Wednesday, July 01, 2009

1 JUL 09: One Week With an Angel

A private funeral service was held Tuesday for actress Farrah Fawcett. Some people seem disappointed that her death last week was trumped hours later by the death of Michael Jackson. Have you noticed those people seem to be middle-aged men -- the people most likely to have Fawcett posters on their walls during college?

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: We've heard several local Michael Jackson stories in recent days, but today we share the story of a Columbus man's encounter with Farrah Fawcett. It occurred years ago in Georgia, when Fawcett was at the peak of her fame - but don't worry, this story is NOT steamy enough that children need to move to a safer site like TMZ.

Stephen King is known in the Columbus area these days for staging fireworks shows. But 29 years ago this week, he was a movie star - sort of. King says he was an "extra" in part of "The Cannonball Run," a comedy about an illegal cross-country car race. Drivers do their best to reenact it on the J.R. Allen Parkway many afternoons.

"The Cannonball Run" was filmed on location in four different states -- including scenes in Atlanta and Covington, Georgia. Online reports indicate it was filmed in 36 days, but Stephen King says there was a delay in Georgia when a "cherry picker collapsed" and crushed several cars. Considering it was an action movie about a car race, you'd think they might have adjusted the script for that.

While the vehicle used for overhead camera shots was repaired, Stephen King says the movie crew declared a "rain day" in early July 1980. That day and other breaks allowed him to spend personal time with what turned out to be quite a star-studded cast....

+ Jamie Farr. His character was called "The Sheik" - and apparently his cousin The Iron Sheik defeated Bob Backlund a few years later, to become world wrestling champion.

+ Adrienne Barbeau. She's probably best remembered for playing Bea Arthur's daughter on "Maude" - and Maude probably would have been outraged at her tight-fitting outfit.

+ Sammy Davis Junior. Judging from the cast list, he may have been added to avoid protests by the Georgia NAACP.

+ Terry Bradshaw. King called him.... well, I'll stop at "pompous."

As for Farrah Fawcett, Stephen King remembers her as a nice young woman who didn't seem to drink or use drugs. King even introduced Fawcett to his father, who was in failing health. For younger readers: this is how older people were revitalized before Viagra was invented.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Stephen King says he has pictures of Fawcett with his father, but considers them too emotional and personal to share here.)

But Stephen King notes Farrah Fawcett was going through a personal trial at the time. She'd separated from Lee Majors one year earlier, and King says Majors filed divorce papers while "The Cannonball Run" was filmed. I never heard whether the couple reached a Six-Million Dollar settlement.

Stephen King was an extra on a couple of movies when he was younger. But now he's busy preparing for Independence Day fireworks across the Southeast this weekend. So he gave up the "bright lights" of Hollywood, to set off some of his own.

As for Michael Jackson: dueling tribute vigils were held in Columbus Tuesday night. WXTX "News at Ten" was live on Broadway, where a group of people sang "Billie Jean" on the sidewalk. If this is what a night of mourning has become, funerals in Columbus may never be the same.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. Visit "On the Flop!" <--

BLOG UPDATE: The one-percent "streets and safety" sales tax officially takes effect in Columbus today. Police chief Ricky Boren says 75 new police officers already have been hired. Based on what we've read here in recent days, residents probably should NOT buy them beer at a bar.

The Tuesday evening news had a surprising statistic about Columbus crime. We only had three homicides in the first half of 2009 - while in the last four years, the murder count was at least ten. Is the mention of more police officers making a difference? Or has President Obama secretly confiscated guns, while nobody noticed?

E-MAIL UPDATE: This message was titled, "Hey I don't know if you'll print this"....

To make comments on the issues of the day and here others check out and listen to David Lee on the Ride 953 Mon- Fri 6am to 10am!

In the sake of full disclosure, we must note this suggestion came FROM David Lee. And no, we have yet to print it -- because our home printer still needs to be repaired.

Now that we've given away a free plug, let's check other items from the last day of June:

+ Goodwill Industries ended its years of service as the official city recycling center. Hopefully the staff rinsed out those plastic milk jugs, before filling them with champagne for a final toast.

+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported a man was arrested for selling 23 tickets to Six Flags Over Georgia. Authorities say the tickets were used. What gave them away - the mustard stains?

+ The expansion Columbus Life basketball team announced an agreement to play home games at Columbus State University's Lumpkin Center. When you can't even afford to play home games at the Civic Center, this IS a minor league team.

+ Instant Message to whomever left a shoe in the middle of the intersection at Fourth Street and Veterans Parkway: Only hours after you did that Sunday, the big lightning storm came - so obviously you waited for the other shoe to drop.

Our count of unique visitors in the first half of 2009 was up 11.1 percent from 2008! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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