Listen: David J. Hogan on Pop Culture Tonight

David J. Hogan, author of the Wizard of Oz FAQ visits “Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips” to discuss “all that’s left to know about life, according to Oz!”

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00120812The Wizard of Oz FAQ is a fact-filled celebration of the beloved 1939 fantasy masterpiece starring Judy Garland. It’s all here – from L. Frank Baum and his Oz novels to the complete background story of the movie’s conception, development, and shoot, with special attention given to the little-known parade of uncredited directors, casting difficulties, and on-set accidents and gaffes, as well as more than 75 sidebars devoted to key cast members, directors, and other behind-the-scenes personnel.

You’ll find a wealth of fun facts: How MGM overworked Judy Garland before, during, and after Oz; why director Victor Fleming had his hands full with the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy’s other friends; what it was about Toto that really bothered Judy; the physical horrors of filming in Technicolor; the racial Oz gag that was scripted but never shot; when the Wicked Witch was going to be beautiful; why The Wizard of Oz owes a lot to silent-screen star Mary Pickford; the story of deleted scenes, and a full two weeks of shooting that had to be scrapped; why MGM star Mickey Rooney was part of the movie’s traveling publicity blitz; how the Wicked Witch was literally blown off her broomstick one day; the place where lions, tigers, and bears really do live together; singers you hear but never see; the day MGM fired Judy Garland; and much more. Just follow the yellow brick road!

Listen: Stephen Tropiano on Pop Culture Tonight

Stephen Tropiano, author of Saturday Night Live FAQ visits “Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips” to discuss longest running comedy show on television!

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>>LISTEN HERE<<

 

Television history was made on Saturday, October 11, 1975, at 11:30pm (ET), when Chevy Chase welcomed America to the first episode of a new late-night comedy series. With its cutting edge satire and cast of young, talented performers, Saturday Night Live set a new standard for television comedy while launching the careers of such comedy greats as John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey.

Saturday Night Live FAQ is the first book to offer the show’s generations of fans everything they ever wanted to know (and may have forgotten) about SNL. Beginning with the show’s creation in the mid-1970s by Lorne Michaels and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, SNL FAQ takes you through the show’s history with an in-depth look at all thirty-eight seasons.

It’s all here – the comedic highlights and low points, memorable hosts and musical guests, controversial moments, and, of course, the recurring characters and sketches, catch phrases, and film shorts that have made SNL the epicenter of American comedy for nearly four decades. SNL FAQ also examines the show’s influence on American culture and includes profiles of over 100 SNL cast members, along with a comprehensive guide detailing every episode.

Happy Birthday, Arthur Conan Doyle!

Arthur Conan Doyle is widely regarded as one of the world’s best storytellers. Although the author dabbled in various vocations during his life, such as medicine and sailing, Conan Doyle showed an inclination towards storytelling since his early childhood that was passed down from his mother. “In my early childhood,” Conan Doyle once remarked, “as far as I can remember anything at all, the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clearly that they obscure the real facts of my life.” This passionate response to fiction grew with Conan Doyle into his teenage years, although the style he developed wasn’t exactly the sophisticated and eloquent one we are most familiar with! This excerpt from Sherlock Holmes FAQ gives some insight into Conan Doyle’s affinity for “Penny Dreadfuls”:

 

00117258It was during his final year at Stoneyhurst [his Catholic school] that Conan Doyle first became aware that his youthful love of storytelling had grown into a teenaged ability to captivate audiences. While editing the school magazine, he also threw himself into the composition of serial stories, lengthy epics of adventure and derring do more appropriate, perhaps, to the pages of a penny dreadful than the august halls of a Jesuit college.

Penny dreadful were the bane of the faculty’s existence, cheap (as their name implies), lurid (ditto) magazines into which the most sensational, shocking, and horrifying fiction imaginable was shoehorned, in bite sized quantities, and every installment ending upon a new note of cliff-hanging calamity, to ensure the reader had no alternative but to return for more in the very next issue.

Fifty years on, radio and movie serials would seize upon a similar notion to keep their audience coming back; today, television offers the same diversion. Different crimes for different climes. In 1870s England, with radio and television still far off in science fiction-land, penny dreadfuls were the public enemy number one. And Conan Doyle discovered that he had a rare talent for writing them.

He read his tales aloud to his audience, seated on a desk while they crouched on a floor around him, spinning out sagas so suspenseful that he would occasionally threaten to end a tale early because he knew his anxious audience would not hesitate to bribe him with apples and cakes, if only he’d read another page.

Still in his teens, Conan Doyle had discovered for himself the secret of great storytelling (if not necessarily great stories). “When I had got as far as… ‘slowly, slowly, the door turned upon its hinges, and with eyes which were dilated with horror the wicked Marquis saw…’ I knew that I had my audience in my power.”

Watch: Inside Look at Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ

 

Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ by Tom DeMichael  (coming this Fall from Applause Books) focuses on films that give audiences two hours where they can forget about their troubles, sit back, crunch some popcorn, and visit worlds never before seen… worlds of robots, time travel, aliens, space exploration, and other far-out ideas. This book takes a look at the genre’s movies from the last 40 years, where the dreams of yesterday and today may become tomorrow’s realities. Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ travels to a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… visits a theme park where DNA-created dinosaurs roam… watches as aliens come to Earth, hunting humans for sport… and much, much more. 

 

Happy Birthday, Pierce Brosnan!

A very Happy Birthday to one of our favorite Bonds! To celebrate, check out this excerpt from James Bond FAQ that describes how Brosnan rose to Bond-dom:

 

00314951Pierce Brosnan was well known as the title character of private investigator Remington Steele, from the NBC-TV show of the same name. But that notoriety nearly cost him the role of James Bond.

Pierce Brendan Brosnan was born in County Meath, Ireland, on May 16, 1953. He was an only child to mother May and dad Thomas, a carpenter who walked out on the family after only a few years. May moved to London to seek work as a nurse, leaving Pierce to move among relatives, friends, and even a Christian Brothers mission. In a 1997 interview in Cigar Aficionado magazine, Brosnan admitted, “It wasn’t all bleak . . . you learn how to create your own happiness.” When May remarried, eleven-year-old Pierce joined the couple in London. One day, stepdad William took the boy to the cinema to see a film called Goldfinger. Young Pierce was very impressed, realizing “James Bond was very cool.”

Brosnan attended school to be a commercial artist and landed an apprentice job in a small South London studio at the age of eighteen. But he had become enamored with movies and, at the urging of a coworker, joined up with a local theater workshop. Soon, they had formed the Oval House Theater Company, and Pierce quit his art job. He waited tables, cleaned houses, anything that allowed him to be free to act in the evenings. Brosnan attended drama school, acting in repertory theater and London West End productions like The Red Devil Battery Sign by Tennessee Williams. The playwright had personally selected Brosnan for the lead role.

British theater led to appearances on British TV by 1980. His wife, actress Cassandra Harris, landed a supporting role in the 1981 Bond flick For Your Eyes Only. Brosnan would amuse Harris by offering his impression of 007 when he would drive her home from the studio. (Perhaps a view of things to come for Brosnan. Tragically, Harris would succumb to ovarian cancer in 1991.) A successful 1981 ABC-TV miniseries, The Manions of America, led to Brosnan’s casting in NBC-TVs Remington Steele in 1982. The detective show ended up being in the top twenty-five TV ratings, but was canceled after four seasons as those numbers waned. Broccoli recalled Brosnan from the For Your Eyes Only days, and he tested for the role of Bond for the upcoming The Living Daylights. Pleased with the results, producers named Pierce Brosnan as the new James Bond.

Apparently, NBC read the trade papers that day, and, realizing the ratings boost having the “next James Bond” would give the network, they immediately renewed Brosnan’s contract as Remington Steele—effectively blocking his chances to play Bond. Ironically, the series would only air six episodes before getting the ax once more, but the damage was done. The Living Daylights would shoot with Timothy Dalton as 007.

Brosnan was understandably upset, but continued to work on TV and in films, including hits like Lawnmower Man in 1992 and Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993. When the 007 legal snafus were cleared up in 1994, it became apparent that Pierce Brosnan would be Bond in GoldenEye (over suggestions that included Mel Gibson and Ralph Fiennes), and it wouldn’t be enough to rescue the world—this time, he was expected to rescue the character from oblivion.

So, with that small task at hand, it was Pierce Brosnan who brought Bond into the twenty-first century. It was Pierce Brosnan who had to come to terms with a new boss—still M, but this time, a female (gasp!). It was Pierce Brosnan who, with his four Bond films, brought nearly $1.5 billion to box offices worldwide. In his four turns as James Bond, Pierce Brosnan brought the suave and calm demeanor to the character that one would expect from an experienced performer. In 1995, he told Big Screen magazine, “The way I see James Bond is as a man with a passion to get the job done . . . This film is . . . not a cure for cancer, it’s supposed to be fantasy.” Film critics like Roger Ebert praised his portrayal of 007, offering that Brosnan was “somehow more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete, than the [other] Bonds.” High praise indeed.

No matter, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson decided to (get ready, here it comes . . .) “reboot” the role of Bond once more in 2005, just as Brosnan was in negotiations for a fifth whirl as 007. In a 2005 interview for Premiere magazine, he said, “It would have been sweet to go back for a fifth . . . It would have been wonderful to go out there for one last game and pass the baton.” Less poetically, he added, “it f . . . ing sucks.”

Indeed. But bad luck for Brosnan meant good fortune for the next actor to don the shoulder holster and cock the Walther PPK (or Walther P99, as the case may have been). Once again, Broccoli and Wilson considered hundreds of actors to play 007 (the list this time around included Hugh Jackman, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Jason Statham, Gerard Butler, Colin Firth, Colin Farrell, Clive Owen, Colin Clive . . . no, wait—he played Dr. Frankenstein years ago). After a search that took most of the remaining months in 2005, the winner was: Blond, James Blond.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Armageddon Films FAQ

After watching the trailer, we are more excited than ever for the July premier of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes! Here is what Armageddon Films FAQ author Dal Sherman had to say about the 1968 original film (as well as its many sequels): 

 

Planet of the Apes (1968)

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The Planet of the Apes series of five films (1968–1973), not to mention its various sequels, certainly have a place in any bookabout apocalyptic futures. It’s also a very downbeat run of films, seeing the rise of a new order with the apes that is in every way just as prejudiced and mad as the humans before them—plus, the world gets blown up at least twice. Even the fifth and final movie, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, which spends much of the film trying to suggest an alternate “happy” ending for the world in the future, can’t quite escape from the prede- termined insanity of hate and war in its final scene.

While terrible things do happen, and there are certainly ramifications for the characters once they ”arrive” after these events, the first film opens with the biggest “you’ve slept through it” moment in cinema history, namely because it’s supposed to be a mystery until the final moments of the movie. That mystery I already spoiled for you at the beginning of this book, but the reason behind it has not been discussed. At the beginning of Planet of the Apes, we have Charlton Heston as Taylor, an astronaut on a spaceship traveling away from Earth in 1972. Upon wondering what the future will be like and foreshadowing the daylights out of the whole “will the world be a better place?” thing, Taylor goes into hibernation with the other three astronauts. He awakens in 3978 with the ship having crash-landed in a lake and rapidly taking on water. Taylor and two of the others (the lone female astronaut died previously in the journey due to a malfunction with her hibernation chamber) escape the sinking ship and head to land. There they ponder where they are and what they will find on the planet that they assume to be in the correct trajectory for their ship, somewhere in the constellation of Orion.

They eventually meet up with mute and rather mindless human scavengers just as they are attacked by humanlike apes on horseback. One of the astronauts dies at the scene, another is eventually seen to have been lobotomized, and Taylor is shot in the throat and thrown in with the other humans in Ape City. (This brings to mind—are there other cities full of apes? Is this it? If not, how did they get away with calling their city Ape City? Do the other ape communities wince a bit at that? “Oh, why can’t we have a nice name like Ape City instead of being Monkeytown?” And, really, isn’t this a bit pretentious? We don’t see a lot of Human Village or Mankind Junction locations on the map, after all. Maybe a few Peckerwoods. But this is a huge digression. Sorry.)

After various adventures in the city, with Taylor trying to communicate with the apes and attempting to plead his case to those in charge, he finally breaks out and travels into the “forbidden zone.” What he finds is the Statue of Liberty and the realization that somehow the spaceship had returned the crew to Earth in 3978. Taylor makes the (as we later discover) correct assumption that mankind destroyed itself, resulting in the mute, simple-minded humans still left on the planet.

The reveal of the Statue of Liberty is the big shocker of the movie—the one discussed in the introduction that left the audience stunned in disbelief. Up to this point, the audience could center their reactions on the idea that the movie is essentially a metaphor of man’s inhumanity to those not like themselves (only with juxtaposition of apes being man and man being animals). Yet throughout the plot are sprinkled moments where there’s an underlying mystery to resolve: how did this world come into being? Taylor’s jump into the future allows for the surprise ending and could only be done if—up to that point—we have no awareness that this is Earth in the future instead of some unnamed planet in the constellation of Orion.

As it stands, the original novel by Pierre Boulle, La planète des singes (1963) isn’t even set on Earth—the protagonist lands on an ape-dominated, Earthlike planet, although in a final twist the protagonist returns to Earth to find it now run by apes as well (an element Tim Burton would return to in his 2001 adapta- tion). For this reason, and others in the novel, there is no mystery as to why apes are the dominant species; it is merely there for purposes of satire dressed in elements of science-fantasy. Thus, although the novel deals with the elements of the protagonist being hurled into the future and finding a strange new world waiting for him, there is no sense of some type of world-ending menace having hit Earth (or the Earth equivalent). It is only with the Heston movie that the point is driven home that Taylor missed the death of his world and has returned to see the results.

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A postapocalyptic Earth that we are not to recognize as such wasn’t new to cinema by 1968. Roger Corman’s Teenage Cave Man with Robert Vaughn (looking anything but a teenager or a caveman, even in his loincloth) had covered the same “shock ending” ten years before Heston and crew. The film also draws itself from the age-old science fiction plot of the battle-scarred lone male and female survivors of a nuclear war finding each other and becoming Adam and Eve (commonly referred to as a “Shaggy God” story, as per writer Brian W. Aldiss). Elements of this can be seen in episodes of The Twilight Zone as well, such as the episodes “Two” (featuring Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery as two enemies who must come together after the end of the world), “Probe 7, Over and Out” (which ends with nuclear war survivors becoming Adam and Eve), and even Richard Matheson’s “Third from the Sun” (featuring a group of people leaving a doomed planet to find Earth), just to name one program. Perhaps it is no wonder that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling would cowrite the script to Planet of the Apes—its final twist makes the movie one long Twilight Zone episode.

Boze Hadleigh Quotes Actors on Acting

00122491An Actor Succeeds is a very special collection containing all the best trade secrets of the biggest and most successful film and theater professionals. Author Boze Hadleigh has kindly provided us with a post for today! Below, he has included some observations about the difficulties actors face, as well as some quotes from actors who have, indeed, succeeded.
“We all act—good manners, for instance, when applied to those we dislike. So professional acting’s easy too? Read this book!”

Acting isn’t Easy

by Boze Hadleigh

Most people know actors have to hit their marks without looking down, to be framed and filmed by the camera. But did you know if an actor rises normally from a chair it looks speeded up on camera? Thus, many motions must be performed slower for film, without losing energy or naturalness.
Most actors’ time isn’t spent acting, but seeking work.
Sylvester Stallone: “An artist dies twice. The first time is terrible. I’ve been there when the phone isn’t ringing for years.”
Once hired, intense concentration is required to convincingly pretend you’re someone else while perhaps dozens of technicians stand around you staring.
Keira Knightley: “Focus is as important for an actor as for a cinematographer.”
Myth: Actors have fun on-set. In such a costly business there’s little time for camaraderie (or rehearsal—today mostly a stage luxury). George Clooney: “There’s too little time for socializing. It really is about the work.”
Sexism? If you’re female and have suggestions, careful when, how and to whom you make them.
Valerie Harper sometimes found hers turned a set’s atmosphere into “Siberia.”
Being believable takes time.
Jocelyn Brando, Marlon’s actress sister, said the trick wasn’t to “act natural,” but “to be natural. There’s a chasm of difference.”
Even good actors may be affected by lousy ones.
Kate Hudson: “You still have to react like he’s a good actor. Don’t descend to his level—an easy trap to fall into. Do your best, and try not to work with him again.”
Sometimes the question arises: Why are women generally better actors than men?
Susan Strasberg, daughter of acting guru Lee Strasberg: “Acting is 90 percent reacting, and females spend most of their lives reacting to males.”
And above all, it is important for actors to know just what their job is.
Glenn Close warns, “An actor’s goal is not to be interesting. That’s a script’s goal.  Yours is to be truthful.”

Listen: Scott Von Doviak on Pop Culture Tonight

Scott Von Doviak, author of the Stephen King Films FAQ met up with Patrick Phillips on Pop Culture Tonight to talk about his book and the King of Horror!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

Stephen King Films FAQOver the past four decades, the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself. The prolific writer’s works have spawned well over 100 adaptations for both the big and small screen, ranging from modern classics of horror (CarrieThe Shining) to Oscar-nominated fare (The Shawshank RedemptionThe Green Mile) to unapologetic, B-movie schlock (the King-directed Maximum Overdrive). The filmmakers to put their stamp on King’s material include acclaimed auteurs Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Brian De Palma; masters of horror Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and George Romero; and popular mainstream directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Lawrence Kasdan. Stephen King Films FAQ is the most comprehensive overview of this body of work to date, encompassing well-known hits as well as forgotten obscurities, critical darlings and reviled flops, films that influenced King as well as those that have followed in his footsteps, upcoming and unmade projects, and selected works in other media (including comic books, radio dramas, and the infamous Carrie musical). Author Scott Von Doviak provides background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films and television productions, including “Bloodlines” sections on related works and “Deep Cuts” sections collecting additional odd facts and ephemera. All you ever wanted to know about the king of horror onscreen can be found here.

The Zombie Film excerpt

Here is an excerpt from The Zombie Film by Alain SIlver and James Ursini!  Take A Closer Look here!

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Zombies (and the Movies About Them)

by Linda Brookover

10. They’re ugly. Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body notwith- standing (was Jennifer really a zombie, after all), taken as a horde or as individuals with their swollen tongues, yellow eyes, skin that suggests much too long a stay in a tanning bed/grave, and sunken (or missing) cheekbones…I’ll grant that “R” in Warm Bodies has a certain je ne sais quoi; but he gets de-zombified. Before that was someone actually considering sex with a zombie. Deadgirl may turn on some desperate jocks but, seriously, guys, could you really imagine getting it on with the lovely pictured below? These hideous creatures give the Frankenstein’s monster and just about any ghoul that ever haunted the screen a shuffle for their money.

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9. Speaking of that: They can’t dance. Yes, yes, I’ve seen the “Thriller” video and that is the exception that proves the observation. Sure boyfriends may have come back from the cemetery to attend the prom, but they were still geeks with no sense of rhythm.

8. They’re undead and uncouth. They have no sense of personal space and constantly seek to violate that of whomever they encounter without compunction, such as bashing their heads through car windows. As for table manners, well, if you have seen just one of these movies, enough said.

7. They’re not very romantic—in the literal rather than the literary sense, but actually not in that sense either. Even in the misbegotten comedies that involve teen couples, they are simply never huggable. Can you imagine a zombie date, a zombie valentine, or, perish the thought, zombie sex? Even the most hardcore necrophile would have to be repulsed.

6. Despite no sex, they breed faster than rabbits. Sure you could argue that it is not actual breeding, but what else would you call it? It starts with just one zombie moving into the neighborhood, and before you know it the kids next door are inviting themselves to lunch…off your flesh.

5. They have no fashion sense. They look like they slept in their clothes. Even if they never spent time in a coffin but went right from ordinary life to zombiefied after being bitten, their previously unremarkable wardrobe is suddenly very shabby and somehow still looks like it was worn inside a freshly dug grave: it’s dirty, shredded, and bloodstained. If vampires rep- resent the height of movie monster fashion, zombies without question are the nadir.

4. They look like they smell bad. One can only presume that from the reactions and occasional com- ments of those who encounter them, so thank heaven Smell- O-Vision no longer exists. I mean Scent of a Mystery was one thing, can you really imagine Scent of a Zombie. Eew!

3. They’re pathetic. Okay, there may be the occasional zombie for whom the word “hope- less” has some emotional heft, who is capable of experiencing some angst, as in Warm Bodies or Zombie Honeymoon or Deadheads; but 99% could never strike a tragic pose or express anything other than a ravenous hunger. Except for a coup de grâce, nothing can be done to help them as they overrun the environment. Perhaps the real reason people like to watch them on screen is to feel better about themselves.

2. They tried to kill Brad Pitt, probably the only person that could get me to pay hard- earned money to see a zombie movie. It’s one thing to threaten the unknown (at the time, and probably still) low-budget performers in Night of the Living Dead and hey, would you really have cared if they managed to devour Jesse Eisenberg (his attitude was a tad conde- scending) in Zombieland; but hands off Brad.

And the Number 1 reason to hate movie zombies:

You can show me all the Zombie Strippers you want, like the one above and I’m sorry but They’re boring. Conversation is limited to the occasional grunt or perhaps a rattle in their throat like a reverse hiccup, often accompanied by the clacking sound of their deformed teeth biting together in anticipation of finding your neck. If the “dissedents” in Juan of the Dead really had a political agenda, it might be something more than a biting satire about biting people. Tragically some of these post-persons were probably lively conversational- ists when still were still breathing, but now.

Happy Birthday, Bob Elliot!

Today is Bob Elliot’s 91st Birthday! Along with his partner, Ray Goulding, Bob was an huge game-changer in the entertainment industry. His humor and personality has impacted TV and radio broadcasting (as well as the big screen and Broadway itself) to a legendary degree. Thanks for entertaining us all, Bob!

View some images of Bob from Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons HERE

And read more about Bob Elliot in:

Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons
David Pollock
ISBN: 9781557838308
6″ x  9″
320 pages

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