Tag Archives: That’s Kentertainment!

Happy 92nd Birthday, Carol Channing!

31 Jan

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Happy 92nd Birthday, Carol Channing!

It’s no secret that I am a  great admirer of the legendary Carol Channing.  I’ve been blessed and lucky enough to have had the fortune to interview Carol Channing on numerous occasions (generally connected to my annual “That’s Kentertainment!: A Christmas Carol” specials or when I’m helping to promote the “Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts” started by both Carol and her sorely-missed late husband Harry).

Carol Harry

Harry and Carol: Childhood Sweethearts

Here is an excerpt from the “3rd Annual Christmas Carol”.  This interview was filmed November 27, 2004, the day after Thanksgiving.  My great friend Jason Olsen and I got up extra-early (like 4am-early) and extra-stuffed (from Thanksgiving dinner) to schlep via train to Holyoke, Massachusetts to interview Carol, who was in the area performing her show, “The First 80 Years Are The Hardest” (or at least that’s what she liked to call it!).  After some crazy mishaps (including getting on the wrong train yet somehow making a connection to the right train…don’t ask…) Jason and I arrived at the quaint “Log Cabin Inn” for the interview.  Carol and Harry were the most wonderful, generous couple imaginable and still beaming with the sparks of rekindled-love (these childhood sweethearts had reunited after 70 years and married May 10, 2003).

CarolHarryCD

Carol and Harry: July 23, 2010. Photo by Ken Kleiber

At the start of a previous one-on-one interview, Carol had clued-me-in to the fact that aiming a camera from sightly-above the subject would create a more flattering image.  When I arrived and set the camera to film from this-flattering, thinning high angle, Carol remarked, “Oh Ken…you remember how I like the camera!”.  True, but in all honesty, I was also doing this to mask my bloatage…you might notice that this angle is practically from the  ceiling.  Poor Jason on camera.

In any case, this day has gone down in my memory banks as not only one of the most-fulfilling achievements of my interviewing career, but also as one of the happiest.  For long stretches of time, I literally forgot that we were on camera and we just chatted away (which doesn’t always make me look so great on camera, but then again, the focus wasn’t on me).  At the end of the interview, Harry had remarked that Carol had told me things that even he hadn’t know about her, so it was a learning experience for him as well.  After the nearly-hour interview (the time raced on and none of us had been aware), Jason and I said our “Thank You’s” and packed-up our equipment, still sort of amazed that the previous hour had happened.  And I’m so glad that my friend was there to share this with me which made it all the more magical.

JasonOKenfx

Ken and Jason, circa 2004.

So here’s an excerpt where Carol discusses when she performed “Hello, Dolly!” for the last time with legendary producer David Merrick present and also, after reuniting with Harry, how her own life had mirrored that of Dolly Levi.  Make sure you watch to the end for an adorable clip of Harry and Carol dancing plus a stunning clip of Carol performing her “Before The Parade Passes By” monologue in 2004.  And she sums it up best in the very last line of the clip…and I take it as a blessing.

CarolKenXmas002_1

Click here for video of “Carol Channing Reminisces”

Is Carol Channing alive? YEEESSSSHHHH!

25 Aug Carol's still kickin'!

Carol and Ken: The Magic Castle 2009

OK, that’s a lousy post title, especially since many-a-Carol Channing impersonator over-exaggerates that aspect of Carol’s wonderfully unique voice and speech pattern (except Richard Skipper, who is not so much an “impersonator” but wholly (and respectfully) embodies the true Carol Channing experience).  But, back to the cliche but eye-catching title.  Earlier today the Associated Press, for some reason, put out the very erroneous story that Carol Channing had passed away.  Concerned, I called a few contacts and was overjoyed to find that the reports of Carol Channing’s death had been greatly exaggerated (thank you Mark Twain.  By the way, did you know Mark Twain was kind of a stud?).

Carol's still kickin'!

Carol & Ken share a holiday laugh.

In any case, among the folks I spoke with today was my pal Larry Ferguson who is in the finishing stages of production of Carol Channing’s new patriotic CD, “True to the Red, White & Blue” (isn’t that a great title! I love it.).  Carol’s new CD (tentatively due in stores around Veteran’s Day 2011) features some old American chestnuts like “Over There”, “God Bless America” & “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, a couple sacred songs like, “Amazing Grace”, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” (a personal favorite) and even “St. Louis Blues” (for which Carol has quite the accompanying story as to why she includes this track).  Also featured is a new version of Carol’s signature tune from HELLO, DOLLY!: “Before the Parade Passes By”.  Carol has sung this song so many times over the years and it will be great to hear a new take on this classic.  Below, you can even hear a live version from one of my annual “Christmas Carol” episodes of “That’s Kentertainment!” (you just have to get through the surreal pseudo-Peanuts Christmas-Ken-Id-Ego opening bit…another personal favorite).  :)

Speaking of surreal, here’s a quick clip of Carol Channing “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” – an except of a longer opening number from my “8th Annual Christmas Carol” from 2009.  I adore Carol and her terrific sense of humor.

Click here to see Carol "Gettin' Jiggy With It"!

So there ya have it.  Carol Channing is alive & well and ready to roll out her new CD.  At 90 years of age, this is not only impressive but also makes one ponder:  “What did I do today?”  Well, besides write this post.  :)

p.s.  Richard Skipper started a petition to get Carol Channing a well-deserved Kennedy Center Honor.  Carol Channing is an American original.  As someone once said, “If Carol Channing didn’t exist, you couldn’t make her up.”  Her legendary stage, screen and television performances plus her tireless crusade & numerous benefit appearances to bring Arts Education back to schools are inspiring to all.  Click here to sign the petition.

Carol & Ken film the 2010 That's Kentertainment! "Christmas Carol"

I Am Strong

6 Jun Dolly & The Grascals. Photographer: John Russell / CMA

MUSIC COMMUNITY GATHERS TO SUPPORT THE GRASCALS & DOLLY PARTON IN RAISING AWARENESS FOR CHILDHOOD CANCER

Lots of updates and changes are taking place behind the scenes of my website which is why I started doing this blog – to update what I can’t update while my wonky webpage is being worked out.  Wow!  I loves me my run-on sentences!  Several months ago, I added a video clip to my “That’s Kentertainment!” website entitled, “I Am Strong” featuring the bluegrass group The Grascals and the guest talents of Dolly Parton.  I first became aware of the immensely-talented Grascals when they were members of Dolly’s band on previous tours, and then opened up for Dolly in various cities, like here in NYC at Radio City Music Hall.

Dolly & The Grascals. Photographer: John Russell / CMA

Here’s a bit of the background behind the song:

“I AM STRONG,” was written by Grascals’ band member Jamie Johnson and his wife Susanne Mumpower-Johnson along with Jenee Fleenor after The Grascals visited the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in Memphis and were inspired by the stories and power of the children being treated there. “I Am Strong” is powerful in its message and artistic vision and brings together vocals from all of the artists who also appear separately with The Grascals on other tracks on this CD.

You wonder where I get it from? Dad's Bday June 4, 2010

This track truly resonates with me as my Dad, Otto “Dutch” Kleiber, passed away from pancreatic cancer about a month before this song was released.  Though it was, and is, a terrible blow to my family and myself (and all those who loved my Dad) he was at least able to live a rather full life.  We can only pray that many of the children at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital get that chance as well, and buying this CD and/or making a donation separately can help these kids live the kind of lives which many seem to take for granted.  My Dad’s birthday would have been June 4th (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!) so in honor of him (and my Mom, whose birthday is today- June 6th…HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!) and all those affected by cancer (patients and families alike) I am reposting this clip and hoping you’ll donate in any way possible.  Remember, every little bit adds up!

From the press notes:  Two versions of “I AM STRONG” have been recorded. Version 1 (above) includes award-winning, Grammy-nominated group, The Grascals, with special guest Dolly Parton.  Version 2 includes The Grascals, Dolly Parton, Randy Owen, Joe Nichols, Darryl Worley, Terri Clark, Charlie Daniels, Tom T. Hall, The Oak Ridge Boys and Steven Seagal.  The music video was directed by cancer survivor David Corlew of d. corlew films.

In honor of the children and this song, Cracker Barrel is donating a percentage of the proceeds from this CD to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The album, The Grascals & Friends – Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin, has 13 country music songs on it that you have probably heard before, but most likely not like this.  The Grascals bring their own bluegrass style to the tunes and bring the different tracks to life with eight of their friends, including Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels and Dolly Parton.  The Grascals & Friends – Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin is available exclusively at all Cracker Barrel locations.

Link to St. Jude Children's Hospital

Link to info on The Grascals

Link to Cracker Barrel Stores

The Uproarious and Exquisitely Divine Sister

3 Apr

Friday evening I saw the legendary and ambrosial Charles Busch in the uproarious Off-Broadway confection, “The Divine Sister“, also written by Mr. Busch.  This was my second visit to St. Veronica’s, the convent in which Mother Superior (Busch) and Sister Acacius (played by the always-inspiring and hysterical Julie Halston) reside. Possibly the best-written and performed play currently Off-Broadway (and Broadway, come to think of it), “The Divine Sister”  will make you laugh until all demons within are spewn-out onto the streets of New York City, or more specifically 15 Vandam Street where the show is playing until May 1 at the Soho Playhouse).  The other cast members are celestial as well:  Amy Rutberg who is giddily-glorious as Agnes (the young postulant who has healing powers and sees visions),  Jonathan Walker (who does a surprisingly accurate impersonation of fellow castmember Julie Halston…you just gotta see it to know what I’m talkin’ about)  in the dual-roles of  Jeremy & Brother Venerius, Jennifer Van Dyck (who I have adored since her stint on “The Days & Nights of Molly Dodd” and who is transcendent  in dual-roles as Mrs. Levinson & Timothy), and the immaculately marvelous Alison Fraser as both Sister Walburga (wait til you hear that dialect!) and Mrs. Macduffie (come to think of it, wait til you hear THAT dialect too…Ms. Fraser’s performance is truly heavenly.)  How about that for a run-on sentence!

The Divine "The Divine Sister" Cast

Here is how “The Divine Sister” is described in the press release: 

The Divine Sister is an outrageous comic homage to nearly every Hollywood film involving nuns. Evoking such films as ‘The Song of Bernadette,’ ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s,’ ‘The Singing Nun’ and ‘Agnes of God,’ The Divine Sister tells the story of St. Veronica’s indomitable Mother Superior (author Charles Busch) who is determined to build a new school for her Pittsburgh convent. Along the way, she has to deal with a young postulant who is experiencing ‘visions,’ sexual hysteria among her nuns, a sensitive schoolboy in need of mentoring, a mysterious nun visiting from the Mother House in Berlin, and a former suitor intent on luring her away from her vows.” It’s a “madcap trip through Hollywood religiosity” that “evokes the wildly comic but affectionately observed theatrical style of the creator of Die, Mommie, Die! and Psycho Beach Party.”

 

The Sisters take you on a ride too!

Nectarous Charles Busch as "Mother Superior"

 

Charles Busch is equally masterful in his humorous yet moving post-show Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS speech, which as you know, makes one want to contribute even more to this worthy cause (as well as the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic which the donations also support). 

 

The (holy) spirit of the show SO moved me that immediately afterwards I found myself in the Gramercy Park area at a church auditorium school dance (FOR REAL!  Don’t ask.). 

Neither a student nor a chaperone...

 I’m not quite as hep as I used to be when it comes to the latest dance crazes, but I did manage to teach the kids a mean “Bottle Dance” from “Fiddler on the Roof“. 

However, when it was discovered that I BYOB’d with a different kind of Busch for the aforementioned dance number, I quickly hightailed it out of there and skipped back to the streets of NYC where I feel most comfortable (or at least I keep telling myself that as I am 4 months behind on my rent and anticipate a happy future with all the urchins of the street who I know will welcome me with open arms and possibly even open cans of half-eaten tuna.  How’s THAT for another run-on sentence!)  But, lest I digress, “The Divine Sister” is truly one to check out and I URGE you to see it before it closes or you find yourself homeless, whichever comes first.

"That's Kentertainment!" interviews Charles Busch.

Daniel Radcliffe “Succeeds” on Broadway (Video Highlights)

30 Mar

OK, not the most original title but it gets the job done…as does Daniel Radcliffe, who makes a smashing musical comedy debut in the 50th Anniversary production of  “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying“, Frank Loesser’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece from 1961.

Daniel Radcliffe knows how to succeed.

Below I’ll post some clips (just click on the pix) from the March 27, 2011 opening night where I conducted interviews for the licensing house for “How to Succeed”, Music Theatre International.  Interestingly enough, MTI (the largest music theatre licensing company in the world) was founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser (and orchestrator Don Walker) and is now run by Chairman Freddie Gershon and President Drew Cohen.  Keep checking back as I’ll keep adding more clips and highlights to the mix:  H2S PLAYLIST.  (For more info, video clips, theatrical resources & more, visit MTI Showspace.)

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Interview Clip 1

Grand Old Ivy Jump

Video: Faber has a “long day” with Rose & Daniel

Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a The Most Happy Fella in NYC) meets Liza Minnelli

28 Mar DanielLiza 1

Earlier this evening, I covered the opening night of the latest Broadway revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS (WITHOUT REALLY TRYING), the classic Pulitzer-Prize winning musical written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.   I was fortunate enough to interview members of the cast including the uber-charming Daniel Radcliffe (of HARRY POTTER fame),  John Larroquette (of NIGHT COURT fame), Christopher J. Hanke (as Bud Frump), Rose Hemingway (as Rosemary Pilkington) and the luminious-yet-hysterically funny Tammy Blanchard (as Hedy LaRue).  Seriously, all Tammy Blanchard has to do is step on stage, make a knowing grin or even open an envelope and she is a bona-fide scene stealer every stolen step of the way.  It’s a THRILL to see someone as confident and game as Ms. Blanchard but also equally thrilling to see Daniel Radcliffe having the time of his life on stage.  These two performers reinforced my hopes and dreams for a better Broadway-experience through sheer talent and life-force (and a great book and score don’t hurt none neither!). 

Daniel Radcliffe: Seriously happy.

BUT- this isn’t a review of the show.  I just babbled a bit to express my thanks (to the Theatre Gods or whomever may be responsible) for some fine talents hittin’ the boards.  What I meant to do is post a few pix of the moment Daniel Radcliffe met Liza Minnelli.  If he wasn’t already fully-charged after soaring in his opening night performance, the addition of Liza to the after-party proceedings seemed to make Daniel Radcliffe the happiest boy in New York City.  Actually, the happiest man, since he’s already 21.  Oh heck- let’s just go there and say that Daniel Radcliffe is the most happy fella in NYC (if you don’t get that Frank Loesser reference, you need to do some homework!).

Thank you to Jason Cochran for being cameraguy-extraordinaire for the evening and capturing these most-happy-moments on film.

UPDATE:  Jason Cochran wrote a terrific post offering his perspective from behind the camera for the evening,  You can read it here. 

Also, click here for interviews and video highlights from the opening night.

 

 

Ken&Jason: HOW TO SUCCEED Opening Night

I’m a-scared of Bonnie Raitt

14 Jan

OK, I’m not really a-scared of Bonnie Raitt.  I rather enjoy Bonnie Raitt, and not in a horror-flick kind-of-way.  But I was reminiscing with my friend Ashley tonight about the time I was in East Tennessee with my friends Angie & Susan.  We decided to visit the Forbidden Caverns located in Sevierville, TN which is Dolly Parton‘s childhood neck-of-the-woods and not too far from Dollywood.

Dolly's neck

We were getting ready to start our tour when we overheard two tour guides chatting.  One of the guides mentioned that he would often run into Dolly around town.  The other tour guide, who was a fella in his early twenties, volunteered, “‘I’d have no problem meeting Dolly Parton but if I ever ran into Bonnie Raitt I’d be so a-scared I’d probably scream mah head off, hitch-up and run in the other direction!”  Well, Susan, Angie and I thought that the notion of somebody being terrified of Bonnie Raitt was just hysterical and we did the best we could to contain our laughter, but, well, we were in a cavern, so the sound traveled rather easily and loudly.  Now every time Bonnie Raitt comes to mind, I also think of that poor guy.  I thought it might be fun to find a life-size cut-out of Ms. Raitt and return to the caverns to terrorize him, howling, “Bonnie’s gonna cut ya!”  but he really was a nice tour guide.

This got me to thinking about what Bonnie Raitt might look like these days.  I imagine she would not be the kind of gal who would go in for all sorts of fillers and plastic surgery, and that possibly her natural-aging might just be what scared the guy (since it seems every celeb of a certain age has been tinkered with).  So, I found a pic of what appears to be of her latest press photos.

I ain't a-scared-a no Bonnie Raitt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She looks amazing!  No fear here.  In fact, she looks younger than she did in 1971.

Bonnie Raitt's gonna cut ya!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever she’s doing, it’s fantastic.  Besides photoshopping, it must be mostly natural since us redheads with fair skin don’t fare too well with cosmetic procedures (scarring, etc.) so hopefully I’ll meet Ms. Raitt one day, check behind her ears and find out her secrets.

You know, there’s really no point to this post other than for today it gave me something to talk about (I know, I know…have a heart! It’s just a blog- not a love letter!  Besides, I can’t make you love me if you don’t…however, I am ready for the thing called love.  I’m not the only one!  And you never know when love will come sneakin’ up on you!).

OK, OK.  I’m done.  Just in the nick of time.

:)

Vegasish

11 Jan

Armed with my Mom’s laptop and my friend Mary‘s suggestion that I do a little blogging, I come to you (and by “you” I mean Mary, since no one else knows I’m beginning to post blogs) from Henderson, just outside Las Vegas.  I took a bunch of pix the other night when Mary and I ran around the new City Center and Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino on The Strip and made a bunch of cracks along the way (the joking kind of cracks…I promise you we didn’t dent the $11-billion CC or the $3.9-billion CRC).  Since I have yet to upload the pix from my phone (didn’t think to bring my actual camera) I’ll instead post this pic that I took a few weeks ago and has made me giggle ever since.

What were they thinking?  Apparently not what I was thinking.  But then again, I’m always thinking poop.

More later.  I promise I’ll get the crap up rapidly.  :)

Ken

Love me!

9 Jan

Dear Fans,

“I only ask that you love me as much as I love myself.

Love me,

Ken

p.s. Actually…Hello!  This will be a place/site for me to put quick updates, links, videos, musings, etc. in addition to my “That’s Kentertainment!” website.  So, that I shall say good night till it be morrow (seriously, would it have killed Shakespeare to add the “to” to “morrow”?  ‘Cause I always thought he was talking about Vic Morrow, and  that just threw me off immensely.  I could maybe see Rob Morrow.  Ever see his film “Private Resort” with Johnny Depp, Andrew Dice Clay and Dody Goodman?  I didn’t either.)

Till Morrow,

Ken

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