Thursday, September 21, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: 9/21/17

In an interview with talk show host Doctor Oz airing on Thursday, Pres. Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka revealed that she suffered from "some level" of postpartum depression after delivering each of her three children.

In related news, a majority of Americans reported suffering from "a lot of levels" of postvotem depression.




In an interview with People magazine, Anthony Bourdain explains why he and his new girlfriend, Asia Argento, are perfect for each other.

"It's very simple," Bourdain said. "She's 20 years younger than me, and I'm rich."










Other "disgusting" marriages would involve anyone who looked or talked like him.










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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BACK TO BACK AND BACK AGAIN

Following a six or eight week break in most television production in New York, resulting in slim pickings job-wise, I resumed regular extra work in late July. Several days a week, working up to 13 hours at a shot, allowing my wife to relive her childhood days when her parents were out of the house and she got to watch as much TV as she wanted and stay up late. She's gone from "I missed you!" to "Back so soon?"
This must be a fictional
character -- he packed a bag
lunch.

One of the cool things about this work is that it's allowed me to see more of New York  in the last 12 months than I did in the previous 35 years I lived here. The outer reaches of Queens that resemble the opening credits of All in the Family, to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn where all the advertising posters were in Hebrew, to the heart of the financial district (right). For the first time since I moved here in 1981, I feel like a tourist in my own city.


Take me out to the balding game.
I've worked at landmarks, famous and obscure, that I'd never have gone to otherwise. The old, abandoned Bronx courthouse on East 161st St.; Citifield, home of the New York Mets (left); the Mass Transit Museum in Brooklyn; Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens. Formerly an expert only on the East side trains, I've since travelled  almost the entire alphabetical and numerical subway lines. Too bad it's still not 75 cents, like it was when I moved here.



There are times when shooting occurs beyond the subway lines' reach. That's when
What's not to like about
slot machines at 7:00 in the
morning?
productions provide busses. I've heard there are some that leave from 86th St. & 3rd Ave., a brief stroll from my home. That must be nice; the only ones I've ever been called for are those that leave from 35th & 3rd, or, more often, Broadway & 96th.

That doesn't sound like such a long commute, until you realize that the bus from the latter location has been known to leave as early as 4:45 a.m., necessitating a 3:00 rise and shine. The last time that happened, it was for a trip to the Empire Casino in Yonkers (right) on an episode of Bull, where I barely saw the light of day until shooting wrapped at sunset -- just like a real gambler. (It's those early shoots where there's a physical necessity to break my no-caffeine rule.)




Moments away from
seeing my client go
the chair.
I've recently been promoted from "nd bg" (nondescript background) to things like "wealthy donor", "upscale lawyer" (left), and "Wall Street" type. Yet despite living on the Upper East Side for almost 35 years, I can never get cast as an "Upper East Sider" because I don't look like one. Nor do I get cast as someone "rich looking". To which I ask, do you mean Mark Zuckerberg?


It's the make-up, not the job, that gives
me the ghostly pallor.




I've also been pegged as "reporter" and "newspaper photographer", most recently on Gotham (right). The latter was a real treat. The young wardrobe women were gobsmacked by my outfit. Never have women gazed at me with such wonder, such hunger. (I knew I was hanging on to that necktie for 25 years for a reason.)

Like many of Gotham's characters, I appeared to have stepped right from the pages of a 1940s comic book -- only these were my own clothes. Consequently, I was placed close to the action -- and the all-important TV camera. Remember, folks, clothes make the extra.

Yes, it's been busy -- so much so, I've had to turn down jobs because I've already been booked for those dates. In fact, I started this piece yesterday, only to accept a last-minute call to appear on Elementary as -- what else -- "upscale audience member".


In case the seal act before the
main feature wasn't to your liking.
It was filmed at the United Palace Theater, formerly Lowe's 175th Street Theater, built in 1930 as a movie/vaudeville palace, and described as a "delirious masterpiece". (You can read about it here.) 

Of all the photos I snapped of the interior, my favorite by far is of the original intercom off the lobby. Due to the flash, it's difficult to discern, but if you look carefully, there are not one but two areas marked as "VOMITORY". 

In no other job would I have seen this. I await the next piece of history with joyous anticipation. ACTION!




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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

THE REAL LEFT COAST

Come to think of it, Mammy is the only
sympathetic person of the bunch.


Antifa's influence has shifted into the movie world. The Orpheum Theater in Memphis has cancelled the running of Gone with the Wind, originally scheduled as part of its summer classics program, due to it being "insensitive".

Frankly, I think it would be better to cancel it because it's not that good. No other "classic" American movie so peppered with unlikable characters. Scarlett O'Hara is a slut, her father's a drunk, her sister Melanie is too good to be true, and she's in love with the spineless Ashley Wilkes (who, I may remind you, is Melanie's husband). Even Rhett Butler, the hero, is a war profiteer, a Haliburton with big ears. 

But insensitive? It's almost 80 years old, for God's sakes. Of course it glosses over slavery -- but who the hell goes to David Selznick movies for history? You might as well watch Meet the Baron as a guide to girls' colleges, or Duel in the Sun as a serious treatise on Native Americans. It's Hollywood, people! To be precise, 1939 Hollywood portraying 1865 Atlanta. Oh yeah, you're going to get some real historical investigation there.

The Orpheum's move is nothing new. Two years ago, former New York Post critic Lou Lumenick suggested that Gone with the Wind be run only in museums where it could presumably be put "in context".

I'll give you context: it's 80 years old, remember?! Yet, Lumenick is the same guy who saw fit to help bring The Iron Petticoat back into circulation, a movie that nobody, even co-stars Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn, ever wanted to see again. What the hell was the context for that?

But now that Gone with the Wind is starting to live up to its name, get ready for other movie legends to disappear into culture's permanent Hall of Shame.




The Jack Benny Program: African-American slaving away for the wealthy Zionist.





The Lone Ranger: Magical Native-American helping white invader achieve his imperialist goals.





West Side Story: Stereotypical Latino gangbangers.





Some Like it Hot: Mocking the trans community.


The Wizard of Oz: White race's elimination of people of color.







Marilyn Monroe: Setting impossible standards for women while reinforcing sexual stereotypes. 










Laurel & Hardy: Cruel caricature of the mentally challenged.








The Four Marx Brothers: Zionists using every trick in the book -- one in crude disguise to hide his true identity, another stereotyping a lazy Italian conman, the third mocking the orally-challenged, and the fourth who got his job strictly through family connections.




Charlie Chan: White actor playing stereotypical gentle Asian.






Mr. Moto: White actor playing stereotypical violent Asian.




Charlie Chaplin: Homelessness as object of humor.








The Three Stooges: Zionists' blatant travesty of gay men.











Jerry Lewis: Zionist mocking the handicapped.






Al Jolson: Need we say more? (PS: Zionist.)


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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THE BIG MOUTH

In the beginning was Jerome Levitch
of Newark, New Jersey.
You never thought Jerry Lewis was funny? That he was morbidly sentimental, juvenile, thoughtless? Driven primarily by ego, anger and cigarettes? Possessed the worst possible aspects of show business, personal philosophy, and fundraising?

I totally understand. In fact, I agree. I once spent a good 30 minutes on the phone with a friend as we watched, in horror, an HBO special taped in Las Vegas starring Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis, Jr., another entertainer who didn't always understand the concept of "cool it for a second, will ya?" Much of what we saw was singularly, astonishingly appalling.

And I liked the guy. So much so that seeing Jerry in the Broadway revival of Damn Yankees 20 years ago is still a highlight -- make that the highlight -- of my theatergoing experience. And getting his autograph afterwards? I'm still shaking.

Maybe you have to be a guy from my generation to understand. And even if you are, you likely never cared for him. Again, I get it.


As far as the French were concerned,
it was Qui est Dean Martin?
It used to be the highest of compliments to say the French liked someone or something often unappreciated in their American homeland -- Josephine Baker, Charlie Parker, film noir, Jim Thompson, Laurel & Hardy. But somehow, when it came to Jerry Lewis, that compliment became a side-of-the-mouth insult. Jerry Lewis -- oh yeah, big in France.

And Germany.

And Italy.

And Spain.

And the Netherlands. In fact, Jerry won eight "Best Director" awards throughout Europe, where he also appeared in movies and TV specials that never aired in the U.S. 

The critical acclaim heaped upon him on the Continent must confound American critics -- or, to be
Yes, that Jerry Lewis.
precise, American critics of his generation. Movie columnist Richard Brody, who probably grew up watching Jerry Lewis movies, this week wrote "The French were right: Lewis is one of the most original, inventive, and, yes, profound directors of the time."  Brody's critiques of Lewis' movies make for fascinating, eye-opening reading. And they can be found in -- get this -- The New Yorker, not exactly a magazine for the National Enquirer crowd.


So it shouldn't be surprising that tributes poured in by the monkey-barrelful from the baby-boom generation of comedians. You'd expect them from Gilbert Gottfried and Jim Carrey. But what of Margaret Cho and Richard Belzer? Or, for that matter, Samuel L. Jackson, Cher, Penn Jillette and Mark Hamill? What do they see that American cineastes don't? Plenty.


Even the world of adhesives was influenced.
Years ago, Chris Rock said his three influences were Dick Gregory, Woody Allen, and Jerry Lewis. Sound bizarre? Probably not to Woody, who wanted Jerry to direct his first two movies, Take the Money and Run and Bananas.

Again, that may come as a shock, even to me. Several months ago, TCM ran a 24-hour Jerry Lewis film festival. I watched the first and final movies he directed, The Bellboy (1960) and Smorgasbord (1983). Over the course of nearly a quarter-century, he appeared to have made absolutely no progress in the art of directing.

Of course, you can say the same thing about Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, and, yes, Woody Allen. They had a particular style that worked best for comedy, and stuck with it. In fact, it wasn't until I saw Midnight in Paris that I realized just how much Woody was influenced by Jerry Lewis. Jerry himself could have directed it, and it would have looked pretty much the same. 

And yet in America, all anybody wanted to ask him about was working with Dean
I'd say there was some truth
here.
Martin. For all the self-professed "love" for his former partner, it must have been profoundly irritating at times to be so closely identified with a period that took up only a decade in a career that lasted over 70 years. Perhaps on some level, Americans knew Martin & Lewis were the bridge between "establishment" comedy (Jack Benny, Fred Allen) and what came after (Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks). 


While I always enjoy watching Martin & Lewis' television appearances, I confess never to have made it through even their more critically-acclaimed movies like Artists and Models or Hollywood or Bust. They always seem constrained by their scripts, whereas they could run wild on live TV. 


"Solid"-- as in "constipated".
But I grew up watching plenty of Jerry Lewis movies, along with his late '60s variety show -- by then, past his money-making prime. It's easy to forget that there was a stretch -- roughly 1957 to 1964 -- when he was the number one box office star, as well as the highest paid actor in movies and television.

I still remember the hype surrounding the debut in 1963 of his Saturday night, live, two hour talk show -- perhaps still the biggest disaster in the history of television, show business, and mankind. His five year "iron-clad" contract with ABC was melted down in 13 weeks.

But this is the same guy who invented the video assist, which revolutionized the way directors made movies. Who, in his last 30 years, made a major switch in careers as a dramatic actor, winning acclaim in movies and TV shows like King of Comedy, Wise Guy, the way-underrated Funny Bones, and his final starring role in Max Rose. The guy who Woody Allen said was the greatest comedy director in movies. The same Jerry acclaimed as a genius across Europe. 

Yes, you can find plenty to love and loathe about Jerry Lewis, as you can most complicated,
"Admit it -- you're gonna miss me!"
talented people. But few have had such an impact on one profession. All you need to do is read the introduction to Shawn Levy's terrific biography of Jerry, King of Comedy, to discover his light and dark sides. 


I've heard from people with first-hand experience that plenty of actors and directors with stellar public reputations are, in reality, incredibly difficult, egomaniacal, petty, condescending martinets. It's to Jerry Lewis' credit that you always knew the truth, whether you liked it or not.

                                               *************************

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SEVEN MONTHS IN 2017

You've got to feel sorry for Melania Trump. Here she was, a poor immigrant from an
After careful consideration, Trump decides to make a
pass at his wife instead of his daughter.
Eastern European backwater, who only wanted to come to America and put her degree in Architecture & Design headshots to good use. Or, if that didn't pan out, find a rich husband to care for her, provide a crash pad for visiting relatives, and pay for the occasional tasteful plastic surgery. Becoming the First Lady of the Second Reich definitely wasn't on her dance card.


Like right out of DC on the first Metro.

And then there's poor Baron Trump. Not only was he saddled with a name literally out of a 19th-century children's book, it's likely the family business will be so damaged by the time he comes of age, he'll have to become a travel agent for Aeroflot. At least his dad has connections.

But what of the patriarch? Again, sympathy is required. Like many businessmen caught on the ladder of success, here's a guy who loves his title but hates his job. There's no doubt that, deep down, Donald Trump would love to go back to his 5th Avenue penthouse, where he can return to his favorite meal (well-done steak with ketchup) without it being headline news, and making self-depreciating appearances in movies.

On the other hand, here's proof that Trump's
inaugural really was the largest ever.
Did I say "businessman"? If so, it must be taken with a grain or two of (non-Kosher!) salt. For what kind of a guy with a business background keeps playing to 25% of the public rather than at least 51%? Of course, we're talking national polls. In Alabama, Trump's approval skyrockets to 85% of Republicans. That's pretty astonishing, when you consider the last time 85% of Alabamans approved of anyone, he was swinging from a noose. 


If you have to say not all Trump supporters are
Nazis, there might be something strange going on.
Nor does Trump appear to know history. Despite his protestations, rallies invoking the good ol' Nazi days tend not to draw "many fine people." If he is playing to his base, as is claimed, then we should use the first definition of the word: "the lowest part or edge of something." I half-expect Trump pull a Sgt. Schultz and bellow, "I know nothing, nothing!" 

People in Trump's inner circle (of hell) say that he won the election by going on his instincts, and continues to trust it. Perhaps he should change his slogan from "Make America Great Again" to "Trump: Putting the Stinks in Instincts."

At least Trump kept his promise to bring America together: everybody hates everybody
Coming soon to a TV near you.
else now. It's weirdly interesting, in fact, to watch the slow-motion coming of the second Civil War. Does anybody really find it shocking that Carl Bernstein reports many high-ranking folks in the military believe Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency

I've seen that movie before. It was called Seven Days in May. This might be the only time when people hope Burt Lancaster succeeds.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

MEMORABLE QUOTES FROM "THE DONALD TRUMP BOOK OF HISTORY"

ADOLF HITLER ON THE HOLOCAUST,1945:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Adolf Hitler, not Paul von Hindenburg. This has been going on for a long, long time."

JOSEF STALIN ON THE DEATHS OF 20 MILLION SOVIETS UNDER HIS REGIME, 1953:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Josef Stalin, not Nikolai Lenin. This has been going on for a long, long time."






MISSISSIPPI GOV. HUGH L. WRIGHT ON THE MURDER OF EMMITT TILL, 1955:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Hugh L. Wright, not Fielding L. Wright. This has been going on for a long, long time."



ALABAMA GOV. GEORGE WALLACE ON THE BIRMINGHAM CHURCH BOMBING, 1963:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not George Wallace, not John M. Patterson. This has been going on for a long, long time."



MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR ROSS BARNETT ON THE MURDERS OF THREE CIVIL RIGHTS
WORKERS, 1964:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Ross Barnett, not James P. Coleman. This has been going on for a long, long time."






TENNESSEE GOVERNOR BUFORD ELLINGTON ON THE ASSASSINATION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., 1968:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Buford Ellington, not Frank G. Clement. This has been going on for a long, long time."






MAO TSE-TUNG ON THE DEATHS OF 65 MILLION CHINESE UNDER HIS REGIME, 1976:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Mao Tse-Tung, not Chiang Kai-shek. This has been going on for a long, long time."


OSAMA BIN-LADEN ON THE MASS MURDERS IN AFGHANISTAN UNDER HIS REGIME, 2001:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Osma bin-Laden, not Mohammed Najibullah. This has been going on for a long, long time."




               
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

THREE STRIKES

No matter the language, it all comes down to
What, her again?
Judging by the recent spate of TV specials and magazine pieces, it appears that Diana Frances Mountbatten-Windsor, aka Princess Diana, is ready to take her place alongside Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in the Dead Cover Girls Hall of Fame, an institution co-founded by Vanity Fair and People.


For reasons utterly unknown, these three women -- dead 20, 55, and 23 years respectively -- are still considered "fascinating" by editors who perhaps never heard of Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, or even Hedy Lamarr (the Austrian-born actress who, during World War II, only invented Wi-Fi, for God's sakes.)

Why do magazines and TV news programs insist on going back to that increasingly moldy well? Got me. The only thing fascinating about Jackie is that, in the mid-70's, she dated Frank Sinatra -- her first husband's pimp. And by fascinating, I mean, Well, isn't it clear that whole Camelot thing was bullshit? And by the way, Jackie, we fought a revolution to make sure that we weren't ruled by royalty.

Jackie, you're so camera-shy!
Well, wait, there is one more fascinating thing -- that for all the hubbub regarding her becoming an editor in 1976, the most famous book was Michael Jackson's Moonwalk. Take a look at all her titles: how many have you read? How many have you heard of?
Let's go back further in time to discuss Marilyn Monroe, the woman who Jackie's first husband was screwing during their marriage.


Beautiful woman, no doubt, and a fine
In case you were wondering.
actress, but there's nothing inherently fascinating about that. Now, someone like ZaSu Pitts making movies continuously from 1917 to 1963 -- that's fascinating.

No, what cemented her as a Legend was her death (Suicide? Accidental overdose? Murder by Kennedys?) at the age of 36 -- as with Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley, her best career move. For it saved her from gradually becoming a latter-day Joan Blondell, a once-hot star-turned-frowsy character actor.

Can you imagine Marilyn Monroe in her 50s? Instead of being remembered in annual posthumous tributes, she'd have been washed-up when women like Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, and Faye Dunaway were coming into their own. At best, you'd have heard announcers say "And special guest star, Marilyn Monroe" during the credits of Marcus Welby MD, Knots Landing, and Wonder Woman (and being compared unfavorably in the latter to star Lynda Carter). 

"Oh Rochester, could you make
yourself scarce for a while?"
You know what the really fascinating thing about Marilyn Monroe was? She once went to a nude beach with Jack Benny. And Jack was disguised with a phony beard (on his face, that is). I dare you not to picture that.

Which brings us to the self-proclaimed "Queen of People's Hearts" Princess Diana, the woman who Jackie's first husband would have screwed during their marriage if he lived long enough.

Unlike her sisters-in-death, at least Diana found a worthy cause -- the elimination of landmines -- where her name could do some good. A good mother, too, a job that will always rank above royalty.

Aaaannnnddd... that's about it. Like Jackie, married the wrong guy. (To further her questionable taste in men, she had a crush on John Travolta.) Like Marilyn, suicidal -- first time while pregnant with William! Maybe I should rethink that "good mom" business. 

You could open up a phone book and find hundreds of women more fascinating than this celebrity trio. Women who raise kids without the benefit of a nanny, work regular jobs, get by in life without flashbulbs going off every 10 seconds, and still find life worthwhile. My wife, for instance. Yours, too, I bet. 

Put it another way -- would you want to have been married to any of these women?

Well, ZaSu, maybe.

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