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By Eddy Friedfeld
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The answer to why there were so many Jews in Broadway musicals may not be as glibly succinct, but in Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, which debuts on PBS on January 1 at 9:30 p.m., the answers are insightful and amazingly entertaining.
Written, produced and directed by Emmy-Award Winner Michael Kantor (Broadway- The American Musical and Make ‘Em Laugh- The Funny Business of America), the 90 minute documentary tries to answer the question of why the Broadway musical proven to be such fertile territory for Jewish artists of all kind, featuring icons from Broadway’s golden age, including Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
The goodies just keep piling up—for gift-giving or adding to your own library. I was delighted to contribute an essay about Mel Brooks’ career to Shout! Factory’s multi-disc set The Incredible Mel Brooks, but there is so much material in this collection I still haven’t gotten through it all. That’s Ok with me because I can’t get enough of Brooks, and he ties the myriad video clips, documentaries, and retrospectives together in his inimitable fashion. The lengthy piece about his early career with Sid Caesar is worth the price of admission alone, but there’s much, much more, from an unsold TV pilot to his Oscar-winning animated short The Critic. Mel...
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- Leonard Maltin
Mel Brooks is one of the great comedy minds of the 20th century. He was part of the greatest comedy writing staff ever assembled — at various points, it included Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon and Woody Allen, among many others — for Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour." He and fellow Caesar alum Carl Reiner gave the world the 2000-Year-Old Man, and later he and Buck Henry created the classic James Bond spoof "Get Smart." And that's all before he went into the movie business and gave us "The Producers," "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein" and all »
- Alan Sepinwall
At 86 years old, Mel Brooks easily has more energy than the average man half his age. In support of his new Shout Factory! box set The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy, the Hollywood Egot legend (a member of the highly exclusive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winner's club) enthusiastically regaled stories of his career to me for 45 minutes until his staff gave him the hook.
Out of the gate, Mel told me on the phone, "David, you're going to have to suffer. You're gonna suffer me eating a cinnamon-raison bagel as we talk." But before I could say another word, he turned the tables and asked me a barrage of questions about my life and career. The man wanted to know who he was talking to. He wanted to be able to relate, and ended with, "So this is good. You write for Entertainment Tonight -- the blogs, the web, the »
Though it’s popular to say women aren’t as funny as men even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Eliza Coupe), that doesn’t erase the legacy of female comedians who bolstered TV sitcoms through the ages. Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball were stalwarts of comedy in their own days, and of them Ball might just be the queen of comediennes for all her films and television series, most of which remain beloved by fans of classic TV. A different animal than I Love Lucy and Here’s Lucy, The Lucy Show had a simple premise that made it easily adaptable for guests like Robert Goulet, Frankie Avalon, Milton Perle, Jack Benny, Sid Caesar and other showbiz greats to come on and have a laugh, often at their own expense. The sixth and final season takes full advantage of this, »
- Lex Walker
Olivia Newton-John celebrates her 64th birthday today -- and to mark the occasion, we're taking a look back at one of the best movie musicals ever: "Grease."Hard to believe Olivia was actually 29 when she played teenager Sandy Olsson in the flick, which came out 34 years ago this summer!The movie helped shoot both Olivia and John Travolta to super stardom, expanding Travolta's film career after the success of 1977's "Saturday Night Fever."The two tried to recapture the magic in 1983's "Two of a Kind," but it just wasn't the same and the movie was a critical and financial failure.With its great performances, killer song and dance routines and '50s flair, the movie is one of a kind. So what happened to the rest of the cast in the 34 years since its release? Check out the gallery above to see the stars' successes and tragedies.Thanks to »
- tooFab Staff
Zany Us comedian with a wise-cracking line in self-mockery
Phyllis Diller, who has died aged 95, was a raucous, zany comedian, with a special line in self-deprecation bordering on flat-out self-mockery. In old age she described herself as a sex symbol for men who don't give a damn, and she treasured Bob Hope's remark that she was so ugly that a peeping Tom once threw up on her windowsill.
She patented this frank, outspoken line in female bodily imperfections well ahead of Joan Rivers but, unlike Rivers, who appeared on stage without props or wacky wigs, more or less as herself, with Diller it was all an act. She created a comic persona – wild hair, flailing cigarette holder, splayed feet, absurd costume, loud, cackling laugh – when in fact she was a housewife from Ohio.
Although she made dozens of movies, including three in the 1960s with Bob Hope (who also »
- Michael Coveney
Dick Van Dyke, beloved actor, singer, dancer, writer and comedian, will receive SAG-AFTRA.s highest honor . the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Van Dyke will be presented the performers union.s most prestigious accolade, given annually to an actor who fosters the .finest ideals of the acting profession,. at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, which premieres live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, at 8 p.m. Et, 7 p.m. Ct, 6 p.m. Mt and 5 p.m. Pt.
In making today.s announcement, SAG-AFTRA Co-President Ken Howard said, .Dick is the consummate entertainer — an enormously talented performer whose work has crossed nearly every major category of entertainment. From his career-changing Broadway turn in ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and his deadpan humor in the Emmy® winning ‘Dick Van Dyke Show,’ to his unforgettable performance as Bert in ‘Mary Poppins,. he sets a high bar for actors. »
- Michelle McCue
On these warm summer days, what better way to escape the heat than with a visit to a movie theater. Sure, you can catch one of the many new films, but instead why not revisit or introduce yourself to a classic. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is running a 70mm series of films beginning Monday in Beverly Hills. It kicks off the inaugural event with the uproarious It’S A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I agree, it’s usually one that we all watch during the holidays but if you’re fortunate enough to see it on the big screen then you need to make a trip to The Academy.
This week I had the chance to speak with the wife of the film’s late director Stanley Kramer over the phone where she nostalgically talked about one of the funniest comedies in film history. Mrs. »
- Michelle McCue
The Los Angeles Times noted the passing of Andy Griffth with an interesting look at how television’s pioneers are fading into history: With Andy Griffith's passing, America loses one of its last living links to the early days of television. "This is a big one," pop culture expert Robert J. Thompson said. "Andy Griffith was just one person. But he's symbolic of that era. With his death, the early days of television have receded into history and the stuff of museums, and directors' commentary on DVD." To be sure, there are a few icons left who can speak about the start of traditional commercial network programming back in 1948, such as Dick Van Dyke and Sid Caesar. "But that generation has pretty much disappeared now," said Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. "If you want to learn about that time, you »
- MaryAnn Johanson
For moviegoers growing up in the last 20-30 years, big is the new normal. I’m talking about those big-budget, over-produced, effects/action-packed extravaganzas that are as expected and routine an arrival as a commuter bus, and never more so than during the summer months. Come a rise in temperatures, there’s an almost ceaseless parade of these megabuck behemoths through multiplexes starting in May and continuing until the kids go back to school, one rolling out almost every week.
Consider these May-August releases and their eye-popping price tags:
5/4: Marvel’s The Avengers — $220 million
5/11: Dark Shadows — $150 million
5/18: Battleship — $209 million
5/25: Men in Black 3 — $250 million
6/8: Prometheus — $120-130 million
7/3: The Amazing Spider-Man — $220 million
7/20: The Dark Knight Rises — $250 million
7/31: Total Recall — $200 million
8/5: The Expendables 2 — $100 million
For those of you who haven’t been keeping count, that’s a little over $1.7 billion in productions »
- Bill Mesce
A Planet Fury-approved selection of notable genre releases for June.
Harold and Maude (1972) Criterion Blu-ray and DVD Available Now
Forty years later, this 1972 Hal Ashby cult favorite remains a lovably eccentric meditation on life. The romance between a death-obsessed youth (an adorable Bud Cort) and a vivacious geriatric (the mythic Ruth Gordon) is still as beguiling and heartfelt as it was upon its original release. Written by Colin Higgins (9 to 5, Foul Play) and featuring an iconic soundtrack with several Cat Stevens hits, this is a must-have release for cult film buffs.
The much-anticipated Criterion release features:
A new high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack, optional remastered stereo soundtrack, audio commentary by Hal Ashby, Nick Dawson and Charles B. Mulvehill, illustrated audio excerpts of seminars by Ashby and Colin Higgins, new interview with songwriter Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), plus a booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Wood and more! »
- Bradley Harding
Well, the dog days of summer are fast approaching, and what better way to duck out of the heat than by spending a cool day inside, AC-blasting, with your Blu-ray player and an endless supply of chilled adult beverages. June sees the release of an Alfred Hitchcock classic (beautifully restored), a trio of Lina Wertmüller gems, a nearly lost Michael Curtiz effort, a movie about the sex lives of ghosts, and a plane crash survival tale sold on the, er, ample merits of its female lead.
“The 39 Steps” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)
Why You Should Care: Because “The 39 Steps,” a crackling (86 minutes!) spy thriller from Alfred Hitchcock, is one of the most beloved British movies of all time, coming in at fourth place in the British Film Institute’s poll of top British films, and more recently, named the 21st greatest British film of all time by movie magazine Total Film. The film, »
- Drew Taylor
The American Film Institute announced it will confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon American comedy icon Mel Brooks and celebrated surrealist David Lynch for “contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image” during AFI Conservatory commencement 2012 at Hollywood’s landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Both artists worked together on the Academy Award winning The Elephant Man (1980), with Lynch as director and screenwriter and Brooks as executive producer. The AFI Conservatory . named the #1 film school in the world by The Hollywood Reporter . is renowned for its collaborative approach to hands-on filmmaking and its advanced training of the next generation of storytellers in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Previous recipients of the AFI Honorary Degree include Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, James Earl Jones,Nora Ephron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Haskell Wexler and John Williams. »
- Michelle McCue
America's Danny DeVito and Britain's Richard Griffiths join forces in this joyous revival of Neil Simon's 1972 comedy about a pair of superannuated vaudevillians. But what makes the play profoundly touching as well as funny is Simon's understanding of the obduracy, childishness and professional neglect that are often inseparable from old age.
The play has echoes of Simon's greatest hit, The Odd Couple. This play is also about two men in a quasi-marital relationship. For 43 years Willie Clark and Al Lewis were a headline double-act but, after a decade in non-speaking retirement, they are to be reunited for a CBS comedy special. But Willie is a cantankerous old cuss who loathes his ex-partner because of his decision to quit the business. Al, meanwhile, is a gentler soul who lives with his daughterin New Jersey and wonders why he should go through an old routine with the waspishly vindictive Willie. »
- Michael Billington
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" triumphed at the 26th Genesis Awards. The fantastic prequel took home the Outstanding Feature Film of the year "for its examination of the ethics of using chimpanzees in medical research."
"Born to Be Wild 3D" won the Feature Documentary prize for celebrating the folks behind the rehabilitation of baby elephants and orangutans orphaned by poaching. (Check out my fun interviews with narrator Morgan Freeman and the rest of the heroes behind "Born to Be Wild" right here)
Here's the complete list of winners of the 26th Genesis Awards (The event will be shown as a one-hour special on Animal Planet on May 5):
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Twentieth Century Fox »
Los Angeles, (March 25, 2012) — Rise of the Planet of the Apes triumphed, The Colbert Report’s satire hit the right comedic note, and Ellen DeGeneres outshone her talk show rivals to be among the 22 major wins at The Humane Society of the United States’ 26th Genesis Awards. Honoring the news and entertainment media for raising public awareness of animal issues, this year’s awards were presented at a gala ceremony on Saturday, March 24, at The Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, Calif. The event will premiere as a one-hour special on Animal Planet on May 5, with an encore presentation May 6. The 26th Genesis Awards Winners Feature Film Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Twentieth Century Fox/ Chernin Entertainment Feature Documentary Born To Be Wild 3D Warner Bros. Pictures, IMAX Corporation Sid Caesar Comedy Award The Colbert Report – Comedy Central Dramatic Series Hawaii Five-0 – “Lapa’au” – CBS Children’S Programming Teen Nick News »
- THE DEADLINE TEAM
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" took top film honors at the Genesis Awards for examining the ethics of using chimpanzees in medical research. The awards, which honor news and entertainment media for raising public awareness of animal issues, were held Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. The event will be presented as a one-hour special on Animal Planet on May 5. Also read: 'War Horse," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Nominated for Genesis Awards The Sid Caesar Comedy Award went to "The Colbert Report" for »
- Todd Cunningham
The hottest nonagenarian in Hollywood, Betty White is going to be honored by taking the hot seat at the Friars' Club annual celebrity roast on May 16.
White says of the honor, "Those Friars may think I'm an easy mark but I have 90 years of comebacks waiting for them. This is such an honor to be roasted by the Friars Club. It will be an afternoon filled with dirty words, risqué jokes & sex talk.....and that's just what I plan on saying. I have no clue what the comedians will talk about."
Betty joins the long line of comedians and actors who have been roasted by the Friars' Club, including Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, Sid Caesar, Phyllis Diller, Richard Prior, Jerry Stiller, The Smothers Brothers and Quentin Tarantino.
These roasts are not to be confused with the Comedy Central roasts. The cable channel broadcasted the Friars' Club roasts from 1998 to 2002, but »
February 28 usually ties off our grim second month, but this year we suffer one more day in February's bleak tundra. Let's warm up with some tidbits about DNA, basketball, the master of '50s musicals, and the singer-songwriter who has one hand in her pocket, and the other on, oh, probably a Buddhist urn right now.
1883: The first vaudeville theater opens in Boston, Massachusetts. Over 120 years later, we're still talking about the overwhelmingly popular concept of blackface. Sigh. We even use the word "blackface" to describe things that don't qualify as blackface, like Billy Crystal's impersonation of Sammy Davis, Jr. at the Oscars. Not blackface. It may be in poor or weird taste, but it's not a minstrel show. Now, that crazy crap that Roger Sterling tried out on Mad Men? That's blackface. Ohhhh, yes it is. Always nice when Don Draper gets to tell someone else, "You're a mess. »
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