It seems that media-based programs and anniversary dates tend to go hand in hand. With the recent idea of remaking/revising/rebooting television series from the not-so-recent past, to the re-releasing of feature films either by way of home video or through theater screenings, it’s interesting to note that these revisits of movies and TV shows from another era are done just because the calendar year will note that it’s been a milestone year since the title in question first made its mark to the public and to its media universe.
This summer provides a number of movie revival screenings. Warner Bros. is currently hosting in limited numbers, theatrical screenings of MGM’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for its 50th anniversary. The Motion Picture Academy also known as AMPAS, is arranging a series of special one-time only screening of movies that all are making their milestone anniversary. On July 23rd, they will present the original version of the movie Hairspray for its 30th anniversary. On August 15th, the movie Grease will be run for its 40th anniversary. A week later on the 22nd, The Joy Luck Club will be honored for its 25th, and so on. (For more details on these upcoming AMPAS screenings, visit the Motion Picture Academy’s web site at http://www.oscars.org)
Even TV shows have been sited for its noted dates of creation as well. The well received revival of the series Roseanne has been noted that its been thirty years since that program first made its mark. Ditto for the anticipated revisit of Murphy Brown, also celebrating its 30th. Roseanne, currently airs on ABC and has been already renewed for the next reason. Murphy Brown will air on CBS in the fall. Check your local listings for day and time, as well as details for streaming availability.
Granted, it’s always nice to recall something or another on its noted date of creation, especially if that date falls on a “round” number. As to the movie titles that AMPAS is paying tribute, each one falls on a noted time point. The Joy Luck Club is at its silver anniversary. Hairspray is hitting 30, and so on. Although those titles, as well as the TV series are also hitting their big 3-0, are well known and are linked as fan favorites. Not every movie or TV show that’s been in existence for some time is worth a celebration. This is just because, though some titles may have a small and perhaps loyal cult following to a humble few, these movies and/or TV shows are amusing for what they are (or were), but not enough to hold a big celebration. It’s not likely for such institutions as AMPAS would pay tribute to the 25th anniversary release of Super Mario Brothers, the 30th anniversary of Mac and Me, or even the 50th anniversary of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, although that latter title is a “guilty-pleasure” movie of this writer.
And since we are on the subject of secret movie favorites, yours truly has a desire to make an anniversary of sorts for a “good-bad” movie that was released around this time of year: The Flintstones.
On May 27th, 1994, Universal Studios, then owned by the electronics firm Matsushita (better known as Panasonic), kicked off their summer movie season with this big and rather brassy live action rendering of the classic TV cartoon from Hanna-Barbara Studios. John Goodman, who was still appearing in Roseanne, played Fred Flintstone. Rick Moranis, another comic performer from TV land, was cast as Barney Rubble, Fred’s neighbor and best buddy. Elizabeth Perkins, who wasn’t known for being an actress of comedy, although she did appear in previous productions that were humorous in nature, played Wilma Flintstone, Fred’s wife. And Rosie O’Donnell, who had a track record for her stand-up comedy as well as appearing in other TV programs and movies usually playing a character that was of comic relief, played Betty Rubble, Barney’s spouse. These four carried the movie that had a plot for what it was, where Fred receives a promotion at the rock quarry, only to face up with the challenges he eventually meets.
The movie also featured an amusing supporting cast, including Kyle MacLachlan, Halle Berry, and Liz Taylor as Pearl Slaghoople, Wilma’s mother and Fred’s mother-in-law. And with movies released in the 1990’s and 2000s, if featured cameo appearances with those connected to the original source. The Flintstones cartoon creators, Joe Hanna and Bill Barbara has a brief appearance, as well as Jean Vander Pyl, a one-time radio actresses and did voice work for HB, including the vocals for Wilma in various versions of the Flintstone series of the 1960’s to its many revivals in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.
This feature was heavily promoted through the media sources that were available at the time, from billboards, bus shelters posters, ads on busses, and through heavy commercial spots on TV. KISS-FM, the big top-40 station in Los Angeles, did plenty of promotions as well, from giving away movie tickets on-air, to playing selected tunes extracted from the Flintstones movie soundtrack album as performed by (among other artists) the 1980’s-era new wave group The B-52‘s–billed as the “BC-52’s”.
The reviews from the critics on hand were mixed. The screenplay was credited to three screenwriters-Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein, and Steven E. de Souza, although it was rewritten dozens of times by as many as thirty different writers! However, folks flocked on to their local multiplexes to take advantage of all of the hype this feature generated. And according to stats found through the website http://www.BoxOfficeMojo.com (affiliated with the ever lovin’ IMDB.com, both owned and operated by Amazon), it did gross some 130 million dollars in North America riding on a 46 million dollar production budget. This amount was decent for a movie of this nature during the period when summer movies were rather epic in quality in addition to being loud and brassy. But considering its only video competition available at the time was home video where new releases took an average from four to six months to arrive on videotape–VHS mostly, although Beta and 12” laserdiscs were alternatives. The pay services available through cable TV such as HBO, Showtime, and the like still made emphasis on its movie line up than its rather limited original programming, even though it take a year for these features to arrive from theatrical release to the premium TV landscape.
This writer did have an opportunity to see this title at a press screening the Tuesday before its release date at the DGA theater on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. Yours truly found the movie rather silly but amusing. Its soundtrack, as received by this same reporter on an audio cassette from MCA Records, Universal Studio’s record label, had songs that were rather bad. In fact, some tunes were downright awful! (No inessential music score tracks were made available on the soundtrack album.) However, movies and music still were programmed as a hand-in-hand notion at the time, and perhaps the real reason for a commercial soundtrack album to exist in the first place.
Oh, yes! The movie was co-produced by Amblin Entertainment, Steven Spielberg’s production company. Although Stevie himself wasn’t directly involved with this movie outside of being an “executive producer”, the movie titles and advertising materials boasted the line “Steven Speilrock Presents..”, letting those movie goers know that Steve was loosely connected with this film as his name was still was connected with crowd pleasing feature films.
So why is this writer making commentary about this movie, even when this year makes its 24th anniversary rather than its 25th? No real reason outside of the fact that this same writer recalls when summer movies were still silly yet amusing. Between middle May through late August, the major studios based in “Hollywood” would offer feature films that were created for sheer entertainment at big budgets and perhaps bigger profits. Granted, not every title that catered to this aspects were popular in terms of being audience pleasers, but they were there for the taking, or at least for the price of admission!
During that season, such titles made available to the multiplexes consisted of (among many others), Paramount’s Beverly Hills Cop III, 20th Century Fox’s Speed, Columbia’s (Sony Studios) City Slickers II: The Legion of Curly’s Gold, Warner Bros. Maverick, and New Line’s The Mask, starring Jim Carry and a load of special effects! Perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser of them all came from the Walt Disney Company with its animated title The Lion King.
Other movies found on the big screen ranged from action laden True Lies (Fox) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paramount’s Forrest Gump, featuring another movie star favorite, Tom Hanks playing the title character that also contains a lot of special effects, to Universal’s attempt to being back The Shadow to 1990’s audiences with moderate success. All were part of the movie scene in the summer of ’94.
Come next year, every one of these for noted movies will commemorate their silver anniversary. It isn’t necessarily known if there will be any revival screenings of these titles on a large scale. Whatever the case, it’s a proven fact that movies are suppose to be entertaining! As long as folks are willing to plunk down their hard earned money, they will indeed see you at the movies!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Impro Theatre closes out their ten month residency at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage complex with TENNESSEE WILLIAMS UNSCRIPTED, a program where this theater troupe will create an improvised play depicted in the style of playwright Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III.
In this performance, a series of players from Impro Theater will create a brand new work that features characters, dialogue, plot points, and other notions that would (and could) be found in a stage piece as written by Williams. The only elements that this theatre company has to create this play is in the form of a few vague suggestions from the theater audience, such as a suggestion of an item that can be a family heirloom (“a silver candlestick”) or an article of clothing (“a fur coat”). From there, the play begins using the said suggestions (or not) and continues with the cast working by the seat of their pants, making up everything as they go along. Each performance will instantly become a world premier as well as a closing night performance. In other words, no two performances are alike! Every show will be totally different outside of its theme and the repertory cast performing it all.
Impro Theater previously presented this Tennessee Williams Unscripted program at The Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake (now known as The Gary Marshall Theatre) in 2016 to rave reviews. (ALOL’s review can be found in Vol. 21-No. 26). This will be an opportunity to see for the first (and final) time, a “brand new” Tennessee Williams play that never existed! And yes, a lot of what will be seen will contain plenty of comical overtones as nobody knows what’s going to happen next, and one can mint their julep to that!
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS UNSCRIPTED will be presented by Impro Theatre and performs at The Broad Stage (The Edye theater space), 1310 11th Street (at Santa Monica Blvd.), Santa Monica. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday, June 15th and 16th at 8:00 PM, and Sunday June 17th at 2:00 PM.
For more information on TWU as well as other programs presented at The Broad Stage, visit the website at https://www.TheBroadStage.org
Visit Impro Theatre online at http://www.ImproTheatre.com
The Angel City Chorale presents ONE WORLD MANY VOICES II, the concert for the early Summer season featuring music and voices that speak (or sing) for the remote parts of the world, performing at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, located within the Koreatown section of Los Angeles.
The concert will consist of a 160 voice chorale of various tones and octaves performing selections that gives musical speech for the nations and sectors of the civilized world. Countries represented ranges from such nations as Ireland, Mexico, Russia, Nepal, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, and points in between.
Sue Fink, artistic director of the ACC, will conduct the vocal troupe backed by a thirty-plus piece orchestra performing legacy and contemporary world music. Such selections presented among others, will be Annie Lennox’ A Thousand Beautiful Things, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Samba Do Aviao, and a new work by friend of the ACC, the Grammy winning composer Christopher Tin. And the chorale will perform a reprise of their own version of Toto’s Africa, that became a hit on ACC’s YouTube channel!
In addition, The Amy Foundation Youth Choir based in Cape Town, South Africa will share the stage with the ACC as their special guests performing their personal take of tunes that celebrate the world and its citizens.
This concert marks a milestone for the ACC as this group celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, founded in 1993 by Sue Fink when it was based at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica with just eighteen singers as members. A quarter century later, this humble clan grew up to where it has grown to where it remains today by keeping their focus intact in dedicated to building community one song at a time!
ONE WORLD MANY VOICES II will take place for two performances only, Saturday, June 2nd and Sunday, June 3rd at 7:00 PM at their newly adapted home, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Blvd., between Vermont and Normandie Avenues, Los Angeles (90010).
For more information on this event including ticketing details, call (310) 943-9231, or visit online at http://www.AngelCityChorale.com
Visit ACC through their social media outlets via Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AngelCityChorale, YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/AngelCityChorale, Twitter https://twitter.com/AngelCityChoral and SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/angelcitychorale
Note: This article also appeared in Vol. 26. No. 21. -Eds.
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