James also has a tribute to his old pal, Chris Steinbrunner, the fella who PROGRAMMED WOR's movie shows for years (and was responsible for airing many of the great B-movies and European horror films that they'd screen), authored one of the first histories of fantasy and science fiction movies, produced many shows at Channel 9, was a vice-president with the Mystery Writers of America, won an Edgar-award, wrote jokes for Zacherley (!), contributed to THE JOE FRANKLIN SHOW for decades, helped run conventions (!) and did much, much more!
In Part Three of his Kong tribute there's some lovely material on Fay Wray and the Empire State building today.
There's family time coming up and I can't help but think of The Carol Burnett Show skit where Eunice and her family play Sorry!
Me-TV will have a New Year's Day That Girl marathon starting at 11am to 5 pm EST. That should be fun, That Girl is one of those sitcoms from back in the day that I can still enjoy.
The Burr Tillstrom Copyright Trust released Kukla, Fran and Ollie : The First Episodes Volume Two on Friday, December 16. It is once again being sold through Amazon.com. The last DVD was made from video copies of the kinescopes that Burr had produced before he died. This volume was created directly from the kinescopes. The majority of the shows are from 1949-1954, but the "extras" include some of the 5 minute "Kukla and Ollie" shows Burr did for NBC back in the early 60s. I love love loved the first edition!
I just watched just about every episode of Frazier over Netflix streaming during the last couple of weeks and was thoroughly entertained and laughing out loud all day while I worked.
Friday, December 23, 2011 - 7:36am
BONUS RARE PARADE VIDEO
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 11:59am
In 1973 Buster Keaton's masterpiece The General was released to art houses and the movie was booked in my little city, Greensboro, NC, at the Janus Theaters in 1974. I was a teenager and had never seen a Keaton film, my dad enjoyed them as a kid which prompted me to buy some 8mm film shorts so I had experienced those but to see Keaton on the big screen was a big thrill for me.
I was tremendously impressed watching The General with my father that Sunday afternoon, it was one of the rare times we did anything together outside the home. (We were back to the theater the next weekend when they screened The Bank Dick.)
For the 1970s screenings a new print of The General had been struck by Raymond Rohauer who owned the original negative. In the early-1960s he brought Buster Keaton with him to some well-received revival screenings. Keaton passed away in 1966, so for the 1970s revival Rohauer brought along Keaton's love interest in the film, Marion Mack. This screen beauty has been out of the acting side of the business since shortly after Keaton's comedy feature debuted in 1926, pursuing a writing career with her husband, B-movie producer Lewis Lewyn, before retiring in the 1960s. It took Rohauer years to finally find her.
At that sparsely attended Sunday screening in Greensboro Ms. Mack was gracious and as charming as she could be. She seemed to truly enjoy the praise for what was a brilliant comedic performance. One of my favorite gags in the film was her throwing out the knotted wood as not good enough for the fire, and I was happy to tell her that. She shared some stories from the set, we were fascinated to hear what Keaton was like in real life and surprised at the .
The General is arguably the finest and funniest silent film ever made. If you haven't seen it you should, it's probably the best film ever made about the Civil War, near perfect in every sense.
It may sound odd given its current revered status but it destroyed Keaton's career when The General flopped at the box office and critics savaged it. As a result, Keaton was never again able to make films the way he wanted, the results were catastrophic for his fans.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 10:36am
Light on pretension, long on facts and anecdotes, Berman provides a sweeping look at one of Hollywood's most respected, most talented but least remembered superstars.
In case you don't know this legendary performer, Ed Wynn became known in the radio days as the Texaco Fire Chief, the star of one of radio's most popular variety shows. This after a successful career in Vaudeville. He was as big a star as Bob Hope or Jack Benny during the glory days of audio entertainment but his persona was a lot more loquacious and frenetically bizarre.
Hence the 'Fool' appellation as opposed to being categorized as a comedian or a clown. They're different things, as evidenced by this LIFE magazine cover from 1950, shot when Ed Wynn was making the transition to the new medium of television. It wasn't until Jim Carey came along decades later that the public embraced such an extreme Fool again.
Wynn had limited success on the small screen at first but quickly and unexpectedly made an unlikely transition to a second career as a dramatic actor. A brilliant one at that, if you ever saw the Twilight Zone episode 'One for the Angels' where a small time salesman is visited by Death and has to get his priorities in order - that was Ed Wynn. In fact, Serling wrote that first season episode especially for the actor. He was also cast as the old man who thinks he'll die if his grandfather clock stops ticking in another Twilight Zone storyline, 'Years Without Slumbering.'
Illustrated with plenty of lively pictures, The Perfect Fool: The Life and Career of Ed Wynn shines a light into the musty forgotten crevices of the entertainment business and the result is a solid, entertaining, and detailed biography of a seminal American entertainer. A time capsule of an earlier form of entertainment, classic TV lovers will enjoy Berman's coverage of Wynn's innovative television productions and will appreciate the breezy tone that makes this book such a satisfying read.
Monday, December 19, 2011 - 6:56am
HOLIDAY MUSICAL NUMBERS
Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:15am
I caught an episode of The Exes which follows Cleveland on TV Land and it's clear that lightning is not going to strike twice for the network. They've launched 3 sitcoms to follow Cleveland (that I remember) and they all tanked, all with good reason. It's clear from the pilot for The Exes that the everyone is trying way too hard, the actors and the laugh track are pushing way into the red.
Friday, December 16, 2011 - 6:03am
Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 9:23am
Here's a first look at The Dark Knight Rises.
Ed Asner's career is hot again, he's been upgraded to series regular on Hawaii Five-0 and will reunite with former co-stars Betty White and Mary Tyler Moore on Hot in Cleveland. The storyline will run next summer when TV Land will roll out some new episodes. Stunt casting is actually routine on this show, it's one of the perks of watching. Jane Leeves got together with Frasier co-star John Mahoney, Valerie Bertinelli reunited with her One Day at a Time co-star Bonnie Franklin and Wendie Malick does the same with Just Shoot Me! co-star Laura San Giacomo in the December 14 episode.
ION Television has acquired all seven seasons (156 episodes) of the hit crime drama "Cold Case."
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 10:18am
GREAT CONVERSATION ABOUT SHOW BUSINESS IN THE 1970s
The interview starts with a portion of the sisters singing in concert and they get a chance to tell some of the amazing stories from the book Beyond Our Wildest Dreams. Stories about the last glory days of Las Vegas and working with show business legends like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima to name a few. Ed is a fantastic interviewer and extremely knowledgeable, it's rare to have a show where show business folks get to talk at length.
Monday, December 12, 2011 - 8:08am
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