Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Our veterans have been making America safe and secure for all of us who call this country home for more than two hundred years. I am proud to count my dad, my grandfather, two uncles, and a couple of cousins among the brave men and women who served our nation so selflessly. My love and respect are not nearly enough to thank them for their sacrifice. If you know a Veteran take a moment to thank them for all they've given to make our lives free.

Thursday's Author

In the past few years, I have been extremely privileged to become friends with some of the finest writers on the literary scene today. One of the most successful and prolific is Rick R. Reed. When I first met Rick he was living in Chicago and he had already written such popular books as Possessed and Face Without A Heart. Since we became acquainted he has continued to pen one hit after another. Novels like IM, Mute Witness, Bashed, the award winning Orientation, and most recently the gay romance Tricks have established Rick as a force to be reckoned with indeed. Currently living in Seattle with his partner and their terrier Lily, Rick is always working on a new thriller to keep his fans enthralled and turning pages long into the night. His books are available from major booksellers everywhere.

Rick is also a loyal friend who is always there to offer his support in any way he can. Like so many others, I am lucky to consider him a part of my life. If you haven't already enjoyed one of his many works of fiction, you're missing out on something special. Rick can be found online at, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, as well as his official blog When asked why he writes he replies: "I do what I do because I have to. I have no choice. It's like being gay...or being human. It's immutable. I couldn't stop writing if my life depended on it."

Oscar Winner Dino De Laurentiis Dies at 91

Dino De Laurentiis, the son of Italian pasta makers who became a prolific movie producer of blockbuster hits such as "Serpico," expensive duds such as "Dune" and sweeping epics including "War and Peace," has died, Ansa news agency reported. He was 91.
He died in Los Angeles, Ansa reported. De Laurentiis lived in Beverly Hills with his third wife, Martha.
First in his native Italy, then in the United States, De Laurentiis combined marketing flair, an eye for talent and a fearlessness of failure as he produced more than 600 films, some prodigious in scale and ambition, often featuring superstar names in action thrillers.
He worked with, among many others, directors Federico Fellini and Milos Forman and actors Al Pacino, Audrey Hepburn and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who credited De Laurentiis's "Conan" movies with making him an international superstar.
The tumult of his personal life rivaled the action in his movie scripts. He had four children with Italian model-turned- actress Silvana Mangano, who died in 1989 shortly after their divorce became final, then two more daughters with third wife Martha, the youngest one born when De Laurentiis was 71.
His only son, Federico, died in a 1981 plane crash while making a documentary about salmon fishing. One of De Laurentiis's grandchildren, Giada, is a celebrity chef on U.S. television.
De Laurentiis earned much of his critical acclaim early in his career. Two films he produced during a seven-year collaboration with fellow Italian Carlo Ponti -- "La Strada," which Fellini directed, and "Nights of Cabiria" -- won back- to-back Academy Awards for best foreign-language film in 1956 and 1957.

Oscar for work
Decades passed before the academy again honored De Laurentiis, presenting him with the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award in 2001 for his body of work.
"I've been very lucky in my long life," De Laurentiis said upon receiving the award. "On three continents, in diverse cultures, through happy moments, not-so-happy moments, and moments as marvelous as this one, I've had the privilege of working with the cinema's greatest masters."
Small in stature (various accounts gave his height as either 5 feet 4 inches or 5 feet 6 inches), De Laurentiis made a giant impact on how the movie industry stages, promotes and finances big-budget, big-name spectacles. Rather than work for Hollywood studios, he sold his productions directly to distributors in the U.S. and around the world.

Event films
That made De Laurentiis one of the first "global film producers, savvy about their international audience and raising money all over the world in order to make event' films," Brooklyn College professor Frederick Wasser wrote in the 2002 book "Movies and American Society."

In the 1980s De Laurentiis briefly turned his attention to improving the American culinary experience, opening food stores in Manhattan and Los Angeles. Their lavish displays of breads, pastas and cold cuts drew crowds of sightseers, but the stores closed within a few years.
Impressed by the serenity of coastal North Carolina during filming of Stephen King's "Firestarter" in 1983, De Laurentiis built what later became the EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington. He seemed on his way to assembling an entertainment conglomerate when he acquired Embassy Pictures from Coca-Cola Co., formed the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and, in 1986, took the company public.

Big-budget flops

A series of big-budget disappointments, including David Lynch's sci-fi thriller "Dune" (1984), led to a financial crisis, and the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based film company filed for bankruptcy protection in 1988. De Laurentiis stepped aside as chairman and his daughter, Raffaella, resigned as president of production.
He never stopped producing movies, however. He ran Dino De Laurentiis Co. with his wife, the former Martha Schumacher, a one-time administrative assistant in his New York offices. Among its productions was the hit "Hannibal" (2001).
"Making movies is all about instinct," he said in a 2001 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "Nobody taught Picasso how to paint -- he learned for himself. And nobody can teach you to be a producer. You can learn the mechanics, but you can't learn what's right about a script or a director or an actor. That comes from instinct and intuition. It comes from inside you."
Agostino De Laurentiis, the third of seven children, was born on Aug. 8, 1919, in Torre Annunziata, near Naples. His parents ran a pasta factory.

Pasta salesman

Deciding that the life of a traveling pasta salesman wasn't for him, De Laurentiis won his father's permission to study acting at Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. He shortened his name to Dino in his early 20s when he entered the movie business.
"If you lived in a provincial town like Torre Annunziata, where there was nothing to do in the evening but go to the movies with your friends, the cinema was a world of fantasy. I had always been in love with it," he recalled in interviews for the 2004 book "Dino: The Life and Times of Dino De Laurentiis."
He had just broken into Italy's film business -- working as a stagehand, extra, director's assistant, and finally director of production -- when he was called to military service in 1943 during the final weeks of Benito Mussolini's dictatorship. He said he retreated with other deserters, avoiding German troops, until Allied troops secured Italy. Back in Rome in 1944, he got busy reviving his film career, and Italy's film industry.
He founded Dino De Laurentiis Studios in 1947 and had quick success with "Bitter Rice" (1949), which was nominated in the U.S. for an Academy Award for best picture. It was on that set that he met Mangano, a teenage model breaking into acting. They would marry in 1949.

Career epics

In the 1950s he began work on the epics that would help define his career. With Ponti he produced "Ulysses" (1954), with Mangano and Kirk Douglas, and "War and Peace" (1956), with Hepburn and Henry Fonda, which was nominated for Academy Awards for cinematography, costume design and best director (King Vidor).
In 1962, De Laurentiis bought land in Rome and started work, with government subsidies, on what would become Dinocitta -- "Dino City" -- a sprawling production studio that opened in 1964 and was patterned after Cinecitta, the studio founded by Mussolini. Among the movies he made there was "Barbarella" (1968), the science-fiction film that featured Jane Fonda in various states of erotic dress, and undress.
Dino's city didn't stand for long. By the early 1970s De Laurentiis was chafing at the Italian government's demands that films have Italian directors and predominantly Italian casts. Meantime, the Italian film industry was in a downturn, and Dinocitta was losing money each year.
De Laurentiis moved with his family to New York and found immediate success with a trio of hit law-and-order movies: "Serpico" (1973) starring Pacino; "Death Wish" (1974) starring Charles Bronson; and "Three Days of the Condor" (1975), with Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. He would become a U.S. citizen in 1986.
De Laurentiis heaped praise on the U.S. before and after making it his home. "In Italy, contrary to the way it is in the United States, a man who works hard and tries to do something becomes a target for animosity," he said in a 1965 interview with the New Yorker magazine. "In the United States, such a man is appreciated."

Only mistake

In the 1970s he told New York magazine that building Dinocitta in Rome "was the only mistake I've made in my life. If I had built it in New York, it would have been fantastic." The magazine reported that shuttering Dinocitta had left De Laurentiis several million dollars in debt, a gap he easily closed with earnings in the first 18 months of producing movies in the U.S.
Inspired by the success of the 1975 hit "Jaws," De Laurentiis embarked on a $25 million remake of the 1933 movie "King Kong," giving the starring role to a model and first- time actress, Jessica Lange.
The 1976 movie was a box office success and won an Academy Award for visual effects, but left critics mostly unimpressed. "A series of big, foolish but entertaining spectacle scenes," Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times.
"Conan the Barbarian" (1982), marked the acting breakthrough of Schwarzenegger, the Austrian bodybuilder who years later became governor of California. "It was your Conan movies that launched my international career," Schwarzenegger wrote to De Laurentiis on his 80th birthday, according to the 2004 biography of the filmmaker.
In 2001, at 82, De Laurentiis showed he could still make hits when he combined with director Ridley Scott and actor Anthony Hopkins on "Hannibal," the smash sequel to the 1991 hit "The Silence of the Lambs." He followed that in 2007 with "Hannibal Rising."
De Laurentiis's brief first marriage, in Italy the 1940s, was annulled. Raffaella, one of his four children with Mangano, was executive producer of the 2004 movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow."

By Laurence Arnold/Bloomberg News

Survivor Nicaragua Episode 9 Recap: The Madness of Marty

Survivor Nicaragua just keeps getting more interesting as each episode airs. Last night the irascible Marty Piombo continued his quest to rid the tribe of Jane Bright, the 55 year old North Carolina native who quickly joined forces and bonded with the younger tribe after the two groups merged. Marty and Jane have had a hate-hate relationship since the beginning of this season. Seeing Jane as the biggest threat to everyone in the game, Marty has done his damnedest to get her voted off. Meantime, Jane has led a crusade of her own to get Marty out because she sees him as “evil.” Needless to say, these two don’t like each other.
It’s been great fun watching Marty do himself in over the course of the past three weeks. Thinking he had sway and influence that he clearly did not have, he talked to the very people he should have kept quiet around. Even worse, he ticked off the ones he needed in order to keep himself alive in the game. Trying to be a master strategist instead of a team player when it is still so early in the game was ultimately his undoing. In a surprising landslide, he was ousted in a 7-2 vote during the ninth episode.
Marty just didn’t have the foresight to keep his head down and try to stay under the radar until a few more days passed. His rant during the eighth episode’s tribal council about how Jane was the most dangerous player in the game did make a big impression with a lot of his tribe mates. He’s not the only one who knows Jane would win if she makes it to the end. Yet his abrasive verbal tirades during tribal council were just too much for his fellow competitors to overlook. No matter how much sense his strategic ideas made (forcing NaOnka Mixon to use her idol – that he originally found and then stupidly gave away – while attempting a blindside of Jane) he turned out to be his own worst enemy. With Marty now on the jury, his impact on the game will be minimal at best. No one likes him enough to listen to him anymore.
The reward challenge was great. Split into men vs. women, with Chase Rice sitting out as the men had an extra player, the two groups battled to overcome a net course, a hay stack climb, a bamboo barricade, and then storm through a brick wall to open three locks, thereby raising a group flag which would indicate a win. Jane proved to be the women’s biggest liability during this contest as her early exhaustion cost them valuable time, leading to a smooth victory for the men. When given the chance at the start of the challenge to pick a team to support, Chase chose the women and lost out on sharing in the reward with his boys.
The men then went zip-lining over the canopy of trees in the Nicaraguan jungle before enjoying a delicious feast that included fresh vegetables, fruit, barbeque and pie. Instead of using this as a bonding experience with Benry, Sash, Dan, and Fabio, Marty instead turned it into a chance to advance his agenda of flushing the idol out of NaOnka and blindsiding Jane.
What none of the guys knew is that Sash and Brenda (who won individual immunity in a battle of memory against Marty), in their secret alliance, are using their swing votes each week to maneuver themselves into better positions to keep moving ahead in the game, and Sash reported back to Brenda on every word that was said. While it looked at first like these two would go with Marty’s plan to oust Jane, in order to keep him around as a pawn for everyone to dislike, they ultimately went with the group and voted him out.
NaOnka went on another tirade of her own during tribal council about how she disliked Marty and Fabio and wouldn’t change herself or her game play for anybody. After last week’s embarrassing stunt when she stole reward food herself, and was exposed - thereby having to fess up to it, this week’s verbal ass-showing on her part again confounded Jeff Probst, who couldn’t figure out why she’s being kept around. Probst must not be privy to all the footage shot during the days leading up to a tribal council.
So Marty is out and Jane remains safe within her alliance for now. Next week’s preview was quite enigmatic; showing several cast members in obvious shock after discovering something as of yet unseen.
Favorite quote of the week: Jane (discussing Marty) – “I’d like to take him out back of the woodshed and whip his ass.”

Thursday's Flashback

1976 was a big year for The Supremes. With the exquisite Susaye Greene in the group, the line-up sparkled with vitality and pizazz like never before. High Energy was a hit album that firmly ensconced the trio as disco mavens worthy of their moniker. It spawned their last Top 40 hit, "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking," and its title track became an anthem in discos and clubs all over the world. Susaye's crsip, brilliant five octave range was displayed in all its glory on this track. The Supremes also became one of the first groups in history to shoot a music video for an album track. This song still makes me want to get up and dance. You just can't sit still when it cranks down and amps up.

Thought for Today

"If you see a turtle on a fence post, he had help gettin' up there." -- Little Jimmy Dickens