Author: Craig Zablo

RIP: Norman Lear

Norman Lear died on December 5, 2023.  Mr. Lear was 101.

Norman Lear dropped out of college to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II.  After the war, Norman Lear worked in public relations, door to door sales, as he worked to sell comedy sketches for celebrities such as Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis and Rowan & Martin.  This led to offers to write and direct.  Mr. Lear would go on to write, direct and produce both for television and feature films for the rest of his career.

Norman Lear’s Awards include:

  • 1968 Academy Award Nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen for Divorce American Style
  • 1975 Star on the Walk of Fame Winner for Television
  • 1977 Peabody Lifetime achievement Award
  • 1984: Television Academy Hall of Fame Award
  • 1985 Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special for Heartsounds
  • 1991 Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Informational Special for All in the Family: 20th Anniversary Special
  • 1999 National Medal of Arts Winner
  • 2017: Peabody Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2019 Primetime Emmy Win for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’
  • 2020 Primetime Emmy Win for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times’
  • 2022 Primetime Emmy Nominee for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘The Facts of Life’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes’

Some of Norman Lear’s television projects include: The Martha Raye Show (18 episodes); Bobby Darin and Friends; The Danny Kaye Special; Henry Fonda and the Family; The Andy Williams Special; The Andy Williams Show (3 episodes); Steptoe and Son; Robert Young and the Family; Hot L Baltimore (13 episodes); Grady (10 episodes); Sanford & Son (135 episodes); Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (325 episodes); The Nancy Walker Show (11 episodes); Maude (141 episodes); All in the Family (207 episodes); Good Times (133 episodes); Palmerstown, USA (17 episodes); Square Pegs (20 episodes); Archie Bunker’s Place (97 episodes); Gloria (22 episodes); aka Pablo (2 episodes); One Day at a Time (209 episodes); Mama Malone (13 episodes); Heartsounds; The Jeffersons (253 episodes); Silver Spoons (116 episodes); The Facts of Life (201 episodes); 227 (116 episodes); All in the Family: 20th Anniversary Special; Sunday Dinner (6 episodes); The Powers that Be (21 episodes); 704 Hauser (2 episodes); America Divided (4 episodes); Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ and One Day at a Time (2017 – 46 episodes).

Some of Norman Lear’s feature film projects include: Come Blow Your Horn; Divorce American Style; The Night They Raided Minsky’s; Start the Revolution Without Me; Cold Turkey; The Princess Bride and Fried Green Tomatoes.

Norman Lear was the creator/producer of some of the most popular and influential television programs of my lifetime.  I was a fan and regularly watched All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Good Times and The Jeffersons. These programs were not only very funny, but often left viewers with something to think about.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Norman Lear’s family, friends and fans.

“Masters of the Air” – The Trailer is Here!

I said it before and I’ll say it again, “Deal me in!”

From the executive producers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific comes Masters of the Air. The 9-part series event premieres January 26

Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, and scripted by John Orloff, “Masters of the Air” follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group (the “Bloody Hundredth”) as they conduct perilous bombing raids over Nazi Germany and grapple with the frigid conditions, lack of oxygen, and sheer terror of combat conducted at 25,000 feet in the air. Portraying the psychological and emotional price paid by these young men as they helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich, is at the heart of “Masters of the Air.” Some were shot down and captured; some were wounded or killed. And some were lucky enough to make it home. Regardless of individual fate, a toll was exacted on them all.

The series features a stellar cast led by Academy Award nominee Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle and Nate Mann, who are joined by Raff Law, Academy Award nominee Barry Keoghan, Josiah Cross, Branden Cook and Ncuti Gatwa.

Hailing from Apple Studios, “Masters of the Air” is executive produced by Steven Spielberg through Amblin Television, and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman for Playtone. Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey co-executive produce alongside Playtone’s Steven Shareshian. In addition to writing, Orloff co-executive produces. Graham Yost also serves as co-executive producer. Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Dee Rees and Tim Van Patten serve as directors.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME by Burt Reynolds and Jon Winokur / Z-View

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME by Burt Reynolds and Jon Winokur

First sentence…

Growing up in Palm Beach, County, Florida, I went by the name Buddy.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Burt Reynolds always seemed like a star you could sit and talk with.  Perhaps that’s why he was always such a great guest on talk shows.  His sense of humor always came through, often at his own expense.  I’m pleased to report that BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME has the same feel.

Burt Reynolds’ goal with the book was to pay homage to the people who shaped him for better or worse. And he does just that.  Burt isn’t ashamed to get sentimental or afraid to name names. We learn who he considers the good folks, as well a few who wouldn’t make his Christmas card list.  He talks about success as well as mistakes he made both professionally and personally.  Burt Reynolds had a career few could dream of and he’s written a memoir worthy of it.


“I.S.S.” starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, Pilou Asbaek, John Gallagher Jr., Costa Ronin, and Masha Mashkova – The Poster & Trailer are Here!

I.S.S. looks like a suspenseful ride.  Deal me in.

Watch the official trailer for I.S.S.
Only In Theaters January 19

Tensions flare in the near future aboard the International Space Station as a worldwide conflict breaks out on Earth. Reeling from this, the astronauts receive orders from the ground: take control of the station by any means necessary. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, working with Nick Shafir’s Blacklist script, brings together a stellar cast that includes Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, Pilou Asbaek, John Gallagher Jr., Costa Ronin, and Masha Mashkova, in a high-stakes thriller set entirely in the confines of the I.S.S. as astronauts are called to duty in fateful and terrifying ways.

“Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection” (2022) / Z-View

Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection (2022)

Director: Kelvin Mao

Stars: Dave Stevens, Thomas Jane, Billy Campbell, Joe Johnston, Brinke Stevens, Bruce Timm, David Mandel, Danny Bilson, William Stout, James R. Silke, Bill Wray, Scott Shaw and Mark Evanier.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Dave Stevens was a professional artist best known for creating The Rocketeer.  The Rocketeer quickly became a fan favorite comic book series.  It was later adapted as a feature film.  The Rocketeer is what most people think of when Dave Stevens’ name comes up.

What many don’t know is that Dave Stevens worked inking comic strips before creating The Rocketeer.  He also drew storyboards for Hanna-Barbera’s animated shows.  Later Dave Stevens provided storyboards for Raiders of the Lost Ark and Michael Jackson’s Thriller!  He was married to actress Brink Stevens.  He helped popularize Bettie Paige with a new generation.  When he discovered that Ms. Paige was still alive, he befriended her.  Dave Stevens made sure that Bettie Paige received money from people profiting off the use of her likeness.

Dave Stevens was an artist obsessed with perfection.  He wanted every drawing, every page, every panel, every line to be as he pictured it in his mind.  Despite being an award-winning artist, and considered the reigning king of pinup artists, Dave Stevens was hampered by his quest for perfection.  It caused his output to be slow.  Mr. Stevens had high standards for his art, himself and those few he considered friends.

Drawn to Perfection explores all aspects of Dave Stevens life and career.  We hear from his family, friends and even Dave himself through vintage interviews.  If you’re at all interested in learning more about Dave Stevens, then Drawn to Perfection is the place to start.

“Storm Fear” (1955) starring Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace & Dan Duryea / Z-View

Storm Fear (1955)

Director: Cornel Wilde

Writer: Horton Foote based on STORM FEAR by Clinton Seeley

Stars: Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace, Dan Duryea, Lee Grant, David Stollery, Dennis Weaver, Steven Hill and Chet Huntley.


The Plot…

A bad winter storm is coming.  Fred Blake (Duryea), his wife Elizabeth (Wallace) and their son, David (Stollery) live in a remote mountainside farm house.  Fred is a sickly and unhappy man.  Just before the storm hits, Fred’s estranged brother, Charlie (Wilde) and two others show up.  Charlie has been shot in the leg.  The bullet is still lodged there.  His companions are Benji (Hill), a nervous, bully and Edna (Grant).  Obviously the three are on the run from the law.

As the storm hits, Fred learns that the three robbed a bank.  A police officer was killed in the process.  Charlie promises they will take off when the weather clears.  But as the night progresses, we learn secrets that had been long buried.  Worried that the family will become witnesses against them, Benji plans to kill them all, including Charlie.

It won’t be long until sunup…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Storm Fear marked Cornell Wilde’s feature film directorial debut.

Lee Grant had been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in 1951’s The Detective.  It was her first feature film.  Because of Joseph McCarthy’s red scare, Grant was blacklisted and didn’t get another feature film role until Cornell Wilde cast her in Storm Fear.  Grant would then go on to a long career as an actress, director and producer.  She was nominated three more times for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, winning in 1976 for her role in Shampoo.

I was surprised to learn that Eddie Muller is not a fan of Storm Fear.  I’m not one to argue with the Czar of Noir, but Storm Fear resonated with me.

“Flagpole Jitters” (1956) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Flagpole Jitters (1956)

Director: Jules White

Writer: Felix Adler, Jack White

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, David Bond, Vernon Dent, Richard Alexander, Ned Glass and Frank Sully.

Tagline:  The Three Stooges hit a new high in low-down laughs

The Plot…

The boys are working as janitors to raise money for their invalid neighbor, Mary.  Their goal is to get enough dough that Mary can have an operation to allow her to walk again.  A criminal known as The Great Svengarlic hypnotizes Larry, Shemp and Moe to dance on a flagpole high above the street.  While the crowd watches Svengarlic’s act, his accomplices rob a jewelry store.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Flagpole Jitters (1956) is a reworking of the Stooges’ 1949 short Hokus Pokus.  It makes use of quite a bit of footage from the original.  In the original Mary was faking her disability, in this one she’s not.  Changing this aspect of the short weakens the ending.

Flagpole Jitters is the last Stooges’ short that features new footage of Shemp.  He died less than five months after the filming of this one.

The funniest scene is when Shemp gets physical with the insurance adjuster! (And that came from the original short.)

Hot Stuff (1956) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Fallout” starring Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten, Walton Goggins – The Trailer is Here!

I don’t know the game, but I am a Walter Goggins fan and the Fallout trailer looks interesting.  Since it’s on PRIME, deal me in.

Based on one of the greatest video game series of all time, Fallout is the story of haves and have-nots in a world in which there’s almost nothing left to have. 200 years after the apocalypse, the gentle denizens of luxury fallout shelters are forced to return to the irradiated hellscape their ancestors left behind — and are shocked to discover an incredibly complex, gleefully weird and highly violent universe waiting for them. From executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the creators of Westworld, starring Ella Purnell, Aaron Moten, Walton Goggins and more. Arriving April 12 on Prime Video.