Variety (January 1959)

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VOL. 213 No. 6 NEW YORK, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 1959 PRICE 35 CENTS NAMES THAT RODE UGH IN 1958 Italo Cleffers Turn Song Fests Into Slug Fests for Key Web Plugs ^ y ROBERT F. HAWKINS Rome. Among the most controversial — and most popular — events in Italian show business are the socalled song festivals wliicho take place in many cities every "year, but, have their major performances in San Remo and in Naples. In recent years, these events have grown in importance so that now the temperature they gener¬ ate is comparable only to, say, World Series fever in the U.S.A. Never was a cliche truer than the one describing every Italian as a singer — or a person thinking he or she can sing. But beyond these natural incentives, there are more commercial interests at stake, which make songfests so vitally important to this particular sector of Italian show business: the pub¬ lishers and diskeries, who have a lot at stake at these events. (A sideline fact is that there is only' one disk jockey on the govern¬ ment-subsidized Italian radio-tv set-up, RAI-TV, and that songs are performed over the net via a com¬ plicated system of percentages and requests, in which song festival success often plays an influential part). Criticized and threatened with an early death by various people, and for various reasons, usually hav¬ ing to do with a song’s non-admit¬ tance to the “finals, ” songfests have recently shown a new vitality, thanks mainly to the worldwide success of Domenico Modugno’s (Continued on page 60) New ‘Common Market’ European Pitch Long In Work on Disk Biz Front By HAZEL GUILD Frankfurt. With the “common market” looming into view in Europe, plenty of folks will have to take a back seat and admit that in one industry, at least, they’ve been scooped. And by minors, too. The “common market” is al¬ ready in existence here, in the record industry. And it’s the Ger¬ man teenagers who have given it the almighty boost. The word in the German platter circles is “foreign,” and the ac¬ cent is heavily on teenage-talent. While the sweet popular song is a thing of the past, it’s the rock ’n’ roll that’s a hit here, and the young folks, 1 cutting the platters, have rocked it to skyhigh pop¬ ularity. The U.S., England and Italy are the greatest current contributors to the platter rage. Top popular hit last year was the “Colonel Bogey’s March” from the “River Kwai” film, and England contrib¬ uted Monty Sunshine’s “Petite Fleur” and “Wildcat Blues.” Two of the top hits from Italy (Continued on page 52) New Humor Trend Washington. Current schoolkid gag craze here has developed a show biz-angled one: “I don’t care if your name is Tom Dooley, get the hell outa my apple tree!” Sons and daughters of Dem¬ ocrats like this one: “I don’t care what you’re president of, get your golf balls off my lawn!” Alaska's Winter Nights Favoring Films & Cafes By JIM POWERS Hollywood. Alaska is in. for a population ex¬ plosion as a result of statehood, but it has many economic prob¬ lems that won’t be solved by an in¬ flux of populace alone. That’s the cautious opinion of Alaskan finan¬ cier Roger Hurlock, here some weeks ago to attend a meeting of the Allied Artists board of direc¬ tors, of which he’s a member. Theatrical films are having and will continue to have a jump in attendance, Hurlock says, and live entertainment, chiefly in niteries, is likely to match this increase. He is dim on the immediate pros¬ pects of television to cash in on population growth.. \ It’s those long (sub-Arctic) win; ter nights, says Hurlock, that pro i vide the customers for films and I the clubs. There is plenty of audi1 ence, too, for tv, but the state’s ! rugged terrain creates transmis(Continued on page 58) IS PERSdLUlf By ABEL GREEN Always the same obvious truism — show business is a business of names, personalities, values gen¬ erated by the traits and skills and charms of potent (at the boxoffice) individuals. So, too, in 1958. Brigitte Bardot’s pictures sold like French postcards. Texas’ Van Cl; bum made global headlines with his hi-Tchai in Mos¬ cow, and later, back home (a), with a ticker-tape parade up Broadway; (2) socko concert grosses; (3), a longhair LP (T’s Piano Concerto No. 1) topped the pop album sellers. Ricky Nelson surged to the fore as the new teenage idol, Dick Clark passed Alan Freed as the Pied Piper of the pop songs; rock ‘n’ roll downbeated as the cha-cha upbeated. Pvt. Elvis Presley had a “Col¬ onel” — Tom Parker — working for him now. He’s still the No. 1 rock¬ abilly seller.* These personality equations had it made in 1958: Callas operatics. Sinatra romantics. Mike Todd, dead or alive. Margaret & Townsend. The marrying Crosbys. Bob Hope in Moscow. Mischa Elman, 50 years a fiddler^ DeMille, 77 years DeMille. Maurice Chevalier, the perennial. Lawrence Welk, genius in schmaltz. Fred Astaire, the pains-taker. Run down the stories as they appeared in Variety. Exit Drab Realism-American Legit Marks Return to a Colorful Theatre WBo— Us? Sydney. Arthur Stiles, top west Aus¬ tralian cinema showman, writ¬ ing a Yuletide screed for a local paper had this to say about Variety: “Variety is regarded as the Bible of Show Business the world over . Main point to be remembered is that its editors are too busy pouring FACTS into the sheet to worry about spelling.” May Get a Little Tax Relief in ’59 By LES CARPENTER Washington. Congress returns this week with no intention of giving Americans any major tax relief. But minor tax changes will be made here and there during 1959. There is an outside chance that longstanding.’efforts to cut the Lawrence Langner Comedians’ ’Comeback’ George without Grade was havig trouble. Much vaunted come(Continued on page 56) ASCAP’s Radio Pact Although still in a hassle with a group of indie radio stations, the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers succeeded in wrapping up a licensing agreement with the four radio networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Mutual) last week. New pact covering the webs and their owned & operated stations is a one-year extension of the current blanket licensing deal under which ASCAP receives 2.25% of the gross revenue, less specific deductions. ASCAP’s talks with the AllIndustry Radio Station Committee, representing over 600 indie sta¬ tions, broke down several weeks ago and that rate dispute will be decided in N.Y. Federal Court. In addition to the networks, ASCAP1 has deals with about 50% of local outlets throughout the country. They Hanged My Saintly Hyphen By LEONARD TRAUBE HYPHEN — under one, into one , together. A punctuation mark be¬ tween the syllables of a divided word or between parts of .a com¬ pound word. To connect or mark with a hyphen. By LAWRENCE LANGNER This year which has just gone by may well be remembered as one which broke the trend of the Amer¬ ican realistic theatre by proving that the Amercan public is hungry for a return of beauty, color, and affirma¬ tion to the stage. For the year 1958 wit¬ nessed a veri¬ table miracle. Both in Can¬ ada at the Stratford (On¬ tario) Shake¬ speare Festival and in the United States at the American Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Conn., young people, middle-aged people, old I people, rich* poor, workers, em¬ ployers, little bGys and girls, stu¬ dents, clergymen — all flocked to ; see the plays of .Shakespeare over ! the summer, and came out of the j theatres cheering and asking for ' more! They broke all boxoffice records for summer engagements. Strat¬ ford, Canada, played to its virtual capacity of over $50;000 per week. Stratford, Conn., the smaller house, played for several w eeks at S45,G00 . . _ ; per week. Musical comedy business 20% night club tax in half will : for Shakespeare! What has hapfinally succeed. And there is a re pened? Can it be that a new theamote possibility of further liberal ’ tre public has arisen which is in ization of taxes on admission ' revolt against the drabness of our tickets to other amusements. } theatre, and is eager for plays Otherwise, a tax break for show I which hold the mirror up to nature biz in 1959 seems highly unlikely, j instead of the microscope? The tax situation involves ele ; in the last 25 years, what I can mentary economics. Missiles ° and i characterize as a “drabness” has other arms are getting more ex j struck the American theatre. Due pensive all the time, and Uncle j to the incidence of the depression, Sam cannot afford to stop buying ; the theatre began to take on a new • them in large quantities. Other form. It began to serve as a forum Government services are costly, for economic ideas, to portray the and the politician wanting to cut off any such services is an oddity. 1 President/Fi^enhower w’ill send ■ Congress his-new budget within a : few days, and it will be a whopper; meaning that the Government’s bills can’t be paid if the Govern . ment collects less taxes. i The Eisenhower budget, of ’ course, is the President’s recom i (Continued on page 61) j miseries of the day, and to demont Continued’ cn page 62) The hyphen has been talcing an awful beating from many classy (Continued on page 62) Early Press Time This 53 d Anniversary Num¬ ber went to press several days ahead of the normal Tuesday closing deadline. As a result, certain news departments are telescoped, -viz., TV-Films with TV-Radio, , Tollvision with Pictures, and certain other departments have been omitted or com¬ bined with others. 0. Henry’s Billing Washington. For First Time Broadway Legit Grosses Last Week Hit the $1,000,000 Mark For the first time in legit annals, the total gross for all Broadway i shows was expected to top $1,000,000 last week. There were 30 pro¬ ductions on the boards, not count¬ ing the Phoenix Theatre’s “Power and the Glory” or other off-Broad The "60-year-old mystery of how V/ay operations. .fines' Porter came to j The previous ,veek> endi Dee.. choose the pen name of O. Henry 27 th* t t , r>roadwav may have been solved by a prom Z7’ - total _Proaa*a> inent Washington attorney with show biz connections, Joe Borkin, whose hobby is private eye work on literature. Borkin, former attorney for Universal Pictures (under Nate ‘ Blumberg) and Decca Records, and top assistant to Thurman Ar( Continued on page 58) gross reached a new all-time high, $999,,600 for 29 shows. The former single-week highs were $963,400 on 29 shows, for the week ended April 27, 1957, and $962,700 on 28 shows for the week ended Feb. 15, 1958. A key factor in the* expected $l,000,000-plus figure last week was, of course, the upped scale for New Year’s Eve.