Monday, March 18, 2013

Pheaturing John Lovelady From "The Great Space Coaster"

Hey, get on board, and welcome to another entry of the Phile, kids. Guess what? I am kidney stone free. How are you? Yesterday there was no Phile as I went to MegaCon and had a great time. I have to thank Christine Alger who was here on the Phile last week, and her mom for putting on a fantastic show. It was St. Patrick's Day yesterday, which I don't celebrate, but instead I celebrated Sir Patrick Day. I got to see Patrick Stewart's panel which was fantastic, and funny. Anyway, from now on, every March 17th on the Phile will be known as Sir Patrick Day. That is until I forget next year. If you didn't go to MegaCon you missed out. There were so many people in costumes, and I think every other costume was a "Doctor Who" costume. These kids weren't even born when the show first came on. I'm not talking about the classic series, I'm talking about the new series. Some kid asked me who my first Doctor was and I said Jon Pertwee. They had no idea who that was! I asked them who there first one was and they said... David Tennant. Aggghhhh. I also saw a Halo costume made entirely of balloons, anime characters I never heard of, quite a few Supermen, some kid on stilts, a zombie My Little Pony, a dead ringer for James Doohan, a walking TARDIS, midget wrestling, people getting tattoo's, a few artists that are Phile Alum and a few that soon will be. And then there was this guy...

Anyway, I can't wait til MegaCon next year.  It's still "The Great Space Coaster" Month on the Phile, and I looked all over the convention for anything to do with that show and found nothing. Nothing! You would think I would of found a Goriddle lunch box or something.  What else is going on? The latest rumor, according to the Italian press, is that Pope Benedict did not retire. They say he was forced out by NBC.  A judge overturned Mayor Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks. The judge made his decision after testimony from a prominent physician. I believe it was a Dr. Pepper, if I'm not mistaken. I think Mayor Bloomberg should spend his time trying to improve stuff like education. New York needs a better education system if kids didn't figure out they could get around the 16-ounce soda ban by simply purchasing two 12-ounce sodas. How would the government try to enforce something like that? It's not like Obama's got a secret fleet of robotic aircraft circling over, watching everything people do with little cameras.  McDonald's announced they are dropping its fruit and walnut salad from the menu. The two people who go to McDonald's for fruit and walnuts are really upset about this.  According to reports, Saudi Arabia is considering dropping public beheadings because of a shortage of government swordsmen. You don't want amateurs to cut people's heads off because that could be barbaric.  So, Catholics, it's been your week. You have a new Pope and it was St. Patrick's Day. If you wonder how they picked the new Pope, the cardinals each wrote down their choice on a small slip of paper and put them in a silver chalice and then they mixed all the names up and they were drawn out. It's the same thing they do for the Vatican's Secret Santa. The Pope has more than one designation. He's also the bishop of Rome. He's also known as the pontiff. And here's what I didn't know. He's also known as Diddy.  The nation of Iran is threatening to sue the makers of the movie Argo. They say the movie was an unrealistic portrayal of their country. You can't do that! That would be like Scotland suing over the movie Shrek.  There are reports that Joe Biden will handle more foreign policy matters during President Obama's second term. Though you know it's bad when world leaders are like, "Can you just send Dennis Rodman instead?"  A 106-year-old woman in Ohio just received her high school diploma after 88 years. She may even go to college, but only if she gets that volleyball scholarship.  I mentioned the new Pope... Pope Francis is his name, but he is really Pope Jorge. I'm confused. Anyway, looking at his picture I think I saw him somewhere before. He looks very familiar. Take a look.

Where have I seen him before?  At MegaCon zombies were a big deal. Zombies are a big deal everywhere. Did you hear about the new "Peanuts" special? I think it's called "You're a Zombie, Charlie Brown". Here is a screen shot never before seen from the new special.

I like the way Woodstock looks. LOL.  I mentioned last week Dosney has made Jennifer Lawrence into a Disney Princess. She seems to fit in perfectly. Here is a picture of Jennifer...

And here is a picture of a Disney Princess.


See what I mean? Alright, now from the home office in Coasterville, here is this week's...

Top Phive Rejected Changes To The New Batman Origin Story
5. Bruce Wayne got into the crime fighting lifestyle through an ad on Craigslist.
4. The Bat Cave began as a simple bathroom renovation that just snowballed way out of control.
3. Bruce Wayne decided to get into crime fighting in order to battle Gotham City's controversial 16 oz. soda ban.
2. Bruce Wayne amassed much of his fortune by saving 15% on Batmobile insurance after switching to Geico.
And the number one rejected change to the new Batman origin story is...
1. Bruce Wayne's parents were shot in Gotham City's first "Stand Your Ground" incident.

As I mentioned, I was at MegaCon and I love buying comics. Another friend of mine also loves comics and even works at a comic book shop... Coliseum of Comics in Orlando. Anyway, I like to invite him on the Phile so he can give us some ideas on what comics to read. So, please welcome back, my friend Jim Mello in a pheature called...

Hello all, I'm Jim. I'm 25, a Libra, and I enjoy reading comics unless it is a "Grimm Fairy Tales" book.  Age of Ultron #2 
Still moving extremely slow, which is to be expected with a high issue amount. Moon Knight and Black Widow hideout in San Francisco killing Ultrons and evil humans alike as they try to survive. Peter gives us a cryptic monologue as to what was going on when Ultron took over, and Cap stops crying and promises us a plan to take down Ultron. Hopefully, this plan comes to fruition sooner than later. The pundits for the "Anti-Decompressed Comics" will be having a field day with this book if it continues at this pace.
Batman #18
Batman was about Batman being angry and Harper Row beginning her journey as some sort of Bat sidekick. She's been training for a few months, which in the superhero world, qualifies you to take on low-level thugs and vault across rooftops in such a way that would make expert parkour-ers and master martial artists very jealous. Overall, small tie in to the whole Requiem thing going on right now. Batman and Robin #18 
A very poignant silent issue that carries the reverence that most silent issues tend to carry, and what Bats #18 lacked. Definitely recommend this to anyone whose picking up any of the Bat titles this week and is looking for a great entry into the "Requiem" tie in.
Ultimate Comics Wolverine #1 
Jimmy Hudson finds a hidden message in a hologram recording of his dad, Wolverine. It sends him on a mission to find out about a program called Mothervine that was tied to one of Wolverine's own past missions. This was ho-hum. I'm still waiting for that resurgence of Ultimate Universe awesome. Wolverine #1 
A father son duo murder hostages in a bank, except one who just can't seem to die in a timely manner... You guessed it! Wolverine! I really don't have much to say other than that. It wasn't for me, that's for sure. Alright, well that concludes our misadventures. Have a great day!

I have to get "Wolverine"... my favorite writer and artist are working on it. Thanks, Jim.

The 24th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The author, Noel MacNeal will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Today's pheatured guest is a puppeteer who worked with the Muppets, including on "Sesame Street". He stopped working with the Muppets when "The Muppet Show" Season 1 ended. He later joined the syndicated children's series "The Great Space Coaster" as Knock Knock and also performed in a serialisation of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland". It's an honor to have him here, please welcome to the Phile... John Lovelady!

Me: Hello, John, welcome to the Phile, and more importantly welcome to "TGSC' Month on the Phile. How are you?

John: Fine. Thank you for inviting me, Jason.

Me: So, I interviewed Emily Bindiger and Jim Martin, John. When did you first meet Jim?

John: When we began "The Great Space Coaster".

Me: What was it like to work with Kermit Love? I am guess you knew him from the old Muppet days.

John: Kermit was always inspirational and supportive, with a great acerbic sense of humor and a vast knowledge of the theatre in all its forms. He was a brilliant conceptualist and we worked closely together on many projects at the Muppets. He and Caroly Wilcox taught me everything I needed to know.

Me: Let's talk about the other Jim... Jim Henson. You worked on the first series of "The Muppet Show" and before that "The Muppets: Sex and Violence". What was it like working with Henson back then?

John: I began working with the Muppets as a performer and builder on “The Great Santa Claus Switch,” which was an Ed Sullivan special, and stayed with the company until we had completed The Muppet Movie, working on all our projects in between. Jim’s contribution to the world of puppetry, television and film is well known. He was great to work with. Wonderful sense of humor. He always made one feel what one had to offer was important and appreciated. The group was small when I began and large when I left. I missed the intimacy that of necessity evolved as the company expanded.

Me: When you worked with the Muppets, did you know or ever think the Muppets would be such a big deal?

John: Anyone who saw the early Muppet television appearances knew they were already a big deal as far as puppets were concerned. I don’t think any of us realized how important Jim’s influence was going to be in the world of entertainment in practically all areas. He was approachable and funny and appreciative. A buddy. One doesn’t expect a buddy to become a worldwide influence.

Me: You left after season one, John, did you just decide you wanted to do your own thing?

John: After performing and building for season one of “The Muppet Show” in London, I remained as a builder and performer in the New York shop until completing The Muppet Movie in Hollywood as the shop coordinator a couple of years later.

Me: Tell the readers which characters you played on the Muppets.

John: Most of the Muppet performers did everything, background and lead characters. Many also were talented builders. It was a great creative atmosphere. We taped “The Muppet Show” at Elstree outside London, which is a great film studio with a wonderful history and a fantastic prop shop that our designers had access to. I created and danced the full body Apache puppet with Rita Moreno, innumerable anything’s, and became Crazy Harry, the wild-eyed guy who lugged around a dynamite plunger, laughing hysterically and blowing up stuff. Great fun.

Me: I have a great photo of you and the cast of "The Muppet Show", John.

Me: Did you see the latest Muppets film? What did you think? 

John: It’s great that Jason Segal almost single-handedly dragged it into being, and it was terrific seeing the old gang resurrected by many new performers. The world now knows the Muppet characters can continue forever. That’s a great legacy for Jim and the Hensons. And Amy Adams can do no wrong. That didn’t hurt. There was a lot of love and caring in that film and I think that would have pleased Jim.

Me: Okay, let's get back to "TGSC", John. You played Knock Knock and Edison the Elephant. Which character did you like to perform better?

John: I loved ‘em both. They’re terrific characters. I got a chance to use all the best parts of me, dear and dopey and utterly hysterical. You can’t beat that. Knock Knock was physically easier to perform, so she would probably insist that I preferred her. The show where Edison lost a beloved flower was one of my favorites.

Me: Do you have a favorite knock knock joke Knock Knock told?

John: No. My favorite was always her reaction to how clever she was.

Me: Are you a fan of knock knock jokes?

John: Isn’t everyone? At least, those of us who loved "The Great Space Coaster".

Me: When was the last time you saw "TGSC" gang, John?

John: The gang? The last time we taped the show. I’ve seen Kermit, Frank and Jim and Pam and Noel since then on various occasions, and I pitched a show idea to Chris some years ago. Most of us went on to do well in the business. That’s enormously gratifying.

Me: "TGSC" had quite a few guest stars on the show. Is there any of them that stuck out that you really enjoyed working with?

John: Not really. It’s always nice to meet famous people, but the most fun comes in working with your talented buddies day in and day out.

Me: That goes with "The Muppet Show" as well, John. Is there anybody you wish you could of worked with?

John: I would have loved to have been around when Nureyev danced with Miss Piggy, but I was in New York building a carrot costume for Gilda Radnor, I think. Darn.

Me: Alright, so, when you first heard about the concept of "TGSC", what did you think?

John: It is a very far out idea on paper. By that time I had been in kid’s TV a number of years. It didn’t seem that far out to many of us. However, Griffin/Bacal was a new company and a lot of people involved thought another kid’s show would be a piece of cake. They had to learn differently.

Me: The characters you did on that shop, did you help with the creation of them?

John: They were mostly already built, but Kermit and crew were as accommodating as they could be. 

Me: The show lasted for 5 years, which was pretty impressive. What was the feeling like on the last day on the set? Did you know that would be the last episode?

John: I wasn’t around. I was in LA taping an NBC show, “Mr. Smith.” Or the Disney show, “Dumbo’s Circus.” Sorry, I forget which. But Jim used to keep me in touch and there were occasional reminders that I had been around.

Me: Do you miss playing those characters?

John: One always misses characters that one has had fun creating.

Me: Okay, I have worked for the Walt Disney Company for 25 years this year, and one of the things I did was work in Innoventions at Epcot. There used to be an AT&T lab there which had TV's... I have no idea what they were showing off, but I would put on the Disney Channel, back when it was good, and would watch "Adventures In Wonderland". What was that experience like working on that show?

John: What a great job for you! I was at Disney World last fall. Epcot was the greatest concept. Would really be interesting to see how it might have evolved if Walt had lived. We taped I think the second season of “Adventures” at what was then the MGM Hollywood Studios park. Great fun to be stared at by the guests while we performed. I loved being at Disney World. Talk about evolving.

 Me: You played the Dormouse, was that a hard character to play? He was so small.

John: He was great. Loved the Dormouse. Wasn’t fond of getting into many of the positions I had to crawl into to perform him, but it was better than being packed into the Caterpillar to play one of the sets of hands.

Me: That show lasted only 5 episodes? What happened?

John: The show lasted five SEASONS. There are dozens of episodes. IMDb has been grievously misinformed. You’re on the inside track. Check with Disney Archives and find out what happened. Many of us and many viewers expected it to be replayed forever. It was a terrific show.

Me: I'll try and find out. On that show you worked with actress Teri Garr. What was she like to work with? I saw her at my local Publix once here in Central Florida, I said hello, and she seemed rather nice.

John: Teri Garr had a foot problem at the time and seemed a little out of it, as I recall. But then that was Teri’s bit, wasn’t it? She was charming.

Me: You also worked with actress Elisabeth Harnois who played Alice. She was just a kid then. Have you seen her recently? She was on the show "Dirt". She came a long way.

John: Elisabeth wasn’t the only one. Practically everyone on the show continued to work in the industry. Our director, Gary Halvorson, is one of the top directors in the biz. I saw John on Broadway. Richard, Armelia and Wesley are still making movies and TV. Reese is a big deal in musical theatre. Mark Mothersbaugh, who did the music for us and “PeeWee’s Playhouse” is still huge in the music industry.

Me: John, Jim Martin has started a campaign to preserve "TGSC". What do you think about this effort, and when you found out what he was doing, what did you think?

John: I was astonished at his dedication and determination. Which I shouldn’t have been. Jim has always been able to focus on getting stuff done.

Me: If he or someone approached you and said we want to make new "TGSC" episodes, what would you think and say?

John: Go for it. It’s a terrific show.

Me: It needs to be revived, John, right?

John: An adorable singing group of teenagers, a bunch of fun puppets, weird European cartoons, all teaching basic social values in the guise of great fun. Yes.

Me: John, I appreciate you being on the Phile. It means a lot. I hope it was fun. I have just a few more questions. One: you worked on "Alf"? That's cool. What did you do on that show?

John: I was one of the producers. Paul and I had done a series of puppet specials for Showtime several years before.

Me: What projects are you working on now?

John: I write. I volunteer and docent at the New York City Ballet. Occasionally I perform at play readings at the New York Society for Ethical Culture and for the SAG-AFTRA Old Time Radio Players.

Me: Hey, did you see "TGSC" spoof "The Family Guy" did? I thought it was funny.

John: I gotta look that up!

Me: John, on the Phile I ask random questions that have to do with nothing. So, in what era would you most like to have grown up?

John: Maybe a few decades from now. I’d like to see where we’re going.

Me: Thanks for taking your time out to do this interview. Take care, and please come back one day.

John: Thank you, Jason. I’d be glad to. And a huge flutter of Knock Knock’s fan to all the viewers of "The Great Space Coaster" out there who remember us fondly.

Well, that's about it. Thanks to John Lovelady for a great interview. And also thanks to Jim Mello as always. The Phile will be back next Saturday with the kids from the LA band Sink Swim, then on Sunday it's Noal MacNeal and Monday it's musician The Fresh Topping. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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