Production Sound & Video

Spring 2023

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12 PRODUCTION SOUND & VIDEO – Spring 2023 Spring! In his poem "Locksley Hall," Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, "In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of working on award shows." OK, as most of you know, Alfred didn't do the Oscars, Grammys, or any other television specials. The gentle poet within him wasn't ready for the chaos that comes with that territory. I looked up Locksley Hall, thinking it might have been the location for one of the long-forgotten award shows from the past like The CableAce Awards, The Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Awards, TV Land Awards, Guys Choice, The Blockbuster Entertainment Awards (Sidenote: There is still a Blockbuster store open in Bend, Oregon—be kind, rewind), The Soap Awards, The American Comedy Awards, or The Golden Globes. Upon further review, The Golden Globes has returned after a year's absence. My research found that none of the events listed here took place at Locksley, but the way venues change names, who can tell. I checked for new naming rights and even tried Everything Bagel and Locksley Hall. No luck. In addition, I found no relationship between Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the famously talented audio mixer, Tom Lord- Alge, although there is a possibility that both crossed paths with Keith Richards. In the '50s and '60s, our dad owned and managed a couple of movie theatres in Hastings, Nebraska. There was another theatre (and another owner) in town and the two theatres had to bid against each other to book movies. For that reason, The Academy Awards was a big deal. If one of the pictures that dad booked won Oscars, especially the big five, Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Best Director, and Best Sound, more patrons bought tickets and more popcorn was consumed. Fred Teller serving up popcorn at the Strand Theatre Ric Rambles by Ric Teller The popcorn digression: When you go to see a movie, popcorn is often the snack food of choice. That was not always the case. In Iowa, where they grow lots of corn, a man named Myron "Mike" Blank, who was in the movie theatre business, figured out a way to sell popcorn. That was a pretty good idea. It was readily available, inexpensive, and irresistibly aromatic. Pairing movies and popcorn caught on. Soon everyone was doing it. They still do. Myron was dad's first cousin. The first time I worked on the show, some thirty years ago, the personal history of the moment did not escape me. I was backstage at The Academy Awards, wearing a tuxedo (yes, a rented one). I sent dad a sweatshirt and a program. A few years later, I sent him an Oscar jacket. He could occasionally be seen wearing it while walking down Second Street, no doubt, the only person in Hastings to do so. In those days, the show was still crewed by ABC, and it was NABET. I was neither. They did things a little differently than we did, but our end goals were the same. The NABET folks were very interested in having me join, but the initiation fee was sky high, and the prospect of doing any other work for them was slim. The first year, I didn't join, but in my second year, they were insistent. I still believed the initiation fee was far too expensive, so as a compromise, I brought $2K in cash and offered that. It was unsatisfactory. I ducked the "donation" again and the third year, I did the show, it became IATSE. Whew. I've worn many A2 hats at the Oscars, including guest musician setup, patch guy, putting lavs on talent, and taking care of host mic needs—one gentleman had several wardrobe changes in the show, each one a different, beautiful black tuxedo. I inquired why change from one suit to the next when they were so similar. Because if he wore it on TV, he got to take it home. Cabela's turned me down on that same deal. By far, my favorite assignment has been working with the terrific Oscar Orchestra. For many years, under the direction of Bill Conti, nearly all the music was performed live. Not so anymore. It has been my honor to meet and get to know so many of the finest players anywhere, none finer than Gene Cipriano, who passed last year at the age of 94. Cip was probably the most recorded woodwind player in history. I think the "probably" is an unnecessary qualifier. His professional career began in the 1940s and in 1958, Gene was asked to join the orchestra at the Oscars for the first time. That year, they accompanied Debbie Reynolds who sang "Tammy," Dean Martin performed "All the Way," and (find it on YouTube) "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Rock Hudson and Mae West. Cip was an important part of the Academy Awards Orchestra in the neighborhood of sixty times. Let that settle in for a minute. He was a kind, funny, engaging talent who will be missed by everyone who knew him. Yo! One final note about the 1958 Academy Awards, the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Bridge on the River Kwai was presented to Pierre Boulle, a Frenchman who had written the source novel but had no hand in writing the script, and in fact, could not speak English. The two men who wrote the script, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, had been blacklisted and

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