Third Time's the Charm
Since Republican officials keep trying to hit back at Jimmy Kimmel, he keeps responded. And last night had his third terrific monologue on the TrumpCare bill, written by senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.
My only disappointment is that he taped earlier in the evening. That's because later in the night -- are you ready? -- the MedicAid Directors of ALL 50 STATES (!!) came out against the TrumpCare bill. All of them. Red states and Blue states. Every single one. Yes, even Alabama. And Arkansas. And South Carolina -- Lindsey Graham's home state. And Louisiana -- Bill Cassidy's home state. Every last state in the union. They are ALL AGAINST the TrumpCare bill. All 50 states. Honestly, I didn't think you could get all 50 states to agree on anything, including liking puppies. But -- in case the import of this wasn't clear, to repeat -- the MedicAid Directors of all 50 states announced they were ALL against the TrumpCare bill.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's sure would seem to make it much harder to justify and defend. Not that most Republican senators will try.
And of course, this doesn't count pretty much all the major healthcare organizations and insurance industry being against it. But then, what do they know...?
By the way, I'm being polite when I say "pretty much all." Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Eugene Robinson was on MSNBC last night and said he had spent the day trying to track down healthcare organizations who were for the bill -- and he couldn't find one.
Which brings us back to Jimmy Kimmel.
The Bollywood Diva Song
This is decidedly off-beat, but fascinating. It's a parody music video from India.
From what I've read, Kangana Ranaut is one of the leading actresses in the Bollywood movie industry. And AIB (short of All India Bakchod) is a popular comedy troupe. Together they teamed up for what they've called "The Bollywood Diva Song."
As you may know -- or not -- movies made in Bollywood are know for having big musical productions that break out for no apparent reason. (One of my favorite Indian movies, Lagaan, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2001 is a wonderfully fun and dramatic epic story during the days of English rule, that's a sort of cross between Romeo and Juliet and Rocky. But even it too has a couple of these lavish musical numbers -- for no apparent reason.)
Basically, "The Bollywood Diva Song" is done in that style, preceded by a scene that sets up it, and is a pretty blunt and scathing indictment of sexism in the Bollywood Industry. It's all cheery with smiles all around -- but the lyrics are not only outspoken, but even a bit crude and scatological in part. Making this all the more shocking is how prurient Indian films are, with (as I recall) men and women not even being allowed to kiss on screen. So, when you hear words like, "...because I have a vagina," I can only imagine the response back in India, and wonder if there's been any backlash to Kangana Ranaut -- or if's been applauded.
My suggestion is to click on the CC button at the bottom of the media player for Close Captioning. For some seasons, a little bit of the video is already captioned in English, so there will be an overlap of English on English for parts of the song, but most of it isn't, so it's best to leave it on and just accept the "double-English" for that section.
June is Busting Out All Over
Last night, I went to the "June Foray Celebration" that was held at the Motion Picture Academy in honor of the voice-actor legend who passed away recently at the age of 99, after a remarkable 80-year career. She was still working up to a few years ago and won her first Emmy at the age of 95, for playing a witch (she played LOTS of witches, most notably Witch Hazel for Warner Bros. cartoons) in an episode of Garfield that Mark Evanier wrote and voice-directed. Mark served as the host last night and was one of the event's producers, along with Jerry Beck, Bob Bergen, Howard Green and Tom Sito, to give full credit.
The Academy Theater was so jammed -- and it's a very big theater -- that standing in line to get in was never a certainty. Eventually it started 20 minutes late, but it was thoroughly worth the wait.
Among some of the highlights, that I recall --
Of course footage of her as 'Rocky the Flying Squirrel,' her iconic role. And footage of June as both 'Natasha' and 'Nell' on Rocky and His Friends. And her scene as 'Cindy Lu Who' in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And a scene of her as Grandmother Fa in Mulan. (She also played another famous grandmother, Tweety's owner, 'Granny' not to mention Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella, and 'Jokey Smurf'...sorry, that was a digression, and I could go on a really long time with the list, so let me continue with the evening...)
There was a wonderful Stan Freberg sketch that was a parody of Dragnet called, "Little Blue Riding Hood" (only the color has been changed to protect the innocent) that was such a huge hit recording in 1953 that Freberg, June and Dawes Butler -- the voice of 'Huckleberry Hound' among much more) were brought onto The Ed Sullivan Show to recreate it. The event's producers showed the Sullivan video.
(June did a lot of work for Freberg over the years, including his classic Stan Freberg presents The United States of America album. I met her a couple of times, the first by chance at a film industry event, but on the second occasion I knew she'd be there, so I brought along a hilarious 8-minute promotional 45 RPM record she had done with Freberg 30 years earlier for, of all things, a swimsuit company, Rose Marie Reid. She was stunned to see it, and happily signed the record's label -- which I subsequently asked Freberg to sign, as well, several years later.)
Nancy Cartwright -- the voice of 'Bart Simpson' -- told about some lovely memories of being friends with June and working together on The Simpsons.
They had footage of June winning her Emmy at the Daytime Emmy Awards (which had not been telecast), and also showed her receiving a second Emmy, the Governor's Award, which she was presented with later during a Primetime broadcast. Mark told a great story about accompanying her to that first event. He's written about it on his site, and I can't do it justice, so I won't try. But the point of it comes at the end of that evening when Mark (a large 6'3") and June (a small 4'11) were leaving and neared the rope-line jammed with a mass of fans hoping to see their favorite soap opera stars, making it very difficult to get away. The female emcee didn't have a clue who they were and asked Mark, rather than the tiny 95-year-old woman, if he had won an Emmy, "No, she did," he said, pointing to June and explaining she was the voice of 'Rocky the Flying Squirrel. This evoked the response, "You're shitting me!" When the emcee turned to announce this to the crowd, there was so much awe that they split apart to let June pass. And as Mark and June were walking through, a young girl -- who clearly had done a very quick search of June's credits on her cell phone -- cried out, "She was 'Cindy Lu Who'.". There's much more to the story, but that's the center.
They also had a very entertaining sequence with film of her two famous "doll" moments. The first was a Mattel ad from the early 1960s for their doll, Chatty Cathy, for which June did the voice. And likely as a result of that, June was hired to be the voice of 'Talky Tina,' a malevolent doll in an episode of The Twilight Zone, titled "Living Doll." They showed an edited-down footage of the battle with the overbearing Telly Savalas.
The producers even tracked down a couple of on-camera acting appearances by June, including one on the sitcom Green Acres, where she played a switchboard telephone operator who wasn't especially adept at connecting people. And the other was very early sketch with Johnny Carson from his pre-Tonight Show program, The Johnny Carson Show.
At the end of the evening, there was a lovely moment when 18 women came on stage for a group photo with a picture of June in the center, each of whom spoke briefly about either working with June or how she influenced and inspired them to become voice actors. And after all the introductions, the final actress was brought out, winner of that year's voiceover actress award -- Lily Tomlin. She gave a warm and charming speech about working with June and knowing her and what she meant to to profession.
There were speeches by the daughter of Jay Ward whose company created Rocky and Bullwinkle, and some words by the daughter of Chuck Jones, who directed so many of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, both of whom talked about how June Foray wasn't just a actor for their fathers, but became almost a part of the family. And some stories from animation historian Jerry Beck. The evening came to a close with a Tom and Jerry cartoon where June played -- of course -- a witch. As well as playing the owner of the cat, Tom. Hey, you wouldn't think June Foray would do just one voice now, would you?
Hat's off to all the producers who put together such a well-done, affectionate evening, to a full Academy theater.
And here is that "Little Blue Riding Hood" sketch from The Ed Sullivan Show.
The Return of "Ahaarrrr"
It's Talk Like a Pirate Day once again, and as always that gets me to think about the quite-wonderful video I've posted here before, but not for several years, Ahaarrrr. Today seems the ideal day to bring it back.
This is one of my favorite videos I've ever tracked down. It's a little British film, 13-minutes long, which I came across back in 2010 and have been passing it around since -- mostly to friends of my who do voice-over work, on either side of the microphone. Oh, boy howdy, do they ever empathize with it...
I don't know much about its history or the wonderful creative mind behind it, Jonathan Kydd, who wrote and stars in the short film (as both the voiceover artist and the director!). But it did win the (Mid Ulster) Critics choice at the DIY Festival LA. As it happens, I know very little about that festival -- other than that sentence I just typed.
I do see on the iMDB that Mr. Kydd deservedly has had a long career with a great many acting credits -- not shockingly, most over the past 20 years in voiceover work, notably eight Harry Potter video games, as well as the Toy Story That Time Forgot video. And for the animated series, The Adventures of Paddington Bear, he provided the voice of Paddington. But yes, mixed in among that and especially before getting involved with voiceover acting, he has also done a good deal of live-action, on-camera TV work.
As the description below says, this is indeed the voice over session from hell.
Still Chasing More Rainbows
The other day, I had a video of The Muppets Take the Hollywood Bowl, with Kermit singing their signature song, "The Rainbow Connection" along with Paul Williams, who co-wrote the number. Here's another version of the song done on The Muppet Show.
Beyond being hugely creative and funny, The Muppet Show series was impressive in the Big Star guests they were able to attract to host, often far out of their comfort zone, which was much of the fun. But I suspect the Muppets had built up so much goodwill that people just simply wanted to perform with them. And so you didn't get typical results for the show, which help lead it to being so creative. And funny.
I tracked down a bunch of those big name, unlikely hosts and will post them from time to time. But I thought that "The Rainbow Connection" was the best place to start. And given that this is such a signature song for the Muppets, and they could have sung it was anyone of their choice (and I'm sure they did it more than once on the show), I find it fascinating that they did it here with Debbie Harry.
It's a lovely, sweet rendition -- but then, most especially when you have Kermit involved, I think it's pretty hard for the song not to be. So, here from 1980 is "The Rainbow Connection" yet again.
Reba Get Your Gun
I posted this a long while back, but it deserves another airing for a few reasons. Most notably because it's so wonderful. But also, it seems like they've cleaned up the fuzzy image. And further, when I previously posted it, it was part of a longer video, and this is the single song alone.
It's country singer Reba McEntire onstage singing "Can’t Get a Man with a Gun" when she appeared on Broadway in the Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, replacing the revival's original star, Bernadette Peters in 2001.
I don't tend to like to post stealth videos of Broadway performances, but do under certain circumstances. At the top of that list is when a performance is so special that it risks being lost forever because of the ephemeral nature of the theater. There shouldn't be a likelihood of the performance having an afterlife, on DVD for instance. And I try under the best of circumstances to keep the video short.
This production almost did have an afterlife. Reba McEntire was reportedly so great in the show that there was talk of recreating it in a TV production. But for a range of reasons that didn't happen. And so the performance was indeed lost forever.
I want to put this in perspective. My folks saw the show on Broadway with its legendary original star, Ethel Merman, in one of her great performances. For decades, my dad especially would enthuse about that production, and if ever there was another version of the show that came up in conversation, he'd dismiss it without a second thought. There was no one for that role but Ethel Merman. (In fairness to my dad, he wasn't alone in this opinion.) And he kept it up as long as I can remember, half a century.
A few years ago, when I came across video of this particular song I wanted to show it to him, even knowing the "risks." It's a tremendous interpretation of the song. Not just adorable, whimsical, sexy, pure-country, shy, and brassy -- an impressive and difficult combination -- but perhaps most-impressively for me, she nails every single joke. Which is no small thing because there are a lot of them.
It was difficult to get my dad to agree to watch it -- among other things, he had no idea who Reba McEntire was -- mainly because I got The Lecture. There was no one for that role but Ethel Merman. But I finally got him to watch. And let the video of the song run.
He asked to watch it again.
It's that terrific.
Ethel Merman remained his gold standard for the show, and deservedly so. From the tales of legend she owned the stage. But my dad wholeheartedly acknowledged that Reba McEntire gave a performance that was not only great and valid, but something that Merman would never or could ever attempt. It was her own.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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