Tag Archives: television

Tonight on TCM! Rediscovered Silent Film with Score by Quasar Wut-Wut

Trailer: The First Degree, 1923 (score by Quasar Wut-Wut)

Via Chicago Film Archives.

How cool is this? A couple years ago Chicago Film Archives discovered a 35mm print of a lost silent film in their collections, buried under agricultural and sponsored films from Peoria. Turns out, it was The First Degree, directed by Edward Sedgwick and starring Frank Mayo, originally released in 1923 and probably not seen since then.

Chicago Film Archives hired our pals Quasar Wut-Wut to compose and record an original score. As you may recall, several years ago the Quasars had been commissioned by Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art to write and perform an original score for Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent masterpiece The General.

The first screening took place at the Gene Siskel Film Center last year with live accompaniment by the band. The Chicago Tribune described the score as “an intriguing spell of contrasts, eerie electronic loops interwoven with more traditional melodic waltz-time themes played on piano.”

The band has played a few more screenings since then (in Madison, Cleveland, and Ann Arbor), but if you couldn’t make any of those appearances you will get your chance tonight on Turner Classic Movies.

The First Degree will air at 10pm Eastern/9pm Central as part of TCM’s 24 hours of programming for National Silent Movie Day, Wednesday, September 28.

So set your DVRs, your VCRs, or your alarm clocks, because you’re not going to want to miss this!

Quasar Wut-Wut: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading Tonight on TCM! Rediscovered Silent Film with Score by Quasar Wut-Wut

TV, Movies & Concerts

With the exception of both (one always; one frequently) being staged in theaters, the movies and concerts have only slight crossover. Of course, one thing to be kept in mind that both are keenly entrenched in economics, as in “the film industry” and “the music business.” Pull at our emotions though the good ones do, it is still about making a return.

And there is undoubtedly going to be a return to something akin to what had been the case, though in the case of the film industry things may be somewhat different than will be the case vis-à-vis concerts.

After World War II, when life underwent a profound change, with people moving to new places that are now the familiar suburbs, a device that had been around since the late 30s but expensive and not particularly useful came onto its own: the television set. By 1948 there were multiple network broadcasts. Because the movie theaters tended to be in city downtowns and not in the suburbs, there was a decrease in the number of people who went to the movies. They could simply stay home and watch TV.

While television didn’t kill the film industry, as some had feared, there was at least a change in the nature of the execution of movies. There were new approaches to how movies were filmed and shown—as in things like Cinerama—and there were early “blockbusters,” like the Cecil B. DeMille movies that were “epic” in scope.

As time went on there was something of an entente between the two mediums.

In terms of technology, there were repeated efforts to make the movie “experience” more worth going to a building with screens, such as 3D and IMAX. But at the same time there was a huge growth in the number of consumers who were buying increasingly large and capable screens and sound systems that allow them to have something of a wide-screen filmic experience without having to pay $10 for popcorn. Channels like HBO and Showtime brought nearly new releases into homes.

Hollywood struck back with things like the Marvel-based films that are like those of DeMille: Seeing them on something that is measured in feet rather than inches is an experience onto itself.

But then there was COVID and suddenly Hollywood discovered that their outlets were shut down. People were sheltering at home with their massive TV screens. What could they do with their “product”? Disney+ had Hamilton in the can, so it came up with a plan to offer it exclusively on its channel, which led to a huge boost in subscriptions to the service. Then with Mulan it tried to do one better by adding an additional fee to watch it, a Disney+ subscription acting only as a means to get to the ticket window. Somehow they had to get as much ROI as the new prevailing conditions allowed.

Continue reading TV, Movies & Concerts

Future Islands and the Cult of Samuel T. Herring

Let me start by saying that I am not even sure I like this band. That’s not to say that I am trying to get a pass on them. I might like them, I might not. Whether I do is not the point. It’s that I can’t figure it out yet I will excitedly watch any late night TV performance of Future Islands—a statement I cannot make about bands I love.

Obviously, the focus of my semi-obsession is on the singer, Samuel T. Herring. I haven’t read anything about him or the history of the band so let’s run with some of my assumptions:

  • He’s clearly the guy pushing the band forward. He’s the guy who has been pestering people about his band to the point where they are now regularly on national TV. The rest of the band seems to be barely paying attention. The bassist thought the band broke up 15 years ago, but here they are.
  • His awkward, intense dancing is unnerving and fascinating.  He OWNs this dance. Nobody else can match him. Nobody. Mick Jagger and Bruno Mars are weak fakers just walking through some moves. Samuel T. Herring is the real deal.
  • Kinda memorable melodies and disco beats aren’t really enough these days so Samuel T. Herring goes full Cookie Monster to cut through the clutter. That takes some real balls.
  • Samuel T. Herring can and will do Monty Python impressions for hours on end as long as someone—anyone—is still paying attention.

Continue reading Future Islands and the Cult of Samuel T. Herring

My Ears Glaze Over. . .

I rarely watch live TV. Yes, I’ll turn on the news in the morning while I’m getting ready for work. But for the most part, it is watching via DVR. Which means that I can view what I want when it is convenient (generally in the evening, when, I suppose, most people watch TV) and get through it a bit more expeditiously than might otherwise be the case (yes, as in fast-forwarding through the. . . ).

It has recently occurred to me that when I’m done watching the DVR and select the “View television” option on the screen, almost invariably there is some sort of live entertainment contest on. “The Voice.” “The X Factor.” “American Idol.”

A seemingly endless number of people singing covers who wouldn’t cut it in a dive bar. Cee Lo with some sort of bird. Britney Spears earning some sort of living. A few people who have better pipes than the people judging them. And on it goes.

Apparently, America’s Got a Huge Appetite for This Stuff.

But what has become of the performance, in prime time, of musicians who aren’t in a talent contest? Where are the prime-time shows that bring out bands?

You can catch musicians performing earlier in the day, be it on the “Today Show” or “Ellen.” You can catch musicians on both of the Jimmys at night, as well as with Jay, Dave and Conan.

But from 8 pm to 11 pm?

While one might argue that “variety” shows no longer cut it, how to explain “Dancing with the Stars,” which is less about the dancing per se than it is the performers who are associated with doing things that aren’t dancing (to say nothing of the professional dancers—female and male alike—who are more provocative than you are likely to find cutting the rug at any dress ball)?

Prime time music is background music only, unless it is “Glee,” which is, again, about covers. Get your song on “New Girl,” “Gossip Girl,” or some other girl, and you’re going to get some traction.

Otherwise, what can a singer or a band do in order to gain some visibility on television? It seems that the only possible route is to become a vocal/musical imitator extraordinaire, because when it comes to TV, familiarity breeds comfort, and there’s nothing better than an audience that’s comfortably numb.

Mad Men – Out Of Town

Most of us were drawn to Mad Men by the amazing set design and the stunning wardrobes. It is a show that simply looks fantastic. It’s a show packed with beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes speaking beautiful dialog. The bitter irony is that this dream assignment for advertising and marketing professionals—a product that looks so good you can’t help but crank out beautiful, portfolio-worthy creative—is not a smash hit. Not even close. It’s with more than a little self satisfaction that us true believers joyfully scoff at you poorly dressed masses who answer with bewilderment at the question, “What Would Draper Do?”

And so it was with great hype (among a small crowd) that we welcome the season three debut of the best show on TV. You’d think from the cross-promotional and advertising efforts exerted this year that Mad Men is the most watched TV show in America. But like so much in this show, things are not how they appear.

Continue reading Mad Men – Out Of Town

Ringo Tells Regis to Cram It

I love Ringo. I mean, he’s the most underrated member of the most revered band in rock and roll history and he’s not taking any shit from nobody. According to the AP, the 67 year old (!!!) Ringo walked off the Regis and Kelly show this morning instead of cutting short his performance. Both sides dispute the details but it looks like the show producers told Ringo he had about three minutes of air time for a five minute song. He apparently cut the song down to 3:30 and just couldn’t drop those last 30 seconds. When the producers wouldn’t budge on his time slot, Ringo gave them the finger (or more likely, his famous two-finger salute) and walked off.

Sock it to ’em, Ringo!

Yo Gabba Gabba: We Accept You, One Of Us

Gabba Gabba Hey!In the world of surreal children’s programming, the most curious development may be how the line between the viewer’s ages is becoming increasingly transparent. Many of you, particularly those of you who are childless, probably missed the premier of Nick Jr.’s newest show Yo Gabba Gabba!, a hip, live-action program for children under the age of five.

At the same time, there’s enough club-society chic and pop culture nods throughout Yo Gabba Gabba‘s thirty minutes that may find adults drawn to the chroma-key green backdrops as their offspring.

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“Gossip Girl” is the Pop “O.C.”

According to Billboard, CW’s ‘Gossip Girl’ Brings More Hits To TV. It’s the next big thing from “The OC” creators, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

And once again, Alexandra Patsavas will be the musical supervisor. But don’t expect Dan Deacon or Deerhunter to be playing showcases at the Peach Pit or the Bait Shop, or whatever they’re going to call it in the new show:

“What ‘The OC’ did for indie rock, we’d like ‘Gossip Girl’ to do for pop,” she says. The pilot episode of “Gossip Girl” spotlights music by Rihanna, the Mooney Suzuki, Hanson, Amy Winehouse, Angels & Airwaves and others.

I’m sure Rihanna could use a little more exposure.

Previously: Greek: The New OC? and the GLONO OC Archive.

Greek: The New OC?

greek-cappie.jpgNew guilty pleasure alert!

Okay, so I’ll admit that I miss The OC more than I thought I would. It’s not that I even really enjoyed it that much during the final couple of seasons, but it was nice to be able to peep in on post-teen culture (in a well-written, sarcastic, self-deprecating format).

So when I saw the preview for “GrΣΣk” (a new ABC Family original series), I wasn’t very hopeful even though the teaser seemed promising. We’ve got the nerdy smart freshman Seth Cohen figure and his cute older sister who’s the “it girl” in her sorority. Her James Spaderesque boyfriend and her slacker ex, presidents of rival fraternities of course.

So much potential, yet so much potential for disaster. It’s on ABC Family, for Christ’s sake.

Continue reading Greek: The New OC?

American Idol Season 6 Finale

Idol FeverThank goodness for Tivo. I don’t understand how anyone watches Idol without it. Tonight’s finale lasted over two hours, but it took me less than 45 minutes to watch it. Usually with the results shows I only watch the last five minutes, but tonight was the big old season finale so I felt obligated to at least attempt to watch the whole thing. I didn’t make it very far.

I got about three seconds into the first chorus of Gwen Stefani’s live via satellite guest spot before the first bloop. For those unfamiliar with Tivo, there’s a secret hack that you can program into your remote to allow you to instantly advance thirty seconds forward. I abuse this feature. Especially when watching Idol.

Continue reading American Idol Season 6 Finale