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Episode 90

Dirty Dancing & Songwriting Magic

Episode  90
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NPR/PBS’s Steve Mencher took in so much of SXSW he simply must offload some of it to us. Steve’s festival strategy did not include pacing himself. Steve saw films, heard talks and attended concerts by Dolly Parton, Ron Howard, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Gabby Giffords, Magic Johnson, Richard Linklater, and beyond. He returned with photos and interviews and the scoop on all of the wonderful media we are all about to enjoy this year including: Apollo 10 1/2, Run, Rose, Run, Mama Bears, Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story, They Call Me Magic, Sheryl, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, We Feed People, and Bad Axe. Cozy up to your blue tooth streaming device of choice for a vicarious journey to SXSW.

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Steve Mencher on Twitter


SXSW on Twitter

Steve Mencher's Film - The Codex: Leonardo da Vinci Meets Bill Gates

Steve Mencher's PBS Series, Beyond Belief

Steve Mencher's Podcast, Living Downstream

Dolly Parton's Book, Run, Rose Run

Run, Rose, Run Album

Dollyverse and NFTs

Dolly Parton's America Podcast

Mama Bears
Gabby Giffords: Won't Back Down

Frances Haugen

Alexis McGill Johnson - Planned Parenthood

Maria Ressa 

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story  

Sheryl Crow Documentary

They Call Me Magic 

Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

We Feed People – Jose Andres 

World Central Kitchen

Bad Axe

Willie Nelson

It's a Long Story by Willie Nelson

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Fritz Coleman (00:00:04):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:07):

And I'm Louise Palanker.

Fritz Coleman (00:00:09):

Here on Media Path, we gently guide you toward entertainment content that's interesting, maybe undiscovered, but at the very least, not a waste of your time. And we love to welcome talented guests as well. Today we have three amazing stories to tell you. Three singers, songwriters, music producers. One of the magical things they have in common is that they were the force behind the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, the Sleeper hit movie with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, that burst onto the scene in 1987 and earned them Wild Success, along with an Oscar and a Golden Globe, a Grammy nomination and an ASCAP award. We're gonna learn all about it. They are Frankie Previ, John d Cola, and Stacy Witz, and they'll be on in just a second. But first wheezy, we have to address the tuxedo wearing elephant in the room. <laugh> from Oscar's Sunday night, the slap heard round the world, the Will Smith Chris Rock smacked down. Tell, tell me what you're feeling about that thing.

Louise Palanker (00:01:14):

So, yeah, uh, uh, it just kind of immediately, I was just consumed by feelings that I, and I couldn't express them, so I kind of wrote down my thoughts. And here they are. Immediately following the incident, white people were told on Twitter that we dare not have an opinion about black women and their hair, or the ways in which black men protect black women. I hear that, and I will not weigh in on that portion of the dispute. As a comedian, I get to have an opinion about telling an offensive joke. I have done that. I have never been assaulted. There have been thousands of jokes told that the Oscars or its celebrity roses that have hurt or offended or opened a wound or disrespected someone's history or added fuel to a feud. Nobody got clocked. As we are watching in horror, the violence unfolding across Europe, we saw a guy get angry, walk up onto a stage, and smack another man in the face.


We then celebrated, cheered, and applauded as that assailant was honored for his good work. If Will Smith had leaned into the microphone and said, my wife has alopecia, and then glared at Chris Rock and taken his seat, it would've been a powerful moment. Instead, it's an ugly moment that tarnished the evening for Questlove and the Coda team and Jane Campan, and so many other great artists. I am hopeful that the event will evolve into conversations about alopecia and also about men who cry with their fists or with bullets. Because if he was willing to commit that assault publicly, and then use his speech not to apologize, but to justify his actions, then he has a problem. And many people live in households with such a person, the smallest, slight ignites rage and violence. That should be the next conversation now. Chris Rock. How can you make a film like good hair and then talk any smack at all about a woman's style? It's either her chores or it's what she is working with, you know, better. And Gi Jane jokes are so very nineties, deme and Jada look super cute. Shut it. So, Fritz your thought, <laugh>, fritz, your thoughts?

Fritz Coleman (00:03:14):

Well, violence is inexcusable. If, if, if Will was sticking up for Jada, he should have done it off stage. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I would, I I would, you know, him clocking him behind the curtain would've made more sense to me. I, but honestly, I don't think that Chris knew about Jada's condition, nor would he have made a joke about it if he had known. I was watching in a room full of 20 people. Not one person knew that she suffered from alopecia. They said it was a commonly known thing. I, nobody I was with had ever heard that. Now, they had priors from a joke Chris told about Jada in the 2016 Oscars when he was hosting. So, in Will's mind, this may have been a callback to that joke and a bridge too far. Now there's a discussion about taking his Oscar away from him. No, I don't think they need to do that.


No. It's the old argument that you have to separate the art from the artists. I call it the Woody Allen Syndrome. When you watch further Will Smith performances, will you be able to suspend your disbelief long enough to get him lost in the character? That'll be the big question. I also think will missed, as you said, a a chance to rehabilitate himself. When he won his Oscar, he might have apologized to Chris the Academy, the entire planet mentioned Jada's disease. May a culper for the inappropriate response, maybe even invited Chris back on stage for a hug that didn't happen. He apologized to the academy, but then he went off on this self-important rant about wanting to be a vessel for love and a force for good in the world. Even Bishop Desmond Tutu would've said, tone it down, dude, I've known Will since Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which was shot in the NBC lot where I worked for 35 years. He was a gifted performer, a very special young man. And I'm very sad that this event came off like it did, because as you mentioned, it tainted everybody's Oscars after that, even the winners. So, Seth, that's enough of that.

Louise Palanker (00:05:16):

I would love to hear what our guests, well, you can introduce our guests, but then I would love to hear what things.

Fritz Coleman (00:05:21):

Yeah, they, they got an Oscar. They've been on that stage.

Louise Palanker (00:05:23):

They never smacked

Fritz Coleman (00:05:24):

Anyone. Maybe they punched somebody that we, we don't know about. Three gentlemen that shared the magical experience of composing music for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. They won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy nomination, an ASCAP award for their work. Frankie Previtt is a singer and songwriter. You may remember him as part of the Rock Quintet, Frankie in the Knockouts. They had three top 40 singles and two top 50 albums. Their biggest hit was, sweetheart, it was a top 10 hit in 1981. He was the co-writer on, I've had the time of my life and Hungry Eyes from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Eric Carmen, a good friend of Weezys, went on to have a hit with Hungry Eyes. John Dina Cole is a songwriter and producer who co-wrote, I've had the Time of my life. He also wrote songs for Eddie Money and John, wait.


He's produced lots of albums in his own studio, including a band called Kara's Flowers, which went on to become Maroon five. Are you kidding me? He released a debut album of songs he wrote called The Y Cause it's a great name for an album, which includes versions of hungry eyes. And I've had the time of my life. And Stacey Wide Letz has scored many, many television shows and films for both daytime and primetime television. At only 24 years old, he scored the theme for the Richard Simmons Show. So when you were trying to look good at those disgustingly small shorts trying to imitate Richard Simmons, you were dancing to his music, which is hard to believe. His connection to the Dirty Dancing experience was one of those cosmic accidents. He and Patrick Swayze were neighbors. Patrick had an idea for a song, and Stacy helped him with it.


The song was called, she's Like The Wind, which ended up on the soundtrack as well. And after many years of scoring television in film in Los Angeles, he moved to Nashville. He ran for public office down there, became a city commissioner in the community of Oak Hill. He also became the board president of the Nashville Film Festival, and is currently, I think he is still the president of the Nashville Opera Guild. Talented man who also did music for the other Patrick Swayze film that I saw, Roadhouse and 50 Days of Summer Jets. We're so happy to have you here today. I hope we can pack this all in, in an hour. So glad you're here. Be

Franke Previte (00:07:39):

Here. Uh, I think you just did the interview for us,

Fritz Coleman (00:07:42):

<laugh>. No, no, no. I wanted to say, but it's, it's hard to win three people who have had diverse yet slightly connected, uh, careers. And I wanted to give you all your due, because that makes, it's like the founding fathers of the United States. All these geniuses came together for one creative process. It's a super group. And, and, and, and since we have still the low grade Oscar fever, uh, Frankie and John set up that moment when you walked on stage and the sights and sounds have taken home that statue something that very few people on the planet understand.

Franke Previte (00:08:18):

Well, first I want to, I wanna kind of clarify one thing that, um, you, you left out, John also is the co-writer of Hungry Eyes, uh, with me as, as well as Time of My Life, and Right. So that was, that was actually the first song we ever wrote together. So I, I didn't wanna leave that out.

Fritz Coleman (00:08:35):

Um, no. And that also, you, you released that with Frankie in the Knockouts a few years before the soundtrack came out. Right?

Franke Previte (00:08:41):

Not really released it. It was a demo that was going to be from Knockouts Next Record. And John released it about two years ago, and it went, uh, like number 22 on the AC chart. So, um, the song has had many lice, but nothing like the life it had with, uh, dirty Dancing and Eric Carmen's version. Um, my, my experience of, um, being at the Academy Awards, I had my mother and father sitting left and right of me, and I remember listening to all the songs and my father being the Italian that he was, looked at me and said, I just heard all the songs. And he said, you're gonna win. And I just looked at him and I was like, do not put the Maloy on me <laugh>.


And so, uh, when they announced the winner, which was Liza Minnelli, uh, was one of the presenters along with Dudley Moore. And, um, I had said to John and Don Markowitz, who was the other co-writer of Time of My Life, you're sitting close to the aisle. I'm in the middle of the aisle. Wait for me, because they'll start the clock as soon as, as soon as you go up there. And we'll get beat for some time. But of course, in the heat of the moment, I was trying to get out and, you know, Donnie Markowitz and, and was up on stage and, and the clock started ticking. But, um, it was a surreal moment. Um, I had a gentleman that told me, uh, made the call for, for me to, uh, possibly write, uh, time of my life for the, for the movie. And he said, make time. This is going to change your life. So that was part of my speech, was thanking Jimmy Einer for Changing My Life. And I, I don't know, it was surreal. I I, I floated up there. I don't remember walking up there, you know, <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (00:10:41):

Well, I'm gonna just remind folks the other nominated songs that night, because one of them was the very first nomination for Diane Warren, who's now had 13, and she's still waiting for her Oscar next year, Diane. All right. So the other nominated songs that year were Cry Freedom From Cry Freedom. Right. And nothing's gonna Stop us Now. Diane's song from Mannequin, uh, from Beverly Hills Cop Two Shake Down. And let's see, was that a, uh, that was a Bob Seager song, right?

Franke Previte (00:11:08):

Correct. Correct.

Louise Palanker (00:11:09):

And then the, the storybook love, uh, from the Princess Bride.

John Denicola (00:11:12):

Yeah. That was a mink Deville Willie Deville. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:11:16):

Yeah. Yeah. So that was a triumphant night for you guys.

Franke Previte (00:11:21):

Beyond my,

John Denicola (00:11:23):

Go ahead, Frank.

Franke Previte (00:11:24):

No, I said just beyond my dream. So

John Denicola (00:11:27):

Yeah, what, what I remember, um, you know, first of all, going out to Hollywood, uh, it's a, you know, it's a, being from New York City, it's just a different vibe there. And, uh, it, it was kind of dreamlike. And, um, watching all the other songs, you know, they, they, they, uh, they do each song, right? Uh, there's a moment during the show where they do the song. And our song was not really a full blown production. It was kind of a small production cry. Freedom was chorus, walking through the aisles and people screaming and yelling. And, and ours was like this little thing. And I remember Frank and I, we look to each other, we go, gee, I don't know. It's kind of a <laugh>. I can't imagine that we are the winners if they have such this little tiny thing. But, but you know, the moment we were, we were, uh, called up as Frankie stated, um, by the time we got there, the clock was down a lot. And Frank, Frank being the pivot man for this through Jimmy Einer was the first to speak. And, and he did a lot of thank yous. And, and then Don Markowitz didn't, by the time I got up there, the clock was out

Franke Previte (00:12:46):

<laugh>. That's my big fear

John Denicola (00:12:49):

That that would happen to me. Yeah, well, it did happen. But, you know, I, uh, at the moment, my mom was in the hospital. Uh, she actually, it was a high and low period for me, cuz she passed away 30 days from that night. But, oh, she was able to see that. And that was my only thing that I said, I just wanted to dedicate it to my mom who's in the hospital. And, um, and then afterwards, uh, uh, the parties were sort of kind of low key to me, you know, coming from New York, and I know there was like, uh, it was just like a kind of a, you know, relaxed compared to what I expected. But I do have vivid memories of Burt Lancaster coming over and to our table saying, hi, Jack Nicholson coming over. It's your Knight fellas, it's your night

Franke Previte (00:13:38):

<laugh>. Come on, man. That's the best right

John Denicola (00:13:40):

There. And, and then, uh, who was, oh, and, um, John Candy, you know, so that was really for me, the, the highlights was meeting those guys and, and, uh, a bit of, uh, you know, John was just, John Candy was just so, um, real and regular and, and Burke, Lancaster, you know, being a hero of mine. Yeah. Those are my memories.

Louise Palanker (00:14:02):

What was the moment when you guys knew that your lives were changing forever? Does it come down to a moment?

Franke Previte (00:14:09):

I, I think mine started before that night because we were invited to a, uh, a dinner beforehand, or a luncheon. And Samuel Goldwin approached me and said, I have this movie called Mystic Pizza I'm working on, and I'd like you to write a song for it, and I'd like you to go speak to our musical director and maybe cut a deal with him now. And I just looked at and I said, I'll wait. No pressure. I'll wait until <inaudible>. You know? So, um, I kind of had this feeling of why is he approaching me now and maybe something good is gonna happen? So I just felt like, you know, I'm gonna wait to see what happens before I negotiate writing a my next song. So that, you know, that was kind of my vibe of what was going on and, you know, with meeting people.


And I think my, my best memory was meeting Patrick Fu and having a, a, a really good conversation with him and having him tell me how much the movie and how much the song time of my life meant to him and the cast, because they had listened to 149 songs up to that day before they were gonna film. And they actually rehearsed to a Lionel Richie's song that was a, you know, really good song, but not an original song. So they were kind of down on the movie like, eh, let's get this over with. And Emil Arduino, who was a director, walked in and said, one more cassette. We have one more cassette, the hundred and 50th cassette, let's listen to it. So they listened to it, and they all looked at each other and was, is this a great song or are we desperate? And somebody went both, you know, so basically he said, after filming, we all just looked at each other and went, what a great ending. Let's go make a movie. And he goes, they kind of saved the movie and the camaraderie we we had for the movie. Wow. So that, that was a very special moment. Yeah.

Fritz Coleman (00:16:20):

It, it was not easy because Eleanor Bergstein or Bergstein, the, the woman that wrote the movie had very specific ideas of what kind of music she wanted. She had picked out, selected singles from her past, and you had to duplicate those. Right. So she was pretty picky about the music that ended up in the movie

Franke Previte (00:16:39):

Until, yeah. Until Jimmy Heiner came in and took everything away and then kind of gave her back what she originally was asking for, minus a couple of songs. But John, what, what do you remember about that? Well,

John Denicola (00:16:50):

No, Eleanor, um, you're correct in that she, she had written all the, um, sixties and fifties hits into the s uh, into the script, uh, you know, the, the, uh, cry to me and, uh, uh, you know, all, all, all the, uh, big hits from the fifties and sixties that we all know that were, you know, do you love me? And, and the rest? And, um, she, she, it was Jimmy actually who, who said, well, in order to sell a soundtrack, we have to have some original songs, you know, cuz you can always get those, I mean, yeah, it's a, it's a certain, uh, compilation, but we need songs that we can go to radio to create hits, you know, the, these songs were already hits, the old ones, so we can't, so that, that's, that was what Jimmy brought to it. And, uh, you know, I don't think Eleanor objected to that. I I don't think she had it in her mind, oh shoot, we're gonna sell a soundtrack. I gotta get hit songs other than those old songs. So, but how

Louise Palanker (00:17:54):

Did you so perfectly capture the moment with your lyrics? It's not just that the melody is, it is just so stupendously outstanding, but the lyrics really captured that moment in the film. You were, hadn't been on the set. Had you read the screenplay? Like how much did you know before you wrote those lyrics?

Franke Previte (00:18:12):

Um, you know, when, when Jimmy called me, it basically gave me like a two minute description. Johnny meets baby, the father doesn't like the kid <laugh>. And so when, when I called John and, you know, Jimmy was like, you know, we, we've, we've, uh, listened to a lot of songs and, and I said, Jimmy, I don't have time. I'm trying to get another deal. You decided to go into film and you shut your label. And I said, I don't have time. He goes, make time. This is gonna change your life. And I'm like, yeah, right, you're gonna change my life. And so he goes, no, it's a good little movie. And so very little of a description. And, uh, so when I called John cuz uh, he was the first person I thought of to, to help me with this project, um, I gave him an idea of, you know, the good news is we got a chance to write a song.


The bad news is it's for the last scene and it has to be seven minutes long. So, you know, you gotta write MacArthur Park here, <laugh>, you know, writing a seven minute song is, is not the easiest thing in the world. So on the Garden State Parkway, exit one 40, I took that cassette that John sent me and I pushed it into my dashboard and I started jamming n and i of my life, of my life, scribbling. I had the time of my life on an envelope. And really the man upstairs wrote the lyrics cuz Patrick said to me, it was like, you were here watching us make this film, cuz those lyrics are incredibly close to what is going on in this movie. But that, that all was inspired by the music I was hearing that was sent from John. It all had to come together, all those parts to create the, the lyrics.

Louise Palanker (00:20:04):

Are you watching American Idol this season?

Franke Previte (00:20:07):

I don't ever watch that kind of

Louise Palanker (00:20:08):

Stuff. Okay. So there's a kid who's auditioning and he just keeps saying, I'm having the time of my life. And then they start playing the record. It's slow mo everything goes into slow motion

John Denicola (00:20:17):

<laugh>. Right. I heard, I heard about that. I actually missed that. But I heard about it. And the three judges, uh, Lionel Richie, isn't that funny? Frankie, Lionel Richie.

Louise Palanker (00:20:26):

Yeah. Full

John Denicola (00:20:27):

Circle Carrie. And, uh, I don't know who the third one is, but they started singing it. And then little and then a little later in the show they showed an a, a commercial and they played a time in my life for the show that was on Next. Yep. Which was, uh, vi I dunno, something in the movies. Uh, it was, uh, it was really good. I watched it. Derek Huff and his sister. Oh, okay. Um, did a, um, basically, uh, took all the old great dance movie scenes, um, you know, Fred Astair and what, you know, whoever, uh, Donald O'Connor, the famous, you know, um, couch thing that the couch going down and all that. And, uh, and they, the closing song was they finished the show with the time of my life and, and, uh Oh, wow. Kenny Ortega was on Frankie, did you see it?

Stacy Widelitz (00:21:17):

I did not.

John Denicola (00:21:18):

Oh, Kenny Ortega was on and, and he was, uh, he was kind of sweet. He started crying, tearing up about it, and it was, it was, um, it was kind, it was well done. The show was well done.

Fritz Coleman (00:21:29):

Okay. Stacy, I want to talk about Kenny Ortega because your connection to this film was more happenstance than the other two guys. Talk about meeting Kenny Ortega and Eleanor, the writer at a barbecue at Patrick Swayze's. And what grew out of that?

Stacy Widelitz (00:21:44):

Well, you know, we actually, um, already had, she's like the win written. We had, uh, we'd written it two years prior to the movie for a different movie called Grandview, u s A, uh, when I was at the, that barbecue, I remember, um, talking to Eleanor, uh, who was then, uh, demonstrating some of the dance moves that she pictured on Kenny. And that was pretty interesting because she was really grinding on him, <laugh>. And, uh, so it was, uh, it was, it was kind of funny. So everybody was, you know, incredibly nice. Um, and this was prior to the movie, you know, being shot or anything. And, uh, but, you know, the way the song my song came about was, as you mentioned, Patrick, whom I knew as buddy friends and family called him Buddy. Um, we met in his acting class and then discovered that we lived around the block from each other.


And he and his wife and I, and my then girlfriend, Wendy Fraser, who ended up singing on, she's Like The Wind, she's the, uh, woman that comes in toward the end. Uh, we all became friends and he knew I was writing music for television, mostly daytime at that point. And he called me up one day and said, I have this idea for a song. They're looking for songs for Grand View. Do you wanna work on it with me? And I said, yeah, sure. Coming over. So that evening he came around the block with his guitar and I was at my piano and he sang me the, um, he had two chords that he just played over and over again. Uh, but a lot of interesting listing, like what I call listing lyrics of, you know, going through things. And the first two lines intrigued me, which were, she's like the win through my tree.


She rides the night next to me, but then I didn't like the third and fourth lines. And he got a little defensive. And I, he said, well, what would you do? You know, what would you say? And I said, um, just off the top of my head, I said, she leads me through moonlight only to burn me with the sun. And, and so he said, what does that mean? And I said, I don't care. Just write it down <laugh>. And, um, cause we are craftsmen, we take our craft very seriously. So it was like, just write it down. And, um, then I moved it someplace musically in the, you know, feel her breath on my face. And then when we realized that she's like, the wind was more than just the opening line, that it was also the, um, the hook for the song. Uh, that's when we really had something.


And the smart thing that we did was we did a really good demo of it with him singing it, uh, Wendy on it. I brought in a guitarist. I programmed all the synth tracks. And, um, so even though it was dropped from Grandview, which turned out to be a blessing, um, two years later, he was on the set of dirty dancing in North Carolina and he played them the demo and they wanted it. And that's when he called me from, uh, North Carolina saying, they want it, they want it. And my reaction was, are you sure not? They're not just jerking you around because you're the star of the movie. And he said, no, no, they're serious. They want you to call, uh, this guy Jimmy Einer, um, who Frankie was talking about before. And so I got on the phone with, uh, Jimmy that night, and that's when it all started to solidify.

Fritz Coleman (00:25:13):

I I just wanna ask one further thing, Weezy, if I could, while we're on the topic, talking about demos, um, you know, bill Medley and Jennifer Warrens, uh, recorder, I've had the time of my life in the, this, I I think it's one of the most played records in American radio history mm-hmm. <affirmative> or some insane, uh, record there. But many folks, particularly people involved in the movie, thought that your demo of that song was even better than the final recording of it because it was truer to the emotion and less complicated. And so I bet that happens a lot where the demo is better than the produced version, but the, but, but the person that did the demo isn't famous enough to sell a single or something like that. I just bet that happens that it's soul crushing.

Franke Previte (00:26:03):

You know, I, I think that, um, having, having the Bill Medley same time in my life, obviously they filmed the movie to the demo. So they had, they had what I call Demo iis. They got so used to hearing that demo that, you know, and that moment happened for them with that demo that saved their movie. So, so, um, it became very, uh, protective of that demo. And then for me to have a Righteous Brother sing mm-hmm. <affirmative>, one of my songs, one of my heroes growing up, it was like an unbelievable moment for me. And, uh, you know, I I think the, the really, uh, the plus side of it was that it's not, the demo isn't much different than Bill Medleys version, except Bill just sang it down in Optum. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, because he was like, how am I gonna hit those high notes? He's a tenor. And they just said, lower the, you know, lower than Octa. So they kept it in the same key. And Bill Medley did his lower the Octa thing, and he was the thread, the 19 63 64 thread that connected that 1987 contemporary music back to the era of when that movie was depicted. And so it, it kind of made the connection of 1963 to 1987 with his voice. That's, that's how, wow.

Louise Palanker (00:27:33):

Yeah. Yeah.

Stacy Widelitz (00:27:34):

And if, if I can interject, uh, Patrick or Buddy or Patrick, um, repeatedly told me how much better the demo was. He said, you should have heard the original demo. The original demo was just great <laugh>. And so it's not like he was disappointed in the final version, but he was really a big fan of that demo.

Louise Palanker (00:27:55):

So you guys have plans for the demos, right.

Franke Previte (00:27:58):

Um, John and I and Donnie for the past 30 years have been selling the demo on, on Facebook, um, dirty Dancing demos, and we donate the proceeds, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in Patrick Swayze's Honor. So that's what we've been do. Oh, nice. The demo time of My Life, hung Eyes. And also a third song that's in the stage play called Someone Like You

Louise Palanker (00:28:25):

That you wrote

John Denicola (00:28:26):

All the proceeds go

Franke Previte (00:28:28):

Yes, go to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Louise Palanker (00:28:32):

Oh, that's wonderful. So are you guys ready to play some dirty dancing trivia

Stacy Widelitz (00:28:37):

<laugh>? Oh, sure.

Franke Previte (00:28:39):


Stacy Widelitz (00:28:39):


John Denicola (00:28:40):

I, I, uh, I wa I go around the house, uh, man, I drive my, my son who's not living with us anymore, but my, my my wife and son, when he's around, I drive them nuts with lines from the movie. I, whatever is whatever's happening at that day, at that moment, I somehow answer it with a dirty dancing line. So I

Louise Palanker (00:29:01):

Pretty good. So you're, you're a front runner here. Okay. Another place your bets. Place your bets. Uh, what did Eleanor Bergstein ordered the dancers not to do for at least six months after the end of filming?

Franke Previte (00:29:14):

Not to do

Louise Palanker (00:29:15):

Not to do, yeah. Wow. I know there was any way for her to enforce this, but these, this was her,

Stacy Widelitz (00:29:21):

Was it to not do any type of dirty dancing?

Louise Palanker (00:29:24):

Well, they, I guess on breaks they were really kind of doing a lot of engagement in a dry humping. Yeah. They were dry humping. Yeah. Dry humping to music.

Franke Previte (00:29:37):

Don't have

John Denicola (00:29:38):

A relationship with

Louise Palanker (00:29:39):

Each other. So she said, yes, exactly. You can't have sex for six months. So she wanted to create this kind of like, sexual tension

John Denicola (00:29:47):

Oh, before the movie? Yeah,

Louise Palanker (00:29:48):

Yeah. While, while they were filming. Yeah.

John Denicola (00:29:50):

Hey, that was a good idea. And that's so Eleanor <laugh> <laugh>,

Louise Palanker (00:29:55):

Like, she thinks she could police that Uhhuh <affirmative>. Uh, so, uh, all right. Next question. Had Patrick Swayze previously worked with Joel Gray?

Stacy Widelitz (00:30:05):

No. He'd worked with Jennifer Gray.

Louise Palanker (00:30:08):

Okay. He, yes. He worked with Jennifer Gray. What film Stacy

Stacy Widelitz (00:30:11):

Red Dawn.

Louise Palanker (00:30:12):

Good. Good. Good, good. Well, in 1975, Jennifer Gray's father Joel Gray, started a very short-lived Broadway musical. Good Time Char, about the son of Charlemagne. One of the ensemble dancers, according to the Playbill program for that show, was Patrick Swayze.

Stacy Widelitz (00:30:28):

Wow. Wow. That's good trivia.

Louise Palanker (00:30:30):

It's pretty good trivia. This is all, I, I called this from imdb. I, I recommend this website. It's very helpful. Had Patrick Swayze, uh, had Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Rhodes ever previously worked together,

John Denicola (00:30:48):

I'm gonna go with a No.

Louise Palanker (00:30:49):

You gonna go with No. Well, according to imdb, Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Rhodes previously worked together in the music video for Toto Song Rosanna.

John Denicola (00:30:58):

Oh, okay. Really? I might have heard that. I might have heard that.

Louise Palanker (00:31:01):

So that, that's findable with a YouTube search.

Stacy Widelitz (00:31:04):

Well, it's interesting cause when I've seen that video Yeah. I almost look at it as a precursor to Dirty Dancing, dude, because the, yeah, the, the dancing, the style of the dancing is so similar.

John Denicola (00:31:16):

You don't have to,

Stacy Widelitz (00:31:18):

I don't know. I don't, I don't know. But, but it really is the way the guys are dressed in black t-shirts and kind of the eighties hair. Yeah. Whenever I see that video, it's, it's, it's like IOUs. Oh, okay. I see a stylistic through line here.

Louise Palanker (00:31:34):

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Okay. Uh, this one, I think you guys are gonna know, what is Baby's real name?

Stacy Widelitz (00:31:40):

Jennifer Gray. Jennifer. No, no.

Louise Palanker (00:31:43):

I have to give you that.

Stacy Widelitz (00:31:44):


John Denicola (00:31:45):

Francis Elman Francis. Yes.

Louise Palanker (00:31:47):

Frankie Francis

John Denicola (00:31:48):

Named after the, she wanted to say named after the first, uh, first Lady, which is Eleanor, but Eleanor's sister's name was Francis.

Louise Palanker (00:31:57):

Right. So she's named after the first woman in the cabinet. Right. Francis c Perkins was the US Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1947, was appointed by President FDR during his first term and served throughout all four of his terms and two years into Harry Truman's presidency. So you guys have done pretty well with, uh, dirty Dancing trivia. Is there any other trivia that we should know that you guys know that's more like music-based trivia?

Stacy Widelitz (00:32:24):

Yeah. The fact that, you know, like I mentioned, Wendy was, uh, on the final version as well and did a, a, a great job on it. Uh, just on a, uh, personal note, she and I, after eight years together, split up three weeks before the single was released of She's Like The Wind. Oh

Louise Palanker (00:32:42):

My God.

Stacy Widelitz (00:32:43):

So, so, uh, there was actually a moment that I had where she and I were yelling at each other a few months later over the phone, and she's like, the wind came on the radio and my neighbor's apartment <laugh>. Oh my God. So she and I are yelling at each other, and I'm counting down the bars till she starts singing. And finally I said, I have to hang up now. And so she said, why? And I said, because my life has become a B movie, and I've provided my own underscore <laugh>. And then I,

Louise Palanker (00:33:16):

That was in the moment you were able to deliver that line.

Stacy Widelitz (00:33:19):

Yes. It's,

Louise Palanker (00:33:20):

That's heroic. That that is heroic. But she actually turned out to be like the wind, which is like blowing my mind.

Stacy Widelitz (00:33:28):

Yeah, yeah. But, but she was a, a phenomenal singer. And she's also his a bit of trivia the music video for, she's Like, the Wind was directed by David Fincher, who then became Oh wow. A successful, uh, director. And he projected scenes of the film onto a moving curtain and shot it that way in black and white. And then toward the end, when Wendy starts singing, she actually does appear in the video,

Louise Palanker (00:33:55):

I would like to hear a little backstory of a 24 year old writing the theme song for Richard Simmons <laugh>. I I, cause I don't, I don't picture it where you just drop it off and they're like, thanks. I picture there being some kind of feedback from Mr. Simmons.

Stacy Widelitz (00:34:12):

Well, yes. Matter of fact, there was, um, what happened was, I was still living in New York at the time, and Wendy and I were living together. Uh, and, um, I was writing music for a studio in Stanford, Connecticut for industrial shows, educational projects, and all this, I'd started composing and getting paid for it when I was 19. Wow. So, um, I'd been playing clubs since I was 15. But anyway, so, um, Wendy's father, Woody Fraser, who's very famous producer, uh, produced the Richard Simmons Show. And he and I met in New York. He was visiting Wendy, and we got along really well. And he heard music of mine that I was writing for this studio. And he says, you know, this stuff is really, really good. And so Wendy called him and he says, is there anything that Stacy can submit on that you're doing? And he said, well, I've got this new show, why don't the two of you work on it?


Um, see if you can come up with a theme for it. But here's the deal. I'm not giving it to you. I have to like it. My wife, Nora has to like, it, it was co-producing the, uh, syndicator has to like it, which was, I believe it was K T L A where we were shooting it, where they'd shot it. And then, uh, the star has to like it. And so if you can fulfill all four of those conditions, then you get it. And so, Wendy and I, I came up with an initial idea, and she had a couple of things to add. And we did a, um, we called him, uh, Woody, and played it for him over the phone with me at the piano. And Wendy doing, do, do, do, do. And, um, there was this pause when we finished, you know, it was 32nd theme.


And he just said, wow, that's really good. And then he said, Nora, get over here. And so we played it for Nora and she said, wow, that's really good. So we had two. And then he said, make a cassette and send it immediately to see if you can overnight it. And we did. And then he called us, you know, a couple of days later, he says, Richard loves it and the syndicate loves it. We booked you on a flight to la uh, for next week, uh, we're putting together six, uh, uh, of the best session musicians in town, and you'll cut the theme at Paramount Studios. Oh my gosh. So, wow. So pretty crazy. And then when the show

Fritz Coleman (00:36:38):

Became 24 years old.

Stacy Widelitz (00:36:40):

Yeah, 24. But again, I'd been working at it for five years already. And when the show became a hit unexpectedly, that was when Wendy and I a year later realized we needed to move to la And that's, that's when we did. And that's when I started watching Fritz Coleman Do, do My Weather

Fritz Coleman (00:36:57):

<laugh>. And your life got better instantly. <laugh>. Now let me ask you a que, let me ask you a question, um, Stacy, and it's a personal question and you can just tell me to buzz off. But when you write a and I, I, I'm, this is the Paul Anka question, cuz I asked him the same thing about writing the theme for the Johnny Carson Show. When you write a theme for a music, uh, for a, uh, a television show, uh, did does your participation in royalties continue in perpetuity until the show's over? Or do you get bought off in the beginning? I'm just fascinated by the money aspect of that.

Stacy Widelitz (00:37:30):

I, I never did a buyout. I knew the business well enough, uh, and I had a great deal of, um, perhaps, um, unnecessary value in what I brought to the table. So, uh, I mean, I had a, a big view of that. So I never did a buyout. And, uh, to this day on my, I'm with B M I, so on my B M I royalty statements, 40 something years later, I still see the Richard Simmons Show theme turn up.

Fritz Coleman (00:37:59):

Alright, you, you brought up bmi. I wanna bring up a, uh, bring up ascap and sitting behind Frankie is the ASCAP Award. Now you've had an Oscar, you, you've had Grammy nominations, you had a Golden Globe. But, but for a songwriter, the ASCAP Award has special significance. Frankie talk about that because that, that's being accepted by your peers and it means something more historic. Talk about it.

Franke Previte (00:38:24):

Well, ASCAP is really, um, a company like bmi, they're an administrator of finding out how many people in the world are playing your song and collecting a royalty for, and they take an admin fee, an administration fee for doing it. So, um, that year, uh, time of My Life, one, the Ascat Song of the Year means the most played song in the world. And I think it sits in the, um, the ASCAP sent me this email saying, here's the top 20 songs ever. And, uh, so number one was Happy Birthday <laugh>. Number five was my Girl, and number 15 was Time of My Life. Most songs, oh my God,

John Denicola (00:39:10):


Stacy Widelitz (00:39:11):

African. I won, uh, BMI Awards, uh, as well. We got, uh, one set of awards as, uh, for, um, their film and TV awards Night for Most played song from a film or TV show. And then, uh, the next night we won, uh, pop award, uh, so which was, which was great. And he came to that one. He didn't go to the film and TV one, but he came with me to the Pop awards and that was a great evening.

Franke Previte (00:39:37):

Oh, yeah. What were you gonna say, John?

John Denicola (00:39:40):

Oh, I was just gonna say Hungry Eyes, uh, was number two that year. It was, so, it was Time in My Life and Hungry Eyes. Wow. Most played songs for ASCAP that year.

Franke Previte (00:39:50):

Wow. And, and

Fritz Coleman (00:39:51):

I, I'm, I'm curious, um, even though Stacy you had been writing television themes, this was the first time you guys had songs in Emotion picture. Talk about seeing the movie for the first time with an audience and what that was like,

Franke Previte (00:40:09):

Hey, John.

John Denicola (00:40:11):

Uh, well, you know, um, we had seen, um, uh, uh, a kind of a preview before they edit it down. Um, that's the first time I saw it on the big screen. I think it was the Zigfield Theater. And, um, you know, it wasn't, it wasn't the public, it was, uh, people involved in the movie and whatever pre, you know, right. It was bef pre-release and it was, um, uh, it was a lot hotter. It was a definitely an R-rated what we saw. Oh. And, um, and, you know, it was good, but it wasn't like, you know, the, it was, you know, a little bit, uh, long and a little bit, I don't know. And then, um, the next time I saw it was when it was taken off and it was up up. I remember my apartment on 84th on Broadway. I was the theater over there and it was jammed.


And, um, uh, that was the first time I saw, you know, it in its, uh, new edit, the final edit, which was PG 13. And it was, uh, unbelievable. It was an unbelievable moment. Um, uh, goosebumps when I think about it. Uh, one, one thing I noted was at the end of of it, you know, first of all, everybody seemed to be loving it. And at the end of it, there, there were a lot of people, and certainly the people in front of me were sitting there waiting and waiting and waiting for the credits. And then I saw the them go, oh, they're, they're at the time of my life. That's it. The time of my life. So I knew then there, you know, people were digging the song. So, you know,

Louise Palanker (00:41:43):

And it's not a movie that, it's not a movie that people saw once, this is before you could record anything. People went over and over again. Is that what you guys were finding

Franke Previte (00:41:53):

There? There's a club called The Thousand Club of People that have seen it a thousand times. But Stacy, when was the first time you thought,

Stacy Widelitz (00:42:02):

I, first time I saw was at the cast and cruise screening in la Ah. Uh, which went,

John Denicola (00:42:07):

It was edited though, at that point.

Stacy Widelitz (00:42:09):

It was edited, it was fully edited. Okay. But the, the word on the street, really, this is why I was not very excited about having the song in the movie. Really, the word on the street had been, this is a terrible movie. It's going to go straight to video after opening the theater. Uh, it'll be in the theater for a week. And because it was restaurant pictures, which only did videos up until that point, the plan was it's going to go to video. And so I remember Wendy and I walking out of the theater and we turned to each other and said, you know, that was actually pretty good. That was nearly as bad as everybody was saying. It was,

Franke Previte (00:42:46):

You know what's kind of funny is that restaurant, uh, also as a company that did porn movies? Yeah. So, you know, when, when Jimmy, you know, first said to me, uh, I said, what's the name of the movie? And he said, uh, dirty Dancing. I was like, oh no, it's doing a porn <laugh>. Yeah. So, you know, thinking all, all of this, and then I'm not, I was also, I had heard it was gonna come out and go right to VHS in about a week. Yeah. Within that 300,000 people back ordered the record. And by the time RCA could print a record, a million records were backordered. So Joe Public made Dirty Dance and Happen. It wasn't festival films, it wasn't RCA Records, it was Joe Public. Yeah.

Stacy Widelitz (00:43:38):


Fritz Coleman (00:43:38):

There was, and Frankie, the, the, the story, uh, you, you brought it up how quickly they printed the records. Also, you guys were supposed to get a gold record for selling 500,000 copies and somebody wasn't getting their gold record in time. And you called an that's about it and said, because it just went platinum. We gotta redo

Stacy Widelitz (00:43:56):

It. That, that, that happened. Michael Lloyd, who produced both time in my life, and she's like, the win, um, he called me, uh, and said, uh, oh, you're getting a gold record. And I really wasn't in the record business. I was in the film and TV business and, and writing music. So I was thrilled. I was like, oh boy, a gold record. This is fantastic. And then, you know, like maybe a week and a half, two weeks went by and I didn't get it, and I didn't really know how it worked. So I called Michael and I said, you know, when do I get the gold record? And he said, well, you're not getting a gold record. And so I was like, why You told me I'm getting a a gold record? He says, well, because now you're getting a platinum record.

Louise Palanker (00:44:36):

And Patrick brought it over. Right.

Stacy Widelitz (00:44:39):

Patrick brought it, by the time we finally did get our, uh, records there were triple platinum. And, um, both of mine and Patrick's went to his house, um, Rancho Bazaro, north of the city, <laugh>. And, and, um, so he called me and he said, I have your record. Are you gonna be home tomorrow? And obviously he knew where I live because he used to live around the block and a lot of people in the neighborhood still knew him. So the next late morning I hear this commotion outside and this honking and this yelling, and I go out and there's a stretched limo coming down my block where my apartment was. And he's standing up out of the moon roof holding my record up over his head and he's yelling, I want everybody on Orange Street to know that your neighbors Stacy Ws is getting a triple platinum record for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. And I'm just standing there, you know, stunned. But it, it, it speaks to the type of person that he was also, that he was a very, very generous and also very funny soul. I mean, it was, it just amused him no end to, to do that.

Franke Previte (00:45:50):

Oh, that's perfect. And if you turn, if you look behind Stacy, they sent him another one of those platinum records, except this time it was

Stacy Widelitz (00:45:58):

10,000,011. Oh my God.

Franke Previte (00:46:00):


Stacy Widelitz (00:46:02):

Yeah. Don't, don't undersell it. It's 11 <laugh>. But

Franke Previte (00:46:06):

It ended up selling over 40 million.

Louise Palanker (00:46:08):

So do you guys, do people keep now keep track of Spotify streams or what do people keep track of now? Uh,

Stacy Widelitz (00:46:15):

Yes. That

Louise Palanker (00:46:17):

You guys are all, uh, uh, aggravated. Okay. I wanna hear more

Stacy Widelitz (00:46:20):

<laugh>. Well, it's Spotify, it's tracked by B M I in performing rights associations. Um, I also have, uh, company called OM that, uh, tracks, uh, YouTube performances and sends me a, a check a month for that. But it's, Spotify is, you know, it's criminal that it's an incredibly wealthy company with incredibly wealthy executives that pays a pittance to the people that allowed

Franke Previte (00:46:53):

Zero seven of a penny.

John Denicola (00:46:55):

No, no, no, no, no, no. Thousandth 0.0002 words.

Fritz Coleman (00:47:01):

And one of you guys recommends that if you wanna support an artist, it's important for you not just to stream their song on Spotify, but go out and buy the record. That's how you support the artist.

Franke Previte (00:47:14):

There you go. There you go. Great.

Stacy Widelitz (00:47:15):

Even if, even if you buy the single on, uh, apple mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, that's better because at least they're getting, you know, the mechanical royalty. So it, it's, it's, that's a better one. And I, I try to do that myself, and I actually, uh, took Spotify outta my computer. Ok. If I'm gonna stream, if I'm gonna stream something, I'll stream it on Apple or, or even maybe on Amazon, which also pays better than Spotify.

John Denicola (00:47:41):

I, I often, uh, quote this number, I, i, it, it changes quarter to quarter, but almost every time I look, uh, I'll have about 13 million streams in three months. Right. 13 million streams. Yeah,

Louise Palanker (00:47:57):

That makes

John Denicola (00:47:57):

Sense. In 8 million streams, you know, up and down, and I'll get like $500.

Fritz Coleman (00:48:04):

Oh my God. Holy cow. That's just wrong.

John Denicola (00:48:06):

Oh, if, if a, a band, a new band coming out that probably very excited to get 200,000 streams, that would be awesome. Right. You know, you're talking like a dollar or two.

Louise Palanker (00:48:17):

It's interesting that, that there's no money in it. But is, is the data interesting to you in that when people bought a record, you didn't know how often they played it, but now you, you can quantify how often someone is playing a piece of music. Is that at all interesting? Or you're just so outraged by the revenue?

John Denicola (00:48:34):

Well, I guess that's one way to look at it, but, uh, yeah. Don't do the writer any good. Right. Right. Really what, you know, who cares. You know, you,

Stacy Widelitz (00:48:44):

You can't eat data mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. Put it that way.

Louise Palanker (00:48:49):

I love that. Stacy, can we put that on T-shirt?

Stacy Widelitz (00:48:51):

Yes. <laugh>,

Fritz Coleman (00:48:52):

John, John, you had an interesting comment, which sort of speaks to the magic of, uh, dirty Dancing. And that is that a hit song drives the movie and the movie drives the song. So it, it was the miracle of those two working in tandem were

John Denicola (00:49:10):

Dirty. I would say that I'd reverse that, but yes, the, the movie first at first was what everybody was responding to, then the song sort of took over and it would drive people to the theater.

Fritz Coleman (00:49:23):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Louise Palanker (00:49:24):

Right. And then, and the song also evokes those feelings of Right. Uh, watching the film and how, how happy it made you and how much it resonated with you. And so it's just becomes kind of all wrapped together in this quilt. It's just warm and wonderful.

Franke Previte (00:49:39):

It's the culmination of all the parts, you know, creating a phenomenon you take out Patrick Swayze or Jennifer or the song or, or the little, you know, story of, of, uh, our, you know, Jennifer and, and Bill Medley singing all those parts, you know, created this phenomenon. And I think if you pull out one of those parts, the song or Patrick, you don't have the same end result.

Louise Palanker (00:50:03):

Can you talk a little bit about that collaboration between Bill and Jennifer when they, when they recorded your song?

Franke Previte (00:50:10):

Well, I think that Bill didn't wanna sing another duet. He, he had to be talked into, you know, coming out to California or going to New York, wherever he was. He was having a child, his wife was having a child, and he really didn't want anything to do with singing another duet or this particular song for the movie. And I think it took several, several tries. I think Kenny Ortega was a, a close friend with, uh, with Bill. And, um, he, but he always wanted to kind of sing with Jennifer, uh, Warren. And so they figured, well, let me see if Jennifer Warren wants to do it, and maybe that'll sway him. And I guess eventually they had the child and Jennifer Warren was, you know, gonna sing on the song and it kind of gwartz him to, you know, come out. And then, like I said, he, he listened to the song and he goes, how the hell am I gonna sing this song? Listen to that guy's voice. You know, he, he's the way the hell up there. I can't hit those notes. Yeah. And so

John Denicola (00:51:12):

You sent me, you sent me that thing the other day of, of Bill Medley talking about it. He said exactly the same thing you did. Oh, no. It's a porn movie. Dirty Dancing. It's a porn. <laugh> said exactly that same thing.

Louise Palanker (00:51:25):

Talk about what you're doing with, uh, with, we Will Yacht You and, uh, some of, some upcoming plans for all, all three of you guys would be great to hear.

Franke Previte (00:51:34):

Well, the we will, uh, yacht You thing is really, um, Ken, uh, Ken Franklin, who actually is an agent that booked us on your show. And, uh, he's putting together kind of a, uh, yacht rock concerts and yacht Rock is kind of all eighties music. And there's actually bands called Yacht Rock, and there's, uh, channels, uh, on radio called Yacht Rock. And so he called me up and, and he had, uh, a disc jockey from iHeart Radio out in, uh, Dayton, Ohio called me. And, uh, his name was, uh, Jeff, Jeff Stone and, uh, Jeff Stevens. And Jeff said, listen, I'm a big Frankie the Knockouts fan, and, and I would love to record your song, sweetheart. And I said, go ahead, man. Go, go record it. Have fun. He goes, no, no, I want you to sing on it with me. And so I did. So, and on Valentine's Day, we released Sweetheart and, uh, it debuted number 64 on the AC charts.


And so Jeff said, why don't you come out? I'm gonna have Bill Chaplin from Chicago keyboard player who wrote, you know, hard habits of Break in all these great songs. I'm gonna have him come out and you and my band Stranger, his band was called Stranger Is Called Stranger, and Let's Do a concert. And so I did that on Valentine's Day, and then they rebooked us to come out this summer in August to redo another yacht rock show with Bill Hampton and myself and, and Stranger. So, you know, it's kind of a thing that Ken Franklin's putting together and I'm just going along for the ride, you know, keeping my, and

Fritz Coleman (00:53:15):

And Frank, you, you, you also, uh, produce shows like Taylor Simon and King, which is about James Taylor, Crowley Simon, and Carol King. And how does that work, and is that still an active process for you?

Franke Previte (00:53:27):

It is. We just sold out for the third time the Count Bases Vocal Theater in Redbank, New Jersey show played, um, a week ago Saturday. And, uh, it's a celebration of three American troubadours, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Carroll King, and, um, one of the lead singers is my wife Sherman, who is a former Raquette and, uh, oh wow. She had a, um, she was in several Broadway shows, uh, west Side and a lot of other shows, and she had her own TV show in New Zealand for nine years. And so Lisa's one of the singers, um, with, all along with Mary McCrank, who is kind of like an Irish post singer. She takes these songs and really does her own thing to a lot of Carol King songs. And then, uh, Byron, uh, Crawford Smith is the gentleman who does a lot of the James Taylor stuff. And it's such an interesting feeling being in a room, watching people of our age sing along with every song, and it's kind of like, uh, the soundtrack of their lives, you know?


Mm-hmm. <affirmative> listening to all of these, like, unbelievable songs. It's a tene band, so there's like, it's a little, a mini orchestra, and sometimes it breaks down to just like a violin and an acoustic guitar and a voice, and then pieces come in and out. We orchestrated it. So it has this dynamic, uh, kind of feeling to take the audience and there's like videos of different moments in, in, uh, Carly's life with James and, and different things with Carol King and James Taylor, and have the three of their lives connected. And it's, um, it's a show that I, I really am passionate about now, and, you know, helping my wife, you know, it is kind of neat to be able to do that as well. Oh

Louise Palanker (00:55:20):

Gosh. Yeah. Really cool. And what are, what are you up to next? Oh, go ahead. Fritzi. You have a question?

Fritz Coleman (00:55:26):

I, I, no, I just wanted to say, um, that John, you have your own indie label and, and talk about who rec records with you.

John Denicola (00:55:35):

Well, um, uh, if you remember, uh, Moby Grape <laugh>, yeah. From his sixties. Okay. Peter Lewis. I've done a couple of records with Peter. Peter is Loretta Young's son. Wow. Wow. We're going back ways, but, uh, <laugh>. But in fact, I'm working on some stuff with Peter at the moment for our sec, his second record, and the first record was his songs, and now we're writing some songs together for his next record and his daughter Arwin. Um, we did a record, that was the first record we did actually. Um, we did 12 Moby Grape songs with, uh, Arwin singing. So a female perspective on Moby Grape songs. Peop some people may not know Moby Grape was very influential sixties, uh, San Francisco sixties band, but

Fritz Coleman (00:56:25):

They boomers know who they are. Yeah,

Franke Previte (00:56:28):

Absolutely. Oh yeah,

John Denicola (00:56:29):

They do or they don't, you think they they

Fritz Coleman (00:56:31):

Do. They they do, absolutely.

John Denicola (00:56:32):

Yeah. Well, they, they're sort of the unsung heroes, you know, they're, they've, you'll, you'll talk to Robert Plant is one of the biggest movie. Grape is one of his biggest influences. Little Steven, huge influence on him. So they're all, you know, Beck Beck has also been very influenced. So, uh, that's, that's them. And, uh, the band that, that I worked with years ago called The Size, they were in the nineties around the time of, um, um, like mid nineties. But they were always a power pop ba so they kind of struggled against the Nirvana, you know, um, type, you know, Nirvana, um, grunge, grunge thing. Uh, who's the fan I'm thinking of also grunge at the same time. So they suffered then. But, uh, 20 years later, we did a, a new record here in the barn. Uh, I have a barn upstate New York. And, uh, so we did that record.


And then, uh, for some unknown reason, actually, I know the reason, there was another song Frankie and I wrote called, you're The Only One that was in a, a movie, uh, by, uh, Sylvester Stallone, uh, which was entitled, uh, avenging Angelo. And, uh, we had the song in the movie, uh, a guy named Steve Holley sang it, but it was never released, uh, to the public just in the movie. It was in the movie. It was never came out as a song. So I, I, in my studio decided to start tracking that song in hopes of getting somebody else to cover it, cuz I thought it was a great song and I had it in my mind a certain way. And when it came time to put a vocal on it, um, I just tried my own voice on it and people responded well to it.


So that turned into the why, because, which was songs that I had written four other people, uh, four of them with, you know, with Frankie for other artists. And, uh, I did that. And, um, and then in fact, uh, you talked about, uh, maroon five, the bass player from Maroon five played bass on, on a song that I had written with John Wait. And, um, uh, Keith Reed from, uh, PROCO Harem. And, and then, uh, during the wow, then during the, um, pandemic, I, I came out every day to the Barn and I just followed that record with a new record called She Said, and it's, uh, all new songs I had written from me, which is the first time I'd ever done that, written songs for me. Wow. So, um, that's out now. I just put that out in November and, um, just, um, putting the songs out, it,

Franke Previte (00:59:07):

It's, it's really worth checking out because, you know, there's this other side of John that nobody knew and I don't think he even knew, you know, and he got introduced to himself, <laugh> doing <laugh>. I

Fritz Coleman (00:59:18):

Love that. We're a great line.

John Denicola (00:59:19):

It is kind of true. I mean, uh, I, I never, I, that was the reason, really the second record. I, I wanted to do the first record revealed something, but again, those were songs written for others. It it did, it did give me a voice. The second record told me who I was as an artist, which, which, uh, I kind of, that's very interesting. I'm kind of happy with it,

Fritz Coleman (00:59:42):

Which is Stacy, uh, I, you've had a great career and you, I I are, are you still the chairman of the, uh, Nashville, um, uh, opera Association? Well,

Stacy Widelitz (00:59:53):

I'm, um, past, well, I'm past president of National Film Festival, past president of Grammy nominated Alias Chamber Ensemble, past president of leadership music, past president of National Opera, and I'm the current president of the Nashville Opera Guild. Wow. And then, as you mentioned, I served four years as commissioner in Oak Hill, two of those years as Vice

Fritz Coleman (01:00:16):

Maker. Well, that's what I was gonna say. You seem way too cool to be a politician. That, that just shocked me when I

Stacy Widelitz (01:00:20):

Read about this. Well, four, four years was enough. It was, it was, uh, it, it was, although total of, I also served on the planning commission, which was historic when they asked me to join the planning commission. I said, I'm a college dropout, composer and songwriter. I know nothing about stormwater runoff, <laugh>. That's put me on there. I'm

Fritz Coleman (01:00:40):

An achiever. Makes good. I support that from <laugh>. I learned,

Stacy Widelitz (01:00:42):

I learned a lot, but it's, um, but yeah, my, my new thing is, um, a little bit of an unexpected journey in that, uh, in 2015 I went to Italy for a songwriter workshop and I bought a new camera and I started taking black and white photos of people in street photography. And, um, it became a thing and I just actually won my fourth international award for my photography. And, uh,

Fritz Coleman (01:01:10):

Can you see your work online?

Stacy Widelitz (01:01:11):

Yeah. If they go to stacy or Stacy Wlis on Instagram. It's all, I use Instagram only for my work. Uh, and it's, it's really fun. I'm getting another show, a second, uh, show of my photography at a great new gallery here called Prima Cigna Gallery that handles helmet, Newton and slim errands and, and me. So it's, uh, it's, it's quite a, quite an honor. And again, totally unexpected. Just really fun.

Fritz Coleman (01:01:39):

Now you have to turn individual pictures into NFTs and become a billionaire in like seven days.

Stacy Widelitz (01:01:46):

Yeah. You know, I, I just actually heard a whole thing on NPR about nft.

Fritz Coleman (01:01:50):

I still don't understand it. I just said that cuz I heard it in a conversation. They're

Stacy Widelitz (01:01:53):

Kinda imploding on themselves, you know? Oh,

Fritz Coleman (01:01:55):

Really? Oh, is that true

Stacy Widelitz (01:01:57):

Man? First,

Louise Palanker (01:01:58):

Explain what they are and then explained why the implosion?

Stacy Widelitz (01:02:01):

Well, the NFT is really not anything physical. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's a, a file that you can claim ownership to after having bought it. And it's just like this digital presence, um, that you say, well, I own this, but it doesn't mean that an actual picture that's hanging or a piece of music or it's, it's a digital file. And when it first started, I think there was this, um, and it's all related to blockchain and all the stuff

Fritz Coleman (01:02:31):

You said it explodes was,

Stacy Widelitz (01:02:33):

It's, it's, um, you know, became like the, the thing of the moment when it first appeared because there was one guy that suddenly made 7 million. Okay. Uh, you know, an artist from an N F T. And because everybody started jumping on it, now people are saying, yeah, I sold this piece as an N F T well, you know, for a hundred dollars. So it's, uh, it's, it's, it's really, it's, it's not like there, it's something that's bought by the appreciator of a work of art. You are buying a, a digital file of some sort. So it's not like you're buying a Dega because you love Dega, but, and you're putting your house, it's a

Fritz Coleman (01:03:14):

Scam. It's like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is hypothetical money. It's not money. I, I tell people that Bitcoin is like my sex life. It only exists online

Stacy Widelitz (01:03:24):

<laugh>. So,

Louise Palanker (01:03:25):

But if, when you're describing an N F T, what I'm picturing is that the, the, there's two factors at play here. Pride of ownership and also an an investment potential, right? Yeah. So in the art, art world, people connoisseurs of fine art, love to show everybody their wonderful taste. So is is that, is it, is it playing on those yearnings or

Stacy Widelitz (01:03:46):

It similar, but you can't even point at it on your wall? As I was saying, you point

Fritz Coleman (01:03:51):

In computer though. Yeah,

Stacy Widelitz (01:03:53):

Yeah. Point, point at it on the computer. But, uh,

Louise Palanker (01:03:57):

But it's kind of unsustainable in that I think art is meant to sort of exist in, in our physical spaces, right?

Stacy Widelitz (01:04:03):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, that's, that's my feeling, you know, that that's a little bit old school, but that's my feeling. But, uh, but music exists in digital spaces of

Louise Palanker (01:04:13):

Course, but it, but it, it goes from the digital space into, into our very beings, into our cellular,

Fritz Coleman (01:04:20):

You're your ears.

Louise Palanker (01:04:20):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yes. And it just changes the way you feel. And I guess art is meant to do that as well. All right. It's complic complicated conversation. Yes. So

Fritz Coleman (01:04:29):

I knew this hour was gonna go way too fast.

Louise Palanker (01:04:31):

Yeah. Tell us where we can find each of you online and, and, and then we'll include all of those links in our show notes. So go ahead Stacy.

Stacy Widelitz (01:04:41):

Yeah, yeah. For me, my website, uh, is stacy You'll see the homepage is a black and white photo from 1989 of me, Patrick and Gloria Stefan <laugh>, the night that we won, the night that we won our B m I pop awards. Oh. Uh, and then on Instagram to see my, you can see photography on the website, but I keep my Instagram updated. Um, and that's just at Stacy Weitz all is one word. And it's, um, you know, like I, I have a photo there now that I took in Memphis a week and a half ago, or two weeks ago,

Louise Palanker (01:05:21):

So, oh, okay. Wonderful. So it's kept current. And Frankie,

Franke Previte (01:05:25):

Um, you know, basically, uh, for me, uh, when people ask me where you can find me, I go to, you know, the, uh, dirty dancing demos cuz I wanna kind of push that charity mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So on Facebook, dirty Dancing demos, you can own a piece of, uh, dirty Dancing history if you're a fan. And you can see all the things that I post about different, uh, films and little segments of, in fact, somebody recently sent me about a minute clip of the actual day they filmed, uh, the last scene with John and my Donnie's demo playing Time of my life in the background. So that's on

Fritz Coleman (01:06:05):

<laugh>. That's great.

Franke Previte (01:06:06):

So you can go listen to that and, and while you're there, you can purchase, uh, you know, the, all the original demos that, um, go to pancreatic cancer. And then the other thing is, uh, taylor simon that's, uh, the show that I'm producing, and you can see all about that show. And there's some EPKs electronic press kits and you can see little bits about that show. Um, there. And that's really my life. <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (01:06:32):


Fritz Coleman (01:06:33):

That's awesome.

Louise Palanker (01:06:34):

John? John?

John Denicola (01:06:35):

Yeah. Uh, o Omad records, O m a D, which comes from Ordinary Madness, Charles bukowski o madd <laugh> ahmad, uh, or john And, and, uh, OMAD of, of course is, uh, all the, the artists on, on my label and, uh, john will tell you about me. All

Franke Previte (01:06:58):

Right. Go check out how it's really worth listening to. Yeah,

Louise Palanker (01:07:02):

Absolutely. Version.

John Denicola (01:07:03):

Yeah. And, and you know, the video version, uh, on YouTube, um, is a, is there's a video version where I, uh, during the height of the pandemic, I had people just put a mask on and film themselves with their, uh, phone. And there's a a upon a bunch of edits, uh, edits of that, of people with their

Franke Previte (01:07:24):

Expression, with your eyes speaking with your eyes, right? Yes.

Louise Palanker (01:07:27):

Very cool. Absolutely. All right.

Fritz Coleman (01:07:29):

Well, we, we had some great memories, uh, today from, I, I knew that an hour just wasn't gonna be enough, and we're so thankful that we got to visit with Frankie Prett, John Dina, and Stacy Wide Letz, and congratulate them on their really miraculous accomplishment with the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Just a great conversation, guys. We appreciate you so much.

Louise Palanker (01:07:51):

We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod, and on Facebook where our show page is, media Path Podcast. And our Facebook group is Media Path with Fritz and Weezy podcast community. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We would love to know what media you have been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email We wanna thank our guest Frankie Pret, John Dean Nicola, Stacy Wide Letz. Our team includes St. Friedman, Francesco Dam Demanda, John Madox, Sharon Beo, bill Philiac, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Madox. I am Luis Lanker here with Fritz Coleman, and we will see you along the media path.

Fritz Coleman (01:08:37):

Great guys, that was awesome.

Speaker 7 (01:08:40):

Thank you so much. Yeah. Fun.

John Denicola (01:08:44):

I always learned something new. I didn't know you went with Eleanor back then.

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