Tag Archives: Buster Keaton

Save the date! MPI Media offers the first 5 seasons of “The Donna Reed Show”, complete versions and digitally remastered.

There’s no need to worry about having to read small print. We announce the news, as transparent as this clean, fresh font.

MPI Media Group  will be releasing a favorite TV classic on DVD  on May 14. Save the date! Originally airing on ABC-TV from 1958 to 1966, The Donna Reed Show  is one of the most popular and enduring family sitcoms in television history. Starring Oscar-winning Donna Reed as homemaker Donna Stone, Carl Betz as her pediatrician husband Alex, Shelley Fabares as daughter Mary, Paul Petersen as son Jeff and, later, Patty Petersen as adoptee Trisha, the series is a humorous and heartwarming slice of Americana that has earned a legion of new fans through showings on Nick at Nite, TV Land and MeTV.

Guest stars include Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Buster Keaton, Bob Crane, Marion Ross, Gale Gordon, John Astin, Ted Knight, Richard Deacon, Don Drysdale, Esther Williams, Tony Martin and Jimmy Hawkins. This special collection presents all 186 episodes from Seasons 1 through 5 in complete versions and digitally remastered.

The set also includes new featurettes and interviews with Shelley Fabares and Paul and Patty Petersen, vintage promotional spots, original cast and sponsor commercials, Donna Reed’s tribute on This Is Your Life, rare footage and much more.

Cohen media Group celebrates the brilliance of Buster Keaton in a trio of true marvels

Charles S. Cohen, Chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, can never be accused of having a stone face.

He could, of course, be honestly called a great fan of The Great Stone Face.  (Those would don;t know who we are chatting about need to open a new window and Google.)

This month he has released (on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms) director and movie historian Peter Bogdanovich’s acclaimed new film The Great Buster: A Celebration. It is as brilliant as the tribute it pays to one of silent cinema’s greatest artists, Buster Keaton.

The Great Keaton celebrates the life and career of one of America’s most influential and celebrated filmmakers and comedians, whose singular style and fertile output during the silent era secured his legacy as a true cinematic visionary. Filled with stunningly restored archival Keaton films from the Cohen Film Collection library, the film is directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker and cinema historian whose landmark writings and films on such renowned directors as John Ford and Orson Welles have become the standard by which all other studies are measured.
The Great Buster chronicles Keaton’s life and career, from his beginnings on the vaudeville circuit through the development of his trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the lifelong moniker “The Great Stone Face,” all of which led to his career-high years as the director, writer, producer and star of his own short films and features. Interspersed throughout are interviews with nearly two-dozen collaborators, filmmakers, performers and admirers, including Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Dick Van Dyke and Johnny Knoxville, who discuss Keaton’s influence on modern comedy and cinema itself.
The loss of artistic independence and career decline that marked his later years are also covered by Bogdanovich, before he casts a close eye on Keaton’s extraordinary output from 1923 to 1929, which yielded 10 remarkable feature films (including 1926’s The General and 1928’s Steamboat Bill, Jr.)that immortalized him as one of the greatest actor-filmmakers in the history of cinema.
Keaton in The General, a true classic
In his landmark book The American Cinema, critic Andrew Sarris placed Buster Keaton among the “Pantheon Directors,” his elite grouping of the 14 greatest filmmakers. Sarris wrote, “Cops, Sherlock Jr., The Navigator and The General stamp Keaton as the most enduringly modern of classical directors.” Critic and film historian David Thomson, in his famed Biographical Dictionary of Film, writes, “In Keaton’s films there is an extraordinary use of space in the jokes that is faithfully and beautifully recorded.”
Wait! There’s more Keaton craze.

On May 14, Cohen Media Group releases the Keaton masterpieces The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr. together on single-disc Blu-ray and DVD packages, as well as digital platforms.

The films, high points not only of Keaton’s incomparable career but of all silent cinema (both are included on the National Film Registry),  are presented in new 4K restorations and feature orchestral scores by Carl Davis.
Many critics and historians consider The General  (1926) to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the finest films of all time on international critics’ polls. It is No. 18 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest American Films, and is No. 34 on the latest Sight & Sound critics poll of the Greatest Films of All Time.
Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident, the film is an authentic-looking period piece that brings the scope and realism of Mathew Brady-like images to brilliant life. Keaton portrays engineer Johnnie Gray, rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend (played by Marion Mack). When a band of Union soldiers penetrate Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, called The General, Johnnie sets off in pursuit. There is no better showcase for Keaton’s trademark physical comedy and deadpan expression that earned him the moniker “The Great Stone Face.”
The renowned critic Raymond Durgnat wrote, “Perhaps The General is the most beautiful film, with its spare, grey photography, its eye for the racy, lunging lines of the great locomotives, with their prow-like cowcatchers, with its beautifully sustained movement.” “The pioneering genius of Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent film … looks even more startling than ever … more or less invented the action movie,” said The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw.
In Steamboat Bill, Jr.  (1928), Buster, as the son of a steamboat captain, falls in love with the daughter of a rival steamboat owner. When a cyclone rages, Buster proves himself a hero by rescuing his love (played by Marion Byron) and her father from a watery grave.

The comedy contains what many consider Keaton’s most memorable, and potentially deadly, film stunt: One side of a house falls on him while he stands in the perfect spot to pass through a window frame unharmed.

Petrucelli Picks: 2018 Gift Guide to the Best DVD Box Sets of the Year

It was an era of monsters, madness and great movie-making. Dare you say the flicks have universal appeal?

Thirty of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces starring the most famous monsters of horror movie history come together on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

This is the best DVD Box Set of the Year.

Featuring unforgettable make-up, ground-breaking special effects and outstanding performances, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes all Universal Pictures’ legendary monsters from the studio that pioneered the horror genre with imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror in unforgettable films from the ’30s to late-’50s.

From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. The collection showcases all the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre and showcase why these landmark movies that defined the horror genre are regarded as some of the most unforgettable ever to be filmed.

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes a 48-page collectible book filled with behind-the-scenes stories and rare production photographs and is accompanied by an array of bonus features including behind-the-scenes documentaries, the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula, Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce, 13 expert feature commentaries, archival footage, production photographs, theatrical trailers and more. The perfect gift for any scary movie fan, the collection offers an opportunity to experience some of the most memorable horror films of our time.

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The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection includes Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Werewolf of London (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1942), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), Invisible Agent (1942),Phantom of the Opera (1943), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Mummy’s Curse (1944), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), House of Dracula (1945), She-Wolf of London (1946), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, and includes a 3D version), Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955), Revenge of the Creature (1955 and includes a 3D


Oh! We cried when we heard that tk was releasing this must-have collection of rarely-seen shorts made by two of filmdom’s most marevlous comedians. Restored from the original negatives, Thelma Todd & ZaSu Pitts: The Hal Roach Collection 1931-1933 (Kit Parker Films) features sexy, pre-code two-reel comedies showcasing Todd’s timeless beauty and impeccable comedic ability that wowed audiences during the Depression, tickling their funny bones as well.

The vivacious, talented and lovely Todd was Roach’s top female comedian, who in her short 29-year lifetime graced more than  100 films. This collection brings together all of the films from her collaboration with Pitts, a veteran character actress with wonderful comedy timing and delightful comedic gestures who proves a fine comic foil for the blonde beauty. These two-reel short comedies also feature the wonderful Hal Roach stock company of comedians: Billy Gilbert, James C. Morton, Charlie Hall, Anita Garvin, Bud Jamison, and others, as well as special collaborations with other top Hal Roach stars like Laurel and Hardy and Charley Chase.

More classic shorts can be found in ClassicFlix’s The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection. For the first time on home video come all 21 of Hal Roach’s two-reelers starring the lovely Thelma Todd and the pugnacious Patsy Kelly.

These timeless shorts showcase the incredible comedic talents of an unsung duo who simply wanted to make audiences laugh—and succeeded.

Still more classic comedy can be found in Kit Parker Films’ Charley Chase: At Hal Roach: The Talkies Volume One 1930-31. Chase was a consistent box-office money and fun-maker for Roach during the silent and sound Eras.Charley Chase: At Hal Roach: The Talkies Volume One 1930-31

Volume One is the beginning of the first comprehensive collection of Chase’s Roach talkie comedies, culled from 1930-31, years in which many of his films featured Charley’s frequent leading lady the lovely and vivacious Thelma Todd.


The box set De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films showcases the actor on the big screen for the first time and highlights the beginnings of his wonderful relationship with the legendary director. De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films [Limited Edition Blu-ray]The collection includes three films from the iconic duo—The Wedding PartyGreetings and Hi, Mom!—all of which have been newly restored by Arrow Video. Bonus treasures include brand-new interviews, commentaries, trailers, artwork and writings. Don’t miss!


Missing your favorite pals from Bayside High? It’s alright, ’cause you’re Saved by the Bell. On October 2,  Shout! Factory invites TV aficionados to a very special class reunion with the 16-disc collector’s release of Saved by the Bell: The Complete Collection, a DVD set of the iconic and addictive ’90s Saturday morning sitcom.

Set in the fictional town of Palisades, California and in the hallways of Bayside High, the breezy adventures of Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and his friends — Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), Jessie Myrtle Spano (Elizabeth Berkley), Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies), and Samuel “Screech” Powers (Dustin Diamond) — were a cultural touchstone for a generation of teens, changing teen programming forever and launching the careers of its break-out stars.
Now, home audiences can relive the laughter, lessons, and love all over again with this loaded set containing more than 46 incredible hours of Bayside bliss, including every episode from 1988’s Good Morning, Miss Bliss which became Saved By the Bell: The Junior High Years and the fan-favorite Saved by the Bell to Saved By the Bell: The College Years and the two feature-length TV movies that followed.
From 1989 to 1993, for a generation of TV viewers, Saved by the Bell was the show that perfectly echoed their lives in middle school and high school. Originally titled Good Morning, Miss Bliss with Hayley Mills in the title role, the first thirteen episodes of the series featured Zack, Screech, Lisa and Mr. Belding, and was based at John F. Kennedy Junior High in Indianapolis. Following its cancellation, NBC retooled the show as Saved by the Bell and the rest is history…and math, and science, and…

Across 86 glorious episodes, audiences followed the memorable experiences and adventures of Zack and the gang. And, following graduation, Zack, Kelly, Slater and Screech enrolled at California University where the successful franchise could matriculate with the prime-time sitcom, Saved by the Bell: The College Years. The series finally wrapped with two feature-length, prime time TV movies, Hawaiian Style, which brought the Bayside bunch to the Big Island for a wacky Waikiki adventure and Wedding in Las Vegas, which saw the on-again, off-again lovebirds Zack and Kelly make their relationship official on a day the gang will never forget.


Get ready for a laugh in the cult-classic comedy that has captured everyone’s hearts with The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Limited Edition (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). Fans can relive the hilariously freewheeling plot of one of the most beloved films of all-time with the twisted crime-comedy starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro. This is the perfect gift for any fan and the exclusive set includes a collectible bag, bowling ball pencil holder, polishing cloth and sweater packaging offering an experience like no other.The Big Lebowski 20 Beauty Shot.jpg

With unforgettable scenes and outrageous humor, The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Edition showcases hours of bonus features including retrospective documentaries, an interactive map, an in-depth look at the phenomenon known as the Lebowski Fest taking audiences deeper than ever before into the upside down world of “The Dude.”


For more than 50 years, The Three Stooges’ orgy of pie-throwing, eye-poking and head-bonking routines cracked up multiple generations.  They were the masters of mirth, merriment and mayhem, turning slapstick comedy into an art form. Now, one of the greatest comedy troupes of all time is here to poke, smack, slap and bonk their way onto your screens with The Best of Three Stooges.
Time Life has brought together the Stooges’ greatest hits in one exclusive collection.

The collection boasts 13 discs, in which viewers will yuk it up with more than 45 hours of knee-slapping content brought together for the very first time. The set features more than 45 hours of hysterics . . .including all the Columbia Pictures shorts (1934-1945); four feature films (the biopic The Three Stooges; Have Rocket, Will Travel; The Outlaws is Coming and Rockin’ in the Rockies); vintage animated cartoons, the 9-part documentary Hey Moe! Hey Dad! which takes fans behind the scenes with the family of The Three Stooges as they share never-before-seen footage and photos. The best of The Three Stooges is available only at ThreeStoogesDVDs.com


To celebrate the 100th birthday of television’s original genius, Shout factory has released an amazing collection of volumes of groundbreaking, rule-breaking, surreal and charmingly silly comedy of Ernie Kovacs. Included are more than 22 hours of decidedly offbeat entertainment from across his many television shows and specials, all of which showcase an utterly unique sensibility that has influenced such comedy institutions as Monty Python and SNL.Ernie Kovacs: The Centennial Edition
Featuring:
* Episodes From His Local And National Morning Shows
* Episodes From His NBC Prime-Time Show
* Kovacs On Music
* Five ABC TV Specials
* The Color Version of His Legendary Silent Show, Eugene
* His Award-Winning Commercials For Dutch Masters Cigars
* Short Films, Tributes, Rarities
* 18 Bonus Sketches Featuring Many Of His Most Beloved Characters
* 3 Complete Episodes of His Offbeat Game Show Take A Good Look
* A Pony For Chris: His Rare TV Pilot for Medicine Man Co-Starring Buster Keaton
* The Lively Arts, Featuring The Only Existing Filmed Solo Interview With Ernie Kovacs
* 2011 American Cinematheque Panel


Without Sid Caesar, comedy would have been a lot less funny.
In 1949, television was an infant technology. No one knew how long it would last . . . or whether it would last at all. A 27-year-old Broadway star, along with a team of writers and performers who would become legendary, including Imogene Coca, Nanette Fabray, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen, revolutionized sketch comedy by telling stories rooted in the human condition. They redefined television sketch comedy, and paved the way for landmark comedy shows like Saturday Night Live.

Sid Caesar The Works is a comprehensive five-disc collection of the best work of Caesar and his teams, beginning with The Admiral Broadway Review, through Your Show of Shows and Caesar’s Hour, and featuring many interviews and extras, including the 2014 Paley Center For Media Tribute with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Billy Crystal.


Uncensored, electric, intense and unfailingly hilarious, Robin Williams made it his life’s work to make people laugh–whether he was holding forth on culture, politics, the human body or drugs–with razor-sharp wit and insight.

Time Life, in conjunction with the Trustees of the Robin Williams Trust, celebrates his incomparable career with 
Robin Williams: Comic Genius  

Available exclusively at RobinWilliams.com, this definitive collection of Williams’ comedy highlights arrives as interest in his life and career increases in the wake of HBO’s critically acclaimed documentary, Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind from Emmy-winning director Marina Zenovich and Oscar-winning producer Alex Gibney, and Dave Itzkoff’s biography Robin, a New York Times best-seller.

Robin Williams: Comic Genius

The 22-disc collection spans Williams’ memorable 40-year career, from his uproarious turn as lovable alien Mork and his legendary HBO stand-up specials to his numerous appearances on late night.
Also available is a singular 12 disc collection featuring more than 60 performances and 30 hours of peerless comedy, along with a bonus disc containing the HBO documentary and the memory book.

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks The Best Celebrity Bios of the Year (Part Three)

The “Screen Classics” series published by the University Press of Kentucky continues to amaze, entertain and dazzle us. TK new books for 2017:
♥ Harry Langdon: King of Silent Comedy ($40) Among silent film comedians, three names stand out―Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd―but Langdon indisputably deserves to sit among them as the fourth “king.”  Langdon parlayed his pantomime talents, expressive eyes and childlike innocence into silent-era stardom. This in-depth biography, which features behind-the-scenes accounts and personal recollections compiled by Langdon’s late wife, Mabel, provides a full and thoughtful picture of this multifaceted entertainer and his meteoric rise and fall. Featuring never-before-published stories and photos from his immediate family, this biography is a fascinating and revealing look at an unsung silent film giant.
♥ 
He’s Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly ($39.95) A would-be baseball player and one-time law student, Kelly captured the nation’s imagination in so many great flicks. In the first written since the star’s death, authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson disclose new details of Kelly’s complex life. He's Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly (Screen Classics)Not only do they examine his contributions to the world of entertainment in depth, but they also consider his political activities―including his opposition to the Hollywood blacklist. The authors even confront Kelly’s darker side and explore his notorious competitive streak, his tendency to be a taskmaster on set and his multiple marriages.
♥ Anne Bancroft: A Life ($34.95) In the first biography to cover the entire scope of Bancroft’s life and career, Douglass K. Daniel brings together interviews with dozens of her friends and colleagues, never-before-published family photos, and material from film and theater archives to present a portrait of an artist who raised the standards of acting for all those who followed. Daniel reveals how, from a young age, Bancroft was committed to challenging herself and strengthening her craft. The book offers new insights into the life and career of a determined actress who left an indelible mark on the film industry while remaining true to her art.
Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood ($45) . When she was 17, La Marr’s behavior in Los Angeles nightclubs caused law enforcement to declare her “too beautiful” to be on her own in the city, and she was ordered to leave. When La Marr returned to Hollywood years later, her loveliness and raw talent caught the attention of producers and catapulted her to movie stardom. In five years, La Marr appeared in twenty-six films, yet by 1925―finding herself beset by numerous scandals, several failed marriages, a hidden pregnancy and personal prejudice based on her onscreen persona―she fell out of public favor. When she was diagnosed with a fatal lung condition, she continued to work, undeterred, until she collapsed on set. She died at the age of 29. Drawing on never-before-released diary entries, correspondence, and creative works, Sherri Snyder’s biography offers a valuable perspective on her contributions to silent-era Hollywood and the cinematic arts.
 
You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet: Interviews with Stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era ($36.95) Journalists James Bawden and Ron Miller spent their careers interviewing the greatest stars of Hollywood’s golden age. They visited Lee Marvin at home and politely admired his fishing trophies, chatted with Janet Leigh while a young Jamie Lee Curtis played, even made Elizabeth Taylor laugh out loud in a seven-minute chat. The book is filled with humorous anecdotes and incredible behind-the-scenes stories. Bette Davis reflects that she and Katharine Hepburn were both considered for the role of Scarlett O’Hara but neither was “gorgeous enough” for the part; Janet Leigh analyzes the famous shower scene in Psycho, which was shot in seven days and gave the actress nightmares for years; and Jimmy Stewart describes Alfred Hitchcock as a “strange, roly-poly man, interested only in blondes and murder.”

We have always been a fan of Julia Child. We are in love with France is a Feast (Thames & Hudson, $35), a volume of 250 intimate and compelling photographs taken by her husband Paul Child, a gifted photographer, that documents how Julia Child first discovered French cooking and the French way of life. Their wanderings through the French capital and countryside, frequently photographed by Paul, would help lead to the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Julia’s celebrated career in books and on television. Though Paul was an accomplished photographer (his work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art), his photographs remained out of the public eye until the publication of Julia’s memoir, My Life in France, in which several of his images were included. Now, with these photos and personal stories recounted by his great-nephew Alex Prud’homme, France is a Feast not only captures this magical period in Paul and Julia’s lives, but also brings to light Paul Child’s own remarkable photographic achievement. Merveilleux!

Tina Brown kept delicious daily diaries throughout her eight spectacular years as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. The pithy memoir-filled The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 (Henry Holt, $32) offer an incendiary portrait of the flash and dash and power brokering of the Excessive Eighties in New York and Hollywood. She was a woman of relentless drive and ambition; with a mere swipe of her pens (or compUter keys), she can stab the knife and twist it. Here are the inside stories of Vanity Fair scoops and covers that sold millions―the Reagan kiss, the meltdown of Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, the sensational Annie Leibovitz cover of a gloriously pregnant, naked Demi Moore. They are as acerbic as they are astute, even mean-spirited.  Who else can recall mega-agent Swifty Lazar as “tiny and bald and hairy in the wrong places”? Or socialite Betsy Bloomingdale as someone who “has the wind-tunnel look of a recent face-lift”?  Diss-light!

In the early 1930s, during the worst drought and financial depression in American history, Sam Babb recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: A free college education in exchange for playing on his basketball team, the Cardinals. Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices that their families would face, the women joined the team. And as Babb coached the Cardinals, something extraordinary happened. These remarkable athletes found a passion for the game and a heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach. And they began to win. Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory (Algonquin Books, $16.95) takes readers on the Cardinals’ intense, improbable journey all the way to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, helmed by the legendary Babe Didrikson.

Those who knew Sid Luft, the producer and third husband of Judy Garland, knew he was an ego maniac who emotional abused his wife. In Judy and I: My Life With Judy Garland (Chicago review Press, $30), he proves he has no filter when it comes to talking about women: Judy’s mother is “fat and dumpy”; Judy’s sisters are “ugly”; and Judy was a “helium head” since her face was so fat. because her face was so fat. Yet he produced A Star is Born and fought to keep her sober and drug-free.  We enjoyed the book, even if he doesn’t get into their marriage until half-way through the pages. There are nice touches (she didn’t use nail polish) and Judy fans will relish the book. Maybe.

Cheech Marin came of age at an interesting time in America and became a self-made counterculture legend with his other half, Tommy Chong. The insightful Cheech is Not My Real Name . . . But Don’t Call Me Chong (Grand Central Publishing, $27) delves into how Cheech dodged the draft, formed one of the most successful comedy duos of all time, became the face of the recreational drug movement with the film Up in Smoke, forged a successful solo career with roles in The Lion King and, more recently, Jane the Virgin, and became the owner of the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the world.  Written in Cheech’s uniquely hilarious voice, this memoir (do we dare?) will take you to new highs

In a career spanning more than 30 years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night (Harper, $28.99), Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy.Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.

In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Gabrielle  Union—a 44-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: “It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real.” We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True by [Union, Gabrielle]We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated and True (Dey Street Books, $26.99) is a collection of thought-provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor; Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism and fame as she bravely lays herself bare.

We hate him. So does most of America. So does Katy Tur. Called “disgraceful,” “third-rate,” and “not nice” by Arnold Frump, the NBC News correspondent reported on—and took flak from—the most captivating and volatile presidential candidate in American history. She lived out of a suitcase for a year and a half, following Frump around the country, powered by packets of peanut butter and kept clean with dry shampoo. She visited 40 states with the candidate, made more than 3,800 live television reports, and tried to endure a gazillion loops of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”—a Frump rally playlist staple. From day 1 to day 500, Tur documented Trump’s inconsistencies, fact-checked his falsities and called him out on his lies. In return, Trump repeatedly singled Tur out. He tried to charm her, intimidate her and shame her. At one point, he got a crowd so riled up against Tur, Secret Service agents had to walk her to her car. None of it worked. Facts are stubborn. So was Tur. She was part of the first women-led politics team in the history of network news. Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (Dey Street Books, $26.99) is her darkly comic, fascinatingly bizarre, and often scary story of how America sent a former reality show host to the White House. It’s also the story of what it was like for Tur to be there as it happened, inside a no-rules world where reporters were spat on, demeaned and discredited. Impeach the asshole NOW.

In November of 1954 a young woman dressed plainly in a white oxford, dark sunglasses and a black pageboy wig boards a midnight flight from Los Angeles to New York. As the plane’s engines rev she breathes a sigh of relief, lights a cigarette and slips off her wig revealing a tangle of fluffy blonde curls. Marilyn Monroe was leaving Hollywood behind, and along with it a failed marriage and a frustrating career. She needed a break from the scrutiny and insanity of LA. She needed Manhattan. In Manhattan, the most famous woman in the world can wander the streets unbothered, spend hours at the Met getting lost in art, and afternoons buried in the stacks of the Strand. Marilyn begins to live a life of the mind in New York; she dates Arthur Miller, dances with Truman Capote and drinks with Carson McCullers. Even though she had never lived there before, in New York, Marilyn is home. A true love letter to Marilyn, and a joyous portrait of a city bursting with life and art, Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy (Flatiron Books, $27.99) is a  lively look at two American treasures: New York and Marilyn Monroe, and sheds new light on one of our most enduring icons.

Bunny Mellon, who died in 2014 at age 103, was press-shy during her lifetime. But with the co-operation of Bunny Mellon’s family, author Meryl Gordon received access to thousands of pages of her letters, diaries and appointment calendars and has interviewed more than 175 people to capture the spirit of this talented American original in Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend (Grand Central Publishing, $28). Whoever knew the life story of a  style icon and American aristocrat who designed the White House Rose Garden for her friend JFK and served as a living witness to 20th Century American history could be so riveting?

Fred Hersch’s prodigious talent as a sideman—a pianist who played with the giants of the twentieth century in the autumn of their careers, including Art Farmer and Joe Henderson—blossomed further in the ’80s and beyond into a compositional genius that defied the boundaries of bop, sweeping in elements of pop, classical, and folk to create a wholly new music. Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of Jazz (Crown Archetype , $28) is his memoir. It’s the story of the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz player; a deep look into the cloistered jazz culture that made such a status both transgressive and groundbreaking; and a profound exploration of how Hersch’s two-month-long coma in 2007 led to his creating some of the finest, most direct, and most emotionally compelling music of his career.

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books, $35) Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder’s tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.
A perfect companion: In Caroline: Little House, Revisited (William Morrow, $25.99), Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction that was authorized by Little House Heritage Trust. It’s a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient and loving pioneer woman as never before: Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books. For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

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