Not that anyone asked, but, of my favorite movie comedies, “Waiting for Guffman.” released in 1996, is on the list. It was directed, co-written and starred Christopher Guest, who, along with his wife Jamie Lee Curtis, has been a Santa Monica resident on and off for two decades. “Guffman” features Corky St. Clair (Guest) an overly high-strung director of a hokey small-town Missouri musical production. Things get tense when the cast discovers a famous Broadway critic, Guffman, might be in attendance on opening night.
As they’ve set aside a front row seat, a distinguished man arrives and sits in the chair. After the show Corky and company cast fawn over Guffman hoping for a favorable review, which could lead to dreams fulfilled. While he’s clearly flattered by all the attention, the only problem is, he’s not Guffman.
By now you’re probably wondering why I’m mentioning “Guffman” twenty years after its release. I shall endeavor to explain.
Back in February, I wrote a column “Santa Monica Has Talent (Senior Style).” I did so at the urging of my longtime friend, Jerry Rosenblum, who’s 95, a Santa Monica resident for five decades and a terrific singer even for a man thirty years younger. Jerry has been trying to revive the “Senior Talent Show” which was inexplicably discontinued many years ago.
Among those Jerry frequently “pestered,” but in an endearing way, was Arts Commissioner Phil Brock who eventually saw the wisdom in Jerry’s idea. (Or figured Jerry would never stop.) With kudos to Justin Yoffe, Director of the charming Miles Memorial Playhouse, Phil arranged for the event to be held on Saturday, February 18th and it was a huge success. In fact, due to popular demand, tomorrow, May 6th, at 1 PM there will be another Senior Talent Show at Miles and this time it’s free to the public! But, back to my original column.
In promoting the original show I wanted to implement a little humor. I came up with a premise involving “America’s Got Talent,” which was created by the aforementioned Simon Cowell who not only has an amazingly full head of hair but an amazing $350 million as AGT is produced in 58 countries. So I postulated in print what if the huge AGT enterprise were somehow interested in little, obscure Santa Monica and our senior talent.
As always, my column came out Friday and when I got home that night, there was an email from….are you ready?….. “America’s Got Talent.” (I immediately suspected it was a prank by one of my friends.) It was allegedly from the female Casting Director of AGT, who asked me to call no matter what time I got in.
Still thinking it was a prank, my curiosity was piqued. So, at a little past midnight, I hesitatingly dialed the number in the email. As the phone rang, I debated hanging up but, as I would soon find out, it was no joke.
I had awakened the woman who answered the phone but she was glad I called. I wondered how she had read my column. It turns out she has Google Alert, which notifies her anytime AGT is mentioned on the internet, which is probably every five minutes. She asked if she could send a casting person to the Senior Talent Show the next day. Apparently AGT is considering branching out in include senior talent.
Sure enough, on Saturday, an actual casting rep from AGT showed up at Miles Playhouse and, after the show, said he “was impressed” with a number of the performers. They are casting again in August and, who knows, maybe some of our esteemed and talented seniors will possibly be on TV for all of us to see and admire.
In the meantime, tomorrow’s show will include, in ages ranging from 75 to 95, thirteen talented singers, one very funny comedian and an M.C. whose vast experience goes back the days of the borscht belt. The singers are: Jerry Rosenblum, Valerie Swiftbird, Ed Daniel, Laurie Raskin, Rissi Morehead, Inga Nielsen, Marlene Flowers, John Breslin, Alice Schultz, Marcella Olavarria, Bonnie Ershoff, Elaine Wesbster and Kalani Whittington. The comedian is Jeremy Vernon, the M.C. is Archie Barkan and the pianist is Gary Nesteruk. (Please note, Jerry Rosenblum will close the show with his inspired version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”)
I’ve been told there’s a chance an AGT representative will be in the audience tomorrow. So, if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, and if Simon Cowell is sitting next to you, please don’t show him this. I gather he can be rather moody, to put it mildly. Apparently $350 million doesn’t guaranty happiness. Personally, I’d settle for that head of hair.
To see if any tickets for Santa Monica’s Senior Talent Show are still available, call (310) 458-8634. Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.