Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Norman Steinberg and George Lowry


Norman Steinberg died March 15th.  He has a long list of Hollywood credits.  Let's examine two.

Steinberg was the screenwriter for "Blazing Saddles."  I thought it was a great movie with a lousy ending.  The movie did succeed in being outrageously funny.  It shined a light on racism in the 70's by using the old west as a backdrop.  It was Mel Brooks creativity and lunacy at its best.

Norman Steinberg was also screenwriter for "My Favorite Year."  Regular blog readers will recognize that as my favorite movie.

It was a "boy in a man's world" flick that ended with Benji Stone coming into his own as a television writer.  Peter O'Toole was nothing short of spectacular, earning an Academy Award nomination for best actor.  Mark Linn Baker played Benji, and he did it in a way that was wonderfully human and relatable.  You watch the O'Toole and Linn Baker characters change in two hours.  Both grow up before your eyes.

A movie is more than acetate and actors.  It is the theater, time and place, and friends.  

"My Favorite Year" was released in the fall of 1982.  I saw it at the Ritz on Wyoming Avenue in downtown Scranton-- not the greatest place to see a movie.  But, I was with college friends.  Seeing a movie with good people can make a bad movie good, and a good movie great.  

"My Favorite Year" is a good movie.

One of the scenes that made me laugh the hardest took place in an upscale restaurant.  Jacket required.  Benji didn't have one, so the restaurant gave him a loaner, several sizes too big!  At the time the movie hit theaters, I was working at WARM.  Station policy.  If you were doing a remote broadcast, you had to wear your station issued blazer.  Navy blue.  Station logo patch on the left breast.  I didn't have a WARM blazer of my own.  There was a loaner in the closet, several sizes too big!

Benji Stone and I have a lot in common.

Norman Steinberg was 83.

I should also note the passing of George Lowry.  He ran the Nay Aug Park Zoo for years.  Yes, it was a horrible place.  Small cages.  Too much concrete.  George made the best of a bad situation, and he was genuinely hurt when one of his pets, Toni the elephant, was taken away to a zoo in Washington.  I was there.  It was in Toni's best interests, but I was very sad for George.  You could see his pain, discomfort, and especially his sadness.

I took the Toni photo you see above in 1989.

George loved animals, and any person that loves animals is okay in my book.  There is a special place in Heaven for people like that.

George Lowry was 87.