Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

“Hollywood South”

February 3, 2015

Hollywood is still considered the movie capital of the world, but it’s getting a lot of competition from Georgia now.  Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, told Columbus Rotarians that Georgia came it third last year in the number of productions filmed in America.

There are a  number of sound stages operating in Atlanta now, and a lot of movies are being shot on locations all over the state.  It’s become a billion-dollar industry in the state. More than 700 films of different types have been made in Georgia since 1972. Westville has been the location for a number of films, including one just recently released, The Homesman,  directed and starring Tommy Lee Jones, and featuring Hillary Swank, and Meryl Streep. And some major ones were made before then.  Parts of Gone With The Wind were shot in Georgia in 1939.  A number of movies have been made at Fort Benning, including the Green Berets with John Wayne.

Why are so  many being made in Georgia now?  Impressive tax breaks, and many suitable locations for shooting feature films, television shows, commercials, and more.

So now if you want to work in the movies, you can do it here in Georgia.  Movies employ about 150 locals for middle-range budget movies, and about 250 for big budget fims.

Having a Drink with the Duke

July 14, 2014

As I read the news about John Wayne’s estate engaging in a legal battle with Duke University over the use of  the name Duke, it reminded me of  the time I had a drink with the Duke.

The estate wants to put the name “Duke” on the label of bottles of Kentucky bourbon. Duke University reportedly opposes that idea. From personal experience, I know that Wayne did like bourbon.

He had just finished shooting some scenes for The Green Berets, a film about the Vietnam War at Fort  Benning.   Meeting him on location the night before, I had so upset him when I asked if he was making a propaganda movie that he cut the interview short and stormed off, saying, “You’re just trying to provoke me. I’m  trying to make an entertaining  movie.”

The next morning his publicist called me to say that Duke felt bad about the episode with me, that he had been upset by something else and that he would give me another interview if I wanted it. The publicist and I met him at his apartment after that day’s filming.  He gave me his famous smile and a hardy handshake,  explained that he had been in a bad mood the night before because of problems he was having with one of his actors who had a drinking problem,  said he understood I was just doing my job and I could ask  him anything I wished.  I responded by honestly telling him I was a fan and had really enjoyed his latest movie in the theaters, The War Wagon. He invited me to join him at the apartment’s  kitchen table to do the interview.  He also asked me if I would like to have a bourbon and water with him.  Usually, I didn’t drink on the job, but there was no way I was going to  not have a drink with John Wayne.

I interviewed him for an hour.  He gave me a lot of interesting inside stories about such things as the mafia’s influence in Hollywood. I sent both the short interview from the  night before and the hour interview to  CBS.  They only used the one with the verbal fireworks from the night before.


Mickey Rooney Memories

April 7, 2014

472px-Mickey_Rooney_stillThough he wasn’t among the movie stars I interviewed over the years, I feel as though I lost a buddy when I learned that Mickey Rooney died.  That’s because I saw his Andy Hardy movies when they were first-run.  The first one, A Family Affair,  was shot in 1937.  Mickey was 17-years-old, and  I was 6 at the time.  There was no question about it. When an Andy Hardy movie  played between 1937 and 1946,  somebody in my family – sometimes my mom and dad took me, but there were others when either my older sister Betty or Brother Elbert would take me – and I went to  see it.

Judy Garland not only starred with him in three of the fourteen Andy Hardy films, but in some smash hit musicals.  They were never reported as being romantically involved, but Mickey said their love ran deeper than that.  Maybe that’s why they played so well in movies together.

Those movies catapulted him to  being the top box-office draw in 1939. Time magazine put his face on the cover of a 1940 edition, saying, according to Wikipedia, “Hollywood’s No. 1 box office bait in 1939 was not Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power, but a rope-haired, kazoo-voiced kid with a comic-strip face, who until this week had never appeared in a picture without mugging or overacting it. His name (assumed) was Mickey Rooney, and to a large part of the more articulate U. S. cinema audience, his name was becoming a frequently used synonym for brat.”

He proved he could also act in a serious role,  starring as “Young Tom Edison” for MGM in 1940.  He won a bunch of awards over the years, including a Jspecial juvenile Academy Award when the Academy was giving those and a Honoirary Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a few Emmys.

He continued to work in movies, radio  and TV right up until his death, April 6, 2014.  He was married 8 times.  He was surrounded by his family when he died in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.  He was survived by his wife of 37 years,  Jan Chamberlain, eight surviving children, nineteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.  He was 93-years-old.  As Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sang, he did his way.  He did it very well “his way.

How History Lessons Could Help Carmike Cinemas Thrive During Hard Times

May 15, 2011

Carmike 15, Columbus, GA, home of Carmike Cinemas

One Ledger-Enquirer online reader, commenting on the story about Carmike Cinemas losing more than $18 million during the first quarter of this year, said the folks who run movie chains need to understand that they can make more by charging less.  Instead of charging $10 for a ticket and selling two, they could make a lot more by charging $2 a ticket and selling 20.  And that was exactly the philosophy back in the heyday of the movies.  I remember it well.  (Yes, I’m a geezer.)

Escaping the Great Depression of the 1930s,  people flocked to the theaters. For 25-cent evening tickets (25-cents in 1932 is $4.10 today) for adults and 10 cents ($1.64 today) for children they could enjoy a cartoon, newsreel, a short subject, and a movie, and in a few theaters like the 4,678-seat Fox in Atlanta they could sing along with a mighty theater pipe organ, and, like the 2,700- seat Royal in Columbus they could enjoy a live vaudeville show.  Also, there were Bank Nights which featured ticket stub lottery drawings for dishes, and other items, including some cash. 

Of course it didn’t hurt that TV didn’t come along until after World War II. (Because of the need to escape the realities of that horrible war, the largest movie audiences ever were during those four years.)   The only real competition was radio which featured comedy shows, dramas,  sports, live music, recorded music, and news.  Radio was popular enough to inspire the movie makers to feature radio stars like Jack Benny and Bob Hope in films, but without pictures radio couldn’t topple the film factories of Hollywood.    

I can remember all of that because I was around at the time.  And I can relate to the insiders of the movie theater business because I was an usher,  then a doorman who took up tickets and supervised other ushers at the first-run, 1,640-seat art-deco showplace called the Bradley Theater which stayed packed during World War II.  When comics Bud Abbot and Lou Costello pictures played on a weekend, the ticket line would go down  to the corner of Broadway and 13th Street, and then on down 13th Street to Front Avenue.   War-weary folks wanted something to laugh about.

Take advantage of this on Tuesdays when you can buy popcorn and a drink for $1 each and you'll have a really big deal.

If I remember correctly, the evening tickets at the Bradley in 1945, at 47-cents for adults and 14-cents for children, were the most expensive in town.  47-cents in 1945 would be $5.87 today according to the Inflation Caculator.  Evening ticket prices are close to twice that much now, but if you go between 4 and 5:30 p.m. hours you can get into Carmike theaters for $5. That means Carmike understands that a lot of people paying less can add up to more than a few people paying more, but if they really want it to make a difference they need to do it in the evening also.