Author Topic: From Chris Pennock  (Read 990 times)

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Offline Uncle Roger

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From Chris Pennock
« on: August 26, 2018, 06:48:59 PM »
Chris announced on his Facebook page that he will be at The Hollywood Show on Saturday, October 20th. He is not listed on the Hollywood Show's website, so there's no indication if he will be there for the duration of the show or if any other DS cast members would also be appearing. Best bet is keep checking their website hollywoodshow.com

He also announced that the DS, or rather DC, documentary, Master of Shadows, would have its west coast premiere on the same day. No indication of where or when the screening would take place. And no mention of any screening on the east coast.

Stay tuned.
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Offline Mysterious Benefactor

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2018, 06:53:28 PM »
the DS, or rather DC, documentary, Master of Shadows, would have its west coast premiere on the same day.

Finding out that the documentary will focus more on DC than DS has definitely made me lose interest in it by half.  [ghost_rolleyes]  But it's great to finally have a date when it will premiere.

Offline Uncle Roger

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2018, 09:35:08 PM »
The Hollywood Show website has been updated to list Dark Shadows alumni Kathryn Leigh Scott, David Selby, Roger Davis,  Mitch Ryan and Lara Parker.  Oddly enough, the one name omitted is Chris Pennock.
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Offline Midnite

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2018, 12:02:54 AM »
Chris Pennock has been added to the guest list at last.  James Storm was added too.

Offline Uncle Roger

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2018, 12:07:34 AM »
I hope that someone gets a photo of Jim with Trish Van Devere together. Larry Wolek and Meredith Lord together again.
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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2018, 12:13:01 AM »
Yes! Of course I remember that Storm was the original Larry Wolek - but I'd completely forgotten that Trish Van Devere was the original Meredith Lord.

Offline Uncle Roger

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2018, 12:41:48 AM »
Quite understandable, MB. Van Devere didn't stay in the part very long. OLTL premiered in July and she was gone by the end of the year. Almost around the same time that Alexandra Moltke left DS. OLTL seemed to have had better luck replaced Meredith than DS did with Vicki. And Van Devere had a fair amount of success after leaving the soap.
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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2018, 12:30:29 AM »
Robert Rodan has been added.
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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2018, 12:57:46 AM »
John Karlen and Malcolm Marmorstein have been added. The Hollywood Show listing is a bit vague but it sounds like they will only be at the screening.
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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2018, 05:02:29 PM »
The Hollywood Show has posted a professional group photo on Saturday with KLS, Lara Parker, Roger Davis, Christopher Pennock and Mitch Ryan for $150. Photos with just one actor are $40.
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Offline ProfStokes

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2018, 09:46:51 PM »
I attended the “Master of Dark Shadows” event.  Bob Cobert, Mitch Ryan, Robert Rodan and Nancy Barrett were no shows.  Jim Pierson announced Cobert had had a fall (“but he’s OK”), Mitch Ryan had a health-related conflict (“but he’s OK”), Rodan is relocating to Oregon and had to move earlier than expected, and Nancy Barrett was in an accident that totaled her car (“but she’s OK.”)  John Karlen and Chris Pennock attended the screening but left before the Q&A and Jerry Lacy had to leave partway through the Q&A.

An unexpected attendee was David Selby; I had read an announcement a few weeks ago that he would not be attending, but perhaps that only referred to the daytime Hollywood Show. Major kudos are due Lara Parker, who was attending a major, eight-months-in-the-planning wedding in Topanga Canyon earlier today but left the reception even before dinner was served in order to be with us. 

The theater opened on time at 5:30 and the event launched practically on time at 6:00. Unfortunately, when the video began to play, it had no sound. For the next 10-15 minutes, a group of people worked (in the dark) to get the laptop hooked up properly, check the speakers, and deliver a functioning presentation. Jim claimed everything had worked during an earlier sound check.  I had been nervous when I saw the laptop in the middle of the room (as opposed to a projector or a proper DVD player) and throughout the multiple computer reboots, I wondered what would happen if nobody could get the big documentary to play. Would they refund our money? Would they cut straight to the reunion/interview segment?

In the interim, Pennock led us in a meditation session and made shadow puppets on the big screen. Karlen recited Shakespeare. At last, the team got the volume to a level where most people could hear it (though we continued to have microphone feedback for a while) and the show began.

We had a few teasers prior to the doc itself. The first bit was a commercial for DS airing on the Decades Channel beginning October 29th. Next, we saw a music video featuring Kathryn Leigh Scott. “Dark Shadows” by Kyle Motsinger featured the male singer attempting to seduce Barnabas (“I’ll be your willing, eager slave/I may not be your first love/but Josette’s dead and in her grave.”) It is filled with DS references. The opening, in which Motsinger releases Barnabas from his coffin, looks like it was filmed at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in the Collins family vault. Next it cuts to the image of waves crashing on the rocks and the video title superimposed over an image of Seaview Terrace. The rest of the piece shows Barnabas’s introduction to the Collins family (Scott plays Elizabeth). I thought it was an innovative approach to the material and I appreciated the tribute to the original show, but it wasn’t Selby’s cup of tea. Third was a trailer for Ansel Faraj’s latest film, Loon Lake, starring Selby and Scott. It looks like it has to do with a witch trial and came across as very atmospheric. Shot on location in southern Minnesota, the movie will be out in 2019.

Finally, the main attraction began. Narrated by Ian McShane, “Master of Dark Shadows” has been alternately billed as a 50th Anniversary DS documentary and a documentary about Dan Curtis. It is definitely more DS-centric, discussing the creative development of the show, its wild popularity, various incarnations, and the post-DS careers of Frid and Curtis. In addition to the original actors Parker, Selby, Scott, Pennock, Storm, Karlen, Lacy, Barrett, and Davis, revival actors Ben Cross and Barbara Steele, and unaired pilot star Alec Newman, the film includes interviews with Curtis’s daughters, Tracy and Cathy (who looks just like her dad), Curtis’s secretary, Rita Fein, Frid’s manager Mary O’Leary, celebrity fans Whoopi Goldberg and Alan Ball, Paley Center TV experts, writers Malcolm Marmorstein and William F. Nolan, as well as vintage interviews with Frid, ABC executives, and Curtis himself.

The doc opens with a personality sketch (William Nolan started reading off a list of descriptors: impatient, commanding, pragmatic, intimidating…) and brief biography of Curtis’s early years. His daughters revealed that Dan’s life was shaped by the early trauma of his mother’s death, as she was driving and conversing with him, when he was only 13. After that, he was sent to boarding school. He married Norma at a young age and attempted to forge a path in television on his own, since he didn’t like having to answer to a boss. His first success came from “CBS Match Play Golf Classic.”

Curtis told the story of how the plot of DS came to him in a dream. But the detail I hadn’t heard before was that when he woke up, he decided the idea was stupid. It was Norma who told him it was a great idea and talked him into pitching the show. Curtis wanted it to be a nighttime drama, but grudgingly agreed to make it a soap opera when ABC finally showed some interest. Even so, he tried to energize the show by speeding up the traditionally glacial soap opera pace. When it looked like DS would be canceled at the end of its first 13 weeks, Curtis bargained for an additional 13 weeks on condition that he could “take the lid off” and “make it scary” like his daughters wanted.

Malcolm Marmorstein claimed he introduced the first spook, Laura the Phoenix, and that Curtis was skeptical of the idea, but was happy when the new plot bought the show some additional weeks. Next up was the vampire, which Marmorstein conceived as a young, blond guy, the antithesis of Bela Lugosi. Yet, Ron Sproat cast his fellow Yale alumnus middle-aged, dark, Jonathan Frid (I’d heard it was Bob Costello who picked Frid), who inexplicably became a major sex symbol, attracting the attention of housewives and teens alike. Another detail that diverged from what I’d previously understood was that the character Barnabas was always intended to be sympathetic (what I’ve read and heard is that Curtis wanted Barnabas to be a bloodsucking monster, but when Frid started to imbue the character with vulnerability, he made Barnabas reluctant and sympathetic in order to keep the audience’s attention).

The Paley experts weighed in on how DS was revolutionary, both because it shook up the horror genre by creating a likable antihero vampire for the screen, and because it captivated the youth market. We saw the onslaught of toys and other products, clips of Frid’s various TV and personal appearances, and the actors’ reminiscences about the piles of fan mail and crowds of fans outside the studio. Storm remembered “it was a problem” when some of the fans found out where he lived. Frid drew so much attention that he had to move out of his apartment and into a more secure building with a doorman. Pennock’s experience was more colorful: he remarked that DS was popular with prostitutes and drug addicts. “Who else is going to be home at 4:00 to watch it?” He recalled walking home after taping and ,“The hookers would call out, “Hi, Jeb!”

After the first movie, both Curtis and Frid felt burned out. Frid refused to do Night of DS and complained that playing a vampire was hurting his career. “How about playing an unemployed actor?” Curtis retorted. But Curtis himself was chafing creatively too.  He felt horror was limiting him.  Even though his secretary would bring him back horror story books from the London bookshops on her annual vacations, he felt he’d run out of material. Curtis wasn’t enthused about later plots like the Leviathans and was glad when the show ended in 1971.

Even then, both he and Frid found themselves typecast. Frid was cast in The Devil’s Daughter and Seizure; Curtis made a series of horror novel adaptations for primetime, as well as Trilogy of Terror, the two Night Stalker movies, and the theatrical feature Burnt Offerings.  Eventually, Frid took a break from acting, and Curtis got funding to adapt Herman Wouk’s Winds of War.
Both it and the follow-up, War and Remembrance (which almost didn’t get made; Steele revealed that shortly after she and Curtis began to plan the second mini-series, the network announced they were canceling the project. Curtis convinced executive Barry Diller to pick it up again) were critically acclaimed but Remembrance wasn’t a ratings-buster like its predecessor. Curtis knew he would never reach those heights again; the funding and the network support would never be available again.

Getting the call to revive DS as a primetime show for NBC felt like a major step down. Curtis “didn’t want to go back to that world” and only agreed to do the show if he could reuse the original’s plots. The cast was great and the show was well-made, but the first Gulf War knocked it off the schedule. We saw footage of fans protesting to save DS (maybe the future members of the CFDS Fan Club?), albeit to no avail.

DS next became a pilot for WB in 2004. Mark Verheiden remembered the WB executives told him his script was the best pilot they had read for 2004. Alec Newman said he’d been assured the show was bound to be picked up and was stunned to get the call that the show wasn’t happening. Verheiden faulted director PJ Hogan, who’d been brought in at the last minute to replace Rob Bowman, who’d been seduced away to make the movie Electra. Hogan was an accomplished director, but his vision was at odds with the material. He was enamored of Dario Argento and the red-saturated look he created for DS didn’t look very Gothic.

But the fans keep DS alive! We got to see brief clips from the 2016 Festival. I recognized some of my friends in the background.  :)

After the documentary ended, Jim Pierson announced it would be available in a few weeks (in what context? Airing on TV? For purchase on DVD? He didn’t elaborate.) Then he called up the remaining DS guests (Davis, Storm, Scott, Parker, Selby, Marmorstein, and Lacy) to join in the Q&A.  He asked each to briefly introduce themselves, but that format was soon derailed.

Jerry went first. When Pierson asked if he’d learned anything he hadn’t known before about DS, he admitted that he had trouble hearing the film because he was seated in the back. Instead, he shared that a fan once thanked him for his portrayal of Rev. Trask because “it showed religion for what it really is.

Malcolm Marmorstein came next. The man can out-talk Roger Davis! He kept the microphone for an unexpectedly long time, mostly repeating anecdotes that had already been discussed in the film, and continued to break in to the Q&A when other actors were talking to tell his own anecdotes. His original prompt was whether he’d used his experiences on DS in any of his other jobs. Marmorstein remembered telling Bette Davis he had worked with Dan Curtis (this would have been during Return from Witch Mountain). “You should have heard what she had to say about him. She hated Dan Curtis!”  Later, he told a story about having his latest birthday party at a local Mexican restaurant. One of the cakes was decorated with a picture of Barnabas. “They (the restaurant staff) all went crazy when they saw it.” Pierson said DS had been aired in Latin and South America and was very popular there during its run.

Jim asked David Selby if he’d ever thought of doing a rap version of “Quentin’s Theme.” David laughed the idea away.

Lara Parker spoke of how intimidated Curtis made her feel. “I was afraid he’d fire me…I just tried to stay out of his way.” Selby countered that he’d never experienced any of Curtis’s gruffness as described in the doc. He had a warm relationship with the director and they saw each other off and on after both had relocated to LA. Selby remembered when Curtis was making the ’91 DS, but that he was too busy at the time to get involved in it. A few weeks into filming, however, Curtis called Selby and asked him to come to the studio and talk to Jean Simmons. “She’s afraid of me.” So Selby went to Warner Studios, sat next to her, and told her that while Curtis had a lot of passion, “He had the accompaniment to that, which is compassion. I told her she was safe, he wouldn’t eat her up.” Selby also talked about visiting Curtis at UCLA during his last illness. As they talked over old times, Curtis sighed and said, “I can’t believe this (that he’d reached the end of his life).” Finally, seeing the emotional toll on Selby, “He told me, ‘Go home.’”

KLS also spent time with Dan about 10 days before his death. “He was in the garden. It was the first day in a long time that he’d been able to go out. And he couldn’t talk. One of my DS book was nearby, so I put it in his lap. He couldn’t turn the pages, so I turned the pages and I’d point to a photo and tell him a story about the photo. He couldn’t talk but he’d nod and I could se he understood what I was saying.” She got choked up as she related this. “Dan was a Leo, a lion, but he was a pussycat at heart. I was never intimidated by him.” She acknowledged, however, that Curtis was forceful. During the filming of House of DS, he became exasperated that the families coming to the cemetery to bury their dead kept interrupting his shots and stared them down. “Remember when you were reciting the 23rd Psalm?” she asked Jerry. “Dan thought it was taking too long and the assistant director said, ‘Oh, God! Now he’s editing God!’”

Jim Storm told how Curtis was a huge help to him after he came out to California, immediately casting him in “Trilogy of Terror” and ordering the casting director to “find him an agent, this kid is a great actor” and help him get his union card. “I was forever grateful to him. I owed him a lot.” Eventually Storm was cast on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” right about the same time Curtis was making “Winds of War.” “He called me up and said, ‘I’ve got a part for you; you’re on a ship out at sea...’ I said, ‘OK, that’s great, but I just got cast on a soap opera—‘ ‘OK, never mind. Thanks anyway.’ And he hung up.” He felt a bond with Dan because they shared the same birthday.

Roger Davis said he always got along with Curtis. “You may have seen the video of someone asking, ‘Why did Roger Davis keep coming back on the show?’ Well, Dan really liked me. He kept bringing me back, even though I sometimes did things my co-stars found offensive.” (He later proved them right by telling the story of Don Briscoe’s bad trip, apropos of nothing at all).  He confessed, “I’d never seen DS when I was offered the chance to do the show. I was told I was going to be playing the love interest, and I thought that sounded boring.  In a horror movie, no one pays attention to the love interest. Even my wife of 20 years, who I met at a DS Festival, told me, ‘I never watched you. You weren’t a vampire.’ Well, I did get to be a vampire, once.” Dan insisted on bringing Roger back to play Maggie’s love interest in House of DS. By that point, Davis had gone to California and signed a contract with Universal.  Curtis got in touch with the higher-ups and Universal and either talked or bullied them into letting Davis be in his picture.

Pierson opened the floor for questions. One woman asked the cast if they had ever seen the entire show on DVD. “All twelve hundred twenty-five episodes?” KLS asked. The woman told them they were missing out. “The acting is really good.”

The next question: “What did you think of the Tim Burton movie?” KLS grimaced “I think we’re contractually obligated to not say.” Selby either hadn’t signed the same contract or hadn’t any qualms. “The first five or ten minutes were really good. I remember thinking, ‘We’re going on a nice, great journey.’ After that….Someone will get it right one day.” Toward the end, Lara also shared her in-depth opinion. “We all had high hopes for it. We thought it would be the next Pirates of the Caribbean and they would just go on making more and more movies. There were so many stories to tell.” Instead, “The opening was great, the music was great. Then we saw Barnabas hanging upside-down.” The biggest problem was that the movie had no story.  “It was just one set-piece after another. There was nothing to hold on to. You didn’t wonder what was going to happen next. Our show had so many stories and conflict in every scene. It kept you coming back every day.” Like Selby, she believes DS will rise again one day.

Kathryn spoke a little about the music video. She had just met the artist recently at an event and he asked her to play the Elizabeth Stoddard role. “I thought, ‘This will be the perfect time for me to wear the ball gown Joan Bennett gave me before she died.’” She appreciated the video’s homage to DS. She also praised Faraj, in the audience, for keeping DS alive by casting the actors in his films. His first movie was made shortly after he turned 20; for his birthday, his parents had offered him auto insurance or a film budget. He picked the movie. “You can imagine what our budget was like. But it’s gotten better since then.” She and Selby both enjoyed filming with him in Minnesota. “All of us on this stage are committed to keeping DS going,” she emphasized. “So if there’s something you want to do, send us your ideas.”

Finally, a man in the audience announced he wanted to recognize Lara’s birthday a week from now. He went up to the stage to give her a card and a gift (and passed out reusable bags to everyone else on the stage) and invited us all to join in singing her “Happy Birthday.”
The night concluded in a haphazard manner. Although autograph tables were set up in the lobby, there were no formal autograph sessions (I suppose because the event had run long).  People who had purchased photo ops with the actors earlier in the day were called up again to take pictures now that the composition of available stars had changed). As some attendees filtered out, others rushed the stage to get their own photos and/or autographs. Kathryn announced she and Lara will be back at the Collector’s show tomorrow at 11.

Apart from the technical difficulties and disorganized dissolution, it was a fun event. A number of people had come dressed in DS costumes, offering a festive atmosphere. The documentary was technically well-made and offered some details that were new to me. I appreciated the breadth of perspectives beyond the usual interviewees. I’m very glad LA got to host the premiere (since we haven’t been given the chance to host a Festival in 8 years) and I look forward to the general release Jim was talking about.

ProfStokes

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2018, 11:21:49 PM »
Thanks so much for your report, ProfStokes. As always, your attention to detail is extraordinary.  [ghost_smiley]

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2018, 02:58:13 AM »
Wow that was an in depth analysis Professor Stokes!

Offline Midnite

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2018, 06:15:07 AM »
Thank you for the writeup, ProfStokes!  Was looking forward to it.

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Re: From Chris Pennock
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2018, 07:06:56 AM »
Thank you so much for such a detailed account, ProfStokes!  You always provide such amazing narratives of these events, but this one really had lots of new and interesting information!!
Josette