Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Following The Following

I started watching The Following for one reason:  Kevin Bacon.  He is one of our best actors and he played Fenwick in Diner, that alone is reason enough to love him. 

The three episodes had me.  It was like a page turner on TV, then.....  
Bacon plays Ryan Hardy and ex-FBI agent who captured a serial killer, Joe Carroll who is now running a cult via his jail cell.  Hardy is called back into action to track down Carroll, despite being fired from the FBI. He's an alcoholic who we don't see drinking after the first few episodes. 

The show really got stupid when Carroll escapes from jail with the help of the warden (the beginning of a tiresome show of law enforcement being totally inept).  He exits into a helicopter and Hardy misses him by seconds. This will be played out in every episode, as well as several dead people (most of them are FBI and lots of stabbing. It became tiresome, but I held out and watched the whole season which concluded last night because Kevin Bacon is a good actor. 

Who on this show gave the ok to light the show the way they do?  Regardless of them being in a dark room, why does it have to be so dark the viewer can't see anything?  There is a big fight scene at the end, but I had no idea what was happening because I couldn't see anything.  This has been going on all season.  

For my amusement, I could not stop reading online reviews of the season finale.  I have been laughing out loud all day.  I have to share some of my favorite lines.  It's clear that I am not the only one to find that that show lost it's way early in it's first season.  It has been renewed by Fox.

  • Sweet Claire is dislocated herself, waking in a dark room that shouldn't surprise her because hey, everything in the set design is dark.
  • Weston [an FBI agent], convinced they don't have to play by Joe's rules, utters perhaps the finest line of the series thus far: "WE CAN CHANGE THE STORY." (If right after this you screamed at your television "WE CAN CHANGE THE CHANNEL," then tweet me so we can become best friends.)
  • Bodies move around in space (I really do apologize but I can't see anything on this show) until somehow, someway, Hardy and Joe's tussle lands them in a boathouse full of gas tanks.
hollywood.com Henning Fog
  • And there are days when I think the high school girls on Pretty LIttle Liars are a collective Sherlock Holmes compared to the FBI on this show.
  • Seriously, no one can die from a gut wound on this show, can they?
  • This show really tests my facial recognition.
TV.com Nick Campbell

  • Are you surprised that law enforcement didn’t rise en masse and demand that the second season of The Following be killed for portraying all cops as mentally slow and unable to hit a target?
  • Ryan goes to the address that Joe described in the book.  There he finds Emma and gets syringed in the neck.  Because he’s an idiot. 
wsj blog Dawn Fallik

Friday, April 05, 2013

Remembering Roget Ebert

Richard Brody pays tribute to Roget Ebert in this New Yorker piece.  It's worth reading for Roger's thoughts on what it takes to make a film and what a filmmaker puts into her/his work.  Being able to appreciate what goes into making a film, is probably what made him so good at critiquing them. 

Monday, April 01, 2013

Phil Ramone

Every obituary I've read about Phil Ramone talks about the artists he worked with which is long and illustrious.  Of course there is Billy Joel; Phil's first production with him was The Stranger.  That album was the beginning of catapulting Joel into music legend status.  Joel has always given Phil credit for his work.   Phil was mainly engineering at that point in his career.  The Stranger was one of many in his string of big time producer credits. Phil was behind the board for the famous duet records of Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra.  He has numerous Grammys.

I've yet to read an article that mentions his short lived record company N2K Encoded Music.  That's how I know Phil.  I was managing the band mini-king, who passed up a deal with Columbia Records to sign with Phil and his new label. The label was all about new technology, which always interested Phil.  Their office was on Wall Street.  What?   They needed to be in a building that was equipped with the latest technology and the Wall Street building had it.  N2K had their own online music seller:  Music Boulevard.  This was 1997. 

Phil signed on to produce mini-king's first record.  The band was schooled and influenced by the great 60's and 70's pop songs, so working with Phil was a dream come true.  The band's founding member Michael LaMorte remembers working with Phil. 

While he was completely comfortable in his own skin, he could sense any sort of discomfort that most artists tend to have - especially before making a record, and would remedy this by describing the studio, or a place you have only read about - in great detail just to let your mind wander, thus putting you at ease. Not many people have a gift like that. Sort of a soothing/descriptive way about Phil. I learned so much from him - I wish every artist could work with someone like Phil at some point in their career.

Back Cover mini-king unreleased album
The band and Phil recorded at Sony Studios.  The record was completed.  We hired a stylist.   The band took publicity shots and the album was suppose to come out on a Tuesday.  Monday we got word the label, cut staff and was restructuring, which was one way of saying the label would no longer exist in a short time.  That week's Billboard Magazine had a full page ad on the back cover promoting the album.  The biggest loss was that mini-king did not make another album and the Phil Ramone produced record never was officially released. (Listen to 3 tracks from the album on Reverb Nation.)  The good news is Michael LaMorte is still playing music under the name Miguelito LaMorte, scoring animated projects (The Rattles) and is getting ready to unleash his film project Superstitious

Phil was upbeat and had fantastic stories to tell. He lived and breathed music and then shared it with us. 

Related Note:   I watched the documentary Family Band:  The Cowsills Story on Showtime.  Ironically their first big hit  The Rain, The Park and Other Things was recorded at A and R studios in New York.  Phil Ramone owned A and R Studios.