Lord knows the 34th annual Front Page Follies show had plenty of raw material this year.
The annual spoof of news makers produced and performed by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (and friends) is a series of songs and skits a la the Capitol Steps or the Gridiron Show in Washington, D.C. It raises money for journalism scholarships and was held this past weekend at the Knoxville Convention Center.
The talent in the show was as good as I’ve ever seen it — and I’ve seen it for 32 years. But the show-stopper was real-life News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett playing themselves in a re-worked version of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” (You know, the potato/po-tah-to song.)
You know the tune. Here are the new words:
McElroy: You say “subpoena” and I say “you schem’a!” Burchett: You say “disclosure” and I say “Who told ya?” Both: Subpoena! You schem’a! Disclosure! Who told ya? Let’s sort it out in court!
It was pretty darn funny. And the two ended with Burchett extending his hand to McElroy for a shake and McElroy responding with a trademark Burchett fist bump. I was impressed with what good sports the two were to participate and the audience acknowledged them with thunderous applause. (Of course, the following day’s News Sentinel featured a streamer headline blasting Burchett with yet another financial disclosure allegation, so the detente was brief.)
There were plenty of other great skits:
- Attorney Anne McKinney playing Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and singing “I Am Mayor” to the Helen Reddy classic “I Am Woman.”
- A series of skits called “The High Court,” which the TV anchors for the evening introduced with the remark that the term “sober as a judge” used to mean something. One song, “The Age of Nefarious,” which was performed by the cast dressed as hippies to the tune of “Age of Aquarius” featured these opening lyrics, clearly referring to the sad case of Judge Richard Baumgartner: “When the judge is on his seventh pill/And drug abuse aligns with booze/Then fear will fill the courthouse/And everyone will lose./This is the dawning of the Age of Nefarious/Nefarious/Nefarious.”
- Of course, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood also got the Follies treatment for his real life statement that “little birdies” had put thoughts in his head. Imagine, if you will, a character playing Judge Blackwood singing these words to the tune of “Free Bird:” “I would leave here tomorrow/If the D.A. had his way./But some little birds told me/”Ignore your critics, Judge, and stay.” And so on.
- And, of course, you knew this one was coming. There was (I thought) a pretty mild and relatively tasteful skit about the indecent exposure charges against a Knox county commissioner. Called “Sharp’s Ridge Rendezvous,” it featured the old Connie Francis song “Where the Boys Are.” I’ll leave it at that.
On a personal note, every year the Follies selects a journalist or former journalist to honor and this year, I’m humbled to say, they selected my husband, Alan Carmichael, and me. This means a lot to us because we both were long-time journalists — Alan in Nashville and me in Knoxville — and we value very much the role that played in our current careers. We understand and respect the difficult (and often thankless) work that journalists do and we enjoy continuing to work with them every day.
We also appreciate Congressman John J. Duncan Jr., who attended the Follies and gently roasted us from the stage even though it was his birthday and he was fighting a stomach virus! Wow. He and Alan have known each other since their college days at the University of Tennessee and they are still in a regular golf foursome. But this was above and beyond for sure!
And Alan and I appreciate the staff of Moxley Carmichael, all of whom attended the Follies show to support us. Two of our staff members — Shaun Fulco and Amanda Shell — were cast members and we were very impressed with their singing and acting skills! You made us proud, ladies!
I wanted to give a shout-out to the other cast members, as well. You wouldn’t believe how much time goes into putting on this production: Kristi Nelson Bumpus, Adina Chumley, Sean Ellis, Mark Harmon, Cathy Jenkins, Mark Jennings, David Haley Lauver, Anne McKinney, John McNair, Ernie Roberts, Lisa Hood Skinner, Megan Venable Smith, and Stacy Stiles. Terry Silver-Alford of the UT Theater Department, was the saint who took on directing duties — and played keyboard! Jay Miller played percussion.
Amanda Womac, the president of the local Society of Professional Journalists, was the evening’s emcee. Follies committee chairs were Jean Ash, Adina Chumley, Megan Venable Smith and Amanda Womac. Charlie Daniel designed the invitations and the t-shirts and they were great. Bear Stephenson did his normal great job as auctioneer.
Some of us stopped by the Hilton for a nightcap and a post-show debrief.
It’s always a fun show. But this year, was very special for me to be a part of the show during the year it honored my wonderful bosses! The pressure was on to make it the best show ever. I hope we did you proud! An honor well deserved –and then some for you two.
Shaun: the whole cast was amazing! But we especially loved it that you and Amanda were in it. We had a wonderful time. It was hilarious. Great job!
Cynthia–thanks for your great Blue Streak coverage of the Front Page Follies, as well as the support you and Alan have given the show through the years. While you’ve both earned reputations as public relations professionals, we were glad to have this opportunity to pay tribute to your contributions as journalists. And from somewhere, I swear I hear Ron McMahan saying, “It’s about damn time.”
David, aww! Thanks for the kind words. I have to admit I did think about Ron a lot that night. You all did a great job!
Wow – Great pictures You do a great job. So happy to be on the show list. Fay
Great party for great people!
Thanks so much for sharing the evening with me. Wish I could have been there. It looks like a fantastic evening.
It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud that much. It was a blast — and a well deserved honor for you and Alan, Cynthia. I’m very proud to be part of the MoxCar team!
It was a fabulous, fun night. The show was one of the best ever. This is one of Knoxville’s best events every year. And, of course, congratulations to Cynthia & Alan for the well-deserved honor.
Cynthia, I love your coverage of this year’s Follies honoring two very special people. Thanks to you and Alan for all your Follies support through the years. You have helped raise money for lots of journalism scholarships. I’m still hopeful all those scholarship holders will find jobs in some communications-related field.
Thanks, everybody! Dorothy: Alan and I share that hope.
It was a great experience for me to pay tribute to both you and Alan with “It Takes Two”, but also thanks to each of you for your part in making Follies the past seven years (for me) a wonderful experience with your encouragement on so many levels. This was a special show and a special year.
Thanks, Ernie! You did a great job! We had so much fun!
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