Archive for February, 2012


ON THE SCENE Encore: “Red” With Randy Harrison; Peter Max

February 25, 2012

This is late notice to you, apologies, been an extremely busy week. But the ON THE SCENE episode with the cast of “Red” at George Street Playhouse (Bob Ari, Randy Harrison) and my interview with artist Peter Max, will be on again this weekend.

Tune in to News 12 New Jersey at 8:30 AM, 11:30 AM or 4:30 PM on February 24th or 25th.

This show got a big response so we decided to air it get soon, and also before “Red” closed to move on to its run in Cleveland.


ON THE SCENE Earns A Gracie Award!

February 23, 2012

ON THE SCENE Wins A Gracie Award!








I am proud to announce that ON THE SCENE has been nationally recognized for excellence in entertainment coverage by earning a Gracie Award!

The Gracie, named in honor of the late comedienne Gracie Allen, is given annually by the Alliance For Women In Media and recognizes outstanding programming by, for or about women. Our segment “ON THE SCENE: Journey of Love-The Darlene Love Interview” was selected for the award.

It’s an interview I vividly remember because I sat down with Ms. Love just days after she discovered her dream of being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame was about to come true. It was a pivotal moment and we discussed the many other pivotal moments in her life leading her to this one. Watch this interview on the Credits page of

What an incredible week…an Emmy nomination for ON THE SCENE and a Gracie Award.  And an astonishing team of television professionals who make it all happen show after show.



ON THE SCENE Is Emmy Nominated Once Again!

February 21, 2012

ON THE SCENE Is Headed To The Emmys!









It’s time to celebrate! ON THE SCENE received a New York Emmy Award nomination for coverage of the arts. The piece selected for this honor by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is entitled “Through Bojana’s Eyes” and you can watch it on the Credits Page of It chronicles how painting helped bring artist Bojana Coklyat back from the brink of death.

Wish us luck!


Video Of The Cast Of “Red” With Randy Harrison, Bob Ari

February 20, 2012

As promised, we’ve posted my ON THE SCENE segment about the production of “Red” at George Street Playhouse, featuring interviews with actors Bob Ari and Randy Harrison.

What do you think?


Covering The Death Of Whitney Houston

February 16, 2012

I have spent this week covering the death of Whitney Houston from her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, which is next door to the city where she grew up, East Orange.

Here I am getting ready for a live report from New Hope Baptist Church where her funeral will take place. This is where it all began for Houston singing in the church choir.

John Bathke Covers Whitney Houston's Death


ON THE SCENE: The Feedback, The Future

February 16, 2012

Thanks for the emails, unprecedented number of blog views, kind words and inquiries about last weekend’s ON THE SCENE featuring Peter Max and the cast of “Red-” Bob Ari and Randy Harrison.

This episode was spectacular in high definition…the vibrant paintings of Peter Max and that splattering crimson paint flinging across the set in “Red” lit up the screen. (No wonder Randy Harrison thought his famously blond hair would turn red by the end of the play’s run). Oh yeah, the host didn’t look bad, either, but I am hopelessly biased!

More interviews with fascinating artists are coming your way so check back for announcements here on the blog and for details about encore presentations of  ON THE SCENE episodes. And to watch the bonus feature with Randy Harrison and me discussing his role on the series “Queer As Folk” check the post “ON THE SCENE Schedule Reminder, Randy Harrison.”


My Peter Max Interview for ON THE SCENE

February 12, 2012

I see that a number of viewers who are interested in Peter Max are coming to my blog after watching ON THE SCENE.  So I thought I’d just say a couple words more about interviewing him.

I’ve heard from artists in particular who watched and love how he describes his work process…that he has no idea what he’s going to paint when he starts a fresh canvas and it reveals itself to him as he goes. I also am fascinated by the connection between his paintings and his musical inspirations. He likens his paintings to a jazz musician building on a riff and before the musician knows it, there’s a composition. But just what it means may not be immediately clear. After Max told me that I saw his paintings through a new prism…as colorful jazz flourishes and improvisations.

Our interview also touches on the beginnings of his artistic life as a small child living in China, where his father was in business. Max started drawing because his “little Chinese friends” all drew with chalk, so he joined them.

Anyone who’s ever met Peter Max never forgets him and this is an interview that I treasure.  And I always say that every artist who I interview becomes a part of me and I carry their influence with me in some way, always. With Peter Max, it’s the power of positive energy, to find it in others and in myself, and share it with the world. Like the biggest, brightest canvas one can paint.


Remembering The Moment I Witnessed Whitney Houston Hocking Her History

February 12, 2012

In January 2007, I reported on the auction of thousands of items belonging to Whitney Houston. They were contained in an old, as I recall leaky warehouse located on an industrial street in Irvington, New Jersey. Houston hadn’t paid the storage fees and after the bill reached nearly two hundred thousand dollars her belongings were put up for sale.

There were amplifiers, trunks, recording equipment and instruments from her tours, clothing, boxes of various awards she’d received, and stage costumes. Lots of custom made stage costumes for what must have been her size zero frame during those years when she appeared so terribly thin. Tonight, watching the television coverage of her death, they played a clip of her performing in the early 1990s and I recognized the gown. It was a lavender, beaded velvet gown I’d seen hanging on a rack at the warehouse. I held it up at one point when we were taping. Later that day a collector bought it for around two hundred dollars.

I remember thinking at the time: most of these things probably mean nothing to Whitney Houston, but she is hocking her history.

By this time Whitney’s  troubles with drugs, impaired singing voice and rocky marriage had been played about publicly for years.  Piece by piece it seemed her life and enormous talent were being stripped away. And to me this auction was yet another example of her losses.

But tonight I prefer to remember her music. Her soaring, nuanced voice, her incomparable spine tingling notes on “I Will Always Love You” and the sheer joy of dancing to “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Love Me)”.

In the days ahead I’m sure we’ll all see a deeper meaning embedded in each of Whitney’s songs and how they reflect the artist and woman who is now gone at just 48.


Watch More With Randy Harrison

February 11, 2012

Check my previous blog post “ON THE SCENE Schedule Reminder”  for the Randy Harrison ON THE SCENE bonus feature about his years on the series, “Queer As Folk.”

There’s one more scheduled presentation of ON THE SCENE today at 4:30 (“Red”, “The Art of Peter Max”) and then again Sunday at 8:30 AM, 11:30 AM, and 4:30 PM.

I know you’re watching, and I’m grateful. You can always email me comments through the blog or the site.


ON THE SCENE: Schedule Reminder, Randy Harrison Video Posted

February 11, 2012

ON THE SCENE has started it’s weekend romp through the airwaves. Dozens of you are already checking in here at the blog for more information I see. So first, a reminder of when the show airs: 8:30 AM, 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM both Saturday and Sunday.

Cablevision subscribers: if you want to watch the Bonus Feature with Randy Harrison and me talking about his role on “Queer As Folk” go to IO Channel 612. Or News 12 New Jersey viewers can also see it on under “Top Stories.”  Also, I just posted it here in the blog…this is an updated version of the blog to reflect the video.

I also see some of you are interested in my Peter Max interview. Did you like it? Mr. Max doesn’t do as many interviews as he once did so it was a great honor to meet him and ask him about his art. If you see the piece again notice what he and I are wearing: when you’re about to interview Peter Max standing in front of his artwork, you don’t wear color! He and I both showed up wearing black or dark blue to avoid the clash.

“Red” starring Randy Harrison and Bob Ari runs through the end of February at George Street Playhouse in case you’ve become interested in seeing it.

More to come soon…