Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...
...Last Thursday's live NBC production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC -- which was actually "live" only for viewers in the Eastern time zone -- was a ratings smash. The show had 18.5 million viewers; the network also had its best ratings with younger viewers since ER ended its 15-season run in 2009. NBC's first live musical in over half a century received mixed reviews, with praise for Underwood's singing and for the overall look of the production, while Underwood's acting didn't fare so well with critics. It's expected more live musicals are in NBC's future, as effective programming in the age of Netflix and Roku. (Monday Update: Yes, NBC says they hope that a live musical will now be an annual event!)
...I was bemused by numerous bloggers and Tweeters who snarked about the audacity of the beloved film THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) being "remade." It's one of my three all-time favorite movies, but this SOUND OF MUSIC production was the equivalent of a theatrical revival, not a movie remake; the show is part of our American musical theater heritage, and it is all to the good that it continues to be performed year after year by new casts for new audiences. In my teen years I was in two different stage productions of it myself.
...That said, I was interested to learn that one of the songs from the original stage production, "An Ordinary Couple," was dropped in favor of the film's "Something Good." I intend to watch and review the production at some point, but since it wasn't live in California I didn't feel a sense of urgency to see it; I'd love to see NBC move further "outside the box" and show the next musical live coast to coast -- how about on a Sunday night? -- perhaps with a cast completely filled with Broadway pros such as Kristin Chenoweth or Idina Menzel. The DVD will be released by NBC on December 17th.
...For the serious classic film fan on your Christmas shopping list: A mug from the Criterion Collection with the classic Criterion logo...or perhaps a TCM tote bag?
...Holiday cheer: This video of Patrick Stewart's Captain Jean-Luc Picard "singing" "Let It Snow" -- or is it "Make It So"? -- quickly went viral. Fun stuff.
...And more holiday cheer: Don't miss the USAF Band's "Christmas flash mob" at the National Air and Space Museum. Beautiful music, and the acoustics were great.
Coming to DVD March 25, 2014: HILL STREET BLUES: THE COMPLETE SERIES. The only problems are the set's steep price and the fact that some of us bought the first two seasons when they were released a few years back.
...Greenbriar Picture Shows has an especially interesting post on the new CALL OF THE WILD (1935) Blu-ray, starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young. This is the first release of the complete version of the movie, which was directed by William Wellman. The previous DVD was an edited version, which is what most audiences have seen since the time of the film's initial release. Among other things, Katherine DeMille's part is restored to the movie.
...Here's a good-looking new cookbook, CALLIE'S BISCUITS AND SOUTHERN TRADITIONS by Carrie Morey.
...The latest Western reviewed at Riding the High Country is A DAY OF FURY (1956), starring Dale Robertson, Jock Mahoney, and Mara Corday.
...The latest films announced for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival are restorations of DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), and TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Will McKinley shares more details and background at Cinematically Insane.
...A new CD from TCM: Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO. Years ago I received Rhino's wonderful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at RKO as a gift, but it appears that particular set is no longer in print.
...Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was born December 9, 1909. Aurora offers a birthday tribute at Once Upon a Screen.
...Attention Southern Californians: The Miklos Laszlo play PARFUMERIE, which provided the inspiration for THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME, SHE LOVES ME, and YOU'VE GOT MAIL, is currently being performed at the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The cast includes Richard Schiff (THE WEST WING). Charles McNulty has reviewed the production for the Los Angeles Times.
originally set to be playing this month with Leslie Caron in the leading role was postponed to next spring. It will run from April 26th to May 25th, 2014; tickets go on sale February 28th.
...Notable Passings: Actress Sheila Mathews Allen, the widow of producer Irwin Allen, has passed on at the age of 84. In addition to appearing in her husband's productions, she had a recurring role as Miss Fanny, the telephone operator, in a few episodes of THE WALTONS...Jo Ann Savitt Douglas, who has died at age 70, was married to producer Joel Douglas. Savitt was the daughter of band leader Jan Savitt and the daughter-in-law of actor Kirk Douglas...The FAST AND FURIOUS team has put out a very nice tribute video to Paul Walker. And here's a neat story about Walker's random act of anonymous kindness toward an Iraq war veteran and his fiancee.
Have a great week!