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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Leaving Astaire and Rogers in the Dust.

I never thought I'd ever hear myself saying this, but on at least one occasion,  I saw two people out-dance, out-sing, and outperform,  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
It was only once, but direct comparisons could be made in the same number.
The pair in question are Karen Ziemba, one of my all-time fave Broadway dancer-singers, and
Scott Wise,  whom I didn't know by name, but had seen several times on Broadway in several musicals.
The number in question is "My One And Only Highland Fling".
From the movie "The Barkley's of Broadway".
Ziemba and Wise performed it at a gala 100th birthday party for Ira Gershwin, who wrote the lyrics for it.  The music was by Harry Warren.
This was twenty years ago.
The movie was produced by the top of the line MGM musical producer, Arthur Freed.
And written by the top of the line scriptwriters, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green.
It was nobody's finest work.
And it was originally written for Judy Garland.
I don't think it would have made much difference.
"My One And Only Highland Fling" is a lovely number.
It has, to nobody's surprise, a Scottish motif.
The problem with it, was, unless they gave the script a re-write, it did not belong in this movie.
It has the highly inventive "Shoes With Wings On", and very little else to recommend it musically except "My One and Only Highland Fling".
The problem with the number in the movie was that the characters that Fred and Ginger were playing, a married couple, was that they were the cinematic equivalent to the radio's The Bickersons.
The squabbled about everything,
From the beginning to the ending.
The most disagreeable couple you'd ever come across.
Only, of all things, Oscar Levant's bitter acerbity made it at all palatable.
So Fred and Ginger performed "Highland Fling" contemptuously toward each other.
Perhaps her less than him, but still, no joy, no exuberance.
Now, they're both on YouTube.
Go and watch Ziemba and Wise perform it.
Who knew this number had that kind of potential?
Utterly uplifting.
Utterly exuberant.
Ziemba has spent her entire career in New York, winning Tony's, and always deserving them.
And of course she does guest shots on "The Good Wife", and at least three "Law and Order's"
She was one of the great dancers.
At 59, she probably can't do what she did 20 years ago, but with the magic of YouTube, you can at least see what she was then.
And Wise is probably still a great dancer.
There's another parallel to be drawn.
At that same concert Ziemba and Wise performed "Put Me To The Test", which Gene Kelly and
Rita Hayworth performed in the movie "Cover Girl".
Now, nobody left anybody in the dust here, but the fact of the matter is that Rita Hayworth never did her own singing.
She was always dubbed.
Let's call this one a draw.        

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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".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
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If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at macchus999@comcast.net
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.

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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 macchus999@aol.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."