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Kathy, Mo Give It A 'Ho, Ho, Ho'

July 23, 1986|HILLIARD HARPER | San Diego County Arts Writer

SAN DIEGO — Who can forget those irrepressible funny girls, er, women, Kathy Najimy and Maureen (Mo) Gaffney? The pair has taken their brand of feminist/humanist comedy to New York City, where they knew fame and fortune surely were just around the corner. They were last seen on stage here at the Old Town Opera House, now The Theatre in Old Town. The duo--Gaffney was a member of the now-defunct improvisational group Hot Flashes, and Najimy most recently directed New Image Teen Theatre--say the Kathy and Mo Show has taken the Big Apple by storm. Sort of.

Last week, Najimy and Gaffney closed a seven-week run at the Second Stage Theatre, off-Broadway. The real news, besides a handful of mostly positive notices, is their new agent, Sam Cohn, of International Creative Management. Cohn, who counts such celebs as Woody Allen, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Roy Scheider and Lily Tomlin among his clients, took on the pair because "he thinks they are very talented," an agency spokeswoman said. The Kathy and Mo Show features highly developed characters, a "God skit," and bits about life in a lesbian cafe and a gay piano bar.

Despite the off-Broadway success, Najimy said, they remain "very, very, very poor. There's no money in off-Broadway." The only definite date in their future is two weeks in August at a Baltimore theater, for which Cohn has demanded that they write reams of new material. Possibilities include a run in Los Angeles and a movie for pay television.

For now they continue to promote themselves, making scores of phone calls and writing dozens of letters every day. And they have "a million-dollar lawyer, a woman who advises us" and occasionally takes them to fancy restaurants.

"It's odd to be taken for a nine-course French meal when we can't afford the subway," Gaffney said. With such people believing in them, Najimy and Gaffney are optimistic about their future. But, as Gaffney said: "There's no guarantees. I'm still keeping my bartending job."

NEW AT COMBO: Diane Annala, Councilman Mike Gotch's executive assistant, will leave that position to become senior vice president for development for COMBO, the private arts fund-raising body.

A raft of artists had complained that Annala worked to help protect COMBO's interests at their expense while helping design the city's master arts plan. Artists circulated a cartoon that depicted COMBO Executive Vice President Robert Arnhym manipulating Gotch and Annala as puppets.

Annala, who has been on the COMBO board of directors, will administer fund-raising activities. She was director of university events and student activities at UC San Diego before Gotch hired her 6 1/2 years ago.

COMBO has not had a development director since Sharon LeeMaster left in April to take a similar post with the San Diego Opera. Annala assumes her new post on Sept. 1.

TRUE FLACK: Just in case you missed it, Starlight and the Old Globe Theatre called a joint press conference last week. It was a momentous occasion. It had to be. Two of the city's largest arts institutions don't call a joint press conference for anything less than a mega-event.

What would they announce? Maybe Starlight and the Globe were about to merge . . . Gasp! . . . and we finally would see--though not hear--"Love's Labour's Lost" played directly under the Lindbergh Field flight path in a 4,200-seat amphitheater.

Maybe scholars had unearthed a never-performed Shakespearean musical, and the Globe and Starlight would jointly stage its world premiere? The air was fraught with possibilities.

As can happen, THE big event was not quite that big. Yet reality can at times be stranger than the imagination. With the theaters' top board and staff members assembled, the press waited as Amy C. Krulak, president of the San Diego Civic Light Opera Assn., announced that Bob McGlade would move to Starlight as its development director after serving 24 years in many posts at the Globe.

That's nice. Lower-ranking staff members change positions between arts organizations all the time, but what about the big event? Why was the press conference called? Unbelievably, McGlade's transfer turned out to be the big event.

Starlight had insisted, according to Globe spokesman Bill Eaton, that a press conference be called. Starlight spokesman Danny Martin concurred, saying his board of directors had wanted the press conference.

And some people wonder why it's hard to take Starlight seriously . . . .

LEMON MERINGUE: "The Lemon Grove Incident" will be aired nationally by the Public Broadcasting Service on Sept. 17. The 30-minute docudrama about the nation's first successful anti-segregation case was produced by San Diego's KPBS-TV (Channel 15) in 1985. The film about local Latinos' 1931 court battle has won eight awards, including a Gold Award (top honor) at the Houston International Film Festival, and three local Emmys.

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