in an aisle, a spotlight finds the glittering superstar himself, carrying a cordless mike and a tune: "I'm Your Man."

He makes for the stage. "I'm what you're waiting for! Here I am! I'm your man!" he sings. His 10-piece band plugs away. The rhythm is up.

He wears a double-breasted pin-stripe jacket, broad at the shoulder and snug at the hip. He wears black tuxedo pants. He wears a white silk shirt. He wears a brooch.

"Hello Atlantic City! What fun you are! What fun you are already!"

Cheers. Yelps. Squeals and screams.

This is the new Barry Manilow, the 41-year-old Brooklyn balladeer who writes the songs that make the whole world sing - "Mandy," "Ships," ''Somewhere in the Night," "Could It Be Magic" (OK, some of them he didn't write) - and who has now incorporated '40s jazz and cabaret into his act.

It's sort of conceptual: There are characters (Mambo Jones, the King of Latin Swing), and there are standards (Barry crooning "Stardust," or making like the Federal Express guy in a fast-talkin' flurry of vocal jazz on the cool classic "Cloudburst").

And there's a sort of musical autobiography, wherein Barry explains how, as a child, his mother made him practice the accordion. A living-room set - replete with plastic-covered furniture and lampshades - is wheeled on and the crooner grabs his accordion and demonstrates how even today's big hits sound like hoary old things on the instrument. To wit, Madonna's "Like a Virgin" becomes a polka.

"Take Madonna," says Barry. "And many would like to" - (beat) - "and many have."

In his entry in Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock-and-Roll, Manilow is termed "a one-man urban melting pot. (His) personality blends Italo-American balladry with Jewish vaudeville shtick, a Brill Building song sense and a dash of cabaret camp."

This is no lie. Especially the part about vaudeville.

At one point, Barry relays an off-color parable about a frozen bird that lands in a pile of cow dung.

It is also no lie that the female population of the glittering Superstar Theater is completely taken with the guy: his humor ("I thank you from the bottom of my heart and the heart of my bottom"), his honesty ("I'm the worst joke teller you've ever heard in your life"), and his hair.

(He himself is taken with his hair: He fluffs it as he wails, "Baby I need you now," and he fluffs it a lot of other times, too.)

"The best thing about being Barry's fan is that you can think of him as your friend," says Doreen Lynne Kline of Brooklyn, who is seated in the first row, along with her camera, her tape recorder and her friend, Lisa Rettig of the Bronx. "There is no wall up there. He doesn't separate himself from his fans like some other entertainers."

This point is eerily illustrated a few moments later when Barry, singing ''Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again" - a song about a romance turned sour - sits at the edge of the stage, his chipmunk features maybe this far (or this close) from a woman in strapless black leather. The woman has a bottle of cognac and a card for Barry. He takes the bottle but misses the epistle. This is very upsetting.

Kline and Rettig, both in their late 20s, got their first-row seats by waiting in line for 24 hours. They would have waited twice that long. They have the same seats for all four of the engagements. They have seen Barry many, many times. Last year, when Barry was signing copies of his autobiography, Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise, in Manhattan, and Rettig was waiting in line outside in the cold, he came by and wrapped his coat around her.

Barry has moved to the piano, teasing the ivories with the intro to "When Will I Hold You Again."

As his fingers meander, so too his thoughts: "Going against the grain is never an easy thing to do. Feeling like a misfit when you're growing up is not the most pleasant experience. But I'll tell you something: If you're wise, when you grow up you can use it to your advantage. You take your weaknesses and you turn them into assets. That's what I try to do.

"I will always be grateful to my family for giving me the support and the encouragement I needed to become an individual."

Wild applause.

It is time for the part of the show where Barry picks a volunteer (female, must know the words) to join him on stage for "Can't Smile Without You." Hands go up all over. "Barry, over here!" "Me!" "Me!"

He descends into the crowd and goes for a dark-haired woman in a dark suit, midway back. Her name is Diane, a graphic artist from Allentown.

He takes her hand, leads her to the stage. She gets her own microphone and the two coo: "You know, I can't smile without you." A videocam documents the duet. Afterward, Barry signs the videotape and gives it to Diane. A memory, captured forever.

"The closest to heaven I'll be for a while," says Diane Kalb, after the concert. She is 23 and has seen Barry perform that many times, plus two.

"The closest to heaven," she repeats.

It is not everyone's idea of heaven. In fact, Manilow precedes his show- stopping medley of hits (like 25 of them) with an apologia. "For those of you dragged here tonight," he smiles, "this medley's going to be agony."

The agony and the ecstasy.

"I've been alive forever. . . . Even now this pain inside of me goes on and on. . . . At the Copa, the Copacabana. . . . Read 'em and weep. . . . Tryin' to get the feeling again, the one that made me shiver, made my knees start to quiver. . . . Doctor, my woman is coming back home late today. . . . Baby I need you now, now, now and hold on fast, could this be the magic at last. . . .

"We dreamers have our ways of facing rainy days, somehow we survive, we keep the feelings warm, protect them from the storm, until our time arrives. . . .

"I kept my world protected, I made it through the rain, I kept my point of view and found myself respected by the others who got rained on too."

Crashing crescendo. Horns, keyboards, drums, guitars, piano.

"I write the sooooooonnnnnnnnnngggggggggs!!!"

Barry pulls the mike away from his face in a flourishing finale. The voice still hangs in the air, powerful.

Barry is bowing, but you can still hear "soooonnnnnnnnnggggggggggs." Then you look around the stage.

It's one of the backup singing guys.

Asimov Brings On A Series, Manilow Swings Into Jazz

Source: Posted: March 07, 1988

Barry Manilow and science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov: What do they have in common? Except, perhaps, that both of them sing "I Write the Songs" (Manilow on stage, Asimov in the shower).

Television, television, television, of course. Tonight, Manilow dips into jazz for the music special Barry Manilow: Big Fun on Swing Street! (Channel 10, 10 p.m.), while Asimov has co-created a new series, Probe (Channel 6, 9 p.m., Thursday nights at 8 after today).

The two-hour premiere of Probe demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of Asimov. The writer, who put together this series with Michael Wagner, is an endlessly clever polymath, author of literally hundreds of books ranging from novels considered to be science-fiction classics to nonfiction examinations of the Bible.

Asimov is brilliantly facile, but in his fiction, characterization has never been his long suit. Accordingly, Probe features cardboard characters who, at their best, make braininess attractive.

Tonight's episode introduces us to Austin James, an endlessly clever polymath who also happens to be as good-looking as actor Parker Stevenson. Stevenson, best known on television as half of The Hardy Boys, crinkles his cute little eyes and expounds glibly on chemistry, biology and computer science - he's television's first sexy hacker.

Austin James' secretary-assistant is Mickey Castle, who has been written as a ditsy doll. But as portrayed by Ashley Crow, Mickey becomes something more - a fully rounded comic creation: a curious, eccentric woman who just happens to fit the TV-series requirement of attractiveness.

Crow's performance is the clear standout of tonight's show, which sets up the series' structure: Police are baffled by a murder, and call in science whiz Austin James. James applies his recondite know-how and, two hours later, the case is closed. There are fewer car crashes than in most such shows, and, because Asimov is involved, the solution to the crime involves amusing variations on basic scientific principles.

And, oh yes, another of Asimov's passions: limericks. Probe is the only show on the air tonight that will feature three pretty good limericks.

Barry Manilow: Big Fun on Swing Street! does not contain a single limerick, but it does include songs with lyrics by George Gershwin and Hoagy Carmichael, so the wordplay is even more impressive.

This hour-long special is the video version of Manilow's recent album Swing Street (Arista), the singer-pianist-arranger's extended homage to the swing jazz that he admires so much. As such, it's a welcome contrast to the treacly contemporary pop ballads that Manilow usually performs.

Tonight's show does without extraneous dialogue - no hokey comedy sketches, no fulsome introductions of the guest stars. Just one song after another, with extended showcases for performers ranging from saxophonist Gerry Mulligan to Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Because Manilow is so generous with the time he offers his guests - Kid Creole (a.k.a. August Darnell) has never had such prime-time exposure for his subtle, witty pop music - Big Fun on Swing Street! is a pleasant way to spend an hour.

But will the fans that make up Manilow's core audience tune in? The Swing Street album didn't even crack the top 40 - a rarity for Manilow. Obviously, most of the same listeners who squeal when he sings "I Write the Songs" weren't interested in their hero's jazz obsession, which makes tonight's special a bit more of a commercial toss-up than usually would be the case with a middle-of-the-road sure bet such as Manilow.

How Fall From Top Could Affect Wmmr

Source: Posted: July 25, 1988

Now that WMMR-FM (93.3) has been deposed as king of the local radio mountain, the obvious question is: What does it mean?

Is the rock monster, slipping in the ratings for a year, in decline? Or is the slip just a glitch?

Some local radio folks think that 'MMR's amazing run, including three years as the city's No. 1 station, could be in jeopardy unless the station freshens its sound and approach. Others say the new No. 1, WUSL-FM (98.9), is going to be a one-time winner. Nobody expects 'MMR to go into a tailspin.

"It's far too soon to write off 'MMR," says Charlie Quinn, program director of Top 40 hotshot WEGX-FM (106.1), one of the stations breathing down 'MMR's neck.

"Good, bad or indifferent, this city loves tradition, and one of those traditions is WMMR. I think the biggest impact this will have is one of image, and that will probably be felt more inside the station than outside."

Chuck Schwartz, WWDB-FM (96.5) general manager, also says losing the top spot will hurt more in terms of image than in ad revenue. Schwartz, like others, is quick to point out that although 'MMR is not No. 1 in terms of total audience, it remains No. 1 among several important demographic groups, including the most sought-after 25- to 54-year-old audience - "target demos," in radio talk - that advertisers want to reach.

"They certainly are not in trouble, but it hurts when you've been No. 1 for so long to fall from that position. It takes a little air out of your balloon."

At least one local media buyer, who places advertising on stations, says 'MMR could be hurt in the pocketbook.

"This will mean more pressure in the marketplace for lower advertising rates at 'MMR," said the buyer. "Where they once were all alone as top dog, commanding top dollar, WYSP and WEGX, among others, have now made inroads. WMMR won't be able to get the same advertising rates anymore."

The major problem facing 'MMR, say the experts, is one of increased competition. There are more good radio stations vying for advertising dollars. But Cherry Hill's Jerry Del Colliano, publisher of the nationally influential Inside Radio newsletter and Radio Only magazine, says 'MMR also has to take a hard look at itself.

" 'MMR's problem is itself," he says. "It is a great station that has to freshen up. It was a trend-setter, and it ought to continue to be a trend- setter. They've got to stop resting on their laurels. . . . I'm telling you, the best defense is a good offense."

At WMMR, general manager Mike Craven isn't blinking: "Basically . . . we are not No. 2 because the real battle is in target demos, and ours are stronger today than they have ever been.

"So from the point of view of rock dominance, WMMR is, to put it mildly, far stronger than it has been in a long time."

SO LONG, STEVE. Despite the poor ratings at sports radio WIP-AM (610), departing morning man Steve Martarano says he is not fleeing a sinking ship.

"I was not unhappy at WIP, I just got a great offer," says Martarano, who plans to leave his home town to join Boston talk station WHDH-AM in mid- August. "It's a great city and a great market. This is a chance for a real stretch for me. I can do pretty much what I want."

Martarano says that if WIP is going to make it, the station will have to attract more than just the hard-core sports fan: "WIP is there, covering sports better than anybody, but you can't keep preaching to the converted."

GOOD DEED. WWDB-FM is helping send a local wheelchair athlete to the Paralympics in Seoul, South Korea, from Oct. 15 to 24.

He's Cherry Hill lawyer Doug Heir, 28, a high school football star and ex- lifeguard who broke his neck 10 years ago when he dove into a swimming pool to save a drowning youngster. These days, Heir competes in the shotput, discus and javelin.

WWDB and Meridian Bank will donate $1 to the Doug Heir Victory Fund for any ticket you buy to a Phillies, Eagles or Sixers game from Ticket Express. Or you can send donations to the Victory Fund at Meridian Bank, Box 7588, Philadelphia 19101.

SHORT STUFF: Given the oldies battle, you've got to wonder why WIOQ-FM's (102.9) Bob Pantano was seen coming out of the WOGL-FM (98.9) offices last week. . . . WKSZ-FM (100.3) has booked Barry Manilow for an invitation-only concert Aug. 19 at the Mann Music Center. . . . WEGX-FM nightime jock Jay Beau Jones and Channel 10 producer Susan Beauchamp tied the knot last weekend.

Manilow Reprises Manilow

Source: Posted: October 03, 1989

The Beatles were simulated, recreated and emasculated on Broadway only after the group broke up.

Elvis' glitzy multimedia reincarnation hit Vegas and Atlantic City more than 10 years after the king's untimely demise.

But Barry Manilow, live and snappy as a beanpole with a lemon-mousse hairdo can be, cheerfully hosted his own artistic wake before an enthusiastic crowd at the Shubert Theater last night.

Manilow's "On Broadway" production, here for a four-night run, could well be titled Barrymania. Like Beatlemania, it's a loosely plotted career retrospective that places its subject's music in a light, biographical setting. Yet somehow, the less-than-earthshaking social significance of Manilow's career seemed unsuited for such a treatment.

Early on, Manilow made his first play for the sentiments of the fortyish crowd, crediting the show's inspiration to John F. Kennedy. Standing before a 25-panel slide projection of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manilow offered the bland Kennedy quote: "We can't know where we're going until we know where we've been."

To paraphrase another popular former president: "We have nothing to fear but schlock itself."

That awkward moment was par for the course as Manilow continually tried for an appeal that was generational but ended up simply generic.

Casually striding through miniature classroom and backstage settings, Manilow mixed his simply constructed, easy-to-sing (even his most ardent fans ought to admit that Manilow's voice, though pleasant, is hardly powerful) tunes with tired, scripted patter.

"When I was 14," quipped Manilow, "I thought if you looked up 'weirdo' in the dictionary, you'd find my picture."

Playing tirelessly on the sweet little geek image he's been using since 1974, Manilow titillated his adoring female fans. First, he'd play the wimp, then make his move musically, sacking the women away with limpid old ballads, including "When Will I See You Again?" and "Mandy," accompanied by a sharp 10-piece band.

In an effort to show that he's grown hip and worldly with his middle-aged fans as they've turned the dial from Top 40 to adult contemporary, Manilow even dabbled in a bit of baby blue humor.

Only in the jazz tune "Cloudburst," with his rapid-fire phrases tumbling over each other like dominoes, did Manilow break free of the show's overall malaise to seem fresh and involved.

Unfortunately, however, the fans were there for stale romance and Manilow was happy to oblige. Rather than follow his more spirited instincts and branch out in lively style, Manilow chose to set his career on a bier.

Arista's 'Golden Boy' To Show Midas Touch At Benefit

Source: Posted: March 17, 1990

To this day, no one is sure they've heard the real story why Clive Davis, golden boy, was fired as president of Columbia Records on May 29, 1973.

Even if all the smoke never settles, though, it is quite clear what rose from the ashes: Clive Davis and his new label, Arista, which itself began in the dust of the Bell label and now celebrates prosperity and record profits as it marks its 15th anniversary tonight with a benefit concert at Radio City.

And these record profits came even before the new Whitney Houston album, due in a few weeks. Nothing like a Whitney Houston album to make a bright profit picture positively glow.

Houston will be singing at the show tonight, too, alongside almost everyone else on the Arista roster: Taylor Dayne, the Eurythmics, Expose, the Four Tops, Kenny G., Hall and Oates, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe, Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, Eric Carmen, the Jeff Healey Band, Jermaine Jackson, Dion, Melissa Manchester, Barry Manilow, Milli Vanilli, Jeffrey Osborne, Ray Parker Jr., Carly Simon, Lisa Stansfield, Alan Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Jennifer Holliday and more.

Melanie Griffith, Chevy Chase, Michael Douglas and Whoopi Goldberg will be among the hosts.

Proceeds from the show, called "That's What Friends Are For" after the 1985 AIDS benefit record, go to the Gay Men's Health Crisis Center and AIDS organizations. With tickets priced $50 to $1,000, and CBS buying the rights for a network TV special, Arista hopes to raise $10 million.

"Each of our lives has been affected by this plague," says Davis. "We will do all we can."

That's not a bad line for Arista Records, either, a major label that tries to keep a small-town attitude.

"We don't have 300 artists," Davis says. "We don't throw 10 out and see if one sticks. I think 62 percent of our releases went top 15 last year - check with Radio & Records. That's the best in the business.

"We spent two years grooming Whitney. If we have established artists who don't write or produce all their own material, we get them the right songs and producers. With Aretha Franklin, that meant introducing her to Narada Michael Walden. We hooked Dionne Warwick up with 'Heartbreaker.' If an artist is self- contained, we may still have some suggestions on the creative end. We convinced Carly Simon to add another chorus onto 'Coming Around Again.' "

OK, it's easy to take credit for what went right, and Davis has never been accused of ultra-modesty. But he does have a pretty good track record.

"I follow everything," he says. He holds up a cassette tape. "We live in Manhattan and don't have a car. We don't hear the radio all the time. So I have tapes made up on all the releases that break on any chart."

He points, with some pride, to plucking three of Arista's hottest acts from dance charts.

"Taylor Dayne only had 'Tell It to My Heart.' Then there was Milli Vanilli, who won a Grammy and three American Music Awards - notwithstanding the fallout from critics who don't care for uptempo dance music. Now we have Lisa Stansfeld, whose new record may be our biggest selling single ever. We signed them all on the strength of 12-inch singles, and now they're selling tens of millions of dollars."

There is, says Davis, an "enormous appetite" for new artists now, and not just in pop/dance music, which is one reason Arista has started a country division, with a bright prospect named Alan Jackson out front.

Davis adds that even though Arista may be best-known for the middle-road likes of Manilow and Houston, "I think some people tend to overlook our strong rock catalogue - the Kinks, Lou Reed, the Grateful Dead, the Thompson Twins. The Alan Parsons Project.

"We started out to be an alternative to the majors, for fans and artists, and I think we still are. Regardless of how much Patti Smith's next album sells, she'll always have a home at Arista."

That sort of personal reference to an artist would not ring true everywhere in the business, but Davis has always tried to remain a mingler and run with the troops as well as his front-office peers. One of the pictures over the desk in his large, cheerfully disordered office shows a casually dressed Davis next to a young Sly Stone.

Right now, he says, he'd be glad to stay at Arista for the rest of his career. The game is just too much fun to leave.

'When we started, we had no way of foreseeing where we'd be today," he reflects. "It's a business that's changing all the time. At one time, when the business was about singles, you could start a company with one record, for maybe $10,000. Then the business became album-oriented, and you had to introduce an artist with an album. So it took at least $250,000.

"On the other hand, today you have the opportunity to create artistson a very large scale right at the beginning of their career. A Taylor Dayne or a Lisa Stansfeld.

"And even when you expect success, you can't tell its magnitude. Before Whitney Houston, the largest-selling album by a black female singer was probably Diana Ross or Dionne Warwick, about 3 1/2 million. Whitney's albums have sold more than 18 million copies each. Who could have guessed? I'd have been delighted with 3 million."

Taj Will Rock; Other Stars To Be Dimmer

Source: Posted: September 07, 1990

Considering that the casino-hotels did not exactly fill their showrooms with flashy, innovative entertainment during the last few months - a time of year when the gambling houses traditionally go all out to lure the waves of summer visitors to the shore - it would be unrealistic to expect much more during the fall/winter season.

And so, with a couple of exceptions, entertainment prospects in Atlantic City for the next several months appear rather bleak.

As far as headliners go, one can generally look for the same names that have been popping up in the showrooms for the last several years. As things stand, the chief exception will be a number of acts due at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

The Taj Mahal has taken advantage of its 5,000-seat Mark G. Etess Arena to bring in such rock-concert acts as Elton John, Santana, Chicago and James Taylor, and will continue to do so in the coming months. The Allman Brothers Band will appear Oct. 26, and while dates are not yet firmed up, scheduled to perform at the Taj Mahal in November are Fleetwood Mac, Little Richard and Basia.

Otherwise, there will be a fair amount of production, specialty and concept shows in the showrooms.

Set to debut on Monday, for instance, is From Broadway to the Boardwalk at the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino. This is a series of shows that will spotlight performers who have had success in Broadway productions for three-week stints on a Monday-through-Thursday basis.

Leslie Uggams, who has appeared in such shows as Anything Goes and Jerry's Girls, will kick off the series Monday and returns for the weeks of Sept. 17 and 24.

Uggams will be followed by Betty Buckley (Cats, Pippin, Mystery of Edwin Drood) the weeks of Oct. 1, 8 and 15; Theodore Bikel (Fiddler On the Roof, Zorba, The Sound of Music), the weeks of Oct. 22, 29 and Nov. 5, and Carol Lawrence (West Side Story and I Do, I Do), the weeks of Nov. 12, 19 and 26.

The Showboat Hotel & Casino, which had considerable success with a late- summer mini-revue, Summer Lightning, starring Clint Holmes, will unveil another small show titled Hooked On Music Monday. This one, which will continue through Nov. 24, will star singer Bobby Arvon and feature pop music favorites from the '50s through the '90s.

Even the Sands Hotel Casino will take a break from its name-headliner policy when it presents the Moscow Ballet for an engagement that runs from Wednesday through Sept. 27. The Soviet troupe includes members of the famous Bolshoi and Kirov companies, and will present dances from many of the best- known ballets, including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

What promises to be the biggest, glitziest production show to hit town in some time will arrive Sept. 25 when Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana opens at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel-Casino.

While Manilow will not appear in the show, he is producing and directing it. According to Manilow, "this will be a full-scale, Broadway-style musical, including spectacular sets, costuming, choreography and original songs."

Caesars is obviously counting on the show to be around a long time, since it is scheduled for an indefinite run - meaning forever, if the patrons continue to show up.

There also is the promise of flash and glitz with Ziegfeld: A Night at the Follies, which will open Oct. 5 at Harrah's Marina Hotel Casino for a run through Dec. 16. Here, too, there is the promise of lavish costumes and spectacular dancing. This is a retooled version of a show that was presented in London, where it failed.

However, Harrah's people say that the original show concentrated too much on the biographical aspects of theatrical producer Flo Ziegfeld's life - apparently not very interesting, despite his lavish showmanship - and less on the music and dancing.

Looking way ahead to the Christmas holiday season, the Taj Mahal will present Moscow On Ice from Dec. 14 to 26. Yes, a family show.

As the year progresses toward its finale, there may be other announcements concerning fresh acts and possibly even new production shows, but for now, this is it.

Manilow Puts 'Copacabana' On A Stage

Source: Posted: September 28, 1990

Her name was Lola; she was a showgirl.

And so it was destined that she surface at the Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana, where music and passion are always the fashion.

There Lola met Tony, a struggling songwriter by day, a Copa bartender by night. It was love. Not quite at first sight, but it was love.

Then along came Rico, a sleaze from Havana, who operated the Tropicana.

And - well, you've no doubt heard all about this before. Barry Manilow, ''Copacabana," 1978 - Manilow's all-time biggest hit record. Now it's been turned into a Broadway-style musical, Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana, which opened this week at Caesars Hotel-Casino.

Manilow never expected to get such mileage out of "Copacabana" when he and collaborators Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman wrote it.

"Clive (Davis, president of Arista Records) said it would never be a hit," Manilow said after Wednesday night's performance. "And that guy can pick hits."

So no one's perfect.

Four years ago, Manilow starred in a television movie based on the record. ''I played Tony and got shot at the end," he noted. "The critics loved that."

It's true, Manilow has been generally clobbered by the critics for many years. He is adored only by a large portion of the public.

It should be noted that Manilow is producer and director of Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana, but does not appear in it. It should also be pointed out that for this production, the story has been expanded and changed here and there. The tragic ending of the original song is gone.

"The casino people want happy endings," Manilow said. Happy people are more inclined to leave the showroom and head straight for the gambling area.

It should also be stressed that what Manilow and partners Sussman and Feldman have created is a unique show, the likes of which Atlantic City hasn't seen since the casino industry moved in. It is the debut of a Broadway-style musical, complete with book and original music, the bulk of it created for this show.

Contrary to speculation, Manilow says he has no plans to take it to Broadway, though he conceded that a road tour was not out of the question. For now, Caesars' aim is to keep Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana indefinitely - forever, if warranted by audience response.

Manilow, for one, is realistic about his show. He regards it as risky: ''It's neither a Broadway show nor a casino show."

Well, it's a casino show now, and by Atlantic City standards, a highly innovative and entertaining show. And, aside from the book concept and original music by a commercially successful songwriting team - not to mention its association with a major pop music star - this really is a casino show when you get down to the basic ingredients of those big, lavish Las Vegas- style revues.

There is the bevy of showgirls, for instance, though the flesh-and-feathers concept is played down. And there is glitz. Plenty of glitz. The costuming is exotic, the sets are effective.

The story is silly, of course, but that has never gotten in the way of a Broadway musical. And the dialogue - well, consider a bit of it.

At one point, Tony the songwriter (played by Sean Sullivan) sits at the piano and breaks into "I Write the Songs" (cute, right?). The club owner responds with, "That song will be a hit when man walks on the moon. Take a little constructive criticism, kid, you make me puke."

As to that man-on-the-moon line, understand that all this takes place shortly after World War II.

The song is expanded on when Lola (played with due spunk by Hillary Turk) is whisked off to Havana after Rico spikes her champagne. There she is to be the reluctant star of his Tropicana revue. However, she receives support from Rico's longtime abused mistress, Conchita (played with exaggerated flair by Kay Freeman). And, of course, Tony hops on the first plane out of New York for Havana after hearing of the dastardly deed.

Getting back to the song, we have the shootout. Returning to the revised plot, there is a bizarre escape from Havana.

What makes Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana work is the energy of the cast, the flash of the production and the variety of music created by Manilow and company. We have mellow ballads, upbeat dance routines, spicy Latin routines, even a sultry bolero.

Great musical theater this is not. But when it comes to knowing what works with the masses, it's hard to top Manilow's instincts, and everyone involved must be commended for attempting something fresh and different in Atlantic City.


Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana is being presented in the Circus Maximus Theater at Caesars Hotel-Casino, Arkansas Avenue and the Boardwalk. Shows are at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $17.50. Phone: 609-343-2550.

Relax, Andrew Manilow's New 'Copacabana' Is No Threat To Webber

Source: Posted: September 28, 1990

Andrew Lloyd Webber has NOTHING to worry about.

The reigning king of Broadway can rest easy: Barry Manilow, the one American songwriter who could out-shlock Webber note for note, has no Broadway ambitions for his new musical, "Copacabana" - the first original musical developed in casino-era Atlantic City, premiering at Caesars Atlantic City hotel casino.

To be sure, this is Manilow's show from beginning to end. Though Manilow doesn't perform in it, he's listed as producer, director, composer and co- writer. Sure, he had help with those, the book, the lyrics, staging, choreography, sets and just about everything else that goes into a musical, but you can tell that the man who gave us "I Can't Smile Without You," and ''I Write the Songs" was passionately involved.

In remarks at a reception after last night's performance, Manilow said he'd be happy if what he calls a "hybrid of a glitzy casino show and a Broadway book show" would hang around Caesars in Atlantic City for two years or so, maybe taking off for Las Vegas and other gambling meccas. Before taking this show, based on his gassy hit ballad of some years back, to Broadway, Manilow said, he'd have to expand it, open it up, make it something "more than what it is."

The musical opens with a dimpled, wholesome, clean-cut songwriter, Sean Sullivan, who was cast not only for his looks, but for his ability to sing almost, but not quite, like Manilow himself. He's in the midst of artistic passion: plonking out what will be the melody of Manilow's Copacabana song on an electric keyboard, with a drum synthesizer behind him.

"What rhymes with Copacabana?" he asks whimsically. "Banana, Ivana - no, she's got enough troubles already."

The songwriter then dreams up Lola (Hillary Turk), who appears as a determined actress fresh off the bus in big, bad Manhattan. The opening number, "I've Just Arrived," is a perfect copy of similarly rousing New York-here-I-am songs that have been the staple of Broadway show business musicals from "42nd Street" to "A Chorus Line." This number is so good, in fact, it's hard to believe it's downhill from here.

The songwriter casts himself in his fantasy as Tony Starr, a singer/ songwriter tending bar at New York's legendary Copacabana nightclub during the early 1950s. He and Lola meet when she auditions at the club and they fall in love. Lola gets a job as a showgirl but is kidnapped to Cuba by the nasty Rico Costelli (Lou DeMeis), a Cuban thug who owns Havana's famed Tropicana club. Tony and Sam Silver (Ronn Munro), the cynical owner of the Copacabana, take off to rescue the helpless lass.

"Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana" has a plot, stars who can really sing, interesting dance numbers, dramatic staging and two flawless, easy- listening shlock-pop love ballads that are so . . . so MANILOW that they just might make Andrew Lloyd Webber jealous. You can imagine "You Were Always in My Dreams" and the bouncy "Sweet Heaven, I'm in Love Again" oozing out of elevators - they are perfect musical-comedy show-stoppers.

What makes the show a letdown is that its plot and characters are just tired old cliches: the plucky young hero, the innocent girl in the big city, the crusty nightclub owner, the suave villain and the Spanish spitfire, in this case, a Carmen Miranda-type singer at the Tropicana, played by Kay Freeman.

Which is sad, because Manilow HAS written some of the songs the world sings, and if anybody can beat Andrew Lloyd Webber at his own formula, he can.


"Barry Manilow Presents Copacabana" plays the Circus Maximus showroom, Caesars Atlantic City, Arkansas Avenue and the Boardwalk, for an unlimited run. Showtimes are 8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $17.50, available from the Box Office and Ticketmaster. 800-677-7469.

Kiss 100 Sacrifices Romance For Ratings

Source: Posted: January 06, 1992

The smoochy lips are gone. So are Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and most of Barbra Streisand - anything that has to do with that sappy "love song" image.

What is it? "New Kiss 100." While you were swilling champagne New Year's Eve, the folks at WKSZ-FM (100.3) were unveiling their "fun" new format, which they hope will dig Kiss 100 out of last place in the city's four-way adult-contemporary battle.

So what's New Kiss like? Like we said, no love songs. Instead, say Kiss president Larry Wexler and program director John Jenkins, you'll hear lots of adult-contemporary (AC) "currents" - songs currently on the charts - and plenty of oldies, from the Motown sound of the Supremes to the Philadelphia sound of Harold Melvin.

In addition to its traditional competition (Magic 103, EZ-101, Star 104.5), Kiss 100 is obviously going after Oldies 98, WOGL-FM (98.1).

There's a reason, says Wexler. Years ago, local AC stations played plenty of oldies. But in late '87, when Philadelphia suddenly found itself with four oldies outlets, the ACs dropped the "gold" from their playlists. They never reinstated it, even when two oldies fell by the wayside.

The target audience for New Kiss is women 35 to 44, many of whom find themselves hassled by the demands of work and family. "Everybody today is in a hurry," says Wexler. "They don't have time to enjoy themselves. So this is designed to give short bursts of fun."

As expected, rival program directors are yawning at New Kiss 100. "What change?" said one.

There was no major on-air jock shakeup, as some had expected. Mornings are still The Kiss Comedy Club, with Dennis Malloy and Tracy Collins, although there will be some new features. Fill-in jock Valerie Knight now has the 9-to- noon slot, followed by station vet Don Dawson until 4 p.m. Eric Johnson is on from 4 to 7, then Doris Chan through midnight. Overnight is Tom Collins.

Kiss has also decided to play hardball with rival Star 104.5. Last week, Kiss' attorney sent a letter to Star general manager Jeff Specter demanding that WYXR change or discontinue its TV commercial that says, "if you like Manilow and the Carpenters, you've got soft stations like Kiss, EZ and Magic." The letter said the change at Kiss rendered the commercial ''misleading and inaccurate."

"I don't know what they're complaining about," said Specter. "They claim they aren't playing Manilow or the Carpenters, but they are playing plenty of artists just like them."

TRAFFIC SNARLS. Just when you thought that the traffic war was over, Express Traffic, the new kid in town, has stolen the crown jewel right out from under Metro-Shadow's nose.

All-news KYW-AM (1060), which airs a staggering 120 traffic reports a day, last week dumped Metro-Shadow after 15 years and signed a three-year deal with Express Traffic, starting Feb. 1.

FAT CHANCE. Ever wonder about that chubby guy dancing in front of an old brick wall in those amusing WMMR-FM (93.3) TV commercials?

He's suburban Chicago's Robert Marena, 23, an auto-security-system salesman now nicknamed "Cuz" and "Joey Bag of Doughnuts." The commercial, which first aired to promote a Chicago station, has been picked up in 25 markets.

It seems that Marena's cousin, Joey Scudiero, a wannabe commercial director, was putting together a demo reel to submit to Chicago ad agencies. Scudiero took his cousin out one day, stood him in front of an old brick wall and yelled at him until he danced.

"I didn't want to do it," Marena told the Chicago Tribune. "Then he went across the street with his camera and I just started dancing with no music. I felt silly."

He probably feels sillier now. Last month Marena was sentenced to perform 500 hours of community service for selling illegal explosives and fireworks to federal agents during the summer.

STATIC Another KYW-AM couple is tying the knot, bringing to 12 the number of staff members who've paired off while in the employ of the station. This time, it's anchor-reporters Amy Caples, 28, and John Miller, 27. Expect wedding bells late this year. . . . WIOQ-FM is bringing in another jock from Hartford, where new program director Jefferson Ward used to work. Brian B. Wilde (he was Brian Parker in Hartford) will be a fulltime swingman, meaning he'll fill in wherever he's needed.

Wysp Hopes To Sign Eagles Broadcast Team

Source: Posted: January 13, 1992

It's still early, obviously, but it's already looking like Merrill Reese and Stan Walters will stay on as the broadcast team when the Eagles make the jump next season to WYSP-FM (94.1).

'YSP general manager Ken Stevens met last week with Reese and his attorney, Lloyd Remick, and all parties came away smiling.

"I would like to sign them," says Stevens. "We haven't discussed terms yet, but we had a great meeting."

Reese, who has been the voice of the Birds for 15 years, couldn't be reached. But Remick agreed with Stevens' assessment, saying 'YSP is very interested and so are Reese and Walters, whom he also represents. Negotiations are expected to begin this week.

Meanwhile, at WIP, the company line is still that the Eagles just wanted too much money, and that losing the game broadcasts won't hurt the station's all-sports image. Not one bit. No problem. It's only three lousy hours of programming.

There are radio execs around town who share that sentiment, but the prevailing view seems to be: "I don't care how much it would have cost them. WIP was crazy to let them go."

WIP CO-HOSTS. Speaking of WIP, the search for a co-host for morning man Angelo Cataldi goes on.

The heat surrounding Ron Jaworski's name seems to have cooled a bit, although he's still said to be in the running. Of course, one big question seems to be whether Jaws wants the job.

One also can't help but notice that Tony Bruno, the former morning man on WCAU-AM now doing weekends on the new ESPN Radio Network, has already become the de facto co-host. He suddenly has more time on his hands. Last week, Shadow Traffic released Bruno as of Feb. 6.

Now comes word that two more familiar names are coming through town to sit in with Cataldi for a day or two each. First is Steve Martorano, who hosted mornings on 'IP when it was a music station; he'll sit in Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, it'll be Joey Reynolds, ex of WFIL-AM.

KISS V. STAR. Last week, you may recall, Kiss 100 was asking Star 104.5 to pull or change its TV commercial - the one that suggests that Kiss plays Barry Manilow and the Carpenters.

Star, or WYXR-FM, has responded: Fat chance. Star's lawyers say Kiss 100 may not play Manilow and the Carpenters anymore, but it's still a soft adult- contemporary station, meaning they sure do play that kind of music.

"I still can't understand what their gripe is," says 'YXR general manager Jeff Specter.

But Larry Wexler, president of WKSZ-FM (100.3), says he will press on. ''We're soft compared to WMMR, but we're hard compared to EZ-101," says Wexler.

Wexler says his law firm is researching legal options.

WTEL CELEBRATES. You wouldn't have guessed it by looking at the list of the top 20 stations in last week's fall Arbitron book, but one of the happiest shops in town was WTEL-AM (860).

Fact is, the city's only Latin music station cracked the ratings book for the first time in three years, with a 0.3 percent share of the listening audience, for about 30th place. (By contrast, No. 1 ranked KYW had a 7.6 share.)

What's the secret to the new success? "The music," says 'TEL general manager Raul G. Lahee. "We're playing more current hits like the Latino stations in Miami and Santo Domingo."

STATIC. Ted Utz, former program director at WMMR-FM (93.3), who had jumped to New York rocker WNEW-FM as station manager, last week was reassigned as vice president of programming and marketing for Westinghouse's three album- rock stations, 'MMR, 'NEW and WLLZ in Detroit. Radio insiders did not see this as a promotion. . . . Starting this Friday at 9 a.m. on Paul W. Smith's show, Philadelphia district attorney Lynne M. Abraham will be making regular monthly appearances on talker WWDB-FM (96.5). The station expects some of her sit-downs to be with 'DB talker Frank Ford, Abraham's husband. . . . PRO- Radio, the trade association of local stations, has named new officers. WOGL-AM/FM general manager Steve Carver is president, WKSZ-FM (100.3) president Larry Wexler is vice president, WWDB owner Chuck Schwartz is treasurer and WFLN-FM (95.7) general manager Rich Tedesco is secretary.

Manilow: Show Tunes And His Own

Source: Posted: May 04, 1992

He is definitely not hip. Never has been. Never will be.

As a singer he'll never touch Sinatra, Bennett or Torme. And songwriters Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim certainly don't have to regard him as major competition.

But don't underestimate Barry Manilow. He raised the curtain Friday night at the Mark G. Etess Arena in Atlantic City for two evenings of ''Showstoppers," a revue of seldom-heard show tunes and his own radically reworked songs.

Engaging and sincere - all charm, no smarm - Manilow paid homage to the golden age of pop and vaudeville. "Where or When" allowed him to claim the songs of Rodgers and Hart as the model for his own "ridiculously big" musical endings. "I didn't invent it;, I just borrowed it," he said.

Manilow, who has long dreamed of writing a show for Broadway, performed a long medley using the conceit "What if my songs had come from great Broadway musicals?"

The conceit worked. "Trying To Get the Feeling" done in Gershwin's languorous style, an exuberant "It's a Miracle" as it might have been plucked from The Music Man, and "Mandy" as performed by a barbershop quartet, showed that Manilow - when free to take chances - could strip the saccharine from his material and render his songs in ways that are deeply moving, exuberantly joyful and hilariously funny.

Manilow may not have soul. But in the tradition of the Great White Way, he's got a lot of heart.

Gala Sheds Stars' Light On Aids

Source: Posted: July 11, 1992

"Sandbagging" is the word producer Joe Lovett used to describe what he's trying to do with his two-hour star-studded special, "In a New Light," which is designed to raise consciousness about AIDS.

What the producer has done is cover the entertainment spectrum - from rap to country to pop to jazz - to reach all levels of the viewing audience, no matter what the age or taste.

"A lot of people don't know what to do to help," said the producer. ''What we're trying to encourage is for people to contact their local AIDS organizations."

This positive action by everyone is what he means by "sandbagging." It's a way of fighting back to hold back the flood, in this case a disease that he calls a "plague."

The program, with comments by Elizabeth Taylor for openers, features Bruce Davison, Linda Lavin and Robert Guillaume as hosts, and repeats the national AIDS hotline for people to call (1-800-342-AIDS).

"The outpouring of the Hollywood community was heartening," said Lovett, who pointed out that the stars donated their time - people like Barry Manilow, ''who called to ask what he could do," Joel Grey, Patti LuPone, Salt 'n Pepa, Clint Black, Michael Jackson, Reba McEntire, Olivia Newton-John, Gloria Estefan, Marlee Matlin, Chad Lowe, Sandy Duncan and Nell Carter.

Carter, who lost a brother to AIDS, bravely announces, "Yes, my brother was gay. And yes, I loved him."


IN A NEW LIGHT. Channel 6, 8 tonight.

Where Chubby Checker Plucked Chickens, Elvis Got Pelted With Eggs, Springsteen Met Manilow, And Other High Points Of Philly's Musical History.

Source: Posted: September 18, 1992

1. Former home of Douglass "Jocko" Henderson, Emlen Street near Lincoln Drive, Germantown. One night in 1957, the legendary disc jockey was awakened by the doorbell. It was Sam Cooke, a 22-year-old gospel singer, and his manager, Bumps Blackwell, pushing Cooke's new single, "You Send Me." As a result of the encounter, Henderson played the record and put Cooke on a show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Cooke soon had his first secular hit.

2. Lincoln Drive near Rittenhouse Street, Germantown. Site of Teddy Pendergrass' auto accident in March 1982. The singer was paralyzed when his 1981 Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit crashed into a tree.

3. Rodeo Ben, 3209 W. Cecil B. Moore Ave. The original store of the Western-wear tailor who created suits for Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. In the mid-1940s, a country singing greenhorn from Delaware County named Bill Haley acquired a second-hand cowboy outfit made at Rodeo Ben. A decade later, Haley and the Comets had the first chart-topping rock 'n' roll hit with "Rock Around the Clock," (a song co-written by James E. Myers of Oxford Circle). Rodeo Ben, now defunct, has been replaced by housing.

4. Electric Factory, 2201 Arch St. The psychedelic rock club where Sly and the Family Stone, the Who (when they locally introduced "Tommy") and Elton John performed. Members of Cream duked it out the dressing room, the same one shown in the inner-sleeve photo of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" album. A condominium now stands in its place.

5. Uptown Theater, 2240 N. Broad St. Philadelphia's answer to Harlem's Apollo. The movie house doubled as a stage for the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Brown and the Supremes in the '60s. The lineup for the venue's April 25, 1956, show included the Platters, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, LaVern Baker, Bill Haley and the Comets, Clyde McPhatter, Bo Diddley, the Drifters, Big Joe Turner and the Flamingos. Radio personality Georgie Woods, "The Man with the Goods," regularly hosted Uptown revues.

6. Benjamin Franklin High School, Broad and Green streets. Site of a talent contest in the mid-'60s that featured two young singing groups, the Monarchs and the Percussions. The two acts placed first and second and later formed the Stylistics, known for such early-'70s Top 10 hits as "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "Betcha By Golly, Wow."

7. Town Hall, Broad and Race streets. A multi-level theater and ballroom where acts included Bob Dylan, the Doors and Todd Rundgren and the Nazz, who made their debut opening for the Doors in 1967. On Nov. 17, 1955, Ray Charles and eight of his band members were arrested here on drug charges. Now the home to a parking garage.

8. Studio Four, 444 N. 3rd St. The still busy recording spot where the following acts have mixed or recorded discs: Boyz II Men (whose members attended the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts at 11th and Catharine streets), Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Hall & Oates, Taj Mahal, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Bell Biv Devoe, Gipsy Kings and Bananarama. The same building houses the offices of Ruffhouse Records, the local rap label that's home to Kris Kross, whose debut single, "Jump," topped the singles charts for two months early this year.

9. The Frankford El. The inspiration for American Dream's Todd Rundgren- produced hit "Can't Get to Heaven on the Frankford El." The A's, a local band popular in the late '70s and early '80s, claimed you could hear the sound of the El in their recordings.

10. Sigma Sound Studios, 212 N. 12th St. The still-active studio where nearly all of the Philadelphia International hits as well tracks by the Spinners, the Jacksons, Stevie Wonder and David Bowie were cut. In the '70s, Billy Joel and Bonnie Raitt played here as a part of a series of live radio concerts broadcast over WMMR.

11. Latin Casino, Route 70, Cherry Hill. The recording site of James Brown's "Live at the Garden" (1967) and the "Spinners Live!" (1975). On Sept. 29, 1975, Jackie Wilson suffered a heart attack on stage and collapsed. Wilson remained in a coma until his death in 1984. The Latin Casino closed its doors in 1978 and today is the site of the national headquarters for Subaru of America.

12. Eagle II, Broad and Locust streets. The diner, later replaced by a Chinese restaurant, where Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Barry Manilow met one weekend in December 1974 after an Academy of Music performance by Joel and Janis Ian. Manilow announced to Springsteen and Joel that he would become a bigger star than either of them, according to Ed Sciaky, deejay at WMMR.

13. Philadelphia Music Alliance's Walk of Fame, on the west side of Broad Street between Spruce and Pine. Brass plaques honor such Philadelphia legends as Chubby Checker, Dick Clark, Bill Haley, Todd Rundgren, Frankie Avalon, Jim Croce and Teddy Pendergrass.

14. KYW-TV (Channel 3) studios, 1619 Walnut St. John Lennon and Yoko Ono did a week on the Mike Douglas show here in 1972. The studio (since moved to 5th and Market streets) is now home to the Temple University Center City campus.

15. South Street. Where "all the hippies meet," according to "South Street," the Orlons' Top 5 hit. Also home to Zipperhead, the rock 'n' roll accoutrements store immortalized in the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl."

16. 11th and Shunk streets, home of Fabian Forte. According to the promotional myth, the teen throb was discovered sitting on his front steps.

17. Krass Brothers, 901 South St. The men's store where the members of the Temptations took five young local singers, the Temptones, here to buy them magenta sharkskin suits. One of the youngsters was Daryl Hohl, an aspiring soul singer who later changed his name to Daryl Hall.

18. Sonny's Cut Up Chickens, 9th Street and Washington Avenue. The Italian Market institution where a pre-twisting Chubby Checker, then known at Ernest Evans, plucked, sliced and diced birds for a living. During his work break, Checker sang in the street. Now a clothing store.

19. Philadelphia International Records, 309 S. Broad St. The home of "The Sound of Philadelphia," the soul music of the '70s characterized by lush string arrangements and strong percussion. Founded in 1971 by session pianist Leon Huff and singer Kenny Gamble, the label featured such acts as Billy Paul, Patti LaBelle, the O'Jays, Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes and MFSB.

20. 11th Street and Moyamensing Avenue, home of Robert Ridarelli, who later changed his name to Bobby Rydell. From 1959 to 1964, he had 18 Top 40 singles. His next-door neighbor was James Ercolani, who had five Top 40 singles of his own as James Darren.

21. Pep's, 516 S. Broad St. Popular nightclub that brought in Otis Redding, James Brown, Ruth Brown, the Orioles, LaVern Baker and Brook Benton in the '50s and '60s. WDAS disc jockey Jocko Henderson, briefly running the club with Loretta Adams, broadcast from Pep's in 1960.

22. The Spectrum, Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. Top city venue, booking everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. But the Grateful Dead tops everyone else with 40-plus appearances. David Bowie's "Stage" and tracks from the Doors "Absolutely Live" were recorded here. Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose was arrested in 1988 in the parking lot when he tried to re- enter the building but was mistaken by security people as just another headbanger.

23. Cameo/Parkway Records, 1405 Locust St. The record company of Chubby Checker, the Orlons, Dee Dee Sharp, ? and the Mysterians, Bobby Rydell and the Dovells. The company in 1963 moved to 309 S. Broad St., the current home of Philadelphia International Records. Now an office building.

24. JFK Stadium. Site of the Beatles' last Philadelphia performance on Aug. 16, 1966, and the Live Aid concert on July 13, 1985. Among other stadium extravaganzas: the Who, Yes, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Peter Frampton. Recently turned to rubble.

25. Swan Records, northwest corner of 17th and Jackson streets. South Philadelphia record company, which shared its building with a jeweler, released the original "She Loves You" single by the Beatles as well as discs by Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon and Danny and the Juniors. Dick Clark owned a third of the label but sold his holdings in 1960 around the time of the payola scandal. Now an office building and an appliance store,

26. Rittenhouse Square. Arlo Guthrie based his "Ring Around the Rosie Rag" on an incident here in which police arrested the singer and some hippies for playing the children's game Ring Around the Rosie.

27. The Second Fret, 1902 Sansom St. Folkie haunt was the scene of Joni Mitchell's local debut in 1966. Early in his career, Bob Dylan played a free set during an open-microphone night. Unimpressed, proprietor Manny Rubin told the future icon that he wasn't interested in booking him. Now vacant.

28. Convention Hall, 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard. Scene of the Beatles' local debut, with Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo coordinating the police effort, in September 1964. The Fab Four snuck into the facility in a fish truck. The Rolling Stones also made their first Philly appearance here in May 1965.

29. Beulah Baptist Church, 50th and Spruce streets. The longstanding church where current Wynnewood resident Patti LaBelle, then known at Patricia Holte, grew up singing.

30. Philly Groove Records, 265 S. 52nd St. Owned by Stan "The Man" Watson. The record company put out discs by First Choice, the Delfonics and other lesser-known area acts. A young Thom Bell produced some of the Delfonics' biggest hits at Sigma Sound Studios and met a young singer- songwriter named Linda Creed while with Philly Groove. The Bell-Creed alliance hit it big in the '70s with a string of hits they wrote and produced for the Spinners. A luncheonette stands in its place.

31. Mount Lawn Cemetery in Sharon Hill, Delaware County. Burial place of blues singer Bessie Smith. In 1970, Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, a nurse who had worked for Smith, bought her a tombstone 33 years after she was killed in a car accident. Also the burial place of Thomasina Montgomery, the North Philadelphia teen-ager who was renamed Tammi Terrell when Berry Gordy signed her to Motown Records. Her best-known hit was "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a duet with Marvin Gaye.

32. Street mural, 4726 Spruce St., West Philadelphia. Urban art graced the cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's 1991 LP "Homebase" and is across the street from the neighborhood basketball court that makes a weekly cameo on the TV sitcom "Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

33. The Arena, 46th and Market streets. Site of Elvis Presley's Philly debut in April 1957, in four concerts that featured his 20-minute set - one of which was greeted by a rain of eggs courtesy of a group of Villanova University students. The Jimi Hendrix Experience smashed their instruments on March 31, 1968. Now a vacant lot.

34. Chez Vous Ballroom, 7050 Terminal Square, Upper Darby. Home of "The Mashed Potato" dance craze, says disc jockey Jerry Blavat, who hosted a weekly record hop there. Now occupied by Rollie Massimino's Workout Station.

35. WFIL-TV, 46th and Market streets. Home of "Bandstand," which began in 1952. Dick Clark became its host in 1956 and the show became "American Bandstand" the following year when it went national on ABC. Current owners WHYY-TV (Channel 12) use the satellite dish and the studio space to store old stage sets.

36. 38th and Mount Vernon streets. The childhood home of Solomon Burke. Before the "King of Rock and Soul" scored with "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" and "Cry to Me," he preached and performed in a neighborhood church he claims was founded by his grandmother.

37. The Main Point, 874 E. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr. Early performance spot for Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen and the Talking Heads. Steve Forbert wrote "Philadelphia Rain" after a seeing a crowd of fans standing outside the club during a storm. Converted into a drug store, the building is now vacant.

38. Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow streets, Upper Darby. Springsteen's first larger-than-club-sized concert on Sept. 20, 1974; David Bowie's album ''David Live" recorded here July 8-13, 1974.

39. Schuylkill Expressway. The inspiration for "Expressway to Your Heart," a Top 5 hit for the Soul Survivors in 1967.

40. Val Shively's R&B Records, 49 Garrett Road, Upper Darby. Patrons include Sonny Til of the Orioles, Jackie Moore, Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, members of the Orlons, George Thorogood, Major Harris and David Ruffin. This store that still stocks more than 3 million 45s.

Mike Tyson Gets 30 Extra Days For Insulting Guard

Source: Posted: March 26, 1993

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was placed in disciplinary segregation and ordered to spend at least 30 extra days in prison for allegedly insulting a guard March 15 and then refusing the guard's order to stay in a holding room. Karen Grau, an Indiana Department of Corrections spokeswoman, said the incident occurred after several inmates got into an argument with the guard over phone privileges. Tyson is serving six years at the Indiana Youth Center, a medium-security prison, for raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America contestant, in an Indianapolis hotel room on July 19, 1991. He is appealing the conviction. His likely release date now is May 9, 1995, Grau said.


* What's it like to play for Prince? His drummer, Michael Bland, will tell you. The first time he played for the Purple One, he fumbled only slightly. Prince turned to him and "flashed me a look, like 'Did you hear that?' " Prince is performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York. He will play an invitation-only show for underprivileged children tomorrow at Harlem's Apollo Theater.


* Two snaps up for In Living Color's David Alan Grier. The man who plays the less-than-macho Antoine Merriwether in the "Men on . . . " skits is going to hit the pavement next month in the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity auto race in Long Beach, Calif. "I have no idea," Grier said when asked why he was getting behind the wheel. Grier will be joining 17 other celebs, including Jerry Seinfeld and Robert Pastorelli (of Murphy Brown).


* The king of easy listening now has a listing: Barry Manilow's casita, in the most exclusive neighborhood in the country - Bel-Air, Calif. - has been put on the market for $2.71 million. The 5,000-square-foot mansion has its own recording studio. Manilow lived in the house for 13 years, but apparently he can smile without it. He reportedly has other homes in Southern California.


* Paul McCartney will headline a charity concert at the Hollywood Bowl next month. It will be the former Beatle's first performance there in more than 25 years. The April 16 show will commemorate Earth Day and is being organized by Concerts for the Environment. Tickets for the event at the 18,000-capacity venue range from $25 to $1,250 and will go on sale tomorrow. Every member of the audience will receive a 100-page book detailing McCartney's stance on such issues as the environment, animal rights and vegetarianism.


* Humorist Lewis Grizzard, 46, remained in critical condition at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after three heart operations in two days and has been placed on a list for a possible heart transplant. Grizzard underwent 12 hours of surgery on Monday and then had two operations Tuesday to control bleeding. Grizzard, famous for his redneck humor, writes a column for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and is syndicated in 450 newspapers across the country. He also has written 20 books.


* Media baron Rupert Murdoch's behind-the-scenes efforts to reacquire the New York Post continue, with several Washington legislators saying that New York Gov. Mario Cuomo had called to lobby on Murdoch's behalf. And though Abraham Hirschfeld, the paper's current publisher, said he was not aware of Murdoch's efforts, he seemed willing to get involved. "He has to do what a fish does - open his mouth," Hirschfeld said. "When he opens his mouth, I'll talk to him." A Federal Communications Commission regulation prevents Murdoch, who owns WNYW-TV in New York, from owning both a newspaper and a television station in the same city. Several lawmakers believe that all Murdoch needs is a waiver to the FCC regulations. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass) and Sen. Ernest Hollings (D., S.C.), who in 1988 pushed through legislation that forced Murdoch to sell the Post, now say they would not oppose such a waiver.


* The Los Angeles City Council agreed to pay nearly $50,000 in traffic- control costs to shuttle stars' limousines to the Academy Award presentations. Critics said a city facing a budget deficit of up to $500 million should let the ceremonies pay their own way. Robert Rehme, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a letter to City Council President John Ferraro that the Oscars were a city treasure that deserved special treatment. "The worst thing that could happen is for the film industry to leave and for us to send further signals that we are not a friendly city to the industry," said Councilman Hal Bernson.


* Yes, folks, it won't be long before Gloria Steinem will eligible for Social Security. The Ms. magazine founder turned 59 yesterday and People in New York paid homage. People the magazine, that is. It threw a party at the magazine's New York office, where Jane Alexander and Judy Collins (lately seen jogging with the Prez) were on the guest list.


* Almost everyone is looking for an excuse to join the college vacation blitz in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the people who work at MCI, the telephone place, came up with their own sunny excuse. They interviewed 426 college students about late-night TV hosts. Rated the fave was Dave, also known as David Letterman, who got 43 percent of the pool. Basking in a close second was Arsenio Hall, with 40 percent. Jay Leno, the Johnny Carson replacement, may get some heat for his distant third, a measly 7 percent.

Today, Whitman Takes Over N.j. And Its Problems The Central Test: Keeping Her Promise To Cut Taxes. Recent Elections Show That Voters Will Be Watching.

Source: Posted: January 18, 1994

TRENTON — Christine Todd Whitman takes office today as the state's first woman governor after a bruising campaign and a bitter post-election flap over charges that Republicans paid off black preachers to suppress minority voting.

But those hurdles were easy compared to what's next.

Whitman, who will be sworn in about noon today, has promised to cut state income taxes 10 percent a year for three years starting July 1. For someone who has already shown exceptional toughness and single-mindedness about getting what she wants, keeping that promise will likely be the central test.

Even in good times, cutting taxes is financially and politically problematic. Such was the case in the mid-1980s when the state ran billion- dollar budget surpluses.

Instead of using that money to cut taxes, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean and the legislature built a spate of glitzy new Trenton office buildings, hired more prison guards, retooled the problem-plagued motor vehicles division, and kept pace with rising costs of Medicaid and state employee pensions.

Spending money on those programs was popular - because each had a large constituency.

But for the last few years the state has faced one deficit after another. Although there are signs of improvement in New Jersey's budget picture, the task remains daunting. Budget experts forecast a deficit of up to $2 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Many of the budget-balancing gimmicks politicians used in the past, such as refinancing state debt or tapping independent authorities for cash to tide the state over until tax collections pick up, have been exhausted.

Whitman also seems likely to face at least a small measure of resistance from State Senate President Donald T. DiFrancesco (R., Union). DiFrancesco, never one of Whitman's strongest allies, has been openly skeptical of her tax- cutting proposal.

Last week, as the Senate and Assembly began the new legislative session, DiFrancesco told reporters that while he was sympathetic to cutting taxes, he would rather not see a tax cut take place until Jan. 1.

Although there are serious challenges facing Whitman, today is a day of celebration, pomp and ceremony for the new governor - notwithstanding a last- minute change of plans. The day begins with an interfaith prayer service at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton. The inauguration itself starts around noon at the War Memorial in Trenton. Whitman was to lead a parade of dignitaries from there to the Statehouse after her speech - but the march was canceled yesterday because of the weather.

That wasn't the only glitch. Singer Barry Manilow canceled his Saturday night benefit concert that was to be part of the inaugural Ethnic Pride and Heritage Festival in Atlantic City. Manilow, who performed at President Clinton's inaugural gala, said no one had told him the concert was a Whitman event. Paul Anka agreed to fill in at the last minute.

Cutting taxes should be so easy.

Whitman is well aware that, politically, there isn't any alternative to keeping her campaign promise.

That's because in recent years, voters have become more keenly attuned to campaign pledges to hold the line on taxes as the recession has taken its toll on each household.

And woe to the politician who counts on short memories.

Gov. Florio, whom Whitman narrowly defeated Nov. 2, clearly sealed his fate by raising taxes after telling voters during the 1989 election campaign that he saw no reason to raise taxes. Former President George Bush also did himself in on the tax issue.

What was so astonishing about the New Jersey gubernatorial race was that many voters, willing to forgive and forget lapsed campaign promises in the past, kept their grudge alive for four years.

Notwithstanding all that, Whitman has drawn a line in the sand at a time when her administration may be at its most vulnerable.

The first six months of any administration are the most difficult. The chief executive and his or her staff are untested. The normal flow of power between the legislature and the governor is disrupted for a time as new relationships take root - if they take root at all.

Sometimes, suspicion and doubt strangle the lines of communication, as they did in during the debate over Gov. Florio's $2.8 billion tax increase and school aid package in 1990.

Then, Florio described the Republican legislative minority as ''irrelevant" - a comment he surely regretted as public rage over the tax increase turned into massive demonstrations and devastating defeats for Democrats in the 1991 legislative elections.

It wasn't until Florio brought in seasoned political operatives such as former Chief of Staff Joseph C. Salema and Counsel M. Robert Decotiis, that the administration began to work well with Republican lawmakers, who by then controlled the legislature.

"The learning curve is so huge for a new governor," said Secretary of State Daniel Dalton, a key political adviser to Gov. Florio and a former legislator who has spent the last 14 years in the Statehouse.

Still, Whitman has proven her resilience. In her 1990 U.S. Senate race against incumbent Bill Bradley, Whitman ran a tough campaign and didn't give up, even though Bradley enjoyed a huge fund-raising advantage, and pollsters had written her off.

She came within two percentage points of beating Bradley and became a political star overnight.

Early last year, just as she was preparing to announce her candidacy for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Whitman was forced to admit that she and her husband, John, had employed illegal aliens and had failed to pay their Social Security taxes.

She went ahead with the campaign, even though some Republicans said her chances of winning were slim.

There are already signs of how Whitman will run the governor's office. Her decision last week to kill a proposal by Philadelphia 76ers owner Harold Katz and the Florio administration to build a new basketball arena on the Camden waterfront is evidence that she will be extremely cautious in committing state money.

Too, there are likely to be more women in senior positions than any other previous administration. Judith Shaw, who was selected as chief of staff shortly after the election, is the first woman to hold that job in the history of the state.

Whitman also named Deborah Poritz, former counsel to Kean, as her attorney general, and Lonna Hooks, a liaison between Whitman and the black community during the campaign and a member of Whitman's inner circle, as secretary of state.

There are also some smaller signs of transition.

As the last Florio administration staffers cleaned out their desks on Friday, state workers were removing oil portraits from the walls of the governor's outer office as they prepared to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and lay down new carpet.

Bluth Brings 'Thumbelina' To Big Screen

Source: Posted: March 30, 1994

For his spirited and imaginative rendering of Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina, Don Bluth faced the problem of making a short story long.

With a shrewd balance of music, comedy and fantasy, Bluth and his co- director Gary Goldman have retained a nice sense of scale for a fairy tale that helps little kids deal with the alarming size of the world. Since he led a group of disgruntled animators in a defection from the Disney studio in 1979, Bluth has enjoyed a mix of huge successes (An American Tail, The Land Before Time) and lesser achievements (Rock-a-Doodle, All Dogs Go to Heaven).

Thumbelina finds Bluth and the talented team of animators at the top of their game. The film has a charm, vivacity and good humor that remind us that Bluth remains the only serious competition for Disney in animated features for children. In Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, the Disney artists have admittedly set standards that are hard for anyone else to approach, but Thumbelina will do very nicely until The Lion King comes along this summer.

Comedy and music, always Bluth's strong points, propel this version of Thumbelina. Like the Disney animators, Bluth likes to intersperse big set- piece numbers. The dancing frogs and beetles at the Beetle Ball in Thumbelina do not eclipse the likes of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast and "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid, but they show the same flair for fusing image to rhythm.

In its recent much-acclaimed offerings, Disney has expanded the audience for animation far beyond the young. With Barry Manilow contributing key songs (in collaboration with Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman), Bluth is obviously trying the same approach.

To prove that this is literally a small world, the voice of Thumbelina, the heroine no bigger than your thumb, is provided by Jodi Benson, who was Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Thumbelina is the gift of a kindly witch to a woman who yearns for a daughter. Vertically challenged and a victim of rampant size-ism, Thumbelina dreams of meeting someone of her own proportions.

When a fairy prince answers her prayers, she is immediately smitten - only to be kidnapped by a devious toad. The path to Thumbelina's reunion with her love is filled with peril and propositions. The pace rarely lags and the subtext that Bluth always includes in his work is cleverly entwined with the adventures.

Like all good storytellers in this field, Bluth excels at guiding children with a subtlety and finesse that ensures they do not realize they've just learned something worthwhile. Thumbelina is, despite its theme, no small feat and represents his best work since An American Tail and the under-rated The Secret of NIMH.


Produced by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy; directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman; written by Don Bluth; songs by Barry Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman; distributed by Warner Brothers. Featuring the voices of Jodi Benson, John Hurt, Carol Channing, Barbara Cooke, Gilbert Gottfried and Gary Imhoff.

time: 1 hour, 31 mins.

Parent's guide: G

Showing at: area theaters

'Thumbelina' Is A Little Short On Style

Source: Posted: March 31, 1994

Often lovely and unfailingly well drawn, "Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina" is nonetheless well behind the state-of-the-art curve for animated fairy tales. Aimed squarely at the preschool set, this latest cartoon feature from Don Bluth ("An American Tale," "The Land Before Time") has its magical moments, but nowhere near the sustained entertainment majesty of recent Disney efforts.

Some offensive ethnic stereotypes and a less-than-enlightened visual coding system (attractive is good, the opposite is bad) are about the only reasons to keep your tots away from this richly colorful, tuneful time-killer.

However, the combined, adult-toxic elements of one-dimensional storytelling, Barry Manilow's relentlessly puerile music and overdosage of underdeveloped cuddle-creatures, could make it play more like living death for viewers older than 8.

Too bad, since Bluth does make the best-looking movies outside of his former employer Disney's kingdom. But he simply cannot dig the deeper psychological elements or contemporary resonances out of Andersen's fable the way team Disney did with the author's "Little Mermaid." All Bluth and his co-director Gary Goldman can glean from the material are platitudinous instructions to find your place in the world and follow your heart.

Which your tinier tots should surely be able to relate to, seeing as how our heroine, though sprung to life full grown, is all of two inches high. Thumbelina, voiced expertly by the Little Mermaid herself, Jodi Benson, longs for someone her own size to love - and without much fuss, is found by fairy Prince Cornelius (Gary Imhoff) in no time.

But all this first-sight stuff is jeopardized when she is kidnapped by some Latino vaudeville toads (no offense intended, I think; it's just an excuse for a Charo production number). Though she escapes their warty grasp, Thumby has to find her way home through the gigantic, threatening world, or at least get found by Cornelius.

Also on the program: the big-screen debut of Steven Spielberg's popular, TV cartoon characters The Animaniacs, in the short film "I'm Mad!"


Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, produced by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy, written by Don Bluth, songs by Barry Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman; musical score by William Ross and Barry Manilow, distributed by Warner Bros.

Running Time: 85 minutes

Jacquimo - Gino Conforti

Mother - Barbara Cook

Thumbelina - Jodi Benson

Hero - Will Ryan

Queen Tabitha - June Foray

Mrs. Toad - Charo

Mr. Beetle - Gilbert Gottfried

Ms. Fieldmouse - Carol Channing

Mr. Mole - John Hurt

Parents Guide: G

Showing at: Area theaters

Bombs Found In Russia Site Before Prince's Visit

Source: Posted: May 20, 1994

Russian police revealed yesterday that they defused two bombs found near a St. Petersburg site a day before Prince Charles visited it. Tuesday he laid a wreath at Piskaryovskoye cemetery where nearly 500,000 victims of the World War II siege of Leningrad are buried.

The small handmade bombs were discovered outside one of three British-owned chain stores in the city. There was no obvious anti-British feeling during Charles' four-day visit, which ended yesterday, and a Russian police spokesman downplayed it as "probably just an act of hooliganism."

Meanwhile, back in Britain, the battle of who's the spendthriftiest royal continued. While Princess Diana's annual beauty and travel budget came to about $240,000, the Daily Mirror put Charles' annual tab for fancy suits, fast cars and polo ponies at $423,000. The Daily Mail says it's $655,000.

Details on Diana's budget includes: $25,116 for manicures, $12,000 for haircuts, $13,625 for gym memberships and personal trainer fees, $1,200 for sunglasses and $10,659 for such new age treatments as reflexology, colonics, holistic massage and aromatherapy.

Still, the Brit media praised Diana as a heroine yesterday as word got out that she helped to rescue a homeless man from drowning in a London park lake. Reports said that after her car was flagged down Sunday, she joined a Finnish student in the rescue. Held his gear as he dove in, helped pull the man to shore and rolled him over as the student did CPR. The 42-year-old man, in the water eight minutes, is hospitalized in critical condition. Commented a royal watcher with Charles in Russia: "That girl will do anything to get in the papers. The rescue happened four days ago. Why are they leaking it now?" Such drama!


* Meg Grant, ex-Channel 10 newsie who recently disclosed a severe hearing loss, will give the keynote talk at tomorrow's Rally for Hearing Loss Awareness, 1 p.m., behind Independence Hall.

David Cassidy, who revved up prepubescent hearts two decades ago, will plug his book, C'mon Get Happy . . . Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus, 7 to 9 p.m. June 16 at South Street's Tower Books. Puka-shell necklaces will be tolerated.

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1950, will read at the Painted Bride Quarterly Benefit, 8 p.m. Tuesday at 230 Vine St. Tix are $20 and $12. For details call 215-925-9914.

Patti LaBelle plans to open a cabaret theater in NewMarket in October. The 300-seat Chez LaBelle will showcase emerging talent. She's partners with Devon's Music Fair Group, Inc.


* In one of the fashion world's titanic struggles, Yves Saint Laurent whipped Ralph Lauren by a split decision in a French court Wednesday. YSL said his classic 1970 tuxedo dress was knocked off for Lauren's 1992 collection. The Paris court agreed and ordered Lauren to pay YSL $350,000. However, the court also ordered YSL to pay Lauren $88,000 for defaming his rival in Women's Wear Daily. The judge also ordered them to apologize to each other in writing and print the sorries in major publications.

Haim and Isaac Dabah, the brothers who founded Gitano jeans, got less than max punishment Wednesday in New York federal court after pleading guilty to falsely labeling clothes to avoid import restrictions. The two sobbed deeply before the judge. "If you put us in jail, your honor, I don't think I can go on with anything," sobbed Isaac, 36. Sobbed Haim, 42. "My dad, oh God, please spare him this suffering." Each got six months' house arrest, a $20,000 fine and 300 hours of community service.


* Poor Barry Manilow don't get no respect - even Down Under. Upon arriving at Adelaide's airport Wednesday, he was prodded by a female reporter about his fave Manilow joke. The singer made what is described as "an obscene suggestion" adding: "Don't talk to me like that. . . . That's an insulting thing to say." The reporter retorted: "Are you sick of all the ridicule you get?" Manilow replied: "Are you? That's a nice interview. Thanks for welcoming me like that, babe." That's telling 'er, Bar!


In a caption Wednesday, Felicia Lemmon was incorrectly identified as Felicity Lemmon. She was pictured with her husband, Jack Lemmon, at the Royal Charity Premiere of his film "Grumpy Old Men."

In some editions of Wednesday's Newsmakers, the disease afflicting former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello was incorrect. She suffers from multiple sclerosis, not muscular dystrophy.

Veteran Stars Strike Gold In The Standards Barry Manilow Is Just One Singer Who, Finding New Hits Hard To Come By, Has Turned To The Old.

Source: Posted: December 29, 1994

Barry Manilow looked at his future and turned to the past.

After racking up almost 30 pop hits and becoming a major solo star in the process, Manilow now laughingly refers to himself as a "boy singer," what vocalists were called back in the good old big-band days.

Manilow is one of a number of veteran pop and country artists - from Kenny Rogers to Dennis DeYoung of Styx - who are rejuvenating their careers by recording albums of pop standards. Manilow's gold-certified Singin' With the Big Bands features 15 songs at least 40 years old. He gets an authentic sound, too, working with the bands carrying on the names of Glenn Miller, Les Brown, the Dorsey brothers and others.

"I have only done one pop album in the last 10 years. While it had some nice songs on it, it just didn't make it," says Manilow, who has sold 50 million records since 1974. "Now, I just want to make beautiful music and I really don't care whether it's pop or not. It's difficult to sell these pop songs the way I used to. Radio has changed so much."

Changing radio has had a similar effect on Kenny Rogers. He reeled off more than 60 country hits between 1969 and 1984. But knowing when to fold 'em and when to hold 'em, as it were, Rogers recently severed his Nashville ties, signing with New York-based Atlantic Records and cutting Timepiece in Los Angeles. It features 12 pop classics overseen by hotshot producer David Foster, who worked on Natalie Cole's award-winning Unforgettable.

"I have always had a real passion for pop music, but until now, I've never had a reason or a vehicle to pursue it," says Rogers, who played all kinds of music while growing up in Houston. "Country music has changed and it's virtually impossible for me to get airplay now. When I was hot, once scoring 18 consecutive Top 10 records, I said those that compete will, and those that can't will complain about it. I refuse to complain about it, so I just backed off and took another look at music."

Rogers plans to promote the album with what he calls an "infomercial." ''My greatest-hits album sold about 22 million copies because we took it to television and found out from our research that people who buy from a TV 1-800 number won't go into a record store," Rogers says. "We found that people who like this kind of music are intimidated by contemporary music stores. You ask for someone like Frank Sinatra or Andy Williams and they send you back into the catacombs somewhere. People don't like being treated like a second-class citizen."

That's not to say Rogers won't allow his albums to be sold in music stores. But his TV sales concept seems to have some validity. Certainly, it worked for Manilow's big-band album.

Earlier this year, Clive Davis, head of Arista Records, called a meeting to discuss promotion of Manilow's new album. "He said this would be a challenge to promote, which was like waving a red flag in front of a bull," says Tom Ennis, a vice president for product management at Arista, Manilow's home since 1974. "The odds were stacked against us, but we felt if we could get people to hear it they would like it. We thought television would be a way to reach people who would understand the album. So, Barry has done a lot of television, morning shows and late night, and it's worked."

Ennis says TV, particularly an HBO special, helped Arista promote Carly Simon's successful album of standards, My Romance, in 1990.

As for radio, Walter Powers, director of client services for Seattle's Broadcast Programming Inc., says that even many so-called adult contemporary stations are more interested in newer artists.


"We send products to over a thousand radio stations," Powers says, ''. . . and it's difficult for an artist like Barry Manilow, Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond or Barbra Streisand, that old core of adult contemporary, to get any airplay."

Yet Powers predicts those artists could again be a major factor in radio. ''As the baby boomers move into that older demographic, those people could come back. Advertisers want that 24-to-54-year-old demographic. Once you turn 55, an advertiser says you fall off the face of the Earth. With this generation, a lot of the people moving into that age group are still interested in music."

Powers says he would love to form a record label featuring what he calls ''dead artists" (in the hit-making sense), and would try to promote the music of those still-active performers without the help of radio.

One way to avoid reluctant radio programmers is to have your own theater. Numerous artists have done that in Branson, Mo., the tourist mecca in the Ozarks that has more than 30 theaters featuring stars such as Mel Tillis, Charlie Pride and Bobby Vinton.

The Gatlin Brothers have a successful theater in Myrtle Beach, S.C. With 40 country hits to their credit, the singing siblings have released two successful albums of pop standards, Moments to Remember and Cool Water, recently packaged in a boxed set called Sincerely.

"We were approached by producer Jim Fogelsong, and he had this idea for a project of standards," says Steve Gatlin, who sings with brothers Rudy and Larry. "We are known as a harmony group, and all the songs on the albums are by groups."

So, who is Steve trying to reach with this album?


"I'm not trying to reach a country fan, necessarily," Gatlin says. "We want to reach people who grew up in a time when the radio was a bigger part of life and everybody knew the hits of the day. This is the music those people grew up on."

George Collier, general manager of Intersound Entertainment, which issued the Gatlin Brothers album and has a roster of senior artists such as Exile, Crystal Gayle and Dan Seals, says he can make money with those performers, even if their former larger labels opted to let them go.

"It's really easy, a no-brainer," Collier says. "A major label wants a triple-platinum artist and they have to get that to afford all the people there. We don't have a lot of fat at this company. You don't have to pay a producer $50,000 to do an album. We pay a fair rate and we use top session players. But we set it up so that you get some money at the beginning, and, if the album sells, you get a lot more."

Collier quickly and firmly points out that his artists aren't older. "I call them established, and they are. These people all have had a lot of hits."

It's one thing to cut an album featuring the honeyed harmonies of the Gatlins or the smoothly professional singing of Rogers or Manilow. But Dennis DeYoung was a real live arena rock-and-roll star, selling 20 million records and scoring eight Top 10 singles, as lead singer of Styx. His new Atlantic album, 10 on Broadway, represents the antithesis of soaring rock anthems such as Styx's "Come Sail Away" or the wispy ballads "Lady" and "Babe."

Before singing Broadway songs, DeYoung was on Broadway, playing Pontius Pilate in a touring revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, which played a few weeks in the Big Apple. "When we were playing in Los Angeles, Danny Goldberg, of Atlantic Records, saw the show and asked me if I would be interested in doing a Broadway album," says DeYoung.

DeYoung, who produced the 10-song album, says he had no interference from Atlantic when he opted to do songs such as "Summertime," "On the Street Where You Live" and "Someone to Watch Over Me."

"I decided to go at this almost like an 'unplugged' album," DeYoung says. ''We would start with a piano and then add just what was necessary to make the whole thing work. I had a pretty extensive knowledge of Broadway already. I looked at about 100 songs. I picked them for strong melodies."

DeYoung says that about 50,000 copies of the Broadway album have been sold, hardly up to the standards of the platinum-plus Styx days, "but that wasn't what we were trying to do. This was a breath of fresh air for me and a way to avoid catering to the music business. I know the company is still promoting the album, and we all knew it would take a while for it to catch on."

Willie Nelson, who sold millions of his standard-studded Stardust album in 1978, has included some of his own standards on his new album, Healing Hands of Time. It has new versions of his classics, such as "Crazy" and "Night Life," as well as "I'll Be Seeing You" and "All the Things You Are."

Asked about the success ratio of these kinds of albums, radio programmer Walter Powers says it's up to the record companies, "and, right now, they are more interested in promoting young rock artists. . . . But when they realize a huge chunk of the population is getting older they may change. The minute it becomes OK to advertise to people over 50, you are going to see programmers clamoring to program to those people."

As for his future, Manilow says he wants to be careful about going back to the well too often. "After really researching these songs, I realized there may be two albums, but probably not three. You know, the big-band era only lasted about eight years during the war and there are only so many good songs from those days."

Rogers can see himself as a country star again.

"I think the success of this album will dictate what we do next," Rogers says. "A lot of things could happen in the next two years. I think country is destined to change. I looked at a Billboard not too long ago and 86 of the songs on their Top 100 country chart were by new artists and that will probably change. So country may be something for me again. But my heart is really into this album. This, I think, is a good record."

A Relief For Abc: Diane's Not Bolting

Source: Posted: April 01, 1997

"I have gone from sainting to Moses. How much better can an image get?"

- Val ``The Saint'' Kilmer on being the voice of Moses in DreamWorks' animated version of ``The Ten Commandments''

Relax. The gushy girl-talks with celebs like Fergie, the Duchess of York, will continue. The ham-handed Q-and-As with pop oddities like Michael Jackson will keep on coming.

``Primetime Live'' co-host Diane Sawyer has elected to stay with ABC News for at least the next two years, the vastly relieved network announced yesterday.

Sawyer has two more years left on her contract with ABC, but had reached a window which allowed her to entertain offers from suitors at other networks. Sawyer had been courted by CBS, where she worked before joining ABC in 1989, but may have lost some leverage there after CBS signed another big shot, former ``Today'' show host Bryant Gumbel, earlier this year.

``ABC has been my home for eight wonderful years and we have so much work still to be done together,'' Sawyer murmured yesterday. ``And as always,'' she added, tossing a bone to the boss, ``it's exciting to be working with Roone Arledge,'' the chairman of ABC News.

Couple stuff

* TV hunk and hunklette Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna got married Saturday at the Los Angeles home they share. Among the 150 guests were a load of celebs, many of Hamlin's old co-workers from ``L.A. Law,'' and Rinna's from the ``Melrose Place'' orbit: Susan Dey, Alan Rachins, Mary Steenburgen, Penelope Ann Miller, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tori Spelling, Tony Danza and Kenny G. It's the third marriage for Hamlin, 44, and the first for Rinna, 32.

* Less happy news for TV stars Parker Stevenson, 44, and Kirstie Alley, 42, separated since last year. Stevenson has filed for divorce, and would like spousal support from Alley. The two were married for 12 years, and have two kids.

The never-ending saga

In case you're not yet tired of Joanna Pacitti, the Philadelphia 12-year-old bounced from the latest production of the musical ``Annie,'' there's more of her to come. Yes, she did all the chat shows and gave heart-rending quotes to all the papers, but now Pacitti will be the subject of a made-for-TV movie.

It's expected to air this fall.

Asked if the singer isn't a tad young to be the subject of an autobiographical movie, Pacitti's manager, Patti Abbott-Claffy, told USA Today, ``A lot has happened in her short life, apart from `Annie.' There's family stuff, too, but I can't give it away.''

Looks like we made it up

The following is not an April Fool's item.

So this guy goes to a Barry Manilow concert in Tucson, Ariz., and says his ears have been ringing ever since. Since December 1993, to be exact. Philip Espinosa, an Arizona appeals court judge, has filed a suit against the singer for damages. ``I expected Barry Manilow to be soft, amplified music,'' Espinosa complained. The case is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 23.


e love a conspiracy theory as much as the next person, which is why we pass along these musings from actor Joe Morton. He plays a police lieutenant on the new drama ``Prince Street,'' and, noting the number of other blacks cast as TV lieutenants - James McDaniels on ``NYPD Blue,'' Yaphet Kotto on ``Homicide: Life on the Street'' and S. Epatha Merkerson on ``Law & Order'' - Morton recently told an interviewer he thought that's how producers got a black actor in the cast, without involving him in the story too much.

Well, maybe. McDaniels has said that his character gets fewer home-life scenes than others on ``NYPD Blue.'' But Merkerson disagrees. ``I don't think race necessarily does play a part,'' she said. ``I really think it might be a coincidence.''

Better than a statue

Sophia Loren will get an appropriate tribute in her hometown of Pozzuoli, Italy, on her 63rd birthday Sept. 20: The locals will open a new movie theatre named in her honor. The Cinema Sofia (that's how the star spells her name at home) will have two theatres, a warm-weather outdoor screening area, a bookshop and a bar.

A Special Devotion

Source: Posted: August 11, 1999

Barry Manilow holds a special place in Tommy Hickman's heart.

Hickman, who is mentally retarded and suffers from mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy, was about 4 or 5 and struggling to speak when he started listening to his brother's Barry Manilow music.

"I was a big Barry Manilow fan," said Joe Hickman, Tommy's brother. Joe would bring Tommy into his bedroom and play Manilow music. And magic happened.

"It seemed to help him speak better than he was," said Joe, 41. Manilow tunes like "It's a Miracle," and "Could It Be Magic" were big around that time, he said, and the family already enjoyed Manilow's music.

Joe and the rest of the Hickman family didn't notice it at first, but "all of a sudden [Tommy] starts picking up on stuff," he said. "We said `Wow!' "

Tommy started singing along with the music, family members said. He also drummed along with the music, which helped his motor skills. His speech therapist used Manilow music in Tommy's therapy.

Tommy Hickman will turn 29 on Aug. 11 and lives with his father Richard in Overbrook. He speaks slowly, but assertively. He's been to several Manilow shows - New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia. He attended a fan club convention in Kansas City, Kan.

"I like all of his music and he helped me," Hickman said of Manilow. "My favorite song is `Copacabana.' " Hickman is a member of the Barry Manilow International Fan Club. He has his own Web page (, where he pays tribute to Manilow and two other people, the late Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart and game show host Bob Barker.

Hickman met Manilow at a book signing, but nothing more than that. A couple of years ago the A&E network broadcast "Barry Manilow: Live by Request," where viewers e-mailed song requests for Manilow to sing. Another brother, Adrian, 43, e-mailed the network on Tommy's behalf and his request was selected. Manilow dedicated "I Made It Through the Rain" to Tommy.

"That smile, I don't think we ever wiped it off," said Hickman's sister, Juliana Guaraldo, 36. Tommy's rendition of the song can also be heard by clicking his Web site.

Tommy Hickman comes from a close-knit Catholic family. Aside from brothers Adrian and Joe, there's another brother, Richard Jr., 50. One brother Jim, is deceased. All of the brothers except Tommy attended St. Thomas More. In fact, Tommy was named after the saint. His mother, Juliana, who kept the house filled with music (and had the unusual distinction of being a Catholic girl who sang in a synagogue), died two years ago.

As a youngster, Tommy attended the Developmental Disabilities Day Care Center at 60th and Master streets, said Guaraldo, who teaches special-needs children. He attended St. Katherine's Day School until he was 21.

Tommy bowls in the Special Olympics in the fall, and is involved in other programs for people with special needs. He helps his siblings around their houses when necessary.

He likes the Flyers - he knew the late Gene Hart - Elton John, the Bee Gees, 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys and Will Smith.

"It's neat to see how he's grown," Guaraldo said. "He has such a passion for [Manilow]. It's great to see Tommy come so far and be given the ability to have self-esteem."

Tommy and Adrian and at least one other guest will be going to Manilow's show at the Blockbuster-Sony E-Center on Aug. 26.

" `Even Now' is one of my all-time favorites," Tommy Hickman said. "I want to tell him that. I want to meet this man so much."

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Wild About Barry He's Their Man The Devoted Followers Of Barry Manilow

Source: Posted: August 11, 1999

Diana Beard figures she was, oh gosh, maybe 10 or 11 years old when she had her first encounter. She doesn't know exactly why she was drawn to him - maybe it was simply the music - but the impression has lasted.

Christina Cotsifas was a "young and impressionable" sixth-grader. Tracy Miller was 11. Kellye Je anne Tanner says she was a mere baby, but still remembers the first time.

Barry got them young.

Now they've got Barry - on records, on videos, on photos, on T-shirts.

Beard, Cotsifas, Miller and Tanner are all fans of Barry Alan Pincus, now known to the world as Barry Manilow, the definitive popular music shaper of the '70s.

Whether through his on-stage persona, easy-to-relate-to lyrics, straight-for-the-heartstrings musical arrangements or apparent affection for charitable causes, Manilow has developed a strong following of fans, whose dedication can, in some ways, rival those who followed the Grateful Dead - without the drugs and tie-dyed shirts, of course.

Talk of having attended more than 100 Manilow concerts is not unusual. Nor is talk of traveling from city to city to follow him. Stories of meeting Manilow at book signings or record signings, interviewing him via satellite and becoming a "Can't Smile" girl get uploaded on dozens of Web sites and printed in newsletters. Photos are swapped, tapes are traded, friendships are developed.

The Barry Manilow International Fan Club, which started in 1980, has about 10,000 members in 20 countries, according to a spokesman from Stiletto Enterprises, which runs the club. In the United States, there are at least 45 "official" Barry Manilow fan clubs, with names like "Hot Tonight for Barry" (Illinois), "Barry's Little Rhodies" (Rhode Island) and "We Got the Feeling" (Pennsylvania).

One perk members of an official local chapter get is the chance decorate Manilow's dressing room when he performs in or near their home town.

Beard is a 34-year-old, pool-shooting graphic designer. She's founder and executive director of In the Key of B, a local fan club that has nearly 90 members, ranging in age from the 20s to 60s. They will decorate Manilow's dressing room when he comes to Camden's Blockbuster-Sony E-Center Aug. 26. The theme: Moonlight Serenade.

"People can relate to it," Beard said of Manilow's music, which focuses on "everyday occurrences." She's been to more than 100 Manilow shows. On her red Jeep is a vanity license plate that reads, "I Sang," which lets drivers in back of her know she sang on stage with Manilow. And, of course, she has lots of CDs, LPs, books and other Manilow paraphernalia in the house she shares with her fiance Michael (who's really into Randy Travis) and four cats (who are really into whatever their masters are into).

Christina Cotsifas, 33, of Coatesville, is a computer tech support manager and member of In the Key of B. She's only been to 70 shows since 1978.

"It's not like he's a sex symbol or anything like that. I outgrew that in the teens," Cotsifas said. "I like his genuineness, his ability to connect at the concert." Plus he writes "great material," she said, material that goes beyond his pop paydays. "A lot of people don't know he has a jazz album, a swing album," Cotsifas said. "He put his all in it."

Both Beard and Cotsifas have climbed one of the highest peaks that any Manilow fan can conquer. They were "Can't Smile" girls. These are women Manilow chooses from the concert audience and brings on stage with him to sing his 1978 hit, "Can't Smile Without You." When Manilow begins to whistle the song's introduction, wannabe "Can't Smile" girls can't hold back any longer. They throw up their snazzy signs and banners, flash their bright clothing or Manilow T-shirts, wave their hands, wish, hope and pray to get his attention.

Beard's yellow posterboard sign with 14-inch letters that said "Please" caught Manilow's eye Jan. 29, 1989, at Atlantic City's Resorts International. Cotsifas' chance came in 1993 after 11 years of trying. It was Sept. 4, during Manilow's first show at Caesars in Atlantic City.

"I was halfway in the back, in the center and had a sign, but something told me that it was going to be my turn finally!" she writes on the Manilow Web page where fans share their "Can't Smile" experiences. "Barry was the best. So nice and calming and his eyes were so blue. . ."

The "Can't Smile" performances are videotaped for the lucky singer. Photographs are no problem, because, unlike many other artists, Manilow allows them at his shows.

It would be too easy but not fair to classify all Manilow fans as obsessed, said Tanner. Yes, some fans have emptied checking and savings accounts and sold a possession just to get to a Manilow convention, she said. But "the majority of us Barry fans do have lives," Tanner, an actor from Columbia, Md., wrote via e-mail. "What would be acceptable for a 16-year-old wouldn't be of a 26-, 36- or 46-year-old."

Manilow's music, Tanner writes, is "a nice part of our lives, that gives us much happiness and fits in with the other parts of our lives, career, friends, home, family, etc."

This strong connection Manilow has with his loyal audience doesn't save him from being the focus of disparaging words from those who haven't caught the Manilow magic.

His pop music has been called corny; mention his name and you'll most likely be greeted with a smirk, if not an all-out belly laugh. His popularity - he's had 25 Top 40 hits - and the era in which he reached that popularity, the long-haired, platform-shoe 1970s, make him a huge target for ridicule.

"It's more that a lot of people don't respect him as an artist," Cotsifas said "They associate him with things like his hits from the '70s. But when you go to a concert, it's sold out. It's just not his [loyal] fans buying the tickets."

"I really don't understand that one myself," said Tanner, who first heard Manilow's song "Amy" as a baby. "The things people say to me is `He's too saccharine, he's too sappy.' "

Indeed, fan club members get their share of grief from anti-Manilowites. It used to be worse in the past, Beard said. Some club members may strongly defend Manilow, but many take the high road: "Everybody is entitled to their opinion," Beard says.

The same people who mock Manilow's music now probably had at least one of his records in their collection as a teen. Or at least they could sing one line of "Copacabana" or "I Write the Songs."

But his fans don't worry about such problems. They just worry about Barry and meeting him and learning more about him.

Tracy Miller, 36, is founder and president of the We Got the Feeling, a 60-member chapter in North Apollo, near Pittsburgh. Her favorite record is "Could It Be Magic," but her biggest thrill came in June, when she interviewed Manilow by satellite from TV station KDKA. "I had eight minutes with him," she said. She could hear and see him (his hair was longer than it had been, and appeared colored a little), but he could only hear her.

She asked questions about his next CD, using a computer to compose, and how it feels to see people in the audience singing his songs. Some of the answers, she admits, she doesn't remember, being all caught up in the excitement of interviewing Manilow and concerned about what she would ask next.

Manilow's music "gives you a little respite," said Miller, a wife and mother who works part time for a Web site. "It gives you a little place to go and relax."

Manilow Mixes Music, Passion

Source: Posted: October 26, 2000

BARRY MANILOW'S COPACABANA. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. Through Sunday. 8 tonight & tomorrow night; 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $34.50-$39.50. Info: 215-732-5446.

FYI to all you Barry Manilow fans out there: Contrary to the title, Mr. Music is not starring in "Barry Manilow's Copacabana." Not physically, anyway.

"I did everything," Manilow said via phone from his Califonia home, when asked how much bang he got for his buck, having his name hand-stamped on the title like that.

"If I could have, I would have been painting the scenery," he quipped. "I'm a hands-on kinda guy."

Twenty-two years after the catchy little ditty "Copacabana" won Manilow his very first Grammy, the song-story of Rico and Lola has morphed into a full-blown musical with a Latin-themed score, including 19 new songs in addition to the title number.

The show opened last night at the Merriam Theater.

When you think about it, a musical is probably the most likely evolution of a tune that has had past lives as a television movie and a Las Vegas revue-meets-Broadway-type casino show for Caesars in Atlantic City.

Manilow said this adaptation was the most taxing.

"Trying to make a three-minute song into a 21/2-hour play was the hardest," he admitted. "We were OK expanding it into a movie, because there were only about three or four songs in it and they really weren't book songs, they were performance songs.

"When they asked us to write the casino version of it, that was harder, because we needed to write some book songs that moved the story along, not just songs that the Copa girls sang."

Manilow laughed. "But when it came time to actually write a two-act musical with lots more characters, lots more story? That was really challenging. . .When you're trying to write a Broadway musical, you don't start like this."

Since he was working with such a simple and well-known tale - even people who aren't Manilow fans are familiar with the song's characters, "the blood and the single gunshot," etc. - Manilow and longtime collaborators Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman decided to focus on how they'd tell the story, rather than the story itself.

"What we finally landed on was writing a show that was a tribute to the 1940s technicolor musical movie, because that's exactly the kind of story they told in those musicals," Manilow said.

"They were stylish and colorful and musical and beautiful, and that's how they got around telling a very simple, quickly moving story. The lovers fall in love much too quickly, the hero kidnaps her much too quickly and much too easily, but that's what they would have done in a '40s musical."

With "Barry Manilow's Copacabana," the singer, who in the early '70s was the pianist for a young Bette Midler's campy revues, is actually returning to his first love.

"We've always had one foot in theater and one foot in pop music," he explained. "Theater was really where we all wanted to be when we began, but then suddenly - and surprisingly - my career as a performer took off.

"I never tried being a performer. I was only going to be a writer. And then it took off so big that it stopped me and my collaborators from pursuing any theatrical aspirations."

Not that he's complaining about a career spanning more than two decades, filled with Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards, and thirty Top 40 hits including "I Write the Songs," "This One's for You," "Trying to Get the Feeling," "Even Now" and "Mandy."

"I've been in the entertainment business for 110 years now," he teased, "and I still believe that my job is to make you feel better at the end of the show than you did when you walked in. That's exactly what I try to do when I'm performing, and that was my goal with this show."

"The few times I've seen it, people come out and they shake my hand and they thank me for an evening of entertainment that was just what they expected from a Barry Manilow 'something.'

"They walk in from a hard day's work and they walk out smiling," added Manilow. "That's what I think entertainment should be."

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Manilow, all irony-free

Source: Posted: July 29, 2002

During Saturday's second sold-out night of Barry Manilow's Mann Center run, I had an epiphany:

The million-selling singing/songwriting sensation is not an ironic icon of the '70s and '80s made hip. His songs don't swing in naughty, noir ways or languish in subtlety. Even he enthused about his "cheesy pop" being dentist-office fodder.

His all-age crowd couldn't care about hipness: Manilow was adored.

Hearing him belt grandly arching chord changes through the swelling synth-strings of "Could It Be Magic," a final falsetto on "Mandy," or the dynamic range of "Harmony" (from his Broadway musical about the Comedian Harmonists of the 1930s) brought realization: There's little hipper than a guy who shamelessly sings, with diaphragm-pulled emotion, songs containing the elegance of Tin Pan Alley and the hammy-ness of '70s schmaltz.

Devoid of glitz, Barry, looking like a Brooklyn-born Rod Stewart, offered Pure Manilow. In front of Mondrian-like scaffolding that held his ensemble, Manilow soared through vocal-student musts "Ready to Take a Chance Again," "Daybreak," a low-register "Somewhere in the Night," and "This One's for You" within 10 minutes; dueted with a nervous fan on a saccharine "Can't Smile Without You"; gyrated weirdly to discofied fare, and gladly cornballed songs from Sinatra and Garth Brooks.

Mostly, what Manilow did was offer sentimental, schlocky songs with craft, craftiness and artfulness.

Star-studded farce goes somber, sloppy

Source: Posted: July 15, 2003

There's too much going on and, at the same time, not nearly enough in Unconditional Love, a belly-flop of a farce with serious overtones from P.J. Hogan, director of Muriel's Wedding and My Best Friend's Wedding.

Kathy Bates stars as an unhappy Chicago housewife whose even unhappier husband (Dan Aykroyd) announces he's filing for divorce. The only bright spot in Grace Beasley's life is the free ticket she won to a concert by her idol, Victor Fox (Jonathan Pryce), a Welsh crooner in the Tom Jones mold. But then Fox is murdered, and a bereft Grace impulsively heads to Britain for the funeral. There she meets Dirk Simpson (Rupert Everett), Fox's secret gay lover, who has now made his presence known and is battling the surviving family for the pop star's estate.

Bates brings a certain poignancy to her lost soul of a character, a woman who has spent 25 years in the shadow of a man. But Everett never seems to find his footing in a role that's equal parts screwball and somber. A dwarf daughter-in-law (Meredith Eaton), a couple of bizarre interludes with Julie Andrews, a greedy sibling (Lynn Redgrave), and some parodic TV talk show moments with Sally Jessy Raphael and Barry Manilow as themselves add to the confusion.

Unconditional Love was shot in 1999 and has been sitting on a shelf at New Line Cinema ever since. Its American premiere at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival today precedes its national debut next month - straight to cable TV.


Following is a schedule of today's Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival events. Day-of-show tickets are $8.50 (cash only) unless noted, available all day at the venue. For schedule information and advance tickets, call the festival hotline: 215-733-0608, Ext. 4, or go to

5 p.m. Danny in the Sky (Canada). Ritz Five, 214 Walnut St.

5:15 p.m. "Cool Ladies," shorts program. Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd. Guest: Diane Wilkins, director of "Jake Ratchett: Short Detective."

5:15 p.m. Porn Theatre (France). Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St.

7:15 p.m. Lisistrata (Spain). Ritz.

7:30 p.m. The Gift (U.S.). Seaport. Discussion follows. Guest: director Louise Hogarth.

7:30 p.m. The Politics of Fur (U.S.) Prince.

9:30 p.m. The Politics of Fur party. Sisters, 1320 Chancellor St. 21 or over. Free.

9:30 p.m. Bizarre Love Triangle (South Korea). Ritz.

9:45 p.m. Unconditional Love. See castbox.

9:45 p.m. Of Men and Gods (Haiti). Seaport.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or

Unconditional Love

** (out of four stars)

Written by Jocelyn Moorhouse and P.J. Hogan, directed by Hogan. With Kathy Bates, Rupert Everett and Jonathan Pryce.

Running time: 2 hours, 1 min.

Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (adult themes, profanity)

Playing at: 9:45 tonight and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Prince Music Theater,

1412 Chestnut St.

Songs for sale Kenny Loggins is the latest to peddle his musical wares on QVC.

Source: Posted: June 13, 2009

Irrepressible QVC program host Shawn Killinger is launching Q Check, the home shopping network's noon segment.

At the top, she teases the appearance of Kenny Loggins. Behind her, the veteran singer-songwriter and his backing trio perform the opening chorus of Donovan's "There Is a Mountain."

For the next 25 minutes, Loggins stands patiently under the lights on the set while Killinger blitzes through offerings for necklaces ("18-carat gold for under $80," she marvels), nylon blouses, and combo birdfeeder/birdbaths.

Then, as promised, Loggins sings two songs.

The singer is selling his new album, All Join In, at QVC's madly bustling suburban campus in West Chester.

We're not at Live Aid anymore, kids.

Welcome to the brave new world of music marketing.

Loggins is among the well-known musicians, from Neil Diamond to James Taylor, who have made the pilgrimage to the mecca for discount beauty products, jewelry, and household items to sing for their suppers.

Barry Manilow and Alabama set the benchmarks for this strategy, each moving more than 40,000 units in an hour's time.

"We're not looking for a specific genre," says Rich Yoegel, QVC's director of merchandising for sports and music. "What we're looking for is somebody who has a broad appeal, somebody who has what I would refer to as a cult following."

Loggins fits that designation. Over a nearly 40-year career, he's created hits from folk ("House at Pooh Corner") to soft rock ("Your Mama Don't Dance") to soundtrack smashes ("Footloose").

Some musical visitors to QVC really enter into the retail spirit. Dancer-turned-country-star Julianne Hough, for instance, stuck around, spatula in hand, to take a turn behind a backyard grill.

Loggins, 61, strives to maintain his dignity.

"Basically, I came out and did the music," he says afterward. "I didn't get involved in the pitch. I don't think that's my job."

His new collection, released on the Disney label, with songs from the Beatles, Randy Newman, and others, is music for kids. But Loggins takes pains to identify it as "a family album."

"Most children's albums are strictly for the children, and the parents have to listen to it whether they like it or not," he says. "My goal has been to make an album that parents love as much as the children."

He first got into kids' music when a former wife was pregnant with his fourth child, Luke (now 16).

"I realized that I was heading towards another few years of Barney and stuff like that. I thought, 'Somebody ought to make a record that I would like as much as my kids.' It dawned on me," he says, laughing, "that it would probably be me."

That insight resulted in two collections of lullabies - Return to Pooh Corner in 1994 and More Songs From Pooh Corner in 2000.

The artfully rumpled troubadour notes that the music business has changed radically in that interim. His last pop collection, for instance, 2007's How About Now, was sold exclusively at Target.

"Everything is a marketing opportunity," he says, pointing to the fact that Disney has enrolled him on Twitter.

"It's bizarre what's happening now," he says. "My son, Crosby, who is 28, is coming out with his second album for Jive. He told me the other day he was running a 102 fever and had to go and play in a conference room at People magazine for about 25 people. They would never have brought something like that to me back when I was young and starting out."

The old stuff still has its appeal. Loggins is touring this summer with his early '70s partner, Jim Messina. The duo broke up in 1976, but advance sales have been brisk.

"I think it's the nostalgia ticket that is getting stronger right now," he says.

As for the new album, it doesn't go on sale until next month. But you can preorder the $19 package for $17.39 exclusively on QVC.

As Loggins performs, a group of elderly folks wanders by above him on a glassed-in balcony. Tours of QVC's 11,000-square-foot facility: $7.50 for adults. Leaving hourly.

Before Loggins has taken off his guitar and left the set, Killinger is already flogging the Satchel of the Day: a Hobo bag with buckle accents. Retails for $89. Yours for $79. Shipping and handling: $7.22.

Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or Read his recent work at daveondemand.

Barry Manilow reveals the Philly nightclub he played with Bette Midler that inspired him to go solo

Posted: September 13, 2017

Don’t call what Barry Manilow is doing at the Wells Fargo Center a “tour.” The singer, songwriter, pianist and arranger gave up the road’s long slog in 2015 when he married his manager, Garry Kief, turned 72, and decided his 50-year career — writing and producing commercial jingles, playing piano for Bette Midler at New York’s Continental Baths, selling over 80 million records worldwide — should slow down.

Yet, he’s dropped a new album, This Is My Town: Songs of New York that hit the Top 10 upon release, is readying another record, and continuing his instrument-giving Manilow Music Project, in which he trades musical instrument donations for free tickets to his show (drop off any instruments to the Wells Fargo Center box office through Friday, or call 800-298-4200 for more information). “Bring them down to the Wells Fargo,” Manilow says. “We’ll fix them up, and give them to a school that need them.”

So you got married, took a break, but it didn’t wind up as much of a break. Did you get bored?

Yes and no. A new album was part of the plan, as were one-off shows — maybe a weekend or two — as I never want to stop performing. I just wanted to get off the road and hotels. I’ll never do that again.

Throughout the time that you were a touring artist, you never had a chance to sightsee. Now, that you’re chilled, have you gone anywhere?

No [laughs]. I just didn’t feel like leaving home. Getting those suitcases out, emotionally, kills me. And I never got to truly enjoy my home until now. I can live my life now.

Age is a number. From the Rolling Stones and the Who to Tony Bennett and Marilyn Maye: They maintain, carry on, create and have aesthetically rewarding careers.  Is there a career you’ve watched grow up gracefully that acted as inspiration?

You’re right about age as I just can’t seem to connect with that number. Luckily, nothing has changed about me. Not my hair, my weight. I’m still skinny, the hair is full and I have all this music in me. Projects galore are set to follow. I feel like I’m 35, so I’m not getting old. Not yet.

Concerning the New York album, Did living in San Diego make you yearn for the NYC you remembered?

Well, that was my beginnings, and so exciting, realizing that I could have a career in music. When I got out of Brooklyn as a piano player, then going form gig to gig and recording studios in fast cabs for another company I had to jingles for — so thrilling.

What gave life to this new album then, because it is not the pop sound of our youth or yours?

When I slowed having pop hits, the albums that followed Read ‘Em and Weep were … well I couldn’t keep doing records that just had 10 love songs. I would bore myself with that. I had to find a concept that turned me on. 2 A.M. Paradise Café, Showstoppers, they all had these big ideas to them. Since I always wanted to pay tribute to my hometown, I ran the idea by Danny Bennett [Tony’s son, who runs the Verve label] and he loved it.

You wrote and/or co-wrote nearly all the songs on the new album. After the thousands already out there, how does one write an original song about NYC?

When I looked up New York songs on Google I had to stop at 10 pages, because I did want to make the new album half my songs and half others. And there are amazing, legendary songwriters who’ve tackled the subject. I just kept it personal. I loved Coney Island, because that was my coming up. I stuck to my experiences and came up with “On the Roof.” Sometimes, I work with a lyricist [Bruce Sussman], but the ideas are mine, so only two New York guys could’ve come up with “This is My Town.”

Because you are a quote-unquote pop legend, people forget how talented an arranger you are. You really sink your teeth in here, as the arrangements subtly merge bop, Broadway and orchestral music. What are you looking to do, as they don’t sound like anyone else?

It’s an amalgamation of all the styles I’ve loved. Big band, jazz, Tin Pan Alley pop — I think that I’ve put all of that into my arrangements. I can’t do rap and you won’t hear hip hop, because that isn’t me. You’ll always get big modulation, strings where they’ll surprise you, you’ll always get a grand finale, because that’s the Broadway stage in me.

“The Brooklyn Bridge” has you sampling Mel Torme’s voice, but using your arrangement on his version of the track. Sinatra did it before him. What’s your relationship with that tune, and Torme too, as you guys worked on Paradise Café together?

Right. Sinatra did it as a ballad and Torme bopped it up. I was trying to re-arrange it, but couldn’t hear it without Mel. I put my own stuff underneath, but it was very close to his — I couldn’t make it better. He was great, one of the few encouraging people when I came out of pop, into jazz. He was the guy who told me ‘It’s about time, Barry,’ when I mentioned doing jazz.

You were a behind-the-scenes musician at your start. When did you realize that you could be out-front?

Seriously, at the old Bijou Café in Philly. I was playing for Bette who was the greatest entertainer ever, and was just starting to sing out, first doing openers for Bette’s tours. I couldn’t figure what to do with my legs, I was terrible. But during the end of our run there, I did “Could It Be Magic” and a commercials medley and the audience was so welcoming. After that, I got confidence. I learned on the job. But Philly was crucial.

We have to discuss your Philly instrument-gifting program, the Manilow Music Project.

Whenever I play, I donate a piano, and then during my show, I’ll ask the audience if they have any old instruments gathering dust [and donate to those in need]. As a musician, I can’t stand seeing kids without instruments.


Barry Manilow

    • 7:30 p.m. Friday, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.
    • Tickets:  $19.75-249.75.
    • Information: 800-298-4200,

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