LUKE SKI UPDATE
Happy as hell to report that my friend Luke Sienowski, better known to friends of Dr. Demento as the great Luke Ski, pulled off the impossible by becoming the first artist in the history of the Dr. Demento show to have the #1 song of the year two years in a row. Luke, who last year ruled the charts with his song "Peter Parker," took the honor this year with his Lord of the Rings/Emminem parody, "Stealing LIke A Hobbit." All this and he just turned 30 this past week. Congrats!
Ben Stiller said all along that he wanted (2) special actors to portray his parents in the "Meet the Parents" sequel, "Meet the Fockers." Well, wish number one came true when Dustin Hoffman agreed to play his father. As of this writing, he hasn't heard back from his chosen mother, Barbra Streisand.
OH MY GOD!
I'm sure I've mentioned that one of my first meetings with Matt was during a gym class. I walked in to see this tall, blonde kid hanging from the rings, presumably doing a gymnastic routine. As I got closer, I heard him yelling, and I realized that he was doing Gene Hackman's final speech from "The Poseidon Adventure." With a hearty "Take Me!" he dropped to the mats below. That day I thought I had met the biggest "Poseidon Adventure" fan in the world. I was wrong. Just saw that there is a gentleman in California who has enclosed his car port and has turned it into an exact replica of the ballroom of the doomed ocean liner, complete with giant Christmas tree!
Wow, after a slow new year they're coming in bunches:
ANN MILLER: Well known for her work in the classic MGM musicals of the 40s and 50s, Miss Miller passed away Jan 22 at the age of 81 from lung cancer. Born Johnnie Lucille Collier in 1923, Miss Miller took dancing lessons to strengthen her legs after a childhood bout of the rickets. Her father was an attorney whose clients included the legendary Bonnie and Clyde. Discovered by RKO actress Lucille Ball while performing in a San Francisco night club, she made her film debut in 1934s "Anne of Green Gables." In 1947 she left RKO for MGM, where she appeared in such musicals as "Easter Parade," "On the Town" and "Kiss Me Kate." She retired from Hollywood in 1956, with her only movie role for almost 40 years being a cameo in "Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood." In the 1980s she found fame on stage starring with Mickey Rooney in the revue show "Sugar Babies." She came out of retirement to film a brief part in David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" in 2002.
UTA HAGEN: One of the greatest stage actresses and cofounder of the HB Studios, Miss Hagen died from natural causes this past week. She was 74. Born in Germany, her family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she began her love for theatre. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, she made her Broadway debut in "The Seagull" in 1938. She won her first Tony award for 1950s "The Country Girl" and a second one years later when she originated the role of Martha in Edward Albee's "Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" After a 10 year marriage to actor Jose Ferrer, she married actor Herbert Berghof, who passed away in 1990. After their marriage, they founded the HB Studios where they taught acting. She appeared in three films, among them "The Boys From Brazil" and "Reversal of Fortune." As someone who has pursued an acting career, some of the best advice I ever received came from Bruno Kirby, who I met while on the set of "Tin Men." He told me that the best instruction he ever received came from Ms. Hagen's book, "Respect for Acting." I bought the book and found it to be most beneficial. A must for the acting wannabes out there!
RAY STARK: One of the last great independent film producers, Stark passed away at the age of 79 due to heart failure. Beginning his career as an agent, with such clients as author Raymond Chandler, Stark married Frances Brice, daughter of famed Ziegfeld girl Fanny Brice, in 1939. Slowly growing up the ranks in Hollywood, he began his producing career in 1960 with "The World of Suzy Wong." He produced the Broadway musical, "Funny Girl," based on the life of his mother in law, as well as the film version and it's sequel. His eleven films with author Neil Simon include "The Sunshine Boys," "The Goodbye Girl," "Chapter Two," "Seems Like Old Times" and "Biloxi Blues." Other hits: "The Way We Were," "Annie" and "Steel Magnolias."
RON O'NEAL: A classically trained actor who found fame in the 1972 hit, "Superfly," O'neal died from pancreatic cancer. He was 66. Born in Utica, NY in 1937, his family moved to Cleveland when he was a young boy. While attending Ohio State University, he became interested in theatre. He quit school and joined Cleveland's Karamu House, an integrated theatre troupe. He moved to New York City in 1967 and soon found fame in Joe Papp's production of "No Place to Be Somebody," which won him Obie, Drama Desk and Theatre World awards. Cast as the drug dealer who sticks it to his fellow bad guys, O'neal became one of the first stars of the "blaxploitation" era. He made his directing debut with 1973s "Superfly T.N.T" and starred with Tom Laughlin in "The Master Gunfighter." His best known later role was as the leader of the Cuban invasion force in "Red Dawn."
NOBLE WILLINGHAM: Well known character actor Willingham died of natural causes at the age of 62. Born in Texas in 1931, Willingham began his successful career with roles in "Paper Moon" and "Chinatown." He went on to appear in "Norma Rae," "La Bamba," "The Last Boyscout" and as rancher Clay Stone in "City Slickers I and II." He ended his role on the popular television show "Walker: Texas Ranger" to stage an unsuccessful run for congress in 2000.
MEET THE BEATLES
January 22, 1969: While recording what would become the "Let It Be" album, the fab four run through "All I Want Is You" (working title of "Dig a Pony"), "I've Got A Feeling" and "Don't Let Me Down." Billy Preston drops by Abbey Road studios and is recruited to play electric piano on "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window," which will appear on the album, "Abbey Road."
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 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 ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.