Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Groove Book Report: "Day After Day" by Max Lambert - Harper Collins - $44.99

This Transcript was broadcast on Thursday 23 June 2011.

There is no denying Max Lambert's follow up to his bestselling 'Night after Night' is an exciting collection of a ripping yarns. In the earlier effort Lambert covered tales of courageous New Zealanders in Bomber Command. This time he's profiling their daytime counterparts - those pilots of single-engined day fighters - Fighter Command. I was amazed how many New Zealanders, some of them still in their teens, flew in the many air battles of the earlier parts of WWII, such as Norway and the Battle of France. This volume essentially covers the period from 3 September 1939 until the very last sorties in May 1945. And, of course, we're familiar with Kiwi's contributions to the historic and decisive Battle of Britain when Spitfires and Hurricanes fought the Luftwaffe. Not to mention those long years of attacks against the fringes of German-occupied northwestern Europe followed. After the invasion of France in 1944 Kiwis were climbing into the cockpits of the new Spitfires Typhoons Tempests and trying out Mustangs from French Belgian and Dutch airfields and finally from German bases as the Allied armies marched deep into the into the heart of the Third Reich's territory.

'Day after Day' is the story, or rather retold stories and tales of Kiwi participation in Fighter Command, and later, in the Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF). I say 'retold' because many of these stories have been reported or written about elsewhere, something Lambert, the good scholar he is, is keen to bookmark. He recounts in detail what some of the men who took part in these defining events - about what they achieved in the air and sadly how they died. And there were many who died, too. Lambert mines present and past literature, newspapers and the like to build up profiles of these individual piots. But like writers for the 'Boys Own' his reportage stays sterile. He really only gives us the facts and we never really learn much about the indivdual personalities, save for a brief history about which town they cam from and what they did before the war. Sadly, also missing is much in the way of first hand interviews or accounts from realatives. Partly this is a timing issue, many have already passed on, or are too mature to provide comprehensive interviews. Yet, I would have like to have seen more personal histories from the realtives, co-workers or anyone who was around at the time these magnificent men flying their machines.

That is not to put any kybosh on Lambert's splendid work. It seems for the first time this is the most comprehensive look at Kiwis in Fighter Command. And like a good Commando Commic, it's smashing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It was a Big Night on the Adventures of the CoffeeBar Kid - on Thursday.

Oh, yeah. It's a big night we have interviews from Bob Cranshaw, Bassist with Sonny Rollins (who plays the Michael Fowler Centre this Saturday nite!).

Sonny Rollins is the original saxophone colossus, a name he earned playing alongside jazz greats Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis. Now 80, he is one of the great bebop saxophonists, and still has incredible form playing with the energy of a man half his age.

His only New Zealand concert, this is a rare treat for jazz devotees to see one of the world’s finest musicians on stage.

“By the finale, everyone knew what a jazz giant sounded like. Long live Sonny Rollins" - LONDON EVENING STANDARD

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The CoffeeBar Kid will be going along, courtesy of the Festival, to review the show, so stay tuned next week for the review!

We also have Paul Gurney, who's front man with the De Sotos - Alt blues/Country Outfit - playing at the San Francisco Bath House tonite!!

And... a new Book Report - Barbara Eden's New Biography : Genie Out of The Bottle.

in other Groove News ...

Celcius Coffee takes the "Green Gold" award at 2011 DominionPost Gold Awards Celcius Coffee. One of our former sponsors (hopefully we'll have their coffee back in stock in the future!), is a boutique family-owned coffee company. They took the green gold award for positive and sustainable business practices.!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

THe Groove Book Report: Jeannie Out Of A Bottle - Barbara Eden with Wendy Leigh

This a the transcript - 1st Broadcast 9 June 2010

Growing up, Barbara Eden was definitley my biggest crush. As Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie, she was the epitome of the 60's blonnde Bombshell - a little come-hither, demure, tame, with an under current of wild (...But always sophisticated and never crass - like the hotter version of Peggy Lee). No surprise, then that Eden's biography is quick to point out all of this in the early few sentences of the introduction. Or put another way, Eden was very aware of her self and the image she protrayed. And true to form, Eden's book is refined and polite. Oh, it does dish some dirt, but with a golden trowel, not a gravedigger's shovel. She is graceful and delicate around issues like Larry Hagman, who was notorious for getting stoned before filming Jeannie.

Eden was born Barbara Jean Morehead in Tucson, Arizona.. Her parents divorced when she was three; she and her mother Alice moved to San Francisco where later her mother married Harrison Connor Huffman, a telephone lineman. Barbara's mother entertained the children by singing songs. This musical background left a lasting impression on the actress, who began taking acting classes because she felt it might help her improve her singing. At no stage is Eden bitter about this, always looking at oppotunities as a gift - at times that's a little saccahirine, but endearing on the whole.

Her first public performance was singing in the church choir. She was always doing the solos. When she was 14 she was singing in local bands for $10 a night in night clubs. At age 16 she became a member of Actor's Equity.She studied singing at the Conservatory of Music in San Francisco and acting with the Elizabeth Holloway School of Theatre. She graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco in 1949 and went one year to the City College of Theatre in San Francisco. Then she was elected Miss San Francisco in 1951. Barbara also entered the Miss California pageant, but did not win.

Eden made featured appearances on television shows such as The Johnny Carson Show (as "Barbara Morehead" and "Barbara Huffman"), The West Point Story, Highway Patrol, Private Secretary, I Love Lucy, The Millionaire, Target: The Corruptors!, Crossroads, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, December Bride, Bachelor Father, Father Knows Best, Adventures in Paradise, The Andy Griffith Show, Cain's Hundred, Saints and Sinners, The Virginian, Slattery's People, The Rogues TV, and the series finale of Route 66 playing the role of Margo. She guest starred in four episodes of Burke's Law playing different roles each time. She was an uncredited extra in the movie The Tarnished Angels with Rock Hudson, in partnership with 20th Century Fox studios. She then starred in the syndicated comedy How To Marry A Millionaire Eden's co-stars were Merry Anders, and Lori Nelson. After 39 episodes, Lori Nelson left the show and Lisa Gaye joined Barbara and Merry Anders from the 40th episode to the final 52nd segment.The show was based on the movie of the same name about 3 girls looking for millionaires to marry.

Discovery in the Hollywood sense came when she starred in a play with James Drury. Film director Mark Robson, who later directed her in the movie From The Terrace, had come to the play and wanted her for 20th Century Fox studios. Her screen test was the Joanne Woodward role in No Down Payment. Though she did not get the role, the studio gave her a contract. Eden did a screen test for the role of Betty Anderson in 1956 for the movie Peyton Place, though Terry Moore got the role. She had minor roles in Bailout At 43,000 Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Wayward Girl and then became a leading lady in films and starred opposite Gary Crosby Barry Coe and Sal Mineo in A Private's Affair and had a costarring role in Flaming Star (1960), with Elvis Presley.

The following year, she played in a supporting role as Lt. Cathy Connors in Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, with Frankie Avalon playing the trumpet while she danced in one of many successful science fiction outings by the so called "Master of Disaster." She starred in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm a George Pal-directed Cinerama film for MGM, and another Irwin Allen production for 20th Century Fox Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962). Eden was also the female lead in the 1962 20th Century Fox comedy Swingin' Along, starring the comedy team of Tommy Noonan and Peter Marshall, in their final joint screen appearance. She did a screen test with Andy Williams for the 20th Century Fox movie State Fair, but didn't get the role.

Her last film for 20th Century Fox was The Yellow Canary (1963). She left Fox studios (due to budget cuts) and began guest-starring in shows such as Saints And Sinners and also doing films for MGM, Universal, and Columbia. She played supporting roles over the next few years, including The Brass Bottle, and the notable, if odd, movie 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, both with Tony Randall. In The New Interns, she co-starred with Michael Callan. She starred in the beach movie Ride the Wild Surf playing the role of Augie with Fabian.

Whew! That's a mess of work. Yet despite all this - It's I Dream of Jeannie that won her audience and out hearts. She signed to become "Jeannie," a genie in a bottle rescued by an astronaut in the television sitcom I Dream of Jeannie and played this role for five years and 139 episodes.

As nearly everyone knows, ...Jeannie is the sitcom tale of a genie set free from her bottle by astronaut and USAF Captain (later Major, then Colonel) Anthony Nelson, played by Larry Hagman (played by Wayne Rogers I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later). Interestingly, Eden was initially passed over for the role as she was blonde and of small stature, but Sidney Sheldon called on her when he was unable to find a suitable brunette to play the part. Eden is very nonchalant about this. She, again, is graceful about this fate. I Dream of Jeannie was a mild success in the ratings, and it ran from 1965 until 1970, and during this time Eden was nominated twice for Golden Globe Awards. Ironically, it's become a cable/re-run classic. The appeal is in the nostalgia and the cheese factor cannot be underestimated either. Eden was a little apprehensive, as she illustrates in her book, abot reprising her Jeannie role in two made-for-TV reunion movies (I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later in 1985 and I Still Dream of Jeannie in 1991), both which bombed, alas. Worth You tubing is the Jeannie appearances in TV commercials (AT&T, Lexus, Old Navy). I Dream of Jeannie has gone on to international syndication and finally found it's eternal place in TV Sitcom Heaven.

Her book isn't really a great revelation, most of it is on the web, in other books, or in print somewhere. But it's a great package. She's kind to her three husbands, and never blames her upbringing, or any one else, for that matter. There's a lengthy narrative around meeting actor Michael Ansara in October 1957, as part of a blind date arranged by her studio and publicist Booker McClay. They married in St Nicholas Church in Hollywood January 17, 1958. Eden had difficulty conceiving and her first pregnancy in 1961 ended in miscarriage. This, she whimsically blows off as an oppotunity missed, like a cue. The show goes on, the audience forgets and focuses only on the action on stage right now. And so the same is for her. Later, and successfully, her son, Matthew Ansara, was born, in 1965, shortly after filimng the 11th episode of the first season of I Dream of Jeannie. Sneakily, to conceal her obvious pregnancy the directors of the show covered her with veils, and filmed only above her waist. The heartache continued with her third pregnancy, in 1971, ending in a stillbirth and Ansara and Eden divorced three years later. It's all a light tocu for what really was a desperate survival from an abusive, cocaine-addicted husband. Later the drugs emerge again to cause her "emotional breakdown" following the loss of her only son, Matthew Ansara, due to drugs

Eden was married to her second husband, Chicago Sun-Times executive Charles Donald Fegert, from September 1977 to 1983. And with little commentary she marries fro the third timeto Los Angeles real estate developer Jon Trusdale Eicholtz in 1991. Both of thse seem to be a bit prefunctionary, as Eden prefers to focus on the set and TV work around this time than on her nuptuals.

I'm not sure if this really is the tell-all memoir we were promised. Whilst it describes Eden's public and private tragedies that came with her Hollywood fame. The book includes intimate details about her two failed marriages.

Overall, this is a graceful, intimate and honest memoir of personal tragedy and a legacy of work. It is with some candor that Eden reflects on the challenges she has faced and the joys she has experienced. All through she has maintained her humor and optimism. It's obvious the Jeannie magic is still there.