Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Comics Reporter Five For Fridays

As they do every Friday the Comics Reporter ask 5 questions. This Friday they asked you to name the first comic book you remember reading and its price. Name the first comic book you remember buying yourself and its price, your most recent comic book & it's price. Any Particular big time bargain you stumbled across and the most you ever spent on a comic. If you want to see my answers you can click here to go to the Comics Reporter.

JLA Live Action Movie

Ok now here is a movie that some of you may not have seen before. The live action movie version of the JLA. It was a pilot for a TV series in 1997. For some reason it was never released. I don’t know why. It was pretty good. I can understand how expensive it may have been to produce every week. Don’t you think that they should have at least showed the movie since it was already produced? The show has Miguel Ferrer as the villain the Weatherman. Why didn’t they call him the Weather Wizard? That seemed to me who he was really playing. The rest of the cast is pretty much unknown to me except for David Ogden Stiers as The Martian Manhunter. Yes Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester of MASH is every comic book lovers favorite martian superhero. He was the leader of the JLA in this movie. He stayed hidden from the rest of the world as he didn’t want to alarm the rest of Earth that a crash landed alien was living among them. He gave advice and orders to the younger superheroes Green Lantern, Flash, Atom, Fire and Ice. With the humor that was injected in the story it was really Keith Geffin’s version of the JLA. The Atom was really the JSA Golden Age Atom. They got things a little mixed up with the personalities of Green Lantern and Flash. GL was called Guy Gardner and looked and acted like Hal Jordan. Flash was Barry Allen but acted more like Wally West or perhaps Impulse. Maybe the writers didn’t read the comic book regularly or perhaps the personality switches made it easier to write. But for my money it would have been easier to go along with the story if they got the personalities right. At least they could have called GL Hal and not Guy. For a live action version of the JLA it was pretty good.
With the advancements in computer effects today perhaps we may see a regular weekly version one day soon. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mystery Date

In the 80’s the rage in movies was to turn old TV shows into hit movies. Most of them were, in my opinion, pretty bad except for the Star Trek movies. However, Hollywood had struck a cord with the movie going public. What was the next movie success? Why turning board games into movies of course. They tried to with Clue and Mystery Date. With Clue I was hoping for a Murder By Death type of movie but it wasn’t that funny. The concept that they tried was daring. Since the game had a different outcome on who the killer was and the location and motive of the murder. The movie was given different endings and the movie would end differently in each movie theater. The problem was that if you went on Friday to see it at the Village Cinema it may have Mr. Green as the killer in the Den with the candlestick as the weapon. If you had a friend of yours to see it on that same night at the Bijou across town he may see it end with Professor Plum as the killer with a rope in the Kitchen. So you really couldn’t discuss the movie with each other. When it was released on video it was even worse. They had all the endings on the VHS tape. You had to sit through all the endings to decide which one that you liked best. I have no idea how the do it when it plays on television.
Mystery Date was also turned into a movie. The game was played by little girls, like my cousin Rachel. The basis of the game was when you got to the door you had to guess who was behind the door and would be the date for the evening. This movie actually came late to the party as it was released in 1991. It starred Ethan Hawke as Tom and Terri Polo as Geena the object of his affection. Tom is too shy to ask her out but his older brother Craig sets up everything and lets Tom borrow his car. He picks Geena up and they head out on their date. Everything seems set for a perfect evening but Tom is mistaken for his brother who is wanted by a pair of crooked cops, a crime lord (played by B.D. Wong) and a crazy delivery guy (played by Fisher Stevens). I haven’t seen it in quite along time but if I remember correctly it was actually a pretty good film. So if you want to rent a good date movie this is one way to go. Posted by Picasa

Electric Dreams

Electric Dreams was billed as the most unusual triangle in the history of love. A boy, a girl and A Computer. It lived up to the billing. There were no big names in the film but Virginia Madsen and Maxwell Caulfield did eventually make names for themselves. Mr. Caulfield was not the star of the film. That went to Lenny Von Dohlen. He played Miles an architect who buys a new computer to help him design bricks that are earthquake proof. The computer steals the show with, as he is billed, special participation of Bud Cort, as the voice of Edgar the computer. The computer helps Miles get involved with Madeline the beautiful cellist who lives in the upstairs apartment. However, Edgar has fallen in love with her too. Edgar plays havoc with Miles life. He locks him out of the apartment, bounces his checks, and even calls the police. Steve Baron gained fame as the director of the Michael Jackson video Billie Jean. Since he directed the movie that may be why Jeff Lynne submitted a song to the soundtrack. His four year ban against movie soundtracks was over. This movie is a very light hearted and charming romantic comedy. I recommend it to anyone who likes this type of film. Unfortunately this is one that may not have done well at the boxoffice. I never heard of the film till it got to the video stores. If you see this for sale or rental I highly recommend that you get it. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Xanadu...ONJ All The Way

Here is another movie that I think got an unfair rap as a bad movie. After the wild success of Grease Olivia Newton-John was getting movie offers from everywhere. One of them that she chose to do was Xanadu. The other actors in the film are Gene Kelly and Michael Beck. Michael Beck is a frustrated artist who is barely making a living by making giant sized paintings of album covers to hang in record stores. If a real place was used on the cover he sometimes goes to the location and takes pictures of it so it looks better when he paints it. One day he is on location and Olivia roller stakes in front of him and gets in the picture. He notices it before they paint it but keeps her in the painting anyway. Now he has to find this girl. Not just because he kept her in the picture but because it was love at first sight. Hey back then it was the same for any red blooded male who saw ONJ. They meet and along the way they meet a wealthy man played by Gene Kelly. It turns out that ONJ is a muse. One of the daughters of Zeus and she is going to help make the dream of these two men come true. Here is where the movie does fall apart a little bit. The two men’s combined dream is to open up what looks to be a restaurant/roller rink. A very stylish one but that is what it comes down to. They come to it in such a lighthearted and entertaining way that I didn’t care. I was having fun. ONJ has to go home and Michael looses the girl he loves. Before the movie is over he meets another who looks exactly like ONJ. A cop out to be sure but it left you feeling that he still had a chance at love. The movie was a light hearted fun filled fantasy. The special effects were state of the art for its day. However, computer graphics have improved by leaps and bounds since 1980 and will look old fashioned compared to movies today. The music was provided by Jeff Lynne and his group ELO and by ONJ and John Farrar. I would love to see a copy of the first script as Jeff Lynne said that was what got him interested in doing the score of the movie. The revisions of the film kept getting worse but he was already under contract to the film. He thought it was so bad he didn’t want anything else to do with movie soundtracks. Too bad this sound track was very good. The song Magic made it to number one. It fared better with musical audiences then the movie did at the boxoffice. I went to see the movie with my cousin Rachel and two of her friends. When I saw a concert video of Olivia Newton John and she started to sing Magic a man in the audience mentioned that he saw Xanadu. She said “Oh so you’re the one.” I wanted to say no he was the fifth one. Later Mr. Lynne must have gotten over his hurt feelings as he made contributions to other movies. I plan on telling you of one here later. Electric Dreams.
PS. I was self-indulgent with the title as I added the ONJ all the way at the last minute. The reason why was for nostalgia for me. When I was about 13 a freind of mine Dave Smith had a label maker and used it to type that saying out and posted it all over his room to show his affection for her. So that was for you Dave. If you see it I hope you like it. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

For Your Consideration...Ishtar

Here is a bad movie that could have been saved. Ishtar has gone down in history as one of the worst movies made. But it didn’t have to be that way. Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty are a struggling musical act. They are on the road and performing in Ishtar. There they wind up being used as pawns between the USA and Ishtar when they meet CIA Agent Jim Harrison and a beautiful revolutionary. The fate of the Middle East winds up in their hands. Everything is actually pretty humorous up to this point. In the end they get the two countries to come to peace but one of the conditions is that the USA has to pay for them to release an album and go on tour to promote it. The tour and the album don’t go over well. That is where the movie ends. This film is a perfect example that a movie needs a good ending to do well. It all builds up to where you are expecting a wacky war scene at the end. Like a war scene from a Marx Brothers film. But no! We got a tour and an album that wound up in the cut out bins. That would have been the fate of the soundtrack if they had released it. Hoffman and Beatty made Mel Brooks sound as if he should win a Grammy. Considering how the movie fared at the box office Mr. Beatty must have been embarrased. You see I heard that in his contract for the movie Warren had a clause that they had to take out ads during Oscar time that said "For Your Consideration For Best Actor...Warren Beatty in Ishtar." They probably considered it for about 5 seconds. This movie had a pretty good plot. It had good acting. It had good directing by Elaine May. It just needed a better ending. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stick To What You Do Best

Above is the VHS case for, in my opinion, one of the worst movies ever. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with their wives at that time, play themselves. Paul has just finished his new album and it is ready to be shipped to music stores. The advance sales on the album have made it worth millions. He gives the box of recordings to be delivered to an ex-con that he has hired hoping it will help him get his life back on track. However, the recordings never arrive. Everyone wants to the police involved and have the man arrested but they can't find him. Paul still believes in him and tries to find him before the police do. He retraces the route that the man was to take. He ends up at the train station and finds the box on a bench. He hears a noise coming from the rest room. It turns out the man set the box on the bench when he went to the rest room. Then the rest room door got stuck and the man was in there all day till Paul came along. So Paul saved the day but it wasn't exactly Sherlock Holmes.
It also showed me something. Now this isn't a hard and fast rule but it would seem to me that unless you are Ringo Starr or Phil Collins most rock stars should not try acting. Paul was the worst actor in the film but Ringo came off pretty good. All of the Beatles have tried acting together and alone. Of course we all know of A Hard Days Night and Help! where they played themselves. They were fun but little acting was required. Ringo started getting roles in films like Magic Christian and a few television roles. John did How I Won The War. I don't know how well he did as I have never seen it. Perhaps he did well but turned back to music or maybe he didn't do well at all. Either way it would explain why he was not seen in movies after that. George took some small roles but they were usually in films that he produced. Paul was the smart one. He did get offered roles like the lead in the 1960's film Romeo and Juliet but he wisely turned them down. Then in 1985 he decided to make his leading man debut in Give My Regards to Broadstreet. What was he thinking? I have always thought Mr. McCartney was a pretty bright fellow. However, film wise he was the one who made the biggest film blunder. While I think Ringo is a pretty good actor I would have to place him in 2nd place since he co-starred with him in the film. The one good thing about the film is that the soundtrack is a good solid soft rock album. See Paul. You should stick to what you do best. MUSIC! Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 01, 2006

Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbusters 1975

Sorry for the bad photo but it was the best I could find. These guys were the first Ghostbusters. Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch we're back on network television roughly 10 years later. Storch was Eddie Spencer. Their pet gorilla was played by Bob Burns and was named Tracy. Forrest was Kong. It was on for 13 weeks on Saturday morning in 1975. Each week they would get a new assignment to fight ghost, vampires, werewolves etc. Comey and adventure ensued. Almost like a live version of Scooby Doo. Of course the smartest one of the trio was Tracy the gorilla. While it would never win any awards it was a fun and innocent show for kids. I wished they would have let it stay around for 13 more episodes. When the Bill Murray movie Ghostbuster became a hit I heard there were lawsuits over the rights of the name. Eventually a video tape of the Saturday morning show was released. I believe they released it under the name of The Real Ghostbusters. While I like both versions this one holds a special place in my heart. No matter if it is F-Troop or Ghostbusters it is always a pleasure to see the classic comedy of Tucker and Storch. The Abbott and Costello of classic TV. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Meeting Local Celebrities

I use to work off and on in the local broadcasting industry. While trying to break into it I had some interesting meetings with local celebrities and some near misses. I already told you about Uncle Al when I was a kid. A few years later during Christmas time Mom and I were at a local drug store. I recognized the man in front of Mom. It was Larry Smith. For those of you not from the Cincinnati area Mr. Smith had a show called Larry Smith and His Puppets on Channel 19 WXIX (clever promotion as XIX is the roman numerals for 19). It's stars were Ruddy the rooster and Teaser the mouse. Another character on the show was Hattie the Witch who was spun off into her own series. Finally there was a third show spun off from Hattie's N.O.T. short for Nasty Old Thing. He was a monster who lived in Hatties dungeon. Snarfie R Dog was another popular character but didn't get his own show. Monday through Friday Larry Smith ruled the afternoons on channel 19. He was a very big star so I was starstruck when I saw him. When we got to the cashier she told us who that was. My Mom asked if I knew it was Larry Smith. I said I did. She wanted to know why I didn't say anything. The truth is I was too shy.
Mr. Smith has his own website right here.
When I was trying to get into broadcasting my Dad called an old Air Force buddy to show me around. He was Walt Maher who was the sportscaster on WKRC television. Now I have never been big on sports. I played some ball in the neighborhood but never watched much on tv unless the Red were in the World Series or the Bengels made the Super Bowl. So I really didn't know what to ask this kind gentleman. He talked about sports and how he helped some people become DJ's by taking them under his wing. Guess I should have asked him to do the same for me. He took me to a photographers studio where they were going to shoot promo photos for the newscast. On the way I asked questions about other reporters, news stories, etc. Once there at the studio I was introduced to his two co-anchors Glenn Ryle and Vicki Yates-Orr. I almost felt as starstruck with Glenn Ryle as I did with Larry Smith. At one time he had one of the biggest kids shows in the area. Second only to Uncle Al. He was Skipper Ryle. You can read more about him and Mr. Smith at Booksteve's Library. Glenn Ryle was a broadcasting utility man for the station. He not only anchored the news and hosted a kidde show but he hosted Bowling for Dollars and movie programs did commercials and was at times side kick on local variety shows. He was an ex-Marine and didn't come off as the rough and tough solider but was very kind to me. Ms. Yates-Orr was the co-anchor person and a very nice and attractive woman. I remember that day how Mr. Ryle said his single friends were always asking him to fix them up with her. He said he had to keep telling them "Guys she's married!"
After the photo shoot Mr. Maher and I got back to the station and my Dad picked me up. He asked what we did and Mr. Maher said that he took me out on assignment.
A few years out of school I went to see a movie at the Showcase Cinemas in Erlanger, Ky. I was waiting for the movie and a very young boy almost bumped into me. His Father said sorry and something else I don't remember but I do remember that we shared a laugh about it. As he walked away I thought he seemed familier to me. Maybe we went to school together but I couldn't remember. Later that night I was watching the news and they told how former Bengels Quaterback Boomer Esiason was in town. That was when I remembered him. I was talking to Boomer Esiason. At least it was a pleasant meeting.
Another clelbrity I met long before he became famous. I am talking about George Clooney. He and I had a broadcasting class together. We said hi to each other a couple of times but never got to know each other. I do have one memory that I may have mentioned here before but for those who don't know it I will tell it again. George and his friend wanted everyone to come into class wearing a funny hat. The day came but no one other then George and his friend had on a hat. So they asked us to turn our chairs around and face the back of the classroom to get a reaction from Dr. Byron Renz our teacher. We did and the only reaction from Dr. Renz was to say "Well you can turn around or I can come to the back of the room to teach you." He said it with a laugh so we all laughed and turned our chairs around to face him.
Now on to our cover boy. Never thought that anyone would refer to Al Schottelkotte as a cover boy. Mr. Schottelkotte was the Walter Cronkite of the Cincinnati news industry. He was so respected nationwide that he could get any of the big network news reporters to do nearly anything for WCPO. Cronkite and Dan Rather both came to Cincinnati to do news promos with him. So he was very big. My friend Chuck and I were doing and intership at the station. The newsroom was very busy. There was a drawer that was open and people were going past it very fast and barely missing it. Chuck and I tried to close it so no one would be hurt. It would not close. There seemed to be something blocking it from closing so I reached in to find it and move it. At that time Al Schottelkotte came up to us. It turned out it was the drawer that he kept his stuff in. He looked at my hand in the drawer then looked at me. I took my hand out and told him I was trying to close the drawer. Mr. Schottelkotte reached in moved something and closed the drawer. He looked at me and smiled and said "Simple!" Then he walked away. Chuck just looked at me and said "I can't believe your first meeting with Al Schottelkotte and he almost thought you were stealing from him. Only you." I bet he rememberd me for awhile. Mr. Schottelkotte passed away in 1996. You can read his obit here.
All in all these local stars were very nice to me and left me with a favorable impression. Posted by Picasa

My breakfast with Uncle Al and Captain Wendy

The above picture is from the "Uncle Al Show" that was on WCPO TV in the 1960's. This was an early morning kids show that I remember watching during the breakfast hour. It starred AL Lewis and his wife Wanda as Captain Wendy. I wanted to show this on April 16th as "Uncle" Al Lewis is shown holding up that day's date being the 16th. However, the 16th was Easter so I waited till today. Captain Wendy is standing in the back next to the beanstalk holding up another child. I can't see the month but from the way the kids are dressed it looks like fall to me. I and my cousin's Rachel and Randy were on the show that day. It was my first glimpse behind the magic that was television. First teh kids were seperated into different age groups. Rachel was younger the Randy and I so she was off in one group while we were in another. Rachel's group went into one room while randy and I were led into another. It was the segment where Uncle Al and the kids were suppose to climb a beanstalk to meat Mr. Giant. There the Giant would show the kids cartoons. On the way in I was encountered with what I now know was a learning experience. A young lady stopped me on the way into the room and asked me if I wanted to be Mr. Policeman. In the Mr. Policeman segment you would dress like a traffic cop and Uncle Al would interview you. I was hoping I would get to be Mr. Policeman and now here was my chance. Randy was right behind me. I knew if I left for the segment that Randy would be left alone and there was no one in our group that he knew but me. I didn't want him to be alone so I said no to the offer of a lifetime. When I got in the room I was dissappointed to see that the Giant was just a plywood cut out and we were expected to sit and watch a cartoon on TV. I turned to say something to Randy but I couldn't find him. I looked everywhere. I couldn't even find Uncle Al. Why weren't they both there? Because when I turned it down Randy was asked next and he took the job. At that moment he was being interviewd by Uncle Al. I am happy that if I didn't take the offer that Randy did. I learned that if an oppertunity comes up that you want you should take it. If you look closely at the center of the picture you will see me. I am laughing very hard as I was on my favorite show and having the time of my life and I got to share it with two of my closest cousins who I dearly love. Randy is to my left and seated to my right is my other cousin Rachel. They had no idea that we were all related. It just worked out that way.
If you want to know more about the Uncle Al show you can click here to go to WCPO's website. Many interesting things about it there. Like till 2002 it was the longest running kids show in history. Even though it was canceled in the early 1980's. Posted by Picasa

The Honeymooners in Color with the June Taylor Dancers

Thanks to I have just seen that the Honeymooners will be release this summer. The color version from the 60's. For those of you born after the 1976, the 1960's had alot of musical variety shows. Jackie Gleason had his first hit with the Honeymooners in the 50's and then hosted one of those musical variety shows that was called, modestly enough, "The Jackie Gleason Show." Around 1966 color tv was the new thing. Alot like stero television with surround sound is today. It was not uncommon for shows to add "in color" to their title sequence. That year Gleason toyed with the musical variety format a bit by having Art Carney, Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean join the cast and did musicals of the Honeymooner scripts. Most famously their trip to Europe. They kept the June Taylor Dancers and it was not uncommon to see Ralph and Norton to break out in song. I was about 5 or 6 at the time but I still remember it to this day. Which is more then I can say for my 2 years of high school spanish. Any way I can't wait for this to be released and since I don't have any of the DVD case artwork I have given you this cover from a late 60's TV Guide from this auction. Posted by Picasa

Ultraman on DVD

I was over at Bubblegumfink and he had a link to this site telling of the date of release for Ultraman. The hero who helped the Science Patrol keep Godzilla and other monsters from destroying Japan will be back in July with series one. Posted by Picasa

The Sentinel On DVD

I just got The Sentinel Season one on DVD. It is a very good action series produced by the same people who brought you "The Flash." I watched most of the episodes before it went off the air but the one that I missed, even in re-runs, was the first episode. So I was very happy to get this DD boxed set. For those of you not familier with the series it is about Jim Ellison who was lost for a year and a half in the jungle. To survive, his five senses get sharpened to an amazing height. When he gets home he joins the police force. The rest of the series he is shown getting use to his new senses in the city and hoe they give him an edge over the criminals. It is sort of like Daredevil joining the police department and he can see. Get this DVD set if you see it for sale anywhere. Posted by Picasa