Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Two Cents: The Nativity Story


Today I saw the movie The Nativity Story. If in this Christmas season you are having any hard times in maintaining your Christian faith then see this movie. If could help bring you closer to our Lord. It nearly brought me to tears. If you have someone in mind you would like to lead to Jesus Christ then take them to this movie. It could help you open a conversation with them. I saw this with my friend Tim and we both enjoyed it. Tim is a Christian and we both agreed that for the most part it closely followed the Bible. One part that was wrong is that both the shepherds and the wise men arrived the same day. The shepherds were nearby and got there first. The wise men had a long journey and arrived months later. Jesus may even have been one year old when they arrived. On the way they saw King Herod who asked that they return and tell him where the child was so that he could worship Jesus too. In the Bible they were warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod as he wished to harm the child. So they returned home another way. In the film they just decided not to go to King Herod and to return a different way. Also, the Bible doesn’t say that there were three wise men as we have all assumed for many years. It only calls them wise men. So we only know that there was more then one. All that aside the film is wonderful. It helped me to know I and many of my friends and family are on the right path and to pray for those who aren’t. The film shows how life for all may have been back then. It showed the tribulation that Mary and Joseph must have gone through as being in an expectant way while their law said she should not conceive during the first year of their relationship. There were many familiar faces but none I could place. At least not until the credits rolled and I saw the name of Alexander Saddig. I believe he played the Angel who told the world that Christ was born. I know for certain he played the Doctor on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If you have a chance to see this movie today or anytime this holiday season you should do so. It really makes you feel as if you are there.
Click on the title above to go to the official movie site.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Humbug Part 1


This is another version of "A Christmas Carol." It has been around since 1995 but for those of you who have not seen it before you can read it here. Just click on the photo to enlarge it enough to read. Scroll down farther for the rest of this four part posting and do the same to read the story.

Humbug Part 2

Humbug Part 3

Humbug Part 4

Christmas Music


I like alot of music but Christmas music is one of my favorites. I thought almost every musician in the world has released a Christmas CD. I knew it for certain when I saw this CD.

Christmas Comic Book Cover


Paul Henning and Green Acres


With the success of two rural comedies CBS again gave Paul Henning a half an hour on the network with no pilot that had to be submitted for review. Mr. Henning was way too busy to create the show himself so he asked his friend Jay Sommers to do the honors. To me the Beverly Hillbillies always seemed like a TV version of Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town and Green Acres seemed like a TV version of the Egg and I. I can’t say for certain that either of those movies were what they had in mind when they were thought of. However, Mr. Sommers didn’t have to look too far back in his own history for creating the show. He had worked on a CBS radio show that was called Granby’s Green Acres. It was a summer series in 1950 that Mr. Sommers had created and it starred Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet as a city couple who moved to the country. The late Parley Baer who is most famous as the Mayor on the Andy Griffith Show and the voice of Ernie the Keebler Elf on commercials was the hired handy man who they called Eb on both radio and TV.
The TV show ran from September 15, 1965 to September 7, 1971. Out of the three shows that Henning produced this one was sort of the oddball in the group. It was more of a slapstick/absurd comedy. Surreal has been one word that more accurately describes the series. A fine example of this was when it was known that Mr. and Mrs. Ziffel had adopted a pig as their son and named him Arnold. Everyone in town treated Arnold like he was a real boy except Oliver Douglas. A running gag on the show was how the Douglas family couldn’t get a phone inside the house. Their phone line only went up as far as the top of the telephone pole. Whenever they had to answer the phone or make a call they had to climb up the pole to use the phone. The writers must have gotten tired of trying to devise funny ways for them to get up the pole as eventually they got a phone in the kitchen. At times they had fun with the titles on the show. I remember seeing Mrs. Douglas hanging out the wash to dry and on the shirts and towels it would have the names of the crew and cast members. On another episode Mr. Ziffel was standing at the front door. The credits would be rolling up behind him and when he turned around they quickly hid from him.
Oliver Douglas was played by Eddie Albert. According to TV Land the part nearly went to Don Ameche. When the producers met with him over lunch to discuss the series he was so picky about his food that they feared he would be just as difficult to deal with over the scripts. So they gave the part to Eddie Albert.
As fans of the series know Oliver was a rich lawyer who moved to Hooterville with his beautiful Hungarian wife Lisa played by Eva Gabor. Lisa was not happy about the move but had grown to love the town and the people over the years. The Douglas’ young farm hand Eb was played by Tom Lester. They were always helping him and giving him parental advice. While Eb did have parents he took to calling the Douglas’ Mom and Dad. Much to the chagrin of Mr. Douglas.
Just as Petticoat Junction spun off of the Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres was a spin off of Junction. Since both shows took place in Hooterville it was a natural that they would cross over. Even the Clampetts came by to visit on both shows. Frank Caddy who played Sam Drucker on Junction was a frequent guest star on Green Acres and eventually became a cast member on both shows.
Green Acres never hurt for zany characters. There was conning door to door salesman Mr. Haney played by Pat Buttram, the absent minded county agent Hank Kimball played by Alvy Moore and the carpenters that nobody would want…the Monroe Brothers. Actually they were really brother and sister but for some reason their business was called Monroe Brothers. Sid Melton played brother Alf Monroe and Mary Grace Canfield played sister Ralph Monroe.
By 1971 all three of Paul Henning’s hit shows were canceled by CBS. They were all still popular but CBS wanted to use more urban shows that appealed to the more wealthy audience. After his shows were canceled Mr. Henning didn’t do what other producers have done. He didn’t try writing urban comedies or novels. With the exception of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels he didn’t have his name attached to any movie scripts. He pretty much left show business and retired. He passed away in March 2005.
You can click on the title above to go to TV Guide.com.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Paul Henning and Petticoat Junction


With the success of the Beverly Hillbillies Paul Henning created a spin off. On September 24, 1963 CBS aired the first episode of Petticoat Junction. The Hillbillies were so successful that CBS didn’t even require a pilot from Mr. Henning. They trusted his instincts that much.
The show starred Bea Benadaret one of the busiest actresses in radio and television. She had been on radio programs like Ozzie and Harriett, Burns and Allen and My Favorite Husband. On TV she reprised her role on the television version of Burns and Allen. She was offered the part of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy but was not able to accept as she was under contract for another production. She was also the voice of Betty Rubble on the Flintstones cartoon series. She played Kate Bradley a widow who was raising her three daughters in the hotel she owned. Unfortunately she was not with the series for its entire run. In 1968, just after she started work on the series for that season, she passed away due to lung cancer.
Edgar Buchanan played Uncle Joe Carson on the show. He was an in demand character actor who usually played Judges, Fathers, Grandfathers and of course Uncles. Uncle Joe was lazy. He worked hard at getting out of work and always was looking on a get rich quick plan. Uncle Joe would have loved the internet. Know matter how lazy Uncle Joe was he could be counted on when the chips were down. He was always helping family and friends and when Kate Bradley had to be written out of the show in 1968 he stepped in to run the Shady Rest Hotel. Of course the fact that he now owned the hotel helped.
Frank Cady was a character actor in movies and was cast as Sam Drucker. Sam was the local grocer/post master. The part of Sam got Frank Cady to be on two hit sit-coms as he later would be a frequent guest star on the Petticoat Junction spin off Green Acres.
The rest of the cast was frequently changing. The daughters of Kate Bradley were Billie Jo she was a blonde and the oldest of the girls. She was played by Jeannine Riley from 1963-1965. Later in the 1970’s Miss. Riley would be on TV again for one more season on Dusty’s Trail. Then Gunilla Hutton was cast in the role from 1965-1966. Gunilla was originally from Sweden but her family moved to Texas when she was 7. Rumor has it that she was fired from the show because she was involved in two taboos at the time. She was rumored to be dating Nat King Cole. Back then it was the kiss of death for a white actress to be dating an African-American. While that has changed over time the other taboo thankfully has not. That is that Mr. Cole was a married man making her his mistress. Two big strikes against an up and coming actress on a hit comedy series. So Miss. Hutton was out of the show. A few years later she would be seen as on Hee Haw as Nurse Goodbody. Finally, in 1966 the part went to singer Meredith MacRae who was with the series to the end of its run.
The middle child was a brunette and named Bobbie Jo. She was played by Pat Woodell from 1963-1965. In 1965 they cast Lori Saunders in the role of Bobbie Jo. She immediately won over the hearts of the fans and became the most famous Bobbie Jo Bradley.
The youngest was the redheaded tomboy Betty Jo Bradley. She was played by Linda Kaye Henning. Her part was never recast. Perhaps that was because Paul Henning was her Father.
The Cannonball was the only method of transportation for the people of Hooterville, the town where the show was based. From 1963-1967 the train was run by Charlie and Floyd played but Smiley Burnette and Rufe Davis. In 1968 Smiley left the show and Floyd (Rufe Davis) ran the train himself. A few months later he too left and Wendell Gibbs played by Byron Foulger was brought in to take over the train.
A lot of the comedy on the show came from Uncle Joe schemes, someone trying to get a date with one of the Bradley girls or trying to keep the Cannonball running.
For awhile the show took on a soap opera feel when Mike Minor joined the cast as crop duster Steve Elliott. He was attracted to each of the Bradley girls and the audience was curious who he would end up with. He chose tomboy Betty Jo. You know the one played by the boss’s daughter.
Many people say that Aaron Spelling brought sex to television. While researching this I was reminded of many double-entendres on the show. No I’m not going to point then out but just from what you have read here you can figure some of it out.
A few years after the show was canceled and was being shown on local station WXIX when it entered syndication some of the guys in my school were all caught up in the show. If you look at the picture above you can see three reasons why pre-teen boys liked the show. The thing that amazed me was when they got so caught up in the soap opera on of Betty Jo and Steve. That I couldn’t believe. Guys didn’t talk about soap operas back then and to my knowledge still don’t. I suspect those guys wanted Betty Jo to wait for them to be old enough to marry. Personally I had a crush on Lori “Bobbie Jo” Saunders.
After 7 successful years the show was canceled. The last airing of the show was on September 12, 1970.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Paul Henning and the Beverly Hillbillies.


In 1962 Paul Henning created what would be his most famous TV show. It was the Beverly Hillbillies. It aired on CBS from September 26th 1962 to September 7th 1971. It is said to be the most successful sit-com of the 1960’s. It was at first to be called the Hillbillies of Beverly Hills. It was so popular even its theme song, the Ballad of Jed Clampett, was a huge hit on the country charts by Flatt and Scruggs. It starred Buddy Ebsen as Jed Clampett who struck oil on his property. He became an instant millionaire and he moved his family to Beverly Hills, Ca. Mr. Drysdale as played by Raymond Bailey was the banker who was always trying to make sure the Clampetts stayed in Beverly Hills and their money stayed in his bank. Mush of the humor came from misunderstandings. For example Jed would say that he was going hunting for crawdads while talking to Mr. Drysdale. Another millionaire would over hear them and think it was a special vehicle for the military that he was investing in. He would start looking into it. The military would actually have a top secret vehicle called crawldads and would send an officer to Beverly Hills to find out how Jed knew about their top secret. Many would be embarrassed when it was found out he only wanted to go hunting.
Buddy Ebsen almost passed on taking the show. He said two things changed his mind. One was that when he read the script he didn’t want to do it because Jed wasn’t funny. His agent pointed out to him that Jed was really the straight man and any good comedy needs at least one straight man. The second is that he asked a friend of his if he thought he should take the part. His friend said he shouldn’t because he thought the show would flop. He said that helped him decide to take the part. You see his friend never knew when something would be a hit. When he didn’t like something it was usually a big hit. His friend didn’t even like Barnaby Jones and told him not to take that role too.
Jed wasn’t the only straight man on the show. Nancy Kulp who played Jane Hathaway was also the straight woman in most scenes she was in. However, that was not always true if Jethro was in the scene. Jethro was played by Max Baer Jr. He was Jed’s nephew and he moved out with them to California. He was a big, strong, handsome man who all the girls wanted to be with and Miss. Hathaway was not always thinking straight when he was around. Jethro had the problem of being a child in a man’s body. He only had a six grade education. Since that was the farthest anyone in the family went in school he was considered the scholar in the family. Jethro was one of the funny ones on the show as he was always trying to be something bigger then he really was. He was usually trying to be a big time movie producer or a secret agent. Or as Jethro would say he wanted to be a “double not-not spy.” Of course this was his way of referring to the double 0 in 007. Jed and Mr. Drysdale were always humoring him by setting him up with jobs where he had the title but not the responsibility of the job. This usually backfired as somehow he would actually wind up producing a movie or taking on a job meant for a real private detective.
Jed’s daughter Ellie May was played by the beautiful Donna Douglas. Donna was previously seen in the Elvis film Frankie and Johnny. Everyone was always trying to find Ellie a husband. She was beautiful, sweet and rich so getting her married off should be easy. However, it was usually complicated because she loved wild animals and had to always have raccoons, snakes, possums etc. around. Also, she was always stronger then the men she dated.
The character who made the show was Granny as played by Irene Ryan. Granny hated moving from the hills to the city. She was always cooking and making people sick with her food. However, this was no problem to her as she was a country Dr. and used her home remedies to heal them. Most of the time the cure was even worse and usually involved her home made moonshine. Granny was the break out character. Irene was the best actor on the show and she won the Emmys to prove it. She passed away before they made the reunion movies based on the series. The first was a hit but the second didn’t come off as well. The problem was that when you see Buddy Ebsen and others as the Clampetts you expect to see Irene Ryan as Granny. When they did a big budget movie her presence was not missed as much since all the roles were recast. It didn’t hurt that they got Cloris Leachman to play Granny. She was probably the only woman in Hollywood who could have played the part at that time.
While all the actors seemed to get along not all was well. Max Baer Jr. and Paul were always at odds. Max thought that after all that time in Beverly Hills the Hillbillies should be getting more use to their surroundings. Stop calling the pool the cement pond and eating dinner on the pool table. They should start acting smarter. Paul refused because he thought the show would not be funny anymore. I know Mr. Baer became a successful movie producer in the 1970’s but Mr. Henning must have known what he was doing. The show was still popular when it was canceled in 1971. It is still popular in reruns today. This past summer my young cousin discovered it and thought Granny was so funny he watched it every day.
The above photo is from TV Guide.com. You can click on the title to go to their site.

Rest in Peace Joe Barbera

I really don't know what to say about Mr. Barbera execpt he left behind an incredible legacy. He gave me and many of us happy hours, usually on Saturday mornings, while watching FRANKENSTEIN JR., THE IMPOSSIBLES, SPACE GHOST, BIRDMAN, SHAZAN, YOGI BEAR, QUICK-DRAW McGRAW, TOP CAT, SCOOBY-DOO, WACKY RACES and others too numberous to mention.
We may never see someone like him or his partner Bill Hanna again.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Time Person of the Year

I know it is probably old news by now but I have been selected as Time Magazine person of the year. You have too if you are reading this posting. You can go here for the full story or click on the title above.

Paul Henning


Not long ago I did a series on TV moguls Aaron Spelling and Quinn Martin. Today I am starting a series on Paul Henning. Mr. Henning was from Independence, Missouri. He once met future President Harry S. Truman who advised him to become a lawyer. He did go to Law School but his real desire was to be a singer. He was a singer on some local radio programs. When one didn’t have the money to hire a writer to for fillers between songs Paul started writing for them. From there his writing career took off. He eventually got jobs writing for network radio programs for Fibber McGee and Molly and the Burns and Allen Show. Eventually he wrote for TV programs like The Real McCoys the Andy Griffith Show and also produced The Bob Cummings Show. On many of those programs he met many actors who would later be on the programs that he created. Many of those relied on his Midwestern humor that he grew up with in Missouri. He also wrote the scripts for the films Lover Come Back, Bedtime Story and co-writer on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The TV shows he created were The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. They were some of the biggest hit comedies to come out of the 1960’s.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Give your worries to God, for He cares for you

Why worry?
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1 NLT"
The unforgettable responsive reading "It was midnight on Thursday, February 8, A.D. 356, and Athanasius, a leader in the early Christian church and passionate defender of the deity of Jesus Christ, was leading a worship service. Suddenly loud shouts and clashing armor could be heard outside the church. Soldiers had come to arrest him.But Athanasius said, "I didn't think it right, at such a time, to leave my people," so he continued the service. He asked a deacon to read Psalm 136 and then requested the congregation to respond with the refrain, "His faithful love endures forever," which they did twenty-six times over the din of the soldiers outside.Just as the final verse was completed, the soldiers rushed into the church, brandishing their swords and spears and crowding forward up the nave toward Anthanasius. The people yelled for Athanasius to run, but he refused to go until he had given a benediction. Then some of his assistants gathered tightly around him, and, as he recounts it, "I passed through the crowd of people unseen and escaped, giving thanks to God that I had not betrayed my people, but had seen to their safety before I thought of my own."Athanasius was portraying to his people God's love, which endures forever. He was willing to lay down his life for his flock—just as Jesus had laid down his life for his flock a few centuries earlier.Since God's "faithful love endures forever," why is they ever any need to worry?

Another Funny Christmas Picture