The Broadway Television Network (BTN) airs its first pay-per view broadcast of Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller on Sept. 10 (check local PPV listings). The BTN pay-pre-view special is preceded by a half-hour preview at 8:30 PM, starring Tony Orlando and Deborah Gibson. The actual closing-night taped performance of Broadway's Smokey Joe's Cafe. airs at 9 PM.
As reported earlier, a BTN spokesperson told Playbill On-Line that while the Gibson-Orlando hosted preview is free, the pay-per-view broadcast of Smokey Joe's will run on "one of the standard pay-per-view channels offered by the leading cable distributor in all the US and Canadian markets." Viewers should check local listings, the spokesperson said, because the selection of specific channels has not been made.
Deborah Gibson started performed at age five with Placido Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera and at eleven she appeared in Sheldon Harnick's A Christmas Carol. Gibson later became a teen sensation in the late '80s, billing herself as "Debbie Gibson." Her triple-threat debut as a solo artist featured her writing, producing and performing her songs. In an unusual tie, Gibson and Bruce Springsteen shared equal but separate top honors as ASCAP's 1989 Songwriters of the Year. Returning to theatre, Deborah Gibson has played Eponine in Les Miserables, Sandy in the West End revival of Grease and Rizzo in a stateside run of Grease, as well as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
Preview host Tony Orlando joined the Broadway cast of Smokey Joe's for two weeks in the summer of 1999. Numerous celebrities comprise the list of guest artists that performed in Smokey Joe's including Rick Springfield, Ben E. King, Pam Tillis, Lou Rawls, Leslie Gore, Gloria Gaynor and Gladys Knight.