Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Chat With Screen Legend DEBBIE REYNOLDS!

She has been called "America's Sweetheart" in the peak of her career which has spanned six decades. Debbie Reynolds is a living legend from Hollywood's golden age and at age 78 (she will be 79 on April 1st!), she continues to perform throughout the country to the amazement of her cherished fans. I had the great honor to chat with Debbie from her California home just the other day!

MICK: Please tell me about your upcoming show at the Tilles Center on the campus of C.W. Post in Brookville, Long Island on April 8th!

DEBBIE: I call it a variety show! It's a concert show filled with music and dancing. I do impressions of Barbara Streisand, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West; I do a lot of comedy and also bring my film clips of "Singing In The Rain", "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", "The Tender Trap" with Sinatra. I sing with each of these movie clips too. We do music from Stephen Sondheim, Gershwin and all of those great songs and standards that I loved and grew up with. I do a little bit of everything because the people are coming out to see you and you take them out of their problems in their life for the time that they are seeing the show. I don't do politics and I don't do religion! I try to keep it as light as possible! I do another section of out takes of mistakes from classic films of Bette Davis,Jimmy Stewart and Humphrey Bogart and all the greats. This is all from my collection of memorabilia. I have a very large film library!

MICK: You grew up in Burbank, California, right next door to Hollywood. Who were your favorite movie stars when you were growing up?

DEBBIE: I loved the musicals! I loved Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly! I went to the movies every weekend in the 40's. There were a lot of comedies and musicals and I kind of grew up on them. I loved Jimmy Stewart and Erroll Flynn too!

MICK: I see on your website that you are auctioning off your incredible movie memorabilia collection in June, the largest private collection in the world.

DEBBIE: Yes, I've given up after all these years. I just can't seem to get it done [a movie museum] and the Academy doesn't seem to care. I can't get enough backing people to care about the building of a museum. It's not good economical times. So I'm going to have a big auction in June and another one in December.

MICK: Are you going to keep anything?

DEBBIE: No I'm going to see everything!

MICK: In your extensive collection, what is your most special piece?

DEBBIE: I have Marilyn Monroe's white subway dress, Barbara Streisand's gold dress from 'Hello Dolly", Hepburn's black Aztec dress. I have virtually every star from every Academy Award winning movie! Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Groucho and Harpo Marx. I have the best private collection in the world!

MICK: When was the last time you spoke top Elizabeth Taylor?

DEBBIE: I spoke to her about five weeks ago when she was quite ill. She was trying to get better but there was just no ability to get better. Her back was so severe and her pain was great. They couldn't find any way to help her.

MICK: Did you have a favorite costar?

DEBBIE: I think my favorite costar was Jimmy Stewart. I loved working with him. I also loved Glenn Ford. We had wonderful fun together. I had a great time working with Dick Van Dyke. I really enjoyed everybody! I never did meet someone that I didn't like! I loved them all!

MICK: I read one of your quotes that said " "Singing In The Rain" and childbirth are two of the hardest things I ever did in my life". Why was "Singing In The Rain" hard?

DEBBIE: I was just referring to the one number that was called "Good Morning" where we go over the couch. First of all, I was not a dancer! I had to learn how to dance and keep up with Gene Kelly and Donald O"Connor. That was enormously difficult for a seventeen year old who never danced before to have that challenge! That was a very hard number and Gene was a brilliant dancer. He made me work very hard and I did! I had blood in my shoes! We didn't have any Saturday or Sunday off where we could just pass out for the day. We worked from six in the morning until eleven at night.

MICK: Are you religious?

DEBBIE: Yes, I'm very religious!

MICK: Have you ever had any miracles happen in your life?

DEBBIE: It's a miracle I'm still alive! The fact that I've survived all my bad marriages is a miracle! I'm very happy I got through childbirth alive.

MICK: You've had numerous successes and awards in your illustrious career. What would you consider your biggest achievement?

DEBBIE: For "The Unsinkable Molly Brown', I was nominated for an Academy Award. I worked very hard and I loved that movie. I thought I did an excellent job in that picture.

MICK: What are your upcoming plans?

DEBBIE: To continue doing my shows until I drop dead! I'm going to be just like George Burns and stay on the stage until I drop dead and have myself stuffed like Roy Rogers' horse Trigger! That's the joke on how I'm ending my career. I want to perform as long as I can!

MICK: How would you like to be remembered?

DEBBIE: I'd like to be remembered as a person who cared about other people and was a good mother and a good friend. That's good enough!

You can see more on Debbie at: http://debbiereynolds.com

An Evening With Debbie Reynolds at The Tilles Center Concert Hall in Brookvale, NY, on Friday, April 8th at 8:00PM. Tickets available at Ticketmaster and the Tilles Center box office.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Long Island's own Country Star LISA MATASSA!

Long Island has been a hot bed for talent in all genres of the entertainment industry for many years. Now there is a new star emerging in the country music world and she is Long Island's own LISA MATASSA whose new album "Me Time" is being released on March 31st! I had the great pleasure to speak with Lisa as she prepares to the new album's launch...

MICK: Where did you grow up?

LISA: I grew up here and in Florida. I was here until I was about eight years old and then my family moved down to Fort Lauderdale. I was there for around seven years and then we moved back to New York when I was in the tenth grade. Franklin Square to be exact! Now I live in Plainview!

MICK: Do you come from a musical family?

LISA: My mom used to sing when she was younger in a do-wop group where she did background harmonies. My grandmother on my father's side was an opera singer. I studied opera when I was 8-9 years old for about five years. So my beginning career in music was in opera! From there, I started doing the pop and rock.

MICK: You started out as Lysa Lynn and you some great success with dance music hits. Did that success hold you back from the music you really loved?

LISA: In a way it did but at that particular time in my life, being Lysa Lynn actually gave me the stage to get my name out there and get my feet wet in the business in a recording artist aspect. I was willing to do whatever type of music it was. I was willing to sing different types of music if I had to. But I loved every minute of it! My fifteen minutes of fame was great!

MICK: Did you always like country music?

LISA: Always! I grew up listening to artists like Loretta Lynn and Elvis Presley. I loved the story telling that country music has. As a woman, I think women can relate to country music more. I've always been a rock and roller at heart too. It's the best of both worlds! But country music always sat so well with me. A lot of producers I've worked with over the years always told me I had some type of sound in my voice that lends to country music. At that point in my life, that was not what was happening in music. The timing and the music has changed today. There's a lot more country outside of Nashville. It's really making a great insurgence here on Long Island.

MICK: You have a new country EP coming out called "Me Time". Please tell me more about that!

LISA: "Me Time" is a compilation of what I call a genre of music called Long Island country. It is a mix of New York rock and roll and a little new country. The songs are about my life in general, especially the title song "Me Time".. That's my life in about three and a half minutes! When I first heard it, I thought this song is perfect! There's so many women out there who are wives and mothers trying to do it all, they can actually relate to this song. It's a fun fun album! I think a lot of people will enjoy it!

MICK: Do you write your own music?

LISA: Yes I do! Some of the songs on this album I co wrote as well as through other musicians who have written for me. Great song writers are on this record like Joey Sykes and Don Rollins who wrote "It's Five O'clock Somewhere". for Alan Jackson. Don and I co wrote five songs together on the album.

MICK: You recorded the album at Richie Cannata's Cove City Studios. Was Richie involved with the album?

LISA: We had a relationship with Richie in the past back when I was Lysa Lynn. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. A great musician and a great mentor and friend. He liked the fact that when we went into his studio, we used live musicians! We actually took the cover off this old grand piano and put in a real drum kit. A lot of music today is done electronically. When we came in there with a full band, it was like a breath of fresh air for Richie!

MICK: You're married with two teenagers. Are they musically inclined?

LISA: Yes they are! My son is thirteen and he is a great drummer! My daughter, who will be sixteen, has such a beautiful voice. She is actually doing the school play "Grease", one play I never got a chance to do in high school!
MICK: How do you handle being a wife, a mother and a country music star star all at the same time?
LISA: It's hard but I have the support from my whole family. If I didn't have the support from my husband, my kids and my immediate family, I don't know if I could do this. Family comes first in my life. The fact that they love what I do and they are so supportive and believe in me means so much. They want me to succeed and live that dream because they know in my life it was unfinished business. I always felt I needed to do something further with my music. I feel a connection to people when I sing live and when I write. I have a great relationship and connection with my kids and husband. To share that with people through my music is something I wanted to do for a long time.
MICK: Have you performed yet at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville yet?
LISA: Not yet! Thats's on my bucket list! That would be awesome!
MICK: Will you be touring this year?
LISA: We do have plans to be touring. Once this record is released on March 31st, there's a lot of radio tours we will be going on. We are going to get out as much as we can especially in the Tri-state area and Long Island in particular.
MICK: What are your thoughts on Long Island's newest country radio station WJVC 96.1 FM?
LISA: I think it's about time! It's such a perfect marriage! We are all on the same page and we just love the new brand of country music that's hitting Long Island and New York in general. They are so supportive of my new record and will be bringing it in the forefront on March 31st when my album is released. They will be broadcasting live from the official record release and video Premiere Event with me at the Carlyle at The Palace in Plainview NY. It's very exciting!
MICK: Who do you listen to now?
LISA: I listen to all kinds of music. I listen to mainly country music right now... artists like Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift is so talented, Sara Evans is incredible, Keith Urban, Trace Adkins I absolutely love! You will see me flipping over the dial from The Highway on Sirius to Hair Nation! I listen to Bon Jovi, Poison, Aerosmith!! I flip back and forth between those two stations. Right now, I listen to WJVC 96.1FM on the radio when I'm in the car as long as I can get the reception in Nassau County! Or as long as the kids aren't playing with the radio in the car!!

See more about Lisa at http://www.lisamatassa.com/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


On Monday evening, March 14th, the world of rock united in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for the 26th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions. This year's class was an eclectic group of legends who came to join the elite membership of rock's hallowed Hall. Those inductees included Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Dr. John, Darlene Love, Leon Russell, Tom Waits, Art Rupe and Jac Holzman.
John Densmore of the Doors was there to induct Electra Records founder Jac Holzman. Densmore looked like a Confederate general with the long gray jacket and gray hair tied back. Very personable with the press, he seemed to be having a great time. Neil Diamond was dressed in his usual black, a true class act. He said he just flew in from Australia, where he is on tour, and would be flying back the following day. "I would not miss this for the world" Neil told the press. Elton John was there to induct Leon Russell. Elton did all of the talking while the two sat together in the press room. Leon looked like he was in a hypnotic state and showed virtually no emotion at all. I guess his music did the talkin' already! Stray Cat Lee Rocker was there with his beautiful wife Debbie. Lloyd Price was there to induct Art Rupe, founder of Specialty Records. Lloyd is one cool guy. He said he currently manages Icon Food Brands, which makes a line of primarily Southern-style foods, including Lawdy Miss Clawdy food products, ranging from canned greens to sweet potato cookies. He also said he is an avid bowler his whole life and carries a 214 average and even has six 300 games under his belt!! Incredible! Darlene Love was ever so gracious about her induction and gave a real heartfelt induction speech. She is one incredible lady and it's great she finally received her due. Bette Midler was very happy to be there to induct Darlene. Bette is just full of personality that just spreads throughout the room. John Legend was there to induct Dr. John. Legend looked sharp as nails in his perfectly fitted suit. He is not only a great singer but very articulate as well. Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack) was dressed in a purple suit with beads, a fancy cane and feathers. One of the photographers whispered to me that he looked just like a pimp! So when someone asked Dr. John about his unusual shoes, he said he got them in a pimp shop! It drew a lot of laughs! Alice Cooper (real name: Vincent Furnier) was his typical theatrical self complete with full makeup, a bloodied shirt and a large boa constrictor snake! His band sounded just great, all veterans from Cooper's early days. They were backed by a chorus of school children who were also in makeup!! Cooper said they were thrilled to finally be in the Hall and they just might be the first rock band kicked out of the Hall!! Joking of course!! They were inducted by another hard rocker Rob Zombie!
Those who chose not to meet the press were Tom Waits, Neil Young and Paul Simon. Among those who were present included Bruce Springstein, Michael Douglass and his wife Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael J. Fox, John McEnroe, Dr. Oz and John Mayer.
Next year's inductions will go back to Cleveland, as they do every third year.