Ed Asner (15 November 1929 – 29 August 2021)

Ronald Bergan, who died last year, wrote an obituary for Ed Asner which was published by The Guardian yesterday:

“It is very difficult to separate the character of the eponymous hero of the television series Lou Grant (1977-82) from the actor who played him. Ed Asner, who has died aged 91, will always be associated with the irascible but kindly crusading city editor of the Los Angeles Tribune, although he had a career that stretched back to the 1950s and continued long after Lou Grant was axed…

…Asner started to get a lot of work as a voice actor on animated TV series (Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, Zorro, The Boondocks, Gargoyles, The Cleveland Show, for example), and animated features, notably Up (2009), beautifully exploiting the gruff persona that was the protective stance of a private, sensitive person. Despite his being cast so often as a curmudgeon, it might seem paradoxical that he played Santa Claus a number of times, most famously in Elf (2003).

As a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he remained outspoken in a very conservative industry. “Socialist means a thing that will curb the excesses of capitalism: the increasing wealth of the rich and decreasing wealth of the poor,” he said. “I’d like to see a national guarantee of health, a national guarantee of education (through college), fair housing, and sufficient food.”

Asner had two daughters and a son from his first marriage, to Nancy Sykes, which ended in divorce; and a son from a relationship with Carol Jean Vogelman.”

From Wikipedia:

“The opening sequence to the 2009 Pixar film Up (sometimes referred to as Married Life after the accompanying instrumental piece, the Up montage, or including the rest of the prologue The First 10 Minutes Of Up) has become known as a cultural milestone, and a key element to the film’s success.

While the core concept of the film was to have a house float into the sky with balloons, the filmmakers needed a rationale for why a character would do such a thing. Their solution was to show the entirety of a married couple’s relationship from the first day they met to the day the wife died. They envisioned it as a wordless montage that would play like a series of Polaroid home movies. Pete Docter always felt that an expository sequence to open the film was important, as if the viewers do not love the characters, “then you’re not along for the ride.” In an early draft of the Ellie-Carl meeting, Carl is trying to capture a bird with a trap and Ellie punches him in the face, yelling about animal rights. This led into a montage sequence of a “lifelong sneak-attack punching game, lending the script some heart in a ‘non-sappy’ way”, according to the Huffington Post. Co-director Bob Peterson said “we thought that was the funniest thing”, noting that even when Carl visited Ellie’s sickbed, she gives him a feeble slap. Nevertheless, the test audiences did not warm to the sequence. Docter explained “We showed it, and there was silence. I guess they thought it was too violent or something”. From that point on, the filmmakers went with a sorrowful version of the sequence.

In one cutting room session, one part of the sequence in which Ellie is despondent having learnt she is not able to have children, received many notes from members of the studio, believing the moment may have pushed things too far. As a result, the scene was cut, though later put back into the film. Director Pete Docter explained: “You didn’t feel as deeply [without the scene] — not only just [with] that sequence, but through the whole film. Most of the emotional stuff is not just to push on people and make them cry, but it’s for some greater reason to really make you care about the story.”

The “Married Life” piece was the first assignment Michael Giacchino had on the film. He explained: “We knew that was going to be one of the most difficult scenes in the film, so we tackled that first, and I was just working really hard to make that scene really work because I knew that was going to inform the rest of the story”. Originally he had written a different piece to be played in that part of the film, but Pete Docter requested a song that would play as if from one’s grandmother’s music box. Giachinno subsequently conceived of the new composition. After recording the initial piece, they went back to make touch-ups at various points to match the emotional tone of the visual sequence.”

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