Randy Johnson 1949-2016

Funnyman Johnson Wrote Jokes for Jay Leno

He Had a Long and Varied Career in Hollywood

by Paulie Hunt

Randy Johnson

Randy Johnson

In Hollywood he was known as Randy Johnson.  To his friends he was “RJ”.  The kid from Minnesota came west to Hollywood where he jumped into the fray as an actor, documentary filmmaker, producer, director, joke writer, and graphic novel writer, among many other accomplishments.  In a town where only the hardy survive, Johnson did well, and  when one area slowed he re-invented himself and charged into another.  I knew RJ for close to 20 years and observed his struggles and achievements.

r-j-santaIt’s been said a thousand times by folks who know, that Hollywood is a merciless town, where only those with an inner toughness and the self-discipline to never give up will be able to survive.  And that’s only a “maybe”.  Most of the young folks who come here only stay a short time, then go back home and find an easier way to make a living.  But Johnson was tough.  Focused.  When he hit a wall he picked himself up and tried again.  He went over the wall, or around it.  It wasn’t an easy life.  The highs of success also begat the lows of depression and for a while alcoholism.  But his story should be an inspiration to those who follow.  Never give up.  Learn new things.  Get your foot in the door and then when the time comes, kick it open.  Don’t wait for someone to “discover” you.  RJ would tell you to “discover yourself.”

r-j-nyeHe wore many hats in his career, many that he glued together himself.  He worked in the local theaters, often for free.  He originally wanted to be an actor, and did work in television on shows like General Hospital, TV Movies “The Detective” and “Hard Time”.  During acting lulls, he used his skills as a writer for soap opera magazines, where he made a lot of friends and got some inside peeks at the television industry.  He did any kind of work he could get at first.  Once he even worked at a grimy joint in the hot San Fernando Valley that sold used refrigerators.  His job was to clean up the new arrivals, often caked with grease, to get them ready to sell.  He told me that working at that place for six months was one of the worst experiences of his life, scrubbing used refrigerators for 8 hours a day, but the side benefit was that there was no job in “Hollywood” that was worse than that.  “I knew that if I could survive that, then there was nothing in Hollywood that would beat me.  Anything would be better than that.  I got a job as a security guard at one of the studios, and compared to the refrigerators, it was paradise,” he said.

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Johnson eventually landed a job at a local television station,  KTLA where he Produced two local documentaries, “Breaking Ground”, and “Amnesty: The Dream Fulfilled.”   This would serve him well later, when he created two award winning documentary films.  The first one was “Look Who’s Laughing”, which spotlighted some disabled comedians striving for success.  He managed to get a grant from CPB, hard back then (1993) but now almost impossible for an individual.  He also managed to get financial help from Dustin Hoffman and the (Bob) Dole Foundation.  He hit the road with a camera crew, filming at comedy clubs, seeking out the few disabled comedians and filmed their routines.  He mixed in some heart-warming interviews, and the finished product became not only a success, but an inspiration to disabled folks.  Stars comedy greats Kathy Buckley, Brett Leake, Chris Fonseca, Alex Valdez, J.D. England, and Geri Jewell.

His next documentary was “The Joke’s on Thee” a film about humor in religion.  Once again he hit the trail to the comedy clubs.  He sought out stand-up comics who were finding humor in their religious beliefs.  The DVD became a classic hit, and was played many times on public broadcasting stations around the country. Click below to see a short preview on youtube.


His success with humor and comedy was highlighted in other television shows like Second City Presents, which he Produced and was hosted by writer Bill Zehme.  This new series of TV interviews offers an intimate and humorous look at comedians such as Martin Short, Tracey Ullman, Jim Belushi, Molly Shannon, Joan Rivers and John Lovitz.

RJ also one time at a Hollywood type meeting with some other producers, sketched out on a napkin an idea for a TV show, that was later called “It’s Black Entertainment”.  It was aired on Showtime, to rave reviews.

He then moved into joke writing for Jay Leno and the Tonight Show.  This was a particularly hard gig.  RJ worked as a freelancer, he was never on Leno’s staff, although he would have jumped at the chance.  (He would have also loved the high pay).  Johnson was very disciplined about his writing.  He would get up every morning about 7 am and start listening to the news.  He would scour the internet for the wacky, oddball stories that he could latch on to.  He would then write until about 1 pm, then fax the jokes that he had to Leno.  It was brutal.  He would send in 50 to 100 per day, often getting zero.  If he got 4 or 5 jokes in a week it was a very good week.

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Jay Leno spared no expense promoting the Tonight Show.  Photo by Paulie Hunt

Leno did not pay big to freelancers for jokes. It was usually $75.  After all, he had a big staff of writers who were being paid huge salaries to come up with funny stuff.  Squeezing anything into the Tonight Show was tough, the competition fierce.  RJ said that Leno got about a thousand jokes a day from freelancers.  So you had to be better than the army of freelancers and also better than the high paid pros on Leno’s staff.  There were weeks when RJ did not get even one joke. “I worked all week for free, Paulie,” he said.  Sometimes the dark cloud would continue for two or three weeks.  About the third week RJ would be questioning everything.  He would show me a stack of papers with hundreds of jokes.  “Are any of these funny?  Am I losing it?” he’d quip.  Of course they were funny, many of them were screamers.  Why Leno didn’t buy some of them, nobody could tell.  The third week of no sales would also bring on the paranoia.  He would call the show, ask if he were on the “S” list for some reason.  The voice on the other end of the phone would always calm him down. “Nothing’s wrong, just keep sending stuff in.”  And sure enough, the jokes would start selling again. His hard work would pay off and at the end of the year Leno would send him a great Christmas bonus check, based on his production and I think a little on his seniority.  RJ was always very grateful for the bonus check.  Leno is a great guy, and did not forget his freelancers, especially the ones that stuck it out and produced good stuff.

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I remember once RJ and I were working together on something, and I made one of my off the cuff comments about some news event.  RJ thought that was funny, in fact, the only funny thing I had said in months.  “I’ll send it to Leno, and if it sells, we’ll split it.”  It sold and we splurged the next Saturday night on tacos at Baja Fresh.  So there’s my claim to fame as a professional joke writer, a half of a joke sold to the Tonight Show.  Hey, at my age I take what I can get.  A half is better than notta.

The moral of the story is that you can’t give up.  Keep on slugging.  RJ had sold an incredible 1,730 jokes up until October 2013 when he had a stroke and landed in the hospital.

Red Eden Graphic Novel

Red Eden Graphic Novel

During the time he was writing jokes, he also worked on other projects. He was a co-author with Greg Simay and Mike White on a graphic novel called “Red Eden”.  This is a science-fiction story about Native Americans who used technology to get into space and settle on Mars where they built their new Paradise.  Enter a group of rogues from a dying planet Earth who try to take over the paradise on Mars for themselves.  A young “Martian” woman rallies her people to fight to the finish against the onslaught from Earth.  This graphic novel was published on amazon Kindle and is now available.  It was to be the last project that Johnson worked on, published about a year before his death, when he was incapacitated in a recovery home.  I was a hired gun on the project and RJ and I worked intensely on editing and dialogue for  over a year.

RJ had worked with Mike White long ago, back in the 1980s, when they both worked as crew for a fashion show producer.  Mike and RJ had also written a play that was produced and staged at a dinner theater in the Valley.  His other co-author was Greg Simay, who helped to finance “The Jokes on Thee”. Simay was also the publisher of Red Eden.

RJ donated a lot of his time to various Hollywood projects.  He called this putting  some “sweat equity” into things that are important to the industry he worked in.  One of his projects around 1984 was as a volunteer to hike up behind the old Pilgrimage Theater and repair the huge Cross that had been vandalized and blown over in a windstorm.  The cross was actually a memorial for Christine Stevenson who helped to build the Hollywood Bowl and did build the old Pilgrimage Theater to put on a play that she wrote.

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 Another was to pitch in to work on repairs at the old Masquers Club in Hollywood, which had been a watering hole for the top actors, producers and directors.  Located at 1765 Sycamore Ave., just above Hollywood Blvd., the old elegant Club had fallen on hard times.  The worst issue was parking.  Although the Masquers was flush with money in the 1930s, they failed to secure a parking lot at the time.  This was because all the members would arrive in their own limos, so who needs parking?  By 1980s parking was certainly a problem.  At that time crime in Hollywood was on the rise, and parking down near Hollywood Blvd and walking the block to the Masquers was like running a mugging marathon.  The muggers would fight each other over the “prey”.  It was hard to attract new members.

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In the mid 1980s RJ joined the Masquers and spent a great deal of time trying to fix up the place, painting, cleaning, everything, including putting on new shows and trying to induce new members.  The Club lingered for a while, but the building finally had to be sold.  The site is now an apartment building.  The Masquers moved downtown Los Angeles for a while into the old building owned by Milt Larson called the Variety Arts center.  The famous bar was moved into the third floor, along with all the memorabilia.  When Larson closed the Variety Arts center, the stuff was moved into a warehouse for storage, and only the CIA knows for sure where that is.

LAPD giving RJ a ride to a local event in their cool 1950's Chevy Police Car.

LAPD giving RJ a ride to a local event in their cool 1950’s Chevy Police Car. Photo by Paulie Hunt 2010.

RJ was active in local Studio City and community events, the area where he lived and managed a 23 unit apartment building,, which we called Radford Gardens.  He was a frequent letter writer to the Daily News and had scores of letters published.  He was able to get so many letters in the newspapers because he had mastered the art of being succinct.  Writing for the Tonight Show meant that the jokes were short and sweet, one or two lines.  He was big on twitter, where you only have 140 characters to get your point across.  He used these techniques to get letters into the local newspapers and television shows.  If you are an aspiring writer of the short quip, or a political activist, practice by sending out short tweets.  Train yourself to boil down the main idea that you want to get across and make it as short as possible.  RJ was big on Hemingway, and studied Hemingway’s methods of crunching down the words to the absolute minimum, while still being entertaining, of course.

Back in 2008, when WhatUpHollywood first started, RJ contributed our first video.  This was a warning to tourists, “Hollywood Tourists Beware”.  Click below to watch this.


That schtick didn’t get either one of us a free meal at Patys Restaurant in Toluca Lake, but RJ’s small snapshot photo of himself was hanging on the wall upside down beside all the glamorous photos of Hollywood Celebrities for several years.

2009 - Last Walk on the beach.

RJ loved to sneak off to Malibu and walk on the beach.  Had he made the kind of money that some writers achieve, I know where he would have been living.  I went with RJ many times to grab a lunch at McDonalds, then walk down the beach.  We could shed some stress from the grind of the writing projects we were working on.  I happened to have my little flip camera the last time we went up to Malibu, and filmed RJ waving goodbye.  Neither of us knew that would be his last walk on the beach.

When RJ’s apartment was dismantled I jotted down the basic information on the certificates of achievements that were hanging on the wall of his office.  Included were the following:

—1994  “Look Who’s Laughing”.  Berkeley Video Festival, Best of Festival, Comedy

—1995 Gold Award – Excellence in the Category of Independent Production from CPB for “Look Who’s Laughing.”

RJ at his cottage in Finland.

RJ at his cottage in Finland.

—2001 Best of Festival Award, Comedy, Berkeley Video and Film Festival, for “The Jokes on Thee”

—1994 – 42nd Annual Columbus International Film and Video Festival, Bronze Plaque for “Look Who’s Laughing.”

—2000 – Silver World Medal for “It’s Black Entertainment” (RJ was Producer on this)

—1995 Bronze Apple Award, National Educational Media Network, “Look Who’s Laughing”.

—15th Media Access Awards, “Look Who’s Laughing”, Governor’s Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons.

 

That taco was how old?

That taco was how old?

Working with RJ on various projects could be challenging.  Many times I thought that maybe it would be easier to take that job cleaning up old refrigerators.  But things smoothed out, and we did a lot of good work on Red Eden.  Knowing RJ was a great learning experience.  He always wanted to achieve the best that he was capable of.  Perfection was a goal that never could be grasped, but it was his obsession to try to reach it. He made quite a mark in Hollywood, that kid from Minneapolis, and we are all better for the experience.

Randy Johnson is missed by his friends and his loving brother Mark Johnson and family.  God rest his merry soul.

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LAPD Mounted in Hollywood

Where the Good Guys Wear Blue Hats

August 2016  photo by uncle paulie

August 2016
photo by uncle paulie

photo by uncle paulie

photo by uncle paulie

photo by uncle paulie

photo by uncle paulie

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Paramount Studios History Part 2

Film Historians Present Slide Show to Celebrate Second Book on Paramount Pictures

Marc Wanamaker getting the slideshow going.

Marc Wanamaker getting the slideshow going.

Marc Wanamaker and Michael Christaldi returned to Larry Edmunds Bookshop in April to present a slideshow and commentary to celebrate the release of their second book on Paramount Pictures.  The first book was entitled “Early Paramount Studios.”  All three authors of that book were on hand during the first presentation, which can still be viewed on this website, click here to see the first part.

Michael Christaldi signing books for fans.

Michael Christaldi signing books for fans.

The fascinating tale of Hollywood powerhouse Paramount Pictures, beginning with its birth in the 1910s through the turbulent decade of the 1930s was told in Early Paramount Studios by Marc Wanamaker, Michael Christaldi, and E.J. Stephens. Now two of the three authors are back at LARE to tell the next 60 years of the studio saga in Paramount Studios: 1940-2000, with a foreword by former Paramount head of production Robert Evans. This book picks up the story during the time of World War II a successful era for the studio which was followed by a decade of decline due to the upstart medium of television. By the 1960s, the studio teetered on the brink of bankruptcy before rebounding, thanks to several 1970s blockbusters, such as Love Story, The Godfather, and Chinatown. The tale continues through the final decades of the 20th century when Paramount showcased some of the greatest hits in its history.

Marc Wanamaker brought in a tremendous collection of slides to illustrate and expand on the second book.  Of course, only a limited number of photos can be put into a book, so the fantastic photos he brought in delighted the audience, as many of the photos have not been seen in general circulation before.  Marc and Michael, both film historians, added a colorful and authoritative running commentary.  Click on the box below to see the entire event:

For signed copies (if available), contact LarryEdmunds.com or phone (323) 463-3273.

Thanks to Big Fun Video for filming this great event.

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Illeana Douglas and Friends at Larry Edmunds Bookshop

Gang of Famous Comedians Rock at

Hollywood Bookshop

IMG_4035It’s hard to get a great line-up like this at a comedy club, but on Sunday, May 1st, Illeana Douglas showed up at Larry Edmunds Bookshop with Kelly Carlin, Heather Matarazzo, Wayne Fetterman, Greg Proops and Jennifer Tilly to read from Illeana’s new book “I Blame Dennis Hopper.”  Her book is over the top funny, beginning when her show business parents saw Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider, and decided to become hippies.  They opened a big commune at their country house and life went downhill for Illeana from there.  Click on the frame below to watch this hilarious event.  And if you think Illeana is over the top, wait until you see Jennifer Tilly in action!  A great cast, this could be a permanent dinner party road show.

Signed copies of Illeana’s book are still available at: www.LarryEdmunds.com

Or visit the shop, located at 6644 Hollywood Blvd., in the heart of Hollywood.

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History of Paramount Studios Part 2

Film Historians to Make Presentation at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood
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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13th -7:30 pm @ Larry Edmunds Bookshop-PARAMOUNT STUDIOS 1940-2000
It is  always a joy to welcome friends back & the Lare really doesn’t have too many friends that go back further than Marc Wanamaker. As a matter of fact, the screen we will project the presentation upon is only here because of the kindness of Marc & Robert Nudelman back in 2007 when they did the very 1st book signing event I ever did here in the store. After showing the classic photos projected onto sheets, my friends came back from a cinema equipment show w/ a new screen as a gift. Thanks guys!
Marc will be joined next Wednesday by co-author & friend of the Lare, Michael Christaldi who joins us for the second time on the author side to talk all things Paramount from 1940-2000.
Join us for a presentation, some conversation & some book signing about the studio behind the famous front gate.
The fascinating tale of Hollywood powerhouse Paramount Pictures—beginning with its birth in the 1910s through the turbulent decade of the 1930s—was told in Early Paramount Studios by Marc Wanamaker, Michael Christaldi, and E.J. Stephens. Now the same authors are back to tell the next 60 years of the studio saga in Paramount Studios: 1940–2000, with a foreword by former Paramount head of production Robert Evans.
This book picks up the story during the time of World War II—a successful era for the studio—which was followed by a decade of decline due to the upstart medium of television. By the 1960s, the studio teetered on the brink of bankruptcy before rebounding, thanks to several 1970s blockbusters, such as Love Story, The Godfather, and Chinatown. The tale continues through the final decades of the 20th century when Paramount showcased some of the greatest hits in its history.
As always, you can make it a mail order special if you can’t join us on the 13th.
paramount flyer
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Pop Haydn’s Shindig

Coming to North Hollywood March 31, 2016

Pop Hayden Shindig

Click Here for more information!

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Tribute Scheduled for George Clayton Johnson

Egyptian Theater Hollywood to Host Tribute Friday, February 26th, 7:30pm

George Clayton Johnson with old friend Brian Kirby.

George Clayton Johnson with old friend Brian Kirby. Photo by Paul Hunt

What Up Hollywood had to really dig through the archives to find this great old photo of George with former Los Angeles Free Press Editor Brian Kirby.  This was taken at the annual Paperback Collector’s Show in Mission Hills many moons ago.

A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE CLAYTON JOHNSON
This program is free to the public – first come, first served – with a suggested donation of $8 to our nonprofit to help cover expenses.

George Clayton Johnson (July 10, 1929 – December 25, 2015) penned some of the most memorable science fiction scripts of the 1960s and ’70s, including the first episode of “Star Trek” and seminal episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” as well as co-writing the novel Logan’s Run. Join us for an evening celebrating Johnson’s life and career, including “Twilight Zone” episodes “Nothing in the Dark”(1962), “A Penny for Your Thoughts” (1961), “A Game of Pool” (1961) and “Kick the Can” (1962), as well as remembrances from colleagues. There will be a panel discussion and a performance by members of Ray Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company.

To rsvp on Eventbrite click here. It is free to rsvp.
Panel discussion follows with biographer Vivien Cooper, LOGAN’S RUN co-writer William F. Nolan, writers Dennis Etchison, Mark Scott Zicree and Wendy All and producers Jason and Sunni Brock, moderated by George’s son Paul Johnson. There will also be a performance by members of Ray Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company. (approx. 150 min.)

Posted by Uncle Paulie

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Anyone Out There Wanna Read a Few Scripts?

Hollywood Actor Gene Raymond Standing in His Backyard With A Huge Pile of Scripts

Wouldn't you just love to root through those scripts?

Wouldn’t you just love to root through those scripts?

Looking through the What Up Hollywood Archives, I found this great old photo of Gene Raymond.  Lord knows where it came from, but it looks to have been taken in the late 1940s or 1950s. I really hope this pile of scripts went to an archive rather than the bin.   Raymond was in a lot of films and also tons of television.  He was one of the most talented men in Hollywood, an actor, composer, producer, director, and much more.  Click Here to check him out on IMDB.  He was married to the beautiful Jeanette MacDonald for 28 years.

posted by Uncle Paulie

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Hollywood’s Controversy Over Racial Issues Heats Up

Hollywood Fails to Improve Despite the 1973 Wake-Up Call at the Oscars

by Robert S. Newport, Jr.

There has been a lot of talk lately that minorities have been pretty much shut out of Hollywood, especially the Academy Awards.  It has really been obvious that most movies that are the big bread and butter for the industry have been lacking of a presence of African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian actors, stories, and awards.  The African American community has been the forefront on this issue, they have the most organized voice and the biggest muscle in the press to get noticed, and recent talk shows, entertainment shows, and web sites have started to discuss this.

There is a wide variety of opinion on this issue.  Some members of the Academy claim that they choose the best actors and movies for awards, and those who are not chosen are just sore losers.  Others, mostly African Americans have claimed that there is a deeper, structural problem at work.  Taking an overall view, this certainly would seem to be the case.  American audiences seem to be so self-involved and arrogant that foreign films, for instance, that have many different ethnic actors, stories, directors, and producers are largely ignored.  This leads to the question, which comes first, the chicken or the egg, meaning which comes first, the appreciative audience or the massive exposure of these films to develop an audience.  Cable and Public Television could be a big help.

There are also, no doubt, many films made right here in the United States that are not considered for one reason or the other, really low budget art films for instance, that might have more exposure to minority participation.  It really seems that the entire Hollywood system is weighted to continuing to churn out films directed toward a young box-office market, and reflecting in its majority of presentations only a white perspective.

Native Americans Ignored More Than Others 

Marlon Brando, "The Godfather"

Marlon Brando, “The Godfather”

Lost in memory today is the huge controversy that occurred at the Academy Awards back on March 27, 1973.  That night, Marlon Brando got the Oscar for his role in The Godfather.  It was the culmination of a tremendous come-back for Brando, and would probably have been one of the highlights of his life.  But Brando did not show up to the ceremony, he boycotted the event, shocking everyone.  In his stead, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, who did not accept the Oscar, but attempted to read a statement from Brando, that was considered a slap in the face to the old boys who had run Hollywood since the beginning.  But it was a wake-up call, because Brando was aware of what the Native American community had been suffering for years, and today would be a good time to re-read his statement of 43 years ago, and to realize that not much has changed either in society or in the tight old-boy world of Hollywood.   Here’s Brando’s entire statement:

That Unfinished Oscar Speech 

By MARLON BRANDO

Sacheen Littlefeather

Sacheen Littlefeather

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ”Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.”

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one’s neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we’re not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don’t concern us, and that we don’t care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

++++++++++++++

This statement was written by Marlon Brando for delivery at the Academy Awards ceremony where Mr. Brando refused an Oscar. The speaker, who did not have the time to read the statement was Sachheen Littlefeather. Click below to see the very humble, loving presentation that Ms. Littlefeather made:

Finally, A Recent Science Fiction Story Featuring Native Americans Generating Film Interest

Red Eden Graphic Novel

Red Eden Graphic Novel

Over the Christmas holidays an unusual graphic novel was published that featured Native Americans.  The story, called “Red Eden” looks into the future and postulates that the Native Americans levereged their casino revenue and became technologically proficient and got to the planet Mars, which they “terraformed” into a paradise.  Every thing was going well for a while, but back down on earth, which had become polluted, corrupted, and suffering governmental collapse, a group of thugs and criminals escaped the dying planet and headed for Mars, to take the paradise away from the courageous Native Americans now living there.  The story follows a young Indian woman who is coming of age during all this chaos.  Will history repeat itself?  Or will the Native Americans fight off an invasion of thugs and continue to live on their peaceful planet?  That’s the story line for a ground-breaking graphic novel that explores a lot of the past issues and gives attention to the past treatment of Native Americans in the United States.

The question is how serious is the chance of a major studio picking up this story, and in fact does any production company have the guts to do a project like this?  One of the writers on the book, Greg Simay, claims that it is appealing to a young female audience as equally as it appeals to a young male audience, which is important to filmmakers who are always trying to target their biggest box office supporters.  The story is somewhat controversial in many ways, but since it is science fiction, it has a chance to break through the Hollywood establishment that has ignored the real story of the American Indians and given such shoddy, disrespectful treatment of them that watching some of the old “cowboy and indian” films today is painful for many folks.  Marlon Brando’s 1973 speech seems more true today.  Hollywood has sporadically done the right thing and brought up social and racial issues, especially for African Americans, but it has not been an across the board effort.  Author – publisher Simay says that he has had some interest from Hollywood, but nothing firm.  It’s beyond past time for Hollywood to put its magic into telling great stories about everyone, including Native Americans and certainly African Americans.  One of the films up for an award is The Martian, about the rescue of one, lone white dude on a failed Martian exploration.  Much more dramatic would be the fate of an entire Civilization on Mars, especially if it were Native American.

There is great talent in the Native American and African communities that are waiting to be tapped.  Is Hollywood up to the task?  The Oscars are almost upon us, and this is a controversy that is not going to disappear.

Click Here to see Sacheen Littlefeather’s web site.

Click Here to hear Frank Morano’s radio interview with Sacheen Littlefeather

Click Here to go to the Mars Red Eden site.

 

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“The Tall Man” – RIP Angus Scrimm

Everyone’s Favorite Phantasm Villain

Angus Scrimm & Bill NelsonAngus Scrimm (Lawrence Rory Guy) with What Up Hollywood writer Bill Nelson

Click Here for IMDB Biography

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