Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006


St. Louis's reports that "local sports officials say the U.S. Figure Skating championships gave our area a huge image boost. Frank Viverito, the St. Louis Sports Commission President, says "I think it absolutely is image enhancement, and I'm very reluctant to put a price on it you know, because that you can dispute. What you can't dispute is that it was a wonderful event and the coverage was very favorable and very extensive."

Which means that, in the end, despite the Kwantroversy, and Johnny Weir's drug references, and Inoue & Baldwin's history-making Throw Triple Axel, what really matters about these latest Nationals is that they made money and they enhanced the host city's public relations.

Meanwhile, television has made stars of a new crop of skaters (what do you think all those up-close-and-personal pieces are for?), and naturally, television is anxious to capitalize on these new celebrities they've created.

Broadcasting competitions and existing tours is always an adequate start. But, why let someone else call the shots, when you can create your own television special, and control every aspect of production?

Peggy Fleming appeared in her first television spectacular for CBS, in 1968, soon after winning the Olympic Gold. She would go on to star in many more specials, including one where she got a chance to perform with special guest Gene Kelly.

Dorothy Hamill also kicked up her heels with Kelly in her 1976 post-Olympic Dorothy Hamill Special. Though the late, legendary movie-star did caution his producers before shooting began in Toronto, "I can't sing like I used to. I certainly can't dance like I used to. And I really can't skate. I'm a triple-threat."

Dorothy and Gene recreated his most famous number, Singing in the Rain, with her as the joyful dancer, and Gene as the policeman who pops in at the end to spoil her fun. All night, Dorothy skated under a deluge of freezing water, prompting even Gene to concede he felt sorry for her. When he filmed the original number, he did it under warm water, whereas, to keep the ice from melting, Dorothy's rainstorm had to be bone-chilling. She caught a cold as a result of the shoot.

The special's director, Doug Wilson, recalls, "She was really ill, feverish, clammy."

But, she also had an entire symphony orchestra, decked out in tuxedos, sitting in a Toronto park, in a wind-chill of -15 below zero, waiting for Dorothy to come out and skate her second number, Be a Clown, with Gene Kelly. The producers offered Dorothy the chance to back out, but, back straight, shoulders squared, she insisted the show must go on.

(Canada's Kurt Browning staged his own tribute to idol Kelly in his special, You Must Remember This. For his rendition of Singin' in the Rain, the World Champion recreated the set, lighting, costumes, and camera angles of the original so precisely that, on initial viewing, it takes a blink and a moment to realize that the action is taking place on skates.)

So how did we get from Gene Kelly, symphony orchestras and stylized tributes to Skating With Celebrities?

Stay tuned for my exclusive, in-depth report!

To Be Continued....


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