I’m on my way to a memorial service, one you probably haven’t heard about. While the mainstream media has focused on the death of Michael Jackson — the third most-talented Jackson, behind Rebbie and Tito — not a peep has been said about the passing of Fred Travelena, the gifted mimic and my close friend.
Sure, Jacko could moonwalk, but could he do a spot-on Alan Thicke? Hardly. And Fred’s Abe Vigoda impression was without peer. Now he’s gone. I’ve been searching for my smile ever since.
In the meantime, let’s answer some reader mail.
Duane from Atlanta writes, “My life is a gaytastrophe! How should I deal?”
Dear Duane, Fred Travelena is dead and all you can think about is yourself! Next!
Devin from Decatur writes, “Who’s the sexier vixen: Morgan Brittany or Mary Crosby?”
Dear Devin, Charlene Tilton!
Fred from Fairburn writes, “What’s the latest with you and Leeza Gibbons?”
Dear Fred, Two words: Restraining order. She’ll never stalk me again!
Mildred from Peachtree City writes, “Whatever happened to the Hager Twins?”
Dear Mildred, They’re dead. Satisfied? Gaaah!
Brian from Ellijay writes, “Who’s your biggest celebrity crush?”
Dear Brian, Jo Anne Worley. We shared a moment.
Elinor from East Point writes, “What’s your favorite Samantha Fox song?”
Dear Elinor, Enjoy.
Sheldon, still recovering from his showdown with Leeza Gibbons, is on sabbatical this month. Substituting on The Blurbomat: Sheldon’s close friend, movie reviewer Pete Hammond — the critic celebrities trust most, according to Byron Allen.
- “The Proposal”: A riotously funny screwball farce is a strong candidate for the year’s best comedy – at least so far.
- “The Taking of Pelham 123″: Thirty-five years after the pulse-pounding thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three was made, this sleek, faster-paced remake not only improves on a good thing, it showcases a much different New York than its pre-9/11 predecessor.
- “Imagine That”: After the debacle of last summer’s dreadful “Meet Dave”, Eddie is back at his best in his funniest comedy in years, a feel-good winner with something for everyone.
- “Terminator: Salvation”: Packed with two hours of non-stop action, it delivers everything you could want from a ‘Terminator’ film and more. Much more.
- “Star Trek”: This brilliant reninvention of the beloved sci-fi franchise boldly (and smartly) goes where no ‘Star Trek’ has ever gone before.
Just returned from a kibbutz with Charlotte Rae, though I wish she had told me physical labor was involved. Still, it was nice to catch up with Miss Charlotte, who’ll be playing Mrs. Robinson next week at the Akron Dinner Theatre’s production of “The Graduate” opposite Jeremy “Growing Pains” Miller. Share in the laughter, and the love.
Anyway, on to summer. Now I love sequels as much as the next person, but how come they never make the ones I want to see?
- “Three Men and a Grandbaby” Like you need an excuse to reunite Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and the great Steve Guttenberg! You all know how I feel about Steve, one of the most gifted actors of my lifetime and a victim of anti-Semitism if ever there was one. Shame on you, Hollywood. Shame.
- “Torch Song Trilogy 2” Talk about your role reversals! The great Harvey Fierstein (btw, he’s gay in real life) inherits the Anne Bancroft role as the elder scold trying to understand his straight son’s meshuggina romance with a Christian conservative. Oy!
- “Gigli 2” Bennifer may have bit the dust, but Marc Anthony and J-Lo are still going strong. Just put him in the Ben Affleck role and be done with it. “It’s turkey time.” “Gobble gobble!”
- “Wild Wild East” Starring Will Smith. Enough said!
- “Caddyshack III” I never cared for the original, due to the presence of Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield. They weren’t in the sequel, which was much improved, and now, fortunately, they’re dead, guaranteeing that a third “Caddyshack” would be better than the first.
- “Battlefield Teegeeack” L. Ron Hubbard is the Agatha Christie of our time. Keep ‘em coming, Ronnie!
Rest easy, blurbomat-aniacs — the sabbatical’s over. Nothing charges the batteries quite like two months at a Sandals resort, especially when you’re able to hang out with good friends like Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding to you) and the delightful Ray J. Johnson. You can call me relaxed!
But enough about me. You came for some fresh dish and ‘dat:
- I saw the “Hannah Montana” movie twice this weekend — once for adorable Hannah, the other for spunky Miley Cyrus. Loved them both, though I wouldn’t have minded seeing a little more Billy Ray Cyrus.
- Perplexing news from up north: Billy Bob Thornton’s band has canceled their Canadian tour. Seems those hosers don’t appreciate Billy Bob’s music. He may not be much of an actor, but boy can he sing! Leave it to the country that produced both Tommy Chong and Rae Dawn Chong not to notice.
- I just discovered that Emilio Estevez is Martin Sheen’s son. Who knew?
- Speaking of famous Hollywood families, whatever happened to Frank Stallone? The “Staying Alive” soundtrack defined me back in 1983, and, for Frank’s sake, I hope his career is “Far from Over.”
- TV’s just not the same without Charlene Tilton.
- As much as I enjoy Steven Webber’s political musings, I wish he’d focus on what’s really important: Resurrecting “Wings.” In the Greenbriar household, “Seinfeld” was known as “that show that came on before Wings.”
Remember me? I’m back from two weeks on the Pacific Princess cruise with the real “Love Boat” crew. As you know, being a Hollywood columnist can be exhausting — even on my break I’m working.
When I wasn’t chasing tail with Bernie Kopell, aka Doc, I took the opportunity to reflect on what really matters in life.
Some random thoughts:
- Isn’t it about time they made a movie version of “Fantasy Island”? Antonio Banderas could play Mr. Roark, and troubled tot Verne Troyer could play Tattoo. Speaking of troubled, I knew Hervé Villechaize very well. He liked to fight, especially after half a pina colada. Alcohol is the curse of those people, you know.
- Speaking of remakes, who wouldn’t want to see “Dawson’s Creek: The Movie”? It would be the perfect vehicle for the perfect couple, Tom and Katie. He could play Pacey.
- Is racism to blame for Jackee’s lack of work? I hope not, but a talent like that deserves to shine.
- Can you believe “What Happens in Vegas” didn’t get a single Oscar nomination? Hollywood’s just jealous of Ashton Kutcher, but to me he’s the new William Holden, only more talented.
Now, some fresh dis’ and dat’:
- I was delighted to hear they’re making an American version of “Absolutely Fabulous”. Best of all, according to star Kristen Johnston, they’re doing away with the stuff that didn’t work on the original. No smoking, for one, and Johnston said it’ll be more PC. That’s good to hear. What made AbFab work were the touching moments between mother and daughter. I could’ve done without Patsy, but hopefully Johnston’s character will be more human — and humane.
- Blind item: Which former television personality, whose name rhymes with Sleeza, is still a bitch?
That’s all for now, kiddies. I’m off to JoAnne Worley’s annual Groundhog Day party. Hope I don’t see my shadow.
People ask me, Sheldon, what’s your favorite Christmas memory? It had to be Christmas, 1978, when my Aunt Maude gave me the home version of the “$1.98 Beauty Show”. Oh how I loved playing Rip Taylor!
- Worst Christmas memory? Co-hosting the Dayton, Ohio Christmas parade with Leeza, I mean, Sleeza, Gibbons. For the record, she threw the first punch.
- It’s just not Christmas without Kathie Lee Gifford on the turntable. Her version of “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime” brings nothing but joy to my world.
- Best Christmas movie? Has to be “Ebbie,” starring the incomparable Susan Lucci as a female Scrooge. Trust me, you won’t be saying bah, humbug after watching this holiday classic.
- To you-know-who: Season Three of “Rhoda” better be in my stocking come Thursday morning!
- Saw “Valkyrie” the other day. Tom Cruise may not speak Germanese, but he’s totally convincing as a Nazi. Perhaps Katie can play Eva Braun some day.
- You heard it here first: 2009 is going to be a big year for the Landers twins!
Well, kiddies, I better scoot or I’ll be late for Byron Allen’s annual Kwanzaa party. Happy holidays!
Some fresh dish ‘n ‘dat, then it’s off to Jim J. Bullock’s holiday party:
- Like everyone else, I can’t wait for the next episode of Rosie’s variety show. Don’t you hate how those TV networks tempt us with something delicious then make us wait for seconds?
- Speaking of delicious things, I wish Church’s still sold that BBQ fried chicken. Mmmm, mmmm good!
- Look up courage in the dictionary, and you’ll find a picture of Clay Aiken.
- Livin’ la vida homo? Which sexy Puerto Rican singer is rumored to be gay? Let’s just say he bangs.
- Elizabeth Hasselbeck for president? Just sayin’ …
- How come we never see Flip Wilson, Roxie Roker, Redd Foxx, or Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) on TV anymore? Methinks racism is to blame.
- David Gest makes a mean margarita!
- Best idea I’ve ever had? “Three Men and a Bride,” reuniting that classic screen trio: Danson, Selleck and the great Steve Guttenberg. This time, their little girl is all grown up and getting married. Hilarity ensues.
- Are Elton John and Olivia Newton-John still married?
- Whatever happened to Joyce Hyser, the talented he/she from “Just One of the Guys”? And for that matter, where’s Billy Zabka been hiding?
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sean Penn, star of such film classics as “All the King’s Men,” “We’re No Angels” and, of course, “Shanghai Surprise”.
Q: So Sean, now that Madonna has divorced that British bloke – don’t you just love that word – is there any chance you two could get back together?
Q: What about on screen? “Shanghai Surprise” is one of my all-time favorites.
A: You liked that movie?
Q: Who didn’t?
A: I don’t care to talk about the past.
Q: So I know you have a teen-age daughter, Dylan. Strange name, Dylan. Where did that come from?
Q: Well anyway I’m sure Dylan is a Hannah Montana fan. Do you hope to one day work with Miley Cyrus?
A: Dylan doesn’t watch television. Right now I’m teaching her about the Basque separatists.
Q: I’m sure I don’t know what that is. But I’m curious, what do you think about Billy Ray Cyrus’ parenting skills? Is he too permissive?
A: That’s none of my business. Why are you asking me that?
Q: ‘Cause you’re famous, and a father, and so is he.
A: This interview is over.
Q: Wait, Sean, please. I need you to settle a bet. You worked with Robert DeNiro in “We’re No Angels,” which, by the way, was a delightful romp. What do you think was Bobby’s greatest role: “Analyze This” or “Analyze That”?
A: You fucking mainstream media toady! You wanna go! Come on, right now!
Q: Oh, pipe down Spicoli! Now tell me, what was Judge Reinhold really like, behind the scenes? Do you two still hang out?
I'm not short, I'm just small-boned!
And that was that. I don’t know why Mr. Penn was so angry, but I’ve seen that kind of behavior before. Like the time I asked Paul Williams what he wanted to be when he grew up. He kicked my so hard I almost lost a testicle.
Some quick dish and ‘dat, then it’s off to Joyce DeWitt’s annual Thanksgiving party. Rumor has it the great Audra Lindley (Mrs. Roper) will be there:
- Despite his public persona, Richard Simmons is actually very sensitive.
- Blind item: Which former game show contestant who frequently appeared on “Bewitched” was secretly gay? Hint: He was anything but square.
- A screen reunion I’m dying to see: Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore. They were the Tai and Randy of cinema.
- Don’t you miss those Pepsi commercials with that adorable little redheaded girl?
- I confess: I’m always quoting “Jerry Maguire”. It completes me.
- My dream dinner party: The Povich’s (Maury and Connie Chung), Rita Rudner, Wayland Flowers & Madame and Dean Koontz.
- Christmas won’t the same without a new Tim Allen “Santa Clause” movie.
(originally published 11/08)
Heading out to Jaye P. Morgan’s pad for mimosas, but first a little dish and ‘dat:
- Arte Johnson was a troubled man.
- All my non-heterosexual friends are angry with me because I voted Yes on Prop. 8. I don’t get it. I voted Yes for gay marriage. Methinks there’s some self-loathing going on.
- Robin Williams + septic tank jokes = comic poop, er, gold. “RV” is this week’s must-rent.
- From the “you learn something new every day department”: Turns out Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers aren’t married. As for Miss Powers, she’s still gorgeous!
- Paging Doug Henning: The world could use a little magic and illusion right about now.
- I’ll never forgive Leeza Gibbons for what she said to me.
- I miss “Mastermind Monday’s” at David and Liza’s. Did you know I once met the game’s inventor, Mordecai Meirowitz? He didn’t find my Jewish jokes funny, which surprised me considering he lived in Israel.
- I know most people find them cute, but trolls scare me.
- Speaking of Paul Williams … I’m not a fan.
- Bring back “Becker” — stat!
- I know he’s a Scientist, but Tom Cruise never struck me as smart.