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Posted on Dec 27 2007 by Greg
Click here for looks at Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Underdog, DuckTales, Return to Neverland and more.

Happy Neeew Yearrr!
Posted on Dec 27 2007 by Greg
The nice thing about RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR is that it's a Rankin/Bass special you can watch after Christmas because it's about New Year's.

Rudolph (voiced by Billie Richard) and
Father Time (voiced by Red Skelton)

Thanks to Red Skelton's voice work on the show, it's very difficult for me to say "Happy New Year" without imitating his distinctive way of pronouncing "neeew yearrr." Maybe it's just me.

Anyway, this special has a fine score by Johnny Marks, who wrote the original "Rudolph" song, and a rare latter-day vocal performance by the wonderful Harold Peary, who was a major radio star on the long-running Great Gildersleeve sitcom. (Peary's Big Ben whale character also shows up in the Rankin/Bass feature Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July.)

Gildersleeve was one of the first spinoffs, his character gaining popluarity on Fibber McGee and Molly, but Peary's own show was different in its day because each show told a comical story instead of being a series of funny encounters, songs and sketches. It was more like a contemporary sitcom and it even spawned a handful of theatrical films.

Harold Peary

According to Tim Hollis, Peary did not leave the Gildersleeve show because he "tired of the role," as is reported elsewhere. Some accounts say he left for CBS when the infamous "talent raids" also sent Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen and other stars from NBC. According to Tim, it was Peary's agent that negotiated a CBS deal for him but messed things up because Gildersleeve sponsor Kraft Foods was tied to NBC, so he was replaced by the similar-sounding and similar-looking Willard Waterman (who also played Gildy on TV). Waterman did tons of radio and TV roles, including Mr. Quigley on Dennis the Menace.

Marylee Robb, Willard Waterman and Walter Tetley
(who also voiced "Sherman" in the Mr. Peabody cartoons.

Peary did a short-lived Gildersleeve clone radio series for CBS called Honest Harold that even featured members of his earlier cast. The story varies from source to source, but that's the way Tim heard it from Willard Waterman himself.

Anyway, if you watch Rudolph's Shiny New Year, be sure to listen for Peary's signature "hee-hee-hee-hee-huuwww" laugh, which Waterman did not do when he took over the Gildersleeve role.

The Story Behind the Musical NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Posted on Dec 20 2007 by Greg
Of course, the original "Night Before Christmas" poem was written by Clement C. Moore, but it's been set to music several times. Perhaps the most famous musical version is the one performed every year at Walt Disney World Resort in the stage show, "Mickey's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

This version was written ca. 1942 by Hollywood vocal director Ken Darby (The Wizard of Oz, Song of the South, Finian's Rainbow) and introduced as an annual tradition on the long-running NBC radio comedy, Fibber McGee and Molly.

Fibber & Molly (Jim & Marian Jordan)  released it on records (told by "Teeny") and it was subsequently recorded by Fred Waring, the Harry Simeone Chorale and many others.

In 1968, Playhouse Pictures in Hollywood created a 30-minute special with this version, with The Norman Luboff Choir, actor Olan Soule as Moore and character design by Hanna-Barbera veteran Iwao Takamoto. It was syndicated in the early 70s.

A soundtrack album of the special was sold at Toys 'R Us stores ini the 1980s and can be found occasionally on eBay. The special sometimes also shows up, but unfortunately on lower quality VHS tapes.

She's Truly, Truly Scrumptious!
Posted on Dec 10 2007 by Greg

I can die happy now because I got to briefly meet the luminous Sally Ann Howes and she graciously signed my Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Gift of the Magi LP's. I told her that no one could sing "scrumptious as the breeze across the baaayy!" like her. She seemed pleased.

Ms. Howes is appearing as Henry Higgins' mum in the current touring company of My Fair Lady with Christopher Cazenove and (depending on the performance) Lisa McKee, who played Mary Poppins in London.

See the spectacular THAT'S HOW YOU KNOW
Posted on Nov 17 2007 by Greg

Click "That's How You Know" on this site for the show-stopper from Enchanted in which Giselle gets everyone in Central Park to sing and dance along with her. Look for the visual reference to Beauty and the Beast (which was a visual reference to The Sound of Music).

Posted on Nov 15 2007 by Greg
One of the many highlights of the new Disney movie Enchanted is the "Happy Working Song," which brilliantly gives the quintessential Disney sequence a very unique twist. I don't want to give any more away if you haven't seen the scene yet -- visit the official site here, click "Music Videos" and see Amy Adams introduce the song in its entirety.

You can also see click "Film Clips" and see a funny scene between James Marsden as Prince Edward, Timothy Spall (who Harry Potter fans will immediately recognize) playing Nathaniel and featuring Pip the frantically miming squirrel.














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