Issue 20.     This edition is for the week of August 6--13, 2000.
Radioactive Television off to a good start. "The Horror Writer" debuts.
Fans worldwide mourn the death of "Obi-Wan Kenobi", Sir Alec Guinness
  With a touch of sad irony, the above headline would've made the iconic British actor wince with embarrassment. Reputed to hate Star Wars and his participation in it, it is the one role that guaranteed his place in history more than any other, even, in my opinion, his role as Col. Nicholson in 1957's Bridge Over the River Kwai for which he won an Oscar.
   An ailing Guinness was admitted to a hospital in England over the weekend where he died at the age of 86, apparently from liver cancer.

    Sir Alec was one of the last surviving members of Britain's "greatest generation" of actors, which included Sir Lawrence Olivier, Sir Ralph Richardson, and Sir John Geilgud. Guinness was a tall man with large, expressive blue eyes and otherwise unremarkable features "a player's countenance,designed for whatever might turn up," critic J.C. Trewin once said.
His precise, modulated baritone voice was distinctive, but if ever there was an actor who never played himself, it was Alec Guinness.
 "I had countless first impressions of him," playwright Ronald Harwood wrote. "Each time I saw him, in films, later in the theater, I had the uncanny feeling I had never before watched him act."
In parts such as Fagin in "Oliver Twist," Guinness was barely recognizable behind his makeup and costume.
But with "The Bridge on the River Kwai" in 1957 he established that his versatility had nothing to do with disguise. He won an Oscar for his performance as the disciplined, inflexible Col.Nicholson in a World War II Japanese prison camp.
Three years later, he played Nicholson's opposite the boorish, hard-drinking Scottish Lieut.-Col. Jock Sinclair in "Tunes of Glory."
He once described it as his favorite film role "perhaps the best thing I've done."
Guinness had a long film partnership with director David Lean, beginning in 1946 as Herbert Pocket in "Great Expectations, "through "Oliver Twist,"  "The Bridge on the River Kwai" "Dr. Zhivago," and finally "A Passage to India" in 1984.
RE-INTRODUCED BY "STAR WARS"
His 1977 role as Obi-Wan Kenobi introduced him to a new generation of filmgoers and made him financially secure. "I might never have been heard of again if it hadn't been for 'Star Wars'," he said. Yet, when asked, he had nothing much good to say about the film series or it's creator, George Lucas. "Bloody bunch of drivel" is about what he'd likely say about his lines in Star Wars as Jedi mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi. After tiring of talking "mumbo jumbo", he petitioned Lucas to kill off his character so he wouldn't have to return. Of course, he did return, albeit as a ghostly presence, in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
His considerable fame left Guinness unmoved.
"You can only be your own personality," he once said. "And I'm just happy to be an actor. If I tried to swan around, I wouldn't know how to behave. If I tried to be a superstar, I'd be a laughing stock!"
 MYSTERY OF BIRTH
Born April 2, 1914, Guinness was an illegitimate child who did not know the name on his birth certificate was Guinness until he was 14.
"I have to admit that my search for a father has been my constant speculation for 50 years," he said. The mysterious father, whose identity he never learned, provided money for private schools, but not university. Guinness worked briefly as an advertising copywriter, spending his pound a week salary on theater tickets, and survived on sandwiches and apples given him by friends at work.
After scraping together the funds for some elementary lessons, he won a place at the Fay Compton School of Acting. There, John Gielgud judged the end-of-term performance and chose him as the prizewinner.
  In one of Guiness's first stage roles in a Geilgud play, Guinness met actress Merula Salaman, whom he married in 1938. They had a son Matthew and remained happily married, living in a country house in Petersfield, 50 miles southwest of London.
Sheila (played by Renee Carrick) loses her head during an attack!
  Regular readers of this newsletter will remember how long I've been talking up and talking about Radioactive TV's "The Horror Writer"---my maiden voyage (so to speak) into episodic television---and how bogged down post-production had become. (Researching the newsstand Archives reveals I've been talking about it since issue number 1!) I confess to having nightmares that it would never see the light of day.
  Well, hallelujah, the project came to an end and debuted on Tampa Public Access television last Thursday and Saturday. It wasn't a smooth editing process, what with me in the suite at Public Access until 3 hours before airtime!!
  The half-hour show begins with the "origin of Radioactive TV" with "The Lone Mutant of Atomic Beach". (As a lifelong comics fan, I gotta have an "origin issue.") This mutant of distant post-nuke Tampa's future discovers the last working television on the planet has washed up on his beach. It's sources of power, signal and program are unknown. He just knows after sundown, a new episode of a strange and mysterious program comes on the same time every week.
  Episode 1: The Horror Writer is the current episode. An obsessive horror writer named Mike Randall (Clearwater actor Mike Scott)is desperate to make a sale to a sleazy skid-row publisher named Bill Callas (Tampa's own, Ray Koehler). In his fervor in creating the "ultimate horror", Mike Randall inadvertantly releases his own untapped horror, which manifests itself as a deadly and vindictive monster.
  Rounding out the cast are Clearwater's Eric Avant as Mike's friend "Steve" (Eric's band YETI provides much of the music on the soundtrack) and the lovely and talented Renee Carrick, from Tampa, as the ditzy secretary, "Sheila".
  Loyal readers will recall my favorable review of Tampa indy feature "Sins of the Blood" in issue 7. (If you haven't read that classic issue yet, please do so ASAP.) Renee's starring role as half-breed vampire Aria is stunning. Ray Koehler was also excellent in "Sins" as Uncle Julian.
    It is worth noting that "Sins" director, young Tampa filmmaker Terence Nuzum, was the catalyst in bringing THW (which I wrote, based on his 5-page spec script, "The Utter Horror"), Ray, Renee and me together.
  Happily, all parties involved in both productions had largely favorable reactions to The Horror Writer. Copies of this episode will soon be available on a made-to-order basis.
The Kreature from Klearwater's Korner  by John Lewis
  Hey gang! The Kastle is bustling with activity, so it is once again time for me to emerge from the Korner with another Kreature Kommentary.
  Lots of comics news this time around. Hold on, because we're going on a ride through the world of Crossgen Comics. Mark Alessi and Gina Villa swear they're in for the long haul as they prersent a whole new comics universe full of neat new worlds and colorful characters. All this and a new pantheon of gods! Shades of Mt. Olympus, it doesn't get any better than this.
  I read the first two issues of each of their four titles before kommenting and I can tell you I'm impressed. For the most part, the wolds seem to be a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. The unification is that the main character(s) of each story bears a "sigil", a gift from the gods, and also the crossgen logo as well. June 7, 2000 saw the release of Mystic, followed by Sigil, Scion, and Meridian respectively.
  Crossgen promises to be there for the fans and on time. They also promise not to bog down the reader with multiple cover issues and endless crossovers.(Thanx!) With all he extra money you'll have they even include a list of other company's books that their creators enjoy! How's that for confidence?
  The books look good and the talent behind them is an impressive group with some very well known players. Who knows, maybe one day we'll all be yelling, "Make Mine Crossgen!" (Hey, it could happen.)
  Now, if you're into history, which many fans of "Pop Culture" are, then you don't want to miss "The Man of Two Worlds"; the story of Julius Schwartz' life in both sci-fi and comics. It is written by Schwartz and Brian M Thompsen with an afterword from Harlan Ellison. Schwartz is the man who, along with other sci-fi insiders of the time--most notably Forrest J Ackerman--basically created organized fandom. He started the first literary agency for sci-fi authors and created the first "fanzine"--The Time Traveller--in 1932. He was there at the world's first sci-fi convention (again along with Ackerman). In the late 50s he was instrumental in creating what would be known as "The Silver Age" of comics.
  I highly recommend this book to any serious science fiction or comics fan. My only complaint is that the book is not long enough! Having met Mr. Schwartz on several occasions, I can insure he has many stories left to tell.
  Before Nolan banishes me back to the Korner, I've got to tell you about the best character you'll never see: Hollow Man. Go see it! Next issue, some BIG news about a certain gigantic Japanese lizard we all know and love. Outta here.
   "Kreature from Klearwater's Korner" is 2000 by John Lewis

 

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