Monday, November 30, 2015

Hallmark Christmas Films: One Starry Christmas

Just when you think Hallmark couldn't possibly come up with another idea for a Christmas film, they come up with fifty. Let's guess what this one is about, shall we?

Okay, that guy is carrying a guitar and a hat- he must be a big country star whose car breaks down, forcing him to rely on the blonde woman for accommodations/transportation/whatever. Caught up in the flashy world of showbiz, he ha forgotten the simple pleasures of the holiday, pleasures that this eager young lady plans to re-teach him. Will he take that bus to Nashville or will he stay with her for Christmas? Ah, he's probably going to stay with her.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"What's happening to me? There's still food, but I don't want to eat it. I've become everything I've ever hated."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Rest in Peace, David Canary

Television legend David Canary has passed away at age 77. Best known for his legendary role on All My Children as ruthless businessman Adam Chandler, Mr. Canary had previously earned a spot in television history on Bonanza.

Playing a foreman named Candy who worked on the Ponderosa Ranch, Mr. Canary served two stints on the classic show, leaving after a salary dispute, but returning for the final seasons. His biggest role would come in 1983 on All My Children. His dual role as twins Adam and Stuart Chandler won him five Emmys and many new fans.

Mr. Canary retired in 2009, but returned to All My Children in 2011 and 2013 for short stints. He is survived by his wife of over 30 years and three children.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hallmark Christmas Films: A Cookie Cutter Christmas

Okay, aside from the obvious jokes, what could this film be about? Let's guess! I bet this duo work at a company that makes cookies. While his life is full of predictability and time worn traditions, her free spirit leads her down strange and unknown paths. These two are perfect opposites and they'll never get together- or will they?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse! The Mickey Mouse Club

1980's, programmers at The Disney Channel noticed something strange- one of the most popular shows on their schedule was the 30 year old Mickey Mouse Club and it wasn't just wistful adults watching; their kids were watching in droves as well. If the classic show was such a hit, would a new version be just as successful?

The company was a bit gun shy after a late 1970's version failed to connect with kids. However, times had changed. The company had its own channel now, so a huge flop wouldn't be too big of an embarrassment. Also, the new Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park at Walt Disney World was having problems getting shows to actually film there, so a new Mouse Club show would actually fill a void at the park while also promoting it to viewers. The network gave the green light and soon production began on Disney-MGM's first and ultimately only production- MMC: The New Mickey Mouse Club.

The show took the mainstays of the original show, gave them some 1980's polish and hit the cable airwaves in 1989. It was a phenomenon, quickly becoming the channel's top rated show and introducing America's kids to an impressive number of future superstars.

Future stars included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez, Keri Russell and Ryan Gosling. The show didn't really help in luring more television productions to Orlando, but it did attract viewers. Disney Channel wouldn't have as big a hit until Lizzie McGuire premiered nearly ten years later.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy Life Day!

Leia sings holiday songs to the tune of the Star Wars theme!

Chewbacca has a family!

Yes, it all happened on Life Day! On November 17, 1978 CBS premiered The Star Wars Holiday Special, a two hour WTF moment with little involvement from George Lucas. Produced and written by CBS' staff of variety show veterans, the special landed with a thud back in 1978. Mr. Lucas disavowed the special, bought out CBS and locked the special up in his vault. Other than the promotional materials released in conjunction with the special's premiere and old videocassettes recorded on first generation VCRs, the special was mostly forgotten. When the show was uploaded to the Internet it exploded back into pop culture. Its kitsch value was enjoyed by a new generation, stunned that such a colossal failure came from a monumental success.

About the only thing that came from the special that became part of the Star Wars canon was the animated sequence which featured the legendary character Boba Fett. While Lucasfilm is now more accepting of the special and internal databases refer to the various characters, only the cartoon was accepted from the beginning.

By the end of the special, it was clear to anyone still awake that this special would go down in history for all the wrong reasons. One last question remained, however- why is Chewbacca wearing this weird red robe? Is it some kind of Life Day tradition? The answer is extremely fitting, considering the rest of this debacle. Lucasfilm was not required to provide the costumes or robotics for free. CBS was required to rent the various costumes and suits from George Lucas. Due to the over budget production, the network sought to reduce costs any way they could. By putting Chewbacca into a robe, CBS saved money by only having to rent the head for the conclusion. A fitting conclusion to a disastrous production.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life Day! Ackmena's Cantina

CBS tried the best it could to recreate the lavish sets used in Star Wars for its holiday special, despite not having access to any of the original sets or designs. Since the network had planned to make its special a variety show, it only made sense to try replicating the Mos Eisley Cantina which would allow for a musical number. Enter Ackmena, a woman played by famed actress Beatrice Arthur.

Ackmena runs a cantina in Mos Eisley (though not the same one from the film). During the sequence in the special, a pervy alien (one of many perverts in this special) named Krelman tries to seduce Ackmena and she repels his advances. After performing a song and trying to oust the degenerates populating her bar, Ackmena wraps things up.

Ackmena was a character created specifically for the special. Beatrice Arthur was not familiar with the Star Wars movies, but she was a friend of the gentlemen who wrote the song for this sequence, so she agreed to film this scene. She knew that this was for a variety special on CBS, but didn't know much else. The sequences were all filmed separately, so other than Harvey Korman, Ms. Arthur didn't interact with any of the special's other stars. While the overall special wasn't well received, the cantina sequence was often held up as one of the best parts of the special. Of course, whether the kids watching the special enjoyed the sequence is a matter of debate. Regardless, Ackmena remains one of the more popular lesser known characters in the Star Wars world. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Quote Weekends

"It is indeed true that at times like this R2 and I wish we were more than mechanical beings and we were really alive so we could share your feelings with you."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"Would you look at Lumpy! He's sure grown, huh? And I think his voice is changing!"

-Han Solo

Friday, November 13, 2015

Life Day! A Cavalcade of Bad Choices

So with George Lucas excusing himself from the project, CBS had to assemble a team to produce their Star Wars special. Demonstrating their complete cluelessness as to what this "star film" was about and why it was successful, they hired a crew who were experienced at producing variety shows, including a young Bruce Vilanch. This crew would prove to not be up to the challenge.

"Even I can't believe they hired me!"

Deciding that the cast of the film were not enough, a cast of variety show regulars were brought in. Since somehow it was determined that songs would be needed in a special spawned from a film that had no singing whatsoever, musical pros such as Beatrice Arthur and Diahann Carroll were brought in.

"I think I need to call my manager, but Bruce claims my manager said for me to shut up."

"My character is performing a strip tease for a perverted wookiee? Is this some kind of joke?"

Harvey Korman was brought in to bring humor to the proceedings. Sadly, there wasn't much humor to be had in the special's lifeless script.

"I'll get you for this, Vilanch!"

To make matters worse, Mark Hamill had been in a bad car crash and was hastily put back together and heavily made up to cover his injuries because the show had to go on. He was nearly unrecognizable and reportedly miserable and in pain for most of the filming.

Halloween at Amanda Bearse's House.

George Lucas would later regret not putting any effort or time into this project, but with CBS technically running the show even if he chose to produce it, he probably couldn't have saved things. CBS quite possibly might have driven him insane.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Life Day! The Beginning

When George Lucas tried to scrape together the money he needed to produce his biggest triumph- Star Wars, he shook the bushes for every last penny he could find. One company that was willing to provide Mr. Lucas with cash was CBS, which provided a sizable sum of money in exchange for the option to produce a special based on the film. This sort of arrangement is common in Hollywood; the network locks in a potential special beforehand while the filmmakers get some extra cash to work with. Most of these deals result in nothing, but at least the network makes sure that no matter what happens, the option is available to them. Doubtless CBS didn't expect much from this deal, but at least neither NBC or ABC would get their hands on this property.

Of course, the film was wildly successful, attracting adults and children alike. After it became a sensation, CBS approached Mr. Lucas, option in hand. It was exercising its right to produce a special. Lucas wasn't too happy about this, but a deal was a deal. He left things up to CBS, asking his staff to assist as needed. What followed was such an embarrassment that George Lucas quickly bought out CBS and put this disastrous special deep in his vault, never to be seen again. In hindsight, everyone involved probably should have seen this coming.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

TV Talk 1995

Before the late '80's, daytime talk shows were a man's business. Despite the fact that women made up the bulk of the daytime audience, they seemed to gravitate towards shows featuring men. Dick Cavett, Mike Douglas and Phil Donahue ruled the airwaves. That all changed when Oprah Winfrey came on the scene. While Oprah took the wind out of Phil Donahue's sails, it was a multitude of new shows that eventually took him down. The relative newcomer Ricki Lake, with her raunchy topics and young audience, put the final nail in the Donahue Show's coffin. As Phil Donahue bowed out, it seemed that daytime audiences were now up for grabs. A cavalcade of new shows were introduced, some trying to capture Ricki Lake's success.

Like Ricki Lake, Carnie Wilson was marginally known by viewers and struggled with her weight. She was seen as someone who could bring in young urban women who remembered her stint with the singing group Wilson Phillips and could identify with her. Unfortunately, she could not attract a large enough audience and was quickly cancelled.

So why not try a young woman who had starred in the biggest show of the 1980's? Tempestt Bledsoe, who had grown up before America's eyes on the then recently ended sitcom The Cosby Show, threw her hat into the ring. Ms. Bledsoe's show featured the same sort of topics that Ricki Lake covered- ladies confronting cheating men and the ladies they were cheating with, people confronting others who engaged in activities they disagreed with and so-called "hootchie-mamas". Her television father Bill Cosby (who we now know lived in a glass house) threw stones at the show, expressing his disappointment in her choice of a job. While her target audience probably didn't care about what a cantankerous old man thought about the show, not enough of them tuned in to matter. The show lasted one season.

So if a former singer and the star of a long since faded sitcom wouldn't work out, why not try the star of one of the hottest shows at the time? Beverly Hills, 90210 was still doing quite well and one of its stars had just left the show in order to try something new. Too bad that someone was Gabrielle Carteris. In addition to being the nerdy female lead of the show, Ms. Carteris actually was closer in age to the viewers' parents than she was to the young viewers themselves. Instead of the youthful Ricki Lake, viewers instead felt like they were watching the motherly Sally Jessy Raphael. The show also lasted just one season.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hallmark Christmas Films: "The Christmas Parade"

Continuing our look at Hallmark Christmas Films, let's guess the plot of another one- The Christmas Parade.

They act like they're in the Christmas spirit- they have to! But this pair is anything but! Despite covering the Christmas parade for a fancy TV network, they've truly forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. Through a bonk on the head from a fake reindeer animatronic, he remembers the wonders of Christmas and becomes a grade-A Kris Kringle, but she's still a grade-A Scrooge who just wants the season to be over. Will he melt her heart? Probably!

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Perfectly Cromulent Gift

After The Simpsons conquered Hollywood, celebrities were lining up to lend their voices to the show. Over time, The Simpsons have hosted an enviable cavalcade of stars- three of the four Beatles (Yoko Ono has commented that if John had still been with us he would have certainly made it four out of four) Bette Midler, Elizabeth Taylor, Danny DeVito, the Rolling Stones, and over a hundred more. In addition to the accolades and prestige of appearing on the show, guest stars also get a special gift from the show- a custom made lettermans jacket!

Emblazoned with patches representing several characters from the show, this drool worthy jacket is only produced for the show and is extremely drool-worthy. Certainly every Simpsons fan would welcome this rare item into their collection.

This particular jacket was made for co-creator Sam Simon, who auctioned it off for charity. Mr. Simon passed away, leaving all of his fortune (estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars) to various animal charities.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Petticoat Junction: The Theme Park

Even die hard fans of CBS' classic "hick-com" Petticoat Junction probably don't know that Florida once hosted a Petticoat Junction Theme Park.

The park, which opened in 1963, the same year the show premiered, featured a Cannonball train like in the show, complete with a wooden water tower. (Though Kate's comely daughters were not in attendance.)

The park's Shady Rest Hotel had seen better days, however. It looks like Uncle Joe was severely behind in his maintenance duties.

The park outlasted the show it was based upon, closing for good in 1984. Its trains were salvaged and now reside in a private collection. The park itself was razed to make way for a Wal-Mart.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ten Fake Revelations from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Uncensored Auto-Biography

10. Her adopted brother Albert? Yeah, totally Charles' illegitimate son.
9. That 'Little House'? More like a 'Little Whorehouse'.
8. In actuality, Mary didn't go blind- Albert did. Albert was trying to “make his own entertainment” too many times if you catch our drift…
7. Nellie Oleson was actually quite nice. Laura Ingalls was the real bitch.
6. Charles & Caroline Ingalls? Totally swingers.
5. Doctor Baker was most definitely a 'confirmed bachelor'
4. Nels Oleson sold pictures of saucy women exposing their ankles under the counter of his store.
3. Mr. Edwards was really Charles Ingalls' “longtime companion.”
2. In actuality, the “Harriet Oleson School for the Blind” was really a synagogue and Charles Ingalls was the guy who burned it down because of his Anti-Semitism.
1. Laura Ingalls' sexcapades make Lindsay Lohan look like Mother Teresa.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ten Signs Jerry Springer is Going Soft

10. ‘Two bit hos’ no longer welcome on his show.
  9. He makes his staff tell the transsexual stripper to keep “her” clothes ON.
  8. He throws a chair at the Klansman during “Klanfrontation” but you can tell he really isn’t into it.
  7. He really cares about the feelings of the “zero who got dumped for a hero”.
  6. Television decency protestors stop complaining about his show and start complaining about             Oprah being “out of control by comparison”.
  5. Ozzy Osbourne stops watching the show. (When he figures out the remote control, that is.)
  4. ABC plans “Jerry Springer goes to Disneyland” special.
  3. “Next on Jerry Springer: ‘My name is Maya Angelou and I want to recite my poetry!’”
  2. Jerry Fallwell promotes new DVD called “Jerry Springer: Too Mild For TV!”
  1. “Next on Jerry Springer: ‘My name is Alan Greenspan and I want to discuss monetary policy!’”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hallmark Christmas Films: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas"

The Hallmark Channel is the king of Christmas programming. From early November until the end of December, the network bombards viewers with a never ending slate of formulaic films starring actors and actresses whose careers have seen better days. These films all have similar plots in which career minded adults must be reminded about family and Christmas, a divorcee returns home to his or her hometown and finds love, etc. etc.

Despite having similar storylines, the movies must fill some sort of void; quite possibly they provide something to watch that is sure to not embarrass anyone who might drop by- background television for wrapping gifts or finding something for grandma to watch so she stops asking why one hasn't gotten married and settled down yet. Yet again, we'll look at a few of these movies on Mondays over the next two months, trying to guess their plot lines from their awkward publicity shots.

This week's film- Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas. 

See this top notch staff? They make sure that your presents arrive under the tree for Christmas. Unfortunately, the boss has to put his foot down to make sure things happen on time and his tight ship doesn't make much free time for actually celebrating the holiday. But his staff isn't willing to let him forget the reason for the season! That blonde on the left will do her best to make sure he doesn't forget the Christmas spirit around the office, while the awkward free spirits on the right learn to put aside their differences and bring a Christmas romance to the office. This year, they won't just be delivering presents- they may just be delivering romance as well!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"What's nowhere but everywhere, except for where something is?"