Hey, movie mavens! Tomorrow night it’s “Roll Everything!” as I host “Rustlers’ Rhapsody” at the Uxbridge Senior Citizens Center on Main Street in downtown Uxbridge.
It starts at 5:30 pm with refreshments and trivia prep time.
At 6pm, it’s curtain time for “Rustlers’ Rhapsody,” a wonderful 1985 spoof and homage to those wonderful “B” westerns of our childhood. Surely, you remember the Saturday matinees at your favorite neighborhood theater? You know, where the good guys wore white and the bad guys wore black.
The plots were simple. Good versus evil. Good always won. The heroes had nice outfits. The villains usually wore dirty, ill-fitting garb you could smell from your front row seats as you chowed down popcorn, juji-fruits and hot dogs.
At 7:45 pm, it will be Q&A time as we swap trivia about favorite movies. Maybe the featured film will sharpen your recall of those golden olden days.
“Rustler’s Rhapsody” fondly remembers heroes like Roy and Gene. There’s a nice bit of surprise casting that will leave you smiling. If you know who I’m talking about, mum’s the word.
You’ll find yourself singing along with the wonderful ballad at film’s end that definitely will have you recollecting your days of innocence, lost in the wild west where there was no doubt about law and order.
So, saddle up your cow pony and ride the high country to the Uxbridge Senior Citizens’ Center tomorrow night. We’ll start the show at 7pm. We need your help to smoke out all those bad hombres.
My son is getting married for the second time. He had a big wedding the first time, complete with a beautiful service in a synagogue, bridesmaids and groomsmen and a formal reception in a local restaurant’s banquet hall with 100 people in attendance.
I helped his first wife find a gorgeous but not outrageously expensive wedding dress. We also found inexpensive ways to decorate the reception room and dinner tables and she cut costs wherever possible. But it was still an expensive undertaking.
With young people drowning in debt these days and with housing costs so high in many parts of the country, I wonder why people are still having big weddings. In addition to the cost, the logistics of organizing every detail of a ceremony and reception can be overwhelming for people who are already overworked and short on free time.
Maybe part of the problem is that it’s hard to find a middle ground between a large, complex, over priced affair and eloping. That’s what my son discovered this time around and he opted, in effect, to elope. He and his fiancé tried to be as frugal as possible in planning an actual wedding ‘event’. They were going to have both the ceremony and the reception at my home, saving lots of money for the venue and decorations.
But they would have to keep the guest list at 60-65 people and that proved to be a problem. Once you start down the slippery slope of inviting one relative, you have to invite them all. The same applies to circles of friends, once one is invited, you’ll hurt everyone else’s feelings if you don’t invite them too.
Then my son found out that it’s not that easy to plan a full meal for 65 people, even lunch. Some caterers are cheaper, but they just bring food, not dishes, glasses or silverware. Others will bring dessert but not coffee. Then there’s the problem of who’s going to set up and man the bar and keep the food platters full. And who clears the meal and sets up the dessert?
No matter how small and simple my son tried to be, the logistics and the costs still got out of hand. That’s why my son and his fiancé decided on a quasi elopement.
They are getting married by a Justice of the Peace (an old family friend), in their living room, with just immediate family and two close friends. There will be thirteen people in all, including the bride and groom. Then we’re all going to a restaurant for lunch. If they take a honeymoon, it will only be for a weekend since they both have to work.
They got beautiful and thoughtful wedding bands and the bride bought a lovely new dress for the occasion. My daughter is flying cross country, from LA, to be at the truncated ceremony. So it will be a special and meaningful day without months of headaches and piles of bills.
Unless a bride and groom have high paying jobs or a wealthy family, it doesn’t make sense to spend hard earned savings on a big wedding extravaganza. Especially if you have to go further into debt for it. And even if you have the money, why waste months and months of your life stressing over wedding details and dealing with the family strife that is usually created?
Weddings used to mark the point when two individuals moved in together to create a joint home and a new family unit. And wedding gifts used to be a way to help young couples stock their new home. Today, many, if not most, couples live together before marriage.
Their households have already been merged and their kitchens fully stocked with all the necessary equipment and tools. When my son moved in with his fiancé, they had to hire an organizer to help them make room for all of my son’s stuff in their small house. They had to get rid of tons of ‘duplicate items’, particularly kitchen items. They have no room for any more ‘stuff.’
Getting married is a big deal, even today. Maybe our traditions celebrating the event should change along with the times. Maybe a small, informal party for close friends and family should be the norm. Something more like a bridal shower but for men too. And instead of gifts, guests should give checks to pay down student loans or to go toward the down payment on a new house. The concept of tangible items as gifts should maybe go the way of the dowry.
I’m not sure what will evolve in the future, but at least for those not in the top 1%, I think wedding celebrations will begin to change in the next few generations.
Tom was in charge of the audio for the Outer Critics Circle award show at Sardi’s in New York City on May 23, 2019. So Tom and I got to have a unique and fun and very ‘New York’ experience. The show is a mini version of the Tony Awards but done in the afternoon, so no glamorous evening gowns.
We had to drive into the city the night before to bring in all the audio equipment and set it up on site. My job was to gaffer tape the endless wires to the carpet and walls so no one tripped over them. It was interesting to watch the event coordinators set the tables (it was a lunch/dinner at 3 PM), decide who sat where and set out the place cards.
Tom hooking up one of the speakers
taping the wires
Me at the audio table
The 27 awards were announced beforehand so only the winners showed up, which limited the guest list to 120, or twelve tables of ten each. Most of the people were behind the scene stars who I didn’t recognize. People like producers, directors, composers, sets, costumes and lighting people, agents, publicists, etc. The room covered all aspects of what it takes to put together a theatrical production, both musicals, and straight plays.
The audio table was set up for Tom and me in the back near the back door so I didn’t expect to see any celebrities close up. Surprise! They had set up a black curtain with the Outer Circle Critics logo all over it right next to me, near the back door. I thought it was just for decoration and name placement. I didn’t realize that that door was where everyone entered so they could be photographed in front of the black curtain.
Tom at the audio table
Tom in front of the black curtain for the press
The press corps, photo, and video were directly right in front of me. The celebrities entered, one by one, and posed for the press in front of the curtain/backdrop.
They chatted briefly with the press. All this took place three feet in front of me! I was taking photos too and the press photographers moved out of the way so I could get good shots. I told them it was just for a blog, but I got professional courtesy and was treated like a member of the press corps.
I also got to see some video interviews — a real treat.
Video host talking about the event
Tina Fey was one of the presenters/masters of ceremony and she was charming and funny, as usual. I got some close ups of her as she entered and posed for the cameras and I also took pictures of her talking at the podium.
Tina Fey talking to the press
Tina right next to me waiting to meet the press
Tina posing for photographers
Tina as presenter
Tina announcing winners
Tina joking with the audience
A film and TV actor, Hamish Linklatter was also very funny as a presenter, The Big Short, and Fantastic Four movies as well as The Newsroom and The Good Wife on TV. He did a dramatic reading of his presenter speech, which was hilarious.
Bryan Cranston gave a delightful acceptance speech too — “Breaking Bad,” “Malcolm In The Middle,” and “All The Way” (TV) and the movie “Trumbo.”
Cranston getting his picture taken
Bryan Cranston standing next to me
It was a thrill to see classic stars like Joel Grey — “Cabaret,” the play and movie. John Callum — “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever” among numerous stage credits as well as TV’s “Northern Exposure,” and “Madame Secretary.”
The legendary costume designer, Bob Mackie was also there. He did all of Cher’s clothes for her TV show as well as the costumes for the Carol Burnett Show. He also dressed many stars, like Judy Garland and Liz Minnelli, to name a few.
Another charming actress who got an award was Stephanie J. Block for her role as the older Cher in the musical based on her life. She said she had 29 costume changes during each show, eight times a week!
I also saw a favorite of mine, Brian D’Arcy James, who was in the TV musical Smash as well as originating lead roles in the musicals “Shrek the Musical,” “Next To Normal” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
Our friend, Barbara Rosenblat was in the audience. She is a member of our Audio Theater Group, Voicescapes Audio Theater as well as being a world-renowned, award-winning audiobook narrator.
She has also appeared many times on the Broadway stage. She was in the original cast of “The Secret Garden” and got her caricature drawn and hung in Sardi’s. The restaurant opened in 1921 and is known for these caricature drawings covering all of its walls, representing the Broadway stars from the 1920s to today.
I knew Barbara’s drawing was there but I had never seen it. We, along with the rest of the crew, were treated to a dinner at Sardi’s restaurant downstairs after the show. Coincidentally, I was seated directly in front of Barbara’s drawing. So Cool!
All in all, it was an exhausting but wonderful adventure.
I was lucky enough to have a truly remarkable and unique experience. It happened on July 4, 1976. It was part of the huge Bicentennial celebration in New York City in honor of the 200th Birthday of the Declaration Of Independence. There were festivities all over the city for a whole week.
There was a parade of old-fashioned Tall Ships from all over that majestically sailed up the Hudson River. I only saw that on TV but it was an incredible sight. (I did get to see a few individual ships in the harbor as we drove into the city, but not the full parade).
The pièce de résistance of the celebration week was the fireworks display that was set to go off from the Statue of Liberty on the night of July 4.
At the time, my husband, Larry, worked at a law firm in New York City. The law firm scheduled a big office party on the night of the 4th of July. They booked the restaurant at the top of World Trade Center One, Windows On The World. The restaurant was on the 107th floor and had an unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty, which was just a short distance out in the harbor.
When the time came for the fireworks, we all gathered around the floor to ceiling windows facing the Statue of Liberty. I’m short, so I was funneled to the very front of the crowd. There was absolutely nothing between me and the view outside.
The fireworks display was, appropriately extraordinary. It was so close I felt I could reach out and touch the bursts of light directly in front of me. It had an eerie quality because I was 107 floors up in the air. So the fireworks were not only nearby and coming right at me, they were coming right at me at eye level. They weren’t coming from above, as they usually are. They seemed to be aimed right at me. I even flinched at first, fearing that the window would be hit by stray sparks.
Once I relaxed, I sat back and enjoyed a truly awe-inspiring show. I’ve always loved fireworks. Unfortunately, no display since then could even come close to rivaling that night.
Remembering that night is bittersweet. While it was a euphoric experience for me, it’s sad to realize that no one will ever again get that great view from the long gone tower at the World Trade Center. I’m sure the views at the new buildings on the World Trade Center site are magnificent. But for those of us who lived through 9/11, it will never be the same.
This is a hard one to share. Make it embarrassing, BIGLY embarrassing for someone who lived and worked in Boston for more than 30 years. The résumé says I worked as a knowledgeable, street savvy TV news reporter. Familiar with all the nooks and crannies of Beantown. Well, as the man says, that’s FAKE news!
We had premonitions of a mission impossible last night when we discussed if we should attend the noon luncheon featuring nationally respected Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Marilyn and I bandied emotions about the drive from rural Uxbridge into the big city.
Yes. No. Maybe.
We agreed it would be a noteworthy event. I looked forward to getting Bill Bratton’s take on crime in the United States, especially the frequency of mass shootings across the country. I remember Bratton’s tenure in Boston when drive-by shootings filled my assignments three or four times a week. Bratton has also headed Police departments in New York City and Los Angeles.
And still handsome.
Surely, he would have cogent observations I could share via blog and our local newspaper. That was all on the plus side for attending the Boston luncheon. The negative side? Marilyn and I shared murky smiles about our mutual nemesis — the Mass Pike and downtown Boston. It seemed almost comical as fear gripped our sensibilities.
Sometimes you shouldn’t sell your fears short. We made it into Boston with minimal trouble, but I wasn’t fooled. The first hint of trouble came when the designated Mass Pike exit was a no-show. No problem! Marilyn, always the excellent navigator, directed me to and into Boston’s financial district.
Marilyn’s Note: You just know your excursion is in trouble when the designated exit from the Pike doesn’t exist. It means the directions are old. When there’s one error, you can bet your bippy there will be more.
The second hint of trouble came amid confusion in the parking garage of our designated building. First, we were on the wrong side of the building and that part of the garage was only for those with a transponder. We got to the other side of the building. Parked. It turned out we were in the wrong building entirely — despite the instructions on our invitation. I was confused and angry. I believe Marilyn was irritated with my confusion. Why didn’t I, the know-it-all reporter, know where we were supposed to be? I was irritated with myself!!
Marilyn’s Note: I was not irritated at Garry’s inability to find his way through streets that have changed completely since we lived there. I was annoyed because I told him to make a left and he ignored me — and went straight ahead. It turned out not to make any difference since we were at the wrong building in the wrong part of town.
As the situation deteriorated with ever-increasing aggravation, we finally agreed on something. Let’s get the hell out of Boston and head home!! Surely, the worst was behind us. Make that mistake number three! We escaped Boston and were back on the Mass Pike. We would laugh about this when we got home and relaxed.
Marilyn was talking to me but I couldn’t hear her over the ambient car noise and blare of sirens from Police Cars that snaked around us and the Pike traffic. She thought I was faking deafness — which elevated my irritation as I focused on the route home and our newest nemesis, a giant midday traffic jam on the Pike.
Mother of Mercy!
Judas Priest in your Mama’s combat boots!!
I couldn’t take much more of this. Marilyn talked. I nodded while missing almost everything she said. I looked down at the dashboard and saw the fuel gauge edging down to “Empty.” For chrissakes! We’re running out of gas??
Obscenities filled my mind as traffic inched along like an aging battalion of frogs. I had a nightmarish vision of what might happen next and told Marilyn I’d tell her about it when we got home. Surely, now the worst really was behind us. My stomach was churning as the highway traffic continued at a snail’s pace. Marilyn was taking pictures of our slow-mo drive to document our long day’s journey into hell.
Back from Boston
Finally, we negotiated our exit off the Mass Pike. I casually looked at the fuel gauge which had now dipped below “Empty.” I silently cursed the gods and looked for an opening on the last major artery of our drive home. My mind drifted off to other things, including tonight’s World Series game. Something to smile about in anticipation of more in what’s become an exciting fall classic between the Houston Astros and the La La Dodgers.
I was pondering the possibility of my hero, broadcaster Vin Scully dropping in to cover tonight’s game. That thought prompted my first smile of the day. My smile grew bigger as I realized we were HOME … in downtown Uxbridge.
We ended our afternoon with Marilyn explaining to shoppers and staffers at our local supermarket why we were dressed in our Sunday best. Marilyn’s account of our trip to Boston seemed to draw smiles and laughter.
From Marilyn: I’m taking this opportunity to let you all know that today is Ellin’s birthday! Happy Birthday! Many more to come!!
Once or twice a year I binge watch tennis on TV, usually Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. My family was not into sports although we religiously watched Yankees baseball and Grand Slam Tennis. Even my father knew the names of the top tennis players. We all knew the strengths and weaknesses of these players’ games. We could do play by plays with the best of the sports commentators.
So watching tennis now in the summer or fall, brings back memories of happy hours of family togetherness.
It also brings back memories of my brief foray into tournament tennis. I joined a local tennis club in CT near our summer-house with my then husband, Larry. We both took lots of lessons and practiced as much as we could, I only played doubles but Larry could play singles as well. We became reasonable mid-level players.
For years, our summer social life revolved around the tennis club, The Easton Raquet Club. We made lots of friends both on and off the courts. Our kids hung out at the club with us and with the other tennis orphans.
The club sponsored lots of tennis tournaments, for different levels of players. One year, we had a mixed doubles tournament, only for club members. It was more of a social event than the serious tennis that was usually played there at the upper levels. The teams were made up of one strong player and one equally weak player from the club. So every strong player had a handicap. I was chosen as the handicap for one of the club’s strongest players.
On paper, I really was one of the weaker players at the club. I had terrible form, no power and a wimpy serve. However, I was scrappy. I could get to most balls, I had a decent net game and I could place my shots fairly reliably. So my team annihilated most of our competition. We made it into the finals against a really good team. The final match was staged professionally. We played on our ‘center court’ and the whole club was watching. We had an umpire, ball boys, linesmen and a score keeper. Just like on TV. It was nerve-wracking and I was terrified!
It was an amazing event, the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing what it’s like to play professional sports. People applauded and whistled and ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ when I made a tough shot or hit a winner. It was energizing and exhilarating. I understand how the enthusiasm of the crowd gets transmitted to every cell of an athlete’s body.
We won the tournament. I became something of a celebrity overnight. But I was never underestimated again as a player … and no more tournament trophies in my tennis career.
Since my moment in the spotlight, I’ve watched tennis differently. I see the matches from the perspective of the players’ minds. I think about what is going on in their heads. And so much of tennis is psychological. You can see players psyching themselves up or tripping over their demons. The crowds can also energize and motivate a player. It’s exciting to be part of a crowd that is visibly effecting a favorite player. There’s a palpable dynamic between crowds and players.
My one day in the limelight changed my perspective. So I can understand how spending everyday in the limelight can dramatically effect an athlete or even a celebrity. It’s not just your ego that grows. It’s your desire to hear the cheers and live up to your fans’ adulation.
This is true in a theater as well as a sports arena. I have more experience with theatrical audiences but my one athletic crowd experience gave me a taste of the athlete’s crowd fix. It’s powerful. I remember it vividly after more than 35 years!
That was very much the vibe at a party Wednesday night to celebrate the release of Terry Ann Knopf’s new book, “The Golden Age of Boston Television,” which looks back fondly at the heyday of local news, a period that lasted from the early ’70s to the early ’90s.
Knopf was a TV critic in Boston for years — she wrote for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy from 1982 to 1991 — and made many friends, and a few enemies, during her tenure. (It’s not for nothing that Knopf used to be referred to by some in the media as “Terry Ann Knife.”)
But whatever old wounds there were have clearly healed because a crowd of familiar, if slightly faded, wizened faces from back in the day filled a conference room at WGBH to salute Knopf for telling their story. (This being the media, many were also there for the free wine and beer.)
“This is like a high school reunion on the island of broken toys,” said Barry Nolan, who hosted WBZ-TV’s “Evening Magazine” in the ’80s. “Look at these people. Age has ravaged us, bad decisions have plagued us, failures have followed us, but we’re still here.”
Nolan was kidding, sort of. As Knopf points out in her book, Boston TV stations have a proud legacy of producing a lot of on-air talent that went on to national prominence, folks such as Martha Raddatz, Jay Schadler, Hampton Pearson, Lesley Stahl, Dan Lothian, Rehema Ellis, Mike Taibbi, and David Muir.
Another in that category is Haverhill’s own Tom Bergeron, the affable host of “Dancing With the Stars” who hosted WBZ-TV’s talk show “People Are Talking” in the ’80s. Bergeron drove up from his home in Greenwich, Conn., to attend the party and see old friends.
Asked if he knew at the time that it was the “golden age,” Bergeron, somewhat surprisingly, said yes.
“My wife once said to me that when the ice sculptures disappeared from the Emmy parties, she knew it was all coming to an end,” said Bergeron.
Francine Achbar, the former executive producer of programming at Channel 4, shared a similar memory.
“About every two months there would be an awards thing and I’d take out my black velvet dress and we’d go to some city and get another award, and I’d say, ‘This can’t last,’ ” Achbar said. “Then, in 1990, I laid off about 40 people and I knew that was it.”
Yesteryear was well represented at the book party. Guests included longtime anchor R.D. Sahl, “Sonya Hamlin Show” host Sonya Hamlin, Dan Rea, Joe Bergantino and wife Candy Altman, former Channel 4 medical reporter Jeanne Blake, Hank Phillippi Ryan, former Channel 5 anchor Susan Wornick, Jon Keller, meteorologist Harvey Leonard (who skipped his station’s 6 p.m. broadcast Wednesday to go to the party), Sharon King, Channel 4 exec Barry Schulman, Dick Albert, Jim Boyd, the estimable Christopher Lydon, Callie Crossley, Gail Harris, whose great haircut made us wish she was still on the air, Lydon’s former co-anchor Carmen Fields, and Sarah-Ann Shaw, the former WBZ-TV reporter who was the first female African-American reporter on Boston TV. (Knopf dedicates her book to Shaw.)
Monica Collins, a friend of Knopf’s and a fellow former TV critic — she wrote for the Boston Herald for many years — was also there, to the dismay of legendary former Channel 4 sportscaster Bob Lobel, whom Collins apparently skewered in the past.
“Where’s Monica?” Lobel said after Knopf acknowledged Collins in the crowd. “Come up here and say you’re sorry.”
The crowd laughed.
Knopf gave Emily Rooney a shout-out of sorts — “I don’t care what anybody thinks of you, Emily, I think you’re great” — but also gave her props for being a pioneer in TV news. (Rooney was executive producer of ABC’s “World News Tonight” — the first female to hold that post at a major network.)
Since everyone in the room is, or at least was, in the news business, there was a lot of chatter about the Trump effect. Viewers are tuning in to hear about the latest news or outrage or scandal, and that makes Rooney miss her late father, cranky CBS commentator Andy Rooney.
“What he’d say would be so good,” Rooney said wistfully. “It would be career-ending — for both of them.”
ARAM BOGHOSIAN, BOSTON GLOBE – Bob Lobel (left) and Emily Rooney.
ARAM BOGHOSIAN, BOSTON GLOBE – Jon Keller (left) and Terry Ann Knopf.
ARAM BOGHOSIAN, BOSTON GLOBE – Left to right: Carmen Fields, Christopher Lyndon, and Robin Parmelee.
ARAM BOGHOSIAN, BOSTON GLOBE – Gail Harris (left) and Francine Achbar.
ARAM BOGHOSIAN, BOSTON GLOBE – Hank Phillippi Ryan hugs Mike Lawrence.
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