Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo Cooks Up a Storm With Shannon Allen on TV!

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  NBA players Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen arrive to the T-Mobile Magenta Carpet at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game on February 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images) Rajon is ready for his close-up!
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
What’s the best way to wheedle an interview with insights?

Take the subject to dinner—and the beautiful, charming and disarming Shannon Allen, wife of Celtics star Ray, did just that on her spicy new cooking show on Boston’s cable sports network, taped at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center complex in their Action Kitchen.

Each week, Shannon will cook up a storm and serve it to the athlete of choice. On the menu in future shows will be Wes Welker, Glen Davis, Kevin Youkilis as well as, of course, Ray Allen.

In mid-February, as the show’s guest, Rajon Rondo looked bemused during the cooking sequence as Shannon asked him to do a modicum of labor, like beating up cornflakes for the crispy chicken.

The Celtics point guard is obviously not used to taking orders, but rather, prefers giving them. That includes, of course, general of the troops on the basketball court, but also when at work in the kitchen. Rondo confessed he does all the cooking at home and even once considered going to culinary school.

It appears Rajon (and he informs everyone how to pronounce his name correctly on the show) may in fact be the general in his own culinary den. He does much of his own healthy meal preparations at home, especially since he wants his daughter to eat healthy.

He also takes the opportunity to point out how little body fat he has (lowest in the league, he boasts proudly). The spitfire guard attributed his condition to youth—not yet overly worried about his dietary intake like the older members of the team who surround him.

101489864_crop_340x234 Of Mice and Men: Lenny & George, aka Perk & Rondo
Elsa/Getty Images

Having been taped before the infamous trades by the Celtics at the end of February, Rajon is seen noting how great the camaraderie has been with this team, especially off the court. He confesses they act like brothers, even to the point of fighting a little bit. It makes the loss since the taping more palpable.

If Rajon loves cornbread, how can there be any surprise? Eating cornbread became a superstitious ritual during the Celtics run for the championship in 2008, when the players ate together during the playoffs. Lucky for Rondo, former Celtics player and current radio analyst Cedric Maxwell has already stolen the nickname “Cornbread.”

But only one player’s name (other than Ray) crossed Rondo’s lips. Perhaps he put the curse of the “unfried chicken” meal on Kendrick Perkins. Though Rondo observed he was a big eater, only Perkins could wolf down four pizzas at a time, he reported. The scene now seems bittersweet, with Perkins half way across the country and in another division.

The twosome, often compared to Steinbeck’s Lennie and George, may have had their last Celtic meal together. Small George, the brains of the two in Of Mice and Men, often controlled the physically imposing Lennie and his fierce anger.

Often would Rondo push Perkins away from angry confrontations, saving him plenty of technical fouls. Now the Lennie figure will move on to Oklahoma City, where his thunderous attitude will find no leash to help him stay out of on-court trouble.

But, we still have Rajon—and he finally admits he is the hot sauce guy on the Celtics. He knows he is “fortunate” to be on a team that “gets along very well,” explaining the recent turmoil over the trade of Perkins.

Those fans that are lucky enough can find the “Pre-Game Meal” show, with Shannon Allen, available on Comcast stations.

Rajon Rondo gives us plenty to chew on.

 

You can read more about Rondo in William Russo’s books:  RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR! and the latest entry RAJON RONDO & THE GREEN NEBULA.  Books are available at Amazon.com in softcover and in e-book formats.

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Malik Sealy: Star of Eddie, a Long Ago Movie

25 Mar 1997:  Guard Malik Sealy of the Los Angeles Clippers stands on the court during a game against the Vancouver Grizzlies at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California.  The Clippers won the game 110-104. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport Elsa/Getty Images
Malik Sealy has been gone now for over a decade.  Had he survived the car crash that killed him when a drunk driver smashed into his vehicle, he’d probably be doing movie roles and working as a TV analyst after a brilliant career in the NBA.

As Shakespeare once said, the good men do is often interred with their bones, but Malik showed the world a few lasting emblems to follow today if we look and remember.

Few now recall that Sealy also had a featured role in Eddie, a movie with Rick Fox and Whoopi Goldberg. Malik played the arrogant young ball player named Stacy. He had also done a few television episodes of a show called The Sentinel.

Sealy, who came out of St. John’s in the 1990s, was a star player for the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was there he met Kevin Garnett. The influence on each other was life-long and intense. The stars were aligned for the match.

Sealy was an extrovert who enjoyed performing, and he became a close advisor to his young colleague at the Timberwolves who was mercurial and private. He once told Kevin Garnett to “do what you do. If you left it out on the floor, you can be proud of that.” He helped the callow Garnett develop emotionally. After studying Malik, Garnett learned focus his power and turn it to superstardom.

In May of 2000, Sealy helped to arrange a surprise birthday party for Kevin Garnett who later recalled it was one of the best moments of his life, and he went to bed thinking how lucky he was to have friends like Malik. Shortly after falling asleep, KG’s aunt woke him with the staggering news that his friend was dead.

A drunk driver, with a long history of driving under the influence, going the wrong way on a Minnesota street, crashed head-on into Sealy’s vehicle. Malik’s car wasn’t equipped with air bags, but the other driver survived.

Later in the week, instead of going on vacation with Sealy as they had planned, Garnett served as a pallbearer, bringing his friend’s body to the cemetery in Queens where he now rests.

Garnett restored his crumbling spirits over the next few years, and perhaps had a moment in private thinking of Malik after he won that elusive NBA championship with the Celtics. No future birthday for Garnett could ever overcome this residue of bitterness.

The man who killed Malik has been in and out of prison for drunk driving twice more in ten years. Sealy’s most lasting legacy becomes the cautionary tale he gives fans about drunk driving and, especially, the moral failure of society to listen.

Had he lived, Malik Sealy would have only recently retired.

Requiescat in Pace, Malik.

From Chad Ochocinco and Dwight Howard to Johnny Weir: The Art of the Athlete

From Chad Ochocinco and Dwight Howard to Johnny Weir: The Art of the Athlete

SPOKANE, WA - JANUARY 24:  Johnny Weir skates during the exhibition gala at the US Figure Skating Championships at Spokane Arena on January 24, 2010 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) Johnny Weir: Dressing like a member of metal band Kiss?
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty ImagesHUMOR — Ask a professional athlete how much he has trained since he was a boy, and he will likely tell you three hours per day, nearly every day for over a dozen years. 

Ask Chad Ochocinco if he has ever been fined and penalized $20,000 for uniform violations during a game.

Ask Terrell Owens if he has ever been fined or penalized for speaking ill of an organization in the NFL.

Ask Shaquille O’Neal if he has ever been penalized and fined $50,000 for disparaging the referees.

Ask Rajon Rondo if he has been told he is forbidden to wear the NBA logo upside down on his headband, or if practicing on Rollerblades has improved his game.

Ask Blake Griffin if he must choreograph any complex twists, moves and gestures for the NBA dunk contest.

Of course, the answers are a resounding “Yes!” to each of these questions.

If you were to ask Johnny Weir, the outrageous and flamboyant figure skater, if the same is true for him in his sport, he will tell you a resounding “Yes!”

Some sports fans will disdain Weir and his figure skating as not a sport like the ones Rondo, Ochocinco or Blake Griffin play.

84800690_crop_340x234 Dwight Howard in costume….
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

But professional sports have come to resemble figure skating.

Judgment is against criticizing the referees (and Weir openly criticized his judges).  Weir explained how the color of his costume—not the quality of his athletic endeavors—loses him contest after contest. He is punished openly for his attitude.

Players of all sports want to play with fierce emotion, but in the NBA, if you make gestures deemed outlandish, you may be fined or given a technical foul.  Players are forbidden to accessorize their uniforms, whether in the NFL, NBA or even MLB.

Ask Terry Francona, who was told that those sweatshirts were not appropriate fashion during a game.

So, when a friend suggested that I watch Johnny Weir’s documentary, “Pop Star on Ice,” I was more than a little surprised that Weir has faced many of the same sanctions, and worse yet, he may have lost competitions because jaded judges base their decisions wholly on his costumes, his hair color, his makeup and lighting, the colors he chose to wear and his demeanor!

Figure skating is not classic mano-a-mano combat, not strength against muscle. It has more art than most other athletic endeavors. Yet, who does not see art in a pitcher’s movement to pick off a runner? Don’t we see art in the graceful grab of a football in the end zone? How often do we admire the art in the smooth behind-the-back pass in basketball?

Shaq_crop_340x234 Shaqita, presumably Shaq in costume….

Heaven help us, there is even art in Dwight Howard’s sculpted muscles.

Perhaps Weir ought to skate to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and dress like a member of Kiss.

Would that make figure skating an acceptable sport to young sports fans who would not be caught dead watching a double axle?  I rather doubt it.

To be honest, after watching “Pop Star on Ice,” no longer can I see a big difference between figure skating and other professional sports where you work your tail off for a decade or two. You compete fiercely at every matchup, and you work with trainers to keep in shape and extend your professional career. Johnny Weir showed me all of that in “Pop Star on Ice.”

It’s the mark of a true athlete.

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Rocky Marciano: Better Late Than Never, an Overdue Honor is Back on Schedule

BOSTON - CIRCA 1955:  (UNDATED FILE PHOTO) Baseball legend Ted Williams (1918 - 2002) of the Boston Red Sox (L) laughs as American boxing great Rocky Marciano (1923 - 1969) swings a bat circa 1955. The 83-year-old Williams, who was the last major league player to bat .400 when he hit .406 in 1941, died July 5, 2002 at Citrus County Memorial Hospital in Florida. He died of an apparent heart attack.  (Photo by Getty Images) Two Legends Together: Will Rocky Marciano now receive a statue like Ted Williams has?
Getty Images/Getty Images 

Nearly two years ago, in September of 2009, a statue to honor the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, Rocky Marciano, was supposed to be unveiled in his hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts.

A funny thing happened on the way to the ceremony. There was no statue erected, and apparently the funding source had postponed their commitment.

Good news came this week to the relatives of Marciano still living in Brockton. World Boxing Council President Jose Sulaiman arranged for a tour of the city in June to determine what sites may best be suitable for the new statue of the original Rocky.

To show the WBC sincerity, Sulaiman will bring legendary trainer Angelo Dundee with him for the important stopover. Dundee was Muhammad Ali’s trainer when the de-frocked champion fought Rocky Marciano in a notorious computer-generated fight.

The two boxing greats donned their trunks and mock-fought, throwing pulled punches at each other according to the direction of a computer. Marciano sprinkled his face with fake blood, and the two fighters hit it off. The fight was an anti-climax because not a few months later, Marciano died in a plane crash. He never saw the finished movie in 1970.

Now, over forty years later, people still await a tribute in bronze. Even Rocky Balboa has come and gone, with a statue to him in Philadelphia unveiled decades ago. Originally used in the Rocky III film, the statue was first at the famous steps of the Art Museum, but now has a permanent home at the sports complex in Philly.

Alas, Rocky Marciano still waits his turn. No one is quite sure where the bronze Rocky will stand in Brockton, a city 13 miles southwest of Boston. At present Boston has statues of Ted Williams, Bobby Orr, Red Auerbach, and recent proposals have been made for Bill Russell to receive a bronze likeness in the city.

Sulaiman confirmed the mid-June visit where he will meet Peter Marciano, the nephew of the great champ. Peter Marciano, a Brockton native like his uncle, has been an active force in the drive to honor Rocky.

The WBC has offered to pay for the commission of the statue by sculptor Mario Rendon who may join the tour group for the tour. The City of Brockton plans to pull out all stops to finalize the project and give Rocky Marciano this final honor.

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Boston Celtics Go To Hollywood: Ray Allen, Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  Shaquille O'Neal of the Boston Celtics attends NBA All-Star Saturday night presented by State Farm at Staples Center on February 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images) Master Performer, Shaq is now appearing on the Boston stage…
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images 

Truly devoted Celtics fan will know that many of the great (and not so great) players of the classic Celtics championship teams have played roles in major motion pictures.

We are not talking ESPN documentaries or TV guest shots. No, many Boston Celtics stars transferred their talents to the big screen, sometimes fleetingly and often in major films.

How many do you remember? All the movies in which Celtics players appeared are available on DVD and should be required viewing for the die-hard Celtics fan.

Our list may not be complete, but it is comprehensive. We chose 10 of the most well-known Celtics and ranked their contributions to great movie entertainment. A surprising number of films are, of course, based on basketball. Not all.

10. Kevin McHale

Unlike his great championship teammates of the 1980s, McHale’s screen appearances were all small: He did a couple of guest appearances on the hit TV show called Cheers, set in a Boston bar during the late 1980s. His Herman Munster style did not make it to the big screen. Lately, he appears as an NBA analyst as comic relief.

9. Danny Ainge

In his most recent career move, Ainge has been a Celtic wheeler and dealer, leading the team to a new dynasty from a front office seat. Few may remember his tiny walk-on in Space Jam in 1989 with Bugs Bunny.

It was in 2002 that he appeared last on the screen as a Mormon teacher in Singles Ward. It catapulted him back to the Celtics. No additional screen time is likely.

8. Larry Bird

The great Celtic leader of the 1980s teams has not always shown the best side on screen. His word in Space Jam made him a poor second to Michael Jordan in both golf and basketball.

He also lent his presence to Celtic Pride in 1993 about vile fans that kidnap an opposing player to help the Celtics keep their winning streak. The film was notable for showing the old Boston Garden being dismantled.

7. Shaquille O’Neal

As the most impressive Kazaam of the Celtics, Shaq parlayed that role into one of his archetypal movie performances. He also took on the role of a giant college prospect in Blue Chips.

Nowadays, Shaq can be found conducting symphony orchestras, dressing up as Shaqita and acting like he found the Fountain of Youth in Boston.

108675215_crop_340x234 Ray Allen starred with Denzel Washington, no less….
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

6. Bill Russell

The legendary player has become a Renaissance Man to winner of the national Medal of Freedom, from writing books to being involved with all aspects of the game, including the role as first African-American NBA coach.

His film work has been spotty, but in 1981 he left the role of subject interviewee to play a key role in Gary Coleman’s movie, On the Right Track.

5. Red Auerbach

The epitome of the Celtics for now and forever will be the cigar-smoking coach and general manager of so many championship years. When it came to his chance at the big screen, Red could only play himself as the general manager of the Celtics who is faced with a star player who quits to help change the world.

The film was called Amazing Grace and Chuck. A non-Celtic, now assistant coaching in the NBA, Alex English played the Celtic player who walks away from the team to promote nuclear disarmament.

4. Bob Cousy

Considered one of the greatest players of all-time, a great coach and great TV commentator, Cousy tried his hand at movies, as well.

109302492_crop_340x234 Matinee Idol looks brought Rick Fox to Los Angeles after his Celtics stint…
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

In 1994, he played coach Nick Nolte’s boss, Vic, the athletic director of the college program, in Blue Chips. Cousy stayed in character and even had billing above Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway in the credits.

3. Rick Fox

A Celtic rookie who started for the team, his handsome looks led him to the movies from the start. When he went from the Celtics to the arch-rival Lakers, his movie career could pick up steam and continues to this day.

From roles in Blue Chips to Eddie with Whoopi Goldberg, Rick transcended playing basketball roles to action/adventure characters in a variety of movies.

2. Ray Allen

As the only player to start at the top of movie fame, Ray played the lead role in He Got Game, working with both Spike Lee and Denzel Washington in 1998.

In a quintessential role as the young phenom named Jesus Shuttlesworth, he took second billing to Denzel and gave a first-rate performance in a complex and emotional role.

1. Chuck Connors

By far the most prolific Boston Celtic to make it to the big screen was their center from the 1946-47 season. From movies like Pat and Mike with Hepburn and Tracy, to the villain of The Big Country with Charlton Heston, Connors made his greatest fame as The Rifleman on television in the late 1950s and in Branded in the 1960s.

Whatever his screen successes, Connors never forgot his role as a Boston Celtic player, and the team emblem can be found on his tombstone at his request.

There Must Be a Pony!

Did you ever make a friend who gave you “the creeps” now and then?

Celebrity and author James Kirkwood, famous son of former silent film star, Lila Lee, told me much of the true story behind the shooting death of his mother’s lover at a Manhattan Beach mansion. Acting as his literary confidante, I was both a simpleton of fan loyalty and grew to become a suspicious close reader of his tales. He told me much, often surprising in its frank detail, but I think he wanted me to be one of the recorders for posterity of his life. “Keep teaching me,” he said till his death in 1989.  I hope to keep the flame alive, even if it means besmirching his memory.

I believe Jimmy Kirkwood was a serial killer, having disposed of at least five people during his youth.  There could have been more. His list of dead friends changed constantly in our conversations—some he found earlier than others, but not always. He dropped enough kernels of the mystery to whet my curiosity.

We played a kind of chess game over the facts of these deaths, which he wove into his stories (with variations of truth to suit plot conventions).  During our acquaintance, he scared me often with his powerful sudden anger, seemingly what underlay the deaths of so many characters in his stories and plays. Though I wanted to believe he wasn’t guilty of really killing people, that I was imagining these strange deaths and his odd connection, he constantly gave me more clues to the contrary.

When I tried to dig up the facts—or through him, he flared, calling me “the goddam D.A.  You’re like a district attorney.”  But the game was afoot, and he gave me wild mental images: he was zooming off in a private jet with me tearing across the airstrip trying to stop him; of me running down a wharf just as he gunned the speedboat away in a nick of time. I was the warden, and he the escaped convict. When it got this bad, I realized we were re-enacting a scene from one of his novels… Good Times/Bad Times).  On occasion I wondered why he chose to tease a professor from a small Boston college like a playmate.  But, he had knighted me as his Boswell. He knew I would gather together the facts at one point—and try to set the record straight. Jim Kirkwood was quite aware I suspected him of being a serial killer.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Kirkwood is best known for A Chorus Line, now in revival on Broadway. His cult classic, P.S. Your Cat is Dead is well-known within the gay community, done often on stage and lately in a film version. His Legends toured with Linda Evans and Joan Collins.  But, his first novel was based on his traumatic days as a son of Hollywood movie stars. A movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Wagner, made about 40 years later, gave us a fictional side of his experiences.

First, Jim Kirkwood wrote of his boyhood trauma in There Must be a Pony as short story, later as a novel; then he penned it as a three-act play, followed by a two-act play, and eventually the one-act play. He scripted a radio production, staged reading, revival staging, and several screenplays of it. At long last, the nonfiction version reaches you, told by Kirkwood over the years to his friend!

At twelve, Jimmy Kirkwood reported finding a body with a bullet in its head at his Manhattan Beach home; the victim was his mother’s fiancé …and the boy’s close companion. The case was never solved, confounding police, and causing Kirkwood to be haunted by the scene of the crime throughout his creative life. Kirkwood knew who did it.

What really happened to Jimmy Kirkwood as a boy?  Why was he called “The Body Finder”?   In my intimate recollection of one of the most prolific show business personalities of the twentieth century, I finally and reluctantly have written Kirkwood’s story, revealing dozens of conversations and letters about the five deaths that made him the Body Finder.

Jim sent me a teasing confession about the true story:  “I will make everything extremely clear to you when I get my hands around your throat. You will be shot at sunrise, disemboweled on the Boston Common, etc., etc… and I will have a wild gypsy lady I know read your entrails.” So said Jimmy Kirkwood in a letter to Bill Russo.

Now you can read the entire story, including how Jim returned to the scene of the crime endlessly. Now in e-book format on Kindle at Amazon.com, it’s called Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony.

Boston, Bill Russell, the Celtics, and a Statue

Bill Russell’s Hall of Fame friends, like Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy, think this is an honor long overdue in Boston for the intrepid leader of the Boston Celtics in Boston before desegregation, bussing, and the dark underbelly of the Hub was revealed to the world.

A few souls may now want to honor the man on whom President Obama bestowed this year’s Medal of Freedom. The President himself raised the issue, not the Celtics organization, not the Chamber of Commerce, not the Mayor of Boston. As soon as it tweeted through the airwaves, all the major Boston forces were suddenly in favor of it.

Should Bill Russell have a statue sitting beside his mentor and friend, Red Auerbach, at Fanueil Hall?  Would he be better served at the Boston Common, near Paul Revere’s famous galloping monument?  The debate shall now rage, as those taxpayers in Boston and Massachusetts may well join the current Tea Party in opposing any state or municipal money expended in this cause.

Twice in the 1960s my own tie to the legendary Russell occurred. Each convinces me he deserves a monument, but each also makes me think it won’t happen in Boston ever.

Once long-ago, deep in the doldrums of the failures of the Boston Red Sox, I sat in a box seat one afternoon. Not far from me, alone, sat Bill Russell. He was always a fan of sports like baseball. In those days there were few people of color on the Red Sox, and Russell stayed for the entire game. When we were heading out, after a loss, I was behind him, unable to catch up to speak to him. He was in the midst of a quiet crowd, tall and imperious, the only black person it seemed to me at Fenway Park. No one spoke to him, and no one asked for his autograph. The all-white crowd around him was silent too, perhaps depressed by another Red Sox loss. But, Bill Russell seemed especially solitary in his thoughts. I wanted to tell him I was delighted that he came out to support the Red Sox, but I never had the opportunity.

About five years later, I saw Bill Russell driving down Arlington Street in Boston, perhaps heading to Storrow Drive to go over to the old Boston Garden one afternoon. I was driving in the car directly behind him. Once again, I watched as people on the street stopped and looked at him when we came to a red light. Then, the man who had brought so many championships to Boston suffered the indignity of having a hooligan screaming slurs at him from the sidewalk. I was stunned. For the first time in my life I actually saw racism in Boston first-hand.

In later years the incidents were far more serious and far more frequent during the turbulent 1970s.  Now, of course, that is a dim memory, except perhaps for a few old-timers who shall pass soon enough.

Those two memories of Bill Russell have stayed with me for decades. I hope they erect a statue for Bill Russell in Boston before another decade passes.

If You Love Sports…

If you want an intelligent and erudite overview of the most important sports films ever made, you owe it to yourself to check out William Russo’s book Great Sports Stories: The Legendary Films. Providing an overview of stories, conflicts, plots, characters, and actions, the book examines the most significant sports films of the past 100 years. From famous literary athletics to the politically incorrect tales of sports from distant past games to professional leagues today. From movies about roller-ball to films about Olympic figures, the book provides a definitive guide to winners and losers among the best and worst movies about sports….

“…an encyclopedia of sports fictions…”  including a breakdown of heroes and villains, the chapters include movies about baseball, football, boxing, hockey, with a focus on non-traditional sports and women figures in sports film.

For those who prefer the nastier side of sports, the irreverently titled Sex, Drugs, Sports, & Whimsy tackles sports issues and personalities of the 21st century, including stories on A-Rod, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Lance Armstrong, Manny Ramirez, Tony Harding, Tiger Woods, and a host of other headline superstars with ego and agents. With rapier wit and unrelenting parody, the quick barbs of Russo skewer some of the worst foibles and venal practices of the modern sports star. Drawing on Shakespeare, Dickens, Aesop, Longfellow, and Swift, these small essays are not your usual sports page items or tabloid bits, but they are stinging ripostes and, by the way, funny.

Based on his long-standing college course, popular for over thirty years with waiting lists of students, William Russo has compiled some of the best moments he provides his classes. Now available as e-books on Kindle and Nook, the works are still in print, waiting for the bonfire of book burning that Uber-agent Scott Boras so devoutly wishes.

Troubles in a Golden Eye!

When great literature meets a movie, the result is not always pleasing to author, readers, movie fans, or critics. When the cult writer Carson McCullers finally agreed that movie legend John Huston ought to tackle her novella called Reflections in a Golden Eye, she was thrilled. She met with the director, wanted script approval, cast approval, and fell in love with Huston. She died before the film was released, and some think it killed her. When the story hit the screen, no one was happy. 

My long-time writing collaborator, film star, actor, and Renaissance Man, Jan Merlin, jumped aboard with me to do an in-depth examination of movie making in the wild 1960s. As a star of two television series including Rough Riders and Tom Corbett: Space Cadet, Jan also did two dozen movies and had worked with Huston, knew Brando, and had some extraordinary insights to add. We dove in, and the result recently made it to Kindle where fans of stars, grotesque movie making tales, and lovers of disasters can find our book under the title Troubles in a Golden Eye. It also seems an appropriate blog title too, a takeoff of the McCullers book, Reflections in a Golden Eye.

After writing this movie book with Jan Merlin, I realized it was not your typical PR story or one of those fan-styled books. As writers, we know intimately the details of some of the stars and have inside information on the actual filming of this dog of a movie. This does not always sit well with friends of the people involved, which is why this is unauthorized book angered the hangers-on and toadies of the principals. The famous dropped by during the filming process: Truman Capote, Richard Burton, and all the names of old Hollywood. If you love your gossip, there was plenty to be found in this tale.

Some people involved with this film wanted to spill the dirt, and let me tell you the dirt is here by the shovels-full. The usual jealous types can’t say much except try to stop you from learning about egomaniacs like Brando, Taylor, Huston, and the cult writer McCullers. If it makes you want to see the movie again to understand what went wrong in the production, we have done our jobs. As for me, I love the movie and enjoy sharing how it must have felt to be on the set while it was made on Long Island and Rome in 1966. This was a goal with which we succeeded.

Apologies to any whose feelings were hurt during the making of this book. You can now read it on Kindle or Nook as an e-book, which is convenient and easy to read.

Enjoy!

John Wilkes Booth & Lee Harvey Oswald

The two most infamous assassins of American history were closely tied to the stage and screen. Booth obviously was a matinee idol of his era, and Oswald was a child of the first television generation. Each’s boyhood from hell is the subject of the book by William Russo entitled, of course, Booth and Oswald: Education of Assassins. By examining their childhood influences and fantasies, it may be possible to gain a better understanding of what developmental issues led to their adult behaviors. Russo’s book is available on Kindle and Nook now.
Booth fancied himself not only a great Shakespearean actor, but often dressed up as a woman and liked to hear compliments for his comportment. Oswald enjoyed going to cross-dresser bars when he was stationed with the Marines in Japan. And, his favorite television program while growing up was I Led Three Lives, about a spy.
There are merely a few of the bizarre details that can be found in the e-book called Booth and Oswald, available on amazon.com.  The similarities of the two assassins is debunked, but the hundred similarities about their school years remain shocking.

You may contact the author on Facebook page entitled Long Time Ago Books & Movies.

The Social Network: A Long Time Ago Movie

Every major critic compared David Fincher’s The Social Network to Orson Welles and his Citizen Kane, but the fact is the film is much more like the work of Joseph L. Mankiewicz and his all-time great called All About Eve. A word to Fincher would remind him that Citizen Kane won nothing much from the Oscar people, whereas All About Eve swept every category.

Mark Zuckerberg is no Charles Foster Kane. He could be Eve Harrington, or more likely he could be Margo Channing. Yes, we are in for a bumpy ride when David Fincher uses pedestrian directing style to tell his story, unlike Orson’s attempt to use every device he found in the studio candy shop. Mankiewicz always preferred sharp acting and stiletto words as his weapons of choice.

Mankiewicz said in his later years that he retired from film making because movie characters couldn’t string together two simple sentences. If he had been able to rise from his grave, he’d have jumped out to direct The Social Network, a film that showcases more witty dialogue than Maddie and David ever had on Moonlighting.

Zuckerberg does his best to alienate friends along the way to making 500,000,000 invasions of privacy, much like Kane who lost his closest Ivy League brethren to a world of mixed up values and sham Hearst News. On the other hand, Margo kept her intense circle of hangers-on close to her vest.

Told in the complex flashback style so favored by Mankiewicz, Fincher’s tale also parallels flashbacks of Citizen Kane, slowly spinning the web in which the main character is finally netted.

Mark Zuckerberg, like Charles Foster Kane and Eve Harrington, ultimately becomes his own worst enemy, bereft in a world where fake friends cannot be discerned from real ones.

At the end of All About Eve, the scheming villain of the piece wins the award she has always coveted, and Margo tells her to put the award where her heart ought to be, whereas in Citizen Kane, poor old Kane dies alone in his San Simeon-style bed with only a snow globe to hold onto. What end best suits Mark Zuckerberg? According to David Fincher, he has only his silicone wish list, pushing the right button to ask permission to find a friend.

Read William Russo’s book on Joseph L. Mankiewicz, entitled A Thinker’s Damn: Audie Murphy, Vietnam, and the Making of The Quiet American.