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 Posted:   Feb 24, 2021 - 4:20 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Hal Holbrook appeared as Abraham Lincoln in the sixth episode of the 6-part, 12-hour television miniseries NORTH AND SOUTH. In the film, two friends--one northern, “George Hazard” (James Read), and one southern, “Orry Main” (Patrick Swayze)--struggle to maintain their friendship as events build towards the American Civil War.

Richard T. Heffron directed the mammoth production, which aired on ABC between 3-10 November 1985. Varese Sarabande released a 4-CD set of Bill Conti's score in 2008, and a single highlights CD in 2015.

Hal Holbrook’s Abraham Lincoln had a bigger role to play in the film’s sequel—the 6-part, 12-hour miniseries NORTH AND SOUTH BOOK II. Holbrook appeared in 5 of the 6 episodes.


Kevin Connor directed the 1986 series. Bill Conti's score was released by Varese Sarabande in 2008.

 Posted:   Feb 24, 2021 - 4:44 PM   
 By:   Advise & Consent   (Member)


George Mendeluk directed the 1980 film, which has an unreleased score by Canadian rock musician Nash the Slash and Paul J. Zaza. The film scrounged up a U.S. gross of only $700,000.

Sounds like one of those many movies produced in Canada due to the extremely generous tax credits and subsidies that were public policy at the time. Several good films resulted from this policy, many, if not most, weren't so great (including this one).

 Posted:   Feb 24, 2021 - 6:58 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Neil Simon’s comedy PLAZA SUITE was a trilogy of stories about three couples at New York’s Plaza Hotel. The Broadway show starred Maureen Stapleton and George C. Scott, who played the main roles in all three segments. For the 1971 film version, although Simon wanted to split the six main roles among six actors, he was eventually persuaded to allow Walter Matthau to play all three male roles opposite Stapleton, Lee Grant, and Barbara Harris.

When the play was restaged for television in 1987, Carol Burnett played all three female roles, opposite Dabney Coleman, Richard Crenna, and Hal Holbrook. Holbrook and Burnett play “Sam and Karen Nash,” a couple who check into suite 719 at the Plaza, the site of their wedding night twenty-three years earlier.

Roger Beatty and Kenny Solms directed this version, which aired on ABC on 3 December 1987. The unreleased score is by Peter Matz.

 Posted:   Feb 24, 2021 - 11:23 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In Oliver Stone’s 1987 drama WALL STREET, Hal Holbrook plays “Lou Manheim,” an old-style broker who works at the same firm as young hotshot “Bud Fox” (Charlie Sheen). He stresses doing things patiently and ethically instead of chasing the quick buck, and warns Bud not to get dazzled by the Gordon Gekkos of the world.

Hal Holbrook and Charlie Sheen in WALL STREET

Holbrook's character, Lou, was named for director Oliver Stone's real father, Louis Stone, a Wall Street stockbroker who died a year before this film's release. Stewart Copeland’s score for the film was released by Varese Sarabande. WALL STREET cost about $15 million to produce and grossed $43.8 million at the U.S. box office.

 Posted:   Feb 25, 2021 - 11:45 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

When a suicidal young man named “Claude” (Peter Frechette) threatens to throw himself from a hotel ledge, “Father John Michael” (Ben Cross) reports to the scene, hoping his religious faith will help save Claude’s life. As Father Michael reaches for Claude, the boy transforms into a demon and pulls the priest through the window, causing him to plummet to the street below. However, Father Michael survives without injury. Keeping the phenomenon a secret, “Archbishop Mosely” (Hal Holbrook) appoints Father Michael to Saint Agnes parish, where two priests were murdered exactly one year apart under mysterious circumstances. Father Michael is about to confront THE UNHOLY.

Ben Cross and Hal Holbrook in THE UNHOLY

Philip Yordan originally wrote the script in the 1970s after the box office successes of films like THE EXORCIST (1973) and THE OMEN (1976). Director Camilo Vila found the script years later in Yordan's office while they were working on something else, liked it and asked if he could use it. Roger Bellon’s score for the 1988 film has not had a release. The film did middling box office, with a $6.3 million gross.

 Posted:   Feb 25, 2021 - 4:35 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In 1989's FLETCH LIVES, after receiving an inheritance in Louisiana, Los Angeles reporter "Irvin Fletcher" (Chevy Chase) heads to the Belle Isle plantation where he comes across a cornucopia of Southern characters and gets himself into hilarious trouble. After Fletch is jailed under suspicion of murdering his late aunt’s lawyer, he meets lawyer “Hamilton ‘Ham’ Johnson” (Hal Holbrook). Fletch hires Ham to represent him, and is released from jail due to insufficient evidence, whereupon he tries to find the true killer.

Chevy Chase and Hal Holbrook in FLETCH LIVES

Michael Ritchie directed this comic mystery. Harold Faltermeyer's score was released by La-La Land in 2019.

 Posted:   Feb 25, 2021 - 10:30 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

After the end of his detective drama series "B.L. Stryker," Burt Reynolds moved immediately into a new television series--one completely different from any he had attempted before. "Evening Shade' was a sitcom in which Reynolds starred as "Wood Newton", an ex-professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who returns to rural Evening Shade, Arkansas, to coach a high-school football team with a long losing streak. Reynolds personally requested to use the Steelers as his character's former team, because he was a fan.

Wood and his wife, "Ava" (Marilu Henner), whom he married when she was only 18 (a frequently voiced grievance by her father, "Evan Evans" (Hal Holbrook), the owner of the local newspaper), are devoted to one another despite the age difference. Ava is an ambitious and successful practicing lawyer who in the first season is elected District Attorney while pregnant with their fourth (unintended) child. Among Wood's and Ava's closest friends are the somewhat older "Harlan Eldridge" (Charles Durning), the town doctor, and his trusting wife, "Merleen" (Ann Wedgeworth), who is always eager to believe the best of people.

The general theme of the show was the appeal of small-town life. Episodes often ended with a closing narration by Ossie Davis, as his character "Ponder Blue," summing up the events of the episode, always closing with "... in a place called Evening Shade."

Hall Holbrook had been playing a recurring character, “Reece Watson,” on the series “Designing Women,” from 1986 to 1989. Holbrook had his character killed off after he had received the role of Evan on “Evening Shade.” He couldn't do both roles at the same time, so it was easier for him to kill off his character Reece. As it happened, “Designing Women” was cancelled shortly thereafter anyway. Holbrook had married one of the stars of “Designing Women,” Dixie Carter, in1984.

“Evening Shade” premiered on CBS on Monday, 21 September 1990 at 8 PM. It held its own against its competition--"MacGyver" on ABC and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” on NBC--with none of the three cracking the top 30 shows of the season.

In its second season (1991-92), even though "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" moved into the top thirty, at #22 for the year, "Evening Shade" really came into its own, finishing the season as the #15 rated show.

The situation was somewhat reversed in the 1992-93 season, with "Fresh Prince" moving up to the #16 position, while "Evening Shade" dropped to #19. (ABC's entry into the time slot, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles", did not survive.)

In "Evening Shade"'s fourth and final season (1993-94), "Fresh Prince” dropped to #21, but "Evening Shade" dropped even further to #29, and was cancelled after 98 episodes. Skyrocketing production costs, mainly attributed to the large salaries of the show's top-caliber, all-star cast, were the primary reason given for the cancellation (which was confirmed by Marilu Henner in her September 1994 appearance on Charlie Rose). However, some have speculated that the show's ending was a decision made by Reynolds, rather than CBS, as his recent marriage troubles with Loni Anderson (from whom he was divorced in 1993) were thought to have impacted his work.

The cast of “Evening Shade”: Elizabeth Ashley, Hal Holbrook, Burt Reynolds, Marilu Henner, Charles Durning, and Ossie Davis

 Posted:   Feb 26, 2021 - 3:41 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In the 1993 thriller THE FIRM, Tom Cruise plays a young lawyer who joins the prestigious law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, only to discover that it has a sinister dark side. Hal Holbrook played “Oliver Lambert,” one of the firm’s named partners.

Hal Holbrook in THE FIRM

Sydney Pollack directed the film. Dave Grusin's score was released by GRP, and an expanded edition was released by La-La Land in 2015. Because of the stars’ salaries (Tom Cruise alone received $12 million), THE FIRM cost $45 million to produce. But it all worked out in the end, with the film having a worldwide gross of $270 million. Paramount gave $100,000 Mercedes SL convertibles to Tom Cruise, Sydney Pollack, and producer Scott Rudin as thank-you gifts.

 Posted:   Feb 26, 2021 - 7:34 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

After a hiatus of nearly 20 years, Raymond Burr reprised his role as Los Angeles defense attorney “Perry Mason” in 26 television films that aired on NBC from 1985 to 1993. Following Burr's death in 1993, Paul Sorvino and Hal Holbrook starred in four additional television films under the umbrella title of “A Perry Mason Mystery”, that aired from 1993 to 1995, with Sorvino playing lawyer “Anthony Caruso” in the first of these and Holbrook playing “‘Wild Bill’ McKenzie” in the last three. Bill McKenzie was a retired lawyer and a friend of Perry Mason who preferred to spend time working on his ranch. But he occasionally took on a case wherein the defendant was wrongfully convicted or falsely accused.

The first of Holbrook’s films was THE CASE OF THE LETHAL LIFESTYLE. When Perry is unable to deliver a speech at a conference, he calls Bill McKenzie to fill in. Also at the hotel is “Adrian Lye” (Robin Leach) filming the newest episode of “Lifestyles of the Wealthy and Well-Known”. One of Lye's guests, and Bill's friend, “Daniel Kingman” (James Stephens), a famous chess player, is at the hotel and is being blackmailed by Lye. When he goes to Lye's room, a fight ensues after which Lye is found poisoned to death. When Kingman is accused of the murder, Wild Bill defends Kingman.

Helaine Head directed the film, which was aired on NBC on 10 May 1994. Dick DeBenedictis provided the unreleased score.

Holbrook’s second Perry Mason Mystery was THE CASE OF THE GRIMACING GOVERNOR. Perry's secretary “Della Street” (Barbara Hale) and private investigator/lawyer “Ken Malansky” (William R. Moses) go to visit an old friend, rancher and famous lawyer, "Wild" Bill McKenzie (Holbrook). Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate “Harlan Richards” (Ken Kercheval) is murdered, and his daughter, “Karen” (Kim Johnston Ulrich), thinks that Harlan's rival, “Lt. Governor Ryan Allison” (James Brolin), has something to do with her father death. But Ryan has had suspicions about the death and thinks that it involves somebody that is close to him. He calls Karen, but when she gets there, Ryan is dead, and Karen is framed for the crime. Bill, as a friend of the Richards family, starts to investigate, and Ken and Della are only too willing to help.

Max Tash directed the film, which aired on NBC on 9 November 1994. Dick DeBenedictis provided the unreleased score.

Holbrook’s third and final Perry Mason Mystery, and the last film in the Perry Mason series was THE CASE OF THE JEALOUS JOKESTER. Bill McKenzie's niece, “Lisa Kaye” (Victoria Jackson), works as a production assistant for controversial television personality “Josie Joplin” (Dyan Cannon), who publicly accuses her of having an affair with her husband. One night, Lisa receives a message that she believes is from Josie to go to her hotel room. When she gets there, someone knocks her out, and when she wakes up, Josie is dead and Lisa is accused of the murder, so Bill McKenzie defends her.

Vincent McEveety directed the film, which aired on NBC on 10 April 1995. Dick DeBenedictis provided the unreleased score.

 Posted:   Feb 27, 2021 - 11:18 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In the Disney animated film HERCULES, Hal Holbrook voiced the character Amphitryon, the foster father of Hercules (Tate Donovan). Amphitryon was married to Alcmene (Barbara Barrie).

Barbara Barrie (Alcmene) and Hal Holbrook (Amphitryon) in HERCULES

Ron Clements and John Musker directed the 1997 release. Alan Menken’s score and songs (with lyrics by David Zippel) were released by Walt Disney Records. The $85 million production of HERCULES ended up in the top 20 films of the year, with a mighty $253 million worldwide gross.

 Posted:   Feb 27, 2021 - 2:57 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

MEN OF HONOR was the true story of Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver, and the man who trained him, Master Chief Billy Sunday (Robert DeNiro). Hal Holbrook played “Mr. Pappy,” the eccentric and bigoted Colonel who runs the diving school.

Hal Holbrook in MEN OF HONOR

George Tillman Jr. directed the 2000 drama. Mark Isham's score was released by Motown Records. The $32 million film had the honor of grossing $82 million at the worldwide box office.

 Posted:   Feb 27, 2021 - 10:28 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Set in 1951, THE MAJESTIC told the story of a blacklisted Hollywood writer (Jim Carrey) who gets into a car accident, loses his memory, and settles down in a small town. There he is mistaken for "Luke Trimble," a decorated veteran who has gone missing, and Luke's anguished dad, "Harry" (Martin Landau), clings to the idea that his lost son has come home. Hal Holbrook co-starred as “Congressman Doyle.” Frank Darabont directed this 2001 drama. Mark Isham's score had three tracks on the Hollywood Records soundtrack CD. The $72 million production was not so majestic at the box office, with a worldwide gross of only $37 million.

 Posted:   Feb 28, 2021 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

As SHADE opens, we're introduced to several hustlers operating in L.A.'s gambling underground: “Charlie” (Gabriel Byrne), a small-time grifter looking to break into the big time; “Tiffany” (Thandie Newton), who has a sharp eye for potential marks; and “Vernon” (Stuart Townsend), a young man who's made a name as a "mechanic"--someone who can skillfully manipulate the cards. What all of them would like is a chance to take down the acknowledged master card sharp, the “Dean” himself (Sylvester Stallone). But before they can even get a seat at the table, they need some additional “schooling” by “the Professor” (Hal Holbrook).

Hal Holbrook and Stuart Townsend) in SHADE

Holbrook's character is based on the magician Dai Vernon. It is Vernon's portrait on the wall of the Magic Castle where the Professor is sitting. Damian Nieman wrote and directed the 2004 release. Christopher Young’s score was released by Intrada. The $10 million production folded at the box office, with only a $459,000 worldwide gross.

 Posted:   Feb 28, 2021 - 10:01 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

After graduating from Atlanta’s Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity, and hitchhikes INTO THE WILD, to the western U.S. and up to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. One of these is Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook), a widowed leather worker and crusty benefactor to Chris in the Arizona desert, who becomes a voice of reason for the young man.

Hal Holbrook and Emile Hirsch in INTO THE WILD

Sean Penn directed the 2007 film, which was based on a true story. The film was scored by Michael Brook and Kaki King, with songs by Eddie Vedder. Vedder’s songs were released on CD by J Records, who also made the Brook/King score available as an iTunes download. INTO THE WILD proved popular at the box office, grossing nearly $57 million worldwide.

Hal Holbrook was nominated for both an Oscar and a Screen Actors Guild award as “Best Supporting Actor,” losing both to Javier Bardem for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Holbrook also received Best Supporting Actor nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, as well as the film critics in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, and Utah. At age 82, Holbrook was the oldest male actor ever to be nominated for an Academy Award.

 Posted:   Mar 1, 2021 - 1:46 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In KILLSHOT, “Carmen Colson” (Diane Lane) and her ironworker husband “Wayne” (Thomas Jane) are placed in the Federal Witness Protection program after witnessing an "incident". Thinking they are at last safe, they are targeted by an experienced hit man (Mickey Rourke) and a psychopathic young upstart killer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The ensuing struggle will test Carmen to the limit. Hal Holbrook has a small part as a Mafia boss.

John Madden directed this 2008 crime drama. Klaus Badelt scored the film, after a score by Stephen Warbeck was rejected. Neither score has been released. The film barely had a U.S. release and took in less than $3 million worldwide.

 Posted:   Mar 1, 2021 - 4:38 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

“The Event” was a television series containing elements of science fiction, action/adventure, and political allegory. The plot centers on a group of extraterrestrials, some of whom have been detained by the United States Government for sixty-six years since their ship crashed in Alaska, while others have secretly assimilated among the general populace. Caught in the middle of all this is “Sean Walker” (Jason Ritter), whose plans to propose to his girlfriend “Leila” (Sarah Roemer) on a Caribbean cruise are cut short when she mysteriously disappears from the ship.

Hal Holbrook had a recurring role in the series as “James Dempsey,” an elderly and powerful businessman who is the head of the vast conspiracy to cover up the existence of the aliens. He has a private army of innumerable assassins to carry out his orders. He is revealed to have the ability to shift to a younger version of himself. He is part of an ancient sub-human race that has been fighting the aliens for three millennia.

Hal Holbrook in “The Event”

NBC premiered “The Event” on Monday, September 20, 2010 at 9 PM. There, it went up against the CBS comedies “Two and a Half Men” and “Mike and Molly,” the #16 and #29 highest-rated series on television that season. But the real killer was going up against ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” the second-highest rated series. One would have thought that an action drama was good counter-programming. But a sizable audience never materialized, and the series was cancelled after a single season of 22 episodes. Hal Holbrook appeared in 10 episodes.

 Posted:   Mar 1, 2021 - 10:25 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

As WATER FOR ELEPHANTS opens, “Jacob” (Hal Holbrook) wanders from the old folks' home and ends up at the circus that has just given its last performance in town. Jacob goes on to tell the performers a story about when he briefly worked for the Benzini Brothers Circus which, we're told, did not see the end of 1931. As a young man, “Jacob” (Robert Pattinson) was once a promising veterinarian student at Cornell, until his parents die in an accident, leaving Jacob penniless. Looking for a job during the Great Depression, Jacob lucks out when he gets on the Benzini Brothers' train.

The ringmaster and owner, “August” (Christoph Waltz), is a charismatic but brutal businessman. He almost throws Jacob, a trespasser, off the train until he learns that Jacob is a vet. He needs Jacob just as much as Jacob needs him. August's beautiful wife, “Marlena” (Reese Witherspoon), is also the star performer.

Paul Schneider and Hal Holbrook in WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

Francis Lawrence directed the 2011 film. James Newton Howard’s score was released by Sony Classical. The $38 million production was a success, grossing $117 million worldwide.

 Posted:   Mar 2, 2021 - 11:26 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Daniel Day-Lewis starred as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN. The 2012 film focused on the President's struggles with the Civil War's continuing carnage on the battlefield as well as the fight with many inside his own government on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Daniel Day-Lewis originally turned down the role of Lincoln. Despite his misgivings, reportedly it was Leonardo DiCaprio who convinced Day-Lewis to take the role after Steven Spielberg told him that Day-Lewis had declined. Hal Holbrook played journalist and newspaper editor Preston Blair in the film.

Hal Holbrook and Daniel Day-Lewis in LINCOLN

John Williams’ score was released by Sony Classical.

 Posted:   Mar 2, 2021 - 1:30 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Although he appeared in a few more feature films, LINCOLN was Hal Holbrook’s last major film appearance. In 2018, he collaborated with writer-director Scott Teems to make the documentary HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY. The film chronicles the triumphant and tumultuous history of the longest-running one-man show in the history of theatre, Hal Holbrook's Tony and Emmy Award-winning masterpiece, "Mark Twain Tonight!" In the film, Holbrook takes the audience behind the scenes to show how he creates the character of Twain and how he constructs each performance, which is usually individualized to its particular audience.


 Posted:   Mar 2, 2021 - 4:01 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In addition to being an Oscar nominee, Hal Holbrook was a fixture at the Emmy Awards. He was nominated for 12 Emmys, winning 4 of them.

Hal Holbrook as a double Emmy Award winner for 1973’s PUEBLO

Holbrook once said: “On stage your job as actor is to present and show the story by your behavior, body language, and vocal work. In film, you musn't. You just have to be. You are...and it's mostly intuitive. The amount of characterization you do is very minimal. In fact, you try not to act at all. It's actually better that way, and it's taken me years to learn that.”

Hal Holbrook made all the hard work seem effortless. We are fortunate to have been graced by his performances. Farewell, Hal.

with Shirley Booth in THE GLASS MENAGERIE

with second wife Carol Eve Rossen

with Clint Eastwood and Joe Miksak in MAGNUM FORCE

with third wife Dixie Carter

with Kevin McKidd and Giacomo Gianniotti in “Grey's Anatomy” (2017)

with Dixie Carter

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