Friday, January 04, 2008

TV: Late Night Report

Second day back for the network shows and things have already returned to normal, in that I didn’t watch any of them. And if I’ve got the TV on tonight, I know what I’ll be watching: Skidoo. Otto Preminger’s counterculture film – Jackie Gleason as a mobster on acid, Groucho Marx playing a gangster named God, and hippies, hippies, hippies – gets a rare television screening on Turner Classic Movies at 2AM Eastern/11PM Pacific. Mark Evanier has done a sterling job of getting the word out. Don’t miss it.

Book: Luck Be A Lady, Don’t Die by Robert J. Randisi (2007)

Back in March I raved about the first of Randisi’s Rat Pack mysteries. The second entry in the series keeps the good times rolling. The Pack is back in Las Vegas for the premiere of Ocean’s 11, and once again they reach out to Eddie G, pit boss extraordinaire at the Sands casino, for help. Frank Sinatra, pining for Ava Gardner even as he cavorts with Juliet Prowse, has arranged for yet another young lovely to meet him in town. After checking into her hotel she disappears, and Mr. S wants Eddie to find her. Before he’s done Eddie will cross paths with a battery of luminaries, including Sam “MoMo” Giancana. With slick plotting and a peerless recreation of 1960 Las Vegas, the book goes down like good bourbon.

It also reminded me of another recent appreciation of Las Vegas in its mobbed-up heyday, from Bob Newhart in the HBO documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. As Newhart put it, say what you will about “the boys,” they knew how to run a gambling establishment.