Ranting

How cool is that?

March 9th, 2017

Elvis is in it, and his momma and Vernon and all them, even Colonel Parker. Jerry Lee is in it, too, and Johnny and Carl and B.B., even Ike Turner. Sam Phillips is in it, and Marion Keisker and Dewey Philips, even a Merrymobile man.

And something else is in it, too, that’s in all of them. In the sweat. In the grease in the hair and the swagger in the walk and the swirl in the skirt. In the rawness of the talent and the place. In the heavy beat in the heavy air. In the feeling that something is going to happen because something has to because this isn’t enough.

Memphis is in it. And that’s cool.

It’s time we starred in something again.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, March 10, 2017, and in The Memphis News, March 11-17, 2017

Sun Records

COOL ON CAMERA

In an earlier column, I recalled that Meg Ryan once walked by my house when I was on the porch and waved. After all, she and Dennis Quaid lived right down the street. 

Come on, how cool is that?

They were here making Great Balls of Fire, and in addition to renting a house a few doors down, they were shooting the movie right below my office window, closing off the block between me and Sun Studio, and filling the street with vintage cars including one very sweet 1955 Thunderbird.

Meg and Dennis have since broken up and it was a really lousy movie, but how cool is that?

I once stood in Court Square to watch them shoot The Firm when two guys walked up beside me – Gene Hackman and Tom Cruise. I once turned my ad agency over to a movie crew to shoot scenes for A Woman’s Story.

Gene, Tom and I were never tight and A Woman’s Story was another really lousy movie, but how cool is that?

Those were just bit parts in a few magic years a couple of decades ago when Memphis seemed to be in the bright klieg lights of the movies – The Firm, The Client and The Rainmaker, The People vs. Larry Flynt and 21 Grams, Cast Away and Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan and more, and more big stars were showing up here than show up on the roof of the Sharpe Planetarium.

And just as other states noticed and turned on their incentives, Tennessee turned out the lights. We didn’t give it back to California and New York; we gave it away to Louisiana and Georgia. We’ve seen this movie before. Even a series named Memphis Beat was shot in Louisiana.

Thank God Memphis Beat was awful because that was not cool at all.

But now comes Sun Records, an ambitious CMT series about rock n’ roll’s labor room and all the babies, and all shot right here. Based on what I’ve seen so far, two episodes, the writing is still a bit stiff and the characters are feeling their way but the production values are outstanding. You can feel the beat of Memphis in the fifties, see it cooked into the buildings and scenes, and hear it in the hopes of kids who will become giants.

You can see the stark DNA of cool in this city, and how cool is that?

Our own state Senator Mark Norris played a starring role in bringing Sun Records to Memphis with state support, along with the tireless efforts of Linn Sitler, Memphis & Shelby County Film Commissioner and as much a part of what gets filmed here as the camera lens.

Maybe Sun Records will become August-in-Memphis hot and make this city a hot location again, already a top-ten favorite for filmmakers when they get support. Maybe Senator Norris can get this location-rich state to wake up and smell the popcorn.

I’m a Memphian, and how cool is that?

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