Entertainment

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Caroll Spinney, Who Played Big Bird And Oscar On ‘Sesame Street,’ Dies At 85

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December 8, 2019 3:52 PM ET

LAUREL WAMSLEY

Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions.

“Caroll and Big Bird are very similar in their genuine niceness and sweetness and lovingness,” said Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of the Sesame Workshop said in a video tribute to Spinney last year. “He’s just so respectful and so nice to all the kids, and all that comes across in Big Bird.”

At a celebration for the show’s 15th anniversary in 1984, Muppet-master Jim Henson recounted how he and Spinney had met in August 1969 at a puppetry festival in Salt Lake City.

“He’s a very talented performer and he had a great sense of ad-libbing,” Henson remembered. “And he was doing this strange-looking cat on local television in Boston. And so we started talking at that point about doing this show, and I asked Caroll if he’d enjoy coming and being part of this very strange bird.”

But Spinney also played the character with the opposite of Big Bird’s sunny persona: Oscar the Grouch.

“I loved playing Oscar. He has a power I never had. … I can’t believe that Jim gave me two such characters that have become iconic, and are a part of so many people in America growing up.”

Spinney retired last year. As balance issues made the physically demanding role of Big Bird more difficult, the big yellow suit was taken on by another performer, Matt Vogel, while Spinney continued to voice Big Bird and Oscar.

Stan Smith / December 08,2019

Opinion: A year in review

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I’d like to celebrate some of the special people I interviewed while doing my weekend segments on WISH-TV in 2019.

Gregg Bell is 90 and still practices dentistry and is director of that department at Logansport State Hospital. But wait, there’s more! In 1953, Bell won the Olympic gold medal in long jumping in Melbourne, Australia. When I interviewed him, I asked him to show me the 26-foot, 5.2-inch distance that won him first place. He eyeballed the floor and walked it off within a quarter of an inch.

At the age of 18, Carmel resident Ashton Gleckman wrote, filmed, edited and produced an incredible documentary about Holocaust survivors that was featured this year at the Heartland Film Festival. He learned to do all this from YouTube videos. Not to brag, but I learned from YouTube how to use dental floss to get a stuck ring off my stubby finger.

Senior pickleball player Ralph Fowler is the star of the Monon Center pickleball league, and I was there with TV cameras to surprise him for his 90th birthday. He plays every bit as well as people half his age. He beat me in a game. I’m sure I could have beaten him if there had been a rematch, but I was too tired to play again.

Lonnie Bedwell lost his vision in 1997 when his best friend accidentally shot him during a hunting trip. The story of his adventures while blind include kayaking down the Colorado River, climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and skiing down the world’s most challenging slopes. “I wish I had my sight back,” Lonnie said during our interview, “but I wouldn’t trade the last 23 years for anything.”

Stan Smith / December 05,2019

Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Switch is Getting a Physical Release from Limited Run Games

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If there are any acclaimed, massive RPGs from the past few years worth digging into, surely Larian Studios’ Divinity: Original Sin 2 would rank high on that list. The acclaimed RPG took over PC and consoles in the past two years, and with its recent release on Nintendo Switch, an upcoming physical release of the game will pack in the massive RPG on a tiny cartridge for your collecting pleasure.

Limited Run Games announced that the company will be offering a physical release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 on Nintendo Switch in 2020, with pre-orders for the physical edition of the game now available on their website and running through early next year.

According to Limited Run, the physical Switch release for Divinity: Original Sin 2 will retail for $59.99 and include the base game alongside all previously-released free DLC. In addition to the game and DLC, the physical release from Limited Run will also include a 52-page game manual and color interior print with reversible cover art.

Pre-orders for the Switch physical release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 are available now through January 3, 2020, with shipments expected to go out 2-4 months after the pre-order window closes. According to Limited Run, physical copies of the Switch version may also make their way to Best Buy stores in 2020, though the retailer warns that the deal has not been finalized yet and that purchasers may “wait at their own risk.”

Stan Smith / December 03,2019

Dead Cells Paid Expansion Coming to Steam in Q1 2020

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Dead Cells developer Motion Twin announced a new expansion for the game coming to Steam on PC in early 2020.

Called The Bad Seed, the DLC will feature two new levels, the Arboretum and Swamp, accessible in the early game and one new boss.

The Bad Seed DLC will be a paid expansion costing $4.99, marking the first time that post-launch content will carry a price for the game. Developer Motion Twin has been supporting Dead Cells with free post-launch content since August 2018.

“Paid content will help support the development of the game, allowing the team to go forward with all of the ideas that we’ve got in our heads, continuing to produce free content, fixes and updates, while also ensuring that Motion Twin have the time to build their next game at the level you’ve come to expect from them,” the developer said in the DLC announcement post.

Motion Twin said it plans to continue updating the game with free content updates for the next two years “at least” if “this DLC thing goes according to plan.” Some early ideas include new weapons, creatures, secret areas, and lore.

The developer also teased an update coming to the game around the holiday season.

Stan Smith / November 29,2019

Bays, Schaab identify with ‘Elf’ roles at Civic

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Bays, Schaab identify with ‘Elf’ roles at Civic

For Matt Bays, his role could be considered a slight bit of typecasting.

On a personal note, Bays relates to his character Buddy in “Elf The Musical.”

“He’s a happy-go-lucky person and so am I,” Bays said

Bays plays Buddy in Civic Theatre’s production of “Elf The Musical,” which runs from Dec. 6 to Dec. 28 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

Bays, Schaab identify with ‘Elf’ roles at Civic

From left, Nate Schlabach, Ben Boyce, Matt Bays and Emily Schaab appear in “Elf The Musical.” (Photo by Mark Ambrogi)

The story centers on a young orphan, who accidentally climbs into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole, where he is raised as an elf by Santa’s elves.

“I thought maybe I was too old for the part, but it worked out,” said Bays, a 49-year-old Westfield resident.

Bays said he was familiar with the 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell as Buddy but had never seen the 2010 Broadway musical, which was inspired by the movie.

“It’s one of our staples I watch every year with my two daughters,” Bays said of the movie. “Buddy is spontaneous. He’s loving and he’s little naive, a trusting individual.”

The show is Bays’ second with Civic. He was in “Anything Goes” in 2018.

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