October 21, 2009
On April 5, 1987, the FOX network debuted its first primetime series, an irreverent sitcom about a highly dysfunctional family called "Married... with Children" (followed by "The Tracey Ullman Show"). The series ran for 11 seasons and was a turning point in the careers of actors Ed O'Neill, Katey Sagal, and Christina Applegate. Plus, it would forever change the way we heard the Frank Sinatra-crooned theme song, "Love and Marriage."
This week, the final season of the series was released on DVD. In the words of Al Bundy, "Let's rock," while we take a walk down memory lane with the stars of "Married... with Children," then and now.
Before success with "Married... with Children," Ed O'Neill had spent his career doing a string of small film parts and TV appearances. While he was considered for such roles as Sam Malone on "Cheers" and Steven Keaton on "Family Ties," he ended up landing a part in the failed TV pilot "Popeye Doyle" and a cop role in the film "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane." Then he was cast as Al Bundy, and he hit it big at age 41.
Ed can currently be seen on the funniest new show of the season, "Modern Family," playing a not-so-warm-and-fuzzy husband, father, and granddad with a passion for toy airplanes... oops, we mean model airplanes. We're hoping this move wipes away the series of career missteps between "MWC" and "MF" that included "Big Apple," "Dragnet," and "John from Cincinnati."
Catherine Louise Sagal's younger sisters were famous before she was: they are best known as the Doublemint Twins and stars of the short-lived (and very wholesome) 1980s sitcom "Double Trouble." In the meantime, Katey Sagal built her career slowly, with regular TV guest appearances and stints as a backup singer for an eclectic slate of artists that included Bob Dylan, Bette Midler, and Gene Simmons. In 1985 she landed what must've seemed like her big break, starring alongside Mary Tyler Moore in the TV legend's new sitcom, "Mary." But even TV legends can have major misses, and "Mary" was canceled after just one season. That turned out to be good news for Sagal, as her next TV gig was that of anti-housewife Peg Bundy.
Katey has continued to act, most recently in a recurring role as domineering attorney Marci Klein on "Eli Stone" and as the motorcycle club mama on "Sons of Anarchy." From time to time she's returned to her music roots as well, with two solo CDs and a recent series of cabaret shows at a small club in Hollywood.
Three months was a good age for Christina Applegate. As an infant, she not only made her first commercial (for Playtex baby bottles) but also landed her first TV gig, on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives" (with her mother, Nancy Priddy). Her movie career kicked off before she was even a tween, with the 1981 horror flick "Jaws of Satan." From there, she worked the TV circuit, playing a young Grace Kelly in a TV biopic and appearing on "Charles in Charge," among other shows. But she didn't make it big until the ripe old age of 15, when she was cast as the ditzy and promiscuous Kelley Bundy on "Married... with Children."
No one spun "Married... with Children" into a successful career better than Christina Applegate. She's had two acclaimed (albeit short-lived) series, "Jesse" and "Samantha Who?," and she's appeared in such films as "The Sweetest Thing" and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." She even conquered the Broadway stage in 2005 as the Tony-nominated lead in a revival of "Sweet Charity" (despite a broken right foot that delayed her debut).
But in 2008 Applegate really saw how much her fans loved her with the outpouring of support that she received after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Now cancer-free and without a regular series, Christina is focusing her attention on her film career. She's got three movies due out in the next year: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," "Going the Distance," and the aptly named Everything Is Going to Be Just Fine," in which she is reportedly playing another TV legend, "Bewitched" star Elizabeth Montgomery.
David Faustino was just 13 years old when he landed the choice role of Bud Bundy on "Married... with Children." But it was far from his first gig. That one he nailed at age three months, playing Lily Tomlin's baby girl on a TV special. From there, he took on guest-starring parts on "Little House on the Prairie," "Trapper John, M.D.," and "Fantasy Island." But TV audiences would forever identify Faustino with Bud, the role they watched him grow up playing, even after the series ended in 1997.
Faustino has had the typical rocky road of many former child stars: a series of unimpressive follow-up parts, an inability to break away from the image of his most famous character, and a misdemeanor marijuana possession arrest in 2007. So he decided to take matters into his own hands, forming his own production company, FNB Entertainment, with "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" star Corin Nemec. Among their first projects was an Internet series called "Star-ving." In the Webisodes, Faustino starred as a caricatured version of himself - a down-and-out former child star who can't get a gig and who makes a meager living running a porn shop bequeathed to him by an obsessed fan. But life is not imitating art; Faustino and Nemec have three films in various stages of production.
Amanda Bearse already had a successful run on "All My Children," and had starred in such kitschy classic films as "Fright Night." But she became a household name when she took the role of Marcy Rhoades (ultimately Marcy D'Arcy) on "Married... with Children." Yet few give credit to the gay actress for coming out on TV 20 days before another GLAAD champion did. Ellen DeGeneres made TV history when her character announced she was a lesbian on the famous "Puppy Episode" of "Ellen" on April 30, 1997. But on April 10 of that year, Amanda took on the dual roles of her regular character, Marcy, and Marcy's lesbian cousin, Mandy, on the episode "Lez Be Friends."
Besides a handful of acting roles, Amanda has stayed behind the camera since "Married... with Children" ended. She honed her craft while helming more than 30 episodes of "MWC" and has since directed a variety of series, including "Dharma and Greg," "MADtv," "The Big Gay Sketch Show," and her former co-star Christina Applegate's sitcom "Jesse."
David Garrison had done some TV acting prior to taking the part of Marcy's husband Steve Rhodes on "Married... with Children," most notably as Jason Bateman's con artist foil in the sitcom "It's Your Move." But Garrison was far more established in live theater. He'd appeared on and off Broadway in "A History of the American Film," "Torch Song Trilogy," and "A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine," for which he received a Tony nomination. And, although he enjoyed working on the irreverent sitcom, he missed the theater and asked to be let out of his contract in 1990 to return to the stage.
Garrison did go back to the theater after "Married... with Children," but he continued to act on TV as well. While he never stuck with another series for long, he made appearances on the shows "Nikki" (co-starring with his former TV wife, Amanda Bearse), "The Practice," and "The West Wing." He's also continued to pursue his passion for musical theater in productions of "Titanic," "Bells Are Ringing," and "Wicked."
When her first husband, Steve Rhodes, left her to become a ranger at Yosemite National Park, Marcy quickly scooped up a younger, better looking but incredibly lazy husband named Jefferson D'Arcy. The actor who played him was no stranger to joining an already established show. Ted McGinley has actually been referred to as the "Patron Saint of Shark Jumping," having joined the casts of several hit shows at their critical turning points, including "The Love Boat," "Happy Days," and "Dynasty." But while he lasted only two years on "The Love Boat" and "Dynasty," and four on "Happy Days," McGinley brought incredibly good luck to "Married... with Children." The series ran another seven seasons with Ted in the cast.
Not long after "Married... with Children" wrapped, Ted briefly appeared on the series "SportsNight" and then joined the guest star circuit on a slew of shows, including "The West Wing" and "The Practice." But in 2003, he found a new sitcom family when he was cast as Faith Ford's husband on "Hope and Faith." The show ran for three seasons, then Ted was back on the street looking for work. His feet took him all the way to the "Dancing with the Stars" stage, where he was eliminated second. But, as always, his unemployment was short lived. Look for him later this year in the feature film "Privileged."
October 01, 2009
AP – Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University professor of anthropology, stands next to the reconstructed …
WASHINGTON – The story of humankind is reaching back another million years as scientists learn more about "Ardi," a hominid who lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. The 110-pound, 4-foot female roamed forests a million years before the famous Lucy, long studied as the earliest skeleton of a human ancestor.
This older skeleton reverses the common wisdom of human evolution, said anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University.
Rather than humans evolving from an ancient chimp-like creature, the new find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some long-ago common ancestor — but each evolved and changed separately along the way.
"This is not that common ancestor, but it's the closest we have ever been able to come," said Tim White, director of the Human Evolution Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.
The lines that evolved into modern humans and living apes probably shared an ancestor 6 million to 7 million years ago, White said in a telephone interview.
But Ardi has many traits that do not appear in modern-day African apes, leading to the conclusion that the apes evolved extensively since we shared that last common ancestor.
A study of Ardi, under way since the first bones were discovered in 1994, indicates the species lived in the woodlands and could climb on all fours along tree branches, but the development of their arms and legs indicates they didn't spend much time in the trees. And they could walk upright, on two legs, when on the ground.
Formally dubbed Ardipithecus ramidus — which means root of the ground ape — the find is detailed in 11 research papers published Thursday by the journal Science.
"This is one of the most important discoveries for the study of human evolution," said David Pilbeam, curator of Paleoanthropology at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
"It is relatively complete in that it preserves head, hands, feet and some critical parts in between. It represents a genus plausibly ancestral to Australopithecus — itself ancestral to our genus Homo," said Pilbeam, who was not part of the research teams.
Scientists assembled the skeleton from 125 pieces.
Lucy, also found in Africa, thrived a million years after Ardi and was of the more human-like genus Australopithecus.
"In Ardipithecus we have an unspecialized form that hasn't evolved very far in the direction of Australopithecus. So when you go from head to toe, you're seeing a mosaic creature that is neither chimpanzee, nor is it human. It is Ardipithecus," said White.
White noted that Charles Darwin, whose research in the 19th century paved the way for the science of evolution, was cautious about the last common ancestor between humans and apes.
"Darwin said we have to be really careful. The only way we're really going to know what this last common ancestor looked like is to go and find it. Well, at 4.4 million years ago we found something pretty close to it," White said. "And, just like Darwin appreciated, evolution of the ape lineages and the human lineage has been going on independently since the time those lines split, since that last common ancestor we shared."
Some details about Ardi in the collection of papers:
• Ardi was found in Ethiopia's Afar Rift, where many fossils of ancient plants and animals have been discovered. Findings near the skeleton indicate that at the time it was a wooded environment. Fossils of 29 species of birds and 20 species of small mammals were found at the site.
• Geologist Giday WoldeGabriel of Los Alamos National Laboratory was able to use volcanic layers above and below the fossil to date it to 4.4 million years ago.
• Ardi's upper canine teeth are more like the stubby ones of modern humans than the long, sharp, pointed ones of male chimpanzees and most other primates. An analysis of the tooth enamel suggests a diverse diet, including fruit and other woodland-based foods such as nuts and leaves.
• Paleoanthropologist Gen Suwa of the University of Tokyo reported that Ardi's face had a projecting muzzle, giving her an ape-like appearance. But it didn't thrust forward quite as much as the lower faces of modern African apes do. Some features of her skull, such as the ridge above the eye socket, are quite different from those of chimpanzees. The details of the bottom of the skull, where nerves and blood vessels enter the brain, indicate that Ardi's brain was positioned in a way similar to modern humans, possibly suggesting that the hominid brain may have been already poised to expand areas involving aspects of visual and spatial perception.
• Ardi's hand and wrist were a mix of primitive traits and a few new ones, but they don't include the hallmark traits of the modern tree-hanging, knuckle-walking chimps and gorillas. She had relatively short palms and fingers which were flexible, allowing her to support her body weight on her palms while moving along tree branches, but she had to be a careful climber because she lacked the anatomical features that allow modern-day African apes to swing, hang and easily move through the trees.
• The pelvis and hip show the were positioned so she could walk upright.
• Her feet were rigid enough for walking but still had a grasping big toe for use in climbing.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics of the University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and others.
On the Net: