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Now in our eighth calendar year!

PCR #365. (Vol. 8, No. 12) This edition is for the week of March 19--25, 2007.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! ED Tucker has triggered some memories. Shall we begin?

Munchkin Mall Mayhem!  by ED Tucker
"TMNT"  by Mike Smith
John Waters Goes to Court  by Andy Lalino
The Shark Is Still Working....The Rondo Controversy Update  by Matt Drinnenberg
Me And The Munchkins....Passing On....Happy Birthday....Words and Music....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 12: John Savage  by Mike Smith
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ED Tucker's piece this week on the Munchkins caused me to think back to the fall of 1999. I was the promotions director of a theatre chain in Kansas City and we were opening up a new complex. As it was the 60th Anniversary of the release of the Wizard of Oz (and since Kansas was only a few miles to the west), I arranged to have some of the original Munchkins from the film spend the weekend on this side of the rainbow for the festivities. Along with Coroner Meinhardt Raabe and Sleepyhead Margaret Pellegrini we also had chief Lollypop Guild-er Jerry Maren. My son, who was 15 at the time, was kept mesmerized by Mr. Raabe's stories. It seems that Meinhardt was a mathematical genius and was in charge of the books for the Oscar Meyer company when he learned of the casting call for "Oz." Maren told many stories about his career (both he and Meinhardt represented Oscar Meyer as the company mascot, Little Oscar. I have a large, inflatable Oscar Meyer hot dog which they both signed. The highlight of the weekend began with an off hand comment from Jerry Maren, who told me at dinner that he had NEVER seen "The Wizard of Oz" on the big screen. Asking the group I learned that NONE OF THEM could recall seeing the film at a movie theatre. Well, since we were running the film as part of the promotion, I roped off a row of seats for the actors and their guests. It was a special experience sitting with them as they saw themselves forty feet high for the first time.

A sad week indeed:
Stuart Rosenberg, director of such films as "The Pope of Greenwich Village" and the original "The Amityville Horror," died this week after a heart attack. He was 79. He made his feature film debut in 1967 directing Paul Newman and Oscar winner George Kennedy in "Cool Hand Luke."
Calvert DeForest, better known to fans of late night television as Larry "Bud" Melman, also passed this week. He was 85.
Luther Ingram, singer and songwriter, suffered a heart attack this past Monday. He was 69. In 1972 his version of "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" hit number three on the pop charts. After playing for Ike Turner's band he went solo in the late 1960s, becoming Isaac Hayes opening act. He joined Stax Records in the early '70s and, along with Sir Mack Rice, co-wrote the labels biggest hit, the Staple Singers "Respect Yourself."
Also last week I failed to mention the death of comedian Richard Jeni, who committed suicide at the age of 49. One of Jeni's funniest bits was his riff on "Jaws the Revenge." See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUkeyw7xdb4&mode=related&search

What are the odds that two of the greatest composers in Broadway history would share the same birthday? March 22 finds Stephen Sondheim ("West Side Story," "Sweeny Todd") turning 77 while Andrew Lloyd Webber ("Evita," "Phantom of the Opera") turns 59. Also celebrating today: William Shatner, who turns 76 (wow) and Marcel Marceau, 84. Mr. Marceau was not available for comment.

Congratulations to Jackson Browne, who this week was informed he will be inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Joining Browne are: Don Black ("Ben," "To Sir, With Love," "Born Free"), Irving Burgie ("Jamaica Farewell," "Day-O"), Michael Masser ("Touch Me in the Morning," "The Greatest Love of All") and the team of Bobby Weinstein and Teddy Randazzo, who wrote "Goin' Out of My Head," "Hurt So Bad" and "Gonna Take a Miracle" among others. Just to show it's not easy to write a song, the following 2007 nominees DIDN'T make it: the team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Ray Davies, David Gates, Gordon Lightfoot, Robbie Robertson and Cat Stevens. I guess all of those Monkee, Kinks, Bread and the Band songs really sucked, not to mention "Sundown" and "Peace Train!"


WHERE YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: "Hair," "The Deer Hunter."

This week I look at another alum from the musical "Hair," John Savage. After a series of small television roles in the early 1970s, Savage scored a one-two punch when he was cast in two films with very different views of Vietnam: "Hair" and "The Deer Hunter." As both productions were shooting almost simultaneously, Savage would often find himself singing on the streets of New York as Claude for "Hair" and then making his way as wheelchair bound Steven in "The Deer Hunter." The "Deer Hunter" shoot was physically exhausting for Savage who, along with Robert DeNiro, fell 30 feet from the rudders of a helicopter into a river over and over again for two days. In the film, the fall causes Steven to become paralyzed. In a 2003 interview Savage says that he actually did break his legs during filming. He followed these two high profile films with strong lead roles in "The Onion Field" and Richard Donner's "Inside Moves." In 1982 he starred in the crime thriller "The Amateur," which turned out to be his last major role. He has worked steadily, mostly in foreign films and television. He did have small parts in "Do The Right Thing" and "The Godfather Part III," but these really only consisted of no more than one or two scenes. In 2005, he joined the cast of HBO's "Carnivale" and also re-teamed with Treat Williams for a couple of episodes of "Everwood." He continues to work steadily, with no less then five films due this year.

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2007 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 ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.