Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NCIS (Season 6, Episode 11: "Silent Night," Original Air Date December 16, 2008)

My colleague Martina S. was so excited when she came to work today because she was dying to tell me about a reference to Scranton on last night's NCIS (Navy Criminal Investigative Service. The CBS series stars Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly as leaders of a fictional team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts criminal investigations involving the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

Last night, December 16th, NCIS aired its 11th episode of its current season (Season 6). Titled Silent Night, the NCIS teams is stuck working on a case over Christmas involving a crime suspect who is presumed dead.

In the episode, the team finds an unusual clue--a shirt button that they trace back to a button company in Scranton, PA.

To watch the complete Silent Night episode of NCIS, click here.

Mondo thanks to the sharp-eared Martina S. for this reference.

Kitty Foyle (1940)

Don McKeon, who has contributed many wonderful Scranton and Wilkes-Barre references to the blog, emailed me yesterday with a reference to the Pocono Mountains in the classic 1940 film Kitty Foyle, starring Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan:

"Hi Bill,
I'm not sure if I wrote this item in or maybe you have it already, but I was watching an old Ginger Rogers film the other night called Kitty Foyle and the Pocono Mountains are mentioned. This film was made in or around 1940 and I believe Ginger Rogers won an Academy Award for her performance (for Best Actress in a Leading Role).

The story originates in Philadelphia, where Kitty envies the "Main Line" way of life in comparison to her own. She falls in love with a Main Liner and eventually marries him, but the gap between their societal upbringing dooms the marriage.

Long story short, Kitty flees to New York and meets a doctor who falls in love with her. She agrees to marry him; but when her former husband comes back into her life, she faces the ultimate choice......................I won't spoil the ending.

Disregard this if you already are aware of of the film.

Merry Christmas.

Including Ginger Roger's Best Actress win, Kitty Foyle received a total of five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Wood, who also directed 1935's A Night at the Opera with Old Forge and Scranton native Allan Jones), and Best Screenplay (Dalton Trumbo, who also went on to write Roman Holiday, Spartacus and Exodus).

Though the Lackawanna County Library System does not have the film in our collection, Kitty Foyle is available to purchase on DVD.

And a big thanks again to Don McKeon for not only this contribution, but for all of the references he gave me that I would otherwise be unaware of. You're the best, Don!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rolling Stone (Issue 1067, December 11, 2008)

There is a brief reference to Wilkes-Barre in this week's issue of the recently-resized Rolling Stone. Issue 1067, the one with Britney Spears on the cover, is also the 2008 Hot Issue, detailing all the musicians and actors that hit it big in the last 12 months.

Included in the Hot Issue (page 69) is the band The Answer, a new band that is presently on tour with AC/DC as the legendary band's opening act.

"When the Irish foursome step on board (their tour bus)--right after finishing an opening set for AC/DC in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania--the time warp continues."

AC/DC kicked off their current Black Ice World Tour at Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Click here to read the full article.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein (2007) Also Contains A Scranton Reference

I just finished reading Bob Eckenstein's The History of the Snowman and I absolutely loved it. What a clever book that was so much fun to read. Yes, I was nicely surprised that Mr. Eckstein is a native of Hawley, PA, but I was also pleasantly surprised when I got to page 153 of the book and saw an illustration with a reference to Scranton.

In a side blurb to the text titled "What's in the Snowman's Future?" Eckstein ponders why the snowman has not become the symbol or mascot for a major sports team. And in a collection of four potential logos of snowman-inspired sports teams,Eckstein suggests the following names: Spokane Snowmen, Philadelphia Frosties, Schuylkill Chill, and (my personal favorite, of course), Scranton Snowball Heads.

A nice local touch to an incredibly groovy piece of literature.

And don't forget that Bob Eckstein will be presenting at Albright Memorial Library on Thursday, January 8th from 6-8 PM. For more information on this event, click here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bob Eckstein, Hawley Native and Author of "History of the Snowman," At Albright Memorial Library Thursday, January 8th, 6-8 PM

Albright Memorial Library
Proudly Presents

Bob Eckstein
Hawley Native and
Author of
"History of the Snowman"

Thursday, January 8th, 2009
6 PM - 8 PM
Periodicals Room
Reference Department

(Note: This event is NOT handicapped accessible)

Albright Memorial Library proudly welcomes Hawley native Bob Eckstein, author of the hysterically funny and entertainingly informative bestseller "History of the Snowman." He will be conducting a 30 minute multimedia presentation on the history of snowmen, as well as decorating the library display cases with snowmen.

Special Guest WNEP's Mike Stevens will also be on hand to co-judge a snowman competition.

This program is FREE with your Lackawanna County Library Card, but space is limited.
To register, please call (570) 348-3000, ext. 3043.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Three Opportunities to Catch 1940's Christmas-Themed "Remember The Night" on TCM in December

Turner Classic Movies will be showing the rare 1940 Christmas movie Remember The Night three times throughout the month of December.

Remember the Night stars Fred MacMurray as an assistant DA who takes shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck (whom he is prosecuting) home with him for Christmas. The film also features a fleeting reference to the city of Scranton towards the end.

Remember the Night will be shown on TCM on the following dates:

Saturday, December 13th @ 6 PM
Wednesday, December 24th @ 11:15 PM
Thursday, December 25th @ 6:15 AM

Click here for the previous blog entry on Remember the Night that details the reference to Scranton in the picture.

Remember the Night is long out-of-print on VHS and has never been released on DVD. I saw it last year and absolutely loved it, so I highly recommend it--especially to those who are all It's-A-Wonderful-Lifed out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The 82nd Annual Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade (Thursday, November 27, 2008)

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day today!

For the first time in a few years, I decided to catch the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade and, wouldn't you know it, there was a very funny reference to Scranton, courtesy of one of the stars of The Office.

Kate Flannery (Meredith) and Oscar Nunez (Oscar) were briefly interviewed on the sidelines of the parade. When asked by the host what they thought of this morning's festivities, Kate cheerfully replied, "It's almost as big as the Scranton St. Patrick's Day Parade. Almost."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Entertainment Weekly (November 28, 2008, Issue #1023)

Even when it's only yet-another-one-of-the-numerous-references-to-The Office references, I must admit I still get giddy when I see Scranton mentioned in my favorite magazine, Entertainment Weekly.

This time, Scranton was mentioned on page 9 of EW in the popular section called The Bullseye, which rates the pop culture news stories of the week ala a game of Darts (humorously, several events nobody cares about--usually those involving Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt--often miss the bullseye and the arrow lands two pages ahead).

A near-miss on The Bullseye this week is the following item on The Office:

"Jim and Pam are finally in
the same city together.
Now, for the love of
Scranton, give these two a
decent storyline."

For the love of Scranton? I smell a future catchphrase...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lackwanna County Library Card featured On Tonight's Episode of The Office (11/20/08)

The Lackawanna County Library System library card made a return appearance on tonight's episode of The Office. The card was previously seen in a deleted scene on a previous episode, but this time was broadcast on the actual episode.

On tonight's episode, titled Frame Toby (Season 5, Episode 8), Michael Scott is absolutely livid that former HR rep and his eternal arch nemesis Toby is back from Costa Rica and back at his old job at Dunder-Mifflin Scranton...and Michael will do anything in his power to get rid of him--including planting marijuana.

Michael approaches a couple of deliverymen from Vance's Refrigeration and asks if he could "buy some weed" from them. Though they don't really have any to sell, they offer to sell him some anyway for $500. When Michael reaches into his wallet for the money, inside the front card sleeve on full display is his library card from the Lackawanna County Library System. Oh, and the pot they end up selling to Michael is the salad Michael himself threw away that afternoon.

The full episode of Frame Toby is below. The Lackawanna County Library Card appears at 12:34 in the video.

Don't have a library card? Click here to apply for one right now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lady Of Burlesque (1943) Available on YouTube

This is an update to my previous entry for Lady of Burlesque, a classic Barbara Stanwyck film where she references the city of Wilkes-Barre.

Although the public domain film is not available via My Library DV, YouTube has made the entire film available online. The film begins here.

The clip of Lady of Burlesque with the Wilkes-Barre reference is below; it occurs at the 2:00 mark.:

That settles it! We GOTTA have a new one!

New what?

(gestures towards the off-stage ladies' room)

Oh, the museum piece. I haven't seen one like that
since the Wilkes-Barre Regal.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Lizabeth Scott, Actress (1922- )

The legendary film noir actress Lizabeth Scott was born Emma Matzo in the Pine Brook Section of Scranton, Pennsylvania on September 29, 1922. Emma attended Central High School and Marywood College (now Marywood University).

After moving to New York City while only in her late teens, Matzo attended the Alvienne School of Drama. She also worked as a model.

Her first big break came in 1942 when she was hired to understudy the legendary actress (with a legendary acid tongue) Tallulah Bankhead in Thorton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth; unfortunately, Bankhead never missed a performance and Matzo never had the opportunity to perform. However, Matzo took over the lead in the play from Bankhead's ill replacement Gladys George and garnished rave reviews--the next night, Matzo was no longer needed.

Matzo's luck was forever changed when renowned Hollywood producer Hal Wallis discovered her in 1945 and offered her contract in Hollywood; however, Matzo put Hollywood stardom on hold when she was offered the lead in the Boston production of The Skin of Our Teeth. it was in Boston where Emma Matzo took the stage name Lizabeth Scott.

After moving to Hollywood, Scott made a total of 21 films between 1945 and 1957--her main studio was Paramount and her main producer was Hal Wallis. She made her film debut in 1945's You Came Along, directed by John Farrow (father of Mia) . Her most famous film role was the femme fatale Toni Marachek in the film noir the classic The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin. Scott acted alongside some of the best actors in Hollywood--her other notable films include: 1947's Dead Reckoning with Humphrey Bogart; 1947's Desert Fury with Burt Lancaster and Mary Astor; 1949's Easy Living starring Lucille Ball and Victor Mature; 1949's Too Late For Tears with Dan Duryea; 1950's Dark City with Charlton Heston (whom she also starred with in 1953's Bad For Each Other); and 1951's The Racket with Robert Mitchum.

Lizabeth Scott was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1624 Vine Street).

Her last screen appearance was in the role of Princess Betty Cippola in 1972's Pulp, directed by Mike Hodges and co-starring Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney.

For nearly forty years, Scott has mostly stayed out of the public eye.

The Lackawanna County Library System currently has several films starring Elizabeth Scott; to place a hold, click on any of the following titles: The Racket, Too Late For Tears, and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers.

The Local History Collection at Albright Memorial Library also includes a newspaper clippings file on Elizabeth Scott and her local roots in Scranton.

The entire film of The Strange Love of Martha Avers (which is in the public domain) is available from YouTube.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Saturday Night Live (Saturday, October 4, 2008)

Tina Fey made her third triumphant appearance this season as Sarah Palin on this past weekend's Saturday Night Live in a send-up of this past week's Vice-Presidential debate between Palin and Joe Biden.

Though it was hysterical (even featuring a cameo by Queen Latifah as debate moderator Gwen Ifill), I have to admit I was a little unnerved when SNL regular Jason Sudeikis (as Joe Biden) made a somewhat shockingly negative speech about Scranton. Granted, it was quite funny, but shocking nonetheless.

Jason Sudeikis
as Sen. Joe Biden:

You know I get a little tired of being told I'm an insider. I come from Scranton, Pennsylvania! And that's as hard-scrabble a place as you're gonna find. I'll show you around some time and you'll see. It's a hellhole! An absolute jerkwater of a town! You couldn't stand to spend a weekend there. It is just an awful, awful sad place filled with sad, desperate people with no ambition! Nobody, and I mean nobody, but me, has ever come out of that place! It's a genetic cesspool! So don't be telling me that I'm part of the Washington elite, because I come from the absolute WORST place on Earth: Scranton, Pennsylvania! And Wilmington, Delaware is not much better.

If you missed it Saturday, check out the extremely funny video above (the Scranton reference begins at 5:38). To read the complete transcript of the fake debate on SNL, click here.

I would love to hear your opinions on this. Feel free to vote in the poll on the top lefthand side of the blog, or post a comment--do you think the Scranton reference was funny or offensive?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pittson Native's Film "Fair Evil" To Get Local Premiere October 25th

NEPA’s New Director
Claude T. Martin presents
A Warlight Pictures Film

Connie Shelhamer
Bill Armitage
Johnny Paradise


Evil is only fair in the eyes of a killer.

Premieres Saturday, October 25th
6:30 PM
Endless Mountain Theaters
933 Scranton-Carbondale Highway

Fair Evil is Rated R

Under 17 Parent Guardian Required

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UPDATE: "Xanadu On Broadway" To Close September 28th

It was just announced that Xanadu, the hit Broadway musical with a book written by Wilkes-Barre native Douglas Carter Beane, will play its final performance on Sunday, September 28th; it was originally set to close two weeks later on Sunday, October 12th.

I've seen the show three times and absolutely LOVED IT.

Xanadu opened on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre in NYC on July 10, 2007 to rave reviews. It was nominated for four 2008 Tony Awards, including one for Best Book of a Musical for Beane.

If you haven't seen it yet, this is your final chance. To purchase tickets, click here. Ticket prices range from $60 to $110, with steep discounts available through sites such as TheaterMania; in addition, a handful of tickets for on-stage seating (priced at $41) are available for every performance.

Congratulations to Douglas Carter Beane and the entire cast and crew of Xanadu for a successful run and a job well done.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monster: My True Story by Aileen Wuornos with Christopher Berry-Dee (2004)

I recently read Monster: My True Story by Aileen Wuornos with Christopher Berry-Dee and to my surprise, the book reference Scranton as the place that Wuornos's girlfriend Tyria Moore hid out from the police (as opposed to Wilkes-Barre reference in the much superior telling of the story, Sue Russell's Lethal Intent).

Two Scranton references occur in Chaper Fourteen: Aileen Wuornos's Confession -- In Her Own Words on page 133:

"She (Tyria Moore) had fled her parents' home and was living with her sister in Scranton, Pennsylvania...He (Major Dan Henry) booked into a local motel with one of his prime suspects, Tyria, and then he summoned Jerry Thompson of Cirtus County and Bruce Munster of Marion County who flew to Scranton to interview her."

As a side note, if you have a choice of the two books to read, I would strongly recommended Lethal Intent as the better of the two books. Monster: My True Story features only about 10 out of 238 pages of actual interviews with the co-author. The rest of the book is comprised of court transcripts, police interviews and a sketchy reading of the events of her life.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Office: Season Four Now on DVD; Target Offers Exclusive Bonus Disc With Q&A From "Office Convention" in Scranton

Check out the cover art for the just-released DVD set of The Office: Season Four. The sign in the background reads "Scranton Business Park." In addition, one of the Special Features listed is The Office Convention: Writer's Block.

If you plan to buy the DVD, you may want to consider picking it up at Target; they're offering an exclusive box set with special packaging that also includes an exclusive bonus disc featuring the hour-long cast Q&A from The Office Convention in Scranton, PA, filmed at University of Scranton. Unfortunately, the Target exclusive is not available for purchase online.

Season Five of The Office starts Thursday, September 25th at 9 PM on NBC.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pittston/Scranton Native Jay Parini's Novel The Last Station Adapted Into Film

Pittston/Scranton native and author Jay Parini's 1990 novel The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year is being made into a major motion picture.

The Last Station, the novel as well as the film, is a drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy's struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things and a troubled marriage.

Directed and co-written for the screen by Michael Hoffman (Soapdish, Restoration, The Emperor's Club) the film version of The Last Station includes an impressive roster of actors--Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy, Helen Mirren as his wife Sofya, Paul Giamatti as Vladimir Chertkov, and James McAvoy as Valentin Bulgakov.

The film version of The Last Station will be released this winter.

Novelist and poet Jay Parini was born in 1948 in Pittston, Pennsylvania and raised in Scranton.

To place a hold on Parini's novel The Last Station, click here.

To read an article from The Times-Tribune about the upcoming film, click here.

Much thanks to my colleague Martina S. for this reference.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lethal Intent by Sue Russell (2002)

Lethal Intent, subtitled "The Shocking True Story of One of America's Most Notorious Serial Killers," is a 2002 true-crime book by Sue Russell about Aileen Wuornos, a Florida prostitute who was arrested, convicted, and executed for the murders of seven men. She was the subject of the 2003 film Monster, winning Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Wuornos.

Lethal Intent also details Wuornos's lesbian relationship with a woman named Tyria Moore. According to the book, Moore hid out for a time with friends in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where the police tracked her down with some of the belongings of the victims. However, they believed her claim not to have been involved with any of the murders and she was not charged with any crime. Moore also agreed to turn state's evidence against Wuornos.

In the film Monster, Tyria Moore was morphed into the character of Selby, who was played by Christina Ricci.

To read excerpts from the book Lethal Intent, click here. To purchase a copy of Lethal Intent, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Antiques Roadshow (Monday, August 11, 2008)

A few weeks ago, my colleague Martina S. was watching The Antiques Roadshow on WVIA and heard a passing reference to Wilkes-Barre.

On the episode that aired Monday, August 11th, a woman exhibited a $75,000 chest that dated back to 1780. She said her relatives lives in Wilkes-Barre at one time and thought it was a Pennsylvania chest, but it was actually a Connecticut chest.

Thanks again to Martina S. for the reference.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Diary of the Dead (Screenplay by George A. Romero), July 2006

My colleague Brian Detrick, who works in our library's Technical Services Department and is a true horror buff (check out his awesome blog, Were80s Horror), recently showed me a copy of a screenplay he purchased of the recent horror flick George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead; he told he was shocked to see a reference to Scranton, PA in the dialogue.

In Diary of the Dead (a continuation of the zombie film series that Pittsburgh native George A. Romero began with 1968's Night of the Living Dead and continued with Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead), a group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.

The Scranton reference occurs early in the scripy (pages 18-19), when the filmmakers are riding in a van and filming introductions of themselves. The script is dated July 2006:

Debra Moynihan. I'm just trying to get home, too. Like Mary.

Where's home, Debra? Where are you trying to get to?

You know where I live.

Say it.

Say it, Debra. For the camera.

Tears well up in Debra's eyes as she SHOUTS...

SCRANTON! (Then, calming down) Scranton, Pennsylvania. That's my home. My parents' home, anyway. And my little brother's.

However, I'm not certain this was the final version of the script used in the 2007 film. According to the Internet Movie Database, the character of Debra--who actually says Scranton in the screenplay--is not listed as a character in the film.

If there are any readers of the blog out there who has seen Diary of the Dead and knows for certain if the Scranton reference was included in the actual film, please email me.

Thanks again to Brian Detrick for this truly terrifying Scranton reference. And check out Brian's Were80s Horror blog.

Check out the trailer for Diary of the Dead below:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The New Yorker (January 28, 2008, Volume 83, Issue 45)

A couple of months ago, my colleague (and regular contributor to our blog) Evelyn Gibbons found a local reference in The New Yorker.

On page 25 of the January 28, 2008 issue of The New Yorker, there is an article by Ben McGrath titled Red Carpet Dept.: Step On It, from the magazine's popular The Talk of the Town section. The article discusses the eighth annual banquet of the Valera Global Limosuine Company and previous Chauffeur of the Year winner Souleymane Bah. The article highlights the fact that Bah lives in Blakeslee, Pennsylvania.

To read the full article, click here.

An abundance of the thanks to the sizzlin' Evelyn Gibbons for another great reference.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Entertainment Weekly (August 22/29, 2008, Issue #1007/1008)

Check out this week's double issue of Entertainment Weekly, the one with Harry Potter and the Fall Movie Preview on the cover.

On page 110 is The Ausiello Files, a column by EW writer Michael Ausiello that contains questions from readers requesting spoilers and such for their favorite television shows. One in particular caught my eye this week:

"Office news. You have it. I want it. Give it up! - Pamela

"Given all the tomfoolery that transpires at Dunder-Mifflin, it's kind of shocking to think that we've yet to meet this guy, but this season The Office will finally be introducing the paper company's head of HR. However, since he'll be heard before he's actually seen in Scranton, there's still time for Michael to remove that hidden camera in the ladies' room."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mad Men, "Flight 1" (Season 2, Episode 2) (August 3, 2008)

My extra-ultra-groovy colleague Elizabeth Davis from the Lackawanna County Children's Library, a huge fan of the AMC original series Mad Men, was quite surprised when she was watching this week's episode and suddenly hear the words Wilkes-Barre, PA come out of one of the characters' mouths.

Mad Men, created by Matthew Weiner (The Sopranos), is the first original series from tevevision network AMC (American Movie Classics). Set in New York City, Mad Men takes place amid the changing social mores in the early 1960s and centers on the fictional Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper and its high level executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm), as well as his colleagues.

In addition to winning the 2007 Peabody Award, Mad Men recently made history by being the first basic-cable series (it shares the honor with Damages) to be nominated for the Prime Time Emmy Award for Best Drama (just one of a total of 16 Emmy nominations).

The Wilkes-Barre reference occurs about halfway through Flight 1, the second episode of the second season which had its premiere on Sunday, August 3rd. which first aired on Sunday, August 3rd. The character of Sis is talking to Peggy (Eilzabeth Moss) about how their mother lies about Peggy's activities to save face in front of her gossipy neighbors. Mom tells the nosy neighbors that the reason Peggy is is never seen at their church is because she is always out of town on business and even makes up a fictitious church that she attends in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

To watch the complete "Flight 1" episode of Mad Men online, click here.

A big ol' holla to Elizabeth Davis for this reference.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Louis Teicher, Pianist (Ferrante & Teicher) (1924-2008)

Regular blog contributor (and my gorgeous esteemed colleague) Evelyn Gibbons left an article from this morning's Citizens' Voice on my shelf this afternoon; the article announced the passing of Louis Teicher, a pianist best known as one half of the legendary piano duo Ferrante & Teicher. My parents had several of the duo's LPs in their collection when I was a child (including an album with a sexy 1960s era model posed against a gold background on the cover and a killer samba-like version of Chopsticks on the vinyl), so I have known of them as a child in the 1970s. But I have absolutely no idea that Louis Teicher was a Wilkes-Barre native until I read that he passed away this past Sunday (August 3rd) of heart failure.

Louis Teicher was born in Wilkes-Barre on August 24, 1924; he lived there until he was 5 years old, but he continued to spend his summers and even took his first piano lessons in W-B. Furthermore, his first concert was at the age of 8 at what is now Wyoming Seminary.

A child prodigy, Teicher attended the Juilliard School of Music at a mere 6 years of ageand receivied his diploma at the age of 16. He joined the Juilliard faculty when he was a mere 20 years old.

Teicher met his musical partner Arthur Ferrante (b. September 7, 1921) at Juilliard and began performing together while still in school, where Ferrante also became a faculty member.

The two pianists officially launched their professional partnership as Ferrante & Teicher in 1947. They became famous for their film themes (such as The Apartment and Exodus) and toured extensively for over 50 years, even playing several concerts in Scranton.

Sadly, Louis Teicher passed away on Sunday, August 3, 2008 from heart failure at his summer home in Highlands, North Carolina. He was 83 years old.

To read the article from the Citizens Voice, click here. For the article in the Times Leader, click here. Click here to read his obituary from the New York Times.

The Lackawanna County Library System includes 2 CDs by Ferrante & Teicher in our collection. Feel free to place holds on either 1990's The Greatest Love Songs of All or 1997's reissue of their 1959 album Blast Off! (featuring another sexy version of Chopsticks).

A great big THANK YOU to the incandescent Evelyn Gibbons for this reference.

Also, a special thank you to Mark Anthony Ferrante for clarifying via email the place where Mr. Teicher passed away.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Blondie (Friday, August 1, 2008)

Comic Courtesy of King Features

Don McKeon, who I can always count on for some good Scranton references, emailed me on Sunday about a reference to Scranton in a recent Blondie comic strip:


It's been a while but I came across a mention of "Scranton" in the comic section of Friday's Aug. 01, 2008 Scranton Times. Dagwood, from the Blondie comic strip, is looking for some perfume as a gift for his wife but all the "fancy" selections are too costly. He finally settles on just the right item, a cologne costing $6.50 an ounce called "Ned McGillicutty of Scranton". It's cute. Take care."

Created by Chic Young, the popular Blondie comic strips have been published in newspapers around the country since September 8, 1930.

The Blondie comic with the Scranton reference can be seen in full by either clicking on the image above or visiting the Official Blondie and Dagwood web site; a direct link to the Scranton comic can be viewed by clicking right here.

Much thanks again to the eternally observant Don McKeon for another great Scranton reference. Keep 'em comin'!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Request for Information Regarding W-B Based Film Companies "De Frenes and Company" or "BDF Films"

A reader of this blog, Mike Champlin, recently sent me a question that I need your help with. He writes:

"Hi Bill-

"I saw your blog and thought you might be the right person to ask about this company 'De Frenes and Company, Wilkes-Barre, PA' which produced films from 1920 to well into the 1950s.

"Is there any institution in Wilkes-Barre that may have information about this company, or its sister company 'B.D.F Films'?

"I am doing research on a film this company produced in 1921 'A Movie Trip Through Film Land'. The goal would be to research what became of the production company and to discover if any of their records or production materials survive. Thank you for taking the time to read this and considering my request. Any help would be most appreciated.

Mike Champlin"

I did refer Mike to both the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre and the Luzerne County Historical Society. BUT I need your help, too. If there are any local history or movie buffs out there who are familiar with either De Frenes and Company or BDF Films (both now defunct, but originally based in Wilkes-Barre, PA), will you PLEASE help Mike by emailing me with any information you have? Or you can even leave me a message in the Meebo box on the lefthand side of the blog.

Thanks for your question, Mike, and I'll do my best to seek an answer for you. But if you find it first, please email me too so I can post the info here in the blog.

Thanks :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Entertainment Weekly, (July 25, 2008, Issue #1003)

On page two of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (the Letters Page), is a brief box detailing this past weekend's The Office Games, which were held in Scranton, PA, hosted by cast member Mindy Kaling. It begins, "Beijing's got nothing on Scranton, PA." Readers were also invited to log on to EW's PopWatch Blog to put in their suggestions for The Office Games. To read the EW blog entry (some of the comments are quite funny), click here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

David Lepore, Set Designer and Emmy Winner for "Come On Over"

David Lepore of Wilkes-Barre recently won an Emmy Award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Emmy was for Best Graphic Arts-Set Design for the regional children's show Come On Over, filmed and televised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lepore shares the award with co-set designer Bob Phillips.

Come On Over won a total of 5 Emmy Awards on June 7th,

Click here to read the article from the Citizens' Voice.

Congratulations, David. Well done!

Thank you to Evelyn Gibbons for this reference.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Kelly" from "The Office" To Visit Scranton July 19th; "Kevin" in The Electric City the 25th and 26th

UPDATED 7/11/08

I have good news to report for fans of NBC's The Office--not one, but TWO cast members have planned visits to Scranton, both scheduled for July.

Mindy Kaling, who portrays Kelly, will be in Scranton on Saturday, July 19th at The Mall at Steamtown to celebrate the release of The Office Official Board Game and The Office Official DVD Board Game. This will be Mindy's second visit to Scranton (her first being The Office Convention last October). Mindy will also officiate “The Office Games” all day, starting with a 2k Fun Run and ending with a beet-eating contest. In between, there will be trivia contests and an autograph signing session. Proceeds from the day's events will benefit United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Scranton.

On Friday, July 25th, Brian Baumgarten (who portrays Kevin on the show), will be in Scranton to visit local landmarks. Baumgarten is also scheduled to attend The Counting Crows/Maroon 5 concert (with Special Guest Sara Bareilles of "Love Song" fame) at the Toyota Pavillion at Montage Mountain on Saturday, July 26th. It's not too late to purchase tickets for the concert by clicking here. This will be his third visit to Scranton in the past 2 years.

For more information on these two upcoming visits, click here. To register, click here.

UPDATE 7/11/08 - On a related note, my colleague Martina S. sent me the following email:


I don't know if this works for your blog, and maybe you already read the article on the Scranton Times website about The Office cast members winning 50,000 dollars for the Children's Advocacy Center of Northeastern PA on the Celebrity Family Fued. I didn't see the show, but usually they discuss the charity at the beginning of the show."

Click here to read the article in the Scranton Times.

Kudos, Martina!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Crawford O. "Bob" Swartz, Composer of "Home on the Range" (1855-1932)

It's a piece of American music that brings back memories of a nostalgic time and a simpler life. It was President FDR's favorite song. You may know this timeless tune as Home on the Range, but the original title was "Colorado Home" (Prospectors' Song)--and the composer was Scranton native Crawford O. "Bob" Swartz.

Crawford O. "Bob" Swartz was born in Scranton on March 26, 1855 and lived with his family (his parents and his sister Laura) on Grandview Street. In his late teens/early twenties, Swartz set out for Leadville, Colorado to seek his fortune as a gold prospector.

During a stormy winter in 1885, Swartz would gather with a group of friends and musically-inclined fellow prospectors at a local shanty he nicknamed the Junk Lane Hotel. It was there where Swartz composed the music and lyrics for a song he titled Colorado Home, or Prospector's Song. The song began with the lyrics "Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play."

In a letter to his folks back home in Scranton, Swartz wrote how excited he was of his composition; he also admitted that "everyone helped make it up. If it keeps on going, it will become a popular western song." This letter, which included the lyrics to the first verse of the new song, would become a significant piece of evidence years later when the song's authorship came into question.

Swartz returned east a few years later and resided on Grandview Street in Scranton; he also worked for several years at the Lackawanna Round House. and sang Prospectors' Song to his parents and sister. Though all loved the song, nothing more was thought of it--that is until a few years later when a new and very familiar-sounding melody titled Home on the Range began to become a fixture on a brand new invention called radio. Though the melody and the lyrics of the first verse was exactly the same as Shwartz's Colorado Home, the remaining lyrics of the song were completely changed from the perspective of a gold prospector to a cowboy's point-of-view.

Crawford O. Swartz died in Scranton on March 12, 1932.

Though he never enjoyed any success or credit for Colorado Home during his lifetime, his sister Laura published the song in 1934 as Swartz originally penned it. After an Arizona couple, William and Mary Goodwin, filed lawsuit against use of what they considered their composition of Home on the Range, Laura (with the letters Swartz send in the late 1800s as proof), won the lawsuit, thus giving Swartz credit for the music of the song, as well as for co-writing the lyrics to what we now know as Home on the Range (with Swartz sharing lyric credit with Bill McCabe, Bingham Graves, et. al. for the additional and/or verses not originally included in Colorado Home).

However, controversy over the authorship of Home on the Range is still disputed today. The song, which is the state song of Kansas, is often solely credited to Dr. Brewster M. Higley.

The Mineral Information Institute also includes information about Swartz and Home on the Range on their website. To read more, click here.

Click on any of the following links to reserve CDs by a variety of artists that have recorded Home on the Range: Frank Sinatra; Peter, Paul & Mary; Roy Rogers; Mannheim Steamroller; and local recording artists The Lyric Consort.

A GREAT BIG THANKS to B.R. Francis from Broomfield, Colorado. B.R. is a relative of the late Crawford O. Shwartz, and she visited Scranton a few months back to do research on him.

In addition, much information for this blog entry is credited to an article titled "Scranton Man Wrote Familiar Melody," which appeared on the front page of Section II of the Wednesday, March 18, 1936 edition of The Scranton Republican. A copy of the article is in the "Music" Local History Vertical File in the Reference Department.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dallas native Robert May's Latest Film "Bonneville" Released on DVD

The latest film by producer and Dallas, Pennsylvania native Robert May, whose previous films include the critically acclaimed The Station Agent and The Fog of War, has just been released on DVD.

May's most recent film is Bonneville and stars Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Joan Allen, Tom Skerritt and Christine Baranski. Originally released in 2006, Bonneville tells the story of three friends who come of age for a second time on a trip across the great American West.

To place a hold on the DVD of Bonneville, click here.

To read a previous entry on Robert May, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Live With Regis & Kelly (Wednesday, June 18th, 2008)

Steve Carrell from NBC's The Office was a guest on this morning's Live With Regis & Kelly to promote his new film Get Smart, which opens Friday, June 20th.

During the interview, Regis Philbin brought up both last year's Office Convention (held in Scranton) and the original idea to use Scranton, Pennsylvania as the location of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin Paper Company.

Carrell stated that he heard from his fellow actors on the shows that the convention was incredible, and he himself definitely plans to attend the next Office Convention. He also stated that the producers of the hit show didn't choose Scranton, PA as a locale to make fun of the city--he said they were simply looking for an "honest town" and "a normal place where normal people work."

Kudos, Steve!

The Office will return on Thursday, September 25th at 9 PM for a one-hour season premiere.

To place a hold on the library's DVD of The Office: Season 4 (which will be released September 2nd, 2008), click here. In the meantime, you can catch up on the show and place holds on Season One, Season Two, and Season Three.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Scranton Native Lauren Weisberger's New Novel: "Chasing Harry Winston"

Scranton native and bestselling author Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada; Everyone Worth Knowing) has a new novel titled Chasing Harry Winston. The book tells the story of a trio of best friends in Manhattan who agree to change their lives in the most personal and dramatic way possible -- and within one calendar year.

To place a hold on Chasing Harry Winston, click here.

Lauren visited Scranton last year and was a presenter as part of the Lackawanna County Library System Lecture Series.

For more information, check out Lauren's official website and a previous blog entry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wilkes-Barre native Douglas Carter Beane nominated for "Best Book of a Musical" Tony Award for Xanadu

Updated Monday, May 19th, 2008

Congratulations to playwright and Wilkes-Barre native Douglas Carter Beane, who was nominated this morning for a Best Book of a Musical Tony Award for the surprise hit Xanadu.

Xanadu was nominated for a total of 4 Tonys, including Best Actress (Kerry Butler), Best Choreography (Dan Knechtges), and Best Musical.

The Tony Awards air Sunday, June 15th at 8 PM on CBS. For a complete list of 2008 Tony nominees, click here.

For more information on Douglas Carter Beane from a previous blog entry, click here.

Good luck, Douglas!!!!! We're all rooting for you.

And don't miss Xanadu on Broadway! It's an excellent show (I'm going to see it for the THIRD time at the end of May--YES, IT'S THAT GOOD!!!).

Updated Monday, May 19th, 2008: Last night, Douglas Carter Beane won the award for Outstanding Book of a Musical for Xanadu at the 53rd Annual Drama Desk Awards. For a complete list of last night's winners, check out the Official Drama Desk Awards site. Congratulations, Douglas!!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Michael Patrick King, Sex & The City (Director/Writer/Producer) (1954- )

Scranton native Michael Patrick King, center, is the Director/Writer/Executive Producer of the highly anticipated summer movie Sex & the City: The Movie. The film stars (from left) Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon. Sex & the City: The Movie opens nationwide May 30th.

This reference is from my longtime friend and colleague Evelyn Gibbons, who called me tonight all excited to give me this info:

Check out the Summer Movies (MT) section of this past Sunday's (May 4, 2008) New York Times and, on page 4, you will find a lengthy profile of the upcoming Sex and the City: The Movie. The article features both a profile of and an extensive interview with the movie's director/writer/producer Michael Patrick King, a native of Scranton.

Michael Patrick King was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on September 14th, 1954. In the 1980s he moved to New York City, where he worked as a playwright and stand-up comedian.

King's impressive career in television spans over two decades. He first worked as executive producer of a 1989 show called The Sweet Life, which featured host Rachel Sweet introducing short clips of movie comedies. Of interesting note is that The Sweet Life aired on a new and fledgling network called The Comedy Channel, which only years later morphed into Comedy Central.

In the early 1990s, King served as writer for the hit sitcom Murphy Brown. He went on to write and executive produce several episodes of Will & Grace. He also served as writer/director/executive producer of the short-lived HBO show The Comeback starring Lisa Kudrow.

King is best known for his work on the smash HBO series Sex & the City, which he served as writer/director/executive producer from 1999 to 2004. He was won a Best Director Emmy Award for the episode The Reel Me in 2002.

Sex & the City: The Movie, one of the most highly-anticipated movies of the Summer 2008 movie season, opens nationwide Friday, May 30th, 2008.

The New York Times article, written by Ginia Bellafante, is titled Back to the City, for More Than Just Sex. To read the article, click here.

Also of note is that the bottom of the first page of the Summer Movies section reads:

How Michael Patrick King got
himself from Scranton
to "Sex and
the City."

Seasons 1-6 of Sex & The City are available to borrow from libraries throughout the Lackawanna County Library System.

Muchos gracias to the phenomenally groovy Evelyn Gibbons for this reference.

UPDATED May 10th: Someone Meeboed me a question regarding Mr. King:

" I just found your blog after reading the NY Times article about Sex and the City. Do you know which "small college in Pennsylvania" Michael Patrick went to?"

After a little digging, I discovered that Michael Patrick King attended Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, according to