Making Movies and TV Audience Friendly

By Tom Titus

Readers of this occasional blog more than likely expect a comment or three about local theater. After all, that’s been my stock in trade for the past half century.

But I was a movie fan long before I discovered the wonders of live theater. And today I’d like to offer a few suggestions to the motion picture and television industries that would prove beneficial both to them and, most importantly, to their audiences.

When did Hollywood start the abysmal practice of starting a movie without tellng the viewers the identity of the actors and actresses playing major roles in the picture? Today, it seems, we don’t actually know who’s in the flick until the closing credits roll.

Let’s return to the traditional “Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in ‘Double Indemnity’ “ opening credits (and, on that topic, don’t miss “Billy & Ray” at the Laguna Playhouse before it closes Oct. 30). I couldn’t resist throwing in that theatrical tidbit.

And, while we’re at it, how about borrowing a tactic from the producers of such movies as “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Great Escape” and “Take the High Ground,” among others. That is, why not identify each actor and actress with his or her picture as a sort of cinematic curtain call?

Turning to television, one of the industry’s most grievous faults is identifying actors at the start of a show, but not showing the character they play, as did programs like “Dallas” and “M*A*S*H.” Some shows still practice that laudable method – including “Criminal Minds,” “Law & Order” and “Blue Bloods.”

But watch a show like “Gray’s Anatomy,” for instance, and you get the names at the outset, but if you’re new to the program you have no idea who the people are portraying. Let’s see their likeness as they’re identified.

Those are just a few things I’d be attending to if I were in charge of movies or TV shows. In the next few editions of this column, I’ll take a look backward and come up with a few “top 10″ lists vis the IMOHO (in my own humble opinion) technique.

I’ll be starting with an honor roll of actors and movies that should have been honored by the Academy, but weren’t. Stay tuned.

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