The Crank: ‘An Evening of Celebrity-Centered Television, 1960s–1980s’ Program Notes (1/24/13 Screening)

The Crank is a graduate student organization that runs weekly screenings of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s extensive holdings. The Crank shows films that either are not widely available on video or are such spectacular specimens of nitrate and celluloid that merely to see them on a television set would be a crime both to the student of film and to the canon of film history.

30 Years of Celebrity Television

From its early marketing as a domestic appliance, television has been a medium and device used to bring the outside world into the home. A unique medium combining aspects of radio, theater, and film, television brought live images and performance within the private confines of the home. One of the ways in which television solidified its presence and importance within the American cultural landscape was through its use of established stars in its programming. However, as historian Christine Becker writes, rather than replicating theatrical filmmaking, stars were used in order to “serve the new medium’s unique industrial and cultural needs.”1 As the medium has evolved and expanded, so too have production values and programming trends. One theme that has remained consistent over time is a cultural interest in stardom and celebrity. Although there are numerous examples of radio and film stars working on television, tonight’s program highlights examples of non-fiction celebrity-centered programming from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Through these, we can see how formats for talking to and about celebrities have changed (or not). Ultimately, none of these programs were ever broadcast. However, all three of these pieces articulate the (d)evolution of celebrity culture as well as how celebrity was constructed for in-home consumption. Continue reading “The Crank: ‘An Evening of Celebrity-Centered Television, 1960s–1980s’ Program Notes (1/24/13 Screening)” »

The Mediascape Q&A: Stephen Mamber, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies

The Mediascape Q&A is a series of interviews designed to explore the work of UCLA faculty and graduate students beyond the classroom.

Dr. Stephen Mamber

Matthias Stork: Could you tell us about your academic background? Where did you go to school and what first drew you to studying media, specifically film?

Stephen Mamber: I was an undergraduate at Berkley, where I had a double major in Math and Drama because there wasn’t a film program there yet, but I took a class from Ernest Callenbach, who was the editor of Film Quarterly at the time, and that really affected me greatly. And it occurred to me somewhere in my junior year that film might be something to actually be able to study. I came down here to Los Angeles that summer and took a couple of classes from Howard Suber, and that really struck a chord with me. And from then on I knew I wanted to study film. My timing was good, I guess. This was the late ’60s, early ’70s, and I came down here for my master’s degree and fell in with some interesting people. One of my best friends while I was a graduate student was Paul Schrader, who was a year ahead of me. We went to the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Film Studies. He was in the first-year group of fellows. It was a different kind of place back then. It was at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills and they took 10 people every year. In the second year, partly through his encouragement, I applied and got in. So I was in the group that included Terry Malick and David Lynch and various other people who turned out to be very talented filmmakers. It was an amazing experience then too because they were bringing in every great filmmaker you could imagine. One week it would be Rossellini and the next week it would be Jack Benny, the week after it’d be Alfred Hitchcock, it was like every major name. So I just thought this was heaven and this was what I wanted to do. Continue reading “The Mediascape Q&A: Stephen Mamber, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies” »