“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Beauty of an Anniversary…

May 8th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is commemorating the 25th anniversary of Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast with a cast-and-crew reunion at its Beverly Hills headquarters that will include lead voice actors Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, and Angela Lansbury. But, there’ll be one notable absence at the Monday night celebration — the film’s Oscar-winning composer, Alan Menken. He’s got a beauty of an excuse, though: He’s in New York working on the new live-action version of this timeless tale.

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   That film, expected in theaters next year, casts Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in a musical version of the timeless tale, with Bill Condon directing. Menken is incorporating the 1991 film’s songs, which he co-wrote with the late Howard Ashman, as well as composing new material with his Aladdin lyricist, Tim Rice. The release is well anticipated because of the recent success of the updated version of The Jungle Book.

   Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for a best-picture Oscar, and the first to gross more than $100 million in North America.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Forgets…

May 7th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The ashes of Alan Freed, a seminal figure in the history of modern music, have found a home in Cleveland, where the disc jockey coined the term rock ‘n’ roll, and organized what’s considered the genre’s first concert more than 60 years ago. A monument was unveiled Saturday at the Lake View Cemetery during a ceremony to celebrate Freed’s colorful and tumultuous life. During the tribute, music artists spoke about Freed’s legacy.

   The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, built there in part because of Freed, asked to bury the ashes outside the museum as part of a cornerstone. Those plans were thwarted by a city law saying human remains can be buried only in a cemetery. An urn containing the ashes spent time beneath an escalator inside the museum before being put on display around 2002. Freed’s family was asked to take the urn back in 2014 after a new chief executive decided the display was inappropriate. After nearly two years in a vault at Lake View, the urn was buried at a grave site on Friday.

Alan_Freed_1957   Alan Freed was born near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Salem, Ohio when he was 12. He found his calling in radio while a student at Ohio State, and worked at various stations before landing a job in Cleveland, where he promoted popular rhythm and blues artists on his Moondog Show. Cleveland also is where he applied the phrase rock ‘n’ roll (slang for sex in the black community) to music. Freed, while a disc jockey in Cleveland, took his initial steps to synthesize a new musical form that blended jazz, blues, pop, rhythm and blues, and country music into what’s known today as rock ‘n’ roll. Freed organized what’s considered the first rock ‘n’ roll concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, at Cleveland Arena in 1952. A dance show featuring R&B artists, it was shut down when 20,000 people without tickets showed up and tried to crash the party. Freed apologized for the mayhem, but the show caught the attention of the entertainment world and propelled him to New York City, where he hosted a late-night radio show called Rock ‘n’ Roll Party.

   He appeared in movies with top acts of the day, including Clyde McPhatter, Ritchie Valens, The Platters, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bill Haley, Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran, The Flamingos, The Moonglows, Brook Benton, LaVern Baker, Lionel Hampton, Ferlin Husky, and Jackie Wilson. These films were often welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm by teenagers because they brought visual depictions of their favorite American acts to the big screen, years before music videos.

   One of Freed’s most enduring legacies was his effort to promote music across color lines. He began taking black and white artists on the road for popular shows. It drew the ire of the white establishment, which accused him of promoting race mixing and lascivious behavior. Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks later called Freed a person who broke down racial barriers.

   Alan Freed’s career was destroyed by the payola scandal that hit the broadcasting industry in the early 1960s. He died a broken man in Palm Springs in 1965 at age 43 of liver failure. This weekend, the broadcasting legend returned home for the last time.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Road to Burbank…

May 5th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Bob Hope Airport, the transportation hub located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, will now be known as Hollywood Burbank Airport. The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority on Monday voted to re-brand the airport’s unofficial name in a marketing effort to let travelers know the airfield is a gateway to destinations beyond just Burbank. It has flights coming in from Jet Blue, United, Delta, Southwest, and American.

   Built in 1930, it was named Hollywood Burbank Airport in 1967, re-named Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport in 1978, and then Bob Hope Airport in 2003, the year he died in nearby Toluca Lake. A PR firm was awarded $50,000, and the re-branding became their chief strategy. The airport authority also plans a major renovation.

t2r9mdc2w87ddm22   Bob Hope is an American legend who devoted much of his life to bringing joy to military servicemen through his USO tours. But, that wasn’t enough to keep his name on the Southern California airport. One argument for the change was that Hope’s name wasn’t helping to brand the airport to travel agencies and tourists. Hope died 13 years ago, but his career wasn’t resonating with younger travelers.

   Bob Hope’s signature song was Thanks for the Memory, and he will soon fade from the airport named after him. Officials are in the process of designing a new logo for the facility.       BOB HOPE —->

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Face in the Crowd…

May 3rd, 2016

Manny P. here…

   A megalo-maniacal media type transforms the way pockets of our country views a 24-hour news cycle, modern advertising, television-viewing habits, and even, our political system. I’m not referring to the 2016 presidential race. Sixteen years after the celebrated, Citizen Kane, and two decades before the scathing, Network… There was A Face in the Crowd.

Afaceinthecrowdposter   Based on a collection of short stories compiled in 1953, A Face in the Crowd was smartly written by Budd Schulberg. Elia Kazan took on the controversial director’s assignment. And, the cast included Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Anthony Franciosa, and in their screen debuts, Andy Griffith and Lee Remick. To underscore the era of television culture in America, Kazan incorporated cameos by media personalities: Earl Wilson, Sam Levinson, Mike Wallace, John Cameron Swayze, and Walter Winchell. Schulberg and Kazan had previously collaborated on the Oscar-winning, On the Waterfront, which deservedly won eight statuettes.

   Griffith, in a role starkly different from the amiable Sheriff Andy Taylor persona, was quite ferocious in a down-home kind of way. Screenwriter Schulberg (channeling his inner David Mamet) based a significant part of the Lonesome Rhodes character’s facade on Will Rogers, adding a distinctively un-Rogers-like level of amorality and cruelty. Schulberg later explained that he interviewed Will Rogers Jr. during his candidacy for Congress. The younger Rogers reportedly told Schulberg his father socialized with the very establishment types he mocked in his public pronouncements, adding that his father was actually a political reactionary in private life; not the populist he claimed to be.

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WILL ROGERS                                    ARTHUR GODFREY

   Aspects of the Lonesome Rhodes character were also likely inspired by 1940s and 1950s CBS radio-television star, Arthur Godfrey. The scene where Rhodes spoofs his sponsor in Memphis echoes Godfrey’s reputation for kidding his own advertisers. Godfrey claimed he would not advertise products he did not believe in, and routinely ridiculed both the sponsors’ stodgy ad copy, and occasionally, the companies’ executives. The more Godfrey did this, the more sales increased. At one point in the film, Rhodes states he is missing a broadcast, and requests that Godfrey fill in for him.

   The year was 1957 when A Face in the Crowd was released, at the heart of the Cold War. Very real narcissists, who manipulated our fears and put a red scare on the radio and in newspaper columns, were the dominant spin-masters of the day. Walter Winchell and Hedda Hopper ruined the careers of actors, directors, and screenwriters with an anti-Communist diatribe that permeated society.

   To understand 2016 media, politics, and today’s influence of television on a frustrated nation, A Face in the Crowd is a must-see motion picture. It’s celluloid that birthed the screenplays of later generations, such as Network, Broadcast News, and last season’s Trumbo. After viewing the latter film, Kirk Douglas would write:

At 98 years old, I have learned one lesson from history: it very often repeats itself. I hope that TRUMBO will remind all of us that THE BLACKLIST was a terrible time in our country. But, we must learn from it. 

   Let me humbly suggest you screen A Face in the Crowd before you vote in this year’s general election.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Shirley Temple at 47 Cents a Pop…

May 2nd, 2016

Manny P. here…

   One of the most beloved child stars in film history, Shirley Temple Black went from Hollywood starlet to a distinguished diplomat in a life filled with adventure, fame, and service to her country. As a pint-sized actress, she cheered Americans during the last years of the Depression. A talented performer, she was the #1 box office draw for four years in a row, and was awarded the first-ever juvenile Oscar. As a teenager, she appeared in memorable movies opposite Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, and John Wayne. For a time, she was married to actor, John Agar.

   After leaving Hollywood, Black became involved in public service and politics. During the 1960s, she co-founded the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies. Black was appointed a delegate to the United Nations in 1969, and later served as the American Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. The diplomat also went public in her fight against breast cancer.

Stamp   Shirley Temple Black continued to be honored for her achievements in film and diplomacy; most recently at the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she was presented with their Life Achievement Award. When she died in 2014 at the age of 85, she left behind three children, a grandchild, and three great-granddaughters. Perhaps, the finest way of measuring one’s success is how well your fame lasts after you are no longer in the spotlight. When you consider that Temple retired from cinema 64 years ago, and yet, is still a household name, her fame has stood the test of time.

   Since April 18th, you can purchase a Forever Stamp at any post office in the country, immortalizing the most famous Curly Top in cinematic history. Her photo on a piece of mail will surely keep a smile on any recipient’s face. Shirley Temple Black reminds us why we have survived our nation’s darkest days; and why classic Hollywood remains so relevant.

Until next time>                               “never forget”