NETFLIX CONTROVERSY IS HARDLY NEW

Netflix, the online streaming service, has been embroiled in controversy for the last several years involving some of its original programming’s ability to be deemed valid as a cinematic achievement. In short, should a project made for online streaming be judged worthy of cinematic awards just because it played briefly in theaters to qualify for award season? It began mostly when Netflix won the Best Picture Oscar last year for the film Roma.
It’s a strange conundrum to be sure but the fact of the matter is the controversy is NOT a new one. Matter of fact, it dates back to the early 1960s.

Theatrical poster for the made-for-TV movie (the first!) THE KILLERS, released in theaters worldwide.

Not an identical scenario, I grant you that, but pretty similar. Meant to be the first ever TV-movie, director Don Siegel’s remake of The Killers, was made on a shoestring budget (and it shows) and was the brainchild of media mogul, Lew Wasserman. The film’s femme fatale, Angie Dickinson, told me that Wasserman came up with the idea by stating, “Why should we keep doling out good money to the studios for their films when we at the networks can make our own!” She paraphrased it but you get the point.
Good idea, right? It did, of course, catch on in time but this first effort fell victim to bad timing. Just as it was about to go into production, Kennedy was assassinated. With the country still in a state of shock even after the production was finished, the network thought the concept, let alone the name, too violent to air on TV and chose instead to release it in theaters. All of which, including exclusive interviews with most of the cast, can be read about in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Blind receptionist Virginia Christie is terrorized by title character Lee Marvin in THE KILLERS in the opening  scene making the point  it was too violent for TV in the wake of JFK’s death.

Now, with the Netflix production of The Irishman sure to be up for a slew of awards, including the Oscars, the question again is raised…but once again, not so fast in terms of this being the first time of such an occurrence. When The Killers was released overseas in 1965, the British Academy of Film Awards (BAFTA) named the winner that year for Best Actor in a Foreign Film won for two films: one was Cat Ballou and the other was, that’s right, The Killers. The actor of course was Lee Marvin who gladly accepted, despite his very publicly known dislike of the medium of television.
Netflix controversy? Everything old is new again.
– Dwayne Epstein

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FROM ADAM SANDLER TO LEE MARVIN IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS

People In The News: Adam Sandler (2004) published by Lucent Books, and then Lee Marvin Point Blank in paperback format as published by Schaffner Press in 2014.

Adam Sandler’s impressive comeback via his Netflix projects proves that talent will win out, especially following his recent disastrous, high-profile and expensive flops. Although not a huge fan of his output, I could have predicted his comeback, even though his core audience has grown up. How do I know? Bear with me…
A possible connection between Sandler and Lee Marvin is of course anything but obvious. However, with yours truly at the helm of this blog, there becomes one. To put it another way, there would never have been 2013’s Lee Marvin Point Blank had there not been 2004’s People in the News: Adam Sandler. Hardly clarifies, now does it? Heh, heh. I shall elaborate.
I came in contact with the good folks at Lucent (alternately known as Gale, Greenhaven and god knows what all) by good fortune and discovered their People in the News series. They promptly offered me either George Bush Jr, Eminem or Adam Sandler. The choice became obvious. Thank god Sandler made Punch-Drunk Love or I never would have survived!
They also informed me of certain writing requirements for each title in the series. Chief among them was to not only write each chapter chronologically (duh!), but more importantly, emphasize an important theme within each chapter. THAT dear reader proved to be the best lesson and ongoing exercise I ever got in biographical research and writing. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank may hopefully see the chapter themes as well as the overall theme of Marvin’s life and work. It was a direct result of my writing about Sandler and later other prominent contemporary figures. I actually wish those books were still being published but alas, the likes of Wikipedia’s popularity put an end to the series. Ahh, well. Such is life.
I came up with the chapter titles based on those themes I came up with in researching Sandler’s life and work, as shown below….

Copyright page and table of contents for Adam Sandler People in the News.

I also discovered no matter how easy you might think writing the introduction might be, ALWAYS write it last. It may seem obvious but it took me some frustrating rewrites to discover that the intro is the end game, since you never know what the main theme is until the project is written. Good lesson. It also created a new respect for Sandler’s output and his resiliency. I did the same with Lee Marvin Point Blank which proved to be the theme AND title of the book. My Sandler intro below, bears this out…

Introduction to Adam Sandler People in the News and the theme therein.

It must have worked since the the editors liked it and I did write several more as a hired gun. I never received royalties so I never knew if it was selling well or was well-received. Imagine my surprise when I saw this review on Amazon on April 29, 2015: “Delivered promptly and in excellent condition. My 11-year old son wants to be a comedian, and this was the perfect book for him and he even received school credit for reading it.”
Cool, huh? I guess discovering the theme of Sandler’s work, no matter how corny or distasteful it may be to some, proved successful, after all. Yeah, Sandler’s going to be around for a while, Hopefully, I will, too.

Here’s proof that I had nothing to do with the choice of photos used or the captions that were written. I would not have chosen this photo and if I did, I surely would have mentioned that looks on Dana Carvey and especially Phil Hartman’s faces.

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