Category Archives: norman lear

RIP Bonnie Franklin

The first time I watched “One Day at a Time,” I didn’t get it. Maybe it was because it was a more female focused show, or maybe because its themes were just a little bit above my head. It was a different kind of Norman Lear show.

Bonnie Franklin, former Tony Award winning Broadway star played the divorced mom raising her two teenaged daughters alone with occasional help from her building’s super. It later got and held my attention a couple years later when my hormones refocused on a budding Valerie Bertinelli as one of the daughters.

“One Day at a Time” had a tumultuous nine year run filled with behind the scenes turmoil, but Bonnie Franklin stood tall through it all, winning multiple awards including the Emmy and the Golden Globe. Her portrayal of a single mom was a pioneering role of the time. Since then she has appeared rarely on television, her most recent gig was in an episode of Betty White’s “Hot in Cleveland.”

Bonnie Franklin passed away this afternoon at her home in Los Angeles from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 69. She will be missed.

Advertisements

Sherman Hemsley 1938-2012

Sherman Hemsley was found dead this morning, presumably of natural causes. The television, stage and film actor was 74.

Hemsley was best known for playing George Jefferson, Archie Bunker’s neighborly nemesis on “All in the Family” before moving on up to his decade long rein in the spin-off “The Jeffersons,” also by Norman Lear. Later Hemsley played Deacon Frye on “Amen.”

I’m a bit more out there when it comes to my favorite roles for Sherman Hemsley. I loved him as the Steel Condor in the Disney superhero satire Up, Up, and Away. I also dug him as the Toyman, along with “Jeffersons” co-star Isabel Sanford, on “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” He was also the star of my favorite story from the second incarnation of “The Twilight Zone” called “I of Newton.”

A bit of trivia about Mr. Hemsley is that he was a huge prog rock fan and expert. He loved bands of the early seventies like Yes, Genesis, and the more obscure Gentle Giant. Sherman Hemsley even collaborated with Jon Anderson on an unreleased album.

The Amateurs

The Amateurs ~ When I first heard about this film, I thought, isn’t that essentially the plot of Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno? I was even more surprised to find it was made in 2005. Of course it couldn’t possibly be as good as the Smith flick, but it does take a slightly different slant.

Here, Jeff Bridges is a small town entrepreneur who convinces his neighbors to make an amateur porno to make money. This is a film powered by its quirky characters that is reminiscent of old school things like the old Don Knotts films or Norman Lear’s Cold Turkey. Ted Danson is especially amusing here.

The flick has a certain naïveté and charm that the Smith film lacked. This aspect is refreshing and adds to the comedy. Imagine Andy Griffith meets Kevin Smith. Yikes. Ahem, well, imagine it if you can. Check it out, it’s a feel good, fun watch, if a bit predictable in parts, but fun.

Bookmark and Share

Nurse Jackie, Nurse Jackie

It’s been a couple weeks since the season finale of Showtime’s brilliant “Nurse Jackie,” and something has been bugging me about the ending/cliffhanger. I finally realized what it is. It’s “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”

The popular but only one season long series created by Norman Lear and starring Louise Lasser ended with the star in the nuthouse, rocking back and forth, repeating her name over and over just like the title of the show, “Mary Hartman… Mary Hartman… Mary Hartman… Mary Hartman…”

What is significant is that none of the dangling plotlines or cliffhangers were ever really resolved. Yes, the series was revisited, without Lasser or her title character, a year later with much the same cast in less popular “Forever Fernwood,” but as I said, much was left unresolved.

This is why I’m worried about “Nurse Jackie.” Things came crashing in, conflicts came to a head, the lead character’s life literally hit a dead end. Will her drug induced state send her into a coma from which she’ll emerge later with no repercussions? I hope not. Time will tell. Either way I’m glad such an amazing show has been renewed. Let’s hope Edie Falco fares better than Louise Lasser.

Bookmark and Share