Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Classic Film Review: West Side Story

A local theatre is showing classic films on the big screen for just $4, so I decided to go and see "West Side Story". This musical was made in 1961 and the music is by Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics are by Steven Sondheim. The choreography is by Jerome Robbins. No wonder this is considered a classic. It is a gem of a film with incredible performances. The film has the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, 2 New York street gangs. Tension arises when Tony and Maria fall in love since she is Latino and he is not. The screen is packed with talented singers, dancers and actors. It is a film with moments of romance, suspense, glee and sadness. Surprisingly, most of the cast from this film did not go on to be well known with the exception of Natalie Wood (Maria) and Rita Moreno (Anita). It's a love story between Tony and Maria, but it's also about street gangs in New York, whites vs. Puerto Ricans, cops vs. society, interracial relationships, and youth in rebellion. The movie featured many songs which are well known still today, over 50 years later. The soundtrack includes "I Feel Pretty", "America", "There's a Place for Us", "Something's Coming", "Tonight" and more. The soundtrack spent 54 weeks at number 1 on the Billboard album charts. If you get a chance to see this on the big screen, do it. Watching it is a delight.

**Some information from and

Monday, April 07, 2014

Tech Guru Kim Komando's Radio Show is a Winner

If you want to learn more about computers, TVs, digital cameras, and all things tech, check out Kim Komando's radio show. Her show airs on the weekends, and she has lots of down-to-earth advice. She takes calls from listeners and she has a long history of working with computers. Go to her website here to get information from "America's Digital Goddess". There you can listen to the show, listen to a podcast, find a station near you that carries the show, find topics discussed on the show and connect via social media. She writes a weekly column about technology for USA Today. The show is based out of Phoenix, and it has become the most popular weekend radio show in the nation. She has hosted her radio show for 20 years. She started the West Star radio network. The network is based out of a 6,000 square foot building. There are plans to quadruple the size of the building. The show is great since it gives good advice on things like how to avoid computer viruses, the pros and cons of different tablets, laptops and desktop computers, getting the most out of your smartphone, how to choose the best HDTV or digital camera, and much more. This past weekend she talked about how to bank online securely, and places to never use your debit card.

Friday, April 04, 2014

David Letterman Announces His Retirement

After working in late night TV since 1982, David Letterman announced yesterday that he will retire from CBS in 2015. Dave hosted the "Late Night with David Letterman" show on NBC from 1982-1993. After the debacle with Carson leaving and Leno stepping in, Dave went to CBS to host "Late Show with David Letterman" starting in 1993. His hero Johnny Carson worked in late night TV for 30 years, from 1962-1992. So, I wondered if Letterman would step down in 2012, which would have been his 30th year in late night.

The conversation will invariably now turn to the question of who will be Letterman's replacement. Unlike Johnny Carson, Letterman has not had guest hosts who step in when he is gone. With Carson, we were able to see people audition to replace Johnny. Leno and Letterman and many others stepped in for Johnny when he was off so we saw how they would do as hosts. When Leno left, Fallon and Meyers had been lined up in advance to take over the late night NBC shows. They had no talk show experience but they had both worked as Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchors. I wonder if in his last year, Letterman may have some guest hosts.

I think that these people will be discussed as possible replacements for Letterman.

Conan O'Brien
He really got a raw deal with NBC and he's now with TBS. I'd love to see him get the position since he's a top notch interviewer and he has a comic creativity that few others have.

Jay Leno
This is a long shot since he has already hosted for many years on NBC and he's not a young guy, but I wonder if CBS may consider him anyway. He might want to just stick to his stand up and tinkering with his cars.

Jon Stewart
He is a funny guy, but would he want to leave his deal at Comedy Central where he is already making a lot of money and he is in his element?

Stephen Colbert
He is so good with his Colbert Report, so he would probably be considered by CBS, but I don't know if he would want to do a mass appeal show. Plus he would be himself, not doing a character.

Chelsea Handler
She is leaving her show on E! so CBS might want to go with a female host. She is a good stand up and she has interviewed a lot of people on her show.

Craig Ferguson
Often a network will take the 12:35 am host and put them in at the 11:35 pm slot. His humor is too absurd for 11:35, and I often wonder how he stays on the air, with his same bits every night. Hopefully CBS does not do the thing that NBC did with moving Jimmy Fallon to an hour earlier.

Probably the most likely person would be someone not mentioned here. Someone out of left field may get it. CBS may want a young person to battle the young audience being attracted by Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers. When Letterman moved to CBS in 1993, NBC plucked a name out of nowhere to replace him at 12:35, and that was Conan O'Brien. CBS may find a comedy writer or a comedian that none of us would expect.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Ron Bennington: Entertainment Interviewer Extraordinaire

Celebrity interviewers are a dime a dozen. But, not many do it well. Many do not truly listen to the responses of the person they are interviewing. So many interviewers are only thinking about what their next question will be. Johnny Carson was a top notch interviewer since he really listened and would not go by his notes, rather he would let his next question come from the response to the previous question.

Ron Bennington from Sirius/XM is one of the best celebrity interviewers working today. He does not get the attention he deserves. Satellite radio is not heard by that many people, so many do not hear Bennington's interviews. But, luckily they can be heard for free online. He hosts "The Ron and Fez Show" on Sirius/XM's "Raw Dog" channel. He also has a show called "Ron Bennington Interviews". He talks with various actors, musicians, directors, and others from the world of entertainment. He has talked with people like Willem DaFoe, Oliver Stone, John Lithgow, Jessica Lange, Mayim Bialik, Robert Randolph and many more. His other show is called "Unmasked". That show is dedicated to talking with comedians. He has chatted with comics such as Todd Barry, David Steinberg, Jane Lynch, Tim Conway, Lisa Kudrow and many more. You can listen to these interviews here.

Ron does a fantastic job with these interviews since he is passionate about movies, TV, music and all things entertainment. He knows how to talk to comedians since he is a former comedian himself. He owned a comedy club in the 1980's in Clearwater, Florida. He has worked in radio for almost 30 years, first as the co-host of Tampa, Florida's "Ron and Ron Show" with Ron Diaz. In Florida he met Fez Whatley and they have worked together in Florida, Washington D.C. and at their current gig in New York City. Find out about "The Ron and Fez Show" at this link.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Career of Jazz Artist Jack Sheldon

Generation X people will no doubt remember the Saturday morning "Schoolhouse Rock" animated segments from the 1970's. Two of the most popular cartoons were "Conjunction Junction" and "I'm Just a Bill". The voice on those was provided by Jack Sheldon. He has voiced spoofs of those characters for "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy". He is also the voice of the character Louie the Lightning Bug. Many may not know about the life of Sheldon, who is much more than just the "Schoolhouse Rock" guy. He is a respected jazz trumpet player/singer. At 82 years old, he lives in the Hollywood Hills and still performs in jazz clubs as a singer/trumpet player. He was Merv Griffin's sidekick/trumpet player for his long running daytime talk show.

Sheldon has dabbled in the world of acting, appearing as the star of the 1966 TV show "Run Buddy Run". He also appeared in the 1976 film "Freaky Friday". He was in the 1991 film "For the Boys" with Bette Midler and James Caan. He had roles in legendary TV series such as "Adam 12", "Petticoat Junction" and "Dragnet".

He has played trumpet on many TV soundtracks such as "Moonlighting", "The Munsters" and "In the Heat of the Night". He played trumpet on many film soundtracks including "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

In 2008 a documentary was released about his life called "Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon". The film talked about his struggles with substance abuse and his turbulent life. It featured appearances by Billy Crystal, Clint Eastwood, Dom DeLuise and Sheldon's former boss, Merv Griffin.

He suffered a stroke in 2011 and needed to learn to play his trumpet with his left hand. Read about his return to performing in November of 2013 here.

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