RIP, Andy Hallett

Andy Hallett, who played Lorne the singing demon on Angel, has passed away at the far too young age of 33.

The actor passed away at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after a five-year battle with heart disease, with his father Dave Hallett by his side.

Hallett, from the Cape Cod village of Osterville, Mass., appeared on more than 70 episodes of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff, Angel, between 2000 and 2004. The accomplished actor was also a musician and sang two songs ("Lady Marmalade" and "It's Not Easy Being Green") on the Angel: Live Fast, Die Never soundtrack, released in 2005.

The actor's character on Angel was Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, or Lorne for short. Hallett's Lorne was a friendly demon, who, when not assisting Angel and his team in the investigation of various and sundry underworld mysteries, served as the host and headliner at a demon bar.

Back in 2001, Hallett told our own Jen Godwin that despite constant flirtation with David Boreanaz' character Angel, and the occasional sly Elton John reference, "We don't really know if he's gay. I don't really know. It's funny, because sometimes he's right in Angel's face, and that's when I feel it the most. And viewers would probably think, hmm, what's going on here? This guy's pretty curvy."

Hallett has spent his post-Angel years working on his music career, playing shows around the country. He had been admitted to the hospital three or four times in the past few years for his heart condition, according to [his longtime agent and friend Pat Brady].

He was one of my favorite characters on that show. I'm so sad to hear this. Rest in peace, Andy Hallett. I'll sing a few show tunes tonight in your memory.

04/03/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Bruno and Dr. No

Um, wow.

Presidential candidates will do almost anything for publicity. But Ron Paul's appearance in Sacha Baron Cohen's upcoming Bruno movie suggests he draws the line at making sex tapes with gay Austrian TV hosts.

In a five-minute scene, comedian Cohen tries--and fails--to seduce the Texas congressman and former Republican presidential candidate in a Washington hotel room. A spokeswoman for Paul confirmed the appearance but declined to discuss details, which were provided by two people who attended a test screening last week.


The scene with Paul, filmed in early 2008, occurs about halfway through the movie, after Bruno gets the idea that you have to make a sex tape to become famous.

I got nothin'. Thanks to Banjo for searing that image into my brain.

03/21/09 | permalink | comments [0]

The "Dollhouse" dilemma

Tiffany and I have been enjoying the new show Dollhouse lately. Its premise is a bit complicated, and I'm not sure if it can be sustained long-term, but so far it's been worth our time to watch. Recently, I came across this analysis of the show and its premise, which postulates that its own existence dooms it to failure, and I thought it was worth sharing. I don't know that I agree with the author's perspective here, but it's got me thinking. Anyway, read and see what you think. Link via Chad.

03/10/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Movie night of the future

So I was reading this FireDogLake post that used the movie "The Wizard of Oz" as a metaphor for the changing of the guard in Washington, DC, and it got me to thinking about how I can't wait till my girls are old enough for that movie so I can watch it with them. I remember how much I looked forward to that film's annual airing on TV, back in the Stone Age days when that was our only option for viewing a favorite movie. Anyway, based on the warm fuzzy feelings I got from that spate of nostalgia, here's a list of the Top Ten movies I'm looking forward to watching with Olivia and Audrey some day:

1. The Wizard of Oz. - I just hope the flying monkeys don't freak them out as much as they did me.

2. Miracle on 34th Street - The original, of course. I love me some "It's A Wonderful Life", but this one is my favorite Christmas movie of them all.

3. A Christmas Story - And this is the first runnerup behind "Miracle".

4. Star Wars - I wonder if they'll love Han Solo as much as Tiffany does.

5. The Princess Bride - Some of these movies are here just to ensure they get the references I make to them. Well, that and the fact that they're great movies.

6. Better Off Dead - This one will have to wait a little longer, but that's okay.

7. Snow White - I could pick just about any classic Disney animated movie here (other than "Bambi", which is a movie I do not want them to watch any time soon), but we'll start with this one.

8. The Sound of Music - Yeah, I like musicals. Deal with it.

9. It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - We recently watched the episode of "The Muppet Show" that had Ethel Merman as the guest star. She stole every scene she played in this movie, no mean feat given the vast amount of star power it contained.

10. The Harry Potter movies - And the accompanying books will be on the list of books I can't wait to read with the girls, along with "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". But that's a list for another day.

So. What movies have you enjoyed/do you plan to enjoy with your kids? Let me know.

02/15/09 | permalink | comments [4]

Remake my day

I'm not remotely qualified to pass judgment on these twelve possible remakes of "classic" sci-fi movies. (Pete Von Der Haar, please call your office.) But I will say one thing:

"Flash! Flash, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the earth!"

I think that about covers it.

12/05/08 | permalink | comments [1]

RIP, Paul Newman

Hollywood's star is a little dimmer today.

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as the anti-hero of such films as Hud, Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money -- and as an activist, race car driver and popcorn impresario -- has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.

In May, Newman had dropped plans to direct a fall production of Of Mice and Men, citing unspecified health issues.

He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world's most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including Exodus, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, The Sting and Absence of Malice.

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in Butch Cassidy and The Sting.

He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood's rare long-term marriages. "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?" Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in The Long Hot Summer, and Newman directed her in several films, including Rachel, Rachel and The Glass Menagerie.

With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. "I was always a character actor," he once said. "I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood."

It's been years since I've last seen it, but The Sting was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I also loved Newman in The Hudsucker Proxy; he wasn't a regular in Coen Brothers films, but from his performance in that one, he could have been. Rest in peace, Paul Newman.

UPDATE: Good grief, I can't believe I forgot to mention Slap Shot. Shame on me.

09/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

RIP, Don LaFontaine

I am sad to say that we are now in a world where Don LaFontaine, the well-known movie trailer voiceover guy, is no longer living.

Don LaFontaine, the man who popularized the now loved-catch phrase, "in a world where..." and lent his voice to thousands of movie trailers, has died. He was 68.

LaFontaine died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications in the treatment of an ongoing illness, said Vanessa Gilbert, his agent.

LaFontaine made more than 5,000 trailers in his 33-year career while working for the top studios and television networks.

In a rare on-screen appearance in 2006, he parodied himself on a series of national television commercials for a car insurance company where he played himself telling a customer, "In a world where both of our cars were totally under water ..."

In an interview last year, LaFontaine explained the strategy behind the phrase.

"We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to," he said of his viewers. "That's very easily done by saying, 'In a world where ... violence rules.' 'In a world where ... men are slaves and women are the conquerors.' You very rapidly set the scene."

You can get a feel for the LaFontaine style from this episode of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" in which he played their "Not My Job" game. Rest in peace, Don LaFontaine.

09/02/08 | permalink | comments [1]

One banana, two banana, three banana, four

Via Sandra, I see that one of my childhood TV staples, the Banana Splits, are on their way back to the small screen. Those of you who are children of the 70s will cheer or shudder as the case may be. Those of you who are too young to remember this foolishness, I recommend watching the video at Sandra's post. And for those of you who now have their theme song permanently wedged into your brain, I offer my sincere apologies.

08/31/08 | permalink | comments [1]

RIP, Larry Harmon

Larry Harmon, who played Bozo the Clown for over 50 years, has died at the age of 83.

Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.

"You might say, in a way, I was cloning BTC (Bozo the Clown) before anybody else out there got around to cloning DNA," Harmon told the AP in a 1996 interview.

"Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us," Harmon said.

Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney's Goofy, was the first Bozo the Clown, a character created by writer-producer Alan W. Livingston for a series of children's records in 1946. Livingston said he came up with the name Bozo after polling several people at Capitol Records.


The business -- combining animation, licensing of the character, and personal appearances -- made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets.

"I'm looking for that sparkle in the eyes, that emotion, feeling, directness, warmth. That is so important," he said of his criteria for becoming a Bozo.

The Chicago version of Bozo ran on WGN-TV in Chicago for 40 years and was seen in many other cities after cable television transformed WGN into a superstation.

Bozo -- portrayed in Chicago for many years by Bob Bell -- was so popular that the waiting list for tickets to a TV show eventually stretched to a decade, prompting the station to stop taking reservations for 10 years. On the day in 1990 when WGN started taking reservations again, it took just five hours to book the show for five more years. The phone company reported more than 27 million phone call attempts had been made.

By the time the show bowed out in Chicago, in 2001, it was the last locally produced version. Harmon said at the time that he hoped to develop a new cable or network show, as well as a Bozo feature film.

I guess that means that the version of Bozo that I recall watching from my childhood featured some other dude as Bozo. Not that it really matters, I suppose, since whoever it was had been trained by the master himself. Rest in peace, Larry Harmon.

07/03/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Walle, WALL-E

Now this is what I call an unexpected bonanza.

Thanks to WALL-E, the endearing little robot that could, the political name game may have gotten a little bit easier for Armando Walle, the state representative candidate in District 140.

For much of his life, Walle has patiently offered the correct spelling of his family name -- pronounced Wally -- and explained the backstory on how he got his nontraditional, yet still very Hispanic surname.

"When I would get nametags, they would always misspell my name," said the 30-year-old North Houston Democrat, whose name was passed down from his Mexican-born father.

Before Disney came out with its computer-generated mass of metal, Walle used to hold up Mexican president Vincente Fox as an example.

"I'd tell people, 'He doesn't have a traditional Mexican name.' "

"Now," he added, "all I have to say is, 'It's like the movie.' "


After the March 3 primary, in which Walle defeated incumbent state Rep. Kevin Bailey, a huge billboard boasting WALL-E the movie went up on U.S. 59 north, near the real-life Walle's home.

Now, he said, people recognize the name all the time.

"Lately," he said, "it's been kinda crazy."

But in the good way, obviously. It's a nice thing to happen to a nice guy who will make a fine representative.

07/02/08 | permalink | comments [0]

It's not bad, it's a classic

06/22/08 | permalink | comments [2]

What not to watch

06/08/08 | permalink | comments [4]

RIP, Harvey Korman

05/30/08 | permalink | comments [2]

RIP, Dick Sutcliffe

05/22/08 | permalink | comments [1]

"The Electric Company" to ride again

05/18/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Get ready to get Lost again

04/24/08 | permalink | comments [0]

When reality needs a little help

04/23/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Interview with the Mythbusters

04/19/08 | permalink | comments [0]

About those new episodes...

02/21/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Save the 4400!

02/14/08 | permalink | comments [0]

At last! "Lost"!

01/30/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Are you ready for some Super Bowl ads?

01/29/08 | permalink | comments [0]

I'm excited about Charlie Wilson's War

12/19/07 | permalink | comments [5]

RIP, Dick Wilson

11/21/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Five Upcoming Comic Book Movies That Must Be Stopped

11/19/07 | permalink | comments [4]

RIP, Satriale's Pork Store

11/13/07 | permalink | comments [0]

One good reason to support the Writers in their strike

11/10/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Is cable programming killing network TV?

10/17/07 | permalink | comments [5]

Bionic Woman 2.0

09/29/07 | permalink | comments [4]

"Dirty Jobs"

09/05/07 | permalink | comments [0]

"The distinguished gentleman"

08/20/07 | permalink | comments [2]

"It's got raisins in it. You like raisins."

08/19/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Hot summer television

08/13/07 | permalink | comments [0]

RIP, Marvin Zindler

07/30/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Have You Seen SICKO?

07/05/07 | permalink | comments [5]

Google making me sick-o

07/03/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Shaq's Big Challenge

06/24/07 | permalink | comments [7]

How much would you pay for all that Comcasticness?

06/14/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Still spoiling

06/12/07 | permalink | comments [0]

So much for staying spoiler-free

06/11/07 | permalink | comments [1]

The final "Sopranos" tonight

06/10/07 | permalink | comments [0]

How would you run this marathon?

06/08/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Houston: The European car commercial backdrop city

06/05/07 | permalink | comments [1]

"Lost" Season 3 screen cap recap

05/30/07 | permalink | comments [2]


05/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

We have TiVo again

05/24/07 | permalink | comments [0]

A short rant about TiVo customer service

05/22/07 | permalink | comments [4]

"The Bionic Woman" lives

05/16/07 | permalink | comments [2]

The end of "Lost" is coming, but not quite yet

05/09/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Bilingual children's TV

05/09/07 | permalink | comments [1]

"The Sopranos In Seven Minutes"

04/08/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Ed Brandon announces his retirement

03/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

John Belushi

03/12/07 | permalink | comments [3]

"Speed of lightning, roar of thunder..."

03/03/07 | permalink | comments [0]

How do you TiVo?

02/20/07 | permalink | comments [2]

K-Fed apologizes to fast food workers

02/04/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Would you like fries with that, K-Fed?

01/28/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Film screening on Texas parks

01/25/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

01/23/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Revisiting the end of "Lost"

01/19/07 | permalink | comments [2]