The Sunday Magazine: Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio

I was very fortunate to have a very good friend living in New York City when I got my first job in 1984 in Connecticut. It allowed me to explore one of the great cities of the world as a young man. Current events got me to thinking about one of my favorite experiences seeing a play in a theatre.

In 1987 Eric Bogosian produced a new play called “Talk Radio” for the New York Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Bogosian had made a name for himself with his one-man shows. They were series of monologues by different characters. They would attract the attention of the biggest Broadway producer of the era Joseph Papp who asked Mr. Bogosian for a new production for the NY Shakespeare Festival which Mr. Papp oversaw. This was the opportunity for Mr. Bogosian to have his play “Talk Radio” produced.

Eric Bogosian as Barry Champlain in "Talk Radio"

“Talk Radio” tells the story of one night in the life of talk radio personality Barry Champlain. The night the play takes place is the day before his show becomes syndicated nationally. Barry is shown early on as the master of his domain, toying with his callers. One encounter is with a caller named Josh who worries that international bank policies will harm the Third World. Visually over Mr. Bogosian’s shoulder there is a screen which shows the headlight of a train as he bores in on the caller. As he humiliates Josh for his inability to properly define Third World the picture of the train gets larger and larger until as it fills up on the screen he hangs up on the caller.

Another encounter takes place when a caller questions Barry’s ethnicity; suspecting him of being secretly Jewish. Barry tells a story of a visit to a concentration camp. As he walked through the camp, he recalls how he found a Star of David among the gravel. He wonders who it had belonged to. He then says he pocketed it and returned home with it. In fact, as he is talking to the caller, he is looking at it on his console. Except we as the audience see him looking at his glass of whisky not a Star of David. He then brutally takes down the caller before she hangs up on him.

Throughout the play the people in Barry’s life provide background as they step forward during commercial breaks to tell how they met him. Linda who also works at the radio station tells how she met him and eventually slept with him. She finishes her monologue with this line, “Barry Champlain is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” The play ends with the realization that Barry is the creature behind the microphone; leaving it up to the audience to decide what that means.

In 1987 talk radio was in its infancy. It is still amazing to me how right Mr. Bogosian would be as the future of the form was syndication. These voices in the dark spread from their town to the nation at large. Because I saw this prior to that I have always imagined every talk radio personality as a version of Barry. Which means I take all of them with a huge grain of salt because I am not sure when they are actually holding a Star of David or talking to a glass of booze. I suspect that like Barry it is all about being entertaining enough to your audience without stressing out too much about accuracy. It is why I never see them as purveyors of truth but entertainers. It also means I can listen to any of them because I don’t take them seriously.

“Talk Radio” would become a movie a year after it was produced, directed by Oliver Stone. In just that short time a Denver talk radio host Alan Berg was shot by a listener. They would graft some of Mr. Berg’s life onto the play to produce the movie which has a different ending. At the time I found the movie ending to be unrealistic. Recent times have shown me that might be a false assumption.

Of all the memories I have of New York City the night I saw Eric Bogosian perform “Talk Radio” is among my favorite and long-lasting ones.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: When TV Shows Kill a Main Character

I am currently watching three TV shows which are, or about to, kill of one of the main characters who have been around since the beginning of the series. They are Roseanne Barr on The Conners, Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood on House of Cards, and Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. These choices are foisted upon the writers of each show not because they want to do it but because the actors involved caused themselves to be removed voluntarily, or not. I’ve thought back to other shows which have killed off main characters to find one commonality; the bigger the cast the less effect losing the character has.

The first character I remember being killed on a series I watched was when Col. Henry Blake played by McLean Stevenson on M*A*S*H died on his way home at the end of season three. The series would adapt by becoming less comedic and more dramatic. It was probably one of the first series that could have been called a dramedy. If Col. Blake had continued it seems unlikely that M*A*S*H would have become the sharply written anti-war series it did.

McLean Stevenson as Col. Henry Blake on M*A*S*H

“Grey’s Anatomy” was a show which shuffled characters off the show under tragic circumstances constantly. So often it became a part of the writing. Which was why when they killed off Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd it became the place where I parted ways with the show. One reason was it was that relationship of Meredith Grey and Derek which made me a fan in the first episode and its loss was what drove me away. When a character is part of the reason you watch a show even if it is a large ensemble their loss can make it easy to walk away.

One which worked differently for me was the death of Josh Charles’ Will Gardner on “The Good Wife”. Much like Grey’s Anatomy it was the relationship between Will and Juliana Margulies’ Alicia Florrick which brought me to the show. I expected to drift away after his death in season 5. What surprised me was the show reminded me that the title referred to Ms. Margulies’ character. Watching her deal with the loss of what might have been in such a final manner made for great television.

I haven’t yet watched the shows I mentioned in the first paragraph since the departure of the characters. I suspect that “The Conners” is going to become more like M*A*S*H with a sharper focus on a mixture of comedy and drama. I suspect that “House of Cards” is going to miss Frank Underwood I’ll probably get through this final season, but I think it might be a chore. The Walking Dead can remind me that there are some other main characters who can expand into the space vacated by Rick Grimes’ departure. I believe this might become closer to the way I felt about “The Good Wife”. Over the next few months I’ll answer my own question.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Axiom Series by Tim Pratt

One of my favorite lines in all of science fiction comes at the end of Blade Runner when the android Roy Batty is about to hit his expiration date. He says, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” For years I have filled in those visions with vast space battles in my imagination. There is a sub-genre of science fiction which scratches that itch for me called space opera. As you can tell from the name it is a story told in easily plotted installments usually following the crew of a ship on their journeys. There have been some good stand-alone versions, but it has been a while since a series has caught my attention. The new Axiom Series by author Tim Pratt has done that.

I have a feeling Mr. Pratt is also a fan because the Axion series is a step away from his typical fantasy books. I think because space opera is not as buttoned down as some other science fiction authors are granted a bit more leeway to play with their plot.

In the first book in the series, The Wrong Stars, we are introduced to our crew of proto-rebels aboard the White Raven. Captain Callie is a tough exterior head of the crew. Her second-in-command and doctor, Stephen, is in the curmudgeonly questioning type pioneered by Dr. Leonard McCoy in Star Trek. The mechanic is a cyborg, Ashok. Drake and Janice are the other members of the crew as pilot and navigator respectively. In the very first chapter the crew comes upon a “goldilocks ship”. These were ships launched hundreds of years prior looking for new worlds that were “just right”. They weren’t supposed to return. As the crew investigates they find Dr. Elena Oh who says she has returned to announce first contact with an alien race. Except since she has been gone humanity had already made contact with an alien race called “The Liars”. They have been the bridge to the stars for humankind, but they are unable to tell the truth; about anything. Once the crew brings Dr. Oh and her ship The Anjou back to their base The Liars take one look and flee.

Tim Pratt

From here the uncovering of the other alien race encountered by the crew of The Anjou; The Axiom and what that portends is what drives the story. By the end of the first book Callie and the White Raven are the only ones who know and can deal with the threat posed by The Axiom. Book 2 “The Dreaming Stars” follows their journey further. That there will be book 3 next year tells you The Dreaming Stars is not where things end.

Mr. Pratt has written an incredibly enjoyable space opera I zipped through both books in a few days. They carry you along with them as the find figurative attack ships and c-beams among the stars. If you want something like that the first two books of The Axiom Series are what you’re looking for.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Netflix Marvel Universe After Two Seasons

I remember sitting at New York Comic Con in 2012 and being told by Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel TV, that they had struck a deal with Netflix. The plan was to have four “street level” superheroes living in New York City of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2013 this began with the release of Daredevil followed by Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. The plan was to do as they had in the movies to introduce each character and then team them up in a series called The Defenders. At the beginning of September, the second season of Iron Fist gave each of those original heroes two seasons. It also spawned a spin-off series in The Punisher who was introduced in Daredevil season 2. As Daredevil Season 3 has just started, which I haven’t started watching, I thought it was a good time to look back at what works and what doesn’t.

The first thing which is paramount to success is a good villain. The Kingpin as played by Vincent D’Onofrio in Daredevil has been an omnipresent influence even while in prison in Season 2. As long as he is part of any Daredevil season it will probably be worth watching. The other great villain was from Jessica Jones where David Tenant portrayed the mind controlling Kilgrave. Kilgrave would lead to the PTSD suffered by Jessica in season 2 which again shows how a well-drawn villain has a longer effect than their time on screen. Both Luke Cage and Iron Fist suffered from having villains who were interested in political or corporate power. They are stories but The Kingpin and Kilgrave felt like threats. At no time watching Luke Cage and Iron Fist did the villains really seem threatening.

The one thing they all got right was the supporting cast. So much that many of the characters were able to show up in multiple series. They were working with solid source material but the performances of all the actors in the roles has been remarkable. I want to especially point out Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing and Simone Messick as Detective Misty Knight. If I wasn’t enthralled by the villains in Luke Cage and Iron fist these two women and their interaction was awesome. They are a duo within the comic book world and I am hoping to see a version of that team in the Netflix world.

The one thing they all mostly got wrong were the number of episodes. Even in the best cases thirteen episodes were too many along with a rhythm of storytelling which got repetitive. Six episodes leading to a minor victory which revealed a bigger enemy in the next episode who pressured the hero for four more episodes to a seeming victory only to have the final two episodes culminate in the final ending. If they cut these down to 8-10 episode seasons, without the filler, all of these would have been better across the board. My evidence for that is season 2 of Iron Fist was 10 episodes and it was much better.

It turns out Netflix was doing some assessing too. Both Iron Fist and Luke Cage have been canceled in the last week. I am hoping that this might mean a new series rises from these ashes teaming up the two characters along with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. There has been no announcement of that but that seems like a series with potential.

My assessment is that the Netflix Marvel series are still a work in progress with the two best, Daredevil and Jessica jones, entering third seasons. The Punisher suffered from many of the flaws of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Which makes me think season 2 for that series will be pivotal to its survival. At least for now the Netflix Marvel Universe has still not lived up to its potential but that opportunity remains depending on what comes next.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: A Star is Born

I am not a fan of the movie remake. The great majority of the time it seems like an exercise in laziness infused with vanity. A modern set of movie stars want to see if they can do better than what came before. The answer almost every time is “No!” It turns out that there are some stories which can be told again and again because they are about celebrity. “A Star is Born” seems to be one of them.

The first version of “A Star is Born” was released in 1937 and revolved around the acting business. It sets the template for all the successive versions. Older popular male star meets younger unknown female talent. The trajectories of their careers go in different directions exacerbating the addiction problems of the older man leading to tragedy. The story is simple. The plot is as straight as an arrow if not a bit trite. Yet all four versions of this movie succeed because the actors in the leading roles have something to say about stardom and fame. Fredric March and Janet Gaynor showed us the Hollywood studio system. In 1954 it was transformed to a musical starring James Mason and Judy Garland. This was still a story about the motion picture business, but Ms. Garland’s character was an aspiring singer, too. By 1976 Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand turned it into a commentary on the music business. In the most recent version Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga retain the music business setting.

Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally in "A Star is Born"

The new version was one of those projects stuck in development hell for many years. Beyonce was going to be the young singer and every A-list actor you can name was rumored to be interested in playing opposite her. Then she stopped waiting. In the interim Mr. Cooper became interested not only as an actor but as a director. When the studio gave the green light to move forward he chose Lady Gaga as his co-star.

Lady Gaga plays Ally as songwriter sometime singer at a cabaret. When she has her first encounter with Mr. Cooper’s Jackson Maine singing “La Vie en Rose” I was reminded of the movie “Cabaret”. Lady Gaga stalks the room handing out roses until she stretches out on the bar in front of Jackson handing out her final rose. From there they spend the night roaming through the after-hours life of a big city cautiously opening up to each other. Throughout this introductory sequence Mr. Cooper uses a directorial technique of close-up on the two faces when they become the most connected. I found it effective because it felt like I was being drawn into a secret conversation. It also visually cues that when these two characters are connected there is nothing else to be seen. Throughout the movie the close-up of both characters is used effectively.

The music is a mixture of the roots rock of Jackson Maine to the almost everything else by Lady Gaga. If there are people who dismiss her as spectacle over substance I think a couple hours in the theatre will change some minds. She is not going to be seen as lesser than Gaynor, Garland, or Streisand. Although in this case on the acting front a star truly is born. She is going to have some interesting places to go on the movie screen after this.

I always wait to see what song manages to find purchase in my head. Which song am I hearing over and over. For this movie it is “Always Remember Us this Way”. I laugh to myself because when the Streisand version was released in 1976 the song “Evergreen” was my high school, and many many others, prom song. I have a feeling “Always Remember Us This Way” is about to have a similar popularity. It is the best song in a movie of many because it starts slow and builds allowing Lady Gaga’s voice at times to be the sole instrument playing. It is one of the best ballads in her career.

I wrote a few backs about movie star v. celebrity. “A Star is Born”, in every version, is a story about the latter how it lifts you up only to tear you down. That it turns out to be a timeless story has something to do with the original screenplay. It also has something to do with eight incredibly talented actors who have shown it to be true. The new version is part of that.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Applejack

I know fall has become pumpkin spice time for many people. I am not one of them. Growing up in Florida fall was just extended summer. I never understood the whole change of leaves, harvest celebration that takes place throughout most of the country. My first jobs were in New England where I spent 28 years. In that time, I did come to embrace the fall harvest culture. Every October I looked forward to apple picking trips. Which is why apples will always be the thing I overdose on in the autumn.

On one of my farm trips I walked into the barn to pay and found people sipping something. As I approached I was asked if I wanted some applejack. Never shy to try something new I was handed a small amount. It was very alcoholic with a tart scent of apples. My host explained it was apple brandy. As I took a sip I was enthralled by the way the apples made it all palatable and smooth. The farm wasn’t licensed to sell it, but I knew I wanted more because I felt it was going to be a great cocktail ingredient. Turns out the story behind commercial applejack is a great historical tale.

The most prominent commercial seller of applejack is Laird and Company. They began when Alexander Laird settled in New Jersey in 1698. He was a distiller and the material he had to work with was apples. Over time he would go from supplying family and friends to stocking the local Inn which was a stagecoach stop. By the time of the Revolutionary War George Washington requested the recipe. In response the Laird family supplied the troops with applejack. Once the war was over Robert Laird received Federal Liquor License #1. Lisa Laird is the ninth generation of the family to be part of the applejack business as Vice President of the company.

Applejack is a fall substitute for the whisky in cocktails like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. It gives an apple kick to both of those. I am a big fan of the classics and there is a classic cocktail which I regularly make with applejack; The Pink Lady.

The Pink Lady is one of those drinks derided in the movies of the as a “lady’s drink”. The name is descriptive but if you think a “lady’s drink” has less of a punch The Pink Lady will knock you out. The better the ingredients you use the more impressive the simple mixture becomes. The recipe is three parts gin to one part applejack plus half part lemon juice and half part grenadine plus one egg white. Combine all the ingredients in a shaker minus the ice and shake. Add ice after the egg white has been absorbed shake some more and then strain into a glass.

I like using a strong herbal gin, like my local Green Hat, and I make the effort to make fresh grenadine. I’ve seen many a house guest smirk when I say I’m serving them a Pink Lady only to ask for seconds. It is a fantastic autumn Happy Hour choice.

While everyone else is drinking their pumpkin spice whatever I’m happy to stand to the side sipping my Pink Lady.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Sound of Horror

I walked away from the television a few nights ago and on my way back the hair rose on my forearms and neck. What caused this? The end of a commercial for the new version of the horror film “Halloween”. It wasn’t anything but the date of the release on the screen. What caused my response was the simple theme from the original movie playing for the last five or ten seconds. Just hearing the simple piano theme elicited the suspense response. As I sat back down I began to think back and realize there are three other examples where the music does as much of the work as the villain.

Music is the unsung character in a horror movie. When the low sounds of cellos and violins begin to gain some momentum, we lean forward in anticipation. It has become a staple to let the music build the tension as the generally stupid person is about to meet a grisly end. I mention the strings because the first iconic theme has become synonymous with stabbing someone.

If someone starts going, “eee, eee, eee, eee” while stabbing at you with an empty fist they are using a musical shorthand from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 movie “Psycho”. When the killer of the movie stabs Janet Leigh’s character multiple times through a shower curtain the high-pitched strings are timed to each downward stroke. Even 58 years past its release it is part of our culture.

The same is true of the “da dum, da dum, da dum” when people do that it means there is something stalking you. On screen director Steven Spielberg was able to use composer John Williams’ simple two note refrain in the 1975 movie “Jaws” as a stand-in for their malfunctioning robotic shark. The audience knew there was something under the water and Mr. Williams had just the right audio set-up for allowing us to know someone was about to be eaten.

Three years earlier director William Friedkin took an avant-garde musical piece by Mike Oldfield and turned it into the theme of the devil in “The Exorcist”. Mr. Oldfield had made a long-form musical composition called “Tubular Bells”. After notes from the movie studio that they wanted a softer musical score Mr. Friedkin found this haunting simple piano melody that made up the first movement of the longer “Tubular Bells”. It is the simplicity of the piano which sends chills up your spine and makes you turn the lights on.

Which brings me back to where we started. In 1978 when director writer John Carpenter was making “Halloween” he didn’t have enough money or time to use a traditional score. So, he sat down at a piano himself and came up with the simple progression played in a sped-up 5/4 time. In three days, he completely composed all the music. “Halloween” would set the stage for the slasher genre of horror movies to come.

That all four of these movies are considered some of the best horror movies ever might have something to do with the music.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Why I Still Read Books

I was challenged to one of those Facebook things where you post a picture of an album cover, favorite movie scene or book cover. It was the last one which I responded to. As I’ve posted a new cover every day this week I realized reading books is still one of my favorite activities. Which got me thinking a bit more about why that is so.

One thing I’m afraid of is thirty years from now a lot of this generation might not be able to fulfill this challenge. Reading a book has begun to seem equivalent to writing with a pen; rarely done. For all that the information revolution has improved things, book reading might become a long-term casualty. I have asked a few of the people in my life, in their twenties, what the last book was they read. I’ve received mostly looks like I asked for them to remember what they did last summer or the one before that. What makes me look forward to reading?

The one thing I have enjoyed is the transition from printed page to my tablet. The print is always the right size and perfectly lit. I can read anywhere anytime now. The one thing I miss is my regular trips to the bookstore browsing the new release shelves. So many books made it into my hands because of an attractive dust jacket or compelling come on in the interior flap of that dust jacket. I’ve gotten over that the same way I got over album covers informing my music choices by sampling. Almost any book will let you sample a chapter or two online. It is fun to read a sample chapter followed by hitting download and continuing. All of that is just convenience. There is an even larger reason I still read books.

It is because there is no other art form which immerses my imagination more fully. When a historian takes me to a specific era I am there, surrounded in my head by those people. When a science fiction write puts me on a new planet it exists informed by the words on the page. When a detective novel discovers a body I’m on the case, too. When a writer creates an entire fantasy universe it becomes my fantasy universe.

When I sit down to read I am not multitasking. I am solely doing one thing; reading. It is why it is so immersive. Even the best video games can’t provide the same experience. Reading outpaces all of that. I hope that I am not part of the last generation which sees the value in that.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: The Single Greatest Episode of Television

I had something all ready to go for this column and then I woke up to Facebook this morning and this post: “It was five years ago tonight that the single greatest episode of television aired.” As soon as I read it I knew exactly what he was talking about; although I checked IMDB to be sure.

Five years ago, I was sitting down to the penultimate episode of the final season of Breaking Bad called “Ozymandias”. There is no single episode of the series I remember more clearly. The show would end its run a week later but it is this episode which stands out.

One reason it stands out is it ties off several plot strands instead of leaving them to what would have been an overstuffed final episode. From its beginning Breaking Bad was the story of a man doing bad things for a good reason. The entire series is a testament to the old axiom about the path to hell being paved with good intentions. As we near the end Walter White has become a morally bankrupt character. His action, or inaction, has caused the death of many. In “Ozymandias” two of those come home to roost. One was watching a character die while doing nothing. This plot strand was two years in the making to hit this payoff. When Walt reveals his indifference to his longtime partner in crime, Jesse, it is the height of cruelty. The episode opens with a reminder of Walt and Jesse in happier(?) days when they first started cooking meth. By the time it circles around to current events it captures the line from the poem which gives the episode the title, “Look on my Works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Bryan Cranston as Walter White

The final three lines of the poem are “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/ Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/ The lone and level sands stretch far away.” Those describe the final act of the episode as it revolves around a final phone call from Walt back to his wife Skyler. The acting was always of the highest caliber in Breaking Bad, but this single exchange might be its best. Bryan Cranston who plays Walt and Anna Gunn playing Skyler payoff four seasons worth of story in four minutes.

Anna Gunn as Skyler White

Walt calls Skyler knowing the DEA will have tapped his phone. He wants to take this opportunity to exonerate her in the eyes of the authorities. When Skyler begins to talk with him she begs him to turn himself in. Walt cruelly castigates her for her lack of support. It seems like he is compounding the cruelty shown Jesse earlier in the episode. But he isn’t. We know this because Ms. Gunn shows the audience with a narrowing of her eyes what is happening. As Walt continues to spout hateful things we cut to his face as he chokes back sobs. Again, the facial acting of Mr. Cranston is incredible as that is where you see the true emotion; not in the words. Those words though will exonerate Skyler and keep her from being dragged down by Walt’s acts. As the conversation ends with Walt’s words, “I still got things to do.” It is like a gut punch of emotion.

One other piece of this scene is the direction by Rian Johnson. As the phone call takes place he moves the camera from shadow to light and one profile to the other to visually cue the double-sided nature of the conversation. It provides the actors the opportunity to switch masks as the scene progresses. Mr. Johnson would use his work on Breaking Bad to find himself directing a little movie called Star Wars: The Last Jedi a couple years later. If you watch that movie you will notice some of the same kind of camerawork and staging from “Ozymandias” is also found in a galaxy far, far away.

I am far from being alone in my praise of this episode. It was what the series submitted to the Emmy committees the year it aired. Should be no surprise it won multiple awards including acting ones for Mr. Cranston and Ms. Gunn.

If you watched Breaking Bad, it is worth reminding yourself of this episode by watching it again. If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad and someday do just know it isn’t the final hour which will leave you devastated but the one just before it.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Burt Reynolds

One of the reasons my first car was a Chevrolet Camaro was because of Burt Reynolds. I always hoped to have a fast-American car. I wasn’t interested in a Maserati I wanted a V-8 that roared. I also believed in my mind’s eye I would take it on adventures on two-lane blacktops with the speedometer pegged to its limit. That was all Mr. Reynolds’ fault.

Mr. Reynolds was one of the few actors who made movies about running from the authorities in fast cars. The first movie I remember seeing like this was 1973’s “White Lightning” Nearly the entire last act of the movie is an extended car chase. Mr. Reynolds made it look fun. Whenever I would be sitting in the car parked in the driveway I was pretending to be Gator McKlusky on the run from the law.

Because of Mr. Reynolds’s charisma these movies found a wider audience than expected. Throughout the 1970’s he would build a larger-than-life persona as a “mans’ man”. It was not only evident on the movie screen. It showed up in riotous appearances with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show”. It put on display the mischievous streak which always played throughout his characters during this era. It would reach its height with 1977’s “Smokey and the Bandit”. If the earlier films had a specialized audience, this was the movie that broke through. For the next six years there was a movie, or two, which featured Mr. Reynolds behind the wheel of a car.

Burt Reynolds

By the early 1980’s the fast car movies had run their course. It would open a new phase of his career as he began to take on more dramatic parts. There was a wide belief that he might not be up to the task. It turned out there was something underneath it all. His Oscar nominated role in 1997’s “Boogie Nights” where he portrayed porn impresario Jack Horner is the best example. As I have re-watched the movie over the years I came to realize how important his performance was. It is the hub through which much of the plot travels.

It would re-energize his career for the final part of his life. It wasn’t a great movie but watching him play Boss Hogg in the 2005 “The Dukes of Hazzard” movie remake seemed like his movie career had come full circle.

I now drive an SUV but occasionally, on a clear day, my mind’s eye transforms things. I am behind the wheel of a muscle car where the sound of the engine rumbling and the tires squealing through the turns is a perfect soundtrack. Hopefully that is what Mr. Reynolds has found in the afterlife.

Mark Behnke