September 18, 2007

AFI showing 11 classic films at once

LOS ANGELES - The American Film Institute is celebrating its 40th anniversary by simultaneously screening 11 classic films, each with a live introduction by a star or filmmaker.

The screenings, on Oct. 3 at the Arclight Hollywood theater, are open to the public. Among the presenters will be Jack Nicholson for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Julie Andrews for "The Sound of Music," Clint Eastwood for "Unforgiven" and George Lucas for "Star Wars — Episode IV: A New Hope."

"I cannot think of another event when movie makers and movie lovers have come together in such a spectacular fashion," Lucas said in a statement. "I'm proud to be part of this historic night — both as movie lover and a movie maker."

Other introductions will be made by Warren Beatty for "Bonnie and Clyde," Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner for "When Harry Met Sally...," Kirk Douglas for "Spartacus," Morgan Freeman for "The Shawshank Redemption," Tippi Hedren for "The Birds" and Sylvester Stallone for "Rocky."

Tickets for "Target Presents AFI's 40th Anniversary" go on sale Wednesday for $25.

September 10, 2007

'Johnny Belinda' actress Jane Wyman dies

Click here for video tribute.

LOS ANGELES - Jane Wyman won an Oscar for her role as a deaf rape victim in the film "Johnny Belinda" and she'll probably be best remembered for her portrayal of a power-mad winery owner in TV's "Falcon Crest."

But her greatest distinction may have been refusing to kiss and tell about her love life, most especially her marriage to future president Ronald Reagan.

Wyman died early Monday at her Palm Springs home, son Michael Reagan said. Wyman's age was listed as 93 in several reference books, however other sources, including the official family Web site, say she was 90.

"I have lost a loving mother, my children Cameron and Ashley have lost a loving grandmother, my wife Colleen has lost a loving friend she called Mom and Hollywood has lost the classiest lady to ever grace the silver screen," Reagan said in a statement.

Wyman's film career started in the 1930s and stretched from the "Gold Diggers of 1937" to 1969's "How to Commit Marriage," co-starring Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason. From 1981 to 1990 she played Angela Channing, a Napa Valley vintner who maintained her grip with a steely will on CBS' "Falcon Crest."

Her marriage in 1940 to fellow Warner Bros. contract player Ronald Reagan was celebrated in the fan magazines as one of Hollywood's ideal unions. While he was in uniform during World War II, her career ascended, signaled by her 1946 Oscar nomination for "The Yearling."

She and Reagan divorced in 1948, the year she won an Oscar for "Johnny Belinda." Reagan reportedly cracked to a friend: "Maybe I should name Johnny Belinda as co-respondent."

After Reagan became governor of California and then president of the United States, Wyman kept a decorous silence about her ex-husband, who had married actress Nancy Davis. In a 1968 newspaper interview, Wyman explained the reason:

"It's not because I'm bitter or because I don't agree with him politically. I've always been a registered Republican. But it's bad taste to talk about ex-husbands and ex-wives, that's all. Also, I don't know a damn thing about politics."

A few days after Reagan died on June 5, 2004, Wyman broke her silence, saying: "America has lost a great president and a great, kind and gentle man."

Warner Bros. signed Wyman to a long-term contract in 1936, and the studio was notorious for typecasting its contract players.

Wyman suffered that fate. She recalled in 1968: "For 10 years I was the wisecracking lady reporter who stormed the city desk snapping, `Stop the presses! I've got a story that will break this town wide open!'"

In 1937, Wyman married a wealthy manufacturer of children's clothes, Myron Futterman, in New Orleans. The marriage was reported as her second, but an earlier marriage was never confirmed. She divorced him in November 1938, declaring she wanted children and he didn't.

The actress became entranced by Reagan, a handsome former sportscaster who was a newcomer to the Warner lot. She finagled a date with him, and romance ensued.

After returning from a personal appearance tour with columnist Louella Parsons, they were married on Jan. 26, 1940. The following year she gave birth to a daughter, Maureen. They later adopted a son, Michael. They also had a daughter who was born several months premature in June 1947 and died a day later.

In Reagan's autobiography "An American Life," the index shows only one mention of Wyman, and it runs for only two sentences.

Their daughter Maureen died in August 2001 after a battle with cancer. At the funeral, Wyman, balancing on a cane, put a cross on the casket. Reagan, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, was not well enough to attend.

Wyman escaped B-pictures by persuading Jack Warner to loan her to Paramount for "The Lost Weekend." The film won the Academy Award for 1945 and led to another loanout — to MGM for "The Yearling." De-glamourized as a backwoods wife and mother, the actress received her first Oscar nomination.

After 40 films at Warner Bros., Wyman achieved her first acting challenge with "Johnny Belinda." When Jack Warner saw a rough cut of the film, he ranted to the director, Jean Negulesco: "We invented talking pictures, and you make a picture about a deaf and dumb girl!"

He changed his attitude when "Johnny Belinda" received 12 Academy Award nominations and the Oscar for Jane Wyman.

Wyman continued making prestigious films such as "The Glass Menagerie," Alfred Hitchcock's "Stage Fright" and "Here Comes the Groom" (with Bing Crosby). Two tearjerkers, "The Blue Veil" (1951) and "Magnificent Obsession" (1954), brought her Oscar nominations as best actress.

Other film credits included: "So Big," "Lucy Gallant," "All That Heaven Allows," "Miracle in the Rain," "Holiday for Lovers," "Pollyanna" and "Bon Voyage!"

Her first entry into television came with "The Jane Wyman Show," an anthology series that appeared on NBC from 1955 to 1958. She introduced the shows, half of them starring herself, half with other actors. She quit the show after three years, saying that "putting on a miniature movie once a week" was exhausting.

In 1952 Wyman married Fred Karger, a studio music director. They divorced, later remarried and divorced the second time in 1965.

When Wyman received the script for "Falcon Crest," she was undecided about undertaking the nasty, power-hungry Angela Channing, so different from the self-sacrificing characters of her movie days.

But she liked the idea that Angela "runs everything. She goes straight through everything like a Mack truck."

Riding the wave of prime-time soap operas that made "Dallas" and "Dynasty" national sensations, "Falcon Crest" lasted nine seasons. The series ended with Angela again in control of the vineyard. Her battered family raised their glasses in a toast: "The land endures."

"Next to my parents, Jane was the most influential person in my young career," said Lorenzo Lamas, who starred with Wyman on "Falcon Crest." "She has left an incredible body of work and accomplishments that cannot go without being recognized and celebrated. I will miss her greatly."

After Reagan became president in 1981, his former wife gave few interviews and responded to questions about him with a stony look. When "Falcon Crest" ended, she withdrew from public view. She saw a few intimates and devoted much time to painting.

"She was a wonderful woman and great to work with," said actress Jane Seymour, who starred in TV's "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," where Wyman guest-starred in a 1993 episode as Seymour's mother. "She was an amazing pro."

Wyman summed up her long career in a 1981 newspaper interview: "I've been through four different cycles in pictures: the brassy blonde, then came the musicals, the high dramas, then the inauguration of television."

Born Sarah Jane Fulks in St. Joseph, Mo, she grew up in a cheerless home in which her mother's time was devoted to her seriously ailing husband. After her father died, Sarah Jane accompanied her mother to Los Angeles, where the girl tried to get jobs in the studios. There was no work for the snub-nosed teenager, and she returned to St. Joseph.

She attended the University of Missouri, worked as a manicurist and switchboard operator, then sang on radio as Jane Durrell. When that career dwindled, she decided to try Hollywood again, began playing bit parts, and changed Durrell to Wyman.

September 06, 2007

What Illness? Pleshette Still a Spitfire

Suzanne Pleshette speaks during a discussion for TV Land's 35th anniversary tribute to "The Bob Newhart Show," Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Suzanne Pleshette is very much alive, and ever her saucy self.

In a rare public appearance Wednesday night for a 35th-anniversary tribute to "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972-78), her most enduring work, the veteran actress showed that a year of serious personal and health matters hasn't dampened her spitfire personality.

"I'm cancer-free, my (breasts) are great and ... I'm extremely, extremely rich," she responded to a question from The Associated Press, generating howls of laughter from a packed audience during a panel discussion featuring the cast of the beloved sitcom.

The tribute, co-hosted by the TV Land cable network and the Paley Center for Media, attracted most of the show's principals, as well as legendary-comic guests Don Rickles and Tim Conway. But Pleshette's attendance had been a question mark.

In August 2006, it was announced that the actress, 70, was being treated for lung cancer. In April, her actor-husband Tom Poston died from respiratory failure. Even as late as Wednesday afternoon, publicists would not confirm Pleshette's participation in the tribute, and she did not walk the arrivals line, where Newhart spoke about his longtime leading lady's health.

"It is not cancer," he said. "She had an operation, they got it all. She then developed a pulmonary problem. She went in the hospital. When she went in the hospital, she caught pneumonia, so she went back in the hospital. It was touch and go. She's here tonight, and she told me, `Yesterday, I couldn't have made it.'"

Early into the panel discussion, Pleshette noted, "I could have dropped dead. There are three doctors who kept me alive, just for tonight."

Pleshette, looking fresh in a black pinstriped suit, was asked what she thought the classic show's real secret of success was. "The sexual energy between us," she responded dryly, inspiring a belly laugh from Newhart.

"I don't remember that," he shot back.

She was serious for a moment, though, when talking about working with Newhart as the ever amusing and ever loving Bob and Emily.

"We were a bright couple," Pleshette said. "We were a couple who cared deeply for each other. We were a working couple, both making substantial amounts of money. And I just think we were fabulous."

TV Land airs a 35th-anniversary marathon of "The Bob Newhart Show" on Monday, running eight episodes selected by Newhart, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

September 05, 2007

Indiana's Tamika Catchings has torn Achilles' tendon surgically repaired

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn Achilles' tendon in her right foot.

The Fever said Catchings was resting at her Indianapolis home after the surgery by Dr. Dan Lehman.

''It was a complete tear of her Achilles','' Lehman said in a team statement. ''It was successfully repaired and everything went well.''

Catchings, a U.S. Olympic gold medalist and five-time WNBA All-Star, was injured during Monday's Eastern Conference finals loss at Detroit. She collapsed to the floor during the final minute of the first half and was taken from the floor in a wheelchair.

The Fever said she will probably take six to nine months to recover.

Catchings finished fourth in league MVP voting announced Wednesday despite missing the final 13 games of the regular season after suffering a partial tear of the plantar fascia in her left foot. In 21 regular-season games, she averaged 16.9 points and had career-best figures of 9.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists - leading the Fever in each category for a sixth straight season.
Catchings To Undergo Surgery Wednesday

INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Olympic gold medalist and five-time WNBA All-Star forward Tamika Catchings will undergo surgery on Wednesday, Sept. 5, to repair a torn Achilles tendon sustained during the second quarter of Monday night’s Eastern Conference Finals loss in Detroit.

Catchings collapsed to the floor with 43.2 seconds remaining in the first half. She was taken from the floor in a wheelchair, and flew back to Indianapolis late Monday night with team physician Dr. David Harsha.

Surgery will be performed by Dr. Dan Lehman, affiliated with St.Vincent Sports Medicine, and Orthopedics of Indianapolis. Catchings’ anticipated recovery time following surgery is between six and nine months.

A top candidate for WNBA MVP honors through the first half of the 2007 season, Catchings missed the final 13 games of the regular season after sustaining a partial tear of the plantar fascia in her left foot. She made a successful return to the court just in time for the first round of the WNBA Playoffs, averaging 19.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in a 2-1 first-round series win over Connecticut. Catchings posted double-doubles in all three games of the series. Her 46 rebounds were a WNBA record for a 3-game playoff series, and her 20 rebounds in Game 1 of the series, her first game back from injury, was the second-best playoff figure ever.

In 21 games, she finished the regular season with an average of 16.9 points, and career-best figures of 9.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. She topped the WNBA with 3.1 steals per contest and led the Fever in scoring, rebounds, steals and assists for a sixth straight season. With Catchings in the lineup, Indiana raced to a 16-4 record to begin the year – the best 20-game mark in Eastern Conference history.

The Fever finished the regular season 21-13 for a third consecutive year, becoming the first Eastern Conference team ever to boast three straight 20-win seasons. The Fever outlasted Connecticut to advance to the Eastern Finals for the second time in three seasons, but after winning Game 1 of the best-of-three series against Detroit, lost Games 2 and 3.