Blog Archives

Listen: Barry Monush on Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips!

Barry Monush, author of The Sound of Music FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Maria, the von Trapps, and Our Favorite Things talks with Patrick Phillips of “Pop Culture Tonight” about his new book!


00123101The Sound of Music FAQ is a comprehensive, encyclopedia-like reference to the world’s most popular movie musical. Rather than focusing on the often-told stories of this classic movie, this book looks at the 1965 Oscar-winner in relation to its source, including the true von Trapp family story and the Broadway musical from which it was derived.

The Sound of Music FAQ explores such facts and trivia as the movie’s phenomenal original run in cinemas, during which it dominated the box office for a staggering amount of time and became the highest grossing movie of the 1960s and of all time; its long and varied life on home video and primetime television; the bestselling soundtrack and many other related recordings; information behind the stunning Austrian locations; the critical feedback; the many stage revivals; and the continuing references, homages, reunions, and tributes related to it over the many decades since its release.

The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary!

Today is The Sound of Music film’s 50th anniversary! The film’s US release date was March 2nd, 1965. In honor of the anniversary, here is an excerpt from Barry Monush’s new book, The Sound of Music FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Maria, the Von Trapps, and Our Favorite Things.

00123101When the Trapps Were Die Trapps

The First Cinematic Versions of the Trapp Story

Pretty much everyone who has worshipped the movie The Sound of Music is well aware that it first came to life as a Broadway stage musical. Less known is the fact that there are not one but two previous movies that cover the story of Maria and the Trapp Family Singers. Although both pictures did good business in West Germany, where they were produced (in 1956 and 1958, respectively), there was no great rush or desire on the part of American distributors to release them over here. The first picture, Die Trapp-Familie, did, however, play a very important role in the development of The Sound of Music, as it was screened by Mary Martin and her husband, producer Richard Halliday, and gave them the idea of a possible stage show, albeit one they initially envisioned consisting of the actual traditional songs the Trapps had sung, and not a full-scale original score. It was not until they approached Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II with the odd idea of the team perhaps contributing one new number that the more obvious idea came to fruition: why not have two of Broadway’s greatest songwriters create their own full score for the story?

2117739,zvp+zhJc1q9tL9rhxced78+KC+0J2tUgonBGucHykXn7Y6ndrWVt3TSkakTsbdK0YDjzV1xJTYwtQa_3w1eR_w==It was because of the eventual success on stage of The Sound of Music and 20th Century-Fox’s purchase of the rights to turn it into a movie that finally allowed some version of the German Trapp films to see the light of day on American cinema screens. Fox did not, however, picture the two movies (Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika was the second one) as separate “art-house” entities showing in select venues with their original German language soundtrack, instead wanting to present them to a wider audience. To this end the studio took the drastic step of not only dubbing the films into English but trimming out a great deal of footage (mainly from the second installment) and piecing them together as one movie, The Trapp Family. 

Win: Lucille Ball FAQ

Happy Birthday, Lucy! To celebrate 101 years of Lucille Ball, we’re giving you a pop quiz from the class we’ve just made up called “Lucy 101: 101 Years of Lucille Ball.” Post your answers in comments, and the first person to post with all four correct answers AND INCLUDE THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS will win a free copy of Lucille Ball FAQ by James Sheridan and Barry Monush (Applause Books). Ready? You may begin.

1. In what year did I Love Lucy premiere?

2. Why was Lucy’s Broadway debut in opening night of Wildcats delayed?

3. The birth of Lucy’s baby on January 19 became the biggest story in the news the next morning, even overshadowing coverage on the inauguration of which U.S. president?

4. What is the name of Lucy’s second husband?

Pencils down.

Although countless books and articles have been written about Lucille Ball, most people know only the surface details of her personal life and some basic facts about her popular television series. Lucille Ball FAQ takes us beyond the “Lucy” character to give readers information that might not be common knowledge about one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. It can be read straight through, but the FAQ format also invites readers to pick it up and dig in at any point.

Animation Nomination: An Animated Rant

Guest Blogger: Barry Monush, author of Lucille Ball FAQ, West Side Story: Music on Film, and more. Also the editor of Screen World.

It wouldn’t be Oscar season without some complaining, so here goes. While the 2011 nominees are (mostly) remarkably devoid of groaners (as long as they got Christopher Plummer in there, I’m happy), those of us who actually see a lot of movies and make keeping track of the new releases a way of life (yes, we’re out there), want to vent about how certain categories are filled.

It appears that the Animated Feature category has now joined the ranks of Foreign Language Film and Feature Documentary. In other words, there is no obligation for the nominees to actually have been available for viewing by the paying general public. Considering how animation floods the market these days and dominates the box office, you’d think the Academy would be able to come up with 5 films that fans have actually heard of, but no, instead two of this year’s nominees have even the most avid movie followers scratching their heads: A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita.

This is not a rant about their quality. Who the hell has actually seen the pictures to comment on that? What I’m bugged by is why they are in the running without being a part of the actual 2011 movie scene? If indeed categories are going to consist of items that can only be screened by Academy members or on the festival circuit, then they should not be included in the telecast that the rest of the world watches. Rather than keeping the honorary awards away from home viewers (don’t get me started on how dumb that decision was), why not relegate the Animation, Documentary, Foreign, and Short Subjects to the also-ran ceremony instead?

Better yet, just have the Oscars pay tribute to released titles and keep us all in the loop.


Screen World 62: The Films of 2010

Movie fans eagerly await each new edition of Screen World, the definitive record of the cinema since 1949. Volume 62 provides an illustrated listing of every significant American and foreign film released in the United States in 2010, documented with more than 1,000 black-and-white photographs.

Q&A with Barry Monush


Barry Monush, editor of Screen World, talks with One Movie, Five Views.


OMFV: Do you have a personal favourite film from 2010?

Barry: It’s hard to pick one – there were many highlights for me that year. The Social Network, The Ghost Writer, City Island, Please Give, Solitary Man, The Extra Man, Catfish, Let Me In, The King’s Speech, The Company Men, Another Year, to name just a few. Already I feel like I’ve left too many out …

Keep Reading in…


Volume 62: The Films of 2010

Screen World‘s outstanding features include a color section of highlights and a comprehensive index with over 19,000 entries; full-page photographs of the four Academy Award-winning actors as well as photos of all acting nominees; a look at the year’s most promising new screen personalities; complete film information: cast and characters, credits, production company, date released, rating, capsule plot summary, and running time; biographical entries: a priceless reference on nearly 2,500 living stars, including real name, school, and date and place of birth; and obituaries for 2010.

Available now from Applause Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

‘Tis the Season: Holiday Gift Ideas for the Music and Arts Lover on Your Shopping List

It’s that time of year again, and we here at Hal Leonard wanted to make sure our readers didn’t miss out on gift opportunities this holiday season. We’ve made our list (and checked it twice) of great holiday gift ideas for the music and performing arts lover on your shopping list. Whether your mother-in-law prefers Lucille Ball or Led Zeppelin, Hal Leonard has just the book you’re looking for. Read on for our list of holiday must-haves:


Show-by-Show Deluxe Set
By Stanley Green

Broadway Musicals: Show-by-Showis the bestselling, most comprehensive Broadway reference book today. In this new and expanded edition you’ll find over 300 of the most important and memorable productions of the American musical theatre. You’ll also find over 300 movies documented including writer, director, choreographer, cast and song lists, plot summary and more. Available for purchase here.

Unlocking the Masters Deluxe Set
Bach’s Keyboard Music, Beethoven’s Symphonies, and Brahms, A Listener’s Guide

The big three – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms – all together in one deluxe set! Each volume presents an in-depth exploration of the composer’s world of musical intimacies in an easy-to-read, nuts-and-bolts manner. Available for purchase here.


The Musician’s Ultimate Toolbox
How to Make Your Band Sound Great and The Studio Musician’s Handbook

By Bobby Owsinski

These two volumes offer the practicing musician great titles from the Bobby Owsinski Handbook series of titles. How to Make Your Band Sound Great explores every aspect of playing with other musicians, including the equipment, hardware and software used in today’s increasingly technological world. The Studio Musician’s Handbook, reveals the inner workings of a major Hollywood recording session. Available for purchase here.

The Actor’s Ultimate Toolbox
Duo! The Best Scenes for the ’90s and Duo! The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century

These two volumes offer a full spectrum of scenes from the ’90s and the 2000s. Each scene has a synopsis of the play, character descriptions and notes on how to propel the scene to full power! Includes: Angles in America, Burn This, Lettice and Lovage, Driving Miss Daisy, Other People’s Money, M. Butterfly, August: Osage County, George & Martha, Intimate Apparel, Take Me Out, and Water Music. Available for purchase here.

Fab Four FAQ Deluxe Set
Fab Four FAQ and Fab Four FAQ 2.0, The Solo Years

Fab Four FAQ contains everything left to know about the Beatles. Stories unknown by most fans, trends unseen and history revealed. Fab Four FAQ 2.0, The Solo Years, picks up where Fab Four FAQ left off, presenting in-depth information on their careers as solo artists. Both books are loaded with images of rare period ephemera, including periodicals, single sleeves, and movie stills. This is the first comprehensive biography of all four ex-Beatles. Available for purchase here.

The Songwriter’s Ultimate Toolbox Boxed Set
How to Write Songs on Guitar, Songwriting Sourcebook, How to Write Songs in Altered Guitar Tunings

By Rikky Rooksby

The bestselling How to Write Songs on Guitar shows you tips and tricks by classic songwriters, from Bob Dylan to the Beatles to Tori Amos. The Songwriting Sourcebook shows you how to turn chords into great songs and compliments How to Write Songs on Guitar. How to Write Songs in Altered Guitar Tunings is the latest installment from Rikky Rooksby and is the only book that explains how to write songs with altered tunings. Available for purchase here.

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Day by Day, Night After Night
Deluxe Box Set

By Craig Hopkins

This boxed set combines both volumes of Stevie Ray Vaughan: Day by Day, Night After Night, one of the most lavishly illustrated and detailed musician biographies ever written. In a day-by-day format, Craig Hopkins presents an award-winning and unprecedented celebration of Vaughan’s life and music. His Early Years, 1954-1982, the first volume in this deluxe set, covers the complete history of the guitar legend’s roots, from his childhood to the eve of his first major record release. The second volume, His Final Years, 1983-1990, covers Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s recording career, from their debut release through their rise to international stardom. Available for purchase here.

The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop
By Tom Wheeler

This third in a series of hardcover books joins the award-winning titles The Stratocaster Chronicles and The Soul of Tone by author/historian Tom Wheeler. In nearly 600 pages, The Dream Factory features hundreds of full-color photos of incredibly rare, collectible, and limited-edition handcrafted guitars. Learn how the Fender Custom Shop, originally intended to employ just two master craftsmen, grew into the most prolific custom instrument shop in the music industry. Available for purchase here.


Led Zeppelin FAQ

Bad Reputation

The Beach Boys FAQ

Screen World 62

A Hard Day's Night

The Vampire Film

5th Annual Fire Island Theater and Literary Fest a Success!

Guest Blogger: Ben Hodges, editor of the Theatre World series

The 5th Annual Fire Island Theater and Literary Festival took place the weekend of October 14, 15, 16, at the Madison Fire Island Pines in Fire Island, New York, surrounding the 52nd and 50th anniversaries, respectively, of the stage and film versions of West Side Story. The event was hosted by Andrew Kirtzman of the Madison Fire Island Pines and produced by Theatre World editor in chief Ben Hodges. The event was hosted by Drama Desk-nominated Sirius Radio host Christine Pedi, who interviewed Applause Books authors Misha Berson (Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination), and Barry Monush (West Side Story: Music on Film). Original stage and film performer Harvey Evans was also in attendance. Selections from the show were sung by Bill Coyle and Patrician Noonan. Approximately 100 people were in attendance.


I Love… Philip Morris?: Sixty Years After It All Began

Guest blogger: Barry Monush, author of the Screen World series, The Encyclopedia of Hollywood Screen Actors, Everybody’s Talkin’, West Side Story: Music on FilmHollywood Musicals Year by Year, and Lucille Ball FAQ.

What’s left to say about the 60th anniversary of I Love Lucy? If you’ve caught this eternally watchable series somewhere over the past five decades in reruns (yes, I’m pretty sure it’s been rerun a few times in syndication, but don’t quote me on this) you’ve no doubt seen “The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub,” as the October 15, 1951 premiere installment was called. But unless you tuned in to I Love Lucy that night, you’ve probably never seen the full episode the exact way it was first presented; starting with a midget (Johnny Roventini) in a bellhop’s uniform wailing “Call for Philip Morr-i-i-is!!!” (The final image of Lucy and Ethel at the fights actual dissolves back into this image as well).

You see, before it ended up in syndication, this program was seriously addicted to tobacco. Philip Morris was the sponsor, after all, and before we even see Lucille Ball or any of the other cast members show up on the premiere, actor John Stephenson (unidentified) appears on the Ricardos’ iconic apartment set asking the audience if they inhale or not, before extolling the virtues of Philip Morris cigarettes! Once the episode proper begins, all four cast principals eventually light up and cigarettes actually become a pivotal plot point later on. At the show’s mid-point there’s another Philip Morris ad that takes you on location to the original Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas (the one mobster Bugsy … oops, I mean Ben Siegel built), which is fascinating just for the unique period footage, not because another Morris spokesman is encouraging a lady to smoke his brand.

And the famous I Love Lucy heart? Nowhere to be seen; instead, up front, at the interval, and at the end we see a box of Philip Morris cigarettes with stick-figure versions of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz crawling around it!

So, if you grew up with Lucy, like most of us did, be grateful that as a later day syndication viewer you weren’t bombarded with tobacco endorsements, otherwise you might have eagerly answered Johnny’s call and not be here to celebrate the 60th!

Lucille Ball FAQ: Everything Left to Know About America’s Favorite Redhead by Barry Monush and James Sheridan

Although countless books and articles have been written about Lucille Ball, most people know only the surface details of her personal life and some basic facts about her popular television series. Lucille Ball FAQ takes us beyond the “Lucy” character to give readers information that might not be common knowledge about one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. It can be read straight through, but the FAQ format also invites readers to pick it up and dig in at any point.

Available now from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Ghost vs. Kitty: The Revenge of Kitty Galore on Thinker Films

Guest Blogger: 
Barry Monush, author of the Screen World series, The Encyclopedia of Hollywood Screen Actors, Everybody’s Talkin’, West Side Story: Music on Film,  Hollywood Musicals Year by Year, and Lucille Ball FAQ.

Best movie of 2010 that you may not have seen.

Among the pleasures to be had from editing Screen World is the hope that your editorial decisions can draw attention to a movie or two that didn’t get its fair shake.

If you’re an ‘independent,’ as the industry insists on calling thoroughly accessible movies that don’t  fall into the ‘high concept’ category, it’s considered perfectly respectable if you make $15 million at the box office, but I don’t see it that way.  This means you’ve still fallen nearly $30 million short of the final figures on Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Huh? If you have any taste, you’re probably thinking I made that title up, because nobody in their right mind sat around in 2010 anticipating the release of Kitty Galore, nor did you probably run into anyone talking about it at a cocktail party.

Which brings me to the $15 million-grossing movie in question, The Ghost Writer. The earliest media mentions it received came by way of a negative event – being the latest offering from director Roman Polanski, just as he was being arrested for the crime he fled our country for back in the 1970s. I don’t know if this publicity was the reason those $15 million-worth of folks chose to see what was, in my assessment, the best thing Polanski had done since Chinatown. Or maybe his notoriety is what kept this smart, devilishly unsettling adaptation of Robert Harris’ terrific page-turning novel from reaching the heights of, um, Kitty Galore.

If The Ghost Writer did not sit high on the year’s box office list, as Chinatown did back in 1974, there are a number of reasons, the most unfortunate being that there are more paying customers these days who will respond to the simplicities of Kitty Galore than to the dialogue-heavy plot turns and restrained, subtle menace of The Ghost Writer, so conditioned have they become to assuming that a movie you see in a theatre is fast, loud, and very high in concept. Too bad for them.

Barry Monush (Metuchen, NJ) is the author of the acclaimed Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965; Everybody’s Talkin’: The Top Films of 1965-1969; Hollywood Musicals: Year by Year (revised third edition); and the Music on Film volume on West Side Story. He is a researcher for the Paley Center for Media in New York City.

Screen World 62’s outstanding features include a color section of highlights; an index with over 19,000 entries; full-page photographs of the four Academy Award-winning actors as well as photos of all the acting nominees; a look a the year’s most promising new screen personalities; a priceless biographical reference to more than 2,500 living stars; and obituaries for 2010.

Available from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.

Event: West Side Story – Fifth Annual Fire Island Pines Literary and Theater Weekend

The Fifth Annual Fire Island Pines Literary and Theater Weekend
Presented by Ben Hodges

West Side Story poster

The 50th Anniversary Celebration of West Side Story
Surrounding the release of Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination and West Side Story: Music on Film

Saturday, Oct. 15
Cocktail reception at 2pm
Performance at 3pm
The Madison Fire Island Pines
22 Atlantic Walk
Free Admission!

Special guests: Harvey Evans (Broadway legend and performer of both stage and film productions of West Side Story), Christine Pedi (currently of NEWSical The Musical and SiriusXM radio host), Misha Berson (author of Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination), Barry Monush (author of West Side Story: Music on Film), and special Broadway performers TBA.

Ben Hodges, editor of the beloved book series Theatre World, is proud to produce the fifth annual Fire Island Pines Literary and Theater Weekend on Oct. 14th, 15th, & 16th. The theme is West Side Story. Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination, by Misha Berson (Applause Books), and West Side Story: Music on Film, by Barry Monush (Limelight Editions) are new books from Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group. The event will be hosted by Drama Desk nominee Christine Pedi, currently of NEWSical The Musical and the host of the SiriusXM daily radio show On Broadway, with discussion/questions and book signing by Misha Berson, Barry Monush, and Ben Hodges to follow.

Make your reservations now and spend your weekend with the performers at the acclaimed Madison Fire Island Pines, which The Advocate has named as the best accommodations in Fire Island Pines. For great rates, call The Madison at 631-597-6061 or book your reservation through their website


Patricia Noonan recently created the role of Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) and the role of Sophia in Death Takes a Holiday for the Roundabout Theatre Company.  Other NYC credits: Where’s Charley? and Girl Crazy (City Center Encores!), Signs of Life (Lorelei), Hurricane (NYMF), Cabaret Girl (Effie).  Regional: Carousel (Julie Jordan/Barrington Stage), Sondheim at 80 (Soloist/Kennedy Center), Little House on the Prairie (original cast/Guthrie Theatre), How to Succeed… (Rosemary), Ragtime (Evelyn Nesbit), Man of La Mancha (Antonia). Training: Boston College (Presidential Scholars Program).

Bill Coyne is thrilled to be singing for the 50th Anniversary of the West Side Story film. His last performance of “Maria” was accompanied on Leonard Bernstein’s personal piano! Bill just finished a run in Gerard Alessandrini’s new show Madame X in the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF). Recently, he performed in a reading of Marc Acito and Jeffrey Stock’s new musical A Room With a View, which will premiere at the Old Globe this spring. Other credits include Valere in The Miser and creating the role of Supernova in the new musical Superhero Celebrity Rehab at the Access Theater. Proud NYU-Steinhardt grad.