Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I’m going to do something a little different in this posting. There will be no pictures of celebrities or remembrances of the good life in the 60s. Just this once, I’m putting on my pundit hat (or beard) and will pontificate for about the next 400 words.

If you're searching for a good scare, this story might just be the most frightening you have ever read.

On Saturday (November 24th, 2007), I was reading an op-ed column in the LA Times written by William Ratliff, a research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His subject was “Venezuela’s path to self-destruction caused by voters handing President Hugo Chavez the power to turn their country into a dictatorship." In his opening remarks, my mind couldn’t help but make a one-word change regarding his subject's protagonist. It simply switched “Chavez” with the more recognizable name, “Bush.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that President George W. Bush has already been our President FOREVER! And, when I watch the presidential debates go on and on, I can’t help but imagine that is how it is all going to turn out. The debates will continue to go on and on and on and so will Bush.

So when I read Mr. Ratliff’s opening paragraph, a ghostly name change kept popping up in my head like an omen of horrific nightmares to come.

On Dec. 2, Venezuelans (Americans) will be asked to vote on a whopping 69 constitutional amendments that would greatly reduce the country's democratic governance, strip citizens of still more individual liberties and thus expand President Chavez’s (Bush’s) power even beyond what it is today. The sad reality is that voters will probably approve the amendments, as Chavez’s (Bush’s) opponents have been bumbling around, discredited, disorganized and intimidated.

One of the most disturbing ballot items would allow Chavez (Bush) to run for president as often as he wishes and make it more difficult for voters to recall a president. He could become, in effect, president for life.”


Stay tuned

EDITORS NOTE: The opening picture of Lloyd Thaxton was taken from a recent interview given to film maker Thomas Duncan for his documentary on the surfing scene of the 50s and 60s. The second picture is from the official presidential painting which will most likely be placed on top of the capital dome.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I started out the original posting of this story by telling about my contest survey, which showed that the most popular segments of my blog, "are all those little photo contests I've been challenging you with from time to time." Well, this one (not unlike many of those presidential candidate poles) turned out to be wrong. Like the nation's eligible voters, many tuned in to take a look, but only two people (Yes, two people. Not 100,000 ) voted. Two (count 'em) actually made the effort to guess the identities of my spy camera friends. Was it just too hard? Maybe. But, who said contests were supposed to be easy? (EDITOR'S NOTE: Voting for President is really easy)

Now, I'm going to test the reliability of the supposedly next most popular segments of my blog:



Left to right, the handsome actor and truly nice person, ROBERT WAGNER. My dream girl poker partner and talented singer-actress, POLLY BERGEN. And, the late, great King of the road, ROGER MILLER. A trio to dream about.


I have to admit this was a tough one. MATT DENNIS. Who is Matt Dennis? He was a lounge singer and band leader who just happened to write little ditties like: "Angel Eyes,"" Everything happens to me,"" Let’s Get Away From it All,"" The Night We called it a Day,"" Violets for your Furs,” and "Will You Still Be Mine." Matt was one of my favorites. He is gone now and I felt I owed him a tribute on my blog. Bless you Matt.


Here was one of the easy ones. JACK LEMMON. I took this at a friendly little poker game. Jack not only took all of my money. He kept me laughing as he raked in the chips. What would you have bet to stay in the game with Jack Lemmon?

MARILYN AND ALLEN BERGMAN, one of the most successful songwriting collaborations in an era of great popular music.

Think 16 Academy Award nominations, multiple Emmys, Grammys, and three Oscars for "The Windmills of Your Mind", "The Way We Were", and the score for "Yentl. And like the Energizer bunny, they just keep going and going.


ROGER WILLIAMS. I will always cherish the gift this musical icon once gave me; a practice piano keyboard that made no sounds. He did this so I could practice finger syncing his hit recordings. Named the greatest selling Pianist in history by Billboard magazine, Roger Williams has an astounding 18 Gold and Platinum albums to his credit. Autumn Leaves stands as the greatest selling piano recording of all time. And, he gave great Christmas parties.


Here's another easy one. DON KNOTTS. He was one of the smartest actors around. How smart was he? So smart that he was able to convince all of you that he was a REAL goofus. Very high on my nice guy chart.


MARY TYLER MOORE and her husband GRANT TINKER. I took this picture at the LA Griffith Park train museum during a party celebrating Roger Miller's appearance at the outdoor Greek Theater.


SANDY KOUFAX? Yes, Sandy Koufax. This LA Dodger's great pitched a perfect game in Major League Baseball against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on September 9, 1965. Koufax, by retiring 27 consecutive batters without allowing any to reach base, became the sixth pitcher of the modern era to throw a perfect game. The game was Koufax's fourth no-hitter, breaking Bob Feller's Major League record of three (and later broken by Nolan Ryan, in 1981). Koufax struck out 14 opposing batters, the most ever recorded in a perfect game. In short, "27 up, 27 down". He went on to winning many more games, including this one played out in the Thaxton casino.


Could that be HENRY MANCINI spotted outside a restaurant in Hollywood by paparazzi wannabe, L. Thaxton? Henry was a guest many times on the LT Show. This musical genius won a record number of Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. His best-known works are the jazz-idiom theme to The Pink Panther film series and Moon River. But, you already know all that.


Last, but certainly not least, the late, great actor-director JOHN CASSAVETES. This was taken at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during a wonderful dinner before a ballet we were attending. With him was his beautiful and talented wife GENA ROWLANDS.

What made the night so memorable was that we all had such a wonderful time we repeated the experience the very next night. Same dinner (but a different ballet). My wife Barbara and I will never forget those two magical evenings.

The sad thing about all this remembering of friends is how many have "the late" preceding their names. A cue for all of us to start communicating again with all those friends who are still alive and kicking. I'm writing this on Thanksgiving day 2007. How about picking up the phone right now and wishing an old friend a Happy Thanksgiving (even if Thanksgiving is over).

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers. May all your days be filled with joy.

And let me know if you want any more of these photo contests. Other wise ...

I'll be watching you (and cliquing).

Stay tuned

Monday, November 05, 2007


Let's hope that before you read this the Writer's Strike is over.

I would like to say a few words about youth. OK, three words: “ILY ... I Love Youth” (a nice play on words there). What brought this on? A few days ago, October 31, 2007, I put on my Lloyd Thaxton Halloween mask and gave an interview on the Florence Henderson Show.

The FLORENCE HENDERSON SHOW is a new show on The Retirement Living Channel. Other guests on this particular show included one of my favorite motion picture directors ...

Gary Marshall (Gary’s “Pretty Woman,” being one of my favorite movies of all time).

Also, there was Milt Larson, who, in the 60s, created the famed Hollywood Magic Castle. Milt taught me a fantastic card trick.

I could show you how to do the trick, but then I would have to kill you.

Bob Newhart was on the show the day before ...

... and the show following ours featured, Carol Burnett.

What a great line-up of guests. "But wait a minute," you say, "None of these guests, including me, really fits into this story." “The Retirement Living Channel” yes, but not a blog titled,


Well, if you were there in the studio with me, you would see how it all fits. On camera were all us “Oldies, but Goodies.” But out there, behind the camera, were all the 12-year old members of the crew and production staff.

Let me explain. My title “The 12-year Old Producer” comes from the many tales I’ve heard from movie and TV writers who say, after a “pitch” meeting, that the producers all looked 12 years old. Meaning, that they were very young and don’t understand or appreciate older folk’s ideas very much. “It is like pitching my idea to someone else's grand kids,” one older writer friend told me. Ageism can sometimes be brutal when one has to face it. But, life moves on and we have to move with it.

To be a little more realistic, the Florence Henderson production staff really didn’t look like 12-year olds; they were more like twenty-somethings. But, more important, they were the most efficient group of “youngins” I had ever worked with. They were, not only highly capable and truly appreciative of all their guests, not one of them called me “grampa.”

I want to especially thank Amber Engelmann, Daresha Kyi, Babette Canton, Lisa Sutton, and Stephanie McCanles. Florence Henderson, you have a great young and loyal production staff there.

You Mouse Cliquers out there should enjoy my segment on the show. It is mostly about The Lloyd Thaxton Show and does show some clips.

The show I was on will not air until December 2007. I’ll let you know the exact date when they get around to telling me. It’s possible that they have already done that.

If so, … I FORGOT!

Are you OK with that?

Stay tuned.