Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LAUSD PUTTING ON A SHOW – A TALENT SHOW …to showcase employee-entertainers and raise money for after-school programs

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer LA Daily News |

11/28/2012 03:33:09 PM PST  ::  Sure, America and even Britain have talent.

Turns out, Los Angeles Unified does, too.

The nation's second-largest school district is organizing a variety show to spotlight the talents of its 60,000-plus employees while raising money to fund after-school programs.

"I want to really show the quality of talent we have," said Ted Johnson, an administrative coordinator for the district's Beyond the Bell Branch. "We're going to have costumes, lighting. I want to really make this top drawer."

Johnson said he's received a couple dozen calls since LAUSD posted a call for applicants, including inquiries from a would-be comedian, a jug band, salsa dancers and a lot of singers, including Assistant Superintendent Earl Perkins.

"I got a call from a principal who plays the bagpipes," Johnson said. "I've heard he's pretty good."

Although plans are still tentative, Johnson hopes to hold auditions in mid-January for a show that would be held the night of March 7. He's trying to work out a deal with a nightclub near LAUSD's downtown headquarters that would hold the show for a percentage of the bar tab.

Although the variety show is titled "LAUSD's Got Talent," it's not going to be a competition like the popular NBC show. Johnson's thinking more along the lines of the iconic "Ed Sullivan Show," which showcased acts ranging from The Beatles and Elvis Presley to plate-spinners and Topo Gigio the puppet.

With tickets in the $15 range, maybe higher for premium seats, Johnson hopes to raise $3,000 to $5,000 for Beyond the Bell's after-school learning and enrichment programs.

Johnson said Beyond the Bell is increasingly turning to the private sector for help in back-filling its budget, which has been slashed in recent years because of the district's financial crisis. Its annual golf tournament, heavily supported by corporate sponsorships, last year raised nearly $40,000.

Johnson, said he might sing himself - he covers songs popularized by Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and others - if he runs short of acts, but he doesn't think that's going to be a problem.

"The calls I'm getting are blowing me away," he said. "I'm thinking, `Hey, I've got a show here."'

"LAUSD's Got Talent" is open to Los Angeles Unified employees. To audition or for more information, call 213-241-2690 or see

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