Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game winning streak in 1974."

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. Click the Book to read the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information.

Over Her Dead Body (3/10)

by Tony Medley

There have been some funny movies about spirits to come out of Hollywood. Cary Grant was an angel in “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947). Of course the best were the Topper movies in the late ‘30s-early ‘40s. And, more recently, Warren Beatty’s “Heaven Can Wait” (1978), which was a remake of 1941’s “Here Comes Mr. Jordan.” These were well-written, funny, entertaining comedies, all of which centered around supernatural creatures like ghosts and angels.

Now comes writer-director Jeff Lowell, making his feature film debut with a story of an unlikable, bitchy young woman, Kate (Eva Longoria Parker), who gets killed on her wedding day and then comes back to harass the fledgling spiritualist, Ashley (Lake Bell) who is falling for Kate’s fiancé, Henry (Paul Rudd). One thing that is clear at the outset: Longoria Parker is no Constance Bennett (Marion Kerby in the first two “Topper” films), who is the standard against whom all female ghosts are measured.

There is a line right at the beginning when Henry’s sister, Chloe (Lindsay Sloane) tells Henry, “You don’t smile.” That aptly described my situation throughout this film.

The main problem with the film is that the script just isn’t very funny. But it’s made worse by Longoria Parker’s presence that just rubbed me the wrong way every time she appeared on the screen. Just to start out with, compounding her lack of comedic talent, she is covered with so much pancake makeup, who knows what she really looks like?

Kate gets killed while setting up for her wedding by a falling frozen statue. She’s so unreasonable that the angel who instructs her about what her afterlife is about walks out on her (well, she actually just fades out), so Kate finds herself back on earth as a ghost without knowing what her mission is.

Chloe wants Henry to snap out of the funk into which he has naturally descended after Kate’s death (from what I saw of Kate, he should have felt a wonderful relief), so she introduces him to Ashley, who really doesn’t know what she’s doing as a spiritualist (she is also a cateress to make ends meet), to see if she can get Henry back in touch with Kate. There’s a lot of meshugaas that goes on.

The vacuity of the film is epitomized by a “B” story revolving around Ashley’s assistant, Dan (Jason Biggs).  This is thrown in near the end, but the way Ashley handles it indicates that she’s as much of a boob as Kate. Since Dan is apparently attracted to both of these severely flawed women, he deserves whatever he gets.

Eventually Kate appears to Ashley and the fun should begin. It doesn’t, and more’s the pity because in other hands this could have been pretty funny. As it is, Norman Z. McLeod, Constance Bennett, Roland Young, Alan Mowbray, and Co. must be turning over in their graves to see this is what their brilliance in the first two “Topper” films has wrought.

January 29, 2008