If the Pasadena Playhouse had decided to adopt a theme song when a dire economy and longstanding debts forced it to cease operations for most of 2010 while it tried to claw its way back to solvency, "Stand by Me," the 1961 pop-soul classic sung by Ben E. King, would have fit the situation precisely.
It turns out that Mike Stoller, who co-wrote and co-produced "Stand by Me," among dozens of other indelible hits of the 1950s and 1960s on which he teamed with his partner, the late Jerry Leiber, was paying attention, along with his wife, musician Corky Hale Stoller.
The Playhouse announced Wednesday that the Stollers were the previously anonymous donors who made an unsolicited phone call to artistic director Sheldon Epps, pledging $1 million the day after reading a Los Angeles Times interview in which Epps said it would take $2 million to give the Playhouse, which at that point had been dark about a month, a good shot at overcoming its woes.
The Los Angeles couple, married since 1970, will be honored Feb. 3 at a special donors' reception pegged to the opening night of Noel Coward's comedy "Fallen Angels."
Fewer viewers for inauguration
President Obama outlined a bold vision for his second term, but things got off to a slow start when it came to TV ratings.
Viewing for Obama's second inauguration on Monday tumbled 46% compared with his first swearing-in in 2009, according to Nielsen. This time, 20.6 million tuned in. (Nielsen counted viewing on 18 networks.)
However, ratings for second inaugurals almost always dip compared with their predecessors. George W. Bush drew 29 million for his first inauguration in 2001, but only a bit more than half that the second time around.
The exception? Richard Nixon. In 1969, 27 million watched his swearing-in. Four years later, following a landslide reelection, he drew nearly 33 million.
The most-watched inauguration of the last 45 years was Ronald Reagan's in 1981, when 41.8 million tuned in.
Group will keep comedian's name
Stung by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to removing the name of original "Saturday Night Live" cast member Gilda Radner from a cancer support group's title, the Madison, Wis.-area chapter is borrowing one of the comedian's catch phrases for its next announcement: Never mind.
Gilda's Club Madison will remain just that, group leaders said Wednesday. The board voted to keep the name after criticism in November when it announced it was switching to the more generic Cancer Support Community Southwest Wisconsin, in part out of concern that young people today were unfamiliar with Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.
Anger over the name change, which was supposed to take effect this month, came from members of the local Gilda's Club chapter, fans of Radner who saw it as a slight to a woman who confronted cancer with dignity and humor, leaders of other clubs who reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the name, and Radner's husband, actor Gene Wilder.
Officials said the goal of the name change was always about making clear the group's mission, not to remove Radner's memory.
A break for Fox's 'Ben and Kate'
Fox is pulling its struggling freshman comedy "Ben and Kate" off the schedule.
Starting next Tuesday, full-hour installments of "Raising Hope" will air from 8 to 9 p.m. throughout the February ratings sweeps, with the exception of Feb. 19, when it will be paired with a repeat of "New Girl."
"Ben and Kate," which stars Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon as odd-couple siblings, has scored lackluster ratings since its premiere. Fox said the show would return but didn't say when.