Wednesday, December 24, 2014

For Deliciously Bad Holiday Viewing, NOTHING Can Compare With SANTA CLAUS The Movie!

Ever wonder where Santa came from, and how it's possible he's been around so long? Santa Claus the Movie will tell you. It seems that in a faux medieval land there was a woodcutter who liked to make toys for children. Returning home one snowy Christmas Eve, Claus (David Huddleston) and the missus (Judy Cornwell) and the two reindeer pulling their sleigh froze to death in a sudden storm. But magic starlight reanimates them, as elves in green felt shanghai them to a Brigadoon-like North Pole HQ. "This is your home now," they titter evilly to the undead Santa, and so he's stuck there forever, amongst the barracks full of elves and sweatshops full of toys, which the immortal elves have been making in anticipation of his arrival.

Ancient elf Burgess Meredith tells Huddleston that he is "the chosen one," and that a prophecy foretold his coming. In this way, Santa Claus the Movie is just like The Matrix, only instead of being cool and exciting it's bizarro and satanically corrupt. More mysterious and unanswered is the question of how an immortal elf can become ancient -- or has poor old Burgess been shuffling and moaning his way around since the beginning of time?

Santa -- who is just as wooden as his toys -- seems not a whit disturbed by the prospect of an eternal, unrelenting hell of catering to spoiled kiddies around the globe. "Ho ho ho," you can practically hear him say, "I'm undead! Might as well make the best of it." Clueless by nature, he's prone to saying things like, one Christmas Eve, "Tonight there's not a child alive who's not bursting with joy and happiness," apparently oblivious to all the non-Christian children he won't be visiting. The question of the poor kids who invariably are forgotten by the Fat Guy is pushed aside as well -- though we imagine that Mrs. Claus, who lobbied for the exclusion of bad children at Christmastime, perhaps attached a rider to her bill disenfranchising the poor, as well.

Or maybe Santa is just an inhumanely callous monster -- perfectly understandable, given that he is, in fact, undead. By the time we reach the present day, and the second of the three plots in Santa Claus the movie, Santa has met Christian Fitzpatrick, a homeless street urchin who has to beg food off strangers. Santa takes Fitzpatrick hot-rodding in his sleigh as a special treat to cheer him up... but does Claus give the kid a home, parents, or even a warm winter coat? No. He just drops him off to fend for himself promising to return next Christmas Eve. (Not even a crappy wooden toy? Thanks for the buggy ride, Santa!)

The third - and final - plot involves an elf named Patch, (played with dexterous apathy by Dudley Moore), who defects to work for a sinister toymaker named B.Z., (played with the usual scenery-guzzling gusto of John Lithgow). Upon medical advice, we’re not permitted to discuss this subplot at all. (Our doctors have informed us that our medications cannot be upped any further.) Suffice it to say that in all the annals of pestilent filmmaking, this ranks right up there with the complete works of Michael Bay.

You must see Santa Claus the movie, if only to boggle at the horrifying-depths to which a big studio Christmas film can sink. It actually perverts the spirit of the holiday into something creepy, itchy, and laugh-out-loud insane Just be sure to set aside sufficient funds for a lifetime of therapy afterward.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ATTENTION: We interrupt this blog for a public service announcement - Kirk Cameron is STILL an idiot!

click the link below to be taken to the original post at Media Matters (with video):

Fox News' Outnumbered Helps Kirk Cameron Lecture Women On Christmas Etiquette And Accepting Sexism (oh yes).

Fox News' Outnumbered helped Kirk Cameron justify his recent instruction to women on proper etiquette during the Christmas season, a defense that offers a glimpse into what drives Cameron and the network's campaign against the imaginary War on Christmas.
Cameron, an evangelical Christian made famous for his role in ABC's Growing Pains, took to Facebook on November 13 to instruct women on the necessity of remaining joyful this Christmas while cooking and decorating the home so as not to ruin the holiday for their families. Cameron was promoting his new Christmas movie, Saving Christmas, which promises take a stand against people "who really want to put a big wet blanket on" Christmas by saying 'Happy Holidays' or opposing Christmas plays in schools. In his post, Cameron directed women, "The joy of the mom is her children's strength, so don't let anything steal your joy ... Let your children, your family, see your joy in the way you decorate your home this Christmas, in the food that you cook, the songs you sing, the stories you tell, and the traditions that you keep."
Cameron's remarks received widespread criticism, but he defended his lecture the next day on Fox News' Outnumbered. Rejecting the characterization that he was directing women not to work outside the home, Cameron told his female co-hosts that he was merely praising stay-at-home mothers for their work and sacrifice.
Co-host Sandra Smith assured Cameron that even though some women perceived his remarks to be offensive, "I know what you meant by it, and I believe in what you said." Hosts Andrea Tantaros and Kirsten Powers meanwhile expressed sympathy for Cameron and asked how he handled having his words twisted and sensationalized by media outlets.

Cameron's proposed solution to saving Christmas -- a smiling mother making food for her family -- adopts a striking 1950s pop culture view of motherhood, families, and our nation as a "Christian" country. It's not surprising Cameron's fantasy found safe harbor on Outnumbered as his view is echoed in Fox's annual crusade against the imaginary War on Christmas. Bill O'Reilly has already waged his first battle of the 2014 Christmas season, railing against losing "all our traditions" to Muslims and other religions and last year, Megyn Kelly infamously argued that both Jesus Christ and Santa Claus were white. Outnumbered's defense of Cameron's view of motherhood at Christmastime offers a window into what Fox's War on Christmas is really about -- the desire to return to a fictional past full of all-white, Leave It To Beaver families.
Earlier in the Fox program, Cameron similarly dismissed concerns about sexism in politics. Weighing in on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's recent remarks that women are held to a different standard in politics, often subjected to demeaning questions about age and qualifications, Cameron argued that Pelosi and other women in politics are just getting what they've asked for:
CAMERON: I just think it's funny that when someone wants to be treated equally with men, someone wants to be treated like one of the guys, not differently, and then they're treated the way men treat other men, which tends to be kind of rough, it's just a little awkward when they then complain that someone threw an elbow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


At the height of their popularity, Lily Tomlin and John Travolta combined their considerable clout — and lookalike shag hairdos — to bring their careers to a halt with the screamingly funny melodrama MOMENT BY MOMENT about a Beverly Hills matron’s fling with a studly young gigolo. Written and directed by Tomlin’s longtime collaborator Jane Wagner, the movie commits two fatal errors: This ripe-for-parody trash is (inexplicably) played straight-faced, and Travolta’s character is (even more inexplicably) named "Strip." Everytime Tomlin speaks his name, she seems to be asking him to peel — even when he’s already naked, as in the hot tub scene that made audiences cry with laughter.

Travolta: "I love you. Do you love me?"
Tomlin: "Strip . . ."
Travolta: "You don’t love me?"
Tomlin: "Oh, Strip . . ."
Travolta: "I’m not good enough for you, is that it?"
Tomlin: "Strip! This is ridiculous. Oh, Strip!"
Travolta: "When you’re ready to admit you love me, you can have me, but not until."
Tomlin: "Strip!"

Names are not, however, the only problem. Tomlin’s meant-to-be-heartbreaking (but-we’re-afraid-they’re-side-splitting!) telephone conversations with her estranged husband go thus: "Trish," says the husband’s voice, "we’ve got to talk . . . What about the pool filter?" Tomlin replies, sadly "What about it?" "What do you want me to do?" he asks. "You decide," she says, before collapsing in tears.

As embarrassing as all this is, Tomlin never stoops to Travolta’s level. He agreed to be photographed from the waist down while tugging off his pants so the camera can lovingly stare at his, uh, bathing suit as he bumps ‘n’ grinds his way down into the sea. (And what was he thinking of when he agreed to call Tomlin such catchy nicknames as "Miss Ultra-Frost" and "Miss Fabu-Lash"?)

What was anyone thinking of when they decided not to cut out the howler scene in which Travolta says, "I’ve had it with cheap sex, it leaves me feeling cheap," and Tomlin replies, "I’ve never had cheap sex before — I was sort of looking forward to it."? Then there’s the foot fetish show at an art gallery, where Tomlin informs Travolta, "I don’t like to see you drink so much at your age," and he responds, "I’m not so young as I used to be — and this party’s going to turn me gray overnight." (It’s amazing that the movie’s reviews didn’t do just that.)

After they fight, Travolta says, "I’m splitting. Pretty soon you’ll be old enough to be my grandmother." "Where will you go?" Tomlin asks. Travolta runs through his options: "Maybe Vegas. A rich lady asked me to go to St. Tropez," then adds, in the film’s only believable moment, "I got offered a porno movie." When he’s gone, Trish runs through the house, calling "Strip, Strip, Strip, Strip!" then, embarks, wide-eyed, on a drive through Trailer Park America to find the hustler she loves. We located this rare gem on Universal HD cable network. It has never been released on home video. Write your congressman!

Friday, October 24, 2014

DELICIOUS ANTICIPATION: This Christmas, the folks at Disney and director Rob Marshall bring Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical masterpiece to the big screen with an amazing cast!

CLICK THIS LINK TO WATCH MERYL STREEP PERFORM A NUMBER IN THE FILM: "Into the Woods" is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) - all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them. Rob Marshall, the talented filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical "Chicago" and Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," helms the film, which is based on the Tony®-winning original musical by James Lapine, who also penned the screenplay, and legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, who provides the music and lyrics. Produced by Marshall, John DeLuca, "Wicked" producer Marc Platt and Callum McDougall, "Into the Woods" hits theaters December 25, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Hungry for memorably, side-splittingly Bad? Then look no further! The infamous 1973 mega-bomb LOST HORIZON gives you 149 minutes worth, dished up faux Asian style by producer Ross Hunter. Hunter was already richer than Midas from producing such gems as Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession when he spent zillions to remake Frank Capra’s classic movie fantasy about Shangri-La into a Burt Bacharach/Hal David musical, all of it starring non-singing, non-dancing, non-actors.

The hilarity begins with a planeload of cardboard characters: diplomat Peter Finch, his surly brother Michael York, engineer George Kennedy, entertainer Bobby Van, and Sally Kellerman as a suicidal Newsweek photographer who, at first sign of air turbulence, starts popping pills. Hyperventilating, Kellerman swoons, "I feel we’re heading for outer space."

No such luck: Instead of a snowy death, our heroes’ plane crash dumps them in a smiley utopia apparently inspired by a Liberace theme park.

Resident guru, ancient John Gielgud (picture a mummy on Prozac), brings Finch to confer with the even more ancient High Lama Charles Boyer (picture a mummy beyond Prozac), who suggests that Finch linger forever. He doesn’t need much convincing; he’s already fallen for schoolmarm Liv Ullman. "Is there some delicious drug in our food?" Finch asks "or is this all a mirage?"

Drugs are the only possible explanation; in any case, only drugs can help get you past the sight of Ullman swinging her hands, bugging her eyes, thrashing in fields, and lip-synching "The World Is a Circle" – it’s enough to make one appreciate Cybill Shepherd in At Long Last Love. (Well... maybe not appreciate so much as tolerate.)
No sooner is Kellerman talked down from leaping off a ledge (did she foresee the reviews?) Than she, too, is bleating in song. Then steel yourself for the "Festival of the Family"number, in which James Shigeta and scads of arrythmic extras dance a two-step, singing about family values.

Everybody’s soooo bloody happy except York, who plots his escape with dewy (If obviously pregnant) librarian Olivia Hussey. Gielgud grumbles that Hussy’s youthful facade will shatter if she leaves this magical land – it’s only Shangri-La that keeps her from growing ancient, you see – but York eventually persuades Finch to escape with them. Just as Gielgud predicted, Hussey ages to, oh, about Gielgud’s age, and York tumbles to his death down a mountainside. Lucky them.

Finch, sadder but wiser, returns to his paradise "with its feet rooted in the good earth of this fertile valley while his head explores the eternal." We can’t vouch for where anybody’s head was at in making this movie, but we can hazard a guess.

Be sure to catch it on the recent 2012 issued (restored to its original Roadshow length!) Twilight Time Blu ray. Essential, if life-shortening, viewing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Quick now, who was the least likely musical talent to ever have hoped they'd make it as a star of the silver screen? If you guessed Luciano Pavarotti in Yes, Giorgio, Cyndi Lauper in Vibes, Mariah Carey in Glitter or Madonna in just about anything, then you've never seen Liberace in the 1955 howler SINCERELY YOURS. With his moist eyes, congealed smile and mortician's manners, Las Vegas headliner Liberace was doubly miscast here as a talented concert pianist who is also a practicing heterosexual.

Somebody must have realized just how ridiculous this project was, because how else would you account for this scene: when secretary Joanne Dru offers up a choice of PR opportunities - "How'd you like to ride an elephant for the circus?" then, "Would you like to be king of the avocado festival?" and finally, "Open a new aquarium?" -- Liberace is miffed at their inappropriateness to someone of his stature and storms into his bathroom, where his roommate and manager, William Demarest, is taking a bubble bath and chewing on a very large cigar. As if the tableau alone were not enough, Liberace tosses Demarest a washcloth and says, "Don't forget to wash behind. . . your ears."

But the real fun begins as gorgeous, rich Dorothy Malone understandably mistakes Liberace for a lowly piano teacher and haughtily informs him, "When your family has money, you're supposed to be accomplished. So I learned to paint, to ride, to dance, even to try and play the piano. Some people are born listeners--I'm one of them. But my family won't be convinced until I get a letter from you, saying I should stick to Mediterranean cruises and canasta."

Just as you're about to grab a pen and paper to take care of this matter yourself, Liberace sneers at Malone, "Where did you practice your scales - reaching for martinis?" Now that these two have expressed their mutual contempt, Liberace proposes marriage: "Did you ever wonder what it would be like spending a lifetime married to a musician?" he queries Malone. Just in case she's been overwhelmed by his charm, he goes on to warn her, "It's not easy competing with a concerto!" But hey, it's not easy competing with 10 percent of the male population either, right?

Malone is too in love to heed warnings, not even the one she gets at Liberace's concert from serviceman Alex Nicol, who utters words any bride-to-be should pay attention to: "He respects the classics, but from a sitting position - not from his knees." Meanwhile, up on stage Liberace is bouncing on his bench, rolling his eyes ecstatically, and smiling in such delirious self-enchantment he appears to be deep inside his own musical remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Just when you're thinking you'd rather go deaf than listen to one more note from Liberace, he does. This situation puts an end to his concert career, allowing him to mope around his swanky Manhattan penthouse and, in Lana Turner style, to make many of the 29 costume changes that won this movie it's place in cinema history.

Dim bulb Malone isn't the first girl to wonder why her fiance hasn't been taking her calls, but she's probably the first to be given this excuse: "He's deaf." Putting on a bright face, Malone insists they should marry anyway, explaining, "I fell in love with a person, not a pianist." Actually, of course, he's neither, but it's a nice thought. His spirits restored, Liberace embarks on a 12-week course in lip-reading that goes by in what feels like real time. It all pays off, though, when we get to see how he applies this new skill. Leaning off his terrace while holding a big pair of binoculars, Liberace scans Central Park some 30 stories below. That's right, he's become a full-time, long-distance lip-reading voyeur.

To get full mileage out of this plot point, Liberace's hearing returns, and he races down to Central Park to eavesdrop in person on the latest twists in the two-hankie saga he's been lip-reading from afar. It seems that young Lori Nelson is pulling a Stella Dallas on her white-trash mother (Lurene Tuttle) by telling her she'll never fit in with Nelson's ritzy in-laws. After Nelson leaves, Liberace takes the heartbroken Tuttle in hand and happily buys her just the heels, hats and evening gowns he might have picked out for himself. That night he goes with Tuttle to a charity fund-raiser where all the snooty blue bloods are charmed by Tuttle, particularly when she talks Liberace into performing "The Beer Barrel Polka." Then, as divine punishment for this musical lapse, Liberace is struck deaf all over again.

A still hearing-challenged Liberace is casually gazing through his binoculars one night when his eyes settle on none other than his beloved Malone with his serviceman pal Alex Nicol in what is certainly a romantic rendezvous. Amazingly enough - since it's pitch-black outside - he reads their lips to learn that Malone is in love with the other man. What will Liberace do? It all ends happily with Liberace so quickly reconciled to life without wedded bliss that he hops up from his piano and tap dances "Tea for Two," which is meant to have you asking, "Is there no end to this man's talent?" You'll more likely be wondering, "Is there no end to this movie?" Well, yes there is, and it happens to have been the end of Liberace's chances at a starring screen career, too.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Douglas Sirk lives on in the deliciously overwrought COLOR OF NIGHT - a 1994 Bruce Willis misfire that had us doubled over with delirium!

Just when you thought they'd never make a mystery thriller as deliriously bad as Midnight Lace, just when you imagined that the gold lame spirit of Douglas Sirk had departed forever, comes director Richard Rush's COLOR OF NIGHT to brighten up your dull evenings. Color of Night isn't just bad: it's bad with raisins in it.
 If you were one of the few who saw Color of Night in a theater, you probably remember the plot, but for those millions and millions who missed this gem, let's recap.
Bruce Willis stars as a psychologist. (Are you laughing too hard or can we go on now?) Willis is having a crisis of conscience/ confidence because one of his patients leaped out of a window after applying lots of lipstick. (We all know, don't we, that applying lots of lipstick is a sure sign of suicidal depression?) Anyway, Willis goes out to L.A. to visit fellow shrink Scott Bakula, who takes Willis to his group therapy session so that the fun can start in earnest. Remember "The Bob Newhart Show" from the '70's? His group therapy meetings weren't nearly as funny as these: we have a nympho, an obsessive-compulsive, a split personality, the Professor and Mary Ann -- well, you get the idea. Bakula gets killed in a scene that looks like Psycho directed by Mack Sennett. The sad part is that Bakula is the most talented and attractive member of the whole goddamn cast and 30 minutes into the picture he's been bumped off.

Willis stays on in Bakula's grandiosely modern home (crammed with screamingly bad art) despite the fact that someone keeps stalking him and leaving snakes in the mailbox. (Are hotels in L.A. that expensive?) It's like the TV movie where that devil doll keeps chasing Karen Black around her apartment going, "Yanni yanni yanni," and it never occurs to her to just leave.Instead of ruining the horribly implausible and helter-skelter plot for you, We'll just point out some of the more outrageous lapses of sanity: a) Willis's patient jumps out of a Manhattan office tower, causing pedestrians to scream and run, whereas real New Yorkers would have lifted her purse; b) Three days after famous psychologist Scott Bakula is killed in an exceedingly colorful way in his midtown office, his patients still don't know about it -- okay, we've already established that there are no reasonably priced hotels in L.A., but surely there must be at least one newspaper or TV station; c) The whole plot hook -- Willis goes color blind after seeing his patient's blood -- goes nowhere. Period. You keep thinking there has to be a reason for it or a plot twist that depends on it -- but nothing ever happens.

The film is a laugh riot and we don't want to give away all of the jokes. When we saw the film in the theater, the audience laughed all the way through the first sex scene, which took place underwater and was about as erotic as an Esther Williams movie. Oh, yes, we do get to see generous portions of Bruce Willis, though not as much as he'd have liked.

Then there's the acting. Even the extras overact. Keep your eyes out for one unbilled woman playing a hooker in a police station. She only has one line, but she gives it such gusto that she will leave you stunned. Even formerly respected actors lose all sense of self-control; Lesley Ann Warren (decked out in a Shelley Long wig) twitches and twitters like a road company Billie Burke, and Ruben Blades does what appears to be a Jose Jimenez imitation. Willis actually seems like a model of intelligent understatement compared with the rest of the cast, but the truth is, he just wasn't acting at all.

And then there's Jane March. Ever so much of Jane March. Watching her try to match wits with Bruce Willis really makes you appreciate the bang-up job Cybill Shepherd was doing all those years. Jane spends half the movie dressed in disguise as a teenage boy. (How hard is she to spot? She's got teeth like Bucky Beaver! This gal could eat corn on the cob through a picket fence!) It all just gets sillier and sillier until the grand finale, which tried to come off as Hitchcockian but reminded us more of silent film legend Harold Lloyd. Judging by the guffaws from the audience, we weren't alone. So, watch Color of Night if you're feeling down in the mouth. Just don't try to eat popcorn during it -- unless you know the Heimlich maneuver.

Friday, September 19, 2014


"Instant camp classic," giggled The New York Times about SHOWGIRLS. And how! It's been well noted that writer Joe Eszterhas lifted the plot of Showgirls from All About Eve, 42nd Street and Flashdance. It should also be pointed out that Showgirls owes a major debt to one of my favorite bad movies, Valley of the Dolls. What Eszterhas has done is combine the four femmes from Dolls into just two gals -- with schizo results. Elizabeth Berkley behaves like both a nice newcomer seduced by her boss and a self-destructive, psychotic bitch; costar Gina Gershon is both a sweet showgirl and a seen-it-all, show-biz monster. Even the stars we hear the filmmakers wanted for the Berkley and Gershon roles, Drew Barrymore and Madonna, couldn't have pulled off playing such split personalities. With two glassy-eyed doorstops in the leads, Showgirls is unadulterated farce from the get-go.

Our show begins when tough, young hitchhiker Berkley gets a lift from hunky sociopath Dewey Weber, who generously drives her to Las Vegas, then steals her suitcase (what does he think is inside?). Down-and-out Berkley moves in with dim-bulb waitress Gina Ravera, who remarks, "I haven't gotten laid in six months. My right hand's so tired I can hardly thread a needle!" Soon Berkley's got a gig as a cheesy stripper, but when she gets a look at the Big Time at the hotel Ravera works at, she witnesses a real Vegas show starring Gershon (who, despite the rhinestones glued to her boobs, is indistinguishable from any of the other dancers). A coked-up Gershon turns up at Berkley's strip joint with her hotel boss/lover Kyle MacLachlan, and pays Berkley $500 for a nude lap dance, during which Berkley, in a fit of originality, licks her own nipple. Whereupon Gershon encourages Berkley to audition for the hotel show.

Surveying the line of hopefuls, snide show producer Alan Rachins snarls at the first, "What are these, watermelons? This is a stage, babe, not a patch!" Viewing Berkley's nipples, he leers, "I'm erect, why aren't you?" Berkley is hired and proceeds to witness the dog-eat-dog world of showgirls: one chorine growls at seamstress Ravera, "You're gonna see a smilin' snatch if you don't fix this G-string." Well, maybe it's more dog-eat-dog-food: over lunch Gershon tells Berkley, "I've had dog food. I used to love Doggie Chow," and Berkley gushes, "I used to love Doggie Chow, too!" The brief bonding over pet food experiences ends when Gershon plays with Berkley's breasts, cooing, "You are a whore," and Berkley rejects her, sneering, "Bitch!"

Berkley is visited in her new, "classier" digs by her old strip-club pals, one of whom thinks Berkley "looks better than a 10-inch dick," and the other of whom comments, "Must be weird not having anybody come on you." Flush with success, Berkley goes after druggy McLachlan. Naked in his pool, she sits on him and does a whiplash-like imitation of sex which resembles nothing so much as an epileptic fit. (You'll want to add some Tide and throw in your laundry!) Then, having stolen Gershon's guy, she shoves Gershon down a staircase, and that night she takes Gershon's place in the show and becomes a star (although she, like Gershon, blends right into the chorus). Her triumph is spoiled when pal Ravera is gang-raped by a rock star and his friends. Suddenly, Showgirls veers off into Cleopatra Jones/Coffy territory, with Berkley becoming a martial-arts super-heroine -- Ninja Showgirl? -- who kicks the rocker senseless. After French-kissing Gershon farewell, an older, wiser Berkley blows town, hitching a ride with, yep, luggage thief Weber. The duo heads for L.A.--to work, we hope, for Zalman King in a sexy cable TV series lifted from their roles here: each week, a little lap-dancing, a little crime-fighting. (Well... I'd lap it up).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DELICIOUS bids a sad farewell to a very funny lady - Joan Rivers (1933 - 2014)

“When I die (and yes, Melissa, that day will come; and yes, Melissa, everything’s in your name), I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action…I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing ‘Mr. Lonely.’ I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair will be blowing just like Beyoncé's."   ~ Joan Rivers, from her 2012 book, I Hate Everyone... Starting With Me

Joan Rivers remembered at star-studded funeral

NEW YORK (AP) — Howard Stern delivered the eulogy, Broadway singer-actress Audra McDonald sang "Smile" and bagpipers played "New York, New York" at Joan Rivers' funeral Sunday, a star-studded send-off that — like late comedian herself — brought together the worlds of Hollywood, theater, fashion and media.

At a funeral befitting a superstar, the New York City Gay Men's Chorus sang Broadway hits including "Hey Big Spender" before six-time Tony Award-winner McDonald sang her tribute to Rivers, a champion of theater for decades.

Tributes and reminiscences were delivered by TV anchor Deborah Norville, close friend Margie Stern, columnist Cindy Adams and Rivers' daughter, Melissa, who spoke about how she respected her mother and appreciated everyone's support.

"It was uplifting. We were celebrating her life," said fashion designer Dennis Basso.

Hugh Jackman sang "Quiet Please, There's A Lady On Stage" at the end of the ceremony and bagpipers from the New York City Police Department played on the streets as mourners filed out of Temple Emanu-El, many dabbing their eyes.

The funeral program included a page with three classic Rivers' lines printed out: "Can we talk?" ''Who are you wearing?" and "Because I'm a funny person."

A legion of notables turned out to remember Rivers, who died Thursday at 81: comedians Kathy Griffin, Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg; colleague and friend Kelly Osbourne; Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick; and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.

Theater stars Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune were there. Record producer Clive Davis was, too. Fashion designers Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors were in attendance. Stars from TV such as Barbara Walters, Geraldo Rivera, Diane Sawyer, Kathie Lee, Hoda Kotb and Andy Cohen. Late night band leader Paul Shaffer. And moguls Barry Diller, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes.

Mourners had lined up outside the Fifth Avenue synagogue and waited for their names to be checked against a list before entering. A crowd of media stood watch across the street, and fans from as far away as Australia and England lined the streets.

Actress Susan Claassen, who met Rivers in London in 2008 when both had one-woman shows, came from Tucson, Arizona, to honor her friend. "I always like to say that in a world of knockoffs, Joan was an original," she said.

The comedian detailed in her 2012 book "I Hate Everyone ... Starting With Me" that she hoped for "a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action" and "Hollywood all the way." Instead of a rabbi talking, Rivers asked for "Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents" and "a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce's." Indeed, her wishes were so important they were printed in the funeral program.

Rivers was a trailblazer for all comics, but especially for women. The raspy-voiced blonde with the brash New York accent was a TV talk show host, stage, film and TV actress, fashion critic, and she sold a line of jewelry.

The cause of death is being investigated. Rivers was hospitalized on Aug. 28 after she went into cardiac arrest during a routine procedure at a doctor's office. The New York state health department is investigating the circumstances, and the New York City medical examiner said tests to determine the cause of death were inconclusive.

Her publicist said that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to God's Love, We Deliver; Guide Dogs for the Blind; or Our House.

Associated Press writer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report.          

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In her delicious screen debut - THE CRUSH - flash-in-the-pan Alicia Silverstone proves that as an actress she was always 'Clueless.'

The Crush a 1993 gigglefest about a teen psycho-nymphet who makes life a living hell for the twice-her-age writer who's renting out her parents' guest house, is a fabulous Bad Movie gem. Alicia Silverstone plays this Lolita-ish minx -- think Poison Ivy in a Wonderbra -- who one second is displaying herself nude to renter Cary Elwes and the next is trying to murder his photographer girlfriend, Jennifer Rubin, by shoving swarms of buzzing wasps into a darkroom's ventilation system. We'd guess that Silverstone, who rapidly exhausts her repertoire of three expressions (coy, steamy, wacko), honed her acting licks studying the oeuvre of Cybill Shepherd. When she chirps lines at Rubin like, "Don"t worry, Amy, some guys really like girls with small breasts," we can only hope for Silverstone's sake that some guys like girls with teensy talent. And we'd guess that Elwes, who rapidly exhausts his repertoire of one expression (self-enchanted), honed his acting licks by studying the oeuvre of Ryan O'Neal. Just like O'Neal in What's Up, Doc? -- but that movie was intended as a comedy -- Elwes hopes to pass himself off as an intellectual by donning specs. Indeed, when Silverstone finds him chomping on a cigar while writing, he explains, preposterously, "Helps me think."

But it's in its crackpot plotting and kamikaze ripoffs of other moviemakers that The Crush attains Bad Movie nirvana. When Elwes can't hack a Pique magazine assignment about a Michael Milkenesque arbitrager, 14-year-old Silverstone secretly rewrites his story so brilliantly that it becomes a career-maker for him. Later, explaining her actions, Silverstone -- who sounds to us like she's learned every word of her dialogue phonetically--says, "Your split infinitives put such stress on the adverbs."

For plot reasons, Elwes's character just up and becomes stupid, which the actor does manage to convey. Long after Silverstone has etched "c-cksucker" onto the hood of his car, made a room into a candle-lit shrine to him and phoned him to say, "Guess what? Got my period. Definitely not pregnant," you'll be screaming aloud, "Ever think of moving, Cary?" Of course, if he did, we wouldn't get to savor such prize moments as Silverstone cooing, "Ever do a virgin?" Or the scene in which the heroine's rich daddy, wielding a pair of pliers, tells Elwes what he plans to do to the horny guys his little girl will soon attract: "Some friggin' kid'll be standin' there with his hard-on stickin' out of his pants," he says. "Hope I don't go breakin' it off!" By the time Silverstone gets around to the most implausible plot twist of all--she accuses Elwes of raping her and people actually believe her -- you'll be breaking in half with hilarity.

With two stars incapable of having a crush on anyone but their mirrors, we're afraid that writer-director Alan Shapiro's crush on Alfred Hitchcock is the only crush on display: Silverstone freaks out in full riding gear, like Tippi Hedren in Marnie; when Rubin fights off those wasps, it's shot like the finale of The Birds; then, falling, she grabs a curtain, like Janet Leigh in the Psycho shower. In the absurd climax, Elwes fights for his life on a twirling carousel straight out of Strangers on a Train, only this one's in an attic (don't ask).
Our favorite moment, though, is an original. Elwes, disturbed from his sleep by chopping noises and angry screams, investigates to find a sweaty, crazily wide-eyed Silverstone hacking away at lemons. He asks what she's doing and she hisses, "Making lemonade. Want some?"

Take it from your Auntie Helen, when you're ready for a long cool drink of laughter, catch The Crush.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ABC's new fall series GALAVANT is coming soon - Here's a link to a delicious video preview from Playbill

It has been called (by some people) a cross between Mel Brooks' ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS and Fox's GLEE. (Oh dear, God, let's hope not!) We are crossing our fingers and praying for humor more subtle with a slight nod to Monty Python (THE PRINCESS BRIDE perhaps) and of course the usual fine musical work from Alan (The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast) Menken. With all of that in mind - here is a link to ABC's extended video preview of the upcoming fall series GALAVANT:


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DELICIOUS remembers Hollywood and Broadway Legend LAUREN BACALL (1924 - 2014)

Lauren Bacall Dies at 89; in a Bygone Hollywood, She Purred Every Word

Lauren Bacall, the actress whose provocative glamour elevated her to stardom in Hollywood’s golden age and whose lasting mystique put her on a plateau in American culture that few stars reach, died on Tuesday in New York. She was 89.
Her death was confirmed by her son Stephen Bogart. “Her life speaks for itself,” Mr. Bogart said. “She lived a wonderful life, a magical life.”
With an insinuating pose and a seductive, throaty voice — her simplest remark sounded like a jungle mating call, one critic said — Ms. Bacall shot to fame in 1944 with her first movie, Howard Hawks’s adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway novel “To Have and Have Not,” playing opposite Humphrey Bogart, who became her lover on the set and later her husband.
It was a smashing debut sealed with a handful of lines now engraved in Hollywood history.
“You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve,” her character says to Bogart’s in the movie’s most memorable scene. “You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
The film was the first of more than 40 for Ms. Bacall, among them “The Big Sleep” and “Key Largo” with Bogart, “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, “Designing Woman” with Gregory Peck, the all-star “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974) and, later in her career, Lars von Trier’s “Dogville” (2003) and “Manderlay” (2005) and Robert Altman’s “Prêt-à-Porter” (1994).
But few if any of her movies had the impact of her first — or of that one scene. Indeed, her film career was a story of ups, downs and long periods of inactivity. Though she received an honorary Academy Award in 2009 “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures,” she was not nominated for an Oscar until 1997.
The theater was kinder to her. She won Tonys for her starring roles in two musicals adapted from classic films: “Applause” (1970), based on “All About Eve,” and “Woman of the Year” (1981), based on the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn movie of the same name. Earlier she starred on Broadway in the comedies “Goodbye, Charlie” (1959) and “Cactus Flower” (1965).
She also won a National Book Award in 1980 for the first of her two autobiographies, “Lauren Bacall: By Myself.”
Though often called a legend, she did not care for the word. “It’s a title and category I am less than fond of,” she wrote in 1994 in “Now,” her second autobiography. “Aren’t legends dead?”
Forever Tied to Bogart
She also expressed impatience, especially in her later years, with the public’s continuing fascination with her romance with Bogart, even though she frequently said that their 12-year marriage was the happiest period of her life.
“I think I’ve damn well earned the right to be judged on my own,” she said in a 1970 interview with The New York Times. “It’s time I was allowed a life of my own, to be judged and thought of as a person, as me.”
Years later, however, she seemed resigned to being forever tied to Bogart and expressed annoyance that her later marriage to another leading actor, Jason Robards Jr., was often overlooked.
“My obit is going to be full of Bogart, I’m sure,” she told Vanity Fair magazine in a profile of her in March 2011, adding: “I’ll never know if that’s true. If that’s the way, that’s the way it is.”
Ms. Bacall was an 18-year-old model in New York when her face on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar caught the eye of Slim Hawks, Howard Hawks’s wife. Brought to Hollywood and taken under the Hawkses’ wing, she won the role in “To Have and Have Not,” loosely based on the novel of the same name.
She played Marie Browning, known as Slim, an American femme fatale who becomes romantically involved with Bogart’s jaded fishing-boat captain, Harry Morgan, known as Steve, in wartime Martinique. Her deep voice and the seductive way she looked at Bogart in the film attracted attention.
Their on-screen chemistry hadn’t come naturally, however. In one of the first scenes she filmed, she asked if anyone had a match. Bogart threw her a box of matches; she lit her cigarette and then threw the box back to him.
“My hand was shaking, my head was shaking, the cigarette was shaking, I was mortified,” she wrote in “By Myself.” “The harder I tried to stop, the more I shook. ... I realized that one way to hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin low, almost to my chest, and eyes up at Bogart. It worked and turned out to be the beginning of The Look.”
Ms. Bacall’s naturally low voice was further deepened in her early months in Hollywood. Hawks wanted her voice to remain low even during emotional scenes and suggested she find some quiet spot and read aloud. She drove to Mulholland Drive and began reading “The Robe,” making her voice lower and louder than usual.
“Who sat on mountaintops in cars reading books aloud to the canyons?” she later wrote. “I did.”
During her romance with Bogart, she asked him if it mattered to him that she was Jewish. His answer, she later wrote, was “Hell, no — what mattered to him was me, how I thought, how I felt, what kind of person I was, not my religion, he couldn’t care less — why did I even ask?”
An Impulsive Kiss
Ms. Bacall’s love affair with Bogart began with an impulsive kiss. While filming “To Have and Have Not,” he had stopped at her trailer to say good night when he suddenly leaned over, lifted her chin and kissed her. He was 25 years her senior and married at the time to Mayo Methot, his third wife, but to Ms. Bacall, “he was the man who meant everything in the world to me; I couldn’t believe my luck.”
As her fame grew in the ensuing months — she attracted wide publicity in February 1945 when she was photographed on top of a piano, legs draped over the side, with Vice President Harry S. Truman at the keyboard — so did the romance, particularly as she and Bogart filmed “The Big Sleep,” based on a Raymond Chandler whodunit.
But her happiness alternated with despair. Bogart returned to his wife several times before he accepted that the marriage could not be saved. He and Ms. Bacall were married on May 21, 1945, at Malabar Farm in Lucas, Ohio, the home of Bogart’s close friend the writer Louis Bromfield. Bogart was 45; Ms. Bacall was 20.
Returning to work, she soon suffered a setback, when the critics savaged her performance in “Confidential Agent,” a 1945 thriller with Charles Boyer set during the Spanish Civil War. The director was Herman Shumlin, who, unlike Hawks and Bogart on her first two movies, offered her no guidance. “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” she recalled. “I was a novice.”
“After ‘Confidential Agent,’ it took me years to prove that I was capable of doing anything at all worthwhile,” she wrote. “I would never reach the ‘To Have and Have Not’ heights again — on film, anyway — and it would take much clawing and scratching to pull myself even halfway back up that damn ladder.”
“Dark Passage,” her third movie with Bogart, came after several years of concentrating on her marriage. Had she not married Bogart, she told The Times in 1996, her career would probably have flourished, but she did not regret the marriage.
“I would not have had a better life, but a better career,” she said. “Howard Hawks was like a Svengali; he was molding me the way he wanted. I was his creation, and I would have had a great career had he been in control of it. But the minute Bogie was around, Hawks knew he couldn’t control me, so he sold my contract to Warner Bros. And that was the end.”
She was eventually suspended 12 times by the studio for rejecting scripts.
‘And We Made a Noise’
In 1947, as the House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Americans suspected of Communism, Ms. Bacall and Bogart were among 500 Hollywood personalities to sign a petition protesting what they called the committee’s attempt “to smear the motion picture industry.” Investigating individual political beliefs, the petition said, violated the basic principles of American democracy.

The couple flew to Washington as part of a group known as the Committee for the First Amendment, which also included Danny Kaye, John Garfield, Gene Kelly, John Huston, Ira Gershwin and Jane Wyatt. “I am an outraged and angry citizen who feels that my basic civil liberties are being taken away from me,” Bogart said in a statement.
Three decades later, Ms. Bacall would express doubts about “whether the trip to Washington ultimately helped anyone.” But, she added: “It helped those of us at the time who wanted to fight for what we thought was right and against what we knew was wrong. And we made a noise — in Hollywood, a community which should be courageous but which is surprisingly timid and easily intimidated.”
Nevertheless, bowing to studio pressure, Bogart later said publicly he believed the trip to Washington was “ill advised,” and Ms. Bacall went along with him.
A year after that trip she had what she termed “one of my happiest movie experiences” starring with Bogart, Lionel Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson and Claire Trevor in John Huston’s thriller “Key Largo.” It was Bogart’s and Ms. Bacall’s last film together. “Young Man With a Horn” (1950), with Kirk Douglas and Doris Day, in which she played a student married to a jazz trumpeter, was less successful.
Ms. Bacall’s first son, Stephen H. Bogart (named after Bogart’s character in “To Have and Have Not”), was born in 1949. A daughter, Leslie Bogart (named after the actor Leslie Howard), was born in 1952. In a 1995 memoir, Stephen wrote, “My mother was a lapsed Jew, and my father was a lapsed Episcopalian,” adding that he and his sister, Leslie, were raised Episcopalian “because my mother felt that would make life easier for Leslie and me during those post-World War II years.”
Rat Pack Den Mother
Ms. Bacall, however, wrote that she felt “totally Jewish and always would” and that it was Bogart who thought the children should be christened in an Episcopal church because “with discrimination still rampant in the world, it would give them one less hurdle to jump in life’s Olympics.”
She was, she said, happy being a wife and mother. She was also “den mother” to the so-called Hollywood Rat Pack, whose members included Bogart, Frank Sinatra, David Niven, Judy Garland and others. (It would evolve into the better-known Rat Pack whose members included Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.)
In 1952 she campaigned for Adlai E. Stevenson, the Democratic candidate for president, and persuaded Bogart, who had originally supported the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, to join her. The two accompanied Stevenson on motorcades and flew east to help in the final lap of his campaign in New York and Chicago.
Her film career at this point appeared to be going nowhere, but she had no intention of allowing Lauren Bacall the actress to slide into oblivion. In 1953 her fortunes revived with what she called “the best part I’d had in years,” in “How to Marry a Millionaire,” playing alongside Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable as New York models with sights set on finding rich husbands.
In the early 1950s the Bogarts dabbled in radio and the growing medium of television. They starred in the radio adventure series “Bold Venture” and, with Henry Fonda, in a live television version of “The Petrified Forest,” the 1936 film that starred Bogart, Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. In 1956 Ms. Bacall appeared in a television production of Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” in which Coward himself also starred. She would occasionally return to the small screen for the rest of her career, making guest appearances on shows like “The Rockford Files” and “Chicago Hope” and starring in TV movies.
Bogart was found to have cancer of the esophagus in 1956. Although an operation was successful — his esophagus and two lymph nodes were removed — after some months the cancer returned. He died in January 1957 at the age of 57.
Romance With Sinatra
Shortly after Bogart’s death, Ms. Bacall, by then 32, had a widely publicized but brief romance with Sinatra, who had been a close friend of the Bogarts. She moved to New York in 1958 and, three years later, married Mr. Robards, settling in a spacious apartment in the Dakota, on Central Park West, where she continued to live until her death. They had a son, the actor Sam Robards, and were divorced in 1969. She is survived by her sons, Stephen Bogart and Sam Robards; her daughter, Leslie Bogart; and six grandchildren.
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske in Brooklyn on Sept. 16, 1924, the daughter of William and Natalie Perske, Jewish immigrants from Poland and Romania. Her parents were divorced when she was 6 years old, and her mother moved to Manhattan and adopted the second half of her maiden name, Weinstein-Bacal.
“I didn’t really have any love in my growing-up life, except for my mother and grandmother,” Ms. Bacall said in the Vanity Fair interview. Her father, she said, “did not treat my mother well.”
From then until her move to Hollywood, Ms. Bacall was known as Betty Bacal; she added an “l” to her name because, she said, the single “l” caused “too much irregularity of pronunciation.” The name Lauren was given her by Howard Hawks before the release of her first film, but family and old friends called her Betty throughout her life, and to Bogart she was always Baby.
Although finances were a problem as she was growing up — “Nothing came easy, everything was worked for” — her mother’s family was close-knit, and through an uncle’s generosity she attended the Highland Manor school for girls in Tarrytown, N.Y., where she graduated from grade school at 11. She went on to Julia Richman High School in Manhattan and also studied acting at the New York School of the Theater and ballet with Mikhail Mordkin, who had on occasion been Pavlova’s partner.
After graduation in 1940, Ms. Bacall became a full-time student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts but left after the first year; her family could no longer subsidize her, and the academy at the time did not offer scholarships to women.
So she turned to modeling, and in 1941, at 16, she landed jobs with David Crystal, a Seventh Avenue dress manufacturer, and Sam Friedlander, who made evening gowns. During lunch hours she would stand outside Sardi’s selling copies of Actor’s Cue, a casting tip sheet, hoping to catch the attention of producers. She also became an usher at Broadway theaters and a hostess at the newly opened Stage Door Canteen.
Her first theater role was a walk-on in a Broadway play called “Johnny 2 x 4.” It paid $15 a week and closed in eight weeks, but she looked back on the experience as “magical.” Another stab at modeling, with the Walter Thornton agency, proved disappointing, but her morale soared in July 1942, with a sentence by George Jean Nathan in Esquire: “The prettiest theater usher — the tall slender blonde in the St. James Theater right aisle, during the Gilbert & Sullivan engagement — by general rapt agreement among the critics, but the bums are too dignified to admit it.”
Watching ‘Casablanca’
Later that year she was cast by the producer Max Gordon in “Franklin Street,” a comedy directed by George S. Kaufman, which closed out of town. It was her last time onstage for 17 years.
It was about this time that she saw Bogart in “Casablanca.” She later recalled that she could not understand the reaction of a friend who was “mad” about him. “So much for my judgment at that time,” she said.
In 1942, she met Nicolas de Gunzburg, an editor at Harper’s Bazaar, who took her to meet Diana Vreeland, the fashion editor. After a thorough inspection, Vreeland asked her to return the next day to meet the photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Test shots were taken, and a few days later she was called.
A full-page color picture of her standing in front of a window with the words “American Red Cross Blood Donor Service” on it led to inquiries from David O. Selznick, Howard Hughes and Howard Hawks, among others. The Hawks offer was accepted, and Betty Bacall, 18 years old, left for the West Coast by train with her mother. She returned to New York less than two years later as Lauren Bacall, star.
In her 70s, Ms. Bacall began lending her distinctive voice to television commercials and cartoons, and her movie career again picked up steam. Between 1995 and 2012 she was featured in more than a dozen pictures, most notably “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996), in which she played Barbra Streisand’s monstrous, vain mother.
The role brought her an Academy Award nomination as best supporting actress; the smart money was on her to win. But the Oscar went to Juliette Binoche for her part in “The English Patient,” to the astonishment of almost everyone, including Ms. Binoche.
Ms. Bacall — who received a consolation prize of sorts when she was named a Kennedy Center Honors winner a few months later — was perhaps prepared for the Oscar rebuff. Shortly before the Academy Awards ceremony, she told an interviewer that she hadn’t been happy for years. “Contented, yes; pleased and proud, yes. But happy, no.”
Still, she said, she had been lucky: “I had one great marriage, I have three great children and four grandchildren. I am still alive. I still can function. I still can work.”
As she said in 1996: “You just learn to cope with whatever you have to cope with. I spent my childhood in New York, riding on subways and buses. And you know what you learn if you’re a New Yorker? The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing.”

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