With the New Year a couple days away, Syfy will be airing a Twilight Zone marathon on New Year’s Day. Enjoy an excerpt below from Dave Thompson’s, The Twilight Zone FAQ. The Twilight Zone FAQ takes the reader back to that halcyon 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.
“Where Is Everybody?” (First broadcast: October 2, 1959)
The Twilight Zone’s much-anticipated pilot episode was the tale of a man who found himself alone on a road, walking into a strange town, and discovering that he was the only person there. Every place he visited, from a diner on the outskirts, to the police station, a movie theater and a drugstore, was deserted, and while he continually saw signs of recent activity . . . a boiling coffeepot, a still-lit cigar, a ringing telephone and so on . . . life itself was altogether absent. His sole companions, it appeared, were a dressmaker’s mannequin seated in a car and his own reflection in a mirror.
It is a fascinating study of isolation and loneliness, edging into paranoia and terror. Throughout what quickly turns from a perplexing mystery to a screaming terror, the man cannot help but feel he is under constant observation, and when he finally cracks, that was the horror that he verbalizes. Stop watching me!
Only in the last minutes of the story do we understand who the man is and why he is in this predicament—an astronaut undergoing isolation training, in the days when the space race was still in its infancy and science had barely succeeded even in launching satellites into space, let alone a manned craft. Some liberties were taken, of course. The dimensions of the Mercury spacecraft, after all, were tiny—so much so that no candidate over five-foot-eleven and 180 pounds could even be considered.
Ferris appears much larger than this (although it is difficult to judge, with all but a few moments of his entire time on-screen being spent alone). But nobody watching the episode would doubt that he readily filled another of the requirements—he was a “superb physical specimen . . . [a] mature, middle-class American, average in . . . and visage, [a] family man.”
But he is also a family man who is left shattered by the sheer desperate loneliness of the mission he is about to undertake. For, staring up at the sky, to the stars and moon, even the most hardened viewer cannot but suppress a shiver as Serling reveals what awaited Ferris, and all who would follow in his footsteps.
“Up there . . . up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky . . . up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting . . . waiting with the patience of eons . . . forever waiting . . . in the Twilight Zone.” “Where Is Everybody?” was filmed on the same Universal-International lot that had hitherto featured in such movies as It Came from Outer Space (1953) and Tarantula (1955); and, later, would be seen in Gremlins (1984) and Back to the Future (1985).
The decision to allow Serling himself to handle the narration was very much a last-minute thing—other names were suggested, including Westbrook Van Voorhis, of the March of Time series of radio broadcasts and newsreels, but fears that such already-familiar voices were too readily associated with other shows eventually saw the field whittled down to the show’s creator alone. Just as he had always intended.
It was a move that would find immediate support from the critics. Deep into the first season, TV Guide was still moved to report, “a highly competent group of actors has been employed on The Twilight Zone—Burgess Meredith, Everett Sloane, Dan Duryea, Ed Wynn, fellows like that. But the real star of the series is its creator, chief writer, executive producer and narrator, Serling himself. It is the Serling touch that brings The Twilight Zone out of the everyday—and into the beyond”; establishing it, in fact, as “the most refreshing new anthology series in some time, [with] imagination, highly competent production and excellent acting. There isn’t much meat in it, but, for a mulligan stew, it is a tasty dish indeed.”
The New York Daily News agreed. “The premiere episode of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone … was a suspenseful, tautly-written story of an Air Force officer who finds himself in a completely deserted town. This is still an interesting theme, even though it has been used in other works, including the current [science fiction/end of the world] movie, The World, the Flesh and the Devil.” An interesting comparison, albeit one that must take into consideration the very different payoffs that the two productions deliver.
Other reviews of the episode were likewise enthusiastic.
“This debut scored with dramatic impact infrequently found when the TV camera attempts to focus on the fringes of fantasy, and while short on insight, it was strong on style and solidly suspenseful,” declared the Hollywood Reporter, while Time magazine called the show “a fresh idea presented by people with a decent respect for the medium and the audience . . . proof that a little talent and imagination can atone for a lot of television.”
In the Chicago Sun-Times, Earl Holliman was singled out as “painfully convincing as the last man on earth in an episode that brilliantly exploited those story line details the eye and ear remember long after the fadeout.” Across the board, reviews and reviewers were spellbound, although there was some dissent. The revelation that the events of the show took place only in the mind of a NASA test subject was not to everybody’s taste—more than one viewer, at the time and subsequently, would describe the tale’s solution as simply a variation on the most grisly storytelling clich. of them all, the breathless cliff-hanger that is resolved because “then the little boy woke up.”
Or, as Variety put it, “since the zinger lies in the denouement, it is here where Serling lets down his audience by providing a completely plausible and logical explanation. Somehow the viewer can’t help but feel cheated, even though Serling gives it a topicality attuned to the current human experimentations in preparation for space travel. A science fiction ending would be more in the realm of the imagination.”
But the strength of the story, the beauty of the photography and the power of the more-or-less monologuing Earl Holliman were such that any and all disappointments were overridden. Such values were, of course, common to many pilot episodes, as all concerned threw their very best efforts into displaying the project in the best possible light. But Serling was already committed to retaining those values throughout the entire series, a point that Variety predicted in its review of the opening story. “Everything about [The] Twilight Zone suggests solid production values, with director Robert Stevens extracting maximum performance in this one-man (almost right up to the end) journey into shadow.”
Yet ratings were low. Lower than low. Then sponsors were edgy, the network aghast. Serling might have consoled himself with the knowledge that the fifteen million people who tuned in for the first few episodes was many more than witnessed Oklahoma! throughout its entire Broadway run, but he was comparing chalk and cheese.
With less than one-half of the season either filmed or in production, the possibility that The Twilight Zone might be canceled before its first season was even complete was never far away. Serling himself joked that there were three principal occupational hazards facing the average television producer—hair loss, hypertension and ulcers. He only hoped he could keep all three at bay until the full season was in the can, but a growing tide of industry opinion seemed to be that the show’s life span was already nearing its end.
No matter that ratings offered only a very subjective snapshot of a show’s overall viewing public . . . in that strange way the human race has of playing “follow the leader” at every available opportunity, the news that a show was struggling in the ratings was itself often enough to turn hitherto faithful viewers away from it—out of fear, perhaps, that their neighbors might discover they watched a loser show, and ostracize them accordingly.
Serling himself believed a mail bag that hit twenty-five hundred letters across the first three weeks of the show spoke louder than the ratings, and maybe he was correct. But networks are in the business of pleasing their sponsors, and sponsors are in the business of making money. A couple of thousand people had bought a couple of thousand stamps, and used them to mail a couple of thousand letters, that is true. But how many General Foods products did they also buy? How many Kimberly-Clark?
Enough, it seemed. By the end of the year, Serling was claiming that at least one of the show’s sponsors had informed him that there was a 90 percent chance of the company renewing its sponsorship on the strength of the show’s mailbag . . . or, rather, on the strength of its contents, which was almost unilaterally in favor of the show. Other observers, too, were impressed. Bill Baur of TV Guide even claimed that Serling was in receipt of more fan mail than anybody else on television. . . even if “a great deal of [it] is from neighboring planets.”
In fact, Serling placed very little faith in the content of his mailbag, positive or negative, recalling instead how a favorite episode of the Lassie show, in which the titular collie gives birth to a litter of puppies, was lambasted by viewers—many from the Deep South; many written in the same hand and posted from the same mailbox, that apparently compared the birth of Lassie’s pups to some kind of bump-and-grind burlesque show. To which the network responded by banning any further scenes in which puppies might be born.
Besides, the highest accolades were still to come. In January 1960, at its annual Milestone Award dinner, the Screen Producers Guild declared The Twilight Zone as the best-produced television film series of 1959—a considerable feat for a show that had only debuted in October! Producer Buck Houghton received his award from actress Jane Wyman, and, a month later, the New York Times was repeating that both of the show’s sponsors, General Foods and Kimberly-Clark, had renewed their sponsorship deals for the remaining ten episodes of the season. A further ten, opening a second season, were confirmed by CBS on May 11, 1960. (Kimberly- Clark would drop their sponsorship of the show following the last of the summer reruns. They were replaced for season two by Colgate-Palmolive.)
Later in the year, The Twilight Zone won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Work of 1959 in the science fiction field—the first of three consecutive such victories; quickly followed by the first of two successive Emmys. Nor was the show only winning the respect of the industry. Science fiction fandom, too, was thrilling to its audacity and imagination.
Carrie Fisher, best known for for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga, has died. Below is an excerpt from Star Wars FAQ (Mark Clark) and how Carrie was chosen for the role.
Even before George Lucas had completed his Star Wars screenplay he was faced with finding actors to portray his still-evolving characters. Auditions began in late August 1975, while Lucas was finishing the fourth draft of the script. While not quite as excruciating a process as writing the films (see Chapter 4), casting soon became another protracted ordeal – both Lucas and for the actors under consideration for major roles.
Lucas wanted to hire young, unknown performers for the picture’s leading roles, as he had for American Graffiti. This was in part a cost-containment strategy, but he also believed that actors not already associated with other characters would be more effective in the fantasy context of Star Wars. It was one thing to ask viewers to accept Wookiees, lightsabers, and the Force, but something else again to ask viewers to accept someone like, say, Ron Howard as Luke Skywalker. To assist with the talent search, Lucas again relied on casting director Fred Roos, who had served marvelously on Graffiti. At the beginning of the process, Lucas, Roos, and several assistants worked twelve hour days, seeing as many as 250 actors per day. After three grueling weeks of this, to save time and money, Lucas joined forces with another young director, Brian De Palma, who was looking for a group of young unknowns to star in his film Carrie (1976). Lucas and De Palma took the unusual step of hosting joint auditions. Hundreds more actors were invited to come in and try out for both films. Lucas’ demeanor during the process was so low-key that some of the would-be cast member mistook him for De Palma’s assistant.
Nevertheless Lucas had definite ideas about what he wanted and placed a premium on chemistry between his leads. During callbacks (without De Palma), he screen-tested actors as ensembles to see how various would-be Leias, Lukes, and Hanes worked in concert with one another. Early on, Lucas wanted to hire legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune to play Ben Kenobi, but Mifune declined. “If I’d gotten Mifune, I would’ve used a Japanese princess, and then I would have probably cast a black Han Solo,” said Lucas in J. W. Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars. One of the trios in contention for the leading roles featured newcomer Will Seltzer as Luke, former Penthouse centerfold Terri Nunn as Leia, and a young Christopher Walken as Han.
Jodie Foster was given serious consideration as Princess Leia. She was screen-tested, but not hired because she was only thirteen years old at the time, and casting a minor would introduce restrictions on the shooting schedule. (De Palma declined to cast her in Carrie for the same reason.) Other performers in the running for major roles included John Travolta, Am Irving (both eventually hired for Carrie), Nick Nole, Tommy Lee Jones, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (later “Boom Boom” Washington on Welcome Back Kotter) – a potential Hans Solo. Ultimately, of course, Lucas settled on Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carri Fisher for leads; a pair of distinguished British actors for key supporting parts; and four performers with specialized talents (and physiques) for the remainder of the primary cast.
None of their lives would ever be the same.
Roos also suggested that Lucas consider Carrie Fisher for the role of Princess Leia. Fisher, born October 21, 1956, in Beverly Hills, was Hollywood royalty herself – the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. Her parents divorced when Fisher was two (Eddie left Debbie to marry Elizabeth Taylor). Fisher appeared alongside her mother in the promotional short “A Visit with Debbie Reynolds” (1959) and in the TV movie Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children (1969). Beginning at age twelve, she worked in her mother’s Las Vegas revue, and at sixteen she and her mother appeared together in the Broadway revival of the musical Irene (1972). Prior to Star Wars, Fisher had made just a single screen appearance, but it was an unforgettable one – as Lorna, a precocious teenager who beds Warren Beatty (minutes before her mother does the same) in director Hal Ashby’s sex farce Shampoo (1975). Lucas liked that Fisher could believably play a bossy, intimidating, character yet still seem warm and likable. Despite concerns over the actress’ weight, he cast her as Leia, paying her $750 per week. With Star Wars, Fisher would finally step out of her mother’s shadow.
Star Wars FAQ tells a story as thrilling and action-packed as the movies themselves, with bold characters facing apparently insurmountable odds, full of frantic chases, narrow escapes, daring victories, and tragic setbacks, culminating in an unlikely triumph that changed the course of the galaxy – or at least of Hollywood.
Jeff Cioletti, author of Beer FAQ, sat down with Happy Hour Radio to talk about what else, beer. The interview covered how he got into beer, his inspiration for the book, and more.
This interview gave fans of Beer a snapshot into Jeff’s latest work, Beer FAQ. Jeff is no stranger to the beer as he became engrossed in the industry when he was working at Beverage World in 2003. Over a decade later he has merged his professional and personal life by traveling to various trade shows and countries to learn more about beer.
Jeff is the current editor-at-large of Beverage World Magazine and has offered his beverage-related insights on CNN International, Fox Business News, CNBC, Beer Sessions Radio, NPR, BBC World, BBC Radio, The Associated Press, The New York Post, Financial Times, WCBS-TV, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and many other media outlets.
He discussed the inspiration and process of making the book including what the book entails from the basic history and ingredients, to style, packaging, distribution, and breweriana collectors. The interview continues with Jeff sharing some personal fun facts, upcoming events featuring Beer FAQ, and more.
I think it;s a good sort of guide for anybody who is just getting into beer or if they’ve been into beer for a while.
Beer FAQ features insight not only on how it’s made, but how it makes the journey from the brew house floor to the drinker’s glass. The book offers a touch of history, a bit of globetrotting, and a look at the companies and enterprising individuals leading the modern brewing renaissance. It also offers a nostalgic look at beer’s evolving role in pop culture – from advertising to television to movies – over the past century.
Haunted America FAQ
All That’s Left to Know About the Most Haunted Houses, Cemeteries, Battlefields, and More
by Dave Thompson
Asked 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 (October 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99), 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.
6.0″ x 9.0″
BackBeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dave Thompson is the author of more that 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, with previous titles in the Backbeat Books and Applause Books FAQ Series on Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, South Park, and soccer. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Goldmine, MOJO, Melody Maker and other outlets. He lives in Newark, Del.
We over at Applause Books have partnered with Erie Gay News to give away a copy two of our books. From November 17 to December 8 you have a chance to enter to win Mark Clark’s book, Star Wars FAQ. And starting today you can enter for a chance to win A Chorus Line FAQ by Tom Rowan! The contest for A Chorus Line FAQ ends on Friday, December 11, 2015 so make sure to enter before it’s too late!
The ultimate treasure trove of information, A Chorus Line FAQ presents history and fun facts, including: the unique workshop process through which the show was developed and written, the stories of its creators, the record-breaking Broadway run and numerous touring productions, and the captivating movie version. The book also features all-new chapters on the Broadway revival, the two London productions, and notable regional productions around the country. In addition to a chapter on A Chorus Line cultural history – with a guide to all the pop cultural references in the show – the book includes extensive photos as well as biographical information on the casts of the major productions. There are also chapters on recordings, previous books on the topic, and the landmark show’s influence on subsequent Broadway musicals and films.
In 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.
Mark Clark, author of Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, with Mr. Media recently to talk about “the trilogy that changed the movies.” Check out the video below to see more of what they had to say! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
In 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.
Visit Mr.Media’s webpage here to learn more about this interview.
Tomorrow marks the fourth annual installment of Star Wars Reads Day! We over at Hal Leonard can’t wait to celebrate with one of our published books, Star Wars FAQ. It has gotten great reviews and the online blog, The Bearded Trio, has even said:
“One thing I’ve learned since 1977 — you can ever know too much about Star Wars, and there will always be something you don’t know. I’m constantly (and pleasantly) surprised when I run across a fact or image that is new to me, and Star Wars FAQ did not disappoint on this count. Highly recommended!”
Read the full review here.
To prepare you for a day that is sure to become more and more popular each year, below is an excerpt of Mark Clark’s, Star Wars FAQ Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies. Enjoy!
Even before George Lucas had completed his Star Wars screenplay he was faced with finding actors to portray his still-evolving characters. Auditions began in late August 1975, while Lucas was finishing the fourth draft of the script. While not quite as excruciating a process as writing the film (see Chapter 4), casting soon became another protracted ordeal—both for Lucas and for the actors under consideration for major roles.
Lucas wanted to hire young, unknown performers for the picture’s leading roles, as he had for American Graffiti. This was in part a cost-containment strategy, but he also believed that actors not already associated with other characters would be more effective in the fantasy context of Star Wars. It was one thing to ask viewers to accept Wookiees, lightsabers, and the Force, but something else again to ask viewers to accept someone like, say, Ron Howard as Luke Skywalker. To assist with the talent search, Lucas again relied on casting director Fred Roos, who had served marvelously on Graffiti. At the beginning of the process, Lucas, Roos, and several assistants worked twelve-hour days, seeing as many as 250 actors per day. After three grueling weeks of this, to save time and money Lucas joined forces with another young director, Brian De Palma, who was looking for a group of young unknowns to star in his film Carrie (1976). Lucas and De Palma took the unusual step of hosting joint auditions. Hundreds more actors were invited to come in and try out for both films. Lucas’ demeanor during this process was so low-key that some of the would-be cast members mistook him for De Palma’s assistant.
Nevertheless Lucas had definite ideas about what he wanted and placed a premium on chemistry between his leads. During callbacks (without De Palma), he screen-tested actors as ensembles to see how various would-be Leias, Lukes, and Hanses worked in concert with one another. Early on, Lucas wanted to hire legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune to play Ben Kenobi, but Mifune declined. “If I’d gotten Mifune, I would’ve used a Japanese princess, and then I would have probably cast a black Han Solo,” said Lucas in J. W. Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars. One of the trios in contention for the leading roles featured newcomer Will Seltzer as Luke, former Penthouse centerfold Terri Nunn as Leia, and a young Christopher Walken
Jodie Foster was given serious consideration as Princess Leia. She was screen-tested but not hired because she was only thirteen years old at the time, and casting a minor would introduce restrictions on the shooting schedule. (De Palma declined to cast her in Carrie for the same reason.) Other performers in the running for major roles included John Travolta, Amy Irving (both eventually hired for Carrie), Nick Nolte, Tommy Lee Jones, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (later “Boom Boom” Washington on Welcome Back, Kotter)—a potential Han Solo. Ultimately, of course, Lucas settled on Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher for the leads; a pair of distinguished British actors for key supporting parts; and four performers with specialized talents (and physiques) for the remainder of the primary cast.
None of their lives would ever be the same.
David Bushman and Arthur Smith, authors of Twin Peaks FAQ, to be published this spring by Applause Books, remember Catherine Coulson. Coulson worked behind the scenes on many features and independent films since the age of 15, but perhaps the most iconic role was her role as Margaret Lanterman in the TV series Twin Peaks.
Upon hearing the sad news of Catherine E. Coulson’s passing, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge her unique contribution to the brilliantly skewed tapestry that is Twin Peaks, as well as her status as one of the most beloved figures in Twin Peaks fandom, adored for her iconic performance as Margaret Lanterman—the fabled “Log Lady”—and for her warmth and generosity towards the show’s fans, many of whom she met and talked with at the numerous Twin Peaks fan events she attended with joyous dedication.
The Log Lady was an early point of reference for pundits and fans enumerating Twin Peaks’s intriguing eccentricities: a grave, forbidding figure whose distinguishing characteristic was her ever-present log, a sturdy branch she cradled to her bosom like a beloved child and with which she consulted on matters most troubling and mysterious. She served as the story’s Cassandra figure, dispensing gnomic nuggets of mystically obscure prophesy and insight derived from her log’s silent (to us) utterances. The absurdity of this idea, presented with such solemn gravity, perfectly encapsulates Twin Peaks’s ability to exploit the tension between narrative and aesthetic extremes to create a uniquely disorienting/seductive atmosphere.
Coulson’s deadpan, nearly affectless performance only deepens the strangeness (though she is possessed of a certain flinty, defiant streak: witness her slapping Cooper’s hand away from a tray of cookies, or her habit of leaving her pitch gum stuck to various surfaces in the Double R), and her physical appearance has from the start been one of Twin Peaks’s most recognizable visual elements. We had this to say about her look in the fashion chapter of our upcoming book on the series:
“Mrs. Lanterman definitely has some Earth shoes in her closet—she tends toward earth tones in general (they match her chief accessory, a log), and her eccentric art professor look, with oversized red spectacle frames, voluminous cardigans, severe bobbed haircut, and nature-referencing pins and brooches, suggests a hippy past. One of the series’s most visually iconic characters, the Log Lady is a popular choice for TP cosplayers.”
Coulson had known David Lynch long before the creation of Twin Peaks: she appears in his landmark feature debut, Eraserhead—starring Jack Nance, her husband at the time, who would also join the Twin Peaks cast as good-hearted fisherman Pete Martell. The story goes that Lynch had the Log Lady role in mind for Coulson before there even was a Twin Peaks; during the filming of Eraserhead, he pitched her on a project that would be called I’ll Test My Log with Every Branch of Knowledge, which would feature her as a widow who carried a log around after her husband’s death in a fire.
That show never made it past the idea stage, but clearly the Log Lady concept was an alluring one for Lynch, who recycled the character for Twin Peaks, included her in the series finale after not appearing in the shooting script, gave her an emotionally wrenching scene with Laura Palmer in Fire Walk with Me, and drafted her to present newly written introductions (written by Lynch himself) for Twin Peaks episodes when the series was rebroadcast on the Bravo network.
We get it. The Log Lady is terrific: funny, weird, distinctive, haunting, and sui generis. We will not see her like again . . . thank you, Catherine Coulson, for making television a place more wonderful and strange.
Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the leading publisher of books on music, theater, film, television, and pop culture, is celebrating the arrival of the 50th book in its popular FAQ Series with the publication of Haunted America FAQ by the series’ most prolific author, Dave Thompson.
Since the release of Fab Four FAQ in 2007, the FAQ Series, published under the Backbeat Books and Applause Theatre & Cinema Books imprints, has evolved into a robust, wide-ranging, and successful line, offering books that are one-stop sources for information, history, and minutiae on any given topic, be it an music artist, a film genre, an iconic television show, or, in the case of the 50th FAQ, a pop culture topic. Packed with a staggering amount of data, rare photographs, and period ephemera, these reader-friendly volumes are presented in a lively, engaging style. Each chapter in any FAQ book serves as a freestanding article on any aspect of the story, allowing readers to put down and pick up the book with ease.
“A key aspect of the FAQ series is that the authors are rabid fans of the subjects they write about, and they have keen insight into what other devoted fans are hungry for,” explained Backbeat Books series editor Bernadette Malavarca. “The flexibility of the series’ topical editorial format gives authors an opportunity to cover the subject matter widely but at the same time in great detail. In an FAQ book, info a fan would have to glean through devouring a multitude of different types of media—articles, biographies, documentaries, music histories—comes together in one cohesive, lively volume.”
True to that description, Haunted America FAQ is a fast-paced survey of the ghosts, ghouls, and associated denizens of the nation’s haunted history. Tracing local ghost stories back to Native American legends and forward through horror tales, both ancient and modern, Thompson visits some of the countries best-known haunted locales and most obscure creepy places – from private homes and hotel rooms to schools, parks, prisons, hospitals, battlefields, and nearly anywhere else people go.
In addition to Haunted America FAQ, this fall’s new entries in the series include The Twilight Zone FAQ, also written by Dave Thompson; Star Wars FAQ by Mark Clark; The Beat Generation FAQ by Rich Weidman; The Smiths FAQ by John D. Luerssen; Dracula FAQ by Bruce Scivally; Michael Jackson FAQ by Kit O’Toole; A Chorus Line FAQ by Tom Rowan; The X-Files FAQ by John Kenneth Muir; and TV Finales FAQ by Stephen Tropiano and Holly Van Buren.
Coming soon from Applause Books is The X-Files FAQ! Writer Chris Carter, known for his work on The X-Files and The X-Files ’ cinematic spin-offs, helps contribute to this book by writing the foreword. Read what he had to say below!
As I write this, we are shooting the second episode of the six-episode “event” series that will air on Fox in late January 2016.
It will be the first time the series has aired on TV in fourteen years, and it will be twenty-three years on from the airing of the pilot episode in 1993. That period encompasses about a third of not just my life but the lives of many people who have come back to work on the show now. The comeback could be viewed cynically as an attempt by Fox execs to capitalize on The X-Files “brand,” programming by feather duster, but let me destroy any notion of this from my side of things. Or our side of things, as is the case.
The show was and is a labor of love, and thus a work of art. It takes a great many people working in absolute harmony to create something lasting on television. It is this esprit de corps that makes it all worthwhile. This does not happen accidentally, and I’d like to make it abundantly clear that while I created the show, a great many artistic souls have raised that infant idea into the monster it is today. Beginning with Morgan and Wong, and Gordon and Gansa, in the beginning, Messrs. Spotnitz, Gilligan, and Shiban in the end, the show was protean by nature, including the efforts of writers who came and went and whose contributions are under-sung.
And as you will read in the always impressive and thoughtful musings of John Muir, the writing is only half of it. We work in a visual medium, and the show somehow managed to turn that rectangle box we all viewed each week into something special and often unexpected. The signature qualities of mood and light and perspective can be attributed largely to production design by Michael Nemirski in the pilot, to Graeme Murray and Corey Kaplan on the series, but also to Tom Del Ruth, John Bartley, Jon Joffin, Joel Ransom, and Bill Roe, who lit and photographed it. All under some of the most talented directors and storytellers TV has even known: Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, David Nutter, and R. W. Goodwin. A manager’s dream starting rotation, backed by a bullpen of long and short relievers who stepped in and stepped up. This is not lip service or faint praise. These people helped save my life.
In John Muir’s introduction, I’m quoted as saying, “I didn’t understand what I didn’t understand,” in reference to running the show in the beginning. This is true, but I’d like to put a finer point on that. “I didn’t know what we couldn’t do” is more like it. From the outset, we tried anything and everything we could think of. Met with much resistance, both creative and financial, we managed to do a great many things simply because our imaginations were wilder than the forces trying to tame them. That was also not an accident, and people such as Peter Roth, Ken Horton, Charlie Goldstein, two Jeffs named Eckerly and Glazer, and also Jonathan Littman came to understand we knew what we were doing and rallied in support. Executive Producer R. W. Goodwin was often a convincing voice of reason.
But as I’ve always maintained, none of our good work, artistry, or effort would add up to much if it weren’t for Mulder and Scully. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson brought, and now continue to bring, power and soul to characters who surprisingly continue to grow. To watch them step back into old shoes and bring something new has been a joy. They and the characters have grown wiser with the years, and as I’m often reminded, adversity is the forge of character.
Not just in them, but in us.
If your a fan of The X-Files, or want to read more, purchase the book over at Applausebooks.com