A High Note Group Sings Praises of Rosemary Clooney and
Music Industry Executive Al Teller

BILL HIGGINS. The Los Angeles Times, Nov 14, 1990

Al Teller never had a chance at taking the spotlight. He was sharing it with Rosemary Clooney at the Betty Clooney Foundation for People With Brain Injury's first Thanksgiving Awards of the Music Industry. The black-tie dinner was at Loew's Santa Monica Beach Hotel Sunday night.

Clooney received the Wind Beneath Our Wings Award for her fund-raising efforts on behalf of the foundation that bears her late sister's name. Teller was honored with the Unsung Hero Award for his behind-the-scenes contribution to developing talent in the music business.

However, in any setting where a music executive, even if he's chairman of the MCA Music Entertainment Group, is on the same bill with a one of America's great singers, he's bound to come in second. "After all," Teller said, "that's my role: the unsung hero."

Singer Jody Watley praised Teller as "a long-term thinker who knows it's about careers and not just hits" when she presented his award. From that moment on, though, the night belonged to Clooney.

Barry Manilow slipped behind the piano to sing a song directed at Clooney. Then Bette Midler took the stage to say that when you're asked to honor a singer of Clooney's caliber, "One must dust off one's Armani and crawl out." She went on to praise the evening "as one of the nicest I've had in this (her eyes roll) horrible town."

It was vintage Midler. She was on stage for just a few minutes to present the award, but within seconds she'd raised the crowd's energy level.

Clooney then took the mike to sing a flawless version of "Our Love Is Here to Stay." Afterward, emcee Merv Griffin persuaded her to do a duet of "I Can't Get Started With You" with Michael Feinstein.

The singing was going so well that Griffin pointed toward Clint Eastwood in the audience and said: "Clint asked if he could do a medley from `Paint Your Wagon.' "

It was an extremely successful kickoff for the new awards program. Chaired by Maria Ferrer (with Dolores Hope and Edie Wasserman as honorary co-chairs), the dinner netted $300,000 for the foundation's work in providing rehabilitation services for survivors of brain injury.

A good share of the credit for the financial success must go to Teller for bringing in music industry support.

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