Acting teacher and director Milton Katselas dies at age 75

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Acting teacher and director Milton Katselas died Friday at age 75, after suffering from heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He began the Beverly Hills Playhouse in 1978 and taught acting classes there to noted actors including George Clooney and Gene Hackman. Katselas is survived by a sister and two brothers.

Katselas directed an off-Broadway production of Edward Albee‘s The Zoo Story, and received a Tony Award nomination for his 1969 direction of Butterflies are Free. Actress Blythe Danner won a Tony Award for her role in Butterflies are Free under Katselas’ direction. He moved to California to direct the film version of that play, and went on to direct films and television movies. Actress Eileen Heckart received an Academy Award for her role in the film version of Butterflies are Free.

Katselas directed the San Francisco and Los Angeles productions of the play P.S. Your Cat Is Dead! by playwright James Kirkwood, Jr. In his author’s notes in the publication of the script, Kirkwood acknowledged Katselas, and wrote that the plays were “directed with incredible energy and enthusiasm by Milton Katselas, to whom I am extremely indebted”.

Katselas directed the television movie Strangers: Story of a Mother and Daughter, and actress Bette Davis received an Emmy Award for her role in the movie. Katselas taught many famous actors including Michelle Pfeiffer, Richard Gere, Robert Duvall, Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn, Christopher Walken, Burt Reynolds, George C. Scott, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Alec Baldwin, and Patrick Swayze. Katselas was credited with being able to nurture actors with raw talent so that they could develop strong Hollywood careers. He utilized innovative techniques in his courses – one course called “Terrorist Theatre” had a simple premise: successfully get an acting role within six weeks or leave the course.

He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to parents who had immigrated from Greece, and graduated from Carnegie Mellon. He studied acting with Lee Strasberg in New York at the Actors Studio, and received advice from directors Joshua Logan and Elia Kazan.

Katselas was a prominent Scientologist, and a July 2007 profile on Katselas in The New York Times Magazine observed that some of his students stopped taking courses at the Beverly Hills Playhouse because they felt they had been pressured to join the Church of Scientology. According to the article, Katselas credited Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard “for much of his success in life”, and one of his students works at Scientology’s Celebrity Centre. The article commented that some in Los Angeles view the Beverly Hills Playhouse as “a recruitment center for Scientology”.

Katselas met L. Ron Hubbard after moving to California, and began studying Scientology in 1965. The New York Times Magazine reported that he had reached the level of “Operating Thetan, Level 5, or O.T. V.” in 2007. According to The New York Times Magazine when Scientologists proceed up the “The Bridge to Total Freedom” they learn the story of Xenu, and that: “75 million years ago the evil alien Xenu solved galactic overpopulation by dumping 13.5 trillion beings in volcanoes on Earth, where they were vaporized, scattering their souls.” A Church of Scientology publication, Source, lists Katselas as reaching O.T. V. in 1989.

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He is brilliant, and knows me so well as a person and an actress that he gets the most out of me.

Though some actors felt pressured to join the Church of Scientology after taking courses at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, at least one individual felt Katselas was not active enough with the organization. Actress Jenna Elfman left the Beverly Hills Playhouse because she felt Katselas was not committed enough to Scientology. Katselas had previously directed Elfman in half of Visions and Lovers: Variations on a Theme, two one-act plays about relationships that he had written himself. In 1999 Katselas had planned to adapt the script of Visions and Lovers to a film version, and Elfman was set to reprise her role from the play. In an article in Variety about the project, Elfman commented on her experience working with Katselas: “He is brilliant, and knows me so well as a person and an actress that he gets the most out of me.”

Other prominent Scientologist actors who have studied under Katselas include Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee, and Leah Remini. According to Rolling Stone, Katselas also recruited actress Kelly Preston to Scientology. Actress Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), told Scientology publication Celebrity that Katselas motivated her to get more active in Scientology, and she stated she took the organization’s “Purification Rundown” and her life “took off completely”.

Life is an endless unspooling of art, of acting, of painting, of architecture. And where did I learn that? From Milton.

Anne Archer was introduced to Scientology while studying at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, as was former Scientologist and now outspoken critic actor Jason Beghe. Beghe told Roger Friedman of FOX News in April 2008 that “He [Katselas] gets kickbacks”, and that he was brought to a Scientology center by fellow Beverly Hills Playhouse classmate Bodhi Elfman, Jenna Elfman’s husband. In a 1998 article for Buzz Magazine, Randye Hoder wrote “In his class, Katselas is careful not to label anything as a tenet of Scientology, but there is no question that the church’s influence seeps into the playhouse.”

Anne Archer’s husband and fellow Scientologist, producer Terry Jastrow, commented to The New York Times Magazine that Katselas changed the way he experiences life on a day-to-day basis: “I go out in the world and look at human behavior now. I see a woman or man interacting with a saleslady, and I see the artistry in it. Life is an endless unspooling of art, of acting, of painting, of architecture. And where did I learn that? From Milton.”

Actor Anthony Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer spoke highly of Katselas in a 2002 interview with San Francisco Chronicle: “He’s this wonderfully intuitive teacher and his premise is basically: The only real barriers are the ones we put in front of ourselves. If you say, ‘My character wouldn’t do that’ — bollocks! Ultimately it’s you who wouldn’t say that. Who knows what your character might do.” In the acknowledgements of her 2004 autobiography Are You Hungry, Dear?: Life, Laughs, and Lasagna, actress Doris Roberts wrote: “I thank my friend and acting teacher, the incredible Milton Katselas, for his insights, wisdom, and inspiration, which have helped make me the actress that I am.”

I really care about the craft of acting. It’s absolutely necessary to take the time and patience to really develop an actor.

Katselas authored two books: Dreams Into Action: Getting What You Want, first published in 1996 by Dove Books, and Acting Class: Take a Seat, which came out earlier this month. Dreams Into Action, a New York Times Bestseller, sought to modify motivational acting exercises to the field of business.

In an interview in the 2007 book Acting Teachers of America, Katselas commented on his experiences as an acting teacher over the years: “I have very special teachers here at the Beverly Hills Playhouse—some have been with me for over twenty-five years. I believe that to make a difference over the long haul, we need to train teachers. I really care about the craft of acting. It’s absolutely necessary to take the time and patience to really develop an actor.”

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18 September

Building partially collapses in New York City’s Upper West Side

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A building being prepared for demolition collapsed this morning in New York‘s Upper West Side around 9 a.m. EDT. Five people are known to be injured from the accident, as well as one rescue worker who was injured in the aftermath. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

The building was a supermarket, which was being taken down to make room for a high-rise building, something that residents took issue with. The roof, front wall, and scaffolding all fell to the ground, as stated by Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.

Soon after the incident at least 100 police and fire department personnel combed the wreckage for more victims, using search and rescue dogs to find people by scent. They quickly accounted for the twenty-five construction workers who were working on the supermarket. Most of the victims’ injuries were broken bones, including one person who broke all four extremities.

Subway lines 1, 2, and 3 have been closed or redirected in response, along with the M104 bus.

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18 September

Canada’s York West (Ward 7) city council candidates speak

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On November 13, Torontoians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is York West (Ward 7). One candidate responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Sandra Anthony, Fred Cutler, Giorgio Mammoliti (incumbent), and Larry Perlman.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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17 September

Four coalition soldiers die in Kandahar helicopter crash

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

File:Australian SF Afghanistan Oct 2009.jpg

Less than two weeks after two Australian soldiers (Diggers) died in the explosion of a roadside bomb, three more Diggers and a US soldier were killed early yesterday morning in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, while seven other soldiers are being treated for injuries.

Australian Defence Force Chief Angus Houston said in a statement this afternoon that two of the crash survivors are in a serious condition and will be moved with the other survivors to the US military hospital in Begram.

The crash occurred at 03:39 yesterday local time (23:09 on Sunday, UTC) in the north of Kandahar province. Although the cause is still unknown, Houston said “the terrain is rugged, the helicopters are often heavily loaded, it’s at high altitude and it was three o’clock in the morning. All of these factors will no doubt be considered”. Houston confirmed that enemy fire was not to blame for the crash.

These new casualties in the Afghan War brings Australia’s death toll to sixteen, while that of the US comes to 1128 since the war began in 2001.

Despite this, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, remains firm on the issue: “We work beside our allies […] to avoid Afghanistan once again becoming a breeding ground for terrorists who can then strike at innocent Australians both at home and abroad” and continued by saying that all Australians owe the soldiers a debt of gratitude for making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Although the names of the soldiers have yet to be released, the tragedy follows last week’s casualties where Australian combat engineers Darren Smith, age 26, and Jacob Moerland, age 21, were killed along side their bomb sniffer dog, Herbie in a roadside blast.

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17 September

Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 25) city council candidates speak

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Don Valley West (Ward 25). Three candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Blair, Robertson Boyle, Tony Dickins, Cliff Jenkins (incumbent), and Peter Kapsalis.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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17 September

China: ‘the Dalai Lama is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage’

Monday, March 24, 2008

The government of China has claimed that the Dalai Lama is cooperating with Islamic extremists as part of a plot to bring the country into crises before the Olympic Games, which are due to be half in Beijing this Summer. The official newspaper of the government of China claimed that “the Dalai Lama is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese government to make concessions to Tibet independence.”

This move comes after Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, vowed to step down from his position if things “get out of control” in Tibet, where violent demonstrations against China have killed anywhere from 13 to 100 people.

The protests, which began in Lhasa, have since spread to neighboring provinces. In Aba, Sichuan, one witness reported 17 deaths. “Earlier today, the whole town was teeming with police and soldiers,” he said. “All the shops have been closed. There are no arrests that I know of … People are anticipating that something big is going to happen.” Elsewhere in Sichuan, thousands of Tibetans turned out in the streets of Seda, according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

The international community has repeatedly urged China to use restraint in dealing with protesters, and to start talks with the Dalai Lama. United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday, “We have really urged the Chinese over several years to find a way to talk with the Dalai Lama, who is a figure of authority, who is not a separatist, and to find a way to engage him and bring his moral weight to a more sustainable and better solution of the Tibet issue.”

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14 September

11th suspect arrested in Laos overthrow plot; indictments handed down

Friday, June 15, 2007

An 11th man was arrested yesterday by U.S. federal agents in Fresno, California, on charges connected to the plot by 10 other men to overthrow the government of Laos.

Later yesterday, the federal grand jury Sacramento handed down indictments for the 11 men, including former Royal Lao Army general and Hmong leader Vang Pao.

Dang Vang, 48, was arrested at his Fresno home in an early morning raid by agents from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

Dang Vang, Vang Pao and the others are charged with violating the U.S. Neutrality Act, which outlaws using United States soil to conspire to overthrow a foreign government that has peaceful relations with the U.S.

“Federal law is without equivocation: you cannot conspire to overthrow a foreign government with whom our nation is at peace,” U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said in a statement to reporters.

According to the ATF, Dang Vang put the group’s “action plan” to paper, summarizing its plot to blow up government buildings in Laos and assassinate government officials. The plot even had a name: “Operation Popcorn,” or “Political Opposition Party’s Coup Operation to Rescue a Nation.”

In addition to the 77-year-old Vang Pao and Dang Vang, 48, those charged are:

  • Harrison Jack, 60, a West Point graduate, retired California National Guard colonel and U.S. Army Ranger in the Vietnam War.
  • Lo Cha Thao, 34, of Clovis
  • Lo Thao, 53, of Sacramento
  • Youa True Vang, 60, of Fresno
  • Hue Vang, 39, of Fresno
  • Chong Vang Thao, 53, of Fresno
  • Seng Vue, 68, of Fresno
  • Chue Lo, 59, of Stockton
  • Nhia Kao Vang, 48, of Rancho Cordova, California

Most of the men indicted are prominent members of the Hmong immigrant community in California’s Central Valley. They were arrested last week in a sting operation as the group was trying to purchase a rifles, missiles, rocket launchers, mines and explosives from an ATF agent posing as an arms dealer.

In an 88-page criminal complaint, federal prosecutors detailed the plot, which included airlifting the weapons to Thailand, and had an estimated cost of US$27.9 million. Funds for the operation were raised from donations by the Hmong community and other supporters of Vang Pao from across the U.S.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Vang Pao led a covert army of Hmong people, backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, against communist forces in the Laotian Civil War, or “Secret War”, which paralleled the U.S. war in Vietnam.

Since the communist takeover of Laos in 1975, according to a March 2007 report by Amnesty International, Hmong people in Laos have taken to hiding in the mountains, on the run from a government that persecutes them for their role in the war.

U.S.-Laos diplomatic relations were strengthened in 1992, and in 2004, President George W. Bush extended normal trade relations to the southeast Asian country.

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14 September

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Liberal candidate Kate Holloway, Trinity-Spadina

Monday, October 1, 2007

Kate Holloway is running for the Ontario Liberal Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Trinity-Spadina riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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2 September

Volcano eruption in Ecuador kills six and destroys several small villages

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The eruption of volcano Tungurahua on August 16 destroyed several small villages in the Ecuadorian Andes. At least 6 people have been killed and about 4000 residents of the affected area have been evacuated.

The 5,023 m high volcano spat lava, stones and ash for several hours on Wednesday night. A 10km high ash cloud spread over an area of 740 by 180 km. Towns like Ambato or Riobamba, 30 km away from the volcano have been covered with up to 5cm of ash. Pyroclastic flows descending on the northwestern slopes of the volcano left a path of destruction behind.

At least seven small villages and hamlets have been completely destroyed. The ash and rocks blocked the Chambo and the Peula river and the road Ambato – Baños, one of the main connections between the Ecuadorian highlands and the Amazon region. The Institute for Geophysics has lost an important part of its equipment installed on the slopes of Tungurahua, limiting their capability to monitor the volcanic activity.

The Hydroelectric power plant Agoyan near Baños has been shut down since Wednesday night. On Thursday, air traffic in the whole country was limited due to ash layers on several airports. On Thursday the provinces of Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi and Bolivar have been declared a disaster area. Losses in agriculture due to the ash cover are estimated at $150 Million.

On Friday, volcanic activity decreased to a calm that remained into Saturday evening, but the Ecuadorian Institute for Geophysics warns that a further eruption may be imminent.

In 1999, after a long period of rest, the volcano started an eruptive process that continues to this day. After the first eruptions in October 1999 that produced a major ash out-fall and led to the temporary evacuation of more than 25,000 inhabitants of Baños and its surroundings, the activity continued on a medium level. In May 2006 it increased dramatically culminating in violent eruptions on July 14 and August 16.

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2 September

Brookfield, Wisconsin man charged with stealing toilet and urinal parts

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Yesterday, the Milwaukee County district attorney charged Cory J. Feerick, a 33-year-old from Brookfield, Wisconsin, with five misdemeanor counts of stealing US$35,000 worth of flush valves from fast food restaurants and university toilets and urinals. If convicted, Feerick could spend to 9 to 45 months in jail, and pay between US$10,000 and US$50,000 in fines.

Initially arrested in late January following a local news television story on the thefts, he stands accused of stealing parts worth between US$300 and US$600 each from locations that included Milwaukee Area Technical College, Waukesha County Technical College, ITT Technical Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, the Pick ‘n Save on Capitol Drive in Brookfield, and the Arby’s also located on Capitol Drive in Brookfield.

Feerick was dubbed the “Backpack Bathroom Bandit” by the media because video showed him committing the thefts while wearing a backpack. The thefts reportedly took place in September and October of last year, with several area police departments involved in investigating them.

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31 August