Story By: G.H. Harding
Benedict Cumberbatch

RUNT RETURNS TO NYC --- Talk about irascible personalities, Philadelphia’s own Todd Rundgren must rank in the Top 5. I first became of the Runt (from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania) when his first single “We Gotta’ Get You A Woman” topped the charts back in 1970. His double album Something/Anything was so good, so brilliant, he may well have set himself a bar then that was hard to top.

So many brilliant albums followed (Hermit Of Mink Hollow; A Wizard A True Star; Todd; Nearly Human; Faithful) albums followed, including a new band called Utopia, that confused as many fans as he made, yet made some brilliant music.

Production projects with The New York Dolls, Hall & Oates, Badfinger, XTC, Patti Smith and Grand Funk Railroad (!!??) followed, everything bearing his hallowed mark. Several years back, he and bass-mate Kasim Sulton, joined The New Cars and I saw several shows that were absolutely stunning. One, at NYC’s late-lamented China Club, he even performed one of my all-time-Todd favorites “Black Maria.” 

Now, living in Hawaii, he returns to New York, B. B. King’s, for two shows Sunday and Monday. Must see music for sure.

FOR JACK --- Over the weekend we learned that the legendary singer and bassist of Cream, Jack Bruce, had passed away at the age of 71. While Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker immediately took to social media to pay his respects to Bruce and his family, Clapton was notoriously silent. It's no secret that the trio were not on the best of terms.

Monday, however, Clapton simply posted the following on his Facebook page:

DR. BENEDICT --- Marvel has found its Doctor Strange.

Benedict Cumberbatch is in final talks to play the star role in the studio's latest superhero film, according to sources and London's Telegraph has just now reported the role has been confirmed.

Some of Hollywood's biggest names have been linked to the Scott Derrickson-directed flick in recent months, including Joaquin Phoenix, Jared Leto, Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling. 

Phoenix had reportedly reached the negotiation stage to play the powerful neurosurgeon-turned-Sorcerer Supreme, until talks fell through earlier this month, over the number of movies Marvel wanted the actor to commit to. 

Cumberbatch had been an early contender for the role, then came back in the running.

The 38-year-old Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness star will play the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats in the upcoming movie, slated for release in 2016.

The character of Doctor Strange was first hatched by Marvel Comics veterans Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963.

In the comic books, Strange teams up with Thor, the Avengers, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to fight enemies.

Marvel has already teased him in several films, including Thor and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, fuelling speculation he'll appear in future Avengers sequels.

Cumberbatch's geek-friendly casting has set Twitter afire, with some users cracking jokes and others expressing their excitement.

Veteran comic book writer J.M. DeMatteis described it as a perfect casting.

"This may be the best comics-to-screen casting since Robert Downey as Iron Man," he posted.

Meanwhile, some wondered whether another franchise was the right move for the acclaimed actor.

"Just remember, for each Marvel movie Benedict Cumberbatch is in, we will lose three or four quality Benedict Cumberbatch performances," one wrote.

Cumberbatch's schedule, which includes his Emmy-award winning role in the BBC's Sherlock Holmes series and theatre productions, will reportedly dictate the success of the deal.

He will next be seen in The Imitation Game and voices characters in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Penguins of Madagascar and Warner Brothers The Jungle Book.

TRUE KITSCH --- Actor Taylor Kitsch said in a recent interview that he will be portraying one of four lead characters in the upcoming second season of True Detective. Kitsch said that was so elated to be involved with the series, in fact, that he had been turning down roles in anticipation of joining the other actors. HBO would not confirm or comment on Kitsch.

The actor said that the show would be filming in Los Angeles and that the plot would take place in the present day, though he felt that an old-school vibe was present.

"[True Detective show runner Nic Pizzolatto] is obviously incredibly smart and passionate, so that rubs off," Kitsch said, recalling a conversation he'd had with the show creator. "I can't fucking wait to hit camera. So I'm excited. I loved that first season of it so much. It's just unlike anything I've seen in – I don't know when. And it was so grounded. It could really happen. This is very similar, and I love that. It makes it more readable. It makes these guys more real. Nowadays, it takes fucking balls to stand by that and do it that way."

Previously, HBO confirmed that Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell would be two of the four second-season leads. The eight-episode arc would center on three police officers, one of whom is Farrell, who work with a career criminal (Vaughn) as they attempt to work through a conspiracy that arose in the wake of a murder. The actor who will play the fourth lead has yet to be confirmed.

CLOSING NOTES --- This season's episodes of NBC’s The Blacklist have been uniformly hard to follow; what with so much narrative going on pretty much non-stop. Monday’s episode, The Mombasa Cartel, settled things down a tad and was the best ep so far this season. The way James Spader chews the scenery is positively chilling. Guest star Peter Fonda held court with him for a scene and it was like a master class. I think the writers have come up with so many plots going on at once, they've scarified a bit of clarity … 

In case you wondered, Showtime's Homeland has been a bit of a mess this season thus far. With Damien Lewis, the bar was set so high and he was so good, that, now without him, it's like a somewhat different show. Mark my words, Brody will return next season. How? They'll figure it out; don't forget, Bobby Ewing dreamed a whole season of Dallas way back when ...

Georgia Dolenz, Micky Dolenz’s daughter, and her comedy troupe with Rebecca Warm and Sheila Carrasco, We’re Having A Panic Attack is having their next show Saturday, December 6th at the Acme Theater in L. A. ...

Just caught 18-year old Ella Henderson performing on the Today Show ... wow! She reminds me of Adele and Duffy, but just sensational. More on this great new name next time.