Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Interviews Page 1 of 10

Among the notable folk that Connie has interviewed (partial list) are: David Morrell (3 times), William F. Nolan, Kurt Vonnegut, jr.; Joe Hill; Frederik Pohl; Anne Perry; Valerie Plame; Vanessa Redgrave; Michael Shannon;; Taylor Hackford; Jon Land and Liv Ullman. The interview subjects might be from the world of Hollywood or simply be much-read authors, but her interviews have run in newspapers for 61 years.

“Iowa Nice” Comes Through in CNN Town Hall Meetings with DeSantis & Ramaswamy

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022. (Photo by Wade Vandervort / AFP) (Photo by WADE VANDERVORT/AFP via Getty Images)

There’s Iowa Nice, and then there’s Iowa Smart. Both were on display on Tuesday and Wednesday nights (12/12 and 12/13) on CNN at 8 p.m. (CDT).

After watching the GOP Town Hall Meetings on CNN with Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy I have to say that the people of my home state did Iowa proud. Their questions were so much better than any of those asked by the professional media people moderating the “real” debates recently that there really was no comparison.

Instead of  dwelling on the issue of trans-gender sex change operations for youth—a topic that  affected fewer than 1,200 people in 2019, the peak year for such surgeries—-these rank-and-file Iowans asked questions that matter to all of us,  on the following topics:

  • U.S. Economic prosperity
  • Israel vs. Ukraine support from the U.S.
  • The border issue
  • Fentanyl
  • Social Security
  • Abortion (a notable exception during the GOP debate hosted by Megan Kelly)
  • Trade relations with China
  • Why DeSantis would be different/better than Trump as President
  • Nikki Haley’s support from big business
  • DeSantis’ position on fracking

Yes, there was a question on a purely Iowa issue, the Satanic Temple display at the State Capitol in Des Moines. And the Pork-on-a-stick at the Iowa State Fair was, perhaps, not a Biggie, but kudos, Iowans!

Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy on Dec. 13 during the CNN Town Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, at Grandview College.

When Vivek Ramaswamy graced the Grandview College stage on Wednesday night, December 12, 2023, the people of Iowa came through again, asking Vivek Ramaswamy how he would be different from Trump; the border; Vivek’s Hindu religion in a largely Christian state and nation; Putin’s response to Ramaswamy’s proposed Ukraine solution; inequity in wealth between the top 1% wealthiest Americans and the middle class; a president’s demeanor while serving as the nation’s leader; challenges he had experienced as a candidate because of his age and his position on diversity programs.

The questioning did go off the rails a bit when Ramaswamy (his own worst enemy) went on and on and on about various debunked conspiracy theories and what he had learned about Iowans, in general. (They don’t call it “Iowa Nice” for no reason.)

I’ll write more about their responses in the next few days, but…Damn! You did us proud, questioners. Give those Talking Heads some tips for future debates.

“The Herricanes” @ Nashville Film Festival on October 1, 2023

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and make a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) That quote appears at the beginning of the documentary “The Herricanes,” which played at the Nashville Film Festival on Monday, October 1, 2023.

Olivia Kuan’s Mom played football. Olivia thought it was something any girl could do. Upon learning how unique her mother’s experience was, the young filmmaker decided to document her mother, Basia Haszlakiewicz’s, participation in the female football leagues of the seventies. Basia played for the Houston Herricanes in the NWFL (National Women’s Football League.)

Ms. Kuan’s excellent documentary traces the origins of female contact football. She interviewed many members of several teams; she has done a great job of labeling each interview subject onscreen. Olivia Kuan’s research and editing team did an even better  job gathering and assembling the interviews into a coherent whole.The archival production team consisted of Kelsey Carr and researcher Chris Morcam.  Still photographs and film footage from the actual games take us back in time.

The documentary embraces the concept”it’s okay for women to be whole people.” Another truth the film underscores is: “It’s important to create a world that welcomes everyone.” Interesting timing. Olivia Hill, the first trans-gender woman to hold office in Nashville, was sworn in this very day as one of 5 council-members at large for the Metro area. (Meanwhile, the state of Tennessee has banned drag shows.)

Title IX

The entire idea of letting women play contact football grew out of the cultural shift of Title IX in 1972. Title IX said that no school could discriminate on the basis of sex in extra-curricular offerings in public schools. Today’s youth don’t remember what a sea change this was.

Olivia’s mother, Basia Haszlakiewicz, played for the Houston Herricanes in the seventies. To the argument women “don’t want to play contact sports” the rebuttal was,”They’ve never been given the opportunity to see if they want to play football.” Today, one of the early  supporters of female football runs Gridiron Girls camps.

Be the Revolution

As the film emphasizes, it is not easy to be first.

Four National Women’s Football League teams were founded in 1974. Among the teams participating over the years were the Toledo Troopers, the Dallas Bluebonnets, the Los Angeles Dandelions, the Dallas/Ft. Worth Shamrocks, the Oklahoma City Dolls, the San Antonio Flames, and the Houston Herricanes.

There were initially 14 teams with 3 divisions. The power team was Oklahoma City. In fact, the Oklahoma City Dolls didn’t lose a game until their sixth season.  The Dolls put a real beat-down on the Herricanes in their first meetings. Oklahoma averaged 35 points a game and routinely beat the early versions of the Herricanes by scores as lopsided as 40 to 0 and/or 56 to 0.

Director Olivia Kuan and her mom, Basia Haszlakiewicz.

But the Herricanes steadily improved and were competitive near the end of the league’s existence. The players had to buy their own equipment ($88,15 in Olivia’s Mom’s case) and it took $50,000 to keep a team afloat. There were more people on the field than in the stands. This did not help the financial situation of the league. The comment is made that parity for women in any sport is yet to be achieved.

The documentary also made it clear that support for women’s contact football in Europe is much stronger, citing the 2019 World Championship in Leeds, England. Teams thrive in countries like Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Germany and England.

As for the original NWFL teams, they began to fold in ’78 (Los Angeles Dandelions) and ’79 (Toledo Troopers, Oklahoma City Dolls, Houston Herricanes,) Some (the Dallas/Ft. Worth Shamrocks) had folded earlier. The 1979 Championship game was canceled.

“The Herricanes” was a highly entertaining and engaging trip back in time. It has a great message for the future about inclusivity. One of the best documentaries here at the 52nd Nashville Film Festival.

“Remember This” Documentary at Nashville Film Festival Stars David Straithairn

David Straithairn as Jan Karski in “Remember This” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Academy Award nominee David Straithairn portrays Polish Underground hero Jan Karski in this 95-minute documentary from the Nashville Jewish Film Festival. Straithorne will be better known to audiences as Tom Cruise’s convict older brother in “The Firm” or as the Oscar nominee for 2006’s “Good Night, and Good Luck.” More recently Straithairn was the male lead opposite Frances McDormand in the Oscar-winning Best Picture of the Year, 2021’s “Nomadland.”

In this Jeff Hutchens and Derek Goldman directed tour de force one-man show, Straithairn is onstage with just a table and a chair and must carry the entire story of the Polish war hero and the Nazi genocide without benefit of anything but some accompanying music. It’s a tall order with Straitharn, an actor in his 70s, portraying over 30 characters. It is the spare black-and-white no frills approach that kept the budget to $500,000.

The film is based on the play “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski” by Clark Young and Derek Goldman. As a play, it ran with Straitharn “live” at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. The film was shot on a Brooklyn soundstage in July of 2020 at the height of the pandemic, and was completed in 2022. The play was originally prepared for the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University.

Karski was a Polish Catholic with a photographic memory; he was a true Polish patriot. Said Karski, “I am a 28-year-old machine.  I am an insignificant little man.” He volunteered to become a sort of human tape recorder, documenting the genocide of the Jewish population of Poland and Germany. Captured at various points in his perilous journey, he narrowly escaped death at many points, attempted suicide at least once, and maintained that he was an ordinary man until the end of his life. We see a short snippet of the real Jan Karski, and he breaks down while trying to recount his adventures.

Throughout the film about World War II a viewer cannot stop thinking of the Ukraine/Russia conflict that is ongoing. Repeated throughout the film is the question, “What can we do?” The only suggestion during the film consisted of hunger strikes to publicize the atrocities.

The seeming indifference of the top leaders of the Allied powers in the UK and the US is underscored, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Felix Frankfurter flat-out telling Jan during their meeting that he does not believe him. Likewise, President Roosevelt was being urged by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to do more for the beleaguered Jewish population. She wanted him to allow more Holocaust victims to flee to the United States, but he followed the lead of Sir Anthony Eden of Great Britain, who said only, “The matter will take its proper course.”

Meanwhile, as Karski is told by his Superior in London, Szmul Zgielbojm (Polish government in exile), “Tell them in London and the U.S. that we are dying.  Remember this.” Repeatedly Karski is told, “Perhaps this will shake the conscience of the world.” The message that echoes throughout: “Governments have no souls.  They have only their interests.  Individuals have souls.”‘

While Straithairn does what he can with the part, this is no “Schindler’s List.” The filmmakers did insert some sound effects and music that aids a bit, but it is truly up to Straithairn to convey the horror of a systematic attempt to wipe out three and one-half million Jewish residents of Poland and 6 million throughout Europe. The numbers of Jewish survivors in Poland are reduced to a few thousand survivors.

The letter to Roosevelt and Churchill that laid it out quite baldly said, “The surviving Jews of Poland beg you to find a way to save them.  The greatest crime in human history.  Force the Nazi murderers to stop the systematic extinction of our people.”Karski also had meetings with the top diplomats of the U.K. and the U.S., including Roosevelt  I recently completed Robert Dallek’s biography of FDR entitled “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Political Life.” That comprehensive history of FDR’s years in office confirms the stories that Jan Karski tells about the slow pace of world leaders; those leaders would later claim that they had not been told of the full extent of the Holocaust.

One of the most telling historical stories depicted in the film is that of Szmul Mordeko Zgielbojm, the member of the Polish government-in-exile in London to whom Jan Karski reported.  Zgielbojm was a Polish Socialist politician and Bund trans-union activist. He and Karski sought every avenue to publicize to the world the atrocities being committed in Poland, Germany and throughout Nazi-dominated Europe. On May 11th, 1943, after the brutal crushing of the Polish Warsaw Rebellion by units under the control of SS-Brigadefuhrer Jeugen Stroop, Zbielbojm committed suicide to protest the inaction of the western Allied powers.

The testimony is important for history, especially in an age when there are still Holocaust deniers. Straitharn does what he can with a bare bones production. Checking out some of the original recordings of Jan Karski (the Shoah Project) is a worthwhile pursuit. You can find some links at RememberThisKarskifilm.com.

GOP Debate Is Fox News Love Fest

So, I’ve been watching the Republican debate. (Just shoot me now.)

First, on a positive note, the woman singing the “Star Spangled Banner” was outstanding.

Second, Ron DeSantis did not answer a single question asked of him. He simply answered something completely unrelated every time.

Chris Christie, bearer of truth, saluted Mike Pence’s actions on January 6th and reminded us that Trump is a flawed candidate.

Vivek Vivaswamy:  The man refused to admit that climate change is real and does not support Ukraine or Israel, among other faux pas. He is young, yes, so perhaps that can be his excuse, but his pledge to pardon Trump was bad and most of what he said was fairly ignorant of the facts.

Nikki Haley got in a plea for abortion rulings being between a woman and her family and doctors and seemed

one of the saner members of the group.

So far, Christie and Haley and Hutchinson seemed the most stable. Pence seemed overly reliant on his religious convictions and also seemed very disgusted by the Indian candidate’s brash smile and ignorance of the facts. Hutchinson had some good moments. DeSantis seemed angry and defiant

We attempted to find out if the Trump interview was airing anywhere that it could be watched, but that did not seem to be the case. I went out on Twitter (now “X”) and looked around, but didn’t find much there except claims that Trump had put an end to Fox News, which is a debatable statement.

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

DeSantis is now talking about how he kept Florida’s schools open. He fails to mention that Florida had more deaths than any other state. He is now attacking critical race theory and gender education and sounds like an angry, opinionated Know-It-All.

The two quietest candidates are the Black candidate (Tim Scott) and the Governor of North Dakota, Ron Berglum.

Viviswamy is talking about ending teachers’ unions and re-establishing Civics as a subject everyone should have to pass. He’s now attacking the “epidemic of fatherlessness” and singing the praises of the nuclear family (shades of Ron Reagan).  Doug Burglum (Governor of North Dakota) is talking about education differing state by state, which seems apropos of nothing. He is now touting how he built a company from scratch. Also, that he grew up in a town of 300 people. Not sure how those two accomplishments make you the right candidate for President of the United States, but okay. He wants to get rid of the Department of Education.

The Lightning Round is on and Chris Christie just got the UFO question. It is causing some humor in the ranks.

There is a concerted effort to attack Teachers’ Unions, which seems ill-advised. Apparently, we underpaid teachers are the only group not deserving of representation in our jobs.

The Round-Up at the End:

 

Governor Ron Berglum:  blah, blah, blah. Nothing memorable.

Asa Hutchinson:  “The solution is new leadership that can bring bold ideas to America.” Citing Reagan. Critical of Trump.

Senator Tim Scott:  South Carolina Senator. Brought up “mired in poverty.” (used that phrase a lot), Talked about his mother working 16 hour days. Making accountability a thing. Wants Iowans to caucus for him.

Chris Christie:  “The only way that’s going to happen is if we beat Joe Biden.” Beat a Democratic incumbent.  Stands for the truth. 8 years in NJ as governor being cited. “I’m the one who can win this race and if you give me the chance, I will restore our country by winning it.”

Nikki Haley:  Mentioning her husband going off to war. (She is the former South Carolina Governor) “If they are willing to protect us from there, we should be able to protect us from here.” Pro law enforcement. Make sure we have an America that is strong and proud.

VP Mike Pence – Joe Biden has weakened America at home and abroad. Afghanistan. Energy. Border. “I know we can bring the nation back.” The GOP owes the American public a choice. “I have faith in the American people. God is not done with America yet.”

Vivek Ramaswamy – “We are really all just the same.” This is our moment to revive our national spirit. Pro fossil fuel. Nuclear family promotion. Pro Constitution, but doesn’t mention how pardoning Trump would be completely counter to that.

Ron DeSantis:  Ended fairly strong, but sounded angry.

During the “Hannity Live from the Spin Room in Wisconsin” Reince Preibus and Kelley Anne Conway held forth and basically praised Trump. Nobody wanted to address the elephant in the room (91 criminal indictments).  Hannity has just revealed that his mom was a prison guard. Why does this not surprise me? (He said his mom always thought he’d end up inside the prison; same comment).

Ramaswamy is now libeling and slandering both Joe and Hunter Biden in the spin room interview.  (Said they were “selling off” America to foreign countries, when evidence indicates that we have seen more of that from the 4 Trump years, with the sweet Saudi Arabia deal with Jared Kushner.)

Senator Tim Scott, talking to Hannity. Scott says he felt really good and wanted to tell people that America could do for them what it did for him. He is talking about 3 million new jobs, for reasons that are not clear, since he never mentioned this during the debate. He is supporting gas and coal, despite all of us sweltering in 115 degree heat because of the overuse of fossil fuel and global warming. Hannity is talking about the expense of a gallon of gas, rather than the fact that climate change brought on by fossil fuels has put us in a pot of hot water that is nearing the boiling point. Hannity is promoting the idea of the DOJ persecuting the likes of Trump. Scott says the first thing he would do is fire Merrick Garland. While I think that Merrick Garland has been entirely too wishy-washy and perhaps should be fired for that, he certainly is not responsible for the faltering confidence in the justice and in the Supreme Court. In fact, Merrick Garland should have been Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court, but for Mitch McConnell’s campaign to keep Obama from being allowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice, like every other President in history.

 

 

 

“You Can Call Me Bill” Is Documentary About William Shatner at SXSW on March 16, 2023

 

“You Can Call Me Bill,” written and directed by Alexandre O. Philippe,  screened at the Paramount Theater in Austin on March 16 at SXSW.

The documentary was financed by Legion, which is fan-owned, and all the donors’ names appear in the credits at the end.

The documentary opens in a forest with the quotation, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” The director did a nice return to this forest image at the documentary’s end, but the middle contains Shatner pontificating on a variety of subjects and many clips from his work through the years. Ninety-one year old William Shatner, forever Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, is the subject.

William Shatner, subject of the SXSW documentary “You Can Call Me Bill.”

The film had a structure that was projected onscreen:

Prologue: The Miracle

 Chapter 1:  Love, death and horses

Chapter 2:  Masks

Chapter 3:  Boldly Go

Chapter 4:  Loneliness

Chapter 5:  So fragile, so blue

Director Alexandre O. Philippe and William Shatner onstage at SXSW on March 16, 2023.

The director explained that in this structure each portion corresponded to one of Shatner’s original songs. The best song was the last one, “I Want To Be A Tree,” which was Shatner saying he wanted to be cremated after death. Then a Redwood will be planted in his ashes and grow into a mighty tree. At age ninety-one  he admitted that he thinks about death all the time, but the director shared that he had visited four cities in four days and keeps a schedule that a much younger man would have difficulty keeping up with. Shatner also recently reconciled with his 64-year-old wife just three years after their divorce.

If the structure for the documentary seems a bit “loosey goosey,” it was. But, as Shatner says in the documentary, “Ooga booga should be part of our lives.” It must have been quite a task to figure out  how to structure the ramblings of the star, interesting though they are, and to coordinate them with clips from Shatnr’s body of work and still share insightful stories from throughout the years.

Two stories  that stood out for me were Shatner’s remarks about how the original pilot (which appeared to star Jeffrey Hunter in the Captain Kirk lead) was passed on by the network, which then took another run at casting, giving “Star Trek” a second shot, a highly irregular course of action.

The other story that Shatner told involved the moment in time, post “Star Trek,” in July of 1969 when he was flat broke and sleeping in a truck in a remote field, while witnessing men walking on the moon for the first time, a bit of his life that he referred to as “the irony of symmetry.” Better times were ahead.

The clip that I enjoyed the most featured Shatner doing a bit at the ceremony awarding George Lucas a Life Achievement Award. Bill takes the stage and begins to talk, but he pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket midway through that reveals he is there talking about ‘Star Trek” but the invitation was for “Star Wars.” We can see Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford laughing heartily while seated beside Lucas and “Star Wars” storm troopers escort the confused Captain Kirk offstage.

Director of “You Can Call Me Bill” Alexandre O Philippe.

Shatner’s life advice:  “Take care of the inner child.  That curiosity is what keeps us alive.  The search for love is what keeps us alive. Curiosity equals love.”

In regards to Chapter 1, Shatner said, “Nature or animals or people are what keep us connected.” He emphasized the connectedness of life on planet Earth throughout the one hour and thirty-six minute documentary, which released March 16th after its first showing at SXSW.

On Acting:  Shatner says that, “Learning the words is the work of the actor. The rest is just kicks.” When asked if he was a method actor who took the part home after his work day, he responded, “The carpenter doesn’t come home and try to fix the dining room table.” So that would be a no.

Regarding those who have imitated Shatner through the years, the verdict was “Every word is its own sentence.” Various imitators were shown giving his delivery their best shot, in the same way that Christopher Walken is often mimicked.

Shatner’s life philosophy:  “Everything is an adventure.” He added, “Do it fully, boldly, courageously. Limit your sense of regret.”

In his discussion of loneliness, Shatner noted that he had “been alone all my life,” ever since his birth in Canada in 1931. He said, “Loneliness is endemic” and noted that he was talking about existential loneliness. Almost three years after the 91-year-old ‘Star Trek’ actor and his 64-year-old spouse divorced, William and Elizabeth recently decided to give their relationship another go.  Shatner said: “‘My wife… she is the zest of life.”

Shatner’s trip into space with BlueOrigin on July 20, 2021, has played heavily into his becoming a proponent of trying to save the Earth. He talked about how he cried upon coming back to Earth and says that he thinks now that he was grieving for the Earth. He commented on the “total denial on a global sale of global warming.” He has been promoting efforts to curb global warming and become an activist to save the planet. He said, “The planet is all we have.”

The director filmed half a day per chapter on a massive sound stage, using three cameras, building up to the “I Want To Be A Tree” song that ends the film. was, as noted, mostly Shatner pontificating, with some clips. The information about the actor’s early years was sparse and figuring out the sequence of his rise to fame was up to the audience member. For one thing, getting the opportunity to go on as the understudy for Christopher Plummer in Henry V was helpful to his career.

Shatner, himself, may have given the best review of this work saying, “I believe about 85% of what I say is good and the other 15% is bullshit. His meditations on life, love, grief and loneliness (among other topics) are worth hearing.

“Being Mary Tyler Moore” Documentary at SXSW Highlights Groundbreaking Nature of Moore’s Work

Being Mary Tyler Moore” documentary screens at SXSW on March 13, 2023.

Director James Adolphus, who helmed the documentary “Being Mary Tyler Moore,” was asked about his exposure to Mary Tyler Moore before he undertook making this extraordinarily intimate two- hour film about her life.

He admitted that he had never watched any of her shows, that she was more a figure that his mother knew. (“I knew her from the lyric in the Weezer song.”) He then said, “It’s odd to make a film about someone you don’t know and to fall in love with someone after the fact. She felt like my cousin, my sister. She had to fight back against the patriarchy.”

The documentary is an attempt to reconcile the insecure woman who looked so proud and regal with the real woman inside who was not that way at all. It was an attempt to show the modest, humble person beneath the veneer. With the help of many clips from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” it more than succeeds.

One week after the 18-year-old MTM graduated from high school, she got a job portraying Happy Hotpoint in television ads. The problem was that the young Mary had married Richard Meeker in 1954, when she was eighteen. She soon turned up pregnant, giving birth to her only child, Richard, and losing herHotpoint job in the process.

Later in the film we learn that Moiore’s own mother would gve birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, only a few months after Richard’s birth, giving Mary a sister, as well as a brother, John, who was 7 years younger. There were references to Mary’s mother’s alcoholism, but Moore’s parents were married more than 50 years. Her mother eventually sobered up and even took on duties  caring for the two youngsters, Elizabeth and Richard, who were so close in age.

Mary’s marriage to Meeker did not last. She would separate and then marry again almost immediately, in 1962, to Grant Tinker, to whom she would remain married for 18 years. Her career, in 1959, included a stint as Sexy Sam, the faceless voice on “Richard Diamond, Private Investigator.” When Mary asked for a raise from her $85 per episode salary, she was fired.

Director James Adolphus of “Being Mary Tyler Moore” on March 13, 2023 at SXSW. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Enter Carl Reiner, a comic mentor who envisioned her as the character Laurie Petrie, the wife in a 1960 pilot dubbed “Head of the Family,” The show eventually morphed into “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” When David Susskind suggested, in a somewhat offensive interview, that women should not work, Mary said, “I could waste a lot more energy sitting around chatting with other gals all day.” She became exactly what the network was horrified by: a contemporary woman. She also insisted on wearing pants on television, which broke new ground. (As a former junior high school teacher who insisted on wearing pants suits in 1969 at a time when they were banned by the school, I could relate.)

Throughout the documentary, we learn just how groundbreaking Mary Tyler Moore would become. This was just the beginning. In interviews, Mary referred to the period as “An unenlightened time. I believe in figuring out a way to contribute.”

At the end of the 5-year run of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” Mary was a hot property who charmed men without antagonizing their wives. She had a comic flair that no less an expert than Lucille Ball recognized and applauded. She was offered a picture deal with Universal and—unusual for the time—had the right to refuse to do pictures that she did not think would benefit her image.However, in order to be given permission to star in a musical version of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Broadway, Mary would give up that right of refusal and, following the Broadway bomb the show became, would end up in films like “Change of Habit” (1969) opposite Elvis.

In 1968, when she was 32, a miscarriage led to her diagnosis as diabetic. With a blood sugar level of 700, she was fortunate to have been discovered to have the disease, which would end her life at the age of 80 in 2017. Friends credit her Dr. husband with extending her life at least ten years.

Broadway having bombed, CBS offered her her own show. Mary and Grant Tinker jumped at the chance. Tinker saw that forming their own company would be beneficial and Mary Tyler Moore Enterprises was born, with Tinker at the helm and Mary the major talent. At one point, the company had six shows on the air at once.

Meanwhile, Tinker hired Jim Brooks and Allan Burns to write the show, which would place Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis as a woman making it on her own at the age of thirty.I remember how groundbreaking it was for the goal to be not just to marry, but to be independent and live on one’s own.  “That Girl” with Marlo Thomas had a similar single girl protagonist, but her main mission was to find a husband.

At this point, in real life Mary Tyler Moore had never been on her own, but had been married since she was 18 years old. The entire idea of society’s pushing young women into marriage was covered in 1979’s “Kramer versus Kramer,” where Meryl Streep articulated this “never been on my own” status all the way to 5 Oscars.  As someone who lived it, I can vouch that the goal was to “have a ring on your finger” by the end of college, at the latest, a goal that did not appeal to my own working mother or to me. Like Mary Tyler Moore’s onscreen character Mary Richard, this was “ahead of the times.”

Mary Tyler Moore lived the fifties ideal of marriage after school and as soon as possible. She remained mired in marital bliss, marrying Tinker immediately after divorcing Meeker. She remained a married woman until she was 44 years old, when she and Tinker divorced (1980)and she moved to New York City. She remarried for a third time in 1982 to Dr. Robert Levine, 14 years her junior.

The show that Mary Tyler Moore launched, about an independent thirtyish woman making it on her own, was a risk. It was almost killed by a terrible time slot, until Fred Silverman took over CBS, axed a lot of comedies like “Green Acres’ and moved “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” into the best time slot on television. It was, as Rosie O’Donnell termed it, “Appointment TV.” Silverman placed her show on the same night as “All in the Family” and alongside Bob Newhart’s show on Saturday nights. The rest is history, as the talented cast garnered multiple awards and still has one of the best endings of any series sit-com on television, past or present.

Lena Waithe answers questions about “Being Mary Tyler Moore” onstage at the Zach Theater during SXSW 2023 on March 13, 2023.

Mary Tyler Moore won 7 Emmies, 3 Golden Globes, and earned an Oscar nomination (for “Ordinary People”). And, as the documentary terms it, “As Mary Tyle Moore goes, so goes the nation.” This meant welcoming the 1973 Supreme Court decision to allow women the right to decide whether or not to have an abortion.In 1980, immediately after her divorce from Tinker, Mary conquered Broadway with her performance replacing Tom Conti in the play “Whose Life Is It, Anyway?” Meanwhile, she described herself as “going through adolescence” in New York City, as she was said to be involved with Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of the play, and was socializing after years of marriage. However, she was drinking more than she should have been, and, as he noted, sometimes that could lead to belligerence. She would curb this possibly inherited tendency towards alcoholism by a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic.

In 1980, Mary Tyler Moore was nominated as Best Actress for her role as Beth in “Ordinary People” opposite Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton. Director Robert Redford said he had always been fascinated by the possibility of a dark side to MTM, who might have been brittle inside with a pensiveness, anger, hurt, and confusion over such issues as her inability to connect meaningfully with her son Richard.

Also in 1980, Mary’s son Richard, then aged 24, would die of a gun shot wound. The documentary says he had a gun collection, was inherently clumsy, and it was an accident. Three weeks after his death, MTM would be nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress for her role in “Ordinary People.” She would also lose her younger sister, Elizabeth, to a drug overdose at the age of 21. Her younger brother John would die of kidney cancer.

Mary met Dr. Robert Levine, her third husband, when he cared for her ailing mother in 1982. The line in the documentary is that “She fell in love for the first time in her life.” Yet Grant Tinker’s children, who became her step-children, testify to the good years with Mary Tyler Moore as their step-mom. The 14-years-younger Levine would remain her husband till the end, caring for her in their bucolic Connecticut home.  The couple was devoted to one another and Levine set the plans in motion to produce this documentary, despite turning down many earlier overtures.

The now 73-year-old Levine  reached out to Lena Waithe (“Ready Player One,” “Master of None”) after reading an interview in “Vanity Fair,” in which she expressed an interest in doing a documentary about Mary Tyler Moore’s life.When asked about his decision to share his private film of Mary with Producer/Director/Writer Waite, Dr.Levine, an executive producer, said, to laughter, “To have a Black queer girl from the South side of Chicago want to tell her story. Are you kidding me?”

Dr. Levine was asked what surprised him after seeing the film. He responded, “I had never seen the bridal shower footage with Betty White and others. It was simple and natural. She talked about me making her a tuna fish sandwich in the middle of the night. Things like that had the most impact for her. It is the simple kindnesses that really have the most impact.The journey of her life was the journey of women in this country.  As a human being, she felt the need to keep going forward. She was ahead of the times.  I didn’t want a derivative feeling. A new voice coming forward (Lena Waithe) was interesting to me.”

Waithe added, “I wanted to give a real sense of how she was as a person.” The decision to use voice-over(s) rather than the talking head documentary approach was Waithe’s.

The documentary is long, at 2 hours, but it is very good. While an interview with Rona Barrett is over-used and David Susskind comes off  poorly as an ultra-conservative fossil of the times in his onscreen interview, I would highly recommend this HBO documentary, funded by Fifth Season, if you are or were a fan of Mary Tyler Moore’s work. She helped raise over $2 billion for Juvenile Diabetes and gave so many other working women a model that remains groundbreaking.

Credits:

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Documentary Spotlight)
Distributor: HBO
Production companies: HBO Documentary Films, Fifth Season, Hillman Grad, The Mission Entertainment, Good Trouble Studios
Director: James Adolphus
Producers: Ben Selkow, James Adolphus, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Debra Martin Chase, Andrew C. Coles, Laura Gardner
Executive producers: S. Robert Levine, Michael Bernstein, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller
Cinematography: James Adolphus
Editor: Mariah Rehmet
Archival Producer: Libby Kreutz
Music: Theodosia Roussos
2 hour

 

Bee Gone

Second Day of January 6th Commission Hearings: DJT Lies (A Lot)

I’m watching the second day of 1/6 Committee Hearings and Chris Stirewalt, former digital politics editor of Fox News, is bragging about the University of Chicago colleague who had built a truly advanced predicting method for predicting elections. It was this creation that allowed Stirewalt to call Arizona for Biden early—and got him fired. (“Good work! You correctly called Arizona well before any other network! You’re fired!”)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

Stirewalt approved calling Arizona for Biden during the 2020 election. For his expertise in accurately calling Arizona for Biden, he was fired. Stirewalt just said that Trump’s chances of winning the election after that night were “none.”

“In a recount, you’re talking about hundreds of votes…In modern history we’re talking about hundreds of votes. The idea that through any normal process he was going to win, were zero. You’re better off to play the Power Ball then to try to do this three times,” said Stirewalt, who noted that DJT needed to swing 3 states to his column (not just one) to change the 2020 presidential election results.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, has also said that Trump’s lead grew more narrow as the night went on, and in some places Biden surpassed Trump in the vote totals. “Every single— multiple times — we paid attention to those numbers, I was feeling less confident.” He described himself as feeling, “very, very, very bleak.” His belief was that chances for success for Trump in the presidential election were 5 to 10 %, if not lower. He saw no realistic legal challenges changing the outcome. (Stepien avoided having to show up in person because his wife went into labor.)

“I described some of my frustration with some of the claims that people would throw at President Trump, telling him to look at what happened in various states. This is an example of that. In Arizona, someone had thrown out the claim that there were thousands of illegal citizens, people not eligible to vote, who had voted in Arizona. With the margins being as close as they were, that could potentially matter. So, this wild claim was thrown out, which, on its face, did not seem realistic or possible. I recall the response to that. The reality of that was overseas voters, not illegal voters.” (Campaign manager Bill Stepien).

Stepien was termed “Team Normal” after Rudy Giuiliani (et. al.) came on the scene.
“During the 2nd week, Trump was growing increasingly unhappy with Justin Clarke and that paved the way for Justin to be moved out and Mayor Giuiliani to be moved in. For all intents and purposes he (Rudy) became the campaign manager. I inherited the campaign about 150 days in at a time when the campaign was at a low point in the polls. There was a great deal wrong with the campaign. Most of my day was spent fixing the things that could be fixed with 150 days left in the campaign.”

TEAM NORMAL

Trump threw out the normal people (Stepien, etc.) and brought in Rudy Giuiliani and attorney Sidney Powell. Sidney Powell got up onstage and recited pure gibberish.  Eric Herschmann, former White House Advisor said, “What they were proposing I thought was nuts.” Herschmann went on to recite some of the crazier theories that Trump’s campaign threw out (China, Philippines, Hugo Chavez, etc.). “Not the approach I would take if I was you,” said Jared Kushner to his father-in-law when the crazies came out of the woodwork and began throwing out complete and utter fabrications of how the vote was “stolen.”

“I made it clear that I did not agree in putting out this stuff about the election being stolen and I thought it was bull shit and that’ why I left when I did.” (Bill Barr, former Attorney General under Trump and a Republican).

So ended the first panel of Day #2. Barr said that Trump began making claims of election fraud immediately after his loss.

Bill Barr:  “”When we received specific and credible reports of fraud, we looked into them. There was an avalanche of all these accusations of fraud. It was like playing Whack-A-Mole. I knew that many of these claims were silly and totally bogus. They did not give me the feeling that there was any substance there.” Hence, the term “There’s no there there.

On November 23rd, Barr spoke with Trump: “On Nov. 23, I had not spoken to Trump since the election; it was getting awkward, because obviously he had lost the election. I came over to meet with the President in the Oval Office. This is leading up to Kushner. The President said there had been major fraud and as soon as the facts were out the outcome of the election would be reversed. Then he got to the Dept. of Justice not thinking that they had any business looking into these claims. (“The department Is not an extension of your legal team.’) We’re looking into claims and they’re just not meritorious and they’re not panning out.” Barr said, “How long is he gonna’ carry on with this stolen election stuff? How long is it gonna’ go on?”

Mark Meadows said, “I think he is becoming more realistic and knows there are limits to how far we can take this. Between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29th things began to deteriorate. DJT said, on a Fox News show (Maria Bertolini) that there had been “vote dumps on election night.” This was completely bogus and fraudulent. ”

Barr told the Associated Press on Nov. 1st that there was no proof of fraud. Barr kept insisting that there was no evidence to support fraud.

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

“I set up a lunch with the AP reporter Mike Balsamo and made the statement, ‘Today we have not seen fraud on a scale that could predict a different outcome in the election.'” He had a previously scheduled Mark Meadows meeting. Barr assumed he might be fired and alerted his secretary that she might have to pack up his stuff, so don’t go home. Meadows told Barr that the President was angry. He went to Pat Cippolini’s office and Trump called both of them to the Oval Office. Barr: “Trump was “as mad as I’ve ever seen him.” He raised the “big vote dump” in Detroit and Barr explained to him that there were 630 precincts in Detroit and they centralize the voting process in Detroit, so the normal process involved boxes coming in at all different hours (something that Fox repeatedly tried to show as proof of fraud.)”

Barr:  “I told him the claims of fraud were bull shit and he was indignant about that. The Dominion Voting Machine claims were among the most disturbing allegations. There was exactly zero basis for these claims. I told him that the fact that these machines had negated the people’s votes was “crazy stuff” and that they were “wasting their time on it” and it was doing “a grave disservice to the country.”

Trump is shown in a clip dated Dec. 2, 2020, talking about a vote dump in Michigan. This was complete B.S. “We have a company that’s very suspect.” He went on to condemn Dominion’s voting system. Barr again told the President that there was nothing to these claims, on Dec. 14th. Barr: “When I went in and sat down, he went off on a monologue that there was now definitive evidence that there was fraud with these Dominion machines. “The report means that I’m going to have a second term.” To be frank, it looked very amateurish, to me. It did not have the credentials of the people involved, etc. It didn’t have any supporting information for it. I thought, “Boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has become detached from reality— if he really believes this stuff,” said Barr. “There never was an indication of any interest in the actual facts. My opinion then and now is that the election was not stolen by fraud, including the 2,000 mules movie.”

In a nutshell, the movie was unimpressive. He was waiting to see if there was photographic evidence, but it did not exist. “The cell phone data is singularly unimpressive.” The premise was indefensible. (Cell phones in the presence of ballot boxes were, somehow, going to be evidence/proof of fraud.) Barr: “When the movie came out, the photographic evidence was lacking. It didn’t establish widespread illegal harvesting. It’s not clear that, even if you can show harvesting, this is going to change the outcome of the election. It is still the duty of the party to show that there was evidence to validate throwing out votes.”

Barr:  “Before the election, it was possible to talk sense to the President, but after the election, he didn’t seem to be listening. I was inclined not to stay around if he wasn’t listening.” (Bill Barr quit on Dec. 14, 2020).

Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Attorney General“People are telling me this, or I’ve heard this, this impropriety in Atlanta or wherever, but we were in a position to say, you’re getting bad information That’s not correct. That has been debunked.”

Derek Lyons (former counsel to Trump): “Various allegations of fraud were discussed and we were told that none of those allegations had been substantiated to the point that they could be used to challenge the election.”

 (Alex Cannon, former campaign lawyer for Trump, discussing a phone call from Peter Navarro): “I recall him asking me questions about Dominion and some other categories. I remember telling him that I didn’t believe the Dominion allegations because the hand recount in Georgia would resolve any questions with that vote. Chris Krebbs had recently released a report saying the election was honest. Peter Navarro phoned me and called me ‘an agent of the Deep State trying to conspire against President Trump.’ I never took another call from Mr. Navarro.”

Alex Cannon went on to say that he, personally, was not finding anything that would support overturning the election.

Richard Donoghue, Former Acting Attorney General: “We’ve looked at Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan. The report of 68% error rate in Michigan was actually 1 in 15,000, a very low error rate. If you gave him (Trump) a very direct answer on one allegation he would move to another allegation. One claim was by a truck driver who believed that he had transported a truck full of ballots from NY to Pennsylvania. I essentially said, We have looked at that allegation from both sides. That allegation was not supported by the evidence. Again, Trump said, “Okay. What about the others?”  He asked about Georgia. The president kept fixating on suitcases rolled out from under tables in Georgia. There is just how they move ballots around that facility. There is nothing suspicious about the movement of those ballots at all. I told him that the video did not support any evidence of multiple counting for Biden. Then, he went off on dead people voting and American Indians voting. I told him flat out that much of the information he was getting was false or was simply not supported by the evidence.”

BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE

59 of the nation’s leading election security experts testified that there was NO evidence of significant voting fraud in the nation’s election.

SECOND PANEL OF WITNESSES

Mr. Schmidt, city of Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. Mr. Pak.(Georgia) Mr. Ginsberg (leading GOP lawyer for litigation. Represented “W” in Bush v. Gore.

Ms. Lofgren asked the questions.

Mr. Pak, U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Georgia, appointed by Trump.

Q: Were you asked to investigate claims of voter fraud? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  Dec. 4th of 2020 Barr asked me if I had seen a certain video tape of Rudy Giuliani in a Senate Subcommittee hearing about the tape in Atlanta of votes being moved. (This was the tape that my daughter-in-law was impressed by.)

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office investigated. Mr. Pak found that the alleged black suitcase was actually an official lock box where ballots were kept safe. The lock box was kept under the table. There was a misunderstanding that they were done counting ballots for the night and the vote counters were sent home. Then they realized they weren’t done for the night and needed to bring back the official ballot box and they brought back the lock box from under the counter and began counting again. Mr. Giuiliani only played a clip that showed them pulling the lock box from under the table, when the entire tape shows that it was an official ballot box that was kept under the table. Once they discovered that they needed to keep counting, they brought the ballot box out from under the table, where it was kept, and continued counting. The allegations made by Mr. Giuiliani were false.

Mr. Donoghue (former Attorney General):  Re the interviews in Fulton County:

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

“I don’t know how they were initially communicated. They came out in subsequent conversation. I told the President myself that several times that these allegations of ballots being smuggled in in a suitcase were not true.”

Mr. Pak (left Jan., 2021): Bobby Christine came in after Pak – “Mr. Christine continued investigation but was unable to find any fraud that affected the election. There was none.”

BILL BARR:  “The president has repeatedly suggested that there was some kind of outpouring of votes in Philadelphia, as recently as when he walked off the NPR set. He made a comment about how there were more votes in Philadelphia than there were voters. That is absolute rubbish. There was nothing strange about the Philadelphia turnout. There was nothing strange once you actually look at the votes. In Philadelphia Trump ran weaker than 2 of the state’s candidates, he ran weaker than the other elements on the Republican ticket.”

Q:  How about Pennsylvania and absentee ballots? (Question from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  (from Barr) Giuliani raised this in Gettysburg. “The problem is that he threw out this number. He threw out the # of applications for the GOP primary and compared it to the votes cast in the actual GOP primary: apples to oranges. Once you compared apples to apples there was no discrepancy.”

Mr. Schmidt, Republican member of the 3-member commission tasked with overseeing elections in Philadelphia.

Q:  Giuiliani said 8,000 dead people voted in Philadelphia. (Question about this from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  Not only was there no evidence of 8,000 dead voters, there wasn’t even evidence of 8 dead voters.

Q:  Even Mr. Trump’s campaign lawyers knew this was bogus. (Eric Herschmann) “They never proved the allegations that they were alleging.”

Q:  “A guy named Al Schmidt is being used Big Time by the fake news media to explain how honest things were in the election in Philadelphia.” This was a tweet from President Trump that resulted in death threats for you and your family.

A:  The threats prior to that tweet were pretty general, but, after that tweet, the threats became much more specific, much more graphic, and included not just me by name but included members of my family, their ages, our home address, etc. That was what changed with that tweet.”

Nov. 12, 2020:  “Your husband should tell the truth or your kids will suffer.” (Example of a threatening letter sent to Al Schmidt because he would not collude with Trump on charges of election fraud in Philadelphia and Trump called him out by name on Twitter.)

Mr. Ginsberg’s credentials:  National Council on Republican Campaigns in 2004, 2012. Key role in Florida recount. Served as Co-chair of Presidential Campaign on Republican Election(s).

Q:  How was the Trump campaign post-campaign different from others? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  In the normal course of things, we do a couple of things. 1) Analyze precincts with abnormalities and send people to investigate (2) Poll watchers will be used and they will be talked to about irregularities. The Trump campaign talked about having 50,000 poll watchers. In the normal course, their reports would be analyzed. The 2020 campaign was not close. The most narrow margin was 20,000 (Az): “You just don’t make up those kinds of margins in recounts.” That put the Trump campaign on a sort of process of bringing cases without the evidence you need to have.

Q:  Did any court find any credible evidence?

A:  No. I’ve looked at 60 cases with more than 180 counts. Sixty-two post-election cases filed up to Jan., 2021. Sixty losses and only one victory that did not affect the election outcome for either man.

Q:  What do you say about the claims about their day in court? (from Ms. Lofgren)

A:  About half of those cases were dismissed at the procedural level, for lack of evidence. In the other, there was discussion of the merits within the complaint. In no instance did the court find that the charges of fraud were real. There had been post-election reviews in each of the 6 states that could have changed the election outcome, including the farcical Cyber Ninjas in Arizona, Michigan, etc. No credible evidence of fraud found in any of those cases. (from Mr. Ginsberg)

 

 

 

Is the World Ready for A Political Fresh Prince?

(Quotes from August 10, 2016, Adam Howard, NBC News)

Will Smith

Six years ago, when “Oscars So White” preceded “Oscars So Black” as a theme, [spearheaded by Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, who was annoyed that Smith was not nominated for his role in “Concussion,”] the remarks below were made to NBC’s reporter Adam Howard.

The article sub-title was this:  Is America ready for the “Fresh Prince” as President? Maybe setting one’s sights on the top office in the land is premature, but what office do you think Will Smith will be angling for?

Donald J. Trump shook up traditional notions of who can be considered a credible candidate for the White House, and his stint on “The Apprentice” is at least partially responsible for the four years of Trump. Smith himself has hinted at a career change, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2015: “I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me. They might need me out there.”

It seems that Will Smith has publicly blown up his film career with his behavior on March 27th at the Oscars. This article from six years ago seems to point to a new direction that Will Smith might be contemplating, so let’s just lay it out there with these quotes from the actor himself.

As an established A-list star entering a new phase of his life and career, Smith may also feel more liberated to speak his mind. For instance,  during a “Suicide Squad” press event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Smith spoke candidly about the perception of anti-Muslim bias back in the U.S.  “The Middle East can’t allow Fox News to be the arbiter of the imagery, you know. So cinema is a huge way to be able to deliver the truth of the soul of a place to a global audience.”

Smith then went on to pointedly attack Trump’s controversial Muslim ban proposal: “As painful as it is to hear Donald Trump talk, and as embarrassing as it is as an American to hear him talk, I think it’s good,” Smith said. “We get to know who people are and now we get to cleanse it out of our country.”

These comments came just a week after Smith lamented that the Republican presidential candidate’s rhetoric towards women had found a captive audience.  “For a man to be able to publicly refer to a woman as a fat pig (Rosie O’Donnell), that makes me teary,” he said during an interview with news.com.au. “And for people to applaud, that is absolutely f***king insanity to me. My grandmother would have smacked my teeth out of my head if I had referred to a woman as a fat pig. And I cannot understand how people can clap for that. It’s absolutely collective insanity. If one of my sons — I am getting furious just thinking about it — if one of my sons said that in a public place, they couldn’t even live in my house anymore.”

“For me, deep down in my heart, I believe that America won’t and we can’t elect Trump,” he added.

But Smith’s streak of outspokenness hasn’t just been limited to the presidential race. During an appearance earlier this month (August, 2016) on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the actor spoke with a degree of cynicism about the claim that racial divisions have never been worse.

“Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed,” he told Fallon then.

Earlier in the year, Will Smith had backed his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith ‘s call for an African American Boycott of the Oscars, after the Academy Awards failed to recognize a single actor or actress of color (including himself, a would-be contender for the drama “Concussion”) for the second year in a row.”

So, the remarks made to NBC’s reporter Adam Howard are above; draw your own conclusions.

Since North Carolina and Kansas will play for the NCAA Championship on Monday, April 4th and that predicting season is almost over, we can then begin the pools on whether or not there will be regime change in Russia AND for which office the Fresh Prince might best run.

Right now,  watching “Saturday Night Live” (which featured a clever, but questionable skit about mental acuity in cases like aphasia or dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease) the host of “SNL” has declared himself the “least famous host of ‘SNL,’” which may be true. I can’t even tell you what his name is (Jerrod Carmichael; I cheated and looked). He  just informed us that he is the star of a television comedy special in which he comes out as gay. Jerrod says that we are in an Andy Warhol Fever Dream right now. Having just watched the documentary the “Velvet Underground” with real footage from Andy Warhol’s The Factory era, I agree. When will we break out the dark glasses to be able to tolerate the chaos?

Comedian Carmichael is trying to “heal the nation” by talking about Will Smith’s Oscar brouhaha.

Jerrod’s parting remark to the “SNL” audience and directed to former President Barack Obama: “You got us all hopped up on hope and change, Barack. We need you back, because I think you’re going to have to talk about it. The nation needs to heal.”

Of Podcasts and Vaccines: Tuesday, Feb. 24th, 2021

Today is Tuesday, February 24th.

Lone Star Deception Poster

“Lone Star Deception” (available on Amazon) with Eric Roberts and Anthony Ray Parker.

After 3 months of fruitless search on various computers I managed to get both of us appointments for vaccinations with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine the old-fashioned way: I called.

Believe me, we’ve been trying very hard to use the State of Texas website to sign up, and, as that turned out to be a pipe dream, we put ourselves on lists with Walgreen’s, CVS, HEB, and anywhere else we could think of, including some that would have meant driving several hours to Houston or Dallas. Nothing worked.

The way the State of Texas site works is you sign up and create a password, which we both did.

Then, you are to sign in to check on the availability of vaccine, which we tried to do, but the machine would never take our passwords (despite knowing what they were), so we’d say “Forgot Password” (even though we had not.) The computer would promise to send an e-mail to our mailbox, an e-mail which never arrived. And so it went.

I had a lot of faith in HEB, given the national publicity that came about when they were so on the ball about the impending pandemic that they actually sent observers to China and worked out a system for their stores to work smoothly during this bad time. And they did. The grocery delivery was wonderful, unlike the Midwest, and even after the catastrophic power failures and water outages, most stores were up and running by yesterday with a full complement of food. (We went to one in Kyle).

Today, the HEB website showed 64 doses of the vaccine were available near us, but, when I tried to sign on and get an appointment, it would say, “No appointment times available.”

Lone Star Deception Poster

“Lone Star Deception,” Eric Roberts, Anthony Parker.

I finally made a phone call to HEB, even though it meant holding for a very long time to get to a “live” person.

Within 10 minutes my husband had been assigned a time on Saturday at noon, and during the booking of his spot, I got one at 12:30 on Sunday, this coming weekend (2/27 and 2/28). Then, since the store is in downtown Austin, I got fancy and booked us a hotel room and dinner at the hotel on the corner in downtown Austin where I have spent many SXSW runs drifting through, waiting, or interviewing film folk. The rate was reasonable ($150) and the Roaring Fork within the hotel is my very favorite downtown Austin restaurant—so far. [The hotel changed hands about one month ago, and is now a Sonesta Hotel, which is probably why I think of it under a completely different name. I would have sworn it was called the Intercontinental, but I may be thinking of Chicago.]

Now, news of what may well be my last podcast, this coming Thursday, Feb. 25, from 7 to 8 p.m.

In keeping with the spirit, I’ve booked the Writer/Director of “100 Days to Live.” Ravin Gandhi is a first-time feature film director who is really the CEO of GMM Nonstick Coating in Chicago.

It was on his bucket list to make a film, and that film is currently streaming on your TV set. I interviewed its female lead on February 4th.

Eric Roberts & Anthony Ray Parker.

I noted, in going back through the 45 or so interviews I’ve done on my podcast, that  8 of them have been with Directors or Producers or Stars. Of that number, five were first-time directors of a feature film. Those, going back to the beginning, were Ed Dezevallos of “Lone Star Deception,” Jonathan Baker of “Inconceivable,” Gretl Claggett of “Stormchaser,” Chelsea Christer of “Bleeding Audio,” Ryan Bliss of “Alice Fades Away” and, now, Ravin Gandhi of “100 Days to Live.” Also among my podcasts I spoke with Heidi Johannesmeier (of “100 Days to Live”) and Sergio Rizzuto of “Hard Kill” (2nd lead opposite Bruce Willis) and THE Eric Roberts, who had a leading role in “Lone Star Deception.”

I’ve written up 20 questions for Ravin and if, for some reason, he does not join me on what may well be my last show, I’ll tell you what I learned from the Writers/Directors/Producers and Stars of the other films I’ve both reviewed (on Weekly Wilson and The Movie Blog) and on the air.

Join us “live” at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, February 25th. If you have a question, the call-in number is 866-451-1451.

“Weekly Wilson” Podcast of Feb. 18th: Ryan Bliss, Writer/Director of “Alice Fades Away”

Some of you may have noticed the movement from politics to film on the blog, of late.

It has always been my goal to go among three topics: books, film and politics.

In addition, I sometimes convey information about my travels, whether that means Texas or Mexico or Alaska.

While it is tempting to bring up for discussion the feud that is currently playing out between Mitch McConnell and Donald J. Trump, I shall bypass this low-hanging political fruit, for the moment. Or the death today of Rush Limbaugh might send me off on another political thread, but I’m sticking to movies for the rest of February, and then I’ll be taking a break from the Weekly Wilson podcast.

If you are curious about which of the 45 or so podcasts I’ve done are interesting, I’ll be happy to list them for you, but I’m not sure if they remain “up” after my show goes into a hiatus, which may be permanent.

While I’m proud of the shows I’ve managed to put “in the can,” I’m also more than ready to return to writing—possibly a fourth book in The Color of Evil series.

But, this week, I’ll be interviewing the first-time director of “Alice Fades Away,” a film I reviewed here previously, and the week of February 25th I will speak with the Chicago director of “100 Days to Live,” Ravin Gandhi.

So, remember to tune in to listen to the conversation with Ryan Bliss, director of “Alice Fades Away,” on Thursday, February 18th.

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