Thursday, May 12, 2022

CREATIVITY AND COLLABORATION - INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER JIM JANICEK


Jim Janicek is the creative/collaborative force behind multiple media brands. This includes being the creator of one of the most famous brands in television history - the ABC TGIF brand. He also has been at the forefront of launching three major television networks. 

Jim founded and leads Janicek Media (JMC) an entrepreneurial production company that develops branded entertainment programming and innovative 360 media messaging campaigns. 

He recently completed three family films; Adeline, The Engagement Plot and The Happy Camper. The latter two films were produced with Brian Bird (Creator and Executive Producer) of the Hallmark Channel's number one franchise, When Calls the Heart

Jim also produces content with The Walt Disney Company. He recently completed a project with two time Academy Award winning actor, Tom Hanks. The project was for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum.   

Over his long career Jim has worked on projects for The Muppets, Baby Einstein, Winnie the Pooh and multiple ABC and NBC specials. 

I had the pleasure and privilege to interview Jim Janicek recently.

Judith: Jim, you have had a long and storied career in media, but you only recently started producing films. How did The Engagement Plot come about for you and your production company?  

Jim: I had actually just completed a film partnering with fellow producer Myrrha Satow and close friend Becky Daugherty (former Executive Vice President at Disney/ABC) in Ohio called Adeline about a miracle equine therapy horse.  I met Brian Bird, who is the Executive Producer of Hallmark’s When Calls The Heart through a friend who felt we should meet and possibly collaborate.  He was encouraging and he also happens to call Colorado his home. I recently moved back to my home state of Colorado, so this was a common bond for us.  Funny story; Brian was a writer on one of the ABC TGIF shows called Step By Step during the time I was at ABC. We instantly had a connection and a number of mutual friends.  I appreciate Brian’s talents and we both share the same goal of producing family entertainment without fear of including a few faith based messages.  We also believe in building a production business model that gives all an opportunity to thrive.  There’s room in this genre for lots of new faces. We discussed our mutual vision of working more in our home state.  I have done a lot of my productions and post in Colorado, so I was confident we could mount a film production team that was capable of working on multiple projects.  I have a longstanding relationship with the Colorado Governor’s Office Of Film and approached them for support.  We were granted a 20% film incentive if we brought the productions to Colorado.  It was an easy decision as Colorado has great locations, support crew, creative and post already in place.  


Judith: Wow. What a great backstory to the working relationship with Brian Bird. I love the business plan of working in Colorado as well as finding and developing new talent. Do you have plans for another film?

Jim: I am in discussions on a few projects.  I’m always open to what crosses my path.  If an opportunity is financed, I’ve learned to say yes if it’s a good fit in my schedule and it’s a good message. 

Judith: You created the ABC Television Network's TGIF campaign which ultimately became one of the most famous of all on-air television promotional campaigns. Can you share how this campaign was created? 

Jim: It’s a fun story.  Back in 1987, I was a Writer/Producer for the ABC Television Network's On Air Promotions department.  We were sometimes invited to the ABC Executive Towers to participate in creative think groups with the top executives.  I’ll never forget sitting around this massive conference table with the likes of several Capital Cities/ABC Television Network legends (this was before The Walt Disney Company buyout of Capital Cities/ABC).  We were discussing the impact cable TV was having on our audiences and I spoke up suggesting we consider “narrow casting to a specific demo on specific nights.”  One of the executives (whom shall remain nameless) looked at me with anger and said, “Young man, we are the American BROADCASTING company.  We will never do that!”    Needless to say, I didn’t get invited back to one of those meetings for some time! 

Later, Bob Iger was just coming on board as President of ABC Entertainment and my supervisors Mark Zakarin and Stu Brower gave me the job of promoting Friday nights during the summer.  Back then, Friday night was considered the death slot for most shows as everyone thought families were out on the town.  I didn’t feel the same way and wanted to try and create a fond experience from my childhood.  Every Sunday night my family would gather and watch Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and The Disney Sunday Movie.  It was always a great night of dinner with family and some TV time, complete with Walt Disney himself hosting.  This was the genesis of the plan for Friday Night.  I learned early in the business that it’s not that people know what they like, they like what they know.   I wanted to create something I knew other families shared and had fond memories about. 

I started promoting Friday nights using stock footage, claiming all kinds of odd comedic stories about Friday night having profound effects on people when they watch.  “Bob shaved 32 strokes off his golf game!"  Mark Zakarin who was the Executive Vice President for Marketing and On-Air Promotions  called me saying, “I don’t know what kind of crazy you’re on, but because it’s summer, keep it up, they are funny and different!”  When it came time for fall TV premieres, I was given a budget to do more and that’s when the second part of my plan went into play.  I wanted to create our own Walt Disney style hosts for the night.  I hired a music team I’d worked with for years to generate a main title, and we approached each of the show runners for the new season of comedies with the idea that each Friday, I’d come to the set and we’d record host segments with their cast after taping their shows.  The idea was that each show would support the other and together we’d generate America’s first case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  The whole was greater than the sum of its parts.  No one had done anything like that before, but thankfully the Warner Bros. and Disney studio teams involved were willing to give it a try.  Being one of the youngest producers at ABC at the time, I didn’t know better.  All I knew was this was going to be a great way to be on set each week with our shows.  There was another major snag we faced; the network was only allowed a limited amount of time for promo every hour.  The FCC would step in if we violated that rule.  My boss Stu Brower and I put our heads together and came up with a wild plan to ask each show to cut their original program down by 20 seconds so we could take that as “entertainment programming time” for the host segments.  A few friendly phone calls with producers Bob Boyett and Tom Miller and we had a deal. The other producers followed suit.  The name TGIF came together with Stu Brower, myself and Bob Iger.  We had generated a long list of candidates with everything from Friday Fun Club to Friday Night Funnies.

Writing and filming the hosted segments each week was no easy ordeal.  It took a huge amount of coordination with programming, each show, and our own teams.  It literally was a balancing act every week, but some amazing dedicated cohorts helped make it happen every week for nearly 10 years, even during summer hiatus.  It was an amazing experience that launched multiple new opportunities for me with ABC Kids, NBC, Fox, The Muppets and Disney.  We didn’t really know we had a hit until about 12 months in. This is where I owe a debt a gratitude to Bob Iger.  There was a meeting in Century City with the research department and they were discussing “Q” ratings (cast recognizability) with the executive team.  Research was alarmed because when they’d show pictures of Friday night’s cast like Ashley & Mary Kate to focus groups, they’d hear “Oh those are the girls from TGIF.”   Research wanted to kill the TGIF name so people would recognize the show name.  Thankfully, Bob Iger saw this very differently.  He was thrilled that we had clearly created a brand that was working.  Our budget and horsepower was increased! Warner Bros. studios joined forces, assigning a gifted producer, Karen K. Miller to help us coordinate with each cast. ABC advertising eventually capitalized on the idea of selling ad time at higher rates across the entire night vs. a particular time slot.  At nearly the same time, I found out my mom was suffering from Parkinson's disease and the prognosis was not good.  I made a difficult decision to possibly move back to Colorado to help care for her. Mark Zakarin put me in a meeting with Bob Iger to suggest that I continue my work and commute.  Bob welcomed the idea and even picked up an idea for a primetime special I wanted to do. ABC helped me set up Janicek Entertainment in 1990 and was my first major contract outside of the network.   I continue to work with ABC/Disney to this day on select projects.  They are a fond part of my work family. 

Judith: Great and memorable stories from that period of your career. I know all of these people from the old ABC team, so it was great to hear their names again in conjunction with your memories.  Jumping to 2022... The Engagement Plot takes place in Colorado. You are from Colorado and now you are back in your home state. What was behind the move?  

Jim: I work a lot in Colorado and sometimes film in California. With technology today, it’s possible to work from almost anywhere.  We do all our post production at my company offices.  I feel very blessed and could never have planned this ideal life.  I think networks and studios are more open to working in alternate locations as it certainly helps with budgets and a variety of locations. There are so many ways to generate creative content and the film incentive in Colorado certainly helps.


Judith: What moment in life got you interested in working in the entertainment industry?

Jim: When I was in 8th grade I had a science teacher who got me interested in Ham Radio.  He helped me get my license as a radio operator.  It was exciting to speak with people all over the world. There was a national Saturday Morning TV show called Kids World that came to film a classmate and I about our radio experiences.  When they showed up with a crew, I was hooked.  Then to see it on air, I was amazed at the idea I could speak to people all over the world via broadcast television. 

Judith: What's the wildest/wackiest/craziest story that happened to you during your career? One that you can share here?  

Jim: It's tough to remember all of them. I spent a night with my crew in the Tower Of Terror at Disneyworld!  I’ve been comedically insulted by Ms. Piggy and the Baby on Dinosaurs who didn’t take direction well “NOT THE MAMA!”   Ernie Anderson, the famous The Love Boat voice liked to rip up my scripts.  We did a Home Improvement special that went like clockwork and my producer even said, “Hey, we not only hit our budget, we got great stuff and are out right on time!”  Then our prop truck promptly tore the entire roof off the guard gate house of the mansion we were filming at.  We were filming a spooky Halloween special for Fox at a Van Nuys mansion and our black cat escaped and ran under the house.  We had to crawl through 100 years of spider webs underneath the house to rescue him. I got to sit in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Atlantis before it was being prepped for its next mission. Danielle Fishel (Topanga on Boy Meets World) and I had to wing an entire night of TGIF LIVE from the stands of a U2 POP Tour Concert in Las Vegas. Bono and The Edge were going to join us, but canceled at the last minute.  Ryan Reynolds tried to get me fired one time when he claimed I was a difficult director.  In fact nothing bad ever happened on set.  It turned out he was mad that the network program executive hadn’t come to the taping so he was making waves. Thankfully, I wasn’t fired! While working with Jamie Foxx, I did steal a presidential fax paper cover sheet from the set of White House Down so I could send spoof faxes to a few of my friends.  

Judith: I've got some memorable moments, but you definitely win the war of the wackier side of things.  What is your most memorable moment from your years in the entertainment industry?

Jim: I’ve enjoyed so many amazing things. 3500 hours of TV makes it very hard to choose.  I do really take heart to the idea of making audiences enjoy a laugh together, or take pause for a moment.  I didn’t really know TGIF made such a huge impact on people’s lives until much later.  It’s a nice feeling when fans tell me how much it was a part of their family.  Mission accomplished.  

I find myself continually amazed at my life path.  I’m very entrepreneurial and love to spot trends and opportunities for creative ways to build a business or audience, but can never predict what’s next.  I had a chance meeting with a Disney executive one time that years later led to me taking over production on Baby Einstein right after my wife and I had twins. How odd is that. The brand grew to over 100 million dollars after we did 12 titles.  I would have never even understood the brand until we had twins! I had a chance meeting with an executive at Comcast in 2012 and pitched him an idea for a new network dedicated to helping the Latino audiences engage with their entertainment offerings.  We launched and operated Xfinity Latino to 22 million homes for 8 years. I always believe “The Best Is Yet To Come.”  This is a saying I barrowed from my friend John Sie.  

Years ago I helped launch and brand Starz network. I did a special for the president John Sie on his life story that revealed much of his rough childhood and even a few business failures.  He was against it at first, but I convinced him that he needed to share the flaws. It gives young people hope that they too can achieve great things.  John didn’t get to be where he was without incredible life challenges.  The story was used for a huge network event.  He was so touched by it and we became friends. His entire industry had a new perspective and respect for him.   

Judith: Jim, if you weren't doing what you do, what would you be doing?

Jim: I love cars, entrepreneurial business, and home designs. So probably designing new technology or working on design and builds. So many opportunities… so little time!  I also love to travel and with our kids now mid college, my wife and I want to spend more time together exploring.  We actually bought a cool van so we could take driving trips with our dogs and easily transport them between Denver and San Clemente! We have a little beach getaway we simply love.  I want to partner on a few more projects with some of my favorite cohorts.  Becky Daugherty (another long-time former ABC Executive) and I occasionally do projects together.  I also hope to do some guest teaching at Chapman Dodge College of Film & TV in Orange, California. 

Judith: How do overcome the dreaded creative blocks?

Jim: Wine!  Ha ha. No, I’ve learned that I will always be my own worst critic.  I don’t think there’s one thing I’ve done that I feel isn’t flawed in some way.  I think it's important to step away when blocked.  I often go work on a car or in the garden doing something with my hands or something that requires me to create with my hands.  For some reason that unlocks new perspectives. 

Judith: Which artists have inspired your work? Who has influenced your work the most?

Jim: As I think about it, probably some of the bigger names are: Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Tom Hanks, Kenneth Branagh, Jamie Foxx…. The list is long.  I think the world of Carol Burnett,  Ron Howard, Mark Lynn Baker….. That’s just top of mind… and there’s so many new talents coming to light right now.

I recently worked with Tom Hanks on a special for the new Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Museum in Los Angeles.  He is genuine, funny and not affected at all. He drove himself to the filming and stayed way past his call time.  Helpful and fun two work with.  I think I’m constantly struck by great work that influences my thinking.   

I’m impressed when artists can tell a story with impact, without the crutch of cuss words, and edgy adult situations just to be current or hip.  To me, that’s playing to the lowest common denominator just to create hype in hopes an audience will watch.  That doesn’t take talent. It also deteriorates our industry to something lacking in responsibility to the viewing audience. 

Judith: Do you have one big ultimate dream project you would love to get produced?

Jim: I do hope to help find financing and build out a large LED Studio at Chapman Dodge College that becomes a working operation within the industry.  It’s going to take 5-7million to complete. My vision is to form an alliance with a distribution partner.  Together with several highly experienced cohorts from the industry we’d create content there which includes using film students as Production Assistants or in other entry level positions.  The business model works:  The production company team is making short and long form content made for a client to use on their platform. The production costs are lower.  We are using the newest technology at the only film school in the country with such a stage, and each student enters the work place from college already having real world credits with significant mentors.  The fellow mentors are continuing to make the kind of content they are known for at a pro level, while also feeling like their helping guide the next generation of filmmakers. 

Judith: We all have them! Who are your favorite actors, writers, directors from the last fifty years?

Jim: I tend to find myself being a fan of many different talents on any given day depending on what I’ve recently seen. While I’ve met and worked with many, I think the one person I’d simply fall on the floor with respect for is Carol Burnett. She had a huge impact on my childhood and desire to be in comedy.  Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Carol would have us laughing until it hurt. What I wouldn’t give to be a part of a variety show that had the world laughing like that.  What fun that would be to create again. 

Judith: What keeps you up at night?

Jim: I’m excited and worry that our industry and the current technology that’s at hand gives a great deal of power to anyone who desires to put something out into the world on media. Perhaps I’m being naive about the past. Today, it seems the moral obligation of being truthful or balanced in news has all gone away and been replaced by spectacle. Young filmmakers need to respect the incredible power they have to create perception and good in the world, and with that comes responsibility.  

Judith: So after a life in the entertainment industry are your children following in your footsteps?

Jim: Like it or not,  yes, they are.  Our daughter is at Chapman Dodge College in Orange studying screenwriting. She’s better than I ever will be. She continually blows me away with her clever scripts and dialogue.  Our son is at Gonzaga studying Broadcast and Business. He loves creating brands and production.  He just won the Gonzaga 2022 Best Film for his documentary, Family through Fire.  It’s a touching story about the recent fires in Boulder, Colorado that wiped out nearly a thousand homes. Needless to say, we’re a bit proud of them.  We hope they will always bring light to the world.  


COPYRIGHT THE FLAMING NOSE 2022


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

DOCUMENTARY REVIEW: HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT GREG? A JOURNEY THROUGH ALZHEIMER'S WITH FAITH, HOPE AND HUMOR



I've reviewed multiple documentaries that revolve around the demoralizing and at times near degrading disease of Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's disease is a deeply personal disease and yet it is is becoming all consuming to the overall world population. The numbers of people afflicted with this mind erasing disease are climbing and they are climbing quickly. Fifty million people on planet earth are currently living with some form of dementia and that includes the most dreaded one of all, Alzheimer's disease.  

My father was diagnosed with the disease at the young age of 69. What my family didn't know at the time was that those pesky personality changes that had been showing up for several years prior to the onset of the actual disease were the initial symptoms of the disease. My father lived with the disease for 12 years and in large part he lived a life full of love, compassion, mercy and grace. Most of the credit for this quality of life goes to my now deceased mother. My mom loved my dad with every single cell in her body. Love, real love is spontaneous; and my parents were amazingly spontaneous. 

The documentary, Have You Heard About Greg? A Journey Through Alzheimer's with Faith, Hope and Humor is about journalist Greg O'Brien's experiences with the disease. O'Brien was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's at the age of 59. The film by Steve Ecclesine is an intriguing look at O'Brien's daily life. O'Brien states early on in the film that 60% of his short-term memory can be gone in 30 seconds. Stop and think about that. That is frightening. As the nation and the world ages and the population numbers grow we will continue to see more and more people with this shared experience. 

                                                Greg O'Brien

O'Brien's situation may have been exasperated by two known serious head traumas he suffered, including a severe fall off of a bicycle. Needless to say, this is not the only way to get Alzheimer's, but we do know by the many studies conducted that head trauma and concussions are contributors to severe brain disease. One of the best documentaries you will ever see is Frontline: League of Denial. The documentary explores the National Football League and its players and their various issues with harsh brain injuries. Again, there are many reasons why one would get Alzheimer's disease and brain injury is just one of those reasons.     

Fortunately for O'Brien he is surrounded by a loving family, including his wife, two sons and one daughter. One of the keys to surviving this disease with some semblance of dignity is to be engulfed with love from family and friends. Many people don't have this ring of love and devotion. 

Some of the finest moments in this documentary are when O'Brien is sharing his inner thoughts with his Pastor. There are times in life when you just want to let your thoughts go unleashed and O'Brien does this frequently with his Pastor. There is a wonderful story that transpires between these two men about geese and how they fly in formation and how they take turns at the front. Going to the lead is an act of encouragement and a display of hard work. The geese take turns in their respective leadership roles. Relationships that work in life are in many ways the ultimate synergistic display in life. One hand does indeed wash the other.  

Alzheimer's disease is different than other forms of dementia in that it isn't just the loss of cognitive skills, but it is the total breakdown of the physical body. O'Brien suffers from macular degeneration, stenosis of the spine and neuropathy from his knees to his feet. He is also incontinent.  

The vast majority of people don't want to contemplate their own mortality, but we all will die, therefore contemplating death is not depressing. Contemplating the very concept of death can be cathartic. O'Brien has a deep spiritual resolve. The idea of not finding faith until you pursue faith is explored with his Pastor and when he says he wants to go home - needless to say, you believe him. 

Greg O'Brien wrote a book about his experience with Alzheimer's and you can read the book to learn more about his journey with the disease. The book is called On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's. 

Multiple neuroscientists and other medical professionals outline some ways to potentially delay dementia; and those points are provided in this poignant and revelatory documentary. They include:

1) Sleep - Get seven to eight hours per night.

2) Learn how to handle stress. 

3) Interact with people. Do not isolate.

4) Physical Exercise - Walk, Cycle, Go the the Gym, Garden

5) Learn New Things. Continue to educate yourself.

6) Diet - Plant Based Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Fiber - A healthy gut, a healthy heart leads to a healthy brain.

Have You Heard About Greg: A Journey Through Alzheimer's with Faith, Hope and Humor is a film worth viewing.  

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2022


  


    

Thursday, April 21, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS BY THE DOORS - THE TOP TEN!

This is my opinion...

The Doors were the most unusually distinctive rock band the United States of America ever delivered to our radios, our vinyl records, our CDs, our cassettes, our 8 Tracks, our streaming services. They were a marvel of magnificence and certainly one of the most significant of American rock bands. 

The band had a short shelf life due to the untimely death of their dynamic and troubled lead singer, Jim Morrison. In spite of Morrison's 1971 death at the age of 27 The Doors amassed a memorable music catalog in just five years of recording.

They were a group of gifted musicians even though Morrison himself wasn't a musician, but Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore were certainly three of the finest musicians in the annals of pop/rock music. Morrison wasn't completely able to distinguish one chord from another, but he had a unique singing style that could alter itself from one song to another and he certainly knew his way around the concept of words. Some critics lambasted him as pretentious and a wannabe poet, but one would be hard pressed to look back on Morrison's lyrics and not see a gifted wordsmith. 

Morrison was a certifiable genius with his 149 I.Q., but some biographers have stated Morrison suffered from extreme clinical depression and there is no mystery surrounding his hard-core alcoholism. In the late 1960's there were no rehab centers and even 12 step programs were somewhat rare. If one is being truthful about Morrison he probably wouldn't have attended one of them no matter what pressure was put upon him. Seemingly, no one in his inner circle would have done anything anyway. Sadly, the people that most likely would have supported and encouraged him were the very people he no longer spoke with. He was a talented, brilliant and stunningly beautiful man who lost out to booze and depression. He wasn't a good discerner of relationships; and his life was ended in a bathtub in Paris. Nearly 51 years after his death, the music of The Doors can still rattle a cage and upset the path of least resistance.

 Morrison's perfect features and a head of hair all the girls would envy.  

Morrison was fortunate to be in a synergistic music relationship with one of the most sensational of keyboard players, Ray Manzarek. Drummer John Densmore was a creative musician who could play jazz, blues and avant-garde experimental music. Robby Krieger is one of the most underrated and undervalued guitarists of the rock era. Some of the finest songs by The Doors were written by Krieger.  All these years later, here are:  

The Doors Ten Greatest Songs

10) THE WASP (TEXAS RADIO AND THE BIG BEAT)

Jim Morrison wrote this semi-autobiographical song years before the band recorded the song for what would be their last album (with all four band members on the album), L.A. Woman. In the earlier years, Morrison would recite the song on stage as beat (late 1950s-early 1960's poetic style) poetry. Since Morrison's speaking voice was a beautiful soft lilt he could pull off reciting poetry without sounding wildly off the mark. Today, with that voice, Morrison would have been a terrific add to narration on nature documentaries. Go ahead, imagine that. Imagination is all you have left with James Douglas Morrison.    

The song takes a twist from the high powered 1950's Mexican radio stations that could be heard across the U.S. border. Also, since Morrison spent a couple of years living in Virginia (his father was an Admiral in the United States Navy) he then had the experience of attending live shows in that state. His poetic take with these words were filmed more than once, but this was in an era when there was little to no film of pop and rock artists, so we are limited with what we now have available. All of the footage that does exist is featured in black and white filmed entertainment.

"Comes out of the Virginia swamps cool and slow with plenty of rugged precision with a back beat narrow and hard to master." 

The song has a unique marching band push of the melody. Drummer John Densmore was in his high school marching band, so that snare drum is right out of Densmore's high school days. 

Morrison may have been one of the definitive bad boys of rock, but he was far more intriguing than most, if not all of his counterparts. Ironically, what makes him hold our attention all of these years later is not the bad boy stuff, but the smart and sensitive side of Morrison.   

9) BREAK ON THROUGH (TO THE OTHER SIDE)

A powerful rock song with one of Morrison's best vocals. This song is off their debut album which was released in 1967. Break on Through (To the Other Side) is essentially a revolution within a revolution. It is a joyously unrestrained piece of music with a hard driving Bossa Nova beat. Keep in mind this song has to be put into the context of the era. Bossa Nova music out of Brazil was a huge trend during this time period. Even Frank Sinatra had drunk from the well of the Bossa Nova era. 

There is a superb guitar riff and the marriage of drums/guitar/keyboards make this song sound like a savage mash of ferocity. The Doors, at this point in music weren't like anyone else and in many ways there is still no act that can match their genuine calm meeting madness. Treasure that bass line as it works in complete harmony with Morrison's vocal. Break On Through (To the Other Side) is like a powerful thunderstorm with a whole sky full of lightening strikes.   

8) LOVE ME TWO TIMES

Love Me Two Times is a sensational pop song by The Doors. Morrison gets in your face with his interpretation and once again the bass line draws you in with heroic musical implications. A notable highlight on this track is that arousing and intense harpsichord bridge. Not a lot of bands could play this well and so consistently. Robby Krieger wrote this song as well, but much of the music on most Doors songs are made in communion with the entire band, but credit where credit is due ---  this is a Krieger track. 

7) LOVE HER MADLY

How not to love this song? One of Morrison's finest vocals.  Love Her Madly appeared on the L.A. Woman album which of course was their last album as a four member band. By this time, Jim Morrison's physical decline had intensified, but a listener would never know by this powerful and masculine vocal. A man singing about his woman. "Don't You Love Her As She's Walking Out the Door." Lyrics and music by Robby Krieger. A pop/rock song for the ages. Love Her Madly never wears out its welcome.    

                 John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger

6) TOUCH ME

At the time of its release horns were becoming a central component in the success of some American bands. Most noteworthy was the seven man band out of Chicago named Chicago. Well, originally they were Chicago Transit Authority, but the city lords made them change their name. Chicago was a highly regarded band in the early days of their success and of course, they employed players on trumpet, saxophone and trombone. Blood, Sweat and Tears also rallied with much success at this point and The Doors allowed themselves to use horns and strings (hey, the Beatles used horns and strings on the then ubiquitous Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album). The horns and strings served this song well. In many ways, Morrison never sounded so good. He's the total crooner on the tune. Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Elvis Presley and Tony Bennett all could have sung this song. Imagine Jim Morrison in a Las Vegas lounge serenading the ladies with this wildly romantic song. 

5) LIGHT MY FIRE

Light My Fire was released 55 years ago as of this writing and it is surely timeless. Part of you can't help but think of another time and place and on the other hand it is as fresh as that proverbial daisy. Even though there is nothing The Doors touched that would come off as innocent and pure as a freshly picked daisy. The progression of the song just keeps ramping up and up and then it never drops you off.  You just keep going. It is one of the ultimate examples of classic rock at its best. Morrison's vocal is all predator. He never lets up as he near yells out for a rebellion. Manzarek's intro on this tune is so recognizable that you get it in two notes! 

Guitarist Robby Krieger wrote the song with Morrison adding only the second verse which includes the funeral pyre reference. Morrison gravitated toward the end of things, including life. 

4) THE END

The End started out as a farewell address to an old girlfriend from Florida. The woman in question wanted a career in Los Angeles and Morrison clearly didn't think that was such a good idea. In hindsight you almost have to wonder who in their right mind would have walked away from Jim Morrison at the age of 23? Well, she clearly did and most likely knew a lot more than anyone else at the time. 

The 11:35 song is a journey to uncertainty. Death isn't just knocking at the door. It is blowing the whole house down in one big swoop. Keep in mind the song was released while the Vietnam War was in full destruction mode. The neocons and the neolibs love war, death and killing. Yes, and they still do. The End is a thought provoking trip of a song and a psychotherapist would have a field day attempting to figure out the song and the author. 

Morrison was a self-destructive soul. The Doors were beyond way ahead of their time. 

The experimental world the band delves into with this song is like nothing else from the era. "This is the end, my only friend - the end."         

3) ROADHOUSE BLUES

No out and out rock band - I repeat no out and out rock band played the blues more masterfully and truthfully than The Doors. This is the example. This track is the definitive rock blues song. Some of Morrison's best lyrics are included in this romp of a track. Try not getting a speeding ticket while listening to this in the car. The nerdiest, dorkiest biggest yahoo of all-time could play this song and walk away smiling looking cool with Roadhouse Blues on their back.

"I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer." Well, quite frankly, the last thing Jim Morrison needed was a beer in the morning, but no question it's one grand line. Then, in the same song he delivers "The future's uncertain and the end is always near." In the middle of a bar band tune, Morrison waxes deeply poetic as though Tennyson is writing rock music. How much do you love this guy's work? Why, oh why did he have to be so troubled? 

That eminent bass was played by Lonnie Mack and John Sebastian delivers the memorable harmonica punches.


  

2) RIDERS ON THE STORM

The story goes that the band members were messing around in the studio by playing the cowboy classic Ghost Riders in the Sky and somehow that morphed into Riders on the Storm. Even if you don't know notes and chords you should get the similarities. Add Morrison's lyrics where he takes you on an intense path of his life and you end up with literally one of the most singularly unique songs ever released by a music artist in the latter half of the 20th century. 

This song must be listened to. Seriously, listened to. Play it while you are in the car. Play it at home. Play it anywhere. Riders on the Storm will transport you instantly to a dark two lane road with the rain coming down. I can see my windshield wipers moving at a quick clip and then the thunder hits.  

Few songs in the rock era are as evocative as this classic. Talk about being put into a place and a defined setting. Brilliant on all levels.       

1) L.A. WOMAN 

L.A. Woman and all of its kinetic energy is one of the greatest rock songs of all-time. There would be no theoretical way not to have this wild ride of a 7:50 minute song be at the top of the list. That rolling auto engine rev open sets the stage for a ride through a city. The song is clearly not about a woman, but about the city of Los Angeles. The city as it was in 1971. Today, that Los Angeles would be unrecognizable. Los Angeles was a beautiful city in the late 1960's/early 1970's. Today, it is crowded, dirty and ugly. It also takes about an hour to go ten miles. The only thing left are those hills filled with fire.  

I love the downshift of the tempo as Morrison goes full throttle into immortalizing his Jim Morrison acronym Mr. Mojo Risin - and he does it over and over again. "Motel, Money, Murder, Madness." In many ways Morrison saw the future of Los Angeles. L.A. Woman is a torpedo of spirit, spunk, rebellion, anarchy, chaos and out and out hard driving rock music. Few songs would run parallel to its achievement in rock's annals.     

A woman I went to high school with said she hoped if she ever got pulled over for speeding this would be the song she'd be listening to at the time. If that ever happens, I hope the police officer just lets her off with a warning!           


Copyright The Flaming Nose 2022

 


   

Friday, April 8, 2022

REVIEW: THE ENGAGEMENT PLOT STARRING TREVOR DONOVAN AND RACHEL BOSTON

 

                                                        Trevor Donovan as Will Preston  

I had the opportunity to get an advance screening of the upcoming romantic film, The Engagement Plot starring Trevor Donovan and Rachel Boston. Donovan is a veteran in the romantic comedy field, so he will be quite familiar to audiences of this genre. In The Engagement Plot, Donovan plays Will Preston who heads up a successful start-up business. He agrees to appear on a highly successful television reality series called, The Price of Love which is reminiscent of the ABC Television Network's long-standing series, The BachelorThe Price of Love proves to be a mega hit and a social media juggernaut.

Hanna Knight (Rachel Boston) decides to take a leap and join the roster of women vying for the affections of Will Preston. Hanna isn't your typical contestant since she wants to be true to herself. Hanna lives by the notion that true love defines. She also has a tremendous amount of respect for her faith. Truth and faith are not often seen on the average reality show. 

On the surface one may initially see The Engagement Plot as your standard romance in 2022 television land, but it isn't. The writing is far more believable and the performances by the leads are terrific. Having worked in media my entire life I am completely aware of the manipulation of reality television. There is very little reality behind reality television. Ultimately it is about ratings, demos and dollars. The producers behind the fictional The Price of Love are no different than their real-life counterparts. 

Will and Hanna are from two different backgrounds. He comes from a big money family and he is the Chief Executive Officer of a major cosmetics company. Hanna is a public school teacher who was raised by a dad who is struggling financially with a small business. With that in mind, Hanna and Will do bond in a consequential way; and they each recognize their life chemistry early on. Then Will plays along with the unthinkable and Hanna is not the television victor. Needless to say, I don't want to give away too much of the plot. Let's just say, Hanna is not a superficial or pretentious woman looking for publicity. Hanna is looking for love. Real love.  

                                              Will and Hannah Sharing Clever Conversation

When Will dumps America's sweetheart for a stereotypical publicity hungry wanna be - well, he pays a price for it. A large price and then he needs to attempt to gain Hanna back. Eventually, yes, he really wants Hanna back! Hanna is the woman who has captivated his heart. 

The Engagement Plot is a physically beautiful film. It was filmed in Colorado and it features a castle setting (yes, a castle setting) and the town is lovely.      

The film is first rate all the way around. If you want to lounge comfortably and enjoy two adults finding significant love this is an absolutely terrific experience. 

The Engagement Plot is based on a novel by Krista Phillips with Taylor Bird writing the script and Brandon Clark directing the film.


                                                         A Romantic Walk in the Woods


The Flaming Nose Copyright April 2022