Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I'm a guilty pleasure

Everybody is a critic goes hand in hand these days with Everybody has a podcast (or a blog). You can find critical analysis on just about everything, including, I’ve discovered, my own work.

There’s a website called THE NEXT REEL where two guys Siskel&Ebert their way through popular cinema. They are Pete Wright and Andy Nelson.

They’re currently doing a series called “Guilty Pleasures” where they select films not categorized as classics but they still really enjoy. Andy is up this week and selected VOLUNTEERS. Thanks, Andy… I think.

Because after he talks about how funny and enjoyable it was, he and his partner systematically tear the film apart. Makes me wonder what they do to movies they DIDN’T like.
My first reaction in listening was of course, “Who the fuck are these guys and what have they ever done?” But then I looked at the big picture. How very cool that something I co-wrote thirty years ago is still being discussed! There are plenty of movies from earlier this year that are forgotten and will never be heard from again. Thirty years is a long time. It’s half the shelf life of a Twinkie.

At that point I found the analysis entertaining. Some things I agree with and others I don’t. Being on the inside I had the advantage of knowing why certain creative decisions were made. I also have pet peeves with the film they didn’t seem bothered by. (Come on, guys. If you’re going to rip me, rip me for the right things.)

But overall, the discussion just made me more proud of the film, warts and all. Like I said, the fact that they even remembered it was a plus. And if comic material can still stand up and be funny after thirty years, that’s pretty satisfying. How many people are still laughing at FRATERNITY VACATION or REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS?

And our aim was more ambitious than most current studio raunch-fests. We had an actual story, social commentary, political overtones, and character development. We may not have succeeded in bringing it all together but I give us points for trying.
The hosts point to a Rotten Tomatoes survey to suggest that audiences didn’t care for the film. But in truth, VOLUNTEERS kicks ass whenever it’s shown on TV, and always has. You’ll generally find local stations airing it during sweeps because it consistently garners high ratings. HBO ran it again just recently. How many movies from 1985 does HBO show? So with all its faults, I’m happy to be associated with VOLUNTEERS. Oh, and I still get residuals.

I’m really looking forward to another podcast. TALK SALAD AND SCRAMBLED EGGS. Kevin Smith and his partner, Matt Mira, plan to discuss every FRASIER episode, two a week. Pretty soon they’ll get to our first Lilith episode.  And surprise surprise in this week's episode they talk about me and this blog.   They mispronounce my name but who gives a shit?  I made the Kevin Smith podcast. It starts 8 minutes in.  They don't mention VOLUNTEERS.  Too bad.  It would have been fun to compare critiques. 

43 comments:

Bill Avena said...

"There's a million podcasts around and they're all amazing!"-Tom Haverford (I hope it was said satirically).

Rock Golf said...

Cool to be referenced in a podcast. You wanna go where everybody knows your name.

Peter said...

I listened to the Kevin Smith podcast. He and Matt actually said they'd like to have you on their show! It was pretty cool they referred to Dancin Homer as a classic.

It must have felt strange listening to them go through your entire list of credits on IMDb!

Graham Powell said...

Next up: their review of JEWEL OF THE NILE.

Rashad Khan said...

It might have been cool to have Kevin Smith on "Frasier" in a recurring role. Just sayin'.

Terminally Confused said...

REMO WILLIAMS was a comedy?

Peter said...

"REMO WILLIAMS was a comedy?"

Whoever thought it was a good idea to have Joel Grey play a Chinese man certainly had a sense of humour.

Igor said...

Ken, any chance you could tell us what days/time-of-day the Sitcom Room notices will _not_ go out, so those of us w/o e-mail on our phones can step away from our desks?

David P said...

Ken,

A Friday Question. Have you ever considered posting pictures of Bebe Neuwirth on occasion instead of (or in addition to) pictures of Natalie Wood?

powers said...

A Friday Question,Ken.

I enjoy watching Jack Webb's 60s Dragnet TV series.
Having read a book about Jack & all of his productions I see that he insisted that a teleprompter be used on his Dragnet show.

Did you ever resort to utilizing a teleprompter on any show you worked on?
Do shows today utilize teleprompters at all?
What are your thoughts on using them?

Ken Levine said...

Igor,

Those on the Alert List will learn the day and time to register before anyone else. And it's coming soon. Thanks.

Paul Gottlieb said...

Of course they mispronounce your name! Who wouldn't. In my life experience, whenever I meet one of you Levines, and there are a lot of you, it's a 50/50 guess whether you're a laVEEN or a laVINE. How are we to know? Maybe all you Levines should hold a national conference and vote to adopt a single pronunciation. ANd you could invite the Levys too

James Van Hise said...

Back in my film journalism days, I was part of a junket to the set of Remo Williams when it was being filmed. This movie was at the tail end of the days when you could have a white actor play an Asian character and the producers did all sorts of contortions about why Joel Grey was the perfect choice to play a Chinese man even though it required lots of makeup to pull it off. Basically their astonishing reason is that they couldn't find the right Asian actor for the part, even though there were even more high profile Asian actors working in Hollywood in 1985 than there are today (witness the 1986 movie Big Trouble In Little China which is filled with Asian/American actors). So, yes, Joel Grey as a Chinese man isn't just an odd choice looking back, it was an odd choice then, too.

Igor said...

Ken, so when the e-mail arrives, it won't say, "Registration starts NOW!" (That's been my concern.) Rather, it'll tell us when registration will start. Thanks.

Worst would be if you were doing "the 10th caller."

Carol said...

I want Volunteers to get on Netflix streaming, mostly because I'm never get around to actually renting/buying DVDs anymore.

Would you get some kind of residual if it got on Netflix, or does that sort of thing go straight to the studio?

I honestly can't remember if I saw Volunteers in the theatre or if I rented it, but I remember enjoying it. At its heart it's a redemption film, and those are my favorite kind of stories. And it was funny.

Ken Levine said...

Yes, Igor. You will have a heads-up. But blog readers won't. Get on the Alert List, gang. It's free and no salesman will call.

benson said...

@Paul Gottlieb, here's a curveball. Invite Pittsburgh Pirates 3b coach Nick Leyva. That could really make things interesting. :)

Igor said...

Done. Ken, thanks again.

Bill Avena said...

James Van H: Shame on me, I always thought Mickey Rooney's part in Breakfast At Tiffany's was pretty funny. I'd guess the angry bald Chinese take-out guy that blacklists Elaine was kind of a parody of Rooney.

Mike said...

Since the Cheers bar has closed, Norm & Cliff spend their evenings recording a podcast entitled "A Little Known Fact"...

Igor said...

@Mike, I can envision that.

Show starts with a raucous, "Norm!" He replies, "Hey, everybody."

Then Cliff goes into one of his drawn out "Little known fact" stories. He ends, we hear Norm put a bullet in his head, fall over. Cliff says, "And now, I guess, huh - let's take some calls."

In each ensuing week, just as with Kenny on South Park, Norm is alive and there - and the show starts same as it did the week before.

Mike said...

The upcoming Fantastic Four film is being described as mumblecore with a budget.

Mike said...

@powers: You probably already know this, but it seems Webb's use of teleprompters was to create a very specific style:
From Mark Evanier: "Dialogue scenes were done with heavy reliance on TelePrompters. Mr. Webb had a certain way he wanted the show to "sound" and the way he got his desired delivery out of most actors was to not let them see scripts in advance or memorize lines. They'd show up on the set, find out what they were playing and then they'd read their parts right off the prompter. After each good take, Webb (who directed most of 'em) would tell the TelePrompter operator to speed up the crawl a bit. The actors would read their parts over and over, a bit faster each time…and when they got to the point where they sounded like Alvin, Simon or Theodore, Webb would designate that the next-to-last "take" be the one used. It sounded odd at times but it sure got a lot of story into some of those half-hours."
Actors do sometimes need their lines placed strategically around the stage (maybe to avoid stage fright).

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken, Paul Gottlieb: a number of us would argue that it's Ken who mispronounces his name. :)

wg

VP81955 said...

Ken has participated in Top 40 radio reunions over the years (and occasionally blogged about them). So I thought he should know about one this weekend in my hometown of Syracuse (where Ken broadcast Chiefs games many years after the Salt City's Top 40 heyday), and it's possible he knows (or knew) a few of the folks who worked for WOLF or WNDR -- a rivalry as fierce as anything waged among KFWB, KRLA and KHJ.

http://www.syracusenewtimes.com/rock-around-the-jocks/

MikeK.Pa. said...

"My first reaction in listening was of course, “Who the fuck are these guys and what have they ever done?” "
That's the first reaction of every actor/director/writer about a critic. Roger Ebert's one screenwriting credit was the forgettable "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," yet wound up as one of most esteemed film critics of his era.
Listening to the podcast (I love Kevin Smith) and talk of Bob Daily's $$$$, I'm guessing he got most of that in role of producer and not writer.
Also, sounds like you have an open invitation to sit in on the show. Put that on your list of things to do - right after your lunch with Bill Persky.
Looking forward to you blogging about both.

myrna said...

You say Sha PEE Row and I say Sha Pie Row....
Let's call the whole thing off.

Tammy said...

Wendy Grossman - as a Hebrew speaker, I'm with you on that one ;). Though maybe the LeVINE version is actually a surname of a different origin? Ken, could you possibly clear up this mystery? :)

Bill Avena said...

What do you mean Ebert's screen credit was forgettable?
"In a Bentley! IN A BENTLEY!!"

Matt said...

There are a couple of strange stories about name pronunciations in sports. Joe Theisman was originally pronounced theesman, but Notre Dame changed it in his senior year to make in rhyme with Heisman. He didn't win the award.

Maria Sharapova's name has been habitually mispronounced by the American media (the stress should be on the second syllable). However, she never corrected anybody. Eventually she just decided to go with the mispronunciation and it is now how she says her name.

Igor said...

What's always cracked me up: The guy who invented those earth berms that are designed to keep flood waters out... He pronounced his name LEE-vee.

Brian said...

Thanks for the reminder Ken, I'll have to watch Volunteers again soon. Its a quirky and clever movie. Too bad its not on Netflix streaming. The fact that its not on streaming must mean it has some mojo left in it. I'm guessing you get more royalty if I have to order the DVD and sit and wait for it. As I recall, one of your beefs with it was breaking of the fourth wall. Is that correct?

Cap'n Bob said...

The Tom Haverford quote in the first post is incorrect. It should be "there're," not "there's." I see this mistake a lot from people that ought to know better.

RCP said...

Easy way to remember the pronunciation of Ken's surname: Just think Hollywood and Vine and add the Le - yes, too much caffeine today.

Mark Fearing said...

I saw the film in the theatre many years ago when it was released and really enjoyed it. John Candy, it seems to me, was still pretty new on screen and I had been a fan while he was on SCTV, so that was a draw too.

Pa Raper said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

Since Ken is a child of the sixties, his name is pronounced luh-vin.

CRL said...

The new GM of the Detroit Tigers is a guy named Al Avila.

The catcher for the Detroit Tigers is his son, Alex Avila.

They actually pronounce their last names differently.

Father: AH-vee-la.

Son: Ah-VEE-la.

Angel J said...

Matt Mira is one of the co-hosts of the Nerdist podcast (with Chris Hardwick) and his obsession with Frasier is a well-known fact. That and Dave Matthews.

CamrioKid said...

Ken, I tried listening to the Revisiting Frazier podcast. I am no prude, and certainly have been known to sling the F word around from time-to-time, but sheesh! They use f*ck every other word, and punctuate almost every sentence with "man" - I can't listen to anymore. SO annoying. To each his own, I suppose.

Jason said...

Cap'n Bob, are you correcting the person quoting Tom, or the line Tom spoke? Because I'm betting the quote is correct.

Katie said...

I'm a big podcast fan lately and I loved listening to Matt and Kevin talk about you, Ken. Bc, obviously, since I read your blog I think we are real life friends. If you are mentioned on there again, guest on their podcast, or do any other podcasts, I hope you'll tell us!

Anonymous said...

Cap'n said: "I see this mistake a lot from people from people that ought to know better." Shouldn't it be "from people 'who' ought to know better."