Tag Archives: writer

Garry Marshall dies at 81

Director, producer and writer Garry Marshall, who was responsible for creating sitcom hits such as “The Odd Couple,” “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” and directed hit movies “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” died on July 19.

He was 81.

Marshall died at 5 p.m. local time in Burbank, California, from complications of pneumonia after a stroke, his representative Michelle Bega told USA Today.

“The Odd Couple,” a hit sitcom created and produced by Marshall, began a five-year run on ABC in 1970. The show, starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, received Emmy nominations and wins for the comedy series based on Neil Simon’s play about two divorced men with different lifestyles who are forced to share an apartment.

Marshall’s “Happy Days” debuted as a television series on ABC in 1974, starting a 10-year run that saw Henry Winkler’s “the Fonz” become what Variety described as a cultural touchstone.

“Garry Marshall Rest In Peace. Thank you for my professional life. Thank you for your loyalty, friendship and generosity,” Winkler said on Twitter.

Marshall was the older brother of Penny Marshall, who played the unrefined but lovable Laverne DeFazio on “Laverne & Shirley,” a “Happy Days” sequel he co-created that ran on the ABC network from 1976 to 1983. It followed the lives of two single women and their nutty friends in 1950s and ’60s Milwaukee.

He also directed “Pretty Woman,” a big screen blockbuster in 1990 starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere that grossed $463 million worldwide. Roberts earned an Oscar nomination for best actress and the film was nominated for a Golden Globe for best comedy/musical.

“The Princess Diaries,” “Beaches” and “The Flamingo Kid,” were among other popular films Marshall had a hand in putting on the big screen.

2016-07-20T044504Z_1_LYNXNPEC6J07M_RTROPTP_3_PEOPLE-GARRYMARSHALL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ZXjY5rTHg

Man of letters: Fans leave notes at Kerouac’s former home

Letters pile up outside the vacant corner house on 10th Avenue North at 52nd Street South in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Some are folded neatly into envelopes and sent through the Post Office to jam the mailbox to overflowing.

Others are written on crinkled scrap paper, hand delivered and stuffed inside the front screen door.

Jack Kerouac, once the home’s owner, died at a St. Petersburg hospital in 1969, but you wouldn’t know it from the correspondence he receives from grateful fans of his novel “On The Road” and other works.

“You remind me to stay true to who you are and to nurture the wanderlust gene in all of us,” reads one letter, handwritten by “Cindy” on stationery adorned with colorful butterflies and flowers. “I hope you’re writing, unrestrained, with a shot & a beer.”

A nonprofit group wants to create a Kerouac museum from the 1,700-square-foot, one-story house, built in 1963 and valued today at about $190,000. But John Sampas, Kerouac’s brother-in-law and executor of his estate, told the Tribune last week he has changed his mind and doesn’t want to sell.

Meanwhile, the letters keep pouring in.

“It’s become a cosmic mailbox that can reach the heavens,” said Pat Barmore of St. Petersburg, president of the Friends of the Jack Kerouac House, which took care of the house until a property manager was hired a year ago.

Tour buses also park out front so sightseers can try peering through the curtains inside, Barmore said.

Margaret Murray, secretary of the friends group, said she rarely drives by without seeing fans in the yard or parked across the street, catching a glimpse of where their hero lived.

“Drive by tomorrow and you’ll likely see someone staring at it,” she said. “Visit a few days after the current stack of letters are taken away, and there will be new ones.”

With permission from executor Sampas, the Tribune read a handful of the notes recently left inside the screen door.

“Cynthia” of Texas put her thoughts on yellow Post-it notes. She said she not yet read “On The Road” but plans to as soon as she returns home from her Florida vacation.

“I feel blessed to have been able to drink your favorite drink at your favorite bar ‘Flamingo,”” she wrote, speaking of The Flamingo Sports Bar at 1230 Ninth St. N., St. Petersburg, where Kerouac spent time during a stint in the area that stretched from 1964 to his death on October 21, 1969, at the age of 47.

His favorite drink, according to the Flamingo, was a shot of a whiskey with a beer wash.

“I hope you are writing in peace wherever you are!” Cythia added.

Another letter written on a small piece of lined, white paper is signed “Friend of Jack” and says, “I prefer to think of myself as a free spirit and a person who follows a path of her own choosing. You have always been my inspiration.”

It’s a common theme, Barmore said — appreciative fans making a pilgimage to a site associated with their idols.

One prominent example, Murray noted, is the burial place in Paris of “Doors” frontman Jim Morrison.

Throngs of tourists surround Morrison’s grave. Gifts are left. Some people scribble on the tombstone.

“I think people still reach out to Jack Kerouac out of a desire to connect with something bigger than themselves,” said Kristy Anderson, a filmmaker producing a documentary on Kerouac’s life in Florida. “He has touched the lives of many and will continue to.”

Kerouac’s longtime friend, musician David Amram, said he believes the late author would appreciate the attention.

“This new generation has come to Kerouac by reading his books, as he wanted,” Amram said. “That is opposite to what he felt happened when he was alive.”

Kerouac struggled with his fame because he thought it had more to do with his pop culture identity than his books, Amram said.

“He would say, ‘They are ignoring me,’?” Amram said. “And then he would say in his Lowell, Massachusetts, accent, ‘I’m an author, I’m a writer, why don’t they read my book?’ Even in the times before reality TV, when being a celebrity seduced most people, he was a modest person who didn’t want that. He only wanted people to read his books.””

Amram believes this contributed to the alcoholism that would kill Kerouac.

“People looked to him to perform for them, to be the Jack Kerouac character they envisioned rather than himself. They expected him to be a vocal leader in this new movement. He just wanted to write.”

There were two sides of the St. Petersburg version of Kerouac, filmmaker Anderson said _ one who wished to be left alone by fans who would stalk the house and one who openly pined for attention.

This Dr. Jekyll half usually appeared with some liquid encouragement, Anderson said.

“That Jack was usually the drunken Jack. And he drank a lot while living here. As much as he sometimes hated his fame, he would also go to a party and introduce himself as the ‘famous Jack Kerouac.’?”

On another occasion, she said, Kerouac and a friend were at an upscale bar in the Tampa Bay area dressed like “bums” and very drunk. The gameshow “Jeopardy” was on the television and the answer in need of a question was “He wrote ‘On The Road.’?”

“His friend, who wants to remain anonymous, said Jack jumped up and started yelling, ‘Me. I did.’ And they were kicked out,” Anderson said. “I don’t think the bartender believed he was Kerouac and thought he was just a loud drunk.”

A typewritten letter from Kerouac to his agent from September 1968 recently was sold by Boston-based RR Auction. Who made the purchase has not been announced, and it is up to the buyer whether to go public.

The letter was a pitch for his next book, to be titled “Spotlight.” He died before he could finish it.

“Spotlight” was to be an autobiography on the years following his rise to fame from “On The Road.”

“That would have been a fascinating account,” Anderson said. “It may have included his time in Florida.”

Among the episodes described in Kerouac’s letter are bar fights in a number of cities, bad experiences during television appearances and his frustration over people always recognizing him in public.

“I order my lunch but everybody’s yakking so much around me I begin to realize right then and there that ‘success’ is when you can’t enjoy your food anymore in peace,” he wrote, speaking of a meal experience in New York.

The auctioned letter was written in Kerouac’s native town of Lowell, during a brief visit away from St. Petersburg.

But considering St. Petersburg was his full-time home at the time, it is possible the book might have been written here, which would have added further allure to his local home, Anderson said.

The Friends of the Jack Kerouac House wants to buy the author’s house and use it in a way that honors Kerouac. Barmore, the group’s president, was disappointed to learn it’s off the market but said the group will keep raising money in case it becomes available. Options they’ve discussed include a Kerouac museum, a rent-free residence for talented writers where they could concentrate on their work, and moving it to a local college campus for a writing program.

The next time friend Amram vacations in Florida, he plans to stop by the house and perhaps leave a note of his own.

“I am so happy that people are still moved by his words and go out of their way to thank him,” he said. “Fortunately, Jack’s beautiful spirit has survived.”

One letter left at the home by “Jackie Z,” written on a piece of paper torn from a notebook, speaks of how Kerouac’s spirit has affected her. The letter seems to capture Amram’s own memory of his friend.

“When your books became popular, maybe it wasn’t like the be all end all experience, but I respect that so much,” Jackie Z says. “You wrote your personal, beautiful books not for glory or fame, but because you needed to write, needed to commemorate the people you met & experiences you had because they were transformative, colorful, MAD. You’re pretty mad & you lived it right.”

About LGBT books for teens…

Writer David Levithan last year marked the 10th anniversary of his “Boy Meets Boy,” a romantic teen comedy where the homecoming queen was once a guy and the gay-straight alliance was aimed at helping the straight kids learn how to dance.

And there was Paul, who meets Noah.

Since then, there’s been a burst of books featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning young people.

Levithan, also publisher and editorial director at Scholastic, offered his insights into parenting and books on LGBTQ-related themes for young people in an interview with The Associated Press.

AP: How does a parent who isn’t involved in the LGBTQ community but would like to foster an awareness and tolerance in children go about doing that through books, and at what age does that process begin?

Levithan: It’s never too early to foster kindness and equal treatment, for whatever group. So much of the pain that LGBT kids go through is because they feel distanced from all of the narratives they’ve been given. They’ve been told that everyone grows up a certain way, and now their own way is diverging from that.

The best thing parents can do, whether their kids end up queer or straight, is to acknowledge all of the different options that are out there, and letting their kids know that they support them no matter which options end up being theirs.

Books are a wonderful signifier and a perfect conversation starter. With my novel `Boy Meets Boy,’ I’ve seen it work both ways: I’ve had kids who’ve left their copies around for parents to find, as a way of `coming out’ to them. And I’ve had parents who’ve left their copies around for kids to find, so the kids would know they were supported and loved.

AP: Your fellow writer John Green said a Hollywood producer once told him: `The only thing audiences hate more than smart teenagers are gay teenagers.’ Does that extend to books for kids and teens today?

Levithan: That producer would be laughed out of one of my editorial meetings, for certain. Readers embrace all kinds of characters, as long as they are written with emotional truth.

Ten years ago, there may have been some hesitation on some people’s part. But it’s a different world now, and the best-seller list is full of novels with well-developed gay characters – not just in gay-themed novels like `Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ (co-written by Green and Levithan) but in works by best-selling authors like Cassandra Claire, Maggie Stiefvater and Ellen Hopkins, where the queer characters are part of the multifaceted worlds they are creating or reflecting.

AP: Are LGBTQ kids and teens fairly represented in books for those age groups? Are there enough stories where LGBTQ themes are taken on but also books that just happen to include such characters but are not about that experience?

Levithan: There is constantly a need for diversity within the representations. It’s just as limiting to say there’s only one kind of gay story, just as it’s limiting to say there’s only one kind of straight one. As for how much being gay is central to the character’s identity or story – as in life that totally depends on who the character is and what he or she is going through.

The important thing is for the characters to feel real, and to be given the humanity they are due. That granting of humanity is what separates a full portrait from a stereotype.

I think it’s dangerous to talk about `Oh, that character just happens to be gay’ as some kind of goal for us and our literature. The important thing is to show as much of the spectrum as possible, and to continue to investigate it.

Canadian writer Alice Munro wins Nobel for literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013 was awarded today (Oct. 10) to the Canadian author Alice Munro, called a “master of the contemporary short story.”

Munro grew up in Ontario, where her mother was a teacher and her father was a fox farmer. She studied journalism and English at the University of Western Ontario. She married in 1951 and settled with her husband in Victoria, British Columbia, where they opened a bookstore.

Munro began writing stories in her teens and published her first book-length work in 1968.

She is primarily known for her short stories, including some LGBT-themed pieces, and has published many collections over the years. Her works include “Who Do You Think You Are?” (1978), “The Moons of Jupiter” (1982), “Runaway” (2004), “The View from Castle Rock” (2006) and “Too Much Happiness” (2009). The collection “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” (2001) became the basis of the film “Away from Her” from 2006, directed by Sarah Polley. Her most recent collection is “Dear Life” (2012).

Munro, according to the biography from the Nobel prize committee, is “acclaimed for her finely tuned storytelling, which is characterized by clarity and psychological realism. Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov. Her stories are often set in small town environments, where the struggle for a socially acceptable existence often results in strained relationships and moral conflicts – problems that stem from generational differences and colliding life ambitions. Her texts often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning.”

Alice Munro currently resides in Clinton, near her childhood home in southwestern Ontario.

On the Web…

A link to an Alice Munro story in The New Yorker, 

http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2011/06/27/110627fi_fiction_munro