Alex Karras, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and Hollywood actor, has died

Alex Karras, a Detroit Lion for twelve seasons and an actor for many years, died today in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Karras was a first round draft pick for the Lions. He was a member of the Lions' Fearsome Foursome (a term used in pro football to describe the frontline defense. The other Lions players were Roger Brown, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams. Karras was suspended in 1963 for one year when he was caught placing bets on NFL teams. He returned to the team in 1964 and played for seven more years.

In the mid-1970s, he called the plays, with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

His most memorable Hollywood role was in the the 1974 hit western satire, Blazing Saddles in which he played the Mondo.

He and his real-life wife, Susan Clark, who survives, starred in the TV sitcom, Webster (1983-1987) (the first season is on order), along with Emmanuel Lewis. Karras and Clark played the adoptive parents of the orphaned son of a pro football player.

Karras, who was 77, died from complications due to cancer and dementia.

Ann Arbor Korean Independent Film Festival Screening: Leafie, A Hen Into The Wild

Friday October 5, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

The Nam Center and the U-M Screen Arts and Cultures Department, in association with the Museum of Modern Art and The Korea Society, presents the Ann Arbor Korean Independent Film Festival October 4 - 7. While many of the films will be screened on the UM Campus, this 2011 delightful animated film: Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild, (which made box office history by drawing the largest audience for a home-grown animated film in South Korea) will be screened at AADL.

Based on a popular children's book, the film (which is not rated) is the story of freedom, will and instinctive motherly love of a hen as she raises an adopted duckling.

Teen Books to Films

On November 16, 2012 Lionsgate will release the final chapter of the Cullen legacy to theaters with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, where Bella and Edward prepare for battle against the Volturi in order to protect their family. Fans have the next month to revisit their favorite vampire drama in The Twilight Series, including Breaking Dawn the book, as well as Breaking Dawn Part 1 on DVD and Blu-Ray, all of which are available in the AADL collection.

Another smashingly successful teen book that's getting the Hollywood treatment is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is currently being filmed in Hawaii. In this sequel, sharpshooting Katniss once again takes on the oppressive Capitol District, this time with a rebellion brewing around her. Fans have a bit more time to catch up on the action with the book versions of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, as well as the film version of The Hunger Games on DVD and Blu-Ray, for the film sequel isn't expected for release until November 2013. The third book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, now has a confirmed screenwriter, Danny Strong, who will be adapting the book into a Part 1 and a Part 2 to finish the film series.

Game + Watch: Robot Rumble

Sunday September 30, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Ready for an afternoon playing video games while watching a movie and eating popcorn? This month's movie might be about robots that rumble and then make up. Buy 'n large, it's going to be loads of fun!

Can you guess what we'll be watching? Prizes for gameplay and the best theme-related costume!

This event is for grade 4 - adult.

Hollywood shocked by actor Johnny Lewis's violent death

Johnny Lewis, best known for his role as Kip "Half-Sack" Epps in the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, the FX Network motorcycle series that premiered in 2008, died last night at the scene of a shocking crime in Los Feliz, CA.

A spokesman for the LAPD said it appears that Lewis murdered his landlady, Katherine Davis, 81, and her cat on Wednesday. Witnesses say he then attacked a couple of neighbors before heading back to the house and jumping or falling off the roof, landing in her driveway which killed him.

Those close to Lewis, who once dated Katy Perry, were not surprised by his violent end. He had been released from jail six days ago, after pleading no contest in August to burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

The troubled actor, who also acted in several TV series, including Criminal Minds and The O.C., was 28.

Film: Guilty Pleasures

Thursday September 27, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Julie Moggan's delightful 2010 documentary takes an amusing and touching look at the global phenomenon of romance novel popularity. Guilty Pleasures portrays five romance devotees who must, ultimately, find their dreams in the real world.

Guilty Pleasures is a delightful and touching discovery of the depths of human emotion in what may at first seem the cultural shallows. This event is a collaboration with POV, PBS' award-winning nonfiction film series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #357

Brooklyn bookseller and author of a short-story collection (Other People We Married, 2011) Emma Straub gives us an enchanting story of a Midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood's golden age in Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures * *, her debut novel.

At 17, Elsa Emerson, born to an amateur theatrical family in Door County, Wisconsin hops gamely on the bus that carries her and her young actor husband to Hollywood after a family tragedy. Two quick successive babies and a dissolving marriage later, she is discovered by one of the most powerful studio executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Along with all the glamor and extravagance of stardom, Laura finds herself trying to balance career, family, friendship, personal happiness, while remaining true to herself.

"Straub offers a charming tale spanning 50 years. Her strength is an ability to foster originality by turning her back on the stereotyped assumptions of the lives of movie stars whose backstories feed the magic."

"Written in a removed prose, Straub brings Elsa to life with the detached analysis of an actor examining a character, exemplifying Elsa's own remote relationship to her identity. Through marriages, births, deaths, and career upheavals, Elsa and Laura coexist, sometimes uneasily—until Elsa learns to reconcile her two selves. An engaging epic of a life that captures the bittersweetness of growing up, leaving home, and finding it again."

For novels about the entertainment industry and lives and loves of the glitterati, you might enjoy Third Girl From the Left by Martha Southgate (2005); Tilly Bagshawe's Adored (2005); Glen David Gold's Sunnyside (2009) about Charlie Chaplin; and The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (2012).

* *= Starred reviews

We Bought A Zoo, on DVD

A comedy-drama, We Bought A Zoo is a true story based on Benjamin Mee’s 2008 memoir of the same name. In the film, Matt Damon portrays Mee, who has recently lost his wife, and is struggling with moving on, as well as helping his two children cope with the loss of their mother. Set in Southern California, the adventurous Mee decides the family is in need of a change and buys a house in the country that also happens to be a no-longer-running zoo. A stipulation of buying the house is getting the zoo back up and running, which means Mee has to learn how to run a zoo and care for animals, which leaves for some definite animal-human hijinx as he learns the tricks of the trade.

Mee’s young daughter is more than thrilled at living at a zoo, but his teenage son is not. Mee works them through it and also deals with the zoo’s staff that comes along with the property, including the head zoo keeper played by head-turner Scarlett Johansson. While adjusting to all the changes, everyone’s goal is to get the zoo back in order and ready for inspection in order to open for the summer season.

It’s a feel good film, and a great one for the family. It definitely pulled at my heart strings. One thing I took away from the film is Mee’s idea of 20 seconds of insane courage. If you give yourself just 20 seconds to be courageous, think of what you could do. I mean, why not?

Now a Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Now that the movie is out, the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky seems to be enjoying renewed popularity. Currently the Kindle Edition is ranked #4 on Amazon's list of teen best-selling books. At AADL there are 60 requests for 16 copies of the book, which came out in 1999. This coming-of-age novel is about Charlie, a smart, sensitive high-school freshman who deals with the suicide of his best friend along with a range of other challenges.

Stephen Dunham, TV and movie actor, has died

Stephen Dunham, who has starred in several limited-run TV series, and had supporting roles in several movies, died last Friday in Burbank, California.

Dunham, born Stephen Dunham Bowers, had roles in such TV series as Hot Properties (ABC), Oh, Grow Up and DAG (both on NBC), The Bill Engvall Show (TBS) and What I Like About You (WB).

Some of his movie roles included Catch Me if You Can (2002), Traffic (2000) and Monster-in-Law (2005).

In October, he will appear posthumously in Paranormal Activity 4, as husband to his real-life wife, actress Alexondra Lee, who survives.

Dunham, who was just 48, died several days after suffering a heart attack.

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