Actress Marcia Wallace died this weekend, marking the first major member of The Simpsons' talented voice cast to depart in 25 seasons. Wallace's only recurring character on the series was Edna Krabappel, Bart's perpetually frustrated fourth grade teacher. While Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria may dazzle with their many voices, Wallace's consistent performance as Edna kept her a major part of the voice cast. Mrs. Krabappel was a great foil for Bart and a perfect example of just how hilarious a pathetic character can be. Over the years, Mrs. Krabappel went from simply a stressed out teacher to a booze-soaked, aggressive, oversexed cynic married to Ned Flanders (though we all know her true love was Principal Skinner). From her smacking of Bart to her becoming a Comic Book Guy-loving runaway bride, The Simpsons would have never been the same without Edna Krabappel. Like almost all Springfield residents, she was hilarious, but the inherent tragedy behind her character made her empathetic even when she was drunkenly wreaking havoc during an assembly:
There are many distinct laughs on The Simpsons, but none can pack as much derision into a single syllable as Mrs. Krabappel's "HA!"
The character was responsible for plenty of classic visual gags, too — like her burlesque act.
And she alternately helped and hurt Bart in class, both delighting in coming up with punishments for her most annoying student and yet also, deep down, a decent teacher.
And if that's not enough evidence of her comedic talent, Wallace also played Bob Newhart's secretary in The Bob Newhart Show:
The writers and producers of The Simpsons have decided to retire Edna Krabappel for the remaining run of the show. Although we'll miss the character, we know that this is the right choice, as few could uphold the character with the same lively despair that Wallace pumped into her week after week for 25 years.
When infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) gets captured in late 19th century Arizona the plan is to transport him to a train en route to Yuma prison(leaving at 3:10 of course). But in the 1800s bringing someone to justice is as arduous as it sounds especially since horses are the only mode of transportation and their carriages the only place to house a prisoner. Across “town ” rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is struggling mightily to support his wife (Gretchen Mol) and kids (Logan Lerman and Benjamin Petry) following a drought and needs to build a well for his family. So when he receives a nominal financial offer to help transport the notorious felon he jumps at it dutifully and desperately. While on the trail that leads to the train station no amount of physical or verbal threat is too much for Wade to break free of with ease. But when it comes to the law-abiding rancher for whom Wade has a certain respect his escape becomes much more complicated than getting out of handcuffs. 3:10 to Yuma’s pairing of Batman and Cinderella Man is perfect in concept and execution and watching the two stars is more than a sight to behold—it is transfixing like watching any two longtime professionals make something difficult look easy. It’s the first of two such powerhouse pairings for Crowe this fall—he co-stars with Denzel Washington in November’s American Gangster—and if this small sample size is any indication big-name costars bring out the best in him. Crowe evokes the kind of real humanistic villain that could only exist in a Western and by playing Wade with equal parts amiability and evil the Oscar winner turns in what is probably his most purely charismatic performance to date. Bale’s character on the other hand—and per usual—is loath to crack a smile a quality the actor has mastered. The Yoda of dialect Welsh-born Bale also has no difficulty switching over to Ol’ West speak but it’s the way he conveys the rancher’s stoicism and will that makes him even more credible. Among the supporting turns Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) stands out as a cranked-up trigger-happy member of Wade’s gang and stalwart Peter Fonda is perfectly cast as a tough ‘n’ gruff bounty hunter. When director James Mangold turned Johnny Cash’s life story into Walk the Line it was the romantic version of a much darker tale. For 3:10 to Yuma a remake of the beloved 1957 Glenn Ford-starrer Mangold gives the Western the same treatment. In attempting to reel in today’s action-happy audience Mangold waters down the drama and speeds up the pace. Minor tweaks for this modern update equal a bit of a departure from true Western style with the dialogue for example as snappy as one of today’s action comedies. But it’s all in good fun. The Old West looks completely authentic and the unforgettable ending is perhaps made possible by the director’s innocuous first two acts. Even so his efforts and those of the screenwriters (Derek Haas Michael Brandt and Halstead Wells who wrote the original) aren’t enough to perform CPR on the Western—not that it’s fair to rest the fate of entire dying genre in their hands.
Based on the prize-winning novel by Zoe Heller Notes on a Scandal is a case study in obsessive relationships. When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins a London secondary school as the new art teacher fellow teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) who rules her young charges with an iron fist senses a kindred spirit—and perhaps salvation to her lonely existence. But as Barbara notes in her acerbic diary she is not the only one drawn to the luminous Sheba. She soon begins an illicit affair with one of her high school students (Andrew Simpson) and Barbara suddenly becomes the keeper of Sheba’s secret. Barbara could expose Sheba to both her husband (Bill Nighy) and the world but instead Barbara manipulates it for her own nefarious and selfish reasons. And in playing this dangerously compulsive game Barbara’s own secrets come tumbling to the fore exposing the deceptions at the core of each of the women's lives. Dench and Blanchett give tour-de-force performances yet again. Blanchett’s natural effervescence provides the beacon for all the wanted—and unwanted—attention Sheba receives but it’s her fragile emotional state that draws you in. Played like a wounded butterfly Sheba is too weak to either stave off a dalliance with the young gent—played with convincing lustfulness by newcomer Simpson—or tell the stifling Barbara to bugger off despite the consequences. Then there’s Dench as Barbara representing the opposite end of the spectrum as Notes’ driving force. She’s a bull dog whose withering glares stop her students in their tracks and cutting remarks slice her fellow colleagues to bits all punctuated by her caustic running commentary. Still when Barbara turns madly obsessive with her soft underbelly eventually exposed she crumbles with the best of them. And the best part of Notes is watching these two brilliant actress go toe-to-toe for the first time on film. The underrated Nighy also does a fine job ditching his Pirates of the Caribbean’s tentacles to play Sheba’s down-to-earth yet hapless husband. A top-notch cast all around. Director Richard Eyre is no stranger to crafting intimate pro-actor dramas having helmed such films as Stage Beauty and the Oscar-nominated Iris. He understands where to move the camera to best frame his players as they pour their hearts out on screen. And with Notes on a Scandal Eyre knows that besides his two leading ladies the real star of the film is playwright/screenwriter Patrick Marber’s superb adaptation of Heller’s introspective novel. Voice-over narration is always a tricky film device but for Notes on a Scandal it’s absolutely essential and Marber faithfully captures the inner-workings of Barbara’s skewed thoughts which she fervently writes down in her diary in such delectable ways. Then he entwines the twisty events around these two women. Much like his other work including the exquisite Closer Marber hands in another true gem. Combined with all this is another haunting pulse-pounding score from Philip Glass (The Hours) who sets the tone so perfectly. Notes on a Scandal is definitely one for the Academy Awards’ books.
Top Story: Lil' Kim Indicted by Grand Jury
Lil' Kim was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice by a grand jury in a New York federal courtroom Wednesday for lying to a grand jury investigating a 2001 shootout involving members of her entourage, Reuters reports. According to court documents, the 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, is charged with one count of conspiracy, three counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction. The charges stem from a Feb. 25, 2001, shootout outside Manhattan radio station Hot 97, where Jones and associates from the rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A. appeared as on-air guests. Upon leaving the studio, Jones and her entourage were involved in a shootout with rap rival Foxy Brown, who had previously labeled Lil' Kim's album Notorious K.I.M. as "weak" and "lame." The incident left one man shot in the back. The initial police report said Jones was not present when shots were fired, but a video showed her standing on the street during the shootout and then jumping into a limo with people suspected in the incident. Indictments, which occur when a grand jury decides there is sufficient evidence for a case to go to trial, do not determine guilt. Jones was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond and is expected to appear in court to face the charges at an arraignment hearing scheduled for April 14.
New Jackson Accuser's Memories Repressed
Sources close to the Michael Jackson case told Reuters Wednesday that the latest claim of sexual molestation was brought by an 18-year-old who was said to have recovered repressed decade-old memories of an assault that took place when he was 3 to 5 years old. According to Reuters, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist counseled the new accuser and helped him remember the alleged assault and filed a child abuse complaint against Jackson last year with Santa Barbara County Protective Services. The Los Angeles Police Department, however, has refused to reveal details about the accuser or his allegations. Jackson's lawyers have called the allegations baseless.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 Sells 2 Million DVDs
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1, whose sequel, Kill Bill Vol. 2, hits theaters Friday, sold more than 2 million DVDs during its first day in release, Miramax chief operating officer Rick Sands told Reuters Tuesday. "Kill Bill is an extraordinary achievement and reaffirms that Quentin's films are true movie events," Sands said. According to Nielsen VideoScan's First Alert weekly sales chart, Warner's The Matrix Revolutions was the top-selling DVD for the week ending April 11.
Beckham's Assistant Discusses His Private Parts
David Beckham's former personal assistant, who claims she had sex with the 28-year-old soccer star in Madrid two years ago, told the UK's Sky One television channel in the interview Thursday she could prove her allegations are true. "There's something I know about him, an intimate part of his body that I think only women who have been in bed with him would know," she said. When asked if Beckham was circumcised, Loos answered: "I'm not going into that. I'm not talking about that. If I do ever need to talk about that, it'll be in a court, not on TV." Bookmakers are now offering odds on what the intimate detail might be, including a tattooed behind and a pimply back, Reuters reports.
Matt Groening To Guest on The Simpsons
The Simpsons creator Matt Groening will make his first speaking role on the animated series, Fox said Wednesday. In "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," Edna Krabappel calls off her wedding to Principal Skinner after he gets a case of cold feet, and falls for the Comic Book Guy, who takes her to a sci-fi convention. While at the convention, they run into Groening, who is guest-starring as himself and signing autographs for his fans. The only other time Groening has appeared on the show is in a framed photo on the wall of Comic Book Guy's store. The episode airs on Fox this Sunday, the AP reports.
Kathie Lee Gifford Makes Brief Return to Morning TV
Kathie Lee Gifford returned briefly to morning talk television this week, sitting in for her onetime co-host Regis Philbin on ABC's Regis and Kelly show Thursday and co-hosting Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends Wednesday with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Gifford, who left the morning talk show she co-hosted with Philbin for 15 years in July 2000, said she and Philbin have remained friends. She also talked about the musical career of William Hung, whose version of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" got him kicked out of the American Idol competition. "He's going to stop being lovable very, very soon ... we've seen it, it's a one-trick pony," she said. "And if he gets his teeth fixed, his career is over."
Tom Cruise Raises $1.2M for WTC Workers
The New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, an organization co-founded by Tom Cruise, has raised $1.2 million to expand a treatment program for rescue workers exposed to potentially hazardous materials after the collapse of the World Trade Center. The organization has treated more than 200 workers who say they were suffering effects from breathing the smoke-filled air after the Sept. 11, 2001, the AP reports. The project's program, developed by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, consists of a medically monitored regimen of exercise, sauna sweat-out, vitamins and minerals to help rescue workers cleanse their bodies of toxic residues.
Dick Clark Becomes Diabetes Spokesman
Dick Clark, the former host of American Bandstand and producer of the American Music Awards, announced Tuesday that he has had type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, since 1994, but kept it a secret from everyone except close friends and family, the AP reports. According to the Ogilvy public relations firm, which is promoting his new role as a spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the pharmaceutical maker Merck & Co, Clark, 74, is launching Diabetes: Know the Heart Part--a national public education campaign to alert Americans to the link between diabetes and heart attack and st