Fred "Curly" Neal, the legendary guard
for the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, was the VIP for the grand opening of a Harris Teeter grocery store. You would remember him as the bald Globetrotter with the insane dribbling skills and mischievous smile
during their '70s heydays. He passed the ball around to such immortals of the comic hardcourt as Meadowlark Lemon, Geese Ausbie and Marques Haynes.
The Globetrotters in their red white and blue stars and stripes
uniforms seemed to be all over the world and the TV dial during those days. They always cropped up on ABC's Wide World of Sports. They also made Saturday mornings their homecourt on "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn
Machine" with such 70s icons as Rodney Allen Rippy and Avery Schreiber. Curly and the gang went off and shot hoops against a pack of robots on Gilligan's Island. They were animated into the "Super Globetrotters." Curly
transformed into "Sphere Man." And it's impossible to guess all the other talk and variety shows they'd pop up on to show off their mad skills. They were only behind Ali in fan recognition and visits with Howard Cosell.
As a kid, there was nothing more exciting than the times the Globetrotters hooked up with those meddling kids and their dog in the Mystery Machine on "The Scooby-Doo Mystery Movies." These basketball playing greats
had to help out the kids in the cases filed as "The Mystery of Haunted Island," "The Loch Ness Monster," and "The Ghostly Creeps From the Deep." These episodes constantly rerun on Boomerang. I asked Curly if he had any
involvement with those animated adventures.
"Did that sound like my voice?" Curly responded.
A little quick research revealed that Stu Gilliam was the voice for Curly in the cartoons. Gilliam was a regular on Rowan
and Martin's Laugh-In (currently seen on Trio TV in the mornings). The immortal Scatman Crothers played the voice of Meadowlark Lemon. For all their trotting around the globe, neither player ventured into a vocal booth
Even with two best selling DVD sets featuring all these episodes at Best Buy, Curly isn't dribbling down to the bank with Scooby Snacks pouring our of his striped shorts. "We didn't get paid for
doing those," he said. Since he didn't really perform on the cartoons with his own voice, it was written off as promotional work.
But the Scooby-Doo team ups have allowed Curly to remain hip with the kids who still
watch those meddling kids and dog. During his signing, plenty of little kids came to the table to meet the man who schooled the pesky great dane with the basketball. His animated image has allowed him to transcend
generations. It wasn't just a bunch of middle-aged guys who remembered seeing the Globetrotters and Evel Knievel on a Sunday afternoons. Although there were quite a few of them. And they were all thrilled at meeting
Curly. It might have been the first time that many of them offered to take their wives to the grocery store beer runs excluded.
And did I mention that Curly still looks like he's the same guy from 1972? I'm not sure
how old he is. He was an all CIAA player in the early 60s at Charlotte's Johnson C. Smith University. So he's got to be over 60. But he is officially an ageless wonder. The guy is in great shape. I'd pick him for my
street ball team. Perhaps it does help that he's always had a shaved head a haircut that never goes out of style. In fact he complimented me on my smooth scalp. Curly was smooth before Michael Jordan's hair fell out.
It is amazing that he could be in such great shape since during the height of his playing days, he was playing nearly 4 times the number of games as his NBA equals. Even with all the movies, TV and other personal
appearances, Curly and his fellow players took on the Washington Generals 300 times a year in every barn on the face of the earth.
Even though he's in his retirement years, Curly isn't taking it easy. He's a goodwill
ambassador for the Globetrotters. Plus he's about to embark on a tour of military bases in Germany and Italy to give basketball camps to the children of soldiers that are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before we left, Curly taught Kimi Pawlowski, a four-year-old girl, how to spin a basketball on her finger. He got it started on his hand and transferred the rotation to her tiny digit. She glowed as multi-colored ball
twirled. Even after five decades, Curly still knows how to thrill children of all ages.
It was an amazing day as I was able to meet another childhood legend and score an amazing deal on four pounds of shrimp. A
childhood and middle aged fantasy fulfilled at once.
The Basketball Hall of Fame needs to induct Curly like they did Meadowlark. Write your Congressman!
ALERT THE MEDIA
I almost laughed during "Tom Goes to
the Mayor." But it didn't make it out of my throat.
It's kinda sad that Sealab 2021 is finally over. While the death of Harry Goz (he was the voice of Captain Murphy) did end an era, there was something fun about the
10 minutes of Adult Swim insanity. I do hope the creative forces from beneath the ocean will resurface soon.
Where the hell is Squidbillies? I was pumped up for this show. I almost bought a t-shirt. This was a show
that suicide cults could embrace.
I'm watching the video for Duran Duran's "What Happens Tomorrow." Why does Simon LeBon have a Rod Stewart buzz cut? I was expecting something more stylish from
a reunited Duran Duran. It's like they want to play it safe and look like a bunch of businessmen trying to push insurance on me. This video is painful. Where's the sense of adventure? The hot chicks? The panache? Who
greenlit this? It's dull.
And what's up with VH1 Classic running ads? I sense this channel is starting to get a little too safe in their programming. The days of enjoying freakish videos that weren't even on MTV's
80s slate seems to be ending. What a shame since this was my favorite waste of time even with those lame VJs in the faux record store.
As summer approaches, I have a simple
request: Give me a fun summer song. That's all. Last year the music industry dropped the ball and there wasn't that piece of music that will have that "summer of 2004" tag. It doesn't have to be the greatest or
cheesiest song in the world. It just has to be catchy. I want to be able to hum it while stuck in traffic or shuffled around on various phone holds.
So all you musical stars that read this column (I'm
talking to you Beverly Sills), have a whole month to give me something that can be blasted at the ballparks on the 4th of July.
I'm glued to E!'s reenactment of the Michael Jackson case.
Is the guy playing Jacko really white? Does he get to keep his wardrobe? Has he a clause in his contract in case there is an appeal?
It is nice to see the case busted down into 30 minutes with the intense testimony
kept in while lawyers comment on the action. It's like ESPN's coverage of football.
How can I get a gig playing a court observer? Do you think it's harder to get a set in E!'s courtroom or the actual place? Do you
think these people will get roles in the Law and Order courtroom series? My brother was on the final courtroom scene in Matlock. But he wasn't able to spin that into a steady gig on Murder One.
PARIS IS BURNT
The story is that Paris Hilton is replacing Nicole Richie with Rod Stewart's daughter (Kimberly) on upcoming Simple Life. Big mistake. Rod's daughter is an equally twiggy piece of
nightlife tinsel like Paris.
Nicole was at least warm and charming before she screwed people over with her incompetence. She was a flirt and a tease to everyone. She actually made people think they were watching
Paris Hilton breathe.
Perhaps America will finally decide that Paris Hilton is a poor substitute for an actual entertainer.
A CD TO GET!
Finally some has figured out how to turn punk classics
into something to accompany hard liquor drinks. "Nouvelle Vague" mixes The Clash with a bossa nova beat to actually give you a version of "Guns of Brixton" that you use like a Barry White song. French electronica wizs
Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux teamed up with a couple of female vocalists to create Tiki-takes on The Dead Kennedy's "Too Drunk to Fuck," XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel," and the Undertones' "Teenage Kicks."
record probably would have been a smash hit a decade ago when the Ultralounge revolution struck along with the first wave of 80s nostalgia. But now this record seems to be more of an insider's secret than a celebrated
event. The record has been around for nearly a year and this is the first time I've heard it. Not that I'd expect to get tipped about this record from the radio. Suave sounds like this have to be smuggled over the
Sitting in Linda's living room with a drink in hand, I couldn't help, but wax about the originals and yet feel comforted that Ashlee Simpson wasn't dragged into this project by her sleazy daddy.
up with Jessica Simpson being rumored to have banged both Johnny Knoxville and Bam Magera? Can this woman please at least screw something that doesn't have a show on MTV? What about a cast member of One Tree Hill? Or
Abe Vigoda? I want to spread the rumor that Jessica has decided to have a lesbian affair with Bea Arthur. My source at MTV has told me that Joe Simpson is already developing a series to deal with Jessica's entering the
dating pool. Nick is keeping his mouth shut since Daddy Simpson is setting up his "comeback" after that solo album disaster even though the damn thing had the theme song to "Newlyweds."
Was anyone shocked that Joe
cut out the people booing his daughter at the Orange Bowl? That's the line between "reality show" and infommercial. The fact that MTV doesn't give a rat's ass about actually having the show probe Ashlee's reality isn't
so surprising cause MTV is filled with whores and old men.
Speaking of old men, Kurt Loder looked like Abe Vigoda when they put him on camera. And we at Party Favors wish him a Happy 60th
birthday!!! That's not a joke. He turned 60 on May 5th. But at least he gets to call 46 year old John Norris, sonny. It must be like an episode of the Golden Girls at MTV News. Can you smell the Gold Balm
being freebased in the TRL studios!
This season I'm rooting for Elliot Sadler in that M&M car since his father has business relations with my wife's grandfather. Plus I like eating M&Ms.
STOP REMAKING FILMS!!!
Supposedly they are going to remake "The Man Who Fell To Earth." How dare remake the magic of a completely messed up and kinky sci-fi epic starring David Bowie as the ultimate alien. Do
the producers of the remake remember the made for TV remake that came out in 1987? I don't. Just save you millions of dollars and years of working and order the DVD of the originals, fat cat producers.
What reason could these morons have to remake the film? How exactly can they "update it" without having to conform to the lame nature of 21st
century filmmaking? This is going to be as lame as the remake of "The Bad News Bears." Have you seen the previews to that cinematic travesty? How dare Richard Linklater try to strip Jackie Earle Haley of his cinematic legacy? Of all the films that don't need updating, this is one of them. Are the kids going to get to drink beer on camera? It'll probably be a hit because Linklater will get to scrub out the naughtiness and make them as charming as those "School of Rock" kiddies.
Why is Adam Sander remaking "The Longest Yard" when he obviously does not look like a washed up quarterback? How can anyone who has seen the original forget the biggest effect of the film Bernadette Peter's nest
hairdo? Well at least they didn't make it a David Spade project.
ANOTHER LAP FOR SPEED
The Third volume of Speed Racer episodes are due out on May 24 and I'm revved. It would be nice if the folks at Lions
Gate would put out each DVD faster than one a year. After this installment, there's still 2 more dvds to go. And that means 2 more years.
Yet at the same time, I can get the complete collection of Roger Ramjet in one
boxset. Although the confusing info on the amazon website makes it sound like a 3 DVD collection containing over 20 episodes. Sounds like we won't know what's really coming out until it shows up in the post office box.
I'm also pumped that "The Great Rock N Roll Swindle" featuring the Sex Pistols is finally coming out on DVD. I lost my VHS a couple years ago when I loaned it to a certain person who probably doesn't realize he borrowed
it. Say what you will about the film, but ultimately it is a brilliant disaster. It's a strange fish that explains the rise of the Pistols and their sudden destruction. And you get Malcolm's brilliant business plan.
Plus you can see the Pistols play. Like Curly Neal, the Sex Pistols belong in the Hall of Fame although the Rock one cause the Pistols stunk at basketball.
FAREWELL TO PITTSBURGH
Is this really the final
season of "Queer As Folk" when it starts up on Showtime this month? It seems like only a few years ago that I saw a smuggled DVD of the English version and then pondered how even a pay cable channel could remake the
show in America. Showtime did a pretty good job, although they had to take jack up the age of the high school boy from 15 to 17 (with a birthday around the corner).
It's hard to gauge the impact of the show. It still
hasn't become water cooler fodder like "The Sopranos." Recently when I was working at a major ad agency, I jokingly remarked that Brian Kinney must work here. The employees around me said they didn't know Brian. But it
has had a personal impact since when I was shopping in a clothing store, I immediately described a collared pullover as a "Ted Shirt" referring to Ted Schmidt, the accountant who tried to be an internet porn king.
Needless to say, the shirt went back on the rack.
The true surprise of the show was the acting skills of Peter Paige in the role of Emmett Honeycutt. Paige endowed Emmet with a mix of Don Knotts' cocky naivetι of
Barney Fife and Richard Thomas' sensitive wide-eyed John Boy Walton. It's great that he can pull such emotional swings without ever making the character unbelievable. You know that no matter what, Emmett is a sweet
Southern boy. And that's a pretty good job for a guy from the Nutmeg State. It's a damn shame that the Emmys refuse to recognize his talent with even a single nomination. Sean Hayes has been nominated 5 times and one
once. Share the love.
The biggest thing this show has done is made Pittsburgh sexy. Well actually it made Toronto masquerading as Pittsburgh sexy.
WHERE'S PART 1 5?
"Leonard Part 6" come out on DVD? Haven't we suffered enough with the VHS? Is there really anyone in America begging for this to come out? And could Bill Cosby just call that person and tell them to get a life? The only
thing that I don't understand is why they didn't double this up with "Ghost Dad?"
And why did MGM have to screw up with releasing two Abbott and Costello pics ("The Noose Hangs High" and "Dance With Me
Henry") as separate DVDs for $15 each? Universal found the secret to putting out the duos movies 8 titles on 2 DVDs for under $20. They could have at least 2 for 1 them. But no! And now I'm just going to wait for the
price to drop before adding them to the collection. Why my fascination with Abbott and Costello? I'm not sure, but I currently have 27 of their 36 features on DVD.
Shame Hallmark has done another lame release of
Laurel and Hardy titles on DVD. Sure this second volume has "The Blockheads" and "Way West" two of their essential titles, but their copyright owners have once again put out second grade prints. They put out these
collections like they lost a bet. Can't they see the attention garnered by the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton collections? Or are they smitten by the morons that overprice and under-pack the Three
Stooges DVDs? You have to nurture the legacy of an artist maintain top quality releases at prices that will attract more than the diehards.
I don't like "E! Hollywood Hold'em." It's nice that
Laura Prepon (Donna from That '70s Show) has become a producer of low budget programming, but the show is lacking. There's no intensity on the final game. The stars are too nice to each other. What's the point of Poker
if people aren't dealing out spite with every hand? I want Macaulay Culkin getting crap from Seth Green. How about Seth going on about seeing Mac's ex-wife naked and humping in "Bully?" Let's see if young Hollywood can
really Hold'em. And what's up with the cast of "That's 70s Show" being Poker maniacs? Can at least one of them take up a life of crime?
And while on the subject of Laura Prepon, I can't get into this season's
episodes of "That '70s Show" because of her blond hair. Bring back the red!
NO MORE SECOND CHANCES
Just watched the second episode of "American Dad" and it's official the show sucks. None of the characters
are entertaining. None of the characters are drawn worth a crap. None of the plotlines are worth repeating to friends and relatives. "Father of the Pride" had more going for it mainly the thought that a computer
glitch might allow a cyber lion to maul cyber Roy. I have taken an oath to not watch "American Dad" ever again.