Original “Law & Order” ends

As you may’ve heard, the original L&O series has ended on NBC.  I didn’t see the last episode; I stopped watching it regularly a few years ago.  In recent years, I paid more attention to L&O: Criminal Intent and SVU (watched religiously for many years. )  L&O started out as a cutting-edge show in the early ’90s w/ timely and controversial storylines.  

The show’s top cop was life-weary veteran Det. Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach: 1935-2004).  Orbach came from the theater where he acted, sang, and danced.  L&O’s best lawyer was highly principled ADA/Executive DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston).  Waterston is a classically-trained actor who made his mark in film, too.  McCoy hated hypocrisy and compromise, but could fight cleverly, too.  Plus, he had a cool motorcycle!  L&O has been a showcase for experienced actors and a launching pad for younger ones just starting out in the business. 

In the beginning, the characters had great chemistry together, especially Briscoe and his younger partner, Det. Mike Logan (Chris Noth).   Briscoe (recovering alcoholic) and Logan (hotheaded womanizer) were street-wise, working-class guys who had little or no interest in promotions/politics.  They just wanted to catch the bad guys.  Who could forget the story Logan told of his alcoholic mother regularly beating him with the Bible?  Sorry SATC fans, but we L&O fans saw Noth first!  (Logan kept reappearing in other series b/c fans, as well as Dick Wolf, liked him so much!)  

On to the prosecutors…  The serene and intellectual Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks) was a terrifc foil to passionate ADA Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty).  Robinette had a terrific speaking voice that exuded confidence and serenity.  Stone, on the other hand, was more openly idealistic and passionate.  In later years, Robinette made a guest starring role as a defense attorney.  Why was Brooks, a young African-American actor, let go?  It was to make way for another minority group- women.

No doubt about it, L&O has had some fine women in its cast, including the very capable Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson).  Jill Hennessey’s L&O role was a far cry (and far better acting) than her star turn on Crossing Jordan.  Jill was very believable as a lawyer.   Claire and Jack’s ambiguous personal relationship was discussed by many fans.  Former Bond girl Carey Lowell was very believable as upper-crust, no-nonsense prosecutor Abbie Ross.  Angie Harmon’s character (Abbie Carmichael) was not written w/ subtlety like Claire or Jamie, but she did a good job w/ it.  Angie has a very strong physical presence, like Benjamin Bratt (who played Det. Rey Curtis).


Unlike many L&O franchise cops, Rey was a grounded family man w/ traditional values.  He stuck by his wife and kids when she got ill.  Briscoe couldn’t believe that Rey only fantasized about his wife.   A classy guy in a very classy show…


David Lee Murphy


David Lee Murphy (b. 1959) is a successful Nashville singer/songwriter (originally from Illinois).  He wrote the very fun and high energy song On A Mission for the trio Trick Pony.  Before being getting a record deal w/ Mercury in 1994, David co-wrote songs w/ Reba and Doug Stone.  David has also written songs for Aaron Tippin, Kenny Chesney, and Jason Aldean (Big Green Tractor: one of the young singer’s hits).   In 2003, he toured w/ Lee Roy Parnell and John Berry (one of my fave singers).  Another cool fact: we share the same birthday- JAN 7. 

His voice is pure, honest, and no-frills (he doesn’t need any).  Even people who don’t usually like country music can appreciate his sound;  there is NO sharp twang (accent) to this voice.  Instead, there is just something light (youthful; easygoing), smooth, and natural.   I would esp. recommend his songs if you like singers like Mark Chesnutt and Gary Allan.   One of David’s influences was Waylon Jennings; they wrote together shortly before Jennings died. 


Just Once (a fun/fast-paced song featured in the film 8 Seconds; David’s 1st hit song)


Dust On The Bottle  (a cool song w/ great electric guitar)


Party Crowd


The Road You Leave Behind


She’s Really Something To See


We Can’t All Be Angels


Unfortunately, David has not recorded his own music since 2004.  But he keeps on writing for other singers. 


David is also on FB and Twitter.  Currently, he is one of the many country singers raising money for flood relief in TN. 



“Elmer Gantry” (1960)

The screen has never known a man like ELMER GANTRY!  (movie tagline)

At the opening, we meet Elmer Gantry (Burt Lancaster), a travelling salesman in a dusty little town in Prohibition era Midwest.  He drinks and tells stories at a rowdy bar on Christmas Eve.  All the while, he keeps an eye on the red-suited blonde in the corner.   (Women are one of his weaknesses.)  Some men comment that he “talks like a preacher” after Elmer convinces them to give money to women representing the Salvation Army.   At the end of the night, he takes home the blonde.  Well, it’s not really his home- it’s a tacky hotel room.


Something seems to shift in Elmer’s mind (and maybe his heart) when he goes to a tent revival and sees a beautiful, Evangelical preacher called Sister Sharon Falconer (Jean Simmons).  Earlier, he’d seen her posters; she’s kind of celebrity in small Midwestern towns.  When he briefly speaks to her, he realizes that she’s a no-nonsense gal.  Elmer is even more intrigued, so he cozies up to the group’s choir leader, Sister Rachel (Patti Page), to learn more about Sharon.  Rachel gets a huge crush on Elmer and invites him to join their entourage.  Never one to shy away from dramatics, Elmer hops onto the train at the last minute. 

Aboard the train, Elmer gets a seat by Sharon.  She finds him interesting; he’s a far cry from the “sanctimonious prigs” she usually meets.  Elmer also meets Jim Lefferts (Arthur Kennedy), a jaded Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who’s been travelling w/ these Evangelicals and reporting on their movement.  Jim believes in evolution, not God.  Both Sharon and Jim quickly realize that Elmer is not a “true believer” in any cause (except maybe himself).

In no time, Elmer takes center stage at revivals, “warming-up” crowds for Sharon.  Her sober-minded manager doesn’t like the new direction.  But Sharon points out that Elmer’s “theatrics” are bringing in more lost souls yearning to be saved.  (Of course, some just want to be entertained.)  As Elmer (who was kicked out of his seminary) gains popularity, it appears that he’s finally found his calling- selling salvation.  Sharon starts to get close to him, too.  But wait, this isn’t the end of the story!       

Elmer Gantry explores some big issues: ambition, corruption (moral/political), faith, freedom of speech, forgiveness, hypocrisy, etc.   Even before this Oscar-winning film (based on a novel) was released, it was controversial.   Initially, no studio wanted to finance it.   Director (Richard Brooks) didn’t want Shirley Jones (pic above) in the role of Lulu, the young woman who unlocks Elmer’s past, but Burt Lancaster insisted. 

Though some viewers called his portrayal over-the-top, that is precisely what the character demanded!  Elmer is a bundle of energy, confidence (false or real), and words.  Not only does Lancaster make Elmer likeable, he makes him very fun to watch.  (There are MANY laughs in this film!)  But my fave scene is the one out in the woods where Elmer confronts Sharon about what men and women REALLY want from each other.  Elmer is not w/o redeeming qualities.  But does he deserve to be saved?  Watch this multi-layered film and decide for yourself!