Friday, June 28, 2013

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Lara Parker

I recently spoke with actress/novelist LARA PARKER about her upcoming Dark Shadows book, WOLF MOON RISING. Because the novel won't hit stores until Aug. 20, it's a little early to release that part of the conversation into the wild. Look for it to appear in our podcast sometime in the near future, possibly on the next full moon.

Our conversation covered a lot of ground, though. After chatting about the book, we spoke about her various roles on stage and screen. The subjects ranged from her early stage appearances in New York City during the days of DARK SHADOWS, to her movie and television roles opposite people like Farrah Fawcett, Robert Wagner, Tom Selleck and Pierce Brosnan.

Also, it's worth noting that I stole the idea for this feature from The AV Club's RANDOM ROLES series. I regret nothing.

Lara and John Heffernan in WOMAN IS MY IDEA.

WOMAN IS MY IDEA (1968) - Emily Wendridge
The rehearsal period for Broadway shows is very long, and the preview period was several weeks. So I worked on the play for a long time until it finally opened ... then it got a terrible review and closed in about two weeks. WOMAN IS MY IDEA was a vanity production. It was actually written, bankrolled and directed by a man who was a Mormon who felt he’d written this wonderful play. It cost a fortune, and you can imagine how critics feel about vanity productions.

I was very young and so thrilled to be on Broadway, so thrilled to be Off Broadway. I think my attitude about my career has always been one of enormous gratitude. I didn’t have a lot of bitter feelings (when the play failed.) I was relieved I didn’t have to go back to the play and perform again.

Lara and William Severs in LULU

LULU (1969) - Lulu
We worked four of five months on that play, and it went through many changes. That play could have been wonderful. It suffered from too many ideas. When you’re acting, you’re trying to fulfill the needs of the director. ‘Say this line this way. You have to move quicker through this scene. Play her like a kitten. Play her like a prostitute. Play her like a trollop.’ You’re constantly getting badgered by all these ways to do things, but the person who’s doing the creating is sitting out in the audience.

It should have been played completely different than the way I played it. I played it like a kittenish little sexpot and the critics didn’t like it, as well they should not have. But, when you’re young you don’t care about bad reviews. You still have your whole life ahead of you.

Lara in HI, MOM.

HI, MOM! (1970) - Jeannie Mitchell
(Director Brian De Palma) ended up not liking me. I was very naive and not very courageous. There was a scene in a bathtub, which was cut out of the movie, where he wanted me to be nude. I didn’t want to do it. It was all improvised. He wanted me to improvise sexual fantasies ... in a bathtub … with bubbles … in the nude. It seems strange today, because actresses will do anything to get successful. But I was way too shy and way too inexperienced to come up to his standards. I couldn’t do it.

He was a brand new director. He was treading water, too. He asked us to improvise these scene, ‘You guys just talk,’ which is hard to do when you’ve been learning lines for however long I’d been acting. I didn’t know how to do it.

KUNG FU (1972) - AMY ALLENDER
It was just unbelievable. I got to drive a horse and buggy. They had a horse wrangler that could make the horse prance and then fall down. It was Hollywood! It was just a thrill. I had a wonderful part, and then I don’t think I did anything for a year. I read for a lot of parts but didn’t get them. It’s not what people think. You don’t make one movie, become a millionaire and move to Malibu.
 
Jack Lemmon and Lara in SAVE THE TIGER.
SAVE THE TIGER (1973) - Margo
I came out to California to do SAVE THE TIGER, which was a really wonderful experience, then I went back to New York . My kids were getting older and my oldest son was going to middle school. I just didn’t think New York was safe for them. I thought they’d have a better life in California, and they did. It wasn’t that easy for them in New York City.

I thought that I’d become a big movie star. I didn’t realize that my best role was behind me, that Angelique was the best role I’d ever get. I was very, very confident when I came out to California. I had a good agent, I was with a big agency. Right away I was cast on KUNG FU and thought it was going to be a breeze.

Jack Lemmon was wonderful to me. Right after the director said ‘action,’ he said under his breath, ‘Magic Time!’ It gave you this little chill. You realized, ‘Oh my god, this is what I do. I’m an actor and I’m creating this moment, I’m making it real. It’s going to move people and excite people.’ It grounds you as an artist. And he said it every time.

(The director) had some kind of high-faluting idea where he wanted the other girl in the scene and me to embrace and kiss and caress each other. Of course I was humiliated. I was crying and didn’t want to do it ... but these are the things that happen to actresses. It was not in the scenes that I auditioned, and I didn’t expect it. I was told to do this on the set where I was trapped. I didn’t know how to do it, I wasn’t prepared to do it and I’d done no preparation that would suggest I had some kind of lesbian relationship with this other prostitute. She was actually a beautiful black model, a gorgeous girl. But it was unmotivated. You’re so used to doing what directors tell you to do that I did it, and was humiliated.

Jack Lemmon came up to me the next morning and said, ‘You don’t have to worry about a thing. None of that is in the picture.’ He laid down the law and saved my ass.

Telly Savalas and Lara in KOJAK.
KOJAK (1973, 1976) – Jenny Villers/Maria
BARETTA (1978) – Trudy
SWITCH (1976) - Ester Kelly / Shirley Harris / Tonya Mason

The ambiance on a television set is linked very strongly to the leading actor. For instance, there was a world of difference between KOJAK and SWITCH. Telly Savalas was a New Yorker and he hired a lot of guys from New York, so the set felt like you were in New York. You could hear New York accents, and it was kind of edgy and fraught with a certain kind of energy. The same with Robert Blake on the BARETTA set. Robert Blake was famous for firing people and losing his temper, so everyone was walking around the set on tip toe, trying not to do anything wrong. On SWITCH with Robert Wagner, everyone was laughing all the time. It’s amazing we ever got a scene shot because it was just one joke after another. Sometimes he wanted us to shoot something that was not in the script just so he’d have a piece of film for the Christmas party. (Wagner) was just so wonderful, so charming and sweet. So the set would feel different, depending on who the show revolved around. I always found that interesting.

Lara and Lee Majors in THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN.

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1974) - Andrea Collins
I think I was terrible in it. The way TV shows are filmed, maybe not so much anymore, but it’s all chopped up, it’s all out of order. Scenes are short, and there’s so much emphasis on hair and make-up and looking good. I don’t remember too much about making that. But I had to say something like ‘I’ll always have a candle lit in the window for you,’ and I just couldn’t say the line. I couldn’t get it out, it was just such a corny line.

But I got to go on location. I got to go on some Air Force base out in the desert, and it’s always fun to go out on location. (NOTE: Lara said her character's name was a coincidence, and not a nod to DARK SHADOWS.)


KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER (1975)
That was a phone call. I didn’t have to audition. Darren McGavin had no idea who I was and had no idea what DARK SHADOWS was. He said to me at one point, ‘This kind of thing is really hard to do because nobody understands how to do it.’ I just looked at him and didn’t say anything. He was kind of a bad-tempered person and a little hard to work with.

Didn't that episode end with you covered in blue dye?
 The whole ending was very unpleasant, but that’s often the case. I watched some of the DARK SHADOWS movie last night, and saw the scene where Josette’s lying in the waves, in the sea, after she’s jumped off the cliff. And all I could think was ‘Oh my God, that must have been horrible to shoot. That must have been so uncomfortable.’

Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker and Peter Fonda in RACE WITH THE DEVIL.

RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975) - Kelly Marsh
I was tucked into the movie by my agency, who represented a couple of the other actors. It was a plum given to me. I’ve told the story of the rattle snake so many times. I got all of Loretta Swit’s lines because she refused to even come on the set. People have a phobia against snakes, they don’t want to be within five miles of a snake. I felt the snakes were really beautiful. I watched the snake handler take the snakes and milk them. And they pulled the fangs, which was very cruel to the snake. The snakes can no longer bite because they had no fangs and they had no poison. And I had them all over me. I just felt so sorry for them. 

The director kept saying ‘Take the snake and bash it against the counter.’ I’d lift it up and set it down, and he’d curse and say ‘Bash that creature.’ Then he’d ask me to get the rattle and head in the close-up when I’m screaming. But I loved doing that scene. It’s like the hanging scene in NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. You never get a chance to something like that again.

S.W.A.T. (1975) - Susan
The only time I was really aware of someone’s strong charisma was in a cop show I did with Farrah Fawcett. She and I were both captives, we were tied up together and some crooks were trying to get a ransom. Since my character’s mental state was one of hysterical fear, I did a strong preparation so that I could have tears in my eyes and be trembling. (Fawcett) had just come from a photo shoot with some famous photographer, so she just walked onto the set and did the scene. I watched it later, and you could not take your eyes off of her. Here I was, acting up a storm with all this reality … sometimes you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to act at all. You just have to be a face the camera loves. She definitely had that.

DOCTORS' HOSPITAL (1976) - Angela Sloane
I was playing a model who went through a glass window at a party, and the injury affected her brain. She had to have brain surgery, and they put a bald cap on me so it looked like I had no hair. It was a really good part; I got to play a whole spectrum of emotions. And, in the end, Tom Selleck’s character abandons me because he was sick of being with someone who was sick. She turned into a prostitute, so I got to do that. It was a really great role.

Bill Bixby and Lara Parker in the pilot for THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) - Laura Banner
That was just one day (of shooting) and I don’t think I was ever credited. I was hoping I’d come back in another episode. I don’t think I was paid, I don’t think I was credited and I don’t think I did anything about it. I wasn’t on set for any of the Hulk transformation scenes.

Roger Davis, Lara Parker, William Daniels and a cylon in GALACTICA 1980.

GALACTICA 1980 (1980) - Shirley Blore
I remember a lot of costumes. Wasn’t there some kind of costume party? Roger (Davis) and I are friends. We talk on the phone and see each other every so often. He’s a builder now, he builds houses in Hollywood. My husband is a builder, so Roger calls (him) a lot, so it was nothing new seeing him on the set. Glen Larson, who was the producer, used me in several things, and he used Roger in several things.

Lara and Pierce Brosnan in REMINGTON STEELE.

REMINGTON STEELE (1983) - Lila Colbert
I thought about (Pierce Brosnan) and I thought about Robert Wagner. They were both more charismatic in person than they were on the screen. Robert Wagner is so charismatic in person. He’s so funny, so warm and so relaxed. And so is Pierce Brosnan. He was flirty and making jokes, putting you at ease. He knew how to make the actors on his set feel relaxed so they’d give good performances, which was such a gift. Then he went on to be James Bond and, I think, deservedly so.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

First look at DOCTOR MABUSE II


ANSEL FARAJ is deep in production on DOCTOR MABUSE 2, but took a moment to share a photo with me of actor DANE CORRIGAN as one of the villains of the feature. Ansel has been otherwise mum about the plot of the new film (though a few tidbits about the production have been appearing on various Twitter feeds in recent weeks,) but the first DOCTOR MABUSE included DARK SHADOWS alumni JERRY LACY, LARA PARKER and KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT. Some (if not all) of them are set to return for the next film, and they will be joined by CHRISTOPHER PENNOCK.

Collinsport News Bulletins


LISA RICHARDS returns to the role of Sabrina Jennings in THE ENEMY WITHIN, a Dark Shadows audio drama coming in July from BIG FINISH. CHRISTOPHER PENNOCK and NANCY BARRETT are also slated to be part of that production.

KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT announces a summer "blog tour" for her latest book, DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HEELS.

LARA PARKER is planning a book tour for her novel DARK SHADOWS: WOLF MOON RISING later this summer and is looking for possible venues.

PATRICK McCRAY is halfway through the latest phase of THE DARK SHADOWS EXPERIMENT.

And last but not least, today marks the anniversary of the debut of DARK SHADOWS back in 1966. Here's how the show was presented to newspaper readers 47 years ago.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

David Selby meets RIZZOLI & ISLES


Season 4 of RIZZOLI & ISLES debuted last night, and featured one DAVID SELBY in a prominent role. If you missed it, never fear ... TNT has the episode, titled WE ARE FAMILY, streaming for free on its website. Watch the entire episode for free by clicking HERE.

The episode marked an interesting convergence of actors who have played Commissioners named "Gordon" on various BATMAN cartoons. Selby voiced Commissioner James Gordon in the two recent DARK KNIGHT RETURNS animated movies. In 2000, Angie Harmon (one of the stars of RIZZOLI & ISLES) voiced an older Commissioner Barbara Gordon in BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER.

I mention this because I have a crippling addiction to trivia.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Canada's Walk of Fame: Jonathan Frid out, Alan Thicke in


Wow, this is disappointing. Not just because JONATHAN FRID didn't make the cut for CANADA'S WALK OF FAME this year, but because its board of directors stepped over him to welcome ALAN THICKE into the fold. You know ... the guy who wrote the theme song to DIFF'RENT STROKES and shares some blame for introducing the loathsome KIRK CAMERON to the world.

It's not my intention to pick on Alan Thicke, who didn't ask to be put in this position. He's probably a nice guy, and his "Random Roles" interview at THE AV CLUB is a fun read. But c'mon. He's Alan Thicke. He's never been the most popular part of any project he's been involved in.


It feels a little hypocritical to lobby for an actor to be recognized by one of these fame-based institutions and then slam said institution when things don't go your way. My contributions to the campaign were meager when compared to the time and effort of others involved. I think Jonathan Frid deserves to be on this list, but there are a ton of political aspects that make his induction a difficult task. No, Alan Thicke and That Guy From Titanic never had their likenesses on board games, puzzles, comicbooks and whatever, but they also never withdrew from their chosen profession (which Frid did for many years.) Also, That Guy From Titanic has tons of recent credits to his name, while Thicke ... well, I really don't know what the hell he's doing these days. Fashion, pragmatism and cronyism play a large part in the selection of these candidates, and it wouldn't be a surprise to find out CANADA'S WALK OF FAME paid zero attention to the write-in votes that were cast.

If you want an idea of how strange and weird the CWOF nomination process is, read this 2012 news story about how difficult it was to get PHIL HARTMAN elected.

So, Frid didn't make the cut. Should we try again next year? Sure! I met some interesting people throughout the course of the campaign, as I'm sure others did. These connections certainly won't hurt our chances in 2014 if the primemovers behind Frid's campaign decide to do it again. If the CWOF board has permanently stacked the deck against us, the least we can accomplish is to rub their noses in their own corruption.

Louis Edmonds in COME SPY WITH ME, 1967


Chances are, if you've heard the phrase COME SPY WITH ME, it was in reference to the song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, which was the theme to a 1967 comedy thriller starring TROY DONAHUE. The movie made little impression on audiences and is currently unavailable on home video.

Beyond the success of the movie's theme song, the only reason anybody talks about the film today is because of its connection to a pair of cult TV institutions: DARK SHADOWS and STAR TREK. Not only does the film feature ANDREA DROMM, a part of the original cast of Trek in the the show's second pilot, WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE, but SPY also features Collinwood's own LOUIS EDMONDS as a German assassin.

"It was sort of a fifth-rate James Bond type of movie, with so many pretty young girls -- and boys -- lounging around a swimming pool in Jamaica," Edmonds explained in Craig Hamrick's BIG LOU: THE LIFE AND CAREER OF LOUIS EDMONDS. "It was a fun part because I was a hired assassin, and I had a German accent and carried a gun. Eventually, my character was drowned by Troy in a grotto."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Podcast: BENEATH THE VEIL


In this installment of The Collinsport Historical Society podcast, PATRICK McCRAY speaks with KYMBERLY ASHMAN, writer of the upcoming DARK SHADOWS audio drama BENEATH THE VEIL. Find out why she thinks Marie Wallace's character EVE is so interesting, which original DARK SHADOWS character was underused and why Julia Hoffman would make a suitable villian for DOCTOR WHO.

Listen to the episode streaming above, or download it as an MP3 file by clicking HERE.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Preview: DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE #3


A familiar face arrives in Collinsport in this issue of DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE. I've not been following this story, though the idea of revising the "origin" of Barnabas Collins brings with it as many opportunities as pitfalls. While it's refreshing to see the tale move outdoors (and to see the camera removed from its stagebound moorings of the original TV series,) previous attempts to distill the 1795 story have usually missed the point. From the 1991 "revival" series to LARA PARRKER's novel, ANGELIQUE'S DESCENT, whenever the origin story is pared of seemingly unnecessary subplots, the story loses much of its resonance.

But that's just my opinion. What do you think of DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE?
 

David Selby in THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE, 1976

Betsy Palmer and David Selby in the 1976 performance of THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE.
THE ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE was a revised production of a TENNESSEE WILLIAMS play originally titled SUMMER AND SMOKE. If you're familiar with the works of Williams, you can probably guess many of the themes and situations featured in the story: Set in Mississippi in the early 20th century, NIGHTINGALE centers on a tumultuous romance between an unmarried minister's daughter and a roguish young doctor. I'm not familiar with the story, but I expect it ends badly for all involved.

New York Times art by Al Herschfeld.
The play was adapted at least twice in 1976, once as a TV movie with future Dracula FRANK LANGELLA, and another on Broadway with DAVID SELBY and BETSY PALMER. ("It) was the last show that Tennessee Williams had anything to do with while he was still alive, and it was beautiful working with him," Palmer told the website ICONS OF FRIGHT. Even though she has a long and varied acting career that spans several decades, Palmer is probably best known to audiences today as Pamela Vorhees in the original FRIDAY THE 13th.

(Interestingly, PALMER previously appeared in the 1964 play, ROAR LIKE A DOVE, which featured one JONATHAN FRID as an assistant stage manager and understudy to several lead roles.)

In his book MY SHADOWED PAST, Selby said SUMMER AND SMOKE had been subjected to so many revisions that NIGHTINGALE "was really a new play."

"I don't see how you could help loving that man," Selby said of Tennessee Williams. "I did love him. One night in Los Angeles, at the opening of his play OUT CRY, Tennessee greeted me with a big wet kiss on the lips. I returned it -- grateful to have had him, if only briefly, in my life."

NIGHTINGALE lasted only 28 performances, a number which includes four previews. I was unable to find any contemporary reviews of the production, but the creator of the blog RICK ON THEATER had this to say about the production:
The Broadway première had something of a curious history itself. Betsy Palmer and David Selby headed the cast of a summer-stock production of Eccentricities. Originally directed by Jeffrey Chambers, this production had problems with its design, direction, and some of the supporting cast. Neal Du Brock, Executive Director of the Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, took over for the last month of the tour. “The play was being buried under props and scenery,” Du Brock complained. He repackaged the production with the same stars but replaced half the supporting cast and remounted the production at the Studio Arena from 8 October to 6 November 1976. Du Brock brought in Edwin Sherin to replace Chambers and a Broadway-quality design team to redo the sets and costumes. When he turned the direction over to Sherin, Du Brock ordered, “[T]hrow it all out and do it on an empty stage.” The producer wanted “to let the actors speak and not have all that other stuff cluttering things up,” and the result was a spare, almost minimalist production. Sherin, harking back to his 1968 attempt on Long Island, averred, “I think some vibrations are set off, and the play’s effects are felt years and years later.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

David Selby returns to West Virginia

DAVID SELBY is appearing on stage later today as Abraham Lincoln in the first performance of THE CIVIL WAR at this year's FestivALL event in Charleston, W.Va.  It's hardly the first time Selby, a West Virginia native, has played the president. Despite his numerous turns as Richard Channing on FALCON CREST and Quentin Collins on DARK SHADOWS, Selby has been playing the role of Lincoln since before those characters were invented. You can read coverage of Selby's appearance, and see a few promotional photos of the event, in this story from THE CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL.

And, if you're new to the Collinsport Historical Society, don't miss this extended interview we did with Selby in Februrary, in which he discusses his long-time fascination with Lincoln.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

COLLINSPORT SHIPPING: Dark Shadows Vs. the World



Part II of Con-fusion, the art of crossover fanfiction, concerns the comedic possibilities of combining Dark Shadows with an unrelated work of fiction, drama, TV show.

A funny example is Collinsport High, a Mean Girls meme, by Sanpan. It’s short and cute.

South Collinsport.
I recently spoke to Feriku, whom I met on the Drawing Room Forum at Collinsport.net. She started a thread about crossover fanfics and a collection of ideas for zany spoofs. True, she is a writer who has yet to actually author a DS fanfic, but the young lady is a discriminating reader (and successful writer in other categories) and a big fan so I think she will go places once she get out of the starting gate.

Feriku is 22 years old with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and minor in Creative Writing, and about to seriously hone her skills in an intense fiction-writing graduate program. She also does freelance work; one job is a long-term position as the creative writer for a fashion store called Wizards of the West. Instead of standard product descriptions, all of the store’s products are linked together as part of an overarching fantasy story involving powerful wizards, grumpy scientists and dark forces just beginning to show themselves.

She has had several works of original fiction published as Samantha Lienhard. Zombie fans may enjoy Sacreya’s Legacy, a horror serial, starring a zombie detective, which is available online for free! Her resume also includes the short Christmas romance, A Special Present, and a zombie comedy novella, The Accidental Zombie. The author is currently running a contest to give away a free copy of The Accidental Zombie. In addition, this summer should see the publication of The Book at Dernier, a Lovecraftian horror serial.

Well, that’s all very nice, but how about some Shadows fic?


*

I’m actually a pretty new [Dark Shadows] fan; it’s just over a year now that I’ve been watching it, but the story actually begins a bit before that. I can remember being a little girl listening to my mom tell me about a show that her mom had watched. It was a soap opera, but it had a character who was a vampire, and another who was a werewolf, and there was a witch, too! At the time, I tried to picture all that on a soap opera, and was completely bewildered. The idea didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I thought it sounded like something I might watch.

The next time I heard about Dark Shadows was several years ago, after my family had discovered the miracle of iTunes.

“I have a surprise for you,” my mom said to my grandmother, handing her the iPod earbuds so that she could hear the new song she’d purchased. Almost immediately after my mom started the song, my grandmother let out an amazed gasp. “Quentin! That’s Quentin’s theme, from Dark Shadows!” 



And so, over the years, references to this strange show came up from time to time with no apparent chance of me ever getting to see it, until last May, when I decided to take a gamble and get the Dark Shadows Collection 1 as a Mother’s Day present.

I’m not sure how long it took me to become a fan. It might have happened the very moment that Willie’s insane grin turned to a look of utter horror as a hand emerged from the coffin he was hoping to rob. (Somewhere very early on, we went to see the 2012 movie—the less I say about that, the better, although some day I want to write a fanfic about the show’s characters watching it.) As we watched more episodes, I fell hopelessly in love with the show. We were getting close to the end of Collection 1 when I convinced my mom that we needed to buy the complete series, and we’ve been watching Dark Shadows ever since!


Due to the fact that I’m still not finished watching the show (at this writing, I’m somewhere in the 600s), the first thing that limits my choice of fanfiction to read is its potential for spoilers: is it before or after what I’ve already seen? The only exceptions I’ve made are an unfinished story titled “Monkeewood,” because a crossover between Dark Shadows and The Monkees sounded hilarious, and Ends, an after-the-end-of-the-show Barnabas/Julia story, because I couldn’t resist.


I can get a little picky about my choice of stories, after that. If I see an idea that sounds interesting, I’ll take a look at the first page. If it is overloaded with non-canon characters, I won’t read it. If they are acting very out-of-character and it’s not meant to be silly, I won’t read it—or I will seethe for days while resisting the urge to contact the writer and explain to them why their characterization makes me so angry. If the writing is bogged down with spelling errors, grammatical errors and huge walls of text, I won’t read it.


Fanfiction.net (my primary source for stories) does not let you search by character for Dark Shadows, which frustrates me to no end (has no one ever sent them a cast list?). After all, I want to read about my favorite characters: Barnabas, Sarah, Willie, Maggie, Julia… I’ll give odd-sounding plotlines a try; even if some leave me giggling over illogical scenarios and inexplicable plot twists, others keep me more interested than I expected and reading on to the end. Blood and Jasmines by SweetFaith06 is a good example of one that I looked at just out of bewildered curiosity of how a Barnabas/ Josette/Willie love triangle was even possible, and ended up finishing in the same sitting.


DARK SHADOWS meets THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Diane Tran.
Since I have yet to post a single Dark Shadows fanfic, it might sound absurd of me to say that I’m much more into writing fanfiction than reading it, but it’s true—it’s just my current position in the show that has kept me from producing the story ideas dancing around in my brain. Once I finish the show, then I’ll know enough to be able to choose the best setting in the timeline, know exactly what characters to include, know what possible plotlines are invalidated by canon, and be able to do research without fear of spoilers!

My fanfiction tends to come in two varieties: serious, developed stories, and utterly insane comedies. I especially like crossovers. It just fascinates me to think of two different worlds and casts of characters coming together, and trying to keep everyone in-character is even more fun when the setting is wildly different. My favorite idea so far for a Dark Shadows fanfic is a crossover with Green Acres. And it will most definitely be a comedy.


For anyone unfamiliar with Green Acres, it’s a sitcom from the ’60s about Oliver Douglas, a lawyer who moves from New York with his wife, Lisa, to buy a farm just outside a wacky town called Hooterville. It is utterly surreal, and as far as I’m concerned, that means I can use Hooterville logic to justify just about any crossover. My tentative title for this fanfic is “Who is Josette Collins and What Has She Got to Do With Baseball?” which should give you an idea of how strange it will be. So far, I’ve written one early scene and a handful of excerpts and notes.


When Eb, Oliver’s hired hand, wins a free vacation, Oliver objects to him leaving just before planting season. But Eb has already figured out who he can get to take his place for a while—Willie Loomis. He had met Willie several years previously, and, well, let me just show you where this is going with a short excerpt…


The streets of the city faded, and they were back in the kitchen. Eb looked at the two of them expectantly. 


“That’s it! So, can I go on vacation?”

“That’s it?” Oliver demanded. “What about the secret? What was it?”


“I can’t tell you that; I made a promise!”


“You vant him to break his promise?” Lisa demanded.


“I’m not hiring anyone with a mysterious and possibly dangerous secret!” Oliver folded his arms. “So, Eb, if you really want to go on that trip, you’re going to have to either tell me what Willie said to you, or find someone else to work for me while you’re gone.”


“Well…” Eb took a deep breath. “I guess it’s all right, since I’m just telling the two of you. Don’t go repeating it now, okay?”


“We won’t say a word,” Oliver said.


“All right… He told me that the guy he works for…” Eb paused dramatically before finishing. “…is an umpire.”


Oliver stared at him. “What kind of a secret is that?!”


“In the old country, ve had a custom,” Lisa said. “You alvays carry a bag of sand vis you, so that if you meet an umpire, you throw the sand on the ground, and he has to count it!”


“Yeah, baseball games in Hungary must be something else,” Oliver muttered, glancing sideways at her before returning his attention to Eb.


Eb’s eyes were bright with excitement. “The way I got it figured is that he must’ve been supposed to make a certain call in a game, but he didn’t, and so now he’s gotta keep a low profile, or the Mob will find him!”


“That makes sense!” Lisa said.


“No it doesn’t!” Oliver stared at Eb, wondering if his hired hand had finally gone completely crazy.



That’s funny, and it captures the flavor of Green Acres perfectly. I would need to see the entrance of some DS characters by Chapter 2, though.

I hope that Feriku will break down and write a Dark Shadows piece soon and stop worrying so much about accuracy. Where I can understand she doesn’t want to contradict canon, most of our favorite fanfics are alternative universe stories that peacefully coexist alongside their original inspirations. The beauty part about fanfiction is to start with a piece of paper, blank except for two words: What if . . . ?
Gee whiz, if I worried about real storylines, the Willie Loomis World Series would be less than a paragraph.

This DARK SHADOWS/KOLCHAK crossover actually happened.
And she’s up the 600s? I’m on #75. True, this is not my first encounter, I watched the show in 1967 and again in 1977, in addition to the paltry offering from streaming Netflix, but today I wouldn’t know a Leviathan if he hit me on the head. So, I don’t write about them. Watching these early episodes is my first foray into pre-Barnabas plotline and, where I would be loath to make a disparaging remark, that vampire ain’t going to show up a minute too soon. No offence to Bill Malloy, bleeder valves and fountain pens everywhere.

Did I get distracted again? We were talking about parody crossovers. I have transcribed to paper (well, screen) the lyrics which swam in my head last night: a combination of DS and a song from an Off-Broadway musical based on the Peanuts comic strip. I hope that’s not too obscure, or no more than Sondheim and Shakespeare.

Lights up. Julia is sitting behind a large box which serves as a desk. The sign overhead reads “Psychiatric Help.” Below is another sign: "THE DOCTOR IS IN." Barnabas enters.

Barnabas:Oh, Julia, I'm so depressed. I don't know what to do.

Julia:  I'm sorry to hear that, Barnabas. Maybe there's something I can do to help. I think that the best thing would be for you to come out and admit everything that's wrong with you.

Barnabas: Do you really think that will help?

Julia:  Certainly.

Barnabas:Very well, I'll try.
(sings)
Who cares if I'm handsome and clever and lucid?
So what if I like drinking plasma for dinner?
I've always been known for my paranoid mood swings, and kidnapping, choking and killing off extras.
I think that I'm splendid at parties and dances
But I stand like a stick, or flies land on my face.
Or I murder the hostess
or bite Nancy Barrett
Start swinging my cane
and I spill all the claret
Oh, how could there possibly be
one fine person so thoroughly, totally, utterly bad as me.

Julia: (speaks) Well, that's okay for a starter.

Barnabas: A starter?

Julia:  Certainly. You don't think that mentioning these few superficial failings is going to do you any good, do you? Why, Barnabas, you really have to delve.
(sings)
You're stubborn, self-centered and moody.

Barnabas:I'm moody.

Julia:  You're terribly dull to be with.

Barnabas:Yes, I am.
And nobody likes me, not Maggie or Roger or Vicky or David…

Julia:  Or Julia.

Barnabas: Or Julia.

Julia: Or Willie.

Barnabas:Or Wil—
(speaks) Wait a minute, now. Willie likes me.

Julia: He only pretends to like you because you beat him. That doesn't count.

Barnabas:(softly) Or Willie. (sings)
Oh, why was I born just to be
One fine person so thoroughly, totally, utterly—

Julia: Wait!
You're not such a very nice person.

Barnabas: That's certain.

Julia: And yet there is reason for hope.

Barnabas: There's hope?

Julia: For, although you are no good at drinking like Roger
Or pouting like David
Or mugging . . . like me
You have the distinction to be
No one else but the number one reason our ratings are tops.

Barnabas: It's me!

Julia: Oh yes
It's amazingly true
For whatever it's worth, Barnabas
It's you.

Barnabas: (speaks) Quite extraordinary. I'm beginning to feel better already. You're a true friend, Julia, a true friend.

Julia: That'll be five cents, please.

Blackout.

PS: I have been in contact with a friend of John Karlen’s son, Adam, who informed me that Johnny is in the hospital with complications from diabetes. Please keep him in your thoughts or prayers. Love you, JK.

______________________________________________________________________________

Marie Maginity is the author of the six-part Willie Loomis World Series, and writes under the names Mad Margaret and Lizzie Bathory. She has a BA in Theatre and works as a professional actor, director and drama teacher. She has had many “straight” jobs, including bartender, gas station jockey, graphic artist, website designer, facepainter and film projectionist. Once, she bullshitted her way into a newspaper job as a reporter and, over the next eight years, became a copy editor, feature writer and assistant editor. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with one husband, two daughters and two cats.

Monday, June 17, 2013

BARNABAS COLLINS by Aaron Campbell



More from my sketchbook: BARNABAS COLLINS by Aaron Campbell, the illustrator of the first three issues of Dynamite's DARK SHADOWS comicbook series. This was drawn at the 2013 HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C., for those of you keeping score at home.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Deleted scenes from 1991 DARK SHADOWS pilot


Back in the days before DVD came along, the home video market was fairly unwelcoming to television shows. While DARK SHADOWS and STAR TREK managed to find an audience on VHS, too many shows were relegated to "subscription service" plans from distributors that obliged customers to sign up for expensive video tapes that rarely contained more than two episodes.

The home video release of the 1990 DARK SHADOWS "revival" series contained only a single episode per tape, and each tape probably cost more than $20. The video at the top of this post allegedly came from one of those VHS tapes: It's a compilation of more than 10 minutes of footage from the pilot for the revival series. Not surprisingly, these scenes do nothing to move the story forward, though they provide a lot more insight into the show's various relationships. There's some good stuff here, even if these scenes (and the decision to excise them) underscore the many problems with the revival series.

Strangely, it doesn't appear that these scenes were provided with the DVD release of the series. Amazon's listings show only the word "NONE" in it's list of special features, so my thanks to whoever uploaded this video to Youtube.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Eve returns in BENEATH THE VEIL


Well, THIS certainly got my attention.

When Big Finish announced the next slate of DARK SHADOWS audio dramas, it appeared they were setting off into uncharted waters. A handful of original cast members were attached to these episodes, but there were also many new names and faces involved. If BF wanted to experiment with the formula by creating new heroes and heroines -- characters free from the shackles of existing continuity -- I was willing to go with them. It would have been a risky venture, for sure, but the company has earned the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, I was relieved to see the return in this episode of DARK SHADOWS stalwarts KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT and NANCY BARRETT, not to mention MARIE WALLACE in one of my favorite roles: Eve. The early details of the upcoming episode, BENEATH THE VEIL, simply mentioned that a serial killer had arrived in Collinsport. Eve's past life as French maniac Danielle Roget almost gaurantees she's somehow involved.  Here's the official summary: 
Alfie Chapman and Emma Finney, a young English couple, are on a road trip, travelling across America. When their car breaks down, they find themselves having to stay overnight in the small town of Collinsport.

And on that night, people start dying.

As Alfie and Emma become acquainted with the residents, they discover that there's more to the sleepy little town of Collinsport than they first thought.

But will they discover the truth behind the murders before they become the next victims?
BENEATH THE VEIL is scheduled to arrive in July. You can listen to an audio trailer for the story at the company's website, and look for an interview here with the episode's author, KYMBERLY ASHMAN, in the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Collinsport News Bulletins


Today marks the 47th anniversary of DARK SHADOWS' first episode, which was shot June 13, 1966. According to the website We Love Soaps, the "pilot" was filmed twice, with the second taping being the one to actually air.

KATHRYN LEIGH SCOTT is scheduled to appear at this year's Crypticon Minneapolis in September, joining the likes of Billy Dee Williams, Don Coscarelli and Ted Raimi for the weekend horror convention.

Collinsport Historical Society contributor DAVID-ELIJAH NAHMOD has landed a regular column at Fangoria Online about DARK SHADOWS. Expect to read his first entry June 15.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

BARNABAS COLLINS by John Febonio


Artist JOHN FEBONIO is auctioning an 11x13 oil painting of JONATHAN FRID as Barnabas Collins. Had I not just blown my budget for art at last weekend's HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C., I'd be competing for this piece. Sadly, I'm out of the running. If you're looking to add some original art to your collection, though, Febonio's portrait currently stands at $22 on Ebay. The auction ends June 13, 2013.

Good luck!

Dark Shadows Diary, Episode 90


Episode 90: "Psychopathy 101"
Oct. 27, 1966

Part of me is beginning to resent how David Collins softened as DARK SHADOWS progressed. I'm not sure there was a future for a character as amoral and damaged as he's depicted in these early episodes, but David presented the kind of lingering conflict rarely seen on television. Having a child that's a psychopath/sociopath is a tragedy that keeps on giving, and this version of David offered an endless opportunity for drama ... even after vampires became common visitors to Collinwood. I'd like to have seen this version of the character grow up and eventually take the reigns of the estate.

While he's not actually in this episode, David even makes Roger a more sympathetic, dynamic character. Roger's not wrong in his assessment of the child's menace, even if his lack of compassion for his son is distasteful. In a way, he's to be admired for surviving putting up with the boy's deadly shenanigans for as long as he has. I mean, David Collins is legitimately dangerous. Consider this gem of dialogue, which shows him limply struggling with his own lack of conscience.

VICTORIA: "You said, and I think I'm quoting you pretty closely, you said 'I hate you.' You said 'If you die, I won't even come to my funeral.' You said 'I hope you stay in that locked room for the rest of your life.'"
DAVID: "Did I say that?"

VICTORIA: "You certainly did."

DAVID: "I didn't mean it. Not all of it."

VICTORIA: "Really? Which part didn't you mean, David?"

DAVID: "Well ... if you died, I would come to your funeral."

VICTORIA: "I suppose that's something. Why would you come to my funeral?"
DAVID: "Because I like funerals."
This kid would have spooked Wednesday Addams. And he's just getting warmed up.

Victoria Winters has wisely decided that her best course of action is to leave Collinwood. Usually, most of the town would have turned out to help her pack. So many people have told her to leave that it would bust the budget to have them all on the same episode: David, Roger, Maggie, Burke, Carolyn ... Bill Malloy actually came back from the dead to tell her to piss off.

Just to make things more confusing, many of those same characters lined up in this episode to now ask her to stay.  I'm not sure if I admire or pity Victoria's gumption, but both her patience and my own got stretched to the breaking point in this episode.

This feature was actually written last Thursday. Just as it was finished, the platform used to create this website momentarily went offline. When it righted itself, this post reverted to the last time I'd saved it, which was less than half-way finished. Now, almost a week later, I've forgotten some of the episode's finer points. Here are the significant plot beats: For reasons I didn't understand, Carolyn and Victoria went snooping around the West Wing for clues to Victoria's ghostly visitor. Victoria found a ledger with the name "B. Hanscombe" on it, I made some snarky comments about the show's Scooby Doo-esque habit of running the characters around dead-end plot points and asked the question, "Who would want to steal a clump of old seaweed?" It was brilliant, I assure you.

But none of that really compares to the episode-ending revelation about David. Expecting some sort of reward for NOT locking the door to the West Wing while Victoria and Carolyn were away, he makes a desperate plea for the governess to stay. He admits he loves Victoria and storms off, leaving Carolyn more shaken than Victoria. Carolyn says she's only ever heard David admit to loving anything once, and that was a kitten he used to have. A kitten he later drowned.

Monday, June 10, 2013

BARNABAS COLLINS by Francesco Francavilla


Francesco Francavilla.
I spent the weekend at the annual HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C., most of which was devoted to the pursuit of sketches and signatures from the creators in attendance. By the end of the weekend, I managed to add a few more DARK SHADOWS themed drawings to my sketchbook, and plan to share them here over the next few weeks.

It seemed only proper, though, that I lead off with this beauty: BARNABAS COLLINS by artist Francesco Francavilla. Francavilla won the 2012 Eisner Award for "Best Cover Artist" for his work on DARK SHADOWS, THE LONE RANGER, THE BLACK PANTER and others, and created this sketch of Jonathan Frid for me from memory.

While I've been a little hard on Dynamite's various DARK SHADOWS comics, Francavilla has certainly not been part of those books' various problems. He's a terrific artist, one who manages to evoke influences as diverse as Jack Kirby, Eduardo Barreto and Frank Miller without looking very much like any of those guys (if that makes sense.)

You can see more of Francesco Francavilla's work at his official website, www.francescofrancavilla.com.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sharon Lentz sells SUGAR CRISP



Man, I miss the days when cereal companies didn't even TRY to hide their product's empty, tooth-rotting tendencies. This might as well be a commercial for crystal meth. While the product's history is fuzzy, Sugar Crisp was eventually renamed "Super Sugar Crisp" before settling on the more benign "Golden Crisp." Not to be outdone, Kellogg's sold pretty much the same product under the William S. Burroughs sounding name of "Sugar Smacks."

Now the phrase "Naked Lunchables" has appeared in my head and I'm trying to not imagine what that product might be like. But I digress.

Those of you with sharp eyes will recognize a very young SHARON SMYTH LENTZ in the commercial above. This was a few years before her stint on DARK SHADOWS as Sarah Collins. There's some speculation on Youtube about the identity of the actor playing "Big Kid" in the commercial, but it's possible it might be the late JEFF CONAWAY of TAXI.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Victoria Winters by MILKY MIXER

So, I was in the process of writing up Episode 90 for the DARK SHADOWS DIARY when Blogger went kaput. The site wasn't down long, but I lost half the post before the ship righted itself. I'm going to be away for a few days as I get my nerd on at a comic convention, but wanted to share a few images before I go. These are customized MONSTER HIGH dolls from the Flickr feed of one MILKY MIXER. They're just one more reminder of how we haven't gotten any stylish, fun DARK SHADOWS toys in a while.

See you Monday!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Preview: DARK SHADOWS #17


It's been a while since I've read any of Dynamite Entertainment's DARK SHADOWS books. Last year's Vampirella crossover was soul-crushingly terrible, and the fast decline of the regular title only seemed better by comparison. But, time heals all wounds, and I have to admit a certain morbid curiosity about what's been happening in the series since I abandoned it like so much Eli Wallach.

Dynamite has released a preview of the latest issue of the series, which you can see below. Looks like Nicholas Blair is back, which is cool. I guess. It's difficult to work up much enthusiasm for the book after being burned so many times in the past. What are your thoughts?







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