Charlie Morgenstern 11 a.m., May 24
Joseph Brooks, commercial-jingle tunesmith, director, screenwriter, and composer of one of the more pestiferous pop tunes of this or any lifetime -- and accused casting-couch rapist -- is dead of an apparent suicide. He was 73.
Brooks began his musical career in the '60s, composing up-tempo advertising ditties for Pepsi-Cola ("You've Got a Lot to Live") and Maxwell House Coffee ("Good to the Last Drop Feeling"). He eventually shifted from high-energy, sixty-second jingles to a more mellow, decaffeinated tone. Brooks wrote, directed, produced and composed the music for the Columbia Pictures release You Light Up My Life (1977), a syrupy, cross-over cow pie that ignited both box office and record sales.
When the film opened, you could not go near a radio without hearing its familiar, buttery warble spewing forth. The tinny ballad topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts for ten consecutive weeks -- at that time the longest unbroken #1 streak in the magazine's history -- selling four million copies in the U.S. alone. It went on to take home a best original song Oscar® (what was the Academy thinking?) and, mercifully, proved to be a one-hit wonder for both Brooks and singer Debby Boone.
Lightning failed to strike twice. Even with Brooks assuming the starring role, his follow-up feature (If Ever I See You Again) tanked. There were a few more vanity productions, but for the longest while it appeared as though we would never see Joseph Brooks again.
In June 2009, Brooks plead not guilty to charges that he used Craigslist to lure wannabe actresses to his apartment with the promise of a lead role in an upcoming project. UK's "The Daily Mail" quoted prosecutors as saying, "He plied (11 women) with wine and forcibly raped them or used threats and coercive behavior to make them have sex with him."
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