Thursday, February 16, 2006


Thur., 2/16 - 3pm'ish

... Interesting medical findings announced yesterday: seems that better educated, and brighter, people don't suffer Alzheimer's so easily at below-60's (possibly because active and activity keeps the brain muscles exercised ... but there's a negative flip-side to this finding: when the condition hits a man at a more advanced age, the bad effects come faster and more powerfully.

Interesting photo news: news stories yesterday ... I think it was in Europe ... an Ansel Adams print went ... at an auction ..... for more than (if I recall correctly) $ 2-million ... a new record for a photograph.

Hey, I've got some great Gary Franklins, I'm willing to sell for a sacrifice one-million smackeroos .... maybe even for a sacrifice $ 750,000 !

Rain forecast for this part of California, next few days ... so travel plans uncertain.



Sunday, February 12, 2006

The whole Kwan

Sunday 2/12 evening

... A shame about Michelle Kwan's groin ... but now she'll make millions as a future TV commentator ... and I think it's cute that a gal named Cohn is about to take her place ... can't wait to see how the Arab sports commentators handle that one. It'll also be interesting to see how the loss of Kwan will further affect Olympics' TV ratings ... which ain't been great so far. (NBC tried to get Kwan to come aboard as a commentator, after her resignation ... but that smart gal refused.)

Incidentally, the TV show "American Idol" beat the so-far Olympics ... which sez something, but I don't know what.

And then, there's VP Dick Cheney accidentally shooting lead into a fellow hunter's face and shoulder ... in that great sport: people shooting animals for fun.

gary f

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympics and other observations...

Fri., 2/10 afternoon ....

I know it ain't funny, but I think it's funny: note on the sites today, that Elizabeth Vargas - the other half of the ABC evening news anchor duo - is knocked up ... and expecting in the late summer. Meanwhile - and certainly NOT funny - her partner, Woodruff, so badly hurt in the Iraq thing, is still in intensive care ... with hardly any details on his condition - present and future - leaking out. What a dilemma for ABC !
Other things:
Am I in a tiny minority ? ... but why do I find myself not giving a rat's ass about the winter Olympics in Italy ... so much stuff going on with drugs ... and all the commercialization ... and the gambling interests ... but then I've never cared much for professional sports and those guys painting up their faces in the pro football audiences. Last time I paid to get into a ballgame audience, was when I was around 12, and an uncle in the Bronx thought he could interest the German 'fugee kid in the fortunes of the New York Giants, at the Polo Grounds. I think admission price (for good seats !) at the time, was $ 1.50.
One other touchy subject:
One of the very bright people with whom I e-communicate, seems to be a bit upset with me, because I wrote in one of my short tomes, that I was raised in an environment, headed by a superb physician-father (and recognized, during the '30's, as a leading expert on venereal disease control), who worked his profession on the theory that most male homosexual activity was medically dangerous .... and this was long before AID's. (Since neither he nor I believe(d) much in psychiatry, the mental/emotional/social aspects of homosexuality, were/are far less important, than the physical dangers.). As a result, I may be losing a writing partner .... seems the fellow considers me a Neanderthal on this subject.
And I worry about any of my four grandkids (including the one female) falling victim to these people with their same-sex urges. Actually, I couldn't care less about their bed-activities ... but with Hollywood now sort of legitimizing homosexual activity in several new films, including making one a leading Oscar contender (and who knows, how many in preparation or production) ... it feels quite OK not to be in the critic-biz any more.
Touchy subject; I know.

Happy Friday.


News Biz

Tues, AM ... Hi ... death being as certain as taxes, no great surprise that Reuven Frank - ex NBC news head and creator of Huntley/Brinkley - has kicked the bucket at ripe old age of 85. I remember vividly ... for several days, watching Reuven Frank and his crew putting together the nightly NBC news, just as H-B was starting. Boy, they were smooth and exciting professionals ... and I'm sure those few days of study under the WAAM Fellowship, had a permanent effect on my news thoughts, theories and practices.

Another giant gone .... and what's left ? Good-looking guys and pretty, perfectly coiffed, young femmes ... both, mostly under-educated & under-experienced ... and network organizations that send a guy like Woodruff into the awful Iraq mess (the fact that, so far, we're getting no further medical details on his condition, would seem to indicate that things ain't good). No way to convince me that sending an anchor - just beginning his new evening anchorship - into that uncontrolled and deadly mess, just for the sake of publicity ... makes any sense at all. (Can you imagine how much the regular ABC foreign correspondents, on the scene, must have become steamed, over having their New York hot shot fly in for a few days, don all that battle gear and do some quick, unremarkable standuppers ? ... and yet, I feel so damned sorry for his family, which was just beginning to enjoy the Multi-Million-$$-New York Broadcasting&! nbsp;Big Time.)

I hate sounding like a crochety old, repetitive, outrageous veteran, but what the nets should be doing right now, is to revolutionize their business and bring it into the 21st century ... doing away with all the old, 60-plus-year-old styles, techniques and practices ... the old 6-7:30pm time slots for 1/2-hour 'casts ... do the news at 9pm, perhaps one-hour long (if you're gonna continue doing world news on the 3 old nets) ... perhaps do away with studio "anchors" altogether, and just have field reporting ... and voice-over visuals, when on-scene live coverage (such as finance or sudden weather disasters) is impossible.

Think about it ... do you click on a newscast, because of who's anchoring ... or because you think you'll get the best and most complete news coverage from that slot ?

Yea, Reuven Frank was one of the giants ... and among our broadcast journalism heroes ... but 1965 ain't 2006.



Sunday, February 05, 2006

I send email

I thought you all might get a mild kick out of an e-answer I sent to a young lady who's doing a school research paper on the movies ....


Sat., 2/4, 9:10 pm - from Gary Franklin

Dear Judy F. - This is kinda embarrassing ... but despite my notoriety, during the '80's and '90's, and into the 00's, as a film (and other forms of entertainment) critic ... I never did become much of an expert on that medium, mostly because I had no interest in being an expert .... instead, I treated my job just as a sort of cultured and cultural investment advisor ... i.e., I got to see all those movies before their release, and then I told the folks whether I liked it or not ... and I was in the enviable position of being able to warn people about - what I considered - really bad and/or dangerous stuff ... and whether the admission price investment was - from my viewpoint - a good one or a bad one.

As Psychsue would probably confirm, there were only a few films that I truly enjoyed sitting through.

Towards the end of that career - the late 80's, early 90's - I really hated the job ... especially since, after my German misadventure, I worked for a station (the awful and aptly numbered Ch.13) which had its nightly news at 10pm, instead of 11pm ... which meant that I often had to leave the preview screening before the end of the film ... although that didn't really matter so much, because by that time ... after the thousands of films I had seen - sometimes as many as 10 per week ! - by the time a film was half-way through, I could usually predict the ending. 90% of the time I was right. ( It didn't really matter, because Ch.13's audience was/is small and the demographics such, that the studio PR people didn't give much of a damn what I had to say about it ... unless ... unless ... the movie was so god-awful, that its box office prognosis was minimal ... and by twisting my review words a bit, they could make it sound like a hit ... maybe something like this:
I'd say ," .... This awful piece of trash will, most probably, find enthusiastic approval only among weak-minded and uncultured nincompoops ...."

However, the quote ad would read:

" Will, most probably, find enthusiastic approval ! " - Gary Franklin, KCOP

Not a true example ... but almost .....

Anyway ... being an "entertainment" critic, paid a lot more than being a street reporter ... and, I guess, I did, in turn, entertain the news audiences with my clever and pungent reviews ... I've been told that I had a measurable effect on the stations' ratings as well as the films' box office ... so, I guess it worked out OK for everybody. (Would you believe that to this day, when I'm out among the people at, say, a shopping mall - I still get stopped by nice folks, who wanna know whether I'd seen any good movies lately .... but of course, those folks are now all gray-haired ... and I just smile and say "thank you for remembering", and I don't tell 'em that I now see, maybe .. four to six movies a year ...)

Finally, as I may have mentioned before, I truly believe that the film industry, as we know it, is in its death throes ... and being more than a hundred years of age, why shouldn't it be ? Electronic entertainment is taking over ... folks ain't gonna shell out $10-plus any more, just to sit next to a guy who's coughing without covering his mouth .... a a lady with a crying baby on her lap ... or some idiot teen broad, talking on her cell phone.

A Great New Day is A'Dawnin' ... that is, unless the Iraq situation escalates and escalates ....

I'm sure this long note is of very little help in your school research ... but it's also entertaining, isn't it ?

gary s franklin

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The State of Movies

A longtime friend of mine, asked me to write to her college student daughter, who's preparing a long treatise on the American film industry, my thoughts on the influences, on the industry, by The Graduate and The Godfather ... and I thought you might find the answer interesting ... also perhaps irritating:

You guys are raising some interesting questions, re film, film-culture ... and our culture, as influenced by Hollywood.

I have a feeling that this reply to your e-mail, ain't exactly what you were expecting ... and that Susan hasn't told you that I'm not a mainstream person and that I got out of the film critic business because I could no longer stomach the 90% garbage that came - and is still - grinding through the California cameras.

Nevertheless, your questions interest me - and I'm flattered by your asking for my views.

Of course, The Graduate and The Godfather ... were fascinating films which ultimately had powerful effects on my generation (far beyond their "entertainment" values). They influenced our socio/political attitudes ... our dress codes ... our social and sexual behavior ... our choice of - or rejection of - leaders ... our glamorization of criminals (of which Hollywood has always been guilty) ..... etc.

Even though those were two great, highly entertaining films ... neither was as powerful as Orson Welles' Citizen Kane ... which, at the time, was a financial/box office failure ... and not just because an angry Hearst wouldn't carry their ads.

Right now - look at that leading Oscar contender: homosexuality has suddenly become big box office. Am I the only person who's scared to death by this new cultural phenomenon ? (I was raised by an MD-father who, with my mom, in their younger days, were real swingers ... wild parties, wife-swapping, etc. ... but who also was medically and culturally convinced that homosexuality was an illness ... and the mechanics of male coupling quite dangerous ... and that medical attitude was formed by dad long before AIDS).

(And there are others who have noted the dangers of "anal sex", even among self-identified gays, bisexuals, and even straight men, who have relations with other men, but exclude dangerous activity from their personal practices.)

I also believe that the film industry fatally damaged itself with its labor practices ... just look at the ever-growing credit lists at the end of current films ... No one can convince me that modern technology (and film emulsions) make that huge army of makeup people and lighting technicians ... generators ... huge lights ... etc. .... still necessary. Film dramas could easily be shot nowadays, for a one-tenth of their current cost.

Finally - with apologies - this inescapable fact: I firmly believe that the theatrical film industry is in its death throes .... that within the next five years, maybe even less (with the sudden upsurge of large-screen TV sales), you're going to see a massive shuttering of movie theaters.

With the hope that I haven't disappointed (or angered) you too much with this oblique reply to your request for my observations on matters filmic ...

All the best,
gary s franklin

P.S. If you want to soak in films with cultural artisty, then for this month just tune into Turner Classic Movies on cable. Each night this month, on TCM, they are showing hour after hour of Oscar winning films. If you are a young person and are not aware of the classic films, now is the time to gain some culture and watch these films. Besides being classics, they are also funny, insightful, and above all entertaining. Enjoy.