Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Doug

Hey Readers - thanks for following my wacky little blog the past few years. During the next twelve days I will be rerunning the Twelve Days of Christmas images I created last year. I will be returning on January 7, 2010 with lots of new and cool stuff. I hope all your holidays are happy.
I dedicate this post to the lovely Yvonne King who passed away earlier this week. Please visit the King Family website for a loving tribute.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Tis The Season of Variety!

Another 2008 post re-purposed for your holiday reading pleasure. Having a "day job" has really been a detriment to my blogging lately.After snuggling up with a cup of Rice Nog and a crackling fire to view a batch of old Christmas specials-I realized that there was actually a theme–they all were hosted by married couples! The first show in my mini-marathon was CAPTAIN & TENILLE: THE CHRISTMAS SHOW from 1976. For those unfamiliar with Daryl Dragon and Toni Tenille-they were a Grammy-winning duo who rose to fame with the instant pop classic "Love Will Keep Up Together," followed by a string of other memorable light tunes. They created quite a media sensation for a year or two. Little girls wanted their hair to look like Toni's and gay boys wanted to play with dolls that looked like The Captain.They were like a funkier version of The Carpenters, only married. As their fame grew, ABC awarded them with their own primetime variety hour which was highlighted by Toni's Southern charm and Daryl's "I didn't sign on for THIS" look in his eyes.This holiday-themed episode features an appearance by the very talented Pointer Sisters (back then it was four, later three-and now, sadly two) but to balance things out, the decidedly less talented Tenille Sisters also perform. The hour crawls by and we can't help feel sorry for the Captain, who never seems at ease when the camera is on him. Well, he must have gotten used to it because 30 years later, he's still performing Christmas with Toni! Love has kept them together!Next up I watched 3–count 'em 3–SONNY & CHER Christmas episodes. What can be said about Sono Bono and Cher Sarkissian that hasn't been said already? He was a talented Italian-American songwriter (the classic "Bang Bang") and she was a beautiful Armenian-American (among other things) singer with great comedic chops as well. Their marriage ended - and she became a solo superstar, cosmetic surgery disaster and gay icon, winning an Oscar ® along the way. He played a bigot in the original HAIRSPRAY, became a Republican senator and died by crashing into a tree on skis. Their daughter Chastity grew up and out to become a lesbian activist and is now in the progress of transitioning to become a transgendered man named Chas.
Their first Christmas show from 1972 features guest William Conrad (CANNON, JAKE & THE FAT MAN) playing - who else? Santa! The highlight is an animated segment featuring the Three Dog Night song, "Black and White".For the second show, from 1973, Conrad returns, and there's another cartoon–this one set to Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground". There's also an entertaining medley of Christmas carols set in an old-fashioned Christmas village, with Cher singing an amazing rendition of "O Holy Night."
The third show in the trilogy is from 1976 after Sonny and Cher were divorced and the guests are Bernadette Peters, Captain Kangaroo and a certain duo we like to call Shields & Yarnell. These semi-annoying street mimes were discovered by Marcel Marceau (...or so the legend goes) and before you know it they were appearing on virtually every variety and talk show of the 1970s. Robert Shields and Lorene Yarnell thrilled millions with their act - creating several unique characters that at times won over people who normally who hate mimes (I have no scientific data to prove this). They even hosted their own semi-popular CBS series in 1977-78 - and appeared on the cover of Dynamite magazine!
In 1978 - the still-married duo (they divorced in '86) hosted NBC's CHRISTMAS IN WALT DISNEY WORLD, not to be confused with CHRISTMAS IN DISNEYLAND.
This unbearable hour of torment features barely any cohesiveness and guest appearances by Avery Schreiber (as Gepetto), Phyllis Diller (a highlight, as always)and WHAT'S HAPPENING's Danielle Spencer (a low point-did this child ever learn how to deliver a line?). My advice to anyone who loves Disney: avoid this at all costs. I'd opt rather for 1966's DISNEYLAND AROUND THE SEASONS (available on dvd) or 1962's HOLIDAY TIME AT DISNEYLAND (rare and hard-to-find).So there you have it - an evening of Captain, Tenille, Sony, Cher, Shields and Yarnell. And once again, I've watched them all so you don't have to!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Dougsploitation News Special Report: Whatever Happened to THE CHRISTMAS KIDS???

Another rerun from last Christmas? Damn, I must have had a lot more free time in 2008. Enjoy...Back in the 70s, TV talk show host (and future mega-producer and casino mogul) Merv Griffin hosted a few holiday-themed syndicated variety specials. One particular show that I remember fondly was 1973's MERV GRIFFIN & THE CHRISTMAS KIDS. This hour-long treat featured a bunch of popular child stars of the day like Rodney Allen Rippy, Ricky Segall and Kim Richards performing songs and hanging out with Uncle Merv and Santa.This special aired just a few times over the years, but now is one of those lost TV treasures that will probably never resurface. But maybe there's a chance of a Reunion Special featuring those tykes as adults? Now that would be an unusual and possibly unsettling social experiment. I wonder if they are all still around...So, whatever happened to THE CHRISTMAS KIDS? Well, Jack in the Box pitchman Rodney Allen Rippy has his own website and long-distance phone service. He's available for speaking engagements and is working on a reality show pilot - so he might be interested in a reunion...Ricky Segall, of THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY fame, grew up to become Reverend Richard Segall, a minister at several churches in Texas. He also had a career in gospel music, but has recently returned to LA and showbiz! Hmm...he might be game.Kim Richards was a child mega-star, appearing in everything from NANNY & THE PROFESSOR to HELLO, LARRY. In between, she made a string of ABC Afterschool Specials, TV-movies and Disney films-including the awesome WITCH MOUNTAIN films. She returned to the big screen recently in BLACK SNAKE MOAN and had a role is Disney's RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN remake. Oh, and she's the aunt of somebody named Paris Hilton. So, it sounds like she's gettable. Photo by Kirstin Alm.Eric Scott of THE WALTONS became a courier after the series ended, eventually worked his way up to become VP of the company. Eric still acts and makes occasional appearances at fan events. He's so in.
Mary Elizabeth McDonough, also of THE WALTONS is currently a recurring cast member of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE - so she's totally available!
Kejo Thomas was a child actor who appeared on one episode of POLICE WOMAN in 1976 and then resurfaced 30 years later as part of SWEATING IN THE SPIRIT - American's #1 Christian Aerobics Video! I swear I'm not making this up! I wonder which dancer is Kejo? Sounds like he's probably available.Piano prodigy Leland Greenwald is now apparently known as Dr. Leland Greenwald, MD - who still enjoys playing the piano. So he might be interested, if he's not busy performing surgery or golfing.Guitarist Randy Gray - if this is him - still rocks out in Texas. His last TV credit was a 1981 episode of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Sounds like he may want to take the gig.And finally, The Robert Mitchell Boys Choir (also known as the St. Brendan's Church Choir or Bob Mitchell's Singing Boys) was founded in 1934, they were cast in over 100 films from the 1930s through the 1980s (the last being in 1981). Bob Mitchell, began his career as a moviehouse organist in 1924 at the age of 12, returned to work in the 1990s as part-time organist at The Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles. For a 2004 interview with 92-year old Bob Mitchell go here. Not sure if the choir boys are still around, though.Well, there you have it - an update on all THE CHRISTMAS KIDS - all grown up to be executives, preachers, aerobics dancers, doctors and rock stars! So there's a ray of hope that they can reunite for the reunion special that exists only in my head. As for Merv, he's no longer with us.

Oh - and as a EXTRA special treat here's my friend Jerry Sharell performing "New York, New York" on THE MERV GRIFFIN show in 1982.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Have a Juul Yule!

Re-watched the awesome CHRISTMAS WITH SCTV dvd the other night, and I cannot say enough about the wonderful costumes created by my friend Juul Haalmeyer. I've decided to re-post my original story about Juul from last year, followed by a re-post of my exclusive interview with him from my DOUGLAS MICHAEL SHOW interview series (which will return in January with new editions). Enjoy Juul lovers!
You may be asking "Who the hell is Juul Haalmeyer?" Well, look no further than CHRISTMAS WITH SCTV - a collection of 2 fabulous yuletide themed-episodes of SCTV NETWORK 90, the hysterical 90-minute late-night import from Canada that ran on NBC for two seasons in the Friday night post-TONIGHT SHOW slot.
Juul Haalmeyer, in the real world was SCTV's resident costume designer. In the world of SCTV, Juul also led the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, a group of inept, mismatched, poorly-choreographed dancers who appeared most often in Lola Heatherton's (Catherine O'Hara) spectacular variety specials.
The dancers included at various times Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis and random writers and crew members. Basically any guy who was available and could squeeze into the ridiculous costumes.
In Season 4 Juul and his boys appeared in such classic sketches as "Lola Heatherton - Bouncin' Back to You," "Perry Como - Still Alive," "The Dusty Towne Sexy Holiday Special" and "The People's Global Golden Choice Awards".

In Season 5 a highlight was "Lola Heatherton's The Love Spirit" in which Juul was Lola's co-star.

The CHRISTMAS WITH SCTV dvd contains a great extra: The Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, a documentary in which Juul explains the origins and techniques of the legendary dance troupe that bears his name. As Juul says "Nobody ever got hurt, due to the simplicity of the routines." Here he is as one of the Solid Gold dancers...
And here's my exclusive interview with the legendary Juul!
SECOND CITY TELEVSION or SCTV in all it’s incarnations (in syndication, on NBC and on Cinemax) is remembered as one of the funniest TV series of all time.This outrageous Canadian sketch comedy import launched the careers of such greats as John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Harold Ramis, Martin Short, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty and a few others – including Juul Haalmeyer. Chances are if you've ever seen a SCTV sketch, you've seen Juul's work.Juul Haalmeyer was SCTV's resident costume designer, who was also featured on the show as the choreographer of Melonville's top dance troupe, the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, a pathetically incompetent ensemble of variety show dancers made up mostly of writers and crew on SCTV. I consider Juul one of my comedy heroes and a unsung TV legend!!!Over the years, Juul also worked as a costume designer for many movies, TV shows, theatre and concert productions. He's done all the classics from ALL MY SONS to LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, his designs have dressed everyone from Jack Lemmon to Alice Cooper, from Shari Lewis to Jethro Tull, from Dolly Parton to Anne Murray, from Bobby Vinton to Bobby Bittman! It is with great honor that I welcome my guest, Juul Haalmeyer!!!
DOUG: Hi Juul, first of all let me say thank you for all the laughter you and the folks at SCTV have given me over the years. The show is a true classic. I watched it from the very first episode (on WOR TV channel 9 in New York) to the very last Cinemax episode. In fact I subscribed to Cinemax just to watch SCTV! Now exactly when did you join the show?

JUUL: Well, unfortunately I didn’t do the first season because there just wasn’t enough money; and I thought that there was way too much material to get out per week for me to be able to handle. It just looked too scary and daunting and I thought I’m not going to kill myself over a show! That’s my biggest regret with SCTV because it did turn out to be the most rewarding and enjoyable experience of my career.DOUG: Well, thankfully you we able to join the show for season 2. I read somewhere that it took 100 hours a week to make one of the 90-minute NBC shows. Is that true?

JUUL :Yes it did, and sometimes more. It was a real slog, and after each three month cycle, you just had to scrape yourself off the floor and pray the next cycle would be easier. But it never was; it just kept growing bigger!DOUG: Bigger and BETTER-If you ask me! So who was your favorite character or player to design for?

JUUL: ALL OF THEM! The cast of course were all very special people and each one of their characters were very endearing. The challenge came in the situations they wrote for themselves as to how complicated the sketch would become from a wardrobe point of view. Could not have done it without the incredible help of Luigi, the head cutter at Malabar costumes, Eva Richter, who always had an impossible shopping list, and my mother, Trudy Haalmeyer, who cut and sewed everything on set.
DOUG: With all the crazy folks that passed through the doors of SCTV - was there any character that stands out as being the most creatively challenging? I somehow think John Candy as Divine must have been a case where you had to top what the real Divine was already wearing!

JUUL: Again, it was my support staff that saved my ass on everything; whether it was "Shake and Bake" (twenty nine period costumes in primary colours in three days) or Edith Prickley as Queen Elizabeth (the first with two days notice),Divine as Peter Pan, or Divine On Ice; You name it! The challenge was always the time frame within which we had to get it together, and again, my team deserves all of the credit.

DOUG: That Divine On Ice number - Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me is still one of the most hysterical things I've ever seen. And you and the boys are featured prominently in that segment. So, how did the Juul Haalmeyer dancers come about?
JUUL: Well, you can’t hire people to be as bad as we were, so when Lola Heatherton needed dancers she (Catherine O'Hara) remembered that I had done musical theater. But they would let me sing, turn the light off, and yank me offstage, because I just didn’t move well, as you’ve seen. It became a group of writers, sometimes cast, grips, propmen, whoever was available that day. God, it was fun though. Nice to know that anytime you need a bad actor, loud singer, or really lousy dancer, you can depend on someone on your crew to come through! Voila!
DOUG : Did you ever have any formal dance training?

JUUL: What are you smokin' dude?????? Of course not! I did take a Dancercise class one year to get some excess poundage off, which worked, at The Roland and Romaine Academy of Dance,but they always made me move to the back of the class because I always farted with the first bend down in the warmups!
DOUG: That's hysterical. What makes you think I was smoking something while watching SCTV? LOL. It's great that people all over the world are rediscovering the magic of Juul Haalmeyer!JUUL: I'm on Facebook now (I had never heard of it before), and guess what turned up? A Juul Haalmeyer Dancer fan club based in ICELAND! I hope they're not just now getting SCTV! I have gotten more notoriety from the bad dancing than anything I have ever done as a costume designer in the last 40 years.
DOUG: Iceland! How cool is that? Do you keep in touch with any of the cast members?

JUUL: Not really. It was great to see all of them at a very generous 'Benefit of Laughter' reunion show they did last year to set up an SCTV alumni fund for ailing participants of the show. I did get to work on the Disney film COOL RUNNINGS (1993) with John–which was a real privilege and an absolute blast. Ten weeks of poker and dominos in the sun!DOUG: Aside from the charity performance, do you think there would ever be a SCTV REUNION SPECIAL? And if so, would the Dancers come out of retirement?

JUUL: I don’t think that’s in the cards, with everyone’s careers as diverse as they are, but it would be nice. As for the dancers, I don’t think we can get enough day passes issued out of retirement homes at the same time to let all of the dancers come together again! Although I hear that Ellen Degeneres wants to challenge us to a Dance Off!

DOUG: LOL - I'd love to see you and Ellen go at it! So, what have you been up to since SCTV left the air? Are you still doing wardrobe these days?

JUUL: In a way. I still have my costume company, Homemade Tarts, and I rent out vintage clothing to the movies, but I don’t do any designing anymore; couldn’t handle the stress of it all. Back in those days they were all wonderful people to work for who appreciated your craft, but now the shows are mostly in the hands of bean counters, who just want to get it done as cheaply as possible, to heck with creativity. I stopped about nine years ago after I won an Emmy for NODDY AND FRIENDS, a childrens show for PBS.DOUG: That's awesome. Belated congratulations on that Emmy! And lastly, is there any truth to the internet rumor that you are going to be on DANCING WITH THE STARS?

JUUL: Ha Ha! That was a very clever and funny piece someone posted and I got over one hundred e-mails from people who actually believed it! Had a lot of fun with that one! Found the guy who wrote it and he’s just a big fan of the show.

DOUG : Well, you never know with internet rumors. Once something is out the in the universe, it could very well happen! Thanks again for being a guest and being so entertaining!
JUUL: Thank you, It’s been great talking with you!