Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind The Song

Christina Aguilera, Melissa Etheridge, Lamont Dozier, Paul Anka, Kanye West, Richie Sambora & other top songwriters tell entertainment veteran Jo-Ann Geffen their inspiration and techniques.

Musicians love to say that every song tells a story, but they are usually tight-lipped about the story behind the song. Was it really scribbled on a napkin? What love interest was the real inspiration? If we knew the real story behind our favorite songs, would we ever listen to them the same way again?

Chicken Soup for the Soul® has partnered with veteran Hollywood publicist, talent manager and celebrity booker Jo-Ann Geffen for the first all celebrity book from the top selling brand. Geffen peels back the curtain on 101 songs, songwriters and artists with the upcoming release of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song (Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC, November 10, 2009, 978-1-935096-40-5, $14.95). Jo-Ann Geffen is credited as editor along with Chicken Soup for the Soul co-founders Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. The foreword is by Lamont Dozier, who is credited as an architect of the Motown sound.

The book reflects on many of our favorite songs that trace our lives through music from rap trendsetter Kanye West to Top 40 hit-makers Richie Sambora, Christina Aguilera, Melissa Etheridge, John Legend, the Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough, and Jewel, classic rock performer/songwriters like Chicago’s Robert Lamm, and Foreigner’s Mick Jones, Daryl Hall and John Oates, alternative rockers Aaron Lewis of Staind to Corey Taylor of Slipknot and legendary punk rock hits such as Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains reflecting on his father’s tour in Vietnam and its aftermath in “Rooster, pop classics like those of Barry Manilow, Hal David, Diane Warren and Paul Anka who re-tells his history with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, R&B songmasters such as Nathan Morris for the Boyz II Men/Mariah Carey hit “One Sweet Day”, Walter Orange of the Commodores, Smokey Robinson, Earth Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey, and country hits from Tracy Lawrence, .Ray Stevens, Pam Tillis.

Some bring laughter, others bring tears, but all are insightful and great reading for music fans, aficionados or people who just like a good story. Each of the tales is accompanied by a photo and the lyrics for the song that is discussed.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, publishes all the latest titles in the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul book series which are distributed through Simon and Schuster, Inc. Since 1993, books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have sold more than 112 million copies, with titles translated into more than 40 languages. Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing also licenses the right to use its famous trademark to high quality licensees through IMG, the world's premier licensing agent. The company is currently implementing a plan to expand into all media, is working with TV networks on several TV shows and is developing a major Internet presence dedicated to life improvement, emotional support and inspiration.  In 2007, USA Today named Chicken Soup for the Soul one of the five most memorable and impactful books in the last quarter century. For more information visit:

To receive a review copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song, or to schedule an interview, please contact Rusty Shelton (512) 478-2028 ext.220 or

Of Kings, Queens and Movie Stars

Of Kings, Queens and Movie Stars

“This is showbiz from the very intimate inside. How inside? Leonard was literally the third person on Cary Grant's honeymoon with Dyan Cannon...and writes all about it! Forty years in the film publicity trenches. You'll read all about life in the movies in the more glorious and glamorous 70s, 80s, and 90s... Steve McQueen, Peter Sellers, Warren Beatty, Barbra Streisand and on and on and on. A thousand times more interesting and sophisticated than today's gossip mongers. Morpurgo was right in there organizing, advising, encouraging and taking the heat for the cream of the movie crop as well as the heads of state from around the world. You love movies?... Don't miss Of Kings and Queens and Movie Stars.”

Sid Ganis, Producer and President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“This is a fun and fantastic reading experience. Leonard Morpurgo has worked with the famous, and his frank and entertaining stories about them are eye-openers. It’s an insider’s look at Hollywood egos, past and present.”

Henri Bollinger, founder, president of the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society and past president of the Publicists Guild of America.

“A truly gifted bard, Leonard Morpurgo proves once again that truth is indeed stranger than fiction --- even in Hollywood. Wonderfully entertaining and great reading.”

David A. Weitzner, Director, Summer Program, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California

"An amusing and informative collection of stories about the author's adventures in the PR trade, told with an engagingly wry and self-deprecating good humor."

Michael York

"If you want to know what it is like to be a publicity pro from the days of Cary Grant to George Clooney this is a great read. It is interesting, funny and enlightening."

Robert J. Dowling, former editor-in-chief and publisher of The Hollywood Reporter.

“A longtime international film publicist, Morpurgo dishes celebs ranging from Cary Grant to the Duke of Windsor, at the same time skewering the decision-makers at the studios who—more often than most PR types will admit—are wayward or wacky in their calls.

“Never heavy-handed or tacky, Morpurgo provides a reminder of just how fractured the personalities he had to cater to were (and are). His word for them is ‘guarded,’ but often he managed to get behind the veil of one or another.

“The book has texture, and it made me realize how far we’ve come, or receded, since the heady, spendthrift days of the 1970s and ‘80s.”

Elizabeth Guider, current editor of The Hollywood Reporter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Melvyn's owner spills beans in new book

Melvyn's owner spills beans in new book

Judith Salkin • The Desert Sun • February 22, 2009

“Raconteur” is a good way to describe Mel Haber, owner of Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs for more than 30 years.


Haber has recorded his memories, with co-writer Marshall Terrill, in “Palm Springs รก la Carte: The Colorful World of the Caviar Crowd at Their Favorite Desert Hideaway.”

The book, published this month, is available at the Ingleside Inn. On Thursday, Haber is hosting a book-signing dinner followed by a Q&A at Melvyn's.

The first couple of chapters are devoted his early life in New York, before the Ingleside Inn changed his world.

The rest of the book focuses on Haber's singular ambition of returning the Ingleside Inn to its former glory, and in turn, a success for himself.

Haber admits that he's made “every mistake in the book” when it came to running the famous resort.

In the end, he also says, “If I can make it, anyone can.”

The book is full of anecdotes, like how he turned a scruffy Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw away when they pulled up for the grand opening on a motorcycle.

Or the story of Sir John, the ultimate con artist who ran his ponzi scheme on the Coachella Valley's elite from the Inn.

Haber talks about meeting stars such as John Travolta, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Sinatra, who he calls “Mr. S.”

But not all the memories are good. Haber recalls the still-unsolved murder of his son, Lonny, in 1981.

“It's a pain that never dulls or goes away,” Haber says in the book.

What: Dinner and booksigning with Mel Haber

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, February 26

Where: Melvyn's 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dinner and book signing with Mel Haber

Looking for something fun and interesting to do in Palm Springs? Why not have dinner with a legend?

Mel Haber, the owner and proprietor of Melvyn's Restaurant and The Ingleside Inn, is hosting a special dinner and book signing next week to promote the publication of his new memoir, Palm Springs a la Carte.

The two-hour event starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 at Melvyns, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs. Haber, along with co-author Marshall Terrill, who has authored a dozen books and best-selling biographies on Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley and “Pistol” Pete Maravich. The two will discuss Haber's autobiography during a special three-course meal followed by a special question and answer session period. Autographed copies of the book available for purchase. Reservations for the $45 dinner (includes tax and tip) must be pre-paid.

Palm Springs a la Carte: The Colorful World of the Caviar Crowd at Their Favorite Desert Hideaway (Barricade Books, 2009) is a charming, often hilarious book describing the adventures of the novice restauranteur and hotelier, Melvyn Haber, an automotive accessory manufacturer from the bowels of New York City who is a legend in the sugar-frosted society of Palm Springs.

Haber admits he made every mistake in the book, which didn't preclude him from running one of the most successful restaurant's and hotels of all time. His two establishments have attracted a guest list that reads like a Who's Who of the world. Visitors have included Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Marlon Brando, Liberace, Liza Minnelli, President Gerald Ford, Lucille Ball, Dinah Shore, Rita Hayworth, Jerry Lewis and June Allyson.

Haber restored the historic inn and grounds, and built his own restaurant, Melvyn's. He learned the business the hard way and lived through a comedy of errors that would have bankrupted most investors in today's ultra-competitive hotel and restaurant markets. He managed not only to survive, but flourish, and became an example of the American dream in its fullest flower.

The book is filled with entertaining stories that offer a peek into the colorful world of celebrities, Hollywood elite, royalty, diplomats, mafioso and lovable con artists at their favorite desert hideaway.

What: Dinner with Mel Haber

When: Thursday, Feb. 26, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Melvyn's Restaurant, 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs

Information: (760) 325-0046 or visit

The Last Mile makes final stop in Chandler


Diane Howell or Candee Lewis – 480.917.6859

Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, an exhibition of photographs taken by Barbara McQueen, will make its final stop in Chandler, Arizona next month.

The exhibition will be on display March 6-April 11, 2009 at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler, Arizona. An opening reception for Barbara McQueen will take place on March 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. McQueen will be present along with special guest, Jeb Rosebrook, who wrote the screenplay for Junior Bonner, which was a 1972 McQueen movie filmed in Prescott, Arizona.

It’s the last stop for The Last Mile,” said Barbara McQueen, the actor’s widow. “The last two years have been a constant whirlwind of activity and I’m ready to return to a quieter lifestyle.” Since May 2007, McQueen has traveled with the exhibit to London, San Francisco, Carmel-By-The Sea, Ketchum, Idaho, Slater, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Barbara McQueen’s photographs record a behind-the-scenes look at personal pleasures enjoyed near the end of the actor’s life: hitting the road in his vintage pick up trucks, driving 700 miles for a rare World War I motorcycle, flying antique planes in rural California and generally ducking out of Hollywood life. The pictures also capture McQueen on the sets of his last two films, Tom Horn and The Hunter.

The hundreds of photos taken by Barbara McQueen have been collected in a book, also titled Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, which was co-authored with Valley resident Marshall Terrill. The Chandler exhibit will include approximately 30 photographs from that collection, taken from the time the couple met in 1977 through the end of McQueen’s life in 1980, the same year they married.

Admission is free to this intimate portrayal of McQueen’s life. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call (480) 917.6859 or visit

Where: Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler, Ariz.

What: Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, an exhibition of photographs by Barbara McQueen

When: March 6 - April 11, 2009, Opening Reception March 6, 7-9 p.m.

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m
Saturdays, noon-4 p.m.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

McQueen tribute book set for fall release

Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool

Marshall Terrill’s long-awaited tribute to the small-town rebel who continues to keep so many millions spellbound is coming to bookstores for the holiday season.

Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool (Dalton Watson Fine Books), tells the actor’s story in chronological order through the eyes of those who knew him best: family, friends, co-stars, business associates, acquaintances and adoring fans from around the globe. Written in passage form, each person brings a different view to the man and legend, presenting him in an unsurpassed 360-degree perspective.

It’s very unique in its presentation because it reads like a biography, but it’s really a photo and tribute book,” Terrill said, who spent nearly three years compiling the information. “There’s really nothing else on the market quite like it. I know it will please McQueen fans.”

Accompanying the 200 passages are hundreds of photos taken of McQueen throughout his life and movie career, many seen here for the first time as well as personal items, documents and movie memorabilia.

The book will also include a foreword by Barbara McQueen, a family tree of Steve McQueen’s history and quotes by several Hollywood luminaries.

Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool is slated for a fall 2009 release. For more information, visit

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Connie Martinson Talks Books

Palm Springs a la Carte
Reviewed by Connie Martinson

It is said that every business man or woman has two businesses, his own and the desire to be in show business or run a restaurant. Neither is the way the dream seemed. In Palm Springs, Mel Haber found the way to combine both. He wrote with Marshall Terrill "Palm Springs a la Carte: The Colorfull World of the Caviar Crows at Their Favorite Desert Hideaway"(Barricade Books $23.95).

In other words, can a small town boy from Brooklyn, NY find happiness in the sunny Palm Springs running a hotel and restaurant? This is before Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells, when there was only Palm Springs and the rest was sand.

When he was 13 Mel's father died, a month before his father was at his Bar Mitzvah, his father was in a business where five checks arrived every month and he knew everyone when the family went to Miami Beach, Mafia and show folk. After his father's death, the checks stopped and Mel started a series of businesses. He got married young, had children and had a partner, Artie, who shared in the various businesses that Mel was in. In 1971 Mel decided he wasn't in love with his wife and that he was happiest when he was in California.

On a trip to Palm Springs with his new friend, Barbra, he started to look at real estate and on April 15, 1975, he bought the Ingleside Inn and restaurant for $300,000 dollars. He never looked back. There were tough financial years, there were people he never should have hired, but where else could he have gotten to know Frank Sinatra and catered his pre-wedding dinner to Barbara Sinatra at the restaurant now known as "Melvyn's".

Mel was present when a certain man who stepped out of The Sopranos placed a phone call to that certain singer telling him to be at the Dinner Theatre in Westchester, NY.

Along the way, Mel remarried and he has a daughter, Stephanie, who is in college. He opened disco dancing restaurants, and a Chinese restaurant, he even had a late night radio show. .Due to the economy and changing times, both have closed. Today, Mel is 72 but he still has the Ingleside Inn and Melvyn's and as he said to me when we taped, that if he sold it, five minutes later it would be "Mel, who?". I laughed and reminded him of the Jack Warner quote about "next week I am just a rich old, Jew". And with changing times, Palm Springs is coming back to be the centre of attention.

To buy a signed copy of Palm Springs a la Carte, go to, or visit