Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I hope you were able to catch Sunday's (Dec 3) debut of the sensational new country band, “Jennifer Weatherly Live - Rocked up Country - Country’d up Soul.” This may be Jennifer's Dad talking, but as a long-time presenter of recording artists, I found it to be EXCEPTIONALLY wonderful.

The debut was broadcast live on Manao Radio on the island of Maui and if you were not there live, listening to it on your computer during prime Sunday TV viewing time in the other “49” states had to be a stretch, even for the most loyal of Mouse Cliquers.

If you missed it, take my word. It was grand. This is not the last you will hear about my girl Jennifer Weatherly. She’s a winner. Besides her new band, Jennifer is also a regular celebrity DJ on Manao Radio along with other exceptionally good DJs playing music that makes the station very easy to enjoy. Try it …

You’ll find JENNIFER, MANAO RADIO listed in my favorite links ------>

I first realized Jennifer’s overwhelming desire to sing when as a pre-teen, she woke me up early every Sunday morning to drive her to church. She was that angel hitting all the right notes in the choir.

She loved all kinds of music, but she took a real hankering to the sound of country. It didn’t surprise me when some years later she took off for Nashville. She had no prospects for a job but that didn’t bother her … or me. When I left Toledo and headed to Hollywood (with a wife, two boys and three year old Jennifer in the back seat) I didn’t have any job prospects either. However, it’s that kind of risk one must sometimes take in order to make a mark in life.

After eight years in Nashville as a recording studio back-up artist and showcasing composer’s new songs (to be later recorded by known country stars), she packed up her bags, and along with husband Willy Wainwright (the outstanding fiddle virtuoso with Ricky Van Shelton’s traveling country band), headed for Geneva, Switzerland.

Why Geneva? They had heard that Country music was becoming big in Europe and Geneva seemed a perfect place to be (another life gamble). Jennifer and Willy formed their own band, made six top selling albums together and Jennifer became the Swiss Country Music Federation’s “Vocalist Of The Year.”

My favorite Jennifer story happened during their first concert in East Germany. She told me of the ruin and despair they saw as they drove through the streets. For the first time she started to question the direction they had taken in their careers. However, when the curtain opened and she looked out at 5000 East Berliners in cowboy hats, she knew they had made the right decision.

After eight years of successful touring all over Europe, Jennifer and Willy decided to head for warmer climes. They settled down on the island of Maui (a tough decision after that wonderful snow and ice).

Willy quickly went to work and helped create the Gypsy jazz band, “Gypsy Pacific.” But Jennifer laid back and became a happy beach girl. However, that country sound just kept on ringing in her ears and after constant haranguing from friends and relatives (me for one), she decided to pull together a cross section of local musicians from all over the island and create the new Hawaiian country sound.

If you want to hear “Jennifer Weatherly Live” present some good old “Rocked up Country, Country’d up Soul” featuring Switzerland’s number one country singer, joined at the fiddle neck with the best bluegrass player in the world, husband Willy Wainwright, and a band of expatriate good old boy and girl Hawaii-country players …

Welcome to Mauiburro Country.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I originally wrote the following story for Don Barrett's LARP (Los Angeles Radio People) website. Don is a friend and his subscription web pages are read religiously by most everyone who works in Los Angeles radio . Because many of you who read my blog are also in some form of the media, I thought you might enjoy this story of my short relationship with the mystery of talk radio.

For starters, not many are even aware I had a talk show on radio. It was on KABC-Los Angeles back in the 70s. The reason most wouldn't know is because the show was on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 3, a time when most people are at their club playing polo. I’m not sure that the KABC bosses even knew I was on. Sundays, all the offices at KABC were dark. And the broadcast studio was like a deserted island in the Pacific.

I showed up every Sunday for over a year and I never (ever) saw a KABC executive from one week to the next (or in-between, for that matter). As a matter of fact, I was never sure I still had the job until I actually inserted my key in the employee entrance lock and the door opened. It was scary to realize that all they had to do to fire me was to have a locksmith sneak in during the week and change the lock (Go home Mr. Thaxton. We are going in a different direction).

I admit that my show was less than successful. I just didn’t have enough controversial spirit to rile listeners. There is nothing worse than hosting a call-less call-in radio show. It makes one very lonely (If you've ever talked to yourself alone in a room, you'll know what I mean).


If people were not going to call me, I would call them. Think about it, I could dial-up anyone in the world I wanted to and it would be on KABC’s dime. With all KABC's media power behind me, I could get just about anyone to take my call.

I happened to have a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records on my desk. I would start calling people listed in the book and ask them why they do all that silly record breaking stuff in the first place. I felt like a kid in a candy store.

I first called the “National Hollering Champ” and had him holler into his phone. What a blast that was. Next was the guy who had walked around the world BACKWARDS. He easily answered my very astute question as to what happened when he came to little obstacles, like an ocean. “I just walked on to the ship backwards and continued the same on the deck until I arrived back on land” he proudly proclaimed. I have no doubt that he is still out there waiting for his turn to walk backwards onto the space shuttle. The only failure I experienced was the man who held the record for “Most rattlesnakes in a person’s mouth at one time.” For some reason he couldn’t talk on the phone.

My greatest thrill was when, on New Years Eve Day, I called the Waldorf Astoria in New York to make a dinner reservation that evening in the ballroom. I spoke to the hotel manager, who apologized because the room had been completely booked for more than a year. “People come from all over the world to dance to Guy Lombardo on this most famous night,” he proudly proclaimed. “They have been doing this for going on 50 years.”

“Well, If I can’t have dinner can I at least speak to Guy Lombardo,” I asked. The "power" clicked right in and I was put straight through to the famous orchestra leader’s suite. Guy and I had a wonderful chat. I was definitely on a roll.

But, as we all know, Stuff happens! One Sunday I had just read an article in the LA Times about people who had Nielson Ratings boxes hooked up to their TVs. As most people know, these boxes are placed in a small sampling of homes and determine what shows are going to remain on the air and which ones will be axed. According to the Times article, some Nielson families were leaving their TVs on, even when they were not home, so that their favorite TV shows would get high ratings. As one box could represent as many as 100,000 homes I thought this would be a very revealing story. I mean; this is Hollywood's own bread and butter we’re talking about.

Remember what I said before. I was on my own here. No producer, no station executive was ever around telling me what I could or could not do. I had the power. I made an announcement that if anyone out there listening to my show has one of those Neilson black boxes to please call me.

It was precisely at that moment when the call panel lights lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. Bells started ringing up and down those deserted halls. Wham Bam! Thank you Maam! Unfortunately for poor little uninformed me, these calls were not from adoring listeners, but from the long-missing KABC executives.

I had made a MAJOR media BOO BOO.


ABC company attorneys blew as high as KABC’s broadcast tower. I heard threats like, “KABC could lose its license” or worse yet, “Nielson could cancel the contract and KABC would never ever be rated again.”

To make a long story as short as my talkshow gig at KABC, I had to swear on a stack of lawyers that “I am not, and have never been, a member of a party intending to influence a program’s ratings.” I was verbally spanked and sent to my room (the broadcast equivalent of the announce booth). A few weeks later the show was replaced by Sunday afternoon Dodger Baseball.

I am proud to say that I did make one notable contribution to talk radio. I had proved the epic warning. "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

No one with a Nielson box ever called.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


For the last month I have been somewhat perplexed because I don’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After all, I’ve been working in Hollywood for over 50 years. I was a Live-TV Pioneer, had my own successful show, directed, produced and wrote some highly rated TV shows and won several Emmys. I was honored with a Resolution by the Los Angeles City Council. Then LA Mayor James Hahn (shown in the above picture) even painted his thumb and did a finger people act while City Councilmembers Janice Hahn and Tom LaBonge cheered him on. I even got a $6.05 residual check this week from Paramount Pictures for my outstanding performance in Jerry Lewis’s “The Patsy.”

But … NO STAR.

Then the truth dawned on me. As actor Alfonso Bedoya might have said in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “STAR? I don’t need no stinking STAR,” I have something better. I have a HEAD! It may not be outside on the famous sidewalk of fame, but it is there, just inside, perched on a shelf in the Hollywood Wax Museum.

I realized the advantage of this after reading two recent wax museum news articles in the Los Angeles Times. One was an obituary for my pal Hollywood Wax Museum creator Spoony Singh, who passed away on the 18th of October. Some 40 years ago Mr. Singh started the museum with this introduction, “Let's bring the stars back to Hollywood Boulevard. Let's allow people to get close and look into the eyes of their favorite entertainers.” I can only guess that he also meant don’t allow people to walk all over them.

Another article a few days later opened with, “Madame Tussauds, the legendary London wax museum, proposes to build a flashy $55-million branch in Hollywood — its first on the West Coast — on a parking lot next to historic Grauman's Chinese Theatre.”

I asked myself, can Hollywood support two Wax Museums just down the street from each other? If not, and the Hollywood Wax Museum goes belly-up, what is going to happen to my head?

You might (or might not) ask how my head ended up on the shelf in the first place. My wax figure once stood proud in a faux Lloyd Thaxton Show set back in the 60s. Then the show went off the air. To quote Museum officials in the LA Times article, “The heads of those who fade from the public's interest, such as actor-singer Dean Martin or comedian Flip Wilson, (or Lloyd Thaxton) are housed in a floor-to-ceiling storage area.” So, I assume I’ll be there as long as the museum is there. Old celebrities never die. They just melt away.

A light bulb started flashing over my little wax head.

How about “Hollywood Heads of Fame?”

It would work this way. We take all those heads off the shelf (including mine), and mount them on top of the boulevard lampposts (French Revolution style) in direct line with the Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony might even include an angry mob carrying flaming torches, which would add a little touch of Hollywood.

This would have many advantages over placing celebrity stars in the sidewalk. For one thing tourists could now look up to their idols, not down. For another, they would never again wipe their feet on idols they never heard of.

And, don’t forget all the great puns and jokes this would engender (I know you’re thinking of one right now).

Let me say it one more time, “The Hollywood Heads Of Fame.”

What do you say we run it up a flagpole and see who salutes it.

If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll meet you at Hollywood and Vine. The first ones to show up will definitely get a head start.

(See what I mean?)

Stay tuned.