Nolan Dalla in 1985 at The Dakota, Central Park West in New York City, the spot where John Lennon had been assassinated five years prior.
Thirty-five years ago tonight, on December 8, 1980 at 10:45 pm, a deranged loner stepped onto a dimly-lit New York City side street and fired four shots point blank from a loaded Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver into an inexplicable target that made no sense whatsoever.
Most of us learned of John Lennon’s murder a short time later, not from a breaking news flash, but from the oddest of sources — the rhapsodic voice of ABC sportscaster and quintessential New York journalist Howard Cosell. A thrilling Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins was playing down to the closing seconds of what would turnout to be a game-winning field goal attempt. As the Pats’ placekicker, a native Englishman named John Smith, was taking the field, that’s when Cosell without hesitation broke into the national telecast and stunned millions of listeners on the edge of their seats by announcing news that Lennon had been shot and was confirmed dead.
When necessary, Hollywood must be permitted to apply dramatic license in order to tell a good story. That usually makes for a better movie.
However, no filmmaker should be allowed to lie about the historical record.
That’s precisely what movie director Ava DuVernay has done with her grotesque portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the film, “Selma,” which has rightfully ignited lots of controversy among both historians and movie critics.
Happy Veterans Day — especially to those who served this nation, both past and present.
Let’s take a moment to remember what this day was really intended to celebrate and who it’s designed to honor.
Veterans Day was first proclaimed on November 11, 1919. It was initially called “Armistice Day.” Thereafter, it became a national holiday intended to honor all of the men and women who have served in the United States armed forces.
It’s hard to believe The Twilight Zone, perhaps the greatest television series in history, went off the air 50 years ago. [SEE FOOTNOTE 1]
The weekly series on CBS lasted just five years. That’s a relatively short time for a television show which still enjoys quite an enduring legacy to this day. Aside from the outdated fashions of the early 1960s, any episode plucked from vast The Twilight Zone treasury could air on modern television today and would be just as interesting to many viewers. Perhaps that’s why this iconic series continues to run in syndication and has become such a popular on-demand option more than five decades after the final program was filmed.
Indeed, the cross-generational success of the show was sustained by the brilliant writing and shocking plot twists. No other television writer aside from the great Paddy Chayefsky penned more memorable stories that made audiences think than the show’s creator, director, and star — Rod Serling. Remarkably, he fought constantly with the network, censors, and even corporate sponsors while working on the show, finally surrendering to the typical frustrations which burden all great artists forced to compromise their vision for superficial commercial appeal.
Serling was a dogmatic a three-pack-a-day chain smoker who in 1959 came up with a novel idea for a new television show. After being rejected elsewhere, he pitched a television series to CBS that would examine controversial issues and would even become a vehicle for social criticism. Serling’s grand vision was to address the major events of the day, disguised as broadcast entertainment through the medium of science fiction. [SEE FOOTNOTE 2]