Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tonight's episode of What's My Line (which I've been enjoying for reasons I'll outline in another post) featured Donald Farrell, the real-life "Where is Everybody" guy (without, of course, the hallucinations). The only mention I find of him on the 'Net is this article.

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Robin Jones's post on the third season of Columbo and specifically the episode with the police commissioner had me thinking about Lt. Columbo's position in the force. The department is willing to tolerate his idiosyncrasies (which aren't always an act to fool the murderer). They, on occasion, pair him up with a rising up-and-comer in the department. Whenever someone threatens to have him removed from the case because "I've had enough of your harassment", it never takes. And if he has some scheme to trap the murderer which requires a dozen or two uniformed policemen, he gets them.

Of course, he does never get promoted past Lieutenant but then promoting Columbo out of solving crimes is like promoting Kirk out of commanding starships.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Speaking of Charlie Brown, much fun has been had over the sentence in the New York Times profile of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts that states he played the role of Peppermint Patty in a high school production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Here's the problem: Peppermint Patty isn't in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown as you can see here. Indeed the play opened on Broadway in March 1967 and Peppermint Patty's first apperareance in the strip was in August 1966 (as you can see in her entry on the official Peanuts site) so we wouldn't expect her to be in the show unless a wave of Peppermint-Patty-mania swept the country upon her debut. The way it looks to me is one of a few possibilities:
  1. The school added the character of Peppermint Patty to the play (like many productions do) to give more roles to more students (since the play only has six characters).
  2. John Roberts actually played the role of Patty and the reporter got confused (perhaps because Patty disappeared from the strip by the mid-70's).
  3. Conspiracy theoryThe reporter misread Patty as Peppermint Patty deliberately or subconsciously because it fit into the "Roberts is gay" whispering campaign the Democrats are trying to spread.

UPDATE: This post hits the same points.

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It's a Newspaper, Charlie Brown!: Harry McCracken posts a 1957 comic where Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt visit Earth-Prime and learn how The Des Moines Register and Tribune make newspapers.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

My brother calls into question an article (that I quoted in this post) about a shortage of little people to play Daleks blamed on the Harry Potter film and the Wonka movie given that the Oompa-Loompas were all played by one actor. Some thoughts on that:
  1. Just because we only see one actor as the Oompa-Loompas doesn't mean they only used one actor. In scenes with lots of Oompa-Loompas (particularly the elaborate choreography), it might be easier/cheaper to have have little actors as place-markers and computer-substitute your "actual" Oompa-Loompa than to start from a blank palatte. Or even not show a particular Ooompa-Loompa's face so you don't even have to do any special effects with it. In either case, you would need a lot ofmore than one little person for Wonka.
  2. Given my experience trying to get work during the "programmer shortage" of the 90's, it is possible that the definition of what was needed for a little person actor was too narrowly defined. Just as tech companies' insistence of two years experience in a 2.5-year-old technology (or sometimes a 2-year-old technology) means they're all fighting for an unnecessarily small pool of employees, possibly Potter, Wonka and Dr. Who were fighting over a small circle of little people actors that always get work and didn't think to expand their search for less experienced little people.
  3. Also possible is that the costumes of Potter's trolls and the Daleks limit what range of height is acceptable plus presumably Wonka wants people near Deep Roy's height. So it's possible that the number of little actors is reasonably high but that the three projects are fighting for use of the same height ranges which limits the pool.

UPDATE: OK, I'm full of it about point 1. See here.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

ComicsReporter Tom Spurgeon reports that Whoopi Goldberg continues her plot to ruin any piece of entertainment I enjoy by writing the intro for Volume 5 of the Complete Peanuts.

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From Chris Rock's press conference about his new UPN sitcom:
It was reported that Rock developed the pilot with Fox. The network ultimately passed on it, fearing that the comedian would withdraw his involvement after the show was picked up.

Rock responded to that notion by saying, "I've been working a while. I don't think I've ever walked out on anything; I don't think there's any evidence of that.

"My name's Rock, not Chappelle," he added. "Are you confusing me with another skinny black man? What have I walked out on?"

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A description of a press conference with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Red Buttons and Mickey Rooney. Rooney, as he often does, hijacked the conference and Reiner and Buttons mocked him.
After a Rooney anecdote about the legendary producer and director Cecil B. DeMille that only Caesar seemed to understand, Buttons asked, "By the way, Mickey, was Lincoln a nice guy?"
Cathy Seipp was also there and reported on it.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Speaking of Woody Allen, Costco has three sets of 6 Woody Allen movies for around 47 bucks. The genius from MGM who was smart enough to not package all the Sean Connery James Bonds into one set was apparently working on these sets too. Just like you can't get some Sean Connery movies without a Timothy Dalton or a Roger Lazenby, similarly they don't package all the early, funny ones together.

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The post below reminds me of some thoughts I've been having after my review of Spamalot. The main reason it disappointed me was because of how good The Producers Broadway show was. Yes, it's a retread of old material but he showed good instincts in keeping what works and removing what wouldn't any more (ie, Dick Shawn's character). Yes, he also tacked on a happy ending but it was consistent with the tone and theme of the show/original movie (plus arguably the original ending is a remnant of a time when every comedy seemed to end with people in the hospital, in jail or (in the case of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World) in the jail's hospital).

What's interesting to me is that with the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy or The Three Stooges or Bob Hope, I'm handed a body of work and can cooly determine "these movies are good whereas these in the later part of the career aren't so good". As opposed to Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Monty Python and David Letterman, where I'm watching the decline as it happens which pains me.

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My favorite movie - evolution of a concept

From the meme passed on by my brother,

This is favorite, not "best":

1977 - Wizard of Oz

1979 - Animal Crackers

1980 - Airplane!

1982 - And Now For Something Completely Different

1983 - Return of the Jedi

1984 - Bill Cosby, Himself

1985 - Zelig

1986 - Brazil

1988 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit

1994 - Pulp Fiction

1998 - Run Lola Run

2001 - X-Men

2002 - Spider-man/The Kid Stays in the Picture

2004 - Animal Crackers/It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World

Years are approximate and sometimes based on release date (and taking my brother's word that 1982 was when we discovered Python which sort of gels with my memory). I pass this on to Jim Treacher, Bill Sherman, and Mark Evanier (if he's not too exhausted from this weekend). Also if my friends and frequent commenters Chip Pope and Jim Woster want to throw in theirs in the comments, I'd be interested to hear them.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

A commenter notes that they're remaking Summer School.
Actually, I'm not sure why it's being called a remake since if you read the Defamer article, the only similarity between the remake and the original appears to be its setting of school in the summer (which, contrary to Fat Albert, does sometimes have classes in session). This is also where I'd remind folks that I've met Richard Horvitz.

Speaking of remakes, complaints by Gene Wilder about the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie being about money is funny given that the original film was funded by Quaker Oats as essentially a big product placement for their new Willy Wonka candy line. Tim Cavanaugh mocks misplaced nostalgia by Gen X for their kiddie films and the comments thread detours into a discussion of the two network TV attempts (this one and this one) to cash in on the popularity of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Speaking of Roald Dahl, Dark Horse has announced (scroll down) that they're reprinting Dahl's classic Gremlins book which has been out-of-print for some 60+ years. Illustrations by various Disney artists since the intention was to make the book a Disney movie.

Update: Tales of the Gold Monkey is available on DVD from this bootleg DVD store who also has the other Raiders rip-off show as well as Quark and When Things Were Rotten. The bootleg store is part of a larger site dedicated to Gold Monkey.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Many cartoon and Looney Tunes fans were concerned about the upcoming in-your-face and to-the-extreme Loonatics spin-off; I was less so since we always have the classic cartoons. But now a threat looms to the classic cartoons. I refer, of course, to the announcement that Whoopi Goldberg will be introducing each disc of the upcoming Volume 3 of the Looney Tunes DVD collection. The classic Warner Brothers cartoons, which could not be destroyed by mismanagement either intentional or not, could be made retroactively unfunny by the destroyer of all that is comedic or humorous.

UPDATE: Mike Chary theorizes that Whoopi is doing the set because the first two sets made too much money. The conspiracy-minded would note that Warner Brothers was unsure that a Looney Tunes DVD set would sell. Presumably there exist executives at Warner Brothers who made that prediction. Often when someone predicts failure for a project, one then proceeds to do all one can to make that prediction come true.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Press release for a huge comic strip crossover planned for Blondie's 75th anniversary. No word on whether Dagwood's millionaire parents will show up.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

John Cole details the Jews Knew meme that's starting to spread about the London attacks.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain yesterday. A couple of minor points of interest:
  1. The wacky dancing old guy in the commercials is named "Mr. Six." So that's what happened to the Prisoner!
  2. The Superman ride shows its age as the pictures used to decorate the ride are of Superman in his mullet days.
  3. I dopn't enjoy roller coasters as much as I did when I was 17.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

What's the best part of the Fourth of July? Movie ads featuring the protagnoists wearing Uncle Sam hats and carrying either sparklers or American flags.

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