Friday, May 13, 2011

Garrison Keillor

Showing a very short acting list on IMDb, Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) must be considered a Bit Actor, but he is also one of my favorite people to listen to...and I bet I'm not alone.

GK, as he is known, only has one big-screen feature release, A Prairie Home Companion (2006), which was based on his popular radio program by the same name.  The film brings to life some of the story lines that are used in the radio program.  Specifically I remember the character, Guy Noir, played by Kevin Kline (b. 1947).  Noir is a private detective, and his stories are featured every week on "A Prairie Home Companion."  His part is written into the movie as a character who shows up during a live radio broadcast, which stars GK as the host.

Others in this movie are all A-List stars.  We see Lily Tomlin, Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl StreepWoody Harrelson, and even Lindsay Lohan, plus a few great cameos by Robin Williams and others.

Here is the problem with this movie.  You absolutely have to be familiar with the radio program to appreciate it.  If you haven't heard the program at least a few times, you won't have any idea what's going on...or why it is so funny  By writing a script this way, the producers had severely limited their audience, and their chance of having a hit.

I have included a link to the Amazon page for the radio program.  It is better than the movie, so start there.  After you understand GK and his crew, go watch the movie.  Otherwise it is a waste of great talent.

Missing from the movie cast is the wonderful sound effects technician, Fred Newman (b. 1952).  Fred is a mainstay on the radio program, and has reached rock star status among the (mostly) yuppie radio program audience.  Newman has 20 of his own titles on IMDb.

The rest of GK's titles are basically narrations for TV.  His biggest part was probably the Ken Burns series "The Civil War" where GK did the voice over of Walt Whitman. 

With his many other "A Prairie Home Companion" fans, I love Garry Keillor.  I look forward to the news from Lake Wobegone, and even to the commercials, though they get a bit repetitive.  And every week brings interesting musical talent as well. 

I enjoyed the movie!

(This blog was not brought to you by Powdermilk Biscuits.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Anniversary to My Blog

Today marks the beginning of Year #2 for the Bit Part Actors Blog.  I started my blog last May 10th in an attempt to retain my sanity and channel some creative thoughts to a place that may bring some entertainment to anyone who cares.  I hope it worked!  It has certainly been a learning experience.
I also wanted to bring more recognition to the people (and animals...and I did a robot once!) who play a smaller part in the movies and TV shows that we love.  These small parts are very important to the production, and can dramatically change the feel and quality of a story.

From my early days at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA, to my last Sons of the Desert meeting, I have always enjoyed movies, and after meeting several stars from the old days, I thought it would be good to share my experience and opinions.  The Internet is an easy way to make opinions and information public.  If everyone can share their own, first hand stories of the famous and less than famous, we will get a better picture of how Hollywood works.

My blog is not really a place for movie fans, but rather for buffs.  Buffs study and try to understand the movie in its entirety, rather than just watch it on the surface for entertainment.  I won't be talking about the latest Leonardo DiCaprio film (Inception 2010), but rather I may talk about Talulah Riley (b. 1985) who played 'The Blond' in that movie, and who previously worked with Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice in 2005.

I also look for connections in productions and careers, rather than simple collaborations.  An example of a connection would be the wonderful career of Michael Douglas, who is the son of Kirk Douglas, who worked with Burt Lancaster and John Wayne, among others.  There is influence there.  The elder Douglas learned a lot and I am sure he passed it along.  Now Michael has children, and I'll be watching if they take the acting plunge.  Cameron Douglas (b. 1978) already has five acting credits on IMDb.  Dylan (b. 2000) and Carys (b. 2003) may not be far behind.
Since I started this Blog, I have also gotten onto Facebook.  I have befriended many celebrities, who don't really know me.  It is interesting to see what they publish on Facebook, plus there are some great pics available.  But don't just latch onto big stars.  Angelina Jolie isn't going to read her Facebook page every day and respond to your questions or comments.  You can get much closer to Bit Actors though.

I have among my FB Friends, Johnny Crawford who played young Mark McCain on "The Rifleman."  And also Chuck McCann who has quite a few roles on IMDb, and used to be the very best Oliver Hardy impersonator.  You can get much closer to these guys.  Crawford sends notices of where he is appearing from time to time. 

And I am making money!!!  As you may know, the ads on a web site are there to rake in the money from the advertisers every time you click on a link.  In just one year, I have made a total of $8.00 from Google's ad program.  When I reach TEN BUCKS they will send me a check.  I hope it's before Christmas.  ;-)

I have been featured on the MovieFanFare blog on the Movies Unlimited site.  I joined the Classic Movie Blog Association, and I now have quite a few friends in the blogosphere.  I hate that word, but I am thankful for the interaction we all share.

In closing, and to paraphrase Steve Martin in L.A. Story (1991), I hope you have enjoyed the interesting word usement I structure.  I will continue to write until we run out of Bit Actors and Actresses to talk about.  (That may take quite a while.)  I am very thankful for the nice comments I have received, both in the blog and in my e-mails.  Please feel free to contact me either way.  I will always reply.