Category Archives: Television

Tuning In

Dear Friends,

We are writing today about a wonderful TV news program, which “tells it like it is,” The Rachel Maddow Show.

What we love about her is the fact that she really researches her topics fully and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  In this day and age where the news is hard to get, Rachel is a refreshing source of information.

In an article on PoliticusUSA, Jason Easley writes:

As the American people get more engaged and look for factual news and information, they are increasingly turning to MSNBC as the Rachel Maddow led network is growing three times faster in total viewers than Fox News in primetime.”

Click here for the full article:
Rachel Maddow
Of course, we think it would be great if she’d throw her hat in the political arena!  In the meantime, we’ll just continue tuning in to her show weeknights at 9pm ET/6pm PT on MSNBC.

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Only One More Day…

Dear Friends,

We hope that you are enjoying your weekend.  We just wanted to take a moment to remind you about the Tony Awards, hosted by Kevin Spacey, tomorrow night (Sunday).

They will be aired on CBS, starting at 8pm Eastern Time.
h_HostAnnouncement_1341

We’ve listed the main nominees in our Newsletter a couple of weeks ago (click here to read!) or you can click here to see all the nominees.

We can’t wait!

Best regards,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Memories On The Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday a film we produced played on NBC.  It was Judgement at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer.

Judgement at Nuremberg

We enjoyed it so much—it was so filled with the author, Abby Mann’s screenplay.  And, despite being thought of as too “intellectual and thoughtful,” it was one of our greatest successes! We just love the story about how the film came together and decided to re-share our story with you today (we originally posted the story below November 2014).

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S UNKNOWN TRIUMPH! 

In 1960, a teleplay was performed on Playhouse 90. The program was called Judgment at Nuremburg, which was a somber and serious piece.
Philip Langner of The Theatre Guild, Inc. received a script “over the transom”—as they say about unknown scripts. The Guild directors liked the script and “knowing” its virtual impossibility as a film, decided—with the author’s agreement—to have a play written and to produce it on Broadway.

At the time, Katharine Hepburn was playing Antony & Cleopatra at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, CT (created by Lawrence Langner). On a very remote possibility, Philip and the author, Abby Mann, drove to Stratford on a matinee day to see Kate.  After the matinee, they went to her cottage.  She opened the door and Philip said politely “Kate, you have a lovely suntan!”  Kate said with her typical Locust Valley lockjaw accent—“That’s not a suntan, those are spots!” Looking back, Philip always wondered if he should have replied, “well, they do look wonderful on you!”

Kate agreed to look at the t.v. production, which she did at The Theatre Guild building on 53rd Street. She liked the teleplay enormously and decided to work diligently to make it into a film.

She sent the play to Spencer Tracy and she succeeded! Tracy sent it to Hollywood producer, Stanley Kramer, who produced it in 1961 with the most incredible cast for such a serious—and therefore risky—film.  Kramer persuaded all 9 film stars to take modest salaries.  The film was released in 1961.

Kramer was the Producer, Philip Langner the Associate Producer, and Abby Mann was the Screenwriter. The incredible cast included:

  • Spencer Tracy
  • Richard Widmark
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Max Schell
  • Montgomery Clift
  • Judy Garland
  • William Shatner
  • Warner Klemperer

Thus, one of the Great War films of all time was created.

And who got it done? Katharine Hepburn.

AND WHO WAS NEVER TOLD ABOUT HER TRIUMPH? The World. 

Judgment at Nuremburg was nominated for 11 Academy awards, winning 2 for Best Actor (Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mann). The film was recently entered into the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

Best regards,
Philip and Marilyn

PS—The discussion in this film on the subject of war is so important, and of course, it is wildly pertinent in today’s world with North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Yemen all hoping(?) for some war excitement.

And also: we bought a DVD of Judgement at Nuremberg at Amazon, which is currently for on sale for $12.00.  To order your copy, click here.

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Classic Movies on the Small Screen

Dear Friends,

Today we want to write to you about a lovely happening brought to us by our daughter.

I am speaking about the films that are available every day on Turner Classic Movies (here in New York, it’s Channel 82).

We have been going about our business for years, only really watching PBS and a handful of news stations, but we never seem to branch out and explore other channels.  Finally, our daughter “made us” turn to Channel 82 and we have been extremely enthusiastic ever since!

TCM actors

The best thing about TCM is that they play movies you’d never get to see normally and when you watch them, you realize that you are getting to watch the best movies that were made between 1930-1950!

Many of these films are absolutely wonderful!  In analyzing them, we find that they are very much like Broadway plays.  Back then, movies had not gone into space or battled aliens or imaginary characters—they simply had the feel of the stage, however, you were just viewing them on the big (and now small) screen!

It is so interesting to watch great stars like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford just by changing the channel.  We love this era of movies, where everyone spoke so passionately about life!

The next time you find yourself in front of the television, do turn it on to Turner Classic Movies—you never know what you’re going to find! For example, last night’s line-up was The Good Earth (1933), a wonderful film adaptation of the novel by Pearl S. Buck.  That was followed by the entertaining musical Gold Diggers (1933) starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell.  After that was a favorite of ours, Holiday, starring Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn.  All around, it was an entertaining evening!

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

PS—speaking of Bette and Joan, the FX series Feuds: Bette and Joan, starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, only has only weeks left—don’t miss out!  Sundays at 10pm (Eastern Standard Time) on the FX channel.

feud poster

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Bette & Joan.

Dear Friends,

Last week on television we watched a fantastic movie, What Happened to Baby Jane?.  As I think we all tend to do as time passes by, we forget just how good something is until we happen upon it once again.

It stars two of the most renowned actresses: Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.  Their on-and-off stage acrimony, has them permanently linked even after all these years.

In fact, their fighting was so famous that their story is now the feature of FX’s series “Feud: Bette and Joan,” starring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as the iconic stars Davis and Crawford respectively.

According to Ryan Murphy (creator/writer/director), “what was really interesting to explore was what a tragedy the last 15 years was in the lives of these women, and how they deserved so much more.”

feud

 

The show focuses on more than just the glamour of these two glamourous stars of the big screen, but the trials and tribulations of what it means to get older as a woman in Hollywood—something their modern counterparts say is all too familiar.

“Feud” airs Sunday nights at 10pm on FX.  You can read more about it at the New York Times and you can watch it online here.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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Live “Theatre”

Dear Friends,

We are writing you today about a most interesting television event that took place last night—the musical Hairspray Live on NBC at 8pm (New York time).

It was so interesting to watch this musical, which instead of being rehearsed and running on Broadway for years, one could tune in for one night only on your television screen.

So here are our thoughts about the evening:

It was certainly interesting to see a full-scale musical, with all the actors/singers/dancers/choreography that one could possibly want.

hairspray

It was not like seeing a Broadway musical.  One of its disadvantages was the fact that there must have been at least 30 commercial interruptions throughout the evening.   These interruptions made it very disruptive and this was more tedious than seeing it all at one time.  In this regard, it was very much like a television show, where the commercials were inserted into any—and all—parts of the show.

So we said to ourselves “this is certainly not like seeing Hairspray on Broadway, but on the other hand we do not have to pay for it and do not have to leave our house.  However, the interrupts caused choppiness AND we have to see it on a 3’x4’ television screen, which is nothing like having 40 actors on a Broadway stage.”

Our final summary: “it’s a very good television show, but nothing like the play.”

If you’d like to read the USA Today Review, click here.

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

 

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