Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Mama (2008)


My colleague Michele L. was soooooooo excited coming to work tonight because she was anxious to tell me that she saw the movie Baby Mama this weekend and it included a reference to Scranton.

Baby Mama tells the story of Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey), a single and successful businesswoman who badly wants to be a mother. When she discovers she's infertile, Kate hires trashy Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler) to be her surrogate, whose crazy antics turns her life upside down.

About halfway through the movie, Kate and Angie are discussing their past relationships. Angie mentions her relationship with a guy before she met her current husband Carl. The previous boyfriend dumped Angie to attend the University of Scranton.

Michele L. told me the audience collectively gasped at that line of dialogue.

Thanks again to Michele L. for this reference.

UPDATE: Baby Mama is now available on DVD. To place a hold, click here.

UPDATE SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2008: I bought Baby Mama on Blu-Ray this past week and absolutely loved it. Below is the exact Scranton reference in the film, which takes place as Kate (Tina Fey) and Angie (Amy Poehler) are walking and eating ice cream after Lamaze class:

I had one good boyfriend before Carl.


Uh huh. Donny Landis. We used to work at Blimpie together when we were sixteen. We'd sit and eat pickles in the back. He waited a whole month before he touched my boobs. Then he went to the University of Scranton and I never saw him again. He was my Justin Timberlake.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Charm! A Novel by Kendall Hart (2008)

This particular surprise reference was a find of my mother's, Mary C. Mary is a life-long fan of the ABC soaps, particularly All My Children. Mary is also new to the internet and has proudly placed her second order from this past week. Her selection, you ask? A novel written by a fictitious character on All My Children which has crossed over into a general release for soap fans. When the novel, Charm! by Kendall Hart (Erica Kane's illegitimate daughter on the show, originated by Buffy the Vampire Player star Sarah Michelle Gellar and now played by Alisha Minshew), arrived in the mail yesterday, I glanced through it out of curiosity. Randomly opening to page 25, I was quite surprised to see the words Wilkes-Barre. Exploring further, I happily discovered that Wilkes-Barre appears a total of 12 times (on eleven pages) in the novel.

Charm! tells the story of Avery Wilkins, a young Wilkes-Barre native who moves to New York City in the hopes of creating her own perfume line, chasing her dreams while running away from her past:

p. 15
"'It's perfect---elegant yet modern. You're a class act, kid,' Justin said.
A class act. Avery loved hearing those words. In that dingy little house at 9 Mayflower Street in Wilkes-Barre, taste, tact, and black cocktail dresses were in short supply."

p. 25
"Her mother suffered from alcohol-related Alzheimer's disease, lived in a group home in Wilkes-Barre, and was incapable of using a telephone."

p. 41 (Avery is asked to tell her boyfriend Brad about her childhood)
"'Oh, my childhood was pretty uneventful. Middle-class, Wilkes-Barre, PA, usual milestones: ice skating, braces, boys.' There were no ice skates, no braces, no boys."

p. 63 (Avery meets her long-lost sister Lucy)
"She has a famous mother and a sister who went to private schools. She was more than just a girl from the wrong side of the tracks in Wilkes-Barre."

p. 67
"'Where did you grow up? Any siblings?'
'I grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania...very middle-class, ordinary, no siblings.'"

p. 94 (with her boyfriend Brad at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris)
"It was all so lovely and romantic, but Avery felt out of place, as if a mistake had been made and someone was going to knock on the door and tell her the girls from Wilkes-Barre weren't welcome at the Crillon."

p. 122 (meeting Lucy's mother)
"'I'm serious. I want your answer to that question. if I was just some housewife living in Wilkes-Barre, would you have bothered?'"

p. 179
"She reached the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre...As a child, Avery couldn't wait to get out of Wilkes-Barre, but today she was glad to be back."

p. 183 (visiting her mother at the Rhinehart Home)
"But like all of Wilkes-Barre, it had seen better days."

p. 186 (talking to her mother)
"'And that day you told me to get out of Wilkes-Barre. Do you remember that day?'"

p. 215 (Avery wants to move her mother closer to NYC)
"Avery stood on the lovely landscaped lawn, took out her cell phone, and called the Rhinehart Home in Wilkes-Barre."

Charm! by Kendall Hart is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Click here to place a reserve; click here to place a reserve on the Large Print Edition.

Much thanks to my mom Mary C. for this reference.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wet Hot American Summer (2002)

Me with four-time Emmy Winner (for his role as Niles on Frasier) and the 2007 Tony Winner for Best Actor in a Musical David Hyde Pierce after a performance of Curtains in New York City this past Saturday (April 19th, 2008). Pierce also starred in 2001's Wet Hot American Summer, which was filmed on location at Camp Towanda in Honesdale, PA.

In May and June of 2000, Hollywood came to Honesdale, PA, where an impressive cast set up camp (no pun intended) at Camp Towanda to film the comedy Wet Hot American Summer.

The film stars David Hyde Pierce (4x Emmy Winner for his role as Niles on Frasier, and a 2007 Tony Winner for Curtains), Janeane Garofalo (Reality Bites, The Truth About Cats & Dogs), Saturday Night Live alums Molly Shannon and Amy Poehler (from the upcoming comedy Baby Mama), Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit), Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper--who, in 2006, starred together with Julia Roberts in Broadway's Three Days of Rain, which featured set designs by Wilkes-Barre native Santo Loquasto.

Wet Hot American Summer is set on the last day of Camp Firewood's 1981 season. It follows a group of counselors who are each trying to complete their unfinished business before the day ends, and it's everyone's last chance for romance, self-realization, and of course the Big Talent show.

Wet Hot American Summer was first shown at 4 sold-out screenings at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. After playing at various film festivals throughout the US, the film was released theatrically on July 27, 2001. The film was also a hit on the midnight movie circuit in 2003 and 2004.

Click here to reserve the DVD of Wet Hot American Summer,

Monday, April 21, 2008

IM Me from the Scranton/W-B in Entertainment Blog

I recently added Meebo to the blog. This will allow anyone who logs on and checks out the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Entertainment blog to IM me right from this blog---feel free to let me know about a Wilkes-Barre or Scranton reference I missed, or tell me about your own connection to the area, or to just say hi.

If it says splrefdept is online, I'm here. If it says splrefdept is offline, you can also leave a message.

The Meebo IM chat box in on the left hand side of the blog, right underneath the archives.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lady of Burlesque (1943)


I am a HUGE fan of Barbara Stanwyck. Her performances throughout her incredible career in classic films from the Golden Age of Hollywood are unforgettable--from the self-sacrificing mother in 1937's Stella Dallas, to the femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson in the film noir Double Indemnity, to the petty thief Lee Leander who finds love on her way en route "to Scranton or Pittsburgh" in 1940's Remember The Night, to her notorious performance as a backstreet girl who literally sleeps her way to the top of a New York City bank (floor-by-floor) with zero remorse in 1933's Baby Face (the catalyst that most critics agree was the film that was single-handedly responsible for the creation of 1934's Production Code). I was surprised by the Scranton reference (by another actor) in Remember the Night, but I was was absolutely shocked (and embarrassingly giddy) to hear Barbara Stanwyck herself say the words "Wilkes-Barre" in the 1943 classic tale of strippers and murder, Lady of Burlesque.

Based on the novel The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee, and directed by William A. Wellman (who also directed Stanwyck in 1931's pre-Code shocker Night Nurse; he also directed 1927's Wings, the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture), Lady of Burlesque tells the story of The Old Opera House, a 1920s era theater transformed into a successful house of burlesque (and a target of the fuzz). Amidst the bum comics and cheap strippers that work at The Old Opera House is Dixie Daisy (Barbara Stanwyck), the reigning queen of burlesque. However, life takes a turn for the worst as strippers start turning up dead, strangled by their own G-strings.

Eleven minutes into the film, an unnamed burlesque dancer enters the shared dressing room of the strippers and complains of the bathroom facilities at The Old Opera House:

That settles it! We GOTTA have a new one!

New what?

(gestures towards the off-stage ladies' room)

Oh, the museum piece. I haven't seen one like that
since the Wilkes-Barre Regal.

The Lackawanna County Library System does not presently include Lady of Burlesque in our collection; even more unfortunate is the fact that Lady of Burlesque is a film in the public domain, meaning that inferior and unremastered copies of the film are widely available on a number of DVD releasing companies (for as little as $4.98); to purchase a copy from, click here. Hopefully, the film will be available sometime in the future from MyLibraryDV, an awesome library service that includes other public doman films for free online viewing.

But you can still catch some essential Barbara Stanwyck in a number of films on DVD circulating throughout the Lackawanna County Library System--click on any title to place a hold on Double Indemnity, Stella Dallas, Sorry Wrong Number, or the "so-notorious-it-has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed" Baby Face (part of the excellent pre-Code collection Forbidden Hollywood).

UPDATED NOVEMBER 13, 2008 - Because it is in the public domain, the entire film of Lady of Burlesque is available online at YouTube. At the two-minute mark in the clip below, you will find the Wilkes-Barre reference made by Barbara Stanwyck in the film.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Entertainment Weekly (April 11, 2008, Issue #986)

If you happen to catch a glimpse at this week's Entertainment Weekly (the one with Ellen DeGeneres on the cover) check out the cover story, The Ultimate TV Trivia Quiz. Jump to question number 12:

12. Kevin from The Office's Police tribute band is called...

a. King of Penn(sylvania)
b. Scrantonicity
c. Pennyatta Mondatta
d. Roxanne Roll

To take the full EW quiz online, click here; to jump right to the Scrantonicity question, click here.

Don't forget The Office returns with brand new, post-strike episodes THIS THURSDAY, April 10th at 9 PM.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Marion Lorne, Actress (1883-1968)

West Pittston native Marion Lorne appears as Aunt Clara opposite Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York in an episode of the classic 1960s sitcom Bewitched. Lorne won a posthumous Emmy Award for her role 10 days after her death in 1968.
She was a gifted and lovable star of the Broadway stage, the "brand new box" called television, and the silver screen. She was directed by Hitchcock in her film debut. She was the aunt of a loveable witch on one of TV's best-loved sitcoms. And to top it all off, she was a friend of that infamous cougar Mrs. Robinson in a film classic. She is Marion Lorne and she's a native of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.

Marion Lorne MacDougall was born in West Pittston on August 12, 1883.

After studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, she made her Broadway debut as Marion Lorne in 1905's Mrs. Temple's Telegram. She appeared in many other plays in the early days of Broadway.

She married playwright Walter Hackett (Captain Applejack; The White Sister) and moved to London, where they founded the Whitehall Theater. Following Hackett's death in 1944, she returned to the US and starred as Vera in the original Broadway production of Harvey.

Lorne's film debut came at the young age of 68 in 1951's Strangers On A Train, directed by legendary Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock; her character was Mrs. Anthony. Following the film's success, she turned to television in the recurring role as the lovable-but-hopelessly-confused Mrs. Gurney on the sitcom Mister Peepers from 1952 to 1953. She also appeared in the 1955 Rosiland Russell vehicle The Girl Rush, also starring Fernando Lamas.

Follwoing a number of guest appearances on various television shows, Lorne was cast as the doorknob-obsessed, lovable witch Aunt Clara on the wildly popular 1960s sitcom Bewitched, co-starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. The show was a phenomenal success and helped Lorne reach a whole new audience.

In 1967, Lorne appeared as Miss Dewitte, a friend and party guest of Mrs. Robinson's in Mike Nichols's 1967 film debut The Graduate, starring Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman. The film was a huge hit and ushered in the "film school generation" of directors.

Sadly, during the fourth season of Bewitched, Marion Lorne suffered a heart attack and passed away in New York City on May 9, 1968 . She was 84 years old. Ten days after her death, Lorne was posthumously awarded the Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role on Bewitched--her friend and colleague Elizabeth Montgomery accected the award for the late actress.

Several items featuring Marion Lorne are available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System--including the first 3 seasons of Bewitched, the VHS or DVD of The Graduate, and the VHS or DVD of Strangers on a Train. Click on any of these links to place a reserve.

Much thanks to the savvy Michele L. for this reference. And thanks to Erin from Childrens for the correction :-) I originally incorrectly identified Elizabeth Montgomery as Barbara Montgomery :-(

Monday, April 07, 2008

Allan Jones, Actor and Singer (1907-1992)

John Fortuna, one of our library's patrons and a true movie aficionado of the lives of movie stars, recently inquired about an actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood named Allan Jones. To my surprise, I discovered that Allan Jones was not only a prolific actor and tenor, but he was also an Old Forge and Scranton native.

Allan Jones was born Ocotber 14, 1907 in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, the son of a coal miner. He grew up in Scranton, PA.

After moving to Hollywood in the 1930s, Jones starred in several Hollywood films now regarded as classics. His credits include the Marx Brothers comedies A Night at the Opera in 1935 (as Ricardo, he was the tenor in the performance of Il Trovatore which was the film's centerpeice opera referred to in the title) and 1937's A Day at the Races (where he played a race horse owner); 1937's The Firefly with Jeanette MacDonald (which introduced his tremendously popular rendition of the song Donkey Serenade); and 1940's The Boy From Syracuse with Martha Raye and Irene Hervey (who was his wife from 1936 to 1957).

Perhaps Jones's best and well-known performance was as gambler Gaylord Ravenal opposite Irene Dunne in the 1936 musical film Show Boat. In 1942 he co-starred with Scranton native Gloria Jean in When Johnny Comes Marching Home.

Jones continued to act and sing in films until 1970.

His son Jack Jones was also a popular singer in the 1960's, whose hits included Friends & Lovers.

Jones died of lung cancer in New York City on June 30, 1992.

Several films featuring Allan Jones are circulating throughout the Lackawanna County Library System: reserves may be placed on the VHS or DVD of A Day at the Races; the DVD of A Night at the Opera; and The Marx Brother Collection (featuring both A Day at the Races and A Night at the Opera) on DVD.

The Reference Department also includes Local History Newspaper Clippings Files on both Allan Jones and his son Jack Jones.

Thanks again to John Fortuna for this reference.