Thursday, December 20, 2007

Comedy Troupe Behind YouTube Sensation "Heynabonics" To Perform Saturday Night at Odyssey Fitness Center in Wilkes-Barre





One Laugh At Least, the local comedy troupe behind the You Tube sensation "Heynabonics," will perform improv (AND the “Heynabonics” skit, YAY!) LIVE this Saturday, December 22nd at the Odyssey Fitness Center in Wilkes-Barre at 8:15 PM. Tickets are $12 for the general public or $10 for Odyssey members.


For more information, call (570) 829-2661 or visit the troupe's official website at www.onelaughatleast.com.


One Laugh At Least was recently profiled in both the Citizens Voice and The Scranton Times-Tribune. Also, one of the members of One Laugh At Least is Mr. Jack Gibbons (pictured in the articles with the boxing gloves), who is the husband of our very own Evelyn Gibbons (who also contributes regularly to the entertainment blog).


Monday, December 17, 2007

Blog: "From Crystal Club Soda to Gertrude Hawk Chocolate"

Fellow blogger Jason Schwass recently emailed me a link to his awesome Scranton blog. Titled From Crystal Club Soda to Gertrude Hawk Chocolate, the blog is a " a tongue in cheek look at Scranton, Pennsylvania." from eBay auctions of Scranton memorabilia to local news to local elections and politics.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Nickelodeon's KaBlam!: A Girl Named Fuzzball" by Kevin Dougherty

Kevin Dougherty, a Wilkes-Barre resident and filmmaker, emailed me yesterday about an animated short he did that aired on Nickelodeon's KaBlam!:

"'Fuzzball' takes place in the mythical "West Valley, Pennsylvania" and features church carnivals, bowling alleys...most of the locations are directly based on local stuff. If you look closely, you can see flyers on telephone poles for Cafe Metropolis in Wilkes-Barre (where I work)."

Kevin also added: "And speaking of Wilkes-Barre natives, I am finishing up a 3-page comic strip bio of Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka. It is scheduled to run in Electric City paper December 28th. Its an interesting tale."

The short is awesome, by the way, so check it out.

Thanks to Kevin Dougherty for this reference.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stephen Karam, Playwright



In a letter published in the "Your Opinion" section of this morning's Scranton Times-Tribune, Vincent J. Vanston wrote a letter titled Rising Star about an off-Broadway play in New York titled Speech & Debate that he highly recommends. Of particular note is that the playwright, Stephen Karam, is a former Scranton resident.

A few weeks ago, one of our patrons, Gloria McDonough, also told me that Stephen Karam was a student at Scranton High School and his father was a principal. She also told me Mr. Karam went to Brown University and spend a semester at either Cambridge or Oxford University in the UK.

Currently playing (and recently extended) until February 24, 2008 and presented by the Roundabout Underground Theatre Company, Speech & Debate is a black comedy that tells the story of three misfits in a Salem, Oregon high school who reluctantly form their school's first debate team--only after discovering they are all linked together by their small town's sex scandal.

Karam's previous plays include Columbinus, a drama (co-written with PJ Paparelli) inspired by the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.

Much thanks to Gloria McDonough for this reference.

UPDATE 1/14/08 My new fantastic colleague in Reference, Michele L., told me tonight she went to Scranton High School with Stephen Karam and was even on the high school debate team AND in chorus with him. She also said that he is an incredibly funny person, even acting in the high school production in Once Upon A Mattress.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chelsea Lately (Friday, December 7, 2007)


I'm not sure if this qualifies as a local reference or a simple "plug" but, being that it was heard on the only television channel I ever watch, I thought I'd include it.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE fan of E! Entertainment Television. The E! True Hollywood Story, E! News, The Daily 10, The Girls Next Door and MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE The Soup -- what more can you ask for?

Last night, I was watching a repeat of E's new late-night half-hour talk show Chelsea Lately starring Chelsea Handler (the episodes featured guests Bridget and Kendra from The Girls Next Door). Towards the end of her panel discussion that begins each show (usually with 3 guest comedians), Chelsea said, "By the way, I'll be at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre (she pronounced it Wilkes-BARRA) this Saturday night and if you can't make it...then suck it."

Also of note, a few days after The Office Convention in Scranton, The Office's Melora Hardin (Jan) was a guest on Chelsea Lately. During the interview, Chelsea asked her, "Wasn't there some sort of convention you just got back from?" Though they discussed the convention for five minutes, neither Chelsea nor Melora mentioned Scranton by name.

To read the concert review from Citizens Voice, click here.

To read an interview with Chelsea from The Weekender, click here.

Chelsea Lately airs weeknights at 11:30 PM on E!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Amen (Season 1, Episode 22 - April 22, 1987) -- And a THANK YOU!

Don McKeon from Scranton, one of our regular contributors to the blog, emailed me a few days ago with the following:

"I was watching a show from the 1980's sitcom: Amen with Sherman Hemsley (from The Jeffersons), and the name of Scranton came up. The plot of the show featured the Deacon, Sherman H., trying to win a humanitarian award so he and his daughter could win the grand prize, a trip to the Holy Land. Sherman says to his daughter not to worry if they don't win the trip because, THERE'S ALWAYS SCRANTON!"

Amen aired Saturday nights at 9:30 PM on NBC from 1986 to 1991. Sherman Helmsley starred as Ernest Frye, the lawyer and scheming deacon of First Community Church of Philadelphia, who loses some semblance of control when the new minister, Rev. Reuben Gregory (Clifton Davis), had other ideas; every week, the two would have some sort of conflict over the runnings of the church. In addition, Frye's 30-year-old romantically frustrated daughter, Thelma (Anna Maria Horsford), developed a massive crush on the new pastor. The show also featured other great characters like sisters Amelia (Roz Ryan) and Casietta Hetebrink (Barbara Montgomery).

The Scranton reference appeared on the final episode (number 22) in the first (1986-87) season of Amen; titled "What's Up, Deacon?," it originally aired Saturday, April 22, 1987.

Thanks again to Don McKeon for another great Scranton reference. Keep 'em coming!

I also wanted to quickly add that I noticed that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Entertainment blog has passed 10,000 hits. Now I know that 10,000 hits over two years may seem a little low compared to daily hits for YouTube videos or visitors to Britney's website (heh heh); but honestly, when I began this blog, it was simply a labor of love for a movie fan who was fascinated how much the cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton (both pre- and post-Office) have permeated all aspects of entertainment and, quite frankly, I had no idea that other people would dig it as well.

So, to everyone who contributed to the blog, to everyone who has looked at it, and to everyone who told me (either in person or via email) how much they enjoy it, I just want to say THANK YOU!!!!!!!! You really made my day :-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Entertainment Weekly (November 30, 2007, Issue 966/967)

If you happen to catch a look at this week's Entertainment Weekly, be sure to check out pages 54-55. On a US map detailing the Most Entertaining Places of the Year, spot number 14 is:

14. Welcome to Scranton, Penn.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pennsylvania Native: Hollywood Star To Be Presented Sunday, December 2nd (UPDATED 11-28-07)

Albright Memorial Library presents:
Pennsylvania Native: Hollywood Star

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007
2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Albright Memorial Library - Director's Office
500 Vine Street
Scranton, PA 18509
(This program is handicapped accessible)

Dr. Moylan C. Mills will lead a discussion of Pennsylvania stars, their lives and careers, including M. Night Shyamalan, James Stewart, Richard Gere, and Grace Kelly among others.


Please call to register at (570) 348-3000 ext. 3043

UPDATE 11-28-07
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Woods by Harlan Coben (2007)

A few months ago, during the Reference Internships our department conducts every year for other librarians in our district, one of the attendees (and if you're reading this, PLEASE email me with your name so I can give credit where credit is due) told me about a recent bestseller, The Woods by Harlan Coben, that she read which references the city of Wilkes-Barre.

In The Woods, county prosecutor Paul Copeland of Essex, New Jersey is inadvertently tied to a murder investigation that he believes may be related to his sister's case--which has remained unsolved for over twenty years.

The reference occurs on page 373 of the novel, which relates the biography and career of Dr. Tara O'Neill, a pathologist:

"But during her years in Philadelphia, O'Neill had returned home every weekend. She eventually ran for coroner and made extra money working for a pathologist in Wilkes-Barre."

To place a hold on The Woods, click here.

For more information on The Woods (including video clips of author Harlan Coben discussing the novel), click here.

Again, I completely forget the name of the person who gave me this reference, but I know it was one of the following: Mary Jablonowski, Denise McManus, Justine Yeager, Meg Galenas, Mary Wickizer, Terri Collins, or Julie Pacheco. So THANK YOU!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

F***: A Documentary (2005)

While on vacation this past week, I finally got a chance to watch a documentary I purchased on DVD some months ago. I was intrigued by the title of the film---of which only one letter of the four-letter title can appear in my blog. The film is titled F***: A Documentary, and even more shocking than the number of times the f-word appears in the film (the word is said or printed over 800 times) was the fact that the city of Wilkes-Barre, PA made an appearance on an intertitle card.

Originally released to much critical acclaim at various film festivals in 2005, Steve Anderson's F***: A Documentary details the history of the use of the f-word in our culture--from music and films to politics and t-shirts. The documentary features an impressive roster of interviewees---including Sam Donaldson, Kevin Smith, Alanis Morissette, Drew Carey, Ron Jeremy, Miss Manners, and the late Hunter S. Thompson. The film also features animated sequences by Oscar-nominee Bill Plympton.

In a section of the film about cable television, the following title card appears:

HBO was launched in 1972 to 365 subscribers in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Today, HBO has over 38 million.

Back in September, blog fan Peter Metrinko also emailed me this fact; Peter also wrote that HBO (a unit of Time Warner) had primarily a sports focus when it first premiered.

For more information on the history of HBO and its commection to Wilkes-Barre, visit www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=7981

The DVD for F***: A Documentary is not available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System--and I doubt it will be in the immediate future. But it's definitely worth a look.

For more information on the documentary itself, visit www.fourletterfilm.com/ ; WARNING: Please note, however, that the site does use the entire uncensored title of the film.

Also, a big Thank You to Peter Metrinko for the information and the link about HBO.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties Ghosts, Legends & Lore (2007)

Just because Halloween is over doesn't mean you can't curl up in front of the fire with a nice, scary book---particularly if the ghosts in the true stories inhabit places in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and other familiar places in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties.

In the 25 books he wrote over a 35-year period, Charles J. Adams III has been researching and documenting ghosts and other paranormal events throughout the state of Pennsylvania (as well as Cape May, NJ and the Greenwich Village section of New York City). Adams has also made appearances as a ghost expert on television shows ranging from The History Channel's Haunted America to shows on The Travel Channel and MTV.

His recently published collection, Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties Ghosts, Legends, & Lore decribes both well- and little-known true stories of ghosts and other paranormal occurences in the local area. The Ghost tales inculded in the book detail hauntings in Scranton (The Everhart Museum; The Lackawanna County Courthouse; Car No. 46 at The Electric City Trolley Museum; Marywood University; Lake Winola), Wilkes-Barre (Kirby Hall at Wilkes University), Forty Fort (cemetery on Wyoming Avenue; Nathan Denison House) Hazleton (Key Theatre, now the Cinema & Drafthouse; Penn State Hazleton Campus) and much more. The Legends section includes information on Francis Slocum, The Witch of Black Creek Township, Blood Rock in Wyoming, and banshees in Archbald. Lore, the final section of the book, chronicles the the Carbondale UFO incident of 1974 and the Pyramid of Light in Olyphant.

A copy of Charles J. Adams III's Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties Ghosts, Legends & Lore is available to borrow from Valley Community Library. Also, a copy of the book will soon be available to browse in the Local History Collection of Albright Memorial Library.

To purchase a copy of the book from Exeter House Books, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Childrens Librarian Amy Buntz Wins Angela Lookalike Contest at The Office Convention

Congratulations to one of our own, Amy Buntz from the Lackawanna County Children's Library, for winning the Angela Lookalike contest at this past weekend's The Office Convention in Scranton.

Thanks to Amy Buntz for giving me her permission to post this awesome pic of her and The Office's Angela Kinsey in my blog.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Saturday Night Live: Season 25, Episode 6 (November 20, 1999)




The kickin' John F. Monahan from Wilkes-Barre -- who is also the Assistant Sports Information Director at Goucher College in Towson, MD -- sent me an email on Sunday about a 1999 episode of NBC's long-running Saturday Night Live (hosted by Friends star and Brangelina victim Jennifer Aniston):


"Hey:

I love your blog. There's a Saturday Night Live reference about Scranton that I think you've missed. It's from a Nov. 20, 1999 episode featuring Jennifer Aniston as a guest host. The skit is called 'Roberta's Thanksgiving.'

John from Wilkes-Barre"


"Roberta's Thanksgiving" was the final segment of the November 20th, 1999 episode of SNL hosted by Jennifer Aniston (whose long-running sitcom Friends included a Scranton reference in its first season) and (featuring Sting as that week's musical performer). It featured Aniston as Sarah, Cheri Oteri as Roberta and Ana Gasteyer as Mother. In the segment, a family (Aniston, Gasteyer & Darrell Hammond) are made uncomfortable during their Thanksgiving dinner when the father (Chris Parnell) is bullied into inviting a socially inept and annoying coworker (Oteri) to spend the holiday with them.

The segment below features the Scranton reference (from Cheri Oteri's Roberta):


Mother: Oh, that's so exciting! Our Sarah jetting off to Paris!

Roberta: Have ya ever been to Scranton?

Sarah: Nope.

Roberta: Don't count it out. The beauty of the skyline alone made me do a double take. (demonstrates) I stayed, I stayed at the airport Ramada.

Sarah: (sarcastic) Oooh, Ramada.

Roberta: It's funny, because they hadn't washed the sheets.

Sarah: I'm sorry, how was that funny?

Roberta: You didn't let me complete the tale. Apparently the previous guest shot himself in the head.


To read the transcript for Roberta's Thanksgiving, click here.

To read the transcript for the entire November 20th, 1999 episode, click here.

To view transcripts from every episode of every season on SNL from 1975 to the present, click here.

A great big ol' Thank You again to Mr. John F. Monahan of Wilkes-Barre for this fantastic Scranton reference.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Halfway to Scranton" by Kneebody (2005)

While browsing the Jazz CDs in the library collection, I unexpectedly came across a CD with a song titled "Halfway to Scranton." The song comes from the 2005 debut CD of the critically acclaimed group Kneebody.

Based in both New York and Los Angeles, Kneebody consists of five friends (Adam Benjamin, Shane Endsley, Karah Rastegar, Ben Wendel and Nate Wood) who share a love of music and improvisation, mixing genres such as jazz, hip-hop and rock to create a style and sound all their own.

After signing with the Green Leaf Music label in 2005, Kneebody released their debut self-titled CD to critical acclaim, some comparing their original style to Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. Track 9 on the instrumental CD is titled Halfway To Scranton. For six minutes and thirty-one seconds (the longest track on the CD), the track takes listeners on a musical journey that is sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and very unpredictable in its sound. Halfway to Scranton has a feel of a enjoyable roadtrip.

I emailed the band and asked them what inspired the use of Scranton in the title of the song. Trumpet player Shane Endsley, who wrote Halfway to Scranton, generously sent me the following reply (thanks, Shane, for permitting me to reproduce your response in the blog):

"Hi Bill,

I am the trumpet player in the band and "Halfway to Scranton" is my piece. It's titled after a romantic rendezvous with my then girlfriend, now wife and mother of our daughter. We both went to school at the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester NY but I graduated a year earlier than she. I had moved to NYC and Scranton was a 1/2 way point that we chose to meet one weekend.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Thanks for asking,

Shane"

Kneebody released their follow-up CD, Low Electric Worker, in April of 2007.

To place a hold on Kneebody's 2005 debut CD, which features Halfway to Scranton, click here.

To purchase a copy of Kneebody's 2005 debut CD, click here.

You can also purchase the MP3 track of Halfway to Scranton at Amazon.com, iTunes or Musicstem.

I can't recommend their CD highly enough!!!



Monday, October 01, 2007

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)


The eagle-eyed groovy gal Barb Williams from Memphis, Tennessee (who is becoming one of our regular contributors to the blog) recently sent me the following email:

"Bill,
I was just looking over the site to see if you had the Scranton reference in 'Atlas Shrugged' accounted for. I'm rereading it now to find it. I'm pretty sure it's in the last third of the book, so it may take me a while to get there. My best recollection is that it comes in a quote fom heroine Dagny Taggert saying something about how important it was to get coal moving from Scranton."

First published in 1957, the classic novel Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand's last work of fiction before concentrating her writings exclusively on philosophy and politics. It tells the story of a powerful railroad executive, Dagny Taggart, who struggles to keep her business alive while society is crumbling around her. According to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible.

Scranton is mentioned on page 836 (the book totals 1168 pages):

"Miss Taggart," said Eddie, in a resonant tone of severity, the tone of slapping the man into the manners of a drawing room he had never entered, "may I present Mr. Meigs?"
"How d' do," said the man without interest, then turned to Eddie and proceeded, as if she were not present: "You just take the Comet off the schedule for tomorrow and Tuesday, and shoot the engines to Arizona for the grapefruit special, with the rolling stock from the Scranton coal run I mentioned. Send the orders out at once."

A film version of Atlas Shrugged is in preproduction and is slated for release sometime in 2008, with Angelina Jolie currently in talks to play the role of Dagny Taggart. Only a year to wait and see if Scranton will be mentioned in passing in the film.

To place a hold on the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, click here.

Much thanks again to the incandescent Barb Williams for this Scranton reference. Keep 'em comin'!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rocky & Bullwinkle (1959-1973)


The eagle-eyed Bob Yannes emailed me this weekend about a Wilkes-Barre reference he remembers from the popular Rocky & Bullwinkle character Boris & Natasha.


If you were like me and spend most of your childhood morning watching Miss Judy on WNEP's Hatchy Milatchy, the cartoons that they showed (Rocky & Bullwinkle and Underdog, just to name two) were the highpoint of your day---especially the cliffhangers that never seems to get resolved, no matter how many days you watched.


Before reruns on shows like Hatchy Milatchy, the characters of Rocky & Bullwinkle first appeared on Rocky & His Friends, which ran from 1959 to 1960. A year later in the fall of 1961, the newly-titled The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (AKA The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) premiered and ran until 1973. Lots of other regular characters began to appear in both series, including the bubbling spies Boris and Natasha.


Bob Yannes told me of one direct reference to Wilkes-Barre in the original incarnation of the R&B series Rocky & His Friends when the character of Boris (voiced by Paul Frees) was assigned to the fictional town of Moosesylvania, which is someplace no one in their right mind would want to go (for details on Moosesylvania itself, click here). When he learns of his assignment, Boris begs his superior not to send him:


Boris: Send me to Siberia, send me to Wilkes-Barre, but NOT Moosesylvania!!!!!!!


I'm not sure if it's a compliment or not when one groups Siberia with Wilkes-Barre, but what can I say?



Mr. Yannes also wrote me told me that, in one of the episodes of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Boris & Natasha have the following exchange:



Natasha: Boooooris, I didn't know you went to college. Penn State?


Boris: No. State Pen.


Episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle are available on both DVD and VHS from libraries throughout Lackawanna County. To check our catalog, click here.

A GREAT BIG OL' THANK YOU again to Bob Yannes for this kickin' reference.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Twilight Zone: Episode 1.12 "What You Need" (December 25, 1959)




The brilliant Peter Metrinko from Chantilly, Virginia recently emailed me with a Scranton reference featured in an episode of the very first season of the classic CBS television series The Twilight Zone.

Narrated by Rod Sterling, The Twilight Zone focused on ordinary people who suddenly found themselves in extraordinary (sometimes supernatural) situations. The stories would typically end with an ironic twist that would see the guilty punished. It premiered on October 2, 1959 and ran for five seasons on CBS until 1964, running a total of 156 episodes (138 half-hour shows and 18 hour-long episodes). The final episode aired June 19, 1964.

On Christmas night, Friday, December 25th, 1959, an episode titled "What You Need," was first broadcasted. "What You Need," the 12th episode of the inaugural season, told the story of an old eccentric Pedott (Ernest Truex), who wanders the streets and in bars offering people "what they need," whether it be matches, shoelaces, scissors--he seems to have exactly the item he forsees a person will need in the immediate future. When a grifter (Steve Cochran) at the bar sees his clairvoyant powers firsthand, he starts manipulating Pedott for his own financial gain.

The Scranton reference occurs in an early scene at the bar where the skeptical conman Fred sees Pedott's accurate predictions firsthand. A bartender relates a story about one of the patrons sitting at the bar, a down-on-his-luck former baseball pitcher named "Lefty" whose professional career has ended with his pitching arm nonfunctioning and him drowning his depression in the bar every night:


Pedott: I know what it is you need. Right here. (takes a piece of paper from his basket and hands it to Lefty) Take it.

Lefty: Bus ticket?

Pedott: That's right. That's what it is. A bus ticket.

Lefty: Bus ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania. (laughs) Now what's in Scranton, Pennsylvania, old man?

Pedott: One never knows.

Bartender: (laughs) Coal mines. That's what's in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Nice, lovely, beautiful coal mines. You can't pitch with that arm anymore, Lefty. Maybe you can dig with it. (laughs)


Suddenly, Lefty is called to the pay phone. When he returns to the bar, the good news from the phone call is revealed.


Bartender: Dead rich uncle? Or did your horse come in?

Lucky: No. Crazy. Real crazy. Old manager of mine, been looking for me for three weeks. Got me a job. Coaching job. Minor league club in Scra... (looks at the ticket in his hand) Scranton, Pennsylvania. Wants me to take a bus there. He wants me to take a bus there, how 'bout that?


For a complete description of the episode "What You Need," click here.

Season One of The Twilight Zone is available on DVD. VHS copies with 4 classic episodes from the series on each tape, including the episode "What You Need," are available to borrow from Valley Community Library. To place a hold for the VHS ("What You Need" is the third episode on Volume 1 of the set), click here.

A GREAT BIG THANK YOU again to the incredible Peter Metrinko for this Scranton reference. I promise to post all the other Scranton references you included in your email to me as time permits.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bestselling Author Lauren Weisberger at The Scranton Cultural Center, Thursday, September 6, 2007

Blogger Bill C. with bestselling author (and Scranton native) Lauren Weisberger before her lecture Thursday night.
Photo by Mary Barna.
Bill C. and his brother JR with Lauren Weisberger.
Photo by Mary Barna


The extra-ultra-fantastic duo of Mary Garm and Mary Barna gave me the wonderful opportunity of meeting bestselling author and Scranton native Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing) before her lecture Thursday night. Lauren was incredibly sweet and posed for pictures with me and my brother JR.

Over 400 people were in attendance at last night's event. The lecture itself was a Q&A between Lauren and Library System Administrator Mary Garm. Through Mary's question, plus questions that were submitted in advance by email, Lauren shared her experiences as a writer living in New York City, her similarities to her characters, and her experiences growing up in Scranton. The lively talk was followed by questions from the audience.

After the lecture, Lauren signed copies of her book for over an hour and kindly posed for pictures.

For more pictures of last night's event, click here.

A big thanks again to the incredibly groovy Mary Garm and Mary Barna.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Office: Season Three Nifty Gifty Box Set (Only at Target)


UPDATED 9/16/07

Check out the packaging of "Nifty Gifty" edition of Season Three of The Office, sold exclusively at Target. Not only does the deluxe packaging include a script for the premiere episode of season three and a bonus Q&A DVD, but the packaging includes a quote (featured quite prominently) on the packaging that reads:

"The Office put Scranton on the map."--David Falchek, The Scranton Times-Tribune

The quote is also included on regular editions of the DVD for Season Three of The Office, but is displayed less prominently.

In addition, on the audio commentary of the episode "The Coup," Angela Kinsey says she "just got back from Scranton...it was WILD," referencing her trip to Scranton in May with Brian Baumgartner. Kinsey also mentions her trip to Scranton on the commentary of the episode "Women's Appreciation."

To place a hold for the DVD of Season Three of The Office, click here.

UPDATE 9/16/07 Also included with Target's "Nifty Gifty" edition of Season Three of The Office is a bonus disc featuring a 22-minute group interview with the cast and writers as part of The William S. Paley Television Festival 2007. The highlight is Rainn Wilson describing his experiences visiting Scranton and The Mall at Steamtown. He states that he was "driven through the city of Scranton in a stretch Hummer by the mayor." He also says that people are "so ga-ga in that city for that show." And regarding the crowds at The Mall at Steamtown there to see him, "I felt just like Justin Timberlake." In addition, he proudly states that he was made an honorary sheriff for the City of Scranton as well as an honorary security guard for The Mall at Steamtown.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Nanny Diaries (2007)


UPDATED 12-8-07

My dear friend and colleague Evelyn Gibbons showed me this week's Electric City and, in the movie section, a review for the recently released The Nanny Diaries. The first paragraph of the review is devoted to a reference to Scranton in the film.


The Nanny Diaries is based on the bestselling novel by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin and stars Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Paul Giamatti, and songstress Alicia Keys. The Nanny Diaries tells the story of Annie (Scarlett Johansson), a recent college grad living in New York City who gets a job as a nanny for snooty socialites Mr. & Mrs. X (Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney).


The Scranton reference is said to take place early in the film when a woman from New Jersey describes her ex-husband as taking up "in a double wide in Scranton." Not exactly a picturesque reference, but a Scranton reference nonetheless.

DVD copies of The Nanny Diaries are available from the Lackawanna County Library System; to place a hold, click here.


Thanks again to Evelyn Gibbons for the scoop.


UPDATED 12-8-07 I purchased a copy of The Nanny Diaries DVD this past week and thought it a pretty good flick (plus I'm a HUGE fan of Laura Linney and she was great as Mrs. X). The Scranton mention takes place within the first four minutes of the film, where the recent college grad Annie is having lunch with her mother, who presents Annie was a business suit as a graduation present:



Annie
Mom. Gosh. C'mon. It's one meeting at Goldman Saks. It's highly competitive. I'm probably not going to get the job.


Mom
All right. Stop with the negativity. Your father was always negative and look what it got him...a double-wide trailer in Scranton.


On a side note, when Annie first takes a train to NYC for her interview, she leaves from the Lackawanna RR (but from New Jersey).


Coincidentally, in a later scene, one of the characters is reading a copy of The Devil Wears Prada by Scranton native Lauren Weisberger.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Office Convention, October 26th-28th, 2007 in Scranton, PA; Seven Cast Members Confirmed (9/25/07)

UPDATED 9/25/07, 10/1/07, 10/3/07, 10/11/07 & 10/22/07
Click on the image above for more details. Also, for a sneek peak at some of the convention events, read this article from Electric City for some tasty morsels.

Don't miss The Office's one-hour season premiere
Thursday, September 27th at 9 PM on NBC


UPDATE 9/25/07 According to this morning's Citizens' Voice, seven cast members of The Office have been confirmed thus far to attend The Office Convention. They are: Kate Flannery (Meredith), Brian Baumgartner (Kevin--making his second appearance in Scranton this year), Creed Bratton (Creed), Mindy Kaling (Kelly), Phyllis Lapin (Phyllis), Leslie David Baker (Stanley) and Oscar Nunez (Oscar).

The article also states that ADDITIONAL cast members are also expected to attend; they will be announced in the next few days.


In addition, Al Roker from NBC's Today will be in Scranton Friday, October 26th, broadcasting LIVE from the University of Scranton.

UPDATE 10/1/07 It has been confirmed that Angela Kinsey (Angela) will be returning to Scranton to attend the convention. Also attending will be Bobby Ray Shafer (Bob Vance - Vance Refrigeration).

UPDATED 10/3/07 It has been confirmed that Melora Hardin (Jan) will also be attending the Office Convention! Also attending will be Andy Buckley (David Wallace from Corporate).

UPDATED 10/11/07 Paul Lieberstein (Toby) and Craig Robinson (Darryl from the warehouse) will be attending The Office Convention. In addition, Executive producer Greg Daniels will also be coming to Scranton!

UPDATED 10/22/07 Ed Helms (Andy) will be attending!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Mod Squad (1968-1973)

Barb Williams from Memphis, Tennessee emailed me this past week with the following Scranton reference:

"Can't provide anything to substantiate this, but I recall an episode of The Mod Squad where Capt. Adam Greer (Tige Andrews) says he is for Scranton."

The Mod Squad was a popular TV series about three young, hip, crime fighters who were offered work fighting crime as an alternative to being incarcerated themselves. It ran for five seasons on ABC.

The Scranton reference appeared in the show's third season in Episode #84, The Poisoned Mind, which originally aired November 2, 1971. In the episode, Capt. Adam Greer takes time off from the force to recover from depression after shooting a young man during a robbery. In this episode, Greer mentions for the first time that he is from Scranton.

Thanks again to Barb Williams for this reference.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Reunion In France (1942)

UPDATED 8/29/07


Don McKeon from Scranton, who has submitted several wonderful local references in entertainment to this blog, emailed me on Saturday to tell me about a classic film in which not one, but two silver screen legends say Wilkes-Barre in their dialogue.

MGM's 1942 wartime melodrama Reunion in France stars Joan Crawford and John Wayne. It was produced by Wilkes-Barre native Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who added references to Wilkes-Barre to almost every film he was a part of---from A Letter To Three Wives to All About Eve.

Crawford portrays Michele de la Becque, a born-into-wealth Frenchwoman who could care less about the impending German invasion of Paris. After vacationing in the South of France, Michele returns home to discover Paris (and even her own home) has been occupied by the Nazis. Witnessing the Nazi occupation firsthand and upon discovering her fiance, a French manufacturer, has sold out to the Germans, Michele becomes a true French patriot and opponent of the Nazis.

One evening, Michele encounters downed American flyer Patrick Talbot (John Wayne) and decides to let him hide in her apartment as she attempts to get him safely out of the country.

In one scene, about 46 minutes into the film, Patrick and Michele are sitting in her apartment as an exhausted Patrick lays on Michele's bed:


Michele: When did you eat last?

Patrick: Eat? A couple of years ago in Wilkes-Barre. Leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, apple pie, three cups of coffee. Ever been to Wilkes-Barre?

Michele: Wilkes-Barre?

Patrick: Pennsylvania. Ever see the Susquehanna? Ever see Pittsburgh play Carnegie Tech? (gets up to leave) I'll get out in just a minute.

Michele: No, I think you better try to get some sleep.

Patrick: (dozing off) I don't need to try. Lady, here I go again.

After Patrick falls asleep, Michele examines his tag (which she finds hidden in the soul of his shoe) and reads it aloud: "RAF, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania."



In the next scene, Michele and Patrick are having breakfast in her apartment:

Patrick: I told you all there is to tell.

Michele: Except for one detail. How did you get from Wilkes-Barre to the RAF?


A few scenes later, before they share their first kiss, Patrick says to Michele:



Patrick: Imagine what your eyes will do to Wilkes-Barre.


Later, when the Nazis are catching onto Patrick, a screen shot compares his U.S. military ID with his fake French student ID. The screen reads:



Name: Lieutenant Patrick Talbot
American Eagle Eagle Squadron, R.A.F.
Nationality: American
Address: Wilkes-Barre, Penn., USA


Patrick's final reference to Wilkes-Barre appears nears the poignant conclusion of the film:

Patrick: (to Michele) London isn't as far from Wilkes-Barre as...Lisbon.


In 1942, the public reaction to the then-topical Reunion in France was mostly negative--critics trashed the film and audiences ignored it.

Although I had Reunion in France on VHS a long time ago (and kept it in my collection for several years), I had never seen the film. Jim O'Neil, a colleague of mine who works in the Readers Service Department at Albright Memorial Library, asked me a few months ago if I had seen the film; when I told him no, he told me the film was atrocious and hysterically overdone and must be seen to be believed.

However, I borrowed the library's recently acquired DVD of Reunion in France and really liked it. I thought Crawford and Wayne both gave solid performances and had great onscreen chemistry.

Joan Crawford would make only one more film, 1943's Above Suspicion, before ending her longstanding MGM contract and signing with Warner Bros. Three years later, she won her first and only Oscar for 1945's Mildred Pierce; she continued starring in films (including Sudden Fear, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Straight Jacket) and appearing on television until her death in 1977. However, after the publication of her adopted daughter Christina's scathing memoir Mommie Dearest in 1978, Joan's image became forever blemished with accusations of child abuse and, of course, with this memorable line.

John Wayne became a huge box office draw in Westerns such as Red River, The Searchers, and 1969's True Grit, for which he won an Oscar for Best Actor. He passed away from stomach cancer in 1979.

Reunion in France has recently been released on DVD, and a copy is now available to borrow from Albright Memorial Library. To place a hold on Reunion in France, click here.

Much thanks again to Don McKeon of Scranton. Keep em' comin'!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

FREE Tickets Now Available for 'Devil Wears Prada' Author Lauren Weisberger - September 6th


FREE tickets for bestselling author and Scranton native Lauren Weisberger's upcoming lecture (Thursday, September 6th at 7 PM at Scranton Cultural Center) are now available at Albright Memorial Library and other locations throughout Scranton. For more information, click here.

Photo of Lauren Weisberger courtesy of press page on Miss Weisberger's official web site.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

'Mama' Cass Elliot (1941-1974)




While assisting a library patron today, who was looking for a football article from our microfilm of the Scranton Times on November 1, 1970, suddenly appearing on the screen was an article titled "Mama of Momma Cass Ex-Scranton Resident." Who knew that this larger-than- life vocalist of the legendary 60s group The Mamas and the Papas (and a gifted solo artist in her own right) had a connection to the Scranton area?

According to the Sunday Scranton Times article "Mama of Momma Cass Ex-Scranton Resident," written by Sid Benjamin (11/1/1970, pages B10 and B11), Cass Elliot's (AKA Mama Cass's) mother Bess Owen and grandmother Ida Benewitz were both originally from the Scranton area.

When the article was written nearly 37 years ago, Bess Owen was residing in Wilkes-Barre and beaming with pride at her daughter's triumphant October 24th appearance on the Andy Williams Show. Bess was then in Wilkes-Barre on temporary assignment by the U.S. Social Security Administration to help in the processing of the overwhelming number of "black lung" applications.

Also in the article, Cass's mother Bess Owen recalled her childhood living in Scranton with her father, Joseph Levine, who operated a tailor shop on Adams Avenue, and her mother Ida Benewitz .

In addition, the family also lived in Edwardsville, PA for a time, where Bess was a classmate of Scranton business and civic leader Vivian Edwards at Wyoming Seminary.

'Mama' Cass Elliot was born Ellen Naomi Cohen on September 19, 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland (where the Cohen family moved from Edwardsville, PA) and, as far as I know, has never lived in the Scranton area. Her singing career began as a member of the folk music group The Big 3, then exploded as a member of The Mamas and The Papas (California Dreamin'; Monday, Monday; I Saw Her Again Last Night; Creeque Alley; and Dream A Little Dream of Me--which served as a springboard for Elliot's solo career). As a member of the Mamas and the Papas, Cass also was instrumental in organizing 1967's legendary Monteray Pop Festival in San Francisco, CA.

After the group disbanded in 1968, Cass Elliot (she hated being called Mama Cass) embarked on a successful solo career with such hits as It's Getting Better, California Earthquake, and Make Your Own Kind of Music. She also hosted two of her own prime time television specials (1969's The Mama Cass Television Program and 1973's Don't Call Me Mama Anymore--which featured an appearance by her mother Bess); Cass also made numerous guest appearances on talk shows (she even guest hosted The Tonight Show for Johnny Carson) and variety shows in the early 1970s. Additionally, Cass had a featured role as Witch Hazel in the 1970 film Pufnstuf and played an "animated" version of herself (as a candy factory owner) in a memorable episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies (October 20, 1973).

Cass Elliot tragically died of a heart attack in London on July 29, 1974, following a two week engagement of sold out concerts at the London Palladium. She was only 33 years old. Unfortunately, to this day, there is a persistant (and false) story that Cass Elliot died choking on a ham sandwich, which her autopsy proved was an incorrect assumption.

An excellent biography of Cass Elliot titled Dream A Little Dream of Me: The Life of Cass Elliot, written by Eddi Fiegel, was published in 2005.

Several CDs by the Mamas and the Papas, Cass's solo anthology Dream A Little Dream: The Cass Elliot Collection (which was produced by her daughter Owen) as well as DVDs of The Complete Monteray Pop Festival and the documentary California Dreamin': The Songs of the Mamas and the Papas, are available to borrow from several libraries throughout the Lackawanna County Library System. In addition, our library also has the soundtrack to the film Beautiful Thing, which is comprised completely of Cass Elliot's solo hits and songs from the Mamas and the Papas (her solo songs play an intregal part to the film).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"A Message from Simon" by Joseph M. Allison

The exquisite Anna Kilcullen, Young Adult Librarian from the Readers Service Department at Albright Memorial Library told me today about a book published last year that is set in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Joseph M. Allison's 2006 novel A Message from Simon is a mystery novel primarily set in Scranton, PA. Below is a description of the book taken from its item page at Amazon.com:

"The senseless, brutal murder of a homeless man in a small northeastern Pennsylvania city starts a chain of disturbing events. A local newspaper reporter sent to cover the story encounters an odd assortment of mourners at the funeral. One of the mourners, a man named Simon, discloses a message to the journalist along with cryptic references to passages in the Bible. Frank Martinelli, a reporter for the Scranton Sun, follows his instincts through a maze of peculiar occurrences and vague allusions to reach a disturbing conclusion to the strange riddle. A series of unexpected events and personal interpretations lead him to conclude that a cataclysmic occurrence will soon befall mankind. Pursuit of the solution to the enigma takes Martinelli and three unlikely friends, an astrophysicist, a Roman Catholic priest and an editorial writer, from the streets of Scranton to New York City where unforseen incidents change their lives forever. "

Author Joseph M. Allison is a Scranton native, graduating from University of Scranton in 1976 and Marywood University in 1978. He currently resides in Scranton with his family.

A Message From Simon is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System; click here to reserve the book.

Much thanks again to Anna K. for this reference.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mame (1974)

Okay, so this is not exactly an on-the-point Scranton or Wilkes-Barre reference, but I think it's close enough (only about an hour's drive and/or a 48 mile distance, to be more precise). Plus it was such a surprise to me when my brother JR told me about it.

In 1974, television legend Lucille Ball was cast in the film version of the 1966 musical Mame. The original Broadway production had starred legendary actresses Angela Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur and ran for nearly 4 years.

Originated in Patrick Dennis's biography of his aunt (Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade in Biography), and based on the 1958 non-musical film starring Rosiland Russell, Mame is the story of Mame Dennis, a carefree and wealthy New York City eccentric who is hit with two sudden surprises in her life - the sudden arrival of her nephew Patrick to live with her (Mame is his only surviving relative) and the stock market crash of 1929. However, Mame pushes on -- she raises her nephew through adulthood as if he were her own child, causes hijinks with her alcoholic actress friend Vera Charles (Bea Arthur), and finds love again with a wealthy Southerner.

The score of Mame included songs by reknown Broadway composer Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly! and La Cage Aux Folles) that would soon become standards - songs such as We Need A Little Christmas, The Man in the Moon is A Lady, Bosom Buddies, and the title number.

Both the original Broadway production and the film version of Mame were directed by Gene Saks, Bea Arthur's husband at the time. Many of the cast members from the original Broadway production reprised their role in the film version of Mame.

Late in the film, Mame is having tea in her mansion with her now-grown nephew Patrick (played by Bruce Davison - who would later be nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1991's Longtime Companion) and his snobby bride-to-be Gloria. The following dialogue concerns Patrick's former governess Agnes Gooch (played by Jane Connell, who originated the role on Broadway) - Mame had previously encouraged Agnes to be wild and free like herself.


Mame: Would you excuse me for a moment?

Patrick: Where's she been?

Mame: Who knows? I've only had one postcard from her in six months, and that was from the Shangri La Motel in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.


For some reason, Lucy really emphasises East Stroudsburg in her delivery.

Budgeted at 12,000,000 (an astronomical amount of money for 1974), the lavish musical was not a financial success at the box office; but Mame has through the years become a campy classic, thanks in part of Lucille Ball's great performance as Mame.

Having never seen the Broadway production, I am not sure if the East Stoudsburg reference was in the original show or added to the film's screenplay. If anyone knows the answer, please email me at refdept@albright.org

Much thanks again to JR for this reference.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Frankie Valli (1934 - )



Legendary singer Frankie Valli was profiled in the Scranton Times/Tribune in a article titled "Jersey Boy Done Good," published in the June 26, 2007 (Section C, p. C1; C3) .

According to the article and interview, Frankie Valli (born Francis Castelluccio on May 3, 1934 in Newark, NJ) spent most of his childhood summers in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, where his mother Mary was born and raised before moving with her husband to Newark. He recalled with fondness of taking the train from Newark to Scranton to spend his Christmas vacations with his extended family back in Dunmore. He calls his time he spent at his mother's house on Oak Street in Dumore as "some of the best times of my life."

Valli first gained fame as the lead singer of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; their numerous hit songs (starting in 1962) include Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Rag Doll, Let's Hang On, Dawn, Big Girls Don't Cry, December 1963 (Oh What A Night) . The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Valli's so hits include My Eyes Adored You, Can't Take My Eyes Off You and the title track of 1978's classic movie musical Grease.

In addtion to currently touring with the Four Seasons, Valli's music can be heard eight performances a week in the smash Tony-winning Broadway musical Jersey Boys, which dramatizes the beginnings of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Since opening night on November 6, 2005, Jersey Boys has been playing to capacity audiences at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City and remains one of the hottest tickets on Broadway.

Several CDs featuring the music of Frankie Valli -- including 20 Greatest Hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, My Eyes Adored You and Other Hits, and the soundtracks to 1978's Grease and Jersey Boys -- are available to borrow in many libraries throughout the Lackawanna County Library System.

To read the full article "Jersey Boy Done Good," from the Scranton Times/Tribune, click here.

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker (1988) Video









Stills from Anita Baker's 1988 video for her hit song "Giving You the Best That I Got."
The video was filmed at the 109th Field Artillery (AKA Kingston Armory)
in Kingston, PA.
Video stills courtesy of vh1.com

In late summer/early fall 1988, R&B vocalist and multiple Grammy winner Anita Baker made a secret trip to Wilkes-Barre, PA. She found the ideal setting to shoot the video for her first single for her upcoming LP--the title track for her album "Giving You the Best That I Got." The video was filmed in sepia tone in the huge vacant space of the 109th Field Artillery (AKA Kingston Armory) at 280 Market Street in Kingston, PA.

A few days after completing the video, an article appeared in either the Citizens Voice or the Times Leader that detailed the video shoot--if anyone has any idea of the date and paper this article appeared, please email me at refdept@albright.org

Giving You the Best That I Got became the biggest hit of Anita Baker's long and impressive career, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Top 100 and #1 on Billboard's R&B singles chart.