Sunday, March 13, 2011


(Updated Tuesday 3/15/2011)
I think most of us had assumed that the big-screen version of THE BIG VALLEY was in the can some months ago, but word from 20th Century Fox is that it’s currently on hiatus, and will resume shooting in mid-May, to be finished in the fall, with no release date set yet. The new version stars Jessica Lange in Barbara Stanwyck’s role of Victoria Barkley, Travis Fimmel in Lee Major’s role of Heath, Jason Alan Smith in Peter Breck’s role of Nick Barkley and Sara Paxton in Linda Evans’ role of Audra Barkley. Stephen Moyer of TRUE BLOOD fame had been announced in the role of Jarrod Barkley – originally Richard Long – but now no one is listed in that role. (Updated 3/15/11) I’ve confirmed that production delays caused Stephen Moyer to exit THE BIG VALLEY, due to his previous commitment to TRUE BLOOD. What is happening to the role of Jarrod Barkley I don’t yet know. Also of note in the cast are three actors who appeared on the original series, Bruce Dern, Buck Taylor, and Richard Dreyfus – Dreyfus plays real railroad exec and banker Charles Crocker. Aidan Quinn and John Savage also are featured, but the best casting of all is Lee Majors, the original illegitimate son Heath, who now plays his own father, Tom Barkley.

(Pics, top to bottom - TV's BIG VALLEY cast, Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in COWBOYS & ALIENS, Festival of the West banner, CHEYENNE WARRIOR poster, Baby Peggy in the saddle, Spaghetti Western Festival announcement,Keokuk's Son, King of the Crows)


Cowboys & Aliens, the comic-book-adapted film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde, is scheduled to reach theaters on July 29th. The screenplay is largely credited to the STAR TREK(2009)/TRANSFORMERS/MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 team of Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, although there are 7 – count ‘em – 7 other writing credits, including Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby for screenplay, Fergus, Ostby and Steve Oedekerk for screen story, and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg for the original comic book. Now, to muddy the waters further, a screenplay has been posted online, along with its own Facebook page, and getting a lot of praise from folks who say after reading it that they can’t wait to see the movie. That screenplay, by David Reskin and David Chute, who co-wrote CLICK: THE CALENDAR GIRL KILLER (1990) among others, is dated 1989, and although obviously based on the same source material, appears to have no direct connection to the movie currently in production.


Round-up regulars will remember that on February 27th I headlined the fact that several Wyatt Earp-centered projects were in the works, including the feature THE FIRST RIDE OF WYATT EARP, starring Val Kilmer. The movie is based on the murder of Dora Hand in 1878 Dodge City, Kansas, and I was lucky enough to be present this Wednesday, March 9th for the first day of principal photography. I hope to be back on-set next week, and I’ll be reporting details in next week-end’s Round-up.


Movie treasures from the George Eastman House Collection are now available online. Most are silent shorts, but there are also sound features, and some very odd and quirky stuff, like a Walt Disney short called CLARA CLEANS HER TEETH. Among those titles of particular interest to Western fans are HOW THE COWBOY MAKES HIS LARIAT (1920), RED EAGLE’S LOVE AFFAIR (1910), THE CONFEDERATE IRONCLAD (1912), THE COPPERHEAD (1918) starring Lionel Barrymore and ROARING RAILS (1924) starring Harry Carey. To take a look, CLICK HERE.


I’d gotten a little concerned at the difficulty of finding Roy Rogers on RFD-TV – first it disappeared from Saturday morning, then from the midnight showing as well. Were they trying to say ‘Happy Trails’ to Happy Trails Theatre? Happily, the folks at RFD say ‘no’, and proved it by giving me the schedule for the next three months. It turns out that two of RFD’s biggest money-makers are beef auctions and the Country Music Family Reunion. The noon showings are preempted by the auction, and the midnight by the Reunion – it’s their original time slot. So until the auctions end, and a better nighttime slot is found, we’ll have to settle for Thursday afternoons, 2:30 western and 5:30 eastern. On Thursday the 17th it’s MAN FROM OKLAHOMA.



The 21st Annual Festival of the West will take place starting this Thursday at Westworld in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to food and shopping and Western fashions, there’ll be an Extreme Cowboy Race, featuring 60 challenges and obstacles! Music will be provided by, among others, The Gatlin Brothers. The line-up of stars appearing includes William Smith, Peter Brown, Michael Dante, James Drury, Robert Fuller, Denny Miller, Dan Haggerty, L.Q. Jones, John Saxon, Clint Walker, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Sorbo. Authors include Jeff Hildebrand, Amanda Blake biographer Becky Burgoyne, and author and CHEYENNE WARRIOR screenwriter Michael Druxman. To learn more, CLICK HERE.


Screenings as part of their Preservation Festival include, on Monday, March 14th, THE FORGOTTEN VILLAGE (1941) from a screenplay by John Steinbeck, preceded by MEXICO IN THE HEARST METRONONE NEWS COLLECTION. And on Saturday, March 19th at 2:00 p.m. they will present the program BABY PEGGY: HOLLYWOOD’S TINY TITAN. The daughter of a cowboy and stuntman, Baby Peggy, co-starring with Brownie the Wonder-Dog, was a hugely popular star of Western child action comedy films in the 1920s. Few of her films have survived, but Baby Peggy has – she’s now known as Diana Serra Carey, and she will be present for the screening of several of her short films, and existing fragments of several more. (Here’s a historical note: a Baby Peggy film was the first movie to play at the Vista Theatre in Hollywood when it was opened in the early 1920s. The theatre was built at the intersection of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, where the Babylon sets for D. W. Griffith’s INTOLERANCE once stood. Over the decades the theatre and neighborhood lost its luster, and the Vista became a gay porn theatre. When it was turned into a revival house in the 1980s, Baby Peggy, who had attended the original opening decades before, attended the new ceremony, where gay porn director Fred Halsted handed the theatre keys over to her.)


The historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood will play host on Saturday, March 19th to the Los Angeles Spaghetti Western Festival. This all-day event will feature live music, screenings, and some very special guest stars, leading men Robert Woods (GATLING GUN, read our review HERE -- read our interview with Woods HERE); Michael Forest (NOW THEY CALL HIM SACRAMENTO, read our review HERE); Richard Harrison ($100,000 FOR RINGO); Brett Halsey (WRATH OF GOD); Dan van Husen (LIGHT THE FUSE…SARTANA IS COMING) and Jack Betts –a.k.a. Hunt Powers (DJANGO AND SARTANA), as well as actor, stunt coordinator and Western historian Neil Summers. JUST ADDED TO THE GUEST PANEL are Mark Damon and Edd 'Kookie' Burns! The movies to be screened will include the one that started it all, Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, plus GATLING GUN (courtesy of Dorado Films – click HERE for their site) and DEAD MEN DON’T COUNT (courtesy of Wild East productions – click HERE for their site). A live musical tribute to Ennio Morricone will be presented by The Insect Surfers, playing music from the album FOR A FEW GUITARS MORE. It all starts at 10:00 a.m. For all the details, go to the official website HERE. Just added -- BOOK SIGNING WITH DAVID FRANGIONI (6:30-7:15PM)Meet author David Frangioni for a book signing of “Clint Eastwood ICON.” The book presents an unprecedented collection of film art surrounding the legendary actor. This comprehensive trove gathers together poster art, lobby cards, studio ads, and esoteric film memorabilia from around the world.


Paul Apodaca (Navajo/Mixton), Ph.D., presents a lecture on how the very act of mapping a land can effect the lives and cultures of Native peoples. “Mapping has been used to divide Native peoples into differing nationalities, to limit the definition of land claims, and as a method for penetrating the homelands of people not under the control of American and European governments. The mapping expeditions of Lewis and Clark, John C. Fremont, and others gave the United States a tool for initiating political and social change.” Saturday, Mar 19, 2011, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm – admission is included with standard museum admission, but reservations are recommended.


There’s going to be so much going on at the Palm Springs Convention Center from Thursday through Sunday that I hardly know where to begin. There will be a PRCA Rodeo every day – including bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding; the Twangfest musical festival; Western Design Expo; a rodeo parade; barbecue; chili cook-off; a carnival; a Gene Autry Film Fest; talks by Bob Boze Bell of True West Magazine; talks by John Wayne co-star Eddie Faulkner remembering the Duke…. So much more than I can’t begin to fit it all in here – and aside from the rodeo, admission to everything is just five bucks a day! Also, although they officially say Westfest starts on March 24th, their event schedule starts on March 20th. CLICK HERE to go to the official site and learn more!


If you’re a reader of Westerns as well as a watcher, here is an event you should not miss! From 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. you can search the wares of dozens of book dealers from around the country. They run from the very rare and pricey to the battered and cheap. Serious paperback collectors go for unopened books in perfect condition, but I go for what are disparagingly called ‘reader copies,’ and have found dozens of obscure Luke Shorts and Zane Greys for a dollar or two each. Also, more than 45 authors will be signing their books, and unlike other autograph shows, THERE IS NO CHARGE! Most of the authors are sci-fi and mystery types – for a complete list and schedule, click HERE. The event is at the Valley Inn and Conference Center, 10621 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, CA 91345. For more information, call Tom Lesser at 818-349-3844 or Black Ace Books at 232-661-5052.


If you’ve ever wanted to write a western novel or story – of if you’ve written it, but don’t know how to get it published (my hand is raised), make plans to go to Out West, at 24265 Main Street in Newhall on Sunday, March 27th at 2:00 p.m. Author C. Courtney Joyner, the very talented and prolific screenwriter and western film historian, will discuss breaking into the western print market, agents, editors, networking, the changes at Leisure Books, ‘E’ publishing, university presses, contests, and publishers across the pond. Mr. Joyner knows whereof he speaks: in addition to a long string of screen credits, both as writer and director, he wrote the fascinating interview-book THE WESTERNERS (see my review HERE), and his excellent tale, The Two-bit Kill, is featured in the new western story collection, LAW OF THE GUN. The event is free. For reservations call 661-255-7087.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


This past Friday I was substitute teaching in a 5th grade class, and as the kids had read Jack London’s CALL OF THE WILD, they were now watching the movie. I caught the last half-hour or so. It had been made in 2000, for television, toplining Nick Mancuso. It had a framing device, with a grandfather telling the story, and to my surprise that grandfather was Hugh O’Brien, who did the part unbilled. It was not bad, but a far cry from the brilliant 1935 version, directed by William Wellman and starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young. I asked the teacher why they didn’t show the classic, expecting to be told because it’s in black and white, but the actual reason is that this one is G-rated, and there are no ratings on older films – you always have to be careful about upsetting parents and principals. She said there was a Charlton Heston version from 1972, but she couldn’t find it. I told her that I had a copy, which I’d never gotten around to watching, and I’d give it to her. I started watching it last night, and I doubt she’ll be able to show it – the fighting between dogs is very brutal. Also, Heston says in one of his books that he considers it the worst movie he ever made. Oh well!

Actually, the use of movies in classrooms goes back quite a ways. Back in 1939, when my mother’s history teacher fell behind in her curriculum, she caught up by skipping the Civil War, and assigning the kids to see GONE WITH THE WIND. My mother’s father, a school principal, was livid. Recently I’ve spoken to students who knew much more about the Civil War than I expected, and it turned out they’d seen GETTYSBURG and GODS AND GENERALS in class. That’s much better than the high school class where the students had read THE GREAT GATSBY, and were watching the movie – not the Alan Ladd or Robert Redford version -- but a TV one from 2000, where Paul Rudd played Gatsby AND Nick Carraway AND Tom Buchanan – or at any rate the parts were played by actors so alike that they couldn’t be distinguished. Incidentally Baz Luhrmann is directing a remake in Australia, starring Leo DeCaprio and Carey Mulligan, with Tobey Maguire as Nick. That sounds good, but -- and I'm not kidding -- it’s going to be in 3D! Paul Rudd’s version is sounding better and better. If you have a story about movies used in class, I’d like to hear it.

Well, it’s getting late, so I’m going to post this now, Sunday night, and tomorrow I’ll add the illustrations. Have a great week!



All contents copyright March 2011 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

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