Thursday, November 20, 2014

Obituaries

Famous director Mike Nichols, 83, has died.

Nichols was born in Germany and had a name I can barely spell, let alone pronounce, so he changed it. I didn't have anything to do with it, of course. Actually, his birth name of Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky wasn't that bad, but it clearly wouldn't fit on a marquee. However, Mike wasn't the one who thought of changing his name. It was his family when they arrived in the U.S. They decided on a short and sweet last name of "Nichols."

He moved behind the scenes and directed Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in "Barefoot in the Park," which won him his first Tony in 1964. For a time he was Broadway's golden boy, with success following success: "Luv" (1964), "The Odd Couple" (1965), "The Apple Tree" (1966, featuring a young Alan Alda), "Plaza Suite" (1968) and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1971). "Barefoot," "Odd Couple," "Plaza Suite" and "Second Avenue" were all written by Neil Simon.

He was also the director of the musical "Annie" (1977), which was one of Broadway's longest-running musicals when it closed almost six years later.

After a few marriages, three to be exact, and a few kids, he got hitched for good in 1988 when he married television journalist Diane Sawyer. It was her first time at the altar.

She survives him, along with three children and four grandchildren.
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R&B singer Jimmy Ruffin, 78, died Monday in Las Vegas. He had a number of hits in the 1960s.

He was the brother of the late singer of the Temptations, David Ruffin, who died at age 50 in 1991.
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Cos and Effect

Bill Cosby is getting what he has long deserved, but I find that many of the comments following this article are truly disgusting examples of denial that a famous person could possible commit such heinous acts.

Remember, these stories have dogged him for many years. They're nothing new.



A Lost Cos

We were warned a long time ago about Bill Cosby. However, taking down such a famous and beloved figure by telling the truth about his sexual assaults and rapes against numerous women was too much for media execs and newspaper editors to handle.

After all, Cosby was/is (probably "was" by now) a television icon. That reverence stemmed back from the mid-1960s when he became, I believe, the first black male to star in a television dramatic series, much less win an Emmy, for I Spy. In other words, he's been in the public eye for a good fifty years (hard to believe it's been that long). He seemed to have it all: a great career, a great wife, a great family. I know he did the live act for many years after I Spy went off the air and continued with live performances even while starring in other television series. He made many appearances in Reno and at Lake Tahoe before, during, and after the years I lived in northern Nevada (I never got around to seeing him perform in person). He donated a lot of money to the University of Nevada, Reno, as part of his philanthropic activities. He spoke out on various issues, sometimes angering the black community over his blunt comments. He and his family garnered much sympathy when his only son, Ennis, was senselessly murdered back in 1997. However, there had always been dark rumors about what Cosby was really like offstage and off-screen.

You wonder what it was that made him have such anger, especially toward women, to act in that fashion. I am no longer going to put "alleged" because there are just too many claims out there to be ignored or denied. So far all of the women reporting this criminal behavior have been white, but I am sure there have been women of color who have also been treated in this fashion. There are men out there, rich and poor, who have rage against women, but rich and powerful men are more likely to get women to "voluntarily" come with them to their homes or hotel rooms in exchange for promises to help them with their careers. In the old days of Hollywood, studio execs would use the "casting couch" to aspiring actresses to employ what is nothing less than sexual harassment in exchange for promises to further their careers. In many ways the Cosby incidents are much worse because in the majority of the cases we know of Cosby slipped drugs in their drinks which rendered them unconscious while he had his way with them. The women by and large had no memory of what he had done to them once they fell asleep. That, my friends, ain't "consensual." Not by a long shot. Cosby should have gone to prison for his crimes, but the lack of enough evidence to prosecute plus his fame, wealth, and power, guaranteed the women could get no justice at all.

It was only some comments by a comic a month or so ago which happened to be recorded on video that the old stories resurfaced, this time with a vengeance.

Cosby's career is over. I wonder if his marriage will go kaput. Perhaps not. They may have had an "understanding" years ago, so Camille, his wife, may have opted to look the other way when he was cheating on her. Camille Cosby, despite being treated like dirt, has been a key advisor for her husband over his long career. She may have too much to lose to kick him to the curb now. She is close to 70 and was only 19 when she married him back in 1964. It would be very hard to start over even if she wound up extremely rich herself in a divorce settlement.

From the piece:

Back when Cosby’s son Ennis was murdered, an American tabloid offered a $100,000 reward that successfully led to the apprehension and conviction of the murderer. That victory for the tab became a bargaining chip in all future dealings with the superstar. In 2005, the tabloid was set to publish an exposé on Cosby, featuring allegations from new self-described Cosby victims. A woman calling herself “Barbara” (later identified as former Hollywood publicist Joan Tarshis) claimed that in 1969, after a meeting on the set of a television show, Cosby slipped her a mickey and forced her into oral copulation, after which he tossed her ten bucks for cab fare. (It was Tarshis who gave the comedian the memorable epithet “Jell-O Man.”) She agreed to meet with tabloid editors in New York City and take a lie detector test to back up her claims. The tabloid realized that they had a bombshell story on their hands, but the exposé was mysteriously killed when Cosby agreed to a clandestine interview with an editor staged in a hotel room in Houston.

What resulted from that meeting was a garden-variety cover story in which the tabloid’s prize was getting Cosby to thank the paper for helping to nail his son’s killer, in-between veiled intimations of shakedowns and how his accusers (specifically Andrea Constand) just wanted his money. Not surprisingly, the issue was a loser at the newsstand.

That's called having power.

It's gone now.