I represent the first generation whom, when we were born, the television was now a permanent fixture in our homes. When I was born people had breakfast with Barbara Walters, dinner with Walter Cronkite, and slept with Johnny Carson.
Read the full "Pre-ramble"
Monday, March 25, 2013
This Week in Television History: March 2013 PART IV
As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever aired.
Technically, the 25th anniversary of Motown Records
should have been celebrated nine months later, in January 1984, but that was
only one of several details glossed over in staging the landmark television
special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. Filmed before a rapturous
live audience on March 25, 1983, the Motown 25 special is perhaps best
remembered for Michael Jackson's performance of "Billie Jean," which
brought the house down and introduced much of the world to the
"moonwalk." There were other great performances that night, too, but
there were also moments that revealed cracks in the joyous-reunion image that
Motown chief Berry Gordy sought to portray.
The most glaring breakdown in
decorum came during what could have been the evening's greatest triumph: the
reunion of Diana Ross and the Supremes. When Ross, Mary Wilson and Cindy
Birdsong performed together that night for the first time in 13 years, they
took to the stage with something closer to 20 years' worth of unresolved
resentment among them. Early in their performance of "Someday We'll Be
Together," as Diana slowly moved upstage, Mary and Cindy had the audacity
to keep stride alongside her. Diana turned around and angrily pushed Mary
back—a move that was carefully edited out of the later broadcast but which
prompted Smokey Robinson and others to take the stage and form an impromptu
chorus/demilitarized zone between the warring Supremes.
The "Battle of the
Bands" medley between the Temptations and the Four Tops was a much bigger
creative success, though the biggest individual names in the Temptations—Eddie
Kendricks and David Ruffin—were absent due to squabbling within the group,
leaving Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams as the only original Temptations on
stage that night. Also missing from the stage that night was a man whose name
was then unfamiliar to all but the most obsessive Motown fans, but whose
contribution to the label's success was monumental. The late James Jamerson,
whose bass guitar formed the foundation of almost every great Motown record of
the 1960s, was in the
building that night, but as a paying member of the audience seated in the back
rows. His own troubles with alcohol abuse played a part in his estrangement
from the Motown "family," but so did a decades-long history of what
he and fellow members of the Funk Brothers—the Motown backing band—felt was a
lack of appreciation and respect for their role in creating the famous Motown
March 27, 1973
Marlon Brando declines Best
Marlon Brando declines
the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Godfather. The Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather attended the ceremony
in Brando’s place, stating that the actor “very regretfully” could not accept
the award, as he was protesting Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans in film.
Now revered by many as the greatest actor of his
generation, Brando earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the
brutish Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The role
was a reprisal of Brando’s incendiary performance in the 1947 stage production
of Tennessee Williams’ play, which first brought him to the public’s attention.
Nominated again for roles in Viva Zapata! (1952) and Julius Caesar (1953),
he won his first Academy Award for On the Waterfront (1954).
Brando’s career went into decline in the 1960s, with expensive
flops such as One-Eyed Jacks (1961), which he also directed, and Mutiny
on the Bounty (1962). Aside from his preternatural talent, the actor had
become notorious for his moodiness and demanding on-set behavior, as well as
his tumultuous off-screen life. Francis Ford Coppola, the young director of The
Godfather, had to fight to get him cast in the coveted role of Vito
Corleone. Brando won the role only after undergoing a screen test and cutting
his fee to $250,000--far less than what he had commanded a decade earlier. With
one of the most memorable screen performances of all time, Brando rejuvenated
his career, and The Godfather became an almost-immediate classic.
On the eve of the 1972 Oscars, Brando announced that
he would boycott the ceremony, and would send Littlefeather in his place. After
Brando’s name was announced as Best Actor, the presenter Roger Moore (star of
several James Bond films) attempted to hand the Oscar to Littlefeather, but she
brushed it aside, saying that Brando could not accept the award. Littlefeather
read a portion of a lengthy statement Brando had written, the entirety of which
was later published in the press, including The New York Times. “The
motion picture community has been as responsible as any,” Brando wrote, “for
degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as
savage, hostile and evil.”
Brando had been involved in social causes for years,
speaking publicly in support of the formation of a Jewish state in the 1940s,
as well as for African-American civil rights and the Black Panther Party. His
Oscar statement expressed support for the American Indian Movement (AIM) and
referenced the ongoing situation at Wounded Knee, the South Dakota town that
had been seized by AIM members the previous month and was currently under siege
by U.S. military forces. Wounded Knee had also been the site of a massacre of
Native Americans by U.S. government forces in 1890.
Brando was the second performer to turn down a Best
Actor Oscar; the first was George C. Scott, who politely declined to accept his
award for Patton in 1971 and reportedly said of the Academy Awards
hoopla: “I don’t want any part of it.” Scott had previously declined a Best
Supporting Actor nomination for The Hustler (1961).
To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".