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Ask 411 Movies for 12.17.12: Christmas at Ground Zero!

December 17, 2012 | Posted by Leonard Hayhurst

I had fun at the Steel City Toy Con the weekend before in Monroeville. Coolest thing I got was original artwork by a vendor of Sgt. Slaughter with Cobra Commander and Hulk Hogan in a headlock. Slaughter was there and signed it for me. I wanted to post a photo of it, but I’m not smart enough to figure out how to size it right. Trust me though, it’s cool.

Obscure Television Series of the Week
Title: Fortune Dane
Air Dates: Feb. 15, 1986, to March 27, 1986
Network: ABC
Cast: Carl Weathers as Fortune Dane, Penny Fuller as Mayor Amanda Harding, Daphne Ashbrook as Kathy “Speed” Davenport and Joe Dallesandro as Perfect Tommy
A few weeks ago we talked about how Carl Weathers failed to break out as a solo action star with Action Jackson. This show was for the six people who liked that movie. Weathers starred as the title character, a detective who discovered a link between his banker father and the mob while investigating a murder. Weathers tracks the killer to fictional Bay City and brings him to justice. He then stayed on to serve as a special troubleshooter for the town’s mayor.

Q: Bit of a strange 1 for ya.What movies are considered as a christmas movie but really arent christmas movies?Die Hard 1 & 2 has always been widely debated in this situation,but IMO is,it is a christmas movie!!
-Muta Mark

A: This was once a topic on the Ask 411 Movies podcast I hosted with a few other writers here on the site. Such off the wall topics might be why we don’t do it anymore. Oh yeah, and nobody listened to it.

Anyway, the first two Die Hard movies are prime examples of movies set at Christmas time which don’t deal with Christmas themes. Another action flick from the same era that also fits is Lethal Weapon from 1987. It features Christmas carols and decorations in several scenes. There’s also the scene at the Christmas tree lot.

Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra is also of the action Christmas time genre. Toward the beginning of the movie he’s shown cleaning his gun and eating cold pizza while watching Christmas specials on television. Also of note from Stallone is Rocky IV. Remember the big fight with Drago is on Christmas Day.

Other movies set in or around Christmas that aren’t technically Christmas movies would include, but not limited too, Better Off Dead, Batman Returns, Trading Places, Gremlins, Go, Love Actually, While You Were Sleeping, Eyes Wide Shut, Bell Book and Candle, Brazil, Look Who’s Talking Now and I would probably also give you the first two Home Alone films.

Q: Hello Leo,
Got an ‘Your Opinion’ question for your column. Hope it isn’t a repeat, but it’s probably likely.
If you were to ask a stranger in the street who is or was the greatest actor and actress of all time, they might reflect on the Golden Age of Hollywood and say someone like Cary Grant or Bette Davis, or they might look at more recent times and say Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep.
For your money, who would you say was the best of the best as an actor and actress from the Golden Age and who from… let’s say, since 1970 (either dead or alive) would be their closest counterpart, if not equal? If you can’t settle on one name and two or three come to mind, I wouldn’t hold it against you if you named them all.
Thanks for your hard work on the column, it’s a true pleasure to read each week.
All the best.

A: I think if you did a general survey of who regular people think was the greatest actor of Hollywood’s golden age, you would find strong camps for Jimmy Stewart and Marlon Brando. Both had different acting styles and did different types of films, so it depends on taste who you like better. If you surveyed actors, I think Spencer Tracy would be at the top. I know guys like Tom Hanks and George Clooney are big fans. The thing about Tracy is that he could command the screen without saying a word. He did so much with his eyes, facial expressions and body language. This was also at a time when actors were still mostly stage trained and had to learn less was more for the camera, as opposed to the stage.

Many readers of the column will probably know my favorite actor is John Wayne, but I wouldn’t call him the best. My second favorite actor is Paul Newman, who spans the eras you set David, and I would call him the best ever film actor for me. Many longtime readers will also know my favorite movie is Color of Money, for which Newman finally won the best actor Oscar. I think his performance in The Verdict from a few years before was even stronger. Newman could command the screen, but he could also give it up to the actor or actress who was on with him. Watching Newman act is like watching Gene Kelly dance. It’s perfect every time in every single way given the situation. It’s subtle when it needs to be, it’s forceful when it needs to be. He was also one of the greatest celebrity humanitarians ever. He helped so many by smartly using his name and celebrity, but never at his own promotion.

As far as the current era of movies, two guys I mentioned above in Hanks and Clooney would be at the top of my list. For me, Clooney is the equivalent of Paul Newman for the current generation. I don’t think you realize how good he is until you reflect on him. For me, his performances in Michael Clayton, Up in the Air and The Descendants are three of the best lead acting performances in movies of the past 10 years or so. If your line is 1970, you naturally have to include Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in the conversation.

The best women is a little more clear cut in my opinion. There has just been less focus on and less killer parts for actresses. You see the same women usually getting the choice parts over and over and they usually get the award nominations over and over. The two most decorated actresses by the Academy Awards are Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep.

Q: What’s up ol’ buddy?  Got a few things for the column:

1)Shows that are in rerun syndication, such as Friends, King of Queens, etc.  Is there a certain “requirement” to run through the entire cycle of episodes before replaying them?  And are there requirements to show every episode of the show, or does it simply vary by station package?  I was always under the assumption that once a show was sold off into syndication, it was for the entire run of the show.  The inspiration for this question comes from my recent viewing of a show called Edgemont.  It’s a Canadian show from 2001-2005 and I discovered it on reruns on the local Me-TV affiliate, however I’ve noticed that the episode airings appear to be scattershot.  While playing in order, episodes will obviously have not aired (such as a recent storyline where a girl was pregnant one week, and for her to be completely past the pregnancy on the following weeks airing).  Then this past week, they aired an episode from the middle of the shows run, where it was currently airing the final season. 

I do know that when the Disney Channel aired the Boy Meets World reruns that it didn’t show several episodes where the subject of sex was a major plot point (for obvious reasons), and I know that when ABC Family reran the old 60’s Spider-Man cartoon they edited out J. Jonah Jameson’s cigar in many episodes.  My guess is just that once the package is purchased by a channel/affiliate they can do whatever they want with it, but I’m hoping you can shed some light on this.

2)Related to the show Edgemont I mentioned above, one of the main stars of the show was Kristin Kreuk, who at the same time was a major player on Smallville.  Off the top of my head I can’t think of any actors/actresses who were a part of the main cast of two different shows running at the same time.  Any examples you can share with us, or expand on why this happened?  Was it because Edgemont was a Canadian show and not necessarily “competition” to Smallville?

3)This one may fly over the heads of many readers, but it’s something I thought of to help you fill some column space.  Remember the old EWR diaries back in the day?  Why not break out EWR again and make a roster of actors/actresses/Hollywood types and run your own “celebrity deathmatch” style diary?  You could make Elizabeth Berkeley the valet for Channing Tatum (the Showgirls/Magic Mike connection) or run a Royal Rumble featuring nothing but members of the Lohan family.  It could be GOLD, Jerry.  GOLD!
-Zack Malibu

A: Extreme Warfare Revenge was a game engine that allowed one to fantasy book wrestling leagues by hiring wrestlers and booking shows. You got points on how good the shows were based on the talent and how you booked them. I used the engine to do some fantasy league blogs on the Smarks forums and in my old wrestling report here on 411.

Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Wrestling ran eight episodes in 2008. It featured has-beens who were already reality show whores. Dennis Rodman won the series, primarily because he had previous wrestling experience and a relationship with show judges Hogan, Jimmy Hart and Eric Bischoff. I bring this up, because there is no way you could book a real fed with A-list actors. They don’t need the money and they don’t need the potential injuries that being even a part-time wrestler could bring. However, I’ve got a few ideas I’ll share.

You mention Channing Tatum above and he can definitely be the John Cena of an all-star league. He’s got the look and physique. Women and kids love him. I think his acting is wooden and that would probably translate to him not being good on the microphone, so he needs a valet or manager.

Another guy I love here is Chris Hemsworth. He’s got the size, the look and raw charisma that would make him work well as a heel or face. Bring him in as a face with Adrianne Palicki as his valet. She was in the Red Dawn remake with Hemsworth and will be in the upcoming G.I. Joe: Retaliation with Tatum. Run a Macho Man/Hogan/Elizabeth angle. Hemsworth is getting beaten up, she runs to the back and gets Tatum for the save. They become a bad ass tag team. Then Hemsworth is jealous, thinking Tatum is using them and getting with Palicki, so he turns heel and she’s caught in the middle.

Another guy I like for this fantasy league is Christopher Walken. You’re probably saying Walken as a wrestler is a terrible idea. How about a heel manager? Okay, now you’re saying that’s awesome. Walken has a sense of humor about himself and has a nice mix of lunacy and evil that translates well into being a heel manager. The promos would be epic. Check out what is basically a promo by Walken from Poolhall Junkies in response to a ‘promo’ from Chazz Palminteri.

One thing I noticed when I saw The Man with the Iron Fists is that Russell Crowe was fat and out of shape. Here’s a guy who was the star of Gladiator and was a notorious bad ass brawler. I think you have him as a special guest on the debut episode, maybe just in the ring waving to the fans. Then you have Walken come out with his guy, Liam McIntyre, who plays a gladiator role as the title character of Spartacus: Vengeance. Crowe’s not the gladiator, this guy is. Crowe is just glad he ate a pizza before coming out. So they beat Crowe down and now the old lion tries to get himself up to go against the young lion. Added bonus, McIntyre is an Aussie while Crowe is a Kiwi.

Second run Syndication is where the rights holder of a series sells the rights to show old episodes to other channels, such as cable networks and local channels. Rights to air the episodes are for a specific length of time, usually six months to a year, and sometimes for specific episodes, like the first three seasons. Usually, 100 episodes is considered the magic number for syndication. That means an hour show, or a half show with back to back episodes, can be shown five days a week for five months without a repeat.

It all depends on the contract, but I don’t think it’s usually mandated that episodes be shown in a certain order. Some shows don’t really have continuity from episode to episode, so it doesn’t matter to keep them order. Usually the most popular episodes will be shown. Also, from time to time, you might have certain episodes pulled from airing due to rights issues or controversial elements. For example, the episode of Seinfeld where George’s fiancee dies by licking bad envelopes was pulled from syndication after 9/11 because of national fears regarding anthrax in the mail.

Another one to mention, series that had black and white and color episodes usually have the color episodes shown more, because modern audiences are more used to color. Gilligan’s Island and I Dream of Jeannie are good examples here. An exception is The Andy Griffith Show, where the black and white episodes are more popular because of Don Knotts.

Armin Shimerman played Quark on Deep Space Nine for the last couple of seasons while also appearing as Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Khandi Alexander was on NewsRadio and ER at the same time. Ian Gomez had regular roles on Norm, Felicity and The Drew Carey Show all at the same time from 1999-2001. Of course, Drew Carey and Ryan Styles were doing Whose Line is it Anyway? at the same time as The Drew Carey Show. Wayne Knight was on Seinfeld and 3rd Rock from the Sun at the same time. Bob Saget hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos and Dave Coulier hosted America’s Funniest People while both were still on Full House. Oz and the various Law and Order shows shared actors at the same time including B.D. Wong, Christopher Meloni and J.K. Simmons and Edie Falco did Oz and The Sopranos at the same time. Heather Locklear played Sammy Jo on Dynasty and Stacy on TJ Hooker at the same time. Both were ABC shows.

Currently, Patrick Warburton is voicing Joe Swanson on Family Guy while doing Rules of Engagement. Also on Family Guy, Mila Kunis was voicing Meg while doing That 70’s Show and Seth Green is voicing Chris while also doing Robot Chicken on Cartoon Network. Back during the early years of The Simpsons Yeardley Smith voiced Lisa and Hank Azaria did tons of characters while also acting on Herman’s Head. Azaria also had a recurring role on Mad About You, as did Lisa Kudrow as the twin sister of her character from Friends.

As far as Kristin Kreuk goes, I couldn’t find a reason she was on Smallville and Edgemont at the same time, she just was. Kreuk answered an open audition call for exotic looking girls in Vancouver for Edgemont. After landing the part, she got an agent. This led to the lead role in Snow White: The Fairest of Them All television movie. Her agent sent a copy of the film to the creators of Smallville, who made her the first actor cast for the series. The fact that the shows shot in Vancouver on different schedules allowed her to juggle both for several years.

All out of questions. Send more!

Don’t die.
“Elizabeth is dying. Wait… Fuck you! And she’s dying.”


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Leonard Hayhurst

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