Christmas Coming Early to Omaha

It’s no secret that we at Media Mikes LOVE the film “A Christmas Story.” Mike G. is friends with both Ian Petrella (Randy) and Yano Anaya (Grover Dill). One of the best dinners I ever had was with Yano in Las Vegas and if you’re ever in Cleveland, you should visit the “Christmas Story” house (the one they used in the film). I mention all of this because, once again, our good friend and noted film historian Bruce Crawford has outdone himself by announcing that his 41st Tribute to Classic Film will be the 1983 holiday classic “A Christmas Story.”

The film will be screened on Friday, November 10, 2017 at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street, in Omaha, Nebraska and will begin at 7:00 pm. But wait – there’s more. No film is ever presented unaccompanied. This year, the 25th for the event, the screening will be proceeded by appearances by actors Zack Ward, who played bully Skut Farcas, and another long time friend of the Mikes, Scott Schwartz, who played the unfortunate flag pole victim Flick. The two will introduce the film, answer questions from the audience and sign autographs after the showing.

Tickets for the event are $24.00 and can be purchased at the customer service counters of Omaha-only Hy Vee food stores. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association.

For more information call (402) 932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

“Airplane!” and Captain Ted Striker Heading to Omaha

It’s been designated the 10th Funniest American Film of All Time by the American Film Institute. It inspired the television (and later, film) series “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad.” And it pretty much led the way for the parody films we still see today. “IT” is the 1980 film “Airplane!” and this week film historian Bruce Crawford has announced that it will be the film shown at his 40th Tribute to Classic Films held in Omaha, Nebraska.

The film will be presented at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha on Friday, May 26, 2017, beginning at 7:00 pm. Special guest of honor will be actor Robert Hays, who played the man with the drinking problem, Captain Ted Striker.

Tickets for the event are $23 and can be purchased at the customer service counters of all Omaha-area Hy Vee food stores and are on sale now. Proceeds will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. For more information call (402) 932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

“The Ten Commandments” to Be Unveiled in Omaha

Longtime film historian Bruce Crawford has announced that his 38th Salute to Classic Cinema will feature a 60th Anniversary presentation of Cecil B. DeMilles’ classic epic “The Ten Commandments.” The event will be held at the Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall Theatre on Friday, May 27, at 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha, Nebraska. The show begins at 7:00 p.m.

The event will also feature two special guests. Miss Holly Heston, the daughter of the film’s star Charlton Heston, will be appearing as will Miss Kathy Garver, who portrayed the young Rachel in the film. Fans may also remember Ms. Garver for her role of “Cissy” in the television comedy “Family Affair.” In addition, artist Nicolosi has designed a United States Post Office Commemorative Envelope honoring the film, as well as Mr. Heston and Mr. DeMille, that will be unveiled at the event.

Tickets for the event are $23.00 and are available at the customer service counter at all Omaha Hy Vee stores. Proceeds will go to the Omaha Parks Foundation. For more information you can call (402) 618-2124 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

“Forbidden Planet” to Invade Omaha


“Forbidden Planet,” the classic 1956 science-fiction classic, will be the 37th film to be presented by film historian Bruce Crawford at the upcoming Tribute to Classic Films, to be held on Friday, October 23, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. The screening will begin at 7:00 p.m.

The film, starring Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis and the timeless Robby the Robot, is considered one of the best science-fiction films ever made and was a strong inspiration on such future projects as “Star Trek.” The screening will be held at the Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha.

The evening’s special guest will be actor/author/producer Robert Dix, who played Crewman Grey in the film. Mr. Dix is the son of legendary silent film star Richard Dix, whose Westerns were among the most popular films of the time.

As with other Classic Film Tributes, artist Nicolosi will design a commemorative United States Postal Envelope honoring the film, with the original artwork being unveiled prior to the screening. You can purchase tickets for the event, which benefits the Nebraska Kidney Association, by visiting the customer service counters of all Omaha-area HyVee food stores. The cost is $24.00. For more information you can call (402) 932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

Comedy Classic “Some Like it Hot” Heading to Omaha

Film historian Bruce Crawford has announced the film to be presented at his 36th Tribute to Classic Films will be Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning “Some Like It Hot.” The film will be screened on Friday, April 24, 2015 at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.

Often considered the greatest film comedy of all time, ranking #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 film comedies, “Some Like It Hot” stars Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. The evening’s special guest will be Curtis’ daughter, Kelly. Also, as with other Classic Film Tributes, artist Nicolosi will design a commemorative United States Postal Envelope honoring the film. The artwork will be unveiled prior to the screening.

Tickets for the event, which will begin at 7:00 p.m., are $23.00 and can be purchased at the customer service counters of all Omaha-area HyVee food stores. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Proceeds will benefit the Omaha Parks Foundation. For more information call (402) 926-8299 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” to Invade Omaha

On Friday, November 7th, Film Historian Bruce Crawford will present his 35th Classic Film Tribute by hosting a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Crawford’s special guest that evening will be actress Tippi Hedren, star of the film as well as Hitchcock’s next film, 1964’s “Marnie.”

As with most Classic Film Tributes, artist Nicolosi has designed a commemorative U.S. Postal Envelope honoring the film and it will be unveiled at the event. The envelope will be available for purchase by fans and both Miss Hedren and Nicolosi will autograph it.

Crawford has brought many classic films to Omaha over the years, pairing each one with a special guest star. Recent films (and guests) include “Jaws” with Carl Gottlieb, “Young Frankenstein” with Cloris Leachman, “The Miracle Worker” with Patty Duke and “The Great Escape” with David McCallum.

The screening will be held at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska. Tickets are now on sale and available locally at all Omaha Hy Vee Food Store customer service counters. Proceeds from the screening will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association.

For more information, call 402-932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

Patty Duke and “The Miracle Worker” Coming to Omaha!

If it’s May, you can rely on two things: the start of the summer movie season and another great Bruce Crawford produced film event in Omaha, Nebraska.

On May 23rd film historian Crawford will host his 34th Classic Film Tribute, presenting 1962’a Academy Award winning film, “The Miracle Worker.” Joining Crawford this evening will be the film’s co-star, Patty Duke. This special event is a benefit for the Omaha Parks Foundation and will be held on Friday, May 23rd at the Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha, Nebraska. The event begins at 7:00 p.m.

Based on the play by William Gibson, “The Miracle Worker” tells the story of young Helen Keller (Duke), born deaf and blind, and her relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan (Anne Bancroft). Nominated for five Academy Awards, the film won two Oscars: Bancroft for Best Actress and Duke as Best Supporting Actress. At age 16 Duke became, at the time, the youngest person to win a competitive Academy Award and today she remains the third youngest, behind 10 year old Tatum O’Neal and 11 year old Anna Paquin. Ms. Duke has also won two Golden Globes and three Emmys, including one for portraying Anne Sullivan in a 1979 television version of “The Miracle Worker.”

As with other events, artist Nicolosi has designed a commemorative U.S. Postal Envelope honoring the film which will be unveiled at the event. Also, sculptor Susan Woodford and artist Anne Nye will display their metal and stained glass creations.

Tickets for this special event are $22.00 and can purchased at the customer service counter at any Omaha-area Hy Vee Food Store. For more information call 402-926-8299 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

Shirley Jones to Finally Appear in Nebraska! (Omaha to Be Exact)

After an Oscar-winning film career that has taken her to Iowa (“The Music Man”), Maine (“Carousel”) and, of course, “Oklahoma,” Shirley Jones will be appearing later this month at a benefit screening of “Carousel” to be held in Omaha on Friday, May 24th.

With a multitude of successful benefit screenings under his belt, including “The Godfather,” “Jaws” and, most recently, “American Graffiti,” Bruce Crawford has chosen, for his 32nd Classic Film Event, one of the most beloved musicals of all time, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.”

Miss Jones will be on-hand for the screening as will Mandy MacRae Daley, daughter of the film’s co-star Gordon MacRae. Also in attendance will be world renowned pop artist Nicolosi, who will unveil an original art design he created for this event honoring the film’s stars (Jones and MacRae) and Rodgers and Hammerstein, which will be available as an official United States Postal Service commemorative envelope.

The event begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be held at the Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall, 2200 Dodge St. in Omaha.

Tickets are $20 at all Omaha-area Hy Vee food store customer service counters.
Proceeds benefit the Omaha Parks Foundation. For more information call: 402-926-8299

Eddie Mekka talks about “Laverne and Shirley” and his appearance at the 31st Omaha Film Event

Massachusetts born Eddie Mekka didn’t follow a dream to show business. He followed his heart. Smitten with a young lady in high school he followed her to Boston. Within five years he had appeared on Broadway, scored a Tony Award nomination and headed to Hollywood.

Best known as Carmine Ragusa (The Big Ragu) on television’s “Laverne and Shirley,” Mekka continues to sing and dance. He just completed a production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” where he played both the narrator and Eddie and will next be seen as Pseudolus in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” This Friday, November 2, he will be appearing with his “Laverne and Shirley” co-star Cindy Williams at a special screening of “American Graffiti” in Omaha, Nebraska. The screening, the 31st Omaha Film Event produced by Bruce Crawford, will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. For more information, click here http://www.omahafilmevent.com/upcoming.htm

While enjoying a rare travel break at his Las Vegas home Mr. Mekka took the time to talk with Media Mikes about his career.

Mike Smith: What inspired you to pursue musical theater?
Eddie Mekka: When I was a senior in high school I kind of fell in love with a girl. She went on to study at the Boston Conservatory of Music so I followed her there and got a scholarship. I was taking voice at the Conservatory. Dinner theatres were big in Massachusetts and I attended a performance of “Hello, Dolly.” Afterwards I asked around as to how you got into something like this. The theaters were Equity houses and they told me you had to be a member of Actor’s Equity. I asked how you got into Equity and they said I had to be in a show. How does anybody get in? (laughs) They told me I could work as an apprentice and earn points. Or if someone just decided they wanted to hire you then you join the union and pay your money (dues). So I went back to the theater a few days later and gave them my photo and resume’. One of the other dinner theaters was doing the show “Promises Promises” and somebody got sick. Rather than go all the way back to New York City to audition a new actor they auditioned me there and I got the job. I quit school and that night I went into the show. I did the show for eight months. Most of the actors in the show were from New York City and when the show ended they told me to go to New York. And that’s what I did. I drove a cab and studied hard and started getting into Broadway shows. I got a Tony nomination as Best Actor, headed to Hollywood and in three days I got “Laverne and Shirley!” That’s the long and the short of it!

MS: Wow! That’s the story you never hear. It’s always “I washed dishes for 10 years.”
EM: Well in New York I did drive a cab as well as help clean up at a dance studio. After two years I started teaching dancing. In fact, there were people who had graduated with degrees in Dance from the Boston Conservatory who became my students.

MS: Since you highlighted you dancing, I’ve noticed that in a lot of your on screen appearances….be it “Laverne and Shirley” or “A League of Their Own”…you always manage to work a few dance steps in. Of all of your talents is that your favorite?
EM: I’ve always been a song and dance man…Gene Kelly…Tony Bennett…I’m from the old fashioned school where you had to learn how to sing and dance and act and be funny. You couldn’t just walk onto a television program overnight and then learn how to act. I’m from the old school where you had to learn it all first. Then you go out into the world and pay your dues. You did it the right way…that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because once they find out you can do something special…that you can sing and dance…they try to incorporate that into your role. Besides, I love dancing. As long as I can walk I can dance and as long as I can talk I can sing.

MS: You earned a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical for your performance in “The Lieutenant.” You’ve also appeared in shows like “Grease” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Do you prefer musical theater to film or television?

EM: I prefer the theater artistically. I prefer the others as far as it being a business, making money and getting recognition. There’s no fooling people in the theater. You get on stage and you’ve gotta be good. There’s no faking it. People don’t care how cute you are – they want to be entertained. You don’t get two chances to get it right. You learn the whole script from beginning to end and that’s how you do it. There’s no “CUT.” There’s no switching with a double to make you look good. The theater is honest and there’s no fooling it. And when you take your curtain call at the end you feel absorbed. You’ve done something. And you have to do it again the next day. But not the same way because each audience is different. You actually have to be on your toes. You have to listen and see what they’re laughing at from the very beginning…what the audience is responding to. A lot of the fun of live theater is judging the audience. You just don’t go up there, say your lines then go home and take the money. It’s an art. It’s an art of communication. And in that respect I like it. In television and film you get paid ten times more and do ten times less work. Go figure.

MS: You mentioned that when casting people find out an actor’s talents they try to work them into the character. Was Carmine’s singing and dancing an original part of the character or something you developed with the directors?
EM: It came about through Garry Marshall, who created “Laverne and Shirley” as well as “Happy Days,” which is where Garry first introduced “Laverne and Shirley.” When he cast the show he was looking for a wise-guy Italian. I had just come out from Broadway and an agent I met with was looking at me through her hand. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was trying to see what I looked like on television. I said why not just give me a screen test. She said “it doesn’t work that way, Sonny.” Actors are products. If we don’t know our products we can’t sell them. I told her that someone had told me she was a ballsy lady…that I thought we could have done business together. I shook her hand and left. She was having dinner with a friend of hers from Paramount that night and the friend told her she was helping cast a new show called “Laverne and Shirley” and they were looking for a third character named Carmine…sort of a wise guy Italian. She told her about this guy who had just left her office and her friend said, “bring him in!” I went in the next day and auditioned. That night I did a screen test along with a lot of other “Carmines.” They were also looking at a lot of other “Shirleys.” At first Cindy didn’t want to do it…she had just finished “American Graffiti.” Anyway, during a taping of “Happy Days” Garry Marshall addressed the audience and informed them they were going to see a scene with some new characters. We came on, did the scene and the audience loved it. Garry Marshall told us, “we’ve got a show!” As the show progressed Garry sat down with me and asked me “what else can you do?” I told him I could sing and dance. “Yeah…let’s see.” The following week in the show Laverne tells Carmine that she’s trying to get Shirley to jump out a bachelor cake for the Fonz. I tell her that I can’t get Shirley to do anything but “she’s a sucker for my Tony Bennett (in a perfect Bennett impersonation) YOU KNOW I GO FROM RAGS TO RICHES!” The audience applauded and that was it.

MS: Besides “Laverne and Shirley” you’ve worked several times on stage with Cindy Williams (“Grease,” “It Had to Be You”). Is it easier working with someone you’re so familiar with?
EM: Oh yes. When we did “Grease” we shared the same bus. She had the suite in the front and I had the one in the back. We really go to know each other. On “Laverne and Shirley” we really didn’t talk much, except on set. We didn’t really socialize. It wasn’t until we did “Grease” that we became great friends. We just spent 10 weeks in Canada doing a play called “Sylvia.” And we did a show for 6 weeks the previous year. Our timing now is perfect…it gels. We work really good together.

“American Graffiti” heading to Omaha!


Can it actually be almost 40 years since George Lucas took us all back to 1962 with “American Graffiti?” Well it is, and to celebrate this milestone Bruce Crawford is presenting as his 31st Classic Film Event a special screening of “American Graffiti” on Friday, November 2, 2012. The screening will be held at the Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall, which is located at 2200 Dodge Street and will start at 7:00 p.m.

As with all of Crawford’s events, there will be a special guest in attendance. This event will feature actress Cindy Williams, a co-star of the film as well as of the popular television series “Laverne and Shirley. Also in attendance will be actor Eddie Mekka, best known as Carmine “the Big Ragu” Ragussa on “Laverne and Shirley.” Ms. Williams will address the audience prior to the screening and will talk about working with George Lucas as well as some of the other stars (Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard) of the film.

Tickets for the screening are $20.00 with all proceeds benefiting the Nebraska Kidney Association. Tickets can be obtained at the customer service counters at all Omaha-area Hy Vee stores. For more information call 402-932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

Pat Boone to “Journey” to Omaha in May!

Over the years, film historian Bruce Crawford has provided the people of Omaha with presentations of classic films, making each showing more memorable by including special celebrity guests. For his 30th classic film event, Crawford will be screening the 1959 adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” starring James Mason, Pat Boone and Arlene Dahl. Mr. Boone will be Crawford’s special guest at the screening.

The screening will be held on Saturday, May 19th, at the Joslyn Art Museum’s Witherspoon Hall Theatre, located at 2200 Dodge St, Omaha, NE. The film will start at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets are $25.00 and are available at all Omaha area Hy Vee Food store customer service counters. A limited number of tickets will also be available at the door the night of the performance. Proceeds benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. For more information call 402-932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com

William Holden’s daughter, Virginia, to appear at screening of “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in Omaha

In conjunction with the release of her new book, “Growing Up with William Holden,” his daughter Virginia Holden will appear at a benefit screening of director David Lean’s masterpiece “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” The screening will be held at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, November 4, 2011 and will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association.

The 1957 film stars William Holden, Alec Guiness and Jack Hawkins and received seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Lean) and Best Actor (Guiness).

Copies of the new book will be available for purchase at the event and Ms. Holden will be available for autographs. This is the 29th Class Film Event presented by Bruce Crawford and his Omaha Film Event organization. Previous screenings include “The Godfather,” “Jaws,” “Singing in the Rain” and “Young Frankenstein.”

Tickets are $20.00 and are available at all Omaha area HyVee Food Stores. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door the night of the screening. For more information, or to find out how you can obtain tickets from outside the Omaha area, please call (402) 932-7200. For more information on Bruce Crawford and previous Omaha Film Event screenings go to www.omahafilmevent.com.