Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Cult Of The "Wilhelm Scream"

I didn't know such a thing existed until I saw this clip... it's kind of a secret joke among sound editors in Hollywood. I'll be listening to movies a little more closely for it, now that I know what it is.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tssss! More "Hairspray"

As a music arranger, I find articles about the process quite fascinating, so here is an interview with Marc Shaiman and how he created the score and those incredible orchestrations for "Hairspray" I talked about in yesterday's post. (A couple of nasty words should not stop you from reading this.) Shaiman, of course, wrote the songs for the musical with his partner Scott Wittman.

BTW, if you recognize the name, Marc Shaiman was sort of an adjunct member of the SNL Band in the late 80's, playing piano and arranging medleys for the Sweeney Sisters sketches featuring Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Hairspray": Some More Thoughts

I went to a matinee of "Hairspray", the new musical film, with the girls yesterday (as alluded to in the previous post). Part of the fun of these movies is trying to find things that don't quite mesh chronologically. In the first five minutes of the film, I found the first one as a 1963 Chevrolet Bel-Air whizzed by, a car that would not have been made yet in the spring of 1962. And then, later on, in Motormouth Maybelle's record store, there's a copy of Junior Walker's "Road Runner" album, which the sax great didn't record until 1966. Robair thinks some of the songs on Corny Collins' countdown board came out after the events of the movie transpired, and may not ever have charted together as a group... we'll have to wait until the DVD comes out to break that down.

Whose performances was I impressed with? Well, I always get a kick out of Christopher Walken, who's playing Tracy's dad in this film (and taking over from Jerry Stiller, who's moved over into another role in the new movie). Michelle Pfeiffer is great as well as the TV station manager and she and Walken have a great number together. Allison Janney was very funny as the mom of Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes). Some of the young performers were good too such as Jason Marsden (who played Corny Collins), Brittany Snow, and star Nicole Blonsky. Bynes, as Penny, got off some good lines and did some of her trademark pratfalls. Elijah Kelley played the guy Penny falls for, driving a lot of the plot of this film.

But John Travolta? My goodness, 30-some years after "Moment by Moment", he STILL looks like Lily Tomlin! And in drag and a fat suit, he looks like a bloated Lily Tomlin! I'm sorry, I just couldn't get that image out of my head. But he did dance pretty well, shaking his prosthetic ass for the camera. (And that's probably the only time you'll ever see that phrase on this blog. Bottle this moment in time.)

The songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were great. These songs have worked on Broadway for several years and they sound much bolder on the big screen (and have the benefit of some great orchestrations). (Shaiman, Wittman, director Adam Shankman, and original "Hairspray" star Ricki Lake - not looking anything like the chunky Tracy of '88 - all had cameos in the film as talent agents.)

The one thing I miss about this new version? "It's Madison Time! HIT IT!"

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks, Cleveland Rocks.... Ohio! (hio, hio, hio)

As I'm sure you've heard by now (because you're surfing legit news sites rather than going blogging), Drew Carey has accepted the hosting vacancy at "The Price is Right", after an extensive search that saw many legitimate contenders (and Rosie O'Donnell) vie to tread the sacred ground of the Bob Barker Studio at CBS, long corded mike in hand, presiding over pricing games and Showcases.

How does this corner feel about it? Great! We've been watching Drew in action for years both as sitcom actor and as host of "Whose Line Is It Anyway", but now he gets to interact with real people trying to win prizes. The deal was literally finalized as Drew was preparing to go on air with David Letterman earlier this evening, so the Letterman crowd was the first to hear the announcement that Drew is now the Plinko Master.

How's poor ol' Nikki Blonsky, so wonderful in "Hairspray" (which I saw today), gonna follow that? Perhaps signing on as one of Carey's Cuties?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another All-Star Perpsective

...from one who was there. Our longtime pal Harry McCracken, whose offices at PC World are just three blocks from AT&T Park, was at the All-Star Game and got some nice pictures. It's whetting my appetite for visiting the ballpark, which I will do in late August as part of my West Coast trip.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WSOP In A Bit Of A Decline...

Where did all the players go? There are some 2400 less players involved in this year's Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Fittingly, this year's first prize has been reduced, too, from the record-breaking $12,000,000 of last year to this year's relatively measly $8,250,000.

Possibly because of the prohibitively high buy in ($10,000) without even the guarantee of making the money. Or perhaps because online poker is in decline because of questions of its legality, and there are correspondingly less Chris Moneymaker rags-to-riches stories.

I used to play online poker, never for money, just for fun. But I stopped, because I knew that eventually it would lead to me playing for money. And that's a little sick - gambling from home, without the social element.

OTOH, Tracy and I really cleaned up a few weeks ago at the 3-Card Poker tables.... at a casino, with live dealers and people watching. Lots more fun than winning at home.

Please note: if you are one of my impressionable younger readers, please realize that gambling is an ADULT ACTIVITY.

All Star Game Recap


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

JACK FM is The New New Coke

It's such a good analogy, I wish I'd thought of it. But Phlash Phelps, morning guy at XM 6, came up with it out of the clear blue this morning on his show. And he's right.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, CBS Radio has decided to return WCBS-FM New York to its classic oldies format that it had for 33 years before making the JACK FM switch in June 2005.

The format is going to be a little more strictly defined, starting with The Beatles Invasion and ending with songs from the late 80's. No early Elvis, no early 50's R&B. But there should be plenty of Motown.

Dan Taylor has signed on as morning man (supported by two other station veterans, newsman Al Meredith and weather forecaster Irv "Mr. G" Gikofsky) while station mainstay Bob Shannon has signed back on board to do Bill Brown's old midday shift. Broadway Bill Lee will do PM drive. CBS will flip the switch on the restored station on Thursday at 1:01 p.m.

WHAT? You want me to explain New Coke, too? (These kids today...)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Summer Of Woody

In a busy summer with lots of good cartoon releases out there (starting with today's release of the complete Batfink series), Woody Woodpecker is not to be denied. Universal is going to be presenting a DVD set of the first several years of Woody Woodpecker cartoons, including all of his 1940's cartoons and some from the early 1950's, after producer Walter Lantz' brief sojourn at United Artists and subsequent temporary closure of the studio. (Many of Woody's friends will be onboard as well.) This will be released on Tuesday, July 24. (Universal, of course, previously released many of these cartoons on 8mm film through its Castle Films subsidiary - remember those? If you do, you're probably my age or older!)

In honor of said release, StoryMakers Studio is going to be mounting a special tribute to Woody and Walter on Wednesday, July 11, 2007. It is a free event at Mann's Chinese Theater. Please visit this site for more information about this special event, which will include the participation of June Foray, Leonard Maltin, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, and animator Phil Roman. If you can't make the event you'll be able to see it online. More details at that site.