Thursday, June 16, 2005

Before and After Batman Begins

When I was a kid I used to watch "Batman" everyday after school at my Grandmother's house. Grandmother Fliegner had her "stories" -- Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. And I had mine -- Batman and Gilligan's Island. Since this was the 70s there was only television set in their house -- so only one program at a time could be watched.

I loved the Batman TV show. I liked his interaction with Robin. I enjoyed the wry humor of Alfred (and wanted a butler of my own). And I enjoyed the colorful villain cameos. (Once I tried to list all the villains I could remember from the show.)

And the way the stories stretched over two episodes used to get me. I used to really worry about how Batman and Robin would escape whatever dastardly trap they got themselves caught in. (I used to hate it when Episode One was on a Friday and I had to wait until Monday to see how it turned out.) I was too young to be jaded. It never occurred to me that if anything happened to Batman or Robin the show would be over.

Say what you will about the TV version, but for me it is always the gold standard against which I compare the movies.

So I have a mixed reaction to the new Batman movie, which I saw tonight. I really liked Michael Caine as Alfred. I liked the background on the development of the Bat Cave and thought the movie's entrances and exits from the Bat Cave were better than the little road barricade that turns down on the TV show. And I thought the movie Bat Mobile was over the top, but cool.

But I really missed the colorful villain character a la Jack Nicholson as The Joker or Jim Carrey as The Riddler. (But don't remind me about Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.) Some guy wearing a burlap sack over his head and calling himself "The Scarecrow" just doesn't cut it.

Beaucoup Celebrity Sightings: I had to wait in a line outside the theater before going inside to see the movie. First I saw Los Angeles Police Commission Chairman Rick Caruso waiting outside one of the stores while his wife was shopping. He's the developer who built The Grove Shopping Center -- and I guess it only makes sense that if you build a shopping center that's where you ought to go to shop.

And then a few minutes later KTLA News Anchor-legend Hal Fishman went walking by. I don't know why he wasn't in the newsroom at 7:20 getting ready for the 10:00 p.m. telecast -- but I was happy to see him.

And then to complete the trifecta: As the line was shuffling into the theater I saw Faye Dunaway coming out of the theater with a baseball cap pulled low over her face. This sighting is especially ironic because tomorrow night GeezBob and I are seeing a funny, little play that's a take-off of one of her greatest movies, "Mommie Dearest."

Finally for the "Turn About is Fair Play" file: After the movie I went to the grocery store. On the way out this thug-guy says to me, "I really like your work." "Huh?" I says. "Aren't you an actor? I really like your work," he said. I let him down easy and unfortunately he couldn't come up with the movie "I" was in. Karen Kapler likes to say I look like the actor in the Bush's Baked Beans commercial. Usually around this time of the year I get the "I saw the ad again. It must be summertime" call. And Ethie says I remind her of Kenneth Starr. (I don't think she means that as a negative.)

Unfortunately, I didn't get the thug-guy's blog address. He's probably writing about who he thought he saw at the market right about now.

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