Sunday, October 17, 2021

Keeping up with Brandon Cruz: From child star to punk rocker

"Brandon Cruz is not a fan of Hollywood, and it's not because after spending three years costarring on The Courtship of Eddie's Father he felt abandoned by the system, tossed aside and lost himself in drugs and alcohol."

- Ed Gross, Closer Weekly, 2019

Brandon Cruz is a former child star who has managed to survive life as an adult.  Despite his 25-year struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, he has succeeded in beating the odds.  He hasn't suffered a  hellish descent into a life of crime and suicide attempts.  At one time, he was active with the group A Minor Consideration, an organization started by Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show in order to help child actors maintain their careers.  In 2011, Brandon told American Profile magazine that surfing and punk rock "probably saved my life." 

The child actor was just five years of age when he originally auditioned for the role of Eddie Corbitt on the TV series The Courtship of Eddie's Father.  He was seven years old when the show debuted in September of 1969.  The sitcom ran on the ABC network for three seasons, until its final episode on March 1 1972.  It was based on the 1963 romantic comedy starring Glenn Ford as Tom Corbitt, a widowed father, and Ron Howard (then billed as "Ronny Howard) as his son.  Both the film and the television show were based on a 1961 novel of the same name by Mark Toby.

Brandon Edwin Cruz was born May 28, 1962 in Bakersfield, California.  When Brandon was two months old, his family moved to Ventura County, California.  The Courtship of Eddie's Father was Brandon's breakthrough role.  As the mischievous Eddie Corbitt, he was always scheming to find the right match for his widowed father..  Bill Bixby, who had starred in My Favorite Martian, played the role of Brandon's TV dad, Tom Corbitt..  The Corbitt housekeeper, Mrs. Livingston, was portrayed by Miyoshi Umeki, a Japanese-American singer and actress

Brandon had great respect for Bill Bixby, who died in 1993.  In his 2011 interview with American Profile, he stated that "Bill Bixby was like my second father."  In a 2019 interview with Closer Weekly, he said that Bixby deserved more recognition in Hollywood."  He revealed that he was attempting to raise funds to get the actor a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  He's still at it.  On May 21, 2021, Brandon wrote the following update on the website he organized to raise funds for Bixby's star: "Five years and barely halfway there.  I'll never stop, ever.  Bill was a patient man, and so am I . . . "

Below is a 1969 publicity photo for The Courtship of Eddie's Father.  From left, Bill Bixby, Brandon Cruz and Miyoshi Umeki.


Brandon Cruz continued to act for several years after The Courtship of Eddie's Father.  He portrayed Joey Turner in the 1976 film The Bad News Bears and Sherman in the 1978 film The One and Only, starring Henry Winkler.  He also made a number of guest appearances in episodes of such television series as Gunsmoke (1972), Kung Fu (1972), Medical Center (1973), Love American Style (1973), Police Story (1974), Doc Elliot (1974) and The Oregon Trail (1978).  

Brandon starred as David Lev, a ten-year-old Israeli boy in the 1973 TV movie The Going Up of David Lev.  He also played the role of Clay Rankin in the 1976 television movie Jeremiah of Jacob's Neck.  In 1978, Brandon was reunited with his Courtship of Eddie's Father co-star Bill Bixby in an episode of Bixby's new series, The Incredible Hulk.  In the episode, entitled "747" (Season 1, Episode 7, Air Date: April 7, 1978), Brandon's character, Kevin, assists Hulk in rescuing a pilotless 747 jetliner.

In the late 1970s, Brandon began to focus on punk rock music.  By the early 1980s, he had given up acting,  He wore a blue mohawk haircut and had become the lead singer for the punk rock band Dr. Know.  The band was part of the early hardcore punk movement called "Nardcor" in Ventura County.  The movement began at Silver Strand Beach, also known as Hollywood by the Sea.  

Brandon Cruz performed with the group Flipper in 1995.  In 2001, Brandon became lead singer for the Dead Kennedys.  After disagreements and friction, he was replaced in the band by Jeff Penalty in 2003.

Brandon singing

In an interview with Ginger Coyote for Pink Globe (circa 2008), Brandon stated"  "I had been in a band before Dr. Know with a bunch of older surfers. but we did a lot of cover songs . . . I hadn't acted since Bad News Bears in '75.  I was too busy surfing and skating, and seeing bands play."  When asked if Hollywood or the Industry criticized him for being in a band, he replied, "No one knew I was in a band for a while.  I was trying to stay away from being Eddie.  I still had an agent and I got a few interviews, but I would show up high on coke and wearing a leather jacket with blue hair, so word got around that I was pretty much over it."

Brandon married Elizabeth "Liz" Finkelstein, a nurse, on June 26,, 1994.  They have two children, a son named Lincoln Bixby Cruz (born 1995 and named after Bill Bixby) and a daughter named Ruby Jean Cruz (born April, 2000).

Brandon and Liz

END NOTES

* In 1997, Brandon Cruz released a solo CD called Eddie is a Punk.  The album includes a punk version of "Best Friend," the theme song for The Courtship of Eddie's Father, with Harry Nilsson, who composed the song, playing piano.  In the introduction to The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Brandon and Bill are seen frolicking on the beach to strains of "Best Friend."

* Brandon has worked on the sound board as an assistant editor on the animated TV series South Park.  He has also worked behind the scenes and intermittently on various productions such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's straight-to-video movies and the boxing reality show The Ultimate Fighter.

* Bill Bixby passed away on November 21, 1993.  He died in Los Angeles of complications from prostate cancer.  He was 59 years old at the time of his passing.  

* Miyoshi Umeki died of cancer on August 28, 2007.  She was 78 years old at the time of her passing.  During her career, Umbeki was nominated for a Tony Award and a Golden Globe.  In 1958, she became the first Asian woman to win an Academy Award for acting.  She received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film Sayonara.

* In 1991, Brandon Cruz received the Child Star Life Time Achievement" Award from by the Young Artist Foundation for his role on The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

* According to Your News Cafe, Brandon has become a rehab specialist.  After conquering his own demons, he has helped others stay clean and sober.  His clientele is confidential and includes celebrities.

Brandon Cruz

SOURCES: Closer Weekly, "'Courtship of Eddie's Father' Star Branden Cruz Fights to Keep Bill Bixby's Memory Alive," by Ed Gross, June 26, 2019; NNDB profile of Brandon Cruz;  Punk Globe website interview, by Ginger Coyote, circa 2008; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)


- Joanne

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Y&R Report (October 16, 2021): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet.  Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance

Hi fans,

I hope that you've enjoyed watching the wedding in Tuscany.  I've certainly had fun watching it..  Although here were some disruptions and tense moments, Billy Boy and Jesse Gaines failed to stop the ceremony.  Ashland and Victoria are legally married, whether Billy Abbott likes it or not, and he doesn't like it.  Lily noticed the painful look on Billy's face while his former wife and Locke recited their vows.  Billy is still pining away for Victoria, no matter how much he denies it.  Jealousy and his lingering feelings for Victoria were his real motivations for trying to stop the wedding.  His argument that he had to protect Victoria and the children from Ashland was just an excuse.  Meanwhile, Jesse's motives were much different than Billy's.  Once he received money, Jesse's only concern was getting revenge on Ashland.  His fondest desire was to humiliate Ashland for any real or perceived wrongs against him.

It was certainly a treat for longtime viewers of the show to see concert pianist Leslie Brooks (Janice Lynde) at the nuptials.  I also have to say that the wedding dress that Sally Spectra designed was stunning.  Sally's methods are very dubious, but she certainly deserves an "A" for effort. and an "A" for determination.  Unfortunately, she also deserves an "F" for conduct.  Lauren Fenmore has every right to be furious with her former employee.  Sally' is certainly going to have so do some explaining when when she gets home to Genoa City.

Sally many also find herself dealing with romantic complications.  She has set her sights on Adam Newman.  At the moment, Adam seems rather receptive to her.  In the previews, they shared a kiss.  Remember, though, that the two are in Italy, far away from the two other women in Adam's life.  Sharon and Chelsea are still very much in the picture.  Adam's connection to them is still very powerful.  Sally is one determined lady.  She doesn't give up easily and she will continue in her pursuit of Victor Newman's younger son.  Nevertheless, there may be another romantic entanglement for the fiery redhead in the form of Noah Newman.

Rory Gibson, has taken over the role of Noah from Robert Adamson.  By the way, did you notice that there was no announcement saying, "The role of Noah Newman is now being played by . . . Rory Gibson?"  

It's not in the least surprising that Noah has been talking about returning to Genoa City.  Y&R didn't cast someone to play Noah for a couple of episodes at his Aunt Victoria's wedding.  Not only is Noah going to come home to GC, but he'll likely join Newman Media.  That means that he'll be working side by side with Sally Spectra.  There may be a  romance is the offing for those two, even though Noah has only heard people bad-mouth Sally.  The Newmans and Sharon strongly dislike Sally, so a coupling between Noah and Sally would create a great deal of friction and a lot of conflict.  

Another possibility is that Tessa will turn to Noah if her relationship with Mariah goes on the rocks.  They were in a lot of scenes together and Tessa has been confiding in him.

It also appears that Nick and Phyllis's relationship is on the rocks.  There's a lot of tension between them and they don't seem happy at all.  Nick is hard-headed and Phyllis is bold and sassy.  They are not on the same page right now.  Phyllis is far more comfortable with Jack.  She can confide in him in a way that she can't with Nick.

Nick has always had poor judgement when it comes to relationships.  He should have shown up at the ceremony with Phyllis on his arm.  As for Phyllis, she didn't do herself any favours by denigrating Nick's family.  Nick often criticizes his father and Adam, but he doesn't like to hear such criticism about them from Phyllis.

Phyllis did get Nick to admit that he had to let Victoria lead her own life.  To his credit he admitted that he was wrong about that.  Still, I wonder if deep down, Nick really wants to be the white knight to rescue his sister.  At least he showed some disciple by listening to Adam and not trying to stop the wedding.

Lily and Billy were faced with a moral dilemma.  Jesse sent Billy a video with all the evidence he needs to nail Ashland Locke.  He and Lilly could  published the information and made a big splash before someone else got hold of it.  Instead, Billy took the high road and apparently deleted it   But did he really delete it?  Could he not retrieve the video if decides to do so?  Could he not have made another copy in case he changes his mind?  If that's the case, then Ashland's not out of the woods yet.

According to online spoilers, Abby is about to receive some devastating news from Christine "The Cricketmeister" Williams.  It's obviously news about Chance.  He's either missing in action, his mission has been extended or he has been injured or killed.  Take your pick, but please give us some definite information about Chance.  Is he ever coming back?  

Here are some final comments on the soap wedding of the year.  I wonder where Victoria and Ashland go from here.  Is he going to die and leave Victoria a widow?  Richard Burgi, who plays Ashland, is very popular.  Many fans will be disappointed if they kill him off.  Since we're talking about a soap here, the newlyweds are bound to face adversity because there has to be conflict.


VIEWER FORUM

If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 
My email address:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca

I received some comments from viewers who wondered what had happened to Johnny and Katie.  They were supposed to have come to Tuscany with Lily.  Well, on Friday's show on Global, it was mentioned that the children were there and that they were playing with Harrison.  Harrison was part of the ceremony as the ring bearer.  However, Johnny and Katie did not witness their mother's wedding.  Your guess is as good as mine as to the reason for this.  Maybe they can't have too many children on the set because of COVID regulations.  

Here are some other email comments I received about the wedding.

From Carly in Barrhaven, Ontario:

Weighing in on the big wedding episode:  I loved Nikki's elegance.  She looked beautiful.  Phyllis looked dishevelled.  I did not care for her dress, nor did I like her hairdo.  Sally and Summer looked nice.  I did not like Elena's dress.  In fact, I hate the way she dresses and cannot stand her hairstyle.  

I sure hope that Phyllis and Jack don't get together again and I don't like the way they have made Jack's character so pathetic.  I do hope Sally and Adam hook up.  And I love my Victor too.

Well Carly I have to agree with you about the dresses and hairstyle.  However, I have to disagree with you about Jack and Phyllis.  I think they are more suited to each other than Phyllis and Nick.  


From Fifi in Collingwood, Ontario

I have been loving all the Y&R fashions in the past while.  Everyone had a beautiful outfit and I particularly liked Phyllis's, Sally's and Summer's.  In my opinion, Melody Thomas Scott always steals the show with her grace and elegance.  Billy looked like the maitre d' at the palazzo with his tuxedo, but Ashland's grey look matched his hair and he looked great.  Eric Braeden seems to be in fine form again at 80.  For a while, he was sitting down in a lot of scenes but seemed pretty spry in his scenes at the wedding.  He was very Victor when he walked in on Adam and Nick with Ashland's enemy, Jesse.  It looks like Sally and Adam are hooking up, which will cause great distress for Sharon.  Noah and Tessa are going to get together as well as Phyllis and Jack.  Since we all seem to like Ashhand, I hope he stays on the show.

I also think Melody Thomas Scott looked elegant.  I didn't like Billy's tuxedo either.  With that red trim, he certainly did look like a maitre d'.  I would like to see Ashland (Richard Burgi) remain on the show, but he's going to need a miracle cure (which should be no problem on a soap).  Yes, Eric Braeden did look stronger and healthier.  His speech at the wedding was really good.


Y&R REPORT READERS' POLL

Courtney Hope (Sally Spectra)

Mark Grossman (Adam Newman)

Sally Spectra is in pursuit of Adam Newman and she is making no bones about it.  As Y&R viewers know, Sally is impulsive and she always seems to get herself in trouble.  She is definitely not the most ethical person,  Adam, on the other hand, is trying to become a new man.  He is making an effort to repair his relationship with his family.  Fans, do you thing a relationship with Sally turn him back into the old Adam or will they find happiness together?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do you think Adam and Sally would make a good couple?
 
pollcode.com free polls


That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, October 30, 2021.  


Take care,

Joanne

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Y&R Report (October 2, 2021): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

 Hi fans,

It promises to be an exciting autumn in Genoa City.  I can't wait to watch the two weddings in Italy - Kyle and Summer's in Milan and Victoria and Ashland's in Tuscany.  It should be so much fun.

So, Ashland Locke still hasn't come clean.  He has only divulged some of the story.  He has revealed that his real name is Bobby DeFranco.and that he has assumed the identity of  his friend, Ashland Locke.  The original Ashland Locke died in a car crash 40 years ago.  After hearing that part of the story, Victoria felt sympathetic toward Ashland because he had tried to escape from the clutches of an abusive father.  The Princess became angry with her brother Nick for forcing Ashton to recall painful memories from his past.

By his own admission, Ashland Locke has not revealed everything yet.  When  Victoria complained that he was behaving like Billy and lying to her, he finally confessed that he hadn't told her the entire story.  She agreed to leave early for Italy with him and he promised to tell her more.  What Ashland has already revealed to Victoria and Nick puts him in a favourable, but somewhat opportunistic, light.  It does not paint him as a hardened criminal or an evil man.  In fact, he comes across as someone who suffered greatly and was a victim of circumstances.  If that's the case, though, why was Ashland willing to pay three million dollars to cover up his past?  Why was he so hesitant about telling the whole truth?  Why didn't he at least tell Victoria sooner?  Why did he wait until he was boxed into a corner?

There are even more questions.  How did Ashland obtain the money to purchase the television stations that launched his business career?  What happened to Camilla Rhodes, the older woman who was his mentor?  Did Ashland have something to do with her death.  Billy Abbott is already trying to find information about Camilla's will.  He would love to pin a murder on Ashland. Locke.  It's doubtful, however, that Ashland will turn out to be a murderer.  Richard Burgi, who plays Ashland, is very popular among female viewers.  So, I don't think the writers want him to be a real villain.  It's possible that before Burgi turned out to be a fan favourite, they planned to make Ashland the Locke-ness Monster.  Now he's a puppy dog.  He doesn't seem very scary.  

Fashion your seatbelts as the Ashland Locke saga unravels this fall.  There's much more to come.  We haven't heard the whole story yet - not by any means.  In the previews for this coming week, Victoria is shown questioning Ashland about "criminal activities."  Perhaps Bobby/Ashland's abusive father was involved in criminal activities.  

Despite all the drama surrounding Ashland's past, it looks as if the nuptials in Tuscany will go ahead as planned.  Who knows, though, if Victoria and Ashland will actually complete their vows.  Since this is a soap, expect some disruptions.  No matter what happens, that wedding is going to be a fascinating event.  

Janice Lynde, who portrayed concert pianist Leslie Brooks on Y&R back in the 1970s, is scheduled to make some appearances on the show.  Nikki mentioned that Leslie will play the piano at Victoria's wedding.  By the way, I think that the bride will end up wearing the dress that Sally Spectra designed.  I have no idea how Sally will manage to pull that off, but she'll find a way.  Somehow Victoria will wear an exquisite dress that viewers haven't seen yet.

Speaking of Victoria, how do you like that portrait of her in her office?  I think it's really beautiful.  I never thought that Victor's portrait would ever be removed.  It's supposedly hanging in the boardroom of Newman Enterprises.  Of course, daddy Victor has outdone himself again by gifting his princess with the Newman villa in Tuscany.  

Y&R has done an exceptionally poor job in portraying baby Dominic.  I realize that they probably couldn't show a real baby due to COVID regulations.  Still, why can't they fill out that blanket some more.  It really looks fake, as if there's almost nothing inside, never mind an infant.


VIEWER FORUM

If you have any comments on Y&R, please email  them to me with Viewer Forum in the subject line.  I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them.  You do not have to use your real name.  \

My email address is Jmadden16@yahoo.ca

\I have received an email from longtime Y&R fan, CC in Etobicoke, Ontario.  Here are CC's comments:

Good to read your thoughts today, Joanne.  As far as I am concerned, the whole Chance thing is a joke.  Do producers and writers think fans are that gullible?  The MIA topic is being portrayed insensitively, not to mention the creation of a child being handled in such a cavalier manner.  Did anyone involved give this any deep thought?

I think the person blackmailing Ashland could be his brother.

Victoria has her own agenda for being involved with Ashland.  It is as sinister as Ashland's for being involved with her . . . she thinks she will scoop the company from him, make Billy jealous, and open the door for her and Billy to be media tycoons together, even taking Chancecom away from Lily.

With Summer gone, Nick and Phyllis have lost their main glue.  Phyllis and Jack will sizzle together.

Sharon and Adam are two of a kind.

Connor can already make his father, mother and grandmother squirm.

Enjoy these beautiful autumn days.

CC

Thanks for your comments, CC.  I don't like the Chance storyline either.  They didn't expect to fire Donny Boaz, the actor who played Chance so suddenly, right in the middle of a major storyline in which he was about to marry Abby.  We'll probably never know what really happened, but the powers that be must have been really upset with Donny to let him go at such a crucial time.  Yes, they were left in a bind, but the storyline could have been handled much better.  I really hope they reveal Chance's fate soon.  He's been gone far too long.

I question Victoria and Ashland' motives, but I'm not quite as cynical about the pair as you are.  

I also think that Phyllis and Jack "will sizzle together" again.  Although Jack doesn't want to interfere with Phyllis and Nick's relationship, that doesn't me he won't step in if their relationship falls apart on its own.  It seems to me that Jack and Phyllis are more compatible than Nick and Phyllis.  Nick and Phyllis are obviously physically attracted to each other, but the two don't have much in common outside of that.  

Yes, Sharon and Adam are indeed two of a kind.  Sharon just light up when Adam enters the room.  That's probably because Mark Gross, who plays Adam, is her real life boyfriend.  It also works for the storyline.  Poor Rey!  Sharon will never look at him that way.  Adam and Sharon will never stay away from each other.

Young Connor is no fool.  He can see right through the adults in his life.  He knows there's something between his father and Sharon.  He knows Sharon is the real reason Adam and his mother, Chelsea, broke up.

Rey and Nick are losers are losers at love.  That's probably the reason why they get along so well, even though Nick is the ex-husband of Rey's wife.


I also received an email from Fifi in Collingwood, Ontario, another longtime Y&R viewer.  Fifi wrote the following:

I must say that I could also see Ashland Locke with Phyllis.  They would make a good match.  Tired of seeing that ridiculous mini baby of Abby's who's suffocating with a blanket over its head.  They could do way better than that.  

I've never thought about Phyllis with Ashland.  Now that you mention it, I can picture them together.  They might make a good match.  

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Fifi, about the phony blanket baby.


Here are some comments from Y&R fan, Carly in Barrhaven, Ontario:

As for Ashland and Phyllis, they would make a great match.  Hopefully she does not go back to Jack.  His storyline is pathetic and the Abby/Devon/Mariah storyline is so boring that I am fast forwarding a lot.  I'm wondering if Abby and Devon will hook up.

Well Carly, I think this "poor Jack" storyline has gone on far too long.  Jack should not have to be pitied.  I'd like to see him with Phyllis again.  

There are signs that Mariah and Devon may hook up.  If Chance dies or is declared missing, 


I spoke to longtime Y&R viewer, Hellen in Scarborough.  Helen wants to know how Stitch forced Mariah into that room.  Did he hit her over the head and knock her out?  She never complained of a head sore.  So, how did he get her there.  I guess we're not supposed to ask.

That's all for now.  Please remember that the next edition of Y$R Report will appear in this space on October 16, 2021.  October 11th is Thanksgiving Day in Canada,  I would like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers.



Take care,

Joanne