Thursday, December 13, 2007
Remembering Ike Turner
From Entertainment Producer Denise Quan in Los Angeles:

We pulled up in front of a modest home in suburban San Diego. Newspaper in the driveway. No security gate.

"Are you sure this is the house?" asked my cameraman, Rick.

I checked my assignment sheet. "Yup. According to my notes, this is where Ike lives."

Ike Turner. In April, we'd gone to interview the rock and soul icon about Phil Spector, on the eve of the music producer's trial for murder. We ended up talking about Ike's legendary career, his time in jail on drug charges and his physical altercations with Tina Turner -- his ex-wife and former partner. "Yeah, I hit Tina," he admitted unapologetically. "But Tina hit me, too. It was a different time back then." He likened it to spanking children.

Ike Turner was a complicated man. Yes, he had his demons, but he was also a proud man who took care with his appearance and wasn't afraid of hard work. His shirt was perfectly pressed. His hair was a glossy flat-top -- jet black and meticulously coiffed. He sang us a song he'd just written about how peace could occur if we all just loved each other a little more. And despite reports of emphysema, he was planning to tour early next year.

Ike was 75 at the time we interviewed him, and he still had an eye for the ladies. They kept coming out while we were at his house. There was a woman -- presumably an assistant and/or housekeeper -- who answered the door. There was an attractive singer he introduced as his latest protege. Then there was a third woman who offered us something to drink.

Maybe it was because of his age, but you got the feeling he had come to terms with his life, and didn't have many regrets. Not even about the 17 months he spent in prison. He told us he loved being in jail -- that he had been treated well, and didn't have to worry about his bills or figuring out what to have for his next meal. Incarceration also helped him kick drugs, and for that, he was grateful.

The only subject that seemed to unnerve him was the state of his relationship with Tina. When asked how long it had been since he'd last spoken with her, he got up and said, "That's the end of the interview."

But Ike Turner wasn't one to hold a grudge. In true Ike fashion, he grabbed an 8 x 10 glossy, autographed it, then promptly asked me out to dinner.

-- Denise Quan
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The best of the rest
Entertainment goes well beyond the basics of movies, television and music. CNN Entertainment Producer Matt West, who covers technology and video with his "Pop Digital" segments, offers his take on the best video games, comic/graphic works and gadgets of the year.

Top Video Game: "Bioshock" (2K Games)

One of the best video games I've played all year is also one of the best reviewed games of 2007. It combines great first-person shooter gameplay with a truly imaginative story that's easily as important as the action itself.

Runner-up: "The Orange Box" (EA)

The most bang for the buck. Five amazing games, one box. Worth the price alone for "Portal," a reality warping puzzle solver.



Top Comic Book: "Green Lantern: The Sinestro Wars" (DC Comics)

As Hollywood tried in vain to excite audiences with their summer superhero sequels, writer Geoff Johns was quietly penning an epic blockbuster in the pages of DC's Green Lantern that put them all to shame. The galaxy spanning "Sinestro Wars," wrapping up this week in Green Lantern #25, featured the kind of action and intrigue that should be required reading for studio execs as a how-to in the superhero action genre. (Editor's note: DC Comics is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN.)

Runner-up: "Sentences: The Life of M.F Grimm" (Vertigo)

The gritty true story of Percy Carey, whose career as an up-and-coming rapper was cut short by his second job as a drug dealer on the streets of New York.



Top Gadget That's NOT an iPhone: Flip Video (Pure Digital)

This pocket-sized video camera, which can capture up to an hour's worth of video, is now my favorite toy (next to my Xbox 360). The video resolution certainly isn't on the level of a DV cam -- but then again, neither is the price, just $129. Simple and easy-to-use, Flip Video is a great way to capture the moment on the fly. A simple internal editing program and a USB interface makes it just as easy to upload your content straight to your laptop and then on to YouTube.

-- Matt West
Monday, December 10, 2007
Asking for direction
Imagine making a movie. Imagine your movie has a cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Gina Gershon and Alison Lohman. Imagine that your movie is praised at festivals and earns raves from most of the film critics who see it. Then imagine that the film struggles for distribution and advertising, grosses about $200,000 and sinks without a trace.

This is the situation faced by indie filmmaker Tom DiCillo, director of "Delirious," and he wonders what the heck happened.

Roger Ebert has a fascinating column on DiCillo and the challenges of indie filmmaking. Check it out here.

Did DiCillo expect too much? Or do moviegoers -- and the film industry -- expect too little?
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Occasional musings and gab about the world of entertainment.
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