The Daily Gazette 

Posted April 14, 2017

End to film credits in Michigan leads Flint Twp movie maker Brad Lyon to relocate operations to west coast

   FLINT TWP. —- The Flint Township movie studio offices of Lyon Productions will remain open until the end of 2018, but owner Brad Lyon announced Friday on The Morning Gazette Radio Show that he will be relocating soon to the west coast. Lyon said he regrets not being able to make movies in the Flint area, but said the industry has been driven out of Michigan because of Governor Rick Snyder and the state legislature ending film credits for film makers.  Click Here to Read More 

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Posted April 6, 2017

Comedian king of insults Don Rickles passes away at age 90 

   LOS ANGELES —- Comedian Don Rickles died on Thursday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his long-time publicist, Paul Shefrin. Rickles was 90 and the cause of death was was kidney failure, according to Shefrin's press release statement.

   Rickles appeared at top showrooms and concert halls across the USA and around the world for more than 55 years as one of comedy’s most famous funnymen. He was well known for TV appearances during the 1960's and 1970's, including most famously on major prime time hits such as the Dean Martin Show and the Johnny Carson Show. Rickles also appeared in motion pictures, appeared on hit 1970's TV show Hollywood Squares and was a frequent guest on TV sitcoms, dramatic series and talk shows.

   Rickles was born in New York City and grew up in the Jackson Heights area. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from Newtown High School and served for two years during World War II on the USS Cyrene as a seaman first class. He was honorably discharged in 1946. It was soon thereafter that Rickles went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

    The web site bio for Rickles says his stand-up comedy career began because he was unable to get a significant amount of acting work after graduating from the the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, He became known as an “insult” comedian as he would respond to his hecklers. The audience seemed to enjoy these spontaneous barbs more than his prepared material and he developed a style which featured making fun of people. When he began his career in the early 1950’s, he started calling ill-mannered members of the audience “hockey puck” —- a term associated with Rickles throughout his career.

   Early in his career and while still a relative unknown, spotted Frank Sinatra in the audience at a Miami Beach nightclub and said to him, “I just saw your movie, The Pride and the Passion , and I want to tell you, the cannon was great. Make yourself at home Frank. Hit somebody.” Sinatra, whose pet name for Rickles was “bullet-head,” enjoyed Don so much that he returned to see him when Rickles was performing at the Slate Brothers nightclub in Los Angeles and encouraged other celebrities to see his act. Rickles soon became the “in” comic among the Hollywood stars who flocked to see him to become the target of his insults. Sinatra’s continuing support helped Rickles become a popular performer in Las Vegas where he first started in 1959 and remained a headliner for decades.

   “Mr. Warmth” was another nickname that stuck over the years for Rickles —- one coined affectionately by Carson for his style of humor in which he poked fun at people of all ethnicities and all walks of life. Many suggest Carson gave Rickles his big break to become a household name with a guest appearance on his popular night-time show known as The Tonight Show on Oct. 7, 1965. His freewheeling performance that night became the talk of the show business industry and caused nationwide comment among the press and public. Rickles went on to become a frequent guest and guest host, appearing more than 100 times during Carson’s tenure.

   One of his most memorable appearances occurred in 1968 when, while Carson was being bathed and massaged by two women, Rickles walked onto the set and jokingly began to massage Carson who was on his stomach and wearing a towel. He wrapped his arms around Carson and said “I’m so lonely, Johnny!”  Laughing hysterically, Carson got up, grabbed him and threw the fully-dressed Rickles into the bathtub.

   Rickles made his dramatic film debut in 1959 with in a film starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, which was called Run Silent, Run Deep. Rickles also appeared in The Rat Race with Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds, he portrayed Robert De Niro’s trusted colleague in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, he appeared in Innocent Blood, played a movie theater manager in TNT television movie The Wool Cap which starred William H. Macy, as con man Sgt. Crapgame alongside Clint Eastwood in Kelly’s Heroes and as a carnival barker who exploits the lead character played by Ray Milland. in Roger Corman’s drama film X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. Rickles was the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the revolutionary Pixar computer-animated films Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.

   Hs also appeared in the popular "Beach Party" film series, and R
ickles often recalled that former first lady Barbara Bush teased him about his decision to be in the "Beach Party" films, saying, “I just caught Muscle Beach Party on the tube. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.”

   Rickles had a starring role in the 1976 TV show C.P.O Sharkey and had numerous guest-starring appearances on TV sitcoms and dramtic series. Among the most memorable guest-starring roles were playing an old war buddy of Don Adams on the TV series known as Get Smart and portraying a troubled comedian who winds up killing an audience member on Run For Your Life. Other TV guest appearances included on popular TV shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, The Munsters, Gilligan’s Island, The Andy Griffith Show and I Dream of Jeannie.

  Joining the Dean Martin Show as a regular in 1969 came after a guest appearance where he proceeded to ad-lib for one hour  (eventually edited down to 20 minutes for the show) while facing Danny Thomas, Jackie Cooper, Bob Newhart, Dean Martin, Ernest Borgnine, Don Adams, Ricardo Montalban and Pat Boone. People throughout the country repeated lines by Rickles for weeks. Particularly memorable was his remark as Bob Hope walked into the studio and took a seat.  It was during the Vietnam War when Hope often entertained troops, including on TV specials.  Rickles snapped, “What’s Bob Hope doing here?  Is the war over?” 

   After Martin's prime time TV show ended, Rickles later became a fixture on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts which continued into the mid 1980’s.

   Behind the sharp barbs by Rickles in his routine was a deep affection and love for those whom he seemed to be taunting, according to his friends “If I were to insult people and mean it, that wouldn’t be funny,” Rickles once told an interviewer. “There is a difference between an actual insult and just having fun,” he added.

  One of his best memories was a memorable TV appearance in 1985 when performing with Sinatra at President Ronald Reagan’s second Inaugural Ball. Sinatra stipulated that he would not appear unless Rickles was allowed to perform with him. He “zinged” the President, the Vice President and other dignitaries gathered for the occasion, and he called this performance the highlight of his career.

   There was also a best-selling memoir in 2007 called Rickles’ Book released by Simon & Schuster. Later that same year, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project made its debut on HBO as a documentary about and starring Rickles. The documentary won two Emmys, one for "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special" and the other one for "Individual Performance." A second book with Simon & Schuster was also later released, known as Rickles’ Letters.

   In the Spring of 2012 at the Comedy Awards in New York City, Rickles was honored to be the second recipient of the prestigious “Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence”.  The previous honoree was David Letterman. He was honored with the Friars Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Comedy a year later at a star-studded awards gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

   His final big night on TV came in May of 2014 when Spike TV, TV Land and Comedy Central aired the One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles. Honoring Rickles on the two-hour special, which emanated from the famed Apollo Theater in New York City, were Bill Cosby, Robert DeNiro, Johnny Depp, Tina Fey, Brad Garrett, Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, Tracy Morgan, Eddie Murphy,  Bob Newhart, Regis Philbin, Amy Poehler, Ray Romano, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart and Brian Williams.

   Rickles had continued to be very active on the stand-up comedy scene as a popular performer in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other venues around the country. He said in a recent interview that he had no plans to retire, saying, “I’m in good health.  I’m working better than I ever have.  The audiences are great.  Why should I retire? I’m like a fighter. The bell rings and you come out and fight. My energy comes alive. And, I still enjoy it.”

   Rickles received the honor in 2000 of having his “Star” put alongside the greats of the entertainment industry on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

   Rickles was married to wife Barbara for more than 50 years and he considered comedian Bob Newhart to be his best friend. He and Barbara often vacationed over the years with Newhart and his wife. He's also survived by daughter Mindy and grandchildren Ethan Mann and Harrison Mann. He was preceded in death by son Larry, a producer  who passed away in December 2011 at the age of 41.

Posted April 9, 2017

Chuck Berry given Rock-n-Roll sendoff in St. Louis memorial 

   ST. LOUIS —- Chuck Berry was remembered at a memorial service on Sunday for changing the music landscape and keeping worldwide fame planted in his hometown of St. Louis. A letter read by Rep. William Lacy of St. Louis, former President called Berry "one of America’s greatest rock ’n’ roll pioneers." He died three weeks ago at age 90.​  Click Here to Read More

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