Composer Lalo Schifrin is releasing his soundtrack to the 1976 adventure film Sky Riders on his own label, Aleph Records on July 28. The movie is a largely forgotten, but very under-rated, top-notch action saga with Robert Culp as an American industrialist living in Greece, whose wife (Susannah York) and young children are kidnapped by terrorists who hold them in a virtually inaccessible mountaintop retreat. When police efforts to rescue them fail, Culp turns to his wife's eccentric former husband, a soldier-of-fortune played by James Coburn, who devises an audacious plot to penetrate the terrorist lair using his team of hang-gliders. The film affords some spectacular aerial photography over Greece, and the action is complimented by one of Schifrin's best (but least-heard) scores of the 1970s. The Maestro combines invigorating action themes with traditional Greek music to give the CD a unique quality. Now if we can just convince Fox to finally release this worthy movie on DVD...To order the soundtrack, click here
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continues its controversial changes to forthcoming Oscar broadcasts. Honorary Oscars, such as the Hersholt and Thalberg awards, will no longer be part of the ceremony and will be presented at a separate black tie dinner. This may please the unsophisticated crowd who don't even know who these legends are, but is sure to alienate classic movie purists who count these awards as a highlight of the broadcast. The policy change is further proof that the purpose of the broadcast has less to do with honoring the right people than it does with getting ratings. If the policy had been in place in recent years, movie fans would have been denied such emotional highlights as seeing Sidney Lumet, Peter O'Toole, Jerry Lewis and many others receiving their lifetime achievement awards. All this to make more time to squeeze in the stars of Transformers 2? The Academy is also tweaking the Best Song category rules in a way that may result in the complete absence of nominees in any given year. Given the quality of what's been nominated recently, it's hard to argue with this plan. For more click here
Variety has reviewed director Michael Mann's Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as Depression era gangster legend John Dillinger. The verdict is mixed, as reviewer Todd McCarthy says the production values are fine, the script is intelligent but Depp's portrayal of Dillinger is too restrained and under-played. To read click here
The critically-trashed Transformers 2 showed that audiences preferred brawn over brains this weekend, as the action packed, S/FX-laden movie opened to a huge gross of $200 million in the North American market. To put that into perspective, the highest grossing films this year are Up and Star Trek, both of which have grossed approximately $250 million to date. The new Transformers will overtake those grosses in just a week. For more click here
Predictions that the Jackson family would make a circus out of Michael's death are coming true, though even I didn't think it would occur before the pop legend was interred. The family patriarch, Joe Jackson, has shocked even hardened reporters with an interview last night at the BET awards show and in a press conference today by using the media spotlight to plug a new record label he has established. Joe Jackson tried to imply that he was responding to CNN reporter Don Lemon's questions about his business plans, but Lemon played the interview today again to prove that his question was only about plans for Michael's funeral. Instead, Joe Jackson made an awkward promotion for his new label and introduced his business partner, who had to remind Jackson what the name of the new label was. The situation was repeated this afternoon when Jackson made some rambling statements at a press conference in which he cheerily promoted the new record label again. He again implied he was responding to a question from Lemon about his "plans". This prompted Lemon to say on air to CNN anchor Ali Velshi that no such question was ever asked of Mr. Jackson. Lemon then took the extraordinary step of saying outright that "one member of the Jackson family" was personally turning the death of his son into a circus, even as other members of the family were intent on mourning.There was no mystery as to who Lemon was referring to.
Joe Jackson, who was accompanied by the ubiquitous "Reverend" Al Sharpton, was then brought before the microphones again after apparently having been told that his comments were tasteless. (When Al Sharpton is held up as a paragon of good taste, you know you've crossed the line.) Jackson again offered a weak and rambling explanation, and was all smiles despite the fact that his son's death was the reason for him being on-camera. He said he mourns Michael's loss inwardly, not outwardly, apparently in answer to those who have criticized his seemingly jovial demeanor while on camera.. He also made reference to "my publicist" and said he knew that "we" are loved the world over. Funny, I don't recall seeing any kids wearing Joe Jackson t shirts. The frenzy is only beginning...and here's a bit of unsolicited advice for the Jackson family: put a lot of miles between papa and the nearest microphone. - Lee Pfeiffer
This is regarding the decision by A.M.P.A.S. to increase the number of best picture nominees to from five to ten. In my view this is going to really
water down the value of the Best Picture Oscar. I'm having trouble
thinking of ten Oscar worthy movies each year, especially over the last
decade. I could give you ten worthy movies in 1939 or 1974. But since
2000, most movies winning the Best Picture prize would only get
technical awards back in the 1970s. There are a lot of reasons for
this but the primary one is that from a creative standpoint Hollywood
is bankrupt. (So is Broadway, but that's the Tony's problem and I
don't really care about them.)
It has been suggested that this
change in Academy policy is to get higher television ratings.
Increasing the number of competing movies will make the Oscar telecast
longer. Unless, of course acceptance speeches are whittled down to 15
seconds. Maybe they can dump the monologue. I know it's a staple of
television, but the Oscars aren't Conan O'Brien. Being a life long fan
of the movies, I've always held them in higher esteem.
year's Oscar-cast being one of the lowest rated in history, many people
said that if the Academy would nominate more movies the general public
is interested in seeing, the ratings might go up. That may be true,
but I don't want the Academy nominating "The Hangover" for Best Picture
just to try and inflate the ratings. What needs to be done with the
Oscar telecast is is a trimming down of non-essential things to improve
the show's pacing. How's this for starters, eliminate the monologue
and all dance numbers. Then take the 5 best song nominees and condense
them into one four or five minute montage. Use the music from the
soundtrack and play it under clips from the movie. That alone will
save 12 to 15 minutes.
As the new Star Trek film surpasses the box-office gross of all its predecessors, critic William Bradley - a dyed in the wool Trekker- reflects back on the history of the series and how its recent rebirth mirrors that of the James Bond franchise. He provides plenty of interesting film clips of how Trek continues to influence everything from pop culture to politics. (President Obama recently gave the Vulcan salute on two occasions at one event!) To read click here
Billy Mays, the seemingly omnipresent pitchman seen all over American TV, has died at age 50. The stocky Mays had parlayed his "spiel" of in-your-face promotions for household cleansers and other products into a virtual trademark. Clad in his familiar blue shirt and tan trousers, the stocky, bearded Mays would wake viewers out of their stupors by literally shouting about the quality of his products. In a recent profile on a major TV show, it became clear that Mays had legions of fans who would mob him for autograph and flatter him by reciting his ads verbatim. For others, his bombastic approach caused them to frantically search for the mute button on their remote control. By all accounts, however, Mays was a likable man who relished his unusual status as a celebrity pitchman. Even those who didn't like his TV persona had to confess admiration for the way he built himself into a one-man industry. He had also just premiered his cable TV show Pitchmen in which he evaluated prospective new products for late night TV marketing. Mays was on a flight that had a rough landing in Tampa yesterday, though it isn't confirmed that incident might have had anything to do with his death.
Mays is the latest celebrity to die in a week that has already seen the passing of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.
Like most people of my generation, I can remember where I was when I heard the news that Elvis Presley had died. I was in a tacky souvenir shop in the beach resort of Seaside Heights, New Jersey when the announcement came on the radio. Like anyone who had grown up with Elvis as one of the dominant pop culture figures of our time, I felt a sense of loss over the fact that the world had lost a great artist. However, I was shocked when friends of mine began to tell me how emotionally devastating the news was. A female friend said she couldn't cope with the sense of loss and a number of my others friends immediately went out and bought an assortment of Elvis albums. All of this would have been understandable if any of these people had idolized The King, but, in fact, none of them had ever mentioned his name to me prior to news of his death. To most of us twenty-somethings, Elvis had long ago lost his "street cred" as an innovative entertainer. Granted, he worked hard and put on a great show, but he had been content to live off past glories and pick the low hanging fruit of being a Vegas attraction. Still, upon news of his death, millions of people who barely knew he was still performing became Elvis fanatics overnight. The irony is that The King earns more in death than he ever did in life.
I mention all of this because of the inevitable fact that the same scenario will be played out regarding Michael Jackson.Although he still maintained an enormous world-wide following, for most of the general public, he was a punch line on a late night comedy show. Yet, the beatification process has already begun. It's one thing to acknowledge Jackson's well-earned reputation as a master performer and musical genius, but the news media is making Jackson sound like Mother Theresa. The immediate aftermath of a man's death is not the time to assault his reputation. Jackson's scandalous behavior in many aspects of his life has been amply chronicled elsewhere. However, one has to question the emotional stability of anyone who is now indulging in the world-wide mania for Jackson memorabilia. It stands to reason that virtually none of these people could have been induced to purchase this junk just two days ago. What comfort does it give someone to jump on a bandwagon and become an instant loyalist to a man they had virtually no interest in up until his death? It's a curious phenomenon, but one we should be used to by now. The Times of London reports that sales of Jackson's music and memorabilia is skyrocketing around the world. Why? Most of us probably already own the good songs he made (and Thriller is as standard as furniture in most households) So what motivates a person to go out and buy the second-rung music? Does one really get a sense of personal worth from wearing a cheesy T shirt commemorating Jackson, even though it was ground out by an opportunist within minutes of his death? Given Jackson's propensity for the outlandish, he would probably be complimented by all this - after all, in his world, any attention was better than being ignored. However, for many of these people, as of a few days ago, Jackson was as relevant to the contemporary music scene as Liberace. The international news media predictably deemed that there was no other story in the world worth covering than Jackson's life and career. Iran on the brink? Who cares? The health care debate in America? Big news a few days ago, now irrelevant. Violent eruptions in Iraq on the verge of the U.S withdrawal from urban centers?Yawn... The only one grateful for this is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the Amelia Earhart of politicians, whose bizarre disappearance and related sex scandal pushed him off the front pages.
The troubled forthcoming Broadway musical adaptation of Spiderman is finally getting some positive buzz. Evan Rachel Wood has been cast as Peter Parker's girlfriend Mary Jane Watson and Tony Award winner Alan Cumming will play the villainous Green Goblin.The casting is good so far but still...Spiderman with music????
Allen once said Ingmar Bergman was the greatest filmmaker since the invention
of the cinema, and his favorite of the many masterpieces created by the auteur
is The Seventh Seal (originally
released in Sweden in 1957).While an
earlier edition of the film was released on DVD by The Criterion Collection
years ago, the company has seen fit to restore and re-release it in a special
2-disk set (both on Blu-Ray and DVD).In
short, the results are magnificent.
The Seventh Seal is one of those
classic films that has been parodied so many times it isn’t funny anymore.And when something is parodied so much that
it’s become cliché, then the source material must have been pretty darned
good.How many times have you seen a
figure of “Death” walking around in a black cloak and carrying a scythe, coming
to take a major character away but is distracted into playing a game (in this
case, chess)?From Bill and Ted to Monty
Python to Woody Allen, Bergman’s cinematic crown jewel has inspired many comics.What’s ironic is that The Seventh Seal is not necessarily a completely dark, depressing
drama.It is full of humor!As renowned
author, critic, and Bergman scholar Peter Cowie says in the DVD’s “Afterword”
(an extra), the film is a suspenseful fairy tale that grips you from beginning
to end.But the cynical musings of the
squire character (played by Gunnar Bjornstrand) are witty, sarcastic, and ripe
with black comedy.Max von Sydow made
his first of many appearances in Bergman films as the knight returning home
from the Crusades, battling the Black Plague with Death literally one step behind.Made with a low budget on the back lot of
Stockholm’s film studios, Bergman managed to create the Middle Ages so
convincingly that few pictures have ever equaled it.The restoration is impeccable; the black and
white images are gorgeous and crystal clear.
on the first disk are the previously mentioned filmed Afterword, a commentary
by Cowie, a narrated tribute to Bergman by Woody Allen, an audio interview with
Max von Sydow, and the theatrical trailer.The bonus disk is the same as Bergman
Island, also a separate release by Criterion (see below).
serious film buff must have The Seventh
Seal in his or her collection.
Jackie O gave The Godfather an offer he couldn't refuse...
They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a stranger coupling than the entertainment world spawned when Marlon Brando spent two wild nights with Jackie Onassis. It all happened in 1964 when the two met up and engaged in some dancing, drinking and flirting that resulted in JFK's widow seducing Hollywood's most notorious swordsman. The tale was to be included in Brando's autobiography, but was cut from the manuscript by an editor who was a friend of Jackie's. To read more click here
NBC News has confirmed that Michael Jackson has died from cardiac arrest. NBC says the death was verified by Jackson's family. The 50 year old pop legend had been rushed to the hospital earlier today in a coma after suffering a heart attack. Jackson had been planning a series of comeback concerts to begin in July 2010, after having been postponed for a year. It is a cruel irony that Jackson died within hours of Farrah Fawcett, who also became a superstar during the 1970s. Jackson's career spanned from being the youngest and most charismatic of The Jackson Five and later became perhaps the most popular singer of his generation. His landmark 1982 album Thriller, produced by Quincy Jones, spawned many chart-topping hits. It became the top selling record of all time with sales of over 100 million units. Before long, Jackson became a superstar whose fame and fan base extended worldwide. He also popularized the music video and MTV with his Thriller mini-movie that boasted top flight special effects and was directed by John Landis. The video also featured a classic voice over from Hollywood legend Vincent Price.
Jackson's storybook lifestyle was short-lived, however. He began to exhibit increasingly eccentric behavior, much of it propagated by himself. Although his fan base remained extremely loyal, he became a punch line on virtually every comedy show. Jackson never commented on his sexuality, though it was widely believed he was gay. He had two short-lived marriages, the first to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. The second marriage was one apparently of convenience, but did result in his wife bearing three children. This, too, resulted in controversy as Jackson's critics claimed he was too childlike himself to raise children properly. Scandal followed scandal with Jackson's penchant for inviting little boys to spend the night with him at his opulent Neverland Ranch resulting in his being charged with child molestation. He beat the rap, but the case severely damaged his reputation. His lavish spending habits went unchecked and he was the support system for a seemingly endless stream of family members and hangers-on. Despite being one of the wealthiest performers in history, he failed to pay creditors and had lost much of his empire. It remains unclear what assets he left behind because his personal affairs were so convoluted. Jackson had been actively involved in planning a series of comeback concerts that were estimated to have a potential gross of $500 million. However, some experts say that even that phenomenal sum might not be enough to equal the debts he had amassed. Despite his eccentricities and a strict upbringing that deprived him of a normal childhood, Jackson's legacy will be as one of the greatest entertainers in American history. His death will certainly become one of those tragic moments that will cause everyone to remember where they were when they heard the news.
Update: MSNBC News reports that it may be weeks before a final coroner's report officially designates the cause of death.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that they will expand the best picture Oscar nominee category from five films to ten. The Academy feels this will result in a more equitable and broader selection of films. Movie fans have long griped that the Academy is too elite when it comes to recognizing the merits of movies that become financial blockbusters. The controversy reached a boiling point last year when the highly acclaimed Batman pic The Dark Knight was ignored in most of the major categories despite being a critical success. There had been a time when popular blockbusters like Airport, The Towering Inferno and Jaws would place among the best picture nominees, but in more recent years, art house films have often dominated the category. There are other pluses for A.M.P.A.S in that the inclusion of more popular titles among the best picture nominees might help improve ratings, which have been sagging in recent years. However, no other categories will be expanded and the best director nominees will still be restricted to five. Industry types realize that in all probability, the eventual best picture winner will almost certainly derive from one of those five nominees' films. The change in rules actually is a reversion back to the years 1931-1943 when the best picture category had ten films. For more click here
Actress Farrah Fawcett has lost her long battle with cancer and has passed away at age 62. Earlier reports indicate she had been given Last Rites. She had been hospitalized for the last two weeks. Sadly, she never was able to fulfill her desire to finally marry her long-time beau Ryan O'Neal, who was at her bedside when the end came. More details to follow.
One peculiar talent of the otherwise unremarkable porn star Linda Lovelace made her a household name.
The term "Deep Throat" became a household phrase - though it's not certain that everyone who helped popularize it understood the implication.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The administration of President Richard M. Nixon was consistently satirized during the 1970s for putting forth an image of square white guys who were constantly paranoid that somewhere, somehow, somebody might be having a good time. Newly revealed documents show that this was a stereotype based on reality. Despite racial unrest, anti-war riots and a teetering economy, the Nixon administration pushed the FBI to spend a staggering amount of time, manpower and money trying to investigate the origins of the legendary porn film Deep Throat. Virtually every aspect of the sensational 1972 movie was looked into, and the FBI even intimidated hapless couriers who delivered the canisters of film to theaters. Ironically, the one aspect they might have been justified in investigating apparently was ignored: the involvement of the mafia in taking control of the film and the hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Ironically, one of the FBI higher-ups involved in the investigation was Mark Felt, the man who was later revealed to be the source of information that brought down the Nixon administration. Why the irony? The code name assigned to him was Deep Throat. For the story click here
Variety reports that Columbia Pictures head honcho Amy Pascal has put a halt to filming of director Steven Soderbergh and Brad Pitt's new film Moneyball just days before production was to begin. Pascal said that Soderbergh's re-write of the script drastically altered the storyline that she had given the green light to. Soderbergh is now seeking another studio to take on the $50 million baseball-themed film. It's not unusual for production deals to fall apart, but it is rare that they do so this late in the day and involving this level of high profile talent. However, even though $50 million seems like a low budget film these days, Columbia obviously feels the project is too risky. Soderbergh's directorial efforts have largely been box-office bombs with the exception of his Oceans Eleven movies and Pitt's record has been spotty at best. Add to the mix the fact that few baseball movies have resonated as financial successes, and you have plenty of reasons to explain Pascal's reluctance to proceed with the film. There's also the chance that the storyline, which is based on a book by Michael Lewis, is too inside baseball. Soderbergh plans to incorporate interviews with and performances by actual players into the film. For more click here
The eagerly-awaited Cinema Retro Movie Classics Where Eagles Dare special edition issue is right on schedule. The magazine is now shipping worldwide. This first issue in the Cinema Retro Movie Classics series is not part of our subscription plan. It must be purchased individually. If you have pre-paid for your issue, you don't need to do a thing. It will be sent to you this week. If you have contacted us to reserve an issue, now is the time to remit your payment.
If you are a customer in the UK or Europe, the fee (which includes postage costs) is as follows: UK: £15.
Europe: £17.00. Payment by cheque (to Cinema Retro) to -
The price is $30 for America and Canada; $25 for the rest of the world. (Prices include postage). Instructions will be posted then regarding remittance for the issue.You can reserve a copy by writing to: email@example.com
Here are the basic facts about the Richard Burton/Clint Eastwood WWII tribute issue:
Over twenty writers and film historians have
collaborated to bring you what we believe is the most definitive story behind
the making of this blockbuster movie. Apart from the wealth of rare behind the
scenes photographs – many taken by cast and crew during filming on location and
at the studio – we have gathered stories and quotes from people like director
Brian G. Hutton, producer Elliott Kastner, stuntmen Joe Powell, Alf Joint and
Bill Sawyer, second unit director Yakima Canutt and his assistant director
Anthony Waye (now a producer on the James Bond films), art director Peter
Mullins – and many more. Illustrated with film poster artwork from around the
world, call sheets, flyers, merchandise, tickets and storyboard and script
pages, this is one tribute to a film you will not want to miss!
This special edition issue runs a full 80 pages - 14 pages longer than the average Cinema Retro issue!
The response among readers for this issue has been terrific. We appreciate your support - especially those of you who have ordered multiple copies of this future collectors item. Look for an announcement soon regarding our second Cinema Retro Movie Classics edition!
Ed McMahon, who transformed himself from being a second banana to Johnny Carson to becoming one of the most beloved American TV personalities of all time, has passed away at age 86. McMahon actually teamed with Carson on the game show Who Do You Trust? but the pair became TV legends when they took over NBC's The Tonight Show from Jack Paar in 1962. The industry would never be the same. The Carson/McMahon team became "Must See TV" for the majority of American audiences and at one time was said to represent 30% of NBC's annual profits. So great was their audience share that no other network ever came close to toppling their reign. ABC and CBS threw everything but the kitchen sink into the coveted 11:30 time slot, but Johnny and Ed steamrolled over everyone from Joey Bishop to Dick Cavett.
McMahon was the perfect foil for the likeable but opaque Carson, a man who audiences felt comfortable "inviting" into their bedrooms every night but who scrupulously avoided the spotlight in between shows. McMahon never sought to be top dog and was quite content to stay with Carson throughout their reign between the years of 1962 and 1992. When Carson decided to retire, Ed chose to do so too, realizing that staying on with Jay Leno would have changed the dynamic for the public in a way they probably wouldn't have accepted. McMahon had a unique ability to make Carson look funny even when a joke bombed, which was rare. On such occasions, Carson would be greeted by silence at the punch-line, only to have Ed's bellicose laugh, deriving from his friend's distress, fill the room. The result would be that the audience would inevitably go hysterical. McMahon was more than just a decoration on the set, however, where he maintained his seat on the couch off to the right of Carson. He was witty, urbane and made the most of his penchant for drinking. (When John Wayne dropped by the set, Carson introduced them as "The High and the Mighty"). He could take a joke, but was also able to dish out spontaneous one-liiners that could bring down the house.
The shameful scandal revolving around the closing of the supposedly cash-strapped legendary home for members of the film industry continues. Actress Diane Ladd has courageously stepped forward to be a spokesperson for a group dedicated to saving the lives of elderly patients who are being forced to evacuate the home and relocate to other facilities. Reports say that several of the patients have died during the transfer process. In an open letter, Ladd chides members of the show business community for allowing this to happen and equates the callousness of the Hollywood community to the conditions that allowed the Holocaust to occur. Ladd points out that the Hollywood show business community is rolling in money, yet they have deserted the elderly veterans of the business and allowed this horrendous occurrence to endanger their lives. The closing of the home has been fraught with controversy and Deadline Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke has reported on suspicions that the financial situation may not be as dire as has been stated. For more click here
TMZ reports that director Michael Bay sent an E mail to Paramount brass in May complaining that the artiste's latest "masterpiece"- Transformers 2- was not getting a teaser campaign worthy of such an epic. Now you may remember the days when an "event movie" was generally perceived as being the likes of Ben-Hur or Cleopatra. However, Bay griped in the E mail that Transformers 2 now merits that status - and Paramount should have given the film a more aggressive and creative teaser campaign. A few weeks later, however, Bay was "transformed" and wrote a second E mail complimenting the studio's handling of the film's release. We wonder if Bay will force the studio to underwrite one of those useless vanity campaigns to promote his new masterpiece during this year's Oscar season. For more click here
When a politician attends the annual White House Radio and Television Correspondent's Dinner, they know they are entering the lion's den. The event is akin to a room full of Don Rickles clones and there are no sacred cows. A tuxedo-clad President Obama was this year's guest and his deft ability to throw off a one-liner brought down the house- especially since he attacked fellow politicians and prominent correspondents, spoofing his own image in the process. Good thing the Pundit-in-Chief has a sense of humor about himself because the satirist company JibJab premiered their new short starring Obama as a superhero - complete with Dumbo-size ears. Regardless of where you stand politically, it's hilarious - as even the President attested through his reaction. For the record, the flick is far superior to most of the serious super hero claptrap released by Hollywood.
was something of a George Stevens double bill last week in Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, George Stevens, Jr. introduced his father’s film, “The
Diary of Anne Frank,” at the Skirball Institute and took part in a
panel discussion with Millie Perkins and Diane Baker conducted by LA
Weekly film critic, Ella Taylor.
intervening years have not dimmed the power of film, in fact, it seems
even more powerful today, despite the many films dealing with the
Holocaust in the intervening years. Perhaps because of the gripping
humanity of the source material, the film manages to convey the
horrible monstrosity of the Holocaust by humanizing it, giving the
nameless 6 millions not only names and faces but recognizable
personalities. We care because we have come to recognize these people,
for all their foibles and quirks, they are us.
another factor in the film’s success is due to the superb mastery of
his craft that George Stevens demonstrates in the film. He had helped
liberate a concentration camp during WW II and that horrific memory
infuses every frame of “Anne Frank.” The fear of discovery that was
ever-present hangs in the air throughout the film like an unspoken
terror that dare not be named. The tension Stevens created, especially
in the scenes of the burglary of the safe later, when the Nazis search
the office while the cat nearly gives them away, is cinematic mastery
of suspense worthy of Hitchcock. Throughout the film, the lighting,
composition and editing are all textbook examples of great film
Cinema Retro has received the following notice regarding guests on Dave White Presents, a web-based entertainment program:
Star Trek visual effects
supervisor Ron B. Moore will be a special guest on this week’s edition of “Dave
White Presents” airing over KSAV Tuesday, June 23.Trek fans know Ron’s work
on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star
Trek: Voyager and Star Trek:
Enterprise. So, in his conversation with Wes Britton, Ron talks about
creating the models, gadgets, aliens, and starships of the 24th
Century and how new technology has helped shape what we see on the screen.Ron’s career also
includes work on Ghost Busters, Fright
Night, Moonstruck, 2010 . . . and on top of all that, he’s the guitar player
in the Enterprise Blues Band, a unique congregation with musical comedy for Star
Trek fans live and on CD. We’ll play a few gems for you. In fact, Ron has so
much to say that this special interview will be a two-parter broadcast over our
next two shows.
Of course, the name of
the show is “Dave White Presents,” and Dave has cooked up his usual “predictably
unpredictable” menu. He’ll present part 3 of his very popular talk with author
Steve Cox about his very popular book on the Three Stooges. Dave’s own
comic—hopefully—bits include a new “Moral Compass” and “News from Clancy’s.” All
this will first air over
Viva la France! While the US debates whether it's too risque for first lady Michele Obama to expose her arms, the French are quite proud of their first lady's penchant for showing her assets. Now Woody Allen wants to put Carla Bruni on the big screen.
Remember when first ladies all seemed to have the sex appeal of Eleanor Roosevelt? The USA may be agog over sexy Michele Obama, but when it comes to off-the-charts glamour, no one can top Carla Bruni, the first lady of France. The former fashion model was routinely photographed canoodling with French President Sarkozy in the weeks leading up to their wedding - and before the ink was even dry on his divorce from his first wife. Now Woody Allen says he intends to lure Ms. Bruni to the silver screen with a role in a future film. Meanwhile, we'll use this story as a weak excuse to run the above photo of Ms. Bruni in her modeling days - and we can all breath a sigh of relief that Eleanor Roosevelt never had a penchant for posing similarly. For more click here
Former James Bond Timothy Dalton is in Wales to film a guest-starring role in the popular British Doctor Who TV series. Dalton played Bond in two films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, succeeding Roger Moore in the role. For details click here
In a blow to the Farrelly Brothers' long-planned big screen feature The Three Stooges, Sean Penn has dropped out of the project. He had been slated to play Larry Fine. Now the filmmakers are concerned that co-stars Jim Carrey and Benecio del Toro might get cold feet as well. They are scheduled to play Curley and Moe Howard respectively. The pic had been planned to go into production this summer. Penn, who also dropped out of a thriller titled Cartel, cited he wants to spend more time with his family. Isn't that the excuse disgraced politicians usually use when they are forced from office due to a scandal? In Penn's case, it appears to be legit, especially since he is seeking to reconcile with his wife Robin Wright Penn. For more click here
Best screen dad ever: Gregory Peck's immortal portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
This week marks Father's Day in the USA and critic John Farr weighs in with his suggestions for the best movies ever made in terms of commemorating dear old dad. See if you agree by clicking here to read.
Dick Van Dyke, who is not known for indulging in many interviews about his life and career, is writing a memoir which will be published next year. The book should provide some fascinating insights into his classic TV series as well as his most popular films including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For more click here
The estate of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans has licensed the rights to a trilogy of theatrical films to be marketed as "The King of the Cowboys". It is not known what format the film will take, but the press release promises that it will make Roy and Dale relevant to modern audiences. This won't be an easy task since the legendary couple both passed away many years ago. It also doesn't state how the beloved husband and wife cowboy team will be made to appeal to modern audiences. Although Roy and Dale spawned a huge merchandising bonanza in the 1950s through their hit TV series, the format of that show would look creaky and corny to today's audiences. Regardless, we retro lovers welcome the return of the King of the Cowboys. For more click here
Michael Moore employed old fashioned showmanship to launch the teaser trailer for his forthcoming (not yet titled) documentary about corruption in corporate America. The innovative gag is that Moore addresses the audience directly and pleads for them to dig deep and give to ushers who will be passing donation cans for cash-strapped banks that have received bailout money. Incredibly, despite the fact that Moore is best known as a humorist and the plea is clearly designated as a movie trailer, MSNBC reported today that some gullible members of the audience actually dug deep and donated money! These are obviously folks whose grandparents jumped off window ledges after Orson Welles told them the Martians had landed in New Jersey. To view the trailer, click here
Roger Friedman, the gossip columnist who was fired by Fox News allegedly for seeming to endorse video piracy, says the real reason the company dismissed him was due to pressure from The Church of Scientology, which was offended by articles he wrote that were critical of the church. Friedman got in hot water several months ago when he wrote in his column that he obtained a bootlegged copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine with ease - and seemed to be less than critical about the practice of viewing pirated copies. Fox News summarily fired him and he now writes for The Hollywood Reporter. In an interview with the New York Daily News gossip column Rush & Molloy, Friedman says he will sue Fox News because he thinks the video piracy issue was just a convenient excuse to cave in to pressure from Scientologists, specifically actress Kelly Preston, wife of John Travolta. The organization has been a hotbed of controversy over the decades. Defenders say it is a genuine religion that has been constantly harrassed by the media because its beliefs and practices are outside the realm of other churches. Critics call it a cult that exploits naive and emotionally fragile people through techniques that approach brainwashing. For more click here
Our friend Tommy Z, who runs the testosterone-laden PlanetZMan web site inducts a new actress every week into his Cougar Hall of Fame. The qualification: they must be a mature actress who is still remarkably sexy. This week, it's Heather Locklear, who is finally get her reward for playing second fiddle to William Shatner in T.J. Hooker. Click here to enter The Cougar Hall of Fame.
Actor Del Monroe, who starred opposite Richard Basehart and David Hedison in the hit 1960s TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, has died from leukemia, according to the National Enquirer. Monroe, who appeared in many other classic TV shows, lived to see a resurgence of interest in the show and was stunned by the enthusiastic reception accorded to him at fan conventions. Monroe had also appeared in the 1961 feature film that the series was based on. For more click here
Hundreds of friends, colleagues and co-stars attended the funeral services for actor David Carradine yesterday at Forest Lawn. Classical music and The Beatles' Let It Be were played as homages to the 72-year old actor who was found dead in Bangkok last week. The cause of his death is still under investigation, though family and a private pathologist say it was not suicide. For coverage, click here
Sexpot actress Heather Graham is the latest Hollywood star to swoon over Far Eastern meditation techniques. In Graham's case, she says she is an enthusiast of tantric sex. Now, I will admit that what Heather Graham's attitudes are about anything generally ranks below my interest in the Norwegian agricultural budget for the year. However, her mention of the fact that tantric sex lasts up to eight hours brought out the leering adolescent in me and warranted a quick Google search that pointed me to this web site about the technique. It's apparently from the Kama Sutra, but I quickly lost interest after reading that more study was required for tantric sex than was allocated to my final exams in college. Besides, the last time I practiced anything from the Kama Sutra, I didn't realize that page 51 had a misprint and I ended up in traction for six months. Even the prospect of eight hour sex couldn't motivate me to share Ms. Graham's enthusiasm because I'm generally too lazy to get up to find the remote for the TV, thus stick with whatever happens to come on the tube.
Los Angeles is ground zero of the international porn industry, with over 200 production companies grinding out direct-to-video X rated films. The industry has always maintained that its practice of self-regulation in terms of health practices has ensured there have been no known cases of HIV among adult performers since 2004, when several people were diagnosed with the disease and publicly identified. Now, however, an unnamed actress in the industry has been confirmed as having HIV. She apparently continued to work after the diagnosis and had sex with both her boyfriend and a male co-star. That co-star, in turn, had relations with other women. Health officials are extremely concerned that the disease could spread rapidly and enter the general population. In the center of the controversy is the reluctance of adult film stars to use condoms on screen. For more click here
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have announced a heavy-hitting talent will be joining long-time James Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade for the 23rd 007 film, as yet untitled. Peter Morgan, who wrote Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Last King of Scotland will be part of the trio creating the storyline for the next Bond epic which will once again star Daniel Craig. It is anticipated the movie will be released in 2011. Apparently Oscar winner Paul Haggis will not be associated with the next film. He had contributed to the screenplays of Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. Those two films have both grossed over $500 million each worldwide, making the Bond franchise hotter than ever even as it approaches the half century mark. Purvis and Wade are currently scripting The Brazilian Job, the sequel to the remake of The Italian Job. For more click here
Summer is here which can only mean one thing: the
Hollywood blockbuster has arrived and, in particular, the much maligned bête noireof all right-minded cinema goers, the big budget
remake is rearing its ugly head. Brad Silberling’s Land of The Lost is a new look at Sid and Marty Krofft’s much loved
70s television show that followed Dr Will Marshall, originally played by Wesley
Eure, as he travelled back in time to a land full of dinosaurs and cavemen. The
film had its world premiere in Sydney and we were lucky enough to have a few
words with Silberling and the new Dr Marshall, comedian Will Ferrell on the red
“It was such an insane mash up of ideas that only
the Kroffts could do,” explains the director. “It was the bravery that comes
from innocence. Sid Croft in particular is an incredible puppeteer, he’s very
innocent, he’s kind of child like which prevents him from questioning the
combination of elements together which should have never have been in the same
show. You’ve got dinosaurs, aliens, a banjo; only Sid could do that without
thinking twice about it. It’s like a little bit of Willy Wonka, he liked that
flavour, he liked this flavour so he included them all.It’s why it stayed with the audiences in the
States.” Those flavours in the new film have been transformed into a fabulous
CGI rendered T-Rex called Grumpy, slow moving extraterrestrials called
Sleestacks and a cavemen called Chaka in a surreal land that fuses the past,
present and the future as a backdrop for Ferrell to work his comic madness.
Brad Silberling (Photo copyright David Michael Brown)
A mutual love for the show brought the director and
Ferrell together for the project. “It was Will. At some point Will was talking
to a couple of friends and he, like I, was an original viewer of the show. His
manager and producing partner Jimmy Miller tried to sort out how to get the
rights to the show to potentially adapt it. It was just circumstance that I got
involved; Will and I have known each other for a very long time but have never
worked together. I was writing a piece and had a role in mind for Will, we were
just having lunch. He said 'OK, I want to talk to you about Land of the Lost.' He wanted to make the movie and there was also a
threatened SAG strike. I had been an avid watcher but hadn’t set eyes on the
show for thirty five years. It was fantastic when he told me, I just started
cracking up. My memory bank immediately refilled with the images that stayed
with me. The concept of taking a comedic sensibility and then selfishly
harnessing the elements of the show that we remembered was kind of fantastic.”
Ferrell adds his own side to the story, “It actually had already got started
before I got signed on but when I heard it was going to hit the works I thought,
‘Oh, that is going to be so much fun because I love the show.’ When I heard the
premise that they were going to ignore the kitsch style special effects and go
for the realistic ones and play the comedy off of that, it sounded like a lot
of fun to me.”
The artist Nicolisi unveils his magnificent portrait of Brando as Don Corleone (Photo copyright Anne Tucker)
Left to right: event organizer Bruce Crawford, John and Lori Martino, Miko, Prudence and Karen Brando and Nicolisi. (Photo copyright Anne Tucker)
On Saturday May 30, Bruce Crawford hosted his 24th
classic film salute in Omaha Ne. with a special showing of The Godfather and a
tribute to Omaha native, Marlon Brando. Brando's son, Miko and his wife Karen
and daughter Prudence, were special guests. Actor John Martino, who played
"Paulie Gatto" in the film, was also a guest speaker.
In his usual manner, Bruce had re-enactors in 1940s
era clothing and gangster style apparel. Godfathers' Pizza, co-sponsored the
event as a benefit for the Omaha Hearing School for Children. Artist Nicolosi
created another breathtaking portrait for the event, this time one of Brando as
Vito Corleone. Miko spoke emotionally of his father to the large audience at the
Joslyn Art Museum's Witherspoon theater. John Martino told of his selection over
actor Robert De Niro for the role of Paulie. The film was a pristine restored print, the Coppola
restoration. The audience was in awe of the film as it was shown on the big
screen. Most had never seen it in its proper theatrical format. Earlier in the day, the Brandos
were taken to the home that Marlon was raised in and toured the Omaha Community
Playhouse, where Brando's mother, Dorothy, co founded in 1924. It was a historic
visit as the Brandos' had never been to Omaha before and rarely make public
appearances. For more, visit Omaha Film Events web site.
The Brando family sent the following letter to the Omaha World Herald:
wonderful way to commemorate Marlon by showing a Cinematic Classic “The
Godfather” in his own hometown! From the moment we landed in Omaha until the time we
left, we felt that we were treated with so much respect and received warm
welcomes from everyone. The respect that we received was the same that
Marlon had for his native land. Amber Miller was gracious enough to take
us on a tour of the Omaha Hearing School for Children. The
tour of the Omaha Playhouse which starred Miko’s grandmother, Dorothy Brando,
back in 1925 was very moving. We were also very fortunate to have
visited the house that she lived in when Marlon was a
We would like
to thank all the Omaha Film Event sponsors for giving us an unforgettable
weekend. The generous hospitality and professionalism from Bruce Crawford left
us with a very memorable experience. Miko, Prudence and I were very
touched by the amount of love and adoration the people of Omaha have for Marlon,
and we were honored to have been included in such a prestigious event.
It was great to see that the screening of The Godfather drew such a large
crowd. On behalf of Marlon, Miko would like to thank Bruce for honoring
his father in such a celebrated event.”
David Carradine's brothers Keith and Robert held a press conference today to announce the findings of an independent autopsy report that concluded David Carradine did not commit suicide. The famous pathologist Michael Baden, who has been hired by the family to try to reach a final conclusion on the cause of death, issued a statement saying he cannot do so at this time and is awaiting further important information from Thai authorities. Carradine was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok on June 4.
Sony has released a six-DVD boxed set tribute to Jack Lemmon, marking the first-time release of these films in the DVD format. Here is the official press release.
a career that spanned half a century, Jack Lemmon was truly America’s Everyman.
Although he worked in every genre from musical to western, he truly excelled at
comedy, turning in a series of nuanced performances that garnered worldwide
acclaim. On June 9, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) honors one of the
most versatile and accomplished actors in Hollywood history with The Jack
Lemmon Film Collection,in partnership with Chris Lemmon,
Jack’s son and biographer. This must-have six-disc boxed set features five
classic performances from the gifted two-time Academy Award® winner for Save
the Tiger (1973) and Mister Roberts (1955). The set includes Phffft!
featuring Kim Novak, Operation Mad Ball, featuring the
film debut of Ernie Kovacs, The Notorious Landlady featuring Fred
Astaire, Under the Yum Yum Tree,and Good
Neighbor Sam. In addition, the bonus materials include a two-part
documentary hosted by Chris Lemmon featuring intimate interviews with friends,
fans, and colleagues, including Kevin Spacey, Andy Garcia and Shirley MacLaine;
and photographs from the life and work of Jack Lemmon. The collection also
includes the Ford Television Theatre’s “Marriageable Male” episode starring
Jack Lemmon. The Jack Lemmon Film Collection will be available
for $59.95 SRP.
John Wayne has always been, and probably always will be, my favorite actor. My earliest memories of going to movies are filled with images of John Wayne. I was about four years old when I remember seeing him on-screen for the first time in The Horse Soldiers - and I knew who he was even then. He was not the best actor among those I admired, nor was he the Johnny One-Note that his critics liked to paint him as. Wayne, who died 30 years ago today, was not overly diversified. He knew his audience and what they expected of him. The few times he strayed dramatically from that image were disastrous. (i.e The Conqueror in which he played Genghis Khan and his notorious, show-stopping cameo in The Greatest Story Ever Told playing a Roman soldier.) However, since his death, Wayne- who was a polarizing figure politically - has been forgiven for his "sin" of being an unapologetic right winger by most of his critics on the left. They have learned to separate the actor from the man and there is now general agreement that Wayne was capable of delivering superb performances. In my personal opinion, the essential Wayne catalog includes his remarkable work in Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers and Rio Bravo. Unlike many actors, Wayne got better as he got older, bringing a world-weariness to his performances that made his work in films like True Grit, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Cowboys and The Shootist rank among the finest performances of the era. Even his lightweight late career efforts were terrific entertainment: Big Jake, Chisum, The Train Robbers and his two dirty cop movies McQ and Brannigan. Turkeys like Hellfighters and Cahill: U.S. Marshall are more enjoyable than most of the special effects-laden garbage released today.
On a personal level, Wayne represented a time when people held political beliefs based on reason and thought, not blind ideology. His political opponents were inevitably shocked by the fact that the man was a true scholar and proficient in the classics. He enjoyed debating those on the political left, but rarely let it get personal. He detested Jane Fonda's trip to North Vietnam but refused to bad mouth her personally because he knew her since she was a baby and didn't want to cause grief for his old friend Henry Fonda. Wayne was instrumental in supporting Joe McCarthy's deplorable blacklisting tactics in the 1950s, yet he formed a close personal friendship with Kirk Douglas - a liberal who single-handedly broke the blacklist. The two men would star in three films together. Wayne represented a more civil era of political debate. He was stubborn in his support of Nixon and Agnew, but enthusiastically participated in President Jimmy Carter's inauguration ceremonies. He told the new president "I'm a member of the opposition, Mr. President - the loyal opposition. I wouldn't have it any other way." Can you imagine George Clooney having saying the same at George Bush's inauguration, or Rush Limbaugh wishing President Obama the very best?
Cinema Retro has just received this press release from Warner Home Video about one of the most prestigious DVD releases of 2009.
Calif. June 9, 2009 – It is difficult to imagine a motion picture more magical
and more wonderful than Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's
wonderful The Wizard of Oz. Over the last seven decades, the film has
indelibly woven itself into America’s cultural
consciousness: Is there anyone who doesn’t
immediately think of the film upon hearing the words, “Dorothy,” “Toto,”
“Emerald City,” “Ruby Slippers” and “Yellow Brick Road” -- or the lines to the song
“Over the Rainbow?”
colorful characters and unforgettable songs of Oz come alive
as never before when Warner Home Video brings this cinematic treasure into the
digital age with the September 29 Blu-ray
release of The Wizard of Oz 70th
Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s
Edition. The commemorative
edition contains nearly 4 hours of all-new and never-before-available bonus
features and is housed in numbered
collectible packaging, and will be available for a limited time only for
(DVD) and $84.99 SRP
In order to bring all the visual splendor of The
Wizard of Oz to the Hi-Def world of Blu-ray Disc, the film has been
entirely remastered, with each of the original Technicolor camera negatives
scanned using 8K resolution. From this scan, a final ‘capture’ master was
created in 4K, yielding twice the resolution seen in the master
utilized for the film's previous DVD release.
Working in ‘full film Resolution’, extreme care was
taken to ensure that all of the image fidelity contained in the original
negatives was properly captured for this new presentation. The sounds of Oz
will come alive on Blu-ray disc utilizing the full audio spectrum capabilities
available through Dolby TrueHD audio. The net result is one of unprecedented
quality that is sure to make The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary
Edition a benchmark in the history of the Blu-ray format.
Actor/producer Michael Douglas is the recipient of the 35th annual American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. The Oscar-winner has a penchant for playing a wide range of characters from larger-than-life heroes to outright cads. He reflects on his life and career in an interview with Variety. Click here to read. (The ceremony will be telecast by TV Land on July 19).
The Motion Picture Academy
has been on a roll as of late, presenting some of the finest exhibits and
screenings in its fabled history. The year began with a tribute to Academy
founder Douglas Fairbanks featuring legendary film scholar Kevin Brownlow. In
April there was a tribute to Milt Kahl, “The Animation Michelangelo,” that
featured Brad Bird and others paying tribute to one of Disney’s premier
character designers. Currently, there is an excellent display of cells and
sketches highlighting the Japanese form of animation, “Anime!” (The Academy is
to be commended for their continued celebration of that frequently neglected art
of film-making). And last week, there was tribute to Joseph Mankewiecz, one of
the finest screenwriters who ever lived whose name wasn’t Billy
But for shear star power and
emotion, it would be tough to be last Friday’s tribute to the songwriting team
of Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Emceed by longtime friend and associate, the Mighty
Q - Quincy Jones - got things off to a rousing start by urging the sold-out
crowd to party and the lovefest continued for the next three
hours.The clips began with the
memorable Bergman/Marvin Hamlisch collaboration, “The Way We Were,” and it
explored the hits, the neglected gems and triumphs of this talented and enduring
partnership. One of the dramatic highlights of the evening was when Alan Bergman
and Michel Legrand at the piano performed the Oscar-winning, “The WIndmills of
Your Mind,” while images of Steve McQueen in a glider unspooled behind
them.That particular song was
written at the behest of Norman Jewison who felt a song was needed to depict the
character’s inner turmoil, and Alan Bergman took pains to note, that was the
defining task of every song, to delineate the emotional core of the character in
that particular context.
Other performance highlights
included such overlooked gems as “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”
from the Richard Brooks drama, “The Happy Ending,” “How Do You Keep the Music
Playing?” (which Quincy Jones called his favorite song) from the Burt
Reynolds/Goldie Hawn film, “Best Friends” as well as some of the more celebrated
numbers like “It Might be You,” from “Tootsie” and “In the Heat of the Night”
from the Oscar-winning picture of the same name. After such many tributes
from Marvin Hamlisch, John WIlliams and Norman Jewison (all on videotape) and
performances by Patti Austin, Michel Legrand and Dave Grusin, there was a special
desert (which apparently Alan Bergman doesn’t eat, he is more of a Postum kinda
guy) in store for the sold-out audience - la Grandest Diva of them all, Miss
Barbra Joan Streisand.Although recuperating from a
cold and unable to sing, she was unabashed in her love and admiration for the
Bergmans and revealed she was to record an entire album of their songs as a
tribute. Some home movies were shown of Marilyn Bergman assisting Babs in
rehearsing “Yentl” and the evening closed with clips from that film, a labor of
love for all concerned.
Ellen Harrington produced the
event and she deserves her own special Oscar for the level of excellence this
special evening as well as all the many other events she has prepared for the
Academy. And fellow Academy producer, Randy Haberkamp, is also doing
Oscar-worthy work on the ongoing series “1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year,” and
with such upcoming events as the tributes to Hal Ashby in store, in the annals
of the Motion Picture Academy presentations, 2009 may prove to be the Academy’s
Director Mike Nichols reflected on his first experience watching his film The Graduate at a public movie screening in New York. He was stunned by the reaction of the audience, which was going wild over the events onscreen. Nichols admits that initially he took flack from college kids because the movie deftly avoided any mention of the central issue of the day: the Vietnam War. However, students began to rally to the movie and embraced it in a major way. Nichols also recalls that he rejected both Robert Redford and Candice Bergen for the film. For more click here
Bangkok police say they have nothing to hide in their investigation of the death of actor David Carradine, and would welcome FBI involvement if it were relegated to observing procedures. The Carradine family want the FBI to be involved in the investigation of the strange circumstances of Carradine's death. The 72 year old actor was found hanging in his hotel closet with a rope tied around his neck, wrist and genitals. Bangkok police initially considered the case a suicide, but have since recanted. The case has fueled the usual lunatic fringe of conspiracy theorists who are now trying to make a connection between Carradine's Kung Fu series and his death, speculating that he may have been killed by ninjas! The FBI, for its part, says it only gets involved in such cases if foul play is a real possibility. The Carradine family intends to carry out an independent autopsy. The results of the Thai autopsy won't be released for several weeks. For more click here
It's hard to believe, but Robert Redford has been a star for almost fifty years. He doesn't grant many interviews unless they are about social causes he is active in, but San Francisco Chronicle VP Phil Bronstein interviewed Redford about his long film career for over an hour at the recent San Francisco International Film Festival. Click here to watch the fascinating chat.