Wednesday, December 14, 2005

High-Concept Fun, Low-Brow Humor

I was thinking the other day about Christopher Plummer (you know, General Chang from Star Trek VI), and I was considering: when he dies, what would be the most inappropriate clip to show from his career, and what would be the worst way for a TV news writer to put it into words?

So, I've taken a selection of stars, young and old, highly-regarded, and not-so-highly-regarded (hell, some are already dead!), picked a clip, and written a fake story. It's what I do.

Actor: Christopher Plummer
Movie Clip: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

And the entertainment world was stunned today to hear of the death of respected Shakespearean actor Christopher Plummer...

General Chang: I am constant as the northern star...
Dr. McCoy: I'd give real money if he'd shut up.

Plummer captivated audiences for centuries with appearances in films like National Treasure and Syriana. But it was his work in 1992's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country that brought audiences streaming into theaters to see his work.

In addition to his accomplished career on the screen, Plummer was a stage icon, particularly well known for packing theaters in Canada with his interpretation of King Lear.
Actor: Sir Laurence Olivier
Movie Clip: The Jazz Singer

And a screen legend has passed on.

Cantor Rabinovitch: I have no son! My son is dead!

Sir Laurence Olivier, who shared the screen with legendary entertainer Neil Diamond in 1980's Jazz Singer, has passed away.

Olivier was a highly respected actor until a lack of money forced him to take on questionable roles just to pay his bills.

And, contrary to popular belief, he did not appear in the silver screen classic Lawrence of Arabia. Even though his first name is Laurence, it's spelled differently than the name of that movie's title character.
Actor: Alec Guinness
Movie Clip: Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

For a generation, people knew him only as Obi-Wan Kenobi

You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!

But Ewan McGregor would erase many fans' memories of Sir Alec Guinness from the first three Star Wars movies. Much of this was Guinness' own doing. He hated the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and never embraced the fans who made his career much longer than it ever should have been.

In fairness, though, Sir Alec Guinness had a true gripe. He was, after all, a highly-respected actor whose work in films like Bridge on the River Kwai (the only part people are familiar with is when the bridge gets blown up), Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago painted him as an uptight, arrogant snob. It was likely inconceivable in his mind that audiences could embrace him as a beloved father figure.
Actor: Jack Warden
Movie Clip: Dirty Work


Another death in hollywood, this time of a true screen icon.

Pops: Get a load of that mountain range!

It was this role as the wily patriach of legendary comedy team Norm MacDonald and Artie Lange that propelled Jack Warden into the public consciousness. 1998's Dirty Work was the setting for the defining role of Warden's career, with his portrayal of owner Edward O'Neil in 2000's The Replacements even coming close in terms of dramatic punch and acting range.

A true gentleman of the arts, Warden also appeared in less notable films with lesser stars, like 1963's Donovan's Reef with John Wayne, 1958's Run Silent, Run Deep with Clark Gable, and 1953's From Here to Eternity with Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra.
Actor: Robert Loggia
Movie Clip: Necessary Roughness


In the pantheon of great actors, perhaps no one stood out more than Robert Loggia.

Coach Rig: Not much of a crowd.
Coach Gennero: Well, at least we have the home field advantage.
Coach Rig: The Alamo was the home field.


His performance in Necessary Roughness still sparks fierce emotions in movie goers to this very day.

Loggia also had other memorable roles in movies like Scarface with Al Pacino, Opportunity Knocks with Dana Carvey, Independence Day with Brent Spiner and Bill Pullman, and the videogame Grant Theft Auto III.
Actor: Tom Cruise
Movie Clip: The Oprah Winfrey Show

A man of action and a devoted follower of fake religions created by science fiction writers, Tom Cruise was best known for smiling like an idiot for the camera.

I'm in love!!!! WOOOOHOOOOO! I'm sooooooo in love!

But it was this performance in 2005 on the Oprah Winfrey Show that pushed Tom Cruise from Hollywood Hearthrob to Crazy Tom. Yet, in spite of his crazy love for Scientology (Mr. Cruise is believed to have made it to the Nth Level of Ascendancy, Reuniting him with Kangor the Benevolent of Gelonda III), Cruise was a shining beacon of light and charisma on the big screen.

Career-defining roles included Top Gun, The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky, Magnolia, and A Few Good Men.

Despite being crazy, no one can argue that Cruise chose his film roles wisely, except for any movie in which he shared the screen with one-time wife Nicole Kidman.

Tom Cruise was 52. He leaves behind wife Katie Cruise, and two young children named Klaatu and Nikto.

Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal
Movie: Brokeback Mountain


Hollywood was rocked today by the death of young actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

I wish I knew how to quit you.

Gyllenhaal's career-making turn as Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain should've punched him a one-way ticket to Tinsel Town's A-list. Instead, the young actor's obsession with co-star Heath Ledger led him down a dark path.

Gyllenhaal, a noted method actor, was unable to let go of the man he shared his heart and his screen time with. And, in the summer of 2006, it all literally came to a head, when Gyllenhaal kidnapped Ledger, and tried to force him into intercourse high in the mountains of Wyoming. But instead of finding illumination, he discovered, once and for all, the true meaning of "brokeback."


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