Today marks the anniversary of Jack Benny’s 39th birthday and Roger Ebert has a nice tribute posted. I love old time radio shows and had subscribed to XM Radio for years just to get XM 164, the station devoted to old time radio shows. I love The Shadow, The Green Hornet, anything Sherlock Holmes, but the show that still holds up well is The Jack Benny Program.
In 1926, Forrest Ackerman, a nine-year-old misfit in Los Angeles, visited a newsstand and bought a copy of Amazing Stories—a new magazine about aliens, monsters, and other oddities. By the time he reached the final page, he had become America’s first fanboy. He started a group called the Boys’ Scientifiction Club; in 1939, he wore an outer-space outfit to a convention for fantasy aficionados, establishing a costuming ritual still followed by the hordes at Comic-Con. Ackerman founded a cult magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and, more lucratively, became an agent for horror and science-fiction writers. He crammed an eighteen-room house in Los Feliz with genre memorabilia, including a vampire cape worn by Bela Lugosi and a model of the pteranodon that tried to abscond with Fay Wray in “King Kong.” Ackerman eventually sold off his collection to pay medical bills, and in 2008 he died. He had no children.
But he had an heir. In 1971, Guillermo del Toro, the film director, was a seven-year-old misfit in Guadalajara, Mexico. He liked to troll the city sewers and dissolve slugs with salt. One day, in the magazine aisle of a supermarket, he came upon a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland. He bought it, and was so determined to decode Ackerman’s pun-strewed prose—the letters section was called Fang Mail—that he quickly became bilingual.
I’d seen the True Blood web site and cryptic messages on different vampire sites and thought it looked extremely cheesy. Even as obsessed as I am with all things vampire, it didn’t hold or grab my interest. Which does not bode well, in my opinion for the television product behind it. From The New York Times:
HBO’s new vampire series from Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning writer behind “American Beauty” and the hit series “Six Feet Under,” will not start until September. But for a select group of horror film enthusiasts, the story has been under way for weeks.
On May 21, HBO and Campfire, a small independent agency founded by two of the creators of the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project,” began sending cryptic letters in black envelopes sealed with red wax to people who might generously be described as pillars of the goth community: horror film bloggers, subscribers to the horror movie magazine Fangoria and the like.
The letters were written in dead languages like Babylonian and Ugaritic, but — to no one’s surprise — the recipients duly pitched in to translate them. The group effort, carried out on blogs and message boards, led to a macabre Web site guarded by a beautiful vampire, where visitors could view short prequel episodes to HBO’s new series and learn about a product called Tru Blood that obviates the need for vampires to feast on humans.
The campaign for the show, “True Blood,” based on a series of vampire books by Charlaine Harris, is shaping up to be the most extensive that HBO has ever undertaken.
By the time the program begins, the promotional effort will be four months old, having required the full-time attention of six Campfire employees who are monitoring message boards, maintaining a fake blog and coordinating the precisely timed release of new materials. In addition, 20 freelancers are working on other technical aspects of the campaign. HBO and Campfire began plotting the effort in February.
Hope the television series is much better than the marketing. The disappearances of the vampires in the ongoing online storyline seemed more campy than bloodstirring.
I’m surprised no one’s mentioned this here yet – Blair Witch Project director Daniel Myrick’s latest movie, The Objective (heavy Flash). The (as of this time) one comment on the YouTube trailer takes the obvious cheap shot: Predator meets Afghanistan. Personally, I think that’s a touch too glib – but we’ll see.
Looks pretty good to me! Wired (which is probably where I first learned of the film) has an interview with Myrick here.