Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's 1970 cult sci-fi series Space: 1999 will be revived and "reimagined" for television as Space: 2099. The original series starred Martin Landau and his wife Barbara Bain. For more click here
For review of the Blu-ray release of the original series click here
Does Eastwood have GOP election hopes in his sites or is the controversy much ado about nothing?
By Lee Pfeiffer
A powerful, slickly-produced Chrysler Super Bowl ad that ran during half time is stirring political controversy from unlikely sources: the Republican party, which usually embrace's the ad's star, Clint Eastwood. The two minute-spot has a gravelly voiced Eastwood walking out of the shadows to extoll the fact that the American auto industry is in the midst of making an enormously successful comeback. That might sound like something all Americans would be happy about, but in an election year, pundits on both sides see subliminal messages everywhere. GOP supporters don't deny the TV spot was highly effective, but they have a gripe with Eastwood's assurance that the auto industry's comeback was only at half-time" and the best was yet to come. Republican critics say the term half-time is a coded endorsement for a second term for President Obama. Others mock that assessment, pointing out that the "half-time" reference pertained to the fact that the spot ran during the game's half-time slot and that Eastwood has never indicated he was supporting Obama's re-election.
Republicans generally criticized President Obama's decision to make massive loans to the failing American auto industry. The presumed GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, called for the government to let the free market take its course, even if it meant the complete bankruptcy of the car industry. Romney has been modifying those remarks in the wake of the industry's success, implying that the plan proved to be successful because Obama adopted certain financial policies that Romney had long endorsed. However, GOP advisers had been concerned from the moment Romney stated his position, pointing out his words could come back to haunt him because, while Americans would detest another bailout of banks, they would probably empathize with loans to the auto industry that would save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers.
Some Democratic pundits are saying that the ad is completely apolitical and that GOP critics are overly-sensitive. They point out that, while Eastwood has traditionally stayed clear of commenting on national politics, the few comments he has made in the past make it clear he favored Republicans and conservatives. In fact, it was recently revealed that the first President Bush considered asking Eastwood to run with him as Vice-President in 1988. In 2008, he made a rare endorsement for a presidential candidate, backing John McCain, thus making him an unlikely supporter of Obama's campaign for re-election. That hasn't stopped high profile GOP advisers like Karl Rove from complaining that, while he is a fan of Eastwood's, the super star is willingly being used as a political tool by Democratic operatives, a notion that Eastwood dismisses. In a statement, Eastwood said he is not endorsing anyone at this time in the presidential race and that the ad was non-political. He said, "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant
to be a message about, just about job growth and the spirit of America. I
think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK."
Is the Eastwood spot a subliminal Obama endorsement or is it truly an apolitical, patriotic statement? Click here to view and make up your own mind?
Look, I'm not one of these high-brow guys who knock all of the programming on cable TV. About the only shows I ever have time to watch are guilty pleasures like Hoarders and Storage Wars plus various National Geographic programs that center on helpless humans being devoured by wild animals. Most of the time I'm working on my computer, so the only programs that run consistently are political shows that don't require me to sit in front of a screen. In fact, with all the heated debates on these programs, they provide plenty of wild animal-like behavior in and of themselves. What I do find really offensive is when a cable network decides to use a legendary movie as the basis of a low-grade TV concept. For example, A&E has just announced that it is developing a series titled Bates Motel that will explore the early years of Psycho's legendary cinematic killer Norman Bates, as well as his Oedipus-like relationship with his mother. Is this really what classic movie lovers have been clamoring for? Obviously not. How many people even remember that there was a TV movie sequel to Psycho back in 1987? So this new project is a rip-off of a rip-off. However, A&E is gambling that there are plenty of undiscriminating viewers out there who probably never even saw the original film and will think this concept is a hoot. Murder and implied incest? Irresistable! And now Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece can be improved upon with the inclusion of numerous dumb-ass commercials, color cinematography and answers to the mysteries surrounding Bates' background that were so annoyingly mysterious that they might have inspired you to use your own imagination. Click here for the lurid details.
(Cheap plug: For Cinema Retro's in-depth tribute to the original Psycho, see issue #18)
Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Paul Sorvino and Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.
By Lee Pfeiffer
There was a time when AMC, originally known as American Movie Classics, lived up to its name. The network rivaled Turner Classic Movies in terms of reverent showings of great movies, all complete and uncut. Then the zombies and Wall Streeters took over management of the network and decided to trash tradition. Suddenly, lousy movies were interspersed with the classics, films were edited for content and to allow an abundance of commercials to be crammed in and the network didn't even respect the movies enough to allow for the end credits to run. Instead, they were shown in a microscopic window at warp speed while inane "coming up next" promos filled the screen. The outcry was tremendous among classic movie lovers, but there's a big brainless public in America that will watch movies under these conditions. The AMC brass knew their target audience and the station's popularity and profits soared. They did do something right, however, in terms of developing original content, which resulted in the acclaimed series Mad Men and Breaking Bad). AMC may have another promising concept: creating a series from Nicholas Pileggi's non-fiction mob book Wise Guy which was the basis for Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas, a genuine American masterpiece. Pileggi is involved with the project, as is the film's producer Irwin Winkler. They might make a great series out of this, which is ironic, because you would never be able to see Goodfellas presented respectfully on the same network. For more click here
With the smash hit British TV show Hustle ending after 8 remarkable seasons, the cast and crew take time to reflect on the experience. They all agree: veteran co-star Robert Vaughn gets more fan mail than anyone and the former Man From U.N.C.L.E. is not shy about expressing his mutual admiration for them. Click here to read
Allen in his first film as star and director, Take the Money and Run (1969)
my many favorite Woody Allen quotes, the most often quoted is:“I don’t want to achieve immortality
through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying,” Woody Allen once
said.While he may not achieve the
latter, the former is inevitable.
Masters premieres “Woody Allen: A Documentary,” Robert Weide’s masterful
documentary which spans the amazingly and innovatively creative and prolific
career of an American original.
“Not everybody has
so much to say about life as Woody Allen,” Martin Scorsese comments.Scorsese
also talks about the “two different New York’s” that come from each of their
cinematic points of view:The
former’s vision embodied in the rough and tumble “Mean Streets” with a young
Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel, versus the latters’ embodied in “Annie Hall”
and “Manhattan,” the pristinely beautiful New York City panoramic backdrops
accompanied by a precisely coordinated George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
is peerless,” said Chris Rock.“Maybe Babe Ruth can be compared to him. Most people last 20 years.He’s been doing this for over 40.”“He’s the best actors’ director I’ve
worked with,” said Naomi Watts.
the New York premiere at The Film Forum, whose attendees included Jerry
Seinfeld, Dick Cavett, and Tony Roberts, writer Director and Producer Weide
talked about his relentless yet genial pursuit of Allen for almost two
decades.Initially, Allen declined;
concerned about a retrospective while he was still in the middle of his
career.Three years ago, Weide
approached Allen again and said “it’s time.”This time Allen agreed.Weide, who had done documentaries about
The Marx Brothers, WC Fields, and Lenny Bruce, was particularly excited about
doing a piece about “someone I experienced in my own
two travel, both figuratively and literally, to Allen’s Brooklyn neighborhood,
where he recalls his childhood, the parks he played in and the majestic movie
theaters where he saw the films that shaped his creative life.
Allen’s and Diane Keaton’s Alvy Singer and Annie Hall’s staying up all night
talking on a bench in the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge is one of
the most famous and romantic images in film history.The documentary also solves one of
the great mysteries that have bewildered romantics worldwide since 1979- the
location of that park bench.
was a pain in the neck to film.I had to get up at three in
the morning,” Allen recalled.“We
had to bring our own bench.”
about Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz, Allen made a general statement about
acting:“If you’re an artist, you
have to say something.It
can’t just be technique.”
four hour program, which airs in two parts Sunday and Monday evening November
20st and 21nd, is the journey of a kid from Midwood who
started writing jokes for columnists, to writing and directing plays at Tamiment
in The Poconos, to writing for the legendary Sid Caesar, to doing his own
standup, to writing and directing his own films, and developing an incomparable
and unique cinematic voice.
still works at the same typewriter he bought as a teenager from a man who
promised that the writing machine would outlast its new owner.He reaches into a drawer of hand
scrawled notes.“I don’t care about
commercial success and as a result I rarely achieve it,” Allen
to his self-deprecating side which became the core of his film persona, he
said:“I’ve achieved everything
I’ve set out to do:I became a
writer, a movie actor, then a director.I wanted to play jazz and I’ve played in parades and in joints in New
Orleans.And I still feel like
somehow I got screwed.” Fortunately, his audience has not.
a fun and emotional ride.
Retro contributor Eddy Friedfeld teaches The History of American Comedy at NYU
those who missed part one last night, they can stream now on http://pbs.org/americanmasters. Part two will
stream there after tonight’s broadcast.
U.S. DVD release is via New Video & people can preorder now at Shop PBS.
Memories of legendary bombs like "Norbit" must be vague to Eddie Murphy. By backing out of hosting the Oscars, his chances of making a big comeback might be endangered.
Eddie Murphy has told A.M.P.A.S. that he is backing out of hosting next year's Oscar awards ceremony. Although he issued a graciously-worded statement, Murphy's decision was actually a response to the Academy pressuring director Brett Ratner to resign from next year's ceremonies. Ratner, who directed Murphy in the recently-released Tower Heist flick, came under fire after issuing an anti-gay slur as well as crude sexual comments regarding his love life with former flame, actress Olivia Munn. Murphy's decision is based on his support of Ratner, who he considers to be a personal friend. The Oscar gig was to be a central part of Murphy's grand plans to stage a comeback. He might regret the decision: the heavily-hyped Tower Heist opened to lightweight grosses at the boxoffice. Click here for more
At an age at which most actors are comfortably retired, former Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn's career is going great guns. He not only stars in the hit UK TV series Hustle (now in its eighth year), but he has just joined the cast of Britain's long-running series Coronation Street. Vaughn is particularly popular in England and the love affair is mutual, as the Emmy-winning actor told Cinema Retro recently, he finds working in the UK to be very enjoyable. In fact, Vaughn lived there for a period of years in the early 1970s. For more click here
The Guardian of London provides a subjective list of six great spy series - with some cool clips to watch. Among them: Danger Man (aka Secret Agent), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible. Click here to view
It's almost impossible to imagine 60 Minutes without the broadcast-ending segments by commentator Andy Rooney, who has been contributing to the show since 1978. The crotchety newsman's slice-of-life observations about politics and trivial aspects of daily living have been provocative and amusing and have made the 92 year-old journalist an American icon. Rooney has been with CBS for 60 consecutive years but he says this Sunday's broadcast of 60 Minutes will mark his final regular commentary segment. However, he will remain an occasional contributor and predicts only death will separate him from the network he loves so much.For more click here
Retro movie lovers may remember way back to the 70s and 80s when Gary Busey was a respected actor. He was even nominated for an Oscar for The Buddy Holly Story. Since then, he's been primarily defined by his quirky personal life. Busey was among those who protested California laws that mandate wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Ironically, in 1988 Busey was involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered brain injuries that might have been prevented had he been wearing a helmet. Now Busey is down to scrap heap level work: appearing on the TV program Wife Swap in which D-list "celebrities" switch households and live with each other's wife. It gets better: Busey is "swapping" with the wife of disgraced clergyman Ted Haggard. Haggard is yet another "family values" hypocritical holy man who railed against homosexuals and gay rights- until it turned out he had been seeing a male prostitute. (Admittedly these types of scandals usually involve homophobe elected officials who are secretly engaging in gay sex.) In saner times, that would have been the last we'd have heard from Haggard but in today's world bad behavior reaps big financial rewards so Haggard now has another career as a reality TV star. Maybe the wives of Busey and Haggard can find an appropriate niche for themselves on The Biggest Loser. For more click here
It was no secret that 85 year old Jerry Lewis had planned to limit his participation in the annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. He said as much last year, but promised to stay on as MDA chairman and also make an appearance to sing You'll Never Walk Alone on this year's show. That signature finale on every MDA telethon over the last 50 years is always a very moving moment, with Lewis often getting choked up during the song. However, last month Lewis announced he had basically severed ties with the MDA- an organization he had raised over $1 billion for. Reasons for the parting of ways are the subject of speculation. MSNBC commentator Lawrence O'Donnell, host of the political show The Last Word, had a scathing segment on his program last month in which he said that Lewis had been unceremoniously dumped by the MDA. Lewis has not issued any comment on the matter, simply saying he is "retired". However, Lewis is not retired- he's making a new movie. Thus, there appears to be hard feelings regarding his departure from MDA activities. Did he jump or was he pushed? Despite Lewis' absence, this year's Labor Day Telethon earned a record $61 million- an incredible feat during a recession -especially since the telethon was streamed to only six hours this year. Nevertheless, as O'Donnell pointed out, the shear sentiment of seeing Lewis' last telethon appearance could have made those numbers even bigger. For baby boomers, his MDA telethon remains a part of their lives. The ratings would have been sky high and his graceful departure from the show would easily have become one of the great moments in TV history. For more click here
Allen in the first film he directed, Take the Money and Run (1969)
After years of negotiating, producers of a new four-hour TV documentary about Woody Allen managed to land the shy Woodman's cooperation. The show will be the most intensive look at his life and career and will premiere in November as an American Masters presentation. Meanwhile, Allen's Midnight in Paris continues to perform well at the boxoffice and is his top-grossing film ever.
Hef managed to drag himself away from his other distractions to record narration for the premiere episode of The Playboy Club.
Hugh Hefner has agreed to provide narration for the premiere episode of NBC's forthcoming TV series The Playboy Club. The retro-based series will follow the lives of people associated with a 60s-era Playboy Club with heavy emphasis (unsurprisingly) on the character's sex lives. TV Guide reports that original concept was to have Hef provide narration for every episode, but that idea has been dropped. Hefner will be portrayed as a character on the show, though it's unclear how integral he will be to the plots. Click here for more
Happy Days cast members Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Donny Most and Erin Moran are pressing forward with their allegations that CBS has conspired to deprive them of royalties on merchandise sold relating to the popular show that ran in the 1970s. CBS admits it has been guilty of "oversights" in payment of the royalties relating to the series, which originally aired on ABC. However, the network says the lawsuit for $10 million is much ado about nothing and is seeking to have it dismissed. Click here for more.
Noted film critic David Thomson of The New Republic sets his sites on the small screen with an insightful essay about why Peter Falk as Columbo represents the kind of high quality mystery show that wouldn't stand a prayer of being put on the air today in TV's dumbed-down, politically correct environment. In fact it's impossible to imagine a leading character being allowed to chomp on a cigar without protests that the show was actively endorsing cancer. Click here to read
Historians seem to have missed this large-scale battle in which General George Washington led a fleet of Dodge Challengers against British forces.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Americans are suckers for anything that invokes the spirit of patriotism. Politicians learned this decades ago. Just stand in front of a big American flag and you can spout any kind of outrageous lie or advocacy for programs that range from promoting bigotry to outright lunacy. If anyone dares to question your motives or your facts, they can be denounced as unpatriotic. Madison Avenue got on the bandwagon in the 1980s and incorporated patriotic themes to sell everything from soft drinks to cars. Advertising Weekly has compiled ten notorious TV spots from over the decades that blended marketing products with patriotic themes. Some are well-crafted and are moving enough to distract audiences from the fact that they are being shamelessly manipulated. These often involve the plight of U.S. servicemen and women who have become de facto pitchmen for every sort of product through these "tributes" to their courage. In another ad, the images of civil rights icons are utilized to market trucks. My personal favorite is a big budget commercial in which George Washington leads a battalion of Dodge Challengers against British forces-- with our first president driving the lead car! Believe it or not, this is not done tongue-in-cheek. The sickest exploitation is featured in a Budweiser beer ad in which the famous Clydesdale horses travel to New York City to pay their respects to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If Sen. Joe McCarthy had worked for an advertising agency, he couldn't have come up with a better way to exploit patriotism. I can foresee the day when Dwight D. Eisenhower will be invoked as a pitchman. The dialogue will go something like this:
"My fellow Americans, this is your former President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. You know, when I was the commander of Allied forces in Europe, I was up all night planning the D-Day invasion. Now you can be up all night, too, with some help from Viagra!"
In a recent video editorial, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper took on rude movie-goers, defending the management of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin Texas for ejecting a young woman who thought it was appropriate to text during during a screening. Alamo Drafthouse cinemas attract dedicated movie lovers so there was widespread approval when the woman was escorted out of the theater. Cooper earned kudos from viewers who are fed up with paying big bucks to see movies, only to discover the theater is packed with imbeciles who have howling kids with them, talk on cell phones, text and carry on conversations while everyone else is trying to pay attention to the film. Cooper aired the idiotic woman's equally idiotic defense, which is unintentionally hilarious. Thanks, Mr. Cooper, for standing up for the rights of all movie fans in publicly humiliating the dolts who ruin so many cinematic experiences. Cooper's video should go viral on all movie web sites. Click here to view. - Lee Pfeiffer
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from PBS:
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple
Based on the works of Agatha Christie
On MASTERPIECE Mystery!
Sundays June 19 - July 10, 2011 at 9pm on PBS
David Suchet returns as the stylish and quirky Belgian sleuth Hercule
Poirot, the iconic character made famous by Agatha Christie. In three
brand new mysteries, Poirot finds himself investigating crimes, murders,
and international cover-ups with the help of the police and some old
Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 9pm ET — "Three Act Tragedy"
Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 9pm ET — "The Clocks"
Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 9pm ET — "Hallowe'en Party"
A new episode of the beloved "Agatha Christie's Miss Marple" series airs on Sunday, July 10, with Julia McKenzie (Cranford)
in the role of the spinster sleuth. In "The Pale Horse," Miss Marple
investigates the murder of a friend and stumbles upon some spooky
Cinema Retro reader Peter Vollebregt sent us this photo he took last year of Robert Vaughn filming an episode of Hustle on the Thames in London. He's superimposed Vaughn in the same spot way back in 1972 when he shot his TV series The Protectors on location in the UK. (Photo copyright Peter Vollebregt).
Connors is on a real life case to track down his missing royalties.
Another icon of 1960s TV claims he was snookered out of merchandising and video royalties. Mike Connors, who starred in the popular private eye series Mannix, claims that Hollywood accounting practices manage to show that his hit series that ran for years is still technically in the loss column, thus CBS and Paramount are denying him royalties. Connors says the more the show grosses, the greater the losses. This is due to notorious accounting practices that artificially inflate a show's production costs and overheads. Actors and actresses have been taking studios to court for decades over this method of denying royalties to talent. For more click here
Britain's BBC One network confirmed that the hit show Hustle is in its seventh and final season. The bizarre decision to cancel the program is leaving fans scratching their heads, especially since the series remains a major ratings hit, attracting almost seven million viewers in the UK with each episode. The network said the series might be revived in the future with a new cast (translation: replacing popular "older" cast members with younger faces). Robert Vaughn and Adrian Lester top-line the show. For more click here
The cast members of the 70s smash hit sitcom Happy Days are suing CBS, claiming they are being denied royalties from merchandise sold over the years that was licensed by the producers. Although the series originally aired on ABC, the CBS network now holds the rights. For more click here
Launched without any fanfare in January 2011, the Antenna TV network is a dream for baby boomers with fond memoris of shows from the 60s and 70s. The network doesn't require cable service and is available for you few hold-outs still using rabbit ears. The network presents (relatively) few commercials and is largely devoid of those annoying, omnipresent logos that eradicate most of what is taking place on screen. They also show credits and ending theme songs in their entirety without squeezing them into the side of the screen to make room for more station promos. Among the shows the station telecasts are some that have not been widely-seen in recent years such as The Monkees, Maude, The Flying Nun, Father Knows Best, Gidget, Benny Hill, The Partridge Family, Hazel, Here Come the Brides and overdoses of The Three Stooges. They also combine telecasts of relatively recent feature films with older movies such as Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula and Cold Turkey. Click here to visit the web site and see if the station is available in your area.
When Oscar had revered comedians such as Bob Hope, Billy Crystal and Johnny Carson as hosts for the broadcasts, ratings were golden.
The web site Studio Briefing reports that an anonymous, high-ranking member of A.M.P.A.S. agrees with most critics that the choice of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts of this year's Oscar ceremonies was a poor one. Academy President Tom Sherak was defensive, to a point, saying that the board must trust the judgments of the producers. Sherak did concede, however, that the chemistry between Franco and Hathaway was off. For more click here
John Travolta will reunite with the cast of the hit 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter on the April 17 TV Land Awards show. Travolta rose to stardom in the series, which helped him land his Oscar-nominated role in Saturday Night Fever. For more click here
Despite breaking barriers in the areas of science and race, the various Star Trek shows have always punted when it came to introducing openly gay characters. The franchise producer, Brannon Braga says he feels the show's executives were guilty of repeatedly concentrating on other social issues. Attempts were actually made to bring gay characters into the series, but they were always vetoed. Braga says that he feels if those same scripts were presented today, they would have been accepted. Actor George Takei, who was a regular in the original series, came out some years ago and now lives an openly gay lifestyle. For more click here
Bland and Blander: critics were unimpressed with hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.
By Lee Pfeiffer
We hate to say "We told you so" but...we told you so. A.M.P.A.S. quixotic obsession with getting a youthful audience for the Oscar broadcast has flopped. The bizarre choices of James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts earned scorn from critics around the globe and the maddening race to keep the running time as short as possible resulted in winners being cut off at inopportune moments, if they had a chance to say a word at all. The bottom line is that the show's ratings flopped- especially among the younger viewers who were the target audience. Also generating criticism was Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo's "accidental" dropping of the "F bomb" in her acceptance speech- a timeworn tradition for those seeking to ensure some additional press the next morning. For the New York Times review click here
Albert Stroller, the charismatic con-man played by Robert Vaughn, was the influence for a real-life scammer.
British retired millionaire Derek Voysey wasn't satisfied with his loot- so he decided to emulate elegant TV con man Albert Stroller, played by Robert Vaughn in the hit TV series Hustle. He concocted a fraudulent land sales scheme that conned pensioners out of their savings. Voysey, who was nicknamed "Albert Stroller", had a different fate than his TV counterpart and was caught, which proves that life doesn't always imitate art. For more click here
NBC has at least temporarily shelved plans to relaunch a series based on James Garner's 1970s hit show The Rockford Files. Writer David Shore was unable to deliver a satisfactory script due to unexpected challenges concerning his screenwriting for the House TV series. NBC may revive the Rockford concept at some future point. For more click here
The smash hit UK crime series Hustle starring our old pal Robert Vaughn is entering it's 500th season, or so it seems. We can't remember when it wasn't on the air. Last season, the cast and crew moved to Birmingham, but the producers engaged in a bit of deception and pretended the story was taking place in London. Seems everyone was so enamored with Birmingham, the home city of one of the series' stars, Adrian Lester, that at least one episode of the show will actually take place there. Click here for the details.
Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as John and Jackie Kennedy in the controversial mini-series.
By Lee Pfeiffer
In today's politically-charged environment, both liberals and conservatives are protesting when dramatic license is taken to depict the iconic figures of their parties. The latest case is the History Channel backing out of plans to air an ambitious 8-part dramatic series about the life of President John F. Kennedy. The big budget project, The Kennedys, caused outrage among Kennedy supporters who claim the former President was being sensationalized through sexually-charged sequences that were not accurate. Scholars also debunked aspects of the script that were clearly wrong from a historical perspective (one sequence actually suggests that it was JFK's idea to build the Berlin Wall!) The project has predictably taken on partisan overtones largely because the series' producer is Joel Surnow, the conservative producer of the hit action TV series 24. That show has long outraged liberal critics who contend it condones the use of torture and other constitutionally questionable forms of behavior on the part of military and law enforcement authorities. Leading the charge is liberal activist and documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald who says the show sensationalizes Kennedy's sexual appetites. In one sequence, Robert F. Kennedy observes his brother having sex with a woman in the White House pool. JFK mentions says that if he doesn't have sex with unfamiliar women every few days, he gets migraines. Kennedy's prowess with women has been the stuff of speculation for decades but some historians say much of what is in the series is distorted. JFK's former speechwriter Ted Sorensen, who recently passed away, also publicly protested aspects of the script that he said were completely inaccurate.
Liberals have often accused Fox News of intentionally flubbing chyrons that idenitify Republicans who are embroiled in scandals as Democratics. Fox has always called these charges absurd and says that mistakes in titling segments happen across the broad spectrum of TV news. Here's a blooper that no one will dispute is a legitimate mistake: Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was being interviewed on Fox and Friends when he was briefly identified as "Holocaust Winner"! Click here to view
There's a Golden Rule in America: you can take on virtually anyone on the political right or left and find plenty of support. However, there remains one iconic presence that who is seemingly immune from criticism: Oprah Winfrey. No one denies that the Queen of TV has used her influence and wealth to benefit needy people. However, pundit Bill Maher takes her on for her mega-rated annual "Favorite Things" show in which she lavishes incredible gifts on audience members. They range from free cruises to Australia to new cars. Maher criticizes Winfrey, who fashions herself a "spiritual" person, for perpetuating America's obsession with defining happiness by owning materialistic goods, which Maher categorizes as "crap". He uses video clips to illustrate the virtually insane reactions of the audiences members as they are awarded these prizes. He also uses clips from other TV shows in which recipients of gifts act equally crazy. What he fails to point out is that at least this year's recipients on Oprah's program were all chosen on the basis of notable charitable work they have done. Still, the almost lunatic reaction of the recipients gives credence to Maher's criticisms, especially in an era in which many American's find themselves deep in debt at least in part due to wreckless over-spending on materialistic goods. These people look like they revere Winfrey as a virtual religious leader on the basis of getting some free loot. None of this is really new. At least Winfrey's audience is demeaning themselves on the basis of receiving some pretty expensive prizes. However, back in the 60s and 70s, people would do even crazier things on Let's Make a Deal and often walk away with some boxes of Rice-a-Roni and a home edition of the game. Click here to view Maher's "Christmas message".
Once again an absurd and amusing story inspires us to deviate from our core news coverage of the entertainment world. Check out this San Diego newscast's opening minute. It's only 60 seconds, but the number of mishaps and gaffes would make you think the show was produced by Will Ferrell and Jerry Lewis! Click here to view
Brosnan as James Bond in the 2002 film Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan has partnered with Sony to develop a TV series based on a private investigator who is often called upon to solve international crimes. Brosnan will executive producer the series and will play a supporting role, but not the lead character. Click here for more
The Hulk made his first appearance as a Marvel Comics character in 1962.
CBS and Marvel Comics are planning to return The Hulk as a weekly series. A previous incarnation of the show ran on CBS between 1978-1982. The Not-So-Jolly Green Giant has also been the subject of big budget feature films and TV movies. The project is in the early stages and no talent has been officially announced as being associated with the new show. For more click here
Al Pacino has been signed to play legendary record producer Phil Spector in an HBO feature to be written and directed by David Mamet. Spector was the musical genius who was instrumental in helping some of the best known acts of the 1960s find fame through his famous "Wall of Sound" techniques. The 70 year old Spector, who was always known as much for his eccentric behavior as his talent, is serving a prison sentence for shooting actress Lana Clarkson. Click here for more
"Jack Lord, we hardly knew ye..." The current version of Hawaii 5-0 may be a ratings hit but it has nothing in common with the classic TV series of the 60s and 70s.
Click here for The Huffington Post's slideshow of the most unnecessary TV remakes of all time, ranging from Get Smart (remember that debacle starring the appropriately-named Andy Dick?) to the current incarnation of Hawaii 5-0.
You may have seen this already, as it went viral a couple of weeks ago- but it bears watching again because it's so damned funny! A Texas weatherman solemnly gives the latest forecast without the slightest hint that he's aware of the fact that the storm graphics he's designed look like storyboards for a 70s Johnny Wadd porn film! In an unrelated story, the Texas TV station involved reports an inexplicable surge in popularity for the weather segment in demographics for women and gay guys. Click here to watch
60 Minutes recently aired an amazing report about the discovery of one of the most important vintage American films. The silent footage was shot in 1906 on Market Street, the main thoroughfare of San Francisco. The remarkable film was shot from a trolley car and shows a world gone forever- women in long dresses, men immaculately clad in suits and derby hats; newsboys hawking the daily paper and a boggling array of horses and carriages mingled with those new-fangled automobiles. Correspondent Morley Safer provides the excellent coverage and focuses on a film historian whose research shed important new light on the relevance of the footage: it was shot just days before the massive earthquake would undoubtedly kill many of the people seen onscreen. Click here to view.
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of The Sound of Music's release to theaters, the cast has reunited on an episode of Oprah Winfrey's program that will broadcast on October 29. Both Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer were joined by their on-screen "kids". The show is being done to promote Fox's 45th anniversary Blu-ray release of the film. For more click here
Family Feud is a lot like Larry King- it's been around for so many decades, it qualifies as both contemporary and retro. The long-running game show recently had what may have been the most unintentionally hilarious answer ever given by a contestant. Click here to view and relish host Steve Harvey's reaction.
Classic vintage shows such as Get Smart get virtually no exposure on cable networks any longer. The networks are spending enormous sums to build their own branded identities through original programming.
By Lee Pfeiffer
There was a time when cable TV networks would pay big dollars for episodes of just about any retro TV series with name recognition. Nowadays, however, the cable channels are flush with cash and are intent on developing their own series, such as AMC's highly-lauded Mad Men. These cable networks are creating a persona of their own, so to speak, and are therefore far more selective about what series they show as re-runs. Some networks such as TBS stress comedy, so don't look there for many urban dramas. Conversely, sister network TNT does specialize in action series and courtroom dramas. These cable niches are leaving the major networks in a bind because the cash cow from the traditionally lucrative re-run market is rapidly being drained. For lovers of classic TV series, it's also bad news. There is little appetite on the cable networks to give prime air time to shows from the 50s and 60s - and when they are shown, they are cut to pieces to make room for more commercials. For more click here
Good news for all movie fans who value serious film criticism. Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz will be producing a new movie criticism show for public TV that is set to debut in January. The show will feature dueling critics Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell, formerly film critic of the New York Times and now with National Public Radio. Ebert will be contributing film critiques himself in special segments called "Roger's Office". Although medical problems have robbed him of the ability to speak, he will use voice enhancement technologies to share his views on current films. Best of all the famed "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" pioneered by Ebert and the late Gene Siskel will also be utilized. Click here for more
Add New York Post TV critic Phil Mushnick to the chorus of movie fans who deplore network's editing of films they broadcast. Specifically, Mushnick hates the recent trend to all but eliminate closing credits by squeezing them into a box so tacky promotions for other shows can be shown. Adding insult to injury, the credits are also run at hyper-speed, making them virtually impossible to read. Mushnick wrote in a recent column:
"When’s the last time you read a book without knowing the author? Or attended an art exhibit, artists not identified?
Then why must we watch movies that don’t include the closing credits?
elimination or squeezing of post-movie credits — a move that years ago
began as a crass, insulting way to include stay-tuned network promotions
— has become the standard. Now even a network named the Independent
Film Channel — so artsy, so above the commercial fray — sees fit to make
the films’ credits unreadable, shrinking them to make room for IFC
played that secondary character? Who was responsible for special
effects? Wasn’t that bit part played by a young Richard Dreyfus? Who
scored the movie? Look it up on the Internet."
We're with you, Phil. However, we wonder who even watches movies on broadcast TV anymore. They are cut, bleeped, shown in pan-and-scan format and contain endless blocks of TV commercials. Recently my wife was channel surfing and came across Steve Martin's Father of the Bride, a film she likes very much. When the movie went into commercials, we counted 21 ads during the break....that's right, 21 ads. Like any sane people, we turned to another network. However, the vast majority of people are far less discriminating. I recently visiting someone who was in the midst of of watching an action movie on TBS or TNT (is there really any difference?). When I noted that the movie had been cut and censored, he simply shrugged and said, "That's okay- I don't know the name of it or who's in it, anyway." As long as this line of thinking represents public attitude, TV will be a wasteland for classic movie lovers. (TCM being the glorious exception, of course.)
Roger Craig, a contestant on the quiz show Jeopardy!, won a record one day sum of $77,000 when he answered a question pertaining to a classic movie. The show remains about the only quiz program left that honors brains and knowledge in an era in which even some political candidates have launched successful careers by celebrating their personal ignorance of history and world affairs. Click here for details
Well, he did it again. In his 45th annual telethon to raise funds to combat Muscular Dystrophy, Jerry Lewis and his co-hosts raised almost $59 million- down slightly from last year, but still a staggering number considering the economic crisis the nation is in. For more click here