Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mary and Rhoda airing on Hallmark!

Looks like they made it after all!

Despite the fact that Mary and Rhoda scored almost 18 million viewers when it premiered on February 7th, 2000 on ABC, I somehow managed to miss it. How did that happen? Two of my favorite TV girls reuniting decades later and I wasn't there! Where was I? I can't correctly recall now but I'm sure whatever I was doing, it wasn't nearly as fun.

Mary and Rhoda was originally intended to be a television series but the suits at ABC weren't happy with the pilot (suits = bah) and decided to have a one off film, which turned out to be incredibly successful, beating out that night's competitors (as if there were any questions!).

So, I was thrilled to see that the Hallmark Channel is airing Mary and Rhoda on Sunday, April 1st at 8pm! And to make life even sweeter, they are also hosting an all day marathon of The Mary Tyler Moore Show starting at 10am - after 4 episodes of the Golden Girls. I think this might be heaven. I know I say that a lot, but this time I do think this might actually be heaven, or at least sitcom heaven... Although I am sure the wardrobe won't be quite as groovy.

Here is the opening to Mary and Rhoda. And yes, that is Joan Jett singing the theme! My, how times have changed!

And check out the Mary and Rhoda page at Rhoda online.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dallas: Premiere Air Date

Dallas 2012 is just around the corner. TNT officially set the release date for June 13th, 2012, and they're getting the whole shebang off the ground with a 2 hour episode, which I like to call a TV movie! I am very excited for this reboot. Word on the street has it that Sue Ellen is now running Ewing Oil. I'm sure she kept J.R.'s wet bar in its proper place.

Will you watch the new Dallas?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Elevator (1974)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: February 9th, 1974

It was the 70s and disaster was in the air. We mostly got it via Irwin Allen, who made blowing up big things pretty great. The small screen got in on the action too – Allen himself produced some of them, including Flood (1976) and Fire (1977) – but their smaller budgets wouldn’t always allow for such grandiose detonations and many TV movies opted for a claustrophobic slant. Terror on the 40th Floor made a decent, but flawed attempt at this approach, but The Elevator managed its confined setting in much more assured ways.

The Elevator is an all star event. Who knew you could cram Craig Stevens, Myrna Loy, Arlene Golonka, Teresa Wright, Roddy McDowall and James Farentino into one tin box? There’s even more packed in there, but those were the faces I instantly recognized. They are trapped somewhere between floors in a high-rise building that has closed for a long holiday. Even worse, the elevator seems to be stuck somewhere between the ten floors that are still under construction. On the outside are Don Stroud and Carol Lynley. Along with Farentino, this gorgeous threesome has just robbed and murdered someone in the building. Unfortunately, as Irene (Lynley) waits patiently in the getaway car, Pete (Stroud) is separated from Eddie (Farentino) and left outside the congested elevator. When Pete finally gets back to Irene, he realizes Eddie never made it and he has to re-break into the building. Eddie has a lot on his plate though, as he suffers claustrophobia and is not having a good time at all, especially with Amanda (Loy) gabbing on and on about a lot of nothing. She had ventured into the building in the hopes of finding a nice office for her son to lease. It is here she meets cranky leasing agent Marvin (McDowall), and he enlists Dr. Stewart Reynolds' (Stevens) classy office as an example of what this new skyscraper has to offer. This is pretty much how they all end up together on the elevator, which is set to plummet a few dozen floors at any minute. There’s also a rich kid who wants his trust fund to go directly into his teenage pocket and his mother who would like her son to be able to grow a beard before he can shop at Hermes. And Dr. Reynolds' wife (Wright) has also come aboard the deadly lift unaware that her husband has been knocking boots with his nurse (Golonka).

As you can guess, heavy melodrama ensues, and eventually Eddie just wants them all to save the drama for their mama and he pulls out his gun. He keeps creating problems for this motley band of potential victims while they work out their personal problems.

The Elevator is fairly suspenseful. Obviously, a huge chunk of the movie takes place in a very small setting, but director Jerry Jameson keeps things moving with the story involving Stroud and Lynley. Jameson would become an old pro at small screen disasters afterwards and would go on to direct Terror on the 40th Floor and Hurricane (both in 1974). According to IMDb, actor David Ketchum, who is probably best known as playing Agent 13 on Get Smart, co-wrote this movie with Bruce Sheeley and Rhonda Blecker (who IMDb lists as uncredited). This was Sheeley and Blecker’s only script and Ketchum’s lone TV movie, although he’s penned everything from episodes of Love, American Style to MacGyver. It’s an interesting scenario and well done. There were many moments I wondered how they were going to get out of that elevator or at least escape Eddie’s unfair treachery. For the most part, it all ties together nicely, although some stories are never resolved or hardly touched upon at all, such as Dr. Reynolds' affair, which is practically forgotten about in the first half.

Marvin and Amanda are the most fun characters to watch and while you are pretty certain as to what Amanda’s motives are from the get-go, Loy gives a sweet, sympathetic turn as her story evolves and we see how loneliness often befalls the citizens of an urban landscape, despite their physical closeness to one another. I guess there’s a message there, but luckily it never interferes with the melodrama and action, making The Elevator a pretty great ABC Movie of the Week.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Made for TV Machismo: Playgirl Style

I think it will come as no surprise when I say that many of the actors of 70s television exuded S-E-X. That’s just the way it was with those tanned gods of the airwaves. I have always been about the machismo, and while the 80s took it to superhuman level, I thought the 70s was a nice balanced point for rippling muscles. It just so happens that the 70s was also the decade Playgirl hit the magazine stands. Douglas Lambert founded it in 1973 although he credited his wife Jenny with the idea. In a 1987 interview Lambert attributed the magazine’s success to its “clear focus” and reported that at one point they had over 2 million subscribers.

Playgirl was indeed a phenomenon that happened to be in just the right place at the right time. In an era of bra burning, it was only a matter of time before objectification of gender switched. Although the founder says the original intent of Playgirl was to hit a female audience with something new, Playgirl has also always been synonymous with the gay movement. In short, they successfully pleased many. I can’t say I was a regular reader of the magazine (and I use the word reader lightly, perhaps gawker is better), I do remember obtaining a copy back in the mid 80s. My first naked man came via those pages of Playgirl, and I think it kept me away from real naked men for quite some time. Yikes! But now that I’m older and, uh, better equipped for this sort of thing, I’ve been getting nostalgic for the decade where men willingly shared their, uh, assets with their fans! According Jacki King, who did an article in 1974 for the Associated Press, none of the actors were paid. He said (and I quote) “they did it for the exposure.” Sometimes the jokes just write themselves! Playgirl was popular enough that Penthouse spawned its own imitator called Viva, after Bob Guccione declared naked men as “lewd.”

Hollywood-gossip-columnist-turned-Playgirl-centerfold-booker Toni Holt hated the word beefcake and she didn’t care how good your body was if you had “dead eyes” (which means Jaws wouldn't have been able to pose). She also said looking at the naked male was healthy, because viewing male nudity was, until the more liberating 70s, a secretive practice which was now being flounced around for everyone and their grandmothers to ogle over. I think we call that a breakthrough. Originally, most of the actors did not reveal everything, with arms and other things covering up the proper business. However, this wasn’t always the case, as a couple of actors did ask to have more explicit photo shoots. However, I discovered that by end of Playgirl’s extremely successful first year of publication, the less is more tactic became no more.

Of all the Playgirl factoids I learned while researching this article, I was most struck with the detail that Lyle Waggoner was the first centerfold for Playgirl. That’s right, after June of 1973 things were never the same! I adore Lyle but was admittedly a tad shocked. But that’s what started this journey, as I started looking up some of my favorite actors and discovered that many of them got buck-naked on those glossy pages. I thought I’d compile a list and share some thoughts on some of my favorite small screen machismo. And for better or worse, I decided to go PG-13 with the pics. If you care to check out the real thing go to this site.

Lyle Waggoner: Gorgeous was never so good natured. Lyle is most famous for appearing on the Carole Burnett Show and for playing Major Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman. He is also the first stud to grace the centerfold of Playgirl, which I am guessing was a fairly controversial choice on his part. Being the funny fellow he is, he worked his stint as Playgirl model into an old stage act where he quipped, “Some people thought the picture was a little over-exposed, others thought it was a little under-developed.” That’s a funny quote because I think the whole affair turned out just right.

George Maharis: George is probably best known for playing sexy drifter Buz Murdock on Route 66 in the 60s, but I know him best for showing up in a gazillion things in the 70s. I remember him most from The Victim, even though his part isn’t that big. And not ever did I think I’d find out how big his parts actually were (ha! I got a million of ‘em), but then he posed for Playgirl for the July 1973 issue. Not to be outdone by Lyle, his layout was a little more explicit (as per his request), and as you can see it also featured horses. I’m sure there’s some kind of subliminal message in there, but I think I’ll just leave it up to your imagination.

Gary Conway: I’m ashamed to say I don’t know much about Gary Conway except that he was on Land of the Giants and, as you can see, he was hot. Rawr! He was Mr. August of 1973, and I swear the end of summer never looked so good!

Fabian Forte: Holy cow, Fabian! Turn me loose! There is no denying that Fabian is adorable. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a crush on him, and while his September 73 Playgirl spread is a little tame I'm glad he left a little something for our fantasies! Dreamy Fabian appeared on many television shows in the 70s, such as The Hardy Boys and even a couple of TV movies, including Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold, but I think it was his appearance as himself on Laverne and Shirley that taught me the charms of Fabian and his beautiful smile. Stand back, I think I might swoon!

Fred Williamson: Uber-stud Williamson started out as a professional football player (where he earned the nickname The Hammer because of how hard he was on his opponents) before he decided the silver screen was beckoning him. He’s best known for starring in several Blaxploitation movies during the 70s, such as Hell Up In Harlem and Black Caesar, but he also appeared on television as well. He won my heart on Julia but he also showed his brawny manliness off on such shows as Police Story and Supertrain. He also bared his other talents in the October 73 issue of Playgirl. I love this pic of him with that little kitten and I would love to be his feline pal any day. I met Fred several years ago at a convention and I have to say he’s even cooler in person than he is on screen. Oh, I’m swooning again!

Don Stroud: Like George Maharis Don asked for a more explicit layout and boy, is that what we got. Don is a stalwart of film and television, usually playing the heavy, and sometimes playing it too well. I was always a little intimidated by his presence onscreen and that actually made him one of the greatest things about 70s TV (I like being scared!). Plus he was in everything! I loved it. Like Fabian, he also appeared in Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold (I’m starting to think the casting agent liked in-jokes) and he was also a regular on Mrs. Columbo. Stroud was menacing and handsome and an extremely effective actor. It seems somewhat fitting that his November 73 Playgirl layout would go the extra mile because he is one of the best bad boys of Hollywood, no?

Peter Lupus: I am ashamed again. I am not all that familiar with Peter, except that he was Willy Armitage on Mission Impossible. However, I can say by 1974, they were really upping the bar with the celeb layouts, as his was the most explicit to date. I think I can safely assume Peter was not shy. He was a bodybuilder who was apparently named the oldest person to bench press 300 lbs by the Guinness Book of World Records. Yowza!

Christopher George: I’m not really sure what’s going on with Chris and the food motif in his June 1974 Playgirl layout, but it hardly matters. He is my favorite guy on this list. I love this man. Love. In fact, the word love doesn’t really describe my feelings for Chris who is such a treat to watch onscreen. I adore that leathery, square-jawed jib and I think he is also one of the most wonderful actors of all time. Forever consistent, he is just too much fun to watch. I know him mostly for the string of horror movies he made in the early 80s right before his death (many of which starred his wife Linda Day George), but he was also a mainstay on the small screen. I most recently caught him on an episode of Vega$ called Serve, Volley and Kill where he played the bad guy, as he so often did. I wrote a tribute to him awhile back, so I’ll just post the link.

Jim Brown: OK, so Jim didn’t do all that much in the way of television in the 70s, but I saw he was in a two part episode of CHiPs titled Roller Disco and, well, that was enough for me! Like Williamson, Jim, who was the centerfold model in September of 1974, was another football player who became an actor and found out he was really good at it! I mostly know him from Three the Hard Way, where Williamson was his co-star. Oh yeah, and also for I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, but I really need to see that CHiPs episode!

Steve Bond: Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, this is why I enjoy having my own blog. Steve did nothing on television in the 70s, but I get to put Mr. October 75 on this list anyway. He played Jimmy Lee Holt on General Hospital in the 80s and that’s what I remember most about him (and his role in the awesome slasher The Prey). Steve worked as a model in the 70s to make ends meet and can even be found in some old Chippendale card packs, although he never worked at any of the clubs. In 1984 he was voted the Most Exciting New Actor on a Soap by Soap Opera Digest fans. Exciting, indeed. I can’t think of a better word to describe Mr. Bond.

Honorable Mentions for non-Playgirl layouts:

Ben Murphy in Viva: Ben Murphy is seriously one of my all time great crushes. It all started in 1983 when he starred on a short-lived series called Lottery. I ended up backtracking a little when I grew up and started to watch his work from the 70s. Although he’s best known for Alias Smith and Jones, I was enchanted by Gemini Man and a weird horror movie he made in the early 80s called Time Walker. When he posed for Viva in 1973 he was poised for super stardom. It was unfortunate that he didn’t reach that pinnacle, as it was surely deserved, but he did become a wonderful character actor that I enjoyed catching on all my favorite shows. I still watch that Fantasy Island where he played a dying boxer from time to time and last night I decided a viewing of his Murder, She Wrote episode Reflections of the Mind was in order. Viva’s layout was a bit different from Playgirl as it was an erotic pictorial featuring Murphy’s finer assets and a female companion. The lady was Bess Cofield, a singer for a band called W.W. Fancy that I can’t find any info on. She was adorable, and his layout is probably my favorite of all the one’s I’ve listed, because it actually tells a little story. Even looking at the pics now makes me giggle. What can I say, he brings out the schoolgirl in me, and I love him for it!

Andrew Prine in Viva: Andrew Prine also did a layout in Viva, and it was a bit more explicit. He splits his time between a woman and horse, and well, as I’ve said before, I’ll leave it all up to your imagination (or your Google skills). Andrew is a wonderful character actor. I have had the pleasure of seeing him speak in person several times when I lived in LA. He is hilarious and charming and still terribly handsome. He was a steadfast actor of 70s television and he also appeared with Ben Murphy in the TV movie Riding with Death, which was really just two episodes of The Gemini Man mashed together to reach movie length. He was also one of Chris George’s best friends, so you see we are coming full circle.

Burt Reynolds in Cosmopolitan: Of course, this must be the most famous male centerfold of all time. Burt posed nude for Cosmopolitan in 1972 on a whim and said, “When I list the three most unimportant events in my life, this will be one of them… I thought it was good for a laugh, and it’s something unpredictable.” Although he intended it to be a spoof of the infamous Playboy centerfolds, this image would become iconic (and reproduced often, most recently with Mario Lopez who is too plastic for my tastes… Sorry Slater). Reynolds didn't do too much on television in the 70s, but he did star on Dan August which was a spin off from the excellent tele-film House on Greenapple Road (where Chris George played August).

I read a rather disparaging comment about this photo on another site that was making fun of his looks and I thought that was completely disrespectful. I know not everyone is running around looking for a way to get back to the 70s like I am, but if you really think Burt Reynolds is unattractive, then you must not like men. If you need a stache-less example then rent Deliverance. Machismo on an effen stick. And aside from his looks, he’s hilarious and a talented actor. I’m really tired of hipsterish comments that insist on making fun of things simply because times have changed (and not always for the better). I love this picture of him so much I am going to include Bullwinkle’s spoof! Now, that’s machismo!

If you are interested in more stud-age - and who isn't - please check out my article at Planet Fury on 70s Beefcake: A Look Back at Machismo

I'd also like to thank Craftypants Carol who turned me onto this whole hot actors in Playgirl thing!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cheers for My New Facebook Page

I've decided to close down my old Facebook group and start a Page instead because it has a couple of bells and whistles and looks more manageable. And I'm all about more manageable!

The above photo features the stars of Madame Sin, and I'm not sure why Robert Wagner and Bette Davis decided to become the groovy spokespeople for Jim Beam, but bless their hearts, I'm so glad they did. This photo is my mascot for the new page, for now at least, until I can get some other photos uploaded to the site. Please stop by and click like, you can keep up to date on all the retro-TV happenings here at my blog, and it's a great place for TV movie convo!

I also added some new links to the Movies about Girls Podcast section. I recently joined the crew for Blue Velvet and you can hear me do a pretty piss poor impersonation of Frank Booth! Hilarity will ensue, I promise. You can also check out their podcasts on iTunes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The A-Team Meets Boy George and it was Butch and Stuff!

If you had any questions about how fantastically freakish 80s television could get, please look no further than Boy George's guest appearance on a 1986 episode of The A-Team. To this day there has been much speculation as to why such a testosterone enhanced show would invite the stunning but extremely androgynous Boy George to share in some of the fisticuffs. Well, this was the season that The A-Team found itself bounced out of the #1 spot of the night (that glory went to Who's the Boss and Growing Pains) and others figured it might be because Culture Club was finding a harder time scoring hits in a new poppy world of Til Tuesdays and Stacy Qs (see, the 80s was friggin awesome!). Regardless, it was sort of a match made in bizarro heaven.

Face (the uber gorgeous Dirk Benedict) mistakenly books Boy George in a cowboy bar. See, they were expecting Cowboy George and Face got all mixed up. But Boy George also thought he was going to play the Arizona Forum when in fact he was signed to perform at a dive bar called Floor 'Em! I'm not kidding.

Anyway, it turns out some of the cowpokes in town want more than a good night of synthesizers and tobacco chew, and they are plotting to steal most of the town's cash. Luckily, The A-Team are there to right the oh-so-many wrongs.

Boy George is clearly uncomfortable as an actor, but is still totally fun. The best bit is when he kicks in a door and then bends over in laughter (the editor did his best but you can see he is having too much fun). And when George decides this motley band of well armed misfits are OK Joes, he gives them the thumbs up and says, "Totally awesome, Hannibal."

Totally awesome, indeed!

You can watch Cowboy George on Hulu or Netflix.

I'm not even going to ask what Murdock was doing in Face's lap

Like myself, George can't even look at Face, he's so beautiful

Hannibal might be a master of disguise, but only when he goes undercover as George Peppard

C'mon cowpokes, do you really want to hurt me? Ha! I'm here all week.

BA fights for his right to wear jewelry!


Boy George had some kind of influence on Murdock!

Boy George approves of rampant gunfire as long as no one dies

**Sigh #2: Jon Moss**

Boy George puts Cowboy George to shame!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Davy Jones (1945 - 2012)

Davy Jones posted the above photo on his blog late last year and his caption "Here I am, contemplating a dive into the deep blue sea," has taken on new, and heartbreaking meaning for me as I write this little tribute to Davy, who tragically passed away yesterday.

I find I am beyond words at this point to really say how I feel about Davy's passing (and I'm sure there are other people saying the same things I would, but better) so I'd just like to post a couple of videos as a tribute.

The first is the music video for the single Heart and Soul which The Monkees released in 1987. I have always loved this song (and the album Pool It!), but had not seen the video until today. I find the theme, which is about transitions and moving forward to be utterly poignant:

And the second video features Davy on an episode of Sledgehammer titled Sledge, Rattle and Roll, which aired on January 15th, 1988 (and was directed by Bill Bixby!). I thought it would be fun to include this because the sense of humor which prevailed on The Monkees makes it a wonderful precursor to Sledgehammer's quirky sensibilities. This is the whole episode:

And if I can go ahead and quote Heart and Soul I'd like to say that Davy put his heart and soul where I can see them shine.

Thank you Davy for a lifetime of laughter, music and memories.