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December 5, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 5, 2014 After midnight, the (Jewish) stars come out By Matt Robinson From Tevye the dairyman to Maroon 5's Adam Levine to "Let It Go" singer Idina Menzel, Jews have always been at the forefront of the music scene. Burt Sugarman and Mark Goodman are no different. As on of the pre- eminent television and film producers in history,. Sugar- man's rolodex of connections would make any A-lister blush. Goodman, one of the first on- air personalities for the MTV network, had his finger on the pulse of pop music for years. The two industry icons spoke to about the recent release of a collector's edition DVD set of Sugar- man's pioneering television program "Midnight Special" by StarVista Entertainment/ Time Life. From August 1972 to May 1981, the program of- fered a live look at virtually all of the top performing artists of the day, from Sugaman's beloved country music to come@. Among the hundreds of Grammy-winning and chart-topping guests were Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Randy Newman, John "Bow- zer" Bauman and Sha Na Na, and the KISS duo of Stanley Eisen and Chaim Witz (aka Paul Stanley and Gene Sim- mons). "Midnight Special" also featured legendary comic talents as George Burns, Bill Crystal, An@ Kaufman, Robert Klein, and Joan Rivers. Having started out his career in television, Sugar- man knew network execu- tives and had opportunities to pitch them shows. He Burr Sugarman often had their ears because of his Successful work with programs such as "Celebrity Sweepstakes" an d "The New- lywed Game." Even so, getting "Midnight Special" to sell was an uphill battle. "I had trouble getting any of the networks," Sugarman says, noting how his goal was to land at NBC in the spot after Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show." "Johnny was a next-door neighbor of mine," says Sug- arman. "We played tennis all the time together. I knew that that rating, when he went off, would be terrific to lead in to something." Yet the network was not interested in the audience demographic that they as- sumed would go for a late- night music show. Unwilling to give up, Sugarman took a risk and offered to finance the first show himself. "That's pretty hard [for a network] to turn down," he says. The next challenge was finding artists who were will- ing to come on the new show. "Some of the mainline artists," Sugarman explains, refusing to give names, "were panicked.., to walk out in front and see a red light on three or four cameras and start to sing or talk or something." Since "Midnight Special" did not use lip syncing (unlike other popular shows at the time), the artists had to be at their best and had no second chance to make their impres- sions on the eager audience. "All that made it very inter- esting," Sugarman says. "But we got through it and loved every second of it." Asked what links the musi- cally, culturally, and racially diverse talents on "Midnight Special," Goodman suggests that "the basic thing that they all have in common is that they were musical pioneers and they were artists." "They were trying to do things that were going to make peolSle spark to music and were current with the times, and in many cases, even forward-looking," Goodman tells The MTV network launched in August 1981, just a few months after "Midnight Spe- cial" went off the air. Good- man says he doesn't believe MTV could have existed "without 'Midnight Special' as a precursor." Recalling the experience of watching "Midnight Special," Goodman says, "Some of the performances are so incred- ible.., because they're live." Once the show took off, the artists began to line up to per- form. Some came on repeat- edly, taking full advantage of the publicity offered by this new platform. Sugarman says one performer even "wanted to present me with a gold album for being responsible, they said, for selling all the records." Despite having a "who's who" of music legends on "Midnight Special," Sugar- man always regrets the one that got away--Elvis Presley. "I knew [Elvis] quite well and played football on week- ends with him, and spent a lot of time with him, so that made it even harder not to have him on the show," Sug- arman says. Asked what first sparked his interest in music, Good- man recalls growing up in Philadelphia, listening to his parents' jazz heroes and the soulful sounds of the bands in the City of Brotherly Love. "As a young teenager, while all my friends were listening to pop music, I was listening to Smokey Robinson and... The Sound of Philadelphia," he says. "I like being in the position But when Goodman heard that I'm in, because... I get to Eric Clapton's early super group Cream, everything changed. "Between that and a couple of other things that were go- ing on with my generation at the time, I got into rock and roll, and the rest, as they say, is rock history," he says. Though he is no longer at MTV, Goodman continues to be a player in the industry as a host on Sirius XM radio. PAGE 11A NBC Television - eBay via Wikimedia Commons The Bee Gees perform on the "Midnight Special" televi- sion program in 1973. While old fans can reminisce and new fans can see what they missed, Sugarman continues to toy with the idea of bringing "Midnight Special" back to the airwaves. "I am talking to someone now that's been talking to me for about a year and a half about it," Sugarman says, declining to reveal the name. "He would be a great host, a wonderful artist, but we'll have to see if it goes further. I rather doubt it, but we'll see." turn people onto [music]," he says. While "Midnight Special" has not been in regular broad- cast for decades, it continues to gain fans through 'videos and online editions year after year. That is why Sugairman decided to put out this new edition, which comes in avari- ety of formats that range from a single-disc "best of" to an 11-disc "collector's edition." Wellesley students fear rise in anti-Semitism Wellesley College in Boston, Mass. " ( stu- dents at Wellesley College, a Boston-area school for women, fear that anti-Sem- itism is growing on campus following what they call the school administration's lax response to the anti-Israel activities of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as well as its decision to fire the school's Hillel director and Jewish chaplain. "I firmly believe this college is becoming increasingly anti- Semitic," Jordan Hannink, a junior at Wellesley, told Haaretz. Several posters have been Wikimedia Commons plastered on walls around the campus "with images of Palestinian children who were killed or wounded dur- ing the Gaza war." Another poster in the student center asks, "What does Zionism mean to you?" Responses to that question that were subsequently written on the poster include "genocide," "apartheid," and "murder," according to Haaretz. Jewish students said they had turned to the school's Hillel branch for support in their fight against campus anti-Zionism, but that those efforts were undermined by the school's decision to fire Hillel director Patti Schein- man and Jewish chaplain David Bernat. School officials cited "restructuring" as the reason for the firings. Wellesley Jewish students said the abrupt firings made them feel "like we just lost our support system and are on our own," one student told Haaretz. Additionally, efforts by Jewish students to have dialogue with SJP were scuttled by SJP's refusal to en- gage Jewish students, due to the anti-Israel's groups policy of "anti-normalization" of Jewish and pro-Israel groups. Dedicated To Serving Our Jewish Community Call on central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 407-599-1180 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Executive Director