Monday, March 31, 2014


In theme with my previous posting (zap back) here is a piece in today's Globe and Mail on the "unpaid interns" debate... specifically in magazine publishing.

The unpaid internship: Doorway to employment or unfair exploitation?

As intro'd in the above linked story, last week the Ontario Ministry of Labour ruled that unpaid internships, as practiced by Toronto Life and The Walrus magazines, constitute a violation of provincial labour laws which forbid full-time work without pay. (Excellent.)

The two debaters in the Globe story are recent journalistic interns: Kaleigh Rogers and Andrew Lovesey.

Okay, enough for now; I have to get back to work here at home....


You see, I'm looking for a regular job. A good friend of mine is looking for a regular job (here). Here in Toronto are many, many openings for unpaid internships in the film and television fields. We both realize, having worked for years in Toronto's so-called film & tv biz, that it's barely short of a blatant scam; my buddy and I laugh when we see job adverts for intern positions stating "make contacts in the business!"

That's the film and television field; unfortunately, the malady of unpaid internship openings is far and wide. It's also a major concern in the U.K., as evidenced by the wave of recent similarly-themed articles in its press.

Hey, guys! Save your efforts when posting those job openings: "We need Free Labour, today!"

Columnist Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star...

Unpaid interns are this generation's slaves: Mallick
The Ontario government crackdown on unpaid internships is long overdue

Sunday, March 30, 2014


While doing my lunch dishes a few minutes ago I popped on the local (Toronto) news: The World's Biggest Bookstore is in its last day of existence; there is a massive sale... 50 to 75 percent off of all surviving books, and there are still books on the shelves. I really should make a trip down there -- not that I don't have enough books already, some of which I still have to scrutinize....


Actor/comedian Dave Madden died some weeks ago and your opinionated narrator had every intention to post a personal perspective on the man. ("I will... in a minute. I told you I'll clean up my room.")

Sorry for the delay. January 16th was over two months ago.

The actor best known for playing the role of Reuben Kincaid on the 1970s television program The Partridge Family, was born in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, but like many Canadians and "Canadian-born" folk, eventually ended up on U.S. television screens.

Last year I went through some bits and pieces of the old skit TV series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and during a bounce-around segment, typical of the show, whammo!: "Hey, it's Dave Madden!" There was that sombre hard-done-by persona which he rendered so well in The Partridge Family.

Apparently he was a genuinely nice man: During production of Partridge Family, Madden sometimes took-in Danny Bonaduce under his wing when things were tough at home for the young actor.

Before The Partridge Family and Laugh-In, was Camp Runamuck. I first heard of that series years ago when a coworker told me about a favourite show from his childhood. Dave Madden was one of the leads in that short-lived half-hour comedy (1965-1966).

I had forgotten that he was "Earl Hicks" in the truly terrible sitcom, Alice, which ran from 1976 to 1985. (It ran for how long?) Back in 1991, the CBC re-ran the series and it was then that I actually watched a few episodes at random. I think the current expression would be: O... M... G....

Having said that, I would not be surprised if some fans of Alice were to say that the character of Earl Hicks was one of the reasons to watch.

After looking over the actor's list of credits, which I had to do since I stopped being a regular "tv watcher" in my mid-late teens, I became aware that Dave Madden was a busy actor, guest starring in many television programs throughout his long career.

Note: Madden died on the same day as actor Russell Johnson (whom I posted about here).


Saturday, March 29, 2014


Hollywood scriptwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr has died at the age of 91. He wrote a few of my favourite things: For the 60s television series, the wonderful Batman; and the feature films Papillon (an absolute fave with all its emotional notes) 1973, and King Kong of 1976 (which I treated Mr Semple's involvement, here).

It's always sad to hear when someone of note, or anyone, for that matter, passes on but when a person such as Lorenzo Semple lives a nice long life, plus survives that beastly town (hint: L.A.), that is impressive.

The show bible..
Creator of TV’s ‘Batman’ Lorenzo Semple Jr. Dies at 91

Friday, March 28, 2014


A good friend of mine emailed me this evening to give me the crappy news that he lost his job today. Attached to his email was a link to Youtube and specifically to Elmer Bernstein's terrific and classic theme to the 1963 WW2 epic, The Great Escape. We must soldier on, pushing forward.

Somewhere in my archives I have the LP original soundtrack recording of this score. I should pull out the record and play it as I undertake my morning ablutions. Maybe it'll get me out the door, quicker...

Thursday, March 27, 2014


The wonderful CBC "Digital Archives" presents: "Slackers"

From nineteen years ago (December 6th, 1994) this four-minute program from CBC Alberta News profiles two twenty-something men and their polar opposite lifestyles. One, Mark, is the prototypical "slacker"; spending a lot of time in coffee shops, reading, smoking, oh, and drinking lots of coffee, while doing some off-topic thinking such as which friend's couch he'll have to float to for the next night in the chain of existence. The other guy featured in the story is Brian. He likes to rise early, work out with weights, shower, get dressed and go to his job with a collections agency. Brian plans to keep achieving.

(It would be interesting to find out where these two young men are today.)

Non-slacker Brian is asked by reporter Catherine Legge where he is financially: About 65 grand this year, 1994.

Mark is asked the same question: Just watch....

Trivia: While the laptop computer certainly did exist in 1994, there was a curious lack of them in coffee shops back then.

Monday, March 24, 2014


"Me?!... I thought you were gonna stop it!"

In his column in today's Toronto Star, sports writer Damien Cox opines that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a club building to possible greatness: "... the objective here is to try to build a true contender."

Maybe I'm a lot older than is he; I've been hearing this same spiel for four full decades. Why is this funny to me? Because the "Buds" have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967 (that is not a typo). They have come sorta close (read: within range) but a couple of times since Canada's great year of confederation. Two close-ups in 47 years ain't bad, actually.

He goes on to say: "Enjoyable as it may be for those who live to see the Leafs fail."

I see his point, but many of us, me included, would rewrite the above as: "Enjoyable as it may be for those who love to see the Leafs fail."

Damien Cox of the Toronto Star...

Maple Leafs' five-game slide doesn't change the big picture: Cox
Though fans are understandably upset, this season’s mediocrity is part of the bigger plan to build a true contender.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


How could this Trekker forget about my main spaceman's birthday? I was made aware this morning when a birthday listing caught my eye: William Shatner turned 83 'today'; yesterday, March 22nd. It was on that day in 1931 that The Transformable Man was born in the Côte Saint-Luc neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

What impresses me about Shatner is that he has been able to shake the "coolest white man on the planet" James T. Kirk identity. But, and certainly I'm not the first person to say this, he was superb as the captain of Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Australian composer Dudley Simpson wrote some smashing themes for British SF telly: The Tomorrow People (which I've blogged about before), and, of course, Blake's 7.

As released on 7" vinyl record...

Blake's 7 Full Theme - Dudley Simpson Orchestra

And here is the music as recorded and mixed for the opening titles to Blake's 7...

Blake's 7 opening titles

The composer is still alive at 91 years of age; and back living in his native Australia...

Thursday, March 20, 2014


With more of that typical British irreverence I spoke of earlier today (transport) is a short video done by the BBC several years ago on Blake's 7. This is part of a greater whole; an hour-long show hosted by actor Tom Baker on the top ten SF television programs. I can't remember what 'number' this one came in at. The only one I can remember is Space: 1999 listing at number ten.

One of the interview subjects here, along with series actors Gareth Thomas and Paul Darrow, and various journalists and fans, is "Servalan" portrayer Jacqueline Pearce. At one point she says "guys would come up to me on the street and say 'gosh you really had an amazing influence on my life at a very crucial time'". Pearce would then ask them, "Did it work?" The first thing I thought of after hearing that cute bit of trivia was that in those pre-VCR days those young men must have had to have worked very fast.

Six minutes and forty seconds of looking at Blake's 7 (1978-1981)...


In the last two days I have posted a couple of bits on the old BBC1 science-fiction television series Blake's 7...



Here's something I discovered recently but had forgotten to address...

Blake's 7 returns to TV screens
Cult BBC sci-fi series Blake's 7, dubbed 'The Dirty Dozen in space', is being re-made by Syfy Channel.

While Martin Chilton, Culture Editor (online) for The Telegraph, does a fine job of giving a little makeup and history on Blake's 7, the second paragraph in, where he embeds a quote from the new producers,  'worries' me...

'A 13-part series, described as a "revolutionary reinvention" of the original, is being developed by FremantleMedia International and US cable network Syfy...'

"Revolutionary reinvention"? That is bold. Most shows are crap, and a crap-shoot at best, so to state arrogantly something as being revolutionary is plain nuts. And a bad omen.

"I have a bad feeling about this."

A smart fan today knows to not bother holding his breath.

Siffy?! Oh, no....


The British like to shit on their own television programming, certainly any show which tries to do Big American SF television with "BBC budgets". (The new Doctor Who suffers much, much less greatly because it has access to the latest wonderful digital visual effects technologies. And a free orchestra.)

Which brings me to this fine BBC4 half-hour television documentary, The Cult of... Blake's 7. (The Smight Ellipses are applied to the title because there were a few other tributes in the look-back series: ... Survivors; ... Doomwatch, are two.) The Brits love to play down the seriousness of their own dramatic science-fiction television programs by slipping in key phrases like "looks like crap", and "typical British cheapness". I've seen a few docs of this type and it's amazing how negativity pervades the material, especially through the narrator and his/her scripting. It's not all downer; there is no denying the covered series' attributes and cult appeal, and production people, critcs, and actors do spread praise, but these little overviews are not for the type of fan who takes the object of their basement affections with the utmost seriousness. (Do British basements have 'simulated wood' wall-panelling? That would give them even more kinship with their North American brothers.)

Nothing changes the fact that some of us think that Blake's 7 is, by any weight and distance of measure, a standout television series -- even if it was produced way back in the years of 1977-1981. I hardly consider myself a fanatic -- I have only really seen the first series -- but my own negativity with the typical SF television series, especially the ones generated in the last few years (hello Firefly and Battlestar Galactica; and all your annoying little brothers and sisters), only makes me appreciate the standouts from the past even more.

I am more than casually interested in special visual effects. But, and it's a big one: I don't give a rat's arse about special visual effects; if you get my drift. Ha, ha. Yeah, we get it. You can do anything your geeky heart desires, now. Tell me a genuinely interesting story; not boring crap featuring two-dimensional space characters sliding down arcs of turgid yakking. Pass me the Bromo-Fucking-Seltzer.

(Sorry, I've been drinking the wrong brand of coffee.)

Note: I've decided to go on a bit of a Blake's 7 stream with this blog after seeing the amount of hits that my posting on actor Paul Darrow has gotten. That piece is here: "Put me down."

Yeah, we'll put you down all right...

The Cult of... Blake's 7

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


"Look right? Is that this way or that way?...."

Live, from the Toronto Sun website...

Sarah Palin to launch Rogue TV

Fans of Sarah Palin will be overjoyed with the news that the uber-intellect and former governor of Alaska (don't ask) is about to launch her own TV channel: Rogue TV

The service will be available for the low cost of $10 a month; once bitten fans can witness Ms. Palin's unique views on politics and current events.

You have been warned.

Rumour has it that programming will be simple on 'The Rogue': Test Pattern; Sarah Palin; Colour Bars, sorry, Color Bars; Sarah Palin; Test Pattern; and on. (The station's owners are already worried that the audience could complain that one show will be indistinguishable from another; that it will be difficult to tell where one ends and another starts....)

April or May!


There are some secrets we keep, even from our appreciated readers: I am a fan of the old British science fiction television series Blake's 7, which ran from 1978 to 1981 on BBC1.

In the fall of 1990 television station WNED (the PBS affiliate in Buffalo, NY) started running the program on Sunday mornings. Although I watched a few episodes I never really bit into it being, as Blake's 7 creator Terry Nation described it, a "dirty dozen in space". I first heard of the show back in 1978 when reading an issue of Fantastic Films magazine (remember that?) which printed a full episode guide in addition to a series overview.

A few years ago I watched several episodes from the first "series" (as the Brits term a show's season) and slowly, but fastly, I became enamoured with Blake's 7. About a year ago I delved briefly into the second series but stopped for no particular reason other than the usual distractions in life; but I have just now decided to dig in when some free time comes up.

What made me make an effort to revisit the show is when I stumbled upon a couple of Youtube videos: They are from San Jose station KTEH and were recorded back in 1987, when they were running Blake's. The one I'm posting here is a studio interview -- in two parts -- with actor Paul Darrow, who played the show's most fascinating and engaging character, Avon. (The other is of creator Terry Nation, whom I will post about very soon.)

This engrossing half-hour program (25 minutes) is relatively 'recent' in that it was done just six years after Blake's wrapped up its storyline.

The man is a charmer, just like the character he portrayed on Blake's 7 a few years earlier. One can see how Darrow channeled some of his own personality into Avon. Just watch; if you are familiar with the standout series you will see what I mean. Enjoy!...

Paul Darrow Blake's 7 Interview (KTEH) Part 1

Paul Darrow Blake's 7 Interview (KTEH) Part 2

Sunday, March 16, 2014


This evening I watched one of the finest films that I've seen in the past few years.

Night Tide, directed by Curtis Harrington and starring Dennis Hopper, was shot in 1960 and distributed the next year through Roger Corman's Film Group organization.

That's all that I can say right now since I will have to sleep on the film and decide in the morning how I can best articulate my reaction to Night Tide. In broad terms, the flick, not atypical of the director's body of work, plays as a floating sort of dream. Make no mistake, however; there are some shocks and chills. (Sweet dreams, sailor.)

Final note, for now: As is the case for many movie-fans of my generation, I'm sure, I was introduced to Curtis Harrington through the spooky 1966 matinee classic, Queen of Blood. In that case, he was a director-for-hire. Night Tide was a much more personal work.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Actor Kevin Spacey has more class than do Toronto politicians Rob and Doug Ford as a team. He also has a sense of humour, as indicated by his tweet.

I'm surprised, in a way, that the super actor even bothered to respond to the rant directed at him from Douglas Mc... (ha!)... Ford in regards to brother Robert's embarrassing appearance on a recent installment of Jimmy Kimmel Live. (I checked out the clip online: Kimmel made Toronto's mayor look like a bumbling fool. The late-night host actually produced a fine interview, with some good questions. I'm not a fan of those shows, I don't even watch them, never have, so I was surprised that Kimmel didn't let his guest off the hook. This was not a case of a typical feel-good-all-over talk show.)

Spacey's tweet, containing the above pic, read: “When did Mayor Ford start doing what people tell him to do? All you had to do was ask, guys. Here’s your pic.”

Toronto Star...

Kevin Spacey tweets photo in response to Doug Ford attack
The House of Cards actor responded with a tweet containing a photoshopped image of Spacey and the Ford brothers.

Friday, March 14, 2014


"Hey, I meant eh, eh?"

"Pierre Karl Peladeau surprised us by running under the Parti Quebecois banner, but it won't change Sun News."

So claims Sun Media's electronic puppet station Sun News Network.

Former Quebecor chairman and blowhard Monsieur Péladeau has decided to run for the sun with the misanthropic and racist Parti Quebecois. He will run in the riding of Saint-Jerome, which is north of Montreal.

Péladeau was the CEO of Quebecor, owner of QMI Agency, Sun Media newspapers, and, of course, the Sun News Network.

This from Pierre Péladeau: "I am a sovereigntist."

My first reaction was: "Good for you, sir. Good for you."

My second reaction was: "Wait a minute! Anyone who does not buy into the endless propaganda put forth by media companies such as the Toronto Sun and Sun News network is accused of being not a real Canadian, but a "commie!"; those who do not say "Canada First", are against us. Well, isn't the Parti Quebecois 'against us'?"


"Mice?... Cats of my stature have no need for mice, Good Sir."

Before he died, former British Prime Minister and First Sea Lord, Winston Churchill, set an edict; one to be carried out in perpetuity after he left this world. From the Toronto Star...

Jock the cat moves into Winston Churchill’s country estate
Late British leader requested that there always be an orange-coloured cat living at Chartwell, his country home.

The great Churchill was specific about what the furry feline should look like: the cat should have white chest fur, white paws, and be named "Jock".

Jock the 6th, or "Jock of Orange", has taken up residence at Chartwell. Those who know the man describe him as a "caring, loving" sort. Sounds like a cat....


This is not an optical trick. The NHL ice surface is very narrow.

In today's Toronto Star, sports columnist Dave Feschuk writes on an issue dear to my heart...

Bigger ice in NHL arenas? It’s a conversation worth having: Feschuk
While the NHL’s unlikely to ever move to international size ice surfaces, there is an appetite for some amendments to the current standard.

His piece opens up with...

"Sometimes it seems like an unstoppable NHL cycle. As players get bigger and faster, time and space shrinks."

While I agree with the writer, I don't think this is a recent 'thing'. Even as a kid when I was watching National Hockey League action, back when NHL players were relatively "bigger and faster" than their previous generation, I was often frustrated by the sheer lack of ice surface; then and now, the standard being 200' x 85'.

My blog on the issue from April 28th, 2008...

I opened up with...

"Getting back into watching the odd period of NHL ice hockey reminds me that the league must increase the ice surface size... These have been the dimensions for years, which only reminds me that I was saying the same thing in the early 1970s!"

Brian Burke, former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and now in that capacity with the Calgary Flames, has it right when he states, as recounted by writer Feschuk, that he would like to see 90- to 92-foot-wide rinks.

The same dimensions I mentioned in my earlier blog posting...

"I'm not suggesting the playing area should be increased to Olympic or International specifications (200' x 98.5') but I think an extra five to seven feet in the width measurement is essential."

Toronto Maple Leaf forward James van Riemsdyk says he likes the 90-foot-breadth used in the arena at Boston University. The man speaks some sense. He is not alone. But as much as there are people in the National Hockey League who would like to see a change to the larger ice surface, many of them doubt that the league will change: "Owners" do not want to lose the strip of premium-priced seats lining the boards.

The NHL has to grow (up). It's living in the dark ages.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


A frame capture from The Outer Limits episode "The Probe"

In today's Washington Post is a piece, by Joel Achenbach, on the terrible story of missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370...

Lost: The mysterious, baffling disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

A few paragraphs into the article says this...

"But so far, all the technological eyes and ears of the world have failed to find the miss
ing plane. The Boeing 777 jetliner, with 239 people aboard, silently vanished early Saturday morning on its way to China, disappearing from radar so suddenly and inexplicably that it might as well have flown into another dimension."

This reminds me of two classic television series', The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. In Zone a Boeing 707 disappears to another... zone; and in The Outer Limits (my fave of the two shows) episode "The Probe" a small passenger plane carrying six people flies into a storm and ends up in a strange place.

No doubt Malaysia Airline Flight MH370 will be found, but at a time like this, with all its great unsolved mystery, it's easy to imagine, especially when you are really tired, that something unconventional happened.

The Twilight Zone - "The Odyssey of Flight 33"

The Outer Limits - "The Probe"

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Paramount Pictures music scoring Stage M.

In the last week a couple of posts I'd done on film and television composer Fred Steiner each had a pile of hits. They are...



This recent activity reminded and encouraged me to post something I've been meaning to do for a while now.

A few years ago Paramount Pictures closed one of their music scoring stages... Stage M. This particular hall of film music recording went way back, to the early 1930's, with upgrades and remodellings over the years, of course. Elmer Bernstein recorded his music for the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic The Ten Commandments in this studio, for example.

I first became aware of Stage M when I read an interview a few years ago with Mr. Steiner in regards to his music for the original Star Trek series. He mentioned that scores for that show's second and third season episodes were recorded there after Paramount Pictures owner Gulf + Western acquired Desilu Studios, the maker of Star Trek. (The series in effect 'moved' to the Paramount lot -- actually, since Desilu and Paramount were neighbours all that needed doing on a physical level was to remove the fence separating the two studio lots. Trek used Desilu shooting stages 9 and 10 [originally RKO stages], and since Paramount already had two studios with those numbers, "9" and "10" were eventually renumbered "31" and "32" in order to avoid duplication.) Fred Steiner explained that Star Trek's first season scores were typically recorded at Desilu's music scoring stage F.

The joke is that almost all the subsequent Trek feature films and television series' utilized Stage M for music recording; with the exception of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Composer Jerry Goldsmith wanted to use the grand pipe organ found at 20th Century Fox's music recording stage 1, so that pic's music was done at the competing film studio's facility. (That particular Fox music recording stage is now called "The Newman Stage", named after composer Alfred Newman.)

Fred Steiner and his fellow (original) Star Trek composers recorded music scoring magic within Stage M's four walls... and those of Desilu's Stage F. (Last year a friend of mine, while I was visiting him, played some tracks from the original series for my benefit. What struck me was how well performed and engineered the music recordings were. Exhilarating and powerful stuff.)

Friday, March 7, 2014


In March of 1987, I was busy wrapping-up a year as part of my 'post secondary education', which may be why I missed the release of director Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon.

Last night I sat down with a friend's DVD (all four Lethal Weapon flicks in one set... that's what I call "lethal") and ended up enjoying the movie. While I don't profess to be an authority on the "cop buddy picture", I am aware that this territory was more virgin territory back when it was produced; the paint-by-numbers malady had not taken over, infecting so many movies of a similar intent. (Viewing from today's perspective, I almost always sensed what would happen next in Lethal Weapon. The fight at the end was ridiculous. When Gibson and Busey agreed to settle scores with a martial arts display, I burst into almost hysterical laughter, which converted into rolling giggles. I knew that Busey would try and get a gun, and that Mel and/or Danny would convert Busey into a mess of flesh and blood.)

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson were very good together. Mel was outstanding as a "tenuous" character. As a matter of fact, about twenty minutes into my private screening it occurred to me that he was channeling Dustin Hoffman, or seemed to be... which is not a bad thing at all. One could picture Hoffman playing this role if Gibson were to pass.

I won't bother with episodes II to IV. For some reason I sense familiarity....

Thursday, March 6, 2014


A few weeks ago I was walking along Eglinton Avenue East, here in Toronto, when I noticed some construction going on where the Odeon York cinema used to stand. Being a big movie house, one with two screens, the "York" was often a 70mm venue, and in it I saw fare such as Jurassic Park, and the re-releases of Spartacus and Lawrence of Arabia. When it was due to be closed, I, like many movie-goers, was surprised since I had always considered the York an important movie theatre... like the "Uptown" (Cocoon, Poltergeist 2, Total Recall, Wayne's World, Blade Runner, Alive), and the "University" (The Black Hole, Aliens, 2010, The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, Explorers). Part of 'movie memories' is where you saw a particular film; rare is it that I cannot recall where it was that I first saw such-and-such.

Toronto, like many cities and towns around the globe, is losing its unique movie theatres. Josh O'Kane, in the Globe and Mail, reports on movie theatres in eastern Canada biting the dust...

From movie palace to parking lot

Blogger Derek Flack posts some cool pics of Toronto's lost movie theatres...

Wikipedia entry listing cinemas in Toronto...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


As much as I like film composer John Williams (well, more so when he was "Johnny" Williams) I think the decision to have him score the next Star Wars film is a poor one.

J.J. Abrams, the Mindless, is slated to direct Star Wars 7, so it would seem that there will be a thoughtless abundance of space battles, blowed-up-real-good explosions, and mundane lightsaber duels. Hiring a composer who isn't exactly known for pushing the envelope will coat these visuals with the expected notes -- nothing more.

A friend of mine said that he would like to see a director like Walter Hill helm the next Star Wars movie. If composer Jerry Fielding were still alive, I would add him to the mix. At least something interesting might happen with that fanciful teaming.

Maybe Star Wars is now really about expectation -- nothing more.

Old news, I know; from Rolling Stone...

New 'Star Wars' Films to Feature John Williams Scores
Oscar-winning composer will return to sci-fi franchise