In 1984, two years after comedian John Belushi was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel from a fatal mashup of heroin and cocaine, journalist Bob Woodward wrote Wired, a book that painted Belushi as a talented, obsessively driven wild man whose lethal excesses more or less inevitably caught up with him.
Belushi’s widow, Judy Jacklin Belushi Pisano, always considered Woodward’s book sensationalistic and unfair, perhaps in part because she was portrayed as, in many ways, an enabler.
Now, 38 years later, Judy has offered her countermove: a new documentary simply titled Belushi, directed by the sympathetic R.J. Cutler and premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. …
Most of us, I’m pretty sure, never expect to identify with a Rockefeller.
Leave it to 2020 to change even that.
New York’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree task force selected a tree this year from Oneonta, New York. You may have heard the hoots of laughter when it arrived in Manhattan, because it doesn’t have a classic shape.
One whole side doesn’t have much shape at all.
My guess is that the tree task force knew that and is already at work on fixing it. On any number of Christmases, the Rockefeller Center tree team has quietly added branches to its trees, affixing them to the trunk so that once the lights go on, no one notices. …
In a perfect world, America’s president would not be a performer and the presidency would not be a role.
It has been argued that’s what America got with Donald Trump: a TV personality who often seemed to run the presidency like episodes of his TV show The Apprentice.
But as much as Trump promoted his brand in the Oval Office, a new four-part documentary titled The Reagans, which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Showtime, suggests the late Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy made Trump look like a bit player out of small-town community theater.
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, The Reagans follows Ronald Reagan’s life from his emergence as a movie star in 1937 through the end of his presidency more than a half century later. …
The public visibility of socio-political campaigns surges and recedes, often with little relation to the importance of the issue they focus on.
Not much more than a year ago, back when large public assemblies were not considered potentially lethal weapons, millions of people gathered around the world to call for action on a fairly important matter: climate change.
Like many campaigns, this one didn’t have a single leader.
If it had, it might have been Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager with autism, Asperger’s and an unshakeable conviction that we are destroying the world in which she hopes to grow up.
I Am Greta, a feature-length documentary that becomes available Friday on Hulu, traces Thunberg’s story, which by any measure is remarkable. …
At some point during Wednesday’s telecast of the 54th annual Country Music Association Awards, 8–11 p.m. ET on ABC, the association will do something it has never done in its previous 53 years.
It will present arguably its most prestigious prize, the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, to a black man.
You don’t have to be a country music scholar to figure that would be Charley Pride, because to be blunt about it, who would be the other candidates?
Name all the black artists who have made any dent in country music over the course of Charley Pride’s lifetime, which spans 86 and a half years, and you need only one hand and a thumb. You’ve got Pride, Darius Rucker, Jimmie Allen, Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown and Blanco Brown, the last four of whom have arrived in the last four years. …
However you feel about the apparent outcome of last Tuesday’s American presidential election, you should be chilled by a new three-part PBS series that illustrates how easily democracy can die.
Rise of the Nazis, which premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on PBS, walks the viewer step by step through Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in the Germany of the early 1930s.
It’s not a long walk. Within four years, Germany devolved from a standard Western democracy, with an elected president and representative elected governing body, into a dictatorship whose agenda catapulted the nation onto a monstrous and disastrous path of genocide and attempted world conquest. …
Any year would be good for a collection of Curtis Mayfield music. The year of Black Lives Matter feels especially good.
Curtis Mayfield has been gone for almost 21 years. He died on Boxing Day in 1999, nine years after he was paralyzed by a light tower that crashed down during a freak storm at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn.
Those nine years weren’t easy. “I can still hear music,” Mayfield said in a 1995 interview. “I still write music. But after you’ve played music all your life, this is hard.”
It’s a bittersweet irony, then, that Mayfield left the rest of us a musical legacy that tempered cold realities with the promise that a better future is out there if we have the will to fight for it. …
Bruce Springsteen had hoped to celebrate his reunion with the E Street Band by launching a world tour.
Then Covid-19 showed up, like darkness on the edge of town, and a Zoom tour just wouldn’t have been the same. Therefore, since the band had already cut an album of new songs, titled Letter to You, Springsteen is releasing it on Friday and promoting it through a variety of socially distanced platforms.
That includes a movie-length documentary, also titled Letter to You, that becomes available Friday on Apple Plus.
Long-time Springsteen videographer Thom Zimny filmed it in Springsteen’s barn-like studio over the several days last November when the new album was recorded. …
Walter Winchell was considered the second most famous man in America in the 1930s, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
We still remember FDR today. Winchell? Well, his influence has outlasted his name.
PBS explains both the man and the influence in a new American Masters, titled Walter Winchell: The Power of Gossip and airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.
Winchell took what could loosely be called a newspaper gossip column and parlayed it into a powerful socio-political platform — including newspapers, radio and eventually TV — built largely on the unspoken premise that celebrity may matter more than substance.
That is, being famous gets more attention and therefore may generate more power and influence than actually doing something. It’s a concept that resonates more than slightly in today’s social media age. …
My mother threw out my baseball cards. Now Father Time is throwing out the faces on them.
I know, I know. It happens to all of us. We get a certain number of innings and the game ends.
But when a famous person dies, things pause, because it makes us backtrack for a moment into some corner of our past.
For many of us, though not all, sports moments correlate closely to our own experience. We remember where we were in our life when we saw Willie Mays or Michael Jordan.
Since my alpha sport is baseball, the last few weeks has been a particularly disheartening run of bad news. …