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RAINY DAYS & MONDAYS
movie posters What better way to spend a rainy, cold day than to edit old home movies? Even though this is one of those you-had-to-be-there things, I thought I'd share these with you.

On three occasions, I brought a video camera with me while I was working as an artist for Seiniger Advertising, creating full color, fully realized mockups for movie poster designs, also referred to as "comps" (short for comprehensives). The videos here were shot around Christmastime of 1988.

This motion picture advertising boutique was run by Tony Seiniger, a giant in the industry, responsible for literally hundreds of hugely successful campaigns. Jaws, James Bond films, Born on the Fourth of July, Risky Business, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Firm, Major League, Three Amigos, Ghost, The Hulk, I could go on forever.

Seiniger advertisingIt was by far the most stressful, creatively challenging job I ever had, you never knew what you would be called upon to do that day as an artist, up against the most ridiculous deadlines. The kids I worked with all graduated from Pratt or Cal Arts but I was self taught. We were expected to create everything that an artist working in Photoshop can do today, every effect, every graphic style and trick we accomplished with our bare hands, airbrushes, color Xeroxes, Chromatechs, and anything else we could get our hands on.

Not that anyone could tell but I went in terrified the first year or so, fearful that I wouldn't be up to the challenge. Fortunately I thrived on this type of unbridled turmoil and ended up staying, on and off, for eight years, considerably longer than most were able to hang in there.

Tony SeinigerTony Seiniger in 1988

"Seiniger and crew are the New York Yankees of the profession." remarked Richard Kahn, past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

In 1988, Seiniger Advertising was located on the corner of Third Street and La Jolla in West Hollywood, in a vine covered building with high walls, electronic gates and no signage. (The company moved to Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills in early 1994.)

The place was often referred to as "Seiniger University" because, when you left this place, you could find work anywhere in the industry. Competitors and the motion picture studios knew - if you survived Seiniger you could hang anywhere.

One of my favorite illustrators William Stout had this to say in The Comics Journal about working there: "It's all Photoshop now. It's a shame -- now everything looks the same. It's really boring. When I was working in what I consider the heyday of movie posters, that agency, Tony Seiniger and Associates, was one of the most exciting places an artist could visit. You never knew what you were going to see. I'd walk in there and there would be Pete Palombi's poster for Travels With My Aunt done in the style of Toulouse Lautrec. There would be Drew Struzan's Leyendecker-meets-Mucha stuff, really gorgeous work. Barry Jackson did his first poster there for Escape From New York. Dan Goozee did this great wood block-style poster for Streets of Fire that looked like Russian agitprop. It was a total "Wow!" You never knew what to expect. What am I going to see next? How are we going to promote this film? What kind of visual adventure are we going to have this time? And now it's so dull. It's the same, same, same."

Seiniger advertisingSEINIGER - FOX (Quicktime)

First up, here's a segment from the Channel 11 Fox Morning News with Tony and his VP at the time, Mike Kaiser. Sorry about the bad reception, LA's cable TV sucked. The artist you see hunched over the drawing board is yours truly - if I'd known I was going to be on camera that day, I would have worn a nicer shirt!

FILM 1

I hop into the car to drive to work, down Beverly Boulevard from Silverlake, in my 1969 Mustang. I had three of them. Artist Andy Snider is exiting his classic VW bug outside the office and we see Dawn Teitelbaum arriving with her new puppy, Butch. Joe Quinn, the accountant, bounces down the steps. Willa Koch shows us what she's working on, she perished from a heroin overdose around 1993. Some people have all the luck!

Client liaison Maren Moebius is at the head of the line as the crew is lined up for some sort of breakfast spread. Can't remember the name of the girl playing with the puppy. Next I wandered into Dawn's office, she went on to co-found the very successful entertainment ad agency BLT along with husband Clive Baillie who was also working for Seiniger. Then into the main bullpen room. Hold the camera still, Billy!

Andy Snider / Seiniger advertisingFILM 1 - CHANGES

In the smaller bullpen, the guy with the other video camera is Kevin Robie, he went on to art direct Movieline magazine. The impossibly gorgeous Andy Snider is working with Dawn on a Hollywood Reporter ad. Is that Jennifer Paley, granddaughter of CBS's William Paley, seen before Troy Alders passes by? Troy had more energy than anyone I ever met, he moved to San Francisco to become a highly respected artist and teacher, a fantastic talent. He designed posters for the Grateful Dead and is now an Art Director for Lucasfilm. Then Andy and -(I can't think of his name, dammit!)- sing their appropriate homage to Seiniger Advertising.

That's production manager John Barry with a (wax) ice cream cone on his head. He's working, honest! Willa is ordering rush, overnight typesetting. Finally, I'm shocked - shocked, I tell you - to discover everyone's left for the night and Andy and I are the only ones left still working. Poor Andy, he was on salary but I got paid by the hour. Those crazy kids didn't know any better!

John Nakama / Seiniger advertisingFILM 2

In this footage shot on a different day, we are once again eating. I can't tell you how rare it is to see art director Olga Kaljakan sitting in repose, she was constantly battling deadlines, as we all were. She never seemed to stop. Copywriter -(another name that escapes me)- is seen next, he went on to Paramount shortly after this.

Camera guy Mark Estrada demonstrates one of his deadly Exacto Knife tricks - he also enjoyed seeing how fast he could spike the blade between the fingers of his outstretched hand without cutting himself. When Mark left for rival agency Dazu he took a lot of the heart of the place with him. And all ten fingers, miraculously.

John Barry is seen briefly, in a red shirt and black vest, he's a VP at Paramount now. John Nakama (pictured above) is working studiously in the background while the rest of us goofed off. Typical. He was the best there was, I strived to be as good and as fast as John but like everyone else I came up short. Then, with help from (????), I take you on a tour of the front office. Too bad we never made it to the impressive lobby but we do see the lovely Leora Tobias the receptionist (Tony always had the best receptionists) and Tony's administrative assistant.

Seiniger must have been out of town when these home movies were shot, a rare time when the staff could relax a bit; usually we were going a mile a minute all day and well into the night. In the course of any year, you could literally count slow days like these on one hand. Typically, in the art department, we had no earthly idea at 6:00pm when we would be going home that night.

Within a year almost everyone you see here had left the agency and a new regime swept in, along with a new crop of young talent. That led to my favorite period.

staff of Seiniger advertisingI left Seiniger Advertising in 1994. I thought it was the perfect time to move on as everyone was transitioning to Photoshop and I just didn't want to sit in front of a computer all day. Ironically, I created TVparty and began designing web sites for radio stations, universities and record companies soon after. I must have spent 16 hours a day in front of the screen to get started on the internet but that was no big deal after years of working the most ungodly hours.

The main thing I remember about those times was that battle cry heard twice a day at the Third Street studio - "Ticketing on La Jolla, ticketing on La Jolla!"

Like I said, you had to be there...

Monday, March 31, 2008 - 11:20 am
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NEW ON DVD
While there's still no word on the Batman TV show coming to DVD, here's the next best thing - the 1966 Batman movie is coming on Blu-Ray Disc on July 1 with a bunch of fantastic extras! From the press release:

This Dynamic Disc Features New, Exclusive High Definition Extras, Plus A BD Industry First, Nelson Riddle’s Cool Jazz Score Presented As An Isolated Music Track In Lossless Audio
 
The BATMAN: THE MOVIE SPECIAL EDITION Blu-Ray Disc will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.98 U.S. / $49.98 Canada.
  
DVD Special Features:
The Batman: The Movie Special Edition Blu-Ray Disc is presented in widescreen with English 5.1 DTS HD Lossless Audio, English and French Mono and includes English, French and Spanish subtitles.  Bonus features include:
 
·              Commentary by actors Adam West and Burt Ward
·              Commentary by screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
·              Isolated Score Track 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio (Lossless)
·              All-new high-definition featurettes:
o     Batman: A Dynamic Legacy
o     Caped Crusaders: A Heroes Tribute
o     Gotham City’s Most Wanted
·              2001 35th Anniversary  Piece Featuring Interviews with Adam West and Burt Ward
·              The Batmobile Revealed with George Barris
·              The Batmobile Interactive Tour – A 360 Degree Navigational Tour
·              BATMAN on Location: Mapping the Movie
·              Holy Pop-Up Trivia Track, Batman!
·              Original Teaser and Theatrical Trailers
·              Galleries:
o     From the Vaults of Adam West
o     Interactive Pressbook
o     Posters
o     Production Stills
o     Behind the Scenes
o     Premiere

Sounds cool, if a little pricey. I'm sure Amazon will have it at a big discount, we'll link to it here when it becomes available.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 - 1:11pm
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TV BlogPASSINGS
Richard Widmark (93) died Monday at his home in Roxbury, Conn., after a long illness.

"One of his biggest hits came in 1968 when he played the title role in the New York cop story "Madigan." In 1972, Widmark reprised the role in a TV series of the same name that ran on NBC for a year."

Herb Peterson (89) co-creator of the Egg McMuffin, died Tuesday in Santa Barbara.

Thursday, March 27, 2008 - 9:28am
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HEE HAW
Don't ask me what possessed me to Netflix the Hee Haw 10th anniversary show; it's not that good, even by my lowbrow standards. If you never saw Hee Haw, here's a typical joke:

Farmer: "Grandpa, did I see you holding your pigs up to the tree one at a time so they could eat the apples off the branches?"

Grandpa: "Uh-Huh."

Farmer: "Well, doncha' think that's an awful a waste of time?"

Grandpa: "Well, what's time to a pig?"

I had to admit this bit was interesting:

Hee Haw regular Archie Campbell did have a funny routine - 'That's Good, That's Bad' - here's an audio recording of his classic comedy act:

God, what next, funny moments from Mama's Family? (No, there really were some!)

Thursday, March 27, 2008 - 9:28am
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YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON TELEVISION
One of the most spectacular events ever to unfold on television were the attacks on 9/11. Was it as scripted as a TV reality show? New information seems to be surfacing that it just might have been. Why is the media so intent on demonizing anyone who questions the official story? Shouldn't we always be asking questions about events like that, always looking to uncover whatever information we can? It's pretty startling when the former police chief of New York City believes it was an inside job.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 - 10:19am
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FROM THE MAIL
Richard Tolleson asks, "This is driving me crazy. NBC broadcast Gone With the Wind beginning on November 7, 1976. What did ABC and CBS run against it? I seem to remember there was a big controversy because few people had VCR’s. Can you help me?"

That's a two-part answer because NBC ran the film over two nights, Sunday and Monday. ABC in particular hoped to gather a big audience with some powerful counterprogramming on Sunday hoping to stall NBC at the gate.

On Sunday, after the lead-in Wonderful World of Disney's 'Happy Birthday Donald Duck,' Gone With The Wind faced The Sonny & Cher Show and Kojak on CBS (nothing special) while ABC offered the second half of a two-hour Six Million Dollar Man introducing the Bionic Boy and the first hour of the highly acclaimed, made-for-TV motion picture 21 Hours at Munich with William Holden, detailing the Munich Summer Olympics tragedy. Even PBS premiered the first part of How Green Was My Valley that evening.

On Monday night Rhoda, Phyllis, Maude and All's Fair aired on CBS, the net's regular line-up. On ABC Wonder Woman and Monday Night Football. The result? Gone With The Wind crushed the competition both nights.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - 1:20pm
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ON THE TV
Sure enough, CBS has ordered 4 more episodes of The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular but the show is moving to Wednesday nights starting April 30 at 8 p.m. ET. FOX has cancelled The Return of Jezebel James in favor of repeats of Bones and has renewed Prison Break for this fall.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - 10:21am
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