If you’re wondering why Hawaii superstar Bruno Mars, pictured below, performed one of his chart-toppers, “Treasure,” at the Fairmont Orchid’s launch of the new SelvaRey Rum Bar, the answer is simple: He was toasting a rum he owns.

‘Twas was a private, invitational event, and Mars likely waived his singing fees since he is  co-owner of SelvaRey Rum, a prestige brand whose aged, single estate White, Chocolate, Coconut and Owner’s Reserve Rums are distilled in Panama.

Waimea folks must’ve heard about a luminary local lad was in their vicinity, and for the occasion, rum’s the word. I mean, how many singers own a rum distillery, and can sing about his boozy treasure? …

Michael Paulo still serving jazz

The sax man cometh again.

Michael Paulo, pictured right, a “name” in the jazz circle here and abroad, will stage yet another “Smooth Jazz  Paradise” Concert, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (May 28) at the Hibiscus Ballroom of the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra.

Paulo has assembled an all-star band featuring Marion Meadows, a prestigious contemporary jazz saxophonist, who will be joined by Randy Aloya on bass, Michael Grande on keyboards, Garin Poliahu on drums, and Zanuck Lindsey on guitar. Al Waterson will emcee.

A VIP Experience, at 6:30 p.m., includes a meet-and-greet with the artists at a cocktail reception, with coveted premium front-row seating at $250 per person.

Other tickets: $65 presale, for reserved table seating ($70 at the door) and $60 pre-sale for general admission ($65 at the door), available at or (951) 696-0184. …

Remembering Tina Turner

Tina Turner, the hypnotic, gyrating, authentic Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, peacefully died today (May 24) at age 83 at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland. She had a long illness, and Switzerland was her kingdom of peace.

From her early farmland roots, Turner, pictured left, rose to dizzying heights of splendor, as a genuine star of her rock and blues roots, surviving an abusive relationship with her husband  guitar-strumming Ike Turner, whom she divorced.

She was the unchallenged deity of rock, with numerous hit songs recently. explored in a Broadway musical about her conflicted life, and surely a model of a survivor.

Turner was known for her brassy, often gravelly voice in delivery, and her varying style of dress ranging from blue jean jackets to glitzy, shimmering gowns with fringes that danced while body language punctuated her frenetic dances.

Her hit songs were very much a reflection of the soundtrack of life for several decades, from the 1980s to the 2020s, via such classics as “River Deep, Mountain High,” “Simply the Best,” “Private Dancer,”  “Proud Mary,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

Rock legends reflected on her passing.

Brian Wilson, of the Beach Boys, said on Twitter: “I’m so sorry to hear about Tina Turner. I loved Tina and her voice and energy – she was one of the greats. ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ will always be one of my favorite songs. And nothing beats her version of ‘Proud Mary.’”

Bryan Adams, a Canadian artist  who joined Turner on the 1985 single “It’s Only Love,” said “the world just lost one hell of a powerhouse of a woman.”

Mick Jagger, leader of the Rolling Stones, grieved her  passing and called Turner “enormously talented.” “She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous,” Jagger said in a Twitter post. “She helped me so much when I was young, and I will never forget her.”

Diana Ross’ tweet: “Shocked. Saddened. Sending condolences to Tina Turner’s family and loved ones.”

Singer Ciara said on Twitter: “Heaven has gained an angel. Rest in Paradise Tina Turner. Thank you for the inspiration you gave us all.”

In Hawaii, there was a mammoth concert, staged inside Diamond Head Crater, supposedly for a hush-hush Pepsi-Cola convention audience, starring Tina Turner.  Busloads headed to the crater, in the dark of night, then returned for the après-show journey. Believe this was one of the last-ever performance event inside our iconic Hawaii landmark, and the fact that the queen of rock ruled in such a prestigious moment – if you’re Tina, you get state approval to do the gig, where others fail – should be added to her lists of triumphs. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


So, with Iam Tongi crowned as the 2023 “American Idol,” there’s buzz of all kinds about his potential as a bona fide star of the future.

You know, work his way up to the ranks of a Bruno Mars. Maybe sings on the soundtrack of an island-themed movie. Maybe lands a lucrative recording contract.

Will Tongi, pictured left, join the ranks of the rich and famous? Hope so. However, he needs to chart a plan and secure a skilled talent manager to help oversee his interests and collaborate with the goal of shaping a career path. Tongi requires a vision to match his unique talent

My former Honolulu Advertiser colleague  Bart Asato, a dependable, prolific and spot-on commentator and observer of the tempo and flavors of life, is currently reflecting (on Facebook) on who among the former and even current musicians and entertainers, have charted No. 1 hits.

Because Bruno, pictured right, is very now and very wow, we know Mars frequently on the charts, as himself backed by the Hooligans, and also as one-half of Silk Sonic, a smooth r&b act.

And yes, Asato’s right about  Bette Midler, pictured left, the Divine Miss M. Her credits include “From a Distance,” which peaked at No. 2; “The Rose,” which went to #3; “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” which surprising peaked at #8; and “Do You Wanna Dance” topped out at #17.

“Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You” was soooooo popular, even performed by a teen-age Glenn Medeiros on “The Tonight Show” hosted by Johnny Carson.

Medeiros, pictured left, also had a biggie, with rapper Bobby Brown,  “She Ain’t Worth It,” which was #1 in the UK but reached #12 in the U.S.

Other early groundbreaking island talents included Robin Luke, pictured above, a Punahou teen, who wrote and sang an original about his kid sister, and “Susie Darling” was a hottie on “American Bandstand” and peaked at #5.

The Kingston Trio, pictured right on a Life Magazine cover, featured Bob Shane, Dave Guard and Nick Reynolds, was a folk music legend with “Tom Dooley” spiraling to #1. Share and Guard were Buffanblu grads. All are deceased now.

Another star who called Hawaii home, Tommy Sands, was truly “The Singin’ Idol,” a TV film that produced “Teen-age Crush,” Sands’ signature song, which was #1 on Cashbox and #2 on Billboard.  Sands, pictured right, starred at the old Outrigger Showroom at the Outrigger Waikiki, and gigged as a nostalgia star before relocating here.

Martin Denny, specializing in exotic music, became a global guru of what evolved as tiki music, was knows for his reinterpretation of a Les Baxter instrumental, “Quiet Village,” which became his signature. He did periodic Hawaii shows and retired in Hawaii Kai, where he died in 2005 at age 93.

So arigato, Asato-san, for your reminiscence. Doing this bit not to compete with you, but to complement your thoughts…

And that’s Show Biz. …


Hawaii actress-singer Nicole Scherzinger will be ready for her film closeup when she stars as Norma Desmond, a silent movie star struggling with the arrival of talkies, in a West End revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical, “Sunset Boulevard.”

Scherzinger, pictured below, is no stranger to Lloyd Webber productions. She earlier played Grizabella in a London version of the  musical, “Cats.”

The “Sunset Boulevard” reboot will open in September in the midst of the 30th anniversary of the show, to be staged at the Savoy Theatre in London, directed by Jamie Lloyd.

Lloyd Webber said of Scherzinger, “Nicole is one of the finest singers I have worked with, and I can’t wait to get started on this exciting show with her and the rest of this brilliant team.”

The Desmond role, echoing the life and times of silent movie star Gloria Swanson when she was facing the transition to movie talkies, has a storied past. Patti LuPone originated the role in London, Glenn Close starred in Los Angeles and later on Broadway in New York.

Scherzinger also played Grace in “Annie Live!,” a revival of “Annie,” and voiced the Sina character in Disney’s animated “Moana.”  She also starred in ABC’s update of “Dirty Dancing.” …

‘Bad’ news for Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Bad Cinderella,” an unlikely interpretation of the legendary fairytale, is shutting down June 4 at the Imperial Theatre in New York.

The closure, and a brief four-month run, is not surprising.

Lloyd Webber, pictured right, has had a golden run on Broadway for nearly 45 years of triumphs. Thus, his reign is over, since his biggie, “The Phantom of the Opera,” finally has left the building known as the Majestic Theatre. The grand master of British musical has had bad luck this year, when “Cinderella” ticket sales soured, and worse, the show earned zero Tony nominations but amassed mostly bad reviews.

Lloyd Webber’s storied success, which began with “Evita” in 1979, generated a tidal wave of British blockbusters transferred to Broadway from the West End, including his “Cats,” with humans as felines; “Starlight Express,” with actors as railroad cars; “Sunset Boulevard,” about the reclusive and wilting Hollywood silent-film actress battling the arrival of talkies; “Jesus Christ, Superstar,”  a rock opera about the religious icon; “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” with a hero with a multi-hued coat; and “School of Rock,” about  youngsters rocking it out with their school teacher.

A sequel to “Phantom,” with the masked one relocated at Coney Island, never made it to the Great White Way, but in Lloyd Webber’s prime, his stage successes also commanded more Brit imports from the West End to Broadway, including “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon.”

Ah, memories….

New g.m. at Chamber Music Hawaii

Christopher Cabrera is the new general manager of Chamber Music Hawaii. He is both a musician and an educator, serving as associate principal timpanist and section percussionist with the Hawaii Symphony orchestra, and serves as a community outreach instructor with the Hawaii Youth Symphony.

Additionally, Cabrera is a board member for the Musicians’ Association of Hawaii, Local 677, American Federation of Musicians and serves as chair of the symphony’s orchestra committee. …

And that’s Show Biz. …


Negotiate. Abbreviate. Collaborate.

That the tension over the Tony Awards June 11 — will it proceed, or will it be canceled, because there was a Writers Guild of America strike a few days ago — is over.

The show will go on, thanks to the WGA, with some alterations but without union picketers obstructing attendees at the United Palace theater, in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

According to the New York Times, Broadway’s biggest night, televised by CBS for decades, will go on as planned, with all parties reaching a workable temporary agreement.

Last Friday, the awards show was nil. By Monday, a sense of unity energized both sides, essentially enabling the tradition to continue, with some concessions.

“As they have stood by us, we stand with our fellow workers on Broadway who are impacted by our strike,” the Writers Guild of America — which represents screenwriters —  said in a statement late Monday.

But the show cannot rely on pre-written scripts to reflect the glory and the highlights of the 2023 season. The Times noted,  “Tony Awards Productions (a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing) has communicated with us that they are altering this year’s show to conform with specific requests from the WGA, and therefore the WGA will not be picketing the show,” the union said in a statement. “Responsibility for having to make changes to the format of the 2023 Tony Awards rests squarely on the shoulders of Paramount/CBS and their allies. They continue to refuse to negotiate a fair contract for the writers represented by the WGA.”

A revised telecast is better than none. The Broadway community still is wrestling with the three-year pandemic shutdown, and it would have been devastating if the event was totally canceled.

The current hit shows rely on the awards outcome to fuel ticket-buying. The nominated shows are eager to earn a trophy or two, and the newbies which opened in the past few weeks, are struggling to find patrons, too.

The revised plans would include the usual presentation of key awards and live performances of songs from Broadway musicals, but how the protocols work out remain to be seen or heard. Scripted material, prepared prior to the brief threat of a shutdown, cannot be utilized, with the Tony producers abiding to the regulations.

A lot of ad-libbing, perhaps? The awards show is live, so the nominees and presenters may have to resort to the spontaneity of the moment in real time.

Still uncertain, if last year’s host and eventual Tony winner, Ariana DeBose (pictured,) from  “West Side Story,” will host again. She volunteered for the gig, but no decision has been made.

Like Hollywood’s film community, Broadway’s stage industry is heavily unionized, where participants of both entertainment camps are aware of the complications of taking part in the show, with some restrictions to members. For instance, if writers are forbidden to produce scripts for the show, but how does an appearance of a singer, dancer, or musician play out with some kind of script? The dots over the i’s and the crosses across the t’s are up to interpretation.

Prominent theater artists who work on Broadway and are allied with the writers guild also spoke up on behalf of the Tonys, arguing that forcing the show off the air would be catastrophic to the art form and to the many arts workers it employs. The combination of the lobbying efforts and the new conditions appear to have prompted the guild to finally agree Monday that the show would go on.

The striking screenwriters have argued that their wages have stagnated and working conditions have deteriorated despite the fact that television production has exploded over the last decade. Think streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. Negotiations between the major Hollywood studios — represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — and the WGA broke down a month ago, triggering  11,500 writers voting for a strike May 2…

Prime time for Bruddah Iz

Just when you think that the prime time run of Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole’s hit song, “Over the Rainbow” is over, along comes another major placement on Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” earlier this week.

Bruddah Iz’s (pictured, right) very familiar “oooh-oooh-oooh” intro, along with the first verse of the iconic song from “The Wizard of Oz,” had prominent exposure in the wedding scene of T.K. Strand (played by Ronen Rubinstein) and Carlos Reyes (enacted by Rafael Souza), first-responder fireman and police officer, respectively) as they marched down the aisle to exchange their I-do’s sealed with a kiss. ‘Twas the perfect heart-tugging melody, then and now again.

The song has been Hawaii’s No. 1 hit ever since Iz died in 1997, heard in films, TV, and commercial spots globally … but apparently a new generation of fans will again enjoy the new wave of exposure. Great news. …

Broadway grosses, for week ending May 14

Not surprisingly, the million dollar club on the Great White Way, continues to be “The Lion King.”

The Disney musical has topped the weekly grosses tally, provided by the Broadway League. It regained the pinnacle, ever since Hugh Jackman’s “Music Man” prevailed with $3 million grosses week after week.

Here’s the ranking of the top seven shows:

1 — “The Lion King,” $1.950 million.

2 — “Hamilton,” $1.889 million.

3 — “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” $1.840 million.

4 — “Funny Girl,” $1.637 million.

5 — “MJ, the Musical,” $1.606 million.

6 — “Wicked,” $1.500 million.

7 — Moulin Rouge,” $1.262 million.

And here’s the entire list of the Broadway grosses…

And that’s Show Biz …


The 2023 Tony Awards, set for June 11 in New York, are in jeopardy.

Unless the Writers Guild of America strike is settled in the next few weeks, the planned telecast on CBS won’t happen.

The American Theatre Wing and Broadway League, two sponsors of the annual awards fest, are huddling about what to do.

They sought a waiver to enable the show to proceed, with no success. If the event is held without some agreement for a green-light, it’s likely that nominees and presenters would not attend, since that would be crossing the line.

No pact, no presence of keen participants. So talks evidently will continue.

The Tonys are Broadway’s biggest promotional opportunity.

So what are potential options and effects?

The strike settlement would mean business as usual.

The Tonys could be postponed till after the strike is over and writers go back…to writing. Delaying the show is nothing new; during the first year of the pandemic, the Tonys were shelved till later. The 2020 event was pushed back to the fall of 2021, after theaters reopened after the COVID crisis.

The Tonys are the Broadway community’s largest promotional tool. Winning shows would see a burst of  ticket sales. Winning actors and other aspects of play production would get a boost in popularity and likely a jump in salary.

New plays or musicals, in particular, need the exposure from the Tonys; without the show, the struggling productions would have to shut down.

The New York Times reports that four of the five nominees for Best New Musicals are not filling seats to cover the production costs each week, and  all nominees could get a jump in box office sales. Even a nominee that doesn’t win usually gets a boost if a production number performed live on the Tony show connects with viewers at home.

If the strike lingers, theaters would remain dark for the duration of the walk-out; the 2007 WGA strike lasted more than three months, resolved in 2008.

So the stakes are large, and producers are trying to figure out a path to success…or an end to the strike. …

Broadway grosses, week ending May 7

“Sweeney Todd, the Demon of Fleet Street” is moving on up; it’s now in the No. 2 slot of the week’s top-grossing shows.

Thus, the Top 7 rankings look like this:

1 – “The Lion King,” $1.961 million.

2 – “Sweeney Todd,” 1.826 million.

3—“Hamilton,” $1.778 million.

4 – “MJ, the Musical,” $1.653 million.

5 – “Wicked,” $1.484 million.

6 – “Funny Girl,”  $1.448 million.

7 – “Moulin Rouge,” $1.250 million.

The weekly list, courtesy The Broadway League:

And that’s Show Biz. …