The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a relatively new theater in the heart of Beverly Hills. The family of the late, Oscar-winning composer Henry Mancini assembled an incredible lineup of talent as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization on Saturday, April 1, and we were thrilled to be invited to cover it for Variety. The event, which featured Julie Andrews, John Williams, Quincy Jones, Kristin Chenoweth and many other stars, was a memorable concert of Mancini’s greatest hits, from Peter Gunn to The Pink Panther, “Moon River” to “Days of Wine and Roses” and more. Here is my story for Variety‘s online news page.
For the Steve Martin remake of The Pink Panther, composer Christophe Beck not only embraced the original Henry Mancini theme, he even sought out the original saxophone player, Plas Johnson, to play the solo. I talked to them, and to the composer’s daughter Monica Mancini, for this fun story about that classic tune.
This was a genuine labor of love. The U.S. Postal Service was about to issue a Mancini stamp, and there was to be a big ceremony downtown. So the Times asked me for a retrospective piece, yet one that would quote friends, family and give a sense of his impact on popular culture. This is one of my all-time favorite pieces for the L.A. Times.