Tuesday, September 2, 2008

R.I.P., Don LaFontaine

Don LaFontaine, the legendary voice of innumerable movie trailers and TV commercials, has passed away.

I knew Don and worked with him many times over the years, and he was hands down the best VO guy I ever knew (with apologies to Tom, Jim and the other VO folks who read this blog -- who would all agree with me).

The joke among producers was that Don didn't like doing more than 3-4 takes of a script, but if so -- and I never saw it -- it was because he didn't need to. He nailed most things on take one or two every time, and if he didn't, it was because your script was bad or you didn't know what you wanted. At 30-40 sessions a day all over L.A., Don didn't have time to mess around, but he still found time to trade stories with me about the joys of raising girls (he had three).

My pal Tom Kane knew Don longer and better than I did, and has kindly allowed me to reprint this e-mail he sent out earlier today to his friends.


You may not have known him.

But you knew him.

Don LaFontaine passed away today.

He was a father, a husband, and -- last on the list, I assure you -- a voiceover legend.

20 years ago, I was voicing promos at NBC, trying to deal with the emotions of sitting in a chair that was still warm from Don LaFontaine and Townsend Coleman... and trying not to embarrass myself while "The Don" was waiting patiently for me to finish...

...for me to do in five takes what he could have done in one.

Then, after he sat down and completely blew me away, he invited me to go to lunch with him... in the fabled limo.

I tried hard to hide the fact that I was walking away from my beat up "K-Car" toward his signature transpo... If he noticed, he didn't comment.
What he did say, was that he thought I might actually make a go of it as voiceover guy.

And like a very small number of us so blessed, I did.

Over the years, we became friends. And as only a tiny handful of us in the entire world can claim, we became competitors.

But as Andy, Dave, Jonathon, Ashton, George, Beau, Al, Scott and the rest all know, while we may have shared the field with him, there was never any real competition.

From the days when - as a writer and producer - he literally created the modern concept of the Movie Trailer - to when he single-handedly voiced over half the Trailers in the entire industry AND squeezed in Promos for half a dozen Networks, he was in every aspect, "The Don"... Our Patriarch.

My Favorite Don story was when I was hired to do the trailers for "Tombstone".

As happened about ten times a day back then, the studios said "We need to use someone else... Don is on EVERYTHING!"

So they had me do the entire campaign... Until the reviews started coming out... and they were not good.

The cry went out from the boardroom, "Get Don LaFontaine!"

Imagine that...

A gazillion dollar movie... with huge stars... a big director... with an advertising budget bigger than it took to make "Star Wars"... But MAYBE, just maybe, if Don LaFontaine did the trailers... it might actually save the movie.

Don did the trailers until Siskel and Ebert's review panned it, then they went back to me to save a few bucks...

Because if Don couldn't save it, it didn't matter who voiced the rest.

We laughed about it over lunch a few weeks later. He shook his his head in wonder at how - in his own words - "I guess I've become some sort of talisman."

Don was exactly that, for all of us.

A Talisman.

Of what what we could dream of being someday...
...and what we all knew - and know to this very minute - we will never equal.

He was, quite simply, the best that will ever be.

'Nita... girls...

We cannot know the full hurt of your loss.

But know that he touched our lives as well.

And we will miss him greatly.

-Tom Kane



Don's Geico commercial


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An impromptu interview


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Classic Music Video Of The Day

Think this is bad? Try sitting through the GD movie like I had to, thanks to my two sisters who outvoted me on what we would see that day. When the lead characters became animated fish during a love song and swam gaily through the water, showered by swirling animated hearts and butterflies and shit, I think I ovulated.

The only redeeming thing was Olivia. Ohhhhh-livia. How I loved her so.
Boner. Ovulation. Boner. Ovulation. I was a wreck.

Yes, they are roller skating. And yes, Olivia's dance partner is Michael Beck, who starred in The Warriors just the year before. I guess he didn't want to be typecast as a thug. I wanted cool hair like his. Trivia: Beck did not sing, so his vocals were dubbed by Brit pop star Cliff Richard.


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Radio Ad Of The Day: Corn Nuts

I can't find any evidence that this isn't real. Wow. From Lyndalybraryan.


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Top 9 Sports Error Cards

Amusing whether you're a sports fan or not. From Kurt.



9. LeBron James: 2003-04 Upper Deck All-Star

If you’re a fan of King James, you should catch the error rather quickly. If not, let’s just say it’s an All-Star card for a player who didn’t make the All-Star roster.

8. Brett Favre: 1991 Topps Stadium Rookie

The error is not the Falcons jersey -- Favre was drafted by the Birds when he entered the NFL in 1991 -- but the misspelling of “Farve” -- or, as Ben Stiller says in There's Something About Mary, "Farv-uh-ruh-uh-uh."

7. Aurelio Rodriguez: 1969 Topps

At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with the card. They got the name, position and team right, so it’s ok, no? No. That's not Rodriguez, but a batboy named Leonard Garcia.


6. Derek Jeter: 2007 Topps

Unlike a typical error card that mistakenly slips through mass printing with a typo or erroneous picture, this instance took the error card to a totally new level. The athlete, name and stats were completely accurate, but I doubt George W. Bush was chillin’ in the general stands, and it’d be pretty much impossible for Mickey Mantle to be in the clubhouse.





5. Hank Aaron: 1956 Topps

Although its value has more to do with the fact that it’s Hammerin’ Hank than anything else, wouldn't it be cool to own a Hank Aaron card where the player sliding into home in the background is actually Willie Mays?

4. Bump Wills: 1979 Topps

Although it’s not the first of its kind, this error card may have been the first to be referred to as a collector’s item due to the error. The original printing displayed him in his Rangers uniform, but Topps mistakenly had “Blue Jays” on the front of the card for his team name. They corrected the error midway through the season, which sparked a collector’s frenzy that actual garnered some moderate national exposure. In short, that card will always remain bigger than the actual player himself.


3. John Smoltz: 1990 Donruss

Similar to the Aurelio Rodriguez error, this was a Smoltz card without Smoltz. In his place was a young and smiling Tom Glavine. It’s kind of scary to think of the pitcher that would be created if you mixed these two future Hall of Famers. So, until science reaches that moment, this is the closest we’ll ever get.




2. Alex Gordon: 2006 Topps

Before Gordon played his first major league game, his rookie card was already one of the hotter commodities in recent years. Regardless of whether or not it was a legitimate error or a PR stunt, collectors were all over it, as it was a card that broke an agreement between MLB and the card manufacturers that said rookie cards could only be printed for players who played the previous year or made the 25-man roster. Since Gordon didn’t fulfill either of the two, it truly was a card that shouldn’t have existed. Topps caught the error in time to prevent mass printing of it, and that led to it being valued anywhere from $1,425 to $2,550.

1. Billy Ripken: 1989 Fleer

Far and away the most recognizable error card ever created. That’s right, you may remember Billy Ripken gripping a bat whose knob was infamously inscribed with the words “f**k face.” You might also remember the many different attempts by Fleer to correct the problem, which ranged from correction fluid to air brushing, and ultimately ended up with it being covered by a black box. The white out version is valued anywhere from $100 to $120, but truth be told, no one loves this card for its monetary worth, do they?

Via TheLoveOfSports.com

Wedding Dress Of The Day

Is this a new trend or something? This is the second one of these we've seen in the last month or two. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love classy affairs.

Thanks, Jim Tasker, for the pic. No, really. Thanks.


World's Creepiest Fan Of The Day (Video)

Warren Dean is a weatherman with CFSK-TV (Global TV network) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and, apparently, has at least one big fan. Until the guy cuts off Warren's head and mounts it on his wall.

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Vid Of The Day: Second Place Sucks

From Air Supply fan, TheMovieGuru.


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Via MagicHugs.com

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