Marcia Wallace, a.k.a. the voice of The Simpsons' Edna Krabappel, has died

Marcia Wallace, actress in stage, screen, and TV, and most recently the voice of 4th grade teacher, Edna Krabappel, on The Simpsons, died October 25th.

Ms. Wallace's acting gifts were apparent in high school, after which she won a full-ride scholarship to the now-defunct Parsons College in Iowa. From there, she moved to New York, performing in night clubs, on Off-Broadway, and appearing dozens of times on The Merv Griffin Show.

In 1972, after Ms. Wallace had moved to California, TV producer, Grant Tinker created a role for her on the sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show. She played the sharp-tongued receptionist, Carol Kester.

In 1990, she began her most notable career as the voice of Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, which won her an Emmy in 1992. She charmed audiences with that role until her recent bad health caused the producers to decide to 'retire' Ms. Krabappel forever.

In 2008, Ms. Wallace was in the movie, Tru Loved, in which she played a high school drama teacher who helps students start a Gay Straight Alliance Club.

In 2007, The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, awarded Ms. Wallace their Gilda Radner Courage Award for her tireless efforts educating American men and women on the importance of early detection of breast cancer, which she herself successfully beat for more than twenty years.

Ms. Wallace, who died of complications from pneumonia, was a week shy of her 71st birthday.

Call the Midwife Season 1 & 2

The winds are blowing colder, so as you're tucking in for winter and looking for new entertainment, take a look at the spectacular and riveting BBC/PBS production, Call the Widwife. The series, set in east London in the 1950s, is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth. Catch up with Seasons 1 & 2 this winter and you will be prepared for Season 3 when it airs on PBS in spring 2014.

The story follows new midwife Jenny Lee and the work of the midwives and the Sisters of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent that is part of an Anglican religious order. The women deal with the medical problems in the impoverished Poplar district of East London. Each episode includes the fascinating, sad, tragic, shocking, gritty and heartwarming stories of the pregnancies, births and challenges of the new mothers and their caretakers. As the series progresses, the friendships and relationships that develop between the midwives and the nuns pulls the viewer in as much as the complex stories of their patients. From Jenny’s culture shock upon arrival to London’s East End to shy, insecure Chummy and the glamorous Trixie, the midwives develop a closeness with the complex Sisters of Nonnatus House.

The Way Way Back on DVD & BluRay

The Way Way Back is the coming-of-age story of 14 year old Duncan as he sets off for summer vacation with his mother Pam, her boyfriend Trent, and Trent’s daughter Stephanie. They head to a beach house in Cape Cod for a summer of beachside fun. Duncan doesn’t get along with Trent at all, is tired of being treated like a child, and just doesn’t feel like he fits in. All of this hits its peak while at the beach house. Soon enough Duncan finds an old bike and uses it as a source of escape. Through his adventures he ends up landing a job at Water Wizz, the local water park, under the tutelage of the laid back park manager Owen. He finds confidence in this new space with new friends, but ultimately it does not solve his familial problems. The dramatic-comedy film is hilarious and warm-hearted and you really do root for Duncan.

Tom Clancy, king of techno-military thrillers, has died

Tom Clancy, author of nail-biting military suspense novels, known for their eerie prescience, has died.

Mr. Clancy turned a lifelong obsession for all things military-and-technological into instant success with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October (1984), published by the Naval Institute Press, housed at the U.S. Naval Academy. It was the NIP's first novel -- Clancy's detailed military descriptions caught their attention. It also captured then-President Ronald Reagan's interest as well; thus Mr. Clancy's instant rise to bestsellerdom.

Clancy's unerring accuracy with details had many convinced that he had connections inside the Pentagon. He adamantly denied all such charges, but did say, "I've made stuff up that's turned out to be real, that's the spooky part."

His series character, Jack Ryan, first seen in The Hunt for Red October, has made fourteen more appearances over the past three decades, the latest in Threat Vector which was published last year. The last Jack Ryan novel, Command Authority, will be released at the end of this year.

Several of his thrillers starring Jack Ryan (who morphed, during the course of the series, from U.S. Naval Academy instructor to CIA spy/Director to U.S. President) were turned into successful movies.Alec Baldwin, played Ryan in the 1990 release, The Hunt for Red October. Harrison Ford did the honors in the next two Jack Ryan films, Patriot Games (1992), and
Clear and Present Danger (1994). Ben Affleck appeared as Ryan in The Sum of All Fears in 2002.

Mr. Clancy, who died in a Baltimore hospital, was 66.

Before Midnight...The denouement of the "Before" Trilogy

This popular film series with its dead-aim at Generation X concludes with a thoughtful and intense meditation on marriage and relationships in Before Midnight. The trilogy was written and directed by Richard Linklater along with its two stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. This collaborative effort is what has made this film series so authentic and relatable. Both Hawke and Delpy are writers themselves and this shows in the dialogue and the acting in all three films. Before Midnight reveals that Jessie and Celine have finally gotten together after the last two films and now married they have twin daughters. We find them on holiday in Greece and the conversations and relationships while just as intense are wholly different and more complicated than in the past. Like the two previous films the realistic feel engages the viewer and pulls you into the moment. What began in Before Sunrise as a bittersweet romance about two entrancing, ambitious twenty-somethings having a one-night stand, and then took on humbled but still hopeful shadings (he unhappily married, she still single) for the thirty-somethings in Before Sunset, has now been deepened immeasurably. Watching this triptych back to back is a must.

The Kings of Summer on DVD & Blu-Ray

A sleeper hit of the summer, The Kings of Summer is a thought provoking coming of age tale that tells the story of teenage Joe. Living with his controlling father is becoming unbearable and he wants to escape. He decides that he and his friend Patrick are going to build a house in the woods to live in, just for them, with no parents to tell them what to do. As they head into the woods they are joined by the bizarre Biaggio, and the three boys discover independence, girls, freedom, how to make choices, and what it really means to need others.

It’s a great dramatic, somewhat comedic, film directed by Royal Oak native Jordan Vogt-Roberts. I saw the film at The Michigan this past summer, and Vogt-Roberts was there to do a Q & A after the film, and it was delightful to hear him speak of his film and where it came from. This film gets filed under little boy adventure stories along with things like Stand By Me and The Goonies, both of which inspired the feel of The Kings of Summer.

2013 Primetime Emmy winners announced

The 2013 Primetime Emmy winners were announced in a three-hour, star-studded extravaganza.

The Emmys, hosted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, are the television equivalent of the silver screen's Oscars. The Emmys are a bit different than the Oscars in that there are several award ceremonies throughout the year. The Primetime and the Daytime Emmys are the most popular.

Some of the big winners are:

Claire Danes, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, for her role as Carrie Mathison, a brilliant volatile CIA agent who battles modern day terrorism in the series, Homeland.

Chelsea, MI resident, Jeff Daniels got the nod for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of acid-tongued news anchor, Will McAvoy in The Newsroom.

Breaking Bad captured Outstanding Drama Series. What's not to love (and fear) about a chemistry teacher whose diagnosis of terminal cancer inspires him to go on a crime spree to build up resources to take care of his family when he's gone?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the new Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Veep. Her character, Vice President Selina Meyer, has a lot to juggle -- political land mines, a challenging relationship with the President, and a stressful personal life.

One of the big winners of the evening was the HBO movie, Behind the Candelabra, based on the tell-all book by the same name, written by Liberace's longtime lover Scott Thorson. Michael Douglas walked away with the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. Steven Soderbergh picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, and the film itself was named Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

For a complete list of the Primetime Emmy winners, click here.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #425 - "A good neighbor is a very desireable thing" ~ T. Jefferson

Don't pass up Amy Grace Loyd's debut novel The Affairs of Others, a quiet but intense look at the tangled lives in a Brooklyn neighborhood apartment building.

Owner of the building, a young widow still grieving from her husband's death, Celia Cassill picks her tenants for their ability to respect each other's privacy and more importantly, her solitude. Everything changes with the arrival of a summer sublet - Hope, a dazzling woman on the run from a bad marriage. As Hope slips into depression, the carefully constructed walls of Celia's world are tested and the sanctity of her building is shattered. When one of the tenants disappears, all the residents are forced to abandon their separate spaces for a far more intimate one, leading to a surprising conclusion and the promise of genuine joy.

"The Affairs of Othe is a story about the irrepressibility of life and desire, no matter the sorrows or obstacles." "Dark and sensual, with just a touch of suspense, this first novel offers a heartwrenchingly honest story about grief while still allowing for a glimmer of hope."

An executive editor at Byliner Inc. and a former fiction and literary editor at Playboy magazine, Amy is a recipient of both MacDowell and Yaddo fellowships.

A fabulously fun readalike would be Elinor Lipman's The View from Penthouse B where two middle-aged sisters become unexpected roommates in a Manhattan apartment as they recover from widowhood, divorce, and Bernie Madoff. In their reduced circumstances, they resort to take in a boarder - a handsome, gay cupcake-baker who coaches them back into the dating world.

Audio listeners might also give the heartwarming The Wildwater Walking Club a try. Author Clair Cook presents the tale of three women neighbors who share struggles with unfaithful men, rebellious children, and parental expectations while taking long walks near their homes on Wildwater Way (Seattle), a friendship marked by a road trip, a lavender festival, and a clothesline controversy.

Thinking about good neighbors brings to mind the denizens at 28 Barbary Lane, as chronicled by Armistead Maupin in his Tales of the City (1978) where Mary Ann Singleton, newly relocated to San Francisco, soon finds her life entwined with those of her varied neighbors and myriad colorful characters. This title and others to follow in the series were adapted into movies.

The Boy Who Could Fly

In 1986, the film The Boy Who Could Fly came out to decent reviews, although it didn’t make much of a splash. But over the years, it has become one of those movies that people remember and want to see again.

Milly and her family move next door to Eric after the recent, tragic suicide of her father. She quickly notices something unusual next door, from something flying by her window to Eric spending lots of time on the roof. Milly becomes intrigued and eventually befriends Eric, who is autistic and lives with his alcoholic uncle. Eric’s parents died in a plane crash, and Eric as been obsessed with flying since the tragedy.

The actors who play Milly and Eric give nuanced and effecting performances. Fred Savage is delightful as a kid whose strategy for coping with his father's death is both grim and comically engaging. The adults in The Boy Who Could Fly add breadth and depth to the story: Bonnie Bedelia as the frazzled mother; Colleen Dewhurst as the understanding Mrs. Sherman; and Fred Gwynne as Uncle Hugo, a loving guardian who is battling his own demons.

Whether Eric can really fly is open to discussion, but this heartwarming and delightful film tells a great story.

David Frost, journalist and broadcaster, has died

David Frost, a journalist and former BBC broadcaster, most famous for his interview with the newly resigned former President, Richard M. Nixon, died yesterday.

Frost, who was born in Tenterden, England, first came to the public eye with a poltical satire show that many felt was the forerunner of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. That Was the Week That Was (a.k.a TW3) only ran for two seasons. It was cancelled when worries increased that its pointed humor would influence an upcoming election. In 1964, the U.S. picked up TW3, and kept Mr. Frost as its host.

Mr. Frost conducted many interviews with well-known political figures but it was his 1977 marathon interviews with disgraced former President Richard Nixon which brought him front-and-center to international fame. Mr. Frost always referred to those interviews as the highlight of his career.

Seven years ago, Mr. Frost accepted a job with Al Jazeera America, hosting The Frost Interview. It was scheduled to run through mid-September 2013.

Sir David, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1993, was the only person to interview the seven U.S. Presidents before the 2008 election of President Obama -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush). He also was the only journalist to interview the eight British prime ministers between 1964 and 2010.

Known for his grace, intelligence, and gift for extracting newsmaking quotes from his subjects, Sir David received many awards, including two Emmys, a Royal Television Society Silver Medal, and a 2005 fellowship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Sir David, who was 74, died of a heart attack aboard the Queen Elizabeth, where he was to give a speech.

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