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PCR #171. (Vol. 4, No. 27) This edition is for the week of June 30--July 6, 2003.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang. Quite a few passing ons to report and Episode 3 is on it's way. Shall we begin?

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Filming began this past Monday on Episode 3 of the "Star Wars" saga. A rumored title, "Revenge of the Sith," has not been confirmed. You may recall that at one point Episode 6, "Return of the Jedi," was titled "Revenge of the Jedi." According to legend, George Lucas changed the title when a young fan told him that Jedis would never seek revenge.

Seems the US Marines have finally decided they are finished with "American Idol." The one question that I always had concerning Lance Corporal Joshua Gracin was how in the hell did he find the time to do all of these shows and make all of those appearances when he was an active duty Marine during a time of war? Sure, he was good advertising on prime time tv but I'm not sure his fellow Marines felt the same. Well, the Marines have put the kibosh on Gracin's participation in the upcoming 39-city concert tour. Seems he can no longer find the "spare" time he had now that he's just one in a group of voices. Semper fi!

Wow! This past week has been unkind to Hollywood. A fine writer, a couple character actors and the most honored actor in Oscar history left us recently. They are:
   Sydney Lassick. Sorry to say that I had misplaced my notes when Mr. Lassick passed away in April. However, as a fan, I would have been remiss had I not mentioned him. Born in Chicago in 1922, Lassick began his career with television work in the early 1960's. His two notable film appearances were as Charles Cheswick in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and as the English teacher who mocks the title star in "Carrie." I can still hear him now, making fun of Carrie when she mentions she finds Tommy Ross' poem 'beautiful.' "Beautiful, Carrie White......Beautiful? BEE - YU - TA - FULL! He was a very busy actor on television in the 1980's, appearing in such shows as "8 is Enough," "The Man From Atlantis," "Barney Miller," "Amazing Stories" and "The X-files." Mr. Lassick died in Los Angeles due to complications from diabetes.
   David Newman, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, passed away June 27 in New York after suffering a stroke. Born in New York City in 1937, Mr. Newman began writing for NYC based magazines. In the 1960's, he was an editor at Esquire magazine. With co-editor Robert Benton, he branched out into screenplays. Their screenplay for "Bonnie and Clyde" was nominated as Best Original Screenplay in 1967. Among the other scripts he collaborated on: "What's Up Doc?," "Still of the Night" and the first three films in the "Superman" series. His work ran the gambit award wise. The Writer's Guild of America voted "Bonnie and Clyde" the Best American Drama as well as the Best American Original Screenplay. Along with Buck Henry he won the WGA award for "What's Up Doc?" as Best Comedy Screenplay. In 1979, the WGA nominated the screenplay for "Superman the Movie" as one of the years best. Mr. Newman co-wrote the film with Benton, Mario Puzo and his wife, Leslie Newman. In 1985 he received the Golden Raspberry award for the worse screenplay for the film, "Sheena."
   Buddy Hackett, an entertainer on stage and screen for over 50 years, passed away this week at the age of 78. While no cause of death has been reported, his son stated that he also had problems with diabetes. Born Leonard Hacker on August 31, 1924, Hackett started out doing regular nightclub shows. As his career took off, he started working a few risque' routines into his act, something that was almost unheard of at the time. In 1946, following the stroke of Stooge Curly Howard, he was invited to join Moe and Larry as Curly's replacement. He turned them down, not wanting to be confined to the Stooges kind of comedy. Among his best known film work: "The Music Man," "Herbie the Love Bug" and "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." In 1978, he portrayed Lou Costello in the television film "Bud and Lou." He quit doing stand up in 1996 after he suddenly developed a horrible case of stage fright. He later blamed dental surgery he had earlier on the condition. He continued working until recently, doing mostly voice work. His last role was as the voice of Scuttle in "The Little Mermaid 2."
   Katherine Hepburn, who went from a tomboy who dreamed of being a doctor to becoming the most honored performer in Academy Award history, passed away this past Sunday at her farm in Connecticut. She was 96. Born May 12, 1907 in Hartford, Hepburn abandoned her medical career when she attended Bryn Mawr College. She graduated in 1928 with a degree in drama. Later that year, she married a Philadelphia broker, Ludlow Smith. They were divorced in 1934. In 1932, she had her first lead role on Broadway in "The Warrior's Husband." Later that year she appeared in her first film, "Bill Of Divorcement." In 1934 she won her first Oscar for Best Actress for the film "Morning Glory." She would go on to be nominated 11 more times, which stood as the record for actresses until Meryl Streep received nomination 13 this past year. She never remarried, choosing to, in her words, "live as a man." While she went on to have affairs with such celebrated men as Howard Hughes, her long time love was her nine-time costar Spencer Tracy. Their 25 year affair began on the set of 1942s "Woman of the Year" and ended with Tracy's death in 1967, shortly after completing their final film together, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner." Hepburn received her 10th Best Actress nomination for this film and her 2nd award. The next year saw the only tie in Oscar history as Hepburn won Oscar #3 for "The Lion In Winter," sharing the award with "Funny Girl" star Barbra Streisand. In 1982 she won Oscar #4 for "On Golden Pond." Curiously, as many times as she had been nominated, Hepburn only attended one Academy Award ceremony. In 1973 she showed up briefly to present an award and then left immediately afterwards. She returned to Broadway in 1982 in "The West Side Waltz" and added a new tale to her story when she stopped in mid-scene to scold an audience member who interrupted the show by taking a picture. This past Tuesday she was honored by the Theatre League as the lights on Broadway were dimmed at 8:00 pm in her memory. Her final film role was in Warren Beatty's 1994 film "Love Affair," an updated version of "An Affair To Remember." Not only was she the highlight of the film as Beatty's aunt, she also answered the question "What would it be like to hear Katherine say the word "fuck?" Like the recently passed Gregory Peck, she was a true legend.

All for this week......See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2003 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 ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.