Plan to redeem Brian Williams

brian w

Think this is a legitimately good plan:

Brian Williams announces he will buy a beer for every single American who’s ever actually been shot at in a military helicopter.

Ten city tour.  If you were once on a shot-at helicopter, go to the most convenient stop (they’ll be bars or VFW halls or something) and Brian Williams will buy you a beer and shake your hand.  You can tell him your story which will be good for him as a reporter.

In this way this beloved public figure can do serious penance and redeem himself and show he’s solid.

If he wants to provide pizza, that’s ok.  If he’s asking for my advice I’d say also go ahead and get pizza.  And good root beer for anyone who’s sober.

Learned an interesting bit of trivia about newsman Bob Schieffer the other day:

schieffer 2

Shortly after President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, while in the Star-Telegram office, he received a telephone call from a woman in search of a ride to Dallas. The woman was Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, whom he accompanied to the Dallas police station. He then spent the next several hours there pretending to be a detective (the first of many deceptions during his career), enabling him to have access to an office with a phone. In the company of Oswald’s mother Marguerite and his wife, Marina, he was able to use the phone to call in dispatches from other Star-Telegram reporters in the building. This enabled the Star Telegram to create four “Extra” editions on the day of the assassination.


Sarah Paulson

Paulson 1

Ryan Murphy sees Sarah Paulson and says, “that woman should be in every season of my show American Horror Story.  A witch, a freak, a tortured soul — if it’s horrifying, she’s the one.”

Paulson 3

Steve McQueen sees Sarah Paulson and says, “that woman should play the worst, meanest, southern plantation woman ever seen in film.”

Paulson 2

“Truly, I’ve found the actress who can make the everyday cruelty of a slaveowner’s wife comprehensible.”

Paulson 4

Aaron Sorkin sees Sarah Paulson and says:

“That’s the funniest woman in America.”


Donna Douglas Dies

Elly May Dances With A Chimp

Had a slight crush on Elly May from The Beverly Hillbillies (pictured, left, above) which was on TV somehow in my youth.

elly may

The Beverly Hillbillies was more influential than people give it credit for.  At one time I looked into remaking it but the rights situation made it unfeasible for me.  Also, we might already have that story on TV in other forms.  Watching funny rubes who have a lots of money but aren’t “high class” fills a lot of TV hours.

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Newer versions though often forget to include a well-meaning, restraining if stodgy character like Mr. Drysdale, the banker:

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and his loyal secretarial assistant, Miss Jane Hathaway, whom Wikipedia describes as “the love-starved bird-watching perennial spinster”:

Miss HathawayHere she is enjoying a cigarette… perhaps too much?:

The actress who played Miss Hathaway, Nancy Kulp, seems pretty interesting:

Kulp received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Florida State University in 1943, then known as the Florida State College for Women, and she started pursuing a master’s degree in English and French at the University of Miami. Early in the 1940s she worked as a feature writer for the Miami Beach Tropics newspaper, writing profiles of celebrities, including Clark Gable and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.[6][7]

In 1944 Kulp left the University of Miami to volunteer for service in the US Naval Reserve during World War II. As a member of theWAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), Ltjg. Kulp received several decorations, including the American Campaign Medal,

Kulp moved to Hollywood, California, not long after she married Charles Malcolm Dacus (in April 1951), to work in a studio publicitydepartment, where director George Cukor convinced her that she should work in front of a camera.

She later ran for as a Democrat for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 9th District:

To her dismay, Hillbillies co-star Buddy Ebsen called the Shuster campaign and volunteered to make a radio campaign ad in which he called Kulp ” too liberal.” Kulp said of Ebsen, “‘He’s not the kindly old Jed Clampett that you saw on the show… It’s none of his business and he should have stayed out of it.‘ She said she and Ebsen ‘didn’t get along because I found him difficult to work with. But I never would have done something like this to him.'” Garnering 59,449 votes, or just 33.6% to Shuster’s 117,203 votes and 66.4%, she lost.

The life of Raymond Bailey, who played Mr. Drysdale, seems pretty interesting too:

Having no success getting any kind of movie roles, Bailey then went to New York where he had no better success getting roles in theatre. Eventually he became a crewman on a freighter and began sailing to various parts of the world, including China, Japan, the Philippines and the Mediterranean. While docked in Hawaii, he worked on a pineapple plantation, acted at the community theatre and sang on a local radio program.

In 1938, he decided to try Hollywood again. His luck changed for the better when he actually began getting some bit parts in movies, but after the United States entered World War II he joined the Merchant Marine and went back to sea. When the war was over he returned to Hollywood and eventually began getting bigger character roles.

Buddy Ebsen also spent time at sea:

Ebsen served as damage control officer and later as executive officer on the Coast Guard-manned Navyfrigate USS Pocatello, which recorded weather at its “weather station” 1,500 miles west of Seattle, Washington. These patrols consisted of 30 days at sea, followed by 10 days in port at Seattle.

Rest in p Donna D.  We’ll always remember you for your classic Twilight Zone episode as well:

eye of the beholder

(CBS)

 

 

 


“Ben Dougan”

Really enjoyed tuning in to Late Show With David Letterman the other night.  No HelyTimes reader should miss the above clip.

I hadn’t watched the show in awhile: it brings back visceral memories of eating moist takeout on the 14th floor of the Ed Sullivan Theater, watching the taping alone on a little TV in my office.

Watching the show again I thought came closer to understanding the show than I ever did then.  David Letterman and Paul Schaffer operate in some shared inbetween land of irony and genuine, earnest love for the thing they’re being ironic about.  It’s like they’re making a parody of a TV show, but a parody that comes from an almost painful longing. Paul is more joyful.

Consider this, from a 1984 Playboy interview with DL:

Playboy: Paul Shaffer’s comical character provides a nice counterpoint to your cynicism. Was that something designed, or did it just happen?

Letterman: Paul was originally hired solely for the music. We wanted old R&B stuff and good, solid rock ‘n’ roll—the kind of music you never hear on TV talk shows. But while we were talking with him, we were reminded of all the wonderful things he had done on Saturday Night Live,playing Don Kirshner and Marvin Hamlisch. And he is a very, very funny guy. So we just naturally began utilizing more and more of his talents.

Playboy: But where did that character come from?

Letterman: From Paul, who really does love showbiz kitsch. It’s his hobby. He records The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and plays back Jerry introducing Chad Everett 100 times in a row. On vacations, he goes to Las Vegas and listens to lounge comics and lounge piano players and memorizes their clichés. It’s not that he’s making fun of it; he’s fascinated by it.

Playboy: What you say makes us wonder if the character he plays really is a character.

Letterman: When people come up to me on the street, probably the most asked question is “Is Paul Shaffer for real?” What he does is an extension of an aspect of his personality. So it would not be inaccurate to say, “Yeah, that’s him.” But he’s also a very nice man; a sweet, sensitive human being. See? Maybe it is impossible to describe Paul without lapsing into those stupid showbiz clichés. You know him, you love him, you can’t live without him.

Another interesting thing from that interview:

Playboy: Your college years were 1965 through 1969, the anti-Vietnam war protest era. Were you involved in the radical politics of that time?

Letterman: Ball State was pretty much isolated from all of that. I’m not sure why, since Kent State was not far off or too different. And I was not what you would call politicized. While other campuses were staging major demonstrations, our biggest worry was “How are we gonna get beer for the big dance?” I was hardly aware of the Vietnam war until a friend of mine flunked out and was drafted and [snaps fingers] was dead like that. One day, here’s a guy setting fire to the housemother’s panty hose, and the next day, he’s gone. That got my attention.

It’s no wonder DFW thought so much about Letterman.  I’m not gonna try and articulate something that stumped that dude.

A shame this above clip cuts off before a callback about Ben Dougan’s nose for a free lunch.  That was pure joy.

 


The Atlantic can be silly sometimes.

photoUm, cause a guy’s head got eggsploded?

 


More Milch

QUESTION: I work for a homeless newspaper, and I encounter a lot of writing by people who are mentally divergent. In your years of self-confessed madness and drug abuse, did you have any moments of clarity?

MILCH: Once I was burying myself in Mexico . I had sold my passport to some criminals, and I got drawn further in by steps, as these things usually happen. There was a lunatic chemist who contracted a stomach ache, and a consort of his named Yum-Yum decided to treat it with an enema. Turns out he had peritonitis and she killed him. We were all down there illegally, so I was digging this guy’s grave, and I tossed the body in. I figured I should grab his ID just in case I eventually decided to do the right thing and contact his relatives, and found my own passport that I had sold six months before. That was a moment of clarity, but thanks to liberal amounts of chloroform, it didn’t last.

(from here, photo from here)


Difficult Men

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I enjoyed this book.  (A sequel about Amy Sherman-Palladino etc.?)  Here are a few items of interest.

David Chase talking about what he learned from Stephen J. Cannell:

“Cannell taught me that your hero can do a lot of bad things, he can make all kinds of mistakes, can be lazy and look like a fool, as long as he’s the smartest guy in the room and he’s good at his job.  That’s what we ask of our heroes.”

Cannell:

“I’m not a mogul, I’m a writer.  I write every day for five hours.  If that doesn’t make me a writer, what does?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7vo9cJhsXQ

And here’s a good tidbit:

The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood [the book] was finished three years after the project began.  (“Simon was very heavy into fantasy baseball one of the years,” Burns said by way of explaining why it took so long to write.)

There’s some great stuff about how cool Clarke Peters is.

Peters was an erudite, fifty-year-old native New Yorker.  He had left the United States as a teenager for Paris, where there were still the remnants of a great African American expat community.  Within weeks of arriving, he’d met James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and the blues pianist Memphis Slim, among others.

While Peters was running basically a salon in Baltimore, Herc and Carver were playing video games all day and going to strip clubs.

David Milch does not disappoint:

The actor Garret Dillahunt, who first played Wild Bill’s killer and then the character Francis Wolcott, was given and asked to study 190 pages of biographical material about a sixteenth-century heretic named Paracelsus.

(Paracelsus:

Later, talking about John From Cincinnati:

“My understanding of the way the mechanism of storytelling works is [that] any story is constantly appending specific values to the meanings of words, and of the actions of characters.  And the fact that story uses as its building blocks words or character that the audience believes it has some prior recognition or understanding of, is really simply the beginning of the story, but not its end.”

Um, yeah no shit duh. 

Say what you will: for my money, the opening sequence to JfC is the best ever in TV history:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrWZlh7DnBE


Dick Wolf

Many amazing things in this book:

I have to thank the Chennai office for recommending it.  Two of the more amazing quotes come from Dick Wolf:

Dick Wolf: Most dramas make my skin itch because they give you personal stuff with a soup ladle.  When you go into work and look around your office, how many of your colleagues’ apartments have you been in?  Ours is a workplace show.  All we’re interested in is what happens in the eight or ten hours when the characters are actually at work.

There’s also no time.  That’s why there are no establishing shots, no driving shots, no people walking into buildings.  Each half of the show is the equivalent to a normal hour cop show or legal show.  You’re essentially doing an hour’s worth of content in half the time.

I grew up on N. Y. P. D., the original, and Naked CityNaked City is much more the prototype for Law & Order than anything else on TV.  The best pictures about conflict are the ones that almost look like news.  Like The Battle of Algiers.

Later, Dick Wolf weighs in on the contractual disputes at Friends.  The Friends cast all banded together to negotiate their contracts, and the result was they got huge amounts of money.  Dick Wolf would’ve handled it differently:

Dick Wolf: When they made the Friends deal, the $100,000 apiece [per episode] deal, I was pretty upset.  What I would have done was come out the first day, say I was disappointed the cast had chosen to negotiate in the press, and I had the unpleasant news that Matt LeBlanc wouldn’t be on the show next year.  I guarantee that you’d never have gotten to a second name.


Earl Sweatshirt

Not my beat, but I just read the NY Times article about him:

In Samoa he was taking courses and speaking with therapists. He swam with whales and earned a scuba diving license, watched every episode of “The Mentalist” on DVD, put his classmates onto Lil B, began learning how to play piano. He read Manning Marable’s Malcolm X biography and Richard Fariña’s counterculture fiction.

Interesting article about fame, being a good person, mothers, etc.