LIONS AND TIGERS AND....CHEESE? OH MY!
If you happen by the town of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin this weekend keep your eyes peeled for a few Munchkins. It was 70 years ago this week that "The Wizard of Oz" had a test run in the little town and a weekend festival is planned to celebrate the event.
THE STEWARDESS IS FLYING THE PLANE!
OK, the headline really has nothing to do with this article but how often do I get the chance to throw up a quote from "Airport '75?"
Though I've never had any major problems when flying (except for the fact that, despite several forms being filled out, I'm STILL on the government "no fly" list, which means I have to provide proper identification and a semen sample each time I check my luggage), the story of 50 people kept on a plane for more then 5 hours has me worried, especially as I will be flying to New York City in October to attend the NYC Premiere of "The Shark Is Still Working" and New York area airports are notorious for running behind schedule. After their flight was deverted because of weather, the passengers on the plane (which only seated 50 so it was full) were made to sit on the tarmac until 6:00 am in the morning, despite a non-working toilet, crying babies and really no way to move around. Now it turns out that, while the airport manager tried repeatedly to get the plane unloaded, Continental Airlines, who owned the plane, would not comply with his requests. According to an airline spokesman, it was not "safe" to unload the passengers into the empty terminal because there were no TSA security people available to screen them. Which makes no sense unless Continental thought there was a terrorist on board that was going to smuggle a bomb INTO the airport off of the plane. As I mentioned, I'm flying east in a couple of months. Rest assured, if this happnes to my flight, I WILL GET OFF THE PLANE, even if I have to pop the emergency slide. See you on the news!
As I sat down tonight word came that Les Paul had died. Technically, I've been playing guitar for more than 30 years. Sadly, I'm not that much better today then I was in 1978. I will leave the sad task of remembering Mr. Paul and his achievements to the boss, whose guitar skills rival those of Mr. Edward Van Halen!
Very sad to learn of the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of JFK and founder of the Special Olympics. The fifth of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy's nine children, Mrs. Shriver was 88. Her sister, Rosemary, had gone through life with the stigma of being "different," a condition that worsened after her father allowed a Washington D.C. doctor to perform a pre-frontal lobotomy on her. Inspired by her sisters courage, Eunice became a champion for developmentally disabled children and adults, often hosting parties for them at her Maryland home. So strong was her support that, even though her brother, Robert, had just been assassinated six weeks before, she hosted the very first Special Olympics games in Chicago. Rosemary Kennedy died in 2005 at the age of 86.
GOOD THING HE DIDN'T CALL IT THE "DEAD AND BURIED" TOUR
Congratulations to the people at Sony Pictures, who just ponied up $60 million to bring you "Michael Jackson: THIS IS IT!" the movie. The film will be created from more then 80 hours of footage shot while Jackson prepared for his scheduled summer tour, which Jackson ironically proclaimed would be his last. The film opens October 30.
MY FAVORITE FILMS, PART II. THE YEAR WAS 1978...
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Rod Steiger and Peter Boyle
Directed by: Norman Jewison
FIRST SEEN: Hillsborough Theatre, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE SCENE: Johnny's first union negotiations.
FAVORITE LINE: "We're gonna cut 'em off. Your balls...we're gonna cut 'em off."
I must admit that, next to "JAWS 2," "F.I.S.T." was probably the most anticipated film of my teenage years. The reason, of course, was Sylvester Stallone. Sly had made his mark the year before when his film, "ROCKY," came out of nowhere to win the Best Picture Academy Award and turn it's star into the biggest celebrity in the world. After much speculation, United Artists announced that "F.I.S.T." would be Stallone's next film. Of course, with a title like "F.I.S.T." many people, myself included, thought it was another boxing picture. Far from it. The film tells the story of Johnny Kovac, a hard working young man who rises to power during the rise of the American Labor Union movement. Loosely based on the story of Jimmy Hoffa, "F.I.S.T." was the first filmed screenplay by Joe Eszterhas, who had the good fortune of having director Norman Jewison wanting to make it. For a full run down on the making of "F.I.S.T." I highly recommend you check out (or purchase) Mr. Eszterhas' book, "Hollywood Animal," which is a brilliant autobiography. I'll just list some of the high points here.
Jewison wanted Robert DeNiro to play the lead but while DeNiro was mulling the offer over, Stallone was signed. Then one day, while reading an interview with Stallone in a newspaper, Eszterhas comes across the words, "I've just written a new screenplay called "F.I.S.T." Upset when he reads this, Eszterhas calls Jewison, who explains that, since Stallone wrote "ROCKY" he considers himself a writer and that he wouldn't do the film unless he was allowed to do a re-write. Livid at this, Eszterhas goes out of his way to let it be known that HE, not Sylvester Stallone, had written the script. Then comes word that a publisher has offered an enormous sum of money for the novelization of the screenplay. The drawback is that they want to put Stallone's picture on the book's cover. Stallone approves the picture under the condition that he be given co-writer credit on the script. Eszterhas agrees and gets a big check. Sly gets screen credit (the credits read "Story by Joe Eszterhas. Screenplay by Joe Eszterhas and Sylvester Stallone"). And that, children, is how Hollywood works. Years later Stallone calls Eszterhas and asks him if he'd like to do a rewrite on his script for "Staying Alive." Eszterhas tells him no.
Performance wise, along with "COPLand," this is some of Stallone's best work. People often forget that he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for "ROCKY," and that he wasn't always a mono-syllabic action hero. Of course, it helps that Jewison surrounded him with great actors, including Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle, Kevin Conway and Melinda Dillon. As the film progresses, Stallone's voice gets rougher, aging like the old lion he is becoming. When he is summoned to Washington to testify before Congress (as Hoffa was) he is greeted by miles of trucks that have blocked all traffic in the nations capital. As he takes in the scene he raises his arms in the air and repeatedly asks, "What are we?" to which the drivers reply "F.I.S.T!" The more he repeats his question the louder he roars. Truly a great performance. Of course, like Hoffa, Johnny gets caught up with the mob, which eventually costs the life of Johnny's best friend and union associate, Abe. According to Eszterhas, this is the only part of the script that Stallone noticeably changed. Originally Johnny is in on Abe's murder but Stallone felt that having someone who had been a brother to him killed would make his character unsympathetic. You think?
Incidentally, "F.I.S.T." stands for "Federation of Interstate Truckers."
Since I'm heading out on the road shortly, I'll be running a double feature of "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Heroes" next week. Pacino and the Fonz...sounds like a doozy!
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. Chi-town here I come! See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.