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DVD REVIEW: The Best of The Danny Kaye Show
Blog, Reviews, TV, People, Music, Books
Posted on Oct 14 2014 by Greg


THE DANNY KAYE SHOW isn't good. THE DANNY KAYE SHOW is great. It has a firm place in classic TV comedy/variety between YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW.

And it is Burnett Show that bears such a close kinship with the Kaye show, both of which were taped at Television City at CBS in Hollywood, likely on the same stage. Kaye's show ended just as Burnett's began. And both featured Harvey Korman.

So much of this is priceless treasure: Rod Serling sending up his own TWILIGHT ZONE series, which was on the air at the time; Art Carney is top form playing comedy against Kaye--as does the underappreciated Alan Young--creating a chemistry not found anywhere else.

Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Michele Lee, Nana Mouskori, John Gary and more. These are both revered names and also names that should be celebrated today. You'll see why.

And you get more of the purest form of Danny Kaye's talent, a quality never fully realized on the movie screen. It's simply Kaye sitting down and speaking to the home and studio audience as if each were an individual to him. The elegance of his hand gestures, the intent eye contact, the melodious voice. Like the image of Hans Christian Andersen he portrayed, Kaye was more than anything a true storyteller.

You'll also want to look into the other two fine Kaye DVD collections:
Christmas with Danny Kaye
The Best of Danny Kaye - The Television Years

and David Koenig's superb book: Danny Kaye, King of Jesters, for a full account of all his TV episodes, films and shows.



GUESTS
• Gene Kelly
• Rod Serling
• Liza Minnelli
• Michele Lee
• Art Carney
• Alan Young
• Jackie Cooper
• Harry Belafonte
• Ella Fitzgerald
• Nana Mouskouri
• John Gary
• Buddy Greco
• Jack Benny (cameo)
• Sergio Mendes and the Brasil '66

REGULARS include: Harvey Korman, Joyce Van Patten, Jackie Joseph, The Clinger Sisters, Tony Charmoli Dancers, The Earl Brown Singers, Paul Weston and His Orchestra

WRITERS: Mel Tolkin, Paul Mazursky, Larry Tucker, Saul Ilson Ernest Chambers Herb Baker, Sheldon Keller, Billy Barnes

SONGS

DANNY KAYE
• Consider Yourself
• You Make Me Feel So Young
• I Like the Likes of You
• Do You Ever Think of Me
• Pavlova
• Pennies from Heaven
• A Fellow Needs a Girl

DANNY KAYE AND GUEST STARS
• It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• Mood Indigo (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• We Like Each Other (with Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Greco)
• By Myself (with Michele Lee)
• Just an Honest Mistake (with Alan Young and John Gary)
• Let's Talk it Over (with Liza Minnelli)
• Ballin' the Jack (with Gene Kelly)
• Who Will Buy? (with Harry Belafonte)
• Mama Look at Bubu
• Hava Nagila (with Harry Belafonte)
• Opa Ni Na Nai (with Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri)
• You'll Never Get Away (with Michele Lee)
• Side by Side (with The Clinger Sisters)
• Cherry Pies Ought to Be You (with Lovelady Powell)
• Medley (with Gene Kelly): I Could Write a Book / New York,
  New York / Long Ago and Far Away / 'S Wonderful / Singin' in
  the Rain

ELLA FITZGERALD
• Moment of Truth
• Body and Soul

HARRY BELAFONTE
• Raindrops
• Walk On

LIZA MINNELLI
• Maybe This Time
• For Every Man There's a Woman

NANA MOUSKOURI
• Telalima

MICHELE LEE
• I Could Write a Book

JOHN GARY
• The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
• Hawaiian Wedding Song

BUDDY GRECO
• Charade
• Satin Doll

LOVELADY POWELL
• Bye Bye Blackbird

JOE & EDDIE
• Children, Go Where I Send Thee

SERGIO MENDES AND THE BRASIL '66
• Goin' Out of My Head







BOOK REVIEWS: Over There & Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man
Blog, Reviews, Movies, People, Books
Posted on Sep 23 2014 by Greg


A new Disney Press series and a much-anticipated celebration of a Disney giant are on the way to bookshelves.

 

The new series allows the artists of Pixar and Disney to stretch beyond animation and express their creative visions through picture book art and text. The first was No Slurping, No Burping by Lorelay Bove (who worked on Wreck It Ralph, Winnie the Pooh the upcoming Big Hero 6, and is the first designer to create new artwork for Walt Disney Records’ Legacy Collection CD albums.

  

For the second book in the series, Pixar Production Designer created Over There, a gentle children’s fable about a wistful little shrew named Shredder. This simple story, carefully laid out on each page spread, takes Shredder on a small quest to find one thing and somehow finding another.



 

With the quiet power of its peaceful forest settings and snuggly places for the characters to nestle, this is just the sort of story for bedtime, rainy days or those times when things just need to settle down. My kids are in their teens, but they still occasionally yearn for the comfort of story time. Pilcher himself takes part in readings of his book to groups of youngsters in public storytime events.

 

The story is very cute (not in a treacly way), but the artwork is over the top great, reminiscent of the classic Big Golden Books illustrated by such Disney artists as Al Dempster and Gustav Tenggren. It’s a grand tradition that will hopefully continue with further releases.



 Marc Davis with the voice of Sleeping Beauty, Mary Costa.


The other new Disney Press release shines a well-deserved light on Disney Legend Marc Davis’ career, which goes all the way back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He animated Alice, Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Maleficent and Cruella DeVil. He designed characters for Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise and the fondly remembered America Sings attractions. He was an accomplished painter and a caring, unforgettable teacher.

 

Marc dreamed up enough major works to fill several lifetimes. Yet he was definitely not one of those “look at me, I’m so great, blah, blah, blah” kind of people. He was devoted to his wife, Alice (also a Disney Legend as a major contributor to Disney history as costume designer for many attractions), dedicated to Disney art and imagination, and, across the board, remembered as a genial, unassuming fellow.

 

His admirers include some of the most accomplished individuals in the art and entertainment industry, who along with many of us, were waiting a long time for such a magnificent book as Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man to come along. This book is their opportunity to reminisce about Marc for us, and our opportunity to look for hours at each and every vivid image in this new book—many of which seem to jump off the page.

 

Imagineering and Disney Legend Marty Sklar expresses his awe at Marc’s work for Disney Parks. Peter Docter, Oscar-winning director of Disney•Pixar’s Up and Monsters, Inc. presents an extensive portfolio of Marc’s concept art and pencil drawings. Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King producer Don Hahn elaborates on Marc’s fine art. Veteran Disney animator and historian Andreas Deja takes us on a tour of Marc’s animal studies. Glen Keane, acclaimed animator of Ariel, the Beast, Tarzan, Rapunzel, Aladdin and others, guides us through Marc’s vast collection of sketchbooks.

 

And there’s so much more. Walt Disney Family Museum Creative Consultant and historian Paula Sigman-Lowery explains Marc’s fascination with the art and people of New Guinea. Author/filmmaker Mindy Johnson helps us get acquainted with the wondrous Alice Davis. Renowned animation historian and critic Charles Solomon presents a look at the unproduced animated feature, Chanticleer. Award-winning animation director Bob Kurtz recalls Marc’s skill as a teacher. There are even selections from Marc’s unpublished book on how humans and animals move (Parents’ alert: some tasteful nudes in this section.)


 

Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man is already on sale at select Disney Parks shops and through Merchandise Guest Services at 1-877-560-6477). It goes on sale nationwide October 7. Steve Pilcher’s Over There is available now.








BOOK REVIEW: "One More Time" by B.J. Novak
Blog, Books
Posted on Jul 15 2014 by Greg


Lots of critics are comparing B.J. Novak's writing to Steve Martin and David Sedaris and other contemporaries. I see a lot of James Thurber and especially Max Shulman. Maybe it's just me.

All I know is that this book is never-lagging, always entertainment funhouse led by a writer who's been staying very quiet and just paying attention to what's going on. And he's been doing this since he was a kid.

While there are adult moments, to be sure, in One More Thing, there's is also a lot of kid's eye-view stuff with the same inverted logic and gotchas you find in the other stories. Even the adult stuff has a child's fresh perspective on life and people. Don't let them beat it out of you, B.J. (Or may I call you "Beej," like Hawkeye on M*A*S*H?) There is outrage, but it's not bitter. The sharp digs are done with more of a headshake than a vitroilic spew.

Insight after insight, page after page. And when he seems to getting a little too close to an edge too far, he knows just how far to lean, making you wonder about what he's up to, then turns it around so you say, "OHHHH!" the way Edith Bunker used to when she finally "got" something.

Besides the cereal box story, which suggests Jean Shepard and Jerry Mathers, I LOVED the story about heaven. How did "Beej" know that's exactly the way heaven is? In addition to the free concerts, look for "I Love Lucy" live with the original cast. That's all I'm saying. Oh, and wait until you read "Wikipedia Brown!"

Worth reading and re-reading. I actually read the Dan Fogelberg story and "If I Had a Nickel" to my wife aloud. Most of the stories are best when shared. When's the last time you could say THAT about a book?



Now that I've read Novak's book, I'm in the middle of the autobiography of the writer he portrayed in "Saving Mr. Banks," Robert B. Sherman, in a book called "Moose." Very different books, but connected in a very unusual way.

The constable's responstable.







The next best thing to being there for Blair
Blog, Movies, People, Books
Posted on May 21 2014 by Greg


Cinderella, Alice, Peter Pan, Johnny Appleseed, The Three Caballeros…it’s a small world...



Only a few of the iconic Disney productions touched by the magic brush of painter, stylist, designer and conceptual innovator Mary Blair.



This multi-story mosaic mural still graces Disney's Contemporary Resort in Florida...



and her work extends into children's books (including the still-in-print Little Golden Book "I Can Fly" (below), home furnishings, advertising -- she even did the color design for the movie version of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.



The Walt Disney Family Museum is presenting a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime exhibit of her amazing work now through September 7.




If you have not been to this fabulous (genuinely) interactive museum yet, this is your excuse to finally experience it. But even if you cannot make it there, curator John Canemaker has lovingly assembled a treasure trove of these art pieces in a new book with the same name as the exhibit: Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair.



This new book goes to great lengths to build upon the foundation Canemaker established with his earlier book, The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, which has just been reissued in a new edition. There is so much great art that you’ll be surprised to discover how little the two books overlap. In other words, yes, it’s worth having both volumes.




Mary Blair is also part of the august group of artists represented in Charles Solomon’s new book, The Art of the Disney Golden Books. Inside, you’ll see images of the worlds of Disney that you may have entered yourself through these beloved books. I know I spent hours “living” inside them.



So did animation giants such as Brave co-director Brenda Chapman, Toy Story art director Ralph Eggleston, Monsters, Inc. and Up director Pete Docter, Beauty and the Beast animator Glen Keane and Lilo and Stitch director Chris Sanders, as well as master illustrators Peter Emslie and Russell Schroeder. All of them and more offer personal and professional insights into why these books mean so much to all of us.



Like Disney Theme Parks, movies and music, you didn’t just stare passively at Disney Golden Books—you entered them and lived in their world. And you can do it now in the new book, The Art of Disney Golden Books.



“I can’t tell you how many times Mary Blair comes up in discussions, or an illustration somebody saw in a Golden Book,” says Up Producer Jonas Rivera in this book. “They really are a source of a lot of the color, inspiration and storytelling here at Pixar.”


[http://www.waltdisney.org/ ]

[http://www.waltdisney.org/mary-blair]

 








BOOK REVIEW: "Creativity, Inc." by Disney/Pixar's Ed Catmull
Blog, Movies, People, Books
Posted on Apr 17 2014 by Greg


For Pixar and Disney fans, this book is required reading because it details the evolution of Pixar, all the way to the merger with Disney -- with most of the bumps encountered on the journey.

If you wonder "How does Pixar do it?" with an unbroken record of box office hits and the pinnacle of CG animation excellence, Ed Catmull details the achievements and challenges. One challenge was actually the many big achievements.

Catmull strikes me as the "Roy Disney" or "Frank Wells" of the trio of John Lasseter, the late Steve Jobs and himself. Though he is accessible and far from a shrinking violet, he stays mostly in the background as the "business guy" and lets the people of the studio take center stage.

The hard part of reading this book -- and marveling at how Pixar combined innovative management techniques with some classic organizational tenets (even if Catmull doesn't know they existed before) to constantly address issues that never go away -- is wondering just how plausible it is to expect in other work environments.

It has to come from the top down. Pixar evolved its own heritage, which was somewhat in line with Walt Disney, but markedly different in several ways -- especially in that they don't want Pixar to fizzle with the depature/loss of an individual visionary.

But can your workplace allow a "Brain Trust" in which all could speak freely about each other's work without deference to job titles? Can the bulldozers in your group accept exclusion, as Jobs did, because they would throw the free flowing ideas off by their overpowering ways? Can human resources deal with grey areas between departments? Can one or more oppressive and demoralizing "layers" of approval (such as Disney's aptly-named "overseers," be eliminated?

You can read between the lines as Catmull gingerly explains how some could not align with their culture and thus departed. He also admits mistakes, including the fact that he cannot really know what's going on without being accessible to people beyond the syncophants, and how he is vigilant about noticing and listening rather than hiding behind pomp, circumstance and office space.



Some of the book travels into Oprah's book club "self actualization" territory with bromides and visualization exercises that are just as lovely as can be. However, I have seen this sort of thing before. The danger is if organizations use only the superficial material as a smokescreen for pretending to "embrace Pixar culture" at some blue sky meeting, give their version a cute name and launch it with "pep rallies," bells and whistles, -- and yet the organization goes back to where it was before, who is kidding who? You can't just check organizational change off a list and walk off, satisfied that it's over with.

Again, no matter what Catmull and his exceptional, insightful solutions may have done for Pixar, it must be noted that he is the head of the company. One of the most illuminating sections of the book deals with Catmull and the Pixar brass struggling through the muck and mire of a mismanaged Disney Animation. The truth is that, when a flawed administration takes command, even when it seems to have gone away, it still leaves a bathtub ring of like-minded people and ideas that sustain the previous mindset. Catmull and Company were able to cut through to the sincere people and get to the truth, even when -- I am certain -- it was cautiously guarded from them.

But could he have changed the culture if he wasn't the boss? He points out that there was a small faction already at Disney that was struggling to improve the system and creativity -- the "Story Trust." These creavtive people operated "under the radar" but could not make a difference until a change at the top blew the mucus out, allowing them to breathe freely in the sunshine. Small groups like this are everywhere. It's the smart leader that is secure enough to trust the person who isn't necessarily saying what he/she want to hear, but seeks out and trusts those who have true, constructive, caring passion for making a work environment the best it can be.

If you can do that, to paraphrase Kipling, then you've become a success, my friends.








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