Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008






Screen writer Abby Mann, who wrote the script for The Marcus-Nelson Murders, which led to the creation of the television series Kojak starring Telly Savales, passed away this past Tuesday in Beverly Hills. The cause of death is listed as heart failure. Mann was eighty years old.

Mann was perhaps best known for writing the script for Judgment At Nuremberg. Originally produced as a television drama in 1959, Judgement At Nuremberg was turned into a feature film in 1961 (directed by Stanley Kramer) for which Mann received a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar ©.

In his acceptance speech, Mann is quoted as saying:

"A writer worth his salt at all has an obligation not only to entertain but to comment on the world in which he lives."

Mann lived up to this quote, often writing about controversial subjects and issues of social importance. Mann created and executive produced Kojak, one of the first socially conscious television cop dramas. Mann wrote many of the most controversial episodes and would go on to revive the series in 2005 with Ving Rhames in the role made famous by Telly Savales.

Some of Mann’s other writing credits include the screenplays for the television films, The Atlanta Child Murders, Murderers Among Us: The Simon Weisenthal Story, and Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story.

Coincidentally, he died one day after Richard Widmark, one of the stars of Judgment at Nuremberg.



Shirley Bassey, the Welsh diva with the big, brassy voice behind the best of the James Bond themes (Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker, and the iconic Goldfinger) is still hitting it out of the park at 70 years young.

Her latest CD release, Get The Party Started, proves Bassey still swings, while giving her a crack at another James Bond theme, You Only Live Twice, and a new song (a certified hit in England), The Living Tree, which is a James Bond theme in search of a Bond movie to represent.

Bassey’s take on You Only Live Twice on this CD is not the traditional take from the first time she covered the theme. Here. She gives it a Brazilian lounge lilt, which I really liked, but hasn’t made the grade for Bond purists.

Still, between the remixed cover of Pink’s Get The party Started, a strong remix of one of Bassey’s traditional hits, Big Spender, and the original and powerful The Living Tree, this is a CD with a lot to love.

Bassey may be 70, but she still sounds as effortless, bold, and brassy as when she was at the peak of her career. I fell in love with Bassey from my first exposure to Goldfinger, and all theses years later the love affair continues.




(just kidding, honey... honey?)




(just kidding, honey... honey?)



Katharine McPhee may be making a bigger splash with her second album (hopefully, it will not be as pop insipid at the first). She is currently working on the new album featuring collaborations with Canadian songwriter/mega-producer David Foster -- who is also working with Renee Olstead and has worked with Michael Buble (and almost anybody who is anybody in the music industry).

Katharine McPhee has also been named as the new spokesperson for Neutrogena. The American Idol finalist has signed a two-year endorsement deal with the skincare brand to become the new flawless face of their anti-acne product range.

“We are delighted to confirm that actress-singer Katharine McPhee is working with Neutrogena on an innovative new project that brings consumers the next generation of skincare,” a spokesperson from the company told E!

The 24-year-old singer joins the ranks of other beautiful young ladies such as Jennifer Garner, Hayden Panettiere, Mischa Barton, Vanessa Hudgens and Jennifer Love Hewitt, who have all endorsed Neutrogena in the past.
Katharine, who tied the knot to Nick Cokas in February, has already shot the first ads in Los Angeles last week, which are expected to be shown from May.

Thursday, March 27, 2008



More news from Tanner @ www.doubleosection.blogspot.com:

If you're flying United anytime soon, you're in luck: the next issue of their in-flight magazine, Hemispheres, will feature lots of James Bond content--including a brand new, exclusive interview with the notoriously recalcitrant Sir Sean Connery talking about his most famous role!

The issue, timed to celebrate Ian Fleming's Centenary, will also feature a story on 007's enduring popularity by noted Bondologist John Cork, co-author of most of the officially-sanctioned books on the Bond films (including last fall's The James Bond Encyclopedia), producer on most of the special edition DVDs in the series (as well as those excellent Charlie Chan sets Fox has been putting out!) and ersatz publisher of his own magazine, the fondly-remembered Goldeneye.

And on top of all that, Hemispheres' managing editor Spencer Carney promises "a lot more" Bond content to boot, but it's unclear whether or not Bond's on the cover. The issue will be available on all United flights (complimentary to fliers) starting April 1; the stories (plus added content) will also be online on their website that day. Bond fans who aren't lucky enough to be flying United next month can obtain a copy of the print magazine for $7.50 by calling 877-569-4946.



LOS ANGELES (March 26, 2008) - After hearing that attorneys for former Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olson have mounted a legal challenge to her arrest last week, Los Angeles Police Protective League President Tim Sands released a letter the League sent to Governor Schwarzenegger questioning why Ms. Soliah is getting "kid glove" treatment from his administration.

In the letter, Sands asserts that "[we] do not believe those involved in the taking of another life, or in attempting to kill police officers should be entitled to any special breaks. If being young and stupid were to become a legitimate defense against blowing up police cars and killing bystanders, our society would not survive."

The League is satisfied that Olson was returned to prison, but concerned that it took their objections, as well as protests from other victims, to get the Department of Corrections to review the case file and discover their mistaken calculations.

Click here to view a copy of the letter

Background on Soliah Case

On August 21, 1975, two young LAPD officers, John Hall and James Bryan, narrowly avoided being blown up by a pipe bomb that had been placed under their police car while they dined nearby. Police experts concluded that this bomb, and one planted under a police car parked at Hollenbeck station were cruel and deadly. Made from three-inch pipe and loaded with more than 100 concrete nails for shrapnel, the bombs were crafted to explode as the vehicles pulled out of their parking spots. Had they exploded, there is a good chance that the bombs would have killed not only police officers, but also innocent bystanders.

In October 2001, Sara Jane Olson finally admitted her guilt after years on the run. She was also sentenced on a separate case, the murder of bank customer Myrna Opsahl by a shotgun blast in a botched Carmichael bank robbery that preceded the attempt to kill two police officers. Olson, born Kathleen Ann Soliah, changed her name while on the run.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation initially freed Ms. Soliah over a year earlier than entitled under the law. In addition, they made plans to let her flee California and her serve her parole time in Minnesota , the state she resided in for many years while a fugitive from justice.



Tanner over at
www.doubleosection.blogspot.com gives us the following scoop on the upcoming history of 007 in the comics, The History of the Illustrated 007.

Author Alan J. Porter has updated his blog today with the official solicitation copy and front cover design for his upcoming book on 007 in comics, James Bond: The History of the Illustrated 007. According to the publisher's blurb, "for the first time, the complete history of the illustrated James Bond is chronicled," from comic strips to comic books, the whole world over. The blurb even states that, "The cover of the book presents a never-before-seen painting by noted artist Bob Peak who made a significant contribution to the Bond canon's movie poster art." This seems to confirm Commander Bond Net's story earlier this week touting this concept art as a possible cover design for the book. Due to its unique and fascinating content, this is easily the most anticipated reference work on Bond in a year jam-packed with them!

Porter's 240-page book is already listed for pre-order on Amazon, with a retail price of $29.99 and a release date of September 25, via Hermes Press.



Dipping into the vault for this cult favorite and it’s less popular (but no less deserving) sequel, I’m struck anew by the fact you either love these two films or hate them. Personally, I’m on the love ‘em side for two reasons – star Michael Pare is one of my favorite B-movie, and the soundtrack (courtesy of New Jersey rocker John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band) is classic.

In Eddie and the Cruisers, Ellen Barkin plays Maggie Foley, a reporter interviewing the surviving members of a band who's music is being revived. Eddie Wilson (Pare) was at the top of his game when he drove his car (a turquoise convertible) off a bridge and into the river below. His body was never found (cue ominous music).

Actor Tom Berringer (who actually has top billing in this film) plays Frank Ridgeway – the band member providing Foley with the memories of Eddie while reuniting with old members of the band. Before long, it becomes clear someone is looking for the lost, unpublished tapes of the band's final recording and that someone might be Eddie (cue more ominous music)!

Beyond the melodrama, however, there is an underlying premise to the film – being the recognition of a definitive crossover point between the innocent early rock and roll music of the 1950's and the deeper coming of age sounds of the mid to late sixties. Within the film, the charismatic Eddie has sensed this change, but is unable to convey his vision to those around him.
While Pare has been known to front his own band, it is John Cafferty’s vocals (backed by the Beaver Brown Band) in the performances of On the Dark Side, Tender Years, Down on My Knees, Wild Summer Nights, Boardwalk Angel, and Season in Hell. While Pare is perfect as the pouting, scowling, posing Eddie, it is Cafferty’s music from which the solid Jersey bar-band sound emanates. This is not just Springsteen and The E-Street Band lite, but a sound that should have made Cafferty a huge star instead of a musical footnote. The music is both retro in sound to the 50's and 60's with a contemporary edge, standing the test of time exceptionally well and proving 80's music was not all commercialized-synthesized schlock.

Eddie and the Cruisers came out in 1983 (a year before Streets Of Fire – my favorite Michael Pare film with another GREAT soundtrack). It quickly disappeared from the big screen, but later found a rabid cult following after a bazillion cable showings. Pare never reached his potential as an A-level player, but he has been consistently reliable in a ton of American B-movies and foreign films (he currently lives in Amsterdam). However, in my opinion, the two Eddie And The Cruisers films and Streets Of Fire remain his defining roles.

While not as classic as the original (what sequel ever is outside of the Godfather films?), Eddie And The Cruisers II – Eddie Lives was released in 1989 and is also an enjoyable experience. Is it more of the same? Yes. Does it add anything to the first film? No. Do I care? Absolutely not – all the rock-n-roll posturing of the first film is back and the music still rocks.

The plot is simple -- in the sixties, Eddie and the Cruisers was the hottest band around. But Eddie’s tragic ‘death’ destroyed the band. Of course, Eddie is not dead. He is working as a carpenter in Montreal. When there is a revival of the original band’s music, Eddie’s frustrations and love of performing lead him to create a new band which will have to struggle with its anonymity.

The element making Eddie II stand out from the first film are Eddie's on the mark comments and examples of how to play with feeling and how to swing. Anyone who aspires to play serious electric music should see these films, along with everyone who loves Rock and Roll and/or grew up in the '50s and '60s.

Since it is a sequel film, Eddie II is often passed over by aficionados, but don't let that fool you. While Alan Parker’s The Commitments remains at the vanguard in this genre of film, Eddie And The Cruisers and it’s sequel are enjoyable rock-n-roll fantasies and worth viewing.





As noted earlier this week in this blog, novelist and friend Arthur Lyons recently passed away. Below is an article he wrote for Palm Springs Life magazine in February 1996.


By Arthur Lyons

Ever since Frank and Barbara sold the desert compound, the whole town's been buzzing about the new owner. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why did he buy it? Meet Jim Pattison - who's going to do it his way.

If these walls could talk, what would they be saying? I can't help wondering that as I wait to meet the new owner of the Frank Sinatra compound in Rancho Mirage. Over the years, I'd heard stories about the wild parties held here; the famous houseguests, the goings-on. I can only wonder about the opulence inside.

I wonder, also, about the man who had bought the place when Frank and Barbara decided to leave full-time residency here in the desert and move back closer to the children in Malibu.
All I know at this point is his name, Jim Pattison, and that he's a Canadian from Vancouver and that he plunked down a modest $4.3 million for the property. My curiosity on all points is soon to be satisfied as the gates along Frank Sinatra Drive swing open and I drive through.

After parking in the courtyard in front of the 12-car garage, I'm met by Pattison's assistant, who greets me cordially and leads me through the compound. I realize how lucky I am - few from the press were ever allowed to cover the place during the Sinatra residency.

The first thing that surprises me is the simple, almost barren landscaping. It's vintage desert - sand, rock, ocotillo and cactus. Very little greenery.

The second thing is the...uh, modesty of the place. The whole residence is laid out in a series of one-story bungalows. It looks more like a hotel than a home. The buildings are board-and-batten ranch; the roofs are shake. The look is very Smoke Tree Ranch, the style of desert living (ostentatious in its utter simplicity) begun by such pioneers as Walt Disney.

I'm eventually deposited in a large living room in one of the bungalows that faces tennis courts and a small, blue-tiled swimming pool. Here is where I meet my host, Jim Pattison.

Although Pattison has to be at least 60, he is youthful-looking and casually dressed; a pale blue sports shirt, slacks and a white golfing hat. He is soft-spoken and exudes an aura of self-assurance. Some of that, I learn later, may have come from the fact that he was truly a self-made man. Starting out as a car salesman 34 years ago, Pattison has built The Jim Pattison Group, a business conglomerate that employs 16,000 people and encompasses automobile dealerships, retail stores, manufacturing, entertainment, media, outdoor advertising, and food processing in the Great White North. Sales in 1994 were $3.3 billion.

Pattison is hospitable, but he's a little mystified: Why would anybody be interested in interviewing him, he wonders. I told him how curious we all are about this stranger who came to town and bought the Sinatra residence.

"I'm no stranger," Pattison corrects us. Turns out the man is a bona fide desert rat, having been a resident of Palm Springs since 1975, living in the Canyon area. Twenty years ago, he came to the desert, stayed at "that pink hotel" (The El Mirador) and fell in love immediately.
"I'm a big fan of Winston Churchill," he says. "Churchill always said that the place he liked best in the world was Marrakesh. If he'd seen Palm Springs, he would have liked it even better. I used to come back from Canada as often as I could."

Actually Pattison still lives in the Canyon area, and even though he has bought the Sinatra home, he has no intention of ever moving in. He purchased it for business reasons.

"It suited our purposes," he says. "We hold corporate meetings all over the United States. I thought it would be nicer for people to come here, rather than spend four days at a hotel.
"The Sinatra compound has isolated bungalows so that people who have common interests can meet together and discuss business."

(At the time of my visit, there were 13 people staying in the compound, including the president of Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, an attraction that Pattison owns.)

Did the fact that the Sinatra place belonged to Ol' Blue Eyes affect his decision to buy? "It put a little more sizzle into the deal," he says. "People who come here are interested in Frank Sinatra. It's a definite business advantage."

Perhaps it is because of that advantage that there are still a lot of Sinatra remnants around: In the pillows scattered around the rooms embroidered with Sinatra's favorite sayings like "Don't Get Even, Get Mad," and "You Dirty Rat!!!" In the in-house movie theater where Sinatra entertained his guests with first-run movies, executives of Pattison's car dealership chain now map out selling strategies. In the life-size cutout of Frank, microphone in hand. In the plaques on the bungalow doors that spell out Sinatra's famous hits - "Tender Trap," "New York, New York," "High Hopes" and "All the Way."

As he takes me on a guided tour, Pattison seems proud of the mementos. He leads me from beamed-ceilinged bungalow to beamed-ceilinged bungalow, each tastefully yet simply furnished, many with lavish touches like saunas, massage tables and gym equipment. "I don't know how many bedrooms there are," Jim admits. "But there are 13 bathrooms." Why so much plumbing? "When he built the place, he had each bungalow installed with His and Her bathrooms for his guests' convenience."

We enter a clothes closet which used to be Barbara Sinatra's. Jim laughs at the size of it: "I've stayed in hotel rooms smaller than this."

We pass through a kitchen area that would make a restaurateur jealous, equipped as it is with pizza ovens, stainless steel walk-in fridges. Several cooks are working to prepare lunch for members of Pattison's business empire.

One of the guest bungalows is called The Caboose because that's what it is - a converted train caboose. Next to it are some old railroad memorabilia and a house that contains nothing but electric trains.

Sinatra, it seems, loved electric trains and trains in general. The shelves lining the walls hold a collection of thousands of antique electric train cars. On the table in the center of the room, eight trains run simultaneously, making train noises and puffing smoke.

There is a soft spot in Pattison's heart for trains, too. He is a director of Canadian Pacific. He points out the details of the train on the table with glee. "Look, that car picks up miniature coal, the other dumps it in."

He leads me out to my car for a last look around. Although the compound is perfectly suited for Pattison's uses, it makes me a little sad at the same time. Knowing that business deals and not celebrity-studded parties will be going on behind the walls takes a lot of romance out of the place.
But apparently the Sinatras were ready to sell. Nelda Linsk, the real estate agent who sold the property for the Sinatras, recalls that the closing "was a joy. Barbara was in blue jeans. Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence were guests of the Sinatras at the time. Everybody stayed for Frank's pasta, then Steve and Frank sang. It was marvelous."

I drive through the gates for the last time. They close behind me and on the end of an era.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Like my buddy over at http://billcrider.blogspot.com/ , I remember Richard Widmark fondly from many, many movies. Madigan remains a favorite. His full obituary can be accessed below.

Richard Widmark, Actor, Dies at 93 - New York Times: "Richard Widmark, who created a villain in his first movie role who was so repellent and frightening that the actor became a star overnight, died Monday at his home in Roxbury, Conn. He was 93."





This is SOOOO out there. Any pulp or drive-in movie fanatic has got to pay attention. You have to admit it's a great title. Whether the movie is great is another question -- don't count on it (especially as author Joe Lansdale has already been down the zombie stripper road).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008



March 23, 2008
Dear Members:

On Saturday night, Kathleen Soliah's lawyer bitterly blamed us for forcing her client to be returned to prison, and prison authorities admitted that our pressure pushed them to reexamine her file. While others also raised their voice in protest, we are happy to take whatever credit the convicted murderer's lawyers and the prison system want to give us for sending her back to prison for at least one more year. What follows is a chronology of events that resulted in over 2200 stories worldwide about Olson and the LAPPL's efforts to keep her locked up.

Monday, March 17, 2008: Soliah is quietly released from prison. Officials have wrongly calculated her parole date, but have not alerted anyone, including the victims or victims' survivors about the parole.
Wednesday, March 19th, 2008: We get a tip that Soliah is out of jail. We cannot confirm it, and hold off on doing anything until we know the facts. No one in the news media has heard the story.

Thursday, March 20, 2008: We spend the day trying to confirm the story. Finally, after 9:00 pm, we are confident that it is true and we release our first strongly worded statement from the League expressing our anger. Since we have effectively broken the story to the world, all of the news stories include some or all of the following quote:

"Kathleen Ann Soliah is a convicted murderer, who murdered an innocent bank customer and attempted to murder LAPD officers by bombing two police cars. She needs to serve her full time in prison for these crimes and does not deserve time off for working in prison. After participating in one killing and attempting two more, she managed to elude authorities and live a guilt-free, middle class life for decades. Criminals who attempt to murder police officers should not be able to escape justice simply because they have good lawyers."

Friday, March 21, 2008: We give follow-up interviews to local radio and television. We also help to arrange for retired LAPD Officer John Hall, who had been one of the targeted officers, to give a statement to the LA Times.
Saturday, March 22, 2008: We learn that Soliah has been detained or rearrested. Again, the media has not been informed. Once we are confident that the story is true, we release the following statement.
"Justice is not served if convicted murderer Kathleen Ann Soliah can simply wander back toMinnesota after having served only a token sentence for murder and attempted murder. Her prison sentence is not completed until her time on parole has been served. The fact that parole might be an inconvenience to her should be weighed against the heinousness of the murder she committed and the coldblooded criminal intent she demonstrated by trying to blow up police officers and innocent bystanders. She was a flight risk 30 years ago, and she is a flight risk now."

Every television station in Southern California calls us to ask us what is going on, and the media quickly release our second quote.

At 3:30 the DOCR holds a press conference regarding the events.

According to City News Service, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation chief deputy secretary of operations Scott Kernan "acknowledged that the outrage from the victim's family and police had been a factor in the department's decision to re-examine the eligibility date.
Soliah's attorney Shawn Chapman Holley credits the LAPPL directly in the LA Times:

"We received an order from the state parole board more than a month ago informing us that she would be released on March 17," Holley said. "The idea that suddenly they discovered an error is untrue," Holley said.
"What appears to be the truth is they are bowing to pressure from the Police Protective League or someone else. "

We release a final statement:

"We are relieved that Sara Jane Olson has been returned to prison for another year, however we are far from satisfied. Parole shouldn't even be an option for terrorists who are convicted of murdering innocent bystanders and attempting to murder police officers. Anyone who tries to kill police officers should get significant jail time and serve their full sentence."

Tim Sands talks to several radio and newspaper reporters and gives on-camera interviews on Channels 4, 7 and 11 for the evening news. He reiterates that if we have helped to return a terrorist to jail, we have done our job.

Monday, March 24, 2008



Three of the most outrageous and outlandish caper films of all time, The Doberman Gang (1972) and its two sequels, The Daring Dobermans (1973) and The Amazing Dobermans (1976), were fun harmless and certainly indicative of a kinder gentler time at the movies!






(AKA: That's The Way I Like It 1998)

Compared to Strictly Sinatra, which I blogged about (and eviscerated) below, Forever Fever is an Oscar © contender. In reality, this gem of an unknown film had me chuckling all the way through in the same way I chuckled at and appreciated the original (Japanese version) of Shall We Dance.

Made in Singapore, much of the humor from Forever Fever comes via the culture clash which occurs when a kung-fu obsessed Bruce Lee fan gets whammied by the phenomenon of disco. While not subtitled, the actors don’t exactly speak English – more Singlinsh (the Singapore version of Spanglish), which (probably inadvertently) leads to further humorous moments for Western audiences.

Made in 1998, Forever Fever, is set firmly in 1977 (some 12 years into independence and on the cusp of the island's ruthless modernization) as Saturday Night Fever premiers on the big screen in Singapore. Our Hero, Hock (Adrian Pang), a downtrodden Singapore grocery clerk, wants more out of life (especially a new Triumph motorcycle). He spends his days kowtowing to his boss and his nights practicing Bruce Lee’s moves from Enter The Dragon in front of his mirror. His life is made even more ponderous by his family – a rigid father and mother, a younger sister obsessed with romance novels, and an older brother who has become a doctor and is the family’s pride and joy.

Dragged to a screening of Saturday Night Fever by his buddies and Mei (‘the girl next door’), Hock is riveted by John Travolta’s compelling performance as Tony Manero. Then, seeing a well timed advertisement for a disco dance contest with a $5,000 prize (yes, it’s corny, but none-the-less hilarious), Hock and Mei begin taking dance lessons.

A cheeky and thoroughly engaging riff on Saturday Night Fever, the film actually wears some smart subtext beneath its tight pants. Still, while audaciously copying some shots and sequences from the film it reveres, Forever Fever manages to follow its own dramatic map.

Events become even more of a hoot when Hock returns for repeat viewings of SNF only to have Travolta/Manero step out of the screen to give to give Hock advice about life, love, and that groovy disco style (actor Dominic Pace gives a dead pan perfect impersonation of Travolta – white suit and all – but is billed as ‘Hock’s Guardian Angel – riiiiight).

As silly as its plot may sound in print, Forever Fever is an unexpectedly solid comedy with heavy dramatic leanings. Thanks to some fine performances from its cast, the film never deteriorates into just another rote imitation of Saturday Night Fever, even when it lifts scenes verbatim from its more famous predecessor.

Adrian Pang brings a relaxed naturalism to the role of Hock, a quality that only increases the authenticity of his portrayal. He isn't a zany protagonist, but very much a "regular guy" with real feelings, who has his moments of wit and wackiness just as all regular people do. The remaining characters are just as engaging, with Hock's siblings being probably the most memorable. Pam Oei gets plenty of laughs as Hock's sister Mui, a girl who reads nothing but trashy romance novels which result in her asking Hock questions like "What does it mean his member stiffened?"

The film takes a very dramatic twist at one point, almost to serious for the movie’s lighthearted base. However, by the time all is resolved after the clichéd (but well handled) big dance contest (in which disco meets kung-fu with hilarious consequences), even the film’s melodrama becomes a fine fit.

Despite the drama, Forever Fever is a lighthearted film celebrating the more memorable moments of an iconic film with just enough originality to stand on its own. The soundtrack is also a wonder as the classic disco songs of the era are performed by a Singapore cover band who really know how to shake their booty.

Recommended – but then again, I’m one of the few people who thought the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive was better than the original.




When I started out in the fiction writing business thirty years ago, hardboiled detective novelist Arthur Lyons was at the top of his game. Through a shared love of boxing and detective fiction I was fortunate enough to become friends with him and we hung out together on a number of occasions. He was always thoughtful, supportive, and encouraging – a gentleman of the first order. We lost touch over the past twenty years, but I still look back on our friendship with pleasure. He has been taken from us way too soon.

The Desert Sun, covering the Palm Springs, California, community where Arthur lived had the following obituary:

Arthur Lyons, a man as colorful as the characters in his film noir books and films, died early Friday at Desert Regional Medical Center at age 62.

Part of the family that owns and operates Lyons English Grille in Palm Springs, he was a former city councilman, co-founder of the Palm Springs Festival of Film Noir and a popular writers conference, and a successful novelist and nonfiction writer.

His wife, Barbara Lyons, said he suffered head injuries from a fall and had a stroke this past week.

A private celebration of his life is being planned at his home.

"He's really been a force in this community for a long time," said Camelot Theatres owner Rozene Supple, who hosted Lyons' Film Noir Festival.

"He was always great to work with and we hope to continue the Film Noir Festival indefinitely."

Barbara Lyons said her husband had already booked the films for this year's festival, May 29-June 1.

"This is going to be a tribute to Arthur," she said. "He had everything in line."


Lyons, who grew up in the restaurant and nightclub business in Hollywood, first drew attention as the author of several mysteries featuring his fictional private eye, Jacob Asch.

His novel "Castles Burning," in which Asch is hired to find a couple's son in Palm Springs, was turned into the 1986 TV movie, "Slow Burn."

He also wrote nonfiction books on the prevalence of Satanism in America, including "The Second Coming: Satanism in America" and "Satan Wants You: The Cult of Devil Worship in America," which debunked claims about conspiracies.

Lyons' book, "Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir" reflected his long-time interest in the dark, suspense films that became popular in the 1940s and '50s as an alternative to light, big studio fare.

A boxing enthusiast, Lyons said one of his career highlights was working in Ken Norton's corner in a heavyweight championship fight.

He and Craig Prater, former executive director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, founded the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival in 2001. It earned a positive reputation as one of the first such festivals in the nation.

Lyons attracted golden-age-of-cinema stars and writers, such as his friends Ray Bradbury and Mickey Spillane, to make the festival popular with local residents. He also labored year-round to find lost or forgotten prints of noir films that attracted connoisseurs of the genre from thousands of miles away.

Film journalist A.K. Rode wrote in Film Monthly after the 2004 festival, he was "counting the days until next year."

Local entertainment journalist and playwright Gary Walker, who did some public relations work for Lyons, praised his festival and his Palm Springs Writers Conference. That also attracted major authors and raised the level of such local events beyond amateur status.

"He just seemed to want to keep doing good, artistic things for the community - and paying for it himself," Walker said. "I don't think he ever made (much) money on the film noir festival."


Lyons, who received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in May, also served on Palm Springs' City Council from 1992-1996.

He headed a committee to start a power company as an alternative to rising electricity prices from Southern California Edison.

"It was kind of a David and Goliath thing," said John Raymond, director of Community & Economic Development.

"He wanted lower energy costs in the desert, especially in Palm Springs, and he was a big advocate for deregulation of energy," Raymond said. "He was a leader of deregulation at the state level. He knew everyone in the industry and he was a real crusader."

With AB1890, the city was allowed to become an aggregate of power, Raymond said. Palm Springs Energy Services was created and partnered with Portland General Electric, which provided power.

"It ran for a couple of years. That's one of the things that Art was really proud of," he said.

Customers could choose to have either Edison or Palm Springs Energy, Raymond said.

"But once the energy crisis hit, the whole thing started to unravel at the state level," he said. "The Portland company told Palm Springs Energy Services customers it would be cheaper to go back to Edison."

Mayor Steve Pougnet said Lyons showed his love for Palm Springs in many ways.

"He was a staunch advocate for the environment," he said. "When I became involved in conservation at (the Coachella Valley Association of Governments), people said it was nice to hear that someone from Palm Springs was interested in the environment because the last real person was Art."

Former Mayor Ron Oden said Lyons' city council also started VillageFest.

"Art did a lot for this city, and he loved this city," said Oden. "He will be missed."




www.doubleosection.blogspot.com gives us the rundown on the new Get Smart DVD release:

TVShowsOnDVD reported last week that Sony would release Fox's 1995 revival of Get Smart on DVD June 3, just in time to cash in on the bigscreen movie adaptation. Now they have the box art, which sure tries hard to make consumers think this is the classic original series by picturing Don Adams and Barbara Feldon front and center and misleadingly calling their release simply "Get Smart: The Complete Series." The star of this Get Smart is actually Andy Dick (inset), as the Smarts' son Zack. The original series can still only be bought from TimeLife, though their window of exclusivity has ended and HBO Home Video now holds the rights to release it in stores if they ever choose to do that.

I haven't seen the '95 take (which only lasted seven episodes, all of which are included in the new set), but since it at least has the original stars, it might be worth checking out. (Possibly moreso than the new film version.) With this release (in addition to TimeLife's real Complete Series and the 1989 reunion movie Get Smart Again) every incarnation of Adams' Maxwell Smart will be available on DVD except for the poorly-regarded 1980 theatrical release The Nude Bomb.



TVShowsOnDVD.com has the cover art for the upcoming DVD release of Honey West – The Complete Series. I have fond memories of this series, however, like the similar memories I had of Peter Gunn, I doubt they will survive rewatching. Still, I live in hope and look forward to this release.



This knife block makes you feel like a circus knife-thrower in your own kitchen! It’s not yet in stock, but you can register to be notified when it becomes available.

Sunday, March 23, 2008



In postings on this blog, I mostly try to be upbeat and make mention of films, books, and music I really enjoy. Life is too short and too tough to be spending much time slagging things off for being bad. But every once in a while …

Anyone who know me would quickly realize the plot of Strictly Sinatra would be of instant appeal to me -- In current day Glasgow, small-time Scottish crooner, Toni Cocozza, channels Ol’ Blue Eyes and finds himself on the receiving end of the threatening attentions of a gangster, whose wife has fallen for the singer's Sinatra-like aura. Blindly hoping this attention will further his insipid career, Cocozza manages to alienate his best friend and his girlfriend before realizing his error and making a desperate break for freedom and a new life.

I really wanted to like this film. I was ready and willing to forgive a lot. Unfortunately, writer/director Peter Capaldi misses every opportunity to make this either a swinging riff or a homage to the real Frank Sinatra, or to turn it into a gem of a gangster film along the lines of Mona Lisa or The Long Good Friday.

The biggest problem with the film is the casting of the supposedly hot Scots actor Ian Hart. I don’t think a bigger wanker could have been found to play this part. Not only can’t he sing – which might have been funny if this was a comedy – but he looks like a lame Art Garfunkel on a bad perm day.

There is no motivation for the gangsters in the film to involve Cocozza in any of their trivial crimes, and they are so unconsciously inept a bunch of street kids could take over their turf.

And I apologize upfront for my next comment. Cocozza’s girlfriend, the cigarette girl from one of the gangster’s clubs, is quite nice – until she smiles and you get a look a teeth so widely spaced apart they’d need separate checks in a restaurant. Bad teeth is a common problem with many British actors, but this was strikingly off kilter. Don’t they have orthodenture?

The only actor who conducts himself in any complementary manner is Brian Cox playing a sort of over the hill enforcer. Cox has several scenes where he riffs on meeting Sinatra and other figures from the Rat Pack. These are the only times this painful experience eases even slightly.

There is a reason, this film only plays on obscure cable networks in the wee small hours of the morning. It is not a hidden gem, it’s a shame in hiding.



Jules is one of our favorite local jazz singers, and she often donates much of the proceeds from her gigs to causes involving animals.


Jules Day
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
8 PM (doors open at 7:30 PM)

Catalina Bar Grill
6725 West Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
www. catalinajazzclub. com
(323) 466-2210

cover charge: $15 (proceeds from the cover charge will go to Much Love Animal Rescue)

Attire: typical restaurant attire

Catalina Bar and Grill is the top jazz venue in Los Angeles and its stage has been host to legendary singers and celebrities. This is a beautiful venue where the audience sits at comfortable tables. Every seat has a great view of the stage. It is also a restaurant with a full bar. Dinner and/or drinks are available during the performance.

Jules says: “If you haven't been to Catalina Bar Grill, it’s an awesome experience -- nothing like it, and all in a very special cause. During this event every $15 cover charge will pay for half of a pet vaccination! So coming to this event is a wonderful thing to do. I hope it comes back to you ten-fold. It's an intimate setting, so don't forget to call the club and tell them to save a seat for you, okay?



Reservations are highly recommended by calling (323) 466-2210 or tickets can be purchased in advance ($15. 00) by visiting www. catalinajazzclub. com

Unfortunately, pets will not be allowed at this event.

Jules Day website is: www. julesday. com
Much Love Animal Rescue’s website: www. muchlove. org