Talking With Jerry Lewis – September 25, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Jerry Lewis Oscar

This week, Ira spoke with Jerry Lewis, This is part one. To listen to the interview click below.

Entertainment legend and Academy Award® winner Jerry Lewis will be performing “An Evening with Jerry Lewis” at the Smith Center on Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. It’s a blend of stand-up comedy, gags, trademark vignettes, songs, and big-screen video montages of the Academy Award winner’s most memorable and hilarious feature film moments.

Some highlights of Lewis’ long and successful career:

Jerry Lewis was born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, New Jersey. His parents, Rae and Danny Lewis, were professionals in the entertainment world. Jerry’s father was the “total entertainer,” his mother played piano at New York City radio station WOR, made musical arrangements, and was her husband’s musical director.

When only five years old Jerry made his debut in New York’s Borscht Circuit singing “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” By the time he was fifteen, he had perfected a comic routine, miming and silently mouthing lyrics of operatic and popular songs to a phonograph located off-stage. This was known as his “Record Act”.

On July 25, 1946, Jerry began a show business partnership with Dean Martin, an association that would soon skyrocket both to fame. It started when Jerry was performing at the 500 Club in Atlantic City and one of the other entertainers quit suddenly. Lewis, who had worked with Martin at the Glass Hat in New York City, suggested Dean as a replacement. At first they worked separately, but then ad-libbed together, improvising insults and jokes, squirting seltzer water, hurling bunches of celery and exuding general zaniness. In less than eighteen weeks their salaries soared from $250.00 a week to $5,000.00.

When the motion picture producer Hal Wallis watched the two perform at the Copacabana in New York City, he offered them a contract with Paramount Pictures. Of their first film, “My Friend Irma” (1949), Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote: “We could go along with the laughs which were fetched by a new mad comedian, Jerry Lewis by name. This freakishly built and acting young man, who has been seen in nightclubs hereabouts with a collar-ad partner, Dean Martin, has a genuine comic quality. The swift eccentricity of his movements, the harrowing features of his face, and the squeak of his vocal protestations… have flair. His idiocy constitutes the burlesque of an idiot, which is something else again. He’s the funniest thing in the picture”.

For ten years Martin and Lewis sandwiched sixteen money making films between nightclub engagements, personal appearances, recording sessions, radio shows, and television bookings. Their last film together was “Hollywood or Bust” (1956). On July 25th of that year the two made their last nightclub appearance together at the Copacabana, exactly ten years to the day since they became a team.

From then on, Jerry Lewis was constantly on the move. His film career skyrocketed, and he recorded several records and albums; one of them “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody”, released by Decca Records, has sold nearly four million copies to date. With increased confidence, Lewis plunged into screen writing, directing, producing as well as acting. In the spring of 1959, a contract between Paramount Pictures and Jerry Lewis Productions was signed specifying a payment of $10 million plus 60% of the profits for 14 films over a seven year period… at that time the biggest single transaction in film history for the exclusive services of one star.

In 1967 Jerry became a professor at the University of Southern California, where he taught graduate students a course in film direction. “The Total Film-Maker”, based on recordings of 480 hours of his classroom lectures, was edited by Jerry and published by Random House in 1971. The USC library also houses an extensive collection of Jerry’s original documents relating to motion picture production.

Lewis has won the Best Director of the Year award eight times in Europe since 1960; three in France, and one each in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

In September 1976 the United States Senate unanimously adopted a resolution of appreciation to him “For his outstanding contribution in the fight against muscular dystrophy.” In June 1978 the communications industry honored him with the NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives) Award of the Year for his humanitarian efforts in raising funds to combat neuromuscular disease through his annual Labor Day Telethon.

On February 22, 1998 Jerry received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Comedy Awards.

In 1999, Lewis dedicated much of his time to the remakes of his 1960’s classics, “The Bellboy,” “Cinderfella,” “The Errand Boy,” and “The Nutty Professor II,” as well as writing and developing new film and television projects. In September of 1999 he was awarded the “Golden Lion” by the Venice International Film Festival for his lifetime achievements in motion pictures. This was a great honor from the oldest film festival in Europe.

Talking With Norm Clarke and Frank Marino – September 18, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Norm Clarke and Frank Marino

This week, Ira spoke with Norm Clarke and Frank Marino. To listen to the interview click below.

Norm Clarke’s popular “Vegas Confidential” column is featured four days a week in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He regularly breaks news about celebrities or personalities that are reported around the world.

Clarke is a Montana native, whose background includes more than 15 years in Denver as a baseball writer, sports journalist, and man-about-town columnist.

He had a 12-year stint with the Associated Press (with stops in Cincinnati, San Diego and Los Angeles) and has written two books, “1,000 Naked Truths” and “Sinsational Celebrity Tales.”

He will be presenting his quarterly “Conversations With Norm” in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center on Sunday, September 28th at 2 p.m., this time sitting down with Frank Marino, the “Divas Las Vegas” star and the self-proclaimed “Queen of Las Vegas,” who recently celebrated his 25,000th show.

Talking With Kevin Burke – September 11, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Kevin Burke

This week, Ira spoke with Kevin Burke. To listen to the interview click below.

Kevin Burke is the star of “Defending The Caveman at Harrah’s Las Vegas. He’s the Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year, and with more than 3,000 performances, he holds a Guinness World Record for Caveman. The show is presented nightly at 7 p.m. with additional matinees at 4 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays.

The production showcases Burke as a narrator trying to understand the timeless issue between the opposite sexes dating back to the Stone Age. Before the humorous yet sentimental tale found its home in Las Vegas, Burke headlined the show’s national Broadway tour.

Originally from Chicago, Burke has dabbled into acting, playwriting and directing earning him the title of “Entertainer of the Year” by the Annual Meatball Awards. Entertainment runs in Burke’s blood. His grandmother was a vaudeville performer, his grandfather was a standup comedian who toured nationally, and his mother is a singer. Fulfilling his family’s dynasty, Burke caught the acting bug young starring in his high school play “Dracula.”

Burke’s performing career began as a musician touring with numerous bands as a backup drummer. He then earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the Indiana University in Bloomington for acting and directing. Post-grad he put his talent to work playing Pooh in Timberlake Play House’s “Winnie the Pooh.” Burke refined his skills by becoming a certified stage combatant at the Society of American Fight Directors and has also studied physical comedy with the world-famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

Shifting gears, he found his niche in comedy and went on the road performing standup at comedy clubs of all sizes for 15 years. His tour proved successful twofold after meeting his better half, Karen, performing in a comedy club at Raleigh, North Carolina. They have been married for over 14 years and have two children together.

Talking With Beatles Author Chuck Gunderson – September 4, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Chuck Gunderson

This week, Ira spoke with David Osborne. To listen to the interview click below.

Chuck Gunderson, author of “Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966,” was raised in San Diego, California, the site of the Beatles’ eighth stop on the 1965 North American tour.

Gunderson was too young to attend the show, but he fondly recalls his older siblings spinning the records of the Fab Four as he grew up, which perked a life-long love for the band.

He has worked in the outdoor advertising industry most of his life, although his true passion is history. He holds two degrees in history—a B.A. from San Diego State University and an M.A. from the University of San Diego.

Having published a few articles over the years, Gunderson turned his sights to researching and writing this epic two-volume set on the history of the Beatles’ North American tours of 1964 to 1966.

With hundreds of photographs and images of rare memorabilia, it is a definitive reference for what is arguably the most important period in the Beatles’ long and winding career.

Talking With John Thompson (The Great Tomsoni) – August 28, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Johnny Thompson

This week, Ira spoke with John Thompson (The Great Tomsoni). To listen to the interview click below.

John Thompson is a versatile performer with a background of music, magic, comedy and drama. Thompson (The Great Tomsoni) got his start in show business as a musician and musical arranger. He has toured and recorded with “Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats,” “The Harmonica Gang”and “The Harmonica Jazz Quartet.”

Thompson later joined forces with a comedy team with whom he coauthored and co-performed three record-breaking revues for the New York and Chicago Playboy Clubs. It was during this period that he developed his successful comedy magic act, “The Great Tomsoni.” Thompson continued his comedy magic career in Nevada casino venues as a supporting act for such stars as Carol Channing, Eddie Fisher and Ed Ames, the Pointer Sisters, Jose Feliciano, Robert Goulet, Brenda Lee, B.J. Thomas, Vic Damone, and Diahann Carroll.

When wife and partner Pamela Hayes, actress and comedienne, joined the act, the billing became “The Great Tomsoni and Company.” The Great Tomsoni and Company have been the recipients of many awards: Stage Magician of the Year; Society of American Magician’s “Superstar of Magic” award; Academy of Magical Arts’ highest award; the “Performing Fellowship”; Prince Rainer’s “Prix S.B.M.”; and Magiques de Monte Carlo, Europe’s most prestigious magic award.

Talking With Danny Antonino – August 21, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Danny Antonio

This week, Ira spoke with Physical Therapist Danny Antonino. To listen to the interview click below.

Danny Antonino is a physical therapist who works with some of Las Vegas’ top entertainers, athletes, and executives.

Antonino graduated from California State University, Northridge with degrees in Physical Therapy and Exercise Science. With more than 19 years of experience as a physical therapist, he is one of the few in the State of Nevada that is Board Certified in Orthopedics. He is also certified in the McKenzie Method and Graston Technique.

Educationally conscious, he has presented at various state and national physical therapy conferences, participated in a year-long manual therapy course, a three month Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation residency program, more than 60 field continuation courses, and is McKenzie trained as a manual therapist.

As a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Antonino gives back to the community as an adjunct faculty member for the Doctorate Physical Therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the Physical Therapy Assistant program at the College of Southern Nevada. He is a member of the APTA and served as Southern District Chairperson for the Nevada Physical Therapy Association.

Talking With Celebrity Chef Mary Sue Milliken – August 14, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Mary Sue Milliken

This week, Ira spoke with Celebrity Chef Mary Sue Milliken. To listen to the interview click below.

Mary Sue Milliken is co-chef/owner of the popular, critically acclaimed Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, serving upscale, modern Mexican food in a hip, urban cantina setting. She is also co-chef/owner of the gourmet taco truck phenomenon, the Border Grill Truck.

A pioneer of world cuisine since the creation of City Café and CITY Restaurant in Los Angeles in the 1980’s, Mary Sue is a preeminent ambassador of authentic Mexican cuisine, setting the standard for gourmet Mexican fare for over two decades.

Always a trailblazer, Milliken was the first female chef to work at Chicago’s prestigious Le Perroquet in the late 1970’s, going on to train at a Michelin 2-star, female chef owned restaurant in Paris, and later joining a handful of progressive women chefs to found Women Chefs & Restaurateurs.

A business partner with Chef Susan Feniger for more than 25 years, Mary Sue is co-author of five cookbooks, including Cooking with Too Hot Tamales, Mesa Mexicana, and City Cuisine. Mary Sue co-starred along with Susan in 400 episodes of Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” and “Tamales World Tour,” and has appeared as a guest on everything from “Iron Chef America” and “Oprah” to “Good Day LA,” “The Today Show” and most recently competed on season three of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” raising $40,000 for Share Our Strength.

Talking With Michael Monge – August 7, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Michael Monge

This week, Ira spoke with classic vocalist Michael Monge. To listen to the interview click below.

Michael Monge, performing at Encore’s Eastside Lounge, draws inspiration from the musical icons that put the Las Vegas Strip on the map. His vocals reflect the timeless lounge performers who made Las Vegas the entertainment capital of the world.

Monge covers hits from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin (among others) and takes a classic approach on contemporary songs from John Legend, John Mayer and others.

He has played venues throughout New York and the East Coast. “There is something special about performing in a lounge,” said Monge. “There are no barriers or stage to separate you from the audience. It becomes one shared experience where you see the smiles, shake people’s hands and dance together.”

Monge performs, accompanied by a three-piece band, in Eastside Lounge at Encore Wednesday-Monday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Talking With Peter Noone – July 31, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Peter Noone

This week, Ira spoke with Peter Noone. To listen to the interview click below.

Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits, performing at the South Point August 1-3, are responsible for such hits as I’m Henry The Eighth, I Am,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “There’s a Kind of Hush,” and “I’m Into Something Good.”

In a multi-dimensional career that has garnered respect from his colleagues and millions of fans worldwide, Noone is the professional’s professional. As a child, he appeared on the British television shows Coronation Street, Knight Errant, and Family Solicitor, and went on to study acting at the Manchester School of Music and Drama.

In 1963, he joined a Manchester beat group, the Heartbeats, whose name was changed shortly thereafter to Herman & the Hermits and eventually shortened to Herman’s Hermits.” His career with that popular recording act sold well over 50 million records, at times eclipsing the Beatles themselves in sales.

His career includes critically acclaimed stage performances in two Broadway shows during the 1980s, including “The Pirates of Penzance,” to his roles on the silver screen. He appeared as Herman in two films, 1966’s “Hold On” and 1968’s “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”; was one of the few bright spots in 1978’s “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”; and performed in 1982’s “Rockin’ the Night Away: Life From Palm Springs,” 1996’s “Hullabaloo,” Vol. 8, and 2000’s “The British Invasion Returns.” In 1999, he sang the end theme to the Kirk Douglas film, “Diamonds.”


Talking With Dave Koz and Cuba Gooding, Sr. – July 24, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Dave Koz-Cuba Gooding Sr.

This week, Ira spoke with Dave Koz and Cuba Gooding, Sr.. To listen to the interview click below.

Acclaimed saxophonist Dave Koz, along with friends Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, will perform in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center on Saturday, August 2, at 7:30 p.m.

Nine-time GRAMMY® nominee Dave Kozremembers the first record he ever purchased – Tower of Power’s 1974 album, Back To Oakland. It had a powerful impact on him, as his latest album, Summer Horns, shows. Teaming up with three of his most talented and trusted colleagues – Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair –Koz revisited the music that made him want to pick up the saxophone in the first place: classic tracks from Tower of Power and other brassy juggernauts that ruled the airwaves from the late 1960s through the ‘70s – bands like Sly & the Family Stone, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears.

Over the decades, the saxophone has opened numerous doors for Koz. He’s played with such artists as Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Shelby Lynne, Kenny Loggins, U2, Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross and Rod Stewart. He’s become a platinum-selling artist with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is also known as a humanitarian, entrepreneur, radio host and instrumental music advocate.

Cuba Gooding, Sr will be joining forces with Soul On Fire for 90 minutes of original material, including the new release of “Everybody Plays the Fool,” in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center on July 26 at 8 p.m. .
With more than 40 years under his belt as an entertainer, lead vocalist Gooding continues to entertain audiences around the world.

Gooding’s vocals were sampled by Grammy Award winning songstress Alicia Keys, on her smash single, “You Don’t Know My Name,” which, early in 2004, held the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks chart for nine straight weeks.

Having achieved chart topping hits with the Main Ingredient, Gooding continues his musical legacy by pairing up with his son Omar Gooding to produced a rap infused old school groove on the project 2 Good, while simultaneously working on his own current project Rebirth.