Archive for November, 2010

William Stout TV Show Broadcast Date

Friday, November 26th, 2010

I am more than happy to announce that the childrens television show I designed, Lilly’s Light, will be broadcast (appropriately) on Christmas Eve at 7:00 PM on southern California’s KVCR (channel 24).

Designing a kids TV show had always been one of my dreams. I am happy to say that I not only got the chance, but that the chance I got was for an absolutely brilliant show.

The star of the show (and its driving force) is the multi-talented Sherry Hursey (from Home Improvement). He acting and her singing give me chills and swell my heart with joy — she’s that good!

Daniel Carrey’s work as the director on the show is superb. The photography of our show is the best I’ve ever seen on TV. My jaw dropped when I first walked on to the set during shooting. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the monitors. My sets were perfectly lit, the actors were sculpted with light. Stunning! I asked who was shooting our show and was informed it was the guy who shot the Academy Award-winning My Left Foot(!).

The songs are so good that after hearing them I immediately asked about obtaining a CD of the music just to listen to on its own.

Watch for my friend and screenwriting partner Gregory Paul Martin (Greg has acted in, among many other shows, Babylon 5, A Walk in the Clouds, Sliders) as the loony Professor Crabbe. Also watch for Fred Willard, whom I worked with on Invaders From Mars, as well as my long time friend and co-producer of the show, Philece Sampler, as Dee.

Our show has enormous heart. We aspire for it to be a very positive force in kids’ lives. We hope that its message will spread and benefit the communities of the United States and, ultimately, the world. I know that sounds fairly lofty and ambitious, but if someone or something doesn’t act as a trigger, it’s never going to happen. It feels extremely gratifying to be a force for good in the world or, as Preston Sturges called it, “this crazy, cock-eyed caravan”.

If you’d like a little preview of the show, please head over to http://lillyslight.net/Home_Page.html

Ray Harryhausen Master of the Majicks

Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Thanksgiving Zombie

Thanksgiving Zombie

Anybody out there with a copy of RAY HARRYHAUSEN – Master of the Majicks Volume 2 that they’d like to sell (or trade for) for a reasonable price? Somehow I missed that baby.

Thanks!

…and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

More brains?

Dino DeLaurentiis 1919–2010

Friday, November 19th, 2010

On Monday I attended the funeral ceremony of the great film producer, Dino DeLaurentiis. It was held at the most famous Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It was a classy, classically Italian event that included wonderful vocal renditions of Ave Maria and O Sole Mio.

Director David Lynch (Dino produced both Dune and Blue Velvet for David) gave a very sweet, Lynchian eulogy. Director Baz Luhrmann, who apparently worked on an ill-fated Alexander the Great project with Dino, offered heartfelt memories of how Dino gave Baz lessons in how to seamlessly blend film making, family and food in his rich life.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who made at least four films with Dino) delivered some very humorous remembrances of Dino. One was a story I had heard before — but differently.

The version told to me by John Milius went like this:

Dino was not so sure about Arnold playing Conan. Dino asked for a private meeting with Arnold to ascertain for himself Arnold’s viability. Arnold journeyed to Dino’s Beverly Hills business and walked into Dino’s office. There was nothing in Dino’s office except for a gigantic slab of a desk that nearly took up the entire width of the room. Dino, a man short in stature, stood behind his desk, backlit by a huge window.

Arnold assessed the situation, then asked, “Why such a big, big desk…for such a little, little man?”

Dino immediately had Arnold thrown out of his office and then called John Milius to inform John that Arnold was no longer Conan. It took every ounce of Milius’ begging and pleading to convince Dino to let Arnold stay on the film.

That was John’s version. Arnold’s version went something like this:

Arnold’s agent had snagged Arnold a chance to meet Dino DeLaurentiis in hopes that Dino would cast Arnold in Flash Gordon.

Arnold journeyed to Dino’s Beverly Hills business and walked into Dino’s office. There was nothing in Dino’s office except for a gigantic slab of a desk that nearly took up the entire width of the room. Dino, a man short in stature, stood behind his desk, backlit by a huge window.

Arnold assessed the situation, then asked, “Why such a big, big desk…for such a little, little man?”

Dino (in a thick Italian accent) angrily shouted, “You have-a dah accent! You cannot-ah be in-ah Flash Gordon!”

Dino immediately had Arnold thrown out of his office. Arnold’s agent was furious with Arnold. “It took me FOUR MONTHS to set up this meeting, a meeting that you totally blew in just a minute and a half! Schwarzenegger, you IDIOT! Mark my words, Arnold: You will never amount to ANYTHING!”

I don’t know which to believe — they’re both good show biz tales.

I worked on six DeLaurentiis-produced films (Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja, Dune, Leviathan and Date With An Angel). Subsequently, I’ve been involved in about 40 more features. I honestly didn’t appreciate Dino DeLaurentiis and the way he made films at that time. I had close friends who absolutely hated the guy. One of them stopped talking to me after he heard I was working for Dino. The mention of the Dino DeLaurentiis name always evoked a variety of strong reactions and opinions when mentioned in show biz circles.

Although I had strong opinions of what I wanted in the films I made, I was very green to film making. Dino’s daughter (and producer), Raffaela, stood up for me and saved my ass on Conan the Destroyer after I naively and brazenly came to the first meeting and handed everyone present a copy of my (unasked-for) rewrite of the Conan the Destroyer screenplay(!). Director Richard Fleischer wanted my head after that meeting, demanding I be fired. Raffy came to my defense: “Beeell (that’s how she pronounced my name) is just a boy, Richard. He is passionate. He is talented. He is enthusiastic. He just wants to make a good movie. It will all be fine.”

Thanks to Raffy, I stayed on. I think if it had been Dino at that meeting, he would have laughed and said the same thing.

Most of my work on other films made me deeply appreciate the DeLaurentiis film making experience. I soon began to long for that feeling of family that was so much a part of Dino’s and his daughter Raffy’s film crews. We were an international family, a group of talented individuals I loved and adored. We ate together, worked together and laughed together. I can’t begin to express how much love I still have for that group of amazing people.

I met Dino himself a few times. He was always this gruff, bigger-than-life character that I found both funny and fascinating. I loved his sense of humor about himself and the world (I loved that the bronze lion that stood in front of his offices was brought to the funeral and that guests were invited to follow Dino’s tradition of rubbing the lion’s well-polished balls for good luck!). Whether I agreed with him or not, Dino always had a strong vision of what he wanted. Later, working with directors and producers who had no idea as to what they wanted, Dino gained even more respect in my eyes.

If Dino and his family liked you, they did extraordinary things for you. They liked me and admired my talent, enthusiasm and energy. I could see that they were amused that I was trying to learn Italian. I never realized until later that, unknown to me, they were secretly grooming me to become a production designer. They offered me some extraordinary opportunities very early in my film career (like arranging for me to production design half of Conan the Destroyer).

Dino produced hundreds of films. Some were good, some were bad, and some were great. Good, bad or great, Dino got films made. That’s a rarity in today’s show biz world. Getting films produced was just part of Dino’s rapacious appetite for life. The man worked hard, played hard, adored his family and rarely took “No” for an answer. He, more than almost anyone I know, lived life to the absolute fullest.

A guy like Dino DeLaurentiis comes around once in a lifetime. I’m glad I was there for part of it.

Ciao, Dino — and Grazie!