Tag Archives: classic

‘Twin Peaks’ sequel debuts in May

David Lynch knows how to keep viewers guessing about what to expect from the “Twin Peaks” sequel.

In a Q&A with TV critics Monday, the genial Lynch either declined to provide details about the Showtime series or gave answers that were as mysterious as the plot of the 1990s cult series.

Cast members who took part in a separate panel discussion also were mum about the plot in advance of the show’s May 21 debut.

Lynch did say that what occurred during character Laura Palmer’s final week before her murder — the central question of the 1990-91 ABC series — is “very much important for this.”

He didn’t elaborate.

The filmmaker (“Mulholland Drive”) directed all 18 hours of the new series that he produced and wrote with Mark Frost, his collaborator on the original.

Asked what fans should expect of the series’ tone, Lynch replied: “I see it as a film, and a film in parts is what people will experience. It was a joyful, fantastic trip with this great crew and great cast.”

How many of the stories were ones he couldn’t tell in the original series, and how many are new?

“I’m not at liberty to talk about that,” Lynch said. He also declined to address why he separated from the sequel and then rejoined it.

Earlier, Showtime Networks chief executive David Nevins said that the new series “is the pure heroin version of David Lynch, and I’m very excited to be putting that out.”

Asked if he felt the ABC series was unadulterated, Lynch said that he loved the pilot. But he added that pressure to solve Laura’s death undermined the show’s second and final season.

Nevins said he considered the sequel a close-ended work, but Lynch expressed uncertainty.

“Before I said I wasn’t going to revisit it — and I did,” he said. There are no plans for more at this point but, Lynch added, never say never.

Returning cast members include Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick and Sheryl Lee.

Despite some long days of filming, MacLachlan said, “It was just a huge sense of gratitude to be there, to be creating something we all love, to be working with a master like David Lynch.”

On the Web

Twin Peaks fan site.

Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Yes to be inducted into Rock Hall

The late rapper Tupac Shakur and Seattle-based rockers Pearl Jam lead a class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees that also include folkie Joan Baez and 1970s favorites Journey, Yes and Electric Light Orchestra.

The rock hall also said it would give a special award to Nile Rodgers, whose disco-era band Chic failed again to make the cut after its 11th time nominated.

Baez will be inducted only months after her 1960s paramour, Bob Dylan, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The hall’s 32nd annual induction ceremony will take place on April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. HBO will show highlights later, with SiriusXM doing a radio broadcast.

Shakur was shot and killed after attending a boxing match in Las Vegas in 1996, a murder that has spawned conspiracy theories but remains unsolved. “Changes,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Ambitionz Az a Ridah” and “Life Goes On” are among his best-known songs. Only 25 when he died, Shakur left behind a trove of music that was released posthumously.

Pearl Jam exploded in popularity from the start in the early 1990s behind songs like “Alive,” “Jeremy” and “Even Flow.” After Nirvana, it is the second band with roots in Seattle’s grunge rock scene to make the hall. Behind singer Eddie Vedder and other original members Mike McCready, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam remains active and is a popular live act.

Vedder is no newcomer to rock hall ceremonies, having given induction speeches for Neil Young and the Ramones.

Baez was a political activist and mainstay of the folk movement, performing at the first Newport Folk Festival at age 19 in 1959. She was known primarily as an interpreter of others’ songs, introducing Dylan to a wider audience at the beginning of his career. Their affair ended badly in 1965, for which Dylan later apologized.

Baez’s own “Diamonds and Rust” in 1975 was one of her biggest hits.

Journey’s 1981 song “Don’t Stop Believin”” was given new life by being featured in the closing scene of HBO’s “The Sopranos” and became a favorite of a new generation. Its 6.8 million iTunes sales makes it the most-bought song on that platform from the pre-digital era, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Former singer Steve Perry, estranged from the band for many years, offers some potential rock hall drama: will he show up for his induction? Founding member Neal Schon was quoted in Billboard recently saying that there are so many non-rock artists in the hall that “I don’t really care about being there.” He did allow that it would be nice for fans of the band, never a critical favorite.

Britain’s Yes, known for its complex compositions, was a leader of the 1970s progressive rock movement. Yes’ hits include “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and its fans have waged a vociferous campaign to see them honored. Founding bass player Chris Squire, the one constant in many years of personnel changes, died in June 2015.

Electric Light Orchestra got its start melding classical influences to Beatles-influenced pop, and charted with “Evil Woman,” “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.” The band essentially exists now in leader Jeff Lynne’s imagination and home studio and had a mildly successful comeback a year ago.

Chic, led by Rodgers and the late Bernard Edwards, has become the rock hall’s version of Susan Lucci and her long quest to win a Daytime Emmy. While Shakur, Baez, Pearl Jam and ELO were elected this year in their first time on the ballot, Chic has endured years of disappointment.

The hall’s award for musical excellence to songwriter and guitarist Rodgers is no consolation prize. When disco cooled, Rodgers became one of the hottest producers in the business, behind the boards for some of the ‘80s most indelible albums: David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and the B-52’s “Cosmic Thing.”

Philip Feeney paints a musical portrait for Milwaukee Ballet’s ‘Dorian Gray’

Milwaukee Ballet fans have enjoyed the music of Philip Feeney since frequent collaborator Michael Pink became the ballet’s artistic director in 2002. From Peter Pan and Dracula to Esmeralda and Mirror, Mirror, the English composer’s musical stamp and unique complexities have underscored Pink’s original ballets. 

The pair has collaborated again with Dorian Gray, based on the Oscar Wilde novel about a hedonistic narcissist and his ultimate undoing. For this production, Milwaukee Ballet will take to a more intimate stage at the historic Pabst Theatre. 

Pink in the past has depended on Feeney’s music to help bring his ballets to life and give them multiple levels of emotional texture. The composer’s latest work, he says, is no different.

“Philip has a real empathy, with the idea of writing a music score that creates a sound world and successfully tells the story,” says Pink, who collaborates with the London-based composer via Skype, FaceTime and other technologies. “His musical structures are very thoughtful and highly intelligent. There’s a lot more to the score than meets the ear.”

WiG caught up with Feeney in his London studio while he put the finishing touches on Dorian Gray

How long have you been collaborating with Michael Pink?

I started working with Michael at the Central School of Ballet (in London) in the 1980s. He’d just finished dancing with the London Festival Ballet and was starting a career as a choreographer. Together, we created the graduate group of Ballet Central, taking young dancers in a minibus touring around the U.K., and composing and choreographing new works expressly for them. In those days, I genuinely created the music in the studio at the same time as Michael was choreographing. That’s something that doesn’t come up so often in a professional context, but it still makes for a creative environment.

Which of the ballets that you’ve composed for Michael is your favorite?

I’m afraid I don’t really do favorites. I think the range is exciting and all the works have a different approach, dictated to by their subject matter. 

I do have a fond memory of the score for Esmeralda, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame as it was known as over here. The colorfulness and vividness of the Victor Hugo plot line was perfect for a vibrant musical depiction, and worked well. It was also written quickly — unfortunately the case with most of my work, as I’m quite incompetent at time management — in the months following the death of my mother. I’m not sure about the correlation, but I think, paradoxically, it had something to do with the fluency of composition.

How does ballet music differ in style, structure and purpose from other classical compositions?

Those three things — style, structure and purpose — in a narrative composition are determined by the choreographer’s designs and intentions. This is the case even with style. I am particularly eclectic and a magpie in such matters, but all composers working with dance will adapt their style so the music is capable of driving the choreography. The important thing is that the musical structure, while fitting the choreography, must be musically coherent. Otherwise, it sounds a mess and will not be able to serve the choreography.

What differentiates Michael Pink’s ballets from other choreographers’ works for whom you’ve composed the scores? 

The scores I do with Michael are narrative scores, which is a form I’m at home with. It is where a composed score comes into its own, allowing the choreographer much greater scope and control of plot and dynamic.

Having worked with Michael Pink now for nearly 30 years, it’s a bit like coming home. There are so many shortcuts that come from collaborating a lot that save a great deal of time in not going down blind alleys. There is trust involved, whereby I know if Michael doesn’t like the music I’ve done, then it won’t work for the ballet. But conversely he will trust me if say, “No, no, Michael, it’s going to work,” even if he’s initially unconvinced.

What aspects of the source material do you take into consideration when composing a ballet? 

The source material for each ballet is different and is established by the demands of the narrative. In Dorian Gray, we have two extraneous musical sources that are used to generate the rest of the musical material.

The first came from an idea from Michael. He saw Dorian as somehow associated with the music of Chopin. I have used the B flat minor mazurka (a Polish folk dance composed by Chopin) that, for me, really works for the piece. It is not only harmonically chromatic and tortured, but it has an intense melancholy and an intimacy suggestive of a late Victorian gaslight world.

The other source was the recording of a young choirboy, Headly O’Brien, giving a beautiful sense of innocence that is ultimately corrupted and becomes revealed in the picture (of Dorian Gray that ages instead of Gray himself). I wrote two short unaccompanied “Lilac Songs,” using words from Walt Whitman’s elegy “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” which (O‘Brien) recorded in the basement of Central School of Ballet in London. These become a crucial part of the thematic material and, indeed, begin and end the work. But like the mazurka, they are never really heard in their entirety, almost as if they are a hidden painting beneath the painting itself. 

How does the music for Dorian Gray differ from your other scores for Michael, both musically and thematically?

As a chamber score, it’s the size in particular. The only other chamber score I wrote for Michael was his choreographic portrayal of Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting, a dark World War I piece for male dancers and 10 instruments. The scoring for Dorian Gray uses nine instruments supported by an electronic keyboard, metamorphosing from percussion to harp to celeste. With that, we’ve incorporated some fairly extensive audio material, which at the climax of the ballet stages a takeover and swamps the live musicians with a series of violent swells.

Michael asked for a very dark score — he often likes dark, but within that dark, there is usually some dance and life — where the atmosphere is intense, and a sense of the terrible necessity of the end is maintained throughout. 

All the instrumentalists, of course, are soloists, but two stand out. The alto sax starts the piece with a call, taken from the Chopin, and its sound is very much a voice of the piece. In the second act, the violin begins to take on the role of Dorian’s inner torment, and like the picture, is increasingly distorted and dissonant. There’s a kind of reference to the devil’s violin, nothing too exact, but it’s a useful allusion to give to the musician. 

Is it easier to compose music for a commonly known story such as Dorian Gray or Peter Pan? How do you avoid falling into stereotypical musical formats?

For whatever reason, ballet topics tend to be well-known warhorses. There is a challenge in retelling these stories of searching for a new angle and new portrayal. This pursuit will generally steer us clear of being too markedly stereotyped, because the departures from the original that characterize the production will offer scope for the musician and the choreographer to plant new trees, so to speak.

There, of course, is a balance, and the tone of the production will determine what references need to be made to commonly held preconceptions. The music for Dracula was (considered) to be quite filmic. Although that was never the intention, the way that the score subliminally manipulated the audience by creating a sense of disquiet is similar to the way film music works. 

I am very much in favor of breathing new life into old traditions. Otherwise, we shouldn’t be choosing traditional or well-known stories, if we are not going to add to what went before.

How do you know when a score is “finished?” What elements need to be present in order for that score to succeed?

To some extent scores are never finished! But it is in the nature of musical notation that when a score is completed, it then becomes “text” and, as such, etched in stone. In many ways the excitement of this project is that, by working with a high- performance chamber group, we can have more options and flexibility to make it work better. And I will welcome the input of the players in a way that’s less easy when the work is orchestral.

As to the question of success, I can, and I hope have, organized the score in such a way that it forms a structurally satisfying piece of work. However, these things are organic. The success of the music should probably be judged by how it works theatrically within the choreography and the production. 

ON STAGE 

The Milwaukee Ballet’s production of Michael Pink’s Dorian Gray, with music by Philip Feeney, takes the stage Feb. 12 to Feb. 14 and Feb. 19 to Feb. 21 at the Pabst Theatre, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets range from $35 to $102 and can be ordered at 414-286-3663 or visit
milwaukeeballet.org.

‘Rocky Horror’ ends an Alchemist Theatre tradition

For years, Aaron Kopec has been terrifying audiences with haunting Halloween shows at the Alchemist theater — tales of paranormal horror, devilish dealings and general terror. That all ends this year. Kopec’s declared this fall’s Halloween show will be the theater’s last, and they’re going out with a bang.

“We wanted to do one more,” he says. “We wanted it to be big and splashy and fun.”

So, of course, he picked The Rocky Horror Show.

The comedy-horror classic about unsuspecting newlyweds who stumble onto the home of a mad transvestite scientist will wrap up the Halloween series and the season, running through October.

It’s a big shift for the company in more than just its tone. Prior Halloween shows have been written by Kopec and usually took audiences throughout the nooks and crannies of the Alchemist space, while Rocky is a cult classic being brought in fully formed. But, Kopek says, this is a show he and his cast have wanted to do for years, and director Erin Hartman (who also plays Janet) has managed to make it more than just a step-by-step recreation of the film version.

“We all love the movie and you can’t help but do homages to the movie … but don’t expect the movie version if you come to see this,” Kopec says. He and Hartman looked at the text and songs with fresh eyes and found different but valid ways to present the material. “If you love the movie and want to see the movie, there’s a place in Milwaukee where you can do that. … This is something new.”

Among the changes is a new way of looking at Dr. Frank N. Furter, portrayed by Nathan Wesselowski, who says it’s been important to divorce himself from Tim Curry’s iconic performance in the film. “There’s no way on Earth I was going to be Tim Curry, so I had to come to who Frank N. Furter is through me,” he says. Part of his interpretation includes a literally towering performance — he’s a tall man made even taller with platform shoes. He doesn’t have Curry’s visual “glam,” but Wesselowski tries to project that quality through his vocals. A trained operatic tenor, he sails off into the stratosphere with some of Frank’s songs.

The other big shift is Hartman’s insistence on bringing out the moral messages of the show — something she thinks is often lost beneath the thick layers of schlock and camp that usually paint the musical. “Instead of just saying ‘we’re crazy,’ to actually figure out why you’re crazy is important,” Hartman says. “Even the shittiest production (of Rocky) ever made is probably one of the most fun things you can possibly sit through. But it’s important to give it the credit it deserves.”

Kopec says part of the trick to their success in rehearsal thus far is that everyone in the company is equally passionate about the material. The actors are not purposely “superfans,” but sort of accidentally so. “You might not be obsessed-obsessed, you might not own a costume of one of the characters, but it is one of those weird shows where, once you get it, you get it,” he says. “It gets under your skin.”

Between it just being Rockyand it being the last Halloween show, Kopec says audience expectations are high. He’ll dress the theater and lounge in a fashion similar to prior immersive productions, although on a much smaller scale. He says Rocky’s a big enough show without all that.

Je wants the show to be a fitting send-off to the Halloween series. “It’s a good one to go out on,” he says.

After Rocky closes, Kopec says the theater will just host rentals for a few months, while he figures out what’s next for the Alchemist. Until then, we’ll just have to wait with antici…pation.

‘ROCKY HORROR’ STORIES

Rocky Horror usually doesn’t provoke a lukewarm reaction, whether you take a positive or negative stand on it. So it’s no surprise that the brains behind the Alchemist’s production have strong feelings about the show — and some good stories. WiG asked director Erin Hartman (playing Janet), actor Nathan Wesselowski (playing Frank) and technical director Aaron Kopec (a former Eddie, in Off the Wall’s 2004 production) to tell their Rocky Horror stories and explain why this musical has such a hold on them.

Erin When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed to watch R-rated movies. My parents were very conservative about that. But every Halloween my dad would rent us scary movies. All of a sudden, one day, he came home and goes, “I think it’s time. I rented Rocky Horror.” … I was just starting to get into musical theater anyway and it blew my mind. As weird as it is, Rocky Horror was like, “All right, you guys are almost adults now.” It was a concession to us. It made you feel responsible and all these other things. It’s one point in my life I can pinpoint where I was like “that changed me.” My parents had a shift. I had a shift. … I went to Madison — because it’s the best state school and I got in — I went to Madison without touring the campus, because they had one of the longest runs of Rocky Horror and I thought any place that does that, I’m going to be OK. 

Nathan I grew up in a small town — it’s a refinery and manufacturing town and also a farming community in central Kansas. And the very first time I saw this was on Halloween, the fall of ’87, when I was 17. I had not seen anything like that. I remember I was so into the movie — because it was so different and interesting from anything that I had seen — but then I got irritated by all the people yelling stuff because I wanted to see the movie, you know? And I didn’t understand this tradition at all. So that was my introduction. But then I think what solidified it for me was after my parents’ divorce and (my mom and I) moved to Washington, D.C. I was in an acting class at the Arena Stage and a bunch of us went to one of the local spots. And then I understood. I think I can pinpoint from that movie, somewhere in there, is when I really started expressing myself in a different way. “Don’t dream it, be it.” That’s sort of what it was. Dreaming of being an artist and freeing myself up from all these constraints. 

Aaron I knew very little. I was aware of Rocky Horror. My sister was a fan. But I had never even seen the movie. I was at Off the Wall and Dale was casting the show and he knew that I could sort of sing — enough to possibly play Eddie. He offered me the role and I went to a rental store — we do recall what those are — and rented a DVD and watched it. It was the opening song, “Science Fiction/Double Feature.” It just sings about everything that I love. And I knew. I didn’t even care about the “Don’t dream it, be it.” Because the movie does give you permission to be whoever you want. It has this great message that’s hidden in all its weirdness. But just the opening song alone. I thought, “This is my thing. This is clearly written by someone who loves everything that is Aaron Kopec.” It was great.

ON STAGE

The Rocky Horror Show runs Oct. 1-31 at the Alchemist Theatre, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at thealchemisttheatre.com.

Joshua Radin’s musical journey travels ‘Onward’

Most singer-songwriters start early, taking up instruments in their teens or early 20s and using them and their voices in tandem to forge their path in the music business.

Joshua Radin, on the other hand, didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 30, and says he became a musician “totally by chance.” All he wanted was to learn enough chords to play a Bob Dylan song and it snowballed from there. “Pretty shortly thereafter I started writing my own songs and stopped learning cover songs,” he says.

He didn’t have to wait long to earn public attention. Radin’s song “Winter” was used on a 2004 episode of Scrubs, and the exposure launched Radin’s career. He’s been performing ever since and this month will return to Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater, a personal favorite venue, for the first time in three years.

Radin says his career has been on a “slow organic build for the past 10 years.” He’s continued to write his own material, with key inspiration from “classic, great songwriters” like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, among others. Vocally, though, he says he thinks his biggest influence has been Paul Simon, both in Simon’s solo work and his earlier collaborations with Art Garfunkel.

Radin’s current tour supports Onward and Sideways, his sixth studio album and second self-released record, issued in early January. He says the album was inspired by his effort to tell a woman in his life about his love for her. “We had been friends for about five years, platonic friends, and I finally got up the nerve to tell her how I felt,” he says. “But I didn’t have the nerve to do it in telling her; I had to do it in song.”

So far, it’s worked, he adds, but don’t be afraid romantic bliss will eliminate Radin’s need to write love songs. “With the right woman,” he says, “you have to woo her for the rest of your life.”

Radin recorded his first four albums with Columbia and then independent label Mom + Pop, but he decided to step out on his own with 2013’s Wax Wings. “I just like to be the only cook in the kitchen,” he says, and being on a major label didn’t afford him that ability. Releasing albums on his own terms lets him determine how it sounds, and he says his fan base has been loyal enough that he doesn’t need a major label for the sales.

He also doesn’t need them to reel in big guest stars. Onward and Sideways features a new recording of Radin’s “Beautiful Day” (first released on Wax Wings) as a duet with Sheryl Crow.

The duo connected when Radin performed as an opening act for Crow six or seven years ago. When he was approached by a car manufacturer to use “Beautiful Day” as the background for a commercial, he decided to change things up a bit and reached out to his former tourmate. “I’ve always been a fan of her music,” he says, “but then I became a big fan of her personally as well. … I just called and asked if she would do it, and she said yeah, and she nailed it.”

Radin says his live show is “about as intimate as you can possibly get,” especially now that he’s broken his touring band down to a trio. “I try to make the show feel like you’re in my living room, as cozy and intimate as possible, and I tell stories about the songs,” he says. “I really try to take the walls down between performer and audience.”

Yet while Radin’s songs are beloved for their personal feel, his goals for the future include steering away from that sort of narrative. While he says his work up to now has been similar to journal entries, he’d like to move on to taking on the personas of other people in his music — as he puts it, “jumping into the skin of someone else and looking out through their eyes.”

It’s a bold new aspiration for the songwriter as he embarks on the second decade of his singing career — and one Milwaukee audiences will surely hope they don’t have to wait another three years to see.

ON STAGE

Joshua Radin performs at the Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at 414-286-3663 or pabsttheater.org.

25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

Here are the 25 films selected in 2014 by the Library of Congress to be preserved as part of the National Film Registry:

• “13 Lakes” (2004)

• “Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day” (1913)

• “The Big Lebowski” (1998)

• “Down Argentine Way” (1940)

• “The Dragon Painter” (1919)

• “Felicia” (1965)

• “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)

• “The Gang’s All Here” (1943)

• “House of Wax” (1953)

• “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” (2000)

• “Little Big Man” (1970)

• “Luxo Jr.” (1986)

• “Moon Breath Beat” (1980)

• “Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!” (1976)

• “The Power and the Glory” (1933)

• “Rio Bravo” (1959)

• “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)

• “Ruggles of Red Gap” (1935)

• “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

• “Shoes” (1916)

• “State Fair” (1933)

• “Unmasked” (1917)

• “V-E Day + 1” (1945)

• “The Way of Peace” (1947)

• “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971)

Pink Floyd say goodbye with ‘The Endless River’

Pink Floyd, “The Endless River” (Columbia Records)

Never was an album more aptly named than “The Endless River,” the new — and seemingly final — release from Pink Floyd. It flows unstoppably, and while some listeners may feel it meanders on too long, it’s very easy to get swept along by it.

Though this is the band’s first studio album in two decades, much of the material was recorded in 1993 and 1994, during sessions for “The Division Bell.” For years, it seemed that album would be Pink Floyd’s swansong. But now the material has been tweaked and shaped under into a new release, partly in tribute to keyboard player Rick Wright, who died in 2008.

Guitarist David Gilmour has called “The Endless River” a series of musical conversations; the band members’ musical rapport was always more eloquent than their spoken communications. There are not many words on this mostly instrumental album, although physicist Stephen Hawking lends his distinctive voice to “Talkin’ Hawkin’.”

Both the compositions and their titles allude to all the water that has passed under the bridge in the course of Pink Floyd’s long career. The opening track, “Things Left Unsaid,” sets the tone: It’s a woozy wash of Wright’s keyboards, haunting horn sounds and Gilmour’s guitar that feels elegiac.

On it rolls from there, sometimes a tranquil wash, sometimes churned into rapids by Gilmour’s piercing guitar and Nick Mason’s thundering drums, for 18 tracks — four sides of vinyl if you opt for the old-fashioned format.

What’s on display is not so much songwriting as chemistry. This band had something, a magic, and you can hear it throughout “The Endless River.”

The band members know it, too. The closing track is “Louder Than Words,” and finally there are lyrics: “We bitch and we fight, diss each other on sight,” it begins, a fond but weary tribute to creative spark and strife. “The sum of our parts, the beat of our hearts, is louder than words.”

‘Gilligan’s Island’ star Dawn Wells answers the question: What Would Mary Ann Do?

As the title suggests, What Would Mary Ann Do?, by Dawn Wells with Steve Stinson, is a book of advice. Wells, who played the wholesome, naïve Mary Ann in the classic 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, subtitled the book A Good Girl’s Guide To Life, and it’s a subtitle that refers to both Wells and Mary Ann. Wells offers suggestions for living through the eyes of the actress as well as the character. The book also is full of photos from Wells’ acting career.

I spoke with Wells shortly before the book’s September publication date.

What’s the target audience for What Would Mary Ann Do? I probably raised a generation that are parents of teenagers now, and the attraction to Mary Ann has been the wholesomeness, the honesty, the pitching in and helping. (She represents) the kind of values that seem to be going out the window. It’s hard, as a parent, to corral the teenagers. I don’t have children, but I can see (the teen years are a) difficult time. I have men say to me, “I married a Mary Ann,” or “I want to raise a Mary Ann.” I thought, “There’s something in this character, in this silly little show, that has more value than we think.” 

Could you see parlaying this book into a manners/advice column? It’s very interesting that you say that. I had an experience at a barbecue/fundraiser last year. This girl, probably 13 or 14, sat down next to me for an autograph while I was signing them for other people. I had never seen a child so beautiful. One of those faces that just takes your breath away. I said to her, “I’m going to tell you something,” and her mother was standing there, and I said, “Say no.” She said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Because of how you look, you are going to be asked so many things that you don’t understand. Boys can’t help themselves, etc. Start out with ‘no.’” We started to laugh about it. I don’t know that young people would read (an advice column), but they might. That’s kind of a cute idea. I have to roll it around in my brain.

In the book you write about your idea for the British-style red phone booths to be used as cellphone stations. I think it’s sheer brilliance. I get so tired of being in a room and everybody’s talking to somebody else (on their phones). You can’t help but overhear. Privacy is gone. I think we all need private time and private moments. I think it would be nice if you had to go into a booth to have your conversation. We’re all invaded by all of that. Where is our privacy? Where are our own quiet thoughts?

In the book you write about “the lesson of seven castaways” — about how they made the island a “safe haven for humanity,” which is especially applicable today, with the devastation in Gaza and Ferguson, Missouri. What would it take for everyone to coexist in peace and harmony? I’m not sure it’s possible. We are observing it now, firsthand. I get tears in my eyes half the time. Remember the peace marches years ago? Martin Luther King and all that. We in Nevada felt like we had something to do with Montgomery, Alabama. Now, can we do something in Gaza? With the people we elect? The people we elect have a huge responsibility. I don’t know where the world is going.

A few days ago, Huffington Post ran a piece titled “11 TV Shows That Defined Your Childhood, Ranked From Worst To Best.” Gilligan’s Island came in at No. 3. What does that ranking mean to you? First of all, I think it would mean an awful lot to the creator (Sherwood Schwartz), who is gone. That he had the vision. Of course, we were bad-rapped: “The worst show ever on television!” “It’ll never last 30 seconds!” CBS didn’t want to put it on the air. Until they showed it to the public — when they had those audiences and it was rated one of the highest ever. I think it was fun and silly at the time. But it sustained because we need it. We need that escape. It’s not Judy Garland tap dancing. It’s more relatable. You saw the camaraderie between these seven misfits trying to get along. I do think Mary Ann was part of the stability. I don’t think that was part of the writers’ vision from the beginning — “Mary Ann’s got to be the peacemaker.” No. The creator had a purity and a childlike vision of life through these seven characters. You loved the Skipper! We didn’t bully Gilligan. With what’s going on today, Gilligan would be thrown off the island.

You also write about Russell Johnson (The Professor), who had a gay son and then became an AIDS advocate when his son became ill. Are you aware of a gay following? I’m very much aware of the gay following and very supportive. I think Mary Ann would’ve been your buddy! I respected Russell so much. It was a tough time. He went out on a limb and he talked about it and the pride he had with (his son) David. That was a big step way back then.

Where do you stand on the subject of same-sex marriage? I’m supportive. I think we are more alike than different. I think we need to embrace who we are today and stop fighting. If there is love around, it’s love, there’s nothing offensive about that.

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‘Sharknado 2’ a hilarious must-see treat

Don’t worry about me. The Sharknado Evacuation map supplied by Syfy network places me, as a resident of Lower Manhattan, smack in the zone most in peril this sharknado season. But I’ll be ready.

You might as well batten down the hatches, too. “Sharknado 2: The Second One” (which, if you hadn’t guessed, is an encore follow-up sequel to last summer’s campy classic) premieres Wednesday (9 p.m. EDT).

The original “Sharknado” depicted a weather aberration on the Southern California coast that caused bloodthirsty sharks to rain on hapless Angelenos. But hunky beach-bar owner Fin Shepard (get it: fin shepherd?!) saved the day with a makeshift shark explosion.

Now he’s back. Again played by “Beverly Hills, 90210” alum Ian Ziering, Fin, in the aftermath of his sharknado trauma, is heading to New York City for a quiet visit along with his beloved ex, April (the returning Tara Reid). It won’t surprise you to learn that an even bigger, badder sharknado siege awaits him.

That’s the bad news. The good news: “Sharknado 2” is a hilarious must-see treat.

The original film erupted as a social-media and pop-culture phenomenon, mostly celebrated for its unwitting awfulness. It was a throwback to drive-in movies of 50 years ago that you would have ignored while you and your date put your attention elsewhere. A would-be blend of “Jaws” and “Baywatch,” it was funny, but never seemed to be in on the joke.

Against all odds, “Sharknado 2” has wised up. Though it and its performers teem with conviction — no winking at the audience here _ the film is unabashedly awash with fun. And unlike laid-back Cali, New York — always spoiling for a fight — is the perfect arena for dramatic strife, even from killer sharks cascading from the sky.

In fact, “Sharknado 2” serves as a paean to the Big Apple. Veteran comedian Robert Klein (playing the mayor of New York in one of the film’s numerous celebrity cameos) delivers a rousing call-to-arms for all New Yorkers: “When something bites us, we bite back!” Hizzoner said a mouthful!

Adding to the merriment are the many New York locations. Director Anthony C. Ferrante (back again for the sequel, as is screenwriter Thunder Levin) proves himself as a guerrilla filmmaker, capturing the city up-close-and-personal yet with a remarkably sleek touch. It’s a fine-looking film, despite a budget (Ferrante hints) somewhere between $1 million and $2 million and a shooting schedule (he swears) of just 18 days.

“I had only been to New York a few times,” Ferrante, who grew up in Northern California, said recently, “and getting to come here and shoot at all these landmarks, I was like a kid in a candy store. When they told me, ‘You only get Times Square for two hours, and with only a crew of eight,’ I said, ‘OK, let’s do it!’ We shot the whole ferry scene in 15 minutes on the ride back from Liberty Island.

“We needed to do the subway scene, and got a meeting with the MTA. They didn’t know what a sharknado is, but we made our case. They said, ‘We’re gonna give you the platform at Citi Field and a functioning (subway) car for three hours.’ And the Mets gave us a 12-hour day at Citi Field. I’m from L.A., but I want the Mets to win the World Series this year. They did me a solid!”

The subway and Citi Field sequences are riotous, and, among the many star turns, “Today” personalities Matt Lauer and Al Roker do some of the best work of their lives providing poker-faced coverage of the raging disaster.

But the film will sink its teeth into you from its first moments as you join Fin and April on their terrifying airline flight. Fasten your seatbelt for a wicked homage. This “Sharknado” is the very definition of scared silly.

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Bartlett’s revised with very familiar quotations

So much has changed since we last heard from “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” a decade ago.

Barack Obama was a state legislator. Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla. Steve Jobs had just introduced a portable music player called the iPod.

And digital books were a relic from the dot-com bubble.

The 18th edition of the venerable reference work has just been released, the first for the electronic age and a chance to take in some of the new faces, events and catchphrases of the past 10 years. General editor Geoffrey O’Brien says he has expanded upon the trend set by his predecessor, Justin Kaplan, of incorporating popular culture into an anthology once known for classical citations. Shakespeare and the Bible still reign, but room also has been made for Madonna and Michael Moore, Justin Timberlake and Jon Stewart.

“I also added a great many quotes that originated in other languages. So I would say the new edition has a more international scope,” says O’Brien, an author and critic and editor in chief of the Library of America, which publishes hardcover volumes of canonical American authors.

Little, Brown and Company hopes the new Bartlett’s will appeal both as an old-fashioned coffee table hardcover, some 1,400 pages, and as an ultra-portable digital reference guide. Instead of releasing an e-book edition, the publisher has developed an app that does not simply replicate the printed book, but makes it ideal for digital devices and easy to share on Facebook or Twitter.

Dozens of employees spent months working on the app, according to Brian Singh, mobile analyst for Little, Brown’s parent company, Hachette Book Group. Some 20,000 quotations were categorized so those looking for a quick quote – say a love poem for a wedding speech – could simply search the word “love.” The app costs $3.99 and does not include any extra material, but it does have a digital feature, Quoto, which allows users to take a favorite citation, set it against a backdrop of choice and post it online.

For the hardcover, O’Brien said he removed some old poetry and forgotten phrases to make room for about 2,500 new quotes, including several from the Iraq War. Among them are President George W. Bush’s call to “Bring ’em on” in response to possible uprisings from insurgents and his declaration that he was the “the decider.” The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines is mentioned for her on-stage remark that she was “ashamed” Bush was from Texas, as is Moore’s Academy Award acceptance speech when he criticized the war and called Bush a “fictitious president.”

Seven Obama quotations are listed, from his campaign slogan “Yes, we can!” to his announcement that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden. Palin’s entry includes the quip from her speech at the 2008 Republican convention that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was “lipstick.” Job’s dying words, “Wow, oh wow,” are among four citations for the late Apple CEO, including a 1987 comment that “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”

Others in Bartlett’s for the first time: Christopher Hitchens (“Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake”); David Foster Wallace (“Make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us”), Stewart (his nightly signoff, “Here it is … your moment of Zen”), Timberlake (his apology for Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show).

Barlett’s is home to polished aphorisms and unintentional history: Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”; Oscar winner’s Sally Field’s cry that “You like me!”; Obama’s comments at a private fundraiser that some rural residents “cling to guns or religion.” Some quotes originate from tragedy: Rodney King’s plea, “Can we all get along?”, as Los Angeles burned during the 1992 riots; Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer calling out “Let’s roll” as he led an uprising against Sept. 11, 2001 hijackers.

The credentials for Bartlett’s are admittedly arbitrary: Space concerns, individual tastes and the uncertain definition of the word “familiar” make the book an invaluable excuse for an argument.

Larry David is in, but not Aaron Sorkin; P.J. O’Rourke, not Maureen Dowd; Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin, not George Carlin or Richard Pryor. The many expressions popularized on “Saturday Night Live,” from “Talk amongst yourselves” to “Well, excuuuuuse me!” were not mentioned. Among novelists, Richard Powers is in, but not Jonathan Franzen; Colson Whitehead, not Michael Chabon.

“I am sure that twelve different well-informed people would come up with twelve different lists of people (and more importantly of specific quotations) left out, and I am sure some of these will be strong candidates for inclusion in the next edition,” O’Brien said.

Among songwriting entries, excerpts appear from Lou Reed’s lyrics for “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Heroin,” but not from the more famous “Walk On the Wild Side.” The Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No” gets a mention, but not such anthems as “Surfin’ U.S.A.” and “Good Vibrations.” Kurt Cobain’s entry omits “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in favor of “Stay Away” and “Serve the Servants.”

For movies, two quotes are included from Robert Towne’s “Chinatown” screenplay, but not the immortal closing line, “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.” One of just two entries for Nora Ephron is “I’ll have what she’s having,” the joke from “When Harry Met Sally …” that is widely credited to Billy Crystal. Among the favorites left out: “Well, nobody’s perfect,” the kicker from “Some Like it Hot”; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator” catchphrase “I’ll be back”; the courtroom explosion “You can’t handle the truth!” from “A Few Good Men.”

“Certain lines strike me as ‘familiar for being familiar’ – ‘You can’t handle the truth’ being one of them, as I can see little originality or singularity in it,” O’Brien said. “The price of compactness is a certain amount of arbitrary exclusion.”