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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hal Durham died he was77


Longtime Grand Ole Opry announcer Hal Durham has died at age 77. The McMinnville, Tenn. native was with the legendary country music program for 32 years, beginning his stint as the voice of the Opry in 1964. He also served as general manager from 1978 - 1993 and as program director of the Opry's radio home, WSM.

Hal Durham, who helped assure the Grand Ole Opry's transition into the modern era, died over the weekend at his home in Cape Coral, Fla. Mr. Durham, a McMinnville, Tenn., native who also served as a WSM announcer and executive, was 77.

Mr. Durham's contributions to the Opry were substantial and necessary. He served four years as manager and began his 15-year run as general manager when he succeeded E.W. "Bud" Wendell in 1978.

By that point, country had evolved well beyond its roots as an acoustic music format, and top country artists were drawing arena-level audiences that necessitated playing lucrative tour dates away from Nashville.

The general manager reacted to these factors by altering both the Opry's stage setup and its membership rules.

Under Mr. Durham's leadership, full drum sets were allowed on the Opry stage.

Before, drummers had to appear with only a snare and a cymbal, and when percussion was first allowed on the Opry in the 1950s, drummers such as Buddy Harman had to actually strike a brush against a drum head that was affixed to a standup bass.

Mr. Durham also significantly relaxed membership requirements with regard to required personal appearances, clearing the way for artists with heavy touring schedules to become Opry members without having to commit to multiple Opry appearances each month.




Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson died she was 45




Natasha Jane Richardson died she was 45. Richardson was a British actress known for her performances on stage and screen. She was a member of the Redgrave family and the daughter of the actress Vanessa Redgrave and the director/producer Tony Richardson. Richardson rose to international stardom with her Tony award-winning performance as Sally Bowles in the musical play Cabaret in New York City on Broadway in 1998.
Richardson was brought up in London; she attended St. Paul's Girls' School before training at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. Richardson was married twice. Her first marriage was to filmmaker Robert Fox, whom she divorced in 1992. She married Irish actor Liam Neeson in late 1994. Richardson and Neeson have two sons: Micheál and Daniel. Her father died of AIDS-related causes in 1991. Richardson helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS through the charity amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. Richardson died on 18 March 2009 from injuries sustained in a skiing accident.[1]
(11 May 1963 – 18 March 2009)
Richardson was born in London, England, as a member of the Redgrave family, known as a dynasty in theatre and acting. She was daughter of the late director and producer Tony Richardson and actress Vanessa Redgrave,[2] and granddaughter of the late actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.[2][3] Her sister is Joely Richardson.[2] She is also the niece of actress Lynn Redgrave and actor Corin Redgrave,[2] and cousin of Jemma Redgrave. Richardson made her film debut at the age of four in a film directed by her father, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).[2] She attended St. Paul's Girls' School for several years, and then trained at London's Central School of Speech and Drama.


Richardson began her career in regional theatre, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, England. Her screen debut in Every Picture Tells a Story in 1984, was followed by a CBS miniseries, Ellis Island. A year later, Richardson appeared in a revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull; her first professional work in London's West End. That same year she made her UK television debut alongside Jeremy Brett and David Burke in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes appearing as Violet Hunter in the episode "The Copper Beeches". Soon after, she starred in a London stage production of High Society, adapted from the acclaimed Cole Porter film, and successively portrayed Mary Shelley in the 1987 Ken Russell film, Gothic. In 1998 she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of the Sam MendesRob Marshall helmed revival of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret.[2] In 2005, she appeared again with the Roundabout, this time as Blanche DuBois in their revival of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire,[2] opposite John C. Reilly's Stanley Kowalski.


The same year she starred opposite Kenneth Branagh and Colin Firth in A Month in the Country, directed by Pat O'Connor. A major moment in advancement was her starring role in The Handmaid's Tale (1990), playing opposite Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway. She starred in Nell (1994) alongside her future husband, Liam Neeson, and Jodie Foster.

Her first marriage was to filmmaker Robert Fox, from 1990 to 1992.[4] She married Irish actor Liam Neeson in late 1994 at the home they shared near Millbrook, New York.[5] Richardson and Neeson had two sons: Micheál and Daniel. Richardson helped raise millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS since her father, director Tony Richardson, died of AIDS-related causes in 1991.[6] Richardson was actively involved in amfAR, becoming a board of trustees member in 2006, and participated in many other AIDS charities including Bailey House, God's Love We Deliver, Mothers' Voices, AIDS Crisis Trust and National AIDS Trust, for which she was an ambassador. Richardson received amfAR's Award of Courage in November 2000.[7]
A long-time smoker,[8][9][10] Richardson was also an outspoken opponent of the ban on smoking in New York City restaurants.[11]


Wikinews has related news: British actress Natasha Richardson dies at age 45
On 16 March 2009, Richardson was injured in a skiing accident at the Mont Tremblant Resort.[12] She was taken to Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal after suffering a traumatic brain injury.[13] She was listed as being in critical condition,[14] and her husband, Liam Neeson, was reported to have joined her after flying from Toronto, where he was filming a movie.[13] Richardson was flown on March 17 by private jet to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and visited by her sons, mother Vanessa Redgrave, and sister Joely Richardson.[15] She died on 18 March 2009 at age 45.[1]
At approximately 7:00 p.m. EDT, Liam Neeson's publicist issued this statement to the press:
Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.[1]

William Morse Davidson died he was 87



William Morse Davidson, J. D. died he was 87. J.D was an American entrepreneur and professional sports owner and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was the chairman of Guardian Industries Corp., one of the world's largest manufacturers of architectural and automotive glass. He was also the chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, principal owner of the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Detroit Shock of the WNBA, and the former owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL and Detroit Vipers of the IHL. His Pistons won the 1989, 1990, and 2004 NBA Finals; his Shock won the 2003, 2006 and 2008 WNBA Finals; his Vipers won the 1997 Turner Cup; his Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup, making him the only owner in professional sports history whose teams have won an NBA Championship and a Stanley Cup in the same year. His combined business ventures led him to an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion, which led to Forbes ranking him as the 68th richest man in the United States.[1]




(December 5, 1922 – March 13, 2009)

Davidson was born on December 5, 1922 in Detroit to a Jewish family.[2] Davidson also played football in the Navy during World War II. He entered the University of Michigan in 1940, where he was a member of the track-and-field team and where he majored in business at what is now the Ross School of Business.
Later, Davidson garnered his law degree from Wayne State University Law School in 1949. After three years of law practice, he rescued a wholesale drug company and a surgical supply company from bankruptcy.
Davidson would also take over his family's Guardian Glass Co. in 1957, the same year the company declared bankruptcy. Guardian Glass would be the precursor to his company Guardian Industries, one of the largest glass suppliers in the world. Davidson encouraged risk-taking, discouraged second-guessing and was seen as aggressive. Not without controversy, Guardian was sued at least six times between 1965 and 1988. In 1989, Guardian was ordered to pay its competitor Johns Manville $38 million for stealing fiberglass-making technology[3]. Guardian now stands as one of the world’s giants of glass manufacturing with facilities in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America in addition to its sprawling North American interests[4].


Being acquainted with football, Davidson wanted to acquire a football franchise[5]. In 1974, Davidson and college classmate Oscar Feldman enlisted ex-Detroit Lions great Joe Schmidt to be part of a group bidding on the Tampa expansion franchise. When the price went too high, the group bowed of the bidding.
After two months, Fred Zollner, a car piston manufacturer who transfered the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons to Detroit in 1957, was rumored to be selling his franchise as it hadn't made a profit in 17 years. Being a longtime basketball fan, Davidson bought from Zollner, his neighbor by way of their vacation homes in Golden Beach, Fla., the Pistons for $6 million[6].
Displeased with the team's location in downtown Detroit, Davidson relocated the team to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1978 and then to the The Palace of Auburn Hills, the first NBA arena financed entirely with private funds, in 1988. To help pay the $90 million construction cost, the Bob Bosnick-designed arena[7] featured lower-level suites, then a never-seen-before feature.
His Pistons were at the league's forefront with respect to amenities. The franchise has a state-of-the-art practice facility, solely designed for the Pistons. During the offseason, team members are able to use the facilities while working on personal off-season conditioning goals. Against the advice of friends, Davidson was also the first owner to buy an airplane for his team, nicknamed Roundball One. Roundball Two, a newer, larger, multimillion-dollar aircraft refurbished with 42 luxury seats and a state-of-the-art video system was purchased in the summer of 1998. Davidson was also the first to encourage globalizing the marketing of the NBA. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Governors and was active on several committees, including the one that selected former NBA Commissioner Lawrence O'Brien in 1975 [8].
In 2009, the value of the Pistons franchise has been estimated to be over $430 million. Regularly seen at the team's home games, Davidson had said repeatedly that he would never sell the Pistons and the franchise would remain in his family after he died.[9]
In 1999, Davidson put in an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning and gain a controlling interest in their home arena, the Ice Palace. They lost to insurance tycoon Art Williams, but only months later Williams sold the team to Davidson and Palace Sports at a huge loss. When Davidson acquired the Lightning franchise in 1999, the price was $100 million; its value has recently been estimated at $136 million. Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup under Davidson's ownership in 2004. On August 7, 2007 Davidson sold the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise.
Davidson was honored by the Pistons in 2006 when he was given a banner next to the team's retired numbers. His name was also placed on the Palace floor along with Piston legends Dave Bing, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Chuck Daly, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas and Bob Lanier.
In 2008, Davidson was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor for his successes as an owner of the Pistons and Shock.[10] He was also an inaugural inductee into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[11]
At the time of his death, Davidson lived in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan with his wife, Karen. He had two children, Ethan and Marla, and three stepdaughters, including actress Elizabeth Reaser.[12]

A noted philanthropist, Davidson had given extensively to various organizations. Davidson was one of the founders of the Pistons/Palace Foundation, a charity that has donated more than $20 million dollars in cash and merchandise since 1989. In 1995, the foundation partnered with the City of Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department to establish the Partnership to Adopt and Renovate Parks for Kids (PARK) Program, which provided restoration of Detroit parks, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, running tracks and playground equipment.[13]
In 1992, the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan was created at Davidson's alma mater, the Ross School of Business. A gift of $30 million was given to provide assistance in a special program to help develop market economies throughout the world. In total, Davidson's gifts to the school exceed $55 million.
In 1997, the Council of Michigan Foundations honored Davidson for his lifelong philanthropic efforts locally, nationally and internationally[14]. He was listed as one of America’s most generous donors in a New York Times article that same year.
Davidson enabled the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to make long-term touring plans both in the U.S. and internationally with a renewable $2 million donation. He has pledged to fight cancer with a gift of $1 million to support collaborative research, prevention and early detection programs in breast and pediatric cancers at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Children’s Research Center of Michigan.
After the Yom Kippur war, he along with fellow Detroit area philanthropist Dr. Lloyd J. Paul were flown to Israel by Prime Minister Golda Meir and given the Prime ministers club award for outstanding Philanthropic deeds towards Israel. In 1999, he gave $20 million to establish the Davidson Institute of Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel Education. This was then the largest private donation ever given to institue, a leading international science research center and graduate school.[15]. In addition, Davidson endowed the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York with a $15 million gift. The excavations on the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have been named the Davidson excavations in tribute to his generous donations to the project. He also gave to the American Technion Society to establish the world’s first educational institution entirely dedicated to the international management of technology-based companies at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Davidson was also a contributor to the Wexner Foundation which gives grants to post-undergrad students of Jewish Studies. In March 2007, Davidson donated $75 million dollars to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.[16]


Davidson died on March 13, 2009 in his home at the age of 86. His health had been deteriorating for the years before his death; he had been confined to a wheelchair and very infrequently attended Pistons home games.[17] His wife Karen will succeed him as owner of the Pistons.[18]

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Ron Silver died he was 62






Actor Ron Silver died after a two-year battle with esophageal cancer, the New York Post reports. Silver, 62, had a long, distinguished career on stage, screen and television. He's probably best known for his recurring role as Bruno Gianelli on The West Wing and for his portrayal of famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz in the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune, starring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. Silver won the Tony Award for Best Actor in 1988 for David Mamet's Speed the Plow. His family is making arrangements for a private service.






Ronald Arthur "Ron" Silver[1] (July 2, 1946 – March 15, 2009) was an American actor, director, producer, and political activist.

Silver was born in New York City, New York, the son of May (née Zimelman), a substitute teacher, and Irving Roy Silver, a clothing sales executive.[1][2] Silver was raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and attended The East Side Hebrew Institute ("ESHI") and then Stuyvesant High School.[3] He went on to graduate from SUNY at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Chinese, and received a Master's Degree in Chinese History from St. John's University in New York and the College of Chinese Culture in Taiwan. He also attended Columbia University's Graduate School of International Affairs and studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio.

Silver made his film debut in Tunnel Vision in 1976. From 1976 to 1978 he played downstairs neighbor Gary Levy in the series Rhoda. Additional screen roles include Lovesick (1983), the devoted son of Anne Bancroft in Garbo Talks (1984), an incompetent detective in Eat and Run (1986), the pistol-wielding psychopath opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in 1989's Blue Steel. and the lead in Paul Mazursky's Oscar-nominated Enemies: A Love Story (1989). Silver also starred opposite Jerry Lewis in the "Garment District Arc" of the crime show Wiseguy (1988). He often said in interviews that growing up the son of a man working in the garment industry was a great help in preparing for the role. He also portrayed defense attorney Alan Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune (1990), based on the trial of Claus von Bülow. In 1998, he starred opposite Kirstie Alley for the last 2 seasons of Veronica's Closet.
Silver was featured in such diverse films as Mr. Saturday Night (1992), Timecop (1994), and as Muhammad Ali's boxing cornerman Angelo Dundee in Ali (2001). From 2001 to 2002 and 2005 to 2006, Silver portrayed presidential campaign advisor Bruno Gianelli on The West Wing.
From 1991 to 2000, Silver served as president of the Actors' Equity Association.
In February 2008, Silver began hosting The Ron Silver Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, which focused on politics and public affairs. The show aired live at 9–11am ET on Indie Talk, Sirius 110.


Silver traveled to more than 30 countries and spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. He taught at the high school level and was a social worker for the Department of Social Services.
He was a co-founder in 1989 of the entertainment industry political advocacy organization the Creative Coalition.
Silver was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2000, he co-founded the organization One Jerusalem to oppose the Oslo Peace Agreement. Its purpose is to maintain "a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel."[4]
Silver, a Democrat for many years, left the party and became an Independent, and a supporter of President George W. Bush, citing the September 11, 2001 attacks and Democratic policies regarding terrorism as reasons. He spoke at the United States 2004 Republican National Convention and continued to support President Bush. Silver was appointed Chairman for the Millennium Committee by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He had a blog on the Pajamas Media website.
On October 7, 2005, Silver was nominated by President Bush to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace.
On September 8, 2006, it was announced that Silver had joined an advisory committee to the Lewis Libby Legal Defense Trust.[5]



Silver died on March 15, 2009, in New York City after a two-year battle with esophageal cancer. He is survived by both parents, brothers Mitchell and Keith, son Adam, and daughter Alexandra.[6] more

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alan Livingston died he was 91

Alan Wendell Livingston died he was 91. Livingston was an American businessman. He was also a writer/producer best-known for creating Bozo the Clown for a series of record-album and illustrative read-along children's book sets. (October 15, 1917-March 13, 2009)

Livingston was born in McDonald, Pennsylvania on October 15, 1917. He was the youngest of three children, whose mother encouraged reading books and playing musical instruments. He had an older sister, Vera, and an older brother, Jay, who died in 2001. He began his career in the entertainment business leading his own college orchestra as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce with a B.S. in Economics, he moved to New York where he worked in advertising for three years. At the start of World War II, he enlisted in the army as a private and served as a second lieutenant in the infantry. After his discharge, he borrowed some money, hitched a ride on an Army plane and headed for Los Angeles, California where he obtained his first position with Capitol Records, Inc. in Hollywood as a writer/producer.


His initial assignment was to create a children's record library for the four-year old company, for which he created the "Bozo the Clown" character. He wrote and produced a popular series of storytelling record-album and illustrative read-along book sets beginning with the September 1946 release of "Bozo at the Circus." His record-reader concept, which enabled children to read and follow a story in pictures while listening to it, was the first of its kind. The Bozo image was a composite design of Livingston's, derived from a variety of clown pictures and given to an artist to turn into comic-book-like illustrations. Livingston then hired Pinto Colvig to portray Bozo on the recordings. Colvig, a former circus clown, was also the original voice of Walt Disney's Pluto, Goofy, Grumpy, Sleepy and many other characters. Billy May produced the music. The series turned out to be a smash hit for Capitol, selling over eight million albums in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Successful record sales led to a variety of Bozo-related merchandise and the first television series, "Bozo's Circus," starring Pinto Colvig on KTTV-Channel 11 (CBS) in Los Angeles in 1949. The character also became a mascot for the record company and was later nicknamed "Bozo the Capitol Clown."
Livingston wrote and produced many other children's recordings including products for Walt Disney; Walter Lantz's Woody Woodpecker; Bugs Bunny and all of the Warner Bros. characters. In the case of the latter, he wrote the 1951 pop hit "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat" for Mel Blanc's Tweety Pie. There were also several record-readers featuring the popular cowboy character, Hopalong Cassidy. One of these was "Hopalong Cassidy and The Singing Bandit" in 1950, which was the first children's record set to make the Top Ten charts.
Within a few years, Livingston moved on to the adult music arena and became Vice President in charge of all creative operations of the company. He signed Frank Sinatra when Sinatra was at a low point in his career. Livingston wanted Sinatra to work with arranger Nelson Riddle, however Sinatra was reluctant to do so out of his loyalty to Axel Stordahl with whom he had worked for most of his career. The first Sinatra/Stordahl recordings for Capitol failed to produce the magic Livingston and producer Voyle Gilmore were looking for, and Sinatra agreed to try a session with Riddle on April 30, 1953. The impact was immediate, producing the classic "I've Got the World on a String." However, it was "Young-at-Heart" that became the defining moment in Sinatra's comeback, peaking at #2 during its 22-week run on the charts in the spring of 1954.
Livingston was credited as the creative force responsible for Capitol Records' growth from net sales of $6 million per year to sales in excess of $100 million per year.
He was also officially credited as the inspiration for the distinctive Capitol Records Tower, completed in April 1956, noted for being the first circular office building in the world.[1]

After 10 years with Capitol, Livingston and the company sold the "Bozo the Clown" licensing rights (excluding the recordings) to Larry Harmon, one of several people hired to portray the character at promotional appearances; Livingston left the company to accept a position as President of California National Productions, Inc., the wholly owned film production subsidiary of the National Broadcasting Company. Shortly thereafter, Livingston was also named Vice President of NBC, in charge of Television Network Programming, dealing principally with all films made for the network. In this capacity, he hired David Dortort to write and produce the pilot for the series "Bonanza" for which Livingston's older brother, songwriter Jay Livingston, wrote the memorable theme. During this time, Alan also served on the Boards of Bob Hope Enterprises, Inc. and Joseph Mankiewicz's motion picture production company, Figaro, Inc.


Five years later, Capitol Records induced him to return as President and, eventually, Chairman of the Board. He was also named to the Board of Electric and Musical Industries (EMI), a British corporation that was the largest stockholder in Capitol. Subsequently, he merged Capitol Records into Audio Devices, Inc., a magnetic tape manufacturer listed on the American Stock Exchange, and changed the name of the surviving company to Capitol Industries, Inc., of which Livingston was named President. It was during this period that he turned Capitol Records into a more rock-oriented company with such artists as The Beach Boys, Steve Miller, The Band, and others. His most noteworthy accomplishment at that time was signing The Beatles and agreeing to release 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' for Capitol in 1963 and bringing them to the United States in 1964, after having rejected all their previous singles as unsuitable for the U.S. market despite Capitol being owned by The Beatles' U.K. record company, EMI.[2]


Livingston later sold his stock in Capitol Industries to form his own company, Mediarts, Inc., for the production of motion pictures, records and music publishing. He eventually sold his interest in that company to United Artists as a result, particularly, of its success in the record business including Don McLean, who reached the #1 position in the country with his "American Pie" single and album in 1972. Two feature motion pictures were completed during the company's operation: "Downhill Racer" (1969) starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman, and "Unman, Wittering & Zigo" (1971) starring David Hemmings; both released by Paramount Pictures.
In August 1976, Livingston joined Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation as Senior Vice President and President, Entertainment Group. He left in 1980 to accept the presidency of Atalanta Investment Company, Inc., and resigned in 1987 to produce a one-hour film for television and to form Pacific Rim Productions, Inc.
Livingston also wrote a novel titled "Ronnie Finkelhof, Superstar" about a shy Harvard pre-law student who becomes an overnight success as a rock musician. It was published by Ballantine Books in the spring of 1988.






On August 1, 1998, Livingston received his first honor for his creation of "Bozo the Clown" as the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee, Wisconsin presented him their Lifetime of Laughter Achievement Award.
Briefly married to the actress Betty Hutton, Livingston was married to actress Nancy Olson, whose film credits include "Sunset Blvd." (1950) and "The Absent Minded Professor" (1961). They resided in Beverly Hills, California. Their son, Christopher Livingston, is a movie producer, director, writer and songwriter. Alan Livingston died in March 13, 2009.






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