Archive for October, 2009

Bobbing with bobbleheads this Halloween...

October 29th, 2009
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It’s Halloween, so allow me to get a little creepy, a tad silly, a skosh off center.
Halloween usually is mask, costume and pumpkin season, right?
I thought it would be fitting if something wicked this way comes ... like 31 fantasy Halloween bobblehead ideas I’d like to see, tapping notables here and abroad. Complete with individual accoutrements. More whimsical than spooky.
No, they’re not actually available, but couldn’t you see one jiggling on your dashboard? Trick or treat?
Here are my Halloween novelties:

Gov. Linda Lingle — singing My Fair Lady style, "In Hartford Hereford and Honolulu, hurriaces hardly ever happen," in response to Furlough Friday (hurricane) funding options.
Rick Blangiardi — debuts a new TV logo with the CBS eye sprouting NBC peacock feathers.
Kanye West — carries a mike and utters, “Beyonce has the best video.”
Susan Boyle — has a bad hair day but still belts out “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Andy Bumatai — comes with “remember tax filing deadline” reminder.
Coach Greg McMackin — a built-in yellow flag falls if he utters a gay slur.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann — dons interchangeable T-shirts, one declaring, “I will prevail as Governor” and the other, “I will stay on as Mayor and not derail rail.”
Chef Mavro — carries a “Bon Appetit, Julia Child” cookbook, including his own boeuf bourguignon recipe.
Dan Cooke — wonders out loud if his forecast includes a news anchor slot.
Roy Tokujo — wishes for the Maui “‘Ulalena” version of Madame Pele.
Donne Dawson — carries a “Location, location, location...bah, humbug” sign.
Augie T — hoists a road map which flags all the gyms and hole-in-the-wall show sites.
Hillary Clinton — barks a repeating refrain, “I am the secretary of state!”
Rod Tam — comes with Febreze spray bottle and Glade scented candles.
Chelsley “Sully” Sullenberger — modestly sighs, “For my next feat, I will walk on water.”
Jay Leno — chants, with anxiety, the mantra “10 p.m. is where it’s at” (for Hawai’i, it’s 9 p.m.).
Octomom — gleefully declares, “Who said eight is enough!?”
John Hirokawa — sings “there’s no business like snow business” amid faux snow.
Jon Gosselin — wears glasses that prevent straying eyes.
Norah Jones — giggles as she sings a hit-and-run song, “take the money and run.”
Father Damien — bears a golden halo befitting his sainthood.
Joe Moore —never notices his ratings drop, ’cause he’s got a binding KHON contract.
Loretta Ables Sayre — peddles shrunken heads that harmonize “Bali Ha‘i” with her.
Colt Brennan — mostly sitting these days, though he’s eager to pass.
Jim Nabors — shouts, “Gollee, 80 is the new 60.”
Ellen DeGeneres — pumps up her elbow, so she can geev ’em to Simon Cowell on “American Idol” next spring.
President Barack Obama — makes a noble peace sign and dons “Give Peace a Chance” headband.
Raiatea Helm — nibbles Hawaiian Host chocolates to welcome the holidays.
Howard Dicus — hopes for a better Skype feed, where his lips match his words.
David Letterman — counts down Top 10 reasons why indiscretions boost ratings.
Neil Abercrombie — seeks fashionable gubernatorial running mate named Fitch.
And do you have one to add to the list? Share it!

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Review: Lisa Josephsohn’s final curtain call

October 26th, 2009
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It was a hard show to swallow, because of the emotion, the goodwill, the reality: honoring and remembering publicist Elissa Josephsohn, with a revue of the ilk she routinely assembled and promoted in life, left me with mixed emotions.
The tribute, “A Hard Act to Follow” — deliberately titled after a tune from “Curtains,” a Broadway musical Lisa earlier publicized at Army Community Theatre — was a bittersweet affair Sunday at the Hawai‘i Theatre, a venue she frequented because of the talent she promoted there — and elsewhere.
We came to honor her, for sure; but accepting the finality of her passing was like experiencing a show you know like the palm of your hand but hated the moment when it was pau.
This was the final curtain call for Lisa.
Singers, dancers, instrumentalists, peers, friends, strangers ... they assembled to bid adieu, and thanks, for Lisa’s contributions in promoting and supporting the arts. Especially theater. Plus restaurants, of course.
The select list of troupers included Rolando Sanchez, Larry Paxton, Richard Vida, Cathy Foy, Dita Holifield, Guy Merola, Matthew Pedersen, Rex Nockengust, Jade Stice, the cast of “Curtains,” Don Conover, Ballet Hawaii youngsters, Diamond Head Theatre’s Shooting Stars youths, and the Hawai‘i Theatre’s Young Actors Ensemble.
The most popular segment was the “I Have a Dream/Dancing Queen” medley led by Foy, complete with neon’70s-‘80s costumes, prompting folks like Carolyn Berry, Linda Coble, Charlotte Kandel and Wendy Nagaishi, among others, doing disco moves in the aisles or at their seats — some opting for the appropriate hand movements. It was precisely the kind of “moment” Lisa would have been squeling delight as a willing participant.
Restaurateur Randy Schoch, one of three speakers who had both business and personal connections with Lisa, spoke of her passion and loyalty in promoting all of his eateries here, from Nick’s Fishmarket era through The Black Orchid, from Ruth’s Chris Steak House to Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and her eagerness to plan his wedding at Temple Emanu-El (her faith) when he got married to his bride Cheri (no, they didn’t convert).
Eddie Sherman, the dean of three-dot columnists, had honest revelations of his battle royales with Lisa over time — hey, if you knew Lisa and her take-charge style, you had friction as often as you had applause for her dedication — and even had the guts to say they had more bouts than Muhammed Ali.
I was invited to speak, too, but avoided the very personal details about my friendship but admitted that Lisa’s passing has created a new normal in how we deal with entertainment and shows, particularly in the manner of ordering event tickets. Lisa was the premier Ticketmistress, able to process house seat orders with your credit card number, and no, Ticketmaster is not an acceptable option or replacement. Lisa also had vision to set the model on combining food and entertainment in the art of putting fun into fundraising: She was the first, nearly 25 years ago, to mount the concept of a food festival (restaurant booths serving up food) to anchor a benefit. The next time you attend a fundraiser with a grazing foodie format, thank Lisa.
She loved cats, she loved shopping, she loved ballet, she loved “Les Miserables,” all duly noted in photos, chatter and performance. After all, she named her cats Mel (after Mel Gibson, but switched affiliation when he went bonkers, to Mel Brooks, whom she metin life), Harry (for Harrison Ford) and Liat (for the daughter of Bloody Mary in “South Pacific”), for starters. And the show-ending "Do You Hear the People Sing?" anthem from the finale of"Les Miz" was a suitable closing number.
Lisa loved cameras and photos, and the folks at Longs Drugs always knew to have double prints whenever she dropped off her roll of films (she did eventually upgrade to digital). So there were several mentions of her photo phobia.
Michael W. Perry and Larry Price — yes, Perry on the left, Price on the right (though the order is switched from a spectator’s perspective) — emceed the show, sitting side by side like old codgers that Perry aptly described as the ol’ grumpy Statler and Waldorf gents from “The Muppet Show.” OK, they weren’t grumpy, but the link was spot-on, visually.
The show was informal, breezy and largely nostalgic, with some unwanted miscues like a non-working mike for singer Paxton. The show had simple pleasures like Nockengust’s “What I Did for Love” ballad that evoked a chorus line of tears. The show had unexpected illness; singer Shari Lynn had the flu, so couldn’t show her support for Lisa (she had prepped a show-stopping “Before the Parade Passes By”). The show had family representation — Lisa’s cousin, Ann Hiatt, and hubby Tom — in attendance, but unfortunately, they weren’t properly recognized.
And the show had genuine heart: all participants lived and loved Lisa through the good and the bad times.
Lisa would have loved every moment of the afternoon, miscues included, but she would have hissed at the empty balcony seats. After all, she was all about getting butts into a showroom or theater, working her butt off to do the job. Proves, sort of, that her p.r. goodwill might have made a difference, but no doubt she was smiling from the heavens at the outpouring of aloha.
For those who have wondered about her remains, her ashes were scattered off the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Monday afternoon.

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'Heartbeat Hawaii' ends its Waikiki run on sour note

October 26th, 2009
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“Heartbeat Hawaii,” the Chinese martial arts action musical at the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Level 4 showroom, closed last night (Oct. 25) with little prior notice and on a sour note.
Its creator-director, Dr. Dennis Law, claimed in a closing notice there’s an “impossible predicament in Waikiki” for producers to succeed because of the theater’s “indifferent and arrogant landlord.”
The revue, featuring an imported 75-member cast of Chinese martial artists and dancers, opened July 17 to mixed reviews with a fusion show that boasted ethnic elements in a spectacle that was more fantasy than cultural, with the Hawaiian elements raising brows among traditionalists. Attendance never reached expected levels in the 700-seat showroom amid the sluggish economy.
Law, who is president and CEO of Sight, Sound & Action, which mounted the Waikiki production, and also of a successful operation at The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, charged that the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate, landlords of the site, is damaging Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s legacy of enlightenment because of the “selfish arrogance caused by those chosen to administer her sizable fortune.”
“Heartbeat Hawaii” was the second failed show in the high-tech multi-million showroom; earlier, Roy Tokujo's “Waikiki Nei” opened and closed also because of poor attendance in a weak economy.
Law’s financial losses “is not without some reward; I have learned the valuable lesson that my estate planning must have new provisions to prevent successors from making a mess of my wishes.”

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CD review: In Brickman’s world, everything is ‘Beautiful’

October 23rd, 2009
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In the musical “Cabaret,” the emcee says “Life is beautiful.” He must have been thinking of Jim Brickman’s eloquent “Beautiful World” CD, an armoire of amour.
The pianist-composer’s drawers and shelves are jammed with feel-food, feel-happy, feel-romantic tunes — mostly originals from his pen, like the title song with Adam Crossley etching out the lovenotes, or the Parisian chanson “Romance Sur La Seine.” But unlike Old Mother Hubbard's, his cupboard’s never bare.
“Covers” like Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love” assembles guests with reassuring vigor, thanks to Jon Secada, Anne Cochran, Mark Masro, Melinda Doolittle and Orla Fallon, culled from Brickman’s PBS special. Secada soars with Brickman on another revival, “What a Wonderful World,” which could be a mini self-eval of this CD.
His travels add to the love landscape; shut your eyes and you feel a coolness and solitude on “Fallen Snow,” hear the babble of the flowing water on “River’s Edge,” experience ethereal calm on “Rainbow Sky.” And “Island Paradise” has Kaua‘i inspiration: Brickman was awed by the Garden Island when he composed this; focus and you can you live it.
No wonder Brickman reigns as American’s most charted Adult Contemporary Artist. In his wide, wonderful world, everything is beautiful.

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Elissa Josephsohn, the face of theater, restaurant PR here

October 23rd, 2009
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Publicist Elissa Josephsohn, who will be remembered in a tribute show Sunday at the Hawaii Theatre, put a face on theater and restaurant publicity in her 30-plus career here. Anyone working in the arts — music, theater, dance, museum — has encountered her fierce passion, unmitigated commitment to her clients and tornado-force support of creative expression through song, dance, and art.
She was a culture vulture with a big heart, a lot of aloha, and boundless energy.
Our first meeting, however, was somewhat brittle and brusque. Lisa was then a newcomer publicist, arriving from North Carolina, to do duty with the Honolulu Symphony, and she was pitching an interview with Lucy Simon, a musician (who composed “The Secret Garden”) who was in town for an appearance. “Call me when you have Carly Simon,” I told her. (You know, the “You’re So Vain” composer who is a sister of Lucy).
Well, Carly never materialized and Lisa often chided me about my early disinterest and dismissal. But she never gave up on her hype and promotional wizardry.
So many other troupers and shows have traipsed into my life, and Honolulu’s, since Lisa hit the pavement, particularly in the fertile and risky marketing of big-show legit imports you generally have to go out of town to see. Theatrical spectacles like “Cats,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon,” plus other significant but less flashy shows as “Stomp” and “Tap Dogs,” arrived on our shores partly because of Lisa’s determination and dedication to let locals experience what she truly loved: live theater.
And then there was “Les Miserables,” the one spectacle that developed a common bond between our professional and personal relationship— she, as a theater-restaurant publicist, me as an entertainment reporter and columnist with The Honolulu Advertiser — though we discovered its appeal separately.
Through Lisa, I got to interview Craig Schulman, the Jean Valjean who, during one of his visits, marked his 1,000th performance, and over time opened my ears, my heart, and my arms to the soul and spirit of legit theater. At that time, he was the actor who logged the most Valjean performances, and who could resist him after he delivered his show-stopping “Bring Him Home.”
Lisa saw “Les Miserables,” the London and Broadway favorite, more than 30 times. I’ve seen it more than 20 times since my first viewing on the Great White Way and learned, early on, that you just can’t keep up with Lisa.
Lisa’s passing, after a 2 ½ year battle with ovarian cancer, leaves the kind of void following an earthquake: a puka so big, it’s impossible to fill. No one I know has demonstrated her kind zeal and zest, to hustle and honor the players and the productions she committed to. Not yet, anyway.
But here’s where she had true p.r. smarts: She was savvy in mixing her restaurant clients with her entertainment ones — so Compadres, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Dixie Grill, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Brew Moon, The Black Orchid and other eateries regularly had hot tickets for opening night or closing night linked to one of her visiting or resident shows. Surely, the Honolulu Symphony, Diamond Head Theatre, Ballet Hawaii, Army Community Theatre and the Rehab Hospital all benefitted from her magic to bring the culinary and performing entities together as she put the fun into fund-raising.
She also was a shopholic, unable to pass a bargain on purses; a workaholic, toiling around the clock to get more ink for her clients; and a dietholic, attempting every weight-loss program until she discovered gastric bypass surgery.
Her determination to be thin rivaled her drive to get her restaurant or show a spread in the paper, a spot on both the 6 and 10 o’clock TV news, a segment on “Sunrise,” a slot on the Saturday Perry & Price breakfast show. She had a way to dodge a “no” and get a mention or a quick hit to ballyhoo her cause.
Kevin Gray, the Broadway actor who played Scar in “The Lion King” here but whose connection with Lisa was “The Three Tenors” show he did here with the aforementioned Schulman of “Les Miz” and Cris Groenendal of “The Phantom of the Opera,” perhaps said it best. “We all feel this loss so deeply and personally, but that is nothing compared with the loss felt by the arts community in Hawai’i, who have had an incredible advocate for so many years,” he told me. “She created a family of artists in Honolulu, who she supported and defended to her final day. She was very tough and tenacious, but if you were the beneficiary of her powerful spirit, you had a Guardian Angel, and a loyalty that was a ‘run of the play’ commitment.”
All of this was Act I of Lisa’s life. Act II is under way now, as the Guardian Angel connects with her theater pals — Jim Hutchison, Tommy Aguilar, Vinnie Liff — who preceded her to the theater in the skies. She must be doing her p.r., her parties, her projects. That’s Lisa. ....

'A HARD ACT
TO FOLLOW’

A tribute to Elissa Josephsohn
2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 25)
Hawai‘i Theatre
Free, but donations suggested to the Elissa Josephsohn Spirit Fund at the Kapi‘iolani Health Foundation, 55 Merchant St., Suite 2600, Honolulu HI 96826, to enrich the lives of women cancer patients

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