Red Around Town: May 1

This has been a non-stop spring so far. On Sunday April 19th the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame held its 2009 inductions in the lobby of the Orpheum Theatre.  This year’s new members include:  Michael Bublé, music;  Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest), TV; Wendy Gorling, theatre; Jurgen Gothe, radio;  The Province’s Tom Harrison, music; Fanny Kiefer, TV; Terry  McBride, music; Bill Reiter (5,000 commercials to his credit – involved with radio and television); Gabrielle Rose, theatre, film, and TV; and Max Wyman for dance.

I was honored to induct Bill Reiter, Fanny Kiefer, Terry McBride, Michael Bublé and Nicholas Campbell. The list of pioneers has ben updated: Babz Chula, actress; Chuck  Davis, author and radio personality; Children’s Festival creator Ernie Fladell; variety TV show guru Ken Gibson (The Irish Rovers); Joy Metcalfe (gala, gala, gala), radio; Peter Ralston (Pete’s Place on BCTV), TV; Jack Wasserman, newspaper, radio and television; Harold Brown for music; Maria Lewis for dance; and Barney O’Sullivan for his theatre work. To date  almost 300 talented individuals have been honored by the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Carole and I just returned from Las Vegas.  While there we had dinner with Joe Esposito, Elvis’ best friend and best man at his  wedding. Joe is one of the most engaging people in show business. We were guests of Howard Blank, vice president of media and entertainment for Great Canadian Gaming. Howard was being married to the lovely Casiana and the ceremony was wonderful. It was held under a  concrete gazebo by the pool at Caesar’s Palace. His reception was held in a beautiful suite in the hotel. Howard’s friends and family attended, and guests included Global TV’s Squire Barnes, Bruce Allen and a host of Vancouver personalities.

Carole and I took in Elton John‘s last show at the Colosseum Theatre, which  was built for Celine Dion. Elton’s final appearance at the venue and was special, but the entertainment highlight  for me was The Jersey Boys, the life, times and music of Frankie Valli  and the Four Seasons.  This was the Broadway Tony award winner in all its glory: a fast paced show, a great story and so  many great hits. You forget just how many hit songs the group had  over the decades.

It is striking to see how the recession has  affected the town.  It is reported that 10,000 people a month leave the city because of lack of work. House prices are half what they were a year ago  and the strip is busy but not like it has been for the last decade. There are deals everywhere.

Just before leaving Vancouver it was my pleasure to interview UB40. I finally found out where the name came from: when the  band started out they were unemployed in Manchester, England. At the  unemployment office the form you fill out to receive benefits is form UB40 (Unemployment Benefits form 40). This is a great reggae group and the music had us up dancing at the Red Robinson Show Theatre.  They just released their new album titled 24/7 which translates as  their 24th album… released in 2007. The package was held up until December of last year.  Next time you hear they are in town be sure to attend.

Another interview in April with three outstanding and talented men, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer. They have been friends for 30 years. Christopher’s directing  credits include satirical films such as Best In Show and The Mighty Wind. Michael will most likely be remembered for his role in the television series Laverne and Shirley, but there are many dimensions to this actor. Who can forget his part in the movie This Is Spinal Tap? The third member of the trio, Harry Shearer, trained as a cartoon voice under his mentor Mel Blanc. Harry has acted in many movies but can be heard as many different characters in the series The Simpsons. The trio was in town for the kick off of their 30 city Unwigged and Unplugged tour.  They chose Vancouver because they are familiar with our city, having performed in many  movies and television series in our town. Three talented and versatile performers and it was an honor to spend a half  hour with them. They performed at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts.

A final note: After years of living in Deep Cove, Carole and I sold our home and moved downtown to a condo. In the process I gave up my lifetime collection of LP and 45 RPM records. When it came  to my complete Elvis collection I decided that Bruce Allen should have it. I sold it to him because to him they are more than vinyl. Bruce believed that the collection should be seen and not buried in  boxes, so he has employed the Broco Glass people to install an 80 foot wall with rails to display the best LP and 45 RPM picture  sleeve discs of the King of Rock and Roll. It is a sight to see.

Until next time.. keep in touch.