Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.
Gene Siskel and I were like tuning forks. Strike one, and the other would pick up the same frequency. When we were in a group together, we were always intensely aware of one another. Sometimes this took the form of camaraderie, sometimes shared opinions, sometimes hostility. But we were aware. If something happened that we both thought was funny but weren't supposed to, God help us if one caught the other's eye. We almost always thought the same things were funny. That may be the best sign of intellectual communion.
Gene died ten years ago on February 20, 1999. He is in my mind almost every day. I don't want to rehearse the old stories about how we had a love/hate relationship, and how we dealt with television, and how we were both so scared the first time we went on Johnny Carson that, backstage, we couldn't think of the name of a single movie, although that story is absolutely true. Those stories have been told. I want to write about our friendship. The public image was that we were in a state of permanent feud, but nothing we felt had anything to do with image. We both knew the buttons to push on the other one, and we both made little effort to hide our feelings, warm or cold. In 1977 we were on a talk show with Buddy Rogers, once Mary Pickford's husband, and he said, "You guys have a sibling rivalry, but you both think you're the older brother."
Once Gene and I were involved in a joint appearance with another Chicago media couple, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier. It was a tribute to us or a tribute to them, I can't remember. They were pioneers of free-form radio. Gene and I were known for our rages against each other, and Steve and Garry were remarkable for their accord. They gave us advice about how to work together as a successful team. The reason I remember that is because soon afterward Steve and Garry had an angry public falling-out that has lasted until this day.
Dennis Rodman, star of basketball, movies, books and pro wrestling, is still a little stunned by the spotlight. Before the premiere of "Double Team," the new Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller where he gets second billing, he mused about his function as a publicity-generating machine: "I never ever expected that my career would turn into such a media hype: In San Antonia, I was doing the same thing, but I guess the media are stronger in Chicago, and being linked with Michael Jordan and a championship team didn't hurt."
Q. One thing that really jumped out at me during the Oscars this year: the comparative screen time for the winners in the supporting and lead acting categories. I would bet that Cuba Gooding Jr. had more screen time than Geoffrey Rush, and that Juliette Binoche had more screen time than Frances McDormand. Now, don't get me wrong: I admired both Rush's and McDormand's performances. But since they respectively beat Billy Bob Thornton and Emily Watson, who appeared in just about every scene in their films, it feels like a cheat! (Chuck Rudolph, New York City)
PARK CITY, Utah "Prefontaine" breaks most of the rules of the sports movie genre. It's about a runner who did not win his big race, who was abrasive and cocky and not always a nice guy, and who led a rebellion against the amateur sports establishment of the early 1970s.
Dennis Rodman is Daffy Duck. Dickey Simpkins is Elmer Fudd. Jud Buechler is the sexy Lola Bunny ("sound . . . fundamentally sound . . . although he lacks some of her features"). Ron Harper ("he'll kill me if I say this") is Porky Pig. Phil Jackson is Foghorn Leghorn ("I say, I say . . .").