When you go pay your respects at the grave of Elvis Presley you can add a new dimension to "till
death do you part" by legally declaring your hunka hunka burnin love while you're mourning the
For over 10 years Elvis Presley reigned supreme in Las
Brand new at Graceland - by popular demand - the new Wedding Chapel, adjacent to the grave.
We're not sure if you get married by an Elvis impersonator, although you can in Las
It's that time of year again - the anniversary of when Elvis Presley left the building.
Under the any excuse for a party banner, the frivolity began last week on the downtown streets of
Tupelo, the Second Annual Elvis Presley Festival, August 3-6, which was a hometown tribute to
the King of Rock & Roll.
The festival included stages featuring everything from vintage rock & roll to gospel, a classic car
and motorcycle show, street dances, a bike race, a foot race, food and merchandise vendors and
tours of key points around Tupelo relating to Elvis' early years around Tupelo.
On hand were the Jordanaires, for over 40 years, known worldwide as one of the most versatile
vocal quartets in music. The group provided vocal and even instrumental music for Elvis
beginning with his first RCA recording sessions and continuing with virtually every recording he
made through 1970. The group is featured prominently on 28 Elvis movie soundtracks, appearing
on-screen in several. Together longer than any vocal group active today.
Elvis with his backup group the
Then it's on to Memphis for Elvis Week 2000 which runs through Wednesday. Today, members
of Presley harmonizers the Imperials - Joe Moscheo, Terry Blackwood, Jim Murray and Sherman
Andrus - will sing for a gospel brunch.
The year 2000 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the MGM concert film Elvis, That's
the Way It Is. Turner Entertainment, the owner of the MGM films, is preparing an exciting,
long-anticipated new edition of this program which will air on Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
channel early next year and be released on Warner Home Video and DVD. This year's Elvis Week
is themed around Elvis, That's the Way It Is and is sub-themed around Elvis' other MGM
films. Months in advance of the TV/video/DVD release of the new edition of That's the Way
It Is,Special Edition, the long-awaited remastered, re-edited edition of the beloved 1970
MGM concert film in widescreen 35 mm format it had a special screening in Memphis yesterday
exclusively for the Elvis fans attending Elvis Week 2000.
One of Presley's favorite gospel groups, the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, held its annual,
extended-family homecoming . There was the second annual Memphis Mafia get-together
happens at the Ramada Airport with Lamar Fike talking on Presley's Army years and yesterday
Marty Lacker, Presley cousin Billy Smith and one of Presley's girlfriends, Anita
George Klein staged his own annual Memphis Mafia Reunion today followed by his Elvis
Memorial Gathering at noon on Wednesday at the University of Memphis theater
A statue of Elvis Presley still stands in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel to commemorate that all his shows were SRO
Tomorrow it's "Conversations on Elvis," a seminar at the New Daisy Theatre with Sun legends
Sam Phillips, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana plus other professional and personal
And Almost Elvis: Elvis Impersonators and Their Quest for the Crown is a documentary
scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the New Daisy Theatre. Don't miss the real thing, however, when
the annual Images of Elvis International Impersonator Contest takes place daily beginning today
through Aug. 19 at the Holiday Inn Select Airport. There are literally thousands of wannabe's
and kennels full of hound dogs trying to croon their way into Elvis-dom. There are currently over
240 Elvis entertainers who do make a good living around the world.
Last but not least is Tuesday night's Candlelight Vigil, the solemn walk to Presley's Graceland
grave, where he is trying to rest in peace.
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THEATER TALK AWARDED TDF
TAP PLUS GRANT FOR CLOSED CAPTIONING
Theatre Development Fund (TDF) has awarded a TAP Plus grant to Theater Talk Productions,
producers of Theater Talk, the popular television series, now in its fifth year on
Thirteen/WNET, New York City's PBS affiliate.
Four episodes of the series, captioned for the deaf and hearing-impaired, will air Sunday, August
20 on Thirteen/WNET.
The first closed captioned episodes will be A Conversation with Broadway legend Elaine
Stritch; Remembering David Merrick with producer Emanuel Azenberg and librettist Mark
Bramble, as well as biographer Howard Kissel, author of David Merrick: The Abominable
Showman, sharing stories of the life and work of the legendary impresario.
The State of the Theater 2000, part 1 with guests: Todd Haimes, Artistic Director, Roundabout
Theatre Company; playwright Warren Leight who penned Side Man, 1999 Tony Award
winner for Best Play, Broadway columnist Jesse McKinley of The New York Times
producer Daryl Roth, drama critic John Simon of New York Magazine and librettist
Peter Stone of 1776 and Titanic fame. Taped before a live audience on March 13,
2000, the panel discusses key artistic and financial issues, pertinent to the survival of the
American theater and theatrical artists.
The State of the Theatre 2000 part 2, taped the same night, includes audience
The Theatre Development Fund is the largest non-profit performing arts service organization in
the United States. The Theatre Access Project (TAP) is a TDF program, created in cooperation
with The New York State Council on the Arts, that is designed to provide access in NYC to the
performing arts for those with physical disabilities. TAP serves theatergoers who are hard of
hearing, deaf, blind, partially sighted, people who for medical reasons cannot climb stairs, and
people who require aisle seating or use wheelchairs.
In 1980, TDF, through the TAP program, offered the first sign language interpreted performance
on Broadway, The Elephant Man. Since then, TAP has organized more than 200 sign
language interpreted performances of over 100 Broadway productions, and established guidelines
which are requested and used increasingly in other cities throughout the country.
1997, TAP expanded its services further by offering the first open captioned performance on
Broadway, Barrymore. Since then, 32 different productions have been captioned for a
total of 63 performances. Audiences for this new service continue to grow, currently outselling
sign interpreted performances by almost 40%.
There are more than 28 million people, about 10%, of the total population, with hearing loss. Of
those individuals, approximately 2 million are profoundly deaf and the majority (72%) are older,
late-deafened adults, who are not likely to be primary ASL (American Sign Language) users.
Captioning casts a much wider net in helping the far larger majority of people with
Theater Talk, which is hosted by producer Susan Haskins and Michael Riedel, Broadway
columnist of the New York Post, re-airs on Metro/Arts Thirteen and on
OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY
THE SUNDANCE INSTITUTE THEATRE PROGRAM and its yearly play writing laboratory, has been awarded a total grant of
$1.95 million. Sundance is one of nine recipients of grants from the Leading National
Program, a joint initiative of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W.
The grant - $1.5 million from Duke and $450,000 from Mellon - is the two groups' largest single
award. Sundance's Theatre Laboratory is an annual three-week workshop providing playwrights,
directors and other artists the time to develop new scripts or explore new approaches to existing
works and adaptations free from the pressure of public performance.
Projects developed in recent
years at the lab include Moises Kaufman's new drama, The Laramie Project, now playing
off Broadway; Tony Kushner's acclaimed two-part drama, Angels in America; Nilo Cruz's
Two Sisters and a Piano - which will have its regional premiere next season by the Salt
Lake Acting Company, - and Robert Schennkan's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, The
"We are thrilled to be recognized by two of this country's leading supporters of the arts," Ken
Brecher, Sundance Institute executive director said in a news release announcing the grants. "The
LNTP grant provides the theater laboratory with financial stability to realize our mission of
developing new plays designed to invigorate and nourish the theater community across the
country. The Mellon grant will help support new play development over the next three years. The
Doris Duke award will offer endowment support, to be matched, creating an ongoing revenue
stream that will help ensure artistic program support for the future.
IN THE COURTS
RITA RUDNER who is currently
starring at Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas, has been legally given her name back. The funny lady
wasn't amused when Internetco Corp. of Lehighton, PA., registered the internet domain name
ritarudner.com. Rudner filed a complaint indicating that she had to register a different Web
address www.ritafunny.com, but would "dearly love" her own name back. A United Nations
arbitrator for The World Intellectual Property Organization awarded the performer the right to
Internet domain name ritarudner.com.
GIA PRIMA widow of the late
swing-jazz singer Louis Prima, has sued Walt Disney Corp. for royalties from video and DVD
sales of the 1967 animated movie Jungle Book, in which Prima, who died in 1978, was the
voice of King Louie of the Apes, and sang I Want to Be Like You in the movie. The
Prima estate has received royalties on audio recordings of the soundtrack. Disney contends that
the singer's contract entitled him only to audio recording royalties, not those from new
technology such as videocassettes and DVD's.
GALLAGHER who uses his
trademark sledgehammer to smash watermelons, while comedically riling about the problems of
society, has scored a victory against his copycat brother. Ron Gallagher, the funnyman's
estranged sibling, was ordered by a federal judge to stop impersonating Gallagher in comedy
shows billed as "Gallagher II," in which Ron steals the shtick by smashing watermelons and other
fruits with a sledgehammer. The original Gallagher suffered a heart attack in June, which his rep
claims was brought on by the stress of the case.
CURTAIN UP IN PALM SPRINGS
The Palm Springs Stage Company is a new venture by veteran theater professionals Mary Wright
and Jim Warner, who have taken a theatrical leap of faith in the Palm Springs area of California.
MARY WRIGHT AND JIM
Their first production, a melodrama, opens this evening.
"The growth of the Coachella Valley has shown there's a demand for 'a community theater
dedicated to professional entertainment," said Warner. "After our summer tour, we will open a
permanent theater in Palm Springs." Prior to its first major production next season, Palm Springs
Stage Company will launch a touring production of The Bad, The Worse and The
Broccoli - directed by Wright, which premieres at the Miracle Springs Resort and Spa in
Desert Hot Springs tonight and will continue on the 20th and 27th. The production is a Western
parody, and an old-fashioned musical melodrama, set in the late 1800s, where we find the villain,
Baron von Broccoli, in Broken Stump - the Broccoli growing capital of the world.
Palm Springs Stage Company has filed its articles of incorporation and bylaws with the Secretary
of State to obtain its 501(c)(3) nonprofit charter. The purpose of Palm Springs Stage Company,
as stated in the articles, is "to present community theater productions, children's theater, and
educational workshops in all phases of the performing arts for the enrichment of the
cultural climate of the City of Palm Springs, in particular, and the surrounding cities in the
Coachella Valley, in general."
Wright's performing arts background includes TV, musical theater, dramatic productions, acting,
directing and teaching music. Her directing credits number more than 400 shows. She previously
taught music education and fine arts for Oklahoma City public schools and was artistic and
educational director of Oklahoma Theater Center in Oklahoma City. Subsequently, Wright
established four community theaters, three children's theaters and three performing arts schools.
Wright holds a B.A. in Music and Theater from Southwestern State University of Weatherford,
Warner plans to direct Lady Audley's Secret, an 1860 melodrama next season; he previously
directed that show and many others at Three Crowns theater, a theater organization he created in
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Warner who has an M.A. degree in Theater from Occidental College
in Los Angeles, also directed the first national touring company of "The Fantasticks," the
long-running off-Broadway musical. He created The Disney Players at Walt Disney Studios,
LOUIS ARMSTRONG finally gets
what's coming to him this Saturday in Sag Harbor, the Hamptons. A special screening of
highlights of director Ken Burns' new PBS TV series, Jazz, will be held at the Sag Harbor
Theatre with a dinner following at Sugar Reef. Organized by General Motors Vice President Rod
Gillum and Primedia CEO Tom Rogers the event benefits the Hamptons Film Festival and the
Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Wynton Marsalis is co-chair and senior creative director of
the film. Lending their support are Paul Simon, Ronald Perelman, and his wife Ellen Barkin,
Russell Simmons, David Stern, John Sykes, Andrew and Chris Cuomo, Bernie Brillstein, Brad
Grey, Matt Blank, Jonathan Tisch, Andre Leon Talley, Sonny Mehta, Bob Sillerman, Lorne
Michaels, David Granger, Caroline Miller, Michael Caruso, and Jason Binn.
Its official August 14~August 20 is - SWING WEEK! In New York City.
Naturally the cast of Swing! will be here, there and everywhere.
On Monday cast
members Ryan Francois, Jenny Thomas and Casey MacGill
will be at the Hard Rock Cafe
performing a Swing demonstration. Then in the evening they
will be joined by Laura Jeffers, a
representative of the NY Swing Society - yes, there is one - to discuss
the origins and current
state of Swing dance and music.
TURN TABLES AND CAMERA
HEATHER HEADLEY who
brought home the Tony award for her portrayal of the Nubian princess in Aida has signed
a recording contract with RCA. Headley's first effort for RCA, will be a mix of rap, ballads,
gospel, Caribbean music and pop. Hailing from Trinidad the 25-year-old is also a tunesmith. Her
CD will include several songs that Headley herself wrote, among them a rap number.
HBO FILMS & GOOD MACHINE
have acquired the film rights to The Laramie Project, which will be co-produced by Peter
S. Cane and Roy Gabay. The critically acclaimed American play
was written by Moises Kaufman
and the members of Tectonic Theater Project (TTP). Kaufman also directed the praised
To fast track the upcoming film, the Off Broadway hit show at the Union Square
Theatre, will close Saturday, September 2 after 126 performances & 23 previews. Kaufman
will direct the full-fledged movie, that will have the participation of the entire acclaimed cast as
well as that of other stars.
Starring in the play are Stephen Belber, Amanda Gronich,
Mercedes Herrero Andy Paris, John McAdams, Greg Pierotti, Barbara Pitts, and Kelli
Set design is by Robert Brill, Costume design by Moe Schell, Lighting design by Betsy
Adams, Original Music by Peter Golub with Video and Slides by Martha Swetzoff.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
LANCE BASS of N'SYNC fame is
planning a sugary side business to bolster his boffo boy-band success. The sweet-toothed teen
idol and one of his bodyguards plan to open a Krispy Kreme donut shop in Orlando.
MICHAEL CAINE has been in
and out of the restaurant business for years - at one time owning five chat and nibbles. The
marvelous actor set to reopen the Chelsea Canteen at a new site in London, with another
bistro in New York City.
JEAN STAPLETON who has been on
tour starring as Eleanor Roosevelt in Eleanor: Her Secret Journey, brings Rhonda
Lerman's one-woman play, in the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA. John Tillinger directs the
Charles H. Duggan production which will have a four-week limited engagement at the Canon
Theatre, with previews beginning September 12.
Called "a glowing portrait of this great lady," Eleanor offers an absorbing journey through
her key years of 1918-1922. From her innocuous beginnings as a socialite wife and mother of
five; the audience listens as the first lady describes her shocking tour of the brutal battlefields of
World War I. The play also reveals her yearning for the love that her husband chose to share
instead with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer; and eventually her transformation into the activist,
feminist and idealist that most Americans now recognize.
Beyond the history books and strong public face lies the private woman that playwright Lerman
reveals, one full of doubt and loneliness. Eleanor is an engaging insight into the life of a
historic figure, whose bare and solitary personal life makes her public achievements all the more
A shy, awkward child, starved for recognition and love, Eleanor Roosevelt grew into a woman
with great sensitivity to the underprivileged of all creeds, races, and nations. Her constant work
to improve their lot made her one of the most loved--and for some years one of the most
reviled--women of her generation.
As for First Lady Roosevelt, Emmy Award-winning actress Jean Stapleton creates a performance
The New York Times credited with "An unmistakable audience favorite, Ms. Stapleton conveys a
ruminative air, a real sense of civility, an idealistic belief in a divine process, in a man's
perfectibility. She has charm and candor."
Although she began her career on Broadway it was her role as Edith on All in the Family,
that made her a household name. Producer Norman Lear had seen her on stage in Damn
Yankees and called her to audition for Edith Bunker. "I heard that absolutely every actress
of my generation was up for the role, so I didn't put much faith in my audition," she admitted.
"We did two pilots for the show and it took the network two years to green-light the project
because they didn't think it would appeal."
JEAN STAPLETON as ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
It not only appealed but became groundbreaking. The series garnered Stapleton three Emmy
Awards and three Golden Globe Awards.
Since that series she has been dividing her time between theatre, television and film. Recent film
credits include: You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan; Michael
appearing opposite of John Travolta; and her voice was heard in Pocahontas II for Disney
and Dr. Doolittle for Twentieth Century Fox with Eddie Murphy.
On the stage she has enjoyed engagements in: Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit at the South
Coast Repertory Theatre in California, Horton Foote's Night Seasons at the
Signature Theatre in New York City, as well as his The Roads to Home at the Lamb's
Theatre, the Stepmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the New York City
Opera, and the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet for the Shakespeare Company in Washington
Playwright Rhoda Lerman is an accomplished novelist, having published Call Me Ishtar, The
Girl That He Marries, The Boo of the Night, God's Ear and Animal Acts. The play
Eleanor: Her Secret Journey was developed by Lerman from her 1979 book,
Director John Tillinger has numerous Broadway credits and was awarded an Outer Critics Circle
Award and a Tony Award nomination for his treatment of Joe Orton's Loot.
PROOF starring Mary-Louise
Parker, written by David Auburn and directed by Daniel Sullivan, will move from off-Broadway
to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre beginning October 10.
THE BEST MAN by Gore Vidale
opens September 5 at the Virginia Theatre, NYC. Directed by Ethan McSweeney the cast includes;
Charles Durning, Spalding Gray, Chris Noth, Elizabeth Ashley, Christine Ebersole, Michael
Learned, Jonathan Hadary, and Mark Blum.
IMPERFECT CHEMISTRY a new
musical about science and ethics, opens August 24 at the Minetta Lane Theater, NYC. The book
and lyrics are by James Racheff and the music is by Albert Tapper. John Ruocco directs.
BERKSHIRE THEATER FESTIVAL staged Say Yes! with words by Sherman Yellen, music by Wally
Harper and is directed by Jay Binder. August 15 through September 2.
MISCAST J. S. Staniloff's play, will
be staged at this summer's New York International Fringe Festival for 7 performances, August 17
- 26 at Charas/ El Bohio - Teatro. Phone sex, Chekhov, and a tour of Private Lives all
converge in this play about an actress who feels miscast in every role she plays--on and offstage.
The play was developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre and was produced by adobe theatre company
in July, 1993 at Soho Rep. It was also presented in 1997 at EST's Octoberfest. Under the
direction of Jaret Christopher, the cast for Miscast will be: Kelli K. Barnett, Katrishka
King, and Andrew Robbins.
LIGHT UP THE SKY takes over The
Williamstown Theatre Festival August 16-27. The revival of Moss Hart's delight has a cast that
includes Tony winner Ron Rifkin, Peter Bartlett and T. Scott Cunningham. They join Eric
Stoltz, Jessica Hecht, Enid Graham, Angelina Phillips
and Frank Wood who won a Tony for an excellent
performance as a feckless trumpet play in Side Man,
written by Warren Leight. Hart's backstage
comedy will be directed by Christopher Ashley.
42nd STREET has had its
option picked up by Dodger Theatrical, the producer of The Music Man, Titanic and The
King and I. The Dodgers will co-produce the show
with Dutch entertainment mogul Joop
van Ende. The revival will be directed by Mark Bramble,
who co-wrote the show. The revival
would likely open in Amsterdam in October and then tap
dance to New York in the
CHITA RIVERA the two time
Tony winner, will star as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter's Anything Goes at New
Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse, September 6-October 15. Lee Roy Reams directs. This won't be the first
time Chita has worked the Paper Mill. She starred in Bye Bye Birdie at the Paper Mill
with Tom Poston and Selma Diamond. That was back in 1962.
THE DONKEY SHOW
one year anniversary in New York on August 23 and has added to international productions. The
Edinburgh production opened on August 2 and the European company then opens in London at
The Hanover Grand Club on September 26.
The Donkey Show is a musically driven sensuously soaked 70 minutes which tells the
story of euphoric lust gone haywire. The show, a bewitching bacchanal based on William
Shakespeare's libido-laced A Midsummer's Night's Dream, has the action taking place in a
1970s Disco - the home of love-sick revelers lost in a forest of misguided longings.
The Donkey Show is to experience it - as the players float above the audience, glide
through the audience, dance with the audience, sing to the audience and sometimes even flirt with
the audience. Created by Diane Paulus the production opened Aug 18, 1999 at the El Flamingo
rapidly turning into an electrically charged hit.
finishing touch on her one woman Broadway show.
entertains August 21-21 in Sao Paulo and then on to Rio de Janeiro for a show on August
BETTY BUCKLEY goes across
the pond. Performing August 21-September 3 at the Donmar Warehouse in London, UK
VIOLINIST JULIA FISHER
making her New York debut in the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra the week of August
14-20. Hans Conk, conductor. Andre Watts at the piano. Avery Fisher Hall, NYC.
T.G. SHEPPARD Boomtown
Casino, Biloxi, MS on August 16.
B.B. KING BLUES FESTIVAL
featuring B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Susan Tedeschi, August 16. Starlight Theatre, Kansas
KORN performs at the
Mississippi Coast Coliseum
Biloxi, MS August 16.
THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
Grand Casino, Biloxi, MS on August 19.
performs at the
Guild Hall, East Hampton, LI this Saturday.
BERNADETTE PETERS the
two-time Tony winner, will conclude her run in Annie Get Your Gun on September 2, and
then begin a U.S. concert tour kicking off September 15 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas
CHERYL LADD will make her
Broadway debut when she replaces Bernadette Peters in the smash revival of Annie Get Your
Gun!" Steps into the role September 5, and will be "doin' what comes naturally" until
REBA McENTIRE last night
treated the people who make Pella Windows to a private concert to celebrate the company's
75th anniversary. McEntire performed at Hilton Coliseum on the Iowa State University campus
in Ames. The concert culminated a day of games, carnival rides and activities on the campus
which were open to only Pella employees and their families.
LEE LESSACK is either is great
demand or he doesn't like to linger in one place too long.
The cabaret performer entertained this
week-end at the Stockbridge Cabaret DeSisto Estate - Stockbridge, MA . Tonight he'd taking
the stage at the Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, NY. Then he's got a gig at the FireBird
Cafe , NYC Sunday, August 20 and Monday, August 21. He moves on out of town for
shows at Odettes in New Hope, PA on August 25-26.
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Next Column: August 20, 2000
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