Monday, November 27, 2006

The Ellen DeGeneres Show, November 27, 2006

It's always interesting when you're watching a talk show and a guest or audience member happens to mention that he/she is from Scranton, PA.

Today's Ellen DeGeneres Show, dubbed "the celebrity look-a-like show," featured videos of viewers who resembled several Hollywood stars. Audience members were asked to guess which celebrity these videotaped viewers looked like. One videotaped female audience member said she hailed from Scranton, PA and stated that people have told her she looks like Michael J. Fox.

An interesing reference, isn't it?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Santo Loquasto (1944 - )

Photo courtesy of AP Photo Archive

Being a huge fan of the films of Woody Allen and having seen Julia Roberts's Broadway debut in Three Days of Rain this past summer (which included truly remarkable sets), you can imagine my astonishment that the person responsible for the look of these (and numerous other) productions was born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, PA. His name is Santo Loquasto.

Santo Loquasto was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on July 26, 1944. He recieved a B.A. in English Literature from King's College in Wilkes-Barre. He also designed sets and costumes for Showcase Theatre in Wilkes-Barre (now located in Exeter, PA). He earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree from Yale Drama School in 1969.

Soquasto began his professional career as a set designer on Broadway in 1972; ironically, one of the first shows he worked on was the original Broadway production of That Championship Season, written and directed by Scranton native Jason Miller.

For more than 30 years, Loquasto has worked on numerous Broadway productions doing both set and costume design for shows including 1989's Grand Hotel (for which he won the 1990 Tony Award), Neil Simon's 1991 play Lost in Yonkers, 1999's Fosse (Tony Winner for Best Musical) and 2002's Movin' Out (based on the songs of Billy Joel). In 2006, Loquasto was the set designer for the Broadway play Three Days of Rain, which marked the stage debut of Julia Roberts. In addition to his 1990 Tony Award for Grand Hotel, Loquasto also received Tony Awards in 1989 (Best Scenic Designer for Cafe Crown) and 1977 (Best Costume Designer for The Cherry Orchard).

Most of Loquasto's film work as a production designer has been with legendary directory Woody Allen. His work with Allen (a collaboration that includes 21 films) began with 1987's Radio Days and also includes Crimes & Misdemeanors, Shadows & Fog, Bullets Over Broadway, Mighty Aphrodite and Sweet & Lowdown. Loquasto's last film with Woody Allen was 2004's Melinda & Melinda.

His other films include Big, directed by Penny Marshall and starring Tom Hanks, Desperately Seeking Susan starring Madonna, Falling in Love with Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep, She-Devil with Meryl Streep and Roseanne, Bright Lights Big City with Michael J. Fox, and 1981's The Fan with Lauren Bacall.

Loquasto also worked in film as a costume designer for such films as Desperately Seeking Susan, three films by Woody Allen (Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy, and Zelig), and the 2001 television adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical Fosse.

On June 10th, 2006, Loquasto returned to his hometown of Wilkes-Barre to receive the Governor's Awards for the Arts award.

Loquasto will also be featured in the 2007 documentary World Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans & the Movies.

The Lackawanna County Library System has several copies (on both VHS and DVD) of films that include production design by Loquasto including Big, Desperately Seeking Susan, and many of his films with Woody Allen. In addition, the collection includes a VHS of the Tony-winning musical Fosse.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Green Acres (1965), Season 1, Episode 14

Don McKeon emailed me with the following:

"There is an episode of Green Acres entitled 'What Happened in Scranton?' which aired in the 1965-66 season of the hit comedy. Whatever happened (we never find out) involved Oliver's mother."

Green Acres is the classic 60s sitcom (also a spinoff of Petticoat Junction) that starred Eddie Albert as Oliver Douglas, a New York attorney who decides to become a farmer in the bizarre town of Hooterville, much to the dismay of his metropolitan wife Lisa (the late, great Eva Gabor).

On December 22, 1965, during its premiere season on CBS, an episode of Green Acres titled "What Happened in Scranton?" aired for the first time. In the episode, Lisa discovers to her horror that Hooterville has no beauty parlor, so she takes it upon herself to set up one of her own. Not surprisingly, Lisa is a success beautifying the wives of the local farmers. But her business proves to have an negative effect on the community when the wives refuse to do any of their customary chores, for fear of ruining their glamorous new hair-dos.

I've never seen the "What Happened in Scranton?" episode of Green Acres, so I have no idea if Scranton is mentioned anywhere in the episode aside from the title. If anyone has seen it and could give me more information, please email me at

Green Acres: The Complete First Season (featuring the episode "What Happened in Scranton?") is available on DVD through the Lackawanna County Library System; click here to place a hold.

Much thanks again to Don McKeon for this reference.

UPDATE 11-16-06

"I can help you sort out a mystery . . . somewhat . . .

I just happened to see the “What Happened in Scrantonepisode of “Green Acres the other night. The episode involves Mrs. Douglas trying to start a Beauty Parlor in Hooterville. She asks her New York mother-in-law (also “Mrs. Douglas,” of course) for help in obtaining a hairdresser; mother-in-law happens to know a hairdresser who can be (in essence) blackmailed into doing things by mentioning to him the word “Scranton,”
which presumably reminds him of some dark deed which he does not want brought up (the significance of Scranton is never further explained).

Much thanks to Brent C. Dickerson for this update. And, if you get a chance, check out his two excellent websites: