Ed McMahon, resplendent in black slacks, white shirt with black tie and a bright red double-breasted blazer, charmed one and all at the WNUV-Channel 54 luncheon last week. He was here to help launch the station's fall lineup, which includes his new Monday-through-Friday "Ed McMahon Star Search" show.
We were part of a 13-city promotion tour he's making with his publicist, Jayne Wallace, and his wife, Pam. That's a tough schedule for his Pritikin diet and even worse for his beer JTC advertisers, now that he's drinking non-alcoholic beer.
Channel 54 general manager Joseph Koff shared his experiences as a judge at a "Star Search" taping in Disney's studios in Orlando, before introducing "Heeeeere's Ed" McMahon to the 80 guests. Everyone enjoyed Ed's insider stories about Carson and how the talent show has made him far more recognizable as a celebrity than "The Tonight Show" ever did.
McMahon told of the time he was on an airliner and seven kids approached him for autographs, walking past and ignoring Sean Connery in a nearby seat. He ticked off names like Dennis Miller, Jennie Jones and Sinbad, all Star Search alums.
He also reminisced about getting into the business, saying he knew from the age of 10 he wanted to be on the radio. When he auditioned in high school for a real radio job, he lost out to a man named Ray Goulding, who moved to Boston to join Bob Elliot as the other half of the famous Bob & Ray team. McMahon got the job at that point.
In connection with McMahon's visit, Channel 54 conducted a Star Search gig at the Maryland State Fair. It was such a success -- 179 tried out -- that they plan to do it again next year. No word yet on whether any of our wannabes will be appearing on the show.
The Cafe des Artistes in Mount Washington had a reputation as a special place to have dinner, but unfortunately not enough people remembered it on those special occasions. So Ann Clapp sold the Cafe to her former maitre d', David McMurray and his partners, Brian Davis and Don McCafferty, son of the former Baltimore Colts coach.
If all goes well, McCafferty's will open in mid-October, and I'm told you won't recognize the place.
Besides a new paint job and new floor, the menu is new too -- classic foods will be out and what the restaurant is calling "real food" will be in. The real food will be prepared by Chef Gene Bridges, and Patrick Raum will be manager.
September is the month when Maryland says "thanks a million" to its breeders and owners of Maryland-sired horses. If you're in town this weekend, why not take in the Maryland Million Horse Country Tour on Saturday and Sunday in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. Cecil County farms are open on Monday. I can assure you that you'll love the tour and also learn about this important Maryland industry.
One farm that is the topic of lots of conversations these days is Ross Valley Farm in Sparks, owned by Eleanor Sparenberg. The beautiful farm, which many of you may have noticed going north on Interstate 83, is for sale at a rumored price of more than $2 million.
Another rumor that has been rampant is that rap singer Hammer was interested in buying the property and had been there several times to look at it. Not a word of it is true, says a friend of the owner, which is too bad because it will take someone with that kind of income to afford the at least $250,000 yearly maintenance.
The tour book lists 46 farms and other places of interest that you can visit over Labor Day weekend. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7.50 for children, with proceeds going to the Maryland Council of Equine Therapies.
Call Cricket Goodall at Maryland Horse Breeders Association, (410) 252-2100, or Kelly Groff, Baltimore County Office of Tourism, (410) 887-8000, for more information.
More than 150 business, civic and legislative leaders attended the United Artists Cable celebration last week. Euan F. F. Fannell, president and general manager of the cable company, shared two major milestones for cable with his guests -- Digital Music Express, a 30 channel, compact disc music service available to subscribers 24 hours a day, and a new production studio and mobile production unit.
Others at the party were Brigette Allen, United Artists Cable; City Comptroller Jacqueline McLean; Harlow Fullwood, Fullwood Foods; Delegate Hattie Harrison; Norman Taylor, president of United Way of Central Maryland; and John Singleton, Digital Music Express.