Featuring the world of News and Celebrity Classics
The Oscar Speech to Remember!by Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Yes, news about the Academy Awards is everywhere! The count down has started…
You can’t get away from it. The chatter is on! It’s on TV, radio, in most magazines, and in all the newspapers. Love it or hate it, the 86th Academy Awards will be seen tonight, March 2nd, by 40.3 million people in 225 countries!
It’s one of the few times we get to see all the Beautiful People in fabulous designer clothes together in one place.
But…after seeing so many Academy Awards Shows year after year, they all seem to blend together. Every now and then one or two stand out. Some celebrities make it a point to do or say something memorable. Most fail, but a few succeed.
A few celebrities stand out in my mind. Anyone remember Robert Opal? The naked streaker in 1974 at the 46th annual Academy Awards ceremony? Even though he was no celebrity, he made that Oscar year something to talk about. And he didn’t need any designer clothes to be seen!
Everyone remembers Sally Field‘s famous “you like me speech” in 1994, confessing her thrill at the Academy’s approval of her work as Best Actress for Places in the Heart.
After receiving his Oscar, he used some expletives to talk about how executives thought long and hard about casting him because they were concerned about his mature age. And then the most amazing and funny thing happened. The 73 year-old Palance left the podium and dropped to the stage floor to do three one-arm pushups! No one saw that coming, and the audience loved it. I loved it…and still do!
For me, that was a truly classic Hollywood moment, and a great way to be remembered. I only hope Bruce Dern has been doing his pushups, because that’s a hard act to follow!
See you at the Oscars!
A New Year!by Suzanne Herrera McCullough
January 1, 2014 – It’s the beginning of all new things, while some of our favorite things from the past are getting a little older.
This past week, between Christmas and New Year’s, our family took the time to watch some classic Holiday films on TV, along with millions of other movie fans.
Here are two of our obvious holiday favorites:
My personal favorite year after year, of course, is It’s a Wonderful Life. I never, ever get tired of this wonderful and touching movie about the reality of life and the impact each of us has on one another. And of course, I love movies with happy endings!
What I like most of all about Frank Capra’s timeless 1946 classic is how it shows us the importance of family and friends in good times and in bad.
So with that in mind, my New Year’s resolution is to stay in closer touch! A task easier said than done, but that’s my goal.
Over 100 years before It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, the cinema’s earliest known Christmas film was Santa Claus, directed by British pioneer film maker George Albert Smith in 1898. While filming parallel action, he combined it with double-exposure photography, creating a huge technical achievement for its time.
Here’s a look at “the first Christmas movie” ever made…I’d say movies have come a long way…enjoy!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
“Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn.”by Suzanne Herrera McCullough
This past holiday weekend, between turkey and pumpkin pie, I will confess to watching some TV and seeing classic movies for three full days!
Of course, every time I watch The Godfather, I want to “be Italian” and eat some cannoli, the fabulous Italian pastry which is the subject of a famous line of dialogue: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
But this Thanksgiving, my favorite movie for the weekend was the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind.
What I would give to just once wear one of those dresses! But even more than the dresses I loved the character of Rhett Butler as played by Clark Gable. He was the ultimate bad boy with a big heart! Or maybe…I just like Clark Gable. Hmmm…
During his career, William Clark Gable was dubbed “King of Hollywood.” Gable truly epitomized Hollywood’s Golden Age, with his romances on and off screen were legendary.
Gable left school at 16, found factory work in Akron, Ohio, and one cold afternoon saw a stage play that changed his life forever. Watching the performers, he was so enthralled that he immediately decided to study theatre and become an actor.
Three years later, he joined a traveling theatre company and met his first wife, who became his acting coach and manager. Gable and his wife moved to Hollywood, where he found work as an extra while focusing his ambitions on the theatre.
His very first screen test in Hollywood was a failure, rejected when the casting agents thought his ears were too big to be a leading man. But in spite of what the casting agents thought, he managed to get his first speaking role in 1931’s The Painted Desert.
Gable’s cinematic charisma lit up the screen so much, and the audience reaction to him was so strong, that MGM immediately offered him a contract.
Dance, Fool, Dance with Joan Crawford was his first leading role, and he soon became the ultimate male lead, with the studio casting him opposite starlets Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow, and Greta Garbo, to name a few. At the end of that year, he had stared in a dozen films (hard to believe 12 films in one year!), and went on to an unmatched career as leading man in more than 60 movies in his 30-year acting career.
Gable is best known for his iconic performance in Gone with the Wind, for which he was nominated as Best Actor in a Leading Role. His last line of dialogue as Rhett Butler in the film, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” is one of the most famous lines in movie history. Just seeing it tells you why…
Gable had been married five times but his marriage in 1939 to his third wife, actress Carole Lombard (1908-1932), was the happiest time of his life, his biographers say.
On January 16, 1942, Lombard was a passenger on TransWorld Airlines 3 with her mother and press agent Otto Winkler, returning to Hollywood on her way back from a successful war bond tour, when the plane slammed into a mountain near Las Vegas.
Shattered over Lombard’s death, Gable enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force, and flew five combat missions over hostile German territory. But when word reached MGM studio executives that Gable was taking part in dangerous combat raids, they successfully badgered the Army Air Force into reassigning its most valuable star to noncombat duty.
Gable would act in 27 more films and remarried twice more, but his friend of many years, Esther Williams, was quoted as saying after Carole Lombard’s death, “He would never be the same. His heart sank a bit.”
Life magazine referred to Gable, “All man…and then some.” Doris Day, commenting about Gable’s appeal said “He was as masculine as any man I’ve known, and as much as a little boy as a grown man can be-it was this combination that had such a devastating effect on women.” And let’s not forget about his dimples! Even with those dimples, he still managed to look supremely masculine.
So now you know what I was doing over the long weekend! And maybe next year I’ll eat a cannoli and watch Gone with the Wind at the same time…and forget the turkey!
The “Embassy of Hollywood”: The Beverly Hills Hotelby Suzanne Herrera McCullough
One of my favorite places to go for a night away or to have a fabulous meal is The Beverly Hills Hotel.
“Take a plunge and you might come out famous!” is what they used to say about the hotel’s pool, which is where both Raquel Welch and Robert Evans were discovered lounging about, where Esther Williams took her daily swim every morning and where Fred Astaire circled the deck in front of the elegantly-appointed cabanas in his graceful signature dance walk.
“There were so many beautiful stars there and so much action,” recalled Robert Wagner in describing the hotel’s show business heyday. “It was a great place for a young actor to be recognized, with lots of after-parties and business meetings”.
Still the perfect place to be seen, this iconic pool has just been resurfaced after a four month multimillion-dollar renovation befitting “the pink palace”, which was named the first historic landmark in Beverly Hills in 2012, turned 100 years old last year.
The Beverly Hills Hotel opened on May 12, 1912, before there was even a city called Beverly Hills. By 1914, the area had attracted enough residents to incorporate as a city, and famous Hollywood stars like Will Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks soon built homes there, turning the bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel into real estate gold!
“Everything was custom-designed to preserve what the hotel represents: the glamour, the pink and the green stripes” renowned designer Adam Tihany recently said in describing the current renovation, adding “we’re creating one of the most romantic spots in L.A. to dine alfresco.”
One cannot mention The Beverly Hills Hotel without thinking of the legendary Polo Lounge. One of the most iconic and historic landmarks of Hollywood, the beloved 73-year old Polo Lounge also has been reintroduced to the world after a complete two month restoration. “The Polo Lounge is lovingly referred to as ‘Hollywood’s commissary’ and will forever be a timeless fixture in the community,” said Ed Mady, Regional Director, West Coast, USA and General Manager.
Many Hollywood royalty, along with the world’s rich and famous, for decades have called the Polo Lounge home. This iconic restaurant has a rich history in celebrity stories and showbiz deal-making. Charlie Chaplin had a standing reservation for booth #1 for decades, which simply remained empty if he didn’t show up.
In the 1940’s, Marlene Dietrich–a frequent hotel guest and a one-time resident–eradicated the “no slacks for women” dress code when refusing to wear a skirt in the Polo Lounge. While writing this, I thought of my late mother in-law, who called herself “Minka” and was the founder of Beverly Hills’ famed Minka’s Bath and Closet Shop.
I’ve heard many stories about how—while breaking ground as a successful local businesswoman–she was actually one of the first women to wear slacks in Beverly Hills. Now I know where Marlene Dietrich got the idea!
If you ever find yourself in Beverly Hills and you have never been to The Beverly Hills Hotel, treat yourself and take a peek. It’s an experience you’ll never forget!
Mothers Day Memories of Mom…and Lucille Ballby Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Last weekend was Mother’s Day, and although my Mom is no longer with us, I have wonderful and very funny memories of her. I always called her “The Hispanic Lucille Ball”, and I have the stories to prove it. My mom and I would sit together eating popcorn and watch the I Love Lucy show and I would laugh at the funny lady who reminded me of my mom!
Lucille Ball, Classic Hollywood starlet, irrepressible queen of television comedy and former leggy showgirl, appeared in 72 movies during her long career, including a string of second-tier films in the 40’s that earned her the unofficial title “Queen of the B’s”.
In one of her earliest films, Dance, Girl, Dance, she was introduced to a handsome Cuban bandleader, Desi Arnaz.
The two appeared together in Lucy’s next film, Too Many Girls, and before 1940 ended, the pair fell so madly in love they eloped and were married.
In 1951, nearly 40 years old, Lucy gave birth to their first child, Lucie Desiree Arnaz. A year and a half later, their second child, Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV (Desi Jr.), was born. Success in show business—Lucille Ball had one of the longest and most influential careers in Hollywood history—can come with a personal price, however, and Lucy and Desi were divorced in 1960.
In addition to producing, directing, and starring in a long run of hit comedies including I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy, Lucille Ball became the first woman to run a major television studio. Desilu Productions brought us some of the most iconic shows of Classic Television, including My Three Sons, Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible.
Everybody has their favorite episodes of I Love Lucy. Here are two of mine: the famous chocolate factory scene in season 2’s “Job Switching” episode…
…and the first season’s “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” as the “Vitameatavegamin girl!”
Of course there are countless others, truly too many to mention.
Lucille Ball was nothing if not outspoken, and among my favorite Lucy quotes are “I’d rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven’t,” and “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”
Because I’m such a fan, last year for Valentine’s Day my family gave me the complete collection of I Love Lucy shows on DVD. So now every chance I get, I gather my granddaughters and we watch an episode, eat popcorn, and laugh.
I thank my Mom and Lucille Ball for the many hours of joy I shared with them growing up and the many more laughs I’ll share with the next generation. I miss you Mom!
My Mornings With MarlonBy Bob McCullough
We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine is Marlon Brando on Sunday mornings.
While my friends are out on golf courses, tennis courts, sailboats, or at the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel Sunday buffet, my idea of self-indulgence is getting up while the house is quiet (even the dog’s still asleep, hopefully), tuning in to Turner Classic Movies or Netflix, and finding any movie starring Marlon Brando.
I’ve watched The Wild One no fewer than 100 times, and I’d sit through it another 100 just to see him turn to “Mildred” (played by Peggy Maley) and answer her question about what he’s rebelling against with “Whaddaya got?” Sporting the iconic sideburns that inspired Elvis Presley’s hairstyle four years later, Brando’s subtle moodiness and extemporaneous “method” moments are simply magnetic.
The other Hollywood screen moment I’ll stay up all night waiting to see occurs in On The Waterfront when Brando’s “Terry Malloy” and “Edie Doyle” (Eva Marie Saint) are on the playground swings. Eva Marie Saint inadvertently drops one of her gloves and without hesitating, Brando picks it up. Her face tells us she expects him to hand the glove back to her, but instead he keeps it and puts it on his own hand. His fingers in her glove…man, that says it all. That scene and Brando’s instincts, among so many others in the film, simply transcend mere “acting”. Watch it now and tell me it’s not great–
What attracts me so much to Brando isn’t really his celebrity or his Hollywood status…but his commitment to “the moment” of these scenes, to the extent that you really believe that—even though you may have seen it a bazillion times before–anything could happen simply because the character and the moment are so genuine and unpredictable Yes, it’s acting…but more than that, it’s being. Obviously, I’m not alone in my appreciation for Marlon Brando, as he’s considered one of the most influential actors of the 20th Century, with six Academy Award nominations, two Oscar wins, and amazing performances in a body of work that swings from Guys and Dolls to The Godfather. Such range of characterizations in Hollywood is rare indeed.
Brando’s erratic and controversial personal life is the stuff of legend, and we’ve all read accounts of his jaw-breaking encounters with paparazzi, his myriad romantic adventures (starting with Marilyn Monroe, no less), and his frequently tragic family issues. But if you really want to get into the head of the man, his starkly candid, highly personal and beautifully written (with Robert Lindsey) autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me is a “must read”. If you’re as big a Marlon Brando fan as I am—and I’ve worked with a lot of other Oscar winners and really amazing actors—be warned: you won’t be able to put this book down!
My Life with Jonathan Wintersby Bob McCullough
Well, it’s been a week or so now since he went “on hiatus”, as he himself would say, but I wouldn’t be surprised to bump into Jonathan Winters on my next trip to Von’s.
Winters was that kind of guy: a master of surprise, an off-the-wall, verbal magician with a top hat full of delightful surprises that he simply couldn’t help but share no matter where he was or who he was with. Winters had the uncanny ability to turn the most mundane place into his stage, something I personally experienced dozens of times over the years in Montecito and Santa Barbara.
Winters lived just blocks from us. After moving to Montecito many years ago, I soon learned not to schedule local errands too precisely because there was always a chance I’d run into him just about…anywhere. The local bank. Lucky’s Restaurant. The neighborhood market. Tecolete Books, Montecito’s literary gem. The Upper Village Chevron station. And when he caught my eye the very first time, I—like any slobbering fan of his—took the opportunity to formally introduce myself and to tell him how much I’d always enjoyed his work and he’d summarily interrupt me and the unpredictable would begin.
Once, while standing in line at the bank, he turned and whispered to me “I’ve got something to show you,” and he pulled a dollar bill out of his pocket. Then, as though sharing some international currency secret, he went on the most dazzling riff about George Washington’s picture and how Martha was standing just off to the side which explains the painful look on George’s face, and…fifteen minutes later, he had a dozen people in that bank in absolute side-ache laughter. And then, having told this entirely extemporaneous story about George Washington, he stuffed the dollar bill back into his pocket and whispered “Now don’t tell anybody…”
When our kids were younger—and they had no idea that Winters was an iconic comedy legend dating back to The Tonight Show with Jack Paar—we’d be having Sunday breakfast at The San Ysidro Pharmacy in Montecito’s Upper Village and Winters would spot us at a nearby table…and suddenly we had a new waiter! The kids were surprised and bewildered as Winters would hand a pair of tea spoons to them with “You’re going to need these to defend yourself against the eggs.”
Random? You bet. Genius? Undeniably.
Winters was truly a gift to Santa Barbara, to Montecito, to his neighbors, and to the perfect strangers he encountered. His was the gift of life…and now I’m heading over to the market to see if I can’t bump into him one last time.
A 50-year debate: Stones or Beatles?by Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Fifty years ago this month, The Beatles first saw the Stones performing on April 14th, 1963 in London’s Crawdaddy Club, packed with screaming girls going crazy!
In his 1998 book Stoned: A Memoir of London in the 1960s, Andrew Loog Oldham, The Stone’s first manger and now a Sirius XM deejay’, wrote “It was a match made in heaven, rampant youth colliding”.
The night the two bands met, they stayed up until 4am, as George Harrison lobbied Decca Records, already shamed by failing to sign The Fab Four the year before, to sign the Stones…and Oldham closed the deal.
“If Decca’s doorman started whistling, they would have signed him,” said the humble Oldham. Desperate to find a song for his new group, Oldham saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney getting out of a taxi and they later gave the Stones I Wanna Be Your Man. That song was released by the Stones in November 1963, hitting No.12 on the British charts, and starting the bands’ commercial rivalry.
Rumor has it McCartney turned Jagger on to pot; not long after, a stoned Jagger and Brian Jones sang backup on The Beatles’ 1966 hit Yellow Submarine.
The Stones recently honored those days by opening their 50th anniversary concert in 2012 with their only Beatles song, I Wanna Be Your Man.So who was the best band?
I guess it depends upon whom you ask. Many considered the Stones as “the bad boys of rock and roll” in contrast to the Beatles who were the clean-cut “good boys”.
Which ever band you favor, there is one thing we can all agree on: We’ll never again see anything like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, as both groups define Rock Star Royalty!
I’m sure the debate will rage on: Bob will insist that the Stones are the best pure rock band, and I will remind him that The Beatles have had much more of a profound influence on all musical genres. Besides, Paul was more my type… really cute!
“Now it’s time to say goodbye…” to Annette Funicelloby Bob McCullough
I was ten years old when I discovered The Mickey Mouse Club, and for the next couple of years there was no doubt what I was doing as soon as I got home from school: watching Annette Funicello, Cubby O’Brien, Tommy Cole, and the other Mouseketeers sing, dance, and enjoy personal friendship with Mickey Mouse himself!
I’m sure I was more affected by Jimmy Dodd’s homily-lectures about “making the right choices in life” when I saw Annette sitting at his knee, simply because she was, somehow, everyone pre-teen boy’s favorite girl.
All my classmates knew every word of the show’s theme song, and most mornings you could hear it ringing down the hallways at Hawthorne Elementary School.
But the show’s daily closer always featured the Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater, with lyrics that echo in our hearts today with the loss of Annette. Read those lyrics and tell me you don’t hear the melody playing:Come along and sing our song and join our family M-I-C K-E-Y
M-O-U-S-E Through the years we’ll all
wherever we may be.
M-O-U-S-E Mickey Mouse
forever let us hold our
banner high. Now its time to say goodbye
to all our company. M-I-C
see you real soon
why? because we like you
Annette was unique, having crossed the threshold from child performer to successful film icon in a series of “Beach Party” movies, including Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, and my personal favorite (!) Beach Blanket Bingo. I defy you to watch any one of those without laughing out loud at…well, ourselves!
And then there are Annette’s timeless pop songs like Tall Paul, and Pineapple Princess, and her long career in guest-starring television roles on shows like Zorro, Spin and Marty, and Walt Disney Presents, which was followed by her work in movies like The Shaggy Dog, and Babes in Toyland.
When her film career wound down and she had gone public with her illness, Annette—the living definition of “indefatigable”—wrote her autobiography A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: My Story, and became a spokeswoman, advocate, and entrepreneur with her Annette Funicello Collectible Bear Company and her fragrance line Cello, by Annette.
There aren’t many celebrities instantly recognizable by just their first name. “Annette” will always be one of them, and the joy she brought to our generation will always live with us.
So…Come along and sing the song… And join the jamboree…
“UNSINKABLE” – A memoir of booze, love, and a superstar Hollywood life!by Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Someone recently said that good singers make good actors, which is true for the great Debbie Reynolds, who must have been exhausted this week after making the rounds of several T.V. talk shows to promote her new book, Unsinkable.
Reynolds has been in show business for more than 60 years, beginning as an ingenue singing a novelty tune called “Aba Daba Honeymoon” in one of her first films, a Jane Powell/Ricardo Montalban 1950 vehicle called Two Weeks With Love.
Today Debbie Reynolds is considered Hollywood royalty, continuing to work with names like Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. Reynolds has made some classic films along the way including Singing in the Rain, with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.
She admits she’s “kissed a lot of frogs” and that she knows what it’s like “to have your personal life thrown open in the headlines like a cheap suitcase,” she says in her new book Unsinkable.
She comments that she had three marriages that gave her a great son and daughter. But her most famous marital episode occurred in 1959 when her husband, crooner Eddie Fisher, left her for her friend Elizabeth Taylor.
“I warned Eddie that she’d kick him out in a year and a half-and that’s exactly what happened when Elizabeth fell in love with Richard Burton.”
When asked what she did for her 81st birthday on April 1st, she said she did what she knows best: talk! And with her new book, she has plenty to talk about.
I remember growing up and seeing my parents glued to the TV, hoping to get a glimpse of Liz Taylor and Eddie Fisher and all the Hollywood gossip. Nothing has changed in 50 years, except we have more channels to get that fix!
We salute the great “Unsinkable” Debbie Reynolds!
Changing Tides as Hollywood Royalty Goes to TVby Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Even with the A-list creative team of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet and Oscar-winner Barry Levinson on board, the film has been criticized for suggesting that Spector may not have committed the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in February of 2003.
Given that, what caught my eye is just how much things have changed in the entertainment industry. In the past, it was almost impossible for a television actor to cross over into feature film roles.
There have been exceptions, of course: Clint Eastwood, John Travolta, and George Clooney…but they are exceptions among the hundreds of TV performers who have tried to make that transition to the big screen.
Ten years ago an Oscar-winner would never have considered a television series or even a two-hour movie. But today, TV stars are just trying to hang on to their position among casting directors who now have the ability to bring major film stars onto the small screen.
Among those feature players who have already appeared in a slew of network and cable productions are Dennis Quaid, Kevin Bacon, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sigourney Weaver, and Ellen Barkin. And the great Al Pacino and Helen Mirren have made several TV appearances to date.
With the consumer economy continuing to struggle, and with distribution channels like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and the growing cable universe changing the viewing habits of everyone, theatrical box office is plummeting and studios are simply not making the number of feature films or paying the talent fees of the past. So the big question becomes: once motion picture royalty crosses over to TV, will we still pay to see them on the big screen…and will TV be better for it?
50 Years Later…The Rolling Stones Are Still the Hottest Ticket Out There!by Bob McCullough
With the uptick in the economy, the 2013 Rock-Pop-Country concert tour season is heating up quickly with schedules announced by every act from Lady Gaga to the Who to Fleetwood Mac. What’s missing is the most highly-rumored tour of all, the only one predicted to be an automatic sellout no matter the size of the venue: The Rolling Stones!
The expected “50 Years & Counting” Tour fuels the media rumor mill every day with speculation of the exact dates, arena locations, and ticket availability…with nothing confirmed by The Stones, other than Mick Jagger’s comment that “We’ll announce it when we’ve figured it out.” With fewer than 20 U.S. tour dates expected, promoter Virgin Music is building the tension to the max.
Like many others of my generation, rock concerts were the fix for our music jones…and there was no greater jolt than a night spent with the Stones. I was front-and-center at the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas when it pulled into the Inglewood Great Western Forum on Sunday, July 13, 1975, and–second only to a night spent personally talking to Chuck Berry at The Whiskey A Go-Go in 1974–it remains a significant rock ‘n roll memory.
The show was pure theatrical extravagance, featuring a spectacular steel lotus flower sitting center stage in a shaft of white light. The place then began to reverberate with the opening bass-guitar intro to “Honky Tonk Woman”, and the flower opened up to reveal the band. The show also featured Billy Preston at a white piano, as well as a bizarre 30-foot tall inflated phallus which only contributed to the over-the-top vibe. Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts were at their performing peak that night, and while the rest of the tour became known as a model for rock-chaos, that night in Inglewood was magic. Stand by for this year’s tour dates; if you can snag a ticket, pick up a pair and send ’em our way!
The Ageless, Classic Fondaby Suzanne Herrera McCullough
I’d be hard-pressed to think of an actress in her 70’s that has accomplished as much in life as Jane Fonda…and she shows no signs of slowing down.
Jane Fonda (born Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda; December 21, 1937)–actress, writer, political activist, former model, and Fitness guru–has been in the news a lot lately.
Jane’s in negotiations to appear in This Is Where I Leave You, starring Tina Fey and Justin, in which she’ll play the newly-widowed Hilly Foxman in the adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s comic 2009 novel.
Warner Brothers is looking at a late spring shoot in New York, as Jane currently has a recurring role on HBO’s The Newsroom as network owner Leona Lansing. As if that’s not enough, Jane will soon be seen playing Nancy Reagan in the upcoming Lee Daniels-directed White House saga The Butler.
Aside from her Oscar wins and remarkable acting career, Jane’s also been known for controversial political comments, including recent remarks about the “We Saw Your Boobs” lyrics sung by host Seth McFarlane at this year’s Oscars. Jane was quoted as saying “Waaay too much about women and their bodies, as though that defines us”.
HELLO? Jane, sorry to remind you, but your body has defined you in the last 50 years!
You’ve made it a lucrative second career with more than two dozen best-selling books and videos (very impressive by the way) promoting fitness and your keys to looking good!
And every time Jane Fonda steps on to any red carpet, all the press can talk about is how fabulous her body looks (it’s true) for her age or any other age for that matter! And while I agree that Seth went way overboard on the “boob song”, if you’re an actress featured onscreen during MacFarlane’s Academy Award warbling and hating it, you might think twice about how much you want to expose in your next film. The reality is that once “they” are out there, they are “OUT there”. On the other hand, you just might look at it as…good exposure.
At the end of the day, Jane Fonda is Classic Hollywood at it’s best…with a body we women can aspire to!
Remembering the “Giant” of all movie stars on her birthday!by Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Those of us who grew up watching the Academy Awards over the years remember the glamor and the classic variety show approach with super star hosts like Bob Hope (who hosted 18 times), Billy Crystal (9 shows), and Johnny Carson (5 shows) to name just a few.
But the one super star who embodied ultimate Hollywood glamor, dazzling beauty and defined “movie star” was the unforgettable Elizabeth Taylor.
Liz–born in England to American parents–would have been 81 years old today. Her film debut was in 1942’s One Born Every Minute, with her true stardom established in National Velvet in 1944.
Nobody ever had her glamorous impact on the Red Carpet, where she was famous for the spectacular jewelry she wore to the Oscars–jewelry she actually owned and never had to borrow (like most of today’s stars).
When all was said and done and Liz left the stage for the final time on March 27, 2011, she had won 2 Academy Awards for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, defined herself for the world as the ultimate movie star, and then turned her star power toward her tireless efforts at charity fundraising.
I will always think of Elizabeth Taylor during the Academy Awards…and I don’t
think we will ever see the likes of her again!
Happy Birthday Liz!
Is “New Hollywood” Simply Deja Vu All Over Again?by Bob McCullough
From the Silent Era to Talkies, from black-and-white to Technicolor-Cinemascope…from C.B. Demille to Jerry Bruckheimer…this business has always required a wide range of vision, adaptation, stamina, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Historically, it’s also required something of a symbiotic relationship between employers (studios) and the creative workforce (actors, directors, writers).
Those days may be gone forever.
“Sweetheart deals”…”In house development”… “Overhead deals”…whatever they were called over the past 30 years, relationships between star producers and directors and the major studios who wanted the guaranteed benefit of their services have now gone the way of the brontosaurus.
As a former beneficiary of such employment arrangements, I can attest to their benefits. Lavish offices, dedicated secretarial support, expense accounts, company retreats, a fridge full of Classic Coke (in frosted glass bottles, please)…and a guaranteed income for an extended period of time…what’s not to like? But the quid for the quo was nothing to sneeze at either: studios were guaranteed the on-demand 24/7 services of skilled producers, writers, and directors of proven ability to generate product that would attract an audience. No fear that a “hot” talent would be lured away by the competition, and complete assurance that product developed during a contract term would be the property of those paying for those Classic Cokes in the fridge.
Today, the fridge is empty. So is the office. So is the studio. This is the “New Hollywood” where film producers are now paying their own rent and carrying their own overhead by any means possible (and many are whining about it). With 70 percent of theatrical receipts coming from abroad, only those in control of “branded” (read: comic book) properties with budgets beyond $80-100 million can get their office rent paid with free parking and all that a studio “relationship” implies. Producers of “adult” (not porn) fare with projects inspired by story and character costing less than $20 million to produce are simply learning to do more with less…and so are all of the “creatives” involved in bringing inspiration to the screen.
So the “New Hollywood” is quickly learning what those of us in “Old Hollywood” have always known: that yes, it’s actually possible to shoot a quality film in less than 50 days, that talent will indeed work for less money upfront and share the risk/reward of backend participation (either profit or loss), and that it’s never been easy to make a movie. Okay, so maybe the next $200 million budget “Batman Goes Intergalactic” is what drives the business today.
But those producers interested in telling meaningful stories about meaningful characters while demonstrating creative and budgetary acumen–Clint Eastwood comes to mind–will always find a way around the challenges of financial and artistic survival.
Regardless of the time we live in…making movies, creating hit TV shows, cutting the million-seller record…it’s never going to be easy, and things are always going to change. At the end of the day…we love the “New Hollywood” just as we love “Old Hollywood”, for ’twas ever thus!
Sound City Documentary Brings Back Classic Rock Memoriesby Bob McCullough
The Sundance Film Festival screening of Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary brought the magical days of the 60’s-70’s L.A. Rock scene back into mainstream media awareness…and reminded those of us who were there and looking for the magic just how special those days and that place were.
The studio itself–tucked into a nondescript Van Nuys, Ca. backwater where drums, guitars, and stacked Marshall amps wouldn’t drive the neighbors to distraction–was as raw and basic as you could imagine. Think soiled brown(?) shag carpeting from floor-to-ceiling, smokey (not Marlboro’s) unfiltered air and dim lighting, and you get the idea.
The big attraction for musicians, of course, wasn’t the decor, but the unique pre-digital sound it was possible to get out of the Neve console, and the vibe of fellow rockers who seemed to live there day and night.
Everybody rehearsing and putting tracks down at Sound City worked with an obsessive passion for the best possible sound. Some–like Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Dr. John, Spirit, Tom Petty–did everything right and became legendary.
Dave Grohl is clearly one of those, and I’m thrilled that he’s brought our memories and the magic of that place back to life.
Rita Moreno Talks Straight About Latinos in The Bizby Suzanne Herrera McCullough
Having grown up in a Hispanic family myself, Rita Moreno and Cesar Romero, to name a few (very few), were major celebrities whom my parents admired and loved to watch.
So when, at age 80, Academy Award winner Rita Moreno recently spoke to the media about the challenges that still face Latinos in the entertainment industry, it caught my attention.
As the first Hispanic to win an Oscar over fifty years ago for her performance as Anita del Carmen in the famed West Side Story, she expected there would be more roles for Latinos as time went on. But to date the Puerto Rico-born performer is still the only Latina to ever win an Oscar in any acting category. “The problem is that people in casting and producing are looking for ‘Latino types’ as opposed to looking for an actor or an actress,” she said in her recent comments to the Hollywood press corps.
Ms Moreno–the first of any minority and only one of a handful of performers in showbiz history to win Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony awards–said “I believe a role doesn’t have to have a nationality unless it’s very specific in the screenplay. People should be cast because they’re good for a role, period.”
Following her West Side Story Oscar win, Moreno resisted industry type-casting and didn’t work in a major film for the next seven years, instead taking her many talents to the Broadway stage.
In 2010 The Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors honored her with a Life Achievment Award, and she was recently awarded the National Medal Of Arts by President Barack Obama.
After an 8-year relationship with Marlon Brando, Moreno married Leonard Gordon, a well-respected cardiologist who also became her manager. She continues to be active on stage and screen, and currently performs a solo autobiographical show called Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup!
My dad–one of her most fervent fans–use to say that “she can really sing and dance!” Her lifetime of achievement is testimony to that, and today her efforts to bring Latino talent into the Hollywood mainstream proves that her work is not yet done.
Congratulations, Rita on a lifetime of activism and accomplishment…we salute you!
Fleetwood Mac Ready to Rock on 2013 Tourby Bob McCullough
Rehearsals begin in two weeks for what has been hailed as one of the most significant Classic Rock events of this
or any year as Fleetwood Mac prepares to hit the road on a trans-global tour that kicks off in Columbus, Ohio on April 4th.
“2013 is going to be the year of Fleetwood Mac,” lead singer Stevie Nicks announced as she revealed their initial tour schedule, the first since 2009.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the band has remained a generational talisman since 1975 when they moved past their original blues roots of the late Sixties and broke onto the international scene with their first album featuring the collaboration of Christie & John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood. That single album produced the classic singles Over My Head, Rhiannon, and Say You Love Me…which were followed in later years by classics that included Go Your Own Way, Gold Dust Woman, and Lies.
Any band still playing together after 46 years of concerts and recording has had its fair share of drama, and Fleetwood Mac is certainly no exception. No less than a dozen high-profile members have come and gone, but McVie, Buckingham, Nicks, and Fleetwood have survived both periods of “transition” as well as unbridled mainstream success. The proof of the pudding, as always, is in the music…and this Spring promises to be filled with the sounds of musical history in the making.
Whether it’s at Madison Square Garden or The Hollywood Bowl or anywhere in between, this will not be be a show to miss. Rock on!
“Dobie Gillis” Coming to DVD? Cool, man!by Bob McCullough
As a kid, I did all I could to imitate wisguy preppie slacker Dobie Gillis (which got me in plenty of hot water at school). I never found a goofy sidekick pal like Maynard G. Krebs or the hot “chicks” featured on the show, but The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis managed to cement its place into my psyche as well as into the pop culture of an entire generation.
The show, which starred Dwayne Hickman as Dobie and Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs, told the story of an “odd couple” friendship between two young men, each of them devoted to enjoying a life filled with pretty girls and easy money…both of which remained somehow elusive. With a supporting case that included Warren Beatty, Marlo Thomas, Ellen Burstyn, Tuesday Weld, and future California Congresswoman Shiela Kuehl, the 20th Century Fox studio production became a mid-week timeslot anchor for CBS.
But I guess I’m not the only retro-fan, because the Shout! Factory nostalgia-television DVD marketers just announced that a DVD boxed set release is in pre-production , so it won’t be long before we Boomer-generation fans who grew up on the show will have their prayers answered! Time to re-visit our adolescence? Maybe…and until then, selected episodes are available here via this Amazon.com link……
As Maynard G. Krebs himself famously said, “You rang?”
J.R., we’ll miss you…by Bob McCullough
Larry Hagman. A name that will live in the annals of Classic Television, a name synonymous with class, professionalism, and dedication to his craft.
The initials “J.R.” will forever conjure up the image of the ruthless Texas oil baron and conniving elder son and eventual patriarch of CBS-TV’s iconic nighttime soap, Dallas.
It was a role that Hagman reveled in and truly inhabited, from the 1977 pilot all the way through the show’s13-year run to the 2012 TNT series revival. Even at 81 and in failing health, Hagman’s J.R. Ewing was a character who had us on the edge of our living room couches.
The only cast member to appear in all 357 series episodes, Hagman’s personal work ethic and good natured approach to the role was unparalleled. He famously became one of the most highly-paid stars in television, and was nominated for multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, and Soap Opera Digest Awards.
Hagman’s career spanned six decades, appearing in more than two dozen feature films, and double that number of television series, including his other unforgettable role opposite Barbara Eden in NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie.
He was a favorite of both his fans and those he worked with. From his co-stars to the “guys on the crew” of his shows, no one was ever more beloved.
Larry Hagman’s passing this past November brought tears to all who knew him and to all those he entertained. His longtime Dallas co-star and close friend Patrick Duffy spoke for many when he recently said of Hagman: “He was a fighter in the gentlest way, against his obstacles and for his friends. I wear his friendship with honor.”
The tears may never stop.
Memories…From One of a Kindby Suzanne Herrera McCullough
I grew up listening to Barbra Streisand and Tina Turner, their songs always in the background played on a “record player” turntable spinning vinyl LPs (which are coming back!). If that sounds like an odd musical combination, you didn’t know my mom! She loved beautiful, strong voices thateither made her smile or made her cry…
Barbra Streisand may have still been singing Memories on her recent 10-concert tour which grossed $31.3 million, but there are no signs she’s looking back. Between the December 2012 release of The Guilt Trip, in which she starred opposite Seth Rogen and her concert tour, Barbra had a great year. Quite amazing for someone celebrating a 70th birthday and more than 50 fabulous years in the biz!
Barbra was only 18 in 1960 when she opened for comedienne Phyllis Diller at New York’s Bon Soir Club…and the rest is history.
It was her 1962 Broadway debut in I Can Get It For You Wholesale where she met future husband Elliot Gould (they were married from 1963-71; she’s been married to James Brolin since 1998), and then went on to win Grammy’s Album of The Year in ’63, followed in 1964 in her “coming out” role as Fanny Brice in Broadway’s classic Funny Girl. Film critics hailed her as a superstar when she reprised the role in the 1968 feature film, an effort that earned her an Oscar (awarded as a “tie” with Katherine Hepburn for her role in Lion In Winter).
Barbra recently shared the Barclay’s Arena stage with her son Jason on her new concert tour Barbra: Back to Brooklyn. The other man in her life–Marty Erlichman, who has been her manager since the earliest days of her career—has been quoted as saying “Acting has been Barbra’s first love…and when she left Brooklyn, it was to become an actress, not a singer. Hard to imagine with that superstar voice!”
I just recently downloaded Memories from the 1975 television special Funny Girl to Funny Lady. This is one of Barbra’s best live performances ever! If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must…and this is why we love Barbra Streisand—one of a kind!