–when it comes to Christmas songs, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Pat Boone, who has five Christmas albums to his credit, has now recorded what he describes as positively his best.
Of the 21 songs in the new album he wrote 4, Pete Murphy wrote the CD’s title tune, “The Spirit of Christmas,” and the other 14 song were written by Paul Alter. Who is Alter? He’s the 85 year-old writer-director producer (retired) of some of the top game shows in the biz. He’d written the Christmas tunes over the years, tossed ’em in a drawer and forgot about ’em — but his wife Lorrie discovered ’em, loved ’em, pursued the project with Paul, and on to Bob Williams, then Pat Boone who fell in love with titles like, “Is It Really Christmas?,” “If I Never Hear Another Song About Christmas,” and “Let’s Put Christ Back Into Christmas.”
“And Paul is Jewish,” Boone added — also reminding that two of the greatest Christmas songs were written by Jewish songwrters — Irving Berlin and Mel Torme. Paul Alter paid for the entire project and it’s now out and will be available on Patsgold.com. Added note on Pat: He and wife Shirley just returned from Israel where they led 37 on a pilgrimage thruout the country — from the Jordan to the top of Masada. He next undergoes surgery on his left knee in Chicago right after Thanksgiving.
And talking music — after the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman starrer, “The Bucket List” bows in the U.S. and Europe, director Rob Reiner revisits his 1987 hit, “The Princess Bride” to do as a musical. Norman Lear, who owns the rights, will produce and he wants Reiner to do it on B’way. Stephen Schwartz and Alan Mencken would tune it and William Goldman — who wrote the original pic’s screenplay from his novel — will write the B’way version as well, says Reiner.
And talking B’way musicals — while “Spamalot” is strikebound — the Aussie company bows in Melbourne with previews starting Sunday for a Dec.1 opening….And Shirley Jones who starred in “Oklahoma!,” wings to Oklahoma City Wednesday to join the all-star cast taping of the PBS “Oklahoma!” Centennial Special Nov.16.
Michael Feinstein, who was a guest artist with the New York Pops on Oct.26, with a program of music from Hollywood’s Golden Era of Musicals, is back in Zankel Hall, Wednesday, with a program saluting music by Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish. We saw Feinstein at his Pops concert in Carnegie Hall — it was a long way from where we first met when he was the mood piano player at Hollywood parties. He brought the Carnegie audience to its feet with his multi-talented tribute to the movies’ music makers. He told me he was emotional about performing on this same stage where Judy Garland had once also sung “Stormy Weather.” Feinstein wings west to appear Friday at the McCallum theater in Palm Desert with Diahann Carroll, and follows with dates Saturday and Sunday in Turlock, then Vegas. He returns to his Fesintein’s at the Regency Nov.27 to play through Dec.29.
Meanwhile over at the newly re-glammed Cafe Carlyle, Steve Tyrell tonight brings on his stage, Dionne Warwick. Last week,she had recorded “What The World Needs Now” with Steve for his upcoming album, “Back to Bacharach.” Tyrell reminds me he had started with Bacharach “When I was 18 years old — and I worked on all the songs with Dionne. She is this generation’s Ella Fitzgerald.” Tyrell is putting out the CD on his own label, New Design Records. “Other labels had wanted it — but I wanted to go out on my own,” he says. Tyrell weaves a magic spell for duos in the romantic cafe Carlyle with tunes including “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,” “The Look Of Love,” and “Just The Way You Look Tonight.”
Among those who have been in to see Tyrell — Tommy Tune, Paul Shaffer, Elaine Kaufman and Joy and Regis Philbin, with whom we spoke about his upcoming game show, “Password,” which launches next year. I told Regis Selma had been a contestant in the original show competition with celeb teammate Carol Burnett and was one of the alltime winners. I boldly suggested the new show should re-visit the original “Password” with a “tournament of past champions. Reege thought that might be a good idea. Stay tuned.