Sunday, January 23, 2005

TV: Ultimate Film Fanatic

If you didn’t watch my appearance on IFC’s game show ... what’s the matter with you? It airs again Tuesday night at 10:30 PM Eastern, 7:30 and 10:30 Pacific.

I said in the comments below that I’d write about it after the repeat aired. There are game show police, after all, and I don’t want to tick them off. Then I figured what the hell. The best way to hang on to new readers is with fresh material. Let’s see if I can do this without getting on anyone’s bad side.

Bearing in mind that I have no objectivity on this score, this episode of UFF was the best one I’ve seen. The trivia rounds were hard fought, with some difficult questions. A few of them went to me. (BRIDE OF CHUCKY? My longtime crush on Jennifer Tilly finally pays off.) I squared off against the estimable Tom Tangney, film critic for Seattle’s KIRO radio. The man hides devastating cinematic knowledge behind a devil-may-care grin. His fine reviews can be enjoyed here.

The debates were also solid, because they were actual debates. Having each contestant offer their choice for best sex scene (RISKY BUSINESS vs. DESPERADO), which happened in the previous show, is a disagreement. A debate is one issue, pro vs. con. And for the record, the best sex scene is in DON’T LOOK NOW, closely followed by BOUND. Jennifer Tilly again.

I’ve been asked more than once about what my final obsession item in the last round would have been. Here’s your answer: a replica of the statue from THE MALTESE FALCON which Rosemarie gave me the morning we got married. It was the only gift I received that day, and she chose it because it was our love for old movies and Bogart films in particular that brought us together.

Cute story, isn’t it? In a rehearsal for the producers, I made two production assistants tear up. Celebrity judge Tatum O’Neal would have loved it.

Tony Kay, my indomitable opponent, would have presented a publicity still from 1975’s THE DEVIL’S RAIN. In the photo, a nearly naked William Shatner is lashed to a table.

The photo is autographed. By Shatner. To Tony and his wife Rita.

The tale of Shatner’s reaction to the photo and his decision to sign it – delivered with Tony’s flawless Shatner imitation – would have trumped the Falcon any day of the week. Even with Tatum on my side.

On the whole, I’m thrilled with how the show came out. I went down swinging, I got to plug the website on national TV, and by all accounts my hair looked sharp, which in the end is all that matters.

Best of all, I had the opportunity to meet my fellow contestants, all of whom love movies as much as I do. The film references flowed during those days. I came home feeling drunk. As Bob B., one of the Seattle Six, said as we parted company in the airport, “Usually you get beaten up for talking like this.” Instead, we got paid, and made new friends into the bargain. What could be better?