Saturday, April 30, 2005

Book fest debut ups Valley's IQ

Palm Springs is becoming quite the literary hot spot. An eclectic array of authors journey out to the desert on what seems like a weekly basis.

Credit Chris Johnson and Charles Lago, owners of Peppertree Bookstore, for contributing - on a grand scale - to this phenomenon.

In April, Peppertree Bookstore sponsored the first ever Palm Springs Book Festival, replete with high profile panelists and C-SPAN coverage.

The one day festival, held at Frances Stephens Park, included more than 90 writers, panel discussions and book signings. A sampling:

John Dean ("Worse than Watergate") and Susan McDougal ("The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk") debated the merits of creating a new political party in our nation.

Amber Frey ("Witness for the Prosecution") and attorney Gloria Allred appeared together on a panel discussion about the Scott Peterson case.

Peppertree Bookstore hosts book signings throughout the year, from the controversial (Radio show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger) to the comfortable and familiar (Barbara Taylor Bradford).

As a matter of fact, just yesterday, Stefanie Powers (of "Hart to Hart" fame) was in town signing her new book.

Keep those great authors and personalities coming to town, guys. A well-read community is an enlightened community.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Kung Fu - The Original Show's Final Season is Announced For DVD

This 4-DVD set will arrive on August 23rd, running 1221 minutes for all 24 third-season episodes featuring Kwai Chang Caine's journey through the Old West. Look for a lot of recognizable faces among the guest stars, including Stefanie Powers, John Vernon, Sondra Locke, Ken Swofford, Patricia Neal, Eddie Albert, Barbara Hershey, Wilford Brimley, Jose Feliciano, John Carradine, Leslie Nielsen, and some guy named William Shatner.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

ASCAP Honors Top Film and Television Composers at 20th Annual Awards Celebration

Mark Snow Receives The ASCAP Golden Note Award; Special Celebration Marks the Centennial of Legendary Songwriter and Composer Harold Arlen

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) presented its Henry Mancini Award to John Debney and its Golden Note Award to Mark Snow at the 20th Annual ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards gala held on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. In addition to honoring Debney and Snow, ASCAP honored the composers of the biggest box office film music and the most performed television music of 2004, and celebrated the Centennial of legendary songwriter and composer Harold Arlen. Over 750 members of the music industry elite attended the event, which was hosted by Academy-Award winning lyricist and President and Chairman of ASCAP, Marilyn Bergman.

One of the many highlights of the evening was the presentation of the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award to Academy-Award nominee and three-time Emmy winner John Debney in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to the music of film and television.

Debney is one of the most sought after composers in Hollywood and has proven his versatility with over 50 feature films to his credit, encompassing a wide variety of box office hits, including Bruce Almighty, Elf, Raising Helen, The Princess Diaries, his most critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated score The Passion of The Christ, and current releases The Pacifier and Sin City.

Director, actor and choreographer Adam Shankman, who collaborated with Debney on the recent hit The Pacifier, joined Marilyn Bergman on stage to present the award to Debney, who is the youngest composer to receive this honor.

Past recipients of the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award include Quincy Jones, Michel Legrand, Johnny Mandel, Randy Newman, James Newton Howard, Howard Shore, Alan Silvestri, and Hans Zimmer.

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the ASCAP Golden Note Award to Mark Snow in recognition of his unprecedented success over the past twenty years as one of the most versatile and popular composers in television and film.

Snow's status as one of today's most innovative and successful film and television composers is only the latest element of a far-reaching and eclectic career in music. The award-winning and Julliard-trained musician, best known for his theme and scores for the X-Files and Millennium, has composed music for hundreds of TV-movies and television series including The Twilight Zone, Cagney & Lacey, Hart to Hart, Starsky & Hutch, The Guardian and Smallville.

On hand to pay tribute to Snow were producer, director and writer Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, Millennium, Harsh Realm), Hart To Hart co-star and star of a new theatre production of The King & I, Stefanie Powers, and Debney's sister-in-law and co-star of the long-running TV hit, Cagney and Lacey, Tyne Daly.

Snow has received awards every year at the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards since their inception in 1986, and now joins a select group of songwriters and composers who have received the ASCAP Golden Note Award including Stevie Wonder, Andre Previn, Jay-Z, Garth Brooks, Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, Jose Feliciano, Alan Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Elton John and Tom Petty.

The evening also celebrated the Centennial of legendary songwriter and composer Harold Arlen with the special presentation of a commemorative plaque to Arlen's son, Sam, and Sam's wife Joan. As part of the celebration, Sam, a saxophonist who has recently released a CD entitled Arlen Plays Arlen, performed one of his father's classic hits, "Stormy Weather." Sam and Joan recently established a scholarship through The ASCAP Foundation to help further the careers of composers and songwriters in both film and television music and musical theatre.

Arlen was a distinguished member of ASCAP for 56 years, and served on the Board of Directors from 1969 to 1975. As one of the most significant songwriters of the modern era, Harold Arlen composed such memorable tunes as "Over the Rainbow," "Stormy Weather," "It's Only a Paper Moon," "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues," "A Sleepin' Bee," and "Come Rain Or Come Shine." During his extraordinary career, Harold collaborated with such celebrated lyricists as Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, Ted Koehler, Dorothy Fields and Truman Capote, creating true classics that have been recorded by every major artist - and today are among the best-known songs in the world.

ASCAP also presented awards in four categories -- Most Performed Themes, Most Performed Underscore, Top Television Series, and Top Box Office Films -- to several veteran film and television music composers as well as to the best and brightest of a new generation of writers. ASCAP composers in attendance included Jack Allocco, Marco Beltrami, Jeff Cardoni, Frank Catanzara, Dan Foliart, Grant Geissmn, Michael Giacchino, Jeff Gibbs, Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, David Kurtz, Russ Landau, Michael Levine, Rick Marotta, Gregor Narholtz (GEMA), Atli Ovarsson, Michael Skloff, Alan Silvestri, and David Vanacore.

For a complete list of winners please visit


Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading Performing Rights Organization in the U.S., representing the world's largest repertory which totals over 8 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 200,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members. Additionally, ASCAP represents the works in the repertories of 70 affiliated foreign performing rights organizations created by many thousand affiliated international members. ASCAP is committed to protecting the rights of its members by licensing and collecting royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted works, and then distributing these fees to the Society's members based on performances. Unlike the other American Performing Rights Organizations, ASCAP's Board of Directors is made up solely of writers and publishers, elected by the membership every two years.

Powers Pilates: Actress to have local book signing

'Hart to Hart' actress and activist adds author to her list of accomplishments

There's never a dull moment in actress Stefanie Powers' world.

She travels regularly and has homes in Los Angeles, England and Africa.

An animal lover and philanthropist, she is also president of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation, a public charity dedicated to the preservation of animals.

During a recent phone interview from her Southern California home, Powers shushes her parrot Papuga.

"I'm always saying, 'Quiet' or 'Down' to someone," she jokes. (She also owns seven dogs.)

Powers has appeared in 28 feature films and numerous theatrical productions, most recently, a national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I."

Most recognized from her starring role as Jennifer Hart in the 1980s hit TV show "Hart to Hart," Powers can now add author to her lengthy list of accomplishments.

Powers will be in Palm Springs today and tomorrow to promote her book "Powers Pilates: Stefanie Powers' Guide to Longevity and Well-Being Through Pilates." From 6 to 8 tonight, she will sign books at the Peppertree Bookstore booth at VillageFest Street Fair in downtown Palm Springs.

Tomorrow at 7 p.m., Powers will be at the bookstore for a more in-depth conversation.

In the book, Powers steers readers away from the notion that Pilates is a mere exercise fad.

"It's a way of life," she said.

With the assistance of Kathy Corey, a Pilates instructor since 1979, Powers lends her name and experience to the mind/body therapy first created by Joseph Pilates during World War I.

Powers attributes the practice to keeping her young and healthy.

"We do know that we are going to be living longer lives. With that knowledge, one would be foolish not to take the opportunity of taking care of oneself," she said.

At 62, Powers makes the time to stay healthy. Since the 1960s, she has incorporated the Pilates exercise into her fitness regimen.

"I don't like to call Pilates work or exercise. I like to call it body therapy. This is anything but no pain, no gain," Powers said.

Pilates promotes flexibility, balance and execution of movement, she said.

"As a dancer, it made more sense to me than any other physical fitness approach to body control," Powers said.

A fan and friend of Mari Winsor, creator of the popular video workout series Winsor Pilates, Powers works out with the tapes.

"But I know what I'm doing," she said. "For most people who don't know how to connect to their body, they don't know what they are suppose to be feeling," she said.

That's what her book is about. "Powers Pilates" explains the mind-body connection, proper breathing techniques and how to create strength without stressing the body.

"You can keep referring to the book. It's much easier than rewinding the DVD," Powers said.

With step-by-step photos, the book guides readers through Pilates basics, warm-ups, towel exercises, mat and floor work. There is also a section dedicated to more advanced movements.

Throughout her successful Hollywood career, Powers has remained loyal to Pilates. As she says in the book, "the only good exercise is the one you do."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ASCAP, Celebrities Honor Legendary Film Composers This Wednesday


Who: Academy Award nominated composer John Debney ('Sin City,' 'The Passion of the Christ') and legendary Film & TV composer Mark Snow ('Hart to Hart,' 'Starsky & Hutch,' 'The X-Files,' 'Smallville'). With appearances by: Mel Gibson, Stefanie Powers, Tyne Daily, Garry Marshall, Chris Carter, Adam Shankman, Frank Spotnik, Tom Shadyac and more.

What: The American Society of Composers and Publishers presents its distinguished Henry Mancini Award to Academy Award-nominated John Debney and its prestigious Golden Note award to Mark Snow, one of the most prolific contemporary composers working today at the 20th Annual ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards gala.

When: Wednesday, April 27, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

Why: The coveted Henry Mancini Award recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions to the world of film and television music. Only in his 40s, Debney is the youngest recipient ever to have his body of work honored so early in his career with this award. Debney's work can be heard in the Academy Award-nominated score to 'The Passion of the Christ,' as well as Vin Diesel's comedy, 'The Pacifier,' Robert Rodriguez' 'Sin City,' and Disney's 'Chicken Little.' His previous films include as 'Elf,' 'Bruce Almighty,' 'The Scorpion King' and 'Spy Kids (1 & 2).'

The Golden Note award is presented to songwriters and composers who have achieved extraordinary milestones in their careers. Mark Snow is the first Film/TV composer to join the ranks of previous recipients including Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Elton John, Tom Petty, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, Jay-Z, Jose Feliciano, Alan Jackson and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Snow's work is heard on the USA Network's new 'Kojak' series starring Ving Rhames. Winner of the 'Most Performed Background Music on Television' award seven years running, his work is heard on 'Smallville,' 'One Tree Hill,' 'The X-Files,' 'Starsky and Hutch,' 'Hart to Hart,' 'TJ Hooker' and 'Cagney and Lacey,' to name a few."

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Upcoming book events in Palm Springs, CA

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Stefanie Powers will sign and discuss "Powers Pilates: Stefanie Powers' Guide to Longevity and Well-Being Through Pilates" 6-8 p.m. Peppertree Bookstore & Cafe, 622 North Palm Canyon, Palm Springs, California.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Columbia Trying 'Experiment' with Edwards Thriller

Columbia Pictures is planning a remake of Blake Edwards' 1962 thriller "Experiment in Terror."

Screenwriter Robert Pucci ("The Corruptor," "The Spider and the Fly") has been hired to pen the script for producers Lou Pitt and Matt Baer, with Edwards serving as executive producer.

The original "Experiment," directed by Edwards and starring Lee Remick, Glenn Ford and Stefanie Powers, was set in San Francisco and based on the novel "Operation Terror" by Gordon Gordon and Mildred Gordon, who together adapted it for the screen. It told the story of a woman (Remick) who is terrorized by a criminal using her to help him steal money from the bank where she works, threatening to kill her teenage sister (Powers) if she doesn't comply. She enlists the aid of an FBI agent (Ford) to thwart the criminal.

"When people think of my movies, they tend to think of comedies, but the thriller has always been one of my favorite genres, and I'm thrilled to be working with Columbia on this new take on one of my favorite films," Edwards said.

"Blake Edwards is a living legend, and we're excited to be working with him, Lou Pitt and Matt Baer as we contemporize 'Experiment in Terror,"' said Doug Belgrad, a president of production at Columbia.

No casting has been set for the project.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rarely Seen John Wayne Films Coming to DVD

McLintock! (1963)

Wayne stars as cattle rancher George Washington McLintock who spars with his wife (Maureen O’Hara), their daughter (Stefanie Powers) and the greedy land-grabbers in this hilarious western comedy.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Orlando: A not-so-spicy season for Broadway series

The 2005-06 lineup includes some fan favorites, but it reflects the general shortage of new musicals.

2005-06 Broadway in Orlando season

# The King and I, Oct. 25-30.

# The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Dec. 9-31.

# Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jan. 10-15, 2006.

# Movin' Out, Feb. 21-26, 2006.

# Mamma Mia!, May 23-28, 2006.

When you think theater, do you think the Radio City Rockettes?

If you don't, you'd better adjust your thinking because 22 Rockettes, three sheep, two camels and a donkey will highlight the SunTrust Broadway in Orlando series for 2005-2006.

Four weeks of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular will headline the series, which otherwise will be marked mainly by big-budget musicals that have played in Orlando any number of times.

The reason, the series presenter says, is that Orlando is a couple of years behind more successful markets.

"We're not on the A list," says Ron Legler, executive director of the Florida Theatrical Association, which presents the Broadway series.

While Fort Lauderdale and Tampa will see a tour of the Broadway smash Wicked and this season's new musical Little Women, Orlando's season will feature only one show that is still playing on Broadway, Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel's 2002 dance musical Movin' Out.

The rest of the Orlando season will include The King and I, most recently part of the Broadway series in 1998; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, last seen at Carr Performing Arts Centre in 1995; and Mamma Mia!, which was here in the spring of 2004.

While most of the season lineup may seem old hat, it reflects a problem that plagues the theater industry as a whole -- the shortage of new musicals both on Broadway and on the road.

By the end of the current season, for instance, about a dozen new musicals will have opened on Broadway. But only two -- Spamalot and the upcoming 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which is transferring from off-Broadway -- seem likely to be unqualified successes.

Of the new musicals on Broadway last year, only three -- the puppet musical Avenue Q, the Hugh Jackman vehicle The Boy From Oz and Wicked -- were popular enough to be likely touring shows. But Avenue Q is going straight to a permanent home in Las Vegas, and The Boy From Oz, minus Jackman, isn't touring. Only Wicked is available for road presenters to book.

All of which makes it difficult when presenters in Orlando or New Orleans or Cincinnati are trying to put together a season schedule that will draw audiences.

"It's very difficult, especially in a year when Broadway didn't produce a lot," Legler says.

To make matters more difficult, Orlando's Carr Performing Arts Centre, built in the 1920s and renovated in the 1970s, cannot compete with newer, state-of-the-art facilities. Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts, built in 1991, opened its doors with the first engagement of the Phantom of the Opera tour, which didn't come to Orlando until 1995. And Fort Lauderdale has enough season-ticket buyers to book two full weeks of every touring show -- a savings for producers that makes them look to the Broward Center first.

In Tampa, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center presents and even produces shows (rather than just renting out space like the city-owned Carr) so its staff can adjust the schedule to get the most promising tours. The largest performing-arts center complex in the Southeast, the Tampa Bay Center has four stages and "a constant flow of life in it," Legler says. So it's a popular destination for audiences no matter what's going on.

But even though Orlando isn't on the A list, Legler says there are attractions to look forward to among next season's offerings. Movin' Out, which sets Joel's hits to Tharp's choreography, has been a critical and popular hit. Mamma Mia! did so well here in the spring of 2004 -- selling out to subscribers and groups before other individuals had a chance to buy tickets -- that he feels compelled to bring it to town again.

And The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which sold out its engagement in Tampa, is expected to play to 110,000 people in Orlando and have a $15-million economic impact.

Certainly the names associated with a couple of the upcoming shows -- Patrick Cassidy in Joseph and Stefanie Powers in The King and I -- will draw their fans to Carr. Cassidy recently starred on Broadway in 42nd Street and Aida, and Powers is remembered for her long-running TV hit Hart to Hart.

Legler says he cut the coming season back from six shows to five so that he wouldn't have to book something Orlando audiences might not like. Other cities have scheduled runs of a show called On the Record, a revue of Disney songs through the years. But Legler doesn't think such a show, which has been poorly received elsewhere, would appeal to Orlandoans.

"If our audience wants to hear 'It's a Small World,' they'll go to the theme park," he says.

But the scarcity of new musicals isn't expected to affect Orlando for long. Product may be sparse next season, but the 2006-07 season already looks promising for Legler's box office. Both Wicked and The Lion King are finally headed our way -- only nine years after the latter opened on Broadway.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Uninspired leads taint 'The King & I'

Evidence of the musical's choreographer was apparent only after intermission.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I" opened for a two-week engagement at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood on Tuesday April 5, offering uninspired and even insulting lead performances, with the show saved only by a truly delightful supporting cast.

Set in 1860s Bangkok, Thailand, "The King and I" tells the true story of the well-meaning King of Siam and an English governess, both determined to rule their corner of the world.

It's virtually impossible to escape the noble shadow of Yul Brynner, whose film portrayal of the King as a stubborn idealist whose dreams are shattered by his own barely acknowledged frailty still resonates from the screen today. Brynner gave his King such gravitas that his scripted Pidgin English was somehow extremely powerful.

In the version currently at the Pantages, however, the King is not stubborn; he's downright capricious. Ronobir Lahiri transformed the role into a one-dimensional punch line at best.

Once past the script's racist overtones that he plays up like mad, Lahiri was actually funny. He delivered comic lines with a Spock-like eyebrow and threw tantrums like a mad child.

Good for humor, bad for drama.

Drama matters in "The King and I." Throughout the play, the King struggles internally. How can he protect his country against Burma, England and the world? He worries about alliances, about militaries, about social justice ... and at the same time, falls in love with this stubborn, frustrating Englishwoman!

Stefanie Powers (star of the early '80s TV hit, "Hart to Hart") recently received much acclaim for several tours as English governess Anna Leonowens. Unfortunately, she earned no praise for her one-note performance Tuesday night.

With a singing voice only marginally better than Lahiri's straining low tenor, Powers struggled repeatedly with some of the show's best music. The higher the notes, the more her tone resembled anger rather than love.

Always the proper British marm, Powers presented an Anna largely lacking in human warmth. When did she fall in love? Apparently only at the end, when the drama was suddenly ramped up by the leads in a desperate attempt at relevancy.

In the story, Anna fights to earn respect from the King, raise her son and understand the strange world she finds herself in. Anna's conflict is made difficult by an oversimplified script (R&H weren't perfect), but it is still a very complex role, which Powers painted with only broad strokes.

In the face of such disappointments, the audience happily turned to "something wonderful" in the supporting cast. The King's first wife, played admirably by Catherine Mieun Choi, sang a beautiful keynote "Something Wonderful." Sadly, her well-wrought emotions fell flat in the face of a less-than-wonderful King.

The crown prince, played by an emphatic and exciting Lou Castro, led a cast of incredibly cute children who stole the scene time and again. And Hal Davis (Captain Orton/Sir Edward Ramsay) brought a much-needed steady hand and the experience of more than 60 professional productions to the stage.

In the supporting love story, Michelle Liu Coughlin (Tuptim) ravished the audience. Clearly holding back in a desperate attempt to not outshine the leads, Coughlin's powerhouse voice clearly needed no help to fill the golden halls of the Pantages.

Perhaps the show's problems stemmed from its static directing, which left nearly every song and major acting moment completely unmoving. When choreographer Susan Kikuchi finally stepped in shortly after intermission, the supporting cast presented a spectacular "Small House of Uncle Thomas." Bright costumes, brilliant dancing and delightful characterization - this interlude was the highlight of the night and is not to be missed.

In the end, the tragedy of this "The King and I" sits empty in the heart. A silly King's death is surprising, but not sorrowful. He was too simple to be mourn, and his lover too distant to feel for. Perhaps they'll both warm up to human temperatures in the two weeks they have left on the stage in Los Angeles.


"The King & I" runs April 5 to 17, Tuesday to Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd. Tickets range from $42.50 to $67.50 and can be purchased online at or through Ticketmaster.

Book: "Fearless Women, Mid-Life Portraits"

Aged pop princess Joni Mitchell says Vineyard troubadour James Taylor was the best lover she ever had. So good, in fact, that Joni's now celibate!

``She had quite a succession of men back in the day,'' said former Channel 4 producer Nancy Alspaugh, who includes Joni in her new book, ``Fearless Women, Mid-Life Portraits.''

``In the '70s, she was with Graham Nash, David Crosby and James Taylor but she said James Taylor was the best. Just the best.''

Well! Hats off to Kim Smedvig, the Boston Symphony Orchestra spokesgal who married Sweet Baby James a few years back.

Mitchell, now 62, chain smokes and doesn't sing anymore, Alspaugh reports. The ``Big Yellow Taxi'' gal paints full-time and has also given up on sex.

``She's an amazing woman,'' Alspaugh said. ``She's still beautiful. But she wrote `Both Sides Now' when she was in her 20s. She looked at love from both sides even back then and says she's done with that. She said she loves this age because of the sense of freedom. She said `The only person I have to answer to is me.' ''

Mitchell is one of 49 women profiled in Alspaugh's book, which she co-wrote with Marilyn Kentz, whom you may remember from her talk show, which Alspaugh produced. Or``The Mommies,'' the short-lived NBC sitcom she did with her real-life neighbor, Caryl Kristensen.

Alspaugh, who produced ``Evening Magazine'' for WBZ and was formerly married to ``Today'' show stud Matt Lauer, was in town yesterday to promote the new tome.

``I love Boston and I love seeing everyone,'' she said.

Last night, she was reunited with her old ``Evening'' co-hosts Barry Nolan and Sara Edwards when she did their new show on CN8. ``It was like old home week,'' she joked.
Some of the other women in her book include actresses Stefanie Powers, who would not reveal her age, and Cybill Shepherd, who traveled with a posse that included a guy whose job it was to change the music on a boom box whenever Cybill pointed at him.

``She was the most divaesque,'' Nancy laughed.

Alspaugh's doing the ``Today'' show with her ex-hubby on April 25 (although Katie Couric will likely do the interview honors) and hopes to return to Boston soon with a stage show she and Marilyn devised called ``Boomer Babes.''

File under: Fearless Factor.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Tenth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Set for April 23-24 at UCLA

LOS ANGELES, April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of the country's best-selling authors will engage thousands of Southern California book lovers with millions of words at the 10th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which will be held Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24, on the UCLA campus.

Festival hours are Saturday 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Sen. Bob Graham and Stefanie Powers are among the recent additions to the line-up of literary luminaries who will be part of the Festival. Others who are scheduled to appear are Madeleine Albright, Jason Alexander, Tariq Ali, Ray Bradbury, Stephen Cannell, Carol Higgins Clark, Mary Higgins Clark, Eoin Colfer, Robert Crais, John W. Dean, Frank Deford, Jared Diamond, Sir Harold Evans, Carrie Fisher, Sue Grafton, Tony Hillerman, Arianna Huffington, Eric Idle, Pico Iyer, Ron Kovic, Sanoe Lake, Phil Lesh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Richard Matheson, James McCourt, Walter Mosley, Carol Muske-Dukes, Lynda Obst, P.J. O'Rourke, T. Jefferson Parker, Anne Perry, Sally Ride, Carl Reiner, Asne Seierstad, Maria Shriver, Jane Smiley, Alexander McCall Smith, Hector Tobar, Colm Toibin, Jack Welch, Rosemary Wells and Amy Wilentz.

Admission is free, but tickets are required to attend author/panel discussions and lectures because of limited seating. Free tickets will be available at all Ticketmaster locations in Southern California starting Sunday, April 17, at noon until Thursday, April 21, at 5 p.m. A limited number of tickets are distributed on-site during the Festival.

General event information about the Festival, including a list of authors and panels, is available at The Festival program will be published as a special section in the Sunday, April 17 edition of the Los Angeles Times. Information is also available by calling 1-800-LA TIMES, ext. 7BOOK.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Aermy Archerd: 04/11/05

... In L.A. Sunday, we caught Stefanie Powers and the terrif company of "The King And I" at the Pantages." She started in London and has worked her way here as the company in the classic is winding down its final week. She is sad that the Japan date was KO'd. But she's hopeful a U.S. return will materialize in the fall. Meanwhile, she heads to Poland to star in a docudocu on the Mazowia Polish Folk Ballet Company for PBS. "I'm Polish," she said, "and speak Polish." She then heads to Africa and her continuing work on the William Holden Wildlife Foundation.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Long Live "The King and I"

In the dark ages before feminism and women’s studies, there was a phenomenon known as the strong woman. Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall and Deborah Kerr, for example, were able to stand up to a man and not cave, maintaining an edge yet retaining their warmth, charm, femininity, sexuality and ability to love. There’s still much to be learned from such a woman, and Stefanie Powers has brought all these qualities to her portrayal of Anna Leonowens, in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "The King & I." Based on a real-life woman of the 1860s, Anna was first depicted in the 1944 novel, "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon. The recently widowed Anna comes with her son Louis (Patrick Minor) from England to teach the children of the barbaric King of Siam (Ronobir Lahiri). Restricted to the palace quarters and treated initially much like the King’s other servants, Anna is anything but compliant. She teaches the children, and in the process, the King, but fights him every step of the way, eventually getting him to change his tactics by breaking through to his heart. In the process, she sings lyrics such as, "I do not like polygamy, or even moderate bigamy. I realize that in your eyes, that clearly makes a prig of me." Touching upon these issues, along with slavery, East vs. West, imperialism, male vs. female, and repressed love, indeed, there’s still a lot to be learned from a 1951 musical.

The music (directed by Kevin Farrell and conducted by Kep Kaeppeler), familiar to most theatergoers (though perhaps novel to "American Idol" judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson who berated one contestant for singing the "boring" "Hello, Young Lovers"), is as lush and sweeping as ever, and Powers does it justice. Her voice is pleasant and capable, if rushed, whether directorially or because of opening night energy is hard to say. The few times any of the cast takes a pause, it becomes a true breath of fresh air. When Hal Davis comes on stage as Sir Edward Ramsay, his composed decorum is a relief. Tuptim (Michelle Liu Coughlin) and Lun Tha (Martin Sola) sing prettily, but are overshadowed by schmaltzy orchestrations in "I Have Dreamed." Lady Thaing (Catherine Mieun Choi) just misses the peak in the almost showstopping number, "Something Wonderful."

For anyone coming specifically to see Ms. Powers, her age will be no surprise, but for those new to her or the show, there is no denying she’s not exactly the right age for the role. Powers is enough of a presence to pull it off, however, as she tosses her head back in a schoolgirl-like manner, strikes elegant poses with ease, and has a youthful energy that defies gravity.

Director Baayork Lee has put together an appealing production that falls just slightly shy of the fireworks and electricity "The King and I" is capable of. The reason to see this version is not necessarily its star, but rather its exotic nature that radiates through the costumes, sets, and dance numbers. Lee’s history is strongly tied to choreography, so although Susan Kikuchi choreographed, Lee’s direction is strongest through the dance. The choreography playfully incorporates intricate fan dances, pinwheeled parasols and flowing ribbons, and "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," led by Natalie Turner and Amy Chiang, is exquisite. Kenneth Foy has designed luxurious sets, that complement Roger Kirk’s sumptuous costumes, all in colors so vibrant -- rich turquoise, orange, magenta -- they jump off the rainbow, and satins so sleek, they bolt across the stage. The stage itself is a magnificent, shiny ebony, like the deep, frozen lake of ice frequently referenced in the material. It reflects the giant hoop skirts as if iconic statues growing out of the earth, skating across the expanse. Press releases use the words "opulent" and "lavish," and frankly, there are no better words. If the shoe fits, even in barefoot Siam, you wear it: Opulent and lavish it is.

Stefanie Powers in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Pantages, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Through April 17, 2005

Tues. – Fri. at 8PM; Sat. at 2PM & 8PM; Sun. at 1PM & 6:30PM

Tickets: $42.50, $57.50 and $67.50 at box office, Ticketmaster outlets, by phone: 213-365-3500 or 714-740-7878, or online:

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Cast gives stellar performance in 'The King and I'

The Pantages Theatre hosted Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I" April 5, starring Stefanie Powers and Ronobir Lahiri.

"The King and I" is a timeless piece that uses subtle humor and dramatic portrayals of culture clashes to bring to life a story of western influences over eastern lifestyle.

The play, originally written by Margaret Landon, tells the story of an English schoolteacher named Anna Leonowens (Powers) who is hired by the King of Siam (Lahiri) to teach western science to his many children.

Immediately upon arrival, Anna is shocked to learn of the inequalities that exist between men and women within eastern culture.

The King is a proud, yet arrogant man who sees Anna as an inferior because she is a woman. He hires her to teach his children, however, in his eyes, she is now his servant.

Anna's humble nature and willingness to embrace new ways while continuing to make a stand for her own dignity, eventually earns her favor in the King's eyes.

From the very moment the two meet in his royal palace, the King begins to admire Anna for her knowledge of the world. He gradually starts to appreciate her and learns from her more as the play progresses.

Anna, while feeling utterly compelled to protest the subjugation of women and lack of appreciation for human life by the King, can't help but adore his savvy attitude and slyly condescending mannerisms.

Lahiri portrayed Siam's King in such a way that it was hard not to fall in love with the character. He always held his head up high, but in private, it seemed as though he was a child always seeking to learn new things.

One of the funniest scenes in the story was one in which Anna and the King are having a private meeting in his room. The King was informed that people in Singapore are saying he's a barbarian. Enraged, he tells Anna that he is not, and goes on to explain how he will prove his western critics otherwise.

He was so proud that he masked his inability to devise a strategy for winning favorable western opinion by telling Anna to "guess" what he was going to do. She then played along and guessed that the King would revamp his image by impressing Sir Edward Ramsay (Hal Davis) when he came to visit Siam on the way back to England.

There is a side story in "The King and I", during Anna's constant comedic battles with the King.

Tuptim (Michelle Coughlin) is a young girl given to the King as a gift. She, however, is in love with a man from her homeland named Lun Tha (Martin Sola). The two obviously cannot be together because the King would punish them both brutally if he were to find out.

The two sing a duet in the first act titled "We Kiss in a Shadow." In this song, Tuptim and Lun Tha are both deeply saddened by their inability to be together and kiss in the daylight for fear of being reprimanded by the King.

This side story serves as the basis for Anna's outrage at the King's treatment of women. His polygamist ways and air of superiority over the subjects he rules also disgust her.

In the end, though, Anna is able to see the King for the small bits of compassion that lie within him. In turn, the King is able to see her as more of an equal person who merits his respect.

"The King and I" is an absolutely magnificent production, incorporating a fantastic music ensemble with the graceful dance steps of both eastern and western cultures. Together, with absolutely breathtaking scenery, this play is a must see for everybody.

The Pantages Theatre seems like the only location worthy of such a large-scale production. Its acoustics are fantastic and the surroundings are absolutely gorgeous, from the decadently designed walls to the massive centerpiece reaching down from the ceiling.

Once again, I can't emphasize enough how spectacular this play is. The cast is astonishing, and the presentation altogether is unlike anything I've ever seen before.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I" will be playing at the Pantages Theatre through April 17.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The King and I - Los Angeles

"THE KING AND I": Stefanie Powers stars as Anna in this beloved 1951 musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It will be performed through April 17 at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. For tickets, $42.50-$67.50, call 1-714-740-7878.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

'The King & I' as we all remember it

Rodgers & Hammerstein's "The King & I' is a musical about overcoming one's fear of change and progress, yet the national tour now playing in Hollywood remains entrenched in the mid-20th century era of its creation.

Stefanie Powers (TV's "Hart to Hart') stars as Anna Leonowens, the English widow brought in the 1860s from Singapore to instruct the children of the king of Siam. The king is played by Ronobir Lahiri, who co-starred with Powers in the United Kingdom national tour of the show.

The king has hired Anna with the goal of enlightening his many wives and children in the language and customs of the West, yet he holds fast to his beliefs in his ancient culture and the submissive status of women.

Anna challenges not only his traditions but his power, confronting him on an unkept promise to let her live outside the palace and upbraiding him for accepting a beautiful slave, Tuptim (Michelle Liu Coughlin), as a gift from the king of Burma. While her outspokeness would have been shocking in the 1860s, particularly as a British subject addressing royalty, and eyebrow-raising in 1951 when "The King & I' opened on Broadway, it has lost its impact on its audience over time.

Director Baayork Lee at age 5 played one of the princesses in the original production and seems intent on holding true to the show's roots, from the Jerome Robbins choreography to the beautiful yet highly conventional sets by Kenneth Foy.

Lahiri plays the stubborn king with strength, humor and just the right touch of tenderness, but he has not made the role his own. From his shaved head and fists-on-hips stance to the cut of his costumes, the performance seems an homage to Yul Brynner, whose Broadway and film performances indelibly defined the character.

Those who think of Powers as a TV star will be pleasantly surprised by her stage presence and vocal skills. At 62, she is about two decades past the character's age, but she still has the energy for it. Powers and Lahiri play well off each other in the show's trademark '"Shall We Dance?" scene, and she shines particularly on "Hello, Young Lovers' and "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?"

The romance between Tuptim and Lun Tha (Martin Sola) seems pasted in as a plot device and a reason to toss in love duets that are not suited to the unspoken love between Anna and the king.

"The King & I' is an eye-pleasing production, especially the play within, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," Tuptim's interpretation of the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin." But it is wrapped up in its traditions, a time capsule of both 1860s Siam and 1950s America.

The King and I Review

The King and I

(Pantages Theater, Los Angeles; 2,750 seats; $67.50 top)

A Broadway LA and the Independent Presenters Network presentation of a musical in two acts with music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Based on "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon. Originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins. Directed by Baayork Lee.

Captain Orton/Sir Edward Ramsay - Hal Davis
Louis Leonowens - Patrick Minor
Anna Leonowens - Stefanie Powers
The Interpreter - Scott Kitajima
The Kralahome - Ronald M. Banks
The King of Siam - Ronobir Lahiri
Court Dancer - Natalie Turner
Lun Tha - Martin Sola
Tuptim - Michelle Liu Coughlin
Lady Thiang - Catherine MiEun Choi
Prince Chululongkorn - Lou Castro
Fan Dancer - Sally Wong
Princess Ying Yaowlak - Daphne Chen

A serviceable but by the numbers rendering of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, the new "King and I" starring Stefanie Powers, somehow manages to make a classic property seem old-fashioned. Scenes play out predictably, and emotional explosions between the two title characters are hampered by rigid, over-deliberate direction.

At first it's a relaxed comfort zone when governess Anna Leonowens (Stefanie Powers) arrives in Siam with son Louis (Patrick Minor) and points out her way of handling nervousness with "I Whistle a Happy Tune." Powers isn't just an actress trying to sing; she has a clear, pleasing voice ideally suited to the lilting Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. While her vocals sometimes lack dramatic urgency and color, they have their own period charm.

Powers combines the nobility of Irene Dunne with the occasionally haughty speech patterns of Edna Mae Oliver. Her British accent is crisp and bitingly accurate, and she exhibits appropriate strength standing up to the king (Ronobir Lahiri). We feel immediately that the unspoken sexuality between governess and ruler will be omitted, and the story will be strictly a saga of a woman teaching a barbarian how to be more tolerant and civilized.

This lack of chemical connection becomes increasingly problematic as the show goes on. To compensate for its absence, the king needs to be a towering figure, and Lahiri lacks the needed charismatic arrogance. He has joyous authority on "Shall We Dance," and good comedy sense when announcing apologetically that he has only "67 children... but I started very late." What he doesn't have is a dangerous, threatening undercurrent, and crucial words in his "Puzzlement" number are drowned out by too much orchestra volume.

Since heated exchanges between Anna and the king don't catch fire, many of the scenes feel long and talky. In general, there's a literal, labored feeling, and a sense that everything could be speeded up.

Another weakness is the relationship between one of the King's wives, Tuptim (Michelle Liu Coughlin) and her lover Lun Tha (Martin Sola). This peripheral pair sing "I Have Dreamed" and "We Kiss in a Shadow" competently, without projecting enough underlying heartbreak and despair.

Coughlin digs more deeply into her character with "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," Jerome Robbins' "Uncle Tom's Cabin" ballet about slavery that juxtaposes Eliza's escape with Tuptim's own desperate desire for freedom. Roger Kirk's eyefilling costumes give the sequence a sparkling look, and use of a long flowing blue cloth to represent a river is effective. Susan Kikuchi recreates Robbins' choreography with power and precision.

The production's thrilling highlight is Catherine MiEun Choi's richly affecting "Something Wonderful." Choi's voice is a beautiful instrument, and her thoughtful acting showcases the soul of a wise, compassionate woman who understands her husband's weaknesses while crediting him with unceasing efforts to be a better ruler.

Sets, Kenneth Foy; costumes, Roger Kirk; lighting designer, John McLain; sound, Abe Jacob and Mark Cowburn; production stage manager, John W. Calder, III; Jerome Robbins choreography recreated by Susan Kikuchi. Opened and reviewed April 5, 2005; runs through April 17. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Theater Review: 'The King and I'

LOS ANGELES - Adapted from the best-selling 1944 biographical novel "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon, and with an unforgettable score by Richard Rodgers (composer) and Oscar Hammerstein II (librettist/lyricist), "The King and I" is grand, glorious, rich with texture and old-fashioned in the best sense of the word.

Curiously, the 19th-century struggle between stubborn, widowed English schoolmarm Anna (the talented and lovely Stefanie Powers) and the enigmatic, all-consuming and equally stubborn King of Siam (a fine performance by a somewhat youngish Ronobir Lahiri) is still with us today.

Credit savvy director Baayork Lee with capturing the essence of the struggle on two distinct levels: as a clash of customs and as a clash of two strong-willed people who are inevitably drawn to one another.

All is set in the 1860s in the exotic capital city of Bangkok. Scenic designer Kenneth Foy has created multiple palace sets that are colorful and exotic; Roger Kirk's costumes are lush and lovely, and John McLain's lighting is visually effective.

"The King and I" tells the story of the determined Anna Leonowens, who comes to Siam to serve as governess of a cute gaggle of the king's children.

At last count he had more than 60 children (only a half-dozen appear onstage), a harem of royal wives and an overseer, Lady Chiang (the wonderful and lyrical Catherine MiEun Choi).

All seems well and in order until Anna and her son Louis (Patrick Minor) arrive. She comes complete with hoop skirts and radical ideas about the sanctity of love and marriage and the role of the woman.

While the Anna-King struggle goes on, another story takes place: that of star-crossed young lovers Tuptim of Burma (the compelling Michelle Liu Coughlin) and Lun Tha (Martin Sola), who are forced to live in the palace of the king.

When she sings "My Lord and Master," we immediately get the picture, and when they sing "We Kiss in a Shadow" and "I Have Dreamed," we realize their hopeless plight.

Still, it's with Anna and the King that we share most of the time. Anna sings to the royal children the charming "Getting to Know You," and both score well with "Shall We Dance?"

And, of course, Tuptim and the Ensemble stop the show with their Siamese version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" -- literally translated as "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" -- complete with a Buddha, snow flakes and a frozen river.

And don't forget the children: "The King and I" is fit for all ages.

Presented by the Independent Presenters Network

Cast: Captain Orton/Sir Edward Ramsay: Hal Davis; Louis Leonowens: Patrick Minor; Anna Leonowens: Stefanie Powers; The Interpreter: Scott Kitajima; The King of Siam: Ronobir Lahiri; Lun Tha: Martin Sola; Tuptim: Michelle Liu Coughlin; Lady Thiang: Catherine MiEun Choi.

Credits: Music: Richard Rodgers; Book/lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II, based on "Anna and the King of Siam" by: Margaret Landon; Director: Baayork Lee; Choreographer: Susan Kikuchi, recreated from Jerome Robbins' original choreography; Scenic designer: Kenneth Foy; Costume designer: Roger Kirk; Lighting designer: John McLain.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Houston: Sight 'ems

The King and I star Stefanie Powers lunching with Bill Price on the patio at Backstreet Cafe.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Book Signing at Borders

If any of you are in the Los Angeles area, Stefanie Powers will be doing a book signing (for Powers Pilates) at the Borders in Sherman Oaks. It's Monday, the 11th, at 7:30 P.M.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

One from the heart

Stefanie Powers is finding something wonderful in 'The King and I.'

Stefanie Powers will be trilling such Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II standards as "Getting to Know You" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune" when she opens a 12-day engagement Tuesday at the Pantages Theatre in the classic musical "The King and I."

Powers, 62, is following in the footsteps of Gertrude Lawrence, Deborah Kerr, Celeste Holm, Angela Lansbury, Constance Towers and even Marie Osmond in taking the role of Anna Leonowens, an English widow and mother of a young son, who traveled to Bangkok in the 1860s to teach the numerous children of the stubborn, proud ruler of Siam. Though Anna and the king frequently clash when she arrives, a mutual respect and unrequited love develops between the two.

Powers, a graduate of Hollywood High, was signed at 15 to a movie deal with Columbia Pictures, appearing in several films, including the 1963 John Wayne western "McLintock!" During her four-decade-long career, Powers has made more than 200 TV guest appearances.

She starred as spy April Dancer in the 1966-67 series "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E," but she's best known for the lighthearted 1979-84 detective series "Hart to Hart," in which Powers and Robert Wagner played sophisticated amateur sleuths.

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

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 I did in England, Ronobir Lahiri.

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

I think it's fair enough to say that Rodgers & 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.

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.

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.

Well, do you have a favorite number in the show?

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

Is it "Something Wonderful"?

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.

Have you been singing a long time?

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

Weren't you at one point going to tour America in the revival of the 1970 Tony Award-winning musical "Applause"?

We did an ill-fated revival, proving that it shouldn't have been revived. It had never been revived in 26 years, and I guess we proved why. It was not a good show.

The opening night Tuesday of "The King and I" is a benefit for the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya, which you founded. Can you talk about what the foundation does?

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 spent whatever time I can there.

Friday, April 01, 2005

'Hart' bypass

Stefanie Powers, who left her TV career behind in favor of the theater, plays Anna in 'The King and I' next week

Television used to be a king-sized part of Stefanie Powers' resume. Now, however, the stage is king in her professional life, thanks to her long-running star turn as Anna in a touring production of "The King and I."

Powers, who solved crimes with Robert Wagner in the frothy television detective drama "Hart to Hart" from 1979 to 1984, has put her small-screen past behind her in favor of live theater. Though she has yet to star on Broadway, she has starred in productions of "Oliver!" "Annie Get Your Gun" and "My Fair Lady." She also co-starred with John Barrowman in the London production of "Matador" and toured the United States as Margo Channing in "Applause."

She first stepped into the Anna role several years ago, taking over for Elaine Paige in the London revival of "The King and I." When the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein music made its way to America, she stayed with the show.

On Tuesday, the tour arrives in Los Angeles for a nearly two-week run at the Pantages Theatre. The production is directed by Baayork Lee, who played Princess Yaowlak during the musical's original Broadway run.

"I guess anyone who has ever wanted to do a musical would love to do any of the ones written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein," Powers said.

" 'The King and I,' along with 'Carousel,' are probably two of the greatest American musicals ever. Oscar Hammerstein's book for this show is wonderful. And it flows seamlessly into some of the most memorable songs, with his delicious lyrics and Richard Rodgers glorious music."

Based on the real-life adventures of Anna Leonowens, "The King and I" is a love story of a stubborn king and an equally strong-willed governess set in 1860s Bangkok. Some of the best-known tunes from the 1951 show are "Getting to Know You," "Hello Young Lovers," "I Whistle a Happy Tune" and "Shall We Dance?"

"Many people don't know that the show was commissioned by Gertrude Lawrence, who portrayed Anna," Powers said. "Sadly, she died within the first six months of the run. So the show's focus switched toward a then little-known actor named Yul Brynner, who went on to play the King for more than 4,000 performances during his lifetime. Now, with this production, there is a renewed emphasis on Anna."

Powers called Lee a wonderful and collaborative director, and said that she and choreographer Susan Kikuchi are faithful to the original intentions of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Rehearsal for the U.S. tour was assisted, Powers added, by being reunited with her "king," Ronobir Lahiri, who played opposite her during the London run.

"He's a wonderful actor, and we have such good chemistry," she said. "I'm glad he was available."

Though Powers has enjoyed the tour — it will go on hiatus for a few months after its Pantages run — she admitted that it has been hard to keep up with her other activities.

A noted conservationist, she is active in the William Holden Wildlife Conservancy, dedicated to the preservation of dozens of animals that are threatened with extinction. She also works with the Jaguar Conservation Trust, an effort on behalf of the English car manufacturer to protect its namesake animal.

She's also a fitness enthusiast, who has released a number of fitness books and DVDs. Her latest is called "Powers Pilates."

As for other acting work, there are no "Hart to Hart" reunions on the horizon, but Powers will be featured in a comedy film opening this year titled "Rabbit Fever."

For now, her life is consumed, happily, by "The King and I."

"It played a major role in establishing the era of the great American musical," she said. "And this production not only represents the glories of those golden years, but it remains as fresh and vital for audiences today."

Liz Smith

STEFANIE POWERS, still fondly remembered for "Hart to Hart" as Robert Wagner's sleuthing wife, keeps on keeping on. Tuesday she opens in L.A. for a two-week stint in "The King and I." She's been touring in the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, getting nifty notices. The opening night is a fund-raiser for her great charitable passion, The William Holden Wildlife Foundation. (The late screen idol Holden was Stefanie's personal passion until his death in 1981).