SUMMER HOOPS: June 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

As promised last month, here is an update on the status of the Lehigh Valley tournament and summer leagues, which frequently includes teams from our viewing area in the Delaware Valley and even from the DMV from time to time.

The summer league schedule did start earlier this month (one month later than “normal”) and kicked off with some soggy weather.

A number of games the first week were pushed inside due to rain and unplayable outdoor conditions.

However, a few local leagues that are in play this summer have had good weather of late and played a number of competitive games over the past two weeks.

Among those that have shone so far are Notre Dame – Green Pond, Allen, Whitehall, Northampton, Parkland and a few others.  All of these teams have been part of the Allentown recreational scholastic league.  The Forks Township league starts this week in full swing (although their first day for games was postponed due to rain) and they feature a complete lineup of teams rounding out a busy schedule.

However, there is also a number of local leagues that are struggling to get on the courts this summer and a few are not fielding teams nor are holding their annual tournaments.

At least, not at this time.

This past weekend the Cedar Beach Showcase was played. While there were some competitive games, the number of schools participating in this annual event was down dramatically from any previous year.  Less than a third of the number of boys teams that traditionally participate attended this weekend’s events. Also, there were too few girls teams participating to even have their tournament conducted.

Even as we approach the July 4th weekend, there’s still many things up in the air for the next two months for local summertime basketball action.

Keep checking back for more updates and pictures!

 

Name, Image, Likeness

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

In October of 2019, I wrote a blog entitled, “What Happens Now?”  It concerned the battle that student-athletes were waging against the NCAA to have the right to market themselves and share some of the revenue.  That battle is finally coming to the forefront now as soon the courts and legislators will consider this issue.  I wrote then:

The quandary: Today, if you go into any store and buy a jersey, a poster, a mug, etc. with a player’s name, number, or face on it, the team or university derives some sort of royalty for that purchase.  The student-athlete receives nothing.  Obviously, the case can be made that the athlete is, in most cases, receiving a full scholarship and a complete education for his efforts.  Does the athlete deserve more or are they getting enough? 

All students have the ability to work after school hours in order to make some money.  Should we now consider athletes who “work” every day as a member of a team someone who should have the right to make money, if there is a demand for their wares directly associated with the university? 

Sports agents at the college level are often portrayed as sleazy people who sneak around in the shadows of NCAA athletics.  Now, a student-athlete risks everything if they are lured into an illegal arrangement with an agent to gain financial rewards.  Often, these stories center around students who come from poor backgrounds and the lure of financial gain is quite enticing even at the risk of losing eligibility and their scholarship.  Should they now openly be allowed to hire an agent to help them get the best deal for their talent? 

Colleges, universities, and the NCAA make billions of dollars on their product.  Coaches get paid millions at major sports institutions. Shouldn’t the athletes have the opportunity to share in those funds? 

And, finally, will this law make these young people more athlete than student?  Will they spend more time setting up appearances and endorsement opportunities that they spend in the classroom?  Will academics take a back seat to the now legal lure of making as much money as one can in the short time available to a student-athlete?  

These questions still need to be answered, but answers are on the way because the ability for student-athletes to market themselves is coming sooner rather than later.

This past week, the Patriot League and INFLCR entered into a partnership to aid student-athletes in sharing and managing their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL).  The Patriot League became the first NCAA Division I conference to provide league-wide support to their institutions and their student-athletes.  This partnership will provide tools to the student-athletes to manage their brands.

They said, “By providing each Patriot League institution with a department-wide INFLCR Verified solution, the conference is leading from the front and empowering all Patriot League student-athletes to grow their brands and educate themselves on the new opportunities that are coming soon from NIL.”

Granted the Patriot League is not the Big Ten, the SEC, or the Pac-Ten, but theirs is the first step towards fairly giving a student-athlete the opportunity to share in some of the vast amounts of money that fill the coffers of colleges and universities brought on by their athletic programs and, more importantly, by their athletes. In the near future, my original question will also be answered: What happens now?

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. It was nice to see the maturity of Jon Rahm come to fruition on Sunday at the U. S. Open. There was a time when his anger over a poor shot would get the best of him.  Something, whether it is marriage, a new baby, or maturity, has caused him to change for the better.  Not only did he win on Sunday, but his interviews afterwards showed him to be very likable.
  1. Oh, those poor Philadelphia fans! Their hopes rested on the 76ers winning an NBA championship and then on Sunday night, those hopes were dashed by Atlanta.  The 76ers were the more talented team and blew big leads in three of their four losses. They managed to lose game 7 at home in front of their people.  This one was hard to take, except for the fact the Philadelphia fans are used to it.  But it still hurts.
  1. Now the attention of the Philadelphia fans turns to watching the Phillies. They show no signs of being able to put together a winning streak to excite their following.  The Flyers had a bad year preceded by a terrible Eagles’ season.  We know what happened to the Sixers.  It does not look like the Phillies can be the cure.
  1. It was great to see a big crowd at the 50th McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic. Fans meant money for this great charity and seemed to inspire the players to play a very entertaining game.  There is nothing better than a beautiful night, sitting outdoors, and experiencing the great efforts of young athletes.  Congratulations to all who were a part of the game.
  1. Speaking of congratulations, Bethlehem Catholic’s and Penn State’s Joe Kovacs is going to the Olympics. He finished second in the shot put at the Olympic Trials this past Friday in Oregon.  Joe is the former gold medalist at the World Championships and a 2016 Olympic silver medalist.

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Dan Blocker

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation. 

 Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances. 

 One of the most popular characters on 1960s’ television was the loveable, good-natured Eric “Hoss” Cartwright on the long-running western, Bonanza, played by the equally jovial, larger-than-life personality, Dan Blocker. 

Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was born in DeKalb, Texas, on December 10, 1928.  After attending a Texas Military school, he was a standout in college football for four years before being drafted into the United States Army to fight in the Korean War. He received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in battle.

Between 1953-1958, Blocker taught high school English and drama, in addition to teaching at middle and elementary schools.  During the latter year, he received a small part in a Three Stooges’ movie, where he was billed as “Don” Blocker.  He and his wife then moved to California for Dan to try his hand at acting.

Over the next few years Blocker earned several guest appearances on television (including playing the blacksmith on Gunsmoke — the show that would spark a string of successful western-themed TV shows, including Bonanza).

He also appeared in several film projects, including two movies co-starring Frank Sinatra:  Come Blow Your Horn and The Lady in Cement.

Stanley Kubrick attempted to cast Blocker in his film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  Peter Sellers elected not to add the role of Major T.J. “King” Kong to his multiple other roles, but according to the film’s co-writer, Terry Southern, Blocker’s agent rejected the script. The role went to Slim Pickens, who played the iconic scene of riding an atomic bomb down while waving his cowboy hat.

However, the role that would make Dan a household name was that of “Hoss” … a character he portrayed for 13 seasons.  He even helped launch a string of restaurants called the Bonanza (not to be confused with the Ponderosa chain) and frequently appeared in character as “Hoss” for publicity events.

Blocker was selected for several guest-starring appearances on NBC’s popular The Flip Wilson Show comedy hour and the Jack Benny hour-long TV specials in the later 1960s.  However, most of Blocker’s acting in the 1960s and early 1970s was primarily spent on The Ponderosa.

According to Bear Family Records, Blocker portrayed his character based on the following line:

“We shall pass this way on Earth but once, if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again.”

By many accounts, the actor and his on-screen personality had very similar views on life and towards other people.  Both the fictional “Hoss” and actor Dan Blocker were warm, gregarious and larger-than-life individuals and were admired by people inside and outside of Hollywood.

On May 13, 1972 before Bonanza’s 14th season premiere was scheduled to begin shooting, Blocker went in for gallbladder surgery but developed a blog clot during the procedure and died that same day.  He was 43.

Until Blocker’s death, an unwritten rule in television was never to acknowledge a character’s “death” on screen.  However, after starting the fall 1972 season with no mention of Hoss’ non-appearance on the show, and facing mounting pressure from fans to acknowledge his passing, the writers and producers knew they had to break rank.  On a November episode the cast “announced” Hoss’ death–although the reason for his character’s passing was not mentioned during the program’s original run.

The loss of Blocker to the show marked the beginning of the end of Bonanza.  Without Hoss’ good-natured personality to balance the show, the ratings fell hard that final year, and most fans of the show will clearly state that the Ponderosa was never the same.  Even subsequent incarnations of the show seemed to fail miserably when compared to the first 13 seasons with Blocker in the saddle for this iconic western program.

Dan’s legacy lives on in his sons.  David is a successful Emmy Award-winning film producer and Dirk Blocker has appeared in a number of films and most recently as a regular on the wildly popular NBC comedy, Brooklyn 99.

Tune in or set your DVRs to see Dan Blocker’s legendary turn as “Hoss” on Bonanza every Sunday morning at 9am on RCN-TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

 

 

SPRING 2021 WINNERS

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

There were a number of great stories for the District XI spring tournament champions this year!

The Central Catholic lacrosse team became the first Lehigh Valley team ever to reach the semifinal round of the PIAA state playoffs…then went two steps further and brought home the school’s second state title so far here in 2021.

After many years of reaching both the league and district finals but failing to win any titles, the Easton girls lacrosse team finally got over the hump and captured the first league and district championships in school history.

In softball, Northampton and Whitehall — two teams that have long histories of successes but haven’t won a title in the last few years — met for the 6A District XI championship.

I had an opportunity to take in the game and it was one of the most competitive finals I ever saw!

After trading one-run leads early, Northampton built a three-run lead late, before Whitehall stormed back to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning.  The K-Kids responded in the bottom of the seventh with a timely hit to capture the title.
 

 Northampton head coach Kristy Henritzy knew exactly what that moment felt like as she shared a similar experience when she won the district title as a player back in 1996 (that same team would go on to win a state championship).  It was the school’s first championship since 2013. 

Tune into “RCN SportsTalk” over the next few weeks to hear the thoughts of our district winning teams and other local success stories from schools in the RCN-TV viewing area.  There were some tremendous accomplishments by student-athletes in Eastern Pennsylvania and I know there’s some very interesting interviews that you’ll want to hear.

If you’re not home to watch any of the district winning teams on our show when they air, be sure to set your DVRs or watch the program “on demand” … these episodes are free to watch for RCN customers for up to two months from their initial air dates.

One other local sports news note…

The 2021 District XI Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar Athlete Information was announced this past week.  The district winners are: 

2A Scholar Athlete Winner

Brett Ungar- Notre Dame Green Pond High School

3A Scholar Athlete Winner

Dominic Falcone- Easton Area High School

2A Essay Winner

Danny Grigas- North Schuylkill High School

3A Essay Winner

Evan Gleason- Bethlehem Catholic High School

Congratulations to all of these winners and check back to “The Shop” as more postseason awards and honors become available!!

Right Place – Right Time

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

I hope you are old enough to remember the names of some famous Yankees – Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, and Joe Dimaggio.  Now imagine that Phil Rizzuto is your next door neighbor.  Imagine as a 7-year-old that Phil Rizzuto would take you to the Yankee games and you would ride home with him and Yogi and “Joltin’ Joe”.  That is exactly how the childhood of Lafayette grad Mark Holtzman was spent.

Now imagine that as a 1980 graduate you worked for sports agency, ProServ, went on to Reebok, the NFL, and finally fulfilled your lifelong dream of working for the Yankees.  Yup, that happened to Mark Holtzman, too.

I interviewed Mark this past Thursday on Primetime Pards.  Trust me; he has plenty of stories with a great deal of name-dropping, claiming to always be in the right place at the right time.  I think he also possessed a great deal of marketing skills.  You be the judge:

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. The Phillies had three consecutive “walk-off” wins this week and one was against the Yankees. The Phillies win on Saturday was before a crowd of 38,450, the largest since 2019.  Many Yankee fans went home disappointed especially after tying the game in the ninth inning with a 3-run home run.  The Phils beat the Yanks again on Sunday taking the series.
  1. The 76ers have enticed me to watch their NBA games from the opening tip-off. It has been a long, long time since that has occurred.  They play defense, share the ball, and are coached to take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses.  In a nutshell, that is the way basketball should be played.  I expect them to win the Atlanta series and face the Brooklyn Nets next.  I will be watching!
  1. Being an American sports fan, I discovered, to my amazement, that the top two most Google searched sports were Soccer (39%) and Cricket (8%). Basketball, football, and golf rounded out the top five, but those three only accounted for a total of 20% of the searches.  What???
  1. Congratulations to the Central Catholic Viking lacrosse team for being the first District XI team to capture a PIAA state title. On Saturday, they beat undefeated Mars by a 14-5 score to win the AA championship.  Central outscored their opponents in the state playoffs 65-18 and finished with a 23-1 record.
  1. This week features our first Blue Mountain League Game of the Week. The games will be on Tuesday nights LIVE at 6:00pm.  The McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic is on tap Thursday, June 17, at Nazareth’s Andrew Leh Stadium.  We will have the game on a tape-delayed basis at 10:00pm.  Support a great cause and get out to the game.

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: My Favorite Brunette

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

My Favorite Brunette is regarded as one of the top cinematic performances in the incredibly lengthy career of Bob Hope. But this 1947 film had a lot more going for it than just it’s leading man, who by this time had already become one of the biggest names in show business.

“Brunette” was actually the second of three “My Favorite…” movies that was produced by Paramount Pictures. Five years prior, Hope starred in My Favorite Blonde, which also featured Madalyn Carroll. Four years later, Hope returned for My Favorite Spy, co-starring Hedy Lamarr.

Aside from the title, the main star and a somewhat similar “misdirection/wrong identity” formula, the three movies had very little in common. “Brunette” was by far the most financially successful of the three films and was the only one of the three that was universally praised by critics and fans alike.

While the first film came at the peak of the film noir era and incorporated many elements from that time frame, “Brunette” was more of a classic romantic comedy. If anything, the second film poked fun at the noir-style, as that brand of filmmaking had, by that time, become passe. Clearly, the second film had jokes that were much funnier and fresher than its predecessor, which is no surprise when you look at the two writers who penned this screenplay.

Writer Jack Rose was coming off a successful turn in writing another Hope vehicle, The Road To Bali, which is also regarded by many as the best of that film series. Rose had success writing jokes for Hope and Milton Berle for each one’s radio shows. Rose would go on and be nominated for three Academy Awards for his writing and also scripted all of the episodes in the 1960s comedy, The Good Guys.

The other writer of this film was Edmund Beloin. Beloin had established himself as one of Hollywood’s best comedic scribes by co-writing all of the scripts for The Jack Benny Program when the program first became the number one rated show in the country in 1936.

He too had success in films in the latter 1930s and throughout the 1940s, also working with Rose on the “Bali” film. Beloin would go on to write for classic television shows like The Lucy Show, My Three Sons, and Mayberry RFD.

Speaking of “The Road To…” movies, “Brunette” also benefited from having Hope’s cohort in those films, Doroth Lamour, as a co-star in this flick. The chemistry between Hope and Lamour clearly works better than it does in the other “My Favorite” entries and makes this particular film’s pace much quicker, more familiar and thoroughly more entertaining.

One last benefit of this film is the supporting cast. Peter Lorre and Alan Ladd both lent solid contributions in advancing the movie’s plot while, at the same time, played against type. Both actors are used in the comedic take of poking fun at the noir style.

Fellow established movie veteran Lon Chaney Jr. was also featured prominently, playing Willie, which was based on his character in the film classic Of Mice And Men.

Last but not least was the cameo of Bing Crosby. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, it became almost expected that a film featuring any one of Hope, Crosby or Lamour, would have at least one of the others popping up for a brief, uncredited role in the film.

Tune in for My Favorite Brunette, this Monday at 2:30pm on RCN-TV. To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN-TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

SPRING ALL-STARS 2021: ROUND 1

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Local administrators and athletic directors have started to send out their spring sports all-star lists–starting with the Eastern Pennsylvania Conferences All-Softball team members.

And this time, it’s personal.

I have three very good friends whose daughters play high school softball in the EPC.  I’m very proud to say that all three of those families have representatives on this year’s all-star lists…one isn’t even a senior yet!

With that being said (and I’m not going to show you any bias by telling you who they are), here’s the list of ALL of this spring’s All-EPC softball team award winners.  We also look forward to the other sports representatives sending out their end-of-the-season and end-of-the-year sports honors and achievements (email me at chris.michael@rcn.net) so that we can salute you here at the “RCN SportsTalk Shop.”

2021 EPC All Stars – Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe Divisions

We’d also like to salute the All-EPC singles tennis players from this spring featuring the teams in the RCN TV viewing area (we are still waiting to receive the “doubles tennis” all-stars from the official league chair).

Noah Potts, Freedom HS (League MVP)

Anthony Ronca, Liberty HS

Dan Zolotarev, Parkland HS

Curtis Gruber, Becahi HS

Quinn Erk, Emmaus HS

Josh Thomas, Parkland HS

Shayaan Farhad, Liberty HS

Eddie Chow, Emmaus HS

Jesse Coulter (Central Catholic HS)

Morning Call sports writer Dante Terenzio will be on the June 24th edition of “SportsTalk” to recap this past scholastic tennis season, as well as discuss local volleyball, wrestling and some other key sports topics. Tune in and set your DVRs so you don’t miss Dante’s insights!

Also, check back to the “SportsTalk Shop” blog for more spring all-star lists as they become available over the next several weeks!

Let the Games Begin –  or Not

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

To be honest, I do not get very excited about the Olympics.  I must admit, however, that, for me, the excitement does build as the games progress.  I’m sure part of the reason is that there is not much to watch in the way of sports when the Olympics roll around.  With all the hours of Olympic programming, that void is certainly filled.

With less than 50 days to go before the opening ceremonies (July 23), there are serious considerations about whether the Games should be held or not:

  • Japan has actually seen four Covid surges, with the fourth now declining. May saw 7,000 cases per day; that number is now down to 3,000.
  • Much like here, until the past week or two, restaurants and bars have been closed and outdoor spectator sporting events limited to 5,000.
  • The citizens of Japan do not want the Games to happen now. Eighty-percent want the games postponed or canceled.  A petition to cancel the games garnered over 400,000 signatures.
  • There will only be local spectators if they are allowed at all. Overseas foreign travelers will not be allowed to attend.  It is estimated Japan could lose $23 billion in consumer and business spending.
  • The number of athletes, media, officials, coaches, and administrative personnel are expected to near 60,000 in number.
  • Only North Korea has withdrawn from the competition claiming they want to protect their athletes – many believe it is more about the political environment between the two countries. This withdrawal has not led to other countries following suit.
  • Only 5% of Japan’s population has been vaccinated. That number should increase dramatically with the donation of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech.
  • Athletes must have two negative Covid tests prior to arriving in Japan.
  • The athletes will live in “bubbles” that are “sterile and secure”. They cannot arrive more than five days before their competition and must leave no longer than two after their competition is completed.
  • NBC paid $7.75 billion to air the games through 2032. The company lost as much as $1 billion when the Games were postponed last year.  They claim to already have at least $1.25 billion already booked this year for advertising.  Insurance would cover their losses, but not the potential profit.  A huge void would be created in their programming schedule.

Suffice it to say, there is too much money to be made for the Games to be canceled.  They will go on and it will garner much of my summertime television viewing.  I am certain I am not alone.  “USA!”  “USA!”

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. How much will a “small tear” lead to a giant collapse is the question the 76ers will answer in the next week or so. Joel Embiid may or may not be available in the NBA series against the Atlanta Hawks because of a tear in his meniscus.  They will win with him, but not without him.
  1. If you watch professional golf, you realize just how difficult it is to win. The competition is extraordinary, the courses are so difficult, and the mental aspect is so challenging.  Imagine having a 6- stroke lead going into the final round of a PGA tour event and finding out you tested positive for Covid.  That happened to Jon Rahm this past weekend.  He had to withdraw from the tournament.
  1. The Phillies are certainly having an up and down season so far, but, thankfully, that could be said for the entire NL East. One Phillie who is not is Rhys Hoskins.  As I write this, he is in the midst of a 12-game hitting streak with 12 home runs and 35 RBIs.  He needs some help, though.
  1. I congratulated Emmaus for winning the EPC baseball championship, their first league title since 2005. Now, I must congratulate them again – this time for winning the District XI 6A baseball championship and heading to the PIAA state playoffs.  Their last District title was also in 2005.  They will be joined by the District runner-up Parkland Trojans.
  1. The McDonald’s All-Star Football Classic will be played on June 17 at Nazareth’s Andrew Leh Stadium. We will have the game on a tape-delayed basis at 10:00pm.  Support a great cause and get out to the game.

 

Phantom of the Opera (1925)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

While there have been many versions of The Phantom of the Opera, the 1925 version of this classic story remains one of the best.

That being said, it’s safe to say that the production of this great silent film did not go very smoothly.

Produced and released almost two years before the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer, was released, this “Phantom” story stars Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kelly, John St. Poli, Arthur Edmund Carewe and Gibson Gowland.  The film is an adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel “Le Fantome De l’Opera.”

Chaney was highly sought after for the role, following his success in the lead role of 1923’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In addition to being arguably Lon Chaney’s greatest role, he was incredibly involved in many aspects of the film’s production.  At times, he directed scenes in place of official director Rupert Julian.  Chaney also created and invented many of the “make-up tricks” that he incorporated into his role as the deformed anti-hero, self-imprisoned in the French Opera House.

According to legend, Carl Laemmle, the president of Universal Pictures, took a vacation to Paris in 1922. During his vacation Laemmle met the author Gaston Leroux, who was working in the French film industry. Laemmle mentioned to Leroux that he admired the Paris Opera House. Leroux gave Laemmle a copy of his 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera. Laemmle read the book in one night.  He later bought the film rights and soon became the film’s producer.

The original premise (and screenplay) stayed extremely close to the original source but subsequent script revisions strayed wildly after the initial first draft.

Production began in mid-October, 1924 and instantly found problems. According to director of photography Charles Van Enger in the 1970 book “American Cinematographer,” Chaney and the rest of the cast and crew had strained relations with their director, Rupert Jullian. Eventually the lead star and director stopped talking, so Van Enger served as a go-between. He would report Julian’s directions to Chaney, who responded “Tell him to go to hell.” As Van Enger remembered, “Lon did whatever he wanted.”

Despite having a great reputation with Universal, Jullian’s directorial mediocrity was obvious to the crew. For example:  according to Van Enger, Julian had wanted the screen to go black after the chandelier fell on the Opera audience. Van Enger ignored him and lit the set with a soft glow, so the aftermath of the fall would be visible to the film audience.

Furthermore, the ending to the movie was rewritten completely — at least four times.

The initial rough cut of the film came in over four hours long…completely unheard of for motion pictures in the 1920s.  Over two-and-a-half hours of the original prints ended up on the cutting room floor.

The initial screening of the film was so negative, that the premiere date was delayed (several times in fact) and the movie was constantly in a state of reshooting, rewriting and re-editing for months.

When the film was finally released, reviews were still mixed.  However, as time has marched on, the more contemporary reviews cite fewer flaws and more polish than the initial critics.

TV Guide gave the film 4-out-of-5 stars, calling it, “one of the most famous horror movies of all time. The Phantom of the Opera still manages to frighten (audiences) after more than 60 years.”  On Rotten Tomatoes, The Phantom of the Opera holds an approval rating of 90% following its most recent review in October 2020.

Film historians also have praised this version of the film, citing many innovative techniques, from Chaney’s own make-up skills to unique examples of camera positioning and lighting strategies throughout the film.  The fact that this picture had to overcome so many challenges to reach its initial release (and even then, has had to withstand reworkings several times thereafter) have only added to the picture’s lore.

(One more interesting note:  the last surviving cast member was Carla Laemmle, niece of producer Carl, who played a small role as a “prima ballerina.” She was 15 in the movie and passed on in 2014.)

Is it truly a classic masterpiece?  You can decide for yourself when you check out the original film version of The Phantom Of The Opera.  Tune in and set your DVRs for Friday, June 11th at 10pm on RCN TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

The “Executive” Conundrum

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

In the pre-coronavirus era, the hottest sports debate over the last couple years in the Lehigh Valley swirled around the new school, Executive Education Academy Charter School.

The Raptors were accused of allegedly taking top-tier players from other Lehigh Valley school districts…a charge that resulted in a public hearing.

While EEACS was not found guilty nor made any formal retributions, the local governing sports body (District XI) did recommend that some changes needed to be made by the academy to their “recruiting” practices, with a warning that penalties might be issued if they chose not to follow the suggestions.

This did not sit well with many surrounding school districts, who felt there was clearly enough evidence to warrant formal sanctions.

The result?

Not one Lehigh Valley basketball team had ever scheduled the school for any regular-season game the last few school years (prior to this current COVID-filled school year).

In fact, in its first year, the Raptors won the District XI 2A title without playing a single team from the Valley until the championship game.  Ironically, Executive Education Academy’s championship victory came over another “non-boundary” school, Moravian Academy.

While a few schools did play Executive this past basketball season, the common reason was, because of all the limitations placed on a number of school districts due to COVID, opponents were sometimes few and far between.  Most administrators and coaches have remained mum about the possibility of adding or resuming games with EEACS in the future.

In a completely separate news story, Allen High School anointed Randy Atiyeh as the school’s new athletic director a few months back.  A long-time assistant basketball coach and a tireless worker in the community, Randy was an obvious choice to take over the position and, so far this year, has done a tremendous job in that role.

But this hiring set up an intriguing decision for local sports fans now to ponder.

One of Atiyeh’s closest friends is former Parkland High School basketball standout player, Toomey Anderson, who is officially the assistant athletic director and a key figure at Executive Education Academy’s basketball program.  Both Atiyeh and Anderson have been co-directors of one of the annual summer basketball tournaments at Cedar Beach in Allentown–the same event that has seen most local schools drop out of competition because of Anderson’s involvement with the Raptors.

Furthermore, Allen’s new boys’ basketball Head Coach is Darnell Braswell, who is good friends with another former Canary great, Ray Barbosa – the boys’ basketball Head Coach at, you guessed it … Executive Education Academy.

The immediate question surrounding the Allen High School sports program now becomes, will Atiyeh break the unanimous, yet unofficial union of the local schools by putting the Raptors on the Canaries’ schedule in future seasons?

We asked Randy and Darnell that very question on a recent edition of “SportsTalk.”

Here is a portion of Atiyeh’s answer.

RCN customers can get more of Randy’s response, plus Darnell’s reaction and more of their opinions by watching the entire interview though RCN’s Video-on-Demand.  And keep checking back to our “SportsTalk” show for news and analysis as this story continues to evolve for future seasons.