Josh Mills is son of the late singer/actress Edie Adams. Josh is also the owner of Ediad Productions & It’s Alive! Media & Management. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Josh about his mom and her new Christmas album Featuring Ernie Kovacs.
Mike Gencarelli: What are some of your fondest memories growing up with your mom Edie Adams?
Josh Mills: My mom was a pretty amazing woman. She was a very well known and talented but I remember her as just your average mom. She did the little things that I didn’t appreciate until later. She worked the snack stand at my little league games, she took me to Europe for the first time as a 15 year old after a medical scare she had because she wanted to make sure I saw it the ‘right’ way. She taught me to appreciate things I didn’t truly wouldn’t until I was older. I remember a story she told me about taking me to a Broadway show when I was a toddler. I had always been around the theater – she used to say I could sleep anywhere, even in the bass drum – because she was always doing one musical or another. Anyway, I had never been in the audience where she paid for a ticket for me, however. So we walk in, sit down and some prissy lady behind us says, “Oh no, a little kid. I hope he’s not too loud”. Without a word, I turned around and put my finger to my lips and said, “Ssssh. We don’t talk in the theater.” My mom almost fell over. Both my mom and my dad were took me everywhere and exposed me to a lot of things a lot of kids don’t get to see. Being a father now, I appreciate that a lot more.
MG: With Omnivore Recordings releasing “The Edie Adams Christmas Album: Featuring Ernie Kovacs (1952)” tell us about this album?
JM: I am really excited this is coming out. My mom was a part of Ernie Kovacs (www.erniekovacs.com) show on CBS in the 1950’s “Kovacs Unlimited”. They had met when she was hired on his local Philly show on WPTZ and became an off screen as well as an onscreen item and were married shortly after until Kovacs was killed in a car accident in January 1962. Anyway, my
mom was a classically trained singer and performer at Julliard so when they asked her to sing ‘pop’ songs on the Kovacs show on CBS – she was a little unsure about singing these modern songs. So with her own money, she paid for a transcription service to record the audio (not the video) of these shows so she could hear herself sing and make sure she was singing them correctly. It turns out that literally 60 years later, we connected with Omnivore Recordings folks to release this album. They are great – they listened to, cataloged, selected, mixed and sequenced what would eventually become “The Edie Adams Christmas Record”. Because my mom sang a new song every day on the show, we started with the month of December 1952 and put this Christmas record together. It’s so satisfying that after all this time; this never-before-heard- since it originally aired that this material is finally seeing the light of day on October 9th. The air checks that made this record were the same that we pulled from to get the bonus material for the new ‘lost’ Ernie Kovacs record, “Percy Dovetonsils…..Thpeaks” on Omnivore as well. I’m not a fidelity kind of guy but the sound is pretty great because while no one received the audio on an FM band on their TV’s in 1952, the sound originated on an FM band so the quality is pretty damn great.
MG: What was Christmas like in your house?
JM: You’ll have to buy it for the full liner notes, but here is an excerpt from my liner notes available on the CD. “As Edie’s only son, I can safely say that I pretty much got everything I wanted for Christmas—even if I didn’t know I wanted it. Edie was big on lists. And catalogs. The Christmas I went away to college in Boston (my first time in serious winter weather) I was outfitted in more L.L. Bean than any native Beantown blue blood. As a kid, I can recall Christmas being about slot cars, superhero action figures and the latest Disney LP. I also had a full complement of dickies, scarves, gloves, ski hats and earmuffs that piled up in my drawers over the years. Had we lived in Fargo North Dakota, this wouldn’t have been at all odd. But we lived in Los Angeles, and I can recall more than a few 80+-degree Christmas mornings. I don’t think this Pennsylvania girl every truly grasped that she didn’t live on the East Coast for the last 50 plus years of her life.”
MG: Knowing your mom as not only a singer but also a television and film actress; what was your favorite work from her?
JM: Tough one! If you had asked me this question in 1978, I would have told you the “Love Boat”. I learned to play backgammon from one of the ship’s extras on the set and I was totally psyched to be on the Lido deck with Isaac and Gopher. Today, I think her two most famous roles were as Fred MacMurray’s scheming secretary in “The Apartment” or Monica Crump, Sid Caesar’s wife in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. I know that film was a great time in her life. It wasn’t too long after Ernie died and she always said it was the first time she really laughed since he passed away. I know “Mad World” helped her psyche by just being around so many comics and crazy people on the set. The stuntmen on the film really pushed the envelope on that film. She loved it everything about it.
MG: Tell us about your work with Ediad Productions?
JM: Ediad Productions is a production company my mom started and I now run on my own since she passed away in 2008. I am in charge of making sure that anything we deem fit for release from both the Edie Adams (www.edieadams.com) estate and Ernie Kovacs estate is done with quality, integrity and excitement. Kovacs was an iconic comedian – Television’s Original Genius – but not as many people know who he is or what he did all these years later. It’s my job to make sure more people know who Kovacs was and to give him the credit he is due as both a comedian and an innovator. I’m 44 so I usually tell people under 40 to ask their parents who Edie Adams was. As soon as I turn them on to her career and what she did – their jaws drop. I have photos of my mom w/ President Kennedy and President Nixon. She did a Royal Command Performance for the Queen of England. I have photos of her with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Christopher Walken and Gore Vidal among many others. She had her own TV show from 1962-1964 with amazing guests like Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stand Getz, Andre Previn, Bob Hope, Buddy Hackett – the list is endless. Before I was born and she married my dad she dated singers, athletes, comedians who are iconic and special. It blows my mind to know that at age 8, my mom took me, my best friend and his brother to meet Groucho Marx at his house in Bel-Air….on Halloween….dressed as the Marx Brothers. I still have the photo of us three and Groucho and it blows my mind to know she could just call him up and he’d say, “Come on over and bring the kids.” Wow!
MG: How did It’s Alive! Media & Management come about?
JM: I started the company in 2002. We are celebrating 10 years in business this year. I had about 3 jobs in the music industry from 1994 – 2001 and I just got tired of getting laid off so I started my own company out of necessity but also because even when things got bad, I knew I couldn’t lay myself off. We (erm, I) started out doing music publicity “rock bands” but since then I’ve worked DVDs, books, films and I also got into management.
MG: Tell us about some of the clients you represent?
JM: Currently I am working & managing the Cambodian & American band Dengue Fever (www.denguefevermusic.com) as well as doing PR for a few bands like 45 Grave (www.dinahcancer.net), Rick Berlin (www.rickberlin.com) and Double Naught Spy Car (www.doublenaughtspycar.com) who cover a lot of musical territory. But I’ve also worked with many old school punk bands (Dead Kennedys, Weirdos, Adolescents, Fishbone), DVDs & films (“Electric Daisy Carnival”, “The Ernie Kovacs Collection”, “Fix – the Ministry Movie”), books (“”Go Ask Ogre”, John Sinclair’s “Guitar Army”) and more. I still love music and the artists I work with….and even some I no longer work with.