Event Alert: The Heidi Chronicles

The Heidi Chronicles will begin performances tonight at the Music Box Theatre! Tickets are available here. The production will star Golden Globe-winner and six-time Emmy Award-nominee Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” “Top of the Lake,” Speed-the-Plow), Emmy Award-nominee Jason Biggs (“Orange Is The New Black,” American Pie), Tony Award-nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), and Tracee Chimo (Lips Together, Teeth Apart, “Orange Is The New Black,” Bad Jews).

Jan Balakian covers The Heidi Chronicles in her book Reading the Plays of Wendy WassersteinIn honor of the show’s opening night, here’s an excerpt exploring The Heidi Chronicles:

00314771The Heidi Chronicles dramatizes a romantic, witty, unmarried art history professor at Columbia University, Heidi Holland, approaching middle age and becoming disillusioned with the collapse of the idealism that shaped the sixties. Spanning twenty-three years, the play begins with Heidi’s slide lecture about the neglect of women artists and then travels back to a 1965 Chicago high school dance, where she meets the lifelong friends whose feminist values fluctuate. In college, Heidi and her friends become passionate feminists and liberals: we see them at a 1968 Eugene McCarthy rally in New Hampshire, a 1970 Ann Arbor consciousness-raising session, and a 1974 protest for women artists at the Art Institute of Chicago.

While Heidi remains committed to the ideals of feminism, her friends become swept away by the materialism and narcissism of the Reagan eighties, leading the vacuous lives they once denounced. Heidi feels stranded. At her 1986 high school alumni luncheon, the climax of the play, she confesses her feelings of abandonment and her disappointment with her peers: “I thought the point was we were all in this together.” By the end of the play in 1989, however, Heidi feels a little less alone and depressed in her New York apartment, having adopted a daughter as a single parent. She hopes that her daughter will feel the confidence and dignity that were the aims of the women’s movement.

This play grew out of Wasserstein’s strong feminist sentiments: “I wrote this play because I had this image of a woman standing up at a women’s meeting saying, ‘I’ve never been so unhappy in my life. . . .’ The more angry it made me that these feelings weren’t being expressed, the more anger I put into that play.” A comedy of manners, satirically depicting the concerns and conventions of a group of yuppies and a pair of witty lovers – Scoop and Heidi – the play exposes the marginalization of women artists, sexism in general, women’s loss of identity, an unromantic view of marriage, and the lost idealism of the second wave of feminism that began in the early sixties.

Unlike the first wave of feminism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which focused on officially mandated inequalities, like gaining women’s suffrage, the second wave encouraged women to understand the psychological implications of sexist stereotypes and opened the eyes of American women to careers and achievement, which they had lost in post-World War II America.

From the start, Heidi, standing in a lecture hall showing slides of paintings, addresses the neglect of womentheaterheidichronicles artists. She then points out the difference between the male and female sensibility: “Clara Peeters used more geometry and less detail than her mail peers.” This aesthetic difference becomes a metaphor for gender conflict throughout the play. Although female characters are frustrated that they derive their identities from men, they frantically seek boyfriends. Heidi treats this problem with humor as she segues from the art history lecture back to a 1965 high school dance: “This painting has always reminded me of one of those horrible high school dances. And you sort of want to dance, and you sort of want to go home, and you sort of don’t know what you want. So you hang around, a fading rose in an exquisitely detailed dress, waiting to see what might happen.”

During the 1965 dance, we hear the “The Shoop Shoop Song,” whose lyrics answered the question of anxious young American women: “How can I tell if he loves me so?” with “It’s in his kiss.” The song became a hit with Betty Everett’s 1963 album It’s in His Kiss. During this song, Heidi declines the All-American Chris Boxer’s invitation to dance the “Hully Gully” – a sixties line dance consisting of a series of quick steps called out by the MC. Her friend Susan, however, advises her on how to get a guy to dance with her: “Don’t look desperate. Men don’t dance with desperate women.” Eyeing a Bobby Kennedy lookalike, who is “twisting and smoking” in his “vest, blue jeans, tweed jacket and Wee-juns,” Susan quickly unbuttons her sweater, rolls up her skirt, and pulls a necklace out of her purse. She cautions Heidi, “. . . you’re going to get really messed up unless you learn to take men seriously,” and “The worst thing you can do is cluster. ‘Cause then it looks like you just wanna hang around with your girlfriend.”

Heidi is quick to point out that men are not such a big deal, that the only difference between men and women is biology: “. . . he can twist and smoke at the same time and we can get out of gym with an excuse called ‘I have my monthly.'” As Peter Patrone approaches Heidi, who is now reading a book, the Rolling Stones’ 1965 song “Play with Fire” plays, suggesting that Heidi is playing with fire by choosing not to be the representative 1965 girl. In another sense, playing with Peter Patrone is also “playing with fire”; although he may be Heidi’s soul mate, he is unattainable, because, we later find out, he is gay. Peter and Heidi enact their own melodrama, pretending they are star-crossed lovers on a Queen Mary cruise. Their meta-drama ironizes the 1965 high school dance; the sanitarium replaces the church wedding (Heidi declines Peter’s proposal, saying she covets her independence), and Peter and Heidi never kiss.

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SNL’s 40th Anniversary Special!!

00315538Saturday Night Live celebrates its 40th anniversary with a live, three-hour prime time special on NBC on Sunday, February 15, 2015. In honor of television’s longest running comedy turning the big 4-0, Saturday Night Live FAQ author Stephen Tropiano has provided a list (in chronological order) of 40 memorable moments from Seasons 1-40 (along with the show’s original airdate). You can watch many of these sketches, along with your personal favorites, at the Saturday Night Live archive at Yahoo.com (https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/).

 

 

Saturday Night Live: 40 Memorable Moments

1) In one of the edgiest sketches in SNL history, Chevy Chase gives job applicant Richard Pryor a racially charged “Word Association Test.” (12/13/75)

2) Lorne Michaels offers The Beatles a check for $3,000 to reunite on the show. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were reportedly watching and considered heading down to 30 Rock to make a surprise appearance. (4/24/76)

3) In “The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise,” NBC cancels Star Trek but Captain Kirk/William Shatner (John Belushi) isn’t ready to give up command of The Enterprise (5/29/76).

4) Paul Simon regrets opening the show wearing a giant turkey costume and singing “Still Crazy After All These Years.” (11/20/76)

5) After making a major slip up in a public service announcement parody for “The Right to Extreme Stupidity League,” Candice Bergen tries to hold it together as co-star Gilda Radner improvises. (12/11/76)

6) “New kid” Bill Murray delivers an on-air apology for not being funny. “It’s not that I’m not funny,” he admits, “it’s that I’m not being funny at the right time.” (3/19/77)

7) Miskel Spillman, 80, winner of the SNL’s first and only “Anyone Can Host” contest, gets stoned (off-camera) by John Belushi before her opening monologue (12/17/77)

8) The Conehead Family–Beldar, his wife Prymaat, and daughter Connie–are contestants on Family Feud.
(1/21/78)

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9) From Season 3, a pair of brilliant, self-referential “Schiller Reels” by filmmaker Tom Schiller: Don’t Look Back in Anger, in which an elderly John Belushi visits the graves of some of his former cast members (3/11/78); and La Dolce Gilda, a parody of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, featuring Gilda Radner as she struggles with her new found fame. (4/15/78).

10) Cooking guru Julia Child (Dan Aykroyd) cuts “the dickens” out of her finger, turning her show, The French Chef, into a bloody mess. (12/9/78)

11) Hands down the worst sketch in SNL history: “Commie Hunting Season,” in which a group of white rednecks go out to shoot Commies, Jews and African-Americans (complete with the N-word). No one–in the studio audience or at home–was laughing. No one. (11/22/80)

12) Charles Rocket drops the F-bomb. In a parody of “Who Shot J.R.?” Rocket is asked during the “goodnights” by host Charlene Tilton how it feels after being shot. He responds, “It’s the first time I’ve ever been shot in my life. I’d like to know who the fuck did it.” It didn’t matter. Rocket and most of the Season 6 cast would be gone after the next episode. (2/21/81)

13) The slam dancing fans of the punk rock group Fear create chaos in Studio 8H during their performance. In exchange for booking the band, John Belushi makes his final SNL appearance in the show’s cold opening. (10/31/81)

14) A rare appearance by legendary Beat writer William Burroughs, who reads excerpts from his novels, Naked Lunch and Nova Express. (11/7/81)

15) “Buckwheat is shot!” Buckwheat (Eddie Murphy) takes a bullet–or did he? (3/12/83).

16) William Shatner loses it during a Q & A session at a Star Trek convention and tells the show’s obsessive fans to get a life. (12/20/86)

17) The Church Lady (Dana Carvey) welcomes ex-PTL Club leaders Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker (Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks) to Church Chat. (“Isn’t that special?”) (3/28/87)

18) On the 14th season finale, an emotional Steve Martin pays tribute to original cast member Gilda Radner, who died that day of cancer at the age of 42. (5/20/89)

19) Wayne’s World hosts Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) welcome Aerosmith to their show. (“We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”) (2/17/90)

20) A shirtless Chris Farley is fearless competing against Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze to be a Chippendales dancer. (10/27/90)

21) Tom Hanks hosts SNL for the fifth time and is invited into the “Five-Timers Club” lounge where he meets other five-time hosts Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Elliot Gould. SNL staff writer and future talk show host Conan O’Brien plays Sean the Doorman and former cast members Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz, and Martin Short tend the bar and wait tables. (12/8/90)

22) David Spade is a snooty, dismissive receptionist at Dick Clark Productions who asks Roseanne (as herself), Dick Clark’s long lost biological mother (Julia Sweeney) and Jesus Christ (Phil Hartman) to take a seat. (2/22/92)

23) Barbra Streisand surprises guests Madonna and Roseanne with a cameo on Coffee Talk with Linda Richman (Mike Myers). Barbra’s nails? Like buttah! (2/22/92)

24) Irish singer Sinead O’Connor stuns the studio audience and sparks a major controversy when she ends her a cappella rendition of Bob Marley’s “War” by ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II and declaring, “Fight the real enemy!” (O’Connor was protesting the Catholic Church in Dublin protecting pedophile priests). (10/3/92)

25) Phil Hartman as Frank Sinatra, who insults a long list of recording artists, including Liza Minnelli (host Rosie O’Donnell), Barbra Streisand (Mike Myers), and K.D. Lang (Rob Schneider), as they line up to record a duet for Ol’ Blue Eyes’s 1993 Duets album. (11/13/93)

26) In the first of many parodies of Celebrity Jeopardy!, host Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) endures Sean Connery’s (Darrell Hammond) insults and Burt Reynold’s (Norm MacDonald) and Jerry Lewis’s (Martin Short) stupidity. (12/7/96)

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27) The Delicious Dish hosts Margaret Joe McCullin (Ana Gasteyer) and Terry Rialto (Molly Shannon) welcome Pete Schwetty (Alec Baldwin) to their show and enjoy his “Schwetty Balls.” (12/12/98)

28) SNL’s 25th Anniversary Special: Cast members and hosts reunite to honor the show’s 25th anniversary, which includes moving tributes to late cast members John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, and Gilda Radner. (9/25/99)

29) “More Cowbell!” cries record producer Bruce Dickson at the 1976 recording session of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.” Will Ferrell is Gene Frenkel, the overly enthusiastic cowbell player. (4/8/2000)

30) Season 27 opens with a moving tribute to 9/11 First Responders (9/29/01) with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; members of New York City’s Fire, Police, and Port Authority Police Departments; and Paul Simon singing “The Boxer.” (9/29/01)

31) In her debut, Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) ruins a family trip to Walt Disney World while host Lindsay Lohan and SNL cast members struggle to control their laughter. (5/1/04)

32) When musical guest Ashlee Simpson starts to sing her second number (“Autobiography”), an audio track of her first number (“Pieces of Me”) starts to play, thereby revealing to all of America that some of the musical performances on SNL are not necessarily live. (10/23/04)

33) An early holiday present from Robert Smigel: A brilliant claymation music video, “Christmas Time for the Jews,” with vocals by the great Darlene Love. (12/17/05)

34) The second “SNL Digital Short” is a rap music video entitled “Lazy Sunday,” in which Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell sing about buying snacks and going to see Chronicles of Narnia. Produced with Samberg’s Lonely Island partners, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, the video went viral. (12/17/05)

35) The best “SNL Digital Short” was “D–k in a Box,” an R & B holiday duet sung by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, who give their girlfriends a very special package for Christmas. Samberg, Timberlake, and their collaborators, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma & Asa Taccone, and Katreese Barnes won an Emmy for Best Original Song. (12/16/06)

36) Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin (Tina Fey) and former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Amy Poehler) deliver a bi-partisan message about sexism toward female candidates in the Presidential campaign. (Palin/Fey’s best line: “And I can see Russia from my house!”) (9/13/08)

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37) Two weeks later, Palin (Fey) is interviewed by CBS Evening New’s Katie Couric (Poehler) in a sketch that plays more like a reenactment of the real interview (except for the part when Palin, like a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, wants to use one of her “lifelines” to help her answer a question). (9/27/08)

38) The Season 38th Christmas show opens with a The New York City Children’s Chorus singing “Silent Night” in memory of the twenty children and six adult staff members who lost their lives in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut the previous day. (12/15/12)

39) Weekend Update cultural correspondent Stefon (Bill Hader), who is in love with anchor Seth Meyers, says goodbye. Meyers finally admits he has feelings for Stefon and in a hilarious video, runs to the church to stop Stefon from marrying CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. (5/18/13)

40) Kate McKinnon’s reprises her impersonation of Justin Bieber in a series of commercial parodies of his latest Calvin Klein commercials. Bieber was a good sport, tweeting, “Well played. LOL.” (1/17/15)

 

Dale Sherman: Armageddon Films FAQ Update

00122479With the upcoming release of Dale Sherman’s latest FAQ book (Coming in March!), Quentin Tarantino FAQ, Dale is celebrating by going back to his previous books in the series to pull up some new details for readers! This week, he has provided additional information on Armageddon Films FAQ!

From the pages of ARMAGEDDON FILMS FAQ: Childhood’s End – the Greatest Apocalyptic Movie Never Made

The first chapter in my book about end-of-the-world movies, Armageddon Films FAQ, deals with ten classic apocalyptic novels that had never been turned into movies. To show why such books have remained landmarks in science fiction and horror, as well as why they keep getting passed over by Hollywood, the chapter takes on the voices of those arguing such points at a studio – with a reader giving details about the book, an agent pushing the project, and a studio bean-counter attempting to find all the reasons to avoid it. As mentioned in the chapter, although passed over, many of the novels had been cannibalized left and right over the years for various other apocalyptic movies, with Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End being a prime example for such usage. 

In September 2014, the cable network SyFy Channel announced that they planned to finally take Clarke’s 00333849novel out of that list, with a miniseries adaptation to be filmed in 2015. Having Matthew Graham, co-creator of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, on board sounds intriguing (he also wrote the Doctor Who episode “Fear Her” but … well, he created Life on Mars, so let’s not hold it against him). However, the plot-points given by the cable channel seem to play the miniseries up as rather like a variation of V (what appear to be friendly aliens are anything but, and now humanity must fight the same alien race they once welcomed), but let’s hope that this is just shorthand for more than chase-scenes with aliens for six hours.

No doubt, when reviewing the book, the studio – in this case Universal – brought up several of the same issues as seen in this excerpt from Armageddon Films FAQ. As readers will see, my own conclusions are not quite what has come about, but time will tell if I’m closer to be right than they are.

Script Reader’s Analysis: For many years Arthur C. Clarke was considered one of the “Big Three” in Science Fiction, along with Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers) and Isaac Asimov (pretty much everything else … okay, that’s a rare joke from this reader, but Asimov was prolific as a science author and Science Fiction writer, including I, Robot, which was adapted as a hit movie for Will Smith). Clarke (1917-2008) may not have been quite as busy as Asimov, but certainly contributed in abundance to the printed page, with written pieces on scientific advances as well as his short stories, novellas, and novels over the years. Best known is his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the movie and novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was originally pitched between the two as an adaptation of his short story, “The Sentinel,” although there are certainly aspects of Childhood’s End in the finish work as well. Besides 2001Childhood’s End and “The Sentinel,” Clark created some of the better known short stories and novels in the genre, from Rendezvous with Rama to “The Nine Billion Names of God” (an apocalyptic short story) to The Sands of MarsChildhood’s End has been seen as written by Clarke when he still had some aspects of wonder pertaining to the paranormal (beliefs he discarded later in life, although they led to his use of telekinesis as a plot-device in the novel), but namely his early conviction in the wonders of science and how advancements in the field can deem mostly positive instead of negative results. Although aspects of Childhood’s End could be seen as being gloomy, Clarke champions that such treks into the future could be of amazement and for the positive.

Check out the rest of Dale Sherman’s blog post here!

 

SWOT Analysis with Bobby Borg

Music Marketing for the DIY Musician is a comprehensive guide for up-and-coming artists who want their music to be heard and appreciated. Here, author Bobby Borg talks about one of the key points in DIY marketing: The SWOT analysis. Tune in soon for more episodes!

Listen: Natasha Scharf in conversation with Liisa Ladouceur

Listen to Natasha Scharf in conversation with Encyclopedia Gothica author Liisa Ladouceur! Together, they discuss “what is gothic?” along with the release of Natasha’s new book, The Art of Gothic.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00127606The gothic look – head-to-toe black attire and extreme makeup – has been a popular one since the 1980s, with each generation reinterpreting this dark aesthetic as its own. From the staccato postpunk of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the dark rock of the Sisters of Mercy through to the industrial metal of Marilyn Manson and the funereal emotional pop of My Chemical Romance, gothic culture has strong roots in music and continues to adapt and survive. But gothic art is about more than just album covers and ephemera; it’s about fashion, book jackets, cinematography, and fine art. Its influence frequently seeps into mainstream culture too. Nowadays, “goth” comes in many shapes, sizes, and even colors, as it encompasses a myriad of subgenres, including cyber, death rock, gothic metal, gothic Lolita, and emo goths. Although each is different, followers are identified by their striking, often theatrical look, music with a hint of melancholy, and the ability to find beauty in morbidity, sometimes even in the macabre.

The Art of Gothic is the first heavily illustrated tome to explore the aesthetics of this fascinating style in great detail. Previous books on goth have given a bold overview of the music and culture associated with the genre, but this book goes deeper and hones in on the album art, intricate fashions, fantasy illustrations, and more.

Bill Wyman’s Vox Amplifier

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Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Now you have a chance to win this top-notch Vox amp! Read this excerpt from the book about how the band used to worship these amps!

Solid Senders

Bill Wyman officially joined the group on January 5. Apparently, Mick, Keith, and Brian had finally decided that Bill was in after what could best be described as a trial period. Bill explained: “They didn’t like me, but I had a good amplifier, and they were badly in need of amplifiers at that time! So, they kept me on. Later, when they were going to get rid of me, I think I clicked or something and I stayed. I must have just fitted in.” Ian Stewart later commented, “There is a certain amount of truth that Bill was taken on for his equipment, but Bill was very good.”

VoxAmpThe group immediately incorporated Bill’s amplifiers into the backline. While the Watkins Westminster, a 10-watt amp
that came with an 8-inch speaker,
two inputs, a volume control, and a
tone control that also acted as an on-
off switch, was a nice addition, the 
real prize was Bill’s Vox AC-30.

Keith, more impressed by this 
particular amp than he was with 
Bill, later commented: “Bill had
 amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped.
 A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was 
beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” Watkins, later WEM (Watkins Electric Music), was a London-based company started by Charlie Watkins that specialized in amplification.

The Vox AC-30 was considered the best and loudest guitar amplifier on the market in England at the time. Bill’s AC-30 was tan or beige, commonly referred to as “fawn-colored.” The official model name for the amp was the Vox AC-30/6 Twin Normal; “6” meaning six inputs, “Twin” meaning two speakers, and “Normal” meaning the guitar rather than bass version. The AC-30 was equipped with four EL84 power tubes, five pre-amp tubes, and a single GZ34 rectifier tube. Jim Elyea’s definitive book Vox Amplifiers The JMI Years states that: “Bill’s original ‘fawn’ AC-30 was built in approximately February 1962 and was purchased from the Art Nash Music Shop. Bill’s is a Normal model with a brownish copper panel with no Top Boost circuit. The two original leather handles have been replaced with newer Vox SBU handles. The amp is equipped with a pair of Celestion Blue T.530 12-inch speakers and has a sticker inside the amp indicating that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne.”

The Vox factory was located in Dartford, where Mick and Keith
grew up, and the primary Vox amplifier showroom was the Jennings
 music shop on Charing Cross Road in central London. Jennings Musical
 Industries was established by Tom Jennings in 1958. In 1962, the
 operation further expanded its horizons with the introduction of Vox 
guitars The company’s Vox amplifiers were devised by JMI’s chief design
engineer, Dick Denney.. Denney, who was also the creator of the AC-30,
started the Vox amplifier line with a 15-watt unit. He then reasoned that
what musicians really needed was a twin-speaker amp with six inputs.
Denney remembered Tom Jennings’s reaction to the concept: “He said to
me, ‘Well, you do what you like Dick, but if it doesn’t work, your head’s
on the chopping block.’ As it turned out, the AC-30 became the jewel in
 Vox’s crown; it’s what put Vox on the map. I made the amp so that it
sounded good to me. It was old technology, and I think old technology
still prevails.” One of the design oddities of the AC-30 was the situation of its control panel at the back of the top of the cabinet. Denney explained that his fellow guitarists at the time often sat behind their amplifiers, which projected a reverb-type effect into the hall from the front and a “dry” sound from the open back. Wyman’s Vox AC-30 amplifier cost £105, about $300 then, the equivalent of about £1,340 ($1,870) today.

On January 14, 1963, Tony Chapman was fired at the end of a gig at the Flamingo Jazz Club in Soho, London. The January 14, 1963, entry in Keith’s diary reads simply, “Tony Sacked!” Bill Wyman remembered: “Tony was told that his services were no longer required. He was furious and said, ‘Come on, Bill, let’s go and start a new band.’ I told him I was staying with the Stones, and Tony just upped and left.”

In Memory of Joan Rivers

Yesterday, the world lost a talented comedian, activist, and pioneer for women in Hollywood. Joan Rivers will be greatly missed. Here is an excerpt about Joan from the Applause publication Comediennes: Laugh Be A Lady. Joan was a “comedy factory” like no other.

 

Besides a mainstream comedy boom, the ’80s gave us cable networks ONTV and Select, video games by Atari, and musical groups with big hair wearing tight pants. There were jiggle shows, goofy sitcoms, lawyer dramas, funny Bette Midler movies, and unemployed traffic controllers. And then there was Joan Rivers.

JOAN RIVERS

She had to compete against all of that. No problem. She’d cut her comedy teeth in Chicago’s Second City and comedy clubs in New York’s Greenwich Village. As Johnny Carson’s go-to guest host, the raspy voiced comedienne who’d been plugging away since the ’60s was finally getting some serious attention. So much so that in 1986, the newly christened FOX network beckoned Rivers over to do her own late-night talk show.

Being a pioneer means sacrifice. Not only did Rivers’s show die a rancid death, after attempting to fire husband, Edgar Rosenberg (who was the producer), FOX ended up firing them both. Three months later, Rosenberg was found dead from an apparent suicide. Joan blamed FOX. Several years later, she found success on a daytime talk show. She also got daughter Melissa in on the act by co-hosting the E! Entertainment network’s Golden Globes pre-show and Academy Awards pre-show and ripping celebrities a new one.

“I like people that don’t really give a damn and just say whatever. Sometimes I wish I had balls like that, but I’m too scared to hurt people’s feelings.” —Nikki Carr

Joan Alexandra Molinsky from Brooklyn didn’t have time to care about other people’s feelings. She was too busy trying to get ahead. After graduating from Barnard College with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and anthropology, she worked a number of diverse jobs: tour guide at Rockefeller Center, writer/ proofreader at an ad agency, and fashion consultant.

Rivers began her show biz career in the theater and New York comedy clubs and landed on The Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar. She was a gag writer for Candid Camera, as well as a plant to sucker participants into doing wacky things. It was during the ’60s that she made her first foray into the talk-show format with a daytime talk show of her own. Her first guest was Johnny Carson. She also released two comedy albums during this decade.

The 1970s saw a Rivers expansion. She appeared on variety shows (The Carol Burnett Show), participated in children’s programming (The Electric Company), and did game shows (Hollywood Squares). She wrote the Stockard Channing movie comedy The Girl Most Likely To . . . and wrote and directed the Billy Crystal film Rabbit Test. She also introduced herself to Las Vegas audiences as singer Helen Reddy’s opening act.

By the ’80s, Rivers was headlining Vegas. She took her growing cache and wrote a bestselling humor book, The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz. Her popularity was such that she found herself initiating a lawsuit against drag queen Frank Marino for doing her stand-up material as part of his impersonation of her. This was also the decade she became estranged from longtime friend and mentor Carson after jumping over to FOX and directly challenging him for viewers and precious ratings. Once that whirlwind of missteps and tragedy subsided, Joan stepped back into the daytime talk- show arena with The Joan Rivers Show and got an Emmy and a five-year run for her efforts.

The only thing that was getting more attention than Joan Rivers’s own biting self-deprecating wit was her multiple plastic surgeries. She’s never shied away from the fact that she’s had some work done, having popped up on three episodes of Nip/ Tuck playing herself and as a vagina that’s had too much plastic surgery in the animated adult show Drawn Together.

The new millennium found business-savvy Rivers being omnipresent. She had an $8 million deal to do TV Guide’s red- carpet show, leaving E! holding considerably less. She had a line of baubles called, what else, The Joan Rivers Collection being hawked on the QVC shopping network. She was one in only four Americans invited to Prince Charles’s wedding and won Donald Trump’s NBC reality show hit, The Celebrity Apprentice. Joan Rivers is no mere comedienne. She’s a comedy factory.00314938