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Is Carol Channing alive? YEEESSSSHHHH!

25 Aug

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"

Audio Interview: “The Other Steve & Edie” visit “The Kentertainment Report”!

4 Feb

Wednesdays at 12:15pm you can usually find me at the Sirius/XM Radio Studios in Midtown Manhattan doing my (mostly)-weekly “Kentertainment Report”.  This takes place during “The Frank DeCaro Show“, which is hosted by comedian/author/host Frank DeCaro (natch) and his ever-suffering sidekick (and producer) Doria Biddle.  Here’s a picture of us at the Sirius/XM Studios in West Hollywood, CA., taken August 8, 2007- the first day I met Doria in person.

Doria, Frank & Ken, together again…for the first time. And not in that order.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I generally dish on the latest Broadway, theatre and showbiz happenings around the US and environs, but also am lucky enough to interview special guests (recently folks like Donna McKechnie, Kristin Chenoweth, Christopher Sieber, etc.).  This Wednesday Frank and Doria celebrated 7 years together on the air, and as an anniversary gift, I brought in a couple of fantabulous talents as a surprise: Stephen Wallem and Edie Falco (both currently in Showtime’s NURSE JACKIE) a.k.a “The Other Steve and Edie”.  How’s that for a title?  I LOVE THAT THEY THOUGHT THAT UP!  And they even have a few upcoming cabaret dates to show it off.

The Other Steve and Edie. How clever is that?!

 
They will be performing at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC this weekend, February 4, 5 & 6.  (I hear that all the shows are now currently sold-out but there is a waiting-list.)  When asked what the audience could expect, they were mostly mum on the merriment (Edie: “I’m not saying…partially because I really don’t know…We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do on Friday!”) but the Laurie Beechman website has this description:  The Other Steve and Edie is conceived by Mr. Wallem and Ms. Falco, with musical direction by three-time After Dark Award winner, Beckie Menzie and Direction by Tony Humrichouser. Throughout the show, the duo will take on songs from contemporary pop to jazz standards, with a healthy dose of show tunes and original material, and even a salute to the other Steve and Eydie.   Sounds good to me! 
                                          
I first met Stephen years ago when we both lived in Chicago and he was performing in his highly-acclaimed show, “Off the Wallem” (how ’bout that guy and his killer titles?!!) and Edie I know as much (or even more) for her stunning theatre work (SIDE MAN, FRANKIE & JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE, ‘NIGHT MOTHER, etc.) as I do for her award-winning TV work (SOPRANOS, NURSE JACKIE, etc.).  These two are so sweet, immensely-talented and overall good sports…this interview came together at the last minute and Steve and Edie were game enough to come out in the slushy snow, run around the various floors of the studio building, check and re-check in with security (none of whom at that time knew me as I’m usually on an hour earlier which made Edie jokingly [?] wonder if I actually did a radio segment there) and were barely settled into their chairs when they found themselves live on the air.  I found it all to be a hoot and they did too.  Back in Chicago, the wonderful actor Charles Durning told me that the most talented people in showbiz are also the nicest and most down-to-earth because they have nothing to prove and nothing to hide…their talent speaks for them.  I have always remembered this and it has always proven to be true…and this case is no exception.  I hope you enjoy the interview.  Below is a link to the audio track with some pictures thrown in (in case you like your audio a little more “visual”).

 

Ken with Edie Falco & Stephen Wallem.