lazypadawan: (Default)
Honoring the Batman fans who had their lives stolen from them 7/20/12:

Jessica Ghawi (Redfield), 24
Jonathan Blunk, 26
Alexander J. "A.J." Boik, 18
Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress USAF reserves, 29
Gordon Cowden, 51
Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer USN, 27
Matthew McQuinn, 27
Micayla "Cayla" Medek, 23
Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6
Alex Sullivan, 27
Alex Teves, 24
Rebecca Wingo, 32
lazypadawan: (Default)

"The Monkees" went off the air before I was born but I saw the re-runs on t.v. in the '70s and again in the late '80s after the group had a comeback hit in 1986 with "That Was Then, This Is Now." The four members were put together for a musical sitcom very loosely based on The Beatles, a precursor of "boy band" acts that emerged in the '80s and '90s.

Davy Jones was known as The Cute Monkee. He was a short guy (he became an amateur jockey in his 50s) but he had boyish good looks, charm, and that distinctive accent. (American chicks dig accents, even from northern England). By the time he was cast for the show, he was already an experienced actor as well as a song and dance man.

In his post-Monkees years, he appeared in various t.v. shows over the next several decades and attempted to get a solo career off the ground in the '70s. His best-known t.v. appearance was in a pop culture confluence of epic proportions: "The Brady Bunch." In this famous episode, Marcia struggles to get Davy Jones to perform at a dance. But once a Monkee, always a Monkee. Every great now and then he'd do a reunion tour and he frequently performed on his own over the years. If Mike Nesmith was the Harrison Ford of The Monkees, Davy was definitely the Mark Hamill. He always seemed to have a cheery upbeat attitude and seemed happy with his family and his horse farm.

R.I.P., Davy.
lazypadawan: (Default)
This Apple user since 1985 and Pixar fan owes a debt of gratitude to Steve Jobs, one of the greatest innovators and marketing geniuses of our time, perhaps of all time.

Rest easy, Steve and don't worry. Everyone knows the Lord is a Mac user ;).
lazypadawan: (Force ghost) posted today that artist Kazuhiko Sano, who did the style-B ROTJ poster and the poster of its 1985 re-release among others, died last week. No age was given. Sano's poster was supposed to be the one for the film's release--that's why it's got all of the characters on it--while the one with the hands holding up a lightsaber was supposed to be the teaser but for whatever reason, Sano's poster was delayed and the teaser became the release poster. Sano's art was used in ads a few weeks into its release and I think it might have been put up in some theaters as well.

Aaaand, as Sue Rostoni herself noted in a Tweet back in January or something, she will step down from her position as Star Wars book editor at Lucasfilm in July. If you want the job, Lucasfilm Recruiting has been on Twitter trolling for a replacement. Really! Sadly, I don't have a zillion years' experience at some big NYC publisher editing books.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Tinseltown is just that much dimmer now that one of its greatest stars has passed away.

As I noted on my Twitter-tweet, Elizabeth Taylor was one of the last of the true movie stars and at the same time perhaps the first modern celebrity. The Liz Taylor of my lifetime played out her dramas not on the silver screen but in People magazine, the National Enquirer, Star, and other gossip rags/tabloids. She sure packed in a lot of living in 79 years. There were her eight marriages to seven different men: a hotel heir, a film director, her best friend's husband, the alcoholic and possibly abusive love of her life, a U.S. Senator, and a regular Joe named Larry Fortensky. There were her problems with pills and alcohol. There was her struggle with her weight. There was her strange but unshakable friendship with Michael Jackson. She suffered with poor health for years: skin cancer, heart problems, hip problems, a brain tumor, etc..

But she was also known as a loving mom and grandma. After her friend Rock Hudson died from AIDS in the 1980s, she was the first out of the gate in Hollywood to raise money for research at a time when there was a lot fear and not a lot of accurate information about AIDS.

In a way, it's somewhat unfortunate that Elizabeth Taylor the celebrity overshadowed Elizabeth Taylor the actress. People have almost forgotten how good she was in her prime, from the time as a teen actress in "National Velvet" to her string of awesome performances in the 1950s and '60s. Heck, I thought "Cleopatra" was pretty entertaining.

There was an older guy at a former job who told me he'd spotted Taylor in person, just by chance, on two separate occasions in New York City back in the '60s. "Wow," he'd said. "Those eyes!" He said she was the most mesmerizing person he'd ever seen. I can't think of too many people around today with that kind of charisma.
lazypadawan: (Default)
I'm an occasional reader at Libertas Film Magazine, so I'd missed this post about Irvin Kershner until a SWPAS reader alerted me to it. This is from the perspective of someone who got to know Kershner personally and it's such a terrific piece, Kershner's son David posted a thank you in the comments section:

And here's a bit more from the same site:
lazypadawan: (Default)
Today marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder.

I was 11 years old at the time and I remember it well. Lennon was poised for a huge comeback with his new album “Double Fantasy” after being MIA for most of the ‘70s. I remember going to the local drug store that night with my mom for something and seeing on the stands all of the magazines featuring interviews with Lennon promoting the album. I went to bed that night around 10 p.m. and when I reported for breakfast the next morning, my mom told me some crazy man had killed Lennon overnight. It was all over the morning news shows and they couldn't stop talking about it at school.

Even an era when there was only one 24 hour cable news network, which we didn’t have at Chez lazypadawan at the time, or the internet, I recall the endless wall-to-wall coverage. Remember how it was with Michael Jackson or Princess Diana back in ’97? You pretty much have the same idea, only with a smaller number of outlets.

Lennon’s death was a very big deal. Not only was yet another beloved rock ‘n roll icon from the baby boomers’ youth gone prematurely, as with Elvis Presley three years earlier, two things happened with the end of Lennon’s life. What was perhaps the most crushing consequence at the time was that it forever ended any possibility of a Beatles reunion, something its legions of fans had hoped for since The Fab Four called it quits in 1970. But the other consequence was far darker. John Lennon was the first major celebrity to die at the hands of an obsessed fan. The explosion of popular media in the 20th century ended up making entertainers targets for assassination in the same way only politicians or aristocrats had been targeted in the past. Celebrities for the first time had to fear their public. The end of the studio system in Hollywood took away the protection that came with studio control. Lennon had no bodyguards and it was no secret where he lived. The man who killed Lennon, Mark Chapman, had a pretty easy time finding his target.

Chapman wasn't the last obsessed "fan" to end up in the headlines nor was Lennon the last victim. John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan in 1981 to impress the object of his obsession, Jodie Foster. Actress Theresa Saldana survived an attack by a stalker in 1982. Actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a fan in 1989. Celebrities like Madonna and Brad Pitt have had stalkers and crazy people break into their homes. David Letterman had to contend with for years a woman who claimed she was his wife.

Lennon was neither a hero or a villain to me but he was a talented, confounding figure full of contradictions. The guy who sang about how nice it would be not to have possessions was quite wealthy. The guy who had been an absent father to his first son Julian was very hands-on with his second son Sean. In the '60s, he (in)famously said The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, but at one point in the '70s, he'd become a born-again Christian. I once saw an appearance he did on The Dick Cavett Show, re-run on VH-1, and he talked about the value of marriage. Yet he cheated on first wife Cynthia and on Yoko Ono, though Yoko helped pick out the mistress. Oh, don't get me started on Yoko. Lennon was very much a symbol of the '60s-'70s antiwar era but he wasn't always on board with whatever idea was trendy at the moment. At the time of his death, he had given up the hard drugs and had reunited with Yoko. He seemed he had it together again. Would he have kept it together over the long-term? We'll never know.
lazypadawan: (Default)

Star Wars comics artist Al Williamson passed away on June 12 at the age of 79. Williamson had a long career in comics working on titles like Flash Gordon and Spider Girl and working on daily comic strips before he was chosen to work on the TESB comic book adaptation and on the Star Wars daily strip in the early 1980s. He did other Star Wars projects over the years, including the ROTJ comic book adaptation and some projects for Dark Horse through the 1990s. His last Star Wars project was inking the TPM comic book adaptation.
lazypadawan: (cherishedmemory)
Like many GenX-ers, "Diff'rent Strokes" was appointment t.v. for me. Yep, I even remember when Mrs. Garrett was on the show before she went to "The Facts of Life." If you're too young or never saw the reruns, it told the tale of a rich guy bringing in the orphaned sons of his deceased housekeeper to live a life of fabulousness in a New York penthouse. The kicker was the two boys were black and the rich guy and his tween daughter Kimberly were white. Unlike "The Jeffersons" where race and politics were always upfront and center, "Diff'rent Strokes" showed everyone getting along famously and most of the plots were usual kid stuff situations.

Gary Coleman was easily the star of the show. Funny and adorable, he created the pop culture catchphrase, "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" The show was on for almost a decade, but when it ended, things got rough for its three young stars.

Todd Bridges, who played older brother Willis, had every problem imaginable including time in prison and a murder rap. He struggled with severe drug addiction for years.

Dana Plato, who played Kimberly, also struggled with drugs, leading her to such bizarre stunts as robbing a video store in 1991 and appearing in a porn flick. Plato died of a drug overdose in 1999.

Then there was Coleman. His parents took all of his money, leaving him broke. Hollywood stopped knocking once DS went off the air and he'd suffered from poor health due to kidney disease since he was five. Just a few years ago, he was working store security and when a fan recognized him, he assaulted her. Apparently, Coleman had suffered two seizures recently and had suffered a third, causing him to fall and suffer a brain hemmorrhage. Coleman was 42 and penniless.

Maybe it's not rational to believe in curses, but if that's not cursed, I don't know what is.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Fantasy artist Frank Frazetta passed away today. Frazetta popularized the sort of muscly, loincloth-and-metal bra, broadsword-wielding fantasy art that influenced artists like Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell. His work spanned comic strips, comic books, book covers, album covers, and poster art.

Frazetta was 82. After the death of his wife last year, family members began feuding over ownership of Frazetta's paintings. The issue might be resolved for the moment; hopefully it won't flare up again.
lazypadawan: (cherishedmemory)

Horne passed away today at age 92. It's hard for me to think of her as being that old, mostly because even into her '80s she looked much younger than she really was.

As I posted on Twitter, she was talented, a pioneer, and above all, a class act.
lazypadawan: (Default)
As I tweeted yesterday, the death of former Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren made me feel old. Granted, McLaren was old enough to be my dad but it's yet another background figure in the pop culture world I grew up in who has gone off to the Other Side. All of the punk rock guys seem to either have died really young or turned out to have been surprisingly old (but not that old) once their obits were written; case in point was the death of The Cramps frontman Lux Interior last year. How could he have been in his 60s? I saw him perform in a g-string during a show in 1990.

Anyway, McLaren was an interesting figure. He was to '70s British punk rock what Bill Graham was to the San Francisco hippie music scene in the '60s. He had always been considered both a visionary and a villain, depending on who you talk to. He did not invent punk. He and his then-partner, couture designer Vivienne Westwood, ran a clothing store. He saw a golden opportunity when he saw the New York Dolls in the early '70s. He became their manager and proceeded to run the legendary band into the ground. Undeterred, McLaren and Westwood changed the name of their London store to Sex and started hawking bondage-inspired clothing, ripped up stuff rife with safety know, ye olde punk aesthetic. He figured the best way to promote their wares was to create a scene that wanted them. That's right, kids. It was about capitalism, not anarchy. So he put together the Sex Pistols with an eye more toward outrage and image rather than talent. So what if they couldn't play anything? It's not hard to learn three cords, is it? According to legend, McLaren picked John Lydon (re-christened Johnny Rotten) purely because of his "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt, his bad teeth, and green hair.

McLaren's gambit worked. The Sex Pistols shocked and frightened the general public, the tabloids couldn't stop writing about them, and the kids loved them. Countless unemployed British teenagers formed their own bands in the Pistols' wake. Soon, McLaren's orbit would read like a Who's Who of that era: shop employee Chrissie Hynde, Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Siouxsie Sioux, Billy Idol, Adam Ant, etc.. The Pistols imploded and McLaren ended up in a feud with Rotten for years afterwards; the latter accused McLaren of ripping him and his bandmates off.

McLaren kept on looking for the next big thing. He managed Adam and the Ants, then he found his almost discovery, Boy George. Some former Ants were formed into a new band, Bow Wow Wow, and Boy George--then just a club kid--was McLaren's first choice for lead singer. For some reason it didn't pan out, so McLaren found someone even more outrageous...a 14-year-old Burmese immigrant named Annabella Lwin, who was pimped out as some kind of exotic teenage sex kitten. Bow Wow Wow of course scored a big hit with "I Want Candy" in 1982. He briefly managed the Red Hot Chili Peppers early on in their career. As a solo artist, he knocked off African music three years before Paul Simon did with "Graceland." Personally, I loved his 1989 album "Waltz Darling," which featured "Deep In Vogue" a year before Madonna hopped on the "strike a pose" bandwagon.

Many of McLaren's proteges found success for at least a time. The Sex Pistols live on as rock legends, which is kind of ironic if you think about it. Westwood continues to be one of the fashion industry's top designers, and McLaren's son runs the pricey lingerie line Agent Provocateur. He understood the flim-flam that goes with rock 'n roll and pop as well as the connection with fashion and if you want evidence that lives on, look at Madonna's 27-year career or Lady Gaga.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round
They sing "I'm in love. What's that song?
I'm in love with that song."

Unlike in the Replacements song that's probably better known than the guy who inspired it, Chilton didn't die in Memphis (it was stopover in New Orleans before heading to Austin for the SXSW Festival). The 59-year-old's biggest hit was "The Letter," which he recorded when he was with The Box Tops in the '60s but it was his '70s power pop band Big Star that forever earned him hipster status. Acts like The Replacements, R.E.M., and Wilco consider Big Star a huge influence on their music. Big Star never had monster hits in its day--they weren't Fleetwood Mac--but some of you might recognize their song "In The Streets" that was used as the opener for "That '70s Show."
lazypadawan: (Default)
Actor Corey Haim died early this morning from an "accidental overdose" at the age of 38. As sad as it is, it's also not terribly surprising.

Gen X-ers recall the reign of the Two Coreys: Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. Back in the mid-to-late '80s, Feldman and Haim appeared in a string of teen films together: "License To Drive," "Dream A Little Dream," a few straight-to-video/straight-to-cable movies, and their magnum opus, "The Lost Boys." The quasi-comedic vampire flick has remained a cult favorite since it came out in 1987.

Haim though made his first splash as the lead character in another Gen X cult favorite, "Lucas," a 1986 teen flick that co-starred Winona Ryder and Charlie Sheen. I also recall him on his short-lived sitcom "Roomies."

Unfortunately, Haim lived out the stereotypical ex-child star/teen heartthrob narrative as did his old buddy Feldman. Both of them ended up on drugs and in trouble, with various intervals of sobriety over the years. A couple of years ago, they were reunited on a short-lived trainwreck A&E series "The Two Coreys." The show Haim should have been on was "Intervention."

It's hard to say why some of these young actors go off the rails when their careers hit rough patches and why others graciously accept that at least they were part of something meaningful during their time in the business, and move on from it. There are the Danny Bonaduces (miraculously still alive) and the Dana Platos who came from dysfunctional family situations but with some of these other guys, I'm just scratching my head. Maybe they invest too much of their self-worth into being famous and popular without really understanding those things often fade with time.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Anyone who has read Anne Frank: Diary Of A Young Girl knows who Miep Gies was. The last surviving person who helped eight Dutch Jews hide from the Nazis in Amsterdam during WWII, including Frank and her family, was frequently mentioned in the diary. Then a young bride, she and several others risked their own lives as they saw to the safety and daily needs of those hidden away in that small attic. Gies avoided arrest after the hiding place was raided. She found Frank's writings in the attic and presented them to the only surviving member of the Frank family, Anne's father Otto, after to the war. He had the diary published and the rest is history.

As media fans, we talk a lot about heroes but Gies was the real thing, even though she shunned the label herself. She did the right thing at the right time, when it really mattered.
lazypadawan: (time passes)
Two figures from 1980s television passed away over the weekend.

Edward Woodward starred as the classy and always righteous spy turned vigilante in "The Equalizer." I loved this show. On from 1985-1989, he'd go around in his sexy Jaguar dispensing justice when red tape and corruption got in the way. Justice was usually served by his array of weapons. I also remember the great theme song by The Police's Stewart Copeland. Woodward died at age 79 after a long illness.

Ken Ober hosted one of my favorite shows when I was in college, MTV's groundbreaking game show "Remote Control." For you poor youngsters who missed it, it was a pop culture trivia show with comedy, skits, and categories like "Dead or Canadian" and "Michael Caine," where Ober would read the cast of a film and add "Michael Caine," and the contestant had to guess the movie. College students always served as contestants and Ober's style was to add lots of snark (before it was called that) and irony. If you were eliminated, your giant La-Z Boy chair got sucked into the wall and a skeleton would appear in your place. The final round forced the contestant to be strapped to a bed. Yet somehow, it was never mean. The show launched several careers, including those of sidekick Colin Quinn and Adam Sandler, both of which ended up on SNL. Guys also remember house babe Kari (pronounced car-ee, not "Carrie") Wuhrer.

I saw Ken Ober once in person. It was in 1989 and MTV was crawling all over the University of Missouri-Columbia's campus filming segments because the school won some kind of fundraising contest. The charity was partnered with MTV and getting your school featured was the big prize. Anyway, the college radio station KCOU decided to stage a publicity stunt in order to get the crews' attention. One hapless d.j. had to do a leap on a BMX bike over a small kiddie pool filled with motor oil. He rode while wearing a leisure suit from a thrift shop. The bait worked; Ken Ober's crew eagerly showed up to shoot the stunt. It was staged near my dorm building and I was on the KCOU staff, so of course I was there. Ober was pretty short. I think I was taller than he was and I'm at most 5'5" on a good day. He was friendly, cheerful, and funny which is more than I could say about the MTV crew. Ugh, what jerks. They thought they were hot stuff from NYC stuck among the hicks in Missoula or whatever. The producer was especially unpleasant. But you'll be happy to know the d.j. successfully made the jump.

Ober passed away on Sunday of unknown causes. He'd been a t.v. producer in recent years.

lazypadawan: (Default)
Jim Carroll, a poet who gave the world Basketball Diaries and the song "People Who Died", passed away over the weekend at age 60. The only thing that's surprising is that he made it to 60.

And I just heard Patrick Swayze succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Since it's a cancer with something like a 5% survival rate and his health had been really bad for a while, I'm not surprised he didn't make it. Road House is one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures because it's so deliciously cheesy, but the last time I watched part of it, I was saddened to see how buff Swayze was (he was shirtless like half the movie) 20 years ago and how thin and sickly he looked in the tabloid photos run some months ago. Swayze's biggest hit was Dirty Dancing but the first thing I remember seeing him in was the classic '80s Civil War miniseries, North and South. Condolences to his family.
lazypadawan: (brokenheart)
Billy Mays, the star of countless t.v. ads and the co-star of Discovery's "Pitchmen," died this morning. We all knew Farrah was dying and I honestly wasn't all that surprised Michael Jackson died, but this was a real shocker and in a way, sadder than those higher-profile deaths. Mays was at the height of his success and personified the American dream, working his way up from the boardwalks in Atlantic City to being a multi-millionaire t.v. pitchman. posted that he'd been on a flight that blew its tire out when it landed, just hours before his death. When this landed, Mays apparently got hit on the head pretty hard but didn't seek medical attention (the FAA is accusing him of not wearing a seatbelt while landing). Poor guy. I'll never forget those OxiClean ads and he'll likely be one of those '00s icons. Prayers for his family.

Now, will these celebrities stop dying? Please?

Update: An autopsy on 6/29/09 revealed that Mays died from a heart attack, not a head injury.

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