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Almost half a century after he made a documentary about director John Ford, Peter Bodganovich is back with his second look at a classic filmmaker. “The Great Buster: A Celebration,” in which the director of “The Last Picture Show” and “What’s Up, Doc?” follows the life and career of pioneering silent comic and peerless stuntman Buster Keaton, opens on Friday at the Nuart in Los Angeles.

Featuring abundant Keaton footage, from the classic boulder chase in “Seven Chances” to television commercials he made near the end of his life, “The Great Buster” also finds Bogdanovich talking about Keaton with a potpourri of fans that includes Quentin Tarantino, Mel Brooks, Werner Herzog and Johnny Knoxville.

The film is structured chronologically, with one big exception: When it gets to 1923, when Keaton began a string of 10 landmark features that included “The General” and “Steamboat Bill, Jr.,” it jumps forward six years and saves the best stuff for last.

Bogdanovich, who was also instrumental in Netflix’s recent completion of the early ’70s Orson Welles movie “The Other Side of Midnight,” spoke to TheWrap about Keaton, old movies and why he’s not worried about the demise of the video store.

You haven’t done a documentary on a filmmaker since “Directed by John Ford” in 1971, have you?
I did John Ford, that’s right. And then I didn’t do a documentary until Tom Petty [“Runnin’ Down a Dream” in 2007]. Won a Grammy for that. I’m very proud of it.

Also Read: 'The Other Side of the Wind' Film Review: Orson Welles' Final Film Is Worth the Wait

So why do one on Buster Keaton?
Charles Cohen financed it. He owns the rights to the ’20s pictures, which is all the good stuff, and he asked me if I would be interested in doing a documentary on Keaton. I said yeah, and it was as simple as that. I loved Keaton. He was one of the two people that were alive in my lifetime that I didn’t meet, that I wanted to: Buster Keaton and Noel Coward.

Did you pass up chances to meet them?
With Keaton, I was just trying to find out where he was, and he died. We lived not that far away from each other in the Valley, and I was trying to find him. That was a near miss.

I definitely had a chance to meet Noel Coward, and it was sort of stupid of me. I was in Vevey in Switzerland, shooting “Daisy Miller,” and he was just up the mountain there. I thought, “Well, he’s not going to want to meet some young American director, why should I bother him?”

But he died about a year later, and about a year after that I met his executor, Graham Payn, because Audrey Hepburn and I were talking about doing “Private Lives” on Broadway. And Graham said, “You know, one of the last films that Noel saw was ‘Paper Moon,’ and he loved it.”

And I thought, “S—.” I would like to have heard him say that.

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Do you remember your first exposure to Keaton?
I’ve been a fan of Keaton’s since I was about 5 years old. My father, who was quite a bit older than my mother, grew up with silent pictures. Sound didn’t come in until my father was 30. So he took me to the Museum of Modern Art in New York to see a lot of silent films. The first movies I saw, really, were silent pictures: Keaton, Chaplin, Griffith, Harold Lloyd, those people.

I loved Keaton. In fact, when I made the chase sequence in “What’s Up, Doc,” I said, “This is a Buster Keaton chase.” There were only a couple of jokes we stole from Keaton, I think, but the idea was sort of Keaton-esque.

I assume you started the film with a pretty good idea of the story that you’re going to tell. Did it change much in the making?
Well, I don’t know where I got this idea, but it was the one good idea that I had, which was to end with the features. And the reason I did that was the old showbiz axiom, “Leave ‘em laughing.” With Buster Keaton, I didn’t want to leave them sad. And his life was kind of sad toward the end, although he was happily married, which I think saved his life. But he smoked a lot, didn’t take care of himself.

Luckily, the Venice Film Festival had celebrated him a year before he died, so I could use that in the plot to bring the features back.

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It’s tricky, though, when you’re going through the chronology and then you get to the great features and say, “We’ll come back to these later.”
Yeah.

You have to trust that the audience will say, “OK, you can skip the good stuff.”
Well, you know, I did it with complete authority. [Laughs] And I thought they would have to just accept it. And also, I think the fact that I was doing the narration and I made the picture sort of worked. I would usually hire somebody to do the narration, but I felt it was so personal that I could make it more personal by narrating it.

We’ve all seen the classic Keaton sequences, and you can never watch that boulder chase from “Seven Chances” enough. But were you conscious of trying to create a mixture of stuff that Keaton fans would have seen with stuff they wouldn’t have seen?
I didn’t think about it much. I just sort of followed my instincts, my gut reactions.

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But you also have things that aren’t familiar, like the TV commercials he did late in his life. Was there footage you found that surprised you?
Not surprised me. I knew of the commercials but I hadn’t seen them, and those were fun. I thought it was funny and sad that he had to do that. I was sad that he didn’t have a comeback. But that’s America.

So making this film sounds like a pretty smooth process.
It didn’t present any difficulties. The biggest challenge was the thought of putting all the features at the end. How do you get on, how do you get off? That’s show business.

We’re in an era now where if you want to see an old Buster Keaton movie, you can probably do it with a few clicks. With the rise of Netflix and Amazon and all, more old movies are available immediately than ever before. But if you can’t find it online, the video stores that would actually have stuff like that are…
Gone. Gone with the wind.

Is that troubling to you?
No, because all of it is available on DVD. I mean, most of the films you want to see, you can get them on DVD. All of Keaton is available. Everything, including the stuff that isn’t good. Older films are more available now than they’ve ever been, I think. I don’t know if there’s interest in them, but they’re around.

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www.thewrap.com | 10/20/18
Visual artist Hebru Brantley has signed a blind script deal with Sony Pictures Television, through his production company, Angry Hero Entertainment. Brantley’s paintings, photography, video, and sculpture have exhibited worldwide such as London, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, as well as Art Basel Switzerland and Art Basel Miami. Collectors of his work include LeBron James, Jay-Z, […]
variety.com | 10/5/18

The NHL Network is allowing fans to get up close and personal with players in a way they never have before with a new four-part, all-access series “Behind the Glass: New Jersey Devils Training Camp.”

Following the franchise through the tribulations of training camp leading up to the 2018 season opener against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 6, the reality TV-style docuseries has been compared to the HBO’s hit “Hard Knocks” for its drama and authenticity as players struggle to make the final team roster.

While “Behind the Glass” is not the NHL’s first venture into all-access TV — they capture teams during the season on “Road to the Winter Classic” and “All Access: Quest for the Stanley Cup” — it is the first time they’ve drawn back the curtain to reveal the inner workings of training camp and preseason.

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“When we look at evolutions and the next steps, we always end up coming back to training camp when the foundation for the entire year starts to be discussed,” Steve Mayer EVP, Chief Content Officer at the NHL told TheWrap.

As to why the spotlight was aimed on the Devils out of the 31 teams in the league for Season 1, “New Jersey has always been a team that wanted to do more all-access programming, they like their players to get more exposure and had always been asking us as a league to do more,” Mayer said.

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“This team has really opened up their doors, and there are a lot of compelling personalities to uncover,” he explained. “They have got the reigning Hart Memorial Trophy for most valuable player in Taylor Hall (pictured above), they have the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy recipient Brian Boyle coming back from battling leukemia. Then they’ve got a lot of young dynamic players who are passionate in the program.”

Just as the head coach is a driving force once the players hit the ice, he also has to be the star of the show in any behind-the-scenes series — and, fortunately, John Hynes is up for the role. “He is one of those characters you want the guy at the helm to be — big, boisterous and have a huge personality,” Mayer said. “You could see from day one that it was all about him establishing and showing the Devils culture to the world. Not all coaches and not all teams are as open to doing these types of shows as he is.

Also Read: 2018 NHL Winter Classic: 14 Things You Didn't See on TV

A television veteran who was an executive producer at IMG for 23 years before joining the NHL, Mayer is no stranger to reality TV and what it takes for a series to work.

“There is an art to these shows … it has got to be real and feel real,” he explained. “I don’t care if you’re doing a reality show on Bravo like ‘Real Housewives’ or you’re doing an all-access program like ours on NHL Network. Your camera crew and producers have to build a rapport with the cast so much that they don’t even notice the cameras are around so that people can be themselves and they aren’t conscious of being filmed.

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“That is what New Jersey has done really early in the process, and that makes for a better television show for sure,” he added.

“We are flies on the wall, there to capture the reality of what goes on every day and be in places where our audiences can’t normally go — whether it’s the coaches’ room for meetings or walking the streets of Hoboken with Taylor Hall to get a feel for who he is.”

Like with “Hard Knocks,” which followed NFL underdogs the Cleveland Browns this summer, the climax of “Behind the Glass” is who makes the final roster for when the season begins.

“We will have roster spots that are decided on the very last episode and it is unbelievably compelling for the audience to be dragged into that decision,” Mayer said. “You learn and start to appreciate these personalities as they are all vying for the same thing. It is a great way to raise the awareness and brand of one of our teams. People are really going to like the Devils by the time this series is over,” he predicted.

The show will end with their trip to Switzerland for a preseason game and then to Sweden for the opening game vs. the Oilers as part of the NHL Global Series. “That was another really big part of why the Devils made sense this year,” Mayer said. “Nico Hischier — one of their best players and the future of their franchise — is from Switzerland so we get to go home with him and travel around his country, and to have their first game oversees in a very unique setting is a pretty cool way to end the show.”

Produced by NHL Network in association with NHL Original Productions, “Behind the Glass” airs Mondays at 7:30 p.m. ET on NHL Network.

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www.thewrap.com | 10/1/18

You may surprised to learn just how many rousing rock songs, pop anthems and radio-friendly singles have tragic, even heartbreaking backstories behind their lyrics and their sometimes upbeat music. All music comes from an emotional place and some kernel of truth and personal experience for the songwriter, but these particular songs all have their roots in some real life tragedy or story. These are the heartbreaking true stories behind hit songs:

“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam

From the moment people saw the song’s harrowing music video, Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” has always been a song associated with gun violence and teen suicide. But after decades of rock radio play, the real Jeremy Wade Delle’s story has faded into the background. Delle was a 16-year-old student at Richardson High School near Dallas who left to get an admittance slip but returned with a gun. “Miss, I got what I really went for,” he said before putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, killing himself in front of a classroom of 30 students. Eddie Vedder read a paragraph in a newspaper and said he wrote “Jeremy” based on Delle’s story, but also of a student in his own high school in San Diego who shot up a classroom but did not injure anyone.

“Circus” by Eric Clapton

Two Eric Clapton songs address the tragic death of his 4-year old song in Conor. While “Tears in Heaven,” perhaps better known, addresses the bond between father and son and the hope of reconnecting in the afterlife, “Circus” is Clapton reflecting on his last day with his son at an American circus. His son told him he liked seeing a clown brandishing a knife, a lyric that made it into the final track. “I was paying tribute to this night with him and also seeing him as being the circus of my life,” Clapton said in a 1998 BBC interview. “You know – that particular part of my life has now left town.”

“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest freighter in the Great Lakes until it sank on November 10, 1975 in Lake Superior, killing all 29 crew members aboard. Gordon Lightfoot immortalized the tragedy in his song the following year. Lightfoot was inspired by a Newsweek article about the tragedy. However, he took some artistic license in the story, for instance, singing that the ship was headed for Cleveland when it was actually headed to Detroit.

“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple

It might be a stoner anthem nowadays, but the lyrics on Deep Purple’s “Smoke on a Water” are scarily literal. Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention were playing a gig at a Montreaux casino in Switzerland when 90 minutes into the show, someone fired a flare gun that started a blaze. Claude Nobs, who organizes the Montreaux Jazz Festival, remembers pulling kids out of the water as described in the song, saying that onlookers would’ve just thought Zappa had an especially pyrotechnic end to his show.

“Oblivion” by Grimes

“Oblivion” is a buoyant, dreamy synth pop anthem as sung by Grimes in her high soprano tone, but the lyrics paint a picture of sexual assault. “Someone can break your neck/coming up behind you and you never have a clue,” she sings. But Grimes, a.k.a. Claire Boucher, wrote the song based on her own harrowing attack. “I was assaulted and I had a really hard time engaging in any types of relationship with men, because I was just so terrified of men for a while,” she told Spin in 2012. “I took one of the most shattering experiences of my life and turned it into something I can build a career on and that allows me to travel the world. I play it live every night.”

“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse

“They tried to make me go to rehab, and I said no no no,” Amy Winehouse sings on her hit single “Rehab.” Sadly, her manager said this was a real conversation he had with Winehouse, driving her into the middle of nowhere until she admitted she had a problem. He had gotten frequent late night phone calls from Winehouse and noticed she was uncomfortable at her own grandmother’s funeral. But once she got home to her father, her manager said her tune changed and that she was really just a heartbroken person becoming a woman. “The irony is she went off and wrote a song about that particular day, and it turned her into the biggest star in the world,” her manager wrote after her death. “It took everyone a long time to catch onto the fact that ‘Rehab’ is actually serious. She said no, and died five years later.”

“The Magdalene Laundries” by Joni Mitchell

“I’d just turn 27 when they sent me to the sisters for the way a man looked at me,” Joni Mitchell sings in her song “The Magdalene Laundries.” The narrative folk song is based on a terrifying history of systematic abuse on women in Ireland at the Magdalene laundries, or Magdalene asylums. Starting in the 18th Century and moving until as late as the 1970s, an estimated 30,000 women were housed under Roman Catholic orders and by nuns for “fallen women,” a term that encompassed everything from prostitutes to women who had been sexually assaulted or given birth out of wedlock. The terrors of these institutions came to light when in the ’90s a mass grave of 133 women was uncovered. Peter Mullan would make a film “The Magdalene Sisters” about the asylums, and Sinead O’Conner was even held in one when she was young.

“I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats

The grand, operatic single “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats tells the grim story of a young girl who committed a school shooting and, when asked by reporters why she committed this atrocity, gave as her rationale simply, “I don’t like Mondays.” “Daddy doesn’t understand it, he always said she was good as gold,” Bob Geldof sings. In 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire on a group of school children from her house in San Diego, killing a school principal and janitor and wounding eight students. In addition to her chilling line, Snopes informs that Spencer told reporters and police negotiators, “This livens up the day.” “There was no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun.” She pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

www.thewrap.com | 9/12/18

Because of its four national languages, its cultural diversity and economical status, Switzerland has long had one of the best developed and most complete media sectors in Europe. Still, due to its small territorial size, it's strongly influenced by the media of larger bordering countries, with foreign journals, radios and televisions popular throughout the country. The broadcasting sector is dominated by the SRG SSR idée suisse, subsidized by the federal government, while the printed press is free of governmental involvement. Switzerland was ranked seventh for 2008 in the yearly "Worldwide press freedom ranking of countries" published by Reporters Without Borders, tied with Belgium, Latvia, New Zealand, Slovakia and Sweden.


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