Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Husband of Interest

It won't be too much longer, I would imagine, before we find out what happened to Jane Bashara, along with the how and the why.

The Grosse Pointe marketing executive whose body was found in her vehicle miles from her home has been dominating local news since she was strangled (police say) last week.

Today, investigators shared some more of their theories.

Bashara was likely killed in her home, investigators say. And, the killer likely had an accomplice.

More details keep seeping out---like the little one about husband Bob Bashara having a girlfriend, and that he was reportedly trying to buy said girlfriend a house.

And the whispers that the Basharas' marriage was "on the rocks."

And that Bob Bashara failed a polygraph test, according to sources.

And that his account of where he was the day/night of his wife's apparent murder doesn't jibe with what police believe happened.

And that Bob Bashara's business owed more than $10,000 in back taxes.

So you can see that the likelihood of Jane Bashara being set upon by a stranger in her home, at random, then strangled and her body driven several miles away, is almost farcical.

Another wife gets bumped off.

Bob and Jane Bashara

I'm tired of men killing their wives. They ever hear of divorce? The wife gets to live and the husband gets to not spend the rest of his life in jail. Seems like a win/win to me.

Because it's not like these hubbies are out there committing the perfect murders. They almost always get caught relatively soon, sometimes before the funeral has even taken place (Jane Bashara's was today). And if not soon, they're usually caught eventually.

The Bashara case might be one of someone being hired to kill the wife. It's unclear whether Bob Bashara's alibi will hold up.

Regardless, she's dead, he's the lone "person of interest" and how much do you want to bet that the police break this wide open before the end of next week?

What's a little unusual about the Bashara case is that members of both sides of the family contend that Bob, nicknamed "Big Bob," was incapable of committing such an atrocity.

Incapable? Really?

Is anyone---and I mean anyone---truly "incapable" of taking another's life? What if an argument escalated into physical contact? Don't people "lose it" all the time and lash out physically?

Of course, no one wants to think that those close to them are capable of murder. How creepy would that be?

And I understand why no one in the Bashara family---from both sides of the aisle, if you will---wants to think that "Big Bob" could kill anyone, much less his own wife.

But no one is truly incapable of behavior of the worst kind. Some are just more capable than others, and vice-versa.

Somewhere in these facts and details that keep tumbling out lies the truth about what happened to Jane Bashara, how it happened, and why.

And, sadly, it's likely that the trail of suspicion and detection will land at "Big Bob's" doorstep.

As usual.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Close Enough

OK, it's getting ridiculous now, the range of actress Glenn Close.

Is there any character that she can't, or won't, play?

Not satisfied with playing a wide range of women, Close is now branching out to the other gender---sort of.
Close is now dazzling us in "Albert Nobbs," where she plays the title character: an attendant in a well-appointed 19th-Century Dublin hotel. The work has earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

But there's more to it. Nobbs is a woman disguised as a man. Yes, "Victor/Victoria" comes to mind, though "Nobbs" is no comedic farce.

The idea of one gender pretending to be another for some sort of personal gain isn't new, of course. Flat out comedies like "Some Like it Hot" to reflective films like "Yentl" have used the device.

But "Nobbs" is different. It's based on a short story by an Irish novelist, and according to a story in today's Free Press has been a passion of Close's since she won an Obie for playing the role in 1982.

Glenn Close as "Albert Nobbs", which earned her an Oscar nomination, her sixth

It's not enough to merely throw on the other sex's clothing, sit in a make-up chair for several hours and report to work on the set. Anyone can do that. Close's Oscar nomination is proof that she not only can look like a man, she can make an emotional connection to one as well.

The transgender role on film has often been equated with social outcast, and that's the same in "Nobbs." Albert isn't just playing dress-up, after all.

I first became aware of Glenn Close in 1983's "The Big Chill," where she played Kevin Kline's wife. Four years later, she terrified most men in the acclaimed thriller "Fatal Attraction."

Since then, Close has just about run the gamut when it comes to the women she's played, both from an emotional and historical standpoint.

So not satisfied with playing women any longer, looks like Close is setting her sights on playing men, though Albert Nobbs is a woman pretending to be a man. Still, for most of the film she is, for all intents and purposes, a man.

It can be argued that Close and Meryl Streep are the two greatest female actors in film today. It can also be argued that it's been that way for the better part of the past two decades.

But Close, despite five Oscar nominations prior to her latest one for "Albert Nobbs," has yet to win the gold statue. Streep has an astounding 17 Oscar nominations, including two wins.

Close is 64; Streep is 62. Their careers have virtually run parallel to each other.

But Meryl Streep hasn't played a man---yet.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nature or Plastic?

Lesley Visser, the statuesque, longtime correspondent for CBS Sports, was on my TV screen last weekend. And I barely recognized her.

She had that "look" about her. The one that has, more and more, vexed both male and female celebrities---though more female than male.

The "look" is what we'll refer to here as "the Joan Rivers Syndrome."

You know---plastic surgery gone wild.

WHY are so many people in the entertainment industry who appear on stage or in front of the camera allowing butchers to take to their face?

The results aren't pretty---literally.

Lesley Visser, I thought, was an attractive woman in her 50s who was aging quite well---and naturally. Yes, she had a jogging accident in 2006 which required some surgery to her face, but what I saw last weekend as she did some pre-game NFL playoff work, was above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak.

She's hardly alone.

Even Marie Osmond---yes, Kewpie doll-cute Marie Osmond---looks to have gone under the knife. And I thought her Mormon beliefs would have forbade such work.

The Joan Rivers Syndrome is hard to pinpoint. You can tell that someone who's afflicted with the Syndrome has had something done, but you can't quite narrow it down to anything specific. Rather, the entire face has an unnatural puffiness to it. The eyes are more almond shaped. The lips are thicker. The skin has a smoothness to it that makes it resemble something that the folks at Madame Tussauds came up with, using their magic wax.

The Syndrome victims look, at the same time, like they went 15 rounds in a boxing ring, and had their face ironed. It's a strange combination, which is why it looks so grotesque.

I don't know why those who opt for plastic surgery think the "after" looks better than the "before." In fact, the "after" makes them look like they are suffering from some sort of glandular disease.

THIS is why I named it Joan Rivers Syndrome

Dolly Parton, who has a new movie out with Queen Latifah, also has Joan Rivers Syndrome (heck, let's start calling it JRS for short).

Heather Locklear, another one.

And on and on.

Wayne Newton, among the men, maybe looks the creepiest nowadays. How ironic, for if anyone has a job for life in the entertainment industry, it's Wayne-o. Yet he opted to have his face reconstructed, and when I saw him last year on "Dancing With the Stars," I was appalled. Even natural facial expressions like smiling looked weird, thanks to JRS.

The worst part is that the plastic surgery can't be undone. Once the knife is lowered, its work is oh-so-permanent. And for the worse.

Give me the celebrity who chooses to let nature take its course, rather than the one who causes you to want DNA to prove their identity.

Oh, if you want to look at some more plastic surgery catastrophes, click HERE. Good luck.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wild Pitch

Whatever happened to Mr. Belvedere? Or Marilyn Turner, hawking Carpet Center?

How about Bob Allison for Bobson Construction?

Remember Mel Farr and his cape, "flying" through the skies over Metro Detroit, promising a "Farr better deal" on Ford cars?

Or the Metro Detroit Ford Dealers commercials, which always featured sports celebrities, including all the Detroit sports team coaches at one time or another?

I'm still wondering if anyone got five pounds of free coffee from Ollie Fretter for finding a deal that he couldn't beat.

I can still see the homely face of Irving Nussbaum of New York Carpet World, with his tag line, "The BETTER carpet people!"

The company pitchman, in Detroit, has often been more well-known than the product being sold.

I should know; I work for one.

Brian Elias, my boss at 1-800-HANSONS, is one of the last of a dying breed, along with Gordie over at ABC Warehouse.

Elias and Gordie are among the last of the combination company owner/pitchman, which used to be a staple around these parts.

Elias is perhaps more well-known than his product---windows, doors, roofs and gutters---or at the very least, as well-known.

Gordie, of ABC Warehouse, has a company slogan to rival the "Get It Done" of Hansons': "The closest thing to wholesale." And his bespectacled, mustached face is enough to make people do double-takes when they see him.

Car salesmen have always made good pitchmen.

Not just Farr, the former Lions running back-turned Ford dealership owner; how about Walt Lazar (Chevrolet, "The super, super dealer"), who used to be seen "conducting" an off-screen orchestra playing his theme song?

Ollie Fretter

An iconic campaign of radio commercials belonged to Gene Merollis, another Chevy dealer. The ads consisted of brief jokes between a set-up man and "Mr. Merollis." Each spot ended the same way.

"That Merollis, what a great, great guyyyyyy!"

I heard those spots a billion times on the old CKLW-AM "Super 8" station back in the 1970s.

Today we have Elias, Gordie, and Bill Bonds and William Shatner, two actors pushing law firms.

After that, not so much when it comes to local pitchmen.

Then again, most of the products being sold anymore are either beer, prescription drugs or cars---all at the national level.

Commercials aren't as fun anymore.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Unearned Parting Gifts

Since when does being a member of a studio audience entitle one to be showered with gifts?

Shows all over the dial, from "The View" to "Dr. Phil" to "Ellen," are treating their audiences like they're all Queens for a Day.

It's gotten out of hand, all the gift-giving. It started several years ago with every member of the audience getting a copy of whatever book or DVD was being hawked that day.

Then it morphed, to where we are now, where audiences leave with so much loot that they'll need to hire another tax guy.

It's not just books and DVDs anymore; audiences are now receiving small appliances, electronic gadgets, and even all-expenses paid trips.

To which, of course, are met with screams and wildness, which I can also do without.

And here's the rub---audiences for talk shows don't pay admission. Not one penny. Yet they leave like thieves.

Tickets are always free, and used to be gobbled up by tourists and vacationers, because the shows are typically taped in glitzy places like New York and Hollywood. Sometimes, those folks were simply happy to be in some air conditioning, away from the summer's heat.

Now, I get the feeling audiences deliberately travel to studios expecting to be lavished with gifts.

Who can blame them?

I find this offensive because: a) I'm never going to be in a studio audience, barring something incredibly unforeseen, so therefore I'm jealous; and b) why does putting your fanny in a seat for free entitle you to spoils?

"What do I get? What do i get?"

Of course, most of these giveaways are simply part of a marketing plan, which places DVDs and books and such in the hands of people who might not have purchased them otherwise.

I get that.

But what's with the trips and the gadgets and the other niceties?

Then I think of the poor souls who appear on game shows like "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" who actually have to DO something to earn their wares, like work their brains off.

Meanwhile, Jane Doe gets a brand new iPhone and a trip to Las Vegas, simply for walking into the studio and sitting down.

Just doesn't seem right.

Yeah, I'm jealous. And also perplexed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buzzer Beater?

Detroit, once upon a time, was a bustling, thriving city---an international port with industry coming out of its ears. They made cars in Detroit, and better than anyone else. But Detroit also was a huge component to the WWII effort---building tanks and other items of importance.

It was a riverfront city with a brand new convention complex (Cobo) built by 1960 and was even considered as a host city for the Olympics. President Kennedy, no less, appeared on film, making the case for Detroit to host the Games, which was shown to the selection committee.

Detroit had well over a million people living within its boundaries. It was a media market that was just a notch below the New Yorks and LAs of the country. It wasn't unusual for Detroit on-air talent to vamoose to New York, with no stops in between.

But now?

Detroit is crumbling. Its infrastructure is a joke. The money is gone. It's a city that can't adequately protect its citizens, pick up the trash on time, or change a busted street light without a month of Sundays going by.

The financial crisis going on in the city is both a tragedy and a mystery. Tragedy because a once great city is tattered and torn; mysterious because it's a wonder how we got here, to this degree.

The enormously frustrating thing is that, whether suburbanites want to admit it or not, the fate of Detroit greatly impacts that of the entire state of Michigan.

Can there be a strong Michigan without a strong Detroit? Yes, but not likely, and it would be oh-so-much more difficult to pull off.

Can Detroit be strong and the state not be? Yes, but also not very likely---though it has happened throughout history.

Governor Rick Snyder, to his credit, isn't a Republican who thinks his state can operate independently from Detroit, as if the city exists in a plastic bubble.

But that doesn't mean there isn't the usual contentiousness between City Council and anyone who works and plays outside the city borders.

Especially politico types.

Bing: Working against a fast-running clock

But time has never been running out on Detroit as it is now. It's so appropriate that the mayor is an ex-NBA star. Dave Bing is used to working against a short shot clock.

He needs to hoist a desperation three point shot at the buzzer.

No, it's not terribly brilliant or clever to make basketball analogies.

But can you think of a better one?

Detroit is on life support. How tragic. And mysterious.