Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar; Act 4, Scene 3).

Category: Television (Page 1 of 10)

World Premiere of Showtime’s “I’m Dying Up Here!” at SXSW

Genre: Dramedy (drama with comic overtones)

Length: 59 minutes

Writer: Dave Flebotte from the William Knoedelseder book

Executive Producer:
Michael Aguilar, Jim Carrey

Cast: Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Andrew Santino, Erik Griffin, Al Madrigal

Reviewer:
Connie Wilson

Melissa Leo as Goldie in “I’m Dying Up Here!”

The cast of “I’m Dying Up Here” came to SXSW to answer questions about the much-anticipated Showtime drama series that is loosely based on Mitzi Shore’s The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. A book by William Knoedelseder was the basis for the superlative writing from head writer Dave Flebotte. The pilot episode was directed by Jonathan Levine (“Warm Bodies,” “50/50”) and will premiere on the network on Sunday, June 4th, 2017.

With Jim Carrey as one of the Executive Producers of the serious treatment of being funny, the series delves into the inspired, damaged and complicated psyches of those who stand alone in front of an audience “dying” for fame, fortune, and, with luck, a shot at Johnny Carson’s “Tonight” show.
(Carson is portrayed by actor Dylan Baker, who appeared as Colin Sweeney in “The Good Wife” episodes).

Melissa Leo (“Goldie”) in Showtime’s World Premiere of “I’m Dying Up Here!” at SXSW.

The fictional group is competitive and close-knit and they are mentored by “Goldie” (Melissa Leo), a brassy comedy club owner who rules over her business with an iron fist, but also nurtures the comedians with tough love, telling them when they are “ready” for a shot at Carson. Melissa Leo refrained from mentioning Mitzi Shore in the Q&A following the showing of the pilot, saying, “I play Goldie and I have a good time with her and I just try to keep up with her.” She added that she had “gotten a call a handful of weeks before they went in” and that the part might be considered an homage to the well-known Ms. Shore, but that she, personally, was just portraying the character as scripted and would not give the name of a real person that the character might be modeled upon.

Ari Graynor (Cassie Fedder) in “I’m Dying Up Here!”

The other prominent female character in the line-up of primarily male comics is played by actress Ari Graynor as Cassie Fedder, a Jewish girl from Wink, Texas. Graynor shared that she had not been a stand-up comic prior to being cast as Cassie, but all agreed that, in the writing of this drama series, “These are tortured f****** souls. It’s Johnny or nothing.” Her boyfriend (and fellow comic) of the moment onscreen, Sebastian Stan, tells her that, in comedy, “It’s the climb. It’s all about the climb.”

Al Madrigal as Eddie, Erik Griffin as Ralph, and Andrew Santino as Bill in “I’m Dying Up Here!”

The other principal actors in the drama, who portray fellow struggling comics, are Michael Angarano as Eddie, Clark Duke as Ron, Andrew Santino as Bill, Erik Griffin as Ralph, and Al Madrigal as Edgar. All visited Austin, along with Executive Producer Michael Aguilar, to talk shop and comedy. (Jim Carrey did not attend). Other “name” stars who have small parts in the pilot are Alfred Molina, and Robert Forster and Cathy Moriarty as the parents of one of the promising comics at the club who dies unexpectedly. (Forster was in two SXSW films playing a similar small role, the other being the Grandfather of a murdered hooker in “Small Town Crime.”)

The time frame for the series is the seventies, so the costuming, complete with bell bottoms and paisley shirts adds flavor. Someone in the cast compared it to the now-canceled “Vinyl” with laughs.

The music is good (“You Know It Don’t Come Easy” was used at one point) and the cinematography (D.P. Remseng) was right on target. But it is the writing by head writer Dave Flebotte (not present at SXSW), who lived the life, that sets this series head and shoulders above the rest. With lines like, “You look like Flip Wilson went to Sears” (spoken to an African American comic in a suit) and other zingers, that he and the 8 or so writers that Executive Producer Michael Aguilar said contribute in the Writers’ Room, zero in on a topic that allows them to be both funny and serious.

Al Madrigal is Edgar in “I’m Dying Up Here!”

The cast, during the Q&A, also was funny while being serious, scoring comedy points while being questioned. Stand-up comic Al Madrigal (Edgar) who was contacted for his part, kept interjecting, “Again, I didn’t have to do that” as others, like Andrew Santino (Bill) who plays “a bit of a prick” explained how they had auditioned up to four times for their role. (Andrew Santino did say that, as the series goes on, “I get less dick-y. I’m less of a mean, cruel, sardonic asshole.”)

Erik Griffin is Ralph in “I’m Dying Up Here!” on Showtime beginning June 4th.

Erik Griffin, who plays Ralph, said he had been doing his act at an L.A. comedy club when someone said to him, “Hey, Jim Carrey’s here.” Said Griffin, “Next day I got an audition for the part.” Griffin drew laughs by saying he could be “racially ambiguous.”

Clark Duke (Ron) photo bombs Ari Graynor’s Cassie at SXSW.

Sebastian Stan makes an appearance in the pilot, but his continuation in the series is in question. It was mentioned that Stan resembles a real-life comic (Mitch Hendricks) with a similar story line as that in the pilot, and that Dave Flebotte had worked with a waiter who told him the back story of the lone African American upstart comic portrayed, who takes a job working in a church while trying to make it as a struggling comic. Executive Producer Michael Aguilar said of head writer Flebotte, “In 20 years, I’ve never worked with a better writer.” Flebotte has previously worked on “Ellen,” “Bernie Mac,” “Empire,” and “Masters & Johnson.”

Clark Duke, Ron in “I’m Dying Up Here!””

One recognizable face in the crowd of comics was Clark Duke, who showed up with the same hair style (long) that he wears on the show. The 32-year-old Duke is a longtime good friend of Michael Cera. In college, the two wrote, directed and starred in a web series called “Michael and Clark.” Duke has starred in both “Hot Tub Time Machine”and “Kick Ass” movies, and was given a role on “SuperBad” as a result of being onset so often to hang with good friend Cera. The Glenwood, Arkansas native also appeared in episodes of “Greek,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “Robot Chicken.”

“I’m Dying Up Here!” premieres on Showtime on Sunday, June 4th, 2017.

Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Show

I read that HBO was going to re-show Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” one-woman show on Sunday.

I cannot testify that this is true, but, if you were a fan, as I was, you might want to check it out and see if this information turns out to be accurate.

I know there is a heartbreaking scene in the documentary I saw that shows her with her father just days before he died. (Eddie Fisher died 10 days after having knee surgery). That scene was used in “Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher,” although Director Fisher Stevens said she was at first reluctant to have it included and ran from the room when it was shown in rough draft form.

I know I will be checking to see if, indeed, this one-woman show based on her book is showing this Sunday, or any time in the forseeable future. The networks are still trying to decide when to air “Bright Lights.” (I was checking on that, as well, and that’s all I could find, other than testimony from Director Fisher Stevens and his co-director wife about how shocked they were that both Debbie and Carrie are now gone, so soon after this project.)

Glen Campbell Documentary on Alzheimer’s Hits Home

My father had Alzheimer’s disease. He knew he was losing his memory as early as his 65th birthday, and he took me aside to tell me that he was divesting of all trusts where he was the trustee and trying to “get out from under” all obligations, because he was losing his memory.

When I tried to pooh pooh his concerns, telling him that all older adults lose a step or two in terms of memory, he was insistent that this was more serious. “I can feel it inside my head, Con. I know it’s more than that.”

Not long after, he went to the post office in the family auto, went inside to get his mail and walked home, leaving his car running in the street outside, keys still in it. The postmaster called our house and said, “Uh…John. Your car is outside. You left it running and it ran out of gas. Maybe you can come get it?”

I remember when I drove my mother and my father to the Mayo Clinic to the emergency room, because my father’s colon cancer was getting worse and he had no pain pills nor any medication for sleeping through the night. He was getting up in the night and falling and he broke his ribs, a painful (and unnecessary) injury

When we got to the Mayo Clinic, I was told to drive my ailing father directly to the emergency room, which I did. The scenes with Glen Campbell being asked, “Who’s the president, Glen?” “What day is it, Glen?” and other such mundane questions, instantly took me back.

Alzheimer’s is a brutal disease. Ultimately, the patient no longer has the ability to understand things that are said to him or here. Language ability can become profoundly impaired. Patients can forget family members and not recognize them. Somehow, that musical skill if it’s activate can help the brain globally if it is activated in Glen Campbell’s case.
Documentary:
They’re giving Glen Campbell Arracept which is causing him to become horny, apparently. (My dad was given Arracept, and that was 1986.)
His wife says: Depending on how you look at it, perhaps there’s an “up” side to Alzheimers (she says he is after her 4x a day after they double his Arracept.)
(I remember that my dad took Arracept. He said it made him feel “fuzzy.” He didn’t like the feeling at all. He also tried to “joke” his way out of questions which he couldn’t answer, like, “Who was our first President, John?”
Statistic mentioned: 115 million Alzheimers patients around the globe.
Last year, $140 billion was spent on Alzheimers in the U.S.
$600 billion will be needed by the time all baby boomers retire. The (D) Senator from Massachusetts is championing the governmental effort to get more funds for Alzheimers research.
May 12, 2012, Campbell played at the Library of Congress. Bill Clinton is talking about his knowledge of Glen Campbell as being from Delight, Arkansas, which is near Hope, where Clinton grew up. Clinton urged more dollars for bio-medical research. “This tour of his may be more of his enduring legacy than all the music he made.”
The film shows him playing the Hollywood Bowl and Boston and the Ryman in Nashville.
Words of one song his daughter sings:
“Daddy don’t you worry: I’ll do the remembering.”
Cal, Shannon and Ashley are the 3 children he had with Wife #4.
“This was a man with a mind like a steel trap and he couldn’t remember my name,” says his longtime bus driver.
 Bruce Springsteen talks about his grandfather dying of it.
Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers lost his father at 70 from Alzheimers.
Brad Paisley’s grandmother and great grandmother both had it.
Kathy Mattea (musician) said her mother regressed and thought she was a young girl again.
Glen’s wife, Kim:  “I don’t want to see him stop being an individual. I don’t want to see him degenerating. I don’t want to see Glen in that condition. I think it’s better to die from something else.”
Brad Paisley would like someone to “find that gene and turn it off before I’m 70,” (he’s now 40) as he has a high probability of inheriting the gene.
Glen’s long-term memory is great, but his short-term memory is what is degenerating. He remembers things from way back, as did my own dear departed father.
Kelli Campbell is another daughter (old) and Debby Campbell-Cloyd is another (older). They look to be at least in their forties or fifties.
There is a scene where Glen has something wrong with his teeth. He won’t go to the dentist and is belligerent about it. “I’m telling you, Man.” He is acting very loud and belligerent about something stuck in his teeth and is using a large knife to try to pick it out.
Campbell is shown in bed before a show he is to do at Carnegie Hall. He looks absolutely exhausted (Concert #113).
The Art Institute of Chicago had him come perform. He had a really hard time performing anything at that dinner.
His wife, Kim: “This is not a fun illness. It’s a challenging illness to deal with every moment of their lives. He can’t find the bathroom in his own house.”
His wife says, “Every day is a challenge for me.” She describes it as “intensely sad. Generally, he clings to me. I’m his safety blanket. He wants me around all the time.” (This was like my mother and my dad).
They (patients) become paranoid and begin to think that people are stealing from them. Glen becomes convinced that his best friend is stealing his golf clubs. (My dad became convinced that he was being held prisoner against his will, Also, some become delusional and see things, which my dad also did, although he was on heavy-duty pain medication for colon cancer, so the pink snakes he saw on the baseboard of his bedroom might have been from pain medication.
(Nov., 2012): After Chicago, the frequency of bad shows began to increase. They wanted to go out on a high note. “We’ve reached a point where he’s not capable of doing it.”
His wife: “That tour was crazy when he was offstage because he didn’t want to stay in the hotel room. He went around the hotel pressing everybody’s doorbells because he thought they were elevator buttons.”
 By the time they got to Napa (the last show) they knew they had to stop the tour (it was Show #151). His son said, “It’s too bad he doesn’t  even know it’s his last show ever.”
His daughter (Ashley) testified before Congress to try to get more funds for Alzheimers’ research and more-or-less broke down while testifying.
This was a good documentary, but it hit very close to home, for me, as I watched Glen Campbell try to joke his way through questions he can’t answer.
James Keach, Stacey Keach’s brother, directed the documentary and Jane Seymour, his wife, is listed as a producer. Three of Campbell’s children (2 boys and his daughter) back him up onstage and mention of Campbell’s prominence as a member of the famous “Wrecking Crew” that played on records by almost all big groups (including the Beach Boys) is mentioned. Having just seen the Wrecking Crew represented in the film “Love & Mercy” about Brian Wilson, it was an interesting and important documentary that makes you hope you have Tony Bennett’s genes and not Glen Campbell’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Week in Cancun, Mexico

DSCN0019We’re coming to the end of Easter week in Cancun at the Royal Sands. The weather has been lovely and the water warm.

Tomorrow, the men will play golf.  Tonight was prime rib night at the Veranda restaurant and it was just as good as prime rib at Short Hills, which is a high standard to meet.

We also dined on traditional Mexican cuisine at Sisal and have taken in the Seafood Surprise (lobster, shrimp, grouper, calamari, scallops) at Captain’s Cove, where we watched both an alligator and a sting ray swim beneath the deck where eleven of us were eating.

DSCN0027Daughter Stacey left today and had to fly back to Chicago with tornadoes and 70 mph winds hammering places like Rochelle, IL, near DeKalb. There were also tornadoes in Iowa, Michigan and other parts of the Midwest.

Oscar Predictions for Sunday, February 22, 2015

I’ve put off predicting the winners of this past year’s (2014) Academy Awards till the last moment, so that I could take in as many of the nominated films as possible, and I’m happy to report that I’ve seen ALL the Best Picture nominees: “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash.”

The race is between “Boyhood” and “Birdman.” I’m taking “Boyhood.”

Does that mean that I think “Boyhood” was the Best Picture of the Year 2014. No. Of the list above, I prefer wither “The Imitation Game” or “American Sniper,” and I’m disappointed that fine films like “Gone Girl” didn’t make the list. I’m just predicting now, not recommending. For that, see an earlier post about the most ENJOYABLE films of the year.

Best Director: Richard Linklater (He directed “Boyhood”).

Other nominees for Best Director are Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”); Alejandro G. Inarritu (“Birdman”); Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”); and Morten Tyldum(“The Imitation Game”).

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne
(“The Theory of Everything”). The race is between Redmayne and sentimental favorite Michael Keaton, but momentum seems to be in Redmayne’s corner for his spot-on turn as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” This one could go either way. I picked Redmayne because I legitimately feel his task was much more difficult than Keaton’s, sentiment aside. Other nominees were Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”); Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”); Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”).

Best Actress: Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”)
. She has been around a long time, and it seems it is her turn this year. I haven’t seen “Still Alice,” so I’m taking the word of other critics that she is as good in it as everyone says. She has been good in many films for many years. Let’s face it, Marion Cotillard in the French language film “Two Days, One Night” doesn’t have a prayer and Reese Witherspoon, who has already won once, walks across the desert in “Wild,” which is about as interesting as that sounds like it would be—which is not interesting. Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones were both great, but haven’t paid their dues, while Moore has.

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”).

There seems to be little doubt that Arquette will take home Oscar for her supporting performance as the mother in “Boyhood.” She, too, has earned her stripes. Other nominees are Laura Dern (“Wild”), Keira Knightley (“The Imitation Game”), Emma Stone (“Birdman”) and Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods.”) Meryl has won enough, already. Keira and Emma were good, but haven’t been at it as long (or as well) as Arquette. [Remember her turn opposite James Gandolfini in “True Romance”?]

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”).

Other nominees are Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”), Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”), Edward Norton (“Birdman”), and 84-year-old Robert Duvall (“The Judge”). Nobody picks Duvall, but I loved his performance in that critically panned film. Ruffalo has had a great year, too, since he also starred in television’s AIDS drama “The Normal Heart.” I would not be upset to have Edward Norton (“Birdman”) upset the overwhelming odds-on favorite, J.K. Simmons, but I’ve seen all of these performances and, aside from the meandering role Hawke drew in the meandering movie “Boyhood,” all turned in great performances in difficult roles. I look for the actor categories to provide the surprises—if there are any.

OTHER AWARDS: I sat through beaucoup foreign films that were supposed to be nominated. None were. I’m glad, since I didn’t like the 2 I saw that were touted as “sure things” at the Chicago Film Festival.” They were okay, but not my idea(s) of “Best Films.” The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film are “Ida” (Poland); “Leviathon” (Russia); “Tangerines” (Estonia); “Timbuktu” (Mauritania) and “Wild Tales” from Argentina. Did not see a single one, although I HAVE seen “Force Majeure” and “The Gett” and a bunch of other foreign films (“Black Ice” was particularly bad, from China) that took up a lot of my viewing day. I’m going with “Ida” from Poland, because there were a lot of good films from that part of the world, and I’m not sure that Estonia and Mauritania can compete on equal footing.

I’m listing the rest of the categories with the nominees and boldfacing my picks::
Original Screenplay:
“Birdman;” “Boyhood;” “Foxcatcher;” “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” “Nightcrawler.” (I’d love to see “Nightcrawler” win and, yes, I’ve seen them all.)

Adapted Screenplay: “American Sniper;” “The Imitation Game;” “Inherent Vice;” “The Theory of Everything;” “Whiplash.”

Film Editing: “American Sniper;” “Boyhood;” “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” “The Imitation Game;” and “Whiplash.”

Cinematography: “Birdman;” “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” “Ida;” “Mr. Turner;” and “Unbroken.”

Production Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” “The Imitation Game;” “Interstellar;” “Into the Woods;” “Mr. Turner.”

Animated Feature: “Big Hero 6;”
“The Boxtrolls;” “How to Train Your Dragon 2;” “Song of the Sea;” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”

Animated Short Film
: “The Bigger Picture;” “The Dam Keeper;” “Feast;” “Me and My Moulton;” “A Single Life.”

Documentary Feature: “Citizenfour;”
“Finding Vivian Maier;” “Last Days in Vietnam;” “The Salt of the Earth;” “Virunga.” (I’ve actually seen the first 2 of these and know that RFK’s youngest daughter is responsible for “Last Days in Vietnam.”)

Documentary Short: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1;” “Joanna;” “Our Curse;” “The Reaper (La Parka)”; “White Earth”

Live Action Short Film: “Aya;” “Boogaloo and Graham;” “Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)”; “Parvaneh;” “The Phone Call.”

Costume Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel;
” “Inherent Vice;” “Into the Woods;” “Maleficent;” “Mr. Turner.”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Foxcatcher;” “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Visual Effects: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier;” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes;” “Guardians of the Galaxy;” “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

Sound Mixing: “American Sniper;” “Birdman;” “Interstellar;” “Unbroken;” “Whiplash.”

Sound Editing: “American Sniper;” “Birdman;” “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies;” “Interstellar;” “Unbroken.” (If “Birdman” starts a sweep, it could take this and both of the final 2 nominees listed are also strong contenders.)

Original Score: “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” “The Imitation Game;” “Interstellar;” “Mr. Turner;” “The Theory of Everything.” (I loved the Alexandre Desplat score for “The Imitation Game,” so I’d not complain if it were to win.)

Original Song: “Everything is Awesome;” “Glory;” “Grateful;” “I’m Not Gonna Miss You;” “Lost Stars.” (Everybody knows the Best Song of the Year 2014 from a movie should be “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” so any of these are not the best songs of the year. “Glory” was from “Selma” and I’d like to see it win something.)

Jason V Brock’s New Book: Disorders of Magnitude – A Survey of Dark Fantasy

Product Details

Disorders of Magnitude: A Survey of Dark Fantasy (Studies in Supernatural Literature) by Jason V. Brock (Jul 17, 2014)

Disorders of Magnitude: A Survey of Dark Fantasy, by Jason V Brock, Rowan & Littlefield, ISBN 9781500699536 (No price marked)
When Jason V Brock sent Disorders of Magnitude to me for review, I was very excited, thinking I would have the pleasure of reading more of Jason’s always-excellent fiction.
Disorders of Magnitude arrived and I discovered that it was subtitled “A Survey of Dark Fantasy” and was a nonfiction history of horror, science fiction and supernatural literature, art, film and graphic novel artists.
The book is a narrowly focused crash course on horror writers, science fiction writers and supernatural fiction writers, artists and filmmakers. It is selective, rather than inclusive, as any one of those categories could well fill many volumes. Brock’s History of Horror is strongest when he is interviewing icons of today or of the recent past.

My favorite chapters, in chronological order, were:
1. Chapter 7: Ray Bradbury: The Boy Who Never Grew Up
2. Chapter 10: Harlan Ellison: L’Enfant Terrible (Sort of)
3. Chapter 13: George Clayton Johnson: A Touch of Strange
4. Chapter 15: Roger Corman: Socially Conscious Auteur
5. Chapter 20: An End, A Middle, A Beginning: Richard Matheson and his Impact
6. Chapter 24: King of the Dead: Filmmaker George A. Romero on Politics, Film and the Future
7. Chapter 28: The Doctor Is In: F. Paul Wilson
8. Chapter 38: Fangoria and Chris Alexander: Cinephilia, Music, and All the Rest of It
9. The Inner World of William F. Nolan
10. William F. Nolan and Ray Bradbury: Reflections

For me, the book couldn’t have come at a better time. I am poised to review many horror films at the 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival, the oldest film festival in North America.

I was familiar with most of the living legends limned in the book and with others long gone, but the book is truly a crash course in more obscure artists who have, perhaps, been glossed over by previous histories. I enjoyed learning about these talents who have not been as widely profiled.
But it is fair to say that mentioning Stephen King only in passing and glossing over Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Peter Straub and others will draw criticism. In defense of those he has chosen to include, writers like Charles Beaumont of “the Group” and historian Forrest “Forrie” Ackerman—they deserve this long-in-coming attention. The insights into television and film pioneers of horror like Rod Sterling, Dan Curtis and George Romero are equally welcome and overdue.

And after all, Brock’s opening line is: “This book is an eclectic overview, and highly subjective. Be warned.”
Some of these writers or artists I knew little about prior to reading this book. Included in that number are Kris Kukri, John Shirley, Darren Davis, Al Feldstein and Demetrios Parkas. H.R. Geiger I knew only because of the “Alien” movie monsters. It was interesting to learn of Demetrios Parkas’ and LuAnne Raymond’s experiences in Australia. (Depressing, but interesting). I could definitely relate, as the duo has been pilloried for bogus reasons and Brock, by shining a light on this, might help ameliorate their unjust persecution. At least, I hope so.
I enjoyed learning more about Chris Alexander (“Fangoria” magazine), who has been kind to my own writing, as well as F. Paul Wilson, whom I encounter frequently at writers’ gatherings. (I always offer to help Paul with his autographing duties, given our shared surname, since he is so busy and I am not, but, to date, he has faithfully autographed entire grocery bags of books for avid fans, risking a very bad case of writer’s cramp or carpal tunnel syndrome, which, as a medical doctor, one would think he would want to avoid. But, no! Paul autographs every single one himself, running the risk of future impairment; I want to testify to that and give him full credit for his efforts on behalf of his fans.)
The book also focuses on comic book artists (graphic artists), so the opening warning about being highly subjective and eclectic is justified. [Horror films, alone, would merit several books].
But, as I learned when writing It Came from the Seventies: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now, you have to draw the line somewhere. Jason has wisely drawn the lines around the subjects he has met and/or those to whom he has direct access. Those are the chapters that shine.
This “once over lightly” treatment also benefits from the insertion of many vintage photographs of “the Group,” some from the personal files of Jason’s mentor, William F. Nolan, a well-deserved Living Legend in Dark Fantasy.
There are timelines inserted throughout the collection, which help the reader fix various artists in a specific time in history. I appreciated this attempt to bring order out of chaos. An English major with no minor at the University of Iowa (who ended up with PhD concentration in literature because I had no minor) it was always a struggle to place “The Age of Dryden and Pope,” for example, into the appropriate linear time frame with other periods.
My only reservation about the timelines as a wonderful idea occurred on page 152 when “First Internet service provider launches: 1989” appears. I was writing a book, long distance, from Illinois, using the Internet to connect with Emerson City, New Jersey, and Nevada City, California, (headquarters of Performance Learning Systems, Inc.), in 1985, four years before that date. I used a Wang PC and I remember having to go through multiple steps to transmit the code from my computer, making sure that the teeth in my modem were adjusted exactly “in synch” with the teeth of the modem on the receiving end. As the messages came through resembling Egyptian hieroglyphics, there were multiple steps to transform the hieroglyphs on my screen into English letters and words. I primarily networked with the Education Department at One Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps Jason is referencing the first readily available commercial service, but I am living proof that the Internet was available (and being used) at least 4 years before 1989. I still have the computer neuroses to prove it.
Some of the impressions I got from a complete reading of Disorders of Magnitude were as follows:
1. The author is not a big fan of Stephen King.
2. The author is a big fan of all the writers who formed “the Group,” including Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson.
3. George Clayton Johnson does not seem the most ambitious or industrious author included in this collection. In talking about (perhaps) writing a post Logan’s Run novel (his co-author, William F. Nolan has written more than one), Johnson says: “But then I would have to name a deadline for finishing it, and I don’t want to accept that. So, I’d rather just continue to noodle around with it, because I don’t need the money.” He adds, “Then, I look at the end of the year and say, ‘Jesus, George, this year you only made $3,000!”

Silly me. I always thought that “writers write because they HAVE to.” (Someone famous said that long before me, but I do not have the name to accompany the quote, so insert your own attribution.)
Brock has a real appreciation for those who have gone before—pioneers like Richard Matheson, Roger Corman, William F. Nolan, Ray Bradbury, et. al.
For me, as I prepare to review some debut horror, sci fi and supernatural films at the oldest film festival in North America in Chicago, with films with titles like “The ABC’s of Death;” “The Babadook” (a sensation at Sun Dance); ‘”Creep;” “The Editor” (a horror comedy from Canada which I cannot recommend); “Goal of the Dead” (zombies); “It Follows;” “Seven Little Killers;” “The Well” (a tense, gritty post-apocalyptic thriller), and Oliver Stone’s Director’s Cut of “Natural Born Killers” (scripted by Quentin Tarantino), complete with the opportunity to interview Oliver Stone in person, this book was helpful. (*The reviews of the films mentioned will appear on Andy Andrews’ “True Review” site, on www.WeeklyWilson.com and on Wikinuts.com beginning October 9th).
I read this book to gain an overview of the Masters of the horror, science fiction and supernatural fiction genres. I enjoyed it. While the adjective “comprehensive” doesn’t apply, (since the field is so large), the adjectives interesting, entertaining and informative certainly do.

 

 

Connie C Wilson Author

2014 Emmy Predictions Two Days Before the Aug. 25 NBC Program

2014 Emmy Awards on NBC on Aug. 25th: Predictions from the Peanut Gallery

As a dedicated television viewer (or, in this case, viewers) who once was assigned to write synopses of various network shows, I am offering up these predictions for the Seth Meyers hosted Emmy Awards that will be taking place on Monday, August 25th on NBC.
Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the nominees, with our pick(s) boldfaced:
• Drama Series: Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Mad Men, True Detective. Both my spouse and I believe that the Emmies will honor Breaking Bad, because it is now off the air and was one of the best series ever on the air. The only other comment we have on this category is that we think it was a mistake to put “True Detective” in as a drama series, rather than a mini-series, if that was a possibility.

8/25:  Nailed it.
• Actor in a Drama: Bryan Cranston in “Breaking Bad;” Jeff Daniels in “The Newsroom;” Jon Hamm in “Mad Men;” Woody Harrelson in “True Detective;” Matthew McConaughey in “True Detective;” Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards.” It is undeniable that McConaughey and Harrelson were wonderful in “True Detective,” but this is “it” for “Breaking Bad,” which is now off the air, and there is the Hollywood factor that sometimes denies deserving Hollywood actors who appear on Broadway at the Tony Awards. For those reasons, we picked Bryan Cranston. There was a fairly heated discussion about Jon Hamm’s worthiness, since he has never won. My spouse gave the Cubs argument for Hamm: “Next year is his year.”

8/25: Nailed it.
• Actress in a Drama: Lizzy Caplan in “Masters of Sex;” Claire Danes in “Homeland;” Michelle Dockery in “Downton Abbey;” Julianna Margulies in “The Good Wife;” Kerry Washington in “Scandal;” Robin Wright in “House of Cards.” We had a very divided ballot on this one. And, no, we did not discuss our choices before making them. I think Lizzy Caplan deserves this and, as a close runner-up, I would vote for Julianna Margulies. My husband voted for Robin Wright in “House of Cards.” For my tastes, Robin Wright (formerly Penn) doesn’t have a big enough part in most episodes of “House of Cards,” which influenced my vote for Ms. Caplan and/or Margulies.

8/25:  I give myself a point, as I knew Julianna Margulies had a great chance, but my heart went with the newer show “Masters of Sex.” So, I’m taking credit.
• Supporting Actor, Drama: Aaron Paul in “Breaking Bad;” Jim Carter in “Downton Abbey;’ Peter Dinklage in “Game of Thrones;” Josh Charles in “The Good Wife;” Mandy Patinkin in “Homeland;” Jon Voight in “Ray Donovan.” We had a split vote in this category, also. I selected Josh Charles because he was written out of “The Good Wife” in dramatic fashion, so we will not have the opportunity to honor him for this role in the future. I also was influenced with footage of a very young Josh in “Dead Poet’s Society” standing on the desk for Robin Williams (RIP). [My husband voted for Aaron Paul in “Breaking Bad” for the same reason we selected Bryan Cranston and agreed on “Breaking Bad” for Best Drama.]

8/25:  Taking a point for my husband’s prescience in selecting Aaron Paul in “Breaking Bad.” Reminding myself that it was the “smart” vote. Taking a point here.
• Supporting Actress, Drama: Anna Gunn in “Breaking Bad;” Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey;” Lena Headey in “Game of Thrones;” Christine Baranski in “The Good Wife;” Christina Hendricks in “Mad Men;” Joanne Froggatt in “Downtown Abbey.” My husband voted for Anna Gunn in “Breaking Bad” and has the distinction of winning the Traveling Trophy for Oscar predicting both of the last 2 years—just to alert you to his proficiency at this. I realize that the Oscars are not the Emmys or the Tonys, but I selected Christine Baranski because the necklaces she wears on the show deserve an award. Check them out some time. As a woman of a certain age, those clunky, chunky necklaces draw attention to her face, and I wonder where she gets them? May I also say that I’d rather have root canal than have to watch ALL of “Downton Abbey” again, which I did do. Loved the clothes. Period.

8/25:  I have to give credit to my husband for his prescience, again, voting for Anna Gunn. We, as a team, will take the point. This is why he owns the Oscar Trophy. Smart voting!
• Comedy Series: “The Big Bang Theory;” “Louie;” “Modern Family;” “Orange Is the New Black;” “Silicon Valley;” “Veep.” First of all, “Silicon Valley” has no shot. All the buzz is with “Orange is the New Black.” We agreed that we both enjoy “Modern Family” enough to vote for it—again. I have to admit that I enjoy “Veep” a great deal and am watching an episode (streamed) right now. (The writing is great!) I also have no beef with either “The Big Bang Theory” or “Louie” but we agreed on “Modern Family.”

8/25:  Nailed it.
• Actor in a Comedy: Jim Parsons in “The Big Bang Theory;” Ricky Gervais in “Derek;” Matt LeBlanc in “Episodes;” Don Cheadle in “House of Lies;” Louis C.K. in “Louie;” William H. Macy in “Shameless.” Jim Parsons is wonderful in “The Big Bang Theory,” so much so that I based a character on him in one of the volumes of “Ghostly Tales of Route 66,” but he has won. Ricky Gervais, Matt LeBlanc and Don Cheadle have virtually no shot. We love William H. Macy in “Shameless” (or anything else he does) and we agreed on this without any prior consultation.

8/25:  Jim Parsons won. My husband and I voted with our hearts and not our heads for William H. Macy. No points.
• Actress in a Comedy: Lena Dunham in “Girls;” Edie Falco in “Nurse Jackie;” Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “Veep;” Melissa McCarthy in “Mike & Molly;” Amy Poehler in “Parks and Recreation;” Taylor Schilling in “Orange is the New Black.” We agreed on this without any consultation, although we both agreed that both “Orange is the New Black,” Melissa McCarthy and Lena Dunham have had a certain amount of buzz. Nevertheless, we pick Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is the beneficiary of wonderful writing.

8/25:  Nailed it.
• Supporting Actor, Comedy: Andre Braugher in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine;”Adam Driver in “Girls;” Jesse Tyler Ferguson in “Modern Family;” Ty Burrell in “Modern Family;” Fred Armisen in “Portlandia;” Tony Hale in “Veep.” We agree on Ty Burrell. Yes, we (also) like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and yes we like Tony Hale in “Veep,” but Ty Burrell is great in “Modern Family.” Fred Armisen in “Portlandia”? Please. And, while I’m on the subject, could Seth Meyer get a GOOD band, like The Roots. The band and theme song he has now is embarrassing.

8/25:  Nailed it.
• Supporting Actress, Comedy: Mayim Bialik in “The Big Bang Theory;” Julie Bowen in “Modern Family;” Allison Janney in “Mom;” Kate Mulgrew in “Orange is the New Black;” Kate McKinnon in “Saturday Night Live;” Anna Chlumsky in “Veep.”

8/25:  Did not figure Allison Janney in “Mom.” I don’t think we have ever seen “Mom.” I did enjoy Allison Janney on her guest spot in the James Brown bio-pic “Get On Up.”
• Miniseries: “American Horror Story: Coven;” “Bonnie & Clyde;” “Fargo;” “Luther;” “Treme;” “The White Queen.” This isn’t even a contest. “Fargo” is brilliant.

8/25:  Nailed it.
• Movie: “Killing Kennedy;” “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight;” “Sherlock: His Last Vow;” “The Normal Heart;” “The Trip to Bountiful.” “The Normal Heart,” of course.

8/25:  Nailed it.
• Actor in a Miniseries or Movie: Chiwetel Ejiofor in “Dancing on the Edge;” Martin Freeman in “Fargo;” Billy Bob Thornton in “Fargo;” Idris Elba in “Luther.” No contest: Billy Bob Thornton. (with props to Martin Freeman in the same series.)

8/25:  I’m taking a point here for my “props” to Martin Freeman-–although I will, perhaps, be told that it was really for “Sherlock”, not “Fargo.”
• Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange in “American Horror Story: Coven;” Sarah Paulson in “American Horror Story: Coven;” Helena Bonham Carter in “Burton and Taylor;” Minnie Driver in “Return to Zero;” Kristen Wiig in “The Spoils of Babylon;” Cicely Tyson in “The Trip to Bountiful.”

8/25:  Nailed it.
Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Colin Hanks in “Fargo;” Jim Parsons in “The Normal Heart;” Joe Mantello in ‘The Normal Heart;” Alfred Molina in “The Normal Heart;” Matt Bomer in “The Normal Heart;” Martin Freeman in “Sherlock: His Last Vow.” It is entirely possible that Jim Parsons will win for this category, rather than “The Big Bang Theory,” but I’m voting for Hanks. I also like that I appear to be his Mom in the picture taken at the premiere of his film “The Great Buck Howard.” (I seem to have been the only one in the room who had ever seen Kreskin’s act AND had dinner with him, so he wanted to speak to me, as he had never met the man nor seen his act.)

8/25: Okay. THIS was the one where Martin Freeman triumphed. He is truly talented and, if you haven’t seen him in “Fargo,” check it out.
• Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Frances Conroy in ‘American Horror Story: Coven;” Kathy Bates in “American Horror Story: Coven;” Angela Bassett in “American Horror Story: Coven;” Allison Tolman in “Fargo;” Ellen Burstyn in “Flowers in the Attic;” Julia Roberts in “The Normal Heart.” We have a split decision here, with the other front-runner being Julia Roberts in “The Normal Heart.”

8/25:  This one was a surprise: Kathy Bates in “American Horror Story: Coven.” Did not see that coming. No points. I voted for Allison Tolman because she had to show a range of emotion(s) in her groundbreaking debut and, also, because she isn’t model-pretty as most female leads on TV are. Looking forward to watching Allison next season on “Fargo.”
• Reality Competition Program: “The Amazing Race;” “So You Think You Can Dance;” “Dancing with the Stars;” “Top Chef;” “Project Runway;” “The Voice.” I’m sick of “The Amazing Race.” Adam Whatever Your Name was (3 name guy who writes and I almost said Adam Clayton Powell): this series blows most of the time. So there. “Dancing with the Stars” is so cheesy that I can’t even believe that a good friend watches it religiously. I actually can barely stand any reality TV, but, of these nominees, the least icky is “The Voice.”

8/25. No points. No score. Note my last line (“I can barely stand any reality TV”). I’m sick of “The Amazing Race” but I don’t really like watching any of these shows, so I don’t feel bad about our lack of perception in the category.
• Variety Series: “The Colbert Report;” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart;” “Jimmy Kimmel Live;” “Real Time with Bill Maher;” “Saturday Night Live;” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

8/25:  Interesting that Jimmy Fallon, our (incorrect) choice went onstage and did the accepting for “The Colbert Report.” I like “The Colbert Report” a lot and it is going off the air after 9 seasons, so no harm, no foul.

I should mention that there were other categories mentioned on the awards show that did not show up on our ballot that was printed in “Entertainment Weekly.” Of those above, we got +12 right. There are 18 categories listed above (there were more on the actual program. That means we got 2/3 (or 66 and 2/3%) right in our first joint outing as predictors of television wins at the Emmys.

Alex Preston Bites the Dust for Finals of “American Idol”

Last night, while I was enjoying “Motown, the Musical” at the Oriental theater in downtown Chicago, Alex was eliminated from “American Idol” in one of the more anti-climactic developments in the competition. In fact, earlier in the day, I had tweeted that it looked like our new American Idol was Caleb Johnson, no matter what. It was simple logic that dictated that Alex would get the boot this night. It would be so much “neater” and “easier” if the two were most comfortable onstage (Caleb and Jena) got the nod.

Which they did. The “Finals” will be Caleb (who had injured his vocal cords when he appeared on the show on Wednesday) and Jena (who should really just give up and spell her name “Gina” if she wants everyone to pronounce it that way).

Caleb has been consistently the Powerhouse and, with the routine exception that Harry Connick, Jr., wanted him to sing fewer shout-out-loud numbers and more ballad-like beautiful songs, he always had the best production values: things exploded, microphone stands were trashed; fire—all the usual histrionics onstage. Gena had one good night with glow-in-the-dark sticks and, at only 17, she definitely has a bright career ahead of her.

On the other hand, what was the name of the girl who finished second to Philip Phillips? You don’t remember: Join the club.

I do think Jena (say it “Gina”) will go on to greater glory because she is so comfortable onstage AND has a good voice AND can play piano while singing (no small feat.) The voting found her in the bottom 3 one night during the competition, however, so that bodes ill for her winning it all.

We both went off to watch the fantastic Broadway hit (me for the second time) secure in the knowledge that it would be Jena and Caleb, with Caleb winning. And we were right.

“American Idol” Boots Sam Woolf on Thursday, May 1st, 2014

HarryConnickJrAt the end of Thursday night’s “American Idol” program, Harry Connick, Jr., could be seen mouthing the words, “I didn’t see that coming” to his fellow judges.

What Judge Connick was referencing was the surprising vote given to the 5 remaining contestants, where those still standing could stay together as a team of five and two would be voted off next week, instead, OR one contestant would bite the dust, as per usual.

My spouse commented, “Well, this isn’t exciting at all. You know they’re all going to vote, ‘Yes, stay together as a team of five.'”

Except that they didn’t.

The vote was (supposedly) anonymous and TWO of the five remaining contestants said, “Lower the boom.” And Sam Woolf was let go, as a result.

I am going to speculate a moment on who may have voted to use the guillotine this night.

First, it is quite obvious that Caleb Johnson is going to be in the Finals unless there is some very unusual circumstance that arises that I cannot predict. I have been of the opinion that Jena Irene would be the second finalist because she is, quite obviously, the most at ease on stage, despite her relative youth (17). The others left in the competition are Jessica Meuse, who had a good night on Wednesday, and Alex Preston, who also was viewed favorably by the judges.

Personally, I thought that Alex Preston would get the boot. He is a good musician, but he has no “cools” and what’s with the no socks look? If the group of five HAD voted to boot two out next week, instead, my spouse and I were convinced it would be Alex and Jessica. [Perhaps we should have remembered that Sam had to be “saved” by the judges and has been in the bottom three more than once.] But we didn’t remember that. We both thought that Alex, while a good musician, was too geeky for the finals and that Jessica is the lesser talent of the girls.

So, we now have four finalists: Caleb Johnson of Asheville, North Carolina; Jena Irene of Farmington Hills, Michigan; Alex Preston of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire; and Jessica Meuse of Slapout, Alabama.
They are listed in the order I think they may finish, but, again, Alex and Jessica, for me, are interchangeable entities. What he has over her in musical expertise and artistry, she has over him in appearance, presence and cools.

If I were a betting woman, I’d guess that Caleb voted “no” to “sticking together as a group” (so much for the good times P.R. the show churns out each year). Caleb probably just wants to get to the end and get the golden ring, which it looks like he will do.

As for, “Who was the SECOND “No” vote?” I’m guessing it wasn’t Sam Woolf, but I wouldn’t put it past Alex or Jessica or Jena Irene to oust one of the others. After all, it’s a competition and they all want to win.

But who will? Caleb, of course. The Big Question is: who will come in second?

Judges on “American Idol” Use One-Per-Season “Save” for Sam Woolf


HarryConnickJrOn ‘American Idol’ results night on Thursday, April 3, 2014, Judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr., and Keith Urban used the one save they have per season to save Bradenton, Florida native Sam Woolf.
Confetti descended from the ceiling and his teammates hoisted him on their shoulders. For a minute, I thought I was watching a Jewish wedding.

Those in jeopardy of being eliminated, besides Sam, were Malaya Watson and C.J. Harris. It is nearly unbelievable that Malaya—who gave arguably one of the top two performances of the night—was rated so poorly by the audience in television land, but C.J. Harris should have been gone the second or third night that he sang sharp—(which was many shows ago).

As the evening opened, Jennifer Lopez came out wearing a hot pink outfit that was so short I hoped it was a skort and not a skirt. It was so noteworthy that Ryan Seacrest even commented. It was that kind of night.

Keith Urban
looked as though his stylist had worked overtime on his hair, to give it that casual look (lots of product, I’m thinking) and Harry Connick, Jr., wore a suit and tie to give the panel the air of gravitas and hold down his role as the Grand Old Man of judging. (He is also arguably the most knowledgeable musician sitting at the judges’ panel and a welcome addition after last year’s Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey year).

There was an odd segment where Randy Jackson was pictured sitting so close to Ryan Seacrest on a blue couch that you wondered why “the Dawg” didn’t move over to the right and give poor Ryan a seat. On the other hand, Randy has been almost non-existent this season, and it has been the best season for judges ever, if not for contestants.

The very first contestant announced as safe (Dexter) was wearing a baseball cap backwards. I read a remark recently that went something like this: “Dude, unless you’re directing a major motion picture, lose the baseball cap.”

Others declared safe, in order, were Jena, Caleb, Jessica and Alex. Then the lowest three (Sam, Malaya and C.J.) suffered through the final moments before Sam—who reminds of a young Ricky Nelson—sang for his life and was given the save for this season. When the judges announced they were going to use the save on Sam, confetti fell from the ceiling. (I wondered if this confetti is rigged each and every week, for whatever contestant might have the save used to keep him in the competition, or if the judges were told the results in advance).

The other notable appearance of the night was former contestant Chris Daughtry. Ryan Seacrest reminisced about the look on Chris Daughtry’s face when he was cut from “American Idol.” I remember it well: a look of complete astonishment and dismay. I guess the final joke is on “American Idol” when non-winners like Jennifer >Hudson and Chris Daughtry go on to greater stardom, while winners like Ruben Stoddard and Chris Allen (who beat Adam Lambert!) are barely heard from again.

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