Gong Show Star Was Stagehand at NBC Studios in Burbank
Bill Nelson with Gene
Eugene Patton, known as Gene Gene the Dancing Machine on the old Gong Show has died at 82, on March 9, 2015. He is shown above with What Up Hollywood contributor Bill Nelson. Mr. Patton worked at NBC Studios in Burbank, and was discovered by Chuck Barris of the Gong Show. “Gene Gene” would come on the stage, dancing to the old Count Basie melody “Jumpin at the Woodside” and the audience would go wild. There was something about him, he made folks so happy, everyone was up dancing. Check out youtube for some of his appearances, or click on the box below for a compilation.
Legs McNeil tells the story of discovering the diary when his postman’s daughter came over to borrow some books. “She said that the best thing she had read lately wasn’t a book, it was a manuscript diary of a young woman who was struggling with drugs, boys, and her own thoughts of low self esteem,” said McNeil at a reading at Book Soup in Hollywood.
McNeil got a photocopy of the diary and it blew him away. It was the real “Go Ask Alice”, a devastating glimpse into our decaying culture, as revealed by the inner thoughts of a teenage girl. The popular “Go Ask Alice”, a purported diary of a troubled teen, is widely thought to be fiction. The diary McNeil found was real, and just as savage. He called his co-author Gillian McCain and they agreed to try to bring this diary into print, a project that took years. McNeil titled the diary “Dear Nobody, The True Diary of Mary Rose.” He and Gillian read powerful entries to a rapt audience at Book Soup. They also took turns reading from “Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of Punk.” The event was hosted by the great British actor and singer Michael Des Barres, whose lively commentary sparked the afternoon gathering. To view this shocking reading, click the box below. Warning: Strong language.
To see the entire program right now click the box below.
Author Paul Fischer Describes His Journey to the Hermit Kingdom in Search of the Truth About The Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il
Swiss author Paul Fischer made a rare appearance at Book Soup to discuss his new book about the mysterious films of Kim Jong-Il and his huge production company in North Korea. The “Dear Leader”, was quite a film buff, with a reported library of over 20,000 video tapes. He immersed himself in film lore, even as he rose through the ranks to become the “ruler” of his country. Rumor has it that the Dear Leader ordered stacks of films every week from a Berlin film exchange in the 1980′s, sending couriers from North Korea to pick up and return the films.
The Dear Leader must have had a love for movie director Busby Berkeley, who devised musical and dance routines with complex geometric forms, usually seen spectacularly from above. Kim Jong-Il took these types of dance and movement routines to the max, using thousands of performers in massive stadiums. These awesome events could not be done in the west, due to the huge financial costs if nothing else. In North Korea, things were different, and Chairman Kim somehow found ways to encourage thousands of performers.
But the most baffling thing of all was embodied in a major film that Chairman Kim produced. This was the movie “Pulgasari”, about a Godzilla-type Monster who is anti-war and anti-military. The Monster eats swords and weapons of all kinds, and fights to protect the poor peasants from an evil ruler. Think about it, the Dear Leader is, by western standards, the head of a strict authoritarian State, yet he makes a strongly anti-militaristic movie. A strange contradiction. Was he deep down a pacifist, but trapped by his position and family to fulfill his duty as the head of a militarized government? We will probably never know, but these contradictions surface even in western culture. President Obama comes to mind. He got the Nobel Peace Prize and then poured more troops into the Middle East, also flooding the area with hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons to “moderate” groups and regimes. He launched a devastating attack on Libya, driving out the ruling government, and then flooded the skies of the Middle East and Africa with drones, killing a large number of civilians in the process. At the present time he is bombing parts of Syria into rubble in an undeclared air war. The difference in contradictions is only one of degree. The Dear Leader, until the time of his death, had not engaged in warfare in another country, although his record in his own country on human rights is much discussed in the press. So who has the biggest contradictions, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, or the filmmaker of a great anti-war epic, who makes atomic bombs in his spare time?
Paul Fischer’s book is a look inside the North Korean culture and the unexpected rise of a large movie production studio, run by the country’s Leader, Kim Jong-Il. Fischer went to North Korea and other places to try to get a handle on a very big, but very strange story. It seems that the Dear Leader wanted to make great movies, especially the kind of propaganda films that would make his regime look good. But he did not have a reserve of talent to draw from. The new film production had no backlog of directors or actors. So the story goes that some secret agents were sent out to kidnap a famous actress from South Korea, and her ex-husband director. These were to be the core of the new film industry. Fischer’s book is really a detective story of sorts. Many in South Korea said that the actress and director defected to North Korea to work with the Dear Leader. There’s a lot of strange politics here, because when the pair returned to the west, they defected to the CIA, not South Korea. Fisher’s book covers all this in detail, as well as discussing as much as could be gleaned about Kim Jong-Il, North Korea’s enigmatic, mysterious movie -loving “Dear Leader.”
To view the event with Paul Fischer on youtube, click here.
To order a signed copy of his book (only a few left) from Book Soup click here.
To view the event right here, right now, click on the box below.
Forrest Ackerman Held Frequent Open House at His Jam-Packed Science Fiction-Horror Mansion
Our Contributor Bill Nelson Snapped these Photos During a Visit with His Father Lamar Nelson, a Friend of Forry Ackerman
Forry and Lamar Nelson
Forry’s house was filled with wondrous science fiction and horror books, toys, photos, creatures, magazines, masks and anything else that was related. He was an early fan himself, meaning the 1920′s, and later became a literary agent for science fiction writers. For about thirty years he published a colorful magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. Forry was always a gentleman and often hosted events at his house. Los Angeles fandom remembers his upbeat personality and great knowledge. Check out youtube for some posted video tours of his mansion. We miss both the wonderful men pictured above, Lamar and Forry.
Sharp as a tack at 97 years old, and full of wonderful memories, June Foray, the voice of many of your cartoon favorites including Rocky, Lucifer, Witch Hazel, Natasha Fatale, and Granny attended the launch of “The Art of Jay Ward” at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood. The petite lady was in good spirits, and talked to fans along with author Darrell van Citters, whose book on Jay Ward has been received with great enthusiasm. Cartoons were shown that highlighted the voice of Ms. Foray. Author van Citters gave a presentation and answered questions on the creation of his book, and delved into the history of Jay Ward and the creative studio he set up in Hollywood.
Is He An Artist? An Activist? A Vandal? Or Just A Money Churning Capitalist?
Robbie Conal and Jim Daichendt
Author Jim Daichendt and Artist Robbie Conal Discuss the World of Street Art. The controversial, highly successful Shepard Fairey has had a tremendous influence on society. In politics we all remember the anti-war, anti-Bush street art campaign nation-wide. Then came the incredible Obama hope, change images that propelled Fairey into the big time of media manipulation. The shock to all the noted Madison Avenue types who thought they alone could sway a big part of the population with slick television advertising was especially felt in the highest levels of political spin-meisters. Because the campaign came from the bottom of society, using masses of street artists to post Fairey’s posters and stickers in urban areas across America and get possibly more views than traditional television marketing, the traditions have been upset. The elite realized that this could degrade their ability to control. But just who is Shepard Fairey? Click on the box below to listen in on this great discussion at Book Soup in Hollywood.
Click on the box below to see Shepard’s great “how-to” video. How to mix the wheat paste, the best products for street art posters, how to quickly put up art to avoid being arrested, and other tips for upcoming street artists.
Get the Popcorn and Settle in for an Evening with the Always Entertaining Bill Friedkin
Whenever Director Bill Friedkin drops in to Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood to sign some of his books the fun and banter will certainly liven up the place. This hot July night was especially good, as book shop owner Jeff prods Friedkin to do a public service announcement to plug the store. Friedkin, meanwhile, is annoyed at the “ebayers” who want him to sign an astonishing array of memorabilia they have dredged up, or put some strange inscription on an item. This all makes for some colorful conversation. Hence a warning for strong language.
There is a reason why Friedkin has a huge fan base around the world. His lovable, opinionated style sets him apart – his honesty is refreshing in the mucky realm of Hollywood spin.
So get out the popcorn, and click the box below, the fun is about to start:
Hollywood Studio Launches Controversial Web Series
Robin Hood meets All In The Family
Cynthia Webster Zeroscillator Wizard and Studio Mogul
Everything about ThiaMedia Studios is, well, different. It’s a Hollywood Studio, only it’s in nearby Glendale. The Security Guard is a dog who barks to announce your arrival. The Studio Mogul is a woman, Cynthia Webster, who spent over 30 years as a cinematographer, director, and producer named Brett Webster. And then there’s the electronic wizard side of Cynthia Webster, who manufactures and designs zeroscillators in her spare time. The strangest thing of all is why there’s no reality show camped out in the studio shooting the daily drama of Cynthia and her enterprises.
The latest to come out of ThiaMedia Studios is a comedy called 99 Percent Gang. The story is about a band of misfits who attempt to transfer wealth from the one percent rich to the 99 percent poor folks. They do this by robbing one billionaire at a time. Click here to see the first episode.
Charles Pelletier, left
Series director Charles Pelletier has assembled a dynamic group of actors who are pushing the limits of his television story-telling. Although it is a comedy, the story breaks out of the normal restraints of mainstream television by posing some sharp political and social questions. Like if the economic situation gets really bad, and the government is incapable of rectifying the huge wealth disparity, is it ok to just go after the uber rich, and steal their wealth for redistribution? This is probably not something that’s going to be on NBC anytime soon, but addresses kind of a larger issue that has played out from other filmmakers: that of justice coming from the bottom of society. Whether it’s the Clint Eastwood type character, or the lone vigilante against the mob, or the Japanese Blind Swordsman Zatoichi, this theme is a reflection of the angst of the masses. In today’s society it is really in your face. The bankers steal billions, yet not one goes to jail. A black kid steals a cigarette and is gunned down by the cops. Sometimes the people do take note. This series explores those feelings of injustice that many have, only with a dark comedic outlook rather than gunfights and violence.
ThiaMedia Studios itself is a story of a struggling enterprise, fighting to survive against all odds. The well equipped studio is set up to film commercials, music videos and feature films. Cynthia Webster and her vivacious and energetic partner Louise Liebi keep the studio well stocked with lighting, cameras and room to construct sets. Their Glendale location is close to the area of Los Feliz – Hyperian Valley, where many of the original Hollywood movie studios began a century ago. The area of Glendale has become the home of other major studios, but congratulations to ThiaMedia Studios for having the guts to tackle difficult social-economic issues that other “big studios” are afraid to touch.