On and off screen, Burt Reynolds followed many paths
By JOHN ROGERS
Friday, September 7
In the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan, Burt Reynolds had (almost) nothing to hide.
With his trademark bushy mustache topping his ever-present smirk and one of his hands strategically covering his private parts, Reynolds dared to bare — as he did most of his life.
He would call his Cosmo centerfold one of his greatest regrets, a decision which undermined the respect he had gained for his performance in “Deliverance.” But candor was his curse and his appeal as Reynolds, the handsome film and television star who died Thursday at age 82, maintained an active and well documented public and private life.
Sex symbol. Serious actor. Laughing stock. Gold mine. Comeback artist. Reynolds followed long and conflicting paths. He once joked that if you turned his career into a medical chart, it would look like a heart attack.
He starred in such critically acclaimed pictures as 1972’s “Deliverance” and 1997’s “Boogie Nights” and such commercial hits as “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Cannonball Run.” He had a hit TV show in the 1990s with “Evening Shade” and, during his prime, was a perennial top draw at the movie box office.
He managed some of the industry’s highest and lowest honors. He was nominated for an Oscar for “Boogie Nights” and won two Golden Globes and an Emmy. But he also was a frequent nominee for the Razzie, the tongue-in-cheek award for Hollywood’s worst performance, and his name was often in the news whether he liked it or not. He had an acrimonious divorce from former TV star Loni Anderson in 1995, a high-profile romance with Dinah Shore and a long relationship with Sally Field. His first wife, “Laugh-In” star Judy Carne, criticized him often for not being supportive of her career.
Through it all he presented a genial persona, ever willing to mock his own failings, like turning down the role that went to Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman” or the chance to play James Bond when Sean Connery was holding out for more money.
“For a long time afterward I’d wake up in a cold sweat going, ‘Bond, James Bond!’” he wrote in his memoir “But Enough About Me,” published in 2015.
An all-Southern Conference running back at Florida State University in the 1950s, Reynolds appeared headed to the NFL until a knee injury and an automobile accident ended his chances.
He dropped out of college and drifted to New York, where he worked as a dockhand, dance-hall bouncer, bodyguard and dish washer before returning to Florida in 1957 and enrolling in acting classes at Palm Beach Junior College.
He won the Florida Drama Award in 1958 for his performance in the role John Garfield made famous in “Outward Bound.” He was subsequently discovered by a talent agent at New York’s Hyde Park Playhouse.
Early theater roles included performances in “Mister Roberts” and “Look: We’ve Come Through.”
After moving to Hollywood, he found work as a stuntman, including flying through a glass window. Later, as a star, he often performed his own stunts, and he played a stuntman in the 1978 film “Hooper,” one of his better reviewed films.
His first film role came in 1961’s “Angel Baby,” and he followed it with numerous other mediocre movies. But he did become famous enough to make frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show,” leading to his most cherished film role and to his greatest folly.
In the early 1970s, director John Boorman was impressed by how confidently Reynolds handled himself when subbing for Carson as host of “The Tonight Show.” Boorman thought he might be right for a film adaptation of James Dickey’s novel “Deliverance.”
Reynolds starred as Lewis Medlock, the intrepid leader of an ill-fated whitewater canoe trip. When he and three other Atlanta businessmen are ambushed by violent backwoodsmen, Reynolds must guide the group to safety.
“Deliverance” was an Oscar nominee for best picture and no film made him prouder. In his memoir, he wrote that “Deliverance” would be his choice could he put one of his movies in a time capsule.
“It proved I could act,” he wrote.
But soon after filming was completed, he made a decision he never stopped regretting. While appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, he agreed to her invitation, offered during a commercial break, to be the first male centerfold for her magazine.
“I was flattered and intrigued,” Reynolds wrote in his memoir. The April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan quickly sold more than 1 million copies, but turned his life into a “carnival.” The centerfold would appear on T-shirts, panties and other merchandise and Reynolds began receiving obscene fan mail. Reynolds’ performance in “Deliverance” was snubbed by the movie academy.
“It was a total fiasco,” he wrote. “I thought people would be able to separate the fun-loving side of me from the serious actor, but I was wrong.”
He did remain an A-list movie star, starring in such films as “Shamus,” ”The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and three popular “Smokey and the Bandit” comedies, with co-stars including Field and Jackie Gleason.
Reynolds also directed a few of the films he starred in, including “Gator,” ”Sharky’s Machine” and “Stick,” and made cameo appearances in the Hollywood spoof “The Player” and Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).”
One of his first encounters with the tabloids came in 1973 with the mysterious death of co-star Sarah Miles’ manager during filming of “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.” Reynolds testified during a highly publicized inquest but the death was eventually ruled a suicide.
His romance with Shore, 20 years his senior, also brought intense media scrutiny. The two met when Reynolds made a surprise appearance on her talk show, bursting out of a closet on the set.
But the couple’s eventual breakup, and his later split with the popular Field, brought him negative publicity, especially after he acknowledged he was jealous of Field’s becoming an Academy Award winner. His career was nearly destroyed in the 1980s when false rumors surfaced that he was infected with the AIDS virus. He had injured his jaw making the 1984 comedy “City Heat” with Clint Eastwood. Barely able to eat, he lost 50 pounds and suddenly looked ill and emaciated.
“For two years I couldn’t get a job,” he told the AP in 1990. “I had to take five physicals to get a job. I had to take the pictures that were offered to me. I did action pictures because I was trying to prove that I was well.”
He eventually regained his health, and in 1988 he married Anderson. The actress, one of the stars of the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” had met him on a talk show.
The couple divorced in 1995, and their breakup was an embarrassing public spectacle, with the pair exchanging insults in print interviews and on television shows. Reynolds finally paid her a $2 million settlement and a vacation home to settle the divorce.
He rebounded once again, this time with the role of porn movie impresario Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights,” which brought him some of his best reviews even though he felt ambivalent about his characters and felt limited rapport with the director.
He won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor and received an Oscar nomination. Convinced he would win, he was devastated when the Oscar went to Robin Williams for “Good Will Hunting.”
“I once said that I’d rather have a Heisman Trophy than an Oscar,” he wrote in his memoir. “I lied.”
Reynolds had previously won a Golden Globe in 1992 for “Evening Shade,” in which he played Wood Newton, a former professional football player who returns to his Arkansas hometown to coach the high school team. He also received an Emmy for the role in 1991.
Burton Leon Reynolds was born on Feb. 11, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan, the son of a police chief, and he was raised in Florida. His earliest acting roles were in high school plays.
After several years in California, he returned in 1969 to Florida, where he had gone to college. He bought eight acres of waterfront property in the wealthy community of Jupiter and spent most of the rest of his life there, devoting much of his later years to his only son, Quinton, whom he had adopted with Anderson.
He opened the Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre and a Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum, where he displayed his memorabilia and sometimes lectured to drama students. His advice included keeping a sense of humor and knowing which scripts work best for you. The smarter kids, he told InJupiter Magazine in 2017, “ask me where the land mines are because I’ve stepped on them all.”
Associated Press writers Hillel Italie and the late Bob Thomas contributed to this report.
Intent on getting a big raise? You may have to quit your job
By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER
AP Economics Writer
Thursday, September 6
WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite one of the best job markets in decades, workers across the U.S. economy are struggling with a common frustration: What does it take to finally get a decent raise?
It turns out you might have to quit your job.
Americans who leave their employers to take a new job are enjoying pay raises that are one-third larger than raises for workers who stay put — a gap that has reached the widest point since the Great Recession.
At the same time, retail and restaurant workers are receiving more generous raises than manufacturing workers are.
And America’s CEOs are getting some of the biggest pay gains of all.
At a time when the average annual wage increase for U.S. workers as a whole remains surprisingly modest given the robust job market, those groups of workers are doing better than average.
Others aren’t faring as well. Pay raises for people who have stayed in the same job for the past year, for example, remain relatively stagnant. That trend has confounded some economists. Many had expected that companies would have to pay more to retain employees at a time when workers are harder to find and the unemployment rate, at 3.9 percent, is near a 50-year low.
Nationally, average hourly pay rose 2.7 percent in July from a year earlier, before adjusting for inflation. That is modest by historical standards. The last time unemployment was this low, in the late 1990s, pay raises for Americans as a whole averaged roughly 4 percent.
And once you factor in inflation, average hourly pay has actually declined slightly over the past 12 months.
With midterm elections looming, the Trump administration is pushing back against the notion that paychecks aren’t growing. In a report released Wednesday, the White House’s top economist, Kevin Hassett, asserted that pay is rising if you consider benefits such as health care, an alternative gauge of inflation and the impact of tax cuts.
Yet even by the White House’s own measure, wage increases have slowed over the past three years.
Here are some ways in which average pay growth varies depending on the category of worker:
FIND A NEW JOB, GET A BIG RAISE
It would seem fundamental: If you want a decent raise, find a new job. But it doesn’t always work that way. For the first six years after the 2008-2009 Great Recession, people who switched jobs received raises that were scarcely better than those for workers who stayed in their jobs.
But since then, the switchers have commanded steadily better raises than the stayers. In July, wages for job switchers grew 3.8 percent from a year earlier, compared with 2.9 percent for those who stayed behind, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. In February and March this year, that gap reached 1.7 percentage points, the widest disparity since August 2001.
Yet the figures also illustrate how pay is still lagging compared with previous periods of brisk job growth. Even the pay gains for job-switchers are relatively modest compared with periods in the past. Before the recession, job switchers received annual raises of nearly 5 percent. In the late 1990s, they topped 6 percent. Even adjusting for inflation, job switchers fared better in the late 1990s than they do now.
And for roughly three years now, average raises for workers who have stayed in their jobs have remained stuck below 3 percent.
“It’s interesting that in a labor market that is this tight, employers do not seem to be raising wages for workers who are staying,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist at the job search website Indeed. “That could imply they are not worried about workers being poached, which is surprising.”
Gimbel suggested that at least some workers might be staying in their jobs because of a growing use of “non-compete” agreements, which restrict workers from jumping to competitors. Such agreements have been used increasingly even in low-wage jobs such as fast-food work.
In addition, many job-switchers may have mastered high-tech and other skill sets that allow them to command higher wages as competition for such workers heats up.
LOWER-PAID WORKERS RECEIVE SOLID GAINS
For six years after the recession, the lowest-paid workers received the thinnest wage gains — and in several years their pay declined. Yet since 2015, they have clawed back some of those losses.
For the lowest-paid one-fifth of the workforce, wages rose 2.3 percent in 2017, adjusted for inflation, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. That topped the average for middle-income workers, whose pay gains inched up just 0.2 percent.
It’s also ahead of the richest one-tenth of workers, whose pay rose 1.9 percent. Low-paid workers also saw a huge gain in 2016 that ran far ahead of middle-income and wealthy employees.
What’s driving the outsize increases for lower-paid workers?
More than 20 states have raised their minimum wages above the federal minimum of $7.25, some of them substantially higher. The minimum is now $11 in California, for example, and $11.50 in Washington state.
The ultra-low unemployment rate has also helped. Many businesses say they are desperate to find workers. And in some lower-skilled industries, such as restaurants, they have to pay more to find staff.
“We’re seeing about as strong a labor market for less-skilled workers as we’ve seen in a really long time,” said Jason Furman, the top White House economist under President Barack Obama.
CEOs STILL RAKING IT IN
Even as poorer workers have fared better, CEOs, not surprisingly, have done best.
In 2017, the chief executives of the 350 largest publicly traded U.S. companies reported, on average, an increase in compensation of nearly 18 percent, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. That compares with a puny raise of just 0.3 percent for all other workers in the same industries. Both figures are adjusted for inflation.
Larry Mishel, senior economist at EPI, said CEO pay jumped largely because it is closely tied to the health of the stock market. The S&P 500 stock index soared 22 percent in 2017. Most CEO pay comes in the form of stock options, which are much more lucrative in a rising market.
That means a plummeting stock market can lower CEO pay, which fell nearly 30 percent in 2008, during the recession. Yet for perspective, the pay of CEOs of the largest firms still averaged nearly $11 million that year, according to the EPI’s figures.
In 2017, large-company CEOs made $18.9 million, on average. That is 312 times the average pay of workers in the same industries, which reached $62,431 last year.
SOLID GAINS FOR WHITES AND LATINOS
White Americans, on average, earn much more than African-Americans or Latinos. The gap between whites and Latinos has narrowed very slightly in the past three years as wage gains have begun to pick up across the economy.
For whites and Latinos pay rose 0.9 percent adjusted for inflation last year; for African Americans, it fell 0.5 percent. Latinos received the biggest raises in 2016; whites earned the most in 2015.
RESTAURANTS AND CONSTRUCTION TROUNCE MANUFACTURING
Workers in some industries have also done better. In July, restaurants and bars handed out raises of 4 percent from a year earlier, before taking inflation into account. Pay for construction workers increased 3.2 percent. Even retail workers’ pay grew 2.9 percent, slightly better than the average.
Yet for manufacturing workers, pay has risen just 1.2 percent in the past year even as hiring has accelerated. U.S. factories are increasingly using temporary workers, who typically receive less pay. Temp workers now make up roughly 12 percent of manufacturing workers, according to the EPI.
U.S. automakers are also now paying new and younger employees much less than older workers, likely contributing to lower overall pay.
Contact Chris Rugaber on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber
Opinion: Closing Argument on Farm Bill: Work Requirements in SNAP Will Reduce Poverty
By Robert Doar
With Congress considering adding work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), I have been reflecting on what I learned while running SNAP and other safety-net programs in New York City for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The case for work requirements begins with values. When it came to adults able to work, Bloomberg always emphasized what he learned from his parents: work was expected, and any job was better than no job. Work requirements also express the value that employment has benefits beyond a simple paycheck, that it is an essential component of individual and family well-being. They reflect the fundamental value that those who receive public assistance and can work, should work. It also happens to be what an overwhelming majority of Americans from both parties believe.
Managing government safety-net programs also made it clear that the only way out of poverty is through earnings. SNAP and other safety net programs can and do reduce material hardship, but for non-workers, receiving support from such programs alone is not enough to raise incomes above the poverty line. If people are to escape poverty, earnings must be part of the equation. Those of us in favor of work requirements are also in favor of work supports that combined with earnings from jobs have brought millions of Americans out of poverty, and could do even more in the future.
In experiments in Milwaukee, and Oregon, labor force participation rates increased (which should be a central goal in our current state of near-full employment), wages increased, and child poverty decreased as a result of work-first initiatives for welfare recipients.
But the best evidence we have for the success of work requirements is the dramatic national increase of about 15 percentage points in labor force participation among never-married mothers (from about 45 percent to about 60 percent) in the aftermath of 1996 Welfare Reform, which added work requirements to our cash welfare system.
While a healthy late-1990s economy, and the earned income tax credit played a role in poverty reduction, no credible scholar denies that work requirements were key. Despite later economic slowdowns, the poverty rate for households headed by single mothers (after accounting for taxes and transfers) never returned to pre-2000 levels. Today, it’s still below what it was in 1995 thanks to benefit programs that encourage and rewards recipients for working.
Today’s economy reinforces the power of work and earnings to help people escape poverty. The Census Bureau’s coming release of official poverty numbers will announce that poverty has dropped, possibly to historic lows, because more people who once did not work have gotten back to work and earnings. Sadly, this number could be even lower — if programs like SNAP and Medicaid did more to promote work.
While many who run these benefit programs believe that helping recipients find work is not their job, this only keeps the poor trapped in a cycle of poverty. Work requirements can change that.
Some experts worry about the potential harm of work requirements, but there is little evidence to back up their claims. A commonly expressed concern is that work requirements increase deep poverty, a claim that University of Chicago economist Bruce Meyer has proved to be unfounded. Using data from state administrative records, Meyer found that deep poverty is extremely rare, and has not increased meaningfully since the 1990s welfare reform. Instead, he found that about half of those classified as members of the “extreme poor” actually have incomes above the poverty line after accounting for safety net benefits.
Some caveats about the administration of these work requirements still apply. For those who are already working, proving compliance should be quick and easy. Children should be protected from their parent’s offenses, and not all benefits should be cut. Disability claims must be treated carefully, with allowances made for those who have applied for, but not yet been awarded, disability benefits. Jobs and job training should be a primary goal with broad options for how to meet requirements.
During the roughly seven-year period between the official end of the recession in 2009 and the return to pre-recession employment levels in 2016, the absence of work requirements contributed to high poverty rates, with labor force participation remaining at historic lows as programs like SNAP and Medicaid grew and subsidized the lack of work. It shouldn’t take this long for low-income families to recover from an economic downturn. If we pass work requirements, families won’t have to wait as long.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Robert Doar is the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at American Enterprise Institute. He was previously commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration, the city’s principal social services agency. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
September 7, 2018
Attorney General DeWine Warns of Grandparent Scams
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ahead of National Grandparents Day this Sunday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning families to beware of the “grandparent scam,” which has been reported by dozens of Ohioans in recent weeks.
The scam begins when a grandparent receives a call claiming the person’s grandchild is in trouble and in urgent need of money. The caller may claim the grandchild was in a car accident, caught with drugs, or put in jail, for example. The grandparent is asked to send money immediately, supposedly to pay a fine, attorney’s fees, or other costs.
“These con artists prey on a grandparent’s worst fears,” Attorney General DeWine said. “They claim the person’s grandchild has been in an accident or is in serious trouble, but it’s all a lie. We want people to be aware of the scam and to talk to their family about it.”
Many people who report the scam haven’t lost any money, but among those who have, the average reported loss is over $6,000 this year.
Victims commonly are told to pay using gift cards (by purchasing the cards and then reading the card numbers over the phone) or by wire transfer or cash. In some cases, con artists ask victims to tuck cash into pages of a magazine and then send the magazine. With these methods of payment, it is difficult to trace or recover the money once it’s been sent.
Grandparents who send money once likely will receive additional calls requesting more money. Scam artists also may encourage grandparents not to talk to other family members about the situation, making the scam harder to detect.
Tips to avoid the grandparent scam include:
Communicate with your family members. Talk to your family about scams and discuss how you would communicate during a true emergency. If you receive a call from a grandchild or another family member who claims to be in trouble, contact someone else (such as the grandchild’s parents) to determine if the person truly needs your help, even if you’ve been instructed not to contact anyone else. When in doubt, ask questions only your real family members would know how to answer, such as the last time you saw each other.
Limit the amount of information you share online. Don’t post upcoming travel plans or detailed personal information online, and encourage your family members to take similar precautions. Check your account privacy settings and limit who can view your information. Be aware that scammers may use information posted on social media or publicly available online to learn more about their targets and to make their ploys seem believable.
Be wary of unusual payment requests. If a caller demands that you pay over the phone using a gift card, pay via wire transfer, or pay by mailing cash, be skeptical. These are preferred payment methods for scammers because it is difficult to trace or recover the payment once it is provided.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office warns consumers about scams and offers a variety of educational materials, including a phone scams checklist.
Ohioans who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioProtects.org.
Maui’s tourism plan to discourage illegal vacation rentals
Friday, September 7
WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Maui officials have begun implementing a 10-year tourism strategic plan that includes efforts to discourage visitors from staying in illegal vacation rentals.
The Maui News reports the county’s Office of Economic Development and the Maui Visitors Bureau are developing a messaging plan geared for visitors to dissuade booking illegal vacation rentals.
Visitors will be encouraged to ask if short-term vacation rentals are legal, and they will be referred to the county’s website to help find legal accommodations.
The bureau also plans to advertise on popular tourism websites.
Teena Rasmussen, the economic development director, says short-term rental websites have caused tourists to enter every neighborhood on the island, causing frustrations for residents because of noise and congestion.
The tourism plan was unveiled in November and will continue through 2026.
Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com
Suicide Prevention Week – Talking It Out Can Save Lives
National Suicide Prevention Week begins on Sunday, September 9 and runs through the 15th. One of the warning signs is when people isolate themselves and find difficulty connecting with others. But by encouraging people to have conversations about mental health, lives can be saved.
Ken Yeager, Ph.D., director of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Stress Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program, offers advice on how to talk it out with someone you suspect may be suffering from depression.
Say something. While many people believe asking about depression will make it worse, the most effective way to develop a support system is to open the channels of communication.
Be there to support them. Instead of focusing on negatives of depression, make the conversation about how you can help.
Keep the individual’s best interests at heart. This helps soften your advice without seeming pushy. Say something like, “Would you be willing to talk to someone else and get a professional opinion? I’m not asking you to give up anything, I just want you to feel better.”
Offer your time to participate in someone’s daily life. Joining someone with depression in the activities they want to do will demonstrate your willingness to be part of their lives and long-term care.