SINATRA… ON THE SMALLER SCREEN
A few weeks ago, we explored Sinatra’s musical contributions on the big screen. I started wondering why, after so many home runs before motion picture cameras, his early efforts in front of TV cameras fell well short of the mark… his mark, I believe.
Was it a general disinterest on his part, the result of struggling through his career slump in those very early fifties? Could it have been the writing or maybe the format of “The Frank Sinatra Show” and “Bulova Watch Time”?
In the mid-fifties, Frank’s ABC series, while an improvement over the CBS efforts a few years earlier, failed to connect with audiences. Again, why? Was it the star or the elements surrounding him? You might have to ask Sinatra directly. (May that opportunity not present itself anytime soon.) By the mid-sixties the tide had clearly turned.
These were the “Man and his Music” years… years in which Sinatra had hit a confident career stride. He was fifty years old. A decision was made to celebrate all that had come before with a retrospective album project and television special, both titled Sinatra: A Man and His Music. The project story lines paralleled one another.
This time ’round, the TV venture was not a variety-based affair, with the customary assortment of skits and mischief-filling high jinks between songs. This time, Sinatra’s music and performance were the only elements considered. It was smarter television and that suited Sinatra’s style perfectly.
Simplicity of execution was key. Simple lighting and sparse sets, the orchestras of Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins… and Sinatra, all doing what came so naturally. And the man coordinating it all was producer and director, Dwight Hemion.
From Steve Allen’s Tonight Show forward, Hemion was brilliant at his craft. He chose projects filled with so much natural talent, nothing more was necessary.
Dwight’s great gift was creating a forum in which a star could do what he or she did best. In specials starring Baryshnikov, Streisand, Como, Crosby and so many more, Hemion’s cameras simply got out of their way.
Over the course of his stunning career, Dwight Hemion garnered a record 47 Emmy nominations. He won 18 times. And one of those Emmys recognized Sinatra: A Man and his Music: Part One.
The Man and his Music specials
This weekend, our SONGBOOK is as much a tribute to TV genius, Dwight Hemion, as it is a recognition of Sinatra’s brilliant performance in these programs.
Highlights from the Man and His Music specials will be featured Saturday, June 6 at 6pm ET and Sunday, June 7 at 8am ET exclusively on Metromedia Radio (metromediaradio.net).
Listen Live link – http://tunein.com/radio/Metromedia-Radio-s203898/
JUNE IS NELSON’S BIRTHDAY MONTH
Frank worked with a list of extraordinary arranger-conductors. Nelson Riddle topped that list.
The reasons why are spelled-out in Stephen Paley’s intimate study, Nelson Riddle: In His Own Words. You will spend three hours with Nels, walking through his life and his music. Join us across the month, as we celebrate Mr. Riddle’s birthday the best way we know how. Three chances to listen – June 8th, 17th and 28th at 11am ET exclusively on Metromedia Radio.
Me, and Ed and YOU
A few years ago, yours truly and Sands Hotel Pit Boss, Ed Walters, joined forces at a four-day Sinatra Festival in Los Angeles. We collaborated for a seminar focusing on the Rat Pack years. We shared wonderful stories of Ed’s time with Frank, Dean and Sammy. From the epic Basie-Sands engagement, to the Rat Pack free-for-alls on the legendary Copa Room stage, Ed was front row center for the entire experience. Those in attendance loved the LA seminar. We certainly had a great time. Now, we want to bring the seminar to you – LIVE!
Like to know more? Direct your inquiries to me here or at my Mark Sudock Facebook page.
Let’s do this!
Songbook Facebook Notice
THE SINATRA SONGBOOK premiered in 1974. Yours truly, this radio series and THE SINATRA SONGBOOK Facebook Page are not affiliated with the Facebook group that carries this name. Nor is this series related to the Myspace page that carries our name.