ROMITA PASSES — (via Deadline) Iconic comic book artist John Romita Sr. known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and for co-creating such characters as Mary Jane Watson, Wolverine and the Punisher, has died. His son and fellow comic book artist, John Romita Jr, announced the news on social media saying his father passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday June 12. He was 93. Wrote Romita Jr, “He is a legend in the art world and it would be my honor to follow in his footsteps… He was the greatest man I ever met.” Romita Sr was born in Brooklyn and began his comic book career in 1949 with Timely Comics (the precursor to Marvel Comics), meeting Stan Lee before being drafted into the army. In the 1950’s he worked at rival DC Comics and in 1965 joined Marvel, initially drawing Daredevil comics. In 1966, he took over for Steve Ditko on The Amazing Spider-Man which was then Marvel’s second-biggest seller. “I was sort of counting the days until I could get back on Daredevil,” Romita Sr told Alter Ego in 2001.
“I really felt it was obvious that I couldn’t do Spider-Man as well as I could do Daredevil. I was amazed when Stan gave me Spider-Man to do. I felt he was desperate. So I did the book to help him out, hoping all the while that it would be temporary.” Ultimately, he co-created the character of Peter Parker’s love interest Mary Jane Watson and in 1973 was promoted to Art Director at Marvel.
His other contributions include designing or helping to design the Punisher, Wolverine, Luke Cage and Bullseye. He was also behind Monica Rambeau’s Captain Marvel debut in 1982. He went into semi-retirement in 1996.
In a 2002 interview, he said one of his greatest regrets was being born a bit too late to be part of the first generation of professional cartoonists. “I always felt that I became a follower of necessity. Because they had already done the ground rules. And I became a guy who was just following everybody else’s lead. I think I would have been more of a pioneer and more of a person in my own right rather than a follower. I think it stamped me forever. No matter what success I’ve had, I’ve always considered myself a guy who can improve on somebody else’s concepts. A writer and another artist can create something, and I can make it better… I don’t consider myself a creator. I’ve created a lot of stuff. But I don’t consider myself a real creator in a Jack Kirby sense. But I’ve always had the ability to improve on other people’s stories, other people’s characters. And I think that’s what’s made me a living for 50 years.”
His son, Romita Jr is also a respected, longtime Marvel artist known for his work on Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Uncanny X-Men, Iron Man and Kickass.
I’m a comic-geek for sure; but not today’s comics, rather the so-called golden age of comics. When Marvel really ruled the roost. I loved The Avengers; Fantastic Four; Spider-Man and Daredevil.Romita’s work brought a welcomed brashness and edge to the words. His work was instantly recognizable. Really tremendous. Huge loss for sure. RIP John!
BILLIONAIRE’S ROW READING – Wednesday night at Rizzoli in NOMAD, author Katherine Clarke was interviewed about her new book (Random House) Billionaire’s Row; which describes the trials and tribulations of the slew of ultra-luxe buildings on Central Park South in NYC.
SHORT TAKES — I started watching You Tube clips of TV’s Dallas. Why … I have no idea, but I sure loved that CBS show back in the day. Larry Hagman as JR Ewing was the villain you hated, but loved. He was just amazing.
As I ran through a bunch of them, I quickly realized that many of the plots are eerily similar to those on the current Yellowstone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Yellowstone is just an updated Dallas. This week, Dallas turned 45! Here’s a story from People on a recent reunion: https://people.com/dallas-cast-reunites-palm-springs-photos-exclusive-7511720?hid=b1bf31edeeaec0b7078e6bde01551e04718fc3ef&did=9411260-20230614&utm_source=ppl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=people-news_newsletter&utm_content=061423&lctg=b1bf31edeeaec0b7078e6bde01551e04718fc3ef
I’ve been watching the Tom Holland show The Crowded Room and though its terrifically moody and somewhat downbeat, the music has been nothing short of terrific: so far I’ve heard Electric Light Orchestra; Jimmy Bo Horne; Jefferson Starship; Meatloaf; Joy Division; Alice Cooper and Bill Withers. Good music stays; no question … Much ado about songstress Anita Baker canceling Babyface on a world tour. Seems Baker couldn’t stomach some negative-social media attacks. Years back, I had a client doing the Dick Clark’s American Music Awards and while Baker was rehearsing I snapped a few photos of her. She stopped the show cold and had me removed. Face it: She’s not a nice person … New Alice Cooper record? Yes, it’s called “I’m Alice” – here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVxJwWgv5Gg … Whatever happened to Greg D’Alessandro’s The Zombie Wedding? and, RIP Glenda Jackson.
The Glorious Corner
CHRIS CARTER — (Via Maz Digital) Chris Carter was 7 years old when his mother bought him Rubber Soul, the Beatles’ sixth studio album, at a ShopRite market in Wayne, New Jersey. Fifty-seven years later, he’s the ultimate Beatles expert as host for 22 years of Breakfast With the Beatles, a radio show carried each weekday on SiriusXM’s Beatles channel and Sundays on Los Angeles’ KLOS-FM. The show is celebrating its 40th anniversary, at the same time that music fans are marking the 60th anniversary of Beatlemania.
We talked with Carter about his unique position: He’s a musician too. Carter played bass in alternative rock band Dramarama in the 1980’s and 90’s. “I loved Paul’s bass playing, but I got into wanting to play the bass from listening to Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper records. That really hooked me in.”He was in the right place when he got the job. Carter follows original host Deirdre O’Donoghue, who died in 2001.
The job offer call came just before he went to a Ringo Starr concert. “I knew once I got the job, I would be there ’til I died. This is one of those long-term things and I’m not going anywhere. “Prep keeps it fresh. “I have to handpick 60 Beatles songs a day, or solo Beatles songs, and have them pertain to that day—say, an anniversary or ‘today in Beatles history.’ There’s always something in Beatles history.” On Wednesdays, he spins a wheel to develop a topic for the show, such as “fifth Beatles” or “violins.” “I have to instantly put a set of songs together that matches that category.”
And news events also play a role. When Robbie Robertson of The Band passed recently, Carter made sure to note that by discussing and playing Ringo Starr’s “Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond),” on which Robertson and other members of The Band played. “It never gets old. If they handed me a playlist, like they do for so many DJs, and said ‘Chris, play them,’ I would have no passion for that.” He was in the right place when he got the job.
Carter loves to provide tidbits about the songs he plays, so that listeners can experience them with fresh ears. “You’re dealing with 50- to 60-year-old music. If it’s not served up properly, you know, how many times can you hear ‘Hey Jude’? But if you put it in context, like this song was No. 1 for nine weeks. It was the first single over seven minutes long. And it was the first release on their own label. Most Beatles fans, they think they know a lot about the Beatles, but when you give them some information they might not know, then they’ll come back to you and listen again.” He broadcasts in front of a crowd. The satellite radio shows are put together in Carter’s home studio. But many of the shows for L.A. radio are broadcast live from one of three area venues. “I find it fun because in radio you never see your audience. Typically, you’re sitting in a room by yourself with a microphone. You could have maybe millions of people listening, but you don’t know who they are.
“The Beatles are fans. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have each called into the show for interviews, but Carter doesn’t have his head in the clouds about it. “They’ve got to sell a solo record. You’re on the radio. They need you for publicity. They know you’re there for them. Even though they’re the gods of the world, they still need you to sell their records.”SHORT TAKES — (Via Deadline) The meteoric political rise of George Santos and the web of fabulist tales it was built on are getting a movie treatment. HBO Films has optioned the rights to Mark Chiusano’s new book The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Grifting, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos, which was published on November 28, 2023. My only comment is, why? If this ever gets made, it will not be a hit. Exploitative? Definitely and not needed at all …
I’ve watched the two episodes of Hulu’s Fargo so far this season and though somehow intriguing, but didn’t I just see this show on Netflix – Who Is Erin Carter? Fargo’s creator Noah Hawley must have been transfixed by Carter. Odd for sure …
Also, just for the record, why was there so much Russian-dialogue in episode 4 of Apple TV+’s For All Mankind without any sub-titles? Clearly this show has suffered some major budget-cuts, but that was a huge error for sure. Ronald D. Moore’s creation started out brilliantly, but has become something like a space-age soap-opera. Sad for sure.
This show was among my favorites … I loved Chuck Lorre’s Big Bang Theory, so I was anxious to see his Bookie on MAX. Sebastian Maniscalco – who I don’t really get at all – left me somewhat underwhelmed. The show’s about a bookie – funny? Somehow it wasn’t. Even a cameo by Charlie Sheen w/o tiger blood was a letdown.
Very disappointed … Joe Cocker-scribe Mark Bego speaks to Zach Martin Wednesday for his NEWHD outpost …
HAPPY BDAY Randy Newman and RIP one of the most adventurous, creative and intriguing women I’ve ever known, Mica Ertegun.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Kent and Laura Denmark; Steve Leeds; Ira Robbins; Richard Branciforte; Eppy; Barry Fisch; Frank Patz; Bobby Bank; Roger Clark; Edmond O’ Brien; Jonathan Clyde; Richard Johnson; James Edstrom; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Bob Kaus; and BELLA!
TAP 2 — (Via Rock Cellar) Doubling down after a May 2022 report that indicated everything was a go for a sequel to 1984’s classic comedy/music industry satire This Is Spinal Tap, filmmaker Rob Reiner has now confirmed that plans are taking shape in a big way.
Not only is the sequel on tap (pun intended) to begin filming in early 2024, but Reiner recently told comedian/podcast host Richard Herring that “everybody’s back” for the sequel. This no doubt refers to principal cast members Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest, though Tony Hendra (who portrayed the band’s manager, Ian Faith, passed away in 2021).
The U.K.’s Guardian notes that the plot will reportedly center on Faith’s death, after which his widow inherits a contract that requires the band to do one last concert. Reiner is also due to return in the character of film-maker Marty DiBergi, a figure supposedly based on Martin Scorsese, who had directed celebrated music documentary The Last Waltz in 1976.
What’s more, Reiner also spilled the beans that appearances from Sirs Paul McCartney and Elton John and Garth Brooks are in the works too, among what one must assume will be a million other amusing cameos. After all, a film as beloved and influential as the original This Is Spinal Tap counts pretty much every living musician as a fan (give or take), so you know the sequel will hold nothing back when it comes to the entertainment factor.
In the podcast, Reiner also talked about This Is Spinal Tap’s remarkable afterlife, culminating in selection for the National Film Registry in 2002, after its initially unfavourable reception on its first release. “To wind up in the National Film Registry, that’s bizarre,” Reiner said. “We previewed it in a theatre in Dallas, Texas, and the people didn’t know what the heck they were looking at. They came up to me afterwards and said, ‘I don’t understand, why would you make a movie about a band that no one has ever heard of, and they are so bad? Why would you ever do that? Why don’t you make a movie about the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?’ I would say, ‘It’s satire,’ and I tried to explain. But over the years people got it, and started to like it.”
Personally, I found the 1984 original movie just hilarious. Aside from a great send-up of the music biz, the cameos were just fascinating: Paul Shaffer as PR-man Artie Fufkin; Dana Carvey and Billy Crystal as ‘mime’ waiters; Fred Willard; Anjelica Houston; Russ Kunkel; Danny Kortchmar and Fran Drescher as promo-gal Bobbi Fleckman … all just inspired.
Reiner’s on a roll – his Albert Brooks doc Defending My Life is sensational. A must-see.
Maybe an update of The Monkees’ HEAD next?
SHORT TAKES — Mark Bego’s Joe Cocker tome hit #4 on theAmazon charts this week. Here’s a great review from Goldmine on the book by their Lee Zimmerman: https://l.messenger.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goldminemag.com%2Freviews%2Fjoe-cocker-book-shines-light-on-unfortunate-undercurrents-of-a-stars-career&h=AT2zaG2QKuxuHdpJO1nPHKaiO7IWkbAHCBRAeq3m4-J45axSc_wBott7ABve8Wcd7GpQC13gybDWb2Hale6D809pTdtqqmpDoxC4u6FLA7SNNJ2jHbVKKpSaH1kxX4Ide1AyXDJXSZL2idNWvOch4A
… Micky Dolenz sang “Silly Love Songs” at Monday’s Troubadour benefit for Denny Laine and our spy said he really rocked it. Maybe a Dolenz Sings McCartney album is next? … So, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is authentic? Interesting choice for sure …
Writer and reporter Pablo Guzman passed this last weekend. An original member of The Young Lords, Guzman was a fierce fighter and brilliant writer. On Fox 5/Good Day NY for decades, he most recently was a reporter at WCBS. Here’s the Daily News take: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12799071/Legendary-NYC-news-anchor-Pablo-Guzman-dies-aged-73-Big-Apple-veteran-reporter-dubbed-son-Bronx-founded-Puerto-Rican-activist-group-Young-Lords-journalist.html …
And it’s official, the NY-launch for the Mark Bego Joe Cocker book will be Tuesday, January 9 at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Sara Gore; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Daryl Estrea; Tony King; Ace Shortly; Kjersti and Jeremy Long; Debbie Gibson; Van Dean; Liz Skollar; Maude Adams; Robert Vaughn; Steve McQueen; Zach Martin; Coati Mundi; Avery Sharp; Steve Walter; Gary Gershoff; Jane Blunkell; Kimberly Cornell; Paul Iorio; Lee Jeske; MArt Ostrow; Peter Shendell; Sharon White; and ZIGGY!
A CHER STEAL — This year’s 97th edition of the Macy’s Day Parade was a rather underwhelming one, save for Chicago – inexplicably singing “Your My Inspiration” – and the always, indefatigable Cher, singing a track “DJ Play a Christmas Song” off her new holiday-themed album. The first few bars will terribly auto-tuned, but that seemed to disappear and Cher’s vocals rang full and bold.
She was, typically, a pro. Mixing effortlessly and emotionally with the dancers in a terrific set. Some pundits reported the clip was shot days earlier, but she was live and, just sensational. I wish more of today’s performers possessed her vigor and skills. That’s why most of the current acts, here today, will be gone tomorrow.
As we went to press, we learned that this parade was Macy’s most-watched edition ever! Congrats.
HALL VS. OATES — Some terrible news appeared in Wednesday’s media that Daryl Hall had taken out a TRO against partner-John Oates. I’ve loved what these two have done for decades and I loved Hall’s solo albums; especially the one he did with Robert Fripp in 1977 Sacred Songs. His record company at the time (RCA) hated it so much, they held up its release for three years.
I also well remember them in the 80’s when it seemed you could’t turn on a radio without hearing their music. 29 of their 33 singles were major chart hits on Billboard. But I do go back to them even in the 70’s, with their terrific “She’s Gone” which basically launched them. And, my favorite album of their War Babies, produced by Todd Rundgren. Quick note: That album sounds as good and relevant as it did when it came out in 1974.
The problem seems to arise from Oates wanting to sell his portion of certain songs to Primary Wave Artists – which ironically owns several of their songs already. It’s a small point, but that seems to be the issue. In all actuality, it’s another case of a classic-rocker selling his music.
In Oates’ book several years ago (Change of Seasons: A Memoir), he hardly mentioned Hall and regrettably that animus has apparently reared its angry head. They’re Philly boys, I’m from Philly and it’s just an awful coda to what was one of music’s major success stories. Sad all around.
SHORT TAKES — Terrific article in this week’s Closer on Micky Dolenz. Check it out here: https://www.closerweekly.com/posts/micky-dolenz-on-telling-stories-on-stage-and-in-his-book/
btw: Dolenz tapes KTLA’s Countdown To 2024 this week in LA …
I first met Phil Quartararo in the lobby of the old Mondrian Hotel in LA with John Sykes and we struck up a friendship that lasted until he passed last week. He was at Virgin for a time and worked with the artists there including The Spice Girls and Paul Abdul. In these fast-changing-times in the music business, he remained somewhat behind the scenes of late, but admitted he missed working with the artists. Phil was a guy you never ever heard a bad word about. Huge loss. Here’s Billboard’s take on Phil:
… As you’ve not doubt read, there is trouble in the Marvel-comic kingdom. The latest Captain Marvel movie (The Marvels) didn’t perform nearly as well as everyone hoped for and their newest star, Jonathan Majors as Kang, is tied up in several court matters.
So, we hear that Kang is out and Doctor Doom is in. Stay tuned …
And Forbes’ James M. Clash has released Amplified; culled from his terrific interviews with the icons of rock ‘n roll; including Grace Slick; Art Garfunkel; Ginger Baker; Micky Dolenz; and Roger Daltry. Here’s the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CNJZYW2J?ref_=cm_sw_r_apan_dp_WKCSH7AC0ZTK18RZF4ED&language=en-US NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Leeds; Kate Hyman; Bono; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Peter Abraham; Bobby Bank; Dina Pitenis; Frank DiLella; Donnie Kehr; Steve Leber; Don Wardell; Anne Adams; Billy Smith; John Boulos; Kimberly Cornell; Sam Rubin; Nexstar; and ZIGGY!
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Michael Urie and Ethan Slater
With the holidays, my caricature of Spamalot is taking time, so I decided to highlight the two performers who for me stood out.
I have drawn Michael Urie several times, but I love this picture with him and my drawing of him in Buyer and Seller. Urie as Sir Robin, shows a new side of him that is truly funny.
Ethan Slater should have won a Tony for Sponge Bob Square Pants. My guess is he will be nominated again for his multiple roles in Spamalot.
Up next my caricature of Spamalot
NINA CHASE LIVES! — (Via Deadline) Shantal VanSanten is moving from FBI to FBI: Most Wanted for the latter show’s fifth season. She will reprise the role of Special Agent Nina Chase.
Nina is a well-seasoned FBI agent who is strong-willed, sharp and used to working undercover. The character was first introduced on the mothership series toward the end of Season 4 and she continued her recurring role in various episodes of Season 5 which concluded in May. Nina remains in a relationship with FBI’s Stuart Scola (John Boyd) as they raise their infant son Douglas together.
VanSanten is joining the cast following Alexa Davalos’ exit from FBI: Most Wanted, which Deadline reported exclusively in August. Their new season will debut on Tuesday, February 13.
The show is part of the massive Dick Wolff-empire and is actually a rather brilliant move; as the character has established itself on the other show and should fit nicely with Dylan McDermott and cast. The Wolff-machine just lost Jeffrey Donovan from Law & Order and recently installed their fifth showrunner on the much-troubled Law & Order: Organized Crime with Christopher Meloni; which is due to start their fourth season next year.
VanSanten also portrayed Karen Baldwin in the Apple TV+ show For All Mankind and was just terrific. Never heard of her before that show, but just a stunningly good performance, Nina Chase.
SHORT TAKES — Always read the posts. Loved this one: I was so confused! In Australia the show is called Morning Wars. And, yes, they were talking about Apple TV+’s Morning Show. That would be a more apt title … Looks like the NYC-launch for Mark Bego’s Joe Cocker-tome will be Tuesday, January 9 at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room. And Bego does an 11-city radio tour next week for Premiere Radio … Micky Dolenz’s R.E.M. cover of “Shiny Happy People hit #5 of the Heritage Chart in the U.K. … Every six months or so I read something about how The Starship’s “We Built This City” is the worst record of all time. Being home-bound for a time, I began hearing it regularly on my iHeart Hits of the 80’s and began to like it. Here’s a terrific summary of the song by Rob Tannenbaum. It’s actually hilarious: https://www.gq.com/story/oral-history-we-built-this-city-worst-song-of-all-time …
Deadline reported that NBC’s La Brea will end with a six-episode season next year. This is the show about a massive sinkhole in Hollywood that tuns into a time-travel escapade. Crazy writing, but somehow addictive. I found it a guilty-pleasure. Here’s the story: https://deadline.com/2023/11/la-brea-canceled-season-3-1235630123/ …
Sad that CBS’ Blue Bloods is ending after a spectacular 14-season run. I watched it when it started, then was out for a few seasons, but came back after Steve Schirripa joined the cast. Costs indeed did the show in, but you have to admit those family dinners which closed out each episode were sensational. Selleck, an icon. There’s not another show like this on TV right now; smart writing and brilliant acting. Treat Williams had a re-occurring role as an old mate of Selleck’s. Hope they do a proper tribute to him as he was stellar. Will be missed for sure … A 16-date Rolling Stones tour was announced Tuesday. Sponsored by AARP no less. Stones Tour 24 …
NY-Nightlife-Mayor Eric Adams seems to walking a tightrope – what with the ongoing FBI probe and city budget-cuts … Wintercon’s Frank Patz is interviewed for Medium today. It’s December 2 and 3 … Happy Thanksgiving!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Richard Johnson; Ian Mohr; Harvey Levin; Kimberly Cornell; Plastic EP; Jane Blunkell; Tony King; Dave Mason; Michael McDonald; Kenny Loggins; Fortune Benatar; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Race Taylor; Jim Kerr; Ken Dashow; Plastic EP; Brad Balfour; Frank Patz; and ZIGGY!
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