Monday, January 31, 2011

Flaming Stumble: An Idiot Abroad

I'd like to introduce a new feature for the Nose. I shall call it The Flaming Stumble. It's for the odd program we stumble upon and may never watch again, but recognize that its inherent weirdness might appeal to someone out there in television land. Hence, it's worth a shout out, however brief.

As my inaugural Stumble post, I'd like to recognize An Idiot Abroad, a strange little reality/comedy/travel program now running on (of all places) the Science channel. I don't actually get the Science channel on my too expensive HD Comcast line-up. I found the Idiot accidentally while sniffing around On Demand.

An Idiot Abroad features round faced Brit comic Karl Pilkington, as he travels to exotic places around the world. He's xenophobic, politically incorrect, mystified and miserable wherever he goes. His clueless persona has developed a cult following in the UK, as well as on XFM, and Gervais himself has proclaimed the hapless chap "the funniest man alive in Great Britain today". I watched an episode where Mr. Pilkington was sent to China, where he marveled more at the street food (roasted toad and scorpions on a stick) than the Great Wall. His head is as round as a billiard ball, and it is sort of riveting to watch him trudge through alien lands. Ricky and Stephen call him on a satellite cell phone occasionally to offer advice or howl with glee at his exploits.

Ubiquitous comic Ricky Gervais hosts An Idiot abroad along with his friend (and Extras regular) Stephen Merchant. He calls the show "the most expensive practical joke ever". The Science channel has buried it on Saturday nights at 10pm, where only the lonely, the curious and seekers of human oddities will find and love its eccentric charm.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

R.I.P. David Frye, Impressionist for Turbulent Times, and Charlie Callas, All-Around Funny Guy

Definitely too bad to hear about the passing last Monday of 77 year-old impressionist David Frye, 1934 - 2011. Frye plyed his trade smack in the middle of one the most notorious political eras in U.S. history, and fortunately for an impressionist, the world gave him Richard Nixon to work with. His dead-on and satirically-tinged portrayals in the voice and style of Nixon were both funny and frightening, capturing the absurdity as well as the amorality of the then-President's behavior.

Far from a one-note wonder, Frye also turned his talented observational powers and gift for precise mimicry, along with a keen sense of humor -- he once remarked that Gerald Ford looked " the guy in a science fiction movie who is the first one to see The Creature" -- on other political figures of the day and history, as well as the usual gamut of Hollywood stars.

Not very long ago David Frye set up a YouTube channel where he posted a wonderful selection of his own appearances. It's sad to consider that he is gone now but let's hope that someone maintains his site and keeps his talented memory going strong.

Frye was a mainstay on television during his heyday, making frequent appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, with the Smothers Brothers on their savvy variety hour, Ed Sullivan on his decidedly more mainstream iconic weekly hour, and many others. Unlike another talented impressionist of the day Frank Gorshin, Frye never migrated his talent for mimicry into acting as himself, instead building up a longtime career as a stage performer and nightclub headliner but naturally finding his fortunes wax and wane as the contemporary political scene changed and TV variety faded out.

The torchbearers for Frye's brand of mimicry today would be the cast of Saturday Night Live. Over the years they've skewered current political figures to much merriment and often with the help of skilled make-up (except for Tina Fey's generally unadorned Sarah Palin), but Frye was up there alone, with nothing but his plastic face and savage wit, to take on the big guys.

Show biz lost another comic last week, too. Charlie Callas, (left), memorable for his self-created panoply of crazy sounds and also for his set of classic impressions, died Thursday in Las Vegas at the age of 83. One of those "comedians' comedians" -- one of a select group of laughsters who were able to consistently able to crack up fellow comics -- Callas was a frequent guest at celebrity roasts and on three decades of variety shows from the 1960s onward. He was an antic performer, emphasizing idiosyncracies and adopting comedic twitches, as he created a unique performance style that was in great demand.

Callas branched out into more-or-less straight acting roles on many TV series during the 1960s, and especially during his three year stint on producer Glen Larson's lighthearted TV detective series Switch co-starring Eddie Albert, Robert Wagner and Sharon Gless. Callas' character of Argo was kind of an Artemus Gordon man-of-many-faces ex-con man, and the show gave the multi-talented comedian a chance to shine in a more conventional venue.

What's most poignant about the passing of Charlie Callas and David Frye is that it continues the gradual ending of an era, as older comedians, born into a different show business tradition, raised before our eyes on TV and in nightclubs, reach the end of their lives. We may not even necessarily find their comic styles "funny" anymore -- there's little detached irony but instead plenty of possibly quaint and exaggerated physical transformations in their comic creations -- but these were the guys who inspired the current crop of middle-aged comedians and possibly even some of the younger ones out there. They were the Old Masters of Comedy, and we salute them.

(For more information on the subject, definitely check out the embedded links above to learn more about Frye and Callas, and also seek out more video of their performances on YouTube and elsewhere.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster: 25th Anniversary

It was a cold January morning in central Florida, 25 years ago today, that complacency with the NASA space program received a terrible wake-up call. In a mission that was considered so routine that only CNN was covering it (and none of the major broadcast networks), the actual moment of the Challenger space shuttle disaster went unnoticed by most. It has been reported that due to the television coverage immediately following the event, 85% of all Americans knew within an hour that the Challenger launch had experienced what Mission Control called "obviously a major malfunction". If it happened today, that window of communication would have been seconds, now that most people have access to the Internet. I don't know what's more amazing; that it has only been 25 years since this event...or that 25 years ago there was no Internet.

Prior to the disaster, STS-51 was known primarily (if it was recognized at all) as the mission that was going to carry the first U.S. school teacher into space. Her name was Christa McAuliffe, and she was a 37 year old mother of two. She joined a crew that was so diverse, it can only be compared to the TV crew of the original Star Trek's starship Enterprise. Fittingly, the 1986 movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was dedicated to the memory of the lost Challenger astronauts. That crew included 46 year old commander Dick Scobee, who's final words "go with throttle up" can be heard on the video I've posted below. Pilot Michael Smith was only 40 years old. African American astronaut Ronald McNair was a 35 year old Mission Specialist, and Ellison Onizuka was a 39 year old Japanese American from the Big Island of Hawaii. 41 year old payload specialist Greg Jarvis and 36 year old Mission Specialist Judith Resnik formed the rest of the crew. There is a beautiful memorial to these brave lost pioneers of space today on It also includes tributes to the lost astronaut heroes from Apollo 1 and the Space Shuttle Colombia, which had an incredibly successful mission before it broke up upon re-entry to the earth's atmosphere on the way home.

I remember well the horror of the Challenger disaster, and the heart wrenching memorial that followed three days later. President Reagan gave the eulogy, and I watched it on TV with my staff at KTTV, the FOX affiliate in Los Angeles. We cried our eyes out. Yes, 25 years ago you could actually take time out of a work day to watch a tribute to fallen American astronauts on TV. Like I said earlier, it was before the Internet.

Many investigations followed the tragedy, and the space program was on hold for years. It was ultimately discovered that faulty O-Rings on the solid rocket booster (created by contractor Morton Thiokol) were responsible for failing on that frosty morning. Many NASA procedures were re-vamped and changed completely as a result of this failure.

The U.S. space shuttle program is about to come to a close, with the last mission (STS-135: Atlantis) tentatively scheduled for June 2011. This mission is only tentatively scheduled in case it is needed to bring home the astronauts from the official final mission (STS-134), which is now set for April.

The fate of NASA and the entire space program seems uncertain, as budget cuts loom. For the first time ever, American Astronauts will have to hitch a ride on Russian rockets to travel to and from the International Space Station. It appears that there will be few manned missions in the future, which will only compound the tragedy that took place 25 years ago. The pioneer spirit is a core component of the American soul, and exploring the unknown will always captivate our imaginations. In the memory of those that gave their lives for space exploration, I hope the program will continue to thrive.

A few years after the Challenger disaster, I heard another American hero speak at a Hollywood television luncheon. Walter Cronkite enthralled the crowd with anecdotes about all the news events he had covered and the amazing people he had interviewed through much of the 20th century. He told a story about meeting with some Soviet cosmonauts, who had participated in the MIR space station program. They revealed that they brought a photo of the Challenger crew up to the MIR, and kept it posted on the deck of their station as a memorial. Brothers and sisters in space, their camaraderie transcended the Cold War.

Rest in peace astronaut pioneers. For you have "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God". (John Magee, "High Flight")

Monday, January 24, 2011

Remembering Jack LaLanne, 1914 - 2011

Though you know personalities you grew up with aren't going to live forever, it was still sad to read this morning about Sunday's death, at age 96, of fitness guru and television exercise star Jack LaLanne. LaLanne was an irrepressible advocate for clean healthy living, good nutrition, vigorous exercise and a sunny attitude, but if he sounds like a self-righteous do-gooder, that's not what he represented at all. LaLanne was a charming and unique celebrity whose long life would seem to be the ultimate validation of his positive lifestyle.

In addition to being a genuine body-builder, LaLanne was a true pioneer of early television, hosting his own exercise show in San Francisco beginning in 1951, and eventually moving to ABC network where it ran for many years. The lively LaLanne's business empire of sorts branched out
into exercise equipment, fitness centers and of course the Jack LaLanne Juicer, which he and his wife Marilyn (who survives him) enthusiastically hawked for many

He was also a frequent guest on TV talk shows, basically right up until the end, and continued to make headlines with the physical prowess stunts he performed, usually LaLanne swimming great distances or towing boats through the water using only his incredible strength and fitness ability. Jack was not only a health advocate but also a delightful spokesman for the movement, preferring to inspire his audiences rather than scold them as they took their often first steps to physical fitness. The ESPN Classic cable channel used to rerun his shows years ago, and he was as funny and watchable as ever. There's a great selection of LaLanne videos on YouTube, too, as well as LaLanne's own website.

We've never needed Jack LaLanne more than we do today, but now we're going to have to draw upon his inspiration and memory to goad us into taking fitness and nutrition seriously, but not grimly. He was able to to make fitness seem fun and important, and his message was aimed at all people, young and old, of all shapes. Jack LaLanne was enthusiasm personified, and he will be missed.

Be sure to visit the links included in this article for more information about this charismatic American icon, and also go to his own website which is lots of fun. Jack LaLanne was a national treasure, and an important part of TV's wonderful history.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Piers Morgan on CNN Snags a Ricky Gervais Interview: Post Golden Globes!

CNN's popular new Piers Morgan talk show scored another big coup (it premiered with Oprah as the first guest last week) by getting red hot Ricky Gervais to come on and explain himself following his controversial hosting of the Golden Globe awards a few nights ago. Is there anybody left on the planet who hasn't weighed in on his funny but dark skewering of Hollywood's elite at the loosest, drunkest award show on the planet? I mean come ON, it's not as if the GG's are the Academy Awards, for heaven sakes. It's not as if he swallowed a live hamster on stage or had a wardrobe malfunction. He basically did a comedy roast while most of the celebrities in attendance laughed uproariously and a few looked mildly uncomfortable. Some (Robert Downey Jr most notably) even nipped back at the great Gervais and offered up their own cutting words of wit . I can't believe that days following Lisa's post on the subject, folks are still humming and buzzing and tweeting themselves into a frenzy over a comedian doing the job he was hired for.

Piers gave Gervais his first shot at explaining himself in depth and it was a very thoughtful interview. I like the Piers Morgan style, it's very low key and unassuming...he really lets his guests shine. I was charmed by Ricky's goofy laugh, which is genuine and irresistible. I've always loved him, and although there were a few minutes at the Globes that made me cringe (poor Cher!), I don't think he should go to jail for his comments. Everybody has taken it far too seriously. What would have been unforgivable at the Oscars was pretty much OK for the Globes. And besides, a few years back, nobody cared about the Golden Globes or even watched them on TV. They've only recently become a big hairy deal. The producers should be glad for all the publicity.

The best part of tonight's interview was when Piers asked Ricky which 3 other American comedians he would bring with him to a deserted island. And one of his picks was our own beloved Flaming Nose favorite Louis CK! Apparently Gervais is to appear on an upcoming HBO special featuring Louis CK as well as Jerry Seinfeld, talking about humor. Now THAT will be funny.

Catch the new Piers Morgan show on CNN, Weeknights from 6-7pm. Tomorrow night (Friday) he'll feature George Clooney.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Netflix Continues to Entertain Us

As an interesting follow-up to Jane's love letter to Netflix two weeks ago -- and I'm right there with her -- you might enjoy reading another recent and related article from The Hollywood Reporter. Paul Bond's "What Hollywood Execs Privately Say About Netflix" examines the Netflix surge via opinions from those behind the scenes at studios and cable nets. They're the ones either hating Netflix for allegedly stealing viewers, or making money from making deals with Netflix to allow the service to carry their material, or mostly probably hating Netflix for figuring out that what people want most is easy access to streaming content.

The way I see it, the Netflix suppliers should be thrilled that another way for them to make more money from the same ol' content has showed up. Just as cable TV networks jumped in to pay big bucks for programming when local independent broadcast stations were no longer snapping up syndicated series and movie packages for their line-ups, now Netflix is out licensing library product and paying what sounds like good money for those rights.

Just follow the money on this one. Pay the suppliers enough and they'll be Netflix' biggest fans. It's so weird though that this comes down to another monopoly springing up -- Hulu has its good points, but if the same shows were on Netflix I'd rather watch them there. Hulu isn't as neat an experience.

Here's what TV fans want: Everything ever made, at our fingertips, to watch when we want, without interruption, at a reasonable price. Is that really so much to ask? I don't think so. I just hope I live long enough to see it happen!

SyFy Channel Original Movies Make the "NY Times"

The past Sunday the New York Times had a longish article about those original movies that SyFy Channel churns out for their Saturday nights. The productions aren't going to get critical acclaim, but they do serve a purpose even if I wish they were better. I love monster movies, and disaster movies, and 2nd tier actors and actresses battling CGI creatures, but there's usually always something missing in these movies. They usually take a potentially intriguing concept -- by cheapie monster movie standards -- and somehow suck the life and fun out of it. I'm always a little disappointed with those SyFy original movies.

I have liked a few, though, including S.S. Doomtrooper, a WW II actioner with a band of soldiers battling a huge metallic monster right out of a videogame; Manticore, with Robert
Beltran and Heather O'Donahue as U.S. soldiers in the Middle East battling a huge scaly monster from antiquity, and Monster Ark, with the White Collar's Tim DeKay (he's always great) and Renee O'Connor (Zena's sidekick) in some kind of ancient Biblical adventure, I can't even recall the specifics. There are others that are at sort of fun (Buffy's Nicholas Brendon has appeared in at least one), and that should be key goal of these movies, but they often miss the mark. Plus, the actors are often just plain bad. They need to put at least one real actor in the cast to give the rest of them something to aspire to -- but they often don't.

But SyFy got a good article in Sunday's New York Times, so there.

If you're a SyFy viewer or a television aficionado you'll enjoy the information. Being a former TV Programming person myself, at the very least I respect SyFy for producing movies that aim to entertain an audience, as opposed to the myriad of made-fors that were made at TNT during the '90s that were neither entertaining nor praiseworthy, but hey, at least they were ridiculously expensive. And pretty much completely forgettable, nearly all of them. That's a worse crime than making silly junk that amuses people, I reckon.

Definitely check out the article -- "The Thing That Ate Saturday Night" by Brooks Barnes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Did You Watch Ricky Gervais Host "The Golden Globes" Last Night?

I've got it DVRed to watch today. I read a couple of things about him being quite savage, which is understandable perhaps, and he can do that easily. I have to say I liked his opening monologue here. I'm looking for the whole show online, but until now, this will have to do, and it's pretty good. And kinda mean.

Just on the edge of being unsuitable -- expected for Ricky Gervais. I recently watched his newest HBO comedy special and there was less of the charm and more bile, which maybe is his thing now that he's so popular. Though he's coasting nicely on his The Office residuals and his Extras was incredible TV, he's made a couple of movies which were quite good but he's yet to break much ground as a big screen performer. (The Invention of Lying is highly recommended.)He's got a lot of heart and maybe that's not what's on order these days, but let's not hope he's going to lose his whimsical Everyman personality forever.

Has all his success just made it easier for Gervais to stop playing nice and be the bastard he was all along? I can't quite fathom that's the case here, but there's more than a pint of bitter brewing in there...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beyond Scared Straight on TV Tonight

Heads up for what promises to be a chilling series premier on A&E tonight at 10pm. It's time for a whole new generation of juvenile delinquents to shocked out of their ear-buds by a taste of life in the Big House. Beyond Scared Straight takes up where 1978 best documentary Oscar winner "Scared Straight" left off. Incorrigible teenage kids who are on the path to destruction are taken inside a prison to hear/feel/see what life will be like for them if they don't change their evil, evil ways.

Personal note: I recall my first year working at KTLA-TV in Los Angeles when Director Arnold Shapiro won the Academy Award for his ground breaking film "Scared Straight". He walked into the lobby waving the gold Oscar statue around like a baton, and I got to hold it. In case you're wondering, an Oscar is super heavy.

Tonight's 90 minute opening episode takes place in Chowchilla, the California women's prison. If you click on the website link above, you'll get a sneak peak of what happens when some cocky youngsters get a cold, hard glimpse of reality behind bars. It's not for the faint of heart. These are not Martha Stewart prisoners, ladies and gentlemen. Who knew women could have so many home made tattoos?

Take a look at the promo below. Compelling television. And if it keeps one kid on the straight and narrow, all the better!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 -- "The Outer Limits" for the New Year!

There's a wonderful internet experience going on and we'd like to point you there. A couple of terrific and talented writers and TV experts are tackling a grand task -- watching and critiquing every episode of the brilliant early 1960s' science fiction/horror series The Outer Limits. As a practically life-long fan of TOL, I can tell you that this is a sacred and important mission Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri are on. The Outer Limits is one of those very special TV series which continues to gain fans and respect as time goes by. No way this show is going to be forgotten! (Below, Martin Landau in the haunting "The Man Who Was Never Born", co-starring Shirley Knight.)

Just before embarking on the TOL project, Peter and John finished up a similar episode-by-episode treatment for the 1960s' horror anthology series Thriller, which is also definitely worth checking out. Not only are the fellas smart and completely in the know about genre TV, literature, and almost everything else, they're also a bunch of fun to read and not at all stolid or humorless in their appreciation of the series that they cover. That's what I really like -- people who love TV but who can love all the absurdities and crazy bits that make us love the programs all the more.

If you're new to The Outer Limits, I would suggest that you start watching. All the episodes are available on Hulu, plus you can pick up DVD sets for bargain prices these days. There are only 49 episodes, so it's not like you're going to be playing catch-up the rest of your life. Nothing too daunting here, and with Enfantino and Scoleri's commentary to guide you onward, you'll end up with a keen understanding of just what makes TOL a keeper. (Left, David McCallum in his terrifying and brilliant role in "The Sixth Finger".)

Much as I'd like to post it here, it seems that there are no versions on YouTube of the famous The Outer Limits opening that can be embedded -- boo to that! However, I did find a nice piece, from TNT back in 1991, when we ran an entire night of TOL on our groovy MonsterVision franchise. Guess who programmed that, naturally? Please -- my department was dedicated to only bringing you the best of TV, what would you expect? We had just gotten the series in a big package of MGM titles -- practically the best thing in the whole deal! -- and we couldn't wait to get them on our science fiction movie franchise. So here is a little interstitial piece that the production kids put together for that initial marathon -- thanks to YT user Videoholic90sA for keeping, finding and posting this bit of history!

There's nothing like The Outer Limits -- not Twilight Zone, not Night Gallery, not any other anthology, and definitely not the TOL remake from the 1990s, thought there were some great segments. If you remember, it premiered on Showtime back then as one of their original productions, and initially had lots of soft-core nudity from an interesting bunch of actors and actresses. Once it began to be re-run it was edited, but it did add another dimension to the show, I will say that!

Bottom Line: Go to Peter and John's wonderful We Are Controlling Transmission website! Give them some feedback and thanks for taking on this delightful project! An added treat on the site are reprints from the ultimate TOL book written by David S. Schow, and he's also a frequent commenter there. You can totally get your The Outer Limits geek on -- I sure am!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

True Wit: "Wishful Drinking" on HBO

For the past few weeks, HBO has been featuring Carrie Fisher in a special that showcases her Broadway memoir hit "Wishful Drinking". If you have cable, you can easily find it under HBO "Specials". Kids with famous, artistic parents are hit or miss in the talent department. They can be be masters (certainly Natalie Cole's pipes are the equal of her Dad's...the same goes for Liza Minelli and her Mom Judy Garland). Jane and her father Henry were both Oscar winners. The Barrymores have top acting DNA that extends to four generations.

Sometimes the talent gene doesn't quite float to the top. Nancy Sinatra comes to mind.

Carrie Fisher, best known as Princess Leia from the first three Star Wars movies, is a very interesting Hollywood Dynasty case. Her mother was a movie star (Debbie Reynolds) her father a popular singer (Eddie Fisher). And she was married briefly to rock-folk superstar Paul Simon. No one would ever accuse Ms. Fisher of being a serious actress, but she does have a talent that precious few celebrity spawn can claim. She is a serious wit. And this 70 minute feature perfectly showcases her dark, self depreciating humor...whether it's growing up in the glare of the spotlight when Dad left Mom for Liz Taylor, or the simultaneous ridicule (from the side braid buns) AND worship (from countless geeky Sci Fi nerds) that her role in the Lucas trilogy still causes wherever she goes. She is delighted and stable enough to enjoy the fact that her Star Wars character inspired her own Pez dispenser. She is honest and brave enough to admit that she has had electroshock therapy to help with addictions and Bipolar disorder. Ms. Fisher is the smartest girl in the class for sure, and that's just not something you see every day amongst the privileged next generations on Rodeo Drive . No wonder Tina Fey featured her as a guest star on 30 Rock last season. She made it cool for an actress to be smart long before Liz Lemon started captivating us with her glasses.

Here's a little taste from the show where Carrie explains why she went "bra-less" under that floppy white Star Wars robe. Funny!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Netflix for the New Year

This is not a news flash because it has been operating for a while, but if you haven't gotten around to trying Netflix, there's never been a better time to start. I re-enlisted about a month ago and it has improved significantly over the past year. First of all, it's not just about movie titles, although there are about a gazillion of those available, all nicely arranged by genre. If television is what you're looking for, there are thousands of episodes and entire seasons. Those are arranged by genre too. You can hunt for classic TV shows, sci-fi, dramas, comedies or documentaries. There is even a miniseries section, which (alas) does not yet have ABC's Stephen King classic The Stand, although it says it's coming.

The best part about the all new Netflix is that much of its content is available instantly. That's right, no waiting for the DVD in the mail. If you have a PC or a laptop or an HDTV, you can stream TV shows and movies on the spot. You can also hook up an XBOX, PS3 or Wii to your TV set and watch with those devices as well. It is, without question, the coolest thing for TV and movie junkies ever. Check out the weird list of programs old and new that I've streamed over the past few days:

Tigers of the Snow

Dogs Decoded: Nova

Berkeley in the Sixties

Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West

Lonesome Dove: Leaving (4 episodes)

Auschwitz: Ep. 1: Surprising Beginnings (6 episodes)

Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire

Touching the Void

Battlestar: Ssn 1: 33 (15 pisodes)

As you can see, Netflix also very nicely kept a tally of what I've ordered so far. It's always asking me to rate the content, so it can use its Artificial Intelligence algorithm to determine what I might like next. I have no idea what it would make from the list above. It should just suggest David Lynch's "Eraserhead" for anyone that has this kind of eclectic roster.All of this endless fascinating content (unlimited DVD's and instant streaming) is available for around $8 a month. I also got the first month free. How is that kind of pricing even possible? I'll tell you right now, I'm never paying the high cost of PPV again. If anything is going to offer solid competition to cable, this is it. Netflix already has 16 million members in the U.S. and Canada, and they are growing like gang busters. Plus they just announced that a number of the world's leading electronics companies will place the Netflix "One-Click" option on their remote controls so Netflix content can be streamed by pressing a button.

Netflix is located in beautiful Los Gatos (my neighbor!) and is one of the fastest growing tech companies in Silicon Valley. I think it's heaven and I can't remember the last time I was so enchanted with a content pipeline. Not even my early addiction/adoption of YouTube comes close. What a wonderful world where I can stream a Nat Geo episode about Siberian Tigers one night and eagerly await a special edition of the classic movie "East of Eden" in tomorrow's mail. It's gonna be a great year for viewing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"I Love Lucy" on NPR's "Studio 360" Radio Show!

As you may know, The Flaming Nose TV Blog is named for Lucille Ball's famous Hollywood moment in I Love Lucy where she sets her nose on fire when Desi brings William Holden home to meet her. We love Lucy, and just came across this entertaining and informative radio hour from this past October on National Public Radio's Studio 360 program, part of their "American Icons" series, all about I Love Lucy and its place in American culture. It's well worth a listen!

You can find it here. We think you'll also want to meander around the Studio 360 site a lot; there are archived programs on all sorts of interesting topics. I just listened to one about The Wizard of Oz and it was terrific! You can also get the show on your IPhone and they're on Facebook, too, of course -- all the latest fancy technology, don't you know?

P.S.: We'd also like to put in a plug for a charming couple who are vying to win a Lucille Ball Hometown Wedding contest. We really love the I Love Lucy video that Belinda Campos and Jonathan Moctezuma put together, a wonderful reenactment of the classic scene where Lucy gives Ricky a messy scalp treatment when he thinks he's going bald. Belinda and Jonathan do a wonderful job and deserve your support! You can vote for them online here, and you can vote once a day until February 11th, so get in there and help them out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Remembering Anne Francis, 1930 - 2011

We've learned today of the death of lovely actress Anne Francis, gorgeous beyond belief and also an extremely talented, intelligent and classy human being. She's probably best remembered, at least by pop culture super-aficionados, for her 1956 co-starring role as Altaira in the classic science fiction movie Forbidden Planet, where she understandably caught the eye of stalwart space captain Leslie Nielsen.

Anne Francis also worked constantly in television throughout her entire career, and started many a boomer boy's heart a'thumping with her starring role (Emmy-nominated, too) as super-sexy secret agent Honey West -- remember her pet ocelot? -- in the 1965-1966 series of the same name. Though it only lasted one 30-episode season, Honey West in the super groovy form of Anne Francis lives on in sweet memory and also now in a newly-released DVD set. (Anne as Honey had been introduced in an episode of the Gene Barry-starring Burke's Law).

Outside of Honey West, what a stunning small screen career she had, studded with milestones. How about her truly unforgettable turn as the slightly bewildered department store shopper Marsha in "The After Hours" episode of Twilight Zone? More than one TZone marathon has been redeemed by this eerie half-hour, which also boasts a wonderful comic performance by the great James Millhollin. From Miss Francis' early work in TV anthologies of the period, to over one hundred or so guest roles on all the biggest series of the past fifty years, she was always a welcome sight and one of the most luscious ladies in Hollywood.

You couldn't miss her on your TV set: Route 66, Dr. Kildare, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Alfred Hitchcock, Arrest and Trial, Death Valley Days, Ben Casey, The Fugitive, The Invaders, Mission: Impossible, The Name of the Game, The Virginian, My Three Sons, Gunsmoke, Columbo, Cannon, The F.B.I., Ironside, Barnaby Jones, S.W.A.T., Black Sheep Squadron, Police Woman, Hawaii 5-O, Dallas, Fantasy Island, CHiPS, Simon and Simon, Trapper John, The Love Boat, Riptide, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Wings, Home Improvement, The Drew Carey Show, and many others.

Anne Francis was a Hollywood survivor with legions of fans and admirers. Do look her up and try to watch some of her appearances -- I'll try to link to some more in the next few days.