Happening Now on Television
PBS presents The U.S. and the Holocaust, a new three-part documentary written by Geoffrey Ward, directed and produced by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, which explores America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises in history. The series will air September 18, 19 and 20, at 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations. Peter Coyote narrates and voice actors in the series will include Adam Arkin, Paul Giamatti, Elliott Gould, Werner Herzog, Liam Neeson, Matthew Rhys and Meryl Streep, among many others. There is a humanitarian scene of Americans doing refugee rescue work during WWII underscored by the classic “Hallelujah,” written by composer Vincent Youmans with lyrics by Leo Robin and Clifford Grey. To access more details about this dramatic series including the classic “Hallelujah,” click on the image:
The Documentary Film Rendez-Vous With Maurice Chevalier Shows The Legendary Frenchman Traveling To America To Star In His First Hollywood Film And Singing “Louise,” Which Would Become A Jazz Standard
French artist Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972), a legend of stage and screen, was an accomplished singer, actor and entertainer, who embodied the charm of his native Paris throughout a decades-long career that brought him fame in Europe and America and left for show business history a vast repertoire of masterful classic songs and captivating film performances. The legendary Maurice Chevalier is known as “the man in the straw boater.” Fifty years after he left us on January 1, 1972, the extraordinary story of a boy from Paris’ working-class Ménilmontant district at the end of the 19th century making it to Hollywood’s red carpet deserves to be revived. To access more details about this legendary figure and view him traveling to America to star in his first Hollywood film and singing “Louise,” click on the image.
The Mirrorball champions on the 29th season of Dancing With the Stars are crowned after their perfect score on freestyle dance to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”
Dancing with the Stars wrapped up its 2020 series and its 29th overall on November 23 crowning a new Mirrorball Trophy winner. Former “Bachelorette” Kaitlyn Bristowe and her partner Artem Chigvintsev were crowned the Mirrorball Champions of “Dancing With the Stars” after they performed their freestyle dance to the “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” version from the musical “Moulin Rouge.” When host Tyra Banks announced the news, Kaitlyn and Artem were absolutely thrilled and so were their fans. They received a perfect score of 30/30 on this dance from the judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough, and Bruno Tonioli in the last night of the competition. To access more details of this show and view their dance to “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”on Dancing With the Stars, click on this image.
HBO’s new drama series Lovecraft Country, developed and executive produced by showrunner Misha Green and based on and serving as a continuation of the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, winds up with final episode on October 18, 2020 of the season “Full Circle.” The television series, starring Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, premiered on August 16, 2020 and is produced by Monkeypaw Productions, Bad Robot Productions, and Warner Bros. Television Studios. The HBO horror series, Lovecraft Country, is at its best when it blends history with horror. The show has been a critical darling in its first season for HBO and its music has caught viewers’ ears with jazz classics like Billie Holiday performing “Easy Living.” To access more details of this series including Billie Holiday performing “Easy Living,” click on the image:
Sky’s original dark comedy drama series I Hate Suzie was created by Lucy Prebble and Billie Piper and produced by Bad Wolf in association with Sky Studios. The series premiered in the U.K. on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in August of 2020 and it made its US debut on HBO Max on November of 2020. I Hate Suzie follows the life of actress Suzie Pickles (Piper) whose life is thrown into turmoil when her phone is hacked and compromising photographs of her are leaked. The viewers see the unraveling of its main character’s life in eight sharply drawn episodes, each named, more or less, after a stage of grief. During her stage of Denial, the name of episode 2 of season 1, the classic “Bye Bye, Baby” is featured. Kristen Baldwin in her review for Entertainment Weekly gave the series an “A” rating, calling it a “bloody brilliant exploration of modern womanhood” that “tells a wholly unique story about the liberation that comes from total exposure.” To access more details of this series including about the featured jazz standard “Bye Bye, Baby,” click on the image:
The HBO Period Drama Perry Mason Finale “Chapter 8“ Wraps Without a “Perry Mason moment” But Has Great Moments including the Jazz Classic “Beyond the Blue Horizon”
The HBO period drama television series Perry Mason stars Matthew Rhys in the title role and premiered on June 21, 2020. The series focuses on the origin story of American Fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer Perry Mason. In the finale episode, “Chapter 8,“ we never quite get that famed “Perry Mason moment.” What we did get was a great moment to hear the jazz classic “Beyond the Blue Horizon,” composed by Richard A. Whiting and W. Franke Harling with lyrics by Leo Robin. To access more details of this series including the jazz standard “Beyond the Blue Horizon,” click on the image:
The Kitty performed “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” on The Masked Singer
The Masked Singer is a reality singing competition television series on Fox. It features celebrities facing off against one another with one major twist: each singer is shrouded from head to toe in an elaborate costume, complete with full face mask to conceal his or her identity. Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke serve on the panel and play detective, alongside host Nick Cannon. To access more details of this show and view the Kitty performing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” during “The Battle of The Sixes: The Final 6” on The Masked Singer, click on this image.
The CW’s Legacies is a fantasy drama television series, created by Julie Plec and a spin-off of The Originals and features characters from both that series and its predecessor, The Vampire Diaries. Legacies follows Hope Mikaelson, who is descended from some of the most powerful vampire, werewolf, and witch bloodlines. “There’s A Place Where The Lost Things Go” is the fourteenth episode of the second season of Legacies. This episode starts when Emma (Karen David) suggests the characters participate in a group simulation that transports them to a black and white film noir world. Emma made the setting perfect when she sang “Thanks for the Memory,” composed by Ralph Rainger with lyrics by Leo Robin. To access more details of this series including Emma performing “Thanks for the Memory,” click on the image:
The Fox Show Simpsons featured a parody of the song “Thanks for the Memory”
In episode 13 of season 31 of the Fox hit show the Simpsons, entitled Frinkcoin, which aired on February 23, 2020, Homer hangs out with the Frink. The Simpsons, an animated sitcom on the Fox Broadcasting Company, is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition. “Thanks for the Currency” is a parody of the song “Thanks for the Memory,” composed by Ralph Rainger with lyrics by Leo Robin. To access more details of this episode including the performance of the song “Thanks for the Currency,” click on the image:
Hulu’s True Crime Drama The Act Blends Reality and Fantasy Worlds — like Gulliver’s Travels Featuring the Song “Forever”
The Act is a true crime drama web television series that premiered in eight parts on March 20, 2019, on Hulu. The first season is based on the real life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, who was accused of abusing her daughter by fabricating illness and disabilities as a direct consequence of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Joey King portrayed Gypsy, while Patricia Arquette played her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard. Disney like stories, princesses and fairy-tale ideals played a large role in Dee Dee and Gypsy’s lives. There is a scene where Gypsy watches the movie based on Jonathan Swift’s 18th century novel Gulliver’s Travels that contains the song “Forever,” composed by Ralph Rainger with lyrics by Leo Robin. To learn more about this story and view the scene with the song “Forever,” click on this image.
Marvel’s critically acclaimed melodrama Agent Carter
The award winning television show Glee features “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”
The Fox musical comedy-drama television series Glee has become a bona fide cultural phenomenon since its debut. The hit show starred Melissa Benoist for her portrayal of Marley Rose and Alex Newell for playing the transgender student Unique Adams. The show has received prestigious honors and singlehandedly made glee clubs cool again. A memorable episode, the fifteenth, known as Girls (and Boys) on Film, during Season Four on the hit television show Glee features “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” originally made famous by Marilyn Monroe in 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with a clever injection of Madonna’s “Material Girl.” To view this scene of the wonderful performance by the Glee Club, click on the Image:
Happening Now on The Movie Scene
Leo Robin’s niece Ann was inspired to write her untold story when she heard about the movie The United States vs. Billie Holiday on The View, her favorite daytime talk show. The guest that day was Andra Day, who played Billie and received a Golden Globe and nominated for best actress at the Oscars. The movie reminded her that she also had a Leo-Billie Holiday story that took place in the same period as the film, when Billie got arrested in 1947 for possession of heroin and she was banned from NYC. Ann shares with us the adventure Leo went on secretly one night to see Billie Holiday. To view this fascinating story by Leo’s niece never told before, click on this image.
Uprooted, a documentary about the history of Jazz Dance from Transmission, LLC, is a cinematic exploration of the art form of jazz through movement. Jazz Dance, with its history rooted in enslaved peoples, is a metaphor for struggle, resistance and acceptance. The film highlights the diversity of its practitioners within an examination of American history; paying homage to its lineage, while celebrating its many re-interpretations and inspiring the dancer of tomorrow to keep the art form alive. Marilyn Monroe performs the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and song plays under montage of footage and interviews describing qualities of jazz dance. To access more details of this film including the iconic performance by Marilyn with insightful analysis, click on the image:
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (“Birds of Prey”) is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics team Birds of Prey. Birds of Prey is named for DC Comics’ premiere all-female superhero team. The highly anticipated film features a scene that may look familiar because you’ve seen the sequence that inspired them, from Marilyn Monroe’s performance of the musical number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Leo Robin, in 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Birds of Prey is scheduled to hit theaters on February 7, 2020. To access more details of this film including the film’s trailer, click on the image:
Variety reports Oscar-Winning Songwriter “Leo Robin Helped Usher In the Golden Age of Song in Film”
On September 30, 2019 Variety, the premier source of entertainment news, featured an article by Ray Trakin, titled, “Thanks for the Memory: How Leo Robin Helped Usher In the Golden Age of Song in Film.” In his crisp and inimitable style, Mr. Trakin tells about when Leo first came to Hollywood, “In 1928, Robin was recruited by Hollywood as a certified “hit-maker” at the dawn of the sound era, hired by Paramount Pictures, and paired with Richard Whiting […] for the studio’s first musical, “Innocents of Paris,” released in 1929, which also marked the American debut for French crooner Maurice Chevalier. Mr. Trakin credits Robin with helping turn Hollywood into what it is today with “his legacy (that) just happens to define the modern sound era of motion pictures.” To access more details about the article by Roy Trakin, click on the Image:
George Clooney’s satirical dark comedy “Catch-22” on Hulu
Catch-22 is a satirical dark comedy miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. The series stars George Clooney, who is also an executive producer and director for two episodes. The events occur in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II. The film makers frequently select the music with lyrics written by Leo Robin for these period films. In this film is the popular wartime song “No Love, No Nothin’” performed by Rosemary Clooney, composed by Harry Warren with lyrics written by Leo Robin. To access more details of this film including a portion of a review from RollingStone about the music and see the scene with the song “No Love, No Nothin’,” click on the Image:
A Rainy Day in New York features Marilyn Monroe classic “Bye Bye, Baby”
A Rainy Day in New York is a 2019 romantic comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, and Liev Schreiber. The film follows the romantic exploits of a young college student (Chalamet) on a weekend trip in his hometown of New York City, trying to further bond with his college girlfriend (Fanning) while she is in the city to interview a famous film director (Schreiber). A Rainy Day in New York features Marilyn Monroe classic “Bye Bye, Baby.” To find out more details about the film and view the scene in the film A Rainy Day in New York with the song “Bye Bye, Baby.”
James Kent’s period melodrama The Aftermath
The Aftermath is a 2019 drama film starring Keira Knightley, directed by James Kent and written by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Rhidian Brook. The Aftermath is set in postwar Germany in 1946. In the aftermath of World War II, a British colonel and his wife are assigned to live in Hamburg during the post-war reconstruction. In this period film, there were two songs chosen with lyrics written by Leo Robin including the popular song “No Love, No Nothin'” performed by Ella Mae Morse, composed by Harry Warren, and the jazz song “Hi-Ya Love”, composed by Ralph Rainger. To access more details of this film including a portion of a review from The Guardian about the setting of this period and see a couple of scenes with these songs, click on the Image:
In Matias Bombal’s Hollywood, film critic Matias Antonio Bombal reviewed Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, a story taking place in the 1930s Hollywood. Matias Bombal praises that “the entire soundtrack is joyfully filled with the exquisite musical taste of Woody Allen.” He is particularly fond of the “scene with Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin’s 1934 song “June in January” (for) adding just the right support to finish the total effect of the moment. It occurs as Bobby gets to know Veronica one late evening in a jazz club in New York.” “June in January” is a popular song introduced in the 1934 movie Here Is My Heart by Bing Crosby. The Crosby recording, a number #1 hit on Brunswick Records, has since has become a popular standard, recorded by many artists. To access more details of this review by Matias Bombal of the movie Cafe Society, click on the Image:
In the Tribeca Film Review appearing in Variety, film critic Nick Schager reviewed A Kind of Murder, an adaptation of acclaimed suspense author Patricia Highsmith’s 1954 novel The Blunderer, where he proclaims”Biel and Bennett fulfill their light/dark archetypes with relative aplomb, the latter seducing Walter by crooning ‘I Can’t Escape From You’ in a licentious subterranean jazz club.” “I Can’t Escape from You” is a song written by Leo Robin and Richard A. Whiting which was first introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1936 Paramount film Rhythm on the Range. To access the complete review by Nick Schager of the movie A Kind of Murder, click on the Image:
Todd Haynes’ Academy Award-nominee Carol
In a recent review by Stephanie Zacharek, a film critic, she proclaims that “Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin’s sweet nectarine of a jazz standard “Easy Living” figures, in a glancing yet potent way, in (Academy Award-nominee) Carol…Even though the lyrics speak of contentment — “Living for you is easy living/It’s easy to live when you’re in love” — the melody has a wistful glow about it, a suggestion that while there’s no such thing as living easy, the dream of doing so is very real.” To view this poignant scenes and access the complete review by Stephanie Zacharek of the movie Carol and much more, click on the Image:
John Crowley’s critically acclaimed Brooklyn
John Crowley’s critically acclaimed drama Brooklyn premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and features a collection of recordings of Irish classics including “Zing a Little Zong,” a popular song written by Harry Warren and Leo Robin. This standard was first introduced and performed by Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman in the 1952 film Just for You. To access a review by Ken Hanke of the film Brooklyn and much more, click on the Image: