Tagged: Robin Williams

Michael Davis: Jump

It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice, and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump…’” • Robin Williams

Last week on Bleeding Cool someone posted a one-word comment meant as a commentary on my depression.


I couple of years back I almost did.

I put a loaded gun to my head and pulled the trigger. There was no shell in the chamber as life, not luck, would have it. Life would have it before I cocked the slide I answered a phone call. A dear friend could tell the pain I was in made me promise to “stay here.”

That stopped me.

On my twenty-fifth birthday, a gun was put to my forehead. When my would-be murderer pulled the trigger, the gun jammed.

That saved me.

There’s a big difference between being saved and being stopped.

I didn’t then, nor do I now, want to die. I just wanted the pain to go away.

I write about my depression for the same reason Wayne Brady and Robin Williams and so many others talk about their depression because it may help someone else deal and help us cope.

Both Wayne and I are still fighting the good fight victories and setbacks along the way are part of the conflict we both know that. Robin lost his battle on August 11, 2014.

He spoke about his depression yet was likewise stricken by dementia with Lewy bodies, a type of dementia that gets much worse over time. I can’t imagine living with that kind of hell.

It pains me to think Robin endured it for as long as he did.

Yes, this is a pop culture website, and there’s an argument to be made my sort of personal reflection does not belong here. On the other hand, I write editorials and opinion columns and It’s because of my opinion, so many of you have found an easy target to voice your opinion.

Unless someone totally mispresents my point or is rude just for the sake of being rude, I take time responding to even the harshest of my critics, and I do so with respect.

In return, I mostly get people trying to school me on my swagger.

Telling a depressed person “jump” and isn’t something you screw around with those who do play with fire. If all you want when you visit sites like Bleeding Cool, ComicMix or any pop culture website is to discuss comics movies or whatever there is nothing at all wrong with that.

I get that. More over I’m not interested in a “very special” episode of the Muppets. I have zero interest in Kermit facing his battle with depression, grabbing a gun high, and tailing it up to the roof of 30 Rock intending to blow his brains out. So, yes, I get that.

If I did end up watching I doubt I’m posting on the Muppet website how I wanted to see Kermit shoot himself.

However, making such a comment while pretending you’re just scoring points in the hate Michael Davis game is cruel heartless uncalled for and can be dangerous.

I could care less about me, My focus has always been on young people.

Mental illness is still a big taboo in the African American community.

What happens if some black 15-year-old girl suffering from severe depression posted a reply in support of my struggle and got a “jump?” As is often the case what happens is she was subject to the troll pile on mob attack? Most likely nothing happens.

This, however, did happen the mother of such a young lady sent her daughters post to me directly. Having read some BC comments, she was smart enough to think better of having her daughter post at Bleeding Cool.

Say what you will about anything I write – even my depression if you’re sick of hearing about it. I get that; I get all of that. But for god’s sake have some regard for those who may read such as an act of cruelty directed toward them and on a bad day that’s all it takes.

If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. Shit, I can’t stand fruit cake so why the hell would I ask for a slice, hate it even more, then ask for seconds?

If you’re of such character that you feel ok posting that type of darkness over a silly story about Lois Lane, I’d rather you take your business elsewhere. If this community continues to support this sort of stuff, I’ll go elsewhere.

It’s not worth it.

I didn’t out that person and have no idea if the comment is still up. More than likely was meant to be funny and not hurtful. If there, I’ll ask please that no hurtful comments or hateful rhetoric be directed at him or her. I reacted last week without thinking that the writer may be young, despondent or both.

Thanks, Sandy. I loved the note, enjoy the books.


Tweeks: Christmas at the Movies with the Family

Night-At-The-Museum-3-2014Merry Christmas ComicMixers! After the presents have all been opened, dinners been eaten, and we’ve set the TiVo to record Doctor Who, we like to wrap up our Tweeks Christmas with a trip to the movies with our family. Sadly (and, well, we think weirdly) there are very few family friendly movies out in the theatres this holiday season (unless you’ve been under a rock & haven’t seen Big Hero 6 and Penguins of Madagascar — which in that case, go watch our reviews & go see those pronto!) In this week’s episode, we break down the family-friendly films you can see over Winter Break: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Annie,  and Into The Woods.

John Ostrander: Busted Icons

Bill Cosby Robin WilliamsYou’ve probably seen the news feeds – 77-year old comedian Bill Cosby is accused of being a serial rapist, of drugging women and then raping them. He neither confirms nor denies (however, his spokespeople deny); he simply looks sad and shakes his head. We are left to wonder and question but there are 20 women accusing him and where there’s that much smoke I’ve found there is usually a fire.

And, yes, I believe the accusations. Sadly, I think they are true.

You wonder why he would do it (assuming he did). He was Bill Cosby. He was famous; he was rich. He could probably get or buy as much sex as he wanted. Which underlines the fact that rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power. It’s an act of violence in which a penis is substituted for a club. It’s every bit as brutal.

Does it matter? Another celebrity caught in a sex scandal. The only thing less surprising is a politician caught in a sex scandal.

I think it does matter. When The Cosby Show debuted in 1984, it was a game changer and not just for television. It was a sitcom that showed an upper middle class family of African-Americans. I remember the Eighties (and the Seventies and the Sixties; I go back a ways). I lived in Chicago. Not every neighborhood was integrated. When I was growing up, I rarely saw a person of color. When you don’t know anyone of a certain color or ethnicity, it’s easy to make assumptions about them, to classify them as a group instead of individuals. Prejudice comes easy.

The Cosby Show changed that. They gave us people that we could know, that we could identify with. The Huxtables were relatable. Their problems and situations were like those in most families, black or white. We welcomed them into our homes, our living rooms. It changed things.

And Cosby himself was a wonderful father figure. Warm, funny, sometimes beset by his own family. The show was smart and it felt true. That was part of its success.

It wasn’t just the show. Cosby did stand-up, telling stories about his life and family. His Jello commercials were great because he knew how to react and talk with kids. Cosby was avuncular; he was good company.

How do we separate those images now from his image of a serial rapist?

I don’t think we can.

I believe in separating the artist from their work. Picasso was a son of a bitch but he was a great painter and the paintings exist in their own right. However, the image of Cosby as a comedian, as a TV star, cannot be separated from Cosby the person. His persona is based on his life. The work is not separate from the man.

Cosby isn’t the only one. Robin Williams’ suicide changes what we thought we knew about him. He was a zany, a madcap. He was brilliant; his mind moved like quicksilver. Didn’t like this joke? Never mind; here comes another.

He was also in pain that must have seemed inescapable to him. I don’t know if I can watch Mork and Mindy or his stand-up specials and not look to see the pain underlying the mask. He and Cosby were both icons and, in the end, both are broken. We didn’t know them as we thought we knew them.

Just like the rest of us.


The Point Radio: James Wolk – Yeah THAT Guy

We all loved actor James Wolk as the slightly creepy Bob Benson in MADMEN, plus his run with Robin Williams on THE CRAZY ONES. Now he’s part of CBS’ next big summer event,  ZOO,  and the star of a new quirky indy film with the folks from SONS OF ANARCHY. He covers it all with us. Plus the new sitcom, THE McCARTHYS is really a family affair especially for third generation talent Tyler Ritter who explains what finally brought him into show biz.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Mindy Newell: Hey, Mindy, Where’s Mork?

“People call those imperfections, but no, that’s the good stuff”Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997)

The first few times it was cute. But the joke got really tired, really fast.

By now, almost exactly 36 years later, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been greeted by those words since Mork & Mindy debuted on September 14, 1978. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to smile and do a make-believe laugh in answer to that query.

I can’t count the number of times when what I really wanted to say to the person who thought he was Mr. Originality was “Shezbat!”

I was watching Hardball With Chris Matthews on MSNBC when the news broke last Monday. When the “Breaking News” banner interrupted the show, I thought the announcement was going to be something awful about ISIS, like the terrorist group had just exploded an atomic bomb in Baghdad or something.

Well, the news was awful. And like everybody else, I was floored.

And a memory clicked.

It was Memorial Day weekend, May 1986. I had flown out to California to spend the weekend with my then-beau, Norman Spinrad (the Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction writer), whom I had met while doing the convention circuit after the publication of my Lois Lane mini-series. He took me to a “chi-chi” party at a beach house in Malibu.

I was in the midst of “Hollywood.” There were all these industry people there, all of whom I’m sure didn’t have bank accounts with less than $1,000,000 in them, all of whom I’m sure were wearing Prada and Armani t-shirts with Halston jeans or sundresses by Chanel. Everyone had Louis Vuitton sunglasses and the women all had Vuitton handbags – it was a Vuitton convention! Then Johnny Carson and his wife came up the lanai steps – they were just walking by on the beach and wanted to say hello. There were a bunch of other stars there, plus producers and directors and cinematographers. Timothy “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out” Leary was there.

I have to tell you, I felt like the proverbial duck out of water. I found an empty chaise lounge on the lanai, put on my sunglasses (Ray-Bans) and parked myself, just watching and listening to the talk. Barbara Streisand was the hot item of the day because she was charging a minimum of $5,000 a ticket for her concert, which she was going to give in the “backyard” of her estate with all proceeds going to charity. Everyone was outraged that she dare charge so much; everyone was going. I laughed to myself – just a bunch of Hadassah yentas after all – and started to relax.

The capper came when Norman brought me a drink, sat down and said, “You’re the hit of the party, did you know that?” I laughed and said, “You’re kidding me, right?” “This is Hollywood, Min,” he said. “An unknown woman walks into a party, puts on her sunglasses, sits down, and pulls a Greta Garbo, well, kid, everyone wants to know you are.”

I just shook my head. I suddenly didn’t give a shit anymore. “I’m going in for a swim,” I said to Norman. He said, “You don’t have swimsuit.” I said, “Greta Garbo is going to swim in her underwear. What the hell, it’s Hollywood, right?” He laughed and said, “Be careful. It’s not the Atlantic. There’s a really strong undertow that can grab you.”

So I borrowed a towel from my hostess, walked down to the beach, stripped down, and dived into the Pacific, which did have an incredibly strong undertow. After a while, feeling incredibly refreshed and at home, I came out, took off my wet underwear, put my clothes back on, and wrapped the towel around my head. I walked back up to the house. If any of the yentas had noticed my moment of nakedness on the sand, I didn’t care.

Norman brought me another drink. I took a sip, put it down, and bent over with the towel over my head, wringing my hair out. Then Norman said, “Mindy, I want you to meet someone.”

I swooped up, flinging my hair and towel back, and faced the most amazing blue eyes I have ever seen in my life. They were sapphires in a tanned face. I was mesmerized. And I felt an absolute physical blow of charisma and pure sexuality; it was like the last time I had gone waterskiing, and had lost control, and hit the water at the equivalent of 70 miles an hour, a speed at which hitting the water feels like hitting cement after taking a dive off a twenty foot building – if you survived it, that is. All I wanted to do was curl my hands in that thick brown, incredibly manly chest hair that was escaping from the top of this person’s unbuttoned shirt.

It was Robin Williams.

“Mindy, this is Robin. Robin, this is Mindy.”

“Hi,” I said. But what I was thinking – if I was consciously thinking at this point, my thoughts were whirling like a dervish and I was trying to get my purely corporeal reaction under control and praying it didn’t show on my face – was something like: Robin? Robin Williams? Funny, absolutely. Sexy beyond words, huh? And also, Don’t act like an asshole.

“Hi,” he said. “Nice to meet you.”

I’m not sure exactly what Norman said – I was still trying to calm down my desire to just jump his bones, still so shocked by what I had just experienced – but it had something to do with Alixandra, who was 6 ½ in 1986, and Robin said he had a young son, too, then asked me if my daughter was here in California with me.

“No, she’s home, with Grandma and Grandpa.”

And suddenly Robin Williams and I were talking about kids and babysitters and the anxiety young parents always feel when the kids are left with someone else – even Grandmas and Grandpas.

“Speaking of which,” he said, “Zach’s in the car out front and I told him I’d only be a minute, so I gotta book.”

And he left.

So this week, reading all the articles and listening to all the newscasters and pundits talking about what a nice guy Robin Williams was… I got it. I knew.

And I’ve wondered all week, I’m wondering now, right this very minute: if Robin and I had had a chance to sit down and really talk, would I have told him about my depression and would he have told me about his, and would we have connected on another level besides being young parents at the same time?

And I’ve been wondering, am wondering right now, this very minute: why didn’t I commit suicide during those dark times in the abyss, when I wanted to so badly but couldn’t, and why did Robin do it?

What, or where, was the difference?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

On Thursday this past week I went to work. A co-worker saw me and said, “Hi, Mindy, where’s – sorry, that’s not funny anymore, is it?”

“No,” I said. “It never was.”

Nanu, nanu, Mork.


John Ostrander: In Passing

This last week saw the passing of two luminaries in entertainment – Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams. Ms. Bacall died just short of 90 and had a rich and full life. Robin Williams died at 63, evidently a suicide.

We are told Mr. Williams was battling severe depression and was in the early stages of Parkinson’s.

My first reaction was shock and then denial. It couldn’t be true because I didn’t want it to be true. And then came the questions – how? Why? The how was soon told but the why may never be known. Robin Williams was talented, successful, had family that loved him. Why would he kill himself?

I never met Robin Williams but, like many others, I thought I knew him. That happens with many artists and for many people; we know them from their work. Since the best artists put a lot themselves into their work, we do know something about them but far from all. The artist reveals and conceals at the same time.

There was a very dark side to Robin Williams and ultimately it consumed him. Was it there to be seen? You look at some pictures of him now and think maybe you see it. Will I ever watch his comedy again or his movie roles and not spot it or at least think I do?

His mind was incredible to experience. The speed of his invention was dazzling and I don’t know of anyone who made me laugh as hard or as often. He was also an actor of great depth; he could do a straight part with no clowning around.

There have been many tributes in the media for Robin but, of course, there have also been the assholes. Rush Limbaugh said “He had it all but he had nothing. Made everybody else laugh but was miserable inside. I mean, it fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has. Talk about low expectations and general unhappiness and so forth.” Limbaugh later said he was misquoted and misrepresented by the general media. That trick never works, especially when we have what he said on tape and in print. I wonder what it feels like to have bile running through your veins instead of blood.

And then there are the so-called Christians (some, not all) who claim that Williams was a coward and that he is now in hell because suicide is an “unredeemable sin” since the person can’t ask forgiveness. I’m an agnostic in general and an atheist in particular. I don’t believe in any religion’s version of a deity.

But I was raised Roman Catholic and I was taught never to presume a suicide went to hell. You couldn’t know if, at the last moment, the person killing themselves repented. To think, to say otherwise was a Sin itself, a sin of Presumption. These assholes making their pronouncements should make sure about their own souls before judging anybody else’s. Assuming that souls exist. I like to think they do but, as with everything else spiritual, I’m not sure.

Most people, however, are sorry that he is gone. Perhaps his humor wasn’t to everyone’s taste but everyone can appreciate his loss. Tragedy is defined as the ruin of someone, usually sympathetic, who suffers from a fatal flaw. In that sense, Robin Williams’ death certainly is a tragedy.

I doubt we’ll ever see his like again.


Martha Thomases: Comic Without Book

Robin WilliamsLast year, I noticed an ad for Apple. I mean, you can’t not notice them, since they air every few minutes. This one was special, though, quoting someone quoting Walt Whitman. I wondered if it was made by the same agency that made the Patti Smith Levi’s commercial. And I wondered why the unseen narrator sounded so familiar.

It was Robin Williams, from The Dead Poets Society.

As I’m sure you know, Robin Williams died Monday. God, I’m going to miss him

Now is the time when I would like to tell you what good friends we were, but that would be a lie. Instead, I have only loved him since the first times I saw him do his stand-up on television shows. I was lucky enough to see him perform, twice.

The first time, back when John and I were publishing Comedy Magazine (and why isn’t there a Wikipedia page, damn it!), was at a benefit for the First Amendment Improv Group. Our pal, Jane Brucker, was the emcee for the show and she had to vamp for 45 minutes because Williams’ plane was late. By the time he arrived, the audience was exhausted, but he put on a full and energetic show. To this day, I don’t know how I had the strength to get home, because I laughed so much my muscles were sore.

The second time was at a fund-raiser for Michael Dukakis. This was in the days before everybody put everything up on YouTube. It was before YouTube. Which is just as well because no politician could get elected after being endorsed by someone whose act was so filthy.

Williams was a brilliant stand-up, and a manic improviser. You can see a bunch of his genius here, but it’s not the same. He was so immediate, so of-the-moment, that seeing old material doesn’t capture the wallop of seeing it as it happened. It would be like watching old episodes of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. One can admire the craft and the wit, but it’s so much less funny when it isn’t happening now.

Robin Williams was, for a time, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) things in comedy. It is to his everlasting credit that he used his celebrity to draw attention to and raise money for Comic Relief <http://comicrelief.org>, which helped the sick, the homeless, and others in need.

His acting work was less well-respected. Many critics didn’t like what they perceived to be a sentimental streak in some of his performances, especially in films like Patch Adams or Hook. I understand what they say, but disagree in some cases. Hook never fails to make me cry like a baby, although as much for Maggie Smith as for Williams.

My favorites of his movies have comics’ connections. I adored Robert Altman’s Popeye, based on everyone’s favorite spinach-eating sailor with a script by Jules Feiffer. Everyone in the cast chews up the scenery with glee, and there is a sweetness with the movie that one does not often associate with Altman.

I equally love Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King. Gilliam, aside from being an integral part of Monty Python, worked with Harvey Kurtzman on Help magazine <http://www.helpmag.com> Williams plays a man driven mad by the murder of his wife, describing himself as “The janitor of god.” Yes, his performance is sentimental. I don’t care.

His television show from last season, The Crazy Ones, wasn’t picked up. He has three movies scheduled to be released in the next year, including a new Night at the Museum.

Sweetness and sentiment are part of the human experience, just like anger and hate. We deny them at our peril. Robin Williams combined them in his work in a way that was cathartic and hilarious.

I only wish it had worked for him.

Editor’s note: Yesterday, Robin Williams’ widow revealed her husband was diagnosed as in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. He was not suffering from substance abuse issues, but he long had been trying to cope with the disease of depression,