Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

Dean Martin’s Diva Daughter: Elvis Called My Dad ‘The King of Cool’

You know you’re a lucky kid when Elvis Presley thinks your father is the greatest thing since sliced focaccia.

And that’s precisely what Dean Martin‘s daughter Deana Martin came to realize one day during the swinging ’60s, as she recounts this week on Buzzworthy Radio.

CAPTION: "Elvis adored Dean Martin," Deana (above, as a teen, with Dino) tells us.

"Elvis adored Dean Martin," Deana (above, as a teen, at a recording session with Dino) tells us.

“Elvis was doing a movie at Paramount, and so was my dad. I went to visit dad at the studio and we were standing outside [dad’s] dressing room. And in those days, you rode around the studio on bicycles,” Deana – who like her legendary father, is a big-band crooner – tells host host NaVell Lee.

“And Elvis Presley comes riding Continue reading

Michael Jackson Planned to Step into Jimmy Cagney’s Shoes, Says ‘Captain EO’ Producer and Longtime Pal Rusty Lemorande

Unlike his idol Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson never established himself as a movie star – namely in a musical remake of the 1938 James Cagney flick Angels with Dirty Faces – and it’s a reget he took to his grave.

That, according to the King of Pop’s Captain EO collaborator, and friend of 25 years, Rusty Lemorande.

CAPTION: "He really wanted a film career," Rusty tells us of Michael (above in 1999).

"He really wanted a film career," Rusty tells us of Michael (above).

In an exclusive interview with BlogTalkRadio, Rusty – who produced and co-wrote the 3-D, Francis Ford Coppola-directed Captain EO as a Disney theme park attraction in 1986 – recounts how Michael came to sign on for Angels and another feature during the early ’90s.

“Michael was pretty pleased with our relationship, and he had just set up his film company at Sony-Columbia. And the problem was, with all the development people, etc. – and it was a pretty thick company with people – he wasn’t committing to anything,” Rusty, whose other production credits include the 1983 Barbra Streisand star vehicle Yentil, tells Movie Geeks United! host Jamey DuVall of the pop star, who died June 25 after suffering cardiac arrest.

“I think people didn’t understand how to relate to him. I used to say to him, ‘You’re a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can’t do any part. The part has to be tailored to you. He became a star because of Terminator.

“Well, Michael said, ‘You come up with some ideas.’ And I came up with two fairly quickly.

CAPTION: Jimmy (right) was among the screen idol Michael hoped to emulate.

Jimmy (right) was the screen idol Michael (left) hoped to emulate in "Angels with Dirty Faces."

“One was to remake an old film called 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which was a [1964] Tony Randall film that involved a child protagonist, and the other was to remake the film Angels with Dirty Faces, which is a James Cagney film. Michael was a huge James Cagney fan.

“Michael loved both projects. Part of it was the way I explained it to him, talked him through it. We had sketches done and creatures made – you really had to turn it into the toy version.

“On Dr. Lao, we had the set miniatures built of the circus and he committed to both, which was a major event at the time.

“One was set up at Warners. And the other was set up at Turner – who owned the remake rights. And everything was going great. Fantastic!

“And then the first scandal hit.”

CAPTION: The King of Pop with Francis during the production of "Captain EO."

The King of Pop with Francis during the production of "Captain EO."

(In 1993, Michael was accused of child abuse by the father of then 13-year-old Evan Chandler. Though he denied the allegations, the pop idol eventually settled the suit out of court for $22 million.)

“I remember it as vividly as I remember when I heard President Kennedy was shot. I was in my car driving to this studio where we were building these miniatures, where people were going to come and see them. And someone called me and said, ‘Did you see what’s on the news? Michael Jackson’s ranch has been raided,” continues Rusty.

“The truth of the matter is, very simply – and in fairness to Hollywood and the big studios – they have huge investment obligations to their shareholders. So they got very nervous. They didn’t know if the audience would still be there for Michael.

As the title character in "Captain EO."

As the title character in "Captain EO."

“Suddenly, nobody wanted to touch him… It was quite sad that it never happened, because it was very important for Michael to be in movies.

“He used to talk about Elvis Presley’s career and say, ‘If Elvis hadn’t made all those films, he wouldn’t be as remembered as he was.'”

During the 30-minute interview, Rusty also reveals how he came to earn Michael’s trust while he and The Godfather director were working on Captain EO.

“The secret of working with Michael Jackson was to think, how would you, literally, deal with a 10-year-old boy?

“Francis got it. At one point, he was having trouble directing Michael. Michael didn’t seem to respond to the kind of word dialogue that a director largely uses.

His only other big-screen appearance: Co-starring as Scarecrow in 1978's "The Wiz."

His only other big-screen appearance: As Scarecrow in 1978's "The Wiz."

“So [Francis] sent out for some masks: happy masks – like clown masks – and scary masks. And when he wanted to elicit an emotion from Michael, he would put on those masks and it would be as if a child were reacting to a mask. And it was effective!

“Michael loved to go toy shopping. But the adult in him wanted to drive his car. And he drove like a maniac. I was always grippin’ my seat.

“He loved masks. He had masks in his glove compartment, which he would put on as he drove. His explanation was, ‘If I don’t put it on, people will see it’s me and they’ll chase me.’

“Then we’d go into a toy store. Then it was funny, because the mask he’d wear into the store would usually be like a woman’s harem mask kind of thing, with a veil across his face.”

To hear Rusty’s full interview, click here.


Cissy Houston: Whitney’s Doing Wonderful

Cissy Houston assures us that Whitney Houston is A-OK – though has no inkling how the troubled diva’s first album in seven years will fare.

That’s because she hasn’t been privy to her daughter’s comeback project as it takes shape under the direction of legendary producer Clive Davis.

CAPTION: “I’m just chillin’ right now and enjoying my life,” Cissy (above, at last year’s GospelFest) tells us.

“I’m just chillin’ right now and enjoying my life,” Cissy (above, at last year’s GospelFest) tells us.

Interviewed on Timothy Hodge, Cissy – a Grammy-winning gospel singer who has done backup duties for the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin – hints that Whitney is indeed on the road to a full mend.

“Whitney is fine,” she tells host Timothy Hodge. “She’s doing wonderful.”

“She’s got a new record coming out in September or – I think the single might be released in July,” adds Cissy, 75, of her baby girl, who was reportedly drug-addled in recently years before checking into rehab.

Adding to Whitney’s woes at the time was then-hubby Bobby Brown, who also grappled with substance-abuse issues, and whom the Greatest Love of All singer finally divorced in 2007.

When Timothy asks if she has heard any cuts from Whitney’s new album, Cissy replies, “No. I’m gonna hear it whenever you hear it.”

Timothy also inquires how Cissy injured her ankle in February, when she was seen – hobbling along on a cane – arriving at Clive’s pre- Grammy bash in Beverly Hills to watch Whitney perform.

Before the fall: With Whitney (left) in 1990.

Before the fall: With Whitney (left) in 1990.

Apparently misunderstanding the question, however, she recounts another ankle-breaking mishap, this one inadvertently brought about by collaborator Luther Vandross, who passed away in 2005.

“Years ago, I fell in my elevator at home. I had act- ually come from a session with Luther. I had went in and overdubbed some things that he had asked me to do. And he left me some flowers there,” says Cissy, who, along with Patti LaBelle, CeCe Winans, J. Moss and others, will be featured at the McDonalds GospelFest in Newark, N.J., on June 13.

“And so I’m bringing these flowers home in the car and everything went fine. When I got here I should’ve called my maid.

“But I didn’t. I said, ‘Ah, man, I’ll take’m upstairs myself.’

“And, you know how in the elevator there’s a space between when you stop? My heel went down in that. And I kept walking and my foot went around like that and it was like ahhh!”

To hear Cissy’s full interview, in which she also reflects on working with Elivs and offers her opinion of President Barack Obama, click here.