Wow. It was a great night at Sid Graumann's Hollywood Egyptian last night for the LA premiere of Randy Olsen's documentary on Intelligent Design- Flock of Dodos. The halls that once rang with the voices of Chaplin and Garbo now had dancing Dodos and fundamentalist school board members clashing with Harvard biologists.
Filmmaker Randy Olsen and me

The theater was packed and I saw a lot of old friends from the American Cinemateque. Randy had me up on stage with him, his producers and his mom, the indominatable Muffy Moose. He was generous in his thanks to me for the animation I did for the film. Dodo's was well received and there was a good Q&A afterwards. This kicks off a series of screenings nationwide in colleges to mark DARWIN DAY on Monday, the 198th birthday of Charles Darwin.

Dodos,Darwin and me. Click to enlarge

Randy leaves to show the film tomorrow in Seattle, where the Discovery Institute is headquartered. They are the leading conservative funding organization dedicated to propagating the teaching of Intelligent Design over Evolution. They've already sent out press releases attacking the film. Randy will be back and we'll do another screening and panel at USC on Sat.
Flock of Dodos will air on SHOWTIME in May.

Birthdays: St. Thomas Moore, Eubie Blake, Sinclair Lewis, Larry "Buster" Crabbe, Laura Ingalls Wilder writer of Little House on the Prairie, Gay Talese, GI-Joe (the toy), James Spader is 47, Chris Rock is 42, Eddie Izzard is 45, Ashton Kutcher is 29

1910- The Town of Hollywood annexed into the City of Los Angeles.

1940- Disney's classic "Pinnochio" opened nationwide.

1960- JFK PARTYS WITH THE RATPACK-Before he created the Peace Corps and Camelot, presidential candidate John Kennedy needed to relax and raise some hell. So in total secret he helicoptered down to Las Vegas and spent this night at the Sands Hotel with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and his brother in law, actor Peter Lawford. These men were famous for their all-night Rat Pack parties, heavy drinking, party girls, poker and more. Sinatra introduced Kennedy to a party girl named Judith Cambell Exner, who would claim JFK as a lover at the same time as she was sleeping with Sam Momo Giancana, the don of the Chicago Mafia. In the wee dawn hours Kennedy slipped away to continue his race for the White House.

1964- THE BRITISH ROCK INVASION BEGAN. Thousands of screaming fans welcome THE BEATLES to New York for their first U.S. Tour. The last music out of England to be taken seriously by Americans was the Lambeth Walk, now the UK announced itself as a powerhouse of rock & roll. For a Brit to do Rock & Roll in America was as audacious as an American reciting Shakespeare in Stratford, but the welcome for the Beatles was so overwhelming that other bands like the Rolling Stones and Herman’s Hermits soon followed. Local New York disc jockeys Cousin Brucie and Murray the K wiggled to the front of the crowds and got a national audience by following the young musicians around. The crowds of teenagers were so excited they mobbed a Rolls Royce in front of the Warwick Hotel where the Beatles were staying just because they figured a Rolls Royce would be something they drove in. They actually used taxicabs.

The word is in, and Leonard Maltin has written a wonderful review of Drawing the Line! Check it out-
I'm jes' all twitterpated!

Birthdays: Christopher Marlowe, Eva Braun, Ronald Reagan, Francois Truffaut, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Babe Ruth, Elias Disney- Walt’s dad, Bob Marley, Rip Torn,Robert Townsend, Mike Farrell,Tom Brokaw, Mike Maltese, Haskel Wexler, Axel Rose, Patrick McKnee- Mr Steed of the Avengers

1857- The first Perforated Postage Stamp.

1926- Georgia born former minstrel show hoofer Oliver Hardy signed a contract with the Hal Roach Studios to appear in short comedies, usually as a villain. Next year director Leo McCarey teamed the rotund Hardy with skinny Scottish comedian Stan Laurel and a legendary team was born- Laurel & Hardy.

1935- The board game Monopoly is announced by Parker Brothers. The prototype monopoly board was created on a round oilcloth and had street names derived from Atlantic City NJ. It now is in the toy collection of Forbes Magazine in New York.

1935- BOXERS OR BRIEFS? Arthur Kneibler patented the men’s underwear brief. He got the idea looking at Frenchmen’s bathing suits on the Riviera and called them Jockey’s.

1937- John Steinbecks novel “Of Mice and Men” published. A result Mr Steinbeck probably didn’t anticipate was the stereotype image of Lenny, a mildly retarded man as the big dumb sidekick animation cartoonists used so often “Duh, tell me about da rabbits, George.”

1943-“GET ME GEISLER!” Actor Errol Flynn was acquitted of two counts of sex with adolescents. The two girls who brought the charges had actually tried this shakedown with other celebrities. They weren't exactly adolescents despite testifying in court with pigtails and a lollypop. Flynn hired lawyer to the stars Jerry Geisler and he slowly took the girls story apart. Geisler discovered one girl had a prior conviction for 'public lewdness' and the other had had an abortion which then was illegal. So Flynn got off- literally. Flynn had just finished a film called "Gentleman Jim" and at the end of the film when he says to Alexis Smith:"I never said I was a Gentleman." Peals of knowing laughter rang out from audiences. This is also the time the slang term for living it up was coined- to be “In Like Flynn”.

1952- Chainsmoking King George VI died at 56 of lung cancer. Princess Elizabeth found herself queen at 27 years old.

1985- Steve Wozniak, the young engineer who started Apple Computer with Steve Jobs in his garage, resigned from the company. He preferred to be an engineer and teach children to running a corporation.

Congrads out to my old USC student Shi-Ting, whose animation is in the newest Nora Jones video!

Also a big congrads to my UCLA grad and webmeister Josh Morgan, who is in Luxembourg doing TD work on the feature length version of the award winning short 9.

My wife Pat is working at Dreamworks on the Jerry Seinfeld Bee-Movie. While there she ran into another one of my old students now doing lighting there. David Lawson. He was part of my original Guinea-Pig class eleven years ago.

Glad to hear they are all doing so well!
I feel like Richard Dreyfus in Mr Holland's Opus- blubber, blubber...sniffle sniffle!

Birthdays: Sir Robert Peel founder of London’s police force- the Bobbies, Female outlaw Belle Starr, John Carradine, William Burroughs, Arthur Ochs Schulzburger, Hank Aaron is 74 ,Red Buttons, Tim Holt, Jennifer Jason Leigh is 46, Barbera Hershey, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Mann, Bobby Brown, H. R. Giger, Christopher Guest, Laura Linney is 43

2BC -The Roman Emperor Octavian Caesar was given by the Senate the title Father of His Country- Pater-Patria or the Augustus.

1919- Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith form the United Artists Studio.

1921- The Loews State Theater in Chicago opened.

1922- The Reader’s Digest began publication.

1936-THE BATTLE OF JARAMA - Spanish General Franco’s Fascist army was thrown back from the gates of Madrid by the Republic’s newly arrived foreign volunteers, called the International Brigades. The idealistic young Europeans and Americans (the Abraham Lincoln Brigade) were thrown into the battle with no training as they had just arrived. They suffered 50% casualties but won the day.(to put it in perspective, if an army lost 20% of it’s men that is considered a terrible calamity.)The Yanks sang a tune to Popeye the Sailor Man:
"In a green little vale called Jarama, We made all the fascists cry "Mama!; we fight for our pay, just six cents a day, and play football with a bomb-a "

1936- Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times premiered. Chaplin was inspired to lampoon modern technological madness when he was invited to view the auto assembly production lines in Detroit and saw men acting like machines.

1952-New York City is the first to adopt the three light traffic lights-red, yellow, green.

1953- Walt Disney’s "Peter Pan" opened.

1956- Darryl Zanuck resigned from 20th Century Fox, the studio he built into a powerhouse. He later won back the chairmanship in 1962 only to be ousted finally in 1970.

1957- Mel Lazarus’ comic strip Miss Peach debuted.

1970- TWA began 747 nonstop service between New York and Los Angeles.

1974- Hearst Media heiress Patty Hearst kidnapped at gunpoint by an underground radical group called the Symbianese Liberation Army. She is kept in a closet, brainwashed, changes her name to Tania, does prison time for a bank job, and later appears in several John Water’s movies.

February 4th, 2007 sunday
February 4th, 2007

Birthdays: Francois Rabelais, Big Bill Haywood, Fernand Leger', Charles Lindbergh, the Agha Khan, Betty Friedan, Rosa Parks, Alice Cooper, Dan Quayle, Ida Lupino, Conrad Bain,George Romero, Lisa Eichhorn, Oscar De La Hoya, Clyde Tumbaugh - the amateur astronomer who discovered the planet Pluto in 1930.

1703- THE 47 RONIN- A Japanese story that has inspired hundreds of play novels and films.The Lord of Ako, Asano Nagori quarreled with Kiru, the chief of protocol for the Shogun and struck at him with his sword. To attack a representative of the Shogun was an insult no matter how justified so Nagori was ordered to commit suicide (seppuku) and his samurai declared Ronin, or discharged freelancers. The Ronin banded together to plan their revenge. They ambushed Kiru and placed his severed head on the grave of their master. Then they sat in his house to quietly await judgement. After consulting several Shinto bishops the Shogun could see no dishonor in what they did, so instead of executing them as criminals on this day they were allowed to all commit suicide, which they all did unquestioningly. Their gravesite is a popular shrine in Japan today and an example of spotless dedication to duty.

1826- James Fenimore Cooper’s novel “The Last of the Mohicans” was published. The character of wild frontiersman Natty Bumpo called Hawkeye has been referred to as the first American superhero.

1961- United Artists released the Misfits, the last film of stars Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. John Huston directed and Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay. The film flopped in its initial run but has since gained classic status.

1968- Old beatnik Neal Cassady was found dead in Mexico. Cassady was not an intellectual but his wild non-conformist lifestyle was the inspiration for his companion author Jack Kerouac to write his greatest novel " On the Road'. While Kerouac disliked hippie kids Cassady in 1967 drove the first Hippie Bus filled with LSD advocates like Ken Kesey. Jacques Kerouac also died in the same year 1968 of advanced alcoholism.

1983- Pop singer Karen Carpenter died of anorexia-nervosa. She was 32 and only weighed 77 pounds. Her death brought to national prominence how the social pressure to stay thin could lead to this deadly condition.

2003-Legendary rock and roll producer Phil Spector allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend B-Movie actress Lana Clarkson at his LA mansion. Spector created the Wall of Sound concert technique and produced for the Beatles among many others. Clarkson was the Barbarian Queen and appeared in Scarface and Fast Times At Ridgemont High. The few days before, Phil Spector said to the British Daily Telegraph, "I don't know, genetically, whether or not that had something to do with what I am or who I became. I would say I'm probably relatively insane, to an extent. I take medication for schizophrenia, but I wouldn't say I'm schizophrenic. I have a bipolar personality, which is strange.”

Birthdays- French King Charles VI the Mad –1380, Felix Mendelson, Horace Greely, Gideon Mantell 1790-pioneer British fossil hunter that named the Iguanadon, Pretty Boy Floyd, Gertrude Stein, illustrator Norman Rockwell, James A. Michener, Joey Bishop, Shelley Berman, Victor Buono-King Tut on the Batman TV show, Blythe Danner, Morgan Fairchild is 57, Nathan Lane is 51

1862- President Lincoln received a message from the King of Siam offering him Siamese war elephants to help him win the Civil War. He politely passed on the offer.

1889-THE BANDIT QUEEN- Today outlaw Belle Starr was shotgunned out of the saddle by an old boyfriend. She usually shot them first. Originally named Myra Belle Shirley, she pursued a career as an outlaw and had two children, one by Cole Younger, another by a member of the James Gang. Rustler, gunfighter, prostitute, sideshow performer-she said: "Let's just say I'm a woman who's seen a lot of the world."

1913- Federal Income Tax Amendment ratified.

1920- The play Beyond the Horizon premiered. The first hit of a young man who tried to drink himself to death, but instead became a playwright- Eugene O’Neill.

1930- Roy Disney signed a deal with M. George Borgfeldt Co. of New York to sell figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disney merchandising is born! The first Mickey dolls were made one by one by the mother of Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett.

1945- Walt Disney’s the Three Caballeros premiered.

1948- The first Cadillac’s with big rear tail fins were produced.

1953- Jacques Cousteau, inventor of the Aqua Lung published the Silent World, and later made a film version of the book with Louis Malle.

1959-"The Day the Music Died" The first Rock & Roll tragedy. Top pop stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson died in plane crash. They were on tour and Holly chartered the small plane so they could get to Fargo, North Dakota in time to get his shirts cleaned. Waylon Jennings was supposed to join them, but he gave up his seat to Richardson because Richardson was running a fever and didn’t want a long cold bus ride. As they left Richardson teased Jennings:” Hope your bus doesn’t freeze.” And Jennings joked:” Hope your plane doesn’t crash.” The plane was called the American Pie, which inspired a Don McClean’s hit song “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie.”

1962- John F. Kennedy signed the trade embargo act against Cuba, banning all trade with Fidel Castro’s regime. White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger recalled how the night before JFK had him go around Washington DC and buy up all the Havana cigars (Monte Cristos) he could for the White House humidor. It’s still in effect today.

1973- Richard Nixon, the last liberal US President (?), signed the Endangered Species Act into law.

1989- Swiss firm L'Oreal/Nestle bought animation studio Filmation from Westinghouse and shut it down laying off 229 artists the day before a new federal regulation requiring a company give it's employees 60 day notice before closing went into effect. Filmation created the HeMan, ShreRa and Fat Albert TV shows. The last company doing all phases of Saturday morning children's cartoons in America disappears.