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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remembering Don Pardo and Other Announcers of the Past

Before we kick off today's edition of the Tube Talk Thursday for this week, I have some condolences that I wish to leave in this entry.

How many of you are fans of "Saturday Night Live"?  I imagine some of you watch it every Saturday on NBC.  I know I used to watch it all the time when I was old enough to laugh at and understand all the jokes.  Hard to believe that the show will celebrate it's fortieth anniversary next year.

I found it even more unbelievable that one man was on the show's cast for thirty-eight of those forty years!  But yet, you might not remember him for any sketches.  He never really appeared on any.  I mean, yes, we all know of names forever linked to "Saturday Night Live".  Chevy Chase, Mike Myers, Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Dana Carvey, and the late Phil Hartman.  But this guy took on a more behind the scenes role.  You might not have known it, but you heard his voice on nearly every single episode of Saturday Night Live. 

And on Monday, August 18, 2014, he breathed his last breath.



Although longtime announcer Don Pardo has passed away, he did so at the ripe old age of 96.  And would you believe that his career in radio and television lasted a grand total of SEVENTY years?  I don't even think Regis Philbin has lasted that long yet!  But again, you probably wouldn't have known that because he liked to work on shows as the announcer.  And, of course, "Saturday Night Live" was his most well known work.  But I bet you didn't know that he began his career in 1938 as a radio announcer for Providence, Rhode Island station WJAR.  He was hired by NBC six years later, and spent the rest of his life working for the station in some form or another.

Would you believe that he also was an official announcer for a series of game shows before the game shows became popular?  It's absolutely true!  Don Pardo was one of the very first announcers for the game show "Jeopardy!"

(Well, the old version of the show.  Not the modern one that's been hosted by Alex Trebek the last three decades.)

He also served as an announcer for "The Price Is Right", "Jackpot", and even the NBC Nightly News! 

So, the death of Don Pardo got me thinking about a possible topic for today.  What about other television and game show announcers who made a career of working behind the scenes announcing all of those fabulous prizes that you could win by answering questions, solving puzzles, or deciding whether you'll take the deal or not?  We've had quite a few talented people who made a living on those shows off camera, and sadly many of those famous voices have since passed on. 

So, I suppose you could make this an "In Memoriam" of all the game show announcers we've lost over the years.

Let's begin by talking about one of my favourite announcers that I remember from my childhood.



ROD RODDY (1937-2003)

Okay, so anyone who watched "The Price Is Right" sometime in the 1990s knows who this guy is.  This Texas born announcer had a voice as loud as his brightly coloured suits.  Seriously, this guy could have given Don Cherry a run for his money in the style department.  But, regarding his wild style, he started wearing the wild colours on "The Price Is Right" merely by accident, and Bob Barker's encouragement helped him keep his bright fashion sense for good.  He even flew to Bangkok, Thailand to have his suits custom made.



So, naturally, because of his wild attire, he was dressing to get noticed.  Certainly he made more on-screen appearances than any other announcer that I can remember.  And those of you who were into game shows know that he appeared on several over his career.  Of course, the ones that he was most associated with were "Press Your Luck" (which he announced between 1983 and 1986), and "The Price Is Right" (which he announced between 1986 and 2003). 

Sadly, on September 11, 2001, Roddy was diagnosed with colon cancer, and despite battling the disease courageously for two whole years, Roddy lost his battle on October 27, 2003 - just one month after turning 66 years of age.



JOHNNY OLSON (1910-1985)

Interestingly enough, Rod Roddy secured the permanent announcer job on "The Price Is Right" for a couple of reasons.  One because "Press Your Luck" had not been renewed for the 1986-1987 season, and another because he had been hired to replace the previous announcer, who passed away on October 12, 1985 at the age of 75.

But here's the interesting thing about Johnny Olson.  Although his most well-known gig was announcer of "The Price Is Right" between 1972 to 1985, he had his hand announcing a grand total of THIRTY-TWO different game shows during his career!  That is mighty impressive.  Sadly, I don't really remember Olson that well.  I was only four when he died, and anything before 1986 is pretty hazy for me.  But anyone who was alive during the 1950s and 1960s would remember him very well as the voice behind "Name That Tune", "What's My Line", "To Tell The Truth", "Match Game", and selected episodes of "Supermarket Sweep" (the original, not the ones hosted by David Ruprecht or Tino Monte). 

One final footnote.  Several of Olson's final episodes of "The Price Is Right" were aired posthumously, as his death of a cerebral hemorrhage was so sudden.  His final episode aired November 8, 1985 - almost a month after his death.



GENE WOOD (1925-2004)

Of all the game show announcers on this list, I thought that Gene Wood had one of the coolest voices.  Here he is in action from a classic episode of "Family Feud" - the show that he is best known for.



Oh, but Mr. Wood did so much more, yes he did.  He served as the announcer for "Beat The Clock", "Card Sharks", "Tattletales", "Match Game-Hollywood Squares", "Classic Concentration", and "Win, Lose, or Draw".  Many of those shows I remember watching as a kid.  I particularly loved "Win, Lose, or Draw" myself. 

Anyway, Gene Wood's career lasted quite a long time - almost three and a half decades total.  After retiring from game show announcing in 1999, he passed away on May 21, 2004 at the age of 78.



CHARLIE O'DONNELL (1932-2010)

The last name on our list, this man's voice was almost as much of a staple on "Wheel of Fortune" as Pat Sajak and Vanna White.  For two separate stints, O'Donnell served as announcer for the program.  The first one lasted from 1975-1980, back in the days in which Chuck Woolery hosted the program.  He left for a few years to do other projects, and returned to the show at the tail end of the 1980s, remaining there until his death from heart failure on November 1, 2010 at the age of 78.

So, when he wasn't describing trips, cars, or those really wacky shopping spree segments during the 1980s where people would buy lamps for $500 and elephant statues for $1,111, he was working on other game shows.

You might have heard him as the announcer for such game shows as "Tic-Tac-Dough", "The Joker's Wild", and "The $100,000 Pyramid".

But here's an interesting fact as well.  Did you know he also served as the official announcer for many awards shows such as "The American Music Awards", "The Emmy Awards", and even "The Academy Awards"?  How about that?

Can you think of any other names to add to the list? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Matinee

Well, today is Wednesday, and normally I would be doing a WHO AM I WEDNESDAY entry in this space.  However, this week, we'll be taking a look at a movie instead, as my crazy schedule prevented me from doing a proper blog on a movie last Saturday.  I promise, my schedule will be back to normal next week.

Besides, sometimes it's good to switch it up every once in a while.



Okay, so if you have been keeping up with this blog for the last three weeks, you'll know that I'm in the middle of a 10-part movie series in which I review one of the movies featured in this 10-film compilation that I picked up at my workplace for five dollars.  I'm on film #4 this time around, and let's just say that from a critical standpoint, these films didn't do so hot at the box office, or they were completely trashed by film critics. 

So far, I've taken a look at "The Wizard", "A Simple Wish", and "Ghost Dad".  One I still love, one I'm indifferent on, and the last one I used to like twenty some years ago, but can't really stand now. 

I think it's time that I choose a film that was critically acclaimed, don't you?  How about a film that has a 93% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes?  How about a film that made nine million dollars at the box office?  How about a film that has not one but two films within the film?

Interestingly enough, the name of the film happens to be a term for a type of movie that you might go to in the middle of the afternoon.  In fact, its film title was a part of the old themed movie day that I used to have back when Mondays were the movie discussion day.

You remember?  It was called the Monday Matinee. 



Well, today, we're going to take a look at the 1993 film called "Matinee".  The film - released in January 1993 - stars John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Omri Katz, Kellie Martin, Lisa Jakub, Jesse Lee Soffer, and Simon Felton in a film that depicts going to the movies during the scary and uncertain times of the beginnings of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  The film was directed by Joe Dante (who also directed the two Gremlins films, "The 'Burbs", and "Small Soldiers"), and written by Jerico Stone and Charlie Haas.

What made "Matinee" different from the standard films released during the early 1990s was the film structure.  There was a main plotline, but inside the film, there were movies within the movie.  Two, to be exact.  One was "Mant!", and the other one was "The Shook-Up Shopping Cart". 

Now, I suppose that you're thinking that this structure might seem quite confusing, but it really did blend together beautifully.  The film is also separated into two separate parts, which I'm briefly going to summarize, as if I reveal too much about it, I'm going to be breaking my promise about never revealing a movie ending.

Okay, so as I mentioned, the film takes place in 1962, during the early phases of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and what many people declare was the catalyst behind the commencement of the Cold War, which lasted for nearly three decades.  If anyone was around during that time, they knew that nuclear weaponry was gaining in popularity, and they also knew the total devastation that nuclear weapons could have on the world.   



In Key West, Florida, a boy named Gene (Fenton) and his brother Dennis (Soffer) live on a military base.  Their father is out at sea, and they are completely bored out of their minds over what to do.

But then they hear word that Lawrence Woolsey (Goodman) will be in town exclusively to promote his latest picture - a thrilling horror show that depicts what might happen when atomic radiation turns a man into a half-man, half-ant.  It's a classic masterpiece known as "Mant!" (a brilliant spoof of those B-movies that you often would see on Mystery Science Theatre 3000).  And, naturally, Gene and Dennis want to go and see the film.  Unfortunately, with President Kennedy announcing on television that Soviet missiles have been located in Cuba, it puts the movie premiere in jeopardy, as concerned citizens don't feel that a movie that features atomic radiation is appropriate to air.

Naturally, this sets the stage for the main plot of the movie.  The quest to bring the movie to Key West despite all the protests and the fear that is being brought by the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Oh, and there's also the challenges of first love, the desire to try and find freedom and joy in a world gone mad, and of course, lots of popcorn, goobers, and bonbons.

Seriously, I can't really go into much more than that, but check this film out.  It's certainly a wonderful film, and it showed us all that John Goodman could play other roles than blue-collar worker Dan Conner from "Roseanne".

Now since I can't go into too much plot detail, I'll have to make up for it with trivia.  Ready to hear it?

1 - This film was one of the first American films that Naomi Watts appeared in.  Look for her in the shopping cart movie scene.

2 - Lisa Jakub would go on to make another successful movie in 1993 - "Mrs. Doubtfire".  She would play the eldest daughter of Sally Field and Robin Williams.

3 - Many of the actors who appeared in the fictional "Mant" film were actual actors from 1950's sci-fi movies.  These actors included Robert Cornthwaite, Kevin McCarthy, and William Schallert.

4 - The theatre that was used in the film was a real theatre.  Well, at least it was on the exterior.  The interior was built entirely on a soundstage in Universal Studios Florida.

5 - The seat gimmicks that were used in the movie were actually used by William Castle for screenings of 1959's "The Tingler".

6 - Three schools in Central Florida were combined together to depict Gene's high school in the movie.

7 - Jesse Lee Soffer became a huge star after this movie was released.  He went on to play the role of Will Munson on "As The World Turns", and is currently on the series "Chicago Fire".

8 - You might not be able to tell this because of the film, but Simon Fenton was born in the UK, and has appeared in the UK television series "Grange Hill" and "The Bill" after wrapping up "Matinee".

9 - Jerico Stone lost an arbitration on "Matinee" and received only a shared story credit.  He was so upset, he tried to replace his credit with a four letter word that began with "F".  His request was denied.

10 - John Goodman filmed this movie in between the fourth and fifth seasons of "Roseanne".


All right.  The curtain closes on another "Matinee".  We have another movie discussion coming up this Saturday, and we're going to be taking a look at a film that features a former "Friend"...and a monkey?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 19, 1963

Hello, everyone!  Today is August 19, and it happens to also be the day where we flip back through the fabric of time to look at another Tuesday Timeline entry.

I think I've got a pretty good topic lined up for this week, and I don't want to waste any time here.  Let's get on with this entry by getting down to the other business for today which includes the history happenings and celebrity natal days! 

All right.  So, what happened on this date in history?  Lots of things!

1561 - Mary, Queen of Scots - then eighteen years of age - returns to Scotland after spending thirteen years in France

1612 - Accused of practicing witchcraft in Britain, the "Samlesbury Witches" go on trial

1692 - The Salem Witch Trials take place, in which one woman and four men are executed after being accused of performing witchcraft

1768 - Saint Isaac's Cathedral is founded in St. Petersburg, Russia

1839 - The French government announces that Louis Daguerre's photographic process is a "free gift to the world"

1871 - Orville Wright, one of the Wright brothers (d. 1948) is born in Dayton, Ohio

1909 - The first automobile race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1914 - The Ottoman-Bulgaria Alliance is signed in Syria

1921 - Gene Roddenberry (d. 1991), creator of Star Trek, is born in El Paso, Texas

1930 - Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt (d. 2009) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1934 - Dayton, Ohio becomes the host city for the first official Soap Box Derby

1940 - The first flight of the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber

1942 - Dozens of Canadian troops are killed or captured during Operation Jubilee

1955 - 200 people are killed when severe flooding caused by Hurricane Diane takes place in the Northeast United States

1960 - The Korabi-Sputnik 2 satellite is launched into space by the Soviet Union

1977 - Actor Groucho Marx (b. 1890) passes away at age 86

1987 - Michael Ryan kills sixteen people with a semi-automatic rifle and then turns the gun on himself in the Hungerford Massacre

1989 - The British and Dutch governments raid pirate radio station Radio Caroline

1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest while on holiday in Ukraine

2005 - A series of strong storms in Southern Ontario spawns dozens of tornadoes and causes flash floods to occur within the city of Toronto

2010 - The official end of "Operation: Iraqi Freedom"

2012 - Director Tony Scott, aged 68, commits suicide by leaping off of a bridge in San Pedro, California

And, let's have a look and see who is celebrating a birthday today.  Blowing out candles today are...L.Q. Jones, Renee Richards, Bobby Richardson, Joe Frank, Diana Muldaur, Johnny Nash, Jill St. John, Buzz Kilman, Ian Gillan, Bill Clinton, Gerald McRaney, Tipper Gore, Jonathan Frakes, Peter Gallagher, Adam Arkin, Kevin Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, Lee Ann Womack, Matthew Perry, Clay Walker, Fat Joe, Sammi Cheng, Jaime Zubairi, Callum Blue, Tracie Thoms, Erika Christensen, Tammin Sursok, Christina Perri, and Travis Tedford.

And, just to let you know...today's Tuesday Timeline subject is also celebrating a birthday today.



Their date of birth and today's Timeline date?  August 19, 1963.

Now if you took a look at him now, you might be hard-pressed to believe that this man is turning fifty-one years old.  However, you have to also keep in mind that one of his first roles was well over thirty years ago on a daytime soap opera.  He's since appeared in a successful sitcom, was part of one of the most successful medical dramas of all time, and once substituted as a drummer for one of the most recognized bands of the 1960s.

Oh, and he sells Greek yogurt too.  But I suppose that makes sense, given that he comes from a Greek background.



Yes, today marks the fifty-first birthday of actor John Stamos, a man who has been in the entertainment industry for almost as long as I've been alive.  And, in celebration of John Stamos' life, I thought that I would provide fifty-one factoids about his life and times.  I've done this before with other celebrity spotlights, and it's a fun way to bring up some little known facts about celebrities that you may or may not have known.

So, let's get started, shall we?

1 - John Stamos was born in Cypress, California.

2 - His mother was raised in England and was a former swimsuit model.

3 - His family's original surname was "Stamatopoulos".  His paternal grandparents shortened it to Stamos when they immigrated to the United States from Greece.



4 - His very first role on television was on the soap opera "General Hospital", where he played aspiring rock singer Blackie Parrish.

5 - Stamos was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for his role in 1984 - the same year he left "General Hospital".

6 - He had a short-lived role on a sitcom called "You Again?", which starred Jack Klugman.



7 - When he was cast as Uncle Jesse on "Full House", his character's name was supposed to be Adam Cochran.  Before the pilot was filmed, Stamos convinced the producers to change the character's name to Jesse.  By the beginning of the second season, Jesse's last name was changed to Katsopolis to reflect his Greek heritage.

8 - Stamos is still really close with all of his "Full House" castmates.  He recently attended the wedding of "Full House" co-star, Dave Coulier a few months ago.



9 - Ever wonder why John Stamos and Lori Loughlin had such chemistry with each other?  It's because they once dated before "Full House" debuted!  The relationship didn't work out, but they remained good friends.



10 - John wore a wig in the last few episodes of season one.  He had cut his hair for a movie role.  The debut of season two was the first to show off his new look.

11 - John Stamos once guest-starred on "Friends" - a show that began filming in the old studio where "Full House" once filmed after the show was cancelled in 1995.



12 - He was cast as Dr. Tony Gates for the final three years of "ER".

13 - Prior to that, he starred in a couple of shows that didn't last one whole season - "Thieves" and "Jake in Progress".

14 - Stamos learned how to play the drums when he was four.

15 - Stamos even had his own band - Destiny.

16 - This could explain why Jesse's main storyline on "Full House" was making it big with his band "Jesse and the Rippers".



17 - Jesse and the Rippers reunited with each other on an episode of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon".  Lori Loughlin made a cameo appearance.



18 - In the spirit of reunions, Stamos reunited with former co-stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier for another skit on Jimmy Fallon...



19 - ...and in this commercial for Oikos Greek Yogurt.

20 - He has only been married once - to model Rebecca Romijn for nearly seven years.  The marriage ended in 2005.



21 - He made an appearance in the Beach Boys video for "Kokomo".

22 - Truth is that John Stamos has occasionally jammed with the Beach Boys for almost thirty years.

23 - This could explain why members of the Beach Boys periodically appeared in episodes of "Full House" between seasons two and five.



24 - Oh, and the song that Jesse sang for Becky at their "Full House" wedding?  It was a Beach Boys song!

25 - I wonder if John Stamos was also partly responsible for the time the show filmed in Walt Disney World?  He is a self-confessed Disney fan.



26 - John Stamos even has a lifetime pass to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

27 - And, Stamos even bought a Disneyland sign for over $30,000!



28 - He directed the video for Diamond Carter's song "Let Yourself be Loved".

29 - And, Stamos is also credited as a co-writer for the above song!

30 - He's also appeared in Broadway musicals "Cabaret", "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", and "Bye Bye Birdie".

31 - He was awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November 2009.

32 - In 1984, he won a Young Artists Award for his role on "General Hospital".

33 - He is six feet tall.

34 - He was originally considered for the role of Cyclops in the 2000 film, X-Men.  James Marsden would eventually get the role.



35 - He is a huge fan of Elvis Presley in real life.

36 - He has two younger sisters.

37 - His ancestry is predominantly Greek, but he is also part English and part Irish.

38 - He played the drums at the wedding reception of good friend Howard Stern.

39 - He worked as a spokesperson for long distance carrier 10-10-987 in 2003.

40 - His production company is called St. Amos Productions.

41 - His middle name is Phillip.

42 - He was chosen as one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive.

43 - He was once romantically linked to Paula Abdul while he starred on "Full House".

44 - While he worked on "General Hospital", he also held down a job at his father's restaurant!

45 - He is a regular poster on Twitter.

46 - According to an US Weekly article, he once played the bongo drums with Willie Nelson.

47 - He also claims to do Pilates three to four times per week.



48 - He and Bob Saget filmed a hilarious YouTube video demonstrating the joys of cuddling!

49 - However, in Bob Saget's memoir "Dirty Daddy", Saget reveals that he really did once share a bed with Stamos.  After having a few too much to drink, Stamos stayed with him to help him sober up.  Though Saget maintains that nothing happened between them.

50 - His last name is pronounced STAY-mohs.

51 - He is currently starring in the USA Network television series "Necessary Roughness".



And, there you have it.  Fifty-one facts for each and every year of John's life!  Happy 51st, John Stamos!

Monday, August 18, 2014

17 School Screw-Ups

Okay, for this edition of FUNNY MONDAY, we'll be going back to school.

Some places in the world begin school in August, while other schools don't open until September.  But one thing is for sure.  If you're at least between the ages of four and seventeen, you're likely preparing to go back to school where your days will be filled with sports events, school clubs, and cafeteria food.  I know.  Sounds like a dream come true, huh?

Of course, not all your school days were happy and carefree.  Unless you went to school in Beverly Hills, you were provided to do a whole lot of work to prove that you understood the material that your teachers were cramming into your heads.  This meant that you had to write a lot of essays, put together a lot of projects, do a lot of homework, and write a lot of midterms and final exams.

Believe me, I had my share of tests and exams and homework assignments over the years.  Most of the time I did very well...but there were a couple of tests that I remember bombing.  When I was little, I couldn't understand the concept of multiplying 2-digit numbers by 2-digit numbers.  I didn't know you had to add an extra zero to the second round of multiplying.  Only I could have 24 times 24 equaling 144. 

The answer, of course, is 576.  And, no...I didn't use a calculator either.  I eventually learned how to do it.

I also remember one instance in which I forgot to read a book for English class, and I had a pop quiz on it.  Needless to say, I ended up failing that quiz.  Fortunately, it was the only one I remember failing in high school.

Thing is that sometimes that happens.  Sometimes you don't know the answer.  But you also feel terrible for leaving the test paper blank, so often you make up an answer, hoping that it is correct, but usually ends up not.

Of course, this sometimes can lead to some unintentional (or intentional) moments of hilarity.

I scourged the Internet to find seventeen of the funniest test answers ever given by real students.  And, as always, I want to give credit to
Bored Panda, Caveman Circus, Smosh.com, Everything Funny, and Distractify for the photos displayed here.

So, let's get started!



I'm sure that this teacher didn't quite realize just how ambiguous this question could be, but kudos to this kid for stating the simplest, yet most obvious answer.



Okay.  I have a confession to make.  Algebra is NOT my subject at all.  If I was forced to find "X", I'd attempt to go the easy way out too.



Okay, to be fair, this little kid probably didn't know how to spell the word "duck", so he or she tried to use different combinations of letters until they found one that worked.  This is the unfortunate result.  It kind of reminds me of the one time I was on a discussion forum where this user was trying to tell us all about the rubber duck party she threw for a three year old.

Yeah, whoever decided to put the d and f keys next to each other on a standard QWERTY keyboard had a sick sense of humour...



To be fair, this quiz was probably written in 1991, when "Emotions" was first released...



I think that this student should have gotten partial credit for thinking outside the...microscope.



Warren is a little bit pessimistic.  After all, more and more people are reaching 100 years of age or more.



Hey!  How did the get that high school survey that I wrote back in 1997? 



Well...I suppose if you've ever tried sweetbreads and liked them, this would be a factual statement.



Clearly, this test was written by someone who will likely never ever get a date with another woman again...



Test-taking lesson #283.  Never, ever listen to Top 40 radio before you take a test on the solar system.



Sadly, I know many people like Frankie in this world.  And sadly, they seem to have a better quality of life than I do.  No, I'm not bitter.  Thanks for asking.



Well, I mean, technically "ice" is about as hard as you can get water.  S/He's not wrong.



So, what the teacher is saying is that Judy failed Lesson #3?



This teacher can only be summarized with just one word.  AWESOME!



They do say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And, judging by the teacher's reaction, this picture might be worth a thousand days in detention.



This student would have gotten extra credit had they detailed a plan for what Lincoln should have done that fateful day in April 1865.



Again, straight and to the point.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Have To Believe We Are Magic...

Welcome to another "magical" edition of the Sunday Jukebox!  I hope you're having a great weekend so far! 

Now, I suppose you're probably wondering why I've put the word "magical" in quotation marks.  Well, there is a very good reason for that.  You see, today's song happens to be magic themed.

And, no, before you begin guessing, the song for today is not Steve Miller's "Abracadabra", Candi's "Under Your Spell", or the Hocus Pocus Alamagocus song from "Today's Special".  But it does have a little bit of magic, a little bit of beauty, and is synonymous with one of the biggest box office bombs of the 1980s.

(Hey...I postponed the scheduled movie post this week by four days.  I figure that people won't mind too much if I inserted a movie reference in this piece for today.)

So, what should I do first?  Should I post the music video and talk about the song first, or should I talk about the movie which will end off with the song?

Ah, screw it.  Let's post the song first.  It'll provide some mood music as you read on.

Unlike the film that this song's soundtrack comes from, this single managed to top the charts exactly thirty-four years ago this week.  Let's have a listen.



ARTIST: Olivia Newton-John
SONG:  Magic
ALBUM:  Xanadu
DATE RELEASED:  May 23, 1980
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS:  #1 for 4 weeks



Okay, so this song might not be the most successful song that Olivia Newton-John has ever released (her 1981 single "Physical" lasted twice as long at the top of the charts).  But you know, "Magic" is one of those songs that instantly puts you in a good mood whenever you listen to it.  At least, that was the case for me.

Listeners seemed to agree with me at the time.  This single hit #1 in the United States and Canada, reached #4 in Australia (the country in which Olivia Newton-John grew up in), and #32 in the UK (the place where Newton-John was born).  It was considered the third most successful single of 1980 right behind Blondie's "Call Me" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II". 

And I can see why the song would touch a lot of people.  The lyrics can be interpreted as a love song between woman and man (or man and man, or woman and woman, or whatever coupling you can imagine).  Just listen to the lyrics really closely.  Aren't they absolutely beautiful?  I can only imagine dozens of thousands of lovers dancing together to this song - a song that promotes caring, tenderness, devotion, and pure joy that comes from loving someone so deeply.

May all of us be able to find that love with someone. 

But here's the interesting thing about this song.  The song was incredibly successful.  The movie was not.



And just before I go into the facts, I just want to make one admission.  When it comes to the movie "Xanadu", I don't actually hate the movie.  It's definitely not my all-time favourite movie, but I don't think it was as terrible as people made out to be.



In all honesty, "Xanadu" is probably one of those movies that makes the list of many moviegoers "favourite cult classics".

That said, it's hard not to deny the fact that the film was brutally raked over the coals when it was first released on August 8, 1980.  Initially designed as a roller-disco themed film, producers Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver, and director Robert Greenwald transformed the twenty-two million dollar budget film into a story of love, fantasy, and...well...magic!  And it ALMOST broke even, making twenty million at the box office.

That's not to say that the cast of the film didn't try to pull it off.  With Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck, and the legendary Gene Kelly on the payroll, it certainly did have star power.  And the plot, which sees a record album cover designer embarking on a quest to find his muse, and falling in love with a woman who is quite literally out of this world, did seem very interesting and was unlike any other plot that was featured in a film.

But for whatever reason, this film was not greatly received.  In fact, it was this film that inspired the creation of the "Golden Raspberry Awards" - the awards ceremony farce that awarded the absolute worst in film.  It's quite the contrast to the Academy Awards, which celebrate the cream of the crop.

Fortunately, while "Xanadu" was nominated for Worst Picture at the inaugural Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony, it lost to "Can't Stop The Music".  Or, I guess I could say, it won against it?  Depends on your perspective, I guess.

Anyway, since this is the thirty-fourth anniversary of the release of "Xanadu" and the thirty-fourth anniversary of the song hitting the top of the charts, I thought that I would share some trivia about the movie in which "Magic" comes from.  Why not, right?

1 - Since the movie heavily features roller skating, Olympic skater Peggy Fleming helped choreograph some of the skating scenes.

2 - This was the final feature film appearance for Gene Kelly.

3 - Interestingly enough, Olivia Newton-John turned down a role in "Can't Stop The Music" to take the leading lady role in "Xanadu".

4 - John Travolta turned down the role of Sonny - the part eventually went to Michael Beck.

5 - Andy Gibb was also considered for the role of Sonny.

6 - Olivia Newton-John fractured her coccyx while filming the "Suddenly" dance sequence.

7 - Olivia would meet her future husband, Matt Lattanzi, on the set of this film.  They stayed married for eleven years and had a child together, Chloe Lattanzi, before getting divorced.

8 - The script was supposedly written as the movie was filmed.

9 - The Pan Pacific Auditorium was used for the exterior shots of the Xanadu Club.  It was destroyed by fire in 1989.

10 - While the film bombed, the soundtrack of "Xanadu" was extremely popular, peaking at #2 on the Billboard 200.

And, here's one final interesting fact about "Magic", the song that helped make the "Xanadu" soundtrack such a huge success.  In 2011, Australian DJ's Dan Murphy and Steve Peach created an updated modern dance mix of the classic 1980 hit.  Olivia Newton-John recorded all new vocals for the remix, and was sponsored by humanitarian group WACCI.  All proceeds raised from the single were donated to Olivia's charity, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, and the music video attempted to break a world record by casting 350 extras in the video.

Here's the finished product of the remix to conclude this magical Sunday Jukebox entry.