Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's that "It's a Wonderful Life" time again

Time was in the nineties when two or three local networks (usually on UHF) aired this Capra classic b&w on Christmas eve like they do in the US. It stopped after a couple of years or so which was too bad. For a while there it seemed we had our own TV tradition in the making.

This month, you can catch the colorized version (gasp!) on Cinemax December 29 and that's about it. Of course, there's bound to be a DVD copy of this in your favorite tiangge. But in this age of broadband, the default it appears is to Torrent it. Any which way you get it, it's well worth the trouble.

Speaking of, it was once believed that the film lost its copyright protection in the 70s when the holders failed to extend it. Several US networks then started airing it multiple times during the holidays at no cost to them (reviving public interest in the process as Ebert observed in a 1999 article on his site.) But even granting that the film itself fell out of copyright protection, it was not thrown into the public domain, the legal theory being that the film is a mere derivative of still copyrighted (and thus protected) works. It appears this is indeed the case as the multi-network marathon broadcasts are no more and NBC is the only one now authorized to play it.

It is also believed (by me at least and until now notwithstanding claims to the contrary) that Ernie and Bert of Sesame Street were named after the movie's Ernie the cab driver and Bert the policeman. Before the days of Google or the internet for that matter, I would interject this as fact in any conversation where this movie came up and everyone would nod at the plausibility. It appears though that this theory is being debunked of late.

I also believed that "Zuzu's Petals" would be a great name for a band, certainly better than Feet Like Fins or Datu's Tribe or Agaw Agimat or Kelt's Cross which you felt alluded to something of substance, but really did not. It appears though that a bunch of sorry-looking debs has beat me to it. They never had a hit in the musical sense but the Zuzu's Petals homepage is a Google topper.

Speaking of, Zuzu is alive and well and doing the fan circuit. Tragic as movie careers go but it's not as bad as it sounds. Having lived one that's had more downs than ups, she still finds life "a wonderful gift". We should all be so lucky.

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