Friday, June 29, 2007

Joel Siegel 1943-2007

Joel Siegel was my first writing partner. As I detailed in this blog, we were in the same Army Reserve unit together in the early 70s and wrote the libretto for an insane army retention musical. Even in those days, when facial hair was not allowed, Joel insisted on keeping his moustache. Once a year we had to fire weapons and he refused on principle. Joel Siegel was the real Hawkeye Pierce.

At the time, Joel was writing pieces for the LA TIMES Sunday magazine and doing commentaries on alternative rock station KMET. Somehow from that he got an on air job at WCBS in New York reviewing movies and theater. The job actually came through while we were in army summer camp together at Ft. Carson, Colorado. I remember saying when he announced it, “How???” and he replied, “I don’t know. Looks?”

But it was clear how – talent. In great abundance. Joel had a gift for writing, an infectious enthusiasm, and a wonderful presence on camera. You just liked and believed him.

And he was just being himself.

I would sometimes get together with Joel when I was in New York. And give him shit for hosting red carpet shows. For years I eagerly awaited his goofy Christmas cards. An example would be a picture of Joel and George Foreman with the caption “From our family to yours”.

Joel was the only movie reviewer infinitely more talented than the artists he reviewed. And if I had to sum up the life of Joel Siegel I would say “Masterpiece. Four stars. The perfect blend of humor and insight. I wanted it to go on forever.”

21 comments:

The Crutnacker said...

I had no idea he was even sick. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend.

RAC said...

I am so sorry to hear about this. He was my favorite reviewer and I loved the way he would get so enthusiastic about a good film. A sad day for all of us. We'll miss you, Joel Siegel!!!

maven said...

Sorry to hear about his passing. He always seemed so enthusiastic about the movies reviewed (even if he hated them). I, too, did not even know he was sick. I also didn't know that you worked with him when you were just starting out.

Anonymous said...

Let the loss of Joel we all feel translate into an appreciation of and kindness to others we can show tomorrow. God bless him.

CareShare Network said...

May Mr. Siegel rest in peace.

Ian said...

I was surprised - and saddened - to read earlier today about Mr. Seigel's passing. He clearly loved his work and brought a lot of smiles to those around him. He will be missed.

shecanfilmit said...

Whenever he popped on the screen to give a movie review, I put down what I was doing and listened. I had no idea he was that sick - it's very sad.

Special Sam said...

Very sorry to hear about your friend.

Elayne said...

I'm sorry for your loss, and that I won't be able to see Siegel any more; I always found him pleasant viewing and very insightful. Please extend condolences to his family.

Mary Stella said...

Condolences to all of Mr. Siegel's family, friends, and colleagues.

Mr. Hollywood said...

Besides the reviews and his presence on TV for 30 years, his memorial should be a beautiful piece of writing, a book for his son Dylan. Truly exceptional. Truly moving. A fine man leaves and we are all left with a large hole in our lives.

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TJ (Joshua) said...

The only critic also nominated for a Tony as well, if I recall . . .

DodgerGirl said...

He always seemed like a wonderful guy.

ajmilner said...

Joel Siegel wrote jokes for Bobby Kennedy during his 1968 presidential campaign. Several summers earlier while in college, he hitchhiked across Europe with a bunch of students from LA -- two of whom were Harry Shearer and Terry Gilliam. He always had a way of attracting quality.

Threm said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for the lost of your friend. He was a heckuva good reviewer.

Anonymous said...

I was so saddened to hear of Joel Siegel's passing. He was truly loved here in the NY/Metro Area and the world by people of every nationality. Credible with a unique twist of humor. My condolences to his family and friends.

Michael said...

Let's celebrate Joel Siegel's life by heading to the movies! Tranformers looks fabulous and I'm sure Joel would have loved it too!

This Girl said...

word.

pieman said...

i remember hearing joel's commentaries on kmet-fm around the early 70's...kmet-fm was a progressive rock station in la at the time...joel would be heard during their irregularly scheduled newscasts...i was involved with the griffith park love-ins at the same time...
when i relocated to nyc, i stumbled onto joel at the bob dylan concert at nassau coliseum in 1974,,,,i would run into him all over nyc over the long years....
its sad that such a charismatic newscaster is no longer with us
aron pieman kay
http://www.pieman.org