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Bob Hope: His Classic Television Performances

Bob Hope is hands-down the most acclaimed, honored and versatile entertainer in show business history. During his seventy-plus years in the entertainment industry, Hope earned more than two thousand awards and recognitions for his various professional and humanitarian work, including an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, a Congressional Gold Medal from President Kennedy, the Medal of Freedom from President Johnson, and fifty-four honorary doctorates. Hope's Christmas specials, USO shows, radio and television programs, and regular appearances on numerous sitcoms and variety shows have some of the highest ratings of any primetime telecasts. Because of this well-deserved praise, it is difficult to choose only a few television appearances as the "Best Of" Hope's career. Instead, it is better to look at the huge variety of shows Hope appeared on and why this versatile performer became America's most beloved entertainer.

Born in England May 29, 1903, Hope and his family traveled to America in 1908 aboard the SS Philadelphia. Ironically, Hope was a relative latecomer to television; he dabbled in experimental broadcasts with NBC in the 1930s but held off almost twenty years before starting his illustrious career. He began his official television career on Easter Sunday, 1950, on NBC. His specials, most of which were sponsored by the Chrysler corporation, were often hysterically unscripted variety programs that featured such guest stars as Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Marilyn Monroe and Dina Shore.

Christmas Specials

Hope got significant recognition for his gut-busting Christmas specials. These specials ran for years and featured duet performances of "Silver Bells" by Hope and adorable young guest stars, such as Olivia Newton-John and Brooke Shields. The most memorable Bob Hope Christmas specials were, without a doubt, his 1970 and 1971 episodes. Filmed in front of military audiences at the height of the Vietnam War, these specials actually aired in January -after Hope was back in the United States-- and were seen by more than sixty percent of television-viewing households in America. Like his other Christmas specials, the Vietnam shows were all about celebrating the traditional joy, peace and good cheer of the season. His use of humor, beautiful women and talented performers were a welcome respite from the horrors of the war itself.

USO Performances

Hope is probably best known for his performances for the United Service Organization (USO), beginning with his USO debut at March Field, California, on May 6, 1941. Hope performed USO shows throughout World War II, prompting acclaim from such contemporaries as John Steinbeck. "It is impossible to see how he can do so much," Steinbeck wrote in 1943, "can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective." Hope continued his USO shows during the Korean War, Vietnam War and Persian Gulf War, heading roughly sixty tours in total. Because of his tireless dedication to the overseas troops, Hope was awarded the impressive Sylvanus Thayer Award by the U.S. Military Academy in 1968. He was named an Honorary Veteran by a 1997 act of Congress, signed by President Clinton, a recognition Hope referred to as "the greatest honor I have ever received."

Sitcom Appearances

Hope also appeared on a number of popular television programs during his career. Hope did a guest spot on America's favorite TV show of the 1950s, "I Love Lucy". Supposedly, Hope balked at the idea of using a script. He ad-libbed the entire episode, legend goes, giving one of his best performances in the process. He also appeared on the Danny Thomas Show, the Jack Benny Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, the Donny & Marie Show, and others.

Saying Good Bye

Hope bid a nostalgic farewell to his television audiences in 1996 with "Laughing with the Presidents," a special he co-hosted with Tony Danza. In this special, Hope gave a very personal tribute to the U.S. presidents he had known and worked with during his career; Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and others. The show was a fitting and entertaining good-bye to the hardest working entertainer in American history.

It's not surprising that Bob Hope was so heavily recognized for his work. Radio and television programs, USO shows, Christmas specials, books, movies; the man did it all. He helped the world smile during troubling times. He lent his celebrity status to good causes. He championed humor and fun as the best tool in achieving peace at home and abroad. Hope wasn't only a great entertainer; he was an amazing humanitarian.

~Ben Anton, 2008


Top 5 Most Famous Cartoon Mascots

A cartoon mascot is a great for a company to build brand recognition through their advertising. A mascot allows a company to basically display it's personality in values for the entire world to see in a fun and related form. Mascots can continue to grow and develop through the times right alongside the company, giving people something that they can always relate to. Below you'll find a list, in no particular order, of some of the most famous and memorable cartoon mascots to ever exist.

1. Mr. Clean
A lot of people think that the idea behind Mr. Clean is that he's some sort of 'cleaning genie' -given his single ear-ring, folded arms, and seemingly magical cleaning powers. However, he was actually based on a United States naval officer. This character is memorable for his muscled physique, friendly smile and, of course, ability to clean dirt and grime.

2. Tony the Tiger
Originally designed in 1952, Tony the Tiger is one of the most prominent among the many different breakfast cereal related characters. His catchphrase, 'They're g-r-r-r-eat!' is instantly recognizable to kids and adults alike. Actually, the Tony we see today is really Tony Jr., a sleeker and more sport-oriented mascot, who replaced his more whimsical dad. The modern Tony appears to be something of an extreme sports enthusiast, and is always seen encouraging kids to get out and be active.

3. Charlie the Tuna
The mascot of StarKist tuna, Charlie was based on an actor and friend of his designed named Henry Nemo. He's most notable for his thick glasses, red beret hat, and of course his good taste. He was the source of another popular catchphrase, 'Sorry, Charlie' which was said in the 1980s commercials because Starkist was looking for good tasting tuna, not a tune with 'good taste.'

4. The Pillsbury Doughboy
Officially named 'Poppin' Fresh,' the Pillsbury Doughboy is a ball of dough shaped like a little person, with a chef's hat and scarf. He is most famous for his memorable, high-pitched giggle that he makes when you poke him in his belly. He's not technically a cartoon mascot -he was conceived as an animated character but he was actually brought to life by stop-motion in the early commercials, and CGI these days.

5. Joe Camel
Joe Camel, or 'Old Joe' is a very controversial character, but no less famous for it. Joe represented Camel cigarettes and he existed as an icon of pure coolness before the company had no choice but to get rid of him -many people complained that his 'cool' persona attracted kids to smoking. His use in Camel was discontinued in 1997, but he still remains a recognizable character for many people.

There are literally hundreds more cartoon mascots that, over the years, have become engrained in people's hearts and minds. While cartoon mascots are still great, many companies are now utilizing other types of media to create mascots that are just as full of personality and just as memorable.


Classic Television Moments With Johnny Carson

The 30-year run of Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show was both memorable and historic. It was the setting for a number of classic TV moments remembered by television watchers of several generations. Though many people remember Carson for his hilarious characters and skits, he was not one to shy away from controversial topics when it was something that he truly believed in. Many of his best-known moments have been captured on various classic TV DVD's, enabling fans of Carson to watch their favorite bits over and over again.

One of Johnny Carson's best known moments, one that demonstrated to the world just how quick his wit really was, happened two years after he began his run on The Tonight Show. On April 29, 1965, Ed Ames of the Daniel Boone television series was Carson's guest. Ames was demonstrating how to throw a tomahawk using a wooden silhouette of a man, and when he threw the tomahawk it landed squarely in the silhouette's crotch. As the crowd laughed, Carson quipped, "I didn't even know you were Jewish." This piece of classic television comedy was so popular that it was often replayed on the show's anniversary.

Other classic moments on The Tonight Show revolved around some of the recurring characters that Johnny Carson portrayed, often with the help of Ed McMahon. Quite possibly the most famous of these classic television characters was Carnac the Magnificent, a mentalist played by Carson who would claim to be able to answer questions sealed in envelopes without ever seeing the question. The answers, of course, would never be straight answers and would instead be puns. When the audience didn't like one of the jokes, he would respond with equally outlandish curses, such as "May a diseased yak befriend your sister." Carson had a number of other popular characters as well, such as Floyd R. Turbo, Ralph Willie, and Aunt Blabby.

Not all of the comedy sketches that Carson did contained these repeating characters. There were a number of one-shot skits which appeared on the classic television show, including Carson's portrayal of Hamlet delivering the famous "To be or not to be..." soliloquy. In the Johnny Carson version, however, were a number of product advertisements which flowed directly from the famous Shakespearean lines to create one of the funniest portrayals of the play to date.

In addition to providing laughs and unexpected punchlines, Carson would from time to time use his show as a means of exposing scams and fakes who were taking advantage of the public at large. Famed psychic Uri Gellar appeared on the show in 1973. Carson himself set up the props for Gellar's act without Gellar or his manager being able to see them before filming. Despite Gellar's claims of having genuine mental powers, he was unable to reproduce his usual tricks with the props that Carson provided. This method of proving Gellar a fraud had been suggested by Carson's friend James Randi, a trained stage magician (like Carson himself) who later appeared on the show in 1987 to expose the supposed faith healer Peter Popoff. Though Popoff claimed that his knowledge of the audience's problems came from "Godly visions", Randi provided Carson and his audience with video that showed Popoff's wife describing the people for him to heal via a microphone which broadcast to a speaker hidden in his hearing aid.

Other classic TV moments on The Tonight Show included visits from zoologists such as Joan Embery and Jim Fowler. They brought animals which Carson would often interact with in some way; many episodes featured Carson being crawled on by smaller animals. One famous incident often shown as a clip featured Carson leaning down too close to a panther's cage which caused the cat to swipe at him with its paw. Carson ran across the stage and jumped into Ed McMahon's arms for comedic effect.

When Johnny Carson retired from the show, his final episodes were considered major events. The most sentimental moment came on the next-to-last of his episodes. Bette Midler and Robin Williams were his guests. After Carson revealed in conversation some of his favorite songs, Midler began to sing one. The song soon became a duet between her and Carson. She finished her appearance by singing "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)." An emotional Carson began to tear up on camera. This historic and touching moment was caught on film using a long camera angle never used in the previous 30 years of Carson's run. One of his most emotional classic moments became a historic milestone in late night television filming.

Carson was an amazing entertainer, a charismatic personality and a moment maker. His appeal as a celebrity and a comedian carries on to future generations as classic television shows become available on DVD.

~Ben Anton, 2008


Movie Review: "The Look of Love"

Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Length: 101 minutes

Release Date: July 7, 2013

Directed by: Michael Winterbottom

Genre: Biography/Comedy/Drama

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan) went from a humble beginning to emerge as one of the most notorious men in recent British history. He did so by opening England's first strip club, which made him enough money to go on and become a very successful real estate developer and publisher of pornographic magazines, the latter cemented his place as one of the richest men in the country. The story of his rise to fame, infamy, and fortune is at the heart of "The Look of Love."

Raymond opens that first strip club under fire because lots of people think he is bringing down decency standards and changing the fabric of society. Raymond disagrees with these assertions and uses some of the money he earns from his highly successful club to start a publishing empire, releasing titles such as Men Only and Escort among others. He smartly diversifies his holdings, investing in real estate all over the Soho neighborhood of London, which is how he gets the heady moniker, King of Soho. He throws lavish, hedonistic parties full of drugs and booze and with women who aren't bothered by the fact the reputed lothario has a wife and child waiting for him at home.

While Raymond is busy being the King of Soho to the outside world, things aren't so sunny in his personal life. His wife Jean (Anna Friel), tired of his constant philandering, takes him to divorce court where a bitter battle for his millions ensues.

He begins to groom his beloved daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots) to take over the company when he is ready to retire. Debbie, fighting demons of her own, tragically dies of a heroin overdose before she can take over the keys to the kingdom. This sends Raymond into a tailspin from which he may never recover. Sure, he has two sons, but he is never as close to them as he was to Debbie, who was the light of his life. Even with his remaining two children supporting him, Raymond becomes a shell of himself, putting his entire publishing and real estate empire in jeopardy.

Coogan turns in a fantastic performance as Raymond, who was one of the most powerful men in all the UK in his heyday. He gives a performance worthy of that power, portraying Raymond's often hedonistic ways with ease. Coogan's performance is finely layered, as the audience is acutely aware that no matter how crazy Raymond occasionally acts at a party, he always knows what he is doing. The man is always in control, even in drunkenness, because he doesn't really know any other way to be. Coogan delivers his lines with the cool confidence of someone who is always aware of his surroundings and what everyone is doing. This is Coogan's fourth film with director Michael Winterbottom, who previously directed him in "24 Hour Party People," "A Cock and Bull Story," and "The Trip." This is arguably the most complex character Coogan has had to play in any of their collaborations, but his familiarity with and trust in Winterbottom helps coax out an outstanding portrayal.

Another reason Coogan succeeds is because he has good material to work with in the form of the film's screenplay. Writer Matt Greenhalgh has slowly and quietly made the transition from television writer to screenwriter, with "The Look of Love" being just his fourth full-length movie script. Though he also occasionally dabbles in directing shorts or being an assistant director on larger productions, it is fairly clear that he is a writer at heart. It isn't easy to write a film based on a real person, especially one as notorious as Paul Raymond, but much ink had already been spilled over the man and the many myths surrounding him, so Greenhalgh had plenty to work with. Some of the stories about Raymond contradict each other, but Greenhalgh is careful to put together a script that lays out a clear picture of the man. The script is crafted well and paced perfectly for a film in this genre.

Raymond was known for bringing nudity to Great Britain and was a notorious womanizer to boot. Some may think that this made him a misogynist, but the opposite was actually true. He loved strong women and surrounded himself with them, not the least of which was his wife Jean, who is played by Friel with guts and gusto. Though Coogan's performance obviously stands out here, it is important to note that the women of this film nearly steal the show with feisty performances that are a happy revelation in a surprisingly good film.


How to Get Selected to Participate in a Reality Show

With television turning more and more toward reality shows, it has opened up the world of entertainment to you and me, common viewers. Suddenly, anyone can participate in show biz, but you are going to have a lot of competition. So, how do you manage to get selected to participate in a reality show? There are a few tricks that will help put you in the running.

Read the Instructions

The most important part of trying out for a reality show is to make sure that you read all the instructions first. These will go over the rules and what is required of you, a potential participant. Since a lot of people will mess this simple step up and not follow all the rules, leaving some things out, you'll find that you have a far better chance of beating out the competition if you ensure that your application conforms to everything they've asked for.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you are aiming for a reality show that requires some talent, like American Idol or America's Next Top Model, then you need to start practicing now. Learn that song by heart and work out all the kinks before the audition. Strut your stuff up and down your living room until you have the diva walk down. Previous episodes of the reality show will give you pointers on how you can improve.


This might sound suspiciously like the previous tip, but there is a difference. While practice might make perfect, you will find that some reality shows like Project Runway, will require you to have things prepared. For example, you'll need to have some very well made garments ready to show the judges if you're going to be trying out for Project Runway!

Getting some credentials might help, as well. For example, many cooking shows look for chefs who have already studied and possibly even worked in a restaurant or two. You'll notice the token non-chefs in each show, but the majority of them have some credentials. This is all part of preparing for the audition process.

Make a Killer Application Video

Most reality shows require you to send in an application video before you will even be considered for an audition. There are a few things to keep in mind for the video.
Don't be boring. If you just stand there and talk or sing, chances are you'll be eliminated before you even get a face to face.

Be creative. The best videos are ones that show you from a unique angle and that capture the judges' interest right from the beginning. This isn't always easy, but if you are serious about getting on the reality show, then you can put in the time required to brainstorm a great video idea.

Keep it clean. A risque video might catch their attention, but in general, shows aren't going to be looking for the person with the best dirty joke or who bares all. Stay a little on the conservative side while having fun and you'll be more likely to get in.

Confidence Counts

Judges are far more likely to approve someone who is confident and friendly and who doesn't flip out over a little criticism, so take it easy.

There are many things that will help you get accepted for a reality show, but the best way to get on one is to simply make sure you meet the requirements. You might enjoy watching Top Chef, but if you've never cooked a meal in your life, it's probably not the best one to apply for. Instead, do your research and fill out your application carefully, following all the rules.


Movie Review: "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me"

Rating: PG-13 (Drug references, language)

Length: 113 min

Release date: March 15, 2012

Directed by: Drew DeNicola, Olivia Mori

Genre: Documentary

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

"Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" is a 2012 documentary film by directors Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori, which tells the story of a renowned Memphis band called Big Star. They may not have made it to the top of the charts, but the band certainly developed a cult following among country and rock fans. Although Big Star only produced three albums, those albums changed the course of music by influencing such music legends as R.E.M., Elliot Smith, and the Flaming Lips.

The life of a rock legend is often filled with controversy and drama, and that goes double for struggling musicians who never quite made it to the top. The documentary provides an interesting look into the mystery of success in the music industry. Big Star certainly wasn't lacking in talent and inspiration, as evidenced by their all-star list of fans. The film takes a deeper look inside the lives of Big Star's members and examines what they did wrong and, more importantly, all the things they did right.

"Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" follows the journey of the band from their formation to the pinnacle of their success. The film includes testimonials and commentary from those who had significant roles in producing the band's music as well as famous artists who were influenced by Big Star's music. R.E.M., the Replacements, Pete Yorn, and the Flaming Lips are just a few famous guest appearances used to connect photos and videos of the band with a modern day audience. The directors managed to uncover large amounts of unseen footage, photos, and live performance clips, making "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" a definitive source for fans new and old.

Alex Chilton, the band's famous frontman, was no stranger to success. The documentary follows Chilton's musical career long after Big Star collapsed as a band, covering his reasonably popular 1978 single, "Can't Seem to Make You Mine." The song came out in the same year as the band's former guitarist, Chris Bell, produced his influential single, "I Am the Cosmos." The two singles are contrasted visually and musically, showing how unique each artist was and how they influenced the atmosphere of the band.

Directors DeNicola and Mori manage to do with this film what many documentary makers strive for but fail to accomplish. Even while discussing why Big Star failed to become a mainstream hit, the film focuses on the qualities of the band's music that inspired so many legendary musicians that came after them. "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" introduces Big Star's music to a whole new generation of music lovers while connecting the band's work with modern music tastes. Chris Bell, Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, and Andy Hummel will resonate with fans of modern rock just as well as classic fans, thanks to the masterful job this documentary does of making their music come to life like never before. Big Star's music is remastered and their performances are shown in high quality that makes the audience feel as if they have center stage seating at a vintage concert.

"Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" is the ultimate homage to the classic band. While Big Star had a short music career, their music affected the world of rock in such a deep way that their influence can be found in numerous modern bands and genres. The documentary highlights the ups and downs of their careers while focusing on the band members and their personal lives and struggles. "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" is a realistic, often gritty portrayal of what it meant to be in a rock band in the 1970s. While there are plenty of documentaries about bands who made it, this one is unique in that it focuses on a band that had all the right qualities that never quite got them where they wanted to be.

Strangely enough, "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" actually gives Big Star the recognition they worked so long and hard to achieve. While the band may not have multiple platinum records, it's obvious from the documentary that they have influenced the work of other musicians just as much as bands that reach the top of the charts on a regular basis. For this reason, DeNicola and Mori have earned their own place in the rock and roll documentary hall of fame. Whether you are a long-time fan of Big Star or simply a music fan looking to learn a little more about one of the bands who inspired the legends you love today, "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" is an entertaining and informative film to see.


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