If I told you that there’s a television program that has been the number one daytime show since 1996 and that its star is not gorgeous, not very young, and she doesn't sing, dance or tell jokes, would you guess to whom I am referring? The lady is 5'1", is one of the best paid television personalities, and is watched by 10 million people daily. Just one more clue: she’s a lawyer. Okay, you got it: Judge Judy Sheindlin, that hard-nosed, sharp, no-nonsense attorney who blends sympathy for the underdog with withering contempt for the arrogant or devious. Judge Judy fires sarcasm, even scorn, at culpable defendants and plaintiffs alike. Enjoying unparalleled success at the age of 72 she admits that there are some guilty pleasures to be found in her courtroom drama. Some of her classic Judyisms are “Are you trying to justify to me that you are an idiot?” and “Beauty fades. Dumb is forever.” As a personal aside, Judge Judy graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., and so did my son, Andy, and my daughter, Jolie. But no, they are not attorneys, not on television, but in my eyes they are successes too.
“Come to the cabaret, old chum . . .” and I’m glad I did. It’s a little more than 16 years after “Cabaret” first opened and now it’s back, still top-notch from the moment you walk into Studio 54 and discover that the orchestra seats have been replaced by the seedy Kit Kat Klub, a place of decadent celebration. We were seated at a small table stage-side lit by red-shaded lamps and included was a menu to purchase food and drinks. I kept looking for the program and was told that it would be distributed as we left the theater. The tireless Alan Cumming, reprising his role as the MC, is highly sexualized wearing suspenders around his crotch and sporting rouged nipples. He over-articulates so that every word comes out loud, lascivious, and clear. Mr. Cumming is still having a good time in the part which made him a star. Actress Michelle Williams plays an exuberantly hedonistic Sally. And I kept wondering: where did they find so many gorgeous long-legged, scantily-clad beauties who could act, sing, dance, and even play an instrument. It’s a classic Kander and Ebb score as played by the barely dressed cabaret girls and boys. With its sexually specific choreography, and erotic polymorphism the “Cabaret” of 2014 is a winner. I’m glad I came to the cabaret.
Last month one couldn’t read a newspaper or turn on television without hearing about Barbara Walters’ retirement. The lady was feted grandly and ABC paid high honors to Walters – naming the network’s New York news headquarters in her name. All will agree that the Emmy-winning reporter’s amazing credits include being the first woman network news co-anchor, a master interviewer of world leaders and celebrities, chief correspondent and co-host of ABC’s “20/20" for 25 years. Walters was truly a trail-blazing TV journalist. She traveled all over the world and did interviews that remain important to this day. When she did the interviews she felt that the personality and character were important to have the viewers feel they knew this person. And woe to those who underestimated Walters’ work strength and steely resolve not to mention her power to draw viewers, reinvent herself, and remain relevant. “The View” was her creation and it reinvented daytime television even spawning a host of imitations like “The Talk” and “The Chew.” She did things that old-school newsmen frowned upon. Walters soldiered on to become a visible and viable entity in the traditional old-boy network of TV broadcasting and news, and she figured it out with a great deal of savvy. A woman in her eighties with all her successes behind her can’t be willing to be “one of the ladies who lunch” – not that there’s anything wrong with that! Personally I don’t believe in retiring (neither did Cher who “retired” three or four times) unless one retires to something. Barbara Walters might sleep later, see friends, but I predict she’ll get up one morning and say, “How can I make this a good productive day?” This gal won’t be sweating the small stuff or sitting for hours watching television unless it's "The View" where she is executive producer. Although Ms. Walters said she is leaving television, her final word was not adieu. She did say “à bientôt!” Well, I do have a license to teach French, and though my knowledge has atrophied, I think that means “I’ll be back!” I hope so.
You can e-mail June Sturz at firstname.lastname@example.org