June 2013

On a Warm Friday Night in Most of the Country, It's a Good Time to Catch up With Four Noir Suspense Classics on TV

By Chuck Ross

TCM has been showing a number of classic film noirs on Friday nights in June, ending tonight with four really terrific films that I recommend.

The first starts very soon: at 6:30 p.m. PT and 9:30 p.m. ET. It's the least well known of the four movies. It's called "Deadline at Dawn," and it's a crime thriller from 1946. The hard-boiled dialogue by Clifford Odets crackles, though it's not as pointedly sharp as his dialogue in "Sweet Smell of Success." Odets is working from a novella by William Irish, which is a nom de plume of Cornell Woolrich, who was one of our greatest practioners of pulp fiction. A number of his works have been made into movies, including one of Hitchcock's masterworks, "Rear Window."

"Deadline at Dawn" is an actor's delight, with Susan Hayward, Paul Lukas, Marvin Miller and Joseph Calleia particular standouts.

That the acting is one of the film's pleasures is no surprise, since the movie is the only motion picture directed by Harold Clurman, one of the most famous theatre directors in the history of New York theatre. WIth Lee Strasberg and Cheryl Crawford, Clurman founded the influential Group Theater in New York. Clurman was also a drama critic. I don't know why he only directed this one movie.

The luminous black and while look of the movie is courtesy veteran RKO cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca. His work should be much better known than it is.

Following "Deadline at Dawn," you can catch, from 1944, "Murder My Sweet"  on TCM at 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET). It's one of two films featuring Raymond Chandler's great L.A. detective Philip Marlowe that is showing on TCM tonight. Playing Marlowe in "Murder My Sweet" is Dick Powell, previously known for musicals. He's wonderful in the part, and  he is my secord favorite Marlowe on screen.

My favorite portrayal of Marlowe is in another movie on tonight, and, in my opinion, the best of tonight's lot. It's "The Big Sleep,' featuring Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe. From 1946, it's directed almost flawlessly by Howard Hawks. One of Bogart's best roles. Lauren Bacall is smart and sultry; Dorothy Malone is sexy and seductive  There is nothing about this movie that I don't like. If you've never seen it, it's one of the most enjoyable crime thrillers ever made.

"The Big Sleep" screens on TCM tonight at 10 p.m. PT (1 a.m. ET).

The fourth film on tonight that I highly recommend is one of Hitchcock's best, "Strangers on a Train." It has one of the best performances in any Hitchcock film, that of Robert Walker as the nasty Bruno Anthony, in a performance on the dark side that I think is only challenged in its greatness by Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet" and Andy Robinson in "Dirty Harry." Hitchcock is known as the "master of suspense," and this is one of the films from where that moniker comes.  "Strangers" comes on TCM at 2 a.m. PT (5 a.m. ET).

 

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'Vampire Diaries' Actress Indicted in Ricin Case

An actress who appeared in TV shows including "The Vampire Diaries," "The Walking Dead" and "All My Children" has been formally charged in a case involving sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, the leader of a gun-control group.

USA Today reports that Shannon Guess Richardson of Texas was indicted on three federal threat charges.

"The indictment, made public Friday, charges 35-year-old Shannon Guess Richardson of New Boston, TX., with threatening the President of the United States and two charges of mailing threatening letters. If convicted, Richardson could be sentenced to five years imprisonment for each charge. The mother of five remains jailed," the story reports.

Richardson, a former beauty queen, was arrested June 7. She has played a series of minor roles in television shows.

"In the ricin-laced letter to President Obama mailed May 20, Richardson allegedly wrote, 'You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face,'" the piece reports. "The letter claims to be written by a man who has served in the U.S. Army, is married and has children, and blames the president for not being able to retire."

The letter to Obama reportedly adds: "(I will) make sure you wont be runnin' this country in the ground any further. What's in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president."

Richardson is accused of sending similar letters to Bloomberg and Glaze.

The USA Today report adds: "John Delk, an attorney for Richardson's husband Nathan Richardson, said Richardson sent the letters in an attempt to set up her husband, who is seeking a divorce. Richardson contacted federal investigators claiming she had found a suspicious substance in the refrigerator and ricin-related internet searches on the couple's computer."

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Shannon Guess Richardson

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George Zimmer, the Ex-Chairman of Men's Wearhouse and Its Public Face in Its Commercials Who Was Fired Recently, Fights Back in Open Letter to Men's Wearhouse Employees

George Zimmer, the founder and former executive chairman of The Men’s Wearhouse -- and the public face of the compiany in its commercials -- who was fired by the company's board recently, fought back this week with an open letter to the company's emloyees, according to Yahoo Finance.

According to the story, Zimmer writes, in part:

Over the years, as CEO, I consistently encouraged the company to take a longer term approach of investing most of our profits back in the company, delivering value to our customers and building a loyal and dedicated workforce totally committed to service, rather than pursuing shorter term strategies based on financial engineering. Inside the Boardroom, we often had spirited discussions about how best to achieve these objectives. Regardless of whether the Board eventually sided with my point of view or not, I believe this dialogue and discussion led to better decisions that contributed to the success of The Men’s Wearhouse.

Unfortunately, this dynamic seems to have changed.

Just one month after the directors unanimously nominated me for reelection to the Board, last week they abruptly fired me from my management role and postponed the Annual Stockholder Meeting so they could nominate a new slate of directors that excluded me. To justify their actions, they now have tried to portray me as an obstinate former CEO, determined to regain absolute control by pushing a going private transaction for my own personal benefit and ego. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that over the past two years, and particularly over recent months, I believe that the Board and management have been eroding the principles and values that have made The Men’s Wearhouse so successful for all stakeholders.

Zimmer ends his letter:

To be clear, at this point I have not concluded that taking The Men’s Wearhouse private is a better means of preserving the unique culture and values that have made the company so successful over the years. What I do know is that as a founder and large shareholder, I am greatly concerned about the future of the company if this culture and these values are lost, and believe that the Board should be open to at least consider the full range of possibilities that could optimize the future value of the company for all stakeholders.

To read all of Zimmer's letter, please click on the link in our first paragraph, above.

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George Zimmer

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High-Profile '24' Alum Joins Fox Reboot

A high-profile member of the team behind Fox's "24" has signed on with the network's reboot, the event series "24: Live Another Day." Deadline.com reports that Evan Katz, a longtime writer on "24," is on board for the reboot.

Katz joins "24" alums Howard Gordon, David Fury and Jon Cassar as an executive producer on the new project. Katz signed a two-year deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind the "24" franchise, the piece notes.

"Next to Gordon, Katz was probably '24’s' longest-serving writer. He joined at the beginning of Season 2 and won a WGA Award for the first episode he ever wrote on the show, the Day 2 hour in which Jack Bauer fakes killing the son of a terrorist in order to force him to talk," Deadline reports. "Katz started as a consulting producer, becoming co-executive producer in Season 3 and executive producer in Season 4, staying with the series until its end in May 2010 after eight seasons. He shared in 24‘s best series Emmy win in 2006."

Said 20th TV Chairman Gary Newman: “When Howard came to us about bringing back the show, we all loved the idea of reassembling the creative team that made '24' such a success. Getting Evan Katz -- who wrote some of the show’s most memorable episodes -- to share the executive producing responsibilities of 'Live Another Day' is a huge win for this studio. He’s an incredibly talented writer and we’re thrilled to welcome him back.”

Talks are ongoing with two other former "24" EPs, co-creator Bob Cochran and Manny Coto, the report notes.

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Spanish-Language Univision Ties for No. 1 Among Broadcast Networks

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision climbed into a tie for the No. 1 spot in the broadcast ratings for Thursday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that both Univision and Fox finished with 1.4 average ratings in viewers 18-49 for prime time overall. They led CBS (1.2 average), ABC (1.0) and NBC (0.7). CBS, which aired all repeats, won total viewers, averaging 6.2 million to 4.6 million for ABC, 3.8 million for Fox, 3.7 million for Univision and 2.3 million for NBC, which also aired an all-repeat lineup.

The top show of the night on broadcast was a tie between two shows that aired at 8 p.m.: a rerun of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" and a new installment of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen," with both shows delivering 2.0 averages in 18-29.

Fox's "Does Someone Have to Go?" delivered a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo, same as last week.

ABC's lineup of first-run programming failed to gain much traction: "Wipeout" and "Motive" both managed 0.9 averages in adults 18-49, with "Wipeout" down 25% from its previous original back in May. "Motive" was also down 25% from its previous original and sank to a series low.

ABC's top show was "Rookie Blue" with a 1.1 average in 18-49, but that number was down 9% from the previous original and a season low.

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NBC News Hires Former N.Y. and L.A. Police Chief

NBC News has hired the former chief of the New York Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, TVNewser reports. The news operation hired Bill Bratton as an analyst, the piece reports.

Bratton will work for NBCUniversal's networks and platforms, including MSNBC and NBC News Digital. Bratton was a high-profile police chief in the 1990s and 2000s, and currently leads the consultation firm The Bratton Group and Bratton Technologies, the story notes.

His wife, Rikki Klieman, is a legal analyst for CBS News.

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Bill Bratton

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Alec Baldwin Runs Into Trouble on Twitter Again Over a Sensitive Subject

Alec Baldwin apparently has deleted his Twitter account -- for a third time -- after getting in trouble over a subject that has proved to be a sensitive one for him: his wife, Hilaria.

Baldwin reportedly sent profanity-laced tweets to a Daily Mail journalist who wrote that Hilaria had sent tweets about anniversary presents while attending James Gandolfini's funeral service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I am gonna f--- you up," Baldwin wrote in one tweet, the story says.

The Daily Mail article, by writer George Stark, claimed that Hilaria sent tweets that "included a request for ideas about wedding anniversary presents and promotional notes about her upcoming appearance on the Rachael Ray show" while attending the funeral.

Baldwin sent scathing messages directed at Stark, including: "Someone wrote that my wife was tweeting at a funeral. Hey. That's not true. But I'm gonna tweet at your funeral."

Other tweets from Baldwin called Stark a "lying little bitch" and a "f---ing little bitch," according to the report. Baldwin's latest rant, which also reportedly included calling Stark a "toxic little queen," is being called homophobic by some in the media.

The actor also wrote that he doesn't have a publicist now, after he "fired them," and insisted that his wife didn't use her phone during the service.

Baldwin reportedly tweeted: "How much of this shit are people supposed to take? With these f---ing blatant lies EVERY DAY. My wife DID NOT use her phone, in any capacity, at our friends funeral. Now, f--- this twitter + good luck to all of you who know the truth."

Baldwin's wife also defended herself, tweeting: "I don't know what hurts more: people randomly and maliciously writing lies about you, or the people who actually believe them."

Now Baldwin's account appears to have been deleted. Clicking on his most recent Twitter handle, @ABFalecbaldwin, brings up a page that says, "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!"

It's not the first time Baldwin has deleted his account. In 2011, he deleted it after a high-profile dispute with American Airlines, and in 2012, he quit Twitter after marrying Hilaria.

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Canceled NBC Series Heads to Ovation

A canceled NBC series won't disappear completely from the television landscape after all, with Ovation picking up rights to rebroadcasts of "Smash," the musical drama that was canceled by the network this season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The arts network will debut the series July 19, with the second season starting in November.

"Ovation is thrilled to satisfy the wishes of diehard 'Smash' fans and followers to keep the series alive, as well as to provide viewers who are new to the series an opportunity to experience the incredible talent, music, dancing, drama and excitement," Robert Weiss, Ovation's chief creative officer, said in a statement.

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Embattled TV Chef Paula Deen Is Winning on at Least One Front

The ongoing controversy over Paula Deen's use of the N-word has brought one negative headline after another for the TV chef during the past week, but the news hasn't been all bad for Deen.

Vanity Fair reports that her cookbooks are suddenly hot. "After a somewhat fumbling attempt at damage control on the 'Today' show on Wednesday ('I is what I is,' she told Matt Lauer), Paula Deen has been dropped by Walmart, Target and QVC, among others," the story reports. "However, the developments of the past few weeks do not seem to have deterred her fan base, who have gotten two of her cookbooks -- one of which hasn’t even come out yet -- to the top two spots on Amazon.com's Bestsellers list."

Deen's "Southern Cooking Bible" has climbed to the No. 2 spot on the Amazon list, the piece notes.

Buyers of the cookbooks have also left comments on Amazon in support of Deen, the report adds. Here's one such comment quoted in the story:

"I don't normally buy items for a policical statement but this time I have. Paula has freedom of speech and I have the power of the buck. Today I bought this book AND a box of cheerios (in support of their ad that contains a mixed race marriage). Time for American to grow up beyond the age of ten years old, get over the polical correctness crap and get on with life."

Another commenter writes:

"I don't like being told what to think, say, or do by the agenda-driven liberal media or the conservative religious right.

"I'll probably never read this cookbook but it will sit front and center in my bookcase next to The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and my unopened 2 Live Crew CD. I'll feel quite pleased everytime I see them there. My little contributions to the war on hypocrisy and censorship. Worth every penny."

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Sharon Osbourne Shares Her Low Opinion of Kanye West

"The Talk" co-host Sharon Osbourne, who is married to rocker Ozzy Osbourne, shared an unfavorable view of rapper Kanye West on Thursday, calling him "an average-looking guy with an average talent," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Osbourne's comment was part of a backlash on the show against the rapper, who the publication says has "been even more boastful than usual while promoting his new album 'Yeezus.'"

In one interview, West described himself as "No. 1 living and breathing rock star," the story notes, adding that he compares himself favorably with rock stars including Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

Said Sharon Osbourne, commenting on West's not-exactly-humble media persona: "I think it's his thing, he puts on this shtick."

She contrasted West's approach with that of her heavy-metal spouse Ozzy, saying proudly: "My husband's under the radar with no ego."

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