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PCR #460 (Vol. 10, No. 3) This edition is for the week of January 12--18, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Celebs are dropping like flies this month. Shall we begin?

"The Wrestler"  by Mike Smith
R. I. P. –- Ray Dennis Steckler  by ED Tucker
Nfc/afc Championships Edition .... Gettin' Crazy With The Cheese-whiz In Arizona .... “feel Sorry For Those Giants.” .... Tony’s Coming Back To Tampa! .... Clemens Got Some Splainin’ To Do .... Pacman Jones Needs A Job .... Ravens Defeat Titans ....  by Chris Munger
Gruden Is Toast..where's The Jelly? .... Obama's Party .... Conference Championship Weekend ....  by Matt Drinnenberg
Forget The Ides Of Month - Don't Get Sick In January .... Sports Thoughts (sorry Chris) .... Speaking Of The Hall Of Fame .... Passing On .... Movie Notes .... And One From Television .... It's Oscar Time .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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As ED Tucker pointed out in the Reader's Comments, it's been a terrible month for celeb passings. The month is only half over and so far, with the deaths of Patrick McGoohan and Ricardo Montalban, we've hit nine. Which made me wonder how many we've lost in the month of January during the first 10 years of this undertaking:

2000: None. Well, actually actress Heddy (not HEDLEY) Lamar died but since Nolan didn't start the PCR until March you didn't read about it here.

2001: Jason Robards, Billy Barty, Ray Walston, Nancy Parsons (she was Buela Ballbricker in the "Porkys" films), and something Nolan called "Kitty Korner."

2002: Julia Phillips, Avery Schreiber, Peggy Lee.

2003: George Roy Hill, Richard Crenna, Nell Carter.

2004: Les Tremayne (played Mentor on "Shazam"), Ann Miller, Uta Hagen, Ron O'Neal, Noble Willingham.

2005: Johnny Carson - Jesus, that was enough!

2006: Vincent Schiavelli, Shelly Winters, Chris Penn

2007: Yvone DeCarlo, Ron Carey.

2008: Suzanne Pleshette, Brad Renfro, Allan Melvin, Heath Ledger.

Tony Dungy leaves Indy and the Bucs can Chucky?? Are you thinking what I'm thinking? And why didn't somebody tell me that Plant won the state championship? I'll tell you why...because this rag is run by a bunch of Robinson graduates, that's why! Oooh, you guys had Hulk Hogan...we only had Stephen Stills and baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. I realize we do lose points for being the alma mater of not only Gallagher but his even less funny brother, Gallagher II. And for that I apologize.

So glad to see the Astros tell Roger Clemens to not bother dropping by spring training this year. I would like to place an asterix next to one player Chris named, Rafael Palmeiro. Raffy is most famous for shaking his finger at Congress and declaring that he "had never taken steroids." When he was suspended for alledgedly taking steroids I was crushed. His defense was that he had been given Vitamin B 12 by teammate Miguel Tejada. Later it came out that Tejada was also on baseball's list of offenders so I'm hoping Raffy was indeed telling the truth and that Tejada had lied to him. Unlike Barry Bonds, Palmeiro was a consistent ball player, always good for 35 home runs and 100 rbis. I hope writers keep this in mind when it's time for the Hall of Fame vote.

And speaking of the Hall of Fame vote, HOW IN THE HELL DID JIM RICE GET IN WHEN FRED LYNN WON'T EVEN SNIFF THE HALL??? And why did the writers make Rice wait 15 years before he got in? Did he hit a couple extra home runs in the last year? The voting for the hall of fame is a joke. It's bad enough that some voters won't vote for anyone in their first year because they don't think anyone should be elected unanimously. Whoever didn't vote for Willie Mays should have his credentials taken away and his ass kicked! And 15 years is too long to be on the ballot. I can see three to five years. Since voters can only pick 10 players each year, maybe one year they feel that there are eleven worthy players but have to leave one off. That's doubtful to be repeated next year so he can vote for the odd player then. But if it took 500 people FIFTEEN YEARS to decide Jim Rice was worthy then someone's not paying attention. And how in the hell did Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy LOSE VOTES from last year? Time to change, gentlemen. Time to change. Congratulations to Rickey Henderson who WAS elected in his first year of eligibility (though not unanimously- 28 voters thought Rickey wasn't good enough).

Congratulations to Run-DMC, who this week were voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know.

Other inductees: Metallica, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. Apparently a remake with a desperate Aerosmith is a greater contribution to Rock and Roll then The Stooges. Maybe Iggy Pop should start wearing hats on stage. Or big gold chains.

As mentioned on the home page, fandom lost two giants this week:

Patrick McGoohan, best known for his work on "The Prisoner," passed away after a brief illness. He was 80. As Number Six, McGoohan played a former secret agent taken to a deserted area where he is kept against his will. McGoohan also won two Emmy awards for guest appearances on "Columbo" 15 years apart. Film roles include "Ice Station Zebra, "Quiz Show," "Silver Streak" and "Braveheart." He also reprised his "Prisoner" role in a 2000 episode of "The Simpsons."

Ricardo Montalban, Hispanic actor who helped organize so that Hispanic actors could work, also died this week at the age of 88. No cause of death was given. After small roles, mostly Spanish speaking, Montalban began gaining recognition with small roles in Esther Williams' musicals, including "Neptune's Daughter." Other film roles followed, regardless of his heritage. He co-starred in the Oscat winning "Sayonara" playing the Kabuki-faced Nakamura." Supporting roles in film and television kept him busy through the 60s and 70s. He co-starred as the animal loving circus owner Armando in both "Escape From the Planet of the Apde and "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes." In 1970 he founded the Nosotros Organization, which gave Hispanic actors a voice and helped them play convincing roles in film and television. In 1978 he took his most famous role, that of Mr. Rourke, the man in charge of "Fantasy Island." He also began narrating a series of commercials for the Chrysler Cordoba, highlighting the car interior's "fine Corinthian Leather." In 1982 he reprised his role from the "Star Trek" episode entitled "Space Seed" in the motion picture "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." His performance is generally the main reason fans give when they vote "Wrath of Khan" the best "Trek" film of the entire series. He later went on to star in "The Colbys" and won an Emmy award for his role in "How the West Was Run." His last performance was as a cow in "Family Guy."

Tom O'Horgan, theater director who staged the original productions of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," died at the age of 84. No cause of death was given. An award winning director, O'Horgan is also credited for discovering such actors as Frederick Forrest, Ron Perlman and Ben Vereen.

Fans of the graphic novel "Watchmen" can now breathe a sigh of relief. Just weeks after a judge ruled that Warner Brothers could NOT release their $130 million film adaptation the studio has made nice with fellow film company 20th Century Fox and all is now right with the world. Fox had bought the rights to the material in 1986 and when the production ended up at Warner Brothers, Fox sued for breach of contract with the original producer. After the court's decision, the two studios hammered out an agreement giving Fox a cash payment and a percentage of the box office.

Jackie Chan has been asked to play the role of Mr. Miyagi in the upcoming "Karate Kid" remake, starring Jaden Smith.

George Takei will jump from one galaxy to another when he voices the nuclear warlord Lok Durd on an episode of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."

Next Thursday, Jan 22, the annual nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced. Look for my choices no later then Wednesday night as I hope to continue my 96% accuracy rate in picking the major nominees.


Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Starring: The Bee Gees (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb), Peter Frampton and Steve Martin
Directed by: Michael Schultz


FIRST SEEN: Horizon Park 4, Tampa, Florida
FAVORITE LINE: "None, really, since the film is mostly all music. I guess I'll nominate Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry who is at least three seconds behind the vocal track while lipsyncing to "Come Together."
FAVORITE SCENE: The end credit singalong.

Where else can you see Peter Allen, Keith Allison, George Benson, Elvin Bishop,
Stephen Bishop, Jack Bruce, Keith Carradine, Rick Derringer,
Donovan, Randy Edelman, Yvonne Elliman, José Feliciano, Heart, Nona Hendryx, Barry Humphries, Etta James, Dr. John, Bruce Johnston, Mark Lindsay, Nils Lofgren, Jackie Lomax, Curtis Mayfield, 'Cousin Brucie' Morrow, Peter Noone, Alan O'Day, Robert Palmer, Wilson Pickett, Anita Pointer, Bonnie Raitt, Helen Reddy, Minnie Riperton, Chita Rivera, Johnny Rivers, Monti Rock III, Sha-Na-Na, Del Shannon, Jim Seals, Dash Crofts, Connie Stevens, Al Stewart, John Stewart, Tina Turner, Frankie Valli, Gwen Verdon, Grover Washington Jr., Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Winter, Wolfman Jack, Bobby Womack and Gary Wright all looking like they can't wait to get the hell out of there and have their promised free lunch. And don't forget Leif Garrett and Carol Channing were there also! I'm sorry, but when you have to include Monti Rock III (the club DJ in "Saturday Night Fever" and Barry Humphries (to my memory, YEARS from being popular in the states as Dame Edna) you've got to be reaching. And why only Anita Pointer? Were Ruth and June busy?

AWARDS: NONE. But it's movies like this that inspired John Wilson to found the Golden Raspberry Awards.

In 1978 producer Robert Stigwood could do no wrong. Back to back blockbuster films ("Saturday Night Fever," "Grease") had given him the power to bring any project to any studio and the powers that be would jump. At the time, Stigwood had the hottest thing in show business under contract for one more film, the star of said previous smashes Mr. John Travolta. Universal begged Stigwood for the rights to release Travolta's next film, a May-December romance co-starring Lily Tomlin called "Moment by Moment." Stigwood had one request. He'd love to work with Universal but he also had this Beatles project he wanted to get off the ground. Before you could say "I hope they find a way to squeeze both Leif Garrett AND Carol Channing into the final musical number" the deal was made and "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was underway.

Robert Stigwood was a semi-succesful manager whose firm, The Robert Stigwood Agency, handled such talents as Cream and Paul Nicholas. In 1967 he was invited by Brian Epstein to become part of NEMS Enterprises, the company that marketed the Beatles. Shortly after the merger Epstein died, and his brother Clive became managing partner. Less then a year after joining NEMS Stigwood left to form The Robert Stigwood Organization. But he took something with him...the contract of a band he had just signed...the Bee Gees.

I have tried and tried to find out how Stigwood managed to control the Beatles songs to use in the film. I know at the time that John Lennon and Paul McCartney only owned the rights to six of their songs outright through their Northern Lights publishing company. I also know that Michael Jackson outbid Paul and Yoko Ono and paid $47.5 million for the Beatles catalog in 1985. If any readers can help on this I'd be grateful.

Anywho, armed with these songs Stigwood, having produced two of the biggest selling soundtrack albums of all time (in fact, until Whitney Houston's "The Bodyguard" was released, "Fever" was the biggest selling soundtrack of all time), came up with the concept of using current musicians in a loosely scripted film built around the Beatles music. At the time, the two biggest acts in music were, of course, the Bee Gees, and Peter Frampton. His huge double album, "Frampton Comes Alive," made him a star in the U.S. and is still the biggest selling live album of all time. Pairing these talents up seemed like a no brainer to Stigwood and soon the boys were in the magical world of Pepperland. And then the horror began!

Even surrounded by a cast of pros, including George Burns, Aerosmith, Billy Preston and Steve Martin (in his feature film debut), the film suffers from two things: a bad script and worse acting. The story is muddled at best, with Billy Shears (Frampton) and the Henderson brothers (the brothers Gibb) taking their talented show on the road causing Billy to leave behind his beautiful Strawberry Fields (Sandy Farina). Meanwhile, various people drop by to sing a song and then leave. Think of it as a high school musical production where the actors don't really want to be there. The Bee Gees tried to bail in the first week but were convinced to stick it out out of loyalty to Stigwood. Frampton wanted to be a movie star and did his best. Though there were some competent musical acts, including Paul Nicholas, Alice Cooper and Earth, Wind and Fire, many of the numbers were delivered by non-singers. Think of Jack Nicholson in "Tommy" and you'll get the picture. By the time Sgt Pepper (Preston) comes to life and saves the day (and the dead Strawberry) with "Get Back" you're shaking your head and wondering why you didn't go see "Revenge of the Pink Panther" again. At least you had "Animal House" opening next week!

Here to add his two cents is long time contributor to this series ED Tucker:

I remember first seeing the previews for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in a small two screen theater in Belleview, FL. Having just become a huge Beatles fan by 1978, anything even tangently related was enough to get me excited. I was in am immediate quandary though because I was not a fan of Peter Frampton or the disco era Bee Gees. Between this conflict and the fact that film only played for about a week in my area, I never saw it in a theater. It did play continuously on HBO only a year or so later and I got to see it multiple times then.

I found the framework of the film to be very interesting with concept of Pepperland and its cosmic place in the universal scheme of things, maintaining the balance of peace. The main story about the rise to fame of the modern incarnation of the band was pretty dull and this wasn’t helped by the films almost complete lack of dialog (in it’s place you either got cover versions of the Beatles’ songs or George Burns narration). Some of the secondary performances were great though and this was my first exposure to British comedian Frankie Howard (as Mean Mr. Mustard). Most of the songs are uninspired but there are a few notable exceptions like Steve Martin’s Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Alice Cooper’s maniacal rendition of Sun King (both from the Abbey Road album). The end Get Back sequence is also entertaining but not a decent enough pay off for the 100 minutes that preceded it. I would give this film an A for concept but a C- for execution.


An interesting rumor I remember reading at the time was that Ringo Starr had been contacted and agreed to appear in the closing number that was filled with pseudo-celebrities. Unfortunately, when the day came to film the scene, the crew realized no one had remembered to tell him what day this was being done so they missed their chance at genuine, albeit minimal, Beatle involvement.

Though the film would be crucified by the critics, with only Steve Martin getting any love, the soundtrack went on to sell millions, spawning hits for both Aerosmith and Earth, Wind and Fire. The Bee Gees recovered nicely and toured the world. Frampton released "Im In You," which, because it didn't sell like "Comes Alive" was deemed a failure. Sandy Farina went on to appear on "Star Search" in 1985, only to get crushed by Catte Adams. She did place a song on the "Toxic Avenger" soundtrack so she still lives in fanboy memory. Steve Martin became, well, STEVE MARTIN! Sadly, this was British comedian Frankie Howerds' last film.

NEXT WEEK: Why just because she's your daughter doesn't mean she should be in your movie. Sophia Coppola gives the kiss of death to "The Godfather Part III.

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

"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 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 ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.