TV Fact #342 – September 30th, 2015:

The American sketch comedy television program “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” (1968-1973), often simply referred to as “Laugh-In”, apparently could also be called a psychic hotline. Let me explain.

A number of reports from comedian Dan Rowan’s “News of the Future” segments actually came to fruition years later. Notable among them was Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Reagan was the governor of California during the original airing of the show. Rowan also predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I mean comedians always tend to base their humor in real world events…but predicting them? That’s a new one for me.

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 10:24 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #841 – September 30th, 2015:

The 1967 film “Fitzwilly” features an early symphonic score by legendary composer John Williams, credited both on the album and on-screen as “Johnny Williams”. Notably the score includes “Make Me Rainbows”, the film’s love theme and end credits song. Also this is Williams’ first collaboration with co-writers Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 10:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #841 – September 30th, 2015:

“Since when do men grow up?  They just grow old.”

– Lee Grant, “Divorce American Style”

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 10:14 PM  Leave a Comment  

TV Fact #341 – September 29th, 2015:

The syndicated action television series “Vanishing Son” (1995) might have only lasted one season of 13 episodes (With four made-for-TV movies that aired first February 28, July 18, July 25, and October 10, 1994) but the series was ground-breaking for the casting of an Asian male in an attractive leading-man role. That actor being Russell Wong who played the lead character Jian-Wa Chang.

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 11:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #870 – September 29th, 2015:

The 1980 American epic Western film “Heaven’s Gate” is generally considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, and in some circles has been considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Ironically, it was directed by Michael Cimino who, two years previous,  was one of the ascendant directors of Hollywood owing to his celebrated 1978 American epic war drama film “The Deer Hunter”, which had won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director in 1979. And it wasn’t just a flop.

“Heaven’s Gate” opened to poor reviews and earned $3.5 million domestically…from an estimated $44 million budget. It even eventually contributed to the near collapse of its studio, United Artists and effectively destroyed the reputation of Cimino. The high budget was due to Cimino having an expansive and ambitious vision for the film and pushed it about four times over its planned budget. Worst of all, the film’s financial problems and United Artists’ consequent demise led to a move away from director-driven film production in the American film industry and a shift toward greater studio control of films. As you can guess this has caused an upheaval from moviegoers as studios focus on keeping to safe choices and little chance of truly innovative stories that don’t just keep audiences entertained but stick outside the norm. However, there is good news.

As time has progressed, a number of substantial assessments have become more nuanced. In fact, in some cases, these assessments have become more positive and now some critics have described “Heaven’s Gate” as a “modern masterpiece”. Some found the 1980 re-edit, after poor press screenings, being characterized as “one of the greatest injustices of cinematic history.”

So what can one take from this? On one hand, such a movie at the time caused a rift that kept directors from being truly innovative and original…and in some cases it is still that way. But on another hand, this film, once deemed one of the worst films ever made, is now considered a classic. Directors have stuck up for it and defended it. So perhaps what to take away is that the subjective nature of film is a brutal beast. It allows a general audience to see one thing and requires that each person observe for themselves what to make of a film. Perception requires observation. Not just a lesson for finding great cinema, but a lesson most of the world should keep in mind in general. So guess the film wasn’t all that bad…it got a random guy like me thinking.

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 11:07 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #870 – September 29th, 2015:

“The older population are leading this generation to a galloping ruin.”

– John Lennon, “A Hard Day’s Night”

Published in: on September 29, 2015 at 10:51 PM  Leave a Comment  

TV Fact #340 – September 28th, 2015:

The series “The Comic Strip Presents…” (1982-2012), starring a group of British comedians called “The Comic Strip” who came to prominence in the 1980’s, was labelled as a pioneering example of the alternative comedy scene. You’ll have to research why but, spoiler alert, it involves being willing to push the envelope in vulgarity, subject matter, and parodying classics. But hey…not everyone can be funny in a restrained way.

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 11:19 PM  Leave a Comment  

Movie Fact #869 – September 28th, 2015:

Prior to filming the 2009 British satirical black comedy “In the Loop”, director/writer Armando Iannucci gained access to the US Department of State by flashing a simple photo ID to a security guard and saying “BBC. I’m here for the 12:30.” Iannucci then spent a few hours walking around taking pictures for his set designers. In fact, in the film, the meeting in which the character Lieutenant General George Miller (Played by James Gandolfini), Senior Military Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, is stood up by the character Linton Barwick (Played by David Rasche), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Policy, was also scheduled for 12:30.

Don’t worry, the US government also volunteered their services. To research his role, Gandolfini actually was given access to the Pentagon to interview real generals. Nice to know the US could be such good sports about Iannucci though. The fact they let the film get released in the US shows they can laugh at themselves.

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 11:13 PM  Leave a Comment  

Quote #869 – September 28th, 2015:

“They burn the heart out of themselves by living too greedily.”

– Gabriele Ferzetti, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 11:02 PM  Leave a Comment  

TV Fact #339 – September 27th, 2015:

The American television series “After Words” (1985-Present), an hour-long talk show where each week features an interview with the author of a new nonfiction book by a guest host who is familiar with the author or the subject matter of their book, debuted on January 2, 1985 with political scientist Norman J. Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute interviewing politician and author Newt Gingrich about his book “Winning the Future”. Since then, many noteworthy authors and guest hosts have appeared on the program include.

Politician and author Jimmy Carter has been interviewed by author and history professor Douglas Brinkley. Politician and author Bob Dole has been interviewed by author Rick Atkinson. American journalist and anchor Andrea Mitchell has been interviewed by communication professor S. Robert Lichter. A final one of note, historian Simon Schama has been interviewed by history professor Edna Medford.

I find a show like this is very necessary. By interviewing such vast groups of political experts, historians, and journalists, audiences get a grand understanding of the wide world in all it’s political, sociological, and historical glory. Perhaps with such knowledge, the world can learn to be taken in a better direction every day by those educated with such wide ranges of perspectives and knowledge. Knowledge, as the old saying goes, is power.

Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 11:10 PM  Leave a Comment