Banks County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 19, 2003


Column

By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
February 19, 2003

‘Her name was Lola’
If that phrase brings a smile to your face, you’re probably familiar with Barry Manilow’s 1970s hit, “Copacabana.” The song is still popular 25 years later and can be heard on heard on the radio on occasion. Many people from their 20s to 50s and from all walks of life know most of the words and sing along too.
I have known the words to that song for as long as I can remember but I didn’t realize it had been adapted into a musical production. In the 1980s, Dick Clark approached Copacabana’s writers, Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman, about adapting the tune into a musical film for television. It was the first time such a project was attempted since Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Starring Annette O’Toole, Barry Manilow, Estelle Getty and Joseph Bologna, the movie garnered great ratings and wonderful reviews. It won an Emmy Award.
Shortly thereafter, Caesar’s Resorts in Atlantic City contacted the creative team about adapting the film for their show room. Mr. Manilow, Mr. Sussman and Mr. Feldman proceeded to invent a new form: Vegas review meets Broadway show. It was wildly successful and received glowing reviews.
This prompted British producers to inquire about the possibility of expanding the show to a full-length, two-act, West End musical. Discarding much of the Atlantic City production, the creators added several more characters and subplots and doubled the size of the score. This production enjoyed a four-month, pre-London tour, ran two seasons on London’s West End and toured for more than a year thereafter. It is still touring today and was recently at the Classic Center in Athens.
The local production was wonderful. From the opening scene of a young songwriter working on the lyrics to the song to the closing scene with all of the Copa dancers in their bright, festive costumes singing and dancing to the completed song, it holds the audience’s attention. The music, choreography, costumes and plot still capture audiences as they did in the 1980s when it was first performed.
It was my first visit to the Classic Center and I was very impressed. The theater is beautiful and there isn’t a bad seat in the house, which seats 2,100. It has an intimate atmosphere that makes everyone feel connected. It’s a great venue for plays, concerts and other live entertainment.
The remainder of the theater season will include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” on Friday, March 14, and “On Golden Pond”, with Jack Klugman, on Sunday, April 6. For more information, go to www.classiccenter.com on the Internet or call (706) 357-4444.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.

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Editorial

By: Bill Shipp
The Banks County News
February 19, 2003

On tweaking the flag referendum
As we contemplate the coming referendum on the state flag, Georgians should consider at least one historical note: Our past governors were not as determined as Sonny Perdue to keep their campaign pledges.
If both Talmadges, Marvin Griffin, Ernie Vandiver and even Jimmy Carter had lived up to their stump rhetoric, Georgia’s public school system would have collapsed, higher education would be in a shambles, “white only” signs would still be posted on restroom doors; and we would have the worst and most under funded infrastructure in the nation. Or the state would be permanently occupied by federal troops sent here to guarantee equal rights for all citizens.
Alas, all those governors saw the wisdom of backing down. They had the good sense to know that what fires up a crowd at election rallies is seldom what is best for the state. So for 50 years, Georgia has enjoyed an era of prosperity and racial healing without having to worry much that fire-breathing politicians really meant what they said.
Gov. Perdue’s plan to hold a vote to allow citizens to choose between two Confederate flags as their official banner changes that perception. In the eyes of many, keeping the Perdue pledge is a giant step backward for the state, as any newspaper reader or TV viewer can see. If the legislature goes along with Perdue, Georgia is in for a year of raucous street demonstrations, a probable economic boycott and an immeasurable amount of national and international ridicule. Whatever happens won’t be good for business.
Of course, the General Assembly leadership is likely to decide it has no choice but to comply with the governor’s command. Still, the legislature may wish to consider several alternatives to the Perdue plan, such as changing the date of the referendum.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons of possible primary dates:
March 2, 2004: As a sop to the business community, Perdue has proposed holding the flag vote at the same time as the presidential primary. He told Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce officials that the contested Democratic primary will draw a large turnout of blacks and moderate whites, who will vote against the Rebel battle flag. The business guys may have bought that scenario, but it is not likely to work.
The so-called flaggers — supporters of the Confederate cross — would turn out en masse for the primary and skew the outcome of the presidential vote.
A huge turnout of regular Democrats is unlikely since the national party has front-loaded the primary season with contests in larger states, rendering moot the outcome of the Georgia presidential contest. In addition, presidential contenders campaigning in Georgia are likely to try to outdo fellow candidate Al Sharpton in condemning a possible return to the Confederate emblem.
Besides, the legislature will be loath to deal with the referendum results in an election year.
July 20, 2004: Holding the flag vote concurrently with the state primary election might be more palatable to Democrats. Then they wouldn’t have to address the issue in the legislature until the post-election session of 2005.
On the other hand, Republicans may recoil at the idea of their July senatorial primary being dominated by single-issue flaggers. Although announced senatorial candidate Johnny Isakson, as a legislator, voted against changing the flag during the Miller administration, many flaggers are not likely to view the moderate Republican as their kind of guy at primary time.
Nov. 2, 2004: For the best turnout and most representative vote, holding the flag referendum on the day of the General Election makes the most sense.
In fact, such scheduling would probably aid Georgia Republican candidates across the board. But the vote would generate tons of negative publicity nationally and could work to the detriment of the Bush presidential ticket.
The General Assembly also may wish to revise the core idea of the Perdue referendum and consider other options, to wit:
1. Instead of the complicated two-tier vote proposed by the governor, the referendum would be designed as a simple one-question ballot on which voters could show their preference for any one of three flags — the present one, the Confederate cross or the pre-1956 flag, which is a knockoff of the Confederate national banner.
2. Frame the referendum as a vote on four flags, including the first Georgia flag — the state coat of arms on a field of blue. Perhaps that option would give voters at least one option without overt racial connotations.
3. Another idea: If no flag wins at least 50 percent of the vote in the first election, hold a runoff referendum to try to approach a consensus on the issue.
A thousand other ideas come to mind on how the referendum might be held, but none would avoid the inevitable injury this state will suffer with the reopening of a purely symbolic issue in a time of more stressful and certainly more substantive crises.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or by calling (770) 422-2543, e-mail: bshipp@bellsouth.net, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com


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