Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I have been informed by an unimpeachable source that if I mention Paris Hilton in my blog, the amount of hits would increase quite substantially. Therefore, I'm going to conduct a test on that theory by naming eight unrelated subjects and keep a count of which one gets the most attention.

Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton, American Idol, George W. Bush, American Idol, George W. Bush, and Paris Hilton.

If what I was told turns out to be true, I will somehow work the winner into all future postings.

Googlers, start your engines.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I don’t know about you, but when I look at all those presidential candidates lined up on stage,I ‘m looking ever so hard to find a winner. Of course at election time a winner will emerge. But, what I’m looking for is a WINNER!

Most likely you have heard about Steven Spielberg’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton. That was OK with me. What was not OK were all those letters to the editors putting Spielberg down for doing what he believed in; participating in the election of America’s leaders. “What does a Movie Director know about politics,” some people wrote. Others said, “He should stay out of politics and just make movies.”

Whenever I hear radio talk-show hosts and news commentators say that people in show business should stay out of politics and shouldn’t use their popularity to back candidates for office, it really makes my polytics start acting up something fierce.

Poly: many.
Tics: local and habitual twitching, especially in the face.

Man, my face hurts.

Who would make a better presidential candidate than Spielberg himself. Here's a person who can produce and direct a major motion picture that grosses hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office?

It is my habit to have more than one book going at the same time. I’ve found no better way to be entertained and informed. For example, I’ve just finished reading Al Gore’s latest book, “The Assault on Reason.” At that same time I was reading, “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, “The Reagan Diaries” by Ronald Reagan, and “Echo Park” by Michael Connelly (Hey, I needed a break from all that heavy stuff).

Here’s a quote from “The Assault on Reason” with which I feel everyone can easily identify.

“Many Americans now feel that our government is unresponsive and that no one in a position of power listens to or cares what they think. They feel disconnected from democracy. They feel that one vote makes no difference, and that they, as individuals, now have no practical means of participating in America’s self-government.”

How many of you feel that you are powerless as far as your government is concerned? How many of you don’t vote because you feel that your vote doesn’t count?

Solution: We need more actors, producers, and directors and less lawyers and professional politicians running for office. When directors like Steven Spielberg make a movie they become master leaders and communicators. They put thousands of people to work and run organizations whose goal is to reach great amounts of people. Therefore, who could possibly know more about what the people want? And better yet, have the ability and knowledge to give it to them. You participate in their work by buying a ticket … or not buy a ticket. Your vote counts, at the box office.

A director/producer looks at how many of you bought a ticket or they look at TV ratings to tell how well they are doing. If the grosses continue to be low or the ratings dismal, they are soon out of a job or their show is gone. THEY are gone. Our leaders today seemed to have sidestepped this consequential inconvenience. Could it be possible that they really don’t care what you think?

Actor/President Ronald Reagan, the great communicator, cared. He knew how to reach people. From his years in show business, he knew how to let people feel they were important and that he was listening to them.

Time to make a commitment. If it were possible to vote today for President of the United States and he was running, I would vote for Al Gore. He is a WINNER. He was a member of the House of Representatives, AND a Senator, AND a two-term Vice President of The United States. And even more important, when he ran for president, he got more popular votes than George W. Bush. He not only reads books, he writes books.

Now you might ask why, after saying I thought our government would run better with show business people in charge, I would vote for a politician like Al Gore?

Besides his years of experience in Washington, don’t forget that he also won an Academy Award. If elected he would be the first President of the United States to have an Oscar sitting in the Oval Office.

Now, from what I said above, I don’t want you to think that I am against all lawyers in government. Some of my best friends are lawyers. However, as I said, show business people have to reach millions of people to keep their jobs; A lawyer only has to reach a maximum of 12.

Stay tuned

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Have you ever wondered what a big movie star thinks about when he watches his or her old movies? I have. When I see a movie like “The Graduate,” I wonder what Dustin Hoffman thinks when watching himself 40 years after the movie was made.

Or, the great Kirk Douglas viewing “Spartacus,” filmed 47 years ago. Does it feel strange?

I’ve been experiencing strange feelings myself as I edit the DVD, “My Name is Lloyd Thaxton – So What.” Believe it or not, except for one or two clips, I am looking at footage I haven't seen for over 40 years.

I find myself smiling a lot. Even laughing out loud. I’m thrilled when I see how talented the kids are when they perform in the lip-sync contests. To me, it’s kind of an “American Idol” rip-off (If you can rip-off a show 40 years BEFORE it happens). And, the dance contests are cheerily reminiscent of “Dancing With The Stars.” My groups of kids are performing their hearts out in hopes of winning the big prize: tickets to Disneyland and a couple record albums (remember those prizes?). Better yet, applause from their peers.

But, what about me? What do I feel when I see what I looked like 40 years ago? I find it difficult to say “me”, or “I,” when referring to myself. There is no “myself.” That young person I see on the screen doesn’t really seem like me anymore. So I talk in the third person. I say things like, “Let’s look at Lloyd’s number again. He’s funny in that one,” or, “There’s a little too much of Lloyd on the DVD. We need more of the kids.” I sometimes catch editor Dan Schaarschmidt smiling at me sideways when I do that.

I remember sitting in a screening room a few years ago viewing an old film. Sitting next to me was one of the stars of the movie. After one of his very dramatic scenes, he turned to me and said. “That guy deserves an Oscar.” I thought the remark was very quaint; “that guy” being him. But now, after spending so much time looking at my young self, I understand. By speaking in the third person, he could get away with bragging about that OTHER actor ...

... or, criticizing. There was one of my LTS routines we were considering that we liked a lot. However, I felt my introduction to the song made me look bad. On the tape I was kidding with the cameraman regarding the angle of his shot. Taken out of context, it gave the impression that I was criticizing him on the air. I said, “Cut out Lloyd’s introduction, It makes him look like an ass." Again, the editor smiled. I had just called myself an ass.

Maybe that’s how Dustin Hoffman feels. Or, Kirk Douglas. If they don’t like something they did over 40 years ago, they can just think, “That’s not me, that’s HIM! “ Or, they can say, “Isn’t he terrific,” without any ego showing.

So what do I think when I see that young guy on the screen?

Lloyd (after and before) with Petula Clark and Joe Smith, then V.P. Warner Bros Records

Actually, I think he's quite handsome!

Writing in the third person, ALSO has its advantages.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


There’s a classic joke that goes, “A young tourist walking down 5th Ave in New York stops an old man on a street corner and asks, ‘Excuse me sir. Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?’ The man pauses, reflects, and then answers, ‘Practice … Practice.’”

I was reminded of that old and wise story when my 19 year-old nephew, Keegan Allen, recently asked me, “How did you get your own show?”

Keegan’s question brought back memories of all the different jobs I had in my life starting at 12 with a paper route. During one high school summer break; I worked in a factory operating a punch press. Next, it was a blueprint-making machine in a draftsmen office.

Another summer had me punching out and inspecting automobile door handles at a metal casting company. I delivered mail for the post office during Christmas. My favorite of all vacation jobs was working in the men’s section of LaSalle’s Department Store. I loved demonstrating men’s ties with that wonderful quick trick of wrapping the tie around my hand in such a way as to show how it would look tied. It was like … magic. The ladies loved it.

My last summer job before show biz intervened was at Toledo’s Babcock Dairy picking thousands of milk bottles up off a fast moving conveyor belt and putting them in wooden cases (trying hard not to break them). After this 10-hours-a-day working summer, I still can’t stand picking up a glass milk bottle, let alone drinking from it. I would suspect that my psyche became, “all bottled up.”

It was my Dad who taught me the ethic of work when he bought his skinny little 12 year-old son a newspaper route and a bicycle to make deliveries. My first lesson: Pay him back a little each week until the route and the bike became my very own. “And that, my son, will make you an independent businessman.”

A 12 year-old independent businessman?

The people at the post office DID NOT invent the phrase, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." It was my dad who said that.

The first time I went out to collect for my first week delivering newspapers, this young courier trudged along my appointed rounds through two feet of snow and gloom of night to collect a measly quarter from each of my 60 customers (five days of papers at five cents a day). I even had one of those little metal changers hooked to my belt. I can testify to the fact that they don’t work too well when your fingers are frozen to them.

I don’t know if anyone still does this, but there were many businessmen at the time who would take their first dollar, have it framed and hang it on the wall of their office with the inscription “First Dollar I Ever Made.” Well, when I got home after my first collection night, I went to my Dad and said, “Dad, I want you to have the first QUARTER I ever made.” After I put it in his hand, he slowly closed it and said, “I’ll cherish this forever.”

50 years later, when I took a break from my TV show and was visiting my dad back in Toledo (He was almost 90 then), he asked me, “Son, do you remember when you gave me the first quarter you ever earned? Before I could answer, he reached into his pocket, opened his hand and said, “Well, here it is.”

And there it was. He had been saving my first quarter for all those 50 years. The “teacher” was giving it back to me as a reward for all my hard work.

My dad’s gone now and you can’t possibly imagine how much that quarter is worth to me today. I get a catch in my throat every time I tell this story (and I tell it a lot). Right now that quarter of my life is sitting in a special felt-bottomed box so I can take it out, close my hand, and just … hold it.

I’ve decided that when people today ask me how I got my own show, I’m going to tell them it was my dad, George Tucker Stainback Thaxton’s fault.

Stay tuned.