Sam Shepard, 1943-2017: Sam Shepard, legendary Pulitzer-winning writer, Oscar-nominated actor, musician and iconoclast, died at his home near Midway, Ky., last Thursday, says The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Reuters and the A.V. Club. He was 73. A spokesperson for the family announced his death on Monday.

He wrote 44 plays, including “Buried Child,” which earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1979. He appeared in 55 films, including 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” for which he received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role as Col. Chuck Yeager.

To look at the man and his work is a mashup of two uniquely American forces: the Jazz Cowboy. The power of a Smith and Weston and the grace and elegance of a saxophone echoing from two apartments below as the midnight air tucks itself in for the night.

Mr. Shepard died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Jeffrey D. Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D., laments the difficulty with treatment for ALS for Fortune. Dr. Rothstein notes 90 percent of ALS cases happen “out of the blue”; 10 percent it appears is passed down through a defective gene. It’s characterized by the inability to move muscles, swallow and weakens the breathing muscles, which makes the disease fatal.

Deadline says “Broadway will dim the lights for Sam Shepard,” but the world is already a little bit dimmer with him gone.

The New Yorker and Rolling Stone ran Patti Smith’s remembrance of her deep friendship with Mr. Shepard and his final hours:

Long, slow days passed. It was a Kentucky evening filled with the darting light of fireflies, and the sound of the crickets and choruses of bullfrogs. Sam walked to his bed and lay down and went to sleep, a stoic, noble sleep. A sleep that led to an unwitnessed moment, as love surrounded him and breathed the same air. The rain fell when he took his last breath, quietly, just as he would have wished. Sam was a private man. I know something of such men. You have to let them dictate how things go, even to the end. The rain fell, obscuring tears. His children, Jesse, Walker, and Hannah, said goodbye to their father. His sisters Roxanne and Sandy said goodbye to their brother.

Ed Harris, who starred in Shepard’s “Cowboy Mouth,” co-written with Patti Smith, and later “Fool for Love,” remembers Shepard in The Guardian, alongside a few other Shepard stalwarts. Kathy Burke, who played opposite Harris in “Fool for Love” recalls a conversation she had with Shepard while directing his play “The God of Hell” in London:

ME: I’m so sorry I’ve let you down. They hate what I’ve done with it here.

SAM: Please don’t apologise, Kathy, they hated it over here, too!

The New York Times has a rundown of “Where to Stream 5 Great Sam Shepard Movies.”

Richard Gere, his costar from that first movie up there, “Days of Heaven” shared his memories of Sam Shepard with The Hollywood Reporter.

Writer/director Phillip Kaufman recalls his time with Sam Shepard; that comes to us from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Mr. Kaufman directed the second movie listed up there, “The Right Stuff,” for which Mr. Shepard received an Academy Award nomination.

Ethan Hawke, who worked with Mr. Shepard on “Hamlet,” No. 4 up there, remembers him for Entertainment Weekly.

A new documentary, “California Typewriter,” showcases the writer at work, says Yahoo! News. He says, “I just never got along with the computer screen. It’s somehow removed from the tactile experience. When you go to ride a horse, you have to saddle it. When you go to use a typewriter, you have to feed it paper.”

Here’s an excerpt featuring Mr. Shepard:

The film opens on Aug. 18 in New York and Aug. 25 in Los Angeles. I’ll keep an eye out for a Louisville showing, should that pop up.

USA Today asks — and you may be wondering, too — “Where – and why – did Sam Shepard live in Kentucky?” Same as a lot of people: horses.

He purchased Totier Creek farm in 2000 where he bred horses and cattle and enjoyed the respect and privacy the Midway community offered him.

Said Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift:

“Sam was a well-respected artist and our community treated him as one of our own. We all understand that he loved Midway partly because we treated him like everyone else and we always tried to respect his privacy.”


Ready for Takeoff: U.S. News & World Report (AP), Salon, The Hill and NPR report on a new ad from a new candidate in Kentucky. Retired Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, Democrat, is running against Republican Andy Barr for the House seat in Kentucky’s sixth district (Lexington, Richmond, Frankfort).

Insider had coverage on Tuesday.

Her ad is gaining all kinds of attention because it’s all kinds of badass. Here you go:

On Wednesday, Lt. Col McGrath appeared on CNN. I have that for you, too:

I don’t fully agree with that video’s title, mind you. It’s just the only one I could find that I could embed.

What I will say is you can tell it’s all still a little new and she’s going to want to be better prepared for questions she has to know are coming. This wasn’t a particularly tough interview and she was a little more pausey and dodgy than she needed to be, particularly on health care, which is a signature issue for her.

She does a better job with that in the NPR interview a day later. You can compare:

I like single-payer. So let me take this back. If we have the structure that we have right now. If we were to start over and have to start over from scratch, say this was 10 years ago — I think we now know that single-payer would be the way to go.

But the reality is, we don’t have that. We have a large infrastructure of health care in America. And maybe what we ought to do is try to shore up Obamacare and make it work. Make the holes that are in it — and there are some real holes; no one has ever said the Affordable Care Act was perfect — but let’s not lie and say it’s failing. It’s not failing.

Which says to me she’s going to be a really quick study, as one might expect with her background, and get more at ease and natural as she goes. Supporters are lauding her passion and determination. If she gets her interview skills up to speed, Mr. Barr would be wise to keep an eye on the skies.

Mother May I?: Things sure seem to be heating up as we approach the Sept. 15 release date for Darren Aronofsky’s horror thriller “mother!” This week, for instance, saw the release of the first teaser trailer, says Variety, Vanity Fair, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter and USA Today. And even though you don’t see much, there’s still plenty to get creeped out by until the full trailer arrives on Aug. 8.

Here’s the trailer:

The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple whose relationship heads south with the arrival of some uninvited guests. That’s still about the only description anybody’s giving you on the story.

In addition to the trailer, Entertainment Weekly tells us there’s a new poster out there too, this one featuring Javier Bardem:

Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed the artist of the “mother!” posters as James Jean, who made a name for himself illustrating the covers for Vertigo’s “Fables.” He’s good at his job:

So the press for “mother!” is heating up and as it does, so too are Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Aronofsky. The loathed E! says the two are “getting serious.”

According to a “source”:

“Things are getting serious with them. They are so in love with each other.”

“Jennifer always cracks jokes and Darren just gets her humor. They laugh all the time!”

Listen, you can’t get that kind of in-depth reporting just anywhere. And hats off to the anonymous source for speaking up, and I can totally understand their reluctance to go on the record saying a couple who are dating actually like each other.


Here’s something you may not know: You can watch television for free right in your own home and all you need is a simple pointy tube or two called antenna.

The Wall Street Journal cites a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters that revealed 29 percent of Americans — almost a third — are unaware local television is available for free over the airwaves.

So two-thirds of you thought I was being snarky a paragraph ago; the other third would like to know more about this antenna of which I speak.

The Journal’s headline targets millennials, but the survey makes no such distinction.

That first guy is a writer for CNN for goodness sake.

I bring this up to Megan this morning. I say, “Wow. A third of Americans seems high to me. I wonder what’s …”

And then I notice she has this sheepish look on her face.

“I mean, I never thought about it because my family always had cable,” she says, defending against an accusation I hadn’t realized I made. “And all my friends had cable, so I just thought that’s the way it worked until a couple of years ago.”

The knowledge is catching on. Antenna sales are way up, and according to the Consumer Technology Association, sales are projected to rise another 7 percent in 2017.

See you next week.