Lou Reed succumbed to liver disease at his home in Long Island, New York, according to the late rocker's doctor. The former Velvet Underground frontman died on Sunday (27Oct13) after battling poor health for months.
Dr. Charles Miller, who performed a liver transplant on Reed at the Cleveland Clinic in April (13), tells the New York Times that the rocker returned to Ohio last week (bes21Oct13) for further treatment.
The medic told Reed his condition could no longer be treated, and the singer/songwriter opted to return to the home he shared with his wife Laurie Anderson.
The doctor says, "We all agreed that we did everything we could."
Tributes from the music world have been pouring in for Reed since news of his death was released. Blondie stars Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne added their thoughts about the rock star in statements on Monday (28Oct13).
Harry wrote, "I'm so sad that he's gone but his hypnotic voice telling a story of a Perfect Day, or the devil let loose in White Light/White Heat will live forever."
Her bandmate Stein added, "Lou was one of a handful of originals. I don't think that the conditions that created him will again even be approximated, let alone duplicated."
And Byrne stated, "His work and that of the Velvets was a big reason I moved to NY and I don't think I'm alone there. We wanted to be in a city that nurtured and fed that kind of talent."
Blondie stars Debbie Harry and Chris Stein have added their names to the long list of celebrities paying tribute to the late Lou Reed, who died on Sunday (27Oct13) at the age of 71. The punk icons have recalled magical moments with the former Velvet Underground frontman in statements released on Monday (28Oct13).
Harry remembers, "The first time I saw the Velvet Underground with Lou Reed it was in the 1960s at a place on the Lower East Side (of New York) called The Balloon Farm. That day I became a lifelong devotee of the iconoclastic sound and style of Lou and the Velvets.
"I'm so sad that he's gone but his hypnotic voice telling a story of a Perfect Day, or the devil let loose in White Light/White Heat will live forever."
Her bandmate Stein adds, "I had many encounters with Lou over the years and he was always charming and polite. I just never ran into his infamous dark side... Lou was one of a handful of originals. I don't think that the conditions that created him will again even be approximated, let alone duplicated."
And Stein recalls a really amazing night when his band was asked to open for the Velvet Underground: "When I was 17 years old in 1967, my friends and I were fascinated by the Velvets' first amazing album. A close friend of mine worked for (Andy) Warhol. One night he arrived at my house in Brooklyn and told my friends and I that the band who was supposed to open for the Velvets in NYC had cancelled and would we like to replace them.
"We got on the subway with our guitars and went to a venue on the Upper West Side, called the Gymnasium. Maureen Tucker let us use her drums; turn them right side up even and we used the Velvets' amps. We played our little blues rock set and at the end someone came over and said, 'Oh, Andy thought you were terrific'.
" There were maybe 30 people there. The Velvets came on and were just powerful. They used the echo-y acoustics of the place to their advantage. This was a moment that shaped my musical life and I tell the story frequently."
Other tributes have poured in since the news of Reed's death broke, including notes, statements and tweets from the likes of his friend and VU bandmate John Cale, The Who, the Pixies, Patrick Carney, Morrissey, Ryan Adams, Nikki Sixx, Steven Tyler and Cyndi Lauper, among others.
And Talking Heads frontman David Byrne offered up his thoughts on Monday in a statement that reads: "No surprise I was a big fan, and his music, with and without the Velvets, was a big influence on myself and Talking Heads. He came to see us at CBGB (in New York) numerous times, and I remember three of us going to visit him at his Upper East Side apartment after one of our very early gigs there.
"I kept in touch with Lou over the years. We'd run into one another at concerts or at various NY cultural events and benefits... More recently I'd see Lou and (wife) Laurie (Anderson) socially - we'd join mutual friends for dinner sometimes and at concerts. He and Laurie never stopped checking out emerging artists, bands and all sorts of performances.
"His work and that of the Velvets was a big reason I moved to NY and I don't think I'm alone there. We wanted to be in a city that nurtured and fed that kind of talent."
The tragic opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerald Butler) who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera waging a reign of terror over its occupants [cue the organ music]. Think The Elephant Man meets The Hunchback of Notre Dame--except this particular "monster" has some serious sex appeal. I mean honestly his only "disfigurement" is some scarring on one side of his face which he covers with a rather classy mask. No big whoop. But I digress. When he falls desperately in love with the lovely ingénue Christine (Emmy Rossum) who has lived in the opera house for most of her life the Phantom devotes himself to molding the young soprano into a star exerting a strange sense of control over her as he nurtures her extraordinary talents. But when Christine falls for the dashing Raoul (Patrick Wilson) all hell breaks loose as the Phantom's growing jealousies threatens to tear everyone apart [OK now it's really time to cue the organ music].
Fans will no doubt be happy their favorite musical has finally made it to the big screen but the musical's original stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman have been replaced in the movie version by hot young actors. This is a very wise decision considering the film's rather longwinded nature. In other words even though the Phantom performers keep singing and singing and then sing some more at least they are appealing to watch (and they did do all their own singing). Butler (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) is particularly effective as the Phantom all brooding mysterious and far more intriguing a suitor than pretty boy Raoul played blandly by Wilson (HBO's Angels in America). With her alabaster skin and long luscious locks Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow) also does a nice job as Christine. But she is unfortunately limited to only a few range of emotions--either all doe-eyed and somber over her Phantom doe-eyed and gushy over Raoul or just plain doe-eyed. As for the supporting players Minnie Driver nearly steals the show as the Italian soprano diva La Carlotta. As the only breath of fresh air in the musty opera house you definitely crave more of her.
It's taken about 15 years to bring Webber's smash hit to the big screen. Apparently after winning every known theater award for Phantom the legendary producer-composer approached director Joel Schumacher in 1988 to do the movie after being impressed by Schumacher's work on The Lost Boys. Hmmm The Lost Boys to Phantom of the Opera--I'm still trying to tie that one together. Anyway Webber had to postpone production for personal reasons and then Schumacher was busy doing such films as Tigerland and Phone Booth. Finally the time was ripe to make Phantom coming on the heels of the musical movie boom started by Moulin Rouge and Chicago. Schumacher certainly incorporates all the right elements from the young and talented cast to the opulent sets and magnificent costumes. The problem is the material: Phantom really isn't all that compelling of a story. Sure the stage production was and still is a theatrical event especially as the Phantom moves on catwalks all over the theater and the impressive chandelier comes crashing down on the stage. But for the film adaptation there needs to be something more than just grand posturing set pieces and operatic music. Maybe a little more dialogue? A sex scene? Anything?
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.