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Posts Tagged ‘Bette Midler’

Bruceback August 16, 1991: Bruce Goes It Alone

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

Daily Herald Suburban Chicago
August 16, 1991

3-25-2012 2-13-20 PM

Bruce Vilanch, the so-called “Comedian for the Stars” who cut his dramatic teeth at Ohio State University and later in Chicago before making the trek to the coast, will bring his stand-up act to Zanies in Mount Prospect Thursday through Aug. 24.

Primarily a comedy writer and a lyricist. Vilanch has six Emmys under his substantial belt and has written for such heavyweights as Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin. Billy Crystal, Burt Reynolds and Whoopi Goldberg.

Plus, he’s penned gags for lots of awards shows, such as the Oscars, the Emmys, the People’s Choice awards and the American Comedy awards.

But can he cut it out there all by himself with just the microphone and his wits?

‘Sophie Mania’ Returns

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

The Huffington Post
‘Sophie Mania’ Returns
By Katherine Kramer
June 30, 2015


I had the rare pleasure of seeing The Outrageous Sophie Tucker, a new documentary feature currently playing in select theaters. It opened the recent 2015 Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival, and is a genuine “rags to riches” show business story that will inspire today’s performers and certainly empower women of all ages, shapes and sizes. The film is directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker William Gazecki, and written and produced by Susan and Lloyd Ecker. “The Last Of The Red-Hot Mamas” Sophie Tucker was known as the “female Al Jolson” and she paved the way for such icons as Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Midler, Cher, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, even Amy Schumer.

The Eckers have been working on this in-depth documentary for eight years including immersing themselves in Tucker’s personal scrapbooks, interviewing numerous family, friends and show business personalities. Some of the on-camera interviews include Tony Bennett, Barbara Walters, Bruce Vilanch, Michael Feinstein, Carol Channing, narrated by David Hyde Pierce. Sophie Tucker was a pioneer, a woman ahead of her time as an entertainer, and a leader in Social Media. From 1906 through the beginning of television, her brash, bawdy style prevailed as a “star” attraction.

I spoke to the Eckers about their passion for getting Sophie’s story on screen, and they plan both a Broadway musical and feature film about The Outrageous Sophie Tucker. Is Sophie still relevant today? “Sophie represented that strong personable female voice that you see reincarnated today in performers such as Lady Gaga and Amy Schumer,” Lloyd Ecker explained. “Bette Midler started doing Sophie routines in her one-woman-shows which she still performs to this day, and Bette named her daughter Sophie. And Mae West was an early mentee of Mae West. Without Sophie there would not have been Mae West saying “Come up and see me sometime.” She was also a mentor to the young Judy Garland. According to Susan Ecker, “Sophie was the Forrest Gump of the first half of the 1900’s. She was close with U.S. Presidents, King George VI,young Queen Elizabeth, Charlie Chaplin, J.Edgar Hoover, Al Jolson, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and every other notable of her era.”

Was she a feminist? “Sophie definitely believed a woman should receive equal pay to a man,” Lloyd Ecker stated. “When the suffragette movement came about, first she was against it, when it was in vogue, she was for it. Sophie Tucker fought for herself, created an environment and image, and rode the trends. But all she ever wanted was equal pay to a man.”

She sang “Some of These Days” and “After You’ve Gone” and she interpreted sex and innuendo in a way no woman had before her. Even though she was overweight, she stated boldly, “This is me. I’m comfortable in my own skin.” And if she were alive today, you can bet she’d be the Queen of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vines, Periscope and all forms of social media.

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker is an intriguing documentary feature that celebrated an original and lets us in on the creation of a Show Business Pioneer’s life and struggles.

Annaleigh Ashford, Bruce Vilanch & More Set for VILLAIN: DEBLANKS at Rockwell Table & Stage, 7/27

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Broadway World
Annaleigh Ashford, Bruce Vilanch & More Set for VILLAIN: DEBLANKS at Rockwell Table & Stage, 7/27
June 15, 2015


(VERB)____ until your sides hurt on Monday, July 27 at The Rockwell Table & Stage, where Villain: DeBlanks will be performed to benefit the ASPCA.

Starring six-time Emmy-winner Bruce Vilanch (Get Bruce!, “Hollywood Squares“), stunningly prolific Missi Pyle (Gone Girl, The Artist), three-time Tony-nominee Kevin Chamberlin(Disney’s “Jessie”), Tony-winner Annaleigh Ashford (“Masters of Sex,” Kinky Boots), omni-present voice artist/actor Robin Atkin Downes (How to Train Your Dragon, “The Strain”), and Tony-winner Daisy Eagan (The Secret Garden, Sunday Brunch of Shame), proceeds will benefit the ASPCA.

A Time Out NY Critics’ Pick written by Billy Mitchell, Villain: DeBlanks is an uproarious improvisational comedy where the cast says words you put in their mouths! The audience provides nouns, adjectives, and verbs (the wilder, the better), and the actors provide the laughs—uncensored and unrehearsed—as they enact the story of Philip DeBlanks’ untimely demise. It’s “Clue” meets adult “Mad Libs,” performed by some of the funniest people in show biz. Like a ride to summer camp in the back of a station wagon, this hilarious performance will be ridiculously one-of-a-kind.

Villain: DeBlanks benefit for ASPCA will play The Rockwell Table & Stage (1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA) on Monday, July 27. Show: 8pm. Cover charge is $10.00-$25.00 and there is a 2-item minimum per person.

For tickets & information, call 323.669.2550 ext. 20, or visit:

Bruce Vilanch appears at Club Cafe this Saturday, August 16th.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Bruce Vilanch at Club Cafe on Saturday
Posted on August 11, 2014

4-27-2013 3-54-35 AM

Bruce Vilanch appears at Club Cafe this Saturday, August 16th.

If you are looking for a good night of laughs, I would assume this is as close to a sure thing as one can get.

Vilanch is wickedly funny, and I assume when in a room of mostly gay men his stories will make for an evening you won’t soon forget.

If you haven’t made plans already you may want to consider checking out this show.  Get your tickets ahead of time since the show is likely to sell out.  Get your tickets online from Club Cafe’s website here.

Video: Chris DeRose talks one-on-one with comedian Bruce Vilanch

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Chris DeRose talks one-on-one with comedian Bruce Vilanch about his new movie ‘Scrooge & Marley’, as well as the comedy business and his Twitter feud with James Franco.

Hollywood Chicago Interviews Bruce Vilanch

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Interviews: Red Carpet Premiere of New Christmas Film, ‘Scrooge & Marley’
Dec 3, 2012

CHICAGO – Bring up the immortal classic “A Christmas Carol,” by author Charles Dickens, then bring up how many film and TV versions have been done using its basic story. After a half hour of listing every conceivable production, a gay version won’t be found. “Scrooge & Marley” is the new film that takes care of that category. The premiere was last week in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre.

Bruce Vilanch, Portrays Fezziwig in “Scrooge & Marley

Bruce Vilanch is a Hollywood legend, a comedy writer known for working up material backstage at the Academy Awards, and developing jokes for Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Billy Crystal, Roseanne Barr and Robin Williams. He also spent four years on “Hollywood Squares” and wrote/performed a one-man show, “Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous.” You seem like you were born to play a party coordinator like Fezziwig. What impresses you about his character in the source novel that you wanted to make sure was in this version of the story?

Bruce Vilanch: I viewed him as being crazy, over-the-top and flamboyant, at least as far as Dickens could go with that character back then, and it seemed to coincide with what the writers did in this movie. My Fezziwig spends a lot of time in the 1970s, when it seemed like everyone was having a party, and he was the party provider. [laughs] It was a nice match. Which line or piece of written material first got you noticed as the joke writer that eventually got you backstage at the Academy Awards?

Vilanch: I started writing with Bette Midler, having met her in Chicago at Mr. Kelly’s nightclub, and my reputation grew as she started doing more. I don’t know if it was one single line, but I remember I sold Johnny Carson a one-liner a long time ago. There was a football player named Lance Rentzel in the 1970s, and he was arrested for exposing himself. So the joke was ‘it was cold today…how cold was it?…it was so cold that Lance Rentzel stopped me on the street and just described himself to me.’ It got me a lot of notice, and I started writing more jokes for him and other people. So I’ll use that line as a first. What was the most controversial line you’ve ever written, who said it and what was the circumstance and setting?

Vilanch: I can’t think about the specific line, but I was involved when Ted Danzig did blackface at Whoopi Goldberg’s Friars Club roast. It was Whoopi’s idea, and Ted went along with it because their relationship at the time was ending, and they both thought it would be a good way to put a period on it. It was wildly controversial. Finally, if you had to write a saying on one of your famous tee-shirts that best describes this film, what would that line be?

Vilanch: We put the ‘dick’ back in Dickens. [laughs]