a century ago - actually 55 1/2 years ago - a bunch of kids at
Syracuse University got together and decided to write a show...The
thread was a simple one - about a bunch of college kids who get
together and decide to write a show - to get the attention of
Hollywood... They called it "White Bucks and Tales"... and
darned if it wasn't a self-fulfilling prophecy... The kids went on to
win a bunch of Emmy Awards for writing, directing and producing some of
the most memorable and groundbreaking television shows in the history of the medium, wrote
musical offerings for perhaps the most famous children's entertainer
ever, and for some of the world's truly iconic recording artists,
ran a major television studio, appeared and was featured in an endless string of Broadway theatrical endeavors and major films with movie megastars like Pacino, Brando and Depp, was the head honcho of one of the most
prestigious film schools in the world, starred in one of the first and longest-running soaps
ever, starred in his own internationally famous and decades-long-running tv series,
became a world-famous innovative textile designer and Home fashions visionary and
wrote directed and/or produced - and continues to produce - a slew of motion pictures for Disney and a few other major studios that weren't, nor will the future ones be too shabby either...
left anything out I'm sure I'll hear from them -- reason being I sent
them all links to this blog a week or so ago and they have begun to
respond in their own singularly creative manner...
I'm pleased to announce that a few have already given me permission to post their septuagenarian musings on this blog...
So stay tuned... This 70's Show is about to begin...
For those of you who were there 55 1/2 years ago, and for those of you who returned to Syracuse U. 50 years later in June of 2003, to watch a bunch of doddering old fools attempt to re-create the excitement and thrill of the original event by singing, and dancing, and cavorting around the stage with total abandon... and for those of you who just wanna listen in... Click on the link below and enjoy my once-upon-a-time partner-in-crime (Hey! ---that rhymes!) Composer/Lyricsist Lan Okun as he gives us a little taste of what started it all - musically - for a lot of us....
NOTE: Bill Persky* was
multi-tasking, decades before the word was invented... Legend has it, that he
was born directing the attending physician’s every move, while simultaneously
wiping the guy’s sweat-filled brow with tissues from a nearby box of Kleenex, re-writing prescriptions for a
dyslexic pharmacist who was passing through, and precociously ogling the nurses...But it wasn’t until he got
out of Syracuse U. that he really started cooking – literally... Here he is, (
Above) during a moment of intense
culinary introspection while he was working the night shift in a Kosher
Vietnamese Restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side that was also populated by show
business types – hence the unusual menu that featured a plate du jour whose only
requirement was that it have - at once - both Asiatic and Hasidic origins. (Bill’s
specialty was Filet of Seoul Sole ala Shecky Greene.) However, by day, he too was
making his mark in show business, and continues to do so, having thus far :
WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED OVER 500
TELEVISION SHOWS INCLUDING: "THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW".... "KATE
& ALLIE", "WHO'S THE BOSS"... CREATED THE SERIES "THAT
GIRL" ... TV SPECIALS FOR MARY TYLER MOORE, BILL COSBY, DICK VAN
DYKE, GOLDIE HAWN AND SID CAESAR. WINNER OF 5 EMMYS AND A WRITER'S GUILD LIFE TIME
When I sent Bill a link to this
site a few weeks ago, he responded by sending me a piece that relates directly
to the site’s title and the title of the original piece I found myself writing,
when a friend suggested I begin posting some stuff online, in a
cyberformat,the name of which reminded
me of the smell of seaweed – or is that a bog. (See Above for title of site and Below for original piece) .Bill’s accompanying note said,
quite simply: “Here’s Mine”... attached to which was the following document
that I offer exactly as he wrote it, apparently just a few years after he too had
joined the ever-growing ranks of “The Septuagenarians.”
New Career at Age 70
There is a spot waiting for
you in America’s fastest growing industry, The Maintenance Business. We are a
non-profit group, of individual contractors, whose primary function is staying
alive; as pain free, stress, guilt and depression free, as age, and the breakdown
of all we believed in is changing around us. Actually we are born into the
business, but after 70 it become a full time job; as your body and mind, your
friends and theirs, your family, pets, home and possessions have all aged right
along with you, and constantly need, repairs, updating, and preservation. It’s
demanding work: the only reward being, if you do it right, you get to do again
tomorrow; and we are the lucky ones. As yet there is no instruction manual, and
the “How To” books are yet to be written, but from on the job training some
wisdom and insight has emerged. The average Maintenance man
is on at least two of the following prescription drugs; a statin for
cholesterol, something for arthritis, high or low blood pressure, back, eyes,
digestion, and prostate or sleep problems. Then there are the commercials for
diseases you’re sure you have, and with every new symptom, you do as told and,
“Ask your doctor”.It adds up to about
10 pills a day: plus vitamins, Metamucil, allergy and digestive aids. Beside
the cost, a major concern is scheduling, since most should be taken with meals.
Fortunately. they have for some replaced deserts, which is good for cholesterol
and diabetes. The rest are spread throughout the day, but are taken with a full
glass of water, making eight pm the end of the safety zone for those with
prostate issues; combined with the need for a sleeping aid, to be taken at
bedtime, you have created, the perfect storm.
If you’re on the job long
enough, chances are you’ll be faced with the breakdown of some equipment, and a
choice to fix, replace, or live with it. The decision rests on the importance
of the part and how long you hope to stay in the business. As a result, you
will get involved with a series of doctors, since they have become so
specialized that there is one for each of your body’s 289 parts. The one stop
GP of your youth is more of a travel agent than a healer, sending you on a
never ending journey to, “the right guy for this”.Maintenance men trade“specialists”,like they used to trade golf pros who fixed
their putting. Doctor visit are a big part of your new career, and learning
some simple rules will help maintain your well being mentally, if not
physically: don’t get upset until you have waited at least one hour after your
appointment time, get them to handle the insurance and try to get samples of
prescription drugs; even if you’re not taking them, you probably have a friend
who is.Exercise is important for
body, mind and spirit and should be practiced daily but realistically.Don’t waste time remembering how good you
used to be (This also pertains to sex).Don’t push or pamper yourself but be sure to get in at least an hour a
day. Walking a mile is sufficient and can usually be achieved on trips to your
various doctors. Diet is a matter of choice, both in what you eat and what you
believe of what you read. There are a dozen articles a week declaring how good
or bad just about everything, including coffee, wine, and chocolate are for
you. If you’ve come this far, eating what you’ve been eating, the chances are
it will carry you the rest of the way.Though it may take a village
to raise a child, three good friends are all that’s needed for your
maintenance. The shared maladies and experiences keep the job in perspective,
and three is the perfect number to help recall the dates, places, and names
that don’t really matter, but cause untold concern, just because you can’t
remember them. Memory is the most fragile of our skills and is carefully
monitored.For those times, when you
wake at 3 am, and need to know the name of a bit player, in a movie you didn’t
even like, and you can’t reach the other two thirds of your recall team , the
alphabet is a handy tool. If you run through it a couple of times, and still
haven’t found the name, you’ll probably fall back to sleep in the process.The current work force still
considers, if only in their own mind, the maintenance of the family as their
primary function. Ours was the last generation responsible for the care and
feeding of our parents and wants no one to responsible for ours, so concerns
and plans for the well being of our spouse, children, and grandchildren, are a
routine part of every day, as is the family pet. You’ve had him since he was a
kitten or pup and is now, in animal years older than you. Chances are he’s also
on medication and you have spent countless hours, and dollars, at the vet but
do whatever it takes to keep him going, and feel that given the chance, he
would do the same for you
The family home is also
showing signs of ware from the life and memories that were created within and
requires the attention of itsown team
of specialist, the plumbers, painters, gardeners and contractors to keep it
going. To fix or sell is an on going discussion.
It's a tough demanding occupation and I have discovered, after 5 years on the job, the most important thing to maintain is a sense of humor
*Co-wrote the book for
WB&T with Don Rosenblit. That’s Don on Bill's
right ---55 ½ years ago. (below)
As a character of Sid Caesar's might say: “Und
now cums der commoicial”
MAY 28, 2009
Players Foundation proudly presents
Waiting For My Life To Start.”
informal evening with Emmy Award winning
director, and producer...
Persky is a 5 time Emmy Award winning writer, director, and producer for
shows as The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl, Sid Caesar, Bill Cosby, and
a start at WNEW radio in the mid-50’s, he moved to California and writing
a variety of shows including: The Steve Allen Show, The Andy Williams
Julie Andrews Show, McHales Navy, and The Joey Bishop Show until he
a home with Carl Reiner on The Dick Van Dyke Show. After 3 years as a
story editor, and two Emmys, Bill and his partner Sam Denoff, followed by
That Girl for Marlo Thomas.
the 1980’s, Bill moved to New York to produce and direct 100 episodes of the
Kate & Allie, winning an Emmy for directing.
us for Bill’s delightful evening of stories, professional and personal.
is an event you won’t want to miss.
Admission: FREE Telephone:
(212) 475-6116 THE
We interrupt Bill P.'s post to bring you this important entry from
Don Hornung... He was the first one from the way back times to respond
to Bill P.'s and my request for more input... and it just so happens
that Don was President of SU's Class of '53... Other than that, fact is
Don needs no introduction to anyone who attended Syracuse University
during the past 60 years... The rest of you can ask around...
You can return to Bill P.'s post, which apparently needs a little
extra time to read through and mull over, right after you get through with
Donny's pithy little statement re: his up's and down and in's and outs
-in other words, his own personal roller coaster ride through his 70's. And it's from a member of our group who will soon be graduating to the
ranks of an Octogenarian - as opposed to an OctoMom:
"Ok Billy, not being a writer, I'll give it a try but you guys did
this for a living. What chance do I have writing about life over 70,
selling "window parts my working life". One thing is I've had more
life over 70 than you as next year I vacate the 70's.
This note comes at a bad time for me in the health area. I had
Hepatitis when I was 25 when I just got out of 'Cuse. I was going with
Elaine Kiebala then and she got it to. I'm the only guy that got
Hepatitis with his girlfriend without getting laid. Breaks a record
that no one wants to challenge.
Now, back to the health thing. Fast forward 50 years, no
ailments, no broken bones, and never a night in the hospital. I
played tennis 4 to 5 days a week, did a roller blade marathon at 70,
bladed 2600 miles in 12 years. Still sounds good, now I'm getting cocky.
A charmed life but it all comes to the reality of life, the body
ages. Since 75, kidney stones, a fun thing, should call it kidney
rocks. While running on the tennis court, smashed into the fence
pole, clobbered 3 tendons, Rotator Cuff surgery, 6 months no tennis.
Then I got PMR, not PMS, but felt like I hear it feels. Poly Myalgia
Rheumatic which makes your joints ache, 2 yrs of Prednisone still
ahead, but it works. In the last 2 weeks, Shingles, tore something in
my hip so MRI next week and maybe surgery, have a cold from going from
Florida 85 temp to this Ct. rain, cold and fog. (why do I keep this
house, Northeast weather sucks)
So what lies ahead, more challenges, more doctors, more ailments.
The alternative is getting in THE BOX. I'm claustrophobic so I'm
sticking around, ain't going there.
I was in my early 60’s when computers became a must have
item and I considered not getting one.
After 70, computer use should be confined to Googling, word
processing, bill paying, email, the occasional YouTube spot, Talking Points
Memo (if you’re liberal) and The Drudge Report (if you’re easily led astray).
MySpace, Facebook or any other place inhabited by teens and young singles is
not a world where we belong.
So when my ex-wife sent an email asking me to be her
Facebook friend, I felt slightly uneasy. Betty and I were married for 5 years
in the 70’s and though no marriage ends happily, ours did amicably, and we have
been casually in contact over the years.Being invited to be Betty’s Facebook friend felt like making some kind
of deeper commitment, especially since I’m happily remarried. Just what is a
Facebook friend? What are my responsibilities? Are there legal implications?
With some trepidation
I opened the page and there was Betty, smiling out at me expectantly, with two
boxes next to her picture, confirm or reject. It seemed like a harsh choice, so
even though I didn’t want to get involved, how do you reject someone who’s
smiling at you and wants to be your friend? I clicked confirm, and moved on to
do a little Googling.
When I got back to my inbox, a few minutes later, there were
20 more requests for my friendship. Most from people who already knew they were
my friends, but apparently that isn’t good enough any more. With each confirm,
the number of new friends expanded, and within an hour I had over 50, some of
whom I didn’t know, but were Facebook friends of my Facebook friends, so I
couldn’t reject them.I didn’t want my
friends to think their friends weren’t good enough for me.
The next time I checked my email, 10 new friends popped up,
to confirm or reject, plus there were 3 messages on my Wall, whatever that was,
and a reminder to check my profile page, which I had no idea existed.Before I could get there, I picked up 4 more
friends and another wall message. On my profile page, I discovered a new world
of choices I had no desire to make: a box with the blank figure of someone who
looked like Martin Short on SNL, with the wispy hair, to be replaced by a
picture of me; questions about my background that I wouldn’t answer if I were
being water boarded; pictures of a dozen people I didn’t recognize who were
“friends in common”, whom I could add as mine, and most irritating of all, a
space to answer the question, “What are you doing right now?” in which I typed,
One on my Wall messages was from my daughter, who I had
spoken to 10 minutes earlier, telling me she was glad I was on Facebook, which
she already told me during our phone conversation, but I guess this made it
official. Two were from friends of hers, also welcoming me, and one from Betty,
apologizing for getting me involved in the whole thing. Out of obligation I
responded to the Wall messages, which of course led to responses to my
response. New friends and messages were pilling up to the point that I was
afraid to leave my computer, concerned it might crash from an overload of
friends and wall messages. Facebook is like the Ebola virus - once you’re
exposed, it consumes your time instead of your flesh.
Since my daughter loved it so much, I checked her page to
see why. She has 800 friends and what she was “doing right now” was “drying my
hair”.Checking what some other friends
were “doing right now”, I came across; “watching a rerun of Seinfeld in my
underwear”;“Eating left over lasagna”;
“looking for a clean pair of sox”; “waiting to get my 2000th
friend”; and finally,“getting a
colonoscopy”, sent from his Blackberry. I immediatelyresponded to “What are you doing right now?”
by typing in “leaving Facebook forever”.
NOTE: We knew her as Teal Schmidt - Drama Student SU Class of '53 ... The TV World knew her as Teal Ames, star of one of the first TV Soaps - "Edge of Night" ... But she's now Teal Dougherty ... and as Teal Dougherty she's doing what she loves to do once more....
This is Teal and me as husband and wife in a sketch Bill Persky and Don Rosenblit wrote for the original production that - to belabor the point - started it all for many of us -- They called it "I Married a Cheerleader":
And here we are 55 1/2 (alright, 56 ) years later in June of 2003 taking a shot at it again... with some changes added to the story line - and our physical presences:
And now ... here's Teal again... in a series of pics torn from the headlines of Chino, California newspapers -- chronicling her triumphant return to her beloved "boards" (that's theater talk for the stage which is generally made of ... boards, I suppose:
And now here's Teal herself telling us about it all ... including why she left show business at the height of her career ... only to return decades later to what she's always loved to do (NOTE: And there's a lovely surprise waiting for us all right after her story ends)...:
I have been reluctant to rise to your invitation to join in on your blog
because, like Persky, I have resisted Face Book and all other forms of
on-line communications except email. Over the years I have become shy of
all intrusions into what I want as a "private life". Guess all the
earlier publicity into my life made me a bit gun shy now. However, since
you press me I will share a bit with you about what my life is like now,
at least in one area.
Unlike some of you I am now 78 years old. Actually I like to think of it
as 78 years young. There is much to be grateful for. I'm here! What a
blessing. And, another thing to be grateful for is that I am doing again
the thing that I originally loved to do....Acting! My daughter Wendy was
the catalyst. One of the persons at a medical office that she sells to
told her that she was directing "Kimberly Akimbo" by Lindsey-Abair and
she was looking for a 70ish actress who could play a 17 year old with
progeria ( an early aging disease). My daughter said "Did you know my
mother used to be a professional actress?" And that started my return to
I have been having the time of my life moving from one production to
another since then. That was a year and a half ago and I have since been
in five more productions. What a hoot! I didn't know how much I missed
acting until I started again. It really has given me a whole new lease
on life. I especially am enjoying meeting and being with so many young
people. One of the problems with aging is that all your friends are too.
A side benefit is the mental exercise of learning the lines each time.
Amazingly I have found that often I am the first person off book before
many of the younger crowd. It may have to do with all the fast
memorization I had to do in the soap opera. Anyway, hope that portends
well for me in the future. The long and the short of it is that I feel
very young at heart right now in spite of the other things that remind me
of my age....some occasional aches and pains, a look in the mirror, yoga
poses that are now out of my repertoire and the desire to "take it easy
of an afternoon".
When looking back on why I originally left, I am sure I did the right
thing for myself and my development as a person on many different
levels....it made me who I am today. My reasons would be colored by who
I am now if I were to enumerate. Who knows if what I say now would
really have been what was going on inside of me then. I am just happy to
be who I am now and glad to be doing what I am doing now. Just hope it
goes on for a long time.
With Love, Teal
Okay kiddies... hang on tight ... we're about to take you back 49 years years and let you see for yourselves what it was like for millions of TV viewers to tune in to see Teal Ames starring in....
well, see for yourselves... just click on the link below ...and make sure your computer sound is turned on :
For those who haven’t been following all this too closely, or
– maybe – have some difficulty remembering what got said a fewpostings back... (It happens... ) “WB&T” stands for “White Bucks and Tales” which – here I go again – got a bunch of
usstarted in our various professions...
for better or for worse.. (Below) Here are the self-admitted culprits captured in this photo
taken moments before – or after – the
plot was hatched -- they can’t seem to get
their stories straight as to the exact time. L-R Don Rosenblit ( the next voice – you’ll hear – actually
telling us about it -- Okay, writing
about it ... Gimme some space here for dramatic license... ) , Bill Persky(from whom you’ve already heard a coupla
times) and - caught in the middle of deciding whether he’s gonna jump ship or not - Jerry Leider* . The three former desperadoes seem to agree thata) they no longer desperade... at least not
that much ... and b) the event took place57 Summers ago.
*Leider is still deciding...
Donald Rosenblit wrote:
Okay - here it is. "I turned 70
and went uphill". Attaching some photo's that you may want to include.
Note photo of Persky, Leider and me on my boat in AC the summer of 1952.
keep the blog going.
Turned 70 and Went Uphill
There was a big gap in my life. I’m talking about a
half-century between writing assignments.The beginning. I don’t recall being
particularly creative during my high school years. The juices didn’t start
flowing until Persky and I headed north out of Atlantic City to SU; roommates,
pledge brothers, writers/performers. We wowed them at fraternity parties.
Then came the summer of 1952 – in Atlantic City - Persky,
Leider and me. “Hey, let’s put on a show.” WB&T was born. Think how that
moment may have affected so many careers? My life was affected when I met the
adorable Lynne “You just can’t be my date” Wightman and after 53 years of
marriage, she’s still adorable.
Because of WB&T there wasn’t a lot of schooling going on
that last semester, but some how we managed to graduate. Bill and I headed to
New York. Got a job at an ad agency that had one large account that was all
over television. I was an agency producer on shows like Steve Allen Tonight
show, Ernie Kovac’s and several early prime time interview shows hosted by
Gloria DeHaven, Ann Rutherford and Monica Lewis. (Remember those names?)
Somehow found time to write some Howdy Doody and Johnny Jupiter scripts. It
wasn’t Dick Van Dyke - but it was my fling with fame.
After two years in New York, came a defining moment in my
life. I headed south to Philadelphia to start an ad agency and Bill went west
to start his amazing career. Now, if I would have turned west, instead of
south……………..I could have been a contender!
I did okay in advertising. My prize account was McDonalds –
five offices, a 24- year run – a rarity in the ad business. Also did my
community thing - president of Marketing Communication Executives, founding
board member of Philly Stroke Council, a 25-year board member of the Philadelphia
Theatre Company – Chairman and President for several terms – now Chairman
Emeritus. In our newly build venue, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, we do really
good work, some of Broadway’s top stars have graced our stage and several
productions went on to New York.
Me 'n Nathan Lane
Won a Tony for our production of Master Class. I also was
co-founder of the Procrastinators’ Club of America. No kidding – over 100,00
members worldwide. (Eight paid dues – they’re out). It’s ironic that I’ve
never been late for an appointment in my life.
Then, we sold the ad business. More tennis, more golf, but,
I missed the action. While vacationing at Tucson’s Canyon Ranch, I heard a
voice in the dinner line. It was my old writing partner….Persky! After many
years, we re-connected and he got me writing again.
For those of you not familiar with my obsession, 30 years
ago I wrote a series of commercials for a dog food client. The protagonist was
a private eye dog and the concept stayed with me through the years. At the ripe
old age of 70, with the help of a web designer and a talented young illustrator
I created a comprehensive website:
There’s lot’s of fun stuff going on. If you want to get
through all the pages, you’ll need most of the day.
Follow the film noir
adventures of Rod Weiler, Private Eye Dog, his secreterrier Beth Barker, and a
whole cast of canines acting human in an Internet town called Collywood. A town
populated with the likes of film mongrel Cecil deBeagle, Dr.Helmutt Hindlick,
two-bit lawyer Flea Baily, Poochie Cockapoo – the Gay Dog, screen star Clara
Bow Wow and bad dogs Lucky Lassieano and Al K. Bone. And performing at Scotties
Bar & Grr-ill, from Liversnaps, England – The Beagles! (Turn your volume
Am I the king of puns or what? Leider took a kids version of the website
to the Disney Channel and they almost bought it. Close, but no cigar. But, I
plotted on and wrote a kid’s chapter book (THE LUNA-TICK) and then my first
screenplay (PLAY DEAD).
DOGLINE: Private Eye
Dog, on his last legs, torn between revenge and redemption, meets femme fatale
and is dragged into a world of sex, greed and murder.
Entered some writing contests. Got a third place (out of
1500 scripts) and made the semi-finals in several others. But couldn’t find a
buyer for a film noir, animated film targeted at an adult audience. But, I had
a blast writing it and isn’t that rewarding for a mid-70 year old guy? Now, I’m
getting close to finishing another screenplay (WAG THE TALE) that has a lot
more commercial appeal. So, who knows?
Fortunately, I’m still young, so plenty of time to become
NOTE: See previous post for initial Leider jumping ship reference) And now, back to our story... Apparently he was out of the country - at the Cannes Film Festival to be specific - promoting his latest epic.... First he sent me this :
"Just back from Cannes - try this re: trailer for my new film (MY NOTE: Click on the link if you wanna see his trailer. )
The purpose of this entry is to draw your attention to the
main character of what looks likeanother
megahit in a continuous string of megahits from a group of film-makers who
appeared on the scene not too long ago. They
call themselves PIXAR. -- the unusual name, of course, referencing the singular
tool which they so expertly use to make their films ... “ the pixel”.
NOTE: For the technophobes among us: “ pixel - n. The basic unit of the composition of
an image on a television screen, computer monitor, or similar display.”
Since they burst on the scene with “TOY STORY” in 1995 , their 10 – or is it 11 films have
all been picture perfect examples of the degree to which computer-animation has
evolved – and continuesto do so.
I haven’t seen any of the PIXAR films – yet. Not one. Not because of the reviews,which have all been excellent, so far. I just don’t go to the movies much
anymore. At the risk of self-aggrandizement,my own little movie which I’ve been starring in for a little more than
75 years now, continues to get more and more interesting - and more physically,
if not psychologically daunting - as it continues to unfold; leaving me little time for movie outings or
too many other diversions from those activities that require my immediate
attention – like eating and sleeping. For
example, keeping this Blog thing going has been fun, but ...
The secret of PIXAR’s success is not only due to the amazing
artistry they have managed to create with what one might initially perceive as
a cold, lifeless electronic dot. Keep
inmind please, that from the outset, they were attempting to
challenge the cell-by-cell , hand-drawn artistry of the Disney films. And who
among us, can’t recall being sucked into the empathetic drama of Disney’s
“PINOCCHIO” when we were kids. In fact, two-time Academy Award winning screenwriter
William Goldman (“BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID” ” and “ALL THE
PRESIDENT’S MEN ” ) attributes the experience he had with one Disney film when he was a child, as being
the single most life-changing eventhe
ever had in a movie theater –watching “BAMBI”!
So what’s the secret?. It's certainly not PIXAR’s inclusion of 3-D in this one which
they call – simply – “UP”.No, these
guys added that little bit of icing on a cake whose most basic ingredient
already guaranteed them a hit. It’s the same basic ingredient that’s behind all
great films – and all greatbooks for
that matter -- the story.
The story. And when dreaming up this particular story – the
word dreaming is used advisedly since this one is apparently a marvelous mixture
of fact and fantasy – they created a different
kind of super-hero as their main character -- One whose only superpowers are his inherent humanity and
What a concept!
Here's an excerpt from the LA Times rave review of
"UP" which begins with a bow to the film’s visual beauty. But then...
"As if all this wasn't enough, "Up" also
generates genuine emotion and it does so by dealing unapologetically with one
of Hollywood's last and most persistent taboos, old people. Instead of a Clint
Eastwood-type senior citizen who is fitter than people half his age, "Up"
gives us a man who uses a walker and can't handle stairs but still manages to be
heroic when it counts. And "Up’s" multi-minute montage of the long
married life of Carl and his wife, Ellie, is a small gem that will stay with
you for a lifetime."
An old guy as a superhero? ... Well, let me tell ya folks,
personally speaking, there have been mornings in my recent memory when it took what
felt like super-psycho-physiological capacities I had no idea I possessed, to just get out of bed. And I’ve never been
mistaken for Clint Eastwood, either.
So what’s my point? When it comes to making movies,
Hollywood folks- even well meaning ones
- never lose sight of the bottom line – which, in all cases, is the buck... the
dinero... the shekel... the yen... Simply put: The guy behind the biggest desk in the studio
will start by askingthe film maker “Who’s
your audience?” . No one in his right
mind is gonna shell out the kind of money it takes to make a film today - especially
a computer-animated “UP”... unless
there’s an audience for it. So sure there’s a kid in the movie, and scary and adorable animals... but a 78
year old guy whose got a problem with walking up the stairs? ( A particularly well
chosen one – from my own personal experience. )
FACT: We are the only nation in the world whose fastest
growing segment of its population is NOT under the age of 25. We participants
in “THIS 70’s SHOW”” don’t have to look too far behind us for real-life
corroboration –withthe Baby Boomer generation continuously increasing
the so-called “Senior Citizen” population in unprecedented numbers.
Note #1: See my original (first) Blog entry for more
information re: the Baby Boomer generation’sunavoidable effect onjust about
every aspect of our culture. -- which includes thatelement that has even become themore than occasional lead-off in nightlyNews reports --Movie Box Office !
those nightly news reports of $60 or $70 million or more scored by some films
in a couple of days, or a weekend... a lot of them fade just as fast.Therefore, making an “UP” can’t be justified
by projected weekend results... no matter how seemingly incredible. In order
for them to be financially viable, profit-making ventures, they have to
havewhat ittakes to survive “the long haul”... and
thatrequires months and yes, even years
of “draw power”.
Who then, might that demographic ( n.A portion of a population, especially considered as consumers) be - who would be drawn in guaranteed ever-increasing numbers over the years, to a movie that has a 78 year
old man as its main character ?I
wasn’t present at that first "UP" meeting between the guy behind the biggest desk in the
studio and PIXAR'screative folks,so I can’t say for sure that they used this
particular word in their pitch as to who that demographicmight include. But there’s a good chance that
it was implied in what they said. And the manner in which it was probablyimplied,is known in the writer’s worldas
Foreshadowing - the noun has
Meaning #1: the act of providing vague advance indications;
So, my Septuagenarian (and Older!) friends... Before
you do anything else today,give
yourselves a pat or two on the back... for being living participants in - if not the direct cause of - movie-superhero history being made. That is, ifyou still can reach your own back with your
own hand.... I’ve been working on it for the past few hours... and it’s looking
like I may just get there before I have to go make dinner ...and after my nap .