1.Would movie theaters sell even more popcorn if they offered no-cal ‘I Can’t Believe its Not Butter’ as a topping? 2. I always carry my own 0%fat butter spritzer to the movies! Sometimes patrons look at me weird hearing the pumping sound coming out of my lap. 3. How long until Mayor Bloomberg requires mandatory no-fat topping in all theaters?!? 4. Over and over conservatives gripe about ‘taking responsibility’. ‘Take responsibility for your own retirement!’ ‘Take responsibility for your own healthcare!’ Can someone remind me who took responsibility for the phony WMD evidence in Iraq? Or the financial meltdown that left millions unemployed? I know who benefited from these disasters but I can’t find a record of who took responsibility for them… 5. “Girls’ is the most original new program on television, IMO. It is shocking, heartbreakingly sad, hilariously funny, outrageous and depressing all at once. 6. How many viewers were all set to hate the ‘girls’ on ‘Girls’? They came from privileged families with celebrity parents (the daughters of Brian Williams, David Mamet, well known rock and rollers and artists)…but I have to admit they are damn good actresses as well. 7. Why do the hosts on FoxNews seem like high school: (Steve Doocey (annoying drama club president), Bill O’Reilly (school bully), Sean Hannity (football team quarterback), Megyn Kelly (captain cheerleading squad), Alan Colmes (geeky valedictorian who gets pushed in the bushes) while the hosts on MSNBC seem like Graduate School: Rachel Maddow: (snarky Graduate TA), Chris Hayes (wonky grad student), Lawrence O’Donnell (self-righteous Dean of Students), Martin Bashir (brainy foreign exchange student). 8. Something I just learned: Abraham Lincoln was the only president to hold a patent. Want to know what he invented? Look it up. (Hint: It had to do with beached boats.) 9. If Mitt Romney wore two-tone saddle shoes to match his hair would it catch on like Pat Boone‘s white bucks? (boy, how old do you have to be to remember that!) Has any popular male figure created a shoe fad since Beatle Boots? (excluding Michael Jordan) 10. When did Ann Romney become a bright blonde and how come no one noticed? 11. Why do I always imagine Antonin Scalia wearing a lobster bib eagerly awaiting dinner? 12. It was sad, like vacation-ending-sad, when I watched the last episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ and realized it would be a year before I returned to King’s Landing. 13. I haven’t had a cigarette in two months and my blood pressure has dropped almost 10 points. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 14. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Did they ever get around to repealing the Congressional resolution renaming French fries Freedom Fries? Shouldn’t they repeal that first? 15. ‘Awake’ had the worst ending for the best new series on broadcast TV. Of course, if it hadn’t been cancelled at the last minute there would have been no sucky ending. 16. The best acting I saw all year was on TCM: the movie ‘DINNER AT EIGHT’ (1932) with Marie Dressler and John Barrymore. Each had a scene that took my breath away. I ran the scenes back, watching them again to make sure they were that good. They were. And the movie itself, a Chekovian ensemble of the destitute and nouveau riche keeping up appearances is so appropriate to OUR times. 17. When apartments sell for $88 million and $100 million to Russian oligarchs and Arab billionaires don’t tell me it has no affect on rents surrounding them in Manhattan. 18. I never had professional psycho-analysis but old girlfriends did a pretty good job. Dana Delaney: “You have parts of Jeffrey AND Brian in you. You exaggerate the part that’s like Jeffrey. You ignore the parts that are like Brian.”Heidi Ettinger (Landesman): “Richard, you think if you’re having a bad day you should be able to walk down to the newsstand and see the newspaper headline declaring: ‘Richard’s having a bad day!” Joan Pirkle (Smith): “You don’t act like you’re G-d’s gift to women; you act as if women were G-d’s gift to you!”19. Something I just learned: The last living witness to Lincoln’s assassination was on the TV show ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ in 1956. He remembered being upset that John Wilkes Booth had hurt himself leaping from the balcony to the stage. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_iq5yzJ-Dk 20. Something else I just learned: Japanese-Americans live longer on average than Japanese citizens living in Japan (and I learned this from a wacky right-wing talk show host!) 21. If a corporation is 20% owned by a foreign investor, say a sheik or a Russian oligarch, and the corporation donates money to an American political campaign: are foreigners helping to influence an American election? 22. How come anti-immigration zealots don’t seem to get upset by dual citizenship when dual citizens are Israeli or Irish? 23. If I wore a hoody from the old TV show ‘Just Shoot Me’ would I deserve to be shot for wearing a hoody? 24. The older I get the more I realize the most expensive thing I’ve acquired during my lifetime was a conscience. 25. The older I get (and the older Kyle gets) the more I understand why my mother always said: “I wish you and your brothers were little again!” 26. The older I get the more I understand you cannot love life without loving transience. 27. Thinking back to the time when Herman Cain was top candidate for the Republican presidential nomination: doesn’t it seem now like an unreal bad dream? 28. I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world and experienced unforgettable meals but is there anything better than a Dairy Queen Blizzard? 29. Now that we ‘reboot’ movie series like ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Batman’, can we reboot presidential candidates as well? I’d love to experience that naïve rush of believing in hope and change again!! 30. The ocean in Florida has more than fifty shades. Every evening at dusk I go to the beach to read and each evening it is a different color: lagoon blue or lime or turquoise or sky-blue or gray or sapphire or white-capped. Its different every evening and must have fifty shades of gray alone…31. I went to five colleges: UNH, UCSB, UCBerkeley and Yale but when I dream about college I’m always on campus at Santa Barbara. 32. There is an American fantasy that financial moguls must be SMARTER than the rest of us. After all, they were intelligent enough to make all that money. There are some, I’m sure, who are above average in intelligence but anyone who has lived through the last five years should realize many aren’t more intelligent. They are more ruthless, more reckless, less conscious ridden than the rest of us. This American myth made it easier for them to get away with their crimes. 33. Financial moguls who go bust are like Ann Curry: On Friday the market values you at tens of millions, on Monday: “Out with the traife!” 34. Speaking of network morning hosts: Savannah Guthrie looks like she’s being tortured each morning on the Today Show. She can’t even make believe she’s interested in making Martha Stewart’s pinto bean/guacamole parfait! And she’s a lawyer, why should she? 35. When will NBC realize the problem is not his female co-hosts but Matt Lauer. He is a neutral shade that needs strong colors surrounding him. His success is not in spite of his blandness but because of it. 36. Hey, NBC: Where is J. Fred Muggs when you need him? 37. My brother Jeffrey once told me remonstrating over my poor career choices: “You could have been the next Matt Lauer. Instead you’re the next Soupy Sales!” He was wrong. I could never do what Matt does. And I loved Soupy Sales! 37. When I met Mitt Romney in a greasy spoon on 55th street in December not one person in the place recognized him. I often wonder if those people would know who he was today. 38. When has Paul Krugman (the stimulus is too small, inflation will stay restrained, austerity stifles growth etc.) been wrong about the American economy? 39. When has Lawrence Kudlow (the Bush ‘Goldilocks Economy‘, the Celtic Tiger) been right? 40. In the same vein: “The Irish economy is showing encouraging signs of recovery!” The Cato Institute, June 2010. ‘Nuff said. 41. No matter how many times conservatives quote him on the cable news shows, Obama never promised the stimulus would bring unemployment down below 8%. He never said it. NEVER. (Christina Roehmer did make that prediction base upon incorrect projections on the economic damage but that’s not as effective a political statement.) 42. Excuse me, but if I remember the last three years correctly, the economy DID begin to improve after the stimulus. 43. I usually finish the Sunday New York Times by Wednesday. 44. I save the Book Review, (my favorite section) for last. Can I make one of those obnoxious commercials? 45. I still read the Style section for the wedding announcements but its been years since I’ve seen someone I know. 46. The last wedding announcement where I personally knew someone getting married was comedienne Marilyn Michaels. 47. I haven’t watched a Sunday morning network news program in years. I listen to every single one by podcast and don’t miss a thing visually. 48. ‘Up with Chris Hayes’ and ‘The Chris Matthews Show’ are not podcast so I guess I should amend that! 49. I might read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY if someone tells me its better written than THE STORY OF O. 50. So again: why are the days so short in Florida?
In 1983, I was two years into my television career when I was offered the hosting job on HBO’s PREVIEW WEEKEND with Karen Morris-Gowdy as co-host. HBO used to free up its signal for a weekend, usually around Labor Day to entice new subscribers offering music concerts and the latest movies (there were no weekly series yet). In fact, HBO only began broadcasting a 24 hour seven day a week schedule the year before I hosted this show which was part sales pitch, part TV guide for the weekend schedule.
Karen Morris-Gowdy was my co-host and on set I tried to hide how flabbergasted I was by her beauty. She was also sweet, gracious and easy to work with. We shot for two days and on the second morning I arrived early and ran into a gal, dressed in jeans, no makeup, hair under a bandanna who had a great personality and sense of humor. We talked back and forth for about ten minutes and I didn’t realize that it was Karen until we sat in our makeup chairs. I can still FEEL how embarrassed I was (dork that I was I told her I hadn’t realized it was her!)…but she didn’t mind at all. She thought it was funny. Karen was from Wyoming, the daughter in law of sports broadcaster Curt Gowdy and though she had been America’s Junior Miss a decade before, she was completely unpretentious and unmindful of her great beauty (do women like that exist anymore?)
Oddly enough, Matt Lauer, with whom I would play TV musical chairs years later, was subsequently the host of an HBO PREVIEW WEEKEND after my stint.
You can watch this Flashback here:
I know. How could I praise one of the Koch brothers?!? I shudder every time I walk into Lincoln Center and see David Koch‘s name on the wall. David and Charles Koch are notorious for supporting extreme right wing causes including the Tea Party. If you are progressive they are the most dangerous corporatist bete-noirs of our age.
David and Charles are the most (in)famous of the clan but many people don’t know that there are actually four Koch brothers, the sons of an engineer who discovered a better way to retrieve gasoline from refining heavy oil early in the Twentieth-Century. Actually, two of the brothers are twins, David and Bill, but as the Village Voice pointed out in a 2011 profile: “In the shadow of his brothers’ Tea Party fame, Bill Koch seems almost like a normal billionaire.” Which doesn’t mean we share an obvious affinity. In 2010, Forbes Magazine estimated Bill Koch’s wealth at $3.4 billion and he uses those billions to support Republican candidates and stifle renewable energy projects among other things. No Thurston Howell, he also is an amateur yachtsman who blew $65 million to win the Americas Cup in 1992.
But another of his hobbies is one that interests me: preservation of historical artifacts. Bill Koch buys and collects American Western memorabilia and artwork and he has a collection that will knock your socks off. You may have read that he recently bought the the only existing photo of BILLY THE KID for $2.3 million.But that is just the cherry on the sundae. His collection includes stagecoaches, wagons, rifles, Native American clothing and weaponry, Custer’s guidon (military flag) recovered from THE LITTLE BIG HORN, Custer’s yellow deerskin glove, a lock of his goldenhair, his folding chair, Sitting Bull’s breast plate and rifle worn at the battle, the gun that shot Jesse James, Pat Garret’s folding rifle that was in his hands when he was gunned down, actual Indian scalps (!) hanging from spears, memorabilia from Western brothels, saddles, Wyatt Earp’s vest and the Marshall’s star pinned to it, a vast array of cowboy hats, chaps and boots, 150 antique guns and knives-many belonging to famous outlaws and lawmen, a Howitzer cannon from 1867 and a large plexiglass case filled with gold nuggets mined in the West that must be worth a fortune just in itself! And then there is the artwork: original sculptures and paintings from Remington and Russell, Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, sepia photos and landscapes.
Bill Koch lives in Palm Beach (not far from David Koch). I can’t imagine how he keeps this collection (1.5 million objects) in his home, (like Fibber McGee’s closet?!?), but for a few months much of it was exhibited at the Four Square Arts Center in Palm Beach and I had a chance to see it. The museum was bursting with memorabilia and art to the point that some of it had to be hung in the hallway while wagons and coaches were set outside on the lawn of the museum.
Clearly this avalanche of artifacts could be overwhelming but breaking it into smaller displays made it easier to digest. These divisions include Native Americans, Women in the West, Mining, Saloon, The Brothel, Cowboy Life, Economic Growth and Migration, Indian Wars and Firearms.
It is jaw dropping to be inches away from the pennant recovered from the Custer-Sitting Bull Battlefield and to actually touch the table where Billy the Kid’s corpse rested after his assasination, but there were many unexpected things I found here as well.
After Dodge City, Bat Masterson became a newspaperman in NYC. He died in 1921, not in a gunfight but slumped over a typewriter writing his last editorial. His final words included these: “There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I’ll swear I can’t see it that way.” Wow! A progressive message preserved and promoted by a Koch brother!
The gun collection here is awesome, from rifles to derringers to pepperboxes and revolvers. One can viscerally understand how firearms became indelibly linked to the American experience. I’m not a gun nut, (although my brother is!) yet I was struck by the artistic beauty and craftsmanship of these pieces.
I hadn’t thought about the pepperbox in years. Pepper-box revolvers have multiple barrels that revolve about a central axis and there were several odd looking, fascinating examples here. Some derringers were so small you could hide them in the palm of your hand.
I was also shocked to see how closely my own toy gun from childhood resembled the actual Colt 45 Peacemaker, even down to the metal engraving and pearl handled grip.For my generation Western mythology was a big part of our childhoods. I remember how much we cherished that old air rifle. The barrel was blocked so it could not shoot out anything dangerous but there was a way to pour baby oil into a small barrel hole so it would waft smoke. That seemed so neat! And, boy did it make a LOUD bang! One day my brother (another brother, not the one with the guns) swung it like Davy Crockett when we got into a fight with neighborhood toughs. The neighborhood kids used to play cowboys (no Indians) dividing into rival teams from Eggert Place and Dickens Avenue, sneaking up and ambushing the other team. And I remember the night we were caught, roped and tied to the monkey bars in the playground until our parents came to rescue us for dinner!
The Wild West inhabited a large part of our imaginations growing up and yet it seems to hardly exist for kids growing up today. Comic book super heroes have taken its place. Will that change in childhood role modeling, divorced from national history and actual heroism, make a difference to this new generation of Americans as they grow into adults?
The Palm Beach exhibit was open only a few months but this collection really cries out for a museum of its own. If we are lucky, Bill Koch will bequeath one someday as a legacy. I may abhor his brother’s name on Lincoln Center but I wouldn’t mind passing through the doors of a Western museum with Bill Koch’s name on it. Its not like he just wrote a check. He spent time, money and effort to gather all these important artifacts in one place and I have to admit, many of my favorite museums (The Frick, The Gardiner, the Neue, The Barnes, the Getty) were created by wealthy robber barons, businessmen and socialites. Collections like these, motivated by personal passions also display a unique individual taste and touch often lacking in professionally curated museums.
Finally, in an interview about this exhibit Bill Koch admitted: “Collecting all this stuff, I’ve become somewhat anti-Manifest Destiny.”
Which might indicate that even for a Koch brother there is hope for personal growth.
A few weeks ago I was in NYC for the premiere of a new movie at the Tribeca Film Festival. ‘EVOCATEUR’ is a documentary about Morton Downey Jr., the volcanic right wing talk show host from the late eighties. Last year in Miami I taped an hour and a half interview for the film. With a movie you never know how things will end up and although I took friends along I warned them that I just might pop up on screen for a brief soundbite. I’d said the same thing to friends before the premiere of ‘Bruno’ and was pleasantly surprised when I turned up in a five-minute scene. On the other hand I worked with Clint Eastwood for a week on ‘Magnum Force’ and was completely cut from the final print (yet I STILL get residuals!). Ya just never know… There were interviews and photos on the red carpet but as we entered the theater one of the producers grabbed my arm and warned: “Prepare yourself. You’re in a lot of this movie.” And surprisingly, I was. I wasn’t one of Mort’s close friends. I didn’t directly work with him. But I did have a good crow’s nest view of his rise and fall.
I knew Morton from Channel 9 where we shared a studio; I hosted PEOPLE ARE TALKING live in the mornings and at night they would push my set back, roll his in from the opposite end and tape his show. We had lunch together the first day he showed up at work and a year and a half later I was in that same cafeteria when word flew through the building he was cancelled. We did go carousing and drinking together a few times and the first time I went to ELAINE’S it was at Mort’s invitation to sit round his table. Shortly after his cancellation I was sitting next to him the night he punched Stuttering John in the face and smashed his tape recorder! (Which oddly is not in the film.) The movie is very well crafted with jaw dropping clips from the broadcast and graphic-novel style animation that pushes the story sublimely beyond reality. Some may have a problem with the use of animation in a documentary but as one who was there, albeit on the periphery, the era did seem surreal and the animation is true to that spirit if not the literal truth. The movie paints an unsympathetic picture of a very troubled man, haunted by Oedipal issues, lashing out at the world. Yet like many out of control celebrities and rock stars there was something vulnerable, wounded and child-like about him despite the bullying, despite the insensitivity to others. And of course, there was charisma, at least for awhile. There is still a theatrical excitement to watching Mort, an electric and thrilling spontaneity. I don’t think we’ll be saying the same about Limbaugh or Beck in twenty years.
The movie draws parallels to modern political media but doesn’t belabor them. On this issue I was quoted in The Daily Beast: “In our culture, we always had one guy who was an off-the-wall conservative, like Mort,” TV host and Downey pal Richard Bey told The Daily Beast. “Back then, people didn’t take them seriously—they were P.T. Barnums of conservatism. But now you have a whole party that is of that ilk. People take our modern versions of this political commentary—Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh—seriously, and even worse, politicians take them seriously.”
It was great to see Mort’s in-studio bodyguard Dave Giegold, who just a few years later held the same job on THE RICHARD BEY SHOW. He looked great and pretty much the same as he did 15 years ago pulling overheated guests apart on air. Sally Jesse Raphael was there too but avoided me like the plague.
As Mort’s career ascends the movie is exhilarating, surprising and energized. As he self-destructs its a sad story and less engaging. I never saw someone rise and crash so quickly in this business. He made Brett Butler’s TV career look like Lucille Ball’s. As I say in the movie: ‘He rose like a rocket and he fell like a stick”. From beginning to end the MORTON DOWNEY SHOW lasted a little over a year and a half.
In the end this is not the kind a car crash that fascinates oglers. Watching Morton, cancer stricken through sagging, dying flesh renounce chain smoking and anger is like watching George Wallace paralyzed in a wheel chair, grasp the hand of his black nurse and renounce racism. Both men saw the light but there’s more painful pathos than satisfaction in seeing someone find it so late, far too late.
The film ends at his funeral, where its noted considering his tremendous popularity and fan base, there is a paucity of mourners. Ironically, ‘MORT’ is the French word for death.
Spoiler alert: The truth about Morton’s alleged bathroom attack by neo-Nazi’s is conclusively revealed by his best friend and its just what you’d expect.
After the movie I spoke with this best friend for a few moments. “Off camera Mort always seemed like a nice guy to me,” I told him. “Generous, friendly, always giving gifts, picking up tabs. It just seemed to me that this whole process overwhelmed him, carried him off like a tidal wave. He couldn’t handle it. Like Lindsey Lohan. Or like a miner who strikes gold after twenty years and blows it all in a night at Miss Kitty’s Saloon & Whorehouse.”
Mort’s best friend seized my forearm and stared at me intently: “You’re wrong, Richard. He was not a nice man. He was not a nice man at all. He was a very, very bad man…and I could tell you stories.”
This was from his best friend.
And as I said, I was only in the crows nest.
For more information about funeral plans, just click here.
Some of the best scenes from The Richard Bey Show!
This was the second of two promotional videos sent out to show why The Richard Bey Show would be a good addition to a station’s lineup. Along with commentary from Richard, the video includes numerous “best of” moments from the show.
This was a promotional video sent out to show why The Richard Bey Show would be a good addition to a station’s lineup. Richard Bey and producers provide commentary. Video includes numerous “best of” moments from the show!
It’s a battle of fashion and style! A battle of manner and attitude! It’s the battle between preppies and guidettes! The guidettes have big hair, big nails, and big mouths, and this is their chance to take on the preppies! Each side makes their case to the audience then the “The Great Conversion” happens where preppies turn into guidettes and guidettes turn into preppies! Spoiler alert: hot preppies!!!
You’re going to hear stories today from couples that are unsure of where their relationship is going. Terry is a newlywed who wants to know if her husband has ever cheated on her. Qourmina suspects her boyfriend of having a child with another woman! Theresa is pregnant with twins and suspects her husband of cheating on her with a coworker. Laura always hears about her husband picking up women at bars. One lucky liar goes for a spin on the Wheel of Torture!
They’ve come from trailer parks from all across America, but only one will be crowned “Queen of the Trailer Park”! Vicky’s life in the trailer park turned ugly when she refused to go out with the park owner! Darlene’s neighbors accused her of being a hooker! Sheila has lived in ten trailer parks, and one of her neighbors would peep on her and her husband having sex! Misty was in her trailer when a tornado hit! Kimberly says that “trailer trash” comes to her trailer to steal her stuff!