Shortlink

I’m Still Numb And Can’t Believe Eddie’s Gone. Rest In Peace, Eddie!!

Eddie Van Halen dead of cancer at 65

Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fuelled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit Beat It and became elevated to the status of rock god, has died. He was 65.

A person close to Van Halen’s family confirmed the rocker died Tuesday due to cancer. The person was not authorized to publicly release details in advance of an official announcement.

His son also confirmed his death and the cause on Twitter.

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” Wolfgang Van Halen said in the tweet.

With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen fuelled the ultimate California party band and helped knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record 1984, which contains the classics Jump, Panama and Hot for Teacher.

Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.

Eddie Van Halen was something of a musical contradiction. He was an autodidact who could play almost any instrument, but he couldn’t read music. He was a classically trained pianist who also created some of the most distinctive guitar riffs in rock history. He was a Dutch immigrant who was considered one of the greatest American guitarists of his generation.

The members of Van Halen — the two Van Halen brothers, Eddie and Alex; vocalist David Lee Roth; and bassist Michael Anthony — formed in 1974 in Pasadena, Calif.

They were members of rival high school bands and then attended Pasadena City College together. They combined to form the band Mammoth, but then changed to Van Halen after discovering there was another band called Mammoth.

Their 1978 release Van Halen opened with a blistering Runnin’ With the Devil and then Eddie Van Halen showed off his astonishing skills in the next song, Eruption, a furious one-and-a-half minute guitar solo that swoops and soars like a deranged bird. The album also contained a cover of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me and Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.

Mike McCready of Pearl Jam told Rolling Stone magazine that listening to Van Halen’s Eruption was like hearing Mozart for the first time. “He gets sounds that aren’t necessarily guitar sounds — a lot of harmonics, textures that happen just because of how he picks.”

Van Halen released albums on a yearly timetable — Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981) and Diver Down (1982) — until the monumental 1984, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album charts (only behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller).

Rolling Stone ranked 1984 No. 81 on its list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.

“Eddie put the smile back in rock guitar, at a time when it was all getting a bit brooding. He also scared the hell out of a million guitarists around the world, because he was so damn good. And original,” Joe Satriani, a fellow virtuoso, told Billboard in 2015.

Van Halen also played guitar on one of the biggest singles of the 1980s: Jackson’s Beat It. His solo lasted all of 20 seconds and took only a half an hour to record. He did it for free, as a favour to producer Quincy Jones, while the rest of his Van Halen bandmates were out of town.

Van Halen performs Beat It with Michael Jackson at a concert in Irving, Texas, in July 1984. (Carlos Osorio/The Associated Press)
Van Halen received no compensation or credit for the work, even though he rearranged the section he played on.

“It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that,” he told Billboard in 2015. “I literally thought to myself, ‘Who is possibly going to know if I play on this kid’s record?”‘

Rolling Stone ranked Beat It No. 344 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Jackson’s melding of hard rock and R&B preceded the meeting of Run-DMC and Aerosmith by four years.

But strains between Roth and the band erupted after their 1984 world tour and Roth left.

The group then recruited Sammy Hagar as lead singer — some critics called the new formulation “Van Hagar” — and the band went on to score its first No. 1 album with 5150, More studio albums followed, including OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance. Hit singles included Why Can’t This Be Love and When It’s Love.

Hagar was ousted in 1996 and former Extreme singer Gary Cherone stepped in for the album Van Halen III, a stumble that led to his quick departure. Roth would eventually return in 2007 and team up with the Van Halen brothers, with Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, for a tour and the albums A Different Kind of Truth in 2012 and Tokyo Dome Live in Concert in 2015.

Van Halen’s music has appeared in films as varied as Superbad, Minions and Sing as well as TV shows like Glee and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Video games such as Gran Turismo 4 and Guitar Hero have used his riffs. Their song Jamie’s Cryin was sampled by rapper Tone Loc in his hit Wild Thing.

For much of his career, Eddie Van Halen wrote and experimented with sounds while drunk or high or both. He revealed that he would stay in his hotel room drinking vodka and snorting cocaine while playing into a tape recorder. (Hagar’s 2011 autobiography Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock portrays Eddie as a violent, booze-addled vampire, living inside a garbage-strewn house.)

“I didn’t drink to party,” Van Halen told Billboard. “Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.”

Eddie Van Halen was born in Amsterdam and his family immigrated to California in 1962 when he was seven. His father was a big band clarinetist who rarely found work after coming to the U.S., and their mother was a maid who had dreams of her sons being classical pianists. The Van Halens shared a house with three other families. Eddie and Alex had only each other, a tight relationship that flowed through their music.

“We showed up here with the equivalent of $50 and a piano,” Eddie Van Halen told The Associated Press in 2015. “We came halfway around the world without money, without a set job, no place to live and couldn’t even speak the language.”

He said his earliest memories of music were banging pots and pans together, marching to John Philip Sousa marches. At one point, Eddie got a drum set, which his older brother coveted.

“I never wanted to play guitar,” he confessed at a talk at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2015. But his brother was good at the drums, so Eddie gave into his brother’s wishes: “I said, ‘Go ahead, take my drums. I’ll play your damn guitar.”‘

He was a relentless experimenter who would solder different parts from different guitar-makers, including Gibson and Fender. He created his own graphic design for his guitars by adding tape to the instruments and then spray-painting them. He said his influences were Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Van Halen, sober since 2008, lost one-third of his tongue to a cancer that eventually drifted into his esophagus. In 1999, he had a hip replacement. He was married twice, to actress Valerie Bertinelli from 1981 to 2007 and then stuntwoman-turned-publicist Janie Liszewski, whom he wed in 2009.

Shortlink

All The Best, Alex. Take Care Buddy!!!

Alex Van Halen posts touching tribute to his brother, Eddie

Alex Van Halen, cofounder with Eddie of the band that bears their names, posted a brief but heartfelt tribute to his younger brother on Thursday morning. Eddie, one of the most legendary musicians in rock history, died on Monday at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.

“Hey Ed. Love you. See you on the other side. Your brother, Al,” it says simply — but is accompanied by a touching black and white photo of the pair as young boys.

The brothers formed the band in 1972 in their hometown of Pasadena, California, where their family had settled after the brothers were born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Dutch and Indonesian parents.

After working under a variety of names, the siblings were joined by vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony in the first recording lineup of the group, which exploded after star-making gigs at such West Hollywood clubs as Gazzarri’s and the Starwood. They built a reputation on the L.A. circuit and recorded a demo produced by Kiss’ Gene Simmons, who brought Van Halen to Kiss’ manager Bill Aucion, who wasn’t interested.

It was instantly apparent from “Eruption,” the solo showcase on Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut album for Warner Bros., that Eddie Van Halen was an instrumentalist to be reckoned with. In a mere one minute and 42 seconds, the axe man detonated a dazzling display of fretboard tapping, ringing harmonics, lightning-fast licks and smeared, dive-bombing effects.

Writing about that recording in Rolling Stone’s 2015 poll of the 100 greatest guitarists — in which Van Halen placed eighth, between Duane Allman and Chuck Berry — Mike McCready of Pearl Jam wrote, “It sounded like it came from another planet… t was glorious, like hearing Mozart for the first time.”

The group’s first LP, “Van Halen,” though it climbed no higher than No. 19 in the U.S., would ultimately be certified for sales of 10 million copies. Its next five multi- platinum albums all reached the top 10; “1984,” released in its titular year, contained the band’s first and only No. 1 single, the synthesizer-driven “Jump,” and sifted another 10 million units. Roth left the group in 1985 and they achieved even greater chart success with Sammy Hagar, but gradually lost momentum during the 1990s. They reunited with Roth for several tours and one album in the ensuing years — but by then, Van Halen had long since made their mark.

Shortlink

Hearing They Had Become Friends Again Made Me Happy At A Time I Truly Needed Happiness

Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar repaired friendship earlier this year

At the beginning of 2020, Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen said to one another, “Why can’t this be love?”

After Van Halen lost an arduous battle with throat cancer this week, Hagar revealed the two had patched up their rocky relationship earlier this year.

“Eddie and I had been texting, and it’s been a love fest since we started communicating earlier this year,” Hagar said in a note provided to the Howard Stern show. “We both agreed not to tell anyone, because of all the rumours it would stir up about a reunion, et cetera, and we both knew that wasn’t gonna happen. But he also didn’t want anyone to know about his health.”

Hagar went on to add that Van Halen stopped replying about a month ago, and he got no response after trying to reconnect last week.

“He stopped responding to me a month ago, and I figured it wasn’t good,” Hagar continued. “I reached out one more time last week, and when he didn’t respond, I figured it was a matter of time. But it came way too soon.”

Hagar famously replaced Van Halen’s original singer David Lee Roth in 1985 after the latter left the group to pursue a solo career. Along with Eddie on guitar, brother Alex on drums and Michael Anthony on bass, they recorded four platinum records, including 5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance. Hagar left the band in 1996 and was replaced briefly by Gary Cherone. He reunited with the band for a 2004 tour, but their fractious relationship continued offstage leading Hagar to exit the band once again.

Roth returned to the fold in 2007 and they embarked on three world tours over the next eight years, making one record along the way — 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth. Still, Roth and Eddie never enjoyed a particularly close relationship.

“Nope. Not even close. Not even close. This is not a golf club. This is a little closer to The Wild Bunch,” Roth said on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron in 2019.

But during the band’s final stop on its 2015 tour at the Hollywood Bowl, Roth shared a rare moment of warmth towards the guitar great. “The best years of my life; the high points of all my life — onstage with you, homeboy,” he said, in an account reported by Rolling Stone. “I will always do the half-Jesus towards you, Eddie Van Halen.”

Up until this summer, Hagar was still holding out hope for one more tour. “Eddie and I are not done,” he told Rolling Stone. “If enough water goes under the bridge before we die, (a reunion will) happen. It has to. God is going to slap us both around if he has to.”

Shortlink

Fifteen Dollars A Month Isn’t Bad, But That’s My Top Price. After This, I’ll Be Using The Internet.

Netflix Canada ups prices on standard, premium plans

The cost of streaming Netflix in Canada is about to go up for some users.

The company behind Stranger Things and Tiger King announced Thursday that it is increasing the price on some of its plans, with standard rates going up by one dollar to $14.99, and the premium option increasing by two dollars to $18.99. The streaming giant’s basic plan will remain unchanged at $9.99.

“Canadians have never had more choices when it comes to entertainment and we’re more committed than ever to delivering an experience that exceeds their expectations. Members tell us how much they value variety and we’re updating our prices so that we can continue to invest in more shows and films,” Netflix said in a statement announcing the price hike. “As always we will continue to offer a range of plans so that people can pick a price that works for their budget.”

The basic plan lets users watch on one screen at a time, while the standard plan allows two screens with HD quality video. The premium package lets viewers watch on up to four different screens and streams in ultra HD 4K video.

Last year, Netflix announced it was setting up a production hub in Toronto taking long-term leases on eight sound stages at separate studios near the city’s waterfront.

“With this commitment to Pinewood Toronto and Cinespace, we are proud to continue our investment in Canada and Canadian films and series,” Ty Warren, VP of Physical Production for Netflix, said in a statement.

The streamer has shot TheUmbrella Academy, Locke & Key, The Christmas Chronicles and Kiefer Sutherland’s political thriller series Designated Survivor, among others, locally.

Netflix’s last price increase came in November 2018, when the company upped its basic plan by a dollar, and standard and premium plans by $3.

New subscribers will pay the higher prices effective immediately, while existing users will be notified by email, as well as within the Netflix app, 30 days before the new prices are applied to them.

Shortlink

Very sad news. May he Rest In Peace. #RIPRegis

Regis Philbin, Beloved TV Host, Dead at 88

Regis Philbin, the beloved television host whose broadcast reign spanned from morning talk shows to primetime game shows, has died at the age of 88.

“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” Philbin’s family said in a statement to People.

“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”

The ever-enthusiastic Philbin — first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then with Kelly Ripa — spent 23 years as the co-host on the syndicated Live With program, appearing on the daily show from 1988 to 2011. During that tenure, Philbin also served as host of the hit ABC game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Regis Philbin, the beloved television host whose broadcast reign spanned from morning talk shows to primetime game shows, has died at the age of 88.

“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” Philbin’s family said in a statement to People.

“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”

The ever-enthusiastic Philbin — first with Kathie Lee Gifford, then with Kelly Ripa — spent 23 years as the co-host on the syndicated Live With program, appearing on the daily show from 1988 to 2011. During that tenure, Philbin also served as host of the hit ABC game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

A larger-than-life personality, “Reeg” made countless television appearances outside his usual hosting gigs, often starring as himself in memorable guest spots on shows like The Simpsons, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, 30 Rock and most recently Fresh Off the Boat.

Following a brief stint as the announcer on The Tonight Show, Philbin first became known to TV viewers as the sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. After spending the Seventies and early Eighties popping up on assorted TV series, talk shows and game shows, Philbin became a fixture of ABC New York’s The Morning Show in 1983. Two years later, Gifford joined the program as his co-host and, in 1988, the show was rebranded as Live With Regis and Kathie Lee for syndicated television.

Gifford’s tenure with the morning show ended in 2000; after a year of rotating guest hosts on Live With Regis, the long-running program permanently brought in Kelly Ripa, who remained co-host of the show following Philbin’s own retirement in 2011. Philbin was also a late-night favorite, winning over David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel (who hosted a Millionaire revival) and more.

In 2008, Philbin received the Emmy Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award, capping a career filled with wins for Outstanding Talk Show Host, Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Game Show Host. According to Variety, Philbin holds the Guinness World Record for most hours on camera on U.S. television with more than 16,700 hours over the course of his career.

Shortlink

If anyone tours next year, I’ll be surprised. If any incarnation of Van Halen tours, I’ll be doubly surprised. But here’s hoping!!

Sammy Hagar: ‘Van Halen will probably be on tour next year’

Sammy Hagar ain’t talkin’ ’bout love, but he might be talkin’ about a reunion.

The one-time frontman of Van Halen, who hasn’t played with the legendary rockers since 2004, was quizzed this week by Rolling Stone about the band’s possible future following original singer David Lee Roth’s pronouncement that the group is “finished.”

“Van Halen will probably be on tour next year,” Hagar said.

Reports surfaced in 2019 that co-founder and lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen had been battling throat cancer for a number of years, but Hagar says his former bandmate is doing better.

“Eddie had a lot of health issues, but I heard he got it together,” says Hagar. “I pray for the guy and I love the guy.”

Hagar joined the band in 1986 with 5150 after Roth departed for a solo career that never took off. He continued with the group throughout the rest of the ’80s and into the ’90s completing three other studio albums as part of Van Halen — OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and Balance. He departed in 1996 after Eddie recruited Roth for a track on the band’s first Greatest Hits package before reuniting with group in 2004 for a reunion tour.

Roth returned to the band in 2007, but original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang.

Last year in a Talkin’ Rock With Meltdown podcast with Detroit’s WRIF, Roth said he was focused on his upcoming Las Vegas residency. “Van Halen isn’t gonna be coming back in the fashion that you know. And that being said, Eddie’s (Van Halen) got his own story to tell. (It’s) not mine to tell it.”

In 2018, Anthony revealed that he had spoken to Van Halen’s manager about a reunion trek that never took place. “They were gonna try to plan a thing for this summer [of 2019],” he said. “The next thing I knew, the plug got pulled on it.”

Still, Hagar thinks the band still has more to prove as a live act when touring can resume.

“Until Ed or Alex Van Halen die, they’re not finished,” he says. “Those are two great musicians that can friggin’ do as good as most people at half-mast. As a drummer and as a guitarist and creative person, Eddie, I can’t see them ever being finished. I wish they were more active, but I think Van Halen will never be finished.”

If and when the band resumes, Hagar thinks Van Halen should honour both his era with the band and Roth’s.

“My dream tour is the Sam and Dave tour with Ed, Al and Mike,” Hagar tells RS. “Let Wolfie put his band together and open. I have a son, Andrew Hagar, who makes great music. Let Andrew open, let Wolfie play with his band in the middle and then have the Sam and Dave tour where we do an hour each. An hour with Dave songs and an hour with me.”

He continues, “I foresee it happening. I’m not trying to plant a seed like I know something is happening. I know nothing. I just know what I know in my heart and my head, which is that it has to happen. Whether it’s Sam and Dave or not, I don’t know that either. But I know that Eddie and I are not done. If enough water goes under the bridge before we die, it’ll happen. It has to. God is going to slap us both around if he has to.”

Shortlink

It’s still one of my favourite Star Wars films!!!

‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at 40: How the sequel launched ‘Star Wars’ into the future

“The Empire Strikes Back” hit theaters forty years ago, on May 21, 1980. And no Jedi mind tricks are needed to make the case that without the groundwork laid by one of the best sequels ever, “Star Wars” wouldn’t be the force that it is now.

“Empire” premiered three years after “Star Wars,” which was later subtitled “A New Hope.” With one line, “I am your father,” the second movie brought a mythic grandeur to George Lucas’ far-away galaxy, while elevating the lightsaber battle to a high art and turning the villain, Darth Vader, into the pivotal figure in the story.

The movie also introduced Yoda, the tiny Jedi master; the Emperor, establishing the master-apprentice relationship that would define the villainous Sith and their descent to the dark side; the bounty hunter Boba Fett; and Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, addressing the conspicuous lack of diversity in the original film. (After “Star Wars” opened, actor Raymond St. Jacques notably published a letter in the Los Angeles Times lamenting the “invisibility” of people of color in that film in particular, and the futuristic science fiction in general.)

Lucas didn’t direct “Empire” (that task fell to Irvin Kershner), and enlisted Lawrence Kasdan to work on the screenplay, beginning a long association with the writer-director of “The Big Chill” and “Body Heat.”

Although Lucas had plotted the story, Kasdan’s involvement helped shape and add depth to “Empire,” as it went in more mythological directions.

As Kasdan told Wired before “The Force Awakens” launched the most recent trilogy, “Nothing could be more fun than ‘A New Hope,’ but in ‘Empire’ the characters could be more interesting, more complex.” While Lucas had famously envisioned a multi-part story, as Kasdan noted, there was “no reality” to that idea until “Star Wars” became a sensation, creating the possibility of transforming the concept into a sweeping narrative.

Those heightened ambitions weren’t lost on the cast at the time. In a 2018 interview with Starwars.com, Mark Hamill recalled that “Empire” was “so much more challenging to the audience and, of course, so dark and so shocking that it ended with us defeated. … I thought, ‘This is sort of the make or break.’ If this one doesn’t resonate with the public, the future of the franchise — and at that time I was only thinking the trilogy — it’s pivotal that this movie connects.”

“Empire” connected on virtually every level, from the continued evolution of the special effects to the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia (“I Love You.” “I know”) to composer John Williams’ “The Imperial March” (a.k.a. Darth Vader’s Theme), a piece of music every bit as iconic as the opening theme.

The movie also included what can be seen, in retrospect, as the granddaddy of spoilers — shrouding all future iterations in secrecy — before that term was commonly used.

The intervening decades have yielded a mixed bag creatively speaking for Lucas’ universe, now under the stewardship of Disney. The overarching “Star Wars” name has not only generated billions in revenue, but birthed a fan base with a proprietary feeling about the source material that they can share, for better and ill, through social media channels that were as much the stuff of science fiction in 1977 as holographic chess.

Yet most of what’s best about “Star Wars” has roots in “The Empire Strikes Back” — including key characters in the latest offshoot of it, “The Mandalorian” — in the same way “The Godfather Part II” turned its predecessor from a great movie into a “saga.”

At the moment, the future of “Star Wars” is, as Yoda would say, in motion. The linchpin of its past, however, runs straight through “Empire” and the summer of 1980.

Shortlink

This is tragic news. May he Rest In Peace.

Emmy-winning comedic actor Fred Willard dies at 86

Fred Willard, the comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show and Anchorman, has died. He was 86.

Willard’s daughter, Hope Mulbarger, said in a statement Saturday that her father died peacefully Friday night. The cause of his death has not been released.

“He kept moving, working and making us happy until the very end,” Mulbarger said. “We loved him so very much! We will miss him forever.”

Willard was rarely a leading man or even a major supporting character. He specialized in small, scene-stealing appearances.

As an arrogantly clueless sports announcer on Best In Show, his character seemed to clearly know nothing about the dogs he’s supposed to talk about and asks his partner on-air: “How much do you think I can bench?” He also played the character of Frank Dunphy, the goofy father of Phil in the ABC series Modern Family.

Willard was a four-time Emmy nominee for his roles in What’s Hot, What’s Not, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family and The Bold and the Beautiful.

In Pixar’s 2008 hit WALL-E, he played Shelby Forthright, the CEO of a ubiquitous big-box chain called Buy’n’Large.

“How lucky that we all got to enjoy Fred Willard’s gifts,” said actress Jamie Lee Curtis on Twitter. She was married to Christopher Guest, who directed the mockumentary films Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.

“Thanks for the deep belly laughs Mr. Willard,” she continued.

Willard’s death comes nearly two years after his wife Mary Willard died at the age of 71. She was a playwright and TV writer, earning four Emmy nominations.

After his wife died, Willard questioned whether he would work again. But the beloved actor was brought on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to mock U.S. President Donald Trump’s “space force.” It was a reprise of his role in the 1978 NBC TV movie Space Force.

“There was no man sweeter or funnier,” Kimmel said on Twitter. “We were so lucky to know Fred Willard and will miss his many visits.”

In 2012, Willard had a brush with the law. The actor was arrested after being suspected of committing a lewd act at a Hollywood adult theatre.

Willard was fired from a narrating job and had to complete a diversion program. He called the arrest “very embarrassing” but insisted he did nothing wrong.

“It’s the last time I’m going to listen to my wife when she says, `Why don’t you go and see a movie?”‘ Willard said during an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s NBC show Late Night.

Fallon was sympathetic toward Willard, calling him a “good man” and one of his favourites.

Willard was continually beloved in Hollywood.

“Fred Willard was the funniest person that I’ve ever worked with,” Steve Carell said on Twitter. “He was a sweet, wonderful man.”

Shortlink

As you probably expected…

‘Friends’ reunion special delayed

The eagerly anticipated Friends reunion special will not be debuting in May as previously planned.

Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer had all been due to make their sitcom comeback on the HBO Max show, which had been scheduled to launch at the same time as the new streaming service, where subscribers could find all of the classic comedy’s original episodes.

However, Hollywood’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has derailed production plans, officials have confirmed to Deadline.com.

A new premiere date has yet to be revealed, but once the lockdown comes to an end, network bosses plan to bring the castmembers together and return to Warner Bros. Studio’s Stage 24 in Burbank, Calif., where the original run was shot, to continue production on the show.

The news emerges days after LeBlanc suggested the gang had managed to regroup and film the one-off special before the COVID-19 outbreak really took hold and forced everyone into self-isolation.

“We got the band back together without the instruments,” he shared on a prerecorded episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, which aired on Monday. “(It was) the six of us together, talking about the good old days.”

Friends aired for 10 seasons, concluding its decade-long run in 2004.

Shortlink

May he Rest In Peace.

Mad Magazine illustrator Mort Drucker dies at 91

Mort Drucker, the Mad Magazine cartoonist who for decades lovingly spoofed politicians, celebrities and popular culture, died Thursday at 91.

Drucker’s daughter, Laurie Bachner, told The Associated Press that he fell ill last week, having difficulty walking and developing breathing problems. She did not give a specific cause of death, and said that he was not tested for the coronavirus. He died at his home in Woodbury, N.Y., with his wife of more than 70 years, Barbara, by his side.

“I think my father had the best life anyone could hope for,” Bachner said. “He was married to the only woman he ever loved and got to make a living out of what he loved to do.”

Mad magazine was a cultural institution for millions of baby boomers, and Drucker was an institution at Mad. A New York City native, he joined Mad in its early days, the mid-1950s, and remained well into the 21st century. Few major events or public figures during that time escaped Drucker’s satire, whether Star Trek and The Godfather or Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld.

In large strokes, Drucker took in every crease, crevice and bold feature. The big jaws of Kirk Douglas and Jay Leno bulged even larger, while the ears of Barack Obama looked like wings about to take flight. Being drawn by Drucker became a kind of show business rite of passage, with Michael J. Fox once telling Johnny Carson that he knew he had made it when he appeared in a Drucker cartoon.

Drucker’s admirers also included Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz and Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas, who in the 1970s wrote a fan letter to Mad even as his lawyers were threatening to sue over a magazine caricature. (The suit was never filed.)

Besides Mad, Drucker drew for Time magazine, DC Comics, for an ad campaign for fruit and vegetables and for the heavy metal band Anthrax, which commissioned him to design art for its State of Euphoria album.

Some of Drucker’s illustrations, include a Time cover drawing of Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong playing table tennis, ended up in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. In 2017, Drucker was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

“As Mad magazine became an established [albeit absurd] voice in the nation’s cultural mainstream, many of the visual masters who showcased the magazine’s written content eventually became icons in and of themselves,” the Hall’s citation reads. “Indeed, Mort Drucker proved to be one of the most popular artists of the group that collectively came to be known as the ‘Usual Gang of Idiots.'”