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Posts Tagged ‘Firsts’

Top 10 Movie and TV Firsts April 22, 2009 5 Comments

"Open hailing frequencies, Lieutenant."

"Open hailing frequencies, Lieutenant. Heh-heh-heh"

A lot of the visual mediums and standards we have today have roots in some of the weirdest places. TV can sometimes trump film for branching out and taking risks, which is why I’m mixing them together. These are all random but interesting bits of trivia. As Bob Marley once said, “In this great future, you can’t forget your past”.

The First Interracial Kiss On TV- Star Trek – Lt. Uhura and Capt. Kirk – Episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – The actual ROLE of Lt. Uhura was a first in and of itself, where a black woman had a commanding part on the bridge of the Enterprise and wasn’t a maid, a slave or a nanny. Originally, Spock was supposed to be the one to kiss Uhura while under alien influence but Shatner fought them on this saying, “If anyone gets to kiss Nichelle, it’s going to be me. I’m the captain!”  The network was extremely nervous – and in 1968, who could blame them? Kudos to them for letting the creators go ahead with it at all, and may have only allowed it because Star Trek wasn’t very popular during its initial run. They shot two versions of the scene; one where Kirk is fighting the mind control and they-almost-but-don’t and another where he really, really isn’t fighting very much at all and it’s Snog City. Shatner crossed his eyes during the former, rendering the take useless so the network had no choice but to air the kiss. (Some might argue that a kiss – a peck on the cheek-  between Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. a year before on a variety show was the first but the Trek smooch was scripted and thought-out) This episode was so volatile at the time it wasn’t aired in the American South and was banned in England for 25 (!!!) years. When Nichelle Nichols was thinking of leaving the show because she was sick of playing a “telephone operator in space”, it was Martin Luther King Jr. – no less -  who convinced her to stay. He told her; “For the first time the world will see us as we should be seen — people of quality in the future. You created a role with dignity and beauty and grace and intelligence. You’re not just a role model for our children, but for people who don’t look like us to see us for the first time as equals.”  MLK – Freedom-fighter, orator, symbol of equality and peace among races and… Star Trek geek.

First ‘Talkie’ – ‘The Jazz Singer’ – 1927 was the end of one era and the beginning of a new one in filmdom. The Jazz Singer mesmerized movie punters who lined up around the block to hear their silver screen idols actually speak for the first time. The opposite of video killing the radio star, ‘talkies’ were bad news for stars with less than dulcet tones. This was cleverly outlined in Singin’ in the Rain and for some jobbing actors, being a voice double became a new way to pay the rent.

First Woman Nominated For A Directing Oscar – Lina Wertmuller – The name Lina Wertmuller isn’t very well known nowadays but in 1976, she made history as the first woman to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar for her film, Seven Beauties. She was a protégée of Federico Fellini and an Assistant Director on his classic, 8 1/2 Weeks. Since then, only two other women have achieved this honour – Jane Campion for The Piano and Sofia Coppola for Lost In Translation (Sofia probably would have won but Peter Jackson’s work on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was due that year) Among her other accolades, she holds the Guinness World Record of ‘Longest Film Title’ – Un fatto di sangue nel comune di Siculiana fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci e vino (Translated and shortened to ‘Blood Feud’ or ‘Revenge’ for us English-speaking types) and was sufficiently famous back in the day to be parodied on SNL by Laraine Newman.