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Thursday, August 4, 2011
THE STORY BEHIND SCRAPPED 'DANCING' VIDEO
SPRINGSTEEN WALKED OUT AFTER DISCUSSION WITH CINEMATOGRAPHER
Stephen Pitalo, a music video historian, has a terrific blog called The Golden Age Of Music Video. Today, he posted "The Untold Story Of Bruce Springsteen’s Original 'Dancing in the Dark' Music Video." Pitalo spoke with Daniel Pearl, the award-winning cinematographer who shot the abandoned footage, and also with Jeff Stein, the director. Stein takes absolutely no credit for directing this video, however, telling Pitalo, "I love Bruce, and I had nothing to do with it. I usually take the blame, but not for that (laugh).” And when you read Pearl's story, you'll understand why (click the link above to read the original story in all its glory-- I'm just going to kind of summarize it here). Pearl says that it was Stein's idea to have Springsteen dancing in a completely dark space. When Springsteen appeared, Pearl saw that he had been working out and looked very manly, so he lit him very hard, "and just really chiseled him with light," he told Pitalo. Springsteen, nervous about creating a hit after his sparse release Nebraska, suggested a big silk lighting filter that reminded Pearl of the way he had shot Stevie Nicks. According to Pearl, he told Springsteen, "You’re not a pussy, you’re quite the opposite. You’re super manly here. I can’t light you like I would light a woman." Springsteen responded that that was what he wanted, and Stein suggested trying it Pearl's way. After shooting a few takes, Pearl told Pitalo, Springsteen went to the green room and never came back. Pearl blamed himself, and for years and years, avoided working with Springsteen. But that story has a twist ending that I won't reveal here-- read it here.

Posted by Geoff at 8:48 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, August 4, 2011 8:48 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
SPRINGSTEEN 'DANCING' FOOTAGE SURFACES
REJECTED CONCEPT LED TO DE PALMA'S INVOLVEMENT

The above video shows three takes from an early concept for Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark video, directed by Jeff Stein. As Billboard reported back in 1984, Stein's concept was rejected by Springsteen, who then hired Brian De Palma to work on it. Note that the version prior to De Palma did not feature any scene where the singer picks a girl from the crowd to come up onstage and dance with the star. It seems likely that this was De Palma's idea, as he had wanted to include something along those lines, albeit more elaborate, in the unproduced Fire, a rock-themed film he had written around that time that was based on Jim Morrison. In De Palma's version of the video (see below), Springsteen keeps some of the Stein video's dance moves, which in the Stein version seem kind of like John Mellencamp channeling Olivia Newton-John by way of Loverboy. Really, though, I think Springsteen was attempting to channel some kind of Elvis spirit, and in the De Palma video, Springsteen's look seems to harken back to the fifties and sixties, with just a subtle silky hint of Prince, who was making it big with Purple Rain around the time the video was filmed in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Meanwhile, setting up the big dance scene at the end, De Palma throws in an early shot from the point of view of the girl (Courtney Cox). At one point, he shows Springsteen facing the camera with the crowd of thousands behind him. In keeping with the purpose of the genre of the music video, De Palma keeps the focus on his star, but can't help the subtle nod to the audience, even placing some of them behind the stage to cheer on this oddly cheerful Dionysian figure, maybe not starting fires, but working up a spark, nonetheless.


Posted by Geoff at 12:26 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 12:28 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 13, 2010
COX'S META MOMENT
COUGAR TOWN ACTRESS REVISITS DANCING WITH SPRINGSTEEN
ABC's Wednesday night comedy block already paid homage to Brian De Palma earlier this year when, on an episode of Modern Family, a baby was calmed by watching Scarface. Following that, a late-season episode of ABC's Cougar Town, which stars Courteney Cox, paid homage to the De Palma-directed Bruce Springsteen video Dancing In The Dark, which starred a then-unknown Courteney Cox. In an article about the possibility of Cox receiving an Emmy nod for her work on the show, The Envelope's Glenn Whipp refers to this "meta moment," and quotes from Cox and the show's co-creator Bill Lawrence:

"I think people think she's just a personality playing an extension of herself when, in fact, she's not like the people she's playing," Lawrence says. "Courteney is beautiful. It looks easy for her. She doesn't seem like an underdog. She doesn't get as much credit for working as hard as she has."

That point hit home for Lawrence in the late-season "Cougar Town" episode when Jules' teen son flips through her old high school yearbook and comes across a picture of Mom onstage dancing with Bruce Springsteen. It's a meta moment, recalling the actual Brian De Palma-directed music video that had Cox, then 20, playing a fan pulled on stage to go dancing in the dark with the Boss.

"If people remember that young girl super-excited to get a part where she grabs Bruce Springsteen's hand and dances like an idiot, they'd see her in a different light," Lawrence says. "She has had to fight, just like everyone else."

Cox has a slightly different take, not about the fighting or the dancing "like an idiot" part, but about using the clip in the first place.

"I thought it was too wink-wink, but Bill convinced me to do it, and he was right," Cox says, laughing. "I fought it because I knew I'd have to watch the video again. I looked it up on YouTube right before we shot the scene. Can I just say one thing to get it out there? I'm a much better dancer now."

Below is a transcript of the scene from the episode called Breakdown, as pictured in this post:

Jules: Oh, you got your yearbook.

Travis: Besides my senior photo, there’s like one picture of me, and it’s with Mr. Goolsbey, the creepy woodshop teacher.

Jules: [laughs] Why do you have your hands on his breasts?

Travis: Because I was pretending to push him into the bandsaw, but they cropped that part out.

Jules: Bummer for you, dude. What happened to Mr. I-don’t-care-about-high-school?

Travis: What was I supposed to say? I didn’t make any mark at all.

Jules: The only thing that matters is that you got through it. It’s not like I made some big splash in high school.

Travis: Really!? Because I got your yearbook…

Jules: [nervous laughter] Well, we don’t need to look through that, I mean, I’m barely in it.

Travis: [opening book] Look—inside cover, you as the prom queen.

Jules: Yeah, I got 98% of the vote, but, you know, whatever. And it’s only one thing. It doesn’t mean I was super cool.

Travis: Is this you dancing on stage with Bruce Springsteen?

Jules: Yeah, that was super cool. [she starts dancing like they did in the video]

Travis: [disgusted] Stop it.

Jules: [still dancing] I’m sorry. [she turns and dances out of the room]


Posted by Geoff at 10:25 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, June 13, 2010 10:27 PM CDT
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