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Eye on Entertainment

Death of a man nobody knew

By Todd Leopold
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(CNN) -- This is a splendid weekend for entertainment. Three notable movies -- "Flags of Our Fathers," "The Prestige" and "Marie Antoinette" -- are receiving wide openings. The World Series begins. And a DVD of "SCTV's" early years is due out Tuesday.

But I want to -- I must -- talk about something else.

Aldo Kelrast is dead, and attention must be paid.

He wasn't anything special, this Kelrast fellow. Yes, his last name is an anagram of "stalker." Yes, he looked like Captain Kangaroo. Yes, he could be annoying and socially awkward.

But did he have to die?

What? You've never heard of Aldo Kelrast? Well, of course you haven't. Kelrast was the odd duck who wandered into the odder world of the comic strip "Mary Worth,"external link a strip that was anachronistic 40 years ago and that nobody reads except me and a few other demented comics completists. (It is funnier than "Cathy," "Curtis" and "Dennis the Menace" combined, which isn't saying much.)

He put the moves on Mary (who, mysteriously, has gotten younger over the years), was rejected and then received an intervention from the busybodies who populate the strip. Then, in a twist that nobody saw coming, he (spoiler warning!) got blitzed on booze and drove his car off a cliff. (The roads around "Mary Worth's" hometown of Santa Royale conveniently lack guard rails.)

Why, even Alfred Hitchcock would be jealous.

"Mary Worth" being "Mary Worth," the excruciating Kelrast denouement -- a funeral gathering -- explained nothing, and the busybodies have since moved on to the next "plot." It's as if Kelrast had never existed.

By now, the readers of this column -- both of you -- have likely clicked on something else. The death of a comic-strip walk-on in the midst of such entertainment bounty as this weekend's movies -- why, it's like focusing on a mysterious murder suspect in an old crime while world events spin out of control.

But Kelrast, I daresay, struck a nerve. In the molasses-moving world of "Mary," his appearance was like a breath of fresh methane. Josh Fruhlinger and the fine posters at "The Comics Curmudgeon"external link agonized over his every appearance. Somebody set up a MySpace pageexternal link for him. There were even videos lamentingexternal link his demiseexternal link.

And for what? We still don't know if Aldo killed his wife, as was rumored (by Toby, that guttersnipe). We barely suspected his alcoholism. And his family -- what stories could they tell?

We'll never know.

Goodbye, Aldo.

Now, Eye on Entertainment looks to the future.


As noted, this weekend represents a high point for fall releases. The three top films -- "Flags of Our Fathers," "The Prestige" and "Marie Antoinette" -- have earned a number of raves and some Oscar buzz. Even the negative reviews find much to respect.

"Flags," directed by Clint Eastwood, is based on the memoir by James Bradley and Ron Powers about Bradley's father, one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima in Joe Rosenthal's famous Associated Press photoexternal link.

But Eastwood's film isn't a rah-rah tribute to the glories of war; it reflects the brutality of the battle, which took 7,000 U.S. lives and many more Japanese. It also shows what the survivors went through when they were sent home while the battle raged on, where they were lauded as heroes for the war effort while questioning all the attention. (Johnny Cash sang "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" about one of the flag-raisers, a Native American who struggled with alcoholism.)

"The Prestige," directed by Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Batman Begins"), stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as magicians in turn-of-the-century London. The two begin a game of one-upmanship that draws blood -- and worse. Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie (playing Nikola Tesla) also star.

And "Marie Antoinette," the new film from Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation"), stars Kirsten Dunst as the ill-fated French queen. The film takes some liberties with Antoinette's story -- using modern music and contemporary-sounding dialogue, for example -- but manages to evoke the feeling of a woman at sea in an unfamiliar world.

The three films open Friday.

On screen

  • Also opening Friday is "Flicka," a new version of the classic "My Friend Flicka," about an energetic horse. The film stars Tim McGraw and Maria Bello.
  • On the tube

  • The World Series begins Saturday in Detroit, Michigan, where the surprising Tigers -- destiny's team? -- will take on the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Games 1 and 2 begin at the surprisingly reasonable hour of 7:30 p.m. ET -- or, at least, the coverage does. The games air on Fox.
  • "1 Vs. 100," a new game show, got off to a strong start in its premiere last Friday. NBC has ordered 10 additional episodes. 9 p.m. ET Friday, NBC.
  • "Decades Rock Live: The Pretenders," airs at 8 p.m. ET Friday on VH1 Classic.
  • The new adventures of Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake hit the screen when "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" returns, at 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday on the Cartoon Network. (Cartoon Network, like CNN, is a division of Time Warner.)
  • Sound waves

  • John Legend's new album, "Once Again" (Sony), comes out on Tuesday.
  • "The Black Parade" (Reprise), the latest from My Chemical Romance, comes out Tuesday.
  • An Aimee Mann Christmas album? Indeed, it's true. "One More Drifter in the Snow" (SuperEgo) comes out Tuesday.
  • Harry Smith was a collector of obscure American folk music -- with "folk," in its must rugged sense, being the operative word. "The Harry Smith Project: The Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited" (Shout! Factory), features a variety of noted artists (Elvis Costello, Wilco, Lou Reed, the McGarrigle Sisters) in concert covering some of Smith's collection -- first released in "The Anthology of American Folk Music" on Folkways in 1952 -- which helped spawn the folk revival of the '60s. It comes out Tuesday.
  • Paging readers

  • Stephen King's new novel, "Lisey's Story" (Scribner), is about a widow who must sort through the papers -- and the darkness -- of her late husband. It comes out Tuesday.
  • Video center

  • "Nacho Libre," "Monster House" and "Slither" come out on DVD Tuesday.
  • The SCTV crew may have scattered -- Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara have fortuitously fallen in with Christopher Guest's improv crowd, Rick Moranis participates in children's movies, Dave Thomas was on "Arrested Development," Andrea Martin and Joe Flaherty do occasional guest shots and John Candy R.I.P. -- but there was a time when they were Guy Caballero, Edith Prickley, Bobby Bittman, Bob and Doug McKenzie and all the rest of the crazy denizens of "SCTV." A collection of 15 episodes -- "SCTV: Best of the Early Years" -- comes out Tuesday.

  • Mary Worth

    Aldo Kelrast challenges Mary in a panel from "Mary Worth." Kelrast was a strange addition to the comic strip's world.



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