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Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

     So I’m back to blogging. Not as often as I used to, but at least I’m back. Stuff that prevents me from tapping away on WordPress is stuff like…work.

     Last week I got to interview Monte M. Moore, an illustrator who specializes in sci-fi and fantasy, gaming, pin-up Monte M. Mooreand entertainment illustration. As a commercial illustrator, he is an officially licensed Star Wars artist for Lucasfilm Ltd., Sony Online, Playboy, Topps Cards, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and more. He’s a cool guy, easy to talk to, and it’s always motivating to meet somebody who is actually making a living at their art. He’s also done some awesome paint jobs on custom motorcycles and won lots of awards. You can check out my article and the cool bike Bombshell here, if you’re so inclined. You can also check out Monte’s work at his own website, Maverick Arts, by clicking on Luke and Princess Lea.

 Thursdays are just sick now that Survivor is back and Heroes vs.Survivor Villains! I’ve missed these people I call “my old friends” and can’t contain my crazy excitement at seeing them, while Buck sits back and tells me to stop yelling before the neighbors think he’s killing me. Because yes! During last week’s premier I was screaming and shouting at the TV like there was a  hockey game going on. The problem is I’m torn between cheering on Boston Rob, who’s on the Villain tribe, and Rupert Boneham, who’s on the Heroes tribe. Ugh. It makes me scream. On the bright side of this quandary, I have the chance to once again post a photo of me and Rupert at the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo.

     Rupert, FYI, is one of those rare people who said if they had a million dollars they’d use it to better the world…AND HE DOES! You can check out Rupert’s Kids by clicking on me and Rupert. Don’t we look happy? Doesn’t it look like we’re dancing?

    And for anyone who only comes to this blog to see Stella, here she is, Buck’s little princess. Hey, does anyone remember when the Interweb snagged Stella and Photoshopped her into a political article? That was hilarious. But here she is in real life. I took this photo last Sunday.

Stella headshot

 

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Here it is Sunday and as I think about what’s on TV tonight the first thing that comes to mind is Sunday Night = Walt Disney.

It’s been a whole lifetime since my family gathered in front of our TV  on Sunday nights to eat pizza and watch Walt Disney, but for some reason it is burned into the geography of my brain. At 48 I know that I will forever equate Sunday nights as being Disney Night, just as I will forever feel that there is a hole in the late afternoon that is supposed to be filled by Mr. Rogers.

I know Disney testified before The House Committee On Un-American Activities accusing the Screen Actors Guild of being a Communist front, and he participated in getting several of his former animators blacklisted.  I also know he’s been accused of antisemiticism, although there is little evidence proving the accusations (in fact, he had several Jewish employees in prominent positions at his studio).

But I didn’t know any of that when I was a kid, nor would I have understood it. All I knew then was that Sunday night meant Walt Disney and pizza, and when I saw this opening clip from The Wonderful World Of Disney I was suddenly 4-years-old again and it was the most exciting night of the week.

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We love Joel McHale, host of The Soup on E! He tells us everything we need to know about what’s happening on TV, which is good because we just don’t have time to watch all these shows. His review of Viva Laughlin, that “showcase” for Melanie Griffith that lasted all of two episodes before CBS felt the humiliation and yanked it off the air, is one of my favorite Joel McHale moments.  I’ll never forgive myself for missing Viva Laughlin when it was on, and I only hope CBS will release the whole series on DVD so I can get it from Netlix.

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Me: Whose party was it when Rona Barrett flipped out?

Buck: It was actually a guy … there was a big Notre Dame connection in Palm Springs, there were a lot of business men from Chicago who had more money than life. That was an eye-opener for me because I’d never thought much about Chicago. The amount of money they had was incredible.

Me: So if I’m hearing you correctly money attracts money. And lavish parties ensue.

Buck: Yeah, but the parties were never wild crazy things. Everybody in  Palm Springs was pretty low-key. They played golf together, they did skeet shooting, backgammon, everybody did whatever they had to to network. And they really networked, that was the whole reason they were there. And there was a protocol. If a party ended at a certain time, say a luncheon ended at 2 PM, everyone was gone at 2 PM, because they had another thing to go to by 3 or 4. Or if a party was from 6 to 8, everybody was gone by 8 on the nose. These parties were real gatherings and it was considered business, sort of.

Me: It was business?

Buck: Yeah, well they conducted business by being there and being social and keeping their connections. Let me put it this way: there was nobody dancing on a table top with a lampshade on their head.

Me: So they were there to touch base with each other basically?

Buck: People really talked at these things. They really networked, it was the first time I saw that. That’s where the deals were made, at these get-togethers and parties. And like I said, these parties would last two hours. At the end of two hours BANG, everybody would split. 

Me: Give me some more names of people who had parties. What about Bob Hope? Did you see him very often?

Buck: Bob once in a while, but Dolores all the time. Their house burned down. They were building a big geodesic dome and it burned down, and there was something about the Palm Springs Fire Department being late or not showing up. And after, there were lots of problems because his lawyer forgot to insure it. The burned-out shell was gigantic, and it just sat there like that for a long time.

Me: Bob Newhart?

Buck: Mr. and Mrs. Bob Newhart made the rounds. Phyllis Diller. All those Johnny Carson-Merv Griffin-Mike Douglas people. It was TV people. Like, I didn’t see Sir Laurence Olivier there. And I didn’t see Merv Griffin or Johnny Carson, actually.

Me: Mike Douglas?

Buck: No, but I saw Kirk Douglas.

Me: Red Skelton?

Buck: Yeah, he lived in Palm Springs full time. He had a huge garage with the days of the week written over it, and inside was a different Rolls Royce parked under each day of the week. He had a car for each day.

Me: Rich Little?

Buck: Yes

Me: Kaye Ballard?

Buck: Yes. 

Me: Frank Sinatra?

Buck: Frank Sinatra was not a big party guy but he did have a couple. He tipped with hundred dollar bills.

Me: Excellent. Did you get one?

Buck: Yep. He handed them out personally. It wasn’t like he patted you on the back or anything, but he was a nice guy and he personally handed each of us a hundred and thanked us.

Me: What did he smell like? Did he smell like booze?

Buck: No.

Me: What about his house? What was the kitchen like?

Buck: He had a nice house, the kitchen was big. But none of it was ostentatious. It wasn’t a mansion like you think of in Beverly Hills.  A lot of the houses were just unbelievably cool getaway houses. And most people’s houses were clearly visible from the street. A lot of people didn’t hide, like back East they all hide behind gates and everything. But in Palm Springs you could see their places. I loved the way the whole money thing was there, they looked like they were having fun spending money. Back East it was just a big old Yankee power trip, their houses were hidden and they snuck around to spend money, if they spent it at all.In Palm Springs they had cars as fashion accessories. I loved Frank Sinatra’s agent, he had identical cars at each house. In Palm Springs he had a Ferrari, a couple Rolls Royces, about eight or nine cars in the garage. And back in Beverly Hills he had the exact same cars in the exact same colors, and they took the exact same keys. He liked his cars but he didn’t want to have to drive them back and forth, so he had two sets.

Me: Oh God, I hate when people spend millions on cars. I hate when people spend millions on cars the way you hate when people spend hundreds on yarn.

Buck: I do hate expensive yarn. 

Me: Speaking of yarn, I saw a knitted motorcycle the other day. It’s at the Georgia Museum of Art.

Buck: How did you find that? 

 Me: I Googled knitted motorcycle. Imagine my complete shock when one immediately appeared.

Buck: But why? Why did you Google it?

Me: I don’t know. It just came to me. And when it immediately showed up on the screen, I knew I was meant to Google it …. So, who else did you see in Palm Springs? Did everybody travel around alone or as couples, or did they pal around and buddy up like Lucy and Totie?

Buck: Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara and John Cassavetes went around together.  

Me: I can see that. They all resembled each other at that point. Did you know that’s John Cassavetes as the husband in Rosemary’s Baby

Buck: Right.

Me: Well, for some reason I always remember it as being Roman Polanski

Buck: Roman Polanski was the director —

Me:I know but I always have to remind myself that he didn’t also star as the husband. They kind of look alike, and maybe that’s where I get confused. Although Roman is more elfin.

Buck: That new sub-group of humans.

Me: Yes! Roman is totally part of that

Elijah Wood sub-group.

Buck: How often does this Cassavetes problem come up for you?

Me: Not that often, only when they show Rosemary’s Baby on TV. So, Roman Polanski wasn’t with this crew? This 2 Live Crew?

Buck: No.

Me: Just Ben Gazzara, John Cassavetes, and Columbo.

Buck: Yeah.

Me: And nobody really misbehaved at the parties you were at? Ben Gazzara never grabbed Rona Barrett’s breast or started making out with Rula Lenska?

Buck: No.

Me: Give me something weird. Disgust me, if you can.

Buck: One time this art museum in Palm Springs was opening this Frank Sinatra sculpture wing [The Frank Sinatra Sculpture Court at the PS Art Museum] and all the trustees were together for this thing. The trustees were like Dolores Hope and all these very well-to-do wives of big stars. We had set up very fancy table settings, they were kind of valuable, it all had to be locked up and signed and accounted for because it was real silver and real copper etc. Well … somebody was stealing the creamer sets.

Me: You mean a guest? [laughing]

Buck: [laughing] Yeah! And at this thing you had to be donating at least a hundred-grand to even be on the guest list. And a hundred-grand back in the 70s is probably like a million today. And one of these women was stealing creamers and salt and pepper shakers.

Me: [laughing] Well I totally believe that. I think some people have a problem when it comes to getting what they feel is owed to them. Look at Ethel Kennedy writing bad checks at the Hallmark store —

Buck: [laughing] It wasn’t just at Hallmark, it was ALL OVER THE CAPE . If you accepted a check from Ethel Kennedy you were supposed to just tuck it away as a keepsake. Because if you tried to cash it, it would bounce.

Me: I thought there was an incident at the Hallmark —

Buck: Oh, that was in the stationary store. The girl I knew who took a check from Ethel, and Ethel’s secretary came up behind her and said, Don’t cash that, and handed her the cash to cover it.

Me: Same thing. Stationary, a few things from Talbots, sterling creamer sets. Some people are so out of touch with reality  they think this stuff is owed them. What happened about the creamers, or was it an Ethel Kennedy maneuver? Were you supposed to feel honored to have been ripped off by Mrs. Dan Rowan or Mrs. Howdy Doody? 

Buck: Mrs. Dan Rowan wasn’t there, and Howdy Doody wasn’t real.

Me: Before my time.

Buck: But what happened was, I brought it up. I went up to the woman who owned the catering service and I said, Listen, we’re missing a few creamers, and she said, Shut up! I know what’s happening, and you just forget all about it! So I had to let it go.

Me: So … basically, it was an Ethel Kennedy move.

Buck: Yep.

Me: Damn it. Well, I asked to be disgusted and you’ve done it.

Buck: Yep. You can always count on me.

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Links:  Artist Theresa Honeywell’s motorcycle installation.

Again with the appalling Elijah Wood children’s dance video. Because Elijah’s part of the same sub-group of imps as Roman Polanski, and I can’t just can’t get enough of this video. Who can? I mean, really. It’s actually shocking.

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 I’ve been trying to squeeze in some interview time with Buck, but he’s been really busy. So it’s come to this lately: serializing  blog entries and hurried PhotoShop shenanigans.

In the early- to mid-1970s when Buck was trying out different parts of the country, he lived in Palm Springs for a time and worked for a company that owned a very exclusive private club called The Gammonor. This same company also catered parties and events hosted by celebrities.

Me: This past weekend there was a show on about Lucille Ball. Finding Lucy or something. I didn’t watch it. I think Fran Drescher was on it, as a commenter. But I noticed you didn’t watch it, either. And you never watch I Love Lucy, or anything with Lucy in it.

Buck: No, I don’t.

Me: Why?

Buck: Because that’s my idea of livin’ hell. I prefer comedy.

Me: Well right, Lucy isn’t funny. She just isn’t and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a generational thing, the way people thought Laugh-In was hilarious. Although I do remember thinking I Love Lucy was entertaining when I was like 3 … up till I was about 5. I feel like I spent hours on the couch in my parents’ den watching Lucy and Andy Griffith and Beverly Hillbillies, etc. But you knew Lucille Ball back in Palm Springs, so I would think you’d be sort of interested in her.

Buck: I’m not. I’m not at all interested in her.

Me: Tell me about her. What was she like at that point in her life.

Buck: She was addicted to backgammon. She was at The Gammonor every single morning playing backgammon. I saw her every day. Her name was Morton then, from marrying Gary Morton, and I’d say Good morning Mrs. Morton. And she’d say [in a deep raspy voice meant to by Lucy’s] Good morning Buck, how’re you? She had a truck driver’s voice at that point. It was really bad, all from smoking. But she was very pleasant.

Me: Who’d she play backgammon with?

Buck: Totie Fields. Totie was in the last stages of her life, then.

Me: Totie was on Merv Griffin a lot when I was a kid. I remember when she had to have her leg amputated. That was sad. I didn’t really understand it at the time.

Buck: Well Lucy just brought her around with her, because Totie was pretty screwed up at that point.

Me: So, um … they hung around together?

Buck: I think Lucy brought her around because it was getting near the end and Lucy was being a friend to her.

Me: Were Lucy and Totie Fields drinking?

Buck: I never paid attention, but I kind of don’t think so. A lot of people didn’t drink, they just got coffeed out while playing backgammon. They acted like if they didn’t play backgammon they would die.

Me: What about Junior Lucy  and Larry Luckinbill?

Buck: Come to think of it, Larry Luckinbill was there, but not Lucy junior. I don’t know where she was. He was there with big Lucy, I believe. 

Me: Who was Lucy playing? Just Totie Fields?

Buck: She played everybody. She played a lot of these silently wealthy women you know, they weren’t stars like her but they were very wealthy.

Me:  Well forget them. Name someone I’d know. Who was there?

Buck: Everybody, you name it. I ended up running the catering to the movie stars company, and because I was the point man I ended up seeing everybody.

Me: But who was there? Give me some names.

Buck: It was people who were quietly revered in television. Like, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stack. And Harry Guardino. Everybody LOVED Harry Guardino.

Me: Okay, I just Googled Harry Guardino. He actually died in Palm Springs in 1995, so he must have been smart enough to stay living in a place where everybody loved him. Unlike us.

Buck: Why do you relate everything to you and I?

Me: I don’t know.

Buck: Harry Guardino always played a cop. He was always the captain.

Me: Yes. Internet Movie Database has him listed as playing Sergeant Simmons, and Vice Detective Collins, and Lieutenant Al Bressler —

Buck: Whatever. Stop reading me that.

Me: Was Lyle Wagner ever there?

Buck: Actually, Lyle Wagner was there. That was back when he was just starting his business doing trailers for movie stars on location.

Me: Oh yeah, I forgot all about that. Though I don’t know why I’d want to remember it.

Buck: Surprisingly, the most popular people among the in-crowd in Palm Springs weren’t the biggest name stars. Like, Harry Guardino was revered but he wasn’t a mega superstar, you know?

Me: Whose house parties did you do? 

Buck: [sighs] Let me think …… Frank Sinatra’s agent. Red Skelton.  Liberace. I’ve told you about Liberace, he had that infamous Let’s all fly to Hawaii for breakfast thing in the middle of his party. And we had to scramble to make them all snacks to take with them. Like 20 people were getting in their private jets to follow Liberace to Hawaii for breakfast and we had to make them snacks.

Me: They were all on his plane?

Buck: No. They were all on their own planes.

Me: That’s crazy. I would have refused. I would have said, Lee, this was your big idea, you fly me or I’m not going.  … Who else?

Buck: Rona Barrett got me in trouble once.

Me: Why?! [laughing]

Buck: [laughing] I got in trouble with Rona Barrett because there was a party protocol where you never-ever parked in someone’s driveway, because that’s where the catering trucks always parked. Guests knew they were not supposed to park in driveways, and it just wasn’t done. Plus, there was always valet parking at these parties so finding a parking space wasn’t even an issue.

Me: Okay.

Buck: So, I had to run back and get something at Smoke Tree Village, which was a mini-mall owned by the lady who owned the catering company. But when I got back to the party, Rona Barrett’s Rolls Royce was parked in the driveway and I couldn’t get the catering van up to the house.

Me: How rude of Rona. She drove it herself?

Buck: Yeah. They all did. So I had to make an announcement, and because parking in the driveway was such a major no-no on a guest’s part, I wanted to be kind of funny. So I said, Can I have your attention please? Somebody has parked in the driveway and we need to have the car moved … it’s an old Buick.

Me: [laughing] Oh my God. What did she do?

Buck: Rona Barrett came running over and she was absolutely bullshit. She was yelling at me, It’s a Rolls Royce! It’s a Rolls! and was slapping me on the shoulder. She was furious because everybody was looking at each other like, Oh wow, Rona’s driving a Buick. It apparently caused a lot of problems, which I heard about later.

Tomorrow: Red Skelton, Frank Sinatra, and Peter Falk

( sounds like a setup for a joke, doesn’t it? “Red Skelton, Frank Sinatra, and Peter Falk were all sitting in a boat …”  It’s not a setup. And they weren’t together at all, much less in a boat.)

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      Oh my God. With Jay Leno refusing to cross the Writers Guild of America picket line, NBC has announced it is laying off the non-writing Tonight Show staff next week. But Jay must do this! They all must do this! Shame on Ellen DeGeneres for not backing her writers. Writers are everything, Ellen. Everything.

    Most people are supportive of the strike. Look at picket line pixie Sally Field gettin’ all Norma Rae up in everybody’s grill. She knows how important this is. Hey, does anyone else watch Brothers & Sisters besides me and Brian? I’ve never missed an episode. Oddly, I don’t know why that is. I don’t really try to see it, it’s just worked out that way. Which makes me think God must want me to watch it, so I do.

    But I’m all for this writers’ strike — seriously, writers get treated like garbage and I’m glad to see them flex some muscle on this. But there’s another bright side to this. An unintentional bright side. Lately, I’ve been thinking about cutting out a lot of TV shows and this strike will seal the deal for me. I’ve been wanting to winnow my extensive list of watching down to Survivor, The Simpsons and Family Guy, The Office, 30 Rock, My Name Is Earl, and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I cannot live without It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. That’s just seven shows, eight if you count The Soup. And The Soup is kind of mandatory. My list would, theoretically, revert to a default seven once Survivor finishes up for the season.

    But the strike has prompted a flood of “re-broadcasts” and repeats of other shows which I’ve already seen. So now would be the perfect time to stop watching so much TV and get back to the other stuff I like to do, or should be doing. Like reading, writing, cooking, listening to the radio, and finding weird-yet-compelling podcasts online, like the one done by Trucker Tom here.

And on the subject of TV in general, last year we only kept the absurdly overpriced and infuriating HBO to watch the end of our beloved Sopranos, and then we kept it for our new romance with Flight of the Conchords. John From Cincinnati then sucked us in, only to be canceled and pull a total Twin Peaks on us. Which sent me into a letter-writing, forum-joining conniption the likes of which I’d never experienced before (except after the dreadful finale of Twin Peaks). HBO actually ended up banning me and other irate John From Cincinnati victims from one of their stupid HBO forums. Which was a worthless effort on their part, because I simply turned around and joined under a new user name, as did all my fellow haters, and we formed a whole new board. So take that, you filthy blood-sucking bastards! Just try and stop us.

    Anyway.  I’ve already blogged about my unspeakable fury at Court TV  going all Maxim on us while excellent cult movies float around without a dedicated channel to call home. I’ve wasted too much energy on these network and cable people. They’re killing me, really. Remember Pirate Master? I still can’t even talk about that show. It’s too soon, the pain is still fresh.

Between the Internet and TV, I’ve been shockingly non-productive the past year. And I’m certainly not giving up the Internet, so that leaves TV. Although I’m pro- writers’ strike and it isn’t meant to drive people away from TV, I might take this opportunity to stop TiVo-ing all this crap and make a break for it. But unlike in high school when it was cool to say, “I hardly ever watch TV, I only read Vonnegut and listen to Jethro Tull and Miles Davis,” this time around I’ll be telling the truth. Not about Vonnegut and Tull, but about not watching TV. I get all my TV news from Joel McHale on the The Soup, anyway. I love Joel McHale, he’s already on my can’t-live-without list. And if there’s something I really need to see, I can watch it on the Internet with far fewer commercials.

So this writers’ strike is a good thing. It’s good for them, and it’s good for me. It’s just a good-good situation no matter how you look at it. Unless you’re a TV executive, in which case I guess it’s more of a lose-lose thing. And, as my mother used to say, they can go to hell in a handbasket. Whatever the hell that means.

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Robert Goulet

 

I’ve been thinking about Robert Goulet lately, because he died this week. I’m in the middle of transcribing part two of my Coast to Coast post, but I have an odd, quick Robert Goulet story I feel I should tell. Because it’s quick, and it’s about Robert Goulet.

In tributes to him I keep hearing what a good sense of humor he had, and I think this is true.  When I was a kid, Massachusetts-native Robert Goulet was in Brockton for some benefit golf/luncheon thing. I don’t know what year, but it was in the late 1960s, early 70s. My parents were members of the club sponsoring the benefit thing, and they had apparently spoken to Robert Goulet at some point before the actual benefit. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t mingle with celebs on a regular basis, but they were newspaper people and every once in awhile a celebrity or big politician would drift through their lives for a minute or so.

So we’re at the benefit golf/luncheon thing ( I wasn’t in school for some reason, probably didn’t feel like going to third or fourth grade or whatever grade I was in) , the only child there,  and I’m sitting at this big table with my parents and their friends. My mother looked out the window and saw Robert Goulet getting ready to go out on the golf course with a couple of his friends, and she says to me, “Oh, there’s Bob Goulet. He’s going to go play golf. Why don’t you go with him?”

I’m like 9 or 10, and I was a fan of both the Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin shows, so I certainly knew who Robert Goulet was although I wasn’t a terribly big fan of his. I don’t know what my exact words were, but it was probably something like, “Whatever” and I went out and joined his golf party.

And Robert Goulet, who must have surely thought it odd that this little girl was going around with him and his friends, never even batted an eye. I said hello to him and he said hello back, but other than that I didn’t even really speak to him as far as I can remember.  I just recall walking around with him as he played golf and him not even minding. Then I got bored and wandered off somewhere.  

As an adult I look back on that and think how times have changed, that a child could be sent off to follow a strange man around, no matter how famous he is; how bizarre of my mother to have even suggested it; and what a good natured guy Robert Goulet was to allow this strange little girl to follow him around.

And that’s it, my Robert Goulet story. Not very interesting I know, but worth mentioning just the same.

Here’s that great Emerald Nuts ad that Robert Goulet recently did:

 

 

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