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PCR #312. (Vol. 7, No. 11) This edition is for the week of March 13--19, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Another short one this week. And another talent lost. Shall we begin?

The Tampa Bay Watershed and It's Importance To You -- Part Three....Proposal to Sell Off Our National Forest Lands  by Will Moriaty
"V For Vendetta"  by Mike Smith
Alone  by Nick King
Everything But a Grammy....Movie Notes....My Favorite Films -- Chapter 10: "Fast Times At Ridgemont High"  by Mike Smith
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This week another great light was extinguished when Maureen Stapleton died at the age of 80 on Monday after a long battle with chronic pulmonary disease. Stapleton made her movie debut starring alongside Montgomery Clift in the film, "Lonelyhearts," earning her the first of four Academy Award nominations. Other films followed but she finally hit the big time with another Oscar nominated performance in 1970's "Airport." When Woody Allen began his "serious" phase, he cast Stapleton in "Interiors," netting her nomination number three. Four was the lucky number when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of political activist Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's epic, "Reds." Her film work ranged from musical comedy ("Bye Birdie" to drama ("Nuts") to fantasy ("Cocoon" and its sequel). One of my favorite Stapleton performances is as Michael Keaton's mother in "Johnny Dangerously." She was just as successful on Broadway and television, earning six Tony Award nomination (winning twice) and seven Emmy nominations, with one win.

Last week I mentioned John Travolta taking the lead in the upcoming film of the Broadway musical, "Hairspray." Now comes word that he is the first choice of director Robert Luketic to star as J.R. Ewing in the film version of "Dallas." Other casting possibilities include Jennifer Lopez as Sue Ellen, Luke Wilson as Bobby and Shirley MacLaine as Miss Ellie.

"Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer, along with screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty, has submitted story outlines for four "prequels" to be published by DC Comics. Each issue will explain the gap between 1978's "Superman the Movie" and this year's update.

Harrison Ford has told German magazine "Fit For Fun" that both he and Steven Spielberg have approved a script for a fourth Indiana Jones adventure and that shooting should begin within the next year.

Speaking of Han Solo, producer Rick McCallum told BBC Radio 1 that Lucasfilm plans to produce a live action "Star Wars" television series. The show, which will run up to 100 episodes, will take place between the events at the end of "Episode III" and the beginning of "Episode IV."

Starring: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Robert Romanus, Judge Reinhold and Ray Walston
Directed by: Amy Heckerling

FIRST SEEN: United Artists Theatres at Golden Ring Mall, Baltimore, Maryland
FAVORITE LINE: "Mister, if you don't shut up I'm going to kick 100% of your ass!"
FAVORITE SCENE: Phoebe Cates comes out of the pool in slow motion. Yow-za!

  • Writer's Guild nomination for Best Comedy Adaptation (Cameron Crowe, based on his book)
  • Added to the National Film Registry in 2005.

    Anyone familiar with the film "Almost Famous" knows that it is based on the early adventures of Cameron Crowe, who began writing for Rolling Stone magazine when he was 15. In his early 20s, but still very youthful in appearance, Crowe went back to high school to get a glimpse of school in the early 80s. The resultant book, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," was one of the best insights into the life of high school kids ever written. Directed by Amy Heckerling, the film is probably best remembered for making Sean Penn a star. As the always mellow surfer dude Jeff Spicoli, Penn became THE face for the slacker generation. As talented as Jennifer Jason Leigh is perceived now, she was just terrible here. I have a friend who used to put her pinky in her mouth and mutter, "17. Yeah, I'm 17," in a sincere homage to the actress. Phoebe Cates made a splash on moviegoers with her topless pool shot (director Heckerling said that she would often get letters from video store owners telling her that the tapes were being ruined by fans pausing on that scene over and over), as did Judge Reinhold. If you look closely, you can see VERY young versions of Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards. Also, Lana Clarkson, the actress who played Mrs. Vargas is now an important footnote in music history. She was shot in the head and killed, allegedly by famed producer Phil Spector. Of the talented cast, Penn went on to win an Oscar for "Mystic River," as did screenwriter Crowe (for "Almost Famous") and Nicolas Cage (for "Leaving Las Vegas"). Reinhold enjoyed great success in the late 80s, as did Stoltz ("Mask") and Edwards ("Top Gun"). Cates appeared in the "Gremlin" films and retired after marrying Kevin Kline, though she did appear with Kline in the independent film "The Anniversary Party," which Leigh co-wrote and co-directed (with Alan Cumming). Leigh learned to act and has done great work in such films as "Single White Female" and "Georgia."

    Next week I'll be east bound and down when I look at one of my most guilty pleasures, "Smokey and the Bandit".

    Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.