Saturday, June 30, 2012


Em wants to know which John Cullum prefers -- rehearsing a play, or actually performing it?

John explains what rehearsal means to him, and describes how he digs deeply into the script for what each character wants, not just the character he's going to play.

"Not for the applause?" Em asks.

John Cullum's reply reveals what's on his mind, as he's rehearsing or performing.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


His book, "IT WORKED FOR ME," has just been published. Colin Powell collected lessons that have shaped his career as a four star general and Secretary of State, and created a blue print for leadership -- offering advice for succeeding in the workplace and beyond.

You and I have heard bits and pieces of his story. We know that in 2003, he was tricked -- inveigled by President Bush and Vice President Cheney -- into making a speech at the U.N. that got us into the war in Iraq.

Later, Powell learned that the facts he was stating were NOT facts, were exaggerations and speculation. What a wham, what a shock it was for this man, who has served our country with stern, unshakeable honesty and integrity.

How does Powell feel about this now? What's he doing? What does he feel about the fact that he could have been our president right now, rather than Barack Obama? Powell is a black man that both Democrats and Republicans supported.

Colin Powell has said that he did not run for president because he promised his wife Alma that he wouldn't. Her fears that he might be assassinated are undoubtedly the fears that Michelle Obama feels about her husband.

I bow to Colin Powell-- respect, admire, and cherish him Here is a man right now, today, who represents integrity.

Here's a man who doesn't allow anyone to speak for him, or put words in his mouth that he doesn't believe.

He is teaching us, adults and our children, what worked for him. He says in a direct, always clear way, what he's thinking, and explains his point of view with humor, and his personal experience behind his words.

In the very first chapter of his book he says: "Here are my rules and the reasons I have hung on to them. The Thirteen Rules caught on. Over the past twenty-three years, my assistants have given out hundreds of copies of that list in many different forms; they have been PowerPointed and flashed around the world on the Internet.

"1. It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.

"Well, maybe it will, maybe it won't. This rule reflects an attitude and not a prediction. I have always tried to keep my confidence and optimism up, no matter how difficult the situation. A good night's rest and the passage of just eight hours will usually reduce the infection. Leaving the office at night with a winning attitude affects more than you alone; it also conveys that attitude to your followers. It strengthens their resolve to believe we can solve any problem.

Wow, that's a big lesson, a lesson for a lifetime. I'm not trying to sell you this book, I'm just expressing a heartfelt wow. Here's a good man. Let's try to be more like him.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Recognize this face?

In an article in Newsweek, 56-year-old Bill Maher was reminiscing, about the TONIGHT SHOW, explaining how sitting on Johnny Carson's couch back in 1982 was every comic's dream.

Bill Maher said, "When I was a tween, thinking about who I wanted to be as a grown ass man, it was Johnny, my father, or James Bond."

(I re read the quote twice. Yep, Bill said "ass man.")

Of course it brought to my mind what my husband and I were doing when we were climbing the fame-name ladder in our chosen fields.

Thirty years ago, we were intensely focused on who's who, and what was the talk of the town. We knew the names of newcomers. We kept track of the latest news about the creme del la creme -- the national and international celebrities in politics, art, the money world -- the scandals, divorces, who died, who was ill, and who was going to win an Oscar.

Back then, the radio in the station wagon I was driving from one one-night stand to the next, played the hit tunes. I hummed along, but didn't bother too much with the chitchat about Ozzy Osbourne, B.B. King -- I more or less knew who the "Mamas & the Papas," "Rolling Stones," "Talking Heads" were; liked Johnny Cash's prison song, knew John Belushi had died and that Billy Joel was injured, heard about "Cats" opening on Broadway, heard of Madonna and had seen Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

While these fame-names in 1982 were igniting (some burning out, some burning brightly), in NYC's dance world, I was a name that chic people heard of though probably hadn't seen, while my husband, John Cullum, was in the prime of his prime. He was stopped on the street for autographs, seated at table number one in the famous restaurants, getting offers for movies, musicals and plays.

Bill Maher described very simply, and clearly, how important it was to him when he was 26 -- if, after you did your featured spot, Johnny asked you to sit down -- wowy-- that was IT. You were IN.

Back in those days I wanted John to be on the TONIGHT SHOW. But John, who had been asked more than once to appear, always turned it down. He didn't feel comfortable with small talk, chit-chat, and bantering.

Golly, I knew I'd say yes if I had a chance to be on Carson's show. A boy dancer (I called him NV), with whom I'd palled around when I first came to NYC, had become one of Carson's producers. Thinking NV could get me, or John, or both of us on the Carson show, I phoned him -- didn't get him, left what I thought was a great message.

Well, NV didn't phone back. and John Cullum never did Carson, Leno, or Letterman. And Bill Maher has grown up, grown older, and though he's not IN with the up and coming generation, he did sit down with Johnny. Bill Maher did become a name, and still matters, still counts in the fame-name world

Maher said, "If Johnny in his prime went up against Jay in his prime, and the year was 1965, Johnny would win. In 2000, Jay would win. I would not want to see Johnny Carson try to survive in this age, competing with YouTube and videogames and tapped-out attention spans; that’s not who he was. His era breathed a little, and I miss it. I miss him, and always will."

I think if Carson were on TV, and I had to choose between Jay and his stock cracks about sex, Dave Letterman and his "ten things" routines that I find silly, and Carson -- no doubt about it -- I'd watch Johnny Carson.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Fixing things that don't work anymore seems to be a major thing in life these days

John Cullum bravely takes apart what's no longer functioning, cleans, oils, figures out what makes it work, and installs new washers and screws. He even fixes wires or chains that are out of whack.

"Even if it takes hours, it's better than buying new fixtures," says Em, who complains about instruction books that take hours to comprehend.

Em, delights in "John the shoemaker" who more than once has repaired her favorite shoes, and expertly patches her worn ballet slippers.

The Cullums sigh. Fixing things -- no matter how much you do, there's always something else that's wearing out. Em says, "What's wearing out is you and me, John."