Remembering Cloris Leachman, kicking with 'Cobra Kai' and more Oklahoma entertainment headlines featuring Kristin Chenoweth, Miranda Lambert and Kelly Lang
From top celebrities to everyday folks, Oklahomans and Oklahoma stay in the entertainment headlines. Here's five times they've made show business news over the past week or so:
Remembering Cloris Leachman and her Oklahoma moviemaking experience
Oscar-winning performer Cloris Leachman - deemed "irreplaceable" by legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks - died last week at the age of 94, leaving an iconic hole in the entertainment landscape.
Leachman earned an Academy Award for her memorable turn as a lonely housewife in Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 drama “The Last Picture Show," and she will be well-remembered for her hilarious performance as Frau Blücher in Brooks' uproarious comedy “Young Frankenstein” and as the neighbor Phyllis on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
But the Iowa native - who died Wednesday in her sleep of natural causes at her home in Encinitas, California - continued to act well into her golden years, reprising her role as the feisty grandma in the 2020 animated sequel "The Croods: A New Age."
One of her recent projects brought her to Oklahoma just a few years ago: She co-starred with J. Michael Finley, Dennis Quaid and Trace Adkins in the fact-based musical drama "I Can Only Imagine."
Inspired by the real-life story behind the hit song by Grammy-nominated band MercyMe, which was formed in Edmond, the drama was the highest grossing independent film of 2018.
"I Can Only Imagine" took in more than $83 million domestically on a budget of $7 million and became fifth-highest-grossing musical biopic of all time. It helped sibling filmmakers Andrew and Jon Erwin and their Kingdom Story Company team with Lionsgate in their long-term partnership, and it helped establish ties with the Oklahoma film industry leading to The Erwin Brothers making two more fact-based films in the Sooner State: "The Unbreakable," which is in post-production after filming last year, and "American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story," which is underway in the new Prairie Surf Studios in downtown Oklahoma City.
I hope you enjoy the excellent photos posted above of Leachman, who was a skilled pianist, which my talented colleague Sarah Phipps took on the "I Can Only Imagine" set in 2017 in Oklahoma City's Civic Center Music Hall.
Oklahoma filmmaker Kyle Roberts pays stop-motion homage to 'Cobra Kai'
OKC filmmaker Kyle William Roberts ("The Posthuman Project") has unleashed another butt-kicking nostalgic stop-motion animated short film.
In honor of the newly released third season of "The Karate Kid" spin-off series "Cobra Kai" on Netflix, Roberts and his crew at Reckless Abandonment Pictures have released a stop-motion fight between Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny (William Zabka).
Incorporating more than 2,000 individual photos, Roberts and Co. produced the short for the toy company Icon Heroes to help promote their action figures.
Kristin Chenoweth delivers 'Wicked' remix of 'Popular' in honor of VP Kamala Harris
Broken Arrow native Kristin Chenoweth donned a Glinda-esque white suit to pay homage to our country's history-making new Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the first woman, Black and Asian American vice president.
“Because Kamala, she’s good for America," Chenoweth teamed with celebrate Stephen Schwartz to remix the iconic ditty "Popular" from their smash musical "Wicked." It's a nifty remake of one of Chenoweth's signature songs, plus it comes with a free reminder on the proper way to pronounce the new VP's first name.
Also, Chenoweth and fellow Tony Award winners Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster and Brian Stokes Mitchell are featured in the most recent episode of the PBS series "In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl." The episode, hosted by Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, is available for streaming now here.
And if you just can't get enough of Chenoweth - and really, who can get enough of that Oklahoma dynamo? - the acclaimed early 2000s series "Pushing Daisies," which co-starred Chickasha-born actor Lee Pace and earned Chenoweth an Emmy Award, is now streaming on HBO Max.
Miranda Lambert makes us miss concert-going with live take on 'Tequila Does'
If streaming "In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl" doesn't make you miss pre-COVID concert-going, former Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert will have you pining for the live music world we once knew (and probably took for granted) with her new video release.
The native Texan has dropped a live video of her steel guitar-spiked song "Tequila Does" that was filmed during her pre-pandemic headlining run with her "Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour."
"Tequila Does" is from Lambert's stellar 2019 album "Wildcard," which is nominated for Best Country Album at the upcoming (and pandemic-delayed) Grammy Awards, currently slated to air March 14 on CBS. Lambert, Natalie Hemby and Oklahoma native Luke Dick also are nominated for the Grammy for Best Country Song for their soaring hit "Bluebird."
Kelly Lang releases new video for inspirational ballad 'I'm Not Going Anywhere'
Singer-songwriter, cancer survivor and Oklahoma City native Kelly Lang has released a new version of and music video for her inspirational ballad “I’m Not Going Anywhere."
"I'm Not Going Anywhere" has been seen and heard across the United States as part of Ascension Hospital’s "Your Care Is Our Calling" campaign, honoring caregivers and the patients they serve. As a result of the campaign and at the requests of fans around the world, Lang has re-recorded “I’m Not Going Anywhere” and is releasing a deluxe EP, which includes a piano version, an orchestrated version, a story behind the song as well as a music video, available now.
“What an honor it is to receive such kind messages from so many people about my song,” Lang said in a statement. “It is very humbling to hear how my words and music have touched the hearts of those in need of comfort. As a songwriter, I hope this is also an encouragement to others who write songs to never give up on their musical dreams. This song was written 16 years ago, and only now being heard so widespread.”
Lang was inspired to write the song in 2004 as she watched a close friend manage a loved one’s illness. Three months later, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and began a journey of her own at Ascension Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.
In remission since 2005, Lang has said that she hopes her voice can echo beacons of light and encourage patients with cancer to continue fighting. “I’m Not Going Anywhere” has been recorded by country legends T.G. Sheppard and Crystal Gayle, featured in Burt Reynolds' movie "The Deal" and was included on Lang's album "11:11," but never released as a single. In 2019, a portion of the song was picked up for a regional campaign in Nashville and surrounding markets by Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital.
After an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the area, it is now being used in television and radio commercials across the country.
Features Writer Brandy "BAM" McDonnell covers Oklahoma's arts, entertainment and cultural sectors for The Oklahoman and Oklahoman.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/brandybammcdonnell and twitter.com/BAMOK. Please support work by her and her colleagues by subscribing at oklahoman.com/subscribe.