Tuesday, October 6, 2015


In his Hollywood heyday, actor Tab Hunter was described as "6 feet of rugged manhood."  The description was accurate.  No wonder the teen fan girls swooned over him in the 1950s.  Tab Hunter was one gorgeous hunk o' man.        
Under contract to Warner Brothers, he was ripe movie star material.  He got a role in a war drama, a role James Dean and Paul Newman also tested for.  He had hit records.  He sang opposite Jane Powell in a special CBS TV adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis, the classic MGM musical that starred Judy Garland.  Tab Hunter's boy-next-door face graced magazine covers. He shared movie screen time with A-list actresses such as Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Natalie Wood, Dorothy Malone and Sophia Loren.                                                                                          
Not bad for a guy who was an introverted, shy, Catholic kid.  Off-screen, the public had no idea that actor Anthony Perkins was Hunter's boyfriend.  Publicity photos in fan magazines showed Hunter with a girlfriend.  We hear from her in the documentary.
That's just part of the story we learn in TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL.  It's a very interesting, revealing, heartbreaking and heartwarming celebrity documentary.  It's tastefully done.  The archive footage is really good.  Hunter, still handsome in his 80s, speaks honestly and openly about surviving the Hollywood studio system as a gay man.  Society and the entertainment industry were different when he was a top star.
Today, there are dozens of openly gay performers making money on TV.  Network news anchors, network morning show hosts, daytime TV hosts, prime time TV show actors and reality show celebrities.  William Hurt, Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, Charlize Theron and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman won Oscars for playing gay characters.  Today's freedom to be gay or to play a gay character must not be taken lightly by our younger generation.  That personal and artistic freedom was denied a previous generation like Tab Hunter's.  Rumors of being gay in 1950s Hollywood could kill a promising career.  When Rosie O'Donnell and I were VH1 veejays in the late 1980s, she advised me against coming out publicly for fear it would cripple my chances to get future employment in TV.  That's the way things were.  The 1990s saw major changes start to happen.  Before his career hit big, he'd gotten busted by the cops for being at a Hollywood party.  The crime?  Same-sex dancing. Yes.  Gay couples dancing together was illegal then and homosexuality was considered a mental disease.  The actor felt the sting of discrimination when he dated other men.  Tab Hunter Confidential is very insightful.  His story is still relevant.
Back then, Hollywood movie studios were still big businesses ruled by studio heads.  Images were manufactured for actors under contract and the actors were protected by the studios.  Hunter's movie name was inspired by his love for horses, as you'll learn. Hunter was more talented than people knew.  He worked in stables and was quite a horseman.  He was a good ice skater.  He worked hard to grow from one-dimensional heartthrob movie star into a commendable actor of depth in a competitive business.  Did you ever see Fear Strikes Out, the 1957 baseball drama biopic about Jimmy Piersall, the Boston Red Sox player who suffered a nervous breakdown?  Wait till you get to that section of the documentary.

By the time I was twelve, I had already memorized all the numbers and large sections of dialogue from the Warner Bros. movie version of the Broadway musical comedy hit, Damn Yankees.  The studio purchased that property for Tab.  With his All-American good looks, the part of the shy, young baseball phenom fit him like a glove.  And Tab Hunter got to perform choreography by Bob  Fosse!  Damn Yankees, co-starring Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston, was one of my favorite films to show up frequently on local Channel 9's Million Dollar Movie in L.A. when I was a kid.  I loved that movie.  I still do. It makes me happy.  Tab Hunter was so totally cool -- and cute -- as Joe Hardy.   
Tab's complicated parents, the brother he adored, the Catholic church that disappointed him, the studio that made him, the tabloids, the heartbreaks and the tender romances.  They're all here in Tab Hunter Confidential directed by Jeffrey Schwarz.
Tab Hunter Confidential is one of the best Tab Hunter features I've ever seen -- and, ironically, it's a documentary that touches on the Hollywood homophobia that kept him from becoming the even bigger star that he deserved to be.  The late Rock Hudson, also gay and a major movie star, got a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his dramatic work in 1956's Giant, showed a gift for modern-day screwball comedy in box office hits co-starring Doris Day (Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back, Send Me No Flowers), and he was worthy of a second Oscar nomination for his fine work in the 1966 science-fiction social drama, Seconds.  Hudson was luckier than Hunter, script-wise.  NBC should've starred the mature Hunter in a crime-solving mystery series like James Garner's The Rockford Files and Rock Hudson's McMillan & Wife which ran from 1971 to 1977.  But, according to the documentary, Hunter was sort of a sacrificial lamb when an item about his gay personal life was given to a tawdry but influential gossip publication.

Classic film fans will get a sure-fire kick out of seeing some of the folks who appear and talk about the Tab Hunter they know.  You'll see Rona Barrett (before Entertainment Tonight, there was network entertainment reporter Rona Barrett), Robert Wagner, Don Murray (Marilyn Monroe's leading man in Bus Stop), Mother Dolores Hart (the former film actress Dolores Hart of Where The Boys Are who left Hollywood at the height of her popularity to become a nun), Darryl Hickman (Leave Her to Heaven) and Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young and Peyton Place).

I've liked Tab Hunter for many years.  There were quite a few things I didn't know about him that are in this documentary.  At the end, Tab Hunter Confidential made me like him a whole lot more.  I love that he found a fulfilling life away from the Hollywood spotlight.  Tab Hunter Confidential opens October 16th in selected cities.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Robert De Niro is THE INTERN

Nancy Meyers wrote and directed THE INTERN.  I do not mean this as a jab.  Her comedies are great in-flight movies.  They are.  You have a flight that's three hours or more.  A Nancy Meyers light comedy will make a couple of hours glide by.  She's not giving you Chinatown, Network or The Piano.  She may have directed a movie called It's Complicated, but her films aren't. They're packed with fabulous retail eye-candy and architecture porn.  You're assured a happy ending and enjoyable performances.  Her comedies make good date movies and, I bet, a couple of them are guilty pleasure pastimes for guys.  Back in 2003, I was at a cineplex in Manhattan's Chelsea section.  A big burly Latino dude, the kind of guy who would've been cast as a prison guard on HBO's Oz, turned to his lady friend and said, "What was the name of that movie we saw that I like so much?"  She answered, "Something's Gotta Give." A Nancy Meyers comedy starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.  Meyers directed Keaton to a Best Actress Oscar nomination.  I dig that movie too.  And I still feel that the late Eli Wallach should've received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his tasty turn as a Hollywood veteran in Nancy Meyers' The Holiday.  He stole the 2006 movie with his wise and witty performance.  The Intern is another Robert De Niro "sweater comedy."  He's not the tough guy of mean streets like in Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas.  He's wearing more suburban attire and playing against his tough screen image, like he did in the comedy, Meet the Parents.  De Niro is a friendly AARP papa figure in this film.
People in Nancy Meyers comedies have fabulous bedrooms and living rooms.  Minority moviegoers, such as myself, can look at characters in Nancy Meyers features and say, "Damn.  White folks live really well -- even when they ain't workin'."  Their homes look ready to be photographed for a glossy catalogue of home furnishings.  Their kitchens have refrigerators the size of the monolith in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Robert De Niro plays the very likable Ben, a retired 70 year old gent who gets a job as an intern.  Retirement bores him.  He's a widower. He lives alone.  He has more ties in his closet that I saw in some Banana Republic stores.  And, yes, he has a nice bedroom.
Ben is smooth.  Like two fingers of top shelf Scotch.  He doesn't butt in to one's affairs to fix things.  But fix things, he can.  Anne Hathaway stars as Jules.  She's the sweetly fussy and somewhat overwhelmed head of an online fashion company.  Jules is a bit skeptical of Ben, but she embraces age diversity in the workplace.  You know immediately that the intern will make his boss' life better -- at work and at home.  You know that the younger employees will come to dig Ben a lot.  Meyers, in her comedies, shows that folks 50 and over can be hip versus hip replacement.  The Intern is no exception.  Ben is mentally sharp, he's experienced, he's classy, he gives excellent advice and he's sexy to an older female fellow employee, played by the always delicious Rene Russo.                                              
De Niro even goes a little Taxi Driver as he shuttles his young co-worker buddies.
In the early 1940s, this would've been a comedy starring Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn as the older gent who turns out to be somewhat of a Cupid.  Think of the Arthur and Coburn chemistry in The Devil and Miss Jones  and The More the Merrier.  
This film is slightly The Devil Wears Prada 2 with the assistant now a boss herself, still struggling with her confidence while trying to balance work and home life.  There's some discord in Jules' marriage to her stay-at-home dad husband.  Papa figure Ben will help.

Can a female in New York balance an upscale career and a marriage?  Well, the 1942 Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy comedy, Woman of the Year, showed that it's absolutely do-able.  So, theme-wise, this isn't anything new.  However, Meyers wraps a nice little tale of young women's empowerment up in some beige tissue paper and puts it in a decorative beige bag with a copy of AARP Magazine.  There is a gentle moment  with Ben and Jules -- he's watching a classic movie musical on TV -- that made my eyes a little misty.  I knew exactly what he, a widower, was feeling in that scene.  I've been there.  The Intern is not a great film that would whip noted critics into an Oscar buzz frenzy.  But there's something to be said for likable, courteous movie characters making you smile and taking you to a happy ending nowadays.

Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway work well together.  The Intern has its humor and charm.  A nice pastime, a perfect in-flight movie.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Matt Damon, My Favorite Martian

Matt Damon has proven his actor and screenwriter skills in a film career that goes from MYSTIC PIZZA in 1988 to his new space thriller, THE MARTIAN.  He had a bit part in Mystic Pizza.  He's the star of The Martian.  And, oh yes, he won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay to Good Will Hunting, the 1997 drama that brought a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar to the late Robin Williams.  Damon himself was an Oscar nominee in that same category for 2009's Invictus.  Damon's new movie is a terrific space thrill ride.  He's an American astronaut, a member of a Mars exploratory mission team, who gets left behind on the planet when a huge, dangerous storm suddenly approaches and the team must take off for safety.  It looked as though Damon's character died when he was hit by debris that the storm turned into deadly projectiles.  He wasn't dead.  How will he reunite with his team in space?  Will he ever get back to the planet Earth?  The Martian, besides its good acting and exciting scenes, is also a great commercial for potatoes and duct tape.  Trust me on this.                                    
For much of the film, Damon is acting solo.  He's alone on Mars, a brutal planet.  He's a botanist who must figure out how to survive.
To me, there are other stars in this movie, a movie that more delightfully subversive than it probably intended to be.  Like Gravity, this science-fiction thriller is getting Oscar buzz.  Sandra Bullock starred in Gravity with George Clooney.  In a way, Gravity was Speed in Space.  Bullock played a woman behind the wheel of a vehicle that's out-of-control.  The voice of a helpful, heroic man guides her to safety.  The Martian has more in common with Tom Hanks' Cast Away.  Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is in a situation in which everything "goes South," as he says.  Everything's gone wrong.  When that happens, as he also says, "You just begin."  You figure out one problem. And then another.  You don't give up hope. That's the spine of this movie.  You root for Mark Watney to "science the hell" out of his predicament.
Help must also come from the NASA team back on Earth.  Pay attention to the brilliance of young team member Rich Purnell played wonderfully by Donald Glover.  He's a passionate brainiac, probably over-stimulated by coffee.  But he's definitely someone you want on your team when a major crisis arises.                                                                                                                                          

Look at Rich Purnell, a NASA expert on astro-dynamics, and think of this young gentlemen recently in the news because of his high school project -- a harmless project that got him handcuffed and taken out of his Texas classroom:

Ahmed Mohamed is the high school science student arrested last month when Irvington, Texas teachers thought the clock he made was a bomb.  The high school freshman science whiz was later contacted by President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

The Martian was directed by Ridley Scott.  Just like Alien, his innovative 1979 hit that changed the game of the sci-fi horror genre, The Martian has a woman commander in space.  In space, you can have gender and racial equality.  In Alien, we had Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, a great action hero who proved to Hollywood that women can be action movie heroes in lead roles.  In The Martian, we've got Jessica Chastain as Commander Melissa Lewis.                                                                                

She's military and a damn good commander, loyal to each member of her crew and whip smart.  Chastain makes that role her own.  The cast includes Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Peña, Kristen Wiig and Kate Mara.

In Cast Away, the Tom Hanks character struggled to survive on an uncharted, faraway island and return to the woman he loved, a woman played by Helen Hunt.  Maybe I missed it, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Mark Watney on Mars.  He's a loner on earth.  He doesn't appear to have a girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or child that he longs to hold again.  He has his parents.  Watney is close to his crew. Damon does a fine job in solo action.  I've heard Oscar buzz for his performance.  We'll see if he gets the Oscar nomination for a space thriller that Sam Rockwell should've gotten for 2009's Moon directed by Duncan Jones.

In its way, The Martian shows what can be accomplished in this world -- and in outer space -- when you embrace gender and racial diversity.  Notice the people of color and the number of women who contribute to the rescue mission.  There's very brief nudity and some 4-letter words.  Heck, if I was lost in space, made contact with my company back on earth and learned that it hadn't sent a rescue team to come get me, I'd be using some 4-letter words too.  It's PG-13 and runs 2 hours and 21 minutes.  The Martian has a clever use of disco classics.  In my audiences, we baby boomers laughed a lot at the disco classic choice for the closing credits.  It was inspired.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kim and The Pope. Oh, Lord!

First of all, every time I see "KY clerk Kim Davis," it takes me a second to remember that KY stands for Kentucky -- and that she's not selling a lubricant.  Kim Davis is currently famous as the Kentucky clerk who broke the law and did not do her job when she refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
She refused to follow orders from the Supreme Court based on her personal religious views in the public workplace.
In regards to her image, it didn't help matters any that Fashion Police could've arrested her for impersonating Kathy Bates in Stephen King's Misery.

This week came the jaw-dropping news that she had secret meeting with the pope in Washington, DC during his recent trip to America.

Here's something I noticed.  Paula Faris of ABC was the first TV reporter to score an exclusive interview with Kim Davis.  It aired on ABC's World News Tonight and repeated on Good Morning America.                                                                                                                                              
Then, Good Morning America had an exclusive interview with Davis in which she revealed that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis when he was in the U.S. last week.  Davis' current husband accompanied her on the trip.  He's the one in the overalls.
I wondered why the Holy Father needed to meet with her and why he didn't meet with her in public so that the press could see.  Did the pope posse feel that being seen with her in public would disrupt the good vibes of his U.S. visit during the visit?  Heck, Pope Francis was onstage in Philadelphia with Mark Wahlberg -- "Dirk Diggler" from Boogie Nights, a movie that I still feel should've had Happy Meal action figures as a marketing tie-in during its theatrical release.

Also, who got Kim Davis and her husband from Kentucky to Washington, DC for that quick, clandestine meeting?  Did they get a great last-minute deal on Delta and book themselves?  Or did someone or some company take care of their travel arrangements?  And why did we get news of the Kim Davis meeting with the Holy Father after The Pope left America and had returned to Vatican City?  We didn't know about it when he addressed the U.N., when he visited Harlem or when he took to the stage in Philadelphia to enjoy some family entertainment.  I'd have loved to meet Pope Francis.  I was baptized a Roman Catholic soon after my birth.  I've not read or heard that Kim Davis is Catholic.  But, somehow, she got to the pope.  Reportedly in private.  In Washington, DC.

Did Pope Francis know about the Kim Davis controversy before he flew here to America?  Was it a big news story in Italy like it was here in the U.S.?  How much was he told about her and who told it to him before he and she met?  And how did ABC News land two exclusive interviews with the conservative Christian Davis?

A member of the controversial Duck Dynasty family of cable reality show fame was a contestant on ABC's Dancing With The Stars.  The head of the Duck Dynasty family made some loathsome anti-gay remarks that made national press, such as Huffington Post.  He got suspended from his hit A&E cable TV series.  A&E is owned by ABC/Disney.  The Duck Dynasty DWTS contestant briefly addressed that controversy before her fox trot.

Joel Osteen is a highly popular TV pastor, very telegenic, who's been a frequent guest on Good Morning America.  His show airs weekends on the ABC Family channel.  I've never heard the friendly Pastor Osteen make an anti-gay remark.  But, like Kim Davis and the Duck Dynasty daddy, he doesn't agree with same-sex marriage.  He believes in Christian compassion for gay people but he keeps pretty mum on the Supreme Court ruling.

So, with all that ABC thread, do you think Kim Davis has been asked to consider a fashion makeover and a twirl on Dancing With The Stars a year from now?  Keep in mind these are just my observations as an average TV viewer.  I am not a journalist.  But I do wonder if a journalist has noticed the same things.  Kentucky clerk Kim Davis on Dancing With The Stars doing a tango to "Jesus Is Just Alright" by The Doobie Brothers.  Think about it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I'll not be surprised if SPOTLIGHT gets an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  This is one engrossing journalism drama based on a true story.  Michael Keaton stars.  I've been a Michael Keaton since his movie comedy and short-lived TV sitcom days back in the 1980s.  He was the main reason why I saw Birdman.  In that movie, he was a former movie star who hit a career lull in middle age.  He turns to the Broadway stage to reinvent himself.  In that regard, Birdman was just like the classic Vincente Minnelli musical comedy, 1953's The Band Wagon starring Fred Astaire.  The big difference is that, in the wonderful Minnelli musical, the whole company of the show starts off with production that is in shambles.  By the end, they'd all come together as a unit to turn into a hit and sing "That's Entertainment."  In Birdman, the fellow cast members are in an individual orbit and never come together as a unit we come to love.  But Keaton's character in the drama is successful at reinventing himself.  In Spotlight, his character heads a group of workers who do come together, who do work hard as a unit, and they're all on the same page.
If you couldn't quite connect to the surreality of Birdman, I believe you'll like this straight-forward film a whole lot more with its fine Keaton performance.  Michael Keaton's performance in Spotlight could get him some Golden Globe or Oscar nomination consideration.  Rachel McAdams is an actress I've liked but I always felt she was used mainly as "the babe," if you know what I mean.  She was in Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers, The Family Stone and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.  She was a total treat in 2007's Married Life, a movie that tanked at the box office but didn't deserve to.
More about that later.  I've never seen Rachel McAdams better than she is as the tireless, determined newspaper reporter for The Boston Globe in Spotlight.  You feel that this woman had definitely worn down some shoe heels and acquired a few blisters doing footwork to meet people, ask questions, get answers, endure rude behavior and otherwise investigate a story.  She's so alive and focused in this unglamorous role.
In Boston, a very Catholic city, this small group of print reporters is assigned to investigate a story.  What seemed like a minor assignment from the new boss builds into a David versus Goliath case.  The Goliath is the Catholic Archdiocese.  The Boston Globe broke the local story of sex abuse scandals, molestations of young males committed by priests, that were covered up by the Catholic Church.  It grew into a much bigger story.  A national one.  The title refers to the Boston newspaper's investigative unit.
Spotlight does not open until early November, so I'll save a total review for that time.  But, should you be offered a chance to attend a preview of this movie, definitely go.  I think you'll really dig it.  The excellent cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Billy Crudup and Stanley Tucci. Keaton plays the head of the investigative news team.
If you liked Alan J. Pakula's 1976 film, All the President's Men, put Spotlight in the same category.  It's a great reminder of what journalists did before social media and 24-hour cable news channels changed journalism after the attacks of September 11th.  These reporters do extensive footwork, drive used cars, spend hours in libraries, talk to people in person, go through files and files of information and put in long hours at work.  Much of it is tedious work.   They couldn't Tweet and reTweet.  They had to go beyond Google and Wikipedia for information.  And you can tell that they did it for the passion and love they had for the profession.  These weren't folks making star salaries.  They were working class professionals with families and attachments to the Catholic Church.

The story of this news team in Spotlight also becomes one of redemption.  I'll save that for when the movie opens.  Spotlight was written and directed by Tom McCarthy.  He gave three other fine films -- The Station Agent starring Peter Dinklage, The Visitor which earned Richard Jenkins a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and the high school wrestling drama, Win Win starring Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan.

To see an earlier Rachel McAdams performance that I found most entertaining, rent 2007's Married Life.  A true gentleman, middle-aged and married, has fallen in love with a younger woman.  He can't bear the thought of breaking his wife's heart by asking for a divorce, so he plans to kill her.  He believes that would be more genteel.  Married Life is so...so French.  You'll be surprised at how stylish, bright and witty this movie is.  Set in the 1940s, it stars Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson and Chris Cooper.  Rachel McAdams plays Kay, the younger woman. The movie runs only about 90 minutes and -- as usual -- Patricia Clarkson is fabulous.  Here's a trailer.

Thanks for reading my blog post.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Emmy Winner Viola Davis

That victory was so significant.  Viola Davis is the first black woman to win the Emmy Award for Best  Lead Actress in a Drama Series.  The first.  And Emmys have been around since 1949.  For performers of color who've had to scuffle because the playing field of opportunity has not been a level one, it was a victory for us all.  Brava, Viola!
I've written previously that Viola Davis has already made Hollywood history.  She and Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg are the only two black women who have more than one Oscar nomination to their credits.  That's not a statement on talent.  It's a statement on Hollywood's lack of opportunities for black actresses even after some of those actresses have gotten Oscar nominations or won the award.  Whoopi was a Best Actress nominee for The Color Purple.  She won Best Supporting Actress for Ghost.  I worked with Whoopi for two years.  We talked about that.  Her mailbox was not flooded with script offers after her first Oscar nomination.  With The Color Purple nomination to her credit, she could not get an audition for Ghost.  The producers refused to see her.  Whoopi told me that they saw several other actresses but would not see her. Patrick Swayze was the star of the project.  He told the producers to let Whoopi audition or else he'd pull out of the project.  She auditioned, she got the part, Ghost was a big box office hit, and she won an Oscar

Viola Davis was a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for playing the conflicted mother of a Catholic school elementary student in Doubt.  She was a Best Actress nominee for playing a 1960s Southern maid in The Help.  Like Whoopi Goldberg and like three stars of TV's Empire -- Taraji P. Henson, Gabourey Sidibe and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson -- Viola Davis turned to television because Hollywood had no good scripts for her.  She took a TV role not written specifically for a black woman.  The role was Annalise on ABC's HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.  Annalise is a brilliant professor of law.  She's also a married woman with a complicated, messy personal life that makes for juicy TV.  Annalise has a life that involves a murder.

How To Get Away With Murder became an instant hit series.  And then this happened on Sunday night, September 20th.  Listen to the acceptance speech.
Viola Davis thanked writer/producer/powerhouse Shonda Rhimes and producer Peter Nowalk for having the imagination to embrace diversity and consider her.  That embrace led to Emmy Awards history being made.
I worked with Whoopi Goldberg on a national weekday morning radio show.  I reviewed movies every Friday.  One movie I saw was the September 11th drama, World Trade Center, a 2006 film from Oliver Stone.  Nicolas Cage, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Mario Bello were the stars.  But there was an actress who had a bit part as a mother in a hospital whose brief performance went through me like sweet electricity.  She was, to me, the heart of that movie. Her performance was a statement on what we should all keep in mind about those we love. I stayed through the closing credits to see her name.  "Mother in Hospital" was played by...Viola Davis.  And then came Doubt followed by The Help on the big screen.

Not that it needs to me remade.  Who could top the original starring Bette Davis?  But...could you imagine a new All About Eve with Viola Davis as Broadway legend Margo Channing and Oscar winer Lupita Nyong'o as Eve Harrington?  And if Meryl Streep had not been available to do The Devil Wears Prada, Viola Davis would've been fabulous with a capital F as fear-inducing fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly.

From Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters and Dorothy Dandridge to Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Diahann Carroll, Diana Ross, Mo'Nique, Best Actress Oscar winner Halle Berry and Viola's Best Supporting Oscar-winning co-star from The Help, Octavia Spencer and Lupita Nyong'o...those are some of the black actresses who received only one Oscar nomination in their film careers.  As I've also previously mentioned. the talented Jennifer Lawrence has 3 Oscar nominations, she's taken home one Oscar for Best Actress and she's only 25.  Lawrence has many opportunities.

I do believe that, in time, Broadway Tony winner and TV Emmy winner Viola Davis will make Hollywood history again as the first black woman to have three Oscar nominations to her credit.  A new season of How To Get Away With Murder starts Thursday night, Sept. 24th, on ABC.

Monday, September 14, 2015


I say this as an ordinary TV viewer:  "NBC loves the GOP!"  When news broke yesterday that Arnold Schwarzenegger will replace Donald Trump as host of NBC's CELEBRITY APPRENTICE, a few folks on Twitter felt it was an odd choice.  I think it's a booking that fits well with NBC's history.  What a successful immigrant he is!  Born in Austria, he was a competitive bodybuilder whose muscles and accent got attention.
He took his biceps and recognizable accent to the big screen and proved to have muscle at the box office as Conan the Barbarian...
...and as The Terminator in a money-making film franchise...
...and even as Kindergarten Cop, one of his switches from action movies to comedies.
Arnold became an international movie star.  Like something in a Hollywood screenplay, he married into a political dynasty.  When he said "I do" to NBC journalist Maria Shriver, he married into the Kennedy Clan, famous and famously wealthy Democrats.

NBC  used to have a beaming red GE sign atop 30 Rock.  In those days, there seemed to be a reverence in the  way the network's Today Show did segments on the late President Ronald Reagan.  Reagan was once a Hollywood movie actor who became the TV host of General Electric Theater in the 1950s before he turned to politics.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, like former actor Ronald Reagan, became the Republican Governor of California.
When there was speculation that Schwarzenegger would throw his hat into the political ring and run for that office, news outlets expected him to make the announcement in a press conference.  In fact, one was scheduled.  Then it was cancelled.  Some reporters thought that the actor had changed his mind about politics.  He hadn't.  He made the announcement.  Where?  On NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Sarah Palin was a guest co-host on NBC's Today Show in 2012.  Chris Christie performed in a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch ("Weekend  Update") and he was really good.  So good, in fact, that if the Republic Gov. of New Jersey quit politics, I bet NBC would offer him some kind of on-camera gig.  Recently, Christie was a guest on NBC's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  So was Donald Trump.  Remember when Trump kept demanding that President Obama show up his birth certificate and we claiming that Mr. President was not a real American?  I thought that disrespect would get him fired as host of Celebrity Apprentice.  But it didn't.  One more observation about Chris Christie -- if he wasn't in political office and if Arnold was unavailable, I bet NBC would've tapped Christie to host Celebrity Apprentice.  His SNL appearance was a good audition for that spot.

And don't forget those two members of the Bush Family.  Access Hollywood host Billy Bush has two relatives who were the top men in the Oval Office.  Billy was a morning rock radio DJ in Washington, DC.  He didn't have any journalism background, entertainment reporter credits or TV experience.  Nonetheless, he got hired by the local news bosses of WNBC and made his TV debut doing light local lifestyle pieces for WNBC morning news viewers.  Four months later, he's doing pieces for the network's Today Show.  A couple of months after that, he starts doing pieces on NBC's Access Hollywood.  He's now the host of that entertainment news show.  Jenna Bush Hager didn't have TV credentials or a journalism background either.  But that didn't keep her from being hired by NBC News.  She's now a member of the Today Show on-camera team.  Jenna and Billy had the right stuff for NBC.

That's why the Schwarzenegger hiring is not strange to me.  That's my observation as an ordinary viewer who has watched NBC for a long, long time and noticed those things.  We may not have seen it coming, but he's the kind of talent the network would dig.  Will he say to good apprentices "You'll be back" and will he say to the bad ones "You're...terminated"?  We'll have to watch and see.

Actor Elliott Gould hit a homer as one of the several actors who played private eye Philip Marlowe onscreen.  He played Marlowe in the Southern California of the 1970s, the California with Ronald Reagan as the state's governor.  There's talk about Gov. Reagan in Robert Altman's 1973 mystery, The Long Goodbye.  In one scene with mention of Gov. Reagan, who could've known at the time that one of the extras would be a major movie star in the 1980s and was himself the future governor of California?  Take a look.
The hiring of Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the new host of Celebrity Apprentice makes perfect sense for NBC.  Personally, I hoped the network would replace Donald Trump with a Mexican...like comedian George Lopez.  But that's just me.