SCOTT SCHECHTER – PART TWO
Author and Judy Garland/Liza Minnelli historian Scott Schechter had not always been persona-non-grata with the Lorna Luft (Judy Garland’s second daughter) camp nor factions of the Garland fan base. He actually helped run the Lorna List, which was an attempt at a discussion forum similar to the popular The Judy List. Scott provided periodic updates on Lorna’s activities to The Judy List, and when the “Judy” (aka “The Box”) CD/VHS set was released, Lorna officially promoted it in stores and on TV.
NOTE: All quotes and transcripts from The Judy List have been copied verbatim from the List archives, as made available for download on The Judy List website for several years running prior to its demise. These archives include personal email addresses and full names. I have x’d out the email addresses and removed the last names, replacing them with just the first name only or the first name initial – excepting the names of celebrities, known authors, media producers, webmasters, those with published works, etc.
Also, note that “[snip]” means that a paragraph or section of a post has been removed as being irrelevant to the subject at hand.
Subject: Announcement Of The LORNA List
From: GARLANDS63 <GARLANDS63@aol.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Apr 1998 21:42:13 EDT
I’m very happy to announce that THE LORNA LIST is at last here!
In speaking to Lorna last night after her lecture here at The 92nd Street Y, I mentioned that she should have something on the Web that can let people know about what’s happening with her professionally. She said ” I don’t know all that much about computers and the Web; You know everything about me : Why don’t YOU do it?”
So, here we are ……. To subscribe to the LORNA List (which will be sent out in Digest form only, via E-mail; The first one — with the latest news on her media appearances — is ready to be sent now), send an e-mail to me, with the SUBJECT listed as “SUBSCRIBE ME,” to :
This will be a way for those of us who admire Lorna’s talents to find out about her lastest appearances, and share our thoughts on her work. (I want to keep things focussed on her professional activities and NOT her personal life.)
I hope to hear from all the JUDY LIST members who also enjoy Lorna.
All Best and Warmest,
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 05/20/98
From: GARLANDS63 <GARLANDS63@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 14:30:17 EDT
Please forgive me in advance for using this space for a quick “Lorna alert,” but do to a storm last night here in NY, I’m computer-less for a few days (I’m doing this with tin cans, and string! 🙂
Lorna will be on Tom Synder’s CBS late night show this Friday night, May 22nd (early Saturday), at 12:35 PM here (check your listings.)
And — what the heck, I may as well go for it, while I’m at it — if you haven’t checked out the Lorna List Web Site lately, please do so : It’s strating to grow, and we’re even selling Lorna’s book, on-line, and her Cds and videos …. There’s also a chat room …. So stop by! 🙂
The address is :
Thanks for “indulging me a little”
All Best and Warmest,
Scott also happily promoted future rival John Fricke’s work. Here is one of several examples:
Just heard about a NEW Judy CD to be released by RHINO on either October 20th or 27th : A single disc “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” CD. I always thought this would be a “Super Saver” issue when it happened, but it will be a full- priced, $16.98 release, which means it’s more likely to have a rare and / or previously unreleased track or two (apart from the material that has already been released by Rhino of the Turner movie songs.)
No idea of track listings yet, but our beloved GEORGE FELTENSTEIN is producing it. Let’s hope John Fricke is involved also!
A month later, Fricke returned the compliment by lauding Scott in a post in which he mentioned Scott’s letter to the editor of the NY Times (copied below, just after Fricke’s post):
Subject: Mark and Scott and Capitol
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 09:00:04 EDT
BRAVO, Mark, on your beautiful response to the wire-service reporter… magnificently, intelligent stated and presented facts. (Likewise your tasteful, clear-eyed, “real” assessment of the Lorna situation.) Ditto to Scott for the TIMES letter-to-the-editor.
And Max — NO apologies necessary as re: the Capitol disc. When they first approached me about it, they were planning on a repertoire of material that had basically NOTHING to do with the JG “Biography.” I tried to steer them in a better, tie-in direction (albeit still frustrated that this would boil down to just another compilation yet again). They took some of those suggestions. Then after first asking me to do the liner notes, they discovered A&E would be doing the writing themselves. (I cringed but have yet to see the finished product, so perhaps that’s premature 🙂 Then they asked me to at least “vet” the finished notes for accuracy and tone. (Never saw ’em 🙂 All throughout, they asked me to supply rare unpublished art; I pulled 30+ photos and sent them photocopies from which to make their selection…and then never heard from them again. So I’m well out of this one 🙂
Subject: My Letter to the editor on the Sunday NY Times Article
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 14:15:10 EDT
As if you haven’t had enough of my “rantings” (yesterday, re
Lorna), I decided to share with you my letter to the editor of
the NY Times Arts and Leisure section, on Sunday’s Judy piece.
To : JOHN ROCKWELL
Letter to The Editor (“Letters”) of SUNDAY ARTS AND LEISURE Section (LETTERS)
Re article : “JUDY GARLAND AS FORCE OF NATURE” ; Sunday, June 14th, 1998
Camille Pagila “gets” much of what made Judy Garland “tick”as a performer, in her article on the legendary singer (“Judy Garland As Force Of Nature,” Sunday, June 14th.) There are many errors to be found in her thoughtful piece, however, both factual and from a psychological point.
For starters, Judy’s two legendary concerts at Carnegie Hall were not both in May, 1961, as Pagila reports. The first concert (from which the historic Capitol Records discs come from; Capitol did NOT record the second concert) was performed on April 23rd. The second (and most people don’t realize there WAS a second concert) was on May 21st. (The 2-disc set has always been known as simply “Judy At Carnegie Hall” : Like the performer, the recording needs no last name. There was only one JUDY in show business, and only one “Judy At Carnegie Hall” album.) (Also, Ms. Pagila seems unaware that the version of the song “Alone Together” that she raves about is actually not from Carnegie Hall, but rather was lifted from her 1960 “That’s Entertainment” studio album : the original tape made at Carnegie had been damaged for those few moments of “Alone Together,” so Judy rerecorded the song in the studio, but Capitol Records could not find this version for their CD issuance, and thus took the rendition from the “Entertainment” album. The difference in sound quality between this one song and all the others on the “Carnegie” discs would appear to be quite obvious to even the most casual listener, let alone someone listening in “awe,” as Pagila says she was doing.)
Pagila also insists on sticking with the already over-done connection between Garland and gay men. She offers the same tired routine we’ve heard for years : that “friends of Dorothy” only relate to Judy due to their shared life’s traumas. Could it be that gay men — or for that that matter, ANYONE who loves Judy Garland, no matter what their sexual identity (and I’ve never understood exactly what whom someone sleeps with has to do with their taste in music) — love her simply because of her TALENT? (As Liza Minnelli responded once to this same question: “It must be because they (gay men) have GOOD TASTE!”) (And, having researched Garland’s life and career for the last 25 years, I must say I have NEVER noticed Judy being “at war with her body.” Where in the world did THAT come from?! …. I also never noticed her “agony of dissatisfaction and incompletion.” With all that Judy achieved in her lifetime? I don’t think so.) You don’t need to be gay to identify with Judy Garland, you just need to be HUMAN! Sorry, but singing was NOT Garland’s “search for gender,” but rather her truest expression of self. (As Judy said in 1967 : “When I’m onstage I am completely myself : It’s when I’m offstage that I sometimes become someone else.”)
The author also insists on overanalyzing Judy’s voice itself by stating “I wonder whether Garland’s wavering between male and female timbres had anything to do with her hostility towards her mother and her lifelong attraction to gay men.” Pagila already had stated that Judy was practically BORN with this voice (“a gift that appeared virtually full-formed when she was a toddler”), so I’d say this was a contradiction. (Another one is Pagila’s praising Judy’s “delirious communion with an audience,” shortly after calling this same repour a “desperate aspect of Garland’s stage manner.”)
Factual errors aside, perhaps the most distressing psychological misstep here is Pagila’s insistence on sticking to the image of Judy Garland as a life of pure and complete tragedy. Stating that Garland “collapsed into vacillating misery offstage,” or that she “was addicted to chaos,” dismisses the things that everyone who knew her immediately mentions when recalling Judy: Her razor-sharp wit; her fall-down-funny sense of humor. This was coupled with an ability that she had in abundance (which most people seem to want to forget) : to continually pick herself up and remind the world of her vast talents. You don’t get to be a “force of nature” without having an inner source of strength to tap into. (Perhaps gay men identify with this POSITIVE attribute of hers? Could we consider this for a moment?) Pagila states that she had “few survival skills,” thus not seeing Judy Garland as the ULTIMATE survivor : a woman of such astounding strength that she was able to battle the heads of both MGM and CBS, along with the critics, the gossip columnists, and the public’s perceptions, to produce a body of work perhaps equaled only by Sinatra : 40 films, 60 TV shows, 100 single recordings and a dozen albums, and easily 1,500 concert, nightclub, theater, charity, military, and vaudeville performances. You don’t get to have a 45 year long career (from 1924 – 1969) in this industry, with a body of work this size, if you are always having “artistic opportunities squandered” and your “personal happiness permanently deferred.”
I am not trying to imply that the lady had an idyllic life. As Lorna Luft makes clear in her recently-published moving memoir “Me And My Shadows,” Judy Garland was all too human. That fact is not an excuse for the world (nor the NY TIMES for that matter) to neglect the reason Carnegie Hall is paying tribute to her — and the reason why she will always be rediscovered and adored — she was the greatest female entertainer of this century, and the proof is still with us in her vast body of work: The Legend’s Legacy.
Thanks for reading.
All Best and Warmest,
Scott defended Lorna in 1998 when she said in an interview that the online fans (allegedly targeted at The Judy List) needed to “get a life.” Many people on the List expressed their anger about that remark and other remarks of hers from that interview. Here is Scott’s defense of Lorna:
Subject: Lorna Lashing
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 19:06:46 EDT
I’m just astounded at the ability of Judy fans to rip to shreads her daughters. I’ve sat still during the book-bashing, but when it comes to attacking Lorna Luft’s talent …. look out!
The LIZA LIST has seen a spate of this as well, so I’m going to reprint what I said there, as I feel it is appropriate here also.
This is in response to the posting about Lorna Luft’s merits as a performer, and the odds of her ever playing Carnegie Hall in a concert that was NOT a tribute to her mother.
You might be interested to know that Lorna has actually appeared at Carnegie Hall on TWO previous occassions, and NEITHER had anything to do with her mother (or her sister, for that matter.) ……. In October 1981, she closed an all-star benefit concert (I don’t recall the charity at the moment, although I can look it up in my files at a later date) : Her songs were a Medley of songs from Broadway Musicals that SHE had performed in, including the title song from “Promises, Promises” ; “Love Makes The World Go Round” from “Carnival”; and “I Still Believe In Love” from “They’re Playing Our Song.” Lorna then encored with “Carolina In The Morning,” and I can assure you (and the audio tape I have of her spot proves) that the audience was not yelling “bravo,” because of her mother and sister. …… In June 1991, Lorna closed the first act of an all-star tribute to COLE PORTER, by belting out “Blow Gabriel, Blow.” Having been there, I can assure you the rafters did ring with the audiences approval (but a tape does exist of a radio broadcast of highlights from the concert — including Lorna’s song — if you don’t believe me.)
Perhaps you might also like to know that LIZA has always been quite vocal about Lorna’s talents : One evidence of this that first comes to mind, is a 1985 interview where Liza states “I think she (Lorna) should be a much bigger star : She has a much better voice than I do, a much more natural sound.”
Judy also praised Lorna’s singing (long before it would develop into the multi-octive wonder that has won cheers every time I’ve seen her “live”) : Among her tributes : “Lorna is the REAL voice in the family” ; “Lorna is the Sarah Bernhardt of Scarsdale” ; and “Lorna has more talent than all of us put together.”
I thought the LIZA LIST was not going to continue as a “Jerry Springer” of the internet, and yet, although we don’t appear to be attacking each other DIRECTLY any longer, many people DO seem to be attacking Lorna Luft. Anyone has a right to not be happy about her book (although, frankly, I found no distressing or even NEW information about Liza in it’s pages, because, let’s face it: her life has been “an open book” all her life anyway, thanks to the media.) I’ve sat through months now, of people attacking Lorna’s book, and have not said a word in return. What upsets me here is the need now to attack Lorna’s TALENT, when there are many of us who admire her abilties as a performer. (And I don’t care WHO her family is : NO ONE would be able to earn a VERY good living as a singer and performer for the last TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS, if they didn’t have talent, and if audiences didn’t respond to them when they were on stage.)
I would hope that if you care about even one of the three , you would not find a need to publicly attack the other two.
Because when someone insists that one of the three has no talent or merit as a performer (and what EXACTLY have you HEARD of Lorna Luft’s singing?), they are not only insulting Lorna, Judy, or Liza, but all those who love them, as well. And being one of those people, I don’t appreciate it.
PS : Reporters ARE known to either reprint things out of context, OR misunderstand what their subject is really saying. Therefore, not having BEEN THERE WHILE Lorna was being interviewed, I can not PROPERLY pass judgement on it. However, having known her for 16 years now, I’ve never seen her not appear at least OUTWARDLY grateful for the public’s appreciation of her family, and of herself.
Scott’s letter to the editor of the New York Times made it into the paper’s Sunday edition, as the late author Al DiOrio noted:
Subject: No Subject
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 1998 21:46:41 EDT
Judy does seem to be in the news more often than usual these days!
Just wanted to mention, in case it went otherwise unnoticed that Scott Schecter’s letter to the editor appeared in this Sunday’s New York Times. I believe he shared the contents with the list when he originally wrote it so I won’t take up list space repeating it now, but it appeared on page two of the Arts & Leisure Section under the headline “Judy Garland” (where do they come up with these ideas!?) The letter was then continued on Page 16 of the same section.
Good work Mr. S.!
Thanks to Jeff Freeman – it’s good to be back!
The Carnegie tributes have pushed me into yet another intensive period of Judy video-watching. Last night, I just couldn’t stop watching Old Man River over and over again. There was simply no one like her. (Which, as far as I’m concerned, explains anyone’s devotion to her talents Ms. Paglia! But then Scott said that – and so has John more times than anyone can count.)
In early 1999 things began to change. The Lorna updates were suddenly coming from Fricke and not Scott. That’s not to say that Fricke hadn’t already posted random Lorna updates. He had, usually in conjunction with her book and the talk about a miniseries based on it. But there was silence from Scott about Lorna’s activities. Scott did provide a few other posts, unrelated to Lorna.
Subject: Lorna/60 Minutes
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 00:53:07 EST
For those who have been asking, the miniseries on Lorna’s book has
passed all its preliminary network hurdles and is now deep into
scripting. As executive- in-charge, she maintains much control
over the project and is working closely with the writer and
producers; their principal casting efforts will soon be underway.
(This might be a good time to rev up all those of the intelligent
suggestions that were posted here last spring in hopes they’ll
see/consider them…!) In addition to that project, Lorna has
also joined forces with another active, creative force of
professionals (including two of Hollywood and New York’s most
respected writers/arrangers/special material honchos) and, with
them, is in the process of assembling her first major concert
tour/showcase. It’s a massive undertaking but sure to excite any
who thrilled to her vocals at Carnegie Hall last June…or in any
of her various club, cabaret, and theatre dates the last few
Also: just a reminder that the new weeknight edition of CBS-TV’s
60 Minutes will spend a portion of each episode looking back at a
favorite past story…and their 1975 piece on Judy has already
been tapped as a logical choice. The 13-minute Garland segment
(comprised of old and new footage) is already completed and will
run sometime over the next few months.
It all came to a head in 1999 when Scott posted a glowing review of the premiere of Lorna’s Judy Garland tribute show, “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” He had minor carps with a few things, like anyone reviewing a brand new show might have, and he followed his fan review with the first professional review of the show.
Lorna’s husband, Colin Freeman, took offense to Scott’s review and especially his alleged actions at Lorna’s show. Scott was accused of selling his “Garlands for Judy” magazine in the lobby. Colin also accused Scott of recording the show without permission with the intent to sell it for profit. That claim was never substantiated.
After reading Scott’s review, then Colin’s response, it seems to me that Colin just couldn’t handle criticism. It’s hard to believe someone like him, in show business, was so overly sensitive to some minor criticisms about his wife’s show that came not from a professional critic but a fan. He just blasts into Schechter in spite of the fact that Schechter’s review was positive and in spite of the fact that after that review Schechter provided almost daily updates on Lorna’s tour schedule and where to get tickets (not copied here). He was actually helping her by getting the word out about her concert. At the end of Colin’s rant, he suddenly threw out his and Lorna’s support for John Fricke, in his role (new at the time?) as the “Editorial Director” for The Judy Garland Heir’s Trust. The Trust was supposedly made up of Judy’s three children, Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft, and Joey Luft and was, as the name suggests, a trust for Judy’s kids that would ensure they received royalties on various Judy Garland product allegedly controlled by the Trust. This apparent change by the Luft camp from Scott to Fricke makes me wonder just what went on behind the scenes to suddenly oust Scott. I can’t believe it was solely the simple act of him trying to sell his “Garlands for Judy” magazine at her show or even his alleged recording of the show. Let’s face it, bootleg recordings of shows have been circulating among fan bases for decades.
In all of the discussions I had with Scott, we never talked in detail about this incident. All he ever said was that he was ignorant about selling his magazine at the show and that he did not record it. Well, we all learn some lessons the hard way.
After the “Judy at Carnegie Hall” tribute shows in June 1998, Scott posted to the List that “due to an overwhelming number of requests” he decided to share copies of his audio cassettes of the shows. Perhaps this is why it was assumed he taped Lorna’s show, although his taping of the Carnegie Hall shows was received in kind.
In 2009, not long before his untimely death, Scott was accused of stealing public domain audio from a Garfreak Yahoo Group and selling it on an auction site. He wasn’t techie enough to do that. I know, as he would record Liza’s audio messages for her official site with no problem but couldn’t reformat anything, let alone for producing CDs. Besides, he didn’t have the time to get into the bootleg market, not when he was so involved in the many legitimate Garland and Liza Minnelli releases that he spearheaded. Later I found out who was really selling those alleged stolen recordings. It definitely was not Scott Schechter. As a matter of fact, the real seller of those CDs didn’t even know Scott. I mention this here to point out that even fifteen (plus) years after this debacle, Schechter is still a target for the Garfreaks to fling mud at regarding this and other subjects even though he’s been gone for over seven years now. As expected, although his book “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” has been unfairly maligned because of a few mistakes it’s still used by the Garfreak groups for their daily updates, just as I use it for similar purposes on The Judy Room’s Facebook Page. In other words, they’re hypocrites.
Here is Scott’s post about Lorna’s show. This is the one that “started it all”:
Subject: My review of “SONGS” — and it’s first professional review
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 17:47:36 EDT
Since “Songs My Mother Taught Me” IS a Judy Garland tribute concert, I think it’s appropriate to share thoughts / reviews of it here on the Judy List. Below is a condensed review I wrote for Lorna’s List, followed by the first professional review of “Songs.”
“SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME : A Celebration of the Music of Judy Garland” is a superbly crafted and executed theatrical event, an extremely emotional experience that is bound to bring Lorna Luft her largest audience and greatest success to date. Part educational (Judy-101), part intimate sharing, and part technical wonder, this vehicle would work in any venue large or small (the Hilton’s colorless “convention hall” style showroom seems vast, though holds a smallish if respectable 1,200, but “Songs” would work just as well in a real theater, or in a stadium).
Each of the three performances had their own strengths and weaknesses, but there’s no doubt that the show and it’s star solidified over the weekend, growing with each night. Friday and Saturday, for all it’s impact, was nothing compared to Sunday’s closing. It felt like a Broadway show, with Friday and Saturday being “previews” and Sunday as “opening night.” The third performance was perfection : flawless, flowing, and no glitches to be seen or heard (other than a slight “bleedthrough” of “The Sound Of Music” being heard underneath the first moment or two of the show, before it was corrected …. That Rogers and Hammerstein classic had been playing as background music before the show started and was not turned off as Lorna’s show began; I almost thought, “Well, maybe Lorna now wants to duet with MARY MARTIN!”)
Here’s the rundown of the show :
1) OVERTURE — This was the standard Judy overture played at all of JG’s concerts from 1958-1969 (and best known from the Carnegie Hall recording, of course). The 18 musicians were top-rate, and had a true “big-band” sound, seeming as full as that of a 30-piece group. At the overture’s conclusion, the orchestra took a bow, and the stage lights lowered.
2) LORNA — Judy appeared on the screen (TV Series Show #20 : First/ “Americana” Concert) and said “I have another child, and she’s pretty angry, she really is, and her name is Lorna …..” and the intro lead into the “Lorna” song, which played-out in full (minus the reprise) (As much as I love Judy’s overture, I’m wondering if the show would have more of an immediate impact of it started right away with this clip of Judy talking and singing about the star of the show we’re about to see; After all, the overture is Judy’s : the SHOW is LORNA’s …. Just a thought). At the song’s conclusion, a drumroll comes, in-synch with the music, and the usual “Ladies and Gentleman, Lorna Luft” follows (well, on Friday anyway; Saturday and Sunday’s shows saw Lorna walk out with no introduction). Lorna looked sensational in her first of two Ray Aghayan / Bob Mackie creations (the talents responsible for Judy’s wardrobe on the Series) : a blue-sequined, richly textured low-cut, short dress, with a slit to showcase Lorna’s “million-dollar” legs. The dress showed-off LL’s newly streamlined figure, and combined with her new hairstyle (a bit longer, with a flip at the bottom, and just a bit lighter / blonder; Still red, but with what appears to be lots of blond highlights) the over-all result was quite impressive, with Lorna looking better than she did even 10 years ago.
3) HELLO, BLUEBIRD — Changing the lyrics just slightly turned the song into a tribute to Judy (“Hear That Bluebird Up In A Tree, Hear HER, What A Song ….. Joy SHE’s bringing” ….. and ending with “LADY Bluebird …. Hello!”) A tough-call as to which rendition was more effective : this or the one at Carnegie last June, but she nailed it, with that final “Hello” blasted out full-throttle. (NOTE : At Saturday and Sunday’s shows, this number was dropped, and Lorna’s first song became the one that followed “Bluebird.” This call most likely came from the Hilton, not Lorna or Collin and company; The name of the game is to keep the customers in the showroom only long enough to forget how much money they’ve lost, and then get the players back to the slots and tables as quickly as possible. Last Monday, Lorna had mentioned the show was “92-93 minutes,” but Friday night’s show clocked-in at closer to 97-98 minutes, and most shows I’ve seen in AC have only been 75 minutes, if that. Lorna had also mentioned “Songs” would have an intermission — and possibly an extra song or two — when it plays theatrical venues as opposed to casinos). (The Hilton’s adherence to the “business” of “show” also dictated that one other number would be cut from Friday and Saturday’s shows, as well as a reprise of another song.)
4) INTRO TO “JUDY’S OLIO” / WHEN YOU’RE SMILING — The “Judy Olio” introduction penned by Roger Edens in 1951 for the Palladium (and kept until the ’60-’61 tour) was slightly altered here (“For almost 50 years, she was a minstrel girl ….. She had so many songs, tonight I’ll sing a few; Of THE SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME, for you”) leading into “When You’re Smiling” (all of Judy’s arrangements were utilized in “Songs”, so they sounded exactly as we all remember them — one of many VERY smart moves made by Lorna and her show’s creators, Ken and Mitzi Welch).
5) Talk– Lorna then said hello, and “welcome to my new show, which has been a LONG time in coming. I’ve been asked ‘why now?,’ and ‘what took you so long?’ Well, I think we ALL want to be seen as individuals, and for a long time I ran away from the incredible legacy that my mom left ALL of us. I mean, I was tired of being introduced as ‘the daughter of,’ ‘the daughter of.’ For a long time I thought my MIDDLE NAME was ‘the daughter of.’ (On Friday, Lorna added some additional lines, such as “Oh, and I got all the jokes at school, like ‘were you born in Oz?’ And ‘did the flying monkeys come to your house?’ Yes, and they brought ‘Toto too!'”) “But I wanted to pay tribute to the woman who I feel — as Oprah would say ‘this is just MY opinion’ — is the greatest female entertainer EVER!” (Cheers from the audience.) “I guess I was about 5 or so when my mom brought me onstage for the first time, and she said ‘Lorna likes the LOUD ones!”
6) ROCKABYE YOUR BABY (With A Dixie Melody) — A powerhouse, and a perfect match of singer and song.
7) JUST IN TIME — Just as Judy performed, starting with piano only (Lorna’s husband, Colin Freeman, was the show’s pianist, as well as it’s musical director, arranger, and conductor)
8) Talk (intro) / MEDLEY : YOU’RE NEARER / I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE (Duet with Lorna and Judy) / THROUGH THE YEARS (Duet with Lorna and Judy) — Climbing the steps stage right (near the screen), Lorna said “When you lose someone, they’re never really gone when they stay in your heart” and started singing “You’re Nearer,” as a videotaped montage — a series of photographs — were shown on the screen (all pics of Lorna with her mom, starting with shots of Lorna as a baby from the 1953 John Engstead sessions; stills of Judy, baby Lorna, and Liza; stills of Judy and the three children; and continuing up though 1967 with Judy, Lorna and Joe in front of the Palace). As the last still faded, a video of Judy from Show #21 appeared, and she sang “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” ; When Judy got to the bridge, her image froze on the screen, as LORNA started to sing the song, and then the song ended as the first of THREE “duets.” The next duet started immediately, as “Love” faded perfectly into “Through The Years” from Show #11 (with the occasional freeze-frame of Judy allowing Lorna to join in), and then mother and daughter concluded this ambitious and brilliantly executed medley together, in full-belt! Now, there were some people who frowned on Natalie Cole’s “duetting” with her dad, or Lorna’s 1995 CD-single and video duet of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” with Judy, but when it’s done as tastefully and as flawlessly as this, there’s not much room for complaining. As with that ’95 disc, it’s nearly impossible to tell the sound of the ’63/’64 musicians on the video apart from the “live” ones in 1999! (And WHEN Lorna does her CD of this show it will be all the MORE effective, as your eye won’t be distracted by the occasional freeze-framing / manipulation of Judy’s image …. And when Lorna does the VIDEO version of the show, close-ups of Judy’s singing can be intercut, for better clarity ; The picture left a bit to be desired. Yes, it was a video source, not a film print, but there were underlying horizontal “rolls” you could see if you looked closely, and I’ve yet to see a large screen rear-projection system that is truly crystal clear and sharp).
9) Talk (Intro) / CHICAGO — Lorna said “My mom was always on tour, so I got to stay in a LOT of cities (pause) for about 20 minutes. I can truly say ‘I got around.’ “I got the surprise ….” (When Lorna got to “Where????,” she answered “Margate,” which, I learned, is a nearby town to Atlantic City). Again, right-up Lorna’s alley : another “powerhouse.”
10) IT’S TODAY (talk / intro) / TIME HEALS EVERYTHING – This next number was nothing less than pure genius on the part of Lorna, the Welchs, or whoever thought of this. One of the identity onstage — and the biggest thrill for anyone who loves Lorna Luft for her OWN talents is that she got to sing a number more identified with LORNA than with Judy, and yet it worked perfectly. Lorna started singing “light the candles ….. it’s today,” and then said “My mother never stopped a Broadway show, because she never did one, but she loved singing songs from shows, and she would loved to have played ‘Mama Rose’ in ‘Gypsy’ or ‘Charity’ in ‘Sweet Charity,’ but I think the role closest to her heart was ‘Mame.'” Lorna then talked about how Jerry Herman told her he writes all his ballads with Judy in mind, and about her current friendship with Jerry and how he asked her to sing the next song for his TV special at the Hollywood Bowl. “This is one song my mother would have wanted ME to teach HER,” and then ripped into “Time Heals Everything.” Lorna sang the song center stage at the mike stand, and I was right at the front of the stage dead-center Sunday night, so I could see her face as she was singing it ; It was one of those magical moments when you see the performer disappear, and the song and the PERSON emerge. I’d bet a billion bucks she was remembering someone that broke her heart, and that’s where she was at that moment : reliving that relationship, and not on the stage of the Hilton. She was truly “lost” in her song, and as it built to it’s climax, you could see Lorna’s eyes continuing to well-up with tears. I obviously was not the only one effected by this performance : I was too overcome to move, let alone stand, but I did see SEVERAL pockets of people rise to cheer Lorna Luft’s artistry at the end of this song Sunday.
11) Intro / SMILE / Talk / BE A CLOWN (Video Montage) — As an intro to “Smile,” Lorna sang the opening verse of “Be A Clown” (“I’ll Remember Forever When I Was But Three…..”) “Smile” led into a talk about how Judy was “the funniest woman in the world, and that is NOT just MY opinion : Lucille Ball was once asked what it was like to be the funniest woman in the world, and she said ‘I’m not funny. My WRITERS are funny. You want to know who was TRULY funny? Judy Garland! Judy made me look like a MORTICIAN!'” While Lorna sang “Be A Clown,” various movie clips were shown (many in sync with the lyrics, such as the scene of Judy tripping during “The Clock” showing while LL sang the line “if you can FALL ON YOUR FACE,” etc …. Lots of close-ups of Judy mugging, her hair raising during the “Gay 90’s” routine in “Strike Up The Band,” etc). This led into Judy’s entire first scene from “In The Good Old Summertime,” where she has the bike “accident” with Van Johnson, which then led into a few other quick clips of Judy, ending with the conclusion of “Be A Clown” from “The Pirate,” and then several shots of Judy laughing from her films, as a single laugh was “looped” to repeat again and again with an echo, as the music concluded. While I loved this segment, I must admit I hated the ending laughter being electronically “enhanced” with a “echo,” as it sounded “aerie,” as though a ghost were laughing – many others I talked with had the same reaction to this sound effect. I also wonder if the segment might be more effective with one of the TV Series “Trunk” stories (the Moth or the Oscar, etc) instead of “Summertime” being the main clip. I mean, wasn’t the original point to be Judy’s WIT? Yes, Judy’s physical humor is superb in this “Summertime” scene, but this was SCRIPTED (“I’m not funny : My WRITERS are funny”), and directed, where Judy at the TRUNK was 100% Judy-all-on-her-own; all ad-lib and “off-the-cuff.”
12) COME RAIN OR COME SHINE — The “Clown” montage also gave Lorna about 3 minutes to change, and she emerged to the bongo beat, wearing a black-sequined outfit : hip-huggers (I THINK “they called them that in my day”), and a low-cut top. (While it certainly showed off ever MORE of LL’s “blood, sweat, and tears” at the gym, I preferred the first outfit personally). “Come Rain” was fully realized and supercharged all the way (although Lorna and the orchestra got slightly out of sync for just a brief moment on Saturday night).
13) Introduction of the Orchestra personnel / Intro to “The Rat Pack” tribute / WHAT’LL I DO? — As the applause died down from “Shine,” Lorna asked (looking over her shoulder) “Are they alive? Are they all right?,” and proceeded to introduce the orchestra (which consisted of the 12 members of one orchestra – combined with the 6 “MG’s” — “my guys” — Lorna’s own musicians). “My mom had HER guys, three men who were lifelong friends,” LL said, leading into a still-montage of Frank Sinatra, then Dean Martin, then Sammy Davis, as Lorna shared stories with the audience about how the “Rat Pack” REALLY started, and the three men (“Uncle Frank would have called out the Marines for mama, and one night he had to, and that’s another show!”) This led into “What’ll I Do?,” as photos of Judy with the members of the “Pack” were shown on the screen.
14) Intro / BIRTH OF THE BLUES — This was my other favorite “solo-Lorna” moment, NOT relating directly with Judy. LL talked about how she got to work with Sammy and how he left her one of his arrangements in his will, as he knew it was her favorite, and then Lorna RIPPED into “Birth Of The Blues,” with the audience clapping along (On Friday night, she reprised it, but that was dropped the other two nights).
15) Story (intro) / THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY — Following the famous “golf story” about how Harold Arlen “leaked” “The Man That Got Away” to Judy on the golf course, Lorna climbed the stairs on stage left and sang “Man” better than I’d ever heard her do it before. (I must say her first performance — on the 1996 video from Royal Albert Hall in London — took time to grow on me, as I didn’t realize she was giving a more “introspective” take on the song, similar to the first of two versions Judy did on the Series; I had felt LL was holding back vocally, when I knew she could belt the heck out of a song that just YELLS for full-force belting at times. Now, Lorna has combined the best of both worlds : she’s keeping the inner-core and main tone introspective, but on the few parts that are appropriate, she let every ounce of her vocal prowess show through — especially on Sunday, her peak show). (One thing I didn’t like about this number was that Lorna needed to run off into the wings the second after singing the last note to get “equipped” with a headset microphone, like the ones Madonna, Garth Brooks, and other stars use. This is for the next number, involving dancing and much movement about the stage, so she wouldn’t be restricted by a hand mike. However, in the process, she is “robbed” of the applause she earned during “Man.”)
16) Intro / CHILDREN AND ART (“You Would Have Liked Her”) / HOW GRANDMA GOT TO CARNEGIE HALL (Born In A Trunk) — Next came the show’s most ambitious portion, perhaps : a 20-minute tale (in story-and-song) of Judy’s life. This is brilliantly setup, as Lorna fulfills her children’s requests to “tell us how grandma got to Carnegie Hall.” This is prefaced by Lorna’s musings that her children never got to meet their grandmother, and then we HEAR Jesse’s and Vanessa’s voices (on tape) “talk” with their mother about grandma Judy. Again, pure genius : moving, funny, and connecting Judy with the present. After a brief piece of a Sondheim’s “Children And Art” (from “Sunday In The Park With George”), and her kid’s requests, Lorna agrees to “again” tell them about JG. Using the music of “Born In A Trunk” (with mostly new lyrics), Lorna sings and dances to bits from a multitude of songs from Judy’s catalog, including “Jingle Bells”; “I’m Nobody’s Baby”; “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart”; “We’re Off To See The Wizard” ; “Minnie From Trinidad”; “But Not For Me”; “The Boy Next Door”; “On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe”; “Look For The Silver Lining”; “Mack The Black”; “Easter Parade”; “Johnny One Note”; “In The Good Old Summertime”; “Get Happy”; “Until You’ve Played The Palace” ; “I Don’t Care”; “Swanee”; “The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ Down At Carnegie Hall”; “Judy’s Olio — You Made Me Love You / For Me and My Gal / The Trolly Song”; and “Born In A Trunk” (“So who knew she would fly far beyond that rainbow, there was no way in the world to know, when she was born in a trunk at the New Grand Theater, that she was born to stop the show”) (This massive moving medley was rewarded all three nights with prolonged standing, screaming ovations that went on and on).
17) Talk / LIKE A DIAMOND IN THE SKY (Oh How She Shines) / OVER THE RAINBOW — Saying that she believes in miracles, Lorna talked about how she saw a star in the sky shortly after Judy passed away, which led into a beautiful new song (“One Starless Night, One Night In June ….. “) which incorporated bits of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” During this, Judy was heard singing “Over The Rainbow” (the 1960 “London Sessions” version, I believe). This new song matched, blended and fit “Rainbow” flawlessly, and the audience — again in tears — gave Lorna her second standing ovation.
18) Bows (the “Lorna” song, played by orchestra)
19) Encore : SANFRANCISCO — Again matching her structure-damaging rendition at Carnegie last June, Lorna was rewarded with a third and final ovation on Friday night. On Saturday and Sunday she did not sing ANY encore, again due to the Hilton’s “policing.” (In fact, on Saturday, Collin picked up the phone near him and turned to Lorna who was just about to walk out on stage again, and he mouthed “no, no, no, no,” to keep her from coming on, so I suspect THIS editing was last minute, and proof that the Hilton went to the “Jack Warner Editing School” — “just cut it out!”)
Obviously, this vehicle (and any corresponding merchandise : CD, video, tour program, poster, etc, etc) is bound to bring a whole new level of exposure and success to Ms. L, and as the show solidified completely on only it’s third performance, it should continue to be a source of infinite pride to Lorna and her show’s team.
Now here’s the first professional review of “Songs” :
>From the Sunday, May 30 South Jersey Courier-Post
LORNA LUFT IN A MOVING TRIBUTE TO MOM JUDY
By Chuck Darrow
Lorna Luft’s world premiere of her Judy Garland tribute show, “Songs My Mother Taught Me” Friday at the Atlantic City Hilton was a first-rate affair, guaranteed to satisfy the still-rabid following of the show business icon who died at age 47 in June 1969.
Luft, 47 (Scott’s note : Lorna is 46), has had a successful singing career of her own, albeit one that has been overshadowed not only by that of her mother, but by that of her half-sister, Liza Minnelli, as well. That’s too bad, because as Friday’s program illustrated, Luft is a more talented vocalist than “Liza with a Z.” And she is definitely closer in tone, range and approach to a song.
Now that Luft has admittedly come to grips with her mother’s insurmountable legacy, perhaps she’ll finally rise in the show biz realm. Certainly “Songs My Mother Taught Me,” which is chock-full of classic material, is an excellent vehicle with which to make the ascent.
“Songs” which wraps up its Hilton stay tonight at 7 and heads out on tour, opened in a genuinely moving way, with a video clip from Garland’s early-’60s TV variety show that has Garland crooning a specially written song, “Lorna,” to a preteen Luft. The nonverbal interaction between the two establishes the depth of the love between mother and daughter, and validates all that follows as something well beyond a mere cashing in on a famous name.
>From there, Luft performed most of Garland’s signatures (either in their entirety or as part of a medley), including “When You’re Smiling,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “The Man That Got Away” and “Be A Clown.” “Over the Rainbow,” however, is not included because Luft feels she could never do it justice (Scott’s note : not true : “Rainbow” IS included, but Lorna doesn’t sing it, JUDY does).
While Luft — whose musical director-pianist Colin Freeman is also her husband — is a top-notch vocalist, she, too, often sticks to a basic format that has her beginning a song with a smooth purr and closing it out in a take-no-prisoners belt. Friday, this formula worked on individual numbers, but overall, its use slightly diminished the show’s effect.
Still, there was plenty to admire, from the mid-set show-stopper “Smilin’ Through,” (Scott’s note — the song was “Through The Years”) which, thanks to the marvels of digital video technology, was done as a duet with Garland, to the tribute to garland’s three dear friends, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., which included a sizzling version of Davis’ personal arrangement of “Birth of the Blues.” Also enjoyable were the anecdotes Luft sprinkled throughout the program.
“Songs My Mother Taught Me” concluded with an extended musical biography of Garland, framed as a story being told by Luft to her two children. It utilized clever original lyrics and plenty of familiar songs, and perfectly capped an impressive, educational and heartfelt 90 minutes.
While that was going on, the List owner/moderator Mark Harris gave his endorsement of Scott’s fan magazine “Garlands for Judy.” This magazine was the precursor and inspiration for the current “Garlands for Judy” webzine now available online at The Judy Room.
Subject: Garlands For Judy
From: Mark Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 14:20:33 -0400
Whenever I get Scott’s latest GARLANDS FOR JUDY in the mail, I usually set it aside until I have a couple of hours to digest it from cover to cover. When it came a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t seen one in what seemed like forever, so I had to flip through it even though I couldn’t take much time. Immediately, I noticed how much more professional it’s looking these days (and I commented on it on the List that night).
But now I’ve had the time to look through it and I’m really impressed with how the publication has grown just in the 2-1/2 years I’ve been reading it. If you haven’t seen one in awhile (or if you haven’t EVER seen one), contact Scott about getting it.
It costs $25 for two issues a year. Write him at XXX@AOL.COM for more info!
Once Scott was maligned, Harris would change his tune. Here is Colin’s response as posted to the List by Harris:
Subject: From Colin Freeman (Lorna’s Husband)
From: Mark Harris <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 21:09:19 -0400
I was asked to forward this to The JUDY List from Colin Freeman,
Lorna Luft’s husband:
I would like to thank everyone for the tremendous support and the overwhelming outpouring of enthusiasm for “Songs My Mother Taught Me”. Lorna is very appreciative of the extremely favorable response. Legitimate reviews in the newspapers and also sensible letters on the Lorna list like Richard D. Skipper’s are gratefully noted. I was recently sent a copy of Scott Schechter’s “review” of our recent Atlantic City appearances. Whilst we appreciate Mr. Schechter’s support over the years, I feel I must respond and set the record straight.
As to his show notes:
The reason for opening the show with The Overture was twofold.
Firstly, it is one of the greatest theatrical overtures ever written and it rightly deserves to be heard. It gave the audience who were not seated at the opening notice that the show itself was about to start, so they could settle down, admit latecomers, etc. Secondly, it is a moving way to pass the torch from Judy to Lorna.
Opening with the overture, everyone expects Miss Garland to walk out, and in a sense she did, by introducing Lorna on video.
Mr. Schechter is quite correct in his timing of Friday’s show at 97-98 minutes. He should not presume however to second-guess the Hilton’s policy on show length. The decision to cut “Bluebird”, “Birth of the Blues” reprise, and “San Francisco” on the other two nights came from Lorna, myself and Mr. Weisman, her Manager. The reason was that we all agreed prior to rehearsals that the show should run as close to the standard 90 minutes as possible in a casino setting. Indeed, I myself made the decision to cut San Francisco on Saturday night because I wanted her to save her voice for the show on Sunday. It had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the hotel and should not be of any concern to our audience.
As to the six “MG’s”, I believe there are only four of us on stage that fit that description, these being the drummer, bass and synth players and myself. For your information, the correct title for the song which leads into “Over The Rainbow” is “Shining Star”, and please see below for the correct spelling of my name. If Mr. Schechter is such an expert on the Judy material, he would know that the material was, with a few exceptions, played in the original Garland keys. If he heard 6-7 octaves on Sunday night then he was at a different show to the one I was conducting.
Unless one of the musicians left the stage shortly after I gave the downbeat for the overture, I believe we actually had the 19 pieces I originally wrote the show for, not the 18 toted up in the “review”. They are as follows:
1 French horn
Perhaps Mr. Schechter believes that the piano is not a member of the orchestra and that I am not a musician.
Lorna considers the only person with authority on her family to be John Fricke. His tasteful publications and numerous critically acclaimed projects are why we consider him to be the leading Judy historian. Any research questions regarding Judy Garland or Lorna should be directed tot he Editorial Director for the Judy Garland Heirs Trust, John Fricke at Johnfricke@aol.com
I hope this sets the record a little straighter.
Originally sent to: The Lorna List
Harris then posted his reasons for editing Colin’s original draft:
Subject: Colin Freeman’s Post
From: Mark Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 21:00:06 -0400
Just to let everyone know in advance, the post from the other evening that came from Colin Freeman was edited by myself because of some comments that *could* be construed as slander or libel and I did not wish to open The JUDY List or myself up to legal action.
I’m told by Colin’s people that their lawyers do not consider it slander or libel if the TRUTH is spoken, but I’m afraid that only those who were present at last week’s show and witness to the incident you’ll read about are the only ones who REALLY know “the truth”.
I do apologize for the editing making it seem as if Mr. Freeman was nit-picking, but you will all get a chance to see the original soon anyway, as I’ve been informed that he and Lorna’s associates have been able to extract most of the list’s subscriber addresses from the headers of the Digests and postings as well as the Digests on the web page.
I’m sure many will have comments, but unless they’re directly related to JUDY GARLAND, please forward them to Colin via e-mail or to Scott via e-mail if you wish to comment to either of them.
The very fact that most of the post was not Judy-related was another reason why I would not allow it to be posted to The JUDY List, but it seems everyone will soon see it anyway.
The JUDY List Manager & Webmaster
Colin had apparently gleaned emails from a recent List digest or two, and sent private emails to everyone in that (or those) digest(s). Here are a few of the responses to that private email and his post as copied by Harris to the List.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 06/13/99
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 21:39:06 EDT
<< I want to clarify something: Colin writes “I do not read the list but will be notified if this letter is not posted in its entirety. If so, the list will lose its approval from Lorna and cease to be.” He’s talking about the “Lorna List”, right? Anyhow, isn’t all this between Scott Schechter & Lorna’s family? Why does the Judy list have to be subjected to all of this? Tim >>
My question exactly. Here’s my preach. I urge those that get offended by what I write periodically to SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEXT POST IMMEDIATELY. I received Colin Freeman’s complete letter yesterday. It was mean spirited. DEAL WITH IT, it was mean spirited. I don’t think anyone questions Colin’s musicianship. His tact, yes, but musicianship, no. He comes second only to Lorna Luft in tactlessness. And if he has the money to take legal action against someone for a harmless newsletter (Garlands for Judy) he might also consider taking on the Rainbow Newsletter, and he’d better keep an eye on the BAUM BUGLE, and sue them for each time Judy’s image and likeness are used. Lorna better find a lot of Holiday Inns to play to get up the money for the legal fees.
But suing the Baum Bugle might create some sort of conflict of interest, a la the 1997 Judy Garland festival. There are those that would compromise themselves completely to find favor with Judy Garland’s family, as they are the closest remaining link to her (in word at least, but not in deed), as if somehow that could equate as some sort of point of reference to Judy Garland herself.
If anyone else other than Lorna had written a book like “Me and My Shadows,” it would have been soundly TROUNCED on this list like Rita Piro’s book was, which was, at least respectful of Judy’s privacy, and didn’t delve into the sometimes difficult aspects of Judy’s life. It concentrated on her professional work which, many have noted, is all that matters now. Would anyone have tolerated someone other than “family” writing a book like this? It seems to be outrageous hypocrisy considering that Lorna Luft goes into detail (I mean, we get to know the MILLIGRAMS of Ritalin) while someone on this list repeatedly criticized someone at the Judy Garland Carnegie Hall tribute for “always wondering how much Benzedrine Baby Gumm was on when she sang that song.” Well, check Lorna’s book. It is a treatise on “husbands and hospitalizations, prescriprions and problems.” But it’s okay because she’s Judy’s daughter?
I am sick of Lorna Luft. In November she will be 47, the same age Judy was when we lost her. But when Judy was 47, she had made close to forty films, thirty television shows, over 1,100 concerts, won an Oscar, a Tony, and five Grammys, had won the prestigious “Cecil B. DeMille” award for lifetime achievement, appeared in countless radio shows, and remains, nearly thirty years after hear death, a talent unparallelled. Maybe her life was not one who’s energy was always drawn from sobriety, but. At the same age, that’s just all about Lorna has over her mother now.
YOU MAY CEASE SCROLLING NOW. MESSAGE COMPLETE.
Subject: Request for Clarification
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 02:57:43 EDT
In your list-wide email you wrote:
<<This is the first time the Garland family has been sufficiently irritated to actually respond and post an e-mail>>
With your reference to the “Garland Family,” are we to understand that you, Mr. Freeman, also represent and speak on behalf of Liza Minnelli and Joe Luft?
The same question applies to your designation of John Fricke as the “Editorial Director for the Judy Garland Heirs Trust.” Was this appointment also approved by Ms. Minnelli and Mr. Luft?
We’ve heard so much about current dissension among Miss Garland’s children and your posting leads me to hope that their problems have been amicably resolved.
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest –
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 20:34:11 EDT
I RECIEVED MY PERSONAL COPY OF COLINS LETTER.JESUS!I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE ATTACKING SCOTT LIKE THAT.HE HAS CONSISTENTLY HELPED TO FURTHER LORNAS CAREER AND DEFENDED HER HONOR TO ALL DETRACTORS.SO WHAT IF HE GOT A COUPLE THINGS SCREWED UP!OR IF HE DIDNT LIKE SOME THINGS!HE IS JUST A FAN & POSTING ON A FAN LIST.IF THEY DONT LIKE HIM SELLING HIS MAG. AT HER CONCERTS ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS TELL HIM.IF THEY WOULD HAVE CORRECTED HIM IN PRIVATE IM SURE THAT HE WOULD HAVE PUBLICLY CORRECTED THINGS AND APOLIGIZED.AND GOD FORBID IF HE TAPED THE SHOW!HOW MANY THINGS WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN PRESERVED IF FANS HADNT DONE THIS.I THINK THIS TALK OF LEGAL ACTION TOWARD A FAN DOES NOT PUT LORNA IN A FAVORABLE LIGHT.SURE GLAD IM A LIZA FAN.SHE HAS ALWAYS TREATED ME SO GRACIOUSLY OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS.THINK I’LL STICK WITH HER-P.S. ISNT LIZA A GARLAND HEIR?ALWAYS-JOHN DENNIS,TOLEDO,OHIO
Harris then explained that he tried to get a new post from Colin, and what allegedly happened with the “selling of product at Lorna’s concert” debacle.
Subject: Recent Events
From: Mark Harris email@example.com
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 19:23:26 -0400
Now, that said, we come back to Colin’s e-mail, the catalyst of this entire long-winded missive. Here’s how the chain of events happened and how I understand the “behind the scenes” drama going on (I’m sure THAT will perk up some eyebrows!! Drama!!!! Oh how we LOVE drama!!!).
As you now know, Colin and Lorna were aghast at something Scott Schechter did the night of Lorna’s show at the Atlantic City Hilton. Scott has admitted to me personally that what he did, he did out of ignorance of the law and accepted behavior (selling some issues of Garlands For Judy on casino property) and that he truly feels sorry for his actions. He does, however, totally deny that he was involved in the taping and selling of recorded transcripts of Lorna’s show. Because of his denial, printing any charges that Colin and Lorna made against Scott doing so COULD have opened The JUDY List and myself up to charges of slander and libel. THAT is why I edited Colin’s e-mail. I did not want to take on that legal liability – especially since I was not a first-hand witness to any of these events. Had I been, my decision might’ve been different, but probably not. The JUDY List wasn’t conceived to be a vehicle for PUNISHMENT – warranted or not – if and when its members might do something The Family (or anyone else) doesn’t approve of.
I informed Colin Freeman of my decision to NOT run his e-mail and my grounds for that decision in a return e-mail to him. I also offered to run an EDITED version (his edit, not mine) if he wished to answer Scott’s review of Lorna’s show, as I felt it only fair that he and Lorna be allowed to correct mistakes that were made if they felt it was important enough to do so. I also advised Colin that his e-mail, even if edited, would probably backfire on him with Judy’s fans and that perhaps he should think twice about its publication.
Two days went by and I heard nothing from Colin, until a slightly edited e-mail was received, again, with a demand to allow it to be printed in its entirety on The JUDY List. This e-mail was exactly the e-mail that you all saw coming from Colin this past weekend. I’m told that Colin’s e-mail was down for a couple of days and that he did not receive my answer to his original post. Not hearing from Colin, I wished to give him the timely consideration regarding Scott’s review that I felt he and Lorna deserved, but also still wanted to keep the legal issues OFF the List, so I took it upon myself to edit his post when it appeared he had no intentions of doing so, and posted it.
I admit now that by editing it, it came off sounding as if Colin was being nit-picky about his points of contention regarding the review with no consideration noted as to the legal issues involved. I doubt that we would’ve heard anything from Colin if it hadn’t been for his and Lorna’s concern about 1) taping and distribution of her show; and 2) their wanting to make it clear that Scott’s “Garlands For Judy” wasn’t authorized by them (NOT The Lorna List and website, which ARE authorized by her, or so I understand from Scott and others). Their intent was not to STOP publication, but to make it clear that GFJ is an UNAUTHORIZED publication. The threat to withdraw Lorna’s approval was simply to withdraw her *authorization* of The LORNA List. I was assured by their own spokesman John Fricke that there were no threats made against The JUDY List – that The JUDY List was merely cc’d because Scott’s review was posted here as well as to The Lorna List.
I still feel as if all this mess could’ve been avoided if The JUDY List had never been involved in the matter. I certainly did not want to be involved. I attempted to avoid it at all costs and posted pleas (which obviously fell on deaf ears) to NOT discuss this matter on the List after Colin’s e-mail went out, once I found out it was GOING to go out from his own e-mail account without cooperation from The JUDY List (I had approximately six hours of warning that it was going out).
This matter is really between the Freeman/Luft family and Scott Schechter. I don’t think any of us who weren’t there have any business judging either “side” on who’s right and who’s wrong.
It’s not germaine to our conversation here, to Judy Garland, nor to any of us personally. It’s a legal matter which should be allowed to be settled by the involved parties. But instead of judging Lorna and Colin harshly in the matter (or Scott, for that matter), put yourself in the place of any of them and ask if you’d like your personal and family life to be open to the world to examine, discuss, and pick apart before you attempt to tell them “how they should react”. WE HAVE NO RIGHT to grab that veil off Vicki’s head and shout “GIVE US JUST ONE LOOK”. Perhaps Colin shouldn’t have encouraged that kind of behavior by making this incident a public matter, but then again, should we also take the stance that Vicki only encouraged that woman to rip off her veil because she chose to be a movie star? I think not. And besides, even musicians are allowed to make mistakes. How would you like YOUR mistakes (although I know there are some here who believe they’ve never made one) to be reacted to by those who witness them as you go through life?
The JUDY List Manager & Webmaster
Here’s another post about Colin’s alleged spamming of List members:
Subject: Two Bits
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 10:43:55 -0400
To All Parties Involved:
I can not even BEGIN to express the level of anger which I felt concerning Mr. Freeman’s missive. The fact that I was included in his distribution list compels me to respond appropriately.
I certainly do NOT appreciate the fact that he or someone else “shaved” vital information from a list posting to obtain the email addresses of its members. This deplorable tactic is akin to spamming — something which I believe that most of us abhor. I have drafted a strongly worded letter to Mr. Freeman as well as sought counsel from my attorney concerning his blatant intrusion into my privacy.
Mr. Freeman’s letter contains NO discernable intelligence — only a mean spirited, pious, pretentious attempt to harm (and I do firmly believe that this person has caused irreparable harm) Scott Schechter, a person who has LONG defended his wife and always sought to advance her name and talent. Ultimately, Mr Schechter will survive this attack, as he is a strong and determined individual. I am afraid that Mr. Freeman or his wife will not fare nearly as well.
Mr. Freeman states “Whilst we appreciate Mr. Schechter’s support over the years” — even on the most basic level, his diatribe hardly conveys ANY appreciation, real or otherwise.
My anger was further heightened by Mr. Freeman’s “edict” that Mr. Fricke is “the leading Judy historian” concerning the Garland family. I certainly acknowledge that Mr. Fricke is an incredible fount of information for all things Garland and I am grateful for his contributions he has made to keep Miss Garland vibrant and live in the public arena as well as for all of the devoted fans, but this “Apollo speaking from Mount Olympus” tone should be considered direct slander against all of the other fine people who have dedicated their careers to the accurate dissemination of Garland information, Mr. Schechter included.
In short, not only does this letter indicate a deep rooted hatred for Mr. Schechter but is also a glaring example of the insecurity which he and his wife suffer from.
I, for one, am firmly and completely committed to Mr. Schechter and the fine work he has contributed to every man, woman and child who appreciates all things Garland. Mr. Schechter is not perfect — he is a flawed human being just like the rest of us. Mistakes will be made and there will be errors in judgment. Is this cause for such a spiteful and vicious attack — I think not.
Mr. Freeman and Ms. Luft have my deepest condolences because, in the final analysis, the ONLY achievement made by this whole horrible situation is an even further alienation of devoted Garland / Luft fans as well as an accelerated decrease in Ms. Luft’s fan base. How sad … how profoundly sad.
A few posts that include snippets of Colin’s alleged email to List members:
Subject: Re: The JUDY List Digest – 06/12/99
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 12:33:41 EDT
I want to clarify something: Colin writes “I do not read the list but will be notified if this letter is not posted in its entirety. If so, the list will lose its approval from Lorna and cease to be.” He’s talking about the “Lorna List”, right?
Anyhow, isn’t all this between Scott Schechter & Lorna’s family? Why does the Judy list have to be subjected to all of this?
Subject: Censorship/response to Colin Freeman
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 14:45:16 EDT
In a message dated 6/12/99 10:18:35 PM, XXX@judygarland.org writes:
>We understand that he is also selling copies of these
>tapes. I would urge anyone considering buying copies not to do so.>>
I can well appreciate your side of this issue, but you really must appreciate that bootlegging, distasteful and unfair as it may be, is a tradition that has long revolved around performers who have achieved a cult status among fans who are completists (and, albeit, a tad loopy) and MUST have every evidence of their favorites, in every possible media. Particularly live recordings.
Particularly when the opportunity (albeit, illegal) presents itself over the course of a long tour as Ms Luft is undertaking.
I’m merely suggesting you save your bile for more important things, as it’s unlikely that Mr Schecter is the only one who has already recorded your show. And will not be the last.
<<I do not read the list but will be notified if this letter is not posted in its entirety. If so, the list will lose its approval from Lorna and cease to be. Lorna considers the only person with authority on her family to be John Fricke. >>
This is strictly from arrogance, and, again, I can’t believe you don’t have more important matters to attend to. Your blistering anger is so out of proportion with what the issue entails.
As for John Fricke being the only authorized Garland/Luftmeister, well, much as I admire John’s work, I really don’t care whose approval he’s been granted to tell me what I ought to know. I want to know what other writers and (whether you approve or not) at-large-historians can contribute to the rich palette that was Judy Garland (and now Lorna drawing on Her songs, Her art and Her music). Fans, you might be startled to know, want to know more than factual career appraisals. Especially when they’re *only* sanctioned by the artist’s family. A couple of years ago there was a bloodless biography of Larry Hart that lacked the family’s approval, so not even song lyrics were allowed to appear. What kind of way is this to represent an artist when only the family’s *truth* is allowed to prevail?
In closing, I need to say that I had extremely mixed feelings about your wife’s book. And mixed feelings too about her commitment to make the legacy of Judy Garland something more than a way to jumpstart her own career. But I had been impressed by Scott Schecter’s report, and got excited enough to make plans to attend. After reading your very bitter, churlish response, splattered all over the place with veiled threats and legalese, I have decided I really don’t want to support, emotionally or financially, this endeavor that already carries with it the bad stench of bad karma.
That’s it for the main posts regarding the “incident.” Most of the other posts were just one or two sentence responses in favor or not in favor of the censorship of Colin’s email, and Harris trying to get the List back on track.
Fricke wisely stayed out of it even though his name was bandied about. I assume that in his new capacity as the “Editorial Director” of The Heir’s Trust he felt that silence was golden. Too bad that isn’t always the case.
I stayed out of it because I wasn’t involved in any way. At the time I wasn’t posting much to the List, reading the digests whenever I could find the time. I didn’t get that infamous private email from Colin because my name and email weren’t in the list of posts in the daily digest(s) that he had taken the emails from. Lucky for me! Harris never shared the unedited Colin post that he mentioned, and no one shared the private email he sent, but they sure sound like doozies!
In hindsight, it’s now clear to me that this incident is the first sign of what appeared to be a coordinated effort to discredit anything Scott did and get him out of the way. In the late 1990s Scott was becoming a real competition to the other, already established, self-appointed keepers of Judy’s flame, chiefly Fricke and the late Steve Sanders. They were the two reigning “stars” in Garfandom, and with good reason. Sanders had written “Rainbow’s End,” a wonderful book that focused on Judy’s TV series. Fricke had written what I still believe is his best book, “World’s Greatest Entertainer,” which was less of a biography of Garland and more her life story as told through her career. He had also written quite a few essays for various CD and video releases. He basically had the market cornered for that sort of thing, being George Feltenstein’s “go-to” guy for all things Garland. Feltenstein was (and still is) the driving force behind both the video and CD soundtrack releases of Garland’s films currently owned by Warner Entertainment, Inc. When Scott began to get involved in producing projects himself, well, that was a threat. It was one thing for Scott to publish is fan magazine, but quite another to begin producing Garland product. The members of The Judy List had been stroking the egos of these two “stars” for quite some time and they certainly didn’t want it to end.
The flogging of Scott continued for the next decade until his untimely death and sadly right afterward with tasteless glee. It continues to this day. Fricke and Sanders seemed to love picking apart everything he did. Judy List owner Harris, much like subsequent discussion group owners/moderators, blindly followed their lead. They wrote some books so they must be scrupulous, right? When DCC Compact Classics released the first complete “Judy at Carnegie Hall” on CD in 2000, Scott was the driving force behind the release and wrote a new set of liner notes titles “TWO HOURS OF POW” that complimented the reprint of the album’s original liner notes. That was a cue for Sanders. In a post published to the List on March 20, 2000, when complaining about Scott’s liner notes, Sanders brought up a litany of complaints about other things Scott was involved in. Included was his rehashing the debacle about Lorna’s stage show, and accusations claiming that Scott plagiarized his book about Judy’s TV series for the liner notes that accompanied the first Pioneer DVD focused on the series, “The Judy Garland Show – Volume One.” Sanders, aware that Scott was getting the series put out on DVD (and probably feeling that due to his book about the series it was his domain), found a way to help take the project out of Scott’s hands. If one judges from that Judy List post by Sanders, it was threats to Pioneer from Sanders alleging plagiarism that accomplished that task. Sanders then gleefully bragged that Scott’s “poorly produced” Judy Box (the 32 Records CD set) momentarily diminished Judy’s reputation while his (Sanders’) work on the Pioneer DVD releases “erased the damage” and “exceeded sales expectations with the 32 based set all but forgotten.” Garfreaks love to exaggerate.
As I mentioned before, Scott rarely spoke about any of this or any other drama and mud flung his way. In one of the conversations in which he actually did open up to me, he said that the Pioneer DVD sets were a great disappointment to him. He had done all of the work to facilitate the release of the series by Pioneer, a fact that couldn’t be denied even by Sanders and Fricke. According to Scott, it was Sanders and Fricke who were jealous of the project and those jealousies got the best of them and that’s when they swooped in and took the project away from him. Scott thought the notes that he originally had written for the set were much more positive in tone than those provided by Sanders. Naturally, he was hurt by the whole experience.
Even as late as May 23, 2014, when Fricke posted his revisionist history of the sequence of events surrounding the Pioneer DVD boxed sets to The Judy Garland Message Board, he couldn’t resist slamming Scott. It was convenient for him that by this point both Scott and Sanders had passed so there was no one to refute his story. Fricke echoed some of what Sanders had said in 2000 and also claimed that the addition of the paperback version of Sanders’ book in the DVD set didn’t happen until after Sanders came on board. He also added another player into the mix, Allan Fisch. Fisch was, among other achievements, a producer of Garland product on home video and laserdisc, and was high up the food chain at Turner Entertainment. He was also friends with Fricke. According to Fricke’s 2014 story, Fisch “caught wind” of Scott’s “chicanery” and “stepped in and told them [Pioneer] about Steve, Rainbow’s End, and etc.” Fricke likes to use “and etc.” when he’s trying to make a point but doesn’t have anything else to make that point with, or perhaps he doesn’t have the vocabulary to get his point across. He went on to relay how he and Sanders saved the project from disaster at the hands of Scott, even criticizing Scott’s style of writing which he should know is, as it is with any writer, subjective.
The first DVD was a single disc featuring shows #1 and #3 released on June 15, 1999. Unless they had a pre-release copy of Scott’s liner notes (which is very unlikely) they wouldn’t have seen the notes until the disc had been released. Two months later, on August 23, 1999, Scott wrote in the reviews section of the disc’s Amazon listing that more volumes were on the way, plus a boxed set with a paperback of Sanders’ book set for release that October (it ended up being released November 2, 1999). Sanders and Fricke claimed they saved the project by undoing the damage they alleged Scott created with his first set of notes for that first disc by getting Pioneer to remove Scott from the bulk of the project and then adding that paperback of Sanders’ book. However, the timing doesn’t work. It’s obvious from Scott’s Amazon post that the paperback was already a planned part of the set. Pioneer wouldn’t be able to get a paperback book published independently, a new box created and built that would hold the book and discs, and put it all together in that short of a timeframe.
Knowing what I know from my own experiences and my friendship with Scott, it’s easy to read between the lines and see that what most likely happened is that Fricke and Sanders caught wind themselves, of Scott’s getting the series remastered and onto DVD and they wanted to be a part of it. To this day, no one can deny that if it wasn’t for Scott’s efforts the series would not have made it onto DVD at that time. Maybe never. It seems likely that one of them or both went whining to Fisch who used his connections to get Scott pushed into the background. You might ask, why the big deal? What’s in it for them? The series, the complete series, being released in pristine quality on DVD was a big deal. It hadn’t been seen in its entirety in a very long time and was something all Garland, and TV fans, in general, wanted to see. It was the biggest Garland related media event to come along in years. Being a part of it was something the “experts” no doubt felt that they, and only they, were worthy of.
This isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Scott reluctantly gave me his side of the story (remember, there are always two sides to these kinds of stories) and it makes sense because I was subjected to similar actions from these same characters and their cronies. I still am! Like Scott’s journey, no one paid any attention to me or my website – until it became popular. When The Judy Room was becoming more and more popular, the target on my back became bigger and bigger. These people tried to get me involved in their ongoing drama and I stupidly had to learn the hard way. I didn’t know any of them outside of what I read online so it took a little while, and several of their childish games and nasty-grams (which I still have), for me to find out who was a real “Garland friend” and who wasn’t. I came to the realization that for them it really isn’t “all for Judy” as they publicly claim. It’s all for the continued stroking of their egos. I also think they generally just like playing games because it’s still going on. As recently as 2014, Fricke put out an ultimatum that if certain friends of his were also friends with me on Facebook then he couldn’t be friends with them in real life. Period. And he wasn’t even on Facebook at the time – allegedly. But apparently, he was watching, or monitoring, and evidently not too happy that we shared a few of the same friends – on Facebook, not even in real life. It’s all so adolescent, isn’t it? We are talking about grown men, right? Grown at least in the physical sense. Emotionally and mentally their actions suggest that they’re not as grown-up as one might assume.
After a while, Scott pulled away from the online discussion forums and most everything else Garfan-related. He chose to focus on his projects (see below) and try to ignore the nastiness but that didn’t mean he wasn’t aware of what was being said about him. Liza was a big help. He spent a lot of time with her and the two became friends. As he told me on one occasion she put it all in perspective for him. He was in her New York apartment and the two were sitting by her window looking out. He was upset about the things being said about him on the message boards and how he was being raked over the coals. Liza said “Look down there, see all those people down there? They’re down there and you’re up here … who cares what they think?” Basically, “haters gonna hate” as they say now. And she was right. He was up there with her, they were “down there.” It’s well documented that Liza learned from Judy a long time ago not to read or listen to what’s said about her and she passed on that on to him. I have always thought that was really nice of her and it says a lot about the kind of person she is.
In the end, as Fricke pointed out, “we all continue to benefit” from the wonderful Pioneer sets and subsequent books and DVD/Blu-ray/CD releases no matter who was involved or for what reasons. Scott realized this, which is why he chose not to dwell on the negative aspects of those experiences and look ahead to new projects, which he did brilliantly and which is a trait that sadly his detractors were, and still are, incapable of achieving.
Scott Schechter tragically died on May 15, 2009, of a sudden heart attack. Typical of Scott, he was on his way home after meeting with one of Liza’s lawyers about an upcoming project. Scott worked very closely with Liza on several releases, including the restoration and release of her Emmy Award-winning television special “Liza With A Z” directed by Bob Fosse. He was incredibly passionate about the lives and careers of both Judy and Liza and was committed to getting previously unreleased material (or material that hadn’t been seen in decades) into the hands of the public. He was also committed to celebrating, as he called it, “The Legend’s Legacy” (Judy Garland).
Without Scott’s tireless work, many Judy and Liza performances would never have been remastered and released. A shortlist of his accomplishments: The books “Judy Garland – The Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Legend” and “The Liza Minnelli Scrapbook.” CDs: 1998’s 4-CD/VHS boxed set “Judy“; “Judy at Carnegie Hall” (complete and uncut, exactly as it happened that night, in its proper running order — for the first time ever — and as a deluxe 24-Karat Gold audiophile set); “Classic Judy Garland — The Capitol Years (1955-1965)”; Collectables Records’ “twofer” CDs (under license from Capitol): “Miss Show Business/Judy” and “Judy: That’s Entertainment!/I Could Go On Singing”; S&P Records’ “twofer” CD (under license from Capitol) “Judy in Love/Alone”; Hip-o Records/Universal Music’s “Liza Minnelli: Ultimate Collection” – which Liza liked so much she mentioned the CD in her latest concert souvenir program – and that label’s definitive audio compilation he produced and compiled of Garland’s TV series, “The Judy Garland Show: The Show That Got Away“; “Liza Minnelli: The Complete A&M Recordings” for the Collector’s Choice label; DRG’s “Liza! Liza! The Complete A&M Recordings“; Two never-before-released-on-CD Judy Garland Capitol albums “The Letter” and “Garland at the Grove“; and “Liza’s At The Palace” (both on CD and posthumously on DVD). At the time of his death, Scott was working on getting the complete “Judy Garland & Liza Minnelli ‘Live’ At The London Palladium” and “Liza at the Winter Garden” released on CD.
In 1998, Scott was one of the people instrumental in bringing Garland’s entire long-lost 1963-1964 TV series to the DVD format. The discs of “The Judy Garland Show” from Pioneer and Classic World Entertainment were a monumental success. Schechter served as a consultant to the five-year project, including handling media, crafting “The Show That Got Away” slogan and compiling the “Just Judy” and “Songs for America” discs. The latter was conceived by Scott with the proceeds donated to the American Red Cross in the wake of 9/11.
Scott was close to Liza. This relationship helped forge one of his greatest projects, Liza’s official U.S. website: OfficialLizaMinnelli.com. Scott was very proud that the site became the main Liza site on the web.
On May 29, 2009, Liza released the following statement:
It’s me, Liza May Minnelli. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear that my dear friend, Scott Schechter, had passed away. I was in Paris recording a song with my mentor, Charles Aznavour, for a DVD/CD compilation for charity when I heard about Scott ‘s passing. Ironically, the last time I saw Scott was just a few weeks ago at the Bistro Awards in New York City at which both Charles and myself were being honored. Scott had a great time that night and I am proud that I was able to contribute to his happiness in some small way.
Over the years, Scott has been instrumental in keeping my music and performances current, relevant and accessible to my fans. Scott was my self-proclaimed biggest fan and he proved it time and time again in the tireless dedication and care he brought to my website and in the preservation of my work. I could always count on seeing Scott whenever I performed in New York. His presence always brought me great comfort and joy.
Scott will be truly missed. Because of the suddenness of his passing, it is still very difficult for me to fully comprehend and my heart goes out to Scott’s friends and family. Scott was a kind and gentle man and was well loved by everyone who knew him, including me. I will miss him dearly. I was recently asked for my thoughts regarding the passing of Beatrix Arthur, and I replied that heaven just got happier–sadly for us, it is even more so now.
With fond memories of Scott,
© 2016 Scott Brogan, The Judy Room & Judy Garland News & Events