Friday, December 24, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS ROUND-UP













(Updated Thursday 12/30/2010 -- See Ty Hardin, Geoff Meed Birthdays)
(just a quick note: I've been having some trouble with the links in this post, especially the Gunsmoke episode. If they don't work for you, go to Youtube and search for 'Gunsmoke In Magnus')
I’m getting this week’s post up a little earlier than usual because, just like everyone else, I’ve still got Christmas shopping and wrapping to do. The Round-up’s first year is rapidly drawing to a close, and I want to take a moment to thank everyone who’s stopped by to take a look at the site, and a very special thank-you to all the folks that have emailed me or left comments, whether to tell me about something they particularly liked, or disagreed with, or to correct one of my numerous errors. Your feedback is crucial.

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be starting the New Year with a pair of interviews from a couple of great Western stars, Earl Holliman and Ty Hardin.

TY HARDIN TURNS 80 ON NEW YEARS DAY!

Happy Birthday wishes go out to BRONCO star Ty Hardin, who is as suave and handsome as ever! I got to interview Ty this summer, and you'll be reading it here in the next month or so. The colorful picture of Ty, between the Christmas picture and the Indian Chiefs, is from a Swedish candy-card.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEOFF MEED

Friday, December 31st is the birthday of the villainous actor and Western screenwriter of 6 GUNS. He's just back from scaring people in Brazil in FAST FIVE -- that's Geoff glaring under Ty. If you'd like to read my interview with Geoff, CLICK HERE.

ROY ROGERS LINE-UP FROM RFD-TV

On Christmas Day, The Happy Trails Theatre will be showing Robin Hood Of the Pecos, a 1941 post-Civil War story set in Texas, starring Roy, Gabby Hayes, Marjorie Reynolds, and Sally Payne as Belle Starr. It’s directed by the great Joe Kane, and written by Western pros Hal Long and Olive Cooper. It plays at 9:00 a.m. in the west, noon in the east, and there are a couple of repeats during the week – in case you’re busy trying out your new Red Ryder BB-Gun.

And here’s the line-up for the first couple of months of 2011: January 1st, In Old Cheyenne (1941); January 8th, Young Bill Hickok (1940); January 15t, Sheriff of Tombstone (1941); January 22nd, Bad Man of Deadwood (1941); January 29th, Jesse James At Bay (1941); February 5th, Under California Skies (1948); February 12th, Heart Of The Rockies (1951); February 19th, Sons Of The Pioneers (1942); February 26th, Sunset In El Dorado (1945); and March 5th, Don’t Fence Me In (1945) – the only Republic Western with a Cole Porter score!

AUTRY DOUBLE-BILLS AT – WHERE ELSE? – THE AUTRY!

Saturday, January 1st, 2011, New Years Day, admission to the Autry Museum will be free. But better news still, a double-feature of Gene’s films will be shown in the Imagination Gallery’s Western Legacy Theatre. And henceforth, the first Saturday every month will feature a different Gene Autry double bill. January 1st, at 2 p.m., it’s Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935) and Last Round-up (1947). February 1st will feature Shooting High (1940) and Sioux City Sue (1946).

In a recent letter to members, Museum President John L. Gray touted the wide range of events featured at the Autry this year, including events as far out of the mainstream as George Takei’s discussion about being a gay Asian in the American West, but concluded by noting that their best-attended event overwhelmingly was their first Annual Celebration of the American Cowboy. I’ve heard from a number of western enthusiasts who felt that the Autry had been taking them for granted. If it was true, it sounds like it’s no longer the case.

GENE AUTRY’S CHRISTMAS SONGS

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the man who sang ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Here Comes Santa Claus.’ To learn the story behind both songs, and here Gene sing ‘em, CLICK HERE.

DATES SET FOR SANTA CLARITA COWBOY FESTIVAL

The 18th Annual Cowboy Festival will take place April 27th through May 1st, at the historic Melody Ranch, courtesy of the Veluzat family. I attended this event for the first time last year, and it was just wonderful, not only for the event and the entertainment, but for the experience of wandering through the Western streets. The Cowboy Festival will feature the best in Western gear, food, clothing, and living history exhibits as well as performers like Hot Club of Cowtown, Wylie and the Wild West, Don Edwards, and The Sons of the San Joaquin. Returning are past festival favorites Waddie Mitchell, Sourdough Slim, Belinda Gail and Larry Maurice as well as award winning songwriters, Andy Wilkinson and Andy Hedges. Poet Chris Isaacs will spin tales of the West and the Battalion Band of California will make their Main Stage debut. Making his first appearance at the Cowboy Festival is renowned Colorado songwriter Chuck Pyle, “The Zen Cowboy.” Also returning are saloon pianist David Bourne, master magician Whit Haydn and banjo master John Reynolds, as well as Western, Native American and Hispanic song and dance.

This year they’re going paperless, which I frankly think is nuts. While there are a lot of Western fans who are on-line (otherwise I’d be writing the Round-up to myself), a lot of Westerners are hold-outs against technology, and I foresee a lot of fans falling through the cracks. So spread the word, and visit www.cowboyfestival.org or call (661) 286-4021 for details.

FRED FOY – ‘LONE RANGER’ ANNOUNCER -- DIES AT 89

The man who so spiritedly introduced the adventures of the masked man and Tonto, first on radio, then in television, died in his home in Woburn, Mass. He also announced for The Green Hornet and Sgt. Preston Of The Yukon on radio, and The Dick Cavett Show on TV, but is best remembered for these words: “ A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-Yo Silver"... The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early Western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with
us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the
thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides
again!”

Foy is survived by his wife of 63 years, Frances Foy, their three children and three grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the USO in honor of Mr. Foy's military service in WW II. And in case you haven’t heard his work in some time, HERE’S A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS TREAT: CLICK HERE to watch a Christmas episode of The Lone Ranger.

WRITER-DIRECTOR BLAKE EDWARDS DIES AT 88

The writer-director who was best known for broad sight-gag comedies like the Pink Panther series, as well ultra-sophisticated comedy and dramas like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Days Of Wine and Roses, started out on radio, writing for Dick Powell, who was playing Richard Diamond. Edwards wrote the show on television as well, and also Mr. Lucky, and he created Peter Gunn. But his first work on film was writing a pair of Westerns for Rod Cameron, Panhandle (1948) and Stampede (1949) for Allied Artists. He went on to write and direct the excellent The Wild Rovers (1971), starring William Holden and Ryan O’Neal. It was released at a chopped 106 minutes, but was re-released in the 1980s at its full 136 minute length. In 1988 he directed his last Western, appropriately titled Sunset. Set in the Hollywood of 1929, it starred James Garner as an aging Wyatt Earp, teaching cocky young Tom Mix (Bruce Willis) the ropes.

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.

TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE

Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.

NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?

Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

AND I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH A ‘GUNSMOKE’ CHRISTMAS

Here, in three parts, is the Christmas show from the first season of Gunsmoke, when it was black and white, and half an hour. Entitled Magnus, it features Robert Easton as Chester’s brother Magnus. Robert Easton has long been known as Hollywood’s Henry Higgins, and can claim the perhaps unique distinction of having played the same character, Magnus, in both the Gunsmoke radio series and television series. I had the pleasure of chatting with him after the Republic 75th Anniversary celebration (CLICK HERE to read what he had to say there), and hope to have an interview about his work in Westerns later this year. CLICK HERE for part 1.
CLICK HERE for part 2.
CLICK HERE for part 3.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AMIGOS!

Henry C. Parke

All Contents Copyright December 2010 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NEW YOUTH SAGEBRUSH SAGAS





“My dad and I go hunting together. I was walking through the woods, bow-hunting, when a line popped into my head, which was, “The half-breed moved only when the wind blew.” Because it was a real dry, crisp day, the leaves were crunchy. Every time I took a step I was announcing my presence to everything in the woods. So when the breeze would come through, that would make a rustling sound, and that’s when I would move, to kind of cover up my sound. And I’m a little bit Cherokee, so that line popped into my head, and I’m thinking, ‘That would be a good first line for a book!’ I had a pencil and pad in my backpack, and when I got to my stand I just started writing. And I never stopped. I was well into it before I thought, wow, I’ve really got something here. Maybe I ought to try and complete it.”

J. Bradford Lawler did complete it, and that was the birth of The Adventures of Hood and Fudd, the first of what he plans to be least four Western youth novels, set in the mountains of Virginia in 1888. But he didn’t set out to be a novelist – he laughed when I called him a professional writer. “‘A Professional Writer?’ That’s funny. The writing thing was kind of a surprise. I was always a math guy. In fact, in my freshman year in college (William and Mary), creative writing was a mandatory class, and I got a ‘D’. It was probably a mercy ‘D’ at that. I wasn’t very creative – I was a builder. Then about three years ago the building business started tanking, and it looked like it wasn’t going to get better for a long time, so I just decided to get out of it rather than watching it die slowly. I have a farm where I live, so I started planting a vineyard, raising goats and chickens. My grandfather was a farmer, and it made me think of him a lot. Back to the land – I’ve really enjoyed doing that.”

The hero of the story, fifteen-year-old Hood, is half Cherokee. His white father’s been murdered, at least in part for being married to an Indian. After living on the reservation with his mother and grandfather, Hood goes back to claim his father’s farm, and seek revenge on his father’s killer. I asked Brad if, a century after the story takes place, he sensed any anti-Indian feeling growing up in Virginia. “None at all. In fact I had no idea that I was part Indian in my youth. I never found out until my 40th birthday. I was in the woods above our camp with my dad, and I’d been there a week. I was kind of scruffy, and I said, ‘You know, Dad, I can never grow a good beard because I have these two dead spots.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got ‘em in the same spot. It’s probably the Indian blood.’ And I’m like, ‘Excuse me?’ He was like, ‘Oh, I thought you knew.’ It was something that was never that important to him, but man, I would have loved known that growing up – I would have thought it was the coolest thing in the world.”

The other protagonist is Fudd, a young man who lives much more comfortably than Hood. His main concern is hunting down a mountain lion that’s killing off the locals. Brad told me that neither one is based on a real person, but the dog, Buddy, is based on Chow/Lab mix he had twenty years ago, that protected his the two-year-old daughter from a loose Doberman.

The character names started as a series of jokes. “Up at hunt camp I had a buddy we called Elmer Hood, because he was Robin Hood with a bow and Elmer Fudd with a gun.” Both leads were named after him. “I’m a Washington Redskins fan, and a lot of the heroes have Washington Redskins names, like the bartender’s Russ Brown, sheriff’s Daryl Green, and the villains are all Dallas Cowboys.”

He rooted the story in a place he knows well, the ‘Eastern West’ of Virginia. “The whole story takes place in the mountains of Virginia, in old family land of mine, of my parents and my grandparents. In fact the subtitle of the book is ‘Taming the Eastern Frontier.’ I was writing something that I knew about – and that always helps.” I asked him if the story was based on fact. The plot is not, but some of the incidents are. “Some of the hunting scenes are stuff that actually took place at my hunt camp over the years – not the mountain lion, but where the coyotes are chasing the deer and two fawns, that really happened, not to me but to a friend of mine. And the rest of the story just kind of morphed. It’s not like I had any kind of a syllabus to go by. I just would keep writing, and invent characters as I went along. Like one day I needed a couple of strong girl characters. Because the first version was all about boys, and I got to thinking I needed some girl characters too. So I created them as I needed them.”

“While I was writing it, I (realized) the western really isn’t as popular as it used to be. When I grew up you would see a lot more western books. It seems like today’s generation, they didn’t grow up with John Wayne, and westerns weren’t really on their radar, at least here in the East. But things tend to be cyclical – everything comes back in style except those fashions from the ‘80s. The book’s directed at (young people), it’s geared towards them, but I feel like it’s an appropriate read for a lot of different audiences. It’s a western, it’s action/adventure, it’s historical fiction. I try to be historically accurate. I think it’s appropriate for people eight to eighty and then some.”

As a teacher, I’ve read quite a bit of kid’s fiction, and it’s generally pretty-well sanitized of anything ‘troubling’ or challenging. Hood and Fudd is, by contrast, delightfully politically incorrect, full of life-and-death events: people are killed by mountain lions, bitten by rattlesnakes, deer are hunted and skinned, trains are held up, and people get shot. I told him I thought boys would particularly enjoy it. “I love hearing that.” I asked if he met with any resistance from his publisher. “Well, the first two publishers I went to wouldn’t give me the time of day -- big New York publishing houses. So I just decided to try someone local here in Richmond, Martha Allison at Capital City Books, and she was great. They read the book and liked it – and felt it needed some help, and they were right. They were wonderful, I really feel that they made the book marketable. I’m a bad speller – anybody who knows me finds it almost inconceivable that I could write a book.”

There’s also quite a bit of praying in the book. “I was pretty insistent that that was something I wanted to leave in there. I’m not going to shy away from God. I also felt that I wanted to write something that’s addressing morals and values, to be a positive influence on kids. I tried not to have any cussing in there – the cussing would be referred to: He let out a diatribe of vulgarity. I’ve got a seventeen year old daughter, and I wanted it to be something that would reach them in a positive way. I didn’t want it to become preachy, because that’s a real turn-off to them.”

I asked him who he liked among people writing for a young audience. “: I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books – I think J.K Rowling is incredible! She invented a whole new world. I find what she did to be exceptional – I find it inspiring.” I complimented him on the illustrations in his book. “My sister, Kelly Cleary, would love to hear that. I had asked my editor if I could have my sister do a couple of pictures for the book, and they said, well, bring in a sample of her work. So I did, and they came up with the idea of a picture at the beginning of every chapter. And she's doing the illustrations for another book that my publisher is doing.”

Brad is fortunate that his book’s appeal is not limited to boys. “So far it’s done really well with girls. The first place I started selling the book was at church, and some of the girls really got into it – they did more talking about it than some of the boys. In fact, one of them invited me to speak to her fifth grade class, and I’ve spoken to a 4th grade class as well. The girls seemed to be enjoying it as much or more than the boys.”

He’s writing the second book now, entitled The Mystic Warrior, and he’s no longer just making it up as he goes along. “I’ve definitely got a smarter approach (to the other novels). I’ll have it structured where I want to take it.” Another character who turns up in Hood and Fudd, though referred to simply as ‘TR’ until the end, is Teddy Roosevelt. Was he actually in Virginia at that time? “Not that I’m aware of. But he did go around the world to get trophy animals for his collection. I used that as a foot-in-the-door to get him down here.” I asked if he would appear in later books. “I think he will. So far it’s intended to be a four book series, and I’m well into the second one. And my timeline’s getting to where I’d like Teddy to make an appearance. The second book is going to tie up a lot of the East and the West. I’m going to have some stuff about the ghost-dance movement and things like that. Chronologically it all ties in very well. So without telling you too much, I’m going to have some historical figures, that were tied to the Ghost Dance movement, have a part in the second book. I think in the third book Hood may end up as a Cavalry Scout.”

The Adventures of Hood & Fudd, by J. Bradford Lawler, is published by Capital City Books. It’s 182 pages, and it’s available from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, for $14.95.

RED DEAD REDEMPTION NAMED ‘GAME OF THE YEAR’

The spaghetti-western-styled video game from Rockstar Games won four trophies at Spike-TV’s 8th Annual Video Game Awards, on Saturday, December 11th. Red Dead Redemption also took home awards for Best Song, Best Original Score, and Best Downloadable Content.

AUTRY DOUBLE-BILLS AT – WHERE ELSE? – THE AUTRY!

Saturday, January 1st, 2011, New Years Day, admission to the Autry Museum will be free. But better news still, a double-feature of Gene’s films will be shown in the Imagination Gallery’s Western Legacy Theatre. And henceforth, the first Saturday every month will feature a different Gene Autry double bill. January 1st, at 2 p.m., it’s Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935) and Last Round-up (1947). February 1st will feature Shooting High (1940) and Sioux City Sue (1946).

In a recent letter to members, Museum President John L. Gray touted the wide range of events featured at the Autry this year, including events as far out of the mainstream as George Takei’s discussion about being a gay Asian in the American West, but concluded by noting that their best-attended event overwhelmingly was their first Annual Celebration of the American Cowboy. Over the last year I’ve heard from a number of western enthusiasts who felt that the Autry had been taking them for granted. If it was true, it sounds like it’s no longer the case.

‘WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH’ ON HULU

For months I’ve been plugging the movies and TV shows shown for free on HULU. I was just looking through their western listings and noticed they are showing 1926’s silent classic, The Winning of Barbra Worth, and from the first several minutes I watched, the print looks pristine. Based on the novel by Harold Bell Wright, author of the first American million-seller, The Shepherd of The Hills, the screenplay is by the great Frances Marion, directed by the equally great King Vidor, and stars Ronald Coleman, Vilma Banky and a very young Gary Cooper. To see it, CLICK HERE.

WINNERS OF 1ST ANNUAL ROPE AND WIRE SHORT STORY CONTEST ANNOUNCED

1st Place, and $250, went to Bill Henderson for The K-Bar Incident. 2nd Place, and $75, went to Charlie Steel for For The Love Of a Woman. 3rd Place, and a $50 prize went to Tom Roberts for his story , Toby. 4TH Place went to T.T, Thurman for The Double Eagle, and 5th Place, for her story Disturbing The Peace, was won by Elisabeth Foley. You can read all of the stories HERE.

‘TRUE GRIT’ OPENS WEDNESDAY

Unless you've been pulling a Rip Van Winkle, you know that the Coen Brothers’ film from the Charles Portis novel, starring Oscar Winners Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, and Oscar Nominee Josh Brolin, opens everywhere on Wednesday the 22nd. Western writer C. Courtney Joyner is the first of a long string of friends who saw previews, and called me to say that the picture’s terrific. And it’s already received 11 nominations from the Critics Circle Award – and none from the Golden Globes, which is an even bigger compliment.

24 HOURS OF JOHN WAYNE WESTERNS ON TCM WEDNESDAY 12/22

Don't know if it's coincidence or not, but the same day that the new True Grit opens, TCM gives you 24 hours of the Duke, including True Grit and the greatest of Christmas Western, Three Godfathers. Check your local listings for times, but here's the order: Rio Lobo, Fort Apache, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, Rio Grande, The Searchers, 3 Godfathers, The Sons Of Katie Elder, True Grit, Rio Bravo, McClintock!, Big Jake, The Man From Monterey.

ROY ROGERS CHRISTMAS MOVIE ON RFD

This Saturday, Dec. 18th, RFD-TV, which has been showing pictures from the early 1940s, jumps ahead a decade with Roy's Christmas movie, TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (1950). It involves Christmas-tree rustles muscling in on Jack Holt's Christmas tree farm. It's shot in Republic's own Trucolor, a process that made everything blue look green, and everything green look brown, but produced red very well -- which is why most of Republic's leading ladies of the era were redheads, and why the Christmas trees in question all appear to be dead. The picture features the entire Republic star roster of the day: Roy, Rex Allen, Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, Monte Hale, Kermit Maynard, Tom Tyler, Tom Keene -- not to mention Penny Edwards, Trigger, and Gordon Jones -- Mike The Cop from the Abbott and Costello Show.

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.

TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE

Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.

NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?

Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

That's it for this week, my friends! Have a very Merry Christmas!

All Contents Copyright December 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 12, 2010

RETURN OF THE NATIVE (AMERICAN)










(Updated Thursday 12/16 -- see ROY ROGERS CHRISTMAS MOVIE)
I’ve received some nice comments about the Cody Jones article last week, but when I looked through it again I realized that in editing my interview, I dropped all reference to his most recent film, Hard Times in HWood. The short film isn’t a Western, but it’s Cody’s first lead. Written and directed by Sally Kemper, it’s about a young man’s search for success, with the help of his neighbors, guys who are looking for love during tough times in Hollywood. Cody costars with popular stand-up comic Felipe Esparza.


‘YELLOW ROCK’ ROUGH CUT


I just got to see the first trailer for Yellow Rock, and it looks terrific – sorry I’m not allowed to share it yet. Round-up regulars know I’ve covered the Michael Biehn/James Russo starrer extensively. Producer/writer/actress Lenore Andriel tells me that a rough cut is almost complete. Nice to know we’ve got another solid western to look forward to.

JEOPARDY LOSES GOLDEN BOOT

On Thursday, December 9th, I was watching JEOPARDY, and was delighted to see one of the question topics was ‘The Golden Boot Awards’, the annual event that Gene Autry sidekick Pat Buttram began in 1983 as a benefit for the Motion Picture and Television Fund. It ran for twenty-five years, until they ran out of people to give awards to. Of all the questions asked, there was only one correct answer given, and none of the contestants ventured to take a guess at any of the others. Like to know what the three doofuses couldn’t answer? For $400: in 1983 this singing cowboy & sports owner got one of the first Golden Boots, given for work in Westerns. No one said Gene Autry. For $800, Liz correctly answered: This 1992 recipient hosted TV’s ‘Death Valley Days’ & went far in politics (Ronald Reagan). For $1200: In 1998 this actor recited the Lone Ranger’s Creed as he received the Founder’s Award (Clayton Moore.) For $1600: In 1985 he was honored with a Golden Boot; he also won a Medal of Honor for his deeds in World War II (Audie Murphy). They ran out of time before they got to the $2000 question, but I doubt they could have answered it: He was the star of the Roy Rogers Show. Just to show that their moronitude isn’t limited to Westerns, even being told that the word contains two of the letter ‘e’ together, followed by a third ‘e’, no one could tell Alex that ‘This type of hunting cap is associated with Sherlock Holmes,’ was a deer-stalker.

(illustrations, top to bottom: Cody Jones; Michael Biehn, James Russo and cast of Yelloe Rock; Golden Boot; David Dortort's Bonanza card;German Scalphunters poster;The Cowboys poster; the next two portraits from the American Indian Chiefs cigarette card series)

ROY ROGERS CHRISTMAS MOVIE ON RFD

This Saturday, Dec. 18th, RFD-TV, which has been showing pictures from the early 1940s, jumps ahead a decade with Roy's Christmas movie, TRAIL OF ROBIN HOOD (1950). It involves Christmas-tree rustles muscling in on Jack Holt's Christmas tree farm. It's shot in Republic's own Trucolor, a process that reproduced blue poorly, but red and green very well -- which is why most of Republic's leading ladies of the era were redheads, and why green Christmas trees seem like an ideal subject. The picture features the entire Republic star roster of the day: Roy, Rex Allen, Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, Monte Hale, Kermit Maynard, Tom Tyler, Tom Keene -- not to mention Penny Edwards, Trigger, and Gordon Jones -- Mike The Cop from the Abbott and Costello Show.

‘BONANZA’ CREATOR DAVID DORTORT DIES

On September 5th, 2010, David Dortort, the man who created the Cartwrights, Western television’s most enduring family, died at the age of 93, outliving all of the actors who portrayed the Cartwrights. Although frail, last year he attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Bonanza at the Autry, where it was announced that the museum had acquired the David Dortort archives – and he even pledged $100,000 to help with their preservation. Bonanza started in 1959 and ran for fourteen years and 425 episodes. In the sixties he created another very successful series, this time a dysfunctional one. High Chaparral ran for nearly one hundred episodes. To learn more about this remarkable talented writer producer, check out his on-camera interview with The Archive of American Television HERE.

WRITER WILLIAM W. NORTON DIES

Writer William W. Norton died on October 1st. It’s not unusual to hear about a screenwriter having been called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, but when Norton was called, he wouldn’t be a screenwriter for several years: he was called when he was a Park Ranger at Los Encinos State Park (coincidentally, more about that park below). After testifying he fled to Cuba for a year, then, becoming disenchanted with Castro, he moved to Mexico, and eventually snuck back into the U.S., eventually learning that the FBI was no longer looking for him. He started writing exploitation films in the early sixties, got noticed by Levy-Gardner-Laven, and wrote the Burt Lancaster starrer The Scalphunters, the Burt Reynolds comedy western Sam Whiskey, and several episodes of The Big Valley. He later co-wrote the John Wayne cop-actioner Brannigan, also for Levy-Gardner-Laven. He had a slew of non-western screen credits as well, but never lost his interest in politics. He was arrested in France in 1985 for running guns for the Irish Republican Army, and served two years in a French prison. To read an interesting interview with the late Mr. Norton, CLICK HERE.

WRITER IRVING RAVETCH – HALF OF RAVETCH AND FRANK – DIES

Screenwriter Irving Ravetch who, with his wife and writing partner Harriet Frank Jr., wrote screenplays for many fine Westerns and mainstream movies, died on September 19th, at the age of 89. Recognized for films like Norma Rae and Hud, they excelled in outdoor pictures. Sometimes alone and more often with his wife, he wrote for some of the great Western screen icons: The Outriders (1950) and The Lone Hand (1953) for Joel McCrea, Vengeance Valley (1951) for Burt Lancaster, Ten Wanted Men (1955) for Randolph Scott, Run For Cover (1955) for James Cagney, Home From The Hill (1960) for Robert Mitchum, Hombre (1967) for Paul Newman, The Reivers (1969) for Steve McQueen, The Cowboys (1972) for John Wayne, and The Spikes Gang (1974) for Lee Marvin. To see an example of his work, CLICK HERE to watch Vengeance Valley in it’s entirety.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19TH LOS ENCINOS LIVING HISTORY DAY

On this day, and the third Sunday of every month, Los Encinos State Historic Park, located at 16756 Moorpark St. in Encino,91436, has a Living History Day. From one to three p.m. enjoy music, period crafts,a blacksmith, docents in 1870s attire, tours of the historic buildings, and traditional children’s games.

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.

TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE

Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.

NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?

Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

That's it for this week, friends, unless I add some bits and pieces in a day or two. Sure lost a lot of important writers lately, and I woldn't have known if not for the Writers Guild magazine, Written By.

Adios Amigos!

All Contents Copyright December 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 6, 2010

RIDING WITH ROOSTER COGBURN & COWBOYS & ALIENS









(Updated Wednesday 12/8/2010 -- see SCREENING: RED AND WHITE)
Soon you’ll be seeing Cody Jones in TRUE GRIT and COWBOYS & ALIENS, but he jokes that you may have to look real quick. The stuntman and actor is an Eastern Shoshone tribal member of the Wind River Indian Reservation. He first rode across the TV screen in The History Channel’s CARSON AND CODY: THE HUNTER HEROES. Many American Indians have strong feelings about Kit Carson and Buffalo Bill. When I asked Cody if he did, he laughed. “Well, actually I’m named after Buffalo Bill Cody. I think it’s pretty cool. Buffalo Bill first incorporated Indians into the Wild West Show, and I think overall it was a good opportunity for those Indian guys back then. I know at one point he was considered an Indian fighter, when he was a scout. But from what I know, Buffalo Bill tried to be a friend of the Indian. I look on it as an honor to be named after him.

“Originally I’m from Wyoming, Fort Laramie Wyoming. And I also grew up in Texas, once my folks divorced. My dad went back to Texas, and my mom stayed in Wyoming. I ended up graduating from high school in Texas. I used to rodeo. I was down in Weatherford College, riding bulls for a little stretch of time. It’s something that I wanted to try when I was in high school, but I was playing a lot of other sports, and my parents were kind of discouraging me from doing it. I’d ridden a few bulls in high school, got real serious about it afterwards. I did that for a while, went pretty good at the start, then I went through a stretch when I wasn’t covering my bulls, wasn’t making a full ride, and then ended up being hurt. Got sort of banged up. So I took some time off, went back up to my grandpa’s place in Wyoming, stayed at the ranch.

“I was training horses on our family ranch, breaking them for other people to ride. It’s what we call ‘starting colts,’ getting the horse started. When they’re three, three and a half, you’re getting on them, riding them for the first time. Normally you put on sixty to ninety days, depending on who it’s for. If it’s for someone who’s pretty experienced I might only put thirty to sixty days on a horse, and they’ll take them from that point. If it’s somebody living in town who’s not very experienced, I might keep them ninety days, or even longer than that, get them really lined out and going good. At that point they can get on and usually handle the horse pretty well. And while I was working on our family ranch I did some college, at Eastern Wyoming College.”

(Photos - from top, Cody Jones, Cody Jones on horseback, DEADLIEST WARRIORS break for lunch, Will Rogers, William S. Hart, Red and White poster)

His work with horses is what eventually led him to the screen. “I was at home in Wyoming, in the summer of ’02, and I got a call from my cousin, Nobby Brown, who’d done stunts in a lot of movies – he’d done DANCES WITH WOLVES, GERONIMO – and he said, ‘Come down to Oklahoma to do this thing for The History Channel.’ It was CARSON AND CODY: THE HUNTER HEROES. They had a wagon we chased. They had us riding across a big wide-open prairie. They’d just tell us to ride from one point to another. I was just one of the guys in there, riding. I did that, and the next summer I toured in some Wild West shows. It was patterned after how Buffalo Bill did his show. They had their Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill. That took us into the Midwest. The biggest one we did was a ten day show in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lot of fun – two performances a day, and on the tenth day we road through downtown Milwaukee in a big parade. They wanted to keep it going every summer. But it was that time when oil prices were steadily rising. The cost of getting the horses and all of the guys to each location was too much, and the show folded.

“The next year, Steven Speilberg was doing a miniseries for TNT called INTO THE WEST, so I worked stunts in that. They hired a bunch of Indian guys to do stunt riding, especially episodes 4 and 5. Episode 4 was the one where they had the most riding – it was called HELL ON WHEELS.”

Steve Reevis, from the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, an actor with a long string of credits, is a good friend and mentor to Cody, and convinced him to move to Los Angeles. His first job in L.A. was a film called THE HIRED GUN, which sounds like a Western, but isn’t. “It was a modern-day crime movie. That was fun; that was the first thing I worked on. I knew a stunt guy by the name of Kerry Wallum, down in Texas, and he was coming here around the same time that I was, to work on that movie. He got me on that, maybe two weeks after I came out to California, so I thought, ‘Alright – two weeks and I’m already on a film set.’ (laughs) I spent the rest of the year working at Home Depot in Burbank.

“Mostly on HIRED GUN I was doing a lot of driving. It was my first chance to do something besides riding horses – they had a lot of hard driving scenes in there. I had a scene where I had a fight with a couple of cops. They ended up giving me some lines, but they got cut from the movie: when I went to the premiere, they weren’t in there.” He’s also done some modeling. “I was in the Native American Men’s Calendar for 2009.” I asked him what month. “It was actually May and December. (laughs) Yeah, I got two months out of that one. They called me for this year’s, but I’ve been gone so much I missed out on being in the 2011 one.

“When I came out here I just wanted to be a stuntman, that was my big thing, but you know they’re just not making enough westerns these days. And being labeled an ‘Indian stuntman’ can make it even tougher, because then you’re afraid they’re only going to call you if they need Indian guys who can ride or whatever. I’ve done six different things this year, and every one has been Indian-related. I realize that’s my look, how people see me. I can change my hair, but I can’t grow much facial hair. I came out looking just to be a stuntman, but Steve pointed out, you can act a lot longer than you can be a stuntman, so I’ve been giving acting a try. I started acting classes about a year ago, and I’ve really switched my focus to acting. It’s kind of half and half right now.”

I asked him about TRUE GRIT. “I was actually working on another set when I got the phone call, on a show called DEADLIEST WARRIOR: AZTEC JAGUAR VS. ZANDE WARRIOR, for Spike TV. I played the main Aztec warrior in that episode. I was supposed to work background stunts that day, but I got there, and they ended up making me the main guy, so that was pretty cool. So I was on the set, and I got the call, the lady said the Coen Brothers were down in Austin, going through (pictures) picking out people they’re going to use in Texas. And they like me, and a friend of mine, Picarni Reevis, Steve’s son. They were picking six Indian men and six Indian women. I was told there’d be horse riding, a scene in a Wild West show. When we got there, they had changed their minds, and we wouldn’t be riding. So we’re just standing around in this area where they do the Wild West show. That’s the scene. The other four guys were hired local, from the Austin area. They were going to just use Texans, but the Coen brothers like our looks, so they brought us in from California. At one point they had us six guys and the six women lined up, and the camera goes by us. Then there were shots of us mixed in with the cowboys and Annie Oakley. So now I don’t know what you’re going to see in that scene – and if you see any of us, it’s going to be kind of quick, I’m afraid. But Pikuni and I were there, and we got introduced to the Coen brothers. They were asking, ‘How’s your father, Steve?’ Because they’d used Steve in FARGO back in ’93.”

I asked him if he’d seen the original TRUE GRIT, with John Wayne. “Yeah, I actually saw it for the first time in May, when we were in Texas. My mother is living in Texas now, and when I was visiting with her, we watched it. I liked it. I didn’t know I was going to see a young Robert Duvall – I didn’t know he was in the original. And Dennis Hopper – he got killed early.” Did he like westerns before he started working in them?

“Yeah, I really did. For me, growing up, I really remember YOUNG GUNS. GERONIMO, of course DANCES WITH WOLVES. I’ve always loved those movies. I want to eventually make my own western, and I hope to do it on my grandpa’s place. He ranches on a little over ten thousand acres, so he’s got some pretty scenic-looking areas, places where you could have a camera and not see any modern stuff. I’ve got one I’m writing right now, and I’d like to take a shot at directing it. But if I could find someone who’s experienced, and saw my same vision, I’d be willing to let them direct it, as long as we could get the thing made.”

I asked him about COWBOYS & ALIENS. “That’s one that a guy named Rod Rondeau brought me on. He’s from the Crow Reservation in Montana. He knew me from when we did INTO THE WEST. He did a lot of stunts in it, and he had a big acting role, as Roman Nose. In episode four we had horses, we’re laying down, then we jump up, ride them up next to this wagon, and a guy jumps from his horse to the wagon, throws a couple of guys off, and then he jumps from the seat to some of the horses – that was Rod. Rod called me back in April, said he was putting together a group of guys to go to New Mexico. I rode with him most of the summer, and he said, ‘You’re going to be one of my guys I go to New Mexico with.’

“In COWBOYS & ALIENS I was one of the Apaches riding in the group, where the Apaches and the cowboys get together to fight off the alien invasion, in the town of Absolution. It’s supposed to be set in Arizona, but they shot it in New Mexico. A lot of hard horse-riding. They had us shooting down arrows at aliens that weren’t there, that they’ll add later. There was also some wiring going on, where someone would be pulled back out of their saddle or up into the air, supposedly by aliens. I’d see Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig or director Jon Favreau in passing. I got to meet Olivia Wilde, our female lead, and she was very nice. But a lot of the stuff we were doing was stunts, was 2nd unit. Terry Leonard was 2nd unit director, and I did get to meet and talk with him several times, which is very cool because he’s kind of a legend, because he started out doing stunts in Westerns, and now he’s 2nd unit director. He doubled for a lot of the western stars – he’s our Yakima Canutt.”

What else is in the works? “WUSS is a film we made in Dallas, Texas this summer, and we’re supposed to hear pretty soon if it’s accepted into SUNDANCE. The director already had one of his films shown there last year, so SUNDANCE is expecting him to come back with this one. It was cool because I did get a real acting role, and if it does get accepted into Sundance it would be some good exposure. And WARRIOR’S HEART is a modern film that I got to do some stunt-work in as a lacrosse player. They were looking for native guys who had played lacrosse in the past. Adam Beach is the main native guy in that one, mentoring a kid who lost his father. He also plays Nat Colorado in COWBOYS & ALIENS.”

And there’s one more Western. “DAWN OF CONVICTION is supposed to come out after the first of the year – it’s just going to go film festivals first. It’s made by a production company called Companion Pictures, in association with The University of Fairfield, in Connecticut. A couple of guys graduated from the university, and then went back there with this Western they’d written. And the film program director liked it so much that they got the University, and some more money, behind it. It’s kind of a student film/independent film. And the crew was students working for credit for their class. We filmed it in June of 2009, in and around the Black Hills of South Dakota, kind of close to Mt. Rushmore. That’s one I’m kind of excited about, it’s the one that I call my first acting role. It’s a small role, but I was on set for a couple of weeks, and it was a great experience, with a lot of other young actors. I’ve been on some really big sets, really grateful for that, but this had to be my funnest shoot ever. We shot with really nice Sony HD cameras from the university. We’re out on a 70,000 acre ranch, just a sea of grass. At base-camp they had cabins and trailers for us to stay in. A lot of the actors and crew were from New York and Connecticut, who’d never done any camping. The night we wrapped filming, a bunch of them didn’t stay in their cabins – they got around a big campfire and slept out there – they just wanted to sleep under the stars. It was a real experience for a lot of them. I don’t know if it’s going to be as good as TRUE GRIT, but it’s going to be a good one.” CLICK HERE to see a trailer for DAWN OF CONVICTION and visit the official website.

WILL ROGERS TRIBUTE AT LASKY-DEMILLE BARN WEDNESDAY 12/8

Cowboy Will Rogers became a vaudeville star with an astonishing rope-tossing routine that was billed as a ‘dumb act’, that is, one performed silently. Eddie Cantor said it was Ziegfeld Follies co-star W.C. Fields who convinced him that he was funny enough to talk on stage, and the rest is history. On Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m., the Hollywood Heritage Museum will present An Evening With Will Rogers, featuring his great-granddaughter, Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry, who will discuss her predecessor’s legacy in film, print and radio. Also on hand will be Todd Vradenburg, Executive Director of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation and Board President of the Will Rogers Foundation.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will premiere several documentaries produced for their Will Rogers DVD Collection, including ‘Back To The Ranch’, with family interviews, and ‘Jane Withers Remembers’, with reminiscences from Withers about their friendship when they were both making movies at Fox. Additionally, film historian Stan Taffel will screen rare film clips from his collection. The event costs $10 for the public, $5 for Hollywood Heritage members, and is, delightfully, located in Hollywood’s original studio, right across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, at 2100 Highland Avenue. For more information, CLICK HERE.

FREE THURSDAY LUNCHTIME SCREENING OF 'RED AND WHITE: GONE WITH THE WEST' DOWNTOWN

The Jules Verne Adventures folks -- the ones who brought you last year's WILD BUNCH 40TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING, and last month's Steve McQueen event, are presenting the documentary film narrated by Ernest Borgnine. They describe the movie as, "A journey unto the American Wild West, between past and present, from Buffalo Bill's last gleaming hopes to the Native Americans ressurection." It's at the Jules Verne Pocket Theatre at 7th and Figueroa. For details, CLICK HERE.

WILLIAM S. HART’S ‘THE DARKENING TRAIL’ AT THE EGYPTIAN SATURDAY 12/11

Hart, the first great actor of the Western screen, starred and made his directorial debut in this 1915 story of unrequited love, infidelity and revenge in frontier Alaska. Showing at 7:30 in the Speilberg Theatre (which I think is the smaller one in back), it is part of the Egyptian’s Retroformat Series, screening movies in obsolete formats, because that’s often the only way they are available. They’ll be showing an 8mm film print. Also in the program, a 1915 Pacific Electric film on trolley safety, and D. W. Griffith’s OIL AND WATER (1913) starring Blanche Sweet. For more information, CLICK HERE.


It's almost two a.m., Monday morning, so I'm not going to get the rest of this week's report up until later in the day. But please check back, there's more interesting stuff!

Adios,

Henry

All Contents Copyright December 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WEST OF THE PODCAST











(Updated Thursday 12/2/2010 see SCREENINGS - LITTLE BIG MAN)
About a year ago at this time, I had just finished reading THE GIFT OF THE MAGI to a 4th grade class, and I told them that its author, O. Henry, was also the creator of The Cisco Kid. It’s the sort of dumb thing I often say to kids – it means as much as telling them, “Aristophanes also wrote ‘The Clouds.’” But to my surprise and delight, a girl said, “Really? I love the Cisco Kid!”
“Where have you seen the Cisco Kid?” I asked.
To my yet greater astonishment, she replied, “I haven’t seen him. I love the radio show. My dad has a collection of them, and when we go on driving trips, he brings them along and plays them.” If you’ve never heard radio drama, or if you have kids who haven’t been exposed to it yet, it’s time.

I’m a big fan of old time radio, or OTR, as the aficionados call it. I mostly listen in transit – on tape or CD, depending on what the car in question plays – and the biggest problem I have with it is the cost. Good collections, which I’ve reviewed in the past and no doubt will again, generally cost $29 and up – a considerable investment for shows I’ll only listen to once – at least only once every few years.

But the good news is that a tremendous amount of great OTR programming – including great Western programming – is available absolutely free online. If you have an iPod, iPhone, or any other gadget that can play mp3 files, you’re good to go – I’ll tell in a moment how to hook yourself up. The reason that these shows are available for free is that most radio shows were never copyrighted: they’re in the public domain. In fact, many radio shows were performed and broadcast live, and never professionally recorded at radio stations; they’d be lost if they hadn’t been copied by fans with amateur equipment.

One of the great podcast-sharing benefactors is known as ‘Botar’ – if you search that name on-line or in the iTunes Store podcast directory, you’ll find a ton of shows, including some of the best Westerns. He told me, “My grandfather used to read through Louis L’amour novels like they were candy. I grew up in Denver, Colorado, and all my kin live in Nebraska, so I do have a little western blood in me. Tales of the Texas Rangers was one of the first OTR series that I fell in love with. Then I started listening to Fort Laramie, and thought that it was the greatest.” It didn’t hurt that, as a child, he’d spent time in both Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Each series he found he liked better than the one before. “Then I found Six Shooter, started listening to Frontier Gentleman, then Have Gun Will Travel. And now I’m sixty shows deep into the 480 episodes of Gunsmoke, and I think it was the best OTR series ever.”

(pictures, top to bottom: Gunsmoke cast, William Conrad, Geirgia Ellis, Howard McNear, Parley Baer - as they looked doing the show; as we imagined them; Raymond Burr in his Fort Laramie days; John Dehner in his radio guise; John Dehner onscreen; James Stewart doing a radio show with Roy and Dale; James Stwart in Winchester 73; Young Buffalo Bill poster; two more Chiefs from the series)

Why did he get involved with podcasting? “My website evolved out of frustration at the amount of money ‘they’ charged for OTR CDs, and the free but incomplete and low quality OTR shows available in the early days of ‘peer 2 peer’ (i.e. napster, etc.) sharing. So I keep my site free of charge, and use podcasting to keep OTR listening and collecting as painless as possible.”

For those not familiar with those series mentioned – all of which are available as free podcasts, Tales of the Texas Rangers is a western crime series, based on Texas Rangers files, and starring Joel McCrea as Ranger Jayce Pearson. Six Shooter, starring James Stewart as Britt Ponsett, is a sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted series about a man famous for his speed with a gun, but who tries not to use it. It later moved to television as The Restless Gun, starring John Payne. Have Gun Will Travel went the opposite direction: already a popular TV series starring Richard Boone, a radio version was created, starring John Dehner in the role of Palladin. Frontier Gentleman had the unusual premise of following a reporter for the London Times as he travelled across the American west, writing his column. This series also starred John Dehner, who rarely tried to sound British, but settled for ‘classy,’ which is how he always sounded. Fort Laramie starred pre-Perry Mason Raymond Burr as Lee Quince, Captain of Cavalry at the Fort, and was pretty dark, adult western stuff.

How do you get the shows? Go to the iTune store and click ‘podcasts.’ In the search window on the upper right, type the title of the show of your choice, followed by the word ‘botar,’ and you’ll be directed to a page where you can choose from at least forty shows from each series, whether you wish to get single episodes, several, or to subscribe and get them weekly – if they’re currently being posted weekly. If you have an iPhone, you need to purchase an ap that’ll cost you two bucks, but that’s it. Otherwise, just like all podcasts, they’re free.

If you’re looking for a wider mix of shows, shows for the whole family, or the classic Gunsmoke, you’ll need to search for programs provided by a company known variously as Radio Nostalgia Network and HD Productions. They offer a regular podcast of Cisco Kid, and one of The Lone Ranger. And of course, they offer the finest of all Western radio series, Gunsmoke, with Matt Dillon portrayed by William Conrad, considered by many (like me for instance) to be the best radio actor of all time. Under the title Western Wednesdays is a wide variety of shows, from Roy Rogers to Tom Mix to Gene Autry, and a host of others. Often you can’t tell what you’re getting until you’ve downloaded it, but that’s part of the fun. They’ve also recently added a few TV episodes, from Wagon Train and Stories of the Century, an early Republic series. Under the titles Wagons West and Cowboy Theatre you’ll find other varied western selections.

I’ve focused on the two outfits who put out the most western shows, and whose material I’ve listened to for a few years. But there are others, and it’s worth searching around, especially if you have a specific want that’s hard to find. For instance, if you want to listen to William Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy, the bad news is that no one is doing a regular podcast. But the good news is, if you search under ‘Hopalong Cassidy podcast’ you’ll find 35 individual episodes posted by different outfits.

So happy listening, and if you give OTR podcasts a try, let me know how your experience was.

RFD-TV CONTINUES ROY ROGERS FLICKS WITH ‘YOUNG BUFFALO BILL’


This Saturday, December 4th it’s Young Buffalo Bill (1940), again directed by the great Joe Kane, and featuring Gabby Hayes, and a tale of dubious Spanish land grants. And there’s still another airing or two of this week’s West of the Badlands (aka Border Legion). Dusty and Dustin continue their hosting duties from Mickey Gilley’s Theatre in Branson, and the program wraps up with musical clips of Roy and Dale, and Dusty and the High Riders performing.

And because it’s not too late to correct problems in future episodes, I’m going to make a couple of suggestions. First, giving the cast and crew at the beginning helps get you in the mood, but they’re giving so much of the plot away that, unless you plug your ears and yell (like I do), you’ll know so much going in that there’s no sense in watching it. Second, considering that almost all the commercials are selling Bullet and Trigger gear and subscriptions to the RFD-TV magazine, is it also necessary to have additional ads for those subscriptions running, during the movie, on the bottom of the screen, for minutes at a time?

Also on RFD-TV Wednesday Dec. 1st at 12:30 pm on Equestrian Nation, you can see Roy Rogers in one of his last interviews.


INDIAN CHIEF CIGARETTE INSERT CARDS


Here are the next two cigarette insert cards in the set I started running last week. The actual cards measure 1 ½” by 2 ¾ ”, and are the ‘Celebrated American Indian Chiefs’ collection, from Allen & Ginter of Richmond, Virginia, and date from 1888. The cards are so beautiful that I’ve decided to share the fifty-card set with the Round-up readers, two at a time. I hope you enjoy them.

D. W. GRIFFITH SCREENING

Monday, November 29th, the Academy will present GRIFFITH IN CALIFORNIA – HOLLYWOOD’S EARLIEST FILMS FROM A CENTURY AGO at the Linwood Dunn Theatre. The bad news is that the show is sold out, but the good news is that there are always some no-shows, and people who show up early usually get in. For more details, CLICK HERE.

SCREENING - 'LITTLE BIG MAN' AT THE NEW BEVERLY THURSDAY

In tribute to the late Arthur Penn and the late Dede Allen, the New Beverly Cinema will screen a double bill of BONNIE AND CLYDE and LITTLE BIG MAN. They play at 7:30 and 9:45 respectively. I have great respect for both filmmakers, loved Bonnie and Clyde, but much as I enjoyed Chief Dan George, I absolutely despised Little Big Man. But hey, it's all subjective.

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.

TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE

Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.

NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?

Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

That's it for now, pards. I've got a few interesting things cooking for the next few report, but I'm not gonna jinx myself for talking about them before they're a done deal.

Henry

All Contents Copyright November 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OLD TUCSON GAINS MUCH-NEEDED 'STARDUST'






















Stardust and The Bandit, the western-themed comedy pilot recently shot at the historic Old Tucson Studios, was co-written and co-directed by Dick Fisher and Sarah Sher. Its broad comedy and western background is quite a departure from the very Eastern movie Fisher made his reputation with: he produced, photographed and edited The Brothers McMullen. That film, about three Irish brothers in New York, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and was a career-maker for both Fisher and writer/director/star Edward Burns. “It was actually Fox Searchlight’s first release, when they started that specialty division at Fox. They’ve just done a magnificent job in marketing it (over the years). I’m hoping they’ll be having a Blu-Ray re-release of it.”

But Fisher started out not in independent features, but on local news in Utica, New York. “Upstate was beautiful. I went to visit my sister, who went to Hamilton College, in Clinton, and I just fell in love with the area. I was an undergraduate, working in construction, building the world’s largest brewery. One day, driving along, I just pulled off the highway at the Newhouse School and said, ‘What do I have to do here to get a Masters degree, because I’m on the wrong track, and I really want to be a filmmaker.’ I got a Masters Degree there, and through connections I had in Syracuse, I got a job at the local television station in Utica in 1978, shooting newsreels. You’d come to work, they’d give you a 400’ can of 16mm film (about ten minutes worth), you’d shoot a few stories, and they had a (film) processor in a garage by the television station. And I got to process my own film, edit my own film, and put it on the air. It was a fantastic experience with the full range of work in film.”

After several years there, he moved to New York City, started his own production company, Technical Services, and began working in the burgeoning tabloid TV field as a location cameraman. Over the next several years, his many clients included HARD COPY, CURRENT AFFAIR, LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS, P.M. MAGAZINE, and ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. “Entertainment Tonight was one of my early clients, and Ed Burns was my production assistant -- that’s how we got to know each other. And we discovered that we both had a love for film, and an ambition to make film. He engaged me to shoot an earlier film he’d written, called Brandy, and we had a great time, but we couldn’t sell it. So we decided to do it again – we had a very specific idea of why we couldn’t sell it, and how go make a film that we could sell.”

The result was The Brothers McMullen. Unless it’s a one-man movie, it’s unusual for one person to be both cinematographer and editor on a feature. And it’s just about unheard of for someone to be producer as well – generally producers are not at all technical. “Photography is my first love, cinematography, but the fact that I understand editing has certainly made me a very effective cinematographer. Because no matter how beautiful a shot is, if it doesn’t cut into your sequence, you’re just spinning your wheels.

“Working on those (tabloid) shows -- shooting every day, for years and years -- gives you a level of professionalism, gives you the chops to be able to shoot something that’s going to be acceptable to distributers. And it gave me the level of success that allowed me to work on independent films, because I was prepared to finance them. Steven Spielberg, working with his parents’ 8MM camera probably did a great job, but you couldn’t sell them. (It’s not like) now, when you have films like Paranormal Activity – with equipment like the DSLR cameras -- where you can create high definition, high quality images (for so little money). Blair Witch is another example – until Blair Witch, The Brothers McMullen was the most profitable independent – not highest gross, but most profitable. Our delivery cost was between four hundred and five hundred thousand, and they made fourteen or fifteen million in domestic gross. But the Blair Witch people don’t have the same happy story that Eddy and I do. We own The Brothers McMullen and share the profits with Fox Searchlight, and it’s still making money. Blair Witch grossed over a hundred million at the box office, but the guy who made it certainly didn’t get any fraction of that.”

What brought him from New York to Arizona in the mid-90s was an ailing relative, and the conviction that, with his track record as a writer and producer, he could live and work anywhere. And he was looking forward to working there, “…because I was aware of the incredibly rich history of filming in Tucson.” Built in 1939 for Arizona, Old Tucson Studios had been the location of over 300 movie and TV shoots, including Broken Arrow (1950), 3:10 to Yuma (1957), Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957), Peckinpah’s first -- The Deadly Companions (1961), Joe Kidd (1972), Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Tom Horn (1980), Tombstone (1993), and a slew of John WaynesRio Bravo (1959), McClintock (1963), El Dorado (1966) and Rio Lobo (1970). What Fisher could not anticipate was that in 1995, an arson fire would devastate the studio, destroying sets, the soundstage, and all of the costumes and props for Little House on the Prairie. Most of the destroyed sets were re-built, but, “…they decided not to rebuild their soundstage. At the same time, the American dollar was strong and the Canadian dollar was weak, and Canada came up with the brilliant plan of tax rebates, which moved so much of the work to Canada.

“Losing the soundstage really killed the film business in Tucson, and Arizona in general. New Mexico started giving no-interest loans to stimulate the film business, but Arizona never got their act together about joining that party. Old Tucson’s (situation) is unusual. It’s inside a County Park, which is good, because it means that the vistas in all directions are protected from development: when you’re in the town square, you point the camera in any direction and you see mountains and deserts, you don’t seen houses and buildings. The downside of that for investors is you cannot buy the land – you can only lease it for however many years. So people were reluctant to make a large investment in a new soundstage. The people that own it now have not developed it as an active studio. It’s sort of a roadside attraction.

“A little over a year ago, Sarah Sher said to me, ‘I’m sick of complaining that we don’t have work. Let’s do something. Let’s make a television pilot that has several purposes, one of which is to demonstrate to the world what a great motion picture location this is. To show people that we have the talent here in Tucson to make motion pictures and television. And maybe inspire somebody to spend some money and make another soundstage here and get some work.’”

“If nothing else, I’m pragmatic, so we decided to get the most out of what already exists at Old Tucson. (We wrote) a fish out of water story: an accountant for the mob (Scott Thomas) is put into the Witness Protection Program, and the job that they give him is bookkeeper at Old Tucson, as it exists now – a roadside attraction. He’s a ‘Mr. Bean’ sort of character, in a suit with glasses and a briefcase, supposed to work in a back room, keep his head down. Then, when a performer in their stunt show gets dragged away by a horse, a beautiful chorus line dancer (Shanna Brock) pulls him up on stage; they put him into a cowboy outfit – he ends up being in the show. And of course the mobster he’s supposed to testify against shows up with his family on vacation.

“We wrote the script, and Pete Mangelsdorf, CEO at Old Tucson, liked it, and he signed on as executive producer, and Old Tucson Studios itself as a co-producer. Everyone in the film community jumped on, worked for deferred pay, and we were able to use everything they have at Old Tucson – the stunt performers, the locations. They fed us and picked up the insurance, and did all of the technical things you need even if you’re making a no-budget production. I have the credentials, if you will, for making a successful no-budget production.

“We shot for two weeks and this was just the most fun I’ve had on a set. When we got to the last shot of the last day, I called ‘cut! Any problems?’ And the crew said, ‘Let’s not stop! Let’s do more!’ They all wanted to keep working. Even working deferred it was a joy, just so much fun to be out there, working at Old Tucson – to be directing a Western at Old Tucson – the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck at times just thinking, now I’m part of the history. I’m an Eastern guy, I was born in Brooklyn. But what American boy is not in some way affected by the cowboys? Being an American, for better or worse, there’s the poetry of being a cowboy. If it’s not in our DNA, it’s in our rearing: we’re all cowboys.

“We’re just finishing the rough-cut now, and we have a few technical sound issues, and I want to get some music written. And we’re looking to get it into the marketplace and have people get interested in it.

“And of course, what we would like -- the genesis of the whole idea -- would be to have this create something like HIGH CHAPARRAL, one of the shows that was really part of the fabric of Tucson before. We want to weave ourselves back into the fabric of filmmaking in Southern Arizona, and hopefully that’s what we’ll be able to do.”

Meanwhile, Dick’s next assignment is very different. “I was just engaged to be director of photography on a project that’s being financed and filmed up on the Gila River Indian Community. It’s written and directed by a Native American up there. It’s a contemporary coming-of-age (story) called Second Circle, about a young Indian who has to deal with the gang-bangers and the taggers and drug dealers, and whether he can live more to the traditional ideals of his community, or whether he’ll get drawn to that dark side of American society. It’s a very interesting script. The Gila River tribe runs one of the casinos up there, and the producer, Tony Estrada, who is a Navajo, pitched to them the idea that they would create and own this film, but at the same time have this training (program) for the film industry, for their community members.”

To learn more about Stardust and The Bandit, visit their Facebook page HERE.

FIRST TRAILER FOR ‘COWBOYS AND ALIENS’ RELEASED

CLICK HERE to check it out! The Jon Favreau - directed Sci-Fi Western, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde is set for a July 29th, 2011 release.


REEL INJUN WINS THREE GEMINI AWARDS


At the star-studded 25th Annual Gemini Awards, the Canadian Oscars, the documentary Reel Injun, see my review HERE, won three awards. The entertaining and informative look at the Indian’s image in Hollywood westerns won Best Direction For a Documentary, Best Visual Research, and the prestigious Canada Award, which recognizes work that explores racial and cultural diversity in Canada. To learn when and where you can see this film, visit the official website HERE.


INDIAN CHIEF CIGARETTE INSERT CARDS


Doing some much-needed office cleaning I came upon a set of cards which my father gave me more than thirty years ago. These are cigarette insert cards, the forerunner of bubble-gum cards, and measure 1 ½” by 2 ¾ ”. They are the ‘Celebrated American Indian Chiefs’ collection, from Allen & Ginter of Richmond, Virginia, and if my on-line research is correct, they date from 1888. The cards are so beautiful that I’ve decided to share the fifty-card set with the Round-up readers, two at a time. I hope you enjoy them.

‘DEATH VALLEY DAYS’ CREATOR’S BIRTHDAY

Sources disagree by ten days, but either last Tuesday the 16th or next Friday the 26th would be the birthday of Ruth Woodman. Born in New York State in 1894, the Vassar graduate, mother of two and wife of an investment banker, was a copywriter for an advertising agency when, in 1930, she was asked to create a radio show for the Pacific Coast Borax Company. The result was the fact-and-folklore-based anthology series, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, which ran on radio from 1930 until 1945. It then moved to television, and ran from 1952 to 1975, producing 558 TV episodes. Woodman wrote the entire first five TV seasons herself, adapting her radio scripts.

Woodman frequently visited Death Valley for inspiration, and on her first trip there ran into Death Valley Scotty. She contributed to other TV series as well, and wrote one feature, Last of The Pony Riders (1953) for Gene Autry. She served as story editor her retirement in 1959, but still contributed scripts until her death in 1970, at the age of 75. You can find every single episode of the TV series for sale if you search on-line. I suspect they’re bootlegs, but I’m no lawman. If you’d like to listen to a couple of the radio shows, CLICK HERE.

D. W. GRIFFITH UPDATE

I was happy to receive some positive feedback about my criticism last week of the Directors Guild of America’s decision, a decade ago, to strip Griffith’s name from an award because of the racially offensive Birth of a Nation – for details, see last week’s entry. To my surprise, I learned there is an on-line petition to get his name put back on. I don’t know anything about who is running the campaign, but if you’re interested in learning more, and signing the petition, CLICK HERE. For those who would like to see some of Griffith’s work, on Monday, November 29th, the Academy will present GRIFFITH IN CALIFORNIA – HOLLYWOOD’S EARLIEST FILMS FROM A CENTURY AGO at the Linwood Dunn Theatre. The bad news is that the show is sold out, but the good news is that there are always some no-shows, and people who show up early usually get in. For more details, CLICK HERE.

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepeneur Gene Autry, and designed by the Disney Imagineering team, the Autry is a world-class museum housing a fascinating collection of items related to the fact, fiction, film, history and art of the American West. In addition to their permenant galleries (to which new items are frequently added), they have temporary shows. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21ST LOS ENCINOS LIVING HISTORY DAY

On this day, and the third Sunday of every month, Los Encinos State Historic Park, located at 16756 Moorpark St. in Encino,91436, has a Living History Day. From one to three p.m. enjoy music, period crafts, a blacksmith, docents in 1870s attire, tours of the historic buildings, and traditional children’s games.

HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM

Across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, this building, once the headquarters of Lasky-Famous Players (later Paramount Pictures) was the original DeMille Barn, where Cecil B. DeMille made the first Hollywood western, The Squaw Man. They have a permanent display of movie props, documents and other items related to early, especially silent, film production. They also have occasional special programs. 2100 Highland Ave., L.A. CA 323-874-2276. Thursday – Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. $5 for adults, $3 for senior, $1 for children.

WELLS FARGO HISTORY MUSEUM

This small but entertaining museum gives a detailed history of Wells Fargo when the name suggested stage-coaches rather than ATMS. There’s a historically accurate reproduction of an agent’s office, an original Concord Coach, and other historical displays. Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Admission is free. 213-253-7166. 333 S. Grand Street, L.A. CA.


FREE WESTERNS ON YOUR COMPUTER AT HULU


A staggering number of western TV episodes and movies are available, entirely free, for viewing on your computer at HULU. You do have to sit through the commercials, but that seems like a small price to pay. The series available -- often several entire seasons to choose from -- include THE RIFLEMAN, THE CISCO KID, THE LONE RANGER, BAT MASTERSON, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, and one I missed from 2003 called PEACEMAKERS starring Tom Berenger. Because they are linked up with the TV LAND website, you can also see BONANZA and GUNSMOKE episodes, but only the ones that are running on the network that week.

The features include a dozen Zane Grey adaptations, and many or most of the others are public domain features. To visit HULU on their western page, CLICK HERE.

TV LAND - BONANZA and GUNSMOKE

Every weekday, TV LAND airs a three-hour block of BONANZA episodes from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They run a GUNSMOKE Monday through Thursday at 10:00 a.m., and on Friday they show two, from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.. They're not currently running either series on weekends, but that could change at any time.

NEED YOUR BLACK & WHITE TV FIX?

Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run DANIEL BOONE at 1:00 p.m., and two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.. On Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. it's THE RIFLEMAN again, followed at 2:30 by BAT MASTERSON. And unlike many stations in the re-run business, they run the shows in the original airing order. There's an afternoon movie on weekdays at noon, often a western, and they show western films on the weekend, but the schedule is sporadic.

Keep those e-mails and cimments comin', and have a great Thanksgiving!

Adios, Pilgrim

Henry

All Contents Copyright November 2010 by Henry C Parke -- All Rights Reserved