EXTRA! EXTRA! 2014 Grammy Awards Ceremony: Connections #68

Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at the Grammys

Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at the Grammys

     I enjoyed last Sunday’s Grammy Awards Ceremony that featured the reunion of former Beatles members Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, they both have their chops, and watching them performing together brought back so many fond memories.

     Today Sir Paul McCartney is a very wealthy man.  Forbes Magazine estimates his net worth at around $650 million.

     I remember back in the 1960’s when the Beatles visited Los Angeles and stayed in a rented house in Coldwater Canyon that hordes of young people caused a massive traffic jam – I witnessed this first hand because I was working as a newsreel camera for KHJ-TV, channel 9, in Los Angeles.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! Cinerama Dome’s 50th Birthday: Connections #65

     November 7th, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California.

     November 7th, 1963 I was a newreel cameraman for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles.  The occasion was the world première of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in a theatre based on a geodesic dome developed by R. Buckmaster Fuller.  This premier marked the dawn of “single lens” Cinerama.

Photo of the Cinerama Dome on November 7, 1963

Photo of the Cinerama Dome on November 7, 1963

     Directed by Stanley Kramer, the cast was outstanding: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, and a host of other stars including legendary Buster Keaton.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! PASSINGS PBS Loses a Friend: Connections #63

     On July 10, James L. Loper, a founder and former president of  KCET Channel 28 who helped build the public broadcasting station into one of the nation’s leading noncommercial outlets, has died. He was 81.

     Loper, who went on to oversee the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, died Monday at his Pasadena home, his family said. No cause was announced.

     An Arizona transplant, Loper was a doctoral student at USC in the early 1960s when he joined a small group, the Committee for Educational Television, that was trying to establish a public broadcasting station in Los Angeles.

     When KCET went on the air in 1964, Loper was director of educational television. About two years later, he took charge of the station, first as vice president and general manager and then as president from 1971 to 1983.

     He “left an indelible mark on the history of KCET and public television,” Al Jerome, chief executive of KCETLink, as the former PBS outlet is now known, said in a statement. “Jim launched several national productions that aligned the Hollywood entertainment community with the newly emerging national program service PBS.”

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Clete Roberts, popular Los Angeles TV Reporter

Clete Roberts, popular Los Angeles TV Reporter

TV Reporter Clete Roberts was a close friend of James Loper and did many public affairs segments for KCET, and I was the 16mm newsreel cameraman.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS News and Nostalga: Connections #60

      Jonathan Winters recently passed away  in Montecito, CA, and it brought back memories of the ’60s when I worked as a newsreel cameraman in Los Angeles for Channel 9, KHJ-TV.  I had a special license plate on my car.  It was exactly like the one in this picture, but without the license plate holder and the words “SLO Skiers.”  This was during the days when gas station attendants filled up your tank with gas.  So many attendants would ask me what the “PP” meant.  These were the days of the 20th Century Fox TV hit “Payton Place.” Of course, I would always reply “Payton Place.”

PP License Plate

PP License Plate

     I covered hundreds, maybe thousands of news stories and one of them was the world premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which also happened to be the grand opening of the newly built Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

     Recently while I was supervising some video mastering of “Atlas Shrugged – The Strike” at FotoKem in Burbank, I saw this picture of the premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on the wall in the lobby of the Conversions Department.  The place has lots of expensive video recorders, monitors, etc.  You don’t want to have to pay the monthly electrical bill to power this equipment, and dozens of skilled technicians inhabit this place, which is not cheap, either.

     Getting back to this picture,  I think I can recognize myself in the crowd of photographers and newsreel cameramen outside on the sidewalk. If you look very carefully, you can see the reflection of me taking this picture.  In show biz, this is a twofer.  Oh well, I’m not a comedian.

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World Premier at new Cinerama Dome in Hollywood

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS Penn State Remembered: Connections #52

     In 2008, Penn State played USC in the Rose Bowl — and lost. I recall that game was never close and Joe Paterno stayed in the Press Box because of a leg injury caused by the collision with a football player while coaching from the sidelines during a football game earlier in the season. I must say it was a thrilling experience to watch the game from the USC sidelines. I now understand why spotters play such an important role, it’s difficult to view the action because the center of the field is elevated to allow for drainage after a rainstorm.

     At the conclusion of the football game, I was able to get into the tunnel area beneath the Rose Bowl. I happened to be standing near the Penn State locker room as Joe Paterno came out of and sat down in an electric cart and was driven away. Little did I, or anyone know, what Joe was hiding from the rest of the world.

     Looking back, Jerry Sandusky was there, too, and I get the creeps thinking about him and my proximity to this evil man.

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno on the sideline during warmups in 1996.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s now July 31, 2012, and USC can play in Bowl games once again.

Penn State football has been heavily penalized. The Los Angeles Times printed a story today that Silas Redd, a junior, who rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns at Penn State last year, is joining USC.. He will be eligible to play immediately for the Trojans, who are thin at running back.

     I have season tickets and plan to attend all of the games this season. It will be a great relief for me to scream my brains out for USC, and be able to forget about my responsibilities connected with supervising the delivery of the feature film “Atlas Shrugged Part ll,” which opens in theaters nationwide on Oct. 12, 2012.

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EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS James Toback On ‘The Gambler’ Remake: “Not Possible… Rudeness And Disrespect:” Connections #44

A story was emailed to me by a friend this afternoon. It reminded me how cruel Hollywood can be to some of the people who’ve contributed so much to it. Case in point is screenwriter James Toback. Then I read some of the reader’s comments to this story and one jerk responded by saying that it’s been a long time since Toback has had one of his screenplays made into film. As if that’s a good reason to treat him like dirt. Toback was paid for his screenplay and doesn’t control the rights, but this shouldn’t mean keeping him out of the loop on a remake. It took him totally by surprise as you will read in Nikki Finke‘s story.

EXTRA! EXTRA! EXTRAS Carmageddon Didn’t Happen on the #405 This Past Weekend; Armageddon Didn’t Happen 42 Years Ago On The Moon: Connections (#41)

Picture taken 20 July, 1969, of astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, walking on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA). AFP PHOTO NASA

I was in Las Vegas with my Mother and Father when Man first walked on the moon and vividly remember how excited I was. I urged my Mom and Dad to go to the restaurant a few steps from the casino and watch this historic event.

My Dad was reluctant to leave the casino, it’s the reason why he came to Las Vegas in the first place, so off I went alone.  My heart was in my throat as I watched the historic Lunar Landing unfold. I wondered if Buzz Aldrin* would sink down into the moon itself and disappear. I actually thought the surface could be like quicksand here on Earth.  But it wasn’t and I was very relieved.

There was real danger, of course, and the Los Angeles Times had a wonderful story yesterday that addressed this unspoken reality.

*At the 2006 college championship game between the University of Texas and USC, I was invited to attend a tailgate party with Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.  (USC lost this gut-wrenching  game.)  I’ve refered to this story in another Blog – Connections #12.

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Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon 42 years ago yesterday. But what would have happened if tragedy had fallen on the Apollo 11 mission?

In 1969, Richard Nixon was president and William Safire was his speechwriter. The first spacewalk was a huge deal for Nixon, who was mired in a Vietnam quagmire.

In a piece he wrote for The New York Times on the 20th anniversary of the lunar landing, Safire recalled that Frank Borman, the White House liaison with the astronauts, told him that he should not just have a victory speech planned for Nixon, but something prepared if the mission didn’t succeed.

Frank Borman, our liaison with the astronauts, brought the image-making up short with: ”You want to be thinking of some alternative posture for the president in the event of mishaps.” To blank looks at this technojargon, he added, ”like what to do for the widows.” Suddenly we were faced with dark side of the moon planning.  Death, if it came, would not come in a terrible blaze of glory; the greatest danger was that the two astronauts, once on the moon, would not be able to return to the command module.

So Safire wrote this touching piece that thankfully Nixon never had to read:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Fortunately that speech was unnecessary, and has been stored in the National Archives.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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