Monthly Archives: September 2008

Paul Newman (1925-2008) — RIP

Legendary actor Paul Newman dies at age 83
Saturday September 27 9:16 AM ET

Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning superstar who personified cool as an activist, race car driver, popcorn impresario and the anti-hero of such films as “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Color of Money,” has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, publicist Jeff Sanderson said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.

In May, Newman he had dropped plans to direct a fall production of “Of Mice and Men,” citing unspecified health issues.

He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world’s most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including “Exodus,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Verdict,” “The Sting” and “Absence of Malice.”

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in “Butch Cassidy” and “The Sting.”

He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood’s rare long-term marriages. “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray.

They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in “The Long Hot Summer,” and Newman directed her in several films, including “Rachel, Rachel” and “The Glass Menagerie”

With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. “I was always a character actor,” he once said. “I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.”

Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” one of the actor’s proudest achievements, he liked to say.

A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for “The Color of Money,” a reprise of the role of pool shark “Fast” Eddie Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film “The Hustler.”

Newman delivered a magnetic performance in “The Hustler,” playing a smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats played by Jackie Gleason and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel directed by Scorsese “Fast Eddie” is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but rather an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback.

He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 “in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft.” In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.

His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film “Road to Perdition.” One of Newman’s nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.)

As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama “Empire Falls” and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 car in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, “Cars.”

But in May 2007, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he had given up acting, though he intended to remain active in charity projects. “I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to,” he said. “You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

He received his first Oscar nomination for playing a bitter, alcoholic former star athlete in the 1958 film “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Elizabeth Taylor played his unhappy wife and Burl Ives his wealthy, domineering father in Tennessee Williams’ harrowing drama, which was given an upbeat ending for the screen.

In “Cool Hand Luke,” he was nominated for his gritty role as a rebellious inmate in a brutal Southern prison. The movie was one of the biggest hits of 1967 and included a tagline, delivered one time by Newman and one time by prison warden Strother Martin, that helped define the generation gap, “What we’ve got here is (a) failure to communicate.”

Newman’s hair was graying, but he was as gourgeous as ever and on the verge of his greatest popular success. In 1969, Newman teamed with Redford for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” a comic Western about two outlaws running out of time. Newman paired with Redford again in 1973 in “The Sting,” a comedy about two Depression-era con men. Both were multiple Oscar winners and huge hits, irreverent, unforgettable pairings of two of the best-looking actors of their time.

Newman also turned to producing and directing. In 1968, he directed “Rachel, Rachel,” a film about a lonely spinster’s rebirth. The movie received four Oscar nominations, including Newman, for producer of a best motion picture, and Woodward, for best actress. The film earned Newman the best director award from the New York Film Critics.

In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the 1972 film, “Winning.” After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.

“Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood,” he told People magazine in 1979.

Despite his love of race cars, Newman continued to make movies and continued to pile up Oscar nominations, his looks remarkably intact, his acting becoming more subtle, nothing like the mannered method performances of his early years, when he was sometimes dismissed as a Brando imitator. “It takes a long time for an actor to develop the assurance that the trim, silver-haired Paul Newman has acquired,” Pauline Kael wrote of him in the early 1980s.

In 1982, he got his Oscar fifth nomination for his portrayal of an honest businessman persecuted by an irresponsible reporter in “Absence of Malice.” The following year, he got his sixth for playing a down-and-out alcoholic attorney in “The Verdict.”

In 1995, he was nominated for his slyest, most understated work yet, the town curmudgeon and deadbeat in “Nobody’s Fool.” New York Times critic Caryn James found his acting “without cheap sentiment and self-pity,” and observed, “It says everything about Mr. Newman’s performance, the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given, that you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way.”

Newman, who shunned Hollywood life, was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive, according to one friend.

He also claimed that he never read reviews of his movies.

“If they’re good you get a fat head and if they’re bad you’re depressed for three weeks,” he said.

Off the screen, Newman had a taste for beer and was known for his practical jokes. He once had a Porsche installed in Redford’s hallway crushed and covered with ribbons.

“I think that my sense of humor is the only thing that keeps me sane,” he told Newsweek magazine in a 1994 interview.

In 1982, Newman and his Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner, started a company to market Newman’s original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman’s Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company’s profits are donated to charities. By 2007, the company had donated more than $175 million, according to its Web site.

In 1988, Newman founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. He went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe.

He and Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor “Nell,” Melissa and Clea.

Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte.

Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son’s death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children.

Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the second of two boys of Arthur S. Newman, a partner in a sporting goods store, and Theresa Fetzer Newman.

He was raised in the affluent suburb of Shaker Heights, where he was encouraged him to pursue his interest in the arts by his mother and his uncle Joseph Newman, a well-known Ohio poet and journalist.

Following World War II service in the Navy, he enrolled at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he got a degree in English and was active in student productions.

He later studied at Yale University’s School of Drama, then headed to New York to work in theater and television, his classmates at the famed Actor’s Studio including Brando, James Dean and Karl Malden. His breakthrough was enabled by tragedy: Dean, scheduled to star as the disfigured boxer in a television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Battler,” died in a car crash in 1955. His role was taken by Newman, then a little-known performer.

Newman started in movies the year before, in “The Silver Chalice,” a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless Ben Quick in “The Long Hot Summer.”

In December 1994, about a month before his 70th birthday, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age.

“I’m not mellower, I’m not less angry, I’m not less self-critical, I’m not less tenacious,” he said. “Maybe the best part is that your liver can’t handle those beers at noon anymore,” he said.

Newman is survived by his wife, five children, two grandsons and his older brother Arthur.

___

On the Net:

http://www. newmansown. com/

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Hmm… Someone’s Been Reading morningcupofcoffee.com!

Just remember who said it first before SNL did it.

Truly,

–Ryan

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The New Most Annoying Song In The World

As I was driving with my friend down Las Vegas Blvd, a song came on a certain station. I won’t say which one, but suffice it to say it falls somewhere between 97.4 and 97.6 FM.

Now, it is largely regarded (at least by Dave Barry fans) that Donna Summer’s version of “MacArthur Park” is the most annoying song in the world. But when I heard this song, it made me think… god DAMN this song sucks. I’m not picking on it because it’s rap; there’s a lot of rap out there that I like.

I’m picking on it for lyrics like (and I swear I’m not making this up) the ones found in Lil’ Wayne’s “Mrs. Officer”:

Doin a buck in the latest drop
I got stopped by a lady cop
Ha Ha… she got me thinking I can date a cop
Ha Ha… cause her uniform pants are so tight
She read me my rights
She put me in nah car, she cut off all the lights
She said I had the right to remain silent
Now I got her hollering sounding like a siren

I wish I was joking. But the song, whose chorus largely consists of “Wee Ooh Wee Ooh Wee,
(Like a cop car)
” is not only the new theme song for misogyny, but is just freakin’ DUMB. I also submit into evidence:

I make her wear nothing but handcuffs & heels
And I beat it like a cop
Rodney King baby yeah I beat it like a cop

Remember when cop-killing was the controversial thing in rap?

I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again.

Oh no.

–Ryan

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September 11th

I suspended the political portion of the blog today to both participate and take in how our country remembers the attacks of 9/11.  I remember in the days after how people in our country seemed to pause, take a breath and act compassionately toward one another.  I remember the friendlyness of strangers.  There was a very tanglible sense of community.  We always have the “USA-USA-USA” chant style of “we’re American”, but in those days it was different and better.  Hands down better.  The rhetoric of policy, partisanship of politics and polarization from issues ranging from abortion to gay marriage seemed nonexistent for a time.  Not that those issues don’t matter, but in those special all-to-fleeting days the unity seemed to give us the space to tolerate our differences…

I think that atmosphere, if it still existed, would have allowed us to come to some agreements on policy or at least allowed us to try to come to some accord.  Had we failed in our goal we would have been able to hold our collective heads high while walking away from the table without questioning each others love of America and patriotism, but with respect for one another and the understanding that our political adversary is also our national kin.

It’s unfortunate that our paths have led us to a place of contention and polarization.  I hope one day we can once again feel the “we are family” feeling in a tangible way, sans a national tragedy as a catalyst.

Cheers,

Tom

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Dear Leader may be dearly departing?

Maybe, maybe not, but according to US Intelligence, K-to the-J-to the-Izzle may have suffered a stroke. Questions have been raised over the 66-year-old bat-shit-crazy North Korean dictator’s health, but while rumors circulate, anonymous sources show no signs of regime change. His failure to appear at a military processional celebrating N. Korea’s 60th birthday, and last month’s alleged collapse, as reported by a South Korean magazine, show signs that maybe he’s not in perfect condition as he would like people to believe.

You know how that would make me feel if Kim Jong Il died?

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Savagely Stolen News: Just Click the Link

I’m not even going to post the full story. I’m going to let the absurdity of it all simmer and sink in to your heads until you’re compelled to click it and find out more.

North Carolina teenager drops out of high school to become professional Guitar Hero player.

Maybe there’s hope for me to still become a professional Princess Saver.

–Ryan

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Savagely Stolen News: You’re Fat? Pay up!

State to hit obese workers with ‘fat fee’

Alabama state employees who don’t try to lose weight will have to pay part of their health insurance premiums. It may sound heavy-handed, but the workers’ lobbying group is not complaining.

By The Associated Press

The state of Alabama has given its 37,527 employees until 2010 to start getting fit — or they’ll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free.

Alabama will be the first state to charge its overweight workers who don’t try to slim down, while a handful of other states reward employees who adopt healthful behaviors.

Alabama already charges workers who smoke — and has seen some success in getting them to quit — but now has turned its attention to a problem that plagues many people in the Deep South: obesity.

The State Employees’ Insurance Board earlier this month approved a plan to charge state workers starting in January 2010 if they don’t get free health screenings.

If the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program or take steps on their own to improve their health. If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won’t be charged. But if they don’t, they must pay starting in January 2011.

“We are trying to get individuals to become more aware of their health,” said state worker Robert Wagstaff, who serves on the insurance board.

Not all state employees see it that way.

“It’s terrible,” said health department employee Chequla Motley. “Some people come into this world big.”

Computer technician Tim Colley already pays $24 a month for being a smoker and doesn’t like the idea of another charge.

“It’s too Big Brotherish,” he said.

The board will apply the obesity charge to anyone with a body mass index of 35 or higher who is not making progress. A person 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing 220 pounds, for example, would have a BMI of 35.5. A BMI of 30 is considered the threshold for obesity.

 

The board has not yet determined how much progress a person would have to show and is uncertain how many people might be affected, because everyone could avoid the charge by working to lose weight.

But that’s unlikely. Government statistics show Alabamans have a big weight problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3% are now obese, ranking the state behind only Mississippi.

E.K. Daufin of Montgomery, a college professor and founder of Love Your Body, Love Yourself, which holds body acceptance workshops, said the new policy will be stressful for people like her.

 

“I’m big and beautiful and doing my best to keep my stress levels down so I can stay healthy,” Daufin said. “That’s big, not lazy, not a glutton and certainly not deserving of the pompous, poisonous disrespect served up daily to those of us with more bounce to the ounce.”

A recent study suggested that about half of overweight people and nearly a third of obese people have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while about a quarter of people considered to be of normal weight suffer from the ills associated with obesity.

No intent to punish

Walter Lindstrom, founder of the Obesity Law and Advocacy Center in California, is concerned that all overweight Alabama employees will get is advice to walk more and to broil their chicken.

 

“The state will feel good about itself for offering something, and the person of size will end up paying $300 a year for the bad luck of having a chronic disease his/her state-sponsored insurance program failed to cover in an appropriate and meaningful fashion,” he said.

William Ashmore, executive director of the State Employees’ Insurance Board, said the state will spend an extra $1.6 million next year on screenings and wellness programs but should see significant long-term savings.

Ashmore said research shows someone with a body mass index of 35 to 39 generates $1,748 more in annual medical expenses than someone with a BMI of less than 25, which is considered normal.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a few states offer one-time financial incentives for people pursuing healthy lifestyles. Ohio workers, for instance, get $50 for having health assessments and another $50 for following through with the advice.

Arkansas and Missouri go a step further, offering monthly discounts on premiums for employees who take health risk assessments and participate in wellness programs to reduce obesity, stress and other health problems.

Alabama’s new policy is drawing no objection from the lobbying group representing state workers.

Mac McArthur, the executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association, said the plan is not designed to punish employees.

“It’s a positive,” he said.

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