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'!