Blog Archives

Oscar Night: The Day After

ImageNow that all the statuettes have been handed out, and the 2014 Oscar telecast has concluded, Applause Books would like to pay tribute to George Kennedy, winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1967 for his portrayal of Dragline in “Cool Hand Luke.”

Kennedy writes about that role and the rest of his remarkable life and career in Trust Me, published in 2011 by Applause Books.

Follow this link, to see the book trailer and hear an extended interview with Kennedy on “Off the Meter” with Jimmy Failla.

Happy Birthday, George Clooney!

So, George Clooney is 52 today (we can’t believe it either). Enjoy an excerpt from George Clooney, by Kimberly Potts.

George Clooney had often told reporters he wouldn’t attend the Oscars until he was nominated for one. He didn’t expect, though, that one trip to the Academy Awards was all he’d need to take home one of the little golden guys.

After nearly twenty-five years in Hollywood, more than a dozen failed TV shows, a breakout role in a hit TV series that gave him his firstbig success at age thirty-three, and another decade of critical film hits (Out of Sight) and box-office misses (Batman & Robin), 2006 was the year that his industry cohorts decided Clooney was a genuine triple threat: he had become the first person in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated for three different Oscars in two different movies. All of a sudden, in 2006 Hollywood had decided that Clooney was one of the best actors, one of the best writers and one of the best directors in the industry.

And all the big-screen triumphs he was at last enjoying had come not because he had motored along the usual path to success in Hollywood. Instead, Clooney had done things his way, shrewdly switching back and forth between projects with big box-office potential and smaller, more independent movies he felt passionately about, working with actors and filmmakers who shared his goals of turning out good work they could be proud of listing on their résumés and, in a reflection of his personal ethics, making it a priority in his professional life to treat people, at every stage and level of the filmmaking process, fairly.

Clooney had become a genuine movie star, one of the biggest in the world, one of the most beloved and most respected—and, judging from the crop of those coming up behind him, one of the last real movie stars in Hollywood. As unlikely as it might have seemed earlier in his career, when he felt lucky to land parts in movies like Return to Horror High and Return of the Killer Tomatoes! and to be playing sixth banana to Mrs. Garrett and the girls on The Facts of Life, Clooney had deftly managed to sustain and expand upon a career in an industry that is notoriously fickle. He’d become a better actor, one capable not only of genuinely terrific performances in movies such as Steven Soderbergh’s slick heist crime dramedy/romance Out of Sight and Joel and Ethan Coen’s comic adventure O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but also of aligning himself with filmmakers who could draw out his best acting efforts and who had likeminded commitments to making movies that mattered, that provoked, that entertained . . . that, above all, did more than just line a leading man’s pockets with an eight-figure payday.

He’s famous for twice being People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, for his penchant for practical jokes and his vow never to remarry, as well as for his Oscar-winning and Emmy-nominated acting career. But George Clooney’s reputation as a celebrity belies his essential seriousness, as a businessman, a humanitarian, and, of course, in his ascendancy to the Hollywood A-list.

George Clooney: The Last Great Movie Star 

In this updated biography of one of Hollywood’s most colorful leading men, pop culture expert Kimberly Potts traces Clooney’s life from small-town boy to big-screen idol. Clooney slowly and deliberately built a résumé that took him from TV stardom on ER to a winning film career as a serious actor, writer, producer and director. Along the way Potts fills us in on Clooney’s early attempts to break into film (including his Batman flop), his many well-publicized romances, his political and humanitarian efforts, plus a major fight with director David O. Russell on the set of Three Kings.

Potts also recounts how Clooney has gained success and acclaim with his shrewd strategy of alternating blockbuster movie roles, such as the Ocean’s franchise, with less lucrative “passion” projects – such as Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck – that reflect his personal ethics. He won an Academy Award for the former and rave reviews for the latter, and has continued to earn accolades and Oscar nominations for smart dramas such as Michael Clayton and Up in the Air.

Including fresh interviews, essential Clooney photographs, a filmography, a timeline, and a list of his favorite 100 films, this is the book no Clooney fan will want to be without.

Recording at Home

Incident in New Baghdad has been nominated for an Oscar this year in the Best Documentary Short Feature category. The film was scored by Emile D. Menasche, author of The Desktop Studio, Your Sound Onstageand Home Studio Clinic. He recorded the soundtrack to Incident in New Baghdad in his home studio using his MacBook Pro.

Menasche says, “I worked closely with producer/director James Spione on the soundtrack. It was a real collaboration. We recorded the soundtrack in my home studio using a combination of Ableton Live and Logic Pro. Because the story involves an American soldier in Iraq, the music reflected both cultures. We didn’t have indigenous instruments, so I had to adapt classical flute and guitar to sound more Middle Eastern. Returning worked well with the guitar, a technique I discovered working on a previous documentary, God’s Open Hand, which covered the Afghan elections a few years ago.

“We also used some electronic sounds to underscore some of the battle scenes. The trick was not to get the music to sound too dramatic. The director didn’t want it to sound either heroic or like it was out of a horror/suspense film.
“A lot of the final cues came from improvised flute phrases, played by my daughter Rebecca. I had her play both melodic parts and beds, then used Live to change their pitch and texture to create a blend between natural and digital sounds.”
To view the trailer for the film, visit:
To listen to an interview with Emile about the film and his books, listen to On Screen & Beyond.
 The L Magazine says “If James Spione’s phenomenal Incident in New Baghdad doesn’t win, something is very wrong.”
For more information about Emile’s books, visit

Animation Nomination: An Animated Rant

Guest Blogger: Barry Monush, author of Lucille Ball FAQ, West Side Story: Music on Film, and more. Also the editor of Screen World.

It wouldn’t be Oscar season without some complaining, so here goes. While the 2011 nominees are (mostly) remarkably devoid of groaners (as long as they got Christopher Plummer in there, I’m happy), those of us who actually see a lot of movies and make keeping track of the new releases a way of life (yes, we’re out there), want to vent about how certain categories are filled.

It appears that the Animated Feature category has now joined the ranks of Foreign Language Film and Feature Documentary. In other words, there is no obligation for the nominees to actually have been available for viewing by the paying general public. Considering how animation floods the market these days and dominates the box office, you’d think the Academy would be able to come up with 5 films that fans have actually heard of, but no, instead two of this year’s nominees have even the most avid movie followers scratching their heads: A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita.

This is not a rant about their quality. Who the hell has actually seen the pictures to comment on that? What I’m bugged by is why they are in the running without being a part of the actual 2011 movie scene? If indeed categories are going to consist of items that can only be screened by Academy members or on the festival circuit, then they should not be included in the telecast that the rest of the world watches. Rather than keeping the honorary awards away from home viewers (don’t get me started on how dumb that decision was), why not relegate the Animation, Documentary, Foreign, and Short Subjects to the also-ran ceremony instead?

Better yet, just have the Oscars pay tribute to released titles and keep us all in the loop.


Screen World 62: The Films of 2010

Movie fans eagerly await each new edition of Screen World, the definitive record of the cinema since 1949. Volume 62 provides an illustrated listing of every significant American and foreign film released in the United States in 2010, documented with more than 1,000 black-and-white photographs.