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

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Television.
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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.
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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.
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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)

Albuquerque’s most popular filming locations July 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Railroad, Restaurants, Television, Towns.
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KRQE-TV in Albuquerque produced this fascinating story about the city’s most popular filming locations for movies, television series and commercials.

Not surprisingly, several exist on Central Avenue, aka Route 66 — Lindy’s Coffee Shop and Loyola’s Family Restaurant.

The station reported:

So why are Lindy’s and Loyola’s attractive for filmmakers?

“They’re still period, they still look like they did maybe in the 50′s or 60′s,” said Ann Lerner, the city’s film liaison. “So they don’t have to build a set… they can go to a practical location.”

Score another one for historic preservation.

(Image of Lindy’s by Glen’s Pics via Flickr)

‘Top Gear’ begins Route 66 trip this week July 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Publications, Road trips, Television, Vehicles.
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“Top Gear,” the popular British television series about driving cars, began a 2,400-mile road trip this week on Route 66 in a Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse — a convertible version of what is considered the fastest sports car in history.

From the first day of the show’s Route 66 diary:

You want numbers? 1200bhp of quad-turbo, W16 engine, over 1100 torques, four-wheel drive and a top speed of 260mph. Enough, it’s safe to say, to keep up with American traffic. Oh, and an asking price somewhere north of two million quid, which makes dicing with traffic in Chicago’s rush hour something of a puckering experience.

No one has ever done anything like this with a Veyron before. And they won’t again. With Veyron production ending next year before Bugatti opens a new chapter in its Going Faster history, this is it: the last, the ultimate Veyron road trip.

Which is why it had to be Route 66, the Illinois-to-California highway John Steinbeck christened ‘The Mother Road’.

The crew apparently went from Chicago to St. Louis on the first day, although details about that leg are scant, save for a few photos.

During Day Two, the crew took the Bugatti from St. Louis to Oklahoma City.

I don’t care how fast the car is — 500 miles on an old road makes for a long day.

In the coming days, “Top Gear” says it will reveal the publication date of the sale of its “Adventures” issue of its magazine that will feature Route 66. In the meantime, it will post new roadtrip photos daily on its website.

UPDATE 7/16/2014: Top Gear magazine, featuring an article about the Route 66 trip, is on sale worldwide today. The promotional story about the issue notes the Bugatti required 840 gallons of fuel. That’s less than three miles per gallon. Oy.

(Screen shot of “Top Gear’s” Bugatti at the 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri)

Reality show being produced at El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque July 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants, Television.
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A reality television show will be produced featuring the twin brothers who own El Pinto Restaurant and Salsa Co., which is located on an original alignment of Route 66 on the north side of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

According to the news release, Media Meld Studios and Smart Skirts Entertainment will produce the show about the Salsa Brothers, aka twin brothers John and Jim Thomas, who own the restaurant.

From the news release:

The unique location comprised of the largest New Mexican Restaurant in the world, engaging identical twin bachelor brother owners, coupled with a manufacturing facility producing 25,000 jars of salsa daily, makes for a dynamic opportunity. The backdrop is the inspirational beauty of New Mexico: from green chile fields to the south, to the white capped mountains in the north, to the blue summer skies of the North Valley of Albuquerque where El Pinto is located.

“Few understand until they see on TV the hard work of small business in America, from delivering organic food to the restaurant table to taking products to the grocery store shelf across the nation,” explains Salsa Twin John Thomas, co-owner.

Salsa Twin Jim Thomas explains, “El Pinto is a story of American ingenuity within a hispanic family with roots deep in the food business that stretch back 80 years to old Mexico.” The growth of El Pinto through the work of dedicated staff expanding from one small room with a few seats along original Route 66 in rural New Mexico to over 1,000 seats in addition to the manufacturing facility producing nationally distributed salsa is a study of determination that continues.

There’s no word on when the show will air, or on what network, although it would seem the Food Network would be an ideal landing spot.

The restaurant is at 10500 Fourth St., which was Route 66 from 1926 to 1937. It also used Google Street View to its advantage:


View Larger Map

(Image of El Pinto Restaurant by Mitch Wagner via Flickr)

NBC Nightly News airs segment about Route 66 July 2, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Motels, People, Restaurants, Television.
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NBC Nightly News aired a two-minute segment about Route 66 on Tuesday night.

If you missed it, you can check it out below, or hit the above link if the embedding doesn’t work. It painted a very flattering picture of the old road.

The segment by correspondent Harry Smith features a stretch of Route 66 in western Arizona and California. You’ll see Cool Springs Camp, Topock 66 Resort and Spa, Roy’s and a few other places.

And Wigwam Motel operator Kumar Patel has turned out to be quite an ambassador for the Mother Road.

Here’s a bonus video, posted online:

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