by JULIO MARTINEZ
[dropcap]In[/dropcap] early 1972, Bill Bordy—a struggling thesp from Pittsburgh who is frustrated by the lack of casting information available to actors—publishes the first Hollywood Drama-Logue Casting Sheet, a mimeographed single 8 1/2×11 inch sheet of paper with hand-typed casting notices. By phone, he solicits casting information from casting directors, producers, directors and whoever else can provide him with reliable data. Within two years, Drama-Logue evolves into a four-page foldout.
By June 1977, actor/journalist Lee Melville joins Bordy, who is now putting out a 12-page publication that includes reviews of small local theater productions, along with casting notices. Drama-Logue has a staff of five, operating out of a small office on Las Palmas Avenue, above old Hollywood Center Theater.
“Bordy asked me to write theater reviews, which I had never done before,” recalled Melville, interviewed in 2012. Melville’s first review is of a production of Carousel in Pasadena, to which he gives a scathing critique. The producer, a friend of Bordy, complains; but Bordy supports Melville, who is now assigned to writing two to three reviews a week.
Bordy also hires actor/director/Hollywood man-about-town David Galligan to be a theater reviewer—who earns an even scarier reputation as a critic. But reviews from Drama-Logue are much sought-after by the underserved small theater community. In September 1977, Bordy desires to move into film production and elevates Melville to editor-in-chief. That same year, Melville initiates the annual Drama-Logue Awards for excellence in live theater, as well as assigning contact-rich Galligan to create a weekly Inside Hollywood celebrity gossip and news column. Recent Gotham arrival, actress Connie Danese, is brought on to pen her Connie Chats column.
In 1982, Drama-Logue—operating out of a house on Gordon Street in Hollywood—expands theater review coverage to all theaters, large and small, from San Diego to Santa Maria. To handle increased review flow, Melville gathers a noteworthy list of writers, including Polly Warfield, T.H. McCulloh, Viola Swisher, Terry Fisher, Jack Holland and Charles Faber. By mid-1980s, membership of LA Drama Critics Circle includes seven Drama-Logue reviewers. Feature writers include F. Kathleen Foley, Tom Provensano, Michael Kearns and this writer.
The annual Drama-Logue awards evolve into overflowing events, held at such venues as Masquers, Variety Arts Center and Pasadena Playhouse, emceed by Bordy. In 1989, Melville leaves the publication to take over a family business. Bordy turns over editorship to his niece Faye Bordy. In May 1998, Drama-Logue is purchased and absorbed by Backstage West, which is owned by Billboard Publications, who also publish The Hollywood Reporter. Warfield joins Backstage as Senior Critic.
In 2000, Melville and LA STAGE Alliance President Lars Hansen create LA STAGE Magazine, a bimonthly print publication of LASA. In January 2009, the publication segues into an online entity dubbed LA STAGE Times, with Melville still serving as editor-in-chief until he steps down due to illness in 2010. Deborah Behrens becomes managing editor, assuming the duties of editor-in-chief in September 2011, with Lee Melville honored as Editor Emeritus. Due to a budget shortfall, LA STAGE Times goes on permanent hiatus at the end of January 2014.
In 2015, Bill Bordy once again emerges as a benefactor to the LA arts scene. In March, he makes a $2.5 million endowment to his alma mater, Boston-based Emerson College—devoted to communication and performing arts—to underwrite Emerson Los Angeles (ELA), the College’s long-standing internship program, housed in Hollywood. Also in March, Bordy provides funds to LA STAGE Alliance for a five-year re-launch of its journalism function in honor of three distinguished late members of the L.A. theater community—Lee Melville, Polly Warfield, and Lars Hansen.