Blog Archives

Bob Elliott 1923-2016

We are saddened to hear that comedian Bob Elliott passed away on February 2nd. His most notable work, as one half of the comedic duo “Bob and Ray”, will always be remembered and we offer our condolences to his family and friends. In memory of Bob Elliott, below is an interview from 2013 where he and David Pollack, author of  Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons spoke with radio legend Joe Franklin.


 

By the established comedy conventions of their era, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were true game changers. Never playing to the balcony, Bob and Ray instead entertained each other. Because they believed in their nuanced characters and absurd premises, their audience did, too. Their parodies – broadcasting about broadcasting – existed in their own special universe. A complete absence of show-biz slickness set them apart from the very institution they were mocking, yet were still a part of. They resisted being called comedians and never considered themselves “an act.”

Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons traces the origins and development of the pair’s unique sensibility that defined their dozens of local and network radio and TV series, later motion picture roles, Carnegie Hall performances, and hit Broadway show Bob and Ray – The Two and Only.

Together for 43 years (longer than Laurel and Hardy, Burns and Allen, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis), the twosome deflected all intrusions into the personalities behind their many masks and the dynamics of their relationship, and rarely elaborated on their career trajectory or methodology. Now, with the full cooperation of Bob Elliott and of Ray Goulding’s widow, Liz, together with insights from numerous colleagues, their craft and the culture that made them so relevant is explored in depth.

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. 

Mark Clark on Pop Culture Tonight!

Mark Clark, author of Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, spoke with Patrick Phillips on Pop Culture Tonight. They talked about the book and the impact that the Star Wars movies has had on pop culture! Click on the link below to hear more and let us know what you think in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00122914In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”
 
Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.
 
Featuring 38 chapters, such as Echo Base: Homage in Star Wars, New Hope: Assessing Episode IV, and Far, Far Away: Production of Star Wars, Star Wars FAQ introduces the reader to early screenplays drafts that were never filmed and to short biographies of many people who made key contributions to the movies’ success. Star Wars FAQ details every aspect of the original Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). Along the way it unearths under-reported stories and illuminating minutiae often skimmed over or completely ignored in other histories of the legendary film series.

Star Wars is a story full of frantic chases, narrow escapes, daring victories, and tragic setbacks, culminating in an unlikely triumph that changed the course of the galaxy. Illustrated with vintage promotional stills, photographs of memorabilia, and other classic artwork Star Wars FAQ explores how Star Wars changed the movies.

Laura Wayth on Shakespeare Unlimited!

Laura Wayth, author of The Shakespeare Audition, spoke with Neva Grant about her book and why Shakespeare isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Click on the link below to hear more and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00141820Classical auditions, and especially Shakespeare auditions, are a fact of any actor’s life. Theater seasons often call for them, and graduate auditions require them, but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying.

The Shakespeare Audition: How to Get Over Your Fear, Find the Right Piece, and Have a Great Audition by Laura Wayth is here to help! Whether for group auditions or graduate school, every actor needs a good classical piece in his or her arsenal. There have been many books written about acting Shakespeare, but until now there hasn’t been a concise, easy-to-access guide to assist the terrified and time-pressed actor in navigating all the aspects of a classical audition.

In 15 concise chapters, Wayth addresses subjects such as distinguishing poetry and prose in Shakespeare; finding the correct play and character; determining your character’s given circumstances; meter, inflection and images; and much more.

From overcoming the fear of acting Shakespeare to selecting the right material to tips on performing a classical piece – The Shakespeare Audition is the actor’s go-to guide to a successful and compelling audition.

Win The Twilight Zone FAQ!

Once again Applause Books has partnered  with Erie Gay News to give away a copy of one of our books! If you want to win a copy of The Twilight Zone FAQ all you have to do is enter between January 15 to February 5. The contest is open to US residents only. We wish you all the best of luck, enter before it’s too late!

>>Enter Here<<

00130445The Twilight Zone is among the most beloved shows in American television history, a pioneering fantasy behemoth that bridged the cultural gap between the 1950s and 1960s with thought-provoking mystery, mind-boggling theorems, and occasionally outright horror.

The Twilight Zone FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Fifth Dimension and Beyond by Dave Thompson takes the reader back to that era, looking back on the show and its impact as a force for societal change, via reflections on the manifold topics and controversies that the show took on – from the space race to the Red Menace, from paranoia to madness and beyond. Thompson traces the history of the show, from its earliest flowering in the mind of then-unknown Rod Serling through its slow birth, shaky beginning, and breathless five-season run. Along the way, he shows how it became the blueprint for so much of the fantasy television that has followed.

Within The Twilight Zone FAQ, fans will read about the comic books, novels, and many other spin-offs, including the movie, the TV revamps, and even the amusement park ride. In addition, Thompson offers a full guide to every episode, providing details on the cast and music and pinpointing both the best and the worst of the series.

As Thompson writes in his introduction, “Today, as much as ever before, The Twilight Zone is one of the yardsticks by which great television of all eras is measured.” The Twilight Zone FAQ is a brightly opinionated time machine that catapults the reader back to the true golden age of American television.

Mark Clark interviewed on Movie Addict Headquarters

Mark Clark, author of Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, spoke with Betty Jo Tuck on Movie Addict Headquarters. They talked about the book and the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens! Click on the link below to hear more and let us know what you think in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00122914In his foreword to Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, Alan Dean Foster, critically acclaimed author of more than a hundred science fiction and fantasy novels, sums up what the Star Wars FAQ is all about: “Reading a book like Star Wars FAQ is a bit like strolling the streets of London without a guidebook. You know where Big Ben is, but stumbling across the first public drinking fountain in Britain is apt, in its own more modest way, to be even more enchanting.”
 
Star Wars FAQ offers an original analysis of the series’ enduring appeal and cultural impact. In the process, author Mark Clark tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds.
 
Featuring 38 chapters, such as Echo Base: Homage in Star Wars, New Hope: Assessing Episode IV, and Far, Far Away: Production of Star Wars, Star Wars FAQ introduces the reader to early screenplays drafts that were never filmed and to short biographies of many people who made key contributions to the movies’ success. Star Wars FAQ details every aspect of the original Star Wars Trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). Along the way it unearths under-reported stories and illuminating minutiae often skimmed over or completely ignored in other histories of the legendary film series.

Star Wars is a story full of frantic chases, narrow escapes, daring victories, and tragic setbacks, culminating in an unlikely triumph that changed the course of the galaxy. Illustrated with vintage promotional stills, photographs of memorabilia, and other classic artwork Star Wars FAQ explores how Star Wars changed the movies.

Dave Thompson on Tomorrow Will Be Televised

Dave Thompson, author of Twilight Zone FAQ, spoke with Simon Applebaum host of Tomorrow Will Be Televised. Click on the link below to listen to them speak about the impact The Twilight Zone had, The Twilight Zone FAQ, and more! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

>>LISTEN<<

00130445The Twilight Zone is among the most beloved shows in American television history, a pioneering fantasy behemoth that bridged the cultural gap between the 1950s and 1960s with thought-provoking mystery, mind-boggling theorems, and occasionally outright horror.

The Twilight Zone FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Fifth Dimension and Beyond by Dave Thompson takes the reader back to that era, looking back on the show and its impact as a force for societal change, via reflections on the manifold topics and controversies that the show took on – from the space race to the Red Menace, from paranoia to madness and beyond. Thompson traces the history of the show, from its earliest flowering in the mind of then-unknown Rod Serling through its slow birth, shaky beginning, and breathless five-season run. Along the way, he shows how it became the blueprint for so much of the fantasy television that has followed.

Within The Twilight Zone FAQ, fans will read about the comic books, novels, and many other spin-offs, including the movie, the TV revamps, and even the amusement park ride. In addition, Thompson offers a full guide to every episode, providing details on the cast and music and pinpointing both the best and the worst of the series.

As Thompson writes in his introduction, “Today, as much as ever before, The Twilight Zone is one of the yardsticks by which great television of all eras is measured.” The Twilight Zone FAQ is a brightly opinionated time machine that catapults the reader back to the true golden age of American television.

Wayne Rogers: The Man Who Kicked Hollywood

Dale Sherman, author of the upcoming book M.A.S.H. FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Best Care Anywhere, gave us a few words on the iconic Wayne Rogers who passed away on December 31, 2015. Wayne Rogers was best known for his role as Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre on M.A.S.H. and he will be remembered always by us all.


 

00122480

While working on the final touches of the upcoming MASH FAQ book for Applause (due in April 2016), I was surprised to hear about the death of Wayne Rogers on December 31, 2015.

Rogers is namely remembered today for appearing in the first three seasons of MASH as Trapper John, but his career was much more than that. Born April 7, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama, Rogers graduated from Princeton University then served in the navy for three years.

He ended up in New York, where his roommate, Peter Falk, convinced him to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. From there, he began getting acting gigs in television, including a regular role in the western series Stagecoach West (1960-1961) as “Luke Perry.” In his hours away from the camera, however, he was also gaining a reputation as a businessman who knew the stock market.

Becoming friends with Ted V. Mikels in the early 1960s, Rogers co-wrote and coproduced two films with the director, Dr. Sex (1964) and the notoriously oddball The Astro-Zombies (1968). He also appeared in several roles on the television series The F.B.I. and popped up in Cool Hand Luke (1968), when he was talked into trying out for MASH. Although initially interested in the Hawkeye role, when told that Alan Alda was about to sign, Rogers took on the Trapper John role instead after being told that the two would trade off on storylines as the lead.

Things didn’t turn out that way, however. Getting off on the wrong foot with series developer Larry Gelbart by reading gag lines different than how the writer wished, Rogers found the Trapper role being diminished in favor of Hawkeye. This irked Rogers especially when the storyline established in the book and film that saw Trapper becoming chief surgeon and a chestcutter (something even established in very early episodes of the series for Trapper) were given to Hawkeye in the series. “They took away Trapper’s credentials, his identity,” Rogers stated later on. “It didn’t bother me that they chose to make Hawkeye more important, but don’t emasculate my character.”

Eventually, Rogers offered to appear in the second season as an occasional character that had more to do in an episode here and there, rather than just be “Hawkeye’s audience.” (“You save money and I won’t feel like I’m wasting my time and I won’t feel like I’m being treated in some half-assed manner.”) He was talked back, but then threatened to quit again as the third season was around the corner. Due to this, Mike Farrell was asked if he would be ready to replace Rogers in the program, and as Rogers was independently making money in the stock market and with other business ventures, it was looking good that he wouldn’t return. Instead, he did, but after the third season, he pulled out.

Fox sued, only to find out that he never signed his contract with the studio. Rogers would go on to appear in the cult favorite City of Angels and had some minor success with a television adaptation of the movie House Calls (oddly enough, a series that faced another situation where a main actor had issues with the production team and studio for personal reasons). He also was a chairman of the board for Stop-N-Save, LLC, as well as having produced plays, including a female-reversal version of The Odd Couple starring Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers. More recently he popped up many times on Fox News to discuss financial matters and co-wrote a book in 2011 called Make Your Own Rules.

In the past decades or so, Rogers publicly made his peace about MASH, appearing in some documentaries about the program, and even admitted at one point that had he known the series would become more character-based in later years, he probably would have stayed on. Even so, it was clear in interviews that he considered the role a job like any other and didn’t feel anything special about a gig he took for three years more than forty years ago.

Wayne Rogers was definitely a man who didn’t find anything magical about Hollywood. Magical about acting, perhaps, but not Hollywood, and had no need for it. In some ways, he’s probably happy that he managed to thumb his nose at the traditional “last call for stars” news and movie channels do reflecting on the passing of actors that always happen at this time of year. To give Hollywood one final kick in the pants by messing up their memorials no doubt would have made him smile.

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