Day: December 16, 2015

Clive James meets Frank Sinatra – Driving Me Crazy – tape 560

This tape opens with a trail for Fourteen Days in May and The Journey, the two programmes about a wrongly accused man on Death Row in America.

Then we have Clive James Finally Meets Frank Sinatra. Fifteen years before this, Sinatra had visited Australia, and managed to insult the whole country to such an extent that strikes were called, and Sinatra couldn’t even leave because nobody would refuel his plane. He vowed never to return.

Fifteen years later, as part of the opening of a luxurious surfer’s paradise resort called Sanctuary Cove, Sinatra had been lured back to sing at the gala opening, and Clive James had been asked to introduce the show. This programme is his documentary about the event, and his excitement at (possibly) meeting Sinatra, of whom he had been a huge fan his entire life. He might even get a few words out of him. “He hadn’t said anything to anybody for so long, that if he’d told me to go away it would count as a scoop.”

He’s shown around the resort by the man responsible for building it, Michael Gore. “Michael Gore’s critics call him an extreme right winger, but I was beginning to wonder if he was as well balanced as that.”

Michael Gore

He tells a charming story about his early days selling food mixers which nobody wanted. He’d date “really ugly girls”, and meet their parents who would be so grateful that anyone would date their daughter they’d buy his blenders. A real charmer.

Much is made during the programme about a huge 24in rocket firework, supposed to be coming from Japan, but delayed in transit. This is a running source of jeopardy for the programme. Will it arrive? Will it fire?

Clive gets a tennis lesson from the resort’s resident pro, Hana Mandlikova.

Clive James and Hana Mandlikova

Another big concert at the resort is by Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston

Sinatra does, indeed, arrive to perform (was there any doubt?) and Clive James gets a few questions in.

Frank Sinatra and Clive James

And the big Japanese firework goes off as planned, although as Clive James points out on the commentary, after an hour of Sinatra singing, it can’t help to be an anti-climax.

Big Firework

“Michael Gore sold Sanctuary Cove the next day, perhaps having realised there’s such a thing as an act you can’t follow.”

Here’s a segment of the programme.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 31st August 1988 – 21:30

Keeping with the documentary theme for the next programme on the tape we have Driving Me Crazy. This is a documentary by Nick Broomfield, about the chaotic events behind a show called ‘Body and Soul’ being produced by a dig-time German producer (and singer) Andre Heller who wants to bring an all-black cast of singers and dancers from New York to Germany for a big stage show all about ‘the black experience’.

Broomfield is hired to make a film based on the production, and the initial plan is to make a ‘real-life Fame’ around the production, with a writer, and some fictional elements woven around the documentary footage of the creation, rehearsal and production of the show. But since the film opens with Broomfield explaining this, and almost immediately telling us the budget for the film had been drastically cut, it’s clear that’s not how it ended up.

So what we have instead is the behind-the-scenes story of the attempt to make the film, and to put on the show.

Broomfield doesn’t make a good start – early on, during a dance rehearsal, the lead choreographer Mercedes Ellington (Granddaughter of Duke Ellington) hits her head on the edge of the camera while spinning, so her relationship with the crew stays frosty during the whole thing.

Then later, when the producer wants Nick to get more footage of auditions, he arranges to call back a number of acts who have already been auditioned, so that Nick can film them, leading to a lot of anger from the show’s staff that those people were having their time wasted, not genuinely being auditioned, and only being there to be filmed.

Things come to a head during a phonecall with one of the films producers for Virgin, Andrew Braunsberg, who says that one of the New York producers, Dick Scott, was going to shut the film down, after a catalogue of problems, including blowing all the fuses in the rehearsal building continuously for one day. But Braunsberg feels sure he can sort things out by “spreading a little bit of cash around.” A true producer.

Nick Broomfield

But things continue, although the film always seems on the edge of being shut down for one reason or another.

Interspersed with these are short sections of the rehearsals for the show, which are all pretty good.

The writer for the fictional parts of the film, Joe Hindy, gets frustrated when, after delivering his pages of script, Nick tells him and the producer that he still doesn’t really understand how the fictional character of Joe the writer fits in with the documentary film Nick has been shooting all this time.

Joe Hindy

In the end, the producers don’t want to spend any more money shooting in Germany, so there’s only enough left to shoot three minutes of the show’s opening. Its a big success, though.

If you have Amazon Prime video, the film’s available here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ESQFNOA

After this, recording switches again, to a programme with Dickie Davies talking to a man about a golf course. It’s called The World Of Golf. There’s even an accompanying hour long video entitled Seven Wonders of the World of Golf.

Then, for reasons surpassing understanding, there’s a Wrestling show from NWA (not, one presumes, the musical act).

The tape ends after half an hour of this.

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