Friday, December 16, 2005

Otto Lang

Reached many a peak on skis

Otto Lang left a voice mail seeking my help in finding actress Stefanie Powers. She was in Seattle to star in "The King and I," and had left word with him that his free tickets would be at the door. But he was fuzzy on the details and wondered if I knew where she was staying.

I certainly didn't know, but I was curious how Seattle ski legend Otto Lang, who turns 98 next month, got on her comp list.

"Oh, we are dear old friends," he said with his Austrian accent. "She went to Hollywood High School with my son. I saw her in a school production of 'Oklahoma' and identified her as a coming talent and cast her in a TV series."

Lang is so synonymous with skiing in these parts and across the country that you forget his full life involved producing, directing and acting in film and television, from high-brow documentaries such as "Beethoven: Ordeal and Triumph" to the All-American diet of "Daktari," "Cheyenne" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E."

He traveled the world and wrote two thick books. One, "Around the World in 90 Years," features his beautiful photographs. "A Bird of Passage" chronicles his life, from coming to America to his career in Hollywood and hobnobbing with the rich and famous.

These days, Lang walks with creaky knees. It takes him a bit to tilt back to erect, but he seems as sharp and engaging as ever. He owes it all, he says from his West Seattle home, to skiing.

Emigrating from Austria in 1935, Lang soon decided to head west to Mount Rainier, where he established his own ski school at Paradise Lodge. Skiing in the U.S. was in its infancy, but Lang was a tireless promoter of it. He was inducted into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 1978.

Frustrated with bamboo poles, Lang went to the golf industry to design one with a steel shaft. The 1937 prototype was strong yet flexible, but manufacturing and marketing got shelved when World War II put deep demands on steel production.

Of course, that wasn't the end of it.

Now, three of his early films are part of a four-DVD set featuring classic ski films developed and marketed by Topics Entertainment of Renton. One is the first theatrical movie about skiing filmed on Rainier and Mount Baker, which premiered at Radio City Music Hall in 1938.

It all goes back to skiing.

"I know it is a broad statement, but it is true. Skiing is responsible for everything in my life. It connected everything."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Star Studded Cast Sends Help For AIDS

A remarkable cast performed on Dec. 4 for a spectacular evening of music, comedy, and dance—“Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation Presents Help is on the Way for the Holidays VII”—where 100 percent of the ticket sales went directly to the beneficiaries: Maitri, Project Inform, and Pediatric HIV/AIDS Program of Children’s Hospital Oakland. The Herbst Theatre stage was festooned in holiday décor—including four, large, snow-laden, lit-up Christmas trees upstage; the apron of the stage trimmed with garlands of greens and tiny rainbow lights; dozens of live poinsettia plants; and a larger-than-life snowman. Sharon McNight was honored that night as a hero in the fight against AIDS with the Peggy Ermet Memorial Award. McNight has been active in the fight against AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Whenever she has been asked, she has stepped forward to perform, speak, or otherwise join in the fight. Like so many of us, McNight has lost many dear friends to this terrible disease and it’s a personal battle that truly comes from her heart. She has performed in seven “Help is on the Way” events. Kechia Ley received the Outstanding Volunteer Award. Ley has been an invaluable resource in supporting REAF’s live and silent auctions. In her position at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, a long-time sponsor of REAF events, she has acted as a lead liaison in soliciting many auction items.

Tia Riebling (Grease/Les Miserablés) and Michael Lynch (Les Miserablés/Fiddler on the Roof) began the program with a love duet of “Just in Time for Christmas” (“You came along and showed me what Christmas is about”). Then out came diminutive Leslie Jordan of TV’s Will & Grace and Boston Legal, as well as film’s hysterical Sordid Lives, as a large elf for his “I Swish You a Merry Christmas” set. He removed his big elf hat so we could see his face and he could expound on his woes as being labeled a sissy with a sibilant setback—a child whose pronunciation of words with “s” in them came out hissing all silly and nelly.

Cabaret singer Wesla Whitfield, for her sixth REAF appearance, gorgeously sang a cappella the sacred “Some Children See Him” (the savior, differently, as black, white, yellow, etc., but all love him). Cabaret, recording star Shawn Ryan was hilariously haughty with “My Simple Christmas Wish,” which was not world peace as one might expect, but rather landing a gig without auditioning and ass-kissing, that made big money and allowed him to be a real bitch! He wanted “to be rich, famous, and powerful.” Yeah, don’t we all?! And his comic bit dishing Oprah and Barbra was simply sidesplitting. Then changing the mood back to serious, singer/actor Adam Lambert (Hair/Brigadoon/The Ten Commandments/Wicked) gave us “O Holy Night” with an amazing high tenor and brought us to our knees when he sang, “Fall on your knees” with a rock beat. But the highlight of the first act was surely Sharon McNight doing her classic “Wizard of Oz Medley,” which this reviewer can recall from the old Fanny’s Castro cabaret club days. To the accompaniment of the veteran Joan Edgar on piano, McNight managed to imitate the voices and mannerisms of almost all the characters from the scene of Dorothy’s fateful landing in Munchkin Land—from Miss Gale herself to the wicked witch to Glinda to both baby and mature munchkins, complete with McNight’s sound effects. Just awesome!

The second act began with the Barbary Coast Cloggers, an all-male Appalachian-style troupe, looking like they came right off the set for Brokeback Mountain with their jeans, suspenders, flannel shirts, and cowboy hats. They whooped it up with line dances and partner dances to “Bucket to the South” and “Banjo Buck,” getting the audience to clapping and stomping along with them. Cabaret and blues artist Tim Hockenberry sang “Christmas by the Bay” in that sultry, smoky voice of his with its composer, Nolan Gasser, on piano. The song referred to the landmark attractions of SF and what a magical, romantic city it is by night. Gaines returned to sing the inspirational “We Can Be Kind” in his sweet lyric tenor: “Together we’ll weather whatever tomorrow may bring.” Stefanie Powers of TV’s Hart To Hart and 28 feature films sang the musical question: “What Are You Dong New Year’s Eve?” with the timely lyrics “Maybe it’s early in the game, but I thought I’d ask you just the same,” hoping she’d “stand a chance to have a dance.”

Recording star and founding member of The Supremes, Mary Wilson, sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with my favorite homophilic line: “Make the yuletide GAY!” and the bittersweet lyrics that certainly apply to this fundraiser against AIDS: “Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Adams and Lambert returned to sing Carole King’s upbeat “You’ve Got a Friend,” just like REAF is such a friend to those in need. Their voices were the perfect blend, especially when the duo really boomed out. Susan Anton of Broadway (Will Rogers Follies), TV (Baywatch), and film (Cannonball Run II) showed off her powerful, rich, sexy, belt-out voice with a very bluesy, torchy “Since I Fell for You,” desperately clutching a Santa’s hat as a prop, indicating the love of her life was gone. But not to fear, because Santa showed up at the end to take her in his arms. American Idol finalist La Toya London showcased her flawless phrasing in her jazzy version of “Silent Night,” and then began “White Christmas” as a lead-in for the entire cast to walk on stage and sing along. The house gave a standing, stomping ovation to a stellar show that truly entertained and raised lots of money for the three deserving AIDS beneficiaries.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Help Is on the Way for the Holidays VII

The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation is happy to announce two new cast members. Mary Wilson and Catte Adams join the cast of "Help Is on the Way for the Holidays VII." They join a cast of Grammy, Emmy, Tony, & Oscar winner, Rita Moreno, American Idol finalist La Toya London, TV/film stars Stefanie Powers and Leslie Jordan, Broadway stars Susan Anton, Lisa Vroman, Davis Gaines, and local favorites Sharon Mcnight, Wesla Whitfield and Tim Hockenberry as well as principal dancers from San Francisco Ballet. Tickets for the performance and Gala dessert reception with the cast start at $100. Show tickets, $45-$65. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., SF. 415-392-4400.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Open Your Hart (to Hart) This Holiday Season

Here at SFist, we'll admit to a bias toward events where fabulousness and social conscience go hand in hand. That's why we're looking forward to Sunday night, when The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation is presenting Help is on the Way for the Holidays VII. Northern California’s largest annual Aids benefit concert, this night of performances from stage and screen stars will benefit the HIV/AIDS Program at Children’s Hospital Oakland, Project Inform, and Maitri.

You can take in this "all-star holiday benefit concert" Sunday, December 4 at 7:30, at the Herbst Theater. As for the star power of the event, there's a lot of them, but w're especially intrigued by the prospect of performances from Susan Anton and Stefanie Powers -- and, hey, don't forget Oakland's own LaToya London!

General admission tickets are $45 and $65, and will get you into the pre-show silent auction at 5:30, with the show starting at 7:30. For the $100 (and up) Host Underwriter tickets, there's even a post-performance party with the cast in the Green Room of the War Memorial Building featuring complimentary wine, champagne and desserts (and we know you can make up that $55 difference in food, booze, and starf**king), from 9:30-11:30.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Review: Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season

In the retrospective featurette that graces the new DVD set of Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season, creator Sidney Sheldon accurately describes the sort of winky, black-tie tone he was aiming for in this serialized, early ’80s knock-off of The Thin Man films, in which Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers played a globe-trotting, make-cute husband and wife duo whose substantial personal fortune allows them to play amateur sleuths. With this in mind, the laidback charms of this show (after all, as the opening credit narration from co-star Lionel Stander cheerily notes of the Harts, “murder is their hobby”) can wash pleasantly over viewers seeking to relive their small screen past, when rakishness was embraced rather than castigated.

Wagner stars as Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire who is utterly bored with the business world. He runs his conglomeration of industries by loose proxy, leaving him the time to tend his magnificent coif and live a life of luxury and indulged inquisitiveness with his wife Jennifer (Powers), a former freelance journalist and his intellectual equal. Stander is their butler and sidekick, Max, who blends fruit-and-Jack-Daniels smoothies and is quick with a quip. While so many investigatory shows — be they cop, private investigator or, these days, forensic scientist — are little more than colorfully convoluted procedurals, one thing that’s notable about Hart to Hart is the amount of time it took to establish and delight in character. The cases the Harts tackle, therefore, are actually a little less than half the story, as the mock-exasperated interplay between the stars is what gives the show its true zing. The (little) action is dated and silly, sure, and the occasional stunt doubles among the worst you’ll ever see, but Hart to Hart has a great sense of its own style and mission.

While not without its low points (“Which Way, Freeway?,” wherein the Harts’ dog exposes an elaborate scheme to kill a reclusive jeweler and steal millions of dollars in gems, comes to mind), Hart to Hart works chiefly because of its leads. Wagner plays Hart in breezy, Steve McQueen-lite fashion, which isn’t as backhanded a compliment as it sounds; vacuumed free of his complications and surliness, one could see how the character of Hart — and indeed, this series — was a success with audiences, if never quite a critical darling. While it suffered some rocky reviews early on, Hart to Hart eventually went on to score six Emmy nominations and more than a dozen Golden Globe nods. Episode highlights here include a great opening pilot, “A New Kind of High,” “Hit Jennifer Hart,” “Cruise at Your Own Risk” and “With This Gun I Thee Wed.”

The full-frame transfers of the show look surprisingly good given their age, and the audio (in English and… Portuguese, with subtitles in the latter?) is equally crisp. Wagner and Powers sit with writer-director Tom Mankiewicz for a warm audio commentary track on the two-hour pilot. An abundance of anecdotes are shared (after a location set fire early during the shoot, the director of photography used gaffer tape to amend his novelty, pre-show crew T-shirt from, “I have complete confidence in my director” to read “some confidence”), and the banter between the three (“Did you learn that in star school?” jibes Powers to Wagner at one point) is loving and humorous. This track is a veritable blueprint for multi-party effectiveness, so balanced is it between yarns, interesting insight and quantifiable information. The aforementioned retrospective featurette clocks in at 22 minutes, and includes interviews with the stars, plus Mankiewicz, Sheldon, executive producer Leonard Goldberg and others. It too is a fantastic look back at the series, and a model of economic re-visitation — not too long, not too short.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Review: The King and I

The King and I

(Prudential Hall, NJPAC; Newark, N.J.; 2,750 seats; $35 top)

A New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Atlanta's Theater of Stars and Independent Presenters Network presentation of a musical in two acts with music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Directed by Baayork Lee.

Captain Orton, Sir Edward Ramsey - Hal Davis
Louis Leonowens - Patrick Scott Minor
Anna Leonowens - Stefanie Powers
The Interpreter - Scott Kitajima
The Kralahome - Ronald M. Banks
The Royal Dancer - Jessica Wu
The King of Siam - Ronobir Lahiri
Lun Tha - Martin Sola
Tuptim - Nita Baxani
Lady Thiang - Catherine MiEun Choi
Prince Chululongkorn - Allan Mangaser
Princess Ying Yaowlak - Daphne Chen
Fan Dancer - Kumi Kimura

Winding up a 22-city cross-country tour, "The King and I""The King And I" has settled down in Newark with a perfectly lovely Victorian schoolmarm at the helmhelm and the luscious legacy of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's durable score. The lavish bus and truck production has comfortably weathered the half-century mark bolstered by picturesque design and Baayork Lee's well-focused staging.
Anna Leonowens, the dauntless schoolteacher imported from Britain to Siam to educatethe king's expansive household of children, is played with considerable spunk by Stefanie Powers. In addition to the right mix of reserve and stately beauty, she also possesses a lovely soprano voice, only glimpsed when she appeared as Margo Channing in a Paper Mill Playhouse production of "Applause" a few seasons back.

Powers' widowed tutor reveals maternal warmth when she gathers the children about her to "Whistle a Happy Tune." There's witty defiance in the response to her employer's demands, "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?" and most embracing is her tender blessing to the star-crossed sweethearts, "Hello, Young Lovers."

The king is no longer quite the star turn once fashioned by Yul Brynner. Ronobir Lahiri is perhaps the most youthful in a long line of theatrical kings. He's certainly not a cuddly emperor, and manages to conveyarrogance and royal authority. But the childish needling humor and warm condescension never seem to successfully surface. His delightful, quizzical delivery of "A Puzzlement," however, is everything it should be.

Catherine MiEun Choi is a wise Lady Thiang, and she makes "Something Wonderful" exactly that. As Tuptim, the errant princess, Nita Baxani together with Martin Sola as her doomed lover deliver two of the most sensuous ballads in the R&H canon, "We Kiss in a Shadow" and "I Have Dreamed." The romantic fervor of the theater's golden age survives with considerable distinction.

A batch of barefoot tots scurry across the stage representing a small parcel of the king's 60-some offspring. The extraordinary capacity of Rodgers' melodies to charm and seduce an audience is in evidence as they enter the throne room in "The March of the Siamese Children."

Director Lee, who appeared in the original Broadway production at the age of 5 and is best known for creating the role of Connie in "A Chorus Line," has harnessed the show's physical beauty and its intrinsic exotic flavor.

Still the centerpiece of act two, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet parody, as originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, remains an engaging sideshow

Kenneth Foy's bejeweled set design is especially sumptuous for a traveling company. The picture-postcard Thailand is richly dressed with golden Buddha statues and high-columned anterooms for visual allure, enhanced by Roger Kirk's traditional period costumes and sweeping hoop skirts.

Sets, Kenneth Foy; costumes, Roger Kirk; lighting, John McLain; sound, Abe Jacob, Mark Cowburn; musical supervision, Kevin Farrell; production stage manager, John W. Calder III. Opened Nov. 8, 2005. Reviewed Nov. 10, Running time: 2 HOURS 35 MIN.

With: Michiko Takemasa, Greg Zane, Kim Jones, Amy Chang, Jessica Wu, Yuki Ozeki, Nicholas Cook, Jellyn Echon, Eric Liew, Carol Nelson, Jacquelyn Zen, Eileen Ward, Enrique Acevedo, Andrew Cheng, Edward Dias, Vivien Eng, Kuma Kimora, Scott Kitajima, LaToya D. Martin, Christine Nuki, Rommel Ochoa, Mayumi Omagan, Yuki Ozeki, Mata RS Perkins, Joshua Schutteis, Nancy Yang, Zhenjun Zhang.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Warning Shot on DVD

Warning Shot was released on DVD earlier this month.

Cast and Crew

David Janssen...Sgt. Tom Valens
Ed Begley...Capt. Roy Klodin
Keenan Wynn...Sgt. Ed Musso
Sam Wanamaker...Frank Sanderman
Lillian Gish...Alice Willows
Stefanie Powers...Liz Thayer
Eleanor Parker...Mrs. Doris Ruston
George Grizzard...Walt Cody
George Sanders...Calvin York
Steve Allen...Perry Knowland
Carroll O'Connor...Paul Jerez
Joan Collins...Joanie Valens
Walter Pidgeon...Orville Ames
Vito Scotti...Designer
David Garfield...Police Surgeon
Bob Williams...Judge Gerald Lucas
Jerry Dunphy...Himself - TV newscaster
Romo Vincent...Ira Garvin
Jean Carson...Cocktail Waitress
Donald Curtis...Dr. James B. Ruston
Brian Dunne...Philip 'Rusty' Ruston

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Stefanie in San Francisco

Stefanie will be performing in San Francisco.

The Richmond/Ermet Aids Foundation presents "Help is on the Way for the Holidays VII" on Sunday, December 4, 2005 at 7:30 pm at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue.

For more information go to:

Tickets can be purchased through the City Box Office at 415-392-4400 or your can go on-line at

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Powers that be Anna

With Stefanie in title role, emphasis returns to the 'I' in 'The King and I'

She'll miss the role and the songs -- and the children. She'll not forget the children, as the lyric goes.

But Stefanie Powers, who next week wraps up her 10-month national tour as Mrs. Anna in "The King and I" at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, won't spend any time yearning for the costume.

"That big hooped skirt weighs a ton," she says. "Then there's the pantaloons underneath it. And you have to wear a corset to keep everything up.

"Of course," she says, "one never knows if you're really hanging up the hoops for good. I thought I was hanging them up after the first time I did the part."

That was in London in 2002, when she took over for Elaine Paige. Then came a tour of England. Last December, when Sandy Duncan wanted to leave this American tour, Powers agreed to once more portray the embattled English schoolteacher who finds that the King of Siam isn't an easy person to have as a boss.

"I stress Anna's frustration," she says. "The King is no one's fool, and while he's not English, he is capable of running his country. At this moment in her life, Anna is without many alternatives in making a living, supporting her son, and maintaining a standard in her life. She was not privileged, or in a position to return to England, so she lives a very precarious life with not many opportunities, despite her education."

Powers, who turned 63 on Wednesday, says Anna is the lead of the show.

"Gertrude Lawrence was the original star of the piece -- and even brought the project to Rodgers and Hammerstein in the first place," she says. "However, over the years it became the King's show, because Yul Brynner made himself the focus, and played it over 4,000 times. Twelve years ago, Clear Channel (the tour's producer) wanted to put the emphasis back where it started -- on Anna."

That seems to be what Rodgers and Hammerstein intended. The King, after all, sings only one song -- "A Puzzlement" -- while Anna gets four of the show's biggest hits: "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Hello, Young Lovers," "Getting to Know You" and "Shall We Dance?" (Granted, the King -- here portrayed by Ronobir Lahiri -- partners her in the last-named song.)

"I love doing that polka because it comes so naturally to me -- probably because I'm Polish," says the former Stefania Zofia Federkiewicz.

Powers finds an irony in replicating Jerome Robbins' original choreography, here restaged by Baayork Lee, who was one of the Siamese children in the original 1951 Broadway production.

"I once worked for Mr. Robbins, when he hired me (in 1960) when I was a teenager to be a Jet Girl in the 'West Side Story' movie," she says of the time when her stage name was Taffy Paul. "I was the only minor on the set. He was a very tough man, and a taskmaster who took no prisoners. It was a baptism of fire for me, because he eventually replaced me. Still, I consider it a mixed pleasure to have worked with Mr. Robbins. I wouldn't trade the agony of it all for the experience I had just being there, seeing how hard everyone worked."

Although she took a self-imposed year of exile after the firing, she re-emerged with her new name to do some films ("Experiment in Terror," "Palm Springs Weekend") and TV shows -- becoming a genuine star when portraying Jennifer the journalist in "Hart to Hart," the 1979-84 TV series with Robert Wagner.

"That's what people mention when they come to the stage door after the show," she says. "'When's "Hart to Hart" coming out on DVD?' I'm so glad it just did."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pleasurable 'King' lacks spark

The resplendent textures, gilded Buddhas and elephant figurines evoking Bangkok provide one facet of a multitude of pleasures in the latest touring production of the classic Broadway musical, "The King and I."

But the show has a key fault -- the lack of sexual tension between the King of Siam and the British governess who arrives in 19th-century Thailand to teach his throng of children.

The last time the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II musical rolled into town, in 1998, English actress Hayley Mills played Anna Leonowens, the adventurous Welsh widow who accepts a job offer from the inquisitive but stubborn King of Siam, known as "Lord of Light" and ruler of all things in his country.

This time, the PNC Bank Broadway in Louisville presentation at the Kentucky Center features Stefanie Powers as Anna.

Mills had a winning spunkiness but an untrained and unimpressive singing voice. Powers, best known for her role on television's "Hart to Hart," brings a lofty bearing to the role as well as the musical pipes to sing Anna's half-dozen songs, including the poignantly beautiful "Hello, Young Lovers" and the cheerful but tricky "I Whistle a Happy Tune."

Powers is fun to watch, especially when she privately imagines giving the king a piece of her mind while wearing pantaloons and singing "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You."

The problem with this show, however, lies in the scenes between Powers' Anna and Ronobir Lahiri's King. The undercurrent of danger and physical attraction that made the Yul Brynner-Deborah Kerr movie so enchanting and memorable is missing in this version, directed by Baayork Lee, who appeared in the original "The King and I" as the youngest princess.

Lahiri is considerably shorter than Powers and less than commanding. At Tuesday night's opening performance, he failed to crisply articulate "A Puzzlement," and his singing was lost in the orchestration. He's best when quipping about his multitude of children, but it's disappointing that Lahiri, who has an impressive list of film and stage credits -- and who played this role opposite Powers on a United Kingdom tour and was the understudy on Broadway in 1997 -- projects such a tepid presence as the King of Siam.

Compensating pleasures are found in the performances of Nita Baxani and Martin Sola as the sympathetic "young lovers" who sing "We Kiss in a Shadow" and "I Have Dreamed." Catherine MiEun Choi provides a sense of compassionate wisdom with an affecting "Something Wonderful." And the sparkling, instructive Act II number, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," in which slavery is condemned, is among the most charming scenes of all in the nearly three-hour show.

Powers loved McLintock

Actress Stefanie Powers says her happiest working experience on a movie came in 1963 when she played John Wayne's daughter in the comic western McLintock.

She also says she will never forget the close chemistry between Wayne and his favorite leading lady, Maureen O'Hara, and reveals that it influenced the rapport she later established with Robert Wagner for their hit television series, Hart To Hart.

Powers makes her comments in a fascinating interview contained in the new special DVD edition of McLintock just released by Paramount Home Entertainment. O'Hara, now 85, also discusses her long friendship with Wayne and her role in this film as cattle Baron George Washington McLintock's estranged and domineering wife.

The movie, a raucous frontier reworking of Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew, is an anachronism by current standards -- breaking the rules of political correctness right and left. Indeed its screenwriter James Edward Grant once famously commented: "All you gotta have in a John Wayne picture is a hoity-toity dame with big tits that Duke can throw over his knee and spank, and a collection of jerks he can smash in the face every five minutes...."

But O'Hara makes no apologies about the spanking scene or the sequence where she is covered in mud. She makes it clear that she adored Wayne.

McLintock has never looked its best in previous DVD and VHS releases because of bad transfers. This time it looks excellent. It's also very good value, considering the special features, which include interviews with Powers and O'Hara, a biography of the Duke's producer son, Michael Wayne, and commentary featuring the voices of critic Leonard Maltin and film historian Frank Thompson.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Stefanie,
Happy birthday to you.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

'The King and I' - Louisville, KY

Stefanie Powers -- yes, the same actress who starred in TV's "Hart to Hart" and "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." -- plays "I" in the PNC Bank Broadway in Louisville touring production of "The King and I."

Powers' role as Anna the determined governess will be complemented by Ronobir Lahiri's role as the King of Siam.

The musical opens today and runs through Sunday at the Kentucky Center. It is filled with many memorable songs, including "Shall We Dance?" "Getting to Know You" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune."


'The King and I'
When: Performances will be at 8 p.m. today through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Center, Sixth and Main streets.
Admission: Tickets are $21.75 to $56.75. Call (502) 584-7777 or visit

Monday, October 31, 2005

Powers reveals what makes 'King' so special

Stefanie Powers, a Hollywood native best known as the co-star of the TV series "Hart to Hart," isn't interested in answering personal questions.

The auburn-haired singer, animal-lover and multilingual president of the Kenya-based William Holden Wildlife Foundation preferred in a recent interview to talk about the musical "The King and I."

Powers plays Anna, governess to the King of Siam's brood of children, in the national tour of the Oscar Hammerstein II-Richard Rodgers musical that opens Tuesday night at the Kentucky Center. Before signing on for the U.S. tour, Powers portrayed Anna on a national tour in the United Kingdom opposite New York actor Ronobir Lahiri, who also plays the King of Siam in this touring production.

"The King and I" first opened on Broadway in 1951 with Gertrude Lawrence as Anna and Yul Brynner as the titular king. It won five Tony Awards, including best musical. A 1956 film adaptation with Brynner and Deborah Kerr won an equal number of Academy Awards.

When she isn't on the road, Powers, who turns 63 on Wednesday, lives in Los Angeles or Kenya. The world traveler has visited Kentucky several times for the Kentucky Derby. She also appeared here with "Hart to Hart" co-star Robert Wagner in the play "Love Letters."

Recently, Powers spent about 20 minutes fielding questions from The Courier-Journal. Here is an edited version of that interview.

Do you have good memories of your past Louisville visits?

Oh, yes. Very positive. We look forward to that beautiful theater. It makes a big difference for us backstage.

Any idea how many interviews you've already given for "The King and I"?

Tons and tons. I don't know how many. You know, I did this in England. I don't know what you've read, but this play was a commission. Gertrude Lawrence was a great Broadway star and she was looking for a vehicle for herself. She bought the rights to the story and commissioned Rodgers and Hammerstein to write it. … The poor thing, she had cancer while they were developing it and died shortly after it opened on Broadway. In the meantime, they had discovered this virtual unknown, Yul Brynner, who did more than 4,000 performances of "The King and I" over his lifetime.

Have you ever been to Thailand yourself?

Many times.

What is special about this touring production?

This probably is the last time that a production of this size and quality -- and having received the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval from the Rogers and Hammerstein estate -- may be presented. We also have a particular cachet that makes this doubly unusual. This is directed by the woman (Baayork Lee) who as a child was the original Princess Ying Yaowlak, the youngest member of the cast. In addition, the choreographer (Susan Kikuchi) is the daughter of the original lead dancer, who was designated as keeper of the flame for Jerome Robbins' original choreography.

What are the defining traits of Anna in "The King and I"?

Mr. Hammerstein did an extraordinary job of research … and produced the archetypal Colonial British woman of that period. They were very specific. When I was asked to play this in England, I worked with an elocutionist from the National Theatre. … She was of Welsh parentage, born in the Far East. Her parents were in the foreign service and she was married to a British officer.

I live in a former British Colony, Kenya, and have spend a lot of time in former British colonies. … And I suppose that particular arrogance of the Empire was rather prevalent in the way they conducted themselves.

How did you prepare for the role?

The show went along with my curiosity about history. It was a happy marriage and I could intellectually adapt, but I also had to physically adapt. I had never sung operetta before so I worked with opera coaches. I have done lots of musicals but not in this register. I also worked on the posture and decorum of that time period and the ways in which she spoke. It was an interesting journey.

How does the U.S. tour compare with the English tour?

It is very different. This is a huge country and the distances are great. And the comedy (within the show) plays so much better in the United States because it was written by two Americans and it is part of the great American art form.

Is it true that you fluently speak seven languages, including Swahili, Mandarin Chinese and Polish?

I speak fluently about six. I have lost a lot of my Chinese because I don't spend time there.

What do you think is the most common misconception about you?

I don't know. I don't think about myself that much.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Orlando: Lacking any passion, production falls flat

Everybody of a certain age loves The King and I.

Just look at the gray-haired woman in front of me at the Carr Performing Arts Centre, where yet another tour of the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein II musical opened Tuesday night. As the orchestra starts to play the first notes of its introduction to "Shall We Dance?," this buttoned-up audience member can't contain herself: She claps in delight.

I know how she feels: "Shall We Dance?" is one of the great numbers in musical theater. But what we're responding to in this version of The King and I isn't on the stage at Carr. It's the ghost of the musical that was.

This particular tour of The King and I is audio-animatronic theater, paint-by-numbers theater -- the kind of theater that faithfully reproduces what you expect to see onstage but leaves out every ounce of the heart. If all you want is to hear somebody sing Rodgers and Hammerstein's glorious songs, this King and I might do for you. But if you want to feel the passion that percolates just below the surface of this beloved musical, you'd be better off renting the film.

You can't fault the handsome production, the scarlet and gold, peacock blue and emerald of the scenic design and the elegant silks of the costumes. Instead, blame the producers for trotting out TV actress Stefanie Powers, whose Anna comes across more as an aging neighbor, always chipper but slightly out of touch, rather than the 30ish governess she's supposed to be. And blame director Baayork Lee, who played one of the smallest children in the original King and I in 1951, when she was 5, but who treats the show like a trusty but not very interesting machine. It's Chevrolet theater, not Porsche.

It's hard to imagine the casting sessions that came up with Powers, who hit her heyday 25 years ago in the TV series Hart to Hart. Surely there are appropriate roles for an attractive actress in her early 60s, despite her quavery, Glynis Johns-like voice. But Anna Leonowens was not yet 30 when she went off to work for the king of Siam, and in the fictionalized version she had a young son in tow. In Orlando, Powers could be her stage son's grandmother -- more significantly, she could be the king of Siam's mother, or maybe his maiden aunt.

Yet age is less the problem than a lack of passion -- an offhand quality that runs all the way through. It's not just that Powers fails to connect with Ronobir Lahiri, the thirty- something actor who plays the king as a goofy, petulant boy. It's that Lun Tha (the handsome-voiced Martin Sola) fails to connect with his lover Tuptim (Nita Baxani), that the king barely connects with his son, Prince Chululongkorn, and that Anna barely connects with the kids.

With so many missed connections, it's a wonder Anna gets to Siam at all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Orlando: Powers is back and ready for a little 'Hart to Hart' with the king of Siam

Some performances of this classic musical benefit her wildlife charity in Kenya.

It's good to be king. It's better to be Stefanie Powers.

Powers is the "I" in the touring production of The King and I that opens tonight at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre; she's also the one who gets her name listed above the title in this production.

That's because Powers, 62, is someone you've heard of, very likely from the TV series Hart to Hart (1979-84) in which Powers and Robert Wagner played a jet-setting couple with a flair for solving crimes.

Powers -- real name Stefania Zofia Federkiewicz -- gets around in real life, too, with homes in Kenya, England and her native California. With this role, she follows in the footsteps of Gertrude Lawrence, Deborah Kerr, Celeste Holm, Angela Lansbury and even Marie Osmond. As Anna Leonowens, an English widow and mother of a young son, she travels to Bangkok in the 1860s to teach the numerous children of Siam's stubborn, proud ruler. Though Anna and the king frequently clash when she arrives, a mutual respect and unrequited love develops.

Question: So how long have you been touring in The King and I?

Powers: Since January. But I did it in England two years ago. I have not been around a lot in the United States. I was married to a Frenchman -- we have been divorced now -- and living outside the United States a great deal and doing a lot of work in Africa, as is my habit. It was a nice opportunity to work with the same actor [as the king] as I did in England, Ronobir Lahiri.

Q.: Musicals don't get much better than The King and I.

Powers: I think it's fair enough to say that Rodgers and Hammerstein are some of the best of the best [composers], and hardly anything they did did not have a wonderful female role. But I think this is the biggest and the best.

In actual fact, it was commissioned by Gertrude Lawrence as a vehicle for herself. She owned the rights to Anna and the King of Siam, which she then shopped around. When [Rodgers & Hammerstein] were interested in doing it, they joined forces. But poor Miss Lawrence was suffering from cancer and during the first six months of the play's run she died.

Q: The "Shall We Dance?" number is the stuff of a lot of little girls' fantasies -- Anna waltzing around with the king in that beautiful gown.

Powers: Do you know how much it weighs? Would you like to have it on? Oh my God. It's a monster of a costume. You are wearing pantaloons and everything underneath, and you have to have the corsetry to be able to hold up the skirt. It is probably much more fun to watch.

Q: Do you have a favorite number in the show?

Powers: My favorite number is not one that I do, but it's beautiful.

Q: Is it "Something Wonderful"?

Powers: Yes. That is the showstopper. Truly, it's a pleasure to be doing a play where you are not only privileged to do a work of such magnificence from start to finish but also to be bringing it to whatever new audiences we have, the children, certainly, and other people who somehow managed to miss it. . . . This is the great American art form.

Q: Have you been singing a long time?

Powers: I have been doing a lot of work in the theater in England. My first big break was as a dancer who would sing a little, but I can't get my leg up that high [anymore]!

Q: Some performances on this tour have benefited the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya, which you founded. Can you talk about what the foundation does?

Powers: The foundation works in concert with a game ranch. It was established to carry out the concept of backing up specific-animal preservation with education. On one hand, you can do the work of preserving the animals with captive-breeding programs, but if you don't educate people for the long term, the minute your back is turned, the animals will be gone. So the education part of it is crucial to any long-term preservation concept. I spend whatever time I can there.

Friday, October 21, 2005

TV on DVD By R.D. Heldenfels

I was not a fan of Hart to Hart when the romantic adventure ran on ABC from 1979 to 1984. But I enjoyed the audio commentary on the new DVD of Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season (Sony, premiere movie and 22 episodes, six discs, $49.95).

Executive producer Tom Mankiewicz and stars Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers offer a relaxed and conversational look at the show during commentary on the premiere. They joke about the plots and dialogue, offer up trivia (Sugar Ray Robinson was Wagner's first choice to play servant Max) and have such a good time, it makes the show seem better.

The DVD also includes a short feature on the making of the show.

Timeless musical comes to Strand

It's a timeless image. A woman dressed in a flowing hoop skirt being flung around a massive ballroom by a barefoot, bald, powerful man to the sounds of a symphony orchestra, the phrase "Shall we dance?" lingering on their lips.

For many fans of musical theater, "The King and I" resonates today as much as it did during the show's initial run in 1951. Now, more than half a century after the show first floored Broadway audiences, Myrtle Beach theater-goers have an opportunity to see this tale of cultural melding, gender clashes and the romance of mutual respect, tonight through Sunday at The Palace Theatre.

Stefanie Powers, known for her role as the saucy Jennifer Hart opposite Robert Wagner in "Hart to Hart," stars as Anna Leonowens, a British governess sent in the 1860s to educate the children of the King of Siam. "The show stands on its own as one of the most exceptional pieces of musical theater ever written," Powers said via phone from a tour stop in Florida. "One must consider these extraordinary pieces from the golden age of musical theater as a true American art form, rather than revivals. They are among the best stage pieces ever created."

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were revolutionaries in the world of musical theater, whose shows have exhibited unusual staying power in the fickle world of the stage. "Before 'Showboat' musicals were written around the songs, but Rodgers and Hammerstein came up with their own formula, writing the story first and associating the songs with the story points," said Gregory London, an assistant professor in Coastal Carolina University's Theater department. "Musicals before that were more like pastiches or comedy reviews where there would be a juggler, a dog act and some popular songs sung individually, true to the medium's burlesque origins."

And once Rodgers and Hammerstein's formula hit New York audiences, there was no turning back. "They had what was known as the 'RH' factor, and it was something that everyone wanted to emulate on Broadway," London said. "There was one time where Rodgers and Hammerstein had four musicals running at the same time on Broadway: 'The King and I,' 'Carousel,' 'Oklahoma' and 'South Pacific' were all hits all at the same time, truly a testament to their popularity. No other composing team has ever achieved that."

Far from fluffy fare, Rodgers and Hammerstein managed to address serious issues in their work. "The story of 'The King and I' is essentially about cultural imperialism," London said. "What do we do about a show that's primarily racist, a show that says you need to drop your own culture and customs and do exactly what the English white people tell you to do? It's a prime example of how British imperialism polluted many cultures."

As Leonowens begins to educate the children of the King in British manners, culture and language, she clashes with the no-nonsense monarch (a role made famous by the chrome-domed Yul Brynner). "Rodgers and Hammerstein were fantastic humanists and pre-feminists as well," London said. "They wrote very strong female characters like Anna Leonowens. But Anna has her flaws, also. Because the King is a non-white, non-English speaking person, she is much more assertive and aggressive. She would have had a much more difficult time standing up to the King of England."

But once a genuine admiration is established between them, both characters soften considerably. "There's a moment where Anna is dressing and the King spies her bare shoulder upon entering her room, which he finds very erotic," Powers said. "That signals a change in their relationship. Then, after the party that evening, as they relax and after she's had a few glasses of wine, an intimate mood is created."

The moment that follows is fraught with tension and ardor, though both characters do their best to contain it. Instead of leaping in to one another's arms, they release their passion in the whirlwind polka that accompanies the showstopper "Shall We Dance?" Powers and her co-star, Ronobir Lahiri, dazzle the audience with their spinning number, made more difficult by the fact that Powers' gown is an exact replica of the original that Gertrude Lawrence graced the stage in. The dress is six feet in diameter and weighs fourteen pounds.

The logistics of the rest of the show are tremendous as well. With more than 70 people in the cast, simply getting everyone to the next venue is a challenge. But director Baayork Lee, who played a princess in the original stage production with Lawrence and Brynner, has his hands full with this grand and technically formidable show. "Given the demands of the production and the expense of it, this may be the last time this show tours for many years," Powers said.

Powers believes the reason behind the show's longevity lies within the duo that created it. "The lyrics, the libretto, the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein is still timeless, even 50 years after its creation," Powers said. "You come out of the theater humming the tunes, and I don't know any show over the last 20 years that's done that."

Powers hopes to reach not only those who are longtime fans of the show, but younger people with less exposure to musical theater. "I think that what they need are positive theater experiences and good material to see," Powers said.

Myrtle Beach, SC - Stefanie Powers stars in 'The King and I' at Palace

The Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "The King And I," starring Stefanie Powers, is at 8 tonight; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday at The Palace Theatre at Broadway at the Beach.

The Tony Award-winning musical features ornate sets and costumes. Powers headlines this production featuring songs such as "Hello, Young Lovers," "I Whistle A Happy Tune," "Shall We Dance?" and "Getting To Know You."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

SPCA To Hold 3rd 'Top Hat & Tails' Gala

Briarcliff Manor, NY - The SPCA of Westchester will hold its exciting third annual Top Hat & Tails fundraiser this year on Saturday, November 19, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. at the Tarrytown House in Tarrytown, NY.

The elegant black-tie event, for humans and their canine companions, hopes to raise $250,000 to help support the SPCA’s life saving animal rescue programs including: cruelty investigations, shelter and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned dogs, cats and horses, low cost veterinary services and community outreach programs. The SPCA receives no federal, state, or county funds, and relies solely on the financial support of people who care about the welfare of animals.

The Trotta family of Mount Kisco will be honored at the event for their continued investment of time and funding to the SPCA. The family includes Bonnie, Tom, James and Johnny Trotta and their two dogs Chewy and Angel, along with Peter Guernsey, Katama and Jay Eastman and their children Merrill and Jack. They will receive the “John Beach Memorial Award,” named for John Beach, a 30-year SPCA Board member who passed away last April.

“I got involved with the SPCA because of John Beach,“ said Bonnie Trotta. “For John, it was an honor to be able to help the less fortunate. He cared and he gave, and he asked others to do the same. I am honored only to be trying to stay in his footsteps.”

With her prominent and generous parents as role models, Bonnie Trotta learned about philanthropy at an early age, and since became a volunteer and continued benefactor for local hospitals and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Westchester. Her husband Tom, who lost his parents at a young age, helped to support his siblings and ran several family businesses. He later became a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.

“Other than loving animals and having dogs, cats, chickens snakes, hamster, guinea pigs, fish and hermit crabs as pets, my biggest association with the SPCA is our dog, Rocky, that we adopted there,” added Ms. Trotta.

The “Top Hat and Tails” Gala will also feature noted "Horse Whisperer" Tim Hayes and his horse Austin, as well as pet photographer, Liza Marguilles, to capture a portrait of people and their pets. “It’s going to be a great evening of fun and entertainment for both two-legged and four-legged party goers,” said Shannon Laukhuf, Director of Development, “In fact, we’re not sure who enjoys the evening more – the people or their pets!”

The cocktail hour will be followed by a formal sit-down dinner for humans, doggie delicacies from Cleo's Barkery for canines, and both silent and live auctions with fabulous items such as exciting trips and excursions, golf outings, jewelry, fine dining gift certificates, and more. Flowers are being donated by Michael George of Hybrid.

Westchester’s favorite weatherman, Joe Rayo from News 12 Westchester will be the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

The honorary Celebrity Committee includes Catherine Crier, Stefanie Powers and Betty White. More than 50 volunteers work to make the event a success each year and many corporations lend their support as well.

“This year promises to be even more exciting than last year – it’s a special evening where people are able to share a gala evening with their best four-legged friends,” said Lisa Rockefeller, Benefit Event Committee Chair. “It’s also our biggest fundraising event of the year, and we’re hoping to exceed our goal so that we can continue to provide not only shelter for these animals, but also a safe haven from abusive situations.”

Individual tickets are $250 and sponsor tickets range from $1,000 for a “Patron” with two seats and special recognition in the Gala journal to $15,000 for a “Best in Show” with a table for 10 seats in the VIP section, full page color Gala journal ad, and logo on sponsor credit display. For more information on purchasing tickets, please call (914) 941-2894, ext. 19.

Founded in 1883, the SPCA of Westchester is a not-for-profit humane organization chartered as the primary animal cruelty prevention and intervention agency for Westchester County. Each year its agents investigate over 1,000 cases of suspected animal abuse, resulting in steps to correct the problem if evidence of cruelty is found.

Currently, the shelter is equipped to house over 150 dogs and cats, and its Simpson Spay/Neuter Clinic, offers low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations in an effort to help keep pets healthy. Each year the animal shelter adopts more than 800 homeless companion animals into loving new homes and reunites another 300 lost pets with their families. The SPCA never euthanizes an animal except in cases of terminal illness, extreme aggression or the inability to maintain a reasonable quality of life in a shelter environment.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hart to Hart - More Details and Artwork for Season 1

This is my boss: Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner); a self-made millionaire. He's quite a guy. This is Mrs. H. (Stefanie Powers) She's gorgeous. She's one lady who knows how to take care of herself. By the way, my name is Max (Lionel Stander). I take care of both of them - which ain't easy. 'Cause when they met, it was murder.

Created by bestselling novelist Sidney Sheldon, HART TO HART: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON stars Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a fabulously rich couple who always seems to become entangled in an exotic blend of mystery, intrigue and adventure. Accompanied by their loyal servant Max (Lionel Sander), the smart and sexy twosome jet set around the world, where they solve cases ranging from espionage to murder, in 22 breezy episodes that mix excitement and danger with just a dash of romance.

Sony announced last month, that Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season will be available for DVD on October 25th, 2005. Sony has now sent me more artwork for Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season. The back cover shows the below extras will be featured on the DVD:

* Commentary for Hart to Hart Pilot Episode

* Featurette: The Hart of Season One - Includes Interviews with Sidney Sheldon - Creator; Leonard Goldberg - Executive Producer; Tom Mankiewicz - Write/Director; Robert Wagner - "Jonathan Hart"; Stefanie Powers - "Jennifer Hart"

Hart to Hart - The Complete First Season is available for pre-order at Amazon, for only $34.96.

Tallahassee - Stefanie Powers a natural as charming Anna

Neither geographic distance nor the detachment of telephonic communication can mask the magnitude of actress Stefanie Powers' considerable charisma.

Speaking from her hotel room on the opposite coast recently, Powers held forth with eloquence, humor, passion and impeccable diction on the art of acting, the Golden Era of musical theater, the perils of living in a disposable society, her passion for wildlife conservation and her concern about the fate of the planet.

Powers is currently wowing audiences playing a character very much like herself - the outspoken, upright, intelligent, thoughtful, charming and deeply compassionate governess Anna in the touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved classic "The King & I." The show visits the Civic Center for a two-night run next week.

"'The King & I' comes from that glorious golden period of American theater when one could say the art form of musical theater was created," Powers said. "We must regard these works in the proper perspective, as pieces of classical American theater. They set the standard for what musical theater is all about."

There are few works in the music-theater canon as classic and beloved as those of Rodgers and Hammerstein. And "The King & I" is one of the most brilliant and emotionally alluring of the duo's collaborations.

"What is better than 'The King & I'?" Powers asked. "It's set in a very romantic time.... We've lost that by virtue of all this reality-TV junk fouling the airwaves. It's lowered our expectations of what romance should be."

Those most familiar with Powers through her role as glamorous, globe-trotting detective Jennifer Hart in the popular TV series "Hart to Hart" might be surprised by her fervor for musical theater. But the red-haired Renaissance woman began her professional career at the age of 15 as a dancer for legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins on the set of "West Side Story."

Powers went on to amass an impressive catalog of credits that includes feature films, television series, mini-series, stage productions and even home videos on horseback riding and exercise routines.

As comfortable as she is on stage and before the camera, one would think Powers was born to be an actress. Not so, she said.

"I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a child," Powers said. "It was a natural extension of my love for animals, and it was also inspired by the fact that my stepfather raised raceÂhorses. The vet would come every morning to the stables, and I decided that's what I wanted to do, too."

Nowadays, Powers' love of living creatures finds a powerful outlet in her work with the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, founded to honor the memory of the late actor who shared her life for nearly a decade before his death in 1981. Powers spends a significant portion of her time at the Mount Kenya Game Ranch, the foundation's wildlife sanctuary in Africa.

"We have an ongoing educational program in Kenya for the locals to familiarize them with the need for conservation and preservation and what that means to them personally in their everyday lives," Powers said. "These are people whose traditional lifestyle has come to an end. They're in transition between the tribal lifestyle and the modern age. The old ways of farming and patterns of behavior can no longer be sustained.

"We offer alternatives to destroying the habitats of animals and humans in rural areas. We are seeing results, but they're very subtle."


What: "The King & I," starring Stefanie Powers

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

Where: Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St.

Cost: $48, $42 and $32

Phone: 222-0400 or (800) 322-3602

Hart to Hart on DVD

Hart To Hart: The Complete First Season: The six-disc set has 23 episodes of Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as a crusading couple who defy danger and spark romance. Fullscreen with extras including a featurette.

A Hart to Hart Reunion

The Insider -

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

DVD: McLintock (Special Collector's Edition)

Product Details

Actors: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers, Jack Kruschen...
Directors: Andrew V. McLaglen
Format: color, widescreen
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount Home Video
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
Run Time: 127 min
DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English
Commentaries by Leonard Maltin, Frank Thompson, Maureen O'Hara, Stefanie Powers, Michael Pate, Michael Wayne and Andrew McLaglen
Special Introduction by Leonard Maltin
The Batjac Story: The Legacy of Michael Wayne
Maureen O'Hara and Stefanie Powers Remember McLintock!
A Good Ol' Fashion Fight
2 Minute Flight School
Wrap Up with Leonard Maltin
Corsets: Don't Leave Home Without It
Original Theatrical Trailer
Batjac Teaser

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Stefanie Powers Raises Funds for Hurricane-Affected Animals During King and I Tour

Actress and conservationist Stefanie Powers, who currently stars as Mrs. Anna in the national touring company of The King and I, has been using her nightly performances during the play’s run at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle to raise funds for organizations that are aiding the animals stranded and abandoned by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Joined onstage by her dog Bounce, Powers’ nightly post-show plea for Bounce’s “furry friends,” has netted an average of $2000 per show, which she will match dollar for dollar at the end of the Seattle engagement and present to Noah’s Wish and the American Humane Society.

Powers, who has long combined an acting career with her life-long and highly recognized work as a dedicated advocate for animals, will tour in The King and I until mid-November. She has previously appeared in an Australian production of Lady Windemere's Fan helmed by Sir Peter Hall and in stagings of Annie Get Your Gun, My Fair Lady, Applause and others. She also appeared on the West End in Love Letters opposite Robert Wagner, her co-star on "Hart to Hart."

As co-founder and president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation for its 20-plus year history, she has melded habitat conservation with animal preservation through an education program currently serving over 10,000 students a year in Kenya, making the late actor’s dream of education programs that reach out to Kenya’s population, particularly its children, a reality. She has collaborated on species survival projects here in the U.S. and in many other countries and is an advisor to Jaguar Motor Company’s jaguar conservation program as well as its parent Ford Motor Company’s efforts to save the wild mustang.

Some of Powers' TV work will soon be available on a forthcoming DVD release of “Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season,” including newly-filmed commentary. The DVD will be available October 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Reunited stars deliver on "The King and I" hits

Now playing

"The King and I," by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Tuesday through Oct. 9 at The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle; $19-$71 (206-292-ARTS or

Lavish and splendid in most respects, the 5th Avenue's production of "The King and I" benefits from reuniting the stars of a 2002 U.K. tour.

Ronobir Lahiri brings a slyly comic flair to the role of the king of 19th-century Siam; he's also capable of flashy tantrums when he doesn't get his way. Stefanie Powers, as the British schoolteacher hired to instruct his many children, is a strong match for him, especially when she's trying to get him to make good on his promises.

Lahiri turns the king's big culture-clash number, "A Puzzlement," into a genuinely poignant admission of vulnerability. Powers delivers the show's emotional high point with the irresistibly nostalgic "Hello, Young Lovers," then follows it up with a deliciously sarcastic version of "Shall I Tell You What I Think Of You?" When they collaborate on the rambunctious waltz, "Shall We Dance?" it seems as if they can do no wrong.

Susan Kikuchi's choreography, closely based on Jerome Robbins' original work, makes a showstopper of the show's play-within-a-play, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," which transforms the anti-slavery lessons of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" into something dangerously specific.

And the hits just keep on coming: "The March of the Siamese Children," with its melodic establishment of the pecking order in the palace; "Getting to Know You," in which the teacher bonds with her students; and "I Whistle a Happy Tune," in which she admits her fear of a foreign culture. The veteran director, Baayork Lee, is clearly as interested in characterizations as she is in the quality of the voices.

Catherine Mieun Choi, the king's head wife, turns "Something Wonderful," a song that can seem masochistic, into a hymn of forgiveness and devotion. On Friday, shrill miking compromised Nita Baxani's performance of her royalty-defying number, "My Lord and Master"; the sound improved later for her lovely version of "We Kiss in a Shadow."

The show got off to a shaky start with an opening scene afflicted by stilted stage business, but it improved quickly with the help of Kevin Farrell's vigorous musical supervision -- and some of the most gorgeous, eye-filling sets and costumes ever to complement the Oriental décor of the 5th Avenue.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The King and I Schedule

Sept. 20 - Oct. 9 - 5th Avenue Theater, Seattle, Washington
Oct. 18 - 19 - Civic Center, Tallahassee, FL
Oct. 21 - 23 - Palace Theatre, Myrtle Beach, SC
Oct. 25 - 30 - Carr Performing Arts Centre, Orlando, Florida
Nov. 1 - 6 - Kentucky Center for Performing Arts, Louisville, Kentucky
Nov. 8 - 13 - New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark, New Jersey

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Beloved 'King and I' characters, etcetera, etcetera, are back onstage at the 5th

It's been a while since a touring production of "The King and I" came through Seattle. One problem is that you need an exotic-looking leading man who can pass for an 1860s Siamese autocrat.

The late Yul Brynner was spectacularly successful in this role when the show opened on Broadway in 1951. And he starred in the 1956 film and in various stage revivals, including the road show that played Seattle some 20 years ago.

The late Rudolf Nureyev, best known as a sensational Soviet-turned-American ballet dancer, played the king in a touring production that came to Seattle in 1989.

The "King and I" that opens Thursday at the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre features in the title role Ronobir Lahiri, a New York actor with Bollywood ties.

The other character referred to in the title is played by film and TV veteran Stefanie Powers. She co-stars with Lahiri as Anna Leonowens, a Welsh widow who goes to Siam -- now known as Thailand -- to take a job in Bangkok as tutor to the polygamous King Mongkut's many children.

Leonowens was a real person. Margaret Langdon wrote a novel based on her journals. It was published in 1944.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

"The King and I" at the San Diego Civic Theatre

People have thrilled and swooned at the fictionalized story of Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam (now Thailand). But no incarnation of "The King and I" -- be it filmic or theatrical -- has ever been presented in Thailand. The reason: The Thai government believes the story is insulting to the memory of a revered king, as well as the Thai people, portraying them as childlike, coarse and simple.

The updated and nonmusical filmic production in 1999 called "Anna and the King," starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat, filled out the story and went a long way in correcting some of those portrayals of racism and British superiority. But the national touring production of the musical "The King and I," now playing at the Civic Theatre, strives to be true to the Rodgers and Hammerstein roots, which means a return to R&H's oversimplification and highly fictionalized pseudo-romantic comedy.

A bit of history: Anna Leonowens was most likely a bit player in King Mongkut's royal palace during the 1860s. She was the fourth in a series of English teachers, spent five years at court and left a year before the king died of malaria. She wrote two popular and, according to critics, wildly fictionalized accounts of her stay, elevating herself to status as royal adviser.

Enter Margaret Landon in 1944. Inspired by Leonowens' accounts, Landon writes the historical romance, "Anna and the King of Siam." The book, which took yet more fictional license, in turn inspired a 1946 film starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne. With four degrees of separation from the facts, Rodgers and Hammerstein musicalize the story, which opened on Broadway in 1951.

The R&H musical has at its core the suppressed romance between the king and Anna, a governess to his many children. It also addresses issues like feminism, slavery, political diplomacy and culture clashes.

And yet it presents a sometimes insulting depiction of the Siamese. It offers much unsophisticated humor based on mispronunciation and linguistic ridicule. Here is the overt ethnocentricity of a British elementary schoolteacher who shapes diplomatic policy and teaches the backwards Asian monarch to think and waltz like a European.

But overlook all that, as most audiences surely will, and the success of the production depends on the delicate depiction of Anna and King Mongkut’s relationship -- filled with much frustration but also mutual respect. He must be portrayed as a stubborn idealist, a man conflicted by ties to tradition and the pull toward modernity. He must be utterly aggravated by Anna’s willfulness and seeming disrespect, but also view her as a stimulating intellectual. And Anna must be a stimulating intellectual. She must be wise and warm beneath her frosty and proper exterior.

The touring production disappoints in this regard. Stefanie Powers and Ronobir Lahiri have little chemistry and less credibility in the roles of these two pivotal characters.

Powers has the icily proper Brit thing down, and she’s got stage presence. One of the most surprisingly ribald scenes is “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?” when her icy exterior is dropped in private. But Powers’ voice isn’t particularly strong or beautiful -- her limited range causes a quiver in the upper registers -- and she comes across a bit too much the schoolmarm biddy. The feminism seething beneath the surface feels quaint and feeble.

Lahiri plays up the humor (which often relies on the xenophobic overtones) in the role -- to the detriment of the drama. Lahiri’s overall depiction is almost a caricature, a one-dimensional buffoon. He displays neither the commanding presence of a king, nor the emotional complexity of a thinker and diplomat.

There are some redeeming qualities. The supporting cast is strong, especially Catherine Mieun Choi as the king’s No. 1 wife. Her acting is spot on and her mezzo-soprano voice is mesmerizing. Nita Baxani’s acting is a bit stiff as the king’s young, impetuous “gift bride” in love with another man, but her duets with Martin Sola as the illicit lover add some gravity and grace. Both carry big, powerful voices.Roger Kirk’s opulent costumes better re-create the splendor of the time and place than Kenneth Foy’s mostly two-dimensional but still effective sets.

Easily the highlight of the production is the interpretation of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” reimagined by the Siamese as “The Small House of Uncle Thomas.” Here choreographer Susan Kikuchi (with a big nod to Jerome Robbins) presents a sumptuous Thai folk opera -- incorporating dance, pantomime, music and storytelling –- that delights in every way.

This is a capable production that ultimately lacks heart because its two leads feel mismatched and unbelievable. When the show’s final tragedies occur, we shrug them off without a care and, at best, leave whistling a happy tune.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The King and I - Seattle

Rodgers & Hammerstein's THE KING AND I
September 20 - October 9, 2005
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on Anna And The King Of Siam by Margaret Landon

"Shall We Dance? On A Bright Cloud Of Music Shall We Fly"

East meets West in the timeless story of the autocratic King of Siam and Anna, the British governess he's hired to teach his many children. Based on the real-life adventures of Anna Leonowens, The King and I presents a fascinating clash of customs, as Anna's Western ways threaten the King's beliefs. But as the months pass, their battle of wills gives way to grudging admiration - and a tender love begins to bloom.

Set in the 1860s in the exotic city of Bangkok, this Tony Award-winning musical features ornate sets and lavish costumes. The dazzling Rodgers and Hammerstein score features such memorable songs as "Hello Young Lovers," "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Shall We Dance" and "Getting to Know You."

Stefanie Powers, star of stage, film and TV (Hart to Hart, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.), headlines this sumptuous new production.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Powers likes life on the road as Anna in 'The King and I'

"The King and I"
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Sept. 15; 7 p.m. Wednesday; 8 p.m. Sept. 16; 2 and 8 p.m. Sept. 17; 1 and 6 p.m. Sept. 18
Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, Third Avenue at B Street, San Diego
Tickets: $22-$60
Info: (619) 570-1100

Stefanie Powers may be better known for her long-running role on television's "Hart to Hart" for the past four years, but it's the stage role of Anna Leonowens in "The King and I" that has ruled her life.

The veteran actress starred as the fussy English schoolteacher in the West End production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and she is reprising the part this year in the U.S. national tour, which arrives in San Diego on Tuesday.

Set in 1860s Siam, the musical tells the story of the prickly relationship between the nation's progressive but stubborn king and the widowed teacher whom he hired to educate his many wives and children. Powers answered a few questions about the tour in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home last week.

Q: The tour has been receiving great reviews since it launched in January. To what do you attribute the success?

A: We've received the highest seal of approval from the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate, which feels great. I think our version of the show is probably as close to the original Broadway production as it can possibly be due in great part to two elements. Our director, Baayork Lee, played a princess in the original production with Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner. And Susan Kikuchi, our choreographer, is the daughter of the show's original lead dancer. They've worked very hard to re-create Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein's original intent.

Q: What kind of research did you do for the role of Anna?

A: I did a lot of research on both Anna's life and the history of the period. I've always been a student of history and I love the Far East and I used to have a home in Hong Kong. I'm fascinated with that period in history, the Industrial Revolution and the enlargement of the British empire.

Q: What about the role of Anna appeals to you?

Powers: It's a gift to perform her. If you like doing musical theater and you're a woman, then this part is about as good as it gets. When the producers decided to do a U.S. tour, they came to me and asked if I'd be interested. The deal was sealed when I was lucky enough to get the actor who had played the king with me in England, Ronobir Lahiri.

Q: Why do you like working with Ronobir?

A: He's a wonderful, generous actor, and there's such a fluidity in the way we work together. It's like a great tennis match when you know the person on the other side of the net will definitely lob the ball back to you.

Q: The musical calls for you to work with a lot of children onstage. Has that been a challenge?

A: The kids are wonderful. They're just a joy. They all tend to look upon me as Mrs. Anna and they look to me for leadership, so I always try to take them out on field trips in every city we visit.

Q: What kind of field trips?

A: I have another life in wildlife conservation and I have friends at all the zoos around the country, so I've taken them to zoos in every city we've visited. Of course, we're coming to the San Diego Zoo for a behind-the-scenes tour when we're down there.

Q: What's life like on the road?

A: Well, fortunately we've had a couple of months off this summer, but we start back up in San Diego. The road is all about packing and unpacking like a circus. It's hard but it's rewarding.

Q: When you're not touring, how else are you spending your time?

A: I'm the president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation. We have ongoing projects in East Africa and a sister organization, the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. We have breeding programs for 37 species. My baby is the education center where we serve 11,000 students a year. We're focused on wildlife conservation and alternatives to destruction of the habitat for animals and humans.

Q: Do you have any free time left for frivolous hobbies?

A: I guess my only frivolous activity is polo. I love my horses and I love visiting my homes in L.A., London and Kenya.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The King and I

Stefanie is heading for San Diego tomorrow to begin rehearsals for the next run of The King and I.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The King and I - Tallahassee, FL

OCT. 18-19: SUMPTUOUS SIAM: Radiant star of stage, TV and film Stefanie Powers stars in a lavish touring revival of the beloved musical "The King and I," which kicks off the Civic Center's 2005-06 Broadway Series in mid-October. You may remember Powers best as half of the wealthy, globe-trotting mystery-solving spouses of TV's "Hart to Hart." She's also a fervent supporter of wildlife preservation and heads a foundation named for her late lover, the actor William Holden.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

'Thin Man' movies released on DVD

I can't imagine a better life than the one lived on "Hart to Hart," a television series from 1979.

I mean, who wouldn't want to be Jonathan Hart (played by Robert Wagner)? You've got a dish of a wife played by Stefanie Powers, and you’ve got a gruff, stogie-chomping manservant played by Lionel Stander. In your free time, between fabulous parties and ski trips to the French Alps, you solve murders.

The only couple that ever had it better than Mr. and Mrs. Hart was Nick and Nora Charles in the "Thin Man" movies.

Nick and Nora, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy, were the prototypes for the Harts -- and they also would have drunk them under the table.

Powell and Loy made six "Thin Man" movies from 1934-1947, and now they're all together in a DVD box set full of gin-and-vermouth benders and rakish, screwball one-liners.

In the 1934 original, "The Thin Man," we learn that Powell’s character used to be a private detective. He gave it up to live the good life with his rich and sassy wife.

But when he bumps into a woman at the bar, she convinces him to look for her missing father -- an eccentric scientist/inventor.

Detective work follows, but it takes a back seat to Nick and Nora’s lightning-quick repartee. Even with their characters’ dueling hangovers, Powell and Loy still outpace the screwball banter of duos like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. They might be the best on-screen couple in Hollywood history.

While the 1934 original is the clear standout of the collection, the others have their charms. "After the Thin Man" (1936) stars a young Jimmy Stewart as a nice guy who isn't is as nice as he seems.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Kung Fu: The Complete Third Season on DVD

Kung Fu: The Complete Third Season will be available on DVD August 23, 2005.

Stefanie guest starred in the episode titled "Cry of the Night Beast."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hart to Hart - When This Show Came to DVD, It Was Murder! (Season 1 Announcement)

When people think of Sidney Sheldon, they think mainly of his thrilling novels (his 18th novel is due to hit the market next month). What surprises people is the number of film scripts and television epsiodes he's written...more than 200 of the latter. He also was the creator of two of the most popular sitcoms of all time: The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie. Those were from the '60s. In 1979, Sheldon turned his talents toward creating a TV show that was as full of thrills as his novels were. The result was a show originally called "Double Twist", but which came to broadcast as Hart to Hart.

Starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, it was a show in the murder mystery genre that had the very wealthy husband-and-wife team looking for clues and killers among the well-to-do. But that summary, while on-target, doesn't begin to describe the charm brought to the show by the wonderful relationship that Wagner and Powers had with each other. He was a self-made millionaire, with the strength and determination to see anything through. She was a former journalist, with a nose for finding clues. Always on hand to help was Lionel Stander as Max, their friend and servant with the gruff voice but could be trusted to be there in a pinch. First season guest stars include Dee Wallace, Markie Post, Rene Auberjonois, Tommy Lasorda, Noble Willingham, Juliet Mills, and John Hillerman.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bring out Hart to Hart - The Complete 1st Season on October 25th, on a 6-DVD set that runs 1139 minutes. List price is $49.95 SRP. Extras have not been announced by the studio yet, but Video Business reports that the set "contains all 23 episodes of the debut season, plus commentary and a featurette with cast and crew interviews." Here's the box art for you:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

McCloud Seasons 1 and 2

"There ya' go..." Rustle up some action and adventure as police drama McCloud rides on to DVD for the first time every! Emmy winner Dennis Weaver stars as the brace Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud, the toughest cowboy to ever take on the mean streets of New York - as well as the by-the-book detectives of the NYPD. Despite the demands of his strict supervisor, Chief Peter B. Clifford (J.D. Cannon), McCloud finds himself in an endless showdown with some of the meanest criminals east of the Mississippi. This amazing DVD set from the popular NBC Mystery Movie series features all 11 thrilling episodes of McCloud Seasons 1 and 2 - including the series' pilot! - as well as a gripping bonus episode of the popular McMillan & Wife. Saddle up with entertaining guest stars including Milton Berle, Pat Morita, Stefanie Powers and more in the series that proved that sometimes all you need to solve a crime is a little good ol' country know-how.

NJPAC Season to Include King, Evita, Cats, Chicago, Millie and More

Several award-winning musicals will be presented this season at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

The Center's 'Broadway' season begins Nov. 8 with the Tony-winning musical The King and I. Stefanie Powers stars as Anna Leonowens in the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which will play NJPAC through Nov. 13.

Another Tony-winning musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita will follow, playing Dec. 19-24. Evita, which follows the life and untimely death of Eva Peron, features such tunes as 'Buenos Aires,' 'I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You,' 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina,' 'Rainbow High' and 'High Flying Adored.'

The 25th anniversary tour of Cats will make its way to the Newark venue, playing Jan. 31, 2006-Feb. 5. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on the poems of T.S. Eliot, remains the longest-running show in Broadway history, although another Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera, will soon break that record.

John Kander and Fred Ebb's Chicago will follow Cats, playing March 28-April 2 at the Center's Prudential Hall. The revival of Chicago won six 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and features such show-stoppers as 'All That Jazz,' 'Cell Block Tango,' 'Nowadays' and 'Hot Honey Rag.'

The Broadway musical season at NJPAC concludes with the 2002 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. Millie Dillamount will tap her way onto the Prudential stage June 6-11.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is located at One Center Street in Newark, NJ. Tickets are available by calling (888) 466 5722. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hart DVD Announcement Imminent

I just read that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is expected to release details of the DVD set "Hart to Hart: The Complete First Season" on Monday, August 15, 2005, with a likely release date of October 25, 2005.

Details at present: It's a 6 disc box set, with a suggested price of $49.95.

Obviously, this is subject to change until the official announcement comes, but this sounds about right. Most on-line retailers sell below the suggested price, so don't be scared by that price tag if you don't want to spend that much on DVDs. I'm sure a lot of you would pay more than that, as Hart on DVD has been long awaited. No mention of extras - wait for the official announcement.

Friday, July 29, 2005

'70s Super Sleuths are Back in Action as Three Classic Shows From the NBC Mystery Movie Series Make Their DVD Debuts

McMillan & Wife: Season One
McCloud: Seasons One & Two
Columbo: The Complete Third Season
On the Case August 9, 2005 From Universal Studios Home Entertainment

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., July 29-- A newly installed San Francisco police commissioner and his eccentric but influential wife, a straight-shooting New Mexico cowboy galloping through Manhattan streets, a disheveled police lieutenant with a knack for asking the tough questions -- they don't make TV crime fighters like that any more! That's why this summer Universal Studios Home Entertainment is releasing the three original titles from NBC's classic Mystery Movie Series, McMillan & Wife: Season One, McCloud: Seasons One & Two and Columbo: The Complete Third Season, for the first time ever on DVD. These three NBC shows set a new bar making TV history by being the first to share the same time slot on a rotating basis. Each title is available to own for just $39.98 SRP.

McMillan & Wife: Season One

Starring Golden Globe® winner Rock Hudson and Emmy® nominee Susan Saint James, McMillan & Wife: Season One brings TV's beloved crime-solving couple back on the job. Join San Francisco Police Commissioner Stewart "Mac" McMillan and his quirky but clever wife Sally for 12 captivating TV hours (8 episodes) of the show's complete first season. Written by TV legend Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue," "Hill Street Blues") the series' first season features guest appearances by Stacey Keach ("Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), Emmy® winner Tyne Daly ("Cagney & Lacey") and James Wainright ("Magnum, P.I.").

McCloud: Seasons One & Two

Two-time Emmy® nominee Dennis Weaver stars as Deputy Marshall Sam McCloud, a county sheriff relocated to New York City whose rural ways of catching criminals -- often on horseback -- clash with the by-the-book police officers in the big city. Co-starring Della Reese ("Touched by an Angel"), Diana Muldaur ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"), Teri Garr ("Tootsie") and J.D. Cannon (Cool Hand Luke) with guest appearances by Stefanie Powers ("Hart to Hart"), Pat Morita ("Happy Days"), Milton Berle and more. Saddle up for all 11 hilarious and thrilling episodes of Seasons 1 and 2, including the pilot and a bonus episode of McMillan & Wife. A total of 16 TV hours of content! Produced by Glenn Larson, the prolific producer of such iconic television as Knight Rider, Quincy M.E. and Battlestar Galactica.

Columbo: The Third Season

Winner of the Emmy® for Outstanding Drama Series, Columbo: The Third Season stars the legendary Peter Falk in 15 TV hours (8 episodes) of mystery fun. Guest stars include Martin Sheen ("The West Wing"), Vincent Price (Laura, Edward Scissorhands), Jackie Cooper (Superman, "The Little Rascals"), Katey Sagal ("Married ... with Children"), Robert Culp ("I Spy"), Dana Elcar ("MacGyver") and country music legend Johnny Cash. In the third installment of this landmark series that launched an entire television genre, TV's most beloved gumshoe unravels a host of fascinating new mysteries. As a bonus, this two-disc set includes an episode of Mrs. Columbo, the TV show that starred Kate Mulgrew ("Star Trek: Voyager") as Lt. Columbo's crime-solving spouse!


McMillan & Wife: Season One

Attorney Stewart McMillan is the recently named commissioner of the San Francisco police department. With his pretty, but somewhat cooky wife Sally, his hard drinking housekeeper Mildred and his assistant, the slow witted Sgt. Charlie Enright, Mac manages to solve some of The City's most baffling crimes.

McCloud: Seasons One & Two

Sam McCloud is a Deputy U.S. Marshal from Taos, New Mexico who goes to New York to find an escaped criminal. When he falls for reporter Chris Coughlin (Diana Muldaur), she convinces her cousin, the deputy police commissioner, to put Sam on temporary duty with the NYPD. He's assigned to the detective bureau headed by Chief Peter B. Clifford (J.D. Cannon), who is less than thrilled with having McCloud under his command. Nonetheless, McCloud manages to track down killers, drug dealers and other big city criminals using a winning combination of modern police work and good ol' country know-how.

Columbo: The Complete Third Season

Lt. Columbo, a disheveled, cigar-chomping sleuth uses his appearance as an incompetent bumbler to lull murder suspects into a false sense of security. Despite this facade, Columbo is actually the shrewdest, most resourceful homicide detective in the LAPD. In every episode, he carefully and methodically pieces together the minutest clues leading to the true identity of the killer.

McMillan and Wife: Season One
Street Date: August 9, 2005
Pre-Order Close: July 5, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Price: $39.98 SRP
Selection Numbers: 28282
Running Time: 10 Hours 25 Minutes
Discs: 2
Layers: Dual/Dual (Double-Sided)
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33:1
Rating: Not rated
Technical Info: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono/Captions; Spanish subtitles

McCloud: Seasons One & Two
Street Date: August 9, 2005
Pre-Order Close: July 5, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Price: $39.98 SRP
Selection Numbers: 28247
Running Time: 15 Hours 45 Minutes
Discs: 3
Layers: 2 Dual/Dual (Double-Sided)
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33:1
Rating: Not rated
Technical Info: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono/Captions; Spanish subtitles

Columbo: The Third Season
Street Date: August 9, 2005
Pre-Order Close: July 5, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Price: $39.98 SRP
Selection Numbers: 28178
Running Time: 11 Hours 24 Minutes
Discs: 2
Layers: Dual/Dual (Double-Sided)
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame 1.33:1
Rating: Not rated
Technical Info: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono/Captions; Spanish subtitles

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Stefanie on ITV's This Morning in UK

Brian said: Stefanie was on This Morning here in the UK today. I just flicked through the channels when she was half way through her intervew. She was talking about pilates and how she keeps healthy and she told them that she was in the UK on her way to the US for the King and I tour.

At the end of the interview, Philip Schofield said that they did well to do an interview without mentioning Hart to Hart. They asked if she still saw RJ, and she told them that they had just recorded interviews to enhance the Hart to Hart DVD release and said that the first season would be released later this year. No new news, but good to see that the release is being mentioned on TV.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Celeb's book gets to point of Pilates

Powers Pilates

(Fireside Books, $16) by Stefanie Powers and Kathy Corey.

Sadly, there are two immediate marks against this book: It's yet another Pilates book being peddled by yet another celebrity. But don't be fooled by that unfortunate combination. It's actually good. It's concise, plainly written and free of jargon. It sticks with exercise and doesn't try to be an overall health and diet plan, which too often bogs down fitness books. Simple directions and straightforward pictures convey the positions. What's more, Powers looks great. In fact, she looks terrific in a way that not even surgery can produce.

If you have no idea who she is because her hit TV show "Hart to Hart" predates you, that's probably just as well. Powers and Corey wrote the book for women older than 50, focusing on flexibility, posture and alignment.

They divide the book into chapters setting up the program and then clearly outline the different types of exercises. You'll need no more than a mat and a towel. Finally, they suggest a gradual workout plan that you can work into your daily routine. Once you've accomplished this, they believe you can easily commit to a 20-minute daily stretching and maintenance program or switch easily to a full-blown 60-minute workout.

And because it is all presented so simply, you finish the book thinking you can actually do it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Stars coming out for Broadway in Louisville

Stefanie Powers, Mackenzie Phillips, Hal Linden and Maureen McGovern are among the big names headed to Louisville for PNC Bank Broadway in Louisville's 2005-06 season.

"The King & I"
(Nov. 1-6) -- Opposites attract and customs clash in this Rodgers and Hammerstein love story centered on the authoritarian King of Siam, who falls head over heels for a strong-willed governess.

The story is based on the real-life adventures of the English widow Anna Leonowens and the best-selling novel "Anna and the King of Siam." Stefanie Powers of "Hart to Hart" fame will take on the title role in this Tony Award-winning musical.

The King and I - Schedule

September 13 - 18 - Civic Theatre - San Diego, California
September 20 - October 9 - Fifth Avenue Theater - Seattle, Washington
October 25 - 30 - Carr Performing Arts Centre - Orlando, Florida
November 1 - 6 - Kentucky Center for Performing Arts - Louisville, Kentucky
November 8 - 13 - New Jersey Performing Arts Center - Newark, New Jersey

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Save the Mustangs

Hollywood comes to Hot Springs - Film star and animal rights activist Stefanie Powers shares horse stories with Dayton O. Hyde, owner of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, before a press conference announcing the "Save the Mustangs" program.

Save the Mustangs
Actress Stefanie Powers holds court at Sanctuary

HOT SPRINGS - On a flawless Black Hills day, with the pristine prairies and green hills in the background, a group of about 35 people from all walks of life converged upon the Wild Horse Sanctuary to begin a joint effort to save wild mustang herds from slaughter. Recent media attention has attracted Ford Motor Company, the makers of the popular Ford Mustang sports car, who have jumped on the bandwagon with film star and animal activist Stefanie Powers, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Take Pride in America to help save about 2,000 wild mustangs that currently face an uncertain future. "The Ford Mustang is America's iconic sports car and takes its inspiration from the wild mustang, a true icon of American freedom," said Ford's Chairman and CEO Bill Ford.

Last week 32 of the mustangs were delivered to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary ("WHS"), after being rescued from certain slaughter. While stressed from travel and compromised health, the horses were in stable condition and ready to meet the press Thursday, when the auto maker announced it will provide aid to save the mustang population. "The wild mustang embodies the passion, spirit and heritage that are an integral part of the American experience," said Bill Ford in the company's press release. "We felt compelled to do what we could to help preserve these beautiful, legendary animals," he said. The company was initially contacted by Powers, who learned of the animals' plight. Powers is well known for her work with animal preservation through the William Holden Wildlife Foundation.

To help provide a means for the public to contribute to the ongoing care of the horses in their new habitats, Ford has established the "Save the Mustangs" fund. Contributions to the program will be managed by Take Pride in America and are tax-deductible. Take Pride in America was created in 1985 to preserve and maintain American public lands and historical sites and has evolved to protect places and things that symbolize the American spirit. Through its Wild Horse and Burro Sponsorship Program, which offers a variety of sponsorship levels to assist wild horses that have been placed in holding facilities, Take Pride in America is heavily involved in the effort to preserve wild, free-roaming mustangs and burros.

"This is an example of government partnering with corporate America," said Jon Harmon of the Ford organization, as he introduced the various partners in the Save the Mustangs campaign, including Powers, who said, "we're all in collaboration. This is a good guy story." Powers, who epitomizes Hollywood glam with her movie star cowgirl attire, was every bit the lady on location. As beautiful and charming now as she was 20 years ago, Powers expressed great delight in the scenic attributes of the WHS. "It's so beautiful here," she said as she viewed the expanse of prairie and canyon from the visitors' center. Her love for animals was evident in her inquiries about local wildlife, especially wild turkey. In her opening address to the crowd, she said, "This is a positive answer to a dilemma we have right now of the rescue of these horses," who were in a separate corral enjoying sweet feed before being turned out to pasture. While some of the horses' ribs were showing, they did not appear too scraggly and, according to WHS's Hyde, "mustangs are always lean." The other 19 horses are under quarantine and are expected to arrive next week.

Wild horse lovers can learn more about the issue and can help support the cause by visiting