I was sitting here tonight, feeling out of synch as you might as well experience jet lag versus what the Easter holiday is with an eastern church trying to celebrate in the west. I am not sure if it is the amount or length of services clashing with what is the commercial secular life of stuff that makes for this seeming dullness of the mind, yet, you never left one time zone. so tonight, I am up in the middle of the night and just read the press that chuck mc cann died. it is a bit odd in that I owe some thanks to this man, as in the 80’s we were working on an idea to make Hollywood Blvd. less sleazy and more in line with the image of old Hollywood.
chuck McCann was the guy that basically gave me the run-down and was a bridge of sorts with the older Hollywood and the reality that behind the tinsel, it was pretty creepy how the town ran with the egos, power, money and seeming food chain of fame. what I will never forget is him just taking a moment and we went into a room in his house and he started pulling up his marionettes puppets and spot on matched the voice of every celebrity to the movement of the puppets.
it was probably the first time I witnessed a talent level so high, that I had to wonder, “why isn’t this guy a megastar?”
chuck was a massive star in the NY tv scene and then he went out to Los Angeles and I think he was nominated or won an Oscar for the movie called the projectionist. in that film, you will see him do a scene with a variety of voices from Hollywood stars that is simply brilliant – while he plays the character of a guy running the projection booth in a theater.
I guess what I learned from Chuck was a strange view of his life, being someone connected into the Hollywood machine – yet- I don’t know if he was always like the way he was, or the machine changed the person he was. I will never know, nor do I really care, as that machine was there and will continue to be there as long as fame, money and fortune is calling or becoming. I guess the difference I see today is that there was a time and an era where people had an amazing amount of talents (chucks was voices) and today, I see people getting famous for doing not much of anything.
life if funny how you sometimes get moments where you get an intimate view of a performer that is not in the lights or on a stage. it Is simply that person off in their world that is away from the ego, power, money, and stuff that complicates the artistic expression of someone – and you watch them go off in a seeming hyper-focused creative trance of sorts, and like Chuck did – I think he pulled up puppets of 25-35 Hollywood stars and simply played for a bit with them. going from one to the next, or picking up two and having a conversation in their voices – yet, I swore he made the puppets become real.
you witness a level of talent that is rare in a world of a lot of very good. i witnessed one of these moments with Chuck and am thankful for that moment.
that is the type of talent I don’t think most people realize that is abundant in Hollywood. it is just hidden from the reality of entertainment systems run by executives worried about stock prices and their bonuses and more and more it seems talent is being replaced by celebrity that did/does nothing.
while I know the old time Hollywood with the studio system probably wasn’t all perfect and wonderful, I met too many older and retired stars and people who worked during that time that all seem to have a similar tale of how it was really nice to be able to do what you love and make a living doing it.
I guess what confounds me is why and how the bar got lowered with quality in entertainment these past 25 years. is it the consumer didn’t care and watched anything? or the studios said, “high quality is difficult” – let’s just put out a lot of stuff and make money with minimal risk?
* i am attaching a story about chuck and soupy sales, that still makes me laugh today. mind you, this was the days of live television, no slick edits, delays, and nets to catch a performer if something went wrong. credit a sitenamedfred.com
Chuck was part of the most infamous moment in children’s TV. On New Year’s day 1965 Soupy Sales told the kids that their parents were still sleeping from the night before. He asked the kids to go into their parents’ wallets and purses and find the “little green pieces of paper with pictures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, and Jefferson on them, send them to me, and I’ll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico.” Soupy was fired from the show because of this stunt. Chuck’s show at the time aired on the same channel as Soupy.
“When Soupy was fired off the air, they made me go in and apologize for him,” Chuck said. “I went in and said, I can’t do that. The program manager told me that I have to do it. It was in my contract. So I went down to the studio and got on the set. I had Soupy’s crew there. They all knew me. I could see the program manager standing in the back of the studio. I said, ‘A few days ago, Soupy came on the air and told you to take the money from your dad’s pocket, put in envelope and send it to him. This was a terrible, terrible thing. Soupy made a terrible mistake.’ You could see the manager in the back nodding his head like that’s it. The crew looked at me like I was so terrible for saying that. And I said, “It really was a big mistake on Soupy’s part since he forgot to give you the address. It’s WNEW…..” Shit hit the fan. A roar went up from the guy. It was really stupid and Soupy was brought back.”