Category Archives: Film & TV

Your chance to win MASH FAQ!

Another contest courtesy of Erie Gay News and Applause Books has begun! You could be the lucky winner of Dale Sherman’s book, MASH FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Best Care Anywhere. The contest runs from April 26 through May 17 so be quick and enter before time runs out! Click on the link below to enter the contest and learn more about it.

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00122480Here’s the lowdown on the unforgettable show about the Forgotten War. M*A*S*H began as a novel written by a surgeon who had been in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. After being rejected multiple times, the novel would go on to become a bestseller, leading to 14 sequels, an Oscar-winning movie that propelled its director and actors to stardom, and a multiple-Emmy-winning television series that lasted nearly four times the length of the war.

MASH FAQ looks at how the novel came to be, its follow-ups in literary form, the creation of the popular movie, and – most importantly – the television series that transformed comedy and television in the 1970s. Included are chapters on the top-20 pranks of M*A*S*H, the cast members’ careers before and after the television show, famous guest appearances, and movies shown in the mess hall.

Beyond the fiction, MASH FAQ also features a brief chapter to put the war into perspective for easy referral – and looks at what led to the Korean War, how such medical units functioned, and how M*A*S*H shaped our perception of the era.

Dave Thompson on Lincoln Live!

Dave Thompson, author of The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ,spoke with Dale Johnson of Lincoln Live. They spoke about the writer of the play Richard O’Brien, what drew Dave Thompson to writing the book, and more! Listen to what they had to say in the podcast below!

>>LISTEN<<

00139671When assessing the cultural impact of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, author Dave Thompson does not pull his punches: “Forty-plus years on from its debut in a tiny London theater; four decades, too, from its transition to the silver screen, Rocky Horror stands among the 1970s’ most lasting, and successful, contributions to modern culture.”

Thompson’s latest contribution to the Applause Books FAQ series, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ (April 2016, Applause Books, $19.99) is the in-depth story of not only the legendary stage show and movie, but of a unique period in theatrical history, in both the movie’s UK homeland and overseas.

Inside these pages, we see Rocky Horror as sexual cabaret and political subversion, as modern mega-hit and Broadway disaster. At the movie house, we learn when to shout, what to throw, and why people even do those things. Here is the full story of the play’s original creation; its forebears and its influences are laid out in loving detail, together with both the triumphs and tragedies that attended it across the next 40 years.

Packed with anecdotes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ is the story of dozens of worldwide performances and the myriad stars who have been featured in them. From Tim Curry to Anthony Head, from Reg Livermore to Gary Glitter, from Daniel Abineri to Tom Hewitt, the lives and careers of the greatest ever Frank N. Furters stalk the pages, joined by the Riff-Raffs, Magentas, Columbias, and all the rest.

The book also includes the largest and most in-depth Rocky Horror discography ever published, plus a unique timeline – The Ultimate Rocky Horror Chronology – detailing the who, what, where, and when of absolute pleasure.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ will have you doing the Time Warp again!

Michael White, Rocky Horror Producer, Dies at 80

Michael White, who produced the first stage version on The Rocky Horror Show, has passed away at age 80. Dave Thompson discusses White’s vital contributions to show and, indirectly, to the movie that followed in The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ. Below is an excerpt.


00139671Born in Glasgow, educated at the Sorbonne, and a Wall Street runner in the New York of the 1950s, Michael White entered the world of theater following his return to the UK in the late 1950s. Pursuing a long-held interest in theater, he became assistant to Sir Peter Lauderdale Daubeny, as he launched the renowned World Theatre Season at the Aldwych Theatre in London (home to the Royal Shakespeare Company), with the cosmopolitan goal of introducing British audiences to new plays from around the world.
In 1962, White made his own debut as a West End producer, overseeing Jack Gelber’s The Connection; since that time, he had handled works as disparate as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1966); the long-running Sleuth (1969); and, most notoriously, Hair, Oh! Calcutta! and The Dirtiest Show in Town.
He was instrumental, in 1967, in plans to bring Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground to London, for a week long engagement at the Chalk Farm Roundhouse, beginning May 21, 1967—a significant venture in that it would have marked the first and only time the original incarnation of that so legendary band, featuring Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico, made it to European shores. Sadly, events conspired to stymie the shows, among them White’s own schedule calling him to New York, at precisely the time Warhol would be in London, to oversee the launch of his production of Joe Orton’s Loot.
White was introduced to The Rocky Horror Show by Nicholas Wright. He detailed that phone call in the booklet accompanying the show’s fifteenth anniversary CD box set.
“I received a phone call from [Wright], who said they were doing a new musical in the Theatre Upstairs and were looking for a producer to put up £3,000 towards the cost of production, in return for the West End rights.” And later, in his autobiography, he described it as a career high point he never tired of.
“Many of my productions I have admired objectively, abstractly. I loved every minute of Rocky Horror . . . it is the only show I have ever done that I can watch time and time again—I must have seen it a hundred times. It is snappy; only an hour and twenty minutes; non-stop, no interval. Every three minutes you are being socked with another song or event. Everything about it works. The Rocky Horror Show is critic proof.”
In later years, White would work with some of the greatest comics of the British 1970s and 1980s, both as producer of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail and then as co-creator of The Comic Strip Presents, an early 1980s TV series starring (among others) Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ade Edmondson and Nigel Planer.
White published his autobiography, Empty Seats, in 1985, and was the subject, in 2013, of Gracie Otto’s documentary The Last Impresario. It was a fine portrait of, and a fitting tribute to, a man who had seemingly dedicated his career to confronting the British theatergoing public with the unusual, the risqué and the controversial.

Love, Peace, and Soul

In her book,  Love, Peace, and Soul Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show Soul Train: Classic Moments, Ericka Blount Danois tells the story of Don Cornelius and the television juggernaut he created.  Watch the video below to learn more about the book and and the show that inspired it!

Love, Peace, and Soul tells the story of the television phenomenon known as Soul Train, a show created in the land of bell bottoms, afros, and soul power; a show that became the touchstone of the Baby Boomer generation. Don Cornelius, host and owner of the show, was one of the coolest cats on television. With his platform shoes, wide neckties, and mellifluous voice, he showed the world just how corny American Bandstand was in comparison. In 2012, fans were shocked to hear one of the most powerful men in the music and television business took his own life.

Love, Peace, and Soul is a celebratory, behind-the-scenes collection of anecdotes, stories, and reflections, from the people who were there, about the host, the show, and the power of black music and dance on television.

Music and television connoisseurs will enjoy the history of not just Soul Train, but of other shows, including Shindig!Don Kirshner’s Rock ConcertHullabalooAmerican Bandstand, and Graffiti Rock. Entrepreneurs will be interested in Cornelius’ humble beginnings with the local version of the show in Chicago, created with his own money. Fans will delight in the lively images and the quirky details. The first mass market book on Soul Train since Cornelius’s passing, this volume has something for everyone. Includes afterword by Gary Harris.

Dave Thompson on After Hours AM

Dave Thompson, author of Haunted America FAQ, spoke with Eric Olsen and Joel Sturgis of After Hours AM. They spoke about his current book and how he manged to write over 100 books! Click on the link below to hear the entire interview!

>>Listen<<

00128461Asked if she was believed in ghosts, Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand (1697-1780) replied, “No, but I am afraid of them.”

Whether you share the Marquise’s position or not, there is no doubt that the idea visitors from the afterlife has gripped humankind since time began. Ancient cultures East and West took spirits for granted, and reported sightings continue to this day—many of them close to home in every corner of the United States.

In Haunted America FAQ, Dave Thompson has created a fast-paced survey of the ghosts, ghouls, and associated denizens of the country’s haunted history. Tracing local ghost stories back to Native American legends and then forward through horror tales both ancient and modern, the book revisits some of the best-known haunted locales, as well as some of the most obscure creepy places, in America.

Delving deep into the cultural history of American hauntings, Haunted America FAQ features chapters on ghosts in cemeteries, amusement parks, government buildings, hospitals, and more, as well as ghostly books, movies, and television. Also included are a roundup of reality-TV ghost hunts and a state-by-state gazetteer of haunted spots.

Haunted America FAQ will amaze believers and skeptics alike with the history and range of spectral sightings it uncovers from around the country and, maybe, just around the corner.

Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story

 Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story, written by Michael Seth Starr this book tells the story of the veteran comedian and “overnight sensation” at the age of 49 whose early life was defined by adversity. Featured below is an interview with Michael Seth Starr on St. Louis Public Radio, where he talk about the book and the life of a true comic genius —  Jon Sanford a.k.a Redd Foxx.

>>LISTEN<<

00314800Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story tells the remarkable story of Foxx, a veteran comedian and “overnight sensation” at the age of 49 whose early life was defined by adversity – and his post-Sanford and Son years by a blur of women, cocaine, endless lawsuits, financial chaos, and a losing battle with the IRS.

Foxx’s frank, trailblazing style as the “King of the Party Records” opened the door for a generation of African-American comedians including Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock.

Foxx took the country by storm in January 1972 as crotchety, bow-legged Watts junk dealer Fred Sanford in Sanford and Son, one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history. Fred’s histrionic “heart attacks” (“It’s the big one, Elizabeth! I’m comin’ to join ya, honey!”) and catchphrases (“You big dummy!”) turned Fred Sanford into a cultural icon and Redd Foxx into a millionaire. Sanford and Son took Foxx to the pinnacle of television success – but would also prove to be his downfall.

Interviews with friends, confidantes, and colleagues provide a unique insight into this generous, brash, vulnerable performer – a man who Norman Lear described as “inherently, innately funny in every part of his being.”

Kit O’Toole writes about what made ‘Off the Wall’ timeless

With the Michael Jackson documentary making its way this month to Showtime, author of Michael Jackson FAQ Kit O’Toole, tells us 5 integral elements that made Off the Wall a modern classic. Read below!


Michael Jackson’s landmark solo record Off the Wall is receiving the royal treatment this month, with Spike Lee’s documentary Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall debuting this month on Showtime. The original album will be reissued as part of a package bundling the CD with the DVD or Blu ray of the film. Lee’s movie serves as a reminder of the importance of the album, a sophisticated blend of R&B, funk, disco, and jazz that sounds as fresh today as it did in 1979. Artists such as Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Beyoncé still emulate its genre-spanning sound, winning crossover appeal with polished dance grooves.

What makes Off the Wall so effective and timeless that it inspires musicians in 2016? Five integral elements contributed to the making of a modern classic.

  1. Michael Jackson’s voice. Producer Quincy Jones encouraged Jackson to explore the full range of his voice, particular the lower register. Renowned vocal coach Seth Riggs was hired to work with the singer, and their partnership would continue for the rest of Jackson’s career. From the moment a deeper voice utters “You know, I was wondering” at the beginning of the kickoff track “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” a more mature Jackson has made his entrance, announcing a new era in his artistry. His sensual voice wraps around the words in “Rock with You,” seducing a woman through music and dance. When he half-whispers “Love to run my fingers / Softly while you sigh,” Jackson demonstrates his skills as an interpreter, his phrasing perfectly suiting the mood of the romantic “I Can’t Help It.” If anyone doubted his skills as a vocalist before, Off the Wall immediately put those fears to rest.
  2. Quincy Jones’ production. When Jones met Jackson on the set of The Wiz, they quickly formed a personal and professional bond. Toward the end of filming, Jackson asked for recommendations for possible producers for an upcoming solo album. Jones subsequently suggested himself, a controversial idea at the time. Epic Records doubted Jones, a jazz composer and producer, could successfully oversee a crossover R&B/pop album. Instead, he used his jazz background to create a sophisticated album, drawing upon his vast musical connections to recruit the best musicians available. Artists such as George Duke (keyboards), Larry Carlton (guitar), Louis Johnson (bass, best known as a member of the Brothers Johnson), and Jerry Hey (trumpet) shaped the sound, while Jones protégé Patti Austin provided backing vocals and sang on the duet “It’s the Falling in Love.” Jones surrounded Jackson with seasoned singers and musicians, resulting in a cosmopolitan, polished sound that elevated disco to new realms.
  3. Rod Temperton’s songs. A member of the group Heatwave, Temperton penned hits such as “Always and Forever,” “Boogie Nights,” and “The Groove Line.” Recognizing his talent for blending jazz and R&B, Jones recruited the composer/keyboardist to write songs for Jackson’s new project. He submitted three tracks for consideration: “Rock with You,” “Off the Wall,” and “Burn This Disco Out.” To Temperton’s amazement, Jones selected all three compositions. The first two would largely shape the album, allowing Jackson to fully explore his range as well as his “percussive singing” ability. “Off the Wall” contains unusual, jazz-tinged chord changes in the chorus, and “Rock with You” includes lyrics that perfectly capture the romance (if temporary) of disco. After proving his hit making capabilities, Temperton would go on to write classics such as “Yah Mo B There” by James Ingram and Michael McDonald; “Sweet Freedom” by McDonald; “Give Me the Night” by George Benson: and, most famously, “Thriller,” “The Lady in My Life,” and “Baby Be Mine” by Jackson.
  4. Michael Jackson’s songs. During his time with his brothers as The Jacksons, Jackson had rapidly developed as a songwriter. His first solo composition, “Blues Away,” had appeared on the group’s self-titled 1976 LP; however, he proved his talent for writing catchy songs with “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” from the 1978 Jacksons album Destiny. When it came time to begin work on Off the Wall, Jackson recorded three demos: “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” “Working Day and Night,” and “Get on the Floor” (co-written with Louis Johnson). The first two tracks reveal Jackson’s love of heavy rhythm, with “Working Day and Night” allowing him to use his voice as a percussive instrument. “Get on the Floor” demonstrates how much Jackson enjoyed recording the album—his laugh and “woo!” toward the end of the song radiates infectious joy. “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” became a massive hit, foreshadowing future masterpieces such as “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.” Jackson clearly had a knack for writing R&B and dance tracks with pop appeal, a technique that would win over fans of various genres.
  5. Paulinho da Costa’s percussion. An unsung hero of the album, da Costa provided the intricate percussion heard on Off the Wall. Originally from Brazil, da Costa was an in-demand musician, appearing on thousands of albums as well as recording soundtracks for movies and television. His style mixes jazz, Cuban, and Brazilian influences, making him a frequent Jones collaborator. In his autobiography Moonwalk, Jackson names da Costa as an essential ingredient of “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” Indeed, that track as well as “Working Day and Night,” “Get on the Floor,” the title track, and “Burn This Disco Out” would simply not work without da Costa’s complicated, driving rhythms. He was capable of more subtle work, too, particularly on the Stevie Wonder composition “I Can’t Help It.” Listen to Off the Wall through headphones to fully experience da Costa’s masterful percussive work.

Off the Wall remains a classic because it sounds timeless, a remarkable feat considering it dates from the last days of disco. Jackson proved that dance music could be sophisticated and incorporate various genres. His willingness to cross boundaries and transcend simple musical labels would serve him well, the ultimate example being the crossover success of Thriller. Not stopping there, Jackson would continue experimenting with classical, rock, hip hop, R&B, funk, and pop throughout his career. The 1979 album would mark a turning point in Jackson’s life, one that officially established him as an adult artist with a unique voice. Off the Wall would provide a template for future artists to follow, challenging them to reach fans through intelligent, multi-genre tracks. When Jackson sings, “I sure would like just to groove with you,” listeners cannot help but obey.

John Kenneth Muir discusses The X-Files

Author of The X-Files FAQ, John Kenneth Muir, has reviewed the first episode of the television show The X-Files! Read below to see what he had to say.


00124644After far too long an absence from television, Chris Carter’s The X-Files (1993-2002) returned to television on Monday night with an episode titled, cannily, “My Struggle.”

That title — not coincidentally, I presume — is also the translated-to-English title of Adolf Hitler’s 1925 literary autobiography, Mein Kampf.

That historical fact may prove the key to understanding better this new starting point for the series.

When we consider Hitler and his particular “struggle,” we think immediately of genocide, totalitarianism, and fascism.

We think of a man who destroyed both individual freedom, and the lives of millions of innocent people. That autobiography, written in a jail cell, laid out one man’s mad dream essentially, for Germany and the world.

Unfortunately, Hitler made much of that mad dream a reality before his death.

And if viewers and critics believe that this new X-Files series doesn’t address those very same issues, they aren’t paying close enough attention.

The title should cue them in.

Specifically, our old friends Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) — now estranged — are informed of a terrifying conspiracy by an Internet celebrity and fear peddler: Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale). 

Think Alex Jones meets Glenn Beck, only better dressed.

O’Malley’s story of an “evil” conspiracy in “My Struggle” involves the invasion of America, illicit scientific experiments on American citizens, and the vast expansion of a totalitarian state. 

In other words, the tale concerns a 21st century threat to our freedom not entirely unlike the threat to Germany (and later the Allies) in the 1930s and 1940s.

I have often written of Carter’s powerful sense of anticipatory anxiety in relation to The X-Files, Millennium (1993-1996) and Harsh Realm (1999-2000). In the nineties, he feared that the Clinton Era of Peace and Prosperity couldn’t last. We were so distracted by the Economic Boom created by the Internet that many of us weren’t paying attention to the larger world.

And Carter was right, of course. The Age of Peace and Prosperity — the Roaring Nineties,if you will — came to a crashing end on 9/11/2001.

Read his review in its entirety here.


John Kenneth Muir was also interviewed by Geek Chic Elite. The interview is available below!

 

With twenty five reference books to his credit, author John Kenneth Muir’s latest release is called THE X-FILES FAQ, which explores the 1990’s series that aired on Fox for nine seasons. Recently, we had a chance to talk to John about the new book, the legacy of creator Chris Carter and what his thoughts were on the six part X-Files ‘event’ series.

Were you always interested in writing and how did you move into the world of literary critic?

Well, I began my career as a literary critic, I think it was when I was five years old. My parents had the knowledge or foresight to sit me down in front of a British science fiction series called Space: 1999 and the episode I watched was called ‘Dragon’s Domain’ and it was about the people in the year 1999 encountering this horrible tentacle monster that would suck people into its mouth and spit out steaming bones. I was five years old and this just sort of struck me, the idea of these people of the future, because then of course 1999 was the distance future as this was 1975, I thought the people of the distant future and all of their technology but they’re encountering a monster. It was like science fiction meets horror, high tech meets gothic, it just obsessed me and it started the next decade I guess, in the eighties, I read all of these things about shows that I love like The Outer Limits, Star Trek, Twilight Zone and no one had written a book about Space: 1999 and I thought one of these days I’m going to write a book about this show and the values it had as this sort of gothic show. So I went to college, I studied in film, I had a concentration of film studies and so I kind of learned the language of film through that and then I thought, but what if I could analyze Space: 1999 through film studies techniques and boom, I had my first book. By 1994 I guess I was twenty five, I had a contract for my first book about Space: 1999 using my film study background and I been doing it now for twenty years about other topics I love.

Read more here

Win TV Finales FAQ!

Applause books has partnered with Erie Gay News to give away a copy of TV Finales FAQ to one lucky winner! Visit the page below to enter the contest, but hurry contest ends on February 16th. Best of luck!

>>Enter Here<<

00127918borderFrom Mary Richards’ heartfelt goodbye to the WJM-TV newsroom in the classic finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show to the puzzling conclusion of the enigmatic adventure series, Lost, to the tumultuous final hours in the life of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, TV Finales FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Endings to Your Favorite Shows by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren takes an up-close, insightful, and entertaining look at the most memorable final episodes of television’s most popular prime time, daytime, and late night series.
 
Crafting the final episode to a long-running television series can be challenging for producers and writers who want to remain faithful to the show’s characters and history, yet, at the same time, satisfy the high expectations of its loyal fan base. TV Finales FAQ offers television viewers the inside story on the creation, broadcast, and aftermath of the most famous (and infamous) final episodes of more than 50 television series from the 1960s through the present day.

In TV Finales FAQ, Tropiano and Van Buren dissect the final episodes that broke ratings records, like The Fugitive and M*A*S*H; those that left us scratching our heads, like Roseanne and The Sopranos; and the ones that propelled characters into the future – successfully or not – like Dawson’s Creek and Will & Grace.  The book also looks at soap operas, daytime and late-night talk show finales, and, in a section called “Saying Goodbye,” looks a series finales that presented their main characters with only one option: close up shop and move on.  Finally, the authors make their case for the best series finales, the ones that left critics thrilled, fans satiated, and television history changed.
 
The closing acts of Mad Men, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, Dark Shadows, Donahue, Sex and the City, All My Children, and dozens more shows can be found in TV Finales FAQ. Packed with details about casts and guest stars, airdates, ratings, production, and episode plots, it is a delectable read for any TV buff.

John Kenneth Muir on After Hours AM!

John Kenneth Muir author of The X-Files FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week, spoke with Joel Sturgis and Eric Olsen about his book and the X-Files TV series! Listen to the podcast below to learn more!

>>LISTEN<<

00124644The X-Files FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week explores Chris Carter’s popular 1990s science-fiction TV series, which aired on Fox for nine seasons and inspired spin-offs, including feature films, TV shows, toys, novels, and comic books. The book explores the series in terms of its historical context and analyzes how many of the episodes tackle the events of their time: the Clinton era. The X-Files FAQ also tallies the episodes that are based on true stories, selects touchstone moments from the almost decade-long run, and organizes the series by its fantastic subject matter – from serial killers to aliens, from prehistoric menaces to ethnic and religious-based horrors.

The X-Files FAQ also features a foreword written by screenwriter Chris Carter who credits John Muir for his impressive and thoughtful musings. In the book you’ll read that the writing on the show, X-Files, was only half what made the show what it is today. The people who worked on the show were working in a visual medium, and as Chris Carter states in the foreword “the show somehow managed to turn that rectangle box we all viewed each week into something special and often unexpected.”

In addition, the book recalls the TV antecedents (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) and descendants (Fringe) of The X-Files, examines the two feature films, and investigates Chris Carter’s other creations, including Millennium, The Lone Gunmen, Harsh Realm, and The After. Featuring numerous stills and the show’s most prominent writers and directors, The X-Files FAQ allows readers to relive the “Mytharc” conspiracy and the unforgettable monsters of the week – from the Fluke Man to the Peacocks. 

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