Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Bill Marx will be the featured guest on KSAV's broadcast of "Dave White Presents." Bill will discuss life with his famous father (Harpo Marx), his famous mother (the girl with the "Million Dollar Legs"), his legendary uncles (Groucho, Chico, Zeppo, Gummo), not to mention Bill's own musical career which included working with his Dad. And, of course, we'll talk about Bill's new book, Son of Harpo Speaks, now available as an audiobook Bill read himself for Bear Manor Media. You don't have to be a Marx Brothers fan to enjoy this one - Bill Marx is more than entertaining in his own right!
Competing with Bill for your smiles and laughs will be one Dave White who promises to be more "predictably unpredictable" than usual, if that's possible. We'll hear a new "Poor David's Almanac," comic songs from years past, and new products from Dave's questionable sponsors.
Altogether, this will be a very special occasion not only due to our guest of honor, but because, for the very first time, listeners can catch the debut airing of the 90 minutes of variety entertainment at one of two times. Starting with this program, "Dave White Presents" will air at 7:30 p.m. EST and then later at 7:30, Pacific Time over— www.KSAV.org
As always, if you're busy Tuesday evening, the program will become available for 24/7 download access on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at www.audioentertainment.org/dwp
So there's no reason to miss this one, you bet your life!
So there's no reason to miss this one, you bet your life!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
"Dick Baxter is an icon of what a successful manager should be. His Christian attitude and honest outlook on life have touched me." - Osie Jackson Co-Author, Shaking Hands with Fame
Monday, January 25, 2010
Her career, which consisted of an estimated 200 films, stretched from 1925 to 1957. Breaking into films during the silent era, she appeared in a string of ingénue roles, imagining herself as a new Mae Murray, but it was after the beginning of sound that Compton found her niche in comedy.
In her own words, she recounts her frustrations over studio politics and shares her experiences of working and socializing with such screen favorites as Clara Bow, Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, Joel McCrea, George O'Brien, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Johnny Mack Brown, Janet Gaynor, and George Raft.
Compton opens up about her often overly protective parents, her off-screen romances, her one heartbreaking attempt at marriage, her deep religious faith, and her struggle to support her family after her film career ended.
With candor and insight that only someone who was there can share, Compton discusses the transition from silents to talkies; working with incompetent directors in those early sound movies; living on locations; the competition she experienced with the "star" actresses of the studio; freelancing versus working under a studio contact; and the day-to-day life of an actress working in early Hollywood.
The Real Joyce Compton begins with a biography of the actress, written by co-author Michael G. Ankerich, based on formal interviews, conversations, and correspondence over their 10-year friendship. The book also contains a detailed filmography of Compton's film appearances and is lavishly illustrated with over 80 photographs, many of which are from Compton's own personal collection.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
From White Tops, the Official publication of the Circus Fans Association of America - December 2009 Issue
The life of a circus promoter—a profession recalled in Jamie MacVicar’s fascinating new memoir—is a curious one. An advance man is thoroughly immersed in the show’s operation, but rarely travels with it. His job is little noticed by the performers unless something goes wrong. Dwelling among townspeople, he really isn’t one of them, either. His life lacks permanence, as he labors long, lonely hours in empty arenas and at local advertising agencies, in different cities, to create the magic of the circus that he is really only a witness to. He is very much of the show, but, in circus parlance, not truly on it. As one of his mentors tells him at the start of his career, “Wait until it’s only you, and you’re all alone in a city for weeks before the circus arrives. It’s a whole different story.”
MacVicar’s memoir about promoting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey during the Irvin Feld era describes vividly the duality of an advance man’s existence. The illustrated cover itself suggests ambiguity—a well-tailored business figure, back to the viewer, coat slung over his shoulder, briefcase in hand, staring down from a hillside at a picturesque village in the distance below. Is he anticipating “capturing” this new town for the circus, or wistfully regretting that he cannot truly live there? Is he eagerly looking ahead in his life or sadly behind? Or, as the author suggests later in the book, is he at heart a happy refugee from all things predictable and stationary?
The daily existence of a promoter, according to MacVicar, leaves little time for that kind of personal reflection. He is obedient to the relentless scheduling, mailing, telephoning, faxing, calculating, tallying, projecting, analyzing, bargaining, and manipulating that ensure box-office success on circus day. He becomes a PR performer trained in multi-tasking without a net. Joining the Feld operation in the 1970’s, MacVicar inherited marketing practices that had long since become systematic in the arena version of the circus. He offers a contextual synopsis of the evolution of The Greatest Show on Earth to that new identity; by the 1950’s, he recounts, the Ringling big top was losing money, ready for its next managerial act—control by Irvin Feld. For the Washington, D.C.-based Feld organization, the modern circus required reinventing, its legendary spectacle reformatted for air-conditioned arenas. The name of the game was branding and marketing, from the concessions down to the cost basis of every last seat in any given venue.
It is said that the best storytelling teaches the reader something. Here, you learn the media-buying angles, the Nielsen TV and Arbitron radio ratings systems, the psychology and politics of event promotion, the economic geography of urban America, the back end and the front end of the circus business. What Barnum, the father of modern advertising and mass persuasion, invented a century before resides now in color-tabbed briefing binders updated for the media age and guarded as industrial secrets by supervisors. At the heart of the memoir is the endless organizational detail of a traveling circus that someone has to attend to, from counting tickets to driving advance clowns around to assisted-laughing facilities to marking performers’ dressing areas with tape at 5 in the morning. Thanks to its perceptive read on human nature, a skilled, novelistic writing style, and striking detail about the personalities MacVicar came to respect, it’s all a lot more entertaining than it may appear.
Much has been written about the physical efficiency of the circus, romantic images of legions of workingmen erecting a 10-acre tented city each day. A reader won’t find that here. MacVicar’s vision of the circus is as much statistics as logistics; the fiscal, not just the physical. Written in a style more understated than his colorful, hyperbole-prone subject (but without the overbearing cynicism many show-biz writers are tempted to invoke), his book seems sometimes less Barnum than Bailey. Or perhaps it is Barnum doing the math of ballyhoo converted into modern entertainment demographics. Yet MacVicar remains in awe of the show, loving what he does and preferring not to depict the institution of the circus as a jealous mistress, as some writers have done, but rather as a stunning siren who ends up as a vulnerable and still-seductive, if high-maintenance, wife.
The story is punctuated by anecdotes of many of the great names of the period like Gunther Gebel-Williams, Prince Paul, Rudy Lenz, and Charley Baumann. Promoters, we learn, have a ringside take on celebrities. Michu refuses a reporter’s question about the sex life of a Lilliputian. White-haired Hollywood legend Cary Grant maneuvers to get in the show for free. A planned photo-op with superstar Gunther goes awry, turning into a security debacle.
MacVicar’s story comes together beautifully because of its buttoned-down appeal, its nod to the temperamental, unpredictable, and insatiable nature of circus existence, and its portrait of a life lived on the edge—the advance—of a surprisingly fragile enterprise that is dependent on the work of a few solitary, motivated professionals working out of windowless offices. It is not a glamorous career. MacVicar’s references to the Roman Coliseum bring to mind the true nature of a promoter’s existence: within the bowels of a great edifice reside spirited creatures—in this case, advance men—whose fate, like that of the ancient gladiators, awaits upstairs for all to see.
I remember a booking agent telling me that he heard the sound of the circus trucks every night, relentlessly driving toward him in his sleep. MacVicar sees the circus train coming at him, too, but he also describes poignantly the sudden, stabbing loneliness of any of us in marketing, fundraising, lobbying, or similar fields, who have stared anonymously, longingly from a hotel room—from a concrete cubicle like a thousand others in dozens of cities—down at the resort’s swimming pool glistening in the morning sunlight.
MacVicar was an ambitious, 22-year-old Feld trainee when he contemplated that view. But the image offers a foreshadowing to his story. Amid his tale of the adrenaline rush of hyping the big show, there is a creeping isolation stowing away on his “journey into the world of the circus.” His sharp recollection of the vast circus parade of the great and the insignificant, of the transient nature of what a promoter does, is accompanied by deeply affecting emotional asides. Advance men have real lives, too, unseen by the audience and little noticed among the constant demands of circus life. They briefly enjoy the triumphs, inevitably revisit the failures, take some time off for personal guilt. In this way, MacVicar offers a narrative that is more than a collection of incidents and anecdotes. He is not afraid to take the reader down the long and sometimes dark corridor of memory into a bright arena in search of the glittering destination of the circus itself.
The result is a cautionary tale about life and as compelling a circus book as you are likely to read. Advance Man contains no photographs from MacVicar’s career, only historic shots drawn mostly from archival files. Building unity in his narrative with irony, humor, and rich detail, the author suggests that one’s personal perspective and word imagery matter more than pictures.
For an advance man, MacVicar seems to be saying, memory is what he unpacks when everyone else has forgotten the show. - By Mort Gamble
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Bring on the Peacocks: Memoirs of a Hollywood Producer by Hank Moonjean (BearManor Media) is one of the liveliest, funniest books you’ll EVER read. Hank worked at MGM in the ‘50s and ‘60s and his stories are priceless. Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, Grace Kelly, Bette Davis, the list goes on. They worked at MGM? Hank knew ‘em. BUY THIS BOOK!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
David Goudsward and Scott Goudsward have once again delivered a fantastic resource for fans and researchers of the fantastic and macabre. As in their previously released Shadows Over New England, Shadows Over Florida takes a similar approach, providing a fun-filled tour of the Sunshine State from a horror perspective, particularly for fans of the horror movie genre. The Goudswards have collected a plethora of arcane knowledge, and are especially adept at shining a light on the independent filmmaking that went on in the State. Shadows over Florida is a “must-have” title for libraries and for anyone who is a fan of horror or who is planning a Florida vacation and eager to visit areas not found in the local tourist attraction guides. - Review by Bob Freeman
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
"You want an epic life story? Try Micky Moore's near century of activity in the movie business, first as a child star at the height of the silent era, then 20 years later as an in-demand AD and second unit director for a list of auteurs - from DeMille, George Cukor and John Sturges to Spielberg - that it fairly boggles the mind. He started as a child actor in early Hollywood, with co-stars such as Gloria Swanson, but adult success in acting eluded him. No matter, his second act was a doozy. Moore was an AD on the 1956 The Ten Commandments after having played one of Pharaoh's sons in the 1923 version. He relates tales of working in vivid locations alongside some of the hottest tempers and biggest egos in the business. He worked alongside John Wayne, Hal Wallis, and Paul Newman, and did exemplary second-unit work on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Patton, and Lust for Glory (a worthy compensation, he says, for not having been called up in World War II) and, as a second unit director, helped put together the famous truck-dragging sequence on Raiders of the Lost Ark. In a career spanning the growth, high tide and long decline of the studio system and extending deep into the 1990s, Moore seemingly managed to live half a dozen different lives, and he remembers every detail of them richly and clearly."
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
A good deal of conjecture surrounds the once lost 1910 Thomas Edison film version of Frankenstein.
The film can rightly be thought of as the first horror movie, though such an appellation was never applied to the approximately 13 minute work when it was initially shown. Then, it was simply a dramatic motion picture.
A new book by Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr., Edison's Frankenstein, has just been published by BearManor Media. This edition, according to the author, corrects all the ‘facts’ and false statements made about the film and reveals for the first time the true story about the finding of the movie and its preparation for release on DVD.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Published by: BearManor Media (May 14, 2009)
Reviewed by: Steve Younis
When anyone asks me who my favorite Superman actor is, my answer is generally Clayton "Bud" Collyer. This surprises most people as it's not what they expected. However the Superman Fleischer cartoons and radio series are two of my favorite versions of the Man of Steel, and Bud Collyer voices the character in both.
Because of my love of the Superman from this early era, I was looking forward to reading "Flights of Fantasy" by Michael J. Hayde. Having now done so, I can say that it is one of the best Superman reference books I've read... period. It is both excellently written and meticulously researched. It unveiled so many aspects of Superman's radio and early TV days that I had no idea about.
Books hold a special place in my heart. I have set aside a room in my house (known as "The Library") with wall to wall bookshelves filled with the books I've read (and plan to read). I hate seeing people dog-ear the corner of pages to mark their place rather than use a bookmark. In short I hate seeing books defaced. However for the first time in my life I found myself with a marker pen in hand, highlighting paragraphs in this book for future reference. Gems of knowledge that I felt were important to look back on later and hopefully incorporate into this website's pages on both the radio series and 1950s TV series.
The 1940s Superman radio series is in many ways shrouded in mystery. Many of the episodes have been lost to history and therefore cataloging the series is difficult and open to speculation. Michael J. Hayde has managed not only to unearth many details previously unknown, but has brought a clarity to this era that will undoubtably be referenced by historians for years to come.
Hayde breaks down the Superman radio series into 5 eras that not only makes complete sense, but seems so natural that I wondered why nobody had set things out this way before.
There's so much intriguing behind-the-scenes information on the production, financing, sponsorship, casting and writing of the radio series. The pages are dotted with photos and images of newspaper clippings from the time.
The chapters on the "Adventures of Superman" TV series are just as well written and researched. The insights into how the series was brought to television, the behind-the-scenes jostling for position and self-promotion. The obstacles of filming on a tight budget and the trials and tribulations of George Reeves' life off-screen as the star of the show make for riveting reading.
"Flights of Fantasy" is almost three books in one. The first third is dedicated to the Superman radio series. The second is all about the "Adventures of Superman" TV series starring George Reeves, and the final third is an index of episode listings including synopsis, script comparisons, trivia and bloopers. There are even two complete scripts from the TV series that were never filmed.
Without a doubt one of the finest Superman books I've read, "Flights of Fantasy" is a book I'll be returning to time and time again for information and research. But it's also an entertaining read. I'd happily give it a 10 out of 10 rating.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Monday, December 7, 2009
Shadows Over Florida
Here’san interesting concept: A reference book that details the history of horror and horror-related events covering a state. Shadows Over Florida, by David and Scott T. Goudsward, is such a book, detailing the history of the dark side of the Sunshine State.First thing to think about, you don’t evaluate a reference book the way you do a novel, so I devised a test. I came up with a list of ten reasonably obscure horror connections to Florida from my own feeble brain, and decided if the book hit on seven of them, I’d give it a passing grade. To my surprise, they were ten for ten, which means that somewhere there is another poor soul who watched Absolute Zero. I don’t hold myself out as an expert on the subject, but I do know enough trivia to make that an impressive achievement.The book is ordered alphabetically by location, and I was pleased to see there are two indices, one for movies and television shows, and one for authors. I learned a lot from the book, from important things such as Jacksonville could have become the capitol of the film industry instead of Hollywood, if there hadn’t been local opposition, to the obscure yet intriguing, for example there is a Christian anti-drug movie that features a mutant biker vampire were-turkey.* There is quite a lot about the legendary Herschell Gordon Lewis, current B-movie maven Joel D. Wynkoop and many other facts. I didn’t realize H.P. Lovecraft had such a close connection to the state.If you are a horror fan who lives in Florida or plans to visit it, you have to have this book. If you don’t plan to visit the Gulf Coast, I think you would enjoy it anyway. The book can be ordered through Amazon. It is an attractive trade paperback, reasonably priced, and I highly recommend it.For those of you further up the East Coast, the Goudswards have previously published a similar book, Shadows Over New England.Now I’m off to look for a movie about a mutant biker vampire were-turkey.*That has to be awful. I am determined to see it..
Posted by KentAllard at 7:11 AM
Monday, January 4, 2010
CARTOON CARNIVAL with Joe Bev."The first radio cartoon show ever!"Listen online EVERY day at http://www.shokusradio.com/3 PM (PDT), 5 PM (CT), 6 PM (ET)
Great News! You can now hear ARCHIVED "cartoon Carnival" shows at:http://www.joebev.com/cartooncarnival.htm
Sunday, January 3, 2010
From the episode "Something Nice for Sol" to the classic Christmas episode of 1961, this light-hearted comedy offered a heart-warming approach to our police force at work. The comedy was invariably of the broad slapstick variety reminiscent of Mack Sennett -- and one episode even soluted the Keystone Cops!
Created by Nat Hiken, this television program now receives a superb review including biographies on the lead actors, the creation of the series, detailed listings of all 60 television episodes, broadcast history, cast list, plot summaries and lots of behind-the-scenes stories.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
What a Character!!
by Michael Fitzgerald
On August 31, 2005 the amazing character actress and authoress Argentina Brunetti turned 98 years of age. This multi-talented and fascinating lady, born in Buenos Aires, has recently written her book, “In Sicilian Company,” which is also a history of her ancestry (her mother, Mimi Aguglia, appeared in 1943’s The Outlaw). The book has been published by BearManor Media.
From the 1930s, when she dubbed for Jeanette MacDonald, until the 21st century, her life and career have been impressive. She has played a wide variety of roles, and has kept in touch with numerous celebrities, from Hollywood’s Golden Age, up to the present.
Recently, Miss Brunetti has shared many stories of her movie making days. There will be even more in her book, which is available now. The following short interview gives an idea of the fascinating life she has led.
Michael Fitzgerald: Your most recent credit is The 4th Tenor in 2002 with Rodney Dangerfield. What was that like, and how has movie making changed since the 1930s?
Argentina Brunetti: Unknown to us all it was Rodney’s last film. He was a very kind man who always had a nice word as well as a joke to try out on everyone. I never heard him get angry on the set, although there were times when he easily could, due to the myriad of problems that occur when making a movie. Filmmaking has become a lot more technical and pictures that sometimes took six months to make are now are made in six weeks in order to save money.
MF: You worked on the soap General Hospital for a time. How did that come about, and how did you like doing a one-hour daily show?
AB: Normally when the casting departments were looking for a Mediterranean mother or grandmother, I was almost always asked to try out and most of the times, fortunately, I got the role. This was true for General Hospital as well. The cast and crew was great and we all got along very well together. Hour long TV films made for long days, especially if one includes putting on the makeup and taking it off before going home. It was often that I had to be on the set at 5:30 in the morning and didn’t get home until seven or eight in the evening. And then there was a lot of time in between the scenes you were in. I did a lot of knitting and crossword puzzles in those days.
MF: You’ve done several made-for-TV movies. Any opinions on differences between them and theatrically released movies?
AB: Most of the TV movies then, and especially now, were made for American TV and then released as theatrical movies abroad. On the whole they were made more rapidly, and less money went into expensive sets, distant exterior location [shooting] and really costly stars.
MF: You worked on Shakiest Gun in the West with Don Knotts. What was he like?
AB: Don Knotts was a really funny man, and just as nervous off camera as he was on.
MF: You played a squaw in that film. With your versatility, you could be cast as almost anything — nuns, Mexicans, whatever. How did you learn so many accents!?
AB: I seem to have been blessed with a facility for languages, and learned Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, English and French well enough be at least conversational. I learned most of them in school and then used them constantly when I was growing up in the theatre’s international environment.
MF: You played George Raft’s mother in The George Raft Story with Ray Danton who played Raft.
AB: George Raft would come on the set almost every day to watch Ray Danton do his scenes. He seemed satisfied with [Ray’s] performance, but didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
MF: You played the lovable but nosy Miss Hooten in Jet Over the Atlantic, with the REAL Raft, Guy Madison, Virginia Mayo, Margaret Lindsay, and Brett Halsey.
AB: This was the first time I played a major role of a very British woman. I was a little nervous, but everyone continuously complimented me and made it much easier. It was great fun and so were all the cast.
MF: There was an interesting incident on the set of Rains of Ranchipur, starring Lana Turner, and Richard Burton.
AB: This is the film is where, in real life, I bet one of my coworkers that he could not slap Lana Turner on the rear end, and have her thank him for it. The whole episode is discussed in my book.
MF: You worked with Tyrone Power on King of the Khyber Rifles.
AB: The make up department did such a good job on me that Tyrone Power, upon meeting me for the first time, asked which part of India I was from. After he found out about my Italian heritage, he could not stop talking about Italy and the fact that he was married there and could not wait to return for a vacation.
MF: In The Caddy you played Dean Martin’s mom and he sings a song to you, “That’s Amore.”
AB: No one would have ever believed that that song would become an icon of American music and a classic in itself that is rediscovered by every new generation. At the time of the film, Dean and Jerry were not getting along well. In fact in one scene, Jerry actually pushed Dean into a swimming pool. And it was not supposed to be part of the scene.
MF: In Tropic Zone you acted with a future President of the United States.
AB: I was padded up for my scenes, as they wanted a heavy set person for the role. When Ronald Reagan saw me a few months later at a cocktail party, he complimented me on all the weight I had lost!
MF: In Ghost Chasers we see you with the Bowery Boys.
AB: Leo Gorcey was very close to his father [Bernard Gorcey] and had him act in just about all his films. When [Bernard] died Leo took it very hard and lost himself in alcohol, ruining his career, and finally ending his life.
MF: What was your opinion of Mario Lanza who worked with you on The Great Caruso?
AB: If Mario Lanza was still alive, I am convinced that he would have been an even greater opera singer than either Caruso himself or even Pavarotti. Since I have heard them all sing countless times in person, I think that I can make such a statement with some degree of accuracy.
MF: In the juvenile delinquency film Knock on Any Door, you played John Derek’s mother. Humphrey Bogart starred.
AB: Bogey was a loner and didn’t socialize with most of his fellow actors on the set. He was always polite with everybody and soft spoken, as well as a very serious professional — always on time and knew his lines.
MF: In Holiday in Havana you played Desi Arnaz’s mother.
AB: Desi was a lot like Rodney Dangerfield, always joking and fooling around on the set. But when it came time to work, he forgot everything except what he was supposed to do in front of the camera.
MF: On TV you guested on everything — from Andy Griffith to Everybody Loves Raymond. Any comments on shows, stars, and how comedy has changed on TV?
AB: Comedy really changed in the early 1950s with the creation of Desilu productions by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Their ideas about filming comedy series (instead of doing live shows and shooting with more than one camera at a time, filming the scenes before live audiences and even having a comedian warm up the studio audience before each shoot) soon became the industry standard. Also the comedies of the day reflected the customs of the country. Then, swearing or costume malfunctions were unheard of. Bed scenes that are common today on such shows as Everybody Loves Raymond, were strictly forbidden then.
MF: Let’s finish with one of your best remembered roles. How did you get your role in the classic It’s a Wonderful Life?
AB: I think that it had a lot to do with my mother being Sicilian, and a big star of the international theater. In the early 1980s when I interviewed him for an Italian magazine, Frank Capra often talked about how great an actress my mother was when he saw her perform on the stage in Europe, South America, and even in New York.
One day in 1946, my agent got a call from Frank Capra’s secretary saying that Mr. Capra would like to interview me for a role in one of his next pictures. I read a scene from the movie for him and he said, “No need to do more. Welcome to It’s a Wonderful Life, Mrs. Martini.”
Argentina Brunetti’s book “In Sicilian Company” is available from BearManor Media, P. O. Box 750, Boalsburg, PA 16827 and is reasonably priced at $18.95 plus $2.00 postage. It can be ordered on line at www.bearmanormedia.com
She also has a web site: http://www.argentinabrunetti.com and it features a question and answer section, along with dozens of photos.
Editor's Note: Shortly after going to press with this story, Miss Brunetti passed away on December 20, 2005. Her book is still available from the publisher, BearManor Media.
Friday, January 1, 2010
One of BearManor Media's newest titles is about the Marx Brothers' first-ever radio show, which is described as: a half hour sitcom that featured the adventures and mishaps that befell the underhanded lawyer Waldorf T. Flywheel (Groucho) and his hapless assistant Emmanelle Ravelli (Chico). A fine volume about one of the world's most beloved comedy teams.