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PCR #447 (Vol. 9, No. 42) This edition is for the week of October 13--19, 2008.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Odds and ends for the week. Shall we begin?

"W."  by Mike Smith
The Yellow Submarine Chronicles Part Six: There’s Only One Way to Go Out  by ED Tucker
The Last Debate .... Palin And Biden .... Pain In My Glute .... Red Sox/rays  by Matt Drinnenberg
October Classic .... Passing On .... Movie Notes .... Nice Try, Tubby .... Take That Homeland Security .... Not Just A Clever Title .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1973 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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I must agree with Matt that game 5 of the AL Playoffs was pretty damn exciting. After years of being teased (I still own t-shirts proclaiming the Tampa Bay Giants and Tampa Bay White Sox) I threw my allegiance to the Baltimore Orioles so I'm not, per say, a Rays fan. Still, it would be nice to have the World Series and Super Bowl held in the same area. Now if we can only get the Bucs to the big game, that would be beautiful.

Guillaume Depardieu, son of famed French actor Gerard Depardieu, died this week from pneumonia. He was 37. An actor like his father, the younger Depardieu had just finished recording songs for his debut album.

Jack Narz, a game show host for three decades, passed away at the age of 85. No cause of death was given. In the 50s and 60s Narz hosted shows like "Dotto," "I'll Bet" and "Seven Keys." In the 1970s he hosted "Concentration" and "Beat the Clock." Narz was the host of "Dotto" when the show was pulled off the air amidst accusations of the games being rigged. He maintained that he new nothing of any cheating despite former contestants' claims.

Edie Adams, widow of Ernie Kovacs and long time stage and television star, passed away due to complications from cancer and pneumonia. She was 81. A graduate of Julliard, Ms. Adams made her television debut on Ernie Kovacs popular comedy show in 1951. A year later she married Kovacs, who was killed in a car accident in 1962. Sadly, their only child, Mia, also died in a car accident 20 years later. She won the 1957 Tony Award for her portrayal of Daisy Mae in "Lil' Abner." That same year she starred as the Fairy Godmother in the first televised version of Rodgers and Hammersteins' "Cinderella." Not only was she a popular television guest, earning three Emmy nominations, but she also starred in a popular series of commercials for Muriel Cigars, a campaign that ran for 19 years. When Kovacs died she learned that he owed the I.R.S. hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. Kovacs did not believe in "the system" and refused to pay taxes. Refusing any offers of help Adams found enough work to pay off the debt. She appeared in films ranging from the good ("The Apartment," "Lover Come Back," "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" to the not so good ("The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood." In 1984 she appeared as Mae West in the television biography "Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter." Her last appearance was on 2004's "Great Performances," which was a rebroadcast of "Cinderella" featuring rememberances from the cast.

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops, passed away in his sleep this week. He was 72. In 1953, Stubbs (whose birth name was Subbles), Abdul 'Duke' Fakir, Renaldo 'Obie' Benson and Lawrence Payton formed a group they called the Four Aims. They later changed it to the Four Tops so as not to be confused with The Ames Brothers. The group signed with Motown in 1963 and in the next decade produced 20 top ten hits, including "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "Bernadette" and "Standing in the Shadows of Love." The group stayed together for more then 40 years, only adding a member when an original Top passed on. Payton is now the only surviving member of the group. Stubbs gained a new generation of fans when he voiced Audrey II, the killer plant in "Little Shop of Horrors."

Quite a big week for Zac Effron. Not only is he turning 21 but he is rumored to be in the plans for two big films. First up he will follow in Kevin Bacon's footsteps (or Peter Tramm's, depending on what scene you're watching) in a new version of "Footloose." He also is set to star opposite Johnny Depp in the fourth "Pirates" film.

A long time friend of the late Herve' Villachez is planning a film biography of the former "Fantasy Island" co-star. No word on who would play Tatoo but if I'm Vern Troyer's agent I'm sitting by the phone.

This week the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from 41 year old Richard Cooey, who was on Ohio's death row for the murder of two college students more then 20 years ago. Cooey claims that because of his size (5'7" and 267 pounds) that he was too fat to receive a lethal injection because if would be too hard to find a vein and he would "suffer." Because the case was rejected, Fatty Fat Fatty went off to hell earler this week. If I was on the court I would have said, "fine, no needles. We're going to hang you instead. I'm sure you're neck will break just fine with that big ass of yours pulling it down!" Apparently the doctor administering the lethal cocktail just poked around until he hit gravy, then pushed the plunger.

Yusaf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, and I have a lot in common. We both have beards. We both write songs (though I'd say that one of us has been a little more successful then the other in this field). And we both can't board an airplane without permission. Yes, like Mr. Islam, I am on the "no flight" list, probably due to my very common first and last name and not for any prior terrorist activity. It was back in PCR issue #235 that I highlighted Islam's problems with getting into the country after his flight from London to Nashville was diverted to Maine after his name popped up on the do not fly list. Of course, he was ALREADY on the plane and over the Atlantic when they caught the problem which really makes you wonder how the system works. Next year Islam will release a song entitled "Boots and Sand," which will tell the story of this adventure. In the song, Islam sings about taking a journey to "the birth land of rock and roll" only to be told "you're on our no-song list." Guest vocalists including Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss join Islam on the song.

The American Heart Association has declared that the musical beat of the Bee Gee's "Staying Alive" is the perfect rythym to use when doing CPR. So if you come across someone unconcious on the floor, just ask yourself "What would Barry, Robin and Maurice do?" and get to work!


Perhaps the Devil made the Streaker do it!

April 2, 1974. Oscar night. And though the event will always be remembered as the night Robert Opall ran bare assed past David Niven and Liz Taylor, there was also a lot of excitement going on with the movies. The best picture nominees were as diverse as could be. Films about youth, gangsters and the devil battled each other for the big prize. The nominees were: "A Touch of Class," "American Graffiti," "Cries and Whispers," "The Exorcist" and "The Sting." Pretty nice list, with something for everyone. From Harrison Ford in a cowboy hat to Linda Blair masturbating with a crucifix, you couldn't find a stranger group of films to be linked together. The battle really came down to "The Exorcist" and "The Sting." The former had shocked audiences and wowed critics while the latter was a classic feel good comedy, where the bad guy gets it in the end and this time Newman and Redford didn't die. Of course, looking back, as impressive as the cast of "The Sting" was (besides Paul and Bob, you had Robert Shaw, Eileen Brennan and classic supporting actors including Charles Durning, Ray Walston, Harold Gould and Dana Elcar) you'd have to rob Fort Knox to pay for the cast of "Graffiti" only five years later. Besides the unknown Ford, the cast included other unknowns like Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Candy Clark, Kathleen Quinlan, Paul LeMat (probably the most underated member of the cast) and Charlie Martin Smith. Of course, as in most years (see "Driving Miss Daisy" over "Born on the Fourth of July" or "Forrest Gump" over "Pulp Fiction" or "Dances With Wolves" over "Goodfellas" or....ok, I could do this all day. OK, one more..."One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" over "JAWS." There. I feel better) the academy went with the safe film, choosing "The Sting" as the Best Picture winner.

Best Director played out like the song on "Sesame Street;" One of these things just doesn't belong. The nominees: George Lucas (American Graffiti), Ingmar Bergman (Cries and Whispers), William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris) and George Roy Hill (The Sting). If you guessed George Lucas, give yourself a hand. Never (ok, maybe John Carpenter) has a filmmaker LOST his talent more then Lucas. His next film, "Star Wars" was well done but after that, it's all down hill. Maybe it's the 20 years he took off between stints in the director's chair. Maybe it's the fact that he relies on computers too much. Either way, this guy needs to go back to USC and get his money back. Early money was on Friedkin, who already had a directing Oscar from his last film, "The French Connection." In fact, on the set of "The Exorcist," his director's chair featured his name and an Oscar statuette. While many assumed it was there because of the award he had already one, he told crew members that it was for the one he was going to win for "The Exorcist." Of course, this was to be Friedkin's last nomination (to date). Lucas nabbed one more (for "Star Wars") and Bertolucci won for 1988s "The Last Emperor." Unbelievable as it sounds, in spite of nine nominations, Ingmar Bergman NEVER won an Oscar, though he did get a Thalberg Award late in his career. The winner tonight was George Roy Hill.

In the Best Actor Race, the nominees included: Jack Nicholson (The Last Detail), Maron Brando and his stick of butter (Last Tango in Paris), Jack Lemmon (Save the Tiger), Al Pacino (Serpico) and Robert Redford (The Sting). The surprise here was Redford. Not for the nomination but for the film. That same year he starred opposite Barbra Streisand in the all time romance "The Way We Were" and probably should have been nominated for that film. Controversy in this category was caused by Jack Lemmon's outright campaigning for the award. Trade ads, talk show appearances...Lemmon worked the room like a pro. And when he won, he wasn't apologetic. Proclaiming his love for acting, Lemmon won not only the award but the respect of his peers with his speech. This was Redford's only acting nomination (to date) though he did win on Oscar for directing "Ordinary People." It took nearly 20 years and another six nominations until Pacino finally won his Oscar. Nicholson would win Best Actor two years later for "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" and would add two more Oscars (one for Best Actor the other for Supporting Actor) to his mantle before the end of the century. Brando would be nominated for his supporting role in "A Dry White Season) in 1990.

On the ladies' side, the nominees for Best Actress were: Glenda Jackson (A Touch of Class), Marsha Mason (Cinderella Liberty), Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), Joanne Woodward (Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams) and Barbra Streisand (The Way We Were). A who's who of actresses, all talented and deserving. In fact, all of them, with the exception of Mason, already had or would go on to win an Oscar. This was Mason's only nomination (out of four) in which the role she played wasn't written by her husband, Neil Simon. Burstyn was thought to be the front runner but the winner was Jackson, who had previously won the Supporting Actress award in 1969 for "Women in Love." Burstyn would get her the next year for "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and was robbed by Julia Roberts in 2001 for "Requiem For A Dream."

Best Supporting Actor was a mixture of young and old. The nominees included: Vincent Gardenia (Bang the Drum Slowly), Jason Miller (The Exorcist), Randy Quaid (The Last Detail), John Houseman (The Paper Chase) and Jack Gilford (Save the Tiger). Miller, an accomplished playwright (That Championship Season) was making his film debut while Quaid was only 2 years into his career. Gardenia and Houseman were stage veterans while Gilford was (and probably still is) best known as the store keeper in the popular "Cracker Jacks" commercials. For some reason, none of the stars of "American Graffiti" made this list, though Dreyfuss and LeMat certainly deserved a nod. The academy went with the veteran here, as Houseman, whose school of acting had turned out many an academy member, was named the winner.

For Best Supporting Actress had the kids outnumbering the vet. The nominees were: Candy Clark (American Graffiti), Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Madeline Kahn and Tatum O'Neal (Paper Moon) and Sylvia Sidney (Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams). Sidney was 63 while the combined ages of the other nominees was 84, with Kahn the oldest in her early 30s. Blair seemed to be the early favorite. However, when the academy learned that actress Mercedes Macambridge had provided the "voice" of the devil and that a dummy had been used in most of the physical scenes, the nomination was almost withdrawn. It stayed but the damage was done. The winner was O'Neal, who at age 10 became the youngest winner of a competitive award in Academy history.

My final thoughts here concern the "streaker." When you see footage of the event next time (and it's readily available) watch how quickly David Niven had his quip about the only way the man could gain fame was by stripping and showing off his short comings. Now Niven was a great writer as well as an actor but he has that line on his lips a little to fast in my mind. Notice also how the camera angle is just high enough so that Mr. Opalls short comings are not shown off. Staged? Probably, but still pretty funny.

Well, that's all for now. I promise to be here early next week as I will be spending the weekend in the swamps of Jersey attending the world famous ChillerTheater convention. Look for photos, stories and maybe a few interviews in the near future. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.