Daily Archives: September 3, 2012

Actor Michael Clark Duncan dead at age 54.

 

Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, and David Morse in “The Green Mile.”

Michael Clarke Duncan, the tall and massively built actor with the shaved head and deep voice who received an Academy Award nomination for his moving portrayal of a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama “The Green Mile,” died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He had suffered a heart attack in July and did not recover.

Duncan began his Hollywood employment history as a celebrity bodyguard in the mid-1990s. He received his first big acting break playing a member of the drilling team sent into space to blow up an asteroid heading to Earth in the big-budget 1998 movie “Armageddon,” starring Bruce Willis.

But it was “The Green Mile,” starring Tom Hanks as a death row prison guard in a Louisiana penitentiary during the Depression, that thrust the 6-foot-5, 300-plus-pound Duncan into the limelight. He portrayed John Coffey, a gentle giant with supernatural powers who has been sentenced to death for the murder of two young white girls.

Duncan credited acting coach Larry Moss with teaching him “how to dig within myself” for the heavily emotional crying scenes in the movie.

“I’m an emotional person, a very emotional person,” Duncan told the Chicago Tribune in 2000. “All those tears you see in the movie were mine.”

In 2002, two years after the Academy Awards ceremony, Duncan told the Orange County Register:

“Realistically, I didn’t think I would win the Oscar, but the nomination was a personal validation for me. It proved to me that I was a good actor. More important, it showed other people that I was a serious actor.”

Duncan later appeared in films such as “The Whole Nine Yards” (2000), “Planet of the Apes” (2001), “The Scorpion King” (2002) and “The Island” (2005). He also did voice work in films and television, including “Brother Bear” (2003) and “Kung Fu Panda” (2008).

(source:the LA Times)

 

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Getting ready for the Democratic Convention…

 

Tomorrow will be the start of three days of Democrats firing up their base and showing support for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. They are in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we’ll be hearing some great speeches.

There’s been a lot of criticism of C lint Eastwood at the Republican Convention with his empty chair routine. A lot of people are suggesting that the Democrats come up with a parody attack. The leading suggestion is to have Betty White talking to Romney in an empty chair. It’s a very funny idea, but it is not going to happen.

Democrats are going to make the point that we are actually better off today than we were when George W. Bush left us in an economic mess.

Just look at how much job growth there has been in the private sector sing the Republicans (red bars) were replaced by Obama and the Democrats (blue bars.) Of course this is what the Republicans lied about last week when they said Obama had done nothing in the last 3 1/2 years.

So I hope everyone enjoys watching the convention and that independents and undecideds go for Obama/Biden and the Democratic congressional candidates.

 

Gallup Poll on Romney’s Convention Speech…

Gallup found the Romney Speech to be the worst one since Bob Dole in 1996.

Gallup results:

That brings into question what the results of his speech will be. Since he outlined no real plans or potential policies but spent most of the speech just introducing himself and attacking Obama, Romney had a performance few will remember. As to memories, I’ll remember Clint Eastwood.

I was thinking about my own labor history…

 

Since I’ve been taking a look at unions today, it occurs to me that I have been a member of two unions back in my New York past.

As a theatre worker in the early 70s, I had experience as a member of AEA (Actors Equity Association) and LOBTET (the League of Off Broadway Theatre Employees and Technicians.) LOBTET was eaten up by Equity after a couple of years and does not exist anymore.

As an Equity member (which I had to join as a professional stage manager), I was involved in the Off Broadway strike in 1970 or 71. Equity was protesting the fact that actors in off-Broadway productions were often paid very little or nothing at all, but took jobs so that they might be seen by critics or casting direc tors or Broadway producers.

I had to picket the Theatre De Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theatre) one night. I walked back and forth with my

Shelley Winters

picket sign, alone, while the General Manager of the theatre sat in the ticket booth and stared at me.

After a while I was joined by another Equity member, and this was one of the most interesting occurences in my theatre career. The other picketer was Shelley Winters!

Shelley and I picketed for about two hours, carrying on a neat social conversation, until we decided that it was past what would have been curtain time and we quit. She got a cab and I walked down the block to the subway.

That’s my Union Story.

 

Remembering the creation and importance of Labor Day…

The contributions made by unions to the betterment of America’s workers is primarily the reason we celebrate Labor Day. The influence of organized labor cannot be ignored.

Most of the benefits workers now enjoy are directly attributable to unions:

  • The 40 hour work week
  • paid holidays and vacations
  • sick leave
  • grievance procedures
  • collective bargaining
  • generally superior wages.

Unfortunately, we have come to take those benefits for granted. Benefits came about because of unions and soon became the norm for union workers and many non-union workers as well. All American workers owe a debt of gratitude to Organized Labor for its achievements.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. By 1909 all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

On Labor Day, let’s look at the benefits brought to us by Organized Labor:

Benefits of Unions:

Reinforcement of  the middle class. States with higher rates of unionization have lower rates of poverty, crime, and failing schools.

Raise of wages for all workers. Studies show that a large union presence in an industry or region can raise wages even for non-union workers. Women in unions make 33% more non-union women, and are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and pensions.

Reducing wage inequality. Unions raise wages the most for low- and middle-wage workers and workers without college degrees.

Creation of mine safety laws strengthening mine safety standards and protecting the rights of mine workers.

The legal participation of Organized Labor has gotten many bills through Congress. In the last 50 or so years these include:

    •    The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
•    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
•    The Voting Rights Act of 1965
•    The Civil Rights Act of 1964
•    The Equal Pay Act of 1963

So as we celebrate Labor Day, let’s look at it as not just a day off from work, but as recognition of the relationship of the worker to democracy.

For those in favor of a Sustainable economy:

Passed on to me by John Case:

The *Daly News*<http://dalynews.org>is where we question some of the most deeply ingrained (and deeply flawed)  myths of mainstream economics. The *Daly News* is named in honor of one of our authors, Herman Daly, a true leader in alternative economic thinking.

His most recent essay provides a counterpoint<http://steadystate.org/eight-fallacies-about-growth/>to the clamor for continuous economic growth. Our current essay is a doozy. Brian Czech attacks the nonsense spouted by George Will<http://steadystate.org/george-will/>, but surprisingly Czech agrees with Will on a critical point that has  ramifications for the transition to a sustainable and fair economy. I hope
you’ll take a look.
 
“Eye-opening.” “Beautifully written.” “Insightful.” Those are just a few reader responses to our essays on the *Daly News*. Please subscribe via email<http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=DalyNews&loc=en_US>or RSS feed <http://feeds.feedburner.com/DalyNews>.

I’ve put the Daly News on my bookmark list and will be referring to it when required.