Saturday, April 7, 2012


Why does John Cullum watch sports, and Emily Frankel watch Judge Judy?

Emily thinks sports help John relax-- gives him something to root for, to focus on that distracts him from his work, the same way Judge Judy does for her.

John disagrees. He thinks Emily enjoys Judge Judy because Judy is tough, and often, she's even overly mean. He quotes Judy-- "They don't have me here because I'm pretty. They have me here because I'm smart."

Emily admits that Judy inspires her, when she's working on her various projects, to be an ultra-honest, strong boss. John explains that watching sports doesn't relax him. He gets too deeply involved, too concerned about his team winning. If his team loses, it leaves him depressed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


What makes a kid want to be a conductor? Music? Sure, the power of music to transport you anywhere, wherever you want to go.

I think it's a Be-a-King passion, and it's not the same as wanting to be a rock star, or a performer. I suspect the big dream, the passion for music. is similar to what drew me to dance. I wanted to ride the wave.

Gustavo Dudamel, 31, has been firing up music ever since he was a wee little kid. Today he's the conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

"Dudamel explodes out of his seat, stands on the tips of his toes, jabs the air violently with his conductor’s baton," says Chris Lee, music editor for Newsweek, describing a rehearsal of Mahler's Eighth Symphony. (I've got to confess, I'm a Mahler nut! --one of my biggest triumphs was dancing Mahler's Fifth at Lincoln Center.)

The Eighth Symphony is a huge undertaking, one of the largest-scale works in the classical concert repertoire. Dudamel refers to his Mahler Project as "my crazy dream." He scolded the choir of 800 singers, “We have a phrase in Venezuela: ‘You killed the tiger and now you’re afraid to take the skin. This is happening here. You have to take the skin! Be more in the moment!”

Conductors are special men. I met Leonard Bernstein -- he was accessible, friendly and fatherly about my using his "Trouble in Tahiti" opera for a ballet, though he said, "I don't think it'll work, but give it a try."

When I was dancing as a soloist with symphony orchestras, I met many conductors -- none were average/ ordinary -- all were tough, straight-forward, sharp-minded. I think it takes a powerful sense of "I know better than anybody else" to be a conductor.

Gustavo Dudamel, in Caracas now, is conducting the Eighth and other massive works. His fans calls call him “The Dude.” Though he's small in stature, he's becoming a towering figure in symphonic music. Corkscrew curls, an intensely ecstatic podium presence, conducting his own interpretations of beloved orchestral works, this guy is bridging the generation gap between older music lovers and young new listeners.

“Fame has two sides for me,” Gustavo Dudamel says. “One is when fame is an inspiration for other people. The other is when fame is an inspiration for you. What that means? In the second case, it becomes an ego thing. ‘I’m the best and everybody knows me.’ In the first, you see the children calling you, and your image is an inspiration for them to accomplish things. For me, that’s amazing. You feel like things are going the right way. ”

Asked about being "The Dude," he said, “I’m coming from a Latin culture where everything is so energetic,” he says. “I cannot avoid that. It’s in my blood.”

Yes, Gustavo Dudamel is a name to know. His recordings are something to listen to. Why? Because music -- classical music, all music -- is the top of the mountain, the zenith, the most astounding gift that we've been given.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Hey fashion guys, what's going on? Why are you promoting OLD ways to attract the opposite sex?

Who's idea was this? Probably Karl Lagerfeld, the "Kaiser," the legendary head designer behind Chanel, and Fendi. He goes for best seller marketing. It wasn't the murdered, gay Gianni Versace, though he was known for r "carving out a path between sex appeal and vulgarity," but it could have been an idea he whispered to somebody who whispered it to the Kaiser.

We've got low-cut fronts, low-low cut backs, one shoulder bare, crotch to floor slits in some gowns, the mermaid silhouette that you can't sit down in, and of course, doesn't everyone have at least one pair if tight jeans?

I can't help thinking some of these creative geniuses don't like women. What about these killer eight inch high heels? Some models are already tippy-toe mincing around in them

These claw shoes that the outrageous, now deceased, Alexander McQueen created for Gaga were at least possible to walk in, though I gotta say, I think they're hideously ugly..

What about hairdos -- seems to me blonde is more popular than ever. Obviously a designer has been supervising Callista Gingrich, on what makes her "beautiful" but gee, to me she looks like she's wearing a stiff blonde hat.

Okay -- what about red outfits? We used to think in terms of having a little black dress. Now you've got to have a red one.

Why, when red is so popular, would all those celebrities choose to wear red gowns to the Oscars? Is it women who are weird or the designers?

Why are short shorts back?

Punishment for good behavior?

Golly, every female I know, young or old, skinny or chubby, has tried to wear bikini style panties, or a French-cut swimsuit, or short shorts.

My goodness, how many times--many many times have you seen hands surreptitiously reach for the person's tush -- making sure the lower buttocks are covered -- give a tug.

I guess it's instinctive -- tug-tug-tug, and cover your fanny.

Back in 1995, short shorts were IN -- launched by fashion designer Mary Quant back in the "Swinging London" days. They were called Hot Pants.

Well ... maybe we feel better, going back to those days when the world seemed safer. Maybe "short shorts" are in tune with the times -- hey -- CYB! Cover Your Butt! Count Your Blessings!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


John Cullum talks about acting with Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott -- what it was like playing the Judge during the remaking of the movie "INHERIT THE WIND, the 1999 television production with Jack Lemmon playing Clarence Darrow, and George C. Scott playing the prosecutor.

Lemmon said he was channeling Darrow; George C. Scott was very ill, on his last legs.

When a shoot ends, often gifts are exchanged. John is wearing his "Inherit the Wind" gift, a black and grey velvet shirt.''