On February 23, Libya was convulsed in civil revolt. Oil prices spiked, and stock values plummeted. Meanwhile, in
New Jersey, a dog was euthanized. God
forgive me, but it is this last event that I will remember.
Television cemented stardom in the 1950s for many celebrities of radio, vaudeville and motion pictures—Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, even Alfred Hitchcock. The first TV star created by the infant medium was George Reeves.
Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion is such a deconstructionist’s dream that you almost expect the late Jacques Derrida to make a cameo appearance. Talk about reality’s insubstantiality: here we have the cinematic version of a beloved radio program, now over three decades old, whose sly conceits play on a homespun America that barely existed.
Director Sidney Lumet once lampooned the “rubber ducky” school of drama: “Someone once took his rubber ducky away from him, and that’s why he’s a deranged killer.” In telling the story of singer Johnny Cash and his tumultuous reckoning with fame—including a first marriage that crashed in divorce (though a union that produced Rosanne Cash can hardly be characterized a failure); an addiction to pill