Thursday, October 21, 2010


Will one of my favorite comedians, Steve Carell, get to see our mother country when he works on a big-screen adaptation of a documentary about an American songwriter elevated to the status of a rock star by performing, not in the United States, but in the Philippines?

There was a time when you mentioned Dennis Lambert in America and all you’d get was a blank stare.

Well, Lambert wrote “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Ain’t No Woman Like The One I’ve Got”, “We Built This City”, “Baby Come Back” and a few of my all-time favorite tunes, “Of All The Things” and “Ashes To Ashes”, among others (he’s wrote over 600 songs). Ring a bell now?

Those songs were recorded by such famous artists and groups as The Commodores, The Righteous Brothers, Glen Campbell, Tavares, Natalie Cole and The Four Tops but fame and the big bucks eluded Lambert himself.

In 1972, he released his solo album and it flopped everywhere (that is, everywhere except the Philippines).

So in the 1990s, he retreated from New York City and settled into a job selling mini-mansions in Boca Raton, Florida.

That was where he got an offer to do a music tour in the Philippines.

It turned out he was more famous in Manila than Memphis.

His son Jody followed his father around in the Philippines with a camera and crafted the documentary Of All the Things, that Carell is now transforming into a full length feature film.

Lambert came to the Philippines with Paul Williams (“Rainbow Connection”, “Evergreen”, and for Ally McBeal fans “I Know Him By Heart”, etc.) and performed before a packed crowd for a Valentine’s Day concert at the Araneta Coliseum in 2007.

They also performed at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, the Central Bank auditorium in Davao City; the Limketkai Atrium in Cagayan de Oro City; and the Central Philippine University auditorium in Iloilo City.

Of All the Things has been described as hilarious and heartwarming and the story itself, fascinating – attributes that may have attracted Carell to the project. “Lambert’s a mensch who gets to be a rock star for a couple of weeks,” said the website Creative Loafing.

His Philippine concert tour, he said, “remains a bright spot in my heart and in my mind.”

Carell (The Office, Dan in Real Life) seems comfortable in both comedy and drama, leading some Hollywood columnists to speculate the film might be turned into a “dramedy”.

Reeling him into this movie almost guarantees box-office success here – but even it doesn’t, I know at least one place where it will be – good old Philippines, where the people have proven they know their music.

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