Dalton investigates why ''Star Wars'' guru George Lucas has yet to take his rightful place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Plus: admiring Don Cheadle, and more notes on ''Viva Laughlin''
Our plea for George Lucas…
Ricky Martin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame the other week, making him the first, but perhaps not last, member of Menudo to be immortalized in such a fashion. I’ve actually got nothing against Martin, but am more than a little concerned about the Walk of Fame these days. It is supposed to honor the crème de la crème of entertainers, ones whose contributions to the arts are of the highest caliber. That’s why you’ll see names like Clark Gable, Orson Welles, and Katharine Hepburn sprawled out on the sidewalks of Hollywood and Vine. But let’s take a look at some recent honorees, the caliber of which I can’t help but call into question. There’s Terry Bradshaw, who apparently was celebrated for his ability to multitask by screaming out football highlights while simultaneously sassing Howie Long. There’s Donald Trump, who was a reality-show sensation for two seasons and an afterthought for four (and counting!). And then, of course, there’s David Spade, whose star, it should be noted, was unveiled after the premieres of both Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Repeat: After Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts.
Inclusions like these are even more egregious when you consider one person who has apparently not been deemed worthy of such an honor: George Lucas. I didn’t know if the Lucas ban was some sort of punishment for the Ewoks cartoon or 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special (the first half of which is spoken almost entirely in Wookiee), but I intended to find out. After all, even Alan Ladd Jr., a studio exec whose crowning achievement was, yes, greenlighting Star Wars, received a star before the bearded wonder — just a month ago, in fact.
Needing answers, I placed a call to the chairman of the Walk of Fame Selection Committee, Johnny Grant. ”You will put George Lucas on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” I said in my best Jedi mind-trick voice. ”Of course!” said Grant. (Damn, that thing actually works!) ”If he would let his people submit him, he would be approved overnight!” You see, anyone can nominate a celebrity for induction, but the nominee’s management has to also send a letter of agreement, and then the honoree must actually show up at the ceremony if inducted. So why hasn’t Lucas agreed to be on the Walk of Fame? I mean, the guy took time out of his busy schedule to appear on The O.C., so you’d figure he could show up for a freakin’ star ceremony. True, there is also the matter of a $25,000 price tag for ”creation and installation of the star, as well as maintenance,” but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that George Lucas just might have $25K squirreled away under a mattress somewhere. (Plus, I’m certainly not picking up the tab after spending close to 25 grand on various Star Wars VHS and DVD sets.)
So how about it, George — care to finally see your name plopped down next to other Hollywood luminaries like Rick Dees, Leeza Gibbons, and Pat Morita? To paraphrase Revenge of the Sith, you’re either with them or you’re their enemy. (And honestly, who doesn’t want to be with the guy who penned ”Disco Duck”?) Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing where Lucas stands because the man has gone as silent as Cloud City’s Lobot — refusing to comment to EW on his possibly self-imposed snub. C’mon. It’s time to put the star in Star Wars, George. You have a fan that demands answers, a Walk of Fame that demands legitimacy, and scores of pedestrians demanding to literally stomp all over your good name. Something I’m sure David Spade could tell you all about.
Head on over to Take 5: The Glutton to see my five favorite stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
NEXT PAGE: Obsession of the Week, and Reader Mail
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
Talk to Me came out on DVD the other week. This story of a convict-turned-radio DJ celebrity is not a fantastic movie — but it reminded me of what a damn fine and underappreciated actor Don Cheadle is. There are some guys who get accolades for pretty much playing the same type of character over and over, but every new Cheadle performance differs from the last. From Boogie Nights to Out of Sight to Ocean’s Eleven to Hotel Rwanda to Talk to Me, the man runs the gamut of every imaginable personality. Plus, it’s just fun to say the word Cheadle. Anyway, just thought I’ve give some props to the man for refusing to be typecast into any particular role.
Now you see it, now you don’t: CBS’ Viva Laughlin was canceled after just two episodes in four days, meaning I’ll probably never get the chance to see D.B. Woodside break into song. Good thing I got in that column comparing Viva and Cop Rock while I could. Anyway, here were some of your thoughts about both shows, as well as more on funny old dudes. On to the mailbag!
Dalton, I can’t believe no one yet is commenting on the most bizarre aspect of Viva Laughlin (aside from them continually singing ”Viva Las Vegas” even though the show is called, well, Viva LAUGHLIN): They don’t really sing at all; they sing-along. What’s up with that? Hugh Jackman doesn’t belt out ”Sympathy for the Devil.” He sings alongside it. And the song itself is cranked up so much that Jackman’s voice barely can be heard at all. You could blame it on them having weak-voiced actors they need to cover up, but Jackman’s got some real pipes on him, so that can’t be it. And anyway, if you are doing a musical, wouldn’t you hire people who could sing? No, this was a choice, not a defensive measure. Someone actually said to himself, ”Hey, let’s do a show where actors sing a song that is playing so loud they appear to be lip-synching it.” Then he jumped in his Edsel to get to work and tell everyone his great idea. If I wanted to see someone fake singing, I’d go to an Ashlee Simpson concert. Or at least a Bart Simpson concert. —Michael Lampers
I agree completely, Michael: Either lip-synch or sing. None of this half-and-half garbage. And as for singing quality, I always found it odd that Viva Laughlin, a musical drama, cast a lead (Lloyd Owen) who couldn’t sing a lick. Odd strategy, and one that obviously didn’t pay off.
Yes, I am reading this AFTER seeing Viva Laughlin. I have to admit I loved it like I love cotton candy at the fair. No nutritional value whatsoever but so much fun! It’s different, it has songs we can sing along to, and wouldn’t we all love to live in a world where we can freely sing out loud to the soundtracks of our lives? So, I plan to watch Viva for as long as it’s on. It’s not the usual cookie-cutter crap, which means that it won’t be around long, unfortunately. Too bad. —Sue Davi
Wow, Sue. You are the only person I have met or heard from that actually dug this show. And you know what? Good for you! Lord knows I’ve gone on solo missions championing programs that no one else cared about. (Incidentally, I still stand by The Family.) I will say this: I laughed harder during Viva Laughlin than I have any comedy on the air this fall. Perhaps that wasn’t the producer’s intent, but enjoyment is enjoyment, right?
Dalton, stop the hating on Cop Rock. Not all the songs, or singers, worked. But at least it was something completely different, original, and completely out of left field. And when it worked well, as when the accused cop sang a bitter song of his toughness as he was led to jail, well, it bordered on sublime. No mere dialogue could have expressed his emotions better in that scene, it was chilling. I just wish it would come out on DVD. —Charles Martin
Damn, Charles, you and Sue should get together and go musical-drama crazy! Of course, I wish Cop Rock would come out on DVD as well, but probably not for the same reasons you do. For those of you really jonesing for it, here’s a little taste.
Hey Dalton, how about a little funny-old-guy love for Rip Torn’s coach Patches O’Houlihan in Dodgeball? First off, his name is Patches. Seriously. Second, the line ”If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Frankly, for some unfathomable reason, just looking at Rip Torn (or thinking about his name) makes me giggle. —Julie Harter
Always have been a big Rip Torn fan, from his turn in The Cincinnati Kid through his days on The Larry Sanders Show. I guess I just have a thing for anyone who starred in Beastmaster. And you’re absolutely right, Julie — Patches O’Houlihan is a stupendous name. Almost as good as Cheadle.
Who’s your favorite star in the Walk of Fame, and which ”star” doesn’t deserve the honor? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to email@example.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. I’ll be away next week, but back after that. See you in two weeks!