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Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Police Department’

TV Writer Bruce Vilanch Tells Us How He Slipped Sly Gay Jokes Past the Censors

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Unicorn Booty
TV Writer Bruce Vilanch Tells Us How He Slipped Sly Gay Jokes Past the Censors
May 7, 2017
By Matt Baume
Regular Contributor

Bette Midler and Bruce Vilanch

Bruce Vilanch was toiling away in a perfectly adequate newspaper job in Chicago when Bette Midler came to town. She wasn’t quite famous at that point — an appearance on Broadway and some bathhouse concerts were her credits — but Bruce went to check out her show. Afterwards, he wrote a glowing review, and she called to thank him.

“You should talk more,” he told her.

“You got any good lines?” she asked. He did, and she hired him.

Forty years later, Bruce’s work has touched just about everyone in America. He’s written some of the most famous variety shows ever broadcast, crafted jokes for the Oscars and Emmys and Tonys for decades, and has appeared on everything from RuPaul’s Drag Race to Hollywood Squares to The Simpsons.

I interviewed Bruce Vilanch on my podcast The Sewers of Paris, where every week I talk to gay men about the entertainment that changed their lives. For Bruce, an important early influence were big movie and stage extravaganzas like The Greatest Show on Earth and a Carol Channing flop called The Vamp.

“I taught myself to read with the movie ads,” he recalled. He was obsessed with showbiz from an early age, though his parents tried to steer him toward more reliable work as a doctor or lawyer. They’d take him to films set in courtrooms and point out that attorneys get to perform; but he knew he needed a different kind of limelight.

“I used to have a routine in a hula skirt that was embarrassing to everyone,” he said. “I would have taken a job on the hood of your car, jiggling as you drove.”

An adventurous aunt told him stories of the world and accompanied him on trips into Manhattan. He attempted a career on stage, but discovered that his look and his skills were a little too idiosyncratic. So he went into journalism, and that’s where he had his big break when he wrote about Bette Midler.

“She found the beauty in trash,” he said of her at the time. She’d come out on stage looking a little disheveled and unpredictable, though “the talent was there.” Audiences loved it, particularly when she was on tour and told jokes about local landmarks and figures. The secret of those jokes was that Bruce would leverage his journalism connections to write them, calling colleagues at local papers to find out what the big scandals were before Bette arrived in town.

Eventually, he made his way to Los Angeles, where he’d get his start writing variety shows for Cher, the Brady Bunch, and the Manhattan Transfer. When he could, he’d slip sly queer references into the shows, though they always had to be coded.

“Did you feel exasperated that you couldn’t say gay?” I asked him during our chat.


“It was challenging,” he replied. “It wasn’t frustrating because it hadn’t been done. … That was a couple years off.”

Nevertheless, he still delighted in the sly gay references he was able to place in shows like Hollywood Squares. “It was ‘inside,’ we called it,” he said. “The ones who get it will laugh and the ones who don’t will say ‘what was that?’”

It’s a vastly different world now, of course. But the freedom that gay writers and comedians now have on television is only possible because of pioneers like Bruce.

Listen to the full interview with Bruce below or at SewersOfParis.com.

Kritzerland Announces THE APRIL FOOLS Concert with special guest, Bruce Vilanch

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Broadway World
Kritzerland Announces THE APRIL FOOLS Concert
by BWW News Desk Mar. 17, 2017

4-27-2013 3-29-19 AM

Kritzerland has announced a new concert event coming on Sunday, April 2, 2017 entitled “The April Fools.” This entertaining evening will take place at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal in North Hollywood, California.

For the 76th Kritzerland show, we have our annual wild and wacky April Fools show, always a favorite for us at Kritzerland. You can always expect the unexpected – you’ll get some Spring songs, some April songs, and some Foolish and crazy songs – as always, you’ll know some and many you won’t know at all – for this iteration, we have songs from several flop musicals we all know and love, including Carmelina, Bring Back Birdie, We Take the Town, Minsky’s, and others, while we also have songs from Promises, Promises, Hallelujah, Baby, Annie, Newsies, as well as some classic pop standards. We’ve assembled a merry and fun cast for this one as well as our hilarious guest star, Bruce Vilanch and we can only say that what he’s doing in this show you will not want to miss. So, come join us in the merriment and mirth and tuneful evening we have in store. Kritzerland is produced and hosted by Bruce Kimmel and co-produced by Doug Haverty.

Included in the line-up are:

Will Collyer [Regional: Breaking Through (Smith) Pasadena Playhouse; Parade Mark Taper Forum; Carousel (Enoch Snow, Jr) Hwd. Bowl, Local: MTG, WCE, Boston Court, Odyssey]
Jennifer Foster [Off B’way: If There Is … ; Regional: Merrily We Roll Along, Hair, Carrie: The Killer Musical; TV: Looking, Glee; Film: Looking; Disney: Frozen: Live at the Hyperion]
Hadley Belle Miller [Voice, Lucy van Pelt, Peanuts Movie; National Tour: Cathy Rigby Is Peter Pan (Michael); (www.hadleybellemiller.com)]
Kerry O’Malley [B’way: Into the Woods (Baker’s Wife), White Christmas (Betty), Billy Elliot (Mum), Annie Get Your Gun (Dolly), On a Clear Day (Sharone); TV: Shameless, Boardwalk Empire, etc.]Jenna Lea Rosen [Regional: Parade, Ovation Award 3DT; TV: Sofia the First (Shelly, Clio, Hildegard), Elena of Avalor (Ciela) Disney Jr. series.]
Hayley Shukiar [Meet Me In St. Louis (Tootie); Peter Pan (Wendy); Little Mermaid (Ursula); Willy Wonka (Veruca Salt) Cabrillo; Studio singer for Hal Leonard Publishing.]
NICK TUBBS [Regional: Assassins (Balladeer), Forever Plaid (Jinx), Les Miserables (Enjolras) The Full Monty (Malcolm); Other: Princess Cruises, Kit and The Kats]
Robert Yacko [Do I Hear a Waltz? (Renato) MTG; Addams Family (Mal) 3-D; Parade (Dorsey) Mark Taper, Company (Paul) w/ Carol Burnett, Sunday in the Park with George (George) LA Premiere]

Bruce Vilanch (Special Guest) [B’way: Hairspray (Edna); Off B’Way: Bruce Vilanch: Almost Famous; Film: Mahogany; TV: Hollywood Squares, The Simpsons, The Oscars (2 Emmys/Writing)]

RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED!

IMPORTANT RESERVATION INFORMATION!

The only way to reserve is via Brown Paper Tickets! It’s easy! Go to sterlingsupstairs040217.brownpapertickets.com.

Dinner reservations: DOORS OPEN 5:30pm. SHOW STARTS 7:00pm

Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal is located at 5303 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601

Fans, Family and Friends Will Say Good-Bye At Florence Henderson’s Memorial

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Times Square Chronicles
Fans Family and Friends Will Say Good-Bye At Florence Henderson’s Memorial
By SUZANNA BOWLING
FEBRUARY 16, 2017

2017-02-17_6-00-38

Friends and family will remember Florence Henderson on Tuesday, February 21st at 1:30 PM at the Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street to celebrate the treasured star.

Alan Cumming, Michael Feinstein, Judy Gold, Whoopi Goldberg, Isabel Leonard, Chita Rivera, James Snyder, Bruce Vilanch and Barry Williams will share their memories honor Florence.

The memorial event is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis with doors opening at 1:20 PM.

Florence arrived in New York at the age of 17 to attend the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Within a year of attending the Academy, Broadway beckoned with roles in Oklahoma, Fanny, The Sound of Music, South Pacific and The King and I, among others.

TV called and Florence accepted the job as the “Today Show” Girl. She perform live on shows like “Ed Sullivan,” the “Bell Television Hour” and others. She won our hearts as Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch.”

Florence starred in major theatrical productions, headline in Las Vegas and perform live at major venues around the country, including her autobiographical one-woman show All the Lives of Me.

In 2011, Florence released her memoir Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to Lovely Lady and Beyond (Center Street/Hachette Book Group). The autobiography spent time on the New York Times Bestseller List. In 2003, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Florence is survived by her four children, five grandchildren, one brother and two sisters.