, who also composed hits like "I've Got a Name," "Ready to Take a Chance Again" and "Killing Me Softly with His Song."
is the name of his new memoir. You can hear him interviewed by author
. Next week, you can download the two-hour program as a podcast on iTunes or on the
to sing "Making Our Dreams Come True" after hearing her perform during a day at Magic Mountain with his kids. And he has donated the prop 45 rpm record that was in the jukebox at the beginning of early
s episodes to the Smithsonian, which also displays Fonzie's jacket.
HEY, MULLIGAN! WHAT HAPPENED?
Posted on Oct 30 2010 by Greg
made a lot of TV appearances as a guest on other people's shows -- and won acclaim in the Rod Serling
-scripted drama The Comedian
, but like a lot of film stars, he never was able to sustain a long running regular series.
The one with the most potential for longevity was The Mickey Rooney Show - Hey Mulligan!
(having two titles made things confusing right there). It ran one season in 1954-55 on NBC against The Jackie Gleason Show
Each show began with someone shouting "Hey Mulligan!," a title format adopted over a decade later on That Girl.
I don't know if those "Hey Culligan Man!" commercials had any connection or not. Anyway, Rooney played a twentysomething Andy Hardy living with his parents (played by Regis Toomey and Claire Carleton), courting a longtime girlfriend (Carla Balenda) and somehow keeping a job as a network page for a fictional TV network.
The network page idea is a great one for a sitcom, not fully realized again until 30 Rock, though Rooney plays it strictly for broad slapstick. Blake Edwards
wrote many of the episodes, foreshadowing the legendary success he had with another bumbling character, Inspector Clouseau.
Guest cast members included Angie Dickinson
, Guy Williams
(Zorro, Lost in Space
); Alan Reed
); Pat Carroll
(The Little Mermaid
, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella
); and Robert Shayne
(The Adventures of Superman
One of the strongest assets of The Mickey Rooney Show
was the underrated Joey Forman
as his "Ethel Mertz." Forman became a favorite featured player in sitcoms and movies of the '60s (Harry Hoo of Get Smart
among others) and was a very talented comic actor. This series doesn't maximize his talents as much as it could, but he and Rooney have a good chemistry and it would have been nice to see how the series progressed had it lasted.
Why didn't it last? The competition, first of all, but perhaps more than that, it was an incident in which Rooney was rude to the sponsor at a social gathering. He described it very honestly in his autobiography, Life is Too Short
. He felt as if he was being pressed into service as a performer for their social amusement and chose a very off putting way to strike out at the president of the company.
Interesting series, available complete in one DVD set. Interesting book too.
GETTING BACK TO NATURE
Posted on Oct 22 2010 by Greg
Walt Disney's True-Life Adventure series began with Seal Island
, one of many ideas he had that seemed crazy at the time -- a genre of film in which massive amounts of nature footage was edited to tell a story. The series was a long running success, leading to an endless parade of shorts, features and, more than anything else, TV shows featuring animals.
There were also some controversies. Some animal specialists and other critics were not pleased with how these films created an "anthropomorphosis" for the animals, attributing to them thoughts and motivations created through the editing and narration rather than real life events. You know, like reality TV (so does that make Snooki the new Perri?)
However, that was part of the entertainment value of the films, and what made them so memorable. It's to the credit of those who create films either produced or released by Disneynature to acheive a similar quality with a keener eye for nonfiction.
They also have an advantage early nature documentarists never dreamed of -- high-definition photography and fascinating gadgets like remote helicopter-like cameras and deep-sea devices.
These developments and more are put to extremely effective use on both new Disneynature Blu-ray and DVD releases, Disneynature: Oceans
and Crimson Wing-The Mystery of the Flamingo
. These two features each offer spectacular footage never before put on film.
In place of the paternal Winston Hibler
or the folksy Rex Allen
, who did so much of the early Disney nature film narrations, Oceans
is told with a combination of awe and matter-of-fact assertion by Pierce Brosnan
. Listening to him narrate, I couldn't help wondering how many other commercials and films I had heard with his voice, but not realizing it.
Oceans is a dynamic, but fairly straightforward tour through the seas, showcasing the familiar, the strange and of course, the endangered (Disney Channel pop stars Demi Lovato
and Joe Jonas
add their "Friends for Change" note with a song over the end credits that is also a music video).
The bonus features examine the filmmaking techniques and also promote the Disney Corporate environmental initiatives, which might seem a bit self-serving to some but is a largely sincere and highly accomplished effort by those involved who are seriously dedicated to these issues. Disney's a big company and it's a business, but it also brings these issues into the mainstream and allows costly research to take place. And it gets films like this into the mainstream, too.
Of the two films, Crimson Wing
is the most unique. Told in a lyrical style, it's more of an epic poem on film than a documentary. The images are often surprisingly abstract -- like visual puzzles that disorient the eye before revealing what they are. In one sequence, for example, the flamingos glide over a lake surface so calm you can't tell where the birds are until the ripples appear.
The narrator of Crimson Wing
is Mariella Frostrup
, well-known to BBC watchers and listeners. To me, her narrator conjured up memories of the original Living Seas film at Epcot
("And it rained, and rained and rained...the deluge"). The whole film has that quality. So if you're a vintage Epcot fan, you'll get a kick out of Crimson Wing
in a way that the filmmakers never intended, I'm sure.Oceans
and Crimson Wing
both take the viewer out of the everyday and to a larger plane of existence, a bigger picture, as it were, of our existence and that of the creatures around us. It can't hurt to be reminded that there's a lot more to the world.
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