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    Disney Pride at Davies, View the Oscars at the Orinda Theatre, and a Movie That’s So Bad It’s Good

    By Jan Wahl–

    We all have a favorite Disney song or movie. Our childhoods are full of them. For me, one of my favorite songs is “When You Wish Upon a Star” from Pinocchio. Coincidently, that is just the number the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) will be starting and ending with at their concert Disney Pride at Davies Symphony Hall March 16 and March 17. 

    It is impossible to replace the former SFGMC director Dr. Tim Seelig, my fellow San Francisco Bay Times columnist and friend.  He is irreplaceable and alive and well in the beautiful state of Oregon, although he is never far away from all of us. The Chorus has a new Artistic Director, Jacob Stensberg. He loves him some Disney music, too! 

    Stensberg told me for the San Francisco Bay Times: “I love the music from Hercules because it speaks to the journey of the unknown we all take. I am a sucker for The Little Mermaid. These songs and others bring out the childhood wonder in me.”

    “I grew up in Wisconsin and spent the last six years in Indiana,” he continued. “I found community there, but this place [San Francisco] is magic. I love the Emerald City and the people I have met here. It’s a dream come true, the arts and culture and amazing people.”

    He added, “Get ready for our July 19 show on the Yellow Brick Roads: The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, Elton, and Wicked. Hope to see you all at Disney Pride at Davies March 16 and 17. The SFGMC website has all the info.”

    In other entertainment news, it is possible to have a fabulous time watching the Oscar telecast Sunday, March 12. Take two Oscar history experts (yours truly and Derek Zemrack), mix in a big screen in a classic art deco theatre, and slowly add great food and drinks. Sift through boring commercials with me on the microphone doing Oscar scandal trivia for cool movie prizes.  Devour a terrific night at the Oscars; so much better than staying home!

    I truly love this 1941 East Bay theatre, restored fully to its historical glory and glamour. The murals, sound system, opulent side rooms, smaller theatre, and comfortable lobby are all first rate in this updated Art Deco treasure. For a fifty-dollar ticket, this Oscar Gala is a fundraiser, helping this gorgeous place to flourish. Owner/Operator Derek Zemrack told me: “With independent theatres closing, our historic theatre also keeps alive Art Deco and architectural details—from the red-carpet arrival with paparazzi, ballots, personal Oscar acceptance speeches (haven’t you always wanted to?), commemorative champagne flutes, and full bar with comfort food.”

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    Get ready for the big show by viewing one of the worst movies ever made. It is so bad it is good! 1966 is the year of The Oscar, starring Stephen Boyd, Elke Sommer, Jill St. John, Eleanor Parker, and Joseph Cotton. The best cast member is Tony Bennett in his only non-singing role, as Hymie Kelly, who is the best friend to the star. 

    Boyd plays that big movie star, named Frank Fane, who hopes he is about to hear his name called as winner of the Best Actor Oscar. Hymie tells Frank’s story in flashback as this ruthless, gorgeous heel claws his way to the gold. Based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Richard Sales, the film features still more actual stars including Ernest Borgnine, Milton Berle, Merle Oberon, and another Frankie: Sinatra. 

    A number of years ago I interviewed the divine Mr. Bennett. I just had to ask him about this film, knowing he would either walk out on the interview or laugh about it. Fortunately, he smiled at the memory and said, “What a stinker! I won a Golden Turkey Award as worst pop singer ever in a movie. Yeah. A stinker.”    

    I wouldn’t go that far, Tony. The film is defiantly camp fun and is perfect for getting you in the Oscar mood.   

    Jan Wahl is a Hollywood historian, film critic on various broadcast outlets, and has her own YouTube channel series, “Jan Wahl Showbiz.” She has two Emmys and many awards for her longtime work on behalf of film buffs and the LGBTQ community. Contact her at

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    Published on February 23, 2023