Sunday, July 31, 2011

WHO IS MORGAN KANE?





That’s what the teaser poster asks, the eyes of the cowboy in the picture obscured by the angle of his battered Stetson, his right hand touching the brim, but probably not tipping it to a lady. What kind of a man is Morgan Kane? There’s a popular song by Benny Borg and the Penthouse Playboys, called A Man Like Morgan Kane, or the Ballad of Morgan Kane – you can find several versions on Youtube. But it won’t help you much, unless you happen to speak Norwegian.

You see, Morgan Kane is the most popular Western character in Norway. In 1893, Karl May took the German-speaking world by storm with his Winnetou and Old Shatterhand Western tales. Three quarters of a century later, a Norwegian banker named Kjell Hallbing did the same with Morgan Kane. Hallbing changed his own name to Louis Masterson, and between 1966 and 1978 – just twelve years -- he wrote 83 novels about the Texas Ranger and U.S. Marshall. They’ve sold twenty-million copies internationally – ten million in Norway alone, which has a population of only five million! They’re popular in Spain and France and Germany and, translated into English, they sold well in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada by Corgi Books.




But they’ve never been sold in the United States until now. Now several of the western tales are about to be issued here as e-books, which is why, a little more than a week ago, a crew gathered at Peter Sherayko’s Caravan West Ranch, to photograph ‘covers’ for the eBooks.

John Michaels, President of Production for WR Films explained, “We’re redoing the covers to make them a little more interactive, so when you go to the site to download the book, you see the cover, hit it, and you’ll get a two or three second video. We’re going to sell these e-books globally, as part of our awareness campaign for the film franchise.”




Because, just like you guessed, it’s really all about movies. The plan is to start with three movies. The first, to be titled MORGAN KANE: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS, will be based on two of the Kane novels, EL GRINGO and EL GRINGO’S REVENGE. Ryan Wiik, who created WR Films to make the Morgan Kane films, is from Norway, but with scarcely a hint of an accent. When the crew broke for lunch, I asked him how he pulled the project together.

RYAN: (laughs) I worked day and night for the last four years, almost. I was sitting with an investor in Spain, and we were talking about another movie project. And then he said, “You will do well with this. But what you really need to do, Ryan, is Morgan Kane.” And I didn’t even know what Morgan Kane was. He said, “It’s James Bond of the West. You need to do this.” It’s weaved through (American) history, the same way as Forrest Gump; it’s based on this book series that’s sold 20 million copies, and I was one generation too late for it. So I had to start researching, and reading the books. I’ve read forty or fifty by now.

HENRY: Wow, out of 83?

RYAN: (laughs) I’m playing catch-up. I’ve spent about two years securing the rights, pulling the people together that I thought were the right ones to do this. Started WR Films, and we’re getting closer.




HENRY: So today you’re shooting eBook covers.

RYAN: That is correct. We thought (the covers) needed modernizing; each cover will show the essential scene of each book.

HENRY: How many covers do you plan to do – not all 83, I assume.

RYAN: Over a few days, twenty-two covers.




HENRY: What kind of a hero is Morgan Kane?

RYAN: He’s more of an anti-hero. He drinks too much, he smokes too much – it’s always a battle with this guy.

HENRY: Do you think that’s a lot of his appeal?

RYAN: I think so; it makes him easy to identify with. Because he’s not this over-muscled man (who does) everything with the flick of a finger. He goes through a lot of struggles, he’s afraid of dying, and he gets nauseous whenever he kills someone. But he’s so focused, and trains so hard. It’s part of what sets him apart, but it’s more complex than that.


(John Michaels consults storyboards)


HENRY: Were you a big western fan before you got involved in this project?

RYAN: No, I wasn’t really. This is a new world to me. And it’s extraordinary to get back to the elements with this thing. I grew up in Norway, and the Wild West – I always liked it; I just was not a western buff.


(Peter Sherayko tells propman Zack Smith and Kyle Kalama how not to handle a single-action Colt)

HENRY: Are you influenced by any other western books or movies?

RYAN: I’ve been researching a lot of movies, watching everything -- THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. I’m trying to go through all the stuff I should have seen. And as far as books – I’ve got enough with these books, trying to get through all the material. I think the first movie will be what BATMAN BEGINS was for Batman, the origin. And we’re very excited about it.


(plenty of artillery to choose from)

A couple of days later I spoke again to John Michaels, who had just been looking at some of the footage. He was in a very good mood. “We felt good about it when we were shooting it, but it exceeded our expectations. We’re very satisfied with the performances. The costumes were very authentic, thanks to our consultant Peter Sherayko. We have some really great material to promote the project further.”

Michaels has a long history in film financing and producing in both the U.S. and Europe, but actually began on the other side of the camera. “I started my internship as an actor, in a film called THE ZERO BOYS in 1984. I wanted to learn more about the process, the physical production, so I started as an assistant to the producer, and I learned hands on how to do it.


(Costumer Nikki Pelley gets to act as well)

“One thing I found about working internationally for many years is there’s an absolute interest still in the United States, especially anything to do with the western genre and the desert and landscapes of the west. It peaks their curiosity much more than anything on the east coast: the rugged West. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and the west was always something of a fantasy to me. The discovery was when we travelled west on vacation, and it was everything we thought it was; it was boundless.

“But I learned (that Westerns) were not the most salable. It represented more risk than action-adventure or sci-fi. Certainly through the 1940s,’50s, ‘60s, ‘70s the western genre was very hot, especially domestically, before foreign markets became very important in the financing of films. People are still fascinated by the western genre of yesteryear, but the future has to have a hook. I don’t think you can do a traditional western per se, unless it’s a TNT original or other cable movie, where you don’t need big numbers for recoupment. People like to watch them; they’re family-safe generally.

“But our picture will be for adults. There will be violence in it – love, lust, money, greed, temptation, betrayal: all those wonderful things that make a theatrical picture. It’s going to be an actioner that can carry to foreign markets, appealing to the domestic, too, who warm up to these kinds of pictures, as evidenced by TRUE GRIT, and of course COWBOYS & ALIENS that is opening this weekend.”


There’s still a lot to do. They’re talking to directors and actors, but no one is set yet. They will be making announcements soon. And a first draft of the script is coming soon. “The script is being written while we speak. We have a very edgy writer who read the books and has a great understanding of the characters, of story. We’re expecting a first draft the first week in August. He’s an interesting guy, but he’s not a marquee name, at least not yet.”

What’s the approach to casting Morgan Kane? “It’ll more than likely be a non-familiar face. We’re going to break a new star with Morgan Kane, and have a very visible supporting cast to surround him. People won’t have a prejudice against this person coming in. They’ll see him as Morgan Kane – that’s our hope.


(Megan Albertus getting made-up to look man-handled)

“Our plan is to do it in New Mexico. It has the correct terrain, that stark western sagebrush look; also we’re enticed by the New Mexico tax incentive. And we feel that they have competent crews that’ve been established over the years. We want to make a big picture and put all the money onscreen.”

Kjell Hallbing died in 2004. I wondered how his son feels about the project. “He’s excited. There’s always been people who wanted to film Morgan Kane. There was a Norwegian television movie made about him, but it wasn’t very good, and that’s all that’s been done. We’re doing it on a large Hollywood scale. I think it’s going to be a real tribute to his father, and he’d love to see that happen.”


(Ardishir Radpour slightly ahead)

AMC’S ‘HELL ON WHEEL’S GETS PLAYDATE!

AMC announced today on Thursday that their Western series HELL ON WHEELS, centered on the building of the trans-continental railroad, will premiere on Sunday, November 6th, following an episode of their highly successful THE WALKING DEAD.

Starring Anson Mount, Colm Meany, Wes Studi, and Common, it follows Mount’s character, a former Confederate soldier out to avenge his wife’s death. The title refers to the traveling saloons, brothels and gambling dens that moved on wheels to follow the track-layers -- Historian Stephen Ambrose wrote a wonderful book on the subject by the same title. Here’s a preview:





BBC AMERICA ANNOUNCES NEW ‘EASTERN’ DRAMA SERIES

Not a Western but still of great interest, COPPER will take place in 19th Century New York City. It’s the story of a young Irish cop in the infamous, teeming immigrant community of Five Points, the area brilliantly portrayed in Herbert Asbury’s history, GANGS OF NEW YORK, later filmed by Martin Scorcese. The flatfoot will also be dealing with the black community of Harlem, and Manhattan high society. The first-ever original drama from BBC America, it will lens in Toronto, Canada starting this fall, and begin airing next summer. It will have a ten episode season.

It’s co-created by writer/producer Tom Fontana, who won Emmys for writing HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET and ST. ELSEWHERE, and recently wrote BORGIAS, and writer/producer Will Rokos, who was Oscar-nominated for writing MONSTERS BALL. In addition to Fontana and Rokos, series will be also exec-produced by Christina Wayne, late of AMC, where she exec’d on MAD MEN and the terrific BROKEN TRAIL, and Barry Levinson, whose writing, directing and producing credits would take all day to list, who won his Oscar for directing RAIN MAN, and is in pre-production to direct Al Pacino as GOTTI.


‘UNTITLED WESTERN’ ACTUALLY TITLED ‘THE MASTER’

In Facebook on Thursday I reported that a movie was being shot around 5th and Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles. My informant told me that there were many dress extras bustling about, and a glimpse in a production truck had revealed paperwork referring to the film as ‘Untitled Western.’ Further investigation on Friday revealed more, and the fact that the film was neither untitled nor a western, and I was not asked to say more until the location wrapped on Saturday.

The film is ‘THE MASTER,’ and the period is the 1950s. It’s a work by writer director Paul Thomas Anderson, who has previously brought you such films as BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA and THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Apparently The Master fiction story parallels the story of an actual religion started in the 1950s, and still quite active, and the filmmakers wish to keep a low profile. It stars Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.

TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

That's right, the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable 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.

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.

RFD-TV has begun airing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., with repeats the following Thursday and Saturday.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.

On Saturday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Pacific time, TCM is showing two chapters of ZORRO RIDES AGAIN, Republic’s fine western action serial, starring John Carroll, Duncan Renaldo, and featuring action directed by John English and William Whitney.

WHY THE ROUND-UP MAY SAY ‘HAPPY TRAILS’ TO TWITTER

When I started writing the Round-up about a year and a half ago, skeptics told me I’d never find any readers because you can’t balance a laptop on a saddle. I went ahead anyway, and thanks to you good people, I know I’m not wasting my time. For the record, I’m averaging now better than 2,600 hits a month, and growing. A few months ago I added a Facebook page, so that when news stories broke I wouldn’t have to keep rewriting the Round-up, and the Facebook page has been very successful as well.

I’d been encouraged to add a Twitter feed, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. It seemed to me that it was repetitive of Facebook, and not as good: you’re so restricted in the number of characters that about all you can say is ‘See Facebook page.’ Besides, no one cares what I’m doing every minute – not even me. And Tweeting stuff like, ‘Am waiting on line for C’boys n Aliens’ is like saying, “I’ll be away from my home for three hours if you’d like to rob it.”

But I thought I’d give it a try. I started my Twitter feed, and immediately had four followers: women so beautiful that I don’t believe any of them are real. Over the next several weeks I Tweeted interesting stories, and soon had six followers! I thought I was making progress. In truth, I had already peaked. I am now down to two followers, an actual Western person, and a beautiful woman from Alabama who likes NPR. Today I was checking for interesting stories, and came across a man who had just come back from seeing Cowboys & Aliens, and loved it. Great! I reTweeted it to all of (both) of my followers. Then I realized that the original message had come from my one Western guy, and I had Tweeted it back to him! And to the beautiful NPR-fancier in Alabama. I feel like a horse who’s been chasing his own tail. So unless anyone has a good reason not to, I’m going to let that last Tweet by my Twitter swan song.

That's it for tonight, folks! Keep an eye Facebook for updates, and on Twitter if you have nothing else to do! Next week, Part One of my interview with TV's BRONCO LAYNE, TY HARDIN!

Happy Trails,

Henry

All contents Copyright July 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 24, 2011

‘SHADOW HILLS’ PILOT ROLLS AT MELODY RANCH




Melody Ranch, the Newhall western movie town that’s been a home to filmmaking for about a century, is home base for the pilot for a new Western series, SHADOW HILLS. Created, written, co-produced by, and starring Lamont Clayton, it’s the story of Hessie Tatum, a former Union Army veteran and Buffalo Soldier. On Tuesday, July 12th I had the pleasure of visiting the set, watching the filming, and chatting with some of the principals.




Lamont Clayton (above right)and Scott Steel (above left) are co-producing SHADOW HILLS. Lamont plays the lead character, and Scott plays Syd the saloon-keeper. Friends for a decade, they’ve been involved in projects together before, but this is the first time on a TV series. Not that Scott is a stranger to the tube. A TV and radio host, he’s frequently seen and heard on Rick Dees In The Morning, and on VH1 and the E! Entertainment network.

This is not Lamont’s first western. He’s acted in GANG OF ROSES, BROTHERS IN ARMS, and produced and acted in RIDE OR DIE. I suspect Westerns hold a special place in his heart.

LAMONT: That’s true. I like westerns: I watch them every night before I go to bed – I watch the Encore Western Channel – I ride horses, and I always wanted to be in a western. I wanted to do a western series. So what we’re doing here, we’re shooting a pilot, and we’re going to shop it and see where it goes. I’ve surrounded myself with a bunch of stars, and their experience is going to make up for what I don’t know. This is my first major production.




SCOTT: We have John Amos, Bobby Brown, Jackee Harry -- and Tommy Davidson makes a cameo appearance. Lamont and I have been friends for a lot of time, and this is a passion project of his. It’s such a great story, and a message that Lamont’s wanted to get out for such a long time, regarding the Buffalo Soldiers and their history.

LAMONT: (People) don’t speak about the Buffalo Soldiers a lot. And I’m trying to give my community some heritage; who they are and where they came from. Because I don’t see a lot of it. I wanted to educate the youth, and help them see where we came from. And maybe it could change the direction that they’re going. (In the pilot, Hessie explains to his young brother that the Indians called the African American cavalrymen Buffalo Soldiers because they thought their curly hair looked the wooly coat of the buffalo.)

(make-up artist Pat Harris at work)


SCOTT: Not only has this TV show got action, it’s fun, it’s educational, there’s comic relief – it’s got everything. It’s one for the families. It’s a great cast, and a lot of fun just being on the set – there’s such energy. And we’re shooting here at Melody Ranch, which is amazing. You feel the history here, with Gene Autry, and they shot GUNSMOKE and they shot DEADWOOD here, and BONANZA – you really feel the energy. It’s a great vibe.

HENRY: Can you give me an outline of the show?

LAMONT: It’s about Hessie Tatum, a Civil War veteran who took his earnings and started a ranch, ten years after he was emancipated. He’s going through the trials and tribulations of being a black man in 1875, owning his own ranch in the Oklahoma Territory and breeding horses. And he’s raising his little brother that’s 14, Jonas, and he lives with his aunt Dessa. And his nemesis is Melvin Butler – played by Bobby Brown -- and his gang.

(Willy searches for Hessie. Below frame, Lamont holds horse in place)


HENRY: I understand the pilot story turns on who will win a horserace.

LAMONT: That’s right. I’ve bet my prize stallion on a horserace against Bobby Brown, and the last thing he says before the bet is ‘A no-show is a forfeit.’

HENRY: I’m not going to give away too much plot, but some of the story involves Comanche Indians.

LAMONT: We were shooting at the Chumash Museum. It was a reservation years ago, but now it’s a museum, and we used a lot of their artwork and things.

HENRY: Who’s your target audience?

LAMONT: I want anyone from twelve years old to eighty. I’m going to be putting in pop stars – Amber Rose was here yesterday, riding around on a one-eyed horse. She’s not going to be in this episode but Bone Thugs n Harmony are going to be in the pilot, leading up to the next episode. They’re just scoping out the town in this one.


(Bone Thugs n Harmony up to no good)


HENRY: When you were a kid did you watch a lot of westerns?

LAMONT: Every chance I’d get. My favorite one – the first one I can remember, when I was four or five years old – my baby sitter used to watch MR. ED. And when she wouldn’t let me watch MR. ED, when she was watching PEYTON PLACE, there was a problem when my mother came home. Okay, it’s not really a western, but there were horses. Of course of course.

HENRY: Now in SHADOW HILLS, the horses aren’t talking, are they?

LAMONT: (Laughs) No, but I give the horse character. When a guy shoots me, and tries to get my horse, the horse runs off. Then the horse comes back to my side. Like Trigger would have done. He goes and gets my best friend, and brings him back to me, and… you’ll see how it unfolds.


HENRY: I understand these are some of your own horses in the show. Horses must be very important to you.

LAMONT: Originally I’m from Chicago. People say, how does a guy from Chicago ride a horse like that?

SCOTT: I’ll take it farther – how does an African American from Chicago…?

LAMONT: My father was from Mississippi, and I’ve had a horse ever since I was eleven years old. When I was in Chicago, like nineteen or twenty, I used to bring my horse and ride around the neighborhood. And the cops were like, “Can you do that?” And I was like, “Yeah.” “Where you going?” “To the store.” “You can do that? You can ride a horse in the city? I’m calling headquarters.” I heard the lady from headquarters tell him, “What law is he breaking? The only thing we can find is, if a horse and a car come to a stop sign at the same time, the horse has the right-of-way.”

SCOTT: There’s lot’s of horse action – any horse enthusiast is going to love it. There’s a great race, the scenery’s beautiful.

(Bobby Brown and his gang ride into town)


HENRY: What side of the camera do you prefer to work on?

LAMONT: I like both. I’ll get in wherever I can fit in. If it’s a part in front of the camera, I’ll get in. If not, I’ll stand behind. I love being in Hollywood and doing the work; the motion picture business, I love it.

Prolific actor John Amos is recognizable from sitcoms like GOOD TIMES and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW to dramas like ROOTS, but to me he’ll always be Major Grant in DIE HARD 2. In SHADOW HILLS he’s working hammer and tongs.

JOHN AMOS: Correct. Mr. Sam is the blacksmith for the town, and according to him, business is terrible. I guess they had economic downturns even in those years.




HENRY: A man of your imposing physical stature seems like a natural for a western, but as far as I know, you haven’t done too many.

JOHN: I did BONANZA: THE NEXT GENERATION. That went very well; it was a lot of fun. Before that, K.C. and I did a sort of a docu-drama called SONGHAI SAM. In West Africa there was a tribe called the Songhai, who were excellent horsemen. They had a unique way of training and establishing a rapport with the horse. They would literally sleep in the stall with the horse for days, sometimes weeks at a time, rubbing the horse down until the odor of the human being and the odor of the stall became almost like one. And by smoothing the horse and massaging the horse and by lifting the horse’s feet, and breathing in the horse’s nose until you got in synch with the horse, it gave them a special insight into the horse’s personality, and their ability to tame and train the animal. That was the premise of our film. As the blacksmith of SHADOW HILLS, I still have a wonderful rapport with horses; don’t do as much riding as I used to, but can literally fix most horse’s problems as relates to their shoes, their harnesses.

HENRY: What appealed to you, particularly, about this part?

JOHN: Well, number one, my son is directing. K.C. is an accomplished filmmaker. He’s provided me with a chance to participate in this film, which is being shot at the Melody Ranch. So many western series have been shot here, and I’m honored to be working here, or anywhere. And especially with my son directing, there’s a slim chance I may be able to get some of the tuition back.

(Long shadows of late afternoon)


HENRY: Is it the first time you’ve been directed by you son?

JOHN: No, we’ve worked together in the past. When he was a student at Cal Arts in Valencia initially, even his grandfather was involved. In one project, SONGHAI SAM again, his mom was one of the head wranglers, she being a horsewoman out of Iowa. His grandfather helped him transport the cattle and the horses, and of course I was there to fill in as talent, and a writing source when he needed additional dialogue. It was a wonderful family effort.

HENRY: Does it feel strange taking direction from your son?

JOHN: I’ve gotten used to it. And we have an understanding. He’s a great director from the standpoint of setting up his shots, continuity. We have a spoken agreement. I said I’ll work with the actors in any projects in which we collaborate. But I’ll merely be an extension of you. I will not change your vision as to how you want the final shot to look, but I’ll try to enhance it by giving the actors whatever individual specific direction I can as they go into a scene, to make the scene better.

(Bobby Brown with his riding double)


HENRY: When you were growing up, were Westerns a big deal to you?

JOHN: Oh my God yes! We’d grab our broomsticks, those would be our horses, after every western we’d see. We’d ride around the block on our broomsticks. We played cowboys and Indians or we played army. We called it playing army or playing war. Of course, we know now that war is no game, and we don’t make light of it. In fact now, I devote the better part of my life now to doing fundraisers for Veterans. I’m a strong supporter of veterans, having been with the New Jersey State National Guard, and the son of a veteran, United States Army Sergeant John Amos. Our objective is to raise funds for the Malone Homes, working in conjunction with Walter Reed Hospital. They’re residences for families visiting their wounded warriors. Very often they don’t have the money to stay in a decent accommodation. I think it’s a great opportunity to help these families that have already made an incredible sacrifice, giving their sons and daughters in the cause of freedom.

HENRY: Do you have any favorite western movies?

JOHN: Absolutely. Sam Peckinpah’s THE WILD BUNCH. I later got to meet and work with Ernest Borgnine, who was one of my heroes. There’s so many. THE CULPEPPER CATTLE COMPANY was one of my favorites. Of course THE MAGNIFICENT 7, with that incredible musical score, and with Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, and the other wonderful actors in it. I’ve always been a lover of western movies. I raised horses for a while, just pleasure-riding horses. And I find the better rapport I establish with horses, the less I like human beings. Horses don’t lie to you: if they don’t like you, they’ll kick the stuffing out you. And they don’t borrow money, and they don’t spread malicious lies about you.


HENRY: Tell me about your upcoming ZOMBIE HAMLET.

JOHN: Oh, that was a case of the mortgage being due. I did that flick down in Louisiana several months ago. It hasn’t been released yet. The premise is almost self-described by the title. Two young filmmakers want to make a movie. One is Hell-bent on doing something of a Shakespearean nature, because he’s an elitist. His friend tells him zombie movies are ‘in’ -- it’s like having a negotiable bond. So finally they compromise, and you can only imagine the outcome. I love to do comedy, so I jumped all over that one. Shelly Long is in there as a super-uptight schoolmarm. June Lockhart from LOST IN SPACE. Working in Louisiana was hot and muggy, but they had the right setting because of the swamps out there. When they shot the scene where the disciples of Voodoo king gathered, it looked so realistic that it gave you chills at night.

I suppose you could make a western without Peter Sherayko, but I’ve never been on a Western set where I didn’t run into him. In addition to being an in-demand character actor, he’s an expert in Western history details, and his CARAVAN WEST company, formed when he was working on TOMBSTONE, supplies anything western that you could ask for. “We’re doing the same thing we do on all the westerns you come out and meet us on: the set dressings, the props, the costumes, the guns, the saddles. We’re not doing the horses on the pilot because it’s too short a time to get my head wrangler down (from Wyoming). Lamont is bringing his own horses. But if it goes to series we’ll do the horses as well. I worked with Lamont twice before on other films.”

HENRY: What’s your on-screen role in this one?

PETER: I’m playing a corrupt, racist sheriff. Part of my character is I don’t care what they do as long as I get a piece of the action. Anything is allowed as long as you pay me for it. So I’m just like today’s typical politician. I think now, the public knows who the Buffalo Soldiers were. Probably sixty years ago, except for John Ford’s film, SERGEANT RUTLEDGE, they wouldn’t. They did a lot to help settle the west. Most of them were former slaves. It’s a part of American history, of Western history, that should be told. We’ll be learning more of the backstory as the series goes on.

HENRY: How’s the shoot been going?

PETER: Very well. We’re shooting here for two days. We shot two days last week at the Chumash Museum in Thousand Oaks. It’s pretty nice. They have a village there, we brought in tepees because they’re supposed to be Comanche. They had all the Indians there from the various shows. We brought in all the instruments and accoutrements, the set dressing, had a very nice couple of days, and shot part of the horse race. We’ll do a little bit of the race here, and then the next three days we’re at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, and we’ll do the rest of the horse race. It’s 7,500 acres; it’s where they shot LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.

HENRY: Do they still have those buildings?

PETER: No, that was part of Michael Landon’s deal; at the end of the show they burned it down or blew it up. But there is a barn, and there are a couple of ranch houses. There was a small town there, but I don’t know if it still exists. We did a show there back in the early 1990s, and we used that town. It was called GREY KNIGHT or THE GHOST BRIGADE (1993). It’s a Civil War movie with zombies. Billy Bob Thornton and I were in it. I played a captain, he played a Confederate soldier. It was great to work with him – I’ve worked with him three times since then. He kept telling me, “I’m tired of this business over here, they don’t hire you, so I’m gonna write my own stuff.” I told him, “Billy, you’re a hick from Arkansas: forget about it.” Boy did I make another mistake.

Another familiar face on the set was professional polo player Ardashir Radpour. A ubiquitous sight at UCLA football games – he’s the Trojan Knight on the horse – he’s also an actor and a wrangler. And on SHADOWS HILLS he is both, costumed in a dashing outfit that calls to mind the Argentinean gaucho. He looks good, but he’s not playing a good-guy. “I’m one of the gang, and we are trying to rig the race. I’m the guy who cuts the cinch, so the good guy will fall off his horse. I’m one of the bad guys.”

HENRY: It must be cool doing a western at Melody Ranch.

ARDASHIR: It’s an amazing place, because you see it in DEADWOOD and a bunch of other things, but when you’re here, you realize how big this set is. Most things look bigger on film; this set actually looks bigger in person. It makes you respect, when you see them doing a huge western, the people they have to get to fill this place. It’s pretty impressive. So it’s been fun. This is our last day here, and then I’ll be riding at Big Sky Ranch.




HENRY: Will you be riding for yourself, or doubling for someone?

ARDASHIR: I’ll be riding for my own character, Manny. He’s kind of like a Boba Fett character. He’s quiet; he’s there, kind of letting people know ‘I’m a gunslinger, I’m here, and that’s all there is to it.’ And he protects the rest of the gang. It’s fun; I like it.

Nikki Pelley is doing wardrobe on SHADOW HILLS, but when she started working with Peter Sherayko twenty years ago, it was in a different role, in Wild West shows. “When I first met Peter, he told me that if I could do some fancy stuff I could be in his show. So I went out and taught myself how to trick ride. Taught myself how to fall, to jump from one horse to another, to ride backwards, so we did the show, and after that I worked in some other Wild West shows for three or four years. Peter got more active in the film industry while I kept doing Wild West shows. I did the celebrity fund-raising circuit with Irlene Mandrel, and Ben Johnson and Norman Schwarzkopf. In the Wild West Shows I did a part as a Dale Evans lookalike. And one time Dale Evans came to the show and said, “Oh, it reminds me of when Roy and I were young!” So I did that for quite a few years, and played Calamity Jane and others. Then Peter was making movies, and I was his wrangler, and now I’m his wardrobe.” How does she like wardrobe? “It’s fine. At least I’m on the set, and it’s like having a canvas; you can just paint and decorate it any way you want with the costumes. So I like it for the creative side.”

(Nikki sewing a corset back together)


The day had started late, but it went late: when I left, around 8:00 p.m., they were still filming, and just starting to need artificial light. I watched a character named Willie search for Hessie. I watched various sinister types stroll up and down the street, pretty saloon girls hang over the balcony, and the horse race repeatedly start and finish. A woman named Sandy, and her tiny blond daughter Johanna strolled up and down, providing atmosphere, looking great in period dress.

(Johanna is ready for her close-up)


A few days later, I got a call from Shoshone actor Cody Jones who, with Shawn Vasquez, play the Comanches who find Hessie wounded and unconscious. They shot at both the Chumash Museum and Big Sky Ranch, and had a great time, as Cody tells me their roles had been expanded. “We set up a little bit of an ambush. Shawn drops back behind a tree and takes my rifle. I jump up into the tree, and when this guy comes riding by I jump out of the tree and tackle him off of his horse. That was a lot of fun, getting to do that stunt.”

(Director K.C. Amos setting crowd for horserace)

(Go!)

(Waiting for the riders to return)

(Sheriff Peter Sherayko and Deputy Neil Spruce confer)


(8 p.m. at Melody Ranch)

Keep reading the Round-up, and we’ll keep you updated on SHADOW HILLS.


NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY & COWGIRL CELEBRATED AT THE AUTRY AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY


(Joey Dillon shows a volunteer how it's done)

(Kansas Carradine lasoes lass)

(Gene backs Riders In The Sky)

From coast to coast, the 7th National Day of The Cowboy (and Cowgirl in some areas) was a rip-roaring success! The Autry, which was taking part for the second year, had a staggering turnout, and it was delightful to see how many little kids, as well as adults, showed up in spurs and chaps. Among the outdoor entertainments were gunslinger Joey Dillon, lasso artists Kansas Carradine and Landon Spencer, square dancing with Susan Michaels and the Bees Knees, and a musical performance by the legendary Riders in the Sky, ascenders to the Sons of the Pioneers throne.

In the Wells Fargo Theatre, fans got to see Gene Autry star in a sci-fi western that predates COWBOYS & ALIENS (and JONAH HEX and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, and R.I.P.D., and all the others in the pipeline), THE PHANTOM EMPIRE!

(costume designer Karin McKechnie)

(curator Jeffrey Richardson in the Colt Gallery)


In the museum proper, the big excitement was the re-opening of the Colt Gallery with a remarkable new collection (see last week’s Round-up for details). Curator Jeffrey Richardson was there for hours giving tours and answering questions. Probably the most attention was paid to a display of single-action Army Colts belonging to great Western movie and TV personalities like Ken Maynard, Buck Jones, Leo Carrillo, Tom Mix, Slim Pickens, Clayton Moore, Gail Davis, Tim Holt, Monte Hale, Gene Autry, and Buck Taylor. Beside that display was another, featuring Colts of lawmen and desperadoes like Pawnee Bill, Kid Curry, Albert Fall, Doc Holliday and President Theodore Roosevelt!

(A new generation of prospectors panning for gold)





Also, many (like me) were visiting the newly opened ART AND THE 20TH CENTURY WEST gallery for the first time. Focusing on California and New Mexico art, it features the work of Maynard Dixon, James Doolin, Robert Henri, and artists drawn to our part of the globe from as far away as Germany, Russia, Austria and Hungary.

Outside of L.A., J.R. Sanders, who created the “Read ‘em Cowboy!” event at the Redlands Barnes & Noble, also had great success, as you can tell by the pictures at this link. To find out how you can still take part (through 7/28th) and help the Western Writers of America Homestead Foundation, go HERE. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=209532519094386&set=o.221304581236513&type=1&theater

To take part in the movement to make the Day of the Cowboy a nationally recognized day, go HERE. : http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=kwysuzeab&v=001PcleU6K0CjjRfVxMuv8wmHmf5OVJy2RLcKB18d-2Aquzf74WrIkdHGF1yX2VNEmlq7pfAeCZSm0gimgo88XMqU7FChjfFVawMplqoONQX10VohdK18Svyg%3D%3D

And if you’ve got pictures or information about Day of the Cowboy celebrations in your neck of the woods, please send it to us through Comments!

TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

That's right, the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here:


‘ZORRO RIDES AGAIN’ ON TMC

On Saturday mornings this summer I’ve been enjoying the ACE DRUMMOND serial TCM has been running, two episodes at a time, starting at 8 a.m.. This Saturday, the 13th and final chapter ran (don’t tell me how it ends – I’m still three episodes behind!), and what came on next but chapter one of Republic’s fine western action serial ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (1937), starring John Carroll as the bold renegade who carves a ‘Z’ with his blade, Duncan Renaldo as Renaldo (type-casting I suppose), and featuring action directed by John English and William Whitney.

The problem is, I felt like a crumb telling you about it when Chapter One has already run. But the first chapter is available online! Watch it before you go to bed on Friday night, and pop some popcorn for the morning!



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.

RFD-TV has begun airing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., with repeats the following Thursday and Saturday.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.

That's all folks -- it's almost three a.m.!

Happy trails,

Henry

All contents copyright July 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 18, 2011

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW - THE AUTRY'S COLT GALLERY

On Saturday, July 23rd, coinciding with the celebration of the National Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl, the Autry will reopen the Greg Martin Colt Gallery with a new exhibition exploring the history of Samuel Colt firearms, and impact the Colt revolver had on the American west.

In addition to a section devoted to the Colt Single Action Army Model Revolver, highlights include an original patent, the Colt family coat of arms, opulently engraved sidearms, and all manner of historic artifacts. Thanks to curator Jeffrey Richardson, the Round-up is privileged to receive an exclusive ‘first peek’ at some of the more remarkable pieces that will be on display. The information and descriptions are by Mr. Richardson.


Prototype Colt Revolver
1835; no serial number
Autry National Center; 90.183.1.1

Samuel Colt constructed his first rudimentary model of a revolver in 1831. Over the next five years, he worked with several gunsmiths, most notably John Pearson of Baltimore, to manufacture prototypes. Pearson was a clockmaker prior to becoming a gunsmith, and his mechanical skills were instrumental in the early development of Colt’s revolver. The Colt-Pearson prototypes clearly show that Colt continued to perfect his invention prior to seeking patent protection in 1835 and 1836. This Colt-Pearson prototype is similar to the revolvers depicted in Colt’s first patent drawings. The bayonet swiveling at the muzzle end of the barrel enabled users to defend themselves even if the revolver was out of ammunition.

Cutaway Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket Revolver
1856; serial number 6475
Autry National Center; 87.118.20

The most extensively cut-away Colt percussion revolver is this Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket. Cutaway, or skeleton, arms were used to demonstrate the mechanics and special features found on Colt firearms. Serial number 6475 is superbly machined to reveal the inner workings of the barrel, rammer, barrel lug, frame, cylinder, and grips. The chambers in the cylinder received special attention. One chamber is slightly machined, another is machined approximately in half, and two other chambers are cut into entirely. Despite its impressive design, the Sidehammer was the least successful model introduced by Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company during Samuel Colt’s lifetime.


Cased No. 5 Holster Model Revolver
Circa 1840; serial number 944
Donated by Dennis and Karen LeVett
Autry National Center; 98.178.1

The No. 5 Holster Model Revolver was the bestselling of all the firearms produced by Samuel Colt’s first attempt at mass production, the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company. Chambered in .36 caliber, it was also the largest and most powerful revolver produced by the company. The No. 5 Holster Model gained fame in the hands of the Texas Rangers, especially Captain Jack Hayes. In the summer of 1844, Hayes and fifteen other Rangers fought off eighty Comanche Indians using the revolver. Word of the incident spread, and the model came to be known thereafter as the Texas Paterson. (The Patent Arms Manufacturing Company was headquartered in Paterson, New Jersey.)


Theodore Roosevelt’s Single Action Army Model Revolver
1883; serial number 92248
Acquisition made possible in part by Paul S. and June A. Ebensteiner
Autry National Center; 85.5.6

Theodore Roosevelt spent several formative years on the American frontier working as a rancher and cowboy prior to becoming President of the United States in 1901. When he headed west in 1883, he brought with him, in his own words, “equipments finished in the most expensive style.” That equipment included this Single Action Army, which Roosevelt described as his best Western revolver. It was custom-engraved and features a TR monogram on the left side of the recoil shield and on the right side of the ivory grips. Roosevelt carried the revolver in a hand-tooled leather holster, and it can be seen in many pictures from the period. Many of the issues Roosevelt championed as president, including the virtue of leading a strenuous life and the importance of conservation, were solidified during his tenure in the West.


“Buntline Special” Single Action Army Model Revolver
1876; serial number 28802
Autry National Center; 87.118.93.1

The “Buntline Special” is the most celebrated variation of the Single Action Army. The defining feature of the revolver is an exceptionally long barrel that ranges from ten to sixteen inches. Approximately thirty of the revolvers were produced in 1876. The revolver gets its name from dime novel author Ned Buntline (pseudonym of Edward Z. C. Judson). In the biography Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, published in 1931, author Stuart Lake claimed that Buntline presented five of the revolvers to Dodge City lawmen Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Charles Bassett, Neal Brown, and Bill Tilghman. The story made for great reading, but there is little historical evidence to support it. The name “Buntline Special,” however, has stuck. Serial number 28802 has a sixteen-inch barrel and originally came with an attachable shoulder stock.

Incidentally, Ned Buntline and the Buntline Special figure prominently in the upcoming THE FIRST RIDE OF WYATT EARP.


TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

That's right, the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here:




WESTERN PILOT 'SHADOW HILLS' FILMED AT MELODY RANCH THIS WEEK



On Monday and Tuesday, July 11th and 12th, Melody Ranch was the locale for SHADOW HILLS, a Western series pilot about a former Buffalo Soldier's attempt to settle down in a town ruled by warring factions. The show has a largely black cast, and is written by, co-produced by, and stars Lamont Clayton, who previously produced the Western feature RIDE OR DIE, aka RIDE SWEET, DIE SLOW, and acted in two other Westerns, GANG OF ROSES and BROTHERS IN ARMS. Co-producer Scott Steel is a well-known DJ and TV entertainment reporter.

Prominent in the series cast is John Amos as the town blacksmith. The pilot story turns on a climactic horse-race, and guest star Bobby Brown will be the rider racing Lamont Clayton's character for something much more important than money alone. The pilot episode is directed by K.C. Amos. Next week's Round-up will feature exclusive pictures and interviews with participants on both sides of the camera.

BORGNINE ANNOUNCES NEW WESTERN AT HOLLYWOOD SHOW

This weekend's Hollywood Show at the Burbank Marriott was an enjoyable opportunity to meet and greet a wide variety of film and TV actors from the oast and present. Among the friends of the Round-up who attended were Western author and screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner, soon to be off to Europe for the filming of his CAPTAIN NEMO miniseries, actor Mike Gaglio, who just completed his role in the film LIZARD MAN, and author Michael Stern, who was signing copies of his Lucille Ball memoir, I HAD A BALL.

Among the stars that I spoke to was villainous Bruce Dern, unforgettable in a plethora of roles and genres, from the lone enviro-astronaut in SILENT RUNNING to Tom Buchanan in THE GREAT GATSBY. But to Western fans he'll always be the man who did the unthinkable in JOHN WAYNE AND THE COWBOYS. I also visited Bo Hopkins, who can use his intimidating good-old-boy charm for humor in AMERICAN GRAFITTI, or menace, as Crazy Lee in THE WILD BUNCH. Tom Kirk, who played a string of iconic kid roles in Disney films of the 1960s, one of the most memorable in OLD YELLER, one of the most-seen Westerns of the current generation of school kids. The Round-up hopes to feature interviews from all three in the near future.

The biggest stars present was Oscar-winner (for MARTY) Ernest Borgnine. He was taking part in a reunion of POSEIDAN ADVENTURE cast members, but to me he'll always be Dutch Engstrom in THE WILD BUNCH. When I asked the 94-year-old actor, "When are you doing another Western?" he laughed, "I'm doing one right now! It's called THE MAN WHO SHOOK THE HAND OF VINCENTE FERNANDEZ. It's a Western, but it takes place in a nursing home." The film is written and directed by Elia Petridis, who previously wrote and directed HOW HENRI CAME TO STAY. We'll have more details soon!

"IT'S WORTH WHAT?" FEATURES TRIGGER AND BULLET TUESDAY JULY 19TH

NBC's new game show, “It’s Worth What?" premieres Tuesday night at 8 p.m., and features contestants competeing to guess the value of unusual items. This week, two of the items will be the taxidermied figures of the smartest horse in the movies, and Roy Roger's wonder-dog. If you're a regular reader, you know Trigger and Bullet have been touring the country promoting Roy Rogers movies and TV shows on RFD-TV. They'd better bid a lot, or I'll run 'em over with Nellybell!

WEDNESDAY 7/20 KEATON'S 'THE GENERAL' AT THE ACADEMY

As part of their SUMMER OF SILENTS series, the AMPAS will be showing 1926's THE GENERAL, written and directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton. It's not only a brilliant comedy, it's also one of the very best silent films portraying the Civil War. To buy tickets, go to HERE or visit the box office 9 to 5 on weekdays at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
http://www.oscars.org/events-exhibitions/venues-ticketing/index.html

TCM'S SALUTES DICK FORAN AND MONTE HALE ON FRIDAY 7/22

The TCM Salute to the Singing Cowboy continues with six movies. The first four, all starring Dick Foran, are MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (1935), SONG OF THE SADDLE (1936), TREACHERY RIDES THE RANGE (1936) and LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937). Then two starring Monte Hale: HOME ON THE RANGE (1946) and UNDER COLORADO SKIES (1947). I wish they had Eddie Dean somewhere in this festival -- as a singer I put him right up there with Autry and Rogers and Ritter. BY the way, Robert Osborne is taking a temporary leave of absence to have some minor surgery, and take a vacation. Robert Wagner is filling in for him for a week, followed by Tippi Hedron, followed by Jane Powell.

NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY NEWS!




As you may know, Saturday, May 23rd, is the 7th annual National Day of the Cowboy. But while we call it national, getting it recognized has been an arduous state by state, volunteer by volunteer, campaign. Word has just come from Bethany Braley, Executive Director of the organization, that Senator Jean Fuller introduced the National Day of the Cowboy resolution in the California Senate. It passed on July 1, officially encouraging Californians to celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy. This is the first time the California Senate has heard and voted on the NDOC resolution! To date in 2011, we have official resolutions from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia and now California. To learn more, visit the official website HERE. www.nationaldayofthecowboy.org

CELEBRATING THE DAY OF THE COWBOY AND COWGIRL AT THE AUTRY!






It’s great news that for the second year, the Autry will be taking part in the celebration – last year was an absolute blast! This year’s festivities will feature a ton of activities for kids and families, leather-craft and blacksmithing, square-dancing, lasso demonstrations, gunslinging by the lightnin’ quick JOEY DILLON, and a musical performance by the delightful and downright legendary RIDERS IN THE SKY!

But wait, there’s more! In the Wells Fargo Theatre, Gene Autry’s delightfully whacky serial, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE will screen. And coinciding with the Day of the Cowboy, the Autry will the grand reopening of THE GREG MARTIN COLT GALLERY, featuring a phenomenal new presentation of the history of the Colt Firearms Company.

READ ‘EM COWBOY BOOKFAIR AT BARNES & NOBLE, REDLANDS ON THE DAY OF THE COWBOY!




On Saturday, July 23rd, from 11 ‘til 3 at the Redlands Barnes & Noble, 27460 Lugonia Ave. Western writer J. R. Sanders says, “Come celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, and support Western literature, at Read 'em Cowboy! A portion of sales from the event will go directly to the Western Writers of America's Homestead Foundation, which promotes the literary preservation of Western culture, history and traditions.

“Western authors will sign books and give talks, children's authors will do readings and other activities with kids, and there'll be a cowboy/cowgirl costume contest for the youngsters. Along with the authors, there'll be live cowboy music by the Coyote Creek Ramblers, historical displays, roping demonstration, raffles, cowboy vittles in the B&N cafe, and more.” But, you say you don’t live near Redlands! How can you take part? Make a purchase at any B&N from 7/23-28. Just print a copy of the voucher found HERE. (The link takes you to a Facebook page, from which you can print the flyer with the voucher attached.) Show it at checkout. Or, order online at www.bn.com/bookfairs, and enter the Bookfair ID# (10510444) at checkout. Either way, a portion of your sale goes to the Homestead Foundation.

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=221304581236513#!/photo.php?fbid=203670429680595&set=o.221304581236513&type=1&theater

ROBERT MITCHUM WESTERN FESTIVAL

Continuing at the Billy Wilder Theatre, at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. On Saturday, July 23rd it's RIVER OF NO RETURN, co-starring Marilyn Monroe, with special guest, producer Stanley Rubin, at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday July 24th at 7:00 p.m. it's THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY. For more details, go 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.

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.

RFD-TV has begun airing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., with repeats the following Thursday and Saturday.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.

That oughta do it for this week, but keep an eye on the Facebook page, because news comes in all week. For instance, I just found out I'm going to be on-location for a very unusual sort of shoot on Tuesday -- I'll tell you more when I know more.

I started a Twitter feed this week, and I'm underwhelmed with the response. Check out the link at the top of the page. Tell me if this is worth doing, or if the Round-up and Facebook are enough.

Have a great week, and do something fun on the National Day of the Cowboy!

Adios!

Henry

All Contents Copyright July 2011 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, July 10, 2011

GREAT EMANCIPATOR VS. BLOODSUCKERS! REPORT FROM THE FRONT




In case you haven’t heard, the Civil War is currently raging once more, this time in Louisiana, where the much-beloved novel ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, is being brought to the screen.

The Round-up is fortunate to have had war-correspondent Michael F. Blake reporting from the front. A well-known historian, biographer and writer on the western film, Mr. Blake was working in his capacity as a make-up artist when he filed his dispatch from the Battle of Gettysburg, portions of which follow:




“The film was okay. I was on second unit, so it was basically Rebs fighting Yanks, some explosions. According to the book and script, the Rebs are vampires, and by the time of Gettysburg the Union Army figures out to fire silver minie-balls. I guess they will do a lot of CGI when the Rebs get hit and dissolve or what have you.

“I had a great time as the re-enactors were an interesting lot and talked a lot about Civil War history. It was great to watch them march to the set, flags billowing in the wind, and hearing the drum & fife carry them along the road. I let my imagination take over and honestly felt I was back in 1862 or 1863.

“I did see pictures of Greg Cannom's makeup for Lincoln and it looks like the genuine article! You'd swear it was the man himself back to life.”

Written for both the page and celluloid by Seth Grahame-Smith, whose previous PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES was a New York Times best-seller, this tale of one of the less-remembered chapters (the vampire part, I mean) of the War Between the States is being produced by Tim Burton and directed Timur Bekmambetov, for a budget reported to be in the $70 million range. The major effects make-up is by the brilliant three-time Oscar winner (for DRACULA [1982], MRS. DOUBTFIRE [1993] and BENJAMIN BUTTON [2008]) Greg Cannom. It stars Benjamin Walker as Honest Abe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln, John Rothman as Jefferson Davis, and Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas. I suspect it will be a tonic for those who felt there wasn’t sufficient action in the recent THE CONSPIRATOR.

But here’s what troubles me: I can certainly understand how muskets loaded with silver minie-balls could wreak havoc against an army of werewolves, but wouldn’t it have to be bullet-size wooden stakes against an army of vampires? I fear this movie may not be entirely historically accurate.

HENRY’S WESTERN ROUND-UP ON TCM!




Coming under the heading of shameless self-promotion, the newest TCM FANATIC segment started running last week. Done to go along with their July Salute to The Singing Cowboy, it’s about Westerns, and it features yours truly, Henry Parke, amongst other western-movie crazies. It’s five minutes long, and runs between movies when you least expect it! Let me know if you catch it!

OLD WEST AUCTION BRINGS BIG BUCKAROO BUCKS!

You’ve probably read here or elsewhere that the 22ND ANNUAL BRIAN LEBEL’S OLD WEST AUCTION, held in Denver on June 25th, sold the only authenticated photograph of Billy the Kid for a staggering $2,300,000. This is the photo which gave rise to the myth that the Kid was a southpaw since, being a tintype, the image is reversed, so his pistol appears to be on his left hip. But there were many other items of interest that fell under the auctioneer’s gavel.

Some were related to the Lincoln County Wars, and the Regulators. A receipt signed by Susan McSween, widow of A.A. McSween, employer of Billy, sold for $575. A letter written by Pat Garrett, the lawman who killed the Kid, says in part, “Dear Wife, Going to Santa Fe for the Governor’s inauguration. Send me my dress suit and my Prince Albert coat.” It fetched $1610.

A Colt model 1878 pistol that belonged to Walter Putney, a member of the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang, a.k.a. The Wild Bunch, sold for $8050.

A Portland Police Chief badge presented to Leo ‘Pancho’ Carrillo sold for $8,625. A Yakima Cannutt hat from John Wayne’s BATJAC productions, roped $17,250!




Many items were related to Buffalo Bill and his Wild West. A scrapbook belonging to one of his performers, Jordan Cottle, sold for $20,700. His Colt Double Action sold for $26,450. Photographs, prints, even punch-cards bearing Cody’s image were sold. There was also a note in Cody’s hand describing his killing of Yellowhand after the Battle of Little Big Horn, dated June 15th, 1907: “Dear Sir, Yellowhand a Cheyenne Chief was killed July 17th, 1876. And by my self in the battle of War bonnet creek troops 5th U.S. Cavalry commanded by General Wesley Merritt. Yellow Hand at the time of his death was carrying no saddle bag this known to be a fact as I was there. W.F. Cody” Cody famously scalped Yellowhand and waved the trophy above his head, calling to the troopers, “The first scalp for Custer!” The letter sold for $12,650. (I wish we had the letter he was responding to. I know in my heart it was the Cody equivalent of the Star Trek nerds who torture people with their inanely specific questions at Q & A’s: “Mr. Cody, my research suggests that Yellowhand was carrying a saddle bag in his left had at the time you were scalping him.”)

My favorite item of the sale related to a more private part of Cody’s life: his aborted divorce proceedings, which included allegations of attempted murder (which you can read about HERE). Press and Media person for Lebel’s, Melissa McCracken told me, “My second favorite moment of the night (Billy being the first obviously) was during the sale of the divorce papers. When the bidding stalled at $5,000, the ringman exclaimed, ‘They’re the cheapest divorce papers you’ll ever get!’” They sold for $6,325. You can learn more HERE.
http://www.denveroldwest.com/owaucthighlights.html

‘COVERED WAGON’ AT ACADEMY JULY 11TH




In L.A., the best entertainment deal of the summer has long been the film series at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This year it’s SUMMER OF SILENTS, featuring nine silent features that have won the Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor, an award that predates the Oscars.

On Monday, July 11th James Cruze’s 1923 epic of the Oregon Trail, THE COVERED WAGON, starring J. Warren Kerrigan, Lois Wilson and Alan Hale, will screen in 35mm, and tickets are still available for $5 a piece. Live musical accompaniment will be by Bill Ryan and the Cactus County Cowboys. Also screened will be the few reels that survive from ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1924). It’s directed by Phil Rosen, who started as a cameraman for Edison in 1912, and is best known for his Charlie Chan movies. The screenplay is by Oscar-winner (for THE BIG HOUSE and THE CHAMP) Frances Marion. An actress who was a child when she appeared in the film will be present to discuss it!

To buy tickets, go to HERE or visit the box office 9 to 5 on weekdays at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
http://www.oscars.org/events-exhibitions/venues-ticketing/index.html

ROBERT MITCHUM WESTERN FEST CONTINUES AT THE BILLY WILDER

On Wednesday, July 13th at 7:30 p.m., it’s his Aussie western, THE SUNDOWNERS (1960), directed by Fred Zinneman. On Sunday, July 17th at 7:00 p.m. it’s TRACK OF THE CAT (1954) written by A.I. Bezzerides and directed by William Wellman. To learn more, go HERE.

http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/calendar


TCM SALUTE’S TEX RITTER & JIMMY WAKELY FRIDAY 7/15





Continuing with their Salute to Singing Cowboys, TCM will be running five movies starting at 5:00 Pacific time. SONG OF THE GRINGO (1935) and at 6:15 P.m., THE OLD CHISOLM TRAIL (1942) both star Tex Ritter. At 7:30 p.m. COWBOY CANTEEN (1944), a War-Effort western musical features Tex Ritter and Jimmy Wakely. At 8:45 p.m., OKLAHOMA BLUES (1948) and at 9:45 p.m., BRAND OF FEAR (1949) both topline Jimmy Wakely.


HOLLYWOOD SHOW SAT. & SUN. JULY 16TH & 17TH

This is a fun event held several times a year, where movie and TV fans can shake hands with stars and buy their autographs. It’s also a big market for movie collectibles – posters, stills, video – you name it! But be warned – in ain’t cheap. It’s $20 admission -- $35 for both days. The stars charge $20 and up for an autograph, whether they provide the picture or you do, so know that if you go in and get a picture signed, you’re already in for $40 minimum. Of particular interest to Western fans, two of the stars of THE WILD BUNCH, Ernest Borgnine and Bo Hopkins, are scheduled to attend. So is former teen idol Leif Garrett, who co-starred in a pair of shot-in-Israel Westerns with Lee Van Cleef in 1977. It’s at the Burbank Airport Marriott, 2500 North Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505, Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY NEWS!




As you may know, Saturday, May 23rd, is the 7th annual National Day of the Cowboy. But while we call it national, getting it recognized has been an arduous state by state, volunteer by volunteer, campaign. Word has just come from Bethany Braley, Executive Director of the organization, that Senator Jean Fuller introduced the National Day of the Cowboy resolution in the California Senate. It passed on July 1, officially encouraging Californians to celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy. This is the first time the California Senate has heard and voted on the NDOC resolution! To date in 2011, we have official resolutions from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia and now California. To learn more, visit the official website HERE. www.nationaldayofthecowboy.org

CELEBRATING THE DAY OF THE COWBOY AND COWGIRL AT THE AUTRY!




It’s great news that for the second year, the Autry will be taking part in the celebration – last year was an absolute blast! This year’s festivities will feature a ton of activities for kids and families, leather-craft and blacksmithing, square-dancing, lasso demonstrations, gunslinging by the lightnin’ quick JOEY DILLON, and a musical performance by the delightful and downright legendary RIDERS IN THE SKY!

But wait, there’s more! In the Wells Fargo Theatre, Gene Autry’s delightfully whacky serial, THE PHANTOM EMPIRE will screen. And coinciding with the Day of the Cowboy, the Autry will the grand reopening of THE GREG MARTIN COLT GALLERY, featuring a phenomenal new presentation of the history of the Colt Firearms Company.

READ ‘EM COWBOY BOOKFAIR AT BARNES & NOBLE, REDLANDS ON THE DAY OF THE COWBOY!




On Saturday, July 23rd, from 11 ‘til 3 at the Redlands Barnes & Noble, 27460 Lugonia Ave. Western writer J. R. Sanders says, “Come celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, and support Western literature, at Read 'em Cowboy! A portion of sales from the event will go directly to the Western Writers of America's Homestead Foundation, which promotes the literary preservation of Western culture, history and traditions.

“Western authors will sign books and give talks, children's authors will do readings and other activities with kids, and there'll be a cowboy/cowgirl costume contest for the youngsters. Along with the authors, there'll be live cowboy music by the Coyote Creek Ramblers, historical displays, roping demonstration, raffles, cowboy vittles in the B&N cafe, and more.” But, you say you don’t live near Redlands! How can you take part? Make a purchase at any B&N from 7/23-28. Just print a copy of the voucher found HERE. (The link takes you to a Facebook page, from which you can print the flyer with the voucher attached.) Show it at checkout. Or, order online at www.bn.com/bookfairs, and enter the Bookfair ID# (10510444) at checkout. Either way, a portion of your sale goes to the Homestead Foundation.

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=221304581236513#!/photo.php?fbid=203670429680595&set=o.221304581236513&type=1&theater

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.

RFD-TV has begun airing THE ROY ROGERS SHOW on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., with repeats the following Thursday and Saturday.

Also, AMC has started showing two episodes of THE RIFLEMAN on Saturday mornings.


EVENTS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED IF YOU DIDN’T CHECK THE ROUND-UP FACEBOOK PAGE THIS WEEK

This week we featured a link to get into the Autry Day of the Cowboy Celebration for free; COWBOYS & ALIENS director Jon Favreau’s video interview of his producers Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg and Brian Grazer; Saturday’s Autry screening of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, featuring Paramount’s 35mm archive print. It’s updated almost every day, so check it out!

NEXT WEEK I’ll be sharing an exclusive preview of some of the fascinating items from the upcoming Autry Colt Gallery opening, I’m scheduled to visit the set of a new Western series pilot, and I’ve got some interesting casting news, once I’m given permission to share it! And starting now, you can follow us on Twitter (if that’s your idea of a good time). Have a great week!

Adios,

Henry

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