Saturday, October 02, 2010

Book Review: "We'll be here for the Rest of our Lives" by Paul Shaffer

I greatly enjoyed this book since I have been a longtime fan of musician Paul Shaffer. He has been the keyboardist and band leader for David Letterman since 1982. He and Dave did the late night show at NBC from 1982 to 1993, and have been at CBS ever since. I admire Paul's musical talents, and it is obvious he has a sense of humor and a certain Las Vegas charm to him.

The book talks about his upbringing in snowy Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It tells about how he moved to Toronto where he met up with some other talented, funny Canadians like Martin Short and Eugene Levy. Paul worked in musical theatre in Canada for awhile and eventually moved to New York City and got a gig playing keyboards for Saturday Night Live. He was noticed by David Letterman who was starting his own show and he wanted a musical director who could play well, but also have a sense of humor.

The book is filled with interesting anecdotes from Paul's life working with some of the biggest stars in show business. He drops a lot of names, but if I had his life I would too.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Falls Short of the Original

I really wanted this to be as good as the first one, which came out in 1987. Like most sequels, the original was so much better. Money Never Sleeps has Michael Douglas returning as financial giant Gordon Gekko. The film opens with his getting released from prison for insider trading. Like the first film, he takes a young broker under his wing, this time played by Shia LeBeouf. Gekko's original protegee, Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, has a cameo with a few lines. It just so happens that LeBeouf is engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter. This is ironic since she is turned off to Wall Street traders by the actions of her corrupt father. She is played by Carey Mulligan, and she had a much better script to work with last year when she starred in the Oscar nominated An Education. Josh Brolin plays a slimy adversary of Gekko's who LeBeouf ends up working for. Oliver Stone appears in a cameo in this film as well as many CNBC personalities such as Maria Bartiromo and Jim Cramer. Other stars included Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon. The script is too long, not organized well, and I found myself looking at my watch wondering when it would end. In a great film you care about the characters and a great film will leave you wanting more. The Wall Street of 1987 had that effect on me. Still all of these years later I can watch it again and again. It was so quotable, and modern day traders still remember it as the ultimate movie about high finance in New York City. So many artists have their biggest hits early in their career and they spend the rest of their careers trying to get back that magic that they once had in their work. I am beginning to feel that way about Oliver Stone. The actors and the sets and costumes can all be good, but if the script is not polished, you don't have a hit. Wall Street 2 needed a better script that could interest people as much as the first one.