Podcast: July 23

On the show this week: A former director and a stranded motorist — both from Larchmont — praise the late Heath Ledger, and a David Lee Roth impostor fools Canadian cops.

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At the end of the video and after the break is the answer to this week’s quiz: The twins of Brad Pitt and former Sneden’s Landing resident Angelina Jolie were born earlier this month in what country?

A. France
B. Namibia
C. Spain
D. United States
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No Joke: Heath Ledger’s Oscar buzz boosted as ‘Dark Knight’ has record-breaking weekend

Like pretty much everyone else in the country this weekend, I caught “The Dark Knight.” Beyond the gripping action sequences, moody ambiance and stellar special effects, the haunting performance of the late Heath Ledger is what makes the movie a must-see.

ledger.jpgTrue to the accounts I’d heard and read prior to seeing the movie, he disappears into the role in a way that unfathomably outdoes Jack Nicholson, who by comparison was playing a cranky Jack Nicholson in clown makeup. Among comic book movies I’ve seen, Ledger made the Joker by far the most believable villain, making his posthumous performance all the more chilling. He made the character murderous but multidimensional, ruthless but riotous.

Unlike Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in “There Will Be Blood,” Ledger’s isn’t quite the slam-dunk for a best actor Oscar, but even with months to go before the Academy Awards and a previous nod for “Brokeback Mountain,” it would be hard to argue against another nomination at this point of the movie season.

Oscar-winner Ang Lee, a Larchmont resident who directed Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain,” said a few months ago that when he heard Ledger’s Joker hiss the line “Let’s put a smile on that face,” Lee didn’t recognize the actor behind it until he looked at the screen.

I couldn’t believe that was Heath. He was such a different person, used such a different voice for Brokeback Mountain. It’s haunting, how much he disappeared into his characters. It wasn’t until I heard that, that I realized just how gifted he was with his voice.

But talent isn’t the only reason Ledger, who died Jan. 22 after an apparent accidental drug overdose, has been missed. A day after his death, Suburbarazzi noted that CNN printed a quote attributed to Dan Bova of Larchmont:

Once when I was driving in Brooklyn, I got a flat tire. As I was jacking up my car, this deep voice from behind me said, ‘Need a hand?’ It was Heath Ledger. I couldn’t believe it. He helped jack up my car and change the tire. He was really good with tools!

All the more reason that the six Americans who haven’t already seen “The Dark Knight” should do so sooner than later.

(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/USA Today.)

Ang Lee: ‘A Caligula among directors’?

In the aftermath of the Heath Ledger tragedy, director Ang Lee — who worked with Ledger on “Brokeback Mountain” and lives in Larchmont — had one of the nicest quotes about the actor in any of the stories I read.


“Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life. He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined – a thirst for life, for love and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking.” </div></blockquote>


Eager to find any other comments Lee has made about Ledger in the past, I stumbled upon something even better: an article in The Age about how Lee is a cruel, cruel tyrant on film sets. As the story put it, Hugh Grant once nicknamed the normally softspoken man “Fang Lee” after shooting Sense and Sensibility. The only other evidence that the story puts forward to back up its claim is the Heath Ledger once said (with Lee standing at his side) that the director “drove him and Jake Gyllenhaal to the outer limit of physical endurance in freezing temperatures.”

I’m not sure how exactly that qualifies him as an evil taskmaster, but the article goes on, “Under that mild-mannered exterior — consisting of a gentle-to-inaudible speaking voice, self-deprecating manner and an overall Zen calm — lurks a driven obsessive, a Caligula among directors.”

As for another claim in the article — that Lee spent 100 hours filming a ten minute sex scene for “Lust Caution” — well, that’s just plain common sense. And, I think, even something that a frostbitten Heath Ledger would have approved of.

“Fang Lee: Cruel but True” [The Age]

(AP Photo/Focus Features) 

CNN: Larchmont man says Heath Ledger helped him with flat tire

heath.jpgThe most recognized Larchmont resident to have a connection to actor Heath Ledger is probably director Ang Lee. Both received Academy Award nominations, with Lee winning the award, for work on the 2005 film “Brokeback Mountain.”

But off the set, another man from that village is reportedly offering acclaim for Ledger, who died yesterday at age 28.

About a third of the way down this Web page, CNN prints a quote attributed to Dan Bova of Larchmont:


Once when I was driving in Brooklyn, I got a flat tire. As I was jacking up my car, this deep voice from behind me said, ‘Need a hand?’ It was Heath Ledger. I couldn’t believe it. He helped jack up my car and change the tire. He was really good with tools!


The quote is among many to praise the actor for his kindness in settings ranging from film sets to toddler classes. Feel free to share your own memories of Ledger, in person or on screen, below.

(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Heath Ledger, 28, found dead

ledger.jpgHeath Ledger was found dead in a New York City apartment this afternoon. He was 28.

Ledger was nominated three years ago for an Academy Award for his performance as a gay cowboy in “Brokeback Mountain,” directed by Larchmont resident Ang Lee. Ledger also appeared recently in “I’m Not There,” for which castmate Cate Blanchett received an Oscar nomination this morning.

His death casts an even darker shadow on “The Dark Knight,” for which he plays The Joker in the latest installment of the Batman movie franchise. The film is in post-production, according to Internet Movie Database.

A versatile and nuanced actor who could carry sweeping dramas like “Brokeback” and popcorn flicks like “A Knight’s Tale,” Ledger will be missed.

(AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)