15 posts categorized "Television"


Oscars '14: The pizza man rings twice

Ellenphone300rThe 86th Academy Awards, broadcast for what seemed like forever on ABC Sunday night, was not my first Oscar rodeo.

I've watched them with hopeful but focused eyes for more years than I care to tally and covered them live twice.  That includes once when the NBC News Channel was fearless enough to place yours truly on the red carpet to schmooze celebs on their way in and out back to console the less fortunate and  congratulate the winners on their way out.

I'm proud to say I never once asked a starlet, "Who are you wearing?," which may have something to do with the fact that NBC hasn't rung me up for a return assignment.

I've seen Bob Hope and Billy Crystal dazzle, David Letterman fail miserably (1995), Whoopi Goldberg do OK three times, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin have fun (2010), James Franco and Anne Hathaway stink up the place (2011) and Ellen DeGeneres brighten up a large room with about a billion people around the world watching.

But that was 2007, when The Departed won four awards, including Best Picture.  Fast-forward to Sunday night (if we must) and two things happened that I never thought I'd see on an Academy Awards telecast:

In an ironic twist that mirrored what was probably going on in millions of homes around the world, the  Oscar telecast virtually halted to order-in some pizzas.

Even more of a shocker for me, though, was that Ellen (DeGeneres no longer necessary, thank you) had an off night.  I agree completely with the Hollywood Reporter review of the telecast that Ellen, so confident and genial on her afternoon TV gabfest, just wasn't hitting on all comic cylinders Sunday night.

Anyone can have an off night.  Heck, I was having one.  The surprise for me was that one of our most gifted comics, or perhaps the committee of writers, felt compelled to Seth MacFarlane (last year's failed host) it down into caustic dark comedy almost from the get-go.

Referring to Liza Minnelli as a Liza Minnelli impersonator and calling one of the truly great performers "sir" confirmed to me that it would be a very long evening and that someone other than Ellen determined the tone of the comedy.

Pizza350lNote to Ellen:  Next time, if there is one, do what Billy Crystal has done over and over.  Trust your gut when it comes to comedy and, most importantly, write (or at least control) your own material. 

A quick check with David Letterman could have warned Ellen of the pitfalls of treating the 3,300 or so odd mix of Hollywood young bucks, semi-elderly and elderly members of the Academy and their guests seated in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood (formerly the Kodak Theater) like devout followers of their popular TV show.

The awards themselves, once the show finally got around to them, turned out to be a diverse bag that saw 12 Years a Slave take Best Picture and Supporting Actress honors (Lupita Nyong'o), Gravity suck in lots of technical trophies (seven in all) and Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron taking home a directing golden statuette. (Click for list of winners.)

It was good to see Texan Matthew McConaughey grab the Best Actor honor for losing a ton of weight and getting under the withering skin of an AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club.


There were other bright spots, of course.

Bette Midler brought a hush over the crowd with a chilling performance of Wind Beneath My Wings as the In Memoriam tribute faded behind her.

From this aisle seat, though, the highlight came when Lupita Nyong'o, a 31-year-old Yale School of Drama grad born to Kenyan parents in Mexico but raised primarily, according to published reports, in Kenya, took the stage to accept her Supporting Actress award.

No pizza was ordered.

She didn't pause to whip out her cell phone and snap a "selfie."  Nyong'o exploded with joy, pride and respect and thanked everyone who helped her get to the most coveted spot in show business.

(Click this link.)

(Photo credits:  Ellen DeGeneres with phone and Lupita Nyong'o backstage, cbs.com/Ellen's pizza party, Los Angeles Times)











The wizard of Oscar and ch-ch-changes

The Old Man and the Plea: Bruce Dern, left, and Will Forte in "Nebraska." (Paramount Vantage)

Mark your calendars and get your popcorn and Milk Duds ready.

The Academy Awards, the pat-on-the-back movie awards telecast that matters the most, lights up ABC on March 2.

Who do you like for Best Actor? It's a very strong race this year, with Texan Matthew McConaughey the odds-on front runner for his gritty performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

My heart belongs to Bruce Dern's brilliant, downplayed turn as the elder looking for new hope in the form of a million dollar contest payoff in Nebraska. The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg sums up the Best Actor race nicely.

Click here for the Hollywood Reporter link and let me know who you favor.

 Movie Memories updates and changes

MM Logo265Because of some very exciting personal news (a beautiful new grandbaby in the family), Movie Memories is widening its central target area to include San Antonio and Central Texas as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

For all our loyal Metroplex clients, supporters and fans, nothing will change.  I will be in Dallas at least two or three days every week and more often when my Movie Memories speaking schedule requires.

The addition is that we'll now be including San Antonio, otherwise known as the original land of The Jalapeno Guy film critic 1-4 jalapeno rating system and my exciting times as movie critic at the San Antonio Express-News, the San Antonio Light, KMOL-TV, KABB-TV and Magic 105-FM radio, into the mix.

For those of you in San Antonio who may not be familiar with Movie Memories, it's a speech/presentation series dedicated to celebrating the magic of the movies, both classic and contemporary.  It goes way beyond merely showing movie clips and talking about my 30-plus years reviewing movies and traveling the world interviewing A-list movies stars.

We'll go behind the scenes of movies you think you know everything about, such as Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life and more, and I'll share some personal -- sometimes painful -- memories; such as the time I made the late, great Paul Newman cry.

So if you haven't already done so, click around on the Movie Memories website, especially on the Presentations link. 

Movie Memories presentations, lasting a little over an hour, are available for groups large and small, clubs, business meetings, conventions and senior living facilities and centers.

Please make note of the new telephone number to book Movie Memories.

It's 214-364-7364.

Hello again, San Antonio.  I'll see you at your Movie Memories presentation. 


R.I.P.: O'Toole, Fontaine, 'Billy Jack'

Peter O'Toole in his most famous role, T.E. Lawrence in "Lawrence of Arabia." (www.mirror.co.uk)

The grim reaper has been busy over the past few days.

A cinematic icon, an Oscar-winning actress and one of Hollywood's legendary rule-breakers all died between Thursday and Sunday.

The loss of Peter O'Toole, an eight-time Academy Award nominee widely known as the star of Lawrence of Arabia, hit me the hardest.  O'Toole passed away at the age of 81 Saturday, after announcing his retirement from acting in July, 2012.

Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland's little sister. (www.theguardian.com)

Hollywood also lost two other notables.  Joan Fontaine, younger sister of Academy Award-winner Olivia de Havilland, died Sunday.

A casting favorite of Alfred Hitchcock in films like Suspicion and Rebecca, Fontaine was 96.



Tom Laughlin did things his way. (www.rottentomatoes.com)

Finally, Tom Laughlin may not exactly be a household name these days.  But as Billy Jack, the tough-as-nails ex-Green Beret of 50-50 Native American and White Man ancestry, Laughlin took it to "the man," and protected students of an arts school in Billy Jack, the early '70s action-drama he starred in, directed, co-wrote (with co-star Delores Taylor) and pretty much self-marketed to widespread appeal.

Laughlin, who succumbed to complications of pneumonia, died Thursday at the age of 82.

O'Toole's death hit me the hardest, though, and not just because the "unrepentant hellraiser" (according to published reports) commanded the most marquee power.

I never met the star of Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips (1971), The Ruling Class, My Favorite Year or The Stunt Man face-to-face.  I was lucky enogh to have a telephone conversation with O'Toole in 1988, however.

I was nervous.  O'Toole, most likely spending an excrutiating two or three-hour block of time on the telephone with a seemingly neverending list of film critics to promote a so-so at best fantasy comic-horror titled High Spirits, was obviously bored and distant by the time we spoke.

In fact, the acting legend did very little to mask his boredom as we chatted and he said all the right things about a movie he had probably already filed away as minor at best. 

And you know what?  I couldn't have cared less.  Through the wonder of telephone communication, I was speaking to T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), King Henry II (Becket), Arthur Chipping (Goodbye, Mr. Chips), and, my personal favorite, Alan Swann of the raucous 1982 comedy My Favorite Year.

Directed by Richard Benjamin, My Favorite Year features O'Toole as an Erol Flynn-like movie star with a serious drinking problem who agrees to be the featured guest star on a popular U.S. variety TV show.  Swann panics, though, we he learns he'll be appearing in front of a live audience.

As Swann, O'Toole spouts one of my favorite movie lines of all time:

"I'm not an actor.  I'm a movie star!"

Rest in peace, Mr. O'Toole.

And just for the record:  Yes you are, and I'll always remember you as one of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen.


Naughty, not nice, but very funny

How many times have you considered something aptly described as "totally disgusting" a very good thing?

Shopping mall Santa Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) prepares to greet the little darlings in "Bad Santa." (Dimension Films)

I can think of exactly one.  That's Billy Bob Thornton's riveting and revolting performance as a boozing, booty chasing, conniving thief of a department store Santa with a good (but very well hidden) heart.

And here's something else.  Can you believe it's been 10 years since Thornton, the star and Academy Award-winning screenwriter of the equally disturbing Sling Blade (1996), slipped into the worn Santa suit, lit up a cigarette and greeted the kiddies as a conman St. Nick in Bad Santa?

Nor can I.  But if you're in the mood for an edgy alternative to the usual holiday season leading man, like Jimmy Stewart as squeaky clean George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life or the persistent, but kind of annoying kid in A Christmas Story, slide Bad Santa (Rated R) into the DVR, grab hold of something and hit "play."

Just to make sure everyone understands, we're not talking family entertainment here.  So wait until the kids and/or the grandkids are safely out of sight.

As Willie, Thornton, in one of his finest screen performances in my humble opinion, grovels brilliantly as a desperately lonely, womanizing alcoholic with nowhere to go but up.

Willie, of course, goes down.  Way down.



Parody, it's the hot new homage

Who says I'm not on the cutting edge of everything cinematic and trendy?

Well, plenty of people, but that's not the point.

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) once caught a fish this big! Not really, but as long as we're spoofing. (RKO Radio Pictures)

Parodies are all the rage this year.

From music videos like the Bound 3 spoof of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's Bound 2 by Seth Rogen and James Franco to feature films, videos are hotter than this year's "must-have" toy on Black Friday.

Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life appears to be the holiday target of choice this year when it comes to movies.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "One is by comedian Owen Weber and the other is from Jean-Marc Vallee, director of the Oscar contender Dallas Buyers Club.

Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character in "The Wolf of Wall Street." (thewrap.com)

"Weber recut a Wonderful Life trailer to the tune of Kanye West's  Black Skinhead, which is also heard in the first trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (opening Dec. 25).

"Weber's parody The Wolf of Bedford Falls ... depicts Jimmy Stewart's hero as a corrupt sellout to evil banker Mr. Potter," the article states.

Sacrilege or homage?

I'll say a little (actually, a lot) of both.

I know this, though.  The version of "It's a Wonderful Life" you'll see in the video below is not your mama's version of George Bailey.


Don't fret over planning your holiday party

Santa315lThe holidays are here and Movie Memories has you covered when it comes to entertainment for your event.

It is time to get serious about planning your holiday event, though.  Whether it's a corporate Christmas party, a country club holiday gathering or a retirement community seasonal celebration, the "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation arrives bearing gifts of laughter, nostalgia and holiday joy.

In a presentation lasting a little over an hour, I combine classic Christmas movie clips with behind-the-scene Hollywood insight and tales of Christmases past sure to entertain your group and inspire and touch hearts along the way.
We'll begin by boarding The Polar Express, with stops along the way at everything from White Christmas to The Santa Clause.  Of course our final holiday stop simply must be ... Well, you just have to join us to find out.
Call 972-599-2150 to book your "Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays" Movie Memories presentation today to secure your group's preferred date.

Truth?  Well, there's more truth

Most movie buffs will remember the tension-packed, screaming courtroom standoff between Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the 1992 military drama "A Few Good Men."

Jack Nicholson on the witness stand in "A Few Good Men." (Columbia Pictures)

Well, now there's another standoff between Cruise and Nicholson, and it's playing out in the Hollywood Hills.

Cruise, it seems, is wooing his former co-star to portray a boozing womanizer who happens to be the former president of the United States.

That's according to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website and other online venues.

In the upcoming El Presidente, Toothy Tom is set to play a "straight-arrow Secret Service agent.

He's assigned to protect America's worst former president, an alcoholic and womanizing sleazebag who was elevated from VP when the president died," according to the post.

Esteemed Toronto mayor Rob Ford. (zap2it.com)

If published reports turn out to be true, Cruise may have even told Nicholson, an Academy Award winner three times over, he won't make the movie without his old co-star.

Let's not be too hasty, Mr. Cruise.

Surely there's at least one other person who could pull off the role of "an alcoholic sleazebag" who also formerly wielded politial power.

I just can't think of one right now.


On Paar with Woody Allen

Paar250lI ran across something not only interesting but quite entertaining doing my research for my Richland College Emeritus plus 50 class series "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families" the other day.

Searching YouTube for Woody Allen performances, I stumbled across one of Allen's earliest TV appearances as a stand-up comedian.  There are a couple of things worth noting about Allen's guest spot on NBC's "Tonight Show" in 1962.

The first was the nutty history of the show itself.  In 1957 Paar replaced Steve Allen, my personal favorite "Tonight Show" host.  Oddly enough, the show was also marketed as "The Jack Paar Show."  When Allen finally got camera time (after being bumped three times), Paar was in the final year of hosting the show and seemed to have a cavalier attitude about it all.

In fact, it appears much like lame-duck "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno's "who gives a rat's patoot" attitude these days.

The other remarkable thing is that Woody Allen commands the network TV camera for almost nine  rapid-fire and, if I do say so myself, brilliant minutes.  That would be enough TV time for two comedians, a Top 10 list, headlines and a commercial or two on late-night TV these days.

Click the button below to see for yourself.


Tuesday afternoons with Larry

Got a little free time on Tuesday from mid-October to mid-November?  Here's your chance to see some classic movies with a Texas brand. 

It's time to register for my Brookhaven College Students 50+ class titled "Movies Set in the Lone Star State."  The five-week continuing education class, running Tuesdays from noon to 3 p.m. at Brookhaven College, begins Oct. 15 and runs through Nov. 12.

John Wayne and Richard Widmark in "The Alamo." (United Artists)
We'll watch five dandy films set in Texas in their entirety and discuss their significance and place in Texas film lore.  It all begins Oct. 15 with John Wayne's Alamo of 1960.  Other films in the series include Tender Mercies starring Robert Duvall, Hud featuring a stellar performance by Paul Newman as the title character and Places in the Heart, starring Sally Field in a memorable Oscar-winning performance. 

We'll wrap up the Brookhaven College series on Nov. 12 with The Alamo showcasing Billy Bob Thornton as a fiddle-playing Davy Crockett.

It's going to be a great series, so call Brookhaven College at 972-860-4807 to register for "Movies Set in the Lone Star State," Course No. SRCZ-1000-21103, Registration No. 859684, today.  Click here to see the class info.  Seating is limited.

Wanna savor some great movie tunes?

Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain." (MGM)
During my Enrichment Series speech at Richland College as part of the Emeritus plus 50 program recently, someone was kind enough to ask me to let the audience know where I'd be speaking next.

The answer is Chambrel at Club Hill in Garland (1245 Colonel Drive, Garland, TX 75043) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

The topic that evening will be one of my Movie Memories favorites, "Savor Those Tunes -- Great Movie Music."  For about an hour and a half, we'll see and hear some great movie tunes like Gene Kelly stomping happily through water puddles in Singin' in the Rain and so many more.

It's free and open to the public, so call the tremendous folks over at Chambrel at Club Hill at 866-868-9972 and let them know you'll be coming to share the fun.


R.I.P.: Karen Black (1939-2013)

Black325rKaren Black, one of the truly gifted movie character actresses, lost her long battle with cancer this week.

She shared a diner booth with screen boyfriend Jack Nicholson when Nicholson's character had more than a little trouble ordering some wheat toast in "Five Easy Pieces" in 1970. The actress who died at 74 also played the hooker who took off on an LSD trip with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in "Easy Rider" in 1969.

I enjoyed Black's work in all of her films, including "The Great Gatsby" (as Myrtle Wilson in 1974) and "Family Plot" (1976), where she was guided by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock in his final film.

My wife Suellen remembers Black best for something that haunts her to this day.  In the 1975 made-for-TV movie "Trilogy of Terror," the versatile actress shared the screen with a small, big-toothed statue that sprang to life -- and terrorized Black's character -- like bloody crazy.

I can think of no reason for Suellen to suffer alone.  So in Black's honor, and to celebrate a career and a skilled performance (you try working with an inanimate object), click on the link below for a little slice of "Trilogy of Terror."

Rest in peace, Ms. Black.


 A happy time for Dustin Hoffman 

Dustin Hoffman, the best story teller I had the pleasure of interviewing several times in my 30-year-plus romp around the whirl of cinematic show business, turned 76 on Aug. 8.

Hoffman300lThe two-time best actor Oscar winner ("Rain Man," "Kramer vs. Kramer") has plenty to celebrate.

As he blows out 76 candles today, the personable near living legend is likely to be thinking about how he -- with the help of some skilled physicians -- snuffed the flames on cancer.

No one is saying much about what kind of cancer Hoffman had.  According to published reports, though, the doctors recommended treatments to help prevent a future recurrence.

So happy 76th, Mr. Hoffman!  To a long and healthy life.  I have no idea what you were up to on your birthday, but I celebrated by enjoying a You Tube post of 10 great Hoffman performances.  Join me, won't you?


Four Monday mornings in September

Woody300If you enjoy movies and can spare an hour and a-half on Monday mornings (10-11:30 a.m.) from Sept. 9 through Sept. 30, join us for my "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families" non-credit Emeritus plus 50 movie class at Richland College in Dallas.

We'll get it rolling with "Talented Guys, Troubled Lives" on Sept. 9 by putting the spotlight on Woody Allen, the genius comedian, comedy writer, actor and director whose brilliance was tarnished in the eyes of many when he left girlfriend Mia Farrow for Soon-Yi, Farrow's adopted teenage daughter in 1992.

There's no denying Allen's cinematic genius, however.  Pick a clip -- any clip -- from Allen's early comedies, like "Take the Money and Run" (just below) and see if you disagree.


On Sept. 16 we'll take on "Movie Families on the Brink."  Expect for us to get into Kevin Spacey's character's mid-life crisis in "American Beauty" and Paul Newman -- in my favorite Newman performance -- driving his screen father (Melvyn Douglas) to the brink of physical breakdown as the ruthless skirt-chasing Hud in the classic Texas drama of the same name.

"Movie Families on the Brink" takes center stage on Sept. 23.  We'll focus on Marlon Brando as the crime family patriarch in "The Godfather" and the tormented, but strong-willed young woman named "Precious.:

We'll wrap this series up on Sept. 30 with "Dysfunction for Comic Fun," spotlighting the atrocious table manners of the Klumps (played by Eddie Murphy) in "The Nutty Professor" and those crazy Fockers of "Meet the Parents."

Seating is limited to an intimate 20 for "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families," so call Richland College at 972-238-6146 or 972-238-6147 to register for course number SRCZ 1000 81908 (registration number 854032) today.

'The Butler' did it and did it and did it some more

Those of you who read my Getting Reel movie column in the bimonthly newspaper The Senior Voice (and thank you for that) already know that I'm excited about the historical-drama once titled "The Butler," but now called -- due to a title dispute -- "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

Oscar winner Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland") portrays an African-American butler in the White House during several presidential administrations and witnesses history from a unique perspective in this based-on-truth drama co-starring Robin Williams (Dwight D. Eisenhower), John Cusack (Richard Nixon), Jane Fonda (Nancy Reagan) and Oprah Winfrey (the butler's wife).

If you'd like to read my Senior Voice article, click here.  To view the movie's trailer, click the the arrow on the video below.  "Lee Daniels' The Butler" opens Aug. 16.



I wonder who's Kissinger now?

"Above the Law"? It looks like former action star Steven Seagal might be promoting the Russian arms race. (Courtesy: sky.com)

Henry Kissinger, where art thou?

I suppose at the age of 90, Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State for both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and the Nobel Peace Prize winner who negotiated a settlement of the Vietnam War, is probably not available to whip this country's international affairs in shape.

That's a shame because you'll never guess who it's come down to:  An aging actor (of sorts) and a pierced, tattooed. over-the-hill athlete.

Dennis Rodman in North Korea in February, where he's apparently applauding the fact that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un "once caught a fish this big." (Courtesy: cnn.com)
You've probably heard about Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea in February.  He posed with Kim Jong Un, North Korea's Supreme Leader and Chief Rocket Launcher.  They took in a basketball game or two, posed with the masses and sipped bubbly at dinnertime.

Rodman returned to the U.S., saying something like he'd worked out all the tension between this country and North Korea.  The words had barely passed Rodman's pierced lips when North Korea's youngun -- sorry, Jong Un -- aimed his rockets at the U.S. and Austin specifically.  I'm thinking the new supreme leader failed to get an invitation to Austin's South By Southwest Film Festival, which can be a tough ticket to snag.  (This has yet to be confirmed, but I'm pretty darn sure that's what happened.)

Now, there's even bigger trouble looming on the volatile international scene.

Russia, it seems, has decided that fading Hollywood action star Stevan Seagal, who once hinted to me that he was, or had, worked in U.S. intelligence  ("I can't talk about it.  It's that secret," he said over lunch at the time.), is the perfect guy to be the -- And I am not making this up -- "face of a new campaign to promote Russian weapons."

That's right.  According to published reports, like this one posted on sky.com, "the 61-year-old American appears to be the unlikely choice to boost the
country's arms sales as it makes a push to be the world's number one

"Seagal accompanied Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to the Degtyarev gun manufacturing plant in Kovrov earlier.

"According to Russian news agencies, Mr. Rogozin said the actor may head up an international marketing campaign for the factory.

"He said: 'You're ready to fight American (manufacturers) with your teeth and
your intellect, and if Americans are prepared to promote and support you, that says we're learning new ways to work on corporate warfare markets,'" the Sky.com article states.

One of my favorite phrases is, "Well, the world has still not gotten crazy enough for me."

I admit, though, with this news it's edging plenty close.

Oh brother, Henry Kissinger, where art thou?


Go ahead, make Clint's birthday

Clint300rIf you need some inspiration to put a little pep in your step, consider this.

Near-legendary actor, director, composer and producer Clint Eastwood, who, yes, occasionally likes to chat with an empty piece of furniture before a TV audience of millions at a national political convention, turns 83 today.

What's Eastwood up to on this momentous day, you ask:  Sitting at home softly plunking keys on the piano?  Perhaps hitting the links for a little golf?  Or maybe just relaxing, contemplating his early acting roles as Jonesey in the talking-mule movie "Francis in the Navy" (1955) or his 216 episodes as feisty Rowdy Yates on the TV Western "Rawhide" from 1959 to the mid-'60s.

Clintchair326lIf you believe any of that, you rank right up there with that empty chair at last year's Republican National Convention.

Eastwood, you see, is -- as usual -- juggling future movie projects.  According to published reports, the filmmaker with the squinty eyes and low, raspy voice has put his remake of "A Star Is Born" on the back burner.

It looks like Eastwood, last in the director's chair guiding Leonardo DiCaprio through "J. Edgar" in 2011, has his late-season career sights set on Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in a big-screen adaptation of the Broadway hit musical "Jersey Boys."

"Multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Eastwood is in talks with production entity GK Films and Warner Bros. to take on the high-profile project, though neither the studio nor the production company or Eastwood's reps would confirm the negotiations," a Hollywood Reporter article states.

Maybe Eastwood will celebrate his 83rd birthday with a little sip of sherry to pay homage to the Four Seasons' first No. 1 hit in 1962 and perhaps Clint's next as a filmmaker.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Eastwood, and bottoms up!


 Brookhaven, you're all class

Thanks to DeBorah Whaley-Stephenson and all the fine folks over at Dallas' Brookhaven College for including my "Five Decades, Five Great Movie Classics" film appreciation continuing education class in their Students 50+ Education Program spring semester.

The students were all attentive and appreciative as we watched and discussed five classic films on five consecutive Thursdays in May.

We called it a wrap yesterday (May 30) with cookies and immersing ourselves with a screen full of a very young looking Jack Nicholson sparring verbally with Faye Dunaway and a grandfatherly, yet evil John Huston in "Chinatown," circa 1974.

Thanks, students, for being a terrific class.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone (and more) for my upcoming fall semester class, a look at classic films either about Texas, shot in Texas or starring Texas-based actors.  Let's fill up the classroom for that one.


(Clint Eastwood photo courtesy:  google.com/Eastwood and chair photo courtesy:  wheelercentre.com)


Happy B.D. to the 'other' Stooge

Shemp, the middle "Stooge" brother. (Courtesy: http://trakt.tv)
Had he lived an extremely long life, Shemp Howard, the lesser known "Zeppo Marx" of the Three Stooges slapstick comedy act, would have been -- ready? -- 118 today.

He didn't, of course.  Samuel Horwitz (Shemp Howard), the middle brother between elder Moe (Moses Horwitz) and younger sibling Curly (Jerome Horwitz), died from a heart attack at the age of 60 in 1955, reportedly in the backseat of a car on the way home from a boxing match.

Known by many as "the forgotten Stooge," Shemp could hold his own comically, even without big brother Moe or Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg; no relation to the Howards) around to "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk" it up.


Join us for laughs, movies, magic, lunch, music

MMMovies302You know, we've had some potentially tragic near-misses lately.  We survived the meteor that ravaged Russia.  You know, the one no scientist saw coming.

We even made it through the recent too-close-for-comfort asteroid fly-by on Feb. 15.

And, so far at least, it appears we've even passed the crisis stage in Dennis Rodman's recent visit to North Korea, where the multipierced, multitattooed former NBA elbow-slinging rebounder hammed it up with munchkin leader Kim Jong Un.

Who says spring break is only for the kids?  I say it's time to party Baby Boomer style!

I'd like to personally invite you and as many friends and loved ones you can round up to join us at Richland College's Fannin Performance Hall on Thursday, March 14 for "Music, Magic & Movies."

The gala celebration begins at 10 a.m. and includes The Levee Singers, Dallas's own legendary folkies, celebrated magician David Hira and yours truly as master of ceremonies.  In addition to serving up some heart-pumping movie memories to set the entertainment mood, I'll also have a few tricks up my sleeve.

And who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Remember, that's four hours of music, magic and movie fun for the small fee of only $15.  And a box lunch is provided.  Also, we plan to have you out of there by 2, so don't worry about fighting rush-hour traffic.  Call 972-238-6147 to register for the event (Course No. 814388) or click on this link for more info.

'Bonnie and Clyde' still wanted dead, thank you

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in a photo found by police at their Joplin, Mo. hideout in 1933.  (Courtesy:  http://en.wikipedia.org)

Both members of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde are quite dead.  Still, they can't get away.

Movie Memories and the Richland College Emeritus plus 50 program has a dandy day bus trip planned for April 20. We're forming a posse to retrace the famous outlaw's steps.

Once again, it is my goal to make Richland Emeritus plus 50 leader Mitzi Werther order a bigger bus.  But I need your help to do that.

It's time to sign up for the "Bonnie and Clyde Bus Tour."  It all kicks off with a screening of the 1967 Oscar-nominated crime-spree classic "Bonnie and Clyde" Friday evening, April 19.  The next morning, we'll get on a comfortable bus and begin our tour at the CRM Studios in Las Colinas.  Tim Eaton, who so eloquently guided us around Waxahachie last year, is back to show us around celebrity-themed dressing rooms at the CRM studios.

After lunch, we'll tour Dallas-area locales where notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde gunned down two law enforcement officers, other related sites of interest and finally visit the couple's grave sites, which are not together in case you are wondering.

Charles Heard, author, cinephile and collector of movie memorabilia, will guide us along the Bonnie and Clyde part of the tour.  Sign up early, please.  Once the bus is full, it's full.  You can call 972-238-6147 to register for the bus tour.  Here's a link with all the info:  http://www.richlandcollege.edu/emeritus/trips.php


Jones, life of the 'Globes' party ... not

Tommy Lee Jones probably not having the time of his life at the Golden Globes this year. (Courtesy: NBC-TV)
The last thing Tommy Lee Jones needs is someone like me to spring to his defense, but here I go anyway.

If any kind of publicity really is good publicity, San Antonio's part-time resident Oscar winner is having a marvelous morning.

This is the day after the night before for "Golden Globes" watchers, analysts, hangers-on, genuine movie stars, other legit members of the movie-making community and voters of the Golden Globes themselves, a minute voting group of usually less than 100 compared to Oscar's nearly 6,000.

On a morning after that should be abuzz with Ben Affleck's double-whammy "Argo" win for Best Picture -- Drama and Director (Affleck) (knocking out heavyweights like "Lincoln" and director Steven Spielberg, for instance) or even Lifetime Achievement Award winner Jodie Foster's terse, rambling, edgy declaration that she is (drum roll, please) single, many are focusing on Jones' grumpy-appearing reaction to Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell goofing around before presenting the Best Actress -- Musical or Comedy prize as everyone around Jones roared with laughter.

Granted, Jones sat sullen and stone-faced as the two former "SNL" stars-turned-movie actors poked fun at Meryl Streep, Jones' "Hope Springs" co-star who missed the awards gala due to a bout with the flu.  Perhaps Jones, who I've seen downright giddy -- like at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. premiere of "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," which Jones starred in and directed (and received an extended standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival that year) in Del Rio in the fall of 2005, was miffed that someone was taking comic potshots at his "Hope Springs" co-star.

Maybe Jones was extra glum because he lost earlier for his work in "Lincoln," or that "Lincoln" was virtually shut out all evening except for Daniel Day-Lewis' Best Actor-Drama win for his superb portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.

Or maybe it was unfortunate that Jones -- an extremely serious fellow (outwardly at least most of the time), was featured so prominently so close to the stage.  For my money, that's a shot-grabbing seat perfectly suited for the ever-mischievous Jack Nicholson in sunglasses, noticeably missing in action again this year.

Of course there is one other possibility:  that what we saw last night was Jones' happy face.

Don't believe that for a second.  What happened last night with Jones was just one of the oddities in a very odd but strangely entertaining "Golden Globes" telecast that should merely rank as a sideshow along the path to the main attraction, otherwise known as the Academy Awards (Feb. 24 on ABC).

 Old year's resolutions

It took me a while, decades in fact, but I've finally gotten a little smarter about New Year's resolutions.

I'm not making them anymore.

Instead, this year, I'm going back to make right on some busted resolutions from my past.

Age 7 (1954) -- After an unfortunate and soul crushing accident while asleep and spending the night at a friend's house across the street from Granny and Wally's (grandparents), I vowed that New Year 1954 would be the year that I would never wet the bed again.

That one worked itself out, thanks, I suppose, to aging a little.  Or, come to think of it, it might have had something to do with cutting down on giant Fizzies drinks shortly before bedtime.

Remember Fizzies, those giant candy pills that we plopped into a glasses of water to make our own soft drinks in the '50s and '60s?  Well, don't tell your kids or grandchildren, but Fizzies are back. (If the kids are coming over and Fizzies are on the menu, do yourself a favor and dig out the plastic sheets.)

Age 12 (1959) -- All the kids I admired on TV in the 1950s like Ricky Nelson ("The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet"), Tommy Kirk ("Mickey Mouse Club") and Jerry Mathers ("Leave It To Beaver") were slim.  Naturally, I assumed that I was too, especially since my older brother fit the sleek build profile.

Ricky Nelson, looking cool and slim in 1959. (Courtesy: examiner.com)
Imagine my horror, then, when my Mother, who always made sure my brother and I started each new school year off with a new pair of Levi's and shoes, marched me into the Penney's Boys Department.

Someone could probably ram a hot metal rod though my brain without erasing the self esteem-crushing memory of what the salesman told my Mom:

"Well, we'll need to take this young man over to the Husky Boys section of Levi's."

That word "husky," which I still hate, hit me like a lightning bolt.  I clearly heard what the Demon From Hell (Opinions stated by this writer do, indeed, reflect the opinions of this publication) Penney's sales clerk said to my Mother.

When it settled uneasily into my rattled psyche, however, it was recorded to last until the end of time (way past when the Mayans shut everything down in mid-December) thusly:

"Would you like me to just take him out back and put him out of his misery now, or would you prefer to subject him to a lifetime of struggling to zip up his jackets because the zipper fasteners will forever be out of sight below his bulging belly?"

Mom opted to let me live, and I determined in 1959 to fight my way out of the Husky Dept.  It took some time.  If you catch me in a good place on my lifelong yo-yo weight cycle, though, I'm out of the husky (now, thankfully called "relaxed fit") section, at least until the next predictable relapse. 

Predictable?  Yeah-huh.  It almost always coincides with a week-long sale of Blue Bell Ice Cream at 10 pints for $10.  Addiction is a brutal mistress, but I can control even that when I grit my teeth and concentrate.

All I have to do is recall the painful sound of my stiff new Levi Husky jeans rubbing together between my legs and making an ear-piercing (to me, at least) "swish, swish" sound as I walked the shiny, freshly waxed halls of Robert E. Lee Junior High School in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Lunch cost 35 cents back then.  Some of us decked out in Levi's Huskies as our teen years loomed dead ahead and the 1950s were about to bow out in favor of the gritty '60s remember that an ice cream bar only cost a nickel in the lunchroom.

At least one of us recalls that when Mistress Sweet Tooth had us firmly in her grisly grasp, you could get right (until guilt took over) with seven Fudgesicles for that 35 cents.