William Windom, great character actor, has died

William Windom, whose television and silver screen acting career spanned decades, died August 16th at his California home.

Best known in more recent years as Dr. Seth Hazlitt in the popular Murder, She Wrote TV series (1984-1996), he also had roles in other hit TV shows, such as the original The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), The Farmer's Daughter (1963-1966), (in which he played a Minnesota congressman based loosely on his real life great-grandfather, William Windom, who was a Minnesota congressman and senator in the 19th century.)

Windom's first movie role was the prosecuting attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), starring Gregory Peck.

Mr. Windom, who was 88, died of congestive heart failure.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #350 - Remembering Marilyn

August marks the 50th Anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death but the appetite and obsession with this universal icon have never waned in the intervening years. Just in the past year, we saw the Hollywood adaptation of Colin Clark's memoir My Week with Marilyn and Smash, the 2012 successful television series (renewed for another season), a musical based on Marilyn's life.

Now we have J.I. Baker's The Empty Glass *, a "heartbreaking, pulse-quickening" novel that delves into one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.

Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the scene of Monroe's death and finds her diary. The deeper Ben reads into the diary, the deeper he finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy far bigger than he can imagine. Then there were the photos taken of the night stand next to Marilyn's bed, where no water glass was found, contradicting a second set of photographs being used in the investigations.

Debut novelist James Ireland Baker is the executive editor of Condé Nast Traveler and had worked for various national magazines. He is a founding editor of Time Out New York.

If fact is more to your liking than fiction, then check out a new biography by Lois Banner Marilyn :The Passion and the Paradox *.

As one of the founders of the field of women's history, Lois Banner (Scholar/Faculty, USC) appreciates the complexities of Monroe's personal life in the context of her achievements as an actor, singer, dancer, comedian, model, and courtesan. In the research, she gained access to material no one else has seen (personal papers, interviews with Kennedy's Secret Service detail). The new information she unearthed is nothing short of revelatory.

"A passion for precision and truth fuels Banner's electrifying portrait of an artist caught in a maze of paradoxes and betrayals. Here is Marilyn as we've never seen her before."

* = starred review

The Five Year Engagement on DVD

The much talked about and read about film, The Five Year Engagement, contains many scenes filmed last summer around Ann Arbor. The local movie-making created quite a flurry of celebrity sightings of the movie's stars, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, and John Krasinski, and plenty of mid-summer snow scenes on the streets of downtown Ann Arbor.

The romantic comedy features Blunt and Segel as a couple whose engagement is continually delayed as changes happen in their lives. From the producers of The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Knocked Up, this film will have you in stitches, too. Not only was The Five Year Engagement filmed in Ann Arbor, but Ann Arbor is also the setting for the story. True, it’s not the most amazing movie, but it’s funny, and definitely fun to see so many Ann Arbor landmarks on the big screen, especially since the University of Michigan and Zingerman’s play big roles in the couple's lives.

The Safety Dance, Time After Time, Etc.

Have you read Ready Player One yet? If you haven’t yet, you should! For everyone finished with the book, did you catch yourself humming those 80’s hits or wanting to rewatch any sweet 80’s flicks? Immerse yourself in the OASIS easter egg hunt with the help of your trusty library!

Here are lists of the Movies, Music, Anime, TV Shows, and Books referenced by Parzival and his friends.

Game + Watch: Electron Event

Sunday July 29, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Is there anything better than playing video games? Playing video games while watching the perfect movie! Join us for a lazy afternoon of games, movies, soda and popcorn. Prizes awarded for best theme-related costume and game play-related contests.

This month's games might include racing light bikes and disk battles. Can you guess what we'll be watching?

This event is for Grade 9 - Adult.

July's Books to Film

The Amazing Spider-Man ( PG-13) is based on the Spider-Man comics

Peter Parker, an outcast high schooler, abandoned by his parents as a boy, struggles to figure out who he is. When Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance --- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

Killer Joe (NC-17) is adapted from Tracy Lett's play (1993) about a small-time drug dealer who hires a hit man to murder his mother for her life insurance money. Starring Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church.

Savages (R) is based on the novel by Don Winslow (in audio)

Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben and Chon run a lucrative, homegrown industry raising some of the best marijuana ever developed, until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands a partnership.

Based on the Batman comics, The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13) opens eight years after Batman vanished into the night. Turning fugitive and assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for the greater good.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist with ruthless plans for Gotham.

"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey"

I’ve never been a fan of Elmo; I felt he overshadowed the awesomeness of Grover. But after watching the documentary Being Elmo I can’t dislike Elmo anymore, because then it would seem as though I disliked Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind that famous red face. The film is a wonderful look behind the iconic character and makes you think that maybe dreams can come true.

A gentle natured man, Clash embodies the spirit of Elmo. He grew up in Baltimore in the 60s and 70s as a fan of Sesame Street and all things Jim Henson. He fell in love with puppetry at a young age and started making his own puppets and performing puppet shows for neighborhood kids. While it was clear that he had skill, his “playing with dolls” was frowned upon by fellow high school students. But in the end, he was voted "Most Likely to be a Millionaire."

Clash stuck with it, and eventually landed a job on “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Great Space Coaster.” This lead to his ultimate gig, Sesame Street, made possible after he met Muppet designer Kermit Love and got the official Henson connection.

In theory, Elmo represents love, childhood, and innocence. After seeing the film, it’s easy to see why small children fall in love with the Muppet. The bottom line is that Elmo loves every single one of them unconditionally, and what kid doesn’t want that?

Ernest Borgnine, Oscar winner, has died

Ernest Borgnine, who moved audiences to tears with his sweet, nuanced portrayal of a common man in love in Marty (1955), died yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ironically, Borgnine's first notable role was anything by sweet. He played Fatso Judson, a murderous sergeant in From Here to Eternity (1953).

Borgnine's wide-ranging acting chops took another big turn when he moved over to television and starred in the 1960s ABC sitcom, McHale's Navy. In this popular series, Borgnine was the lovable rapscallion, Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale.

His acting resume is enormous -- The Dirty Dozen (1967), ice Station Zebra (1968), The Wild Bunch (1969) are among some of his more notable roles -- as is his list of awards (including the above-mentioned Oscar, as well as Emmys, and Golden Globes, among others).

He filmed his last movie, The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, last year. It is scheduled to be released some time this year.

Mr. Borgnine was 95.

Kids Read Comics: Special Story Time with Voice Actor Neil Kaplan

Saturday July 8, 2012: 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Youth Story Corner

It's Day 2 of Kids Read Comics 2012!

Voice actor Neil Kaplan presents an amazing reading of a Winnie the Pooh favorite. Carry the fun and knowledge throughout Kids Read Comics weekend!

This event is for All Ages

Nora Ephron, screenwriter, author, director, and funnywoman, has died

Nora Ephron, known for her sweetly funny romantic comedies and wryly humorous essays about issues that didn't used to be amusing, died last night in Manhattan.

Ms. Ephron came from a family of writers. Her parents were both screenwriters. All three sisters -- Delia, Amy, and Hallie -- are authors. She took her familial destiny and ran with it, to the delight of her fans, friends, and loved ones.

Ironically, her first script to bring her fame was the serious film, Silkwood (1983), a devastating look at the life and death of Karen Silkwood. The film starred Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell.

That same year, Ms. Ephron turned the agony of the adultery of her second husband, Carl Bernstein into Heartburn, a very successful, very funny book and, three years later, movie.

In 1989, America couldn't get enough of Ephron's hilarious romcom, When Harry Met Sally, in which Meg Ryan's public display of noisy fake bliss is forever immortalized in the line delivered by director Rob Reiner's mother, Estelle Reiner, who muttered, "I'll have what she's having."

Two more romcoms were huge box office successes. Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998) both starred Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Women of a certain age hailed Ms. Ephron's chuckly outing of formerly tabboo topics -- wrinkles, small cup size, memory all received the Ephron treatment, especially in I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.

The online blog Huffington Post paid enormous tribute to Ms. Ephron, who was one of their top-tier bloggers.

Ms. Ephron, who was 71, died of acute myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder which can be an offshoot of chemotherapy. MDS entered the public awareness a few weeks ago when Robin Roberts, beloved co-host of Good Morning America, went public with her diagnosis of this disease. According to Be the Match, THE place to go to register to be a bone marrow donor, registrations have more than doubled since Ms. Roberts' announcement.

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