From: Norm Johnson

For: Column for 01-05-2019

As the new year rolled in, I lost a dear friend on Wednesday, June 2, after he resigned himself to give up the fight against the illness that had grabbed hold of his body nearly a year ago. We first met at Robert Goulet’s house around 20 years ago. Mike Merrick was my idea of a true gentleman. He had class and was one of those guys who, when he met you, he made you a friend for life.  Merrick was 90-years young when he passed away on Jan. 2, with his wife Anne at his side.

A graduate of the City College of New York,  Mike received a BBA in advertising and was an active participant in undergraduate theater. He subsequently became one of the leading public relations specialists  in New York and Los Angeles, representing a diverse roster of clients including Tony Bennett, Barbara Walters, Goulet, and Harry Belafonte with whom he had an association that lasted twenty-four years, eventually becoming his concert producer and manager.

 

In another “first”  Mike was the “architect” of the national marketing campaign for John Le Carre’s first novel, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”. He was the creator of the publicity campaigns for such memorable films as “Live for Life”, “David and Lisa”, “A Man for All Seasons”, “Requiem for a Heavyweight”, “The Miracle Worker”, “The Mouse that Roared”, and “Murder, Inc.  He was also the Executive Producer of the classic film, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”

During his twenty years as a publicist, Merrick’s versatility as a marketing expert was established when  he launched  Pierre Cardin’s line of men’s clothing in the United States.  He was also a consultant to the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his organization the S.C.L.C.

His “legitimate theater” producing career began  when he conceived the Tony Award nominated play “Clarence Darrow,” starring Henry Fonda.  Merrick also produced the television version on NBC, winning the coveted Christopher and Peabody Awards for excellence, as well as the American Bar Association’s “Gavel Award” for quality achievement.

Mike’s next production was the Tony Award winning play “The Belle of Amherst,” about Emily Dickinson, starring  Julie Harris. The PBS TV version of this play won him another Christopher Award and an Emmy nomination. His association with the ever popular musical, “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane, marked his entry into the world of the commercial theatre musical. This led to the Lerner and Loewe classic revival of “My Fair Lady,” which he produced starring the original  Prof Higgins, Rex Harrison. At the same time, he presented a revival of “Camelot”, another Lerner & Loewe work of enduring excellence (A Tony nominee that year) again starring the original, King Arthur, Richard Burton.

 

Merrick’s subsequent production of “Camelot” with Richard Harris on Broadway and at  London’s West End, was later produced by him as an HBO special.  His production of the musical version of Charles Dickens’ “Copperfield,” was nominated for a Tony Award for best original score.  With the internationally acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company Mike conceived and produced, along with Edward L Rissien, a thriller about the controversial literary figure Christopher Marlowe, written by Peter Whelan: “The School of Night,” receiving unanimous critical acclaim from all the major British press.  It made its American debut at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2008.

Mike’s original relationship with Lerner and Loewe led to a  “book” musical about the relationship called, “Almost Like Being in Love.”  Originally “tried out” in a workshop production at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).  At UNLV Merrick was an adjunct professor of theatre, where he created new works for the Fine Arts/Theatre Department, and taught classes in “Producing the Play.” Mike completed filming a twelve-part video about the intricacies of  theatre producing that is now available to Universities through-out the United States. It was filmed  “on location” in New York and Los Angeles, with some of the most famed theatre locales as “background,” The video includes theatre owners, artistic directors, set designers, artists representatives, and other creative forces.

Fly smoothly Mr. Merrick, you have a lot of great friends who are expecting you.

THIS AND THAT QUICKLY;

Bob Anderson Productions and multi/ Tony Award - Winning Broadway Producer, Eva Price, and partner, Carl Flanigan, have entered into an agreement for their company, Maximum Entertainment Productions (MEP) to serve as General Manager for the Broadway Bound, and critically acclaimed theatrical production, FRANK The Man The Music.

 

FRANK The Man The Music honors the musical legacy of Frank Sinatra, one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th century and his tremendous contribution to the Great American Songbook. The show stars Bob Anderson, singer/actor and most revered singing impressionist in the world, and the only artist performing today with the complete technical skills to take on this theatrical production. Like Sinatra, his jazz-oriented sense of time is flawless, and his diction and intonation are perfect.

Anderson, who started his career with Nancy Sinatra, is a three-time winner of  “Best Entertainer” in Las Vegas. Bob is an inductee in The Casino Legends Hall of Fame and The Las Vegas Entertainer’s Hall of Fame.  He has an uncanny ability to capture not only the voice and singing style of his subjects, but their complete look and persona. In FRANK The Man The Music, Anderson delivers the performance of his life in a 90-minute re-enactment of Sinatra and his music as performed in television specials, recording studios and supper clubs, which results in his consummate dedication to Sinatra and his music.

Anderson is accompanied by an unparalleled 31-piece orchestra playing Sinatra’s original arrangements. It takes two hours for the magic of Academy Award winning makeup artist, Kazu Tsuji, and Emmy Award Winning make-up Artist, Ron Wild, to transform Anderson into Sinatra, then Anderson does the rest.

The production headlined at the prestigious Palazzo Theater in Las Vegas for a year and was voted Best Headliner, Best Live Performance, and Best Live Show, and was hailed by critics and peers from coast-to-coast.  It’s been more than 20 years since Sinatra’s passing, but his popularity hasn’t waned as evidenced by his monthly average of 4.6 million Spotify listeners, 5.6 million Facebook followers, countless YouTube videos in the millions of views, and his own SiriusXM channel. His music is being listened to 24/7 on all seven continents. Generations of all ages are still being romanced by stories of Sinatra’s swinging Las Vegas lifestyle but most of all, the music he left behind.

FRANK The Man The Music brings them as close to seeing a Sinatra concert as anyone can get.  It’s hard to believe that Frank Sinatra’s only appearance on Broadway was at the URIS Theater New York. He appeared from September 8--20, in 1975 with Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie for a total of 16 performances. Anderson’s goal is to bring Frank Sinatra back to Broadway in Spring 2019, 43 years after Sinatra first played there. Venue will be announced at a later date.

“I am honored to be working with the General Management team of Eva Price and Carl Flanigan,” Anderson said.

Eva Price’s credits include over 15 Broadway plays, musicals, and concerts. She is a member of The Broadway League’s Board of Governors and was named one of Crain’s NY 40 Under Forty Rising Business Stars.  Current and notable productions of Eva’s include; Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill (A.R.T.); Angels in America (Broadway revival starring Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield); Dear Evan Hansen (6 Tony Awards); On Your Feet! (The Story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan).

Prior to joining MEP, Carl Flanigan was General Manager and Head of Development of Blue Man Group’s highly successful theatrical business. Carl was also part of the General Management and Marketing team that licensed and marketed all of Disney’s shows throughout the world.

Global Winter Wonderland, a spectacular lantern festival and multicultural theme park, located in North lot of Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino with free parking, is keeping the holiday spirit of giving with a buy one, get one free offer on their Unlimited Carnival Ride passes, available now through Mon., Jan. 21.  Guests can travel around the world in one night while viewing the larger-than-life lantern designs of landmarks from all seven continents as well as witness the incredible feats of strength of the Shaolin Warriors, Chinese acrobats, wire walkers and more!

The family event of the holiday season also features numerous carnival rides and games, International cuisine, live entertainment, and celebrations of holiday traditions and various cultures from around the world. This offer runs through Monday, Jan. 21, General admission tickets start at $20 for adults and $18 for children 4-12, plus tax and fees. Normally $25 per person, unlimited carnival ride passes are buy-one, get-one free when purchased at the on-site box office. For more information on Global Winter Wonderland, please visit globalwonderland.com or Facebook@GWWVegas.

The International Culture Exchange Group (ICEG) founded by President Lulu Huang, International Culture Exchange Group (ICEG) is a leading producer of Global Winter Wonderland and arts and entertainment experiences that celebrate diverse cultures. He believes that in order to promote greater cooperation and respect among people of different backgrounds, it is imperative to break down social barriers and misconceptions. The memorable cultural experiences that was created, such as Global Winter Wonderland, aim to achieve this goal. For more information on ICEG, visit the website at cultureexhange.us.

Well, gang, another day, another dollar. I’m outa here!

 

 

 

 

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