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April 7, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
There are many reasons to take a moment to mourn Mickey Rooney's passing over the weekend at the grand old age of 93. For me, it truly feels like the end of an era, a door closing on a golden age, when movies were the great escape. A major star in a time when the famous didn't seem so much like “us,” he did. His smile turned his face into a landscape where laughter roamed free. You got the sense that he would actually want us to say 'Hi,' if he were spotted on the street. It was a kind of easy-going sensibility that would mark his screen career, though by most accounts not his far more complicated real life.
April 1, 2014 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Many waking up to find the name "Frankie Knuckles" trending this morning may have been a little baffled, wondering whether perhaps an old-time pugilist had passed. In a sense this was true, but instead of his fists, the Chicago dance music producer Knuckles, who died Monday at age 59, used steady, relentless rhythms to send his message. In the process, he helped set a course for house music in the 1980s and for electronic dance music in the decades to come. House music was born in Chicago when a team of Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Jesse Saunders and other young DJs brought the ideas and energy of the late 1970s New York City loft scene to the Midwest and started messing with its sounds.
March 21, 2014 | By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
The Facebook page of the dancer known as Reggae Pops has been filled with memories over the past hours as longtime club-goers pay honor to a smooth-moving fixture on the city's night-life scene. Pops, born Nemencio Jose Andujar, died earlier this week, leaving a huge hole on the city's dance floor. Best known to many for his star turn in the video for Lianne La Havas' "Age," Pops could be seen throughout the city's groovier clubs, be it the regular Wednesday night reggae party Dub Club, the summer Grand Performances series in downtown Los Angeles or anywhere a rhythm could be found.
March 20, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
The only thing better than one Kermit is two. And the only thing better than two Kermits is one with a Russian accent. Throw Tina Fey into a gulag, force Ricky Gervais to play second fiddle to a nefarious frog, stick Ray Liotta in a chorus line and you have a sense of the zany extremes to be found in "Muppets Most Wanted. " After the magically nostalgic return of the fuzzy-wuzzies to the big screen in 2011's "The Muppets," it's natural to think of "Most Wanted" as a sequel. Don't.
March 17, 2014 | By Eric Sondheimer
 In trying to put together a short list of the best high school basketball players in Southern California history over the weekend, certainly Raymond Lewis from Los Angeles Verbum Dei deserves to be mentioned, as pointed out by several readers. Here's the link to a story about his accomplishments.  
March 15, 2014 | By Susan King
Robert Wagner is in a reflective mood. "Movies last forever," noted the veteran actor ("Broken Lance," "The Pink Panther," the "Austin Powers" series),  but the Hollywood he once knew has all but disappeared. "I turned around, and it was all gone," Wagner, 84, said recently in Beverly Hills. Known as R.J. to his friends and colleagues, he's dapper, charming, handsome and very much cut from the same cloth as the suave characters he played in the TV series "It Takes a Thief" and "Hart to Hart," in which he and Stefanie Powers played a wealthy crime-solving couple.
March 11, 2014 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Joe McGinniss, who died Monday from complications of prostate cancer at age 71, liked to break the rules. His best known book, 1983's “Fatal Vision,” provoked a controversy over the author's methods; it was McGinniss to whom Janet Malcolm was referring in her famous opening to “The Journalist and the Murderer,” which critiques his relationship with “Fatal Vision's” subject, former Green Beret doctor Jeffrey MacDonald, who was convicted of...
February 24, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
What I will remember most about Harold Ramis is his smile - always there in his work, ever playing across his face. Even when the writer/actor/director was trying to look serious, his eyes twinkled and a grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. As if he couldn't help it. He carried humor with him everywhere, packed in his bag of writing tricks, packed in his 6-foot-2-inch frame. Ramis always seemed on the verge of laughing out loud, as if he'd just remembered a favorite joke. That sense of amusement at all the ridiculous and silly curves this crazy life could throw a person saturated his work from the beginning.
February 22, 2014 | By Chris Megerian and Melanie Mason
SACRAMENTO - For a while it looked like the state Legislature was shedding its reputation as a political punching bag, its ratings in public opinion polls climbing out of the cellar as the budget crisis eased and the economy began to recover. Then federal authorities announced criminal charges against state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) and his brother Tom Calderon, a former lawmaker, on Friday. The senator is accused of fraud, money laundering and taking nearly $100,000 in bribes in return for pushing to expand tax credits for the film industry and opposing certain workers' compensation legislation.
February 22, 2014 | By Susan King
Harry Hamlin wasn't supposed to touch the food on the table during the conference scenes on "L.A. Law," NBC's Emmy Award-winning 1986-94 legal series. The sandwiches were strictly props. But Hamlin, who played attorney Michael Kuzak, the serious-minded youngest partner in the City of Angels' firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, had other ideas. "If you go back and watch the pilot as the very first conference room scene ends, I reach over and pull a sandwich toward me," recalls Hamlin, who plays an ad executive on AMC's "Mad Men. " The move was unexpected PHOTOS: Behind-the-scenes Classic Hollywood "I picked it up as they were shooting my last bit. I had my mouth full of food.
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