For reasons I don't quite understand, they've brought back the game show, The Tell the Truth. Of the major game shows of that era -- notably I've Got a Secret and What's My Line?, I find it the least interesting, and even sort of annoying. While I know it's the one that's most-easy for the home audience to play along with, there are two huge problems for me. The first is that when you have an interesting guest...two-thirds of the time you're not hearing what he or she has to say, and worse, for all you know, what you're hearing about this interesting guest may not even be remotely true, but one of the impostors guessing. But secondly, what bothers me the most is that, after the real-life, interesting person is identified, and you'd love to hear what this remarkable person has to say, now that we know who it is -- the show uses this post-guessing time to interview the two other people! When we want to hear from the actual, real person, we instead hear from the two fakes!! Honestly, I don't care who the two fakes are, I want to hear from the Actual, Real Person.
It's for that reason I don't post many clips from To Tell the Truth. But once in a while, I come across a guest who's so fascinating to see in person, that it's outdoes any hindrances. Sometimes, at this point, decades later, we can identify who it is when the game starts and watch while knowing. But even if we can't, we do find out at the end, and can go back and replay the thing.
This is one of those times. It comes from the October 10, 1960.
I suspect that most people here have seen the movie, Inherit the Wind, about the famous "Monkey" Trial (or Scopes Trial, as it was also know). That was based on the stage play written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (no, not that one...) -- who oddly enough also wrote another famous play totally different in subject and tone, Auntie Mame (which they later adapted themselves as bookwriters of the musical version, Mame.) The play, of course, told a fictionalized version of the battle between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, over schoolteacher John Scopes, who had taught evolution and Darwin's Origin of the Species which was against the law in Tennessee.
Well...the guest here is -- John Scopes! Yes, the actual, real. Even the panelists are impressed. (As one notes, "It's like having a national monument here.)
The questioning is sort of bizarre. (The polite term for "bad.") They spend so much time asking about the casting of Inherit the Wind, rather than the Scopes Trial. And what he went through. And the history of the time. Worse, they ask about the casting of the two lawyers...and not who played Scopes himself! The guy who is right there in front of them they're trying to guess.
Still, it's great fun to see, odd questioning and all.
Fortunately, he's the first guest, so you don't have to scroll through. And happily, since when I do watch the show I'm not very good at it, I guessed correctly here. Unfortunately, as always, no, they don't talk to him afterwards. Just the two fakes. Sigh...
For the past couple months, I've been noting here that there are two reasons I haven't been overly concerned about Trump pardoning people. And most prominent of those is because pardons only cover federal crimes, and I was sure that Robert Mueller was coordinating his efforts with state attorney generals, most particularly Eric Schneiderman of New York. I couldn't imagine that that wasn't the case.
It turns out that indeed that is the case.
There is a big banner story from Politico that broke last evening, with a headline that is simple and direct -- "Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe."
As the story explains, the Special Counsel and New York Attorney General have been working together for weeks, sharing evidence and talking frequently, building a joint case against Manafort on financial crimes, particularly that of money laundering.
To be clear, at the moment this (apparently only covers former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, no one else and only New York.. But "at the moment" is the operative term. After all, at the moment most accounts show that the Special Counsel's office seems to be focusing first on Manafort, as the most vulnerable, hoping to get him to flip and provide evidence against others. And Manafort's troubles are based in New York. But once this concept is breached, the door is over for an ongoing exchange of information. And the procedure is set up for other states to follow. Not that other states may even be necessary.
The importance of this isn't just that it allows New York (or any other state) to indict Paul Manafort, but almost more to the point, it gives Robert Mueller significant more leverage against Manafort to get him to testify. The point being that if Manafort knows he is going to get indicted by New York state, and it carries a significant penalty, Mueller can work out a deal where Manafort would get a much-reduced sentence in return for his testimony. That might be far more appealing to him that waiting on the mercurial Trump to see if he's actually going to issue an pardon. For that matter, even if Trump does issue a pardon, that would only (as noted) cover federal crimes, so it still could be in his best interest to testify, knowing he'd get a lesser sentence that the state might give him.
There's another twist in all this which I heard discussed by legal experts in regards to the story. A few states, and New York is one, have a double-jeopardy law where, in certain cases, a person can't be charged with a state crime if they've already been indicted for the same crime in federal court. However, there's a way to work around that -- the federal Special Counsel and state Attorney General would have to work out a schedule whereby the state would indict first and try its case before the federal government. That's uncommon -- usually states defer to the feds -- but it's not unprecedented, and not unreasonable if the Special Counsel and Attorney general in question are working together.
As Robert Mueller and Eric Schneiderman are.
You can read the article here.
By the way, there's an addendum to all this. The other reason I haven't been overly concerned about presidential pardons is because, when a person is pardoned, he or she loses their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and must testify openly and honestly. Or else they're at risk of being charged with either perjury or obstruction of justice. Well...
There was an article in RawStory yesterday whose headline was -- "Trump trying to pardon his way out of Russia scandal would be 'stupidest' possible plan: legal experts.
And their reasons? Precisely what I noted above. And it goes further, noting that pardoning potential witness in a case that concerns him could put him at risk of being charged with obstruction of justice.
And you can read that article here.
Sorry, I meant to post this yesterday, but the world got in the way. It's the follow-up to my piece on Monday about the vibrant, full-fledged production of My Fair Lady being done in Australia, directed by the original Eliza Doolittle, Julie Andrews.
As I said, everything I've seen of the production looks absolutely wonderful. Julie Andrews has said that she wanted to re-create as much as possible everything from the original 1956 production, while allowing for a few updates with the passage of time and acting choices. But overall, it's apparently deeply-faithful to the original. And it shows, and doesn't seem musty at all, but rich and enthusiastic. If you missed the initial videos I posted, scroll down a bit and check them. I also promised a couple of other videos that show how impressive the production appears to be. And that brings us to today.
This first is the full production number of "Get Me to the Church on Time," with Reg Livermore in the role of Alfred P. Doolittle.
Side note: in my annoyingly-vast collection of original cast albums, I have about half a dozen of different My Fair Lady from around the world, including (off the top of my head) from Israel, Spain and Germany. (The Spanish production, by the way, as I noted here a while back, credits a young man starting out his singing career in the role of one of Alfred Doolittle's cronies. The young singer's name is Placido Domingo) The performances of actors playing Henry Higgins and Eliza all vary -- some quite good (the Israel production especially), and others miss the mark a bit, for my taste. But one thing I've noticed is that EVERY country in the world seems to have an old, crusty, vaudevillian-type who absolutely nails Alfred P. Doolittle. Reg Livermore here in Australia is no exception.
Another side note. In Alan Jay Lerner's memoir, The Street Where I Live, he tells the story about how during rehearsals for My Fair Lady, Stanley Holloway -- who played the role of Alfred Doolittle in the original Broadway production (recreating it in London and then in the film) -- started to get out of sorts because of all the time and attention director Moss Hart was giving to the to leads, Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, and ignoring him in the process. His annoyance grew to the point where Hart noticed it was on the edge of turning into a blow-up and came over to settle Holloway down. Basically, what he said (and I'm paraphrasing) was -- "Stanley, I have a lead actor who's never been in a musical before and is terrified. And I have a lead actress who's 20-years old and starring in her first musical and is terrified. You've been doing this for 40 years, and I don't have to worry about you because I know you know exactly what you're doing and that you will do it wonderfully. So, if I'm ignoring you, it's because I know I can, but the other others need my help." Lerner writes that Holloway loved the explanation and took it as a badge of honor that he was left alone.
Anyway, back to today and Australia. Here's Reg Livermore knowing what he's doing, as well.
By the way, though this looks like it takes place during a regular performance, my guess is that it's a dress rehearsal. Not only is the camera too well-placed to be shooting during the normal run, but given the smattering of applause at the end, I suspect the theater is pretty empty.
Finally, this is a nicely-done featurette from a local TV show, Good Morning, Melbourne. You see some behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and performance. As mentioned the other day, the leads are Charles Edwards and Anna O'Byrne, who has the monumental task of being directed by the legendary performer who created the very role she's playing. And acquits herself wonderfully.
This year, indeed only a few months ago, the Federal Trade Commission reached a $100 million settlement with the for-profit DeVry University for fraud, "misleading and exploiting students." It includes paying $51 million in student debt. This is the biggest "for-profit" education fraud case.
Okay, so are you sitting down? No, really, I mean it. I'll wait... Good.
Today, Trump just appointed its dean, Julian Schmoke Jr, to the Department of Education unit that polices fraud in higher education!!
No, really. Honest.
And yes, I know the immediate quip reaction is -- well, sure, he was appointed because he's an expert on fraud in higher education, and so he knows exactly that to look for.
My favorite comment on this is from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who has been very outspoken on the appointment all day. He's laid out the meaning on consequences of it. But his first response was the gem -- "This is a joke, right? Basically akin to nominating influenza to be the Surgeon General."
Stick with me on this one. It's about a baseball player, but not baseball.
It's not that the Chicago Cubs have players good enough to have won their first World Series in 108 years last season, but they have a bunch of really good guys on the team. When people ask me who my favorite player is, it's really hard not to name reigning MVP and former Rookie-of-the Year Kris Bryant. Or Javier Baez. Or Addison Russell. Terrific players and great guys. And there are others, as well -- not to mention manager Joe Maddon.
But I also say it's pretty tough to top All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo. I love the guy, and have written about that here in the past. Well, he just added another reason. Rizzo has long been a regular visitor to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, coming by once a month during the season. And on Tuesday, he gave $3.5 MILLION to them. It comes through his Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.
Rizzo is himself a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma when he was in the minor leagues and playing in the Red Sox organization, so his connection to the hospital is clearly personal. According to the Cubs website, "his foundation has created two endowed funds for patients being treated for cancer and their families. One provides grants on a case-by-case basis for families facing financial hardship due to unexpected needs. The second supports two oncology Child Life specialists, a position funded entirely by philanthropy."
Here's a Chicago Sun-Times video of the ceremony of and Rizzo's emotional speech, talking about remembering what he himself went through, something he generally puts behind him. "I don't do that much, but today was one of the days when it got to me."
He added later, "I feel I try to do a really good job of keeping baseball in perspective," he said. "You go out there between the lines and give it your all, give it your best, and that's all you can do. There's so much more to life than baseball. It's a balance -- you have to learn how to balance that. You have to go out there and have a job to do. I put my heart and soul into baseball, and when I leave the field, I try to just be Anthony, not the baseball player."
A couple things to note in this video. This isn't the first time he has given money to the hospital, or others connected to it. You'll see in the video one of the mothers, Sue Erickson, talking eloquently about Rizzo and what he's meant to her son Matthew. What the reporter Madeline Kenney doesn't say on camera, though she writers in the Sun-Times article -- "Erickson also said that the Rizzos have helped pay for Matthew’s medical bills and the family’s mortgage when they were struggling to make payments. The Rizzos also sent Erickson and her three kids to Disney World last summer for a family vacation." (In all, Rizzo has now given over $4 million to the children's hospital.)
Also, reporter Kenney comments in the video how choked up Rizzo got when unveiling a signed jersey. What isn't mentioned is the reason he was so touched -- the jersey wasn't signed by his teammates, but rather the kids at the hospital.
A couple years ago, I posted a wonderful 15-20 minute featurette that MLB Network did on Rizzo about his career and battle overcoming cancer. It's highly worth checking out, and you can see it here.
For those who want something shorter, this is probably the most famous clip of Anthony Rizzo on the ball field. It comes from August 12, 2015, and not only is it a tremendous play, but it shows the enthusiasm and effort he puts into the game. When he said above, "You go out there between the lines and give it your all, give it your best," that wasn't just an Athlete Cliche, but this video shows he means it.
(The timestamp show the clip to be 2:14, but it's really only around a minute -- they show the play twice, as reported by by the Cubs TV announcer Len Kaspar and then their radio play-by-play man, my fave Pat Hughes, who has the better call.)
Wow, with Santa Trump on his way to Texas, good news all around! Just click on the video below to start the music and then scroll down to sing along. All will be well!
You’d better watch out!
You’d better not cry.
You pray for a drought.
You hope to stay dry.
Donald Trump is coming to town!
He’s making a list
To check on your plight.
He wants to make sure
Who’s Muslim or white.
Donald Trump is coming to town!
He sees you when he’s golfing.
He knows that you need food.
He’s going to Missouri next
Where he knows he won’t be booed.
This all is fake news
There's no need to pray.
It's caused by the Jews
I've heard people say.
Donald Trump is coming to town!
He’s blowing his horn
And beats his own drum.
He’s brought the men porn,
The boys all get gum.
Donald Trump is coming to town.
So, get out your yacht
Or pray you can float.
Think of your town
As just a big moat.
Donald Trump is coming to town.
This water all around you
Is nothing more than jokes.
We’re gonna build a wall here!
And the storm’s a Chinese hoax.
Oh, you’d better not cry
I hope you’re not stuck.
I’m here – and good bye.
I wish you, “Good luck!”
Donald Trump has just come to...
Donald Trump has just come to...
Donald Trump has just come to town!
Hey, we tries nots to steers ya wrong.
You may recall last week I wrote a sort of double-header article here that tied together two stories about problems for Trump. If not, a quick recap: One dealt with a report from The Stern Facts about money laundering with Russia over building the Trump Soho Hotel for which emails with all his children were made public. The other seemingly-unrelated story concerned a Trump business partner who had already cooperated with the Special Counsel and was telling his family that he and Trump were going to jail. And the connection between the two stories was a man named Felix Sater, who in the past (among many other things) has plead guilty in a $40 million racketeering case that involved the Mafia.
Well...guess who's back in the news?
The Washington Post has a new story here with the headline, "Trump's business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president." This deal, for which Trump had signed a letter of intent, came all the while Trump was repeatedly denying that he had any business dealings with Russia. Most bluntly in a July, 2016 tweet, "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia," followed the very next day at a news conference, "I have nothing to do with Russia." And the developer at the center of the story is...is...is...(oh, okay, you can figure it out) -- Felix Sater!!!
As the story notes, "a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get President Vladimir Putin to say 'great things' about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.
"The developer, Felix Sater, predicted in a November 2015 email that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating — both one of the biggest residential projects in real estate history and Donald Trump's election as president..."
Like I said, I tries nots to steers ya wrong.
The thing is, it's not just that Felix Sater is a key witness to this and to so much of Trump's other business dealings -- but (as my earlier article said) he's already cooperated with the Feds. And anyone who questions whether that's true, his own words he said he's going to jail, and Trump, too.
The importance of Felix Sater was so clear to me when I saw those two unrelated articles. And remembered him from during the campaign (when Trump denied knowing Sater, despite there being photos of the two of them on stage almost side-by-side). It wasn't hard for me to put the importance of them together. And now, here comes this article!!
Of course, I think it's been obvious to most people that they key to Trump's downfall -- which ultimately is also the doorway to his Russia connections -- was through his business dealings over the past decade, and probably the last 20 years. There was too much public and on the record that was clearly seedy for which it's impossible to not think permeates through everything. And explains Russia. And that Felix Sater is central to so much of it. Not all, but plenty.
Couldn't happen to a sweller guy.
And here's a bonus for you. A clip from a 2013 edition of the BBC show Panorama, where the interviewer Jon Sweeney aggressively presses Trump on Felix Sater, and as much as Trump tries to deny any connection (even rudely tries to deny it, calling the interviewer "maybe you're thick"), Sweeney keeps bluntly asking until...Trump suddenly explains he has another engagement and leaves.
I tries nots to steers ya wrong. Watch this space.
Okay, this will likely be only of interest to Chicago Cubs fans -- but a) it has nothing to do with baseball, and b) it's fun and only a minute.
As you may know, the Cubs have a tradition for almost 20 years ever since announcer Harry Caray passed away, carrying on his tradition of having a guest celebrity (some major, some local, some minor) lead the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," accompanied by organist Gary Pressy.
It's worth noting, too, that the Cubs actually still do have an organist, since so many teams have gone to recorded music to entertain the crowd. And since Pressy has been doing it for so long, he's a popular, if little-seen fixture at Wrigley Field.
Well, tonight organist Gary Pressy had his own remarkable milestone. Yes, I know records in baseball are all about the athletes, but even though an organist, it's still a seriously impressive achievement. This was Gary Pressy's 2,500th consecutive game playing the organ during a Cubs game. He hasn't missed a ballgame at Wrigley Field in over 30 years! I don't care if it's just for playing the organ -- not missing a day of work in 30 years is pretty darn good.
In appreciation, the Cubs gave out Gary Pressy bobble-head dolls, and invited him to be the "guest conductor" to lead the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The big question the announcer's had during the game was "Who would accompany him on the organ?" Oh, tosh, he accompanied himself.
What I love is that he gave his little introduction as if he was Harry Caray calling out to him to start.
So, in honor of Gary Pressy's 2500th consecutive game -- all rise for the 7th Inning Stretch.
I have a bunch of wonderful videos of this, though won't dump them all here at once today. Consider this Part One, and I'll follow it up hopefully tomorrow.
Back only a few months ago, mid-March for those of you keeping score, theater producers in Australia mounted a full-scale revival of Lerner & Lowe's musical My Fair Lady. While that's not headline-making news, at least over on this side of the world, one thing about the production was -- the show was to be directed by the musical's original Liza Doolittle...Dame Julie Andrews!
(From what I can tell, the production opened in Sydney, but eventually toured around the country. For all I know, it may still be playing there.)
Here are a couple of initial videos of the production, and they all make it look absolutely wonderful. (And by "all," I include some coming tomorrow.) In interviews, Dame Julie talked about wanted to be as true to the 1956 original, 61 years ago, though adding a few necessary tweaks with the passage of time, and allowing the actors leeway to bring their own craft to the work. The results are great. It's really full-scale -- in the sets, costumes and orchestrations, not barebones versions that easily breaks down to pack up for the road. And from the performances I've been able to find, it all looks spot on.
This first video gives a hint of all that. It's a "First Look" that includes videos and some extended clips of the final performances.
By the way, strong as all the performances are, the real stand-out from all I've seen is that of Anna O'Byrne who plays Liza. It's not just that she's really terrific here -- not just singing, but triple-threat dancing and acting, as well -- but the pressure of not turning into a ball of mush when being directed in your role by the legendary actress who came to fame creating that very character must have been hellish. That she ended up as strong as she did speaks volumes.
More to come tomorrow, schedule permitting...
This second video gives a full performance of an early rehearsal for the song "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," opening with the sequences where Henry Higgins (played by.Charles Edwards) meets Col. Pickering. Despite the identification below calling this a "dress rehearsal," it's not. In fact, that's part of its charm -- this is clearly from the rehearsal hall and without costumes. Yet the staging and choreography is pretty much in place. The actors are still feeling their paces, so it's not at "final performance level," but they're getting there. And it's here that you get a chance to see what I was referring to above, your quite-wonderful Anna O'Byrne is.
And for thems interested in reading a good article on the production, you can check out this piece here from the Sydney Morning Herald
Just in: Illinois today passed two important bills. One is for automatic voter registration, and the other is a compromise bill protecting immigrants from arrest solely based on immigration status. The governor today signed both. Good for Illinois & for Rauner signing them.
Lest anyone thing this is no big deal since Illinois is a blue state -- it is, but there is a Republican governor and lieutenant governor, and downstate Illinois (the tip of which is actually south of Kentucky!) is very conservative.
You can read more about it here in the Chicago Tribune.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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