Stan Freberg, brilliant satirist, dies

A Stan Freberg album

A Stan Freberg album

Stan Freberg, who wrote and performed satire of the first order for decades, died today at age 88, according to obituaries published by THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, USA TODAY and DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD, among other news sites.

Freberg was in demand to do humorous commercials, to voice cartoons and in general to make people laugh. He also has a connection to the 1960s spy craze, although few people will remember for it. Truth be told, Freberg might have preferred to forget it himself.

Freberg was a guest star in The Carpathian Caper Affair of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. To read a detailed review, CLICK HERE. Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps producer Douglas Benton thought he scored a coup when he signed the great satirist Stan Freburg as a guest star. True, Freburg as Herbert Fummer comes across as amusing and sympathetic. But Benton might have been better off hiring Freberg to write an episode instead. Had that occurred, we would have been spared this insipid mess.

Freberg’s legacy is vast and his U.N.C.L.E. appearance is, at most, a footnote. Here’s an excerpt from from The Hollywood Reporter obit.

The godfather of humorous and irreverent commercials, Freberg lampooned cultural institutions and described himself as a “guerilla satirist.” The New York Times dubbed him the “Che Guevara of advertising,” and years later, “Weird Al” Yankovic called him a major influence on his career.

“Very sad to say that one of my absolute all-time heroes has just passed away,” Yankovic wrote on Twitter. “RIP Stan Freberg. A legend, an inspiration, and a friend.”

Here is just one parody that Freberg wrote in the 1950s, doing a takeoff of Dragnet. Daws Butler, who would later do voices on Hanna-Barbera cartoons, provides many of the voices here:

UPDATE (10:05 p.m.): To read a tribute to Freberg by Mark Evanier, a television and comic book writer who was a friend of Freberg’s, CLICK HERE.

Waltz tells British GQ he isn’t Blofeld in SPECTRE

Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz at Dec. 4 media event.

Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz at Dec. 4 media event.

Actor Christoph Waltz TOLD BRITISH GQ IN AN INTERVIEW he isn’t playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld in SPECTRE.

“That is absolutely untrue,” Waltz told the magazine. “That rumour started on the Internet, and the Internet is a pest. The name of my character is Franz Oberhauser.”

Waltz may be telling the truth. Past events are not a guarantee of future results. Still, it’s worth noting that three years ago, Naomie Harris denied she was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall. Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig also denied that Ben Whishaw was playing Q in that film (“Agents are liars. You know that,” Craig said at the time.)

It’s also worth noting that actual scripts, with some drafts shortly before production began on Dec. 8, have been on the Internet because of the hacking at Sony Pictures. The same applies to production memos.

Waltz also made this observation: “A James Bond film can be artistically fulfilling. Absolutely it can. It can be complex and it can be interesting.”

CLICK HERE to see a sampling of Waltz quotes.