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.Ben Affleck stars as
George Reeves in ''Hollywoodland''

Ben Affleck will play TV Superman George Reeves in the upcoming theatrical film “Hollywoodland.” The movie is based in part on the book "Hollywood Kryptonite" by Kashner and Schoenberger. Diane Lane will play Toni Mannix, the wife of a studio exec who .may have had an affair with Reeves, and Adrien Brody will play a detective investigating Reeve’s sudden, shocking death.

What really happened? Will we ever find out? Wait! Let me get my dial ...

George Reeves was born January 5, 1914 in Woolstock, Iowa. Known to film buffs as one of the red-haired Tarleton twins in "Gone with the Wind" (1939), and as Sgt. Maylon Stark in "From Here to Eternity" (1953), Reeves first starred as Superman in the 1951 feature film “Superman and the Mole Men.”

The Superman television series was put into production almost immediately after filming on "Mole Men” wrapped. The TV show debuted late in 1952, and, even in black and white, it became an immediate hit. In 1954, it became one of the first series to be filmed entirely in color.

Super-trivia: With the switch to more expensive color film in 1954, orders were given to shoot as few new effects scenes as possible. Most color footage of Superman flying had been filmed right-to-left.. When it became necessary for Superman to fly in the opposite direction, the footage was flopped, and a reversed "S" symbol is sometimes visible on Superman's super chest.

THE ADVENTURES OF GEORGE REEVES

Reeves went on to play Clark Kent/ Superman from 1952 to 1957, when filming was temporarily suspended. The show was a proven hit, and reruns were on TV continually, so the cast busied themselves while waiting for the call to return to work. Months went by, and eventually over a year, but the producers finally decided to call the cast back for another season. Then, on June 16, 1959, Superman fans of all ages, along with the entire nation and world, were thunderstruck by the news: George Reeves was dead! Still more shocking was the fact that Reeves had "apparently" shot himself -- and under some very mysterious circumstances.

“Truth, Justice and the American Way,” begins with Reeves (Affleck) dying of an "apparent suicide." His mother becomes suspicious, and hires a detective named Lamar Moglio (Brody) to investigate the case. .Lamar Moglio is a fictional character created for this film, but the name is similar to that of real-life detective Milo Speriglio, who did work on Reeves’ case for a time.

As the detective’s investigation proceeds, a series of flashbacks traces Reeves' career, and it slowly becomes clear that Reeves’ real life was a far cry from his squeaky-clean Superman image. He was decidedly NON-mild-mannered. Reeves liked to party! And drink. He loved hosting wild late-night gatherings at his home on Benedict Canyon, and enjoyed socializing in the L.A. club scene.

And get this: He had a long-running affair with a woman named Toni Mannix, the wife of notorious Eddie Mannix, an MGM executive who reportedly had ties to organized crime. Wow -- Reeves was sort of like a non-singing Frank Sinatra! Who knew?
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The story took a dark turn when Reeve decided to begin a new relationship. He broke up with Toni Mannix in 1958, and began seeing a woman named Lenore Lemmon (pictured right). He quickly fell in love with her. Meanwhile, Toni Mannix did not take being kicked to the curb by Reeves well. She was totally devastated by Reeves' abandonment. According to Lenore Lemmon, Mannix used to call Reeves repeatedly, at all hours of the day and night, sometimes up to twenty calls a day. And unfortunately for lover-.boy Reeves, there was no caller ID back then.

THE NIGHT OF JUNE 15th

Mannix' annoying calls continued until the night of June 15, 1959, when Reeves, Lemmon and two guests were partying at the actor's home. That fateful night, Reeves was reportedly happier than he had been in years. He had recently agreed to do another year of “Superman,” with a substantial raise. He was also scheduled to shoot a movie in Spain, and, best of all, he had proposed to new girlfriend Lenore Lemmon, and they planned to be married in just three days! This does NOT sound like a description of a man on the verge of killing himself.

After a wild evening of partying, Reeves called it a night and went upstairs to bed at about 1:15 AM. He had been drinking heavily all night, and had also taken painkillers for injuries he got in a recent car accident. His blood alcohol level was .27, well above the point .of being intoxicated. Suddenly, a shot rang out upstairs, and Reeve’s guests rushed upstairs. Fearfully, they entered his bedroom. Reeves was found dead, lying on his bed, naked, with a bullet hole in his right temple.

Was it a suicide? There seemed to be no other explanation. There was no sign of forced entry, and Reeves’ guests told police that suicide seemed to be the only answer. But were the guests covering up something? Were they telling EVERYTHING they knew? The deeper Moglio digs, the .more convinced he becomes that Reeves may have been murdered.

WAS IT REALLY SUICIDE ... OR MURDER?

Moglio uncovers numerous problems with the “suicide” theory. Two fresh bullet holes were found in the walls of the bedroom where Reeves’ body was found. There were no powder marks on the actor's wound, indicating that the gun would have to have been held several inches from his head before it was fired -- highly unusual in suicide cases.

Also, there were reportedly no fingerprints on the pistol, and, for some reason, Reeves’ hands were not tested for gunpowder residue. Finally. the police were not called for almost 45 minutes after Reeves' body was discovered. Reeves' mother held up cremation of her son’s body for three years while looking into unanswered questions surrounding the highly suspicious .death, but she passed away before she could prove her suspicions.

The upcoming Ben Affleck movie gets its title from the TV show’s opening lines, which describe Superman as a fighting a never-ending battle for “truth, justice and the American way.” This phrase is also the title of the autobiography of one of the two actresses who played Lois Lane on TV, Noel Neill, but this movie has nothing to do with that book. This movie is actually based largely on another book, titled “Hollywood Kryptonite” by Kashner and Schoenberger. Here are two industry reviews of “Hollywood Kryptonite”:

From Publishers Weekly: “In ‘Hollywood Kryptonite,’ a page-turning hybrid of bio and murder mystery, authors Kashner and Schoenberger entertainingly pick at the loose .ends and point their pens at a killer. Reeves, they show, was hardly as wholesome as his TV image implied. His life was filled with hard-drinking men, manipulative women, mafiosos and a career that plummeted like a comet after ‘The Adventures of Superman’ went off the air. The well-articulated backdrop of low-budget TV production only enhances the cheesy milieu, however. By laying out Reeves's life before solving the mystery of his death, the authors present the equivalent of a crisp black-and-white TV docudrama, and manage to evoke all the irresistibly creepy nostalgia of a bygone era.”

From Library Journal: “At the time of his death, Reeves had just ended a long-running affair with the wife of a powerful executive, who knew and tacitly approved. Authors Kashner and Schoenberger posit that Reeves was murdered on the orders .of the executive, incensed by Reeves's treatment of his wife. Even at 200 pages, this book seems clearly padded, and the writers' attempts at colorful prose are embarrassing. Still, ‘Hollywood Kryptonite’ is oddly compelling.”

WHAT DO LOIS AND JIMMY THINK OF ALL THIS?

Noel Neill and Jack Larson, who played Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, once agreed that foul play was indeed the cause of Reeves’ .death, but Larson later changed his mind and now says he believes Reeves DID commit suicide. Toni Mannix was a good friend of Larson’s, and he has stated emphatically that she definitely had absolutely nothing to do with Reeves' death.

Well reader, now you know some of the facts. Who killed George Reeves? Was it suicide, or murder? “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” stars Ben Affleck as George Reeves (here's some X-Trivia: Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman was originally set to play Reeves, but left the project due to other commitments.) Directed by Allen Coulter, from a script by Paul Bernbaum and Howard Korder, the movie is currently shooting, and will premiere sometime in 2006. God knows when. (Hmmmm ... so will "Superman Returns!" Is it a coincidence ... or part of a grand conspiracy? Reader, YOU DECIDE! >> que spooky music <<
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