Hustons both hated, loved Hollywood TV: A&E's 'Biography' examines the film industry's maverick family

Radio and Television

November 18, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

"The Hustons: Hollywood's Maverick Dynasty" is a loving look at a dysfunctional family that's been responsible for some of Hollywood's finest works.

What's most interesting about the show, a two-hour "Biography" special airing at 8 p.m. Sunday on A&E, is that each Huston spent almost as much time shunning Hollywood as embracing and being embraced by it.

Patriarch Walter had achieved some success on the Broadway stage and was initially hesitant to make motion pictures, even after talkies made it possible for stage actors with well-trained voices to practically write their own ticket. He eventually starred in legendary director D.W. Griffith's first talking picture, "Abraham Lincoln," but continued to look on film as an inferior medium until two things happened: He realized the movies would provide a steadier paycheck, and he began working in films with his son, John.

John Huston, one of filmdom's free spirits right up until his death in 1987, is still considered one of America's greatest directors -- even if he insisted that directing was not an art, but rather a craft (painting, which he also did, was an art).

Right from his first film as a director, the classic "The Maltese Falcon," John Huston demonstrated his mastery of the medium; certainly, few filmmakers have crafted a more impressive debut -- even if the story is nearly indecipherable, the acting and atmosphere are so enthralling that you probably won't notice.

John Huston also developed a knack for bringing out the best in his family. His 1948 film, "The Treasure of Sierra Madre," earned father Walter a Best Supporting Actor Oscar; 37 years later, his "Prizzi's Honor" would fetch daughter Anjelica a Supporting Actress Oscar.

Anjelica, too, spent a lot of time avoiding Hollywood. Her film debut in 1969's "A Walk With Love and Death" (also directed by John) was so disastrous that more than 10 years passed before she felt comfortable going in front of a camera again.

Anjelica, unfortunately, is not interviewed in Sunday's documentary, but her three siblings are. And the picture they paint of the Hustons, particularly John, lends credence to the idea that the most talented people are not always the easiest to get along with.

WBAL-AM gobbles awards

WBAL-AM (1090) took home the lion's share of honors from Baltimore's second annual Achievement In Radio (AIR) awards, earning seven citations -- better than twice the number earned by runner-up WQSR-FM (105.7), which finished with three.

Included among WBAL's total was a Best Talk Show Host nod to Ron Smith, Best Continued Programming Feature to Gerry Sandusky and Best News Series to John Patti.

WBAL earned twin accolades for Best Long and Short Form interviews, the latter going to Patti, the former to Sue Kopen and Allan Prell.

The station was also cited for Best Spot News Coverage and Community Service On-Air Campaign.

The awards, presented by the March of Dimes and Baltimore Metro Area radio stations, recognized the best local DJs in each of five daily time periods.

Those winners were JoJo Girard and Kenny Campbell, WWMX-FM (106.5), mornings; Teri Norman, WPOC-FM (93.1), midday; Bob Worthington, WQSR, afternoon drive; Jason Kidd, WXYV-FM (102.7), evenings; and Stephanie Kiluk, WQSR, overnights.

Skip Herman of WOCT-FM (104.3) was named Best Sports Reporter, while WERQ's Bruce Main walked off with Best Traffic Reporter honors and Jamie "Buck Nekkid" Smidheiser got the nod for Best Weekend Show.

Among the other winners announced during an awards luncheon at the Belvedere Nov. 9 were Bryan Nehman, of WNAV-AM (1430), Best Newscaster; Linda Foy, WIYY-FM (97.9), Best Locally Produced Public Affairs Long-Form; WJFK-AM (1300), Best Local Sports Programming; and Larry Young, of WOLB-AM (1010), Best New Talent.

Besides WBAL and WQSR, multiple winners included WIYY, WXYV and WERQ, with two awards each.

Single awards were presented to WOCT, WNAV, WXCY-FM (103.7), WOCT, WPOC, WOLB, WJFK, WWMX, WWIN-FM (95.9) and WCBM-AM (680).

Schmoke on Steiner

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is the scheduled guest from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday on "The Marc Steiner Show" on WJHU-FM (88.1).

Croce and son

Comcast customers can watch an intriguing father-and-son reunion of sorts Sunday, as a taped concert performance by A.J. Croce at 10 p.m. will be followed by a behind-the-music special on his father, the late Jim Croce, at 11. The shows can be seen on cable channels 69 in Baltimore County, 54 in Howard County and 66 in Harford County.

Pub Date: 11/18/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.