- Earlier this year I was contacted by Mark Kidel, an independent
film producer and director of music and arts documentaries. Mark is based
in Bristol in the U.K. and he informed me that he had been commissioned
by the BBC to produce a one-hour TV tribute to Mario Lanza for BBC Four's
- Mark was in the process of immersing himself in all things
Lanza at the time: reading all the current Lanza biographies, listening
to the recordings and viewing the films. He assured me that the program
would be a celebration of the Lanza talent and not a demolition job and
I immediately put him in contact with Pam Latham of the British Mario Lanza
Society. Pam did her usual first-rate job and provided him with all of
the back-up information required to get things rolling. In June 2005 Mark
flew to Los Angeles where he spent several days interviewing me, Ellisa,
and Terry Robinson for the program. That was the start of a very comprehensive
series of on-camera interviews, a process that eventually took Mark and
his associates to several other countries, Italy included.
- The results of Mark's labors were revealed to me in London
last month when I was given a sneak preview of the new documentary. Mark
had still to trim a few minutes to fit the one-hour time slot but what
I saw in the studio that evening, what Mark and his talented editor Andrew
had accomplished from scratch in less than 8 months, was extraordinary.
The final running time will be just under 60 minutes so no one should expect
all aspects of Lanza's life and times to be covered in detail. What is
there, however, is an exciting, insightful and moving tribute to an unforgettable
star. The Lanza voice and charisma literally explode from the screen and
I told Mark after the viewing that BMG in the U.K. should sell a boat-load
of Lanza CDs when the program is broadcast.
- The tribute is scheduled to be shown on BBC Four on December
2, 2005 at 9 p.m., with a further broadcast to come on BBC Two (that date
to be announced); hopefully, a U.S. transmission will follow before too
long. Plans for worldwide distribution on DVD are also in the pipeline.
Mark had experimented with "Singing to the Gods" as an on-screen
working title and he liked it so much that he asked my permission to use
it on the finished program. I was more than delighted to comply with his
- I will refrain for now from commenting on specifics (who's
in it, what clips are shown, what music is played on the soundtrack, etc.),
but it's fair to say that it does contain a few surprises. I look forward
very much to hearing the views of our European friends following the broadcast.
- You can learn more about Mark Kidel's accomplished and
wide-ranging background as a filmmaker by logging on to his website at
- DEREK MANNERING
- November 2005