Things We Didn’t Know About The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert

Categories: Uncategorized

vvThe Beatles’ rooftop concert was the climax of a project originally titled Get Back. It was conceived as exactly that, a return to their rock roots in a desperate effort to restore unity when business and personal chaos threatened to destroy the band. A documentary crew filmed the Beatles rehearsing and recording new material for an “honest” album, free from the studio wizardry that had dominated their recent work. The experience pushed the group to the point of disintegration, but they needed an end to the film.

So 47 years ago — on January 30th, 1969 — the band climbed five stories to the top of their Apple Corps headquarters and played their last concert together. The album and film were ultimately released in May 1970 as Let It Be, their swan song. Here are 15 little-known facts about the Beatles’ final bow on the world stage.

The concert was originally going to take place in an ancient amphitheater. Or on a cruise ship. Or in the desert. The Beatles had many ideas about where to perform the climactic concert for their new film — too many ideas. London venues like the Palladium and the Roundhouse were some of the more levelheaded propositions, but most were pretty far-out. The Sahara desert was floated as a potential location, as were the Giza pyramids, and even the QE2 ocean liner. A 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheater in Tunisia was seriously considered, and location scouts were sent to investigate. “The Beatles were to start playing as the sun came up,” explained director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, “and you’d see crowds flocking towards them through the day.”

But nothing was ever agreed upon. As enthusiasm for the project waned, the band opted to do something a little simpler and closer to home. Guest keyboard player Billy Preston recalls that it was John Lennon who had the idea to stage the concert on the roof of Apple headquarters. Lindsay-Hogg says it was his idea. Others attribute it to Ringo Starr. The concept sounds inspired, but in retrospect it speaks less to creativity and more to laziness.

Preparations were made, with scaffolding planks laid to support the weight of the gear. A few minutes before the concert was due to start, the band huddled in a small vestibule at the top of the stairs. They had cold feet. “George didn’t want to do it, and Ringo started saying he didn’t really see the point,” says Lindsay-Hogg. “Then John said, ‘Oh, fuck it — let’s do it.'”

Jefferson Airplane performed on a New York City rooftop several weeks earlier.

The Beatles racked up many firsts over the course of their career, but they were not the first band to hold an unauthorized concert on a metropolitan rooftop. That distinction goes to Jefferson Airplane, who climbed to the top of midtown’s Schuyler Hotel on December 7th, 1968 and surprised the city with cries of “Hello, New York! Wake up, you fuckers! Free music! Nice songs! Free love!” Lacking permits, they would only make it through one song — a blistering version of “The House at Pooneil Corners” — before the NYPD threatened arrest for noise disturbance. The band went peacefully, but their friend, actor Rip Torn, was busted for harassing an officer and taken away in a cruiser.

Mercifully, the guerrilla happening was preserved for all time by director Jean-Luc Godard, who filmed the incident as part of his One A.M. project. It’s unknown whether the Beatles were directly inspired by the Airplane’s antics, but press coverage (not to mention their friendship with the band) would have likely made them aware of it.

The film is directed by the secret son of Orson Welles — allegedly. Having worked with the Beatles on their recent promotional videos for “Hey Jude” and “Revolution,” American filmmaker Lindsay-Hogg was the logical choice to direct the Get Back project. He arranged an army of cameras to capture the moment from all angles, sending a crew into the street, the adjacent building, and the Apple reception area — not to mention the five cameras on the roof itself. The result is some of the most iconic concert footage in history.

Film prowess may be in his blood. In his 2011 autobiography, Lindsay-Hogg revealed that he believes himself to be the only son of cinema giant Orson Welles. His mother, actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, publically denied the rampant rumors, but she allegedly acknowledged the truth to family friend Gloria Vanderbilt. When Welles’ oldest daughter supported Lindsay-Hogg’s claim, he submitted to a DNA test. The results were inconclusive.

Lennon and Starr wore their ladies’ coats. It was 45 degrees in London that raw January afternoon, and that doesn’t account for the icy wind whipping over the West End buildings. Impending fog had ruled out an expensive helicopter aerial shot, and the threat of rain was very real. These conditions were not ideal to making rock and roll. “[My] hands [are] too cold to play the chords,” Lennon muttered between songs, and Apple Corps exec Ken Mansfield held a constant stream of lit cigarettes so George Harrison could warm his fingertips. To ward off the winter chill, Lennon borrowed Yoko Ono’s fur coat (as he did on occasion). Ringo Starr also donned his wife Maureen’s red raincoat.

The microphones were wrapped in women’s pantyhose. The cold gusts also proved to be a problem for the delicate studio microphones recording the drums and guitar amplifiers. In need of a quick shield to minimize wind noise, tape engineer (and future Pink Floyd cohort) Alan Parsons was dispatched that morning to buy women’s pantyhose. “I walked into this department store and said, ‘I need three pairs of pantyhose. It doesn’t matter what size.'” he recalled in Guitar Player. “They thought I was either a bank robber or a cross-dresser.”

It was their first live performance in over two years. Famously cited as the Beatles’ last concert, the rooftop gig was also their first live performance in more than two years. While they had played “All You Need Is Love” and “Hey Jude” before a studio audience on television during that time, those numbers were heavily bolstered by a backing track. The roof was their first truly live show since their final tour ended on August 29th, 1966, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. They also made a small break from tradition by varying their classic stage placements. Lennon took the middle spot with Harrison to his left.

George Harrison’s guitar was the first of its kind.

The Telecaster that Harrison played throughout the rooftop concert was custom made for him by master builders Roger Rossmeisl and Philip Kubicki as a gift from Fender. The company was launching a new line of all-rosewood guitars, and presenting the prototype to a Beatle was good publicity. After many hours of labor, the guitar was flown to England in its own seat and hand-delivered to Apple headquarters. The builders weren’t sure what became of the guitar for over a year, until they bought tickets to see the Let It Be film and saw their handiwork on the big screen. “I was so thrilled I almost jumped out of my seat,” remembers Kubicki.

John Lennon needed cue cards to remember his own lyrics. John Lennon always had a problem with lyrics. Paul McCartney often recalls seeing Lennon onstage singing his own ad-libbed words to the Del Vikings’ “Come Go With Me” on the day they met in 1957. Wanting to get things reasonably correct for the film, the Beatles asked Apple office assistant Kevin Harrington to kneel just out of camera view and hold up a lyric sheet for “Dig a Pony.” Lennon still managed a memorable flub during “Don’t Let Me Down,” singing something like, “And only reese we got the blootchy-koo.”

“One After 909 ” is one of the earliest Lennon-McCartney compositions the Beatles released.

While “I Call Your Name,” “What Goes On,” and several others also vie for the title, “One After 909” is likely the very earliest complete Lennon-McCartney songwriting effort released on an original Beatles album. Lennon claimed that he wrote it when he was 17 years old with a little help from his new friend, Paul McCartney. “It’s not a great song,” McCartney remembered in later years. “But it’s a great favorite of mine because it has great memories for me of John and I trying to write a bluesy freight-train song.”

The band had originally recorded “One After 909” at EMI Studios during sessions for “From Me to You” in March 1963. This version was shelved, but the song was resurrected six years later for the Get Back/Let It Be project — as a joke more than anything else. The live version from the rooftop concert ended up on Let It Be, giving “One After 909” its long-awaited public debut on the last album they issued.

There were other songs performed on the rooftop that day. 

While 21 minutes of the concert made it into the final Let It Be film, the actual performance was twice as long. During the 42-minute set, the Beatles played “One After 909,” two complete versions each of “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Dig a Pony” and “I’ve Got a Feeling,” and three versions of “Get Back” — plus various incomplete takes, including a line from the Irish folk song “Danny Boy.”

In addition to these, the band tossed off snippets of several songs that didn’t make the cut for Let It Be. These include a few bars of “I Want You,” later released on Abbey Road, and lines from the Irving Berlin chestnut “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody.” The most complete of these off-the-cuff performances is an instrumental version of “God Save the Queen,” played while engineer Alan Parsons changed tape reels. These were little more than jokes, and were never seriously considered for any official release.

The police weren’t as bad as they’ve been made out to be.

Beatles lore portrays the London Metropolitan Police as the prototypical blue meanies who forcibly halted one of the greatest musical moments of the 1960s. To a certain extent, this is true. But the bobbies actually cut the band some slack — and did them a serious solid.

The West End Central Police Station is located at 27 Savile Row — mere feet from Apple headquarters. The authorities obviously must have heard the loud rock music wafting down the street. Windows rattled, floors shook, and horns blared from the resulting traffic jams. If they wanted to, the police could have walked over and shut things down before the first song was over. Instead, they let the concert continue for 42 minutes. It was only when the noise complaints began to flood in from stuffy local businesses that they felt compelled to act.

Even then, they gave the Beatles and Co. ample warning to get rid of certain illicit substances that might have been on the scene. “Before the raid, someone called from the Savile Row police station saying, ‘You’ve got 10 minutes.'” recalled one Apple employee. “So we knew they were coming and everyone was ready for it. … When the police raided the building, there was a whole chorus of toilets being flushed.” Crisis averted.

The set list may have ended up being longer. Because the concert was cut short by the police, fans have spent decades theorizing what other songs — if any — the Beatles might have performed had they continued. Some eagle-eyed rock scholars have noticed equipment in the background of the Apple roof set that went unused, including an extra keyboard, a lap-steel guitar and what appears to be an acoustic-guitar microphone positioned by McCartney. Were folky songs like “Two of Us” originally in the mix? Was McCartney going to try out some of his piano-based ballads like “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road”? Could Lennon have used the lap-steel guitar as he did on “For You Blue,” giving Harrison his first (and only) solo vocal of the day?

It’s hard to know for certain. Some fans believe Harrison asked that his songs not be played on the roof that day. Others argue that these quieter numbers would have been impossible to record in the windy and uncontrolled setting. It also seems unlikely that the Beatles would have repeated so many songs if they also intended to perform others. But why the extra instruments? Perhaps the band’s roadies received vague instructions to bring their equipment up to the roof, and simply grabbed everything they could find. To date, no set list has ever been found.

Billy Preston received the only official Beatles co-credit. Friends with the Beatles since touring Europe with Little Richard in 1962, Billy Preston is the MVP of the entire Get Back/Let It Be project. Band relations had deteriorated so badly that Harrison actually walked out on the sessions, vowing to quit the group all together. To clear his head, he attended a Ray Charles concert, where Preston happened to be playing organ. Harrison invited him back to the studio to jam with the rest of the Beatles. His warm nature soothed tensions and his keyboard chops added a dose of excitement to the formerly dreary proceedings.

Preston’s sparking musical contribution on Let It Be speaks for itself. Lennon even lobbied to make Preston a full member of the band — an actual fifth Beatle. “It’s bad enough with four!” McCartney supposedly replied. Even so, his importance was recognized on the single release of “Get Back,” which is credited to “The Beatles with Billy Preston.” Barring unauthorized reissues, it was the first time that the Beatles credited anyone on their records in this way.

Preston would go on to record with the Beatles on Abbey Road that summer, laying down keyboard parts on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Something.”

The site of the rooftop concert is now a children’s Abercrombie & Fitch.

The Beatles purchased 3 Savile Row in 1968 as the headquarters for Apple Corps. They constructed a studio in the basement, which they used to record the second half of their Get Back/Let It Be sessions. Harry Nilsson, Badfinger, Marc Bolan and others also recorded there before Apple sold the building in 1976. It changed hands a number of times over the years until it was purchased by Abercrombie & Fitch in 2012. A children’s clothing store currently resides in the building’s ground floor — throwing London tailors, historians and Beatle fans into an uproar.

It’s the last sound you hear on the Beatles’ final release. Although Abbey Road was the final album to be recorded by the four Beatles, Let It Be was the last to be issued in May 1970, weeks after the group’s split made headlines around the world. The black-trimmed cover gave it funereal quality, and fans anxiously studied to the parting message from the foursome that defined the Sixties.

As “Get Back,” the last track, draws to a close, the sound of John Lennon’s voice can be heard: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” It was a self-effacing remark made at the end of the rooftop show, poking fun at the many auditions the band failed over the years. It was also a humble nod to the band’s unprecedented success — and, inadvertently, the perfect Beatles epitaph.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Burnett On The State Of Comedy TV

Categories: Top Stories

carol-burnettIf Carol Burnett had listened to CBS back in 1967, she would have ended up the star of a sitcom titled Here’s Agnes and that’s the last the world might have heard from her. Instead she insisted on doing a variety program, The Carol Burnett Show, which became one of the longest-running (11 years, 278 episodes) and most beloved (25 Emmys, 70 nominations) musical-comedy hours in television history, bringing in an average of 30 million viewers a week. On the eve of becoming the 52nd recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award (during a ceremony set to air Jan. 30 on TNT and TBS), the 82-year-old grandmother of two took time away from her home in Montecito, Calif., to sit down with THR and talk about how her iconic show came together, why it could never be made today and when exactly she learned to yodel like Tarzan.

When did you first get the bug to perform?

My grandmother and I, we lived a block north of Hollywood Boulevard, and we would save our pennies to go to the movies. In those days, there would be double features at some of the smaller theaters down Hollywood Boulevard. We would go to three or four of those a week, which meant I saw as many as six to eight movies a week growing up in the 1940s and 1950s. Then I would come home and act out the movies with the neighborhood kids.

When you say “act out,” you were doing scenes from the movies?

We would act them out, literally. Like, we would come back and do Tarzan and Jane with my best girlfriend naturally, I was Tarzan. Or I would be Betty Grable, and she would be June Haver. We would be singing and doing some of the stuff they did in those 20th Century Fox movies.

Is that how you learned to do impersonations?

I’m not a good impersonator, but I’m good at getting the essence of the person. When we did “Mildred Fierce” [a Mildred Pierce spoof on the show], I got Joan Crawford’s essence, not her voice. I sort of walked like her, and we had the shoulder pads and all that. Once I got into [costume designer] Bob Mackie’s drag he even made false eyebrows out of real hair because Crawford had these wonderful heavy eyebrows I felt like I looked like her. It’s funny: When I put on the stuff, that always gave me my character. It’s like when you see a little kid on Halloween and they are going to be a cowboy, a pirate, whatever they’re the best actors. They act out the way they are dressed.

Has comedy changed through the years?

Funny is funny. I dare anyone to look at Tim Conway and Harvey Korman doing the dentist sketch, which is more than 40 years old, and not scream with laughter. But I am kind of bored of producers saying, “It’s got to be edgy.” Edgy is fine I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination but what’s wrong with a good ol’ belly laugh? I miss that. A lot of comedy today is so fast it’s like: “Boom! Boom! Boom!” because they think people can’t pay enough attention. Barry Levinson [who wrote for The Carol Burnett Show before becoming a director] and Rudy De Luca wrote one of my favorite sketches. It was called “The Pail,” and in it, Harvey is my psychiatrist and I’m having a session with him. It takes about five or six minutes into the sketch until we got our first laugh, but it built and built and built, and the punch line was great. It’s about a girl who was traumatized by a bully in the sandbox when she was 6 years old, and he stole her little pail and it turns out the psychiatrist was the bully. It is absolutely hysterical, but it took all that time to build. Today the suits say, “It’s got to be fast.” So I think some of the writing isn’t good anymore. Now sitcoms sound like they’ve been written by teenage boys in a locker room.

There’s an old story about a CBS executive who told you that you couldn’t do variety because it was a man’s genre. Do you remember that conversation?

Very clearly. When I left The Garry Moore Show, I signed a 10-year contract with CBS. My agent was brilliant: For the first five years of the contract, if I wanted to do a variety show, all I had to do was push the button and CBS would have to put us on for 31 hourlong pay-or-play variety shows. At the time I was like: “Oh, I’ll never be a host of a variety show. I can’t do that.” But it was the last week of the fifth year, and I was not in demand to put it that way and my husband [Joe Hamilton, a TV producer] and I looked at each other and I said, “Maybe we ought to push that button.” So we made the call from California to New York. I called the executive, and he said, “You know, Carol, variety is Sid Caesar, it’s Jackie Gleason, it’s Dean Martin it’s a man’s game.” And I said, “But this is what I know.” And he said, “We’ve got this great sitcom we want you to do it’s called Here’s Agnes. Can you picture it?” And I said: “I don’t want to do the same people every week. I want to be different people, different characters, different outfits, different music. I want guest stars; I want a rep company.”

How quickly did you recognize the alchemy of that core group of performers?

From the very beginning it was fun and games in the sandbox. Everything fell into place. Harvey was on The Danny Kaye Show, but that show went off the air so we got Harvey. Tim had had two or three shows of his own, but they only ran for 13 weeks. He had this license plate that said: “13 Weeks.” Carl Reiner said, “You should get yourself a hunky announcer that you can fawn over,” and that’s how we found Lyle Waggoner.

Then there was Vicki Lawrence …

Vicki wrote me a fan letter when she was 17, and for some reason it spoke to me. I went to see her at a contest she told me she was in, and we were looking for someone to play my kid sister in a couple of sketches, and boom! We hired Vicki. She trained in front of 30 million people a week.

Is there another Carol Burnett on the comedy landscape today?

I do think there are some great female comics: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph. They’re the whole ball of wax. But I don’t think they could do what we did because we did a musical-comedy extravaganza every week with a 28-piece orchestra, 12 dancers and two guest stars a week, plus we had a studio audience. We’d do it in one hour and 15 minutes, and we’d be out in time to go have dinner. Also, the cost: You couldn’t do what we did today because the cost would be astronomical.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by


Paul Kantner Passes Away At 74

Categories: Top Stories

PaulKantnerPaul Kantner, one of the founding members of 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, died on Thursday aged 74, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Kantner died from multiple organ failure and septic shock after suffering a heart attack earlier this week, the newspaper said, citing the band’s publicist, Cynthia Bowman.

Bowman could not immediately be reached by Reuters on Thursday, and requests for comment to other representatives for the band were not immediately returned.

Kantner and singer Marty Balin formed Jefferson Airplane in the mid-1960s with musicians including Grace Slick and Jorma Kaukonen, scoring hits such as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” The band split in 1972 and Kantner formed a spin-off group, Jefferson Starship.

Jefferson Airplane was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and will receive a Grammy lifetime achievement award at next month’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

The rock band Jefferson Airplane pose in their Pacific Heights, San Francisco apartment, Dec. 5, 1968. From left: Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. (AP Photo)

The rock band Jefferson Airplane pose in their Pacific Heights, San Francisco apartment, Dec. 5, 1968. From left: Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Spencer Dryden, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. (AP Photo)

How David Bowie Helped Michael C. Hall

Categories: Top Stories

hallFrom his beloved television roles on “Six Feet Under” and “Dexter” to his riveting performances on Broadway and the silver screen, Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall captures your attention with his signature look and prominent baritone.

Hall recently worked alongside David Bowie, starring in the late icon’s off-Broadway musical “Lazarus,” which ran at the New York Theatre Workshop from November to January. A sequel to Bowie’s 1976 movie “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” the show tells the surreal story of alcoholic millionaire alien Thomas Newton (Hall). But it wasn’t until after Bowie’s untimely death on Jan. 10 that Hall truly understood how fortunate he was to have worked with the shapeshifting artist.

“The last week and a half of performances after he died were newly contextualized and resonant for both the cast and the audience,” Hall told The Huffington Post while promoting “Christine” at the ongoing Sundance Film Festival. “The piece, in many ways, is a part of his epitaph, along with the ‘Blackstar’ album, and we always knew that it was something very important to him, but the immediacy of that importance was made all the clearer when he died. It was a very humbling experience to be a part of that all along, and certainly at the end.”

Hall got emotional when discussing his connection to Bowie and what he learned from him throughout the play-making process.

“To have had the chance to meet with him, sit with him, talk with him about the show and other things and just absorb the amazing energy and kindness in the man all counted as one of the most amazing things I’ve ever had the opportunity to do. I will cherish the time that I had with him and with his work forever,” Hall explained. “To sit in the room with someone who is one of the greatest rock, cultural, artistic icons of the past 50 years is a pretty heady experience and such an honor.”

Hall has been focused on his stage career as of late, in an attempt to shed his identity as Dexter Morgan after an eight-season run of Showtime’s “Dexter.” He credits both “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Lazarus” for helping him move past the character that defined him for many years.

“It was exhilarating, but it was hard work, for sure, and a part of my ‘Dexter’ exorcism. He’s out of my system now,” Hall said, laughing while talking about his Broadway experience. “I’m not kidding myself that people are more inclined to associate me with that show and that character, and maybe ‘Six Feet Under,’ but I feel like at least, for my own part, I need to put some distance between me and that guy.”

Hold your horses, though, “Dexter” fans, because as much as he would like to bid adieu to his dear old murderer-avenging friend, Hall will never say never to a revival.

“There’s talk of the show returning and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility entirely, although it’s hard for me to imagine what that story would be,” he said. When I chimed in to suggest that of course Dexter would be a “lumberjack killer,” Hall replied, “Yeah, he kills trees now … bad trees.”

Hall looks forward to some rest and relaxation after promoting Sundance’s “Christine,” in which he plays news anchor George Peter Ryan. Antonio Campos’ film tells the true story of Christine Chubbuck (portrayed by an incredible Rebecca Hall), a Florida TV reporter who committed suicide during a live broadcast in 1974. Amid the deeply emotional layers of the film, Hall brings forth wit and charisma.

“When I read the script, I appreciated that George seemed to, among other things, function as someone who could bring some levity to proceedings,” Hall said. “He’s a stereotype in many ways — a propped-up news anchor — though I also liked that substance, at least, was revealed.”

Sundance crowds were surprised by the amount of humor sprinkled throughout “Christine,” which Hall says is essential because no one could outline the future of the still-burgeoning industry. Hall’s performance is contagious, the kind we’re sure he’ll deliver time and time again in the years to come.

“None of us in the film, including Christine, know where things are headed so we didn’t want to feel like our hands were tied in terms of having the sense of vitality and fun,” he continued. “I think people in 1974 working at a small-market news station are sort of operating outside the box of any established rules of how to go about things and so there’s a lot of fun. They’re kind of Wild West characters in that sense. There was an inherent humor that we can associate with that character, and so I didn’t shy away from it.”

Presented by |The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Kato Kaelin Has Some Very Specific Complaints About The People v. O.J. Simpson

Categories: Uncategorized

kkOne of the people to emerge on a first-name basis with America after the O.J. Simpson trial was none other than well-maned sidekick Kato Kaelin, and with the impending premiere of The People v. O.J. Simpson February 2, expect to hear a lot more from the Ur–reality star. In a piece for the New York Daily News, Kato fact-checks the FX production, and it turns out he has some quibbles!

(1) The limo driver waiting to take O.J. to the airport wasn’t waiting alone outside, but rather talking to Kato in the driveway.

(2) In another scene, Kato, played by Billy Magnussen, is seen eating a hamburger, but in real life, he had actually sworn off red meat for years. “Perhaps a small detail to some of you,” Kaehlin says, “but it makes me wonder if they can’t get the facts right, how much creative license will the series take on other parts of the story that can’t be corroborated.” Still, there’s more!

(3) One scene shows a shirtless Kato running outside with a friend. Wrong again! Kato writes, “What they got wrong: I was an avid runner in those days — 10 miles a day, but always alone, it was my escape.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Abe Vigoda Passes Away At 94

Categories: Top Stories

Abe_vigodaAbe Vigoda, earned Emmy Award nominations in three straight years for his portrayal of the world-weary Det. Phil Fish on the 1970s ABC sitcom Barney Miller, has died. He was 94.

The actor’s daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, confirmed the passing to The Associated Press, saying that Vigoda died on Tuesday morning at home in New Jersey.

Vigoda also is remembered for his role as hulking mob hitman Sal Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films.

In 1982, People magazine noted that “the late” Abe Vigoda did not attend the Barney Miller wrap party, and rumors/reports of his death circulated many times in the ensuing years. A website was created with a sole purpose: to indicate whether the actor was dead or alive. (That website had not been updated as of 11:15 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday.)

The good-natured Vigoda capitalized on the bizarre situation to keep his career going in his later years. He made frequent appearances on Late Night With Conan O’Brien and the Today show, starred with Betty White in a wildly popular Snickers commercial that debuted during the 2010 Super Bowl telecast and was revealed to be inside a furry costume onstage at a 2013 Phish concert in Atlantic City, N.J. (He and his spinoff show, Fish, are referenced in their song, “Wombat.”)

The New York native was 53 when his agent told him to rush to an audition for Barney Miller in Studio City. He had just jogged five miles and hadn’t showered.

“Danny Arnold and Ted Flicker, the producers, look at me, I look at them, they look at me again. ‘You look tired,’ ” he recalled one of them saying in the 2009 book, What Have You Done? The Inside Stories of Auditioning From the Ridiculous to the Sublime.

“Of course I’m tired. I jogged five miles this morning. I’m exhausted.”

“Yeah, yeah, tell me, you look like you have hemorrhoids.

“What are you, a doctor or a producer?”

Vigoda got the part of Fish, a man much older than he, and Barney Miller premiered in January 1975. The sitcom starred Hal Linden as the title character, the captain of the fictional 12th Precinct in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Featuring a rich mix of ethnic characters, Barney Miller aired for eight seasons through May 1982 and captured the Emmy for outstanding comedy a few months after it was done.

As the cranky Fish, the oldest of the detectives and a member of the force for nearly 40 years, Vigoda often complained about his sore feet and yes, his hemorrhoids. He constantly argued with his bothersome wife, Bernice, who was on the other end of the telephone, and his somber, hangdog delivery delighted TV viewers.

“The character of Fish is so complete, so human,” one of his co-stars, Max Gail, said in a 1976 interview with the Associated Press. “Things like going to the bathroom or being tired simple, human things Abe finds a kind of poetry in them and people connect with them. He’s a wonderful actor.”

Said Vigoda: “[Fish] is not unhappy, but he is pessimistic. He knows things don’t always turn out the way they should.”

Vigoda was a regular for two seasons of Barney Miller and received Emmy supporting actor comedy noms in 1976, 1977 and 1978. His character retired in the fourth season, and Fish, starring Vigoda and Florence Stanley as Bernice, launched in February 1977. It lasted two seasons and 35 episodes.

Earlier, Coppola had hired Vigoda during an open call audition (for actors without an agent). The Godfather (1972) was Vigoda’s first movie. For betraying Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), his character is sent to “sleep with the fishes” in a Godfather: Part II flashback scene.

“Tom, can you get me off the hook, for old time’s sake?” Vigoda asks Robert Duvall’s character. “Can’t do it, Sally,” Duvall replies.

Abraham Charles Vigoda was born in New York City on Feb. 24, 1921. His father was a tailor in a flat on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The youngster stayed in shape by excelling in handball, then got his start on TV on an episode of Suspense in 1949.

Later, he appeared on Broadway in The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, in Robert Shaw’s The Man in the Glass Booth and, as Abe Lincoln, in the comedy Tough to Get Help. He also had a role on the spooky daytime serial Dark Shadows.

Vigoda’s TV résumé also includes a role as Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano in the 1998 NBC telefilm Witness to the Mob and stints on Mannix, The Rockford Files, Toma, Kojak, Cannon, Vegas,Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Family Guy, The Norm Show, As the World Turns and Santa Barbara.

He also appeared in such films as The Don Is Dead (1973), Prancer (1989), Look Who’s Talking (1989), Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), Sugar Hill (1993), Jury Duty (1995), Good Burger (1997), Chump Change (2000) and Crime Spree (2003).

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by


Whoopi Goldberg Says The Oscars ‘Can’t Be That Racist’

Categories: Top Stories

Whoopi-OprahsIn a conversation on “The View” on Monday, Whoopi Goldberg shared her thoughts on the current conversation surrounding the lack of non-white Oscar nominees.

“The issue is not the Academy,” Goldberg said, in reference to the organization’s recent steps to try to double its “number of women and diverse members” by 2020. “Even if you fill the Academy with black and Latino and Asian members, if there’s no one on the screen to vote for, you’re not going to get the outcome that you want.”

“I won once. So it can’t be that racist,” she continued. “You need directors and producers who will say, ‘Hey, what about so and so?’ “They need to be aware that the picture is not complete.”

Goldberg’s comments come after ones made by high profile stars including Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee calling for diversification of nominees, in particular response to the Academy’s nods in the four best acting categories, which despite numerous viable film performances by non-white actors, have included only white performers for the past two years. Smith and Spike Lee have both chosen not to attend this year’s award ceremony.

“You wanna boycott something? Don’t go see the movies that don’t have your representation,” Goldberg said on “The View.” “That’s the boycott you want. To me, we have this conversation every year. It pisses me off.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Shut Up, Or Else! Chelsea Handler’s Secret Text To Heather McDonald

Categories: Uncategorized

ccHeather McDonald‘s ongoing PR campaign against her former employer Chelsea Handler may be coming to an end — at least if the Chelsea Lately boss has anything to do with it! has exclusively learned that the 40-year-old A-list talk show host sent a scathing text message to her brunette nemesis on Wednesday night, warning her to keep quiet.

“She reached out to her Wednesday night and basically told her to shut her mouth,” a source close to the situation told Radar.

But for now, it did not work.

Thursday morning, McDonald started her weekly podcast, Juicy Scoop With Heather McDonald, by insisting she is the victim in the whole mess.

Handler claimed she leaked stories from the set in exchange for photos placements in magazines, but she insisted, “I have never betrayed Chelsea Handler. I never sold stories to tabloids or traded them to benefit myself or get myself in them.”

“This is completely untrue and has never happened. I am an honest person,” she added in her podcast.

The feud began earlier this week when McDonald, 45, said that she lived in “100 percent fear” while working for Handler on Chelsea Lately, which ran for seven years on E! until Handler pulled the plug and decided to not renew her contract.

After Handler got word that her former co-host – who also served as a head writer on the show – was throwing some major shade her way, she fired back and said that the real reason that McDonald harbored a resentment is because she was outed for selling stories to other outlets while working for her.

But that’s not all! As Radar previously reported, McDonald joined former coworkers Jo Koy and Chris Franjola on Fairly Normal with Josh Wolf last month, where she first bashed her boss. The claims that McDonald made about Handler’s sidekick, Chuy Bravo, were shocking!

“The whole relationship on the show between Chelsea and Chuy was so wrong and so inappropriate — basically like she owned a slave or a pet, but people didn’t care because the little people were just so happy that a little person had a job, that she was a supporter of little people,” McDonald claimed prior to the New Year.

Although Handler has not yet commented on McDonald’s latest claims, and ignored them completely during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday, one thing is clear – these ladies are not laughing anymore.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

True or not, it keeps their names in the press and…that is what it is all about.

Written by radaronline

Sundance: Sony Nabs Frank Zappa Documentary

Categories: Top Stories

zappaSony Pictures Classics is close to a deal for the worldwide rights to “Eat That Question – Frank Zappa in His Own Words,” Variety has learned.

The film about the musical iconoclast is scheduled to premiere next week at this year Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Thorsten Schütte (“World Jazz”), the film uses television interviews and performance footage to make a case for Zappa’s influence both as a self-taught composer and performer, and as a thinker, whose opposition to censorship made him an inspiration for artists.

It marks the first major deal of the festival for Sony Pictures Classics. The indie label is usually an active buyer at the Park City, Utah gathering, having acquired “Grandma” with Lily Tomlin and the Oscar-winning “Whiplash” in past editions. It also comes as documentaries, particularly those about musicians, are gaining critical and popular attention. Last summer, “Amy,” a portrait of troubled star Amy Winehouse, became a box office hit, earning more than $20 million globally.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Film Academy Pledges To Diversify Membership

Categories: Uncategorized

aaThe film academy is pledging to double the number of female and minority members by 2020, and will immediately diversify its leadership by adding three new seats to its board of governors.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the changes Friday, following a weeklong storm of criticism and calls for an Oscar boycott after academy members nominated an all-white slate of actors for the second year in a row.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 51-member board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms late Thursday to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition,” Isaacs said. The number of minorities currently serving as members of the academy has not been revealed.

Other changes include limiting members’ voting status to a period of 10 years, to be extended only if the individual remains active in film during that decade. Lifetime voting rights will be granted only to Academy Award nominees and winners, and to members after three ten-year voting terms. Previously, all active members received lifetime voting rights.

The organization also plans to diversify its leadership beyond the board of governors by adding new members to key decision-making committees, and further diversify its membership with a global campaign to identify and recruit diverse talent.

Reaction came swiftly. Ava DuVernay, director of last year’s best picture-nominee “Selma,” tweeted that the changes were “one good step in a long, complicated journey for people of color and women artists.” She added: “Shame is a helluva motivator.”

And director Rick Famuyiwa, whose films include “The Wood” and “Brown Sugar,” commented: “The devil is in the details.”

Presented by the Griper – E.cowan

Written by

%d bloggers like this: