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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #521 (Vol. 11, No. 12). This edition is for the week of March 15--21, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Just a few notes this week. Shall we begin?

MOVIE REVIEW
"The Bounty Hunter" by Mike Smith
RETRORAMA
Megacon 2010 by ED Tucker
GROWING UP FANBOY
Saturday Horrors on USA Network by Chris Woods
THE ASIAN APERTURE
A Shift in Focus by Jason Fetters
MIKE'S RANT
Poetic Justice .... Movie Notes .... If I May Brag For One Moment .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith

POETIC JUSTICE

Having declared a jihad on Paul McCartney's money years ago, it seems only fitting that Heather Mills recently had her prosthetic leg searched for explosives while traveling from London's Heathrow Airport to visit the United States.

The former prostitute (Stella McCartney's words, not mine), who lost part of her leg after being hit by a police motorcycle in 1993, kept shaking her head as she sat down and pulled up her pant leg for the security officer to swab it for explosives. Good for him. See, even if we can't profile people based on their looks or country of origins, we can profile gold diggers. An onlooker described Mills as looking "humiliated," though wasn't sure if it was because of the terrorist check or the fact she's spending Sir Paul's money like it's going out of style. Last month she told a British publication that she has already spent most of the almost $40 million she got from McCartney, though she said she gave a lot of it to "charity." Yeah, right.

MOVIE NOTES

Of course, you know you can always go to http://moviemikes.com/ for breaking Hollywood news. Here's a recap of the week's biggest announcements:

According to Neil Patrick Harris, fans of the popular "Dr. Horror's Sing-Along Blog" will be pleased to know that there is a possibility the next installment will be as a feature film.

This years Supporting Actor Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz will next be seen as the villian Chudnufsky in the upcoming "Green Hornet" film. After that, he plans to return to his native Germany and assume a seat behind the camera, where he will make his feature film directing debut with the film "Auf und Davon" ("Up and Away"). Waltz also adapted the screenplay from a novel which tells the story of a young woman who does not like the turn her life takes after appearing on a televised dating show.

Jennifer Lopez is in talks to star in the proposed remake of the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell comedy, "Overboard." One thing for sure, with that giant butt of hers she won't be in any danger of drowning!

IF I MAY BRAG FOR ONE MOMENT

I was very proud to learn on Friday morning that my movie review for "The Bounty Hunter" on MovieMikes.com was picked up and promoted by the Washington Post.

Also, we're in the middle of our third giveaway so if you want the chance to win some cool swag, please head over and answer a simple question.








Album:
John Travolta by, you guessed it, John Travolta

Soundtrack:
Saturday Night Fever - Original Movie Soundtrack featuring songs by The Bee Gees


Ah, the late 1970s. It was a good time for many, myself included. But for 22 year old John Travolta, it was a GREAT TIME! The breakout star of the television series, "Welcome Back Kotter," the Brooklyn born actor was quickly signed to a staggering three picture movie deal by producer Robert Stigwood for $1 million, an unheard of amount for a television actor. Years later 20th Century Fox would raise similar eyebrows when they gave Bruce Willis $5 million to do a little film called, "Die Hard." Several years before, a 17 year old Travolta had auditioned for Stigwood for the lead role in the film version of "Jesus Christ Superstar." Though the role would go to Ted Neeley, Stigwood kept Travolta's name in his memory, certain he was destined for greatness. On an early episode of "Kotter," Travolta's character, Vinnie Barbarino, walked into his classroom singing a version of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann," though it was more like, "Ba - ba- ba....Ba-Barbarino." Watching at home was Midland Records producer Bob Reno, who quickly made a few phone calls and got Travolta to sign a contract. Though he appears (with such soon to be stars as Treat Williams, Marilu Henner and Ann Reinking) on the cast album of the Broadway musical "Over There," the self titled album would be Travolta's first as a solo artist. Boosted by the success of the top 10 single, "Let Her In," the album rose as high as #39 on the Billboard charts. The album also contains a catch Eric Carmen song called "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again." This was slated to be the second single off of the album but Carmen himself released HIS version first, where it hit #11 on the charts. In 1980, Travolta's version was finally released but it did not chart. "John Travolta" captures Travolta in, what I can only assume, was his last few moments of, for lack of a better word, innocence. His voice is fine, though not as polished as it would be in "Grease" or "Hairspray." He even does a very passable version of the classic "It Had to Be You," which was a song his mother, Helen, used to perform in the 1930s as a member of the Sunshine Sisters.
Of course, 18 months later he was the biggest star in the world, which brings us to "Saturday Night Fever."



It started as an article in the New Yorker magazine written by rock and roll journalist Nik Cohn. "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night" told the story of a group of guys from Brooklyn who have the same life goals. According to Cohn, . . . The new generation takes few risks; it graduates, looks for a job, endures. And once a week, on Saturday night, it explodes . . .

This story caught the eye of producer Robert Stigwood, who had recently signed John Travolta to a three picture deal. He knew he had a surefire hit in the second film, the film adaption of the Broadway musical "Grease." But as he read the article he envisioned Travolta as the main character in the story. He also thought it would be a small film that would get Travolta used to Hollywood, meaning shooting "Grease" would be a breeze. Stigwood also managed the musical group the Bee Gees, and part of his directive was that the band would write the music for the film. Norman Wexler was given the job of adapting the story and turned in a brilliant script. Now a director was needed and the studio suggested John G. Alvidsen, who had just completed "Rocky." Stigwood saw "Rocky" and offered Alvidsen the job. But here is where things got weird. Alvidsen, though he claimed he loved the script, started to make changes. He even began to question whether there should be any dancing in the film at all. Stigwood tells the story of how he summoned Alvidsen to his office in January 1977. Right before the meeting began he was interrupted by a phone call, ending it with "I'll pass it on." He turned to Alvidsen and said, "I've got good news and I've got bad news. The good news is that you've just been nominated for an Oscar. The bad news is your fired!" Anyway, John Badham got the job and "Saturday Night Fever" became one of the seminal films of the 1970s. And a lot of the success of the film came from the music.

From the opening credits, featuring Travolta strutting down the street to the beat of "Stayin' Alive," the film is totally music driven. In the past I have often written critically of the Academy Awards and their complete disregard for the music of "Fever." Turns out I doth protest too much. According to Barry Gibb, every Bee Gee song on the album, had already been written long before the movie ever came along. Besides such older songs as "Jive Talking" and "You Should Be Dancing," the brothers Gibb contributed "Stayin' Alive," "How Deep Is Your Love," "More Than a Woman," "Night Fever" and also wrote "If I Can't Have You," which was a hit for Yvonne Elliman. Of these songs, "Stayin' Alive," How Deep Is Your Love," Night Fever" and "If I Can't Have You" hit #1 on the singles charts while the album stayed at number one for 6 months (from Jan 21 to July 7, 1978, finally taken down by Gerry Rafferty's "City to City"). The album went on to win the Grammy Award as Album of the Year and was, until "The Bodyguard," the top selling soundtrack of all time.

Among the songs that didn't make the album were two Rick Dee's novelty tunes ("Disco Duck" and "Dr. Disco) which appear in the film, as well as a musical piece by composer David Shire when the "gang" fight the Barracuda gang. Songs that WERE recorded for the film but not used include "Emotion" by Samantha Sang, the Bee Gees version of "If I Can't Have You" and two other Bee Gee Songs: "Warm Ride" and "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away," which later became the third top ten single off of little brother Andy Gibbs' album, "Shadow Dancing." One song that the producers wanted but didn't get was Boz Scagg's "Lowdown," which was to be featured during the scene where Tony and Stephanie dance together at the dance studio. However, without telling Scaggs, his representative, who had already made a deal for the song to be featured in another disco-themed film, turned the request down and never told Scaggs. The other film never materialized. The rejection cost Scaggs a boat load of royalties, considering the "Fever" album has sold in excess of 30 million copies. The story goes that Scaggs fired his rep when he found out.

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!



"Mike's Rant" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.