Thursday, December 05, 2013

CNN postpones Innocence Project film to honor Mandela; NBC airs "The Sound of Music Live"

CNN shifted almost all of its coverage to the passing of Nelson Mandela in South Africa today. Networks extended their evening news to a full hour for time but resumed scheduled programming. However, CNN postponed its important film “An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story” until Sunday night.  I personally think that was unnecessary.  Since both Morton and Mandela served very long unjust prison sentences, I think it would have been fitting to air the film as scheduled.  

The film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is playing in New York and LA and is supposed to be in general release very soon.
I switched over to NBC, which aired its three-hour “stage musical” event “The Sound of Music Live” directed by Rob Ashford. 
The presentation seemed a little bit tame compared to the 1965 mega-musical from 20th Century Fox.  I think you need this on a big screen, so Regal Entertainment’s “Go big or go home” really applies.  A few of the musical numbers seemed new. 
In the movie, the buildup of tension as the final confrontation with the Nazis approaches after the Trapp children perform matches the music, so the final “Climb Every Mountain” (to cross into neutral Switzerland, over real mountains) has an overwhelming triumphant impact. The cramped “stage” version of this sequence seems contrived by comparison.
Still, the dialogue where Trapp says he has no interest in taking sides in politics is telling. 
The Nazi swatiskas are not used much in the Live version until the very end.
My “music friend” in that lost semester at William and Mary (1961), so dedicated to Mozart, liked little Broadway, but he did like “The Sound of Music”. 
I remember “Carousel”, with the song about a hypothetical son or daughter, and most of all “My Fair Lady”, which I saw in 1965 at the Warner Theater the night before traveling to New Jersey for a friend’s wedding.

Update: Dec. 6.  Media reports NBC had 18 million viewers and that the musical was a financial success for the network, even if it played like "dinner theater".  Yes, people will compare Carrie Underwood to Julie Andrews (Time article). 

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