Sunday, July 31, 2005

Cupid on the Internet

If you’re an incurable romantic like me, you must see “Must Love Dogs.” Co-starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, this engaging romantic comedy highlights the obstacles that must be overcome to find a soul mate these days as well as the key role the Internet plays in today’s dating world.

Because Sarah (Lane) has been moping too much after her divorce, her older sister puts her profile on an Internet site called Included in Sarah’s profile is this requirement for anyone responding to her ad: “must love dogs.” Ironically, Sarah doesn’t even have a dog, so when she meets her dates, she’s forced to borrow her brother’s friendly Newfoundland.

Speaking of those dates, what a riot some of them are -- one man wants to arm wrestle continuously, another weeps uncontrollably, and the worst one greets Sarah with, “I thought you’d be younger.” All this happens after she’s already been humiliated by answering her widowed father’s ad – a story, she fears, that will be “told forever at family holiday dinners.”

One of the men answering the Internet ad is Jake (Cusack). Or rather, his best friend responds for him and arranges a meeting between the two. However, Jake might be a bit too intense for Sarah. Also recently divorced, he’s looking for an epic romance like “Dr. Zhivago,” and she’s not ready for that kind of relationship. But we can tell from the chemistry between these two that they belong together.

Adapted from Claire Cook’s popular novel of the same name, “Must Love Dogs” is filled with amusing situations, witty dialogue, likable characters and tender moments. I fell in love with this film.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ask the Experts

From the thousands of subscribers to Book Promotion Newsletter, Francine Silverman and Maureen McMahon have assembled a group of experts who have volunteered to help authors with books to promote. These experts include authors, editors, book reviewers, book coaches, ghostwriters, publicists and publishers. Happily, this is a free service!

Hosted by Maureen, the “Ask the Experts” link is on the left side of her Moonspinners Writer’s Page, Once at the Expert Side, visitors may ask a book marketing question of any of the experts. Responses will be emailed back to the inquirer within 3-5 working days.

Thanks for this impressive new service, Francine and Maureen!

Francine is the author of “Book Marketing from A –Z,” and Maureen has written several romantic suspense novels including “Shadows in the Mists.”

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Clones Fight Back

Wealthy individuals purchase clones as an insurance policy against disease or injury in "The Island," a sci-fi thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Although it’s a compelling story concerning two clones who discover they’re being tricked about being picked to go to an island paradise, the film’s high-voltage special effects and chase sequences almost gave me a migraine. I had to close my eyes during most of the action-packed scenes because of jerky camera movements similar to "The Bourne Supremacy."

Nevertheless, this provocative movie features outstanding performances, stunning futuristic sets and eye-popping cinematography. It’s also a reminder about what it means to be human and how far some people will go to make money out of scientific advances. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Drive-In Movie Lament

After reading in our local paper this week that the Mesa Drive-In Movie Theater, the last of its kind here in Pueblo, Colorado, may be closing soon, I felt twinges of nostalgia. Here’s what I wrote in “Confessions of a Movie Addict,” my life-at-the-movies memoir:

Love, marriage and children became the most important thing in my life during the fifties. Lucky for me my husband and children loved movies almost as much as I did. Captivated by Gene Kelly’s dynamic work in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Larry and I named our son John “Kelly” in his honor. Because of our admiration for Susan Hayward’s performance in “My Foolish Heart,” we christened our daughter “Susan” Claire. Convinced the drive-in theater represented one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century, we prepared for an outdoor movie adventure at least once each week by packing up nursing bottles, diapers and enough snacks to last through a double feature at the Mesa or Lake Drive-In.

No doubt about it, the Mesa Drive-In would be missed.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka

Johnny Depp delivers a weird performance as Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Weird, oh yes, but nothing short of brilliant. Watching him, I was reminded of "The Wizard of Oz," another enduring masterpiece. Depp's Willy Wonka is both the Good Witch of the North and the Wicked Witch of the West, with a bit of Frank Morgan’s Wizard thrown in for good measure. He smiles beguilingly, frowns at certain questions, gets jiggy with the Munchkin-like Oompa-Loompas, and tells one of the children he dislikes to “stop mumbling” -- even though the boy speaks quite clearly. With his powdered face and page-boy hairdo, he looks like a bizarre combination of Edward Scissorhands and Mamie Eisenhower. Depp’s perfect comic timing and nuanced vocal inflections also add to his unique interpretation of this fantastic character – and he uses both superbly when delivering such silly lines as, “Little girl, don’t touch that squirrel’s nuts.”

Believe me, folks, this performance is one not to be missed.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Rave Review for Susan Sarandon Book

The July 11th Book Review Newsletter from has awarded Five Stars (its highest rating) to my latest book, "Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick." Here is an excerpt from the Newsletter:

Film Critic, Betty Jo Tucker, has done a fabulous job outlining Susan Sarandon's career and life behind the scenes. In this uniquely different biography of sorts, we hear from colleagues, friends, family and other movie critics about Sarandon and her works. Tucker has done her research and includes Susan Sarandon's filmography from 1970 to 2003, websites of interest, famed movie reviews, and even a bibliography of information on Sarandon. Tucker's work is interactive as well as it provides a quiz at the beginning to test your knowledge before you delve into this expertly written bio. *****

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Songbird Silenced

Frances Langford, a great American songstress, died yesterday at age 91. She will be remembered for many things, including her appearances with the Bob Hope USO shows and her introduction of songs like “You Are My Lucky Star” and “Hooray for Hollywood” in movies during the early part of her career. But my favorite Langford memory involves her very funny work with Don Ameche in “The Bickersons,” a radio show about a battling married couple. In fact, “The Bickersons” were so popular that I borrowed from them during my campaign for a local school board. My radio spots featured a similar bickering couple discussing the need for female representation on an all-male board. And guess what? I won.

Langford’s beautiful voice was never more appreciated than when she sang “I’m in the Mood for Love” to soldiers while entertaining them during World War II. Because of her popularity with these GIs, Time Magazine named her The Sweetheart of WW II.

In the immortal words of Bob Hope, “Thanks for the memories, Frances.”

Saturday, July 09, 2005

G8 Summit & "The Girl"

One or two days before the current G8 summit got underway in Gleneagle, Scotland, I saw a long segment of clips from HBO’s original movie, “The Girl in the Café,” shown on a CNN newscast. That’s unusual, I thought. Then the announcer explained what had just been seen came from a CNN’s “sister channel” presentation (which my husband and I enjoyed the previous evening).

Not a bad idea at all. “The Girl in the Café,” written by Richard Curtis, is one of the best things I’ve seen on television in a long time. It’s romantic, poignant, amusing and politically relevant. The plot involves an unusually shy government official who’s preparing for the G8 meeting (this one scheduled in Iceland). On impulse, he decides to invite a woman he’s just met to attend with him. Little does he know that his unassuming guest has an important agenda of her own.

Bill Nighy, so brash as the fading rock star in “Love Actually,” changes gears and delivers a brilliant, understated performance as the official in question, and Kelly Macdonald (Peter Pan in “Finding Neverland”) is full of surprises as the enigmatic “girl” who risks everything “just in case she can make a difference.”

If you missed this one, check your TV schedule to find out when it’s playing again. Then sit back and be enlightened as well as entertained.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Ballroom Dance Craze

"Dancing makes you feel nice; it energizes you,” says one of the fifth grade boys filmed in “Mad Hot Ballroom,” a 2005 documentary of surprising depth and entertainment value. Showcasing the New York Public School’s dance competition for youngsters, this movie proves how involved students can become in an activity if motivated by caring and dedicated teachers. It also reveals the positive behavior changes resulting from participating in such a worthwhile project.

Because dance has always been important to me, I’m encouraged by the renewed interest in ballroom dancing -- and not just in America. “Strictly Ballroom,” Baz Luhrmann’s Australian hit, may have started this resurgence. In Japan, director Mayasuki Suo’s delightful movie “Shall We Dansu?” caused a significant increase in the number of Japanese citizens taking ballroom dance lessons. The American remake, “Shall We Dance” (starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon), produced similar results here in the U.S. And what’s the most popular TV offering this summer? “Dancing with the Stars,” a show focusing on ballroom dance competition.

I think the enormous appeal of ballroom dancing comes from its emphasis on social cooperation, discipline (“Even when I’m not dancing, I’m going over the steps in my head,” declares one student), and elegance. Adding competition into the mix makes it a surefire recipe for success as an educational tool. And, I almost forgot, it’s such fun!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Romantic Memoir Update

The Romance Club ( will publish IT HAD TO BE US, a romantic memoir by Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence, as an e-book in August 2005.

"We're pleased to offer readers Harry and Elizabeth's beautiful love story, about how they found each other again after getting divorced and being estranged for almost twenty years," Laura Mills-Alcott, founder of The Romance Club, said.

Both the authors and The Romance Club will be donating their proceeds from the sale of the $3.99 e-book through its website to children's literacy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sorry, Mr. Spielberg

Throw in all the horrifying aliens, terrified crowds, blood-drenched countrysides, crumbling buildings, amazing set pieces and eye-popping special effects you want -- but if the behavior of human characters comes across as illogical and unreal, a sci-fi film doesn’t work for me. Such is the case with "War of the Worlds," Steven Spielberg’s expensive adaptation of H G. Wells’ classic novel. Read my full review (and others by critics who disagree with me) at