A swimmer in the water is worth 2 on the beach - Gary Larson
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Joe Bob Briggs here, and I know you've all seen Jaws,
in fact, you may've even seen it the other DAY, since TNT didn't bother to
give "MonsterVision" the premiere of it. But let me tell you, we have got
all the inside poop here tonight, so I highly suggest you watch it again.
And then later we've got the excellent documentary on the Kennedy
assassination, "Four Days In November," and we'll be joined by the
director, Mel Stuart.
Do you ever get put on hold by somebody who's
calling you but hasn't talked to you yet? The phone rings. You pick it up.
You say hello. A voice says, "Mr. Briggs?" "Yeah." "Hold for Mr.
How could I be holding for Mr. Woods? I didn't call Mr.
Woods. I wasn't trying to talk to Mr. Woods. I was eating my Fudgsicle in
peace. But here I am, listening to the Walt Disney Studios "on hold" line,
which is playing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins,
which is making me grind my teeth, and I'm thinking to myself: "How could
I be on hold? I didn't CALL ANYBODY!"
Is this just an El Lay thing
or is it everywhere? Because it seems to be happening all the time.
Somebody wants to talk to you, but they don't call you. They have SOMEBODY
ELSE call you. And then when THAT person, who has nothing to say to you,
gets you on the line, you're put on hold and the Fake Calling Person goes
in search of the Real Calling Person, and after a little while a voice
"Joe Bob, how the hell are you?"
"Well, I would be
okay, but I'VE BEEN ON HOLD FOR TWO MINUTES."
All right, I'm gonna
remain calm. I'm gonna try to figure this out. This is a Big Shot that's
calling, right? This is a person who has an assistant. (Everybody has
"assistants." Nobody has a secretary. There is no longer any such job as
secretary. It doesn't exist. Or is that an El Lay thing, too?)
my question is: How does it save any time for the Big Shot to have the
assistant make the call? Just exactly what task does the Big Shot expect
to perform during the THREE SECONDS it takes the assistant to dial my
number? Here's Mr. Big Shot sitting at his desk. He has a LOT of calls to
make, so let's get started. "Brenda, get Joe Bob on the phone." While
she's doing that, he has a little extra time to . . . uh . . . I don't
know . . . maybe make another call? Is that what's happening? He figures
he'll make ANOTHER call, then when I come on the line, I'll have to wait
two minutes while he finishes that call, but then I'll be raring to go. He
won't lose that valuable three seconds BETWEEN the two phone calls. And
what if Mr. Big Shot is calling ANOTHER Mr. Big Shot? "Brenda, get Wilson
on the line." So Brenda calls Wilson, but Wilson doesn't pick up. Instead,
Wanda picks up. Wanda is the assistant for Wilson. So Brenda says, "Mr.
Big Shot calling for Mr. Wilson." And then Wanda says, "Hold for Mr.
Wilson." And then what's Brenda supposed to do? Does she hand the phone to
Mr. Big Shot or hold for Mr. Wilson herself? If Brenda and Wanda were BOTH
determined to stay on the line until the OTHER Big Shot came on, you could
have a Mexican Assistant Standoff, with such scintillating conversation as
"Please hold," and "I'm already holding, but I want Mr. Wilson to hold,"
and "Mr. Wilson won't hold until Mr. Big Shot holds" and "Maybe we can
make the switch at the same moment." I'd like to see that.
of Big Shots, that's exactly what we have tonight in "Jaws," and I don't
mean Steven Spielberg, I mean the shark. Bruce, they named it, after
Spielberg's lawyer. Do I have even have to describe the plot for this one?
Big shark terrorizes tourist trap, makes water too bloody for swimming.
Three drunk guys go a-hunting. Spielberg bought a house in Malibu after he
made it, and it even took HIM years to go back in the water, that's how
convincing it was. Here are those drive-in totals:
bodies. Two dead sharks. One dead dog. Boat chomping. Raft
chomping. Skinny-dipper chomping. Corpse-eating crabs. Bloody
fish dumping. Beer chugging. Radio bashing. Exploding seafood.
38 gallons of blood.
Check it out--it'll
still scare the living daylights outta you. [fading] What would happen if
the next time the phone rang and somebody said: "Joe Bob Briggs? Hold for
Mr. Woods," I just said: "No. I want Mr. Woods to hold for ME." What would
happen? What exactly would Brenda do? What if I said, "Tell him I'm
putting this line on hold, but I'll pick it up again in two minutes"?
Cause if I'm holdin, these El Lay guys are gonna start holdin, too, you
know what I mean?"
"Jaws" Commercial Break #1
"Jaws," the movie that made
midnight skinny-dipping a thing of the past, from Maui to Myrtle Beach.
That was a stuntwoman playing the part of first victim, cause they didn't
think an actor could handle being tugged under the water like that. And
yes, she WAS nekkid. When they looked at the dailies of what they'd shot
from the shark's point of view, everybody was really embarrassed cause it
was like twenty minutes of her himminahommina, and Spielberg had to sit
there and swear the shots would get darker. Which, unfortunately, they
Okay, the Academy Award-winning score by John Williams--probly
one of the few film composers who've become household words--has already
come into play. When you hear that sound, the shark's around. How many
times do you guys think John Williams has been nominated for an Oscar?
Well, I'll tell you. 33. And he's won five times. I'm sorry, but I'm
impressed. All right, let's get back to the flick. Roll
[fading] Everybody always says John Williams stole the "Jaws"
riff. But nobody knows exactly from where. Some say it's from Stravinsky's
Rite of Spring. Some say it's from Dominic Frontiere's score to the TV
movie "Fer-de-lance." But my favorite claim is that he stole it from Russ
Meyer's film "Vixen," which was basically about women with fabulously
large garbonzas. I may have to watch that film again to check on that. I
may have to watch it twice."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #2
"Jaws" sneak-previewed right here
in Dallas on March 26, 1975 at the Medallion Theater. Steven Spielberg was
so nervous that he stood in the back instead of taking his seat. So he's
standing back there, and when the boy on the raft gets eaten by the shark,
this guy in the audience gets up and RUNS for the door. So Spielberg
thinks his career is over, that people are RUNNING out of the theater. But
instead of leaving, the guy THROWS UP in the lobby, goes to the bathroom,
and goes back to his seat. And I believe it, cause I just felt a little
queasy as I was watching that scene--all that blood gushing everywhere,
and frothing up onto the shore. Yay-uh. Anyhow, that's when Spielberg knew
they had a hit. And he was right--"Jaws" has made 470 million big ones
since it opened.
All right, this movie was so riddled with
production problems that they nicknamed it "Flaws," but we'll talk about
that in a little while. Right now, let's get back to it.
[fading] The movie studio delayed the release of "Jaws" till
the beginning of beach season. How mean is that? We need to get some of
those folks working on THIS show."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #3
"All right, since we didn't have
any dead bodies in that last part, let's talk about the Hell everyone went
through to make this movie. The guy who wrote the book, Peter Benchley,
had written a film script, but Spielberg didn't like it much. And he
didn't like any of the other rewrites. And he thought he could just hire a
shark wrangler to make a great white do a few pirouettes in the water, but
then he realized he had to BUILD a shark. Which he and George Lucas
managed to BREAK the first time they went to look at it. Before they even
started shooting, Spielberg was trying to figure out how to get himself
off the picture short of dying. But he went ahead, and started out with a
budget of 3.5 million and a shooting schedule of 55 days up in Martha's
Vineyard. When Bruce made his ocean debut--remember, that's the shark--he
sank. During his second test in the water, his hydraulic system exploded.
Then the jaws wouldn't close right. Then the tail would move to the left
and just stay there, and the shark would be dragged like a 26-foot turd
thought the water. Then they'd look at the dailies the next day, and the
shark's eyes would be crossed. The current kept changing. The generator
was stolen off the set. They'd chosen the location in the middle of
winter, when no one was there, but when they shot the film in July, all
these boats kept sailing right up to the camera to see what all the fuss
was about. Universal wanted to write the boats into the movie, but
Spielberg said what kinda menace is there gonna be if there's a family of
four right there having a picnic on their sailboat? Then there was the
problem of the ocean and the sky constantly changing. But he and the
editor, Verna Fields, figured no one would be detached enough to notice
that. And you know what? He was right again. I'd have to watch REAL close
to tell you which shots have clouds in em and which don't. Spielberg
planned to show the shark three times as much, but all the problems with
the mechanics made him go more Hitchcock the-less-you-see-the-more-you-get
instead of Japanese Saturday matinee horror flick. Okay, have I talked
enough? Roll the film--Spielberg moment coming up.
[fading] By the
way, the final budget ended up being ten million dollars, which is nothing
by today's standards, but it was WAY over the 3.5 mil they started out
with. And they went from a 55-day schedule to 159 days--five and half
MONTHS of the shark flipping upside-down while Canadian tourists pointed
and laughed. Okay, now I'm done."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #4
"Oh, man, that head in the bottom
of the boat gets me every time. I KNOW it's coming, I'm READY for it, and
I STILL jump outta my seat when it pops into the frame like that. When
they previewed "Jaws" before it came out, the audiences screamed when they
saw that, but Spielberg re-shot the scene in the editor's swimming pool
cause he wanted em to SCREAM LOUDER.
Okay, everybody knows Richard
Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw, more or less--maybe we'll talk a
little bit about them later--but I do wanna point out that the woman
playing Roy Scheider's wife is Lorraine Gary, also known as Mrs. Sidney
Sheinberg. Sidney Sheinberg is the guy who gave Steven Spielberg his first
job. But Steven ended up in a pinch when one of the guys who'd given him
THIS job, Richard Zanuck, told HIS wife she had a good shot at the same
role. Anyway, for whatever reason, Lorraine Gary won out, and I like her a
lot. She's kinda saucy, you know? Okay, let's get back to the
[fading] What does she say earlier? "Wanna get drunk and
fool around?" You don't hear that too often anymore, do you? Now it's more
like, "Wanna get a mango iced tea and go have a blood test?" I don't know,
something's just been kinda LOST."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #5
"There was a gruesome scene shot
for "Jaws" that never made it into the movie. When Roy Scheider's son
escapes the shark in that pond thingie, the shark originally comes after
the kid with the other guy still in his mouth, and the guy, who's barely
alive, pushes the kid out of the shark's way, heroically saving him. And
either it looked too real, or the shark's skin was peeling off, which it
was prone to do in the salt water. We'll never know. Okay, speaking of
peeling off, it's time for "Joe Bob's Advice to the Hopeless" [enters] and
I'd like to peel something off the TNT Mail Girl, if you know what I mean
and I think you do.
MAIL GIRL: You're just a master of the segway,
aren't you, Joe Bob?
I'm a master of all kinds of things. Why don't
we go away next weekend and I'll show you?
MAIL GIRL: Do you know
how to put up a tent?
We masters call it "pitching a
MAIL GIRL: Do you know how to hunt?
Best shot in the
MAIL GIRL: Do you know how to fish?
And fry it
up in a pan.
MAIL GIRL: Good. So you won't have to worry about
being bored all by yourself next weekend. Here's a letter from Brian and
Cris at Bellarmine High in San Jose, California.
"My best friend, Cris, and I were recently abducted by aliens
while watching your show. They interrogated us for hours on end because
they were researching why earthlings watch your show on a regular basis.
They became extremely agitated when we simply explained to them we were
sci-fi freaks and our sole purpose in life is to worship you, the Great
JBB and Reno (hubba,hubba!)."
Are you happy these guys didn't
mention YOU, Rusty?
MAIL GIRL: We Mail Girls take all compliments
"After hours of grueling interrogation, the alien
leader dissected our brains. After finding nothing, they replaced them.
However, I think they switched our brains around. I say this because when
my parents call me, I ignore them. My friend Cris is also doing my
homework and chores. Is this weird or what? We may need some intensive
therapy from Reno. Any advice?
"Fans to the end, "Brian and
Cris (or is it Cris and Brian) "Sophomores at Bellarmine, San Jose,
Well, first of all, Cris and/or Brian, you actually
paid attention to your parents BEFORE you were abducted? What kind of
teenagers are you? And what's this about homework and chores? I've heard
of homework, and I've heard of chores, but I've never heard of homework
AND chores. I can buy the whole alien thing, but you guys sound like you
were weird to BEGIN with. You escaped the anal probe, so count yourselves
lucky. Okay, speaking of lucky--I'm not gettin it, am I?
You ARE the master of the segway, but no, you're not gettin
"Jaws" Commercial Break #6
"There's a lot of drinkin in this
movie, isn't there? TNT Standards & Practices is probly spittin up
their chocolate milk right about now. They HATE it when people drink on
their network. Okay, the shark hunt is about to begin, so let's not hold
[fading] Psychiatrists try to pinpoint why people love
"Jaws" so much. Some of em theorize that people identify not with the
victims but with the killer shark, as a surrogate for their own
aggressions. Do we like that one? Nah. Other ones view the film as a
metaphor for the "helplessness and powerlessness" ordinary folk in the US
of A feel in their everyday lives. Enh. How bout this one: The shark and
the sea are symbols for primal fears buried deep in the collective
unconscious of all mankind. Lots of fancy lingo there, but I think it's
all a bunch of hooey. How bout it's just a great movie? Now who's smarter,
me or the guys with the fancy lingo who get paid a hundred and fifty bucks
an hour? I think I just answered that."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #7
"You're gonna need a bigger
boat." Lotta famous lines in this movie. One of the advantages of the
production shutting down a bunch of times cause of all the technical
problems is that the actors became this little repertory company. Roy
Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw would have dinner and improvise
scenes, and Carl Gottlieb--the writer Spielberg hired to do the final
draft--would write it all down. Then they'd shoot it the next day. I think
you can kinda see it in the movie, that they're friends. Or maybe I'm just
deluded by the power of suggestion. I don't know. Roll it.
You know that movie "All That Jazz" that Roy Scheider did a couple of
years after "Jaws"? Richard Dreyfuss was up for that part. Can you imagine
Richard Dreyfuss dancing around like a Broadway choreographer? Course, now
that I think about it, it'd be pretty tough to imagine Roy Scheider doin
that either if I hadn't seen it myself. Roy Scheider, featured in "Jaws,"
"Klute," "Marathon Man," "The French Connection," and, of course, his
debut film and best work of all, "The Curse of the Living Corpse."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #8
"That was so fast I barely had
time to shake it off. Dang. Okay, you're probly tired of talking about
"Jaws," but how can we not acknowledge the great Robert Shaw USS
Indianapolis story? You know how many people claim credit for writing that
speech? John Milius, the guy who wrote and directed the immortal Red
Dawn which we showed here a few months back, is on the list. He claims to
have come up with the idea and says he dictated the speech over the phone
to someone. Carl Gottlieb, the writer on the set, says Robert Shaw--who
was also a novelist and a playwright--wrote it. Spielberg says a guy named
Howard Sackler came up with the idea, John Milius wrote an 8-page speech,
and Robert Shaw cut it down to five. But my favorite part of the story is
that when they shot it, Robert Shaw asked Spielberg if he could have a
drink so he could "be the scene." And then he showed up plastered and he
forgot all his lines and Spielberg had to send him home. And Steve gets a
call at three a.m. from Shaw saying "Can I do it again tomorrow?" And the
next day--one, two takes--he does the most famous speech in the flick. All
right, let's go.
[fading] Well, what do you guys WANT me to talk
about? You people can handle eleven months of Monica Lewinski, but I can't
talk about one of the biggest movies in history for an hour and a half?
Get outta here."
"Jaws" Commercial Break #9
"Okay, the engine has burned out,
the Orca is sinking, and Robert Shaw bludgeoned the radio to death an hour
ago. Okay, who knows why Spielberg is the king of the world? Jim Cameron
can kiss his butt. Because who do I believe more, Leonardo DiCaprio and
Kate Winslet, curvaceous as she is, or the three guys on the Orca? I
shouldn't say anything bad about Jim Cameron, though. Maybe he's some big
philanthropist, giving millions to save the hairy-bellied manatee or
something. Or maybe he had a troubled childhood, and battled learning
disabilities to become the success he is. Or maybe he's gonna give me my
next job when TNT finally fires my butt. I love you, Jim. Okay, big, BIG
conclusion to "Jaws." Roll it.
[fading] Not that I think TNT has
any REASON to fire my butt. I love you, too, Ted."
"I cannot BELIEVE what TNT just did! They cut
out 90 percent of Robert Shaw getting gobbled by the shark! There's at
least a couple of minutes of his legs getting chomped, and him screaming,
and then the shark chomps right on his stomach and all this blood comes
GUSHING out of his mouth. They cut it down to, like, two seconds. I am NOT
happy about this.
Okay, well, I'm gonna have to bring it down a
little and get serious anyway, cause next we have the excellent 1965
documentary, "Four Days in November," but first I wanna remind you that
next week, we have the yummy Christina Applegate in Don't Tell Mom the
Babysitter's Dead, followed by "MonsterVision" classic Deadly
I'm Joe Bob Briggs, and it's now officially November 22nd,
so we have a special presentation marking the 35th anniversary of the
Kennedy assassination. Since I've spent much of my life in Dallas, and
even worked as a journalist in Dallas, I can't ever remember a November
the 22nd going by without all kinds of hoopla--articles, and
reminiscences, and lame conspiracy theories, and memorial services, and
umpteen jillion newspaper columns--and one of the things that has endured
over the years is the documentary we're gonna watch now. This is actually
one of the few documentaries in history that was released in theaters. It
was put together quickly--it came out less than a year after the
assassination, and in most cities it was used to commemorate the one-year
anniversary of JFK's death. It's called "Four Days in November." And the
curious thing about it is that almost every American has already seen at
least 50 per cent of the footage in it, and yet it still has an incredible
power, when you see it all in one place. The producer and director of the
film, Mel Stuart, is gonna join me at the first break--so we'll be able to
learn a little more than your average bear about how the film was put
together. And then later on in the presentation tonight, we'll also be
joined by an old buddy of mine, Bob Porter, who's been a reporter in
Dallas for 35 years--he was part of the team at the Dallas Times Herald
that put together the first edition that hit the streets after the
assassination, he knew Jack Ruby very well, and he's spent the past few
years putting together an oral history project about the assassination. At
any rate, this is a powerful film--much more powerful than "JFK," to use a
ridiculous example, and really the place you have to start if you're ever
gonna understand what the assassination did to the country. Many people
think the world was never quite the same after the events of November 22,
1963, and after watching "Four Days in November" you're liable to agree
with em. Let's run the film, and at the first break we'll meet Mel Stuart,
the filmmaker, and you guys at the frat houses--easy on the brewskis from
here on out, okay? You just might LEARN somethin. You guys! Okay, go ahead
and roll the film.
[fading] Ted made a special request--no jokes
about the Kennedy assassination. We have this wonderful solemn historical
film, and THEY DON'T TRUST ME to treat it with respect. My OWN network. My
OWN family. It hurts, you know?"
"Jaws" reviewed by a guy stuck in space with 2 robots
"Jaws" was named one of "TV Guide's 50 DVD's You Must Have" in the November 30, 2002 issue
Two weeks after airplanes flew into the World Trade Center towers in New York, Peter Hessler says in New Yorker magazine that the Chinese Communist government-run Xinhua publishing house in Beijing issued a DVD "The Century's Great Catastrophe" containing pirated footage from ABC News and even American movies: the theme from "Jaws" is heard as the north tower collapses in slow motion. The Chinese government officially expressed solidarity against terrorists though, and city air-raid sirens were tested for the first time since a past tense period with Taiwan - an Islamic minority near the Afghan border in China has been increasingly violent in recent years and could get ideas...
"Why be boring? Have some fun. Rock shows should be like movies: I don't go to a movie hoping it'll change my life. When I saw 'Jaws 3' (1983), it wasn't a great movie, but it was worth the seven bucks to see the shark eat the helicopter. It was a wonderful waste of time."
The quote at the top of this page was the punchline of a rejected "Farside" cartoon. I don't know why it was rejected. Who could possibly be offended by that? Well, maybe someone who lost half a boyfriend to a shark attack. But as the Cryptkeeper once said, "Half a boyfriend is better than none!"