Archive for the ‘TV Hosts’ Category

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“ON THE SCENE” A Finalist for National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award

November 11, 2014

“ON THE SCENE” got some great news: not one, but two of our interviews are finalists for the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award presented by the Los Angeles Press Club.

The interview that I conducted last year with rocker Southside Johnny on the Count Basie Theatre stage in Red Bank, New Jersey was singled out along with my interview earlier this year in New York with Oscar winner, Rita Moreno.

It’s always an honor to be recognized by my peers and my industry. But LA is in many ways the epicenter of entertainment journalism.  And for “ON THE SCENE” to be nominated by the journalists of LA is a tremendous honor, indeed.

 

 

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Dissed By Danza: The Real Losers When Stars Behave Badly

October 21, 2013

You can’t help but feel excited for the cast of  “Honeymoon in Vegas The Musical” at Paper Mill Playhouse. They know that this show is this close to landing on Broadway. You can see how hard the cast, mostly young, some mid career, are working to seal the deal…performing their hearts out to convince any doubters that this show would be a mega hit if a Broadway theatre just gives it a chance.

And you can’t help feeling how proud Paper Mill Playhouse is to have this world premiere opening its  2013-2014 season.  Just six years ago, it looked like one of New Jersey’s best known regional theatres would go under. Choking on debt and suffering the fallout of failed artistic choices, Paper Mill nearly shuttered. Finally, it was a take-over by its home city of Millburn that saved Paper Mill.

Now, Paper Mill is presenting one of its most critically acclaimed shows in years, the musical version of the Nicholas Cage-Sarah Jessica Parker film, “Honeymoon In Vegas.” If the show transfers to Broadway it would be another much needed feather in Paper Mill’s cap. Two years ago the Broadway sensation “Newsies” transferred directly from Paper Mill.

What “Honeymoon In Vegas The Musical” does not have is stars. Some in the talented cast are known in the theatre community but not to the general public. Except one performer: Tony Danza.  The former sitcom actor plays the James Caan part from the movie…the older widower trying to woo a young woman away from her fiance. In shows like this, the lesser known cast members rely on the famous to bring attention to the show. Their chance to make it to Broadway, to have a paycheck, is helped when the most recognizable person in the cast brings notice to everyone’s good work.

Which is why it is so troubling that Tony Danza declined without notice to talk about this production, canceling our scheduled interview at Paper Mill on Friday evening at the very time it was to begin.  Danza, residing  in theatre housing almost next door and without need to travel for the interview, did so without expressing to us a word of apology or regret, leaving the Paper Mill’s longtime publicist and a true believer in “Honeymoon in Vegas The Musical,”  to deliver the embarrassing message.

But this isn’t just an affront to the hard working folks at Paper Mill,  who most certainly liked the idea of this show being featured on local television. There are a week of shows left, none of which is listed as sold out as of the time I’m writing this.  (Sold out houses would also help convince Broadway the show is a good bet). When Danza backed out on the opportunity to discuss work being staged in New Jersey, it hurt the state’s arts community.

I am extremely fortunate to work at News 12 New Jersey, one of the only local television stations in America that still covers  arts and entertainment in a substantive way.  It is time consuming and costs money, but the station feels that  it is important for well rounded coverage. However, I still have to advocate to get time to do my segments and sometimes fight for camera crews. The interview Friday night was one of those times.

Maybe Danza felt not showing up for an interview with the local tv station was no big deal. He was recently on Jimmy Fallon and the Today Show, after all. But we’re proud of what we do. In fact, it’s not only the newscasts where my pieces air.  I produce and host an arts and entertainment series of half hour specials, “ON THE SCENE.” We’ve won two Emmy Awards, garnered a dozen Emmy Award nominations, and earned more than two dozen other regional and national peer recognition awards.   We’re the only show of our kind…one that is shot entirely on location in the artist’s environment and hosted from arts venues… on commercial tv in the New York market.  Some of the most accomplished artists in their genres have sat down with me for interviews…Tony Bennett, Lewis Black, Joan Rivers, Tyne Daly, Bill T. Jones, Bernadette Peters to name only a very few.

New Jersey has a vibrant theatre community seldom seen by the outside world and one that would never be in the spotlight without a program like ours, or the local newspapers. When Danza turns his back at the last minute he’s not just wasting the time and energy of many people, he has shut out viewers who have found in my show the rarest of places where enlightening interviews with artists and entertainers still exist.

Yes, I understand that a “personal emergency” or “sudden conflict” or “death in the family”  and other matters do come up that legitimately cause scheduled appointments to be missed.   But the entertainment industry and the journalists who cover it are also a surprisingly small lot.  It’s not lost on us how many of us have heard the same reasons for cancelations by the same people over and over again.  As the saying goes, “you can’t always be having a bad day.”

Certainly, I didn’t let one canceled interview stop us from doing the story. The charismatic lead actor in “Honeymoon In Vegas The Musical,”  Rob McClure, has a long connection to Paper Mill. He went from selling tickets in the box office to starring in a musical in which people are buying tickets to see him. ( It was my third interview with McClure within the past year. He was nominated for a Tony Award earlier this year for playing Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin The Musical.” ) And Friday evening  we also shot footage of the musical’s first act.

The piece will air today. I’m sure viewers won’t miss the Tony Danza interview because they don’t know it was supposed to be there to begin with. But if they are clicking through the channels,  would more people have stopped when seeing a familiar face from 70s and 80s tv? Would they be curious what he’s up to now? Absolutely. And maybe they would spend a minute or two longer watching and enjoying that hard working cast singing and dancing… and dreaming of  Broadway.

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Interviewing Southside Johnny

August 23, 2013
John Bathke Interviews Southside Johnny

John Bathke Interviews Southside Johnny

Had an uncommonly candid, revealing interview today with Southside Johnny.  The singer/songwriter doesn’t do that many interviews but agreed to sit down with me at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey.  We talked music and about his private life in a way that is going to surprise even those people who know him well.

The interview will run in  a few weeks in our next “ON THE SCENE” special and I’ll write much more about the interview, then. For now, just keeping you all up to date!

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Is Public Art A Good Bet for Atlantic City

July 23, 2013

Tomorrow I’m heading to Atlantic City. We’re shooting an “ON THE SCENE” piece at Artlantic Wonder, the city’s latest gamble as it fights to make an economic comeback.

Casino industry profits have tumbled…recession, competition from casinos mushrooming next door in Pennsylvania, and the changing tastes of consumers have brought difficult times to Atlantic City’s gaming halls.

Artlantic Wonder, a 7 acre outdoor public art space next to the boardwalk featuring sculptures and performance areas, opened earlier this year. The idea is to draw non traditional visitors or to add value to the tourism experience of Atlantic City regulars.

But can art revive Atlantic City?

We’ll find out more tomorrow…

 

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Being Honored At The Waldorf Astoria

May 19, 2013
John Bathke Honored At Deadline Club, Waldorf Astoria.

John Bathke Honored At Deadline Club, Waldorf Astoria.

There’s no finer place to lose an award the Waldorf Astoria. I can tell you that without fear of contradiction. I have done it, just this past Thursday night, in fact.

I was a finalist for a Deadline Club Award, one of New York’s most esteemed journalism honors bestowed to national and local journalists in television, newspaper, magazine and all forms of online media. The awards dinner is held annually at the glittering, opulent, oh-so New York, Waldorf.

The work singled out by the Deadline Club judges is a piece that means a great deal to me..an emotional, riveting and completely in the moment account of emergency rescues performed following a tidal surge caused by Superstorm Sandy. Three towns in Bergen County, New Jersey suddenly flooded leaving thousands stranded.

I’ll never forget the people who we met that day…being pulled to safety from their homes, others coming to a shelter looking frantically for relatives. It was a crucial story to be told, and I believe we did it justice for all those residents suffering the storm’s wrath.

In the end it was coverage of Sandy by another television station that claimed the award, but to be one of three finalists for an honor as prestigious as the Deadline Club, is an award in itself.

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Front Row LIVE! With Janis Ian

April 21, 2013
Janis Ian and John Bathke

Janis Ian and John Bathke

Janis Ian is one hell of a storyteller. In the lyrics to her classic hits including “Society’s Child” and “At Seventeen” and when she’s regaling a crowd with the colorful chapters of her life.

Last night I interviewed the Grammy Award winner for Front Row LIVE, a stage conversation series which I host and moderate at the South Orange Performing Arts Center  (SOPAC) in South Orange, New Jersey.

As an interviewer I hope for an artist who is honest, willing to share their personal life in a compelling and relevant way,  and gives insight into their art. Last night  the SOPAC  audience received that…and then some.   From the famous musicians she has known (as a teenager being introduced to cocaine by Jimi Hendrix with disastrous results) to the infamous (an abusive ex-husband whose beatings haunted her for years afterward) to her family being trailed for decades by the FBI on suspicion they were Communists…we covered it all in one memorable night.

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Joan Rivers, Jewel, Glen Burtnik: ON THE SCENE

April 6, 2013

Tune in this weekend, April 6 & 7, for an all new ON THE SCENE on News 12 New Jersey at 11 AM, 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM each day.

This is one of my all time favorite episodes. I interviewed Joan Rivers at her Manhattan apartment. We had a conversation about complicated mother-daughter relationships, her enduring comedy career and who makes her laugh. This is not an interview of punchlines, but about real emotions and I think everyone watching will discover something new about Rivers…even after all her years in show business.

The interview with Jewel was done backstage at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood where she launched her 2013 national tour. Jewel donated items to raise money for a New Jersey charity helping Sandy victims, and she and I talk about her own ordeal with homelessness as a beginning artist…and how that’s helped her to identify with people in New Jersey who lost homes to the storm.

And my Glen Burtnik interview morphed into a profile of a songwriter and his song, and I think it’s fascinating. Glen co-wrote “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” with Patty Smythe over 20 years ago. It’s a heartbreaking rock ballad. But the lyrics never meant that much to Glen…till his divorce years later. And suddenly, that song became almost impossible for him to sing.

Watch, and let me know what you think of the show.