Ask 411 Movies for 10.01.12: Boy Meets Column!
Posted by Leonard Hayhurst on 10.01.2012
Did Clint Eastwood make the greatest leap from TV to film? What's with the kitten in Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee's Way of the Dragon fight scene? What happened to the Farscape webisodes? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Movies!
What Leonard Recently Watched
I mentioned a few months ago I drove producer and director Bert I. Gordon and his daughter Christina to the airport from the Monster Bash, ran by my friend Ron Adams. Bert gave me an autographed copy of King Dinosaur, since we showed it at the Bash as the theme was prehistoric movies.
It was the first movie that Bert directed and he certainly got better from there. I finally got around to watching King Dinosaur. It's 80 percent stock footage and 20 percent ridiculous. The script never explains how a new planet just appears out of the blue in our solar system near earth. A quartet of scientists go check it out and find it to be pretty much an unkempt nature reserve. An island near where they land is filled with dinosaurs, or rather lizards and other small reptiles subbing for dinosaurs. My favorite part is probably when the one guy says what is clearly an iguana is the spitting image of the Tyrannosaurs Rex, "king dinosaur." Second on the list would be the other guy bringing an atomic bomb with him so they can blow the island to shit. Take that new planet. USA! USA! USA!
Obscure Television Series of the Week
Air Dates: Oct. 5, 1975, to March 28, 1976
Cast: Tony Curtis as McCoy and Roscoe Lee Brown as Gideon Gibbs
Premise: McCoy was similar in style to the hit movie The Sting and was part of the NBC mystery movie wheel of shows that included Columbo, McMillan Wife and McCloud. McCoy was a conman with plenty of gambling debts. He made money by conning other conmen and returning the money to where it came from, while taking a cut for himself. Gideon Gibbs was a nightclub comedian and McCoy's chief assistant.
Ask 411 Remembers
Actor Johnny Lewis, 28, died Sept. 26 after falling or jumping off of a roof. Police are still investigating. Lewis was recently released from jail and possibly also killed an elderly lady he was renting a room from. Lewis played Kip Epps on Sons of Anarchy and had roles on Boston Public and The O.C.
Not to make light of the situation, but the girl in the video said "at the present time, Johnny is also dead" like his condition could possibly change.
Singer Andy Williams, 84, died of bladder cancer Sept. 25. He hosted a variety show on NBC for nine years and had numerous popular Christmas specials over the years. His hit songs included "Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses," "Butterfly," "Born Free" and the holiday classic" It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
Q: I copuld of sworn Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman had movies out at the same weekend or round the same time??
A: Last week we had a question on if a Hollywood couple ever had films competing against each other at the box office. This would be movies released the same weekend or possibly the same month.
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman made three movies together; Days of Thunder in 1990, Far and Away in 1992 and Eyes Wide Shut in 1999. Those movies pretty much mark the beginning, middle and end of their relationship. They never had movies open near each other.
G-Walla in the comments last week suggested Cruise and Katie Holmes. As he mentioned, in 2005 War of the Worlds came out June 29 and Batman Begins was released June 15. In between these dates on June 15 was when Cruise reportedly proposed to Holmes on top of the Eiffel Tower. So, they weren't married yet, but were together.
A couple of questions
1) I've been DVRing the ridiculous number of "Boy Meets World" episodes on ABC Family during the week. I know it's typical for child actors to, well, not have much of a career as adult actors, but basically NO ONE on the show, child or adult, has managed to string together much of a career after the show. In most cases, this isn't surprising, but all the adult actors on the show seemed like good actors (of course, obviously William Daniels). I also thought Rider Strong was turning into a decent actor as the show reached its end. Yet I can't recall seeing anyone from the cast in many things afterward, aside from Danielle Fishel in the occasional "stupid college movie" role just after the show wrapped up. I also saw the father in an episode of some tv show (Criminal Minds?) last year. Other than that, zilch. What gives?
(For that matter, now that I'm thinking about it, you could probably do a whole column sometime just on what happened to the actors from all the TGIF shows...I can only think of a handful who had a career afterward)
2) It seems like there were some major shifts in the 90s and 00s as to tv theme songs. There was an era in there where most shows had just a quick fade-in rather than a full-scale theme, but now they're back in vogue. So, what's the history of the tv theme song? Was the shortening and eventual disappearance of the opening credits theme for awhile something that had precedent before, or was it unique? What do you think brought themes back? I feel like Boston Legal may have been the beginning of the return, but I could be way off since I was in college and didn't watch much tv during that time.
A: Boy Meets World aired on ABC as part of its TGIF lineup for seven seasons from 1993 to 2000. It was never a big hit for the network, it didn't crack the top 35 shows in the Nielsen year end ratings ever, only getting as high as 36 in its second season. However, it had a strong, loyal following amongst tweens and teens who grew up with the show. As often happens with child actors after a long running series ends, many go to college and get out of acting, while many others struggle to break stereotypes to find work.
Ben Savage, 32 (Cory Matthews): Ben is the younger brother of Fred Savage of The Wonder Years. After the series ended, Ben studied Political Science at Stanford. He interned for Arlen Specter in 2003 and graduated in 2004. Since then he's done a few television guest appearances, including Bones, Chuck and Without a Trace and a few independent movies. In 2007 he was part of the failed pilot Making It Legal with Scott Wolf and Robert Wagner.
William Daniels, 85 (George Feeney): To a whole generation, Daniels is Mr. Feeney, but before that he was best known as the voice of KITT on Knight Rider, Dr. Craig on St. Elsewhere and John Adams in the musical 1776. He's continued to work steady with recurring roles on Grey's Anatomy and The Closer.
Rider Strong, 32 (Shawn Hunter): Strong also went to college when Boy Meets World ended, getting his bachelor's in English from Columbia in 2004 and a master's from Bennington College in 2009. He received some notice for the instant cult classic Cabin Fever in 2002 and he voiced Brick Flagg on Kim Possible from 2002 to 2005. He returned to regular television in 2006 with the short-lived Pepper Dennis on The WB with Rebecca Romijn and Brooke Burns. It lasted 13 episodes and was the last show to debut on WB before moving to The CW. He wrote and directed the short film Irish Twins in 2008, which played the festival circuit. He also did a commercial for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign, which was voted the funniest submission to a contest on MoveOn.org and was aired on Comedy Central and MTV.
William Russ, 61 (Alan Matthews): After the series ended he did several television guest spots and starred on Mister Sterling with Josh Brolin. This past year he was on Criminal Minds, Awake and CSI.
Will Friedle, 36 (Eric Matthews): Friedle does voice over work for video games and cartoons. This includes Ragnar on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Lion-O on the new Thundercats, Blue Beetle on The Brave and the Bold and Ron Stoppable on Kim Possible.
Danielle Fishel, 31 (Topanga Lawrence Matthews): Fishel gained some weight after Boy Meets World went off the air and went on the NutriSystem diet, becoming a spokeswoman for the brand. She talked about her weight problems on The Tyra Banks Show and became a correspondent for the program. She hosted The Dish on the Style Network from 2008 to 2011, a series similar to The Soup that makes fun of pop culture.
Television opening and closing credits getting reduced in importance is because of the change in audience viewing habits. Networks don't want any dead space and want to get from one series to the next quickly. You might notice that closing credits will sometimes play over a final scene or even over the opening of the next show coming on. Opening credits might also play over a scene or any official intro might just be a few seconds long. Networks don't want to give viewers any excuse to change the channel and saving a few seconds here and there allows them to jam in another commercial, which draws more revenue.
Seinfeld was probably the series that started the trend as it just had a couple notes and the show's title over Jerry's standup act to open most episodes. All the CSI programs using a song from The Who for an intro might have been the beginning of bringing the intro back. I would also probably give credit to House, MD.
Q: Hey - Another SNL related question for you. I am trying to find a skit on Netflix to show my wife, but with so many episodes not sure when it aired. It is the "Jackie Rodgers $100,000 Jackpot Wad" skit (my favorite of all time). There was no celebrity guest host in the skit so it makes it harder to find. Do you know when it aired and if that skit is available on Netflix (I know certain skits are deleted from Netflix for some reason). Thanks.
A: "Jackie Rodgers Jr. $100,000 Jackpot Wad" is the only time Martin Short has ever made me laugh. The sketch featured Short playing his photo negative version of Sammy Davis Jr. as the host of a game show similar to The $25,000 Pyramid. Crystal even plays Davis as a celebrity contestant in the skit with Jim Belushi as Captain Kangaroo. You can read the transcript here. Below is a rough video of the sketch. It's from episode 17 of season 10 featuring Christopher Reeve as the host and Santana as the musical guest. It originally aired April 6, 1985, and can be streamed from Hulu or Netflix.
Q: There are shots of kittens interlaced with the movie at the beginning of the Chuck Norris/Bruce Lee fight in The Way of the Dragon. Why?
A: In the scene below, you can see a stray kitten wandering around the coliseum while Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris warm up by cracking every bone in their bodies. The cat's meow signals the start of the fight. The cat actually has its own Facebook page. Way of the Dragon from 1972 is the only movie Lee directed and wrote, so using the kitten was all him. I couldn't find a definitive answer as to the significance of the kitten online, but a few people wrote, and I would agree, that it was probably Lee contrasting the innocence and frailty of the kitten with the virility and brutality of the fight.
Q: So what ever happened to the so-called Farscape Webisodes we were supposed to see 2 years ago?
A: In 2007, Farscape producers and creators Brian Henson and Rockne S. O'Bannon announced 10 webisodes of about three to six minutes each for airing online and possibly on the Sy Fy Channel. Hopes were that the webisodes could spawn a new series. The 2008 writers strike apparently derailed the project. At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Henson said the episodes were ready for filming, but they couldn't find financial backing. Money was apparently never found and the webisodes are dead. This last July, star Ben Browder introduced the first minisode, made from old Farscape episodes, to be aired on the Nerdist YouTube Channel.
Q: Also, in light of the emmys. Greatest "tv' star to transition to film or even stage?
A: My answer to your question would be Clint Eastwood based on longevity, variety of projects and success at the box office and with critics. Eastwood first rose to national attention as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide from 1950 to 1965. He had a few lean years after the series ended, but found a niche in low budget westerns. Dirty Harry in 1971 started a popular film franchise and made Eastwood one of the biggest stars of the 1970s and early 1980s. After a dip in the late 1980s, Eastwood redefined himself as a director with Unforgiven in 1992. He's won two best director actor Oscars for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, which also took the best picture prizes. Eastwood also received best acting nominations for his roles in those movies.
Other names that immediately come to mind are George Clooney, Bruce Willis, John Travolta and Will Smith.
Q: OK, my question is how did Raquel Welch end up in the starring role of the 1972 movie "Kansas City Bomber"? Welch (and a very young Jodie Foster) appear in this drama about the world of roller derby. Today the movie looks like a joke but it was a serious movie. Was roller derby that popular in '72 that Welch considered this a good role or did she just need a paycheck?
-Noir Fan 01
A: Kansas City Bomber is an MGM movie from 1972 starring Raquel Welch as K.C. Carr. Carr has just left her successful roller derby team in Kansas City to join one in Portland, Ore. Team owner Burt Henry (Kevin McCarthy) has desires on Carr. This causes him to trade Carr's best friend on the team away and rig the fans to boo Hank Hopkins (Norman Alden), the star male skater who also has eyes for her. Carr agrees to lose a skate off to Jackie Burdette (Helena Kallaniotes, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her part), so she can go with Henry to set up a new team in Chicago. Carr doesn't trust Henry anymore and wins the match up to stay in Portland. Jodie Foster plays Carr's young daughter, Rita.
Writer Barry Sandler got Welch interested in the movie by simply showing up at her house and leaving a copy of the script with her assistant, according to IMDB. Welch didn't want to be seen as only a sex symbol, but she didn't run from that image. It's reasonable to think Welch liked the mix of a strong and sexy woman Carr was. Rollery derby was very popular in the early 1970s and something like Kansas City Bomber could be seen as an equivalent to The Wrestler in the idea of trying to take an inside look at the real people involved in this over the top, flashy pseudo-sport.
"I just want a little piece of the action so I don't have to apologize every time I turn around, that's all."