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Hamlisch program is a New Year's Eve winner

 By Alan Pergament

During one of his numerous talk show appearances replayed on tonight’s American Masters program on WNED-TV, Marvin Hamiisch suggested to an interviewer that there was a good reason that there is "ham" in his last name.

Throughout the 90 minutes of "Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love," you can see why the late principal pops conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic would say that.

And you can see why I suggested last week that if you didn't see Hamlisch perform with the BPO here, you’ll regret it after you see how funny, delightful and appealing the famed ham and composer of "A Chorus Line," "They're Playing Our Song" and numerous shows and movie tunes was before any audience.

When it comes to profiles of celebrity icons, nobody does it better than the writers and producers of American Masters.

The program, which aired nationally on Friday, is well worth the wait for WNED-TV viewers at 9:30 tonight even though it is somewhat disappointing that Hamisch's role in Buffalo is never mentioned.

Using television clips and interviews with Hamlisch's diverse group of friends, family members and admirers, "What He Did for Love" is a joyous and moving tribute to the child prodigy who played for Judy Garland early in his life, won three Oscars on the same night before he was 30 and earned a Pulitzer Prize for his collaboration with Buffalo native Michael Bennett on "A Chorus Line."

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you probably know I was predisposed to love the program since I am a big Broadway musical fan. Just this week, I saw the premiere of the biographical Carole King musical, "Beautiful," that currently is playing in previews in the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. (Mini-review: Loved the music, the story not so much.)

But the high expectations for the Hamlisch program were exceeded because of the storytelling ability of Hamlisch and his friends.

In his multiple interviews with famous TV talk show hosts, Hamlisch explained his writing process and illustrated why his sense of humor would have made a career playing classical music too confining.

One of the other highlights comes from singer Carly Simon, who is best known for singing the theme song of "Nobody Does It Better" written by Hamlisch for the James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Simon remembered listening to Hamisch play the piano for a group of musical friends for hours in his New York home during the famous 1977 New York City blackout.

If you’'re staying at home on New Year’s Eve, there might not be a better way to enjoy the evening than watching Hamlisch at the piano playing and singing his songs along with his famous friends.  




Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |