Sunday, November 25, 2012

DOUG BUTTS ON HOW INSP CORRALLED COWBOYS

 
James Drury, Clu Gulager, Doug Butts

I first met Doug Butts, Senior Vice President of Programming for the INSP Network on Saturday, September 22nd, at the Autry.  It was a day celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the TV series THE VIRGINIAN, and eight regulars from the series were in attendance (you can see my four-part coverage of the event here: Part 1 ,Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 )

In addition to the anniversary itself, attendees were celebrating the fact that THE VIRGINIAN had returned to television that very day, on INSP.  I’d become aware of the network a year or so before, when they brought THE BIG VALLEY, long unseen, back to the airwaves, and just recently they had done the same with another rarely played and excellent Western series, THE HIGH CHAPARRAL.  

In fact, INSP’s Saddle Up Saturday is the finest block of Western programming on basic cable today, featuring the three series mentioned, as well as BONANZA.  I wanted to learn more about the network, and the man who’d so improved my weekends.

HENRY: What was your first job?

DOUG:  Well, I worked with my father.  He was a Pastor for fifty years, but he also did home renovation, and painting, building decks and that kind of thing.  From the age of thirteen I worked with him.  My very first job, now that I think about it, is I delivered a newspaper that they don’t even publish anymore, called GRIT. 

H: I remember ads in the back of comics saying, “Boys, sell Grit!”

DOUG: I started delivering Grit when I was ten years old.   That was fun.  And then I became a photographer, and that’s how I got into the TV business.  I went to work at a local TV station, WJJS, Channel 16 in Greenville, South Carolina as a still photographer.     And I found out that I had a pretty good eye for television.  We did a lot of live TV, which really helped me out a lot. 

H: Were you covering news stories?

DOUG: They didn’t have a huge budget, so they were looking for ways that they could create commercials, without buying expensive television equipment.  A friend that worked there recommended me, so I went to work there, and I would take slides.  I would go to a jewelry story, or an appliance store, take photos of their specials for that week, model them with lighting, take them back to the TV station and edit together a commercial.   I wrote the copy and I usually did the voice-over work as well.  I just kind of jumped in – it was a small local TV station, and they needed people who could do things, and didn’t cost a whole lot of money.  I tell people now, who are getting into the business, that’s probably a good place to start.  Find a local cable operator who does football games or something like that, and they’ll be giving you all kinds of responsibility, and you’ll learn the business that way, from a production side.  It’s a good way to start.  It’s hard to get into television.  Everyone you talk to, they will give you a different career path. 

H: If you’d gone into a field unrelated to entertainment, do you know what IT would have been?

DOUG: I wanted to be a draftsman.  I wanted to be an architect.  And actually, after I got into television, it became a real passion for me, designing sets.  I have designed several sets here for this network, and some of them are still being used. 

H: I understand INSP has been around for 20 years, but it’s had a low profile until now. Why the change?

DOUG: So many people in our society find themselves facing dark moments with feelings of loneliness and defeat. There is so much in life to be thankful for. We want to turn on their light. So our brand has changed and we are all about the celebration of life, family and the need to rely on our creator and one another.

H: What brought you to INSP?

DOUG: My wife and I were living in Dallas, Texas in 1994. I was working as a freelance Director/Producer. We wanted to get back closer to family so I was hired by INSP to direct a live event from Disney World. After that, they offered me a position. I’ve been with them ever since. It’s been an incredible ride and very rewarding to be a part of this organization.

H: What were your favorite Western TV shows and movies growing up?

DOUG: As for TV I remember watching WAGON TRAIN, RAWHIDE, BONANZA, GUNSMOKE, THE BIG VALLEY, ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, THE VIRGINIAN, THE WILD WILD WEST, and I even liked KUNG FU.  As for movies, I still love those old westerns like SHENANDOAH, WINCHESTER  73 or THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE  with Jimmy Stewart, SHANE with Alan Ladd. Any western movie that John Ford directed or John Wayne starred in. RIO BRAVO is one of my favorites. Of course you have to mention Clint Eastwood’s collections. There are so many to mention. I loved watching westerns with my dad.

H: I first heard about INSP when you brought THE BIG VALLEY, long off the air,back. Recently you’ve brought back the long unseen HIGH CHAPARRAL and THE VIRGINIAN. Is bringing classic western shows back a big part of your plan?

DOUG: Yes. So far we have a great line up of westerns and plan to continue offering this brand of programming. So far our viewers love it.

H: What do you look for when selecting a show, western or otherwise?

DOUG: The goal of INSP is to deliver safe, family-friendly entertainment. The family and community connection is such an important part of our daily lives. It is refreshing and rejuvenating to know that you belong. Our programming highlights these connections with moving stories of hope and struggle, like The High Chaparral, Bonanza and The Big Valley. Barbara Stanwyck’s character is one who loves family and community. She will risk all for family and stand up for her friends and neighbors at all costs. She is an individual of great character, integrity and warmth. But also one capable of chasing off the bad guys with a Winchester. You can certainly say the same about Ben Cartwright. We look for period dramas which focus on telling the story of the family unit. Stories that express loyalty, devotion and commitment. We feature period pieces like THE WALTONS and LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE that take you to a different time and place. Helping you to escape the regular routine. We are blessed to be a part of this great country. We want our programming to be an enjoyable experience that highlights these connections. The westerns help us highlight good versus evil. Faith, family and American life is great. Let’s celebrate life - together.

H: What is the idea behind SADDLE-UP SATURDAY?

DOUG: Saddle Up Saturday was created to be a place to sit back and just binge view on westerns, (and it’s) proving to be a viewers’ favorite. As you mentioned we feature a great line up of some of the most popular TV western dramas in cable: The Virginian, The Big Valley and The High Chaparral are exclusive to INSP. We also feature Bonanza, and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN. We will also occasionally feature some of your favorite classic western movies in our Saturday primetime line up in 2013.

H: How is INSP different from other family-friendly channels like Hallmark or Me-TV?

DOUG: We’ve tried to create a network that viewers can trust. We call this “lunge-free TV.” People can relax any time of day because we respect them, and select programs that will be welcome visitors in the home. We try to foster a spirit of community. As we listen to viewers, we know that millions are hungry for a simpler, less cluttered lifestyle, and a time when families were close and heritage was celebrated. Throughout our schedule you’ll see everything from Westerns and contemporary dramas to situation comedies. But all programs stay true to timeless values consistent with our Judeo-Christian heritage. And we constantly look for programs with positive role models and stories that both entertain and inspire.

 
Ruta Lee, Doug Butts, Gary Clarke
 

H: Are we likely to see more movies, western or otherwise, on INSP?

DOUG: Yes. We will continue to feature western classics and ‘open range’ movies with wide open spaces on both Saturday and Sunday nights.

H: Have you considered original programming?

DOUG: We are putting plans together to start developing original content in the very near future. Stay tuned!

H: What are your long-range plans for INSP?

DOUG: To continue offering quality values-based, family-friendly entertainment. INSP is a great place to land for wonderful and safe family programming. Viewers who watch INSP are very loyal and we’re finding that they tune us in and leave us on for long lengths of time. INSP is a great alternative for inspiring entertainment with heart for family.

Incidentally, INSP is already doing some original production, one and two minute interstitials under the title MOMENTS.  They are thoughtful and thought-provoking.  Their most recent, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, was featured on THE VIEW, on the Friday before Veterans Day, introduced by Whoopi Goldberg.  You can see this, and many other films from INSP’s Moments Initiative HERE. 

 

HISTORY CHANNEL RE-TEAMS ‘HATFIELDS & MCCOYS’ PRODUCER & SCRIBE

 

TEXAS RISING is the tentative title for a six-hour miniseries about the creation of the Texas Rangers, North America’s oldest law enforcement body.  It will tell the story of the organization’s start following a call-to-arms by Stephen Austin in 1823, and deal with its role during the Civil War.  It’s being developed at the History Channel, with Hatfield exec producer Leslie Greif again holding the reins.  Ted Mann, who co-wrote the Hatfield mini, and was a writer and producer on DEADWOOD, will script.  Ratings powerhouse Hatfield was nominated for sixteen Emmys, and won five: Outstanding Actor Kevin Cosnter, Outstanding Supporting Actor Tom Berenger, Outstanding Make-up Francesca Tampieri and Mario Michisanti, Outstanding Single-Camera Editing Don Cassidy, and Outstanding Sound Mixing Christian T. Cooke, Stanomir Dragos, and Brad Zoern.

 

ERNEST BORGNINE’S LAST MOVIE, ‘MAN WHO SHOOK THE HAND…’ OPENS DECEMBER 7

 

Back in July of 2011, when I asked Ernest Borgnine, Oscar winner for MARTY, and unforgettable in THE WILD BUNCH, when he was going to do 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.”

In it, Borgnine plays Rex, a bitter and neglected old man wasting away in a Latino-staffed nursing home.  But his life takes a turn when they learn that he once shook hands with an idolized Mexican celebrity.  The film also features Barry Corbin, Robert Morse and Larry Minnetti.  I’m curious if it’s significant that the movie opens on Pearl Harbor Day.  Though perhaps best known for MCHALE’S NAVY, he served in our Navy in World War II, and ironically played a homicidal sergeant in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, in which Pearl Harbor is an important factor. 

 

DID YOU KNOW IT’S NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH?

 

A few days ago I was watching television, and a commercial came on, talking about American Indian culture, and mentioning that this month, November, is officially Native American Heritage Month.  I was startled, because here the month is nearly over, and it’s the first I’ve heard of it!  Granted, it’s an odd choice giving them the month with Thanksgiving, which some Indians celebrate and others consider a day of mourning.  As a schoolteacher, I can assure you that when it’s Black History Month (February), Hispanic Culture Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), you hear about it in the schools!  Columbus Day is a huge day for Italian Americans, and St. Patrick’s Day is a huge one for Irish Americans.  It’s always all over television.  But the Indians get nothing!  Not even a public service announcement!  The ad I saw wasn’t a PSA, it was a commercial paid for by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.  If you’d like to see their short film, and several others they’ve made, go here: http://www.sanmanuel-nsn.gov/ 

 
 
FREE GENE AUTRY DOUBLE FEATURE SAT. DEC. 1 AT THE AUTRY


At noon the Autry will show a free double bill of Autry hits, PRAIRIE MOON (Republic 1938), and THE COWBOY AND THE INDIANS (Columbia 1949). The latter features Gene singing HERE COMES SANTA CLAUS, and co stars Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels just before they were teamed as The Long Ranger and Tonto!Doors open 7:30 pm Event begins at 8:00 pm
FREE

Christmas is tied up with traditions and OutWest is starting a new one! Come for an evening of Christmas Tales and Music like you've never heard before-creepy as only Western Fictioneers members can write them. We'll be reading aloud "heart stopping yuletide tales" from this newly published collection and enjoy live music in the same, vein...Cowboy Creepy, Mysterious and Horrific.

Participants include contributing author C. Courtney Joyner, musicians Mike Gaglio, John Bergstrom and Gency Brown, Readers Carol Rock, Jim Christina, and Bobbi Jean Bell.


CREEPY COWBOY CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION IN NEWHALL!

 

On Saturday, December 1st at 8 p.m., you’re invited to OutWest, 24265 Main Street, Newhall, California 91321 for Rendezvous With A Writer, An Evening of Live Readings and Music Featuring Stories from "Six-Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas.”  Author C. Courtney Joyner will be there to read and sign, and music will be provided by Mike Gaglio, John Bergstrom and Gency Brown.  For more info call: 661-255-7087.

Doors open 7:30 pm Event begins at 8:00 pm
FREE

Christmas is tied up with traditions and OutWest is starting a new one! Come for an evening of Christmas Tales and Music like you've never heard before- creepy as only Western Fictioneers members can write them. We'll be reading aloud "heart stopping yuletide tales" from this newly published collection and enjoy live music in the same, vein...Cowboy Creepy, Mysterious and Horrific.

Participants include contributing author C. Courtney Joyner, musicians Mike Gaglio, John Bergstrom and Gency Brown, Readers Carol Rock, Jim Christina, and Bobbi J

 
TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

And speaking of TCM (okay, nobody was), have I mentioned that the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here?






 

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepreneur 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 permanent 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 Hollywoodwestern, 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.



WELLSFARGO 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.


WESTERN ALL OVER THE DIAL


INSP’s SADDLE-UP SATURDAY features a block of rarely-seen classics THE VIRGINIAN and HIGH CHAPARRAL, along with BONANZA and THE BIG VALLEY. On weekdays they’re showing LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, BIG VALLEY, HIGH CHAPARRAL and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.


ME-TV’s Saturday line-up includes BRANDED, THE REBEL and THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT. On weekdays it’s DANIEL BOONE, GUNSMOKE, BONANZA, BIG VALLEY, WILD WILD WEST, and THE RIFLEMAN.


RFD-TV, the channel whose president bought Trigger and Bullet at auction, have a special love for Roy Rogers. They show an episode of The Roy Rogers Show on Sunday mornings, a Roy Rogers movie on Tuesday mornings, and repeat them during the week.


WHT-TV has a weekday afternoon line-up that’s perfect for kids, featuring LASSIE, THE ROY ROGERS SHOW and THE LONE RANGER.


TV-LAND angered viewers by dropping GUNSMOKE, but now it’s back every weekday, along with BONANZA.

That’s it for another Round-up! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!  No one came up with any  Thanksgiving-themed Westerns.  It's not too late!  Have a great week!

 

Happy Trails,

 

Henry

 

All Original Contents Copyright November 2012 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 18, 2012

‘HELL ON WHEELS 3’ HITS THE BRAKES: NO TRACK!



Season 3 of HELL ON WHEELS is on hold for the moment, because there’s no engineer in the locomotive.  While the show was renewed by AMC for a ten episode third season, the contracts of creators/writers/producers Joe and Tony Gayton have not been renewed.  There is some talk that they may be back to consult. 

 

John Shiban, a writer and producer who made his bones on X-FILES, and this season wrote four HELL ON WHEELS episodes, and exec produced the entire season, was announced as show-runner, but less than a week later bowed out.  AMC notes that all of their series renewals are conditioned on their approval of the show-runner, so the start will be delayed unless and until a suitable replacement is found.  Stand by for details as they become available. 

 

NEWS ON SEMI-WESTERNS BRIGHTER


There are no such problems for the nearly-westerns that have proliferated around the dial.  JUSTIFIED returns to FX with season four on Tuesday, January 17th.   LONGMIRE will be back on A&E next year for a second season.  COPPER will be coming back to BBC America with an expanded season two – thirteen episodes instead of ten.  There was talk of a possible HATFIELDS & MCCOYS II, but it’s unlikely, since everyone’s dead. 

 

TWO NEW ‘WESTERN INTEREST’ SHOWS ON THE HORIZON


‘GHOST TOWN GOLD’

 

There are two new series heading our way which, while not technically Westerns, should be of interest to many Western fans.  One of them, GHOST TOWN GOLD, actually premiered on Discovery Channel this past Thursday, and will play for five more Thursdays.  It’s a reality show of the Pawn/Storage/Pickers/Diggers variety, following a pair of ‘present-day explorers,’ Brit Eaton and Scott Glaves, as they travel the Old West, hunting through ghost town in search of treasure. 

 

If you’ve watched this genre of show, you know they run the gamut from the highly entertaining to the painfully forced.  My one ‘negative’ about this kind of show is that I’ve known enough people who’ve worked on them to know that when not enough great stuff is found in the storage locker or brought to the hock shop, great stuff is planted.  This often gives the unsophisticated viewer the impression that striking it rich is much easier than it is.  I would hate to see such a show lead to ghost towns being plundered.

 


 

 

WASHINGTON

 

 

NBC is developing a drama about the life of our first president based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times bestseller WASHINGTON: A LIFE, by Ron Chernow.  It’s to be produced by the Oscar-winning director of RAIN MAN, Barry Levinson.  Levinson, who has a long string of impressive film and TV credits, going back to writing the CAROL BURNETT SHOW, is currently exec producer of BBC America’s COPPER. 

 

GEORGE WASHINGTON, as the project is currently titled, is to be scripted by David Seidler, who earned an Oscar last year for his excellent THE KING’S SPEECH screenplay.  Other producers involved are Gareth Neame of DOWNTON ABBEY, Jason Sosnoff and Tom Fontana. 

 

Apparently it’s not going to be about chopping down cherry trees.  Seidler says, "There's George Washington the national icon, gazing out from the dollar bill with his mouthful of supposedly wooden teeth, and then there's the George Washington who had an adulterous affair with his best friend's wife.  The George Washington obsessed with social status, finely tailored clothes, his image. Not an icon, a very human human being, who learned how to lead. That’s the man I want to understand.”

 

Levinson concurs, “What’s so interesting is here was a man who was more instrumental to what our country is today and more famous than any other figure in our history, and yet no one knows anything about him. We know the myth of the man, but the reality was he was a flawed and troubled character who overcame his flaws to become one of the foremost leaders of this nation.”  Recalling the tremendous success of the JOHN ADAMS miniseries a couple of seasons back, this could be a big one.

 

SPOOK SHOWS UTILIZE ‘PIONEER CEMETERY

 

The Pioneer Cemetery in Sylmar is the second oldest cemetery in the San Fernando Valley.  A victim of neglect and vandalism in the 1960s and 1970s, it’s now managed by the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, and fixing it up has been an on-going project.  (If you didn’t read my piece about the SFVHS last July, you can read it HERE .)

 

Happily, the cemetery has recently been filmed twice for a pair of reality spook shows, MY GHOST STORY, which runs on Biography, and a new series, GHOST GIRLS, which premieres in January.  Amazingly, GHOST GIRLS is a production of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, which was D. W. Griffith’s old outfit!  The MY GHOST STORY segment will air the day after Thanksgiving, November 23rd.  They’re running two episodes in a row, and I don’t know which it is, but you may want to check it out on Biography.  

 

6TH L.A. SKINS FEST AT THE AUTRY

 

Today was the final day of the L.A. Skins Fest, which highlights Native American Filmmakers.  More than 100 films have been featured in their programs since the event began.  A mix of features and shorts, dramas, comedies and documentaries were screened.  Saturday afternoon’s student films program was hosted by Zahn McClarnon, one of the stars of LONGMIRE.  A program later that day featured films from the Skins Film Workshop in Agadir, Morocco by members of the Amazigh, an Indigenous tribe of North Africa.

 
from the Native American in Film program

The program I attended this afternoon featured a wide range of short films.  Among the most effective were a pair of comedies, EAGLE FALLS, directed by Carrie Madariaga, and RUGGED GUY, written and directed by Jason Asenap, about a young filmmaker who wants to collaborate on a film with a favorite writer who is a nightmare to deal with.  Also striking is the black & white RED GIRL’S REASONING, from Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, about a beautiful chopper-riding Indian woman in the revenge business.   It would be very interesting to see what these folks would do with a feature budget.

 
from RED GIRL'S REASONING
 
‘DR. WHO’ WESTERN AIRS MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH


Fort Bravo, in Almeria, Spain, a core of the spaghetti western world, was just the location for the Almeria Western Film Festival. But it also remains a very active shooting location, and this summer the BBC sent their DR. WHO crew to Fort Bravo to shoot A TOWN CALLED MERCY. In this episode, Matt Smith, as Dr. Who, becomes the reluctant sheriff of a Western town which is under siege by a cyborg. It’s airing on BBC America on Monday, November 19th, check your local time.



TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

And speaking of TCM (okay, nobody was), have I mentioned that the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here?






 

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepreneur 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 permanent 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 Hollywoodwestern, 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.



WELLSFARGO 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.


WESTERN ALL OVER THE DIAL


INSP’s SADDLE-UP SATURDAY features a block of rarely-seen classics THE VIRGINIAN and HIGH CHAPARRAL, along with BONANZA and THE BIG VALLEY. On weekdays they’re showing LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, BIG VALLEY, HIGH CHAPARRAL and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.


ME-TV’s Saturday line-up includes BRANDED, THE REBEL and THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT. On weekdays it’s DANIEL BOONE, GUNSMOKE, BONANZA, BIG VALLEY, WILD WILD WEST, and THE RIFLEMAN.


RFD-TV, the channel whose president bought Trigger and Bullet at auction, have a special love for Roy Rogers. They show an episode of The Roy Rogers Show on Sunday mornings, a Roy Rogers movie on Tuesday mornings, and repeat them during the week.


WHT-TV has a weekday afternoon line-up that’s perfect for kids, featuring LASSIE, THE ROY ROGERS SHOW and THE LONE RANGER.


TV-LAND angered viewers by dropping GUNSMOKE, but now it’s back every weekday, along with BONANZA.

That’s it for another Round-up!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Does anyone know of any good Thanksgiving-themed Westerns?  It seems to me that there must be a few, but I’m coming up empty.  If you can think of any, shoot us a line!

 

Happy Trails, and hope you get a drumstick,

 

Henry

 

All Original Contents Copyright November 2012 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 11, 2012

HONORING WESTERN VETS


HAPPY VETERANS DAY -- HONORING WESTERN VETS

 
Audie Murphy
 
Back on the 4th of July, 2010, I wrote an article to give a special nod of gratitude to the Westerners, both in front of and behind the camera, who did their part to keep us free.  I’m doing an update for Veterans Day, but I know that there are many names left out, and I would be grateful if readers will contribute names for inclusion.

 
Charles Durning
 
Tom Mix was an artillery sergeant in the Philippine campaign from 1898-1901. Ken Maynard fought with Gen. Pershing against Pancho Villa, and served in the First World War. Hoot Gibson was an Army Sergeant in the Tank Corps during World War One. With the outbreak of World War One, Tim McCoy organized a regiment of cavalry, and was commissioned Captain of Cavalry, later transferred to the Horse Artillery, was a Colonel by age thirty, and was appointed Adjutant General of Wyoming. He also served in the Second World War, and again achieved the rank of Colonel. Buck Jones enlisted in the Army in his teens, served first on the U.S.Mexico border, then in the Moro uprising in the Philippines. Buck reenlisted in World War One, training horses for the Allies. During World War II, Buck took part in a cross-country series of Bond Rallies. He died with hundreds of others when a fire tore through Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub.

 
Neville Brand

The two most highly decorated American soldiers of the Second World War both went on to acting careers: Audie Murphy and Charles Durning. Not far behind in honors was Neville Brand, who won the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and three Battle Stars among many other decorations. One of the Hollywood cowboys who did not return from the war was Lee Powell, U.S.M.C., the screen’s first Lone Ranger, who was killed in action on Tinian, Marianas Islands.

 
Among the many western actors who served in the Navy during World War II were Richard Boone, Ernest Borgnine, Charlton Heston, Earl Holliman, Kirk Douglas, Strother Martin, Robert Montgomery, Jack Lemmon, Wayne Morris, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, Strother Martin, Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Stack, Richard Jaekal, Lee Van Cleef, GUNSMOKE’s Dennis Weaver, and GUNSMOKE on radio’s Matt and Doc, William Conrad and Howard McNear. Harry Carey Jr. was a Navy Medical Corpsman in the Pacific. Henry Fonda won the Navy Bronze Star for Valor, Jason Robards Jr. was a radioman on duty in Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked, and Glenn Ford served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, retiring as Captain in the Naval Reserve. Humphrey Bogart, who was injured in World War One, tried to enlist in World War Two, but was turned down because of his age.

 
Those who served in the Army included John Agar, Charles Bronson, George Kennedy, Eli Wallach, Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, and Gene Evans. Forrest Tucker was in the Cavalry, Dale Robertson was in a tank battalion in North Africa,   Burt Lancaster was in the Army Special Services, and James Arness was wounded at Anzio. Mel Brooks (we’re counting BLAZING SADDLES as a western), a combat engineer, cleared German mines after the Battle of the Bulge. Gene Autry was an Army Flight Officer in the Air Transport Command.

 
Those in the Army Air Corps included Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Jack Palance, Ronald Reagan, Lee J. Cobb, Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, Tim Holt, Arthur Kennedy, Alan Ladd, Ray Milland, Cameron Mitchell, George Montgomery, Clayton Moore, Robert Preston, George Reeves, Ken Curtis and Robert Taylor.  Parley Baer, radio’s Chester, was a Captain.  Morgan Woodward was in the Air Corps in World War II, and in the Air Force in Korea. 

 
Among those who served in the Coast Guard were Alan Hale Jr., Buddy Ebsen, Cesar Romero, Jim Davis and Victor Mature.

 
And in the Marine Corps were Brian Keith, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Tyrone Power, John Russell, Robert Ryan, Sterling Hayden and Jock Mahoney.

 
Clint Walker served in the Merchant Marine.


And because actors don’t make movies by themselves, Director John Ford commanded the photography group of the OSS and was present when the troops landed on Normandy. Ford left the Navy as a Rear Admiral. Director Howard Hawks was a Lieutenant in the Signal Corps during the First World War before joining the Army Air Corps and serving in France. Directors George Roy Hill and Sam Peckinpah were Marines. Directors William Wyler, Sam Fuller, John Sturges and Don Taylor served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, as did producers Jack Warner and Daryl F. Zanuck. Writer and director Burt Kennedy was in the Army Cavalry.  Producer Saul David served in the Army. And Yakima Canutt, stunt man extraordinaire, was in the Navy during World War I.


Among those who have served since World War II are Clint Eastwood, Army; Peter Graves, Air Force; Buck Taylor, Navy; Luke Askew, Air Force and Navy; Robert Vaughn, Army drill sergeant; Clu Gulager, U.S.M.C., and James Garner and Ty Hardin, both Army in Korea. 
 

MARK OF THE GUN, ‘NEW’ B&W 1969 WESTERN COMING SOON!

 
Western fans will soon have the unique opportunity of seeing a ‘new’ black & white 1969 Western for the first time.  Fred Olen Ray, the talented and prolific director of films like BAD BLOOD: HATFIELDS & MCCOYS and AMERICAN BANDITS – FRANK AND JESSE JAMES, will be releasing the film to DVD this December.  The movie stars Ross Hagen, the handsome, gravel-voiced character actor that played likeable tough guys on both sides of the law, in cop shows and westerns.  He passed away in 2011.   

 
Ross Hagen
 

Making his first credited appearance on THE BIG VALLEY, Ross was a busy actor from the mid-sixties, when he made multiple appearances on series like GUNSMOKE, THE VIRGINIAN and HERE COME THE BRIDES.  He continued throughout his life, also writing and directing films like MURDER ON THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD (2006), and his final credits included the Western SHADOWHEART (2009), and the voice of Landon Ricketts in the RED DEAD REDEMPTION video games.

 
Hagen starred in MARK OF THE GUN in 1969.  Shot at or around the famed Iverson Movie Ranch, it’s the only directing credit of actor Wally Campo, who is still active, and worked frequently for Roger Corman in the 1960s.  Here’s the kicker – it was shot by one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, Laszlo Kovacs, just before he shot EASY RIDER!

 

Fred Olen Ray and Ross Hagen worked together on more than twenty projects.  “I bought the copyright and negative (from Ross’ estate)”, Fred told me.  “I couldn’t let it disappear.  I don’t know if it ever had a release.  There’s no evidence I can find.”  Although there is some info at IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312950/), there are absolutely zero comments, suggesting no one has seen this movie.  When Fred releases it in December, there will be extras, but I don’t yet know what they are.   I’ll be back with more details soon.

 
‘DR. WHO’ WESTERN AIRS MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH

 

Fort Bravo, in Almeria, Spain, a core of the spaghetti western world, was just the location for the Almeria Western Film Festival.  But it also remains a very active shooting location, and this summer the BBC sent their DR. WHO crew to Fort Bravo to shoot A TOWN CALLED MERCY.  In this episode, Matt Smith, as Dr. Who, becomes the reluctant sheriff of a Western town which is under siege by a cyborg.  It’s airing on BBC America on Monday, November 19th, check your local time.  For a preview, here is a two-minute montage from the episode, to the tune of GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, posted by José Manuel Hita Segura.
 





‘HEATHENS & THIEVES’ ARE EVERYWHERE!

 


Just heard from writer/co-director John Douglas Sinclair that HEATHENS & THIEVES is now available on DVD from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, CD Universe and Family Video. It’s available streaming video-on-demand at iTunes, Amazon, Bright House, Charter, CinemaNOW, Comcast, Cox, Dish Network, Google Play, Time Warner, Verizon, Vudu, Xbox Live, YouTube Movies and Walmart.com.  It’ll be available at Walmart and Redbox some time in December.  John and company got a particular kick when they checked out the YouTube Movie Page ‘Staff Picks’ last week, and found out they were #1, ahead of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and the TWILIGHT SAGA. 


‘SIX-GUNS AND SLAY BELLS’ SIGNING

 

If you’re looking for the perfect Western book to both delight and creep out your loved ones, don’t overlook SIX-GUNS AND SLAY BELLS – you can read my review HERE.  http://www.henryswesternroundup.blogspot.com/2012/10/slay-bells-ring-for-holidays.html.  And if you’re in Southern California, and would like a signed copy one of the authors, Courtney Joyner will be signing at Dark Delicacies on Friday, November 16th, at 6 p.m. http://www.darkdel.com/ .
 
 
TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

And speaking of TCM (okay, nobody was), have I mentioned that the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here?






 

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepreneur 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 permanent 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 Hollywoodwestern, 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.



WELLSFARGO 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.


WESTERN ALL OVER THE DIAL


INSP’s SADDLE-UP SATURDAY features a block of rarely-seen classics THE VIRGINIAN and HIGH CHAPARRAL, along with BONANZA and THE BIG VALLEY. On weekdays they’re showing LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, BIG VALLEY, HIGH CHAPARRAL and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.


ME-TV’s Saturday line-up includes BRANDED, THE REBEL and THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT. On weekdays it’s DANIEL BOONE, GUNSMOKE, BONANZA, BIG VALLEY, WILD WILD WEST, and THE RIFLEMAN.


RFD-TV, the channel whose president bought Trigger and Bullet at auction, have a special love for Roy Rogers. They show an episode of The Roy Rogers Show on Sunday mornings, a Roy Rogers movie on Tuesday mornings, and repeat them during the week.


WHT-TV has a weekday afternoon line-up that’s perfect for kids, featuring LASSIE, THE ROY ROGERS SHOW and THE LONE RANGER.


TV-LAND angered viewers by dropping GUNSMOKE, but now it’s back every weekday, along with BONANZA.

Veterans Day Weekend is a three-day weekend, so if you haven't had a chance to thank a vet for his or her service, you've got another chance tomorrow.  And if you already have, find another to thank.  There are plenty of men and women out there who have put their lives on the line to make us free!


Happy Trails,

Henry

All Original Contents Copyright November 2012 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 4, 2012

‘FRONTIER TALES’ & ‘MAGNIFICENT DEATH’ AT AFM


TALES OF THE FRONTIER

 

At the AMERICAN FILM MARKET, which has packed the hotels of Santa Monica all week, many of the movies and TV series represented had a notable sameness – case in point, there are at least four DRACULA movies, three in 3D!  There were Westerns, but not a ton of them, and there surely weren’t many anthology Western series.  Truth be told, there never were all that many, series television always being dominated by continuing characters.  Anthology series like DEATH VALLEY DAYS, which ran for eighteen years, and ZANE GREY THEATRE, which spawned both THE RIFLEMAN and WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, had disappeared by the end of the 1960s.  But lo and behold, there is a new one represented at the FILM MARKET: TALES OF THE FRONTIER.

 

Quietly shooting at some of the more distant Western locales like White Horse Ranch, Wooden Nickel Ranch, and even the fabled Pioneertown, director/producer Tino Luciano has put fifteen episodes in the can, and rolls on a new episode, entitled FATE, on Monday.  In addition to being a Chaplain with the Sheriff’s Department of San Bernadino County, he’s been involved with westerns for about twenty years.   He’s been on-camera on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and in shows like WILD WEST TECH.  “I own a stunt company called Real-Time Stunts, and all the stunts, the fights, the falls are choreographed by yours truly.  On Wednesday we have a body-drag being done, one of the bad guys rides into town, and he’s dragging the deputy behind him.  And I will be the stunt-dummy on that one.  My DP has to step up and play the director role when I’m on the ground.” 

 

When I caught up with him last night, at his home in Apple Valley, I told him that with a name like Tino Luciano, I’d expect him to make spaghetti westerns.

 

TINO LUCIANO:  (laughs) Not at all.  We’re true to the old west. We started Law Dog Productions in early 2012.  I’ve always been involved in Old West reenactment groups.  .  You ask any of the youth of today who Wyatt Earp was, and they have no idea.  It’s a terrible thing.  But the minute you ask who Justin Bieber is, they get all goo-goo eyed.  I really want to preserve the old west, to keep the history alive.  

 

HENRY: Are you a big fan of any western series, anthology or otherwise?

 

TINO:  No, never got into those.  Never watched HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL.  I hated BONANZA, WAGON TRAIN (laughs) – you do know I’m being facetious, right?  We’re going back to the days of old.  One thing is we’re family-friendly – our goal is to bring families back together to where they can sit and watch TV, and not have to worry about language, nudity, violence, blood and guts.  Go back to a HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL; when somebody got shot, they dropped.  Well, I love nothing more than putting squibs on somebody and watching the chest explode, but we don’t do that on TALES OF THE FRONTIER.

 

HENRY:  Do you have any continuing characters, or is it a completely different cast for every episode?

 

TINO: Out of the fifteen episodes we’ve got in the can, all of them have different casts except for one.  We brought one person back. 

 

HENRY:  GUNSMOKE was originally a half-hour show, then switched to an hour format.  I understand, due to the needs of the marketplace, you made the switch from a half to a full hour as well.

 

TINO:  What we’re doing right now is putting together a six episode boxed set of hour shows, with one 30-minute run-time, we’re calling it a bonus.  And this is what’s going to be shopped around, showing what we can do.  Instead of going to a distributor or a network with a treatment on a piece of paper, saying ‘this is what we’re thinking about doing,’ we actually have product in hand.  This is what we have done, and this is what we are capable of doing. 

 

HENRY:  I’m impressed that you travel so much for a single episode.  I know you have four locations scheduled for this show.

 

TINO:  We definitely try to get ‘out there.’  There’s nothing worse than watching an episode and it all takes place on the same exact location.  They start in the kitchen, and they remain in the kitchen.  I like to bounce around and get a variety of places.  The script calls for two different towns, and the Wooden Nickel Ranch was kind to us.  They let us get in there and dress the set and build what we wanted to.  It’s actually a horse-boarding and training facility.  They have an old town front that they actually purchased from Audie Murphy’s ranch and brought to their ranch.  

 

HENRY: What is the new episode about?

 

TINO: FATE is about a town drunk, who receives a second chance at life; he foils a bank robbery, and goes from town drunk to hero.  But then there are some bad men coming after him, and he has to make a decision: does he run, or does he stand up for this town.

 

Amy Jennings, who played Martha, Dr. Sarah’s right hand in YELLOW ROCK, is the female lead, the town-drunk-turned-hero’s romantic interest.  “There’s a prostitute, and there’s my character, and we’re both widows.  And because of his alcoholism he’s kind of gone down the wrong path. Tino and I actually met about another project, and he said, ‘I’ve got this thing going on right now.  Would you be interested?’  I’m working with them on a feature that’s going to be shooting next spring.  It’s also a western.  And that’s something we’re really just in the beginning stages of writing.”  

 
Amy Jennings, right with Lenore Andriel at Melody Ranch
 

I asked Tino about the feature, and he told me, “We’re slated for principal photography on March the 4th.”  Tino told me what it’s about, and it’s a terrific premise.  When he gives me the go-ahead, I’ll share it in the Round-up.  In the meantime, to see the trailer for the TALES OF THE FRONTIER episode entitled RETRIBUTION, click the link below.




WESLEY SNIPES IS BACK IN ‘GALLOWWALKERS’ HORROR-WESTERN
 
 

He won’t be out of prison, for income tax evasion, until the summer of 2013, but Wesley Snipes has a new movie that just premiered as part of the UK’s FILM4 FrightFest in London’s West End. 

 

Shot in Namibia’s breathtakingly beautiful and stark Namib Desert in 2006, just prior to Snipes incarceration (he was allowed to go back to Africa and finish the film before entering lock-up), the story follows Snipes character, Aman, a gunslinger with a curse: anyone he kills will return from the dead to hunt him, so they’ll presumably have to be killed again, perhaps frequently.  Also in the cast are BEVERLY HILLS 90210 regular Riley Smith, beautiful Simona Brhlikova of CASINO ROYALE, and Patrick Bergin, who stars in my film, DOUBLE CROSS.

 

Check out the trailer!

 





NEW WESTERN ‘MAGNIFICENT DEATH’ ANNOUNCED AT AFM

 

Nick Nolte, Jeremy Irons and Thomas Jane will star in A MAGNIFICENT DEATH FROM A SHATTERED HAND, to be directed by Jane from a script by Jane and Jose Prendes.  In what suggests a western take on THE FUGITIVE, a former soldier falsely accused of rape and murder must keep on the run as he tries to discover the truth behind the crime, and clear his name.  Jane told Dave McNary in VARIETY, “My intention is for the movie to utilize themes that characterize the classic Western films – of rugged individualism versus civic duty, of personal valor versus the violence of pre-civil worlds (pre Civil War?) – to create…rousing entertainment.” 

 

Jeremy Irons, Oscar-winner for REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, made an impressive Western debut as the lead villain in 2008’s APPALOOSA.  Thrice Oscar-nominated Nick Nolte has done little Western-work aside from a GUNSMOKE episode, but his first lead was in a 1969 WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY episode, ‘The Feather Farm,’ where he played a cowboy at an ostrich farm, and did a damned fine job of riding one of the birds!

 

‘LUCKY LUKE’ CARTOONS ON ‘CINEMOI’ AMERICAN TV!    

 

Many English-speaking fans of the delightfully goofy movies and TV episodes starring Terence Hill as the cowboy hero Lucky Luke are unaware that the character first appeared in French comic strips in 1946, and has been tremendously popular ever since.  Cinemoi, a cable channel with a French accent, is now running THE NEW ADVENTURES OF LUCKY LUKE cartoons in an hour block starting at 5:00 a.m. Western time.  Both an homage and a spoof of Westerns, what I saw (admittedly not a whole episode yet) was pretty funny stuff.

 

BRANDO’S ‘ONE-EYED JACKS’ AT THE AUTRY SAT.  NOV. 10

 

On Saturday, November 10th, at 1:30 PM, the Autry, in their continuing series, ‘What Is A Western?’ will show the only movie Marlon Brando ever directed, ONE-EYED JACKS (1961).  Brando plays an outlaw freed from prison, who tracks down his accomplice Karl Malden, now a respectable lawman.  With a dream Western cast that includes Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens, Timothy Carey, Elisha Cook Jr., Rodolfo Acosta, Hank Worden, and even Snub Pollard (Tex Ritter’s old sidekick).  Before the great Calder Willingham and Guy Trosper finished the final screenplay, Rod Serling and Sam Peckinpah had taken a whack at it.  Curator Jeffrey Richardson will introduce the film. 

 
 
 
TCM FANATIC - WESTERN NOW ONLINE!

And speaking of TCM (okay, nobody was), have I mentioned that the segment I was interviewed for is now viewable here?






 

THE AUTRY NATIONAL CENTER

Built by cowboy actor, singer, baseball and TV entrepreneur 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 permanent 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 Hollywoodwestern, 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.



WELLSFARGO 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.





WESTERN ALL OVER THE DIAL



INSP’s SADDLE-UP SATURDAY features a block of rarely-seen classics THE VIRGINIAN and HIGH CHAPARRAL, along with BONANZA and THE BIG VALLEY. On weekdays they’re showing LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, BIG VALLEY, HIGH CHAPARRAL and DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.



ME-TV’s Saturday line-up includes BRANDED, THE REBEL and THE GUNS OF WILL SONNETT. On weekdays it’s DANIEL BOONE, GUNSMOKE, BONANZA, BIG VALLEY, WILD WILD WEST, and THE RIFLEMAN.



RFD-TV, the channel whose president bought Trigger and Bullet at auction, have a special love for Roy Rogers. They show an episode of The Roy Rogers Show on Sunday mornings, a Roy Rogers movie on Tuesday mornings, and repeat them during the week.



WHT-TV has a weekday afternoon line-up that’s perfect for kids, featuring LASSIE, THE ROY ROGERS SHOW and THE LONE RANGER.



TV-LAND angered viewers by dropping GUNSMOKE, but now it’s back every weekday, along with BONANZA.

That's it for tonight's Round-up.  We've got a lot of good stuff to look forward to: Speilberg's LINCOLN opens next week, and DJANGO UNCHAINED opens next month!

Happy Trails,

Henry

All Original Contents Copyright November 2012 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved