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RIP

That Time Joan Rivers Did the Cover of Cosmoparody

For The Observer, Lisa DePaulo has compiled a life-affirming hit parade of memories from journalists, journalism students and others who crossed paths along the years with Joan Rivers. Among those sharing anecdotes is our very own Lunch columnist Diane Clehane.

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But the reminiscence we want to focus on here comes from Edward Shain, president of TSM Publishing. It harks back to the mid-1980s, when Rivers was at the peak of her live-performance powers:

In the spring of 1984, my partner Jerry Taylor and I were putting together a parody of Cosmopolitan magazine. We were struggling for a good cover idea and someone came up with trying to get Joan Rivers to do a cover shoot. We didn’t think it was possible but we were going to try, and so we called her agent. Next thing we know, we are sitting across from Joan and her husband Edgar in an elegant suite discussing in detail what the cover joke was going to be. She’s smart, funny, knowledgeable and straightforward. She has no entourage. It’s just the four of us. We come to an agreement on her fee and it’s done. We’re in a state of disbelief. We got Joan Rivers — THE Joan Rivers — for our Cosmoparody cover?!

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RIP: Joan Rivers

ShutterstockJoanRivers2011With this afternoon’s sad news that Joan Rivers has passed away, we turn to the FishbowlNY archives to pay tribute to a force of comedic nature. We covered Rivers quite a bit over the years and it is our sincere hope that in the Great Beyond, she and Johnny Carson can finally make peace. Here are three favorite coverage memories:

1) “Joan Rivers Remarries Gay Couple

Our most recent item involved Rivers ministering the marriage of a male couple. It was well-intended, during a book-tour stop on the west coast. And then, made officially legal at the Plaza Athenee New York.

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From Crystal… to Billy Crystal

On his 63rd birthday, Robin Williams shared the following photo via Instagram. It depicted him with Crystal, his co-star from the Night at the Museum film series.

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Last night, the most striking aspect of Billy Crystal‘s wonderful Primetime Emmys tribute to the late actor and comedian was the photo of Williams displayed throughout. The selection of that picture made Los Angeles Times photo editor Cindy Hively very proud:

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Colleague Remembers a ‘Great Anarchist of New Journalism’

Be sure to read David Felton‘s wonderful essay in Rolling Stone about friend and former magazine colleague Charles M. Young, who passed away Monday after a long, courageous battle with cancer.

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Felton first met Young in 1977, when Rolling Stone moved its main office from San Francisco to New York. By that time, Felton had been contributing to RS for several years:

Chuck and I hit it off right away. We admired each other’s good writing and bad work habits. We scoffed at deadlines. And we developed other bad habits.

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Kirk Douglas on the Kindness of Lauren Bacall

AmericanAcademyDramaticArtsLogoThe year was 1943. And as Kirk Douglas touchingly recalls in this week’s issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the simple gesture of fellow aspiring actor Lauren Bacall made a profound difference to his early Big Apple experiences:

I met Betty when she was 17 and I was 24. We were both studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was on my own in New York with meager funds. That winter, Betty saw me shivering in my thin overcoat. She didn’t say anything, but she talked her uncle into giving me one of his two thick coats.

I wore it for three years. That sort of unassuming kindness was one of her most endearing characteristics. When I had the honor of presenting Betty with her honorary Oscar in 2009, I told the audience: “People said Bacall was ‘tough.’ She’s a pussycat with a heart of gold.”

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University Professor Recalls a ‘Fearless’ James Foley

JamesFoleyPicIn between Libya and Syria, journalist James Foley spoke in February 2012 at San Diego State University. His February 9 talk with students was part of the series “Understanding the Arab Spring.”

In the wake of Foley’s apparent, horrific execution at the hands of ISIS, SDSU economics professor Hisham Foad has shared with News 10 San Diego reporter Rachel Bianco some memories of this intrepid truth-seeker:

“The story he was telling was like a movie,” Foad recalled. “It was better than a movie almost, going out there, getting captured, his life in captivity.”

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RIP: Don Pardo

For the New York Times obituary of Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo, who passed away Monday at age 96, Neil Genzlinger and Bill Carter do a good job of sourcing key portions of a 2006 interview Pardo recorded for the Archive of American Television. Here for example, via that conversation, is how Pardo says he came up with his slowed down and heavily enunciated signature announcing style:

Mr. Pardo said the way The Price is Right was shot led him to develop his peculiar elongated delivery. “The cameras are moving so slowly, and that’s the way I had to describe it: slowly,” he said of the merchandise on the show, which he would describe before contestants tried to guess its price. “Those cameras were large then. You want to make sure you describe what the camera is on.”

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A Robin Williams Selfie Minted at SNL

A year and a half before that great Norm Maccdonald-Robin Williams backstage encounter at Late Night with David Letterman, there was another similar crossing-of-the-paths at Saturday Night Live. Documented by a wonderful selfie that has been shared anew this week to celebrate the warm-hearted spirit of the late Williams.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Jason Silverstein caught up with the young man on the left, Jim Muraco, to get the background on this marvelous shot:

Muraco, 44, stumbled upon Williams backstage at Saturday Night Live in 1988. Back then, Muraco was an 18-year-old film buff who recently had moved to New York City and was eager to meet some of his idols.

Muraco said that he tried to sneak backstage at SNL one night in October to meet Tom Hanks. (It didn’t happen.) When he showed up again the next week, a security guard recognized him and invited him backstage.

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Lauren Bacall, by Way of the BBC

LaurenBacallDIDIn the spring of 1979, BBC Radio 4 gifted listeners with Lauren Bacall‘s Desert Island Discs. Along with some wonderful journalist memories of the late actress, this one gets FishbowlNY’s vote.

Let’s start with then-host Roy Plomley‘s voice. Although this program was recorded 35 years ago, it sounds like it could just as well have been bottled during the heyday of Bacall’s cinematic career. (Strangely enough, DID was launched in 1942, just two years ahead of Bacall’s breakout first film To Have and Have Not.)

The sing-song of Mr. Plomley and Ms. Bacall is mesmerizing, interrupted eight times by some glorious and often classical music. And oh, the memories.

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Tracking Down That Norm Macdonald-Robin Williams Episode

Across the Internet, fans and reporters continue to rave about the Robin Williams recollection shared on Twitter by comedian Norm Macdonald.

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Reddit user ArrestedDevelopments handily combined Macdonald’s sequential Tuesday tweets into a single narrative stream:

It was my first stand-up appearance on Letterman and I had to follow the funniest man in the world. I was a punk kid from rural Ontario and I was in my dressing room, terrified. I was on the phone to a friend back home when the funniest man in the world ambled by. There was no one else on the floor. In shock, I told my friend who just walked by. Only the funniest man in the world. I guess he heard me say his name, cause in an instant he was at my side. He was a Jewish tailor, taking my measurements. He went down on his knees, asked which way I dressed.

I told my friend on the phone that the funniest man in the world was on his knees before me, measuring my inseam. My friend didn’t believe me so I said, “Could you talk to my friend, sir?” The funniest man in the world took the phone and for ten minutes took my friend’s Chinese food order. I laughed and laughed and it was like I was in a dream because no one else was there. No one.

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