People of Los Angeles, we’re not sure what you have planned tomorrow, other than continuing to celebrate the court overturning of Proposition 8. But, should you have no plans, celebratory or otherwise, Cinefamily has an event that you will find very enjoyable. Although the late, great Roger Ebert will be most remembered for his brilliant film criticism and beautiful pieces about his wife, his illness and life itself, lest we forget, he also wrote the screenplay to the mighty shlock-exploitation (shlocksploitation?) cult classic that was Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And this part of his legacy will be celebrated tomorrow night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.
The team at Cinefamily has found a rare 35mm print of the film, and will show it along with some extra-special Siskel & Ebert outtakes, courtesy of the amazing Chaz Ebert, Roger’s widow. Representing the film itself will be star Erika Gavin and the music team of Igo Kantor and Stu Phillips, along with, as an added bonus, ’60s psychedelic pop group Strawberry Alarm Clock (of "Incense and Peppermints" fame).
But the star is still Ebert, and all the diverse pieces of his life and work coming together in this freaky setting. This is his happening, baby, and it freaks us out. Watch the event trailer below, and of course, we’ll take any excuse to post Z-Man’s classic scene, so revisit it when you’re done.
In an attempt to be hip and “now,” network television has turned to the 1960’s for relevancy. NBC and ABC’s two big dramas for the fall season, The Playboy Club and Pan Am, respectively, both tap into that decade for instant cachet. Assuming they aren’t canceled, these shows will be joined by an adaption of Jacqueline Susann’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. NBC has bought the television rights to the 1966 book, and if it’s anything like The Playboy Club and Pan Am, it’ll follow the tried and true formula of copying Mad Men’s visual cues and then sitting back and hoping the ratings will follow.
While Mad Men gets to the root of 1960’s culture by following the white men who dictated it, The Playboy Club and Pan Am seem to be blindingly endeared by the products those men tried to sell. Both shows are about real-life companies, and while watching the pilots, you can’t help but think of an hour-long commercial Don Draper would dream up. Now the decade itself has been commoditized, and you can buy the Pan Am handbag or visit a reconstructed Playboy Club if watching the shows doesn’t satisfy your need to buy into the swingin’ sixties. Oddly enough, Mad Men doesn’t get astounding ratings. It does well enough in key demographics, is a critics’ darling, and happens to be very, very, good. While some of this may be related to tie clips and indoor smoking, most of the show’s quality and originality comes from the storytelling and characters. Just like The Godfather is a great movie that happens to be about the mafia, Mad Men is a great television series that happens to be set in the 1960’s. Pan Am and The Playboy Club’s mixed ratings seem to reflect this. While Pan Am had a strong showing for its premier, the inferior pilot for The Playboy Club tanked and was widely panned, leading many to predict a mid-season cancellation. Where does this leave Valley of the Dolls? The book dealt with celebrity, pharmaceuticals, politics, and even cosmetics. Hopefully the show will dig deep into these facets, rather than just use them as an excuse to market a colorful cultural pastiche. Still, check the NBC gift shop for Valley of the Dolls pill cases; those would be an ace tie-in.