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Nolan's Newsstand
Tampa, Florida
My personal headlines and those of the crazed fan communtiy!
All the sick news I'm quick to print! A newsletter and magazine in one                            Publisher and Editor, Nolan B. Canova
Vol. 1, No. 8            This edition is for May 8--14, 2000
Hello, everyone, this is Nolan. The last day of this issue's date is Mother's Day. My regular readers will remember I dedicated the Easter issue to Mrs. Ann van Sickle, who I described as one of my "surrogate" mothers. My own mother died 27 years ago.
 Well, I'd like to dedicate this Mother's Day issue to the memory of my mom, who never really found what she was looking for and died young, aged 41. I also want very much to simultaneously dedicate this issue to the first "surrogate" mom I had in adult life who made holidays bearable: Mrs. Barbara Castellano. She is frequently mentioned in our histories (as is her husband, Corey's father, Leo) as a generous and giving person without whose..er..cooperation...our band may not have ever gotten off the ground!
"The World of Nolan" goes before cameras
TV's "Jason and the Argonauts" no substitute for 1963 stop-motion version
  I wasn't even going to fool with this 4-hours-over-2-nights TV-movie, so I let Sunday's (5-7-00) opening 2-hour block go by. Then a friend of mine, Steve, actually drove to my job to tell me how great it was and the effects were unbelievable and I gotta watch the rest of it, if for no other reason than to give it a semblance of a review for this column.  Well, it was a semblance of a movie, so that part turned out to be easy.
  I can't comment on the first 2 hours, of course, so I have to assume what I saw Monday was representative. Here goes...
  I'll give the production team credit for period costumes and nice location scenery (as computer-enhanced as that was).I'll even give them credit for a pretty well-written script (for a TV-movie) if a little over-wrought with soap opera. But, I don't know if I'd go all the way to "superior."
  My favorite effects scene was the "iron/robot" bull or whatever that thing was in a royal test where Jason has to tame it. Nice, rusty color on the "bull"--somewhat reminicent of the coloring of Harryhausen's "Colossus" from the original pic--and impressively smooth animation. Then, Jason has to sow the "children of the hydra's teeth" (that's what they called it in the original pic; I don't remember what they called it here) into the ground plowed by his now-tamed ox (oh, maybe that's what that thing was).
  Here's where we get to compare the classic skelton fight with this version. OH MY GOD was it AWFUL!!  The creatures rise from the ground and become some sort of "plant-skeleton." Similar to skeletons from the chest up, but distorted, and twisted plant roots from the chest down. So they're immobile!!
 Ray Harryhausen, creator of the original picture's special effects, can rest comfortably knowing his stand-out signature piece will continue to stand the test of time. (I almost want to accuse the new version's FX team of sabotaging the skeleton fight out of respect for Harryhausen......naaaaaaahhhh!)
 OK, Jason wins the fight (shocker), there's more soap-opera as the king's daughter helps him plot his escape. Lots of sword-fighting. Jason gets to the plateau where the golden fleece rests on a high branch of a tree situated on the edge of a cliff.  Well, surprise, it's guarded by a non-fire- breathing dragon. (Endangered species?)
  This creature is well done, but is it me, or does every big lizard to come down the pike in the last 7 years look like a cross between "Jurassic Park" and Dragonheart"? So it's an impressive, but derivative-looking monster somehow.
  OK, Jason defeats the dragon (no..it does not compare favorably excitement-wise with the 7-headed hydra battle from the original), siezes possesion of the fleece and now realizes his power and destiny to rule. Along the way, lots and lots more swordfighting and shield-weilding, crashes of cymbals and screaming. We get to the end, Jason gets the girl (king's daughter) and rules the kingdom. The End.
  I give credit to admirable performances by Frank Langella and Dennis Hopper(!) rulers and kings of their respective kingdoms. Jason London bears a resemblance to a young Kevin Sorbo, so that must have influenced the casting department in his snatching the lead role. In all fairness, he played it with strength and sensitivity.
  But, really...do yourself a favor and rent the 1963 original, settle down with a big bucket of popcorn and revel in a true modern-day classic! It'll never let you down.

   True to the statement I make on my main homepage, I was a guest again on "UFOs and Metaphysics" by way of Tampa Public Access Wednesday night,5-10-00. (Technically, that name changed in March to Tampa Bay Community Network.) The UFO show is produced by Malcolm Hathorne. I usually tech-direct. Wednesday, Mal wanted to train one of our crew (Tom Lech)in the ways of directing, so I could guest. We talked about 970WFLA's decision to drop the Art Bell show, aka "Coast-to-Coast", from its schedule after Art's retirement last month. We both expressed disappointment at the sad state of affairs for metaphysical pop-culture.
   Then, Thursday night (5-11-00), roles reversed and I produced and hosted my very first special for Public Access (I'm still going to call it that for a while) called "The World of Nolan." (I can hear it echoing now--"Nolan's World! Party tiiime! Excelleeent!") Malcolm was the technical director and did a commendable job. My guests were Brandon-based movie make-up artist Corey Castellano, Clearwater actor/FX model Mike Scott, and the above-mentioned Tom Lech, acting workshop teacher.
  Corey touched on many various aspects of special effects movie make-up. He brought many props and examples of his work. We couldn't do any commercials for "The Patriot", but I managed to sneak into the conversation that Corey was on the FX crew for that film.
  His segment on the special went very well, I thought. Mike Scott talked along with Corey for the most part, because he was/is one of Corey's FX models. But Mike also plays the lead in several short subjects made in Pinellas County for that P.A. station with producer Eric Avant, as well as starring in my video episode, "The Horror Writer", scheduled for broadcast June 25, 2000, 8:00pm Ch. 20. Mike brought to the set a full head-and-shoulders lifecast bust that Corey made of Mike. The bust is made of Ulra-cal (super-plaster) and sealer.
   The second half of the show was devoted to Tom Lech's talk of the importance of professionalism when breaking into acting. He demonstrated the dos-and-dont's of the 8 X 10 glossy, for example. Then went on to tell stories of famous people he had met and known thru acting and plays. He showed pictures of many of them together with him. (My favorite story is the one where, after going to a bar, Tom witnessed ex-Hollywood Square Paul Lynde punch a cop!)
  Producing a show like this is very stressful, but I'm always glad to have done it afterwards. Much like having a rock band.
   "The World of Nolan" showtimes:
Wed.,June 7,2000, 8:00--9:00pm, Ch.20 in Hillsborough County Fri., June 9,2000, 7:05--8:05pm, Ch.19 in Greater Tampa only  
Sat., June 10,2000, 10:05--11:05pm, Ch.19, Greater Tampa only  
All contents this page are 2000 by Nolan B. Canova

 

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