Thursday, July 31, 2008

Request for Information Regarding W-B Based Film Companies "De Frenes and Company" or "BDF Films"

A reader of this blog, Mike Champlin, recently sent me a question that I need your help with. He writes:

"Hi Bill-

"I saw your blog and thought you might be the right person to ask about this company 'De Frenes and Company, Wilkes-Barre, PA' which produced films from 1920 to well into the 1950s.

"Is there any institution in Wilkes-Barre that may have information about this company, or its sister company 'B.D.F Films'?

"I am doing research on a film this company produced in 1921 'A Movie Trip Through Film Land'. The goal would be to research what became of the production company and to discover if any of their records or production materials survive. Thank you for taking the time to read this and considering my request. Any help would be most appreciated.

Mike Champlin"

I did refer Mike to both the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes-Barre and the Luzerne County Historical Society. BUT I need your help, too. If there are any local history or movie buffs out there who are familiar with either De Frenes and Company or BDF Films (both now defunct, but originally based in Wilkes-Barre, PA), will you PLEASE help Mike by emailing me with any information you have? Or you can even leave me a message in the Meebo box on the lefthand side of the blog.

Thanks for your question, Mike, and I'll do my best to seek an answer for you. But if you find it first, please email me too so I can post the info here in the blog.

Thanks :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Entertainment Weekly, (July 25, 2008, Issue #1003)

On page two of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (the Letters Page), is a brief box detailing this past weekend's The Office Games, which were held in Scranton, PA, hosted by cast member Mindy Kaling. It begins, "Beijing's got nothing on Scranton, PA." Readers were also invited to log on to EW's PopWatch Blog to put in their suggestions for The Office Games. To read the EW blog entry (some of the comments are quite funny), click here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

David Lepore, Set Designer and Emmy Winner for "Come On Over"

David Lepore of Wilkes-Barre recently won an Emmy Award from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The Emmy was for Best Graphic Arts-Set Design for the regional children's show Come On Over, filmed and televised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lepore shares the award with co-set designer Bob Phillips.

Come On Over won a total of 5 Emmy Awards on June 7th,

Click here to read the article from the Citizens' Voice.

Congratulations, David. Well done!

Thank you to Evelyn Gibbons for this reference.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Kelly" from "The Office" To Visit Scranton July 19th; "Kevin" in The Electric City the 25th and 26th

UPDATED 7/11/08

I have good news to report for fans of NBC's The Office--not one, but TWO cast members have planned visits to Scranton, both scheduled for July.

Mindy Kaling, who portrays Kelly, will be in Scranton on Saturday, July 19th at The Mall at Steamtown to celebrate the release of The Office Official Board Game and The Office Official DVD Board Game. This will be Mindy's second visit to Scranton (her first being The Office Convention last October). Mindy will also officiate “The Office Games” all day, starting with a 2k Fun Run and ending with a beet-eating contest. In between, there will be trivia contests and an autograph signing session. Proceeds from the day's events will benefit United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Scranton.

On Friday, July 25th, Brian Baumgarten (who portrays Kevin on the show), will be in Scranton to visit local landmarks. Baumgarten is also scheduled to attend The Counting Crows/Maroon 5 concert (with Special Guest Sara Bareilles of "Love Song" fame) at the Toyota Pavillion at Montage Mountain on Saturday, July 26th. It's not too late to purchase tickets for the concert by clicking here. This will be his third visit to Scranton in the past 2 years.

For more information on these two upcoming visits, click here. To register, click here.

UPDATE 7/11/08 - On a related note, my colleague Martina S. sent me the following email:


I don't know if this works for your blog, and maybe you already read the article on the Scranton Times website about The Office cast members winning 50,000 dollars for the Children's Advocacy Center of Northeastern PA on the Celebrity Family Fued. I didn't see the show, but usually they discuss the charity at the beginning of the show."

Click here to read the article in the Scranton Times.

Kudos, Martina!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Crawford O. "Bob" Swartz, Composer of "Home on the Range" (1855-1932)

It's a piece of American music that brings back memories of a nostalgic time and a simpler life. It was President FDR's favorite song. You may know this timeless tune as Home on the Range, but the original title was "Colorado Home" (Prospectors' Song)--and the composer was Scranton native Crawford O. "Bob" Swartz.

Crawford O. "Bob" Swartz was born in Scranton on March 26, 1855 and lived with his family (his parents and his sister Laura) on Grandview Street. In his late teens/early twenties, Swartz set out for Leadville, Colorado to seek his fortune as a gold prospector.

During a stormy winter in 1885, Swartz would gather with a group of friends and musically-inclined fellow prospectors at a local shanty he nicknamed the Junk Lane Hotel. It was there where Swartz composed the music and lyrics for a song he titled Colorado Home, or Prospector's Song. The song began with the lyrics "Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play."

In a letter to his folks back home in Scranton, Swartz wrote how excited he was of his composition; he also admitted that "everyone helped make it up. If it keeps on going, it will become a popular western song." This letter, which included the lyrics to the first verse of the new song, would become a significant piece of evidence years later when the song's authorship came into question.

Swartz returned east a few years later and resided on Grandview Street in Scranton; he also worked for several years at the Lackawanna Round House. and sang Prospectors' Song to his parents and sister. Though all loved the song, nothing more was thought of it--that is until a few years later when a new and very familiar-sounding melody titled Home on the Range began to become a fixture on a brand new invention called radio. Though the melody and the lyrics of the first verse was exactly the same as Shwartz's Colorado Home, the remaining lyrics of the song were completely changed from the perspective of a gold prospector to a cowboy's point-of-view.

Crawford O. Swartz died in Scranton on March 12, 1932.

Though he never enjoyed any success or credit for Colorado Home during his lifetime, his sister Laura published the song in 1934 as Swartz originally penned it. After an Arizona couple, William and Mary Goodwin, filed lawsuit against use of what they considered their composition of Home on the Range, Laura (with the letters Swartz send in the late 1800s as proof), won the lawsuit, thus giving Swartz credit for the music of the song, as well as for co-writing the lyrics to what we now know as Home on the Range (with Swartz sharing lyric credit with Bill McCabe, Bingham Graves, et. al. for the additional and/or verses not originally included in Colorado Home).

However, controversy over the authorship of Home on the Range is still disputed today. The song, which is the state song of Kansas, is often solely credited to Dr. Brewster M. Higley.

The Mineral Information Institute also includes information about Swartz and Home on the Range on their website. To read more, click here.

Click on any of the following links to reserve CDs by a variety of artists that have recorded Home on the Range: Frank Sinatra; Peter, Paul & Mary; Roy Rogers; Mannheim Steamroller; and local recording artists The Lyric Consort.

A GREAT BIG THANKS to B.R. Francis from Broomfield, Colorado. B.R. is a relative of the late Crawford O. Shwartz, and she visited Scranton a few months back to do research on him.

In addition, much information for this blog entry is credited to an article titled "Scranton Man Wrote Familiar Melody," which appeared on the front page of Section II of the Wednesday, March 18, 1936 edition of The Scranton Republican. A copy of the article is in the "Music" Local History Vertical File in the Reference Department.