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New Petula Clark Musical From Bruce Vilanch Could Be Headed to Broadway

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

New Petula Clark Musical From Bruce Vilanch Could Be Headed to Broadway
02/02/2017 03:56 am ET | Updated 6 days ago
By Pollo Del Mar


From penning witty zingers for the Tony Awards to hosting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraisers, Bruce Vilanch is no stranger to the New York theatre community. In 2005, Vilanch even starred as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. When the Hollywood funnyman returns to Broadway, though, he hopes it’s as writer of the next great jukebox musical.

“Think Mamma Mia!said Vilanch when describing his new musical Sign of the Times. “In fact, please think Mamma Mia! — because Mamma Mia! ran only 12 years, so please think of that!”


Bruce Vilanch has penned a new musical! The hysterical out comic says Sign of the Times, featuring the music of Grammy-winner Petula Clark, could be Broadway-bound soon.

Like other “jukebox musicals” — productions such as Jersey Boys and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical — Sign of the Times utilizes hit pop songs rather than an original score. In this case, the music of Grammy Award-winning, ‘60s British pop icon Petula Clark “and other hit-makers of the day” takes center stage.

“When I was in college, and I was hearing Petula’s music, every time I would hear one of her songs, I’d say, ‘What show is that from?’” the comedian shared during an interview on Party Foul Radio with Pollo & Pearl. “They all sounded so theatrical, because they had big orchestras behind them.”

Vilanch recalled a similar feeling when listening to ABBA years later, he told Podomatic’s No. 1-ranked LGBT podcast. Therefore it was not surprising, he said, when the quartet’s catalogue later became the foundation for the wildly successful Broadway hit Mamma Mia!

“They had these big, Broadway pop arrangements behind everything,” said Vilanch of ABBA, noting that, like the Swedish super-group, Clark’s music also “lends itself very well to a Broadway show.” He said: “It always had that feel from the beginning.”


Having penned three of her stage shows, Bruce Vilanch has worked with legendary Bette Midler for 47 years. “Which is difficult, because she’s only 32,” the comedian quips, “i’m contractually obligated to say that.”

A six-time Emmy Award-winner, Vilanch has supplied jokes to a veritable Hollywood who’s who, was the quirky center square for four seasons of Hollywood Squares, a long-time reporter and columnist for The Advocate and even cowrote Eartha Kitt’s campy 1980s hit “I Need a Man.” A featured writer on almost every major televised awards broadcast, he’s served as head writer for the annual Academy Awards since 2010.

The hilarious blond – equally known for his inimitable appearance – is far more than champion of the one-liner though. He’s written successful stage productions stretching back more than four decades.

Vilanch cowrote Bette Midler’s 1974 Broadway show Clams on a Half Shell and later inked her 1980 epic Divine Madness. The Divine Miss M again teamed with The Divine Miss V for The Showgirl Must Go On, Midler’s 2008 residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Vilanch forged a similarly long-standing relationship with Diana Ross. After befriending the MoTown legend on the set of Mahogany, in which he had a bit part, he wrote An Evening with Diana Ross. The show played Vegas, Broadway and was later turned into a television special.


In 2005, Bruce Vilanch starred as “Edna Turnblad” in the Broadway production of Hairspray.

When approached by Richard Robins — “a big real estate guy in Chicago,” who purchased Clark’s musical catalogue — to work on Sign of the Times, Vilanch was “immediately interested.” What emerged is the tale of Cindy, a young woman who moves to New York City in 1965 and (according to production notes) discovers “unexpected friends, lovers, careers, and conflicts are all a subway ride away.”

Based on an original story by Robins, and written by Vilanch, Sign of the Times features Clark’s biggest hits including No. 1 single “Downtown,” “I Know a Place” and, of course, the song from which the production draws its name. Also included are smashes from contemporaries Leslie Gore (“You Don’t Own Me”), Nancy Sinatra (“These Boots Are Made for Walking”), Dusty Springfield (“I Only Want to Be With You”) and more.

After debuting last summer with a successful five-week run at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, Vilanch says it could be only a matter of time before New York calls. To gain perspective on the process, he turned to modern musical theatre genius and Tony-winning Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda (who Vilanch calls “Mr. Hamilton”).

“He said Hamilton took seven years; everything takes seven years,” shared Vilanch, noting Sign of the Times is now in its third year.

“Legitimate theatre, on the Broadway end, is like movies these days,” Vilanch concluded, “Things happen years down the pipeline. Hopefully the next year or so, it’ll end up on Broadway. We’re working our way there!”

LISTEN: Bruce Vilanch talks Sign of the Times, Personal Stories About Diana Ross, Bette Midler & More

7 Reasons Why “Donny & Marie” Ruled the ’70s

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

7 Reasons Why “Donny & Marie” Ruled the ’70s
The “Donny & Marie” show debuted on January 23, 1976. To celebrate its 40th anniversary this week, here’s a look back at the iconic 70s TV show and its show-stopping success.

Family act Marie and Donny Osmond took primetime television by storm when “Donny & Marie” premiered on January 23, 1976. (Photo: ©ABC/Photofest)
Happy Anniversary, Donny & Marie! Can you believe it’s been 40 years since the variety program turned Friday nights into must-see-TV? Its debut in 1976 took primetime by storm, singing and dancing its way into television history with a jaw-dropping 14 million viewers a week.?? It may be hard to count all the ways Donny & Marie was such a show-stopping success – but here are our 7 Reasons ‘Donny and Marie’ Ruled the ’70s:

She Was a Little Bit Country, He Was a Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Fourteen-year-old Marie Osmond reached the top of the charts with her country hit “Paper Roses” while Donny was busy rocking out with their brothers – and when the two co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show, their creative chemistry was so undeniable that execs at ABC gave them their own show. America tuned in each week to watch the charming siblings butt heads, trade lighthearted barbs and insults and needle each other as only brothers and sisters can do. Yeah, “A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll” wasn’t just the show’s opening song – it was a way of life for the duo.

Those Big Musical Numbers Were Electrifying

Huge musical productions were a hallmark of the hit variety show, with big brother and little sis helming some of the biggest and glitziest dance numbers on television. Joining the choreography team was 1960 Olympic Pairs Figure Skating Gold Medalist Robert Paul, who struck gold again with the show’s elaborate skating routines. Hey, it didn’t matter if you were too cool for school – there was just no denying that those ice-skating numbers were ice-HOT!

The Comedy Was Fun Schlock?

With comedy luminaries like Bruce Vilanch on the writing staff, is it any surprise that laughs ran rampant on the show? Sure, the sketches were jam-packed with groan-worthy puns and wholesome parodies (and was even described by critics as syrupy saccharine) – but it was all in good, family fun. Donny himself has admitted that the bits were corny, but added that when he watches it, “I catch myself smiling” and points out “That’s tacky, but I’m still smiling, you know?” Well, we all were, Donny!

The Costumes Were Out of Control

They say image is everything – and a big part of Donny & Marie was its flashy, flamboyant getups. In fact, the production recruited one of the biggest names in fashion, nine-time Emmy winner and three-time Oscar nominee Bob Mackie, who’s dressed entertainment legends such as Joan Rivers, Cher, RuPaul, and Diana Ross. With the way Mackie kept Marie sparkling in some of the most extravagant fashions of the day, it’s no wonder he earned the nickname “Sultan of Sequins”!


Everyone Who Was Anyone Was On the Show

With the huge ratings Donny & Marie was pulling in each week, every celeb of the day clamored to get on the hit show for maximum exposure – that’s why when audiences tuned in, they’d catch some of the decade’s biggest movers and bellbottom shakers! Just a handful of their superstar guests included comedians Bob Hope, George Burns, Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, Nipsey Russell; and musical guests Paul Anka, Tina Turner, Chubby Checker, Sonny and Cher, and Chuck Berry. If you were hot in the ’70s, you played onstage with Donny and Marie!

?Donny Was a Total Dreamboat

With a sizzling solo career under his belt and a hit network show with sister Marie, Donny Osmond catapulted to certifiable pop idol status. That’s right, long before #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob, the teen was competing with David Cassidy for the title of biggest heartthrob. So Donny-crazy was his female fan base, in fact, that some speculate that when Donny began dating his future wife Debbie, it spelled the beginning of the end for the show. Sorry, ladies, he’s still taken!

THIS . . .


Hey Chicago! Scrooge & Marley Advance Ticket Sales Available Now!

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Before our tickets go on sale to the public, we wanted you to have the first chance to purchase them for our special launch of the Scrooge & Marley movie in Chicago! There are only 50 GOLD level tickets available and only 200 SILVER level. We will sell out of these levels quickly. See below for how to order tickets.

Please also share with friends and family, so they can purchase tickets before they sell out.
Thank you

Tracy Baim

Invite you to the Chicago premiere of a Christmas classic for all of our families

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012
Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport

Featuring the cast, directors, writers, and others behind this new independent movie shot in Chicago.

Meet actors David Pevsner, Rusty Schwimmer, Bruce Vilanch, Megan Cavanagh, David Moretti, Ronnie Kroell, Becca Kaufman, Richard Ganoung, JoJo Baby and many more.

5-6:30 p.m. VIP pre-reception
Freda’s Restaurant, 3755 N. Southport

6:30 p.m.: Red Carpet at the Music Box

7 p.m.: Scrooge & Marley Premiere

8:30 p.m.: Q&A at the Music Box

9-10:30 p.m.: After-Party
D’Agostino’s Restaurant
1351 W. Addison (at Southport)

Ticket prices:
GOLD: $250 for all of the events
SILVER: $125 for Movie plus After-Party
BRONZE: $12 for Movie Only

First: RSVP your ticket order to: Tracy Baim,

Next: Send checks payable to Sam I Am Films, LLC and mail to:
Tracy Baim, 1900 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616

Questions? Call 773-387-2394

Directed by: Richard Knight, Jr. and Peter Neville
Written by: Ellen Stoneking, Richard Knight, Jr. and the late Timothy Imse
Produced by: Tracy Baim and David Strzepek
Narrated by: Judith Light

Tim Kazurinsky also stars but is unable to make this screening

For more details see:

Bruce Vilanch Makes Special Appearance At International Mr. Leather 2012

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Chicago Pride
Woody Woodruff named International Mr. Leather 2012
by News Staff
Sun. May 27, 2012

Chicago, IL — Woody Woodruff, Mr. Michigan Leather 2012, was named International Mr. Leather at the 34th annual IML Competition Sunday night in Chicago.

Woody Woodruff (center) wins IML 2012
credit :: twitter feed @imlchicago

Over 2,000 leather enthusiasts packed the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago for Sunday’s competition. The opening featured a performance of “The Masochism Tango” by Sharon McNight.

Founder and Executive Producer Chuck Renslow welcomed the crowd, followed by a moving video tribute to Roger “RJ” Chaffin, a past coordinator of IML who passed away suddenly last June at the age of 59.

The evening also included a speech from Rick Storer of Chicago’s Leather Archives and Museum, a special guest appearance by Bruce Vilanch and a number of performances by McNight, who received a standing ovation.

Renslow commanded the envelope as he announced Kevin Jordan, Mr. DC Eagle 2012, as Second runner-up, A.C. Demidont, Mr. Eagle New York 2012, as the First runner-up and then Renslow named Woody Woodruff as International Mr. Leather 2012.

Woodruff bested a field of 20 finalists, from across the U.S. and around the world. Participants were judged on stage presence and personality (Pecs and Personality), leather image, presentation skills, and physical appearance.

Nick Elliot from Portland, OR was named International Mr. Bootblack 2012. Boy Dave of Charlotte, NC was named Second runner-up and Bootblack Mike from Minneapolis, MN was First runner up in the Bootblack competition.

The judges for the competition were International Mr. Leather 2011 Eric Guttierez (Paris, France), Stephen Blackwell (Palm Springs, CA), Brian Conway (Denver, CO), Jaak Evert (Estonia), Dave Hughes (New York, NY), Steve Ranger (Washington, D.C.), Ira C. Smith (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Dave Watt (Michigan), and Andrea Zanin (Toronto, Canada).

IML began in 1979 when about 400 gay leathermen gathered in Chicago. Today thousands gather in the Windy City over Memorial Day Weekend for what has become an annual tradition for the leather community.

Bruce Vilanch Helps Lily Tomlin Celebrate Broadcast Honor

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Studio City Patch
Lily Tomlin Receives Broadcast Honor at Sportsmen’s Lodge
February 28, 2012

Sportsmen’s Lodge hosted Lily Tomlin’s honor with locals Allee Willis, Bruce Vilanch, Jo Anne Worley, Gary Owens and others.

Pacific Pioneer Broadcaster President Sam Lovullo presented Lily Tomlin with the coveted Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award at a well-attended celebrity luncheon last week.

Lily was born in Detroit, Michigan, and over the years she made people laugh with her humorous characters from the child Edith Ann to the snarky telephone operator Ernestine. Some of these wacky characters were showcased on the hit comedy series Laugh-In, which ran from 1969 to 1973. Her work on the series catapulted her to stardom. She went on to appear in dramatic and comedic films, such as “Nashville” (1975), directed by Robert Altman; the working women’s revenge comedy “Nine to Five” (1980), with Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda; and “All of Me” (1984), with Steve Martin.

Since that time, Lily has continued to mix the serious and the humorous, appearing on such shows asFrasier, Homicide: Life on the Street, Will & Grace, and The West Wing. She has also lent her voice to several projects, including a guest vocal appearance on The Simpsons and as the character Mommo in 2006’s animated feature film “The Ant Bully.” She reunited with director Robert Altman for his last film, “A Prairie Home Companion” (2006), and is slated to appear in several upcoming films, including “The Walker” with Woody Harrelson.

Lily Tomlin has received numerous awards, including: four primetime Emmys; a special 1977 Tony when she was appearing in her one woman Broadway show, “Appearing Nitely;” a second Tony as Best Actress, two Drama Desk Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her one woman performance in Jane Wagner’s “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe;” a CableACE Award for Executive Producing the film adaptation of “The Search;” a Grammy Award for her comedy album, “This is a Recording” (a collection of Ernestine the Telephone Operator routines) as well as nominations for her subsequent albums “Modern Scream, And That’s the Truth,” and “On Stage;” and two Peabody Awards — the first for the ABC television special, “Edith Ann’s Christmas: Just Say Noël” and the second for narrating and executive producing the HBO film, “The Celluloid Closet.”

In 1992, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award. Lily was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2003 she was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Also in 2003, she was recognized again by Women in Film with the Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television. In March 2009, Lily received Fenway Health’s Dr. Susan M. Love Award for her contributions to women’s health.

Bruce Vilanch Tops List Of Comedy Queen’s Date For Royal Wedding

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

This is a portrait of Kristen Wiig wearing a p...

Bridesmaids’ love Bruce Vilanch— but royal date is just a dream…
By Megan Johnson | Thursday, April 21, 2011 | | The Inside Track

A couple of comedy queens weighed in on the Royal Wedding yesterday while passing through town.

“Bridesmaids” stars Kristen Wiig and Wendi McLendon Covey haven’t been invited to next week’s wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, but that didn’t stop the girls from weighing in on whom they would choose for their plus-one if an invite miraculously appeared.

“Bruce Vilanch,” the “Saturday Night Live” funnygal told the Track.

As in the outlandish, hirsute comedy writer and “Hollywood Squares” square???

“I think he’d make out with me,” she joked.

“If you’re lucky! He’s so presentational,” Wendi chimed in. “I would bring my husband, because no one chicken dances like him,” the former “Reno 911!” star said. “He’s fun on the dance floor. He’s 6-foot-7 and knows how to move. That’s a whole lotta limbs.”

But the box office “Bridemaids” weren’t exactly sold on the idea of waking up at 4 a.m. to see the British lovebirds tie the knot.

“I think I’m gonna be on a plane. I think we’re doing press junkets that day. But we sooooo would watch it,” said the sarcastic Wiig, who remembered her mother rousting her out of bed early to watch William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, tie the knot back in 1981.

“Yeah, I’ll DVR it,” Wendi agreed jokingly.

Why aren’t we convinced???