Wednesday, April 8, 2009

'sNewz occasional series mentioning current events which lately held my interest...

As the economy continues its free-fall, 3M, the company responsible for Scotch Tape and Post-Its, has joined the growing ranks of companies laying off hundreds and hundreds of workers. The employees in the Paris branch, however, did not take the pink slips lightly. They kidnapped their boss and held him hostage for days, attempting to force 3M to increase severance packages. The astonishing aspect of this story is this: apparently, this kind of thing is not all that unusual in France. Executives are often "non-violently detained" as hostages during labor disputes. As a member of several labor unions myself, I applaud this negotiating tool.

Did you hear they are planning a new Three Stooges movie? It's not a biography of the comedy team, but an actual film starring the Three Stooges, recast with current movie stars. Get a load of this dream team:

Apparently, Benicio Del Toro will be playing the VERBOSE one. Does anybody think this is a good idea? I am not, repeat NOT, a fan of the Three Stooges, whose comedy consisted of whacking each other over the head and making stupid noises. They were no Marx Brothers, that's for sure. Still, this casting Of course, the casting of Steve Martin to play Inspector Clouseau sounded right, and look how that turned out...

I'm not sure what to think here: Broadway giants Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber (did you know they have the same birthday?) are both considering adapting well-known films into musicals. Sondheim's done this before, turning Swedish film Smiles of a Summer Night into A Little Night Music; this time, he's chosen Groundhog Day. Really? Groundhog Day? Well, if it's Sondheim, there must be something in the original piece that's, you know, original. I confess I've never seen it. I don't think I've ever seen a Bill Murray movie all the way through, except Tootsie. Is Groundhog Day the one with the Baby Ruth candy bar floating in the swimming pool? Wait, maybe that's Caddyshack...

(Can't leave this topic without a quick kudo to the late Lois Kibbee, pictured above, who was one of the grande dames of daytime drama, but who will forever be remembered for this reaction to that wayward candy bar...)

Lloyd Webber has chosen a more iconic film to screw up. Even as his Phantom of the Opera sequel, The Phantom Goes to Coney Island, seems to be heading down the tracks directly toward us, he has picked up the rights to, get this, The Wizard of Oz. There have been a dozen or more different stage treatments of that flick, including attempts to simply put the movie onstage. But Webber thinks they have all been bunk. He believes the film must be restructured to more adequately fulfill the requirements of a stage musical. It has no opening number, for example (I guess we should look forward to a big hootenanny with the Gale farmhands), or big numbers for the Wizard or the Witch. Webber plans to keep several of the film's Harold Arlen classics, and rewrite the rest. There are rumors that the role of Dorothy will be cast via a reality show (the Brits have used that technique for West End revivals of Sound of Music and Joseph's Dreamcoat, and Broadway saw its own version when the leads for the recent Grease were cast in a reality show format). There are even rumors that one of the judges for this one will be Liza Minnelli.

What, Lorna Luft refused to participate? I think I'm melting.

Hey, this guy passed away last week:


Don't recognize him? He started his career as a CIA agent, but then morphed into a journalist, a failed politician (he lost a bid for California Lieutenant Governor in 1966), and, as the first co-host of Crossfire opposite Pat Buchanan, is credited with creating the now-common routine of pairing a liberal and a conservative on a talk show and letting them scream at each other.

Still don't recognize him? You probably know him better as this guy:

Braden's syndicated newspaper column regarding his home life, which became a memoir, was sold to television in the 70s and became Eight is Enough. At age 92, he had led a full life, but perhaps he was pushed over the edge at the news that former teen idol and Eight is Enough star Willie Aames went so broke he held a garage sale in Kansas City last month.

I've got some sympathy for Aames, who was a fairly big star in his heyday (he was also a regular on Charles in Charge). He has apparently struggled with substance abuse, and after his wife of 22 years threw him out of the house, he attempted suicide. Perhaps he's trying his best to get his act together (the fact that there was a film crew on hand to film the garage sale tells us he knows a little something about publicity).

But here's a guy for whom I am having trouble feeling much sympathy. Redmond O'Neal was busted over the weekend, yet again, for felony drug possession. He's been in rehab a dozen times, and I am deeply sorry that his mother, Farrah Fawcett, is apparently losing her battle with cancer. At this moment, with his mother back in the hospital, you would think the family's energy should all be focused there. But Redmond is a guy whose brother Griffin was once arrested for chaining him to the banister to keep him from leaving the house to buy drugs. And of course, sister Tatum's struggles with addiction are well-known, as are those of patriarch Ryan. So maybe there is something to that theory that there is an "addiction gene." But is there one for simple stupidity? Redmond (who admittedly has one of the perkier mugshots of the O'Neal clan) was arrested for heroin possession on Sunday, as he was going INTO the LA County Jail to visit an inmate.

Really, how stupid do you have to be, to walk into a police station carrying heroin?