Though interviews have sort of dominated my content lately (and hopefully you have been enjoying those as much as I have), I still want to take time to recognize noteworthy moments in 80s pop culture history whenever possible. For whatever reason, I have always preferred the taste of Pepsi cola over Coke. But there were a couple years in the mid-80s where I was all about Coke. Most people might remember that New Coke was introduced in 1985, but it was also the year that Cherry Coke was brought to market. Instead of focusing on the whole New Coke/Coca-Cola Classic situation from that same year, we acknowledge the 30 year anniversary of Cherry Coke.
I am not old enough to have gone to drugstores or soda shops as a kid to buy soda, but even before the real Cherry Coke was made available, my Mom would add maraschino cherry juice to regular cola to recreate the old soda fountain drink. My brother and I would enjoy those concoctions and think they were quite special. Then in 1985, Cherry Coke became available pre-mixed in a can. It premiered in February 1985 in select U.S. cities before rolling out nationwide that summer. It used cherry flavoring instead of cherry juice/syrup, but that worked just fine for me. By the summer of 1985 Cherry Coke was outrageous...
The launch followed several years of research and development. Coca-Cola had been experimenting with vanilla, lemon and lime cola-based drinks, but cherry emerged as the clear favorite during consumer testing at the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair. The new Cherry Coke brand, which represented the first flavored extension of the company's flagship trademark, was an immediate hit with consumers. In fact, it quickly jumped up to become the 11th top selling soft drink of 1985 taking 1.6% of the market. It spent the rest of the decade in the top 10 selling soft drinks helping Coke to dominate the industry. Here is an ABC News rewind on the Cherry Coke introduction from back in 1985...
I had mentioned earlier that I had switched my allegiance to Coke for a little while in the mid-80s and Cherry Coke was a big reason for that. Another big reason was, in 1986, Max Headroom becoming the new spokesman for the new "Catch the Wave" campaign for New Coke. As a 13-year-old kid, Max Headroom was one of the coolest things I had ever seen and I was onboard for whatever he was selling. That is probably worth an entire issue on its own. I don't think I would've passed the Pepsi Challenge, but back then I was proudly sporting my Max Headroom Coke watch (shown here) which I still do happen to have, by the way. Between Cherry Coke and Max Headroom, I didn't care what my tastebuds told me, Coke was it. And yep, it happened in the 80s.
That'll do it for this issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. There is a link to a summary of all of my 80s issues in the left hand column below the Archives and you can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any topics you are looking for or other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: I had already posted this on our Facebook page, but thought it was worth showing again because it still makes me chuckle out loud. A new Star Wars Episode 7 trailer was recently released and I think it would be hilarious if this little homage to Mel Brooks' Spaceballs was really there...
Quote of the day: "You can't pick cherries with your back to the tree." -John N. Mitchell
Top 10 lists used to be a regular feature here on Kickin' it Old School. Interviews have sort of dominated my content lately and hopefully you have been enjoying those as much as I have. I still have many Top 10 lists just waiting to be published and, with the Coachella Music and Arts Festival going on and the start of Baseball season, it reminded me of one of those lists about Coaches. Most sports movies have a coach character in them, some beloved and some not so much. During the 80s, there were several coach characters in movies and on television, some more memorable than others, and I have compiled a list of my favorites for you.
To qualify for the list, the coach had to appear in a movie released during the 80s or in a television series that ran for at least a part of that decade. A couple of my favorites that could not make this list include "Jimmy Dugan"/Tom Hanks from A League of Their Own (1992), "Morris Buttermaker"/Walter Matthau from The Bad News Bears (1976), "Irv Blitzer"/John Candy from Cool Runnings (1993), "Phil Brickma"/Daniel Stern from Rookie of the Year (1993), "Coach Klein"/Henry Winkler from The Waterboy (1998) and "Jimmy McGinty"/Gene Hackman from The Replacements (2000) among others. Those guys couldn't make this list because they weren't from the 80s, but there are still many more that can. So here is OLD SCHOOL'S TOP 10 COACHES FROM 80s MOVIES OR TELEVISION (+ Bonus 11):
Honorable Mention: "Yoda" from The Empire Strikes Back (1980) played by Frank Oz - Not your conventional coach, but still coaches Luke along his training to become a Jedi in the swamps of Dagobah. Very similar to my choice to top this list, so I thought the little green guy at least deserved an honorable mention.
21. "Mickey Morrison" from Just One of the Guys (1985) played by John Apicella
20. "Coach" from Vision Quest (1985) played by Charles Hallahan
19. "Wayne Hisler" from Johnny Be Good (1988) played by Paul Gleason - Coached Anthony Michael Hall three years after having him in detention
18. "Pop Fisher" from The Natural (1984) played by Wilford Brimley
17. "Coach Nickerson" from All the Right Moves (1983) played by Craig T. Nelson - Nelson is only one to appear on this list twice
16. "Coach Cutlip" from The Wonder Years (1988-91) played by Robert Picardo
15. "Murray Chadwick" from Youngblood (1986) played by Ed Lauter - Coached both Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze on the ice
14. "Bobby Finstock" from Teen Wolf (1985) played by Jay Tarses - Who else could deal so calmly with having a werewolf on their basketball team?
13. "Kid Gleason" from Eight Men Out (1988) played by John Mahoney
12. "Graham Lubbock" from Just the Ten of Us (1988-1990) & Growing Pains (1987-88) played by Bill Kirchenbauer - Gets bonus points for raising a couple of hot daughters
11. "Fast Eddie Felson" from The Color of Money (1986) played by Paul Newman - "You gotta have two things to win. You gotta have brains and you gotta have balls. Now, you got too much of one and not enough of the other."
10. "Molly McGrath" from Wildcats (1986) played by Goldie Hawn - The only woman to make the list
9. "Coach Harris" from Revenge of the Nerds (1984) played by John Goodman - "You know, when you were a baby in your crib, your father looked down at you, he had but one hope - someday my son will grow to be a man. Well look at you now. You just got you're a$$es whipped by a bunch of goddamn nerds. Nerds! Well, if I was you, I'd do something about it. I would get up and redeem myself in the eyes of my father, my maker, and my coach!"
8. "Ken Reeves" from The White Shadow (1978-1981) played by Ken Howard
7. "Apollo Creed" from Rocky III (1982) played by Carl Weathers - Helped Rocky find the eye of the tiger again taking over after "Mickey" died
6. "Ernie 'Coach' Pantusso" from Cheers (1982-1985) played by Nicholas Colasanto
5. "Hayden Fox", "Luther Van Dam" & "Dauber Dybinski" from Coach (1989-1997) played by Craig T. Nelson, Jerry Van Dyke & Bill Fagerbakke respectively
4. "Skip Joe Riggins" & "Larry Hockett" from Bull Durham (1988) played by Trey Wilson & Robert Wuhl respectively
3. "Lou Brown" from Major League (1989) played by James Gammon
2. "Norman Dale" from Hoosiers (1986) played by Gene Hackman
1. "Mr. Miyagi" from The Karate Kid (1984) played by Noriyuki "Pat" Morita - The best coaches teach you lessons in life, not just on the field or on the court.
There's my list. As usual and as I mentioned earlier, these are based on my personal preferences and the order could very well change a little depending on my mood or nostalgia on a given day. Are there any coaches from 80s movies or television that you feel I have overlooked? If you have others or if you'd rank any differently, please leave them in the comments section below and on Facebook. There were many great real coaches during the 80s like Bill Walsh, Pat Riley, Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Knight among others, but these coaches from the big screen and small screen helped entertain us and that deserves some credit as well. As the great Vince Lombardi said, "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." These guys were committed to being excellent coaches on screen.
That'll do it for another issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column or the links in the left column to find any topics you are looking for or browse other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also join the thousands who follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: Here's an awesome Movie Coach pep talk montage to get you fired up...
Quote of the day: "Sometimes I think of the smartest thing to say and then it comes out so stupid." - Ernie "Coach" Pantusso on Cheers
"You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within." -Bob Nelson
March is over. Raise your hand if you know the winner of our 1985 Movie Madness tournament...
1985 Movie Madness is over and the winner, based on YOUR VOTES, is The Breakfast Club. The John Hughes classic defeated all opponents, including Back to the Future in the finals, to become our favorite film released 30 years ago in 1985. That deserves some celebratory dancing...
As a reminder, I picked 64 of the top movies released in theaters during 1985, divided them into four regions based on genre and seeded them within each region. Those regions were Comedy/Rom Com, Drama, Action/Horror/Thriller/Western and Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Kids. Some films crossed genres, so I did my best to assign them where I felt they fit best. Then I allowed people to vote on each match-up to determine the winners each round. Even though I did the initial seeding, the winners were all based on your votes. I used challonge.com to keep track of votes which allowed only one vote per person, but probably also discouraged some from voting at all since it required you to register on that site. Either way, we had hundreds of voters participate again this year and thousands of votes cast over the course of the five-week event. Here is the final bracket showing the results of your votes:
I am very appreciative to all of those who voted. Special thanks to other 80s sites that helped get the word out including Like Totally 80s , Rediscover the 80s , Return to the 80s and 1980s Brat Pack and anybody else who shared it on Facebook or retweeted it on Twitter. It all helped give as many 80s fans their opportunity to vote and help determine the champion.
During the course of the tournament, we had some interesting match-ups. We had the Sylvester Stallone battle when Rocky knocked out Rambo; the Michael J. Fox battle when Back to the Future beat Teen Wolf; the Brat Pack battle when The Breakfast Club defeated St. Elmo's Fire; and the Chevy Chase battle when Fletch ended the surprising run of European Vacation. I think the Comedy bracket was the most competitive and National Lampoon's European Vacation knocked off three of my personal favorites in a row in Clue, Just One of the Guys and Better Off Dead before falling to Fletch. Another reminder is that this was really determining our favorite movie, not the best of that year. This is no more evident in critically acclaimed films like Out of Africa, Prizzi's Honor and The Color Purple getting eliminated early. It's all just for fun.
John Hughes wins the championship two years in a row. Last year, Sixteen Candles took home the 1984 Movie Madness title . The Breakfast Club is another coming-of-age film both written by and directed by the late, great John Hughes. It was released in theaters in February of 1985 and I think it is the best example of Hughes' genius. Based on the voting in this tournament, it certainly seems to still resonate with many of us 30 years later. It is definitely one of my all-time favorites and I have had the extreme pleasure so far of a couple interviews with those connected to this film:
We've had two successful years in a row, so look for 1986 Movie Madness next March! Cue the Simple Minds...
Thanks for reading and hopefully participating. As a reminder, if you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Please be sure to also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so join us there to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please continue to let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.
Even though I have now published well over 100 of them, I still feel the need to say each time that I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is Jymn Magon. You might not recognize the name, but he helped bring some of the most beloved Disney animated series to television in the mid-80s through the mid-90s. This includes Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop and more. Depending on the series, he has been a creator, developer, story editor, writer, producer and more. He brought Disney's very first major serialized animated television series to the small screen and helped set the tone for Disney television animation for decades to come. Find out a little about him, Gummi Bears, DuckTales and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Jymn Magon...
Q: When and why did you know you wanted to be a professional writer? When and how did you get your own start in that industry?
Jymn: My original dream was to be an actor, but it seemed that every theater major I knew wound up teaching high school drama - and that's not what I wanted. So in college I chose the next best thing - an English major. (Yeah, like their prospects are any better!) That kept me around literature and writing, so I guess that was the seed. However, what really catapulted me into entertainment (besides amateur theater work and making 8mm films in high school) was writing and producing a series of "Old Time Radio" spoofs for my college radio station. That experience of creating stories with dialogue, music and sound effects is what got me my job at Walt Disney Music Company where I produced story records for eight years. The Disney record company gig started in 1976 (the Bi-centennial!). When Michael Eisner took over the Disney Company in 1984, I moved over to the new Television Animation Division.
Q: What attracted you to animation in particular?
Jymn: Well, I was a toon geek since I was a kid, watching Ruff and Reddy, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Popeye re-runs. I continued that geekiness into college, still watching Saturday morning cartoons in my dorm. So the love was always there, but a desire to work in the animation industry wasn't. I mean who says as a kid, "I want to be an animation writer!"? No one. Everyone wants to be a cartoon artist - not a writer. Yet I wound up working on my first television series with none other than Rocky (June Foray) and Bullwinkle (Bill Scott). "Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me!"
Q: How did you get hired by Disney? Seems like that would be the dream job for any animation writer.
Jymn: I started with Walt Disney Music Company, spending eight years there. Then I moved over to TV Animation, spending another nine years. I guess the amazing thing is that I didn't follow any set career path for either job. I had never produced a record before 1976, and I had never worked in television before 1984. No audio classes, no screenwriting classes, nuthin'.
Yes, it was a dream job. However, I wasn't an animation writer when I started in TV. I actually began as a show developer, working on both The Gummi Bears and The Wuzzles. When we sold Gummies to NBC, the head of their children's programming said, "OK, so who's going to be your Story Editor?" (That's like a head writer.) My boss Gary Krisel pointed to me and said, "We thought Jymn would do that." So my first journey into animation was as a story editor. That meant I was creating story lines (with producer/director Art Vitello), hiring writers, giving guidance and notes, and then cleaning up the scripts (sometimes re-writing heavily). However, I never actually wrote a Gummi Bears script with my name as sole writer. It wasn't until DuckTales that I wrote my first official animation script ("The Status Seekers").
Q: You are listed as co-creator of Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears. What can you tell us about your role in bringing those little gummy candies to life in a Disney way? Of all of the possible subjects, why were Gummi Bears chosen?
Jymn: I've told this story numerous times, and I still can't believe it happened this way. When Michael Eisner took over the company, he asked to meet with a bunch of "creative types" to talk about his new TV animation department. Gary Krisel (as president of the Music Co.) was known as a young hotshot at the Studio. (He and I had kinda overhauled the sagging department with lots of innovative music albums - like Mickey Mouse Disco, Goin' Quackers, etc.) So Gary was invited to Eisner's house and he brought me along. A bunch of us (six or eight, I think) met at Eisner's Beverly Hills home on a Sunday morning (because it was his only free time, having just taken over the studio). Michael told us about his desire to start a new division, and we all kicked around some ideas. Eisner mentioned that his kids had eaten this great new candy at summer camp - gummi bears. Then he turned to me - a total unknown - and said, "Make me a show about that."
Q: How long did Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears take to develop? What did you use as inspiration? What obstacles did you face?
Jymn: Well, afterward we all thought Eisner was crazy. Who the heck makes a show about characters that get eaten? So it sat fallow for a couple weeks until I got a phone call: "Where's my show?" It was Eisner. I quickly started typing up some ideas about a candy-centric world. (The villain was Licorice Whip, and his sidekick was Scummi Gummi. Yes, it's sadly true.) Fortunately, that slowly gave way to sanity, and we started thinking of the classic Disney movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty. These were set in a European, medieval, fantasy world. That seemed like a safe route to go (because we had never made a TV show before) and so castles and knights crept into the development. I'm guessing it took a few months to get the show developed and sold. Then we jumped straight into production, putting the show on the air in the Fall of 1985. Other than those Disney classics, I used my love of Tolkien's work as inspiration. Art Vitello introduced me to Hayao Miyazaki and Vicente Segrelles - and you can see that influence in a couple of episodes.
You must remember, we were a brand new division, so there was NOTHING in place. We had to build the structure and the work force for the department from scratch. So finding a strong team was the biggest obstacle. Art did a fantastic job pulling together that first core group of artists (Thom Enriquez, Hank Tucker, Rob Laduca, Ed Wexler, Gary Eggleston, etc.). I think they really set the tone of what a "Disney TV Animation" show looks like.
Q: Then what was your ongoing role with that show? Was there any added pressure creating what would become Disney's first major animated television series?
Jymn: I was co-creator and story editor. Art and I were the key players. We did everything from create stories to hiring and directing the voice talent. I was hiring writers, dealing with NBC notes, and teaching myself how to put together 11 and 22 minute episodes. I stopped working on Gummi Bears after the second season.
I don't remember there being an edict from On High stating, "You'd better not screw up!" But we all knew we were stepping into an arena that was dominated by studios like Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and such. As it turned out, we ended up raising the bar for what Saturday Morning shows looked like.
Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears premiered in September of 1985 and went on to run for 65 episodes. It ran for four seasons on NBC Saturday Mornings and then moved to a syndicated 2-hour block of cartoons called "The Disney Afternoon" for two more years. Here is the opening theme for Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears...
Q: What were your feelings about the show that you created back then and have those changed at all over the years?
Jymn: I hold it very near and dear. At the time, I thought I was never going to work on anything that good again, so it was really special to me. The theme song still chokes me up a bit when I hear it. I'm very proud of that show. It set the tone for everything that was to come.
Q: Then you went on to develop DuckTales which debuted in 1987. What can you share with us about the process of creating this series?
Jymn: My involvement with the development was minimal, because I was working on Gummies at the time. Tedd Anasti and Patsy Cameron were hired to develop and story edit that series, so the bulk of that show was on their shoulders.
Q: Do you know why Scrooge McDuck and Donald's nephews were chosen to build a series around?
Jymn: Carl Barks, as most everyone knows, created practically everything that became DuckTales. He was a comic book writer/artist who created Scrooge McDuck, the Junior Woodchucks, the Beagle Boys, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica De Spell, Gladstone Gander, and others. He was the genius behind the whole Duckburg experience. (Sadly, Mr. Barks was never given on-screen credit for his vast creation.) So it was very handy to start a series that had a library of 500 duck stories already created. Of course Donald was in most of those tales - but the Studio wasn't ready to put one of their superstars into a TV series yet. So Donald disappeared from DuckTales, and new characters like Launchpad McQuack, Webigail and Mrs. Beakley were added.
Q: Tell us a little more about your responsibilities over the course of the series?
Jymn: I was brought onto DuckTales after I left Gummi Bears, so the series was already up and running when I arrived. My role was quite specific. Buena Vista Television wanted a "pilot movie" to kick off the series premiere. So even though I was a late-comer to the show, I was given the task of "introducing" the audience to our characters. The five-part series that I spear-headed was called "The Treasure of the Golden Suns," and it was written separate from the regular series production. The mini-series set up: a) How Donald left to join the Navy, b) How nasty old skinflint Scrooge got stuck with Huey, Dewey and Louie, and c) How the nephews and Launchpad became ongoing members of Scrooge's adventure entourage. I was involved with about seven mainstream episodes after that, but was again assigned another five-parter (Bubba Duck in "Time is Money") and a 4-parter ("Catch as Cash Can" sometimes referred to as "The Firefly Fruit Contest.") Looking back, I wrote on about 10% of the DuckTales scripts and story edited almost a quarter of the series.
DuckTales premiered in September of 1987 and ran for four seasons and 100 episodes through November of 1990. It was the first Disney cartoon produced specifically for syndication. Many kids who grew up in the late-80s hold DuckTales close to their hearts considering it one of their favorite cartoons of the time. It received Outstanding Animated Daytime Emmy nominations in 1988 and 1989. Here is the opening theme for Disney's DuckTales...
Q: After the success of Gummi Bears, was there any more or any less pressure working on DuckTales?
Jymn: Gummi Bears was a #1 show, so we wanted DuckTales to do just as well... and it did. The same was true for Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck... we wanted to keep topping ourselves. But, by far, DuckTales was the most popular and successful series. Buena Vista Television even ordered extra episodes, so it topped out at 100 shows.
Q: Did you have any feeling at the beginning that this show would become such a hit and go on to last 100 episodes like it did?
Jymn: I don't think any of us thought in those terms. Like with all shows, you receive an order for a set number of episodes (13, 65, whatever) and then you try your best to get it done in a timely and professional manner. You can't really concern yourself over how it will be accepted or remembered in the future.
Q: What were your feelings about your show back then and, again, have those changed at all over the years?
Jymn: It was a delight to work on DuckTales, and it was my first taste of "a feature length" project. (Each mini-series was cut into a 2-hour TV movie.) It was comedy-adventure done on a global scale. Lots of fun to work on, especially with Bruce Talkington, Mark Zaslove, Len Uhley, David Weimers, and Ken Koonce.
Q: Any other interesting stories or facts about making DuckTales that you can share with us and let us in on?
Jymn: Three things come to mind. 1) When working for a network, you must deal with a department called BS&P (Broadcast Standards and Practices). They determine any "copyable behavior" that must be avoided because of the young, impressionable audience. DuckTales, however, was our first syndicated show, which means there's no network to deal with - so we had to be our own censors. I've always been very mindful of being "Disney", so I rarely run into problems. However, I realized I made a major faux pas in my VERY FIRST EPISODE! You can see Huey, Dewey and Louie swinging on a rope and smashing face first through a chocolate factory window! Yipes! 2) On the "Time is Money" mini-series, I brought in my friend Bruce Coville to help write the script. Bruce is best known as a book writer (e.g. "My Teacher is an Alien" series), so TV was new to him. I remember him saying, "How do you guys work at this pace?!" - which made me chuckle. 3) I didn't invent Launchpad McQuack, but I was responsible for introducing him in the pilot. Mark, Bruce and I went to go see the film Big Trouble in Little China  and we realized that the Jack Burton character (played by Kurt Russell) was Launchpad! Big-ego'd Jack saw himself as more important and talented than he truly was, and did heroically stupid things (like firing a gun in the air then having the ceiling fall on his head). Terry McGovern (the perfect voice for Launchpad) was not recorded as part of our Burbank ensemble. He lived up in San Francisco and was directed (via phone) at a studio up there.
Q: The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh debuted in 1988. What role did you play in bringing that show featuring such beloved classic characters to television?
Jymn: That show belonged to Karl Geurs (director) and Mark Zaslove (story editor), and they did a fantastic job with it. (Won two Emmy's in fact.) I was involved with some early development discussions and then wrote a few episodes. The thing I remember most was management's decision to put Christopher Robin in today's world, a concept that Karl balked at and that lasted for only one episode. ("Pooh Oughta Be in Pictures" in which Christopher Robin and the animals go downtown to see a horror film.) Then it was back to the 100-Acre Wood.
Q: Then Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers was next debuting in 1989. What can you tell us about that show and what role you played on that?
Jymn: This series belonged primarily to Tad Stones. He was the producer/story editor throughout. My involvement was at the development stage. (Tad can draw, so I mostly typed.) Tad and I started off with a mouse detective named Kit Colby who headed a team of animals to solve crimes. There were Camille the chameleon, Billabong the Australian kangaroo rat, mystic cricket Chirp Sing and a far-sighted eagle with glasses. (Here is an early drawing of that crew. As far as I know, this is the first time I've shared Tad's painting with anyone.)
Eventually we added a second mouse to the team, Colt Cheddarson. None of these pitches were a "home run" with Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Then at one of our pitch meetings, Eisner suggested replacing Kit and Colt with Chip and Dale. The rest is history. Tad ran with the show and did an amazing job. I had some return involvement when Mark Zaslove and I came in to touch up the pilot mini-series Rescue Rangers: To the Rescue.
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers debuted in March of 1989 running for 3 seasons and 65 episodes. It ran on in syndication on afternoons after school until 1993 and was another of the most popular cartoons of its time.
Q: What are your feelings at including positive messages in the cartoons especially aimed at children? Was that something you consciously considered when writing those shows? Did Disney make it a priority at all to try including positive messages or positive reinforcement in those shows back in the 80s?
Jymn: That was simply the formula back then (and pretty much still is). Stories had a little moral attached - a lesson learned. Sometimes it was subtle, sometimes it hit you over the head (like He-Man). Shows, especially pre-school ones, usually have an educator involved who will look for the pro-social messages or the educational content in each episode. But my personal feeling is that stories stem from characters and you can't tell a story if the character doesn't go through some personal change or revelation. And I feel that children should see a positive spin on that change.
I think it's part of our Judeo-Christian mindset to tell these kinds of stories. Even the controversial horror stories found in the 1950's EC Comics were nothing more than European fairy tales with "bad-punished/good-rewarded" morals.
Again, there were no written or verbal guidelines handed down From Above. It was simply how stories were told then on television... and how the Disney tone was handed down unconsciously from the early films. (Based on Walt's turn-of-the-century mid-Western upbringing, I suppose.)
Q: What do you remember best about the decade of 80s animated television (or pop culture in general)?
Jymn: Wow. That's a big topic. It's been said that "If you remember the 60s, you weren't there." I suppose (for me) the same can be said of the 80s - I don't remember it because I was there working the whole time. And, yes, I was a workaholic. I knew what kids watched simply because I had three kids, and they told me what they liked... Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Garbage Pail Kids, Ninja Turtles, etc. I also think the 80s was a good time in music. (We had just survived the Disco 70s.) All in all, the 80s were a fun time to be a kid, methinks.
Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the 80s. What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
Jymn: I was still at Disney in the late 80s and early 90s. That's when I create and produced TaleSpin with Mark Zaslove [65 episodes 1990-91], story edited Goof Troop [1992-93], and co-wrote A Goofy Movie . I was also teaching toon writing at UCLA-Extension. It was a golden time for me. Then Disney started getting weird (for me anyway) and I left in November of 1993 - beginning my freelance career. Fortunately, I had tons of success as a freelancer and I've been in that role ever since. My goal now is to enjoy life... I've worked hard in the Entertainment field for almost 40 years. And while I don't see myself ever retiring, I hope to take things easier now.
Q: What else is Jymn Magon up to nowadays? Writing and otherwise?
Jymn: I'm still freelancing, working primarily for overseas companies. The reason for this is: In Hollywood, you're "past it" if you're over 40. But in other countries they think, "Wow, look at this guy's credentials and experience!" So it's easier to find work. I've worked for England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, India, Australia, China, Korea, and Finland... all from the comfort of my home office. Nice, huh?
Q: What can we expect in the future? Any remaining ambitions or regrets?
Jymn: My plan is to start a series of memoirs about my time at Disney plus writing several young adult books. Ambitions: Do more live theater. Travel more. I'd also like a shot at being involved with the new DuckTales series [scheduled to return to television in 2017]. Regrets: I wish I'd taken more photos during my time at Disney. Wish I'd spent more time with my kids when they were growing up. I also wonder what my life would have been like if I'd continued studying Art.
That's all for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying these interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them (over 100 so far!). You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any topics you are looking for or other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.
Quote of the day: "Believe in your character. Animate (or write) with sincerity." -Glen Keane
As I still feel the need to say each time, I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is Derek Holt. He was a founding member of The Climax Blues Band and wrote as well as performed their 1981 hit single "I Love You" (which I have always personally adored). Find out a little about him, that beautiful song and more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Derek Holt...
Q: When and how did you get your own start in the music industry? Please tell us a little about your earlier career and how the Climax Blues Band came together.
Derek: I first started playing guitar when I was eight years old. My brother was eight years older than me and was playing 50s skiffle. I took it more seriously when at school and around the age of 16 was already going out and doing gigs with local bands. I was playing guitar and also singing. It all came natural to me though I couldn't read music, just had a good ear for it, I guess. When I left school, I went to work in a local grinding wheel factory as a laboratory assistant and attending college for a degree in Chemistry.
Colin Cooper [another founding member of Climax Blues Band who passed away in 2008] also worked there as a metallurgist so that's how we met. He had already discovered a young Pete Haycock and had wanted to put a blues band together. He was already gigging with a jazz band on clarinet. We started doing local gigs with local drummer George Newsome and a keyboard player named Arthur Wood who at the time was a school teacher. Our bass player then was Richard Jones, who also knew Pete from Grammar School. I was rhythm guitarist. While playing local gigs we were "discovered" by a scout for the new EMI label Parlaphone who was on the look out for a young blues/rock outfit for their label. We signed up for two albums with them though we still had day jobs so had to take time off work to go and record in London. Our first album was recorded over two days in the infamous Abbey Road Studios in 1968. We were in Studio 1, The Beatles were in Studio 2 and Pink Floyd in studio 3! I was just 19 years of age.
We will fast forward to the 80s. By 1980, Derek Holt, Colin Cooper and Pete Haycock were the only original members left in Climax Blues Band. The band had released 11 albums up to that point and their biggest hit single was 1976's "Couldn't Get It Right". In 1980, they released their twelfth album, Flying the Flag, which included a little gem simply titled "I Love You" which was written by Holt who also performed lead vocals.
Q: Please take us back to when you wrote "I Love You". What is the back story about how that song was conceived and written? Inspiration? How did it come together and how long did it take to write?
Derek: Who knows where songs come from? This was at the time when we had a four album deal with Warner Brothers. Everyone was writing songs to try and get theirs on. I had a little studio set up. When I say little, I mean one corner of a bedroom with a Fender Rhodes [electric piano], a 4-track recorder, a very small drum kit, a few guitars and one microphone. I remember one night just going in there, I sat down at the piano, set the recorder and just started playing the intro and chords to "I Love You". I wrote the whole structure of the song in a couple of takes including the key change to the solo which I thought was quite clever how it came back to the bridge. I then played a rough feel on my very basic drum kit. Next I added the guitar solo which just seemed naturally what would fit. I played it by bending the strings, it wasn't a slide guitar, put the bass on, then sat down and out poured the lyrics, from nowhere. I then sang it and did all the harmonies myself. I would say it was a pretty divine moment and one I can't explain.
Q: Did you have any feeling that "I Love You" was going to be something special when you wrote it? I read that it almost was not recorded for the album. How and why did "I Love You" go from being off to being on the Flying the Flag album? How did that all go down?
Derek: The irony of "I Love You" is that I played it to the band but they didn't like it. I thought it was the best and most complete song I'd ever written. We had a producer [John Ryan] come to England from L.A. to run through the tracks for our next album. He was sent to pre-produce our songs and asked us if anyone had any more songs. I said, "I have this one but the band don't like it." I played my cassette recording for him and he loved it, even said he thought it was a hit.
Q: How did the song evolve during production? I like the use of strings on the track. Any other interesting details about creating this beautiful song? What were your feelings when you heard your final recorded version of "I Love You"?
Derek: We arrived in L.A. to record the album at Sound City Studios. When it came to "I Love You", our producer got Nicky Hopkins to play the grand piano. So it was me at the Fender Rhodes, Nicky by my side at the grand and John Cuffley on drums. The three of us laid down the basic track. I then put on the bass, sang it and did all the harmonies, Pete [Haycock] played my guitar solo, Colin Cooper wasn't even on the track. Then the producer decided to get a "real" string section on the track which was the icing on the cake. Warner Brothers came to the album launch at the studio for the execs to have a listen. They all raved about "I Love You", they got behind it and it became a hit. Personally, I thought it just sounded incredible.
"I Love You" was a single from the 1980 Climax Blues Band album Flying the Flag and has gone on to be one of the band's most prolific hits. The song about a woman coming into a man's life changing it for the better entered the U.S. pop chart in February of 1981. It went on to peak at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June of that year and spent 27 weeks in the top 100. Here is a video of "I Love You" by Climax Blues Band...
Q: Why did the rest of the band not like the song and why did it never get played in live shows? Most Climax Blues Band songs seem to be credited as written by the entire band. Was it unusual that you received solo credit for writing "I Love You"?
Derek: Up until the Flying the Flag album, we used to split songwriting royalties four equal ways as we were all credited with writing songs. For this album, we had a meeting to discuss starting to have songwriting credit split separately. I lost the argument to keep it all the same as before and ended up gaining 100% of my own song. Ironic!
When the song became a hit (also it was the start of me then becoming a lead singer which worried the others), we had a major U.S. tour booked but both Colin and Pete didn't want to "go on the road to promote my career". So even with a song high up on the U.S. charts, they actually chose not to back me up instead of just being grateful for another hit. I never got to tour and sing the song live so I feel slightly cheated out of performing it. But it became a really popular radio song and of course a lot of people fell in love because of it. I also get emails from people who actually got married because of it even having it played as their "first dance" at their reception.
Q: What are your sentiments regarding "I Love You" over 30 years later?
Derek: It's so satisfying to know the the song touched so many people in so many different ways. The song still lives on 30 years later! Occasionally, I get asked if it can be used in a film or for a jingle, so that's great. When I go out gigging, people still ask for it and I'll sing it. It would have been great though to perform it in front of thousands in the USA when we were at our peak. I recently did some shows in Toronto, Canada and people just loved to hear the song live. It will probably live on forever. I hope so. I guess I made my mark!
I have always loved this song. From the moment I hear Derek sing that first line, it gets me every time. The melody, his vocals, the lyrics. Everything combines to make one very special song in my opinion. Here are those lyrics to "I Love You" as written by Derek Holt...
When I was younger man I hadn't a care Foolin' around, hitting the town, growing my hair You came along and stole my heart when you entered my life Ooh babe you got what it takes so I made you my wife
Since then I never looked back It's almost like living a dream And ooh I love you
You came along from far away and found me here I was playin' around, feeling down, hittin' the beer You picked me up from off the floor and gave me a smile You said you're much too young, your life ain't begun, let's walk for awhile
And as my head was spinnin' 'round I gazed into your eyes And thought ooh I want you
Thank you babe for being a friend And shinin' your light in my life 'cause ooh I need you
As my head was comin' round I gazed into your eyes And thought ooh I want you
Thanks again for being my friend And straightenin' out my life 'cause ooh I need you
Since then I never looked back It's almost like livin' a dream Ooh I got you
If ever a man had it all It would have to be me And ooh I love you
Q: In 1983, what caused you to leave Climax Blues Band, a band you helped found? It seems you rejoined the band for a short period of time in the late 80s. What caused you to come back and why did you leave again?
Derek: I left the band due to the guys not supporting me. It was probably the worst decision I could have made. We all make mistakes in life. I went on to form a band with Roye Albrighton, the guitarist from Nektar. We did two albums for A&M and toured Europe and the U.S. only it was like starting all over again. It was tough driving the thousands of miles between gigs. I'd already done this with Climax and I just felt it was like worthless exercise. So we split and I went into studio management for a while. I guess I fell out of love with the daily grind of touring for a while. It can get to you
After I left, Pete and Colin carried on. Then they themselves split leaving Colin to carry on as The Climax Blues Band with some local musicians. I was approached to rejoin to do some European tours which I did more for the love of playing than anything else, but I was hired as a backing musician so got paid by the gig as a hired hand. This didn't sit well with me and so i left again. I was also going through some difficult times at home and my heart just wasn't into slogging around the world on the road again especially traveling in a van for thousands of miles. America was where we should have been but we lost that chance the first time around.
Q: How did you end up collaborating with Stewart Copeland to create the music used in the Star Wars animated Droids cartoon series? What can you tell us about Copeland and your experience working with him?
Derek: I'd known Stewart Copeland for many years. His brother, Miles, managed us for a few good years. He got in touch with me about collaborating on Lucasfilm's animated shows. He'd already had success writing the music for The Equalizer [1985-1989 TV series]and Rumble Fish [1983 film], so was well respected. I really enjoyed working with Stewart. He had a great studio.
Derek Holt and Stewart Copeland collaborated to write and record music for the Star Wars animated television shows that aired from 1985-1986 including the opening theme for Droids titled "Trouble Again"...
Q: Please tell us a little about where your career has taken you since the 80s. What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
Derek: I joined the "Night Of The Guitars" tour  playing bass for Alvin Lee, Leslie West, Steve Howe, Wishbone Ash, Robbie Krieger, Randy California, Jan Akkerman and Phil Manzanera to name a few. I was invited to meet up again at Miles Copeland's chateau retreat in France where musicians and songwriters would gather to write songs in various groups. I was there with people like Jeff Beck, Timothy B. Schmit, Lisa Loeb and Chas Sandford among others. A truly great experience to be collaborating with some great writers. I also played bass for Chuck Berry in Spain. All of these great experiences to be remembered.
Q: What else is Derek Holt up to nowadays? Musically and otherwise?
Derek: I decided to have a go at running my own live music venue in Stafford, England, my home town. So I bought a pub called The Grapes. We were there for 12 years, had some great fun, saw some incredible acts. I was playing in there three nights a week, but eventually we ran out of steam and gave it up for a quieter life.
I still play and go out with different musicians up and down the country. I'm currently writing a book on my life called Almost Like Living a Dream (from a line in "I Love You"). It's been a great, bumpy ride so far. Long may it continue.
I am so pleased that Derek was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. To find out more about Derek Holt and keep up with everything he has going, please visit his official website at www.derekholt.co.uk/ I want to take this occasion to again thank Derek Holt for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through "I Love You" and, even more, for going back to that awesome decade with us here for a little while as well.
That'll do it for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying these interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them (over 100 so far!). You can use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any topics you are looking for or other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of 80s pop culture and Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. You can also hook up with us on Google+. Please leave comments so we know you're out there and let other 80s fans know about us as well! Peace and much love.
Quote of the day: "When you compete with a person, you only have to be as good or better than the person to win. If you compete with yourself, there is no limitation to how good you can be." -Chin-Ning Chu
March Madness is upon us once again! After the success of last year's 1984 Movie Madness, we totally had to come back this year and have our favorite movies from 30 years ago battle it out in... 1985 Movie Madness!Last year's tournament crowned Sixteen Candles as our favorite movie from 1984 (and you can check out those results by that link). This year we certainly have some strong contenders from 1985 including a few of the most iconic films of the decade. It's hard to believe that it has been 30 years since some of these movies were released in theaters.
I picked 64 of the top movies released in 1985, divided them into four regions based on genre and seeded them within each region. Those regions are Comedy/Romantic Comedy, Drama, Action/Horror/Thriller/Western and Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Kids. Some films crossed genres, so I did my best to assign them where I felt they fit best. The top seeded films from each region are:
We already celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club on February 15th. The Goonies will celebrate 30 years on June 7th and Back to the Future, the highest grossing movie of 1985, on July 3rd. Speaking of Back to the Future, please check out (and pre-order) our friend Caseen Gaines' upcoming book We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy (www.facebook.com/wedontneedroadsbook/). Out of Africa won the Oscar for Best Picture, but along with another popular drama, The Color Purple, weren't released until December 18th so barely qualified for this year's tournament.
Here is snapshot of the complete tournament bracket for this year (but you'll find all of the match-ups at the link below)...
Now is the part where you come in! Join the madness. PLEASE VOTE and let others know. Voting on first round match-ups is already open. Please follow the link below to vote now: www.challonge.com/1985moviemadness
Unfortunately, you do have register at the website before you can vote, but it is relatively easy to do and, if you voted last year, you should already be registered. Voting for each round will only be open for a limited time, so get your vote in now. Results will be posted and you will be notified when voting for the next round is open. It is important to keep coming back to vote each round because the choice will get tougher and tougher as we narrow it down. Your votes will choose a champion by the end of the month!
Please help spread the word and get as many voters participating as possible. Please stop by our Facebook page and let us know you voted in our 1985 Movie Madness tournament: www.Facebook.com/KickinItOldSchool80s/ Please share it on Facebook, Twitter and any other social networks you frequent. Really hope we can get a lot of participation again and look forward to crowning our favorite film of 1985.
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