Saturday, January 22, 2011

Costume Designer Theoni Aldredge R.I.P.

Theoni V. Aldredge, who designed costumes for films from Stella (1955) to The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), passed on January 21, 2010 at the age of 78.

Theoni V. Aldredge was born Theoni Athanasiou in Greece on August 22, 1932. She decided to become a costume designer after seeing the movie Caesar and Cleopatra (1946). When she was around 17 she immigrated to the United States where she attended the Goodman School of Drama, at that time part of the Art Institute of Chicago. She married Tom Aldredge in 1953.

Miss Aldredge first designed costumes for Stella (1955). She would go onto to design costumes for such films as Never on Sunday (1960), The Three Sisters (1966), I Never Sang for My Father (1970), The Great Gatsby (1974), Network (1976), The Cheap Detective (1978), Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Rich and Famous (1981), Ghostbusters (1984), Moonstruck (1987), Other People's Money (1991), Addams Family Values (1993), and First Wives Club (1996). She won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on The Great Gatsby.

Theoni V. Aldrege also worked on Broadway. She designed costumes for such plays as Sweet Bird of Youth, The Best Man, The Devil's Advocate, Mr. President, Any Wednesday, P. S. I Love You, Happily Ever After, Little Murders, Weekend, That Championship Season, A Chorus Line, Annie, 42nd Street, Dreamgirls, Chess, and Nick and Nora.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Actor Paul Picerni Passes On

Actor Paul Pircerni, who was a regular on the TV series The Untouchables and appeared in the movie House of Wax (1953), passed on 12 January 2011. He was 91 years old. The cause was a heart attack.

Paul Picerni was born on 1 December 1922 in New York City. During World War II he joined the United States Army Air Force, where he served as a bombardier. He made his film debut in 1946 as an extra in In Fast Company. He had bit parts in Beyond Glory (1948) and Twelve O'Clock High (1949). Mr. Picerni appeared in several films in 1950, including The Secret Fury, Dial 119, and Breakthrough. In 1950 he also graduated from Loyola University in Los Angeles, California with a bachelor of arts.

Paul Picerni began the Fifties starring in more substantial roles. He appeared in such films as I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951), Fort Worth (1951), and Mara Maru (1952). In 1953 he played the hero in the classic horror film House of Wax opposite the great Vincent Price. He finished out the Fifties appearing in such films as The Beat From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), His Majesty O'Keefe (1954), The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954), To Hell and Back (1955), Miracle in the Rain (1956), The Big Caper (1957), The Brothers Rico (1957), Majorie Morningstar (1958), and The Young Philadelphians (1959). Mr. Picerni appeared on television frequently in the Fifties, in such shows as The Lone Wolf, Dragnet, Fireside Theatre, Mr. and Mrs. North, The Red Skelton Hour, Studio 57, Climax, Goodyear Television Playhouse, Four Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Zorro, Maverick, and The Loretta Young Show. In 1959 he appeared as Tony Liurgi in the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse episode "The Untouchables." When the episode was spun off into the TV Series The Untouchables the following year, Mr. Picerni was cast as Treasury Agent Lee Hobson. He appeared on the series from 1960 to 1963.

Throughout the Sixties Paul Picerni appeared on such shows as Perry Mason, The Fugitive, The Big Valley, Batman, Combat, Hogan's Heroes, The Virginian, Hawaii Five-O, and The F.B.I. He appeared in such movies as Fury River (1961), The Age of Violence (1964), The Scalphunters (1968), Che! (1969), and Airport (1970). In the Seventies Mr. Picerni appeared in such shows as The Immortal, Love American Style, Here's Lucy, Emergency, Marcus Welby M.D., Adam-12, Gunsmoke, Kolchak the Night Stalker, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, and Kojak. He appeared in the films Kotch (1971), The Fearmakers (1971), Capricorn One (1977), Escape to Athena(1979), and Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979). From the Eighties into the Naughts, Mr. Picerni appeared in such shows as Trapper John M.D., Quince M.E., Sledge Hammer, and Diagnosis: Murder. He appeared in the film Three Days to Vegas  (2007), his last appearance on film.

Paul Picerni was a versatile actor. Gifted with the good looks of a leading man, he was actually a skilled character actor. Throughout his long career, Paul Picerni played everything from lawmen like Agent Hobson on The Untouchables to gangsters to Catholic priests to medical doctors. And he performed all of those roles quite well. If he appeared frequently on television, it is perhaps because he was an actor who could be counted upon in any guest part he was given.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ricky Gervais and the Golden Globes

Today the news media, not to mention such social networkings sites as Twitter, were all abuzz with Ricky Gervais' performance as host of the Golden Globes ceremony last night. The majority of opinion was that Mr. Gervais was overly rude and disrespectful to the people the show was meant to honour. Indeed, he made reference to Robert Downey Jr.'s past problems. He joked about the age of the cast of Sex and the City 2. He even announced that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the folks who hand out the Golden Globe Awards) "took bribes." HPFA president Phil Berk stated that when one hires a comedian like Mr. Gervais, one must expect outrageous humour. He went onto say, "The HFPA would never condone some of his personal remarks. Overall, however, the show was among the best we've ever had." Despite the stance of the HPFA, however, the consensus of most of the press and many others is that Ricky Gervais should be fired as the show's host.

My own thought is that to a large degree the controversy over Ricky Gervais' hosting duties on the Golden Globes Awards is a tempest in a teapot. While I certainly do not condone many of Mr. Gervais' comments and I would not blame anyone if they took a horse whip to him, in the end I do not see that they are all that newsworthy.

First is the fact that I do not think the Golden Globe Awards themselves are newsworthy. In fact, I did not even bother to watch the ceremony last night (Ghost World was on KPLR--I only know of Ricky Gervais' remarks from coverage on television and internet). After all, it is hard for me to see how anyone could take the Golden Globes seriously. They are not given by the industry itself, as the Oscars or the various guild awards are. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association are simply a small group of journalists (only about 80 to 90 in all) who report entertainment news. To me this gives the Golden Globes about as much clout as the People's Choice  Awards. It should then not be surprising that the Golden Globes are not a good forecast of the Oscars, no more than the various critics associations' awards. Finally, I guess I need not point out that the Golden Globes is nearly as well known for its scandals as it is for its awards (just read my first post on the subject). It seems to me that Hollywood and the media place an importance on the Golden Globes ceremony that it does not deserve.

Second, as HFPA president Phil Berk pointed out, when one hires a comedian like Ricky Gervais, one expects outrageous humour. Much of Mr. Gervais' comedy comes from being rude, disrespectful, and even hurtful. It is unrealistic to think that he would pull any punches simply because he is hosting an awards ceremony. Quite simply, the news media and Hollywood should not be shocked that Mr. Gervais insulted many celebrities. Being shocked at Mr. Gervais being insulting is like being shocked at there being water in the ocean.

Quite simply, between the relative unimportance of the Golden Globe Awards and the fact that Ricky Gervais was only doing what one would expect him to do, I fail to see why so much of the coverage of the awards focused on his hosting. Ricky Gervais insulted people? This is news? Next the press will be reporting that it is summer and it is hot....