Sunday, March 06, 2011

Media Week (V4-N10): Spy Magazine, Hiaasen, Casino Royale, Curious George and Ryan Giggs

The Atlantic looks at the afterlife of Spy Magazine:
Leaving that aside, you can peruse the Spy catalog here. (Andersen has said the initial chunk uploaded represented about half of the archive, with the rest en route.)

As the Toback feature and so many other Spy features attest, the magazine at its best seemed committed to expending the energy necessary to get a particular story, however unhinged the initial idea may have sounded. Indeed, the amount of work that went into the Toback feature, starting with the reporting (and the attendant fact-checking and legal vetting) and extending to the elaborate design construction, gives one a headache even to think about.

But it was a typical effort for Spy. In an age where folks' minds were supposedly in the process of being dumbed down by MTV and the decline of the press generally, the articles contained reams of information, impossibly clever and insidery jokes (some of them implacably enigmatic to this day), dollops of utter absurdism, and an obvious literary effort descended in various parts from Menken, Waugh, and Liebling, but also the orotund cleverness of William F. Buckley and the almost indigestible malevolence of the National Lampoon.
Profile of Carl Hiaasen in the Observer:
With bestsellers going back to 1986, and a worldwide following, the trademark Hiaasen brand is firmly established – sharp, dry comic thrillers, with colourful comeuppances. And here's your 13th, Star Island, so can we assume that life in Florida still presents a few… targets?
Was there an original lost script for the Bond film Casino Royale? The Telegraph has the story:

The fact that Ben Hecht contributed to the script of Casino Royale has been known for decades, and is mentioned in passing in many books. But perhaps because the film Feldman eventually released in 1967 was a near-incoherent spoof, nobody has followed up to find out precisely what his contribution entailed. My interest was piqued when I came across an article in a May 1966 issue of Time, which mentioned that the screenplay of Casino Royale had started many years earlier "as a literal adaptation of the novel", and that Hecht had had "three bashes at it". I decided to go looking for it.

To my amazement, I found that Hecht not only contributed to Casino Royale, but produced several complete drafts, and that much of the material survived. It was stored in folders with the rest of his papers in the Newberry Library in Chicago, where it had been sitting since 1979. And, outside of the people involved in trying to make the film, it seemed nobody had read it. Here was a lost chapter, not just in the world of the Bond films, but in cinema history: before the spoof, Ben Hecht adapted Ian Fleming’s first novel as a straight Bond adventure.

The folders contain material from five screenplays, four of which are by Hecht. An early near-complete script from 1957 is a faithful adaptation of the novel in many ways but for one crucial element: James Bond isn’t in it. Instead of the suave but ruthless British agent, the hero is Lucky Fortunato, a rich, wisecracking American gangster who is an expert poker player. Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr, who travelled around Europe with Gregory Ratoff, says he didn’t write it, but it seems likely Feldman sent this script to Hecht as a starting point to see what he could do with it.

The little monkey Curious George (Intelligent Life):

The Curious George stories were an international hit, allowing for a few cultural variations. In Britain his name is given as Zozo; the publishers thought it would be disrespectful to have a mischievous monkey named after the sitting king. Whatever the case, children around the world were taken with George’s unwitting mischief, and charmed by the cheerful, brightly coloured illustrations. But his story of travel, migration and cultural collision has a paradigmatically American dimension.

Against the backdrop of the Reys’ own dramatic travels, these children’s stories assume a poignant cast. The Reys became American citizens in 1946, and stayed in New York the rest of their lives. They never talked much about their narrow escape, and even today the story is not widely known. This is perhaps because, despite the direct biographical parallels, the Curious George stories give so little indication of their dark historical backdrop. The outlook is resolutely cheerful. George explores his new world fearlessly, and his confidence is justified. Strangers are kind to him. Authority figures are corrective, not punitive. The inevitable misunderstandings are quickly sorted out and forgiven. He is just a fictional monkey. But those would be good standards to help any newcomer feel at home.

And in sports, we should all wish we can last as long as Giggs and Tendulkar (IntelligentLife):

In sport, old age starts in the mid-30s. This is when the eyes slow, the waistline thickens, the knees rebel against all that twisting and turning, and the hotels and airports begin to pall. In the major outdoor sports, only a golfer or a goalie can expect to stay at the top of his game through his 30s. But somehow two 37-year-olds are among today’s leading sportsmen, trading not on reputation but on recent form. Ryan Giggs, recently voted Manchester United’s greatest player of all ahead of George Best, has again been one of the most influential figures in club football, steering United back to the top of the Premiership. Sachin Tendulkar, already installed as one of cricket’s all-time greats, was the best batsman of 2010, keeping India at the top of the Test rankings with a string of centuries. Both men were born in 1973, and have stayed at the top for 20 years while careers in general have been getting shorter. How have they done it?

From the twitter:

So, why do we call it Gotham anyway?

BBC's global iPlayer iPad app to cost less than $10 a month

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