Monday, July 30, 2007

R.I.P. - Tom Snyder

R.I.P. - Tom Snyder
Originally uploaded by azLee
Tom Snyder Turned Television Into a Tete-a-Tete
By Tom Shales
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 31, 2007; Page C01

Tom Snyder was born to broadcast. He loved television and it loved him back. In that, he was a member of a vanishing breed, especially as narrowcasting displaces broadcasting, "online" replaces "on the air," and any Tom, Dick or Mary can be monarch of a desktop domain, uplinking themselves to satellites in space.

Snyder's death Sunday from leukemia, at the age of 71, was not "the end of an era," as is often said of legendary figures in any field, but another poignant part of a long goodbye, of a transition painful to those who remember the great broadcasters of television with deep affection -- Dave Garroway, Howard Cosell, Jack Paar, and some, like Regis Philbin, who are still alive and working.

The Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning critic reviews shows with wit, humor and a quick finger on the remote.

All they needed was a TV studio, a relatively small crew and a camera or two with which to reach out across the country into big cities and small towns, tenements and penthouses, and keep a viewer captive, speaking not to "everybody" but to each individual, intimately.

Snyder made his last network talk show, "The Late Late Show" on CBS, partly a celebration of television -- as it is, but also as it was. "The simulcast is up and running," he'd say after his introductory chatter about whatever was on his mind that day, "simulcast" being by then a seldom-used term for a TV show also heard on radio. "So settle back," he would say, "fire up a colortini, and watch the pictures fly through the air." No one was sure what a "colortini" was -- maybe a martini linked somehow to color TV, which was once more of a novelty than high-def is now.

"I'm small," Snyder said in a 1995 interview, as he began the new CBS show, which he hosted for four years. (He had hosted NBC's late-night "Tomorrow" program from 1973 to 1982.) "I'm little television. I'm not big. I'm 19 inches diagonal, and if I can do that, I'm okay." In person he was anything but little. He stood 6 feet 4 and wore, he said, size 13-D shoes (sometimes doing the show in his socks). He was so self-conscious about having big ears that he let his hair grow down over them.

And the picture got bigger, from 19 inches diagonal to today's wall-size 50-, 60-, 70-inchers and more. The size is almost irrelevant; Tom Snyder was big enough to fill the night with talk and his own persona. The Snyder we saw on TV was not a replica of the real guy; it was the real guy. Like David Letterman, whose company produced "Late Late" (as it does the current version with Craig Ferguson), Snyder was perhaps never so comfortable as when under the hot lights and wired for sound.

"Tom really was a true broadcaster," Peter Lassally, Snyder's executive producer, said yesterday. (Lassally continues to produce "Late Late" with Ferguson, another natural talker.) "The word 'broadcaster' is tossed around and used for anybody who works in the business, but Tom did what a true broadcaster can do: He made the camera disappear and talked directly to the viewer, and it was just 'conversation.' There really was no one like him."

"The big man is gone," said CBS News Vice President Steve Friedman, 60, who knew Snyder for 37 years. They became close friends when Friedman was a news writer in Los Angeles and, later, executive producer of NBC's "Today" in New York. "Tom used to say, 'Writers write, producers produce, and stars star,' " Friedman said, "but he only said that to make us feel better -- because he was a better writer than any of us, a better producer than any of us, and the biggest star in our universe."

Snyder's distinctive quirks -- including his loud, staccato "ha-ha-ha" laugh -- were too tempting to be ignored by impressionists, and the definitive faux Snyder was unquestionably Dan Aykroyd, who perfected the impression during the first five years of "Saturday Night Live." It became one of the most popular bits on the show, and it helped popularize Snyder with a young audience that otherwise might have ignored him.

The impression became so well known that there were times, on his own show, when Snyder would do his version of Aykroyd's version of Snyder, making the ha-ha-ha's even broader. He wasn't really such a good sport about the imitation, though. "He was never that fond of it," a friend said.

What Snyder proved at NBC and at CBS was that he could interview virtually anybody -- from mass murderer Charles Manson to Beatle John Lennon to entrepreneur Martha Stewart to Johnny Rotten of the notorious Sex Pistols. One of the most hilarious Snyder encounters ever was an interview with Howard Stern, a hugely entertaining case of culture clash.

Stern to Snyder: "You are a psychopath!"

"People who didn't do other talk shows did Tom's show," Conan O'Brien, boy genius of the new generation of TV talkers, has said of Snyder. "And they said things there that they wouldn't say anywhere else."

During the 1995 interview, Snyder was praised for his session with Stern. His response: He blew his top. He said he was sick of hearing about it and complained that NBC had aired it too many times. He was, it seems, more at home with an argument than a compliment, naturally contrary and argumentative. It was commonly said of Snyder that he could have gone farther in the business if only he hadn't always fought with network management and with any other authority figures around.

When he was still at NBC, and network boss Fred Silverman was displeased with his ratings, Snyder suffered the indignity of having his show torn asunder; a studio audience was brought in, and gossipeuse Rona Barrett made regular appearances. Snyder hated her and hated the new format and, inevitably, clashed again with the bosses in the front office. Silverman had committed the ultimate sin in Snyder's view: He had come between Snyder and his viewers.

Bits and pieces of Snyder in his element, and in his glory, circulated yesterday on the latest medium to threaten television, the Internet. There was Snyder again, grilling guests pugnaciously or roaring that expansive laugh. On a computer monitor, the pictures were small again -- but Tom Snyder was still a giant.

R.I.P. - Ingmar Bergman

R.I.P. - Ingmar Bergman
Originally uploaded by azLee
Film great Ingmar Bergman dies at 89
By Duane Byrge

July 31, 2007
Ingmar Bergman, one of the leading influences in the development of cinema whose films probed the mysteries of human existence with indelible imagery, died in his sleep Monday at his home on an island off the coast of Sweden. He was 89.

With more than 50 feature films to his credit, together with more than 100 theatrical productions, the Swedish director gained an international following with works often inspired by Scandinavian theater and its richly developed themes of religious ritual, romantic passion and family tradition.

Three of Bergman's works won Oscars for best foreign-language film, and he was personally nominated nine times. In 1971, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him its Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

Religion and reflections on ethical and philosophical issues were his subject matter. His films, which reverberate with philosophical and psychological themes, became the most revered of the century, including "The Seventh Seal," "Persona," "Shame," "The Passion of Anna," "Cries and Whispers" and "Fanny and Alexander."

While his films evolved in distinct stages over more than five decades, his visual style -- intense, intimate, complex -- explored the depths of the human psyche as well as man's place in the universe with an intensity and cadence that has been itself an artistic correlative for Bergman's narrative themes.

His name has become synonymous with "serious" filmmaking, and his works have inspired many filmmakers, among them Woody Allen, whose reverence for Bergman can be found in many of his own works, both comic and serious. Allen once described Bergman as "probably the greatest film artist ... since the invention of the motion picture camera."

"Bergman was the epitome of a director's director -- creating beautiful, complex and smart films that imprinted permanently into the psyche -- inspiring filmmakers all over the world to create their own movies with similar passion and brio," DGA president Michael Apted said.

The DGA recognized Bergman with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 1990. The Festival de Cannes, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1997, also honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor the reclusive Swede declined to accept in person. He remained during the course of the May festival at his isolated home on the Baltic island of Faro off the coast of Sweden.

Responding to the news of Bergman's death, Cannes Film Festival director Gilles Jacob called the director the "last of the greats, because he proved that cinema can be as profound as literature."

The son of a Lutheran clergyman and a housewife, Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden on July 14, 1918, and grew up with a brother and sister in a household of severe discipline that he described in painful detail in the autobiography "The Magic Lantern."

The title comes from his childhood, when his brother got a "magic lantern" -- a precursor of the slide-projector -- for Christmas. Ingmar was consumed with jealousy, and he managed to acquire the object of his desire by trading it for a hundred tin soldiers.

He broke with his parents at 19 and remained aloof from them, but later in life sought to understand them. The story of their lives was told in the television film "Sunday's Child," directed by his own son Daniel.

To break into the world of drama after dropping out of college, Bergman started with a menial job at Sweden's Royal Opera House.

In 1942, he found work revising scripts for Sweden's largest production company, Svensk Filmindustri. In 1944, he wrote an original screenplay titled "Frenzy," and Alf Sjoberg, the country's most respected filmmaker, was selected to direct. That same year, Bergman was appointed director of the Municipal Theatre in Helsingborg and later worked in theater in Goteborg and Malmo. He garnered excellent theatrical reviews, which paved the way for directing films. Bergman directed his first feature film, "Crisis," in 1945.

The young Bergman went on to make a succession of films, bursting onto the international scene with "Smiles of a Summer Night," an inventive comedy of manners that was a hit at Cannes in 1955. The film was adapted to the musical stage by Stephen Sondheim in 1973 as "A Little Night Music" and also inspired Allen's 1982 comedy "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy."

The Cannes accolades prompted Svensk Filmindustri's financing of Bergman's pet project, "The Seventh Seal." An intriguing mystery set in the Middle Ages when weary Crusaders were returning to Sweden only to confront the Black Death that was sweeping across Europe, the film quickly became a classic. It is still screened with regularity in college film societies and at film schools throughout the world. The haunting film starred Max Von Sydow as a knight who encounters Death, a role that launched his international film career.

Bergman's eye for acting talent was sharp, and many young Scandinavian players went on to international stardom as a result of playing in Bergman's films; in addition to Von Sydow, they include Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin, Bibi Andersson and Harriet Andersson.

Bergman's success and development as a filmmaker continued apace in the '50s. His "Wild Strawberries" won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1958. A piercing exploration of childhood through the memories of old age, the film was remarkable for Bergman's creative use of the close-up, etching vividly the inner psyche through the contours and expressions of the human face.

"The great gift of cinema photography is the human face," Bergman once said, indicating that it was his dream someday to make a film that would be a two-hour close-up of a human visage.

The late '50s saw Bergman further widening his craft as he merged his cinematic aesthetic with his philosophical, psychological and religious themes. His subjects were "big": "The Magician" explored the supernatural; "The Virgin Spring" tapped into a dark eroticism; and "Through a Glass Darkly" explored the Western notion of God, probing what Bergman regarded as an inherent destructiveness in Christianity.

"Mr. Bergman's power to convey complicated philosophical reflections upon the nature of man and society, all through the cinematic medium, is so great that it makes one gasp," the New York Times wrote in its "Magician" review.

"Virgin Spring" won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 1961, and the following year, "Through a Glass Darkly" captured the same high honor. Film scholars regard that film as the beginning of a dark trilogy for Bergman that included "Winter Light," a penetrating look at human loneliness, and "The Silence," a sexually charged portrait of spiritual malaise and a work that prompted vigorous opposition from censors in Sweden and France. All three films were photographed by the late Sven Nykvist, whose stark and dark framings were in sync with Bergman's dark-eyed narratives and themes.

Light and shadow were crucial to Bergman's philosophical narrative palette: In 1968, he began a series of austere works that were designed to evoke the essence of "darkness." "Hour of the Wolf," "Shame" and "The Passion of Anna," his films made during the cataclysmic period of the 1960s, were fraught with issues of social and political responsibility. They brought him both praise and condemnation.

His next film, "Cries and Whispers" -- a sensual and anguished observation of solitude -- was widely lauded by his ever-growing legions of cinematic disciples. He followed that up with a six-episode TV project, "Scenes From a Marriage." It starred Ullmann and Erland Josephson, and the series was dubbed for rebroadcast in the U.S. and the U.K. It was later condensed for theatrical release as well.

Bergman's scope widened in the '70s. He filmed Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute" as well as "Autumn Sonata," which starred Ingrid Bergman. That cycle of Bergman's work aptly concludes with "Fanny and Alexander," a family story that is part fairy tale and part ghost story. Although he continued to write screenplays -- "The Best Intentions," "Sunday's Children" -- he essentially stopped making feature films after "Fanny," focusing instead on a number of television projects.

After the release of "Fanny," Stockholm's leading newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, wrote that Bergman is "a director who has looked deeper than most people into the shadows of existence and the human psyche, but who, after the nightmares of many films, now seems to have reached a clarified and harmonious reconciliation with life."

"Saraband," a TV film he completed in 2003, proved to be Bergman's last directorial effort. Once again, he turned to Ullmann, who appeared in 10 of his films, to star in the family drama.

Bergman was married five times and fathered nine children, including a daughter Linn Ullmann, whose mother was Liv Ullmann, his partner in a five-year affair.

The date of Bergman's funeral has not been set, but will be attended by a close group of friends and family, the TT news agency reported.

Gregg Kilday and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Pur Francine! Pur Pur Francine!"

"Pur Francine! Pur Pur Francine!"
Originally uploaded by azLee
I just got back a little while ago from seeing "Polyester" complete with Odorama! (Those are two of the cards. I wanted to save one unused one and the box office person slipped me a freebie)

T'was fun seeing it on the big screen complete with odors! And it was an enjoyable birthday prezzie. I also found out that the theatre will be doing the Buffy Sing-A-Long again is September and not only will they be showing "Grey Gardens" in September with an appearance by the co-director, Albert Maysles, but it'll be for FREE!! I'm so there!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fangs Alot!

Fangs Alot!
Originally uploaded by azLee
Ooh! I just found out this nifty lil' birthday present from this Variety article Apparently, Johnny Depp is co-producing a new version of "Dark Shadows" an fave childhood show of mine. No mention of him playing Barnabus Collins, tho.

Who'd play Quentin? Victoria Winters? Elizabeth Collins Stoddard? And Dr. Julia Hoffman? (although no one can replace Joan Bennett and Grayson Hall for the last two)

"Depp lights up 'Dark Shadows'
Graham King to produce Warner feature


Johnny Depp is getting in touch with his inner vampire.

Warner Bros. is teaming with Depp's Infinitum-Nihil and Graham King's GK Films to develop a feature based on the '60s daytime supernatural sudser "Dark Shadows."

Depp has said in interviews that he has always been obsessed with "Dark Shadows" and had, as a child, wanted to be Barnabas Collins, the vampire patriarch of the series. The role was originated by Jonathan Frid.

A rights deal just closed with the estate of Dan Curtis, the producer/director who created the soap that aired weekdays on ABC, from 1966 to 1971. Depp and King will produce with David Kennedy, who ran Dan Curtis Prods. until Curtis died last year of a brain tumor. Infinitum-Nihil's Christi Dembrowski served as the point person on the deal.

Over 1,225 episodes, "Dark Shadows" was a highly atmospheric, spooky soap that featured gothic horror staples like vampires, monsters, witches, werewolves, ghosts and zombies. The show has a continuing rabid fan base that populates Dark Shadows Festival conventions. Numerous TV revivals of the series and pic adaptations have been attempted over the years but none with as high-wattage a star as Depp.

Depp, who is coming off "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and who just wrapped the Tim Burton-directed "Sweeney Todd," is next expected to star in "Shantaram," a Mira Nair-directed adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that Depp, King and Plan B are producing for Warner Bros. Depp, King and WB are also mobilizing to make a film about the life of Alexander Litvinenko, with Depp poised to play the former KGB agent, who was fatally poisoned. "

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Tardis in Trouble! And Staring Down Another Birthday.

The Tardis in Trouble!
Originally uploaded by azLee
My new desktop courtesy of Powerbooktrance and can be found here.

Anyway, yes I'm still alive! Just thought I'd post so y'all (well, what readers I have left, other than the ones STILL looking for pix of a nekkid Hugh Jackman) didn't think I abandoned here.

I finished my MicroFlacid Excel class this evening after a 100 pt., 100 task final so I'm officially on vacation till Aug. 22 when fall semester kicks in so I'll have the time to blog and actually do those memes I've been promising to do! (Josh and Texan Dave).

In other news, my mother, sister, and nephlet have threatened to visit me! They'll be here for the weekend of Aug, 10. Shit! It'll take me that long just to clean Casa de Clutter! They're (sis and nephlet) going to for 2 weeks for getting treatment (Myofascial Release) for my nephlet's myofascial pain syndrome and my sister's ,igraines to see if that helps her. My mom's just going for a vacation. Daddums is staying home in Florida since he can't really travel anymore.

Speaking of daddums, my mom moved back in a few weeks back, much to my and my sister's dismay. Her life, her choice, I guess. My shingles is healed but it still looks like a large birthmark on my back.

Also, my birthday's next Thursday!!! July 26th. I'll be 39....again. Prezzie are ALWAYS welcomed and my Wish List is there on the right side, bottom of the link list.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"What the Hell is a Bedazzler?"

Via Biscuit God Jeff via Uncle Bob.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

RIP Beverly Sills

RIP Beverly Sills
Originally uploaded by azLee
Beverly Sills, the All-American Diva, Is Dead at 78

Zombified! and Kylie Hears a Who.


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating



And for those Dr. Who and Kylie Minogue fans:

She'll be doing the Dr. Who Christmas special!

Kylie Minogue on board for Titanic festive special.

Via Jeffrey.