Sunday, December 08, 2013

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...

...Last Thursday's live NBC production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC -- which was actually "live" only for viewers in the Eastern time zone -- was a ratings smash. The show had 18.5 million viewers; the network also had its best ratings with younger viewers since ER ended its 15-season run in 2009. NBC's first live musical in over half a century received mixed reviews, with praise for Underwood's singing and for the overall look of the production, while Underwood's acting didn't fare so well with critics. It's expected more live musicals are in NBC's future, as effective programming in the age of Netflix and Roku. (Monday Update: Yes, NBC says they hope that a live musical will now be an annual event!)

...I was bemused by numerous bloggers and Tweeters who snarked about the audacity of the beloved film THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) being "remade." It's one of my three all-time favorite movies, but this SOUND OF MUSIC production was the equivalent of a theatrical revival, not a movie remake; the show is part of our American musical theater heritage, and it is all to the good that it continues to be performed year after year by new casts for new audiences. In my teen years I was in two different stage productions of it myself.

...That said, I was interested to learn that one of the songs from the original stage production, "An Ordinary Couple," was dropped in favor of the film's "Something Good." I intend to watch and review the production at some point, but since it wasn't live in California I didn't feel a sense of urgency to see it; I'd love to see NBC move further "outside the box" and show the next musical live coast to coast -- how about on a Sunday night? -- perhaps with a cast completely filled with Broadway pros such as Kristin Chenoweth or Idina Menzel. The DVD will be released by NBC on December 17th.

...For the serious classic film fan on your Christmas shopping list: A mug from the Criterion Collection with the classic Criterion logo...or perhaps a TCM tote bag?

...Holiday cheer: This video of Patrick Stewart's Captain Jean-Luc Picard "singing" "Let It Snow" -- or is it "Make It So"? -- quickly went viral. Fun stuff.

...And more holiday cheer: Don't miss the USAF Band's "Christmas flash mob" at the National Air and Space Museum. Beautiful music, and the acoustics were great.

...Finally! Coming to DVD March 25, 2014: HILL STREET BLUES: THE COMPLETE SERIES. The only problems are the set's steep price and the fact that some of us bought the first two seasons when they were released a few years back.

...Greenbriar Picture Shows has an especially interesting post on the new CALL OF THE WILD (1935) Blu-ray, starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young. This is the first release of the complete version of the movie, which was directed by William Wellman. The previous DVD was an edited version, which is what most audiences have seen since the time of the film's initial release. Among other things, Katherine DeMille's part is restored to the movie.

...Here's a good-looking new cookbook, CALLIE'S BISCUITS AND SOUTHERN TRADITIONS by Carrie Morey.

...The latest Western reviewed at Riding the High Country is A DAY OF FURY (1956), starring Dale Robertson, Jock Mahoney, and Mara Corday.

...The latest films announced for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival are restorations of DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), and TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Will McKinley shares more details and background at Cinematically Insane.

...A new CD from TCM: Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO. Years ago I received Rhino's wonderful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at RKO as a gift, but it appears that particular set is no longer in print.

...Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born December 9, 1909. Aurora offers a birthday tribute at Once Upon a Screen.

...Attention Southern Californians: The Miklos Laszlo play PARFUMERIE, which provided the inspiration for THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME, SHE LOVES ME, and YOU'VE GOT MAIL, is currently being performed at the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The cast includes Richard Schiff (THE WEST WING). Charles McNulty has reviewed the production for the Los Angeles Times.

...More theater news for Southern Californians: The Laguna Playhouse production of SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS, originally set to be playing this month with Leslie Caron in the leading role, was postponed to next spring. It will run from April 26th to May 25th, 2014; tickets go on sale February 28th.

...Notable Passings: Actress Sheila Mathews Allen, the widow of producer Irwin Allen, has passed on at the age of 84. In addition to appearing in her husband's productions, she had a recurring role as Miss Fanny, the telephone operator, in a few episodes of THE WALTONS...Jo Ann Savitt Douglas, who has died at age 70, was married to producer Joel Douglas. Savitt was the daughter of band leader Jan Savitt and the daughter-in-law of actor Kirk Douglas...The FAST AND FURIOUS team has put out a very nice tribute video to Paul Walker. And here's a neat story about Walker's random act of anonymous kindness toward an Iraq war veteran and his fiancee.

Have a great week!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for including my article, Laura.

8:09 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

There is never too much Gable. My copy has been ordered for several days. The Sound of Music telecast brings back memories of television in the 1950's with top talent in distinguished properties. An example: The Royal Family of Broadway with Claudette Colbert, Fredric March heading the cast. Or, John Payne, Dorothy McGuire, Richard Carlson, Mary Astor and Dick Foran in The Philadelphia Story. Maureen O'Hara, Michael Rennie in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Greer Garson and Brian Aherne in Reunion in Vienna. The screen was loaded.

8:16 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

By the way, The Philadelphia Story was done a second time to less effect, I thought, with Gig Young and Diana Lynn. Add Helen Hayes and Charles Coburn to The Royal Family with Nancy Olson as the ingénue, Gwen Cavendish. Can you image these projects being consistently revived in our time.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi Laura. I thought last week's Sound of Music was outstanding. Having never seen it on stage, this was a real treat, and the sets were amazing.

When you were in the stage productions, what roles did you play?

10:05 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Great to hear the stage production of Sound of Music was revived for TV.
Though I wish Tv producers were brave enought to do a less well known musical . I'd love to see ON YOUR TOES or ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
That Astaire cd looks very tempting.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Melissa Clark said...

I honestly started out watching NBC's "The Sound of Music" with an open mind, hoping it would be good, but it didn't take long to see that it was going to be bad, mostly as a result of some weak casting. The guy playing the Captain couldn't sing, and Carrie Underwood can't act at all. Her singing voice is no great shakes either, at least not for this kind of thing.

I'd love to see more live musicals on TV, but only if they starred people with the talent to really pull it off. Broadway people, maybe. But then I guess it would be more of a PBS pledge drive kind of program, versus something NBC would want to air. I guess we'll see what they come up with for the future. In the meantime, I'll be watching my DVD of the Julie Andrews movie.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for including my tweet.

Overall, I enjoyed the show and was impressed by it. Yes, Carrie Underwood's acting skills are weak, but I've paid a lot of money for theater tickets and seen weak performances. I give the young woman credit. Not only was it live (come on folks, as good as Julie Andrews was, she could have as many takes as she wanted to get it right. Moreover, she was lip-synching to pre-recorded music. Carrie Underwood was singing dancing, maneuvering around props, and jumping on a bed while singing)-- but also, if it were done in a Broadway theater and she'd made a mistake, 1200 people would have seen it. On TV, billions see it, and then they record it and the mistake is there forever. The lady, with all her inexperience, has guts.

This is not to say I would always go with "celebrity casting". I would prefer to see theatre people doing theatre -- but it was a grand experiment.

Unfortunately, we live in a nation where "reality" TV and sub-par shows are the norm. When the network finally shows something requiring artistic value, the ugly masses are too ignorant to know what it is they're seeing, and too immature to appreciate it.

One commenter complained that there were too many Nazi flags in the concert hall scene. I suspect this person has never heard of, nor seen footage, of the Nuremburg rallies.

Maybe we get so much schlock on TV because we don't deserve any better.

2:43 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Jacqueline T. Lynch I like your post -- but Julie Andrews could actually do it. I say this having seen her in The Boy Friend. My Fair Lady and Camelot. But, your other observations right on.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Barrylane, I'm not suggesting Julie Andrews couldn't perform this show live. She had something like an 8-octive voice and, as you point out, had lots of stage experience. But the Maria everyone knows and loves, and is comparing Carrie Underwood to, was a movie image made under completely controlled circumstances. In theatre, you're working without a net.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Citizen Screen said...

Thank you for the mention, Laura! It's always a thrill and an honor.

I completely agree with the "what's wrong with people" thought regarding The Sound of Music. I don't get it at all. As we'd discussed on twitter, what can be wrong about making the story and music available to new generations or people in general?

Finally, really enjoyed your holiday shopping suggestions. Want everything you mention!


3:58 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Jacqueline T. Lynch. I see your point and it is certainly valid. I don't really agree because these talented and well trained theatre people really can do it just about all the time. They don't have wide screen close ups, but they have far more than craft, star appeal and presence. The things being written here, and other places about Carrie Underwood have never been written about Julie Andrews, or Barbra Streisand, Irene Dunne, Ginger Rogers. I think you know exactly what I mean.

6:41 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Eleanor Parker has died.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I appreciate everyone's comments so much! Right now, just a quick note on a work break to say I hope to have an Eleanor Parker post up late tonight or Tuesday. So very sorry about her passing, she was such a wonderful actress, and what odd timing with SOUND OF MUSIC in the news.

Best wishes,

9:40 PM  

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