29 August 2010
Friday/September/03 2010 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
Editing is Everything
When it comes to film and television, the individuals most responsible for setting the mood for what we watch is not necessarily the screenwriters, actors, directors, producers, or lighting specialists.
It's the editors who make the crucial difference in how we feel about what we watch on the big or small screen.
And it's in trailers for coming attractions and intros to TV shows that editors can have the greatest impact on whether we'll choose to devote and hour or two of our lives to what's being submitted for our approval.
Editors weave together certain video clips and music tracks that can instantly communicate whether we're about to watch a deep drama, a thriller or a comedy.
The editors let us know whether we should be prepared to scream, laugh or cry.
Star Wars: A Different Beginning
We all know Star Wars as an iconic science fiction/fantasy franchise.
But in the videos below, talented editors (amateurs we assume) used clips of the movie, themes from popular TV shows and signature graphics to create videos that totally alter our expectations about the Star Wars we're about to see.
Star Wars / The A-Team
The A-Team Original
Star Wars / Dallas
The Dallas Original
Han Solo, P.I.
The Magnum P.I. Original
Star Wars / MacGyver
The MacGyver Original
Star Wars / Airwolf
The Air Wolf Original
Thursday/September/02 2010 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
Just the facts Ma'am
When Jack Webb brought his popular radio show, Dragnet, to the infant medium of television in the early 1950s, many people had their doubts about the switch.
Webb insisted on bringing pretty much the whole radio production cast, crew and staff to the TV version.
That just wasn't the way things were usually done in those days.
Radio and TV were seen as two very different media.
Indeed, Radio's Matt Dillon, William Conrad, lost the shootout with James Arness for the starring role in TV's Gunsmoke.
But Webb stuck to his guns and Dragnet became one of the most iconic programs of TV's Golden Age.
Webb played Dragnet's lead character, Joe Friday, as a no-nonsense, by-the-book LA cop.
(Actually the closest Joe Friday came to saying "just the facts ma'am" was probably "All we know are the facts, ma'am.")
The ominous nine-note musical intro to the program became synonymous with grim, grey flannel law-enforcement.
The success of Dragnet encouraged other TV crime dramas, one of which was M Squad, starring Lee Marvin, as Detective Lt. Frank Ballinger.
M Squad had a lot in common with Dragnet but also had some very key differences.
Both shows were about plain-clothes detectives working in big cities, Friday in LA and Ballinger in Chicago.
But while Joe Friday was strictly by-the-book, Ballinger was more of a maverick, bucking the system where necessary to ensure that justice prevailed.
Accordingly, M Squad's theme song, in sharp contrast to the blaring staccato of the Dragnet theme, was a jazzy number, composed by none other than jazz great, Count Basie.
And some 25 years later, the filmmaking trio of ZAZ (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker), still flush from their satirical success with the film Airplane!, used M Squad as a template for one of the funniest -- and most short-lived -- TV comedies of all time.
The opening sequence, action, music and narration of Police Squad, was a direct lift from the old M Squad show.
Police Squad!, starring Leslie Nielsen, was cancelled after only 4 episodes. But for a month the program was an excellent send-up of the hard-bitten cop shows of the 50's.
The central character of Police Squad! was Detective Frank Drebin, played by Leslie Nielsen in his second configuration.
The New Breed
The first configuration of Nielsen was the super-serious actor. Nielsen even starred in the Quinn Martin production, The New Breed, in 1961. His character on that program, Detective Lt. Price Adams, was every bit as street tough as Joe Friday and Frank Ballinger.
The third configuration of Nielsen, as we've seen in his later films, is the lovable Inspector Clouseau-like goof, who is the butt of every joke.
Police Squad! was built around the second configuration of Nielsen; the one who played the doctor in Airplane!; the sane too-serious inhabitant of an insane world.
Though Police Squad was yanked quickly from the TV schedule, the concept had success on the big screen as the Naked Gun trilogy, where Nielsen swapped out the straight-laced TV version of Drebin for the buffoon version the character.
(Yes, that's OJ as Drebin's partner.)
Stan Freberg gets into the act.
But M Squad and Police Squad! weren't the only productions that Dragnet inspired.
Stan Freberg, one of the great comedic minds of our time, spoofed the Dragnet series on radio with a dead-on, dead-pan and hilarious take on the old Jack Webb cop show.
Also Check Out:
The Conan TV Show that might have been: Lookwell!
Wednesday/September/01 2010 Filed in: Art, Music and Movement
One of every ten adult Americans plays tennis.
That's about 25 million people.
That number is slightly below the number of golfers out there.
But the economic downturn may change that.
Eighteen rounds of golf costs you an average of $36.
With a $40 tennis racquet you can ace, deuce and love yourself all summer long.
Of course, we've never considered golf a sport. Anything you can participate in while smoking, drinking and riding around in a little go-kart somehow just isn't a sport.
Tennis on Television
But though participation in tennis is recently on the rise, TV viewership of major events is in relentless decline.
Back in 1977, when Chris Evert won the women's division of the US Open, according to Nielsen, 20% of US households watched the match. By 2007, when Justine Henin took home the US Open crown, the viewer share had plunged to 5%.
The world is different today and there are a lot more programs competing for our attention now, but that's still a pretty steep drop.
We can think of 5 very good reasons to follow women's tennis, however.
Five reasons that, indeed, personify what the producer of these five video clips appropriately called, the beauty of the power game.
Tuesday/August/31 2010 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
The Fabulous Fiomily singing about Parallel Worlds.
We've said it before but we think the talented and beautiful Emily and Fiona are the Lennon and McCartney of the new millennium.
When John and Paul were lads in Liverpool, they were primarily doing covers of Top 40 hits as they improved their skills as musicians and singers.
And all the time, these early Beatles brought a passion and an energy to the songs they sang that made us stop and listen to the lyric as we swayed to the rhythm.
Fiomily has a similar musical gift and we're glad that through YouTube and MySpace, that they're sharing it with the world.
Here's the original Eliot Minor version of the song.
And here's a bonus. Fiomily singing -- of all things! -- Honky Tonk Women.
This is a darned good cover. And there's something about Fiona singing about meeting a gin-soaked bar-room queen in Memphis that is just too precious.
See more of the Fabulous Fiomily here:
Fiomily Sing the Beatles