Monday, March 30, 2015

Limp comedy in GET HARD

The Kevin Hart formula from his equally-awful previous comedy, The Wedding Ringer, is repeated in GET HARD.  Take a fast-talking, hip, urban African-American achiever determined to make a small business venture a success and pair him with a dorky, privileged white guy who's in trouble and needs a friend.  They'll be best buddies by the end of the movie.  If you can make it to the end of the movie, that is.
"Help me not to be someone's bitch," pleads Will Ferrell as a millionaire hedge fund manager who lives in a Bel Air mansion.  It's a huge Southern California home for just him and his young, slim trophy fiancee.  A staff of Mexican laborers do the yard work and clean the house.  He's wrongfully convicted of securities fraud and embezzlement and gets sentenced to 10 years hard time in San Quentin Prison.  He's lived a life in the white collar world.  Darnell is the only black person he knows.  Darnell, a family man, runs Hollywood  Luxury Bubbles Car Wash.  James King (Ferrell) assumes that the responsible husband and father knows how to survive prison life because, according to statistics he'd read, one out of every three black men has done jail time.  He seeks advice from Darnell on how to toughen up in his 30 days before he goes to prison.

James King has to be hard in order to survive prison.  Darnell will ask, "Are you hard and can you handle yourself?"  Of course, King's main and biggest fear is that he'll be bent over and raped in prison.  So, there's a long and tiresome steady stream of man-on-man sex gags.  At one point, King is so clueless in learning how to defend himself that Darnell takes him to a restaurant popular with gay men.  Why?  He tells King that he'll just have to learn oral gratification in order to survive -- and he could learn by practicing on someone in that restaurant.  Darnell mentions a scientific fact about gay oral sex.  The shocked businessman wearing an ankle bracelet whines "According to who?"  Darnell snaps back, "Dickipedia!"

That was the first line in the movie that made me laugh.  And it was Kevin Hart's frantic delivery and timing that made me laugh.  One more thing -- that line came 43 minutes into this 95 minute movie.  Get Hard is like an unfunny half-hour sitcom pilot that was stretched into an even unfunnier movie that runs a little over an hour and a half.  The millionaire turns part of his property into a makeshift prison yard for more schooling from Darnell.  He even uses compact Darnell as a barbell.

If you've seen a number of Will Ferrell comedies, you may have noticed that there's usually a scene that has his character in his underwear.  For Ferrell, being seen in his underwear has been like Fred Astaire wearing a top hat and tuxedo in his classic musicals or Tom Cruise wearing sunglasses in his films.  Underwear sort of became Will Ferrell's trademark.

In Get Hard, Will Ferrell ain't got no drawers on at all.  That's right. Even before the opening credits roll, you get two shots of his bare bottom, the bottom he doesn't want defiled in San Quentin.

Darnell really knows nothing about jail time.  He's been a good citizen and a loving dad and husband while operating Hollywood Luxury Bubbles Car Wash.  At first, he's offended by the the hedge fund manager's stereotypes of black men.  But millionaire James will pay him.  Darnell can use the money to put a down payment on a new house in a better neighborhood for the wife, their sweet little girl and himself.

Kevin Hart is talented.  But I hope he doesn't wind up becoming the new Adam Sandler.  This lame comedy must have taken one month to shoot and and one week to write.  Or less.  There is one performance in the movie that stands out.  Rapper T.I. has got some solid acting chops.  He plays Darnell's thug cousin in Crenshaw.  His brief role has no comedy.  He's serious and intimidating as he meets the goofy businessman who dressed like a rapper to see the cousin in Crenshaw.  T.I. was very impressive.

This is the kind of buddy comedy where every other line seems to be "What the f**k is wrong with you?!?!"  It's rated R for language -- and for one totally unnecessary quick close-up of a semi-erect penis that the convicted businessman is about to use for his oral gratification lesson.
The Bel Air millionaire was set up.  The car wash manager and the hedge fund manager find the evidence, confront the crooks and solve the crime.  The real crime is that this dog of a comedy got made.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happy Anniversary, PRETTY WOMAN

Julia Roberts.  PRETTY WOMAN put her on the Hollywood map.  It earned Julia her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress and gave her something in common with Jane Fonda.
The 1990 romantic comedy was directed by TV sitcom king, Garry Marshall.  This was a big box office hit co-starring Richard Gere.  The original script, reportedly, underwent several changes with the main one being a tone rewritten from dark to light.  In the final product, Pretty Woman had a modern-day Cinderella theme.  Under Garry Marshall's direction, Julia Roberts was the streetwise Cinderella to Richard Gere's Prince Charming.
This was a Disney Studios production.  Remember the Pretty Woman's profession?  Gere played the no-nonsense businessman who needs an escort for an elegant event.  He finds her, cleans and dresses her up for the gala and then he falls in love with her.

This year, Pretty Woman celebrated its 25th anniversary.  The stars and director Garry Marshall reunited on NBC's Today with Matt Lauer to take us down memory lane.  Personally, I think Gere is hotter as a silver daddy than he was when he had dark hair.

On March 24, Today held a "Be Pretty Woman for Day" contest.  For a chance to win a 2-night stay in the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, contestants had to show up on the Today show plaza wearing a Pretty Woman film-inspired outfit.  My initial reaction to this?  "She was a hooker!" Call me crazy but I don't know if I'd want my daughter appearing on a network morning news program dressed as a Hollywood hooker wearing a blonde wig.                                                            

I'd rather my daughter (if I had one) model herself on actress Julia Roberts.

A 1971 thriller was also a box office hit and also had a prostitute as its lead female character.  But this story is grittier and it's a thriller.  The prostitute, who has trust issues, must learn to trust a cop.  Her life is in danger.  What do Julia Roberts and Jane Fonda have in common artistically?  Both have several Oscar nominations to their credits, both are Best Actress Oscar winners (Roberts won for the 2000 drama, Erin Brockovich) and both got a nomination for playing a hooker who wore thigh boots.  Jane Fonda won a Best Actress Oscar for playing the tough New York City hooker in Klute.


This is a screen performance that today's young female acting hopefuls should watch and study.  Fonda did extraordinary work.  Take a listen to my short podcast piece on it:
bobbyrivers.podomatic.com/entry/2011-03-04T05_48_50-08_00.




Friday, March 27, 2015

Logo TV Serves CUCUMBER

He's 46 years old, a balding insurance salesman with a nice home and a sweet boyfriend.  Yet, he's scoping out younger dudes in the supermarket.  Henry, in a voiceover, describes male erections while we see produce as the suggestive visuals.  It's a pretty snappy open.  This is the premiere of CUCUMBER coming to Logo TV on April 13th.
I've had my problems with Logo TV.  It came on the scene as a bold new channel with programming aimed at the gay audience.  Then repeats of mainstream sitcoms about straight characters were added to the line-up with fewer shows about gay culture and news.  I felt the channel should've retitled itself OnTheDownLoGo because it seemed to be pushing its gay identity to the back of the bus.  Cucumber is very much a show about gay characters, mostly men, and it was created by Russell T. Davies.  He was a top man behind Doctor Who and the truly bold British TV series Queer As Folk back in 2000.  As has been done  since the nights of Sanford & Son, American TV executives took a British show and Americanized it in a new version for us here in the States.  That happened with Queer As Folk.  I could see it happening to Cucumber.  But would an American version work?  Not all out Yank remakes of BBC shows have clicked.  The Office worked.  But our versions of BBC's The Robinsons, Peep Show and Coupling vanished within a season.

I saw the first two episodes of Cucumber.  Henry, as you can see, is no hunk.  He's smart, he can be quite charming, but he's also selfish, silly, dishonest and obsessed with having that one earth-shattering sexual hook-up -- hopefully with a 20-something man.  You like him, then you want to slap him for his shallowness.  In other words, he's very human.  A flawed man.  That gives the actor something to play and the actor, Vincent Franklin, plays Henry quite well indeed.  I liked Mr. Franklin when I saw him as the down-to-earth gay wedding planner in Confetti, a guilty pleasure comedy I love.

Henry and Lance, a couple for nine years, meet friends at a bar.  Henry does some rather sweet, middle-aged whining about having to go out for another "gay" get-together.

It's obvious that Lance, played with warmth and wit by Cyril Nri, loves Henry.  But Henry, although 46, has yet to grow up.  Later, when he's trying to charm a self-absorbed, 20-something blond twink that he has the hots for, he says "...for once in my life, I'll get lucky."  He's like a figure in one of those Art Nouveau erotica drawings by Aubrey Beardsley -- a little man whose view of blocked by his own outlandish, straight-up erection.  His sexual fantasy blinds him to reality.  Henry doesn't realize that he's already lucky.  That seems to be a reason why his sex life with his boyfriend leaves the boyfriend frustrated.  On top of  the sexual frustration, Henry tops it off with a dollop of romantic humiliation one night when they're out to dinner.

Lance's reaction is to flirt with a handsome diver who is straight...but not narrow.  They're co-workers.  Lance asks him out for a beer after things with Henry get bumpy.
Henry manipulates his way into meeting Freddie, the twink who clearly doesn't care.
In the first episode, Henry has a fabulously twisted monologue on how non-heterosexual actor Ryan Reynolds is.  Henry says, "...there is nothing Ryan Reynolds loves more than cock."  The cause of Ryan Reynolds' gayness?  His narcissistic view of his own genitalia in the mirror.  One of Henry and Lance's buddies frets because his "spunk" now comes out yellow instead of white.  One says "I miss the 90s."  Another buddy, a handsome and spirited guy with some wisdom of age, now has a physical disability because years of hardcore drinking did a number on his legs.  He's now got titanium hips.  He says "Three decades of vodka have turned my bones into dust."  These friends are racially and physically diverse.  I liked that.  Also in the mix are loving and loopy relatives and interesting characters.  Relatives ask intimate questions about sexual positions and a well-meaning neighbor offers tips for masturbation mood lighting.  Cucumber was both real and surreal.

An older gay man pursuing a young one is nothing new as a storyline for gay characters.  It's been done way too many times.  Freddie could be a rather cardboard, done-before character.  But actor Freddie Fox, seen in last year's under-appreciated Pride, promises to bring a fresh approach to him.  Fox is the son of actor Edward Fox, the man who was so brilliantly chilling as The Jackal in Fred Zinnemann's The Day of the Jackal (1973).

I lost my partner in 1994.  I have not had a second relationship.  That's not by choice.  I got out there and I tried.  I was very romantically interested in a few guys over the years but the feeling was never mutual.  I'd give anything for the thrill of a boring night at home with someone special.  Just the two of us on a couch having some Chinese food on a Saturday night and watching a movie.  That, to me, would be absolute bliss.  That's what Henry has with Lance.  The insurance man is lucky and he doesn't realize it.                                                                                                                                  

He's still obsessed with finding that one cucumber-sized johnson on a hot young man.

Will he come to his senses or break his own heart?  Acquiring this British show for American viewing gives Logo TV a vivid dose of its original identity back.  I didn't like everything that Henry did.  In fact, I thought he was an absolute shit the way he treated Lance one night in particular.  However, it's good to see the flawed, middle-aged, ordinary man take center focus in a gay story.  Henry and Lance are not a "mainstream" gay couple like Cameron and Mitch on the sitcom Modern Family.  Henry has done well professionally, he doesn't fit the marketplace definition of handsome, he's middle-aged, he still has sexual desires and he can make a mess of things.  Just like Viola Davis' character on How To Get Away With Murder.

If you're up for some giggles, rent Confetti.  Vincent Franklin is wonderful as Archie the wedding planner.  The 2006 mockumentary follows British couples competing for a top prize from a posh bridal magazine.  Couples battle it out in the "Most Original Wedding of the Year" contest.  If you win, the magazine pays for your  wedding ceremony.  It's like Best in Show with bridal gowns instead of dogs.  The cast includes veterans of BBC sitcoms such as Sherlock's Martin Freeman (The Robinsons and The Office with Ricky Gervais) and Robert Webb (Peep Show).  Be prepared for full frontal nudity as one pair of competitors is a nudist couple that refuses to put on clothes for the magazine's stuffy executives.  That's one couple the wedding planners have on their hands.  Another is a pair of tennis players who want their wedding theme to reflect their favorite sport.                                                                                                                      

The two wedding planners are also a couple.  As Archie, Vincent Franklin plays a man who has very dear and supportive man in his life.  Archie is lucky.  And he knows it.  I'm interested to see if his Cucumber man finds happiness the way his Confetti man did.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bitten By Tom Cruise

1994.  Remember when Tom Cruise sucked Brad Pitt?  In a major departure from his Risky Business and Top Gun movie image, Cruise challenged himself dramatically when he starred as Lestat the Vampire in the film version of the best-selling Anne Rice novel, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE.  This showed us Tom Cruise, not as a mortal who looks fabulous in sunglasses, but as the undead -- a supernatural creature who seeks the blood of humans at night and will disintegrate if he's ever hit by rays of sunlight.  He sleeps by day -- in a casket.
Brad Pitt co-starred as the man Lestat turns into a fellow vampire by sucking on him.  A little.  Not enough to kill him.  And not in a homo-erotic way.  All the homo-eroticism readers loved in Rice's novel was kept out of the screenplay.  That was 1990s Hollywood.  Quite different from, say, episodes of True Blood on HBO a few years ago.  Lestat and Louis were just really good friends in the movie, having sort of a vampire bromance.

Tom Cruise really wanted to sink his teeth into that role.  But it almost wasn't his to play.

Daniel Day-Lewis reportedly had just signed on to be Lestat.  The actor had won his first Academy Award.  He was voted Best Actor for the 1989 biopic, My Left Foot, in which he brilliantly portrayed an artist severely disabled by cerebral palsy.  Daniel Day-Lewis would go on to make Hollywood history as the only man to win three Oscars in the Best Actor category.  His other two would be for There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012).


In 1993, I was a regular on a new weekend morning news program on WNBC called Weekend TODAY in New York.  I was on the local show when it made its debut in the fall of 1992.  I was approached to be the regular movie reviewer in addition to doing entertainment news and lifestyles features. That appealed to me.  After my years on VH1 as a celebrity talk show host and veejay, I knew I could bring something to that gig.  However, the day before our live show premiered, the news director changed my assignments from entertainment news and film reviews to reading community calendar events for family weekend entertainment and doing funny remotes from shopping malls, street fairs and such.  Friction ensued.

My late partner and I got invited to a 1993 AIDS fundraiser cocktail party in a Central Park restaurant.  We went.  Actor Daniel Day-Lewis was a guest.  He was very casual, very charming and took time to chat with anyone who approached him.  He chatted with my partner and me and I wished him the best of luck shooting Interview with the Vampire.  He leaned over and said, "Thank you but I may have to bow out of it."  He said that he was pretty exhausted and wanted to spend time with his family.  This was totally understandable.  He'd done the lead roles in three heavyweight dramas -- The Last of the Mohicans (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993) and In the Name of the Father (1993).
He would take time off and his next film was the 1996 drama, The Crucible.

I told Mr. Day-Lewis that I was an entertainment news contributor on a local weekend WNBC show.  We were at a weekday fundraiser and I asked him if I could mention what he told me on the air.  He gave me permission because, by the time the weekend arrived, he would've informed all the project-related film folks who needed to know.

I got to work at WNBC in the pre-dawn Saturday morning hours and let my producer know that I had a movie casting scoop to do on the air.  She told me I couldn't do it because someone else was doing showbiz news and gossip.  I knew I had a good item because I'd read that Tom Cruise was keen to play Lestat.  So, I called a buddy of mine.  Michael Lewittes had written a couple of very nice items about my TV work in The New York Daily News.  He was unaware of the Interview with the Vampire casting.  "Trust me," I said.  "This is a good entertainment news item."

He wrote it up.  It went to press.  He called me with the news that Tom Cruise's people contacted him to confirm that Daniel Day-Lewis was out of the picture.  Entertainment  Tonight picked up the story.

And there you have a little backstory to Interview with the Vampire -- and the movie casting news that could've been broken first on Weekend TODAY in New York on WNBC back in 1993.  Nowadays you can follow Michael Lewittes, formerly of The New York Daily News, on Twitter as @GossipCop.

Tom Cruise, now in his early 50s, is still in action.  Trailers are out teasing his upcoming summer release, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation.  I bet he wears sunglasses in it.






Monday, March 23, 2015

On THE DUFF

THE DUFF, a teen comedy, is a fine example of how screwed up America's movie ratings board is.  The Duff is rated PG-13.  It's one of those comedies in which the kids rank hook-up sex more important than scholastic achievements and hot looks are more valuable than character.  Bianca is the drab girl who can't get a date.  She needs color.
She will get cyber-bullied by mean girls.  She will get angry and use some salty language.
Bianca says a couple o' lines that you would've expected to hear from Jack Nicholson as the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed sailor in 1973's The Last Detail.  Again, it's rated PG-13.

But Love Is Strange, a tender and beautifully done film about a gay married couple -- together for almost 40 years -- was rated R.  I reviewed Love Is Strange last month in my February postings.  The senior gay couple, played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, must part temporarily and ask relatives for help when job loss and the Recession leave them without their own home.  In one scene, the couple goes out to a local bar for a drink and recalls a group of political activists they knew decades ago.  They laugh and one refers to the activists as some "crazy motherf***ers."  Apparently, that one word in that one scene got the movie the R rating.  Was there sex or nudity in the film?  The steamiest thing you saw was a shirtless John Lithow.  Love Is Strange should've been nominated for Oscars and it should've been rated PG-13.  But the shadowy and conservative motion picture ratings board probably had a problem with a film focused on a very loving and kind gay married couple.  Meanwhile, The Duff  has a teen girl saying to a guy "...I'll rip your nutsack off" and "Eat a dick!"  Another character says "F***in' A!" and yet another teen says "I would totally bang the shit out of her.  But I wouldn't like it."  Mae Whitman stars as The Duff.  Her name is Bianca.  She finds out that her pretty friends in senior class consider her to be a "DUFF."  That stands for "Designated Ugly Fat Friend."
The football jock, who will be crowned homecoming king, convinces Bianca to get a style makeover.  He gives her tips on how to flirt with a guy.  He's straight and a bit of a jerk but he does sincerely try to help Bianca score with the long-haired dude she's got a crush on.
The football jock also happens to be the boy next door.  He and Bianca are neighbors.

Bianca is on the school newspaper staff gets assigned to write a feature titled "What Does Homecoming Mean To Me?"
There are teen comedies that, although aimed at young audiences, are so well-played and brightly written that they also appeal to middle-aged moviegoers.  My top examples are Clueless, a clever update on Jane Austen's Emma starring Alicia Silverstone, Mean Girls with a screenplay co-written by Tina Fey, Easy A with Emma Stone shining in a wonderful spin on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and Juno starring Ellen Page as a pregnant high school teen in the suburbs.

The Duff is enjoyable and the story's message is sound.  But the movie isn't as good as those four comedies I mentioned.  You don't mind that you've seen this kind of story before, but you've seen it previously done with much wittier scripts and more developed characters. Mae Whitman, who was a member of NBC's Parenthood cast, is good as Bianca.  There's a touch of the Juno about her in her braininess and awareness of people and things made famous prior to her birth.  For instance, she mentions actor Vincent  Price.  The other high school girls don't know who he is.  Also, one of the snappiest performances comes not from a teen character, but from Allison Janney as Bianca's divorced motivational speaker mom.  Janney, who also played the mom opposite Ellen Page as Juno, is a hoot and adds so much verve that you wish her part was larger.


If you see The Duff, I highly recommend you rent Love Is Strange.  You tell me if the touching drama about the same-sex married couple, together nearly 40 years, deserved a PG-13 rating like the one this teen comedy got.  If those two movies were high school term papers I was grading, I'd give Love Is Strange an A.  The Duff would get a C+.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

My VH1 Years: Paul McCartney

I interviewed Paul McCartney in London for VH1.  It still amazes that I can write and say that.  I flew to London to meet, sit with and talk to one of the world's most famous people in show business.  Wow.

To this day, he remains in my personal Top Five list as one of the most gracious, polite and punctual stars of any medium that I've ever had the privilege to meet.  Not only an acclaimed and celebrated pop/rock music legend, he was a true gentleman.
I worked with a British TV crew the morning of our taping.  Not only did Sir Paul show up twenty minutes early, he showed up alone.  No entourage.  No publicist.  No manager or agent.  He was a solo act.  The same could not be said ten years later of some young recording artists I interviewed on live morning TV shows in New York City about their one -- and only -- hit record.  Of course, we talked about his star-making days as one of The Beatles and their classics.  Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote gems that started as pop his with teens and have matured to become standards sung by great vocalists.

We talked about their music and their hit movies in the 1960s.  We also talked about his marriage to Linda McCartney.  What was the lovely spirit that connected them?
It's interesting to hear all this now considering his history later.  After Linda's death, his marriage to Heather Mills was...well, she didn't win our hearts the way Linda did.
Paul was promoting a new album.  He collaborated with Elvis Costello.  I asked him about writing with Costello and if it was, in any way, similar to writing with John Lennon.  Lennon and McCartney wrote for film.  The title tune and other songs we heard in the hit 1964 comedy, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, were eligible for the Best Song Academy Award. The score included "Can't Buy Me Love," "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You," "And I Love Her" and "If I Fell." Not a single song from A Hard Day's Night was nominated.  The Best Song Oscar went to "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Disney's Mary Poppins.

I was on VH1 from 1987 to 1990. Humorist Henry Alford was a VH1 host in the 1990s and wrote about his experience in the memoir Big Kiss:  One Actor's Desperate Attempt To Claw His Way To The Top.  In the book, Alford wrote that all the VH1 veejays in the 1980s were all stand-up comedians like Gallagher.  Wrong.  Imagine my surprise after I'd purchased his book and read that section.
I've never been a stand-up comedian.  I did not smash melons with a sledgehammer.  Rosie O'Donnell was also a veejay then.  She and I did segments together.  She's a stand-up comedian but she was nothing like Gallagher.  Blonde veejay Edye Tarbox went on to substitute her first name with initials, kept a married last name and became the Fox News network anchor E.D. Hill.

I was the first African-American talent to be a prime time weeknight celebrity talk show host on VH1.  And I was the first African-American talent on VH1 to do an exclusive interview with Paul McCartney.  In London, no less.

Henry Alford went on to write for The New York Times and be a contributor on National Public Radio.  If you know him, show him this blog post.

Here's my first segment with Paul McCartney on that VH1 special.  Right under this post, you'll find the third section of our interview.  That was my favorite part.  He talked about the film role he turned down and why Lennon & McCartney did not take their songwriting talents to Broadway.

When South L.A. was called South Central L.A., I grew up there.  I graduated from a high school in Watts, a Watts trying to rise from the ashes like a phoenix after making national headlines with over a week of summer riots fueled by racial frustrations in 1965.


Our family lived in the Watts riots curfew area.

I'm proud to have grown up in South Central L.A.  I still can't believe I went from there to London to meet a Beatle.  I still count my career blessings.  I didn't even have a broadcast agent and there I was on national television.  Utilizing fine arts knowledge I got during my high school days back in Watts.  As you watch Sir Paul and me, keep in mind that it was the late 1980s...and I was very nervous.  But tried not to show it.
I hope you enjoyed that.  I hope you enjoy the McCartney segment under this post.

Paul McCartney - VH1 Meets McCartney (Part 3)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My VH1 Years: Phil Collins

The Oscars.  The Royals.  Rock stars.  Safe sex.  Phil Collins and I discussed all that and more on VH1 in the late 80s.  He's now promoting his recently published memoirs and preparing for a 2017 tour.
The rock star and actor was a great guest on my prime time VH1 talk show.  I'm pretty sure I was the first and only talk show host on national TV who pulled out of box of condoms that related to his music.  Phil Collins added his music to Britain's safe sex campaign and proudly told me all about it.
He was an Oscar® nominee in the Best Song category for his hit song, "Take a Look at Me Now" written for the 1984 drama, AGAINST ALL ODDS.                                                                          
Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward starred in that remake of a 1947 film noir classic starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas called OUT OF THE PAST.  Phil Collins wanted to sing the song  in the Oscars® show but the producers gave the number to dancer/singer Ann Reinking, a Broadway star who film goers remember from the Bob Fosse film, ALL THAT JAZZ.
She didn't get the lyrics right during the number and the camera shot to a pained expression on Phil's face as he sat in the audience.

We talked about that night.  He was on my show to promote his starring role in the film, BUSTER.  Yes, Collins can act.  He played the lead in a drama based on the life of a notorious 1960s bank robber in Great Britain.  He wrote the song "Two Hearts" for Buster and that would bring Collins an Oscar nomination for Best Song of 1988.


Collins would go on to write songs for Disney's animated TARZAN.  His composition, "You'll Be In My Heart" would bring him his third Oscar nomination for Best Song.  The third time was a charm.  He won the Oscar for Best Song of 1999.
The name of the Phil Collins memoir is NOT DEAD YET.  In it, he writes about being in the Royal Family's inner circle, the alcoholism that nearly took his life,  failed marriages, affairs and relationships with fellow rock stars.  I'd like to read it.


Angela Lansbury, Happy Birthday!

She got three Oscar nominations for outstanding dramatic performances.  She became a top star of Broadway musicals.  She was the star of one...