Feud: Ryan Murphy & Olivia DeHavilland

DATELINE: Creepy Producer

 

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The spry legend, Miss Olivia DeHavilland whose Oscars outnumber anything Ryan Murphy will ever compile, has fired another volley at miniseries Feud: Joan & Bette, created by Mr. Murphy.

Right before the series is about to reap Emmy glory for its hilarious and entertaining depiction of two movie stars in a death throe struggle like scorpions, more turns of the screw emerge.

Miss DeHavilland’s character, ‘herself’ it appears, is a mere supporting figure. Yet, she does not like how she is portrayed. In a deposition through her lawyers, she tells the world she never called her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, ‘a bitch’ to any director or producer.

That may mean she used to term privately among friends, or even to hapless Joan Fontaine’s face, but her point is the script and series misrepresented her behavior. She said: “The false statements and unauthorized use of my name, identity and image by the creators of Feud have caused me discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment, and distress.”

Yes, being violated is like that, no matter what your age.

Murphy’s glad-hand attitude demeans Miss DeHavilland by calling her “Olivia,” despite her age, her position, and the fact that he never has met her, let alone sought her permission to use her as a figure in a docudrama.

In blatant admission, Murphy’s mouthpieces claim: “The fact that the words attributed to her and the purported endorsement are false does not transform the character into anything other than an exact depiction of de Havilland.”  Hunh?

That’s quite an admission: they know they have misused her by having her say words she never uttered, but it’s all for the profit of Ryan Murphy—and to give us viewers a few guffaws.

We wish to point out that Miss DeHavilland is a real human being, not an emblematic symbol like the White Whale, appearing in a work of fiction.

Murphy is betting that the 101-year old Oscar winner may pop off at any time—thus giving him the last word, which he will have anyhow as time will likely bestow on him the honor to be standing at the end of all this mess.

In all likelihood, the arrogant TV producer probably thought DeHavilland was already dead—and it didn’t matter how he used her identity.

What the old legend is showing here is that identity theft can occur in many ways:  when you profit from stealing someone’s personality, you’re a thief, Mr. Murphy. But, as Hollywood producers go, that is no crime at all.

 

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Required Reading of Darryl Stephens

DATELINE:  Actor Transcending

 Darryl Actor & Author Darryl Stephens

As stars go, Darryl Stephens has been on low-profile phase for a decade. With cult movies and a cult TV show, he has become a face, an attitude, and a symbol of the modern gay actor.

Now, after years of hearing fans of his 2006 show, Noah’s Arc, ask him for advice about how to live in America in the 21st century as a gay man, he has actually come up with the book to tell us:  Required Reading: How to Get Your Life for Good.

Stephens is educated, intelligent, and writes well. It is to his credit that he has been deeply moved by dedicated fans to his black sitcom, once trivialized, then discovered by those in deep need of optimism and standardization of lifestyle.

Never an A-list star, Darryl has nonetheless selected his roles judiciously enough to be recalled by the producers of Boy Culture: The TV Series, about to start filming with the original star ten years later.

The first half of his book gingerly feeds us details of growing up as a middle-class kid with a growing awareness that he is a stunningly beautiful black young man. From the angst of learning his gay soul, he shares his insights and wisdom like a male Dear Abby.

Darryl has taken on the difficult responsibility to subsequent generations of gay men with worries that seem new, but are old-hat if they can find a role model to explain. Because of this, he does not really delve into the film work and world of acting in Hollywood until the second half of the book.

He omits much about Boy Culture, except to express his pride back in 2015 when the book first appeared.

Darryl Stephens was a pretty face and attractive body, always a passport in Hollywood, but the onset of middle years is a true test of character acting. Once the toast of gay beauty, he deals frankly with the difficult life of an actor in eclipse, losing youth and money too.

We want Darryl to be happy and to succeed, unlike so many critics who bashed him along the way. We have joined in the backing of the new series with his reprise of the key character in Boy Culture.

We know the world is ready to recognize Darryl Stephens.

 

When You Admit Ghosts Haunt Your Home

DATELINE:  Not Exactly Living Here

I don’t see dead people.  But, my home is indeed haunted, and I hear them moving about all the time.

Friends begged me not to reveal to the public that I live in a house with four ghosts (or technically three ghosts and one spirit).

They told me repeatedly that a tell-all book about paranormal will open me up to ridicule and charges of being more than just another eccentric author.

They claimed it would damage my “serious” nonfiction about Hollywood history and biographies (now will be considered another form of channeling).

Since publishing my true story about learning how the spirit world has fingered me, I hear repeatedly the chorus: “Have you had a stroke?”  or “Are you off your meds?”

Some accuse me of demeaning the victims of the Titanic for suggesting that, just because my ghosts used to own my neighborhood (literally, the whole street), as they were rich.

Yet, I have become protective of my friendly ghosts: they include the former housekeeper of the White family for 50 years, named Addie; a 55 year-old well-to-do-businessman, likely another Titanic victim; a young man who was apparently murdered in the neighborhood some time ago; and my main contact, Richard, who went down on the Titanic when he was 21-years old, on a vacation trip after graduating from Bowdoin.

Why me?

As a retired college professor (literally true), I try to tell the reasons in the book, but it may become lost in the sensations of revealing too much. However, I will continue to resist the numerous requests from those who want to visit me to see ghosts.

No, my home will not be an open house on Halloween, and I do not try to contact Houdini by séance regularly.

William Russo is the author of Ghosts of Mill Circle, now available on Amazon in both ebook and paper format. He also wrote Tales of a Titanic Family, Audie Murphy in Vietnam, and numerous other nonfiction biographies.

Patriots’ Most Off Off-season Ever!

off off-season

New Book!

It is a hilarious romp that could make a highlight reel of its own!

From a championship ride through the streets of Boston before 1 million fans – to winning the ESPY award, you can follow every strange moment in Patriots history of 2017!

If you want to see what your New England Patriots have been on up to since the Super Bowl victory in January, and before they have begun the new campaign of 2017, you need to look at the new book that details every ridiculous adventure, scandal, and outrageous behavior, of the winning team.

From the twisted blogs of Ossurworld who was there for every minute!

now available on Amazon for smart readers and their tablets.

Nikola Tesla: More than Meets the Eye

DATELINE:  Under Appreciated Genius

Tesla & sparks

PBS produced a documentary on the mysterious genius born in 1856 whose inventions seem to include Star Wars Defense Initiative and particle beam death rays.

Its title is Tesla: Master of Lightning, and he used electrical currents to win a war with Edison, light up a World’s Fair, and made himself glow in the dark.

We may never know the whole story as Tesla’s notebooks disappeared when he died in 1943. Were they stolen by Nazi spies? Russians? The FBI?

A recent little book by Ralph T. O’Neal III came to our attention in which Tesla’s stolen secrets are the McGuffin of an extra-governmental conspiracy in something called Shadow War: MJ-12 Versus the Vatican.

MJ12kindlecover

The final segment of the PBS film seems to hint at futuristic, Jules Verne technology created by Nikola Tesla.

The man came out of nowhere, Croatia in 1884, and immediately became enemies with Thomas Edison, J. Pierpoint Morgan, and Guillermo Marconi. That’s quite a climb to infamy when a poor immigrant hobnobs with the greats of the 19th century a few years after arriving in New York.

Trump would not have let Tesla into the country if he tried to enter today.

The documentary and the life of Tesla almost seems like science fiction—but it is tragedy and enigma wrapped in a bit of showmanship by the great inventor.

Most today know the name Tesla as a progressive car. He was much more than that, and you may owe it to yourself to learn about a man who eschewed fortune and lost his fame.

Johnny Cash: Up Close with His Manager

DATELINE:  Country Star Revealed

man in black  Director Holiff with Johnny Cash

In the first ten minutes of this documentary, with its realistic reenactments, you might think you are watching some outrageous fiction. But, it’s all true. You are about to enter the world of My Father and The Man in Black.

Saul Holiff was Johnny’s manager for nearly 15 years, through some of the worst moments of his addictions, black-outs, and temperamental snits.

Holiff alienated many people with his brash character, but he loved being in show biz, even on the outskirts. His business ties to Cash, like all personal management ties, were tenuous—and inevitably broke.

Yet, his son Jonathan never knew his father. He left home as soon as he could at age 18—and they almost never spoke. When his father committed suicide in 2005, he left no note.

But Jonathan’s mother said he left something else: boxes of audio diaries of his relationships with Cash and his sons. And herein lies a tale both shocking and fascinating.

Writing, directing, and producing this “tribute” to his misunderstood father seems an extraordinary feat by Holiff.

Even as a child, he often thought Cash was his father because every sentence spoken in front of him always contained father and Johnny Cash. They were inseparable. Saul introduced June to Johnny.

Cash wanted to overcome his drug-addled past and prison persona for being born-again. He became as addicted to Jesus as he was to pills.  He even made a religious film in the Holy Land, but it was cruel to ask his long-time manager, Jewish atheist Saul to play Caiaphas in one scene.

The break between them was not long after.

Using careful crafted re-enactments and voice imitators to read Johnny’s letters to Saul, this documentary seems to have melted into oblivion when it demands to be seen. Don’t miss it.

History Channel Loses It Again with Amelia Earhart

DATELINE:  Much Interesting Evidence Remains

boyish Earhart

The hue and cry has begun that the History Channel’s latest documentary is a fraud. Alas, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence has much to recommend it—and one glaring issue.

A linchpin photo, said to be of Earhart and Fred Noonan, captured by the Japanese, may be of the two pilots in an earlier time, according to researchers. Not fake, but misleading.

History Channel is vacillating, of course.

They have produced another of those series in the Bob Baer mode, with Shawn Henry, a flak from the FBI who jumps to conclusions faster than you can say “Russian connection.”

Among the best features of the one-episode documentary are the collection of film clips of Earhart, charming and charismatic. Even 80 years after her death, you can see why she remains fascinating. And, we are spared an endless series of investigations over hours.

Yet, the investigation is quick to blame conspiracy, rather than negligence and incompetence of the United States forces. She sent the number 281 as a radio message, which the US search teams presumed meant miles, not latitudes.

Interviews with witnesses, including one 90-year old woman who clarifies the mistaken story of decades that she saw Earhart executed, set the record straight.

However in shows like this, one incorrect fact can doom the quality. And, strange details, like missing bones once thought to be hers, add to the mystery.

Shawn Henry, host and investigator, is quick to jump on the most sensational conclusion when the moderate one strengthens his case.

Should you skip it as another unreliable History Channel dubious documentary? Certainly not. We hung on its intriguing evidence.

Movie Gold = Blue Gold

DATELINE: Blue Denim without Brandon De Wilde

 blue gold

Though we expected this documentary to be frivolous, it turned out to be entertaining and smart.

Blue Gold: American Jeans tells the story of how the fashion-plate pants of the Old West have become a big business and an art form. Yes, you will regret having tossed out those moth-eaten old pair of blue jeans. They are worth thousands of dollars today.

Oh, the film traces the historical process of how jeans are made with indigo dye and rivets by Levi Strauss, or Lee, or Wrangler. You will surely learn how the business of fashionable jeans in America has gone to the Far East.

This little film compiles everything you want to know about blue jeans—from Calvins to Brooke Shields with nothing next to her. Every morsel of trivia about blue jeans is here. And, you can’t be much closer to a subject than how it fits and shapes your scrotum and ass.

Authentic blue jeans are indeed valuable, especially in Japan nowadays. Collectors travel the Midwest and Nevada to find old trunks with old trunks. You will not find many documentaries that will combine Bob Dylan, Bruce Lee, with Iggy Pop and James Dean.

It struck us that those looking for authentic jeans, worn by real workers years ago, are actually big phonies. They never worked for their jeans, but they paid thousands of dollars for the privilege of looking like blue collar types in their pantaloons.

With a main host who looks a great deal like John Goodman on a lark, the film will not make your butt look fat.

Directed with holes in the right places by Christian D. Bruun, the film is sheer delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unusual True Ghost Story Revealed

DATELINE:  New Book about Spirit from Titanic Disaster?

mystery kindle coverIn his new book Mysterious Mill Circle, almost as an addendum, Dr. William Russo has finally told part of the true story about the strange activities at the former estate of two victims of the Titanic disaster.

In the final chapter of the new book comes the revelation about a possessed doll and its strange connection to the Titanic.

For years the story has circulated privately and quietly among local residents of the sleepy New England town where two victims of the Titanic were born and raised. Only one is buried nearby when his body was recovered. The other was never found in the North Atlantic.

Is the spirit or ghost taking hold of a doll version of Edvard Munch’s “The Silent Scream”? According to the author, the inflatable doll deflates and inflates on its own. But, that is only part of the mystery.

scream up close  “Silent Scream”

Previously Dr. Russo told the story of the victims in his nonfiction biography entitled Tales of a Titanic Family, but that historical work did not explain some of the paranormal activities associated with the neighborhood where the victims formerly lived.

The book also contains several tales of grotesque and odd wildlife on Mill Circle.

Now on Amazon in both paperback and e-book versions (strictly for smart readers).

 

 

 

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Sherlock Meets Hornblower

DATELINE: Amazing Grace: The True Story

Sherlock meets Hornblower

Director Michael Apted put together a film called Amazing Grace in 2008 in which Sherlock Holmes would meet Horatio Hornblower. Well, not exactly, but Benedict Cumberbatch costarred with Ioan Gruffudd in the true story of young Wilberforce and young Pitt, British abolitionists.

 

The film was never embraced by the African American audience because it is plainly Masterpiece Theatre level Brit drama. It depicts the 20 year struggle of these English Members of Parliament to ban the slave trade in the British Empire around 1800.

Gloriously cast with actors with great faces, you can add Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Michael Gambon, Albert Finney, and Rufus Sewell, into the mix. You have a masterpiece of English actors.

Though not exactly action packed, it creates moments of powerful emotion as these intellectuals, Wilberforce and Pitt, boyhood chums, take on the powerful economic force that enslaved people.

It is well produced, has the flair of the era and aristocratic settings to tell the tale.

When the story of the timeless spiritual, “Amazing Grace,” is a secondary subplot, you have intriguing history alive. Albert Finney plays Gruffuld’s boyhood pastor, a former slave ship captain who wrote the song. Indeed, in one compelling scene, Cumberbatch presents Gruffud’s impressive rendition of the tune.

The film fell through the cracks initially because it did not go through television as its main channel. If one of the cable stations had picked it up, it would have become a biopic miniseries about ten hours long.

Instead, we have a throwback to the great historical movies that came out of England in the 1960s.

Return to O.J. Unnecessary

DATELINE:  Guilty Even If Found Not Guilty

Rick Investigator Rick Levasseur

Before there was Aaron Hernandez shooting up the serial killer sports figure, there was O.J. Simpson who slaughtered his way into fame after doing light comedy in movies and heavy sports in youth.

Now O.J. is back with several examinations of his alleged crimes. One is enough for us. The 6-part miniseries documentary/crime expose is called Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence.  Yes, some people think the jury was right.

During the course of an overwrought investigation, it became clear no one wanted to re-open this case. We were astounded that Nicole Simpson’s sister and Ron Goldman’s father stood for additional tormenting interviews. Were they paid for their time?

It was rumored way back at the time of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman that the real killer was O.J.’s son. Yes, the story was a kind of Mildred Pierce in which the parent is willing to take the blame for the crimes of their child.

As hard as it is to picture O.J. Simpson as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest mode, he seems tailor-made to save his troubled son, or more likely to throw him away. On the other hand, theorist William Dean was hell-bent on finding the “true” culprit whom he labeled Jason Simpson, O.J.’s son.

With glossy production values, the miniseries documentary features Martin Sheen as narrator. Chief honcho William Dean selects two matinee idol types, right out of central casting as forensic psychologist (Kris Mohandie) and former police sergeant (Rick Levasseur) as his leg men. They couldn’t be cuter if you cast real actors.

Bill Dean has been enterprising for years: he took possession of Jason Simpson’s diaries and hunting knife out of a storage locker. It sparked his manhunt attitude like something out of Hugo’s Les Miserables.  He is a dogged Javert.

Showing up to provide insights include Dr. Henry Lee and Detective Tom Lange from the original case. They give both sides of inept police work. No one from the prosecutor’s office would bother with this investigation.

The two boy-toy crime busters try to reach reclusive Jason Simpson, and he is stalked by private detectives hired for the series, showing only a rather sad, downtrodden, and unhappy man, but is he a murderer?

Ultimately Jason Simpson’s time-card from his job at the time of the murder would prove to be the investigation’s high-point. Yet, we ended up nearly as disgusted by the rehash as all the surviving original people.

Was any of this necessary?

 

Ancient Aliens Meets Curse of Oak Island

DATELINE: Cross-Pollination of History

We are always delighted when reality shows cross paths.

Take for instance Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. We were surprised to find the basic opening of Oak Island hijacked for the Ancient Alien episode about King Tut.

Apparently the curse of King Tut and the curse of Oak Island may be tied together by space aliens. This makes a grand opportunity to take the opening credits for Oak Island and weave them into the show on ancient alien theories.

This gives the Lagina Brothers of Oak Island a chance to do a guest starring role on another History channel show. Voilà, you have free publicity to transcend both series.

Mainly it appears that each curse, from Tut to Oak Island, has claimed seven lives. That’s the opening the Lagina reality show, which says a seventh person must die. Young King Tut has already gotten his seven.

According to Ancient Alien theorists, buried treasures have been cursed by aliens with technological incantations that send voice-activated electrocution bolts to interlopers. Whew. Who knew?

Ancient Astronaut theorists believe the Ark of the Covenant is hidden at Oak island. This ties into the stone tablets discovered in Tut’s tomb somehow.  How? Well, King Tut’s uncle, Thutmose was actually Moses, and he took the Ark out of Egypt. This theory came first from Sigmund Freud!!

The Ark contained an alien device of immense power. When it was discovered by the Knights Templar, they brought it to Oak Island.

Are you still there?

This explains the mystery stone discovered in the shaft of Oak Island as having properties of Ancient Egyptian curse tablets. This means the Ark with its extraterrestrial powers is buried on Oak Island.

We expect further pollination of shows when the tomb of Laura Palmer is discovered at Twin Peaks, proving she is a goddess of ancient Egypt.

Oh, you disbeliever. Curses, foiled again.

Little Boy Lost in Lion

DATELINE:  Real Life Spiritual Journey

 Kidman and Sunny

Kidman with adorable Sunny Pawar

This international production called Lion may tap into the wide audience of movie fans in Australia and India with a true story that is reminiscent of classics like The Search with Monty Clift.

This time the lost boy, separated from his desperate and loving mother, is five years old and lost in a mass of humanity from New Delhi to Calcutta. After some brutal travails that are reminiscent of 19th century Dickens, he is adopted by acouplefrom Tasmania.

However, happy ever after is not in the script.

This also marks an interesting first for Nicole Kidman who adopts the little boy (Sunny Pawar)—and before she knows it, he is 25 and she is playing her first matron.

It happened to Mary Astor and Bette Davis with grace, and just a few short years after playing some of her most sensual roles, Kidman is into motherhood. There may be no looking back. She is, above all else, an excellent actress.

The trauma of the young boy seems to come back to haunt him as an adult. You can thank Google Earth for allowing him to conduct an armchair search of his geographical roots.

Because the story is all true, Saroo is a compelling figure both as a child and as Dev Patel in adulthood when his torment about his lost family becomes something that allows him to take charge of destiny.

The actual footage of in the post-script of the movie shows that Kidman’s role is not far afield of the adopting mother in the story. It will surely tug at your feelings as the young Indian’s spiritual journey is truly difficult emotionally.

When it comes to true stories, you can’t go wrong here. Since there are no lions in the story, you have to stick around for the closing to learn the reasoning behind the film title.

Long Forgotten Executive Action

DATELINE:  Believe It or Don’t

 action

One of the most unusual of the early theoretical movies on the Kennedy Assassination was called Executive Action from 1973, a mere ten years after the event.

Already big questions had sparked big movie stars like Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Will Geer, as well as John Anderson (often chosen to play Abe Lincoln in movies and TV) as billionaire conspirators who want the President dead.

They select a patsy who is some kind of covert double agent. His name is Oswald.

Though the film claims to be somewhat fictional, it quotes Lydon Johnson at the movie start as saying he believed that John Kennedy was killed by an unknown group. This movie, made with the participation of early assassination doubter Mark Lane, is fairly courageous and breath-taking, even after five decades.

We must also express surprise at the stars who chose to play the men who want President Kennedy dead.

The film is no cheap, low-budget affair. It is well produced and directed by David Miller who made some interesting movies in the 1950s and was written by Dalton Trumbo, the famous blacklisted writer.

This returned Grandpa Walton to the bad guy roles that made him famous early in his roles, and Will Geer is notably sinister. This was also Robert Ryan’s final film.

The angles, once thought to be outrageous, have become more acceptable in recent research. The film may not be a genuine biopic or docudrama in the sense of trying to achieve 100% truth, but this may be closer than anyone thought back in the 1970s.

More than a curio, this film is downright compelling to watch.

DNA in Unlikely Places, like Burial Shroud of Jesus

DATELINE:   Scoffers, Begone!

Jesus dna      Shroud of Turin image

Leave it to the History Channel to come up with a quest with two millennial kids who look like they have been given a banana split at the local ice cream parlor. Nonetheless, The Jesus Strand: A Search for DNA is fascinating.

In all fairness, the researchers are George Busby who is a geneticist from Oxford, and his partner is Pastor Joe Basile, with credentials in Bible Studies. They are young and exuberant.

Together they decide with the upgrade in DNA research to see if there is a strand that identifies Jesus of Nazareth and his bloodline. So, before you can hop and skip over 2000 years, they are finding the DNA results from the Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain, both purported to be two cloths mentioned in the New Testament.

The jet-setting research is intriguing, and our boyish scientists only betray their preconceived notions when they reject testing bones from a Jewish ossuary that could be confirmation, or denial of a connection.

Some archeological research is new as well, like the bones found ten years ago that are 2000 years old, testing from the 1st century and called the bones of John the Baptist.

They even look at nails, less likely to maintain DNA and a dead end.

Their startling results show how much can still be learned. The blood, on the two cloths, is from the same man who died in crucifixion. With rare AB bloodtype, most prevalent in Middle Eastern people, the man thought to be Jesus shows a connection to the Druze religious sect that has kept its purity for a thousand years.

Someone in his family intermarried with Druze people, likely his mother’s side. The descendants come down from the unnamed sisters of Jesus in the gospels.

Non-believers may scoff, but still find the result not inconsistent with identifying the man of the shroud. Believers may be more inclined to reject the findings that go against their dogma.

All in all, it is a whirlwind of discovery that makes for what passes for revelations in our cynical age.