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Quick Takes: Stan Lee's star power

January 05, 2011

Stan Lee, the biggest name in comic-book history if you don't count the heroes and villains, got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Tuesday as fans and friends cheered.

As a writer and editor, Lee had a hand in the creation of hundreds of heroes and villains. Collaborating with artists such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita and John Buscema he gave the world the modern mythology of Marvel Comics with Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the X-Men, Thor, the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, the Avengers, Doctor Strange and Nick Fury.

Lee now has a shining star in front of the Live Nation building at 7072 Hollywood Blvd. The comic book guru, who celebrated his 88th birthday on Dec. 28, thanked director Alfred Hitchcock for giving him a bit of advice and shared a tall tale. "I remember as a young man when he dangled me on his knee and said, 'Don't waste time with the screen [acting], get into cameos!'" Lee has two dozen cameos in films based on Marvel characters; that number will go up soon with the release this summer of "Thor" and "The First Avenger: Captain America."

—Jevon Phillips and Geoff Boucher

ABC indecency fine overturned

There is nothing indecent about actress Charlotte Ross' rear end. That's the word from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, which tossed a roughly $1.4-million fine that the Federal Communications Commission had slapped on ABC and some of its affiliates in 2008 for a 2003 episode of the police drama "NYPD Blue" in which Ross' buttocks were visible to viewers.

Last July, a three-judge panel from this same court ruled that the FCC's enforcement of its indecency rules was "unconstitutionally vague and chilling." That decision was in response to a fight between the FCC and Fox Broadcasting over so-called fleeting obscenities. The FCC decided in 2004 that TV stations could be fined for indecency violations in cases when, during a live broadcast, an obscenity went out over the air.

That decision came after Fox aired award shows in 2002 and 2003 in which swearing by Cher and Nicole Richie was not bleeped in time. The court said its July ruling applied to this case as well even though the circumstances were different. "Although this case involved scripted nudity, the case turns on an application of the same content-based indecency test that Fox found 'impermissibly vague,'" the ruling said.

Not all ABC stations were fined because the FCC went after stations only in markets where the show aired at 9 p.m.

—Joe Flint

Ebert presents: a young critic

Roger Ebert may embody the film-critic establishment, but he's going young and anti-establishment with some of the personalities on his new "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies."

The man who helped make movie reviews a spectator sport announced Tuesday that he's hired Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, a little-known 24-year-old Chicago critic, to replace Elvis Mitchell in the co-host chair of his new PBS show, which debuts in a little over two weeks. The critic will share the screen with the Associated Press' Christy Lemire, who was named to the spot several months ago.

Vishnevetsky is an essayist at the cinephile site Mu-, contributor to the alternative weekly Chicago Reader and a programmer for a University of Chicago film series. Ebert said in a statement that he heard the young reviewer talking about films at a Chicago screening, where he was "struck by the depth and detail of his film knowledge."

Although he had approached older, more recognizable print critics for the gig, Ebert seems to have resolved to usher in a new era of movie reviewing, alluding in his statement to an "explosion of great online film criticism."

Though the ranks and influence of print critics have diminished in recent years, Vishnevetsky said he feels that's due to change and that he didn't believe the conventional wisdom that younger people ignore film criticism. "People in their 20s or late teens read more movie reviews than people in their 30s. That's been my experience."

—Steven Zeitchik

Pickler joins pals in matrimony

Country songs may be a bit more uplifting in 2011 now that all of the industry's female stars are walking down the aisle. Kellie Pickler just joined friend Carrie Underwood and fellow singer Shania Twain in happily-married-land (and Miranda Lambert's up next).

The former "American Idol" contestant wed songwriter Kyle Jacobs in a ceremony on Jan. 1 on a private island in the Caribbean. The couple got engaged in June 2010 on a Florida beach after two years of dating.


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