Last time out, in my article about David Frost, I commented on billing squabbles and pecking orders that occasionally arise among guest performers.
This prompted one of my readers to contact me and relate one of his experiences.
He has worked heavily in radio, and was assigned the task, in 1995, of emceeing a concert, in Tampa Florida, for Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, and Fabian, who were appearing jointly.
So he asked the promoter how they should be introduced, and in what order.
He was told, in no uncertain terms, that he was NOT to introduce them at all.
That the houselights would go to black, and when they came up again, the three of them would simply amble on to the stage.
He was told that if he introduced any one of them first, the other two would resent it.
This is interesting in that it represented wholesome nostalgia being sold by such "nice young boys"
Actually, at this point in their lives, they were apparently not so nice, not so young, and hardly boys.
Once on stage, they never left each other's sides for a minute.
It is not clear who sang first, but it is clear that they all sang exactly equally.
Maybe they alternated from gig to gig, or flipped a coin backstage to determine who sang first.
Now, consider for a moment who it was exactly who were engaged in this petty squabbling:
Three former heartthrobs who were totally manufactured by Dick Clark on "American Bandstand".
One of them who sang pretty well (Rydell), one of whom who was just cute and could sing a little(Avalon), and one who was gorgeous and couldn't sing a lick (Fabian).
And they managed to squeeze out more than 150 years of career among them.
You'd think they'd each consider themselves to be the luckiest fucks in the world.
Coincidentally enough, my local PBS station aired a special show this week, called "Malt Shop Memories"
The headliners were the above mentioned Frankie, Bobby, and Fabian.
I immediately set my Tivo for it.
I wanted to see if 18 years might have mellowed the situation at all.
Or just what effect those years would have on their looks and performing abilities.
There were many other acts booked, and although the headliners each did their own individual turns, they were mostly relegated to introducing the other acts.
The only women under fifty in the building were the backup singers on stage.
The PBS people were not at all shy about the billing.
It was Avalon, then Rydell, then Fabian.
This was the order that made the most sense, at least to Avalon, if not to Fabian.
And Avalon was introduced first, to introduce the first act.
And promoted first in all the ads.
Maybe this is why he and he alone showed up to be relentlessly interviewed on Pledge Week
There were lots of great acts---The Drifters, Lesley Gore, Chris Montez, looking forty, Little Peggy March, not looking forty....
But there was something very tricky about the editing, which I never would have noticed if I hadn't heard this story from 1995.
Avalon did the bulk of the introducing.
Rydell did some.
Fabian did less.
And all of their introducing was done in disembodied single shots.
As if they weren't even in the same showroom at the time.
That it was done at a different time.
Maybe a different time from each other.
That they probably had everybody introduce everybody, except maybe themselves
When they introduced each other, they went from the introducer, in his single shot, to the introducee, hitting the stage.
None of them ever appeared in the same shot as either of the others.
If you were me, you'd have had the impression that the billing squabble still existed.
And the way the PBS boys dealt with it was to tell each of them that he was the first-billed.
Then the three of them would be gone, and PBS would do whatever the hell they wanted to do, and promote it however the hell they wanted.
At the end, all of the other acts did a curtain call.
Avalon, Rydell, and Fabian were nowhere to be found.
It all looked like Trouble In River City to me.
Performance-wise, Rydell still sounded great, Avalon sounded like he lost some of what remained of his pipes, and Fabian sounded, well, like Fabian.
No discernible difference there.
Avalon and Rydell clearly had a lot of work done.
The worst was Avalon's eye-job.
Fabian just looked puffy.
As if the Botox hadn't settled in yet.
And it all looked like a three-way toupee medley.
Fellas, maybe it's time to get over it.
Maybe you should all be grateful for being able to surf the show business wave as long as you have.
Because it seems clear that the hearts that are throbbing for you will soon all be wearing pacemakers.
My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
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The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."