HBO: Bright Lights with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Posted on January 5, 2017 at 8:00 am

In tribute to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, HBO has moved the premiere date of the documentary about them, a festival favorite, and it premieres on Saturday, January 7, 2016 at 8 pm Eastern.

Be sure to check out “Wishful Drinking,” Fisher’s one-woman show about her life, also on HBO.

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Actors Television

Tribute: Debbie Reynolds

Posted on December 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

Copyright Debbie Reynolds 2000

This is a very sad time. One day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds suffered a fatal stroke and now, suddenly, she is gone too.

Debbie Reynolds could do it all. She sang, she danced, she acted, she wrote, she produced. She was up for anything, always game, the ultimate show-must-go-on girl, and if she was not the girl next door, you wished she was.

Reynolds is one of the last of the classic era of movie stars. She has been an essential part of American culture since she was a teenager, starring opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in the #5 American Film Institute classic “Singin’ In the Rain” and keeping up with them tap for tap and an overturned sofa to boot.

No star ever showed more pure joy in performing. We see Gene Kelly fall for her and we happily join him.

She was best known as the all-American sweetheart with a series of sometimes sugary musicals and romantic comedies like “Tammy” and “The Singing Nun.” Here she is in “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis” with two more of the greatest dancers in movie history, Bobby Van and Bob Fosse.

In that movie, she sang a slow and sweet version of the same song she sang in “Singin’ in the Rain,” “All I Do is Dream of You.”

She co-starred with Frank Sinatra in the very retro “Tender Trap.”

She was a standout in the all-star cast of “How the West Was Won,” and she was perfectly cast in the title role of the brash musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” which she said was her favorite role.

I am especially fond of “The Mating Game,” with Tony Randall and Paul Douglas, about a happy-go-lucky farm family that lives on the barter system and the IRS auditor trying to investigate them.

She was a gifted dramatic actress, as we see in “The Catered Affair,” a gritty drama where she plays the daughter of Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine.

I think one of her best performances is in the neglected gem “Divorce American Style,” a biting satire with Dick Van Dyke, Jason Robards, and Jean Simmons.

She was magnificent in the title role of Albert Brooks’ “Mother.”

She played Debra Messing’s mother on “Will and Grace” and Liberace’s mother in “Behind the Candelabra.” And she had an adorable cameo as herself in another neglected gem, “Connie and Carla.”

In addition to movies, Debbie Reynolds performed in nightclubs, theater, Las Vegas, on television, and had hit records and wrote best-selling books. She provided voices for “Rugrats,” “Kim Possible,” “The Family Guy,” and the title role in the animated “Charlotte’s Web.” She tried for decades to create a museum of Hollywood memorabilia and she was a tireless fund-raiser for good causes.

May her memory be a blessing.

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Debbie Reynolds’ New Book: Make ‘Em Laugh: Short-Term Memories of Longtime Friends

Posted on December 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Debbie Reynolds can be described with the term used for one of her most memorable characters, Molly Brown. Indeed, her previous memoir is called Unsinkable. On screen, she has appeared in classic films like “Singin’ in the Rain” (when she was still a teenager), “Tammy,” “How the West was Won,” “The Pleasure of His Company,” “The Singing Nun,” and “Mother.” While most often remembered for musicals and comedies, her work in “The Catered Affair” and “The Rat Race” show that she is a gifted dramatic actress as well.

Her new book is Make ‘Em Laugh: Short-Term Memories of Longtime Friends, she tells stories about her friends and colleagues from the golden era of Hollywood, including Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Phyllis Diller, Gary Cooper, Judy Garland, and Bob Hope.

Nathan Smith writes in The Washington Post

“Make ’Em Laugh” recounts — sometimes gleefully, sometimes mournfully — Reynolds’s experiences in and outside the movies, using many items from her archives, scrapbooks and diaries. The book also offers candid shots of “America’s Sweetheart” with the likes of state dignitaries and even circus animals to gauge and eulogize the changing tides of Hollywood and the studio system.

Here she is on Turner Classic Movies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpN7AOfEDoU
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Actors Books

List: Movie Nells

Posted on November 14, 2015 at 3:53 pm

I’m sorry Sandra Bullock’s film, Our Brand is Crisis, isn’t getting more attention. I thought it was smart and funny and loved Bullock’s performance. But I admit another reason I liked it was that the wonderful actress Ann Dowd played a character who shares my first name, Nell.

I often joke that my parents collect antiques, starting with the names they gave their daughters. I love my name — it is simple but rare. It has literary connections thanks to Charles Dickens, and musical connections, especially if you’re in a barbershop quartet. And I’m happy to share my name with my friend, the brilliant writer/director Nell Scovell, and with Nell Carter and Charles II’s famous love, Nell Gwynn.

Here are my other favorite movie Nells.

1. Debbie Reynolds in “The Gazebo.”

2. Jodie Foster in “Nell”

3. Julie Harris in “The Haunting”

4. Sarah Jessica Parker in “Dudley Do-Right” (I vastly prefer the original television series but have to mention SJP)

5. Eva Marie Saint in “Raintree County” (Elizabeth Taylor has the flashy role, but Eva Marie Saint as Nell is the woman whose love for Montgomery Clift provides him with some stability and peace.)

6. Marilyn Monroe in “Don’t Bother to Knock”

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Film History For Your Netflix Queue Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Debbie Reynolds on Movie Addict Headquarters

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Debbie Reynolds, who will receive a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG Awards this Sunday, appeared on Movie Addict Headquarters to talk about her career in the Golden Age of Hollywood with Betty Jo Tucker. Be sure to tune in. And this is a good chance to watch or rewatch some of her classic films, including Singin in the Rain, “The Catered Affair,” “Divorce American Style,” and “Mother.”

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Actors
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