Actor Michael Clarke Duncan died this morning in a Los Angeles hospital, as confirmed via a statement from his fiancee, Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault. Duncan was 54.
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Jerry Nelson, one of the original Muppeteers hired by Jim Henson, died yesterday (August 23rd 2012). Even though you might not recognize the name, all of you have grown up with Jerry’s performances. He puppeteered almost 1,000 named Henson puppet characters during his 47-year career, credited for performing over 120 different named characters on The Muppet Show, and almost double that on Sesame Street.
Jerry was fighting with various health issues for the last decade, and in 2004 announced he would no longer be puppeteering full-time (although he continued to provide the voice for his Sesame Street characters into the recent seasons). Tough Pigs broke the news.
Comedian Phyllis Diller died today in her Los Angeles home at the age of 95. She had been in deteriorating health in the past decade or so, but her death today is not said to be associated with any one illness or event. For decades, Diller’s comedy combined the influence of her pre-showbiz days, as her brash, wild-eyed and big-haired image played off the then-common profile of the American housewife, with the sharp-witted skills she possessed as an advertising copywriter.
Diller, born Phyllis Ada Driver in Lima, Ohio on July 17, 1917, began her career in the early ’50s working on stage and in television; in the ’60s her star rose thanks in large part to more than twenty comedy specials and three features made with Bob Hope.
Diller voiced the ant colony Queen in Pixar’s early feature A Bug’s Life, and despite her relatively hammy, clean stand-up image she appeared in the comedy documentary The Aristocrats, which was organized around one particularly dirty classic stand-up joke. True to form, she avoided the dirty content in her own telling of the gag.
Posted on Sunday, August 19th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
We’re shocked to learn tonight that Tony Scott, the brother of Ridley Scott and the director of films such as The Hunger, Top Gun, and True Romance, died today at the age of 68 due to an apparent suicide. Sources report that Scott leapt from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro at 12:35pm this afternoon, and that authorities identified the body, recovered this afternoon, as Scott. The coroner’s department and LA port police report that he jumped “without hesitation,” and that a note was found in his office.
Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Steven Spielberg‘s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is coming out on Blu-ray soon, and when it arrives I recommend that everyone watch it with an eye for the incredible brass balls it took for Spielberg to shoot the title alien like he would a human actor.
The reason he was able to do that is due in great part to the work of Italian effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi, who died today at the age of 86. Rambaldi’s days as a working cinematic craftsman were behind him, and he passes leaving behind a great body of work that contains effects for early giallo films like A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Deep Red, and Twitch of the Death Nerve; the wacky Warhol/Morrissey takes on Frankenstein and Dracula; and Alien, Dune, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T. Read More »
As most of our readers are likely aware, last night a violent man turned the opening of The Dark Knight Rises into a shocking tragedy. For reasons that are currently unclear, he opened fire on a group of moviegoers who’d gathered to watch a midnight screening in Aurora, CO, killing many and wounding more.
There is nothing we at /Film can add to the conversation today. The core facts are widely known, and understanding of the situation is evolving as authorities perform their duties. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We ask that our readers keep those suffering from this horrific event in their thoughts as well.
Please visit the Associated Press for full details on the incident.
Nora Ephron, the writer and director responsible for some of the most charming movies in recent memory, passed away Tuesday at the age of 71 from a bout with leukemia. In her illustrious career, Ephron wrote Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and My Blue Heaven as well as wrote and directed Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Michael and most recently Julie and Julia.
Nominated for three Oscars, Ephron leaves behind a lasting legacy that suggets we all can use a little more romance and a little more comedy. Thank you so much, Mrs. Ephron.
Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
To the public at large, the director wasn’t always the person most responsible for a film. That was the producer; the director was just someone who turned up and made sure actors hit their marks. But in the ’50s, writers at French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma (including future French New Wave directors François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Claude Chabrol) expanded on notions developed in the ’40s that said a director could be considered the author of a film, with a director’s body of work representing the expression and examination of a core set of personal concerns.
In 1962 American film critic Andrew Sarris published the essay Notes on the Auteur Theory, which imported the Cahiers crew’s ideas, and quickly became the defining rulebook for film authorship. Whether Sarris was correct or not, he turned into one of the most influential writers on film, and his work continues to define how viewers approach movies. Indeed, the director became more prominent because he and others spoke for that prominence, so it could be argued that he helped change movies, period.
Today Andrew Sarris died at the age of 83, reportedly due to complications from an infection developed after a fall. Read More »