Yes, Sam Elliott recites "Old Town Road" in this very funny Super Bowl teaser commercial

Sam Elliott had the horses in the back with a wrangler on his booty before Lil Nas X was even in diapers.

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You can watch over 270 episodes of the Dick Cavett show online

One of the treats of being sick as a kid was staying home from school and being able to watch The Dick Cavett Show. He was a talk show host unlike any other, with a gentle, intelligent demeanor free of snark, smugness, or sarcasm. Josh Jones of Open Culture wrote a nice piece about Cavett, and include links to selected episodes of his show.

Born in Nebraska in 1937, “the only persona [Cavett] bothered to, or needed to, develop for working on camera was of a boy from Nebraska dazzled by the bright lights of New York,” as Clive James writes in an appreciation of the TV host. As he interviewed the biggest stars of late sixties, seventies, and eighties on the long-running Dick Cavett Show, Cavett’s easygoing Midwestern demeanor disarmed both his guests and audiences. He kept them engaged with his erudition, quick wit, and breadth of cultural knowledge.

Watch Cavett handle a cagey, combative Marlon Brando in 1973, making him open up a bit:

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Jazz great Jack Sheldon, the voice of Schoolhouse Rock!, RIP

Jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, singer of the Schoolhouse Rock! classics "I'm Just a Bill" and "Conjunction Junction," has died at age 88. With roots in the 1950s West Coast and bebop jazz scene, Sheldon became the longtime musical director of the Merv Griffin Show. In 1973, he became an ongoing contributor to Schoolhouse Rock!, voicing many of the series' most popular tunes.

(CNN)

image: "Jack Sheldon at Palo Alto CA Jazz Festival September 26, 1987" by Brian McMillen (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

Watch Laurie Anderson's fantastic "What You Mean We?" (1986) from PBS's Alive from Off Center

Alive From Off Center was PBS's pioneering TV series that featured experimental video and performance pieces by artists like Ann Magnuson, the Brothers Quay, Jonathan Demme, Bill Irwin, and Laure Anderson. For me, the program, which aired between 1985 and 1996, was a wonderful introduction to many avant-garde artists and filmmakers. Above is Laurie Anderson's "What You Mean We?" that first aired on September 6, 1986.

Here's a New York Times article about the episode from the time: "TV: Laurie Anderson Performs"

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Puppeteer Caroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch), RIP

Legendary puppeteer Carroll Spinney, who brought Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life on Sesame Street, died today. He was 85. Here's the New York Times obituary. And from the Sesame Workshop:

Caroll was an artistic genius whose kind and loving view of the world helped shape and define Sesame Street from its earliest days in 1969 through five decades, and his legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending. His enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his lovably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while.

In 2018, Spinney retired from Sesame Street. Below is Sesame Workshop's video tribute to him and the following is from a New York Times profile from the time:

Although they had previously crossed paths in the 1960s, Spinney pinpointed a fateful encounter at a Salt Lake City puppeteers’ festival in 1969, when (Muppets creator Jim) Henson watched him try to perform a multimedia show that went gradually awry.

As Spinney recalled, Henson came to him afterward to say, “I liked what you were trying to do.”

Soon after, Henson invited Spinney to play two Muppet characters that were being developed for “Sesame Street,” which made its debut on public television later that year. One was Oscar, who was envisioned as a cranky, trash-loving purple character. (He was orange in his earliest appearances, before taking on his familiar green hue.)

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Watch this funny and curiously compelling Bad Lip Reading spin-off of Stranger Things

Given that by the time we see a new season of Stranger Things the kids will probably be in college, this will have to do! That's ok because, as Steve Harrington says, "Hair is here!"

In this week's episode, Mike investigates a crime, while Nancy wonders about the gift Steve gave her.

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The time Mikhail Gorbachev starred in a Pizza Hut commercial

In 1997, Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, needed some cash. So he made a Pizza Hut commercial. Of course there was more to the story than that, but not really so much. He reportedly received $1 million for the spot. "I thought that it is a people' s matter -- food," Gorbachev told the New York Times after the filming. "This is why if my name works for the benefit of consumers, to hell with it -- I can risk it." Over at Foreign Policy, Paul Musgrave tells the tale:

Gorbachev had suffered the same fate as many Soviet retirees, who had looked forward to generous pensions only to find themselves forced to hustle and scrape to get by as the Russian economy collapsed around them—shrinking by 30 percent between 1991 and 1998. The foundation, too, was tottering, with even Gorbachev’s significant lecture fees unable to sustain both his family and the foundation and its staff, let alone any projects he might want to pursue to leave a legacy. Even generous donations from Ted Turner only went so far.

Gorbachev was determined to stay in Russia and fight for reform, not to take up a life of well-compensated exile abroad. To do that, he would need money to fund his center, his staff, and his activities—urgently. As Gorbachev later told France 24 when asked about the ad, “I needed to finish the building. The workers started to leave—I needed to pay them...”

(After months of negotiations,) Gorbachev finally assented—with conditions.

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The Mandalorian: All the times they say 'bounty puck' and 'tracking fob' in the first episode on Disney+

Congratulations to Disney on the exciting new merchandising opportunity of bounty pucks.

I swear these are three different scenes:

And if bounty pucks don't prove popular, there's the less sophisticated tracking fob:

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Warrior nuns and body horror in the trailer for the BBC's "reinvention" of Dracula

The upcoming Dracula miniseries is written by Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and sounds like it'll have us rooting for the sexy villain:

They’ve made him the hero of the show, the protagonist – though still just as nasty. He has no moral dilemmas, he just wants to eat people. A creature who has seen empires rise and fall, who has seen it all before and who likes humanity – they are his food source after all. And by now he’s become quite a connoisseur of humanity.

Here's the first trailer:

Dracula will premiere on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix outside of the UK and Ireland. "Episodes will be directed by Jonny Campbell, Damon Thomas and Paul McGuigan, whose impressive list of credits include Westworld, Killing Eve and Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, respectively." Read the rest

Interview with the real Joker

 

Above, a 1966 interview with the best of all Jokers, the inimitable Cesar Romero who camped it up for the Batman TV series (1966-1968) and subsequent theatrical film. Romero famously refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role so they just slathered the white greasepaint right over his whiskers. (Interview with Romero starts at about 3:36, but watch from the beginning to catch an interview with Julie "Catwoman" Newmar.)

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Supercut of Wilford Brimley saying "Diabeetus" contrasted against other people saying "Diabetes"

Behold the master in enunciation outclass the mediocrities that surround him.

Previously in Diabeetus: Cat resembling Wilford Brimley skilled in art of playing "death by diabeetus" Read the rest

Gil Gerard joins another TV show about an astronaut who returns home centuries late

Gil Gerard, star of the fantastic 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century' has joined '2491' as an actor and producer. '2491' was inspired by the fantastic Buck Rogers series.

Hollywood Reporter:

Former Buck Rogers in the 25th Century star Gil Gerard has come aboard a sci-fi project that wants to recapture the spirit of the late 1970s-early 1980s NBC series.

The actor will be an executive producer and series regular on 2491, a drama from creator Salvatore Verini (FYI's Country Daze). Verini grew up as a fan of the Gerard-led show and says the new project was influenced by it — down to the title, which refers to the year 20th-century astronaut Buck Rogers returned to a future Earth on the series.

Like Buck Rogers, 2491 "will follow an astronaut as he is catapulted into the future and returns to an Earth far different than the one he left behind," Verini said Monday in a statement. “But the protagonist will follow a direction more the way [Gerard] was originally pushing for Buck to go back in the '80s."

The Buck Rogers title is tied up in a copyright battle involving a question of whether the original source material, a series of stories by Philip Francis Nowlan that began in 1928, is in the public domain.

I love the Philip Francis Nowlan stories, but the TV series was very different. Read the rest

RFID implicated in live-streamed poker cheating scandal

Seems a pro-poker player, Mike Postle, has achieved impossible-seeming results. Other players have put hours upon hours upon hours into analyzing his baffling play. It is like watching someone play with perfect information, they claim!

While nothing definitive has been found, Stones Gambling Hall, a live poker site where the questionable Postle has spent a lot of time live streaming, has stopped using RFID chipped playing cards and hired an investigator.

Spying isn't just for governments!

CNBC:

It’s not just that Postle is winning, it’s how he’s winning, that is drawing suspicion. Ingram, Berkey and others have spent hours reviewing hands Postle played and found several times where Postle made a fold or a call that wouldn’t seem “right” but happened to work out in his favor.

Berkey said Postle made plays no pro would ever make, and he did them often, and they worked. Poker is a game of incomplete information. Berkey said Postle played “as if he had perfect information.”

Stones Gambling Hall said it has hired an independent investigator to look into the accusations.

In a statement Stones Gambling Hall said: “We temporarily halted all broadcasts from Stones. We have also, as a result, halted the use of RFID playing cards.”

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Watch MSNBC's Chris Hayes unintentionally coin a new euphemism for masturbation

"Shaking the champagne bottle." Read the rest

J. Michael Mendel, producer of "Rick and Morty" and "The Simpsons," RIP

J. Michael Mendel, beloved producer of "Rick and Morty" and "The Simpsons," has died just two days before turning 55 years old. The cause of his death has not been made public. He is survived by his wife, casting director Juel Bestrop, and two children. From CNN:

Mendel worked on Fox's The Tracey Ullman Show, on which "The Simpsons" began its life as a recurring segment, before moving to the independent series.

He helped to create 207 episodes of "The Simpsons" over his time on the show, winning Emmys in 1995, 1997 and 1997. Mendel then produced 22 episodes of "Rick and Morty," winning a fourth Emmy for his work last year.

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Watch this Coleco Adam home computer commercial starring Lori Loughlin (1984)

In this 1984 TV commercial for Coleco's failed Adam home computer, Lori Laughlin observes a young fellow able to power through his school assignment thanks to the magic of word processing. Laughlin asks, "Is that legal?" Ahem.

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Gilligan's Island's S.S. Minnow was named as an insult to the chair of the FCC

Gilligan's Island creator Sherwood Schwartz named the ill-fated S.S. Minnow after the then-chair of the FCC who Schwartz said "ruined television." Read the rest

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