Sunday, September 19, 2010


(Note: This is the second of two articles about my visits to the set of YELLOW ROCK. If you’d like to read the first article, CLICK HERE.)

(Updated 9/24/2010 - see DUCK YOU SUCK AT BILLY WILDER)

On my second visit to the set of YELLOW ROCK, the new Western starring Michael Biehn, James Russo, and directed by Nick Vallelonga, I walked into a clearing to find leading lady Lenore Andriel bound to a bench in the sun. She was heavily costumed, and the day was hot – certainly over 100 degrees at times. Generally you’d say this was no way to treat an actress, but Lenore couldn’t very well complain: after all, she wrote the scene herself, with writing and producing partner Steven Doucette. And to the crew’s credit, everyone moved quickly to hasten the end of Ms. Andriel’s discomfort, a testimony to how well-liked she is. On most other sets I’ve been on, having the star/writer/producer tied in the sun would be the signal for the lunch break.

(Photos, top to bottom: costume designer Catherine Elhoffer; Michael Spears, Lenore Andriel and Michael Biehn between takes; make-up assistant Pat Harris; propmaster Corey Ramirez and art director Zack Smith confer; wranglers Ardeshir Radpour and Kevin McNiven examine their image on an iphone, agree that they look like real cowboys; Zack Smith; Catherine Elhoffer adjusts armband on Michael Spears; producer and co-writer Steve Doucette; Kevin McNiven gets a horse into position to revive Michael Spear; producer Tony Lawrence; Michael and Eddie Spears wait between takes; producer and ranch owner Daniel Veluzat; next set-up!)

“If you need the dirt while I’m gone, it’s in my backpack,” the wardrobe assistant called to costume designer Catherine Elhoffer as she hurried back to base camp. Catherine came to California from the ‘Gateway To The West’, St. Louis, Missouri a little over a year ago, but this is not her first Western. “I’ve done several with Peter (Sherayko) before. I did an AFI thesis film, DEAD GRASS, DRY ROOTS, set in 1865 in Utah. I’ve also done RELATIVE STRANGER, a New York Film Academy thesis, set in 1860-1870 Texas. When I got onto this job I told them about Peter and his amazing collection of stuff, and they got him on too, so I could use his wardrobe collection, which is awesome.” (To read an in-depth interview with Peter Sherayko, CLICK HERE.)
HENRY: What year is YELLOW ROCK set in?
CATHERINE ELHOFFER: Mostly in 1880. It opens in 1860, and our final scene is in 1890.
H: What are the differences as you go from decade to decade within the 1800s?
CE: There’s quite a difference in women’s clothing, but since we only have a few women, I don’t have to worry about that too much. With Indians, though, there’s a huge change. In the 1860s, even in California, the white man hadn’t influenced the Indians as badly as he had by the 1880s. By then, most Indians were wearing ‘white-man’ clothing, very little of their own traditional stuff. And by the 1890s, we’d assimilated their civilization almost entirely. But this is a hold-out tribe, so we’re able to play much more with what Indians would be wearing. And the Spears brothers (acting brothers Michael and Eddie Spears) have been a huge help. They just came in and showed me exactly what they would want to wear, as their characters – brilliant.
H: What are your favorite westerns?
KE: I love modern westerns, made in the last five years, where they try to stick to historical accuracy. THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD – the costumes were spectacular. DANCES WITH WOLVES, and of course I loved DEADWOOD: I think it’s one of the best things to happen to our industry.
H: What’s the biggest challenge in costuming a Western?
KE: Historical accuracy is always the hardest. I try my best to be accurate to what men and women actually wore, which is difficult with actors. They want it more fancy, or they want more stuff than people actually had then – too many changes (of wardrobe). Cowboys were very simple. They didn’t have chaps, they didn’t have more than they could carry on their horse. They only had one shirt, one pair of pants. The bad guys are the hardest, because we have this modern take: the bad guys should be wearing a black coat, the good guy should wear white, the good guy should be much prettier than the bad guy. All these things come into designing any kind of films, but westerns – it’s also that women don’t like to be dirty. We’re using lots of Fuller’s Earth (make-up artist’s fake dirt) – it’s great, you can do so much with that. And some of the actors love to get down and roll in the dirt -- I love when they’re not afraid to get dirty themselves. We want to keep them dirty, but consistently dirty – the hardest part is continuity. But it’s so much fun! I absolutely love westerns: I love getting dirty! Like I come out just covered in dust – the way it should be.

Of course, making Westerns isn’t just about dirt. It’s also about blood. “I love blood, as long as it’s not mine!” laughs make-up assistant Pat Harris, working on her first Western, having just finished a webisode series. I asked her how the shoot’s been going. “Great – I love it! I love westerns. I’m a cowboy fan.” Who’s her favorite? “I love Gene Autry. I’m a cowboy fan, so this has truly been an experience for me. Great cast, great to work with, especially James Russo, Michael Biehn, and Michael Spears is fabulous, just fabulous. And it’s a really great story.” What are the challenges to doing make-up on a Western? “Dirt! Sweat! Heat – those are the challenges.” Running into a lot of tattoos? “Not too much. Just a lot of dirt, a lot of sweat. And blood.”

Like so much of the crew of YELLOW ROCK, production designer Christian Ramirez was first brought onto a Western set by, you guessed it, Peter Sherayko. “I first met Peter in 1992, on THE GREY KNIGHT – it was a Civil War zombie movie with Billy Bob Thornton. Peter played a Colonel, and he said, ‘I need people to come out and play in this western we’re doing next year, called TOMBSTONE.’ And he brought together all these experts from all these different places, country-wide, at one place and one time. Experts on guns, leather-making, saddles, horse-stunts. I was 22 at this time, and all these men were teaching me. I appreciated it at the time, but I appreciate it so much more now.”
H: What are your favorite westerns?
CHRISTIAN RAMIREZ: TOMBSTONE, of course. I like all the John Ford westerns, one of my favorites is FORT APACHE. Not just for the authenticity of the soldiers, but the Indians are all real Indians. When they have the Apaches attacking, they’re real Apaches! (Note: Christian should know: he’s half German, half Mescalero Apache.) One of the things about old Hollywood is they didn’t have all the regulations we have now. So when a guy fell off a horse, you went, wow, is that guy dead? Because he really fell off the horse. The horsemanship was just incredible. Plus you had John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and all these great actors. I liked the remake of 3:10 TO YUMA a lot. What I like about westerns since TOMBSTONE, it was the first movie that had the look of the real west, how the cowboy really looked. Before, when they’d try to recreate the old west in film, they’d do everything dusty brown, dirty. Nothing was bright or flashy. In TOMBSTONE you saw bright colors and tall boots. The time of the west was the Victorian age – the time of the Victorian man. You saw people walking down the street wearing bowlers and walking sticks! What I try to tell directors all the time is, they weren’t coming out here to be the scum of the Earth. They were coming out here to recreate the east – with themselves at the top. So they wanted the luxuries of the east here in the west – they didn’t want to be dirty and scummy.

My first day on the set, I’d asked Christian what the most demanding part of the filming would be from the standpoint of production design. “There’s not a lot of heavy building on this show, it’s mostly (set) dressing, but there are a few heavy builds we’re going to have to do. One is the large Indian village. And we’re going to have an Indian burial ground, like the scene from JEREMIAH JOHNSON, with the scaffolding. We’ll have skeletons and mummies and that sort of thing. Also we’re going to build a mine shaft where they’re going to have a big fight. ”

Now it’s a week later, and the bench where Lenore is tied is just down from the entrance to the mine that, though apparently decades old, is brand new. The movie is being shot on Red Digital cameras, almost always with two cameras simultaneously covering each scene from different perspectives. It not only makes for a faster shoot, filming with two cameras is crucial for continuity when working with horses, who can’t be expected to do actions exactly the same way twice.

As director Nick Vallelonga is framing the scene, James Russo talks with the other actors about the relative merits of Andy Devine and Gabby Hayes as sidekicks. He does a good imitation of each. Onto the set comes the production designer’s younger brother, Corey Ramirez, the film’s propmaster. Corey looks like the walk-down scene from THE WILD BUNCH, with Bill Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates compressed into one man: gunbelts circle his waist, criss-cross his chest; rifles jut from under his arms. I asked Corey what his most important responsibility was on the set. He grins. “It’s to make sure that all the actors have all their weapons, and that I can get them back after every shot. Because if I don’t get ‘em back, and they set ‘em down somewhere, and we go for the next shot, then we’re pretty screwed if we don’t have them.”

Mark Turner is also in the props department. I’m told he specializes in making weapons that hopefully won’t kill people. “That’s exactly right. Actually I take a rubber mold off of steel weapons and reproduce them in rubber and polyurethane, plastic, etc. etc. – and they look pretty good, I think. I love making these things as convincing as possible, as accurate as we can do it, so we do the research, and it’s not about taking artistic license, it’s about historic authenticity. And the truth is more fascinating than fiction. I did ANDREW JACKSON, a two hour tv movie for the History Channel. I did VALKYRIE, the World War II picture. I recreated some military vehicles for them, taking measurements from originals and reproducing them. I was on location, in a uniform, helping them move the vehicles. Most of it was shot in Germany, but the early stuff, the North African Campaign, was shot around Victorville. I’ve made props for SPIKE-TV’s DEADLIEST WARRIOR, things for THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL. I love historic themes. People know me for that, so that what I get called for.”

The next scene to be shot involves actor Clay Wilcox, who unties a skittish horse – the animal bolts away, a hoof crushing Clay’s foot in the process. It’s a tricky scene to stage – it has to look real, but not so real that the actor starts walking like Walter Brennan. The sequence is broken into several separate actions: the untying, the horse breaking away, the horse running past, the apparent foot crushing, the horse disappearing in the distance as Clay hobbles away. The horse’s actions are all overseen by the film’s two wranglers, Kevin McNiven, from Wyoming, and Ardeshir Radpour, from Los Angeles. I asked them how many horses they were working with.
KEVIN MCNIVEN: We’ve got thirteen here on this little set today. We brought them down from Wyoming. It’s kind of nice to come down from the cold weather to this hot weather.
H: Have you done a lot of westerns?
KM: Yeah, thirty or forty. We’ve been involved with them for the last twenty-five years. We’ve done THE PATRIOT, THE POSTMAN, GERONIMO, FAR AND AWAY, LEGACY, SEASONS OF THE HEART. And for the History Channel, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and LEWIS AND CLARK. And SHADOWHEART with Peter just last year. We’re part of Caravan West. It’s a nice break from ranching. Addie, here, does a lot of polo.
ARDESHIR RADPOUR: Yes, I play polo professionally, and I ride the horse at all the USC football games.
H: What drew you to horses?
AR: My family has always ridden. It’s a long-standing tradition in my family.
H: Do you have a favorite western?
AR: I’d have to say UNFORGIVEN.
KM: My favorite’s the one I’m working on at the time.
H: I hear you’re a singing cowboy as well as a wrangler.
KM: That’s right. I sing and play for the state of Wyoming, as sort of a singing ambassador. Back east, in Europe, in Hanover, Germany for the World’s Fair, to promote Wyoming tourism. If you want to know more, you can go to America’s (CLICK HERE)

As the filming progresses, the man who seems to be everywhere at once is art director Zack Smith, taking care of a thousand tiny details, even raking over the dirt between takes, to hide how many times the horses have walked through the same stretch. “The weather’s been a big issue because it’s been so hot – we have to keep an eye on the horses and the crew in general. But really, it’s a matter of giving the production what they ask for.”
H: So, what do they ask for?
ZACK SMITH: That the sets be built properly, with everything authentic. Because when the locations and the props are right, and you bring in the actors and dress them in the actual period clothing, that puts them right into character. It may be only a 5% piece of a scene, but when they get those 5% correct, everything is correct and it’s legitimate, and people (in the audience) understand it even if they don’t know what they’re looking at. It’s attempting to give the production continuously what they want, on the fly – when they change something up that day.
H: What movies have great art direction? What impresses you?
ZS: Realism. Movies like HOMBRE with Paul Newman, and JEREMIAH JOHNSON. You know, with JEREMIAH JOHNSON, they just took (Robert Redford) out into the woods, and they made the movie out there, and that was it. There was nothing to get in the way of the realism. And it’s raw and very simple.

Steve Doucette, co-writer and executive producer of YELLOW ROCK, tells me, “I’ve always been a big fan of westerns,” but he’d never written one before. His favorites? “THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING, GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, RED RIVER – so many of them. They were all very story-driven, and that’s one thing I like a lot about Westerns. There’s not a lot of special effects and eye candy, it’s just good story telling.” His favorite director? “It’s hard to top Ford. John Sturges, and Peckinpah’s fun. Those are the ones.”
I asked how long it took him and Lenore to write and package YELLOW ROCK. “It was written in about two weeks, and of course normally you go through rewrites, and polishing it – that happens right down to the first day of shooting. But after Lenore and I wrote that first draft, we didn’t even do a rewrite until a couple of weeks before the actual shoot started. Because we were putting something together – we were wearing a lot of hats. So by the time we had a chance to sit back down and do a rewrite, it was the final shooting script. And that’s really a credit to Lenore Andriel who put a lot of work into this.
“We came up with the whole concept together, kind of stumbled on it. We’ve collaborated on a few scripts, THE SNOW PRINCE and DANNY MACKENNA, which might be our next project. But we’re falling in love with the idea of doing another western. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, THE PROPOSITION, it’s a great gritty movie, very authentic, and that’s what I’m looking for. We’re very fortunate to have the actors we have here – to have got a Michael Biehn and a James Russo in an ultra-low budget SAG film like this is terrific. And Peter Sherayko delivered ten-fold. We have the best movie-horses in the world. We even have the Spears brothers, two of the hottest Native American actors in the business. We’re thrilled with our cast, our set design, and everybody’s really nice – and that’s unusual from what I’m told. We feel blessed. Because of what happened in 1849, 100,000 people came into the west, and the Indians started getting pushed farther and farther off of their land. It’s a story about gold, the greed of man, what it leads to. I think we’re telling an important story, one which has been told before, but I don’t think you can tell it enough.”

Producer Tony Lawrence agrees. A friend of Steve and Lenore for nearly twenty years, YELLOW ROCK came up at an opportune time. “Last year was probably the biggest box-office year in the history of film, but they made the least amount of movies, so there was no work. We had production companies coming to us and saying, ‘Do you have a story?’ So (Steve and Lenore) said they’d write a suspense thriller that takes place out in the woods. And I wasn’t so excited. And then I had an idea that it could take place on Indian lands. And I told them the true story of the Quechan Indians, when they discovered gold on their burial ground. And the government came in. I thought this story paralleled AVATAR, which had just come out: you have a natural resource, we want it, we come and take it. I thought, wow, this is great, but we didn’t want to use that exact story. So I brought it to Steve and Lenore and they concocted this thing about the cowboys going into the mountains. We wanted to have kind of a message – you know, people know about the plight of the Indians, but they really don’t know. If they did, they’d be appalled. You know that we owe them; you know that they were betrayed. So we thought we’d have something of a message. Billy Rose said something that I always apply: ‘Don’t preach, and wrap it in chocolate.’”
I asked him how many shooting days are planned.
“We’re scheduled for thirteen, but we might get away with twelve or eleven, depending on how fast we move. I grew up with Westerns – I grew up with RED RIVER, TRUE GRIT, MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. I like all genres, but as I get older, I stick with the younger. What’s really beneficial for us, I looked at Publisher’s Weekly, and the book that’s the pick of the month is called YELLOW DIRT! What’s the story? Close to ours, except that it’s uranium the government wants. And what’s the biggest new video game of the year? RED DEAD REDEMPTION. And what is it about? Cowboys and Indians. And they’re interacting with this game all over the world simultaneously! Now they’re remaking TRUE GRIT. You know, timing is everything in life, no matter what you do. Hopefully we can ride that wave.”

It’s late in the day, maybe four, and hot. As if director Nick Vallelonga doesn’t have enough to deal with, he’s been stung by a bee. Michael Spears lays face down on the ground, unconscious, a bullet wound, beautifully created by the make-up artist, gracing his arm. His horse finds him, licks his face, awakens him. Wrangler Kevin McNiven warns the camera crew about the angle – if they tilt up too much, the camera will catch that the horse is actually eating horse feed beside Michael’s face. I’ve drunk three bottles of water, but the 100 + degree heat is getting to me. Art director Zack Smith looks dubiously at me, gets a spritz bottle and sprays me down.

Standing with me is Daniel Veluzat, a third generation Western-location owner, as well as a producer on YELLOW ROCK. How did his family get into the movie business? “Well, my Grandfather, Paul Veluzat, purchased this ranch in 1939. He was making westerns way back then, running cattle, raising race horses. He was born in 1898, rode with Pancho Villa, became a Texas Ranger. He died in 2000, he lived in three centuries – 101 years old – and the marker on his grave says that he was the oldest living Texas Ranger. We now also own the Melody Ranch (CLICK HERE for my story on Melody Ranch). They’ve done 1,900 Westerns there and here from 1915 to the present. HIGH NOON, RIN TIN TIN, ANNIE OAKLEY, THE VIRGINIAN, GUNSMOKE. Michael Biehn did THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN series, four seasons of DEADWOOD, WILD BILL, and most recently JONAH HEX.
“I was going down on movie sets with my father when I was about eight years old. One of the first sets I went on was MACMILLAN AND WIFE. Right now we’re standing in the woods, on the ranch, right where we used to shoot the BRET MAVERICK series, with James Garner. They did a lot of their woods and riding scenes here. I remember a scene right here where Mr. Garner pulled a man out of quicksand: a lot of memories over the years. He’s a terrific actor obviously, and a great person on top of it.” Why did he switch from simply renting the ranch to coming on board as a producer? He was impressed with the people and the script. “Besides,” he adds with a grin, “There’s nothing like making a western. They’re difficult to make, you’ve got the cast, you’ve got to work with those horses. But this has an amazing cast. And they’re ahead of schedule. Any time you can do that, you’ve got the right people in place, you’re working on a diamond in the rough.”

Director Nick Vallelonga is disarmingly modest. When I said I’d heard he had a considerable track record, he corrected me. “I have a little track record. I’ve done a few films with Michael Biehn. The last one I did was with him and James Russo, called STILLETO. And I worked with another of the actors, Chris Backus, on a film called ALL IN. I wrote a picture a long time ago, DEADFALL, with Michael and Nicholas Cage, that’s how I got to know him. It was being a western that interested me. Lenore and Steve had written a script, and they came to me and said would you direct? I came on board and I saw that they already had a lot of good stuff – they had Peter and what he was bringing to the table, they had Daniel Veluzat, so I thought, the production level is high, these guys know westerns very well. I said yes, I’d love to do it. I brought a couple of actors on that I thought would help the project. James Russo from OPEN RANGE and BROKEN TRAIL, of course Michael Biehn from TOMBSTONE. The whole cast is great.” Does he have any favorite Westerns? “I love them, all the classic ones. John Wayne, MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, THE SHOOTIST, all the John Fords – I mean, every John Wayne. The quintessential American film is the Western.”


On Saturday, September 25th, CBS Studio Center in Studio City will revert for one day to its earlier identity: the headquarters of Republic Pictures, the great Western and Serial thrill-factory! This FREE EVENT will run from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., and will include screenings of features, serial chapters and trailers, live swing and western music, guest speakers, celebrities, gun spinners, rope twirlers, trick horses, cowboy poets, memorabilia, a special Republic Pictures stamp cancellation ceremony of the Cowboys of the Silver Screen postage stamps, food – all the stuff that right-thinking kids of all ages love – because after all, Republic’s business was, above all, to entertain kids, and they did it like no other studio!

Among the Republic alumni who will be attending are Theodore Bikel, Adrian Booth, Michael Chapin, Ben Cooper, Robert Easton, Coleen Gray, Eilene Janssen, Anne Jeffreys, Dickie Jones, Jane Kean, Joan Leslie, Marjorie Lord,
Jimmy Lydon, Donna Martell, Hugh O'Brian, Peggy Stewart
and Jane Withers. Other special guests will include Diana Canova, Ty Hardin, Herb Jeffries, Andrew Prine and William Smith. Panel Moderator will be Leonard Maltin.

The site of Republic Studios is steeped in movie history. Mack Sennett bought the land to move his Comedy Factory from Edendale to the San Fernando Valley, but this was just when sound was coming in, and Sennett’s style of comedy was going out. Here W.C. Fields starred in his great Sennett shorts, THE PHARMACIST, THE BARBER SHOP, THE DENTIST and THE FATAL GLASS OF BEER, and Bing Crosby starred in his Sennett two-reelers, but soon Sennett had to sell. Next came Nat Levine’s Mascot Studios, where Tom Mix made his last films, and John Wayne made three serials.

Meanwhile, Herbert J. Yates ran Consolidated Film Laboratories, a lab that processed most of the poverty row studios’ footage. Such companies were always behind in their payments, and in 1935, Yates called in everyone’s paper, took over several small companies, including Monogram Pictures (which would later rise again as an independent) and combined them into Republic Pictures, locating them at the old Sennett/Mascot lot.

I’ll be having more details as the main event nears, and you can CLICK HERE to go to the official website.


The UCLA Film and Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theater, at the Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90024, will screen Sergio Leone's DUCK, YOU SUCKER! (a.k.a. A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE) 1971, starring James Coburn, Rod Steiger and Maria Monti. When it was first released in the U.S., it ran 120 minutes, but this is the original 160 minute version! It screens at 7:30.


Join the Autry in celebrating the birth of "America's Favorite Singing Cowboy," Gene Autry. Museum visitors can enjoy Gene Autry movie screenings throughout the day, buy $10 Gene Autry DVDs in the Autry Store (a 50% discount), get a birthday treat in the Golden Spur Cafe (free for Autry members), and receive 20% off all membership levels—enjoy the Autry member benefits for one year for as low as $36! 10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Rope and Wire, a website that describes itself as, “ a gathering place for Western Writers, Cowboys Poets and Old Western Movies Buffs,” is sponsoring a Western short story contest. Entries need to be unpublished, in English, between 2,500 and 4,000 words. The deadline is November 30th, and there is a $15 entrance fee – you can enter more than one story, but you pay each time. The more entries, the bigger the prizes – 1st prize wins $5 out of each entry, 2nd prize wins $3 of each entry, and 3rd prize wins $2 from each entry. For more details, CLICK HERE for the Rope and Wire site. Good luck! And by the way, the site has links to TONS of on-line B-westerns!


Chili cook-off, vendors, country music, Old West shootout, food, beer and wine, carnival booths, dunk tank, pie-eating contest, kids’ activities. Proceeds benefit U.S. military troops and their families. St. Margaret’s Episcopal School at Gateway Field. 949) 248-9468


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.



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. Currently they have THE ART OF NATIVE AMERICAN BASKETRY: A LIVING TRADITION, through November 7th. I've seen the show three times, and am continually astonished at the beauty and variety of the work of the various tribes. The Autry has many special programs every week -- sometimes several in a day. To check their daily calendar, CLICK HERE. And they always have gold panning for kids every weekend. For directions, hours, admission prices, and all other information, CLICK HERE.


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


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


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


Check out your cable system for WHT, which stands for World Harvest Television. It's a religious network that runs a lot of good western programming. Your times may vary, depending on where you live, but weekdays in Los Angeles they run THE LONE RANGER at 1:30 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.

I'll have some screening information, and hopefully more details about the Republic Anniversary, later in the week.

Until then,



All contents copyright September 2010 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved


  1. I know, I know, I shouldn't mention it. You are just quoting Zack Smith, but someone should mention that Paul Newman was not in HONDO. It was John Wayne. Sorry for the interuption, go back to what you were doing. Now you can feel free to critique my blog:

  2. Jeff Hildebrandt is absolutely correct -- but it's my mistake, not Zack's. I transcribed it wrong: He said HOMBRE, not HONDO, starring Paul Newman. By the way, I just checked out Jeff's site, and I particularly like the poem GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY.

  3. I witnessed one great day of the shoot. Thanks for having me. Shawna