Film Week on AirTalk sells-out the Egyptian Theater

Friday morning on “AirTalk,” we’ll broadcast our 10th annual “Film Week on AirTalk Academy Awards Preview.”  All eight of our critics were in fine form, alternately bashing and championing nominees in the major categories.

Prior to taping on Sunday afternoon, I asked our Egyptian audience whether anyone had attended all ten of our shows.  Remarkably, a couple of folks clapped their hands.  That’s real dedication.

I particularly look forward to this event, given that I spent my junior high and high school years living in Hollywood.  I’d walk by the Egyptian almost daily, and considered it one of the great theaters in the city.  Had you told me as a kid that I’d be hosting an annual event there, it would’ve blown my mind. 

If you haven’t been to the annual show, I hope you’ll join us next year.  We tape the weekend prior to each year’s Oscars ceremony.  If you’ve joined us in the past, I hope you’ll continue with us.

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Martin Scorsese sounds like a kid

That’s what I discovered when interviewing him for an “AirTalk” segment that airs Wednesday morning in our first hour.  It was infectious to hear his excitement about movies and what he’s continuing to learn about the art form.

Scorsese is well-known for his championing of film preservation and appreciation of silent cinema.  In his current movie, “Hugo,” he’s been able to combine his love of movie history with a family-friendly story he filmed for his 12-year-old daughter.  Though some of our “Film Week” critics thought the film was a cold creampuff, it emotionally connected with me.

As a fan of Scorsese’s earlier films and his latest, hearing his dedication to learning how best to use new technology was a pleasure.  One of the highlights of our conversation was hearing Scorsese laugh as he recounted George Lucas telling him, “this is what I’ve been talking about!” when hearing his friend was finally embracing special effects and 3-D.  We should all be so open to learning new tricks.

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A music lover's dream

That’s what I experienced last week at the historic recording stage at Sony Pictures in Culver City.  The stage was where musical soundtracks for numerous classic MGM films were recorded, including “The Wizard of Oz.” 

I was there at the invitation of Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, who was recording the score for next year’s Disney action release, “John Carter.”  The film is adapted from a series written by “Tarzan” creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Giacchino had an orchestra of over 100 musicians, being recorded in-synch with scenes from the film.  Time-coded sections of the movie were projected onto a huge screen at the back of the room, facing the conductor. 

Given how rarely full orchestras are recorded with all the musicians together at the same time, it was particularly fun to see.  Standing in various parts of the room, with the orchestra playing around me, was an experience I won’t forget. 

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"The Help" as movie and real life

The new movie The Help is based on a popular novel highlighting relationships between African-American domestics, their families, and their employers in the Jim Crow south.  It’s a great topic for dramatic treatment, but also a nice prompter for people to share their own childhood stories about both sides of the household employee/employer relationship.

Friday morning on AirTalk, we’ll open the phones to talk about those memories, as well as current household employee experiences.  I’m looking forward to hearing listeners talk about both positive and negative aspects to these working and, often, personal relationships.  Though a tiny percentage of Americans have live-in housekeepers and cooks these days, there are many more live-in nannies who are invaluable parts of the families they serve.

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Discovering Southland history through silent movies

Friday morning on Film Week on AirTalk, I’ll be talking with movie historian John Bengston about his three-book series on silent film locations.  The large-format books are terrific compilations of movie stills, maps, and current photos of locations used in films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd.  The Lloyd book is just out.  It’s titled, Silent Visions:  Discovering Early Hollywood and New York through the Films of Harold Lloyd.

One of the pleasures of the book is how thoroughly it describes the techniques Lloyd used for his height-defying stunts in Safety Last.  Bengston lays out the camera angles and shows the structures Lloyd used to create the illusions at the center of the classic film.  As you watch Safety Last, you can’t help but marvel at Lloyd’s stunts.  As you read Bengston’s book, you’ll marvel at the comedic actor’s inventiveness.

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