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    Mel Brooks - Funny Man

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    If you’re too young to know Mel Brooks from his heyday, you certainly can still see many reflections of his work today.

    The film “The Producers” starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder has been made into a Broadway hit that is still playing. The original production starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, has run for 2,502 performances and counting, and has won a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards.

    It was also remade into a 2005 movie starring Lane and Broderick.

    Brooks’ “Get Smart” series, which he co-created with writer Buck Henry, was recently made into a movie starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway as agents 86 and 99. The same silly, hilarious bits that infused the late 60's comedy and made it a TV hit were in abundance in the movie version.

    More recently, there’s been talk of remaking "Robin Hood, Men In Tights," "Blazing Saddles" (which I’d love to see how or if they could,) and "Young Frankenstein."

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    Harlan Ellison

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    You can be forgiven for not knowing Harlan Ellison’s name. In the last few years he’s been pretty quiet because of a stroke which eventually took his life in late June. But if you’ve never experienced an Ellison story the good news is his work is all over the multi-media landscape and his books and short stories are still at the top of everyone’s lists. He’s dead simple to find on Amazon because his work, thematically, is still as relevant as when it first exploded on the world in the late 60's.

    I remember the first time I read a Harlan Ellison story. The writing was so strong, so brutal, so impactful that the last line hit me with a force that my adolescent brain couldn’t process. I remember sitting there and actually feeling sick to my stomach. I felt as if the world, as I knew it, had ended.

    And it had.

    I’d taken that step from the scifi fanboy of rockets, ray guns and Dandelion Wine, to aliens, humans - and machines - who existed for nefarious reasons that had nothing to do with our silly human values.

    The line? The one that knocked me silly...?

    I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.

    That was also the title of the short story first published in 1967.

    "I Have No Mouth and Must Scream" is an allegory for Hell where people are endlessly tormented by an all-powerful sentient supercomputer.

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    Where No One Has Gone Before

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    plotpoints podcastThis article by Mark Sevi was first featured on the PLOTPOINTS PODCAST with Mark Sevi, Mary Claire Anderson and Toby Wallwork.  Available on iTUNES.

    Today I’d like to focus on not a writer, or specific film but a franchise that spans both television and film.  That has engendered parodies.  Massive merchandising.  Conventions.  And continues to re-invent itself for over 50 years.

    Star Trek.

    start trek originalThe latest version premieres Sunday night on CBS Television and then goes to CBS streaming which is a pay service.  Whether or not that business model proves to be successful is yet to be seen but there is no doubt that there is a massive amount of anticipation for the newest entry into a universe conceived by master story teller Gene Roddenberry.

    Roddenberry, a successful TV writer had written dozens of episodic TV scripts for series as varied as Highway Patrol, Mr. District Attorney, I Led Three Lives, West Side, Boots and Saddles, and others.  He has over 105 credits as a writer.

    Frustrated at what he perceived were the limitations of what could be done on the network on issues like bi-racial relationships, political commentary, and hot button topics of the day including the highly charged Vietnam War, in 1964 Roddenberry put his interracial crew of explorers in outer space seeking new worlds of creative  freedom.

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