June 17th, 2014
11:22 AM ET

Mike Kasem Speaks Out About Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem, who entertained radio listeners for almost four decades as the host of countdown shows such as "American Top 40" and "Casey's Top 40," died early Sunday, according to a Facebook post from his daughter Kerri Kasem.

His son, Mike, described the character of his famous father that fans may not have seen on "New Day" Tuesday.

Mike said as much as his father worked,  he was always there for his family.

"This man just cared so much about his family, his friends, people around him. He put them first."

Watch the full clip above 

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RELATED: Legendary radio personality Casey Kasem dies at 82

RELATED: Casey Kasem tributes: 'Keep reaching for the stars'

 

 

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May 26th, 2014
04:38 AM ET

Remembering the Tragedy's Victims

Before Elliot Rodger took off on a shooting rampage Friday in a college community near Santa Barbara, California, officials say he stabbed and killed his roommates.

Those men - among the six people killed in total - were identified Sunday as Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19, and Weihan Wang, 20.

All three were students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and were found dead in Rodger's apartment with multiple stab wounds, officials said.

Hong and Chen are listed on the lease along with Rodger. It was not immediately clear whether Wang was visiting or was another roommate.

A law enforcement source said the third victim in the apartment was a visitor, adding that authorities are working on a theory that the attack happened as the three men were asleep.

Katherine Cooper, 22, and Veronika Weiss, 19, also students at UCSB, were later killed outside a sorority, while Christopher Martinez, 20, was killed at a deli, officials said.

Rodger, the son of a Hollywood movie director, also injured 13 people and died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Martinez's father gave a wrenching statement to the news media Saturday afternoon. He was "a really great kid" whose "death has left our family lost and broken," Richard Martinez said.

"Our family has a message for every parent out there: You don't think it will happen to your child until it does," the visibly emotional parent said, his voice rising to a shout in obvious agony.

"Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the (National Rifle Association). They talk about gun rights - what about Chris' right to live?" he continued. "When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness, we don't have to live like this? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves - not one more."

The comment touched a nerve among many Americans, and it prompted the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's president to say the grieving father "got it exactly right."

"It is time for the American public to know the truth about why people are dying every day and, thanks to Americans like Mr. Martinez, that truth is starting to be heard," Dan Gross said in a statement Sunday.

Jeff Dolphin, Christopher Martinez's former roommate, remembered how his friend had always been there for him, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A second-year student at UCSB, Dolphin recalled living with Martinez during their freshman year, the newspaper said.

"Chris was just an amazing guy," he told the Times. "If I was going through something, he was always there for me. If I needed something, he was there. If I needed a textbook, if I was locked out of the room because I forgot my key, he would stop playing basketball or doing what he was doing to unlock the door so I didn't have to get charged. He was just a great guy."

Lyssa Hopper, a 19-year-old student, was at the counter of the I.V. Deli Mart, Hopper told the newspaper. When shooting began, Hopper dropped to the floor, looked up and saw Martinez lying near the door.

"He was slumped over, and he was bleeding," Hopper told the newspaper.

Messages across social media urged that the victims' names remain in the headlines to honor and remember them as more emerges about their alleged killer.

Flowers and cards are being left at the deli. One with a large red heart read, "We will miss you, Chris." Bunches of flowers were wedged into holes left by bullets in the glass storefront.

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April 4th, 2014
09:58 AM ET

It's David Letterman's Comedy World

There was a time when there was nothing like David Letterman on television.

Letterman was the guy who dropped bowling balls and watermelons from the roof of a tall building. Letterman was the guy who had a writer come on to read, straight-faced, from "The Family Circus."

Letterman was the guy who let his stage manager recap "Melrose Place," let two Bangladeshi gift-store owners named Mujibur Rahman and Sirajul Islam serve as "roving correspondents," and always - ALWAYS - bit the network hand that fed him. (Or, perhaps, gave the "GE handshake" to his corporate bosses.)

He took elements of Steve Allen, Ernie Kovacs, Johnny Carson and Mad Magazine, ran them through his own skewed perspective, and came up with something new: the anti-talk show.

Letterman announced Thursday that he was stepping down from "The Late Show with David Letterman" sometime in 2015.

If you were a celebrity who came on "Late Night" (his 1980s NBC show) or "The Late Show" (his CBS successor) simply to chat about your new movie or album or TV show, good luck to you. Dave - he was always "Dave" - might be interested, but more likely he was bored or cranky. He much preferred the Steve Martins or Bill Murrays of the world who would use their spot to do something silly.

It was a comedic style that never really captured Middle America - for most of their 20-year rivalry, Jay Leno's ratings were much higher than Letterman's - but influenced a generation of comedians and comedy writers.

"The Simpsons," Ben Stiller, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, any comedian or comedy that used irony, silliness, absurdity and a little bit of antagonism as their stock in trade - Dave made network television, previously an irony-free zone, safe for all of them. (There was more than a little Letterman in Garry Shandling's curdled, insecure faux talk-show host, Larry Sanders.)

"He did the thing that everyone's tried to do since and has never done, which is to take the talk-show form and redo it," Jerry Seinfeld, an early Letterman guest, told Rolling Stone in 2011. "The mindset was, 'We're tired of pretending there are no cue cards and no cameras and nothing's rehearsed. It's late, and we're going to take over this little piece of territory and do our own thing.' Now that mindset is everywhere."

Reveling in friction

At its best, Letterman's late-night show was unpredictable, particularly in the 1980s, when it was all new. He once used pictures from an old Sears catalog over the opening credits. He did a "360-degree show," letting the camera rotate all the way around during the course of the hour. (At the half-hour mark, Letterman was upside-down.)

His interviews - the "talk" of talk shows - were often deliberately devoid of content. Sometimes he used his guests for comedy bits, as when Steve Martin - allegedly on the set to promote a movie - deplored Letterman's questions and then had the Late Show Gospel Choir launch into a gospel song about himself.

Other times they were, shall we say, antagonistic. Perhaps the most famous example was an appearance by actor Crispin Glover ("Back to the Future") in 1987. At one point, Glover got up to demonstrate a roundhouse kick. Letterman went to a commercial break. When he returned, Glover was gone.

Of course, Letterman reveled in friction. Both Cher and Madonna had tetchy interviews with the host. He made much of an alleged feud with Oprah Winfrey. During the "Late Night" days, he booked people like Brother Theodore or "American Splendor" cartoonist Harvey Pekar - types who were the very antithesis of talk-show guests, types that made audiences uncomfortable.

Letterman grew up a bit when he went to CBS in 1993. With NBC, he wore blazers and sneakers, very much the impish college boy. Suddenly he was in nice suits and shined shoes. The guests became more of the A-list variety, though Dave was still the type to make room for a musician like Warren Zevon, a personal favorite who would never have passed muster on Leno's "Tonight."

But it probably says something that Letterman's most striking moments of recent years came when he dropped the ironic pose and spoke from the heart. These moments - paying tribute to mentor Johnny Carson, thanking his heart surgeons, talking about his son, confessing to an affair - made the very private host seem a little more approachable.

Given some of the stories about Letterman's self-loathing that his former partner and onetime head writer, Merrill Markoe, has told over the years, he probably hated that.

Who shall be the heir?

Perhaps all that irony doesn't make sense anymore.

With Jimmy Fallon's takeover of the "Tonight Show," commentators have been making much of a "return to earnestness," playing up Fallon's niceness and wide-eyed wonder. Fallon himself has named Steve Allen as a model, not so much Letterman. (Conan O'Brien would never have said that.)

And there's something a little awkward about Letterman, the King of Absurdity, still presiding over his anti-talk show circus at the age of 67. It's not that he can't pull it off - it's that he's been doing it for so long that his original college student audience now has children (and grandchildren!) of their own. They have so many more options, and Dave is now one of many.

Who can replace him? Craig Ferguson, whose show follows Dave's (and is produced by Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants), is both earnest and oddball - but maybe a little too fringe-y for the 11:30 p.m. ET slot. There are whispers about Stephen Colbert, fully invested in his own ironic character.

But maybe the point is that nobody can replace Dave. After all, there's a little Dave in all of them.

Of course, Jay Leno's available.

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January 13th, 2014
09:27 AM ET

2014 Golden Globes: '12 Years,' 'Hustle' Win Film Globes

"12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle" are on top of the Globes, CNN's Nischelle Turner reports.

The two films took home the top prizes at the 2014 Golden Globes Sunday night, winning best motion picture drama ("12 Years") and best comedy or musical motion picture ("Hustle").

The wins thrust the two films into the top positions for the Academy Awards' best picture honor. The Globes are often seen as an Oscar forecaster.

Another film, the space thriller "Gravity," also earned an edge, winning best director for Alfonso Cuaron at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's annual shindig.

See highlights from the award show above. 

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