Wednesday, May 28, 2008

RIP Sidney Pollack

CNN) -- Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack, who achieved critical acclaim with the period drama "Out of Africa" and the romantic comedy "Tootsie," died of cancer Monday, his agent told CNN.

Sydney Pollack's notable films include "Out of Africa," "Tootsie" and "The Way We Were."

Pollack, 73, died at his home in Los Angeles. He was surrounded by his wife of nearly 50 years, Claire Griswold, their two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel, and his brother, Bernie, agent Leslee Dart said. the Pollacks' only son, Steven, died in a plane crash in 1993.

Pollack, who often appeared on the screen himself, worked with and gained the respect of Hollywood's best actors in a long career that reached prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the Associated Press.

"Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better. A tip of the hat to a class act," actor George Clooney said in a statement issued by his publicist.

Last fall, Pollack played Marty Bach opposite Clooney in "Michael Clayton," a drama that examines the life of a fixer for lawyers. The film, which Pollack co-produced, received seven Oscar nominations, including best picture and a best actor nod for Clooney.

Pollack was no stranger to the Academy Awards. His 1985 film "Out of Africa," a romantic epic of a woman's passion set against the landscape of colonial Kenya, captured seven Oscars, including best director and best picture. Watch a glimpse of Pollack's film contributions ยป

In addition to directing "Out of Africa," "Tootsie," "The Way We Were," and a host of other Oscar-nominated films, he appeared in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives," and his own "The Electric Horseman." He recently appeared in "Made of Honor," playing Patrick Dempsey's father.

He co-starred with Tom Cruise in "Eyes Wide Shut"; he had previously directed the actor in "The Firm."

"I first met him while he was in the midst of editing 'Tootsie,' " Cruise said in a statement, according to the AP. "I'd seen every one of his pictures and he generously took the meeting. ... He spent over six hours, with the patience of Job, answering all my questions. ... He was a Renaissance man and a great friend. I will miss him dearly."

Pollack famously played the agent to lead character Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) in "Tootsie," arguing with Dorsey, a temperamental actor, over his inability to get a job:

"Are you saying that nobody in New York will work with me?" Dorsey asked.

"No, no, that's too limited," replied Pollack as agent George Fields. "Nobody in Hollywood wants to work with you either."

He then ripped into the actor for his Method acting as a tomato; Dorsey had refused to sit down because it was "illogical."

"You were a tomato!" Fields exploded.

During production, "Tootsie" was hampered by script rewrites (the screenplay was eventually credited to Murray Schisgal and Larry Gelbart) and fierce arguments between Hoffman and Pollack. But it all worked out in the end: the 1982 film was nominated for 10 Oscars, including nods for Pollack, Hoffman and the screenplay.

Pollack also produced nearly 50 films, including 1981's "Absence of Malice," which starred Paul Newman and Sally Field, and 1999's "The Talented Mr. Ripley," which starred Matt Damon.

"Having the opportunity to know Sydney and work with him was a great gift in my life," Field said in a statement, according to the AP. "He was a good friend and a phenomenal director and I will cherish every moment that I ever spent with him."

Pollack had a long working relationship with Robert Redford, whom he directed in seven films, beginning with "This Property Is Condemned" in 1966. The two had huge successes with almost all their films, which included "Jeremiah Johnson" (1972), "The Way We Were" (1973), "Three Days of the Condor" (1975), "The Electric Horseman" (1979) and "Out of Africa" (1985). Only 1990's "Havana" flopped at the box office.

"It's easy working with Bob; I don't have to be diplomatic with him," Pollack once told The Associated Press. "I know what he can and cannot do; I know all the colors he has. I've always felt he was a character actor in the body of a leading man."

Sydney Irwin Pollack was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and grew up in South Bend. He skipped college to enroll in New York's Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater, where he studied under famed teacher Sanford Meisner. He eventually became Meisner's assistant.

After a handful of acting roles, he turned to directing and established himself in television, directing episodes of such series as "Ben Casey," "Naked City" and "The Fugitive." His first theatrical film was 1965's "The Slender Thread," starring Sidney Poitier as a social worker trying to talk a woman out of suicide.

In recent years, Pollack made a number of appearances on television, giving performances as Will's father in "Will & Grace" and a murderous orderly on "The Sopranos."

Though he had been working until a few months ago, he had been in a lot of pain and did not watch "Recount," the HBO film that he executive produced, said Dart. "Recount" premiered Sunday night.

Doctors never were able to determine the primary source of the cancer, she said.

Services will be private, she said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parties, Karaoke, and Family: The Memorial Day Edition of the Weekend Wrap-Up


I got off work, watched a little Smackdown and chilled out.


I got my hair cut in the morning, went back home and took a nap, and later, I saw the new Indiana Jones. I liked the movie, I thought it was cool. Forget the critics. It's Indiana Jones, it's summertime, go see the darn movie!!!
Later, Mario Lindsey and I went over one of his friends' house. She was cool. She doesn't drink (like me), goes to church (like I should), and she doesn't seem to be a partier. Surprisingly, she's from St. Louis. Most people that I know from St. Louis I don't get along with. Go figure. After that, I went back home and chilled out.


I woke up early, but I left my phone on the charger in my room. That was a big mistake, because Rod Pitts called me at 8:54 AM. I didn't see the call and respond until about 9:20 AM. It turns out that people were looking for someone to replace an actor for some production. I think it might've been a paid acting gig. Rod said that since I didn't respond, he had to ask someone else. I will keep my cellphone with me at all times from now on.

Later, Bryan and I went to the wedding of our friend Terrance Young and his girlfriend Jill. Most of my close friends and wrestling crew were in attendance: Shomari Gant, Terra Hollis, "Angry" Nick Jones, Courtnery Wright, Jamaica, Mario, Paul "P-Dub" West, and Paul Briggs. Paul Briggs was actually the DJ for the reception. The wedding was brief, but cool. Terrance did a little breakdance move after they were officially married. I didn't stay for the reception because I was invited to another event. Also, weddings remind me that I'm alone. They're almost as bad as Valentine's Day.

My next event was Chris McCoy and Laura Hocking's annual pre-Memorial Day Barbecue. I hung out, joked, and ate food, some of which I shouldn't have. SSSHHH!! Don't tell my doctor. I ran into a few NBA fans and I ran into fellow actors Annie Gaia and Jeff Pope. It was cool.

My next stop was the Karaoke Smackdown, hosted by my good buddy David H. Shout out to him, Joe, Popcorn, Broadway, The Chris Haley, April Steel, Lauren, Clayton, Curt Franklin, Sean George, and the rest of the crew. I sang "Make Me Wonder" by Maroon 5, "Good Life" by Kanye West and T-Pain, and "Sussudio" by Phil Collins. David H. and I dueted on Bubba Sparx' "Ugly". I was supposed to help Clayton on Gladys Knights' "Midnight Train to Georgia", but I got tired. I can't keep up with these young whippersnappers like I used to. Say that last sentence in your best "grumpy old man" voice. My next stop was back to my happy Cordova home. Yay suburbia!!


My brother Thad and I went out to Watkins (North Memphis) and picked up my great-aunt Velma. We took her out to Moscow, Tennessee. Our family was celebrating Memorial Day and all of our May birthdays. My brother got our stepfather Crossett a birthday card that plays the theme from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" when you open it. He loves Westerns. I enjoyed talking with aunt Velma on the way up there and on the way back. Her social commentary can be a little profane, but always entertaining. My uncle Eugene, the pastor of my home church, has a park on his property. The family ate there and chitchatted. We talked politics and the older family members remnisced about old times. It was cool. Maybe I am getting less pretentious as I get older. My family does not annoy me as much as they used to. The greatest moment came when my uncle Eugene asked me if I wanted watermelon and I informed him that I don't eat watermelons. His resonse: "You ain't colored, boy". Classic!!
I really enjoyed myself. I guess I'm learning to appreciate my family. Speaking of which, shout out to my cousins Allison and Rachel for graduating last week. Allison is going to Lemoyne-Owen on a scholarship. Allison is also the mom of a very beautiful baby girl. I also found out that one of my cousins is in jail for violating probation. Pray for him, send positive evergy, whatever you feel like doing. Also, shout out to all the troops, families of troops, veterans, and soldiers that have died defending our country. I may not always agree with our reasons for combat, but I appreciate the sacrifices of the men and women in our armed forces. Be easy, readers!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Acting, Down Time, and Debates: The Weekend Wrap-Up


I finally acted again. I was in a film directed by my good buddy Anwar (not to be confused with my cousin). He and I used to work at the Ned McWherter Library on the University of Memphis campus years ago. We would always run into each other. He is a grad student in the U of M's film department, and he decided to make a film on his own. I play the character of Henny. Henny is a friend of a friend of Anwar's character. Henny comes up with the plan that basically gets Anwar's character and the character that plays his cousin out of trouble. Henny is a bit of a "boss", which was a welcome change of pace from the comic relief and horror victims that I have played in my brief career. I wrapped on Friday. One of the guys working behind the scenes was a member of Grip, a band that included my good friend Paul "P-Dub" West, an up-and-coming music producer. I had fun, and I was really sad when it was over.


I watched Saturday morning cartoons. The new Spider-Man show is awesome!!! I finally left home around 2:30. I went to Valvoline and got my oil changed, then I went to Quiznos. They have certain subs for $5. This is a very good thing. After that, I saw Baby Mama, the Tina Fey comedy. It was pretty funny. I just wasin't in the mood for the new Chronicles of Narnia film. I prefer to watch fantasy in the fall or winter. Blame Lord of the Rings. After that, I went to Jordan's. I did not stay for the karaoke, but I did get the all-you-can-eat catfish. I shouldn't have, but it was good!! I gave my pal David H. his b-day gift (his b-day was Thursday). It was a used copy of the DVD The Movie Hero . The movie is about a guy who thinks that he is in a movie and is always talking to his audience. Everyone thinks he's crazy. His therapist begins to fall in love with him and she begins to see the audience as well. I thought it was a clever film. After giving David the gift, I headed home. I was starting to get depressed. Frustration with my employment level, loneliness, and frustration with trying to chase my dream in this big town (Memphis) were getting to me. I distracted myself with TV.


I watched basketball and washed clothes until about 6:00. I picked up Bryan Newcomb and we went over my boy Shomari Gant's house and watched the latest WWE pay-per-view. The matches were boring, and I got into a debate about N-word usage and racial humor. I just don't like it. I still want to beat up Michael Richardson, Don Imus, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and I want to throw a rock at Sarah Silverman for her racial "humor". An African-American man defended Sarah Silverman. I told him he was lost. "P-Dub" was there, and he raised a good point. Dave Chapelle does racial jokes, and I like that. Okay, he got me on that one. I'm just tired of the "N" word and racial epithets being tossed around like confetti. Yes, I know that African-Americans are part of the problem, because we still use the "N" word.

Later, I went to the Vault on Highland for the Karaoke Smackdown. David H. was the KJ. Shout out to him, The Chris Haley, April Steele, Sean George,Nathan the bartender, Lauren and the rest of the regulars. Ironically, someone sang Dynamite Hack's "Boys in the Hood" cover that was originally sang by NWA (you know what the N stands for). Yes, they said the "N" word and yes they were White. However, once again, the song was originally written by African-Americans. The vicious cycle continues. There was a cute girl at the Vault who sang two songs very well. She was cute, and I was attracted to her, but she came with a guy. David H. said that it could be her brother. I said that with my luck, they would probably be engaged. David H. said that with my luck, they would be brother and sister, but she would be gay. That one hurt a little bit, but I had to laugh. I have been attracted to a few girls recently, only to find out that they "play for the other team". I laugh about it to make me feel better. I performed two songs last night: Prince's "Raspberry Beret" and Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar". It was my first time doing "Superstar", but I was okay. I had a pretty good time.

I don't really have any projects lined up, but I hope to enjoy the upcoming 3-day weekend. My friend Terrence and his girlfriend Jill are getting married, and I also have a few barbecues on the horizon. I will try to be good (no pig, little beef, little chicken). Be easy, readers!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Family, Movies, and Wrestling: The Weekend Wrap-Up


I got off work, went to some buffet on Stage Road(it wasn't very good) and met up with my mom, my cousin Nakia, my cousin Makeva, her daughter Kelby, my great-aunt Velma, my aunt Mary, and my cousin Kamaria. We chit-chatted, reminisced, and talked about upcoming family events. That was pretty much it for Friday.


I got up early in the morning and got a haircut. My barber was a little disappointed because I did not have my usual amount of sports knowledge. I didn't know that he would take the knowledge that I gave him and share with is patrons. I made excuses (sickness, busy at work, dog ate it), but he was not sympathetic. Wow, you shoot your mouth off on a few topics, all of a sudden you're "the expert". I will endeavor to be more knowledgeable by May 24, when I plan to get my hair cut again. After that, I went back to sleep, then I went to the church that my good buddy Jesse Lipford attends. It was Jesse's birthday. I just came by real quick and dropped off a gift. I bought him a "Before they were Stars" DVD about a popular African-American wrestler, Booker T. After that, I went to the comic book store. I got a free pass to see Son of Rambow on March 20. It seems to be a movie about some kids filming a sequel to Rambo. It appears to be set in the 80s, and the trailer piqued my interest. I'll check it out.
After that, I went to Hastings on Germantown Parkway and looked at the cool DVDs and CDs. After that, I saw the new David Mamet film Redbelt. Chiewetel Ejiofor, a Black British actor, was the main character. He was a martial arts instructor who was manipulated into competing in mixed-martial arts tournament to get out of debt. Mamet also wrote the film. I was told that his dialogue can be weird, and I agree. I did enjoy the film. Ejiofor did a good job, and Tim Allen had a serious role. It was different, but it was cool. After tht, I called it a night.


My brother and I went to Brooks Chapel, my home church, to be with our mom on Mother's Day. Elder Eugene Anderson (my uncle) gave a humorous yet uplifting sermon, and one of the church mothers kindly chastised me about getting back in church and getting right with God. I could only nod my head and thank her because I had been feeling the same way about everything she told me. I need to get back into church. It makes me feel better. After church, we went over my parents' house. I gave my mom her Mother's Day gift and my stepfather his birthday gift (his b-day was last week). My mom received the movie Clan of the Cave Bear on DVD. I remembered her reading the book series when I was younger. I gave my stepdad a DVD collection of the Lonesome Dove miniseries. As always, I am economic yet thoughtful. My aunt Mary, her daughter Kaci, her husband Cedric, and their children (Katerius, Jamarius, Kamaria, and Kameran)came over. The kids were cool (except Kamaria), but they ask some difficult questions. A few times I had to say "ask your parents that". I also loved the fact that I could win any argument with "You can't whoop me" or "I'm grown!!" Adulthood does have some perks to counteract the health issues and debt. Yay.
After I left my parents' house, I went over my boy Shomari's house and watched the TNA (Total Nostop Action)Wrestling pay-per-view. We tripped out and reminisced over old-school sports games and other topics. It was cool.

I don't really have any "official" acting gigs coming up, but I hear some things are in the works. Time will tell. Be easy, readers!!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Readings, Recordings, and Films: The Weekend Wrap-Up


I got off work and made it to a table reading for David:Valley of Shadows. I found out that Keenon (not Nikita), a fellow actor, was in the film, as was Jean Henderson, who attended the University of Memphis around the same time as me. It was an exciting read. I have been congested since Sunday, but I made it through.
Part of me wanted to go to MusicFest, but money and trying to recover from this cold ruled that out. It was raining, and I couldn't get sick the day before recording. I was told that the main group that I wanted to see (The Roots)canceled anyway. Maybe next year.


I was at the studio around 10 AM. Keenon and other cast members were there. We chilled out and watched Saturday morning cartoons until it was our turn. I struggled in the beginning, I guess I'm just so used to acting with someone. One of the crew had me grab their shoulder for added emphasis. We rehearsed it one time with me grabbing him, and I got it. The next recording, I was able to give them what they wanted without interacting with anyone. That was cool. The experience was humbling. It let me know that "King Indie" can still learn some new things. I also received my check that day. It was promptly deposited.

Next, I went to Comics and Collectibles. It was Free Comic Book Day. Stores all around the country receive these free comics (usually previews of different companies' upcoming storylines in different books). You can get as many free books as you want by purchasing one comic. I was happy for the C&C staff from a business standpoint, but it was crazy. There were WAY too many people in the store. Shout out to my good buddy Chris Haley, his girlfriend April Steele, and my buddy Damarico "Black Supervillain" Fowler, who I ran into.

I went home, napped, then I went to the 6:30 screening of Iron Man. I really enjoyed this film. Robert Downey, Jr. is excellent as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow also shined as his assistant. I hadn't seen a lot of her work, and I was impressed. Paltrow was also looking kinda sexy in those corporate outfits. Terrence Howard did a good job as James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony's best friend. Jeff Bridges was also vicious as the main villain Obadiah Stane. I am always glad to see GOOD comic book films. If you watch it, stay until after the closing credits. Without giving away too much, let's just say that there is a scene that hints at a future Marvel film.


I pretty much chilled at home and watched b-ball until the evening. I gave my buddy Bryan Newcomb his birthday gift, since he'll be out of town on his actual birthday. Afterwards, I went to the Karaoke Smackdown at the Vault on Highland. I gave Joe his birthday gift. I sang quite a few songs. I did a duet of Eminem's "Stan" with Kim. She rapped Eminem's verses, and I sang Dido's hook. It was awesome!!! My last song of the night was Snoop Dogg's "Sensual Seduction". Shout out to David H., Sean George, Joe Martini, and the rest of the Vault regulars.

Now that the cartoon is over, I feel a little empty. There are not a lot of productions taking place in Memphis right now. Our independent film scene is real slow right now. Many of my friends have moved or are planning to move out to California. I think I need to move somewhere. So far, the "Sellout Initiative" has resulted in two paid gigs, which is two more than I had last year. I really need to sign with an agency. I keep putting that off. Of course, inevitably, I am going to have to either move or be content with doing this mostly "for the love". I feel like that is the limit in Memphis. I have to formulate a plan. Be easy, readers.