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Ask 411 Movies for 05.20.13: A Column Into Darkness!
Posted by Leonard Hayhurst on 05.20.2013

This is column 498, meaning there are only two columns left until my finale here with Ask 411 Movies. I'm saving one question for my last column. So, if there's a question you want to ask me, best get it in now.

This coming weekend for Memorial Day I'll be at Cinevent in Columbus, Ohio with Creepy Classics. It's a convention focused on older films with a lot of dealers specializing in 16 mm films and a big time poster auction.

What Leonard Recently Watched
Star Trek: Into Darkness (or Star Trek: Shit Just Got Real as I like to call it) is a worthy successor to the 2009 J.J. Abrams reboot of the original series characters and story lines. If anything, he adheres a little too closely to the formula that worked the first time out. Action sequence, emotional character building, action sequence, emotional character building, repeat until the end credits. He also doesn't alienate fans, but gets dangerously close to the line of being too cute with all of the elements and moments from the original series that get worked in with a twist.

However, despite those gripes, I still really enjoyed this movie because it did have so much going for it carried over from the last movie. The chemistry among the cast was still strong and Abrams doesn't forget that the human element and telling a compelling story is key. Sure, the visuals were eye popping, but you have to care about what's going on and to whom for everything to work. A fantastic 9 out of 10 from me.

Advertising should have billed it as Captain Kirk vs. Sherlock Holmes vs. Robocop.

Obscure Television Series of the Week
Title: The Immortal
Air Dates: Sept. 24, 1970, to Sept. 8, 1971
Network: ABC
Cast: Christopher George as Ben Richards, Don Knight as Fletcher, David Brian as Arthur Maitland and Carol Lynley as Sylvia Cartwright
Premise: Ben Richards was a race car driver. It was discovered that special antibodies in his blood made him immune to disease and aging. A transfusion from him could prolong life, but on a limited basis. This made Richards coveted by greedy millionaires like Arthur Maitland and his henchman Fletcher. Richards spent most of his life on the run, helping those he could and trying to preserve the relationship with his fiancee Carol.

Q: Hey Leonard, long time reader some time question asker here. I am glad that the column will live on, but am sad to see you go. Hands down there's no other column on this site that I have read as regularly as yours over the last 10 years. You have been one of the true backbones of 411mania and given that you write this column for free your tenure, your professionalism of posting on time & not missing columns, the time you put into researching answers and the positive attitude you have with your readers in general have been the reasons I've kept coming back every Monday. You've answered questions from me on anything from what Oscar winning movies are worth watching, the Cannonball Run, The Legend of the Lone Ranger & the 1st movies to feature nudity. And you've never been condascending or judgmental with any of your readers even if you have different tastes than them. I've been thinking of what questions to get in before you leave us and I have to go back to what I believe was the 1st question I asked of you some 5-7 years ago as there still hasn't been any new news about it that I am aware of.

What is the hold-up with an official dvd/blu-ray release of The Beatles 'Let It Be' movie? Now that the rest of their films have been released, most of if not all of their legal disputes settled and the fact that 2 of them are no longer alive is there a legitimate reason why this film still hasn't seen the light of day? I have an old bootleg video copy of it, but was there ever even an official VHS copy released?
-Dan 'The Danimal" J.

A: I haven't been putting in the well wishes I've been receiving, because I didn't want to bog the column down with sentiment. However, Dan, your comments really touched me and is how I hope most readers feel. I've put all I could into the column for nearly 10 years and am proud of what I've done. Thanks for confirming that for me.

Let it Be from 1970 is a documentary about the Beatles creating their last album together, Let It Be. It's famous for including an unannounced rooftop concert by the band, which other groups have tried to replicate since.

Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg in October 2011 said he hoped to be able to release the movie officially on Blu-Ray and DVD sometime in 2013. However, in 2008, the Daily Express quoted an anonymous source that the movie would never be officially released in the lifetimes of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The source said McCartney and Starr feel the movie, which shows the darker side of the group in its dying days, would hurt their image and the band's global brand. In February 2007, Neil Aspinall of Apple Corp. said the company was working on a restoration of the movie for DVD release and going over outtakes. He said the movie was controversial when first released and was still controversial, bringing up a lot of old issues best thought not to be brought up.

Let It Be was officially released on VHS, laserdisc and RCA SelectaVision Videodisc in the early 1980s. All went out of print after a few years and have become big collectors items, as well as the source for current bootlegs.

Q: Hey Leonard,
What actor/actress has had the most hit prime time TV shows (must be drama or comedy or prime time animated show; no reality because we would get people like gary busey being #1 or something)? Let's define a hit as a show having enough episodes to go into syndication. The person must be a regular for several seasons so like James Spader on the office wouldn't count. I can count 4 for heather locklear (spin city, dynasty, tj hooker, and melrose place) I can count 3 for Lucille Ball (I love Lucy, Here's Lucy and the lucy show), mark harmon (ncis, chicago hope and st elsewhere), William daniels (knight rider, st elsewhere, and boy meets world) and William Shatner (tj hooker, boston legal, and star trek). Thus, does anyone else have 4 or more hits?

A: You said no reality shows, but you can get to four with William Shatner if you count him hosting Rescue 911.

Lee Majors had three hit shows with The Big Valley, The Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy. Michael Landon holds the record for being on prime time in a fictional series the most consecutive years from 1959 to 1989. He went from Bonanza to Little House on the Prairie to Highway to Heaven.

Ben Piper in the comments last week mentioned Betty White. You can get to three with her easy with The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland, which is on the air now. Programs with her in the lead, like Life with Elizabeth and The Betty White Show, didn't last long. She's also had recurring characters on a few shows, like Mama's Family and That 70's Show, but probably weren't on those program long enough to count for you, David.

You can possibly get six hits out of Bill Cosby, but I don't think you would count everything given the parameters set. I Spy, The Cosby Show and Cosby were all hits. The Bill Cosby Show lasted two seasons of 52 episodes from 1969 to 1971. It did go into syndication and was released on DVD. He hosted and voiced various characters on Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. It was mainly a Saturday morning show, but did sometimes have specials in prime time. Cosby was also a regular on the children's program The Electric Company. About the only flop TV show you can put on him is The Cosby Mysteries.

Q: Mr. H,
I am bummed to learn of your retirement. The first thing I do Monday is hit up your column and now the work week will not be the same.  Good luck with your future endeavors. 

What canceled show from the past do you believe was so far ahead of its time that in today's world it would be a top 10 program and possibly have a very long run that would move it in the pantheon of top 25 shows of all time?

Has the concept of genre specific channels quietly ended? I.E., IFC which used to show Independent movies like the Confederate States of America has in the last week aired Lethal Weapon movies, Collateral Damage, Rambo movies and other mainstream movies. Well all know AMC ended being American Movie Classics when Halloween 5 was aired.

Why did the Last American Virgin have such a depressing ending for the lead character? Was it gutsy of the studio to allow it to stay or did they fight to no avail to have a happy ending?

Tom Cruise looked good w/ the grey hair in Collateral. Will he ever just let it go natural or wind up w/ the horrible dye job Sting has?

Has Disney/Nickeloden grown concerned w/ the recent behavior of some of their past child actors, I.e. Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes and how it could be seen as their fault in some twisted way?

Is the Hangover the most overrated comedy of the last 25 years? I thought it was funny but the first time I saw the Naked Gun or Austin Powers 2 I was in tears from laughing.

A: Werewolf was part of the original Fox lineup, but never found an audience as it was a cult show ahead of its time. You put something like that on the CW or Sy-Fy today and it runs for years. The basic premise was similar to man on the run shows like The Incredible Hulk or The Immortal above. John J. York played Eric Cord, a young man who was turned into a werewolf. He was trailed by bounty hunter Alamo Joe (Lance LeGault) as he tried to find the originator of his werewolf bloodline, played by Chuck Conners. The makeup was by Rick Baker, who did An American Werewolf in London and the special effects were pretty good for a low budget series of the time period.

Another cult Fox show that could probably make a decent run on cable today is Brimstone from 1998. It's a mix of the cop genre and horror/fantasy genre, which is more accepted today. Peter Horton played a once noble cop who kills his wife's rapist. He then dies and goes to hell. The devil (John Glover), strikes a deal with Horton's Ezekial Stone to return 113 souls back to hell who have escaped to earth. In exchange, Stone will be returned to life.

Thieves on ABC in 2001 had the type of banter and slickness that would fit into the programs USA Network routinely has on today. John Stamos and Melissa George play con artists and thieves who agree to go undercover for the FBI to capture those of their kind. The agents were played by Robert Knepper and Tone Loc.

If you're referring to genre specific movie channels, they're still out there, but they're a small part of the market. Encore still has channels devoted to westerns, family fair, suspense, drama, romance, action and even Spanish language films along with its main movie channel. HBO has family and comedy specific channels. I'm going to use this as an excuse to show the old school HBO logo.

The problem with IFC is that it's owned by AMC Networks. It's forgot the Independent in IFC and the Classic in American Movie Classics. It's pretty much moved all the indy programming to the Sundance Channel.

The Last American Virgin from 1982 is a remake by director Boaz Davidson of his own Israeli film, Eskimo Limon. It's actually pretty faithful to the original movie, just moved to the present day U.S. from 1950s Israel. The original movie was very popular in Europe and the Middle East, spawning several spinoffs and sequels. Due to the overseas success and Davidson retaining control, Cannon allowed him to make the movie he wanted to.

To give a quick summing up of the end, Gary and Rick are in a love triangle with Karen, a virgin. Rick gets to Karen first and knocks her up. Gary pulls together all the money he can to pay for Karen's abortion. After he does so, Karen takes Rick back and Gary leaves her birthday party humiliated.

I'm not Tom Cruise nor can I speak for him or his hair. Currently, Cruise, 50, is still playing action film roles and most likely will not let his hair go naturally gray in order to appear more youthful and vigorous for such parts. The site Cosmetic Makeovers in 2006 posted an article theorizing Cruise does dye his hair due to the monotone overall color. Actually, I think Cruise really looks like Les Grossman below.

Disney nor Nickelodeon have released any statements regarding their former child stars having personal problems. No mainstream media outlet has also tried to peg these issues on the companies. I think it has to do with former child stars going all the way back having personal issues when they get older. It just seems to unfortunately be the nature of the business as some can't handle the early fame and loss of a regular childhood. It just gets chalked up to another child star gone bad.

However, sometimes the channels have been sensitive to the plights of their actresses. Demi Lovato starred in a few Disney Channel Movies and the series Sonny With a Chance. In late 2010, Lovato entered rehab and later confessed to bulimia, hurting herself and using drugs and alcohol. On Sonny With a Chance, Lovato played the star of a sketch comedy show for teens. After she left, the show within the show was actually turned into a sketch comedy program call So Random. In December 2011, Lovato criticized So Random and another Disney show, Shake It Up, for having jokes about eating disorders. Disney, sensitive to the issues of their former star and their own image, apologized to Lovato and removed those episodes from the airing rotation.

In September 2007, nude photos of Vanessa Hudgens taken with a cell phone leaked online. Hudgens apologized for the lack in judgment of taking the photos, which she never meant for public dispersion. While it was rumored she would be dropped from High School Musical 3, Disney issued a statement saying they would stick by their star and that they hoped she learned a valuable lesson from the incident.

Whether The Hangover is the most overrated comedy of the last 25 years is a matter of opinion only. I thought the first movie was hilarious when I first saw it. However, a lot of the humor works by the fact that you're not expecting it the first time around. It's shock comedy. It's also one of those movies that so many people latched onto and started quoting when it first came out, it wore out its welcome fast with many people. Based on the style of humor and how prevalent it was in the pop culture, I can see where some people would think it's overrated.

Have to throw in the song from the second movie too.

Q: How come Penn and Teller get Killed never got released on DVD???

A: Penn and Teller Get Killed from 1989 is available from the Warner Archive Collection. It can be ordered through Amazon and is available on the site's instant watch. The movie was a big flop when released, but has gained a cult following. Therefore, Warner Bros. isn't going to do a major release, but is available through their private collection for lesser movies and cult favorites.

The movie pretty much has the magic-comedy duo playing pranks on each other with the inclusion of Penn's girlfriend Carlotta (Caitlin Clarke). It eventually looks like someone is really trying to kill the pair, but that's a joke that goes awfully awry.

Q: 1. I understand the reaction back in 1990 but in 2013 is Rocky V still considered that bad of a movie? To me it makes perfect sense with the way athletes squander their fortunes nowadays at alarming rates in the worst possible ways so Rocky being broke again made sense to me....

2. How much money do actors get paid for movies that go straight to DVD? Snipes, Van-Damme, and Seagal have done a ton of them, is the money significantly less than what they are used to getting?
3. When did the Super Bowl become a ratings juggernaut that people became obsessed with it solely for the commercials it seems?
4. How does Law & Order book its guest stars for episodes? It seems as if they have the most random celebrities on sometimes. Do they write every role with multiple guests in mind for that role and go by first and secondary choices?
5. I hear that The Cosby Show brought back sitcoms from the dead when it debuted. Was the state of sitcoms really THAT bad in the early 80's?
-Rock Hudson River Phoenix

A: Some would say sitcoms were dead in the mid-1980s, others would say they were in a state of flux. Older shows were toward the end of their runs while newer shows weren't catching on. Former top programs like Alice, One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons on CBS and Benson, Happy Days and Three's Company on ABC were on their last legs in 1983. NBC, who many said was dead heading into the 1980s, was rebuilding its lineup. Cheers and Family Ties, which debuted in 1982, were starting to building momentum with fans and critics. In 1984, those programs were moved to Thursday and book-ended by two rookie shows, The Cosby Show and Night Court. It was the start of NBC's Must See TV lineup and its dominance on the night with sitcoms that extends to the present day.

The Cosby Show had a different sensibility, ethnic diversity and creative spark than anything on television previous. However, it was going back to tried and true staples like the family sitcom and the workplace sitcom, that Cheers and Family Ties represented, which was the key.

I like Rocky V. It's a bit creaky in spots and Tommy Morrison is no actor, but I see what Sylvester Stallone was trying to do by returning Rocky to his roots. I also love the final street fight, it's a welcome change of pace from the overly choreographed boxing scenes of the previous movies. The problems was that 1989 was a very crowded year for movies and Rocky got lost in the shuffle. Additionally, audiences didn't want to see Rocky down and out in a grittier story after the rah-rah and slick third and fourth films. The movie was a flop at the time and because of that most people perceive it to be a bad movie still today. It's probably the worst of the franchise, but it's not as terrible as its reputation.

In a July 2010 interview, Stallone said he made Rocky V out of greed and doing Rocky Balboa was about taking the character out on a more high and appropriate emotional note.

Action heroes like Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme were probably making a few million dollars for their top movies and a few hundred thousand dollars each for their newer direct to DVD fair. Actor salaries are rarely disclosed, because they're a confidential part of a contract. Sometimes the amounts are released, or estimates are determined by industry insiders for media reports. IMDB has Van Damme making $5 million for movies like Sudden Death and Timecop. According to the net worth website, Van Damme is estimated to be worth about $8 million. Seagal is said to be worth about $5 million. Wesley Snipes, after all of his financial issues, is said to be worth only about $1 million now. IMDB has Snipes listed as making $13 million for Blade: Trinity in 2004.

Robert Wood looks like Alton Brown.

The average cost of a 30-second spot for this past year's Super Bowl was $4 million. The ads have become just as big of a part of the event as the game. USA Today rates the commercials and runs their ad meter the next day. While there were some notable commercials in the 1970s, the rise of the Super Bowl as an advertising juggernaut was in 1984. Apple had a commercial claiming its new Macintosh home computer would make 1984 not like the book 1984. Since the game itself was a blowout that year, more people were talking about the unique spot the next day over the game and advertisers began jumping on the bandwagon with exclusive, expensive spots starting the next year.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit writer and produce Neal Baer has said the series will write episodes for specific top name guest stars after they find out the person is available and is willing to do the show. He has sited Cynthia Nixon and Robin Williams, both who were in memorable season nine episodes, as examples of this casting and writing method.

Don't die.
"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence."


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