I was hoping to be able to post something silly and Halloween-themed this morning, but a very sad reality got in the way with the passing yesterday of a really good filmmaker, much too young. The news, which I learned via The Playlist, was broken by the Denver Post.
Best known for two outstanding, possibly great, documentaries “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” codirected with Fax Bahr, and “Mayor of the Sunset Strip,” as well as for directing the original short film with Billy Bob Thornton that formed the basis for “Sling Blade,” the prolific independent director George Hickenlooper apparently died in his sleep in his Denver hotel room. He was there getting ready to promote his latest foray into dramatic feature filmmaking, “Casino Jack” starring Kevin Spacey as jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, at a film festival in the city where his cousin, John Hickenlooper is the mayor. The two cousins had only met for the first time in 1991 when he came to the city to promote “Hearts of Darkness.” The mayor became the focus of Hickenlooper’s film about the 2008 Democratic convention, “‘Hick’ Town.” He was 47.
I never got to meet Mr. Hickenlooper, who had better luck with documentaries than dramatic films, but I had brushes with friends-of-friends over the years. He was part of a group of St. Louis-bred creatives that also includes writer-director James Gunn (“Slither“). It’s pretty clear this is a huge shock to everyone and my sincere condolences to everyone.
Below are some brief moments from Hickenlooper’s signature films.
I might know something about the music scene in Denver since I do PR for musical acts, and I feel like I’ve represented more artists from that city than from anywhere else to date. The talent there is just amazing, but I’m not sure why. Do the mountains and beautiful scenery inspire people to write great music? But it’s not just that…it’s the singers, too. Anyway, last night on “American Idol” that Rocky Mountain talent was on display for all the world to see, and 26 contestants in all made it to Hollywood. What I’m saying is, I’m not surprised by that count.
This time around, Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, was the fourth judge again, and Ryan Seacrest went on for a few minutes about this being the city where Chris Daughtry auditioned in 2005. They sure do like to milk that stuff. Anyway, here were the best and worst from Denver that they showed…
Last night marked episode 6 of Season 9 of “American Idol” on Fox, and the auditions this time were held in Dallas, Texas. Of course, Ryan Seacrest kept saying they were returning to Dallas for the third time, the city where they had found so many previous hopefuls and talent. But all they did was show clips of Kelly Clarkson’s audition back in 2001 and a few other contestants nobody remembers. Seriously guys, that was a huge stretch, and there was no need to harp on it. So you found Kelly there, big freaking deal.
On to the auditions, and the guest judges this time were Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) and Joe Jonas. I’m yawning as I write this…give me more Katy Perry! Actually NPH was pretty funny, but Joe…I don’t think he said a word beyond “yeah” a few times. Way to go, kid.