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PCR #334. (Vol. 7, No. 33) This edition is for the week of August 14--20, 2006.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! Some news,notes and the passing of a mentor. Shall we begin?

The Tampa Film Review for August  by Nolan B. Canova
Summer '06 in Review  by Mike Smith
Las Vegas....Small Markets....Hollywood East  by Mark Terry
Mike Douglas is Gone....VHS Grindhouse....By George -- He's a Dustman!...New York Dolls Back in the News....Screem Magazine Review (#12)  by Andy Lalino
Seen the King Lately?...Movie News....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 33: "Blazing Saddles"  by Mike Smith
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It's been 29 years since Elvis Presley passed away. Or has it? Filmmaker Adam Muskiewicz, who is working on a documentary entitled "The Truth About Elvis," is offering a $3 million reward to anyone who can prove that Elvis is still alive. Come on, do you really think if Elvis was still alive he would have let his daughter marry Michael Jackson???


  • Johnny Depp has signed to play the title role in Tim Burton's version of the classic Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical, "Sweeny Todd.
  • Speaking of musical, Zooey Deschanel has won the role of Janis Joplin in the upcoming film, "The Gospel According to Janis."
  • Steve Carrell, a long time fan of the late Don Adams, has confirmed that he is very interested in playing Maxwell Smart in a proposed film version of the Mel Brooks/Buck Henry television series, "Get Smart."
  • More news on the recently announced Batman film, "The Dark Knight." Ryan Phillippe is in talks to follow Billy Dee Williams and Tommy Lee Jones in the role of Two Face. And reigning Best Actor Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman has been offered the role of the Penguin. How amazing would it be if Phillippe's middle name ended in "ee?" Actually, Ryan is his middle name. Darn.

    We lost two great ones this week and I'm proud to say that one of them had a great effect on my life:
    Bruno Kirby, who followed in his father's footsteps to become one of the most well known character actors in film and television, died this week shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia. He was 57. Probably best known for playing Billy Crystal's buddy in "When Harry Met Sally" and "City Slickers," Kirby began his career in the 1971 "hippie" film, "The Young Graduates." The next year he played Richard Castellano's son on television's "The Super." In 1974, he appeared as the young Clemenza in "The Godfather, Part II," which is pretty amazing since Castellano had portrayed the older Clemenza in "The Godfather." He worked primarily in television in the 1970's, appearing on such shows as "M*A*S*H," "Room 222," "Columbo" and "Hill Street Blues." His big break came when he appeared as Tommy the Sinatra-fixated limo driver in Rob Reiner's "This Is Spinal Tap." In the Barry Levinson film, "Tin Men," he was Mouse, the dancing/"La Bamba" loving aluminum siding salesman. He worked again with Levinson as the very un-funny Lt. Hauk in "Good Morning Vietnam." Even though Jack Palance won an Oscar for his supporting work in "City Slickers," my favorite scene is Kirby sharing with his friends his best day and worse day. Kirby worked steadily, most recently appearing on the HBO series, "Entourage." While living in Baltimore, I had the opportunity to visit the set of "Tin Men" with some friends. During the filming we recognized Kirby and introduced ourselves to him during a break. He was genuinely amazed that we knew who he was. I was still doing theater then and I asked him some questions about acting. He pulled out a pen and wrote, "'Respect for Acting' by Uta Hagen" on it. This was, he told me, a great book on the craft. Of course, the next day I bought the book and used many of its ideas whenever I performed. After many years away from the stage, I took part in a Kansas City production of David Mamet's "Glenngary Glen Ross" and took the opportunity to thank Bruno Kirby in the show's program for his advice and encouragement.

    Mike Douglas, whose syndicated talk show is a major memory of my younger days, passed away last Friday which was also his 81st birthday. A singer in Kay Keiser's band, Douglas began his afternoon show in Cleveland, Ohio in 1961. It moved to Philadelphia in 1965 and again to Los Angeles in 1978. He was replaced by John Davidson in 1981. Douglas' show was a mixture of music and talk. His guests ranged from seven former, sitting or future presidents to 2-year old Tiger Woods. As Nolan mentioned, in 1972 John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent a week as Douglas' "co-hosts. Other musical guests included Sonny and Cher and, in 1963, a virtually unknown Barbra Streisand. As a performer, Douglas was the singing voice of Prince Charming in Disney's animated film, "Cinderella," and also appeared as the Governor in the Burt Reynolds film, "Gator." But it was as himself that he performed most, including guest roles on such shows as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Greatest American Hero" and "Knot's Landing." Speaking of television (and Elvis), it was Douglas' show that the King was watching when he infamously pulled a pistol and shot the television. Later Presley told Douglas that he wasn't aiming at him but at his co-host, Robert Goulet, who Presley did not like. And if I can take this further, Goulet appeared with Priscilla Presley in the second "Naked Gun" film. Wow, it's funny how this week's rant all tied together. Douglas is survived by his wife of 52 years, Genevieve, and three daughters.

    Starring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn
    Directed by: Mel Brooks

    FIRST SEEN: University Cinemas, Tampa, Florida
    FAVORITE LINE: "Hey, where are the white women at?"
    FAVORITE SCENE: Harvey Korman tells his band of villains that they will be facing certain death, while he will be facing an almost certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

  • Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Kahn), Best Film Editing and Best Original Song - "Blazing Saddles" by John Morris and Mel Brooks. Sorry, Harvey.
  • BAFTA nominations for Best Newcomer (Little) and Best Screenplay (Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor and Alan Uger)
  • Writers Guild of America award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen.

    Originally titled "Black Bart", Mel Brooks originally offered the lead role to comedian Richard Pryor. However, due to his at the time very controversial stand up act, Brooks couldn't find a studio to finance the film with Pryor as the lead. But Cleavon Little wasn't the only actor to inherit his role from someone else. Gig Young was hired to play the Waco Kid. However, when the time came to film the first scene, Young, who battled alcoholism most of his life, showed up to the set drunk and later collapsed. Brooks shut down the production and made a phone call to his "Producers" star, Gene Wilder. Wilder accepted the role and when he arrived on set he brought along a script he had been working on. That script was "Young Frankenstein," but that's another story (see you the weekend of September 22). When the film opened it quickly gained popular word of mouth for one scene: the cowboys eating beans around the campfire. As far as I can tell, this was the first instance of on screen flatulence and the resultant laughter from the audience drowned out the dialogue for minutes afterwards. One line of dialogue that wasn't obscured was when Korman's character, Hedly Lamaar, is called "Hedy" by Brooks. After the correction Brooks replies, "What are you worried about. This is 1874. You can sue her." After the film opened, former film star Hedy Lamaar tried, unsuccessfully, to sue Brooks. Fans can pick up the DVD and see several deleted scenes, many of which made it into the television version. They can also find out the punch line to one of the more controversial scenes in the film. After a musical performance, Kahn's character invites Bart to her "dwessing woom," where she attempts to seduce him. After turning off the lights, she asks Bart if the rumors about black men being "gifted" are true. We then hear her exclaim, "Oh, it's true. It's true." At the studio's request, Brooks deleted the final line from the scene, "Excuse me, ma'am, but you're sucking on my arm.".

    Next week I take a look at a different kind of western as the Earp Brothers (Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil) and Doc Holiday ride into "Tombstone."

    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.