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Author Topic: The Beach Boys - An American Family  (Read 20437 times)
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« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2006, 03:09:37 PM »

Here's that article:

from The Los Angeles New Times 4/6/2000
Heroes and Villains
Brian Wilson's back, recording a live album at the Roxy this week and preparing for a summer tour with symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. So isn't it time to address the lies and half-truths depicted on ABC's recent Beach Boys miniseries?

By Bill Holdship

They say that history belongs to the victors. In the case of the Beach Boys' always strange Southern California saga,  the term boils down to two survivors -- namely, Mike Love, the group's cocky lead singer, and Brian Wilson, the group's musical architect and resident genius -- and their often distorted memories.

Brian Wilson, as you're apt to have read somewhere by now, has been on a solo tour for the past year, which has taken him through the U.S., as well as in front of hysterical, ecstatic Japanese fans, and to a showstopping performance at Neil Young's annual Bridge Concert in San Francisco late last year. On Friday and Saturday nights of this week, he'll be recording a live album at the Roxy, which will be released via his Web site (BrianWilson.com) later this year.

"I'm thoroughly convinced that nothing in the world makes him happier than being around a group of people performing vocal harmonies," says Darian Sahanaja, co-leader, singer, and keyboardist of the Wondermints, who make up the core of Wilson's backing band. "I think it's a very spiritual thing. It's his very favorite thing -- that and food!" He laughs.

"Going into this, we already knew Brian Wilson is not Bruce Springsteen," Sahanaja continues. "He's never been a performer, so it's never really been about that. It's always been about his vision, creativity, his songs, his arrangements, and his sensibility. So the shows have basically been to showcase the legacy of the music with the man himself -- the actual composer -- present."

"I'm a pretty happy guy," Wilson says during a brief interview between rehearsals for the shows. "In fact, I'm as happy as hell!"

Nevertheless, even current information continues to get distorted in this musical saga, sometimes coming from the main surviving source himself. It's little wonder, then, that historical facts get blurred. For instance, Brian claims: "I haven't been able to write anything new in over a year, but I have been playing a lot of piano. I've been at the piano every day, two or three times a day -- trying to keep alive, keep my voice alive. But I haven't been able to get any new melodies going. I've had writer's block, I guess." Yet, Sahanaja reveals that in addition to a new version of Wilson's gorgeous "Till I Die," the Roxy shows will be augmented by two brand-new Wilson originals, including a tune titled "This Isn't Love."

Of course, this type of distortion is basically minute detail, based on Wilson's whim of the moment, and ultimately harmless. When it comes to Beach Boy Mike Love's selective memories, however, things get a little more complicated and a lot more damaging. In fact, perversion may be a preferable word to distortion when it comes to Love's version of the truth.

During the last several months, there have been several television specials examining the Beach Boys phenomenon. In the last three weeks alone, Court TV ran a special documenting the various Beach Boys lawsuits involving Brian (and usually his cousin Mike Love) over the last decade, while American Movie Classics just hosted a Saturday night Beach Boys marathon, The Beach Boys: Then & Now, which included a rebroadcast of Endless Harmony, a documentary originally made for VH1 and recently released commercially on VHS and DVD by Capitol Records. Not coincidentally, when Mike Love offers a sound bite in the documentary, presenting himself as the "bright, positive" counterpart to Brian's "dark" side, history has a way of suddenly being rewritten. For instance, in a new scene added to the DVD version, Love suddenly takes credit for suggesting that Paul McCartney write a Beach Boys-like song about Ukraine girls, which, of course, became "Back in the USSR" -- and which is news to any rock historian who's followed the story throughout the years.

The worst example of Love's revisionism, however, was the ABC-TV miniseries, The Beach Boys: An American Family, which ran two nights in late February as part of sweeps month. Produced by actor John Stamos (who frequently drummed for the Love-fronted nostalgia unit calling itself the Beach Boys in the years following Dennis Wilson's death), the film could have listed a credit for Minister of Propaganda to Love. As an angry review on a Beach Boys-related Web site explained: "[The film was] a monstrously vile, twisted perversion of the truth...It's Mike's version of what happened, told with a huge smirk at all the so-called 'Brian freaks' he so deeply disdains."

The ironic thing is that when Wouldn't It Be Nice, the Brian Wilson autobiography written with Todd Gold (and, many argue, Dr. Eugene Landy, Wilson's controversial psychotherapist), was published in the mid-'90s, the ever-litigious Love was part of a libel suit against Wilson, Gold, and the publishers over objectionable material in that book. Shortly after that suit (and after Landy was out of the picture), Love was awarded $5 million from Wilson following a suit he filed over cosongwriting credits he claimed he never received; Love is currently suing former Beach Boy Al Jardine over the name "The Beach Boys' Family & Friends," which Jardine has been using to bill his current touring group, which includes Brian's daughters, Carnie and Wendy. It's almost as though Love has tried to claim his legacy via the American judicial system. And when that wasn't enough, he created a miniseries to claim his glory, presenting himself as the true vision behind the  Beach Boys. The sad fact, though, is that the TV movie now exists forever as a strong public record -- in other words, to be believed as history by those who don't know any better.

"I didn't like the second part," Brian hesitantly says of the miniseries. "It wasn't really true to the way things were. I'd like to see another movie if it was done right. But I just sort of turned my back to this one, or my other cheek, or whatever you wanna call it. It was best just to ignore it because it really wasn't true to life."

Sahanaja remembers a rehearsal last summer when Wilson's wife and comanager, Melinda, was on the phone with a copy of the script in front of her, yelling at one of Love's representatives over certain questionable content. Brian was so upset that he asked for the keys to the car and sat in the parking lot until the incident was over. "It was so sad," says Sahanaja, "because Brian's happier now, trying to move on -- and yet this stuff from the past keeps popping up to haunt him. My theory is that Brian and Melinda were most disturbed, apart from all the Mike Love propaganda at Brian's expense, by a scene that depicted Dennis Wilson screaming, 'You never supported me as an artist,' at his older brother. From everything I've read and everyone I've ever talked to, Dennis was the one guy -- perhaps the only guy -- who always stood by Brian."


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« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2006, 03:09:58 PM »

In fact, the miniseries begins by portraying Dennis (who reportedly despised Love; legend has it that   the two were once involved in a fistfight onstage at the Greek Theatre in the '70s) and Love surfing together as best friends -- the two studs on the beach -- even though every Beach Boys history to date claims Dennis was the band's only surfer. The film then depicts it being Love's idea to form the band, and as the miniseries progresses, Mike comes up with nearly every brilliant idea -- from creating the titles Pet Sounds and Endless Summer to "jamming with John and Paul" in India -- as Brian rapidly becomes a slobbering, drug-crazed idiot. It's almost comical. Accordingly, a German-based Web site devoted to the work of Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks (www.vandykeparks.com) is currently hosting a "Best Mike Love Joke" contest. One of the funniest is a short story in which Love takes credit for writing songs with Bruce Springsteen, creating Live Aid, reuniting the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, directing Schindler's List, and creating Windows 95 ("Bill Gates didn't give me credit!"), among other things.

"There are two sides to every story," concludes Sahanaja, "and I'm sure some of what Mike claims is legit. But I'm also a believer in it's all about how you present yourself. I think he could get his due, but I don't think people are willing to give it to him just because of the way Mike is."

It's perhaps fitting that the Love joke page should be found on a Van Dyke Parks Web site, since -- next to the three Wilson brothers themselves -- Parks was the historical figure most maligned by the ABC miniseries. Parks, Brian Wilson's musical collaborator on the ill-fated and ultimately aborted Smile LP (the planned follow-up to Pet Sounds),  was depicted as a drug-addled hippie, only several steps removed from Charles Manson, and a key figure in Brian's eventual breakdown and decline.

Of course, the movie makes no mention of Parks' subsequent substantial career -- he's worked with everyone from the Byrds, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and his friend Harry Nilsson to, more recently, Fiona Apple, U2, Sam Phillips, and Rufus Wainwright, the latter whose debut LP he coproduced. The telepic also makes no note of his movie or TV soundtracks, nor seems to consider his collaboration with Brian Wilson several years ago on the wonderful Orange Crate Art album. But in a gallant move that totally counterbalances Parks' portrayal in Love's film, Brian and Melinda recently asked Parks to do the orchestration for a proposed tour this summer that will have him and the Wondermints performing Pet Sounds in its entirety, with symphonies, throughout the country. (The show is scheduled to play the Hollywood Bowl on September 24th.)

"As I understand it, Pet Sounds wasn't done with an orchestra for the record," says a concerned Parks. "So the point here wouldn't be to get a whole bunch of people together to play Brian's music simply for the bravado of it. It's not about what can be added to the music, but what can be done to confirm what's already on the record. I wouldn't want to intrude too much, but I would work very hard to layer [the orchestration] correctly. So I'm hoping that I can do it. But the fact that I'm being considered to work on Brian's summer tour is a positive confirmation of the real value he places on me and the value I place on him."

Nevertheless, Parks -- ever the Southern gentleman -- remains flabbergasted by his portrayal in the movie, as he sits in the quiet Hancock Park home he shares with his wife, Sally. The composer claims that he's asked the ABC legal department to delete the eight mentions of his name before they "exploit" the film again, although "the jury's still out and the damage has already been done."

He also claims that it was his phone call to old friend Lucy Fisher, cochairperson of Sony Entertainment, that got the network to run a disclaimer about the show often being "a work of fiction with much dramatic license." Parks claims the Sony executive called him seven minutes before the telecast to let him know what she'd been able to do. "She's a very decent person," says Parks. "I'd phoned her to express the Wilsons' dismay at the tenor of the show, and when she called me back she said it was the least she could do for all the pleasure she'd received over the years from Brian Wilson's music. She didn't say the Beach Boys. She may have meant the Beach Boys, but she said Brian Wilson."

He reflects a moment. "What's amazing to me -- and in a way, it's a compliment -- is that Mike Love has borne -- and I'm sure it cost him some great effort -- such an animosity toward me for so many years."

It's especially ironic in light of the fact that Wilson's other lyrical collaborators -- Roger Christian, Tony Asher, Gary Usher -- were never even mentioned in the film. After all these years, Parks -- and his "acid alliteration," as Love once termed it -- obviously still pose some sort of threat to Love. "It astonished me," says Parks. "Likewise, seven of Mike Love's wives were not named in his autobiographical television project. I thought that was a big slight. I was actually embarrassed by the time Mike Love devoted on his anger toward me.

"I finally needed to investigate, in my own mind, the basis of Mike Love's adolescent animosity because, quite simply, I was blindsided by it. What exactly did I do? Well, many years ago, I suggested to Brian Wilson that he put a cello on 'Good Vibrations.' He did, and it became a signature sound of that song. I also suggested the triplet fundamentals in the music. I did that. And I admit that Brian then offered me the lyrics to that song because he was embarrassed with the 'excitation' part Mike Love had insisted on adding. But I told Brian that I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole and that nobody'd be listening to the lyrics anyway once they heard that music. Besides, why should I make an enemy of Mike Love?

"So I turned down Brian's kind offer to cowrite 'Good Vibrations.' I was more interested in a long-term relationship with Brian. And it was one of the few times I've actually been smart in my career because it ensured I'd work with Brian again in other ways. And when I later found out that the lyrics that I was writing for Brian Wilson were a matter of great concern amongst the other Beach Boys, particularly Mike, I walked away from the opportunity. And I did so because I thought it might ease Brian's anxieties. I hoped it might make his life better.

"That wasn't depicted in the film. Nor was the question: 'Who was Van Dyke Parks to the Beach Boys?' Well, for one thing, I co-wrote the song that brought Brian to Carnegie Hall when Leonard  Bernstein called 'Surf's Up' one of the great songs of the 20th century. I did that by relieving Brian of the lyrical juvenilia of fast cars and faster women. That image was very much perplexing Brian at that time. He wanted a more poetic vision in his music. Now, it wasn't necessary, but it was his individual right. So I helped him explore that. And happily so! And then I left that world for a career as an executive at Warner Bros. Records.

"The Beach Boys were at a very low point in their career. They'd left Capitol Records, but they ended up at Warner Bros. because I personally begged [then Warner chief] Mo Ostin to sign them. And they were considered a problem at that time. They were an industry albatross, simply because there were so many egos involved. Everyone at the label just wanted Brian Wilson to come over and write some songs. Well, the Beach Boys were in Holland and had recorded what the label called 'an unreleasable album.' I still had a demo tape of 'Sail On, Sailor.' I came up with that lyric when I was working with Brian, as well as the [musical] pitches those words reside on. I did nothing with that tape until I saw the Beach Boys crisis at the company where I was working, earning $350 a week.

"Well, they recorded the song, and it was a hit. And I'm glad that everyone then came out of their little rooms to claim cowriting credit on that song. But I never questioned it, just as I never questioned the various claims on the residuals. You could say I did the Beach Boys a nice turn there. It was just a nice thing to do.

"Many years later, when [producer] Terry Melcher wanted to take the song 'Kokomo' to the tropical islands, he called me and wanted to use my Rolodex, so to speak. So, I brought some great   musician friends -- people who'd played with Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Cecil Taylor -- to play with me on that session. I was paid well for my work, although it was a nonunion session -- no hospitalization, no dental, nothing extra if it went   commercial. The Beach Boys, after all, were Republicans -- unions weren't something to mention to them. We weren't dealing with Studs Terkel. We were dealing with Bruce Johnston and Mike Love, who'd become the entity known as the Beach Boys. Of course, the song went to number one, and Mike Love always made a very big deal out of the fact that it was made without Brian Wilson. And that was always very alarming to me because beyond the Beach Boys' beautiful music, my allegiance has always been to Brian Wilson, who hired me years ago and told me he'd give me 50 percent of anything we wrote together. He said that speaking from his throne at a time when I was nobody. Isn't that the sign of a marvelous person?"

Parks recalls he saw Love one final time when Melcher called him to Monterey to play synthesizer on the Beach Boys' final album, recorded without Brian, 1992's dreadful Summer in Paradise. A neighbor offered to fly the musician to Monterey in his one-engine plane if Parks agreed to cover gas and other expenses. When he got there, Love was meditating in Melcher's living room. "For the first time in 30 years, he was able to ask me directly, once again, 'What do those lyrics -- Over and over the crow flies, uncover the cornfield -- mean?'" Parks said about that meeting in '95. "And I was  able to tell him, once again, 'I don't know.' I have no idea what those words mean. I was perhaps thinking of Van Gogh's wheat field or an idealized agrarian environment. Maybe I meant nothing, but I was trying to follow Brian Wilson's vision at that time." Parks says Love asked if he could fly back to L.A. in the plane with him. "We had a nice chat and he insisted that he wanted to split the cost of the flight with me, so he gave me a card with his number on it. The next morning, I called to discover it was a disconnected number. And that was the last time I saw Mike Love."

As for the druggy way Parks was portrayed in the film, "I'd already told my young children years before that unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale. Unlike Mike Love, I did inhale. But unlike George W. Bush, I also grew up in the '60s, which were a time for renewal and revelation. It's not theoretical. The night I was out in Hollywood with Phil Ochs and we got beat up by policeman because we were part of a group pressuring Lyndon Johnson not to run again, well, that was the night Johnson decided not to run. So the '60s were not theoretical. I associated with people who had courage back then and people who were beautiful. I saw the beautiful people -- and, believe me, Brian was one of them. I'm very sorry about the way that show portrayed him and -- let me be very emphatic here -- that was not the Brian Wilson I knew.

"I never took a joint to Brian's house, just as I'd never offer drugs to any employer. It's just not prudent! One thing that was true was I never went into [Brian's living room] sandbox, but that's only because there was dog sh*t in it. It wasn't because I was too good or arrogant to do it. But I never went into that [marijuana] tepee, because I didn't want to be smoking a joint when Mike Love walked into the room. I was working for the most powerful man in the American music business at the time. I was very aware of that fact and had no desire to spoil it.

"The lyrics ultimately just got out of my hands. I was not a Dadaist. I didn't sit in on the [Smile] 'Fire' sessions [the night Brian reportedly went insane]. By then, he was surrounded by so many people that I knew my opportunity to do this little American quilt work with him called Smile was over and done with.Mike ultimately put a stop to it. And yet the movie brought into question a certain amount of work I did for Brian many years ago, most of which was never commercially released, due in large part to Mike Love's objections. I'm very proud of the music I made with Brian Wilson. But I'm also proud that I walked away from a great opportunity at the time to maintain peace."

Parks wasn't pleased how the other Wilson brothers were portrayed in the film, either. Carl Wilson -- often credited with keeping the band together after Brian's breakdown -- hardly existed in the flick. "I thought a great deal of Carl Wilson," says Parks. "He was a really nice guy. I didn't do a lot with him, but he was always very nice to me and extended himself to me in very subtle ways. He was a very gifted man. The last time I saw Carl, I played 'Ave Maria' at his mother's funeral, and he embraced me afterwards. To be with him and Brian at Audrey's funeral was a very big deal to me, personally."

As for Dennis, Parks offers one telling anecdote. "That movie showed Dennis Wilson cowering in front of Charles Manson!" says Parks. "Well, I'll tell you what really happened. One day, Charles Manson brought a bullet out and showed it to Dennis, who asked, 'What's this?' And Manson replied, 'It's a bullet. Every time you look at it, I want you to think how nice it is your kids are still safe.' Well, Dennis grabbed Manson by the head and threw him to the ground and began pummeling him until Charlie said, 'Ouch!' He beat the living sh*t out of him. 'How dare you!' was Dennis' reaction. Charlie Manson was weeping openly in front of a lot of hip people. I heard about it, but I wasn't there. The point is, though, Dennis Wilson wasn't afraid of anybody! Dennis was a total alpha male -- something Mike Love wants to be but isn't ."

Parks understands that An American Family will stand as a legacy for Beach Boys fans who don't know the history, but he's hoping that the music will ultimately stand as the stronger legacy. "What I saw on that show about Brian Wilson was false, and   that's all I really need to say," he concludes. "I guarantee you it was a pack of lies. And I'll tell you something -- I'll give you one final clean piece of evidence. The audience was led to believe by that movie that John Lennon wanted to jam with Mike Love. Well, I was with John Lennon one time, and he told me that he and Paul thought that Mike Love was -- and these are the words John Lennon used -- 'a jerk.' The Beatles thought Mike Love was a jerk. So there are obviously two different impressions of that meeting. Mike Love has one and John Lennon had another. So, I'm submitting John Lennon's recollection to you since he's no longer here to do it himself."

It's nice to know that history can sometimes be redeemed by the survivors on the sidelines.

Brian Wilson and the Wondermints play the Roxy, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, on Friday and Saturday, April 7 and 8. Both shows are sold out.
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a diseased bunch of mo'fos if there ever was one… their beauty is so awesome that listening to them at their best is like being in some vast dream cathedral decorated with a thousand gleaming American pop culture icons.

- Lester Bangs on The Beach Boys


PRO SHOT BEACH BOYS CONCERTS - LIST


To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

- Jack Rieley
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« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2006, 03:11:19 PM »

I saw the movie when it came out around 2000. It has an 80's/Stamos/Love slant to it with Brian seen as a huge failure to the group. Mike Loves character doesnt always appear cool either. They all were portayed strangely in the 2nd part.
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« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2006, 03:12:23 PM »

Allow me to pose a purely hypothetical question.

How do you think Stamos landed the rights to use the actual BB recordings ?

Here's another one, equally hypothetical.

Which Beach Boy was on the set far more than any other ?
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« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2006, 03:48:29 PM »

   What I don't get is why Melinda Wilson became so upset during production.  Didn't she read the script?  She waited too long to voice objections, and it was too late to change anything by that point. 

I thought she wasn't given access to the script  of part 2 by the producers until the very last minute (which would explain her explosive reaction).  Brian himself never saw what was in that script until part 2 aired, so I was told.
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« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2006, 04:49:25 PM »

The earlier drafts of the script were very, very different from the final product.  Particularly for the second half.

And no, Melinda and Brian didn't see the finished second half of the film until a couple of days before it aired.  Neither did I, for that matter.

Not a happy time.
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« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2006, 06:11:54 PM »

Stamos just got cheesy and sold out i guess to return the favor to Mike for joining the band... What a duechebag!
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« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2006, 07:43:01 PM »

It was much more complicated than that. 

One big problem was the rapidly shrinking music budget - the original vision for the second half of the film would have balanced much of the somewhat difficult portrait of Brian with a strong emphasis on music.  Lots of music.  Music that would have contrasted Brian's seemingly eccentric behavior against some of the strongest, most heartfelt and beautiful music that had ever been highlighted in a teevee movie (my opinion, but then again, I'm somewhat biased).  But the budget kept getting slashed as the fees kept going up ("sync" licenses have become hideously expensive) and the "setlist," which, as I recall, would have highlighted everything from "Cabinessence" to "Long Promised Road," kept getting boiled down to the bare essentials.  At least "Forever" survived.  And I made a bit of a pest of myself lobbying for "Add Some Music."

I also have to say that the film never recovered from Van Dyke Parks' last-minute decision not to allow any of his lyrics to appear in the film.  I don't blame him at all for his actions, but that was an utterly fatal blow to the movie and its portrayal of Brian.  The ONLY thing that would have redeemed that section of the film as it was finally shot would have been to hear some of that incredible music.  Brian and his collaborator are crazy?  Well... imagine how powerful it might have been to see and hear "Brian" playing "Surf's Up" (in his OWN REAL 1966 VOICE, by the way) while all of this other stuff was going on in the film.   Or to see "Carl" singing "Cabinessence."  Because that music is most definitely not crazy.  Because that music is incredible.  Because that music is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.  Because while the film may have presented a lowest common denominator, sensationalized-for-dramatic-effect portrait of Brian Wilson, I believe that the inclusion of Brian's original music might have been able to transcend all of that.  I liked Gary's "Geronimo" piece, but it had nothing to do with anything.

Think about it.... without the actual music, which is the whole point for ANY of this, "Smile," as presented in that film, was a stupid, self-indulgent piece of drug addled hippie crap.  And that's what millions of people who watched that film on TV went away with.

God, it still pisses me off thinking about it.
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« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2006, 04:31:48 AM »

It was much more complicated than that. 

One big problem was the rapidly shrinking music budget - the original vision for the second half of the film would have balanced much of the somewhat difficult portrait of Brian with a strong emphasis on music.  Lots of music.  Music that would have contrasted Brian's seemingly eccentric behavior against some of the strongest, most heartfelt and beautiful music that had ever been highlighted in a teevee movie (my opinion, but then again, I'm somewhat biased).  But the budget kept getting slashed as the fees kept going up ("sync" licenses have become hideously expensive) and the "setlist," which, as I recall, would have highlighted everything from "Cabinessence" to "Long Promised Road," kept getting boiled down to the bare essentials.  At least "Forever" survived.  And I made a bit of a pest of myself lobbying for "Add Some Music."

I also have to say that the film never recovered from Van Dyke Parks' last-minute decision not to allow any of his lyrics to appear in the film.  I don't blame him at all for his actions, but that was an utterly fatal blow to the movie and its portrayal of Brian.  The ONLY thing that would have redeemed that section of the film as it was finally shot would have been to hear some of that incredible music.  Brian and his collaborator are crazy?  Well... imagine how powerful it might have been to see and hear "Brian" playing "Surf's Up" (in his OWN REAL 1966 VOICE, by the way) while all of this other stuff was going on in the film.   Or to see "Carl" singing "Cabinessence."  Because that music is most definitely not crazy.  Because that music is incredible.  Because that music is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.  Because while the film may have presented a lowest common denominator, sensationalized-for-dramatic-effect portrait of Brian Wilson, I believe that the inclusion of Brian's original music might have been able to transcend all of that.  I liked Gary's "Geronimo" piece, but it had nothing to do with anything.

Think about it.... without the actual music, which is the whole point for ANY of this, "Smile," as presented in that film, was a stupid, self-indulgent piece of drug addled hippie crap.  And that's what millions of people who watched that film on TV went away with.

God, it still pisses me off thinking about it.

Thanks for giving your thoughts on this.  Nevertheless, my main suspicion is that though the presence of the music you mention would have offset the negative portrayal of Brian to some degree the intent to portray him that way was still there.  (Just speculating - is this why VDP didn't want to be associated?)  And even if Brian was as difficult and as crazy as some people say he was by the early 70s there is more than one way to represent even that story.

I have never met Brian Wilson and, obviously, I have no first hand knowledge of what he was like as a person in the 62-67 period but the rather dopey and nerdish portrayal of him right from the start of this movie struck me as pretty insulting.
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« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2006, 05:53:12 AM »

I am not trying to put you down here but here is my take on why the movie is panned.

Does it really matter that Brian wasn't COMPLETELY out of his mind until the 70s instead of the late 60s?  

YES very much so he is all too often blamed for the lack of success then when he was threre. Have you listen to Sunflower, Friends or Spring.


According to the Beach Boys themselves--I think it was in ENDLESS HARMONY--Bruce says that by the late 60s, it was becoming increasingly rare for Brian to join them in recording sessions and he'd stay up in his room while they recorded in the home studio.  (It was right at the point in the film where they showed footage of the Boys in the home studio with "Time To Get Alone" accompanying the footage.)

Time To Get Alone was writen and sung by Brian. It shows how ridiculous the statement is. So what if he wasn't in the film.

If AGD is saying that Brian was never the loony, drooling idiot presented in the movie. Listen to or read interviews from the period.

All interview and studio tapes from 67-72 have him sounding exactly the same as in the 60s. He didn't slur until the 80s.

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« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2006, 06:09:26 AM »

One more comment here....In ESQ Mike claimed not to like aspects of the film. If he did have something to do with the script itself then he should be criticised, but I would like to hear his comments after seeing the final results. The first part was pretty good but Summer Dreams is WAY better though the music is of course better in the second. They didn't even give Brian his Beatle haircut! I dislike bio pics as a rule. Kurt Russel as Elvis is about it for me.
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« Reply #36 on: July 19, 2006, 06:37:52 AM »

I don't think the film is too bad, it's lightyears better than "Summer Dreams" (although IMO Summer Dreams had better Murry) Van Dyke Parks was portrayed poorly in both films.

These low budget made for TV films are never gonna win Oscars like "Ray" for instance. I tend to stay clear of music biopics such as these purely because they're too cheesy. The producers always have make it easy to watch for the "middle of the road" viewer, not for the hardcore fans.

The best music biopics in my opinion are "Walk the Line" and "Backbeat" which was about the Beatles early years in Hamburg. But even then I find that hard to watch, as I'm always picking out the mistakes or cheesy bits. The other Beatles film "Birth of Beatles" is very similar to "Summer Dreams" for it's over 40 years old actors playing teenage Beatles (like Bruce Greenwood playing Dennis in Summer Dreams) and coming out with typical one liners like "Yeah, George. It has been a hard days night hasn't it" (a la Summer Dreams "I wanna make the best rock and roll album ever made Marilyn!")

All in all, I can generally never watch these types of films more than once. I always find it hard to relate the actor playing Brian / Dennis or any musician for that matter, to the real person, purely because I'm a massive fan and the actors generally get the attitudes and personalities of the actors wrong. Maybe film producers should stay away from our favourite musicians!

PS
. Kurt Russel as Elvis is about it for me.
You're right MBE!  Grin
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« Reply #37 on: July 19, 2006, 01:02:54 PM »

does anyone have a copy of this or knows of where it could be found online, I saw this before i was into the beach boys and would greatly like to see it again!!!!!   please, anyone help me add a cult viewing film to my collection!
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« Reply #38 on: July 19, 2006, 01:22:37 PM »

does anyone have a copy of this or knows of where it could be found online, I saw this before i was into the beach boys and would greatly like to see it again!!!!!   please, anyone help me add a cult viewing film to my collection!

Someone on ebay is selling a VHS copy...here's the link:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BEACH-BOYS-AMERICAN-FAMILY-2000-TV-MOVIE-BIOPIC_W0QQitemZ270008547808QQihZ017QQcategoryZ309QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
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« Reply #39 on: July 19, 2006, 01:34:28 PM »

All in all, I can generally never watch these types of films more than once. I always find it hard to relate the actor playing Brian / Dennis or any musician for that matter, to the real person, purely because I'm a massive fan and the actors generally get the attitudes and personalities of the actors wrong. Maybe film producers should stay away from our favourite musicians!

I feel the same way, which is why I always prefer a good documentary over a movie.

In Oliver Stone's "The Doors", even though Val Kilmer looked, talked, and sang amazingly like Jim Morrison, there was something about Morrison that nobody could duplicate, thus making it uncomfortable to watch.
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« Reply #40 on: July 19, 2006, 02:31:52 PM »

I feel the same way, which is why I always prefer a good documentary over a movie.

In Oliver Stone's "The Doors", even though Val Kilmer looked, talked, and sang amazingly like Jim Morrison, there was something about Morrison that nobody could duplicate, thus making it uncomfortable to watch.

I agree i dont like The Doors movie even though Val Kilmer looks and talks exactly like Morrison. There is something thats missing from the film and from the portrayal of Morrison. It comes across better if your on drugs but its nothing great.
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« Reply #41 on: July 19, 2006, 04:09:44 PM »

does anyone have a copy of this or knows of where it could be found online, I saw this before i was into the beach boys and would greatly like to see it again!!!!!   please, anyone help me add a cult viewing film to my collection!

Someone on ebay is selling a VHS copy...here's the link:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BEACH-BOYS-AMERICAN-FAMILY-2000-TV-MOVIE-BIOPIC_W0QQitemZ270008547808QQihZ017QQcategoryZ309QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I own an Emmy voter's copy of BB:AAB (which I bought on Ebay). And on my copy "Van Dyke Parks" is not "Samuel".
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« Reply #42 on: July 19, 2006, 04:34:52 PM »

VDP was VDP on the first broadcast.  He became Samuel on rebroadcasts because of his objection to be depicted.
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Wilsonista
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« Reply #43 on: July 19, 2006, 04:51:45 PM »

Samuel seems like an odd choice.
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« Reply #44 on: July 19, 2006, 06:43:48 PM »

does anyone have a copy of this or knows of where it could be found online, I saw this before i was into the beach boys and would greatly like to see it again!!!!!   please, anyone help me add a cult viewing film to my collection!

Someone on ebay is selling a VHS copy...here's the link:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BEACH-BOYS-AMERICAN-FAMILY-2000-TV-MOVIE-BIOPIC_W0QQitemZ270008547808QQihZ017QQcategoryZ309QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I own an Emmy voter's copy of BB:AAB (which I bought on Ebay). And on my copy "Van Dyke Parks" is not "Samuel".

If you could put it on your computer or anything, I'd be glad to try and provide compensation
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« Reply #45 on: July 19, 2006, 11:39:02 PM »

It was much more complicated than that. 

One big problem was the rapidly shrinking music budget - the original vision for the second half of the film would have balanced much of the somewhat difficult portrait of Brian with a strong emphasis on music.  Lots of music.  Music that would have contrasted Brian's seemingly eccentric behavior against some of the strongest, most heartfelt and beautiful music that had ever been highlighted in a teevee movie (my opinion, but then again, I'm somewhat biased).  But the budget kept getting slashed as the fees kept going up ("sync" licenses have become hideously expensive) and the "setlist," which, as I recall, would have highlighted everything from "Cabinessence" to "Long Promised Road," kept getting boiled down to the bare essentials.  At least "Forever" survived.  And I made a bit of a pest of myself lobbying for "Add Some Music."

I also have to say that the film never recovered from Van Dyke Parks' last-minute decision not to allow any of his lyrics to appear in the film.  I don't blame him at all for his actions, but that was an utterly fatal blow to the movie and its portrayal of Brian.  The ONLY thing that would have redeemed that section of the film as it was finally shot would have been to hear some of that incredible music.  Brian and his collaborator are crazy?  Well... imagine how powerful it might have been to see and hear "Brian" playing "Surf's Up" (in his OWN REAL 1966 VOICE, by the way) while all of this other stuff was going on in the film.   Or to see "Carl" singing "Cabinessence."  Because that music is most definitely not crazy.  Because that music is incredible.  Because that music is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.  Because while the film may have presented a lowest common denominator, sensationalized-for-dramatic-effect portrait of Brian Wilson, I believe that the inclusion of Brian's original music might have been able to transcend all of that.  I liked Gary's "Geronimo" piece, but it had nothing to do with anything.

Think about it.... without the actual music, which is the whole point for ANY of this, "Smile," as presented in that film, was a stupid, self-indulgent piece of drug addled hippie crap.  And that's what millions of people who watched that film on TV went away with.

God, it still pisses me off thinking about it.

Its a shame some of those songs werent in the film but they need to catch the character of the band through acting and presentation of the members better than what Stamos did. The songs might have covered the questionable story up alittlet but there was some in-accuricys being shown. They needed to show more good times and partying with the band which is what they liked to do sometimes in the later years. Just seeing the characters talk about music together without the drama.
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« Reply #46 on: July 20, 2006, 07:42:16 AM »

all in all, i thank God this movie was made...otherwise, i'd just be obsessed with star wars and vintage television & not  phil spector, brian wilson, and burt bacharach
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« Reply #47 on: July 21, 2006, 01:32:38 PM »

recorded it this morning on my dvr...watching it now.

dennis and mike are off at the beach to catch some waves...Razz
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« Reply #48 on: July 21, 2006, 07:59:02 PM »

oyu know you want to rip it onto your computer, joe!
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« Reply #49 on: July 21, 2006, 08:32:58 PM »

i honestly would, just for you guys. but unfortunately i dont have a tv card...and the version that i have on dvd (someone ripped it for me previously) is really crappy. Sad
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