EXTRA! EXTRA! Ailing Dennis Hopper Gets Stellar Honor: Connections (#11)

Dennis Hopper Receives His Star

Months after revealing that he was battling prostate cancer, Dennis Hopper was back in front of the cameras on Friday when he received the 2,403rd star on Hollywood’s Walk of fame.”

The 73-year actor, who disclosed his cancer last October, appeared to be in good spirits as he arrived for the ceremony in front of the Egyptian Theatre.

Before taking the stage, Hopper listened to tributes from actor Viggo Mortensen and producer Mark Canton. Also in attendance were “Easy Rider” co-star Jack Nicholson, “Blue Velvet” director David Lynch, singer Johnny Mathis and philanthropist Eli Broad.  Coopyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

I worked with Mark Canton when he was at Warner Bros. Studios and I was Post Production Supervisor on the ground-breaking, black rap musical “Krush Groove.”

For more on Johnnie Mathis and me, see my Blog: EXTRA! EXTRA! Pattie Page in the News: Connections (#5) Published 02/15/10.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! MARCH MADNESS: CONNECTIONS (#10)

It’s the month of March — March Madness — the time for the NCAA Regional Basketball Playoffs, and the National Championship game. When I’m watching a game and my  team’s  winning, I have good reason to yell and cheer. But, between you and me, I have another reason to be excited.  My good friend, composer Bob Christianson, wrote the theme music you’re hearing during every basketball game during March Madness.  Intros, underscore, commercial segues, recaps, you name it.  He hasn’t yet composed the songs played by college bands, but some day if you ever hear a new fight song for Notre Dame, there’s a good chance it will be by composer  Bob Christianson.

If you like Bob’s themes, you can call CBS in New York, and tell them so.

212-977-4573

I first met Bob when he composed the score for the feature film “Wishman,” directed by Mike Marvin, starring Paul LeMat. I was the Film Editor and Post Production Supervisor on that film. Several years later, I edited another feature film “No Ordinary Love,” and got Bob the composing gig on it. From there, when I was In charge of production for Showcase Entertainment, Bob composed scores for “The Bad Pack,” “Boys Klub,” “The Adventures of Ragtime,” and “Mindbender,” directed by Kurt Russell. And Bob has been my go-to guy ever since. Not only is Bob a talented composer, he plays a mean keyboard, sings a little bit, and was a pit conductor on Broadway.  Now he is writing musicals.

Whenever I go to New York I stay with Bob and his wife Jeannie, who was a Broadway performer herself, at their lovely brownstone, which houses one of his recording studios, in the Chelsey section of N. Y., an invigorating walk on a brisk autumn day to Times Square.

Now let’s get back to March.  Bob has put up a website for his latest project, “A Christmas Carol – The Concert,” which is the classic Dickens tale performed as a concert with full symphony orchestra, a rock/pop rhythm section, choir, a narrator and three soloists.  Hear this classic ghost story as you’ve never heard it before. Composer Bob Christianson and lyricist Alisa Klein Hauser have created a brand new original score with musical styles that range from classical and Broadway to blues and gospel.

First published in 1843, A Christmas Carol has been adapted many, many times for stage, television, movies, and opera including adaptations for the Muppets, Barbie, and even The Flintstones.  BUT THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A CONCERT VERSION written for a SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA until NOW.

I recommend going to the website to listen to various pieces of Bob’s original symphony score accompanied by several very talented performers.  A Christmas Carol – The Concert

EXTRA! EXTRA! Odom’s Marketability Soars: Connections (#9)

The face of the Lakers is now … Lamar Odom?

The 30 year-old forward has been in three national TV commercials the last two months, including one on Super Bowl Sunday and another that’s running often during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Kobe Bryant still has mass appeal, but Odom is getting plenty of attention these days.

He has made random TV appearances in the past, popping up on “Entourage” and the former sports-agent series “Arli$$,” through his new-found commercial appeal can be traced to his wife of six months, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian.

“I don’t think you can underestimate the impact that those nuptials have had on his marketing value,” said Paul Swamgard of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.  “The typical challenge is you’re only going to get coverage from the beat writers who cover the Lakers, but he has found a way to get some crossover marketability.”

Odom understands why. “We got married and 3 million people watched, you know what I’m saying?” he said.  “That’s just part of it.  I would have never thought I’d be married … and married to somebody that’s on reality TV.”   Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

For more on the Kardashians, see my Blog: EXTRA! EXTRA! The Kardashian Spell: Connections (#8) Published 03/17/10.

EXTRA! EXTRA! The Kardashian Spell: Connections (#8)

Hollywood being what it is I still can’t help but marvel at the many connections I have made over the years.  It  seems as though everywhere I turn I see a news story about someone who acts as a conduit to so many other people I’ve met or worked with in Show Biz.  Today’s story provides a glimpse of recent history and is well worth the read.

Recently the Los Angeles Times did a story entitled “The Kardashian Spell” that chronicles the meteoric climb to popularity of  three sisters whose last name happens to be Kardashian. Their TV-series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” has just concluded its fourth season, spawned a spin-off show, and Kim Kardashian.com is the world’s most popular official celebrity website.

Despite lacking traditional talents, Khloe, Kim and Kourtney have achieved stardom of sorts. Middle age daughter Kim hung around L.A. nightclubs with Paris Hilton. Magazines and gossip blogs cover every aspect of their personal lives. Madison Avenue calls on the family to sell everything from diet pills and orange juice to NASCAR and fast food.

Several weeks ago, Kim, along with legendary Carol Shelby, gave the revered “Gentlemen Start Your Engines” to the  drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Kardashians have succeeded where other programs purporting to show the real lives of beautiful people has mystified others in the industry who have tried to replicate them.  Their late father is Robert Kardashian, a lawyer who helped O. J. Simpson win acquittal in his murder trial.  Kris (formerly Robert’s wife) is now married to former Olympian Bruce Jenner, who won a gold metal in the decathlon in 1976.

I was film editor and post-production supervisor on the feature film “Wishman,” starring Paul Le Mat.  In a fantasy sequence with multiple moons hanging in a deep purple sky, two little blonde-haired girls, Paris, age 10, and sister Nicky, age 7, sit on a blanket on a tropical beach as Hitchcock the Genie, played by Geoffrey Lewis, appears and does his Genie-thing — magically sparkling — then disappears into thin air. Paris Hilton has a website that includes her film credits and I’m listed on it.  Several years ago I chatted with Paris at paralyzed surfer Jessie Billauer’s charity event Life Rolls On, for which I’m an avid supporter, at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  Paris graciously bid 10 thousand dollars for an item listed in the live auction that night.

I met Robert Kardashian around 1980 when he and Bob Wilson published the influential music industry magazine  Radio & Records.  They owned the rights to the live performance show “The Great Rock & Roll Time Machine” that was playing at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.   Showbiz powerhouse attorney Mickey Rudin, who represented Frank Sinatra, brought in music mogul Irving Azoff, manager of the Eagles, and then presented this package to  Neufeld-Davis Productions, for whom I was working. I was made the producer of this project by Mace Neufeld and given the challenge of turning the live show into a theatrical motion picture which was to be a compilation of mostly stock footage featuring legendary R&R singers and singing groups. The assigned budget was $2,000,000.

Irving Azoff is currently Executive Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment.

Mace Neufeld and Barney Rosenweiz had been in the TV production business. After their relationship ended, I continued to work for Mace Neufeld Productions.   Billionaire Denver oilman Marvin Davis was introduced to Mace Neufeld by attorney Mickey Rudin, and Neufeld-Davis Productions was born.

Davis was a heavy-set man, and I remember him coming into  my office and introducing himself.  What I remember most is that his black shark skin suit fit him like a second skin. Most heavy-set people have multiple wardrobes and no piece of clothing fits them exactly.

I had previously  worked as Post Production Supervisor for Mace Neufeld and Barney Rosenweiz on ABC-TV network’s award winning mini-series “East of Eden,” as well as the TV movie “Angel on my Shoulder,” and the TV pilot “American Dream.”  I also worked for Mace on Toby Hooper’s horror feature, “The Funhouse,” for Universal Studios.

For “R&R Time Machine,” I immediately hired David Blewitt to be the editor, whom I knew from my Wolper Productions days, and who was the film editor along with Bud Friedgen on the critically acclaimed  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film, “That’s Entertainment,” a richly satisfying feature documentary commemorating MGM’s 50th anniversary.   The compilation movie, produced and directed by Jack Haley Jr., was loaded with movie stars: Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Donald O’Connor.

I travelled to London, England, to research some footage that was going to be used to establish the time frame during which the R&R music was popular.   At the Pathe News Library I actually wound through the original 35mm black & white negative that showed President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office, speaking to our country and the world about the Cuban Missile Crises.

My staff consisted of Secretaries, Runners, Researchers, Writers, Film Librarians, Film Editors, led by the talented David Blewitt, and outside legal counsel provided by Mickey Rudin’s office in Beverly Hills.  One major obstacle was negotiating the price to license the performance film clips we wanted to use in the  movie.  Because of the multitude of sources providing these musical clips, and the fact that this was to be a feature motion picture, no one would commit to a specific price, so the decision was made to negotiate favored nation contracts with all of the parties.  Unfortunately it made it almost impossible to the estimate the final negative cost of the movie.  “The Great Rock & Roll Time Machine” movie collapsed because one of the executive producers, who shall remain nameless, reneged on his promise to place the movie into a  major distribution outlet, which had been the underpinning of the deal with Neufeld-Davis Productions.  I was told to dismiss my entire staff, with no severance pay, two weeks before Christmas.  I argued with Business Affairs and managed to get everyone paid one additional week.  It was not a very Happy Holiday for all parties concerned.

I worked for David L. Wolper Prods. as Film Librarian and Assistant Cameraman, on the NBC-TV series, “Hollywood and the Stars.” narrated by Joseph Cotton, and produced by David L. Wolper and Jack Haley, Jr. In 1962 I was sent to Puerto Vallarta to work as Assistant Cameraman, alongside David Blewitt, to film the behind the scenes making of “Night of the Iguana,” directed by John Huston and starring Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon.  The movie was featured in Life Magazine and created an international buzz that put the tiny fishing village of Puerto Vallarta, with less than 5,000 residents, on the world  map as a major vacation destination.

I filmed an interview for television with  Gene Kelly and Barbra Streisand on the 20th Century Fox backlot several days before the big parade scene with hundreds of costumed marchers was filmed for  the movie “Hello Dolly.”  Years later, I had lunch many times in the Executive Dining Room at MGM with Gene Kelly, legendary Music Supervisor, four-time Oscar winner, Saul Chaplin, Walter Shenson of “The Beetles” movies fame, and writer Allan Balter, with whom I worked as Associate Producer on the two-hour NBC TV Movie “San Francisco International,” at Universal Studios in 1970.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Back Into The Limelight: Connections (#7)

Poison frontman Bret Michaels on tour in 2008

Longtime Poison frontman Bret Michaels steps back into the limelight this week with a new iTunes single out featuring Miley Cyrus, of all people, on a power ballad called  “Nothing to Lose.” His new album, “Custom Built,” is due in late spring, and he’s also in the cast of “The Celebrity Apprentice” season premiering March 14 on NBC.  Copyright © 2010 Los Angeles Times

I worked as Post Production Supervisor with the talented Bret Michaels, who wrote and co-directed along with Marvin Baker, the feature film, “A Letter from Death Row,” starring Bret Michaels and Martin Sheen, which was released in 1988.  The film is a psychological thriller and I highly recommend it.

I worked as Film Editor and Post Production Supervisor on the feature film, “Wishman,” directed by Mike Marvin, that included an uncredited appearance by Martin Sheen as a player on the NFL’s San Francisco Giants football team.  I also appear, uncredited, as one of the players on the team. It’s  interesting to note that John Paul DeJoria, of Paul Mitchell®  Haircare Products fame, was Executive Producer.

EXTRA! EXTRA! 2010 Academy Awards: Connections (#6)

Roger and Julie Corman with Author at 2008 Puerto Vallarta Film Festival

Roger and Julie Corman with Author at 2008 Puerto Vallarta Film Festival

It was like old home week on tonight’s Academy Awards telecast.  Roger Corman, who I spent time with at the 2008 Puerto Vallarta Film Festival, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

I worked with Colin Firth, who was nominated for best Supporting Actor and was also a presenter tonight, on the feature film  “Apartment Zero.”

I worked with Lloyd Bridges on the Emmy-nominated mini-series “East of Eden,” and tonight his son, Jeff Bridges, was a presenter and also won the Oscar for Best Actor in “Crazy Heart.”

Special congratulations are also in order for Sandra Bullock and Bob Murawski who I mentioned as being nominated for Oscars in a previous Blog. Tonight Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress in “The Blind Spot,” and Bob Murawski won an Oscar for Co-Editing “The Hurt Locker.”

Congratulations Everyone!

MY PERSONAL STORY Scene Four: I get a Polaroid Land Camera Model 95

The red velvet curtain has been closed for too long and it’s time to present a new scene. I’m going back in time to first grade at H. C. Lea (Grammar) School in West Philadelphia.  Wanting to see Santa Clause was a big thing and I had an unflappable determination to see the jolly old man. There were lots of toys I wanted for Christmas.   I’ve decided to include a personal hygiene mishap in MY PERSONAL STORY because it reveals the desire of this little kid to do something he wanted to do, in spite of the obstacles (poop) that got in the way.  The “accident” happened in 1st. grade and went unrecognized by everyone except me. Yes, my teacher did smell something unpleasant but I was a “rug boy,” and having just unrolled the rug onto which a classmate had hurled the day before, the timing was perfect and I escaped detection despite the load of freshly minted poop in my pants.

Nowadays, kids talk about “poop.”  “Poop, poop, poop.”  All “poop,” all the time. This word is often mentioned in popular children’s books particularly aimed at little boys. When big boys with big toys go and gamble this word undergoes a metamorphosis. When I stand at a table playing Craps in Las Vegas, sometimes I wonder if some gambler way back when rolled the dice, lost, and shit in his pants. And the game of Craps was born. Imagine if you will, if Craps had been named Poops.  Next time when you’re gambling you’d be standing at the Poops table playing Poops.

Sorry – I couldn’t resist.   Getting back on track, when the “accident” happened I was six years old. My Parents were going to take me to see Santa Clause after school that day. So, there I was riding in their car on a mission, and the dried poop in my pants wasn’t going to stop me. Now I come to the point of this story, and I think you’ll understand the reason for my scatological diversion because to this day I won’t let obstacles stop me from achieving whatever I’ve set out to do.

During another Christmas season, when I was one year older, my Mom took me to to see Santa Clause at Gimbal Bros. Department Store in Center City Philadelphia. A radio show featuring Santa Clause was being broadcast on station WIP.  I sat on his lap and  he asked me if I had been crying.  I said yes, and he asked me the reason why.  I replied, “I dropped my choo-choo train engine down the toilet but my Mother fished it out.”  Needless to say my dear Mom was very embarrassed and reminded me about it for years.

During yet another Christmas, when I was in fifth or sixth grade, my parents gave me a Polaroid Land Camera Model 95, which allowed the user to develop a finished B&W picture in one minute.   You would snap the picture, then pull a paper tab containing the undeveloped picture.  You would wait for one minute, then peel off the paper backing to  see the finished picture.  The final step was to coat the picture using a pink strip of soft material containing a chemical that preserved and protected the picture from fading.

Armed with my new Polaroid Camera, I became the photographer for the elementary school newspaper, The Lea Echo.  This was in addition to my being on the audio-visual squad — H.C. Lea (Grammar) School’s main projectionist.  I wanted to take  a picture at a baseball game.   What if I could photograph a student sliding into home plate and the umpire calling the runner safe?  Well, it happened but I wasn’t in the right position of snap the magic action moment. I stood behind the catcher and umpire, and was blocked from seeing the action.   So I decided to stage the photo with a bunch of kids after the game ended.  The Camera had a very slow shutter speed and the lens was standard focal length, so I stood with the camera on the baseball diamond in the pitcher’s lane a few feet away.  The picture I took, a sports action moment at a schoolyard baseball game, a moment frozen in time, looks like it was taken in real time by a professional photographer.   I have it on the wall of my office today.

I was a good photographer but a lousy musician.  My Uncle Eddie who gave me a musical instrument every Christmas, gave me an accordion one year.  It was half the size of a standard accordion.  I was in Cub Scouts and there was some kind of talent night.  I remember coming out on the stage, staring into the spotlight and trying to get through the Western-themed song, “Home on  the Range.”  I performed miserably and barely got through playing the entire song. I didn’t like being in front of an audience.  I decided I was never going to be a performer.  Yet the stage fascinated me, and would play an important  role in my future.

Today’s story gets me through my Grammar School years, and I along with you, will soon graduate to high school and…

MY PERSONAL STORY will continue…