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June 18, 2008:

THE CRYSTAL BALL

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am gazing into my crystal ball and I see notes. This crystal ball is an amazing thing, isn’t it? I gaze into it and I see notes and also dead people. Since I have gazed into my crystal ball and seen notes, why do I have to write them? Can’t we just somehow morph the notes that I see when I gaze into the crystal ball into these here notes? How many of you have crystal balls? Do you gaze into them? Do you see notes? Do you see dead people? Do you see what the HELL I’m going on about? Speaking of crystal balls, yesterday was a day that sort of went along, not going left, not going right, but just sort of happening, like the film of M. Night Shamaylekeyane. I got up rather early and did early things. I then had to do some errands, then I proofed more lead sheets, then I had to do some more errands, then I traded some more books I don’t need that are sitting in the garage like so much fish, then I did more errands, then I ate some luncheon, and then, somehow, the day was at an end, at which point I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched several more episodes of Mannix – nothing earth shattering, although one episode featured one of the ten worst scores for a TV episode that I’ve ever heard. Imagine my surprise to find it was written by one Jack Urbont, the nice gentleman who wrote the musical All In Love. Obviously, scoring dramatic TV episodes was not his forte. Every time someone got hit it would be accompanied by a loud blam from the orchestra, rather like a Warner Bros. cartoon. Some more fun guest stars, including an actor I like very much called Joe Maross – when I first became an actor, after my first few jobs I was told I could get money when I wasn’t working by filing for unemployment, which I immediately filed for. I used to go to the unemployment office on Sherman Way, I think, and the first time I was there, so was Mr. Maross. Funny what you remember. I then watched a motion picture I’d TIVOd entitled The Oscar, starring Mr. Stephen Boyd, Miss Elke Sommer, Mr. Milton Berle, and, in the role of Hymie, Mr. Tony Bennett. First, my history with The Oscar. Back in 1966 I was a more than avid moviegoer. I was also in my first and second semester in the theater arts department at Los Angeles City College. Movie premieres were not something I’d ever been able to attend since I was not really in that business at that time – I just aspired to it. So, imagine my surprise when I noticed in the ad for The Oscar, that they were selling tickets to the world premiere to civilians, something I had never ever seen done before. I immediately bought one and therefore I got to attend the premiere of The Oscar at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California, USA. Lots of celebrities were in attendance, although more B-list than A-list, if I recall. I’m sure that some of the film’s stars, like Miss Jill St. John, were there. The regular ticket holders were put in the back of the theater (no balcony at the Egyptian), but I was quite excited to be there. Then the film began. Within ten minutes it was garnering the kinds of laughs that Mel Brooks or Woody Allen would have killed for. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t a comedy, but with each preposterous overwrought moment, the audience just dissolved into laughter. By the film’s mid-point, half the audience, including many celebrities, had bailed. I stuck it out to the bitter end, and therefore I saw the absolutely rollicking finish. I hadn’t seen the film since that night. It is still a very amusing film, for all the wrong reasons. The fact that Mr. Harlan Ellison, an esteemed writer, worked on this large piece of rancid cheese, is astonishing. Mr. Boyd, playing the heel, actor Frankie Fane, gives a performance that is astounding in its awfulness – he reaches bad acting heights that few can hope to reach. Of course, I don’t know who could have done better, given the dialogue he had to spout and the horribly disgusting character he had to play. Miss St. John was amusing in her own way, as she always was. Mr. Milton Berle played it straight as Mr. Boyd’s agent. Miss Eleanor Parker tried her best, and looked like she wished she was still filming The Sound Of Music. I did enjoy the fleeting glances of Miss Edith Head, Miss Hedda Hopper, Mr. Army Archerd, and Mr. Johnny Grant. Ernest Borgnine and Edie Adams had a scene in Tijuana that was actually amusing and meant to be so. Jack Soo wandered in and out as if here were still playing Sammy Fong in Flower Drum Song. And then there was Mr. Tony Bennett in his debut acting role which was also his final acting role. Mr. Bennett is a wonderful singer. Unfortunately, no song came out of his mouth, only painful dialogue spoken by someone with absolutely no aptitude for acting. The wonderful thing about these filmmakers was that despite the fact that they must have known they’d made one of the worst films of all time, that didn’t stop them from letting it run 135 minutes. Now, I don’t know about you, dear readers, but if you were making a film about Hollywood wouldn’t you think it would be nice to have ONE establishing shot of some location that read “Hollywood?” Aside from the opening stock footage from a real Oscarcast held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, we are treated to exactly 0 establishing shots and virtually no location shots at all. We do get Bob Hope and Miss Merle Oberon at the faux Oscar ceremonies, and we’re treated to the names of the other Oscar nominees for Best Actor – Richard Burton for The Grapes of Winter, Burt Lancaster for The Spanish Armada – well, you get the idea. I will call out a major spoiler here so skip the next sentence if you want to be surprised:
Mr. Boyd loses Best Actor to – wait for it – Frank Sinatra, who is at the ceremony with daughter Nancy. The film is based on a book by film writer/director Richard Sale. I can’t imagine the book is any better than the film, but I must say that my interest is piqued and I’ve located an inexpensive copy and may just give it a thumb-through. Mr. Sale directed several Hollywood motion pictures, none of which were very good, but he did write one notable film which, coincidentally, starred Mr. Sinatra – Suddenly. The print used for TCM’s airing was open matte, which resulted in head room that you could have driven a large truck through.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because as I gaze into my crystal ball I see the next section.

You see how accurate crystal balls are? I saw the next section and here is the next section. Today, I shall be doing more proofing, then I have a lunch meeting at two, then some errands, and then, I think, the rest of the day will be mine all mine.

Tomorrow, more of the same and then I’m seeing the reading of the “new” old Brad Ross/Joe Keenan musical, The Times, over at Theater West.

And I have to cast this reading, which I’ll be doing over the next few days, now that the dates are locked in. I know a few of the people we’re asking, but I have to find some other actors, and a few ensemble folks.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, proof, have a lunch meeting, do errands and whatnot, and then sit on my couch like so much fish. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we? As I gaze into my crystal ball I see loads of lovely postings, so I guess we shall.

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