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(AP)- Bernie Mac blended style, authority and a touch of self-aware bluster to make audiences laugh as well as connect with him. For Mac, who died Saturday at age 50, it was a winning mix, delivering him from a poor childhood to stardom as a standup comedian, in films including the casino heist caper "Ocean's Eleven" and his acclaimed sitcom "The Bernie Mac Show."
Though his comedy drew on tough experiences as a black man, he had mainstream appeal — befitting inspiration he found in a wide range of humorists: Harpo Marx as well as Moms Mabley; squeaky-clean Red Skelton, but also the raw Redd Foxx.
Mac died Saturday morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital, his publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement from Los Angeles. She said no other details were available.
Mac suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the body's organs, but had said the condition went into remission in 2005. He recently was hospitalized and treated for pneumonia, which his publicist said was not related to the disease.
Recently, Mac's brand of comedy caught him flack when he was heckled during a surprise appearance at a July fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate and fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama.
Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine, Mac joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language. Obama took the stage about 15 minutes later, implored Mac to "clean up your act next time," then let him off the hook, adding: "By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."
Even so, Obama's campaign later issued a rebuke, saying the senator "doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate."
But despite controversy or difficulties, in his words, Mac was always a performer.
"Wherever I am, I have to play," he said in 2002. "I have to put on a good show."
Mac worked his way to Hollywood success from an impoverished upbringing on Chicago's South Side. He began doing standup as a child, telling jokes for spare change on subways, and his film career started with a small role as a club doorman in the Damon Wayans comedy "Mo' Money" in 1992. In 1996, he appeared in the Spike Lee drama "Get on the Bus."
He was one of "The Original Kings of Comedy" in the 2000 documentary of that title that brought a new generation of black standup comedy stars to a wider audience.
"The majority of his core fan base will remember that when they paid their money to see Bernie Mac ... he gave them their money's worth," Steve Harvey, one of his co-stars in "Original Kings," told CNN on Saturday.
Mac went on to star in the hugely popular "Ocean's Eleven" franchise with Brad Pitt and George Clooney, playing a gaming-table dealer who was in on the heist. Carl Reiner, who also appeared in the "Ocean's" films, said Saturday he was "in utter shock" because he thought Mac's health was improving. "He was just so alive," Reiner said. "I can't believe he's gone."
"The world just got a little less funny," said "Oceans" co-star George Clooney.
Don Cheadle, another member of the "Oceans" gang, concurred: "This is a very sad day for many of us who knew and loved Bernie. He brought so much joy to so many. He will be missed, but heaven just got funnier."
Mac and Ashton Kutcher topped the box office in 2005's "Guess Who," a comedy remake of the classic Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn drama "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Mac played the dad who's shocked that his daughter is marrying a white man.
Mac also had starring roles in "Bad Santa," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" and "Transformers."
But his career and comic identity were forged in television.
In the late 1990s, he had a recurring role in "Moesha," the UPN network comedy starring pop star Brandy. The critical and popular acclaim came after he landed his own Fox television series "The Bernie Mac Show," about a child-averse couple who suddenly are saddled with three children.
Mac mined laughs from the universal frustrations of parenting, often breaking the "fourth wall" to address the camera throughout the series that aired from 2001 to 2006. "C'mon, America," implored Mac, in character as the put-upon dad. "When I say I wanna kill those kids, YOU know what I mean."
The series won a Peabody Award in 2002, and Mac was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. In real life, he was "the king of his household" — very much like his character on that series, his daughter, Je'niece Childress, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
"But television handcuffs you, man," he said in a 2001 Associated Press interview before the show had premiered. "Now everyone telling me what I CAN'T do, what I CAN say, what I SHOULD do, and asking, `Are blacks gonna be mad at you? Are whites gonna accept you?'"
He also was nominated for a Grammy award for best comedy album in 2001 along with his "The Original Kings of Comedy" co-stars Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric The Entertainer.
Chicago music producer Carolyn Albritton said she was Bernie Mac's first manager, having met him in 1991 at Chicago's Cotton Club where she hosted an open-mike night. He was an immediate hit, Albritton said Saturday, and he asked her to help guide his career.
"From very early on I thought he was destined for success," Albritton said. "He never lost track of where he came from, and he'd often use real life experiences, his family, his friends, in his routine. After he made it, he stayed a very humble man. His family was the most important thing in the world to him."
In 2007, Mac told David Letterman on CBS' "Late Show" that he planned to retire soon.
"I'm going to still do my producing, my films, but I want to enjoy my life a little bit," Mac told Letterman. "I missed a lot of things, you know. I was a street performer for two years. I went into clubs in 1977."
Mac was born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough on Oct. 5, 1957, in Chicago. He grew up on the city's South Side, living with his mother and grandparents. His grandfather was the deacon of a Baptist church.
In his 2004 memoir, "Maybe You Never Cry Again," Mac wrote about having a poor childhood — eating bologna for dinner — and a strict, no-nonsense upbringing.
"I came from a place where there wasn't a lot of joy," Mac told the AP in 2001. "I decided to try to make other people laugh when there wasn't a lot of things to laugh about."
Mac's mother died of cancer when he was 16. In his book, Mac said she was a support for him and told him he would surprise everyone when he grew up.
"Woman believed in me," he wrote. "She believed in me long before I believed." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Sat Aug 09, 2008 4:30 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
I guess Chef is never coming back now.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Isaac Hayes, the pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose relentless "Theme From Shaft" won Academy and Grammy awards, died Sunday, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office said. He was 65.
A family member found Hayes unresponsive near a treadmill and he was pronounced dead about an hour later at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, according to the sheriff's office. The cause of death was not immediately known.
In the early 1970s, Hayes laid the groundwork for disco, for what became known as urban-contemporary music and for romantic crooners like Barry White. And he was rapping before there was rap.
His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show "South Park."
The album "Hot Buttered Soul" made Hayes a star in 1969. His shaven head, gold chains and sunglasses gave him a compelling visual image.
"Hot Buttered Soul" was groundbreaking in several ways: He sang in a "cool" style unlike the usual histrionics of big-time soul singers. He prefaced the song with "raps," and the numbers ran longer than three minutes with lush arrangements.
"Jocks would play it at night," Hayes recalled in a 1999 Associated Press interview. "They could go to the bathroom, they could get a sandwich, or whatever."
Next came "Theme From Shaft," a No. 1 hit in 1971 from the film "Shaft" starring Richard Roundtree.
"That was like the shot heard round the world," Hayes said in the 1999 interview.
At the Oscar ceremony in 1972, Hayes performed the song wearing an eye-popping amount of gold and received a standing ovation. TV Guide later chose it as No. 18 in its list of television's 25 most memorable moments. He won an Academy Award for the song and was nominated for another one for the score. The song and score also won him two Grammys.
"The rappers have gone in and created a lot of hit music based upon my influence," he said. "And they'll tell you if you ask."
Hayes was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
"I knew nothing about the business, or trends and things like that," he said. "I think it was a matter of timing. I didn't know what was unfolding."
A self-taught musician, he was hired in 1964 by Stax Records of Memphis as a backup pianist, working as a session musician for Otis Redding and others. He also played saxophone.
He began writing songs, establishing a songwriting partnership with David Porter, and in the 1960s they wrote such hits for Sam and Dave as "Hold On, I'm Coming" and "Soul Man."
All this led to his recording contract.
In 1972, he won another Grammy for his album "Black Moses" and earned a nickname he reluctantly embraced. Hayes composed film scores for "Tough Guys" and "Truck Turner" besides "Shaft." He also did the song "Two Cool Guys" on the "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America" movie soundtrack in 1996.
Additionally, he was the voice of Nickelodeon's "Nick at Nite" and had radio shows in New York City (1996 to 2002) and then in Memphis.
He was in several movies, including "It Could Happen to You" with Nicolas Cage, "Ninth Street" with Martin Sheen, "Reindeer Games" starring Ben Affleck and the blaxploitation parody "I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka."
In the 1999 interview, Hayes described the South Park cook as "a person that speaks his mind; he's sensitive enough to care for children; he's wise enough to not be put into the 'whack' category like everybody else in town — and he l-o-o-o-o-ves the ladies."
But Hayes angrily quit the show in 2006 after an episode mocked his Scientology religion. "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," he said.
Co-creator creators Matt Stone responded that Hayes "has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians." A subsequent episode of the show seemingly killed off the Chef character.
Hayes was born in 1942 in a tin shack in Covington, Tenn., about 40 miles north of Memphis. He was raised by his maternal grandparents after his mother died and his father took off when he was 1 1/2. The family moved to Memphis when he was 6.
Hayes wanted to be a doctor, but got redirected when he won a talent contest in ninth grade by singing Nat King Cole's "Looking Back."
He held down various low-paying jobs, including shining shoes on the legendary Beale Street in Memphis. He also played gigs in rural Southern juke joints where at times he had to hit the floor because someone began shooting. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:55 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Sandy Allen, who grew to be 7 feet, 7 inches tall and was recognized as the world's tallest female, and used her height to inspire schoolchildren to accept those who are different, died Wednesday at a nursing home in her hometown of Shelbyville, family friend Rita Rose said. She was 53.
The cause of death was not yet known. Allen had been hospitalized in recent months as she suffered from a recurring blood infection, along with diabetes, breathing troubles and kidney failure, Rose said.
In London, Guinness World Records spokesman Damian Field confirmed Wednesday that Allen was still listed as the tallest woman. Some Web sites cite a 7-foot-9 woman from China.
Coincidentally, Allen lived in the same nursing home, Heritage House Convalescent Center, as 115-year-old Edna Parker, whom Guinness has recognized as the world's oldest person since August 2007.
Allen said a tumor caused her pituitary gland to produce too much growth hormone. She underwent an operation in 1977 to stop further growth.
But she was proud of her height, Rose said. "She embraced it," she said. "She used it as a tool to educate people."
Allen appeared on television shows and spoke to church and school groups to bring youngsters her message that it was all right to be different.
After Allen was listed by Guinness as the world's tallest woman, she won a role in Federico Fellini's 1976 film "Casanova," appearing as "Angelina the Giantess." She was featured in the 1981 Canadian documentary "Being Different." She also appeared in a TV movie called "Side Show" in 1981.
Allen weighed 6-1/2 pounds when she was born in June 1955. By the age of 10 she had grown to be 6-foot-3, and by age 16 she was 7-1.
She wrote to Guinness World Records in 1974, saying she would like to get to know someone her own height.
"It is needless to say my social life is practically nil and perhaps the publicity from your book may brighten my life," she wrote.
The recognition as the world's tallest woman helped Allen accept her height and become less shy, Rose said.
"It kind of brought her out of her shell," Rose said. "She got to the point where she could joke about it."
In the 1980s, she appeared for several years at the Guinness Museum of World Records in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
"I'll never forget the old Japanese man who couldn't speak English, so he decided to feel for himself if I was real," she recalled with a chuckle when she moved back to Indiana in 1987.
"At Guinness there were days when I felt like I was doing a freak show," she said. "When that feeling came too often, I knew I had to come back home."
Difficulty with mobility had forced Allen to curtail her public speaking in recent years, Rose said. She had suffered from diabetes and other ailments and used a wheelchair to get around.
A scholarship fund has been set up in Allen's name through the Blue River Community Foundation, Rose said, with proceeds going to Shelbyville High School.
"She loved talking to kids because they would ask more honest questions," Rose said. "Adults would kind of stand back and stare and not know how to approach her." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:47 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Record producer Jerry Wexler, the former journalist credited with coining the term Rhythm & Blues who would become a key member of the Atlantic Records teams and produce some of the most important artists of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, died Friday at a hospice in Sarasota, Fla. He was 91.
His son Paul and daughter Lisa were present at the time of his death. Cause was congenital heart disease.
Wexler was in the studio with Ray Charles, Joe Turner and Ruth Brown in the '50s; he shaped the career and records of Aretha Franklin and other soul greats in the '60s; and helped Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Linda Ronstadt forge new identities in the 1970s and '80s.
"I was presumably their overseer, they were my instructors" Wexler wrote in his 1993 autobiography with David Ritz, "Rhythm and the Blues." "These were the artists who made my career and changed my life, infusing the business blues with a joy transcending all earthly matters."
He joined Atlantic Records shortly after it was founded by Ahmet and Neushi Ertegun, and produced era-defining records by Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and Percy Sledge. Wexler's productions include Franklin's "Respect,"' Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman,"' Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour" and Dylan's gospel-inspired albums "Saved" and "Slow Train Coming." He oversaw the session that generated Atlantic's first landmark recording, Charles' "I've Got a Woman."
Franklin had been signed and then dropped from Columbia Records where the company attempted to cast her in the mold or jazz balladeer. Wexler, who would produce 16 albums for Franklin, allowed her to fuse her gospel roots with modern pop, eventually having their greatest success together by using musicians from the South in studios in Alabama, Memphis and New York.
He orchestrated her crossover from R&B and pop into the rock 'n' roll world through bookings at venues such as the Fillmore East, which put her in front of audiences tuning into free-form FM stations rather than AM hit radio where Franklins songs would be played. "He was my producer and I followed his advice," Franklin told Daily Variety earlier this year prior to being honored by the Recording Academy.
He also produced Dusty Springfield's classic ``Dusty in Memphis,'' in which the British pop star was placed in a soul music and excelled under Wexler's guidance. With a special touch for bringing out the best in experienced artists, Wexler produced well-received efforts by Doug Sahm, Ronnie Hawkins, and Etta James in the 1970s.
A documentary, "Immaculate Funk," was made on Wexler in 2000. It revealed the contradictions that ran through Wexler's life: A Jewish atheist, he made his mark by relying on musicians who tapped into their religious backgrounds; he was abrasive yet generous; driven by the bottom line yet patient when allowing an artist to create.
A native New Yorker born to a Polish immigrant father and a German-Jewish mother, Wexler's mother shipped him to Kansas State University so that he would not be stuck making a living doing menial tasks. While there, he would make 100-mile trips to Kansas City to hear big bands, which eventually became more important to Wexler than his studies. Soon he moved back to New York and worked with his father as a window washer while hanging out at clubs absorbing the black music of the day. At 19, he went into the Army.
After returning from World War II, Wexler secured a job at Billboard magazine while attending college and studying journalism. He got the magazine to drop the term "race records" and replace it with Rhythm & Blues.
He befriended Ahmet Ertegun and stepped in as co-director of the label in 1953, replacing Herb Abramson who had gone into the Army, purchasing 13% of the label for $2,063. (His share would later escalate to 30%). Ertegun had the role of talent scout and negotiator; Wexler handled the bills, the scheduling of releases and managing recording sessions. His business acumen and Billboard connections paid off the label as did the label's transition from 78s to 45s and, ultimately, full-length albums.
Wexler first traveled to the South to plug Atlantic releases and in Memphis he became acquainted with operations at Stax Records. He was impressed with the concept of a house band and a loose and relaxed environment; initially he brought in acts to record there, then started to jointly sign acts to Stax and Atlantic , among them Sam & Dave and Pickett. Perceived as an exploiter of the talent, Stax co-owner Jim Stewart made his studio off limits to Atlantic in 1966.
Wexler took his act on the road - to Muscle Shoals, Ala., where he used Rich Hall's FAME Studios as a base. Like Stax, Muscle Shoals had a house band, which he would bring to New York for sessions for Franklin and King Curtis. And like the relationship at Stax, a falling out in 1967 curtailed the relationship.
After the sale of Atlantic, Wexler set up Criteria Studios in Miami, where he recorded, among others, Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack. He resigned from Atlantic in 1975 and two years later became an exec at Warner Records where he helped bring Dire Straits and the B-52's to the label. He won three Grammys, including the best R&B recording trophy for Franklin's recording of "Respect."
Wexler was inducted as a non-performer into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:43 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dave Matthews Band saxophone player LeRoi Moore, one of the group's founding members and a key part of its eclectic jazz-infused sound, died Tuesday from sudden complications stemming from injuries he sustained in an all-terrain vehicle accident in June. He was 46.
Moore died at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, according to a statement released on the band's Web site. The statement did not specify what led to his death.
Moore was initially hospitalized in late June after the accident on his farm outside Charlottesville, Va. He was later discharged and had recently returned to his Los Angeles home to begin a physical rehabilitation program when complications forced him back to the hospital on July 17, the band said.
Galina Shinder, a nursing supervisor at Hollywood Presbyterian, said the hospital could not release any details.
Ambrosia Healy, the band's publicist, said the band's show Tuesday night in Los Angeles was not canceled. Saxophonist Jeff Coffin, who played with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, had been sitting in for Moore during the band's summer tour.
Moore, who liked to wear his trademark dark sunglasses at the bands' live concerts, had classical training but said jazz was his main musical influence, according to a biography on the band's Web site.
"But at this stage I don't really consider myself a jazz musician," Moore said in the biography. Playing with the Dave Matthews Band was "almost better than a jazz gig," he said. "I have plenty of space to improvise, to try new ideas."
Lead singer Dave Matthews credited Moore with arranging many of his songs, which combine Cajun fiddle-playing, African-influenced rhythms and Matthews' playful but haunting voice.
The band formed in 1991 in Charlottesville, Va., when Matthews was working as a bartender. He gave a demo tape of his songs to Moore, who liked what he heard and recruited his friend and fellow jazzman Carter Beauford to play drums, and other musicians.
The group broke out of the local music scene with the album "Under the Table and Dreaming." The band won a Grammy Award in 1997 for its hit song "So Much to Say" off its second album "Crash." Other hits include "What Would You Say," "Crash Into Me" and "Satellite." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:45 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) — Gene Upshaw, a towering lineman on the football field who went on to win untold millions of dollars for NFL players as their uni0n leader, has died at age 63. Upshaw had a Hall of Fame career as a guard for the Oakland Raiders — a team that won two of the three Super Bowls it reached during his 15 years in a black and silver jersey.
But his work as executive director of the NFL Players Association over a quarter-century was even more important. It changed the business side of the league.
Upshaw died Wednesday night at his home near California's Lake Tahoe, of pancreatic cancer, the NFL Players Association said Thursday. His wife Terri and sons Eugene Jr., Justin and Daniel were by his side. NFLPA president and Tennesse Titans center Kevin Mawae said Upshaw only learned Sunday that he had the disease, after he fell ill and his wife took him to the hospital.
"Gene was a great player. He was an All-Pro. He was a Hall of Famer. If you look at the history of the NFL you're going to find out that he was one of the most influential people that the league has known. He did so much, not only for the players, but also for the owners, the teams, and the game of pro football," John Madden, who coached Upshaw when Oakland won its first Super Bowl, said in a statement.
"This is deeper than head of the uni0n passing away, and it's deeper than an ex-player. This is missing someone that is and was like family. It's a tough day for all of us."
Upshaw's death reverberated throughout the NFL, a shock to owners and players alike, even those who had made him the focal point for their complaints over pension and health benefits for retired players.
As a player, the seven-time Pro Bowler was one of the best ever, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987, the first time he was eligible.
That also was the year Upshaw led the second players' strike in five years, a short walkout that led to the embarrassing spectacle of games with replacement players, or "scab football" as it was jokingly called at the time.
By 1989, while the uni0n was pressing in court for a settlement, the league implemented a limited form of freedom, called Plan B. A new, seven-year contract was finally worked out in 1993, bringing in a new age of free agency and salary caps.
That will go down as Upshaw's legacy because it brought prosperity to both uni0n members and owners, leaving many of today's players appreciating Upshaw as a labor leader without knowing much about his playing career. Brandon Moore, the New York Jets player representative was 2 years old when Upshaw retired and said simply: "From what I hear, he was a pretty good player."
What Upshaw did for Moore, and his counterparts is make them money — the salary cap for this season is $116 million and the players are making close to 60 percent of the 32 teams' total revenues, as specified in the 2006 labor agreement. The players will be paid $4.5 billion this year, according to owners.
That sum led the owners to opt out in May from the collective bargaining agreement, meaning that if no new deal is reached, there will be an uncapped year in 2010, the season before the contract is expected to expire.
Upshaw, who had often been criticized for his close relationship with Paul Tagliabue, the former commissioner, and Roger Goodell, the current one, had been talking tougher than usual about upcoming negotiations, vowing that if the cap was ever abolished, he would never accede to a new one.
Upshaw's death raises a big question mark about negotiations although the uni0n's executive committee tried to answer it quickly by appointing the uni0n's most experienced official, Richard Berthelsen, as the interim executive director.
Berthelsen, the NFLPA's chief counsel and Upshaw's top aide, has been involved in labor negotiations for 37 years and is expected to steer the uni0n through the negotiations and then make way for a younger man, probably an ex-player such as Trace Armstrong or Troy Vincent, two past presidents, or former Minnesota running back Robert Smith, who has expressed an interest in the job.
But those decisions are in the future. On Wednesday, people from both the sports and labor world rushed to pay tribute to Upshaw, one of the few African-Americans to lead a major uni0n. That there were few indications that Upshaw was ill made his death even harder to take.
"He was and will remain a part of the fabric of our lives and of the Raider mystique and legacy," Raiders owner and founder Al Davis said. "We loved him and he loved us. We will miss him."
Upshaw, blunt to a fault, wasn't universally loved, especially by the retired players — he once said "I represent the current players" when reminded about their complaints about health care and benefits.
When Joe DeLamielleure, also a Hall of Fame guard, criticized Upshaw, the former Raider replied: "I'd like to break his neck." But DeLamielleure was among to the first to react to Upshaw's death.
"The reality of life for all the guys who played in the NFL, including Gene, is that we have a short life span. It's just the way it is," he said. "I have sympathy for his family. I have sympathy for his wife and children."
Upshaw's friends also recognized the strike-back part of his nature.
"In both careers, if you hit him in the head, he could hit you back twice as hard, but he didn't always do so," Tagliabue said. "He was very tough but also a good listener. He never lost sight of the interests of the game and the big picture."
Many other echoed those thoughts.
"Gene Upshaw did everything with great dignity, pride, and conviction," Goodell said. "He was the rare individual who earned his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame both for his accomplishments on the field and for his leadership of the players off the field. He fought hard for the players and always kept his focus on what was best for the game. His leadership played a crucial role in taking the NFL and its players to new heights."
Detroit Lions president Matt Millen was a rookie in 1980 when veteran Upshaw took him under his wing and Oakland won its second Super Bowl. He remembered his friend this way.
"You can look at that body of work that he had when he played and he's in the Hall of Fame," he said. "You look at the body of work since he's played and it's Hall-of-Fame material, too." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:10 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
In a world of dullness and mediocrity, one shining light... has just dimmed.
Voiceover Master Don LaFontaine has died. He was 68.
LaFontaine died Monday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. LaFontaine's agent, Vanessa Gilbert, stated that he passed away following complications from pneumothorax, the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity, the result of a collapsed lung. The official cause of death has not yet been released.
Over the past 25 years, LaFontaine cemented his position as the "King of Voiceovers." Aside from being the preeminent voice in the movie trailer industry, Don also worked as the voice of Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, as well as for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and UPN, in addition to TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. By conservative estimates, he voiced hundreds of thousands of television and radio spots, including commercials for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Budweiser, McDonalds, Coke, and many other corporate sponsors.
He recently parodied himself on a series of national television commercials for Geico. At last count, he has worked on nearly 5000 films, including appearances as the in-show announcer for the Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards. Based on contracts signed, he has the distinction of being perhaps the single busiest actor in the history of SAG. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Tue Sep 02, 2008 2:49 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Bill Melendez, the animator who gave life to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and other “Peanuts” characters in scores of movies and TV specials, has died. He was 91.
Melendez died Tuesday at St. John’s Hospital, according to publicist Amy Goldsmith.
Melendez’s nearly seven decades as a professional animator began in 1938 when he was hired by Walt Disney Studios and worked on Mickey Mouse cartoons and classic animated features such as “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia.”
He went on to animate TV specials such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and was the voice of Snoopy, who never spoke intelligible words but issued expressive howls, sighs and sobs.
Melendez was born in 1916 in Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora. He moved with his family to Arizona in 1928 and then to Los Angeles in the 1930s, attending the Chouinard Art Institute.
Melendez took part in a strike that led to the uni0nization of Disney artists in 1941, and later moved to Warner Bros., where he worked on Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck shorts.
In 1948, Melendez left Warner Bros. and over the next 15 years worked as a director and producer on more than 1,000 commercials and movies for United Productions of America, Playhouse Pictures and John Sutherland Productions.
At UPA, he helped animate “Gerald McBoing-Boing,” which won the 1951 Academy Award for best cartoon short.
Melendez met “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz in 1959 while creating Ford Motor Co. TV commercials featuring Peanuts characters.
The two became friends and Melendez became the only person Schulz authorized to animate his characters.
Melendez founded his own production company in 1964 and with his partner Lee Mendelson went on to produce, direct or animate some 70 “Peanuts” TV specials, four movies and hundreds of commercials.
The first special was 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The show reportedly worried CBS because it broke so much new ground for a cartoon: It lacked a laugh track, used real children as voice actors, had a jazz score and included a scene in which Linus recited lines from the New Testament.
However, the show was a ratings success and has gone on to become a Christmastime perennial.
Melendez created Emmy-winning specials based on the cartoon characters Cathy and Garfield, and was involved in animated versions of the Babar the elephant books and the C.S. Lewis book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
He also was co-nominee for an Academy Award in 1971 for the music for “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”
In all, his productions earned some 19 Emmy nominations, including six awards.
Melendez is survived by his wife Helen; sons Steven Melendez and (Ret.) Navy Rear Adm. Rodrigo Melendez, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:08 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- The glow from Don Haskins' greatest triumph was mostly a memory when Disney decided to take another look.
Then came the movie "Glory Road" and a whole new generation learned what Bob Knight already knew about his old friend's career -- and legacy.
"Don got more out of his teams and players than any coach who has ever coached college basketball," Knight said.
Haskins, the Hall of Fame coach credited with helping break color barriers in college sports in 1966 when he used five black starters to win a national basketball title for Texas Western, died Sunday. He was 78.
Dr. Dwayne Aboud, Haskins' physician, told reporters Sunday that Haskins had been suffering from congestive heart failure and died at home about 4:30 p.m. MDT. He was surrounded by friends and relatives, Aboud said.
"As many of you know, Coach Haskins has had some cardiac problems. He opted not to go back to the hospital but to remain at home," Aboud said, standing outside the UTEP basketball arena named for Haskins.
As word of Haskins' death spread Sunday afternoon, those who knew him were quick to sing his praises.
"The word unique does not begin to describe Don Haskins," Knight, the winningest men's coach in the sport's history, said Sunday. "There is no one who has ever coached that I respected and admired more than Don Haskins. I've had no better friend that I enjoyed more than Don Haskins."
"The myth that surrounds Don Haskins in the movie 'Glory Road' and what he did for black players is better said that he cared like that for all his players," Knight added. "To me that tells me more about the man than anything. ... There was never anyone like him before and there will never be one like him again."
Haskins, who was white, was an old-time coach who believed in hard work and was known for his gruff demeanor. That attitude was portrayed in the 2006 movie that chronicled Haskins' improbable rise to national fame in the 1966 championship game against an all-white, heavily favored Kentucky team coached by Adolph Rupp.
Nolan Richardson, who coached Arkansas to a national title, played for two years under Haskins.
"I think one of the truest legacies that he could ever leave was what happened in 1966. He was never political. Those were the times and the days the black kids didn't play at other schools, but he started five and was able to win with them without worrying about what color they were," Richardson said.
Haskins retired in 1999 after 38 seasons at the school. He had a 719-353 record and won seven Western Athletic Conference titles. He took UTEP to 14 NCAA tournaments and to the NIT seven times and briefly worked as an adviser with the Chicago Bulls.
Haskins, 19th on the Division I men's victory list, turned down several more lucrative offers, including one with the now-defunct American Basketball Association, to remain at UTEP as one of the lowest paid coaches in the WAC.
Former coach Eddie Sutton said Haskins "had a tremendous impact on the college game. Anybody who's been around college basketball dating back to those days, they've seen how it changed after Texas Western won the national championship."
Sutton said he hadn't talked to Haskins for at least six weeks.
"Don had not been in good health and was having a hard time," Sutton said. "He'll be dearly missed. He was a great basketball coach."
Haskins, born in Enid, Okla., played for Hall of Fame coach Henry "Hank" Iba at Oklahoma State, back when the school was still Oklahoma A&M. Haskins was later an assistant under Iba for the 1972 U.S. Olympic team in Munich.
As a coach, Haskins became a star early in his career by leading his Miners to the 1966 NCAA championship game, then making the controversial decision to start five blacks against Kentucky. The Miners won 72-65, and shortly after that many schools began recruiting black players.
"He took a school that had no reason to be a basketball giant and made it into one," Knight said.
Haskins said he wasn't trying to make a social statement with his lineup; he was simply starting his best players. The move, however, raised the ire of some who sent Haskins hate mail and even death threats during the racially charged era.
"When they won the national championship against the University of Kentucky, that changed college basketball," Sutton said. "At that time, there weren't many teams in the South or Southwest that had African-Americans playing. There was a change in the recruiting of the black athlete. It really changed after that. They've had a great impact on the game."
The coach always was focused on the game of basketball. He had a reputation for working his players hard.
"Our practices wore us out so much that we'd have to rest up before the games," said Harry Flournoy, a starter in the 1966 championship. "If you work hard all the time and if you go after every loose ball, you see things like that (championship) happen."
Haskins helped Nate Archibald, Tim Hardaway and Antonio Davis, among others, make it to the NBA.
In November 2000, Haskins was awarded the John Thompson Foundation's Outstanding Achievement Award during a tournament hosted by Arkansas.
"We couldn't think of anyone that deserves this recognition more than coach Haskins," Richardson said. "He opened the door for African-American players to play basketball."
Former UTEP and current Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie said every conversation he had with Haskins left an impression.
"I looked forward to the phone calls after each and every game. He was watching almost every game of our team," Gillespie said. "It was just like having another coach on the bench present at every single practice. I took every single thing he said to heart. I knew he didn't have any agenda, he was just trying to help one of his friends win a game."
Doc Sadler, also a former UTEP coach and now head coach at Nebraska, said Haskins called frequently last season just to discuss strategy and outcome.
"If you were one of his guys, you were one of his guys," Sadler said. "He was bigger than life. The word I was told was that he was the John Wayne of college basketball. He had that much respect."
Haskins was hired in 1961 as a virtual unknown. Ben Collins, the school's athletic director at the time, said he consulted people who knew more about basketball than he did. And from the beginning, Collins said Sunday, he never had a second thought.
"He was a success almost from his first year," Collins said. "That in itself speaks a lot about his ability as a basketball coach."
Haskins' health had been an issue for several years, stretching back to his final season at UTEP when he was often forced to remain seated during games. The program that Haskins built struggled after twice being slapped with NCAA sanctions. Serious health concerns continued in his retirement. In the midst of a series of book signings and other appearances Haskins was hospitalized with various woes.
In recent weeks his health had declined rapidly, prompting friends and some former players to make special visits to see the ailing coach.
"It was a blessing ... for us to go by and visit with Coach Haskins," said Togo Railey, a guard/forward for Haskins' 1966 team.
"He was still just full of life, as sick as he was. We talked about of our old friends. Don, as sick as he was, had a little smirk on his face and was telling jokes and fibbing on one and another. It was just a blessing."
After his retirement, Haskins kept close ties with the Miners. The school's most recent hire, Tony Barbee, said he even met with Haskins just after accepting the job.
"We are losing a national treasure," Barbee said. "I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know him over the last two years. The information he shared with me was invaluable to a first-time head coach. He is a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame person."
UTEP athletic director Bob Stull called Haskins an "icon."
"He has had a huge impact on the city and the University of Texas at El Paso," Stull said. "He remains one of the most revered and honored coaches in basketball history. His decision to start five black players in the 1966 national championship game ... changed college basketball and the sports world. He will always be remembered for that." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:11 am
Joined: Nov 02, 2002
Richard Wright, a founder member of Pink Floyd, has died at the age of 65 after battling cancer, his spokesman said.
Wright played the keyboard with the legendary band and wrote music in classic albums such as Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here.
His spokesman said: "The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness, that Richard died ... after a short struggle with cancer. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this difficult time."
Wright's spokesman did not say from what form of cancer the star had been suffering.
The self-taught keyboardist and pianist met fellow band members Roger Waters and Nick Mason while at architecture school. He was a founder member of The Pink Floyd Sound in 1965, and the group's previous incarnations, such as Sigma 6.
In the early days of Pink Floyd, Wright, along with Syd Barrett, was seen as the group's dominant musical force. The London-born musician and son of a biochemist wrote and sang several songs of his own.
The Great Gig In The Sky, and Us And Them, both from 1973's seminal Dark Side Of The Moon album, were his most well-known compositions. He also made essential contributions to Atom Heart Mother, Echoes and Shine On You Crazy Diamond, the tribute to former band member Barrett.
After his relationship with Waters became increasingly difficult, he left Floyd following sessions for the album The Wall. Wright was retained as a salaried session musician during live concerts in 1980 and 1981. In 1983, Pink Floyd released the only album in which Wright does not appear - The Final Cut.
Wright played with the surviving members of Pink Floyd in 2005 at Live 8. He also performed at a tribute concert to Barrett last year, but Waters and Gilmour, who famously fell out more than 25 years ago, appeared separately. Wright had performed on every Pink Floyd tour.
He officially rejoined Pink Floyd following the departure of Waters and contributed vocals and keyboards to the 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. In 1994, he co-wrote five songs on The Division Bell album, singing lead vocals on the track Wearing The Inside Out. _________________ Toonami visual schedule - UPDATED AUGUST 2, 2015
Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:42 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
WESTPORT, Conn. — Paul Newman, the Oscar-winning superstar who personified cool as the anti-hero of such films as “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Color of Money” — followed by a second act as an activist, race car driver and popcorn impresario — has died. He was 83.
Newman died Friday at his farmhouse near Westport following a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.
In May, Newman dropped plans to direct a fall production of “Of Mice and Men” at Connecticut’s Westport Country Playhouse, citing unspecified health issues. The following month, a friend disclosed that he was being treated for cancer and Martha Stewart, also a friend, posted photos on her Web site of Newman looking gaunt at a charity luncheon.
But true to his fiercely private nature, Newman remained cagey about his condition, reacting to reports that he had lung cancer with a statement saying only that he was “doing nicely.”
As an actor, Newman got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world’s most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Academy Awards 10 times, winning one Oscar and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including “Exodus,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Verdict,” “The Sting” and “Absence of Malice.”
Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in “Butch Cassidy” and “The Sting.”
“There is a point where feelings go beyond words,” Redford said today. “I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it.”
He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood’s rare long-term marriages. “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in “The Long Hot Summer.” Newman also directed her in several films, including “Rachel, Rachel” and “The Glass Menagerie.”
With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. New York Times critic Caryn James wrote after his turn as the town curmudgeon in 1995’s “Nobody’s Fool” that “you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way.”
“Sometimes God makes perfect people,” fellow “Absence of Malice” star Sally Field said, “and Paul Newman was one of them.”
Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” one of the actor’s proudest achievements, he liked to say.
A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for “The Color of Money,” a reprise of the role of pool shark “Fast Eddie” Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film “The Hustler.”
In that film, Newman delivered a magnetic performance as the smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats — played by Jackie Gleason — and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel — directed by Scorsese — “Fast Eddie” is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback.
He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 “in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.” In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.
His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film “Road to Perdition.” One of Newman’s nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.)
As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama “Empire Falls” and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 car in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, “Cars.”
But in May 2007, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he had given up acting, though he intended to remain active in charity projects. “I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to,” he said. “You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”
Newman also turned to producing and directing. In 1968, he directed “Rachel, Rachel,” a film about a lonely spinster’s rebirth. The movie received four Oscar nominations, including Newman, for producer of a best motion picture, and Woodward, for best actress. The film earned Newman the best director award from the New York Film Critics Circle.
In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the 1969 film, “Winning.” After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.
“Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood,” he told People magazine in 1979.
Newman later became a car owner and formed a partnership with Carl Haas, starting Newman/Haas Racing in 1983 and joining the CART series. Hiring Mario Andretti as its first driver, the team was an instant success, and throughout the last 26 years, the team — now known as Newman/Haas/Lanigan and part of the IndyCar Series — has won 107 races and eight series championships.
Despite his love of race cars, Newman continued to make movies and continued to pile up Oscar nominations, his looks remarkably intact, his acting becoming more subtle, nothing like the mannered method performances of his early years, when he was sometimes dismissed as a Brando imitator.
In 1995, he was nominated for an Oscar for his slyest, most understated work yet, the town curmudgeon and deadbeat in “Nobody’s Fool.” New York Times critic Caryn James found his acting “without cheap sentiment and self-pity,” and observed, “It says everything about Mr. Newman’s performance, the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given, that you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way.”
Newman, who shunned Hollywood life, was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive, according to one friend. He also claimed that he never read reviews of his movies.
“If they’re good you get a fat head and if they’re bad you’re depressed for three weeks,” he said.
Off the screen, Newman had a taste for beer and was known for his practical jokes. He once had a Porsche installed in Redford’s hallway — crushed and covered with ribbons.
“I think that my sense of humor is the only thing that keeps me sane,” he told Newsweek magazine in a 1994 interview.
In 1982, Newman and his Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner, started a company to market Newman’s original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman’s Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company’s profits are donated to charities. By 2007, the company had donated more than $175 million, according to its Web site.
“We will miss our friend Paul Newman, but are lucky ourselves to have known such a remarkable person,” Robert Forrester, vice chairman of Newman’s Own Foundation, said in a statement.
Hotchner said Newman should have “everybody’s admiration.”
“For me it’s the loss of an adventurous friendship over the past 50 years and it’s the loss of a great American citizen,” Hotchner said.
In 1988, Newman founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. He went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe.
He and Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor “Nell,” Melissa and Clea.
“Our father was a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special,” his daughters said in a written statement. “Intensely private, he quietly succeeded beyond measure in impacting the lives of so many with his generosity.”
Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte. Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son’s death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children.
Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the second of two boys of Arthur S. Newman, a partner in a sporting goods store, and Theresa Fetzer Newman. He was raised in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, where he was encouraged him to pursue his interest in the arts by his mother and his uncle Joseph Newman, a well-known Ohio poet and journalist.
Following World War II service in the Navy, he enrolled at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he got a degree in English and was active in student productions.
He later studied at Yale University’s School of Drama, then headed to work in theater and television in New York, where his classmates at the famed Actor’s Studio included Brando, James Dean and Karl Malden.
Newman’s breakthrough was enabled by tragedy: Dean, scheduled to star as the disfigured boxer in a television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Battler,” died in a car crash in 1955. His role was taken by Newman, then a little-known performer.
Newman started in movies the year before, in “The Silver Chalice,” a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless Ben Quick in “The Long Hot Summer.”
In December 1994, about a month before his 70th birthday, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age.
“I’m not mellower, I’m not less angry, I’m not less self-critical, I’m not less tenacious,” he said. “Maybe the best part is that your liver can’t handle those beers at noon anymore,” he said. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Sat Sep 27, 2008 11:49 pm
Joined: Nov 02, 2002
Michael Crichton, the novelist and creative force behind the television series ER, has died. He was 66 and had cancer.
Best known for the novel Jurassic Park and its sequel, The Lost World, he was regarded as the father of the "techno thriller", entertaining readers with modern-age nightmares involving rogue scientists and the consequences of technology turning against humans.
But along with forging a career as a film director and writer who sold more than 150m books, he also made his presence felt in the global warming debate by endorsing controversial theories at odds with the majority of scientific opinion on climate change, and even gaining the ear of President George Bush.
His fame reached a peak in the mid-90s, when he brought dinosaurs back to life in the most popular film of the time, Jurassic Park, as well as enjoying a number one bestseller, Disclosure, and a number one TV series, the Emmy award-winning ER.
Born in Chicago in 1942, he was the eldest of four children and grew up on Long Island, although early years were spent in smalltown Colorado after his father, the editor of a New York advertising journal, went to fight in the second world war.
At the age of 14 he had an article published in the New York Times travel section, and he wrote for his student newspaper at Harvard, where he studied English but switched to anthropology and later studied medicine. His breakthrough novel, in 1969, was The Andromeda Strain, which featured a space virus unleashed on Earth and was sold to Hollywood.
Crichton was soon bringing his own vision straight to the screen, directing Westworld, about a wild-west theme park where technology goes out of control, but it was Jurassic Park that made his name. The film adaptation was directed by Steven Spielberg and grossed more than $900m worldwide, breaking boundaries with its special effects depicting dinosaurs cloned from prehistoric DNA.
Drawing on his medical experience, he then turned to television and created the acclaimed hospital drama ER.
Crichton's own life was often the stuff of thrillers: he came face to face with armed robbers in his Santa Monica home the year after he narrowly missed being on one of the planes used in the September 11 2001 attacks. Four marriages ended in divorce; the last one cost him a settlement of £20m.
In 2004 Crichton published State of Fear, an environmental thriller portraying global warming as a scientific hoax used to justify acts of eco-terrorism. Environmentalists accused him of blurring fiction with fact. Nonetheless, he was invited to the White House for a discussion with a man said to be among the book's fans: George Bush.
In an interview last year the writer told the Observer what kept him awake at night: "Unfortunately, my nightmares are disappointingly dull: I can't get the computer code right; I can't find my way through the train station; I am trapped at a tedious cocktail party and can't leave; I can't remember the names of people I meet. Ordinary life events."
A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come out next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely.
A statement issued by Crichton's family last night said: "Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand." _________________ Toonami visual schedule - UPDATED AUGUST 2, 2015
Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:47 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
LOS ANGELES - Forrest J Ackerman, the sometime actor, literary agent, magazine editor and full-time bon vivant who discovered author Ray Bradbury and was widely credited with coining the term "sci-fi," has died. He was 92.
Ackerman died Thursday of heart failure at his Los Angeles home, said Kevin Burns, head of Prometheus Entertainment and a trustee of Ackerman's estate.
Although only marginally known to readers of mainstream literature, Ackerman was legendary in science-fiction circles as the founding editor of the pulp magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. He was also the owner of a huge private collection of science-fiction movie and literary memorabilia that for years filled every nook and cranny of a hillside mansion overlooking Los Angeles.
"He became the Pied Piper, the spiritual leader, of everything science fiction, fantasy and horror," Burns said Friday.
Every Saturday morning that he was home, Ackerman would open up the house to anyone who wanted to view his treasures. He sold some pieces and gave others away when he moved to a smaller house in 2002, but he continued to let people visit him every Saturday for as long as his health permitted.
"My wife used to say, 'How can you let strangers into our home?' But what's the point of having a collection like this if you can't let people enjoy it?" an exuberant Ackerman told The Associated Press as he conducted a spirited tour of the mansion on his 85th birthday.
His collection once included more than 50,000 books, thousands of science-fiction magazines and such items as Bela Lugosi's cape from the 1931 film "Dracula."
His greatest achievement, however, was likely discovering Bradbury, author of the literary classics "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Martian Chronicles." Ackerman had placed a flyer in a Los Angeles bookstore for a science-fiction club he was founding and a teenage Bradbury showed up.
Later, Ackerman gave Bradbury the money to start his own science-fiction magazine, Futuria Fantasia, and paid the author's way to New York for an authors meeting that Bradbury said helped launch his career.
"I hadn't published yet, and I met a lot of these people who encouraged me and helped me get my career started, and that was all because of Forry Ackerman," the author told the AP in 2005.
Later, as a literary agent, Ackerman represented Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and numerous other science-fiction writers.
He said the term "sci-fi" came to him in 1954 when he was listening to a car radio and heard an announcer mention the word "hi-fi."
"My dear wife said, 'Forget it, Forry, it will never catch on,'" he recalled.
Soon he was using it in Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine he helped found in 1958 and edited for 25 years.
Ackerman himself appeared in numerous films over the years, usually in bit parts. His credits include "Queen of Blood," "Dracula vs. Frankenstein," "Amazon Women on the Moon," "Vampirella," "Transylvania Twist," "The Howling" and the Michael Jackson "Thriller" video. More recently, he appeared in 2007's "The Dead Undead" and 2006's "The Boneyard Collection."
Ackerman returned briefly to Famous Monsters of Filmland in the 1990s, but he quickly fell out with the publisher over creative differences. He sued and was awarded a judgment of more than $375,000.
Forrest James Ackerman was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 1916. He fell in love with science-fiction, he once said, when he was 9 years old and saw a magazine called Amazing Stories. He would hold onto that publication for the rest of his life.
Ackerman, who had no children, was preceded in death by his wife, Wendayne. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:12 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
LOS ANGELES - Bettie Page, the 1950s secretary-turned-model whose controversial photographs in skimpy attire or none at all helped set the stage for the 1960s sexual revolution, died Thursday. She was 85.
Page suffered a heart attack last week in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness, her agent Mark Roesler said. Before the heart attack, Page had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia.
"She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality," Roesler said. "She is the embodiment of beauty."
Page, who was also known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.
Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses.
The latter helped contribute to her mysterious disappearance from the public eye, which lasted decades and included years during which she battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.
After resurfacing in the 1990s, she occasionally granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken.
"I don't want to be photographed in my old age," she told an interviewer in 1998. "I feel the same way with old movie stars. ... It makes me sad. We want to remember them when they were young."
The 21st century indeed had people remembering her just as she was. She became the subject of songs, biographies, Web sites, comic books, movies and documentaries. A new generation of fans bought thousands of copies of her photos, and some feminists hailed her as a pioneer of women's liberation.
Gretchen Mol portrayed her in 2005's "The Notorious Bettie Page" and Paige Richards had the role in 2004's "Bettie Page: Dark Angel." Page herself took part in the 1998 documentary "Betty Page: Pinup Queen."
Her career began one day in October 1950 when she took a respite from her job as a secretary in a New York office for a walk along the beach at Coney Island. An amateur photographer named Jerry Tibbs admired the 27-year-old's firm, curvy body and asked her to pose.
Looking back on the career that followed, she told Playboy in 1998, "I never thought it was shameful. I felt normal. It's just that it was much better than pounding a typewriter eight hours a day, which gets monotonous."
Nudity didn't bother her, she said, explaining: "God approves of nudity. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were naked as jaybirds."
In 1951, Page fell under the influence of a photographer and his sister who specialized in S&M. They cut her hair into the dark bangs that became her signature and posed her in spiked heels and little else. She was photographed with a whip in her hand, and in one session she was spread-eagled between two trees, her feet dangling.
"I thought my arms and legs would come out of their sockets," she said later.
Moralists denounced the photos as perversion, and Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Page's home state, launched a congressional investigation.
Page quickly retreated from public view, later saying she was hounded by federal agents who waved her nude photos in her face. She also said she believed that, at age 34, her days as "the girl with the perfect figure" were nearly over.
She moved to Florida in 1957 and married a much younger man, as an early marriage to her high school sweetheart had ended in divorce.
Her second marriage also failed, as did a third, and she suffered a nervous breakdown.
In 1959, she was lying on a sea wall in Key West when she saw a church with a white neon cross on top. She walked inside and became a born-again Christian.
After attending Bible school, she wanted to serve as a missionary but was turned down because she had been divorced. Instead, she worked full-time for evangelist Billy Graham's ministry.
A move to Southern California in 1979 brought more troubles.
She was arrested after an altercation with her landlady, and doctors who examined her determined she had acute schizophrenia. She spent 20 months in a state mental hospital in San Bernardino.
A fight with another landlord resulted in her arrest, but she was found not guilty because of insanity. She was placed under state supervision for eight years.
"She had a very turbulent life," Todd Mueller, a family friend and autograph seller, told The Associated Press on Thursday. "She had a temper to her."
Mueller said he first met Page after tracking her down in the 1990s and persuaded her to do an autograph signing event.
He said she was a hit and sold about 3,000 autographs, usually for $200 to $300 each.
"Eleanor Roosevelt, we got $40 to $50. ... Bettie Page outsells them all," he told The AP last week.
Born April 22, 1923, in Nashville, Tenn., Page said she grew up in a family so poor "we were lucky to get an orange in our Christmas stockings."
The family included three boys and three girls, and Page said her father molested all of the girls.
After the Pages moved to Houston, her father decided to return to Tennessee and stole a police car for the trip. He was sent to prison, and for a time Betty lived in an orphanage.
In her teens she acted in high school plays, going on to study drama in New York and win a screen test from 20th Century Fox before her modeling career took off.
And while I was reading about this, I found out someone else passed away earlier this year...
Illustrator Dave Stevens, best known for his "good girl" art and The Rocketeer, died [March 10th] following a long, wrenching battle with Leukemia. Dave was born July 29, 1955 in Lynwood, California. He was raised in Portland, Oregon, then his family relocated to San Diego, where he attended San Diego City College and became involved in the early days of the San Diego Comic Book Convention, now known as the Comic-Con International. His skills as an artist were instantly evident to all, and he was encouraged by darn near every professional artist who attended the early cons, but especially by Jack Kirby and Russ Manning. In 1975, when Manning began editing a line of Tarzan comic books to be published in Europe, Dave got his first professional assignment, working on those comics and also assisting Russ with the Tarzan newspaper strip. Soon after, he worked on a few projects for Marvel (including the Star Wars comic book) and a number of underground comics. Later, he also worked with Russ on the Star Wars newspaper strip.
In 1977, Dave went to work for Hanna-Barbera where he drew storyboards and layouts, many of them for the Super Friends and Godzilla cartoon shows and bonded with veteran artist Doug Wildey, who produced the latter. Wildey and Stevens became close friends and in 1982, when Dave created his popular character, The Rocketeer, he modelled the character's sidekick, Peevy, on photos of Doug. Dave himself was Cliff Secord, who donned the mask of The Rocketeer, and other friends appeared in other guises.
The Rocketeer made Dave's reputation and also spawned a resurgence of interest in fifties' figure model Bettie Page, whose likeness Dave used for the strip's heroine. But the strip was not profitable for Dave, who was among the least prolific talents to ever attempt comic books. It wasn't so much that he was slow, as his friends joked, but that he was almost obsessively meticulous, doing days of study and sketching to create one panel, and doing many of them over and over. Even then, he was usually dissatisfied with what he produced and fiercely critical of the reproduction. Friends occasionally pitched in to help with the coloring but some begged off because they knew it was humanly impossible for anyone, including Dave himself, to produce coloring that he'd like. Eventually, he sold most of the rights to Disney for a Rocketeer movie that was produced in 1991. Dave served as a co-producer of the film and did a brief cameo, but the endeavor was not as lucrative for him as he'd hoped, and it pretty much ended Dave's interest in continuing the character.
Most of what Dave did after that fell into the general category of "glamour art," including portfolios and private commissions. Many of these were illustrations of Bettie Page who, though once thought deceased, turned out to be alive and living not all that far from Dave. They met and Dave became her friend and, though he was not wealthy, benefactor. Deciding that too many others had callously exploited her likeness, Dave voluntarily aided Ms. Page financially and even took to helping her in neighborly ways. One time, he told me — and without the slightest hint of resentment — "It's amazing. After years of fantasizing about this woman, I'm now driving her to cash her Social Security checks." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"It is with great sadness that we note the passing of our friend and colleague Maddie Blaustein. Maddie was a voice actress for hit shows such as Pokémon, Chaotic: M’arrillian Invasion, Dinosaur King, and Sonic X. She was a wonderful actress, friend and inspiration. Her talent, friendship and laughter will be missed by all."
Meowth never sounded better when Maddie was handling the role. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
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