Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why You’re Crazy Addicted to ‘Hocus Pocus

Mashable
Why You’re Crazy Addicted to ‘Hocus Pocus
BY YOHANA DESTA
October 22, 2014

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Something wicked this way comes.

Since 1993, the Disney film Hocus Pocus has been a perennial Halloween favorite, scaring up a new batch of children every year. Starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as a trio of evil witches known as the Sanderson sisters, the film is a kitschy gem. Through

Something wicked this way comes.

Since 1993, the Disney film Hocus Pocus has been a perennial Halloween favorite, scaring up a new batch of children every year. Starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as a trio of evil witches known as the Sanderson sisters, the film is a kitschy gem. Through countless showings on TV, and soaring DVD sales (which peak every October), it has become the cult favorite scary movie for a generation of kids.

But how did a film, which flopped at the box office and got middling reviews become so beloved and financially successful? Like many cult films, it took a winding path that relied on staunch fans and invaluable TV reruns. The witchy little flick had all the right elements: big-name stars, a campy concept and a PG script that flirted with PG-13 jokes.

It took some time, but Hocus Pocus eventually became a Halloween mainstay. Here’s how it happened.

Gloomy beginnings

The entirety of Hocus Pocus takes place on Halloween night, minus a witchy flashback to colonial times. A California family settles into life in the magic-obsessed town of (where else?) Salem, Massachusetts. Max, the tie-dye-wearing teen, takes little sister Dani trick-or-treating, but things start to take an adventurous turn. After eventually scooping up Allison, his classroom crush, they take a trip to the haunted house of the Sanderson sisters, three witches who were burned at the stake 300 years ago. Max, unafraid of superstition, lights the black flame candle, which brings them back from the dead (as long as it’s lit by a virgin). Mayhem ensues. And for good measure — there’s a talking cat.

There were a lot of elements rooting against the film. Initially, it was pegged as a Disney Channel Original Movie, instead of being released in theaters. Though millennials of a certain age can fondly recall their favorite DCOM (Brink!, anyone?), those little films didn’t tend to draw huge audiences (rare exception: High School Musical).

In 1993, before we could tweet our favorite things into cult stardom, Hocus Pocus had a fat chance of getting noticed. However, Disney saw potential in the script, according to IMDb, and decided to release it in theaters.

But here’s strike two: These days, movie executives do everything to capitalize on holiday fever by strategically releasing each and every film. If Hocus Pocus had been released today, it would have hit theaters in late September, or October. But instead, Hocus Pocus was released on July 16. In addition, it came out on the same day as Free Willy, the feel-good, blockbuster movie about a boy and an orca whale.

The perplexing marketing move is one of many reasons the film performed poorly. Though it starred familiar faces, the ill-timed release sank its prospects. Why take your kid to a film about three evil witches being brought to life by a teen virgin, when you could see a heartwarming flick about whales instead? Hocus Pocus earned just $39,514,713 domestically.

Reviews for the film didn’t help. Roger Ebert gave it one out of four stars, while New York Times critic Janet Maslin said it had “virtually no grip on its story.”

For any other film, that would have been a wrap.

The cult strikes

When you look at its Rotten Tomatoes rating, you’ll find a 33% critic rating, but a 70% audience rating — a numerical representation of its beloved status.

The movie was released on VHS on Sept. 9, 1994, a little over a year after its poor theatrical showing. Sales of the video started to pick up, steadily increasing over the years. The film was later released on DVD on June 4, 2002. That rise still hasn’t slowed, in part because of its slightly risqué script.

The generation who grew up watching it can relive it and finally understand the many adult-themed jokes that lace the dialogue. (How many 8-year-olds actually know what a virgin is?) It manages to have the right amount of spice and scariness, teetering on the cusp of child film and secret adult guilty pleasure. Christina Cauterucci of NPR writes about its surprisingly inappropriate jokes:

“Why is this movie, which I only saw once or twice while I was in the target age demographic, so much more fun to watch as a grown-up? Like most children’s films these days (Pixar’s especially), Hocus Pocus serves up a heaping helping of adult humor that went way over my head back in the early ’90s. Hocus Pocus serves up a heaping helping of adult humor that went way over my head back in the early ’90s.”

Case in point: When one character tells another to “Go to hell!”, decidedly angry language for children’s ears. Or, when 8-year-old Dani accidentally tells Allison that Max likes her “yabbos.” Or when Winifred tells a leering bus driver that she “desires children” (so she can suck out their souls), and he cheekily replies with, “Hey, that may take me a couple of tries, but I don’t think that’d be a problem.” Jokes for adults, sneakily packed into a kid movie.

It works double time, catering to any age group who watches it. And many age groups are, with its relentless yearly showings on television. Since 2007, the film has been a top telecast of ABC Family’s flagship 13 Nights of Halloween series. In 2009, 2.5 million people tuned in to watch it on a Saturday evening, making it the most-watched movie in the series. Since then, it has aired two or three times per year on the network, an ABC spokesperson tells Mashable.

Sales of the DVD also tend to grow every October. Movie data site The Numbers tells Mashable that in 2008, sales were $659,560. The next year, $911,461. The next year, it broke a million with $1,155,773. The peak year was 2012, where it sold $2,324,042 worth of units. Come 2013, it’s still in the millions, moving $1,808,035 DVDs.

Unlike other cult films, Hocus Pocus didn’t generate its status by slipping into mystery after its theatrical release. It rose ruthlessly, bolstered by the constant TV airings which help bring in a new crowd every year. Just this month, it’s become the second most-searched movie on Yahoo by 908% (beaten only by Maleficent, a brand new movie released this year).

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Midler, who still considers the film one of her favorites she’s ever done, thinks the movie took off for another reason.

“We made it before the tidal wave of Halloween happened,” she told Katie Couric. “Now it’s like huge. It’s huge—kids, grown-ups, everyone takes part in it. This movie was kind of like the beginning of the wave.”

While the rise of Halloween is another conversation, she’s not wrong about how major the holiday has become — and how prevalent the film has remained thanks to its spooky ties. Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1, you can watch it six times on TV (twice on ABC Family, four times on Lifetime).

As for any fears that the movie’s fandom will die? That’s just a bunch of hocus pocus.

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Video Teasers – Be My Baby And One Fine Day

10-22-2014 9-15-39 AM

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BetteBack DECEMBER 31, 1986: Outrageous Fortune Variety Review

Variety Staff
DECEMBER 31, 1986 | 11:00PM PT

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Outrageous Fortune is well crafted, old-fashioned entertainment that takes some conventional elements, shines them up and repackages them as something new and contemporary. It’s a traditional male buddy film that has substituted women and the main plot device is that the two heroines are sleeping with the same man. Bette Midler and Shelley Long collide even before their affections do in an acting class given by the eminent Russian director Stanislov Korenowski (Robert Prosky). Long is a wealthy, spoiled dilettante while Midler last starred in Ninja Vixens. When the audience learns they’re sharing the same man (Peter Coyote) before they do, it’s a delicious moment complete with one image-shattering sight gag.

The film takes off as a chase picture with the girls following Coyote to New Mexico to demand a decision. They’re not the only ones looking for him. It seems the CIA is hot on his trail as is the KGB. To top things off, it turns out Korenowski is a Russian agent first and a director second.

Even when Leslie Dixon’s script sags and becomes a bit repetitious in the long New Mexico chase section, Midler and Long are never less than fun to watch.

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Bette Midler cuddles up to doppelganger daughter Sophie Von Haselberg

Daily Mail
Bette Midler cuddles up to doppelganger daughter Sophie Von Haselberg as she attends opening night of off-Broadway play
By LISA BOWMAN FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 07:47 EST, 21 October 2014 | UPDATED: 07:50 EST, 21 October 2014

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Bette Midler had every reason to look proud as she arrived at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City for the opening night of Billy & Ray on Monday.

The singer and actress was there to support her daughter, Sophie Von Haselberg, who stars in the off-Broadway play.

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Dressed all in black for the occasion, the 68-year-old beamed from ear to ear as she had her photo taken.

It was actress Sophie’s New York theatre debut, so her Grammy Award-winning mum had extra reason to be proud!

The play is set in 1940s Hollywood and charts the birth of the film noir concept.

The comedy portrays the true story of writer-director Billy Wilder and novelist Raymond Chandler as they collaborate for the silver screen, whilst creating a groundbreaking movie classic.
Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser plays the role of Wilder, while Broadway star Larry Pine plays Chandler.

The actress posed for pictures with her Wind Beneath My Wings singer mother and the play’s director Garry Marshall, at the after party

The trio looked happy, no doubt relieved that the opening night had gone well.

The Hocus Pocus star wore black jeans with a satin black jacket, whilst her daughter bared her legs in a black tweed skater dress and trendy shoe boots.

The play is running until November 9.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bette Midler Covers the Chiffons’ ‘One Fine Day’

The Wall Street Journal
Speakeasy
Oct 21, 2014 MUSIC
By ERIC R. DANTON

Bette Midler’s past few albums have focused on songs made famous by Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney, along with a collection of holiday favorites. She takes a different tack on the classics on her upcoming release, covering songs by iconic girl groups on “It’s the Girls!” Speakeasy today premieres one of them, Midler’s version of the Chiffons’ hit “One Fine Day.”

Midler stays faithful to the original, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, letting her formidable voice ring out over candy-coated backing vocals and a classic early ’60s girl-group arrangement loaded with piano, strummed acoustic guitar and sharp drums.

Bette Midler Covers the Chiffons’ ‘One Fine Day’ (Exclusive Premiere)
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Liam Finn, Ernie Brooks, Peter Zummo Cover Arthur Russell For ‘Red Hot’ Tribute (Exclusive)
“Kids always used to say they were going to run away and join the circus. I always wanted to run away to join a girl group,” Midler says by email. “‘One Fine Day’ is just one of those songs, for me, that immediately brings up the same happy feelings as when I first heard it.”

Midler’s latest is the 14th studio album in a career that began in the theater and has encompassed roles on Broadway in shows including “Fiddler on the Roof,” singing in a New York City bathhouse and movie roles, along with three Grammys, four Golden Globes, two Oscar nominations and more than 30 million albums sold. She had a No. 1 hit in 1989 with “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which appeared on the “Beaches” soundtrack and won a Grammy for record of the year in 1990.

“It’s the Girls!” is due on Warner Bros. Records on Nov. 4. What do you think of Midler’s version of “One Fine Day?” Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Bette Midler, Jon Hamm, Alexis Bledel, and More Toast Billy & Ray on Opening Night at the Vineyard Theatre

Theatermania
Bette Midler, Jon Hamm, Alexis Bledel, and More Toast Billy & Ray on Opening Night at the Vineyard Theatre
By David Gordon • Oct 21, 2014 • New York City

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The Vineyard Theatre’s production of Mike Bencivenga’s Billy & Ray, directed by television legend Garry Marshall, celebrated its opening night on October 20. The cast, made up of Vincent Kartheiser, Larry Pine, Sophie von Haselberg, and Drew Gehling, toasted the occasion with their guests, a list that included von Haselberg’s mom, Bette Midler, Kartheiser’s wife, Alexis Bledel, and his Mad Men costar, Jon Hamm, among others.

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One Fine Day And Be My Baby Available For Downloads On iTunes And Amazon

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One Fine Day And Be My Baby Available For Downloads On iTunes at least in the UK and the US. I feels so bad I don’t know about other country’s situation. Just check your iTunes and Amazon stores.

Here’s the link for the US release: Click Here

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Mama Midler Takes In Daughter Sophie’s Play Opening Night

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Billy and Ray Review: The Making of Double Indemnity

New York Theater
Billy and Ray Review: The Making of Double Indemnity
OCTOBER 20, 2014

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“No killing, no dead body, no sex, no nothing. Just talk.”

That line is uttered near the end of “Billy & Ray,” a play about the collaboration of director Billy Wilder and writer Raymond Chandler on the film “Double Indemnity.” The film’s producer is on the phone with the head of the Hollywood censorship office, using these words to describe the film in order to reassure him.

It is a sly description of the 1944 movie starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck that embodied a genre later labeled film noir, where, to get around the censors, all the dark doings an audience could want happen off-screen (sometimes inches off screen.)

Yet the line could also describe Mike Vencivenga’s play itself: Nothing much happens, just talk, in this disappointing production at the Vineyard Theater, directed by Garry Marshall. Its main appeal, to be honest, is in being able to witness the New York stage debuts of two of the performers in the four-member cast – Vincent Kartheiser, Pete Campbell from Mad Men, portraying Billy Wilder, and, as his secretary Helen, Sophie von Haselberg, who looks and acts uncannily like a young Bette Midler — and is in fact her daughter.

The play begins in the dark with sounds of a fight, and, when the lights come on Wilder’s Hollywood studio office in disarray, we learn that his long-time writing partner has quit, refusing to help him adapt James M. Cain’s novel “Double Indemnity,” because it is “full of sex and violence, perversion and lust.”

“But that’s why we love it,” says Joe Sistrom the producer (Drew Gehling.)

So, on Sistrom’s recommendation, Wilder turns to a writer he’s never met, the crime novelist Raymond Chandler (Larry Pine, a first-rate New York stage veteran, most recently in Casa Valentina)
Wilder is expecting a tough guy, and when the mild-mannered, middle-aged Chandler shows up at the door, he assumes he’s the exterminator, until the visitor clears up the confusion: “I’m Raymond Chandler,” he introduces himself.

“Are you sure?” a disappointed Wilder asks — a line that makes no sense except in the world of a bad sitcom, where it would exist solely to get an unearned laugh.

Director Garry Marshall began as a joke writer. Yet nearly every joke, verbal or visual, falls just as flat. It’s not the only area in which his track record doesn’t seem to help the show.
Marshall also brought “The Odd Couple” to television, and one might expect some similar entertaining clashes here: Wilder is depicted as an elegantly foul-mouthed, hard-drinking philanderer, an expatriate from Vienna with a strong Austrian accent, while Chandler is presented as a Chicago-born loner, a family man and former schoolteacher who is an alcoholic but tries to hide it (taking frequent gulps, when nobody’s looking, from a bottle in his briefcase.) At one point, Chandler yells at Wilder “You and your whole expatriate crowd make me sick. You stand back and smirk at this country.” I find this an extremely unlikely exchange, given that (unmentioned in the play) Chandler himself spent ages 12 to 24 in Europe, mostly in England (where he became a British citizen), but also Munich and Paris. In spite of the apparently bogus effort to goose the disparity in their backgrounds and character, nothing much comes of it. We don’t get anywhere near Odd Couple humor; the bickering most often sounds like what one might overhear from colleagues in the next cubicle: “If you insist on smoking that pipe,” Wilder says at one point, “I must insist that we open the window.”

Marshall has been a film director for several decades now (Beaches, Pretty Woman, Princess Diaries), and one might expect at the very least something of a class on film history. There are some tidbits here and there. We learn in an epilogue that Wilder’s subsequent film, The Lost Weekend, was inspired by Chandler’s alcoholism. We get an explanation of the Hollywood Production Code, and how filmmakers reacted to it

BILLY: It forbids us from doing stories about adultery, cold blooded murder and suicide. And they’re not too crazy about us showing how to steal money from insurance companies.
RAY: Then what can we do? To tell this story we’re going to have to be very subtle.
BILLY: Ugh. Don’t give me with the subtleties.
RAY: You don’t like subtleties?
BILLY: Subtleties are fine. As long as we make them obvious. To get this by the censors we have to be ingenious…

The bulk of the play is taken up with Wilder and Chandler “writing” the scenes of the film by talking it all out. They figure out the practical challenges of executing the dark plot about an insurance salesman and a sinful woman conspiring to kill her husband. (Sometimes, as in the photograph above, the lights dim and music plays while they describe a scene, as if to re-create what it will feel like once it’s filmed — an effect that’s not very effective.) These talked-out scenes offer little new for somebody who’s seen “Double Indemnity” and might prove excruciating for somebody who hasn’t, but I could picture this providing some enjoyment to a fanatical cinephile.
A different stage director might have improved the pacing of “Billy & Ray,” but it’s difficult to know whether a different cast would have been better at covering up the flaws of the script. This is not one of Larry Pine’s best performances. Kartheiser seems miscast as the European bon vivant and sophisticate whose family has perished overseas, but my reaction might reflect my inability to get over his indelible performance as the whiny advertising man in Mad Men. In the performance I saw, there were some signs of a newcomer to stage acting. Wilder regularly throws his hat on a hatrack. One time, he missed and the hat fell to the ground. Wilder didn’t pick it up — and worse, neither did his secretary, although she was standing right next to it — just letting it stay on the floor until the next blackout.

On the other hand, before I even realized who she was, it struck me that von Hasselberg was taking her moves directly from the Bette Midler playbook, and making them her own. In another scene, Wilder calls in Helen “to flirt with Mr. Chandler,” in order to demonstrate how women flirt with men so that he can get into the head of the Barbara Stanwyck character in the film. He tells her to slink up to him as if in a bar, then look at him sexy…

BILLY: Good. Now tip your carriage toward him.
HELEN: My what?
BILLY: Your carriage. Your caboose. Move it toward him
Helen shakes her booty.
BILLY: No no. Like a woman! Not a Cocker Spaniel.
HELEN: All right. That’s it. Show’s over.
It’s a totally silly scene, a bit awkwardly executed — and the only time I laughed out loud.

Billy & Ray
At The Vineyard Theater
By Mike Bencivenga; directed by Garry Marshall; sets by Charlie Corcoran; costumes by Michael Krass; lighting by Russel H. Champa; music and sound by David Van Tieghem;

Cast: Drew Gehling (Joe Sistrom), Vincent Kartheiser (Billy Wilder), Larry Pine (Raymond Chandler) and Sophie von Haselberg (Helen Hernandez).

Running time: 2 hours, including intermission.

Tickets: $79

Billy & Ray is scheduled to run through November 9th.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Help Get Bette Midler’s Album Artwork In The Smithsonian – Need Votes!!!!

Which of These Three Artworks Should Go on View at the National Portrait Gallery?
Vote for your favorite!!
National Portrait Gallery
October 9, 2014

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When planning exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, our historians and curators carefully select what will be displayed in the galleries, considering hundreds of possible images for each new exhibition. Because the museum’s collection is so vast, only a fraction is on view at a time. This fall, the National Portrait Gallery will unveil a special wall in our galleries, called “Recognize,” as a place to highlight one important person in our collection as chosen by friends and fans of the Portrait Gallery.

Recognize is a chance for the public to help us decide what will go on display as we continue to recognize people in the Portrait Gallery who have had a significant effect on American politics, history, and culture. Once a quarter, three people will be presented, and members of the public will be able to vote for the portrait they would like to see in that featured spot. The candidate with the most votes will be featured on the Recognize wall. Here are the biographies of our inaugural candidates, hand selected by our fantastic team of historians and curators.

Which of these three notable Americans would you like to see celebrated at the National Portrait Gallery this fall? Voting is open until 5:00 p.m. on October 23, and the selected portrait will be announced the following week and will go on display in early November.

To Vote: Click Here

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