Entries from May 2008 ↓

Glad we had this time together

Another icon of the baby boomer generation, television comedian Harvey Korman, died Thursday. He was 81.

Perhaps best known for his outrageously funny contributions to The Carol Burnett Show, where he earned four Emmys, he also co-starred in Mel Brooks’ film Blazing Saddles.” Korman died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago. He had undergone several major operations.

In 1967, he joined the cast in the first season of The Carol Burnett Show and along with Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner, the ensemble built a solid audience with their regular send-ups of classic movies such as “Gone With the Wind” and soap operas like “As the World Turns” (their version was called “As the Stomach Turns”).

According to an assistant, Burnett was devastated by news of Korman’s death.

His most memorable film role was as the outlandish Hedley Lamarr (who was endlessly exasperated when people called him Hedy) in Brooks’ 1974 Western satire, Blazing Saddles.

“A world without Harvey Korman — it’s a more serious world,” Brooks told the AP on Thursday. “It was very dangerous for me to work with him because if our eyes met we’d crash to floor in comic ecstasy. It was comedy heaven to make Harvey Korman laugh.”

The ability to make Korman laugh was what made for some of the funniest and most memorable moments on the Burnett show. Co-star Tim Conway in particular always seemed to have a knack for getting him to break up, as in The Dentist sketch, seen here.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also note the passing this past week of other show business notables.

Director, producer and actor Sydney Pollack, died Monday at age 73.

Jazz and blues organist, Jimmy McGriff, passed away of multiple sclerosis last Saturday at age 72.

Finally one of the most prolific composers of music for television programming, Earle Hagen, died Monday at 88. He wrote the themes for countless popular shows, including The Andy Griffith Show, That Girl, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and I Spy.

More of the same

Four more years

First King grandchild is born

The first grandchild of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Yolanda Reneé King, was born Sunday morning in Atlanta. The daughter of Martin Luther King III and wife Arndrea Waters King, she weighed in at 7 pounds 5 ounces. Mother and daughter are reportedly doing fine.

Martin III and wife, Arndrea, didn’t announce the pregnancy, or their marriage, until this past winter. They were married two years ago in Santa Barbara, CA but live in Atlanta.

Baby Yolanda takes her name from her father’s older sister, Yolanda Denise King, who died in 2007.

Martin Luther King III described his new baby girl as a “precious gift from God.”

“It is truly the happiest day of our lives,” he said in a statement released Sunday. “I know my parents are smiling down from heaven.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Coretta Scott King died in 2006.

A Comic’s Life

Comedian Dick Martin, one half of the popular late-1960’s television comedy show “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, has died. He was 86.

To baby boomers, Laugh-In was a marked departure from the staid variety shows favored by our parents. It was a run and shoot offensive assault of gags, one-liners and short skits with a young cast and a counter-culture bent that appealed to younger audiences, changed the television landscape and gave rise to later shows like Saturday Night Live.

Martin, the funny man, and his straight man sidekick Dan Rowan were ringmasters of the circus, that aired on NBC for four seasons. Following the show’s cancellation, Martin began a 30 year career as a director of television sitcoms, including two of friend Bob Newhart’s series.

TMI

Anyone who has had a blog for any length of time will identify with Emily Gould’s essay Exposed, in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Gould is a blogger, former Gawker.com staffer and writer, who shares some of the pitfalls of a life lived publicly on the internet. While it is her story, it is far from unique.

We live in really interesting times. The internet has shortened the time it takes for news and information to circulate. I typically learn about things first via email or someone’s blog and sometimes hours later via mainstream media. We’ve got at our disposal email, listservs, websites, blogs, social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, viewer produced content sites like YouTube and even XTube, to communicate with others, form networks of friends and associates or create our online persona.

The downside, as Gould’s story illustrates, is that many of us put too much personal information online and everything we put online is permanent. People you don’t even know are now privy to your innermost thoughts or your home movies. Almost all of us can be Googled. A year ago, when I was actively job hunting, I checked my blog stat tracker and noticed a visitor from one of the places where I had applied. We just never know who’s out there reading

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My favorite television series, The Wire, may have concluded its five season run here in the U.S., but season five hasn’t aired yet across the pond in the U.K. (British visitors to this site are advised not to read my old posts on the subject or you’ll find out how it ends.)

English fans of the series are just now getting introduced to some of the actors. The Guardian newspaper has a print and audio interview with actors Felicia “Snoop” Pearson and Jamie Hector, the characters “Snoop Pearson” and “Marlo Stanfield.” It must be strange to still do interviews about characters they stopped playing months ago but also disheartening to know they may never see roles that juicey again.

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Last Wednesday I attended a staged reading for a new play still in development, by an exciting young playwright I first told you about months ago. Katori Hall, who wrote Hoodoo Love, is working on a project now titled, The Mountaintop. The story is set on April 3, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and involves a conversation between Dr. Martin Luther King and a motel housekeeper with special insight into the future.

Hall has an excellent gift for the English language and an engaging and insightful way with her storytelling. This particular story is unusually daring, for her use of real people in fictionalized events and her connection of King’s dream to present-day reality. The staged reading was done through the Lark Theatre Playwright’s Workshop. No word on when or if a full production will be staged.