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August 22, 2013

Life After TV’s Smash Still Busy For Its Songwriters

By MICHAEL CIDONI LENNOX

AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have strong opinions about the demise of ``Smash,’’ the highly anticipated but ultimately much maligned TV series about the making of Broadway musicals.

But to borrow from one of the duo’s lyrics, they’d rather just smile and look back.

Not that there’s been much time for reflection.

A month after the final ``Smash’’ episode aired on NBC in late May, the Tony-winning Shaiman and Wittman (“Hairspray’’) added a new hit to their list of credits: They supplied songs to the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved and twice film-adapted children’s book, ``Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’’ The musical opened in London to such strong ticket demand that the show’s run was extended by six months, to the end of May 2014.

Then Shaiman and Wittman received more good news: an Emmy nomination for outstanding original music and lyrics for one of their ``Smash’’ songs, the ballad ``Hang the Moon.’’

``(It’s great) that Scott and I get to represent `Smash’ with this nomination because it is now no longer,’’ Shaiman said. ``(But) there were millions of people who really were enjoying the show, or, certainly, certain parts of the show.’’

``Hang the Moon’’ imagines a musical meeting of Marilyn Monroe with her estranged mother, who expresses regret over leaving her daughter alone so often during childhood.

``We knew that Marilyn’s mom was a film cutter,’’ Shaiman said. ``So we had this great concept where she said, `If I could only re-edit our lives.’’’

Sitting at a piano in his Hollywood Hills recording studio, Shaiman sang the opening verse:``If our lives were a movie/ I’d know what to do/ I’d write every scene with my heart/ An RKO picture that stars me and you/ And this time I’d learn my part.’’

Shaiman said he learned that ``Smash’’ suffered from having too many cooks in the kitchen.

``And too many chefs all loved it,’’ he said, soon to be cut off by the ringing of a phone.

``That’s them, calling, saying, `Stop talking about us!’’’ Shaiman joked.

As for ``Charlie,’’ Wittman confirmed the musical is bound for Broadway, but said its arrival will be delayed until director Sam Mendes completes the next James Bond movie.

The biggest challenge for the songwriters was meeting the expectations of fans of the previous takes on the novel. Fortunately, Shaiman said, the original Dahl text is ``so full of wild, great, extravagant and emotional ideas that musicalizing the book was actually a walk in the park.’’

The Academy of Television Arts & Science’s prime-time creative-arts ceremony will be held Sept. 15 in Los Angeles. Shaiman predicted that he and Wittman won’t be walking away with an Emmy, given the competition this year. But little matter. If nothing else, ``Hang the Moon’’ will always serve as the duo’s pitch-perfect love letter to a smash that just wasn’t meant to be. Shaiman played and sang it out:

``As the final reel ends/ We might both shed a tear/ For the ending is coming up soon/ But as the screen fades to black/ We can smile and look back/ And for you, darling, I’ll hang the moon.’’

Free Dogwood Trees For Joining Arbor Day Foundation, August

Nebraska City, NE - Add color to your landscape year-round by joining the Arbor Day Foundation in August.

Everyone who joins the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation with a $10 donation will receive 10 free white flowering dogwood trees through the Foundation's Trees for America campaign.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting in each member's area, which falls between October 15 and December 10. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Planting instructions are enclosed with each shipment of trees.

"Dogwood trees will add color and beauty to your yard throughout the year, with their showy spring flowers, scarlet autumn foliage and red berries that attract songbirds in the winter," said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

New members of the Arbor Day Foundation also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care, and a subscription to Arbor Day, the Foundation's bimonthly publication.

To receive the free white flowering dogwood trees, send a $10 membership contribution to Ten Free Dogwoods, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by August 31, 2013, or join online at www.arborday.org/august.

Back To School Sleep Habits: Tips For Getting Kids In Gear!

By MELISSA RAYWORTH

Associated Press

Parents, you can already picture those first mornings of the school year: the challenge of dragging cranky kids out of their beds at dawn after two months of mellow summer mornings.

Each year, many of us swear we’ll do it differently. We will listen to the experts. We will adjust our children’s bedtimes back to a school-year schedule as soon as August arrives. We will work with biology, not against it, by dimming the lights and drawing the curtains in the evenings. We will remember the power of a good bedtime routine.

It does sound wonderful.

But each year, many families embrace the spontaneity of summer and the long, light evenings, ditching routines and enjoying late nights with the kids. Or maybe we really do try to get them to bed early, but Little League baseball games run late and vacations to other time zones make it impossible.

Then we try to get our kids up early for the first day of school and their bodies naturally rebel. It’s never easy to be ``waking up at the time you’re biologically ready to be asleep,’’ says Dr. Peter Franzen, child sleep expert and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh’s Sleep Medicine Institute.

Lack of sleep can affect kids’ ability to learn, to remember and to handle emotions, he says.

So here are some tips for getting them back to a sensible bedtime:

Begin adjusting bedtime at least two weeks before classes begin, says family sleep counselor Dana Obleman, founder of the Sleep Sense system for getting babies and toddlers to sleep well.

``You don’t have to jump into going to bed at 7:30 and being really strict,’’ she says. ``But do an evaluation of where the bedtime has been falling and move back toward that by about 15 minutes every third night.’’ (Of course, if you’ve altered your kids’ bedtime by more than an hour, you’ll need to make those changes in larger increments.)

For young kids, the most effective routine includes a warm bath and reading a favorite book. Skip television, which has a stimulating effect.

With older children, Obleman suggests having a sit-down meeting two weeks before school begins. Discuss the importance of being rested during the first weeks of school.

Plan a solid bedtime routine together, making sure they understand how much sleep is necessary. Children, from toddlers to adolescents, need 10 to 12 hours of solid nighttime sleep, Obleman says. Teens are likely to need at least 9 hours.

``People say, `If my child got eight hours, that’s adequate.’ And it might be adequate,’’ Obleman says. ``But you want to be giving them great, awesome restful sleep at night.’’

Once you’ve chosen a bedtime, agree to turn off electronic screens one hour earlier, because the light from these devices signals our bodies to stay awake, Franzen says. Kids already have a harder time getting sleepy at night as they reach their teen years due to changes in their body chemistry, he says. Looking at the light of electronic devices only delays that response further.

A regular bedtime routine triggers a child’s natural urge to sleep, and also creates treasured memories of quiet moments with mom and dad, notes Lorraine Breffni, director of early childhood at Nova Southeastern University’s Mailman Segal Center for Human Development, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

``Those routines can be very personal family rituals, a certain snack that you eat, a certain book you read, a certain song that you sing,’’ she says.

For adolescents and teens, Breffni, says, keep in mind that the time they ``go to bed’’ may not be close to the time they actually fall asleep. So make sure older students understand what time they should actually be asleep.

``One of my cornerstones is that if children are going to bed early enough, there shouldn’t be a need to wake them in the morning,’’ Obleman says. ``If you’re dragging them by the ankle every morning, they’re going to bed too late.’’

On the last mornings before school starts, you might even induce the kids to get up early by taking them out to breakfast at their favorite restaurants.

One final step, which can be especially tough on parents: Ideally, the whole family should go to bed early on those final nights. It may be hard to give up the late night hours you’re accustomed to, but going to sleep earlier will benefit you as well as your kids.

``We’re seeing an epidemic of sleep deprivation’’ among adults, Franzen says. ``We’re certainly not modeling appropriate behavior for our kids.’’

These experts say adults really do need eight hours of sleep per night, though many of us get as little as five or six.

So even if you won’t kick back into an early bedtime routine until the night before school begins this year, says Breffni, make this the year you prioritize sleep for the whole family.

 


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