Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Review: ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton story’ (2nd edition)

A second edition of Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton story has just been released (April 2015) by BearManor Media. It is a slightly updated and better version of the seminal biographical tome that John O'Dowd first published in 2007 about actress Barbara Payton (born Barbara Lee Redfield, 1927-1967), accompanied with vibrant illustrations.

Half a century ago, in 1965, two determining events happened during a particularly low point in Barbara Payton's sad life. Following his return to Palm Springs, Payton's former lover —and failed Hollywood actor— Tom Neal shot and murdered his third wife Gail Kloke, for which he was arrested on April 2nd, receiving a sentence of 6 reduced years for "involuntary manslaughter." Gail had been called "a dark-haired version of Barbara Payton," and like Barbara, had been object of Neal's morbid jealousy.

Meanwhile, in the Spring of 1965, Barbara's parents Lee and Mabel —close to dying asphyxiated— had seen their home burned to the ground, a chilling parallel of the living hell Barbara's relationship with his father had always been. By then, Barbara had moved into the rundown Wilcox Hotel, described by Nick Bougas as "the seediest spot in the universe", on Yucca Street.

O'Dowd maintains a passionate tone, almost febrile in some passages, throughout this extensive and methodical biography of an underrated performer whose career was truncated by her terrible death at only 39. Although initially she had been considered talented and a potential major star, very early on Payton gave signals of mental instability and sexual addiction, —these deeds of her reckless daring in the context of the conservative '50s irreversibly led her to professional ostracism— being punished by the duplicitous studio system that had exploited her in the casting couch and hooked her on diet pills.

The author miraculously turns his affectionate passion towards Barbara's fallen soul into a formidable literary fuel that counterbalances the often decadent atmosphere of the starlet's tragic story, displaying all her different facets while wielding a non-judgemental narrative. O'Dowd takes his time to make us appreciate the sweet and resourceful all-American girl Barbara once was, reliving her childhood in Cloquet, Minnesota; her teenage blooming years in Odessa (the classic oil boomtown), and her crush towards James Cagney (her co-star in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye), whom she first met during a war bond rally in 1943.

All the chapters contain poignant analysis of Barbara's personal vicissitudes and progressively bad choices that would condemn her to an unfair blacklist in the film industry after her fulgurant yet brief stardom. It's quite premonitory when Barbara obsseses about infiltrating the Hollywood scene, against her husband's wishes. Barbara became a professional model in 1947 after signing with Rita La Roy Agency on Wilshire Boulevard. John Payton, an Air Force pilot who fathered her only son John Lee, vainly hoped his wife would outgrow this fascination, but Barbara was drawn to the nightlife she had glanced at Slapsy Maxie's club and decided to leave her husband behind in 1948, in favor of the blinding Tinseltown lights.

Barbara, who was depicted alternatively as "naïve" or "witless, mean-spirited man-chasing floozy," was not the docile cookie-cutter blonde mannequin Warner Bros. would have preferred. Instead, she routinely wrecked havoc on the studio backlot, exhibiting nonchalantly a forbidden lifestyle that gained her many enemies who hypocritically slut-shamed her behind her back.

One of her biggest mistakes, besides her high sexual impulsiveness, was not to focus more on developing her acting career and less on an increasingly unstoppable frenzy that isolated her from reality and consequently from a viable future. That fierce impulsiveness culminated in a fatidic love/hate triangle with an adrenaline-pumped Barbara between bad-boy Tom Neal and debonair Franchot Tone that made headlines worldwide in 1951, after an almost fatal beating that obliged Tone to undergo emergency hospitalization and facial surgery.

Practically all of Barbara's liaisons with men were doomed from the beginning, and O'Dowd exposes the traumatic relationship (bordering on anaclisis) she'd had with her father Lee Redfield as a very negative catalyst that tinged with regret her vision of the opposite sex. A possible abuse within her family or intimate circle —O'Dowd speculates— would help explain Barbara's self-destructive behaviour, a self-degrading pattern repeated with all her lovers and sugar-daddies as Bob Hope, William Cagney, George Raft and Howard Hughes.

On February 7, 1962, Barbara was arrested for prostitution when she approached an undercover cop on Sunset Boulevard. The L.A. Times captured a woman in ruins, reported in Andrew Dowdy's book The Films of The Fifties: The American State of Mind as "a plump blonde, eyes red from crying, her puffy face a reminder that the body treats alcohol as a fat. Nobody could believe she was the starlet who once looked like Lana turner."

Barbara Payton's cinematic legacy relies mainly on the noir thrillers Trapped (1949) and Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), the kitsch rarity Bride of the Gorilla (1951) and Edgar G. Ulmer's Murder is My Beat (1955). Barbara, like Marilyn Monroe, had been pigeonholed as a sex-pot by a sexist industry that overlooked their essential humanity and complexity. Unlike Marilyn, Barbara's career didn't flourish and Barbara never believed she deserved the fame and fortune Marilyn got. But whilst Marilyn represents the golden years of a bright post-war America, Barbara Payton has come to symbolize the full depletion of the American Dream. For that reason, Barbara Payton still resonates with later generations, now wrapped in learned self-hate and defeatism.

A second volume on Barbara's life and career, titled Barbara Payton: A Life in Pictures is in progress, which will contain over 250 rare photos. Also, there is a long awaited film project based on a script by Linda Boroff, Fast Fade, which follows Barbara's portrayal in O'Dowd's Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in the hope that his heroine will find her deserved vindication on-screen again. Article first published as Book Review: ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton story’ on Blogcritics.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Beach Boys: Love & Mercy, Dennis Wilson & Charles Manson (Bad Vibrations)

“I am very, very grateful for Melinda coming into my life. She taught me little things, taking one day at a time. She saved me." -Brian Wilson on wife Melinda Ledbetter

LOVE & MERCY (2014) presents an unconventional portrait of Brian Wilson, the mercurial singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. Set against the era defining catalog of Wilson’s music, the film intimately examines the personal voyage and ultimate salvation of the icon whose success came at extraordinary personal cost. Starring: John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano and Paul Giamatti. Directed by: Bill Pohlad. Screenplay by: Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner.

Love & Mercy Featurette - Dual Role, starring John Cusack, Paul Dano & Elizabeth Banks.

In "Love & Mercy" Elizabeth Banks plays Brian Wilson's wife Melinda Ledbetter, a former model turned Cadillac salesperson, whom he met in 1986 and married in 1995.

John Cusack, who with movies like “High Fidelity” and “Say Anything” is often associated with music on film, said he hopes “Love & Mercy” (the title comes from Wilson's 1988 solo album) underscores just how much the artist provides a soundtrack even to modern life. “It’s hard to overestimate his influence on music,” Cusack said. “Pet Sounds was a year before 'Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts,' and everything you hear in the Beatles is there. And then you listen more. Especially to The Smile Sessions, and you hear all these other connections. Boom, there’s ELO, there’s another band.” For her part, Elizabeth Banks extolled Ledbetter’s gutsiness and said that she hadn’t even thought of the film as a musical biopic until it was brought up in an interview. “We’re ‘Get on Up’ but we’re totally different,” she said. “It’s really a story about villains, about good conquering evil.” Source:

NBC has run out of patience with its low-rated Thursday drama tandem of “Aquarius” and “Hannibal,” revealing Monday that they will move over to little-watched Saturday nights. The scripted series will air from 9 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, flipping timeslots with the net’s popular “Dateline Saturday Mystery” crime franchise.

Last week, the first-year Charles Manson-themed drama “Aquarius” and third-year “Hannibal” both delivered tiny 0.4 ratings in adults 18-49, while “Dateline” did double that (0.8) on Saturday. The network effectively canceled “Hannibal” last month, but renewed “Aquarius” for a second season. Source:

California's mythic reputation as America's dreamland began as soon as the first settlers hit the western trail. But it was in the 1960s, with the advent of The Beach Boys, that the Golden State became enshrined as the ultimate funseeker's destination. Emerging from the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, the group hymned their homeland's abundance of sea, surf and sex. Their euphoric pop music poured out of radios around the globe - like waves crashing on the sun kissed sands at Malibu. Across the nation, and the world at large, a generation raised in the foreboding shadow of World War II, rationing and repressive parental mores heard the Beach Boys clarion call.

Harmony drenched opuses such as Surfin' Safari, California Girls and Little Deuce Coupe promised a better, brighter, more joyful world. The group's songs, many penned by Brian Wilson and his cousin Mike Love, perfectly captured the irresistable lure of Hot Rod Racers, bikini clad girls and the captivating deep blue ocean that lined the Cali coast. The Beach Boys presented an open ended manifesto for a life of Fun, Fun Fun and their multi million dollar accruing success allowed the group to indulge and expand on this fantasy lifestyle.

In those bygone halcyon days the idea that you could have too much of a good thing - too much sun, too much sex, too many drugs, too much fun - was simply not on the agenda. And yet, by the end of the decade, as 60s celebrations curdled into 70s hangovers, nowhere was the downside of living according to an unbending pleasure principle seen more clearly than at the heart of The Beach Boys. Traumatised by a childood spent bearing the brunt of his father Murry's physical and mental abuse musical mastermind Brian Wilson had always operated at a remove from the world celebrated in the group's music.

Ocean-phobic Brian's increasingly eccentric attempts to ride the fun mobile included placing his grand piano in a sandbox which soon became a litter tray for the family pets. Belittled by his boisterous, bullying, inappropriately named cousin Brian attempted to keep pace of the international youth movement he had help inspire by ingesting massive quantities of marijuana, acid, cocaine and, eventually, heroin and hamburgers.

But at least Brian did survive - unlike his brother and Beach Boys drummer, Dennis Wilson. Surfing, sex addicted Dennis lived the life of a Beach Boys song to the hilt. Blinded by the sun, the sea and the ministrations of an ever willing string of groupies, he narrowly escaped becoming a victim of Charlie Manson's killing spree. On one occasion after picking up two female hitchhikers he brought them home enjoying a menage a trois with two members of Manson's family. He later championed Manson's primitive musical talents but Charlie was not happy about payment for the song Never Learn Not To Love aka Cease To Exist, included on The Beach Boys 20/20 album.

Dennis's hedonistic lifestyle continued long after even his ex wives had entered rehab. As far back as 1965 he had boasted of living a fast life and in 1983, aged 39, loaded to the gills on booze and cocaine he dived into the cold waters at Marina Del Rey, only emerging several hours later when divers found his body, just below the spot where his yacht Harmony had once been moored. From his prison cell Manson gloated, claiming the death was a direct result of Wilson failing to honour alleged agreements. Source:

Charlie Manson had spent the majority of his life in the care of armed state and federal officials. His rap sheet and convictions centered primarily around car theft, burglary and forging federal checks. Somewhere deep inside his troubled, festering mind, Manson harbored dreams of making it big in the music business. Fellow con, Alvin Karpis, one of Ma Barker’s notorious gang members in the ‘30s, had taught Charlie to play guitar while he was incarcerated for a spell in Washington State. Flamboyant road manager Phil Kaufman, who later worked for renowned artists like The Rolling Stones and Emmylou Harris, first met Manson strumming a guitar, while Kaufman was serving time for marijuana trafficking at Terminal Island. “He sounded like a young Frankie Laine and was really quite good,” Kaufman later recalled. “A guard went up to him and said, ‘Manson, you’ll never get out of here.’ Charlie replied, ‘Get out of where, man?’” This kind of free-thinking, nonchalant view of the world and its authority would soon draw despondent and shiftless converts alike to the feet of this makeshift mangy messiah.

Around mid-1967, Dennis Wilson and his wife of two years, Carol, were no longer blissfully in love. When Wilson had met Carol Freedman in 1965, she was a 16-year old mom with a son named Scott. Dennis loved the boy so much, he chose to adopt him as his own. The young couple moved into a comfortable home in Los Angeles’ fashionable Benedict Canyon area. Just a mile or two up the road from their abode sat a home on Cielo Drive that would soon be the site of one of the century’s most horrifying crime scenes. Carol finally became fed up with Dennis by the end of 1967. Immersed in transcendental meditation, and yet still abandoning his wife for play time with female groupies, Dennis had also fallen prey to numerous narcotics. “For me it was the drugs,” Carol later told author Steven Gaines. “I was not into drugs, and with two little children (their daughter Jennifer had been born in 1967), that was really hard for me. 

The latter part of 1967 for Charles Manson, meanwhile, was eye-opening and eventful for the freed jailbird basking in the hedonistic Summer of Love. He hooked up with devotees Lynn “Squeaky” Fromme and Mary Brunner and headed north to the haven of hippie happiness, Haight-Ashbury, in San Francisco. While in prison, Manson had delved into the teachings of Scientology, a pseudo-religion that professed the merits of ‘auditing’ one’s own personality.

Dennis Wilson started branching out from his niche as drummer in his band around late 1967. His fellow Beach Boys began to tire of Dennis’ willingness to experiment with the latest fad and his seemingly lack of self-control. Life itself was a high, but that didn’t stop Dennis from sailing to the clouds sniffing nitrous oxide from whipped cream cans. He conveyed his “love everyone” philosophy in two songs he co-wrote, “Little Bird” and “Be Still.” Life in the Haight-Ashbury district turned cold and ugly that winter of 1968. Charlie Manson and his band of hangers-on were forced to move out. Stolen credit cards and counterfeit money bought them meals, gas and eventually a yellow school bus they painted black. The Family, as Manson dubbed them, traveled up and down the California coastline and as far east as Texas during this period. Meanwhile, Dennis Wilson had moved out of the house in Benedict Canyon and settled into a rented home at 14400 Sunset Boulevard.

It was the Spring of 1968. Charles Manson and his followers headed to an old movie set location in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley. The Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth was dilapidated and desolate, the perfect resting spot for The Family to disappear to. Its owner, 81-year old ex-stuntman George Spahn could barely say ‘no’ to the wanton girls and ‘feel-good’ guru vibe that Charlie could charmingly present. And it was one day in late May that found Dennis Wilson driving away from Malibu Beach when he happened upon two of Charlie’s girls, Ella Jo Bailey and Patricia Krenwinkel. Captivated by the sway Manson had over these people and lacking in the necessary self-esteem to realize he was being used, Wilson welcomed this new Family with open arms. Charlie immediately set up an orgy that sealed the deal with the fun-seeking Beach Boy.

For the next three months, Dennis Wilson’s home life was filled with sex, drugs, and the philosophical musings of one Charles Manson. The girls cooked, cleaned, and catered to Dennis’ every whim. While they lived most of the time at his house, the Family still retreated to the Spahn ranch from time to time, in order to relax in the wilderness and subject themselves to more stringent, loopy teachings from their master. Hanging with Dennis, Charlie was introduced to the Hollywood lifestyle. “He could discuss almost any subject,” Gregg Jakobson later recalled. “He had a 1,000 hats and he could put on any hat at any time. In another situation, he would have been capable of being president of a university.”

Dennis allowed Charlie to use anything. His Ferrari, his Rolls-Royce, even his Mercedes Benz, which Manson’s group proceeded to crash. Someone who definitely was not fooled by Charlie’s charm was Dennis’ girlfriend at the time, 16-year old Croxey Adams. She had moved into Wilson’s Sunset house shortly before the Family had made it their headquarters. Charlie would say, ‘You’re not allowed to have crushes. Everybody is supposed to love everybody.” Croxey never fell for that line of reasoning. Dennis Wilson just had to get Charlie the chance to record. He decided to try to bring Charlie under the Beach Boys’ new record label, Brother Records. He was now referring to his philosophical guru as the Wizard and spouting much of his rhetoric to anyone who would listen.

“Fear is nothing but awareness,” Dennis asserted to Rave Magazine in August 1968. “I was only frightened as a child because I did not understand fear – the dark, being lost, what was under the bed! It came from within. Sometimes the Wizard frightens me. The Wizard is Charlie Manson, who is another friend of mine who says he is God and the Devil! He sings, plays and writes poetry, and may be another artist for Brother Records.”

Dennis’ fellow Beach Boys weren’t so sure the manic Manson was exactly the right guy to put on their personal label. The hot-wired maverick frightened the secretaries in the office, and they referred to him as ‘Pig Pen’ behind his back. As for the other Beach Boys, they weren’t very scared of their fellow bandmate’s loopy friend. “No, it was just irritating,” Beach Boy Al Jardine later related to Goldmine magazine, “’cause they were always around, and it was ‘Charlie this, Charlie that.’ And then he had this little thing that he (Dennis) and Charlie worked out. It was just a melody, a melody in ‘Never Learn Not to Love.’ Not the melody, but there was a mantra behind that. Then Dennis wanted to put it in everything. I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is getting to be too much.” The song “Never Learn Not to Love” was originally a Manson composition called “Cease To Exist.”

Dennis would subsequently overstep his license with Charlie when it came time for the Beach Boys to record the song. Dennis was able to get Charlie some recording time at his brother Brian’s home studio. After hours, Manson showed up with his girls, high on dope, trying to lay down tracks of his original compositions. Dennis rarely showed up for the sessions and left it to 24-year old Stephen Despar to produce a good sound for his protégé. “What struck me odd was the stare he gave you,” Despar later recalled to Steven Gaines, and the recordings were locked away in the Brother Records vaults. “Submission is a game given to another/Love and understanding is for one another/I’m your kind, I’m your kind, and I see.” Lyrics like these, which suggested the surrender of ego to another was what made Charlie so strong. Manson later said to Rolling Stone magazine, “Paranoia is the other side of love. Once you give in to paranoia, it ceases to exist. That’s why I say submission is a gift, just give into it, don’t resist.” The Beach Boys recorded the track on September 11th, and when Manson heard of the alterations, he was furious.

Manson was becoming increasingly unstable. What was once an espousal of free love and serving each other for the good of the Family became twisted into his statements of death and anarchy. His temper was more volatile. He still would stop by Wilson’s home in the Palisades to help himself to food and clothing. On December 8, 1968, The Beach Boys released the single “Bluebirds Over the Mountain.” On the flip side was the tune “Never Learn Not To Love.” Manson’s name was not credited anywhere in the liner notes.

Dennis Wilson had grown tired of seeing Charlie show up on his front porch in the Palisades, and moved into a basement room at Gregg Jakobson’s house. When it came to Manson’s overt malevolent nature, Wilson didn’t appear intimidated at first. His personality makeup was just as headstrong as the crazed cult figure. “Ultimately, Dennis and Charlie went head-on, because they both had the same energy,” Gregg Jakobson observed to Steven Gaines. “Only, Dennis was more heart-cultured. They attracted each other immediately and then immediately repelled.” Dennis pretty much gave up on Charlie at this point. Jakobson was still convinced he could capture the magic and spontaneity his mad friend exuded. He asked Terry Melcher to go out to Spahn Ranch to hear Charlie play in his natural environment.

Manson sat on a giant rock, strumming his guitar, while his girls swayed adoringly at his feet. On June 3rd, he and Jakobson returned to Spahn with Mike Deasy, an engineer who had his own mobile recording van. The day ended with Charlie arguing angrily with Melcher. Manson and his Family members contend that Melcher had all but made a deal with them to produce a record and manage their career. What occurred two months later could easily be construed as either a direct or indirect result of Manson’s fallout with Melcher.

On July 20, 1969, Sharon Tate arrived back from Europe in time to watch the first Apollo moon landing on television with her friends, Folger, Frykowski, and Sebring. Roman Polanski wasn’t due back until August 12th, so Sharon encouraged her pals to stay on with her in the house until then. Meanwhile, Manson was on the move. He’d already established an outpost at Barker Ranch, a deserted ghost town outside Death Valley, Nevada, and was amassing an arsenal of guns and knives for the big race war on the horizon.  Also, on July 30th, someone in the Tate household phoned a “growth center” named the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. The facility catered to new-age ideas from all kinds of zealots, and was open to rich people who wanted to get in touch with their innermost selves. Abigail Folger had visited the center on previous occasions. It is not known if she made a quick detour there again in the early days of August.

But Charlie showed up at Esalen on August 5th. He was apparently given a cold reception and turned away. He recruited a 17-year old girl named Stephanie to his fold and returned to southern California. Fuming with all of the botched dealings he had tried to put in motion, Manson pulled aside young Tex Watson and explained what he must do for the Family’s cause. The slaughter was unimaginable. Los Angeles immediately became enshrouded in fear overnight. Thousands of guns and security alarms were sold to jittery citizens over the next few days. Police were reluctant to link the two sets of killings to the same band of murderers. Warren Beatty, Yul Brynner, Peter Sellers and other prominent citizens in the Hollywood community set up a $25,000 reward for the capture of the killers. Manson, meanwhile, was trying to dig up last minute funds to move his Family permanently out to Death Valley. Conflicting reports suggest that he appeared on more than one occasion at Dennis Wilson’s house. On August 16th, police raided the Spahn Ranch and rounded up Manson and his Family members.

Manson was finally arrested for good on October 12, 1969. He was captured at the Barker Ranch outside Death Valley. Dennis Wilson had received death threats. Around this time, Charlie’s minion, Lynn “Squeaky” Fromme appeared at Dennis’ place, demanding the Beach Boy return the music tapes that Charlie had recorded for the Brothers Record label. Wilson simply told her that he’d turn the music over to the State of California for evidence. In fact, the music was never turned in for exhibit purposes and remained locked up at Brian’s studio. Dennis was questioned by the District Attorney but was never asked to testify. Gregg Jakobson, Terry Melcher, and Rudi Altobelli wound up being key witnesses for the prosecution. Phil Kaufman and Al Swerdloff, with an investment by Harold True, found some old Manson music and released it in 1971 on Awareness Records.

The team took a cover photo shot of a manic Charlie pose from Life Magazine, erased the ‘F’ from the Life logo, calling the album “Lie.” The record contained such eerie Manson ditties as “I’ll Never Say Never To Always,” “Garbage Dump,” and “Look At Your Game, Girl” which was later covered by Guns N’ Roses. Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Leslie Van Houten were sentenced to die in California’s gas chamber. However, in February 1972, the state Supreme Court suspended the death penalty, and Manson and his followers received life sentences. Dennis Wilson attempted to purge himself of Manson’s influence on his life. He turned away from some of the creepy kind of music he’d been pursuing in the late ‘60s and focused more on a positive outlook in his songs.

He remarried in 1970. But Wilson was driven by excess, and he spent much of the ‘70s tanked on booze, high on drugs, and spending money he no longer had. His writing partner at the time, Daryl Dragon, later the “Captain” of singing duo Captain and Tennille, told author Adam Webb, “Very few people know that the reason Dennis drove himself to destruction was the fear of Charles Manson returning into his life… should he get out of jail, or maybe hire someone to ‘rub Dennis out.’ It was really that bad.”

In 1980, Wilson was forced to sell his beloved 62-foot boat “Harmony” to pay off loans and bills. Before losing the craft, he’d tossed many personal items overboard, into the waters of the boat slip in Marina Del Rey, enraged about his misfortune and losing his new wife to divorce. Three years later, just after Christmas on December 28, 1983, Wilson was onboard a friend’s yacht that happened to be parked in the old “Harmony” slip. Dennis drank all day long, starting at 9:00am. By 3:00 he was diving overboard and retrieving some of the items he’d tossed to the muddy bottom long ago. His friends watched him go down and then resurface with handfuls of mementos. The last time he was seen was around 4:15. A harbor patrol boat proved otherwise, when scuba divers brought up Dennis’ body from the marina bottom around 5:30 that afternoon.

In reality, Dennis Wilson had been on the road to self-destruction for many years. Whatever personal demons he had that led him on the path to ruin had been in his life long before his association with Manson. Charlie Manson fed on that insecurity, thrived on ambivalence, and his evil doings shocked the world with images of brutal and immoral savagery, a legacy that reverberates to this day with bad vibrations. Source:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bradley Cooper's "Ghost Army", Sci-Fi novels, Charles Manson in "Aquarius"

The NBC Universal-owned cable network announced Wednesday that it is teaming with Bradley Cooper, Oscar winner Graham King (The Departed, Argo) and Todd Phillips (The Hangover) to adapt Dan Simmons' Hyperion as an event series. Set on the eve of Armageddon with the entire galaxy at war, Hyperion is the story of seven pilgrims who set forth on a voyage to seek the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope and a terrible secret — while one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands. Published in 1989, the novel is the first book in the Hyperion Cantos series and won the prestigious Hugo Award.

“It is an absolute honor to enter into the world created by Dan Simmons that is arguably one of the greatest works of science fiction, and help realize it for television audiences,” said Cooper, who is also executive producing and recurring in CBS' Limitless adaptation.

For Syfy, Hyperion comes as the cabler has been making a massive — and expensive — push to put the science fiction back into its programming with content like 12 Monkeys, Childhood's End, Brave New World, Krypton, Incorporated, The Magicians, Dark Matter, Hunters, The Expanse, Z Nation and more. "As Syfy continues to forge important partnerships with award-winning talent on and off screen, this powerhouse team led by Bradley Cooper, Graham King and Todd Phillips brings an extraordinary track record in producing entertainment of the highest creative ambition," Syfy president Dave Howe said. "Epitomizing the gold standard of science fiction story-telling, Hyperion tackles smart and provocative themes that help define Syfy's development vision.” Source:

Clearly enjoying the producer's hat he recently donned for Hyperion, Bradley Cooper is now also putting together a WWII project at Warner Bros. He's developing, along with regular honcho Todd Phillips and American Sniper's Andrew Lazar, the WWII tall tale Ghost Army. The stranger-than-fiction story involves a secret squad made up of artists, designers, advertising execs and other creative types who were tasked with making the US army look a lot bigger than it was, and in a lot more places than it was, in order to fool the Nazis. This really did involve inflatable tanks, as well as dummies on the ground and fake radio operatives cluttering the airwaves with disinformation. As with Hyperion, it isn't yet clear whether Cooper also intends to appear in front of the camera. But if we were betting people we'd put a few quid on him being part of this one's ensemble cast. There's no start date yet, while Gayden gets on with the script. Source:

A World War II vet and old-fashioned cop (the TV kind that can't understand the need for these newfangled Miranda warnings), Hodiak (David Duchovny) is unable to penetrate the counterculture hiding Emma (Emma Dumont). So he forces a young undercover cop, Brian Shafe (Grey Damon), to help him — which he does, despite his objections to Hodiak's old-school methods. While some attempts to recall the tenor of the times feel strained, there are intriguing moments in the generational, racial and sexual clashes swirling around the central story. Unfortunately, whenever the show meanders its way back to that central story of Charles Manson and Emma Karn and their newly formed family, momentum stalls and interest drains.

The problem isn't so much the performance by Game of Thrones's Gethin Anthony as Manson, though he's not always as convincing as he needs to be at conveying either the threat Manson posed or the magnetism he supposedly possessed. It's that the Manson who will, in two years, commit the Tate/LaBianca murders looms too large for this smallish vessel to contain — making Aquarius feel less like a prequel and more like a dull footnote. The Manson you see here is more of a future threat than a real, present person, so you may end up feeling Aquarius would have worked better had it just renamed its villain and gone on from there. Source:

"I think everyone is fascinated by a guy who has never been charged with or convicted of murder, but is probably the most famous mass murderer in America," John McNamara (Aquarius's creator) says. "Manson is not a monster, Manson is a very ordinary person with extraordinary psychological problems and extraordinary charm and drive who did monstrous, monstrous things. We can never forget he's not different than us in his DNA. He's not from Mars. He's not from Hell. He's a guy from Oklahoma, but, boy, did he make some bad, bad choices." McNamara insists he's not trying to change the way Manson is perceived. "I was highly aware that Manson represents possibly the darkest thread in the tapestry of the '60s, and also I believe personally that Manson single-handedly destroyed the 60s. Tate-LaBianca was the end of the '60s. It turned everything wonderful or explosive or radical or new or amazing into death, paranoia and murder." Source:

One of the most popular novels among the literate cons was Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. Its themes of alienation, government deceit, and redemption for the despised resonated with the incarcerated. Charles Manson was fascinated by the tale of fictional Valentine Michael Smith, born to human parents in a Mars space colony, raised by Martians and returned to Earth as a pawn of scheming politicians. Fascinated by religion, Mike Smith founds his own faith, experiences group sex, uses psychic powers to make enemies disappear, suffers a martyr’s death, and returns in spirit form. As he would with the Bible, Dale Carnegie, and Scientology, Charlie later incorporated elements of Stranger in a Strange Land into a beguiling, hybrid pseudophilosophy. —"Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson" (2013) by Jeff Guinn

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Aloha" is a gift of love - Bradley Cooper & Emma Stone's off the charts chemistry

"Sony Pictures has responded to accusations that its Hawaii-set military-themed romance "Aloha" misappropriates indigenous culture and whitewashes its portrayal of the local population: "While some have been quick to judge a movie they haven't seen and a script they haven't read, the film 'Aloha' respectfully showcases the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people." "Aloha, it's a gift of love, and you know aloha when you feel it," Crowe says in the video. "And you know when somebody's giving you that extra bit of compassion and understanding."

Blowback about the film's title came a week after the Media Action Network for Asian Americans issued a press release taking "Aloha" to task for featuring mostly white actors, including Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin. (MANAA has not seen the film.) Source:

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy. Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello. -Department of Linguistics/ "Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture" (1992) by Anna Wierzbicka

Aloha Extended TV Spot - A Second Chance: Aloha was shot on location in Hawaii just before Cooper took on his role as Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.” Stone convinced Cooper to hold off on working out while they were on set. "I said, you’re gonna get huge… relax. He said, “Yeah, you’re right," so he relaxed.” Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone Talk New Film "Aloha" and their Favorite Guilty Pleasures.

 In Aloha — which hits theaters on May 29 — Cooper plays military contractor, Brian Gilcrest, who travels to Hawaii and unwittingly reunites with an ex (Rachel McAdams) and also develops romantic interest in his assigned Air Force watchdog, Allison Ng (Stone). The movie also costars Bill Murray and John Krasinski, so for reals, what else could you ask for?

I would wager a bet that Cooper and Stone’s chemistry in Aloha is going to be off the charts based on the movie’s trailer alone. This begs the question: could Stone end up being Cooper’s new “work wife”? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a certified shipper of Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as the perfect “work spouses”, but we all know Hollywood A-listers don’t always have schedules that can sync up, i.e., we can’t constantly have Cooper and Lawrence sharing the same screen all the time. That’s where Stone comes in. Source:

In 1931, another “Aloha” movie told of “a half-caste island girl” who “refuses to follow tradition and marry a fellow islander, instead falling in love with a white man and heir to an American fortune.” There also was “Aloha Summer” in 1988 and “Aloha, Bobby and Rose” in 1975.

The title doesn’t bother all Native Hawaiians. “If you look at what aloha means, how can it be bad no matter how it’s used?” said TV and radio personality Kimo Kahoano. “I think Hawaii is the best place in the world. And the reason is aloha.” Source: