Ask 411 Movies for 12.10.12: A Column of Nefarious Means!
Posted by Leonard Hayhurst on 12.10.2012
Do the zombies in The Walking Dead breathe? Have more TV shows been set in Los Angeles or New York? How do reality shows get away with depicting illegal activities? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Movies!
Obscure Television Series of the Week
Title: Bridget Loves Bernie
Air Dates: Sept. 16, 1972, to Sept. 8, 1973
Cast: David Birney as Bernie Steinberg, Meredith Baxter as Bridget Fitzgerald Steinberg, Harold J. Stone as Sam Steinberg, Bibi Osterwald as Sophie Steinberg, Audra Lindley as Amy Fitzgerald, as David Doyle as Walt Fitzgerald, Ned Glass as Uncle Moe Plotnick, Robert Sampson as Father Mike Fitzgerald, William Elliot as Otis Foster and Ivor Barry as Charles, the butler
Premise: Bernie was a Jewish cab driver and struggling writer in New York. Bridget was his wife and a teacher at an Irish Catholic school. The series dealt with the mixed marriage and their families trying to find common ground for the good of the young couple. Despite good ratings, the show was axed after one season primarily due to Jewish groups expressing outrage over the series condoning and publicizing mixed marriage, according to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows."
Birney and Baxter fell in love for real during the filming of the series and married a year after the show ended. The couple divorced in 1989. After three marriages, Baxter in 2009 came out as a lesbian.
Ask 411 Remembers
Actress Susan Luckey, 74, died Nov. 29 at her home in Los Angeles. She had roles in Carousel and The Music Man along with a few television and Broadway appearances.
Q: Going back to Kindred:The Embraced, I heard that there were talks of a second season, but the actor who played Julian Luna was killed in a motorcycle wreck. Any truth?
-Son of the Mountain
A: Last week we profiled the short-lived series Kindred: The Embraced on Fox. The show ran eight episodes in the spring of 1996 with low ratings and mixed critical response. Fox officially axed the show after the last episode aired in May. Mark Frankel, who played Julian, died in a motorcycle crash that September. Apparently, producers were in talks with Showtime to revive the series, according to Wikipedia, when Frankel died and derailed the plan. Frankel also starred on another short-lived series for Fox, Fortune Hunter.
Q: Hey Leonard, great column as usual, while reading the one question about series that were canceled before they got to air made me think back to VH1. The show was Megan wants a Millionaire (which I believe was cut short mid-airing), but an entire season of I Love Money 3 was canceled due to the brutal murder/suicide of Ryan Jenkins, which made me want to ask the question, has there ever been any other TV show that where an entire season was in the can that was canceled due to nefarious reasons?
-Woo in my Woooo
A: As I mentioned last week, VH-1 at this time has chosen to shelve the 11 episodes they have taped of Ev and Ocho due to star Chad Johnson being arrested for assault of his wife Evelyn Lozada.
Three episodes aired of Megan Wants a Millionaire before VH-1 pulled the series. It was revealed that contestant Ryan Jenkins was wanted by police in connection to the murder of his wife, swimsuit model Jasmine Fiore. On Aug. 23, 2009, Jenkins was found dead of an apparent suicide. VH-1 pulled the series the next day. Another contestant confirmed that Jenkins placed third in the already shot season and therefore would play heavily in coming episodes. He was also a contestant on I Love Money 3, which took from the other reality shows on VH-1. The third season never aired, but a fourth season was shot the following year and did air.
As mentioned last week, several shows had a few episodes made and were never aired, but a whole season being pulled is rare. This website I found actually has more shows of that ilk than we talked about last week.
One mentioned there is The Garbage Pail Kids animated series from 1987 to air on CBS. Thirteen episodes, or a standard half season, were produced and eventually saw release on DVD in 2006. Various parent groups were against the show for its crude humor and characters and the fact that it was basically a long form commercial for the successful trading card series. Of course, cartoons being big merchandise commercials were pretty standard in the 1980s. A feature film was made and released.
Q: If you're gonna talk pilots that were shot, never picked up for distribution, and have a cult following, you've gotta mention Lookwell, created and written by Conan O'Brien and starring Adam West, supposedly praised by and in the private collections (in bootleg form, I guess) of a few famous comedians.
A: The pilot to Lookwell was broadcast on NBC in July 1991, but wasn't picked up as a regular series. The pilot also aired years later on Trio as part of the Brilliant but Canceled series. You can find the entire episode on YouTube, as it aired on Trio. This version has a few different takes and cuts from the original broadcast version. Supposedly music rights were the problem. The original episode can be found on bootleg.
Adam West starred as Ty Lookwell, a washed up actor known for an old detective series. He crosses the line into actually being a detective with his acting student Jason (Todd Field) serving as his sidekick. The show was written and produced by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel.
Q: Are there any regulations regarding real illegal activities being shown on tv or potentially in movies? I ask because there is a show on Discovery called "Moonshiners" which involve people making moonshine while evading police. I've also seen shows that deal with drugs, prostitution, etc. Does the fact that it is a documentary-type show mean stuff like this can be shown, as long as it fits that style? Would this mean anything could be allowed? Also, what's stopping authorities from going to a cable channel demanding to be told where these people are?
A: In regards to Moonshiners, Kathleen Shaw of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said there were no illegal activities on the series. They were dramatizations only and Discovery was misrepresenting this to the viewers. Shaw said if illegal activities were taking place, the department would have taken action. They would not have participated in the show if they would have known how it would have turned out. The statement said the department was told it was a documentary about the history of moonshining and moonshining investigations in the state.
When you see illegal activities on a television series or documentary it's either a dramatization or your mind is filling in more than what it's seeing. For example, in the below clip from Moonshiners, the man says he can't show or divulge too much or he'll get into trouble. Even though he's shown pouring raw ingredients together, no fermentation, which would be illegal, is shown. In shows about prostitution, do you see money changing hands? I'm no lawyer, but I believe that if real legal activity was being shown, then that footage would be admissible in a court of law and producers could be forced to turn over the footage and other information they have on a court order.
Q: Leonard, one more hopefully you'll cover, I couldn't help but notice but in the Walking Dead, all the zombies kind of wheeze. I'd figure that if zombies are dead they wouldn't breathe and that would make them just more dangerous because you wouldn't be able to hear them. Is there a precedent that you know of that dictated how zombies should sound?
-Woo in my Woooo
A: A hypothesis put out by the Zombie Research Society from Gregory Pickman, is that zombies don't talk because they lack the higher brain function to produce speech. However, they do moan or wheeze in most films and television shows. While they don't need to breathe, their lungs are still working automatically as do some other body functions. Breathing for zombies, even though they don't need to, helps to decrease the rate of decay by keeping the body oxygenated and increase their speed.
Zombies have pretty much always moaned in most media they're in. I think it's just a way to make them scarier. A mass horde of zombies coming at you is scary, a mass horde of zombies coming at you while making inhuman noises is more so.
Q: What city has had the most movies and tv shows where the movie is based in the city like Friends is New York, Cheers is Boston, and Vegas is Vegas? Im guessing it's either New York or Los Angeles?
What state has the least amount of tv shows based on that state?
What occupation has been featured the most on tv? I'm guessing cop or lawyer because of all the crime procedurals.
Speaking of crime shows, is Leverage a rip off of A-team? I know they are both robin hood type shows. You have a bunch of criminals. Hannibal is Nathan Ford (the leader who likes disguises). Face is Sophie (both grifters). B.A. is a combo of elliot and hardison (hitter and tech guy). Murdock is Parker (both insane).
A: As Ben Piper wrote in the comments a couple weeks ago, Christian Kane on the DVD commentary for the first season of Leverage said the show was a modern day A-Team. However, as Orange Chapeu said in the comments, it's can also be considered a takeoff of the British series Hustle. To add in one of my own, there are similarities to Ice-T's short-lived series Players. So, the basic premise of a group of con artists/problem solvers righting wrongs for the little guy against the rich and powerful is not a new concept.
It's hard to find a definitive list, but according to Wikipedia there have been about 160 shows set in New York City and 235 set in Los Angeles. Those numbers are actually probably a lot higher when you get into obscure, short-lived programs. New York and L.A. are two of the biggest cities in the United States and the world, and there's also a lot of television and movie production companies located in those cities. When you're shooting in Los Angeles, it's easy to make your show set in L.A. for location shooting. Wikipedia has pages of what cities were locations for what shows.
It also has pages listing shows by occupation. It lists more than 620 cop/detective shows. I'm thinking that's the most there.
Don't die. And send more questions, but I still have a couple to get to for next week.
"Are they slow-moving, chief?"
"Yeah, they're dead. They're all messed up."