It's hard to believe that Hollywood icon John Frankenheimer was only in his early 70s. He accomplished so much during his short years and leaves us with some of the the most memorable of message movies. Much of his best work was done in the 1960s, including the controversial "The Manchurian Candidate," "Black Sunday" and "The Birdman of Alcatraz." After falling out of favor as a big-screen director, he returned to television and re-emerged as the gritty "golden boy" of small-screen drama; he was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards during half a century directing for the tube. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he brought a wide range of drama to both screens, from political thrillers to socially themed plays. His early days of directing occurred when TV was in its infancy and live drama was the thing. It took a great director to evoke the kind of "single take, no chance to redo it" drama that became his hallmark in the early days of the medium. His last major project was "Path to War" for HBO. His death, in a Los Angeles hospital, came as the result of a stroke in the wake of spinal surgery. John Frankenheimer was 72.
CARRIE MEEK DECIDES NOT TO RUN
A genuine pioneering American female politician has decided that she has had enough of Washington and will soon officially announce that she won't seek re-election. The Miami Herald says that 76-year-old Rep. Carrie Meek, the first black woman to be elected to the Florida Senate (back in the early '80s) and the first female of her race to serve in Washington in modern times, has told a church congregation that she will return to private life when her current term ends in January of next year. She must make the decision official within the next two weeks to clear the way for others to step in and run in the primary. It is thought that one of her children may seek to follow in Meek's footsteps. By the way, she made the preliminary announcement in an emotional statement at a Baptist church in Liberty City, Fla. It was in that church that she first announced her intentions to seek public office nearly two dozen years ago.
LONGEST-SERVING FBI WORKER RETIRES
When Mildred C. Parsons joined the FBI, Elliott Ness was still on the payroll. America had not yet had to fight in the Second World War. There was no real television to speak of. FDR was in the White House and her new boss, J. Edgar Hoover, was considered to be a demi-god. Now, after nearly 63 years with the national police force, she's stepping down, retiring. The agency she served all those years says on its Web site that Parsons, during her long career, was personal secretary to 30 different heads of the Washington Field Office. That's a lot of memos and filed letters. Parsons was born about an hour north of the nation's capital in Frederick, Md., the home of legendary Barbara Fritchie. She moved to Washington when she joined the FBI in 1939. What next for the widowed Parsons? She tells fbi.com that she just wants to relax and travel. By the way, the current director of the bureau unveiled a plaque in her honor at the D.C. headquarters of his agency.
SPARTACUS TO LIVE AGAIN
In case you subscribe to the theory that classic motion pictures should never be remade, you're not alone. Look at the efforts to redo "Psycho" and keep it just the same. It wasn't. Look at efforts to redo "Gone With the Wind" ("Raintree County" notwithstanding), or even "Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Well, if you are a dyed-in-the-wool believer that there should be a constitutional amendment forbidding the remake of "Citizen Kane," then you might not want to hear that there are plans to redo "Spartacus" and "Papillon." But, breathe somewhat easier, neither is due for a theatrical treatment, but both will soon show up as TV miniseries. According to Variety's online service, those two blockbuster films will become multinight presentations on the USA Network. Both will be ambitious projects. In addition, original crime movies and a type of sequel to "Traffic" are planned. Maybe this time there won't be a jet plane in the sky when Spartacus marches his men.
TOBY KEITH TO TRY BENNETT METHOD
Remember the successful TV programs in which Tony Bennett, accompanied by the ever-present Ralph Sharon and his group, took requests via telephone on live broadcasts, essentially letting the audience set the playlist? Soon other major concert artists copied the concept. Well, either singer Toby Keith's handlers missed those shows or believe that imitation is the highest form of flattery. The folks at country.com are reporting that Keith will do much the same in a special event with the strangely pompous name: "MWL Special: Toby Keith Live, Uncut & Unleashed." Few other details have been released. All we know is that it will be aired on Country Music Television in the coming weeks, performed before a live audience with those in attendance sending up their requests. Keith's latest album, "Unleashed," is due out in two weeks. More details on the broadcast event are promised after that.
YOU WOULD THINK SOME PEOPLE NEVER LEARN
Floridian Michael Holmes decided the best way to cure his boredom was to call the police department on a Gainesville 911 line. Oh, and not just once ... over 800 times in one night. Before his calling frenzy was over, police records show that he called more than 1,100 times. According to the Gainesville Sun, the 20-year-old used a variety of voices and gave many reasons for seeking help. Now police in that northern Florida city report that even on the busiest of nights they seldom receive 200 calls ... and Holmes had made that amazing 800 in just a few hours. To make matters worse, he used several outgoing phone lines to call in simultaneously to different operators at the Gainesville call center. Then, using his expertise with telephones, managed to lash the lines together so he was able to hear the operators talk to each other when they suddenly found they were connected, for no apparent reason. When arrested, Holmes told police of his "problem with being bored." He promised that he would stop making the calls if he were given a bribe of $15 million. If police couldn't come up with $15 million, he said he would take a new car instead. Yes, he'll have his day in court soon.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 366
After a short hiatus for some "vacation time" and to provide for some computer redoing, the UPI Daily Survey is back. And to start our second year with it, here is today's question: "What is the most expensive item you ever purchased that you wish you have never bought in the first place?" (And don't say a word about my current used car!) Put ITEM in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
CATCHING UP ON OLDER SURVEY QUESTIONS ...
It's time to start catching up on previously asked survey questions. Because of our hiatus, we're slugging our way through a ton of e-mail. So, here are some of your thoughts on past questions: (EVACUATE/356) Terry Shook responded to our question about having to suddenly evacuate by telling us about experiences during the wildfires of 1998. The sheriff went door to door and only gave people 30 minutes to evacuate. Terry's reply was one of several relating to a wildfire or brushfire. IMTU recalls a time when flooding forced the evacuation of his entire grade school in just a few minutes. CWS never had to be evacuated but has memories of the several times the floodwall had to be sandbagged on the Wabash River. (JESSE/357) In response to our question about entertainers in politics, Pat W, along with a ton of others, mentioned how well Ronald Reagan did as a civic leader after years on the silver screen and TV. Debra D says that Reagan was the exception, rather than the usual thing, though. Charlie wonders if there's really much difference between actors and politicians, anyway. (SPORTS/358) At the top of the list of memorable sports broadcasters, (prompted by the death of Cardinals announcer Jack Buck), Howard Cosell got an amazing number of votes. Others who got votes included Frank Gifford, NASCAR's Darrell Waltrip, Myron Cope (famous Pittsburgh broadcaster), and Vin Scully. Additionally, and I very much agree, Harry Caray got several mentions, as did Jim McKay and Bob Prince. Personally, I remember when Tom Harmon had his own daily show. TOMORROW: More catching up. GBA.