jump to navigation

London combines charity road trip with TV production September 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television, Vehicles.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Here’s something you don’t see every day — a British television company aims to raise more than $400,000 for a cancer support group and gain a television series at the same time by using a journey on Route 66 in an electric car as the backdrop.

It’s called “Route 66 — The Ultimate Challenge,” and it’s scheduled to begin from the Santa Monica Pier on Sunday.

From the news release:

Jamie Branson, Chairman of View TV Group, is joining forces with his colleagues at Only Motors – a production company within the Group – to drive from LA to New York via the famous Route 66. The idea is to make 12 TV programmes in just 12 days.

The event, which was dreamt up by Branson, kicks off with a flight from London on 21st September 2014. Once in the States, the crew will steer across the star spangled continent, stopping off to make various TV features every day. [...]

“We’ll be covering 4,000 miles of tarmac in not just any car – it’ll be an electrically powered motor. But the real test is completing more than 100 scenes of film shoots while we’re out on the road and at our pit-stops.”

The itinerary — with stops at landmarks — is here.

Teen with rare aging disease is touring Route 66 September 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Road trips, Television.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Sammy Basso, an 18-year-old Italian boy afflicted with progeria, a rare genetic disease that ages him prematurely, is traveling Route 66, and a subsidiary with the National Geographic Channel is documenting the journey, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph.

The folks in Pontiac, Illinois, in typical fashion, rolled out the red carpet for him:

Basso, his family, best friend and film crew arrived in Pontiac Monday evening and had dinner with Mayor Bob Russell, said Pontiac Tourism Director Ellie Alexander. The mayor allowed Basso, who understands and speaks English, to gavel that night’s City Council meeting to order.

After the meeting, Basso, his crew and city officials went to Chautauqua Park where Russell presented Basso with a key to the city and proclaimed Monday as Sammy Basso Day. After Basso received other gifts, the Vermilion Players presented their Route 66 musical review.

“Sammy said ‘Pontiac is such a beautiful country,'” Alexander said.

According to the African-American Holy Angels Catholic Church in Chicago that hosted Basso a few days ago, the Standbyme.tv documentary will air on Christmas Day in Italy, then later in English in the United States. Basso also is scheduled to meet Amish people in Illinois, an authentic Native American chief and members of various other American cultures during his journey.

Progeria typically causes death through heart attack or stroke from hardening of the arteries. It’s uncertain how much time Basso has left, but progeria patients often die by their early 20s.

UPDATE 9/18/2014: Basso was in St. Louis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Cardinals baseball game. According to KTVI-TV’s report, his Route 66 journey will end at Santa Monica on Sept. 30, when he will receive “a special surprise.”

(Image of Sammy Basso and his mother Laura by Tatiana Zaghet via Flickr)

“Route 66″ performed on Indonesia TV September 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Television.
Tags: ,
2 comments

Bobby Troup’s estate got another dose of cha-ching Friday. On a show called “Rising Star Indonesia,” contestant Reyna Qotrunnada performed his best-known song.

Yes, her English during the song is a clumsy, but do remember it’s not her mother tongue.

But it seemed a lot of people in the audience recognized it. It’s amazing how “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66″ has rocketed all over the world.

And lest you scoff at Indonesia, it is a nation of 250 million people. That’s a lot of potential Route 66 fans.

Questions for Clint Eastwood and his Tucumcari time August 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Television, Towns.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

David Stevens, editor of the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune in New Mexico, in a column said he had a few questions for potential interview subjects about long-ago local issues. Stevens’ wish list had some urgency because all the people “are getting old,” he said.

One of those interview subjects would be actor Clint Eastwood, who spent time in the Route 66 town of Tucumcari, New Mexico,  to film the television show “Rawhide.”

  • I want to know about Tucumcari in 1959 when he lived there six weeks filming “Rawhide.”
  • I want to have lunch with him at Del’s and ask if the food was better then or now.
  • I want to know what he thought about Route 66 in those days, if he even had a thought about that historic highway we’d all like to revisit, complete with its neon lights and hotel rooms with garages attached.
  • I’d like to know if he remembers hearing about the 13-year-old Quay County boy walking into his parents’ bedroom that summer and shooting them with a deer rifle. Gordon Ellis’ father died a few days later.
  • And I want to know how actress Kipp Hamilton ended up hospitalized for two days after accidentally stabbing herself in the foot with a knife while filming.

According to a 2010 story in Route 66 News, Tucumcari was used as a base for five episodes of the TV western. According to an excerpt from a Quay County Sun article at the time:

Actors and technicians arrived in Tucumcari on Aug. 10, 1959, for six weeks of work, the Tucumcari Daily News reported.

The show’s stars included Eastwood, Eric Fleming and Sheb Wooley. Guest stars also popped in and out of town for brief appearances.

The paper reported scenes were filmed at three Quay County ranches. The cast and crew, about 65 in all, were seen regularly around town and became regular patrons at Del’s Restaurant.

Eastwood is 84 years old and has gained considerable acclaim — and Academy Awards — as a director in recent decades. His mother lived to 97, so perhaps her son isn’t at death’s door (in fact, he directed another film this spring). But Stevens’ point is made — the urgency for having these questions answered is clear.

Perhaps Eastwood or one of his assistants will read this and be happy to oblige at least two curious journalists.

(An image from “Rawhide” by Peter Renshaw via Flickr)

“Route 66″ casting director will receive posthumous Emmy August 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Television.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Marion Dougherty, who assembled casts for the acclaimed “Route 66″ and other television shows and movies, will receive a posthumous 2014 Governors Award at the Aug. 24 Emmy Awards, reported The Wrap and other media outlets.

The news site said:

Dougherty’s pioneering work in the casting industry made her the subject of the 2012 Emmy-nominated documentary “Casting By,” which premiered on HBO. She began serving as a casting director in 1949 with the NBC series “Kraft Television Theatre” and worked on shows that included “Naked City,” “Route 66” and “All in the Family.”

Dougherty, who was among the early champions for such actors as Robert Duvall, Warren Beatty and Jack Lemmon, died in 2011 at the age of 88.

Here’s the trailer for “Casting By”:

She also cast actors for more than 100 films, including “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Sting,” “Pretty Baby,” “The World According to Garp,” “Batman,” “The Killing Fields,” “Gorillas in the Mist” and “Full Metal Jacket.”

Dougherty got her start in casting for live television in New York City. That experience became valuable when Hollywood came calling, reported the New York Times.

Drawing on her experience in New York, Ms. Dougherty had a strong hand in reshaping the way Hollywood casts films as it moved away from the old studio system and its “cattle calls” in the 1960s. When she arrived in Hollywood she brought her index-card file filled with the names of promising actors she had spotted Off Broadway, in regional theaters and in summer stock. [...]

After spotting a glimmer of stardom, she could be insistent. Juliet Taylor, a protégée of Ms. Dougherty’s perhaps best known as the casting director for more than 30 Woody Allen movies, recalled how her mentor had once struggled with the director John Schlesinger. Mr. Schlesinger wanted someone other than Jon Voight to play the Texan would-be hustler on the streets of New York in “Midnight Cowboy.”

“She adamantly disagreed,” Ms. Taylor said, “and kept badgering Schlesinger and bringing Voight back again and again until Schlesinger agreed that Voight was the better choice.”

For “Route 66,” Dougherty cast what turned out to be a veritable who’s who in Hollywood during the 1970s and ’80s: James Caan, Robert Duvall, George Kennedy, Ben Johnson, E.G. Marshall, Walter Matthau, Ed Asner, Lee Marvin, Tina Louise, Darren McGavin, Jack Lord, Kent McCord, Suzanne Pleshette, Anne Francis, Tuesday Weld, Susan Oliver, Robert Redford, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Sheen, Rod Steiger, Barbara Eden, Julie Newmar, William Shatner, Gene Hackman and Burt Reynolds.

“Route 66″ ran only four seasons and rarely filmed on the Mother Road, despite its title. However, the cultural and tourism impact of the show endures even a half-century later. Go here to read my 2007 interview with “Route 66″ co-star George Maharis.

(Image of an Emmy Award by NASA HQ Photo via Flickr)

The coming Chinese invasion (continued) July 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television, Vehicles.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Noting demographic and economic trends, I predicted in 2011 that Route 66 would see a growing influx of Chinese tourists.

Here’s the latest sign. This week, the Shanghai General Motors Tour of Route 66 began in Amarillo and will continue to Santa Monica. The tour, organized by Open Road Productions of Brighton, Michigan, features Chinese Cadillac owners and dealers driving Cadillac SRXs or Escalades. Simultaneously, another group of Chinese tourists is traveling east from Santa Monica to Amarillo.

From the news release by Rick Thomas at Open Road:

“We provide participants a chance to see how Americans traveled during the heyday of Route 66, the 1950s, but from the perspective of today,” Thomas added.

The Chinese economy has been booming for many years, and there is a growing number of young, wealthy citizens with large amounts of discretionary income. “More than 30,000 Cadillacs were sold in China in 2013, and many of these new owners crave the chance to explore like we do in the US,” Thomas said. [...]

General Motors recently invested US$1.3 billion in a new manufacturing plant in China, and has committed considerable resources toward promoting the brand. Its current ad campaign centers on Route 66 and is called Operation Freedom. “This tour complements Cadillac’s campaign wonderfully. Being able to experience Route 66 in a Cadillac is the pinnacle of their car owning experience,” Thomas reported.

Thomas isn’t exaggerating about the Route 66 influence on Chinese Cadillac owners. A number of videos hawking Cadillacs to the Chinese market are floating around on YouTube, including this one.

Also, I’ve been told by several sources on the road that Chinese television channel ICN now is shooting a documentary or reality show on Route 66. The show was announced in February. Here’s a teaser video from the network, requesting “partners” for the production:

It’s predicted the number of Chinese tourists in the U.S. will reach 100 million a year by 2020. These campaigns probably make Route 66 a big beneficiary of those numbers.

UPDATE: The Amarillo Globe-News this week had a few more details about the ICN television project, including the fact a live episode will be filmed Thursday at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo.

(Hat tip: Nick Gerlich; image of Chinese tourists at Roy’s in Amboy, California, in 2011 by jstdadd via Flickr)

Martin Milner selling items from his personal collection July 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Television.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Martin Milner, the former co-star of the acclaimed 1960s drama “Route 66,” has been gradually selling off items from his personal collection on eBay for the past few years. But a whole bunch more will be offered on the online auction site in the coming days.

A post on the promotional Facebook page for the “Martin Milner Private Collection” on eBay from sale administrator Rick Barnes on July 14 said:

As many of you have noticed, we haven’t had our auctions running recently. This is due to a number of reasons, but principally – eBay imposes very strict (and low) limits for inflexible periods of time. This has proven to be a challenge, but the good news is that we are now clear to list new items.

This upcoming week is shaping up to be a very exciting one. We will be listing a large amount of rare and very special Adam-12 items. This truly will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. These are the most authentic Martin Milner/Adam-12 items that will ever be available to the public. They ALL come directly from his collection and once they’re gone, it’s likely they’ll never be seen again.

So be sure to set your calendars for July 20th and find something interesting to bid on. We’ll do our best to have items in all price ranges. [...]

So far, the sale has been amazing. The Milner family, and myself as the Sale Administrator, are very grateful for the support and kind words you continue to express. I assure you, they mean a lot to all of us.

Milner has sold more than 100 items of “memorabilia collected by Martin and his family, over the length of his television, theater, and film career. Badges, photos, mementos, personal items” on eBay.

I would have questioned whether Milner or his family is actually behind the account, except for this — one of the items being sold this month is a ceremonial key to the city of Rock Island, Illinois, probably dating to the 1970s. They don’t give those out to just anybody. And the rest of the items — including from “Route 66,” such as the screenshot above the dogtag  that will be offered for sale — seem too rare to be just from a run-of-the-mill collector.

The eBay account dates to 2000, but Milner or his relatives started to sell stuff in earnest about 2009.

Milner co-starred on “Route 66″ with George Maharis from 1960 to 1964 (my 2007 interview with Maharis is here). Milner spoke and greeted fans at the International Route 66 Festival in 2002 and 2003. But he no longer makes public appearances and, according to several sources, has been in poor health for the past decade.

(Hat tip: WQAD-TV)

%d bloggers like this: