Twenty One, The Quiz Show Scandals

Posted in Quiz Show Scandal, Youtube Favs on November 7th, 2011 by Willie

A movie I always loved was Quiz Show, the 1994 film directed by acting legend Robert Redford.  The movie is about the infamous practice of game show rigging that went on in the 1950s, especially at NBC with their hit show “Twenty One.”  Proclaiming to audiences that the questions to the answers were kept in a secure bank vault, the reality was that the contestants were outright told the answers before the broadcast, and were also told when to take a dive when the audience grew tired seeing them win.  It was a stunning fraud perpetrated to keep rating high and sell the sponsor’s products, in this case Geritol, a “tired blood” supplement.  The movie focused on Columbia University teacher Charles Van Doren, a handsome, well bred, and well spoken intellectual, and Herbert Stempel, an unemployed everyman from Queens who was asked to take a dive.  Stempel went along with the fraud because he was promised a future on television which he never received.  Incensed by NBC kicking him out the door, Stempel blew the whistle on the whole charade, eventually getting the attention of federal prosecutors in Washington DC who helped blow the lid off the thing.  The movie is great because its a rich and sumptuous look at the glamorous side of late 50s New York City, precipitating the look and feel of shows like “Mad Men” and “Pan Am.”  What I have below is the actual episode of the show that the movie was based on, so you can see for yourself where reality differs from the movie.  The most striking thing about watching the actual Van Doren/Stempel contest is what amazing acting these guys did in the phoniest of situations.  They were just regular guys with no entertainment backgrounds asked to put on a show in front of 50 million people.  It’s truly remarkable.  I’m also including the trailer for Quiz Show just to entice you to watch in case you haven’t seen it.

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Greatest Rock Vocalists #1, Little Richard, Good Golly Miss Molly

Posted in Greatest Rock Vocalists, Little Richard, Youtube Favs on October 7th, 2011 by Willie

Little Richard is the greatest vocalist in rock and roll history.  He is the man that was James Brown’s #1 influence, the man Paul McCartney copied, the man who first employed Jimi Hendrix, and the man that arguably started rock and roll with the second he let out his primal rock and roll roar for the first time.  Little Richard had the voice of a super-being out of a comic book.  His vocal chords were just blessed with the most perfect construction necessary to start a world wide revolution, and they did.  Oh yea, he also played a mean piano as you can see in the glorious video below.  Yea, this was an odd early 90s promo video for the John Goodman movie King Ralph, but God bless that movie for giving Little Richard another spotlight to elevate his classic hit “Good Golly Miss Molly,” to an absurd level of perfection.  He just tears the roof off, proving that even at an advanced age, he hadn’t lost a lick of talent.  Richard’s voice really was one of the most remarkable miracles in the history of music, and there is no one that can take away from him.  Watch the hell out of this video below and just try to find someone with a better voice.  It’s impossible.

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Jeff Bridges, The Man in Me

Posted in Bob Dylan, Jeff Bridges, Youtube Favs on May 31st, 2011 by Willie

For part 77 of my countdown, I got Jeff Bridges performing “The Man in Me” at a Lebowski Fest in Los Angeles.  The song of course was featured beautifully in the Coen Brothers ultra cult classic, “The Big Lebowski,” when the Dude is riding that magic rug.  Dylan wrote this song for his 1970 LP New Morning.  It’s a gorgeous folk rock ballad about love from a man’s perspective, featuring an aching lead vocal and beautiful background vocals.  I think it’s one of Bob’s more touching melodies, and I’m glad its popularity is enhanced by its inclusion in the film.  Jeff Bridges does a really good job crooning this, and it speaks highly to his character to attend a Lebowski Fest and give his fans something so personal and fun.  So, check this video out, and share it with your friends, its really great.

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