Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy 70th Birthday, Cher, from Buddy B!

"Stars never die, they just fade away." Pop singer/ superstar Cher certainly refuted that adage by her sheer longevity.

It's been said that after an atomic blast, there'd be nothing left but roaches and Cher. Such is her legend as a survivor.

Today, May 20th, 2016, Cher -- a fellow Taurus -- turns 70. What a wonderful milestone for a timeless icon.

Cher started in show business as half of Sonny and Cher. She was a shy teen at the time but somewhere that all changed.

It was when Cher was appearing on the tv variety series, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Cher was sick of her husband's overly controlling behavior and decided to take her career and her life back into her own control.

Cher has won an Oscar,, a Grammy, an Emmy among other prestigious awards.

She has a transgender son, Chaz, and has long been a big supporter of the LGBT community throughout the world.

They say black don't crack. Neither does white -- if you can afford all the work Cher's had done to her face over the years.

Some people think Cher is a vocal lightweight but she is not I assure you, after seeing her many times live in concert. Her voice is strong, throaty but powerful.

Like Joan Crawford, Cher's incredible career spanning six decades has depended upon her reinventing and adapting of her image for the public.

Happy 70th birthday, Cheilyn Sarkisian!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rubbing Elbows: My Brushes with Celebrities chapter 16

In the summer of 2015, promoter Nick Lion and I were guests of my Facebook friend, music producer Bob Esty, to see Pia Zadora at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan.

It was here that I became fast friends with club owner Bernie Furshpan. After he read my review of this show, he started giving me press passes to his shows.

The Metropolitan Room is a New York City treasure, where live cabaret is still very much a lively art. It features established and rising stars alike. Pia is in the first category.

I have long admired her from afar. She is a complete professional in every way.

Don't underestimate Pia's talent. She can sing a mean, operatic "O Solo Mio" that will knock your socks off. She is underestimated as a singer.

Pia's career was faltering when she when Frank Sinatra took her under his wing. They're fellow Hoboken, New Jersey people by birth. Hoboken is right across the river from New York City.  It's an easy commute there by Path train or ferry. I know; I lived there for a year.

Esty's stage direction was expert and it was so terrific for me to meet my Facebook friend, whom I blogged about and interviewed, at last. It was also a thrill to meet Pia after the show.

Ms Zadora makes a mean cocktail she calls a Piatini. Since Nick and I were seated right up front, she had the staff bring each of us one again.

Pia now lives -- and frequently performs -- in Las Vegas. Viva!

She was married to billionaire Meshulam Riklis but they were divorced. She is currently married to a Vegas police detective, Michael Jeffries. She has three kids.

And, so, my my celebrity blog was essentially born as I saw precisely what I wanted to do after writing up my review of this show.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Buddy Beaverhausen's Random Thoughts: Remembering Doris Roberts

Actress Doris Roberts left us on April 17 of this year. I hesitated to put that on my blog then because of the overwhelming number of celebrity deaths early this year. I don't want this turning into an obituary blog.

Doris lived to a ripened age 90. She worked as a stenographer as she struggled to pursue her heart's longing as an actress.

Doris is probably best known as the overbearing mom, Marie, on the tv sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond.

Doris was born in the Bronx, NYC, as Doris May Green. She became a successful character actress and appeared on tv in early tv shows like The Naked City, The Defenders and Ben Casey. She then was featured in films, including one of my favorites, The Honeymoon Killers.

I first took notice of Ms Roberts when she played Dorelda Doremus, a phony psychic and faith healer.

So, finally, Buddy Beaverhausen says goodbye to the late great actress Doris Roberts, star of stage, screen and tv. You are missed band long admired. RIP.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Buddy Beaverhausen's Random Thoughts on the Changing Face of Blanche Dubois

When they decided to make Tennessee Williams' hit Broadway show, A Streetcar Named Desire, into a film, they brought Marlon Brando, Kim Stanley and Karl Malden along but ditched its original Blanche Dubois, Jessica Tandy in favor of a big name at the time. Hollywood decided on Vivien Leigh. I think they wanted audiences to see Blanche as sort of Scarlett O'Hara going mad.

Vivien does a bang-up job as Blanche in the 1951 film and, clearly, is the Blanche most people remember and the one against whom all others will be compared. Elia Kazan, who directed the show on the Broadway stage, also directs the film with style and great dramatic flair.

I saw Streetcar on Broadway in 1982. Jessica Lange was a fabulous Blanche Duboise and put amazing physicality into her performance, especially into her mad scene at the end. She threw herself to the floor and proceeded to crawl around on all fours. It must have been exhausting for her. especially on days when she had a matinee and evening performance to do. Alec Baldwin made a great Stanley and Amy Madigan was equally engaging as Blanche's sister Stella.

Ann-Margret was in a 1984 tv-movie version. While she wasn't half bad as Blanche, Treat Williams was all wrong for the role of Stanley. He just did not have the brute physicality required of the role.

A Streetcar Named Desire is a now-iconic work and a marvel, a masterpiece of American theater. It was withstood the test of time. I'm sure we'll see more revivals in the future. But which actresses today could assay the coveted role of Blanche? And can a musical or operetta be in the works?

Cine Beaverhausen: Money Monster

Money Monster was released on my birthday, May 13th. It stars George Clooney, and Julia Roberts along with a sturdy support cast.

It's a political thriller but mostly quite predictable to the end. However, it's an intense film for mature-minded audiences wary of the onslaught of brainless action films.

The film's masterfully directed by Jodie Foster. The story involves a young man with a gun. nicely portrayed by Jack O'Connell, who lost all his money on the stock market. He comes after tv-renowned Clooney, whom he believes is responsible for his losses. Domestic terrorism of sorts is in focus.

Foster's no stranger to this kind of territory, what having done The Panic Room and Flightplan, that film where her daughter is held hostage on an airplane. Her success has benefitted from her diversity as actress, producer and director. Julia Roberts, who I once considered a romcom lightweight, is particularly good in this.

While worthy of viewing, you can definitely wait this one out till it arrives on video.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rubbing Elbows: My Brushes with Celebrities chapter 15

Vicki Sue Robinson was a sweetheart. I met her briefly after her show on 42nd Street. It was a terrific show and Vicki didn't disappoint, doing all of her dance floor hits and a couple of numbers from Jesus Christ Superstar She was part of the ensemble cast on Broadway.

Vicki entered, walking down the aisle with a rotating, shimmering disco ball on her head. Best known for her monster hit, "Turn the Beat Around,"

The year was 2000. and the singer was ebuliant on-sstage.At a brief meet and greet afterwards, however, she did seem a bit tired and wary as I shook her hand.

Within a month afterwards, the diva died of cancer complications. Sadly, she must have known this show would be her last.

Her show that night included all her hits including the then-recent hits, the Junior Vasquez-produced "House of Joy" (one of my favorites)  and "Move On."

My friend and I met her husband on the street, "Vicki's not well tonight," he glumly told us. We already prepared for the worst.

I saw the late Tammy Wynette (who had five costume changes) and Laura Nyro, each at The Bottom Line (long after I had worked there). I also met Joan Rivers after her show at Fez in the East Village. Joan was disarmingly sweet and kind after her show. It was my friend Kevin who got us in backstage to meet her.

I developed a complex, fearing I was becoming the Angel of Death!

Nona Hendryx  of Labelle also performed at Fez one night. The late Luther Vandross sat at a nearby title. and blew kisses at her from his seat. I was lucky to have met both artists after the show.

So many memories of the great and the late.

Video Beaverhausen: Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues

I remember going to see Lady Sings the Blues when it just opened at theaters. I was attending University of Colorado in 1972 when my friend, Lynne, and I went to a theater on the edge of town. I remember it was windy and the tumbleweed was sweeping all over the ground that night, making our walk to the movies cumbersome at best.

I also recall Diana Ross giving a powerful, star-worthy performance she received an Academy Award nomination for her tour-de-force acting.

Lady Sings the Blues is very old-school Hollywood biopic. It was even upon its release. And that's what everyone loved about it. It was a box-office smash. It was also critically praised, generally,

This was Miss Ross' first and best screen acting job. She shimmered like a legendary superstar. Unfortunately, after her debut on the silver screen, the quality of the films she did suffered.

Lady Sings the Blues is the sugar-coated true story of Billie Holiday. The drug and rehab scenes, however, are harrowing and haunting. Lady Day's life was much more troubled. Also, I'm not sure the film makes clear what a huge success Holiday was in her time.

The movie was directed by Sidney J, Furie. Hunky Billie Dee Williams plays Diana's love interest (a fictional character since Holiday was basically a lesbian), and Richard Pryor is wonderful as the character only known as Piano Man, a tragi-comic part.

The film was a real breakthrough for black talent.

Still, this is a wonderful film to curl up with on video. The best-selling soundtrack is still available as well. Music orchestrated by Michel Legrand. Co-produced by Berry Gordy. A Paramount release.