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Now in our eighth calendar year!

PCR #368. (Vol. 8, No. 15) This edition is for the week of April 9--15, 2007.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello, gang! The world as we know it is going to hell. Shall we begin?

The Sunscreen Film Fest '07:  My Personal Encounter  by Chris Woods
"Perfect Stranger"  by Mike Smith
Horror Director Bob Clark Has Been Taken From Us....Grindhouse Sneak Preview....Johnny Hart's Passing  by Andy Lalino
Don Imus....The Masters of Horror....Congrats, Nol  by Matt Drinnenberg
Black and White....Grindhouse....Passing On....Whatever Happened To..? Chapter 15: James Woods  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2007
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Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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By now I'm sure everyone knows that CBS fired Don Imus for his "nappy headed ho" comments regarding the Rutgers University woman's basketball team. Too bad. I've listened to Imus off and on for more then 20 years and, while I didn't always agree with him, I found his show enjoyable. Of course, it didn't take long for former James Brown drug mule Al Sharpton to stick his pomaded head into the story, demanding that Imus be fired for his comments. Yeah, if there's a voice black America must be proud to have representing them it has to be Al Sharpton. Let's travel back in time and take a look at the good reverend's contributions to race relations in this country.

In 1987, a young black girl named Tawana Brawley disappeared for four days. When she turned up, she reported that she had been abducted and raped by a gang of white law enforcement officers. Reverend Al soon jumped on board this publicity train and, on no less then 33 separate occasions, state publicly that one of the rapists was then- Duchess County (NY) assistant attorney general Steven Pagones. Even after it was discovered that Brawley had made up the entire incident (she was afraid she would be punished for staying out late), Sharpton continued to libel Mr. Pagones. "If were lying," Sharpton says, sue us." 10 years later, Mr. Pagones won a civil judgement against Sharpton. When asked if he should apologize to Pagones for his statements, Sharpton replied, "Apologize for what? For believing a young lady?" As the judgement was passed, Sharpton quickly put all of his assets into his wife's name. Eventually, a group of Al's Pals, including Johnnie Cochran, kicked in money to pay off Al's share of the $345,000 judgement.

In 1991 a car being driven by a Jewish man as part of a funeral procession was struck by another car going through an intersection. Losing control of the struck vehicle, the driver accidentally ran over a seven year old black child. Big Al, missing the limelight, declared war on the "diamond merchants," making it sound as if the Jewish driver had intentionally sought out the young boy and murdered him. When told his actions were making a sad situation worse, Sharpton declared, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house." After four days of rioting a young rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, who was visiting the area from Australia, was surrounded by a mob and stabbed to death by a 16 year old boy. Witnesses said the mob was chanting "Kill the Jew" during the attack. The boy who stabbed Rosenbaum was tried for the murder but acquitted. However, after the trial he admitted the killing and was later convicted of violating Rosenbaum's civil rights.

In 1995, a black landlord raises the rent on Freddie's Fashion Mart in Harlem. Because of the increase, Freddie's white owner raises the rent on his subtenant, a black owned record store next door. One again, Super Al came to the rescue, referring to Freddie's owner as a "blood sucking Jew" and "white interloper." One of the Rev's followers took matters into his own hands, setting the store on fire and shooting anyone that tried to escape. When the day was over, the arsonist and seven of the stores employees, several of them black, were dead. When asked whether his actions might be responsible for the carnage, Sharpton denied ever being at the store. When shown video of him standing in front of the store railing at the crowd, some of who are shouting "Burn down the Jew store," Sharpton can only ask, "What's wrong with calling someone a white interloper?"

Of course, where Reverend Al is, the other Reverend is never far behind. Apparently lacking a radio show of his own, Jesse Jackson led a protest against Imus in Chicago. Jackson, whose main claim to fame was that he was standing next to Dr. King when he was shot, was also upset over the use of the word "ho." Of course, I'm sure Mrs. Jackson also dislikes hos, especially the one that had Jesse's baby a few years ago. A part time employee of Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, the woman was given $40,000 of the organization's money as a "moving expense" and currently receives 10 grand a month from Mr. Jackson for support of their daughter. Jackson and Sharpton were also the first to lead the witch hunt that was the Duke lacrosse team rape case, with Jackson offering to pay for the college education of the accuser, assumingly figuring that tuition at a junior college isn't as much as "moving expenses" and may provide the same perks.

Which brings me to the "see, I'm not just railing on black people" part of this story. Hat's off to North Carolina state attorney general Roy Cooper for finally ending the nightmare for the three accused former Duke University students who, despite a MOUNTAIN of evidence, including DNA and photographic, had rape and other charges filed against them by overzealous prosecutor Mike Nilfong. Nilfong, who I expect to shortly be disbarred, ignored every bit of evidence exonerating the three players, going so far as to withhold it from the defense. While talk of a possible civil suit against Nilfong personally is possible, I hope these boys bankrupt Durham County since Nilfong's actions came while he was acting as that country's head prosecutor. Under normal circumstances, prosecutors are immune from civil cases brought against them by the wrongly accused but these are not normal circumstances. Statements made by Nilfong publicly, including calling the players "hooligans" and stating publicly that several members of the lacrosse team were "not cooperating" with the investigation (a charge found to be false thanks to released court documents), coupled with his attempt to steer the line up and conspiring to hide the DNA evidence, put the county treasury in jeopardy. Nilfong issued an "apology" stating that "It is my sincere desire that the actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining injury that has resulted from these cases." Which is lawyer-speak for "PLEASE DON'T SUE ME!" Shame on Nilfong for playing up to the predominantly black county during election time. And shame on Duke for denying these boys due process, kicking them out of school when the incident happened (or didn't happen), as well as canceling the lacrosse season, My understanding is that this country prides itself on the words "innocent until proven guilty." Guess that doesn't apply to North Carolina. I was talking about this with a friend and I made the point that, even if one of these boys finds the cure for cancer, when they die this event will be mentioned in the first paragraph of their obituary.

Which brings me back to my opening sentence. While I'm still on my soapbox, let me say that Les Moonves and the powers at CBS have no balls. Don Imus apologized. You tell him he's suspended for two weeks. Fair punishment. Now, to appease your advertisers, you fire the man for an off color statement. Guess that whole "freedom of speech" paragraph is missing from CBS' copy of the Constitution. This isn't like yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre. Some feelings were hurt. If CBS wants to make a point, they should stop their company owned radio stations from playing music that boasts about hos, bitches and niggas. Oops, can't do that. For some reason advertisers don't mind the words if you put them to music! I'd say I was going to boycott CBS but, except for "60 Minutes" and "Shark," and with football season over, I don't even watch the channel. The company logo is known as the "EYE." They've just given themselves a black one. No pun intended.

Why is it whenever a film doesn't do as well as expected that it's deemed a flop? While the "experts" estimated that the new film "Grindhouse" would make $20 million in its opening weekend, it only brought in $11 million. STOP THE PRESSES! THE SKY IS FALLING! The answer is pretty simple. The average film runs 105 minutes, which allows most theatres to show it five times daily. "Grindhouse" is almost 3 and 1/2 hours long, giving the normal theatre a maximum of three shows a day, and that's if you start early. Most theatres went with an afternoon show and an evening show. 2 SHOWS A DAY. Had they been able to run their normal schedule, the gross would have doubled. GET IT? Good!

As mentioned on the home page, we lost a couple of greats this past week:

I think it's amazingly appropriate that Johnny Hart died during Holy Week. I know that he was often criticized for mixing his religious beliefs with his "B.C." comic strip, so dying the day before Easter is pretty prophetic. Family members say that both "B.C." and Hart's other daily strip, "The Wizard of ID," would continue. Mr. Hart was 76.

I was 13 when I first met Billy Pilgrim. Early in 8th grade I discovered on a shelf at school a copy of "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut. Obviously not meant for my young eyes (this wasn't a library book but a paperback copy that had somehow found itself into my class room), the story of a POW in a concentration camp fascinated me. Mr. Vonnegut died this week at the age of 84 from brain injuries he suffered in a fall several weeks ago. Other favorite Vonnegut novels include "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" and "Cat's Cradle." As a student at Cornell University, he enlisted in the Army during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, ended up behind enemy lines and was soon captured and sent to the camp in Dresden, Germany. While at the camp he was assigned work making vitamin supplements in a former underground meat processing plant. The old meat locker where he was assigned had the designation Slaughterhouse Five. Of course, I can't mention Kurt Vonnegut without commenting on his cameo in the Rodney Dangerfield comedy, "Back to School." As a college student, Dangerfield's character hires Vonnegut to write an essay....on the work's of Kurt Vonnegut. When the essay is given a failing grade, Dangerfield calls the author on the phone and tells him he's stopping payment on the check. After a brief exchange, Dangerfield yells into the phone, "Oh yeah, Vonnegut? Fuck me? FUCK YOU!"

Jimmy Lee Smith, whose participation in the 1963 murder of policeman Ian Campbell was the basis for the book and movie, "The Onion Field," died in a California jail this week. He was 76. Paroled in 1982 after 19 years in prison, Smith spent the rest of his life in and out of prison. Smith and Greg Powell were both convicted of the murder, though it was never proven which one of them had shot Campbell. Though the book's author (an former policeman) Joseph Wambaugh suspected Smith, the film depicts Powell as the shooter.


WHERE YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: "Videodrome," "Casino".


  • 1987 Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for "Salvador"
  • 1997 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for "Ghosts of Mississippi"
  • 1987 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for "Promise"
  • 1989 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for "My Name is Bill W."
  • 1993 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for "Citizen Cohn"
  • 1995 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for "Indictment - The McMartin Trial"
  • 2003 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special for "Rudy - The Rudy Giuliani Story"
  • 2006 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for "ER"
  • 2000 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for "Hercules."
  • 1987 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "Promise."
  • 1980 Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor for "The Onion Field"
  • 1988 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "In Love and War"
  • 1990 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "My Name is Bill W"
  • 1993 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "Citizen Cohn."
  • 1996 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "Indictment - The McMartin Trial"
  • 1997 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for "Ghosts of Mississippi"
  • 1997 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "The Summer of Ben Tyler"
  • 2001 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Motion Picture for "Dirty Pictures"
  • 1980 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor for "The Onion Field"

    Speaking of "The Onion Field," I thought it would be nice to highlight one of my favorite actors who turns the big 6 - 0 this week, James Woods.

    I first saw Woods in an early episode of "Welcome Back, Kotter," but I didn't become a fan until I saw his performance as officer Harold Bloomguard in 1977's "The Choirboys." As a young cop sent undercover to investigate a vice sting, I can still here Woods muttering to himself "Sucky/Fucky - five bucks," which he is told will be the words a prospective prostitute will say. He followed this film with a haunting performance alongside Meryl Streep in the television mini series "Holocaust." Woods burst into the public consciousness as convicted cop killer Gregory Powell in 1979's "The Onion Field." Not only was Woods mesmerizing in the film, he bore a more then passing resemblance to the real Powell, which gave the film an even more realistic feel. That he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for his performance is one of the biggest goofs in the academy's history. In the early '80s he stuck mostly to supporting roles, though he did star in director David Cronenberg's creepy "Videodrome." After appearing opposite Robert DeNiro in Sergio Leone's epic "Once Upon A Time In America," Woods earned his first Oscar nomination for playing real life photo journalist Richard Boyle in Oliver Stone's "Salvador." Woods continued getting raves while portraying real people in films including Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson and creepy New York attorney Roy Cohn. It was while playing another true life character, Byron De La Beckwith, that he earned Oscar nomination number two. Aged 70 years, Woods portrayed the accused assassin of Medgar Evers, who was finally brought to justice 30 years after the crime. While sticking with the supporting route in movies like "Casino" and "John Q," Woods found more award recognition on television, earning both Emmys and Golden Globes for his work. He also provided voices for projects as different as the "Clerks" animated series and the "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" video game. He currently stars as lawyer Sebastian Stark on the television show, "Shark." Sadly, this show is on CBS so I won't be watching it anymore.

    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.