'Secret Scouts and the Lost Leonardo': YA Novel for All Ages About Dutch Kids in King da Vinci's Court
Interest in the hot-off-the-presses YA novel Secret Scouts and the Lost Leonardo originates with a hope of being among the first to discover the next Harry Potter caliber book series, This inaugural outing for Dutch sisters Lisa and Sophie and the bros next door Jack and Tom does not seem to be quite that captivating. However authors/parents Dennis and Wendel Kind tell a fascinating tale that lacks any dull moments. They additional offer proof that European and North American tweens generally talk, think, and act alike.
The following YouTube clip of the trailer for Leonardo both demonstrates a clever marketing technique for a book and provides a strong sense of the fun and adventure that awaits readers of all ages. One disclaimer is that some depicted scenes get cut from the novel.
The adventure begins with a crazy ermine lady neighbor giving the girls an old sketch that this woman acquires from the former occupant of the house where the sisters live with their mother and their art historian father. The girls and their buds then enter the forbidden territory of the study of the father of the girls, Horseplay by the boys leads to discovering a secret room behind a study bookcase. The treasures within include an old notebook.
Our young detectives soon correctly suspect that both the sketch and the book are the work of the titular Renaissance man; they next determine how to combine the discovered fruits of his labor to pay him a visit. This leads to these meddling kids both literally and figuratively having a hand in real-life work of da Vinci. These incidents explaining some mysteries regarding that work keeps things interesting in the context of a art-history lesson.
The manner in which the quartet reasons out things and get adults to provide necessary information is amusing to readers with secondary sexual characteristics and should allow younger readers to fantasize about being in the shoes of these adventurers. This fun includes a serious discussion about the need to appropriately dress for their journey and how to make sure that they arrive at the right place at the right time.
Speaking of journeys, getting there is more than half the fun this time,. The girls coincidentally going to Paris and visit the Louvre soon after acquiring their treasure trove helps them put the pieces together. We also get a teacher being duped into believing that he merely is quenching a thirst for knowledge.
All of this ends on a cliffhanger that relates to a period that likely seems to be as ancient as fifteenth-century Italy to the Millennials but is the not-so-distant past to those of us who can legally drink.
A glimpse of the future reveals that the next adventure for the scouts involves events that some will consider an obamanation.
'Styling the Stars' Co-Author Tom McLaren Show How Love of Mom Behind Book Verifies Makes Perfect Mother's Day Gift
A friendship with rising star Tom McLaren playing a role (pun intended) regarding reviewing the April 4 2017 soft-cover release of Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive, which is a joint labor of love by McLaren and "Lost in Space" and "Sound of Music" star Angela Cartwright, is very apt. The roughly 20-year friendship between McLaren and Cartwright is behind the latter calling the former to propose ala Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney putting on a show that they co-author Styling.
The Nelson/McLaren friendship dates back to the former reviewing the June 2016 DVD release of the comedy "All-American Bikini Car Wash" in which McLaren does a great job as the (non-balding) Mr. Belding to a group of "Saved by the Bell" clone college kids in Las Vegas. The traditional first-year anniversary gift being paper makes receiving a press copy of Styling from publisher Insight Editions a few weeks ago even more apt.
The Midwest boy in Tom likely likes the humor in stating that he and I are of one mind and that I currently am using it to write this article. That fly-over sensibility also relates to both of us being loving parents to rescue cats.
Another basis for a friendship with McLaren is being co-members of what he describes as the "afternoon TV reruns generation." We both have fond memories of spending the period between school and dinner watching classic "unreal TV" fare from the '60s and the '70s.
McLaren further shares fond memories of the films from the Golden Age of Hollywood that spans from the '30s to the '60s. We both recall watching these movies primarily on sick days and during the weekends back in the dark days before cable television (and even remotes).
As shown below, Styling is a dream come true for McLaren in that it perfectly combines his love of "TV Land" shows and Hollywood classics. Also as shown below, the book being a memorial to his deceased parents makes it that much more special.
When Tom Met Angela
The aforementioned high regard for the best of the escapist fare on the small screen by McLaren included strong adoration for his "hands down" favorite "Space." Like many boys for whom astronaut powder-drink mix Tang was a treat, McLaren shared that that show was his favorite to the extent that he fantasized about being boy hero Will Robinson. He stated as well that Carwright's girl genius character Penny was another idol.
This love of the show prompted new Los Angeles resident McLaren to attend "Space" events at which Cartwright appeared. Casual conversations around the time of the 1998 release of the "Space" movie led to art gallery curator Cartwright inviting McLaren and his spouse Mary to attend an exhibit at the gallery. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The aforementioned Gen X fanboys can only fantasize about McLaren being able to causally text Cartwright about grabbing a coffee; his friendships with Will portrayor Bill Mumy and "Space" co-star Marta Kristen make us want to be him.
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Cartwright doing research in the Fox archives for photos of her and her "Music" co-stars for the 2011 book The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook provided the genesis for Styling. While there, she discovered boxes and boxes of photos from movies and movies in a room that McLaren described in a manner that evoked thoughts of the warehouse in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." His description that "most of it hasn't been touched for decades, maybe not ever" enhanced that vibe.
That treasure trove of continuity photos that McLaren described in our talk as "pristine little treasures by themselves" prompted Cartwright to contact former Warner Brothers executive McLaren about collaborating on Styling.
The beauty (pun intended) of the Cartwright/McLaren partnership was that this dynamic duo came to the table with a shared love and knowledge of classic films. Cartwright also brought her artistic talent for evaluating things such as composition and lighting, and McLaren put his career-related project management skills to good use. His apt Hollywood-style description of that perfection was that "the stars were magically aligned."
The aforementioned Unreal TV article on Styling includes an overview of the nature of the photos. A thumbnail of that portrait is that Fox had those images taken ONLY to help ensure that the appearance of the portrayed character remained constant throughout a scene. A simplified hypothetical example was the director looking at a photo of a man wearing a button-down shirt to ensure that editing footage from two separate days of shooting did not result in the man mysteriously going from having only the top button unbuttoned to having the second button open as well.
The rest of the story was that the availability of these genuine works of art by professional photographers would have been limited to an occasional image on a DVD or Blu-ray release of a film if not for those meddling kids Cartwright and McLaren.
Tribute to Mom and Dad
McLaren further shared that his childhood love of movies provided only part of his motivation for the literal sweat and the figurative blood and tears that he devoted to the project. He wanted to honor his parents by ensuring that the wish list that he and Cartwright prepared to guide their search of the archives (which were organized by film) included as many favorite films and stars of his parents as possible.
The awesome result that gave the McLarens even more reason to be proud of their boy was that he and Cartwright succeeded in getting virtually every desired star into the book. Betty Grable was a standout among that group. Gene Tierney and Robert Mitchum being favorites of the father of McLaren got those stars onto the pages of Styling.
The next step of the process required that Cartwright and McLaren don "little white gloves" and look at the negatives of the photos through "a little light box."
McLaren stated that we wanted to be sure that the initial wishlist of stars and films that guided the process included favorites of both he and Cartwright. The Fox archivist would then give "Judy" and "Mickey" the boxes that contained the photos from the requested films.
The 1958 film "In Love and War" was a perfect example of both the motivation and the approach of McLaren and Cartwright. One reason that they included the film was because it was the first film in which Cartwright sibling Veronica appeared. McLaren noted as well that no one had looked at the continuity pictures for that film for decades.
Enthusiasm related to another child star was expressed by stating "Shirley Temple is Fox of the '30s. She had to be (AND IS) there." A chosen picture of Temple combing her famous curls in one of the few that is not from a film. The other Styling images of this littlest rebel are from her movies.
The photos never being meant for public consumption intentionally sets Styling apart from the large number of coffee table books of its ilk. This is very obvious just from looking at the cover. The clear blonde fuzz on the face of Marilyn Munroe, who is considering one of the all-time great Hollywood beauties, demonstrates that these image was not taken for press releases.
On a related note, many of the chosen photos reflected the true personality of the subject. McLaren directed your not-so-humble reviewer to the "Young Lions" in the book for examples of this. These include Sidney Poitier looking very relaxed and happy on the set of the 1950 film "No Way Out."
The guiding principle related to this topic was that Cartwright and McLaren insisted that any photo used not have been retouched. This related to the oft-mentioned emphasis on authenticity in the book.
The fact that the information provided above only is roughly 70-percent of what McLaren shared in our conversation made it into this lengthy article provides a sense of the tremendous effort that he and Cartwright devoted to Styling. He concisely expressed this as "the book was very complicated to bring to print. It is amazing we got it out."
These comments were in the context of producing a documentary on Styling itself and on the making of it. One can only hope to see such a film hit art-house screens sometime in 2019 or 2020.
'Styling the Stars': Old Hollywood Angela "Penny" Cartwright and New Hollywood Tom "Phil" McLaren Share Best Golden and Silver Age Fox Images
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unreal TV has interviewed Styling co-author Tom McLaren.]
Insight Editions chose wisely in releasing the soft cover edition of the book Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive on April 4, 2017. This was two days before the start of the Eighth Annual TCM Classic Film Festival, which celebrated both the magic that was the Golden Age of Hollywood and the following period in which "the kids" demonstrated that they paid attention to their elders.
This also coincided with Unreal TV amping up its Old Hollywood game by writing about a stay in a luxury suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, reviewing the documentary "Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen.," and resuming a beautiful friendship with Warner Archive.
The following YouTube clip of a promo. for Styling includes images of personal favorite photos in the book. It also has the authors express the enthusiasm that comes through loud and clear in their work.
Styling is the true gen in that it is an actual labor of love by co-authors/thespians Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren. Children of the '50s (and lovers of classic sitcoms) primarily know Cartwright as Linda from the Danny Thomas series "Make Room for Daddy." Fanboys of all ages always will think of her as Penny from the truly timeless scifi show "Lost in Space," and little girls and lovers of classic musicals remember her as Brigitta from "The Sound of Music." (Not bad credits for a period that precedes even being able to get a learner's permit.)
McLaren is a former studio executive who deserves great thanks for deciding that his quirky sense of humor is better suited to a life in front of the camera than a corner office in the administration building. Nothing reflects the New Hollywood style of McLaren more than one of the more high-profile roles among his 49 credits in his five-year career being a huge hit on Netflix. Anyone who is too young to remember the days before the existence of Netflix likely best knows McLaren as Phil the dad in the comedy "Expelled" with teen idol Cameron Dallas.
As the introduction by Cartwright states, Styling begins life as a limited project. This initial terrestrial exploration uncovers evidence that Twentieth Century Fox has a massive collection of continuity shots that Cartwright explains are solely intended for internal use. The purpose of these photos by studio photographers is to document the appearance of the actor to guarantee continuity regarding the "camera-ready" hair, makeup, and wardrobe appearance of the portrayed character. Cartwright offers the example of the manner in which a mask is tied quickly changing from one shot to the next due to footage of that scene being shot on different days.
Cartwright further shares that some actors purposefully sabotage their continuity photos to prevent their distribution to the general public. This mischief often involves making a face or holding an object such as a hairbrush in the shot.
It is even cooler that Cartwright comments that the actors figuratively (but not literally) letting down their hair in these photos reflects the true personality of the stars. A great example is a photo in which "Space" co-star Bill Mumy, who provides a fun essay for Styling, has his trademark bemused smile on his face.
One thing that Cartwright does not mention is that the eyes distinguish her and the other greats in the book from folks who merely are stars, rather than actors. The true members of Hollywood royalty are very expressive.
In apt Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney fashion, discovering that Fox has such a treasure trove of thees images prompts Cartwright to approach pal McLaren about creating the book. Not being a fool, McLaren accepts.
Picking favorites from the roughly 250 images in Styling is much harder than asking which sibling is the favorite. (We all know that parents have one.) The best criteria is the portraits that elicit the strongest initial response. The award for this one goes to a photo of a 23 year-old Robert Wagner doing his best James Dean (pre-Dean stardom) in a photo for a 1953 version of "Titanic."
The Wagner photo also is notable for being associated with a particularly good essay on the related film that Cartwright and McLaren include with most of the pictures.
Other notable images include a diminutive wardrobe employee standing on a suitcase to adjust a tie on the much taller Gregory Peck, photos of the elaborate "Cleopatra" costumes, and Audrey Hepburn looking very much like Audrey Hepburn in a shot for the 1966 film "How to Steal a Million."
Especially fascinating "insight" relates to the manner in which "Space" producer Irwin Allen films the big-budget disaster film "The Poseidon Adventure." Reading about the wardrobe malfunctions in that one offers a great perspective on the film.
A combined desire to not further ruin the joy of discovering Styling and to not make this article as long as that book requires resorting to the small screen practice of encouraging readers to learn more about this work of art (and love) by purchasing it. Folks who attend the TCM festival every year and/or can recite the year and the studio of most movies made between the '20s and the '60s will find the hardcover version a good investment.
'Run, Holly, Run!' Memoir: True Hollywood (and Beyond) Story of 'Land of the Lost' Star Kathy Coleman
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing provides children of the '70s a dinomite treat in publishing "Run, Holly, Run!," which is the memoir of "The Land of the Lost" star Kathy Coleman. This compelling tale of childhood stardom and related family drama, post-fame ups and downs, and apt survival story hits real and virtual shelves on May 9 2017.
For the benefit of folks unversed in the awesomeness of '70s-era Saturday morning television, "Land" is a groovy 1974-77 Sid and Marty Krofft live-action series. The show initially centers around Park Ranger Rick Marshall, who is enjoying the most famous "routine (rafting) expedition" when "the greatest earthquake ever known" plummets Marshall and his teen offspring Holly and Will into the titular prehistoric creatures laden area.Coleman plays wholesome tomboy Holly.
This literal cradle-to-present auto-biography begins with the February 18, 1962 birth of our survivor. We quickly learn that she still is the youngest of her 10 siblings and is associated with a touch of conceivable scandal. This coverage of her early life additionally includes a passage that is a reasonable and gracious version of the "Don't call me Ricky" incident involving former child star Rick Schroder roughly a decade after his '80s-era "Silver Spoon" fame.
Consistent with the armchair psychology in a May 2015 Unreal TV post on the psyche of child stars, Coleman soon becomes a young performer who is the sole breadwinner in her family. The associated costs include pressure to keep getting cast, dealing with truly the mother of all stage moms, and contending with the responses of the other kids when she attends a traditional school.
A personal favorite story from the entire book is Coleman sharing the glee of her and the other children in a commercial when their adult co-stars start cursing several takes into filming an advertisement for a product. This is so hilarious that your not-so-humble reviewer unconsciously mutters "f**king Cheez-its" under his breath on seeing two displays of that snack in a grocery store the day after reading the related experience of Coleman.
Another memorable pre "Lost" gig for Coleman has her being the youngest member of the "Up With People" style chorus "The Mike Curb Congregation." The memorable venues of the latter include Disneyland, which returns to haunt Coleman later in life.
Coleman delights fans of (tragically discontinued) Quisp cereal and (equally missed) "Schoolhouse Rock" in quickly getting to the topic of "Lost." Much of this relates to the prior friendship (and future "its complicated" relationship) between Coleman and co-star Phil Paley. Paley is the portrayor of friendly missing link ape-boy Cha-ka. The reported bond of these two relates to the co-child stars' adventures pulling pranks on the set and being the only students at the on-set school.
Having the privilege of interviewing Will portrayor/theme song performer Wesley Eure and maintaining correspondence with this righteous dude for a short period after that makes learning that he is an ideal big brother figure awesome. A highlight of this is learning of the playful on-set competition between Coleman and Eure. A fall-on-the-floor funny story revolves around Eure pouncing on Coleman.
Learning that Rick portrayor Spencer Milligan affirmatively fills a void in the life of fatherless Coleman is awesome for "Lost" fans. Discovering that the actor who plays the brother of Rick fills the role of creepy uncle is as distressing as learning that Milligan is as righteous as Eure is exciting.
The post "Lost" portion of "Run" is the stuff of which compelling primetime soaps (and page-turner Hollywood memoirs) is made. The adventures in the actual and figurative chapters that follow include Coleman having an upsetting initial sexual encounter that a second encounter that outwardly is the thing of which softcore porn is made but is endearing and special.
The adult life of Coleman includes marriages to two princes who turn out to ogres, having two outwardly and internally beautiful boys, working at fast food restaurants and discount stores to pay the bills, being homeless, and periods in which she does her best to drown her sorrows.
The award for best story in the entire book goes to a tale (no pun intended) of Coleman still being anxious after being rescued from her second husband deserting her (again, no pun intended) in the desert. Coleman being anxious after reaching a seeming safe place prompts her savior to dump a litter of puppies on her to relax her.
The final chapter in this saga that is one of the greatest adventures even known revolves an aptly (but sadly) lost documentary on a "Lost" cast reunion. The circumstances behind the filming and the possibility of seeing this holy grail to the aforementioned children of the '70s affirms the themes of "Run" that we must endure folks in our lives who are not so nice and that there always is hope for a happy ending.
The overall message of the tough life lessons that the adult Coleman learns is that money can be a blessing or a curse but never should be a priority in itself. She (like Holly) further demonstrates the importance of perseverance and a positive attitude.