Editorials, Obituaries


By • Jul 21st, 2008 • Pages: 1 2

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If you are reading this editorial, then you are experiencing FIR’s new format!!!

Designed by FIR contributor and filmmaker Oren Shai, the re-invented site has been several months in development, and for quite a while has been hidden at a secret cyber-location in order for the staff to peruse it and make their comments.

Everything about the new FIR site strikes us as an improvement over the old one, but we want to hear from you about it, and actually that’s one of the virtues of it now – it’s more interactive. In addition, the FIR “Archives,” – fifty years’ worth of incredible career articles and landmark columns – are starting to go up, at the rate of one major article every week. Our debut archive article is about the voluptuous, ill-fated Jayne Mansfield. To learn more about Ms. Mansfield’s films, you can reference Oren’s review of the classy, boxed-set of her films, which was released last year.

The website’s own accumulated archives – all the reviews, editorials, and columns since 1997 – have been rescued from the dungeons of cyberspace as well, and they are now viewable and easy to navigate on the new site.

FIR now has an RSS Feed as well.


Back in the day, FIR was known for, in addition to its career articles and its filmusic column, its entertainment industry obituaries, something I haven’t kept up with, though I think it’s important to acknowledge the passing of people of interest and importance in the entertainment field, and for our revamped site’s debut editorial, I’d like to remember a few people who were special to us:

ROBIN LITTLE (obit by Ken Geist) – I want to recall my friend and colleague who for many years, in the ‘80s and 90s, arranged the National Board’s annual awards ceremony at such venues as the Player’s Club, the lobby and auditorium of the Equitable Building, and the Library of the Performing Arts.
Robin passed away last August in sorry circumstances, but I want to celebrate the vibrant, sunny woman who managed to arrange and book our attendance at studio screenings; host our filmmaker guests, as well as edit the bi-monthly magazine, “Films in Review” to which I was a regular contributor.
I don’t recall a single argument with Robin although some of my reviews and profiles could well have provoked reprimand or her red pencil at the very least. I recall an extended riff of mine on early Almadovar as a rude, homo boy which might have been toned down.

In the days when we had discussions after screenings, I cast myself in the role of a tummler who always had the last, and, at that, a miserably discouraging word. The only crack I recall having uttered was in the Paramount screening room, where I said that, “Mel Gibson’s PAYBACK could give S&M a seriously bad name.” I always expected Robin to say “now, now, you go too far,” but she’d just say, “You’re impossible, but oddly funny. Right on!”

The only differences we had were over her cuisine. Robin would have these frequent, bibulous dinner parties at her smart East 72nd St. apartment co-hosted by her dear friend, Louise Tanner, a delightful character who had actually produced children by her former husband, the Tanner fellow who wrote camp creations under the name of Patrick Dennis.
Robin, bless her, liked to cook with vinegar, mustard, and mayonnaise, the three condiments which most disagree with me.
Each time I would play with my food, without actually eating it, and Robin would say, “Rats, you loathe vinegar, mustard, and mayo, my staples, I’ll have to remember that for next time.”
Well, of course, she never did, but once she announced very proudly, “I’ve made you a special portion with nothing on it. Now you have no cause for complaint. Eat up. How is it?
“Bland I’m afraid, but I have richly earned it.”

Robin Little was my darling friend and an enormous asset to the National Board of Review for many years. God bless her.

...with Swirlee

KELLY GLEASON – November 22nd, 2007, 41, of Pancreatic cancer. Kelly was a student of mine at The School of Visual Arts. She had a radiant, quirky look, like a beautiful smurf. I was one of her teachers at The School of Visual Arts, and still have a VHS copy of her Thesis film – MURDER MAKES ME HOT. She was a gifted make-up artist, and later taught at the school, as well as excelling professionally, joining and becoming president of Local 798. She lived on the fifth floor of the upper west side building where I still reside, and I would see her fairly often, either entering or exiting the building. We worked together only once, on SWIRLEE, a project she confessed she would have done for free (and as its producer, I’m sorry I didn’t know it – I still would have paid her, but possibly a little less…), about a man made out of ice cream, starring (and directed by) James Lorinz, with David Caruso, and Tony Darrow in fine support. She created an extraordinary ice-cream head, which bled chocolate syrup when pierced, and art director Denise LaBelle made the accompanying pants, which had criss-crossed stripes on it as if it were an ice-cream cone transformed into cloth. We had a lot of fun on that one.

MICHAEL DEBAKEY – 7/11 – 99…I’m guessing, of old age. DeBakey performed the first coronary bi-pass in 1964. A Tulane Graduate, he worked his medical miracles on Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, JFK, King Hussein, and my grandmother. In fact my grandmother was one of his early triumphs. I was at Tulane at the time. One of her brothers had been DeBakey’s college roommate, and my family used that connection to get her on the list. She lived into her 90s.

BO DIDDLEY – 6/2 – 79, of heart failure. Speaking of Tulane, when I first got there, in ’62, I read in the local newspaper that Bo Diddley was playing in some small bar on the outskirts of town. I couldn’t really understand that – for a moment I considered that perhaps it was a much-used moniker, and that this wasn’t the real Bo. In any case, being crazy about his music, I hopped a few buses and made my way across town to the advertised establishment. As I entered, sure enough I spotted him walking across the floor. I walked over and introduced myself, reaching out to shake his hand, but he cut me off, saying, “Wait a minute, let me get behind the bar.” Once on the other side, he explained that in the deep South (of the early 60s), a white man and a black man couldn’t converse on the same side of the bar. It was my first experience with segregation, but far from my last. And concerning Bo, there’s a film he was in – LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL – which still hasn’t shown up on DVD, hint hint…

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