TidBits: The Dark Tower series, a passing, and Mr. Robot
by Doc on Aug.04, 2017, under Obituaries, Television
A few quick tidbits…
The first TV series as part of he multimedia mega-production based on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series has officially named its showrunner as former The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara. We also understand that Idris Elba, who plays The Gunslinger in the feature film that opened today, will also be involved at some level.
The series takes place many years previous to the film and tells the origin story of Roland Deschain – a.k.a. the Gunslinger. It takes mostly from the fourth book, [asin=1501161830]Wizard and Glass[/asin], with flashbacks to the first book, [asin=1501161806]The Gunslinger[/asin].
We had a passing…actor Robert Hardy, best known as the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge in several Harry Potter films and Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great And Small, passed away yesterday at the age of 91. His career spanned 70 years, including playing Winston Churchill in 6 separate productions due to the accuracy of his portrayal. I remember seeing him in his first film role, 1958’s Torpedo Run.
Lastly, Mr. Robot‘s return for Season 3 has been announced for October 11th at 10/9c on USA Network, and also that Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man) will join the cast. See the trailer below…
Deborah Watling, played Victoria in early Doctor Who, 1948-2017
by Doc on Jul.22, 2017, under Obituaries, Television
Another passing in the Doctor Who family…actress Deborah Watling, who played Victoria Waterfield at the end of the fourth season and most of the fifth season of Doctor Who as a companion to the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, passed away yesterday at the age of 69.
Watling, remembered for her frequent screaming when confronted with aliens, first appeared in the second episode of “The Evil Of The Daleks”, and through “Fury from the Deep”, the second-to-last serial of the fifth season. Most of her appearances, however, have been lost due to the wiping of tapes at the BBC. Her first appearance is the only part of that serial that currently survives, and only “The Tomb of the Cybermen” and “The Enemy of the World” exist in their entirely today, the latter of which only had one part until 2013 when several episodes were recovered at a Nigerian TV relay station.
Watling reprised the role in the 1993 Children In Need special Doctor Who: Dimensions In Time among many former Doctors and companions, and also appeared in the 50th Anniversary spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
She was also known for roles in the 1958-1959 series The Invisible Man and Take Me High.
RIP Martin Landau and George A. Romero
by Doc on Jul.17, 2017, under Movies, Obituaries, Television
We lost two amazing individuals this weekend.
Oscar winner Martin Landau, who came to prominence among television audiences as the master of disguise Rollin Hand in Mission: Impossible for which he received 3 Emmy nominations and won a Golden Globe, and then followed up with Moonbase Alpha Commander John Koenig on Space: 1999, passed away Saturday at the age of 89 after unexpected complications while hospitalized for a short length of time.
Landau always put all in when playing a role. This helped earn him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Ed Wood for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. I was also impressed by his portrayal of the President after a limited nuclear exchange in By Dawn’s Early Light. But after Space: 1999, roles for himself and then-wife and costar Barbara Bain disappeared, and they both turned to the corny roles of evil rich guy J.J. Pierson and evil scientist Dr. Olga Schmetner in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, the last attempt to revive that franchise. Landau persevered though, until he peaked yet again with his Oscar-winning performance in Ed Wood.
Landau became a member of the Actors Studio in 1955 when he and Steve McQueen were the only two accepted out of 2000 applicants. He learned under Lee Strasberg himself, and later taught acting there. Landau and Bain were married in 1957, and divorced in 1993. They had two daughters, Susan (who works in film and theater production), and actress Juliet.
Legend George A. Romero, the “Father of Zombie films” and “Godfather of the Dead”, passed away on Sunday at the age of 77 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Romero would change the horror film forever with his writing and directorial debut of Night Of The Living Dead. He would follow that with many other shocker monster films, including several more “… Dead” films and Creepshow, and executive produced the 1990 remake of Night Of The Living Dead. His use of black and white film and maximizing low budget productions showed it didn’t take money and gore to make scary. We can thank Romero for helping ignite the flame that has resulted in the current explosion in zombie-related productions.
Romero’s wife Suzanne and daughter Tina were by his side when he died peacefully listening to the soundtrack of The Quiet Man.
Stephen Furst, Babylon 5, Animal House and St. Elsewhere, passed away
by Doc on Jun.17, 2017, under Movies, Obituaries, Television
The denizens of Babylon 5 have lost another member.
Actor Stephen Furst, who became known for the role of Flounder in the movie Animal House and then major TV roles of Dr. Elliot Axelrod on St. Elsewhere and Vir Cotto on Babylon 5 (where he also directed a few episodes), passed away yesterday morning at home surrounded by family and friends after battling diabetes for many years. He was 62.
Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski tweeted, “On behalf of everyone who worked on Babylon 5, Stephen Furst will be missed profoundly and everlastingly.”
Furst is the 6th major cast member of Babylon 5 to have “passed beyond the veil.” Richard Biggs, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, Michael O’Hare, and most recently Jerry Doyle have all passed away.
Oh Vir, you will be missed.
Remembering Adam West
by Doc on Jun.12, 2017, under Obituaries, Television
I’ve been thinking about what to say all weekend, and I’m still at a loss for words, so let me start with this.
Adam West IS Batman.
The original Batman TV series was one of those shows that occupied my most early memories of entertainment, along with Star Trek and Lost In Space. It was campy, and bizarre at times. All these strange guest villains with the same incompetent henchmen, and sometimes those villains had different actors portraying them…but I didn’t care about that. Something about the show fascinated me. Probably something about all those high tech, extremely well labeled goodies in the Bat Cave and a car with a built in rocket motor.
Sure, other actors have since played Batman, with varying degrees of success…but I could never buy any of them as the “face” of Batman. I don’t know why, really. Michael Keaton always had a look of incredulity to me. Val Kilmer was too smug. George Clooney was, well…George Clooney – it’s always a version of himself. I didn’t care much for Christian Bale, and as for Ben…I like him in general (yes, I said it), but not as the face of Batman.
No one is the face of Batman other than Adam West. He looked smart, he looked wealthy, but not in a smug, I’m-better-than-you way. He was always thoughtful. And he took it all seriously despite the campyness of the show.
Unfortunately as was not uncommon at the time after playing such an internationally famous role, West had trouble landing starring roles after Batman, having been typecast. He spent several years just making personal appearances, and wherever he went he was instantly recognized as Batman. Things picked up again years later, and he made many guest appearances on shows, and then starting in 1999 he became a recurring character on Family Guy, voicing “Mayor Adam West”, a crazy caricature. He never seemed to lose his humor about it all, and continued making personal appearances on the convention circuit along side his longtime friend Burt Ward.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch up with him when he was most recently in this area, but he was to return for Boston Comic Con this August. A few weeks ago his schedule was updated as “postponed”…West passed away this past Friday at the age of 88 after a brief fight with leukemia. I’m sad that I’ve missed the chance to meet yet another major part of my childhood.
Actor Jared Martin, Fantastic Journey and War Of The Worlds series star, 1941-2017
by Doc on May.25, 2017, under Obituaries
We’ve just learned that actor Jared Martin, who genre TV fans would remember from the short-lived Fantastic Journey series as well as the TV series adaptation of War Of The Worlds, along with a small role in the original Westworld, passed away this past Wednesday at the age of 75 at home after suffering from pancreatic cancer.
He was probably more well known as rodeo cowboy Dusty Farlow who seduced Sue Ellen Ewing only to die in a plane crash on Dallas, although he was resurrected due to fan popularity. He was also a roommate to Brian de Palma at Columbia University, who gave Martin two of his first acting jobs, in 1968’s Murder a la Mod and 1969’s The Wedding Party.
As the lead character of Dr. Harrison Blackwood in War Of The Worlds, he was one of the few characters to survive the retooling of the series in the second season, which took the show from a contemporary setting to a more post-apocalyptic world and a “second wave” of aliens take over.
Aliens, Titanic, Twister actor Bill Paxton passed away
by Doc on Feb.26, 2017, under Movies, Obituaries, Television
Breaking news – a family representative has released a statement that actor Bill Paxton passed away due to complications after surgery. He was 61.
It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery,” the statement said.
“A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.”
Bill starred in so many things where he made the role so memorable. The earliest I recall was Weird Science, where he played older brother Chet who would antagonize Wyatt to the point that he was turned into a giant talking turd by Lisa. Just a year later came the role that would make me look forward to anything else he did, as Private Hudson in Aliens, for which he won a Saturn award. While these roles seemed to point him towards playing the “lovable dumb guy”, he broke that by getting much more scientific as astronaut Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (co-winner of a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance of a Cast), storm chaser Bill Harding in Twister, and treasure hunter/deep sea explorer Brock Lovett in Titanic. My kids even remember him from the role of “Dinky Winks” in Spy Kids 2.
More recently he had a recurring guest role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and was currently appearing on the CBS cop show Training Day.
Richard Hatch, the original Apollo on Battlestar Galactica, 1945-2017
by Doc on Feb.07, 2017, under Obituaries, Television
I’m sad to say that we’ve lost another icon of SF…actor Richard Hatch, who played Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica and later had a recurring role on the reboot, passed away today at the age of 71 after an extended illness, while surrounded by his family and friends.
Hatch started off on All My Children, then a string of guests spots on a variety of shows before landing a regular role in the last couple seasons of The Streets of San Francisco. He followed that up with his best known role on Battlestar Galactica, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.
After that, he went back to guest roles and lesser known movies, and some short runs on Dynasty and Santa Barbara. All the while, he kept the fandom of Battlestar Galactica alive at conventions, even writing and producing Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, a short featuring several of his fellow cast members in raising interest in the possible return of the series. Even when Universal decided to go for a complete reboot, he felt that any Galactica was a step in the right direction, and was the only original cast member to appear in the new show, in the recurring role of Tom Zarek.
I had the good fortune to meet Richard at a smaller local convention a couple years ago, and he genuinely enjoyed talking with the fans. We chatted for a while about his thoughts on the reboot and the differing opinions of his cast mate, Dirk Benedict, who was next to him. He was glad the show came back in any form and was nothing but supportive of the effort. A franchise is lucky to have such a proponent that gets the fans and works with them, and Richard was one of the few.
Actor Sir John Hurt, 1940-2017
by Doc on Jan.27, 2017, under Obituaries
According to multiple source, British actor Sir John Hurt has passed away, having turned 77 earlier this week.
Hurt was one of those actors who simply showed up everywhere, from iconic roles such as the eponymous The Elephant Man (for which he received an Oscar nomination), to smaller but memorable ones such as Kane, the first victim in Alien (and self-parodied in Spaceballs), or even random roles such as an appearance in the short Masters of Science Fiction anthology series. I’ve seen him in so many things over the years, and I can picture him in each one – even if I didn’t realize it was him, such as his role of eccentric billionaire S.R. Hayden in Contact. He received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and won the Golden Globe for his role of Max in Midnight Express. He had a way of making the smallest roles stand out for me.
More recently, Doctor Who fans would know him as the one the Doctor wouldn’t talk about, a.k.a. the “War Doctor”, who was responsible for what happened to the Time Lords and the Daleks at the end of the time war. And before that, he was Ollivander in several of the Harry Potter movies. And his distinctive gravelly voice was used in many other productions, including The Black Cauldron, Watership Down, The Tigger Movie, the Dragon in the BBC Merlin series, and the animated The Lord of the Rings.
Carrie Fisher, 1956-2016, and her mother Debbie Reynolds, 1932-2016
by Doc on Dec.27, 2016, under Movies, Obituaries
Carrie Fisher, who suffered from a cardiac event on a flight home to Los Angeles from London on Friday shortly before landing, has passed away, according to her daughter Billie Lourd’s publicist. She was 60 years old.
An outpouring of thoughts and prayers started on Friday and continue today, with many people, celebrities and fans, saying how much she has meant to them over the years. For me, she was the first “movie crush” I can recall. I had Star Wars trading cards, and me and my friends fought over a particular card of her. She was the prototype Strong Woman, busting the “princess” stereotype. She may have been the damsel in need of a rescue, but she took part in her own rescue and wasn’t afraid to get dirty doing it. All the boys wanted to be Luke, because back then everyone thought Luke would get the girl in the end.
Carrie wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and even played up the “Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan feud” tongue-in-cheek with fellow actor and “rival” William Shatner. Shatner tweeted this afternoon, “I’m deeply saddened to learn of the death of Carrie Fisher. I will miss our banterings. A wonderful talent & light has been extinguished.” More recently, with her re-appearance in her iconic role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she spoke out against the body-shaming “fans” who criticized her looks on how she aged since she last appeared as Princess Leia some 32 years previously. “Please stop debating about whether OR not I aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings. My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have,” she wrote on Twitter.
She was very open about her struggles with alcoholism and mental health, even writing a semi-autobiographical book about a substance-addicted actress called “Postcards From The Edge” that became a movie starring her friend Meryl Streep, and then in 2009 wrote her memoir, “Wishful Drinking”.
Regretfully, we were supposed to meet Carrie last year at a convention, but she had to cancel due to an illness, and she wasn’t able to attend this year.
We miss you already, Carrie.
Update 12/28: Just a day later Debbie Reynolds, her mother, passed away after being rushed to the hospital this afternoon, according to her son, Todd Fisher. Her and her son were reportedly working on funeral arrangements for Carrie.
2016 has been full of such sadness. 2017 cannot get here fast enough.