Thursday, October 27, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Movie mavens and music lovers

Ava — Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (with a little help from Annette Warren).
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Thursday's Tossed Salad: Cyndi Lauper ... Scarlett Johansson ... Annette Warren Returns! ... Graham Norton, Oscar Host? ... "Hamilton" — the store!

“AS a longtime fan of Graham Norton and the show’s format (I love the red chair!), I hope you will find the show with Richard Gere.  He must not have appreciated being ‘one of the blokes on the sofa.’ When Gere was introduced, he did a l-o-n-g, s-l-o-w walk across the front of the stage performing the kingly ‘twist the light bulb wave.’

“I guess it surprised me; not what I expected from a humble Buddhist.”
Richard Gere's long, slow walk.
That is one of many notes we received about the (apparently very popular!) Graham Norton Show.  We wrote last week about looking up episodes on YouTube to take our mind off politics. 

We received many suggestions on finding this or that particular guest.  Norton himself seems to be as much a draw as his many and varied visitors. One person wrote: “Don’t you think Graham would be ideally perfect as the host of the Oscar telecast?! Can’t you drop a little word their way?”
Well, Mr. Norton has certainly met and interviewed every major star in the world, and he has a fine sense of the ribald, if not as dangerous a presence as Ricky Gervais. 

So, word dropped: look into Graham as an Oscar host.
CYNDI LAUPER’s annual performance gala, “Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for The Holidays” happens on December 3rd at New York’s fabulous Beacon Theater.  This benefits awareness about LGBT youth.  One hundred percent of the proceeds support Cyndi’s True Colors Foundation.

Among the guests this year: Billy Corgan ... Aloe Blacc ... Ballets with a Twist ... Judy Gold ... Kate Bornstein ... Maya Jupiter ... Sara Ramirez ... Grace VanderWaal ... Sharon Van Etten ... Oxymorons. Carson Kressley will perform hosting duties. Go to starting tomorrow.
Lauper is still riding high on her country-themed album “Detour” (this debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s Country Chart). Cyndi is beloved everywhere. In Australia, the pop icon’s 2012 self-described “docu-soap” “Still So Unusual,” is being aired on that continent’s 9LIFE channel.   

It originally ran on America’s WE TV network.  Maybe, considering Cyndi’s fresh success, it should show again, here? I never saw it.  (And of course, what else matters but our wants and needs?)
SAVE THE DATE:  Movie mavens and music lovers surely know the name Annette Warren. Not only was she the “secret” singing voice of stars such as  Ava Gardner (in “Show Boat”) and Lucille Ball, Annette also had a long successful career in nightclubs, TV and on records.

Annette Warren.
She was much in demand at Manhattan’s most soigné spots — The Blue Angel, Ye Little Club, One Fifth Avenue, the St. Regis Maisonette and the Bon Soir.

Now, a vibrant Annette Warren, age 94, will return to New York, New York on March 30th, at Feinstein’s/54 Below.  She will present her one-woman show, aptly titled “I Ain’t Done Yet.”  Annette will sing and reminisce about her 70-year career.  She will be accompanied on piano by award-winning John McDaniel. Warren’s protégé, young opera star Aaron Blake, will also appear. (Aaron debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, in “La Traviata” the night before Ms. Warren’s performance.)

A two-CD compilation of her recordings has recently been released by Fresh Sound Records, and Miss Warren is busily putting the finishing touches to a brand new album. She ain’t done yet, indeed!

Call 646-476-3551 for ticket info. 
Lucille Ball in "Sorrowful Jones" — Annette Warren provided the singing voice.
P.S.  Annette Warren’s dubbing efforts for Ava Gardner in “Show Boat” became famous because those efforts came as something of a shock to Ava.

Gardner had worked hard on her soft, smoky voice — which had been heard in other films — and she had been assured that audiences would be enjoying her version of “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine.”  But MGM decided her character, Julie, required a “more professional” sound, and Warren was tapped.
Ava Gardner (lip)singing "Bill" in "Show Boat."
Ava was furious, as only she could be. (In other words, she froze the blood of strong men!) Gardner did demand that at least her voice be used on the soundtrack album. The studio, trembling, agreed to that.

Ava groused about this for years. (Well, just as Lena Horne groused for years about Ava — who was a close friend — getting the role in “Show Boat” at all! Lena felt she should have been the one to play the tragic mulatto, Julie.) 
However, Warren’s renditions of “Bill” and “Can’t Help Love Lovin’ That Man of Mine” were highly regarded.  So much so that Barbra Streisand credited them as “inspirations” during the recording of Streisand’s acclaimed “The Broadway Album.”
WHEN WE noted yesterday that 2017 would be “the year of Zelda Fitzgerald” we didn’t even know about the third project being planned around Zelda. (Christina Ricci is playing her in a TV series and Jennifer Lawrence is attached to a Ron Howard production about the life of Zelda.) 

Now Scarlett Johansson wants in, with a movie titled “The Beautiful and the Damned,” which of course is the name of one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous books, in which he liberally borrows from his (and Zelda’s) own private life.
Scarlett — will she soon be "beautiful and damned?"
Mark Gill, the head of Millennium Films, which is putting up the money for the Johansson movie says Zelda remains a vital subject not so much because of her “madness” and tragedy, but that she was “massively ahead of her time, and took a beating for it.”

Somewhere, Zelda is shaking her golden bobbed hair, swinging her beads, dancing the Charleston on a table top, and paying no mind at all to F. Scott. 
HOW DO you know when something becomes iconic?  Well, in the case of Broadway’s great hit, “Hamilton” it’s when a store devoted solely to “Hamilton” merchandise opens.
Yes, there are any number of shops in the theater district crammed with memorabilia and t-shirts and cups and knick-knacks, but The Hamilton Shop” (235 West 46th Street), is the very first Broadway-product store dedicated to one show’s merchandise. Look for your “Lion King” coffee mug elsewhere.

Along with hoodies, hats, books, etc, new products will be added over time. This is probably a good, secure place to work.  “Hamilton,” the show, will be around, raking in millions — and encouraging chachka-buying — for a long time!

Contact Liz here.