Think Outside the Bach

By Richard Mineards   |   December 6, 2018
Evan Shinners goes window bopping

A grant of $20,000 from the Music Academy of the West has enabled pianist Evan Shinners, who attended the Miraflores campus in 2009, to put his keyboard talents to good use with a pop-up shop in Manhattan offering Bach prelude, fugues, and even condoms.

The Juilliard-trained pianist has been playing five hours of Bach each and every day on his Yamaha grand piano for more than 30 straight days, even on Thanksgiving, behind the plate glass windows of a former bank branch on the Big Apple’s Upper Westside, just a tiara’s toss from the stage door of Carnegie Hall.

The Bach Store, as it is known, is both an effort to make live Bach more accessible and available, but is something of an inward journey for the 32-year-old musician.

There is also merchandise, including T-shirts, cigarette lighters, and even condoms that note on the wrappers that Bach fathered 20 children.

Shinners says the marathon was partly inspired by an experience he had seeking the tutelage of the French harpsichordist and great Bach interpreter Pierre Hantai, who rebuffed him with a deep, two-page letter dismissing gimmickry that he wound up taking very much to heart.

TV Personality Toppers

Montecito comedienne and serial real estate flipper Ellen DeGeneres is second in the latest Forbes list of the highest paid TV hosts with $87.5 million, including $20 million she made for a Netflix stand-up special.

Combined with monies she earns hosting her eponymous Burbank-based show and millions more in producer salaries – Little Big Shots, Splitting Up Together – and licensing fees – PetSmart, and Bed, Bath and Beyond – this is her most lucrative year yet.

Topping the list is TV judge Judy Sheindlin with annual earnings of $147,000,000, who sold the rights to the 5,200-episode library of her popular Judge Judy show for an estimated $100 million.

She has been on the air for decades and earns $47 million annually, as well as production royalties for her other show, Hot Bench.

Dr. Phil McGraw with $77,500,000 is third, with American Idol host Ryan Seacrest fourth with $74,000,000 and Steve Harvey, host of Family Feud, with $44,000,000.

Not So Head Over Heels

Not everything Goop goddess Gwyneth Paltrow touches turns to gold.

The Go-Go’s musical she produced, Head Over Heels, is closing in January after struggling at the box office, while other shows on the Great White Way have had booming sales.

The show that marked the Montecito Oscar winner’s producing debut oddly paired music by the 80’s band – who I once saw perform at the Rockefeller Center studio for NBC’s Saturday Night Live – with a story inspired by a 16th century prose poem.

It will have played just 188 regular performances when it brings down the final curtain.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show posted a weekly gross of more than $300,000 only twice during its ill-fated run. Box office stats from the Broadway League reflect it was only playing to 46 percent of capacity the week of Thanksgiving, when others were hitting record sales.

Reps for the show says that under lead producer Christine Russell, the production will explore a U.S. tour as well as regional productions and professional licensing.

Uncovered Treasure

I can’t believe it is more than 21 years since I covered Princess Diana’s auction of 79 of her dresses at Christies in New York for ABC and CNN.

The gowns raised a hefty $3.25 million for cancer and AIDS charities. It was also the last time I spoke to her at a socially gridlocked reception the day before the sale.

But the Diana effect is still clearly alive and well with a shimmering white gown she wore at a state banquet in Bahrain in 1986 expected to sell for $130,000 at a London auction.

Designed by her wedding dress creator, David Emanuel, to cover as much of her body as possible to conform with local customs in the Gulf states, it was discovered in a second-hand store.

Rest in Peace

My condolences to former TV talk show titan Oprah Winfrey whose mother, Vernita Lee, has moved to more heavenly pastures aged 83.

She died at her home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Thanksgiving and a private funeral has already been held.


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