Saturday, November 12, 2005


From Richard Wheeler:

The Western Americana blog has a fine study of TV and radio Have Gun Will Travel...

Ed here: I checked it out. Richard's right. A fine piece about one of the best western series ever to appear in America.

From Jon Breen

Hi, Ed.  In yesterday's L.A. Times, they had an article about the coming changes in their op-ed page, which includes firing both Scheer and their very talented (and very conservative) political cartoonist Michael Ramirez.  Today's letters-to-the-editor was entirely devoted to reader reactions, almost all negative and the majority objecting to both firings.  Since Scheer and Ramirez were the most controversial and polarizing figures in the paper, the obvious effect is to make the op-ed blander.  They don't really give a reason, apart from there being a new publisher and a new op-ed editor and they thought it was time for a change.  The general opinion seems to be that the reasons were partly political but also cost-cutting.  The Times has been cutting back on its content for some time.  They have gone years without a first-string drama critic, though they recently hired one, and they intend to do without an editorial cartoonist.  Both Scheer and Ramirez are quoted as believing their politics were at least a factor.

All the best,


Ed here: It's scary. The newspaper chains, like the huge corporations that own most of the tv and radio stations, are still afraid of the Bushies. I can remember columnists being dumped back during the Nam days. But I can't remember any other open season on cartoonists. Things'll get even worse, I suspect, as newspapers lose more and more of their circulation to the net. Many big avertisers, especially local ones, exert a good deal of right-wing pressure on local media outlets. I suspect left-wingers would do the same but they aren't the movers and shakers.

Licensed to Rebrand

EVERY up brings a down. Every big brings a small. And as fans of James Bond say, every "Moonraker" brings a "For Your Eyes Only." Which is to say, Bond movies have a tendency to get bigger, more explosive, more outrageous, until someone on the inside says, "Hey, this isn't 007!" and the next movie is tougher, leaner.

After 1967's "You Only Live Twice," featuring a hollowed out volcano and the kidnapping of spacecraft, came 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," a taut espionage drama with a tragic ending. After the space station shoot-out of "Moonraker" (1979), the producers gave us the low-tech, vengeance-driven "For Your Eyes Only" (1981).

In 2002, we saw "Die Another Day," a film with an ice palace and an invisible car. Naturally, Bond producers are feeling the need to dial it down. To that end, they hired Daniel Craig, a lesser-known actor they hope will show the world an edgier 007.

In one sense, that's nothing new. The Bond movies have long shown a new attitude whenever there is a new star. Yet the decision to rebrand Bond has never been made lightly. When Sean Connery quit, Eon Productions pleaded with him to stay. But Mr. Connery was adamant, and in 1969 the first "new Bond," George Lazenby emerged. Mr. Lazenby, a very physical actor (he broke a stunt man's nose during his screen test), was given a very physical film, full of brawny, hyperactive fights.

Did the Bond filmmakers then decide a new star was the right way to reshape the franchise? Not on your life. They hired Sean Connery back for one more film at a hefty price (for 1971). But when Roger Moore took over, the tone of the series had to change. Mr. Connery was rough, feral and physical. Mr. Moore was tongue-in-cheek, gentlemanly and a bit of a lightweight.

The Bond creators responded to their new star's sense of humor, and the films acquired clown suits, slide whistles and animals doing double-takes. While some fans felt the comedy went too far, a generation grew up viewing 007 as a funny guy, and the producers clung to their successful star for dear life; so much so that Mr. Moore was still punching bad guys and romancing blondes at age 58.

Ed: this is a short article worth looking up in the New York Times. I'd never thought of movie franchises as branding before but I think she's on to something.


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