IN REMEMBRANCE: 9-25-2016

BILLO NUNN, WHO PLAYED RADIO RAHEEM IN ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’

Bill Nunn at a 25th anniversary screening of the movie “Do the Right Thing” in 2014. Credit Craig Barritt/Getty Images

Bill Nunn, a versatile actor best known for playing the role of Radio Raheem, the boombox-toting neighborhood philosopher killed by police officers in Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing,” died on Saturday in Pittsburgh. He was 63.

His death was announced on social media by Mr. Lee. His wife, Donna, told The Associated Press that Mr. Nunn had cancer.

The first major acting role for Mr. Nunn, the son of a well-known professional football scout, was in the 1988 film “School Daze,” also written and directed by Mr. Lee. The next year brought the critically acclaimed “Do the Right Thing,” in which he played the iconic Radio Raheem, who carries a boombox blaring Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” through the streets of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn on the hottest day of summer.

Radio Raheem sits at the moral heart of the film, delivering a soliloquy directly to the camera on the ceaseless contest between love and hate, symbolized by the four-finger rings he wears on each hand. The character’s choking death at the hands of police officers in front of a crowd of his neighbors incites the film’s wrenching final scenes.

Mr. Nunn became a popular character actor after “Do the Right Thing” and appeared in a variety of films, including “New Jack City,” “Sister Act” and the “Spider-Man” trilogy by the director Sam Raimi. In 2004 he appeared in a Broadway revival of “Raisin in the Sun” as Bobo, alongside Audra McDonald, Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs.

But it was his performance as Radio Raheem that allowed him to make his greatest mark, Mr. Nunn said in an interview with ABC News to mark the 25th anniversary of the film’s release.

He was a frequent collaborator of Mr. Lee and also appeared in his films “Mo’ Better Blues” and “He Got Game.” Mr. Lee referred to him on Saturday as “my dear friend, my dear Morehouse brother.” They both attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.

William Goldwyn Nunn III was born in 1953, in Pittsburgh. His father was Bill Nunn, a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers who helped build a football powerhouse in the 1970s by recruiting from the often-overlooked football programs at historically black colleges and universities. He died in 2014.

“Long Live Bill Nunn,” Mr. Lee wrote on Facebook. “Radio Raheem is now resting in power. Radio Raheem will always be fighting da powers dat be. May God watch over Bill Nunn.”

On social media, Mr. Lee cited the death of Eric Garner, who died after an officer placed him in a chokehold on Staten Island in 2014, as evidence of the continuing resonance of Radio Raheem’s violent death. In an interview with ABC News in 2014, Mr. Nunn reflected on the death of Mr. Garner, which was captured on video and helped propel a nationwide debate on the treatment of black men by the police.

Much like the character that brought him to fame, Mr. Nunn focused on the need for love.

“You know you’re watching a guy lose his life,” Mr. Nunn said in the interview. “For me, I’m just getting a little tired of watching these mothers on television, these poor mothers grieving their sons and children. It makes me wonder sometimes about where the compassion is.”

SOURCE

It is so hard to believe that Bill Nunn is no longer among the living. The first time I made his acquaintance in films was in the movie “School Daze”. His commanding presence on the silver screen at the frat/soror dance, his just trying to get a little salt for his KFC chicken meal, his wanting to “eat steak” after graduating—just so many highlights of “Daze” that years later still linger with me.

And who can forget his performance in “Do the Right Thing”:

“Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Yea, boom, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Ooh! Ooh! Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love. If I love you, I love you. But if I hate you …”

Bill Nunn has left a legacy of fine acting to be cherished, and his stamp on the world of film will be enduring.

Rest in peace, Mr. Bill Nunn.

Rest in peace.

**************************************************

ED TEMPLE, TRACK COACH WHO LED WILMA RUDOLPH TO OLYMPIC GOLD

One of the few coaches in the Olympic Hall of Fame has died. Ed Temple coached sprinter Wilma Rudolph and the legendary Tigerbelles of Tennessee State University.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A pivotal figure in American track and field has died. Ed Temple is one of just a handful of coaches in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. He led two women’s teams in the 1960s, mostly of his own runners from Tennessee State University. Temple died last night. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN in Nashville has this appreciation.

BLAKE FARMER, BYLINE: Ed Temple started coaching when many schools didn’t even have a women’s team, and he produced one of the greatest runners of all time – Wilma Rudolph. He talked to WPLN last year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ED TEMPLE: You know, the ’60 Olympics in Rome where Wilma won her three gold medals – that opened up the door I think for women’s sports – period.

FARMER: In all, Temple trained 40 Olympians, and administrators say they all went on to get a degree. In an oral history interview, Temple said he’d assemble the team after every semester.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TEMPLE: I’d go to the registrar’s office, and I’d get the grades of every girl.

FARMER: He’d read their report cards aloud.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TEMPLE: Now, a lot of people used to criticize me; well, I wouldn’t do that in front of all of them. I’d call them in there individual and tell them. No, I want everybody to know.

FARMER: Temple was a tell-it-like-it-is taskmaster. Don’t even think about being late to practice or missing curfew. His athletes could only ride in his car – a nine-passenger DeSoto station wagon which for many years doubled as a team bus.

WYOMIA TYUS: His rule was always there’s the right way, the wrong way, and there’s his way.

FARMER: Wyomia Tyus was one of Temple’s proteges. She won gold in the 1964 games, then set a world record four years later. But when she got back on campus, there was no favoritism.

TYUS: And I think that was the best thing. Coach Temple never treated his Olympians any different than the girls that did not make the Olympic team.

FARMER: The Tigerbelles of Tennessee State, as they were known, were tight. Not only did they have to fight with male sports for recognition. They also faced intense racism. Journalist Dwight Lewis says they were sometimes not permitted to use the restroom in the field house. But Lewis, who’s writing a book on the famed coach, says Temple didn’t dwell on the discrimination.

DWIGHT LEWIS: But he didn’t go out and beat drums, saying, we’re suffering; we’re suffering; we’re suffering. They did what they had to do.

FARMER: Temple was a matter-of-fact leader, but he was proud, most of all of Wilma Rudolph, who overcame polio to become the fastest woman in the world at the time. Temple attended her funeral where an Olympic flag draped the coffin.

LEWIS: After the funeral was over, Coach Temple was given that flag. He’s had it at his home, and it has not been unfolded since it draped Wilma’s casket. But his wish was that – I don’t want this flag unfolded until it drapes my casket.

FARMER: Ed Temple was 89 years old. For NPR News, I’m Blake Farmer in Nashville.

SOURCE

*******************************************

STANLEY DURAL JR., FOUNDER OF BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO

Stanley Dural Jr., known as Buckwheat, at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2011. Credit Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Stanley Dural Jr., better known as Buckwheat, the accordionist whose band carried zydeco music from the Louisiana bayous to a worldwide audience, died on Saturday in Lafayette, La., where he was born. He was 68.

Ted Fox, his manager and frequent producer, said the cause was lung cancer. Buckwheat lived in the neighboring city of Carencro.

Formed in 1979, his band, Buckwheat Zydeco, barnstormed for more than 30 years, winning both a Grammy and an Emmy Award along the way. With his broad-brimmed black hat, glasses and a white piano accordion emblazoned with the words “BUCK WHEAT,” Mr. Dural became the face of zydeco for many listeners far beyond the music’s Gulf Coast regional circuit.

He played festivals worldwide and sat in, on stage and on recordings, with a host of rock and pop musicians, including Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, U2, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant and Keith Richards.

Buckwheat’s music melded Louisiana Creole traditions — the tootling propulsion of the accordion and the clatter of the rubboard, a metal vest played with spoons — with the R&B he grew up on in the 1950s and ’60s and with rock.

Stanley Joseph Dural Jr. was born on Nov. 14, 1947. His family, with six brothers and six sisters, shared a two-bedroom house in Lafayette; growing up, he picked cotton.

His father was an accordionist who played Creole music, but Stanley Jr. was drawn to R&B, and chose the organ as his instrument. He was nicknamed Buckwheat for his braided hair, which resembled the character Buckwheat, played by William Thomas Jr. in “The Little Rascals” short films. He made his first recordings in the early 1970s with his 15-piece soul band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers, and had a local hit with the single “It’s Hard to Get.”

Buckwheat rediscovered zydeco in 1976, becoming the organist in the band, which was led by Clifton Chenier. A pioneer in merging Creole music and blues, Mr. Chenier was universally acknowledged as the Gulf Coast’s king of zydeco until his death in 1987.

Buckwheat took up accordion in 1978; a year later he started his own zydeco band. At first he called it the Buckwheat Zydeco Ils Sont Partis Band, from the Creole French announcement he had heard at horse races at Evangeline Downs, which was then in Carencro: “They’re off!”

In the early 1980s the band recorded for blues and folk labels: Blues Unlimited, Black Top and Rounder. In 1986, he signed a five-album deal with a major label, Island Records, and the band became simply Buckwheat Zydeco.

Its touring circuit grew. In 1988 the band opened for Eric Clapton on a tour that stretched across North America and to the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Buckwheat Zydeco returned largely to independent labels for albums in the 1990s and 2000s, including Buckwheat’s own label, Tomorrow Records. The band worked constantly, from club dates in Louisiana to festival appearances in Montreux in Switzerland.

Television, film and advertising producers seeking Louisiana atmosphere placed his songs on many soundtracks, and Buckwheat performed and helped to write the theme song for “Pierre Franey’s Cooking in America” on PBS.

In 1996, Buckwheat Zydeco performed at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Atlanta. And in 2002, Buckwheat shared an Emmy with the composer Brian Keane for the CBS documentary “Pistol Pete: The Life and Times of Pete Maravich,” about the professional basketball star who played for Louisiana State University.

The first major label Buckwheat Zydeco album, “On a Night Like This” (Island), from 1987, was nominated for a Grammy. In 2010, Buckwheat Zydeco won the Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music album for what would be its final album, “Lay Your Burden Down” (Alligator) in 2009.

More recently, Buckwheat blogged, with Mr. Fox, his manager, for The Huffington Post and celebrated music and Southwestern Louisiana culture in a documentary YouTube series, “Buckwheat’s World.”

Buckwheat’s band included his son, Sir Reginald M. Dural, on rubboard and keyboards. He survives him, along with Buckwheat’s wife, Bernite Dural, and four other children, Stanley Paul Dural III, April Germain Dural, Stacie Durham and Tomorrow Lynn Dural.

SOURCE

************************************************

FRESH AIR REMEMBERS ‘LA CONFIDENTIAL DIRECTOR CURTIS HANSON

Hanson also directed The River Wild, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, 8 Mile and the TV movie Too Big to Fail. He died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 71. Originally broadcast in 1997.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

Curtis Hanson, who directed the 1997 film “L.A. Confidential,” died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 71. Among his other films are “The River Wild,” “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle,” “Wonder Boys,” “8 Mile,” and the TV movie “Too Big To Fail.” Hanson grew up in Los Angeles. “L.A. Confidential” was nominated for nine Oscars and won two, including Best Adapted Screenplay, which Hansen shared with his co-producer Brian Helgeland.

Terry spoke to Curtis Hanson in 1997. Here’s a scene from “L.A. Confidential.” Kevin Spacey plays Jack Vincennes, a cop who consults for “Badge Of Honor,” a TV show like “Dragnet.” He’s dancing at a party for the show. Later in the scene, you’ll hear Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens, a scandal sheet reporter who’s in cahoots with Vincennes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, “L.A. CONFIDENTIAL”)

KEVIN SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) I’m the technical adviser. I teach Brett Chase how to walk and talk like a cop.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As Karen) Brett Chase doesn’t walk and talk like you.

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) Well, that’s because he’s the television version. America isn’t ready for the real me.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As Karen) Is it true you are the one who arrested Bob Mitchum?

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) Mm-hmm.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As Karen) These “Badge Of Honor” guys like to pretend, but being the real thing must be a thrill.

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) Why don’t you and I go someplace quiet? Because I’d love to give you the lowdown on Mitchum.

DANNY DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) Big V. Jack Vincennes.

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) Hey.

DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) May I have this dance?

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) Of course. Karen, this is Sid Hutchens from “Hush-Hush” magazine.

DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) Hello, Karen.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As Karen) Hello, yourself.

SPACEY: (Jack Vincennes) What’s that about?

DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) We did a piece last year, “Ingenue Dykes In Hollywood.” Her name got mentioned. Hey Jackie boy, friend of mine just sold some reefer to Matt Reynolds (ph). He’s tripping the life fantastic with Tammy Jordan (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Hi, Jack.

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) Sorry. I lost you for a second, Sid.

DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) Contract players, Metro. You pinch him, I do you up a nice feature next issue, plus usual 50 cash.

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) No, I need another 50. Two 20s for two patrolmen and a dime for the watch commander at Hollywood Station.

DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) Jackie, it’s Christmas.

SPACEY: (As Jack Vincennes) No, it’s not. It’s felony possession of marijuana.

DEVITO: (As Sid Hudgens) Actually, circulation 36,000 and climbing. There’s no telling where this is going to go – radio, television. Once you whet the public’s appetite for the truth, the sky is the limit.

DAVIES: Terry asked Curtis Hanson why he wanted to make “L.A. Confidential,” and how he first came across the story.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

CURTIS HANSON: Well, it all started with the book. I read James Ellroy’s novel for pleasure about four years ago. And I read it not looking for a movie, but just because I had read half a dozen of his other books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Because I think Ellroy is a unique voice in contemporary fiction.

What happened with “L.A. Confidential,” and what I was not prepared for, quite frankly, was the degree to which I got emotionally involved with the characters. And involved in a rather complex and surprising way because when I met each of the major characters, I didn’t like them. But as I kept going, I got emotionally involved and ultimately, really began to care about each and every one of them and their personal struggles.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

What are some of the things that you’ve seen in period films that you wanted to avoid?

HANSON: I didn’t want this to be a picture that was an homage to a style of another era. I wanted – my number one directive to my collaborators was let’s create the world of “L.A. Confidential,” Los Angeles, 1953. Let’s pay great attention to the detail. But then let’s shoot it as though we don’t care about the detail. Let’s shoot it as though it’s a contemporary movie, so that the characters are in the foreground and their emotions are in the foreground. So my film references were more what I wanted to avoid, rather than what I wanted to do.

And of course, Dante being a camera man, was just all over that. He got what I was saying immediately. And it – and he took it one step further, which was he found the key to the lighting in that example, which was that “L.A. Confidential” would be lit in a naturalistic way, which – where the audience is aware of the source light, where the light is coming from in each scene. Which is sort of diametrically opposed to the way classic film noir is lit, with the, you know, highly stylized black and white with the vivid, dark shadows that bisect the screen and so forth.

GROSS: It’s a really interesting period in Los Angeles history that the movie is set in. It’s a period when, you know, there’s a show like “Dragnet” that’s imitating the cops. Whereas, you know, like, the cops in “L.A. Confidential” want the heroism and celebrity of the TV stars. And the politicians are tied in to some of the corrupt parts of Hollywood. The tabloids are covering it all. Everything as depicted in the movie is corrupt in this part of Los Angeles.

You grew up in Los Angeles in the ’50s, didn’t you?

HANSON: Yes. I grew up in Los Angeles, as in fact did both my parents. I mean, Terry, that’s the fascinating thing about Los Angeles in the early ’50s. So much of what was beginning in Los Angeles at that time, in that period of optimism and economic growth after World War II, is still with us today for better or for worse.

You know, television as this powerful image-making machine that was used in a very deliberate way by the LAPD to sort of sell the image of this new police force that had been reworked into a military model based on the Marine Corps in World War II. And the result was a police force that was empowered in a way that no force ever was before. Because – because of that TV image, they felt they could do no wrong. And, in fact, the public felt they could do no wrong.

And the birth of modern tabloid journalism as we know it, Danny DeVito in the movie plays the editor of Hush-Hush magazine. As he says at the beginning of the movie – radio, television, once you whet the public’s appetite for the truth, the sky’s the limit. Well, that’s where we’re living today.

GROSS: Another really potent idea in the movie is that there’s this ring of prostitutes who with the help of plastic surgery are made up to look like Hollywood movie stars. Kim Basinger plays the prostitute who’s made up to look like Veronica Lake. And that whole idea that sex will be even more exciting if the person looks like a Hollywood movie star, so we’ll just, like, make these prostitutes into those looks is really a very interesting one. Tell me what spoke to you about that idea.

HANSON: Well, first of all, for me, what the overall theme of the movie – and it’s a theme that I’ve dealt with a little bit in other movies – is the difference between image and reality, the difference between how things appear and how they really are. And, of course, the Kim Basinger character sort of sums that up for the audience because she looks like Veronica Lake, but in fact, you know, is something else quite different.

Interestingly enough, that idea of prostitutes that look like movie stars is based on fact. One of the – what I’ve always found interesting about Elroy’s technique is that he takes things that are true, such as that, such as Mickey Cohen, Johnny Stompanato – the major sequence in the beginning of the movie that’s called “Bloody Christmas,” where the policemen sort of riot and beat up some Mexican prisoners – that’s all based on things that actually happened in Los Angeles at the time. And then, of course, we spin off into our tale.

GROSS: OK, one last question, and that has to do with the soundtrack. And I have to say this is I think one of the great soundtracks…

HANSON: Wow.

GROSS: …In the recent past because you’ve chosen great records for this, including a couple – you know, a Chet Baker vocal, a couple of – a Betty Hutton track, Dean Martin, a couple of Lee Wiley tracks. And I was so surprised and delighted to see Lee Wiley represented on the soundtrack of the film. She’s a wonderful singer who started her career I think in the ’30s or maybe…

HANSON: She was actually the first – she was actually the first, Terry, to do the so-called songbooks of…

GROSS: Right…

HANSON: …Composers.

GROSS: …Gershwin and Cole Porter…

HANSON: Yes.

GROSS: …And maybe Harold Arlen, too. What does she convey to you that you wanted in there?

HANSON: Well, she’s very much a personal favorite of mine. And so I took the opportunity to include her both for storytelling reasons and also to expose the audience to her. It’s all storytelling to me, Terry. And I took the opportunity in selecting the songs to help tell the story and illustrate the theme of the movie and also to help delineate the themes of the individual characters.

When I met Kevin Spacey for the first time and handed him the script, I said I want you to think of two words when you read this, Dean Martin. And he immediately got what I was talking about. He said, you mean the cool guy we wanted to be when we grew up. And he just, you know, took that and ran with it. And to help set the tone of that, I used two Dean Martin tracks at pivotal scenes that Kevin Spacey is in.

And each song is picked with something like that in mind. And Lee Wiley, you know, she does these two songs, here’s “Looking At You” and then “Oh! Look At Me Now.” Again, it gets back to the theme of this picture, the difference between how things appear or look and how they really are.

DAVIES: Curtis Hanson, speaking with Terry Gross in 1997. Hanson died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 71. Here’s Lee Wiley singing the Cole Porter song “Looking At You.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “LOOKING AT YOU”)

LEE WILEY: (Singing) Looking at you while troubles are fleeing, I’m admiring the view ’cause it’s you I’m seeing. The sweet honeydew of wellbeing settles upon me. Life seemed…

DAVIES: Terry isn’t with us, but it’s a special day for her and all of us in the FRESH AIR family. Today at the White House, President Obama awarded Terry a National Humanities Medal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: We have an impressive crew with us here today. We’ve got Terry Gross and a whole bunch of people who Terry Gross has interviewed.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIES: The award says her patient, persistent questioning and thousands of interviews over four decades has pushed public figures to reveal personal motivations behind extraordinary lives, revealing simple truths that affirm our common humanity. You probably knew that already. You can hear Terry talk about her career on today’s All Things Considered.

FRESH AIR’s executive producer is Danny Miller. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Ann Marie Baldonado, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, John Sheehan, Heidi Saman, Therese Madden and Thea Chaloner. For Terry Gross, I’m Dave Davies.

SOURCE

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s