Monday, March 25, 2019

RIP Joseph Pilato

‘Day of the Dead’ Scene-Stealer Joseph Pilato Has Died at 70

Bloody Digusting
By John Squires
March 25, 2019

One of the single best performances you’ll find in the late George Romero’s oeuvre would have to be Joseph Pilato‘s scenery-chewing portrayal of Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead, the primary human antagonist of the film and one of Romero’s most memorable characters. Sadly, we’ve learned this afternoon that Pilato has left us at the age of 70.

Prior to landing one of the top roles in Day of the Dead, Joseph Pilato had worked with George Romero on Dawn of the Dead and Knightriders, playing small roles in both films. Throughout the 1980s he also appeared in Effects, Gung Ho, Terminal Force and Shooters.

Going into the ’90s and beyond, Pilato appeared in Alienator, Empire of the Dark, The Evil Inside Me, Pulp Fiction, The Demolitionist, Fatal Passion, Wishmaster and The Ghouls.

Friend Marty Schiff broke the sad news on Facebook today, writing: “It is with great sadness that I inform you that actor and old friend Joseph “Joe” Pilato passed away quietly in his sleep last night. Rest in Peace, Joe.”

Rest in Peace indeed, Captain.

PILATO, Joseph (Joseph Francis Anthony Pilato, Jr.)
Born: 3/16/1949, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Died: 3/24/21019, U.S.A.

Joseph Pilato’s western – actor:
The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (TV) – 1993 (Big Ed)

RIP Scott Walker

Scott Walker: Scott Walker (1943-2019)

25th March 2019

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker.  Scott was 76 years old and is survived by his daughter, Lee, his granddaughter, Emmi-Lee, and his partner Beverly.

For half a century, the genius of the man born Noel Scott Engel has enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of The Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.

Scott Walker has been a unique and challenging titan at the forefront of British music: audacious and questioning, he has produced works that dare to explore human vulnerability and the godless darkness encircling it.

Noel Scott Engel was born in 1943, the son of an Ohio geologist.  He began his career as a session bassist, changing his name when he joined The Walker Brothers.  The 1960s trio enjoyed a meteoric rise, especially in Britain, where hits like 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore’ attracted a following to rival that of The Beatles.

But the superstar lifestyle and fame was not for Scott.  As an only child, he had grown up in the kind of rich, slow solitude in which imagination could flourish, and he retreated from the limelight, returning as a solo artist to release a string of critically acclaimed albums, Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4.  He disappeared until the late 1970’s, when The Walker Brothers re-joined for their last album together and then a solo album in the 80’s.

Another long silence and Scott then re-emerged in the 90’s and onwards with lyric-driven works that deconstructed music into elemental soundscapes.  Drawing on politics, war, plague, torture, and industrial harshness, Scott’s apocalyptic epics used silence as well as real-world effects and pared-back vocals to articulate the void.  Sometimes gothic and eerie, often sweepingly cinematic, always strikingly visual, his works reached for the inexpressible, emerging from space as yearnings in texture and dissonance.

From teen idol to cultural icon, Scott leaves to future generations a legacy of extraordinary music; a brilliant lyricist with a haunting singing voice, he has been one of the most revered innovators at the sharp end of creative music, whose influence on many artists has been freely acknowledged.  The scope and dynamism of his vision have added dimension to both film and dance, and he has stunned audiences with music whose composition transcends genre, and whose sheer originality defies pigeonholing.

In her foreword to Sundog, the 2017 volume of Scott’s lyrics, novelist Eimear McBride had this to say of the musician’s remarkable contribution:

“Walker’s work, as Joyce’s before it, is a complex synaesthesia of thought, feeling, the doings of the physical world and the weight of foreign objects slowly ground together down into diamond.  It is Pinter-esque in its menace but never shies from naked emotion... This is work that does not speak of danger, it feels like it.”

In 2017, the BBC paid tribute to Scott with a Proms concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

We are honoured to have worked with Scott for the last 15 years of his life.

WALKER, Scott (Noel Scott Engel)
Born: 1/9/1943, Hamilton, Ohio, U.S.A.
Died: 3/22/2019, London, England, U.K.

Scott Walker’s western – singer:
Stai zitto fascista… Elima questo prima di contattare il tuo datore di lavoro – 1966 [sings “Main
     Theme] [film was never made]
Cemetery Without Crosses – 1968 [sings: “A Rope and a Colt”]

Sunday, March 24, 2019

RIP Larry Cohen

Larry Cohen, Writer-Director of 'It's Alive' and 'Hell Up in Harlem,' Dies at 77

The Hollywood Reporter
By Chris Koseluk
March 24, 2019

He thrived making low-budget horror and blaxploitation films after creating the 1960s TV series 'Branded' and 'The Invaders.'

Larry Cohen, the avant-garde writer and director who made his mark in the horror and blaxploitation genres with such innovative cult classics as It's Alive, God Told Me To, Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem, has died. He was 77.

Cohen died Saturday night surrounded by loved ones, his friend, actor and publicist Shade Rupe, told The Hollywood Reporter. No other details were immediately available.

The older brother of late Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen — she got her start promoting his early films — Cohen began his career by writing for television in the late 1950s, and he created the Chuck Connors-starring Branded for NBC and the cult sci-fi drama The Invaders, starring Roy Thinnes, for ABC.

More recently, the New York native wrote the screenplay for the Joel Schumacher thriller Phone Booth (2002), starring Colin Farrell.

By stocking his movies with sly social commentary and tongue-in-cheek humor, Cohen's work felt edgier and more impactful than similar low-budget fare.

"Things were going on all over the country and the world that I wanted to try and deal with in my films," Cohen said in a 2017 interview with Diabolique Magazine. "Take [his 1985 feature] The Stuff, which was about products being sold on the market that kill people. There are still so many products like that being sold today. In those days, you still had cigarettes being advertised on television.

"Nowadays, it's not cigarettes, but it's medication that'll probably kill you just as fast. As a matter of fact, every time they advertise a different pill of some kind, they have a disclaimer afterward telling you all the side effects — like death. So, The Stuff was an allegory for consumerism in America and the fact that big corporations will sell you anything to get your money, even if it'll kill you."

Bone (1972), Cohen's directorial debut, revolved around a black thief (Yaphet Kotto) who breaks into a Beverly Hills home and holds a white couple (Andrew Duggan, Joyce Van Patten) hostage. His second feature was Black Caesar (1973), an update of Edward G. Robinson's 1931 classic Little Caesar that starred Fred Williamson as a gangster who rises up to head a Harlem crime syndicate. That led to a sequel, Hell Up in Harlem, that hit theaters just eight months later.

"Many of the films I made are extremely volatile and deal with controversial subjects like racism," Cohen said. "My first picture, Bone, is way ahead of its time — even today. When I made it in the '70s, I thought by the time we got to 2015 that racism would be finished — but it isn't.

"Now you have people being shot by cops, people shooting cops, and riots in the streets. It's the same old thing again — blacks against whites — and it's just sad that after all these years nothing has changed. Even [after] a black president and a black attorney general, it doesn't matter, we're back where we started from."

It's Alive (1974), which he wrote and directed, featured a score by composer Bernard Herrmann and creature effects by Rick Baker. Revolving around a hideously deformed mutant baby who goes on a murderous rampage, it spawned two sequels. He also wrote and produced Maniac Cop (1988), and that horror title birthed a pair of sequels as well.

Cohen also wrote and helmed God Told Me To, a 1976 satire about people committing murders on instructions from above that starred Tony Lo Bianco and gave Andy Kaufman his first screen credit, and Q (1982), which transformed New York's iconic Chrysler Building into a nesting place for a winged, dragon-like serpent.

In 2018, Steve Mitchell turned the cameras on Cohen for the documentary King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen, and Martin Scorsese, J.J. Abrams, John Landis and Williamson were among with stories about the indie maverick. "Making a pretty strong case for his idiosyncratic vision and tenacity, it's likely to have moviegoers rushing to figure out where they can see obscurities like God Told Me To and Q," John DeFore wrote in his review for The Hollywood Reporter.

Lawrence G. Cohen was born on July 15, 1941, in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The family moved to the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, and he would hustle movie ticket money by offering to carry groceries for tips.

Cohen graduated from City College of New York in 1963 with a degree in film studies. After landing a job at NBC as a page, he gave himself a crash course in the art of producing teleplays, and by his early 20s, he was writing television scripts.

Cohen broke into TV in 1958 with an adaptation of Ed McBain's crime novel The Eighty Seventh Precinct for Kraft Television Theatre. Over the next decade, he would pen episodes for Zane Grey Theatre, Surfside 6, Checkmate, The Fugitive and The Defenders.

He created Branded, which ran for two seasons (1965-66) and starred the 6-foot-6 Connors as a disgraced officer unjustly drummed out of the cavalry for cowardice. "My intellectual concept of the show is that it's like a Shakespearean tragedy," Cohen said in a 1965 interview for TV Guide. "You must have a great man to experience true tragedy. That's why I like Chuck Connors so much in this part. He's so big — he's the tallest underdog in the west."

Cohen went on to create ABC's short-lived 1966 drama Blue Light, starring Robert Goulet as a double agent, and CBS' Coronet Blue, an offbeat 1967 drama about an amnesiac (Frank Converse) trying to unravel the mystery of who he is (the only thing he can remember are the two words of the series' cryptic title) before coming up with The Invaders.

Cohen took the idea for that one from two of his favorite 1950s sci-fi films — Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invaders From Mars. It was about an architect (Thinnes) who witnesses aliens landing on Earth and tries to convince everyone that there's danger ahead.

"The major thing the show had going for it is the fact that we are all a little bit paranoid and that it's easy to identify with somebody who is a single man fighting the world," Invaders producer Alan A. Armer said in a 2000 story for "I mean, that's what all real heroes are, if you look at the great myths and legends and the great stories that have been told."

Though is only lasted two seasons (1967-68), The Invaders gained cult status and paved the way for shows such as The X-Files.

Cohen also created the 1973-74 ABC series Griff, starring Lorne Greene — just off his long Bonanza run — as a cop turned private eye.

Cohen's first feature screenplay was for the sequel Return of the Magnificent Seven (1966), and that was followed by scripts for Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969), Scream Baby Scream (1969) and El Condor (1970).

In 1996, Cohen revisited his blaxploitation roots by directing Original Gangstas, an action drama that paid homage to the '70s films and featured many of that genre's stars, including Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Paul Winfield, Richard Roundtree and Ron O'Neal.

Cohen also wrote and directed The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), Full Moon High (1981), Special Effects (1984), Deadly Illusion (1987), A Return to Salem's Lot (1987), the Bette Davis-starrer Wicked Stepmother (1989) and The Ambulance (1990) and wrote the screenplays for Best Seller (1987), Guilty as Sin (1993) and Captivity (2007).

He penned an episode of ABC's NYPD Blue and directed for the last time on a 2006 installment of Showtime's Masters of Horror.

Sometime in the early 1970s, Cohen bought a 1929 Spanish-style dwelling built by the family of William Randolph Hearst. And like any low-budget filmmaker worth his salt, he put it to good use.

"Almost every movie I made I ended up shooting one scene in my house just for good luck," Cohen said in a 2018 interview with The Ringer. (The home that Kotto broke into in Bone was his.)

"Sometimes it was a nightclub, sometimes it was a hotel suite, sometimes it was a pool room. Whatever we needed, we had all kinds of flats outside stored away. We could put up false walls, and we could create sets without much time or effort. It was great because I didn't have to go to work in the morning. I could just get out of bed, come downstairs and direct the movie."

Famed director Samuel Fuller had owned the house before him. When he met Cohen at a party, he asked if he could bring his wife by to see it. Cohen invited them over, the two became friends and Fuller portrayed a vampire hunter for Cohen in Salem's Lot.

In 1988, he was honored with the George Pal Memorial Award by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

Cohen was married to Janelle Webb from 1964-87, and she had a hand in many of his films, doing everything from producing and acting to writing songs for the soundtracks. The couple had five children — Pam, Victoria Jill, Melissa, Bobby and Louis — and all can be seen in dad's films.

Cohen also is survived by his second wife, psychotherapist Cynthia Costas Cohen. She also appeared in his movies.

COHEN, Larry (Lawrence G. Cohen)
Born: 7/15/1941, Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 3/23/209, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.A.

Larry Cohen’s westerns – producer, writer:
Zane Grey Theater (TV) – 1956-1961 [writer]
Branded (TV) – 1965-1966 [producer, writer]
Blade Rider, Revenge of the Indian Nations – 1966 [writer]
Return of the 7 – 1966 [writer]
Custer (TV) – 1967 [writer]
Deseperado: Avalanche at Devil’s Ridge (TV) 1968 [writer]
El Condor – 1970 [writer]
Shootout in a One Dog Town (TV) – 1974 [writer]
Posse – 1975 [writer]
The Gambler, the Girl and the Gunslinger (TV) – 2009

Friday, March 22, 2019

RIP Antonia Rey

Antonia Rey, Latin Actress of Stage and Screen, Dies at 92

The New York Times
By Katharine Q. Seelye
March 22, 2019

In her native Cuba in the 1950s, Antonia Rey was a leading lady of the stage, playing Madge in William Inge’s “Picnic,” the title character in George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida” and Elizabeth Proctor in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

But when Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and established a Communist dictatorship, Ms. Rey and her husband, Andres Castro (no relation), a prominent theater director, were forced to consider their options: Stay in Cuba, secure in their theater world but living under a repressive regime, or flee to the United States.

They fled, in 1961.

Ms. Rey, who died on Feb. 21 at 92, went on to become a busy actress in New York, with scores of small parts on the stage (including in “A Streetcar Named Desire”), in movies (“Klute”) and on television (“Who’s the Boss?”).

But with few leading roles available for Hispanic actresses in the New York theater world of her era, she would not regain the stature she had achieved in Havana. Still, she did not regret leaving.

“She never complained about it,” her niece, Nina Rangel, said in a telephone interview. “She had her freedom, and she followed her passion.”

In Cuba, Ms. Rey and her husband had been a high-profile couple, and Castro had tried to entice them to stay. He promised them they could run the National Theater, where Ms. Rey could have her pick of roles and her husband could be its director.

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But the harsh reality of living under Communism became clear as the government began expropriating land and property. Ms. Rey and her husband knew they had to leave.

They joined the first wave of Cuban exiles, many of them wealthy professionals. They had visas and could board flights to Miami, though they could take nothing with them except the clothes they were wearing.

“She said her hair turned gray that day, there was so much stress,” Barbara Eda-Young, a close friend and fellow actor, said in a telephone interview. “She used to say, ‘Cuba is a four-letter word.’ ”

Most Cuban exiles settled in Miami, but Ms. Rey and her husband continued on. They wanted to restart their lives in New York because it was the center of the theater universe, though they had no family or friends there.

She was able to get into acting fairly quickly. “She met someone who got her a small part, and one thing led to another,” Ms. Young said.

Her Broadway debut came in 1964, when she landed a role in the chorus in “Bajour,” starring Chita Rivera. She played a Mexican woman in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and had small roles in two other productions of Tennessee Williams plays, “The Rose Tattoo” and “Camino Real.”

She appeared in 30 movies, including as the landlady in “Klute,” a 1971 crime thriller with Jane Fonda. Other films of hers included “Hair,” “Moscow on the Hudson,” “Coogan’s Bluff,” “The Lords of Flatbush” and “Jacob’s Ladder.”

Television was also fertile ground for her, and she won small roles in sitcoms as well as soap operas (“As The World Turns,” “All My Children”), police procedurals (“Law and Order”) and the TV-movie pilot for “Kojak.”

Like Miriam Colon, an actress from Puerto Rico who died in 2017, Ms. Rey was a go-to choice when scripts called for Latina characters, and in the 1960s, ′70s and ′80s they were almost always minor roles. American theater, movies and television were slow to integrate ethnic characters into their plot lines, and the roles that did exist were rarely the leads.

Ms. Rey was often chosen for Italian roles as well, often playing mothers and grandmothers, Gypsies and fortunetellers. Her face became so familiar, Ms. Rangel said, that strangers would often stop her and ask, “Aren’t you that woman who … ?”

Maria Antonia Rey was born on Oct. 12, 1926, in Havana. Her father, Antonio Francesch, a dentist, died before she was born. She was given the surname of her mother, Emilia Rey.

Her grandmother raised her while her mother studied to become a nurse. When Antonia was a teenager, her mother married Rafael Rangel, a banker, and they had two sons.

In addition to her niece, she is survived by one of her stepbrothers, Emilio Rangel. Rafael Rangel died in 1998, and Andres Castro died in 2000.

Antonia had always wanted to be an actress, but her mother’s new husband did not approve of the theater, Ms. Rangel said. He directed her to go law school at the University of Havana, where Fidel Castro was a fellow student.

“She always called him ‘Dirtball’ because he was always grungy and not a nice person,” her niece said.

Ms. Rey dropped out of law school early on to pursue acting. She made her stage debut in Havana in 1948 and soon met Andres Castro, the son of an affluent Havana family that owned a furniture store. He also owned a theater, Las Mascaras, and the two began working and living together. They married in 1958 during the intermission of a show they were rehearsing.

In New York, her husband opened the West Side Repertory Theater on West 81st Street in Manhattan and directed it for 25 years. It closed in 2001, after he died. She lived on the Upper West Side.

In 2003, Ms. Rey received a lifetime achievement award from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.

She continued working into her 90s. In December, she finished the second season of a series called “Happy!” for the Syfy Channel, in which she played a witch.

After taking her niece to the theater one night in mid-February, Ms. Rey, who had not been feeling well, was taken to a Manhattan hospital, where she later died of natural causes, Ms. Rangel said.

“I know you,” the man said, by Ms. Rangel’s account. “You’re a really good actress!”

“What can I tell you?” she responded. “I am.”

REY, Antonia (Maria Antonia Francesch)
Born: 10/12/1926, Havana, Cuba
Died: 2/21/2019, Manhattan, Havana, Cuba

Antonia Rey’s western – actress:
‘Doc’ – 1971 (Concha)