Classic definition: Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind; i.e. “a classic novel” — A work of art of recognized and established value. This is a definitely a title befitting of the FX television series “American Horror Story.” Created and executive produced by Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, who brought the TV viewing public “Glee” and “Nip/Tuck,” the show is in its fourth FUNKY season and was recently greenlit for a Funkalicious fifth.
What prompted this blog, is more of a personal nature, spawned out of my love for film and entertainment. A child of the 60s, there’s a multitude of All-Time Classic films, that preceded my existence. As a youth growing up in the 70s, my fascination for film, exceeded my total understanding of the subject matter for several. Among them are flicks like “Shaft,” “The Godfather,” “Lady Sings the Blues,” and “Midnight Cowboy.” Admittedly, my initial intrigue for them were the titles alone, THE GODFATHER… LADY SINGS THE BLUES… MIDNIGHT COWBOY, they just sounded exciting. I had no idea what ‘The Godfather” was about, but the poster was dope; I knew Blues was a genre and that the lady from The Supremes was in it; for all I knew, “Midnight Cowboy” was a western. Years pass and I eventually see “Shaft,” ‘Godfather’ and ‘Lady Sings,’ the latter two innumerable times — now favorites, I own them both — but somehow never caught “Midnight Cowboy” in its entirety. In recent years it was available on Netflix, meant to watch and didn’t, this month it’s on HBO.go — I finally saw it top to bottom. In music and in film, I’m one who takes note of the credits. I see the name Jennifer Salt as a cast member. I think, “Isn’t that the woman who’s one of the EP’s and writers for “American Horror Story”? I research her via one of my favorite websites imdb, and discover, it is in fact the same person. I also see that her mom and dad are of old school Hollywood.
The daughter of screenwriter Waldo Salt and actress Mary Davenport, the style and flavor of “American Horror Story,” is in her DNA. Waldo at one point, was considered a communist and among those blacklisted, during the “Red Scare.” He wrote the screenplay for ‘Cowboy’ and “Serpico,” which stars Al Pacino, in one of his first critically acclaimed roles. Davenport was in the Brian DePalma movies “Sister” and “Dressed To Kill.” All four of these films were considered either controversial, groundbreaking or eye-opening for their subject matter, and are now definitive classics. Jennifer appeared in ‘Cowboy’ as the love interest of Jon Voight’s character “Joe Buck.” She’s raped in the movie — emotionally and mentally distraught from the attack — she’s taken to an ‘Asylum’. “Asylum” is the sub-title of season three for ‘Horror Story’.
My mom actually met Al Pacino shortly after the success of “Serpico.” I can remember her coming home telling me and showing me his autograph. Young and unaware of why this could be exciting for the average lay person, I essentially asked her what’s the big deal. She proceeded to explain that it wasn’t necessarily important, but basically something cool, which naturally came to make sense to me. This was one of my first in-direct encounters with the dynamics of “Celebrity.” My mom had a premonition then, of what would interest me later, and was my biggest advocate to pursue creative writing. I’ve never met Pacino, but I attended a performance of the play “Master Class,” in the 2011 revival of the Terrence McNally classic that starred Tyne Daly — Pacino was also in the audience — that’s the closest I’ve ever physically been to him. Side Note: Oscar winner Meryl Streep is set to star as ‘Maria Callas’ in an HBO adaptation of “Master Class,’ scheduled to start filming in January 2015. The original production won the 1996 Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actress and Best Featured Actress. Zoe Caldwell played ‘Callas’, and Audra McDonald was the student performing, during one of the diva’s ‘master classes.’
Jennifer on her dad from imdb: “As I got older I really began to appreciate the work my father did when he was in his prime. I would watch the films he wrote the screenplays for, read the notations and changes he made in his scripts, etc. It became very interesting. I began to think a great deal about it. I realized that the process of writing is what it is all about. If you have a terrible script even the best director can’t save the project. Writing is so inspiring. For me it isn’t unlike a sculptor creating a work of art, or a painter creating anything he can imagine on a canvas.” An award winning series starring Jessica Lange, the show and actress are Emmy Award winners. Lange has also won a Golden Globe and SAG award for her performance. Although the cast incorporates different thespians each season, Lange and Evan Peters are mainstays. Other actors for the series have included Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson and Emma Roberts. Now six episodes in for ‘Horror Story’ ala “Freak Show,” I’m looking forward to the next episode, and Falchuk & Murphy have landed another show. Last month, it was announced that they would produce a companion series to ‘Horror Story’, titled “American Crime Story.” Murphy will direct the first installment of the first season. Like ‘Horror Story’, each season of the new show, will be an anthology. ‘Crime Story’s’ first season is subtitled, “The People vs. O. J. Simpson,” and will depict the lives of those connected with the court case.
Since the first season of “American Horror Story,” I’ve loved how the series has dramatized and drawn on aspects of “Urban Myths,” and actual American history. Below are links for some of the inspirations of the show’s stories:
Real American Horror for “Murder House” http://horrornews.net/68517/top-10-true-story-based-horror-movies/
Real American Horror for “Asylum” http://www.denofgeek.us/tv/american-horror-story-asylum/55915/10-facts-behind-american-horror-story-asylum
Real American Horror for “Coven” http://deepsouthmag.com/2014/01/the-real-madame-lalaurie-other-legends-from-american-horror-story-coven/
Real American Horror for “Freak Show” http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Real-People-From-American-Horror-Story-Freak-Show-35779436
for the LOVE of trivia and the FUNK of the macabre