Friday, December 30, 2016

Kevin Spacey and a Twist of Lemmon

Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and I have something in common.  Hollywood great Jack Lemmon, who was also a two-time Oscar winner, had a major influence on our career choices.   For me, I was new in my first professional TV job.  I booked the opportunity to interview Jack Lemmon in Chicago where he was promoting his film, TRIBUTE.  During the interview, he was so impressed with a particular piece of research that I'd done that he said, "How did you know that?"  He told me to stick around after the interview.  Back then, it was rare to see black folks conducting entertainment interviews for TV.  Jack Lemmon pulled me aside, complimented on my research and told me to consider doing more entertainment interviews in my TV work.  Also, he felt that TV needed to see diversity in that area.  I cherish the photo we took together and I am still grateful for Jack Lemmon's advice.  I took it, by the way.  Kevin Spacey also took Jack Lemmon's advice with sensational results.  He got to work with Jack Lemmon on stage.  Spacey's first Oscar win was in the Best Supporting Actor category for 1995's THE USUAL SUSPECTS.  His next Oscar came in the Best Actor category for 1999's AMERICAN BEAUTY.
We were fascinated with the mid-life crisis that the sexually frustrated suburban family man, Lester Burnham, was experiencing in AMERICAN BEAUTY.  We watched him change his life.
Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon starred in a very good 2016 indie feature from director Liza Johnson.  Her comedy direction had a touch of the Preston Sturges about it.  Shannon and Spacey played real-life characters in a story based on an actual meeting.  It was the White House meeting of President Richard M. Nixon and rock superstar Elvis Presley.
In the Liza Johnson comedy/drama Michael Shannon stars of Elvis.  Kevin Spacey plays Nixon, a president who was jealous of Presley's popularity.  Spacey hits a comedy home run in this role.

During the summer, I interviewed the two actors about this feature.  I also got to talk to Kevin Spacey about his mentor, Jack Lemmon.  He told me how a classic Lemmon performance was a huge inspiration when Spacey got one of his best screen roles.

Here's my interview with Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon:

Kevin Spacey played singer Bobby Darin in BEYOND THE SEA.  He directed that 2004 biopic and did his own singing.  Did you catch the recent NBC special all-star birthday salute to Tony Bennett?  Spacey was one of the guests.  He sang and his number was one of the show's highlights.  He was in terrific voice.  Maybe you can find that NBC special online.  I hope you enjoyed our chat. Happy New Year.







Monday, December 26, 2016

Another Loss: George Michael

There's a classic fantasy romance movie from the 1930s called DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY.  Actor Fredric March plays a quite aristocratic Death who does indeed take human form and does not take lives for a day.  He wants to know why he's feared.  He falls in love.  Well, Death certainly did not take a holiday this year.  After having a wonderful Christmas dinner with my equally wonderful sister here in the Minneapolis area, I saw the news bulletin that singer George Michael died.  He was only 53.  Like so many of the celebrity deaths in 2016, the news of this one hurt.
Not that I ever met George Michael, but I loved presenting his old and new music videos on VH1 during my veejay years.  My favorite -- "Father Figure."  I wore that cassette tape out.  I read the lyrics to all his songs on that FAITH album.  About "Father Figure,"  I feel the same way today as I did in the late 80s -- you could sing that song in church on Easter Sunday and it would have spiritual resonance.  The George Michael solo work had a such a soulful brilliance and a smart, sly sexuality.  I loved his image in his solo artist music videos.  Great style.  Handsome bloke.
As is the case with some celebrity deaths -- especially those in the pop/rock music business -- they are cold, quick reminders that we are aging, that we are mortal, that Death does not take a holiday.  Those deaths also show how hypocritical we Americans are when it comes to age.  We get on social media and write RIPs adding that the artists died too soon, that they were too young to die.  George Michael was 53.  David Bowie was 69.  Prince was 57.  Glenn Frey was 67.  We lost them this year.  Michael Jackson died at age 50.  However, put those same ages in your personal ad for dates or on your resumé when you need a job and you're passed over because you're considered ancient -- like Mayan architecture.

George Michael used his star power actively in the greatly needed drive to raise money and awareness in the fight against AIDS.  And he came out.  Today, coming out as gay has an entirely different tone to it for celebrities.  If you come out, people congratulate you on Twitter.  It gets a nice mention in entertainment press.  Organizations like GLAAD throw you a party with cake, gift bags and pony rides.  It's really amazing!  Let's face it.  Just about every other TV show in prime time now has a gay character or a real-life openly gay actor in the cast or a real gay person in a reality show.  We've got openly gay network news anchors now.  But back in the 80s and 90s, coming out for a performer could mean a loss of employment and a severe decrease in work opportunities and income.  Lord knows I was never anywhere near the talent of a George Michael, but I was on national TV and hoped to do more national TV coupled with  few acting roles.  I'm sure people figured out that I'm "heterosexually-challenged" but I did not come out publicly for fear of not getting future employment.  With the money I was making, I not only took care of myself.  I was paying off the mortgage on my long-divorced mother's house after she moved out of South Central L.A. and helping her with bills.


George Michael came out and provided light in some dark times.  His music made me dance and touched my soul.  I also loved that he did standards from the Great American Songbook.  Did you know that?  Listen to him sing a Johnny Mercer song written for an early 1940s musical comedy starring Dorothy Lamour, William Holden and Betty Hutton.  The song is "I Remember You."


We will remember George Michael.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

It's December 25th

"...and the young Savior was older by ten years.  On December 25th, the day celebrating his tenth year on earth, the little Prince of Peace was once again visited by the Three Wise Men.  They gave Him the same gifts they gave when He was a newborn babe in a manger.  And the little Price of Peace thanked the Three Wise Men while thinking, 'Frankincense again?  Dang.  I wanted a pony.'"
 The mass is ended.  Go in peace.  And have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Try THE HOLIDAY

Around this time of year while you're relaxing, you might want to put an entertaining movie with a warm Christmas holiday tone to it.  I have a romantic comedy to recommend.  It's got a delightful supporting role performance that got overlooked and wasn't included in the trailer.  The movie is 2006's THE HOLIDAY.  This is a romantic comedy written and directed by Nancy Meyers.  That means you're assured laughs, white folks having wacky times on the bumpy road to love, plus eye-candy visuals that make the movie look like a video catalogue for high-end home furnishings, clothing and accessories.
Another thing that gives it the Nancy Meyers touch -- THE HOLIDAY runs about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
That's about a good 20 minutes longer than it needs to be.  But that's what makes Nancy Meyers films work so well as in-flight movies.
The stars are Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black.  Let me tell you right now that this film made me look at Jack Black in a different way.  He's mature and more sophisticated here.  Not the hyper, in your face hipster of previous comedies.

As for the plot...well, just look at the trailer.  It's the kind of comedy that has a young, slim, very upscale blonde from sunny Hollywood wear designer high heels to walk in the snow -- making it possible for you to laugh when she wipes out while pulling her expensive carry-on luggage.
 Here you go.  Play the trailer.
The best part of this movie is not even in the trailer.  Veteran actor Eli Wallach gave a hip, totally cool and absolutely wonderful performance as the wise Hollywood insider.  I was working on national radio at the time I saw this movie.  I was on Whoopi Goldberg's weekday morning radio show.  She loved Eli Wallach.  Heck...what was there not to love?  The movie audience loved Wallach when I saw THE HOLIDAY.  During my on-air film review, I told Whoopi that I hoped Eli Wallach would get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for THE HOLIDAY.
He didn't get one.  But, fortunately, the Academy was wise enough to give him a well-deserved special Oscar for career achievement before his death in 2014.  Are you ready for this?  Eli Wallach never, ever got an Oscar nomination in his entire film career.  That stunned me.  Think of the great work Eli Wallach did in Elia Kazan's BABY DOLL,  the original THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, LORD JIM starring Peter O'Toole, HOW TO STEAL A MILLION starring Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn, CINDERELLA LIBERTY and many others through the years.

Along with Wallach, you'll see another familiar veteran face in THE HOLIDAY.  Remember the classic sitcom, MAUDE, starring Bea Arthur?   Bill Macy who played Maude's husband, Walter, is in THE HOLIDAY too.

Again, if you want to rent some fluffy movie entertainment with a Christmastime flavor and a fabulous supporting role performance, try THE HOLIDAY.  Eli Wallach cheerfully stole the film.  Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Anniversary for THE GRADUATE

"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me," the nervous young man says.  It is a Mike Nichols classic.  On December 21st in 1967, THE GRADUATE was released.  This movie was a big hit with critics and the public.  Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft would be in the Oscar race for Best Actor and Best Actress.  Hoffman would be on his way to stardom.  Bancroft had won the Best Actress Oscar for THE MIRACLE WORKER (1962).  Mike Nichols would win the Best Director Oscar for this film.  THE GRADUATE would be a nominee for Best Picture.
I'm one of those folks who feels that Mrs. Robinson, the predatory cat in an upscale suburban jungle of Southern California, is the most interesting character in the movie.                                              
Mrs. Robinson is intoxicated with her own privilege, independence, cunning and social class.  A college graduate is the middle-aged woman's sexual prey.  In secret, that is.  Mrs. Robinson is classy and decayed. Manipulative and smarter than the college graduate.

She's also a fierce protector.  She's out to protect her daughter from the graduate.  Just like in MILDRED PIERCE, we see that a mother and her daughter are involved with the same man.
Anne Bancroft was fascinating in this role.  It's one of her top screen performances.
I had a thought about other casting the last time I watched THE GRADUATE.  I'd like to know if you agree with me.

Had THE GRADUATE been made in the 1950s instead of the 1960s, Barbara Stanwyck could have played the absolute living hell out of that Mrs. Robinson role.  Can you just imagine?  Yep.  Barbara Stanwcyk would have totally rocked as Mrs. Robinson in THE GRADUATE.  That's my opinion.

One lesson I wish today's filmmakers would learn from classic films is how to make the frame, make the image, stand for something.  Utilize set decoration and cinematography.  Mike Nichols had Robert Surtees as cinematographer for THE GRADUATE.  His credits included Minnelli's THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Wyler's BEN-HUR, SUMMER OF '42, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and THE STING.  In my film studies class in college, our professor noted Nichols' use of the widescreen and set design to add to detail to character.  In the above shots, notice that the predatory Mrs. Robinson is framed with plants to give her the look of being a jungle creature.  Notice the animal print in her clothing.

In a famous frame with Dustin Hoffman's character, the professor noted how Nichols added to the eroticism of the scene with the way a lighting fixture is shot.  Look on the upper middle of the frame.  The shadow of the hotel room light fixture looks like a sex toy -- which is what Benjamin (Hoffman) basically is to the carnal Mrs. Robinson.
I noticed something similar in an older classic that starred Barbara Stanwyck.  When she makes her entrance as Phyllis, the femme fatale in Billy Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), look at the shadow of the light fixture on the upper right side of the frame with the barely-covered Phyllis.
We see her as the horny insurance salesman, Walter, sees her.  That shadow equals the sexual charge of the scene and Walter's excitement.  Walter hormones will lead him down a dangerous path.

Stanwyck was great in DOUBLE INDEMNITY.  Had THE GRADUATE been made in the 1950s, she could've been great in that too.















Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Let's Support FENCES

On Twitter, I re-tweeted a rave review of FENCES in VANITY FAIR.  I added "African American playwright August Wilson won 2 Pulitzer Prizes.  It took over 20 years to get at least 1 of those works on the big screen."  A Twitter reader wondered if what I wrote sent out the wrong message because, as he tweeted, "...the film COULD have been made..."  He's correct.  The film's star and director, Denzel Washington, was on TODAY being interviewed by Matt Lauer on Monday.  Washington said that Martin Scorcese could have directed the movie -- if he wanted to -- but Wilson wanted a black director for a cultural understanding of the material.  When Denzel said to Matt that he knows the smell of a black woman's hair when a hotcomb hits it on a Sunday morning, I laughed with recognition.  I grew up in South Central L.A. knowing that smell too.  Denzel Washington got major executive and financial support from Paramount Pictures.
August Wilson won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for FENCES in 1987.  He won a Pulitzer Prize for his play THE PIANO LESSON IN 1990.

The late August Wilson won TWO Pulitzers and the first movie version of one of those plays opens this coming Christmas Day.

I was a talk show host on VH1 when I saw the original production of FENCES on Broadway.  Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won Tonys for their performances in the Broadway revival.  I saw the original production because Courtney B. Vance, who played the son opposite James Earl Jones as the father, was a guest on my talk show.  James Earl Jones got his one and only Oscar nomination, in the Best Actor race, for recreating his hit Broadway performance in the film version of THE GREAT WHITE HOPE (1970).  His performance in FENCES was extraordinary. 

I've written before that the standing ovation applause and cheers James Earl Jones got were so mighty that I thought that racially diverse audience would wait for him at the stage door and carry him aloft down Broadway like Elizabeth Taylor as CLEOPATRA.
But there was never any buzz about about a film version starring James Earl Jones.  Let's face it:  This is why Motion Picture Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has pushed for more diversity.  The playing field has not been level in front of and behind the cameras in terms of equal opportunities.  When there was talk years ago of a possible FENCES big screen version possibly starring Eddie Murphy as the son, the director mentioned was Spike Lee.  I've interviewed Spike a couple of times.  The first time was on my VH1 talk show.  At that time, Spike was shooting his now-classic 1989 film, DO THE RIGHT THING.

On the TODAY Show, Matt Lauer said that Denzel's performance as MALCOLM X was one of the best, most memorable screen performances he'd ever seen.  Matt added that rarely had he seen an actor submerge so deeply into a role.  Washington was a Best Actor Oscar nominee for that work.  1992's MALCOLM X was directed by Spike Lee.  But even Spike Lee was frustrated by the lack of equal opportunities.  During my interview of the late Sydney Pollack, he mentioned that a project had been submitted to him by his agent to consider directing.  Years later, after my VH1 time, I was working on a local New York City weekday morning news show and interviewed Spike again.  I asked about works submitted to him to consider directing.  I asked if, for instance, he'd ever been considered to direct a BATMAN movie.  Spike's answer was pretty much, "Are you kidding?" and ended with "I'd love to direct a BATMAN movie."

There's also the money aspect.  In his TODAY interview, Denzel Washington told Matt Lauer that FENCES was the best material he'd had script-wise since 1984's A SOLDIER'S STORY directed by Norman Jewison (IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, MOONSTRUCK).  If you rent A SOLDIER'S STORY, listen to the audio commentary.  The film was based on a 1982 play that was written by a black playwright, Charles Fuller, and it won the Pulitzer Prize.  Fuller's play dealt with racism and a murder mystery in the military during WW2.  Jewison had traveled through the South in the 1940s and was in a town where a lynching had occurred.  He was passionate about getting this project on screen.  His IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT had won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1967.  However, according to Jewison, no studio wanted to make A SOLDIER'S STORY because it was a "black story" with a predominantly black cast.  Jewison offered to take way less money than he usually got to make it.  He pushed to make it, he did make it and the film was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 1984.  And Jewison was an Oscar-nominated white director who met with that studio resistance. 

The terrific @selfstyledsiren on Twitter added that "Hollywood wanted 'commercial appeal' which in their minds ruled out a lot of black talent."  So true.  I say that as a veteran network celebrity talk show host, entertainment reporter and as a black performer with longtime SAG-AFTRA union card.  That "commercial appeal" is another of saying that people of color are not "marketable" and won't bring in big bucks like white talent.  This affects us getting work and getting representation for work opportunities.  I know that from personal experience.  Even while I was on national TV, agents didn't think I had "commercial appeal" and turned me down for representation.  Scroll down to my I'M SEEKING WORK blog post from last week for more on that -- with video samples.

That "commercial appeal" barrier is why so many ethnic actresses turned to TV for employment when Hollywood had no good script offers after they'd received Oscar nominations.  Hollywood dropped the ball on equal opportunities.  Rita Moreno, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Taraji P. Henson and Jennifer Hudson all got 1 Oscar nomination and then went to TV for steady employment.

Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis also went to TV.  They have 2 Oscar nominations each.  No black actress in Hollywood history has more than two Oscar nominations to her credits.

Jennifer Lawrence is in her 20s.  She has 1 Oscar win and a total of 4 Oscar nominations to her credits.

I am so excited because, come next month, Viola Davis could make Oscar history if she's nominated for FENCES.  And I'm equally excited that FENCES seems to be getting promotion for overseas markets.  Look at this trailer.  In German.

I want FENCES to be a big hit.  Hollywood responds to big box office numbers.  Let's make that happen.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

CBS THIS MORNING on Musicals

Again, I saw a network news feature that made me wish I'd been asked to contribute a soundbite or two.  The reviews for LA LA LAND, a new movie musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, have been like love letters from movie critics.  Many critics predict that it will be announced as an Oscar nominee or Best Picture next month.  Because of the big buzz for this movie, CBS THIS MORNING had a Saturday feature on movie musicals.  The totally cool Anthony Mason voiced over a video package on the history of movie musicals.  The package asked if LA LA LAND could revive that genre.  I love musicals.  I fell in love with them in grade school the first time I saw a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie on local TV.
I'm also of the generation that eagerly awaited one particular evening on CBS every year -- the evening it had the special broadcast presentation of MGM's 1939 musical fantasy classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ starring Judy Garland.
I have notes to add to the Anthony Mason piece.  Some notes come from my VH1/CBS Late Night years.  On VH1, I was a veejay and talk show host who had the great opportunity to interview some stars of classic Hollywood musicals.  As for CBS Late Night, I was a monthly regular on THE PAT SAJAK SHOW. 

By the time MTV and VH1 music videos became daily fare on cable TV, big screen movie musicals were no longer in production as frequently as they were in the 1930s through the 1950s.  Society had changed.  Hollywood had changed.  Most of the original big screen musicals were now animated.  For a new generation, music videos were the new musicals that told a story.  Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and "Thriller" for example.   But there was a huge difference:  The purpose of music videos is to promote and market an artist and sell the song.  The music video sells the performer's product.  The purpose of the musical number in a good movie is to reveal character, express emotion and advance the story when mere spoken word is not enough.  Think of Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" in THE WIZARD OF OZ and her memorable introduction of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" during a poignant family scene in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.

Look at how Garland's dynamic "The Man That Got Away" blues number in A STAR IS BORN shows us that an unknown singer with a band does not realize how great a singer she truly is.  She's got star quality, a quality that will get her discovered and take her to spectacular Hollywood heights.
Think of Fred Astaire singing "Cheek to Cheek" in TOP HAT as he and Ginger Rogers dance into cinema history.
Look at how he's a clever professional dancer who keeps a Manhattan dance instructor from losing her job while he starts to win her heart with the "Pick Yourself Up" number in SWING TIME.
Another thing to keep in mind is that all those songs I just mentioned were written specifically for those performers to introduce in original screen musicals.  In their heyday, tunes that are now part of the Great American Songbook were introduced in movie musicals by such stars as Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Dick Powell, Frank Sinatra, Alice Faye and Doris Day.

The MTV and VH1 generation saw music videos that borrowed from classic movie musicals and their stars to market new music and its artists.  The early Whitney Huston music videos borrowed visually from a Fred Astaire number in THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY and an Audrey Hepburn number in FUNNY FACE which co-starred Fred Astaire.  Astaire's famous ceiling dance in ROYAL WEDDING was copied in a Lionel Richie video.  Paula Abdul borrowed from Gene Kelly MGM musicals.  Madonna kicked off her music video career imitating Marilyn Monroe's jazzy "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number from 1953's GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES in her 1980s "Material Girl" video.

Musicals can make money.  MARY POPPINS, an original movie musical, was a huge hit for Disney and helped a nation smile again the year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Before STAR WARS came along, THE SOUND OF MUSIC was a box office blockbuster for 20th Century Fox.  The studio would put that one back in the vaults and re-release it years later to make even more money.

Musicals can win Hollywood gold.  Yul Brynner won the Best Actor Oscar for THE KING AND I.  Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actress for WEST SIDE STORY.  George Chakiris was Best Supporting Actor for the same film.  Julie Andrews was Best Actress for MARY POPPINS.  Barbra Streisand won Best Actress for FUNNY GIRL, Liza Minnelli won Best Actress for CABARET.   Joel Grey won Best Supporting Actor for the same film, Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Supporting Actress for CHICAGO.  Jennifer Hudson was Best Supporting Actress for DREAMGIRLS.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951) and GIGI (1958) were directed by Vincente Minnelli.  Both won Oscars for Best Picture and both were turned into Broadway musicals in recent years.

WEST SIDE STORY (1961), MY FAIR LADY (1964), THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) and CHICAGO (2002) won Oscars in the Best Picture category.

Those were all musicals that originated on Broadway.

A few modern musicals did not get quite the attention I feel they deserved.  I saw HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH on stage.  The movie version rocked.  It really opened up the stage vehicle.  And if you wanted edgy, this was the tale of a German boy who has a sex change in order to go to America with a black G.I. and become a rock star.  He winds up with a band in a Kansas trailer park.
This 2001 movie musical is fresh, funny and fierce.  John Cameron Mitchell repeats his stage performance as Hedwig and he directed the film.

ONCE got the Oscar for Best Song of 2007.  A master director like Vincente Minnelli would have loved the innovative way musical numbers were seamlessly introduced in this simple, touching love story.  The original musical numbers came about so naturally.  A young woman listens to music on  her portable device as she walks down the street and sings along.  A couple of musicians who will fall in love sit in a music store, play instruments and sing.  You almost didn't realize you were seeing a musical number because the song flowed from such a ordinary moment involving music.
Director Julie Taymor gave us ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, a 2007 musical that used songs from the John Lennon & Paul McCartney catalogue to tell a love story set in the turbulent 1960s.  Evan Rachel Wood singing "If I Fell" gave my heart wings.  Bono and the late Joe Cocker were in the cast too.
Seth MacFarlane is a major fan of classic movie musicals.  On his animated TV series, FAMILY GUY, he recreated the celebrated Gene Kelly and Jerry the Mouse number from the 1940s MGM musical, ANCHORS AWEIGH.  But he substituted little Stewie from FAMILY GUY for the mouse.

One of the best movie musical numbers I've seen in years is -- are you ready? -- in a Seth MacFarlane comedy sequel about a trash-talking teddy bear and his human best friend.  The dancing bear number in the first minutes of TED 2 is so good that I stopped the DVD, rewound and replayed that number for a half-hour.  Fred Astaire would've enthusiastically applauded it.  The number is "Steppin' Out With My Baby," an Irving Berlin tune that Astaire danced to in MGM's hit musical, EASTER PARADE co-starring Judy Garland. Ted dances to the extended music track from the EASTER PARADE soundtrack on CD.  I know because...I own a copy.

Just like Astaire's numbers, the bear is shown in full frame for long shots as he dances.  The number does not have the hyper, cut-every-three-seconds editing that became the hallmark of MTV music videos.  Rent 2015's TED 2 and you'll see what I mean.  Oh, man, how I love that number!  The bear and that terrific chorus set that dance floor on fire!

From what I saw in the LA LA LAND trailer, the director seems to have been inspired visually by Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO.  (Heck even Hitch directed a musical.)
And, I'm sure, MGM musicals gave him even more visual inspiration.  Look at this MGM movie number.  Marge & Gower Champion dance to "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" in 1952's LOVELY TO LOOK AT.  This was a remake of ROBERTA, a 1930s musical in which this same song was danced to by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Now look at this trailer from LA LA LAND.  Pay attention to the visuals.
To see the Anthony Mason package on the rise, fall and return of the movie musical from the Saturday show, click onto CBS THIS MORNING after you go to CBSNews.com.  I'll see you at the movies.









Notes from Alice Faye and Don Ameche

If you're a fan of the late, great queen of Broadway...that legendary belter, Ethel Merman, then be sure to watch Turner Classic Movies ...