Lose yourself in the links, forage among the favorites, comandeer the conversation. I'm off duty.
Lose yourself in the links, forage among the favorites, comandeer the conversation. I'm off duty.
Sylvester Stallone wasn't the underdog he was made out to be?
Hollywood Today contends that the whole unknown-who-convinces-a-studio-to-let-him-star-in-his-own-screenplay story was just that - a story, cooked up by spinners and served by Stallone, himself.
Accounts of the day had Stallone walking into United Artists with his hand-written script and not giving up until they agreed to let him play Rocky. Studio heads told that tale. Stallone, himself, told it while doing press for the 1976 Oscar winner.
But according to the piece by Alex Ben Block - published as the sixth and final Rocky movie is about to open - no one at United Artists objected to Stallone playing Rocky. They never even met him before filming. It was such a low-budget project for the producers that UA paid it little attention. Some execs assumed that Perry King was gong to play the title role. (At one point the studio head asked why a blond, blue-eyed actor would be playing an Italian-American club fighter from Philly. The answer - his people were northern Italians - worked, and the matter was dropped.)
Block, a former associate editor at Forbes, writes in the new online magazine that he started working on his little expose five years ago. Parts had been made public before. (It looks like here's one such piece, a 2002 Entertainment Weekly feature.) Block talked to several former studio execs, and quoted them by name:
We came up with a tremendous publicity campaign,” recalled Gabe Sumner, then head of marketing at UA. “It was about how this unknown guy named Sylvester Stallone walked into our office with a script and the company was prepared to buy the script, but Stallone said, ‘I’m not going to sell it to you unless I star in the film.’ And we (supposedly) said, ‘No way.’ And he said, ‘Well, you can’t have the script.’ And we said, ‘We will give you $18,000.’ And that was the figure we used. And a deal was made and Stallone could star in this film which he wrote. And he got all of $18,000. Now is this true? It was horsesh*t! But it worked. It promoted the whole underdog concept and kept on going.”
“I don’t have to tell you how the press feeds on the underdog story,” said Sumner. “It filled up space on entertainment pages, and in columns looking for something for the next day. They ate up the idea that this actor loved his work so much, and was willing to sell it for a nickel and a dime in order to make it, blah, blah, blah. It all became part of the underdog fabric that brought people in. Period. They just totally bought into it.”
Stallone's representatives told Block "we stand by Sylvester Stallone's story as accurate truth."
Former UA president Eric Plescow told Block:
"The story suited him. He eventually started to believe his own story."
Stallone's own Web site bio puts it this way:
With the money earned from (The Lords of Flatbush), Stallone left New York for Hollywood, He again began to make the rounds to studios and casting agents, managing to get a few small roles in television and movies. He also continued to pursue writing. Prizefighter Rocky Balboa was born and given life in a script Stallone wrote in longhand. Several producers offered to buy the screenplay, wanting to cast a name star in the title role, which Stallone insisted on playing himself. Although his bank balance was barely $100, Stallone held fast- and his perseverance finally paid off.
The Defamer blog was properly horrified at the Hollywood Today report:
We'll pause for a moment to let you recover from the existential taint-tasering you've no doubt experienced from the suggestion that publicists might fabricate such a story to sell a movie, as we all know that every word from a flack's lips should be treated as if it were delivered from the heavens by God's most trusted archangel. But now we're forced to consider the implications that this report holds for the current Rocky Balboa campaign, including the possibility that Sylvester Stallone has not, in fact, been prevented from reclaiming his onetime megastardom by callously sexagenarian-shunning Hollywood studios, and has intentionally avoided working for the past decade just to hype this alleged "desperate comeback vehicle."
And at Philadelphia Will Do, D-Mac wrote:
This shocking truth that a PR flack might say something untrue will no doubt cause many Rocky series fans to go into convulsions.
Maybe you saw this brief over the weekend:
A man who escaped police custody Saturday night was soon at Einstein Hospital in critical condition after being hit by a car. The accident happened around 7 p.m. at Broad and Champlost streets in Philadelphia’s Fern Rock section. Police said the 20-year-old man jumped from a second-story window at the 35th police district. Then, he ran into the street and a car hit him.
The back-story is right out of "Hill Street Blues."
This is what Wyatt Earp, a Philly detective, wrote at Support Your Local Gunfighter:
Last night we had our squad Christmas party. Since we had to work the night shift, we had the party in the division squad room. Everyone brought some good food, and during dinner we gave our supervisors gifts. The after dinner entertainment was a "Head Shaving." One of the detectives in my squad was coming to terms with his male pattern baldness, and wondered aloud if he should shave it all off. Being despicable human beings, we all goaded him into it, but only if he would do it in front of us (and a room full of cops) at the party. he agreed.
The shaving went off without a hitch, and J.C. didn't look too bad with the chrome dome - rare for a white guy. We took pictures for his wife and laughed at his expense during the event, but immediately after, duty called. One of the officers who was witnessing the head shaving heard an "Assist Officer" call come over the radio. Another officer was yelling that a prisoner escaped custody . . . just outside our building. The officer was chasing the juvenile. Instantly, we grabbed our weapons and radios, and the room cleared.
The 17-year old punk asked to go to the bathroom, and when the officer took him, the kid punched the female officer and pushed her out of the way. The punk then jumped through an open window to freedom; or so he thought. What happened next was unbelievable.
Go to his blog to read the unflinching play-by-play.
Time Magazine picks YOU as the Person of the Year -- the podcasting, social-networking, YouTubing masses.
Captain's Quarters calls it a suck-up choice.
Jeff Jarvis asks, What took Time so long?
Nora Ephron writes a thank you speech:
Time might want to know how I manage to Do It All, which I do. They might want my favorite new recipe, for leek bread pudding (although they could copy it out of the December Martha Stewart, where I got it). They might want to know about my favorite new ice cream flavor (Haagen-Dazs caramel cone), although I already mentioned it in a recent blog, God forbid there should be any fact about me that isn't known to just about everyone. I mean, that's how it is here in the new digital democracy, we tell everyone everything.
Ahmet Ertegun, visionary co-founder of Atlantic Records, died yesterday. He was 83. He'd been in a coma since falling backstage at the Beacon Theater in October, when the Rolling Stones were playing Bill Clinton's 60th birthday party.
Son of a Turkish diplomat, Ertegun helped shaped the careers of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin. He added Young to Crosby Stills & Nash. He took a gospel singer and turned her into the Queen of Soul.
From the L.A. Times obit:
In the music-industry book "Hit Men" in 1991, author Fredric Dannen described Ertegun as a winking and worldly player: "He had Great Record Man written all over him. He was jaunty, and bald, and had a goatee…. He could order a bottle of wine from a headwaiter in perfect French, then turn to his jazzman dinner guest and slip into black jive. Ertegun was one of the original characters of the record business, but the one with the most class."
His colleague Jerry Wexler described Ertegun’s life as “a brew of rock stars, diplomats, financiers, movie stars, and avant-garde artists”. In a typical episode Ertegun once found himself sitting on the office sofa at a party to celebrate an anniversary of Atlantic Records, between two guests who had never met. With perfect aplomb he introduced Henry Kissinger and Wilson Pickett, who threw a high five.
As good for you as transfat, second-hand smoke and watching Sixers games, it's Blinq's first annual, when-does-vacation-start, end-of-year, list of lists!
The 10 Most Dangerous Toys of all Time. From Radar Magazine. Lawn darts!
50 Coldest People In Hollywood. By Film Threat. Yo, Mel!
Best Collection of Music Bloggers' Best-of Lists. By Largehearted Boy. Many with downloadable links.
Best Albums of 2006. By Metacritic. Ali Farka Toure takes it.
The 15 Best Wastes of Time on the Web. From PC Magazine.
Best Book Covers. By Bookslut.
Best Blogs Of 2006 that You (Maybe) Aren't Reading. By Fimoculous. History of the Button Blog? Yup.
Best Inventions of the Year. By Time Magazine.
The World's Best Hotels, Spas, Cruises, Cities. By Travel & Leisure.
The Grooviest Gadgets of 2006. By CrunchGear. Like a $15,000 laser turntable.
Best Cars and Trucks. From Money Magazine.
Words of the Year. By Merriam-Webster. Go "Truthiness."
Five Most-Unintentionally Funny Albums of 2006. By Cracked.
Movies of The Year. By the American Film Institute. Niice.
Books of the Year. By The Guardian.
50 Marketing Break-Thrus. By Ad Age.
Hottest Cookbooks. By Epicurious
The suburban cops beat has turned up a local skirmish in the War against Christmas - or let's just call it Philadelphia's War On Santa.
Headline in the Colonial newspaper of Fort Washington:
The paper reports: Parents standing in line with their children to see Santa Claus reportedly covered their children's ears to avoid hearing a man allegedly yell obscenities at St. Nick and others Saturday at Plymouth Meeting Mall.
According to police report, a Philadelphia man felt slighted after being told to go to the end of a long line of people waiting to visit the Santa exhibit after he'd waited in the wrong place.
The agitated man was at the mall exhibit with his wife and a child. The man reportedly was upset and cursed at the man dressed as Santa Claus and at an employee selling tickets for the exhibit.
Reportedly he was asked to stop swearing in front of the children. Mall security rushed to the scene. Santa tried to set the tone.
Santa reportedly told the man, "You know, you are not being fair to these children," and the suspect began cursing loudly at him. The man was reportedly pointing his finger in close proximity to Santa's face and "repeatedly screamed" a common profane insult at him.
First Eagles fans. Now all of Philadelphia.
This echoes another unfortunate event that caused parents to have to cover their childrens' ears - although that was a case of adults in the suburbs corrupting city kids.
At Philadelphia Will Do I read that on Dec 1, about 20 fifth-graders from the MaSt Community Charter School in Northeast Philadelphia were led out of a Bucks County Playhouse performance of Big, the Musical - remember that Tom Hanks movie? - after their elders objected to swear words.
The Intelligencer wrote:
“I never would have allowed him to go had I known,” said Lisa Coyle of Northeast Philadelphia.
During the show, she exchanged worried looks with another mother and watched the six boys she was chaperoning squirm in their seats as “a suggestive hand reference to a girl's chest was made” and actors used language such as “a—,” “son of a b——” and “god d——-.”
There was the chance those filing into the University of Pennsylvania book store Tuesday night would learn the ending to one of the city's more gripping mysteries: What does Craig Laban look like?
Laban was coming to read from his book of Inquirer restaurant reviews. His looks have been the subject of myriad profiles and blog posts - he visits restaurants anonymously - and a few unfavorably reviewed chefs have schemed to post photographs of him during his career here and in New Orleans. Laban takes great pains to obscure his identity - having friends make reservations for him, mumbling into hidden microphones when reviewing a meal, even changing his facial topiary and body type, although this later stunt might be due to the vast quantities of delicious food he is required by his work to sample, and then work off.
But product must be moved, and so Laban agreed to speak at the book store in support of The Philadelphia Inquirer Restaurant Guide. What's an anonymous critic to do?
Come in disguise.
He donned a gray fright wig, a druid's cloak and a Zorro mask for his performance. He entered the room with several baguettes obscuring his face.
Arthur Etchells, author of the Foobooz blog, didn't seem to think Laban had blown his cover.
"I didn't notice any maitre d's in attendance," he wrote by e-mail.
(Inquirer photo by David Swanson)
A friend over at WHYY sends this link to his favorite new search engine. Turn your speakers on. Don't forget to search for something.
I asked "Who is Ms. Dewey?" Found this.
St. David's Square's holiday decorations are supposed to be snow drifts festooning the roof of the building - or icicles. We don't know. But one reader, who sent this photograph our way, wondered if some of those designs - especially that middle one - wasn't a little angry at the season.