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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 25, 1928

You know how all this month, I've been doing Soap Suds Sundays?  Well, as it so happens, today's Tuesday Timeline entry is also soap themed.  But that's your only clue for the time being.

In the meantime, let us see what went on in the world on October 25 through the history pages, shall we?

1760 - George III becomes King of Britain

1854 - The Battle of Balaclava takes place

1861 - The Toronto Stock Exchange opens

1881 - Artist Pablo Picasso (d. 1973) is born in Malaga, Spain

1920 - Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney, dies in prison following a 74-day long hunger strike

1924 - Actor Billy Barty (d. 2000) is born in Millsboro, Pennsylvania

1940 - Benjamin O. Davis is named the first African American general in the United States Army

1959 - Divinyl's frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett (d. 2013) is born in Geelong, Australia

1962 - Adlai Stevenson shows photographic evidence proving that Soviet missiles are installed in Cuba at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council

1973 - Actor Lamont Bentley (d. 2005) is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1977 - The OpenVMS V1.0 is released by Digital Equipment Corporation

1980 - Proceedings on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction conclude

1986 - Cyndi Lauper scores a #1 hit on the Billboard charts with "True Colors"

1992 - Singer Roger Miller dies at the age of 56

1995 - Seven high school students are killed in Fox River Grove, Illinois, when a commuter train crashes into their school bus

1996 - The movie "Thinner" is released at the box office

2008 - Journalist Anne Pressly succumbs to the injuries she received five days earlier after being brutally attacked in her home during a robbery attempt - she was just 26

2010 - Actress/producer Lisa Blount dies at the age of 53

2013 - Actress Marcia Wallace passes away at the age of 70

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous faces turning one year older; Barbara Cook, Marion Ross, Helen Reddy, Glenn Tipton, Daniel Mark Epstein, Mollie O'Brien, Glynis Barber, Nancy Cartwright, Phil Daniels, Lynn Toler, Ward Burton, Chad Smith, Nick Hancock, Darlene Vogel, Tracy Nelson, Michael Boatman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Wendel Clark, Adam Goldberg, Adam Pascal, Ed Robertson, Chely Wright, Craig Robinson, Jonathan Torrens, Sarah Thompson, Mehcad Brooks, Josh Henderson, Sara Lumholdt, Katy Perry, and Ciara.

Okay, so what date are we going back in time to this week?  Prepare yourselves, because this date is almost a century back in time.

The date?  October 25, 1928.

Obviously, we're talking about something or someone that has a connection to the world of soaps.  After all, I eluded to that in the opening paragraph.  I'll let you know that this date is the birthday of a soap actress.  It can't be for a soap opera...the oldest soap I know is "Guiding Light", and that didn't debut until 1937.

Sadly, this is an actress who is no longer among the living.  She passed away three years ago from an infection shortly after doing a series of promotions for the upcoming anniversary of the show she acted on for almost four decades. 

And although she wasn't an original character of the series - she joined the show approximately six months after its March 1973 debut on CBS - she made enough of an impact to have her character be as endeared and remembered as Victor Newman, Nikki Newman, Jack Abbott, or Paul Williams.

This is a blog about actress Jeanne Cooper, who would have been 88 years old today.  And of course, Jeanne Cooper will forever be remembered for her role as Katherine Chancellor, one of the longest serving characters on the hit daytime drama, "The Young and the Restless".  The show has been the most watched soap opera since 1988 and part of the reason why could be attributed to the many storylines that Cooper acted in during the thirty-nine years she spent on the show.

And of course, we'll get to some of her most memorable plots on the series later on.  But for those of you who think that Jeanne Cooper started her career on the soap opera, you would be mistaken.  In fact, she got bit by the acting bug a full two decades before "The Young and the Restless" filmed its very first episode!

Among her very first roles was Myra in the 1953 film "The Redhead from Wyoming".  She made several other appearances in films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, starring alongside some big names in the Hollywood industry at the time - including Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, and Maureen O'Hara among others.

During this time, she also became a wife to husband Harry Bernsen Jr. (they were married for twenty-three years before divorcing in 1977), and together they had three children, Corbin, Collin, and Caren.

(And, although all three followed their mother in the acting business, many of you probably remember Corbin the most, as he starred in eight seasons of "L.A. Law".)

But while she made several film appearances, she thrived even more on the small screen.  She received her very first Emmy nomination in 1956 for a role she played in the series "Ben Casey", and she also made appearances on "Perry Mason", "Tales of Wells Fargo", "The Big Valley", "The Twilight Zone", and the original run of "Hawaii Five-O".

Arguably though, it was on "The Young and the Restless" that Jeanne Cooper became a Hollywood legend in her own right.  There aren't too many people you could call a soap opera veteran.  Prior to Jeanne Cooper, you might say that Susan Lucci, Eileen Fulton, and Charita Bauer were the only ones to be on a soap opera longer than Cooper. 

(Those three actresses played Erica Kane on "All My Children", Lisa on "As The World Turns" and Bert Bauer on "Guiding Light" respectively.)

Certainly, as Katherine Chancellor, Jeanne Cooper went through a lot of emotional storylines.  During the entire series, her character battled alcoholism and fell off the wagon many times - but when she found sobriety, she was a trusted friend to other Genoa City residents who had gotten addicted to alcohol themselves - Nikki Newman and Neil Winters, for example.

Katherine also had to deal with a long-standing rivalry between herself and Jill Foster (Brenda Dickson/Deborah Adair/Jess Walton).  Interestingly enough, Katherine and Jill started off as good friends and they confided everything to each other.  At least, that is until Jill went after Katherine's husband and soured the friendship forever.  The rivalry was one of the longest conflicts to have ever been shown on television - over thirty years it lasted!  Even when Katherine believed that Jill was her daughter - which was later proven to be not true - these two had the ultimate love-hate relationship. 

Katherine also became the first soap character to undergo cosmetic surgery.  In 1984, she underwent a facelift - as did actress Jeanne Cooper.  The show did a good job of portraying the storyline and really gave the viewer the real story behind how cosmetic enhancements really work.  It was that touch of realism that helped draw viewers to the soap, and Cooper was one of the reasons why.

Even when she found herself in convoluted storylines where she had a doppelganger named Marge trying to take over her life, Cooper made the dual roles work and Marge would become a respected character in two separate stints - one in 1989, and one in 2008. 

(And, I'm sure that Jeanne Cooper was thrilled to have Marge come back for other reasons.  After all, the same year Marge returned was the same year she won her first Daytime Emmy Award!  Though, she would get ten nominations total.)

Sadly, Jeanne Cooper's run as Katherine Chancellor came to an end right around the time that "The Young and the Restless" was celebrating its 40th anniversary.  She filmed her last scene with Jess Walton on March 26, 2013, and that scene aired six weeks later on May 3, 2013.  It would be the last scene that Jeanne Cooper would ever film.

Five days after that scene, Cooper died in a Los Angeles hospital.  She was 84 years old.  And to say that the whole cast was devastated by her passing would be an understatement.

In fact, to pay tribute to the actress and character, the show did two things.  First, the show aired a special one-hour tribute episode in memory of Jeanne Cooper, filled with cast interviews, memorable show moments, and a final goodbye.

And secondly, a brand new set was created in memory of Katherine Chancellor.  A park was erected in the heart of Genoa City and it was fittingly named Katherine Chancellor Park.  As of 2016, the park set is still being used, though in recent shows, the park has been filmed on an outdoor soundstage instead of an indoor one.  You can see characters enjoying the sunshine, characters eating ice cream by the tree planted in memory of Delia Abbott, and a huge plaque honouring Katherine Chancellor.

I'm sure that Mrs. C would be proud. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Guiding Light - The Brent Lawrence/Marian Crane Story

Halloween weekend is coming up very quickly - next week, as a matter of fact.  And since I've decided to come up with a special month of Soap Suds Sundays, I thought that I would use the last two weeks to talk about some of the scariest soap storylines that have ever aired on daytime television.

Well, okay, maybe scary isn't the right word to use.  Campy, ridiculous, and unbelievable, yes.  But I imagine if you were the people who were heavily featured in this week's look back at soaps of yore, you'd probably be scared out of your wits.

First a question for you.  How many of you remember the 1960 film, "Psycho"?  It was the classic Alfred Hitchcock film that starred Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh.  It's the movie infamous for Leigh's character Marion Crane tragically meeting her end in a shower by way of stabbing.  The stabber is Perkins' character of Norman Bates, who kept his mother's deceased corpse hidden away while pretending to be her.  It's a movie that is really screwed up, but brilliant at the same time, and thanks to "Bates Motel", a new generation is being introduced to the macabre mind of Norman Bates.

Well, in 1995, the now cancelled soap opera "Guiding Light" decided to borrow some elements of "Psycho" to tell a story that lasted almost a whole year.  These days, soaps wrap up storylines in less than three months, so this was mighty impressive.  In fact, some may say that the storyline completely ripped off the film right down to character names.  But I think what saved this storyline from being completely farcical was the extreme talent of all the actors who were on the show at that time.  They helped viewers believe that something like that could happen.

This is the story of Brent Lawrence - and by the end of it all, three people would die, three more would almost die, and he would end up in a mental institution for dual identity disorder.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here.  By the way, keep an eye out for links...clicking on them will let you watch part of the story!

Brent Lawrence moved to Springfield in February 1995 to work for Spaulding Enterprises.  His main job was to be an accountant for the company, but really he was hired by Alan Spaulding to do some rather unethical things.  Nothing really major, though.

During the first few weeks of his job, he started to attract the attention of Lucy Cooper, who was working as the secretary of Alan's son, Alan-Michael Spaulding.  Lucy also has developed some feelings towards Alan-Michael, but Alan-Michael didn't seem interested.  As a result, Lucy started to go out with Brent, thinking that it would make Alan-Michael jealous.  But to Lucy's surprise, she found herself developing feelings for Brent, and both of them had some good dates together - including one where both of them were arrested for skinny dipping at the pool in the country club!

Unfortunately, the romance between Brent and Lucy would permanently end just a few weeks later when Brent drugged Lucy's drink and raped her.  And for weeks, Lucy refused to talk to anybody about it because she felt ashamed.  She shut everybody out of her life, including a concerned Alan-Michael.  But Alan-Michael wasn't about ready to give up on Lucy, and he made the decision to visit Lucy at the Springfield Boarding House to find out what was going on.

He arrived just as he overheard Lucy and Brent having a confrontation where Lucy admitted that Brent had raped her.  This sent Alan-Michael into a rage and after he physically assaulted Brent and threw him out of the house, he took Lucy onto his private yacht where she finally summoned the courage to tell Alan-Michael all about the rape.  Alan-Michael also gave Lucy the courage to tell her family about what happened, and her father Buzz and brother Frank (who was a police officer) vowed to protect her from Brent.  Lucy also found a sympathetic shoulder to cry on in Nadine, Buzz's ex-wife, who shared with Lucy her own tale of being raped.

Of course, finding a way to prove that Brent raped Lucy would prove difficult.  Lucy never reported the rape when it first happened, so any DNA evidence would have disappeared long ago.  Alan-Michael was really left on his own to trap Brent himself.  He thought that he could tape Brent confessing the rape, but since the tape couldn't be ruled admissible in court, it would only serve to help Brent instead of hurt him.  Of course, Brent did everything to try and avoid prosecution, even kidnapping a journalist and forcing her to write an editorial about what a great guy he was!

But when Brent returned to taunt Alan-Michael and Lucy armed with a gun, there was a struggle between both men, and Brent ended up getting shot.  When Alan-Michael and Lucy called the police to report the shooting, Brent had disappeared.  He was later found by Alan-Michael and Lucy near death on the docks and he seemed to be remorseful for his actions towards Lucy before he breathed his last breath.

Now, you would think that would be the end of the story, but here's where things get a little bit on the creepy side.  You see, Brent didn't actually die.  With help from his sister, Cassie, and Alan Spaulding, Brent left town and Alan used Brent to usurp control of Spaulding Enterprises away from his own son.  I'm guessing Alan Spaulding never won a father of the year award, huh?

A few months passed, and Lucy began to try and get her life back on track.  She and Alan-Michael grew closer and a real bond of love began to grow between them.  Lucy was concerned that she may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease from Brent when she was raped, and started attending a support group for people who were infected with HIV.  One of those people, Susan Bates, became Lucy's closest friend, and it was through Lucy that Susan began dating Alan-Michael's cousin, Nick McHenry Spaulding.

Lucy also began to get close to a new employee at Spaulding Enterprises - a middle-aged woman who was named Marian Crane.  Lucy and Marian bonded over their experiences, and Marian told Lucy a story about how she herself was raped, and how traumatic the experience was for her.  Lucy soon began to confide everything to Marian.

But what Lucy didn't realize was that Marian was not the woman she thought she was.  Marian Crane was really Brent Lawrence in disguise!  It appears as though Brent was inspired by the film "Mrs. Doubtfire" and secretly dressed himself up as a woman in order to get closer to Lucy so he could plan his revenge.

TRIVIA:  To get prepared for the dual role, actor Frank Beaty - who played Brent/Marian - enrolled in a charm school for men who wanted to be women!  Now that's taking your craft seriously!  And to be fair, he did a phenomenal job in those roles.

But as Brent began to play Marian more and more, he became extremely unhinged, out of touch with reality, and just plain dangerous to be around.  He hacked into the hospital records for Cedars Hospital and changed Lucy's HIV test to a positive result - though Lucy would have a second test done which confirmed that she did not have the virus.  And when Brent tried to rig that test, he was caught in the act by Reva Shayne.  Fortunately for Brent, Reva was living in an Amish paradise when he raped Lucy so he let her go - and yes, I realize what I just typed, but that's another story for another day.

Of course, that's not to say that Brent didn't have it in him to kill people.  Dressed as Marian, he silenced three people permanently.  His first victim was a random stranger named Lucky Fowler who ironically enough tried to rape Marian the same way Brent attacked Lucy! 

His second victim was Nadine, who had suspected that Marian would be in grave danger.  But after Brent/Marian caught Nadine snooping through his belongings, he took a candlestick and beat Nadine to death with it.  He disposed of her body in the water by the docks, thinking that nobody would suspect that she was dead as she had made plans to leave Springfield prior to her death anyway.

His third victim was Detective Patrick Cutter - who never suspected that Marian was Brent Lawrence.  In fact, Cutter tried to go out on a date with Marian!  This lead to some confusion when Cutter tried to write his killer's name in his own blood, but he only got as far as writing the first three letters - which made some suspect that Lucy's friend Marcus Williams was really the culprit.  Fortunately, Marcus was proven innocent not long after.

Still oblivious to the fact that Marian was Brent, Lucy invited her to spend Thanksgiving with her and Alan-Michael, and Marian accepted, thinking that this would be the opportunity to get rid of both Lucy and Alan-Michael once and for all.  But in the midst of sabotaging Alan-Michael's car, Alan-Michael and Lucy accidentally run over Brent!  And you can imagine what sorts of questions the doctors would be asking if they discovered that their female patient was really male.

Certainly, Dr. Rick Bauer was concerned about it, but Marian claimed that she was undergoing gender reassignment surgery and that as a doctor he needed to abide by the patient-doctor confidentiality agreement and not tell anybody.  Rick agreed, and the charade continued.

And poor Susan ended up in the crossfire as Brent tried to kill Susan in - of all places, a bathtub.  Susan managed to avoid getting murdered, but she slipped and fell and hit her head so hard she was unconscious for several days.  Susan would recover from her ordeal, but she wouldn't be able to tell anyone who attacked her until it was too late.

That's because Susan woke up around New Years Eve, and Lucy was kidnapped by Brent at the New Years Eve party at the country club.  Brent held Lucy captive in the old lighthouse (largely abandoned since a fire burned down part of it two years earlier).  It was here that Brent revealed to a horrified Lucy that he killed Lucky, Nadine, and Cutter, and that he tried to kill Susan all while befriending her as Marian.  Lucy also discovered the reason why Brent suddenly went insane.  When Brent was a child, his mother would be verbally and physically abusive towards him, and as a result of this, he found himself becoming unusually violent towards women as a side effect.  While this certainly didn't redeem Brent in Lucy's eyes, Lucy did take advantage of this fact by trying to break down Brent's psyche and pretend that she was his abusive mother.

Of course, Alan-Michael tried to rescue Lucy from Brent but Brent shot him in the arm and kept both of them hostage.  Once Alan and Buzz realized this, they knew they had to work fast before Brent did anything to harm them.  Alan worked out a deal with Brent.  He would give him ten million dollars plus a jet to anywhere in the world he wanted, but he had to let Alan-Michael and Lucy go in exchange.  And thanks to Reva, she managed to follow Brent to the lighthouse and alerted everybody of their whereabouts.

This, of course lead to the epic struggle between Alan-Michael, Lucy, and Brent - and if you click HERE, you can watch the February 15, 1996 episode of "Guiding Light", which featured Brent's takedown.

In the end, Alan-Michael and Lucy were saved, and Brent reverted back to his Marian persona - likely to avoid getting put in jail and instead being housed in a mental asylum for the rest of his life.  We never did see him come back on the show before its cancellation in 2009, so that's the logical conclusion.  And Alan-Michael and Lucy got married at Universal Studios and left the show as a married couple shortly after the show celebrated its 60th anniversary (the show debuted in 1937 on radio).  Sadly, the marriage didn't last, but it was nice to think that they were happy together for a few years.

Now, as far as any lasting repercussions of the Brent/Lucy/Alan-Michael storyline - well, there weren't really any - though the lighthouse was eventually restored and reopened to the public over the next few years.  But during the 1995-96 season, this was one storyline that had just as much fright as there was camp.  And it was one of the main reasons why "Guiding Light" stayed on the air as long as it did.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 31 - The Bands Break Up

Last week on Jem Reviewed, Jem went nuts.  No, wait.  It was Clash pretending to be Jem.  Never mind.  This week, we have the episode that many fans love.  And many of these fans seem to have a lot of fun writing fan fiction stories which feature the stars of this episode in a romantic relationship.

Myself?  I don't see it as such...but then again, the sexual attraction between cartoon characters never really did anything for me.

This is Episode 31: The Bands Break Up.  Only, they don't really break up, they just lose a member each.  The more accurate title would be something like "The Third Band".  But I'm babbling.  Let's go on with the blog.

We open with the Holograms brainstorming ideas for new songs.  And as we've already established a couple of episodes ago, Kimber seems to be the driving force behind much of the lyrics of some of the Holograms songs.  But Kimber is also the youngest member of the band so she has to fight to be heard.  Believe me, I understand her completely.  I'm the youngest in my family, and sometimes I feel like I have to shout to be heard. 

In Kimber's case, she kicks her keyboard onto the floor in a temper tantrum.  Well, I suppose that would work too in a kindergarten kid sort of way.

Kimber's frustrated that the other members of the band seem to not take her opinions seriously and how they treat her like a kid even though she's been in the band longer than Raya.  Okay, she doesn't say it like that, but she does make an accusation that the rest of the band doesn't appreciate her, and she decides that she no longer wants to be a Hologram.  What's this, like the third time she's wanted to quit the band?  Jem seems to think that she'll be back after she cools down, but the other Holograms seem concerned.

It seems as though Jem and the Holograms aren't the only band to have a disgruntled member.  We find out that Stormer is getting disenchanted with her bandmates as well.  They've completely rejected the song that Stormer wrote and are making fun of her.  It appears that Stormer is the main lyricist for the Misfits as well, which really shocks me.  I can see her penning such songs as say "Designing Woman" or "I Like Your Style".  But you expect me to believe that a sweet, timid thing like Stormer would write "Winning is Everything" or "Take a Hike, Jack"?  Talk about suspending reality!

As it so happens, even the most meek of us have a boiling point, and Stormer storms off when Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta make one joke too much.  I guess the Misfits didn't appreciate Stormer's new lyrics which she called meaningful and sensitive.

Later that night, Kimber finds herself at a nightclub called "The Scene", where the entertainment happens to be The Limp Lizards.  And they seem to be singing "Broken Glass".  Again.  Seriously, Limp Lizards, you released that song two years ago.  Get another single.

As Kimber sits down to enjoy a thick peach shake that's really thick, Stormer sits down and orders a banana split, a Vanilla Coke, a whole chicken, twelve pizzas, and a quadruple layer chocolate cake.  Okay, I may be embellishing here, but Stormer definitely seems to have more of a sweet tooth than Kimber.  And naturally, Kimber and Stormer start trading barbs with each other as they have been brainwashed into thinking that they can never be friends as they are in rival bands.  I'd almost compare their relationship to that of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but I don't think Kimber nor Stormer are that level of insanity.

But maybe the owner of the club IS insane.  Because she seems to think that Stormer and Kimber should perform a song together!  It can't hurt.  You can only take so much of the Limp Lizards' "Broken Glass" before wanting to swallow broken glass.

Reluctantly, Stormer and Kimber agree to play a song together.  That song can be heard below.

First, let's get Jem Trivia out of the way.  Kimber's voice is performed by Florence Warner, while Stormer's voice is done by Lani Groves.  At first, I thought it was the same woman singing both parts, but there is a slight difference if you listen to the vocals for "I'm Okay".  And, do I think "I'm Okay" is okay?  I do.  In fact, it's probably one of the better songs of the series so far.  I guess under the right circumstances, a Hologram and a Misfits can sing together!  Though, don't expect Aja, Jetta, Shana, and Roxy to sing together in a Bangles cover band anytime soon.

Kimber and Stormer do such a great job that the club owner offers to hire them to play all week long.  And thus, the Kimber/Stormer friendship has officially begun.

But at least one person isn't all that thrilled with who Kimber has been hanging around with.  Jerrica notices that Kimber has been going out late and has apparently put an entire coat of Glidden cotton candy pink paint all over her eyes, and is concerned that something is wrong.  But Kimber - who is still sore over destroying a thousand dollar keyboard over her band ignoring her - refuses to tell Jerrica what is going on.

And when Stormer picks her up to take her to their nightly gig at The Scene, the rest of the Holograms are shocked that Kimber would ever spend her time with a diseased bedsore like Stormer!

Okay, they don't actually call Stormer that.  They're probably thinking it though!

Meanwhile at Misfits Music, the Misfits are starting to realize that without Stormer as their lyrical and moral compass, they're just three aging old hags with zero talent and zero heart.  Naturally, Pizzazz blames Stormer for this latest turn of events because it's not as if SHE did anything that would make her feel unappreciated.  This is one of those cases in which Pizzazz is completely clueless in social skills.

But regardless of the feelings of the Holograms and Misfits, Kimber and Stormer have developed a really strong bond, and it appears that at least where Kimber is concerned, Stormer's influencing her in many ways.  I mean, look at what Kimber's wearing.  She looks like what might have happened if Daisy Duke became a heavy metal princess!

Apparently, the music that Kimber and Stormer have been making together has attracted the attention of Dave Danielson, who represents a company called "Can't Dance Records".  Gee, I wonder who owns that record label?  Elaine from "Seinfeld"?

Anyway, it appears as though Dave has an offer for the girls.  Since they work so well together, why not release a full album of songs?  Kimber and Stormer seem to relish this idea for different reasons.  Stormer wants to be able to write the kind of songs that she has been yearning to write ever since she became a Misfit.  And Kimber wants to take her solo success and cram it down Jerrica's throat!  Okay, did Kimber and Stormer switch personalities too?

Of course, Kimber and Stormer don't have the cash flow to make a record themselves, so Kimber decides to put up her half of Starlight Music as collateral.  Because that just sounds like such a winning idea, you know.  In fact, it seems kind of suspicious that it's DAVE that brings up that fact and not Kimber.  I smell a set-up.

Ah, yes.  I knew Eric would pop up like a pimple on prom night!  I guess we now know who owns Can't Dance Records!  Listen to this latest scheme.  Eric plans on purposely botching the record release planned by Kimber and Stormer so that the contract that Kimber signed would cause him to own her half of Starlight Music.  And as we know, if Eric owns half of the recording company, Jem, the Starlight Foundation, and the whole world would die a slow and painful death.  And I'm being melodramatic.  Apologies.

Of course, Kimber and Stormer aren't aware of this plan just yet.  They're too busy dressing like hoochies on Lindsey Pearce's show and basking in the glow of success.  And by this point, both the Misfits and Jem and the Holograms have had enough of this and decide to put an end to any future Kimber/Stormer collaborations with what I consider to be one of the best mash-ups in the show so far.

I've mentioned before that I don't like the mash-ups between Jem and the Holograms and the Misfits, but with "Bad Influence", I have to say that this is one exception to the rule.  Granted, the song itself is basically trashing both Kimber and Stormer, but the way the song is presented, as well as the lyrics and vocal stylings of Ellen Bernfeld and Britta Phillips.  Pure genius.

Too bad their song doesn't work.  If anything, the performance just solidifies the friendship between Kimber and Stormer, and they vow to be best friends forever as they one day aspire to be a part of the Lilith Fair Festival or Coachella or some other festival.  I'm guessing this was also the moment in which the lesbian fan fics started to get popular.

Don't worry though.  You can always count on Jerrica to suck the fun out of a room.  In this case, Jerrica comes across the contract that Kimber signed while searching through her belongings...because invasion of privacy is always a guarantee that your sisterly bonds will improve.  Just ask D.J. and Stephanie Tanner.  It's also here that Jerrica informs Kimber of the Can't Dance scandal that has Eric's name written all over it.  Kimber is horrified that Eric seemingly has gotten the better of them - but then Kimber recognizes that her self-esteem has greatly improved due to her friendship with Stormer and she flat out tells Jerrica that she and Stormer WILL finish the record.  I...I never thought I'd say this, but I'm absolutely on Kimber's side here!  I must be delirious.

Of course, that's not to say that Kimber and Stormer's recording session at Flash Recording Studios will go off without a hitch.  With horrible back-up singers, musicians that can't decide what genre of music to play, and tapes constantly breaking, Kimber and Stormer wonder if they've gotten in over their heads.  Stormer actually comes up with the great idea to seek help from outside, but stubborn as an ox Kimber rejects the idea, saying that they don't need help from her sister to get them out of this.

But as Jem and the Holograms are finding out, they might need Kimber more than they realized when they play one of their worst concerts ever.  At first, the Holograms start blaming each other for what went wrong, but as they start to come to their senses, they come to the conclusion that they would be nothing without Kimber.  How's that humble pie taste, ladies?

And Kimber and Stormer are realizing why they have been having so much trouble with their record.  When they arrive at the studios to lay down Stormer's vocals for the remainder of the songs, they overhear the sound engineer talking with Eric on the phone and they find out the whole evil plan.  Impulsively, Kimber and Stormer fire their engineer and throw him out of the building, but they come to realize that by doing that, they've more or less made the job of releasing their record more impossible.

To add to the stress, the Misfits decide that they want to get Stormer back into their group...and they figure the best way to do this is to bribe Stormer with cold hard cash.  Jetta gives her practically every credit card that existed in the 1980s and tells her that if she rejoins the band, her credit will have no limitations.  Why do I get the feeling that somewhere out there, Harvey Gabor is about to have a major heart attack from shock?

As Stormer starts racking up bills driving from store to store in her brand new Porsche, Kimber is wondering what is taking her singing partner so long to get to the recording studios. 

A message from Stormer sadly confirms what Kimber's greatest fear was all along.  Stormer was leaving the project to rejoin the Misfits.  And with that, Kimber is left to lick her wounds and sign over her half of Starlight Music.

So, why does Stormer seem to look heartsick over it?  Pretty bizarre behaviour for someone who won a golden ticket to an endless fortune.

The next morning, a Cheshire cat grinning Eric Raymond is gloating at his success at scamming half of Starlight Music from Kimber, and Kimber is about ready to get a full on lecture from Jerrica about reading between the lines.  It's all such an embarrassing scene all around.

But wait!  Stormer crashes the meeting with a tape in her hands!  And no, she doesn't use it to tie Eric to his chair and throw him through his office window - though I'd actually sort of like to see that happen.  No, Stormer explains that she went into the studio late last night to lay down her vocals so that the record would be finished on time.  Stormer explains that while the Misfits tried to buy her off with fancy gifts, Kimber just showed her genuine and sincere friendship...and that meant more to Stormer than any dollar amount.

The show of friendship between Kimber and Stormer is touching - but naturally Eric has to rub salt in the already festering wound by telling Kimber and Stormer that he will refuse to fund any promotion tied to their album, making it a failure.  I should also note that the contract that Kimber signed also stated that the album had to sell a certain number of copies.  Nice.

At least this time around, Kimber and Stormer realize that they do need Jerrica's assistance, and after a brief conversation - surprisingly without the words "I told you so" dropped in for flavour - Jerrica, Aja, Shana, and Raya agree to help Kimber and Stormer sell their record to the masses. 

This leads to our final song - a rehash of a song from Episode 3.  Amusingly, the song "Gettin' Down to Business" has now been used in both episodes where Kimber has quit the band!  So, let it be known...if you hear this song played, Kimber has thrown a temper tantrum.  The song itself is still meh, but it does a good job of showing how hard everyone works to make the album a success.

And how awesome that the album title is called "Back to Back"?  It's like symbolism for how Kimber and Stormer have each other's backs! 

It appears as though the promotion worked!  Back to Back has gone double platinum!  Starlight Music is saved!  And Kimber and Stormer are the real heroes of it all!

Jerrica's so shocked by the success - I wonder if that has to do with the fact that Back to Back sold two million copies while "Glitter and Gold" only sold 500,001 - that she almost hires Stormer to be a Hologram!  Geez, you only added Raya three episodes ago!  You have a band, not a Carnegie Hall choir!

Of course before Stormer can say anything, Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta barge into Jerrica's office and practically beg Stormer to come back telling her that they really need her and that the Misfits are nothing without her.

With a heavy heart, Stormer tells Jerrica that she cannot accept her offer, and a crestfallen Kimber is saddened to see that Stormer is set to go back to the band that held her back.

But wait!  Stormer's friendship with Kimber has improved her self-esteem and she verbally yells at her bandmates by telling them that they are not allowed to walk all over her and that she is an equal partner from now on!  Whoa!  This Stormer's awesome! 

Of course, the episode ends with Kimber and Stormer agreeing that they wouldn't change a thing about what happened and that they genuinely found out a lot about themselves by allowing a friendship to happen between the two of them.  Okay, so the episode sort of ends the same way an episode of "Full House" would end, but it's still a decent ending.

In fact, I dare say that the friendship between Kimber and Stormer has actually made both of the characters better!  Kimber became a little more mature and less impulsive while Stormer grew a backbone and demanded respect!  It would be nice to see if there are any more instances of the friendship between the two in future episodes because it definitely worked.  At least they didn't use Aja and Roxy.  Those two would likely kill each other.

Next week - Jem gets gaslighted!  Very appropriate for Halloween weekend, no?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 18, 1984

Although this week's Tuesday Timeline has a tragic twist to it, it definitely changed the way that actors looked at various props - and how no matter how much effort producers take to make movie and television sets safe, there's always a certain amount of risk that we all take when we go to our respective workplaces.

Before we get to this week's subject, let's have a look at some of the other events that took place on October 18.

1356 - Basel, Switzerland is completely destroyed by an earthquake

1648 - The first American labor organization is established by Boston shoemakers

1775 - African-American poet Phillis Wheatley is freed from slavery

1779 - The Franco-American Siege of Savannah is lifted during the American Revolutionary War

1851 - Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" is first published

1867 - After purchasing Alaska from Russia for over seven million dollars, the United States formally takes over the territory

1898 - The United States takes possession of Puerto Rico from Spain

1919 - Former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau (d. 2000) is born in Montreal, Quebec

1922 - The BBC is established

1927 - Actor George C. Scott (d. 1999) is born in Wise, Virginia

1935 - Actor Peter Boyle (d. 2006) is born in Norristown, Pennsylvania

1938 - Singer Ronnie Bright (d. 2015) is born in New York City

1945 - The wedding of Juan Peron and Eva "Evita" Duarte is held in Argentina

1947 - Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro (d. 1997) is born in The Bronx, New York

1954 - Texas Instruments announces the invention of the first transistor radio

1966 - Cosmetics businesswoman Elizabeth Arden dies at the age of 87

1969 - The Temptations' "I Can't Get Next To You" reaches #1 on the Billboard Charts

2000 - Actress/singer Julie London dies at the age of 74

2008 - Rihanna and T.I. score a #1 hit on the Billboard charts with "Live Your Life"

2012 - Professional wrestler Marvin "Brain Damage" Lambert dies, aged 34

And for celebrity birthdays, I'd like to wish Chuck Berry, Dawn Wells, Mike Ditka, Cynthia Weil, Joe Morton, Joe Egan, Sheila White, Pam Dawber, Chuck Lorre, Arliss Howard, Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Martina Navratilova, Jon Lindstrom, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Erin Moran, Wynton Marsalis, Vincent Spano, Curtis Stigers, Dave Price, Angela Visser, Eric Stuart, Lisa Chappell, Rachel Nichols, Chris L. McKenna, Ne-Yo, Josh Gracin, Freida Pinto, Esperanza Spalding, Lindsey Vonn, Zac Efron, Bristol Palin and Carly Schroeder a very happy day indeed!

Now, as I mentioned before, today's Tuesday Timeline date is one that surrounds a tragic event caused by an accident that was easily preventable.

For it was on October 18, 1984 that this actor would draw his last breath.

Now, chances are, if I say the name Jon-Erik Hexum, you're probably not going to have any idea who I am talking about.  It's okay if you don't.  When I first read about him, I didn't know who he was either.  His career was one that burned out almost as quickly as it started.  He was just 26 years old when he died - a really young age for anybody to go.  And at the time of his death, he was just starting to make a name for himself as an actor.  He starred in the short lived television series "Voyagers" from 1982-1983, and in 1983 he was cast alongside Joan Collins in the made for television film "Making of a Male Model".  By the time 1984 had rolled around, he had his first role in a motion picture - a small part in "The Bear" - and he was the lead in the television series "Cover Up", which debuted on CBS a month before he died.

I have a feeling that most of you probably won't remember the show "Cover Up", so here's a brief description.  Hexum played the role of Mac Harper, a CIA operative who also worked as a male model so that his cover wouldn't be blown.  He has been recruited by fashion photographer Dani Reynolds (played by Jennifer O'Neill) in hopes that he will be able to find the perpetrators responsible for the murder of her husband.  The reason for Mac posing as a male model is to draw less attention towards them, but also gives Dani the opportunity to tag along as the photographer.

In October 1984, the show had already taped the first six episodes of the show, and on October 12, the cast and crew were busy filming the seventh.  In one of the scenes for that episode, it required Hexum to load a .44 Magnum handgun with bullets.  Now, obviously it would be irresponsible for any film crew to leave a loaded pistol lying around the set, so instead the gun was loaded with blanks.  Though, the gun that they used for the scene was a real pistol - which might have been the first mistake.

When the scene was filmed, the director wasn't happy with how the scene looked, so he decided that he would shoot the scene over again, which meant a delay in production.  By this time, Jon-Erik Hexum was starting to grow impatient and he was looking for ways to pass the time.  This leads to mistake number two - the pistol that was used in the scene.  There are varying reports as to whether or not Hexum knew that the gun was real, but regardless, Hexum decided that he would have a little fun with the gun.

Fun in the way of a little Russian Roulette.

He had unloaded five of the six blanks from the gun, leaving one round inside.  And thinking that the blanks were absolutely harmless, he spun it around, aimed the gun at his right temple, and pulled the trigger.

This was mistake #3...and it would prove to be fatal.

The science of blanks being used in guns is to simulate a real gunshot.  It sort of has the same science behind it as one of those cap guns that you might have played with as a kid.  When the trigger is pulled with blanks inside, there is a little bit of gunpowder that is wrapped up in either a plastic casing or a paper casing, and most times, shooting a blank is perfectly harmless.  Loud, but harmless.

But there is a warning that states that blanks should NEVER be fired close to a person's body.  Because even though there are no bullets in the gun, the force that is used to shoot the blank can cause serious injury to the person - especially if placed next to a vulnerable area such as the ear, eye, throat - or temple.

In Hexum's case, when he pulled the trigger, the force of the blank caused Hexum some blunt force trauma.  Part of Hexum's skull was impacted, and pierced the inside of his brain, which lead to severe hemorrhaging.  Hexum was knocked out almost immediately after firing the blank and was rushed to the hospital.  Despite the efforts by medical staff to save his life - he reportedly was operated on for five hours the night of the accident - he died six days later on October 18, 1984 from severe blood loss from the brain, rendering him brain dead.

Hexum was just weeks from his 27th birthday when he died.

Suffice to say, the show "Cover Up" never quite recovered from the loss of its male star.  The show went on - with Antony Hamilton taking the place of Hexum in a new role for the remainder of the 1984-1985 season.  But despite the show's attempt to keep "Cover Up" on the air, it was cancelled at the end of the show's first season.

As for Jon-Erik Hexum, his death was just one reminder that one can't be too careful when it comes to safety on a film set - and that sometimes you really have to second guess your decisions and trust that things are how they are supposed to be.  But if there is any positive message that can come from this, it's that Jon-Erik Hexum was an organ donor.  And because of that, he managed to help a lot of people recover burned skin tissue, regained their ability to see, and allowed them to add several more years to their lives. 

If he had lived, Jon-Erik Hexum would be almost fifty-nine years old.  It's almost impossible to predict what his career would have been like.  Would he have continued to get roles where his body seemed to be the main focus - such as on "Baywatch"?  Or would he have gone on to do great things in the acting world and earn himself an Oscar nomination?  Or, perhaps he might have abandoned acting altogether and focused on another career path. 

No matter how you look at it though, those were dreams that never really came true for Jon-Erik Hexum.