I'm sure you've heard of the woman who was trapped in her SUV for eight days. By the time police found her, alive remarkably, she was dehydrated, injured and her kidney's had given out. Her doctor says she is still not out of danger and is, as of this writing, in critical condition.
When her husband told the press that he had difficulty in getting the police to begin a search for her when she failed to return home from work, one officer is quoted as saying "It's not that we didn't take him seriously," Deputy Rodney C. Chinnick said. "We don't take every missing person report on adults ... If we did, we'd be doing nothing but going after missing person reports."
Well, I guess in a way that does make sense. Heck, if they took every report on crime, they'd be doing nothing but going after criminals. Heck, if they took every report on dead people, they'd be doing nothing but trying to find the cause of those deaths.
Yeah how silly of the husband of this woman to expect that deputy to protect and serve.
Sean William Scott is an actor I really like. I like him for a couple of reasons. First, I think he's funny. I think he has this exuberance that comes out in many of his roles that just makes me want to smile. And I think he's a good actor. Too many times we discount actors whose projects are mainly comedies because it's so much easier to marvel at someone who has to be anguished or cry on screen than someone who plays the straight man, or the buffoon. If those reasons weren't enough, he's also nice to look at.
I love Susan Sarandon. Besides being a terrific actress, she seems to choose roles not based on anything other than variety. Now I said she seems to. For all I know she may have a great career plan that includes every type of film she's starred in, but I would think she goes for what intrigues her. Oh, and the other thing I like about Susan Sarandon is that she's pretty darned nice to look at too.
I have a little bit of a dilemma with Billy Bob Thornton. I do believe he's a terrific actor. But I don't always like the stuff he's starred in. I'm not sure if it's he that rubs me the wrong way sometimes, or the parts he plays, but as nice as he too is to look at, sometimes I'd just rather not.
What I can say about Mr. Woodcock is that this movie brings together an impressive above the line cast who are all accomplished actors, two of whom won Academy Awards. What I can also say about this movie is their incredible talent doesn't help this movie one bit.
You can see what the moral of the story, the great revelation, will be from the very first scene. The next nearly two hours are spent wondering when our main character will catch on.
Sean William Scott plays fatherless John Farley, a chubby kid in school who was harassed by Mr. Woodcock the gym teacher (Thornton) throughout his young life. So hated was Mr. Woodcock's catch phrase of "don't let go" when doing pull ups that the now adult Farley has become a motivational speaker. The title of his book? It's Okay To Let Go.
During a book signing tour, Farley comes home to visit mom (Sarandon) only to discover, much to his shock, she is dating Mr. Woodcock.
The remainder of the film is spent watching Farley lose his composure, and self respect. Only in the end (spoiler if you really care) does he realize it was Mr. Woodcock's constant pressure on him to do his very best that made him lose his weight and become the success that he is today.
The premise for the story isn't a bad one. In fact, I was kind of looking forward to a little off color humor. You know, scenes that make you cringe while you're laughing. Sadly, there were none in this movie. Actually, there was no laughing in this movie.
No, maybe that's not right, there is one scene, featuring supporting actor and Saturday Night Live alumn Amy Poehler (who seems to be in a completely different movie as she was the only thing fun to watch) on a plane that had me laugh out loud. Oh, and there is one scene at the very end that was a funny sight gag. But two scenes in the span of as many hours?
I have to say that I didn't think the story was very well developed. Again, the big revelation stares you in the face from the very first scene. Actors aren't given the chance to shine with most seemingly just walking through the movie hoping, like us, that it will just end soon.
While Craig Gillespi has parlayed a commercial directing career into features, the direction was lacking too. I don't mean to say the direction was awful, it wasn't. But it certainly wasn't inspired either. With pacing a little off and shots as standard as ... well an uninspired commercial, the movie just wasn't interesting to watch.
If you have the chance to see Mr. Woodcock, I'd pass. Great actors can't lift this movie from a bad script and so-so direction.
When I went to see Sydney White I wasn't expecting amazing acting, innovative directing or an inspiring story. And, well, I have to admit they delivered on my lack of expectation. With that said, however, Sydney White really doesn't disappoint. I mean it is what it is, and what it is, I guess, is a nice respite for those poor kids aged 11 to 13 who have to spend their weekdays in classrooms.
A very heavy handed retelling of the Snow White story, Sydney White follows our main character, yep, Ms. S. White, as she heads off to college, tries to fit in with the cool girls of the top sorority and falls for Prince Charming, er, fraternity brother Tyler Prince. Of course the evil Rachel Witchburn (Sorority President) wants Prince for herself, and even stoops so low as to plant a virus on her Apple computer....poisoned apple ... get it?
I know I'm being a bit hard on this movie and I really don't mean to be. I've seen a lot worse lately, I really have. In fact, while the story is simple, the directing adequate and the acting certainly worthy, I can see how kids would enjoy this movie. I enjoyed it to a degree. In fact, I laughed out loud several times which is something I wish I could say for Mr. Woodcock (I'll post about that later).
It might have been smarter for producers to release this movie a little earlier in the summer when the kid's who this movie is marketed to would have the most chance of seeing it.
Amanda Bynes is a fun actress to watch. She has parlayed a very full television resume into a blossoming movie career and while this isn't the strongest use of her talent, I can't help but remember her performance as Penny Pingleton in Hairspray where she was nothing short of wonderful.
Bynes is beautiful to be sure, but in the land of make believe where actresses are freakishly skinny, and disconcertingly flawless, Bynes comes across as a refreshingly beautiful young lady. She has a natural attractiveness that hasn't been overly manipulated by Hollywood. I hope she continues on her current path because, to be honest, I will most likely run out to see her next movie. I think she's someone who will be around for quite some time, and will surprise us as she hones her acting chops with each succeeding role.
Matt Long (Jack & Bobby) is a great addition as the prince charming character. Handsome as all get out, he carries himself well and reads lines as if he truly believes them. Of everyone in the cast he is perhaps the most believable, even though I'm sure that wasn't a requirement for the role. Long is nice to look at and almost underplays his role in a movie where being over-the-top seemed to be encouraged.
The cast is rounded out with Sarah Paxton as the evil sorority president Rachel Witchburn and writer even throws in some "evil sisters," from the sorority. Now, I'm not as up to date on my Brothers Grimm as maybe I should, but weren't the evil step sisters in Cinderella?
Anyway, while I doubt I will rush out to buy the DVD, I have spent worse times in a movie theater.
What does irritate me, however, is that the story could have been better written. I know it's target audience probably wouldn't have cared, or noticed a tighter, less heavy handed script, but there was an opportunity to appeal to an even wider audience. I mean, anyone remember Clueless? Granted, not targeted to 11 year olds, but still, a wonderful adaptation of previous work (Jane Austen) and, well, you can please more people by writing a smart, tight script than by simply going for the obvious.
A special acknowledgment should go out to Casting Director Pam Dixon. She has compiled a fun cast, most of whom are with mid level agencies. Anymore it's almost impossible to see actors from mid level agencies in anything but minor roles or commercials, but here Dixon isn't afraid to put good talent in a variety of supporting roles, some major, regardless of their agencies.
In the end, there are worse things you could do with an evening than spending it watching Sydney White. I know that isn't a ringing endorsement, but while I wasn't surprised by the writing, directing or acting, I really wasn't disappointed either.
To anyone who lived in San Diego in 1977 and was old enough to remember, Flight 182 has a special meaning.
On this morning, some 29 years ago, right at about 9:00 am, a PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) plane was heading in for a landing at the downtown airport Lindberg Field.
Air Traffic Control alerted PSA 182 that there was a small Cessna in the area and to keep visual contact with that craft.
For whatever reason, visual contact was lost and what happened in the next two minutes would galvanize a city, change the way aircraft were handled in the area, and be branded into the memories of children and adults who lived in that city for the rest of their lives.
For some odd reason, I was actually not at school that morning. And I know it was a school day, but for whatever reason I wasn't in school.
I remember it being very hot. That wasn't so unusual since September is actually the hottest month for San Diego. There had been a series of fires burning in the east county which was basically undeveloped land covered with brush and trees. It was not uncommon to see plumes of smoke rise in the distance. Black at first, then as the hours progressed, the smoke turning gray and finally white as the air tankers, helicopters and firefighters on the ground would get a hold of the blaze.
But this fire was different.
I remember seeing a huge pillar of black smoke rising from what was obviously not the east county. I remember thinking how odd it was that a fire so big would occur in the boundaries of the city. Then I noticed helicopters flying about the smoke. I began to get an eerie feeling. This didn't seem like a normal brush fire, but what it was would never have occurred to me. It just wouldn't have.
Inside the house I told my mom about what I had seen, and while we turned the television on, there was no news yet about the fire. So we turned on the radio. And the announcer was giving a report that a small plane had crashed in North Park.
As anyone who has been to San Diego knows, the airport is nestled just north of downtown, west of suburbs and east of the peninsula that is Point Loma. It's a single lane runway and some pilots have commented on how tricky it is to land. You basically have to drop onto the tarmac because of the surrounding hills.
But we would come to find out that landing wasn't the issue here. The problem was that a small plane had indeed crashed, but so had a passenger jet.
PSA was a West Coast carrier whose home base was San Diego. They offered flights throughout California (and the West) on an hourly basis back in the day when most flights were still mostly empty with just a scattering of passengers. They flew so often to destinations around the state that it was not uncommon to find a flight from San Diego to Los Angeles for under $20 and they were considered a very friendly airline to fly. In fact, each of their aircraft had a smile painted just under the nose that made each craft look not only happy, but familiar.
Until this day, PSA had never had an accident that resulted in fatalities. That would all change. In fact, on September 25, 1978, I believe the PSA crash was the costliest in terms of lives in the nation's history. It was certainly the largest loss of life for a commercial jet in California history, and I think that horrific honor still stands.
As information began to pour in, we learned that the two planes had collided, that both went down, and went down in a residential neighborhood. Because of the hour of day, fatalities on the ground could have been much worse. But the devastation on the ground was bad.
I remember a few days later, a friend told me of how she was rushed home from school, and they wouldn't let her into her neighborhood. The area was secured far beyond the actual crash site because debris had scattered over such a large area. It was not just metal parts and pieces. It was also human remains.
My friend thought the worst and only learned some time later that her mother was not at home, and while the house was not in the direct line of the crash, it suffered damage from the ensuing fire.
Flight 182 was a horrible accident that was difficult for me to comprehend. I knew that planes could crash. But I would never think one could fall in a neighborhood, let alone a neighborhood in my city.
While I was saddened by the tragedy, it wasn't until the next day that it truly hit me. Hans Wendt, a photographer for the county was at an outdoor event when he heard the sound of something in the air. He looked up to see a plane engulfed in flames and began to take pictures.
One of his pictures appeared on the cover of the San Diego Union and I couldn't stop crying. Captured, in the flash of a second, was a plane, it's wing slightly damaged, but engulfed in flame, careening toward the earth and an ugly angle. All I could think about was the people on that plane. What was it they were thinking of at the moment that was caught by Wendt's camera?
It was obvious from that photograph that the passengers, and crew, had time to contemplate their fate. And that was something I couldn't fathom at my age.
Some time later, the NTSB released transcripts of the interaction between Flight 182 and Air Traffic Control. In fact, my memory says that they also released the audio recording, but that may just be faulty memory.
In any case, I recall the transcript, some of it deleted because it had nothing to do with the investigation. But I remember one sentence, the last sentence, uttered by someone unidentified; "Ma, I love you," was the final words of a son to his mother and the last words uttered by a member of the doomed flight.
So much has happened in the ensuing years, traffic around Lindberg Field is handled in a different way now than it was that hot morning. But the airport is still located where it was, and from all indicators, there's no chance of it moving anytime soon.
Though September 25th doesn't have the hold on me it once did. The words Flight 182 still do and it is just chance I imagine, that it all came back to me today. 144 people including 7 on the ground lost their lives that morning and because of that I didn't want to post any photographs or the transcript of the cockpit. But that information is readily available on the Internet. For me, and I'm sure for San Diegan's where ever they are now, who were around during that time, it's still a very painful memory.
Back in my theater days I had a friend who served as House Manager to a local theater. My friend was a member emeritus of our theater group having graduated years earlier, though he would occasionally come to our parties and every once in a while honor us with his presence on stage. To this day, his performance of Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar is, and I kid not, the best I have seen.
Yes, to say someone is great in an Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice production may not be saying much, but trust me, he was wonderful in everything he did and was truly better than any other in that role that I've seen. ANd I've seen that show more times than I care to mention.
My friend had a tremendous voice, a tremendous command of character and, in turn, an incredible command of the audience. I once asked him why he didn't audition more, and his answer was simple; "I don't want to."
Simple for him, maybe, but I couldn't understand why someone who was so good at what he did, who had people offer him roles without having to read, didn't do it more.
To him it was fun, and it was work, but it was ultimately more work than fun. Were a part that sounded interesting come along, he'd surely go for it, but those parts, at the time anyway, were few and far between. Instead, he enjoyed house managing. This way he could see (between his trips to New York and London) all the touring companies as they came through town.
One day he called, which was a little unusual. I mean, we were friends, but certainly not telephone friends and while we spoke at parties, or at the theater and had fun, we didn't really hang out together. So I was a little surprised at his call.
"Are you doing anything tonight?" He asked.
"No." I wasn't.
"Then you're coming to the theater, Marcel Marceau is performing, and I've been given a couple of tickets."
Okay, the first thing that ran through my mind, okay, several things ran through my mind, all of which involved a guy in white face walking against the wind, trapped in a box or trying to move forward while holding an imaginary rope.
When I stammered a bit to find my answer, my friend chided me. "If you have any interest in acting, if you have any love for theater, then you will show up tonight," he concluded.
"Okay," was all I could think of to reply.
What would transpire over an hour or two that evening was something I could never have imagined. To say that Marceau was a master would be an understatement. Here stood a man on a massive stage, black drape for a background wearing a sailor suit, and an old top hat with a red flower. His face was painted like a Harlequin, and he stood alone, and just as he stood there in silence, looking to the audience, we did the same. Not a sound was heard from the hundreds waiting for him to begin.
Marceau proceeded to tell one story after another. Some were hilarious, some were quite sad, and nearly all reflective. From the strong and loud tap of his foot on the stage, he could direct your attention to a matter of great import. From his soft smile, or tortured face, the movement of him removing a lifetime of memories from a giant trunk in the attic that existed only in his mind, and ours, we saw the tragedy and horrors of war.
As I sit here and type this I am astonished that my eyes are filled with tears, just as they were in the theater that evening.
His was a performance that defies explanation. To say someone is a mime is to wait for the punch line. But for Marcel Marceau, pantomime was a life. A way to communicate with everyone in the world regardless of their language.
I remember that night ended so quickly. He received a long standing ovation, of which I can only assume he was accustom, but to a young guy, who loved theater, who loved acting, he introduced an centuries old art form that I had no idea existed in the manner in which he performed. I was beside myself with gratitude. I was grateful my friend gave me the tickets, but even more grateful still, that I had the chance to see a master at his peak. To see an art form I never understood, performed by the best there was. I was grateful that I had learned an entirely new respect of performance.
As I related the story to friends the next day, I found myself talking about all the scenery, the props and the different characters. Only to be asked about that scenery, those props and who the other mimes were. Only then, did Marceau's genius really sink in. There were no props, there was no scenery and there was only Marceau.
And as images flood back to me of that very special evening. I can't help but have to push the invisible elements out of the way. His performance was so great, that I cannot remember where it was that his pantomime began, I can only remember scenes, and stories, and laughter and tears and all done without use of voice, or sets or scenery, only incredible talent.
Sad news that Alice Ghostley passed away late last week.
For those who don't know of Alice Ghostley, it is safe to say you have missed a great punch line in television comedy. Punch line because she so often played that part.
Though, in the 70s, often referred to as the female Paul Lynde (don't EVEN say you don't know who he is) she was really her own actress with her own style. I remember watching an interview with her once, and she commented on how people thought Lynde and her were either related, or perhaps she "borrowed" some of his mannerisms. Her answer was quite simple; she was her own person, and Lynde was his own, and if their mannerisms seemed similar, so be it. And that was as good an answer as anyone should expect. And now that I come to think of it, I don't remember many references to Paul Lynde after that interview.
A successful Broadway actress who transitioned to film and television quite well, it was the moniker 'actress' that best describes her. Not only was she funny, and serious, a singer and a performer, she was all of those thing equally, and that's what made her a wonderful actress. She won a Tony Award for her supporting performance as Rita Moreno's sister in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. She was also nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Bernice Clifton in the long running series Designing Women.
Like many, I first took notice of her on reruns of Bewitched. Of all the television series' that have come and gone, I have to say (and maybe it's just because I was so young at the time) it seems like those of the late 60s and 70s had such an impact on me. Besides loving Bewitched, I loved nearly every character on that show. And Ghostley's portrayal of the nervous, bumbling Esmerelda was a character I couldn't wait to appear.
She would make special guest appearances on television throughout the coming decades, but she was reintroduced to a whole new group of fans with her Bernice Clifton role. Playing the forgetful, neighbor who said more than she sometimes should, she was always hilarious and her Emmy win was much deserved.
I suppose there are outstanding character actresses, and actors, in todays television landscape, but I can honestly only think of a handful. And of those, I don't know how many will leave long lasting impressions.
While Ghostley may not have been on television lately due to ill health, she wasn't forgotten. And the notice of her passing is a sad one. Not only for her friends and family, but for her fans, and the entertainment industry as a whole.
The treasury department today unveiled a new look for the Five Dollar bill.
When I was in High School I had a part time job at a bank. It was really cool for about the first two weeks, then I realized it was a job and unless I made working in a vault a career, there would probably be many more to come.
One of the great things about working in the vault was the dress code. The only people to see you were other bank employees, or armored car drivers. We never dealt with the public so no need to really dress up. Where others in the bank could look forward to "Casual Fridays" where they employees could forgo the coat and tie or expensive dress, for us, every day was Casual Friday.
The other interesting thing was being around so much money. On the first day I walked into the vault I was surprised to learn a) that people could work in a vault and b) that there were telephones and such in the vault. But the most obvious thing I took in was the amount of money sitting around.
Granted, it never sat around for long, it was entered, counted, and then shipped out within the day, with some left on hand for other branches. But I was just really floored as I had never seen so much money.
The first words out of my mouth were something to that effect and asked how much was in the vault. No one said a word, and it wasn't until about two weeks later that I learned they weren't too keen on talking about amount to someone they didn't know.
I saw my fair share of counterfeits while working there. Some that were so awful (cut and paste jobs, I am completely serious) I couldn't believe they got passed. And others that were so excellent that it gave us pause.
As many people know our currency is made from special paper that has a very high cotton content. It's what makes the money "feel" like money. It is nearly impossible to duplicate that feeling. But often times we're given change with a variety of bills thrust into our hand and we look to check the denomination, but not the "feel." We put it in our wallet or purse, only later when we plan to use the bill to we take notice, if even then.
I learned, while working at the bank, that One Dollar bills were rarely counterfeited. They were worth ... well, only a dollar, and the penalty for going to jail was the same for making a One Dollar bill as it was for making a One Hundred bill. And by passing a fake hundred, you could at least get real change in return. Change from a dollar is going to be coin and it would take a lot of that to add up to any real fortune.
All of this is brought up because the Five Dollar bill wasn't originally going to be altered. The prevailing thought was the five was similar in reasoning as the One Dollar bill in that there were fewer counterfeits of that bill because the return was potentially too low. Well, apparently that is no longer the case.
With computer technology what it is, and desktop publishing, it seems nearly all things are game. The new five has (like some of the other redesigned bills) colorful ink added to the mix and probably one of the most stand out elements of the bill is the larger number 5 on its reverse to help those who may be visually impaired.
While American's never seemed to have much trouble with our currency, some foreign visitors did. Our "greenbacks" were all the same size, same color and with few exceptions, same in design. Only the portrait and numbers varied. Granted one would argue that should be enough to determine one bill from another. But it's amazing when you're in a foreign country, you don't want to hold up the line behind you and even with different colors, sizes and marking, you just throw bills at the counter attendant and hope to goodness you've given them the correct amount. Hopefully the new designes and colors will make that less common.
So, the times, they are a changing. I guess the One Hundred Dollar bill is next in line for another makeover. It'll be interesting to see what they do to ol' Ben Franklin.
A new feature here at the Beach Compound (Thanks L) that is The Pre-Read takes a look at stars/celebrities who had at least a bit of fame, only to fall into obscurity.
Now, obscurity is relative really. I mean, because a person doesn't appear on my television screen each week, or at the theater once a year doesn't mean they don't exist, it just means I am curious as to what they're dong now.
This installment surrounds a television actor from the 1970s. Wes Stern was a young actor who had guest roles in a few television shows of the time. But his big break came when he appeared (with teen heartthrob Bobby Sherman) in an episode of The Partridge Family that really served as the launching pad for a proposed spinoff.
That spinoff would become Getting Together. And the premise of the series, not unlike The Partridge Family episode where it originated, followed the exploits of Bobby Conway (Sherman) a musician/singer who had no talent for writing lyrics. In the set-up, Danny Partridge (Danny Bonaduce) teams Conway with a friend who is tone deaf. The friend is Lionel Poindexter (Stern) and hilarity ensues as the two decide to make a go of being a musical team in the rough and tumble music mecca that is Hollywood.
I really don't remember much about the show to be honest, the one defining memory of Stern, I'm sorry to say, is a poster that my next door neighbor used to have hanging on her wall. Next to the poster of David Cassidy was a giant poster of Bobby Sherman and Wes Stern.
The poster was a marketing tool for Getting Together and featured an image of both actors, but the sad thing about it was the poster was probably 95% Sherman, with Stern occupying a very small circle toward the bottom of the piece.
The publicity image below was nothing similar to the Tiger Beat poster and I remember feeling kind of sorry for the guy who obviously wasn't the focus of the piece.
As a kid I used to watch a lot of television, a lot of it reruns apparently. And one show that I remember though wasn't a huge fan of was That Girl with Marlo Thomas --stay with me here, this does connect in some weird way --.
That Girl was a series with a bevy of plots and subplots, but the most obvious to me, and now that I think about it, probably the least strongest, was that Ann Marie (Thomas) was an aspiring actress. All she needed for her big break was a hit commercial or a small part on a television show. What she got, however, were background extra scenes that the family would gather around the television to watch, always culminating in her either being cut from a scene, or only partial visible.
Now, back to Wes Stern. The reality of That Girl to me, was that anyone who had a small part on a television show, or a starring part on a commercial was set for life. I would find out later, that a scenario such as that was far from the truth. And Wes Stern is a prime example.
I had thought of him, in passing, through my young television watching years wondering how in the heck someone who had their own television series not be super-duper famous. And if Getting Together was canceled, surely it would only be a matter of time before he chose another show to star in.
It's almost embarrassing to realize how naive I was in my youth. But that's part of what the Hollywood mystique is right? It's that one big chance. It's that magic that can happen to just about anyone.
Obviously the Entertainment Business is a business and things don't work in real life as they might on television. And that is true whether you're a young actress looking for her big break, or a tone deaf lyricist waiting for his.
Sad news that Brett Somers passed away this past Saturday.
It really does feel like some of my childhood is slipping away. Granted I'm far from being a child (well in size anyway) but there is something profoundly sad about seeing hallmarks of your youth pass by.
Match Game (where I first became familiar with Somers) was a fast paced game show that featured host Gene Rayburn, Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, and a hilarious line-up of current television talent. The show made great use of double and triple entendre that were not just risque, but terribly funny. It was great to watch a collection of celebrities relax, play the game for fun, not necessarily strategy, and just enjoy each others company.
It was Brett Somers who I always felt a little sorry for as the butt of jokes by Reilly or other members of the panel. But just as I was feeling bad for her, she'd say something just as biting, and all would laugh and move on to the next question.
I don't know that there are many shows like Match Game in our future. And I certainly know there are no Brett Somers in the wings. She was one of a kind. And while I will always remember her with her big glasses (to rival Reilly's it seemed) I wanted to post this photo of her because she really was beautiful. Both outside and in.