Twenty-One Days of Covid. Happy to report that I took my first post-Covid bike ride this morning (selfie of me on the bike trail along the beautiful LA River). Didn’t do my usual eight miles, but did six. Sure glad my iPod still had a charge – I couldn’t have done it without music. Went on antibiotics a week ago when it didn’t feel like I could shake the damned virus. Today, I’m finally feeling almost normal though my legs and lungs have to do some rebuild. Gotta give credit to Dr. Fauci and the other Dr. Mengeles with their “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. They really cooked up a doozy with this one. 07.21.22
Seven Days of Covid. My wife, Beverly, got it last week and it seemed to follow the usual trajectory of a bad cold. On Monday, I noticed a sore throat and achy body. On Tuesday I was tested positive for Covid, went on prescription Paxlovid. But it wasn’t really that much of a cold so I did my usual day’s work. On Wednesday, I was feeling fairly normal and thought “What’s the big deal?” I even taught my online screenwriting class on Wednesday night. Lost my voice near the end, but made it through. Thursday I was much worse – bad body aches and constant cough. On Friday I hit the wall. Friday night I hit bottom. My lungs were wheezing, and I couldn’t lay down without the wheezing getting worse. Constant junk (without getting too specific) coughing up. The only way I could breathe at all normally was to sit up and lean forward. That’s how I spent all Friday night. Saturday, I spent the day in bed, recovering from Friday night. Sunday, the sun seems to be shining. I feel like myself again. Still weak, still achy, still coughing but I think the worst is over. I think Covid affects different people differently. If you get it, take it seriously. 07.10.22
Originality has always had a tough time in Hollywood. The safe course has never been about trying something new and exciting, but rather remaking something that has been successful in some other form. Copying success, any degree of success, has always been a more bankable proposition for Hollywood executives when choosing properties to develop. In doing my research for the Dreamland project, I’ve been reading a lot of Tradeviews, the column written in nearly every issue of The Hollywood Reporter by publisher Billy Wilkerson (a distant relation). Here’s some wisdom from his column on July 15, 1931. Billy writes…
“The trouble with the whole system of selecting and buying story material in the picture business is just this – stories are not bought because they are GOOD. They’re bought for every other reason but that. They’re bought because they were produced as plays on Broadway. They’re bought for the Broadway stamp, however meaningless it may be. Stories are bought because some magazine published them, or because some book publisher put them out as novels. It doesn’t matter whether the sale of the novel went to five thousand copies, or five hundred thousand. They received the magic baptism of printer’s ink. Therefore they MUST be good. They MUST be great.”
It’s not much different now, is it? Studios put out pictures to make money, sure, but is that the only reason people are in the entertainment business? I recently watched The Batman on HBOmax. There is nothing new here, other than a different guy in the bat suit. Everything else has been done many times before (and mostly done better). Yes, it made money, but is that the only reason we're creating film and TV? Haven't we learned anything about originality in ninety years of film production? Apparently not. 06.22.22
Really sorry to read about the death of comic book artist Neal Adams. When I was a kid, I was far more drawn to DC Comics than to Marvel, and Neal Adams was the reason. His drawings were not only more detailed than any other comic art, but they were filled with incredible movement, mood and action. Neal Adams was the DC artist who rediscovered the strength of Batman and remade him into the powerful image we have of him today. So, back in the 1980s, when I was running my advertising agency, Wilkerson Advertising, it was a real thrill for me to be able to hire Neal Adams for a series of ads we were doing for our client, Roland Corporation and their division, BOSS Products. We somehow came up with the idea of using comic book art in our ads, probably to deal with a good product with a goofy name – the Dr. Rhythm. It was the kind of name that the Japanese market (where it was made) really liked, but didn’t exactly “play” in the USA. We knew we had to come up with a way of making Dr. Rhythm somehow cool, otherwise we were sunk. The answer was to hire Neal Adams to do the artwork which was simultaneously outrageous fun and imparted a kind of “cool factor” to the product. The four ads that Neal Adams drew for us were really well received, and, most importantly delivered sales for our client. I know we are merely a footnote to the work of a great comic artist, but I’m glad to be part of that footnote. 04.30.22.
I’d like to thank the City of Los Angeles. Really? The city that, in the time I’ve lived here, has ignored traffic gridlock, rising crime and out of control homelessness? Well, occasionally they do something right. In this case, it’s the new expansion of the bike path on the South side of the “beautiful” Los Angeles River (aka drainage ditch). Because of this I can now ride my bike all the way from Owensmouth Avenue to Tampa Avenue three miles, uninterrupted by traffic, stoplights or, for the moment, homeless encampments. The cost? Only $6 million, and since I was the only rider on the path this morning I’ll gladly accept the city’s generous donation to my health and happiness. 04.29.22.
What to put in News vs. what to put in Blogs? I started the Blog section of this site after my Facebook account was hacked by some lowlifes and I lost contact with my Writers' Group. This group was made up of many writers from the classes I've taught at UCLA and I'd like to keep in touch with them, but, after the hack, I'm done with using Facebook.
Since this site allows my Blog posts to be sent by email it seems like the best way to post the things I used to do on the Facebook Writers' Group. The only downside is that (at the moment) it's just a one-way conversation. If you have thoughts on my Blogs, feel free to email.
So, what I'll put in the Blog section are my thoughts on Film, TV and Music -- things I've seen or heard that I think are worth talking about. What will go here in the News section are posts on the big issues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Let's see how it goes. 04.06.22.
In doing my research for my project Dreamland I’ve spent a lot of time investigating the era of the so-called Red Scare, the era (1930s – 1940s) in which the principles of Communism were being spread by the propaganda arm of Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union known as the Communist International (the Comintern). One of the sentiments you often hear about this era is that “no Communist propaganda ever really entered American films.” Well… not exactly. There were quite a few films that were blatantly pro-Soviet, one of which I had the experience of viewing recently on TCM.
The North Star tells the story of the Nazi invasion of Ukraine in 1941 and is particularly interesting in the light of the current Russian invasion. Imagine a film set in Ukraine seven years from now in which people live happily (post invasion) as Putin’s Soviet citizens working on their bountiful collective farm. Everyone is prosperous, smiling and happily call each other “comrade” as they dance and sing at their village gathering.
That’s even harder to imagine when you consider that the treatment of Ukraine by Stalin in the 1930s was considerably worse than what Putin is doing to the country now -- believe it or not. In 1934 Stalin took away (aka “collectivized”) all the food produced by the Ukrainian people, redistributing it in Russia, resulting in the death by starvation of 3 - 6 million Ukrainians in what’s known as the Holodomor. Yeah, I didn't learn about that in school either.
And yet, here in The North Star village of Ukraine are Anne Baxter and Farley Granger, (among other joyous young comrades) well fed and in love just seven years after the mass starvation of their people. This slice of CommieProp was written by Lillian Hellman, a writer who called Stalin’s purges (in which he executed former friends like Zinoviev, Bukharin, Radek and many others) “anti-Soviet propaganda.” British historian Paul Johnson said of her, “there are lies, damned lies, and Lillian Hellman.” There are a lot of lies in this film as well as other Comintern products from Hollywood like Mission to Moscow, Song of Russia, and Action in the North Atlantic.
The Red Scare was not a fantasy. Just ask Ukrainians.
For the true story of Stalin's invasion of Ukraine see my recent Blog post on the film, Mr. Jones.
Rock music lost another one of its greats yesterday with the passing of Gary Brooker, singer, pianist, composer and leader of Procol Harum. This is one of my all time favorite bands, and one that, in my opinion has never received it's due praise --- evidenced by the fact that most of the obituaries mentioned only "A Whiter Shade of Pale" omitting the massive amount of amazing music he created after that. Read my tribute HERE. I will be adding more as time allows. R.I.P. Gary. I will miss you. 02.24.22
Since my Facebook account was hacked and I lost access to my Writers’ Group, I’ve decided not to go back. For the record, Facebook was absolutely no help whatsoever in restoring my account. If you ever want to feel like a non-entity, write to Facebook support. They won’t write back. They have millions of dollars to give to political campaigns, but apparently not enough money to hire people to service their subscribers.
So I've decided to do the Writers' Group here as a BLOG. I’ll pretty much write about the same things that I did on the Facebook Writers’ Group, but since it’s public, I may not be quite as vocal about lousy films and TV shows I’ve seen. We’ll see what happens.
If you want to receive emails, just subscribe on the BLOG page.
Click HERE to go there, or use the navigation link at the top. 03.19.22
I've always loved this piece of music written by George Frederic Handel and thought it would be fun to do an EDM version.
Written by Ron Wilkerson, Recorded in 1989.
I wanted to do a video for this song but didn't have a lot of pictures of the band. In searching the web for pictures of Rudy Love I found out, sadly, that he had passed away last October. So now, this video is dedicated to his memory and his fabulous voice. 02.26.22