Odo Wins Kira’s Heart with Cole Porter on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Plus Other Classic Tunes Sung by Hologram Vic Fontaine aka Real-Life Classic Hollywood Dreamboat James Darren

Vic Fontaine appeared in the 6th and 7th seasons (the war with the Dominion story arc) of the US TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Portrayed by James Darren, he is a holographic representation of a 1960s-era Las Vegas Rat Pack–style singer and entertainer, as part of a program created by the space station’s playboy physician Julian Bashir and run in the holosuites at Quark’s bar. Vic made his first appearance in the episode “His Way”, and returned later in the sixth season in “Tears of the Prophets” and throughout the seventh season. Fontaine was a provider of romantic advice to the crew, helping to get Odo (René Auberjonois) and Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) together, as well as aiding Quark (Armin Shimerman) and Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) in moving on from their rivalous love for Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell). In “It’s Only a Paper Moon” he also helps Nog (Aron Eisenberg) recover from the loss of his leg (in “The Siege of AR-588”). Returning the favor in “Badda-Bing Badda-Bang”, the crew help Fontaine get his bar back after it’s taken over by the Mafia. The crew return to the bar one last time in the series finale, “What You Leave Behind”, for the celebration party following the victory over the Dominion. The character of Vic was praised by critics, who specifically said that the premise should not have worked but did, due to both the writing and Darren’s performance.

Odo et KiraIn the scene depicted on the marquee, Odo thinks the Kira he’s dancing with is not the real Kira but only a hologram Kira, which gives him the freedom to express his deepest feelings for her. Above this adorable mixed-race (she Bajoran, he Changeling) couple: Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” which debuted in the film Born to Dance, MGM 1936, in which Virginia Bruce declares in song her raging desire for a very sheepish-looking James Stewart in white tie and tails. Something I would never, ever, ever subject you to, my beloved conductor John Wilson, light of my life, fire of my loins. Even in white tie and tails.

from the album This One’s From the Heart / James Darren, vocalist / Concord 1999



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Letter to Leonard Bernstein from Felicia Montealegre, Late 1951

An extremely private but deeply moving letter, published in a collection by Yale U Press in 2013. This was written around the time she had just married Bernstein and was still acting in television (watch Felicia as Mildred in Of Human Bondage on Studio One on my YT channel here):

Lenny and FeliciaAbove the newlyweds: Bernstein’s early piano composition, “Four Anniversaries: 1. For Felicia”

Darling,

If I seemed sad as you drove away today it was not because I felt in any way deserted but because I was left alone to face myself and this whole bloody mess which is our “connubial” life. I’ve done a lot of thinking and have decided that it’s not such a mess after all.

First: we are not committed to a life sentence—nothing is really irrevocable, not even marriage (though I used to think so).

Second: you are a homosexual and may never change—you don’t admit to the possibility of a double life, but if your peace of mind, your health, your whole nervous system depend on a certain sexual pattern what can you do?

Third: I am willing to accept you as you are, without being a martyr or sacrificing myself on the L.B. altar. (I happen to love you very much—this may be a disease and if it is what better cure?) It may be difficult but no more so than the “status quo” which exists now—at the moment you are not yourself and this produces painful barriers and tensions for both of us—let’s try and see what happens if you are free to do as you like, but without guilt and confession, please!

As for me—once you are rid of tensions I’m sure my own will disappear. A companionship will grow which probably no one else may be able to offer you. The feelings you have for me will be clearer and easier to express—our marriage is not based on passion but on tenderness and mutual respect. Why not have them?

I know now too that I need to work. It is a very important part of me and I feel incomplete without it. I may want to do something about it soon. I am used to an active life, and then there is that old ego problem.

We may have gotten married too soon and yet we needed to get married and we’ve not made a mistake. It is good for us even if we suffer now and make each other miserable—we will both grow up some day and be strong and unafraid either together or apart—after all we are both more important as individuals than a “marriage” is.

In any case my dearest darling ape, let’s give it a whirl. There’ll be crisis (?) from time to time but that doesn’t scare me any more. And let’s relax in the knowledge that neither of us is perfect and forget about being HUSBAND AND WIFE in such strained capital letters, it’s not that awful!

There’s a lot else I’ve got to say but the pill has overpowered me. I’ll write again soon. My wish for the week is that you come back guiltless and happy.

~F

from The Leonard Bernstein Letters
edited by Nigel Simeone
Yale University Press, 2013


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Stephen Sondheim, Earl Wrightson, and Irwin Kostal On American Musical Theatre, WCBS, 15 October 1961

In an episode of this television series (available on my YT channel here), originally broadcast exclusively in New York City, Sondheim speaks before a workshop of NYC high school students, discussing the genesis of such songs as “Small World”, “I Feel Pretty”, and “One Hand, One Heart,” which are performed by Martha Wright and Ralph Curtis.

This show also includes question and answer period with Irwin Kostal, arranger and conductor for West Side Story. Hosted by Earl Wrightson. Produced by Ned Cramer. Directed by Neal Finn.

  • Everything’s Coming Up Roses – The CBS Orchestra
  • Small World – Martha Wright
  • Maria – Ralph Curtis
  • I Feel Pretty – Martha Wright
  • Tonight (Balcony Scene) – Ralph Curtis and Martha Wright
  • One Hand, One Heart – Ralph Curtis and Martha Wright
  • Mambo – The CBS Orchestra
  • Cool (Fugue) – The CBS Orchestra
  • Everything’s Coming Up Roses (reprise) – The CBS Orchestra

Sondheim, Wrightson, KostalAbove: Lyricist-Composer Stephen Sondheim, Baritone/Host Earl Wrightson, Orchestrator-Conductor Irwin Kostal. Again, here’s the clip on YT that provides a rare glimpse into the creative life of Sondheim and Kostal.


Here’s an excerpt transcription:

Mr Kostal, what is the difference between an orchestrator and an arranger?

It refers specifically to what you find on the music. When a composer composes a piece of music, we hope that it’s a complete piece of music, and when a man like Mr Bernstein composes the music (short laugh) it is. So all you do, you just discuss with him what he’d like to hear, flutes, violins…and you follow exactly what is written on the paper. This is what I call orchestration. Now, I get to do very little of that kind of work…because nowadays composers don’t bother with too much detail…

Steve [Sondheim] here is the kind of man we need because he’s studying music, and believe me that is a rarity on Broadway, because most composers don’t… At one time in history, composers actually did their own orchestration. They had the time in those days…but also, they could do it. For instance, Victor Herbert was a tremendous orchestrator. On one television show I did recently I actually used Mr Herbert’s scores as he wrote them in 1916—I couldn’t do ‘em any better. He knew what he was doing. Kurt Weill was the last one to do this. George Gershwin never did it on Broadway, but he—after he became a successful songwriter—studied music and learned how to orchestrate so that by the time he did Porgy and Bess he was able to do a very good job on the orchestrations.

Now, in arranging—if the composer does not do his job properly, the orchestrator has to come in and finish the job for him. Now, you’d be surprised how many times I do Broadway shows where I get roughly a one-line melody, a lead sheet, and I have to add the bass line, the harmony, the chords, and if it goes on for four minutes or a routine I have to think of things for the flutes to play and the violins to play etcetera, and it becomes a hefty job and I really feel like I am a composer’s partner when I do this*… You know, the more you do of this sort of work, the less the composer likes it. Because he’s kind of mad at you because he didn’t do it himself, I think anyway. And it serves him right. He should do it himself. I think he should go to school himself and learn. We have too many lead sheets—sure, the melody is the most important thing in music, but too many of our composers have decided to write only the melody. They have separated melody from music. Now, the art of melody writing is not a separate art from music, it’s a part of music. And when they have written this top line and leave the rest to me, they’ve got to be dissatisfied because they didn’t do it themselves. Let them get down to their business and go to school and learn to write!

[*I wonder who’s he’s talking about. Shinbone Alley’s George Kleinsinger? Fiorello’s Jerry Bock? Surely not The Music Man’s Meredith Willson—Willson went to Juilliard.]


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A Rodgers & Hammerstein Moment 3: Jack Benny Plays “Getting to Know You” with Giselle MacKenzie

jack-benny-giselle-mackenzie.jpegReally you mooks, in case you miss it below, HERE’s the clip on YT.

The audience didn’t even need the words to get the humor in this bit, so well-known is this song from The King and I (Broadway 1951, film 1956). From somewhere in the mid-50s on Jack’s TV show.


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A Rodgers & Hammerstein Moment 2: John Lithgow Sings “Oklahoma!” to Jane Curtin, with a Little Help from John Raitt

…and the entire cast of down-home diner customers, who all know the words. From season 1, episode 12 of 3rd Rock from the Sun, first aired in 1996.

3rd rock sings oklahomaYou mooks again, in case you missed it above, HERE’s the clip on YT.


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A Rodgers & Hammerstein Moment 1: The Gang at Cheers Sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to Their Despondent Pregnant Barmaid

Season 1, episode 15, 1982. Said Donna Bowman of the AV Club: “You’ll Never Walk Alone” [in the episode] took me totally aback. I can’t think of very many sitcom moments that hit that exact tone. I kept waiting for the punchline, and there’s no doubt that we’re intended to smile at the parade of patrons mumbling along under Diane’s leadership, but Carla’s reception of the gesture transforms it into the sincere expression of support that was intended. When we see her continue up the stairs, the camera following her through the window, it’s a moment that reassures the audience in a very specific way. We know Carla’s children’s welfare is actually really important, the moment says. Carla’s, too. These people are trying to do a good thing. We’re going to let them do it. You can imagine a million jokes that would undercut that message for the sake of a laugh. But they don’t come. It’s like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval for our emotions: “Invest with confidence.”

cheers sings you'll never walk aloneYou mooks, in case you missed it above, HERE’s the clip on YT.


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The Equalizer Comes to New York’s East Village, Plus Stewart Copland’s Theme Music

With the coolest theme on American TV, The Equalizer introduced Copeland’s stunningly unique sound to the mainstream audience. In keeping with the series’ mash-up concept of “tradition merged with New Age high tech,” Copeland’s musical accompaniment would, one: with the exception of hero Robert McCall himself, forego the Wagnerian structure of identifiable leitmotifs, and instead choose to score the city of New York itself as a primary character; and, two: fuse classical structure with the combo of  “percussion carrying melody and synthesized strings” attached to world rhythms. Copeland’s would be a coldly ethereal yet dense “urban ballet” sound inexorably linked to the modern cityscape. This sound would influence composers such as Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman.

610 East 9th Street NYCThey shot several episodes in my old neighborhood, the East Village, at great risk to star Woodward (two heart attacks and once he fell through an apartment building roof–not ours thankfully). That’s 610 East 9th Street, where we lived 1981-86. Rent for our 4-room inc full kitchen and full bathroom, 2 bedrooms and 1 living room, facing street: $250/m. You read that right. $250 a month.


Copeland was born in 1952. The son of CIA officer Miles Copeland, Jr (who appears as a character in Norman Mailer’s epic spy novel Harlot’s Ghost), he took up the drums at 12, was raised internationally in Cairo, Beirut, the US and England; and throughout the 1970s alternately worked as road manager and backup drummer for various groups until founding in 1977, along with Sting and Henry Padovani (later replaced by Andy Summers), the English progressive rock band The Police. After The Police went on extended hiatus in 1986, the drummer with a composer’s sensibilities dove headlong into scoring—to this day, one of his most notable works is as musical voice of The Equalizer, on which he composed 51 of 88 total episodes of the series.


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