Sunday, February 28, 2010

Death of a Baldknobber

The death at 71 of Lyle Mabe, "Branson's first comedian," is time for an appreciation of his family musical comedy troupe, The Baldknobbers, who opened the first theatre in what would become an All-American entertainment mecca.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Times Op-Ed column has too many cracks

New York Times editors have an embarrassment on their hands this morning in the shape of Charles M. Blow's Op Ed column about the "cliché" of the "crack-addicted black mother" perpetuated by producer Tyler Perry in two of his films, a television series, and, most damaging, in his "presentation" of the movie Precious, for which "Mo’Nique is a favorite to win an Oscar next Sunday for her powerful and disturbing portrayal of an abusive, crack-addicted mother.

"There was a time when this character was more relevant: in the 1980s and 1990s when the crack epidemic plunged whole communities into violence, fear and chaos," thunders Mr. Blow, who cites statistics showing that drug use among young blacks is below the national average.

But then, a parenthetical phrase is added by the editor:

"To be fair, 'Precious' is set in the 1980s."

Granted, that disclaimer does tend to water down the argument slightly, but there's still the fact Mo’Nique is perpetuating the negative image of the black crack mother--

Except Mo'Nique's character in Precious is not a crack addict, as a revised version of the column now states:

"Mo’Nique is a favorite to win an Oscar next Sunday for her powerful and disturbing portrayal of an abusive mother in the movie 'Precious.'

"If she wins, I may grit my teeth at the depraved depiction, but at least her character is merely juxtaposed with the crack scourge and isn't in fact an addict. That's heartening..."

"At least her character isn't in fact an addict? "

"That's heartening?

"To be fair, 'Precious is set in the 1980s?"

Time to pull the column, no?



If that's not enough reason, there's the example Mr. Blow cites as proof that the "crack mother cliché" is passé: Whitney Houston.

"These never-ending portrayals perpetuate the modern mythology that little has changed when much has. Even for Whitney," he concludes.


Unfortunately, he writes the very week that Whitney Houston's erratic behaviour and poor concert performances have led to speculation that the diva is back on the drugs.

The New York Times, that paper of record, settles for an online correction:

"Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly described Mo'Nique's character in the movie "Precious." She was not a crack addict."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tough times for Wayne Newton

With his career-encompassing multimedia show, Once Before I Go, at the Tropicana, these should be golden days for Las Vegas superstar and Tabloid Baby pal Wayne Newton, but according to John Katsilometes at the Las Vegas Sun, these are definitely the worst of times for the Midnight Idol.

Two weeks ago, Wayne's daughter Erin, 33 and pregnant, suffered liver, kidney and respiratory failure and delivered baby boy via cesarean section. Then she fell into a coma until last weekend. Doctors say her condition is consistent with HELLP syndrome, which attacks the kidneys and liver, and is in motion during pregnancy.

After doctors told Wayne that Erin probably wouldn't recover, she awoke "unexpectedly" on Monday.

Wayne had canceled many of his February shows to fly to and from St. Louis to be with Erin, his adopted with first wife, Elaine. (They divorced in 1985. He and his current wife Kathleen have a 7-year-old daughter, Lauren.)

Wayne was in the hospital with Erin this morning when Clark County Sheriff's civil-process deputies and moving vans turned up at his famed 40-acre Shenandoah ranch and estate personnel arrived at his estate on behalf of his former pilot Monty Ward, trying to seize property to execute on a judgment that totaled more than $500,000 in past-due wages.

The deputies were turned away.

Wayne and his family have been hit with all kinds of bad news at least since December. His wife's older sister died suddenly the day after Christmas in Los Angeles, six days after the death of his friend and USO touring colleague Brittany Murphy died.

What else? Kats adds:

"This month, a lawsuit was filed against Newton in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas by speedway magnate and onetime Newton friend Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, charging that Newton is delinquent on a $3.35 million loan Smith had personally guaranteed. As a result, Smith is seeking foreclosure of Shenandoah, one of the city's signature properties.

"Newton also still is entangled in a $32,000 lawsuit for hay delivered to the ranch for his dozens of Arabian horses, an action that dates to 2009, and earlier this month an airport near Detroit claimed Newton owes more than $60,000 in storage fees after he abandoned a $2 million plane there more than three years ago. The craft reportedly is being eaten away by mold and is useless except for scrap."

The Scotsman runs Jason Wood's obituary

It's been a week since Jason Wood's last performance, at a club in Bournemouth, England, before he went home to his in Sudon and "died in his sleep" at 38, and he has finally received his first major mainstream obituary and appreciation in a major mainstream newspaper.

Word of the passing of this internationally-known musical impressionist and reality television star has traveled slowly through the UK news media, buy as reports spread, more and more people realize they were very familiar with Jason Wood, after all.

Wood's story was first reported here as "the gay British Danny Gans" because of his act's-- and death's-- similarities to those of the Las Vegas headliner, who died in his sleep at 52 on May 1st (Gans, it would turn out, died of an overdose of a powerful opiate-- Wood's autopsy results are pending), and while many wrote off Danny Gans as being "known only in Vegas"), so it is that Jason Wood had a more select audience, first in gay clubs, then on digital television and the elite Edinburgh Fringe Festival scene.

His importance and place in comedy history, however, is slowly being recognized as being far more than the first celebrity to be booted off the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

This morning, we find his obituary in The Scotsman:

Jason Wood
By Aladair Steven

Stand-up comedian who was known for his camp send-ups and outrageous put-downs

Jason Wood, comedian. Born: 21 January, 1972, in Bedfordshire.

Died: 20 February, 2010 in Bedfordshire, aged 38.

Jason Wood was one of those comedians who set the Fringe alight annually. His irreverent and wild humour was balanced by a friendly on-stage manner: no matter how rude the chat, the audience loved it.

It certainly made him a popular visitor to Edinburgh. He quickly made a name for himself on the Fringe with his camp humour. Wood, who was openly gay, told the most saucy jokes and got away with it. He certainly could pinpoint a member of the audience and go on relentlessly about his or her hairstyle, the dress ("that blouse is all wrong") or even "Do the clothes come from the garage?"

But such was Wood's charm that audiences loved him and the person who was the centre of his attention considered it all a privilege.

His flair for publicity also endeared him to Edinburgh. He became front page news as the master of theatrical spin when The Scotsman gave his show (Being Glorious at the Assembly Rooms in 2004) a none-too-nice review. The reviewer did not mince her words and gave Wood a single star. Unperturbed, he walked round the city with "A Star - The Scotsman" on his publicity material. It proved a brilliant piece of spin doctoring and made his name overnight.

Wood started out on the gay circuit working principally round the pubs doing impressions mostly of such gay icons as Cher, Madonna and Alison Moyet. Wood had a wicked routine on stage. He seldom had a set show but would react to the audience with vicious, comic asides or put-downs. His impression of Cher was bitingly accurate; all effected by the voice there was never a quick change or even a wig.

The same went for Barbra Streisand, whose arm gestures Wood sent up wonderfully. Both impressions included searing falsetto notes which defied description. Sometimes Wood did Nessun Dorma with all the flourish of Pavarotti.

But many in Edinburgh will remember him for his live stand-up show. One thing was for certain: a lady's handbag and its contents were never safe. He'd lean down to a lady in the front row and hold up her handbag and ask quizzically: "Did your nan give you this, then?" Out would pour all the contents with quips such as, "Do you really need all this?" followed by "And this? What is this?" Inevitably there was one member who would try to take Wood on and shout out something unnecessary. Quick as a flash Wood would reply: "Did you really have to say that? Do you think you're a 14-year-old at assembly? Well I'll tell you I am no **** supply teacher."

Wood first came to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001 and often said how grateful he was for the opportunity at the start of his career. His first visit was almost his last. He was at the Gilded Balloon with a show called Wild. In the third week he had trouble seeing and was rushed to the Princess Alexander Eye Hospital. After attention he returned to the show only to discover on his return to London that he had meningitis. "Although I dreaded the prospect of having to go back to Edinburgh the next year," Wood once wrote in The Scotsman, "I did and have loved it ever since."

Wood gained wider acclaim came when he joined the BBC 1 wind-up series Spy TV. As a result of that his, bookings on the club circuit became more regular and in 2004 he was booked to appear in Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday nights with Bruce Forsyth. His partner Kylie Jones ("She turned my thundering steps like a careering jumbo into a small 737 with wing tips," he wrote).

Sadly they were the first to be voted off the programme. Wood then was a contestant on the second series of The Upper Dog on BBC2, hosted by Julian Clary. He and his dog (Jim) were eliminated but did win fourth place. Wood was becoming a regular on digital television; for example he was seen on Hell's Kitchen and last November on BBC3's The Naughties. Wood's career was fast steadily expanding and he had broadened to encompass after-dinner events and charity functions.

He had recently started a regular variety night at The Hospital Club in London's Covent Garden and had been booked to represent Britain at a two-month comedy festival in Sun City, South Africa, this summer. In March he was scheduled to have made his first album comprising songs he had written himself.

Wood had returned from performing in a Bournemouth club to his home and died in his sleep.


Jason Wood's funeral services are set to take place Monday, March 15 2pm at St. Mary’s Church, Manor Road, Lower Sundon, Bedfordshire, followed by a reception at Kents Athletic Club on Tenby Drive. Wood's family says "all are welcome to attend."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Money talks: Steven Tyler rejoins Aerosmith

Aerosmith announced on their website that after months hints that he'd quit, a stint in rehab and threats to replace him, Steven Tyler is back with the band and ready to tour.

The band is heading out with their "Cocked, Locked and Ready to Rock" European tour this summer.

Tyler's been acting strange since he fell off a stage and broke his leg back in August. For a time, he huddled with Tabloid Baby pal Mark Hudson to work on his autobiography before being convinced to clean up his act. He and Joe Perry, meanwhile, rarely spend time in the same room, and they managed to get four of the five members together for the reunion announcement video on the website.

Most striking in the video is the obvious toll throat cancer has taken on bassist Tom Hamilton, who's been replaced on tour periodically in recent years by longtime Aerosmith and Tabloid Baby pal David Hull.

He is, however, still rockin'.

"All welcome" at Jason Wood's funeral

The public is invited to the funeral for musical impressionist Jason Wood, "the gay British Danny Gans," who died in his sleep over the weekend at 38.

Services will take place Monday, March 15 2pm at St. Mary’s Church, Manor Road, Lower Sundon, Bedfordshire.

There will be a reception afterwards at Kents Athletic Club on Tenby Drive.

Wood's family announced that "all are welcome to attend."

The family asks that flowers be sent to

Neville Funeral Service
Neville House
Marsh Road
Leagrave, Luton LU3 2RZ

Meanwhile, there's still no word as to what killed the entertainer and reality television star in the prime of his life, on the eve of a gig in London.


Friends gathered Tuesday night at The Corner Store, upstairs at The Funnyside of Covent Garden, to raise a glass and share stories about "a wonderful person, a genius onstage and a fantastic friend." And while they and fans have added tributes to various Facebook pages and other online forums, no one has come forward with a clue to what killed Jason Wood.

British comedy writer and standup Hal Cruttenden (praised by the Daily Telegraph for his "warm-hearted, quick-witted observations about being a camp, middle class heterosexual") is the latest colleague to write a touching eulogy on his site about "one of the loveliest people on the comedy circuit":

"I know there are jokes about people being unrealistically nice about someone who’s recently died but in Jason’s case it really is true. I helped write and perform some video sketches for his Edinburgh show in 2006 and he was such a pleasure to write with in his fabulous 1920s decorated house.

"Later that year, he closed a charity show for me in aid of our local hospital in Enfield. He brought the house down with his fabulous songs and impressions and everyone who was there that evening never forgot him. He was unlike anyone they’d ever seen before (not just because they’re from the suburbs and a bit sheltered!).

"Jason was funny but he also sang beautifully. Unlike so many comedians, he was never bitchy or hard or moody. He was open and sensitive and a joy to be around.

"I last saw him about three months ago at a gig at an agricultural college. We walked in to play a room full of big tough farmers sons and girls wearing rugby shirts. We sat giggling in the green room wondering what on earth we had in common with these kids. In fact the students were lovely. I was first on so left early to get home. Apparently Jason stormed it that night. I wish I’d stayed to watch."

Did you know Jason Wood? Do you have information about how he died? Contact us here. All identities will be kept confidential.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

State representative who cheated on his wife with a lobbyist is replaced by candidate who cheated on his wife with his mother-in-law

Tabloid Baby's country music expert, voice of the South, world-renowned videographer and photojournalist Lewis Bailey of Bailey Mountain, Georgia sends us this item from the local paper about the candidate (above) elected to replace a state representative who had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist:

Attanta-Journal Constitution
Metro Atlanta/State News Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stout elected to fill Richardson's House seat
Candidate had admitted affair
with mother-in-law 10 years ago

By Mike Morris
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Paulding County voters elected Daniel Stout to fill the seat of former House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who resigned earlier this year after his ex-wife confirmed that he'd had an affair with a lobbyist.

Stout, a 29-year-old banker from Dallas, garnered 935 votes, or 59.5 percent of the votes cast Tuesday, to win the District 19 seat in the state House of Representatives.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Ronny Sibley received 560 votes, while Jody Cash got 77 votes.

Stout had earlier confirmed that he also had an extra-marital affair, with his first wife's mother, 10 years ago. He and his first wife divorced, and Stout remarried in 2005.

Jason Wood's mystery death causes college comedy cancellation

The sudden, explained death of the out comedian and musical impressionist Jason Wood, known here as "the gay British Danny Gans," is escaping scrutiny from the British tabloid press but is sending shockwaves across the UK comedy scene.

Wood was set to headline tomorrow night's Three Shots Comedy Club at the University of Essex in Colchester, but due to his death the entire evening has been postponed.

A statement on the university website says:

“Jason was scheduled to headline the gig, which is now postponed out of respect for him. The Arts on 5 team were shocked and saddened to hear of his death and our respects go out to Jason’s friends and family.”

Wood had frequently topped the bill at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but became known throughout all the classes of the UK in 2004, when he starred in, and was the first celebrity to be voted off, the hit BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing.

Jason Wood, what happened?

So why is the British tabloid press ignoring the death-- and life-- of gay musical impressionist Jason Wood, who died in his sleep over the weekend at 38?

While Wood was known nationally as host of a number of reality television shows, and had a place in British television history as the first celebrity voted off the successful Strictly Come Dancing series, his mysterious death after a performance in Bournemouth and hours before a scheduled show in London, has gone unmentioned in all but a brief BBC report, and coverage on the gay media and some show business websites.

The situation is disturbingly similar to that of musical impressionist Danny Gans, who died in his sleep at age 52 on May 1st. In that case, the Las Vegas media appeared to be warned off coverage by powerful interests who did not want the lid pulled back on a clean-living family man image.

Jason Wood, an "out" performer who began his rise to fame with a character called "Cher Travesty," had no such secrets. Yet there appears to be little interest in his death and life of a very "camp" performer from the nation that gave "camp" to the world.

As in the Danny Gans case, the lazy media has gone with the statement from Wood's manager that there was "no suspicious circumstances" about the death. One news site translated that to mean that a 38 year-old man died of "natural causes"-- as if there is anything natural or unsuspicious about the sudden death of a strapping 38-year-old man.

The lion's share of coverage comes from the British comedy news site Chortle, which, in the Las Vegas tradition, continues to roll out the tributes from Jason Wood's colleagues:

"Writing on Chortle, Phoenix Nights and Coronation Street actress Janice Connoly – aka comedy character Mrs Barbara Nice – said: ‘This is such sad news. He was a great entertainer.’

Stand-up John Fothergill said: ‘I will never forget the hilarious time we had in Cape Town. You were a sparklingly different highlight in the business and a joy to have known.’

And fellow comic Eddy Brimson said: ‘Jason was a great bloke, kind, considerate, great company and always up for a laugh but let us never forget he made his mark and brought a great deal of happiness to so many.’"

Watch this space for the autopsy results....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Danny Wolf announces the roller derby

Legendary, pioneering reality television producer Danny Wolf doesn't only bring the action into American homes, he lives it as announcer for the American Roller Skating Derby league. This is Danny over the weekend, calling the L.A. Firebirds' 2010 season opener versus their archrivals the Brooklyn Red Devils at the LA County Fairgrounds, at the exact moment Firebirds jammer Ray Robles flew over the rail of the banked track smack into the trackside announcer's table and Danny's kisser.

Danny recovered to tell us: "We're back at the Fairgrounds again this Saturday night, and then the San Francisco Bay Bombers home opener up at Kezar Pavilion on Saturday night March 6. Expecting over 4,000 fans that night! And I'm sure I'll get clobbered again on that night too!"

Verdict in Ramones curse murder

The killing of Linda Stein, aka The Ramones Curse Murder, was a hot topic on this site in late 2007, after the punk band's manager turned real estate mogul, was found bludgeoned in her swank apartment and her personal assistant was charged.

Natavia Lowery claimed she snapped because the tough-taking 62-year-old cancer survivor yelled and cursed and blew marijuana smoke in her face.

This evening in Manhattan, more than two years down the line, a Manhattan jury convicted Lowery of second-degree murder. It was the top charge; she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors says it wasn't the pot smoke, but that the assistant got caught stealing.

As we'd predicted at the time, the case inspired an episode of Law & Order.

The Ramones Curse, of course, encompasses the early deaths of Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee, and, according to the excellent, brutal and depressingly honest new book I Slept with Joey Ramone, written by Joey's brother Mickey Leigh with Tabloid Baby pal Legs McNeil, everyone even remotely connected to the group.

As Gary Busey as Buddy Holly would say: Oh boy!

Sixty-five-year-old Tabloid Baby pal Gary Busey is a father again, after his girlfriend Steffanie Sampson gave birth to a boy this morning.

Luke Sampson Busey arrived at 6:40 a,m., weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces.

The couple released a statement:

"This feels like a dream. We feel so blessed and are overwhelmed with happiness at Luke's arrival."

Mom's 40. Busey was the cameo star of Cloud 9, the classic beach volleyball sports comedy starring Burt Reynolds and produced by our pals at Frozen Pictures.

Captain EO: A child molester in Disneyland?

A little over an hour ago, Captain EO returned to Disneyland.

The 17-minute science fiction musical starring Michael Jackson opened for a "limited engagement" at the Tomorrowland Theatre at 10 a.m., replacing Honey I Shrunk the Audience, which closed Jan. 3.

Captain EO was launched at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland in 1986, when Jacko was calling himself "The King of Pop," and had the power to rope in Francis Ford Coppola as director and executive producer George Lucas-- a few years before he became better known as a freakish oddity and alleged child molester.

The $30 million 3-D film closed in 1997, but after Jacko's death last summer and the subsequent wiping clean of his pedophiliac slate, the Disney people decided to listen to the fans asking for its return, dust off the film canisters and rake in some more dough.

A Disney spokesman says the film will run "as long as it remains popular."

Jason Wood died just like Danny Gans

Gay British musical impressionist Jason Wood died in his sleep under circumstances that are eerily similar to his straight Las Vegas counterpart, Danny Gans.

The BBC quotes the agent for the 38-year-old entertainer, known here as "the gay British Danny Gans," as declaring there were "no suspicious circumstances" surrounding his death on Saturday, and that it will take autopsy results to determine the cause.

Similar statements were made after Danny Gans died mysteriously in his sleep at age 52 on May 1st. Ultimately, the Las Vegas County coroner revealed that Gans had succumbed to an overdose of the powerful opiate hydromorphone, sold as Dilaudid and known as the "drugstore heroin."

Another bizarre similarity between the two deaths is the scant news coverage of Wood's sensational passing. The Las Vegas news media as a group refrained from investigating the circumstances of the life and death of the biggest star in their orbit. Likewise, British journos, who usually swarm over show business tragedies, have tiptoed around the story of a man who became a household word when he was the very first celebrity to be voted off the popular television reality show, Strictly Come Dancing (the UK version of Dancing with The Stars-- in another twist, Danny Gans produced the Las Vegas comeback of Donny Osmond, who won last season).

Surely worth a mention in the Daily Mail.

His agents Hannah Chambers and Sophie Church of Chambers Managements refused to offer any other details about the death.

They said in a joint statement:

"We are devastated by the loss of our client Jason Wood.

"He was an inspiring & individual performer who believed that 'variety' was the spice of life and whose wind ups were legendary.

"He was also a warm-hearted and caring man. We have lost a friend as well as a client and he will be truly missed."

Jason Wood had most recently been hosting a variety night at The Hospital Club, a private members' club and creative arts venue in London that was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and whose celebrity members include Jude Law.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jason Wood's last Tweets

Two days after his untimely demise, there's still no word on what caused the death of UK comedian and musical impressionist Jason Wood, the musical impressionist known here as the gay British Danny Gans.

There are, however, clues to the 38-year-old entertainer and reality TV star's state of mind in the hours before his passing, as well to what kid of person he was, in his Twitter messages, that continued until the day before his death.

His final exchange with his friend, the Scottish standup comic, author and playwright, Janey Godley, are described in an emotional posting on her blog:

"He twittered me on Friday afternoon to encourage me to play a game on IPhone with him and always sent wee uplifting messages when he instinctively knew you needed them. That’s who Jason was, someone who always had your back.

"We last spoke on the phone when he called to ask me if he should retweet a twitter message he got mentioning his standing ovation, he didn’t think it was gracious to accept the compliment or to let others know he got such praise. I told him 'RT that now! You deserve to take every accolade going and its not being vain, its being happy someone loved your show'

"He was so worried that people would think him up himself for putting the good praise on the web, that’s who Jason was...

"I could go on and on about the lovely things he told me and the nice words of sincerity that he heaped on me but he did the same with everyone. He had a space in his heart for everyone he met; he had the ability to make you feel you were the one person worth bothering about...

"It’s not often in comedy you meet a gracious lovely human with no bad words to say about anyone and Jason Wood was that man... You see that was thing about Jason he touched the heart and made a connection with everyone he met. We all had a special friendship with him.

"He transcended all the bitching, all the jealousy and all the clichés that comedy generates and actually made us better people for knowing him."

Wood's Twitter messages also reveal another connection to Danny Gans: the globe-trotting musical comedian apparently was set to perform in Las Vegas.

He tweeted on Wednesday:

"Have Practised the new Vegas stuff until my head hast demanded no more. I'm sneak peeking them #wambam, #CafedeParis this Saturday. Come x"

Jason Wood never made it. By showtime at the Cafe de Paris on Saturday, Jason Wood was dead.


We settle the fight between Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett's production partner Craig Nevius over "Farrah's Story"

Outrage over Ryan O'Neal producing a sequel to the NBC special Farrah's Story that includes his and Farrah Fawcett's troubled drug addict son Redmond? The storm began even before Farrah's death last June, when Craig Nevius, Farrah Fawcett's production partner on her cancer documentary, A Wing and A Prayer, sued O'Neal, O'Neal and Farrah's longtime business manager Richard B. Francis and Farrah's friend and documentary camerawoman Alana Stewart for pushing him out of the project that became the controversial Farrah's Story. Last month, O'Neal fired back as Francis sued Nevius on behalf of Farrah's estate.

We contacted Craig Nevius, asking for his reaction to this latest twist-- and with an idea for settling at least one part of the sad saga. He responded via email.

What's your reaction to Ryan O'Neal's sequel to Farrah's Story?

I’m sure that any project Ryan or Alana may produce will be of the same quality that most of us have come to know and expect from both of them.

What are the chances of you getting a copy of the original footage and the rights to produce and release the original A Wing and A Prayer director's cut that Farrah wanted made? Would that settle things?

First, let me correct the premise of your question (and a growing misconception born out of the lawsuit that “Farrah’s Estate” filed against me last month): there is no such thing as a “Director’s Cut” of A Wing and A Prayer. While I am (and have always been) the director of the film, every edited version was the “Executive Producers’ Cut.” Meaning it was not only my work but Farrah’s work as well.

The idea that I was working in a vacuum and then, suddenly, after almost two years of editing, simply “presented” her with “my version” is as ridiculous as it is untrue. Anyone who ever got to know Farrah, let alone got the chance to work with her, knows that control was not something that she easily gave up, much less gave into (if someone else tried to exert it). And while Farrah had many talents, biting her tongue was not one of them. She always insisted that people around her “say what you mean and mean what you say.” And she did the same. In my experience, Farrah rarely changed her mind.

Even though Farrah couldn’t be in the editing room on a daily basis, we spoke almost every day, usually several times a day, often for hours on end. And we screened new scenes and/or sequences together every two or three weeks (unless she was in Germany, but even then we tried to speak once a week even if it was at 4:30 in the morning Los Angeles time). Changes to the film were made based on her artistic vision as well as her medical condition: which means both her triumphs and setbacks dictated our direction. She was, after all, still living the “story” we were telling.

"Farrah never wanted this project
to be about death.
She wanted it to be about
the fight for a chance at life."

But what she made clear to me early on was that if it suddenly became apparent that the end was near, we needed to make sure that the story in the film ended first. Because Farrah never wanted this project (or its promotion) to be about death. She wanted it to be about the fight for a chance at life. That’s why we chose to use “I Run For Life," Melissa Etheridge’s inspirational anthem to cancer patients everywhere, near the end of the documentary. Farrah’s video diary was never supposed to rely on talking heads to narrate the story, much less reminisce about her in the past tense. It was not to be a tribute and it was certainly not meant to be a eulogy. Farrah knew that there would be plenty of those on The Today Show and Entertainment Tonight and if the worst were to happen.

So what about the question we asked: What if you were allowed to release that original documentary so the pubic can have both?

My lawsuit is asking the court to declare that the Sweetened By Risk Agreement (signed by Farrah and by me) is our company’s only legally valid (and therefore controlling) operating agreement. If that is the court’s finding, then yes, A Wing and A Prayer will be seen by the world. But until that time comes, the only audience likely to see it will be the judge and jury.

And that’s only because the accusations made by Richard Francis in the estate’s lawsuit against me made the quality of the work relevant-- when it was not necessarily relevant before (in my lawsuit for contract interference). At least that’s my understanding of it. But you have to remember, my only law degree comes from watching Boston Legal.

Would you accept that?

Yes. My lawsuit has always been primarily about two issues: my rights and my responsibility. That’s how Sweetened By Risk’s Operating Agreement reads. It clearly states that if Farrah becomes unable to function for any reason (including and specifically illness), I not only had the right to make all business and creative decisions for our company, I also had the responsibility to do so.

So you see, even if I wanted to settle for something less than completing the film as Farrah intended, I really couldn’t. At least not if I wanted to live with myself.
Sure, money would be great. But I know that it wouldn’t last nearly as long as the guilt I would feel for selling out Farrah. She fought too long and too hard for me not to do the same.

Has the other side offered to settle with you for money?

Whether they did or not, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it.


It sounds simple enough: Show us the movie. Farrah's fans, O'Neal's supporters, and the world will only be richer for getting even more insight into Farrah, and seeing her ordeal through her own eyes.

The lawsuits would be settled and everyone involved could be satisfied that Farrah is indeed "resting in peace."

Ryan? Bernie?

Ryan O'Neal to exploit son Redmond's drug battle in his Farrah Fawcett documentary sequel

Despite the denials, it appears that Ryan O'Neal will exploit his and Farrah Fawcett's son Redmond and his drug problems in a reality television format, after all.

RadarOnline.com reports that Redmond's sad battle with heroin and other addictions will be one of three plotlines in the follow-up to Farrah's Story, the exploitative NBC special that was carved from Farrah and production partner Craig Nevius' original video journal of her cancer struggle.

RadarOnline says its reporters have seen the letter O'Neal is sending out to get people to cooperate. It reads in part:

“We plan to focus on three main areas of her legacy: her art (namely her films and her sculptures), her inspirational battle with cancer; and the light of her life, our son Redmond, who is now fighting to reclaim himself in honor of his mother.”

According to RadarOnline, O'Neal also writes that the documentary will include Farrah’s voice from “an original, never-aired 2005 interview with never-before-seen footage from our private collection of home movies.”

One of the most horrific parts of the Farrah's Story special was the scene, engineered by O'Neal, in which a shackled Redmond was led from jail into the room of his near-comatose mother and allowed to get into bed with her. The sequel promises to pick up the story from there.

It's not known if O'Neal will include video of Farrah's death.

O’Neal plans to keep shooting interviews through March. It's not known if he'll get to interview Redmond, who's in court-ordered drug rehab after years of arrests, jailtime and drug treatment.

O'Neal and Redmond were arrested together on drug charges in 2008 when police found methamphetamine in the actor's Malibu home. O'Neal at first denied the drugs were his, but last year pleaded guilty to drug possession and was sentenced to a year and a half of drug counseling.

Last week, after Farrah's Charlies Angels costar Kate Jackson attacked him in the media, O'Neal said through a spokesman that his "only wishes are for Farrah to rest in peace."

What killed the gay British Danny Gans?

Fellow comics have been paying tribute to musical impressionist Jason Wood, the gay British Danny Gans, who died over the weekend-- like his straight Las Vegas counterpart, too young.

Wood died Saturday at 38, after performing Friday night at the Funnybone comedy club in Bournemouth, England.

“We’re still reeling a bit, it’s a terrible shock,” said Mick Callaghan from the club. “Jason was a really nice bloke and always very popular at the club. He did great a show on Friday, went down a storm as always, then got his driver and said: ‘See you next time’. Next thing we heard, he’s dead. You just don’t expect something like this to happen.”

Wood had recently returned from a Caribbean cruise and was set to perform in a burlesque show at London's Cafe De Paris on Saturday night.

Details of his death are still unknown.

Wood worked the same singing impressionist turf as Danny Gans, who died tragically at 52, but although he won mainstream attention as the first person voted off Britain's Strictly Come Dancing show, Jason Wood was flamboyant and edgy, with shows like My Anus Horribilis (a spin on Queen Elizabeth's Annus Horribilis Christmas address of 1992); and while Danny Gans took root on the Las Vegas Strip, Jason Wood traveled the world. While he was a star on the British comedy circuit, he performed in Holland, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, here in the States and represented England at a UN comedy festival in South Africa.

British comedy website site Chortle has more:

"He made his Edinburgh debut in 2001, and in 2006, his Fringe show received a damning one-star review by The Scotsman newspaper, but rather than be disheartened he proudly produced flashes for his posters saying: 'A star – The Scotsman.’

"In 2008, he starred in Living TV's The Underdog Show, which revolved around dog training, while his previous appearances include BBC One primetime show 29 Minutes Of Fame and the hidden camera show, Spy TV."

Chortle lists tributes pouring in from colleagues who are heartbroken by the shocking news.

Flight Of The Conchords star Rhys Darby said: "Your wonderful humour and stunning voice will echo in the halls of hilarity for ever on... You were one of the good ones."

Jim Jeffries said: "Just cried about the passing of Jason Wood, such a great guy. I will really miss him"

Omid Djalii said he was a "lovely man."

Bob Mills said: "Absolutely grief-stricken at this news. The sweetest man. An amazing performer and an absolute joy to work with. We have lost a giant talent. My heart goes out to his family."

There's also a tribute to Wood on the Strictly Come Dancing website:

"Musical comedian and reality TV show star Jason Wood has died at the age of 38.

"The performer – known for his imposing voice and uncannily accurate musical impressions – reached a wider audience when he appeared on the first series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, alongside Natasha Kaplinski. He held the dubious honour of being the first person ever voted off the show."