Blog Archives

Former TV host and actor Gary Collins is dead at 74.

Television host and actor Gary Collins died early this morning in Biloxi, Mississippi, of natural causes at the age of 74, according to the local coroner’s office. Collins was admitted to the Biloxi Regional Medical Center less than 24 hours before he was pronounced dead at 12:56 a.m.

He starred in the 1970s TV series “The Sixth Sense” and appeared in other series including “JAG,” “Yes, Dear” and “The Young and the Restless,” as well as on “The New Hollywood Squares” game show. Collins had been a host of the Miss America pageant.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Mobley, a former Miss America from Brandon, Mississippi.

TV, film actor Chad Everett dies after cancer battle…

 

We seem to be having a lot of celebrity deaths this week and this one caught me by surprise.

Chad Everett, the blue-eyed star of the 1970s TV seriesMedical Center” who went on to appear in such films and TV shows as “Mulholland Drive” and “Melrose Place,” has died after a year and a half battle with lung cancer. He was 75.

Everett played sensitive doctor Joe Gannon for seven years on “Medical Center,” a role that earned him two Golden Globes and an Emmy nomination. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Everett guest starred on such TV series as “The Love Boat,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Without a Trace.” Everett most recently appeared in the TV series “Castle.”

Everett was born in South Bend, Ind., and graduated from Wayne State University before moving to Los Angeles and becoming a contract player with MGM.

 

Anne Francis is Dead at 80

Actress Anne Francis passed away today at the age of 80 due to complications of pancreatic cancer. Francis, of Ossining, New York, passed away at a retirement home in Santa Barbra, California, where she had resided for several years.

Just this past week I had been watching a Twilight Zone marathon on the SyFy channel… and one of the best pieces was one starring Anne Francis. She had done over 30 motion pictures … probably best remembered for acting in the 1956 classic science fiction film ‘Forbidden Planet.’ She was also a Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee for her role as a female detective in the 60’s TV seriesHoney West.’

She had been fighting cancer since 2007. She left her last official message on her web page in 2009:

“Dear Friends, Due to health issues, I’m unable to process my fan mail in a timely manner. For this reason, I am temporarily disabling the collectibles page. For those of you who’ve previously sent me fan mail and autograph requests, I’ll try to process them when I am able to do so. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Sincerely, Anne.”

Pondering the differences between British and American television…

I guess it started when they put Doc Martin on Public Broadcasting, specifically on WNET in Washington, DC, one of the three PBS stations we get on the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia (oddly enough, none of them are West Virginia stations.)

WNET was showing the first season of Doc Martin, a series about an unpleasant local doctor in a seaside town called Port Wenn and the effect he has on the community…and the community on him. It is both funny and serious and has a group of characters which get intellectually deeper every week… and, like the theatre guy that I am, I wanted to get more of it without waiting for next week…so I discovered that Hulu had the three seasons that have already run in the UK (there’s a fourth season coming out this year) and I watched all of the episodes over a two-day period.

One of the things that got me into Doc Martin was the range of interpersonal subject matter, something a doctor show can get you…look at House over here, for instance (something I will refer to again shortly)… with certain repeated elements (Doc became a GP after a career as a great surgeon because he developed a fear of blood; Doc’s Aunt Joan, who he stayed with in the summer as a child, indicates a family cause for the doctor’s unpleasant interpersonal attitude, which leads to a clash with his parents in the third season.)

When I got to the end of the available episodes on Hulu (something PBS won’t be getting around to for at lesast another year), I followed a site recommendation to try another British show called “Kingdom.” Kingdom refers to Peter Kingdom, who is the head of a law office in a small market town. It ran for three seasons in England and then was not renewed by ITV, which was unfortunate because the third season ended with the audience up in the air over who Peter Kingdom’s real father was.

The main character is played by Stephen Fry, an actor who I have come to be very fond of over the years… first as a minor role player in Black Adder, then in sections of the American series Bones, where he played a an FBI psychiatrist who eventually became a chef, and in occasional bits and pieces which have been run from an 80’s series – Fry and Laurie – with Hugh Laurie, who now plays the American doctor House without so much as a hint of a British accent. I had wondered what Fry did with himself when Laurie came over here…where he apparently has moved his family and is going into a seventh-or-so season. What he did was a great deal, and Kingdom is part of it.

Kingdom goes way beyond what I get from American television series. It does not depend on solving murders as a plot device, which most of our hour-long features find der rigeur. It has main characters who have extreme mental problems (Kingdom’s half-sister is a medication dependent schizophrenic, his half- brother, thought dead in the first series, is a lawyer and failed gambler who has apparently crossed the mob, but who appears alive in the second series only to die before the third), legal issues which are alarmingly local to anyone who watches our legal shows, and virtually no dependence on sex as a motivating factor (which doesn’t mean that people don’t have affairs, pregnancies, etc… it’s just a part of life.)

Kingdom led me to a half-hour comedy which ran for two seasons (2002-2003) in England and, while considered a “situation comedy”. is anything but. Created by an American-Born Scottish writer, Annie Griffin, The Book Group takes seven individuals in Glasgow and puts them into a weekly meeting of readers who discuss a specific book each week. The founder of the group is Claire, an American… played by Anne Dudek who also went on for two seasons of House…  who is looking for a way to meet people… and, frankly, to get laid. Then there are three women who are married to or live with football (soccer to us) stars, a starting writer trapped in a wheelchair after a mountain climbing accident who also does wheelchair racing, a minimally spoken football fan who turns out to be the gay lover of one of the wives of the footballers, and a heroin addict who is working on a PhD in literature.

It fascinates me that whole sections, and funny ones, in this series are concerned with masturbating, drug use, splattered with language we’d never get away with here, and unconcerned by nudity and oral sex. Did I say it was a half-hour situation comedy? It ran two seasons and I am halfway through the second season now. I’ll see where the next show is that I am led to, but it is likely to be another British one.

It is so unfortunate that shows like this, in an uncensored form, are not possible over here. Oh, we get Gordon Ramsay’s cooking shows with beeps on every other word… but it is my sense that, in the English version, language is language and the bleeps don’t occur. And words like “fuck” and “shit” which we couldn’t use by any means are  common and repeated.

Perhaps it is the age of the culture. Perhaps it is generations more in the development of a society. Whatever it is, it is something we don’t have here. Don’t you miss actual realism?