There’s a great deal to be said about Thelma Adams’ book “The Last Woman Standing (Lake Union Publishing, $14.95) . . . and all of it good. Very, very good. A feminist western mixing real and fictional characters, and totally defiling the era and prevailing attitudes of the times is no easy trick to pull off, and Adams does it with humor and, lord help us all, charm.
Adams has been writing features and criticism of the entertainment industry for quite a while. Her first novel, “Playdate”, a gossipy tale of a steamy community, won high critical acclaim. But here, in “The Last Woman Standing”, we have something special. Twenty years after the Civil War, a young daughter of faintly repressive Jewish immigrants escapes from San Francisco to Tombstone, Arizona to join wheeler dealer boyfriend Johnny Behan.
However, it is the legendary Wyatt Earp who steals her heart, aggravating Behan, and, well, we get a lady’s eye view of the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral in the bargain. Part of the enjoyment of the work is the combined epic and the immediacy and tenderness of the tale is extraordinary.
The era is plagued by the memories of the Civil War, the steal steam animosity between the Lincoln Republican and Democrats, and the discovery of silver (and millions) in Tombstone. It may seem like an enormous leap, but Josephine Marcus, our heroine here, is at least the cousin if not the sister of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett. Spunkier (what an awful word!) and forced to deal with a bit more violence than the Austen heroine, her bravery, humor, and humanity shine forth in a novel well worth reading. Adams’ creation will stay with the reader for a good, long time.
He was one of Hollywood’s male heartthrobs during the ’50s. In dozens of films and on the pages of countless movie magazines Tab Hunter’s good looks and golden-boy sex appeal drove his (mostly female) fans into screaming, delirious frenzies, making him the prototype for all young matinee idols to come. Bristling against being just another pretty face and wanting to be taken seriously, Hunter was one of the few to be able to transcend pin-up boy status. He earned his stripes as an actor to become a movie star.
Hunter’s career was launched with “Island of Desire” in 1952. He was cast in a lead role opposite screen legend Linda Darnell. Both the movie and Hunter were panned by critics, but teenage girls went wild for the shirtless blond hunk with the dreamy face and the steely jaw. Overnight, with only one role under his belt, Tab Hunter erupted into a media sensation.
Suddenly, an army of photographers charts his every move as he squires glamorous actresses like Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds from event to glittering event. Several more low-budget films came his way, and Hunter began to taste the intoxicating perks of stardom. And the pressures. In private he began a secret affair with figure skater Ronnie Robertson, but in public he was required to date Hollywood’s most eligible starlets. Tab was deathly afraid the party could end at any moment, and equally apart by the contradictions.
But behind the scenes, Tab’s life was in turmoil. His mother Gertrude had a nervous breakdown and had to undergo electro-shock treatments. And he finally broke with agent Henry Willson–who had done surprisingly little for his career and wanted to bed the boy like mad . . . always to rejection. A furious Willson got his revenge by feeding the scandal magazine “Confidential” a story about Hunter’s arrest years earlier at a gay party. Willson provided “Confidential” with all the lurid details of Hunter’s “disorderly conduct” charge. The headline read: “The Truth About Tab Hunter’s Pajama Party” and the story mentioned “limp-wristed lads” and “queer romps”. Suddenly, everything Hunter had worked for was about to be cruelly snatched away. But an odd silence followed. The mainstream media said nothing and the scandal quietly faded away. Part of the reason may be his loyal adherence to Hollywood’s so-called “Gentleman’s Agreement”, dating women publicly and keeping his private life private.
Now, the actor’s dramatic, turbulent and ultimately inspiring life story is told in “Tab Hunter Confidential”, a documentary directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz. The film has the unique advantage of exclusive, unprecedented access to Hunter who shares first-hand, for the second time, what it was like to be a manufactured movie star during the Golden Age of Hollywood and the consequences of being someone totally different from his manufactured image. We will trace Tab’s dizzying rise to Hollywood super-stardom, his secret life in an era when being openly gay was unthinkable, and his ultimate triumph when the limelight finally passed him by.
After a year on the film festival circuit and a theatrical run across 50 cities in the United States, the acclaimed documentary, based on Hunter’s “New York Times” bestselling memoir, is available to rent or own nationwide on Digital HD. A DVD release is planned for later this summer.
Punctuating Tab’s on screen presence will be rare film clips and provocative interviews with friends and co-stars including John Waters, Clint Eastwood, George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Noah Wyle, Connie Stevens, Lainie Kazan, Rona Barrett and Robert Osborne. “Tab Hunter Confidential” is an important piece of Hollywood’s hidden history that is more relevant than ever in today’s obsessive, star-driven, sexuality speculating media.
“Tab Hunter Confidential” concludes with Hunter and the film’s co-producer Allan Glaser living their lives in Santa Barbara, where he spends time with his horses and is “happy to be forgotten.” Now, Tab Hunter’s secret is out and he rides into the sunset a happy, healthy survivor of Hollywood’s roller coaster.
Hey good lookin’ . . . yes, I am talking to you. Country music fans will cherish “The Complete Mother’s Best Collection” (Time Life), a treasure trove of recordings by the legendary Hank Williams. Long regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, Williams was one of America’s first country music superstars. Before his tragic, early death at 29, Williams’ almost single-handedly set the agenda for country music with classic standards such as “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin'” and “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
His life story was recently put on the big screen in “I Saw the Light“, a biopic starring Tom Hiddleston as the father of contemporary country music; it’s being released on July 5. But for a rare, informal glimpse into the heart and soul of country music’s greatest star look no further than “Hank Williams: The Complete Mother’s Best Collection.” This must-own 15-CD + 1 DVD Collection features 142 performances from the “Mother’s Best Flour Radio Shows” (1951); the DVD features behind-the-Scenes conversations with Williams’ daughter Jett and two members of Hank’s band, Don Helms and Big Bill Lister.
At the peak of his career in 1951, Williams recorded 142 songs for the Mother’s Best Flour Company. The best-known and most sought-after Williams recordings, The Mother’s Best Flour Shows featured the legendary musician and his studio band laying down his chart-busting hits, as well as songs he never recorded commercially anywhere else. Broadcast over the Grand Ole Opry’s parent station, WSM, in Nashville every morning at 7:15 a.m., the format was consistent: Each 15-minute show consisted of one country song, one instrumental or guest vocal and a gospel song to close the show. Recorded in an intimate and casual setting, “The Mother’s Best Shows” highlighted Williams personality, and his relaxed patter was filled with wry, self-deprecating wit.
For the very first time, “The Complete Mother’s Best Collection” brings together all of the surviving recordings in a single set. Featured among the rare performances are Hank’s greatest hits including “Cold, Cold Heart,” “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You),” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Move It On Over,” and many more. Hank also sings then-current hits by other artists, including “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” “On Top Of Old Smoky,” “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” and “Cherokee Boogie” among others. Williams also loved the old hymns, and here he sings sacred classics like ‘Softly and Tenderly,’ shouts out Southern gospel classics like ‘I’ll Have a New Life’ and ‘When the Saints Go Marchin’ In,’ and many he never sang anywhere else such as “Lonely Tombs” and “At the Cross”.
As Colin Escott writes in the liner notes: “Imagine finding a half-dozen unreleased Beatles LPs or a stash of previously unheard Elvis Presley recordings. That’s how significant these ‘Mother’s Best’ Hank Williams radio shows are”. Bravo!
It’s more than a supper. Think of it as a feast. Tesla’s third album, “Psychotic Supper”, the band’s third studio album (it was released on August 30, 1991), was the follow-up to the live “Five Man Acoustical Jam”. The album peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, featuring an aggressive change in direction from the previous disc, landing an impressive five songs on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, including “What You Give” (which went to No. 7 and even cracked the Billboard Hot 100 at No. #86. Other memorable songs include “Edison’s Medicine,” which spotlights how its subject received credit for harnessing electricity over the band’s own namesake, Nikola Tesla, which climbed to No. 20 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, along with “Call It What You Want” (No. 19), “Song & Emotion” (No. 13) and “Stir It Up” (No. 35).
Produced by Michael Barbiero–who also helmed the band’s first two studio efforts–the album was eventually certified platinum in 1993 by the RIAA, and was included in Germany’s Rock Hard’s book of “The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.” The band themselves have been quoted as considering “Psychotic Supper” their best record. To help mark the album’s 25th anniversary in August, UMe is reissuing the album for the first time as a two-LP standard issue vinyl set on July 22.
Tesla was formed in Sacramento in late 1981 by bassist Brian Wheat and Frank Hannon, with lead vocalist Jeff Keith, drummer Troy Luccketta and guitarist Tommy Skeoch joining them by 1984, settling on the name Tesla two years later. Their debut album, “Mechanical Resonance”, came out in 1986, with many of the band’s themes and song titles inspired by the electrical engineer who gave them their name. In the early days of their career, the band toured extensively, opening for David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard and Poison.
On “Psychotic Supper”, the band largely eschewed the live album’s acoustic bent and let loose with a stripped-down production that enhanced the band’s bluesy take on rock and roll. “Edison’s Medicine” is highlighted by Jeff Keith’s frenetic, yet soulful vocals and some scorching guitar solos by Tommy Skeoch and Frank Hannon. Skeoch also rocks out on theremin, while Hannon straps on a bass for a memorable solo.
A quarter of a century after its release, “Psychotic Supper” still holds up for its impressive musicianship by the band and its mix of hard rock and anthemic ballads.
They walk. They talk. They eat. They are dead. With the end of every season comes the bittersweet knowledge that we must wait with bated breath until the next ride. To keep your “The Walking Dead” appetite satiated, Anchor Bay Entertainment proudly continues the tradition of offering fans an opportunity to relive the so satisfying series by delivering “The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season” on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD on August 23. Welcome back new cast members and guest stars for season six including Merritt Wever as Dr. Denise Cloyd, Ethan Embry as Carter, Corey Hawkins as Heath, Thomas Payne as Jesus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan. Watch, savor and save another date: “The Walking Dead” Season 7 premieres on AMC this October.
Just like the previous award-winning home entertainment releases, “The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season” will take fans down a memory lane that refuses to be a dead end: All of the season’s most haunting and indelible moments, including never-before-heard audio commentaries, deleted scenes, six new featurettes, additional extras and the highly anticipated Alternate Negan Scene, live on Blu-ray and DVD.
Writer/producer Scott M. Gimple revealed that the sixth season would continue to remix material from the comic and explained that there would be a flashback backstory to some of the characters: “”There are other people that we’re going to see throughout the season from the comics, and I’m excited for people to see it, but I don’t want to tell them now. I think a few minor remixes, but some direct stuff from the comic as well, as far as these characters go. I think there’s a really cool aspect to the first half of the season that serves almost as a prequel to some direct comic stuff in the second half of the season. I think there’s a way that Robert did some of the story that we’re reaching that had a real past to it, where people are referring to some things in the past in the comic. And we’re able to portray some of that backstory in some ways that you didn’t get to see in the comic.”
Robert Fredrick Paulsen III has always given voice to his career. He first started out as a singer, did stage work and made a handful of films and TV shows. “I just wanted to perform,” he says, “and I didn’t care what that meant.” And perform he did and does, once he stumbled into the profession that truly had him give voice to his work. (He began his voice-over career in 1983 with “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero”, where he played “Snow Job” and “Tripwire”.)
Today, the 60-year-old actor is one of the most prolific voice actors in the industry. Paulsen has recorded thousands of different character voices for nearly 500 different films and TV series, not counting his endless work in commercial voice-overs and video games. Perhaps he’s most known for the original commercial of “Got Milk?” campaign. The famous commercial (remember “who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?”) aired in 1993, and launched the Got Milk? (in)famous campaign.
His career runs as a long as that yellow brick road: Career highlights include “Animaniacs”, “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius”, “Pinky and the Brain”, “The Tick”, “Tiny Toon Adventures”, “Goof Troop”, “Dexter’s Laboratory”, “Histeria” and “The Mask”. In “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Paulsen voiced both Raphael in the original 1987 animated cast; he gives life to Donatello in the more recent take on the series. And let us not forget a role he holds close to his heart: Oz’s Tin Man (and his alter ego Hickory), a role he has voiced first in “Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz” and in the newly released “Tom and Jerry Back to Oz.” Both are available on DVD, thanks to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Chatting with the actor is an animated adventure. He has so many stories to tell about places he has gone and people he has met. We gabbed with him on a Saturday afternoon, in time away from his wife, Parrish, and their Yorkshire terriers, Pooshie and Tala. We even got to hear him sing a snatch of “If I Only Had a Heart”!
Alan W. Petrucelli: First things first: You wanted to be a hockey player. What happened? Rob Paulsen: The one big fly in the ointment was that I hadn’t the talent or temperament. I was a decent high school player and maybe so in college, but professional hockey players are bigger and more mannish.
AWP: One of your heroes was Gordie Howe. Did you ever met him? RP: Gordie was my idol. He passed away just a week ago. He was my hero. His planet on ice made him an idol of mine. When I met him and his wife, Colleen, it turned out that their grandkids were great Ninja Turtle fans. I was lucky to have Gordie in my life: At a fundraiser in Vancouver, I was sitting next to him during an autograph signing. Gordie was in early ’60s and had been signing for a couple hours. A guy my age came up to Gordie after waiting an hour for him to sign a puck, and said, ‘Mr. Howe, thank you for signing my puck.’ Your hand must be getting tired.’ Gordie looked at him, and sober as judge, he held his hand out to the man and said, ‘I worked too hard for this privilege. It’s my honor.’ What he said was like a laser beam right to my head. Gordie was a God.
AWP: You worked closely with another God, Steven Spielberg. Any stories? RP: He has not only created the world’s greatest impression of cartoons and movies, but up close and personal, Spielberg is the most delightful and kind and generous person I have met. He makes any conversation or experienced with him about you. That is important since I have met people whose goal is to be self-centered. I have zero tolerance to run into those types of people. They think they will impress me, but they never do. Spielberg is the kind of famous person who impresses people . . . without an ego.
AWP: You are another famous person who impresses people. RP: No. I am not a celebrity. A lot of the characters I voice are celebrities. but I am not a celebrity. I don’t draw or write them. I have developed a certain reputation: Casting people know to call Rob if they give me a live action job because I have developed a reputation that I can sing it, I can act it. [Pauses, then laughs] Yet I am limited by how I look, so doing voices is freeing because I can swing from the fences since I’m a 5-foot, 10½-inch white guy, as average-looking as a million other guys.
AWP: You must admit you got a great job. It must get tough changing your voice so many times. RP: No. A job is what blue-collar men do. Pouring hot tar in July is a tough job. Laying sod on a farm is a tough job. Working on a conveyor belt in a factory is hard work. My job is like freedom . . . I get to do what I want with my voice; my interpretation is only limited by my voice. I would be lying if I said I don’t like when people make a fuss over me. Sometimes when I sign a credit card receipt, a person says, “Hmm, Rob Paulsen. Are you . . .?’ Sometimes a person will listen to me and say, ‘Hmm, I know that voice.’ That’s incredibly flattering. When I was growing up, cartoons were on only three networks. And now . . . [Pauses] I am in incredible receipt of so much fan anticipation. All things considered, I love what I do so much I would do it for free.
AWP: When you made the two Oz films with Tom and Jerry, where you asked to sound like Jack Haley? RP: The people who made the movie wanted me to be really close to what he sounded like. That’s what they were definitely looking for. Haley was very light and sweet and ingenious, yet he still had a pretty thick Boston accent. When I got to sing, it’s such a thrill they wanted the Haley influence. [Begins singing in a Haley soundalike voice] “When a man’s an empty kettle he should be on his mettle . . .”
AWP: Is your voice insured? RP: No. I heard and presume that Luciano Pavarotti and Richard Tucker and Kathleen Battle had their voices insured. I did think about it now that I am getting older and had an issue with laryngitis,
AWP: You’ve done commercials for Honda, Frosted Mini-Wheats, McDonalds and Taco Bell. Do you have lifetime free cars, cereal, Big Macs and Cheesy Double Beef Burritos? RP: [Laughs] No. They offered me a crazy deal on a Honda but I ended up buying one in 1974. The Honda Civic cost $4,496. When McDonald’s was doing a promotion with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a local guy was a big man and asked me to sign some Turtleblila. He gave me some free stuff . . . I think it was two burgers.
My friend Liz Callaway sent me this email. I wept when I read it, wept more when I watched the video. Trust me (as you always do) on this . . .
After the horrific violence in Orlando earlier this month, the Broadway community got together and recorded a single of the beautiful Bacharach/David song “What the World We Needs Now is Love” to benefit the victims and their families. I am very proud to be a part of this recording along with Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sarah Bareilles, Carole King, Billy Porter, my sister Ann Hampton Callaway and so many more.
If you’d like to contribute, you can purchase the song on iTunes, gift it to your friends, or order hard copies and/or MP3s at www.broadwayrecords.com. 100% all of the proceeds will benefit the LGBT Community Center of Central Florida.
TV’s greatest newscaster? In honor of the home entertainment debut of the smart and satirical comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starring Tina Fey as a broadcast journalist, the National Research Group (a Stagwell Company) conducted an online survey on behalf of Paramount Pictures among a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents to elicit opinions about female journalists who appear on broadcast and cable news programs.
Yes, sometimes long sentences need to be long.
Respondents, all of whom watch national broadcast or cable news at least once per week, chose Diane Sawyer as their favorite on-air reporter (yes!), followed closely by Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Robin Roberts. All four were selected as top favorites regardless of respondents’ political party affiliation; however Republicans also chose Megyn Kelly as a favorite and Democrats added Lisa Ling. All respondents considered Sawyer, Walters, Couric and Roberts the most trustworthy.
Respondents’ top picks for “great interviewer” were Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters. Those surveyed also described Walters, Sawyer, Lisa Ling, Rachel Maddow and Christiane Amanpour as “intelligent.”
The “classiest” broadcast journalists were Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Barbara Walters, while the “sassiest” was Megyn Kelly and the most “down to earth” was Robin Roberts.
Most often described as “brave” were Robin Roberts, Lisa Ling, Christiane Amanpour and Lara Logan. Respondents most often cited Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren and Rachel Maddow as “opinionated.”
Based on real-life reporter Kim Barker’s revealing and funny memoir about covering the war beat in the Middle East, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a sharp and savvy take on combat journalists as well as an illuminating story of self-discovery. The film follows Kim (Tina Fey) as she decides to shake things up by taking a dangerous assignment in Afghanistan.
There, in the midst of chaos, Kim discovers her true strength as she risks it all to find the next big story. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has arrived on Digital HD and on Blu-ray Combo Pack. No, none of TV’s “winners” make an appearance.
The curtain continues to go up as Masterworks Broadway announces its Summer 2016 releases, including three classic albums from the archives:Sid and Marty Krofft’s Les Poupees de Paris – 1964 World Fair Recording, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road: Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording and Alice Through the Looking Glass–1966 Television Soundtrack Recording.Upon release, each title will beaccompanied by new album pages and photos on MasterworksBroadway.com.
Sid and Marty Krofft’s Les Poupees de Paris is the Grammy-nominated soundtrack from an elaborate puppet show performed on tour and at the 1964 World’s Fair. With the voices of Pearl Bailey, Milton Berle, Cyd Charisse, Annie Fargé, Gene Kelly, Liberace, Jayne Mansfield, Tony Martin, Phil Silvers, Loretta Young and Edie Adams, the score features music and lyrics by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen. Known for bringing a psychedelic sensibility to children’s TV with shows like The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost, the Krofft’s got their start with similar puppet shows performed in nightclubs. Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, the multi award-winning Songwriter’s Hall of Fame duo, are known as the team behind some of Frank Sinatra’s most famous hits including “Come Fly with Me,” “Only the Lonely,” and “Come Dance with Me.” Sid and Marty Krofft’s Les Poupees de Paris will be officially released for the first time on CD in the U.S. July 8, with streaming and downloads available the same day.
Originally produced by Joseph Papp for the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road, was a milestone in the integration of rock-and-roll and musical theater. It opened June 14, 1978 at the Public Theater and later moved to the Circle in the Square for a total of 1,165 performances, making it one of the most successful Off-Broadway musicals of all time. The book and lyrics are by Gretchen Cryer, who also starred as the lead character Heather Jones in the original production, with music by Nancy Ford. The show follows Jones as she puts together her new cabaret act featuring songs about her own empowerment (she’s just been through a bitter divorce), much to the dismay of her director who tries to convince her to go back to her old act. The show was nominated for Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics, and its cast album received a Grammy nomination. Recordings of Cryer and Ford’s Off-Broadway musicals Now Is the Time for All Good Men (1967) and The Last Sweet Days of Isaac (1970) are also available from Masterworks Broadway. I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road: Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording will be released on August 8, with streaming and downloads available the same day.
In Alice Through The Looking Glass,Elsie Simmons and Moose Charlap set Lewis Carroll’s timeless classic to music for the NBC television special. First aired November 6, 1966, the star-studded production included Ricardo Montalban, Agnes Moorehead, Jack Palance, Jimmy Durante and the Smothers Brothers. The Television Soundtrack of Alice Through The Looking Glasswill be officially released for the first time on CD in the U.S. September 9, with streaming and downloads available the same day.
Not everyone deserves being called a “genius.” So we introduce you to The Man Who Knew Infinity. Dev Patel stars as Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian mathematics genius. In 1913, he traveled to Trinity College, Cambridge, where over the course of five years, he forged a bond with his mentor, the brilliant and eccentric professor, G.H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons), while fighting against prejudice to reveal his mathematic genius to the world. As the Chicago Sun-Times raved, the film “is not so much a film about understanding the numbers, but understanding the men who made us see their merit, and the passion that drives each of us to find the true meaning in our lives.”
The Man Who Knew Infinity arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD August 23 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The film will also be available for sale or rental from cable, satellite and telco providers through IFC Films.
A great film that adds up to a most entertaining adventure!
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some