Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill Live (1997)

Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill Live is a documentary (including live performance footage) of Morissette's 1995-1996 tour to support her mega-bestselling CD Jagged Little Pill.

One scene in the documentary shows her band (sans Alanis) rehearsing for a concert at the Marts Center at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA on December 5, 1995.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sweet Charity (1966 musical, 1969 film)

The fantabulous Sarah Reid (who also gave us the Scranton reference in the movie musical Finian's Rainbow) found another Scranton reference in another classic musical--Sweet Charity.

Sweet Charity tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a lovelorn New York City dance hall hostess who dreams of having an old-fashioned romance--despite the fact that she repeatedly falls for Mr. Wrong. The musical is responsible for such classics as Big Spender, If They Could See Me Now, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, Where Am I Going, and I'm A Brass Band.

Music was written by Cy Coleman (Wildcat with Lucille Ball, The Will Rogers Follies, The Life), and lyrics by Dorothy Fields (Annie Get Your Gun, Ain't Misbehavin'). The book of the musical (based on the film Nights of Cabiria by Federico Fellini) was written by Neil Simon (The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys, Barefoot in the Park).

The Scranton reference appears in the beginning of Act II. Charity's latest beau Oscar invites her to go to church with him. She accepts and soon learns that Oscar's church is a little unusual, where their leader Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck preaches mostly of welfare and drug resolutions. Daddy Johann breaks out into a song titled Rhythm of Life, which includes the following lyrics:

Daddy, spread the gospel in Milwaukee,
Took his walkie talkie to Rocky Ridge,
Blew his way to Canton, then to Scranton,
'Til he landed under the Manhattan Bridge.

You can read the complete lyrics to Rhythm of Life by clicking here.

The original Broadway musical debuted in January 1966 and starred Gwen Verdon in the title role; it played for over 600 performances at the Palace Theater. The show was revived on Broadway in 1987 with Debbie Allen and Bebe Neuwirth. Ironically, the 2005 Broadway revival of Sweet Charity, starring Christina Applegate, was directed by none other than Scranton native Walter Bobbie.

A film version starring Shirley Maclaine and directed by Bob Fosse (Broadway's Chicago in 1975 and the films Cabaret and All That Jazz) was released in 1969. Sammy Davis Jr. performs Rhythm of Life in the film.

The DVD of the film version of Sweet Charity is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Click here to place a hold; if you'd like to reserve the CD soundtrack of the original Broadway cast recording, click here.

Much thanks again to Miss Sarah for another great Scranton musical reference.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The X-Files (1993-2002)

I received an email from Rob McIlvried this week, and he told me that he recalls several references to Scranton in an episode of the hit sci-fi series The X-Files.

The X-Files, which ran for 9 seasons from 1993 to 2002 on FOX (and continues to live on in reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel) stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as two FBI agents, Fox Mulder (the believer) and Dana Scully (the skeptic) as they investigate the strange and unexplained while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

The Scranton references occur in the first of a two-part episode in the second season titled Colony that originally aired on February 10th, 1994. In Colony, a newspaper ad placed to locate a certain doctor sets off the murder of several people with the same face. When Scully and Mulder locate another look-alike, they work to find him before the killer does. The episode also marks the first appearance of Agent Mulder's mother and father.

Both verbal references to Scranton are made by Agent Mulder (Duchovny). Scranton also appears as the setting of two scenes in Colony.

Following a scene set in the Woman's Care Family Services and Clinic in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Mulder and Scully have the following exchange at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.:

MULDER: I found these in my e-mail this morning... three obituaries.

SCULLY: Sent by whom?

MULDER: Nobody I know but obviously somebody who knows me.

(He clicks on a few keys and the text box expands on the monitor.)


MULDER: The deceased are Doctor Landon Prince of Scranton, Pennsylvania...

(He expands another box.)

Doctor Dale Gayhart of New York City...

(He brings up the third obituary.)

...and Doctor Harvey Buchanon of Tea Neck, New Jersey. All worked in abortion clinics. They died in separate arson fires.

Following the next brief scene set in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Mulder and Scully continue their investigation at the Globe and Mail in Binghamton, NY, where the city of Scranton is once again mentioned in the following dialogue:

(Mulder looks at a map. He goes over to it, Scully following.)

MULDER: If somebody really wanted to set us up, would they give us this little to go on? There's something bigger here, Scully. I'd be willing to bet there are more of these guys out there.

SCULLY: More victims?

MULDER: Unless we get to them first. The deaths follow a pattern... New Jersey, New York, Scranton...

The full script of the X-Files episode Colony can be ready online by clicking here.

Rob McIlvried also told me the show made several references to other areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania throughout its nine-season run.

Much thanks again to the clever eyes and ears of Rob McIlvried for this reference.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Judy McLane, Broadway Actress

If you're in New York City and attend a performance of the hit musical Mamma Mia! (based on the songs of ABBA) at the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre, you'll be seeing a native from the Scranton area performing the role of Tania.

Broadway actress Judy McLane was born in Olyphant, PA, though she proudly states in interviews that she was "raised near Scranton, Pennsylvania."

Coincidentally, Mamma Mia! is not McLane's first Broadway experience with a show written by ABBA founders Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus - in 1988, she understudied the role of Florence in their short-lived Broadway production of Chess.

An article about McLane's neighbors visiting the actress backstage after a performance of Mamma Mia! in New York City ("My, My, Backstage At the Show, Again") was published in the Namedropper section of the Scranton Times on Friday, June 30, 2006 (page C2) . You can read the full article online at the Scranton Times website by clicking here.

If you can't get to New York to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway, the official tour will be returning to the Scranton Cultural Center from October 24th through the 29th.

Thank again to endless fountain Judi K. for another great reference.

The Office Nominated For 5 Emmys

The hit NBC show The Office, which takes places at the ficticious Dunder-Mifflin paper distribution company in Scranton, PA (and has included several local references throughout its two seasons) has been nominated for 5 Emmy Awards, including Best Comedy Series and Best Actor in a Comedy for star Steve Carell.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Rebecca Anderson, Extra in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

While working as a crew member on the H.M.S. Bounty (a restored ship constructed for the 1962 classic Mutiny on the Bounty), Scranton native Rebecca Anderson was offered the chance to work as an extra in the recently released, record-setting blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley.

Scranton Times staff writer Josh McCauliffe recently wrote an article ("City Native Gets Part, Look Behind Scenes") about Anderson; it appeared in the Friday, July 7th, 2006 Lifestyles section of the Scranton Times. The article is also avaiable online from the Scranton Times website under the title "Local Woman in 'Pirates'".

In addition, webmaster James Minor wrote an article that mentions Rebecca Anderson on his website; the article is titled Discovering the H.M.S. Bounty that appeared on July 17, 2005.

Much thanks to Judi K. for the reference.

Also a great big THANK YOU to Scranton Times librarian Brian Fulton for locating the online article for me.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Finian's Rainbow (1968)

The divine Sarah Reid (or Miss Sarah, as she is known to the younger set) from the Lackawanna County Children's Library, recently told me of a film musical titled Finian's Rainbow whose lyrics literally ask Scranton, Pennsylvanians to beget (to sire, procreate or produce, especially as an effect or outgrowth).

Finian's Rainbow began as a Broadway show that opened in January 1948 and played for nearly 2 years and over 720 performances. Lyrics were written by E.Y. Harburg (1939's The Wizard of Oz) and Fred Saidy (Star-Spangled Rhythm), and the score was written by Burton Lane (On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever, Cafe Society).

The film stars the legendary Fred Astaire (Top Hat, Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn) and songstress Petula Clark (the #1 hit single Downtown); it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now).

Both the musical and the 1968 film version of Finian's Rainbow tell the story of mysterious Irishman, Finian, and his beautiful daughter Sharon, who arrive one day in a small Southern town of sharecroppers. The town has its own dreamer who thinks that he might be able to put the town on the map by crossing mint with tobacco so that it'll come mentholated. Fianian's journeyed to the town because he's captured a leprechaun's crock of gold and plans to plant it in the ground so it'll grow faster; but Og the leprechaun arrives, bent on retrieving his gold. Meanwhile, the bigoted Judge Hawkins is upset with the tobacco growers because they're not segregated, and plans on taking their land away. And when Sharon yells, "I wish to God you were black so you could know how it feels..." while standing right over the pot of gold, all hell breaks loose as wishes come true.

Near the end of the film, Senator Billboard Rawkins and the Passion Pilgrim Gospellers break out into a song titled The Beget. Scranton is mentioned in the lyric section below:

The Lats and Lithuanians, begat.
Scranton Pennsylvanians, begat.
Strictly vegetarians, begat.
And honorary Aryans, begat.
Startin from Genesis, they begat.
Heroes and menaces, begat.
Fat filibusterers, begat.

To read the complete lyrics to The Beget, as well as the full score of Finian's Rainbow, click here.

The DVD and VHS of Finian's Rainbow are available to borrow from The Lackawanna County Library System; to place a hold, click here. The CD soundtrack of the 1960 Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow is also available to borrow--a hold can be placed by clicking here.

For more information about the original Broadway musical, visit The Internet Broadway Database.

For more information on the 1968 film version, visit The Internet Movie Database.

Much thanks again to the exquisite Miss Sarah for this reference.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lauren Weisberger (1977- )

Did you know that the author of the bestselling book The Devil Wears Prada (now a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep), the ultimate tale of the boss from hell, was born and raised in Scranton, PA?

Lauren Weisberger was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on March 28, 1977. She lived in Scranton for 11 years before moving to Allentown, PA. She graduated from Cornell University with a BA in English in 1999 and spend some time to travel allover the world. Upon her return to the US, she worked as an Assistant to Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Magazine, Anna Wintour.

Her experiences at Vogue inspired Weisberger to write her first novel, The Devil Wears Prada, the story of recent college grad and aspiring writer Andrea Sachs. Though she dreams of writing for The New Yorker, circumstance leads Andrea to a one-year tenure working as an assistant to Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine. One year soon feels like twenty to Andrea as she, in short, spends the year listening to Miranda says "Jump!" and is forced to answer "Off which bridge?" to Miranda's incredible and outrageous demands.

In April 2003, at the age of 26, Weisberger's first novel, The Devil Wears Prada, became an immediate bestseller. Her second novel, Everyone Worth Knowing, was published in October 2005 and was also a bestseller. She is working on her third novel.

In July 2006, a film version of The Devil Wears Prada was released to great reviews and big box office. The film stars Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly and Anne Hathaway as Andrea Sachs.

Both of Weisberger's novels, The Devil Wears Prada and Everyone Worth Knowing, (including audio book versions) are available to borrow from Albright Memorial Library, as well as from other libraries throughout the Lackawanna County Library System.

Much thanks to Judi K. for this reference.

Photos of Lauren Weisberger and book jacket courtesy of press page on Miss Weisberger's official web site.